Sunday, 6 December 2009

Waiting to go again.....

My poor old bike looks a bit like this at the moment, parked with nowhere to go, but hopefully the weather will pick up again and I can get back on the road.

I have been in contact with a few other Nazareth bike riders and have been encouraged that a little reunion in the early Springtime may be a good idea to remove any rusty bits from our bikes or ourselves!

Please pass on to me your comments with ideas and venues, although there are plenty good routes around the Perth area for an afternoons cycle and maybe picnic weather permitting, but If you have any other ideas they would be really welcome.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Candle Party number 2

I hosted another Candle Party on Tuesday night, a much smaller one than the launch of my fund raising earlier this year with just a few friends at home, but we managed to raise another £120 to go towards my new fund to take to The Nazareth Hospital next year when I visit.

As always lots and lots of thanks to all my friends who continue to support my fund raising, you really are great, have a Happy Christmas. X

Teddy played an important role in the party games....

Katka and Lucie enjoying the food as well as the candle presentation...

and of course the candles and gift ideas for Christmas.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

New Beginnings..........

Today is a special day, its Jonathan's Birthday and he is spending it in Edinburgh with parties galore by the sounds of things. He recently introduced me to Facebook, so I won't say any more on that as there are plenty pictures and messages on there for him to deal with for today.

I have had a few weeks to settle back into work and study and think about what my next challenge should be, but it has to involve The Nazareth Hospital as this is such a special place.

Here are some more pictures of our visit to the hospital, we were able to walk through all the various departments seeing where all the money is to be spent on projects and new equipment and training.

The psychotherapy unit that I am really interested in specialises in treating children who are victim to trauma through conflict and I am hopeful that I can work on gaining some knowledge of artistic expression through my counselling skills to use as a tool when I visit next year.

So firstly I am going to continue to raise awareness and money for the hospital and Tuesday December 1st kicks that off with another Candle Party, much smaller than the last, just a few friends at my home, but it will have a real Christmas theme and again all commission earned will be put towards taking with me when I go.

All my pictures and lots more that other bike ride members took will be on view, so there will be plenty to see.

My home is not very big, but I will try and squeeze as many people that come as possible in, food and refreshments and of course Christmas party games, so wear a little bit of glitter to get us all in a festive and giving spirit.

I will take lots more pics and share them later.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Challenge accomplished...

During the first few days, adjusting to the conditions and having a break

I have been back for a few days now, but have had a few technical problems with camera and photographs, but hopefully that will be resolved by the end of today and the pics can be added.

It was a tremendous adventure, but much harder than I expected and in all fairness everyone who was on the ride who had been on previous bike rides did say it was the toughest one yet and extremely hard for a beginner like me.

That said I only got on the bus twice in the whole week and reasons given shortly, but I really want to acknowledge firstly the true grit and determination of the team I was privileged to be a part of:

Jim and Jen
Anne Marie
Doc Tony
Theo and his many helpers from both sides of the Jordan/Israel Border

Safety was a top priority during the ride and our journey was aided through Jordan by the exceptional help and security of a police escort. Thankfully there were only small isolated incidents of over enthusiastic children in some of the villages we passed through and sometimes the traffic could be a bit chaotic, but the police were always on top of things and kept us safe the whole way through.
Our Police Escort taking a little break with us

Day 1

Early hours of November 1st Ernie and I left Perth and on to Edinburgh to connect to Heathrow and then on to Amman in Jordan and a coach transfer of 20 kms took us to the Mariam Hotel, Madaba where we met up properly with all our fellow cyclists for the week. We enjoyed and unwound over a relaxed dinner followed by a short service of praise and thanks, then off to bed to prepare for the cycling the next day. My room partner Kathleen was such an inspiration to me over the coming week, a very determined lady filled with kindness and encouragement flowing from her, so we have become firm friends and I am sure will share many more good times together.

Day 2 Approx 38kms

We cycled from Madaba to the Dead Sea, and what an introduction to cycling in Jordan, we dropped down a very steep decline with hair pin bends to the lowest point on Earth, this was coupled with an extremely brisk wind which constantly took sand into my face and on top of all that I had not started off with a bike that really suited me, so unfortunately my start of this challenge was not going too well and I wondered at this point if I would manage beyond this point. Several times I felt my bike lifted up and I was certain that I was going to end up over the edge, so I was pretty scared at this point. However once we arrived at our next stop The Dead Sea Spa Hotel I jumped onto another bike, shoved the other into the back of the van and things certainly started to improve the next day.

