Day 127 has seen 2 miles walked, a pot of marmalade won, 3 miles run, a humorous slip, a near seizure, a plea for help and encouragement for the future journey as another journey was finishing.

This morning was another dry day and although there were no beautiful dawns it was a beautiful day in just being. In just existing. In inviting me to join with it. This was another day that the Lord had made and I was jolly well going to rejoice and be glad in it! So up I rose, washed, shaved, swallowed my pills and set off for a good 2 mile walk with my litter pickers on a route rarely trodden by the village but that revealed some interesting walls and other elements of construction long lost to the modernization of agricultural practices and the shifting of populations in to the villages and towns. Old Victorian structures long buried under over grown hedgerows and mud banks. Maybe some of the old structures dated from much earlier, from the days of the Castle when the village was nestled around it’s walls for protection and the provision of services to the castle occupants. Walls built to herd the cattle into pasture under the watchful eye of the castle away from cattle rustlers. I didn’t know but really enjoyed trying to engage the mind in the many different stories these half hidden walls could tell. As I returned to the flat up Main Street I was called into the house of Thea Taylor Milne. She wanted to thank me for picking up litter around the village and even though I explained that it was also for my benefit as a way of continually improving my balance she still presented me with a jar of homemade Marmalade. I loved Paddington Bear as a child and have, as a result, long held a pashion for marmalade which I have every day for breakfast but had run out the day before so this gift could not have been more appropriate or come at a better time. I was hugely thankful. Thank you Thea. I rushed home and had breakfast. And the Marmalade? Sublime. A very strong word for a jar of Marmalade but when you savour something that you know has been made for you by the loving hand of another it tastes that much more special. It is as if every bite contains a whole bundle of hugs, good wishes and blessings and prayers for your health. It was a most excellent Marmalade.

After breakfast saw my amateur attempts at recording my first audio visual reading for the website. The whole idea stemmed originally from a desire to make the passion and emotion of each day flow through from the written word of the post into the life of the blind. The amazing screen reading technology can read the post but to me, the passion and emotion is lost in the harsh electronic tones of the electronic voice. I wanted to tell them the story myself. As if I was stood there right in front of them. It was the courageous Sarah Jean Robinson who first inspired me to come up with this idea and I look forward to making it a reality. Not only to improve the quality of the experience on the journey with me for the blind but also for those who would prefer to watch and listen to the story rather than read it. Perhaps while on the bus or train or sick in bed or at home. My first reading was to be the background briefing which gives the story about how the challenge was born and was to introduce the daily posts which were to follow as the journey developed. After a couple of takes I eventually found the correct set up that made the sound and visual acceptable and had managed to do the whole 25 minutes of the reading with barely a hiccup. That was, being me, until the very last sentence. I meant to say ‘Thank you for joining me on my journey to Beat the Beast.’ What I actually said was ‘Thank you for joining me on my journey to Beat the Priest’!! The worse bit was that I only noticed it when I listened to the post to check it was okay. Thank goodness that I did! That was highly amusing but hugely frustrating all at the same time. There was nothing for it but to go for a run. 3 miles around the Wood of Doune and then the Castle tracing the river Teith all the way along before up round the castle, up into the village, across the park and back home. 3 Pull ups, 17 press ups and 17 situps followed by some stretching and a bath. I felt good. Really good. Lunch time and this time I was breaking from my usual. Today was chunky tomato soup and a club sandwich with loads of salad at the Buttercup Café. It was delicious. Thank you Mark. But by the time I finished there was little time for another attempt at a reading before having to stop to cook a light tea and eat it before heading across to the final night of our lent course on pilgrimage. My emails had stacked up over the morning and my InTray was still screaming at me so more admin needed doing. One of the things that needed doing was registering for the cricket season with the cricket club a part of which of course involves filling out the medical element for the club’s insurance policy. And as I did so I gained much encouragement from what could have been a bleak entry on the medical section.

I could have written:

Epilepsy fizzing away, Chlosteatoma so balance rubbish, Grade 3 Oligodendroglioma Brain Tumour in the Right Temporal Lobe.

Instead I wrote:

Epilepsy – Under control through the drug Keppra administered twice a day.

Chlosteatoma in the right ear causing slight but significantly improved balance problems.

Oligodendroglioma Brain Tumour in the Right Temporal Lobe. Treatment now completed and almost feeling normal. The Glioma may cause a loss of cognitive function and motor function down the left side including the face. While unusual such a manifestation is possible and does not constitute a stroke although many of the symptoms are similar. In such circumstances I recover quickly.

