On the 31st July 2014 I was diagnosed with Young Onset Dementia. I may not have much of a short term memory anymore but that date is one I’ll never forget.
I’m 58 years young, live happily alone in Yorkshire, have 2 daughters and I’m currently still in full time employment in the NHS. However, I’m now in the process of taking early retirement to give me a chance of enjoying life while I’m still me. I've started this blog to allow me, in the first instance, to write all my thoughts before they’re lost. If anyone chooses to follow my ramblings it will serve as a way of raising awareness on the lack of research into Alzheimer's. It will hopefully convey the helplessness of those diagnosed with dementia, as there is no cure – the end is inevitable. However, I’m also hoping I can convey that, although we've been diagnosed, people like me still have a substantial contribution to make; we still have a sense of humour; we sill have feelings. I’m hoping to show the reality of trying to cope on a day to day basis with the ever-changing environment that dementia throws at those diagnosed with the condition.
What I want is not sympathy. What I want is simply to raise awareness.
View all posts by wendy7713 →
Some people enter your life, and no matter how long time has elapsed since seeing them last, it’s always like you were never apart. My two dear friends Chris and Jayne are two such people
They were into camper vans long before they became fashionable and had been staying on the nearby east coast. I had a txt from them the night before asking if I was busy the following day, Saturday….well no matter what I’d have been doing, I would have cancelled it.
I’d felt lost from the moment I’d woken on Saturday. I’d sat on the stairs after getting dressed, trying to work out what to do next. I had my camera in my hand but my head was blank, as though a dark cloud was passing over obliterating all logical thought. As soon as I stood up and moved, I promptly slipped my way down the stairs. Slightly battered and bruised, I rubbed my back while checking my camera, but it looked ok 🥵…..I turned back and went up the stairs to start the day again….
As I lay on my bed with a cuppa tea, my morning games starting to lift the cloud, I suddenly thought I’d go to town early, then Jayne and Chris can arrive whenever suits them as they had the long trip back to Wales……I looked at my photos from the day before just to check I hadn’t been to town already 🙄 but I hadn’t.
I’d gone fungi hunting the day before and was pleased with myself for finding as many as I did, but these were my favourite
Lots of tiny delicate umbrellas for even tinier fairies to shelter under……
Luckily Jayne and Chris were due around lunchtime so I set off to walk into town with the purpose of coming back on the first bus of the day at 10 past 10……
I felt I’d left my sparkle at home and was conscious of walking slower than usual
But I managed to get back home as planned….I pottered around in the garden, feeling the need to be outside in the fresh air instead of closed inside.
As midday approached I had a message from Jayne to say traffic was bad and sat nav said 20 minutes. Two minutes later, I had another message to say:
“It lied, we’re here” 🤣
I trundled down the Main Street looking for their cream and champagne coloured motorhome, which they’d managed to park near the duck pond……there was Chris sorting the dogs out for a comfort wander and suddenly it was like it was only yesterday since I last saw them.
A Chris hug is like no other and it felt quite emotional seeing them both stood in front of me. For some reason, I’d thought I”d never see them again, yet here they were.
We sat inside their cosy camper van and suddenly all was right in the world
We chatted, put the world to rights, laughed and chatted more
Their two adorable dogs sat taking it all in…..
…..every now and then, appearing from under the table for a cuddle
As I looked round their compact home, I could see why they loved it so much, especially Chris. Everything in the same place, all within touching distance, all cosy and warm. No wonder Chris even spends time in there even when it’s parked at home.
I didn’t want their visit to end. I could have chatted all day to these two wonderful people, but needs must…..but another photo
We said our farewells by taking the dogs for a walk to the pond ……even Teresa Terrapin had made a special appearance for them…….
and we sat, just for a few more moments before going back to the van.
One precious hour in the company of friends
And they were gone………
Chris is living with dementia and calls his wife Jayne his logistics manager (🤔 mmmm I’m sure it’s something different but those words popped into my head 🙄). Some years ago they made the brilliant Panorama programme, which if you didn’t watch it…….you missed something truly brilliant. Can’t seem to find a link anymore, which is a bit tragic, but maybe if you search better than me you’ll be able to find a copy…….
I havn’t managed to get to Blackpool this year. My childhood was lived here, in fact I suppose it was my childhood paradise. But what I miss the most, is a ride on one of their iconic trams……..the film at the end was my era. In fact from the late 1950’s right through the 60’s and probably beyond……..
Metal on metal as they rattle along the prom
My favourite mode of transport, the classic Blackpool tram
As a child I’d marvel at these magical machines
Sat upstairs, my nose pressed against the screen
‘Hold tight’, ‘Tickets please’
The cry would come
A beaming smile, ‘Where to me duck?’
‘Pleasure Beach please’..’well tha’s in luck’
The candy floss, the donkeys, arcades whizzing past
Central pier, Manchester square, the tram was packed
Waterloo Road, South Pier, and always the sea
My finger poised, ‘ding ding’, ‘next stop please!’
