Discovering a new nearby village…….

Sometimes you just don’t realise what’s on your very own doortstep! …..well a 10 minute drive away in my case.

I’d often driven through North Cave, a regular route by car when going out of the county. I’d always admired the little church in the village too, but we’d never actually veered off the main road. That was until my friend Pip offered to drive me to Hotham. Not only didn’t I know it was so near but I’d never heard of it! 

Well it was forecast to be the last of the sunny warm days so I said I’d meet Pip and Scooby the adorable dog at her house.

As usual I set off early – I’ll be early for my own funeral! – and I trundled by the pond first. It was so warm I thought Terence and Teresa might be basking in the warm sun and I wasn’t disappointed. It was the first time this year that I’d seen them together on the same log…

It felt odd not having a coat on after, what had seemed like, a long winter. But refreshingly nice to feel the warm sun on bare arms

Pip and Scooby were there waiting for me and me and Scooby shared the front seat, scooby snuggled by my legs

We’d agreed beforehand we’d wear masks and have the windows open, just like in my taxi, so all felt safe and it was soooo nice having Scooby so near, his instant calming fur in my hands helping me cope, after all I’d never been in a car with Pip before.

We seem to arrive in minutes, taking a right at the little church in North Cave and parking in a lay-by by the brook which Scooby instantly knew as a place to paddle and cool down..

There were children paddling in the brook, playing games and pooh sticks and it suddenly felt like we’d been transported back in time when children whiled away the day playing outside.

We were suddenly out in the open making our way to Hotham and it was then I saw my first lamb of the year! Penned in with mum who looked on proudly and protectively at her new born

Then two white ‘pushmepullyou’ horses caught my eye in the field beyond ..

Then Pip noticed and pointed out a long tailed bird on the farmers roof. She did tell me what it was but that fact disappeared as soon as she told me

I then remembered I’d brought my lens ball and took it out of my pocket to take what I think is Horse Chestut buds, but might be totally off piste

What I hadn’t realised was that you should never use a lens ball in the sun. It felt like I was being stung on my hand and my legs beneath my trousers. I didn’t realise it was the ball at first and carried on. Then my hand was being battered by sparks of pain and I realised the sun must be reflecting off the ball 🙄 I quickly put it away for it never to surface again that day – lesson learnt….I hope!

We were walking around a private estate, the public footpath skirting the edges

The tractor was out spraying some luminous liquid which we hoped was just fertiliser

Scooby adores eating sticks…..I always think I know where he’s been in the village as I find  bit of chewed sticks scattered and it was no different today…

We came to what looked like an allotment on the edge of the estate and saw an old fashioned bell jar,  which I imagined had rhubarb cosy beneath it

All around were walls with doors leading to secret gardens

Scooby and Pip found a lovely bench circling the tree to have a drink

Before we headed off down another lane, daffodils everywhere

Finally we came to the village of Hotham, more daffodils lining the roadside

And Scooby looking lovely amongst them

I snapped my first butterfly of the year ambling through this lovely village

Some very impressive house lay behind closed gates, one with wicker animals scattered about the lawn

The brook appeared once more and Scooby took his chance for a cool down again

While I spotted a Robin high up in the tree

Down more country lanes we were in fact going round in a big square and eventually reached the village sign once more

It was at this point that catastrophe happened 🙈 and my camera battery died 😳… phone would have to do….but just not the same..

Fine for the ornate mansion house, currently being renovated, we reached once more as it was close up

And for the lake at the end of our trundle with the church in the background reflected in the lake

But NOT fine for the final spot of the day. A buzzard hovering in the distance looking for a safe landing point on the top of the tree…..luckily Pip still had charge in her camera and took an amazing photo

I’d had such a lovely trundle experiencing this little perfectly formed village right on my doorstep, but now it was late and I was very weary, after all I’d already had 2 trundles that day before this one 🙄

Thank you Pip and Scooby for your company….