In a nutshell. I used to be able to write Nil in this column but at least now I can write improving!

Shortly after writing that entry I suffered from a very near partial seizure. Swallowing became very difficult while my mouth was watering excessively, that old metallic taste and smell came back to the mouth and nose and the bees ran rampage over the top of my head. But as quickly as it came it went. It didn’t fully manifest itself but did leave me feeling a little tired and dejected. Then the phone rang. It was a friend phoning to check if I was okay. They couldn’t have timed it better so after tea, as I strode down for the pilgrimage course I found myself humming hymns with a smile back on my face. I was, on reflecting over the horrors of the last few months, in a sense coming to the end of the horrid months of treatment and it’s aftermath. I had managed to run the whole course and survive relatively unscathed. I had developed a lactose intolerance as a result of the treatment and, as I noticed, rather forlornly, how much weight I had put on in the last 4 weeks of enforced rest, I have seen my metabolism slow considerably. It used to be perfect and allowed me to be able to eat like a horse and not change shape, even a tiny bit. But now I have lost my six pack under a one pack with a bicycle tyre around the middle!! Definitely some work required there. Less ice creams and Mochas with a Malteser slice or flapjack to accompany. It was going to be hard but achievable. Green tea and fruit or vegetables from now on except for the occasional celebratory in the Deli Ecosse of course. Please read this last sentence too Julie and Debbie!!

I was starting to feel less fizzy longer term and more normal more often. The seizures had largely disappeared. This was I sensed the beginning of the end of the treatment horrors and as we reviewed all that we had learned on our journey of discovery on pilgrimage I sensed that I was at the beginning of the new phase of my particular journey. A journey carrying a message of hope, inspiration and encouragement for all who wish to hear it.

‘Each of us stands at the gate of tomorrow, facing the future.
At times we have walked in wonder and awe.
At other times, we have moved along in a flood of fear.
Looking back, we may recognize that,
Amid the joys and struggles of the journey,
This is a sacred journey,
One that is hidden in and surrounded by mystery.

Although we long for someone
To translate the risks of the journey into logical explanations,
We often find ourselves in the foreign land of faith.
We stand on the edge of our hopes and dreams
And ask in trust to be led and supported
By a love and energy much larger than we can imagine.

We ask to walk here in courage and integrity,
As we attempt to discern the voice of God
Amid the cacophony of our doubt and fear.
To risk the journey and face the future
Is imply to walk in faith but always,
Both in out knowing and our unknowing,
We are escorted into tomorrow by Love,
Who gives us everything we need”

— Doris Klein CSA ‘Journey of the Soul”

Finally an appeal. A very simple appeal. I have run out of flyers and as I start to resume the challenge activity I would really like to be able to carry some flyers with me as they help provide this mad man chatting to whoever on the bus, the train or on the mountain in the snow with a veneer of authenticity, thus reassurance that this 6’2” tall man is genuine while also providing a hand rail from which whoever it was I choose or was told to speak to can find the challenge when they get home. Is there any one kind and generous sole out there who has the contacts and or capability to be able to make a run of flyers achievable as a form of sponsorship for the challenge? If you can, please message me on facebook in order to coordinate the requirement.

Thank you and now for the challenge in numbers:

The challenge so far in numbers in total since the start:
Days completed: 127
Total Miles Cycled: 635
Total Miles Walked: 617.5
Total Miles Run: 44.2
Total Miles Paddled: 7
Total Distance Cycled, Skied, Ran and Rowed in the gym: 23.3
Total Distance Swum: 2,140 metres
Total Miles covered under own steam.1,328.9
Total Height Gained under own steam: 34,679 feet
Mountains Climbed: 5
Hills Climbed: 18
Days of Voluntary Activity: 8.5
Organ tunes learnt and performed: 5
Salmon Caught: 0!
Bats Found:0!
Curling Matches played in: 8
Curling stones placed on the button (the centre of the target): 3
Weight Training Sessions: 10
Weight shifted: 10kgs lifted over 102metres or 2040kgs moved over ½ a metre,
Aerobic Circuit Sessions: 6
Press Ups: 380
Pull Ups: 79
Sit Ups: 465
People Met and Hands Shaken: 379
Pots of tea shared: 28
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: 640
Days until Driving Licence (lost to epilepsy) possibly Returned: 678
And most important of all – Money Raised as at Day 126 – £6,710.77

Considering I started this challenge 6 months 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 £53.26 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 £53.26 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