8 days to go….tasting success!

Food is never far from my mind.

I will be eating one meal and pretty much be planning the next one. I love great food,
fabulous ingredients that are cooked well – I love cooking and I love eating.

I am a healthy size 12 and I eat a balanced diet most the time and I absolutely don’t diet. That’s not because I have never needed to, its because I like eating too much and frankly I would rather run another 6 miler to burn off the food I’ve consumed than deprive myself in the first place. Nicole, fellow Kilimanjaro
trekker and Sparks representative, and I were having this very conversation over coffee earlier in the week, one of the predominant reasons we both exercise is so that we can remain slim whilst eating whatever we like.

On one of our first dates, my ex-husband took me for a meal out at a plush local restaurant. He
had finished eating his meal and was watching me finish mine. Infact he kept looking at me….staring even….when I asked what he was looking at – he replied that his Mum and his previous girlfriend always let him finish their meals as they had small appetites……I laughed, boy he had a shock coming if that’s what
he was used to! (Incidently, I also like to point out that he also said I was the only girl he’d ever gone out with that didn’t have a moustache……looking at the people he’s dated after me, I reckon I still hold that title too 😉 )

So, yesterday I went to the local supermarket to buy snacks. I needed to buy a full range of foods
that would motivate me to keep going up the mountain, deliver energy, take away the dusty taste from my mouth, replace the salts I’m sweating out and potentially replace any rough meals I might be served. Nicole reported that the evening meals were excellent last time she trekked, but the pack lunches were a bit ropey – so I need to be prepared!

I will be on the mountain for 6 days. I think I may have overdone it….what do you reckon?!

I have a sweet tooth and to be honest if anything is going to motivate me up a mountain in those final stages, its likely to be edible.

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9 days to go, 9 things I’ve learnt, so far….

I haven’t done anything hugely impressive today in terms of Kilimanjaro preparation, but I’ve been reflecting a lot on my experience so far. I thought I might share some of what I’ve learnt!

1. Whatever the question, exercise is the answer.
Look, I’m no expert but I know that when I exercise I can eat what I like, I have a glow about me and my skin is clear, my weight is kept in check effortlessly, I am in a permanent good mood and can pretty much deal with whatever life throws at me. When I don’t exercise I feel -and look! – exactly the opposite. Aside from actually having to get up and do it (at times!) there is no negative to exercising..

2. Your body always has the final word.
If you don’t respect your body it will come back and bite you – your body is the only home you have…so take care of it! Eat well, sleep well, drink lots of water and moderate your alcohol intake. You’re an idiot if you think you can abuse yourself and there will be no consequences. I have had 2 periods of illness in the last 6 months that knocked me off my feet and affected my training because I didn’t take care of myself and didn’t listen to my body. That won’t be happening again….!

3. You get what you pay for.
When it comes to the important things in life like chocolate, walking boots/mountain climbing kit, cars, houses or the recruitment of staff (sorry, couldn’t resist putting that last comment in) you really do get what you pay for. Understand what you need and spend whatever you have to in order to be ‘fit for purpose’. No-one wants to be up a mountain in temperatures as low as -30 wishing they were more comfortable.

4. You can’t go wrong with eyelash extensions.
Especially if someone will be taking pictures, I’m being serious…..!

5. Sometimes you just have to shut up and get on with it.
I have lost track of the amount of times that my personal trainer has set me a goal that I believe is impossible. I’ve sulked, cried and sworn at times in order to avoid something I don’t want to do……nothing works on Pete, I’ve tried everything!!! He’s made me work out my comfort zone, it hurts, but it feels amazing afterwards. My experience is that you can always do more than you think, your mind gives in before your body. Sometimes you just have to shut up and get on with it.

6. People are amazing
I have received so much help, love, kindness and support from both old and new friends…it’s blown me away. I’m not sure how I didn’t realise, or fully appreciate, the online and offline community around until now.

7. Don’t always be guided by other people.
Everyone has an opinion on everything, sometimes you just have to go with your own gut instinct. Your fear, and other people’s, can hold you back.

8. Out of a breakdown comes a break through
It’s hard to embrace the bad times but they are very often the platform for the next big thing in your life. Get through the rough patches believing that there are greater powers at work and you are heading in the direction of something amazing. Easy to say I appreciate, but in my experience it’s true.