Birds in full song and the promise of a lovely day……

The other week, the weathermen had promised warm spring like weather, ‘unseasonably’ warm they said…

I looked out of my window and the promise of a lovely trundle was staring back at me

So I got up early to enjoy every minute of the day, but what to wear? I stepped outside my front door to feel a chill still in the air, after all it was only 6am, so I put on my coat as usual and I’m glad I did….

As I walked through the cow field, the sunrise was in full flow

Casting my long shadow following behind

Heading towards the pond, the fence, waiting for the cows presence created a lovely silhouette in the morning light


Though the gate, trying to be as silent as I could, treading lightly so as not to frighten the rabbits, I held my breathe and saw them through the fence nibbling their morning breakfast, one standing to attention at the sound of my feet breaking the twigs beneath them, the other oblivious and carrying on nibbling….

The pond always looks so peaceful at this time of day. The ducks still waking, the water still creating a mirror image of the surroundings

Mr Duck creating his own mirror image beneath him in the early morning light

No expectation of food at this unearthly hour as Simon would be along later with his bucket of feed…

Up through the house and a sprinkling of unexpected rain surprised me but I could see it falling in the distance out of the clouds

I walked down the deserted back lane, other residents maybe waiting for the promised heat of the sun to appear

And turned left through the gallops

I could hear the elusive Woodpecker in the trees beyond; one day I’ll spot and snap him, but today he remained as elusive as ever.

The chorus of birdsong was outstanding this morning, as though they also knew it would be a nice day. The yellow hammer trying to outsing its rivals for attention, but its calm and gentle chirrup would have trouble competing with its louder varieties

A solitary Goldfinch perched on the fence, keeping guard while the rest of the flock breakfasted on the fodder in the field. It didn’t spy me in the distance zooming in…

But as soon as it did it called out to the rest and they all flew into the distance.

The tractors, out early in the fields were adding their own gentle rumble to the morning noise of nature

Loud and proud the birds seemed this morning

A surprise addition this morning was the sight of a Willow Warbler or was it a Chiff Chaff? I didn’t know what it was until I posted on the village website and both came in as possibilities

A Thrush added it’s own song to the orchestra of sound

As my trundle was coming to an end, my legs now tired, my body craving its morning cuppa, I saw this beautiful clump of tulips, not in a garden, just planted by someone who wanted to give a pleasurable sight at the end of a walk….and they made me smile

And as a bonus I had my second vaccine to end the day….a truly spring like heavenly day…..

Talking about the role of Fiction in Dementia on Woman’s Hour….

On April 1st, my partner in writing, Anna Wharton released her first fiction book, ‘The Imposter’.

I’d helped Anna with the dementia element in the book and also a piece about gardening! So I was thrilled when she asked me if I would be on Woman’s Hour with her. We had a pre meet with the another Anna from the show who chatted to us about the session on the programme. She also told us that my good friend Prof Jan Oyebode would also be on it with us discussing from an academic viewpoint. 

So we were on live last Wednesday…we had to log onto the Zoom at 09.15 to check sound and to check our connection etc and then stay logged on until transmission time which was 10am. 

Last time I was on Woman’s Hour it was for the release of my book with the lovely Jane Garvey but Jane left a few months ago so the interview was with Emma Barnett, her replacement……

Anyway, our section starts around 15 minutes into the programme….hope this works for everyone and you enjoy it…

We need help from Audiologists….

The other week me, Agnes, George and Dory were invited to talk to an audience of audiologists. We’d been invited by Sarah Bant, Principal Clinical Scientist & Lead for Clinical Improvement (Adult Audiology) – long badge needed!!

We wanted to explain the difficulties of having hyperacusis and coming out of lockdown, but also the complexities of having hyperacusis along with dementia, which very few audiologists understand.

It was playmate Agnes who first alerted us all to the existence of hyperacusis. It simply means a sensitivity to noise, just like children with autism often have, but with the quirks of dementia thrown in 🙄

You can download her Talking Sense booklet to find out more….either on audio..

