Book Review: Adventureman by Jamie McDonald

I can’t remember when or why I downloaded this book onto my Kindle, but I’m glad I did, as Jamie McDonald’s story of his epic run across Canada is a charming and inspiring tale.

mcdonald adventureman

As a young child, Jamie was beset with serious health problems and at one point it was doubtful that he would be able to walk again. Incredibly, he would not only recover but confound expectations, and as an adult, to repay the children’s hospitals which had helped him he began undergoing massive fundraising efforts.

Having cycled from Bangkok to Gloucester and set the world record for longest time on a static bike (268 hours) and then he undertook this intense challenge. He would run from the East coast of Canada to the West, travelling 5000 miles, around 200 marathons back to back.

The sheer scale of the challenge itself is impressive enough, and I couldn’t help marvel at the determination, strength of will and optimism that McDonald displays. He raised thousands of pounds for children’s hospitals in both Canada and the UK, and understandably, his story has inspired many.

McDonald writes with a simple, conversational tone, capturing the harsh elements and challenges he faces along the way. There are bouts of loneliness and mental struggles in keeping going, but thanks to the support of countless Good Samaritans along the way, and his own spirit, he keeps going regardless.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, charmed by the affable Jamie and hugely inspired by his fundraising work and enthusiasm for helping others. This is a book that restores your faith in humanity, highlighting the selflessness, kindness and heroism that people display at their best.

It’s understandable that Jamie is viewed as a real life superhero, it’s hard to argue that his endurance and achievements don’t border on the superheroic. And the idea of adopting his own alter ego is charming and clever, helping to raise his profile.

Jamie continues his good work through the Superhero Foundation and is currently running across the US. You can follow his progress online, via his Twitter and I am currently doing that, and planning to donate come payday. He’s also inspired me to try my own bigger fundraising event next year, although mine won’t be as physically demanding.

Verdict: An inspiring and wonderful story of one man’s heroism and endurance. Lovely stuff. 8/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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Sponsor me?

Sorry to bother you, reader, but I’m taking part in Children in Need’s Countryfile Ramble and I just wanted to ask if you could sponsor me.

pudsey

Children in Need is the BBC’s charity that raises money for, well, the name kinda explains it all. The charity does great work helping thousands of disadvantaged kids all over the country, and this year I’m trying to do my bit to help.

The challenge involves trying to get people to walk as much as they can so that combined it equals having covered the circumference of the UK. The target I’ve given myself is to walk 75 miles between the 29th of October and November 16th, which is the day of the Children in Need television event. At the time of writing, I’m doing pretty good and think I’ll reach it, so I may up my target if I get there early.

My original goal was £100 and I hit that yesterday, so my new target is to raise £150. If you want to help me hit that goal, and all those kids, you can sponsor me here, and the good news is that the minimum donation is £1, so you can help out for less than the cost of a coffee.

I don’t want to lie and appear like I’m just being selflessly altruistic, because there are definitely some things I get out of doing this:

  1. It helps me towards my Race at Your Pace target
  2. Helps me with my goal to get fit
  3. Helps chip away at my bucket list item to raise £1m for charity
  4. Makes me feel good, and you can get that charitable buzz too!

So, if you have a spare quid, please sponsor me.

Thanks, and I’ll update you as to how I do.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Fat Boy on a Diet: March Update: Mountains and Mirrors

I haven’t been able to hop on the scales the last couple of weeks, so I don’t know exactly where I am weight wise.

With no hard data I’m gonna have to guess how the month has gone. I think I’ve lost a fair bit this month thanks in part to all the extra walking I did for Sport Relief (I raised £175 in the end, which is a start on my “raise £1m for charity” bucket list item).

Walking with Oz

I’ve also been swimming a couple more times, and while I still suck, I’ve passed 1000m which is more than I managed between 1999 and 2017. So, that’s something, I guess.

Eating healthy has been hit and miss, with us moving house there have been a few evenings when MWF and I couldn’t be bothered to cook and opted for take aways.

Despite feeling like I’ve lost weight this month, and enjoying the extra exercise, body confidence wise I can’t say I feel great. Our new bedroom has built in wardrobe with a mirrored front.

This means that getting up in the morning, or getting ready for bed I get to see my body as big as life. And twice as ugly.

I saw old photos of myself at university this week, and think I look better now, but back then I don’t remember having the same revulsion at my reflection. Or did I just ignore it then?

For those few moments before or after sleep I am confronted with a body I dislike. I have half baked plans for working on my bucket list and trying new things, but I feel I need to scale it back and for now, just focus on slimming down.

I know I’ll never be one of those insanely ripped guys, and frankly, I don’t want to be. But I definitely want to be smaller and more comfortable and happy with what I see in the mirror.

It might take a while though.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


From Atop Kilimanjaro

So yesterday evening I completed my Sport Relief challenge to walk the equivalent of climbing Kilimanjaro. It went pretty well and taking a greater effort to get out every day has made me feel better and hopefully the exercising has helped with my hopes of losing some weight.

