Friday, 12 November 2010

Kilimanjaro Summit night and beyond

11.30pm Wednesday 27th October 2010

African chief guide Whitey cock a doodle doo's loudly across the camp waking us up ready for our summit attempt.

Having put on all of the clothes we had neatly organised earlier in the afternoon by the light of our head torches.  We went over to the dinner tents for porridge, popcorn and biscuits.  I could only manage a couple of spoonfuls of porridge.

We were a sombre group of silent padded giants gathering outside in the pitch darkness, howling wind and colder than freezing temperature ready for the off.  I suddenly had an urgent need to go to the toilet, when I came back from the loo the group had already started to head slowly, single file out of camp.  I therefore found myself once again in my regular position near the back.

I looked ahead of me into the darkness as we made out way out of camp, all I could see was a procession of bobbing head torches and flourescent jackets snaking up the mountainside in front of me at a worrying 45 degree angle. 

The first hours climb was up uneven rocks and boulders, the effort involved was making my heart race and breathing heavy.  I knew that I would not be able to sustain this level of exertion. 

I was finding it difficult to drink my water.  The restriction of movement in the stiff mittens made it difficult for me to hold the drinking tube up to my mouth, this was coupled with the annoyance of the balaclava - in order to uncover my mouth to take a drink I had to pull the balaclava down under my chin, in doing this the hood of the balaclava was then dragged down over my eyes so I couldn't see.  Therefore, in order to take a drink I was having to stop walking, take off my mittens, pull down by balaclava, take a drink, adjust my balaclava and put back on my mittens.  This was too much hassle.  Consequently, I wasn't drinking enough.  I also noticed that I was having to chomp through ice crystals that were forming in the mouth piece to suck out the water, within 45 minutes of leaving the camp the camel back tube had frozen up completely, any further water would have to be from the spare bottle that I had tucked inside my down jacket.

After an hour and fifteen minutes we took our first rest stop, only for a couple of minutes so that we didn't get cold.  I had just enough time to have a drink and swap my mittens for gloves.  I would have to wait until the next rest stop to remove my balaclava.  I went to the front of the group, hoping that I would meet up with Lisa and Justin but couldn't see where they were.  Moving to the front of the group was a mistake, the pace was too fast for me, I felt under pressure to keep up with Whitey who was singing really loudly and shouting out to other porters further down the mountain which was giving me a headache.  I slippped further back in the group trying to go establish a comfortable pace.

Over the next hour the surface changed to a frozen scree path with only occasional rocks/boulders. I was still having difficulty drinking enough water and therefore started to sway with dizziness from dehydration.  Ritchie, who was keeping a watchful eye on all of us noticed this and instructed summit porter Ishma to take the weight of my rucksack off me.   Ishma spoke very little English therefore communication was stilted but I did ask him if he enjoyed his job - he said "No, not really.  It's the money" It was only at the end of the trek when we were handing the tips out to the African staff that I understood why he didn't enjoy his job.  Ishma was the toilet porter - surely the worst job in camp. 

Having swapped to gloves my fingers were now tingling uncomfortably with cold, I even considered putting the dreaded mittens back on.  At the next rest stop I finally removed the horrid balaclava, what a relief.

From this point on I started to feel much better, I had settled into a comfortable slow pace co-ordinating my poles, breathing and steps with metronomic precision.  Alison asked if she could borrow my mittens at the next rest stop as her fingers were freezing in her inadequately insulated gloves. It was at this point that I realised that my fingers were now so cold that they were no longer tingling - they were completely numb. Good news! 

As we slowly climbed up the mountain, it became clear that some of our group were now really struggling with the altitude.  I passed 21 year old student Joe doubled over at the side of the path retching.  I passed the always smiling and upbeat Macmillan 'Boss Lady' Sarah (who had climbed Kilimanjaro before and also acclimatized to altitude in a trip to Peru earlier in the month) slumped on a rock, head in hands, saying that she felt sick being comforted by her partner Mark.  I later passed Steve, also slumped on a rock who said he had nothing left in him and was waiting for the Doctor (who was bringing up the rear), I assumed that his summit attempt was over but later learned that he was the fourth person from our group to make it to the top, so I can only assume that the Doctor gave him rocket fuel in tablet form.  Scottish Paul, the youngest of our group at age 20, who had been up and down the Munroes like a yoyo all year in training was also suffering.
Altitude sickness can affect anyone, no matter the age or level of fitness or for that matter even experience.

The silence on the mountain was broken by an argument in Swahili between Ishma and another African porter who was lumbering Ishma with another heavy rucksack.  It was obvious that Ishma was not happy about it.   At the next rest stop I handed my mittens to Alison and decided to cheer Ishma up by offering him a Jelly Baby.  From this moment on Ishma could not do enough for me - an encouraging pat on the back, a motivating word, a supporting arm, at one point he seemed to be trying to drag me up the mountain.  I believe that if I had needed him to he would have lifted me over his shoulder and carried me up to the summit!


Dawn started to break just after 5am.  As we took another rest break, it was a sorry looking, exhausted bunch around me perched on rocks like gargoyles.  I on the other hand was now feeling as fresh as a daisy and broke into song "I am on top of the world looking down on creation".  One glance at Kev's face and I knew singing was not a good idea - he looked as if he might throw me off the side of the mountain!

As the sun rose, the views were spectacular.


The final push up to Stella Point was steep and walking on the scree was hard going.  I reached Stella Point at 7.15am and my legs felt very heavy and tired.

From Stella Point the Uhuru peak is visible along a ridge, it is about an hours walk along a path that would be nothing more than an easy stroll if we hadn't just had climbed up a steep mountainside for over 7 hours.
I sat down for a short break and ate my Mars Bar to give me a boost of energy to make the final push for Uhuru.

I set off for Uhuru at barely more than a shuffle.  About 20 minutes from the summit I met Lisa and Justin who had reached the summit and were walking back down, it was the first time that I had seen them since leaving camp.

I had imagined how I might feel when I saw the iconic Uhuru sign - emotional, overwhelmed, overjoyed.  The reality was that I felt completely numb...too knackered to feel anything.

Several of us arrived at Uhuru at the same time, including Macmillan Sarah and her partner Mark and Jo Henderson a Discovery Adventure leader.  They had brought the Macmillan flag with them so we posed for a group photograph.

