Day 121 has seen 8 miles cycled and 7 miles walked.

It was the break in the weather we had all been praying for and my goodness what a day it was. A little chilly with the cold air drifting in from the East but glorious sunshine from dawn til dusk. We had seen it coming so I had managed to plan a day of challenge activity that would be taxing on the children but completely within their ability to complete while on their February half term. We were going to cycle the 4 miles to Dunblane Cathedral. Lock up the bikes and do the 7 mile Ashfield and Kinbuck by Allan Water walk before cycling the 4 miles back to Doune. Heather was up for it, especially when I informed her that it was going to be sunny, but James was wanting to go and help his friend David on the farm. Who was I to stand in the way of a full day running about on a farm in the sunshine doing something he loves and seems to have an affinity for. The phone call made to Amanda, David’s Mum and all was set. A very excited and happy boy.

One of the views from Davids farm
One of the views from Davids farm

It was time for an early start so I was up and dressed by 0630hrs but as it was the holidays I left them asleep until 0730hrs while I had breakfast. By then however it was time to get up, get dressed, have breakfast, confirm that they had all their kit packed in their rucksacks then get on the bikes. I had made the packed lunches of tuna mayonnaise sandwiches, a flapjack and a veggie pick and mix bag each of tenderstem broccoli, carrots, tomatoes and red grapes, the night before so while all their preparation was going on I checked the bikes, pumped the tyres, oiled the chains and was relieved to see that the brakes and gears were all in good order. Checked their seat heights and we were nearly ready to go. I did a transfer of all my kit to an old but larger rucksack so I could fit all my cycle helmet and equipment in while walking. Incredibly we were all on our bikes and ready to go by 0915hrs and without even one cross word. The children were fantastic so off we set into the morning sun. Along the railway track for a mile or so to then cut off up a wee track and up to David’s farm. Amanda was there to meet us and as we waited for David to come back in to collect James and take him out to work James found himself invited to a farmer’s show in the Borders this evening before a sleep over. He was clearly over the moon with this plan as it meant that he got a break from Daddy’s cooking! As Heather and I turned to head off I spotted the fabulous view from the farm so snapped a few pictures before heading back down to the old railway line. Turned left and then cycled the 3 miles into Dunblane.

The beautiful picnic spot by the river
The beautiful picnic spot by the river

Once in Dunblane we locked up the bikes by the Cathedral and stripped off the high visibility tops and helmets. All packed away in our rucksacks we were good to go so I handed Heather the map with the route description. She was navigating. Heather protested a little but I reassured her that I knew roughly where we were going and that she was more than up for the task. And proven right I was. I had to provide a little reminder with regards to always thinking about the next step. What happens after we get to the fence line to be crossed? Because it meant that as the ground revealed itself in a manner adjusted from the original written description you were more likely to be able to read the ground in relation to the route authors original intention, relate it to the map and then make decisions as to the route to be taken that were more likely to be correct. We hit the classic example of just such a quandary when we came across an area of flooding that was unpassable on foot. Heather was thinking ahead so in a perfect position to make a quick and very sensible decision from the map as to which way to turn. Brilliant. A couple of flyers were handed out on route and then we hit Ashfield and on the other side stopped for lunch by the Allan Water. We had a wonderful time sat in the sunshine as we ate our lunches watching the river flow gently by. A heron flying off in the distance and red kites passing over head looking for food. But then a cloud blocked the sun. It suddenly became very cold so we pushed on for Kinbuck. A quick pea stop in the Kinbuck auctioneers but then pushed on again. Walking and talking. Reminiscing about all the things Heather could remember from all the various places that we had lived. All the great friends she had made, some of whom she has managed to keep in contact with, all the great things we have been lucky enough to do and all the funny things that happened, many of which of course involved Daddy doing something stupid!! Heather proved to have an astoundingly accurate memory from quite far back and it was a lovely trip down memory lane. On that trip up memory lane we were talking about Heather learning to ride at Drumbrae Stables and as we did so we found ourselves hard on the heels of a Gipsy Cob. The lady leading her puled her over to let us pass as she was being a little feisty, unnerved by these two suspicious looking characters out walking behind her! Heather and I stopped to thank the lady and say hello. I immediately discovered that Laura was not only a really lovely person but that the Cob Jo was mischevious as he tried to nip my jacket as I rubbed his muzzle and that Laura’s Rottweiler Murphy was the biggest softie you have ever come across. As I scratched Murphy’s flank, him leaning his whole body against my leg, and Jo skittered about next to Laura I stole the opportunity to hand Laura a flyer and invite her to enjoy a glass of wine with a video. Jo had stood still long enough and Heather was getting cold so we bade farewell and cracked on. On we walked eventually arriving in Dunblane. It was a lovely 7 miles walked but as we closed in on the Cathedral over the Faery Bridge and up the river Heather asked me to slow down as she was getting tired. Heather had navigated us around the 7 miles route with barely a need to intervene and had now covered 11 miles so far in total today. I was going to spoil her before asking her to ride another 4 miles back to Doune.