But Sport Relief isn’t until Friday so it feels foolish to stop now. Besides I want to keep the momentum going and give people a reason to sponsor me, so I’m taking on a few more challenges. Starting yesterday I decided to do the 100 Quidditch Pitches challenge.

It’s not as long as the Kilimanjaro one, but it should keep me busy for the next couple of days and I have one more planned for later the week.

Anyway, if you’d like to sponsor me, you still can by going here. It would be greatly appreciated, and remember, every little helps.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Climbing Kilimanjaro. Kinda.

Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain which, as we all know, rises like Olympus above the Serengeti. Climbing this mountain has become a regular charity fundraising event, and this year in aid of Sport Relief, it’s my turn.

Sorta.

I’ve joined the charity’s step challenge fundraiser and one of the challenges is the Kilimanjaro one. This means I have to try and make 58,750 steps before the 23rd of March, which is roughly how much it takes to get to the top.

I’ll keep you guys up to date with how I do, and if you fancy sponsoring me that would be great. Here’s the link. Thanks.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Fundraising for the Unfit

I spent a lot of the last week quite tired and fed up thanks to moving house and work. Despite this towards the end of the week I was seized by a sudden burst of energy and enthusiasm.

The focus of this? My resolutions list, particularly item 3- Cross at least one item off the Bucket List. I’ve been thinking and planning a few of them, and will keep you posted.

One of the items is to raise £1m for charity. I’ve known from when I added this to the list that it would be something that took time, with me chipping away at the amount over the years.

Which has got me thinking about what I can do to raise some cash? I’m nowhere near healthy enough to do a race at the moment (although hopefully after shifting some weight I can get back into running) and I’m not crafty enough to make things to sell.

I’ve thought of a few lazy fundraising ideas:

  • Bad movie marathon- people donate and suggest terrible films for me to watch. I try to watch as many as possible.
  • Blog marathon. I try to write as many blog posts as possible in 24 hours. Although would probably help if I invested in a decent laptop first.
  • Tattoo auction. People bid to chose what marks part of my skin. Massively risky, but would generate publicity.
  • Man vs Food challenge. Would seriously damage my weight loss attempts, but would count as crossing something else off my list.

Would you donate to someone doing one of those? Or have any ideas of your own for how I can raise some money? If so, you know what to do. BETEO.


Book Review: Kiss Chronicles by Virginia Sanders

I just stumbled across this book by accident but the synopsis intrigued me and I gave it a go. The premise is simple, having reached thirty without having been kissed, Virginia Sanders decides to auction off her first Kiss to raise money for charity. The book details this process.

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The opening stages of the book are pretty good, with Sanders explaining how she’s made it so far without being kissed, her thoughts on kissing and some personal background. She is an amiable presence as a writer and these early parts are the strongest section.

The plan she hatches is genius but what follows is a frustrating story about the difficulties and complications that beset the project. Sanders talks about the stress and troubles with openness and doesn’t hide from responsibility but the ending feels flat, and the charity bureaucracy doesn’t make fun reading at times.

The end stages are a bit frustrating and it loses momentum, but Sanders is still likeable until the end. I would have enjoyed it more with a better ending, but sometimes in life we don’t get satisfying endings. On the whole though the book works, and for free you can’t be too miffed that it doesn’t live up to its promise.

The charity plan doesn’t quite work out and Sanders asks readers to donate on an honour system, so come payday I will make a donation to Cancer Research as a thank you for this book.

Verdict: Sanders is a warm, amiable writer and some of the book sparkles, but the ending is a bit disappointing and it stumbles in places. 6/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Christian Aid, please, stop bothering me

It’s Christian Aid week.
I know this because they’ve texted me about it twice.
They have my mobile number because I did one of their text donation campaigns. You know the ones, you text a specific word and it deducts a fiver from your credit.
It’s a good idea, because it’s a simple, quick way to donate to charity. For someone like me its a good thing because I’ve already paid for my phone credit, and with free texts that £5 isn’t really going to be missed. Better it goes to a good cause rather than I waste it listening to voicemails telling me I’m owed PPI or money for my recent accident, which must have involved a blow to my head as I have no recollection of it.
Anyway, I have no problem sending them money. My policy on charity is simple- I might be poor but there’s plenty of folks who are worse off, so when I have some spare cash I’ll give them to a chugger or drop them in a pot.
So with text campaigns I’ll text when I can afford it.
Which is why Christian Aid texting me is annoying me. I get they need to chase donations to keep doing their good works, but seriously, guys, back the hell off.
People donate when they can, and what they can. CA knows of me because I’ve already donated, as have plenty of others. I just don’t think it’s cool for them to go after people for more, making them feel bad or like they haven’t done enough.
CA should consider that maybe people can’t give more that that £5. That they want to help, but can’t afford more than that.
CA and other tragedies should gratefully accept what people can give and avoid this direct approach, which just feels a bit too full on. I don’t mind seeing ads or posters, but coming straight to my inbox is not on.
Charities need to respect boundaries and consider who they might be messaging, they could be making people feel bad or guilting them into giving more than they can comfortably afford to give.
At the very least they could make their begging texts funny or clever, not just route one “send us £5” style messages.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


UKIP are wrong about Foreign Aid

UKIP launched their manifesto today and one of their policies is to reduce foreign aid spending.

