A trundle with my daughter….

I’ve not had a very good few weeks one way or another but mostly dementia handcuffed to my wrist and thrown away the key……..but last week Sarah came to see me and we decided to go for a walk…..besides feeding the ducks and ponies, we had another mission – to look for the key that had fallen out of someone’s pocket while running and I’d said I’d keep an eye out for it on my trundles around..

But earlier in the morning I’d woken, climbed out of bed and slipped into my dressing gown, a cold chill in the air, the heating having only just come on. I looked out of the back window and saw it was going to be a lovely sunrise. So headed downstairs, keys in hand, slipped my garden crocs onto my cold bare feet and went out into the cold morning air. Everything was silent, no lights at neighbours windows as I padded up the garden. I stood at the end and stared

And simply watched the sun magically rise up into the sky

Must have been there for 15, maybe 20 minutes when suddenly I became aware of the cold spreading from my feet upwards. One last photo before heading indoors

Sarah arrived around 9am. I didn’t actually recognise her as she had a new coat and I was assuming I’d simply say hello and smiling  at a stranger as they passed. But then I saw the much loved beaming smile.

First stop was the village pond, so we ambled along the high street, eyes peeled to the floor, just in case. It was forecasted to be dull and overcast, but luckily the sun was shining, giving the cold air a bit of heat. The pond looked deserted as we approached, but then I spied 3 ducks staring at us from the far end and I told Sarah to throw some seed up into the air and suddenly the pond came to life and the quacking began.

Sarah threw the seed leaving my hands free for my camera

A lovely puppy dog stood alongside us wondering what on earth the fuss was and wasn’t too sure about the ducks 😍….one of his first of many walks out, so I’m sure he’ll get used to them. Once our bag was empty we ambled up through the estate to the back lane and it was here we took our first detour.

I showed Sarah where I usually take the sunrise pictures. Such a still quiet corner and looked so lovely in the sunshine

We stood in companiable silence just enjoying the silence and the view, then retraced our steps. My lack of energy of recent days exstinguished to some degree because Sarah was with me so I felt safe. But I was slow and methodical, one foot in front of the other, wobbling this way and that.

Instead of walking straight on towards the church, we decided to go round the wood for me to show Sarah the fungi that Pip had shown me. After hunting around I firstly managed to find the ears, dwindled in number now, but still there

And then, searching for the right log, I wanted to find the rubbery ones, the names of them all vanished since the last time.

Wending our way through the shelter of the trees, the sun shining through every now and then, we followed the path, now piled with a carpet of leaves leaves, giving a drier less muddy walk,

Sarah spotted a beauty. A new one to me so very excited and must ask Pip what it is….the sun was shining a spot light on it for us to see…Pip would be pleased with us. That is of course, unless I’ve forgotten that I’d seen it before 😂

Sarah’s piccie was much better than mine 😂 and Pip did know the answer. It’s a shaggy inkcap. People used to use the ink from these fungi to write with in days gone by 😁

Next stop was the Mother Tree…..it’s enormous stature revealing hundreds of years of life, where others would have stopped and admired it’s strength and beauty. It’s here where the Artists Brackets can be found. Sarah found a feather and we each wrote our names

There were many on the ground that I couldn’t find but we found more than enough to make it worthwhile….we came back into the open of the playing field and made our way our final through the trees to our final destination …the Shetland ponies, one carrot for each.

It had been a very long unexpected walk. But apart from the slopes where I needed a welcome arm for support, and a memento rest every now and then, I managed it. As for the key….well….after leaving Sarah, I got back home, opened my ipad and there was a message on the village Facebook page…

Has anyone lost a key, found this morning on my dog walk”…..I knew the village would come up trumps…

Maybe my dreams show me my possible future …..

I woke up after a disturbed night. Reliving my past through my dreams and waking moments where images wouldn’t fade away. Of the cruelty of young girls at school, believing them to be your best friends and then they turn their back on you. Images of loneliness following me through the night, waking sad and shocked, then sleep returning only to continue the solitary journey, like a Pandora’s box opening up everything that had stayed silent.

I finally decided to get up, darkness still hanging in the sky. The thought of trying to sleep again to relive cruelty and sadness too much to bare. My head feeling worn out by the gruelling night, I had my shower, following my normal routine to give me some normality back.

