Day 140 has seen 9 miles walked while performing impressive orangutan impersonations, 320 metres swum, a clean strip, a loving family, and after a mind stopping moment further reinforcement on the value of friendship completed with a wonderfully encouraging message of support.

Brucefields Family Golf! So many golf balls!
Brucefields Family Golf! So many golf balls!

Wednesday started with a 1.4 mile walk around Doune Ponds while collecting a shopping bag of rubbish with my litter picker. Litter picking is an excellent tool for keeping the brain working by fine tuning the balance function which is being performed by my brain, through visual reference, without an inner ear. Furthermore I found the short walk just after taking my anti seizure medication appeared to stave off any early morning seizure activity while the good feeling of doing something good for the village also provided ample reward and occasionally litter picking provides for some comedy moments. Yesterday morning I saw a crisp packet and a coke can just at the edge of one of the ponds and a smidgen out of reach for me. But I couldn’t leave it. I wanted to get it. This was going to involve climbing through old fallen trees that had lain for some time and were rotten and covered in moss. I went slowly and carefully clearing away the rotten branches until I got to the main trunk of this particular tree. It was only about 1 foot in diameter but appeared to be strong enough to hold my weight. But I could only get through the gap above it on my tummy. So picture the scene as a gentleman dressed in cords, a tweed jacket and wellies on a bright weekday morning, led by his litter picking determination to get the crisp packet suddenly found himself lain along the top of this branch just above the edge of the small pond. As his legs and arms draped to either side of this branch as he stretched to reach the crisp packet his cheek rested on the branch and he started to feel at one with this long dead piece of wood. He started to feel like an Orangutan using a primitive tool to try and skewer an interesting looking article on the forest floor and just for a bit of a giggle started to roll a little while making gentle monkey noises. Then, as he rolled, the branch creaked considerable and cracked and in a manoeuvre of which any Royal Marine would be proud commando rolled off of the branch quick as a flash to prevent an unplanned dunking into the stinking black water below. I stood, my heart in my mouth and slightly breathless and giggled some more as I surveyed the wood around me just to make sure that none had seen my regression to 5 years old. I was safe and then realised that to get the crisp packet all I had to do was stretch my arm around a still standing tree just to the left of the branch I had been prostrate on. I rolled my eyes, giggled and grabbed the crisp packet and coke can and headed for home still dry but only just! After breakfast a ½ mile down to St Modoc’s church for morning prayer and some more organ practice. I had been really struggling to get back into playing the organ and had found that I had regressed considerably with only a relatively short period without practice but knowing it to be so desperately important in the fight to build the back up generator in the healthy left side of the brain I have brought the discipline back to sit and note by note, bar by bar, phrase by phrase, left hand then right hand then both together to relearn the tunes I had learned previously. Wednesday morning saw a successful relearning of my very first tune for the organ. No feet yet. Just trying to get my fingers to hit the right notes at the right time!! Then it was time to start stripping. The walls in the corridor in the flat had the wallpaper removed but an underlay remained so with a spray gun and a scraper I got to work. It was easy enough work but tedious on one’s own so I decided to switch on the radio and discovered the delights of radio two. It was light hearted, good music and full of fun little stories, anecdotes and facts. It was perfect for lifting the spirits while the sun shone brilliantly, I felt that I ought to be out tackling a hill but had work to do. The time went quickly and soon my Sainsbury’s food shop arrived and then, in sticking to my new routine to keep physical exercise at the forefront of all I did I went for a swim at the McLaren Leisure Centre. I was so sorely tempted to try and swim a little bit further this time but decided not to. When I first started treatment just the mere smell of chlorine was enough to trigger a partial seizure and having suffered a vicious gagging reflex seizure in a hospital the swimming pool was not the place to be pushing the boundaries. I was planning another 2 length increase but not just yet. So in I got and did 16 lengths. 4 breaststroke, 4 front crawl, 2 backstroke, 2 breaststroke, 2 front crawl and a final 2 breaststroke again. It went really well. I felt great throughout and even felt strong in the finish. I think that I will do one more confirmatory 16 length swim before trying an 18 length swim. But I would very much like to increase the distance. It can be hugely frustrating bringing such discipline into a slow and steady progress but it must be done.

