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Monday, 4 June 2012

The 2012 Challenge, Day 14: Fettercairn to St Cyrus (9)

Well, what can I say about St Cyrus beach, other than that it is simply magical? Just a vast expanse of golden sand, and practically nobody there except myself. Maybe three or four other folk dotted about, and a dog. And that was all!

I walked across the sand to the water's edge and then, as I had done at Lochailort two weeks previously, I bent down and dipped my finger in the sea. And, with that, I had finished!

I stood up and turned my back on the sea, and walked back up the beach. As I did so, I sent a brief text to Challenge Control. "34 Jeremy Burrows finished at St Cyrus as planned."

It was a surprisingly stiff climb back up the cliffs; but I was soon at the top and I made my way to the cafe. Big John hadn't waited for me - although they said he'd only left a few minutes earlier. I drank two cans of Irn Bru; but they didn't have anything that I could eat, so I left it at that. At 2.30 I headed out to the bus stop, only to find on a closer reading of the timetable that the 2.48 only runs on non-schooldays. Never mind - the 3 o'clock bus would do.

It is only a short bus ride from St Cyrus to Montrose, and I had plenty of time to get to the Park; so my first port of call was the pharmacy where I bought a razor, a toothbrush and some toothpaste so I could make myself presentable for the dinner. Then I went to the Park. Jim Davidson was sitting outside with a variety of other Challengers. He welcomed me and said I should join them for a drink once I'd signed in. I said I would.

I checked in and dumped my kit in my hotel room, and then made my way to the Kinnaird Room where I was heartily welcomed by Roger and John. There were three other Challengers still to come, that was all. There were plenty of spare Challenge T-shirts (unsurprisingly, given the high attrition rate) and they gave me three. They were also having a bit of a clear out and selling old stock, so I bought an "Ultimate Challenge" cloth badge. I never actually did the Challenge in the days when it was called the Ultimate Challenge ... but I do rather like the mountain goat emblem!

They did rather better this year at accommodating my dietary needs for the dinner - even though they hadn't actually done anything to warn the kitchen despite my giving them loads and loads of notice. It came down to the waitress asking me how they should adapt the menu to suit me! I wanted to try to keep as close to the actual menu as possible, to make life as easy as I could for the kitchen. The starter was fine (fan of melon with prawn Marie Rose) but the main course (chicken breast stuffed with haggis in a cream and whisky sauce) and the dessert (apple pie and cream) were both going to cause me problems. So I suggested that they do me chicken breast with bacon (I meant wrapped in bacon ... but I didn't say "wrapped" and in the event it didn't come wrapped) with a red wine reduction sauce and that for dessert they do a backed apple stuffed with spiced fruit. They did both these things for me, and it was very acceptable.

And then after dinner, John delighted in telling the story of the Mountain Rescue callouts (there were two - the other one being very much more necessary than mine!) and asked me to sing a song which I had written summarising my experiences on this year's Challenge, which I was delighted to do. It was very well received, too, so far as I could judge. The tune is, of course, "The Twelve Days of Christmas" and I had to take one or two slight liberties ... for instance, exaggerating the severity of my first day hangover, and omitting to say that it was only a practical joke when they told us there were no spare beds at Tarfside. So, for those who missed the Friday dinner, here are the words to "Jeremy's Crossing":

Oh the first day of my crossing was a day that I felt cursed -
The hangover to end all hangovers

The second day of crossing was a day that I felt cursed -
Stuck in Oban bothy and the hangover to end all hangovers

The third day of my crossing was a day that I felt cursed -
Mountain rescue shout ... etc.

The fourth day of my crossing was a day that I felt cursed -
All day on the roads ... etc.

The fifth day of my crossing was a day that I felt cursed -
Union politics! ... etc.

The sixth day of my crossing was a day that I felt cursed -
Deep river crossing ... etc.

The seventh day of crossing was a day that I felt cursed -
Nasty squelchy peat bogs ... etc.

The eighth day of my crossing was a day that I felt cursed -
Didn't pack the sun cream ... etc.

The ninth day of my crossing was a day that I felt cursed -
Missed out all my mountains ... etc.

The tenth day of my crossing was a day that I felt cursed -
No spare beds at Tarfside ... etc.

The eleventh day of crossing was a day that I felt cursed -
Yet more road walking ... etc.

Oh the twelfth day of my crossing was a day that I felt cursed -
Can't believe it's over ... etc.

I should perhaps just add that, as I originally wrote it (and sang it), "Missed out all my mountains" was the eighth day, and "Didn't pack the suncream" was the ninth day; but as I have been writing this blog up, it has struck me that actually, I was suffering from lack of sun cream while there were still mountains on my route card which I hadn't yet missed out. So, with the benefit of hindsight, I have corrected the song to make it a more accurate reflection of my 2012 Challenge experience, by switchin these two verses around.

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