I’m still here too.

I’m still here too.

Forgive me, I am still here but it’s been a while since I’ve done it.

Blogged that is.

Last time, if you remember, was when bro finished his walk from the top of Scotland to the tip of England raising over ten grand in the process for Macmillan Cancer Support. Well done indeed. Personally I was so exhausted by the process of describing this act of madness day by day that I went for a lie down in a darkened room and I’m afraid to say that I’ve only just risen.

But riz I is and I’m pleased to say that I have a special treat for you all in this effort to resurrect this look at stuff, more stuff and stuff like that.

Now you may be aware that I’m not normally a book blogger. But an opportunity came my way to look at an autobiography of a chap that I’ve know on on Facebook for a few years now. He’s been kind enough to let me play on his blog a couple of times and it’s only fair that I return the favour.

But here’s the rub. Not only is Seumas Gallagher a fine author, but it turns out that if he sang Sinatra – which he can do – you’d know that he truly has done it ‘his way.’

Hailing from the same streets as Sir Alex and the Big Yin he, like my brother, left Scotland behind albeit for a very different sort of adventure.

That this man has in real life needed his own personal armed bodyguards should tell you all that you need to know of a tale of life lived to the full. But his story is also a surprising reflection of humanity, warts and all.

Strangely, he is still here and a very good read it is too.

So, let’s get to the nitty gritty and introduce you to the man himself – take it away Seumas.

aaaaA Journey to myself – writing my autobiography

For authors, the old maxim is often quoted, ‘Write about what you know.’

I’ve been at this writing game properly for over a decade now, with a back list of five crime thrillers, a book of my poetry, a self-help marketing and promotional guide for authors, and almost 2,000 blog posts. Add to that a catalogue of half-a-dozen ghostwriting assignments for other people’s ‘autobiographies’, and it’s of little wonder that the thought occurred to put my own life story and experiences to print. ‘Write about what you know.’

 

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What happened next was a sometime bewildering, sometime painful, sometime joyful, but always exhilarating, writing trip of discovery. I now understand more clearly than ever before just how much I am truly an amalgam of everything, everybody and everywhere with which and with whom I have ever been associated.

Were there regrets? Of course. Probably far too many to register. I doubt if more than a handful of people on this planet have led a flawless, blameless existence. But I do know that every single incident and experience, good, bad and indifferent, was necessary to bring me to this moment in my life. And I would not seek to change one second of it.

It is amazing how memories bring back not only the plain telling of the story, but for me, it also recalled the feelings and emotions that I had in most of them. I felt them again, and again, and again, some with laughter, but also many of them attended with a quiet tear.

I believe, at this age, finally, I am aware of who and what I am as a person. I like the man I see in the mirror each morning, although it was not always thus. I have acquired a tolerance of myself and my own shortcomings, but more importantly, I have learned to ‘live and let live’ in relation to others whom I meet day to day.

What surprises me, is that having published the book just a few weeks ago, I find that I am remembering many other things which could have been included in the memoir. I will resist the temptation to edit online the Amazon Kindle version, which is easy to do, on the same premise that once I finish writing my novels, I leave them finished.

To all my author friends and even those who have not yet caught the writing addiction, you may want to consider a similar project. It is a wondrous journey to yourself.

 

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Fact is often more incredible than fiction.

Seumas Gallacher has survived long enough to savour places, characters and events for more than forty years in the Far East and the Arabian Gulf.

He started life in Scotland, travelled far and wide as a wannabe Trainee Master of the Universe, but the Universe had other plans for him.

From a career in banking, he escaped to become a corporate trouble-shooter.

He discovered the joy and torture of becoming a wordsmith, writing five best-selling crime novels, a book of poetry, and being hyper-active on social media.

‘Strangely, I’m Still Here’ is his story.

Amazon Kindle universal link: mybook.to/StrangelyImStillHere

Thank you Seumas and I should perhaps point out that, unlike my brother, his loyalties lie with a team from the right side of Manchester!

Speak to you all soon – be good!

Jogle Blogle – Day 26

Jogle Blogle – Day 26

Okay then, I’d like you to imagine the scenario. 

IMG_2912IMG_2917You’re walking from John O’Groats to Land’s End and for most of the journey so far the weather ain’t been good. (Let’s face it, we’ve all been moaning ‘cos it’s been raining for a few days – visualise that repeated over and over, even with all your wet weather gear.) Even if it’s not actually wet, it’s certainly moody as hell.

