60 Years Earthside

Today is my birthday. It is also the anniversary of my primal wound.

For some, the day they were born is celebrated by “It’s a Girl” cards and balloons, champagne bottles are cracked open, the baby’s head is wetted by father’s down the pub. Mum is showered with love, presents for the baby, rattles, dresses, you know the sort of thing. People rally round and leave pot dinners on the hob for Mum to eat when she has time.

And then there is us, the others, the adoptees. Our birth is heralded by a flurry of activity in the social services department, doing paperwork to get signed off, making decisions about our future, that will affect us our whole lives. This activity is shrouded in shame. These babies have a wound inflicted on them, a wound so deep that for years they are totally unaware that it is there. Each experience in life is a reflection of that wound, but, unaware of it’s existence, they are seen as weird, not fitting in, out of place, ungrateful, distant, loners. They hear other children’s families discuss with their children telling them that they have the Redger’s nose, or the Maskell chin. That conversation is not in your memory bank, because who know’s who you take after? You have no idea who’s nose or chin you have, or who you resemble the most. Do you look like your mother or your father, or a combination of both?

The adoptee grows up not knowing who they really are. Trying to fit in with a family that does not have a hole that is shaped for them to fit into. Instead they have to become shape-shifters. A family has been assigned to them, by an outside source. In the UK that was generally social services or the church. As I read more around the subject of adoption I have come to realise that there is a whole industry out there that is in the business of adoption. It doesn’t make easy reading.

But back to today and my birthday and attempting to celebrate 60 years Earthside.

Having a birthday on 5th January, so close to Christmas and New Year celebrations, I rarely felt like doing much and during my early adulthood, nobody had any money left to do anything anyway, as payday was still a long way off. Perfect excuse as an adoptee not to celebrate, or to keep it small. I have in recent years tried to rectify that and make more of an occassion of the day, in an effort to please my daughter and husband, who I have to admit, have seen some pretty awful behaviour from me on January 5th over the years. Maybe I’ll ask them to do a post on it themselves, shall I? “The adoptee’s daughter’s advice to children of adoptee’s. What not to do or say on your parent’s birthday.”

One January 5th I was in the Caribbean, on a quiet corner of the ship on my birthday. Think that was 2015.

2017 I was in Jamaica for the day, on another cruise, this one with my daughter, on our way to NYC for her 21st. In Jamaica we zip-wired across the forest and went down a river in a rubber tyre. I learnt that in Jamaica they don’t have problems, just situations.

2018 I was in Aviemore, Highlands of Scotland.

2019 I was in Prague.

A few photos of recent 5th Januarys.

So I have learnt to celebrate my birthday, maybe not look forward to it as such, but allow myself to be part of the day and make happy memories for those around me, which is always a select few people who love me, generally just my husband. For my 60th I had planned on being in the South China Sea, on a sun lounger in a quiet space on the Diamond Princess, having enjoyed a cruise around the South China Sea, visiting places such as Vietnam, Hong Kong and the Philippines, amongst the places we would have stopped in port and explored.

Instead I am curled up on my sofa, in my PJs allowing myself to feel loved for once.

Today is not a day for situations, but a day for celebrating with Joy.

Thank you for bearing with me. If you would like to read more, then please follw this blog and follow my progress as I come to terms and heal from my wound.


Many of my friends are asking loads of questions, like “How long does it take?” “What’s the temperature on Kilimanjaro?”, so as training has come to an end, I thought I would take the opportunity to answer some of the questions being asked.

So we are taking the Lemosho route, which is on the west side. We “enter” the mountain through the Londorosi Gate, which is where I am expecting the excitement to really kick in, as we see the machine that is going to be supporting us, at work. By that, I mean the infrastructure of porters and guides, who work tirelessly, so we can reach our goal. What we have trained for years for, they do every week of the year, carrying our gear, so that we can achieve the dream. The Londorosi gate is at 2,250 metres according to our itinerary pack from 360 expeditions. We can expect the temperature to be around 17 degrees C.

Day 1: Our starting point is the Morum Picnic Site. We don’t expect to be seeing too many other people, as this is still a quieter route than others. The walk starts through lush rain forest, so waterproofs may be on, from day one. We have an ascent of just 100 metres on Day 1, plenty of opportunity to acclimatise and get used to being at over 2500 metres. A short walk between 1-2 hours. We do get the chance to do a walk high, sleep low walk as well.

Day 2: Another gentle introduction to the mountain with an ascent of 400 metres, over half a day.  Once out of the rain forest we are into moorland. The views are apparently spectacular. I am going to be so glad that I have a solar panel to charge my batteries for the camera, as I am expecting to be taking thousands of pictures over the seven days.

