In The Wee Sma’ Hoors – by Sheila

I sometimes wake in the night and start thinking about that final night of ascent on Kilimanjaro (if we make it that far) when, starting before midnight, we wrap up in almost all the clothes in our kit and begin to walk slowly uphill in the darkness over uneven ground in, almost certainly, sub-zero temperatures and barely able to breathe, in the hope of making it to the summit by dawn.

Night on Kili
Night on Kili

Some people listen to music on earphones while walking, but that’s not for me: I need to be alive to any sounds around me during this once in a lifetime experience.  They say that guides and porters work hard to keep our spirits up, often singing along the way, which sounds great. There are several songs which are always sung, especially the Kilimanjaro Song.  However, I imagine most of the time we will be left alone with our own thoughts, and I know one thing I will think about during the wee sma’ hoors of Thursday 27th August and that is the support we have had.

I can’t believe the number of people who have taken the trouble to wish us well and I intend to try to remember every single one of you in the course of that night.

There are the fantastic guest bloggers, who have helped us keep the blog going every day since early February – coming up for 200 posts in total.  I have loved reading what friends and family have had to say, and also the feedback from so many people on the 3G site, on Facebook and on Twitter.  There are some particular guest blogs which I really love, particularly those which are funny and/or inspiring.

There are all the wonderful people who fell into line when called upon to do so by Gwen, and sang their bit in “Climb Every Mountain”.  I absolutely love watching and listening to the film you all made – it instantly puts a smile on my face no matter what, and probably will for the rest of my life, computer technology allowing.  I am amazed that no-one let the cat out of the bag – Jae, Oscar and I had no idea it was being made until the morning it appeared on the blog.  In retrospect, there were a few funny happenings around that time – people being in unexpected places – but there were no leaks, not even from Oscar’s little brothers who look so happy in the film.  How did they manage to keep it secret for what, I understand, was some weeks?  Many people have told me funny stories connected with making their little bit of the film, and of the complications they encountered, which enhance my enjoyment of it all the more.

Oscar's brothers, Ivor & Milo, who kept the secret
Oscar’s brothers, Ivor & Milo, who kept the secret

There are the many people we have encountered during the last six months, who have climbed Kili or other high mountains and have had advice and recommendations to make.  Some – just casual acquaintances – have gone out of their way to answer our questions and to benefit us from their experiences.   We have picked up all sorts of useful tips, and have been given time and opportunity to make informed decisions about kit, medication/injections, training, and a multitude of other issues.

There are our friends, family and colleagues who have taken an interest in what we are doing, and who have taken the trouble to read this endless blog and talk to us about our obsession when they meet us.  They will be quite entitled to heave a sigh of relief when it is all over and are allowed to talk to us about something else – but they have listened, discussed it with us and helped us on our way in the meantime.  My co-cooks at Catching Lives have arranged a goodbye lunch: don’t worry guys – I will be back again before too long, all going well!

And lastly, but not least, there are the dozens of people who have made donations to our charities.  I can’t believe that there are almost a hundred of you.  Many, I know, are on very tight budgets and must have made economies to be able to afford to make their gifts.  Others are people whom we have met only fleetingly, who have been good enough to think about us and to add their pounds into our total.  Several have their own pet charities, yet they have supported us, as well, above all possible expectation.  I feel humbled by the generosity of so many.

Our Virgin Money Giving page with almost 100 sponsors
Our Virgin Money Giving page with almost 100 sponsors

Thank you so much every one of you from the bottom of my heart.  I have learned and gained so much from you about all manner of things, and I will never forget that.

During the summit night, I will walk and think in turn about each and every one of you – hundreds of names and faces to try to remember as I go.  Many of you have promised to think about us too during that night, and several of you will be praying for us, despite our lack of belief, which isn’t something I ever thought could happen.  I feel truly blessed.  Thank you all.


A Reflection on Mountains – By Paula, Sheila’s friend

Today’s post is from Paula who volunteers at Catching Lives with Sheila. She first appeared on our blog in a post entitled, “Have You Heard The One About The Nun and The Atheist?“, and has kindly contributed some guest posts since. Here’s her latest:

A few nights ago I was thinking of Sheila’s impending mountain climb. It came to me that there are various stories of mountains in the Bible. I offered to do another blog so here it is – a reflection on mountains.

Moses encounters God on Mount Sinai
Moses encounters God on Mount Sinai

I guess we are all familiar with the story of Moses and his encounter with God on Mount Sinai. Exodus 20: 1-21   We associate it with the giving of the Ten Commandments, which – when all is said and done – is a simple charter for human living:

  • The charter begins with the honouring of our God. Often we try to cut down God to a manageable size instead of simply bowing to the mystery.
  • Keeping holy the Sabbath – a very practical commandment for taking time off. It’s even recommended that we give our work animals time off too!

And so it goes on – very practical and human – dealing with respect for parents and the elderly, loving other people, being content with what we have.

More than the message of Sinai, I love a quote from Jeremiah where he says,

“Deep within them I will plant my law, writing it on their hearts. There will be no further need for neighbour to try to teach neighbour or brother (or sister) to say: ‘Learn to know Yahweh’” Jeremiah 31:33-34

I am always moved by the fact that each one of us is so unique and beloved of God, and that His word or spark is written on each of our hearts, whether we know it or not.

Another mountain story I love is that of the Beatitudes Matthew 5: 1-12.  Again this is a great social charter pointing out our obligation to all God’s people. Here we are reminded that the poor are blessed.  It always reminds me of my African trip and how happy the people were with so little. The poor, the bereaved, the hungry, those who suffer injustice – all are called blessed.

My next mountain story is that of the transfiguration Luke 9: 28-36  This is the story of  Jesus’ encounter with his God. It speaks of transformation. His disciples were beside themselves and didn’t know what to make of it.  However they did want to stay in that sacred place for ever – only Jesus was having none of that – back down the mountain to get on with the ordinary business of living.  Hopefully they would remember this incident when their friend was crucified. They didn’t of course…….

Stained glass window of the Transfiguration
Stained glass window of the Transfiguration

It’s these moments in our lives when we are transformed, that we need to put in our memory boxes for when the times are difficult. We all have had them. We often witness this transformation in others: in the faces of delighted little children, in the faces of those we love, in the faces of the elderly, looking at a place of beauty or a sun set, just to mention a few. Often they are momentary – I guess our human psyche couldn’t cope with too much intense wonder.