View from Hotel overlooking The Dead Sea

Day 3 Approx 68kms (plus optional 43kms)

This was an early start as there was a lot of kms to cover and the daylight hours are limited to about 5.30pm, so the pressure was on to get up and away as early as possible and we knew it was credited to be one of the toughest days of the trip in terms of steep inclines.

I found the first 68kms not too bad at all, the pace was quite fast, but it was reasonably flat and we were able to take the scenery in quite well, although it was a little damp weather wise and a little muddy as we peddled past the plantations and farm lands providing the main source of food for the region.

After a pleasant lunch stop we were all encouraged to tackle the optional further43kms, and after a few kms I was not the first on the bus, but it was a relentless uphill climb that was only achievable for those that had trained to the highest of levels.

It was quite an achievement for all those who did make it to the top, seven out of the 17 did and well done to all of them. We were following closely behind in the bus full of admiration for their tenacity and strength to complete the challenge, it was comparable to climbing Ben Nevis, hot at the bottom and icy cold at the top making it even more difficult for them.

We all arrived at the Olive Branch Hotel well after darkness had come down and were given a warm welcome of hot tea and a warm fire which was much needed by those that had not benefited from the comfort of the coach to the top.

Day 4 Approx 59kms

We had the morning off after the extremes of yesterday and were transferred by coach to Jerash which was a huge treat to visit the ancient Roman Ruins that are considered to be the largest and most well preserved outside of Italy. I loved it and could really imagine the people of those times in the theatres and arenas with the entertainment and chariots and horses racing around.

See what I mean, it is a wonderful experience to actually see all this history being unveiled through the excavation, it's like being transported back in time.

Then it was back to the hotel and onto the bikes again, we cycled on towards the ancient site of Pella and the part of Jordan where Elijah the Tishbite's home was. Lunch was brought up to the point we had stopped for lunch at, and I was really impressed at having such a great spread of food brought up to enjoy which made the hill we had climbed up really worthwhile as we picnicked and enjoyed the view and mosaic's that have been preserved there.

This was an unexpected surprise, our very own chef arrived with a fabulous spread of food to nourish us for the next stage of our cycle that day onto the Jordan/Israel Border......

....and we were really making the most of this, that's Jim far left looking very sheikh!

From here we cycled to the Jordan/Israel border and unfortunately because of the security surrounding border crossings, we were held up here for almost 4 hours, darkness began to come down and the dreaded mosquito took its revenge on me, I am still scratching today!

We still had a few kms to cycle to our Kibbutz Guest House, the police escort had to leave us at the border, so we had to cycle extremely carefully along a main road of busy traffic with the coach in front and the recovery van behind us to light the way. Thankfully we all arrived safely, just one more experience to add to the list, Theo our guide was excellent and made light of any problems we might be facing with great enthusiasm and encouragement, so I never felt that we were ever in any real danger.

Day 5 Approx 78km

Today was meant to include cycling through the rich plantations of banana and mangoes, but unfortunately some previous heavy rain had washed much of the road away and what remained may have caused the vehicles to become stuck in mud, so Theo had to make the decision that it was safer to cycle along the main road towards the Sea of Galilee. Not quite so scenic, but a fast pace kept us moving as we had a boat to catch around 4.00pm.

We all arrived safely at the Sea of Galilee and had a little time to shop for postcards and souvenirs before boarding the boat. The crossing did not take long, but timed perfectly to take some nice pictures during and as the sun was setting.

We disembarked at The Ginossar Hotel and spent a comfortable evening to prepare for the last leg of our cycle trip to Nazareth. Theo has chosen to wait till now to tell us it will not be an easy day ahead!

Israel helping keep our bikes in good working order

Day 6 Approx 65km

Theo was not kidding either half way through the morning stretch it started to climb, up and up with little sign of any improvement or downhill declines to make up for the effort of reaching the next point. I had already been troubled with a cough that had developed the day before and although Doc Tony had administered some medication to open up my lungs a bit, I was really struggling to breath and my legs had started to say enough was enough.

Despite the efforts of my fellow cyclists to keep me going, when I reached a stop point for refreshment and it was obvious that I could not even swallow the fluid through exhaustion, I was ordered onto the bus for some rest by good old Doc Tony.

I wasn't the only one on the bus, so I didn't feel too bad about it and we gathered a few more team members up along the way to the lunch stop as a wind came up to make the hills even more difficult. Well done to the fittest who made it all the way, I don't think I could ever manage enough training to be that fit.