Also, you started out, not in a good place, with a blister which persistently hung around for the first week. 

You’ve only done one of the three peaks (Ben Nevis) that you’ve pledged to do on the way south. The second (Scafell Pike) is taunting you in the near distance and the third (Snowden) is a couple of weeks away.

You’re taking pain killers for the constant ache in your legs and at this point you realise that you have only done just over one third of this charity walk.

This is how Steve’s feeling right now, so let’s collectively send the Jogler some good vibes – he’s doing a fantastic job which very few of us would even contemplate, let alone attempt.

Let’s take a look at what he’s achieved so far. 

IMG_2926He’s just about to cross the border from Scotland to England and for any normal JOGLE walk that would be almost half way. Because of the three peak challenge he has set himself however the nearly 1200 mile trip is nowhere near that.

The number of steps that he has taken so far is racing toward the one million mark.

And perhaps most importantly of all he has so far raised nearly £7000 of the minimum of £10000 Steve has set as his target for Macmillan Cancer Support.

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Day 26 was another long trek from Kirtlebridge to Newby Cross. Thanks to Alison and Frazer at The Village Inn – a great place to stay. The Jogler finally left the Sustrans Route which he has followed since leaving Glasgow and hiked alongside the Solway Firth where he narrowly missed being hit by a tree which was blown over seconds after he had passed beneath it.

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Down through Gretna Green, the last house in Scotland and finally to the border. Home sweet home – if only!

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Here are some shots of the first of many towns and cities still to go – Carlisle cathedral and castle and of course – the Jaffa Cake factory.

Stats of the day:

Miles: 22.0                             Total: 442.53

Steps: 43,138                         Total: 905,820

Time taken: 7 hours 30 minutes and 12 seconds

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STOP PRESS

As you know that the Jogle is at the moment two days in front of the Blogle (hopefully we’ll get back to only a day behind this weekend) but news has just reached the Blogler that Steve, after a couple of hours in Keswick A & E has an infection in his leg, hence the pain. Having been given enough drugs to fell an elephant however, he is carrying on regardless and at the risk of giving out a Blogle spoiler will attempt Scafell Pike on Saturday.

If you’d like to send a message of support to the man I’m proud to call my brother then leave them on whichever social media platform you find the Blogle, WordPress, Facebook or Twitter and I’ll make sure that they’re passed on to Steve (who perhaps sensibly is not on social media at all.) You can also message him directly via his just giving page at http://bit.ly/2Tzmjwi

A big shout out and thank you to everyone who has supported and/ or donated so far from the Jogler.

 

Jogle Blogle – Day 25

Jogle Blogle – Day 25

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Steve left the wee cottages of Moffat behind on Day 25 of his hike from John O’Groats to Land’s End, strolling down the highways and byways alongside the M74. 

 

 

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Wildlife shot of the day was this small Wallaby sitting in very long grass, or was it a large hare in slightly shorter grass? We may never know.

 

IMG_2853IMG_2820Travelling in such close proximity to the railway, Steve has become a keen train spotter. This one is probably the 4:20 Virgin to Inverness. And the roads continue to be long and straight. I blame the Romans meself.

 

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IMG_2846Stopping only for a caramel wafer made by local company, @TunnockOfficial  the Jogler continued south. Through Lockerbie where he stopped only for lunch and Ecclefechan where he stopped only to take a photo of this sign. 

IMG_2892As you no doubt already know, Ecclefechan was the birthplace of famous Scot, Thomas Carlyle. What’s that? No, not the bloke who took all his clothes of in The Full Monty, I think you’ll find that was Robert Carlyle. Honestly you lot, minds like sewers! And who keeps sniggering every time I mention Ecclefechan? Anyway, as I was saying Thomas was born in 1771 and went on to be a famous philosopher, satirist, historian, essayist among other things. This is where you get to learn about culture folks. You can even pop into his old house for the princely sum of four quid to see where he hung his kilt.

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The aptly named Burntfoot Hall Retirement Village sounded tempting, but our Jogler manfully carried on past.

 

The Jogler stopped for the night in Kirtlebridge, but not before he got his first long distance view of the Lake District on the horizon. Break out the bunting, poach some eggs, he’ll be back in Blighty in time for tea tomorrow.