My last mountain story is that of Jesus’s death on Calvary: John 19.  What can I say about this mountain of intense suffering?  Jesus died for being faithful to what he believed. For him it was a question of personal integrity – and that cost him his life. In some mysterious way His death became redemptive – not only for him, but for us all and the whole of creation. Not everyone would hold with this and I respect that.  However we have all met people of such integrity – and Sheila is one of them.

'Christ of St John of the Cross' by Salvador Dali, which hangs in Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow
‘Christ of St John of the Cross’ by Salvador Dali, which hangs in Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow

I shall think of Sheila as she climbs her mountain.  I believe she has climbed all these symbolic mountains throughout her life. She is a woman who lives from her heart – a woman of compassion and of wonder. Whatever life has thrown at her she has transformed into wisdom of heart.

In climbing this next mountain of life, remember you are surrounded and enfolded in love as you do so.

Note from Sheila: I am so proud to have Paula as my friend and respect her enormously. Despite the fact that we are not believers, she continues to care about Jae, Oscar and me, always asking about how our plans are going for our Kilimanjaro climb and telling me that she mentions us in her prayers.  She has never made me feel that my lack of belief is wrong, or that I am diminished by it, which is very different from so many experiences I have had in the past.  Thank you for your support and friendship, Paula.

Granny in Training – by Sheila

People regularly ask me about how my training is coming along.  At an early stage the people at Exodus Travels did hand me some pages about suggested training, including working out in the gym and climbing what mountains there are in this country.  However, their proposed training didn’t really fit in with my life – but I do seem to have evolved a programme of activities which fits round my social life admirably!  Many of my friends have rallied round to do active stuff with me, rather than sitting chatting, putting the world to rights – after all, it is possible to do that while on the move too!   I often wonder how I actually managed to fit in time to do a full time job as well – but I wasn’t a Granny-in-training-for-Kili then.

So here is what I did by way of Kili preparation on one day recently.

First off, I walked across Canterbury to my Pilates Class, which is great for building up strength and suppleness, as well as warding off the aches and pains which seem to come with age.  My friend (and occasional Guest blogger) Pat and I fell about laughing when we saw each other at the class: we were wearing identical T-shirts, both purchased at bargain price in Aldi.  I have actually bought a lot of my Kili kit in that great emporium – their wet weather and sports gear is good stuff and very well priced.

Sheila and Pat in their identical Aldi t-shirts outside pilates
Sheila and Pat in their identical Aldi t-shirts outside pilates

The last time that Pat and I wore identical T-shirts was literally half a lifetime ago, on a fun run through the centre of Canterbury.  Pat remembers that it was in 1981, when we were 34: we are both 68 now – and not wearing so badly, all considered.

Pat and Sheila on a fun run in 1981
Pat and Sheila on a fun run in 1981

I then headed off on foot towards Whitstable, and met my friend Anne, who accompanied me from her home in Blean on the Crab and Winkle Way towards Whitstable.  It is a lovely footpath well away from the traffic.  It is probably about seven or eight miles by that route from Canterbury to Whitstable, so we felt quite justified in heading into a pub for a “senior citizen’s” cheap lunch when we got there.

Anne and Sheila on the walk to Whitstable on the Crab and Winkle Way
Anne (who always looks elegant – and not like she’s thrown on a t-shirt out of the bargain bin!) and Sheila on the walk to Whitstable on the Crab and Winkle Way

I then said goodbye to Anne and jumped on the bus to Seasalter, where our caravan is.   There are two such buses each day – and I knew that Maureen, who cooks with me at Catching Lives, would be on that bus. Right enough, she was – planning to participate in the U3A swim arranged for that afternoon.  We had time for a cup of tea and a blether in the caravan before another four oldies joined us for a dip in the sea.  It was a gloriously warm day – just perfect for a swim.  However, as we entered the water, the two or three other people on the beach accosted us, asking us whether we knew about the jellyfish.  I had heard that there were some around this year – though I have never encountered one on our beach before.  The other people said they hadn’t swum for fear of getting stung, but we U3A stalwarts were all stripped and ready and were not about to be put off.  I did feel like I brushed against something a couple of times while swimming – it felt rather like a carrier bag full of water, but I suppose it was a jellyfish.  When we came out, we could clearly see one on the edge, and happily one of our number was able to confirm that it was not a stinger: we were all absolutely fine.  I have often seen Portuguese Men of War – enormous purply jellyfish – on the Scottish coast, but never down south.

A jellyfish on the beach
A jellyfish at the water’s edge

The U3A group repaired to my caravan for the usual post-swim cuppa – someone had brought some very classy biscuits along too.  I got out the jar which the group had decided to put some money into for the Kili charities each time, by way of payment for the cuppa.  They were amused to see the jar’s label, recently made by Katie: it is now called the Kiliman-JAR-o!  I took the time to count how much is in the jar – nearly £20!  A lovely bit of lolly bringing us that much closer to our fundraising aim.


After everyone had left, I joined my friend Caroline and her extended family at her caravan, which is close to mine, for an Indian take-away meal.  Caroline and I worked together nearly twenty years ago, before she moved out of the area.  It is lovely to have the opportunity to catch up with her occasionally, and we enjoyed sitting outside in the sun with a curry and a glass of wine.

Then it was on to my bike, which had been left at the caravan for Caroline’s use, for a ride back to Canterbury, as the sun gradually dropped in the sky.  A lovely summer’s evening at the end of a fairly energetic day.

Cycling home at the end of the day as the sun goes down
Cycling home at the end of the day as the sun goes down

So that was one hour of Pilates, a seven mile walk, half an hour’s swimming and a ten mile bike ride, encountering and chatting to about a dozen or so friends in the course of it.  Now that is my sort of training day!  Lets hope it stands me in good stead for Kili.

Pluto – by Leslie, Sheila’s sister

Nine green bottles
Nine green bottles

A long time ago, we learned the list of nine planets by heart. Thanks to a useful mnemonic: men very easily make jugs serve useful necessary purposes. Then nine years ago, the planetary system changed, just like in the song. One minute there were nine green bottles (you could say jugs) hanging on the wall then one green bottle (Pluto) did accidentally fall and now there were eight green bottles hanging on the wall. Henceforth we had to acknowledge just eight planets, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Pluto was demoted to the status of “dwarf planet”.

Planetary Map
Planetary Map

Well, you can’t help having sympathy with the underdog so it is wonderful to see how thanks to Nasa’s New Horizons space probe, Pluto has come back into the news. Fabulous pictures are coming back to us and tons and tons of new information about the snowy planet.  Even before New Horizons flew past, the Harvard-Smithsonian news blog commented, “A dwarf fruit tree is still a small fruit tree, and a dwarf hamster is still a small hamster.”  So let’s hope the dwarf planet is promoted once again to the premier league, albeit as a small planet.

