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!

Monday, 10 May 2010

We're on the way....

We've had a very busy few weeks! First there was the cream tea, which was held in our local village hall. People were very generous with both their cake donations and their time and we raised £300, which was excellent for our first event. The spread looked really good and everyone that came really seemed to enjoy the afternoon. It was a proper, old fashioned afternoon, with big pots of tea and scones galore! Hopefully the word is now out that we put on a good show and we'll attract even more folk to the Hog Roast, which is on the 3rd July. We're really looking forward to that and are trying to organise a bit of a carnival theme, with a limbo competition and steel band music. Although, getting in a live band is probably going to be prohibitively expensive as the aim is to raise money, not spend it on entertainment. If anyone knows someone who can play a steel drum and doesn't mind coming along to bang out a few tunes in return for food, please let me know!

We're in full organisation mode for the next event now and Justine has become the Queen of Lists! She's got a list for everything, it's quite astounding! Now there's talk of spreadsheets and databases since the money has started coming in and it's a real motivator to see the Just Giving total creeping up. Very exciting!

We had our first car boot sale on Sunday 9th May and it was an education - to say the least! I quite enjoyed all the hustle and bustle of it, but was a little shocked when we arrived, the first visitors you get are traders who do car booting (not sure that's an actual verb) for a living and good grief, they were climbing about in our car before we'd hardly had time to put the handbrake on! They don't even let you get set up before they're raking through boxes of stuff and asking "how much for the picture love?". It was very bizarre, although, one chap did ask permission before he clambered into the boot and disappeared behind a box of old baking trays, I wouldn't have been too surprised to have found a lost trader stuck behind the back seats once we were all done and at home unpacking, but they seemed to disappear and move onto the next arriving car as quickly as they'd swarmed over us.

There was one moment when I thought Justine was going in for the kill. There was a rather round chap with an attractive grease spill down his jacket who came around and bartered us down on the price of DVDs. He gave us some old pony chat about his 6 kids and yadda, yadda, yadda. Anyway, the upshot was he wanted to pay 50p per DVD and we wanted a £1. We came down in the end just to get rid of some stuff and thought every penny counts. We had our Naomi House posters up and had told him all the money raised was going to charity so he knew what we were about. Anyway, later on, Linz (my other half) was wandering around and found same round chap on his own stall selling the DVDs he'd just bought from us for £1 each!!!! The bloomin' cheek of it! Well, Linz came back and mentioned it and Justine marched straight over and ripped a strip off him! Good for her, some people are unbelievable! But then, that's a lesson learned and we won't fall for that trick again when we do our next car boot in about a fortnight. We raised £117 so we did quite well and have lots more donations in the garage ready for round 2!! More are always gratefully accepted of course!

So, that's about it for now. Trying to tie in training, with car boots plus organising and running events is turning into a full time job, but we're well on the way to raising our first £1000 which will be brilliant! I might pop a bottle of bubbly when we do!

Sunday, 18 April 2010


So, training is going quite well, except for last weekend when I might have accidentally drunk to many glasses of pinot and couldn't face going for a run. This weekend we were back on schedule! 3 mile run on Saturday, 3 mile walk on Sunday followed by another 2 miles to deliver leaflets around the village. I'm feeling quite virtuous, if a little stiff. Luckily, we had some glorious sunshine to walk/run in so it was quite pleasant.

I'm very aware that now our basic level of fitness is up - and by that, I mean I don't think I'm going to die if I run for 3 miles - we really need to start doing some more serious uppy downy type walking. We're going to reattempt Watership Down in a couple of weeks, I wonder if I'll have to notify some sort of rescue agency, given our previous with map reading????

I'm off on holiday at the end of next week (23rd) Icelandic volcanoes permitting, naturally. However, there's a gym in our hotel and I'm planning to take advantage of this and try and get up to 4, maybe 5 miles (perhaps a little optemistic) of running by the time I come back, I figure I can run every other day in the gym, and if I get stiff, well, I'll be in Turkey, so I can go have myself a Turkish bath!!

No such luxuries to be had up a mountain! We sent off our deposits this week so our places are now confirmed, we fly out Feb 24th 2011 (if Iceland are still at it then, I'll be VERY cross!) so it's all become a bit real. We'd like to get up to a respectable 6miles each day on the weekend as we'll have to do similar mileage for 6 days straight on the ascent (up nearly 20,000ft! eek!) so we'll need to build on the good work we've done.

Our first event, a cream tea afternoon on Sunday 2nd May is all organised and folk have been very generous with donations for our bootfairs, for which we will be eternally grateful. Now the ball is rolling, hopefully, some pennies will start coming in!

Hey ho, I'm off to bed to rest up ready for another Monday morning! More pictures to follow next post.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Well, finally the clocks have gone forward and the longer evenings are here! This means that it will still be daylight when I get in from work and Justine and I can do our 3 mile circuit during the week. We've set ourselves a tougher target for the weekends. Yesterday we took ourselves off to The Gallops, which is just outside of Kingsclere slap bang in the middle of the Hampshire Downs. There are some pretty big hills for us to walk up and down and we figured that this would be better training for us as doing a relatively flat 3 or 6 mile walk on a weekend was no longer proving as much of a challenge as it had at first. Unfortunately, what did prove a challenge was reading the OS map we'd taken with us. In true girly style, we held it upside down and turned left off the road instead of right, walking away from the beautiful hills at Watership Down - where the author of the famous novel grew up. Instead, we wandered up and down a muddy track and found ourselved in a Caravan Club park. Lovely though it was, Watership Down, it wasn't!

