My first trundle after being amidst the high rise……

My experience of recording my book was wonderful, but oh how I missed the open fields and birds and ducks………

The first morning after arriving home, I knew my head would be banging, I knew it wasn’t to be a good day, but I was determined to trundle once more in my village…….

My legs turned right out of my path instead of towards the sunrise. I didn’t question it, I just followed and obeyed…..

It was a still cool morning, my breathe leading the way. The sky was clear as I passed by the houses

Turning left into Manor House road, towards the mirage lane, this weather vane always makes me smile

It was cloudy towards the west as I started along the long lane. The farmers wife taking her dog for a walk in the distance

I turned at the halfway point, as I always do, retracing my steps and savouring the open space around me. Images of the high rise flashing into my head and quickly fading away as I was surrounded by fields once more.

At the end of the road, a bird was perched high on the wire. As I zoomed in I saw it was a beautiful Kestrel, I think…….

I watched it hunting for prey, it’s keen eyes picking out the smallest morsel, then swooping down for its breakfast snack…..

Turning the corner, the sun was starting to rise and colour the sky. A different view, but through the trees I could still its beauty

As I walked down the road, more glimpses appeared through the trees….

Then a lone pheasant stood in a driveway, having seen me, wandering whether to flee, but decided instead to stand and pose…

Up through the houses to the back lane, the day starting to lighten…

The sun trying desperately to break through the clouds

Wally and his sheep friends must have been moved to one of their other fields, as it lay empty today, muddy and bare where they’d gorged on all that was green….

As I passed by the squirrel tree, I turned and looked up at their hole in the tree trunk. They were in residence today

One more zoomed in before they decide to hide away

As I reached the playing field the sky was turning blue, maybe signalling a nice day ahead..

Finally the pond, to see my friends the ducks once more. It was too early for me to bring any feed and sure enough, Peter the duck man, was there with his morning rations for our feathered friends. 

We all have our times for feeding the ducks, Simon with their morning feed at 07.30, Peter at 9, then me in the afternoon, with other occasional feeders giving them extra feeds. The ducks know exactly who to expect when…..Peter’s been feeding them for decades and knows each one by sight…., so knowledgable on all things ducks……

We chatted as he fed them before making our way across the wooden path and because I feed the birds at the other end of the pond, they followed, just in case…..

One began as if to laugh at the very idea

But I promised I’d be back in the afternoon……as I passed the village shop, turned the corner of the Dog and Duck, I felt glad to be home……..

Let the countdown begin………..

Noooooo not for Christmas!, that countdown has already begun 🤣……instead the countdown to my book being released…..☺️

After last weeks epic recording sessions, everything is looking good. Bloomsbury have even made me a new banner for my social media…..😍

The team at Bloomsbury have been working their Christmas socks off, especially Jonny, who arranges all the interviews for me and Akua who sorts the marketing….

Akua has specifically asked if I could mention all these outlets where the book will be available and is available to pre order…..

Amazon

The Bookshop

https://uk.bookshop.org/books/what-i-wish-people-knew-about-dementia/9781526634481

Waterstones

https://www.waterstones.com/book/what-i-wish-people-knew-about-dementia/wendy-mitchell/9781526634481

And finally Foyles

https://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/essays-writing/what-i-wish-people-knew-about-dementia,wendy-mitchell-9781526634481

After having read it last week, I’m even more excited…..I can only remember two sections…….the really emotional bits…..the first being all about my friendship with Sylvia, from the day we met, to the day she died……that took me by total surprise during the recording as I’d forgotten we’d written about it, but it’s wonderfully moving. 

Then the only other bit I can remember is the Epilogue – forgotten all about writing that too! But that bit is wonderfully joyous…….. 

So what does my book tell you……well, never give up on yourself, because even out of something rubbish, opportunities can come your way…..

Not long now before you can read it yourself…….January 20th being D Day……..☺️

Did I or did I not finish, that is the question……. ?

So to what could be the final day here recording. We did really well yesterday so Steve said we could well get it finished …😳….I can’t tell you how exhausted I felt last night. I could have walked for miles and not been so tired and whacked. Strange how reading out loud for 6 hours can take so much out of you. I think it’s the shear concentration of having to follow the lines, follow the words, emphasis the right words in the right place and all the time trying not to make a mistake……

Another night of sleep, wake, sleep, which wasn’t ideal, so at 6.30, I gave up and had my shower. It’s a strange darkness here – at home I have the one street lamp outside my house….here there’s a blaze of lights everywhere..

I’ve had a lovely time here, and experienced a dream to record my own book for the UK, but oh how I long for my village and the countryside again…..thankfully won’t be long, just today to get through…..

