Thursday, 31 December 2015

This year 2015

Well what a year this has been! It has seen few battles mainly Helen's fight with cancer amongst other things, it's seen me change in many ways and take on more challenges like pedal for Scotland. So here is a wee blog about this year. Some pictures first.

Well a year that started as most we had been through Helens Chemo and were waiting to here what the next step was, We heard later that Helen was going to have major surgery and this would happen on march the 3rd one day before my birthday not that it mattered. The build up to the op  was as you can imagine very nervous we both knew that it was best thing but still who would want to put there selves through something like this? We arrived couple of days before op Helen was taken in to  ERI and i managed to find a good B&B  this was to be my home for the next ten days. I wont go on about this to much but what i will say the NHS take a right slagging at times i should know working for them but Helen was treated franticly well nothing was ever to much for them they really were angels every one. I myself spent the days walking back and forward to the hospital or going into Edinburgh just to take my mind of things i did a lot of soul searching and a lot of crying as most of days i was on my own and my mind went into overdrive. On the day of the op i went and sat with Helen she wrote me a letter that i was to read when i got back to the B&B. We spoke about various things Helen was of course very very nervous as was i. We said usual how much we loved each other and i told her i would be waiting for her when she comes out of surgery. The 3rd of march was the longest day of my life, i read the letter man that was emotional and how Helen managed to Wright that is beyond me. Joyce her sister came that day and stayed Helen came out of surgery around 6pm and they told me it went well but would not be able to see her until around 7 so they can get her settled in ICU. When we got in to see her she was in and out of sleep but managed to speak even to the stage she told me to bog of mmm or maybe it was fk off ha ha for asking questions but she was well away with the fairies. We were allowed to stay no more than 30min but they said i can phone at midnight when it was my birthday. Me and Joyce left that Hospital and we felt relieved. I did phone at midnight and they let me speak to Helen what a great surprise best birthday present ever, yeah she sounded weak but she just had a major op but was so good to here her wish me a happy Birthday that good i opened a bottle of red wine and had a couple of glasses. Joyce took me out for a meal on my Birthday before we went to see Helen she really was a star and was good to have someone to celebrate with although Helen was always in my thoughts. When we went to see Helen she had been moved to a ward amazing she was sitting in a chair in bit of pain but smiling man that was so good. I am not going to say much more on this as well myself and Helen although had hard time this year have just got on with things, that night i went our in the capitol for my Birthday and made rather merry mmm got pissed!!! Helen is my Hero i have many all mainly mountaineers but not one of them has climbed a mountain the size of the one she has climbed she is the strongest  and bravest person i know and even though she still gets check ups and no more for six months which is great news she remains strong and positive and i feel no matter what happens next we will face it head on and fight this bastard all the way... A new beginning starts for Helen this year 2016 she retired from work 31st 2015 still young still fighting and still the bravest person i will ever know love her to bits. Oh Debs and all my family thank you for all you do i love you all. thank you Phyll for calling me in Edinburgh and i wish you and your hubby well for 2016 as well. Thanks ken and Val you are real friends you were always there. Tony and Susan thanks And of course Young Helen and Colin thank you, John Mckeague thanks bud. And everyone who kept in touch just big thank you all.

2015 also seen me getting more into outdoor activities such as cycling and my charity driven by Helen #GOTEAMHELEN and my first big event was the 116 mile peddle for Scotland challenge which i completed and manage to raise nearly £2000 amazing and thanks to all my friends on twitter and Facebook and beyond for donating i had a great time and of course was driven by Helen, also was great that with 20miles to go i received a txt message from my nieces to say that they were at the finishing line waiting for me and i can tell you that was the boost i needed as i was feeling a a wee bit lol that was just the best surprise ever. Arlene who did the challenge with me massive thanks to you both for helping it was a great boost. 2016 will see challenges continue wirh myself and my good mate John doing the etape cycle and also 9 munros in two days this will also be done for charity so beware i will be asking for cash again ha ha.. It was also a good year in many ways especially for mountains and for walks many were completed abd me and Helen enjoyed some great low level walks and getting away around Scotland  what a gorgeous country we live in. And we hope to continue this well into next year as well having all ready booked a couple of nights away and places were going hope we get some snow.