Or a copy of the booklet

I was diagnosed a couple of years ago I think, you can read all about my wonderful audiologist and her explanation of the issues on a previous blog

We’re not necessarily going deaf, it’s just certain tones of noise physically rattle our brains. This is where the trouble starts though, as Agnes and Dory havn’t been able to get help even though they’ve been diagnosed with hyperacusis as they have perfect hearing. Whereas me and George both have hearing aids which are programmed to filter out the sounds we can’t tolerate.

So back to the conference. …….we need audiologists to help us cope with coming out of lockdown. We’ve been wrapped in a quiet bubble for so long that going back into busy street and cities will be difficult for everyone, but if hyperacusis is tagging along it will be even harder

I emailed my audiologist asking  if there’s a way of calibrating my aids (not sure if that’s the right word, but fine tuning them), to reduce the amplication of sound whilst still keeping out the tones that physically hurt and distress me?

Sadly her out of office came back saying she was away until the middle of April, so I’ll have to be patient 🙄

This would help me gently get used to the noise of traffic again. 

We all have that fear of sensory overload once lockdown ends. Some are saying they like living in their silent bubble now, I do, but I also like travelling on the trains and buses so need to find a way to get round all this…

Sooooo few audiologists understand the complexities of hyperacusis and dementia, that many playmates are fobbed off saying there’s nothing they can do to help. But there is if only they took the time to listen.

At the end, Sarah asked us what we’d like to say to all the audiologists….I said something like:

We need you to give us, the experts by experience,  time to explain the issues we have so that you can then use your expertise to solve the problems”

A long trundle with my new toy…….

I must have been taking the same walks, taking the same photos over and over again this past year. I know the seasons change, the sky changes, the view is different each time, but I needed something new. My villagers and yourselves have been very patient at looking at my photos but it’s always nice to find something new….well it came my way as one of these pop up adverts on my ipad and immediately I ordered one….see how easily I’m influenced 😂

It was a Lens Ball to use with my camera. I didn’t have a clue what to do with it, so I started with YouTube videos and I was instantly hooked. I’d let Sarah borrow it first so she could help me out the first time. We’d taken it to the Wetlands nearby for its first outing and just played around with it, not really knowing what we were doing

But it was great fun, but I needed to look at more videos to have images in my head of what it could do. I let Sarah take it home as she was going to the beach with a friend, somewhere I long to go very soon, but Sarah lives within local distance of it and I don’t 🙄…..

So a few more videos later and I asked Sarah to take me to Folly Lake not far from me, but too far for me to walk there and back.  – that’s where Gemma had to rescue me from a couple of times 🙄

So Sarah picked me up, me trying to hold in my head all the images I’d seen on videos 🙈 and the first one I tried was with the sign itself ….I didn’t get it quite right but good for starters

It’s a beautiful place at anytime and even though it was cold and very windy it still looked peaceful and calm

After playing around with it for a while, Sarah left me to walk back. It’ll take most people about 60- 90 minutes to get back to the village but I knew I’d be a lot longer but tried not to think about it and began to get lost in taking photographs

The clouds were whizzing across the sky in the strong wind

I turned off the road, and made my way along the track through the field

Every now and then taking the heavy ball out of my pocket and snapping a piccie

When the sun did come out, the air warmed immediately

Willow catkins adorned the edges of the fields 

And I tried to capture the dangling catkins 

The wind was against me and as I came into the open field, it was a struggle to walk, with no protection through the open land. The solitary tree in the middle always fascinates me, wondering what lies beneath the farmers reprieval for its survival in the middle of his field

Bit he was obviously a kindly soul as he’d left a pathway right through the middle for walkers like me and last year, when he’d planted potatoes and was harvesting, stopped me to say I could take any left on the ground..but it didn’t look like that would be the crop of favour this year

Several walkers passed me by, their speed much quicker than mine. I didn’t dare look at my watch, but my legs were tiring and I was only half way 🙄 but I always keep going by telling myself that I’m heading home ready for my awaiting cuppa as I can switch on my kettle via Alexa before I even reach my door 😇

