Super Support from the Queens of Flapjack!

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WARNING: this post contains copious amounts of made-up adjectives, excessive exclamation marks and gratuitous flapjack photography!!

I am totally flapperjacked to announce the wonderful squishy hearted folk at Flapjackery are as super amazing as their scrumilicious flapjacks and will be supporting me in my Running the Summits quest.  As many of you know,  flapjack is my go-to fuel of choice so I am very excited to be powered by some the absolutely finest flapjack in the country, nay,  the world! ( I have tested a LOT of flapjack…..(Ellen Cattanach and Val Allport- your homemade flapjacks are still totally brilliant!))

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I discovered my new gurus at the inaugural National Running Show at the NEC in January (tickets are now on sale for 2019!) , but heartbreakingly never got to taste their oatilicious wares as no sooner had the show opened than the entire weekend’s stash of gooey, chewy, flapjack goodness had been snaffled by avid runner fans of the mighty oat! But Flapjackery were not to be beaten, travelling a late night round trip from Birmingham to Tavistock on the edge of Dartmoor back to their kitchen to stock up with a new batch for runners at the second day of the show where remarkably, once again, just a few oaty crumbs remained by the time I made it through the crowds to their stand!

 

Discovering that runners would happily wade their way through a soggy 10k bog run to get their hands on these proper lush treats, Flapjackery recently had a record weekend fuelling runners and visitors at the 2018 London Marathon Expo.

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Flapjackery founders Carol and Sally, both passionate about flapjack (totally understandable!)  took an idea 6 years ago and really ran with it. In their own words…

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We take the humble oat and raise it to a luxury level by adding top quality ingredients and a dash of madness to create our range of luxury Devon flapjacks in interesting flavours in huge chunky pieces, with a range suitable for vegans and lactose intolerant now available. British oats, locally sourced West Country butter and fairtrade brown sugar are some of the reasons our flapjacks taste so good.

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What’s not to love?good, wholesome, nutritious and lovingly made ‘real food’ fuel – perfect for outdoor adventures!

I will be chomping away on a piece of Flapjackery heaven on every mountain summit, I’d love you to join me though I’m not sure if I’ll be willing to share😁

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Now, if you are thinking…

‘Where can I get my hands on these flapjacks of irresistibleness?’

as…obviously, you must be,

check out the Flapjackery website. You can try these uberlush treats for yourself by ordering online or they may be attending a show or exhibition near you soon!

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But don’t just take my word for it…reviews of Flapjackery flapjacks are full of words like    ‘WOW’  ‘AMAZING’  ‘GORGEOUS’  ‘IRRESISTIBLE’.

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Sorry, but I am all out of mouth watering flapjack photos for now but listen out for the next adventure on this Mountain climbing, downhill windmilling arms, running madness challenge as the time gets closer to start…..Running the Summits!

 

P.S. SSShhhhhh…..nobody tell Patch about the flapjack!

 

My #RunningtheSummits Challenge is raising funds for the Mountain Rescue Teams of England and Wales, The Search & Rescue Dog Association England and Fix the Fells. Please support their incredible, selfless work via my fundraising page at VirginMoneyGiving.com

 

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Introducing Running the Summits!

So….one or two people have been asking me

“what’s your next challenge?

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Well, I cant deny I had been thinking about a few ideas for a new, challenging adventure. The #3PeAksRun was a run into the unknown in the sense that i had no idea if my body would hold up to such intense multi day running and, indeed, just two days in I was almost convinced that it wouldn’t. But one of the points of this challenge was to push myself to see if I could go beyond what I thought I could do. More than one person suggested that I couldn’t pull it off but we never know what we are capable of unless we give it a go.

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With that in mind I plan to attempt a bigger, tougher trial by mountain starting in 2018 –

Running the Summits –A jog over 1000 Mountains of the British Isles in 365 Days

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It’s quite a leap from 3 mountains to 1000 so this will be a real monster of a challenge and I dont mind admitting I’m trying to construtively channel the fear on this one. Our diminutive mountains may lack a little in stature but they certainly pack the punch of far loftier peaks in terms of challenge. Even in summer conditions our mountains can possess huge difficulties with terrain, weather conditions and navigation. When I summited each of the 3PeAks, the conditions were far from ‘summery’, each one shrouded in mist and cloud and I struggled through poor visibility, high winds, rain and hail – imagine that 1000 times!

