However, this challenge is on a totally different level than any other I have done before.
It’s not particularly physically challenging, rather mentally challenging and reliant heavily on a sensitive touch. (A skill I am working on improving)
What is this challeng? I hear you ask….
It’s a puzzle, not as in I am teasing you all; but rather an actual puzzle. A jigsaw puzzle that is.
With my lack of sight, the actual picture on the puzzle is redundant. So, for this reason I have chosen one made up of butterflies, in varying colours and shades, to give a finished puzzle that is almost a rainbow.
I will be honest, it’s been hard work. There has been tears and just to get to this stage has taken many a late night.
It all started with finding the edge pieces. Then out came my magnifier; so that I could separate the pieces by their main colour, which is easier said then done as several of the pieces morph into the next colour.
The first tube is set to leave Heathrow Terminal 4 at 05:03 hours.
I’m not sure if it was nerves, adrenaline, or lack of sleep; but I was feeling odd. It was January, yet I wasn’t needing to wear a coat. I was in London, yet I didn’t have my faithful guide dog with me. Oh and i was about to attempt completing the iconic, London Tube Challenge.
I’m sure at this point you are asking yourself the simple question: “Why?”
And honestly at the unearthly dark hour on a January morning it is a question I asked myself continuously between waking and going down to the hotel lobby.
No backing out now; my sighted guide and Tube Challenge Guru Andi James was waiting for me. This challenge was all set on a series of ‘IF’s’.
All it took was a tube line to be closed or a signal failure and the whole thing could be off before we even got passed the first hurdle. Then there were the stations where how quickly we changed tubes would be important and then there was the matter of those ‘end of line’ tube stations that would require us to jog to enable us to make the next connection.
….. MANY many MANY hours LATER …..
After loosing my Oyster card on a tube somewhere towards Baker Street, several bus journeys and one rather eventful run that saw me go over the top of a concrete bollard, we had had Lady Luck with us.
Although at times it was tense, at times it was busy and at times it was frustrating.
….. WE FINISHED …..
And the hardest part of the day was ahead of us.
The walk from the final tube station to the hotel for the night.
It was probably less than 20 minutes, but it felt like I was wading through treacle. There was no rush and after 18 hours and 38 minutes my body was done! We finished the route with 268 stations completed. Because at 23.35 hours we had run out of time for the final little branch.
In addition to travelling on each of the London Underground’s Eleven lines, there had been numerous buses and a first for me of travelling on a London Tram.
2 stations short at the end; however I felt proud of what I had achieved. I also felt incredibly grateful to Andi as my guide. At points he completely re-routed us to work around time slips that had occurred.
He welcomed me into the secret society of Tube Challengers and it is out of respect for him that I have deliberately not included the route that we took.
And even though Guinness World Records had informed me just days before the challenge that it would not be able to counted as a challenge attempt, i am still buzzing to know that I did it.
Now……. What to do next?
Me shamelessly asking for donations for my Just Giving page, www.justgiving.com/fundraising/tinkobell270
With my faithful-guide dog Fizz by my side (and guide-gal Vicky before her) I am able to travel to and around London with ease, the London Underground network is vast and with audio announcements and fantastic friendly staff (TfL) along with the odd app or 3 I have found I can stay largely independent in a network that often confuses those without additional needs.
I was first made aware of ‘The Tube Challenge’ in September 2018. The challenge is to visit all 270 stations on the London Underground Tube network (not including dlr or overground) in the fastest time possible.
The current Guinness world record is held by Andi James, who completes the challenge in the fasted recorded time of 15 hours 45 minutes 38 seconds.
So when I asked if the challenge could be done with a disability, he took it onboard and now we are here.
On Friday 11th January 2019, along with Andi James as my sighted guide I will be aiming to complete The Tube Challenge.
Given the nature of the challenge, the endurance aspect and the travel, the public and the timings. This is one day of tube travel where I will not have my guide dog with me. Fizz will be enjoying the rest with her paws up, while I achieve my goal.
This in itself adds additional elements to completing the challenge with my cane and sighted guide.
We shall be starting early on the Friday morning, traveling through rush hour, navigating the tube network, swapping between lines that will see us travel above ground in addition to under it, traveling around some of the networks busiest station, heading through evening rush hour and the weekend get-away to achieve this. All parts of which will hold its own challenges.
The gauntlet has been laid down, the planning has begun. And now is where I ask for your support.
In addition to achieving this I wish to raise awareness of the freedom my guide dogs have given me. It is in memory of my first guide dog Vicky that I wish to do this. She sadly passed over the rainbow bridge on 2nd January 2018; having hung up her harness on 19th January 2015 when Fizz stepped into her paws.
And in raising awareness, I wish to raise money to name a guide dog puppy, a name that will mark the occasion. A few names have been put forward once they are agreed I shall update this page accordingly.
This year has been fairly quiet for my climbing. However I have not been doing nothing with my time. I have in fact been in training.
Training for a different kind of challenge. This challenge is to run. Something I have not done since completing The GSR five years ago.
The reason I haven’t run for so long is that I discovered just after I started to notice my hearing loss that when running at the gym I suffered with motion sickness.
But I have (in secret) been completing my own variation of ‘couch to 5k’ I have even been taking off my Apple Watch as to not alert my friends who I share my activity with aware of my training.
My training has been on a set flat path at the far side of a local leisure centre parkland.
I have not quite manaeged a full 5k to date, but I have discovered that on a flat concrete path I do not suffer with the motion sickness I had suffered on each occasion (I tried several times at different times etc) of a treadmill run.
So, why am I letting you all know my secret?
Well, this Sunday I am attending a race. A flat course where I will have a guide runner and my children.
This Sunday we will undertake The Poppy Run.
This run is organised to raise money for The Royal British Legion.
Those who have followed me for some time will know how much I love the poppy. I love what it represents and I am forever grateful to those who have stood up protected our country.
So, along with my children, my guide dog Fizz (who isn’t running in harness, rather joining the other dogs who are welcome to join in the days events) and my friend and guide runner Vicky on Sunday 4th November at 11am we shall stand in silence for 2 minutes before setting off on the 5km course around Southampton Common.
I am doing this for other reasons.
4th November 2018 marks 10 years since I received the news that I would loose all sight and was registered severely sight impaired (blind)
This day is one I wish to celebrate and what better way could I do that then support a fantastic charity and face a personal challenge?
Well, maybe it’s because the girl in me enjoys a bit of bling and I can’t wait to complete the run to receive my poppy medal.
So, dear readers I ask for your support. As I am sure you are aware this year marks 100 years since the end of the First World War, a war where so many have their lives to enable us to keep our future.
As a family with multiple different surnames we have set up our just giving page as ‘Madhouse Family Poppy Run’ We would love to smash our £100 target.
Its hard to believe that Monday this week marked four years since I took on my first challenge….. The challenge to climb The Gherkin.
A challenge that took a twist when my CPiC and I decided rather than to climb the height between us, we would climb the height each.
For me, ‘The Gherkin’ was to prove (mostly to myself) that I could undertake that level of endurance. For Simon it was a slightly different challenge; for him it was about climbing blindfolded.
A challenge that together, we improved upon in May 2017 when we chose another iconic and interestingly nicknamed building of London’s skyline when we set about the challenge of scaling all 225m of ‘The Cheesegrater.
So….. 180m up a gherkin, 224m up a cheesegrater.
What number could possibly come next?
Can you keep a secret?
What if I told you the number involved was 270?
What would your thoughts be?
I can also tell you that the next challenge WON’T be a climb. However, it will very much involve LONDON.