It was only discovered in 1930. And it was given the name Pluto following the suggestion of an eleven year old girl, Venetia Burney, who lived in Oxford in the UK. On the New Horizons web site we can read the interview she gave in 2006.


Venetia, can you tell us a little bit about the circumstances that happened in 1930 that brought you to suggest the name of Pluto?

“Yes, I don’t quite know why I suggested it. I think it was on March the 14th, 1930 and I was having breakfast with my mother and my grandfather. And my grandfather read out at breakfast the great news and said he wondered what it would be called. And for some reason, I, after a short pause, said, “Why not call it Pluto?” I did know, I was fairly familiar with Greek and Roman legends from various children’s books that I had read, and of course I did know about the solar system and the names the other planets have. And so I suppose I just thought that this was a name that hadn’t been used. And there it was. The rest was entirely my grandfather’s work”.

New Horizons

The minute I read that I thought, three generations. Just like the 3G Kili Climb story!  Oscar was talking with his mother Jae when she said that teenagers could from this summer climb Kilimanjaro with Exodus. He suggested that they could climb together. And then Jae had a word with her mother, Sheila, asking if she would like to do it too. And that was the beginning of this amazing adventure.

And there is another parallel. The euphoria the scientists are feeling at the success of New Horizons’ Pluto fly past is similar to what we shall all feel when the 3G Kili Climb team can report back to base that they have made it to the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro. All the way up, Jae will take pictures, and after her recent instruction in Kenya, we know they will send back brilliant photos too. It will have been worth the wait for us lazy bystanders down below.

Note from Jae: I hope I won’t let you down with the photos Leslie – I won’t be carrying a heavy DSLR up the mountain but I’ll definitely try and get some good pics. Also – I saw this super post from one of my favourite Facebook pages this week (IFLS), and it felt appropriate here!

Pluto from IFLS


Get lost! – by Sheila

One thing is for sure – we will not get lost up Kilimanjaro!  I just Googled “Lost Kilimanjaro” and what came up were references to the snow cap gradually being eroded because of global warming, the guy who had lost his legs climbing the mountain and people having lost their luggage during the flight there.  I suppose the last of these is a bit of a worry.  We have been advised to take our warm clothes and walking boots on the plane and essential items as hand – not hold – luggage, in case our kit disappears into the ether.  At least we will be easily able to identify other lunatics heading for Kili when we get to Heathrow by their outfits, intended for sub-zero temperatures!

It is good to know, therefore, that there seems little possibility of us getting lost on Kilimanjaro.  A few people who climbed the mountain many years ago have told me sad tales of being misdirected on Kili – but nowadays the ratio of guides to climbers is such that getting lost would be nigh impossible.  Exodus Travels will provide us with one guide or assistant guide for every two climbers, which is lovely.  It means we can go at our own pace and not feel we are keeping others from going at theirs.

I have not been such a good guide to some of my friends recently!  My friend (and yesterday’s guest blogger) Mary visited us recently, and we recalled the time last year when I got us lost on a cycle ride between Seasalter and Faversham.  It was my fault for trying to take a short cut across a field instead of keeping to the well marked cycle path.  Mary, however, is one of these people who always finds something wonderful in every bad situation.  What she remembers is not my stupidity, but the fact that in a corner of the field she came face to face with a fox a few yards from her and they both stood stock still looking into each others eyes for a minute or so.  It is up there as one of her most exciting wild life moments!


More recently, I arranged to meet up with Irene, a friend I made when doing a teaching course in the early 1980s.  We had not seen each other for about thirty years, but she got in touch having read about 3GKiliClimb in our local paper, the Kentish Gazette.  She agreed to meet me for a country walk and pub lunch, so that we could catch up.  I think she envisaged that more of the chat would be in the pub than on the walk, but we got so engrossed in conversation that we got totally lost, and ended up walking for three hours.  Poor Irene!  She ended up having to squeeze down overgrown paths and climb over high gates.  She finally drew the line at walking through a field of horses: fortunately an alternative route got us speedily to the pub, before she collapsed!

Irene climbing over locked gate
Irene climbing over locked gate
Irene squeezing along an overgrown football
Irene squeezing along an overgrown footpath
Irene refusing to take the footpath through a field of horses
Irene refusing to take the footpath through a field of horses

Irene has just retired from being an extremely successful headteacher at a local school – I used to read about her in the local paper – and I was absolutely enthralled listening to how she had made a school in a very deprived area into an outstanding one.  Her most interesting innovation was in having piped classical music in every area of the school at all times.  It was possible for teachers to switch it off in the classrooms if appropriate – but the default position was good music in the background.  I can imagine that her school became a more peaceful and calming environment for many troubled children as a result of this, apart from the educational value.

I don’t think Irene holds a grudge against me for getting us so lost.  We were put right by two fishermen we met, who turned my map the correct way up, to help us find the pub, when we were miles off our course.  However, she did suggest that we didn’t meet again until September when KiliClimb will be over, and I will not be marching across the countryside quite so frenetically!

I am looking forward to meeting new people to talk to during the climb.  It is funny to think that by the time we get to (or fail to get to) the summit, we will probably have spent more time with some of these unknown people, than we have with many of our friends.  I can understand why many folk say that they have formed lasting bonds with other climbers, given how closely we will be living with them.  Just as well it will not be me holding the map, though, given recent experiences.

Bicycles, Berries & BASIC – by Mary Rennie

Today’s blog post comes from Mary Rennie. She’s the one in the beige velour tracksuit bottoms in the Blogging Jogging post. The Millers spent a lot of time with Mary and her family in the 1970s and 80s, and she has stayed firm friends with Sheila. Here are some of her memories of the early days…

Thankfully, the age at which one becomes “elderly” and settles for a quiet life seems to be an ever shifting phenomenon … these days, the papers are full of marathon running centagenarians and skydiving nonagenarians, not to mention friends who have decided to scale mountains when one had assumed that that their pursuits, while certainly never sedentary, were slightly less adventurous!  My own little sister (64), always the shy and timid one in our family, is in New Caledonia – half way through a round-the-world journey with her husband, in a small yacht.

When Sheila and I met at Toddler Club in St Dunstan’s Church Hall nearly 40 years ago, with our babies, Jae and Joe, there was no indication of such latent intrepidness.

