Looking over lake Windermere
Looking over lake Windermere

Day 162 is a mash up of a manic few days that has seen 22.94 miles cycled climbing 1226 feet, a funeral attended and inspiration gained, a very long journey and 10 miles walked with friends and new friends made.

On Friday I had to get to Edinburgh to link up with a friend whom I was travelling with to attend the funeral of her mother in law in Kincraig. I was meant to get there early but like a complete dunderhead I had left my cool bag and heavy glass water bottle at the sailing club in Loch Venachar. I would normally have left them there to collect later but as I was going to be away for 10 days or so and needed both items I had to go and fetch them. Normally one would think, not a problem, just jump in the car and dash down there, grab the items, dash back, pick up your suitcase and walking kit and jump in the car again and off you go. But one of the frustrations of this disease has been the development of epilepsy with the subsequent loss of my driving licence. So instead I had to jump on my bike, and cycle 11.47 miles climbing 613 feet to grab the kit and cycle the 11.47 miles back climbing another 613 feet before jumping in the bath to wash after getting all hot and sweaty as I really didn’t want to stink out the No.59 bus or the train from Stirling to Edinburgh. It could have been immensely frustrating, especially as the weather was supposed to be exceptionally wet, but I cycled 22.94 miles in bright sunshine along some of the most beautiful countryside and lochs in the country, if not Europe or the World, with hardly a car met. So although it was a rather rude start to the day as I left at 0700hrs it was a marvellous few miles until the last couple of miles along the side of Loch Venachar in which I suddenly felt decidedly dizzy and fuzzy on the bike. It got so bad that I thought that I wanted to stop but also feared that if I did I would be found collapsed in the side of the road with the bike on top of me. Like so many near seizures before I found that good physical exercise helped drive them away. This felt like a near seizure so I decided to keep going, pick up the pace and cycle as hard as I could into Callander. I pushed hard, very hard and by Callander the seizure had gone so in celebration and for want of a little friendly company, I stopped by the Deli Ecosse for a hug and a Mocha. Both were delivered with a smile and the wonderful trademark Julie giggle. I felt much better but couldn’t stay long. I had a bus to catch. On the way back up and over the top road into Doune I started to feel all dizzy and fuzzy headed again but I worried not. There was no traffic on the road and it was uphill for quite a while which meant that I was going slowly, but working extremely hard, so was likely to blow it out of the system but at the same time less likely to hurt myself if I fell off. As I puffed and panted up the hill I suddenly realised how I was feeling previously. I was Duzzy. Very, very Duzzy. It is a new word but a great word I feel for describing that feeling so many experience with a migraine, or when suffering a diabetic low, or when going through the menopause, or when hung over from too much alcohol the night before, or when going through hard hitting treatments like Chemotherapy or Radiotherapy. Just very very dizzy, off balance with a very very foggy head that frankly struggles to engage with the simplest of tasks. Duzzy. All you want to do when feeling Duzzy is to rest one’s head on one’s hands while sitting at a table holding on tightly as the room spins around you. It is a most grotesque feeling but thankfully for me passes quickly with physical exercise. The only time it didn’t was when caught on the loo with my trousers around my ankles reading as I waited for my constipated body to do something, anything. The next thing I knew was that I had woken up on the floor of the loo paralysed from the neck down as described in my post for Day 24. But on Friday, battering up the hill was just what I needed. The bath back home was super shallow just in case and before too long I was on the bus to Stirling then the train to Edinburgh.