As for my friends well what can i say Ken and Val you've been awesome and thank you for putting us up we had a great time with you all and kids were just great fun... Never forget our night camping on beach with Ken Morven and Baird ha ha that scene when the moon appeared and we were sitting drinking whiskey and eating smoked salmon man what a night, breaking trees for wood for the fire which the two kids had started what a great night just what i needed. John  McKeague thanks for everything and here is to a lot of cycling and coffee in 2016 bring it on. Aundre and Carol thank you Big John Rodger man you are all top people here to mare drink lol, Leighan and Rob cheers you twa. To all friends who were there To Louise who messaged me when in Edinburgh thank you to Phyllis who called thank you to all who got me through thank you, Also to my work colleagues who put up with me i know i am a grump but this year thank as my head was all over the place. Thanks everybody who stayed in touch it meant so much. One note Allan Mackie will never forget you mate R I P
Family this year as always have been great but hard for others as well my niece Teresa who has gone through her own treatment and fought through well done your one tough lass and your family who helped sure will be proud of you. Special mention to my other nieces Especially Debbie just to let you understand i love all my nieces might not show it to them all but i do but Debbie i cant thank you enough for your messages and just keeping in touch all the time and Amanda you and Debs of course coming through to support me with the kids was a moment not just in my life but Helens as well i will always remember and the banners you made were just fantastic i can never tell you how happy that made Helen and me and hope you never forget what i told you that day. Chris not just my brother but my best mate cheers here hoping united stay up bro lol. To all my family love you all hope we can get out more often 2016.
This blog is for me to say thank you  to everybody  i have probably forgot some but i have not forgot what help you have been even by just messaging or a call it got me through this year.
Well as you can see i am not great at blogging but hope you enjoy it anyway for 2016 we both hope we just keep getting good news every time we see the consultant it is all we can do. And of course Helen is now a lady of leisure having retired today 31/12/15 i will be a kept man ha ha aye right. Next year more mountains will be climbed and of course hopefully the 9 munros in 2 days and of course etape cycle challenge watch out for my charity getting set up. So thank you all for reading and hope you all have a great new year or a great 2016.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

From Kathmandu to Kala pathar Part 1

The stars of  the show Martin Topping, Joanna Schmidt, Kate Gormley,  Bruce, Tina and Nolan Loxton, Andy and April Hampton, Kevin and Eileen, Mike Masters and myself Ged Hepburn. And here we are us happy band.  Photos will appear at bottom of blog as it does not let me place them in line which is annoying.
Mach 30th Saturday
Trying to sleep was hard night before I was due to leave for Trek to Everest base camp well kala pathar  fair to say I was excited but also fair to say I was extremely nervous ,  I had been away on trek before to Peru but this was different I was going to the dizzy heights of Kala Pathar an amazing 5554m and this was to turn out to be a trip of strength ability and sheer determination all of which we all had in abundance I shall explain as I go on but to start I could not have asked for a better bunch of people to go trekking with.  Helen was giving me a lift to Edinburgh Airport we were going to arrive early and have a cup of coffee together but as things worked out we never really had time. Saying bye to Helen was as always very hard tears and the likes but hey I soon calmed down ha ha no but of course we were both bit teary but we both managed. Helen has been fantastic in helping me achieve my goal and was with me all the way on my trek and made sure she knew that. So all checked in and ready to go was on plane 20min before take off thinking well this is it this is what you have trained hard for all the cycling jogging walking and the gym let's just hope it all worked.