Joe and Jae
Joe and Jae
Mary & Sheila in the early 70s, and their youngest children - Amy and Gwen at the same time
Mary & Sheila in the early 70s; and their youngest children – Amy and Gwen – at the same time

As young mums, life revolved round our families.  We both shared a passion for the outdoors (and thrift) so summer outings were often to the local PYO fruit farms.  The children would be given punnets and the instruction from Sheila “Eat as much as you like – they weigh the punnets, not the children!”  Jae, Joe, Gwen and Amy came home red and sticky with strawberry juice – poly tunnels were still to come, and strawberries were grown on the ground, with straw to protect the fruit.  We made jam, summer puddings and pavlova, and filled our freezers, (a fairly new phenomenon) with strawberries and raspberries.

Our expeditions were often on our bikes, acquired when Gwen and Amy were babies.  In the late 70s, children’s bike seats bore no resemblance to the range of hi-tec, safety conscious accoutrements on sale today.  Ours were potentially lethal folding bits of metal with a very thin plastic covered foam cushion for the child to sit on, but thankfully no-one came to any harm.

A bicycle baby seat from the 70s
A bicycle baby seat from the 70s

We shared the ups and downs of family life, pregnancies, baby sitting, house moves, DIY, learning to drive, the 3 day week and power cuts, and above all, friendship and support.  In our spare time, we went to yoga, then aerobics (a new import from the US!) – these days, we are evangelical about pilates …

Came the day, Sheila announced we had to start thinking ahead to going back to work.  Computers were beginning to loom large …  we enrolled on a BASIC  (Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) computer programming course at Canterbury Tech, rapidly becoming the most unpopular duo in the class (we were the only women, very keen to learn and did all the set tasks in double quick time.  This meant the tutor was unable to slope off to the canteen as much as he’d have liked to!).  I am sure this is why, a few years later when I’d moved to Wiltshire, I landed a job at Galileo, a start-up computerised reservation system for airline bookings – they must have been impressed by the reference to the BASIC course on my CV!

My family move to Wiltshire was a huge wrench, not least because it meant leaving behind such a good friend … however, I am happy to say that distance has been no impediment to our friendship continuing and I was at the caravan in Seasalter last weekend with Sheila – bike riding and fruit picking were high on the agenda!

The Art of Caring – by Sheila

Catching Lives is one of the charities for which 3GKiliClimb is fundraising – I have been a volunteer there for over a year.  Some of the things we provide are:

  • Food (Breakfast, Lunch, Food Parcels and referrals to the Canterbury Food Bank).
  • Laundry; 2 Washing Machines, 2 Condenser Tumble Dryers and we supply the detergent. Clients are responsible for doing their own laundry.
  • Toilets and Showers (We supply a variety of toiletries and clean towels)
  • Storage (Rough sleepers have access to a small area wherein they can store belongings that they can’t carry with them; or are particularly personally valuable)
  • Postal Address (essential for claiming benefits, looking for work, or registering with a GP).
  • Use of a Telephone
  • IT suite (Computers and internet access)
  • Mental Health Outreach Service
  • Advocacy and Advice Services which include specialist advice on:
    • Homelessness
    • Housing
    • Welfare Benefits
    • Income Tax
    • Domestic Abuse
  • Access to ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) lessons and literacy classes
  • A variety of structured activities (inc. Film Club, relaxation classes, gardening)
  • Signposting to all manner of agencies.

You can see that a really comprehensive service is provided – that is what 3G are raising money for – but there are extras too. Sometimes things, which you think may not really take off, do, and this year many of our clients have become very enthusiastic about art, design and sculpture.

Catching Lives artwork
Catching Lives artwork

For several months, whenever I was at the centre, there would be at least one table of people absolutely engrossed in creating items for an exhibition, which was mounted in Canterbury in the spring.  The aim of the show was to try to change the public’s perception of homeless people.

The exhibition was reported in our local paper as follows:

Art programme at Catching Lives, CanterburyCatching Lives clients Jimmy Wicks, Ed Bryan, Zeph Smith and Antonio Ramos with their artwork

Homeless people in Canterbury say a pioneering art project has helped turn their lives around.

It has been taking place at the charity Catching Lives, with some rough sleepers saying it has lifted them out of the depths of despair and pulled them from the brink of suicide.

The scheme, backed with a £15,000 EU social fund grant, has resulted in a variety of artworks, which will go on display around the city this month.

Twelve people have contributed to the exhibition, which is called City Ciphers and includes drawings, textiles, photography, music, sculpture, collage, creative writing and a unique 6ft map of Canterbury.

For homeless people like Zeph Smith, 40, getting involved has been a lifesaver.

He said: “I am a recovering alcoholic and have been at rock bottom – close to topping myself.

“But when I got into art, I started to find it really therapeutic and feel like I really have benefited.

“I’ve started to go to college and had some very positive feedback.” Jimmy Wicks, 61, says his life collapsed after losing his job in the security industry, leaving him in debt and eventually homeless.

He said: “I lost everything and ended up living in a tent. I was in Shropshire at the time, but was born in Canterbury and lived in the city until I was 18, so came back here.

“I’ve really enjoyed being involved in the art project and have really got into drawing. It’s got my motivation back on track and now I’m looking for a job.

“Without Catching Lives, I’m not sure I would have survived.”

Antonio Ramos, 31, fell on hard times after losing his job as a chef in London and had a nervous breakdown because of depression.

He said: “The art project really has given me a lift. I was even invited to give a talk to medical students at Kent and Canterbury Hospital about the therapeutic benefits of art for the homeless.

“That is something I would never have been able to do before because I was quite shy.”

Ed Bryan, 46, said: “I never thought I’d be made homeless and am a proud bloke and didn’t initially want any help. But Catching Lives has been incredible supportive and I’ve really enjoyed contributing to the musical side of the project, helping to record a CD.”

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District   –   by Gerry Warren

In addition, we had another artistic surprise one morning at the beginning of April, when we arrived to do our our usual Wednesday cooking.  Overnight a mural had appeared on the outside of the building – we really love it!

The Catching Lives building with the mural that appeared over night
The Catching Lives building with the mural that appeared over night

There were rumours that it was a Banksy and we were wondering if it needed special protection, when Catman, who lives in Whitstable, claimed responsibility for this great piece of urban art.  He calls it ‘Pigs Might Fly’ and subsequently donated his original design piece painted on a piece of marine plywood – on which he based his mural – to Catching Lives to be auctioned.  It raised a four figure sum, which was a fantastic amount for us to receive and also inspired several of our clients to attempt making large artworks along similar lines.

James, beside the mural, holding the original of Pigs Might Fly
James (Chairman of Trustees at CL), beside the mural, holding the original of Pigs Might Fly

So, as you see, life is full of surprises at Catching Lives: we never know whether we will be the beneficiaries of a crate of unwanted asparagus, a box of men’s underpants (they were very popular!) or a mural on our wall, thanks to the amazing generosity of so many people!