I looked at the kettle as I shuffled downstairs, my eyes heavy with the desire to sleep. I flicked it on automatically, but then noticed the sky just about to get light, so both arms into my coat, zip up against the cold, duck food hanging from my wrist and camera round my neck, I ventured out, hoping the cool morning air would wake my tired body.

It was bitterly cold, a strong wind blowing, clouds racing across the sky

Holding tight to my hood, I crossed the road to climb up through the snicket, in the hope of some shelter. My stick the only sound I could hear faithfully keeping in step.

The morning walk went by in a blur. I remember standing and watching the sunrise in the far field

My limbs felt heavy, my arms felt weak and simply wanted to hang at my side. I felt my body shutting down again. ‘Ring Gemma’ a voice said inside, but my hand feeling around for my phone found nothing but emptiness, empty pockets meant I’d forgotten to pick it up in my haste for fresh air….I stood for a moment, trying to distract my body by looking at the sky

I’ll count my way home, concentrate on counting. And so I did, one foot in front of the other, counting in sets of 100 before starting again……44, 45, 46… I hadn’t even fed the ducks yet, but today the food would be thrown on the grass for them to help themselves…..87, 88….just needed to get home and lie down…..1, 2, 3 

I don’t think I saw anyone that morning as my key gratefully slotted into the keyhole and let me in, where I collapsed on the stairs and just sat……..

As usual, after a cuppa tea and snuggle into my bed, I felt more normal, but could tell today wasn’t going to be a good day…looking at my app, it read 2hrs 31 minutes of sleep and today it really felt like it…

I no longer dream of the present, only the past, as though my dreams have regressed, showing the haunted life I may be immersed in at a later stage of dementia…my girls always appear as young children, sometimes doing adult jobs, but it never seems odd at the time. The ones with my daughters in are comforting, but the fact that my ex is also there very disturbing. The ones of me even younger are just haunted with distress and very disturbing.

So if dementia chooses to take me back in time, I hope I’ve been gone long before that day…..

Answers to the first Christmas Quiz…..

So how did you do on this first of many Christmas quiz?….is it getting you in the mood for Christmas? 🎄 doesn’t take much for me to be excited about Christmas although it will be very different this year due to Covid…..

  1. Shaped to resemble the baby Jesus, what is the name of the Belgium sweet bread served for Christmas breakfast?Cougnou
  2. Which German city holds an annual stollen festival?Dresden
  3. What is the edible fruit of the tree “Castanea saliva”?Chestnuts
  4. How are “Cherries Jubilee” cooked?Flambeed.
  5. In which Scandinavian country would you eat ginger-snap cookies called “Pepparkakor”at Christmas ?Sweden
  6. Who served a flaming Christmas Pudding in “A Christmas Carol”?Mrs Crachitt.
  7. What is a German “Christollen”?Fruitcake
  8. In Northern England what is Christmas cake often eaten with?Cheese (Lancashire or Cheshire).
  9. In which country would you be served twelve meatless dishes on Dec 24th?Poland
  10. In which country are “Oliebollen”, deep fried dumplings served around Christmas?Holland
  11. In a traditional mince pie, which ingredient would make it unsuitable for vegetarians?Suet
  12. A sprig of which plant often decorates a Christmas pudding?Holly.
  13. What is wrapped in bacon in a British “Pig in blanket”?Sausage
  14. Mince pies were originally oval-shaped, what was this supposed to represent?A manger
  15. Which alcoholic drink is usually added to the base of the Christmas trifle?Sherry
  16. What is Christmas “Lebkuchen”?Gingerbread biscuit
  17. What would you generally find under the icing of a Christmas cake?Marzipan
  18. Which cheese often eaten at Christmas is known as the King of English cheeses?Stilton
  19. In the 17th century Christmas Cake was made to be eaten on what day?Twelth Night
  20. What is the name of the Spanish bread usually containing a small trinket often served at Epiphany?King cake

The first of many Christmas Quiz……

Yes, I know it’s still November but it is December tomorrow and I’m a Christmasholic so you can never start too early….but apologies to those who prefer Christmas to start on Christmas Eve……you’ve got no chance with me 😂 answers as always in the morning…

  1. Shaped to resemble the baby Jesus, what is the name of the Belgium sweet bread served for Christmas breakfast?Which German city holds an annual stollen festival?

