Kilimanjaro Challenge 2011

Welcome to my blog!

Follow the ups and downs of the biggest challenge I've ever faced. My friend Justine and I are climbing Kilimanjaro in February 2011 and are hoping to raise £10,000 for Naomi House Children's Hospice.

Thanks for visiting.



Friday, 15 October 2010

The Ace of Spades.....

After a busy summer, which has included gym, spinning classes and walks, we planned to hold a Harvest Supper as a fund raising event in our local village hall. This somewhat evolved! Instead, a very kind villager offered the use of her place to host a casino night. As we'd had a fair amount of interest in the Harvest Supper, but not quite enough to warrant the amount of work that a three course, sit down dinner would require, we decided that a less labour intensive option was definitely preferable!

Justine and I prepared chili con carne and a chicken cacciatore for those who don't like spicy food. We set up in Patsy's art rooms with one room becoming a gambling den and the other a dining room with table clothes and place settings. As folk arrived, they opened their BYO booze and set about buying chips, which they then gambled on the roulette table or the blackjack table to win more chips. The person with the most at the end of the evening won a bottle of champagne. It was a very simple evening, with no raffle, just good food and lots of laughs and it went extremely well. In fact, so well, that we've been asked by several people to hold another, similar event so that's being planned currently. Also in the pipeline is a Burns Night supper in January and a central London party in March after we return from our epic journey so there is lots for us to be getting on with.

We raised another £300 at the casino night and are now at almost £3000, which is fantastic! Our events are gathering momentum, as is our fundraising and more people from the surrounding areas are becoming involved thanks to word of mouth about how fun our events are, which is very reassuring!

Our next event is a supper and dance on 13th November, at which there will be a ceroc demonstration from Mirrorball Moves so that will no doubt provide lots of laughs and something to talk about! Personally, I have two left feet, which, along with being squint, have no sense of rhythm so it should prove interesting!

Justine has been a very committed gym bunny and has put me to shame, I've been a bit remiss at getting down there and working up a sweat for various reasons, but will be back, hard at it in the next few weeks! I knew that our undertaking would be enormous, but all of the fundraising, plus the getting fit enough is a full time job, on top of the one I already have! It's exhausting, but hopefully, if we reach our £10k target, it will all be worth it!

I promise not to leave it so long until my next update, so I'll see you soon!..... I wonder if we can get Daniel Craig to come along to our next Casino night....

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

to gym or not to gym....

I'm feeling very virtuous this afternoon. I got up this morning, after a very sleepless night, and dragged myself to the gym for an introductory spinning class. I you've never done spinning before, it's basically you, an exercise bike and some sadistic git who makes you stand, squat, sit and lean in different postures whilst pedaling to music, most of it fast. Oh and you increase the resistance as you go so it gets harder. It kills! Really good for the legs though, and low impact so an ok exercise for my bad joints, although, my knees were a bit sore, I'm fairly sure that's just muscular ache.

I did enjoy it, definitely felt like I was doing good and Justine and I are going again next Wednesday, I hope I've had a bit of sleep by then!

To explain, this isn't just ordinary insomnia, this is insomnia sponsored by Baxter. My very small, very new rescue puppy who has enormous ears! You would have thought being so gifted in the lug department, he would have been sensitive to noise, but alas, he's only sensitive to noise he's not making. He has howled and screamed and whined and sung all night for three nights in a row and I'm just about ready to make him into a pair of gloves! It's just as well he's impossibly cute!
Our resident dog, Ludo, is starting to get used to having to share us and they're now playing nicely together, which is a relief. Justine has pointed out that it's good practice for me to have sleepless nights, since I'll be camping and cold halfway up a mountain in Africa soon enough, which are not conditions likely to be conducive to sustained physical exertion. I'm not sure going to the gym after being kept up all night by a fur ball compares.....

Baxter, all together now... ahhhhhhh (my what large ears you have!!)

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Take one dog, add a large hill....

Although it's been quiet on the blog front, we've been up to stuff in the back ground. Linz and I went to visit family up in Scotland and took the opportunity to do some hill walking as training for the big climb. We settled on Dumyat since it's close to where we were and we've been talking about climbing it for years. Dumyat (pronounced dum-eye-at) is 420m tall and rises above Stirling from the flat river plain of the Forth so we pretty much climbed the whole 420m. It forms part of the Ochil Hills and overlooks the Wallace Monument and down onto Stirling and surrounding towns. The image on the left is Dumyat taken from the old Devon Colliery.

The weather was changeable and we were grateful that we had the perfect sort for walking on the day of our climb. It was mostly overcast with a few breaks for sunshine, which came around pork-pie o'clock when we stopped by a little burn for a snack about an hour and a half or so into the walk.

