Hi. I'm Rosie, I'm 20, I'm a law student at Kings College London, and my Granddad died of pancreatic cancer in November.
A shocking start, but its kind of the point of all this, because as you can imagine we just spent a very emotional first christmas without Granddad at the weekend. Christmas morning my parents bounded into my room at the crack of dawn like excited puppies shouting "He's been! Santa's been!" (yes these are normally the actions of young children, but im sure you'll come to learn that the Allison family are not like your average family) so a while later my brother and I obediently gathered round and opened our presents. Amongst the chocolate; and yes there was a lot of chocolate; clothes, games, and dvds a small book each slipped from shiny wrapping paper, mine was The Official Challenge Guide, by Brian Smailes, and Eddies was Taking Up The Challenge, by Steve Williams. For those who dont instantly recognise those infamous names, and I was certainly amongst you, these men are walkers/hikers/ramblers, lycra-wearing-mountain-climbing-loonies as they are known in the athleticly ungifted Allison household. These books in particular prescribe the method (in the madness) of the notorious 3 Peak Challenge. Anyone who knows anything about walking at this point may recognise the challenge as not exactly notorious, and more of a day of fun, however I've already given you a glimpse into the physical prowess of my family, so I hope you'll forgive the melodramatics. Brian and Steve (after studying their books I consider them close friends) describe the way to success in conquering Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon, a mountaineering epic covering 3 countries and 9,000 feet, in just 24 hours. In the time it had taken me to stuff down a bag of chocolate coins and identify the lumpy green thing on the cover of the book as a mountain (I've seen them in films, but never been up close and personal with 1) Dad had dissolved into tears and it was left to Mam to explain that Dad had thought it would be nice for us to complete this challenge in honour of Granddad; who was always telling us to get off our backsides and do something, and maybe get sponsored to do so, and give the money to cancer research. At this point there were tears all round and we all adamantly declared that we would complete this testement to granddad, and show cancer who's boss while we're at it. Then we cast the books aside and munched through a lot more chocolate, then Christmas dinner, then some more chocolate.
On Boxing Day we all went to Grandmas and ate more chocolate, along with the Allison family traditional Boxing Day battered turkey (we are from the north east, the battered mars bar that shocked the country was more of a standard than a novelty to us in Hartlepool) and the subject of our challenge arose again. Our friends Brian and Steve recommend 6 months training, walking 4 miles in an hour per day. Every day. For 6 months. No problem! We all declared, drunk on pigs in blankets and figgy pudding, when should we start? Tomorrow? Well I'm at the hairdressers tomorrow... The next day? Well I'm going for post-christmas-pre-new-year-drinks... and so the excuses kept cropping up, until we were in metaphorical mid-may before we could even think about thinking about training. No, we all agreed, we'll bite the bullet and have a little assessment day tomorrow, just to see where we stand, or in our case slouch, pie in hand, physically.
Luckily we live on the Castle Eden Walkway in County Durham, so with a quick route calculation from Dad, bright and early (by which i mean at 10.07am) we threw on hoodies and strode out, or in my case stomped; I had aquired some dashing orange wellies for outdoor fun, ready to make mincemeat of a tiny 4 mile walk and be home in time for elevenses. For approximately 6 minutes we had the jolly picturesque time I had expected, the dog lolloped gleefully along beside us wagging his tail, and for out parts too we were bright eyed and bushy tailed, laughing at Eddies Indiana Jones style hat he had on for the "expedition". Mam had early on (sly cow) labelled herself 'technical support' meaning her job on the day would be merely to drive us between mountains rather than climb them, so she strolled at a leisurely pace, morally supporting us from behind, and I suspect hanging around waiting for one of us to have a heart attack so that there'd be someone who could breathe enough to speak to the paramedics in the case of such an event, as we charged off...
"Are (wheeze) we (wheeze) nearly (wheeze) there (wheeze) yet?!" I wheezed
"It's only 10.14, we've barely started!" Eddie bellowed from out in front
Dad and I exchanged glances, but didnt really have enough breath to huff and puff any further complaints to each other. The easy route calculation appeared to have been cocked up slightly, as when we reached what we believed to be the 2 mile marker house, Dad managed to gasp out "right, the bridge where we get to turn round is only half a mile away now" too cold from being inadequately dressed, and too hot and sweaty from moving further than our usual route from the sofa to the fridge, we stuck our heads down and trudged on. On finally reaching the blessed bridge, we found ourselves 16 minutes behind Brian and Steves schedule. Mumbling things I'm glad poor Brian and Steve weren't present to hear panted about them, we turned around and stomped homewards. Apart from a minor incident where Eddie lost control of the dog and he leaped on a passing cyclist (smug git on his bike speeding along) and some slight corner cutting (filthy cheating) from Dad and Ed to "catch up" (read deliberatley undermine the lead I had built up) we arrived home without much else going wrong.
"Nice walk?" Mam asked sweetly, badly suppressing giggles at our dishevelled state as we staggered back throught the gate 40 minutes behind our expected finish time. No-one really had the energy to answer her, Eddie flopping down onto the sofa and Dad retiring straight to bed. My legs hurt already and I can bet now that following 6 months of this torture, when all three of us set off up Ben Nevis on the big day only 2 of us will complete the descent of Snowdon at the end, because I've already envisaged getting to the top of Scafell and pushing Eddie off. But (hopefully) come hell or high water, hangovers or hairdressers appointments, we'll do this, for ourselves as much as for Granddad.
p.s technological wizard that I now am with my blog, I'm hoping to set up one of those clever JustGiving text codes, or at least set up some sort of sponsorship form. So stay tuned if you'd like to sponsor us, or if you just want to laugh at out struggle with elimentary athletics. I'll try and update daily on our walks if I have the strength to type, although I admit today im just running on the adrenaline of it all
So thanks for checking us out, and stay tuned :)