Trip to Bluecoat in Liverpool …

It had been raining heavily overnight – the perfect time for rain 😊…it was 04.35 when my alarm went off. I showered and dressed and sat on my bed with a cuppa looking out longingly at the morning sky, but knew I mustn’t go out this morning as the taxi was due at 6am for my trip to Liverpool. Peaking between the trees I could just see the moon. I looked at my moon web site, which is a permanent feature on my screen and it wasn’t due to set until 07.11. I’m fascinated by the moon, with it’s own rise and fall calendar, its unpredictable nature taking you by surprise some mornings and around some days. Yesterday morning, it was glorious as I started my early morning walk. The moon crystal clear between the houses as it was laying it’s head down after a night shining bright

I was heading to Liverpool to the Bluecoat exhibition centre.

“Bluecoat is Liverpool’s contemporary arts centre, a working home for artists, and a place where audiences can experience art in new ways.”

I was there for mine and Suki’s final event together of her work Conscious.

I’d been hoping to travel the day before and have a look around this, one of my favourite cities, but my busy calendar had thought otherwise hence the silly o’clock start.

Suki was also launching her video – FOG, a 360° immersive video exploring life with dementia. If attending the centre you could view it using a VCR headset – the sort I associate with video games. You can never achieve perfection when trying to replicate our world but Suki has achieved something that comes close when trying to replicate my world. You can view it here on You tube

I only had time for one hug in a mug before my taxi was due 😳 so I’d have to hope there was more en route….

I’d never been to Liverpool on the train before. The last time I went, it was with Sarah

I remember having such a wonderful time. So I had to be doubly prepared, have everything written down. Sophie from Bluecoat was meeting me at the station, so no need to plan a walking route from there.

I had to change at Leeds – a very rare occurrence. I looked up from my screen as I was typing this and saw the familiar white flash of wings of a barn owl, flying alongside the train at eye level in the field by the track. I’d wished I’d hade my camera, wished I could stop the train, wished I could get my phone out quick enough to take a snap….but knew I couldn’t do any, so simply watch its elegant grace as it flew to who knows where…….❤️….

Arriving at Hull, I got a cuppa, sat for a while checking and double checking things, then boarded the train to Leeds. I’d forgotten to put a coat on as it had been warm the last few days and I’d sort of got into the habit of not wearing one. The air was fresh and chilled after the overnight rain, but hopefully the promised sun would warm me up. It didn’t actually look that promising as we crossed the Humber, but I double checked my weather app and yes, it SAID it would be sunny 🙄 I wasn’t convinced 😂

Arriving at Leeds, I’d checked my train app and my next train was from the same platform. Glancing at my return journey I noticed it was bringing me home on a totally different route via Sheffield 😳…I’d worry about that later…..

So now to the final train to Liverpool …it was mega busy and trust me to get on at the wrong end of the carriage for my seat 🙈….I seemed to be going against the traffic 🙄 and then when I got to my seat, horror of horrors….no window 😳😳😳…all I had was a grey wall to stare at 🙈…..red 5 on black 6….as I quickly started a game of solitaire to allow me to calm down and think….I stood up and looked further down the carriage but it was just packed…I was stuck….maybe someone around me will get off at a stop soon 🤞but they didn’t…..and I couldn’t even get a Wi-Fi signal so also couldn’t do the writing I needed to do 🙄…..moral of the tale…never book seat C3/4 on a Transpennine train. If only I thought I’d remember 🤣…..

At last, Manchester Victoria appeared and most of the train departed leaving me seats to choose from 🥵….I’d become totally discombobulated sat, in what was basically, a cubicle with no window 🥵

Another hour for the journey and that would hopefully give me time to regain my head. The sky line of Manchester looked very grey….

As we reached the last station before Liverpool, the lovely scouse accent appeared……

And reaching my destination, Sophie was there waiting for me with a smiley face…..we ambled along the streets of Liverpool for just 10 minutes before reaching the wonderful Bluecoat building. The first brick was laid in 1717 as a Orphan Boys school and not changed until 1927 when it became an Arts Centre. Many of the original trustees and subscribers were engaged in the transatlantic slave trade, which is why many people have questioned the buildings existence at all.

A stunning building to work in and the oldest in the city centre that has a sad history of being built from the slave trade…but they have an exhibition of that on at the moment to try and be open and honest about their history and origins. But as I said out of bad beginnings came a good future………

The one thing I instantly liked about the gallery, is the fact that it has no airs and graces. It’s a gallery for the people to enjoy with all sorts of exhibitions

One exhibition actually welcomes you to the gallery in the form of giant inflatables outside in the courtyard

After a cuppa and a selfie with Sophie, who’s worked in this wonderful place for 4 years

….we headed into the galleries to see the first film…..there were comfy armchairs and settees…..the ideal way to view…

The Fog in my Head first…..in which I say….

I have to believe in me…..you’re in familiar surroundings but you can’t make sense of them. You can’t work out the reality. …..so many people feel this fog yet don’t understand what’s happening to them…..

…..and there’s that stunning image of the bees……

It was amazing to see the film on a cinema sized screen. It gave it so much more power and atmosphere. The sheer size of the screen did what any cinema screen does and totally immerses you in the images appearing and the voice speaking, in this case mine.

The next was on smaller screens, the film with me and Pegeen. The first and immediate thing I noticed was how different my voice was on this one; more confident, more how it used to be. I said this to Suki afterwards and she confirmed that one was made first, 4 years ago.

I can’t share the films as they’re on tour at the mo. They’re also due to be seen down in Portsmouth, Somerset and Isle of Portland – we used to regularly visit Portland when the children were small and we always thought of it as a mystical, magical, ghostly place….

Finally, it was time to go into the room where we were having our talk. It was set out like a lovely café with tea and cake for all the guests …we wanted an intimate friendly feel to the session and people seemed to appreciate it and all tickets had been sold. The sound people getting ready to record the session….

It seemed to go really well, with lots of laughter and a few tears but people were very receptive to mine and Suki’s conversation. Obviously I wasn’t typing during this so not sure what was said..

But you can listen t it on the link below

Many people came up afterwards to chat. Most of the books I’d brought to sell were sold and Louis had laid a few out at the beginning with the pack of cards illustrations

Luckily for me, Louis from Bluecoat took care of that so people could pay by card. Susan, who reads my blog came to say hello and have a hug, as did a wonderful professional. Her department works with people with dementia but not until they’re in crisis. She has this amazing vision of being a department that works with people from the start, preventing the crisis from occurring. To help people start to live after a diagnosis. I told her about our Good Life course and now she’s going to message me for an introduction to Damian.

When the audience had left, some lingering longer than others, Louis and Sophie took us outside for lunch in their wonderful garden. I had toast 🤣 which I just love because of the smell.