Laura and her skittish cob Jo
Laura and her skittish cob Jo

I took Heather into the Dun Bhlathain (pronounced Dun Flahan) in which I had last been on Day 79 in Dunblane for a hot chocolate and a flapjack. A little energy to get her home. They could not do lactose free hot chocolate so Heather went for a peppermint tea as something hot to warm her up with a warm scone, jam and cream. No flapjacks for a scone and a decaf Mocha for me. As we ate out scones we talked about embarrassing Dads in which Heather insisted that even if I was John Travolta I would still be an embarrassing Dad because it doesn’t matter who you are. All Dad’s are embarrassing. As she said this the peppermint tea took effect and Heather, without warning let out a rather noisy fart!! There had been a small child crying in the stall behind us. He stopped crying and in the silence Heather started laughing while at the same time doing a seal impression. I couldn’t contain myself and started laughing too. We were laughing so hard we couldn’t stop until tears were streaming down our faces and we were short of breath. Embarrassing Dads. Really!! Are Dads aloud to have embarrassing daughters!!?! I paid up and we decided to crack on before being asked to leave but as Heather got her bike clothes back on I handed over a flyer and invited the lovely waitress to enjoy a glass of wine with a video this evening.

Back on the bikes and we wiggled our way back over the faery bridge, up through Dunblane, over the A9 and onto the muddy farm track that runs along the ridge before turning off for Argaty and the old railway line back in to Doune. Heather led the way and did really well. Before we knew it we were home. I cleaned and lubricated the bikes while Heather had a well earned bath. I then scrubbed my boots, unpacked my kit before a good shower and started on tea. Mexican Sausage Tacos. Easy and delicious. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Heather today and took great pleasure from spending time with her, teaching her some new skills, showing her what she was capable of and learning more about the way she ticks. As I finished an after tea orange and Heather packed some of the plates and glasses in to the dishwasher for me my phone vibrated. It was an email from my sister. My new Nephew Archie, at 2 weeks old, had received his new present from the children and I. A pair of blue booties with Highland Cows on the front of each one. They were fantastic to find hand made here in the village and with it I wrote him a card in which I felt it appropriate to give him his first piece of advice from his Uncle and to give him my his first blessing from me.

Another good day with no seizure. Marvellous.

The challenge so far in numbers in total since the start:
Days completed: 121
Total Miles Cycled: 635
Total Miles Walked: 602.5
Total Miles Run: 38.2
Total Miles Paddled: 7
Total Distance Cycled, Skied, Ran and Rowed in the gym: 23.3
Total Distance Swum: 1,620 metres
Total Miles covered under own steam.1,307.5
Total Height Gained under own steam: 31,973 feet
Mountains Climbed: 5
Hills Climbed: 18
Days of Voluntary Activity: 6.5
Organ tunes learnt and performed: 5
Salmon Caught: 0!
Curling Matches played in: 6
Curling stones placed on the button (the centre of the target): 1
Weight Training Sessions: 9
Aerobic Circuit Sessions: 6
Press Ups: 296
Pull Ups: 69
Sit Ups: 296
People Met and Hands Shaken: 364
Pots of tea shared: 25
Prayers joined on the top of a hill: 2
Prayers joined in the street!: 4
Prayers joined in a Train Station: 1
Prayers joined in a Café: 1
Pills popped: 530
Days until Driving Licence (lost to epilepsy) possibly Returned: 724
And most important of all – Money Raised as at Day 112 – £6,050.77

Considering I started this challenge 22 weeks ago very quietly with no target beyond a fiver, thanks to the brilliant advice from a friend of mine, I am absolutely thrilled and again thank you all. That is £54.02 for each and every day that I have managed to find the will and energy to do something worthwhile and my goodness it has been worth it for my peace of mind, for my healing and for the five wonderful charities you are supporting through your generosity. Long may it continue. May I also ask however that if you are not sponsoring me to please consider it for as much or as little as you can afford. My rate of revenue raising has slowed from £70.00 a day to £60.00 a day to £54.02 a day so please sponsor me and encourage your friends to as well.

Thank you all for your incredible comments and support. Please continue to spread the word.
If you see me around do please give a cheery hello and shake my hand or toot your horn and give a cheery wave to show your support and encourage me on.

Thank you for joining me on my own personal journey and encouraging me to walk, cycle, climb, paddle, sport and do good deeds each day to ‘Beat the Beast’ while helping to improve the lives and life chances of so many more people through sponsorship. The Five Charities that I have selected to support are:

  1. Cancer Research UK – My Father Succumbed to Lung Cancer; a couple of friends are currently fighting cancer and I am fighting a brain tumour. Let’s Help to Beat Cancer Sooner.
  2. The Prince’s Trust – Inspiring and preparing disadvantaged Young Lives for success.
  3. British Red Cross – helping those in need around the UK and the world whoever and wherever they are.
  4. World Wide Fund for Nature – For a Living Planet and a Future Where People and Nature Thrive.
  5. Help for Heroes – Support for our Wounded and their Families. To learn more about my story that brought me to this point, how I plan to ‘Beat the Beast’, what activities I plan to do within the challenge and why, please see my welcome video on this page.

How to Sponsor Me

The Beat the Beast Challenge is self funding through my own contribution while keeping costs to a minimum with voluntary support and corporate sponsorship in kind. Therefore the entirety of every penny donated will go directly to the 5 charities listed above.

Please sponsor me by completing a standing order form either through your own personal internet banking or by completing a hard copy standing order form in your branch of your bank and then handing it in to the teller.

It is entirely up to you how much you would like to and are able to sponsor me for so do please give as much or as little as you can. Every penny will be very gratefully received.

While I hope you will encourage me to keep going by sponsoring me for every day I survive and am able to find the cognitive and physical capability to complete a day’s task designed to improve my chances of ‘Beating the Beast’ or improving the lives of others, 5 days a week, four weeks a month, for as long as ever I can. Any One off Cash contributions will be most gratefully received and distributed in exactly the same manner to the five charities as the sponsorship. Any one off donations can be made by BACS or cheque.

Thank you for having enough faith in me to sponsor me.

Yours aye