As I made it back into Callander I had 40 minutes before the bus was due so nothing for it but to head into the Deli Ecosse to see Julie and the gang while sipping on a decaf Mocha. I arrived to a once again busy café but there, in the corner, almost as if they were expecting me was the little metal outside table and chair that they put in the corner so that I could have a seat. I walked up to the counter. ‘Hi Archie. Lunch? The usual?’ Wow – I hadn’t thought about lunch but why not. ‘Yes please’ I said before taking a seat at the table just to keep out of the way at the counter. Quick as a flash Julie arrived with a seeded flapjack and an egg mayonnaise sandwich and a delicious salad of lettuce, tomato, pepper, cucumber et al all beautifully sliced and presented. There was no way Julie could have prepared all of this in that time. I looked at her quizzically and asked, ‘How did you manage to do all that quite so quickly?’ ‘Julie hugged me and replied with a twinkle in her eye and one of her trade mark giggles, ‘Oh I made them this morning. I guessed you were coming over today!’ I was flabbergasted. I had been away for 4 days. Had not made any mention of swimming today so to just guess that today of all days I was coming in was too much. I couldn’t fathom it but got a wonderfully warm and welcoming feeling from the whole team with a great sandwich delivered so quickly that I had time to eat it before the bus so was thankful for whatever had triggered such a notion in Julie’s mind. Or maybe she just saw me getting off of the bus and walking up to the leisure centre!! But lunch eaten and paid for I thanked all then headed out for the bus to discover that it hadn’t yet passed on the way in so I had at least 5 minutes spare. I popped in to say hello to Peter who was looking after me so well from his Wheelology bike shop in Callander and then popped out again for the bus to discover that it had still not passed. Nothing for it but a small ice cream on this beautifully sunny day and met Kerry Hutchison who told me that she had just like the Challenge page. Nothing for it. Time for a photo. Thank you Kerry. I very much hope you enjoy the journey with me and do please do anything you can to raise awareness of the challenge for me through friends, family or work. That would be awesome.

The wonderfully supportive Scott James from Day 141
The wonderfully supportive Scott James from Day 141

So the bus arrived and back home for more wallpaper stripping before taking a 2.2 mile walk around the Wood of Doune. Then back home I received an amazing phonecall from Mum. I had been invited to my cousin’s wedding in South Africa but after having to pay for the legal costs of a separation, followed by the purchase of the flat and the legal costs for that and the budget for the redecoration of the flat, that was so badly needed I had pretty much decided that I would quietly decline the invitation. I simply couldn’t afford it especially when the children were hoping to, and I wanted them to, continue with their sports and music and maybe even next years school ski trip. It was a simple matter of the financial priorities one has to set as a parent and while I was sad to be missing Leonora’s wedding I was glad that I could still contribute towards the children’s future development. But then I sat in bewilderment as to what I was hearing. The family had guessed that this would be the case so had decided to club together in order to help pay for my ticket. They desperately wanted me to come too. None of them could really afford to do what they did but they did it anyway. I was deeply moved by their generosity. They couldn’t cover all of it but could cover most of it so could I find the last couple of hundred pounds or so needed to secure the flight and living costs etc for two weeks in South Africa? Aunt Tedda and all in South Africa are going to do what they can to keep the costs right down while we are out there so really there was only one real answer to that one. Yippee!!!!!!!!!! It did depend of course on my ability to fly after Brain Surgery and on the compatibility of any innoculations required and any anti malarial courses with my anti seizure medication et al. But today I have just had the feed back from my oncology team. I need to do a bit of careful research with my GP on what I can and can’t do with innoculations and anti malarial. I need to find an insurer who will cover me for the trip against my brain tumour. My heart sank at that bit as I saw the pound signs disappearing in to an insurer’s pocket after the debacle of trying to find a mortgage on my own but as I got saved by Yvonne Wilson at First Mortgage on that one the team at the hospital have given me some leads on insurance. But better than all of that. By next October (when the wedding is) I CAN FLY!!!! I will need to take steroids to keep the swelling in the brain down in the changes of cabin pressure but I can fly. So if I can square away the insurance and the innoculations against my drugs I can actually go. Awesome.

James popped in for tea. I was going to feed him with Heather but James had Pipe Band practice starting at 7pm and Heather didn’t finish with the Beavers until 7.15pm so I had to feed the children in two shifts. James came over first and as I hadn’t realised that they had these conflicting times I had to make do and mend so gave James fish cakes with some oven chips but also some of the salad that I had started making for what was going to be part of tea for all of us. James merrily and very helpfully sprayed and scraped at the wallpaper while I cooked and continued preparing tea part 2 in the background. James eaten and raring to go for Scouts I just about managed to peel a tangerine and get into his hands as he ran out of the door with a promise that he would eat it but earlier he had told me that he had scored 98% in his Biology test at school. Top score for his year. I went back to the kitchen window so I could watch him go as he stuffed the entire tangerine in his mouth in one go. I couldn’t help but smile. I don’t think that I have ever scored 98% in a test. I was very proud.

Then Heather arrived in from her early evening volunteering with the Beavers so it was time to cook tea. I had been working on it so turned it around in 30 minutes while Heather collapsed, exhausted in front of the television. Steak Indian Style with a Spinach and Paneer Salad, Garlic Naan Bread and some fresh mango for pudding. It was delicious and Heather loved it. I cheated using a jar of Patak’s Jalfrezi paste in the Jamie Oliver recipe but used good steaks. Financially painful but so worth it with a yoghurt dip of Natural Yoghurt mixed in with lemon juice and fresh mint, a garlic naan bread, and the salad made with spinach, fresh coriander, alfalfa sprouts, carrot, paneer cheese, sesame seeds and more lemon juice.

Kerry Hutchison who Liked my page between serving Ice creams in Callander
Kerry Hutchison who Liked my page between serving Ice creams in Callander

Once I had washed up I left with Heather to see her home then went down to the church for evening prayer and more organ practice. Another mile walked and another tune brought back from my previous learning.

