Wednesday 28 December 2011

So, how was it for you and what’s next?

This year has been a funny one, kind of average interspersed with the odd event.

It all started well, when David was told we would be here till the end of his career. A week later, we were told he was moving. Great.

In May, I did my first Challenge. I’d first heard of the Challenge in 2008 and started planning. I knew I was in no way experienced or fit enough to enter in 2009, so David and I took an unexpected opportunity and entered as a pair in 2010. Unfortunately, we weren’t successful in the draw and didn’t manage to stumble off the top of the stand by list, so had thought we would have to wait until the children were much older and could be left to fend for themselves. Until I wondered out loud if I could possibly manage alone… My entry was successful and in May, I set off from Shiel Bridge for my own little adventure. I had a blast.

During the summer, our eldest took her Standard Grades and got five 1s and three 2s. How proud we are!

As a family, we had a fantastic holiday, staying in a luxury cottage on Orkney. There was wildlife, tourism, a little walking and a bit of geocaching. Fabulous.

There was then a bit of a quiet time whilst I entered and then waited for news for Challenge 2012. My successful entry and Rhiannon’s sixteenth birthday was all around the same time, so there was plenty to celebrate and then planning to finish off before submitting a route.

As for Christmas, David was able to get home in good time, just as I started with a cold. Luckily, that peeked on Christmas Eve. Unluckily, I was struck down with a migraine on Christmas Day, but late on, so at least I didn’t miss any of the festivities.

So, on to the New Year, and what’s going to be new?

We’ll continue to ‘manage’ with David being down South, although I have to say it’s not much fun. He’s going back to his OU studies, to pass the time and to give him another string to his bow. Oh, and he’ll have a Significant Birthday in April…Rhiannon is studying hard for her Highers, so I’m sure she’ll have great success there. Aedan is doing extremely well in both his archery and shooting, as well as maintaining his studies, which doesn’t come so naturally to him. Ciara, well, Ciara smiles and the world smiles with her and Conall seems to jog along in the same way.

I’ve decided on my next OU course, but I won’t start it until after May. It’ll give me something to do in the post Challenge downtime instead of planning my next route! The Challenge? Ah yes, I’m really looking forward to that. This route will be more testing, of both my abilities and my character, but I don’t feel anywhere near so nervous or doubtful this time. Now I have all my accommodation booked (didn’t I mention that?) all I need to do is buy a few supplies and I’ll be ready. Oh, and the getting fit bit, might have to work on that.

So, there you go. And so does another year, gone, just like that. How was yours? All the very best for 2012 and maybe I’ll see a few of you somewhere along the way!


Sunday 25 December 2011

All the very best

Happy Christmas everyone!

Wednesday 7 December 2011

Best boots, calorie counting, frustrating forecast and rear reducing, not necessarily in that order

(The calories and the rear are not necessarily connected in this particular post!)

The frustrating forecast forced my favourite friend and I to forego our foray into the fresh air until next week, if the forecast is more favourable.

(On a roll!)

The slippery, slushy conditions have caused me to concentrate considerably on every step, thus producing a rear reducing regime.

(I’m bored now.)

I have also been spending time on subjects more Challenge related.

I am determined to wear my Merrells on the Challenge next May, but every day I walk in my Brashers and I love them so much, I am expecting a little wobble come D day! Every day I put them on and it’s like the bestest, comfiest slippers. They are just my favourite footwear, but I know there’s a good chance of a repeat mega blister on my tricky heel, so I must wear my Merrells, equally comfortable, lighter and they will dry more quickly in any wet conditions I ‘might’ encounter. Merrells it must be. But I do love my Brashers!

(I feel disloyal.)

Calorie counting has become a little bit of an obsession. Not from a rear reducing point of view, I might add! After my Challenge in May, I realised I had a couple of days, well, a few maybe, when my mood had been affected by ‘something’. As I thought about this in more detail, I realised a common theme.

The first day I’d noticed a downer was day two, the day dear Hugh enquired as to how my day was going and I burst into tears!

“Do you have any chocolate? Eat chocolate!” was his advice and whilst I had initial misgivings, he was, of course, proved correct as my mood improved.

Half way through day five, I suffered another downer, just as I met David and my replacement rucksack. The reaction of my TTS? to feed me. Mushroom soup, Baby Bel, fruit salad and Jaffa Cakes. A short while later my fighting spirit had returned (although, initially it was a determination to prove my shoulder hurt too much, ahem) and I strode off into the distance, a spring in my step.