Uhuru peak
Top:  Jeff; Mark Haynes; Sarah Morrison; Ian Easteale; Jo Stych; Ashley Halls
Bottom:  Alison Robinson; Emma Allen; Kerry Matthams; Sarah Williams

We then took individual photographs of each other.  Macmillan Sarah and her partner Mark, who she had met on a Macmillan trip to Peru last year, had a photo taken.  After which Mark surprised Sarah by going down on one knee and proposing!  Ahhhhhh!   Thank goodness Sarah had managed to overcome AMS and get to the top.

View of receding glacier from the summit

Photographs taken and hugs all round we now faced the prospect of walking back down the mountain.  The sun had melted the frozen ground and it was now thick dust and scree.  The clouds of dust being kicked up by our descent billowed into the air and filled our lungs, ears, noses and seeped into every pore.  In many ways the descent was equally as difficult as the ascent, hard on the knees, easy to slip or fall over, particulary with tired legs.  Ishma held my arm tightly for support all the way back to camp. 

We finally reached camp at 12.30pm, exhausted and filthy.  Leader Ritchie told me that I had just one hour to rest and then I was to pack up my bags, have some lunch and we would then be walking down to the Millenium Camp.

We finally reached Millenium Camp at 4.30pm in the afternoon. Kilimanjaro beer and Coca Cola were on sale at the camp which was much appreciated by all.

We were all in our sleeping bags by 7.00pm.  The snoring coming from the tents during the night sounded like a chorus of frogs.

                 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Next morning, last morning of our trek was bright and sunny. We stood around in the morning sunshine drinking tea discussing our experiences, laughing and joking before the seven hour walk off the mountain. 
Of course, it had been a tough - both mentally and physically challenging.  But, despite that, it had been great fun, we had had real belly laughs.  Such a diverse group of individuals all thrown together, back to basics, with home comforts stripped away and we all got on so well.

I have enormous respect and admiration for all of the African support staff.  I also enjoyed their company.  What a fabulous bunch.

There are three essential ingredients for a successful and enjoyable Kilimanjaro trek: 
Sense of purpose, sense of perspective and moreover....a sense of humour.

Would I climb Kilimanjaro again?

When asked this question immediately after the summit climb my initial response was one shared by general consensus amongst the group.  No thank you! Never again!

Been there.  Done it.  Got the T Shirt!

However, now that I'm home and have had a chance to reflect. 

Kilimanjaro will always hold a special place in my heart and my mind.

........It was such a fantastic experience ........Never say never.

Bring on the next challenge..........!!!!!!!

PS:  News update Jan 2011
Trek to Everest basecamp - March 2012 - Booked!

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Kilimanjaro trek - day 5

We had the luxury of a lie in until 6am.  Whoopee!  Bed tea was at 7.00am; breakfast at 8.00am and at 9.00am we set off en route to summit camp.

We crept along at a metronomic trudge, single file.  The terrain was very desolate, as I would imagine the landscape the day after the apocalypse.

I was following Kev who was wearing shorts.  I amused myself for an hour or so by trying to estimate the number of hairs Kev had on the back of his calves.

I also chatted to Willy, one of the African porters, and tried to learn some Swahili from him.  He gave me a translation for the title of this blog 'Mzembe mpaka kuwa mbuzi katika mwaka mmoja' but when Lisa checked this against a Swahili/English internet translation service it came out as 'Negligent person stoned goats in one year'.  Just as well then that I didn't take a leaf out of Kerrys book and have it tattooed on my neck!  So the Swahili at the top of this blog is a translation taken straight off the internet rather than Willys version.

We eventually reached summit camp, a craggy site at the foot of the summit which was hidden by clouds at about 1.30pm.

After a carbohydrate laden lunch we retired to our tents to rest.  I spent the majority of the next hour and a half oganising my kit ready for our summit attempt later that night.  Four thermal tops of varying thicknesses plus a down jacket and hi-viz flourescent jacket; thermal long johns, trousers and waterproof over trousers; silk glove liners, insulated mittens and self heating hand warmers; balaclava, snood, buff & woolly hat; thick socks; head torch; spare neoprene water bottle to keep inside down jacket; bum bag filled with jelly babies and a mars bar, sunscreen & lipsalve; camera.  Rucksack containing: camel back filled with 3 litres of water; gortex jacket; insulated gloves; sun glasses.  I was as ready as I would ever be.

At 4pm Ritchie gave his summit briefing.  A sombre mood descended over the group as we listened intently to his instructions for the summit attempt ahead of us.

Summit briefing

As we came out of the briefing the cloud cover had lifted from the summit and we got our first glimpse of the climb to come.

Dinner was served at 5pm.  I wasn't especially hungry, it felt like I had only just had lunch, however, it was important to stock up so I forced myself to eat something.

At 6pm we retired to our tents to try to get some sleep ahead of the summit attempt that would begin at midnight.

I dropped off into a sound sleep but was suddenly awoken at 9pm by the sound of heavy footsteps and light from bobbing head torches passing through the campsite and a frantic woman shouting "How much further"; "No! No! My legs won't work" "I can't go any further - Oh no!".  Needless to say this completely freaked me out.  I stared out into the darkness of the tent listening to the wind buffeting the tent material and the patter of what appeared to be snow, mind racing, wondering what on earth was happening.  Had the woman just come down from the summit?  Was it that awful?  OMG!  I thought I would never get back to sleep but somehow I must have done because the next thing I knew it was 11.30pm and Whitey was 'cock a doodle dooing' loudly across the campsite.  This was it - our time for the summit attempt.

Kilimanjaro trek - Day 4

We woke at 5.30am, packed up bags and had bed tea at 6.30am.  Breakfast was at 7.15am today ready for the start of our days trek at 8.00am.

It was a bright day and we had a great view of the summit from Barranco camp.

Summit from Barranco camp framed by giant lobelia plants.

After yesterdays epic hike and emotional descent into camp with Brian I badly wanted to telephone home. I had not been able to get a signal since starting our climb but Ian had found out from one of the African porters that if I climbed onto the rocky high point in camp and held the phone outstretched over my head for 5 minutes I would get a signal.  I followed instructions and sure enough there it was - 4 bars.  My husband Mark answered the phone, after the usual preamble of pleasantries he said "I'm glad you've phoned, I have a query on the last quarters VAT return.........".  This was not quite the conversation I had been anticipating.  Ah well.  Hakuna matata!