It looked a very clear sky, from the bit I could see, so I decided to venture out for the sunrise…however, when you’re surrounded by high rise it’s very hard to find it!

I thought I would be on my own but of course, everyone was going to work. They views were different but had a concrete beauty all of its own

I made my way to the water, and again, just beautiful sky…..

I seemed to go all around the blocks and couldn’t find the sunrise. I’d seen a peak out of my window, but then I was 8 floors up……This is the nearest I got….still a beauty all of its own…..

By the time I got back, it was the busy time for breakfast 🙄…..so I made myself some toast and took it back to my room instead of being in the hustle and bustle of the dining room….

I’d just taken my last bite when a loud shrill alarm went off 😳, but thankfully quickly went off – be still my booming heart…..🙈….luckily I heard someone in the corridor shout that it was a practice fire alarm……🙈

Steve came to meet me at the hotel again. Apparently yesterday was his first day as a permanent employee as he’d always freelanced before. So I was his first permanent assignment!

Once we got into the studio it was straight to work, with a piccie for Bloomsbury 🤣

It turned out to be a very emotional morning. I hadn’t been prepared for reading about Sylvia. In fact I’d forgotten all about it being in the book 🙈……it was a very moving piece and both of us were quiet at the end of that section……until the builders started up their drilling and banging again 🙄……….

Eventually I started making more and more mistakes, so I decided it was lunch and cuppa tea time. I went and got myself a cuppa tea and a bit of fresh air

…and sat typing this while Steve had his lunch….

Then it was time to start the final slog in the hope I’d finish today 🤞…..

The workmen continued to stop and start us, but all in all it went quite smoothly. Steve was confident we’d be finished mid afternoon …..of course, I didn’t have a clue where in the book we were or how much there was left. But just as 2 o’clock struck we reached the Eplilogue……a joyous story, which I’d totally forgotten was at the end 😍…it even brought a smile of disbelief to the face of Steve as well as I glanced through the window of my box…..it left me feeling on a high as it really was hard work.

As I read the acknowledgments, I knew that was the final piece………

Thankfully that left Steve on a high as well, mainly because we’d finished early I think 🤣……I managed to get one of the team to take a photo of us

And I was off, feeling as though I’d been there for days instead of less than 2 days……it was lovely to be out in the fresh air and the sky was lovely – what I could see of it as the sun descended..

One hitch at media city tram stop…….there’d obviously been an incident and no trams were leaving for Manchester….instead I had to walk round with everyone else, to the stop I’d accidentally got off on the first day – Broadway……at least it was familiar 🤣……..police were  in evidence everywhere, so something major had gone on, but nothing could take the smile off my face. I’d made my dream come true and finished recording my book in record time………💪🏻😇

As the early train pulled out of Manchester, the sun was starting to set…..and I was leaving the high rise behind…..

Day 1 of recording…..

I’d had my usual first night away or eyes closed, eye balls wide awake, but I felt rested and ready for the day. The strangest thing on waking, was looking out of my window and seeing the concrete of buildings and skyscrapers…..I realised it was pre Covid existed that I’d been in such a situation. How I longed for my trees and paddock to look at as I lay on the bed with my morning cuppa

It really felt alien for a few moments until I shut my curtains just enough to block out the view. How on earth did I used to do this every week, sometimes several times a week? Feels like a lifetime ago.

Sarah had sent me a txt of where I was near – Coronation Street Tour buildings – my mum would have been in heaven if that had existed when she was alive. I was brought up with all the characters from this long running soap and me and the girls would watch it when they were little…..

I went down to breakfast when the sign said it would be quiet, not so quiet that I was on my own, but quiet enough that I could watch a couple of other people to see where everything was. No one had a cuppa tea, so that would have to wait until I got back to my room, and I followed their lead and had fruit juice.

Once back in my room, I still had an hour to wait before Steve was meeting me in reception, so I read the beginning of my book in preparation, not that I’d remember it, but it might seem less unfamiliar if I do, was my thinking.

I knew it would be strange reading my book, after all, I havn’t a clue what we wrote now, so it’ll be like I’m discovering it just as those reading it will. 

As I left my room to meet Steve, I suddenly felt the butterflies of doubt flutter in my stomach. It’s been 2 or so years since I read my last book for America, would I be able to do it again? It’s not like me to be nervous so these fluttering took me by surprise. I started to question my own ability…..

Once in reception I saw a young man sat on a seat on his phone. He looked up, looked down again. It turned out he was googling me to see if it was me 🤣….we instantly got on. We walked to the studio, high rise either side of us. I could now understand why I couldn’t find it yesterday

 – think I’d gone in the totally opposite direction 🙄…..everyone in the office said hello and was friendly

Steve took me to our little box, which would be my home for the next two days

Once he’d gone through things and I was settled, we were off

At first I was stuttery and we had to keep stop starting, but after a few minutes, my nerves were calmer and I got lost in my book – well reading from their ipad…..