As I watched it set off to Starr Gate, its’ end
I knew it would turn around and come straight back again
I could spend all day going up and down the prom
On my favourite mode of transport, the old Blackpool tram
Well the day after yesterdays blog of trundling with Pip, Sarah and Scooby, I was in definite winter mode. I’d woken again at 5am , showered, dressed and waited for the sun to rise…🙄
I decided to change my linen for winter snuggly linen and had the washing on by 6am and it was still dark 🤣
As soon as I’d gone through my morning routine I was out of the door – just before 7am. It was a lovely gentle sunrise
Not ‘WOW’ stunning colours, just gentle and glowing.
I went up passed the church where an enormous mushroom had suddenly appeared……
and along the back lane and it was beginning to fade already
I lost count of how many flocks of geese flew over
I always imagine them with tiny suitcases under their wings 🤣
I went behind the playing field and into the little copse where more fungi were clearly visible on the trees
Pip had said that the fungi season was starting on our walk the day before…..
Through the houses and to the pond, the ducks had gathered en mass for their morning feed from Simon
Whether it was my imagination or not, but the Mandarin ducks colours seemed even more vibrant as it puffed its chest out to ward off other ducks from its pure white mate
We have 2 male mandarins but the other one is more subtle, less showy but still beautiful
Yet more geese flew overhead as I trundled up the high street
I’d delivered some calendars the day before to a street off the main road and some lace capped hydrangea had caught my eye and it was seeing the giant teacup in someone’s garden
That reminded me they were close by
Up round the back of the village and my final photo from the mirage lane, I took because it reminded me of a heart filling with blood for some reason…..
The rest of the morning was taken up with Sarah. I was showing here how to plant bulb sandwiches in the troughs at the back of her house. Tulips at the bottom, then miniature daffodils next, followed by giant yellow crocuses and finally snowdrops on the top layer. A succession of spring bulbs will in theory flower from February onwards…..to have some colour while we’re waiting for spring was provided by cyclamen…..one of my favourite winter flowers
Back home again and a final trundle of the day, as it was so unseasonably warm. Even Teresa Terrapin had come back out – I thought we’d seen the last of her until next summer
I’d taken some food for the ducks and as they saw me they all flew my way
Feed over, one last visit to the church yard and I spotted a squirrel also getting into winter mode, eating a few nuts but also burying a few, ready for winter when supplies are scarce…..
One of those lovely days that makes you glad to be able to trundle….
In between my trips to the Isle of Lewis and Keswick (yes I know I’m verrrry lucky )…..I had a few days at home and this is when I wrote the next couple of blogs…….
I was still on a high and hadn’t come down from my cloud of Lewis. It felt like autumn had set in since I’d been away and the mornings were chilly. However, what was also evident is that my body had switched to winter mode…..my diet had changed over the last few weeks into hot food and I was waking very early and going out for my morning walk earlier than of late. This particular day certainly showed that change……
I was awake at 5am, really awake, suddenly wide awake so had to get up and have my shower as usual. It was still dark outside as I pulled back the curtains. I went into my usual routine of solitaire and all the other games I play on a daily basis to either wake up my brain or confirm that it’s a dodgy day 🙄….but today was ok…….
I kept looking up at my window to see if the day had dawned yet and as soon as there was a glimpse of light I was out of the door…out of the door…I went a different way round the village as we’d had torrential rain and all my fields were one big mud and puddle plain….but through the trees I spied the sunrise sky
Two minutes later and the sky was grey……..everywhere was so peaceful and quiet and even as daylight came the street were empty
We have our Shetland ponies back in their field for the winter. They only came back a week or so ago and everyone had said how much we missed them, children and adults alike
It even looked like they’d only just woken
Perhaps I’m the only one so far in winter mode……..as I trundle back home even before the school busses had arrived….
Pip had messaged me the day before and we’d arranged to go out for a catch up in the afternoon with her sister Sarah and of course Scooby the dog. I was desparate to tell them about my adventure – or more likely desparate to tell anyone 🤣….but I knew they’d appreciate it….
They picked me up as promised and took me on a mystery tour….me and Scooby sharing the passenger seat
We only drove a short way, but I didn’t have a clue where we were. We pulled up alongside a little lane
We couldn’t believe how the sky had changed from the grey we’d just left to sunshine blue. We ambled along the way me jibberjabbering away relating all the things I’d seen and done – I must have driven them crazy 🤣…..