Today we were climbing the Barranco wall, a 300 metre rock scramble.  Hiking poles would not be required as the wall would require hands and feet in places.  Having scrambled up the North face of Tryfan in August as part of our training I was not at all daunted by the prospect of the Barranco Wall, in fact I would go so far as to say that I was looking forward to it.

Barranco Wall

For David and Kev who suffered badly from vertigo, the wall was a nightmare.  At one point David was hugging the rockface so tightly he was in danger of fusing to it permanently and to say that Kev looked relieved to have reached the top is the understatement of the century.

Once at the top we rested for a while, before continuing our trek through the Karanga valley to our next camp.  Ten minutes after setting off we heard over the radio that Brian had made it to the top of the Barranco wall.  Incredible!

Our trek descended into one valley, up the other side, then a rocky descent into another valley.  Half way down the rocky ascent Simon, Brians triathlete son (super fit and almost super human), caught up with us.  He had run ahead of Brian just to say "Hi!" then immediately turned around and ran back. (Huh?  It was as much as I could do to creep along like a tortoise).  We climbed a rocky steep ascent up to the Karanga camp which was above the clouds, arriving at 2.15pm.

 Arrival at Karanga Hut camp:  Ian; Alison; Anne; Me; Whitey; Gary

Karanga Hut camp above the clouds

I was particularly excited to see that lunch was toasted cheese, onion, tomato and cucumber (sorry once again Gary) sandwiches.  My favourite lunch so far.  Delicious!

Scrummy lunch

By this stage in the trek the mens beards were establishing well.  As for us ladies, we were commenting on our hairy legs, Alison said that she hadn't decided whether she was going to plait hers or part them in the middle!

We had the remainder of the afternoon to rest before having dinner and then getting an early night.  Tomorrow was going to be a big day. 

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Kilimanjaro trek - Day 3

I woke up at 5.30am feeling much better.  Bags packed, cup of tea delivered to tent.  7.00am breakfast of porridge, toast with peanut butter and honey.  A much better start to the day.

From the camp there was a good view of the summit.

We started our days hike at 7.30am sharp.  The hike was a very gradual incline through a moonscape of boulders and dust.  After a couple of hours it seemed to be threatening rain and then started to sleet slightly.   I decided that this was the time to bring out my secret weapon - the multi function poncho.

The jolly green giant moon landing

This jaunty little number not only acts as a waterproof coverall, it also doubles as a very convenient personal toilet tent - no need to find a rock to hide behind when you have one of these!

The mornings hike went on and on, hour after hour, and the group gradually split into pods according to speed of walking.  I got separated from Lisa and Justin who were ahead in a faster 'pod'.  I was teamed with brothers Danny and Martin Flannagan, Jim and Kev. 

Martin, Kev, Me, Jim (Danny taking photo)

Danny took the lead.  I was starting to feel the effects of AMS again and was grateful that Danny was setting a good, slow and rhythmic pace for our pod.  I concentrated on following his heels to take my mind off my increasing nausea.  With Danny ahead of me and Martin behind me, this 'Flannagan sandwich' arrangement was working well for me until the boys started talking about what type of soup they would like for lunch.  I managed to keep a lid on it until Jim said that he was hoping for French Onion soup with gruyere cheese croutons.  Last straw - sick again! 

Shortly after this we caught up with Lisa and Justin.  Slumped on a rock Lisa was now also suffering with AMS, headachy and nauseous.  I later found out that Nick and Anne had also succumbed to AMS, as well as Emma who had been effected badly for two days.

We eventually reached the lunch tents after 5 and a half hours.  Neither Lisa or I wanted much to eat.  I tried to force down a couple of stewed potatoes.  I don't think Lisa ate anything.

As we set off down into the valley after lunch it started sleeting again and was very cold.  After a gradual descent into the valley we then climbed uphill steeply.  At the top I asked if one of the porters could take the weight of the rucksack off me as I was starting to feel ill again.  Thomas took it.  The next section of the walk was across a ridge and then down the mountainside into the Barranco Valley to the camp site.  I decided to keep at the back of the group, prefering to walk as slowly as possible. 

I found myself walking behind Brian and his son Simon.  Brian at 78 years old was the oldest member of our party and has two metal replacement hips.  As I witnessed him carefully negotiate each rocky, uneven step down the mountainside over a four and a half hour period I absolutely marvelled at his courage and determination. 

Brian - a gentleman and an inspiration

I find it incredible that he would even consider undertaking a challenge of this magnitude.  A true gentleman, he did not complain (or even sigh) once.  As the hours went by he was clearly increasingly exhausted, two porters and his son Simon were assisting and supporting him with every step and ensuring he did not lose his balance.  Finally at 7.00pm, after an eleven and a half hour epic hike we arrived in camp by torch light.

Wow! What a courageous, truly inspiring Gentleman.

Back at camp I discovered Lisa and Emma were both tucked up in their sleeping bags with AMS.  Lisa had started taking Diamox tablets to combat AMS symptoms.  Emma, a young fit marathon runner who was effected particularly badly by AMS, was given an injection of something by the Doctor.  Gary, a Liverpudlian with a big heart who had had a successful operation to remove a brain tumor in 2008, had been suffering badly with a chesty cough for two days.  Kilimanjaro is a very dusty environment, the dust seeps into every pore. The Doctor diagnosed Asthma and he was given medication to relieve the symptoms.

Those who felt like it enjoyed a hearty dinner of soup and bread; spaghetti with minced beef sauce; pineapple and hot chocolate.  We all retired to our tents early. 

Those of us who were taking Diamox had our nights sleep broken up with regular wee breaks - one of the side effects of taking the medication.  

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Kilimanjaro Trek - Day 2

Who told me it would get very cold at night in Africa?  Layered in thermals, thick socks, insulated sleeping boots and woolly hat.  I was the hottest I have ever been!  I twisted and turned all night long, so much so that by morning the silk liner inside my sleeping bag had wrapped round me at neck and feet so tightly I felt like a boiled sweet in a plastic wrapper.

We started packing up our bags at 5.30am and a very welcome cup of tea was delivered to our tent at 6.00am by one of the African support staff.

Breakfast of piping hot porridge, omelette, sausages, beans and bread was served in the dinner tents at 6.45am.  Tired and disorganised I was last in for breakfast, couldn't find a spare chair to sit on, didn't eat anything.  Not a brilliant start to the day.

Hot and sunny, we started our trek at 7.30am steadily climbing through heath and moorland.