The words surprised me; I knew it was me, but it was lovely to read what we’d written and before I knew it was 12.30 and we stopped for lunch 😳……apparently we’d done really well on time…..😇 those words did my doubting confidence a world of good. As I stood up from my chair, it felt like my legs had forgotten to move and my neck ached with sitting in the same position, but it was a good feeling ache…..

Steve showed me downstairs and which direction to head for and would meet me back at the hotel for 1.15….. that enabled me to get my supper and have a cuppa tea while typing this.

Each time we’d been outside today, the weather had been totally different. When Steve met me, sunshine, when he met me after lunch, torrential rain 🤣…..when you’re stuck between sky scrappers you can’t see the sky ahead, only directly above….🙄

So to the afternoon……nearly every building in media city has scaffolding on or near it…..with workmen appearing our of nowhere…..suddenly during recording, a drilling noise could be heard above…we stopped, hoping it was a one off and continued, but it started again..🙈 Steve messaged reception downstairs and after a few more stops and starts, the message seemed to have got through. It’s very strange being stuck in a sound proof box for hours wearing headphones. 

The minute you come back out into the world it all becomes loud and open 🤣….by 4.40, we’d both had enough. My neck ached from sitting for so long and my eyes were starting to be unable to focus. But we’d done really well. Steve said we’d got just over half way so should be finished the next day with no need to come back for another 2 days in a couple of weeks 🤞…….time will tell but now I needed a cuppa and some rest…….once more he escorted me out of the building, telling me how he was finding it very interesting as he was one with the stereotypical images, but could now see dementia in a different light…..😍

As I stepped outside into the dark early evening air, I took a deep breathe, looked up at the clear sky, thankful that I’d got through the first day

Audio recording my new book…the journey…

I was sooo thrilled when the seed of a thought appeared from Bloomsbury, that I might record my own book this time. So when the seed flourished and became reality, I was more than up for it. I’d recorded the US version last time, but not the UK.

When you hear me speak I’m hesitant and often slow, that’s because I have to think of the words; my voice when reading is totally different as I’ve no pressure of finding the words as they’re already there for me waiting to be read….

Yesterday was my journey to Manchester to start the recording on Wednesday. My taxi wasn’t until 10am,so no rush thank goodness as my head was frazzled, as I knew it would be after yesterday. I went out for a short walk, just to get some fresh air inside me. It was crazily warm after the recent minus temperatures………Just one photo…..the pheasant looking as lost as I felt

Luckily I’d packed all my bag the night before and just had to zip it up, so I settled down with my cuppa tea and got lost in thoughts of nothingness. It was only the slamming of a car door outside that brought me back to the presence. I looked at the clock – 09.55 😳…where had my quiet hour gone 😳….the car door was my taxi 🙈. I stumbled around gathering things up, trying to sort myself out as best I could, staggered downstairs and out of the door……goodness knows whether I’ve got everything. I’ll just have to trust that I packed everything last night 🙈…..

I felt as if I was moving in slow motion and the rest of the world was whizzing by me at high speed. I went to the loo at Hull, then had to rush to get my train. I usually have time to get a cuppa but my pace didn’t allow it….

Sat on the train to Manchester my mind was trying to tick off mentally everything I needed. But I soon gave up as I couldn’t do anything about the forgotten now and simply allowed my mind to relax…..

I was going to the end of the line, so I closed my eyes and allowed the journey to drift by……..😴

I opened my eyes at Huddersfield as I heard the tea trolly clanking its way down the aisle ….a much needed cuppa as we rumbled over the Pennines, pockets of unmelted snow still in evidence on the tops….I could tell it would all be gone soon as a haze of warm rain was falling.

Back to drifting again and we were soon in Manchester. I had all afternoon to get to my destination, Media City at Salford Quays, so I decided to have an adventure and try and find the tram……I ADORE trams. I don’t know what it is about them. It’s ever since being a child and introduced to the wonderful Blackpool trams that I’ve had this love affair with them. Oh I know they’re very different nowadays, but they have massive windows, they have a recorded voice saying what the next stop is, and a sign to read with the tram stops as they arrive. But first I had to find them…..luckily a smiley face came into view and he pointed me in the right direction.

I studied the ticket machine for an age and let trams arrive and depart without me….the map was similar to London tube map and I’m familiar with that, so I soon found what I thought was my destination. The instructions I’d been sent by the audio company told me to get off at Broadway so I needed a single ticket to cover zones 1 and 2……then I heard someone close by ask a smiley face which train to get for Media city so I just stood next to her and got on the same tram……as the tram rolled out of the station and back into the light, I’d forgotten what a skyscraper city Manchester is….