So arrived at Heathrow in good time managed to book in case and then look for joanna schmidt I had spoken to Jo on the phone but never met her before we discussed how many times we had unpacked and repacked our cases and unknown to Jo after I spoke to her I came home and unpacked and repacked my case again ha ha had bit of a panic there. So looked for Jo and found her and what a great person to meet jo was going further after EBC she was going on to Goyoko pass with Guy named Bruce and meant to be Tina and Nolan .  so full of life and just so looking forward to this trip of a life time Jo worked as an Air hostess so had just returned from some far of land and was ready to fly off again very busy life but sounds like she loves what she does and she was so easy to talk to and get on with. We then looked for Mike Masters I had met Mike before on a Scottish weekend meet great guy down to earth and great dry sense of humour we met him in departures so that was three of us together Mike myself and Jo. Me and MIke had met at Scottish weekend with safe journeys where we climbed Tarmachan Ridge and Schiehallion and also shared a few beers of course just for sociable reasons you understand ha ha.
So time for next flight to Abu Dhabi which was quite a good flight with Etihad Airways had choice of films to watch and also choice of food to have which was good I am not best flier so was good to have choice of what to watch and in truth all flights were good well bit hairy on last flight home but will come to that.
So we arrived in Abu Dhabi in good time and it was a very busy place we had a long wait here so we tried to make ourselves as comfortable as possible .
So time we met the rest of the people who were going on trek first I met in An Dhabi were April and Andy who I also met in Scotland once again great couple who were not only doing EBC they were going on to do a climb called Island Peak ( fair to say I was jealous ). Bloody awesome lol so now there were five ooo but hold on we were missing someone called Martin Topping no one could find this guy who I had never met but was looking forward to meeting wonder where he could be?? Martin appeared some time later from the executive club oooooo all fresh and fed and watered ha ha while we were all out with the commoners martin was in sunning it with the tosh lucky lucky *%-£#&#. Martin was big lad Rugby player and looked it but got to say like everybody there we all hit it off together and as it turned out all encouraged each other all the way through this trek. So now we are up to six we then met Bruce our seventh person Bruce was another good guy and who I would share a room with for most of this trek Bruce was like a medic his bag contained everything you could want if you were not feeling well or just needed something to boost you like rehydration tablets he was the guy to see guy that would help in any way he can. So here we were all waiting to board fight some of us meeting for the first time some I met before but all getting on well together.
It was a long wait but the flight passed with no real problems bit weary but felt good to arrive. We were transported to hotel Thamel in heart of Kathmandhu this is where we met Tina and Nolan who have been trekking the world since December such a nice couple really was great meeting them from south Africa but stay in London but must have seen some fantastic sites before joining us all it show as how quickly a bond was set later on when something happened to Tina and the affect it had on our group. So now we were nine. Then Kevin an Eileen appeared another nice couple who had been in kathmandhu for a while and were ready for trek although Kevin did seem tiered but he did say he did like to sleep a lot I wish I could have slept as easy as Kevin did. So our group was now eleven. We had talk about what was happening then given our rooms which were fine I had a shower and bit of a rest before some of us went out and had bite to eat and the only two beers we would have in nearly three weeks. Kathmadhu was bathed in well darkness so after our beer and bit food it was back to hotel for an early night this would become a feature of our next 15 or so days.
Monday 1/4/13
So first day in Kathmandu out early do bit of shopping buy new back pack and base layer it is early morning and already 24c and we were at height of 1360m. Today we would visit Swayambu Stupa a huge Buddhist and Hindu Temple (also known as monkey temple). But I have to say I loved Katmandu it is like a work in progress but I loved the buzz and the feel of the place I think most of us did, it was a crazy place cars and motorbikes squeeze past each other and to warn you they just peep there horns was crazy but the whole time I was there I never saw any accidents at all. It was just the hive of activity and you can basically kit your self out with half decent walking gear for around a £100. So was of to temple what a great place to visit in your first day we climbed oh think was well over 100 steps to reach it but was so worth it think we all enjoyed it good start to our acclimatization walks so much work has gone into this was hard to take it all in. We spun the prayer wheels in hope that it would bring us all good luck and the views over kathmandhu were pretty special indeed. And of course plenty of monkeys to take photos of as well our guide was good chowding now thats probably the wrong spelling but he was our main guide that day and always had a smile on his face even when he had some bad news more on that later. So after few hours we made our way back down and on the bus back to Kathmandhu to separate all our gear for start of our trek we were given blue bags to put our trekking gear in this would be what we would live out of for the next 15 days. Then some of us went out and had a nice big lunch (No beer ) found nice restaurant and had a nice club sandwich. At night we went to M C Donald's for tea before we all retired to bed and ready for what became a great adventure for us all. 
