EVEN THE WILDLIFE IS CRUK BRANDED
Whilst we ate our hearty breakfast provided by Vincent and Brenda, we were watched by a stag who was branded in Cancer Research UK colours. A good start to a day ,which was about relaxing and getting final things sorted.
We were conscious that visibility on any of the mountains could be poor and so spent some time practicing our navigation skills in the bedroom (not a euphemism!). Psychologically, it made us feel better that we could deal effectively with bearings and using a compass. Hopefully this skill will not be required and we’ll get excellent views on all 3 mountains!
We then headed off to the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre, a mile up the road, to do a recce for tomorrow. Ben looked rather murky.
Walking back into Fort William we dodged a shower by heading into the Ben Nevis Highland Centre for a coffee. A place which really wasn’t welcoming. As we sat down we saw a sign next to the adjacent socket which stated ‘These sockets are for company use only’. Looking around the clientele they hardly looked the sort to bring in their MacBooks and study there for a couple of hours. If you ordered food you were given a wooden spoon with a number on it. In other cafes I’ve visited the staff use this to identify where to deliver your food to. Not here. When food was ready, one of the staff shouted the number out in a shrill sort of scream and you then responded to this by trotting over to the counter. Dreadful. I needed to use the ‘facilities’ and was pleased that they weren’t ‘for company use only’, although there was a clear handwritten sign advising ‘For customers only’. Inside, the following sign gave further instructions and as I sat down I noticed further signage telling me ‘DO NOT PUT TISSUE INTO SANITARY BIN. FLUSH DOWN THE TOILET’
Our plan for Monday, our first day of cycling, was to visit the Cancer Research UK Shop in Fort William at 9am. We’d had communication with CRUK managers who’d liaised with the shop and we knew Anne (assistant manager) would be there to greet us. However, whilst we were drinking coffee in the very uninspiring Ben Nevis Highland Centre we discussed the challenges we’d face on Monday and felt we needed to pedal away from Fort William before 9am, so that we’d encounter less traffic for the first hour or so on the busy A82 and get to Luss (80 miles away) an hour or so earlier. We certainly didn’t want to abandon our commitment to the shop and so decided to visit today to see if Anne was there.
We were delighted to find that she was, along with volunteers Heather (9 years service), Jean (22 years service) and Billy (>30 years service). All of them had their motivation to Beat Cancer Sooner and were committed to the cause. We realised we’d actually seen Billy being awarded with a CRUK Honorary Fellowship for his volunteer service at a Flame of Hope ceremony last year. It was great to hear that the shop had raised £2.9m since it opened and we loved some of their stories about the goods which had raised lots of money. We were particularly amused by story about a woman who asked could she see a duvet cover opened up before she decided to buy it. As the assistant opened it up, almost £900 of notes fluttered to the floor! Thanks Anne for showing us your facilities and making us feel very welcome 2 days before you were expecting us!
As we walked along the High St we came across a very well branded Kate, a violinist and her husband James. Kate’s off to Everest Base Camp in November to raise funds for CRUK. She’s already done Kilimanjaro and run marathons to raise over £30k for the charity. We exchanged stories and discussed the benefits, in addition to bringing in sponsorship, of doing these challenges. Kate and her husband had rather different attitudes to the subject of challenges and comfort zones. Kate’s description of her feelings reminded me of a couple of quotes which we’d been sent by Tanisha, one of our CRUK contacts ‘ A comfort zone is the most dangerous place anyone can stay in. It’s a place of no growth and no challenges’ and ‘Accept the challenges so you can feel the exhilaration of victory’. Kate wholeheartedly agreed, whilst James did not fully concur.
Preparations complete, bags packed, ready as we’ll ever be, one more sleep to the beginning of our adventure!
PATRICK’S TRIVIA – FORT WILLIAM
Fort William was the first town in Britain to light up its streets using hydroelectricty in 1896