The year ahead


Often I come on here and just don’t know where to begin.

Today is one of those days.

One of the biggest features of the last few days was a trek to the Lake District with some work colleagues, as we were planning to get to the top of Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England. It was part of our training for our three peaks challenge, which for those of you that don’t know is: Scafell Pike – the highest point in England, Snowdon – the highest point in Wales and Ben Nevis – the highest point in Scotland, all done within a time limit. Usually this time limit is all three, including the driving, done in 24 hours. We have decided to go with the alternative option of all three, with driving time excluded, done in 15 hours.

Recently, as part of our training, a small group of us headed up Snowdon. It was useful in terms of highlighting a number of issues that even though we’d planned in detail, we’d still managed to overlook. So doing Scafell Pike, you’d have thought couldn’t throw any more surprises at us… but it did! Both myself and another colleague were particularly ill, and struggled with the physical effort involved in getting both up and down the mountain. Then there was the subject of where to stop for lunch, as quite unlike Snowdon, there was no cafe at the top, just a pile of rocks, surrounded by cloud and icy cold blasts of wind, It wasn’t somewhere you wanted to hang around long! Then the critical issue of no phone coverage! Yes, I know it sounds ridiculous, but it was a genuine, bona-fide problem considering I have almost totally given up my Tom Tom and replaced it with the rather amazing Waze app on my phone, a superb and somehow free app. The only problem with Waze is that you need a 3G signal or better to help it locate you and plan your route. Without a good data signal the phone does little more than make calls and send text messages, it certainly fails at being a sat nav by a long way! Then there was the fact that our original group split, not into just two groups, one fast, one slow, but into a further third group in the middle who didn’t to fall behind, but weren’t keeping up with the faster group.

So we had things to be thinking about before the actual weekend of the climb where we’d have much bigger group numbers, and no room for problems as we wouldn’t be heading home between mountains this time!

In this particular photo of myself, near the summit of Scafell Pike, I am smiling and look happy, although secretly I was dying and crying a river inside. The mind was willing, but the flesh was weak! I’d picked up yet anther virus and was struggling, really struggling on this climb. My body just wanted to curl on and go back to bed! I thought I could probably just push through it, but nearly collapsed several times on the way down as I got closer and closer to the bottom! My legs had totally given up, on what should have been a fairly easy walk! I was eventually able to rest them and stretch the muscles enough so that I could at the very least climb back in and continue to drive the bus back home, although it did highlight the issue of making sure we have enough drivers on hand that weekend to each do their stint of driving, rather than just relying on one or two people. The only mountain we didn’t practise is the only one I haven’t been up yet, Ben Nevis! On a plus note, we did get to test the walkie talkies I bought and they were a success!

If anyone is keen to help, we are all doing this challenge, and facing the elements in order to raise money for a local charity close to our hearts, especially considering the nature of our jobs, and that is Resources For Autism and you can help by sponsoring a small amount (or large if you’re feeling generous and its the right side of payday for you!) by going to our team JustGiving page. We’re still a long way off our target  yet, and would be grateful for every single donation, no matter how small!

The only available day to climb happened to coincide with fathers day here in the UK and sadly I couldn’t be in two places at once. I was treated to a very nice surprise when I got home from my walk though, the wife apparently knows me very well!

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For my green fingered friends, I have been able to get more done in the garden recently and I am quite proud of the fact that I have vegetables growing out there and not just flowers, even though the flowers are very beautiful and doing wonders for the bee population! With the loss of the joint allotment I shared with my friend I was left with a lot of vegetable seeds, some of which I had already planted and had started growing. Now I have turned a corner of the garden into a mini allotment, which I thought the wife would protest at, but she has been very supportive about it. We have some cucumbers beginning to appear, the broccoli and brussel sprouts are doing very well and should be ready for late autumn, the cabbage is down and starting to grow, the french beans have found the garden canes and are starting to climb them, the strawberries are doing well and the first strawberry has even begun to appear, and the onions have finally gone in the ground. In the greenhouse the tomato plants look as if we are about to have a tomato explosion, although my habanero and cayenne chilli plants have massively failed for some strange reason this year! Oh well, you can’t win them all!

Olivia apple 1

The apple tree I planted at the top of the garden is coming on a treat, however, and has even started to grow its first apple this year! This will come as much of a delight to Olivia, who in the last 10 days has literally discovered apples and has pretty much announced them as her favourite food of all time, she just can’t get enough of them and will often hold onto one for several hours taking occasional bites from it just when you think its ready for the bin!

What have you got growing in your garden at the moment?

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