After lunch a decision was made for some of us to stay on the bus for a few more kms and that we would be dropped 5kms from Nazareth with our bikes to enable us to all cycle in together.
It was still a steep climb, but strangely enough it seemed relatively easy as we climbed and wound our way up the slope to Nazareth.

As we entered Nazareth the traffic was mad and I have to say I really needed the confidence of the team surrounding me, at one point I jumped up onto the pavement with my bike as a bus almost squashed me to the kerb! That said it was good fun even if a little scary and we eventually started to descend through the narrow streets towards the Nazareth Hospital.

What a welcome, the local boy scouts brass band and the hospital staff and directors cheering us in with food and drinks to refresh us, it was quite overwhelming to receive such a welcome.

After refreshments and lots of photo calls, we went down to the Chapel and gave Praise and took Communion together. Jim had made a Special Cup which we all shared and was similar in design to the little jug he gave me, a very special keep sake from the trip which I will treasure forever.

We stayed in the St Gabriel Hotel and enjoyed a lovely dinner, but unfortunately I was still overly tired from the cycling and retired early to bed that night.

Day 7 - No cycling!

It was a great day, we were shown around the hospital and made so welcome. We had raised over £50,000 and we were shown where the money would be spent on new building projects, equipment and medical training.

I took a great interest in the psychotherapy unit, which is the only one of its kind in Israel and having spoken to the Director, it would appear that I will be able to return and gain some work experience next year. This will work out really well with the Christian Counselling Diploma I am presently working towards. God has kept His promises and is opening the doors for me to move on now.

The rest of the day was spent at our own leisure exploring Nazareth, so I took some time to shop around the markets and have a street lunch of Falafel, a Middle Eastern speciality served with a Pita like bread called Lafa and is similar to small burgers deep fried and often served with salad, quite tasty indeed.

We were warned not to eat too much during the day as we were to attend a celebration dinner with the hospital directors and staff, which turned out to be a feast of many more Middle Eastern dishes and kebabs, very good it was too.

Kathleen tucking into those Kebabs

We returned to the hotel to prepare for the journey home and had to leave at 2.00am, so not much sleep was had, and it was sad to leave what I found to be a wonderful place and I can't wait to go back.

I am presently communicating with the hospital and believe that I will return for the opportunity to gain some work experience next year and will therefore continue to collect vital funding for the hospital, so please if you would still like to help support me and the work of the Nazareth Hospital, don't be shy and let me know.

And finally a selection from the trip..........

Monday, 26 October 2009

Only 6 days to go....

Only 6 days to go and because I have not managed out most of last week due to a work training course and the days now getting a little shorter, I decided to tackle the Stanley, Dunkeld, Murthly and Caputh circular route starting from the Stanley car park as I did not have enough time to leave from my house due to more work commitments later in the afternoon.

I managed just under 40 kms with a few detours to take some pics and felt relatively confident that after I had returned to the car and had some water and a banana, that I could probably have done it again had time allowed. The itinerary for next week is approx 80 kms most days and I believe I replicated the expected heat conditions in Jordan by wearing an extremely bright but far too warm jacket for today's weather conditions!

The sun is lower now and makes visibility on the road not so good, so I thought it would be sensible to be seen in my bright orange jacket, but I think my face was probably glowing more than the jacket with the heat I built up.

The last 10 kms had an extra bonus as I stopped to take another picture, a much younger and fitter looking woman sped past me, so I used her to set a pace for me to follow. I managed to keep a regular distance behind her and considering she did not have the jacket and my weight, I believe I did quite well to keep her in my sight.

Many thanks to all the comments I have received while doing my journal and looking forward to meeting you Shane, see you on Sunday.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Huntingtower Castle

I quite like this run now as it takes me away from the city traffic and has a good mix of small hills and easy cycling to just have a good run and enjoy it.

I took the opportunity to keep engaging and disengaging my shoes to my new peddles, and I think I have now mastered the technique of flicking the heel in toward the frame to release and I have painted one side of each peddle a different colour to ensure easy recognition during cycling, as it was quite difficult to stop the peddle on the correct side when I wanted to lock onto it.

Anyway it was another lovely Autumn day and Huntingtower Castle was looking quite splendid in the late afternoon sun.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Falling off my bike again...

I'm out cycling almost every day now and travelling up and down between Stanley, Luncarty and through to Huntingtower and beyond. I make sure now that I do a minimum of 25 kms each outing and if possible twice a day now.