Two hours into the hike I started to feel the effects of altitude sickness.  Initially a muzzy head, followed by a dull headache around the base of my skull increasing to a splitting headache and nausea.  At home, I would have crawled into bed until I felt better, here on the mountain there was nowhere to snuggle, I had no choice but to keep going.  So I kept walking, very slowly, at the back of the group.  Thankfully Chunga took the weight of my rucksack off me at this point.  I plodded on (and on), using my hiking poles for support when my head spun.  The Doctor who was walking with me at the back of the group pointed out the lunch stop, way, way ahead on a distant ridge (OMG it seemed miles away!)  With every step I was aware of the weight of my bum bag pressing against my nauseous stomach.  After two hours of this I finally threw up, which was not only a huge relief because I then felt much better, but also earned me the prestigious accolade and end of trip award 'First vomit of the trek'.  How proud my Mum must be!

Pasty but feeling slightly better!

Finally we reached the lunch stop.  I managed to eat a bowl of soup but couldn't face pasta, bread, cheese or oranges that had also been provided.  Gary kindly offered me one of his Diamox tablets to combat the altitude sickness, which I gratefully accepted.  Emma was also suffering AMS but the rest were not affected at this stage.  I heard that my sister Lisa had been at the front of the group singing, laughing and joking. 

After lunch Joaquim took over carrying my rucksack.


We headed off upwards, the climb was steep in places and also included a small scrambling section.  Finally we headed over the ridge and descended down into camp arriving at about 4.00pm.

I was so grateful to find that having arrived ahead of me at camp Lisa had set up my mattress, sleeping bag and pillow so that I could crawl straight in for a lie down, she also fetched a cup of tea and some popcorn.
Sooooo niiiice!

This evening felt like the appropriate time to open the good luck cards that I had brought from home for a bit of a morale boost.  It worked.

Kilimanjaro trek - Day 1

After a goods nights sleep in Protea Aishi Hotel, Machame Gate.  We gathered in reception with our holdalls and rucksacks to check that the weight of each holdall was less than the maximum 13kg limit.  I had struggled to reduce the weight of my bag down to this but after removal of practically all of my snacks and Iso Energy food supplements my bag finally passed the inspection.

Our group was a diverse bunch ranging from ages 20 through to 78; 8 women and 21 men from all over the UK.  Marathon runners; triathletes and seasoned charity trekkers mixing in with complete novices.  Our leader was Ritchie along with Jo from Discovery Adventure, supported by 'Daktari' Joe and Macmillan 'Boss Lady' Sarah.  Ahsante Tours provided the African support staff for our trek led by Chief Guide Whitey.

With all bags approved we boarded mini buses for the transfer to Machame Gate, Kilimanjaro the starting point for our trek.

Machame Gate Kilimanjaro

Formalities completed we started our trek at 9.05am. 

The initial path was wide, flat, well trodden brown earth which narrowed and steepened as we progressed further into the rain forest. 
I had expected the rain forest to be teaming with wildlife and noisy chatter, in fact, we only saw a couple of Colubus Monkeys and the occasional bird during the entire days trek and the forest was surprisingly quiet.  I had also expected it to be very hot and sticky, actually it was pleasantly warm/cool and not at all humid.

Rain Forest path

Leader Ritchie was keen to make sure that we learned the essential lesson for a successful climb of Kilimanjaro early, that is, 'pole pole kama kobe' or 'slowly slowly like a tortoise'.  "If you can hear yourself breathe you are walking too fast".  The test was whether you can sing and walk at the same time.  The 'song' he chose was a blast from my past, the first single I ever bought, 'Ernie the fastest milkman in the West'!

We took rest/tush in the bush stops every hour or so and had a packed lunch break at 1.00pm which consisted of a carbohydrate rich and 'tasty' soft tortilla stuffed with chips and gristle; mini banana; chocolate bar and fruit juice drink.

Lunch on a log

As we gradually climbed higher out of the rain forest the trees became stumpier and at 4.00pm we rounded a corner to be presented with our first camp in a clearing.  A selection of two man tents "at the end of their season with dodgy zips"; three toilet tents that would prove to have equally dodgy zips as the week progressed; three dinner tents complete with 33 fold up stools and trestle dinner tables plus the kitchen and porters tents.  All of the tents/equipment/food/holdalls and parafanalia had been carried up the mountain on porters heads & backs; camp erected and set up and a steaming hot and plentiful dinner cooked by a band of efficient, cheerful and hardworking African support staff in the time it had taken us to walk through the forest. AMAZING!


Tea and popcorn was ready in the dinner tents on our arrival.  We then went to our tents to sort out our sleeping arrangements.
At 5.30pm everyone gathered for a welcome meeting and introductions to the African support staff and guides.  We had our first taste of a welcome Whitey style - wonderful atmospheric singing and dancing 'Jambo, Jambo Poa.....Habari?  Azuri sana....' etc. etc. and so it went on....for ages.  Apologies to Ritchie but it kicked poor old Ernie into the dust!

Soooooo Niiiiiiiice!

Dinner of piping hot cucumber soup (much to Garys displeasure - cucumbers are the only thing he is allergic to);  plentiful rice, peas, spinach and fried chicken (?)  [If it was indeed chicken it was the scrawniest looking bird I'd ever seen!]; followed by hot chocolate.

Lisa and I retired to our tent by 7.15pm.  I optimistically hoped for a good first nights sleep.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Did it!

I am pleased to tell you that I reached the summit of Kilimanjaro on Thursday morning.

Low points:  Nausea; vomiting; splitting headaches; discomfort; insomnia; filth; stinking toilets.
High points:  Raising funds for Macmillan; camaraderie; meeting inspirational people both African and English; laughter; sense of achievement

After 5 days of trekking between 6 and 11.5 hours per day we reached summit camp.  We started our summit attempt at midnight on Wednesday in pitch darkness, biting cold and howling winds.  I managed to shuffle my way to the summit in 8 and a quarter hours and then took 4 hours to come back down to summit camp.  I then had only 1 hour to rest before packing up bags and walking to the next camp for dinner and sleep. 

Physically and mentally challenging.  It was both one of the best and one of the worst experiences of my life and I wouldn't change a thing about it.

When I return home I will update this blog with full details and photographs of the trek.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Here I go....

It's been a year in the planning and preparation and it's finally here - the day we fly to Africa to climb Kilimanjaro.

