This testimonial is related to: A'Courts Hair Salon

Paul the Rambler...

The Ramblings of an inexperienced and unenthusiastic Rambler


Past holidays as a teenager with my parents and little sis were great except for one major flaw.

The aimless walks across picturesque countryside or picture postcard market towns, or up into castles and stately homes.

So as soon as the Shine Snowden trek was posted, was I the last person to put their name down?

No! I couldn’t wait!!

My Parents and sister and even my kids, were gobsmacked!!

Having been to Wales a few times, I had seen Snowden from the bottom, and said ‘’ No Way!’’

Even the train didn’t appeal.

‘’Paul walk up a mountain??’’  Ok, so after the laughter had subsided, the reality of what I was attempting and why made them sit up and think.

For me to walk up a hill was a feat, but a mountain, after cancer was definitely and eye opener.

So, the overweight bus driver had to get fit, also doctors orders. Age and a slow metabolism apparently!

Me? Old? How dare they!!

So with the little time I had, away went the car and a few long walks and I thought was ready!

Well it is only 5 miles, I am fit enough to walk that!  Aren’t I?

Just need to prepare myself!

So to Amazon it was to kit myself out! And boy what a kit! I had everything for a week long hike, except the tent.

I would have made any army proud!

So the time came, and we were on our way to sunny Wales, well for a change it was.

I had booked a lovely guest house about half an hour away in Betws-y-Coed, with a pool and spa, just right for tired muscles.

(See well prepared!!)

We were shown to our room, right on the top floor, only four flights of stairs.

(Even the owner said good luck with the stairs after Snowden!)

 A quizzical look came over me? Is it really that bad??

So after a lovely dinner, which felt like my last supper, we retired back to the room, up the many flights of stairs.

I decided to check out Youtube videos of what I was to embark on..

(I did ask myself, why I hadn’t done this earlier.)

So after a few videos, most filmed on nice sunny days, the fear hit me like an avalanche!

‘It really will be that tough!!’

And with the weather closing in, a bit wet too.

Well at least I was prepared.

So before settling down for the night, the final inspiring words from Bear Grylls off his television program filled my mind, ‘Never give up!!!’  ‘Even If you have to run, walk, climb or crawl, NEVER give up!!’.

Well, as a cub leader, I am not going to pass up words of wisdom from our chief scout now, am I?

Well the next morning, bright and early, we made our way to the starting base, for coffee and a hot French patisserie, and was greeted by a far too lively organiser!

Words of encouragement, to all of us donned in bright orange t-shirts, and the obligatory photos followed, before the health and safety talk.

Ok, now it was real when the clearly experienced action man started mentioning signs of hypothermia.

REALLY????  Wales in the early summer, and we are talking hypothermia? It hadn’t even started raining yet, and I was roasting in my bright orange t-shirt, as well as all my other layers.

Ok, another trip to the toilet is needed!!

Right we were off, 31 intrepid explorers, all ready and raring to go.

Two routes, I was on the easy one, with what I was thinking would be the larger of the two groups.

But no! Why is everyone doing the hard walk?? Are they mad? Or do they know something I don’t.

Oh well, our route must just be a leisurely stroll. Only 5 miles!

So off we went, nice pace, chatting away, down the road, past an abandoned bus!

Tempting?!!  (It would be the first bus up Snowden!!)

Then THE HILL!! Now! Yes I know, we are climbing a mountain, so a hill should not come as a surprise, but this is no ordinary hill.

‘IT’ is a road, nicely surfaced, just an ordinary road, but the incline was just plain and simply put, PURE FECKING EVIL!!!

Yes, I know it is a mountain!!

A mile up this mountain, and this road was beating me!!

(No wonder more people went the other way. I knew they knew something was clearly not good on our route!)

It was beginning to become apparent that this was going to be harder than I thought.

And I haven’t even reached the  gate of the actual mountain path yet.

My bag was weighing me down, looking at everyone else’s meagre bag; I had packed way too much stuff!

Note to self: Being over prepared is not a good thing!

So there I was, at an abandoned cafe, sitting on the steps, puffing like a fat, lazy bus driver, ready to give up, before the real climb had even began.

I was worried, my group was worried, and Bear Grylls was in my head telling me ‘not to give up’ 

To crawl the rest of the way was not an option.

My children’s proud faces were there too, so I couldn’t let them down, an nor would I give back the money that I had prised from the grasp of various work colleagues either.

So onward we went, with the group leader taking my pack as well as his smaller one.

It was now dawning on me this was going to be a long day!!

And to top it off, the Welsh weather was starting to turn up to add insult to injury.

Up we went, along the rocky path, for what was a very long time, the views around us were spectacular, the views I had, were of 2 brand new boots, walking over rocks and stones and, as the rain fell, an ever growing stream of water, cascading gently over the small rocks and pebbles  too.

