West Highland Way Part 1

I haven’t written in quite some time! I did mean to update everyone and post pictures etc but I have been busy. I cringe every time I write that as its like my catch phrase and will be put on my grave stone I think!

So, did I do the WHW? Yes… I started on a rainy Monday morning with apprehension and a bit of fear, I won’t lie. I couldn’t sleep the night before and had been at work until 22:00, where people had been wishing me well but also planting seeds of doubt in my head. No, they weren’t being nasty but they were concerned about my safety as I was doing the walk on my own. I am a feminist.. usually stuff like that doesn’t phase me but it was starting to this time.

I waved the kids, husband and dog off, got my stuff together, had my breakfast and bid farewell to a friend who was good enough to drop me off in Milngavie which is the start of the walk.  I have to say that I started to have doubts.. how was I going to deal with the alone time that I so craved since planning to do this, the time to think and just be on my own for the first time in a long time? Was I ready for such a big and momentous task with minimal training? Would I sleep at night in my tent and not be scared of the noises throughout the night? Only one way to find out…

Off I walked and walked, and walked… you get it… As I walked, my spirits and the weather lifted. I ran into two guys who were over from Israel and I think they took me under their wing. They wanted to give me their number in case I found myself in any trouble and needed someone in an emergency. I started to feel the camaraderie of the “Way” that I had often read about.  I was part of this amazing experience and it really  felt quiet empowering.

As I walked, I noticed that I would pass the two guys and catch up, they offered me food, chat and friendship and it felt like they were making sure that I was ok whilst doing this on my own.  I took pics on their phone for them and I really regret not taking their details. I wonder how they got on and if they completed it as the last place that I saw them was in Rowardennan Youth Hostel.

My first day got me from Milngavie to Drymen where I had the best steak pie in the universe at one of the most friendliest places in Scotland, called “The Clachan Inn“. I go here regularly an I always order the same ting because it is amazing and despite looking like a drowned rat with no reservation, they took me in, gave me warmth and provided fantastic hospitality.  At the end of the first day, I was tired and emotional and my bones were killing me. I had wanted to walk further but I just couldn’t manage it. One of the owners spoke to me as she could see I was full of self doubt and I called her when I came home, to tell her just how much her words meant. Her words made a difference as did two other women I met when finishing up and who were also doing the walk, (more about them later).

That night I decided to stay in one of the hotels, The Drymen Inn and I tried to get to bed early but I got restless legs and was tossing and turning all night. I didn’t mind as the bed was comfy, hotel clean, shower much appreciated and weather turned out nice again. I also decided to get baggage transfer which a lot of folk had told me to do but I wanted to do everything on my own. That’s just  who I am.. I am stubborn and I am strong but I knew that the walk would be much more manageable had I just done all of that in the first place.

I called up Greg from Baggage Freedom and he couldn’t have been more accommodating. He was resourceful, hilarious and his dog Spike, who was in the van with him, really cheered me up. I wish I had known about him before but thankfully I do now and I will be using his baggage transfer services this summer. He also transfers pets too so I can bring Allie , my border collie and she can explore the great outdoors with me.

New Challenge #18for2018

After thinking further about what I wanted to achieve this year, I decided to incorporate two goals into 1 .. or is is maybe 3 goals +? I’m not entirely sure! Either way, this one has got to be one of my biggest in terms of exercise, mind and body, as well as craziest of all. I think. I mean, there has been so many that its hard to keep track of the things that I have done over the years!

What is it, I hear you ask? Well I’ve just decided to finally pursue a dream of walking a whole 96 effing miles,of the West Highland Way! I have set a date for the 9th of April as its pre midgie season, not too hot (does it ever get hot in Scotland?), it won’t be incredibly busy and I have a chance of maybe staying in a B&B should I choose to go down that route, the kids are still in school and nursery and I have 6 whole days to do it which will mean an average of 15 miles or so a day. Easy, right?

I’m actually super excited, yet scared as well. I haven’t started training but tomorrow will be the 1st day of a long schedule of walking and meeting nutritional goals. I will probably re start the BodyCoach in this time as well but being careful that I don’t overload this mind of mine which already has a lot going on in it! I have been reading a lot of blogs from people who have done it, getting ideas, inspiration and tips. From taping areas where I usually get blisters as a preventative, to making sure that I walk my boots in, to best places to stay or camp.