As Media City appeared, it felt wrong for me to go one more stop but I ignored my instinct to get off and continued. As the tram rolled out I was convinced I’d seen the logo for my hotel 😳…..so the next stop came and I got off. I saw everyone tapping a machine 😳…and the recorded voice on the tram had said, Don’t forget to tap out” 😳 I looked it up on my phone and it said something about tapping in and tapping out but I hadn’t seen anything when I got on the tram. Suddenly thoughts flashed through my mind of a fine being taken from my account automatically 🙈. I then saw a ‘Help’ button on the platform…..I certainly needed help 🙄….a smiley voice answered and I explained I had my ticket but hadn’t know about tapping in etc. he was so patient and kind and said if I had a ticket in my hand I didn’t need to have done anything. It was meant for the Oyster type cards that I have for London. – Phew! Panic over….

Now I just had to find where I was going 🙈….I soon realised that I should have got off at Media City as I felt like I was going round a building site. I saw two friendly smiley workmen and asked them which way to the BBC, as then I’d know where I was…..without hesitation, they smiled and said, “Follow us, we’ll take you there”……😍 I said how I didn’t remember it being this big and they said it increases in site every single week as they build more high rise….once they left me I saw the big green logo that I’d seen from inside the tram – yup that was my hotel – instead of a 2 minute walk, I’d made it a half hour one 🤣…but at least I had a look around 🤪

Once I’d check in and dropped my stuff in my room, I immediately went out to get orientated as to where I was in relation to everything else. I found the tram stop for my journey home – the 2 minute version….

If you zoom in and look closely you’ll see the BBC on the right and my hotel logo to the left of it. so close yet so far🤣

I found somewhere to get a sandwich for the evening – I even found the Blue Peter gold badge walk 🤣…..Thankfully I didn’t need to find the audio studio as they’d kindly offered to come and get me on the first morning, which is a good job, as I couldn’t find their building 🙄…it’s probably a couple of years since I was here last with my first book, but, boy, has it changed

Happy that I knew where I was, I went back to my room for a cuppa or 3. Damian had asked me if I’d zoom in and say hello to a couple who had just finished his ‘Getting Along’ course, Margery and John. I knew I’d be snug at the hotel by 4, so we agreed I’d join them for a quick chat then. His course is so valuable to couples when one person is diagnosed…

http://dementiavoices.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/GA-A4-flyer-draft-v1.2-200317-ENGLISH.pdf

They were such a lovely couple. I love how John called it an ’us disease’, just as I always say, ’when I got the diagnosis so did my daughters’….It was their daughter apparently, who contacted Damian after I mentioned his course in one of my blogs. as Damian said, it’s now come full circle now that we’ve met, if only virtually. After we’d chatted for a little while I left them with Damian. Meeting new playmates is always such a treat.

I looked out of my room window and saw media city lit up like the proverbial Christmas tree, so decided on one last wander around.

So many high buildings

All you could do was look up…..once I’d had my fill of fairy lights, I headed back to my room, happy in the knowledge I knew my way around the tiny bit I needed to know…

A busy few days…….

The day after coming home from paradise I had the inevitable banging head. It was as though I’d forced it to stay away while I was there, but as soon as we left I could feel it was dementia pay back time. I woke feeling as though it had a vice round my head and was slowly turning the screw 🙄….I went outside as much as I could simply for fresh air and to get back to my home routine. As least the ducks were pleased to see me….or maybe it had more to do with the food I’d brought 🤣

On Saturday afternoon it was the dress rehearsal of the village pantomime and one of the cast had said I could come and watch while it was quieter 😍….my head still wasn’t back to normal, but I had to get out. We’d had storm Storm Arwen passing through, so trundles were out of the question today, so the panto at least gave me a bit of fresh air….

However, when I got there, I was told it was going to be quite full as not everyone had been able to get tickets for the main performance. I decided to sit at the back so I could sneak out if it got too much. 

It was soooo good. With songs where the audience joined in, like YMCA, The Twist, the ugly sisters singing “I’m too sexy” and it was all set in Walkington with local references. They did brilliant and the costumes were so funny too. But I left at the interval as it was all a tad too much “Oh no it wasn’t”……sadly oh yes it was…..I also found it a tad disorientating, which surprised me. The curtains were closed so we were in the dark so time became really confusing…..oh well, at least I saw some and the whole weeks shows are a sell out, always are apparently…

In the evening I was due to go to the village lights switch on by the pond, but the pantomnine had finished my head off good and proper and I never made it.😔

The following morning, I was still not quite right, but decided to go straight out for the sun rise to see if that would help. We’d had a stormy night but it had passed over now and had left a sprinkling of magic white dust…

I soon realised I was actually a tad late for the sunrise, but it was still a beautiful sight, but bitterly cold. I’d even had the sense to put my snow boots on as it was an ice rink underfoot.