We came upon a vineyard which I never knew existed – Wolds vineyard –
It’s also a wedding venue apparently so a huge permanent marquee stood in the grounds
Scooby always leading the way, turning round every so often to make sure we were altogether. And the sky was soooo summery blue
Scooby just doesn’t like people separating and tries to herd us back together again 🤣…😍
Down and through a gate it led us into the most wonderful valley
With sheep on the hillside, obviously very used to the humans trundling by
We’d seen a host of birds – bull finches, goldfinches, all flying around in groups from one tree to the next, far too quick for me to get a piccie…..and then an owl hooted its call 😳…we looked at one another …..could it get any better?
Well actually, yes, because next in the sky were red kites circling above. I took hundred of photos but couldn’t keep the camera still enough to get a sharp photo
They flew above us for what seemed like ages.
And then buzzards appeared, we just didn’t know where to look….
A field which had the remains of sunflowers was below us
And as we carried on snaking around the path, the sheep kindly moved out of the way and posed on the bank
Eventually we came into a wood – Pip hunting for fungi
I would have missed them totally if they hadn’t pointed them out 🙄 they just blended into the ground beneath them….
We were trundling along an old railway track and they’d already said they had something amazing to show me……😳…..but then we came upon a gate and a fence right across the pathway. It had us inviting barbed wire placed all around it 😔…..some land owners seem to take great pleasure in blocking, what was, a public footpath😔 and that put paid to me seeing their surprise – it was an old railway tunnel which is the home to hundreds of bats……
Back up through the wood, the light was magical
It often feels a waste to go into a wood when the sky is blue and the sun is shining but the dappled light is equally beautiful
We reached the sign again which had pointed the way
And it was time to retrace our steps
Scooby once more ignoring the sheep and herding us towards home 🤣
Passing by the sheep once more
And back into the lane, where the birds were still singing and chasing each other around…..AND being too fast for my camera 🤣
We all needed space this afternoon and the Pip certainly found that for us all. It was one of those trundles where nature put on a wonderful display
And off home we went…..me and scooby sharing the front seat once more…
Well after yesterdays feeling out of my comfort zone, I knew today I’d be right at home as it was my monthly visit to Minds and Voices…….a new couple had emailed me asking if they could come along and I always love meeting new playmates……
It’s that time of year when the mornings are dark. The clocks havn’t gone back yet, so it’ll be getting even darker for longer soon. But it was dark as I got up and showered ready for my 07.25 taxi pick up. I was taking calendars again as I hadn’t taken enough last time. I’m fast running out and don’t think I’ll be ordering any more. I’ve already ordered an extra 100 to the original amount and its them that are now nearing the end. My lovely village shop agreed to start selling them for me last week to make it easier for some villagers to get hold of one.
I was going through the village Facebook page when I saw this wonderful piccie
The caption read……
“The lads thought it might be a nice idea to sleep under the stars in there Yorkshire tea tents with tea bag pillows 😂”
One of the villagers always makes us chuckle as he sets up action men in different situations and I thought this one was priceless…..I even put it on Twitter for Yorkshire Tea to see and they replied saying “They approve” 😂…
Anyway…..I was so snug going through my morning routine that I didn’t leave myself enough time to get my stuff ready. Before I knew it, the txt alert came through to say my taxi was outside 😳….then my tizz started, rushing around getting absolutely nowhere 🙄…..coat, bag, stick, outside, back inside, mask, back outside, not quite knowing if I was coming or going 🥴….I’m just not used to early morning starts of having ‘to do’……
Dropping me off in Saturday market, I finally had time to amble and take piccies to get me back on track
The flower boxes near the bus station had been newly planted with winter pansies, one of my favourite simple flowers
I always think they have individual faces. I’ve thought this since a child as I watched the seed pods open and the tiny seeds scatter out ready for new plants the following year
I always think back to those times when I see pansies and always have them in my garden…
Not long to wait before the bus arrived and we were on our way. It was a very misty murky ride over the wolds – I wished the bus windows had been cleaner as it would have made nice photos, but sadly not today…
I suddenly became overwhelmingly tired and needed to close my eyes……I sat there trying to think what that was all about and realised it was the after effects of yesterdays talk suddenly catching up on me……it can be so exhausting having dementia 🙈……
Once in York, I trundled through this ancient city. so many of the churches have unusual towers like this one
Crossing Lendl Bridge, the rowers were either just setting up or just having finished 🤔
I felt a bit ‘not quite with it’ as Damian and Monica picked me up outside the station and needed a few minutes to get back down to planet earth. Damian had calming music playing in the car which was wonderful.
As we arrived, Anna was already there getting things under way. We were expecting yet more new lovely people, so today, for the first time, we planned to split into people living with dementia group and a supporters group. We’ve never had to do this before and it will seem strange to some. However it will be soooo beneficial for everyone.
People started to wander in, hugs, kisses and laughter suddenly filled the room…..😍
By the end people had all arrived………we were bigger than we’d EVER been
It was soooo lovely to meet so many new people….but it was quite overwhelming!!
After the half an hour of faffing we went our separate ways – people living with dementia in one room in a circle where hopefully people could hear better.