2. What is the edible fruit of the tree “Castanea saliva”?

3. How are “Cherries Jubilee” cooked?

4. In which Scandinavian country would you eat ginger-snap cookies called “Pepparkakor”at Christmas ?

5. Who served a flaming Christmas Pudding in “A Christmas Carol”?

6. What is a German “Christollen”?

7. In Northern England what is Christmas cake often eaten with?

8. In which country would you be served twelve meatless dishes on Dec 24th?

9. In which country are “Oliebollen”, deep fried dumplings served around Christmas?

10. In a traditional mince pie, which ingredient would make it unsuitable for vegetarians?

11. A sprig of which plant often decorates a Christmas pudding?

12. What is wrapped in bacon in a British “Pig in blanket”?

13. Mince pies were originally oval-shaped, what was this supposed to represent?

14. Which alcoholic drink is usually added to the base of the Christmas trifle?

15. What is Christmas “Lebkuchen”?

16. What would you generally find under the icing of a Christmas cake?

17. Which cheese often eaten at Christmas is known as the King of English cheeses?

18. In the 17th century Christmas Cake was made to be eaten on what day?

19. In the 17th century Christmas Cake was made to be eaten on what day?

20. What is the name of the Spanish bread usually containing a small trinket often served at Epiphany?

My head is on fire…..Poem

Wrote this last week after another head banging day…….

My head is buzzing

It’s not my own

It’s sparking and muddled

Like a badly tuned radio

…….

I’ll hide under the duvet 

Til the noise abates

‘Til the warring factors

Stop crashing their plates

……

The muddle, the confusion

Renders me useless

No sense is the world

Making me feel foolish

…..

So come on dementia

Be kind to me today

Stay in your box, firmly locked

Keeping your confusion at bay

…..

Allow me to wake with a feeling of sunshine

Not a dull and overcast day

Give me a rest from your bad tempered jest

And allow me a trundle with a clear pathway…..

…..

Chose this song for the title, but I’d also forgotten it existed……

Another hazy day and my mood drops……

Last week I wake up to another hazy, foggy day, fourth in a row. For the last three days, I’ve still gone out for a little trundle, occupied myself in the house, or simply given in and hidden underneath the duvet. But I was able to keep my mood on an even keele. Just living with the nuisance of dementia clinging even tighter, but not allowing it the lip service of acknowledgment…but today…..

The weather was dull, very breezy, rainy and univiting. My head felt heavy under the weight of dementia bursting from my head. The thought of a trundle just didn’t appeal, as if going out would make dementia visible , striding beside me. laughing at my slow pace for all to see.

No today, my mood matched the weather. I was fed up of dementia hanging around like an unwelcome guest. I sat in the Conservatory with my camera, trying to distract myself, to lift myself out of this state with the aid of nature. It worked for that hour, lost as I was in the camera lense watching the determined squirrel not be be out done by my squirrel proof feeders. A whole hour it tried various manoeuvres, attacking from various angles, just like the dementia was doing to me, attacking me from all angles, leaving me lethargic, empty and wondering what barrier I could put up against it, just like the bird feeders had been designed to do.

But after an hour of hanging upside down, trying to remove the lid, climbing up the fence and attacking from beneath, 

…the squirrel gave up and made do with the seeds the birds had dropped, them looking quite pleased with themselves at being able to hop on, take a tasty morsel and fly off in full view of this squirrel. Robins and Blue Tits, Dunnocks and Sparrows, all revelling in their ability to succeed where the squirrel had failed.

Just like I’d failed to outmanoeuvre dementia today. I knew how he felt, as he scraped up the left overs that had fallen to the ground…

I was getting cold, the heating not due on for hours. If I changed the settings, I wouldn’t know how to put it right, so I choose to leave it, easier that way. Upstairs, my bed provides a comfort of warmth and a view of the tree tops. I put a hottie inside each pocket, just in case…

I load the photos through the camera app, so they magically transfer  to my ipad. The light suddenly appearing on the camera signalling connection and the magic starts before my eyes. One photo after another making an appearance on screen. I feel my mouth turn up at the corners at the appearance of the squirrel, no emotion, just the movement.  My hands thank goodness know what to do, because my brain is riddled with sludge today, a thick dark sludge….

My eye lids, heavy from the lack of sleep these past few nights, seccumb to gravity, yet I feel my eyes wide open beneath the darkness, resting in the shadows. I despartely try and convince them to sleep but they like me feel empty today, driven down in mood by the constant attack from dementia.