Even the squirrel seemed to be hugging himself as I trundled along, not quite knowing where to go…

I let my legs decide as my head wasn’t capable…..so didn’t go through the fields today, just a walk along mirage lane 

And then home……

And so to Monday, another busy day….but as I got up I could tell my head was in a better place. Three days of a banging head if a hefty price to pay, but at least now it felt lighter.

The media stuff for my new book has started and today I had the Sunday Times coming. They had got the rights to the first interview, so the photographer was coming in the morning and the interview was the afternoon. I hate photographers coming into my house after an incident last time where they rail roaded me into letting them have free run of the house. but since then there’s been strict rules in place – downstairs only; they’ll have to imagine what my memory room looks like!

But first things first, an early morning walk to start the day off on a good note. Even the moon had hung around..

It was bitterly cold again, but such a lovely gentle morning

Frosty and calm…just beautiful….

Time to just chill as the photographer was due at 11…and at 11 he and all his paraphernalia arrived. he was a lovely smiley man and instantly won me over 🙄….the minute he arrived the sun was in the perfect place in the conservatory and he snapped away with his hand held camera. After that he unpack all the gubbins and took more. we then went down to the duck pond where the ducks performed beautifully and flew straight over to me, allowing him to take ducks all around me. we then went to the far end of the pond and the ducks, bless ’em, followed us once more and did the same thing at the other end…🤣…what they weren’t too impressed with was my lack of food…I’d forgotten 🙈….I promised them all I’d be back later….we had a wonderful time talking all things photography….

It was almost 2 when he left and the interviewer was also due at 2 😳…..so just time for me to have my porridge otherwise it would have been too late when she left…Audrey arrived within a few minutes of me finishing and we chatted happily for an hour or so. she’d read both books so had double the amount of questions. Not sure whether I rambled or whether I said everything I wanted to as I can’t remember any of it as I’m typing this….🙄 As I thought might happen, she did ask to see my memory room. I hesitated, then said, ”but no photos”….she agreed. as we stood there, I remember thinking how each photo is jam packed with emotion, happy emotional memories ❤️

As soon as she’d left, I kept my promise and went to feed the ducks…they seem to forgive me 🤣

We were due to meet as the 4 Amigos at 4 but unfortunately Dory’s bus broke down so the 3 Doritos just chatted amongst ourselves on zoom for a few minutes to catch up before I slumped onto my bed with a cuppa tea…😴….

Just one more media to complete but that wasn’t until 7pm. it was the earliest time they could do as it was with New Zealand presenter Jack Tame for his Saturday morning show. We were recording it so it won’t be aired until around the book release…7pm is usually my shut down time so goodness knows how that will go…

A massively busy day, and yes, it is truly exhausting, but a nice exhausting when the people are nice and all in a good cause. As I said to the interviewer, ’Things like this also keep my brain ticking over”. I’ll pay the price tomorrow but then I’ll be on a train to Manchester as I start recording my audio book on Wednesday…..at least I’ve got all tomorrow to recover and recharge 😬

P.S….Our final morning in paradise…..

I don’t usually write a blog after our final full day as the following day is usually taken up with travelling, but not this time…..we’re home now, but this was our last morning…..

At 6.30 am on a very cold frosty morning, me and Sarah met Catherine and Polly downstairs as they were going for a moonlight swim 😳🤣 now obviously someone had to stay on shore with Polly and a light shining for them, so I volunteered 🤪

It was sooo cold my fingers soon because numb, even though I had thermal gloves on and when my hands and feet are cold the rest of me is…….even my camera had trouble taking photos, it was so cold. Some ended up with my cold breathe on the lens 🙄 others, my fingers had been so numb I hadn’t pressed the shutter hard enough 🙈….but it was the most glorious morning…..

They take their love for swimming very seriously and have all the right gear as Catherine elegantly demonstrates..

The moon was shining huge and bright in the sky

The three of them got undressed and after recording their morning video

….. just went straight in without batting an eyelid 😳….I don’t think I’m cut out for cold water swimming 😂….

All I could see were their headlights…

Photo

Me and Polly played with her ball and stick 

and even Polly was happily racing into the freezing cold water to retrieve them 0 even Polly has a dry robe to put on afterwards..😍

Even she had trouble finding her stick and ball🤣

It wasn’t long before the dimmer switch was turned slightly

The sky was so clear …it was going to be a wonderful day and a beautiful sunrise…

As soon as they’d finished their swim Catherine and Sue went off to make their guests breakfast, Sarah sat and drank her flask of tea to warm up and I headed with no feeling at all in my hands to Friars Crag…

As I got there, the view was breathtaking….