As I finished a little more wallpaper stripping I thought about how I was going to balance the books for the trip to South Africa. I couldn’t pull in the purse string with food. That is an essential element in my quest to ensure a highly nutritious and balanced diet to strengthen the immune system to Beat the Beast and certainly the steaks were only my second in many months. But I could cut down on Mochas and café lunches. At 2 pounds a Mocha save on 10 Mochas. That is 20 quid. If I have on average 10 in a fortnight that would save 40 quid a month. 5 Months to the wedding so 5 x 40 pounds equals 200 pounds. Gosh, it all adds up!! Saving on lunches would give me a bit more but I also need to pay for insurance so will be worth it in the long run. Packed lunches from now on while out. Much cheaper.

Thursday started with a 1.7 mile route around Doune Ponds and saw another bag of litter collected with no issues. I had decided that I was going to go to Brucefield’s Family Golf Centre today to see if I could remember anything of what the team had taught me last summer and to investigate a little further the taking forward of Golf as one of those key tools in trying to train the healthy left side of the brain to take on some of the cognitive and motor function. I was feeling okay so was looking forward to it but after breakfast went for morning prayer and organ practice only to discover that my brain seemed to be malfunctioning. The tune that just last night I had managed to bring back was now a complete mess. At first I started to loose heart but realised that now was the moment in which I had to concentrate hard, work hard to force the brain to function. Force the brain to find a way. Force the brain to build capacity in the healthy left. I just hoped that none could hear me as I went over the same phrases time and time again to try and get the tune to function and slowly it came back but was a significant regression on yesterday. I couldn’t stay as I had to get back to the flat to receive my Sainsbury’s shop. I walked hard and fast back to the flat and made my packed lunch before then packing my 7 iron, 3 iron and 3 wood into my rucksack, handles up the way, with my packed lunch and a waterproof and some water with lemon. Then I started on more wallpaper stripping while keeping an eye on my watch. If I was going to play Golf and be back in time to give James tea this evening I had to catch the No59 at 1203pm. It was now 1130am and still no Sainsbury’s shop. It was booked for 10am so where was it. I looked up the Sainsbury’s number and started to dial it while flicking though my diary. Then I hung up. I had received the delivery yesterday. There was no delivery today!! What a mug I was but it meant I could sort out the wallpaper stripping stuff and tidy up before leaving. I hit the bus stop and as I waited I met Dan. He is studying Politics and Social Dynamics or something like that at Edinburgh University. I should have written it down when he told me but importantly we had a fascinating chat about it while I introduced him to the challenge. He was fascinated by it so I told him some more and the conversation flowed as the bus arrived and we jumped on but as we talked so I started to feel more and more challenged. It wasn’t a seizure. None of the tastes or smells or sensations. The brain just slowed and slowed until suddenly it just stopped and I found myself looking at Dan, blinking, my eyes welling up just very slightly, as I could find nothing to say. He looked at me expectantly for a response to a question he had asked me but I had nothing in my head. It was completely empty. I knew not what to say or do. So I just sat and stared with a blank expression on my face while I searched frantically for some semblance of brain waves. We arrived in Stirling and I found enough in the head to be able to say goodbye politely. Perhaps that was just social conditioning because when I looked at my crib sheet for what to do next to get to The Bannockburn Family Golf Centre I just couldn’t work it out. I had a map of Stirling but everything was happening so slowly that I couldn’t understand why it was telling me to wait at Stance F but all the Stances were numbers. I asked one of the drivers who I vaguely recognised. He told me that I was at the wrong bus station for that stance but rather than to leave me standing there agog and unaware as to what to do he showed me where I could get the bus I needed from and reassured me that the number 43 would be along shortly. It was, I got on it an got my map out to try and follow the route we were taking to try and see where to get off. I lost myself a number of times but managed to catch up at the traffic lights thanks to street signs and an index at the back of the map and as we approached the point on which I was to jump off I recognised the school, pressed the button, and got off. I put my bag down in the bus stop, turned to reorientate myself and realised with horror that I had a very busy road to cross with no safe crossing point. I saw an island, put on my rucksack and walked up the pavement to opposite to the island nearly tripping over my own feet in the process. I looked left and right and realised that there was no way that I could manage two lanes of traffic at once. Just look right and get safely to the island then look left and cross. It worked and then I managed to navigate and walk through the estate and out to the golf centre. The brain was working. Just very slowly. I felt clumsy and very frustrated so I thought lunch might help. Tuna Mayonnaise sandwich with some more of last night spinach and paneer salad on top. A flapjack and tenderstem broccoli, carrots, tomatoes and red grapes. Lunch eaten I approached the club house and pushed the door. Walked into the door. It was a pull to open door. Clearly I was a candidate for the school for the gifted today. But as I walked in I was greeted so warmly and even given a hug by Kirsty who immediately took a step back and asked if I was okay. ‘You just seem a little groggy Archie, are you okay?’ I smiled and choked back the emotion as I replied, ‘I am fine thank you Kirsty. Just had a wee wobble on the bus but recovering.’ The truth was that I felt anything but fine but needed to hit some golf balls. Needed to force the brain to function. At first I thought that I might wait to see Gregor, the delightful Golf Professional, and excellent coach, to get his advice as to Meters I could specify as check points against which I could judge any improvement in my Golf therefore cognitive and motor coordination and with it identify quickly any regression in my ability. But Kirsty could see that what I needed most was to try and hit some balls so she took a token for 50 balls and beckoned me to follow her and as she did so very cleverly said, ‘Just start with the basics Archie. How far can you hit the ball with the 7 iron in a straight line. How many balls in a row can you do it consistently. Start with that and we can build from there.’ It was eminently sensible so balls provided I grabbed my 7 iron and set up for my first shot. I dug deep into the memory banks to try and remember all those pointers Gregor had given me. I checked my grip, the angle of my club head, the line of my body in relation to the green I was aiming for, my feet position, my upper body position and then my backswing while trying to remember all the key elements of the line I was to swing through with the body unwinding to a clean and straight shot out to the green. I took a practice swing. It felt very rusty but okay. I stepped forward to the ball. Addressed it. Took my backswing in a nice line in a nice controlled manor remembering to stay loose and relaxed like I was swinging to a Bob Marley song. Released and …………….nothing. I missed the ball entirely. I managed a smile and shrugged my shoulders in a sort of meant that, that was just a practice sort of a way but secretly realised that I had a lot of work to do. I turned and walked off the range. Took a breath and went back. Went through the whole process again and this time…………………………… Tonked the ball right on the top so it just bounced up landed and dribbled forward off of the platform. Another breath, another step away, another attempt, and another, and another and so it went on each time not loosing my patience and rushing. Instead going through the drills again and again and again each time trying so hard to remember Gregor’s teaching. Trying so hard to force the body and brain to function together to perform a simple task. I pulled it left or I sliced it right or I cut the grass with it but still I couldn’t get one flying as it should until suddenly I did. 125 metres straight as an arrow towards the green. And again. And again. 3 in a row. Then I lost it but that was a significant improvement. I somehow had managed to make the brain and body function and certainly felt so much better. Balls expended I put the basket away and went to thank the team. Gregor had been wanting to see me but was choc busy with lessons but I had to get back to make tea for James. Kirsty gave me the most delightful cuddle and reminded me that they were covering all my practice time. That I was to come back as soon as I could. Wow – it was incredible and certainly made me feel a whole lot better than before. Then I bumped into Gregor in the Car Park as he sorted out some equipment. He gave me two 30 min lessons and two one hour lessons with him as sponsorship. More incredible generosity. I was dumbfounded but also knew that Golf was going to be an essential tool to train the brain and that I had come to the right place to do it. So as I walked down to the bus stop I smiled in the sunshine and took great pleasure in being able to recollect perfectly the route I had to take through the estate to get back to the bus stop. I was back.