Every time I stopped, our group leader was asking if I was ok, was something that kept me going.

His concern for a stranger, whilst his daughter climbed with us, was selfless and inspiring.

No way was I going to turn back, and have someone come back with me.

That would have been far too selfish of me.

So onward we went. Time went on, the rain fell, the wind howled strongly, the clouds descended, and out of the gloom, was a mirage of a building!

Time for a bit of a rest, sustenance, and a wee!

I looked down the way we had come, and was in awe at the feat I had achieved so far.

I then looked up at what lay in store, and my heart sank at the distant figures in the clouds, backs arched as they trek up an increasingly steep path of stone steps.

Up I walked, my view still of my feet, up and over the rocks, and the stones and the trickle of water from the rain above.

Then as instantly as anything there was a lull. Nothing! No wind or rain or noise?

It had all just stopped for an instant, then almost as quick the rain and the wind came back with a vengeance.

At one point, after the steep climb, part of the mountain levelled off.

And at that point, I could feel adrenaline kick in, and boy what a feeling. No longer stopping at every rock for a rest, but I ploughed on and on, it was an amazing feeling.

Ok, now that probably wasn’t the first time adrenaline has hit me, but it is the first time I can recall where it has actually made a difference to what I was doing.

I heard the sound of the steam train coming closer, we were at the point of the mountain where we could see their happy smiling faces as they rode in considerably more comfort than I was at the time, waving their encouragement for the final push.

We came across a stone showing the direction of the summit.

‘Great!’ I thought, nearly there.

Nearly there my backside!! 

Higher and Higher! Steeper and steeper we went. People passing us coming down with cups of hot drinks, clearly an oasis of hot beverages awaited us, the smell of coffee, enticing us further.

Their smiling faces looking happily at us, as they make their descent!

My grimaced face looking back at them.

Then, out of the gloomy mist and rain, the outline of the cafe on the peak loomed.

And to on the other side of the summit was the final few steps to the plinth. But I had very little energy left, and steps were steps, I couldn’t do it.

But I did, I thought to myself ‘i am here’, and I would regret not doing it.

So the few final steps I climbed up and touched the brass disc, surrounded by nervous people all balanced precariously on this rock doing the same.

Then it dawned on me, I got up, I now had to get down!

Steep stone steps, without a banister, a sheer drop behind me that I couldn’t see. This was one of my worst nightmares, on the same scale as spiders are for many people!

Clearly I wasn’t the only one, as people around me were coming down on their bottoms.

I certainly wasn’t going to lose my dignity that way! So I braved it and headed off for a hot drink in the warmth of the cafe.

As places go, it was like a motorway service station, except this one was perched 3500 ft up on top of a mountain.

And clearly a hundred coach load of walkers had descended upon this place at the same time.

Talk about a squash and a squeeze.

I managed to find the rest of our group, and after many hugs and congratulatory words and further words of encouragement I was in possession of a well earned hot drink.

My emotions at this point were all over the place. I felt proud of myself and I knew so many people would be too.

I was in tears, tears of joy, but looking around me, I was the only one.

Maybe it was physical tiredness that brought all the emotion out, and the fact it brought back memories of my own battle of cancer, the reason I was doing it.

We said farewell to our party who came up by train, and prepared ourselves for the walk down the mountain.

This time, as we were all going the same way, we split off into little groups, and although we were the last group, the pace going down was, or seemed very quick.

Passing the people going up, their faces contorted into grimaces of pain and determination.

( I wondered how my face must have looked like to those coming down.)

So down our group went, over the stones and rocks, and it wasn’t an easy walk down either.

It dawned on me that it was, as my body had screamed at me, a hard climb.

Going down posed its own problems on the body.

I was thankful for my walking poles going up, I was even more thankful coming down.

Stepping down steep rock steps for miles and hours hurt the knees and calves, but we were on our way home.

The halfway cafe loomed in the distance, and continued to loom. It just didn’t seem to be getting closer.

And by now, that hot beverage wanted, or needed its release from my bladder.

Eventually we got there, had our little break, made ourselves comfortable then carried on.

At least the rain had stopped, the clouds had lifted too, and it was warmer, I didn’t need to have put an extra jumper on.

So at least my views were not always of my feet, but I could actually take in some of the scenery that surrounded me and take a few pictures.

We made our way down to the end of the path, and on to the welcome sight of the tarmac road which meant the end was in sight.

At least going down it would be easier, wouldn’t it?

Well, whoever had laid that piece of road must have been born of pure evilness.

Not only was it a difficult climb up, it was also a difficult walk down due to how steep it was.

Having to lean back to stop gravity pulling you along was excruciating on my calves. Is this what a woman feels like wearing heels??