In the blink of an eye, my time was up and my train time was fast approaching. I couldn’t believe the 4.5hours had gone so quick! I still had so much to see, so much chatting to do with Suki but time ran out and Suki took me back to the station where I’m typing these final words….

Now it’s also the end of Dementia Awareness week…..all week Bradford University has been publishing quotes from their Experts by Experience and this is the one I gave them. It doesn’t just apply to those with dementia, but to anyone……if you zoom in you’ll hopefully be able to read it …..

The start of another Good Life with Dementia Course…..

I’m so happy our course has taken off in some areas. Even my own area in the East Riding commissioned one to start the other week, making it their 3rd in a year, so small steps making a big difference to many diagnosed. A course designed by people with dementia and delivered by people with dementia in my support group, Minds and Voices, to those recently diagnosed. We’re not naïve enough to think we can do it all on our own as we’d get in a pickle, get side tracked and chat amongst ourselves 🤣 so we have our able enabler Damian to keep us on track.

It was a glorious morning but I knew I mustn’t be tempted to go out. Typically the day before, when I was home, was grey and rainy 🙄….

Me and playmate Barbara were due to be the tutors this week. We give all my playmates in Minds and Voices a chance to be a tutor if they would like to be.

I was getting my things together, talking to myself as I did, checking things off out loud as today I wouldn’t need a coat and so much usually goes in my coat pockets 😂…..then the ping came on my phone to tell me my taxi had arrived. The taxi driver was a chatty fellow and had obviously been listening to the news on the radio, so the short drive was taken up by him telling me of the nonsensical mess politician make of things; how illogical and complicated they made things. Between us we came up with the answers for the topics of the day and as we pulled into Saturday market square, we’d put the world to rights by using simple common sense🤣 and the sun was shining…

The bus ride was a joy in the sunshine. The town cows were leading one another through the buttercups to their first resting place on the Westwood as the bus trundled by…

I got lost in some other writing and before I knew it we were in York. The journey that takes over an hour gone in a flash. As I crossed the river I looked longingly at the footpath besides but took a piccie instead of the oarsman getting ready for their mornings training

Damian picked me up opposite the station and we headed towards Lidget Grove. This course has been funded by the local CCG. We were expecting 8 people but 2 had rung in not very well. So we were down to 6. People started to arrive and we were soon laughing and chattering. The lovely Irish Alice arrived with her crack and filled the room with her tiny presence. The lady next to me, Helen, suddenly asked me where she’d seen me before….there followed the most gentle conversation that made my day. She looked all serious, and said…

You helped me so much, 2 years ago I think, when I saw you in a magazine and read your book . I’ve seen you everywhere! I can go home and tell people I know Wendy…….” Her eyes were alight with joy and so must mine have been. People don’t realise that when they say things like that it makes my day too.

By the time everyone arrived we numbered far more than the 6 we expected – Damian had forgotten who was coming 🤣…he’s been working with us far too long 😂…

After so much chatter and laughter we finally started and gained some order of some kind. We went round the table and introduced ourselves finding out how people had heard about the course. One was from the memory clinic, which was one more than last time, so progress is being made.

One said “ I never had any blood tests or any tests which I found disappointing – the nurse who visited the house just said, ‘You have dementia’…..so I felt disappointed and coming here today you might be able to wave your magic wand and tell me all about it – it’s only what one nurse said” he accepted what she said but afterwards, she just kept on walking and said nothing else, no explanation…….whether he’d forgotten any other people or any other tests is irrelevant as that one occasion is the one that stuck….

Damian was very good at continuing this conversation. How it must be very difficult to understand and accept there’s something wrong when you feel as you did. It’s often others who notice the problems.

One thing I like about having dementia is we’ve met some really nice people” said one lady.

My double act partner for the session, Barbara, said the first time she came to Minds and Voices, she told her husband she wasn’t staying and was only going once. She came out of the first meeting and said to Colin:

I’m coming back next week. It was like getting a whole new family. My older friends moved away, but that’s not how it should be”

At first one person was told it was Parkinson’s – that was 3 years ago, then a few months or so ago, was told it was Lewy Bodies dementia. This lovely lady heard about our course from Sarah the researcher who works with Dr Chris, clinical psychologist, who me and Damian are working with in a research project to prove this very course works!

Just fabulous stories. Who’s best to learn from, than others with dementia. Clinicians are rushed and simply don’t have time. They have a clinical view of dementia which is very negative and they come over negative. Then someone said it’s what’s you read. One playmate read all the books she could about dementia and she threw them all away because they were doom and gloom and then mine came along…☺️

It was a wonderful start and the tea break was full of conversation, huddles of people chatting, getting to know one another, sharing stories and making new friends. Just wonderful nuggets of ‘champagne moments’ as Damian calls them.

One said Boots the chemist opticians had a sign with the sunflower lanyard on saying if you see anyone wearing this they may need extra help. They then went onto say:

we didn’t’ get any help but at least they had the sign’ 🙄

Goes back to what we say about our invisible disability.

We finally finished by going round the room asking everyone how they found the meeting. Well……it started with chatter and laughter and ended with chatter and laughter

You’ll have the kettle on next week won’t you Damian?” Said a newbie……

Such a good session. Some had entered the room not knowing what to expect, a tad apprehensive, fearful, some said, but the apprehension and fear was nowhere in sight as they all left the room as though they had known one another for years…..

After Damian dropped me off back where we started, at the station, I’d just missed a bus and Damian asked if he should chase along to get ahead of it. But I declined his kind offer and instead, ambled around this once, what I thought was my forever home of York, until dementia came along, deep in my own thoughts, every now and then looking up and taking a snap of my own ‘champagne sights’

In the museum gardens, where so many were lazing on the grass having picnics in the sunshine…

A talk to Adult social care staff plus Talking Heads for the Ministry of Justice…..

Bet you’re wondering what on earth I’m going to write 🤣

Well in case you hadn’t been aware, this week is Dementia Awareness Week….I used to make a big thing of it, naively thinking massive changes would occur because of it….. but now it’s become tiring as dementia isn’t just for a week it’s now for life. Once the week is over, dementia gets a back seat again and rarely does it make any difference. However, I’m always kept busy with offers of talks and have been booked up for months…..

So Monday morning of this hectic week was taken up by a talk to North Yorkshire County Council staff during their Festival of Practice. Adult Social Care staff would be the main attendees. The person that contacted me, Tamar Goudie, had apparently met me 5 years ago when I spoke to student nurses…😳…she’s now a practice development person for North Yorkshire Adult social care staff.

The Festival of Practice is a month-long digital event where we host a number of talks and webinars on a variety of relevant topics in adult social care.” So I suppose I fit in nicely into Dementia Awareness week…..