Our flight leaves the UK this evening.  When we arrive at the airport it will be the first time that we will meet  the rest of the group with whom we wil be climbing, there are 34 of us in total from all over the UK.  We will be staying in a hotel in Kilimanjaro area on Friday night and then start our climb on Saturday.

I would like to thank everyone who has been so supportive and helpful over the past year preparing me for what will be the most physically and mentally demanding challenge of my life.  Thank you also to all those who have generously made donations to Macmillan Cancer Support through my Just Giving site, I am delighted that the total donated so far is in excess of £9,200.  Absolutely brilliant.

If you would like to make a donation to Macmillan Cancer Support donating through Just Giving is the quickest and easiest way of making sure that the donation goes straight to the charity and also allows the Charity to benefit from Gift Aid.

Your support would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

I'm ready and rearing to go

My bags are finally packed, zipped up and ready to go.  I've had a huge cull of wet wipes and snacks and hopefully now my main bag is down to an acceptable weight.

Our flight is tomorrow evening from Heathrow to Addis Ababa and then a connecting flight to Kilimanjaro.  An overnight stay and then we start climbing on Saturday morning.

Looking forward to getting on with it now.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Exhausted and I haven't gone anywhere yet!!!

Two days until I leave and I am absolutely knackered.

What with 10 hour days trying to get on top of my mountainous workload ready for the first 'break' I've had for 15 months coupled with restless nights tossing and turning thinking about mountain climbing.  All in all not a great combination to make me feel at my peak ready for the most physically and mentally demanding challenge of my life.

On top of this my bag is 3kg overweight so I've now got to thin out the contents - it looks very much as if the snack reserves are going to have to revoir Mars, Minstrels and Fruesli bars - I will miss you!

My son has set me up with a new iphone so I can 'phone home'.  Unfortunately there are so many apps and icons on the screen I have to put my reading glasses on everytime I answer the blinking thing to work out what part of the screen to tap.  So much for keeping in touch on the mountain, more like 'guaranteed to make you feel over the hill!' 

Thursday, 14 October 2010

7 days to go

This time next week I will be sitting on a plane heading towards Kilimanjaro.

I have started preparing my feet by rubbing them with surgical spirit, I'm told that this hardens the skin.  I have no idea if it will prevent blisters but it's worth a go.

I have bought several cans of Iso Energy food supplement from Holland & Barrett to dissolve into the water rations in my Camelback on Kili.  It promises to support 'optimum functioning of mental and physical performance' and helps 'maintain mental focus, stamina and alertness'.  Well!  It certainly sounds impressive.  Let's hope it does exactly what it says on the tin.  To be honest I'll just be pleased if it masks the foul taste of the iodine or chlorine that the porters will be using to purify the water.

I have also bought myself a Timex watch with a watchface that lights up so I will be able to check exactly how long I'm not sleeping for when I'm laying in a tent on the pitch dark mountainside.

I surely must be done on the purchasing items for this trip now.  It's certainly not being done on a shoestring budget......oh yes - must buy spare pair of boot laces!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Nacton Shore Walk

A glorious sunny day. 

Lisa, Justin and I went for a 9-10 mile walk along Nacton shores and back through Levington village.  It took 3 and a half hours which is much slower going than usual (we normally cover approximately 3.5 miles per hour) mainly due to the shore line section which was muddy in places.  There was also a narrow footpath section where a series of wooden pallets had been laid down to 'assist' walkers, these had become very wet and muddy and we had to be careful not to slip and grab out for something to hold as the fence running along side was rows of barbed wire - helpful!

Back home I crashed out on the sofa and had a two hour nap.  I need to take full advantage of home comforts now because there'll be no comfortable afternoon naps on Kilimanjaro.

Saturday, 9 October 2010


This morning I've been for a 7 mile walk around the local area.  Foolishly I opted for footpaths across agricultural fields which I soon realised are rather muddy at this time of year.  I gathered more mud with every step and soon felt like I had lead boots on.   

In future I will stick to walking on tarmac roads rather than being stuck to a footpath by two inches of clay on the soles of my boots.

PS  Twelve days to go........

Thursday, 7 October 2010

The 'comfort' of knowledge

I have been concerned/curious about the potential effects of Altitude Mountain Sickness and so decided to order a book about the subject.  After all to be aware is to be prepared.

I now know that complications from AMS can include:
Ataxia; dizziness; extreme fatigue; vomiting; acute headaches; disorientation; hallucination; loss of vision; numbness or personality change; coma; death.

I feel so reassured!  Looks like another sleepless night ahead.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010


Today was my final personal training session before the big climb. 

Out of nowhere I had an emotional meltdown.  Tears, self doubt, flooded out of me.  I have been absolutely fine up until now.  Where did that come from?  What a fool! 

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Night time machinations

Isn't it funny how the brain turns over in the middle of the night and reveals deeply hidden memory snippets.

Over the past year I have wondered how my body will cope with being at a high altitude on Kilimanjaro, having believed that I have never been anywhere near high altitude before.

My brain has just uncovered a memory of a holiday in Tenerife about 20 years ago.  One day we hired a car and drove to Mount Teide, the dormant Vulcano at the centre of the island.  There was a final, relatively short, climb from a carpark to the mouth of the Vulcano.  I remember feeling unusually, unpleasantly exhausted and leaden footed on this short walk and having turned back before I got to the mouth.  I have just googled Mount Teide - it is 3,718 metres high, a mere hillock compared to Kilimanjaro (5,893 metres) and not high enough to have felt any signs of altitude sickness.  Oh dear!  That's not good.  I am officially worried now!!!!! 

I wish my brain would stop churning I preferred blissful ignorance.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Three weeks to go.....

I can't believe the big climb is now only three weeks away.  I'm excited and apprehensive all wrapped up into one. 

I have re-arranged my kit bag and have now managed to fit everything in so that the zip does up.  Phew!

I've taken out the currency that I will need for the trip, not much, only $200.00, as suggested by Macmillan.  Of which $110 is the standard tip for the local porter who will carry my heavy bag up the mountain perched on his head.  It will be a tip well deserved.  I'm not sure whether there will be anything to purchase on the mountain itself, perhaps a MacDonalds, after all they do pop up everywhere! 

Yesterday was my penultimate personal training session.  I could ideally do with another 50 sessions but sadly it's too late.