It was still too early for the sun to appear over Walla Crag, but the light was stunning all the way round

Then Sylvia appeared at my feet once more. 

I was just about to start chatting and throw some food when I could hear loud voices approaching. Sylvia disappeared and I was joined briefly by 2 very loud speaking men, one saying how peaceful it was here 😳🙄…..well it’s was!…..luckily they left quite soon to go and shout somewhere else…..

I took some more photos while I waited for Sylvia to return, which of course she did…landing at my fee once more…

I couldn’t open my little seed container, my hands were just freezing blobs at the end of my arms…I apologised and said we were leaving today but I’d be back next month and hope she’d come and see me again. With that she hopped onto the back of the bench….

I could hear the loud voices further round the bay and she flew off……I waited for a few more minutes to see if she’d return and watched the mist rise up above the water

One last photo of Cat bells, it’s mirror glass image clearly visible..

As it became apparent she wasn’t going to return, so I made my way towards Sarah waiting on the bench…she actually came ambling to meet me and we walked happily together regaling how stunning it had been. We got to the boats and a mirror lake met our eyes, the pinkness of the sunrise reflected in the water from the sky…

As we trundled through Hope park, the morning light was now showing the frost in all its glory

As we sat having breakfast, the sun finally rose over Walla Crag for all to see

Finally in the warmth of my room, my fingers beginning to thaw, I stood and looked out of the window…….we’re so very lucky to have all this…

Even the moon decided to hang around to see it all happen…..

And that really is the end of this months trip to paradise……….

A beautiful start to our last full day……..

Sarah had decided to get up for a sunrise swim in the lake and I was going to see if Sylvia would come back again. 

It was very dark and quiet as we left Appletrees…no Robin escort today, but then I had Sarah with me. We reached the bay and it was still dark…but the dimmer switch had been turned just a tad….

The breeze had picked up a little and the weatherman had forecasted a rainy day, but so far, just clouds in the early morning sky….Sarah went in and was soon swimming. She’d brought a torch to leave on shore and I had the light on my stick in case the dark disorientated her. But actually the light slowly appeared and she said she could easily see the shore, but better safe…..

She called out to me to look at the moon which had just appeared through the heavy clouds, suddenly so bright and clear

Within seconds it was gone and we were plunged into darkness again. After a while Sarah came out and I went onto Friars Crag while she got dressed and I’d meet her on the bench where she’d have her flask of tea….

As I reached the Crag, my bench was waiting for me

I called out asking if Sylvia was there, taking the odd photo while I waited….

There was a cold wind blowing and I’d almost given up hope, but I should have known….Sylvia was always late when she was alive, and this morning was no exception…once more as if out of nowhere, she appeared by my feet and stared up at me….

 I chatted away, telling her what we’d been doing and she hopped from one spot to the next around my feet

I’d put some seed out in front of me and one piece of pink suet, as that was now my test to recognise Sylvia

She stood for a while, then picked up the suet

….and left the rest. “I knew it was you” I laughed as she left all the other seed for the greedier birds….we stayed there chatting away for a few minutes. At one point I thought she was going to come and sit on the bench next to me

But she stayed on the floor. After a few minutes, I told her I needed to go and meet Sarah and I’d be back in the morning before we left….. and with that, she instantly flew off. I sat smiling to myself for a few seconds before heading to Sarah 

The day before I’d met Sarah on the same bench after her swim and we’d made friends with another Robin. At first I thought it might be Sylvia coming to see both of us, but this one snaffled the seeds and the suet so we knew it was one of her friends.Well the Robin was there again as I sat down next to Sarah. I put a few morsels on the wall in front of us and it hopped down, nibbling away

It would take a piece, fly up onto it’s branch, eat it and fly back. I held my hand out with food on it and it flew onto it and took it so gently, all you could feel was the soft breathe of its wings…..Sarah tried to take a photo but he was too quick. Then I tried taking it flying into her hands and I managed a magical video in slow mo but sadly can’t post my own videos on here but instead I took a screen shot of the moment. You can see it on Twitter or my Facebook page though…

Another magical start to the day…..and we hadn’t even had breakfast!

It was forecast to be a double rain drop day all day…so I decided to take the bus to Ambleside to see the Christmas display at one of their large garden centres, while Sarah decided to mooch around Keswick and relax before going for an afternoon swim at Buttermere. 

Breakfast was as yummy as usual and I gradually began to thaw out from the morning trundle – Sarah had been in the freezing cold water and was warmer than me 🤣….