The lovely smiley Tamar and Cara greeted me on screen a few minutes before just so I knew their faces and for them to ask if I needed anything. Then staff from all over the area from all disciplines began to join, from Occupational Therapists, to social workers, care staff, learning disabilities and many more.

They gave me an hour to talk, but I always leave 10-15 minutes for questions at the end. The social care world is very underrated, underpaid and understaffed. Near the end of my talk I said…

“Yes it is a daunting job to transform social care, but then surely it was a daunting job to create the NHS in the first place, but it happened.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if social care was a job of choice, with recognition, status, and a value placed on the skills of the staff?”

I always end on a reading and for this one it was ‘the gift’ of dementia which I love reading. It was so wonderful to have so many disciplines from Adult social care on one screen. Apparently there were over 100 and at the very end they all opened their screens so I could see them and wave goodbye, which felt very special….

My next talk was in the afternoon with staff from the Ministry of Justice…..so a very different audience which I love. But a short walk was in order first to recover from the morning session

A host of sparrows were hovering over the seed heads below….

Although they’re only on screen, they really are equally exhausting as face to face which involves travelling and a longer time period.

Anyway…I was contacted by Darren Fearnley, who along with his job there is also the Carers Network Lead for the Ministry. (Nice to know they have one!)

They have been running a series of ‘Talking Heads’….according to Darren, a bit like the adorable multi talented playwrite Alan Bennett series on TV. I was hooked on that series. The one I remember most is the 1987 late Thora Hird’s appearance in ‘A Cream Cracker under the Sofa’…it was so memorably moving. I love all Alan Bennett’s work 🥰

Alan Bennett is also a Yorkshireman so what’s not to like about this gentle character. I must have watched all his work at various points in my life 🥰 and it’s made me think I should watch them again…

The series of talks at the Ministry of Justice have been run along the lines of The Human Library, having people, who staff may be prejudiced against, or know very little, speak to them, telling them about their lives. I love the concept of the Human Library for reducing stigma against so many groups. So often when you talk to people as human beings, all pre conceived ideas melt away and what you see before you is just that – another human being.

So hats off to the Ministry of Justice and Darren in particular for attempting to reduce bias against certain groups in society. So that’s where I fitted in. Wanting to reduce the stigma and change the associations they may have of people living with dementia…….

It seemed to go well once more. No faces revealed this time apart from Darren, but I suppose Ministry of Justice has stricter protocol for on line talks 🤔

I’d aimed to talk as a more gentle meander through dementia as I really couldn’t imagine how much the audience would know. But one question at the end was asking the difference between Alzheimers and dementia, which I’m always happy to answer as it confuses so many.

Dementia is the umbrella term for all dementias, Alzheimers being just one and the most common but there are over 100 different types and it’s my belief that clinicians have yet to discover many more. Even though I’m diagnosed with mixed dementia, Alzheimers and Vascular, I believe I have traits from other types as well – sooo little is known about the brain compared to any other part of the body”

I’d forgotten how tiring I find two on lines in the same day. I felt wiped out half way through and remember at one stage having difficulty finding my words which weren’t on the paper – serves me right for going off piste 🤣…..

Darren finished the session off by asking them to put to one side their own stereotypical image, the image of someone with dementia as being old, sat in a care home watching telly and instead think of me wing walking……loved that ending

Bits and Bobs of fabulous research……

I rarely type now about all the stuff I’m doing on zoom as I can’t type while it’s in progress and when it’s finished too much has floated away from me. However this week I thought I’d try and collect together a few days of interesting stuff as it’d be a shame for me to lose it….

So…starting with last Wednesday…we had a great session on Zoom with Sterling University. “We’ being the Dementia Enquirers Pioneers.

The session was open to all MSc students – also PhD students and staff in the faculty/university and was being recorded. It was also compulsory for all student on dementia studies to watch it. My books are also on the syllabus so Stirling take their inclusion of people with dementia very seriously – a joy to see.

It’s hard to define what Dementia Enquirers and the Pioneers are all about in a couple of sentences. However, we wanted to investigate the idea that people with dementia could be in the driving seat of research.

the lovely cartoonist Tony Husband provided the image

We are funded by the National Lottery Community fund and are in the last of our 4 years – can’t believe it’s 4 years! Historically ‘research’ was the sole domain of academics with their own jargonistic language in their own world. What we wanted to show was how our two very different worlds could come together for the benefit of both. The outcome would be far richer and more relevant research being carried out. The academic expertise of researchers, working in partnership with our expertise of lived experience bringing about a winning formula.

The Pioneers did this by creating two valuable resources – The Gold Standard Ethics and A Guide to carrying out Research. In these, we demystified the process of research and ethics. We weren’t trying to dumb down and discredit researchers in any way. But we wanted to simplify processes which appeared unnecessarily complex and archaic. Some universities use these resources and they help students understand research far quicker. More importantly they gave other people living with dementia the confidence to carry out their own research in their DEEP group. Just like we did at Minds and Voices when we did our “Living alone versus living as a couple” project. You can read our findings and those of others on the link below

We weren’t naïve enough to think we could do all this ourselves, so along with our able enablers from Innovations in dementia, Philly and Rachael, we also had allies in the academic world who specialised in certain area – e.g. disability, ethics etc. These allies, who included Professor Tom Shakespeare explained the complexities we struggled with, helped us produce papers for journals and were our advisors.
I could go on and on about this passion of mine but more can be found on our website

Needless to say, the session with the students at Stirling went down a storm……and is compulsory watching for their students on the dementia course

Time for a piccie as after the session I needed a walk to clear my banging head….the ducklings entertained me by trying to catch flies in the sunshine…🥰

The following day, Thursday, I was at York University. There I working alongside two researchers, Mark Wilberforce And Louise Newbould on the HOPES Study. Researchers do like their anachronyms 🙈…havn’t convinced them otherwise – yet………HOPES stands for Helping Older People Engage in Social care. Our web site says:

Not every older person is ready to accept support, especially with social care. How can you adapt your care so people engage well?”

Many people with dementia or mental health issues are reluctant to engage in care and we were wanting to find out why and what changes can support workers make to help turn this around An outcome of the study is to produce a training resource for Support workers. Today we were there to record scenarios for the training pack. We were recording just our voices for some bit and in person for others. I was playing a person with dementia who was reluctant to accept help in the home (🤣 typecast or what🤣)……

The taxi was picking me up at 06.50, so I only had time for a short trundle to see the sunrise, but I faffed around so much deciding where to view it from, that when I got to my final choice, the sun had risen 🙄

Thankfully I didn’t have to learn any lines as everything would be on autocue. They could have got real actors, but having real people play themselves seems far more beneficial and would be more realistic. We immediately understand what we’re saying and why. So David, a former carer, played a carer and a support worker would play her own role.