Tue 2/4/13
So today we would take the short flight to Lukla to start our trek, I have to say I was both excited about this flight and very nervous not many times you will be angle to board an airplane why it is still refuelling. The airport was an experience to your bags were thrown onto scales to check weight was bit chaotic but hey all part of the Experience . Tickets in hand we had a short wait for the  plane then it was boarding time off we went. As it turned out this was probably most exciting flight I have been on well the flight was good but the landing was well let me explain, front seat coming into land all I could see was mountains it just looked like we were flying into a mountain it was not until last few seconds that the runway appeared man to say I was relieved is an understatement but also well I kind of loved that flight I came of that plane buzzing :-) . There is a good video of this landing which I will try to upload and let you see the relief on my face :-) . So into Lukla to have a cup of tea before we set of on what I looked at as the first part of our trek  today we were going to 2652m place called Phakding so it was cup of tea in Lukla get the suntan lotion on and then we were off on the start of our trek (  sun factor 40+ and still managed to burn the back of my head ). We Descended towards the Dudh Kosi River and joined the main trail which would eventually take us to Namche Bazaar just above Chaunrikharka at 2713m and walking was good passing small villages. Then at around 2550m we had  a short walk to reach phakding. Once there we had lunch potatoes in what tasted like a curry sauce very nice two helpings for most of us :-)  oh and tea. We were giving our rooms then in the afternoon we had an acclimatization walk to a bhudist temple. I liked Phakding had nice feel about it lots of other trekkers and climbers to. So in the afternoon we went to bhudist temple this was quite a steep climb and I gave myself bit of a sore head not for the first time on this trek not sure if I was going to fast but managed to keep it at bay with some pain killers. It was hard but think we all agreed it was worth it as we did get some great views and met some of the young monks that were there we also saw them perform there ceremony which was really good to see think everybody enjoyed watching this these were very young kids and this is I think what they will do for the rest of there lives. So we spent a bit of time there then it was back to the village to drink more tea and relax which we all did and it was nice just to be there and chat with everybody and think of what lay ahead of us. Martin had brought his iPad with him and was loading photos oh and that flight video lol so it was good to see them as our days trekking had finished. Bed around 7-30 this became the norm as it was always early starts rooms were OK very cold at night but once you managed to get into your sleeping bag with thermals and hat sometimes gloves on ha ha you soon warmed up, quick read then try to get some sleep which was quite hard with Bruce sucking  the walls in man soon his head hit the pillow he slept like a baby a very Loud baby ha ha but it never lasted long and he gave me ear plugs to help :-) . So some sleep then on to the next day.
Wed 3/4/2013.