With this new adventure I hope to raise further funds for the phenomenal work of our Mountain Rescue Teams and Search and Rescue Dog Association England as well as the double award winning volunteer manned charity, Fix the Fells. Though Mountain Rescue Team members would never refer to themselves as heroes the work they do must certainly be described as heroic not to mention the huge amount of commitment and sacrifice they make and the unwavering support from their families, friends and colleagues in order for them to carry out this work, and all for no financial reward. These highly skilled volunteers involved in Search and Rescue are called to a myriad of situations – lost, injured or disoriented walkers, climbers or runners, school groups, missing children, vulnerable people suffering from mental illness and depression, avalanche victims, flood or weather related rescue or downed aircraft to name but a few and the teams are receiving more callouts every year!

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What can YOU do to help?
Support my mountainous challenge by donating to these charities at

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Vicariously share the journey with me 

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If you are more social media savvy than me (not difficult) please retweet and share as much as you can

If you would like to climb a mountain with me please

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SEND FLAPJACK!!

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I look forward to seeing you on the trail ( virtual or actual👍)
Tina and TrailDog Patch 😁 👣🐾

 

Paws on the Moors

20170723_153937So, after dragging a spade up a mountain with the intrepid Fix the Fells crew what new adventures could be in store on a weekend with Search and Rescue Dog Association, SARDA England? Well, a good bit of rolling about in the bracken as it turned out!!

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Brrrr….glad I joined a summer training meet!

Eager to learn about the work of SARDA England I recently joined the team on a National Training meet in the beautiful countryside of Northumberland. And if I thought it was a long journey from the Lancashire coast, spare a thought for the Dartmoor team who travelled all the way from Plymouth! But commitment and dedication knows no bounds to this (in their own words) eclectic, ‘dog mad’ group who are all unpaid volunteers, giving their time and courage to help others who become lost, injured, trapped or go missing.

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Exuberant young Search Dog, Angus kept us all on our toes

As a National Training meet, there were many handlers and dogs from all over the country and all at various stages of their training – from puppies starting out their journey with obedience training and socialising to graded, operational dogs keeping their skills refreshed. Making the grade as a Search Dog is a long process with a lot of work, but one which is thoroughly enjoyed by dogs, handlers and trainers alike. Though not without frustrating moments – one young dog fluffed a skills test when the examiners were watching but then went on to complete it perfectly when the score sheets were put aside! I’m sure we can all relate! But that is what these weekends are all about – an opportunity to learn and practise in new and different environments, share information and knowledge, as well as the opportunity for a good catchup with fellow SARDA members over a pint at the local pub.

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Search Dog Shola keen to show off her skills

The social scene was fantastic. Accommodations were ‘back to basics’ with team members laying out sleeping bags on the floor of the village hall, pitching tents on the front lawn or sharing a campervan with a lively collie or two. We patiently queued for the showers each day with towels and toothbrushes in hand. No airs and graces here! Each morning there was a bustle of brews and bacon butties aplenty kindly cooked up by Val, Brian, Kath and Ian to get everyone’s day off to a great start. Then there was a quick team brief before ‘deployment’ to the hills for the various training activities.

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Search Dogs train for around two years before reaching operational status and there are no guarantees. A handler must have already been a fully trained and operational member of a Mountain Rescue Team for a minimum of a year before beginning the process of training with their dog and it is recommended to start at the puppy stage as some of the obedience training is specific to Search and Rescue work and the pups also have to quickly learn to quell their interest in livestock – not good practice on a live search for the dog to go hareing off after a sheep! A ‘stock test’ is one of the first assessments they will have.

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Early training days…

Then follows several stages of training and assessment to develop the skills required to be an effective Search Dog, and its not just about the dogs – handlers learn many skills relating to how to determine search areas and carry out effective searches as well as how train and get the best from their dog – this is totally a team effort!

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Handlers Ian, Mark, Paul, John and Bill with newly graded Search Dogs Ollie, Abbie, Flo, Shola and Angus

It is a huge commitment and prospective handlers also have to accept the fact that not all dogs make the grade. Some might not be suited to the work, not retain enough interest or simply not reach the standard required to pass the final assessment and these guys accept that its possible their dog might not become a working colleague but simply remain a loyal and faithful friend. And the team are certainly mad about their dogs! No where else have I witnessed 6 foot plus, burly men leaping about in the undergrowth and whooping like a child to reward their hard working four legged friends!

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Young trainee Wynn taking a breather

Training involves alot of ‘play’ for dogs and handlers alike. SARDA trainers explain..

All of our training is undertaken with praise and rewards for the dog. Some are happy to work for their squeaky toy while others prefer food!