Ready or not I will be climbing that big old mountain in three weeks time.  Yikes!!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

A bag packing puzzler

Having taken delivery of the last item of kit required for my Kilimanjaro trip - the four seasons sleeping bag - I now face a bag packing puzzler.

The combination of the sleeping bag, self inflating mattress and down summit jacket take up the lions share of the space in the bag.  Then comes the rubble sack containing my clothes (of which there are not many); washbag, toilet roll, tupperware bowl 'potty'; spare water bottles (2) and a few other small miscellaneous items.

Problem is the zip won't do up!

Now I face a conundrum - what do I leave behind?   Certainly not the toilet roll, apparently they are not provided on the mountain.  I have suggested to my sister, who will be sharing a tent with me, that we could share her tupperware 'potty' but she's adamant that this is not going to happen (can't think why!).   

What am I to do?

Mild hysteria is setting in!

Friday, 17 September 2010

Macmillan Golf Day

Cretingham Golf Club in Suffolk was the location for our Macmillan Charity Golf Day yesterday organised by my husband Mark.

Cretingham golf club is set in beautiful Suffolk countryside. It's informal, unpretentious atmosphere made for a relaxing and enjoyable day.  Fifty two golfers arrived for a lunchtime bacon roll and coffee before setting out onto the course for 18 holes.

The weather was a bit mixed, sunshine and showers, but it didn't seem to dampen spirits.

In the evening everyone tucked into a beef and pork carvery followed by apple pie and custard.  The meal was absolutely delicious!

At the end of the meal trophies were awarded followed by a raffle and a pub card draw.  Followed by team photographs which will be published in the next edition of Suffolk Places & Faces magazine.

It was a great day, lots of banter, great company........a good craic!

Total funds raised on the day for Macmillan were £1,160.45.  Plus additional sponsorship/donations of £200.00.

Thank you to everyone involved.  It was a special day.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Five weeks to go.........

With only 5 weeks to go until Kilimanjaro feverish preparations for this trip are underway and it's turning into a feat of epic proportions.

Today I had another training session with my new PT Holly Darke (or as I like to think of her  - the irrepressible Darke horse!).  It was a good session  Unfortunately she has uncovered my really weak point - core strength.  She wrote CORE!!! in emphasised letters above next weeks appointment on her schedule. Let's face it...washboard stomach?  It's never gonna happen!

I have been finalising the purchasing of kit for the trip.  Suddenly there are so many things that I am thinking would be good to take, I probably haven't got space for them in my bag but of course I shall squeeze in as many as I can.  Never knowlingly under-equipped.  (Must: take extra tip for the porter for will b lugging my bag up the mountain on his head!)

The Golf Day on Thursday will be the final fund raising event before the climb.  Fingers crossed for good weather.  The total that I have raised for Macmillan so far is a fantastic £6,575 but I would really love to reach my target of £10,000.  We'll see.... 

I have had all required vaccinations but must remember to start to take malaria tablets three days before the trip.  I sought the advice of the Boots pharmacist about remedies for altitude nausea but was sceptical about his suggestion to take a travel sickness pill.  He asked how long I would be travelling, I replied 9 days.  He said "take one tablet two hours before leaving"  Either he misunderstood me or I misunderstood him, either way this doesn't sound right! 

I am not a technical person.  I am the point, press  and hope for the best variety of photographer but I want to come back with beautiful images that I will be able to spend a lifetime reflecting on, therefore, I spent two hours last night trying to fathom out all of the menu setting on my camera.  What a nightmare!  Where is the camera manual? 

I have also spent several hours searching the house for leads/chargers/instruction manuals for my ipod.  Why, oh why don't I keep these things in labelled boxes (like my sister does)!

Tanzanian Visa 
I applied for my visa last week. 
Note to self:  Never use a felt tipped pen to address shiny plastic Royal Mail Special delivery envelopes - the writing wipes off! (Good job I realied this before I posted it)
I have been beavering away at work reconciling accounts, writing 'idiot guides' to my priority jobs and tying up loose ends.  Unfortunately the loose ends seem to be multiplying.

Will I ever feel that I am truly ready for this?  Or is it usual for a person to feel that they should be doing more?

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

A change is much better than a rest

Russell Turner, the personal trainer who has been so excellent in transforming me from a couch potato into an almost mountaineer in the space of 6 months has 'gorn orf' to pastures new, abandonning me in my hour of need!  I forgive him entirely as he is embarking on a new project with the new Life House in Thorpe Le Soken and I thank him very much indeed for all his help and wish him well in this exciting venture.

Having wallowed in limbo for two weeks a new personal trainer, Hollie Darke, has stepped up to the plate and taken hold of the reigns as I gallop along the home straight towards Kilimanjaro.

Russell is a tough act to follow, but she coped magnificently yesterday at our first session. 

Only six weeks to go.  Bring it on!

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Snowdon - Pyg track

August bank holiday monday

An absolutely glorious day - perfect conditions for climbing.  I suggested climbing the Pyg track to get a family photograph in the sunshine with the lake as a back drop.  This suggestion was not received well by Harry!  However, we set off and did get the money shot. 

Please note that we all managed a smile!

Snowdon: Llanberis path up/Pyg track down

On Sunday afternoon we climbed Snowdon.  The plan was to follow the Pyg track, however, the car park at Pen Y Pass was completely full and all other parking spaces nearby were taken so we drove on to Llanberis.  It was very busy but we eventually managed to find a space.

Mark and Harry joined us. This was their first ever climb.  Well done them!

At the summit it was blowing a hooly.
I held onto the trig point for fear of being blown off!

Tryfan North Ridge 915m - Grade I***

We have just returned from a great weekend in Snowdonia.

This was perhaps our last opportunity to get in some climbing practice before Kilimanjaro, so we wanted to make the most of it.  On Saturday Luke Brooks, a local mountain guide, lead us up Tryfan North Ridge.
Tryfan turned out to be an exhilerating rocky scramble, technical in parts, requiring hands as well as feet.

At one point I found myself clinging onto an almost vertical rock face, with my right toe jammed into a two inch groove, left boot balanced on a narrow ledge level with my hip and arms outstretched above my head fingers gripping, white knuckled, onto natural hand holds in the rock. With a rocky drop direcly below I felt very vulnerable and was cursing myself for requesting a challenge.  The guide said "now just do a big squat upwards"  WHAT?!  Did he realise that until only 6 months ago I was a middle aged couch potato who had climbed nothing more difficult that a flight of stairs?  After a few deep breaths I summoned all my strength and pushed down as hard as I could with my left thigh at the same time as pulling up with my arms....incredibly it worked (I really should have more faith in myself!).  With my left leg now straight the next movement required me to swing my right thigh over a ledge above waist height, it was an enormous seam splitting stretch, I used my arms to haul myself up onto the ledge with all the elegance of an Ox.