I have also been improving my bike and just added a nice new comfy seat which will be going to Israel with me, new silver and lilac cycling shoes and a set of peddles will also be travelling with me.

One of the original peddles cracked under the pressure of me pushing them up hill !! Now I have the lock on type to prevent my feet slipping, the only trouble is I have not quite acquired the knack of releasing myself quick enough and landed in a heap today out at Bridge of earn when cycling with Ernie, he was a bit upset at my mishap and I don't think impressed with the peddles, but I am determined to get used to them as they are certainly secure when going uphill.

I just have to make sure I release at least one side first when I am coming to a stop and not lean to the side that I am locked into, which is what I did earlier and there was no hope of regaining balance, so down I went.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Around Loch Earn

Today was a pretty good Autumn day weather wise, so I headed off to St. Fillans with my bike in the boot of the car and heading out the Crieff road, St. Fillans is approximately an hours drive from Perth.

After finding it relatively easy to park at this time of year at St. Fillans, I headed off to cycle around the South side of Loch Earn. It is quite lumpy and bumpy, but not too difficult despite being a single track road with passing places. It was not too busy today, but sometimes water enthusiasts and caravans can be plentiful during the Summer months and weekends, but today it was lovely and quiet.

The route right around the loch from St. Fillans, through Lochearnhead and back to my car was just under 27 kms and there was plenty of good places to stop and take in the views, I even saw some lovely red squirrels, but they would not stop long enough for a photograph, so I took one of my bike and the water instead.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Horse Tales....

It was a lovely Autumn day today, so after finishing work I found time to tackle that Rynd Road again, and I do believe that hill was a little easier today. I have not been out too much over the past few days as I had to have a little work on my back which was showing signs of playing up, but appears much better now after some deep muscle massage and a few back crunches delivered by Helen.

I had spent many years horse riding prior to owning my bicycle and have always had a tendency to need a little treatment from time to time, and as it happened I passed some beautiful horses on the Rynd Road today that took me back to my Endurance Riding Club Days.

I absolutely love horses, so I am hopeful of an opportunity to either visit some local horses or even have a little canter over the sand when in Israel, so will have to pack the jodpers just in case.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Fun, Food & Fashion........

Hopefully that is what everybody enjoyed on the evening - Fun, Food & Fashion in aid of The Nazareth Hospital.

Loads of thanks to Tracey who organised the fashion and models, Michael who organised the food, which was absolutely delicious, Linda who provided refreshments and expertise on the beauty side.

Lorna Davies who provided a wonderful flower display which I used as a guess the botanical names of the plants in the display quiz and take the display home (for a small donation of course) and also Carol Feeney who provided a large 3 wick scented candle which was offered as a prize for guessing the correct wieght of.

60 ladies turned up and helped me towards raising a further £450.00 towards the fund for the hospital, so well done to all who participated in the evening.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Stepping up a gear.....

Now that most of the arrangements are made for the Fashion Show, it's time to take a good look at my physical fitness because November is almost here and I think it is time to well and truly tackle my cycling and that means doing a few more hills than I have of late.

So today back to that Rynd road, the hill approaching Elcho Castle is pretty tough for me, so no more ambling along the river taking in the views every day, that hill is to be tackled every day I can manage to cycle now until it feels easier!

Today the weather was good late morning and I'm glad I went out then as now this afternoon it is pretty windy and overcast, not good conditions for tackling hills in.

Again I had my camera handy and took some seasonal photos of the harvesting and the largest horsechestnut tree I have seen for some time.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Finalising The Fashion Show

I have been busy finalising all the details for the Thursday October 1st Fashion Show.

Most tickets are now sold and should go a long way towards helping me reach my target of £2,500 fund commitment to EMMS.

Many thanks have to be given to all the people who are giving up their time to help me with this event, especially......

Tracey Miller - Phase Eight Manager
Dorothy Garvie
Loretta's Collections
Jacqui Browning - Hairstylist
Linda Sinclair - Beauty Practitioner
Lorna Davies - Florist
Carol Feeney - Partylite Candles
Tayside Christian Fellowship Members
Michael White - Willows Brasserie Manager

.....and not forgetting all my friends who have given up their time to gather their friends to come along on the night, without their support, I could never have managed to bring everything together successfully, so you all get a huge thank you too.