There was no sign of the promised rain as I caught the bus. It’s such a lovely bus ride…

Once at the garden centre, I seem to come out with a huge bagful of stuff, mostly Christmas presents for Billy the cat and Merlin the dog 🤣…..havn’t a clue what else I bought 🙄 but it was nice to just amble round..I had time to spare before the bus back, so wandered around the town doing touristy things, like take a piccie of the one up one down house across the stream

Eventually it was time for the bus and we headed back to Keswick..although it was still cloudy, it was still a lovely ride

Once I got back to my room to dump my stuff, the sun was lighting up the darkening sky

It was still only 3pm so I decided to trundle down once more to Friars Crag. As I opened the front door a Robin was in full song in the tree

I didn’t expect to see Sylvia as there would still be people about. When I got there 2 couples were admiring the stunning view

But surprisingly they both left at the same time and I had the bench to myself….I called out to Sylvia but thought she wasn’t around until I glanced across and saw her perched on the arm of the bench and then hopped up to sit on the back behind me

I didn’t have time for a chat or to give her food as, quite quickly, another couple appeared and Sylvia just vanished…I’m so glad I have my photos otherwise I’d question whether I was really seeing what I saw, but the camera never lies……

There didn’t seem any point in me hanging around longer, so I let the couple have the bench. The sun was starting to settle down by then between the two fells and cast a lovely shadow of light on the lake

A bit further round and it looked even brighter

As I reached the boats, it started to drizzle, the first rain I’d felt all day despite the forecast 🙄….a launch must have recently gone by as the ripples were coming into the shore

Me and Sarah met up as I reached Appletrees and ambled to Booths for her supper…as we came back the rain had cleared and the sky was glorious

 Another wonderful day in paradise……..

Another old milestone ticked off my list…….. 

Well after that emotional start to the day, which you read about yesterday, what more could I fill my day with? I related the whole story to Sarah over breakfast and could see the tears well up in her eyes as they had done in mine an hour before…..the emotion of that moment will never go…..

I was on such a high but needed to land back in the now. We decided we would climb Latrigg, another favourite walk of mine and Sylvias. When we first did this walk I’d just come out of hospital after an operation to remove my appendix (which turned out to be perfectly healthy, but that’s another story 🤣)…..for some unknown reason, I agreed to Sylvia having the map and directing us, even though I knew she had no sense of direction 😳🙈…we never did find the summit as, just before it would have appeared on the horizon, Sylvia decided we were lost and had to slide down on our bums towards the lights of Keswick through the wood 🤣…to say our stomachs ached from all the laughing was an understatement and that didn’t do my wound any good either 😂…..I never allowed Sylvia to take charge of any map after that 🤣

Anyway, back to mine and Sarah’s attempt. I wanted to climb this again but had never known where to start when I’d been on my own, so thought, if Sarahs with me, it might help jog my memory as I’d done it as many times as Walla Crag in the past….I’d found a yellow map just for the occasion 

“With your back to Moot Hall”….as all the yellow maps start….we set off. Sarah had done it before but noticed the map was taking us anti clockwise instead of clockwise. We crossed the River Greta in town and headed towards the railway walk as our starting point

The summer crowds had long gone and just a few hardy souls like ourselves were out and about. The weather app had said it was going to be dull all day so it was a lovely surprise to be walking in the sunshine

As we turned off the railway walk, it became a long steep steady climb which zig zagged it’s way up

Every now and then a flash of an image came into my mind…this was one landmark that I remembered taking a photo of Sylvia just in this spot…

Another Robin entertained us for a few minutes on the wire fence, hopping in and out of view…

The sun dappled light and shade on the fells to our right

And sheep grazed happily in the field…

The continuous slope was a real challenge and I kept having to stop to gain energy for the next bit…

In the far far distance was Keswick…always a comforting sight to give me some bearing on where I am. I wasn’t that concerned today as I was with Sarah and she knew where she was going, but that’s why I love Walla Crag so much, because I can see my comforting landmark all the time….

But then our path took us up the continuing slope but with the fell on the left blocking out my reasurring landmark, all we could see was the fells to the left, right and straight ahead…..If I’d have been alone, I think I might have become disoriented and confused and it made me feel unsure of whether I’d manage this alone…🤗 I snapped away to keep my mind occupied 

Eventually Keswick came into view again and I immediately felt safer..

I kept thinking we were almost at the summit but it was one of those where as soon as you thought you’d reached the top, another climb came into view 🙄🤣

Finally we were there and what a view beneath us..

I zoomed right in and could see the back of Appletrees with Crow park in front

Sheep suddenly came running passed, adding to the view

Just a little further and we reached the bench I remember so well

….and to our right, the zig zag path that would take us down….

