Hot off the Press!! My final wacky challenge…….

I think I said that I won’t be creating a Walkington Life Calendar this year….so instead I’m doing a final wacky challenge!!! My final one for charity, so I just had to make it a big one.

I got to thinking what on earth I could do that I havn’t done already…🤔….then I spied an advert on an email I was sent from Dementia UK…..

Abseiling….but not down any ordinary building….😳….but down the current tallest building in London 😱 The Cheese Grater 😳😂 that’s it on the left below, next to the Gherkin building. The Gherkin is 180m high and the Leadenhall building (nicknamed the Cheesegrater) is 225m high – imagine the views! 🤣

I think I first mulled over the idea back in February. I emailed Danielle, the events organiser from Dementia UK, asking if she thought the Skyscraper company would allow me to do it. It took them months to come back to us. I had to have a zoom meeting with them to convince them I was real 🤣…but eventually, in the middle of April, the week before I was about to do my first wacky adventure in paradise, they came back to us having said YES!!!! I actually wish I’d known about the zip wire option as I would have loved to have done that. But by the time I realised that bit was full 🙄

Obviously I couldn’t set up my just giving page until after I’d done my first, which raised an incredible £3000 😍– so a HUGE thank you to any of you who were kind enough to sponsor me for that event.🙏

So why raise money for Dementia UK, you may ask? Well, firstly, they are the ones organising the fundraising event. But more importantly, I do lots of work with Dementia UK via their Lived Experienced group – LEAP – along with fellow amigo, George, which I told you about yesterday. I’ve also worked with their CEO, the lovely Hilda Hayo many times in the past as part of the charity Young Dementia UK. 

Both charities recently joined forces, Young Dementia UK, becoming the Young Dementia Network, as part of the Dementia UK umbrella. Dementia UK is the charity responsible for Admiral Nurses – as their website says:

Admiral Nurses are experts in dementia and are a lifeline when families need it most. Their knowledge and experience means they can help families manage complex needs, and they take the time to truly get to know the person with dementia and their family, providing the practical tips, guidance and emotional support they so desperately need. “

We desparately need more Admiral nurses around the country. I don’t even have any in my area 😔

If you live in an area without an Admiral nurse, you can still speak to one of their nurses via their Helpline on:

Dementia Helpline:

0800 888 6678

Or to find out more, go on their website.

Soooo back to my challenge. It’s happening on Saturday 9th September. Part of the main challenge for most people is to run up the stairs of this humongous building then fling themselves off the top….whereas I’m going to take the easy way up and have been allowed to get the lift – then fling myself off the top 😂

My daughters, laugh and roll their eyes as they’ve become accustomed to my wacky adventures. Sarah frequently says she had to learn to let go of her fear- the fear of ‘what if’? Whereas my old self would get hung up on the ‘what if’, now i just think. why not?. Life’s too short to worry about things out of your control . Dementia has taken away so much from me but it’s given me the gift of no fear. I call many things ‘gifts’, because i know perfectly well that dementia would hate to think of giving anyone anything good. As you get older, for some people it teaches them to live for today. For me dementia has just speeded up those thoughts and allowed me to want to make the most of each day and if something comes along then go for it. You only get one chance in life – don’t regret not doing something out of fear.

Soooo for a final time I’m asking for your support. Will you support me and help me reach my target of £1000 just one more time?

Here’s my special Just Giving page. The money goes straight to Dementia UK to save me the bother of having to do all the financial bit – phew! So I’m part of a team this time 😇

Here you can see it standing out on the London skyline…just wish I could take my camera …😂

Another Amigo meet up….this time with George..

Monday night, I arrived back home late from my travels to see Philly on the Isle of Lewis;Tuesday I headed to Bempton to meet Amigo Gail and Hubby; Wednesday I had to myself and was able to catch up with washing and shopping; On Thursday, I headed to Birmingham at silly o’clock to be with Amigo George at our Dementia UK Lived experience meet up…🥵….why does everything happen all at once 🤣…?

I was very grateful that I had Wednesday to myself as I needed to get back into the routine of home, including my early morning walks. I hadn’t caught up with myself and was still tired so didn’t venture out ‘til about 8am, which is very late for my early walks, but all I could manage. But my animal friends didn’t disappoint….

It was set to be a beautifully sunny day as I ambled towards the Mirage lane, so nice to be walking my usual steps. It looked like another lamb had been born. The farmer has been moving them into the village field once the lambs have arrived

I could see one of the farmers wives walking towards me as I zoomed into the lane to see who was about. I wonder how many decades she’s been out walking her dog along this lane 🤔

I could hear all the birds but seeing them was doubly difficult now that the leaves had burst onto the branches. Being so late, I hadn’t expected any of the hares to still be around, but the morning sun had made them linger for longer

I reached the gap in the hedge, waved to a villager coming towards me, before quietly stepping into the field

One went whizzing by me, on a morning mission..

Others were having a morning huddle at the far side

The field was just alive, a village all of its own of hare….🥰

As I stepped back towards the hedge, one bobbed its head up to see whether friend or foe

“Morning” I whispered and smiled as I headed back down the lane towards home.

There’d been a scrawny dishevelled Robin along Middlehowe and I hadn’t seen it for a good while, assuming it had secummbed to an untimely death, but as I reached the last corner, I heard one in full song….and yes! It was my dishevelled Robin singing out loud and clear

Always nice to come home.