9. Standing on top of a mountain is a great place to be
I don’t actually know this just yet, but I’m pretty sure it will be the most incredible (and cold) place in the world. Standing on top of Kilimanjaro as the sun comes up I think might just take some beating……I shall report back on that…!

Until tomorrow.

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10 days to go……where’s Sarah?!!

It’s not every day that someone offers to make you an iPhone application! I had a call on Friday from one of the geeks the Directors my good friends at Unity 5, the team there have been so impressed with my fundraising for Sparks and my forthcoming adventure that they offered to make me an application that could track my progress up Kilimanjaro!


Using web and GPS technologies the plan is that I will be able to send a text message that will update a ‘Where’s Sarah?!!’ website, plot my location on a map and feature my message. It will also update my twitter account.

Cool eh!

There will be no getting away from me! Sorry to anyone that thought they would get a break from the mountain talk when I actually left the country to fly to Tanzania next week!!

I am assuming it will be a bit ‘Google Maps-esque’ and you’ll be able to zoom in on a map of sorts and read and see things like this…..

Plotted Location: Kilimanjaro airport
Message: Just landed, I’m here – boy it’s hot!


Plotted Location: 18,500 ft up Mount Kilimanjaro
Message: It’s -15 and I’m tired from walking for hours. Cant wait to reach the summit, nearly there!

The Unity 5 team have set themselves quite a task, with only 10 days until I go they really will be coding against the clock. I shall keep you posted on their progress and look forward to introducing you to the ‘Where’s Sarah?!!” site very soon.

Big note to self: Remember to turn off the application on your return to the UK…or else inadvertent updates could well be looking like this.

Location: Number 9 Bar
Saturday night 8pm
Message: Celebratory Wine going down nicely, great to be back after my adventure!

Location: Q Club
Saturday night 11.45pm
Message: I think there is something wrong with these shoes, I keep loosing my balance?

Location: Ali’s Kebab House
Sunday morning 02.00
Message: knnewlkn jkldfoij sk ;wihebnh hhtoi

Look forward to catching up with you tomorrow!
S 🙂

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11 days to go….

I was due to be walking around Dartmoor with the rest of the Sparks Kilimanjaro team today, but unfortunately I had to pull out this morning. I have had to sacrifice a lot of time my with children in order to train over these last few months and with the trip so close and training more for fun as opposed for fitness I decided that if my 7 year old daughter was happy to come along we would go walking, if not then we would do something else today.

All day yesterday she was happy to go – her outfit was planned and walking boots were ready and I had confirmed we would meet the rest of the team in the car park at Manaton…….by 7 am Sunday morning she had completely changed her mind. Typical.

Team Sparks went walking round glorious Dartmoor today, without me!

I haven’t been feeling that well in the last few days so I was secretly pleased to be able to go back to sleep this morning. I’ve had a headache for a few days, which initially I put down to a bit of strrrreeeesssssss last week, however now I have a few gland ups and a general feeling of being ‘warm and unwell’. I am trying not to panic just yet and drinking as much fresh juice and eating lots of fruit and vegetables as is possible. The odd paracetamol and a liquid called Silver, which a friend gave me to boost my immune system. Fingers crossed I will soon be back to my normal self, I haven’t got time for this illness lark – I’ve got a mountain to climb!

Today’s mission was to sort out my medical kit.

Shopping list

Factor 50 Sunscreen/lipscreen

2 packs of wet wipes – there are no real facilities on the mountain as you can imagine. Aside from a bowl of water, all washing will be via wet wipes. (I am hoping the ‘no smell’ merino wool base layers I bought will be as good as their name – 6 days without a shower will be an interesting experience for team Sparks!)

Antibacterial hand gel

Earplugs – just in case I’m sharing a tent with a snorer!!

Imodium – with zero facilities on that mountain, you seriously don’t want a stomach upset. I bought 2 packs, just to be sure.

Paracetamol – headaches and altitude sickness go hand in hand

Ibuprofen – just to bring down any swellings from any potential injuries or to hit the headaches with a double whammy, in conjunction with the paracetamol!

Compeed plasters – if you have yet to discover these fabulous walkers plasters, get yourself down to Boots and buy some! You need never suffer with a blister again, they stay on your foot for days and offer some immense padding, so you can get those boots back on!! Whilst my walking boots are worn in I would imagine the odd hot spot is likely with 7 days of walking. I have stocked right up.

