Bowery Mural

At this point, a few Thanks!! Thanks, Gracias, Merci, Dhanyabad....

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Hi everyone
It has come to the point where I think a few thank you’s need to be given. So... this is to all the people who have so far helped me in some way on my quest to trek to Mount Everest Base Camp, Nepal to raise funds in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care. Some of you may not even know how much you’ve helped, encouraged, believed in me and most importantly inspired me! Huge thanks to you all...

Firstly, my mum and dad (Katie Boo and Jimuck) for just being you. I thought when I mentioned the idea of a trek to Mt Everest base camp you’d be horrified and try to talk me out of it but you’ve surprised me and have been really supportive. Cheers for the laptop last year too Dad, it has been an invaluable tool in my preparation. My beautiful baby nephew Ryan (not so much of a baby now, he’s a big boy at 2!), thanks for making me laugh/smile at least 10 times every day. He’s so cute and even more special now since we found out about his health issues the other day. To my sister Karen for just being you and for giving us Ryan – can’t imagine life without him now.

Cath and Bri (my cousins) for your runs in the car, enthusiasm, encouragement and telling me to go for it! For laughing til we cry and crying til we laugh! Kelly Anne my beautiful blonde haired blue eyed cousin. If Carlsberg made cousins these three would be it. To my brilliant family (too big to mention but here are some of the main players): Auntie Ann; Auntie Norah; Uncle Kevin; Auntie Mary; Auntie Tricia; Uncle Brian; Auntie Ellen; Uncle Sandy; wee John – gone but never forgotten; Granny; Granda; Gran and Pappy (I hope you are all up there looking down and are proud of me).

To friends old and new (Julie, Bernie, Elaine & families) who have ventured off on new journeys to live their dreams in Australia. You've made me realise that I can live my dreams, I should be living my dream and to go for it! To Donna for not going off to Australia and for being a dear friend. Lynne for bringing me out of the doldrums and into the fold a good few years back (she's fearless), for being there and listening, and for getting me to wear a dress for the first time in years to her wedding last year. Happy 1st Anniversary in July Lynne & Rick! Linda, for being there, for listening, for your laughs (& Friday scones) in the office, for your encouragement when the first flicker of thoughts of a trek were in their infancy and also for your cake baking skills – I hope we sell loads of cakes to get my sponsor money going up!! Brigitte, for your positivity and happy outlook on life, when I mentioned the trek to her she said in her elegant French tone – ‘Why not!’, what more can I say. Both Linda and Brigitte for your help, support and 'never give up' attitude during the whole framework process – we did it girls!!! Woo-hoo!!!! Dorothy for your encouragement and a great dinner that night – when are we coming back? Susan for listening to me rant on about stuff and for continuing to push me into making that final booking, thanks and what have you done!?! ha ha, also for the long walk we went on when you were training for Moonwalk, we shall do some more. Sharon, ever present walking buddy, source of advice & enthusiasm and joint chief kit adviser - along with Ian. Ian, joint chief kit adviser, outdoor enthusiast and a great boss (a good guy). Douglas, Big Boss Man, office gossip and the guy who helped me get a grade 5 and a pay rise without which I would never be able to take part in this challenge of a lifetime – many, many thanks! (See Douglas you do get thanks sometimes).

At this point I should also mention Team DASS hill walk: Ian, Douglas, Sam, Sharon and Christine, for that day on the BIG hills when I hit a brick wall – twice! and you kept me going. That really taught me a lot about myself and once I got over the doubts about the trek I thought, hey I can do this! Huge thanks to you all. PS sorry for the snotty nose that day... & the 8pm finish, ha ha. Kev for his chat and happiness when he comes into the office, he brightens up our day! Chris for his tip off about the bargain Rab Atlas 1000 sleeping bag – cheers mate! Happy and safe climbing in the Alps! Billie for her straight talking, no nonsense attitude. Thanks also to all at work who have already sponsored me: Alan, Paul, Susan, Isobel, Brigitte, Cathie, Richard, Iain, Nika and Julie. Really, really appreciated.

Kevin Clarke, University Secretary, for his invaluable advice and encouragement at the very beginning of my journey. Rab Robertson, for the books on trekking in Nepal. Ginnie Willis, excellent Springboard programme leader. She taught me to be assertive like I never knew I could be and gave me the confidence to seek out these many new adventures I have taken over the past 2 years. My fellow beginner Spanish classmates & teacher (Noe, Alex, Margaret, Andrew, Robin & Elaine), Wednesday evenings have never been so fun. Don’t like the Monday evening phone calls though - sorry Noe! Ha ha I’m just kidding. To all the cool students who have come and gone and passed by the office over the past 4 years. I know I shouldn't have favourites but I do, (you have to sponsor me for this!): Jamie W, Ally, Kerry, Paula, Frazer McF, Angela R, David C, Andrew H, Fraser G, Ian H, Nicola H, John, Heather and the one and only Nina... the list could go on & on but I’d be here all day!