I asked if we could find out about ‘hearing loops’ that you see about in some places. Havn’t a clue what they are but they might be useful for some as it’s a very echoey room…….
And supporters in another room
I actually think we were still too large to make it possible for everyone to hear and feel part of the discussion. We needed two or even 3 groups to allow the quieter ones to feel at home and confident……me thinks we need to get our thinking caps on as to what can be done….a lovely problem to have though!
Our resident friend and artist Alun Kirby came and sat with us…..
We were handed round a leaflet from Older Citizens York, to see what we thought….the only thing we didn’t like was the italics in the speech bubbles – they were too hard to read. Hopefully they’ve asked us BEFORE they’ve gone out….🙄
We then moved onto our research “Living Alone versus Living as a couple”…..we were one of several groups funded by the National Lottery…..we wanted to inform Gp’s and other healthcare professionals what they needed to ask people as both those living alone and those in a relationship have different needs…….our research was received really well by the Lottery people. we just need the same to happen in the medical world….
Alun then told us he is hopubf to do a piece of work with us before he goes to New Zealand……capturing our thoughts on the value of Minds and Voices and what it means to us. Over the last 3 years he’s been writing down when we say something about the value of peer support. From these quotes he’ll create a piece of work that will hopefully be displayed in the library.⭐️
Then we spoke about our course – A Good Life with Dementia course –created and delivered by people living with dementia to those newly diagnosed……. head of Yorks mental health older peoples department has asked for costings for us to run a couple of courses here in York…..which may mean they actually refer people this time…..so that’s brilliant news.
Damian then talked about arranging a jolly to Beverley! Me and Bob helped deliver the Good Life Course to people in East Riding and those people are now meeting regularly just like us, so we thought it’d be a good idea to meet up with them in Beverley. Well that’s fine for me as I’ll be able to walk there!!
It was at this point where there seemed to be a natural break for lunch…..and also time for me to go. The rain falling outside took me by total surprise but the bus soon arrived. Umbrellas were up everywhere, even on the pleasure boats as they passed under the whirlpool bridge
Even I found it difficult today and almost fell asleep on the bus 😳….luckily the windscreen wipers brought me back to the land of the living.
A short wait in Beverley and my village bus pulled in…..cold and tired, I was ready for a cuppa which is just what I did as soon as I got in……..trawling through my emails and trying to catch up on the day, I noticed one email stand out……someone had emailed asking for 10 calendars 😳….and emailed back to check it wasn’t a typo…..but the response came back that yes, if I have them they’d like 10 to send instead of Christmas cards ☺️……how wonderfully generous and kind is that ☺️ and it now means my stocks are diminishing quickly as I’m nearing the end of my last box…..😇
I don’t think I’ve ever typed those words before 😳….
I’ve often visited our village church but only to take photos of the lovely rainbows the sun casts through the stained glass window. I hadn’t realised when choosing the photos that the church actually features three times in my calendar, with January snow, May blossom
And the other for November
Maybe this was why our local vicar, David, messaged me to ask if I’d give a talk at the Harvest Festival service on how I came to create the calendar…..🤔 as I’ve never been a church goer. In fact, I think I’ve only ever been in a church for a service once and that was either a funeral or a wedding. But I do love all the old hymns and especially carols that we used to sing at school each morning……
Anyway….it wasn’t until 4 o’clock and the morning had been very mizzly, but people were still out for their Sunday morning walk……I spied this lady on an electric trycicle which looked great fun and perfect for me 🤔…although I just know I’d miss my walking…..
On this grey and miserable day…I even had the light on at one point 🥴…I needed some colour and company, so off I trundle to see the ducks, always pleased to see me carrying food 😂
The Mandarin provided me with the colour
…..but I needed more…Thankfully the weather brightened up in the afternoon, so I went up to the village allotment to see if anyone was around…a woman was just leaving and about to lock up. She must have seen the look of disappointment on my face as she suddenly said she’d leave it open as now the sun has come out, others will arrive. As she was saying those words another car came along the track so I was able to have a wander round. Lots of beautiful bright colourful flowers
And more round the corner
Even the veg were colourful
After my fix of colour, I looked at my watch and decided I needed to get a wiggle on as it was almost time for the harvest festival…..
I didn’t know what to expect, the only comparison I had was to my school days when we took in a potato or can of something 🙄…..
As I trundled up Church Walk, Ginger biscuit and pals who live next to the church was busy waiting in the hope that someone would be bringing him some carrots
The church door was open, as it always is from dawn to dusk..
Inside people were already there and in their seats. David came to meet me. He’d asked me to bring some calendars and took my bag from me. I think some of the faces were familiar, but it felt like all eyes were on me so I hastily sat in an empty pew. Thankfully I knew all the hymns from school, so that made me feel more relaxed.
The service began and I tried my best to follow what was happening. Part way through, David asked me to join him and we sat on seats at the front. He simply asked:
“Why do you do what you do?”