The following morning I had to be up at dawn to catch the silly o’clock train to Birmingham. Most others had stayed overnight, but I needed that night at home so was doing the journey in one day. As the alarm went off, After a shower, I shuffled to the back room to look out of the window….the sky had its golden morning tinge. I hadn’t seen a sunrise for ages and suddenly yearned to be outside. I’d left myself plenty of time so a small trundle up to the fields wouldn’t do any harm… I glad I did…

I could feel the morning chill wrap itself around me as I stepped outside. I could see the sun had already risen as I peaked through the gap in the houses.

Then I was out in the open, an peaceful empty road to my left, the field to my right and the sun revealing itself through the overgrown spring verge

I stood at the gate and sighed a satisfied sigh

A veil of morning mist hung above the grass

Just beautiful and so glad I came outside, if only for 5 minutes ….it was forecast to be a beautiful spring day and I’d be stuck inside, but at least I’d have Amigo George for company.

The taxi man was on time, as was the first train and the second in Hull! The gap between the two allowing me just enough time to grab a cuppa for the first part of the journey to Sheffield

I sat on the train drinking my hug in a mug as we crossed the HUmber

Me feeling a touch of envy at seeing the couple out walking their dogs alongside its banks

The river side sheep have one of the best views as they amble along the bank and graze in the field below

Nearing Sheffield I was brought out of my reverie and back to the task in hand. I had just 7 minutes between arriving and my connection, so out came my app to help. Needed to get to platform 6 and it was running 2 minutes late at the mo, so may have a minutes extra time 🤞

Gill from Dementia UK was meeting me at my least favourite station, Birmingham New Street. It’s maze of corridors, different coloured zones and different exits just confuse the hell out of me 😔

Both trains happened to arrive on time in Sheffield, so I shuffled my way up the stairs and over onto platform 6 and the train pulled in within a minute 🥵….. This train goes all the way down to Plymouth yet only has 4 carriages and I hadn’t been able to book a seat 😳 so I knew there would be added stress of trying to find a seat on what is always a very busy train. It’s also the train company I like the least as well – Cross Country – so all in all I’m surprised I’m even travelling to Birmingham 🤣…..

I messaged Gill to say I was on my way….

Our group, LEAP, rarely meet face to face now, we usually see each others head and shoulders on the little squares on zoom, so it will be a treat to find out how tall everyone is and have real, instead of virtual hugs 😂

As I’m tapping this, I can’t for the life of me remember why we’re meeting, but I’m sure there must be a good reason 🤣….Suzy Webster is our new coordinator to replace Gill. We all know Suzy well, as she was one of our members. She looked after her mum with dementia in her family home until her recent death so now has the time to devote to other things, including us!

By the time we reached Derby it was standing room only 🙈…the aisles full of people and making it feel very claustrophobic 😔 

Black Jack on Red Queen…..

Birmingham couldn’t come soon enough but then the escalator wasn’t working and I ended up having to go totally out of New Street and having to find my way back in again and find Gill 🙈…

Stress over we walked into the venue, just 2 minutes away thankfully and my first hug was with Amigo George

Everyone started to arrive, people I’d only met on screen since before lockdown…..😳

Suzy, ‘our leader’ welcomed everyone as this was her first meeting in her post

Emma Wolverson, who I’ve done loads of work with at Hull University, now also works for Dementia UK and surprised me by being here!

We had two new members , Peter living with dementia from South Wales, and Andrew from Liverpool who’s mum has dementia and a couple of wives joined us as well!

We had in fact 2 researchers with us as Karen Harrison- Denning also joined us and also works for Dementia UK.

We then moved onto talk about the research strategy of Dementia UK – who are researching the viability of Admiral nurses as commissioners quite rightly ask for the evidence based facts and figures around their value

The charity don’t fund research but enable so much other research.

Dementia UK’s research will be all around care. Emma spoke around developing the 5 clear priorities. 

(People said that the image means different things in different countries 🤣)

So they’ll be researching Admiral nurses 

At the moment commissioning is fragmented. 

Only 8% of the general public in a research project recently asked about McMillan Nurses, Marie Curie and Admiral nurses had heard about the existence of Admiral Nurses.

We then went onto an exercise where we had to write a statement or word that answered each question

The researchers then looked at the themes….

Checking how best practice is shared; What is an an Admiral nurse – what makes a specialist a specialist?; what barriers do Admiral nurses face when setting up a service?; what are the social return on their investment? How do admiral nurses serve those lesser served, minority groups – culturally, those living alone, etc ……and much more was sparked by the single words written on those post its 🥰

Time for a cuppa! Much needed as head started to spin….

It was then the turn of Julie Allen. Head of Business development at Dementia UK to tell us how contracts are set up and the history of Admiral Nurses.

The Teams relationship is with the host managers and meet regularly to ‘check up’ on the workings of the contract – is it being run well?

Dementia UK will invest up to 50% of salary of an Admiral nurse for 2 years – this is to get the investment and commitment from the commissioning area. The host organisation (employer of the nurse) though has to commit to continuing the service after those 2 years in full. Others agree to fully fund the posts. Dementia UK, through its Academy, helps recruit the nurses with the hosts, then someone from the Academy will help support the setting up of the service. The Nurses are supported by Dementia UK even though they’re employed by the host. – their 1 to 1’s, their personal development are all done through the Dementia UK Academy.

The complexity of services and service provision is mind blowing. My county still hasn’t commissioned Admiral services for some bizarre

We decided to have a working lunch as we had so many questions for Julie on recruitment and contracts, especially in the counties where there are no Admiral Services.

Dementia UK value our existence hugely and DO listen to our experience so the partnership and engagement works and we know we have the influence we all yearn for.

George presented Gill with a thank you painting he’d done – George adores painting for relaxation and is wonderful. He’s only just started in the last year so has surprised himself!

