Lindy Hop at the Top

Please read below the most amazing recount of one of our events of this year. Thank you Keith for all the support you have given us throughout this year. It has been one of our highlights of the year!

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Lindy hop at the top

2012 has been an amazing year. It will long be remembered by many for the London Olympics which brought us some incredible feats of endurance and performance by so many inspirational people.

The memories of the Olympics are fading but one clear memory of my year is my good fortune in meeting Cora Barnes and finding out about K.I.D.S Argentina, the charity which she runs with her friend Florencia Saluzzo. These two ladies, and their charity, where so inspiring that I offered my time and what energy I could muster, to walk up the highest mountain in Wales in a sponsored event to add to the fund.

A lot of my spare time is spent swing dancing and I was fortunate to be able to draw on the help of www.jiveswing.com in Hertfordshire and Essex. The support I received from this remarkably generous and enthusiastic bunch of people was humbling. They allowed me to use one of the regular social nights in Southend as a fund raising event. So Retro Sunday on July 8th was hijacked  and converted into a full on Charity night with raffle, dancing, competition, spot prizes and last but not least, a surprise singing performance by yours truly. As I’m not a seriously good singer I decided to do something a little more comedic, so a hastily re-written rendition of ‘ I’m the king of the swingers’ from the Jungle Book was rehearsed. The lyrics went something like…. ‘Im not the king of the swingers, cos I’ve got two left feet!… and so on and so on’ . Despite my nerves I think I carried it off OK. The evening in general was well received and along with the donations from the other JIveswing.com venues I was well on the way to raising 600Euros. To the ladies and Gentlemen of Hertfordshire and Essex, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. This left the little matter of Mount Snowdon which loomed tall in the North of Wales.

I first agreed to do the walk in mid May but soon found that I had somewhat over estimated my fitness level. Despite the dancing, I found my stamina was well under par. This manifested itself when I tried to join in the Jubilee celebrations by walking up a small hill in Shropshire to see one of the beacon lighting ceremonies. After my exhausting evening gasping for oxygen, with lungs ready to burst, I was seriously questioning my ability to complete the challenge. So the very next day I started a rigorous regime of diet and training. The next 4 weeks proved to be hard work but it is surprising what you can achieve when there is a goal to aim for.

By the time July 14th came around I was feeling quite pleased with myself and confident that providing we didn’t try to jog all the way up I could make it comfortably.  Cora had agreed to accompany me to the top and take part in a lindy ‘swing out’, it’s a dance move !!!.  My walk had by now adopted the title ‘Lindy hop at the top’ in honour of the dancing fraternity which had given me so much support. Cora was there for moral support (much needed and much used), secondly to do the ‘swing out’ and also to make sure I didn’t quit.

The day went something like this:

08:00 Rucksack packed – loads of water and fast carbs  (not taking any chances) – coincidentally the rucksack weighed exactly how much I had lost as part of my new health regime.

09:00 Meet up with Cora and head off to Wales

10:30 Arrive at the foot of Snowdon the mountain top covered in mist. This was to be a psychological bonus as it turned out.

At this point I should introduced you to Swizzle, our walking buddy, Swizzle is my English Springer spaniel who has the biggest appetite for exercise I have ever known in a dog, he also has an appetite for mountain grass .. More of which later.

10:40 Set off in good spirits. Lots of people around today.

10:45 First challenge of the day, resist the temptation to catch the train. Short tarmac walk to the café at the bottom of the mountain

10:55 Fill up flask at the café before setting off on the real path. We soon get into a steady rhythm. My training seems to be of some success.

11:45 Catch up with a group of young people from Manchester – they don’t like dogs so Swizzle is not so popular, we walk on by.

12:15 Sheep !!! what a surprise .. we are on a mountain in Wales. Swizzle wants to go and say hello, they run away, he thinks the ‘chase me’ game is good fun !. He loses and soon gives up and comes back looking for us. Funny thing though .. so many people and the wind is blowing away from him, he can’t find us for 5 minutes. That’ll teach him.

12:30 Halfway rest halt and a much welcomed lunch. Swizzle decides to skip lunch in favour of chewing chunks out of the mountain. I think he may have anger management issues.

13:00 We are off again. We get on to discussing what it must be like to do the three peaks in 24 Hrs and how some one doing that would probably be on the way up Snowdon by now (General rule is to do Snowdon last). Well what a coincidence, a lady pipes up and says “ it’s damned hard work “ or words to that effect anyway. There were three of them on the last leg and had until 4:30 to get to the top and back down. They were surprisingly energetic considering how long they had been walking, we did the honourable thing and let them go on ahead as their need was greater than ours.

13:15 The last section is very steep and there were a number of rest halts, Cora kindly stopped often enough that I didn’t have to be the one to ‘break’. The male ego is still over powering, even on top of a mountain, regardless of the age difference.

13:40 We finally reach a very misty mountain summit. This is the culmination of two months planning and training and to have raised money for such a good cause as KIDS Argentina in the process is an uplifting feeling.

14:00 Dancing at the top is not possible on health and safety grounds, so we set off back. The sun comes out though which was excellent timing. We find a reasonably flat area and film our swing out… Objective achieved, we continue down to the café for a, well earned, hot chocolate.

PS

As I write this I am hearing of a potential challenge for 2013. Someone is cycling from Dublin to Lourdes. Now that’s what I call a challenge. My work does not allow me such time off so I am considering including my other passion, motorcycling, and perhaps the Triumph Tiger could take me from Holywell (The Lourdes of Wales) to meet up with the intrepid cyclist in France.  Hmmmm now….. let’s start planning.

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