I then rambled. I think or imagine I said how I’d been diagnosed with dementia in 2014 and how this village had become very special. I have no control over what I’ve lost and no control over the future, so instead, live in the moment. The calendar I put together was my way of saying thank you to everyone for making me feel safe trundling around the paths and lanes of the village. During lockdown, my camera and the village gave me a purpose and my way of saying thank you was to share the proceeds of the sales between village groups and my dementia support group, Minds and Voices.
Then David said that if people had brought money with them today, not to give it to the church, but to buy a calendar. They were so kind in their comments as they came up to buy one and it was all rather overwhelming. So to calm me down, I took a simple piccie…
As I lay settling down last night, my curtains opened, I suddenly saw a rock a bye baby moon shining bright in the sky…….for some bizarre reason I don’t ever remember seeing the moon in Keswick……
After a weird night of dreams of football and keys 😳…..I woke early again but simply watched the daylight appear from my window; a pink tinge in the sky as daybreak arrived
As I sat in the breakfast room looking out of the window, Catherine suddenly appeared to see if everything was ok and suddenly announced:
“Oooh I’ve given you a normal person’s plate”…….well we fell about laughing. What she meant was she’d given me a white plate instead of the normal coloured plate. She never knows what colour tablecloth they’ll choose so always gives me a coloured plate that will go with anything in case she chooses white. Luckily this morning I hadn’t noticed as the tablecloth was green so all was well and my plate was cleared 🤣…..”Good job you know me” was her departing comment…🤣…now you know why I choose Appletrees…..
It was forecast to be a cloudy but dry day so I decided after breakfast, to go on the railway walk and then onto Castlerigg stones…
It felt cooler than the day before, a definite autumn chill in the air. I’m so lucky as Keswick was on the news the night before as they’d had the most rain than anywhere else in the UK during September – hence why the lake was so high. But I had lovely weather when I came in September according to my blog, and again this time…😇
As I trundled along the Headlands, the sun was trying to shine and there was a spooky cross in the sky next to the church….😳
I went into Moot Hall to see if they had a map as I wasn’t sure of the second half….but I needn’t have bothered as it turned out to be well signposted….but I had it with me just in case. Through Fitz Park over the River Greta
The carved eagle still standing proud..
I spied a Robin, well heard him first, in the trees….first one I’ve managed to click, even though I’ve heard them everywhere
An awful lot of time and money has been spent on making the railway walk super accessible. Even while I was on it today, there were people on bikes, crutches, wheelchairs, pushchairs and electric bikes. It’s accessible to everyone, so rare these days.
It’s also ideal for families as it’s so safe and has picnic areas dotted about
It’s also where new and old collide in harmony. Where the old railway bridges have been strengthened by adding modern materials
Inside the tunnels were small shelters where the railway men would snuck into when a train was coming
And these simple yet stylish wooden seats have been placed at viewing points along the way
Every now and then, information boards allow you to relive the history…..how the steam trains used to make a special stop for the Bobbin mill makers
You could imagine the ghosts of the old railway and steam engines still being around…
The now tree lined track was beginning to be covered in leaves as autumn approaches
The railway walk itself was severely damaged during the floods of not so many years ago, when lots of Keswick was submerged in water. But the town and surrounding areas rallied round and helped each other recover and the new walk is testament to this
Each bridge over the winding river was running fast after the recent rainfall…
New and old were side by side here as I went under the old railway tunnel and over a new bridge over the river…
As I came to the end of the railway line at Threkeld, I crossed the dual carriageway and was met by this magnificent sheep in the field. The horns are stunning 😍
This is where one walk ends and another, to Castlerigg stones begins….you feel like your in the middle of nowhere, just miles and miles of countryside
The roads was steep with no footpath, but very few cars came by..the sun was on the other side of the valley at this point
I really didn’t need the map as each junction I came to had a sign for Castlerigg…so I felt totally safe…more sheep appeared, a different breed this time…
And even hens in one field sharing it with the sheep…
I then spotted a beautiful arch of Rosehips, which brought back wonderful childhood memories….each autumn, the “Rosehip syrup” lady, would visit our little school in Ferrybridge and ask us to pick rosehips for her. She would then weigh them and we’d get so many pennies. Well we thought we were the richest youngsters around as she always came on a Friday and that set us up for a weeks worth of sweets 🤣 happy times…
Trundling round the twisting roads, I eventually came to Castlerigg…
There weren’t many people around and I managed to take most of the photos when they were behind a rock 🤣….the vista all around is to die for
And the sun decided to shine, casting the stones shadows in front
After a while of just breathing in the air and the beauty, I looked at my watch. It was only 12 and Keswick was just down the hill, so I decided to go back the way I’d come, after all, I didn’t have enough time to squeeze in another walk and today was my last day. So I set off, the way I’d just come. You always see things differently when you do a walk in reverse; you pick up different views that had been missed walking in the other direction…it’s definitely sheep farming country
Then round a bend I could see sheep in the road, being transferred from one field to another. One man and his two dogs, Jack senior and Jack junior learning the ropes.