So many others were coming the opposite way to us and we realised we’d come the hard way 🙄…but we now had the downward bit, so it was a relief to be able to breathe properly again 🤣

I’d found it very hard and it was a relief to reach Fritz park. The sandwich shop was on the way back so I picked up my supper on the way back for a cuppa. As soon as we entered Appletrees, we could see the Christmas elves had been hard at work as the banisters were adorned with garlands and as I entered my room, the elves had also been there

Once we’d had a quick cuppa, it was time for Sarah and Catherine to go for their lake swim. I was going to look after Polly while they were in the water. 

It was just after 2pm and the sun was starting its descent as we passed by the boats

They swam out, their voices carrying words back to shore, I could see them looking at something

I turned and was shocked to see the launch heading their way. From shore it appeared to be heading straight for them

….but afterwards they told me it was miles away 🤪

Me and Polly watched on

Every now and then Polly would drop her ball allowing me to throw it in the water for her to have her swim

They soon headed back to shore and I left them to get dressed and for me to have a walk to Milenium stone. Along the bay, I skipped Friars Crag with the promise I’d go on my return as they’d be more chance of having to myself then.

Even though it had now turned cloudy, the sky was still a picture as we headed for sunset…

Happy that I’d made it to the stone

I headed back…as I reached the bay, I could see figures standing on Friars Crag and almost gave it a miss…but I just had to see if Sylvia would appear again…..as I reached the bench a couple were just leaving

Kept it warm for you” as their response when they saw me standing behind them. I was then all alone.

Are you there Sylvia?”

Once more the unthinkable happened and she appeared, this time, out of nowhere and hopped towards my feet and stood looking at me..

As I reached in my pocket she hopped onto the stone by the edge

We were chatting away, when suddenly, I could hear a family approaching and a dog came scurrying round me and the moment was gone…..I smiled to myself knowing there was always tomorrow and headed off home…….

A VERY special moment at Friars Crag…….. 

We opted for the later breakfast so Sarah could have a lie in, but as always on the first night, I hadn’t slept, my eyes tight closed but my eyeballs wide awake…🙄

I got up in the darkness, showered and had a cuppa tea, all the while itching to get out and have Friars Crag all to myself. Two cups of tea later and I decided it was a decent enough time to trundle down there. I don’t know what time it was, somewhere between 6 and 7 I imagine 🤔…everywhere was still and quiet, only the birds for company and what company they provided. It felt like I was being escorted there by one Robin after another; their song lighting the dark morning. Strangely each one would land at my feet, pause, then fly away…too quick for me to photograph and anyway, I didn’t want the flash to frighten them…but managed one but as soon as I saw the flash frighten it away I stopped

The camera told me I had to use my flash…..😳…wasn’t sure I’d used that before, but I fiddled about and soon it popped up….I’d stopped by the boats for a while, looking out towards Cat Bells, dawn just breaking as though natures dimmer light was gradually being turned up…

The water was like glass with a very gentle shimmer of distortion

In the distance to the right the reflection of Portiscale in the water

Still no one around, all this loveliness to myself. Then something strange happened, after the bay where Catherine swims, there were no more Robins, no sound. I wasn’t worried, it felt sort of magical, like a child trudging through the silent white snow and entering a forest to find Father Christmas waiting. Only for me it was a different surprise waiting for me……

As I reached Friars Crag, there was a Robin waiting for me….just standing patiently. It hopped right next to my feet as I sat down, taking me by surprise…

I sat down and said:

Is that you Sylvia?”

She hopped and stood by my feet…an overwhelming rush of emotion filled my body, a surreal moment.

Then she just stood and stared at me for what seemed like a glorious age and I chatted with her and said how David thought of her every day as did I and how I hoped she was content in the Robin kingdom.  She allowed me to snap away, as if saying: “make sure it’s a nice one” – which is just like Sylvia. 

I put my hand in my pocket as I knew I’d remembered to bring her some food, but the movement made her disappear just below the rock edge….I sensed she would reappear….

I scattered some food including pieces of suet in front of my feet. She hopped back up again, as I knew she would. She stared once more, straight up into my face this time,,,

…before taking one piece of suet and held it in her mouth in front of me 

My dream when Sylvia died was of a Robin taking one piece of suet from me, just one as Sylvia wouldn’t want to be a fat Robin and always watched her weight……and that’s how I knew this was Sylvia, she took just one piece of suet and left the rest and made a point of showing me……. 

She eventually flew away with the piece of suet in her mouth….

….the sceptics amongst you may think I’ve really lost the plot, but for me, Robins really are the souls of the dead. They are so prolific in Keswick because many people choose to have their ashes spread there, including my best friend and this morning, the soul of Sylvia came to finally say hello as I knew she always would

Now I just need to tell David, that Sylvia is content in her new world…..