Once home I called James to come over for tea and then he told me he had Scouts so had t eat early so had cooked for himself at home!! I was flabbergasted. I asked him what he had. He had found some chicken goujons in the freezer so cooked those and made a salad with lettuce and a carrot and an Apple. I was so sad that we weren’t going to have tea together but amazed that he showed such initiative to just cook for himself and be ready for Scouts on time. Well done Home Economics at school. I have asked the children to help me cook once or twice but the confidence James showed just then was definitely down to Home Economics. I cooked my Arrabbiata with fresh red chilli, olive oil, garlic, dried chilli flakes, tinned chopped tomatoes and fresh basil and served it as a sauce with wholemeal spaghetti and the rest of yesterday’s Spinach salad. Waste not want not. I’m going to South Africa!!

So the last two days have reinforced the wonderful impact good deeds and thoughtful actions can have on the lives of others. I was buoyed hugely by the wonderful generous offer of the family. An offer they could barely afford but have done anyway. Then when my entire brain almost ceased to function a warm welcome, loving hug and innate understanding of another person’s need providing me the means with which to jump start the brain and rescue what had been a rubbish day despite meeting the encouraging Dan.

I finish, not with the usual challenge in numbers, but instead with a wonderful story from a friend made on this journey on the challenge and met through the Glasgow Elim church after I had bumped into them and they prayed for me on the top of Conic Hill. It tells clearly how Marion and Jim found God and what he has done and continues to do for Marion and Jim but for all of us. Marion offers me this story as a story of encouragement for me but also for all those who might find further encouragement from it to share with you all. Do please take the time to read it when you get a chance.

Yours aye


Hi Archie,  So pleased that you agreed for me to share some things with you as God is giving me no peace till I do. LOL.  There is so much he wants me to say to you, but I must be patient and give you a bit at a time.   First of all a bit about my background.  My husband Jim and I were both athiests when we met and didn’t even like being in the company of anyone who spoke about God.   

Then, after a long period of severe trials and also me being unwell with various things on an off over a period of 5 years and with young children to look after, and I had reached a point where I thought I would never have good health ever again, we both (unknown) to each other and in very different ways found God one evening.  Neither of us wanted to tell each other.  I thought Jim would think I had flipped and he didn’t want to worry me.


