Day 159 has seen 7 Miles walked as I took on the circumnavigation of the Harlaw and Threipmuir reservoirs. 

Up the hill to watch James sledging
Walking to Balerno Pond

On Tuesday my brain froze to such an extent that I couldn’t orientate myself to the ground and work out where I had to go. A friend had to come across the city to rescue me.  Yesterday, I had one of those creeping partial seizures. It started with 3D vision as I ate lunch, resulting in a complete loss of depth perception. I ordered a black tea to help me wash down lunch and struggled to add milk or even stir it. I had to sort of wave the milk jug then the teaspoon in the general direction of the mug until I hit it. Then I knew where I was in relation to the mug and could pour the milk or stir my tea. Normally the tingling sensation and inability to speak swiftly follow the onset of 3D vision but yesterday it didn’t. I thought that I had managed to push it away, but as I walked through the city towards Boots to get some contact lens solution, the tingling came to my left hand.  It crept, inch by inch up my arm as the hive of bees made their agitated way up towards my neck. Sure enough, as I reached Boots I was struggling to swallow and then as I made it upstairs to the opticians I realised that I couldn’t speak. Almost as if the plum in my mouth had grown to such an extent that I could no longer use my tongue, lips and cheeks to form words. I strode up to the counter trying to look normal, and determined to beat it, but as I tried to ask for Synergy contact lens solution all that came out was a series of grunts that formed no words of any recognisable nature.  Here I was in Edinburgh supposedly to support a friend in an important meeting but as I tried to do a little shopping I suddenly found that it was I that needed support not my friend. I sounded like a young man with a severe learning disability and certainly gave the assistant nothing that she could work with from my grunts. As my eyes welled up with the increasing frustration and the fear of not knowing how far this creeping seizure was going to take me in the middle of this huge city, the assistant looked at me hesitantly, helplessly and shrugged her shoulders in a pleading and sorry sort of a way. I turned and looked at my friend. The next thing I knew was that I was conducting hill reps up and down a set of steps in Princess Street Gardens. Each time I reached the top I was asked a question and when I grunted a reply I was pushed back round, taken back down the steps and sent back up. It sounds brutal, but my friend knew exactly what I needed having witnessed a seizure in the hills.  After each repetition I was slowly but surely coming back. After that experience, today I was very uncertain about taking to the hills in poor weather with a brain that seemed a little unstable. I needed a route that would give me good clear handrails and shelter from the weather, but enough distance to really work me hard. So I decided to walk the 7 miles of the Balerno Ponds with two large reservoirs to circumnavigate. It was another very wet day but on I went succeeding quite easily to navigate around this route. It was a pleasant enough walk although the views were lost to the rain shrouding the hills. And surprise surprise there was almost nobody else out walking so I met nobody and grew gradually more and more depressed by the lack of anything to write until I reached the Rangers hut. There. Right there was a small catering trailer. It was smartly presented but bitter experience of polystyrene cups and instant coffee put me off the idea of a celebratory Mocha. However, as I came towards the end of lunch, I thought I would have a look and was delighted to hear that they did proper decaf coffee, and that they could do me a Mocha, and then even better… when I tasted it, it was actually a proper Mocha. No yukky syrups. Hoorah. Needless to say I couldn’t resist telling the delightful lady in the ‘Vanilla Pod’ all about the challenge. I very much hope that she does enjoy her glass of wine this evening and comes to join me on this journey doing all she can to help me raise awareness and find some more sponsors.

So it was time to retrace my steps back but so very soon after leaving the Rangers hut I found myself stuck with a brain freeze. I was stood on a track junction and struggling to orientate my map. I wasn’t at all sure which way I should be going to get back to Balerno for the transport back. But rather than getting too upset I fished out my compass and took a map bearing of each of the paths. Using Grid to Mag Add and a magnetic variation of approximately 150 degrees West I was able to identify the correct track I was to head down. So I set off more buoyant that although my head couldn’t relate ground to map accurately I could still use a compass effectively. It took a while but I got there and as I walked some poetry came to mind.

‘Compass compass in my hand. Which way to go in this glorious land?  As I stand at this track junction trying to navigate through cloudy mind do I have the gumption?
As I stand in pouring rain
Am I totally insane?!?
Looking east I like the least
But looking west the path seems best
The shorter way it takes me West
The longer way it takes me east
So I go that way to Beat the beast!’

‘So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with your righteous right hand.’

— Isaiah 41 verse 10.

So the challenge in numbers: 
Days completed: 159
Total Miles Cycled: 800.44
Total Miles Walked: 876.83
Total Miles Run: 126.33
Total Miles Paddled: 7
Total Distance Cycled, Skied, Run and Rowed in the gym: 42.17
Total Distance Swum: 4,180 metres
Total Miles covered under own steam.1,857.37
Total Height Gained under own steam: 71,908 feet
Mountains Climbed: 7
Hills Climbed: 28
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: 12
Weight shifted: 10kgs lifted over 318metres or 6360kgs moved over ½ a metre,
Aerobic Circuit Sessions: 8
Press Ups: 599
Pull Ups: 14
Sit Ups: 864
People Met and Hands Shaken: 505
Pots of tea shared: 31
Prayers joined on the top of a hill: 3
Prayers joined in the street!: 4
Prayers joined in a Train Station: 1
Prayers joined in a Café: 2
Pills popped: 952
Days until Driving Licence (lost to epilepsy) possibly Returned: 730
And most importantly – Money Raised as at Week 42 – £8,318

Considering I started this challenge 10 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 £52.31 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.

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 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