The training encourages the dogs hunting instinct and they use ‘air scenting’ to find their ‘prey’ i.e. a prone human. No matter how much you scrub in the shower with YlangYlang and Jojoba or douse on the aftershave a dog can detect your human scent (almost literally) a mile away. Depending on the breed they can smell up to 100,000 times more effectively than we can, can pick up scents 14 metres underground and can even smell human fingerprints that are a week old. That said, after Saturday nights’ barbecue I think the dogs were most enjoying the smell of sausages and steak that was eminating from everyone’s pores!

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Search Dog Tess has just picked up the scent of last nights sausages!

Of course,  for all this searching to be successful the dogs need somebody to find and this is where the kind, volunteer ‘dogsbodies’ come in. And on Sunday morning  I was excited to get a opportunity to join in. Suitably lathered up in Avon ‘Skin so Soft’ to keep those pesky midges at bay, four of us ‘bodies’ were led to our individual hiding places in the woods. I struck gold as my patch was right next to a huge covering of wild bilberry so I had a fresh fruit buffet on tap. Shuffling down into my bivvy bag and camouflaging myself with bits of bracken I was also happy to discover that the forest floor was extremely comfortable. The trainers kept us informed via radio as to what was happening and as each dog began its test we were all routing for them to do well. As a dogsbody your simple task is to shuffle down into the undergrowth, blend in behind a rock or maybe perch up a tree if you are blessed with that kind of agility, and then wait. There can indeed be a good bit of waiting so some snacks, a hot flask and a book of crosswords might come in handy. As a respite from all the relaxing in your bivvy with a good book, every so often one of the dogs will find you, perhaps letting you know with a sloppy lick, then ‘indicating’ to their handler and leading them to your position. If the dog is still in the earlier stages of training then its your job to make a big fuss ( you are in fact, highly encouraged to ‘ham’ up this part as much as physically possible!) and reward your ‘rescuer’ with his or her favourite toy, for which they go completely bonkers….and I mean, seriously, bonkers.  ( Not disimilar to my own reaction when unexpectedly faced with a giant slice of cake….for example)

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Dogsbody John having a tug of war game with Search Dog Blitz

The role of a ‘Body’ is invaluable to the training and volunteers are often found amongst family, friends and potential handlers but there’s always a need for fresh dogsbodies. No specific skills are required, perhaps a penchant for playing hide and seek and a willingness to leap about, play tug of war with exuberant canines and generally make a bit of a fool of yourself. A DogsBodies’ safety is paramount and you are issued with a radio to keep in contact with trainers who will allocate and monitor your position and even keep a tag with your name on to make doubly sure no one gets left behind when the hide and seek is up! If this sounds much more like the kind of weekend activity you’d like to have a bash at every month or so instead of wandering around Sainsburys complaining about the price of bananas yet again check out the link below for more info and how to get involved.

 

At the end of a long day in the outdoors there is always time for some well earned R&R in the local pub while the dogs take a nap back at base, dreaming about their favourite toy, no doubt. Handlers, trainers and dogsbodies alike certainly enjoy a lively bit of banter and story swapping.

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Search Dog ‘Ollie the Collie’ taking his preferred style of chill out time

This kick back time is also very important I think as the work they do can be very demanding and stressful at times and yet, outside all the tall tales of training mishaps the team are very modest about what they do and the people they have helped in live search situations.

I was very privileged to be able spend time with these amazing folk and their dogs. It was a fantastic weekend with lots going on and plenty of laughs. They were a super positive and welcoming crowd who had me very quickly initiated into leaping through the heather, calling and waving chew toys over my head without self conciousness (well, not too much, anyway)! The dedication of the team is also very inspiring. There is a lot of work involved, not only through the training but also after becoming operational. Being on call at all hours of the day and night, going out on a search in sometimes very harsh conditions as well as keeping the dogs skills and fitness up is all in addition to the regular daily responsibilities of work and family life for these generous individuals who recieve no income for their commitment and sacrifice. These people are truly passionate about what they do and I applaude them all. Please, please support them by donating a little at Sponsor 3PeAksRun

Search Dogs can be used in many situations and quite often in urban environments to locate vunerable or elderly people with mental health difficulties, or people who have gone missing in emotional circumstances. You never know when you or a family member may need their help.

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Handler Bill Batson with experienced Search Dog, Glenn

At SARDA England there are currently 33 graded dogs and handlers on the callout list and a further 15 in training with 20 supporting dogsbodies. Please help me support their selfless work by sponsoring my 3PeAksRun at virginmoneygiving.com/3PeAksRun.

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If you are curious about becoming a dogsbody find out more at SARDA Dogsbodies  # getinvolved 

 

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this blog. Happy trails😁 And dont forget… #getoutside

See you soon👣