Note from Jae: I love that mural – if I’m in Canterbury for the weekend, and go out for a jog, I always find a route that takes me past it. I was just looking at Catman’s Facebook page and saw this fab picture of penguins jumping into the sea in Kent – just as you do Ma!

Catman's penguins
Catman’s penguins

Football Fever – by Jae

At the weekend the Hopkins Family went to the Bedgrove Dynamos Presentation Day at Aylesbury Town FC’s ground. It marks the end of the football season which tends to define our weekends for all but about six weekends of the year. The league season finished (for the boys and for the professionals!) over a month ago, but we then hit the “tournaments” for a month or so before we get to presentation day!

Milo & Ivor at Bedgrove Dynamos Presentation Day
Milo & Ivor at Bedgrove Dynamos Presentation Day
Milo throws a sponge at Papa on 'Soak the Coach'
Milo throws a sponge at Papa on ‘Soak the Coach’

For most of the year our weekends involve training on Saturday mornings, and matches on Sunday mornings (this year David has been coaching a kids team that none of our boys play in, so sometimes that’s been four matches in four different places). These activities are interspersed with watching football on the TV; playing football on the pitch beyond our garden gate; going to Aylesbury Town FC or MK Dons to watch live matches; and playing FIFA on the Play Station. Occasionally we push the boat out and go to the pub to watch an especially important match. And somehow we jam homework in amongst these things – often it manages to have a football theme!

The boys on the football pitch outside our back gate
The boys on the football pitch outside our back gate

I used to watch football with Da when I was a kid – both on the TV and at Priestfield Stadium (home of The Gills) which we could get the train to from Canterbury. Actually, I used to watch lots of sports with him – I think that when he realised number two was a girl two, he thought he’d teach number one about offside rules, lineouts, and the order to pot snooker balls in! Good preparation for a houseful of sporty lads in years to come.

The Hopkins boys keeping fit in the outdoor gym near our house
The Hopkins boys keeping fit in the outdoor gym near our house.

The truth is I don’t mind at all. I love that the boys are all so active; I see how they organise games with children of all ages out the back; how they resolve disagreements; see them understanding the power of teamwork; and I’m sure that regularly winning and losing at sport is a useful life lesson.

Football can have a positive effect in poorer nations too. It can serve as a tool to bring communities together, and a give people a sense of pride, as well as encouraging fitness – and opening up a conversation about health in general. One of the projects you are helping us fund with the 3GKiliClimb sponsorship is in Zambia. It is run through Baraka Community Partnership and supported by Exodus. You can read more about the project here. And if you’d like to read a first-hand description about the football being supported this article by my colleague Gina (of the Cornrow Five, who joined Ma and Da for the Refugee Tales walk) explains how even a football-o-phobe can be sucked into the celebration of the game when surrounded by proud, excited Zambians.

The football project in Zambia
The football project in Zambia

Being Untidy – by Sheila

I was interested to read about the 10 year old British boy, Sam Irving, who got to the top of the Kilimanjaro with his Mum, Ros, on 15th June this year. Brilliant achievement for such a young lad, and we were very grateful to get advice from Ros in yesterday’s guest post.  Apparently by the time their group reached the summit, everyone was feeling the altitude in one way or another! Some of the symptoms felt by the team included nausea, headaches, dizziness and shortness of breath as the air is very thin at altitude.  Sam trekked at the front of the group and although he was encouraged by the mountain guides, he took every step himself to get to the summit, despite being sick several times during that night-time final push for the top.

Sam Irving who summited Kili aged 10
Sam Irving who summited Kili aged 10

I mentioned to Jae that poor Sam – and it seems very many people – seem to spend time vomiting during summit night; not exactly the best experience!  She blithely replied that all three of us are very rarely “untidy”, as Mary Plain (2nd June) would rather more politely put it, so we would be fine!

However, it did make me start along another line of thought. All the experts advise that you should bring high calorie snacks and bars to give you the necessary energy to keep going through the night – and Sam and Ros followed that recommendation.  Now I wonder, what other sort of extreme physical activity does one do, while munching on a Mars bar?  You don’t see marathon runners or Tour de France cyclists stopping for a quick nosh, do you? You don’t shove down a quick Milky Way while you are pushing out a baby! Hydration, yes, in all these instances, but food – no!  It seems to me that if your body is flat out trying to do something really important like breathing or giving birth, it is going to give short shrift to what it thinks is inessential. Your body knows it won’t starve during these few hours – it is concentrating on something else more vital to existence. 

I understand that digestive woes during long distance races are so common that they even have their own (deceptively benign) name: “runner’s stomach.” Most experts say this happens because, during hard races and on long runs, your body focuses on getting your muscles the blood they need and your lungs the required oxygen, consequently sending less blood to your digestive system.   One of the solutions for runners seems to be the use of sports gels – a sweet high calorie jelly in a tube, which is easily absorbed to give you energy.  However, it seems these are not suitable for use up high mountains because the altitude makes them explode when opened.  No-one needs a mass of jelly stuff splashing in their face – and in any event, I guess they may well freeze too.  Apparently even things like peanuts in sealed packets can become hazardous at such heights.

Ideally, I suppose, sipping on some sort of high calorie easily digested drink would be the answer – but that seems to be impossible too!  During the first six days of the climb, we are recommended to carry a hydration pack in our day sacks – a sort of bladder full of liquid with a tube attached – to suck from as we walk.  But on that last night climbing up the mountain the tube is likely to become frozen.  I have taken the advice offered by John (blog post 8th July) to cut up an old wet suit and use it to lag the tube of my hydration pack, but John said that this does not always work, depending on how cold it is.  

Sheila's hydration bladder with homemade insulation
My hydration bladder with homemade insulation

So what happens during that night is that everyone stops for a couple of minutes every hour or so to answer calls of nature, swigs some water out of a large bottle, which hopefully will not be frozen, and to wolf down some food.  It would be a better solution if it was possible to nibble small amounts as one walked, but if you are wearing your undergloves and your overgloves and are holding walking poles – not to mention probably having much of your face covered by a balaclava, worn under your hat and hood – you are not in a position to put anything in your mouth.  

Talking of overgloves, Stew bought me a fab pair for my recent birthday.  They are real state of the art equipment.  There is a very soft piece of fabric on each thumb.  It took me a little while to work out what special purpose that has.  It is to wipe your nose with, as you go, as getting a hanky out is just as impossible as eating, with all that kit on.  Isn’t that delightful???!!!   Now I wonder if I could adapt my super gloves to cover them with some little pockets on the backs to put in some Werther’s Originals (which I love), so that I could just grab them off with my mouth, to give me energy as I walk?  That would be the answer to the vomiting problem, possibly – just something to keep slowly sucking on as one plods on.  I am working on it, and any suggestions would be most welcome!