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After another long, long day on the road, the stats were as follows.

Mileage: 25.5       Total: 420.53

Steps: 51,253                    Total:  862,682

Duration: 7 hours 54 minutes 25 seconds

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To see what’s inspired this mad charity walk for Macmillan Cancer Support,  visit his just giving page at http://bit.ly/2Tzmjwi

And join us for a momentous day tomorrow as the Jogler crosses the border – although rumour has it that moral is low on The Jogle as the weather and niggling injury take their toll.

Keep going Steve – we’re all behind you – all the way! You’re doing a fantastic job!

Jogle Blogle – Day 24

Jogle Blogle – Day 24

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IMG_2761Day 24 of the Jogle and not too much to report today, dear Blogle reader. Steve left Abingdon services behind, along with his breakfast roll which is presumably still languishing by the till at Starbucks. Let’s hope he doesn’t forget where he’s going. It’s south bro, to Land’s End, remember?

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No rain for a change as he passed over the Clyde again, alongside the road and rail following the valley into Dumfries and Galloway – his last Scottish county of this little adventure. The sign lies!

 

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Wildlife of the day was a moody, low resolution, ram. I know, it is disappointing isn’t it, but we did have three wildlife pics yesterday I suppose.

 

IMG_2769IMG_2799Hang on, what’s this? Yes, now I know the Jogler has cracked. He’s reporting that he is ‘blasting’ along the country lanes. Blasting? For heavens sake, it almost sounds as though he’s enjoying himself!

IMG_2809He hurtled into his overnight stop at Moffat, which has been designated as a ‘dark sky town.’ Apparently this means that special street lighting has been introduced to preserve the starry skies during the hours of darkness. The place to best enjoy the view is said to be at a public car park about a mile out of town according to @GoStargazing so that’s alright then. I’d suggest that if you bump into someone with binoculars on your local beauty spot car park in the middle of the night you could perhaps go up to them and say, ‘I know what you’re doing.’

 

The days stats were:

Miles: 19.1      Total: 395.03

Steps: 36,363  Total: 811,429

Time taken: 5 hours 43 minutes and 55 seconds

If you’d like to donate to his just giving page, the link is: http://bit.ly/2Tzmjwi

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Jogle Blogle – Day 23

Jogle Blogle – Day 23

Day 23 Our Jogler leaves Strathaven in a slightly more upbeat frame of mind. Little did he know how tedious the day would be. But worry not dear reader, on our journey with my brother Steve down to Land’s End from you know where up north, I shall try to spice up the account as much as possible. Starting with a two wildlife pictures of the day – how exciting is that!?

IMG_2686IMG_2690Firstly – a cow trying unsuccessfully to hide. O.k., then – not very exciting. Secondly – Oh, this is much more like it – a bird native to South America. Yes Rheally! Nothing like a good pun is there? Yes, I know the answer to that thank-you very much! I wonder if it’s name is Chris? Ha! Anyway, I’m not sure if it’s an American or greater Rhea, or could it be a Darwin’s or Lesser Rhea? Answers on a postcard please.

IMG_2698IMG_2716IMG_2717Now then, I’m not sure why the Jogler thought that tedium was the best word to describe his latest jaunt, I mean look at these! The Scots love their wind farms and here are designs of all shapes and sizes to keep an avid wind turbine spotter going for years. Perhaps I should write a book explaining the great diversity? I could call it ‘Mega or What?’ IMG_2738IMG_2747

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I think though he was referring to the endlessly boring long straight roads, pathways and cycle routes he took on his way down to Abingdon. In fact I can feel myself… oh sorry, nearly nodded off there.

IMG_2725IMG_2741At last though something to gladden the heart of even the most downtrodden Jogler. A sign on the M74 – ‘The South.’ Surely it’s only a question of time before something exciting happens and yes, here it is, an unprecedented third wildlife pic of the day. A curlew. Squint a bit, you’ll spot it. And this! A castle on the M74 which is actually a services. Eat your heart out, Watford Gap!IMG_2754IMG_2718

IMG_2755Eventually he staggered exhausted to his final destination, the motorway services at Abingdon for his overnight stop. No castle here unfortunately. He ignored the chance to avail himself of the walking aid charitably discarded by someone who had obviously been miraculously cured. 