New Friends in the Lake District
New Friends in the Lake District

Once in Edinburgh I met up with Jane and the girls Anna (11) and Emily (9). I hadn’t met the girls before and knew that it was going to be a difficult time because we were going to Kincraig to give thanks for the life of their grandmother. So I decided to be on my best slightly naughty behaviour to try and make them smile by eating tenderstem broccoli like Ermintrude from The Magic Roundabout while flicking my glasses up and down rather rapidly from the back or just by simply pulling faces when no-one else was watching and certainly it made them smile in the pizza express while we ate a late lunch. Saturday saw me spend a little more time getting to know Jane and the girls a bit better while walking around Holyrood Palace to see the Queen’s wardrobe exhibition which the girls loved, before heading up to Grantown on Spey on Sunday. We managed to get to church in Edinburgh first then headed North passing the burial place of my much loved Step Grandfather, Grandfather ‘G’ in Newtonmore whose own funeral and burial I remember well as I attended immediately after a long and rather arduous exercise in Kielder Forest. As Grandfather ‘G’ was a Lovat Scout during and post the second war we were allowed to use a military piper for the funeral and I was allowed to hitch a lift in the Landrover that the Battalion had so kindly provided for us with a driver. The drive up squeezed into the back of an old Army Landrover with the piper and all our exercise kit but also all our ceremonial kit for the funeral shivering violently as we nodded our heads in sleep, our faces burning after a hasty and rather cold shave and shower before getting into the back of the Landrover was quite a journey in itself. Reminiscence over, we arrived at Pitlochry for an overnight in a B&B. Then on Monday morning we were up and packed and into the funeral of Elisabeth in Kincraig. Having only very recently become friends with Jane I had never had the pleasure of meeting Elisabeth but so wish I had because I left that funeral inspired and encouraged by all I had heard. Elisabeth and Tim had led the most amazing life in Christian mission organisations dedicated to bringing relief to so many souls who found themselves wanting for help and assistance due to war or intense poverty and famine. Elisabeth had woven herself so tightly and positively into the lives of so many people and had clearly left an everlasting impression as she followed the guiding light of Jesus Christ throughout her working and retired life. What a woman, what a story, what a privilege to be able to witness the love and respect such a woman had earned from her friends and family. I left deeply inspired and encouraged by her spirit.

After the funeral I stopped briefly for a coffee with members of the family and friends before heading South to pick up my walking kit from Doune and travelling further South to the Lakes. I was walking with friends for the next few days in the Lake District. Tuesday was a food shop and orientation to the area before then planning the walking for the next few days and who I was going to meet and where but today was a brilliant day in which we walked the 10 miles from Windermere to Grasmere through glorious Lakes countryside and met a wonderful group of 4 walkers who were a family group of Father, Mother, Daughter and husband all originally from the UK and New Zealand but now living in Australia. As we passed Wendy, Mike, Margaret and Mike I got a strong urge to tell them about the challenge and as I did so I discovered why. Not only were they the most delightful family but I also learned of the loss of Wendy’s first husband to a brain tumour. It was a tough thing to hear for me but equally a tough thing for Wendy to revisit and I am so sorry that our meeting resurrected such sadness, but I have to thank you for your admission to me in such stark terms about the loss of your husband to a brain tumour over quite a quick period of time for it has energised my determination to beat this beast. As I walked I reflected on the inscription written by Alfred Wainwright and seen on a stone at Orrest Head and another stone near it. ‘Quite suddenly we emerged from the shadows of the trees and were on a bare headland, and, as though a curtain had been dramatically torn aside, beheld a truly magnificent view. This was truth. God was in heaven that day and I a humble worshipper.’
‘Thou who has given me eyes to see and love this sight so fair. Give me a heart to find out thee and read thee everywhere.’
I realised why I walked. By walking in God’s glorious creation, I find friends, but I also find peace from all that troubles me, stability from all that threatens me, healing from all that hurts me, and a belief, a true belief, that I really can beat this beast.

Lake Windermere
Lake Windermere

On the way back on the bus I learned that two friends can no longer make the walking in the lakes but I will just crack on. After all, walking heals the soul! I feel a hill coming on tomorrow.
Have a lovely evening but before you do:

The challenge in numbers in total since the start:

Days completed: 162
Total Miles Cycled: 867.38
Total Miles Walked: 898.33
Total Miles Run: 152.23
Total Miles Paddled: 7
Total Distance Cycled, Skied, Run and Rowed in the gym: 53.53
Total Distance Swum: 4,580 metres
Total Miles covered under own steam.1,982.97
Total Height Gained under own steam: 77,375.7 feet
Mountains Climbed: 7
Hills Climbed: 29
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: 14
Weight shifted: 10kgs lifted over 558metres or 11,160kgs moved over ½ a metre,
Aerobic Circuit Sessions: 9
Press Ups: 739
Pull Ups: 22
Sit Ups: 1204
People Met and Hands Shaken: 513
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: 988
Days until Driving Licence (lost to epilepsy) possibly Returned: 718
And most importantly – Money Raised as at Week 44 – £8,771

Considering I started this challenge 11 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 £54.48 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.
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
Yours aye

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