State of the art birthday gloves with soft black bit for drippy nose!
State of the art birthday gloves with soft black bit for drippy nose!

What I Learnt Climbing Kili With My Son – a guest post by Ros Irving

Intro by Jae: What a treat it was recently to get an email from Ros Irving, who had heard the 3GKiliClimb story, and got in touch to say that she’s just climbed Kili with her 10 year old son, Sam. Ros offered to answer my questions so I sent back a slew of them! The brilliant response is below and Ros has given us permission to publish it as a guest post. She did say, “maybe you could tone down some of my comments about wee-ing!! Or make them a bit less blunt!” but at we know our wonderful, pragmatic, supportive audience and don’t think you’re in need of censorship. Before you read it, I’d just like to take a second to say thanks and a huge “CONGRATULATIONS” to both Ros, and to Sam – who is one of the youngest people to summit Kili. Over to you Ros:

Ros and Sam Irving on Kili
Ros and Sam Irving on Kili


–          We took Nalgene water bottles (not bladder packs) and it was brilliant to use one stuffed into a hiking sock as a hot water bottle overnight when it got cold (first night was colder than I expected overnight!) our lovely cooks happily filled it with hot water for us after supper and it was great to snuggle up to into a sleeping bag.

–        Stick all your clothes for tomorrow at the bottom of your sleeping bag the night before – it was after the first night when it was rather cold in the morning that I vowed to do that the next time (I am not much of a camper so all this came as new news to me!)

–         A bit gross… but here goes… take a spare/old water bottle for weeing into (this was Sam rather than me) that can sit in the “vestibule” of the tent overnight. Again we didn’t think this through beforehand, and on the first night camping Sam had to pee FOUR times overnight – because it was pitch black and freezing cold (and I felt I should go with him to be sure he could find his way back to the tent) it was freezing and disruptive! After that night he used an old tin with a lid that one of the cooks gave me, and slept better as a result.

–       Take lots of snacks – I made up sandwich bags each day for sam full of all the stuff I spend my life telling him NOT to eat normally. So we had Jelly babies, mini mars bars etc and loads of biscuits – he then had free rein to keep himself going. At all the water stops you want to quickly be able to have a snack even if not hungry – apparently eating LOADS helps with acclimatisation

–          I researched water purification tablets that DON’T taste of chlorine – and ended up giving them to most of the group as they were so good – they are called KATADYN and available on Amazon – they actually taste like normal water.

–         As I was worried that my son wouldn’t drink enough I bought loads of those new Robinsons squeezy cordials – to add to water- the ones that are highly concentrated and in packs about two inches square if you know what I mean.

–        Write your names very clearly on your water bottles ( I didn’t!) as if you are in a group- each morning the cooks take all the bottles, put them in a big basket and fill them up – and in our group lots of us had identical Nalgene bottles

–        For recharging small electronic devices I bought a “power chimp” (about £30 on Amazon) which takes 4 AA batteries and then simply connects to your cable for whatever device (via a USB port) it was great and I just threw a load of batteries in my duffel bag

–        We both took Diamox. There is no medically approved dosage for a minor so I had a chat with my doctor and gave Sam a half tablet in two doses either end of the day – (so a 125g dose) It is hard to say if it makes a difference. In our group of 17- about 6 people took Diamox and the rest didn’t. It gives you pins and needles in your fingers about 10 mins after taking it, for about 10 mins. I still had headaches and shortness of breath but didn’t feel nauseous at any point (lots of the team did – and threw up) Sam was generally okay (few small headaches) until summit night when he threw up at least four times on the way up. On reflection, I’d still take it again

–        I didn’t take Malaria tablets (but I made Sam do so) apart from in Moshi (before we started the climb) I didn’t see any mosquitos. Apparently there are very few at 1800 m or higher

–        I made Sam wear his skiing salopettes (with long johns underneath) for summit night – he was definitely not too hot in them, otherwise he wore ordinary walking trousers on the other days

–        I wore 3 base layers, 3 fleeces, a down gilet and a down coat plus a shell on summit night (and three pairs of trousers (skins/walking trousers and waterproofs) it was very cold- down to about minus 15. But I am reptilian in my feeling of coldness!

–        I left a bag of clean clothes/toiletries behind in the hotel for our return and it was lovely having some clean/new stuff to change into

–        Travel in walking trousers/hiking boots as our luggage came a day late (and only when we went back to Kilimanjaro airport to retrieve it!)

–        On the way back down we met quite a few children near the gate (Mweka gate I think) collecting firewood and Sam enjoyed giving them all his remaining snacks – the chocolate was great. If we had had any pens and pencils I am sure they would have gone down a treat

Sam leading the way
Sam leading the way


–        Books – despite being an avid reader I took two books up the mountain with me and they came down unread. Even though we were going to bed early we were sleeping (or trying to!) A pack of cards was about our intellectual limit!

–        Too many “changes” of clothes – even though we didn’t carry the duffel bags and so had enough space – it was just more to wade through in the mornings searching for things!  Once we were at day two we really just wore the same stuff but in greater or fewer layers. And when it was cold in the morning I had no desire to strip off and change!

–        My She–wee (again TMI – sorry!) on the route we just went behind boulders/trees and then used the long drops at camps. It is very worthwhile buying loads of those little packs of tissues and stuffing them in pockets – better and more accessible on the go than a whole loo roll!

–        Walking poles- personally I didn’t use them, but you can also hire them at the gate (Machame gate) when you set off – for about $20

–        I packed about 4 packs of baby wipes – and was planning to be clean. As per the point above, we ended up in the same clothes and so one pack would have been plenty!

Sam and Ros camping on Kili
Sam and Ros camping on Kili

Note from Jae: Thanks for all the brilliant advice Ros. It’s actually quite nice just to be told to expect to be filthy the whole time – at least I’m not going with any preconception that I might try to get clean each night. As someone who can’t usually get through 24 hours without washing my hair, let alone without showering, I have four weeks now to get my head around crustiness! I do remember lovely cousin Lou once telling me that the only way she could enjoy camping with her boys and Nigel, was to have a word with herself at the beginning telling herself that however dirty she felt she could be clean in an hour when she got home, so she wasn’t to worry about it!

