Day 128 has seen 6 miles walked, 4 bags of rubbish collected, a new friend made, an audio visual recording successfully completed but a defeat by technology.

I woke with some relief this morning. I was feeling normal whereas last night, as I tried to write the post on return from a great night on the pilgrimage course, the most excruciating pain flooded through the right side of my neck and down my right arm. The pain was so intense that it was making me audibly moan. I had never experienced a sensation anything like this before. It didn’t gradually build but just came on in an intense wave and then gradually built in it’s intensity. I was struggling to coordinate my right arm, I couldn’t lift it and any attempt sent more pain shooting through my shoulder and neck. It was as if my muscles were refusing to soldier so the only way to get my right hand up to the computer keyboard was with a sort of flick of the right shoulder that sent the arm flying up and then crashing back down on to the right hand side of the desk. Then I had to, by leaning my body over to the left drag may right arm across the desk to get my right hand near the keyboard. Then using my wrist walked my hand, a little like a caterpillar over to the keyboard. Then the pain became too intense. I pushed the computer across the desk and lay my head on the desk in front of it with my arms spread out wide on the desk in a form of cruciform. I was trying to find a way to numb the pain. I had no idea what was happening but it felt muscular so perhaps I just needed to relax the muscles. I had some muscle rub but nobody to rub it in for me. I sat up and let my hands dangle, limp and lifeless but jolly painful like an intense burnng by my side. I slumped off of my chair and onto the floor. Rolled on to my back and let my arms flop into another cruciform, this time facing upwards. No relief what so ever. I got up in a rather cumbersome no arms and off balance sort of a way and paced around the flat tormented by the pain. I needed to call somebody but couldn’t. I couldn’t hold the phone still enough to dial a number. I had no option but to persevere and right the post. I thought that by sitting straight at my desk and resting my forearms on the desk to type it might help rest the arm and therefore ease the pain. Certainly I needed the distraction so I tried it and my goodness it worked. Slowly. Very very slowly the pain subsided and I started to be able to see again. To be able to think again. To be able to write what turned out to be a reasonable post. But his morning? Nothing. Not even a tight neck. Just sore muscles in the arms from the weights session on Tuesday and sore muscles in the legs from the run yesterday. So out I went with a plastic bag and my litter pickers for a 2 mile litter picking walk. One ¾ bag of litter collected through the Doune Ponds and then back home.

A quick breakfast and then I was rushing around the flat hoovering the floors and cleaning the loo and moving the table in the sitting room into a great position from which to enjoy the views. Mirren. The amazing lady who I met on the train on the way back from London on the 07th March was coming to see me. To come for a walk with me. To do some litter picking with me! I had had, on the 11th Mar such a wonderfully encouraging email from Mirren that I was really looking forward to seeing her again. When Mirren arrived she did so in a whirl of enthusiastic energy. She came up to see the flat and immediately produced the most wonderful bag from which she pulled a box of lemon and ginger tea, two books of stamps to help with all the correspondence I was having to plough through to effect changes of address and insurance policies and mortgages et al, and then a very clever collapsible colander so as to be useful but take up too much space. It was wonderful and ideal for the flat. It was a wonderfully generous present when invited to come litter picking. So in return I tried to play Mirren a couple of tunes on the new keyboard but was not playing very cleverly. We chatted some more and then it was time to get going. We had an hour and a half to cover 4 miles in the litter collection and get back for lunch before Mirren then had to rush off to join another walking group for another walk! We had a lovely morning walking around the ponds and then up the steps to link up with the Comonty Walk, enjoy the views over the village and then back in along the cycle track. We walked, talked and litter picked eventually filling a whole bag each and as we did so, both commenting on how satisfying it was to walk with a purpose I thought how wonderful it would be if many more of us in our villages, towns and cities borrowed a pair of litter pickers from the local council and then set out each day for short walks around their neighbourhood litter picking. Very quickly one would see noticeable differences with the amount of rubbish blowing around our streets. I did, very quickly, when I first started around the village and while the dog Georgie was still alive and kicking I would take the litter pickers with me while walking the dog. So ended up litter picking twice a day. Before I knew it I was coming home with almost nothing in the bag. When Georgie died I stopped walking. So I stopped litter picking and I started to feel more uncomfortable in the house while also on the enforced rest after my fall on the Ochils. I needed to get some fresh air but needed a reason to start my routine of morning and evening short walks again. I reached for the litter pickers and had a purpose. A reason to be out enjoying the countryside around me. My mood lifted as I walked. I felt so much better for that exercise and for making a difference to the community in my own small way. So I would encourage anyone to collect a pair of litter pickers from the council and get walking, Get picking. It is surprisingly enjoyable.