After about a week we were both so excited as we knew something major had happened to us, so we told each other. (I’m keeping this short as I can)  We began to talk to God and felt guided to certain new things and people and began to feel more at peace.


After a few months we began to ask God who He was, as we had various friends who all believed in their own different gods.  (By the way, most of them are Christians now)  I thought, surely there can only be one God.  But I didn’t want him to be the God from the Bible, as I believed that was old fashioned and outdated and a lot of rubbish!   I don’t really know what I wanted Him to be but I knew that I needed to know Him.  I began to remember things from my short time at Sunday School and Church (2 years) as a young child.  Then other things happened, I would pass a Church and notice if for the first time, then one day I was reading the Daily Record and a Bible passage jumped out at me .  I had read that paper many times before and never noticed it and I was amazed to find out that there was one in it every day and had been for many years.   Jim was experiencing similar things and was remembering actual passages he had learned at Sunday School in Australia, where he had been born and brought up.  We began to realize we had both known God as young children and He had spoken into our lives back then.


We had been given a daily reading type of book, from someone who had been put in my path and every night we were reading it together.  It had various readings and quotations in it and the occasional bible quote, although, it encompassed most religions which I was glad about.  One day we passed a Church and there was a sign up saying, “Jesus is the great I AM”.   We wondered what on earth that meant and asked God to tell us.   That night as we were reading out book we got to the end of the page and the quote said, “Be still and know that I AM God”   Well that was it, we both burst out crying and knew it was Jesus who was God.  Jesus who had died for Us!   Regardless, we both then said that doesn’t mean we will go to Church or anything because we are not Church type people.


Four months later we were almost running through the door of a Church that God guided us to, through my daughter, aged 7 at the time. (Another long story)   Our journey from then on has been absolutely amazing and miraculous and life changing and on-going and so incredible that some days I think I have dreamt it all up.   We were given Bibles at Church and I discovered it was the book I had been searching for all my life.  (I had read many psychology books and self-help books, but this was different, this was telling me all I needed to know)   We went to Bible studies and soaked up all we were learning and asked questions non-stop.  We were told never to just believe man but to read for ourselves and if it agreed with the scriptures then it was the truth.  We felt like we had years of not knowing Him to catch up with.  Family and friends noticed such a change in us that some of them wanted to know this God who had done this for us.  


Our Christian walk has not been an easy journey at all and many times we thought we were not going to make it, but God has been faithful and we have grown and matured in our faith beyond all recognition and are now better equipped to deal with the problems that are thrown at us.   I believe that is one of the things God wants to help you to do Archie.  You have done an extremely good job so far, but there is more Archie, much more!  It’s so exciting.  He wants you to know who you are in Him. 


We have been Christians now for 20 years and I have many many testimonies of the many things God has done in my own and Jims life and also in my childrens. (Age 26 and 27 now)  But the one I am sending you is the one God has told me to give you.  I think maybe the reason for this one, is because there is a healing takes place in it.  It also shows Gods incredible power and how He uses us to help each other.  I know you have already experienced that in your own walk, but it strengthens us to hear other people’s stories too, just as it has strengthened me to hear yours.  


The story also shows just how much God cares about his broken, hurting and frightened children.  Many years after becoming a Christian I realised that I had never been ill again since that night.   I have also experienced other instant healings from God as has my husband.   But most importantly I have learned so many more powerful things about healing since then, that I will share with you soon.   Meanwhile here is the testimony.


Salt and Light Bus Ministry

God has a sense of humour


My name is Marion I am married to Jim and we have two children, Emma and Mark.  I am a member of the Glasgow Elim Church in Govanhill, Glasgow.  I work part time in the office of a Primary School. 


In January 2007 I began to go with a team of people from my Church to the Gorbals shopping centre in Glasgow every Friday from 10 till 1pm. We used a Double Decker bus owned by the Salt and Light Ministry, headed by Anne Wallace, also a member of Glasgow Elim Church. (Her story is incredible)  The bus has a cafeteria type layout upstairs where people can come on and chat and we provided them with tea, coffee, sandwiches, food, clothing, a listening ear, prayer and spiritual guidance if requested. 


There were many different types of people who came to the bus.   There were alcoholics, drug addicts, homeless, college students, businessmen and also ordinary people. The one thing they all seemed to have in common was that they were all very keen to know more about God. That was not a co-incidence, because we prayed every week that God would send the people to us who are seeking him.   


A few weeks after I began going out with the team, Anne, the organizer of Salt and Light was having problems getting drivers to drive the bus the short distance to the Gorbals.    It only takes about 10 minutes but she needed a driver to take the bus out at 9:45am and to bring it back to the Church Car Park at 1:15pm.   Anne often had to obtain two different drivers to drive the bus back and forward, as many of them worked and had limited time to help during the day.


Sometimes the drivers were late and we often thought we were not going to make it out.   It had taken a while, but the people had started to trust us and many had come to depend on us being there every week.  Some even shared that they had kept going that week knowing they would have us to chat to.   We had all become so fond of them that it was very difficult to think that we might not be able to make it out.