Day 3: We break the 4,000 level. We enter the low alpine desert section, which is supposedly surreal. Where we end up at the end of today’s walk will depend largely on the strength and health of the group. This is the second longest day of the trek, the longest by far, being the summit day. At 4,000 we can expect temperatures around 5 degrees C.

Day 4: Conquering the Great Barranco Wall, reported to be one of the great moments of the trek. It involves some scrambling. Here is where the ascents of goatfell will hopefully be good preparation. We then have a series of valleys before reaching camp. 4-5 hours today.

Scrambling Practice

Practice for the Barranco Wall

Day 5: A quiet day, preserving our energy for the BIG PUSH that is known as Summit Day! Only 3-4 hours walking today, and an early night! Hopefully time to take pictures of the beautiful starry night.

Day 6: The big one, this is what is has all been about. We set out at midnight, head torches on, and the light of a full moon (on the 14th) to go “pole, pole” up to the summit. First we reach the summit of Kibo, one of the three volcanoes which go to make up Mount Kilimanjaro. It is here we see the sunrise. Then it’s the final push to Uhuru point and the Roof of Africa! All 5895 metres up!  Today we will be walking somewhere between 12-14 hours, with an ascent of a Munro, but descending two Munros, with a drop of over 2000 metres.

It all sounds so easy, sitting in my lounge, typing this. I am excited and full of trepidation too. I hope that I have done enough to succeed in reaching the summit. My bags are ready to be packed. I am waiting for my hand warmers to arrive, and another batch of nappy liners, to make my own wet-wipes.Come back in the next day or so when I will share my method for making them and my own protein bar.




Last Double Digit Day!

How did this creep up? Today is the 10 day countdown, until we set off for Kilimanjaro. Training is more or less behind us, now it is shopping for those last minute items that I might only ever use on this trip.

Items such as:

Solar charger: Much as I may walk in the hills after this trek, I am unlikely to go out for long enough that my battery goes flat. But then again I might get a liking for this trekking lark and do more.

USB battery charger: See above!

4 seasons sleeping bag with liner: See above!

Can you spot an item which once I’m done with this trek will be confined to the bin, just incase someone uses it in the kitchen by accident?


It’s Getting Exciting Now!

Items I have bought for walking that I wear/use in Scotland:

Down jacket

Thermal underwear

Some of those might even be for 1 day or night. The one known as “Summit Day”. Items for this night and day include:

A balaclava,

Thick gloves,

Hand & Feet warmers.

Tomorrow we are into single digits. 9 days and countdown.

Exciting times ahead.

3 Different Walks, Same Summit

Goatfell: 874 metres

This is my third summit of Goatfell, and possibly my last, but then I said that about the first one. It is a challenge, and one that changes each time I do it: See I’m talking myself into doing it again, just to see the change.

A brief history on my Goatfell climbs. Despite what you may be thinking from the title, this was my fourth attempt at goatfell, my third success. The first time was a dismal failure. It was a dreich, miserable day, and about half an hour into the walk I developed cramp, any excuse not to continue in the rain. I turned back. After last weekends walk on the Luss Hills, in torrential downpour, including hail and howling winds, I look back on that initial walk and realise that it was a breeze, but hey ho. Last week I was given the title “Honorary Scot” for all the summer walks I have done in rain, hail and howling winds.

I was so disappointed not to have been succesful in reaching the summit, that I set off 2 weeks later, with a friend, and we reached the summit, where the views were not great. It started to drizzle just as we reached the top. I posted on facebook that I had done it, for a charity, and someone saw it, and challenged me to climb Kilimanjaro for another charity. Now I must tell you dear reader, that after finally reaching the summit of Goatfell, and successfully made it home to a warm bath, a hot dinner, cooked by the hubby, and a G&T, I slept like the proverbial baby……in my own bed!

Kilimanjaro is a full weeks adventure, camping on on the mountainside for 6 nights! Not my idea of fun. But after 6 months of not giving it a single thought, I thought “why not?” It was Christmas/New Year 2017/18 and everybody was setting New Years’ Resolutions, so I set myself one. To reach the summit of Kiliamanjaro in September 2019.

So my next two summits of Goatfell were training for this very feat. The weather was fair yesterday, although rain was forecast. The weather for the whole of August has been abysmal, rain, rain and more rain. August normally holds the promise of heather clad hillsides, but the weather had kept me off the hills where the heather is to be found, until yesterday.