Our arrival at Tarfside was another obvious food failure day, despite having stopped for hot soup at lunch, along with my lunch staples. We stepped into the teeth of the storm with renewed vigour, but didn’t have shelter enough to snack on the way and arrived at Tarfside decidedly droopy. The mug of hot soup thrust into my hands to warm them soon filled the hole in my tummy before I launched into my evening meal which perked me up.

So, I have been looking more closely at my body fuel and decided it is lacking, but finding the right things that I might fancy and eat (rather than lug across Scotland because they’d be good for me) is proving tricky. I’ve currently totted up 2323 Kcals per day weighing in at 1.579kg for two days, plus the next day’s lunch and snack. So I’m still working on another 700 Kcals per day, preferably without adding too much to the grams!

It’s important though, so I’ll not be skimping. Maybe just imaginative.

Tuesday 6 December 2011

So far, so good

SDC11189 Just visualise the little green tent in a sheltered spot

Well, I had an email from John this morning, I am vetted, yey! My route has drawn some compliments, “an interesting” and “really nice” route and the sort of helpful advice and tips you’d expect and hope for from people far more experienced and knowledgeable than me. I’m delighted! Nothing to change and lots to look forward to.


Now, who’s turn is it to organise the weather?

Friday 2 December 2011

An ‘L’ of a day

I was, as usual, a little late, but as Laura drove up the, er, drive behind me, I was pleased that we had both timed our arrivals to perfection! We parked at Revack Lodge, a little south west of Grantown on Spey, donned walking boots and gaiters, hoisted our day packs and off we went.

This was a bit of a magical mystery walk, not entirely planned by myself, but with a little help from a site I sometimes use, Walkingworld, I’d simply mad a linear walk to Nethy Bridge a circular, by linking with the Speyside Way for our return. Easy.

We were too busy chatting to take the short track to the viewpoint, so continued on. We were soon consulting maps and GPS to pinpoint our location, not entirely where we were expecting, but not lost. We soon arrived at a signpost we were expecting, but found a new barbed wire fence without the expected style.

SDC12336Useful (although the fence probably doesn’t show in the photograph)

We’d passed a gate with a track leading in the right general direction, so we backtracked to take that. A truck and trailer arrived noisily, the driver of which got out and proceeded to open the gate and Laura, being the friendly type, engaged the rather handsome young man in conversation. He explained that they had ‘had’ to replace the fence and providing an access point was complicated by those requiring access with wheels, so a gate was going to have to be inserted near the vehicle access, which would normally be locked.

SDC12337It was a beautiful day

We soon found ourselves crossing a little bridge, slithering our way up a track to then climb the grassy, slippery hillside to join another forestry track, with a couple of noticeable erratics, all the while discussing our last Challenge, routes for our next, gear, Laura’s recent trip and family.

The path eventually reached the road to Nethy Bridge, so we turned west  and headed to Castle Roy, where alongside the remains of the castle there is a pretty little church and church yard.

SDC12338 Castle RoySDC12341Laura photographing Castle Roy. Note the professional pose

SDC12339 The views south, to the hills

SDC12340 Pretty church

We decided this was a good place to lunch and whilst this bench looked like a lovely place to stop in the sun, we rather fancied this little shelter in the graveyard.

SDC12343 Cosy

This wasn’t the only advantage to taking a picnic with unusual company.

SDC12342 Convenient!

Well, it saved us from finding a handy bush on the side of the Speyside Way.

Along the road a tiny bit more we took a farm track to join the Way and headed back east. This was an easy stroll back to the lodge with great views of the hills and of the Spey, looking a little full and fast flowing.

We passed another interesting feature, left behind by the long since disappeared railway.

SDC12344 A railway relic

SDC12345 The lowering sun

As luck would have it, we got back to the cars mid-afternoon and the shop and cafe were still open, so we moved the cars closer to the entrance and made our way into the warm. The shop was full of sparkly Christmas decorations and bling jewellery, but the call of a hot drink was louder. Quite how we ended up with a free coffee and mince pie with brandy butter a piece is a long story, but it certainly made for a cheery end to a wonderful day!

According to the GPS it was 7.6m, although the map suggests nearer 8.4m. It was around 894ft ascent. We walked at about 2.3 mph for roughly 3 hrs and 19 mins with 1 hr and 28 minutes resting. Near enough.

I had a great time.