So lovely to actually see one another containing much interesting discussion, facts revealed and thought provoking ideas produced from our heads…………AND I revealed my final wacky challenge of the year……but you will all have to wait until my blog tomorrow for the detail 😂

Final photo before I left….feeling exhausted after all the excitement of the week and tackling the journey home was my final challenge….🙈🤞

A very special meet up……

Myself and fellow Amigo, Gail, have been tying to meet up face to face for a couple of years now, maybe longer! and each time we planned something, something else prevented our real hugs. However, Gail decided to come back to East Yorkshire, as she loved it so much the last time she was here (and I happened to be at her side of the country 🙄🤣) particularly Bempton Cliffs. The only day I was home was the day after I flew back from the Isle of Lewis, but I just couldn’t miss out on the opportunity. And so it was that me, Gail and her hubby, decided to meet at Bempton Cliffs.

I hadn’t got back until around 8pm the night before but left at 07.25 to trundle in town for the train. I was exhausted from all the travelling of the day before, but the excitement was bubbling up inside me and gave me energy I needed for the day. Gail was diagnosed just before or during lockdown 🤔 and had joined in a zoom where I was reading from my first book. I remember being drawn to this petite Lancashire lass when I saw her name on Twitter and found out she too had a blog 😍. Also she lives near my childhood paradise of Blackpool! We then met online in a DEEP zoom group and our friendship began…..and then grew as we formed the 4 Amigos.

We both have a love of photography and nature so have lots in common, including our Nikon cameras..

Anyway….I set off for the station. It was misty in the distance and quite cloudy as I clicked the Black Mill

It had felt like ages since I’d seen the town cows, but in reality, it was probably only a few days 🤔

The buttercups were still casting their golden yellow throw over the Westwood 

…and every now and then, the sun peeped from behind the clouds and the shadows appeared

The pasture master mows paths through the buttercups in the hope people will keep to them as so many Skylarks and other ground nesting birds can be found here

I could hear a Chaffinch loud and clear but it took my eyes ages to find this beauty

I was started to get distracted by the Westwood and suddenly realised I needed to get a wiggle on…

The train was amazingly on time, considering the challenges I’d had the day before, but the cloud got heavier as we approached Bridlington

As we approached Bempton, the blue sky and sunshine started to appear. A Bempton volunteer also got off but was too quick for me to keep up and chat with him. I ambled along the long lane, he man still in my sight, when all of a sudden, a car pulled up alongside me. A smiley figure threw the car door open and shouted excitedly:

“Do you want a lift? We’re going that way!”

We hugged each other, squealing with delight, holding up the traffic, before I hopped in the car and we went the short distance to the car park. I’d forgotten I’d also be meeting star of camera and local weather forecast Toby the dog! We got out of the car, more hugs

…and finally got a hug from hubby 😂 I thought, if I didn’t do the selfies at the beginning, I’d probably forget altogether and kick myself when I got home

Opening the boot, another chance for a click, Toby looking very unamused by all this camera clicking 🤣 he clearly wanted to get on with the business of walking 😂

We ambled down to the cliffs, chatting away as we did. I was desperate for Gail to see a Puffin. They were yet to arrive on their last visit a couple or so months ago. I scanned the cracks on the rocks or the little fellas, but could see none.

My favourite volunteer, the Puffin guru, didn’t appear to be there, but another had found one peaking out of a hole, the crack in the rock where its nest would lay. I put my eye against the scope and there he was, Gail did the same. But I knew, she’d be like me and want to find it for herself and click away. The man tried to direct our eyes to the place – a tiny hole beside a tuft of grass and there it was peaking out

It wasn’t quite the show I’d hoped for Gail, but it was the start 😍

We carried on round to the next viewing point, Toby so good and patient, simply going along with the flow. It was starting to get busy and the sun was getting quite warm – I was so wrongly dressed again 🙈

It was John who saw it first this time…he has hawk eyes! it was laying snug just below another crack. Not a very good piccie I’m afraid 🙄

In all the excitement, the other birds had got forgotten 😂�…but then we came to the Gannets, a favourite of us all. Me and Gail stood clicking away (I’m so glad Gail takes just as many photos as me 🤣)

…while hubby was looking through binoculars. But then even he couldn’t resist getting his camera out🤣

Many of the birds were sat on eggs. Every now and then, when they shuffled around you could see the eggs beneath them. It looked like couples dancing and singing, the birds squawking to their partners,

…then settling down again as if it never happened

I just love these birds and their vast wingspan when they take off

All this while, Toby, the adorable Scottie dog,  waited patiently 

The Razor bills and Guillemots rarely got a look in today 🤣

We then decided to have a “see who could get a photo of the Gannets in flight’ competition 😂

Our camera were swerving from side to side, every now and then one of us would shout out “wing’ or ‘tail’ or sea when we totally missed them 🤣 Occasionally I’d get one in shot!

After such an emotionally charged meeting, my brain and body were beginning to flag. We ambled back, retracing our steps

We kept stopping as others cameras were trained in the same direction and followed their gaze. A Meadow Pipit, the target of one group

…and a White throat for the other

Hubby said, “I don’t think shouting ‘Pigeon’ will get many takers 😂”

Me and Gail both spotted a tree sparrow in the long grass

Tiredness was creeping up on me and we all decided we needed a drink. We sat outside in the shade for our last few minutes together. I would normally have gone back out and do the circuit again, but I was running on empty. I left this lovely couple to continue their day and rest of the holiday but not before one last click of me and my Amigo..

A remarkable meet up with two such amazing people, making memories and clicking our Nikons together…..what an amazing morning….as I made my way back home

***Coming this week***!

On Thursday 1st June I’ll be announcing my final wacky challenge taking place in September! I think it’s probably the hardest I’ve ever undertaken, but I’m soooo looking forward to it.