The evening begins at 7.00pm with

A Complimentary Refreshment

2 Course Dinner & Coffee

Fashion Show Presentations

Additional Fun Attractions

The Nazareth Hospital Stand with pictures and information and opportunities to donate towards helping this charity run hospital that plays such an important part towards meeting the region's health care needs. there is plenty going on to ensure a wonderful evening and I look forward to welcoming everyone on the 1st.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Late Summer Colours along the Tay

I managed to get up early and head off before most of the road traffic and dog walkers were about; not that I mind dog walkers, I am one myself and take out two at a time who also have no idea about not getting under the wheels of cyclists, so caution has to be exercised when cycling at walkies rush hour.

Here they are earlier this year clearly wandering into someone's space and getting a telling off!

Anyway it was quite quiet about 6.30 am and by 7.00 the morning sunshine was showing off the natural beauty and richness of the late Summer colours that are on display, so I had a lovely cycle and managed to take a few pics of some the best bits along the way.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Preparation for the Fashion Show...

Preparation for the Fashion Show is now well under way with posters being placed and letters sent out this weekend to alert as many people as possible who may be interested in having a fun evening of fashion and food on October 1st at Willows Brasserie.

Tickets are by reservation only in order to maintain smooth delivery of the food side, but there will be lots going on fashion wise to keep everyone busy until food is served, with plenty of incentives to come early.

The main fashion show will be an informal walk through allowing everyone a close up preview of all the seasons fashions.

There will be various tables of interest including a new all natural make up range, plus an accessories table with opportunities to make donations to the hospital fund.

There will of course be plenty information at the special Nazareth Hospital information table with great pictures supplied by EMMS International which will be on display with details and maps relating to the actual bike ride in November.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

The Road to Rynd

Today Jonathan and I headed out of Perth along the Harbour Road and out towards Rynd, passing Elcho Castle. The picture did not quite capture it as well as I thought it would, but it is there in the background if you look hard enough. (It helps to click on pic for a larger view)

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

We then headed across to Bridge of Earn, stopped for a bite to eat and then back up through Craigend into Perth and home.

It wasn't a great distance covered, approx 20 kms in total, but it was quite challenging with a steep climb at one point, but a great downhill run on the other side made up for the effort put in earlier.

The road was moderately busy with traffic and farm vehicles; it must be pea harvesting time, as the road between Rynd and Bridge of Earn was covered in them.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Return to the Glen.........

Today I went back to Little Glenshee; first cycled in May. This time I cycled from Stanley through Luncarty, past Battleby towards Logiealmond and then headed up towards the Hills. It was a fairly easy but steady climb most of the way, but I had the benefit of freewheeling almost all the way back returning by the same route and covering 33.6 kms in total.

I had a few incidents or accidents depending on which way you look at it. At one point I was obviously going too fast down hill on the narrow twisting glen road and the last thing I expected in the middle of nowhere was an articulated lorry taking up the whole road, so I must have lost almost all the tread on my tyres as I braked and mounted the banking to escape being squashed. The lorry proceded with caution on his journey with all lights flashing and alarms sounding to alert any more freewheeling cyclists taking advantage of the road that he was there.

By the time I came down off the glen road onto the main road it was still very much downhill, and as I approached a bend and then an upward sweep, my speed must have been too great for the gear change I made and I lost all my traction, and to be quite honest I'm not sure what happened next, but I was in a ditch with a dent in my left knee and masses of nettle stings.

Thankfully no traffic or any witnesses about to cause any major embarrassment, so I managed to quickly dust myself off and as no damage was done to my bike, I continued carefully on my way the rest of the way back home. I think I need to get a better understanding of the dynamics of cycling before tackling runs like that again.

Firstly a photograph taken at about 11.00 am this morning in Little Glenshee, followed by what I imagine the differences may well be in the Jordan Valley, I am used to seeing deer crossing signs in the Scottish Glens, but in Israel it is for camels crossing!

It's now a lovely evening, so tidied myself up and off again to Luncarty and back adding the extra I missed this morning and bringing my total for the day to a neat and tidy 53 kms.

The flies were bad tonight and reminded me that it is unwise to put the lip gloss on when out cycling! However an American on holiday chose to take an action picture of me cycling towards him through the park, so at least I was prepared for that.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Reflecting on This Mornings Cycle

There has been so much rain again, so I have been out and about cycling early in the morning in between the heavy showers and couldn't resist showing this picture I took because it was a truly beautiful morning around 7.00am

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Inspirational ideas required

I'm now half way through my time to raise funds and I have achieved about a third of the way to my commitment of the £2,500.

I believe the Fashion Show will generate quite a bit, but I need some more ideas, these little candles have been fun to make up and are a good way of getting some small donations, I call them my candle with a message.

Galatians 5:22 But the Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness