Crossing the Irish sea in a kayak was a mad idea. But it wasn’t entirely up to me. Obviously I had the essential help of Mike Alexander, but there was someone else involved too.

I could never have imagined the mad things that have happened to me on this journey. The blisters on the soles of my feet were so painful at the beginning that when I had finished my day’s walk I would have to sit down with my feet up for the rest of the day until bedtime and I could hardly put pressure on my feet. That pulsing pain! Walking on my heels! When I put the shoes back on next morning though, I had made that choice again; I had accepted the challenge and I knew the pain would become bearable within the first hour of the walk.

Had I known beforehand that this would happen and so early on in the journey, I would have been fearful setting off. It is difficult enough knowing that a day of discomfort and a certain amount of pain is ahead of me at the beginning of each blistery walk.

No matter how unpleasant it gets I still manage to enjoy myself, to accept my lot and get on with it. I had my moments of “people must think I’m mad for doing this” and “I should really be giving up now, like any sane person would”. But then I get over myself and look at what’s actually happening and what’s possible.

My sister helped get me into this mess and, even though she had died she was partly responsible for what was happening. When I thought about this early on I chuckled to myself but it kept me going. It helped me trust that it would always be ok for me. This allowed me to become really close to Aoife but in a different way than when she was alive.

Imagine you are in a tough situation and when you think about a person you really love; your child, your parent, partner, best friend or grandma; whoever. Your thoughts are of a person who may be alive, but the result is the same. They are keeping you going, they are inspiring you. It’s the feeling you get that counts, whether that person is around or not. I get loads of strength when I think about my wife and daughter, my parents and sisters, all there behind me. It’s the same thing with my other sister, Aoife.

It’s great to think that Aoife is there with me; laughing at me as I hobble along like a lunatic, pushing me in the toughest hours of the kayaking challenge, helping me make the decision to continue when I’d just had the stress fracture confirmed.

It’s sad that she’s not actually doing it with me, but because of her condition she never could have. So this is perfect!

Thanks Aoife.


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