There isn’t really much I havn’t done that I’ve wanted to do 🤔….

I’ve walked on hot coals…




And finally, earlier this year, walked the Infinity bridge

So what on earth can I be doing next? Well look out for my blog on Thursday to find out 😍☺️

P.S from the Isle of Lewis….

Well I thought yesterday might be my final blog from Lewis….little did I know 😂..well I should have realised we’d have a lovely early morning. So today a P.S blog from Lewis on my final morning and journey home.

I’d started the early hours off with a banging head. Around about 2am I’d woken confused and wooley, my mind not able to focus on place and time. I must have drifted in and out of sleep as the next time I woke, it was 5am. I could see it was grey outside my window, my head beginning to clear but still heavy with confusion. By 6am, the sun was shining and only remnants of the fog in my head remained – I could feel it just around the edges, but clearing thankfully. I got out of bed and took photos of the sheep still snuggle on the ground from their nighttime slumber

I heard movement just before 7 and Philly’s familiar voice called good morning and brought me my final cuppa in bed – I really must get Alexa on that case as it was rather nice for a change 😂

We’d decided, for our final early morning walk, we would go to the bird hide and as we stepped outside, the familiar Lewis breeze was blowing. Yesterday had been so unusually calm, that today it was more noticeable. First passing by the lambs

Then by the yard, full of broken tractors and farm machinery, where the hens appear to rule and have made their home😂. I’ve seen so many flamboyant breeds and this one was equally exotic 

30 minutes of so, into the wind, we arrived at the field that would take us to the hide

The horse grass that lines the walkway was peppered with dew. Such a striking grass but not very popular on the isle🤔 can’t remember why 🙄

Inside, we were on our own, opening windows and the side shutter to give us a 3 sided view. The geese were parading with their goslings, me willing them to come into the shorter grass 😂

A grebe ducked and dived, but the sun was staring directly at us so only the silhouettes available..

…and the Hooper swans were keeping their distance form the mute variety

…the mute swan taking off to the far side of the lake

We’d found a new friend in the form of ‘Merlin’ bird identifier. It can not only tell you the variety of bird from a photo, but also what birds it can hear nearby so it alerts you so you know what to look for – magic! It’s proved so handy when looking for birds and allowed us to track down this Redshank, which the app said it had heard 🙌

…and while the Geese played hide and seek in the long grass 🤣

…the Hooper swan came closer

We heard the Redshank with it’s distinctive cry again and soon spotted it on the bank using Philly’s eyes, then my camera 😂

We’d become a good triple act during our walks – Merlin app telling us what it could hear in the vicinity, Philly searching with her eyes, then me clicking on my camera 🤣

It was so peaceful, so calm out of the wind, but all good things must come to an end. We said, 5 more minutes, then we must really go. Then immediately, a Lapwing landed on the grass before us

Then we both noticed our friendly gull in the same place we saw him last time. We’d nicknamed him Crazy Crispin because of his crazy eyes 😂…as he simply went round in circles in the small pool all on his own

To finish on a laugh was the perfect ending to my final walk, after one last look..

We ambled back, the wind getting even stronger, still not a 5 pegger mega wind, but windy enough to slow me down. But the view once more, made me stop in my tracks and click

We breakfasted on my new favourite of fresh fruit, musli and yogurt before finally packing everything in the car and heading to the airport. We’d done so much, I felt like I’d been there a week!😍

We’d both checked the app and my flight was thankfully on time. I wouldn’t get home until around 8 as it was, so needed everything to run on time.

What a different experience security was 😳🥰…just me and another woman at the time….all very civilised and the staff so helpful. No ping ping of alarms, no crowds, no rushing – perfect!

The flight was on time. I didn’t dare look at the trains – one step at a time. It was sat waiting for us as it had arrived early from Edinburgh 😳…

The stewards saw my sunflower lanyard and asked if I’d like some help with my bag 😍…all just so stress free and relaxed. 

I said a silent farewell to this beautifully rugged isle as we left the land behind

The pilot announced we were just travelling over Sterling

….so I gave a wave to the University, who I’d been doing some work with lately. 

Then he announced we were having to circle as we were early 😳😂…I wondered what circling meant, that was until I looked at my photos and saw I had two the same 🤣

The Pilot had warned us over a bumpy take off, which we’d had and now a bumpy descent as we flew through the clouds

As soon as we landed back in Edinburgh I reluctantly and with trepidation, checked the train app….🙈🙈🙈🙈

“All trains to London delayed “ was the announcement that faced me 🙄….oh well, back to the normality of delays and chaos…the price I was willing to pay for a lovely few days on the magical island of Lewis with the perfect companion in Philly creating beautiful memories……

Red ten on Black Jack……..

Photo of me and Philly 

The second half of my final day…..

Yesterday I told you about our early morning walk on the Sunday – my final full day of my stay, well today, here’s our afternoon jaunt….

Once we’d finished pottering after our late breakfast, it must have been just gone twelve. We’d planned to do another long walk around the other side of Ness. This time we took the car to Europa beach and started our walk from there…

We were doing the cliff walk to the Lighthouse across the Machair – it’s a special unique landscape that’s formed by many million grains of sand and sea shells settling between the beaches and the peatland. Very fertile and in the summer it’s home to lots of species of wild flowers, including lots of orchids and sea thrift

The Machair is also common grazing land for the crafters sheep…

We were totally spoilt for where to look…surrounded as we were by the land and sea

Beautiful coves of sandy beaches below and clear blue sea…

The sheep were quite precariously balanced in choosing a resting place sometimes 🤣

Ness used to be awash with fishing vessels years back, but now only a couple or so roam the local waters around the isle.