If you’d like to contribute to Steve’s charity, Macmillan Cancer Support, here is the link. http://bit.ly/2Tzmjwi

Stats for the day for those who are even remotely interested are:

Mileage: 23.3       Total: 375.93

Steps: 46,122        Total: 775,066

Time taken: 7 hours 1 minute and 54 seconds

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Jogle Blogle – Day 22

Jogle Blogle – Day 22

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Day 22. The Jogler cut a lonely, bereft figure as he made his solitary way through the cityscape of Glasgow. One by one his travelling companions have fallen by the wayside to leave our hero battling on alone. No longer the scenic views of highland glens, but the concrete and glass entrance to Central Station and underpasses of the M8. Enough to deaden the soul of any Jogler.

IMG_2641IMG_2644IMG_2646Out by the O2 Academy and the Scottish Ballet and down into the suburbs. He paused to take a picture of the welcome sign he should have taken on the northern side of the city. Numbed by days of endless walking, step after agonising step, I’m pretty sure the poor chap was beginning to hallucinate.

IMG_2661Indeed, by East Kilbride, Steve on his journey from John O’Groats to Land’s End was so bored that he began to take pictures of his own finger. I must admit, having once been to East Kilbride myself that I might have been tempted to do the same.

 

 

 

IMG_2660With a final backward glance at Glasgow, our brave Jogler steeled himself for the ongoing journey and discovered that in an alternate universe he and I ran a shit spraying business. No, I don’t mean that it was a bad spraying business missus, I mean it was spraying shit.IMG_2663

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Six miles out of his final destination of Strathaven, clouds ominously began to appear and the heavens opened, only brightening again when he passed the castle and fell blissfully into a waiting bed, only to be tormented by nightmares of having to do the whole thing over again tomorrow!

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Make his day brighter by making a donation to Macmillan Cancer Support on Steve’s just giving page at http://bit.ly/2Tzmjwi

I can hardly bear it, but here are the stats.

Mileage: 24.3           Total: 352.63

Steps: 47,629            Total: 728,944

Time taken: 7 hours 54 minutes 4 seconds

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Jogle Blogle – Days 20 & 21

Jogle Blogle – Days 20 & 21

IMG_2520On Day 20 of the Jogle, The Jogler and Jogleress bade farewell to a distant Loch Lomond as they left Drymen for Glasgow on the next stage of Steve’s charity walk from John O’Groats to Land’s End.

IMG_2537The first of two wildlife of the day shots as they passed these grazing Shetland ponies. Then on past Craigillian Loch and down to the end of the West Highland Way.

 

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Steve and Sue then followed the Kelvin walkway following the course of the River Kelvin, crossing the remains of the Antonine wall – the northernmost outpost of Roman occupation and from there down onto the canal leading into the city centre of Glasgow.

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Here we find our second wildlife pic of the day – a heron doing a spot of fishing.

 

 

 

 

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IMG_2609The canal lead them past the home of Patrick Thistle’s football ground. Then onto the Glasgow skyline and the churches on the horizon and along the renovated Spiers Wharf, which was built in 1859 to house the Forth & Clyde Navigation Co., and the City of Glasgow grain mill and stores. The Wharf was converted into apartments one hundred and thirty years later.IMG_2612

IMG_2618IMG_2620Now following not only the canal but also the M8 the pair finally trudged into their stop for the night @premierinn to find that they used @Evac_Chair one of Steve’s main sponsors. Fortunately for the Joglers, the emergency stair descent system was not required during their stay. If you’d also like to contribute to Macmillan Cancer Support, Steve’s just giving page is http://bit.ly/2Tzmjwi

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Day 21 was a scheduled rest day for the Jogler, so being a wise walker he took himself off to a local podiatrist for a spot of foot maintenance. Thanks to Mary A Heraghty for that. Hopefully Steve can now get to Land’s End without being afflicted with the curse of the blister – again!

 

IMG_2627IMG_2591It was also the day that the Jogleress departed to leave Steve to Jogle on alone. Before going to rejoin the @NHSuk she of course had to eat her own weight in pizza to refuel after her 2 week stint on the Jogle. I’m sure we’ll catch up with her again later. Goodbye Sue – and I hope you didn’t pinch a trolley!

The stats for Day 20 were as follows:

Mileage: 23.0        Total: 328.33

Steps: 45,023         Total: 681315

Time: 7 hours 24 minutes and 42 seconds

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