As we approached the summit, the cloud that had been tiny wisps covering the peak, became thicker until at one point it was probably less than 20 metres visibilty.

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My companion on this ascent was Graham. Graham is 78 years old, and had a stroke 6 years ago. His doctor and family don’t like him walking on his own, and he doesn’t like to feel that he is holding people back, if he walks in a big group. So I offered to take him up some of the bigger walks and climbs that the mutual group does. That’s him in the picture, with his head down, advancing towards the bridge.

August on Goatfell

Heather clad hills of Goatfell

We made good time up, around 3 hours 15 minutes or so. I slowed us down going up, as my toe is still a nuisance. I have learnt how to manage it……I have to keep taking my boot off and doing a McTimoney wiggle on it. That seems to settle it down until the next time I lean on the outer edge of my right foot. My toes doesn’t seem to like that, and I need to reset the toe manually. Graham responded by developing a painful knee on the way down. What a pair we are. Graham hobbled back from the bottom of Goatfell, all the way back to the ferry terminal. We missed the ferry by about 30 seconds, so we retreated to the nearest cafe for a coffee and a snooze. Well we had been up since 5 am in my instance, and 4 am in Graham’s.

There are 2 weeks left! A month ago I was asking myself what I had signed up for? Was I mad? Could I really do it? Now it’s just a fortnight away, and I want it to be here. 10 days of work, a few days for the chance of getting a walk or two in. A fortnight to get the last minute bits and pieces like gloves and sunglasses, oh and a fortnight to perfect the energy bar recipe.

Come back soon for Visa’s Dollars and Packing!




Dreicher and Dreicher

Beinn Dubh 725 metres                                          7.25 miles                    4 1/2 hours

August has been a terrible month for poor weather, and I haven’t been out on the hills since my last trip to Luss 3 weekends ago. Yesterday, 4 of us headed for the hills around Luss, and I can only describe the rain as being of Biblical proportions, made all the more miserable by the howling winds that almost blew me over. I will be honest with you, if I had been on my own, I would have returned to the car by retracing my steps after half an hour, however I was with 2 guys who are part of the party who are going up Kilimanjaro, and 1 guy who has already done it.  Walking highlands website describes this walk with a delightful ascent up a grassy ridge rising from Luss with views over Loch Lomond and towards the Arrochar Alps. Photographs are few and far between on this walk.

Rising up from Luss

How Could I have Missed the Black Clouds?

Well I will be honest, for the first hundred metres or so, the views were beginning to look promising, but oh how short lived they were, because the rain started, quite heavy at first, and then it got heavier and heavier, and the wind started to blow, and then the wind picked up, and then it became so strong that I needed my walking poles to steady myself against the wind, and then it became even stronger that I had to lean into it, or else it would have blown me over. I discovered that my backpack had an incorporated whistle in the chest strap when it started to emit a high piercing call from itself.


Wind in the Jacket

As I write this I am flipping back and forth over to the Walking Highlands site, and the walk sounds delightful, with views of The Cobbler, Ben Lomond and the Arrochar Alps, as well as Doune Hill which I was up 3 weeks ago. I thought that was a miserable walk, but this one surpassed even that. At one point the wind was blowing my hood on my waterproof jacket across half of my face, obscuring the vision out of my left eye, and then my glasses got steamed up on the right. Did I say that I didn’t enjoy this walk? At one point I was thoroughly miserable and questioned myself severely as to what I thought I was doing, even starting to sob at one point. The only thing that kept me going was the thought that my step-daughter had ridden for 2 whole solid days with rain of Biblical proportions across the Mongolian steppe. My walk was going to be about 5 hours, her days were 14 hours long.


Holly, Soaked to the Skin

I wonder if her visiblity ever got as bad as 20 metres?

I think I will be safe in saying that it is highly unlikely that we will get weather conditions remotely like this up on Kilimanjaro. I truly hope not.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post more than I did researching the hills for it.

Blessings    Joy

This One’s for Sam

Altitude: 974 Metres                                                                             1st Munro

Out of 282 Munros, Ben Lomond is the 181st highest.

On Sun 13th May 2018, my husband and I set out from home to climb up Ben Lomond. We were almost at the base, when he received a phone call to say that his cousin’s daughter had taken her own life, that weekend. We continued on our journey, but neither of us felt like really doing much walking after that. We climbed about 100 metres up, and sat looking out over Loch Lomond, contemplating life, and what makes a 15 year old girl decide, that life is not worth living.

This week I set out again to reach the summit of Ben Lomond, my very first Munro bagged, and dedicate my walk to Sam.