I stood against the wall and watched. From all the shouting, I gathered Jack Junior was causing chaos 🤣….the farmer trying to give him instructions and the young collie wanting to go his own way with loads of enthusiasm.
And when the farmer had got most of the sheep into the field, one stray sheep had to be herded on his own….it was magic to watch and took me back to the days as a youngster when I used to love watching “one man and his dog’….
It was worth the long walk back just to see that…..
Just as I was about to open the gate into Appletrees, Catherine and Polly the dog came out, both wearing their dry robes. I couldn’t resist asking if I could come along to watch the swimming and play ball with Polly…..
We walked down chatting to the bay and there was Sue waiting, another B&B owner, so after hugs and more chat, they went in for their swim while me and Polly played ball….
However, before Polly had taken off her dri robe, I, without thinking, threw her ball in the water 😳🙈….so one soggy dry robe was hung on the branch instead of being there for her when she’d finished 🙈🙈🙈
It was these two lovely ladies who convinced my Sarah to take up outdoor swimming. The health benefits are enormous and they all say how a bad day can turn to good after being for a swim. Sue had twisted her ankle so the icy cold water would do it good.
It was such a lovely sunny afternoon…and I think it does both of them good as a destresser.
And Polly was a lovely companion for me…definitely cuppa tea time, as we headed home….
I decided that Sunday would be the day to try Walla Crag once more. I might regret it due to all the rain they’d had, but if I didn’t try it would be niggling away inside me. When I’d looked at the forecast the day before It had promised fine weather, perfect for the climb. Also, with it being a Sunday, I was hoping other people would also be climbing so I’d have people to follow 🤣
I woke at 5am, but decided I’d better lay there for another hour or I’d wake the whole house up having a shower and pottering about 🙄….But as 6am approached, I couldn’t lay there any longer. Still very dark outside, I drew my curtains and waited for dawn to break…….
What I hadn’t realised in the dark was how Keswick was bathed in a covering of fog…..so before sunrise and since I was wide awake, I decided to wander down to Friars Crag…..it didn’t feel earie as I trundled through the park, more magical….
I reached the boats and it looked like someone had rubbed out the background that should be there
The same with the launches, as though nature was playing ‘spot the difference’
It didn’t surprise me for once, that my bench was empty….
I’d heard Robins all the way there so put some food out in the hope they’d come and say hello, but not this time…..you could just about make out the trees across the bay
The geese the only sound but I couldn’t see them for ages until I could just see their shadows moving along the water….
I’d lost track of time and suddenly realised I needed to be back for breakfast and as I was tucking in, me and Catherine watched the blue sky appear and the scene in front of us starting to come back into focus
I needed the fog to clear if I was going to attempt Walla Crag….and as the minutes went by, so more of my view appeared….just stunning….
After breakfast I had a cuppa tea or two, just to let the fog lift enough to make me feel comfortable with my task ahead, but by 9am you could tell it was going to be a lovely day.
I remember all the walks me and Sylvia used to do started off in the same way….
“With your back against the door of Moot Hall…”
And this one was no exception. As I left Appletrees, a beautiful spiders web had been revealed by the morning fog
The church steeple was just visible as the sun tried to burn the fog away
From Moot Hall I made my way past the church itself and headed towards the farmhouse which was the start of the climb. The sun’s rays were shining through the copse on my left
The beck on my left as I climbed, had been only a trickle over the summer months but now was full of water cascading down from the fells.
Up the steep never ending path, every now and then, stoping to take in the view beneath. Cat Bells looking like a picture postcard in the sunshine
Fell runners went by at an alarming pace, their feet darting about between the stones with such accuracy….I needed someone ahead to follow, but going a tad slower 😂…..and they soon appeared.
It’s always this bit where I become indecisive, unsure which well worn path to follow. I could probably take any and get to my destination, but I feel safer if I can follow someone….I never tire of this landscape, landscape that changes with the seasons and with the weather…and underfoot can change too. Today was very wet and very muddy after all the recent rain they’d had. The steep incline felt heavier on my legs. I had to count my steps to keep going….stopping and looking back every now and then at the stunning views….