Once there – and thank goodness my taxi driver knew where it was as I’d never been to the East Campus. York Uni is so humungous now it felt like we’d driven out of the Uni and into another…😳

I was the first to join Mark in a room upstairs and we took the opportunity to have a quick zoom with Laura Haviland. We’re launching a new initiative in the Yorkshire and Humber area. The NHS is used to working carrying out research to improve health crae but local councils are totally alien to the concept of using research to improve social care. The Curiosity Partnership is a 4 year project to bring local authorities to work with researchers in developing social care evidence based services. I’ll be there as a member of the public with dementia, passionate about research, telling why they should and what benefits they’ll gain, so there’ll be a blog afterwards.

Other people started to arrive so we ended the zoom and got on with the days session.

They will trial the training resources in June with actual support workers. So the Occupational Therapist and Support Worker, who’ll be delivering the pilot training were there. For them it’s safe learning – there’s 4 modules of teaching and then a few weeks later there’s a reflection session where the support workers come together and ‘bring the problems they’ve encountered since’. The first of the modules includes:

And the carers experience, near the end of the first module is a wonderful piece written and spoken by a carer, detailing his experience and why good support makes such a difference. I heard the man on another occasion reading his piece. Havn’t a clue what he said but I remember it was an emotional moment and a WOW moment to finish the first module. Then he arrived too! so I was able to tell him so.

We were in a room overlooking the lakes. The students here have the most wonderful surroundings but, as so often is the case, it’s not until later in life that you appreciate such surroundings. If I had a meeting in the pod by the side of the lake, I’d never get anything done as I’d be watching the wildlife. In my younger life, maybe I would have seen their squawks as a nuisance 🤔 not sure……

The man doing all the techy bit downstairs turned out to be the guitarists from 90’s Indie group Shed 7 who sang Chasing Rainbows, which I LOVED! He was very nervous in the beginning as I was the first and Louise had probably told him I had dementia. The first major stumbling block was the auto cue – it was too far away and I couldn’t read it 🤣….I just said, move it nearer, but he got in a fluster thinking it couldn’t be done. “There’s always a way”, I said trying to calm his nerves. After a few minutes he had the bright idea of moving it closer …..☺️…bless. After he realised I was ok, I could read and did my bit, he visibly relaxed. In fact the rest of the day was lovely with lots of chatter. I knew Sarah would know the group so had to have a selfie

Our voices for the scenario – of me the the ‘challenging mum’ 🤣 about accepting care – would be overlaid onto the cartoon – I think it will be perfect! We all enjoyed doing it.I can’t believe I didn’t take a photo of everyone 🙈….but a lovely Occupational Therapists and Support worker gave me a lift home as they were from Beverley and on the journey, we put the world to rights 🤣 They saved me nearly 2 hours on public transport!

It was a most exhaustingly long day but different and very good fun.

This project is my first working alongside the researchers in co production I think 🥴. It’s gone really well. We’ve made mistakes along the way when it hasn’t felt like a partnership but tried to find a way to put them right. That’s what co=production is all about. Mark and Louise have been fully supportive of mine and Davids involvement right from the start.

The web site will have all the training material eventually but it’s a lovely friendly web site to have a look through. You’ll also see me and David mentioned alongside the researchers…..

HOPES – Helping Older People Engage with Social Care

Have to end by allowing you to hear Chasing Rainbows….our lovely man is the guitarist

Writing and Creativity with dementia…..

Over the years I’ve often visited Leeds playhouse. The “ever passionate about making it right for people with dementia”, Nicky Taylor, who now has the fancy title ‘Theatre and Dementia Research Associate’ has often invited me over to advise on shows which have a ‘Dementia appropriate performance’. Past shows have included Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Still Alice and I’m sure I’ve been there for other things 🤔…..

Just before Covid hit us all for 6 I was involved with the making of Maggie May by the talented playwrite, Frances Poet. I met Frances, according to my blog 😂, and talked through her ideas along with the lovely DEEP group that has its home at the theatre. Then life came to a standstill and the show, like everything else was cancelled. Well now the show finally gets to be shown on stage…

So last Tuesday, Nicky had invited me and my lovely playmate, Rosa, to be on stage talking about the role that creativity had played in helping us cope with our dementia. To help promote the session, I think we were both asked:

how has continuing to be creative helped you in life after diagnosis?“

My response was:

Continuing to be creative helps me escape my dementia, shows others I’m still a person with talents despite my dementia and in the process helps others to understand this complex brain disease.”

Many of us have proved that creativity doesn’t stop just because we have a diagnosis of dementia. In fact many of us flourish as dementia gives us the space and time needed to enhance our creativity. The lovely Rosa wrote a fairytale during Covid and would be reading that out to the audience, then Nicky would interview me about my books.

Crikey, I’ve just realised I’ve typed a lot without any photos 🤣….so let’s start the day properly. The taxi wasn’t picking me up until 9am, so I had time for my 5am trundle. However, it was a very overcast morning. I knew I would see no hint of a sunrise sadly, but I needed to walk as I wouldn’t get another chance that day ….

Sadly the light was very poor. No dramatic skies this morning…just grey and dreary and my camera didn’t like it one bit 🙄

I saw deer galore typically. These first were passed the last farm as I was heading for the single track road. I took loads of photos but only this one came out enough to show and certainly not perfect 🙈

But never mind, I saw them and watched them and two other surprised me by jumping out from by the fence as I trundled along minding my own business 😂

My camera really doesn’t like low light, which was such a shame this morning as a white barn owl hovered above the grass ready to pounce on its breakfast….but sadly the photos didn’t come out. But I can prove it was real by the blurry scene below 🤣

Spot the owl 🤣

More deer, more hazy photos 🙈

So I stopped zooming in, switched off my camera and simply trundled. By the time I got back the light was better and I snapped a piccie of Wally and friends. They’ve just swapped fields and had a new grazing spot

By the time the taxi arrived, the sky was blue, the sun was shining 🙄…typical….😂

I changed trains at Hull and started my journey to Leeds….the train was calm and quiet as we passed by the Humber

But then all chaos broke out between the couple in front of me. The man couldn’t find his passport. 😳 Bags were unloaded, contents thrown over the seat, arguments ensued about whose fault it was, the air was blue with fouled language as one blamed the other. Wife was going to go without the husband; divorce proceedings were being planned; and I was getting more anxious by the minute 🙈…..

Wife eventually found it for the husband – in HIS bag – where HE’D put it 🤣……divorce proceedings ended and both settled down, on separate seats away across from one another, and turned their backs on each other, a bit like 2 hares I’d snapped the other day after a fight 😂…..