Having said that, it served the same purpose, we did 4 very hilly miles and our calves and thighs certainly felt it later in the day! At least we'll know where to go next weekend, and my other half thought it was hillarious - although he had the forethought to be a little concerned that the same two that couldn't hold a map the right way up were going to climb a big ruddy mountain in Africa - luckily, we'll have a little man with us who'll do the map reading and the guiding and the carrying of very heavy bags, so that's sure to be a relief. My mini schnauzer is loving all these long walks, although he was utterly pooped when we got home yesterday as he'd walked his little paws off and had just about worn out his nose.

We're now planning for our first event on 2nd May - we're having a cream tea in our local village hall. Hopefully the weather will be kind to us. Pictures and review of the day will follow.

Well, I'm off for a lovely Easter Sunday roast, happy easter everyone and see you soon.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

So, a second update! Well, since I was last here, we've had a team huddle with our campaign manager (a neighbour we've roped in to helping us - sounds very grand!) and booked four events in our local village hall across the year which we hope to raise money at. We've been in touch with a very worthwhile local charity, Naomi House Children's Hospice who have been very supportive and both Justine and I are very excited to be able to raise money for them with our big challenge!!

We started out with the best intentions on our training and pounded the 3mile loop around the village on a weekend. After we mentioned our regular walk to other villagers, it seems to have turned into a social event and we are often joined by other ladies (and sometimes some small dogs) which makes for a lovely Sunday morning, but I'm not sure it's going to get us up a mountain! I've started running the route on a Saturday morning. The first time I finished the run a few weeks ago, I spent the whole of Saturday in a bizarre endorphin related haze of euphoria, quickly followed on Sunday by the shuffling grumblings fit for a woman of 90. A runner, I ain't!! However, I have persevered (much kudos to Emma here for making me go) and have completed the circuit a few times now and I have to say it's getting easier. Although, I don't seem to be getting thinner - surely it can't be anything to do with the food I stuffing into myself can it?? *wry smile*

Spring is coming and the nights are getting shorter and we have plans for more exercise in the evenings during the week. We're also considering doing a training climb up Snowdon later in the year - it all seems rather serious! Frankly, the less time I have to spend under canvas sleeping in the great outdoors the better but I don't suppose that's really the attitude (note to self: must try harder).

I've been to visit some of the big outdoorsy shops up in Covent Garden. I was more than a little intimidated. They are full of all these bright young things, and by young I mean 12 (alright, maybe 20) who are lean and full of energy and give the slightly pudgy 30 something rather sideways looks when I tell them of our plans and ask them which sleeping bag they recommend.... I'm then pointed in the direction of the worlds most overprice coffin lining (£300 for a sleeping bag - honestly, I ask you!! I only want to sleep in it for 6 nights!!) so I'm now on the hunt for places to rent stuff out. Apparently, you can rent pretty much everything you'd need, which is great, as long as I don't think to hard about who'll have been sleeping in my bag before me (must by a bag liner - I've only recently learned that such a thing exists!).

So that's it for now, I'm off for a well deserved glass of wine. I'm in total denial about the prospect of giving up booze for a while before we go. I stopped smoking a few years ago and the odd vino collapso is now my crutch of choice. I figure with all this running and healthy type business I can treat myself ....

Thursday, 11 February 2010

What on earth was I thinking.....

So, over Christmas, my friend Justine mentioned this big trip that she's got planned. She's been talking all summer about climbing Kilimanjaro and has been looking for suitable daft folk to go with her. After a glass of wine or two too many, it sounded like a grand idea and so I was on board.

Then there was the panic first thing in the morning: what on earth had I agreed to??? Which charities would we raise money for? Were we fit enough? Can a slightly indoorsy, rather soft (not to mention squidgy in the wrong places!), 30 something really take on such a big challenge, and wouldn't I rather just have a nice cup of tea and a bit of a sit down??

After a good long think, I've warmed to the idea and we are now in our planning stage. Currently having discussions about charity options and events to run alongside the big, final challenge. We've set ourselves a big target and would love to raise enough to make a difference to our charities. It's been a while since I've done something on an impulse and although my friends and family are questioning my sanity, they are largely supportive - if a bit doubtful of whether or not I really mean it. My mum's adopted that "we'll see" sort of attitude that mothers are so good at, as well as pointing out that I have the knees of a 90 year old - ahhhh, it's good to bask in the glow of familial support and love isn't it?? ;)

First things first though. If I'm going to climb a great, big, ruddy mountain, I ought to get a bit fit and having eaten all of the mince pies in Hampshire over December, Justine and I started in earnest doing a bit of exercise. We walk 6 miles every Sunday, I tend to run 3 miles on Saturdays and as soon as it's lighter in the evenings we'll be walking/running/biking during the week to. So far, I'm not much thinner, but watch this space! If I'm not thin and gorgeous by the end of this, I'll be writing a strongly worded letter so someone!!

See you soon, I'll update when I have something more interesting than knees and running to talk about!