Tryfan - The Cannon:  Lisa, Justin, Luke Brooks (mountain guide), me.

When we reached 'The Cannon' it started to rain and the wind picked up.

We carried on, reaching the summit with relief after an exhilerating three hour climb.

The summit.  Wow!  What a sense of achievement.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Up the creek without a.....signpost

Lisa and I attempted to walk the circular route at Martlesham Creek this morning.  It's not one we've tried before. 
We had walked about 7 miles when the footpath petered out at the edge of a meadow - no signpost, in fact no sign of a footpath in any direction.  We re-traced our steps back across the field looking for a signpost that we may have missed, but there was none.  So we had to give up and go back the way we had come.  It's a mystery!

Sunday, 15 August 2010

I am pleased with myself!

Two months ago I set out to improve my poor cardio vascular fitness in preparation for climbing Kilimanjaro.

I started by jogging around the 4.5km block each day for a month, building up to the 5km race for life 4 weeks ago.  Since then I have stuck to cycling, on the advice of my personal trainer, to take the pressure off my achilles which was starting to twinge.

This afternoon I decided to test how much my CV fitness has improved by jogging on the treadmill at the gym.  I managed to jog for a whole hour!!! a distance of 9km.  I set the treadmill up for speed interval training alternating between a jog speed of 7km per hour and a run speed of 10km per hour finishing with a 1 minute sprint at 13km per hour.  The best news is that my heartrate did not exceed 140 beats per minute, this is a massive improvement because at the beginning of the year my heartate reached 180 beats per minute after 2 minutes on the cross trainer!

Don't you just love it when a plan comes together!

Friday, 13 August 2010

Crime and Punishment

It was another PT session this morning.

My crime was having a chocolate mini roll for breakfast.  Slapped wrist!
My punishment was 60 minutes of weight lifting alternated with 'the plank'.  The objective of todays session was to isolate muscles that are my weakest i.e. hamstring, core and arm muscles.  Apparently, my quads and back muscles are now 'ready for Kilimanjaro' the others have now got to catch up. 

It's good to know that at least part (if not all) of me might make it to the top!

Monday, 9 August 2010

Pebble walking on the East Coast

I have just returned from a super weekend of exercise and relaxation on the Suffolk coast. 

Sunday morning Lisa, Justin and I walked along the beach on the pebbles from Sizewell to Aldebugh and then back along the footpath at the top of the cliff (approx. 8 miles total).  Pebble walking offers great resistence training but the noisy crunching under foot makes chatting difficult.  Therefore, I recommend walking along a pebble beach only when you are either (a) on your own or (b) walking with people you don't want to talk to!
In the afternoon I cycled to Aldeburgh and back (No! Not along the pebbles - that would have been ridiculous)

This morning as I was on my own I opted for pebble walking along the beach from Sizewell to Dunwich and back (approx. 9 miles).  I spotted several twitchers crouching in the bushes at Minsmere - what a strange hobby!

We have a definite lack of mountains in East Anglia on which to train so pebble beach walking seems to offer the best solution (outisde of the gym) for building up leg muscles ready for the climb.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Core Blimey!

This morning the PT session was all about core strength. 

It was a gym based session working with all sorts of equipment.  Examples:  Balancing on a wobbly thing (don't know the name) while throwing or catching a medicine ball;  Lifting a 25kg 'sack' in a rowing motion from thigh to chest.  Carrying 2 x 16kg kettle bells up and down stairs;  Hanging by my hands from bars while raising and lowering my knees; Doing sit ups while holding 2 x 8kg kettle bells against my upper chest and so it went on...........and on..........

I really enjoyed todays session. 

I imagine I wil be suffering for it tomorrow.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Bee (& fly) prepared!

This weekend I have cycled 16 miles each evening. 

So far I haven't managed to avoid taking on board extra protein supplements in the shape of various flying insects and tonight one of the blighters had a head on collision with my right eyeball.  Thwack!  Yikes!

In future I may have to resort to extreme measures.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

What's your poison?

I apologise in advance for including something in this blog that has absolutely nothing to do with training or fundraising. 

Today I have been re-decorating my dining room.  In the process of doing this I have removed and dusted every item in our drinks 'cabinet'.  We have an enormous selection of alcohol of every type from Limoncello,  Tia Maria and Cherry Brandy to Cognac and Champagne.  Most bottles ancient and unopened or only partly used. 

It has reminded me of my childhood when my parents drinks cupboard was a dark, musty place full of mysterious bottles with raffle tickets cellotaped to them. 

History is repeating itself. 

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Wake up!

Yesterdays PT session started with a test of my reflexes.  Tennis balls were bounced at me two at a time, the object was for me to catch them but this morning this simple task was apparently beyond me.  Hand eye co-ordination - not good.  Conclusion:  I was half asleep!

The remainder of the session concentrated on ViPR work, lots of lunging, squatting, springing in all the planes of movement. 

In the evening I went for a cycle in the drizzling rain.  Ten miles of splattered face later I had finally fully woken up.   Just in time for bed.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Enduring endurance

The focus of this mornings PT session was endurance and was based on one of the outside courts. 

I am not feeling at my best today therefore the session felt like a hard slog.  However, I summoned all the energy that I could muster and got on with it - never a quitter!  At one stage I thought I was going to keel over.

Sixty sweaty, heart palpitating minutes later it was all over.  Thank goodness for that!

Monday, 12 July 2010

Waiter, waiter.....

Question.  How many flies will I swallow before I learn to keep my mouth shut when cycling?

Saturday, 10 July 2010

A touch of the John Waynes

This week I have been focussing on cycling as my CV exercise to take pressure off my achilles.  I started with 8-10 miles daily and have this morning cycled to my Mums and back - a round trip of 25 miles.

Whoever said that East Anglia is flat, lied - there seem like plenty of hills to me.  It doesn't help that as my bike is the type that has a shopping basket on the front it is not especially aerodynamic.

I'm feeling a bit like John Wayne now - saddle sore and bandy!