Now,don't be fooled with how idyllic it looks, to get to this pretty little area, we had to walk through 6ft tall bracken which was alive with flies and spiders and all the sorts of things I don't like. Hence, for about the first 100m up, which covered about 2miles I did a little fly swatting jig all the way since I can't stand things with lots of legs.

After coming out of the bracken, we crossed a couple of burns and started to approach the summit from the back, which, let me tell you, was extremely steep! The last stretch up is quite challenging on the thighs, but this is exactly the sort of training I'll need to be doing. Once we were in the open ground, I became less convinced that I was being stalked by an army of horseflies and started to enjoy it a little more. The dog was fascinated by the sheep that graze on the open ground and there were lots of ruined farm buildings for Linz to take picture of, some mostly everyone was happy.

The summit was extremely windy so we didn't linger too long, but the views were spectacular!

We did a couple of other walks while up north, but mostly quite gentle ones. I wasn't nearly as sore as I was expecting to be after Dumyat, which is a good indicator that the training is doing something! The whole walk was over 6miles (since we got lost on the way back down) and we did it all in 3.5 hours, which is pretty good considering we stopped for snacks and rests along the way.

Given the height we're climbing on Kilimanjaro, I figured that Dumyat is probably about half of what we'll do in a day, which I'm now a little more confident about since I didn't think I was absolutely going to collapse at any time - although, add in some serious altitude and I'm sure it'll be a different matter!

Off to the gym this evening. A local gym owner has sponsored us by way of membership and training advice until our climb, which is very generous. I fully expect to make myself sore all over using the cross trainer!

See you soon,
k xx

Wednesday, 7 July 2010


Saturday 3rd July saw Monk Sherborne Village Hall play host to the Hog Roast and Rum Shack fundraiser for our challenge. We had a busy day ahead of us; up at 7am, hog arriving at 8am and then the tents started to go up at 10am. The sun shone all day and by the time 5pm came around, we were almost ready to go!

The rum shack was a great hit and served the most fantastic rum punches, which proved to be very popular – Pete’s special mixture of spiced rum, fruit and authentic Clayton’s Kola and ginger beer from the Caribbean went down very well!

The event was very well attended and with nearly 80 tickets sold, there were plenty of folk to enjoy the family atmosphere. At 6.30pm there was a limbo competition for the children which was fun to watch and shortly following that, an egg and spoon race, which came to a premature end after the first heat ate their eggs! And people say it’s hard to get children to eat properly these days!

It was a lovely evening and Justine and I would like to thank all those who came along and supported us, including Richard Berends who organised the sound system. We raised a fantastic £1000 towards our £10k target, but most of all, everyone seemed to have a fantastic time, although I suspect there were a few sore heads on Sunday morning.

A special thank you must go to Hughie at Wyatts Butchers in Wolverton Park. Without his very generous donation of equipment and help with the hog our day would not have been so successful. Also deserving of a special mention is Pete who ran our rum shack for us and very generously donated the alcohol.

The hard part was getting up very early to get back to the field and take down all the tents!! I would have loved to have more photos to share with you, but unfortunately, we were far too busy filling rolls with pork!

Monday, 21 June 2010

Car Booty (Shoulda Sold the Dog!)

We did another car boot yesterday, and rather successful it was too! Justine and I thought we'd do a themed car boot this time, rather than the higglety pigglety of the usual bric-a-brac and other items, we were very organised and sorted out our stuff and had a kiddies stall.

We sold clothes, bikes, toys and books and did quite well. We've been very lucky and people have been very generous with donations so we had plenty of stock. Lots of good quality childrens clothes too, which were virtually brand new - they're only in them five minutes aren't they? It did make me laugh that considering we were selling items from as little as 50p when people asked "have you got any aged 3-4?", which we did, but because we hadn't sorted them into size order, and they were just laid out, looking pretty, folk didn't want to rummage. I kinda think rummaging for a bargain is part of the fun, isn't it? But next time, we'll have it all size ordered, just like the high street - only MUCH cheaper!

The biggest draw of the day appeared to be Ludo - my dog. Since I didn't want to leave him at home on his own all day, I took him with us. I was fully expecting him to be a complete pain, but he was mostly quite good. He did quite a lot of singing though (for singing, read 'high pitched whining at other dogs') but eventually he chilled out and everybody wanted a cuddle! He was so patient, getting his head scratched and tummy tickled (it's a hard life) and he was really gentle with all the children that had been dragged over to try out jeans/jumpers/t-shirts etc. I think next time we take him, we'll start charging for cuddles, we'll make a killing! He seems rather exhausted now from all the fuss though....

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Some Good News, Some Bad......

Been a bit quiet on the blog front the last few weeks, sorry about that. So we're in June and the weather is lovely and warm. Lots of BBQs and friends round, but unfortunately, none of that lovely stuff gets money raised and people fit for a mountain!

The good news is I have a legitimate reason to not go running any more - hurray!!! The bad news is, I've got osteoarthritis - booo!!!