We were all praying about the driver situation and as I was praying about it one day.  I said to God it would be perfect if someone from the team could drive the bus as they are already there every week anyway. I immediately felt Him saying to me, “yes you could“.  I was shocked and immediately said ‘NO’, not me, someone else from the team, one of the men, but again He said, “you”   I said to Him, but I am too small (5’), I am too old (50), and I am too scared!!!!!!!


Over the next few weeks God continued to remind me of His answer to me and I couldn’t get it out of my mind.  I knew He was prompting me to do something about it, as it was in my mind constantly and I could get no peace.   So I decided to phone a company to find out if it was possible for me to drive a bus and what else I would be required to do.  
They took my details and said it was possible and that I would be required to have a medical then sit a theory test then have lessons and sit the practical test.  


The Company then told me it would cost approximately £1000.  I was so relieved about this because that meant I couldn’t do it as I did not have £1000.   


However, as time went on I couldn’t get it out of my thoughts as God was still continually reminding me.  So I began to think of ways of obtaining £1000.   I thought of doing a sponsor but I knew I would find it hard to ask people for money so I dismissed that idea.   I couldn’t think of any other ways so I put it out of my mind again.


I had been doing quite a good job of ignoring God’s promptings, but a few weeks later it was brought to the forefront of my mind again, as the company I had phoned, sent me a pack informing me of all I would be required to do to obtain a PCV driving licence. 


The only other person who knew about all this at the time was my husband, Jim.  


A few weeks later, on the Friday we were all waiting with flasks of tea and coffee ready to be driven to the Gorbals.  The driver was very late and again we thought we were not going to be able to go out that day.  


This was on my mind as I was driving home and I said to God.   “Okay, I give in; if this is really you and you want me to do this you will have to give me the £1000”.  


I had no idea how He could possibly get me the money, but I knew if this was really God wanting me to do this, then somehow He would get me it.    


A short time later I arrived home and picked up the mail and opened it.   Most of it was junk or bills but there was one handwritten envelope.   I opened it and it was a card from a woman in my last Church, Netherauldhouse Evangelical Church.  The card said, “Marion, God has prompted me to send you £1000, I have no idea why, but I hope you do.  But whatever, I would like you to accept it.


I absolutely couldn’t believe it.   Nothing like this had ever happened to me before.   I immediately phoned my husband, Jim and he was shouting in disbelief over the phone as he couldn’t believe it either.  


I phoned the woman who had given me the £1000 to thank her and told her that I knew exactly what it was for, and that I had just asked God to provide me with £1000 prior to arriving home.   I told her I couldn’t tell her what it was for yet as it would put me under too much pressure.  She was amazed and really excited that she had been used to be a part of something in this way by God. 


  I told her I would keep her informed.  She was delighted but asked me not to tell anyone who it was that had given me the money.


I phoned up the driving company and they organized a date for a medical.   I passed the medical.   The company then booked me a date for the theory test and I obtained the discs and books to practice for this.    It was all technical jargon about buses and I found it quite difficult to learn. But God said to me, “you put the information in and I’ll bring it out”


I found out there was also a hazard perception part to the test two nights before the actual test date.   I immediately began to practice for this but found it was very difficult to do as you are required to hit the computer key at exactly the right time and it requires a lot of practice to perfect it.  However, I sat the tests and passed the theory by 58 out of 60 marks and I also managed somehow to pass the hazard test.


I then went on to take the driving lessons.   I was told I would require 20 hours of lessons and I could either take them over five afternoons, five hours each day and sit my test on the last day, the Friday.  Or I could take them all day Saturday and Sunday 8 hours each day and 4 hours on the Monday prior to sitting the test.   I opted for the afternoons.   Although I doubted I would be able to cope with even 5 hours driving in the one day!


After driving for 4 hours on the first afternoon I took a frozen shoulder through trying to change the gears.  The gear stick which was 2ft high was very stiff. I had to have my seat so far forward because of my height so the gear stick was actually behind me which made it really hard to select and engage the 6 gears.  My arm became completely stiff and was so painful and weak that I couldn’t carry on with the lessons and the Instructor said he didn’t think I would be able to do it, so I cancelled the rest of them and cancelled my test date as I could see no way forward.  I was secretly relieved.


When I told Jim he asked me if I had thought to ask God to heal my arm.   I realized I hadn’t so he prayed for me and immediately the pain and stiffness went. (Oh no!!!!) I couldn’t believe it, I had been given a miracle I hadn’t even wanted.


Despite my reservations I had been very disappointed in myself at giving up so easily, so I phoned and booked more lessons.  


I knew God wasn’t going to let me down, I knew He would somehow continue to get me through this, despite myself.


I began the lessons again, this time all day on the Saturday and Sunday.  I did wonder how I was going to manage driving for so long. (8 hours each day)  I was convinced my arm would give up again.   Also, I can’t usually drive for longer than an hour in a car without needing a wee power nap
It was exhausting and I found it very hard to learn everything required to drive the bus.   I found it so hard to steer and keep the bus in the correct lane in the road.   There is no centre mirror but I had to check my side mirrors every six seconds as the back end of the bus can easily go up on the pavement or over the centre white line and hit another car.  I found it terrifying to take my eyes off the road to do this.   Every time I looked in the side mirrors the back end of my bus was not where it should have been!