I played solitaire to calm me down 🙄 The recriminations started up again as we reached Selby 🙈……..I was thankful Leeds was the next stop and I was able to leave them to it….

As I got to the Playhouse, Maggie May was being advertised on the boards outside

It’s had a major revamp since I was last here

I didn’t recognise any of it but luckily someone called Maggie saw me through the door and let me in. It was verrrry different. Felt in a totally strange place😳……but I sat on a seat and typed this while I waited for Nicky to arrive with Rosa.
It wasn’t long before two big beaming faces came towards me and we went upstairs to the room…..and an instant time for a selfie

Rosa allowed me to read her fairy tale, Rosa and the Magic Quest….which she wrote with her writing, Barney….wow…

…it was so wonderfully written and included Rosa going out in the dark, which, in real life, she’s terrified of the dark…hence the fairy tale. It was beautiful….and yes, she did go out in the dark….Rosa said writing makes her happy and forget about dementia, just as it does for me 😍

Then the star of Maggie May, playing Maggie, Eithne arrived to say hello…time for another photo

The writer of Maggie May, Frances Poet came to say a quick hello. She couldn’t stay for the session but wished us luck and thanked us for our contribution to the play….

Rosa was extremely nervous, and we tried everything to calm her nerves. Rosa didn’t want to face the audience so she faced the wall to and just concentrated on Nicky as she read her fairy tale to the audience

She was brilliant as I knew she would be but soooo glad it was over bless her….it was then my turn and me and Nicky had planned our questions and I read two extracts from my book about the ‘gifts’ of dementia and technology. It was then the turn of the audience to ask their questions. There were some really interesting ones which I obviously can’t remember now, but I remember thinking they were interesting and different from the norm. One that stood out was from the writer Frances Poet – I’m sure she’d said she wasn’t staying for the whole session 😂,,,,as during my piece I sang her praises. Nicky had asked me why it was important to include us when writing a play about dementia. I said Frances had seen the importance of asking many of us for our views; getting to know us; getting to know the reality of dementia, otherwise how could she have written such a brilliant play. Turns out Frances didn’t leave and was there when I sung her praises 🤣

Someone on Twitter captured this lovely piccie of me and Nicky….

At the end people were generous and kind with their applause and some came up to chat and buy my book. I didn’t take enough so I should have taken more 🙈…felt terrible when one chap came running in at the end when everyone had left as he’d got his money but I’d sold out 🙄

One very special, very precious moment, was when a man living with dementia came to buy a book. He said his son had bought him my first book 4 years ago when he was diagnosed but he’d never read it; he was afraid to. Now he’s met me and heard me speak, he was going to give his son my second book and go straight home and start reading my first as he was no longer afraid of it🥰 – tiny moments like that make all this worthwhile…

One last piccie before we leave of the three of us….it had been such a wonderful session….

As we left, the sun was still shining. I didn’t have long to wait for a train. I used my app to see what time my connection would get into Beverley, then rang my taxi people. They’re the only people I ring because as soon as I say it’s Wendy, they recognise my voice and save me any hassle of having to explain anything. What I hadn’t realised was it was Beverley Races and Michelle on switch said they were chaotic, but to come to the desk when I arrive and she’d sort something out for me 🥰…..that’s why I always use my taxi firm as they always look after me no matter what……..

Another Recovery College opportunity….

The lovely Acho from the Recovery College had asked if me and Cathryn were up for another double act. They’ve all been via Microsoft Teams lately and we did think about having a face to face this time, but sadly we’re both so busy that it’s much more efficient for us both to do it on line for now and it means we can open up to others outside our area, but sadly only those in the UK – sorry my overseas pals.

Keep having to use this old piccie of us as we havn’t seen one another in ages!

And so the date we decided upon is Tuesday 19th July 10.30 -12.30 online via Microsoft Teams. So if anyone would like to join us for our session on Living with Dementia you’d be more than welcome but you need to register even though it’s free. So click the link below and it will take you to the right page

https://humberrecoverycollege.nhs.uk/

You have to sign up and register simply so they know genuine people are enrolling for our sessions….

Anyone can attend – those affected by dementia, healthcare professionals or anyone with a curiosity to learn more.

….or if you have any queries beforehand you can email them on:

HNF-TR.RecoveryCollege@nhs.net

It’s not spring until the town cows are out…….

I adore our town cows, and miss them in the winter, but when the new batch are allowed out in the spring, the whole of the town meadow comes alive with our four legged friends.

According to Google:

The vast greenspace on the edge of the East Yorkshire market town has been used as farmland since the 11th Century. It has been managed by the town’s pasture masters since 1836 when legislation was passed to give the freemen of Beverley the right to administer the pastures and enact bye-laws. “

And we still have a pasture master now looking after them. They have the freedom of the Westwood and have right of way wherever they decide to go….love it.

They were let out a week or so ago, but I hadn’t seen them as yet. But this particular day, I decided to walk into town with my camera just in case they were there. Before that though, my early morning walk. It had been a miserably grey few day and this day was forecast to be the same, so I was surprised that the first thing I saw as I entered the gallops was a rainbow!

Don’t associate rainbows with early mornings for some reason 🤔…but as I turned the corner, an even bigger surprise as the sky was on fire

The clouds looked like thick smoke bellowing out from the rising sun

Such a the dramatic scene lay in front of me

Within the few minutes it took me to get to the lane, the sky had calmed, the fire had been extinguished…just a gentle glow now as the embers had been dampened down…

I ambled along, lost in my own thoughts and songs in my head, my eyes scanning the fields and surroundings for life but it was a quiet morning for my camera. Turned out I wasn’t quite quick enough this morning. I spooked a deer as I came up the hill and it ran into the trees totally out of sight. Another peered at me from behind a fence

But a beautiful white owl captivated me into stillness and by the time I thought to lift my camera it was gone 🙄

The lambs in the field were much more accommodating

It was simply a lovely morning walk after that. The overnight rain still in evidence on leaves

I thought I wouldn’t see a soul, until I heard the familiar sound of paws racing towards me

Stuart was nowhere in sight, but Merlin knew I was ahead somewhere and found me. We waited for Stuart before ambling home chatting about the week ahead, Merlin at our side….