(For days afterwards, it felt like my calves had been replaced by cricket balls, but as the week went on the balls got smaller to be replaced by nice soft muscle tissue again.)

Eventually the road flattened out, and as I was at the back of our group, I was able to catch up so we could all finish in the hotel together.

We found our group in the picturesque garden, views of the Welsh countryside all around.

Triumphant faces full of relief in the crowd of people around me.

I threw my walking poles onto the ground, and felt like collapsing in a heap next to them.

I found a bench and guzzled water and a few sports drinks to quench my thirst, whilst others drank celebratory drinks.

Waves of emotions came over me as we sat talking; trying hard to hold them in was difficult.

I didn’t want to be the last man down and the one blubbering in the corner, Luckily I held it together,.

All the pictures were taken and then we said our farewells, and went our separate ways.

Back at the guest house, four flights of stairs welcomed this weary traveller, muscles screaming in agony, legs not wanting to take another step.

But they did, to be able to crash out on the soft bed.

Soon after we then took a dip in the welcoming pool and Jacuzzi to help ease the pain.

Though it was only days later that the cricket balls in my calves diminish to nothing.

Just a painful memory of a fabulous weekend.

Will put myself through that all again?

Had i been asked that the following day, no I wouldn’t?

But now?

 Bring on the next one.

With better preparation, and now knowing what to expect, I can’t wait.........

































Paul the Rambler...

This testimonial is related to: SHINE Cancer Support

Feel Free Evening participant

Hi Layne

I had a fabulous evening at A'Courts and got the impression that all the other ladies did too.

Helen and her team couldn't have made me feel more welcome and treated me to many more treatments than I expected and I enjoyed them all.

I also picked up several useful beauty tips and went home feeling really good.

I would recommend the evening to any lady going through treatment, as I am, or having finished their treatment and needing a little TLC.

A HUGE thank you to Helen and her team and to you and your team at Dorset Living Well Active for working with A'Courts Salon!

Kind regards

Feel Free Evening participant

This testimonial is related to: A'Courts Hair Salon

Feel Free Evening

Thank you for such a wonderful evening last night.  The ambience in your salon Helen was 2nd to none.you have fantastic staff, they are a Credit to you. I just like to say from myself and all the girls that came last Night, Thank you so very much for making us feel welcome. We went home buzzing and feeling very very special.

Feel Free Evening

This testimonial is related to: A'Courts Hair Salon

Feel Free Evening participant

I had a wonderful time last night, I have a thank you card all ready to drop in this afternoon. Helen and her staff were wonderful, so kind and caring, wish I could go every week. Thank you for organising

Feel Free Evening participant

This testimonial is related to: A'Courts Hair Salon

Feel Free Evening Participant

Dear Layne,

This is to thank you for facilitating the wonderful evening last night at a'Courts. It was a great boost, and all the staff made us feel welcome and pampered. After all the treatment we have had, it was great to be frivolous and feel 'human' again. Please pass my thanks to Helen and her team who were worked off their feet but made it personal and fun.

with best wishes,


Feel Free Evening Participant

This testimonial is related to: A'Courts Hair Salon

Discovery Day Guest

Thank you! It was a really good event! I can honestly say one of the best I have been too, interactive and very interesting, I met lots of new people, made good links and generally just enjoyed it!

Discovery Day Guest


I went along to the Altitude Adventure, not knowing if I could do it, but always wanted to have a go. I thoroughly enjoyed it, nervous and excited at the same time. Even though I said, ‘ I’m stupid but not that b....y stupid’ to do it blindfolded the second time I did and loved it! The higher ropes were a bit more challenging but fun. I’m really pleased that I’ve done it and proved to myself, yet again, since my diagnosis, that I can achieve so much more.


This testimonial is related to: BACSUP - Littledown Leisure Centre


You asked for feedback on the Mindfulness evening. I am glad I waited to answer as it has only been in the last week that I have realised what I got from the session. The mindfulness section where the speaker talked about the work of Byron Katie has made an astonishingly big change to how I think. I am one of the world's worst for imagining all kinds of things going wrong, so the simple act of asking myself if I have evidence of this happening has been really helpful. If I have no evidence of it, the situation isn't real and it is just my brain making up stories. This has helped hugely. Thanks again for everything you have been organising and I will continue to grab every opportunity to learn or try something new.

Living Well Active Discovery Talk - Introduction to Mindfulness and Relaxation




LYLAC Course attendee

Feedback on  one-day LYLAC workshop in cooperation with Macmillan Cancer Support: "Today has boosted my confidence." "I'm feeling more positive about my future." "I feel determined to get on with life." "I learned to be more pro-active in what I want to achieve." "Very interesting and helpful." "Would definitely recommend to others." "Very well done ladies." Overall score for the day: 9.8 (on a scale of 1-10).

LYLAC Course attendee

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