Some days are easier to cope with, easier to ride the haze, allow it to have its way but today it’s brought me down, made me feel like I’m not winning this battle I didn’t ask to fight. 

I see a bag next to my bed and reach inside, not remembering what I placed in there and take out a single pebble. It smells of the sea, or is that my wishful thinking? I remembered I’d placed them there to do Christmas themed images on them. Without expression, without real interest mt fingers search my photos for images I’d found on a better day to try and copy. I slide the acrylic pens out of their box onto the bed beside me, all colours,but I  select a black one automatically to draw the outline, my fingers once again reassuringly helping me to feel human, to feel capable. I copy the image in front of me, bit by bit. A mushroom shape for the hat, a small squashed circle for the face, 2 circular eyes and a round nose, a scarf wrapped round its neck and a large round squashed body, arms at his side. I pick up the red pen and start colouring the hat, small circular movements or single strokes one after the other allowing me to colour it in, then the same with the scarf and 2 tiny buttons.

The only sound is the pen on the rough stone and my breathing. I would normally be full of concentration, full of enthusiasm but not today. Today I’m doing it to show dementia I can, but not with my usual conviction. I watch with empty eyes as the image comes to life

I sigh a huge sigh at its completion instead of with joy and satisfaction, but I did it. I realise the empty day will continue and resign myself to the fact that today is a sad day, nothing able to lighten my mood. And I feel my eyelids succumb to gravity once more and somewhere in the distance I hear a pen drop to the floor…

Two things to watch, one to listen to……

The first was put together by West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health & Care Partnership and is about Advanced Care Planning. As well as my own views, there are the views of many others. The theme from everyone being: 

Death is as natural as living. We plan for the birth of children why not our death?

That;s me and my lovely daughters at the beginning 😍

This second one was recorded by the lovely Philly Hare from Innovations in Dementiia and features myself and playmates Keith Oliver and Chris Maddocks. The aim of the piece was to describe our vision of the Social Care Future. What the future would have to look like to enable us to live with dementia in a way we wished.

And finally a pod cast interview I did for the American Marianne Sciucco who is a founder member of AlzAuthors.

The podcast is called Untangling Young Onset dementia and is a series of interviews with authors who have written about dementia in their lives…Mine was episode 1, so if you scroll down on the page you should see all the current episodes….

A longer walk than was wise…..but…..

Last week I started my last sack of bird food….yes I did say sack…..well I do feed the ducks every day, sometimes twice a day and it’s much cheaper by the sack load 😂…..anyway, the forecast for the following 2 days was dull, damp and overcast, so I decided to go for a long walk just in case I didn’t manage to get out for two days and order my seed along the way 🙄….

We have a lovely animal and bird food shop which sits in the middle of nowhere and not far from me but it involves walking on the country road for a long stretch. For some reason I thought it would be deserted of traffic, after all we’re in lockdown again,so off I trundled and it was quiet……at first 🙄

Out of the blue, a sparrow hawk landed in front of me, pinning it’s prey to the ground. 

😳🙈

I don’t know who was more shocked, it or me 😳….we both stood stock still for a moment, both of us working out our next move. But a cyclist came passed and the hawk flew away leaving the wood pigeon shaken but not stirred and thankfully, after recovering, he flew to safety too…..

But soon, all thoughts of a quiet trundle went out of the window as speeding cars came towards me. I’d worn my wellies thank goodness, as after days of rain, the verges were very wet  as I sunk into mud to escape being run over…

The gate leading to the field of sheep provided me with a safe refuge for a minute…the sheep all turning and staring at me in unison

A clear road ahead I set off again. So much traffic, so much stepping on and off the road. I really thought it would be quiet but I was obviously wrong.

A pheasant obligingly posed in the field next to me as I stood once more allowing the cars to go by

Eventually I reached the safety of the animal food yard. As I opened their door, the heat from the wood burner hit me.  They have no heating usually, but today was a chillier day and the fire was roaring. If they’d had an armchair next to it I would have snuggled into it and forgot my walk….😂….

The woman recognised me thankfully. They don’t usually deliver such items but they know I don’t have a car and one of the women lives in the village, so she delivers my sacks on her way home – how kind is that ❤️

Order placed, my body heated nicely against the fire, I set off again. Reaching the cross roads, I looked back towards the village across the fields..