It was after my morning cuppa that I decided to walk into town in the hope of seeing the cows…

The Pochards have settled in so well at the pond. It’s as if they’ve always been here and not just a few months

As I ambled out of the village the farmer was busy in the fields to my left, but on the right I could see something and wasn’t sure if it was just a pigeon….but no…as I zoomed in I saw a partridge

I’d forgotten how special their markings are but then I don’t suppose I’ve seen them that close before 🤔…then another popped out of the crops

I stood looking and watching them for ages before I remembered I was heading for town…so many different blooms in flower in peoples gardens as I pass…a magnificent ancient wisteria, now in full bloom

….early clematis with hand sized flowers

…and lilac buds just beginning to burst

As I reached the Westwood I could hear the cows before I could see them 🤣 When they’re newly released, they’re so full of themselves, skittish and so full of life. Must be strange going from a barn to the wide open space of the meadow, but how wonderful. It hadn’t taken them long to learn how to control the humans in their tin cans 😂

Half would cross, then the other half would think about it, then the first half would cross back over again – so hilarious to watch as cars nudge their way with trepidation. They all just pass me by as I stand and watch. The occasional one more curiou….

Before they head towards the mill, looking delightful amongst the buttercups

The cows and buttercups go together like fish and chips….a perfect match

And so they all march off to investigate more of their pasture…an outdoor tradition at its very best

Happy that I’d finally set eyes on them, I headed into town…..secretly hoping they’d hold up the village bus on my way back…..🤭

London on a Saturday……

Before I start, I have to tell you about a young girl I met the day before I went to London…..I was just finishing my afternoon walk and heading home by the church when I saw a young girl with two adorable dogs. One was a puppy – a German Shepherd I think so I had to stop and say hello. We got chatting and it turns out she had JUST moved down from London to be a dog walker in and around our little village 😳….she said it was the best move she’d ever made. She was so happy now and looked after lovely dogs all day every day….How brave of her to make that move not knowing anyone and moving from city to countryside….her face beamed with happiness and Leah the puppy was just adorabubble….

So the morning of the journey arrived, last Saturday. The taxi was picking me up at 7am so sadly I wouldn’t have a chance to do the sunrise trundle, but I woke at 04.30 and lay thinking….well just a short walk won’t hurt. I wouldn’t get a walk in at all as I wouldn’t be getting back until 9pm. After the ambulance day I was purely and simply exhausted. That had been the first day of chatting to people, socialising for so many hours and this would be the same, so a walk would start my day off well, even if only for a few minutes…

I wouldn’t have time to go round to the field to see the sunrise but the morning air was so fresh, so clean and so peaceful except for the birds accompanying me….and the sky was morning fresh..

The overnight rain has taken away the dusty dry atmosphere; the grass wet and watered, droplets of rain still to fall from the branches.A simple walk in a circle, around the pond, where even the ducks were just waking and back home again. May seen a waste of time for many, but for me it was essential…

Back home and I showered, had my cuppa and in no time the taxi arrived. Once in Hull, it became apparent that my train would be chocca, with football fans gathering at the entrance, parties of friends meeting and greeting. That explained why I hadn’t been able to book a seat, so knowing it was too early to get on the train, I headed for the platform, the empty train waiting patiently for the staff to arrive and I scanned the windows for the green available lights, then waited for the doors to be opened.

Finally off, we crossed the Humber, the sky peppered with clouds, the water still and sparkly..

As I’m reading through this, I’ve just realised I havn’t said why I’m heading to London for the day 🙄….

You may or may not remember the work I did over the last few years with artist Suki Chan? Our partnership ended recently but I said I would honour the two exhibitions I’d agreed to and the first was in London and I was very excited to see Suki again. It was taking place in a gallery based in a Georgeon House, the home of Danielle Arnuad. The following one in a week or so will be at the Blue coat in Liverpool, a much larger venue, but this one would be a delightful quieter, more intimate affair with guests invited. 😍 it would be the first time I’d seen the exhibition of our work. Obviously I’ve seen each component, just not everything as a whole. In the afternoon, once the guests arrive, me and Suki will be in the garden chatting about our work and my books…

I was thinking this was the first time I’d been to London since Covid began, but then, when I looked back through my blogs to check, I was there just a few weeks ago at the House of Commons with Johns Campaign. However, I can remember absolutely nothing about getting there 🙄…it was if I’d been transported in Dr Who’s tardis and back again…😂…if only!

So today, I was on Hulls train so no changes from Hull and was simply enjoying the scenery as well as typing every so often….there was a gentle hum of conversation around me as thankfully someone else must have got all the football fans in their carriage with their crates of beer and loud raucous conversation….hopefully they’ll be in the same good humour on their return if their team wins and hopefully not in my carriage 🤣

Groups of women boarded further down the line, dressed to the nines for a day out in London, squealed with delight at jokes and the announcement at the next station that the ‘provisions woman had arrived’, unpacking bottles of champagne and plastic glasses, nibbles and snacks for the journey. Children settled into their games after their excitement died down and slow but surely the relative peace of gentle conversation accompanied the rumbling of the train…

We sped through the counties, East Yorkshire, turning into South Yorkshire, then Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire…..I scanned the fields for wildlife, my eyes going dizzy by the speed. I froze scenes in time in my minds eye and imagined the snap of my camera, occasionally quick enough to capture the scene…

….countryside turning into towns, towns into cities….and finally the heavily populated, high rise London arrived…..a world away from my village and I suddenly felt homesick…..😔

I’m typing from now on using my photos and a few notes I put in my phoneas prompts as I’m on my way home on the train….

Suki was meeting me at 11.30, under the information boards where I ask everyone to meet me…I hung around watching the crowds rush around me, others chatting, greeting, hugging long lost friends….then a smiley face approached me….I began to relax and the corners of my mouth turned into a smile..after a long hug we left the station to find a taxi. Suki, being a Londoner, had the magic app where you book a taxi and it appears as if by magic. But the few seconds of waiting were taken up by a selfie

We were travelling to Kennington and under grey skies, which I wasn’t expecting as I ordered sunshine 🙄, we crossed the Thames

The manic London streets were a shock to my system, just crowds of people everywhere you looked and Suki pointing out landmarks as we switched from street to street. Eventually we pulled up outside large tall Georgian house and were met at the door by a wonderfully smiley petite woman – it was Danielle the owner. Danielle is French and has a twin gallery in Venice, Italy.

I’m not sure what point everything happened, but Suki showed me around the gallery. The first thing I noticed was a poster of all the playing cards and quotes. Some quotes from me and some by others

I was an actual playing card, the Queen of hearts ☺️ And alongside, one of my quotes

Inside another room was a photo of myself and Pegeen, a wonderful Irish woman, who also says in one of the films, that she has lost all fear since dementia, just like me. I was able to meet and talk to her god daughter, Veronica today.

We then went and sat in one of the galleries and watched the first film that included myself and Pegeen along with others voices.

It ends with a tunnel getting smaller and smaller until eventually the dot disappears and the credit roll.