“There was once an intrepid trio…” by Mary Wilson & Katie Vermont

Today’s post is a bit different! Mary Wilson – Sheila’s sister-in-law – has written some 3GKiliClimb limericks. And Katie Vermont (read this post if you don’t know how Katie came to join the Millers) has done some sketches to go with them. Don’t we have talented family? And it’s given us all a giggle. If you’re feeling creative why not send us your poems, drawings or anything else you fancy conjuring up ( Anything that reaches us before the end of August will go into a blog post (or two!) in September. No quality requirements – we’re big believers in effort being more valuable than ability!

There was once an intrepid trio
Who aimed to climb Kili con brio.
They got to the top,
But then couldn’t stop.
They’re on their way home- via Rio???

Onward to Rio
Onward to Rio???

There was once a grandma from Kent,
Off to Tanzania she went,
With a mountain to climb
Amidst dust and grime
And sleeping all three to a tent!

Katie imagines a 3GKiliClimb tent on Kili
Katie imagines a 3GKiliClimb tent on Kili

Grandma Sheila, Oscar and Jae
Decided to climb Kili one day.
They did lots of training
Through sunshine and raining.
“Good luck to you three!” we all say.

Thanks Mary and Katie! I wonder what else you’ll inspire…

Lost at Sea – by Sheila

Swimming is going well this year. We have had some gorgeously warm days, which have made Canterbury U3A‘s weekly swims at our caravan particularly pleasant (this post has a bit more info about U3A).  There is the initial chill when we go into the sea on a hot day, but it’s lovely once properly in.

We had a bit of an alarm the other day, however.  Peter – a regular swimmer – brought his wife Sue for the first time.  She seemed to be enjoying the water until suddenly, her ring fell off.  Peter carefully took stock of where she was, looking to land to establish where she was in relation to the steps and from side to side to note which of the breakwater posts she was in line with. As usual, we were swimming at high tide: half a dozen steps and we’re swimming.

After the swim we all repaired to the caravan for a cuppa as is our wont, sitting outside in the sunshine.  Once everyone else had gone home, Peter, Sue and I went back to the beach to see if the tide had retreated sufficiently to look for the ring. Peter said no – it would take another half hour – so he and Sue went off for a walk while I washed the cups in the one-person kitchen.

When we met up thirty minutes later, I thought we would be in for a long evening searching the beach.  However, we had been looking for about two minutes when Sue waded in and pulled out her very lovely ring!  She said she had had a certain feeling that she would find it, and she was right!

It’s not the first time something a bit like this has happened.  Three or four years ago, after swimming on the beach, Peter returned to his clothes lying on the pebbles and realised his car key was missing.  There were a couple of young lads mucking about on the sea wall nearby, and Peter was convinced that they had taken his key while he was in the water.  He decided he was going to keep an eye on his car in case they stole it: meanwhile two other people volunteered to go to Peter’s home to get the spare keys from Sue.

An hour passed and the young lads disappeared, so Peter went down on to the beach to look for the key, and found it where we had been swimming. He had unwittingly gone into the sea with the key in the pocket of his swimming shorts and it had fallen out.  The two young boys were blameless!

The most amazing bit of this story is that Peter then went to his VW car  with the electronic key, which had been submerged for well over an hour, and clicked the button to open the doors. The doors opened as usual and everything worked perfectly.

I haven’t lost anything on the beach yet – although we have found quite a few things.  Jae’s boys were particularly pleased when they found a pirate’s sword washed up on the tide line and I actually found some sunglasses while looking for Sue’s ring. We left the sunglasses on the sea wall on top of an abandoned sock, in case anyone returned for them.

I removed my engagement ring after my first swim this year, as I realised there was a risk of it coming off because I am so thin! Who knew you could lose weight on a finger?  After KiliClimb is over and the weight goes back on again, as it inevitably will, my ring can go back on again.

I will not be taking anything I need to worry about losing up Kilimanjaro: no watch, no phone, no camera, nor any form of electrical equipment. I sincerely hope that nobody else in our group loses anything precious while up the mountain, as one thing is absolutely certain. If I make it up that mountain, there will be absolutely no chance of me going back up again to help them look for it. This will be a once in a lifetime experience, as far as I am concerned!

Tips For The Top (a book by Sarah Williams) – by Sheila

Nudity seems to have almost become a leitmotiv in this blog, although that was never my intention – in fact it would normally be the last thing on one’s mind, when going off on a “holiday” intended for families with one’s daughter and teenage grandson.

The issue was first raised in the blog post of 24th of February – Naked on the Mountain – which dealt with hypothermia and the preferred treatment, which involves someone taking off all their clothes and getting into a sleeping bag with the naked sufferer.

Nakedness came up again on the 7th of May – A Change in Altitude – when it became evident that the only way to deal with fire ants is to strip off all of your kit.

And, of course, things have spiralled out of hand since Jean threw out her Calendar Girls challenge in the blog of 14th of May:  nude Grannies have been appearing with the flimsiest of excuses at regular and irregular intervals!

However, what seems to us a bit of fun, may not be so for people of other cultures.  That fact has been pulled into sharp focus by the reports of the earthquake last month on Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia, which killed eighteen people.  The local state deputy chief minister has blamed the quake on a group of travellers showing “disrespect to the sacred mountain”, by posing naked on the mountain.  While it seems to us unlikely that there can be any link between the alleged cause and effect, to do anything which might unnecessarily cause offence to local people, seems to me to be plainly foolish.

Kilimanjaro: Tips for the Top by Sarah Williams

The Tanzanians do not seem to be as concerned about nudity – but I don’t propose to check that out.  I have, however, recently read a book by Sarah Williams – “Kilmanjaro – Tips for the Top” which features just such a photograph taken during her climb of Kilimanjaro.  The guys just chose to line up for a photograph with Kili in the background and their breeks around their ankles, apparently for no good reason.  I can’t imagine anything like that is likely to happen in a group which includes teenagers and at least one granny, but who knows?

Naked men looking at Kilimanjaro

What did surprise me about the book is that there were fifteen in the group, but if my maths are right, only ten of them got to the top of Kilimanjaro – and everyone in their group was a youngster aged between 22 and 52.  The guys in the photo all look pretty fit, and Sarah, who was one of the ones who made it to the top – but certainly didn’t find it at all easy – was extremely fit.  She says that she writes a list of twenty goals every Christmas and mentions in passing that she had run the London Marathon five times before she turned thirty.  She also refers to the others in the group having done a substantial amount of training.  Reading that makes me wonder what chance do my sea-level-dwelling averagely-fit goal-less family have of making it?