We finally reached the lighthouse and sat at one of the picnic tables; Philly had brought us both lunch but I was still full on breakfast, so she ate away while I drank peppermint tea from the flask. Every now and then I’d zoom in to see what I could see…Turnstones were the first spotted

…and a lone Shag on the rocks

Then I spied another first for me – a Ringed Plover 😇

We chatted to locals, who Philly knew, before deciding not to retrace our steps back to the car, but instead continue on and follow the road, which would allow us a detour to see Sammy seal one last time. But before then we were blessed by the site of flock of Terns nesting on the rock edge

We didn’t get too close for fear of disturbing them. Little did we know, but a little further down the road, we’d see even more. Just at the spot where we saw the rare Galcous gull yesterday, today, nowhere to be seen, were lots of Terns having a splash in the pool

Wow, we really were blessed today. I’d been trying to capture a Tern since I arrived but they’d been too swift in the sky, darting this way and that…but today…well, were just in the right place at the right time.

We reached the turning to go over the lady banks, just as yesterday, and head to the cliffs to sing to the seals. Sheep had positioned themselves precariously near the cliff edge 🙈�…it wasn’t until I got home that I noticed the Wheatear in the photo as well 😂

We’d called out to Sammy and he duly appeared, bobbing his head up

Then another special moment with the Terns…one landed on the nearby rocks and called out to its mate

Then flew right above our heads

All the while, Sammy patiently waiting for his photo to be taken

Both Terns then flew around us, their fine sharp detail so close it felt you could hold out your hand and they’d land on you

After another hour or so of walking, we arrived back at the car. However, the sun was still shining and we still had some energy left in our legs, so we headed down to the beach.

This amazing beach is so vast

It isn’t safe for swimmers though, rip tides pulling the current out to sea. It’s a dream of a beach for surfers but none today, however there was someone kayaking, allowing the rip tides to drag them into the waves

…then using the incoming waves for a ride back to shore

Philly sat and enjoyed the sun while I clicked away

On the final walk back to the car we met a Estonian couple, the man balancing stones on top of one another. It was their first ever visit to Scotland and here they were on the Isle of Lewis, absolutely loving it. Philly told them, how a week before, a woman had come to Ness and demonstrated the art of sone balancing on this very beach 🥰 The woman’s English was embarrassingly good, our knowledge of Estonian, non existent 🙄

Having said our goodbyes to the couple, we both started yawning as we headed back to the car. We had, after all had two very long walks and what amazing walks they were 😍

So often on my trip, time and again, we’d been in the right place at the right time 😍�…over supper we tried counting up how many different birds we’d seen on my visit and eventually got to nearing 40 😳!!! So many I’d never seen before, including the Wheatear, Hooded crow, Tern, Rock Pipet and Ringed Plover and heard the extremely rare Corn crake!…I couldn’t have wished for a better trip and the weather behaved! And of course, HUGE thanks must got to my dear friend Philly, who one day, 3 years ago, decided to move to this magical far away isle…🥰

My final full day……

We’d agreed the night before that we’d be out at 7am for an early morning walk. I’d not had a good night and I’d woken in the middle of the night with a banging head 😔 which was a real nuisance considering today was forecast to be sunny and calm 😳…a rare treat when they happen both together on this windy isle…

But at 7am, after a cuppa tea, we did as we promised and headed out into the morning peace…no one else was about apart from the sheep…

…the lambs snuggled together under the old tractor

Philly decided that all our neighbours should be awake and started calling out to the sheep and the more she went  ‘baaa’, the louder the sheep got in their response 🤣…all running towards us

,,,,and look at the sight we were heading towards

A wonderfully elaborate hen pecked about a garden 

We were heading for the cliffs and the sea…and the sun shone down creating a sparkling path across the water….as Oyster catchers lazed on the grass above the cliffs

After climbing over gates and trundling through the fields, we eventually sat for a ponder on the rocks looking out at the view in front of us

The views were simply stunning and we stood and embraced all that was around us

Reluctantly getting to our feet we continued on our way. The strange brick building ahead of us is a Fank

A communal building where the locals bring their sheep to be sheered – the crofters having a get together and catch up while the person sheers their sheep – how wonderful 🥰

Once again, the pull of the sea convinced us to rest once more; the sea crashing against the rockets beneath us

Up on our feet again, continuing our trundle towards the port

On our way Philly pointed out a Hooded Crow…I’d never seen one of those before and when we got back we looked it up and apparently they’re only ever seen in the west side of Scotland, Northern island and the Isle of Man 

Again, we rested our legs to take in the view

…..and watched the Shags out at sea diving under for their breakfast feast before bobbing back up again

We headed home along the roads of Ness, chatting away, when Philly heard the sound of a Corn Cracke. There’d been much excitement on the island as their arrival was recently and these rarely seen birds can often be heard in the rough tussocks of grass around the island. They’d chosen Ness to fly to from the Congo in Africa! Here, the Crofters get a grant for not cutting their grass until mid summer to allow these much in decline little birds a home. They have a very distinctive sound and I didn’t hear the first, but then the second was loud and clear in a nearby rough patch of grass. We waited for ages to hear it again and were rewarded for our patience….by another call. You rarely see these small partridge sized birds, hence no photo!🤣

The local Starlings are very good at impersonating the Corncrake and the locals call them Cornfakes 😂. As we stood, almost home in a neighbouring garden, who allow Philly to use part as a veg patch, we were inspecting the shoots when suddenly a starling perched on the corner of the house and started its impersonation 🤣

Just before we turned into the house, my old friend appeared…the first I’d seen on this lovely island…

Not bad for a morning walk and all before breakfast!!!