It felt so scary being responsible for 20 tons of metal thundering along the road.  I had to make sure I was selecting the correct gear according to the speed and I had to keep checking the revs on the dials, which took up a lot of my concentration. 


I also had to keep checking my speed on the inner part of the dial which was in small orange writing inside the large white dial, as opposed to being large dark letters on the white dial as it is on a car…  I was so conscious that it was taking me ages to register the speed in my head, which meant it felt like my eyes were off the road for too long whilst doing this.   This made me inwardly panic.


I especially found it very hard to constantly move my head back and forward to look at the two side mirrors whilst driving forward round a roundabout or round a bend etc. and to try and control this long 30 foot bus at the same time.


The indicators don’t go off on their own so I had to manually put them back off each time.  That took a lot of getting used to and was something else I had to concentrate on and remember. 


When doing a downhill start I was told I had to start in 3rd gear, with the handbrake off and my foot on the brake.   At all other times I was to begin in 2nd gear!!!   I was all so confusing, I felt I would never get it right.


I also had to watch out for all the road signs relating to buses, as well as being aware of all the other road signs.  Just the same as if I was sitting my car test all over again.   I couldn’t believe how many of the road signs I didn’t know.


I had to drive on narrow country roads, busy main roads, narrow housing scheme roads and around many very small and very large roundabouts in  areas I wasn’t familiar with.   And also on the motorway, which was really nerve wracking with large lorries passing me on all sides.  And it was often raining heavily.


I had to learn how to reverse the bus in an ‘S’ shape in between two cones and park the back end of the bus within a 2 foot space.   I also had to do a controlled stop.   This requires bringing the bus up to a high speed then quickly stopping within a short distance between two cones.   After many practice times I finally managed these two maneuvers.  But I was still finding the actual driving on the road very difficult as there was so much to think about all at the one time.


My instructor had been in the army and kept shouting at me every time I got something wrong.    He kept saying if the bus went out of the lane I would fail, if I went over the speed limit I would fail, if I went under the speed limit I would fail, if I didn’t manage to turn the corner in one go I would fail, if I forgot to put my indicators off I would fail, if I didn’t change gear in the correct speed and rev I would fail, if I touched the pavement I would fail, if I didn’t check my blind spots I would fail, if I didn’t keep my eye on the door at all times when opening and closing it at bus stops I would fail, if I didn’t keep checking my side mirrors I would fail, if I didn’t stop the bus at the exact space at the bus stops I would fail, if I stopped too near or too far from the kerb at the bus stops I would fail. 


I wondered “how was I ever going to pass”!  I wished I had never started it and thought it was so stupid to expect me to be able to do this at my age.   I just wanted a quiet stress free life.


However, God kept telling me to press on and reminded me of a verse that I speak over myself often from Joshua 1:9. “I am determined and confident.   I am not afraid or discouraged, for the Lord my God is with me wherever I go”.


After the lessons over the two and a half days, on Saturday 30 June and Sunday 1 July, I sat the 1 ½ hour long test, on Monday 2 July 2007 and failed.  I took the wrong lane round a roundabout and I slightly rubbed a pavement with the back wheels.   I also passed a bus on a very narrow country road at about 20mph but I should have slowed down to a crawl to do so.  I realized this when from the corner of my eyes I could see the examiner hanging on for dear life!  I was allowed 16 minor faults but no major faults and these were all major so I had no chance.


My nerves were in shreds after the test and I said I would never put myself through all that ever again, but the company had automatically re-booked the test for the following Saturday and said I must try again as that would be the last chance. As they only allow you to sit it twice.  


On the day of the test my daily reading book said, “Help and peace and joy are here.   Your courage will be rewarded.   Painful as this is you will one day see the real reason for it and that it is not cruel testing but tender preparation for the wonderful life work you are to do.   Try to realize that your own prayers are, being most wonderfully answered.   Answered in a way that seems painful to you, but that just now it is the only way.  Success in the temporal world would not satisfy you.   Great success, in both temporal and spirit worlds awaits you.   You will see this had to be” 


Wow! I just knew this was another sign that God was with me in this.   He had been so amazingly faithful I just didn’t want to let Him down now.


On the Saturday as I was driving out of the test centre with the examiner I felt my nerves going and felt I wasn’t going to be able to drive the bus at all.  I felt sick and I was shaking inside at the thought of taking it out onto the roads. So I quickly cried out to God and said, “Please let me know you are here with me“.  


At that point the examiner (they never normally chat to you) said to me, “Why are you doing this, do you have a job lined up?”   I wished he hadn’t spoken to me as I was trying to concentrate on all I had to remember to do, but I told him I was doing it so that I could drive my Church bus.   He asked what Church I was in and I told him.   He said, “Is it the Salt and Light bus you are talking about?” and I said, “yes”.   He said, “I have driven that bus as a favour for Cartsbridge Evangelical Church, who use it on a Thursday evening in Busby.  He went on to say that he was a member of Newton Mearns Baptist Church.  