Before crossing over, heading for the track that will take me off the road and to a more peaceful trundle. As I reached the turning, the peace suddenly became noticeable again. The mud benaeth my feet, squelching each time I lifted my wellies….

A figure was approaching me from the opposite direction, slipping and sliding on the mud in his trainer clad feet. He was heading through the gate that would take him to the Westwood

We exchanged pleasantries, commented on the mud that went with the beautiful sunshine day and went our separate ways….

The fork in the lane often confuses me, which way to go, left or right…🤔

But I’d seen the man come from the right side so knew it was the track to follow.

As an opening appeared, across the fields I could see the Black Mill, alongside the Minster and the windmills, looking as though they were side by side but in reality miles apart

As I reach the end of the track and joined the footpath alongside the road leading back to the village, this is where I usually end my walk, but the sun was still shining and I thought of the coming few dull days and my feet just wanted to carry on walking. So as soon as I reached the two white stones, the tall poplar trees,  I turned left

And headed towards Bluebell wood….up and down the deserted farm land, along tracks sheltered bay trees

Sunflowers, that once shone golden in the fields, now looking bedraggled and abandoned

And then the little wooden walkway appeared for the wood

The trees almost in their skeleton form, shed of most of it’s autumn leaves, soaring into the sky

And the long leaf covered footpath providing a safe route

Trees either side hugging you close and welcoming you into their world. The only sound being my feet crunching on the leaves, the odd bird calling out to its mate or the breeze gently rustling the branches high above me. I love it here, not matter if the bluebells are long gone, because I know they’re sleeping in the earth below and will waken again in the spring and dazzle us with their purple haze….

As I weaved my way along the track my feet and legs were getting weary and starting to protest. This was in essence 2 trundles into one, so I shouldn’t have been surprised. I tried to distract myself from my weariness by clicking my camera. Such simple things hold so much beauty

Finally at the hole in the hedge that’s often difficult to find in the summer, when the shrubs are in full leaf….that would take me back to the village

I walked the familiar route behind the village school. The route I take for my morning sunrises, but far too late in the day for that….

Dragging my wellies, which were now heavy with mud as well as tiredness, I finally arrived at the village pond. No quacks of welcome, as they’d already been fed and many of them were doing exactly what I would do as soon as I reached home, and were taking an afternoon nap

A lovely double trundle. Now if the weather stops me venturing out I won’t feel so hard done by…….

Answers to Mondays Random Quiz…..

1.Who had a hit song in the late 60s with Hazy Shade Of Winter?
Simon & Garfunkel
2.Winterfell is the house of what family in Game of Thrones?
Stark
3.What cocktails original recipe contains the spirits tequila, vodka, light rum, triple sec, and gin, and has an alcohol content of 22%?
Long Island Ice Tea
4.Where does the infamous Streif downhill ski race take place?
Kitzbhel
5.How many flakes of snow have to fall in the 24 hours of the 25th December anywhere in the UK to be classified as a White christmas?
One
6.What song was a hit for Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews in 1999?
Baby it’s cold outside
7.Which book was made into a 26 minute animated TV special in 1982, and had David Bowie as the narrator in the US version?
The Snowman
8.Who won a gold medal for Great Britain in the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo 1984?
Torvil & Dean
9.What sweet was first advertised 30 years ago featuring a polar bear?
Fox’s Glacier Mints
10.Which 1983 film starring Glen Close, Jeff Goldbloom, Kevin Kline and Tom Berenger was nominated for 3 Oscars, including Best Picture?
The Big Chill

Random Monday Quiz….

1.Who had a hit song in the late 60s with Hazy Shade Of Winter?

2.Winterfell is the house of what family in Game of Thrones?

3.What cocktails original recipe contains the spirits tequila, vodka, light rum, triple sec, and gin, and has an alcohol content of 22%?

4.Where does the infamous Streif downhill ski race take place?

5.How many flakes of snow have to fall in the 24 hours of the 25th December anywhere in the UK to be classified as a White christmas?

6.What song was a hit for Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews in 1999?

7.Which book was made into a 26 minute animated TV special in 1982, and had David Bowie as the narrator in the US version?

8.Who won a gold medal for Great Britain in the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo 1984?9.What sweet was first advertised 30 years ago featuring a polar bear?

10.Which 1983 film starring Glen Close, Jeff Goldbloom, Kevin Kline and Tom Berenger was nominated for 3 Oscars, including Best Picture?