We’d been out for well over 2 hours and hadn’t even realised 😳…Philly reported our hearing of the Corncrakes onto the RSPB site over breakfast – so rare are they. In fact in the north of the Island one of Phillys neighbours is  an official Corncrake person who are employed by the RSPB to report on sightings etc – what a job! She foes out between 11pm -3am around the north of the island listening for them 😳

It was nearly 12 by the time we’d finished breakfast and pottering. Philly had made a flask and a bite to eat to take with us on our afternoon jaunt around the other side of the island.I’d noticed Philly has a lovely old slate sign in Gaelic on the outside of her house

Meaning The Old Bakery 😍

And so to the afternoon!….well…when we finally got home, we’d had such a wonderful walk, that maybe I’ll leave that until tomorrow because I’ve got an awful lots to tell you…☺️

First full day on Lewis….

I’d had my usual relaxed but sleep wake night. The island has much longer days than we do and I dozed while it was light and woke when it was light…but to have this scene as company is a sheer delight

Philly brought me a cuppa tea in bed! Something Alexa hasn’t learnt yet🤣…..after a shower we sta in companiable chatter and  had a lovely breakfast of fresh fruit, yogurt and granola – a bit of a novelty for me as the only other place I have breakfast is Paradise!! 😂 The weather was due to be mainly dry but cloudy so we put a plan together for the day ahead, a visit to see Sammy the seal, a top priority on my list. Sammy had been the first seal I’d seen on my first ever visit so is always a highlight…

So breakfast over and done with and the outside calling us, we headed off in the car towards the lighthouse. We parked up at the top of a lovely bay and walked across the lady beds (man/woman made ridges that hundreds of years ago would have had potatoes, oats and barley growing on them….) towards the cliffs where the seals are often found….the views are so wild and rugged

We called out to them singing Sammy’s name and before long a head popped up to see where the noise was coming come 😂

These adorable inquisitive mammals appear whenever we sing

There were Oyster Catches squawking at those other birds flying too close to nests and some just chilling on the rocks

The grey seals would appear, their heads bobbing in the waves

Then in the next moment disappear ….us mere humans never knowing where they’d appear next…

We walked back the way we’d come, passed the car and up the road to the lighthouse

A man on a bicycle stopped to tell us there was a Glaucous gull at the edge of a pool just up on the right – apparently it is very rare to spot one……and it was still there!

There are non breeding visitors from the Artic and only around 150 are seen in the UK in any one year 😳….and we saw one!!!

Philly then walked closer towards them and they all flew off 🤣…but we’d seen it…

We would, actually have passed it by if he hadn’t told us….I was also lucky enough to see a Wheatear…

Another lovely looking bird…And so thrilled I saw something new!

Once we reached the lighthouse, always a mega windy spot, Philly showed me the Gneiss rocks 

……around 4 billion old and the oldest surfaced rocks in the UK, so pre fossil…..😳 the numbers just blows my mind…🤯

There were lots of Shags basking on the rock edge

A young juvenile was also amongst them

Up to the lighthouse next and this marks the end of the Hebridean Way and two cyclists had obviously just finished – 156 miles from the Isle of Barra to the Northern most tip of Lewis, where we were standing…

It’s always so windy up here….there were lots of pink sea thrift on the rock face making the nesting areas for the gulls look so pretty

We walked up onto the grassy bank and had a selfie with the lighthouse

…before heading back down where we saw a Rock Pipit hopping about the grass

Before getting back into the car, we climbed down to Philly’s favourite bay, one where she wild water swims and which Sarah would love. As we climbed down, we were entertained by 5 lambs playing in safe view of their mum

….and as we reached the bottom, it was obvious to me why this is one of Philly’s favourites

A perfectly sheltered bay with aqua blue water. We stood for ages just looking at the view, breathing in the clean air..

As soon as we began to feel the cold, we headed back home for an early lunch….I’d forgotten all about bagels, so it was a lovely surprise and treat for me to have toasted bagels and cream cheese. Philly’s friend popped round and shared a cuppa with us before we headed out for our final jaunt of the day – to the bird hide…

We parked up and walked, with a very blustery cold wind, through the sheep field

The bird hide was busy but a couple were just leaving, allowing us to take their prime seats. The first thing I spied were a pair of Widgeons.

Followed by a goose parading with her goslings in the long grass

A mute Swan was warning of 3 Hooper swans….maybe a nest was nearby

The Hoopers, with their distinctive yellow beaks, decided to wander onto the long grass away from the chasing fellow swan…

We then got all excited as we thought we’d seen another rare bird, this time a Bonaparte’s gull. 

To us, it looked so different from the black headed ones in the field

Lapwings were flying around, warning others away from the ones nesting in the field

Finally, all the other bird watchers had gone and we sat in companiable silence, me with my camera, Philly with her binoculars. But eventually we both started to feel very cold and decided our time was up for today. It was only when we started walking that I realised my feet were icy cold 🥶…..

Walking back through the field, filled with wild flowers, the lambs and sheep, we saw one last bird, perched on the fence post. Another beautiful Wheatear….a nice way to end our day as we headed home for a cuppa hot chocolate to warm our freezing bodies…😂

Flight and first day on Lewis…..

I’d had a much better night that usual for the first night away – maybe it was the new bed!😂 I’d still sleep waked, sleep waked, but have the feeling I got back to sleep much quicker.

I had to look back at my location piccie though, to check where I was and then the rest of my piccies to work out where my bus stop was for the airport, but once I’d done that, I settled down for an hour of routine before leaving…..