The king of ‘foot taping’ Peter Gold recommended I also buy zinc oxide tape, which I have. Must put ‘Ring Pete and ask how to tape up my feet again’ on my list of things to do this week.

Rehydration sachets – I can’t imagine how I will dehydrate when I am drinking 6 litres of water a day, but just incase….

Nailbrush – it’s so dusty on Kilimanjaro….and there is no way I want to be eating my dinner with vile fingernails.

I am a bit worried about not washing my hair for 6 days, am wondering whether I should even bother taking a mirror. Might be better to spare myself the full horror and leave the mirror behind?!

Until tomorrow…..

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12 days to go – and a bit of toilet humour..!

My training has practically stopped because I’m moving into that phase of getting ready for a big physical challenge where rest, eating well and sleeping are the most important things.

There isn’t a huge amount to tell you on the training front as I am maintaining my fitness right now, getting ready to taper next week. I’m physically in great shape and ‘definitely fit enough to climb that hill’ – my PT grins as he says that, knowing full well it winds me up.

Fundraising wise, I am utterly flabbergasted to tell you that I have raised over £3750. I can’t wait to tell you the final figure in the next few weeks. Of course I still have my speed dating event next week which will generate some more money for Sparks (Single? live near Exeter? Why don’t you join us…full details on my previous post ‘You Can’t hurry love’) and I am expecting some other cheques and donations from some business contacts – which is exciting!

What is happening now are my final preparations for my trip to Tanzania. I thought I would write a daily post about what I am up to and how I am feeling.

So here we are, diary entry 1 – 12 days to go….!

I have been somewhat stressed these last few days, with a notable headache since Thursday. The only feeling I can compare it to is the fear of going into labour. Part excited and part terrified of the unknown! Listening to other people’s experiences, whilst incredibly interesting, doesn’t help at times – phrases like ‘take vaseline with you because your nose and mouth with burn from where you have been gasping for oxygen’ do nothing to calm ones nerves or aid a good nights sleep.

I have to keep reminding myself that yes it’s going to be hard….but if Chris Moyles and Cheryl Cole can do it – then I can!!! Nicole, Regional Fundraiser for Sparks and friend, has climbed Kilimanjaro before and she’s doing it again…..so it can’t be that bad….can it!

This morning instead of going for a run I had a long walk with my daughter over the cliffs and along Exmouth beach. I am avoiding anything too explosive fitness wise to minimise the risk of injury. We then had a leisurely lunch with my best friend down at The Mexican – before heading into Exeter to buy a shewee – which has been todays mission.

What’s a shewee?! Well, it’s a plastic device that allows us girls to stand up and pee like a bloke – hence she-wee! Oh the dignity of climbing a mountain! You see as you climb higher up Kilimanjaro, there is less and less vegetation to the point where there are no bushes and limited boulders I’m told. Nothing to hide behind….and to be honest, even if there was do you really want to take off any more clothing than you need to in sub-zero temperatures.

On entering the shop, in a quiet voice, (a bit like when you buy tampons, condoms or cigarettes for the first time) I asked the male retail assistant for a shewee – he showed me the ‘normal version’ and then the version that comes in a pink case and with an extendable hose. ‘Ah the extreme version’ he said when I made my selection – ‘These are extreme circumstances’ I retorted. You might as well get the version with the hose, the last thing you want up a mountain that size and that cold are wet trousers I figure….

It’s currently in a box in the kitchen, the next mission today is to practice with it (in the shower the manufacturers suggest for obvious reasons!!) – I shall spare you any further gory details….!!

Aside from that, I shall be getting my big rucksack out the loft and starting to get ready to pack my kit. Normally my approach to packing is to cram as much as I can in the case and max out the allocated weight limit. In this instance, it’s about taking as little weight as you can whilst making sure you have what you need…..but then of course unlike the normal trips I take, I’m only taking one pair of shoes….my walking boots!! This is, indeed, an unusual trip in every respect!

Until tomorrow….
S 🙂

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Life’s too short

I was in a meeting last week with a candidate looking to return to employment after a period of absence, due to bereavement.

Following the death of his Father, Simon needed to care for his Mother and resolve the family finances. 9 months later here we were talking about his return to work.

It goes without saying that it had been a traumatic time for the family, the Father had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and within a matter of weeks had deteriorated from fit and active to bedridden.