I want to make sure that I am meticulous in all detail and plan for all eventualities because as weather goes here, we have 4 seasons in one day. I need to make sure that I have good walking boots, trainers, plastic bags to keep clothes dry, sun cream, first aid kit, compass and map, emergency battery for phone, a schedule left with friends so that they know what I plan on achieving if anything happens, and lots of other things too.

I have decided to train by walkig 5 miles a day and then doing a long walk 1 a week of 15 miles. I heard that this is a really good way to prepare and I hope that I can achieve this. The 5 miles a day won’t be difficult and for the long walks, I hope t do that on the actual trail itself, in order to get a feel for what I am up against. I have heard about bogs, and the likes so best to experience it now, right?

Another decision that I need to think about is, will i stay in B&B’s along the way or will i sleep outside under the stars, cook on an open fire, swim in the Loch… it all sounds so romantic yet the reality will be me in tears 10 mins into my long walk, cursing myself for what I decided would be my year of fitness! hahah

I guess having 6 days to myself will give me the space that I need to think about life, the past 10 years, goals and the likes. Its been a tough 10 years at times and I hope to channel that into doing something positive which will be raising money for the Mother and Baby Unit and Perinatal Mental Health Services in Glasgow who helped me through PND. I wont hassle people for money, but if anyone wants to sponsor me please feel free to, or even make a donation to a mental health charity of your choice. Mental Health to those that know me, is a huge passion of mine and I have submitted my application form to do Mental Health Nursing this year (fingers crossed, still waiting).

So, what do you guys think of this new goal? Do you think I’ll achieve? Have any of you done the WHW? Does anyone have any tips?

 

 

Calais Trip

I had written about how my daughter and I wanted to go to Calais to bring donations to the refugees who were in Calais, and on Sunday we made that happen..

I had spoken to my daughters head teacher to see if I could ask on our school Facebook page for donations and she kindly allowed us to do so and made room in the school for parents to drop items off and hold them until we went. So on Friday I went with the van and picked the items up. I was taken aback by the kindness of the children and families and the amount that was donated to this cause.

On Sunday afternoon, my daughter and I with the car only having room for us and no one else, drove to Folkestone from Glasgow after I finished work,  to catch the 01:30am Eurostar train. We arrived around 03:00 am (they are 1hr ahead), booked into our hotel and slept for 5hrs before getting up for breakfast. The hotel was only 5 mins away which was intended as I knew that after 7.5hrs of driving, any more on top of that would have been too much.

I was nervous about driving on the other side of the road only because things like the steering wheel not being on the other side, can be quite confusing and lets face it, when you’re tired , its these little things that can really make a difference!

When we were driving from the Eurostar terminal to our hotel, we were already faced with the reality of the situation.. We could see groups of men walking towards the tunnel with hopes and fears moving them on from where they had come from which for some was as much as a 2 hr walk from their camp. It was cold and I can’t begin to imagine how things will be when the temperature drops even more. My daughter couldn’t understand why people in life have to face these issues and she wants to tell the government that no one is the boss of anyone and everyone should live a happy life no matter what. I wish we could all take the view of 8yr olds.

When we went down for breakfast, we realised that our hotel was the “hub” for police who were called in to police the area, and acted as their accommodation. I think apart from 2/3 other people, we were the only civilians who were staying there. I have to say that I felt a bit uncomfortable and that we needed to keep our reason for being in Calais, a secret. I’m sure this was just a silly thought and I was just intimidated by the whole experience.

We set off to find the “jungle” and a woman that I had made contact with but unfortunately we were unable to make contact and M and I were on our own. We drove about for quite some time and we encountered more people walking as well as other police who were in fields with guns and dogs, making sure that folk weren’t making it through the various fences. I think they were pretty crazy about their barbed wire and putting it up anywhere and everywhere, it was ridiculous.

After driving around for quite some time, we asked a policeman if he would direct us, explaining that we would be going back to the tunnel  terminal , returning to the UK ,and he point blank refused to do so. He said that it wasn’t a place for children and I asked him why he thought this as there were many children in the camp/jungle and he couldn’t answer. I told him that we had made this trip with good intentions and he then gave us some information. Off we set and realised after an hour of trying, that he didn’t give us correct info at all. I don’t think it was entirely out of badness although I was angry after our efforts to come down. On our drive we saw and spoke to three men who were carrying sleeping bags , walking towards a field close to the tracks. We won’t ever know their fate and due to language barrier, have no idea if they were coming from the camp but suspect so.