My flight was at 11.15 so I decided to leave at 08.45 to give me plenty of time to find my bus stop, and the half hour ride to the airport…..checked and double checked my room before leaving 😂 The massive lorry full of beds had just turned up again for the final two floors to be replaced..🤣…

It was a lovely sunny day and I could actually take my coat off, draping it over my suitcase and walked along to my turning. Once I saw this view I was happy and relaxed

We arrived at the airport, the bus driver having been jolly with everyone who boarded and everything was relaxed and going swimmingly……until…..I entered the airport. Total chaos al around. I don’t remember Edinburgh being so crazy before 😱

I found myself a quiet corner and checked online for my departure ….🙈

I messaged Philly to tell her of the delay in the hope she hadn’t set off for the south of the island 🤞….I decided now I was here I might as well go through check in and maybe escape some of the crowds. 🤪….chance would be a fine thing…I don’t remember ever having to queue in a long queue for Loganair….but today was obviously going to be a different day. An hour later I got through check in, even though she wanted to take my suitcase from me 😱….they never take my suitcase, I always take it on board the little aeroplane 😳….she must have seen the panic on my face plus I was wearing my sunflower lanyard which she glanced at, then allowed me to take it with me 🥵….

I went upstairs to do battle with security next. I hadn’t booked special assistance, but always walk through that line as it much more relaxed and helpful. Again, long queues of chaos 😱….two little children were in front of me, ‘helping’ a stressed dad to put all the right things in all the right trays – what he didn’t realise, was that while he was sorting one out, the children were busy swapping and adding other things 🤣 

I tried to remember what had to go where….checking their trays against my own, suddenly adding the see through bag of toiletries I’d forgotten were in my haversack….the little boys, who were adorable, suddenly started to unpack my boxes 😳…before dad noticed, apologised profusely and ushered them down the line 🤣

My stick was taken off me, an airport one given and I went through the machine – bleeps, lights and more bleeps went off…..😱….I looked all around me wandering what on earth I’d forgotten …security stood me on another machine but took my stick away so I toppled over, being caught in the arms of the security man – don’t know who was more surprised him or me 🤣. A bit more care, and a bit slower this time but then the machine decided not to work 🙈….so I had to be searched manually…..boy had I worn the wrong clothes 😂 The zip on my top, the zip on the pockets of my top….thought that was it but then my legs bleeped…me and the woman looked at each other, me in puzzlement, her suspiciously 😂….but I’d worn the trousers that turned into long shorts….connected at the knees by….yes….two zips 🙈🤣…..

Finally, after 30 long minutes she decided I wasn’t a national security threat and let me through – nice to know they check so thoroughly though 😂…

I collected all my trays, packed everything back up then found a seat to recover on…by now it was 10.45 so I would have been really pushing it if my plane had left on time 🤪….departures too was heaving ….so I got myself a cuppa and thankfully found a spare seat in front of the boards 

…..and tried to transport myself away from the chaos by tapping away at this…..

I appeared to have a large group of happy smiley Japanese tourists following me as wherever I was, they appeared a couple of minutes later 🤔…..I was sincerely hoping they weren’t following me because they thought I knew what I was doing 😳😂…..

The departure gate was finally announced 2 hours later 🙄. I sat at departure gate 5 and my Chinese group appeared 2 minutes later 😳……

When I clearly didn’t know what I was supposed to do – must have looked as anxious as I felt, a lovely man immediately came over from behind the desk, asked where I was going and said he’d look after me…😍 an hour later, he took my suitcase from me and boarded me first, another lovely man meeting me at the bottom of the stairs 😍. Such kindness that saved so much stress. 

Once we were all on the plane, the pilot apologised profusely for our 3 hour delay as the scheduled pilot had rung in sick and he had to come by taxi from Aberdeen 😳…..he then announced that they’d suddenly realised we didn’t have any fuel, so spent another long wait while we refuelled 🙈……the air hostess having a real problem getting the Japanese to understand that they had to keep their seatbelts unfastened while they refuelled. Apparently their interpreter had left them at the airport 😳…I soooo hope another one was meeting them in Stornaway 😳😂🤞

FINALLY we had the go ahead to take off…..the ground beneath us fast disappearing beneath the clouds

Until we reached the height where our seat belts sign went off and I could finally type again…..we were all given a sealed plastic tub of water and a caramel wafer – havn’t had one of those for years!. I snapped away at the scene outside the plane

I don’t know why Airlines don’t offer ‘Delay/Repay’ like the trains 🤔….seems very unfair. We were actually given a food voucher just as the departure gate was announced and only 4 outlets, none of which I’d heard of’, could exchange them 😔

I couldn’t remember how long the plane took 🤔 but the pilot soon piped up that we’d be landing in Stornaway in around 25 minutes, so I put my iPad away, relaxed and enjoyed the views of the mountains beneath us….apparently we were 105 miles from Stornaway……

To say I was relieved to get there is a total under statement….I’d worried about Philly waiting all that time, but she assured me she’d had a lovely time spending money in the garden centre 🤣

We drove the 40 minutes to the very tip of the island where Philly called home….and her lovely smiley face welcomed me into her home..

She showed me my room and while Philly put the kettle on, I sat on the bed and looked at my view….