It was a perfect day. So often in Scotland, the clouds comes down low, shrouding the awesome views, with an eerie mist. On Tuesday there was barely a cloud in the sky.

Ben Lomond is the most southerly of the Munros, and is found on the east side of Loch Lomond. Being the closest one to Glasgow, it competes with Ben Nevis as being the most visited. The easier route of the 2, climbs quite steeply from the start. From then on, it challenges very little for the experienced hill walker.  It took me 3 and a half hours to reach the summit at 974 metres.I took the yellow wrap I had brought with me, out of my backpack and placed it round my shoulders before having some pictures taken by 2 walkers who had reached the summit a few steps ahead of me. I told them the reason for the wrap, and found that tears were leaking out the corner of my eyes. Bless you Sam, wherever you are.DSC_0624

Along the way I met a couple from New Zealand who were walking with their 9 month old son, in a back-pack. We criss-crossed along the way, them going on ahead at times, only to stop to and tend to baby’s needs, and so I would overtake them again. We met up at the summit, after lunch, when they were ready to go begin their descent. I took a couple of pictures for them, as a family, and then asked them which way they were going. The Ptarmigan Ridge was the answer. Right-O! if they can do it with a baby strapped to their back, then I can do it with my 58 year old body!

The views were fantastic. I took nearly as long to get down as I did to get up, as the views were stunning, and I just soaked them up with my eyes, allowing the noisy walkers to overtake me, so I could enjoy them in peace.

Fly High Sam xx

Watching the Clouds Go By

Beinn Eich 703 metres and Doune Hill 734 metres, Luss Hills


I have to be honest, today’s walk was one of the most miserable experiences I have ever had on the hills. It was wet and dreich. When the weather forecast says there is a 80% chance of rain, then the chances are, it will rain. Today the rain was warm, which was an advantage, and there was no wind to speak of. It gave rise to an eerie, atmospheric feeling, the air charged with spookiness. To add to the tension, I was walking with an animal which is one-twelfth wolf.

As walk’s go, it is probably a good one, in nicer weather, the views would have been amazing, but when walking highlands tells you thee is a boggy section and a rough path, you should read that as a river, because that is what the path had become after all the rain. We stoppped trying to avoid the puddles, as basically there weren’t any, just a constant flow of water on the last stretch of the path. My husband’s comment when I got home “You boots are nice and clean!”

This walk was completed as part of my training for Kilimanjaro. WordPress has told me it is 42 days away! If you have enjoyed reading my posts, please consider sponsoring me. I am raising money for a local holiday home for children and families with a family member with a life threatening illness, called Whiteleys Retreat.

Star Wars Day Walk

Queensberry; Lowther Hills                                              697 metres

Earn Craig Hill                                                                      611 metres

9 miles

I pulled back the curtains this morning, and saw a blue blue sky, a hint of a glorious day for walking, but the grass had a hint of frost. It should have meant something to me, but it was lost on me, and so I set off with no head covering on my person, other than a hood on a jacket.

18 or so of us drove down to the most southerly of the Lowther Hills, Queensberry, in Dumfries and Galloway. On getting out of the car, I realised how grateful I was that I had packed as many layers as I had. At one point I had everything that I brought with me on, and wished that I had brought a hat, or even a buf, to keep my hair from blowing in my face.

It was almost 2 weeks since I was last out for a good long uphill walk, on Easter Monday. It was good to be out walking again, but I have to be honest, I do prefer to walk on my own. I am just being honest here. Most of the crowd were extremely supportive and encouraging, but just 2 people were so discouraging, I call them energy vampires.

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I tried to not let these 2 people, out of 17, spoil the walk for me. I like to think of them as “pearl people” or “diamond makers” Pearls are created by a tiny irritation getting into the shell, and diamonds are created under huge pressure.

I got to see inside my very first bothy today. They might not be the cleanest of places, but it was a relief just to get out of the wind today, and I am sure if the mist was closing in, then I would be grateful to see a Bothy where I could hole up and wait for the mist to lift.

Kilimanjaro is creeping ever closer. 4 days and 4 months, the team will be heading off to Tanzania. I hope you are enjoying reading my training posts. I am trekking up Kilimanjaro for a local charity, Whiteleys Retreat, which offers free holidays for the families of children who have a life threatening illness. The retreat is just 5 miles down the road from my home, and I have been involved since the beginning.

If you would like to donate to my fundraising, then please do so via this Just Giving page or click on the logo, to be taken to my page.
JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Thank you, Blessings Joy