Soon I reached the stile that would take me to the summit. There were people already there, taking the same photo we always do. Luckily one kindly offered to take mine
I’ve done this walk so often before dementia invaded my space but now the pride I feel is doubly satisfying. Dementia might have convinced me at one point that this climb was beyond me, but after hearing a playmate had completed it, I suddenly thought, then so can I………
The descent was far easier, momentum taking me down. Suddenly I could hear a voice, a friendly voice but very loud shouting continually:
“Heidi, come on, it’s only water” 😳
I couldn’t yet see said Heidi, or who the voice was coming from, but the call was continuous. As I reached the top of a mound, poor old Heidi came into view…..a small white Westie, no longer the pure white I imagine it usually is. She looked like she had wellington boots on. The dog was obviously not impressed with the need to go through water and mud. The two other little dogs were obviously used to the rough and tumble of the fells. The more I heard the call, the more I wanted it to stop as it was disturbing the peace of the fells and becoming irritating 🤣….it’s probably why Heidi was refusing to go as fast as the others….maybe she wanted to get away from her owners cries as well 🤣……
I managed to get ahead and out of ear shot…eventually 🙄 I was so intent on getting away from the noise that I’d forgotten to take photos, so then I stopped and looked.
A little further on and I could see a miniature launch in the lake below taking visitors on a trip around the flooded lake…..maybe I’ll do that later…🤔
As I reached Ashness bridge, I could see lots of photographers- long lenses, tripods, the lot. I went to stand where they were standing in case I was missing something, but it was just the volume and speed of the water that had attracted them…maybe they were in a group, on a course or something….
Then I went and climbed down the other side to take a photo towards the bridge 🙈……I hadn’t fallen since I’d got here 🙄…..perched on two rocks to get a better view, I felt myself wobble as I tried to refocus after the first click….😳……luckily I fell backwards hurting my elbow and bum…..if I’d have gone forward I would have been in the water 🤣……
After the descent my legs were up for a detour. Instead of going down the hill towards the main road, I turned left and thought I’d try and find Surprise View…..somewhere Sylvia loved and had taken me just the once….It was another steep climb up and after about 30 minutes I could see people gathered round the edge……
It was just as I remembered it, looking down the length of Derwentwater…..worth the extra climb…..
Now it was downhill all the way I soon reached the main road and because the lakeside was still inaccessible, walked along the narrow path by the road. A group was coming towards me so I asked where the track down was to get me back to the lake. They told me to avoid the first track down as it was very slippery as they’d just found out, thankfully I went to the next otherwise I’d have probably taken that one too.
It felt good to be back down by the lake again
It was at this point that dementia gripped me tight and threw me into a haze, I became totally disorientated and simply didn’t know where I was …I used to call these moments, a fog, but that left me nowhere to go when they got worse. Now they happen so often that I’ve renamed them ‘hazes’…..at least that way, I’ve got somewhere to go when they get really bad. For some reason, unbeknown to me, I took out my phone and started recording. Hearing my voice made me feel in control of the haze, so now I’ve simply transcribed what I recorded……
“I know if I keep the lake on my left, I’ll hopefully come out of this haze and recognise where I am….I can see two people ahead, one with a bright blue coat, easy to follow and keep in sight. They look like they know where they’re going…..Keep the blue in sight, the lake on the left, you’ll be fine….people are coming towards me, obstructing my view….keep the blue in sight, the lake on my left….keep the blue in sight, the lake on my left…..The man next blue coat is taking his coat off, but I’m freezing, my hands like ice…..please don’t take your blue coat off lady….. I can see a log peppered with coins…it feels familiar but it’s not giving me any clues as to why…..I’ll take a photo for later….”
“Keep the blue in sight and the water on the left…..”
At that moment I yawned, I could hear it on the recording….. and as I opened my eyes, everything came back into focus…I could see the familiar Milenium Stone half submerged in the water and I felt myself breathing in deeply and letting out a comforting sigh
I was back….I looked ahead of me and there was no sign of anyone in a blue coat….had I imagined it?
Thankful that the haze had only lasted a few minutes, 10 according to my recording, my steps were more confident, the hesitancy gone…
The smile back on my face I completed the last 45 minutes without taking a photo….just happy that I’d come back to my surroundings. Time for a cuppa back in my room and the view from my window was now sunny
I needed to go out just one more time before settling in for the night, just to prove to myself that I could….I decided to take a boat ride around the lake…nothing too tasking….half way round and a wedding party, who’d obviously hired a launch post wedding, went by cheering and looking so happy
Then I realised, we’d pass Sylvia on the way to Hawes End jetty….I could see my landmark tree now firmly in the water and I smiled and whispered ‘hello Sylvia, did you think I’d forgotten to come”…….it finished off my day perfectly. As the launch pulled in at the end, I looked back behind me and saw the magical light of the sun, shining on the fells….