Victoria from Charity Challenge and Isla McLean from Marie Cure Cancer Care for answering all my emails, allaying my fears and providing really useful advice about the trek. Tori for alerting me to Trail magazine. Claire and Tom from Trail, and Alison from Glenmore Lodge for making me scramble over rocks and taking me to the summit of my first munro! Had a wonderful day guys, I hope the article turns out ok – eek! ..... and finally, Martin for being a fab source of information and advice (there’s a bakery at Base Camp!, slow & steady walking pace and no singing in the shower!), a great blogger (how will I fill up the first 10 minutes of my working day now!) and a true inspiration, you just don't realise it yet ........ remember ‘What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?’

To all, quite simply...... Thank you!

Angela x

PS Linda - I hope you're not sitting in tears after reading this! Get the tissues :-)

PPS now everyone sponsor me for saying all these good things about you ;-)

Munro 1, part 2 - the descent...

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Hello again, this isn't going to be as long as 'the ascent' so you can breath a sigh of relief.

Well... we managed to make our way back down in 2 and a half hours. Good pace for my first one i was told. It always seems much easier on the way down, why is that? I have to admit to a few sneaky looks back at where we had just come from. Wow, did I really climb up those rocks? Yay me!

We passed the green loch on the way down, so called because of it's jade green water. There were a few kids playing in it as the sun was really strong by now and i resisted the temptation to get my boots off and dip my tired and burning hot feet in it. We made our way back down the welcome terrain of a fairly level track to Glenmore Lodge where i was assured that there would be copious amounts of cake and tea ready. We got back and i wasn't disappointed. Warm scones and the biggest plates of jam and clotted cream you can imagine. Scrumptious!

I made my way back home and got down the road in just a little over 2 hours. I have to admit to getting a bit emotional on he journey home, I think it suddenly hit me what i had done. Sounds weird i know a it's only a Munro but this is all happening pretty quickly (in the space of 3 months) and it's a bit overwhelming at times. But nevertheless i am taking every opportunity that i coming along and is being offered to me. This is the new me! and i like it.

Once again, special thanks must go to Claire, Tom and Alison and all at Glenmore Lodge for a fab day!

Take care,
Angela x

Munro 1, part 1 - the ascent...

Sunday, 22 June 2008

As promised here's the story of my first official munro climbed. Settle in, this could a long one...

Won't bore you with the details but my first munro is to be featured in Trail magazine. Long story about how that came about, ask me for the details if you're interested.

Anyway yeah I'm ashamed to say I'd never been further north than....... well .... Pitlochry! I know, I know shameful living in our lovely country and not having ventured out in it. I'm making up for that now. So I started out on Tuesday afternoon, after a morning at work, for the drive north to Aviemore. I notice the rain coming in and the scenery getting lovelier the further north i drive. I'm hoping it's not raining for my big day tomorrow. I arrive at the guesthouse (Ravenscraig guest house ) and check in, then head out to see the bright lights of Aviemore!! (joke!) and take a drive along to Glenmore Lodge so i know where I'm going the next day (I've to be there by 9am). It's only about 15 minutes drive and the views are amazing so i stop off at a lay by and take some pictures of Loch Morlich and Cairngorm.

I'm undecided about what to have for dinner and settle on the Cairngorm Hotel (plus it's the only place i can find that showing the football ). So there i am settled in, ready and they put two different games on each tv. Sound goes up on the Italy V France game, I'm happy - Holland V Romania doesn't mean much after all, then in walks 4 Dutch people and they request the sound up for the boring Holland game! Rubbish. Oh well i can still see the Italy game so it's fine. So after the games have finished i make a quick exit as the Tuesday night pub quiz is about to begin!

Anyway my day starts with a hearty breakfast at the guesthouse and i have to admit I'm a bit nervous so i can't finish it all. Fruit juice, eggs, bacon, sausages, tea and lashings of toast. Too much for me on a week day but i force as much down as i can as i know I'll need it today. I say my goodbyes ('m not paying as it's all been paid for me!!) then i set off for my adventure. Oh no the butterflies are starting to happen now. At least it's not raining, it's a nice sunny morning in fact. I arrive at Glenmore Lodge and get my boots on, lock the car and head to reception. It all seems very friendly and I'm met by Alison who will be my mountain guide and Nigel (head of training). We head for a cup of tea and a chat then Claire and tom from Trail arrive. They all seem like really nice people.

We head off at about 9.30am along a long, easy smooth track that runs straight from the lodge through a forest of old scots pine trees and passes a beautiful lake with the greenest water you've ever seen - Lochan Uaine. We come to a fork in the track and go right - the left one takes you to Ryvoan Bothy. The track goes on for a bit more and becomes a bit more gravelly. We come to a small wooden bridge and decide this is good for our first break. It is here i get my first sight of Bynack More. It looks pretty high! I get some guidance from Alison on how to read the map and use the compass. I have done some a way long time ago at school but geography was one of my favourite subjects. (Yes, i am a geek!). So we head on again and in between time we stop for a few minutes while Tom takes some pictures (hope he gets my good side ha ha). I am not entirely comfortable with this picture taking malarkey but I do it. Alison confides she is not liking this part either - phew, thought it was only me. The chat ranges from tips and hints for a first time munro bagger (me!) to the use of the words 'munro-bagger' - apparently some people get a bit sensitive and do not like being referred to as a 'munro bagger' or deny that they actively use a tick list! Why?? Anyway we are now making a steady ascent and I'm starting to feel the burn in my legs. We decide to keep going and I'm told I'm a natural and am making good progress at a steady pace. I worry I'm going to be left at the back! I say this worries me a bit and am told that you should go at your own pace and if you are out with more experienced walkers they should be considerate and not rush way ahead of you. I'm told that you'll get there just the same at a slow and steady pace - the tortoise and the hare story!!