I couldn’t believe it, the examiner was a Christian!!!!!! God was showing me He was definitely with me.


But that put me under a lot more pressure as I knew that as a Christian the examiner would have to do his job properly and would not pass me unless I was good enough.  I took the bus out into the roads and all nerves had gone and I actually enjoyed the test. 


At the end the examiner took a while to do his paperwork and he then looked at me for what seemed like ages and then he said, “Your prayers have been answered”.   I couldn’t believe it and I jumped up and hugged him.   He said I had done amazingly well and he was really pleased for me.   We chatted for a while and he gave me my Pass Certificate and wished me all the best for my future.  


I noticed I only had 6 minor faults out of an allowed 16, so I didn’t just scrape through, Praise God.  He is truly amazing.


So that was me I was a fully qualified coach and double decker bus driver.  And the blessing was, that I absolutely loved driving the bus, it was great fun and an amazing challenge.     




I enjoyed driving the bus so much and felt stirred by God to drive more.  I said to God I could spare some time, maybe “1 day a week” but I didn’t think any bus companies took people on for 1 day a week.  That weekend I was reading our local newspaper when a full page ad from First Bus jumped out at me.  It said, “If you have a PCV licence and can spare even “1 day a week” we want to hear from you”  I thought, “oh no, here I go again”  I contacted them and got a job.  They told me that although I could drive a bus I wouldn’t actually be considered a bus driver until I had worked with them for a while.  How right they were. 


There was a lot of training and along with that they gave me route training.  Me, who can’t even turn a corner without getting lost, how on earth was I going to learn my way in and around all of the areas in Glasgow. There are about 38 routes to learn and a lot of them intermingle with each other so it can be quite confusing and difficult to know where you are supposed to be going.  Often you are just becoming used to one route when there are detours on it or they change it due to road works or other reasons. Some of the routes can take 2 ½ hours to drive from one end of Glasgow to the other through all the various housing schemes.  I now have a new respect for bus drivers I never knew how much they had to do and how much stress they were under.   As usual I felt as if I would never remember it all and would never find my way round all the different routes, but after what I had already been through I knew God would not let me down and he didn’t!!!


I didn’t realize there was such strict times for arriving at each bus stop.   And although it is unavoidable to be late sometimes, It is a major booking offence by the Inspectors to be early at a stop. So there is quite a strain trying to get to each stop at the right time.   And a strain to have to drive very slowly, so that you are not early at the stops.   (Next time you are becoming frustrated when driving behind a bus that’s driving slowly, please remember all this and have patience with the poor driver).


It was nerve wracking learning all that I had to, on all the many different types of buses, in fact almost as difficult as learning to drive in the first place.  But I got through it and the very first day I was to take a bus out on my own I woke up to a foot of snow, first time like that in years.  But again with God’s help and strength I did it. 


I would go to my own job on the Monday morning, then leave at 1:30 and head for First Bus where I would get a quick bite to eat them pick up a bus and drive for 5 hours then have a break for 40 minutes then drive for another 5 hours till around 1:30am.   Then I had to get back up for my school job the next morning.   It was exhausting and I know that only God could have given me the energy for it.  


I enjoyed meeting lots of other drivers and chatting to many of them whilst sitting in the smelly, dirty and greasy canteen and bothy.    They were all lovely guys.  Although, many of them swore non-stop and told vile jokes   But when they were sitting on their own with me, some of them poured their heart out to me and I could see that God had his eye on a few of them already. I told them about my journey with God and they were amazed.


One of the guys I chatted with told me his sister in law went to my Church and was always talking to him about God!!!   Wow, what’s the odds against that.  600 drivers all on different shifts at different times, and I sat beside one who’s sister in law is a Christian and comes to my Church. Isn’t God amazing!


I can see other reasons why God had me working for First Bus, the training was intense. And driving a bus full of passengers down Renfield Street in Glasgow at tea time rush hour amongst all the other rival bus companies trying to get to the stop first, is an extremely challenging experience.  I felt so much more confident out on the roads as a result and felt I could take the bus anywhere.


And indeed I did have to go on journeys that I would never have managed without all that experience.  One time I had to travel to Leven in Fife to collect the bus after repairs and drive it back to my Church car park.   It took me 2 ½ hours in the pouring rain with high winds and large lorries all around me and over the Forth Road Bridge.   I know for certain that without my experience in First Bus I would never have had the nerve to do that journey.  I was a confident driver and nothing fazed me, not even having to do a 3 point turn on a busy main road one day.  I worked with First Bus for a year, then the following year I got a job during the summer holidays with the Glasgow City Open Top Tour Bus and drove with them for a number of years. 


I continued going out with Salt and Light for a further 7 years and we never missed a week of getting to the Gorbals again.  I had some wonderful times with the people who came on the bus and many of them handed their lives to God and He delivered some of them from their addictions immediately, others we guided to the Teen Challenge rehab and they turned their life around through that.


God is faithful and good and I give Him all the glory.  May you be blessed reading this.