For some unknown reason I hadn’t expected it to be dark when I drew back the curtains on my first morning in paradise 😳 Not sure why as it’s dark now at home when I draw my own🤔…I was stopped in my tracks – is it day time or night time? Have I got up when I should be asleep? I’d had a very sleep wake sleep wake night as it was so this was certainly discombobulating…..I felt around on the floor for my phone which pinged to life as I opened it……06:15……of course it was dark, just like at home……phew, that was my first challenge of the day sorted……
Eventually showered and waiting for the kettle to boil, I stood and looked out of my window. A cloudy morning with hints of a sunrise behind the clouds and Cat Bells turning a shade of purple as the heather comes into flower…
I checked my phone once more, only this time to tell me what day it was. ‘Saturday’…..another surprise as that means I must have travelled on a Friday and I rarely travel here on a Friday. Must have been a reason why – maybe my room wasn’t available 🤔
After breakfast of my routine poached eggs, mushrooms and baked beans along with mixed toast and a cuppa, I was set up for the day. The weather app had forecast rain later on in the morning, so I set off for my walk around the lake as soon as I’d had a cuppa in my room….my idea of relaxing is a long walk….
The lake was so high after torrential rain, that I doubted if I’d be able to walk along the shoreline as I usually do…..but I’ll figure that out as and when it happens….I decided to go clockwise, so passed Hope Park and on towards the lake. Three geese caught my eye in the field where the Mountain festival had been the last time I came, or maybe the time before 🤔
I walked down to the lake edge where you could see the fence and tree, usually fully visible, were submerged in the high water. Cat Bells covered in low cloud and Borrowdale barely visible in the distance
The two launches were moored further up the flooded jetty
It felt like I had the lake all to myself and as I approached Friars Crag, I could see that I had my bench to myself too
I sat for a while soaking up the peace around me……
……before heading off round the bay. Again the water much higher than normal and we’ve only just started October
At least it was still dry, cloudy but dry. Ordinarily I’d might seem gloomy but not here. Every weather brings it’s own charm. I could hear so many birds but because the leaves were still on the trees, they were hard to spot. But one fellow churping away had conveniently perched on an old bare branch making him easier to see
Previously dry stream beds were now overflowing with running water
Even Milenium bench was empty
And I was surprised to see how submerged the Milenium Stones were
It was roundabout here that I thought I might lose the path. I could see a couple ahead of me in the distance and wanted to keep them in sight to see which alternative way they’d go…
However they didn’t have a camera and keep stopping to take photos 😳 and I soon lost them as the path became submerged 🙄
I knew if I went up, I’d come to the main road to Borrowdale so I followed, what looked like a way up….and yes, reached the road…
The detour had come much sooner than I thought and as I reached the jetty at Ashness, where I sat on the edge in the summer and where I had images of children jumping into the water, I could see that much of that was also submerged
I usually go around the headland, but it was just water now, even the ducks had trouble finding a perch to preen on
The lake was so still, the grey of the day making my photos look monochrome…
At this point I joined my usual route of crossing the road away from the lake and going through woodland where all the stones are covered in moss and where the ferns were starting to die off
Passing the big Lodore hotel – if only I could remember how to get to Lodore Falls as they’d be spectacular after all the rain 🙄 – I felt sure I’d have to walk the extra mile or so to The Grange and I was right as the footpath to Pooh Bear Bridge was under water
I’d known people paddle across it as it puts a good hour onto the journey, but I wasn’t sure I could manage that so I carried on walking along the roadside. Then all of a sudden I stopped in my tracks. I stared hard at the farm house across the road. It was so familiar. Then suddenly an image came into my mind. This was where me and Sylvia had stopped to have a cuppa tea and scones. We’d probably just descended from Lodore Falls.
I could see us sitting in the farmyard as if it was yesterday 😍😢
Further along and a flock of Herdwicks were resting by the farm wall. All facing the same direction 😂
The Grange came into view, much further on foot than I imagined, but a nice walk…
Through the village itself and out onto the back road heading towards the lake turning. A young girl was in front of me and I wanted to keep her in view, as I’m never sure where the turning is…..but then suddenly she was heading back towards me 😳….I couldn’t think quick enough to ask if she was looking for the lake turn off and my focus was distracted as I saw another couple way ahead and started walking quicker to keep them in sight 🤣
Luckily I saw where they turned off and headed the same way. As I reached the lake, once more water was where land used to be
The rest of the route followed the usual path which are much higher this side of the lake. Each bay appeared, the water much closer to the path than normal.
I zoomed into the top of Cat Bells and was surprised to see lots of people on the misty summit
It was at this point that lots of groups of teenagers started to pass me. Maps and rucksacks and I guessed they were orienteering. Maybe that’s why Cat Bells was so busy….
Each bay was like a mill pond….so still, so calm and perfect
My only sadness at the high water was when I got to Hawes End, where I usually go down to the shore to say hello to Sylvia, it was totally submerged…..😢….I stopped by the sign, but could see there was no way I’d get there. Instead I blew her a kiss and said I’d be there again next time.
The rain then started to fall, mizzling at first, but then a steady fall…..my last photo before I hid my camera under my coat was as I reached the Alpacas……
No more photos for the remaining 2 or 3 miles……but it was nice just to walk, my camera now covered, my hud up, trundling through the rain………..