I won't bore you with too much dull, depressing, medical stuff, but I've mentioned before that I have the knees of a 90 year old, and I was only half joking. I thought I'd better get myself off to the Drs to get my achy joints sorted before attempting to climb anything bigger than the stairs. Apparently I have something called Hyper Mobility, which is posh talk for being a bit double jointed. This isn't usually a problem for most people, but a few unlucky folk suffer damage to their joints because the joint moves further than it is safe for it to do so. I'm one of those unlucky few and the damage I've been causing, by being a bit too bendy, has now developed into osteoarthritis in my feet, and thumbs and likely to develop in other joints where I have pain too. Which is something to look forward to! Not at all the diagnosis I was expecting and there's no magic pill to make it go away, which was what I was hoping for, just control the pain with pain killers.

What does this mean for the mountain??? The Doc says I shouldn't do any running as high impact sport will exacerbate the problem, but walking is fine. I can do lots of training by walking and any pain can be controlled with painkillers, since there's no treatment once osteoarthritis has set in. It's also only likely to get worse so I'd better get myself up that mountain before I'm unable to later in life. I'm quite pleased that I don't have to drag myself running around my three mile circuit on a Saturday morning so every cloud does have a silver lining! The unfortunate thing is the worst affected joints are in my feet, and I'll kind of need those, but as long as I'm sensible I really don't think it should pose a massive problem. I suspect my insurance premium for the trip has just trebled though!

Most importantly, what does this mean for all of my beautiful, beautiful shoes???? I may resort to sleeping in my very high heels if my feet get to sore to actually wear them!

So other news is we've done a leaflet drop for our next event - a Hog Roast with Rum Shack!! I'm quite exciting about this one. Hopefully the weather will be warm and England will win their group, which means their quarter final match won't clash with the Hog Roast. When we put the date in the diary in the middle of a long, dark winter, the World Cup was but a distant dot on the horizon, but now, unfortunately, if England are only runners up, the match will clash with our event!! How inconsiderate!! I hope that Green fellow sorts his butter fingers out from now on, I need England to win their group, I can't be having any schedule clashing!!! It would be terribly unpatriotic to hope that they don't go through to the next round at all, wouldn't it? - Although, by July 3rd, I might be sick of all the footy and that annoying, endless droning of air horns and noise that seems to accompany every game -what is that about???

So, off now to pour myself a glass of vino de collapso and drown my sorrows at being a prematurely aged 31 year old, with an old persons condition - I wonder if it'll get me out of washing up and cutting the grass from now on......

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Messing about on the river

In the interest of actually being able to drag myself up a mountain, I thought I'd better do some proper distance walking. My other half diligently got out the OS (previous map reading, when left to me, has not had the desired outcome) and plotted a nice walk along the Basingstoke canal. Since I've had achy joints the last week or so - I wasn't joking when I said in an earlier post that I have the knees of a 90 year old - we thought a canal walk would be sensible since it would be nice and flat and so wouldn't put to much stain on my poor knees (and lately, just for some variety, my ankles).

We parked one car at Odiham and then drove up to Fleet in the second car, with the small, furry beastie on board and off we went. The route was about 10 miles, which would push me and also wear the dog out. It was an absolutely glorious walk. Lovely sun shine, people messing about in canoes on the canal, or having picnics on the grassy verges. There are some stunning properties along side the canal bank and I love a good nose so there was plenty to keep us occupied on our little trek. What a lot of bugs there were though! I'm not really good with flying things. They tend to make me have weird impulse spasms as soon as I hear anything buzzing anywhere near me, especially when they get tangled up in my hair - yeulch!! So there we were, walking along the canal on a beautiful, English spring day with me doing what would look from a distance, like a jumpy, out of time dance as I swot flies and a variety of flying insects away from me. Goodness only knows what I'll be like in Africa - Justine thinks it's hilarious that I'm so rubbish at being out doors, but since her only pre-condition to climbing Kili with me was that I didn't snore (we'll be sharing a tent) she seems to think she can live with some of my more ridiculous qwerks!

There's lots to see along the canal, it was built around the 1790's and has some lovely old bridges over it. The stetch that we walked along has many war defences to stop German tanks during WWII, it would seem that Basingstoke was the place to get to for the 3rd Reich so needed a pill box every 10 feet and lots of dragons teeth (anti tank lumps of concrete to the uninitiated). Further along, past Odiham is King Johns Castle, which is an ancient relic, apparently there are 2 other castles in the area, but I haven't spotted them yet.

We've received lots more donations for the next car boot, which will be next weekend, so hopefully that'll add to our total.

I'm off to put my slightly achy feet up now. I'm not nearly as sore as I thought I was going to be and managed to complete the 10 miles without a total sense of humour failure, which is an improvement for me! The dog, however, is still pooped and refuses to move off the sofa!