It was marvellous to see it on a big screen and very powerfully emotional.
I think from the time on my photos we must then have had lunch. What other gallery could you visit where the host and owner makes lunch…..😍….I was out of my comfort zone when asked prior to our visit, what I’d like for lunch, so asked for something I love the smell of – toasted muffin. Such a simple request and while the other tucked into quiche and salad, I ate my toasted muffin. Suki had also brought some of her Chinese flower tea, so all sat entranced by its unfurling

Before the guests arrived me and Suki went upstairs to watch The Fog in my Head film that includes amazing footage of bees…

This was the first time I’d seen it in its entirety I think 🤔 This one was just me and it was quite hard watching it as I became immersed in my words and the images before me. The music is hauntingly calm and matches my words perfectly. I didn’t remember saying the words but know it was me. I found myself nodding in agreement at what my voice was saying…..but then I would…..

The map of the country at night from space is a favourite of mine.

The changing lights representing the light bulbs in my head flickering and failing. The swirling fog, representing the fluidity of bad days, some being dense fog, others being a haze and less intense. Some images of the brain were from scientists Suki met along the way and I met one of the scientists afterwards who is doing some amazing ground breaking work on the workings of the brain from the start of life and how they can almost get to the stage of predicting dementia and therefore how to intervene….such way out science that would change the world we live in…….and I met that scientist at the beginning of it all

From left to right, Suki, Danielle the owner of the gallery, the scientist, Rachel Moore and moi in the garden afterwards.

After the film the guests had begun to arrive and while they were chatting and being seated, Suki showed me the final installation here – the talking tea table

I didn’t get a chance to ask her questions about that – voices were coming from various items on the table – but I’m not sure I understood the thoughts behind that. Maybe I can ask Suki in Liverpool when we meet again in a week or so……

Guests all seated, me and Suki began our chat. We spoke of my reaction to the film and whether Suki had interpreted my words correctly along with detail about our work together, before the audience could ask their own questions. One person actually reads my blog! So hello to you again if you’re reading this 🤗….

If you would like to hear our conversation, you can do so via the link below…but get a cuppa first as it’s an hour long….☺️

After the talk, guests were invited outside for tea and cake in the garden and I met some lovely people. One young girl had come to London from America to study. Her playground back home was near the Niagra Falls 😳😍

….and that’s where my photos end…so we must have all left going our separate ways. In the gallery it felt like we were in the countryside, especially when we were sat outside in the garden with birds singing in the trees. But once outside and back in the taxi, the reality of a busy London came to life, packed streets and a busy station. Now where’s Dr Who and his tardis when you need him…….

As I reached my door, many hours later, very exhausted, on autopilot to get me to this stage, and in need of some of my normal routine, I reached in my pocket for my keys and found a lovely momento I’d forgotten all about……the playing cards that Suki had created…

A trip back to my childhood town…..

I can’t remember how or where I first met Laura from Yorkshire Ambulance 🤔….but I’d made a couple of training videos for their staff and public alike, the link to one is below…

Some time later Laura invited me to speak at their Dementia Campaign Celebration. It had been cancelled a couple of times I think, due to Covid and pressures on the service, so quite rightly so. But eventually a date was set of Thursday 5th May – last week.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read where they were having it…….Pontefract! My childhood home town 😳. I havn’t been back for years, probably since my parents died. I was so excited at the prospect.

I had to put out a post on the village Facebook page the night before, telling my neighbours not to panic if they see me being helped into an ambulance along with a suitcase 🤣….Craig was picking me up in an ambulance needed for the event and the suitcase was full of my books should anyone wish to purchase one.

I went to secondary school in Pontefract, the girls high school as it used to be then as we hadn’t been transported into the comprehensive system back then. I loved it there and my brother went to the boys equivalent, the boys grammar school – Kings School – and the event was being held at The Kings Croft Hotel, very near to his old school.

School days of my years were free from social media, mobile phones etc and I took pleasure instead in all the sports available. Playground bullying, yes, cyber bullying, thankfully no. But any misdemeanours were punished by a visit to the Headmistresses office – Mrs Molly Jackson. I always thought ‘Molly’ was too cute a name for her as she went everywhere with long strides and a flowing batman cape billowing behind her 🤣 We had to wait against the wall outside her office – a red light above her door meant ‘don’t you dare enter’ and a green light invited you to knock and wait for the command to ‘come in’.

Soo many traditions at my old school and I loved traditions; you knew where you stood with traditions…for example the last hymn of every term was always Jerusalem. Assembly was always at 9am and each year had their place sat on the floor. It wasn’t until you reached the mighty realms of the 6th form that you could actually sit in a chair – first year 6th, down the middle of the hall in twos and final year 6 were promoted to the stage……

I had some wonderful times at school…..I wonder if you can pick me out…..the first when I was in the first year

…and this one in my final year…

I’d totally forgotten that school uniform rules were relaxed in our final year 🤔…very ahead of its time…🤔

Anyway, enough of my wistful reminiscences….back to present time…

Originally I was due to meet playmate Gail for the very first time at this event, but sadly she’d had to cancel. But we promised each other that we really WOULD meet one day…

Craig was due to pick me up at 8am. It was 04.30 when I woke. I lay there, toying with the idea of going for a walk but resisted in the end, instead, having my shower and purposely not looking out of my window first. When I did, I could see that for once in several days, it was going to be a lovely clear sunny morning 🙄 with wisps of clouds instead of a wall to wall grey…

Oh well….tomorrow may be even nicer…I put my washing on so I could hang it out before I went and snuggled back in bed with a cuppa, going through my morning routine…

When Craig arrived I was met by a lovely smiley eyed masked ambulance man. I immediately took a selfie 😂 just to set Craig straight for the day ahead.

Off we set….we chatted happily for about an hour about this that and everything – such a lovely friendly caring chap – until suddenly, I started to recognise the surroundings – my childhood home…..Box Lane appeared and I remembered Hilda Pickersgill from the wool shop used to live in the post office on the corner. I used to go and ‘help out’ in the wool shop every Saturday morning, probably while my mum was at work or shopping but I soo loved it ‘playing shops’…….

Then we arrived at the hotel, and I’m sure, my brother will correct me if I’m wrong, but it looked like the place we met after my mums funeral 🤔

….after a piccie in front of our ambulance with Craig

And then with Laura who had been doing all this work

I went for a wander around the grounds…..the views were lovely

And also a twisted marvellous ancient looking tree…

I could have sat out here all day snapping away…..but I made my way went back into the room. I said to Laura how sad it was Gail wasn’t there and bless me, she led me to a board…and there was Gail’s face staring back at me – wonderful…..so I did manage to get a sort of hug from her after all…

The event began and I opened the day ending with my Billy the cat reading from my first book as I hadn’t read it in ages…….their applause was much appreciated.