Lunch for Mirren and I was the Archie special. A Poached egg on toast served on a bed of spinach, rocket and watercress with a medley of raw tenderstem broccoli, carrots, tomato, red grapes and brazil nuts while talking some more and enjoying the view. Sadly it was all too soon time for Mirren to go but I snatched a quick hug first and then as I waved her off I felt certain that I had made a new friend today. We were definitely going to do a walk again before too long.

Back home and the next order of the day after tidying up lunch was my Sainsbury’s shop arriving before having another attempt at my first audio visual recording of some posts. This one being the longer summary of what the challenge actually is. The website was developing nicely so I needed to understand how the readings of the posts were going to be done. The day had been going so well so why not! My attempt at the reading today went well. Really well. No more beating of Priests. Just the beating of the beast. I managed to save the file in a format that could be sent. Then technology became the next hurdle. The file was too big to email to Martin who was compiling the website. I called him and he talked me through the process of trying to upload the file onto One Drive so that I could just send him the link so that he could lift it from there. It all made perfect sense. But could I upload it? After 4 hours of trying I got only ¼ of it uploaded. I wasn’t too distressed because that time was spent doing another 2 mile litter picking walk before coming back, swallowing some more pills and then attempting a new recipe. Cajun Steak. A Jamie Oliver Classic from his 15 Minute Meals book. So a good 90 minutes later from opening the recipe I was tucking into a wonderful meal consisting of a cooked vegetable salad with smoked pancetta, rosemary, thyme, sage, carrot, spring onions, radishes, kale and chicken stock. With a Bean Casserole consisting of Green Beans, Red Kidney Beans, Black Eyed Beans, Borlotti Beans, Haricot Beans and Chickpeas. A real protein and fibre powerhouse. It was baked in a tantalizing sauce made from a combination of passata, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, Tomato Ketchup, HP Sauce, Honey and English Mustard with a grating of cheddar cheese on top. The steak was Sirloin with the fat removed and seasoned with paprika and thyme. I loved each and every mouthful of this incredibly fiddly recipe. It took quite a while to cook and wash up afterwards. But my goodness it was worth it.

James was going to be over any second on his way back from Scouts to help me set up a You Tube account. I had to stop the upload. The video was only 24 minutes long. It shouldn’t take 4 hours to upload. I would try again tomorrow. I shut it down . The buzzer went and James arrived. It was lovely to see him but I knew that if I was to just let him set up a You Tube account for me I wouldn’t be able to keep up, would learn nothing, and need him back again to show me what he did. I sat a chair down next to mine and kept the mouse. James was not happy. He wanted to be in control but I explained that I had to learn and that he was my tutor so talk me through it. It took a while for the tutor to comprehend the shortcomings of his pupils google accounts and you tube knowledge base but once he had adjusted to the beginner rating I was working at he made an excellent and very patient tutor. The account set up, tested and working ti was time for him to go home. I gave him a huge hug then walked him back up to the Rural Hall to collect his bike and cycle home. I watched him go knowing by his persona as he called farewell to me through the night , his flashing lights fading in to the night sky that he was content that he had done a good deed this night and happy that he had helped his Father.

A new friend made, a new you tube account set up, a new recipe delighting the palette, and a happy son. It was a good day today.

The challenge so far in numbers in total since the start:
Days completed: 128
Total Miles Cycled: 635
Total Miles Walked: 623.5
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.1,334.9
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: 644
Days until Driving Licence (lost to epilepsy) possibly Returned: 677
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