His sudden illness meant that he would never get to go on the overseas trip he had planned in his head for years, and dreamt of for most his adult life, but had never taken. I’m guessing because he had a big family, a job and other commitments the holiday was always something that was put off to a later date.

Simon told me that his Fathers last words to him were ‘Son, don’t waste your life.’

Sounds like something out of a film doesn’t it.

What I took from Simon’s story, was a gentle reminder of something that we already know but overlook all the time….life’s too short. We all wander around putting off things until ‘tomorrow’ as though we have all the time in the world…..sorry to sound morbid…..but YOU don’t.

Chase the job, car, partner, house or adventures you’ve dreamed of and max out on the adventure that is being you.

Personally, I don’t want to be lying on my death-bed wishing I’d grabbed what I wanted when I had the chance – or – regretted wasting time on things that really don’t matter when I could be with people that do……do you?

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You can’t hurry love…..or can you?!!!

It struck me recently how many amazing, single, people I know. Don’t get me wrong, you married and co-habiting types are pretty cool too – but seriously, I look at some of my single friends and wonder why on earth they haven’t been snapped up.

Mel (she is going to kill me if she reads this) has already climbed Kilimanjaro, used to run a diving school, is gorgeous, intelligent and funny….and single.

Victoria (name changed to protect her identity, because she actually would kill me) cooks the most amazing brownies, is fit, is so funny she makes me laugh until I cry, has a great job and the most amazing eyes ever and is a HUGE catch……and is single.

Ben (doesn’t ‘get’ social media, so unlikely to read this) is utterly gorgeous, tall, dark and handsome, has a great job and likes to treat his girlfriend like a princesses…….how is this guy single?!

Peter (he’ll actually laugh that he’s been included if he sees this) local businessman that can’t do enough for people, attractive, funny, kind and into exercise big time. Your Mum would love him…..and he’s single.

I could go on, and on…..

They all ultimately want to meet someone special and enjoy a bit of romance…..so in the name of charity I am going to take matters into my own hands and see how many of you I can fix up with a new ‘love interest’ in time for Valentines Day!

With my fundraising hat firmly on, local friends I invite you to partake in Speed Dating – Sarah Style!

I have never personally been speed dating, but I have done some speed business networking (yes, really!!) in my day. So, loosely based on my experience and some much valued input from Oli Moore….this is the plan.

Thursday 27th January, 7pm, at Pitcher and Piano (top floor) in central Exeter.
Cost – a £10 donation to Sparks Charity.

Once we are all there, the ladies will sit at a numbered table.
Gentlemen, you will each sit infront of a lady and when I ring the bell the first time your 3 minute ‘date’ will start.
When I ring the bell for the second time it’s time to say your goodbyes and move onto the next table/lady.
We keep going until you have met everyone.
You will be able to take notes during the session and at the end, in total confidence, you willl be able to indicate who you would like to see again. If they say the same about you, you will be put in contact and who knows, it just might be the start of something special.

Worst case senario you would have spent a fun evening in the company of other local, single, professionals and helped raised some much needed funds for Sparks Childrens Charity, who fund research into diseases that affect children.

At the end of the event, my plan is very much to ‘hit the town’ and anyone who wants to join me is very welcome. Bring your dancing shoes!


1. This will be a classy event that, above all, will be fun.
2. I can’t be absolutely specific about the age range of the participants!
3. Everyone that is there will be single. Everyone is in the same boat.
4. There will not be ‘an audience’ – only participants!
5. This will be fun
6. My plan is to speak to each attendee in advance of the event to ensure that they are indeed single, so in an almost recruitment stylie – I have vetted the attendees to ensure a well matching group.
7. Have I mentioned how much fun this will be?!

At the time of writing I have already signed up a number of willing participants. Get in touch, I’m happy to talk it through with you and tell you more about my plans, and maybe a bit about some of the people that are already coming!

So, what do you reckon? Fancy coming along? Know anyone else that would? Please spread the word….

Until next time….

Sarah 🙂

P.S. The event needs to be pre-booked as I need to co-ordinate numbers carefully, please therefore visit http://www.justgiving.com/speed-dating (you can donate anon if you would prefer) or get in contact with me direct.

P.P.S I’m ringing the bell, although I might just change my mind nearer the time and get involved myself. Who knows…! 😉

Contact details for me: 07974 576362 / sarah@sarahwestrecruit.co.uk / @sarknight – or indeed you can leave a comment on this blog!

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