It was then the turn of Cherry Tatlow from the Alzheimers society…….Who sadly made me sad……when she kept saying, ‘Alzheimer’s or dementia’ – Alzheimer’s IS a dementia…..such a basic mistake which will continue to confuse people if those who are suppose to know, don’t get it right……dementia is the umbrella term for all the different types of dementia including Alzheimers…

Then Karen Owen from Yorkshire ambulance spoke oodles of praise for the lovely Laura and the wonderful work she’d done along with the team. And she mentioned a phrase Laura had said to her:

Getting it right for people with dementia means you get it right for everyone” – perfect..

Then it was the turn of the Blue Light theatre company…..all ambulance people but in a charity amateur dramatic group….they performed a wonderful little play about dementia with lots of laughs and said and did all the right things 🥰…….2 different stories intertwined ..one of a young couple with the dad diagnosed and a mans mum having dementia…..very well done 🙌. that could have been sooo naff but instead was one of the best I’ve seen ⭐️ And I went and told them so afterwards before they left…

It was then time to do some work on scenarios but me and Prof Clare Surr from Leeds Beckett and another researcher whose name escapes me 🙈 went to look round the ambulances….the first was the Patient transport ambulance but I had to stop in my tracks as the slope up into the vehicle was black – apparently I hesitated and looked fearful, which Clare knew wasn’t me……

So that was really interesting….and fascinating to learn all they do……

Back to the workshop, we had to look at images and say which represented dementia best……some we didn’t think any did but it was an really interesting activity.

After an amazing lunch, which went down very well with everyone, people chatting and just enjoying the face to face experience with their colleagues again……. it was time for the final speech….the Trust has supported this event to the full and want to make a difference

So Kathy the chairman of the board for Yorkshire ambulance – said the final words, how the joy of today was seeing people not on a screen and reconnecting in person. The pandemic affected us all and not always in a good day….they put up with the demand in a way not thought possible. She made us laugh and she made us want to cry. In the middle of Covid they took on getting the Yorkshire ambulance to be dementia appropriate. At the time they wondered why when so much else is happening and it was Laura who convinced her why….

People with dementia need the ambulance staff as much as anyone else – we need to be compassionate to all our patients”
And so the day was over friendships reunited, people giving hugs, and simply chatting, just as it all used to be before Covid changed the world…..and as they all scattered back to their individual roles once more, the over riding message came…..

We must do it again!” And hopefully they will….

P.S. well did you spot me? In the first photo, I’m in the middle row, 3rd from the left and in the second, I’m in the top row 3rd from the left….☺️

Home sweet home……

Yes I know in reality I came back from Keswick over a week ago, but all last weeks blogs were already written, taking the pressure away of writing when I get back. But as I’m typing, it’s the day after, Saturday. I’d had a horribly long journey home. It wasn’t that the trains were delayed, it was just that taking a different route meant none of the connections were smooth – it took me over two and a half hours just to get back from York, which is only 20 miles away but a pickle to get home from 🙄…..the total of the journey was 8 hours which is ridiculous really, but hey ho, I was heading home to my own little paradise…..

I woke the next morning though with a banging head from the stress of it all. It was 05.11….I knew the next day would be rainy first thing so the draw of a sunny day pulled me out of bed. Also the sooner I get back into my home routine the better, otherwise it can take days of fumbling for reality…..

So I headed out passed the church and towards the gallops. The sun was just rising up over the hill, which took me by surprise as I thought I’d be too early 🤔…but nature doesn’t wait for my clock…..

I peered through my aching eyes and was glad to be out….looked at my feet and saw there’d been a frost overnight

Back up to the sun rising, inching it’s way up

Turned round to see a dandelion clock, the frost just about to melt, the extra weight having curled it over in the night

Back up, and the clouds gave way to the sun

My feet feeling the cold, I headed up towards the gate and the lane…..it was silent of human noise except for my footsteps shuffling along the gravel and my stick following in time after…two geese flew overhead, confusing me for a second as to my whereabouts, paradise or village…🤔

‘Village’, I said to myself, as Halfpenny cottage came into view…..
No sign of Merlin as I glanced up the lane…so I carried on in my thoughts. A white barn owl whooshed by me, too quick for my camera but lovely to see its glowing white wings in the early morning light heading for the barn in the farm yard.

I came to the brow of the hill and I stood stock still as did deer at the bottom

It’s companion came into view as well, both looking, both happy I was no threat

As they meandered to the field, so I wondered down the lane. As I reached the bottom, they’d reached the brow of another hill and their magical silhouettes appeared in my lens

I didn’t know whether they were looking at me or looking away from me, so I caught them at a different angle to see they were just checking up on me

Until they were happy and went back to grazing for their breakfast

But how wonderful they looked with the sun behind them

Then one went out of view leaving the other on look out

Then both were gone…..a magical moment….on with my walk along the lane to the single track road, but then I heard the familiar noise of one deer calling another…I can only describe it like a dog with a soar throat and missing the ‘f’ at the end…..so ‘WOO’……
The male was calling in the deeper croaky bark, the female responding in a higher tone. Looking for one another or letting each other know where they were. They I saw the lone female, the bright sun making it a hazy image in the field

The male called out again and she followed the sound into a nearby copse…as I made my way along the road, my banging head still throbbing but on the decline, I came to the sheep field. Once more a momentary confusion where I had to stop and think, look around me and remind myself I was in the village

The lambs seem bigger than I remember

The field in the distance full of families all waking for the day

On by the farmhouse and trundling the twisty road, first one side, then the next so hopefully any early morning traffic will see me. Geese waking in the long grass

….before passing by Folly and taking a left back down a dirt track…the bluebells looking more blue and in abundant numbers now

I’ve never seen a fir cone when it’s just starting to appear and I’ve been watching this one grow for weeks now..now taking its shape…

I could here more deer calling out in the dense wood alongside the path, too dense to have any chance to see them but I knew there were there…a comforting presence of knowing animals are out and about….

Through the barley field and out the other side, I start the descent down the hill, Geese flying over my head and landing in front of me in the wheat field

They take me aback for a moment, or maybe I surprised them 😂…zooming into the next field, I spied a hare, well camouflaged on the grass

Then another deer strolls out of the hedge, having a look around, maybe for food, maybe for its friends..

…but after a few minutes decided to head back under cover…

My final stretch for home. I adore going away to paradise but I love coming home to my own little bit of paradise and feel so lucky to have the best of both worlds. I didn’t see any yellow hammers in Keswick, so nice to see one here, eyes tight shut as it tries to belt out a call

Finally back to the village and I take a look at Abbys sheep; very different from the ones I’ve been used to seeing these last few days. No Herdwicks here but instead, Wally and Valley and friends

What a welcome home walk……