Fields and sheep with amazing horns….😍

We sat and chatted around the kitchen table and by then it was almost 6 o’clock !! 😳…where had the day gone? After a yummy tea, Philly asked if I wanted to go for a walk by the beach…now usually I never go out at this time of the day, but I didn’t feel as if I’d ‘seen’ the day. So off we tootled to the harbour beach

It was cloudy but so refreshingly wonderful …my face feeling the wind, sea air and all things Lewis once more. Down on the harbour edge, the tide too far in to venture down, the wildlife started its show for us….Gannets swooping and diving into the sea

Me desperately trying to catch them diving and failing miserably 🤣….there were even Terns, but none of my photos came out clear enough to show you 🙈….Fulmars were nesting on the cliff face

….and Shags were bobbing about on the water…

All this in the space of 20 minutes and way past my evening hibernation time 😂

But it was cold and we climbed the steps back up towards the car before heading home for a well deserved hot chocolate …

I may have only been there a few hours, but what a way to end the day…Philly promised we’d go back again, this time to take better photos 🤣…but for now, well my bed is calling me and tomorrow is another day…..

Time away….

Last Thursday, I headed away for a few days break…but not to my paradise of Keswick….instead I was heading back to my second paradise of the Isle of Lewis to stay with my friend Philly….😍…with an overnight stay in Edinburgh before the flight….

I’d looked at booking a train from Beverley as usual, but bizarrely it was £100 dearer than if I got it from York, just a bus ride away 😳. I’d booked my taxi to take me into town to catch the bus but as the time duly arrived there was no sign of him 🙈….I sat on my front wall and suddenly realised he was probably late as it was rush hour for schools and work 🤔… when he arrived 10 minutes late, I asked him to take me to the next village, Bishop Burton, to pick up the York bus there. I’d walked the 40 minute walk the day before to see their pond and if they’d had a shortage of ducklings too this year – I think I’ve put that blog out to go to you in a couple of weeks 🤔

The taxi fare was cheaper to get there too – £6! So along with the £2 spring deal on bus fares, £8 in total was far better than £100 🤪…by getting the train from York I was also able to get first class for £39 so a bargain all round 😇

Gosh I’ve waffled an awful lot there 😂….

I reached Bishop Burton with 15 minutes to spare so I ambled over to the pond, but no sign of the ducklings – they could have been snoozing after breakfast though….I then walked across the busy York Road to the other smaller pond where I’d seen an overload of cuteness the day before…..and yes! they were there again…..

It was too much to resist….I parked my suitcase on the village green and unpacked my camera from my haversack to get a better look at these adorabubbles…..

Oh my….the two families I’d seen the day before were exactly where I’d left them….an older group 

and some much younger and even cuter

They’ll be a blog all about them in a couple of weeks time…☺️…I quickly realised that I was getting sidetracked by their cuteness, drawn into their world and ignoring the imminent arrival of my bus 😳…I quickly packed my camera away, crossed the road and within minutes the bus arrived 🥵….

“You going to York for the day?” Asked the chirpy bus driver….

“No, Outer Hebrides”

At which he laughed out loud and added “Just passing through then!” 🤣

Just over an hour later, I was in York, walking through these familiar street to the station. I could have stayed on the bus to get to the station, but with 30 minutes before my train, I idly ambled through these familiar cobble stoned streets, pausing every now and then to take a piccie…..

I came to Betty’s and suddenly had the idea to get something special for my tea at the hotel in Edinburgh later that night…..

My train was running on time 😳 and I soon found myself rumbling along the lines up the East coast…..this most wonderful train journey is my favourite……

I’d been typing away at this and the next thing I knew, we were just pulling into Durham…with its lovely castle on the skyline to greet us

There was a lot of cloud as we sped along, but still breathtaking views…my favourite as we cross the long viaduct across the river leading out to the sea at Berwick upon Tweed

…and there after the vast North Sea accompanying us on a last leg to Edinburgh 

Disappearing got reveal fields of gold along the coastline nestled at the edges by seasonal gorse, then reappearing 

Until eventually we arrived at my destination.

I was staying at a Premier Inn, of which there are many in Edinburgh.. each time I’ve come here to stay I end up traipsing round until I get to the right one…there are loads in the city centre, all within yards of one another 🙈 and I never find the right one first time, no matter how many times I study the map location😂….

As I came out of the station, everywhere looked the same. I stood at the road edge for ages, looking at the map and trying to decide whether it was left or right, forward or back. At that precise moment, I spied a cab, whiling his time away with the window down. Good job he was free because as soon as he set off, I could see I’d have gone the wrong way 🤣…it only took 10 minutes but £5 well spent….🤣….problem now was I didn’t have a clue where I was 😳…so after a cuppa, camera round my neck, I headed out to do a reccie….

A walk along and down, found me on a familiar street with a familiar landmark..once I saw that, I began to relax..

I headed through the gardens, the azaleas in full bloom

Eventually I came to the street that would take me to the castle, passing “Devil’s Advocate’ ally as I went

…and a lone piper entertained the crowds

The castle was obviously doing well as a placard announced all tickets sold for the day. I just meandered around, then headed back along the same street where I came across uniquely pierced person 😳….the world would be a less colourful place if we were all the same..

Supper bought, I headed to find the bus stop for the morning…all sorted…then finally headed back to the ‘not so unfamiliar’ hotel now I’d familiarised myself with where I was….but as I sat in my room having my cuppa, I took a snapshot of my location, just in case……

When I arrived at the hotel earlier, there was a huge lorry and lots of workmen unloading beds and mattresses…..the receptionist told me that they were having all their beds replaced, as happened every so many years 😳…so at least I knew I was sleeping on a brand new bed tonight…..🤣…….ooooo and then at my side, I spied the Betty’s bag…..needless to say, couldn’t remember what I’d bought 😂….so a nice surprise to end the day 🤣

Tomorrow I’ll tell you all about the flight and my first day on the Isle of Lewis…..