This is exactly the kind of policy that ‘Kippers will like because they probably assume that a massive was flies out every year so that Johnny Foreigner gets a pool or something, when it really should be used on reintroducing national service or building a giant wall around the UK.

For me it was just depressing to think that this is what might be a deciding factor in how some people vote.

“Send money to victims of natural disasters or the developing world? Bah! Not on my watch.”

You must be one callous dude or dudette to think like that.

And before anyone chips in with “charity begins at home”, tell me exactly how UKIP are sticking up for our poorest and most vulnerable?

The thing is on issues like this the general public will, sadly listen. This is because they are pessimists or morons, sometimes both. A study a few years back (link) revealed that the general public tend to think things are worse (subjectively) than they actually are.

Foreign aid is one of these.

In 2013 the UK hit its foreign aid target. That target was 0.7% of the gross national income.

0.7%.

That’s pretty damn low already.

The Guardian (link) worked out this was £180 per person. Or £15 a month.

That’s not a lot.

UKIP would argue that its wrong for each UK citizen to be deprived of £180 a year. Well, that’s not the issue. The government would find somewhere else to spend it, and probably somewhere less moral than foreign aid.

Personally I’m glad and proud that the UK aids other nations. But maybe I’m just soft or, you know, possessing compassion.

Not only are UKIP wrong, but contradictory. They should embrace foreign aid spending.

UKIP are extremely anti-immigrant (unless they’ve married them) and this xenophobic nature lurks behind the “cheery bloke with a pint” photo ops. It’s little wonder the party is repeatedly hit with racism scandals, racism being xenophobia’s nastier big brother.

The thing is if you don’t want immigrants the sending money abroad is a good idea. It’ll improve the situation there, and the nicer it is there the less likely they’ll want to come over here.

Nige and co. should want to spend more- a theme park in every Polish town, ponies for all Nigerians and free WiFi coverage for every inch of Romania.

Of course, that’d be a harder sell. Far easier to ignore the facts and scare a bunch of heartless, pessimistic morons.

The kind of people who have ensured that Comic Relief has to point out they help UK causes too.

When did we get so heartless, Britain?

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Something is rotten in the state of Florida

Sometimes it must suck being a cop. I think a lot of folks probably join the service because they buy into that “protect and serve” line you get in movies, and probably dream of catching serial killers, running down muggers and generally doing some hero type stuff.

So it must have been tough for Fort Lauderdale cops to roll up and bust a 90 year old man for feeding the homeless.

Abbot being busted

Abbot being busted

Yes, that’s right, in parts of Florida feeding the homeless is against the law. The 90 year old in question is was Arnold Abbott, who runs a Christian homeless charity, Love Thy Neighbor (sic). Apparently the city had passed a new law about homeless feeding, as a “public health and safety measure” and to show they were serious the boys in blue were sent to grab Abbott and two associates.

The three charity volunteers now face up to 60 days in prison and $500 fines.

The new rules insist that there can only be one homeless feeding location per city block and they must be at least 500 feet from residential areas, which suggests that this law has more to do with people not wanting to have to see or acknowledge the presence of the homeless.

It would be bad enough if Fort Lauderdale was an anomaly, the one callous city in the whole of the US, but since January 2013, 21 different cities have enacted similar laws.

Frankly this is a depressing trend and is essentially criminalizing helping some of society’s most vulnerable people. Some of these programmes are the only way that some of these people get food, and by taking this away from them their health is being put at risk.

It’s not a solution to homelessness, unless the plan is to starve them to death or force them to leave town, which is probably hard for them to do, being homeless and all. In fact you’re basically pushing them into a corner which could cause some to go to greater lengths to get food, or make them have to beg more, which might not be a great thing in Fort Lauderdale, as Florida had the 2nd highest rate of attacks on homeless people in 2013.

These attacks on the homeless are symptomatic of the lack of empathy and charity that people have for them, and the local government has compounded this by appearing to want to push homeless people away from the general public and going after the people who do try and help them.

It’s a terrible state of affairs, and one of the most callous laws I’ve ever heard of, essentially punishing the most vulnerable and needy in society and those who try and help them.

I hope that the ludicrous charges against Abbot and his fellow volunteers is dropped, and that the law is repealed. The policy makers in Fort Lauderdale and those other cities should be ashamed of themselves and instead of persecuting the homeless people should be trying to help them.

Doing so is the right thing to do, and would help everyone more than the current legislation will.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.