Day 165 has been a mash up of the weekend and seen new friends made and 3.3 miles walked while climbing 894 feet.

Saturday saw the long journey back from the lakes completed before a rapid washing of clothes and repacking of kit for I was heading straight onto Edinburgh. I had volunteered to come and meet some friends of a friend made on the challenge. They were an eclectic mix of people coming from Israel, London and North Carolina in the United States and sounded so much fun that I really wanted to come and meet them. They were all coming to visit Scotland for the first time and had asked for some advice as to what to do and see when they came. Their first port of call was Edinburgh so I travelled in to come and meet them.

So after church in St Paul’s and St George’s, in which I received a most fascinating sermon on the second life, I discovered my intelligence was right. They were a most delightful group of people, Sinora and her children Jessie (15) and Nathan (12) from London and her Mum from Israel, plus Tom, Lisa, Erin (13) and Annalisa (8) from the US. I was met with smiles and hugs before we all shot off to the castle for a visit. They had pre-booked tickets. Having just come from the lakes I hadn’t managed to catch up with the plan so hadn’t booked ahead so went to queue but found the queue to be at least an hour long, the tickets were expensive and it was likely that the children would want to do something else in an hour or so. I guessed that it was best not to spend all that money on an entrance that I might not have had the time to use. So I went for a Mocha instead and caught up on some emails. My hunch was right. No sooner had I swallowed the last mouthful than they were on their way out from the castle. We linked up and went for lunch in Zizzi’s. It was a fantastic lunch in a restaurant that was tucked away in a corner of Edinburgh but just off the Royal Mile and delighted in receiving a large group with children too. The service was great, the food was great, but most importantly we had time to get to know each other. I loved joining them all for lunch. The children were sat to my left which is my hearing side so I could hear all that was going on. They delighted in talking to each other and seeing who could do the best still life drawing of the water jugs. There was some real talent there and they were happy so I switched my concentration across to the adults. Sinora’s Mum was so very happy keeping an eye on the children and spending time with them which is of course so difficult when living so very far away. So Sinora, Lisa, Tom and I started chatting. I found out about the exciting invention that Tom was working on in the States and how he loved to fly but had given up his pursuit for a private pilot’s licence in order to spend more time with the children. I then learned how Lisa had felt it so wonderful that her husband wanted to spend time with the children and in so doing give up on his life-long dream, that she felt so sad for Tom that she almost had no choice and certainly felt drawn to encouraging Tom to just be Tom, be the man she had so fallen in love with, and take up his dreams of flying again once the children were a little older. I heard of the wonderful stories of memories had as the family all flew together with Dad at the controls but also heard of the strong faith that Tom and Lisa shared and that had brought them together. I was swept into the warm embrace of a loving family so full of life and excitement so I thoroughly enjoyed lunch and decided to share with them all the story of the challenge. I had a flyer with me so handed it over and gave them a very brief synopsis of the challenge. Well I meant it to be brief, but as I spoke I sensed a very quick connection with what I was saying. I heard that Lisa had also undergone brain surgery for a very painful condition that was operated on and is now healed, but was then also encouraged enormously by their shared belief that God can achieve the most miraculous things and that the brain is an incredibly powerful and flexible organ. That it can take a very long time but that the brain really can be trained to take on other functions. Incredible examples were given to me to illustrate the point and as the emotion of the conversation and the difficult situation I found myself in grew so our eyes welled up but so my resolve to beat the beast became encouraged further. Lunch was over far too quickly but from the generosity of my new friends I found that lunch was paid for. I was hugely thankful for their generosity and off we went to take the children to the tour of Mary King’s Close. Again I was behind the power curve to have a ticket but Sinora tried to get me added to theirs but the tour was already full to capacity. I actually needed a walk. The emotion of such powerful and wonderful shared stories at lunch had brought me close to a partial seizure and I had managed to push it away but was still feeling duzzy. I needed to get some air and get the blood pumping. I would meet them back at the entrance to Mary King’s Close in an hour. So I walked and walked around the old city so full of wonderful old wee streets and stairways revealing delightful architecture, views and surprises at every turn. The city’s street performers were out mesmerising the passing tourists, and me, with illusions, magic and just pure artistic brilliance so the hour passed quickly as did the duzziness. I felt better. Much better. Having linked back up we walked back to the hotel, stopping for ice cream on the way. Back at the hotel Sinora’s Mum took the children up to babysit them while we all went for a drink at the Dome. I had not been in for many years and had forgotten how magnificent the roof was. The team ordered beer and cocktails and I, being terribly British, or more aptly slightly wary of triggering a seizure, ordered a pot of tea. We chatted some more and I took the opportunity to catch up with Sinora and swap notes on the joys of bringing up children aged 15 and 12. The conclusion was simply it is challenging, yes, but so full of wonderful memories and jolly well rewarding. Time to go and have tea, we agreed a plan for tomorrow. We were to meet at their hotel at 0930hrs and go to climb Arthur’s Seat.