Today we would head to monjo ( Monzo) at 2835m it was an early start I was up at 5 as was not having best night sleep but trek started around 7am I had porridge which must admit to not liking very much but ate most of it to give me some energy for  today's trek it would last for around 4hrs this was a nice walk the trail kept close to the river and the valley was lined with blue pine and rhododendron forest and although not quite in bloom I would imagine would look spectacular when it is. We crossed the Dudh Kosi river at Benkar and this is where we started to see some amazing views the snow peaks of Kusum Kanguru at 6369m and Thamserku at 6625m just looked stunning although they were to get better. From here it was a short walk to our next village of Monjo ( or as they called it Monzo) at 2835m. This trek was steep in places but everybody was in good spirits and no aches and pains although this is where I discovered how bad my neck had been burnt and Martin's as well it was the shape of my baseball cap lol as martin had fun taken a photo off. We had lunch then it was onto another acclimatization walk which lasted about 2hrs this is what I liked about this we were getting to see other parts of Nepal as well everybody was in good spirits enjoying a laugh and also sharing any food that we had during the walks even when Jo bought a tobllerone mmm it took a bit of coaxing like just keep talking about it until she surrenders said chocolate ha ha and I mean a big bit of coaxing ahh but joking aside it was shared as was everything including snikers bars but there was an indecent involving one of these which I will come to soon :-) . So once again it was time to chill and let the body acclimatise which of course was very important. We were told always to walk behind our guide at a slow pace our guides would always shout slow slow its very hard for someone who is fit to walk slow but not here it was the only way to get through this trek and if you tried to go faster your body soon told you to slow down in more ways than one. So after tea of pasta with sauce it was time to read or wright your journal charge phones or whatever you wanted to do before bed. Another early night for another early start to best place we went to in my opinion Namche Bazaar.
Thu 4/4/2013
So another early start on our way to what became my favourite place Namche Bazaar think we started around 6-30,and the walking became a little tougher today we were going up to 3446m so this would include a steep ascent to Namche. breakfast was good porridge was lovely and sweet and gave me wee boost to start the day. Off we went our happy band it was a short walk to entrance of the sagmartha ( Think this was Tibetan name for Everest) and once again we would cross the Duhd Kosi river great flowing river ice melt from everest itself' we crossed a lot of  bridges which was well fun but they did move a lot especially if yaks were crossing at the sane time :-)  we crossed to village called Jorsale at 2805m and headed upstream it was still flat terrain. We then crossed back over yes Duhd kosi and the Bhote Kosi river and this is point  the terrain changed became a lot more steeper this was when I could feel a slight change in my breathing not sure about the others though but I enjoyed the wee breaks and sharing evrybodys coconut biscuits nuts and even chocolate mmm. Crossing a large suspension bridge we slowly slowly ascended at a very steady pace towards Namche . This is when some great photo opportunities came our first views of Everest and Ama Dablam, Lhoste, Numpste and Taweche at 6542m came into view it was so beautiful and big you could not take it all in and camera will never do it justice. So our first view of Everest and what a view it was just fantastic and I knew it was only going to get better and it did. On to Namche it was a very steep climb but it was so worth it what a view we had when we arrived, we sat outside our lodge and it was just gorgeous scenery all around we had wa more tea sitting looking relaxing at this big mountain that changed every few seconds with the clouds fantastic and this would be the view from my room what more can you ask for? We had lunch of soup and Tibetan bred it was great yummy and well had second helpings then was shower time horray a shower ha ha at last bloody great how a simple shower can make you so happy :-)  we then headed in to the town and had apple struddle and Starbucks coffee mmmmmm so good ha ha then a look around the shops bought couple tshirts but Bruce managed to buy a whole shop h ha his poor porter would need extra muscles from this day he even tried to barter with a chemist lmao what a guy. It was then we had wee walk around then headed back to the lodge for tea oh and they had WiFi so was able to post photos to Facebook for Helen to see and friends but mainly to let helen know how it was all going even though had text her before this, WiFi was a great way to keep in touch Martin was able to face time with his wife and family which was great to see but we were all happy that we could post stuff that our loved ones and friends could see five minutes after posting. We stayed up until 8pm yeah really late for us but tomorrow would be another acclimatization walk and turned out it was one I and sure others loved. So once again bed cold room quick change then into warm sleeping bag and at last sure i had at least 5hrs sleep ahhhh bliss lol.
Photos are all of start one has appeared from later on not sure why sorry but blogger would not let them put them in place if you like to know anymore about them just let me know. They re first views of everest 'Namche , and of  Tina, Nolan ,Mike, Bruce ,Joanna Kate , Martin, Kevin, Eileen April, Andy and of course me.