The one consolation, I suppose, is that Exodus have chosen to send their first family group to climb Kili on a different route from the one taken in the book.  We will be taking the Lemosho route, which has the best chance of success as far as altitude preparation is concerned – but even so, it will not be a picnic!

Dealing with the cold was a major issue for Sarah, and will be for us too.  A good tip is to put your clothes into your sleeping bag to warm them up in advance.  I was surprised to read that she was advised to wear three or four layers of clothing on her bottom half on summit night and four or five on her top half, not to mention two pairs of gloves, two pairs of socks and two hats.  We will be going up dressed like Michelin men!  Just as well I went to the sales earlier in the year and bought us sets of reduced skiing base layers: I hadn’t realised then though that we would be wearing them all at once!  So one thing seems absolutely certain: we will all be very properly attired when and if we get to the top: we will not be stripping off all these layers of clothes for any reason at all on the summit – not even for charity – in temperatures which are likely to be well below zero!

Scaffolding, Seagulls and Support – by Sheila

Stew and I had an early wake up call at 5am recently.  I was sound asleep and dreaming that I could hear a baby crying somewhere in the distance.  The sound was coming closer as I woke up and it gradually morphed into miaowing.  I heard Stew say, “Alright I’ll let you out”, to the black cat standing beside our bed, as he got to his feet – a scenario which I am sure takes place in millions of homes each morning – save that we don’t have a cat!  Stew says the cat led the way downstairs and through the hall to the kitchen and stood back for him to open the back door, whereupon it politely made its exit.  We went over the whole house to try to work out how the cat had got in, and have come to the conclusion that its only way in must have been through the small window over the back door – by way of the scaffolding currently in place for our painter.

Window above back door - cat must have climbed through
Window above back door – cat must have climbed through

I have since sat quietly at the window watching, and see that the cat is quite adept at using the scaffolding, clearly enjoying this new dimension in space!  We are very pleased that the cat had enough sense to work its way through our house looking for someone to let it out, and didn’t decide to hide up a chimney or in a cupboard, as has happened to others we know.

Cat on scaffolding
Cat on scaffolding

We had another bit of excitement a couple of days earlier, when Marcus, our painter, came across a recently born baby bird in our guttering.  It had fallen from its nest, which has been cleverly made in a space where half a tile on our roof has slipped.  The bird looked very weak and Marcus and I agreed that it was probably doomed.  However, I saw him later in the day, and he said he had looked at the bird again later and it seemed to have perked up a bit.  He managed to get it balanced on the end of a clean paint brush and lifted it upwards into the eaves, from where it seems to have managed to hop back into its nest.  A happy result!

Baby bird like the one in our guttering
Baby bird like the one in our guttering

Paula, with whom I cook at Catching Lives, has also had baby bird stories to tell recently.  Seagulls are nesting on the roof of her house, and one of the sisters in their community has taken on the job of being guardian to the baby birds.  As regular blog readers will know, I am not a big seagull fan – but who could resist a baby seagull which had enough sense to go round the house to the front door to be let in again, when it fell from its nest?  It was of course carried carefully indoors and placed back in its nest again via the window.

Baby seagull awaiting return to its nest
Baby seagull awaiting return to its nest

It would be very satisfying if it was as simple to help human beings in crisis, as it has been in the case of these little creatures.  Unfortunately it rarely is.  Catching Lives exists specifically to try to give people that helping hand either back into the community they have fallen out of, or to try to help them get established in a new community.  Paula and I have been co-mentors for more than a year now, working with a couple of guys who have been rehoused, with the aim of helping them get re-established and to give them the confidence to take control of their own lives again.  We have taken real pleasure in seeing these guys gradually take up the reins of life, to look physically better and to see smiles on their faces on occasion.   Despite extensive efforts, neither of them have yet been able to find work, but one of them has done a substantial amount of voluntary work near his home, and has endeared himself to the locals in the process.  He has a purpose in life again.  The other guy, with our support, has been able to meet up with his young children and re-establish his relationship with them after a long absence.  I met him in the park recently walking proudly along, one small child’s hand held in each of his big ones – and all three of them looking as if they didn’t have a care in the world.  The nests of these guys are no longer looking quite so bare as they were a few months ago, thanks to Catching Lives.

Man holding chidren's hands in his
Man holding chidren’s hands in his

I am amazed to note that 3G Kiliclimb has now raised over £4000.  When we first discussed raising money for charity, we had no idea how much we could raise. We didn’t know whether to go for a few hundred – but hit on the idea of trying to raise £1 for every meter of height we would climb on Kilimanjaro.  It seemed very optimistic – but it now seems that we might indeed reach our target of £5,895 by the middle of August!  With the promise from our kind donor of matched funding, we are pretty much certain to be raising a five figure sum – half of which will go to Catching Lives.  That will potentially make such a big difference to the lives of many homeless people.  Thank you so much to the dozens of you who have contributed.  Some people have donated quite small sums, but I know that their donations represent quite a big proportion of their income.  To them particularly, I say a big thank you for their empathy and generosity.

You Gotta Have a Dream – by Leslie (Sheila’s sister)

A friend who used to live in Nairobi worked in an office at the top of a high rise building. From his window he could see the snow-topped peak of Mount Kilimanjaro and on stressful days he used to dream of going there and climbing it. He never had that good luck, but next month all being well, the 3GKiliClimb adventurers will go there and do that.

Kilimanjaro peak - it can be seen from more than 100 miles away
Kilimanjaro – the highest free-standing mountain in the world – its peak can be seen from more than 100 miles away

Even though he did not make it, the dream sustained him on many difficult days and I am quite sure the theme of today’s blog will resound with many readers. One of the many reasons I love the musical South Pacific is the song “Happy Talk” that Bloody Mary sings to the two lovers:

You gotta have a dream, if you don’t have a dream,
How you gonna have a dream come true?

Happy Talk - Bloody Mary
Happy Talk – Bloody Mary

On a more serious note, we remember Martin Luther King’s inspirational speech, “I have a dream” delivered on August 28th 1963, calling for an end to racism in the United States and Nelson Mandela describing “I dream of an Africa which is at peace with itself” in an interview he gave in 2000.

Both these men were driven to achieve amazing feats, driven by their hopes and ambitions for their country. But in a minor way, any one of us can set ourselves a personal goal that seems at the start almost impossible but can be achieved, with good luck, or hard work, or through the kindness of others or a combination of all three. I think it’s easier to do it without everyone watching but in this respect the 3G Kili Climb is already in the public eye before it even happens. This must increase the pressure but here is the consolation: thanks to the publicity generated by the blog, a huge amount has already been achieved through the three charities being helped by our donations. Thank you to everyone who has donated.