We're now about half way there and stop for a bite to eat and more water. We are on a fairly level plateau now, a vast gently rolling upthrust of pink granite and the wind is starting to become stronger. The views are fantastic and more photos are taken. I look up and see what i think is the summit but am told the summit is out of view (I'm finding a pattern to these summits!) A jet flies over in the distance and twists and turns from side to side and i wonder what it muse be like to do that!!! But no, i have to focus on my current task in hand. After about 20 minutes we head off again and up ahead i can see a much steeper part that doesn't appear to have an obvious track (uh oh!). Alison gets me to scramble over a fairly large flat rock, the camera clicks in the background, that was a fairly easy thing i think to myself. I'm not scared of heights or anything but never imagined I'd be climbing over rocks and stuff. High five Ange! So we head off and start our ascent to the summit.

The weather is kind of closing in so it's time for the waterproofs to go on. I already have my jacket on and then proceed to embarrass myself by struggling trying to get my trousers on. What an idiot. Now if you've been reading these blogs form the start you'll know that i have only recently taken up this hill walking business and am slowly buying kit. I realised as i struggled on a rock in the wind and rain, that this was the first time I'd tried getting my waterproof trousers on over my boots. Of course I've tried them on in the house - in my bare feet, but not with the boots. I tried to play it cool and pretended the zip was stuck, i don't think they noticed ha ha. So i got them on eventually and this was another to be another photo op on the rocks in the rain (well it was really on a small shower).

So onwards and upwards, I'm getting used to this rock climbing thing apart from a few hairy moments and slips but on the whole it's fine and a pretty good feeling when you look down and see what you've done. I look up and see what i think is the summit and I'm told, yes you guessed it, this is not the summit it's about another few metres away - of course it is! So then i catch sight of the summit cairn and reach it at just over 3 and a half hours, not bad going for a first timer i say. Woohoo! congratulations all around and few souvenir snapshots are taken, then we take shelter from the wind and have another food/drink break. The views are amazing and Alison is showing me different hills and river in the distance. Tom suggest it's Ben Nevis next for me as i seem to have found this one easy - eh I think not!! Claire has meanwhile not asked me many direct questions but has been busily jotting notes down in her tiny waterproof notepad with her broken pencil. Time for the gloves and hats to go on the wind is so strong. I realise now too that my face is starting to sting from the wind and maybe sun too. I have put sunscreen on but not since the morning so i put some more on. I hope i don't have a bright red face in the pictures - oh well if I do it'll match my jacket!

Ok i'm going to stop here as it's taken me an age to write this (and Italy V Spain is coming on too). I'll come back in a bit with 'the descent'...

Angela and Alison at the summit

Tom, Claire and Alison (team 'first munro') Huge thanks guys!

More pics can be found here:

My first munro!

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Hey guys
Ok i have officially climbed my first munro! Bynack More, Aviemore with huge help from Tom and Claire (Trail Magazine ) and Alison Culshaw (Mountain Guide - Glenmore Lodge, Aviemore ). Needless to say i am a very tired person tonight so i will give the full story tomorrow. Fantastic day though.

Big hills and my first munro!

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

I've been keeping the training up and scaled a few hills at the weekend courtesy of the University of Stirling DASS hillwalk. Team members: Ian (the leader, chief and seasoned munro-bagger), Douglas (jimmy krankie), Sharon (personal motivator and ever present walking partner), Sam (designated driver), Christine (athletic, first time hill-walker) and me (eager novice). Set off at 8.30am and got back at 11pm! What a day. OK i'll admit, i hit a personal brick wall a couple of times but the team were there to get me through it and talk rubbish. Various topics included movies (it was decided Juno was a good movie to see, Sex and The City might be good but a bit too long and Jumpers was totally rotten), The Krankies!, food (tomato and chicken baguette wanted swapped for some pasta), Joey & Chandler - haha, and various matters that shall remain on the hill. A good day was had by all and the 2nd day tiredness hit everyone on Monday i think, well it did me!

It gave me a rude awakening about the challenge i have set myself but i remain determined as ever to get there to Everest Base Camp.

I've just received the news that I am going to be climbing my first munro (Bynack More), courtesy of Trail magazine and Glenmore Lodge, Aviemore. Looking forward to that next week. I shall report back with details and hopefully some good pictures.

As ever, play safe
Angela x

PS here's the link to my new online sponsorship page!