It was nearing our time to go home and we still had a van full of donations, we were both tired and my daughter was starting to feel sick, had a temp and I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to talk to these people in the camps to let them know that we welcome them and what they have been through , it is not right , the conditions that they are living in and what they have had to escape from.. I’m just a woman with a child who if she could take all of them back to Britain – would. naïve, yes. I don’t understand all of the politics behind this that is going on but my daughter and I just wanted to do something to help. No we can’t save the world but we can contribute towards changing conditions and helping them , these incredibly strong individuals.

Deflated, we went back to the tunnel..both silent with our thoughts. The thoughts that I had were about how the media is completely wrong in their reporting of the situation. Imagine, one day you were sitting in your house or school and you were going about your daily life. All of a sudden, your life is at risk and you need to leave, now. You have to gather what little possessions you can which might be your phone in order to keep in touch with family who are also fleeing and the clothes on your back. You might be pregnant or have kids with you. you have to go. They are living lives that we are currently leading. comfortable lives. They have to leave or be killed. That is the reality.

I made contact with a few people via twitter and we managed to secure a place to drop the items off in Preston. The organisation will be going this weekend and I am so glad that they will be reaching the people who need them, to provide comfort and warmth and to know that people care…

I know a few people think that we should have just donated via an organisation here and reading this, you may think the same but that trip sparked a lot of ideas and I have a budding 8yr old activist of a daughter! It won’t be our last trip, not at all. We will be linking up and helping out as much as we can.

As an aside.. we could have easily smuggled 2 people into our car… it would have been difficult to have turned people away..

 

Calais Trip

I don’t know a lot about politics, never had and dropped out of uni as it was one of the courses that was part of a degree that I knew I would never pass. I vote, and I try to educate myself about local politics despute being able to vote in Canada, UK, and France.

However, with what I am proposing to do, I don’t need to know all of the ins and outs as they may come at a later date. I just need to know how to get to Calais and what to bring for these people who need our help. The only thing that is getting me there and hopefully with some lovely friends, is compassion. The want to help , the need to help because no one should have to go through what these people are currently experiencing right now. We are all human, we have emotion and we should all have acess to food, water,shelter and love.

So what I propose to do is to gather up what I can whether it be money or items of clothing and things that can be used for shelter and take it down. I know that Calaid is asking people not to come right now. My though is to go next month because I can plan, gather and look into how to implement the plan of action. I wasn’t completely comfortable with handling money but if i do it via “just Giving”, it means that it all goes through the proper channels and I dont need to have anything to do with it physically.

I will be asking for items for donating and if you wish to contact me, please do so by email or text. My telephone number is 07834485868 and email address is angelinebrunel@hotmail.com

Please feel free to share, come along or donate.

Pallets and Pinterest:Creating for the creatively challenged

Ok, so its no secret amongst my friends and family that I am a pinterest fail despite trying hard and pinning so much that I think my head will explode and burst. I love the idea of trying to create these projects and often when I think i’ve nailed it, I just get a look of sympathy , a shake of the head or just someone laughing out loud at what I have “achieved”…

Until recently… until the day that I discovered what one can do with Pallets.. cue song, ” I love pallets , any kind of pallets , as long as their wooden .. my mind and hands are a groovin’! ” Ok, I’m taking this maybe a wee bit too far but I am so impressed with my first pallet project and subsequent ones that it has led to new ideas a new hobby and even my husband bringing home gifts such as a power drill, new claw hammer and some nails. What more could a girl want?

This is a picture of what I made a few weeks back but due to the recent weather, I haven’t had a chance to paint it- it will be white and I think I might change the cushions to blue if I can find any suitable ones.. I think I might try Ikea and I want to add tables and possibly a footrest before I ccomplete and I need to close the gaps at the front.

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I haven’t got a lot of time to do much before we leave for Canada next month but a bar and pergola would be ideal to complete this summer project.

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Maybe next year we can think about building a deck but as the garden is so uneven, it will take a bit of time to complete and my husband will need to help me. In building this I have gained a lot of confidence adn I would love to do a wood working course in the future as I enjoy working with my hands to create adn my kids also love helping out.

Have you built anything out of old pallets?

 

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