Sinora and Friends at Arthurs Seat
Sinora and Friends at Arthurs Seat

I headed back, sorted my kit, prepared my map and had my vegetable pick and mix bag not eaten for lunch for tea. Kit packed and ready to go I went to bed excited about tomorrow but wishing my own two could be with me to come and have fun with us all.

After a great night’s sleep and a quick breakfast I was on the bus and heading for George Street. We met up, checked that everybody had the right kit and ordered some taxis. With hire cars booked to arrive for the trip to the Trossachs and the next stage of this wonderful tour of Scotland we had to be back for 1300hrs. So let’s make life easier for ourselves by starting the walk from the bottom of the hill. I had never taken a walk by taxi before but couldn’t argue with the logic. It was a brilliant idea so off we went. Once at Holyrood we regrouped from the taxis and I briefed the children. I was delighted to learn that they were keen on the outdoors so when I asked them to help me orientate the map and show me where they thought Arthur’s Seat might be, and therefore which way to walk, they were absolutely bang on. They were all ready, and with a keen breeze blowing and dropping our temperature, were keen to get going so get going we did. The children strode off ahead with Tom while I brought up the rear and as we turned a corner my heart sank. There were all the children, sat on the side of the path looking like they had had enough. I had anticipated that such a situation might have occurred albeit a little further up the hill than we had got so had brought a bag of fun sized mars bars as an incentive. I went to remove my rucksack to get to them wondering whether or not we should actually take them any further up the hill. Would it put them off hillwalking for life if we pushed too hard? But as I did so I learnt very quickly that the children weren’t ready to go back. They were itching to get up the hill and were just waiting for us because we were taking forever!! That was brilliant news and clearly deserved a Mars Bar. They were well-received from kids to Mums and Dad, and me of course, and on we pushed. It was a fabulous morning. The sun shone brightly and the fresh breeze was warm so not too chilling giving plenty of time to enjoy the glorious views over Edinburgh while also grabbing a group photo together. Everybody made it up to the trig point, touched it and came down for the photo as there were lots of walkers today. As we did so and the children surveyed the view I learned that there was some reticence this morning from the children. They were more inclined to want to stay in the hotel with Sinora’s Mum and play Minecraft. As we stood high above Edinburgh so full of the wonderful feeling caused by all the endorphins the body gives you as a reward after conquering a fear, or a physical challenge, or even just doing something worthwhile, I smiled. These children were on cloud 9 as they surveyed the glories of God’s wonderful creation in the volcanic plug on which we stood, the Crags around us and the sea below us blended with man’s incredible creation of the city of Edinburgh blending into the backdrop of the hills beyond. Photos and panoramics completed we set off for the Holyrood car park. The children once again ran on ahead with Tom acting as the link man and soon enough we were at the car park. No taxis needed though. All just wanted to keep walking so walk to the hotel we did taking the opportunity, before heading North, to soak up the last of the sights, sounds and smells of Edinburgh. As we arrived at the hotel in perfect time to square themselves away there was time for hugs and kisses and fond farewells. As we did so I asked Nathan the mountain goat, who had bounced around the rocks like he had been born on them, ‘That was so much better than playing Minecraft, wasn’t it?’ He was, I think, so caught out by the question that he very nearly answered without hesitation and still flushed with success a resounding ‘Yes!’ He caught himself just in time but we all heard it so giggled as his eyes twinkled the acknowledgement that actually he did really rather enjoy it. In fact all the children loved it and did so terribly well impressing me hugely.

It was time to go our separate ways but before we did I repeated my offer to be a guide for them in the Trossachs. If they want to climb a small mountain, sail on a loch or take a boat trip across a loch to cycle around it again? Well I would be delighted to guide them. I headed for my celebratory Mocha and a flapjack and as I did so I realised that for the first time in quite sometime I was feeling, well almost feeling ……. normal. That was brilliant. There were no flapjacks so I settled for a very naughty ham and cheese croissant with the Mocha before heading back to consume another veggie pick and mix bag for lunch. I so very much hope that they do call me. Perhaps we could link up the children with my two. I have a sneaking suspicion that they would all get on brilliantly.

But before they do I had better give you the challenge in numbers:

Days completed: 165
Total Miles Cycled: 867.38
Total Miles Walked: 915.3
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.1,997.94
Total Height Gained under own steam: 80,355.68 feet
Mountains Climbed: 7
Hills Climbed: 32
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: 526
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: 1004
Days until Driving Licence (lost to epilepsy) possibly Returned: 714
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