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Vaccination against the dreaded lergy!

First thing yesterday morning I had all the vaccinations I need for the Kilimanjaro trek.

A triple vaccine for Diptheria, Polio & Tetanus;  Typhoid;  Yellow fever and Hepatitis A.  I also bought Mallarone Malaria tablets and arranged an appointment with the doctor to discuss a prescription for Diamox which helps prevent Altitute Mountain Sickness (AMS) (although the side effect of this drug is peeing more - I'm not sure what will be worse - AMS or bopping down to pee in public with nowhere to hide!)

The initial reaction to the vaccinations was a slightly red mark on my arm where the Typhoid injection went in and an achey feeling in my upper arm.  By lunch time my body was feeling achey all over and by 3.00pm I was achey and yawning.  With the prospect of the Race for Life looming in the evening I have to say I had never felt less like jogging anywhere.  I decided to go home from work early.  After an hours nap on the settee I felt slightly better and made my way to Trinity Park for the Race for Life.

When I arrived the great atmosphere swept me along and all aches were forgotten.  

Today there are no side effects left of the vaccines - it's business as normal.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Race for life

My lovely friend Mary and I took part in the 5km Race for Life at Trinity Park, Ipswich this evening.

Everyone was taking part in memory of loved ones lost to cancer or in one ladies case 'Just because she is able'.  Mary was running in memory of her sister Jean and I was running in memory of my dear Grandparents Edie and Joe, all sadly missed.

We completed the run in 30 minutes.  No problems with my achilles tendon!!

A sprint finish!

What a great event to be part of.

Monday, 5 July 2010

There may be trouble afoot

I mentioned to my PT this morning that the area behind my left ankle has been sore and 'creeky' since the 25 mile walk last week.  I had thought that perhaps it was to do with my boots but it seems it may be my achilles.  He has instructed me to stop jogging and rest it.  Which is unfortunate as I have put my name down for the 5km Race for Life on Wednesday and I don't want to miss it. 

I'm just going to have to be very careful and jog slowly!

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Sister Act

Lisa and I walked a 9 mile route around Martlesham Creek and Woodbridge.

Photo taken by Mum.  Spot the difference!  We;ve even got matching blisters from last Sundays 25 mile walk.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Monday, 28 June 2010

PHA Training

After yesterdays 25 mile walk my hips were aching as I climbed down stairs this morning.  I was hoping that the PT would go gently with me.....however, there was no chance of that!

Todays delight was Peripheral Heart Action (PHA) training.  Alternating stabilisation, power and strength exercises between upper body and lower body, forcing the blood flow to keep switching from different parts of the body resulting in a more demanding cardio vascular workout.

I wasn't sure if one of the exercises was entirely seemly for a middle aged lady - crawling back and forth along the outside decking on my hands and feet like Spiderman.  Good job nobody had a video camera handy!

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Orwell 25 mile charity walk

Today Lisa, Justin, Justins brother Joe and I took part in the Rotary 25 mile walk around the River Orwell.
We started at 7.20am on the hottest day of the year so far.

Joe, Lisa & Justin - about 8 miles into the walk.

There were check points at intervals along the route providing refreshments and marking our cards.

My checkpoint card.

I had forgotton to take my rings off and by the 15 miles point my fingers, hands and wrists were seriously swollen so at the checkpoint I sat for 10 minutes with my arms in the air until the fluid drained from my hands sufficiently for me to prise the rings from my strangled fingers.

We kept up a good pace throughout the walk averaging 3.5 miles per hour overall.  The incentive was getting back in time for the England v Germany kick off at 3.00pm.  We made it with 10 minutes to spare.

Pleased to be finished!

I treated myself to an ice-cream and was tempted to rub it all over my steaming feet.

It was an excellent day. 
I'm now off to have a relaxing bath and then lie down in a darkened room to recover.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

A punctuated ride

The hottest day of the year.  Phew wot a scorcher!

This afternoon I decided to ring the changes and go for a cycle ride instead of a jog.  The circuit I chose was 18 miles in total, with a break at half way point at my Dads for a cold beer and a snack of a couple of sugar snap peas picked fresh from the plant.

It was all going so well.........then I got a puncture 4.5 miles from home and I had to push the bike back home.

Regardless I really enjoyed it.........

Thursday, 24 June 2010

One month CV Challenge complete

One month ago I targeted myself to do at least 30 minutes CV training every day in order to improve my cardio vascular fitness.

I am now able to comfortably jog 2.8 miles albeit it at a slow pace.  I find that I am able to occasionally get into the jogging 'zone' by concentrating on my breathing and staring at the tarmac ahead, at these times the jog flies by.  At other times I find myself distracted by everything that is going on around me, then it feels a lot more laboured.

Having made it through the first month, my next target is to try to increase my pace at intervals during the jog and then to increase the distance. 

By hook or by crook I will be ready for Kilimanjaro.

Less than four months to go now -  Arrrggggghhhh!!!!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Pulling muscles

The focus of yesterdays PT session was pulling.

After a medicine ball warm up, we moved on to the pulley and rope equipment in the gym.  Isolating each muscle in turn by pulling weighted ropes in all directions.  This was followed by tricep dips, 'snatching' an 8 kilogram weight, squatting with a 12.5kg bar on my shoulders and flipping a tractor tyre up and down the outside decking.

In the evening I did my daily three mile jog around the block.

The PT said I would ache today, but I'm up and not achey..........I must be getting stronger.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Fun in the sunshine (& showers) at Sizewell

Our annual NCT camping trip was to Sizewell this weekend.  On Saturday afternoon we all went for a walk along the beach to Dunwich (7.8 miles round trip). 


The Gang

Just after this photograph was taken the heavens opened (again) and most turned back to the campsite.  Four of us carried on as far as Dunwich National Trust tea shop (which had just closed - typical!) and then headed back for a traditional english summer BBQ in the rain.

It was a great walk and a lovely weekend - despite the showers.

Fingers crossed for better weather next year.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Boot Camp

The theme of todays PT session was strength training. 

The outdoor tennis court had been set up as a boot camp suitable for training a contender for the worlds strongest man title.  Who would have ever thought that I would 'enjoy' flipping a tractor tyre from one end of a tennis court to the other and back?  Not something that I had envisaged as part of my training.  It's part of a master plan to mould me into a powerhouse. 

Next week, I'll be pulling a lorry with my teeth!