Finally I reached the turning for the village, firstly taken with my new toy

Then just my camera

I turned right as I reach Halfpenny Gate Cottage and saw the farmer busy in the field, the seagulls hungrily following behind

I was exhausted, but I knew the next day was going to be an inside day as the weather was due to be against me, so decided to exhaust myself further, I’d be too tired to venture out again. So decided to walk round half the village through the gallops, a rider out warning someone off the private land

Stopping every now and then to retrieve the magic ball from my pocket and snap the view

I turned right and cut through the copse behind the village back lane that led to the playing fields as I’d seen daisies growing there and wondered what they would look like through my toy

It’s amazing how the world changes through a simple spherical glass ball…I went through to the wood behind the field, knowing the amazing ancient trees there were my next target

This small wood is such a peaceful calm place. The minute you walk inside, you can feel your body relax, the breathing slow down, at one with nature. The sun decided to try and make an appearance making it even more magical forming a beautiful orange ring around the sphere

Out of the wood and through the scrubland at the side of a field and I captured more willow catkins

Back to civilisation now and through the houses towards the pond. The normality of everyday living suddenly bringing me out of my dream like trundle when a bee caught my eye, or was it the sound that attracted me 🤔

Finally arriving at the village pond. I sat on the bench, giving my weary legs a break. How the pond looks different through a different lens

Up round the back of the pond, to avoid the high street and keep nature with me for as long as possible. Something as simple as a Rabbit making me smile

Trundling head down through the cows field towards the gate that leads to my house and a songster in the tree made me look up for my last piccie of the day. A beautiful solitary Goldfinch calling out to its mate…

I’m glad I didn’t try and walk there and back on my own. It had taken me well over 3 hours to get back and my legs were glad to lay on my bed and my hands grateful for a warming cuppa tea……

A Special time of day…..

As soon as I’d woken enough to stir, I padded my way into the back bedroom to see if an early morning trundle was on the cards …..I was met by a definite affirmative …

Showered and dressed hoping it wouldn’t disappear as I fumbled around remembering the routine. Before heading downstairs, one last look through my window

Glorious…….Too early for the heating to have clicked into life, I gratefully huddled into my coat, gloves and ear muffs and headed out into the cold morning air. I’d been gloveless and ear muffless these last few days but today there was a chill in the air so was grateful for the extra layers of warmth.

I decided to go through the back field for a change, the cows would be on their soon, so turning right outside my house, for a change, I made my way up the road but today it was silent apart from the birds. The sky a glorious glow of welcome in the distance

As I reached the field, crossing the planks other villagers had placed to traverse the mud, I suddenly remembered why I always used to come this way

Maybe it was the time of year that was right, the positioning of the sunrise perfect for this spot, but it was such a lovely surprise….and reminder…

Turning, my back to the sun, the low early morning light created this elongated me following in my footsteps

I could hear the cockerel crowing in the garden, amazing white fancy hens just to be seen through the wire netting, such amazing creatures, but didn’t seem right to take a piccie through someone’s hedge 🙄

Heading towards the end of the field, the sun was just stating to peer above the trees and through the picket gate that leads down to the pond, a rabbit was sat on the dewy grass enjoying a morning nibble

Down along the muddy path the pond looked a picture in the early morning sun

The light from the glorious coloured sky lighting up the water and creating a beautiful silhouette of the duck perfectly placed for a piccie..

As I walked along the back of the pond it reminded me of the day before when a strange visitor had disrupted the ducks…..a female pheasant had appeared….

……but the ducks were having none of this alien bird on their territory and I’d had to cajole it back to the field behind the pond in case a fight erupted 😂

Anyway, back to this morning….I think the ducks sensed it was too early for me to have brought food, so although they waddled towards me, it wasn’t with a purpose of breakfast on their minds, just a friendly ‘hello’ waddle before they went back to their morning wake up….

Up through the houses, a Ribes shrub was in full flower, it’s beautiful dangling cones of flower perfect in the morning light

Through the snicket and towards my usual spot for early mornings and it was still a beautiful site

Standing for a moment, just listening to the chattering of the birds, the only sound to be heard. I then turned and headed down the back lane, a squirrel having its fill of Monkey Nuts from the bird feeder

Left towards the gallops and a pheasant, could have been Tom making his way to the ponies field

Round the back of field I could see the Game Keepers truck in the distance

He usually passes me in a morning but today either I was early or he was busy on the tops…

My favourite lone tree stood out against the golden morning sky

And two horse riders were out early practicing their horse skills

I could here the church bells strike in the distance, counting each one, it was 7am so must have been out about an hour….

Up along the long lane where I seen the owl, but no such fortune this morning, just the sky against the trees

Turing in my tracks, away from the sun, I started to head home, along the long distant path ahead of me

The usual sight of the Robin on the corner of the farmhouse was missing this morning, which dampened my mood for some reason as it’s usually always there to greet me. Such small things affect my mood, but a Bullfinch chirruping away in the hedge instantly lifted it again

….as I made my way home for my much needed cuppa, the clouds starting to roll in 

So I’d certainly seen the very best of the day…..

The latest trundle with Pip and Scooby…..

It had been such a glorious day and I’d had 2 trundles already, but the sun was still shining and the outside was calling me. I messaged Pip on the off chance she was free and hadn’t herself ventured out. A few minutes later came back the reply that she’d love to go for a trundle. 

She’d suggested we go to ‘Garlic Wood’…now for anyone who knows me, Garlic is the one food I detest, the smell, the taste – yuk……simple as that. Yes, I know most people love it but I don’t for some reason. So I always call ‘Garlic Wood’, ‘Bluebell Wood’ – much more appealing and thankfully the garlic flowers appear after the bluebells!

Anyway we agreed to meet at the duck pond. I’m always early so stood being entertained by the ducks having a siesta 

And of course, it was pleasantly warm enough for Terence the Terrapin to be out

Soon I saw Scooby in the distance showing Pip the way. I explained the crime she’d committed and it took a few moments to sink in before she made the connection with my dislike of garlic and we fell about laughing…….

Off we trundled out of the village, noticing the daffodils had suddenly all opened in the warm sunshine 

Then along the noisy main road towards the opening for East wood

Scooby was now free to roam and lead as he always does

He’s the calmest, most chilled dog I know. Always looking round to make sure we’re with him and adores finding sticks of any description….and just a wonderful companion – I often wish I had a dog, but it probably wouldn’t be fair on the dog 🙄

Me and Pip were chatting away now we’d left the noisy main road. In her real life she has a record label – “Decca”?….I asked, goodness knows why that one popped into my head but it’s the only one I can think of havn’t a clue whose label it is 🤣 – much laughter again as she told me the story of getting acts into all the big festivals and goes to Glastonbury each year and how much she’s missed it since being cancelled as that’s where she meets all her friends ….

We eventually reach Bluebell Wood ( I refuse to call it Garlic wood 🤣)….I love how the trees just soar up into the sky

Scooby sat happily with another stick he’d found and seemed to sense that this spot was somewhere that we’d linger…

We could see the bluebells starting to erupt from the ground in their thousands and also the ubiquitous Garlic. Pip picked some leaves to take home and cook – I told her it was a total waste of time as it would spoil everything 😂 Obviously I stood well away from the scene of the crime 🤣

We then began to spot fungi – that would be the royal ‘we’, as its Pip who is the fungi expert extraordinaire. 

A type of ‘Ganoderma’ species was first. Rock solid on the bottom of the tree trunk, each ring representing a year of its life

Then as we hunted through the undergrowth, coming across hunters cartridges, which surprised me in this idyllic area, we then found some inky black fungi called Witches Butter

Pip found an interesting shaped branch which looked like antlers and promptly put them on her head and I rechristened her the “Lesser Spotted Pip-a-deer” 

We came across a drift of snowdrops, their fading delayed by the shelter of the trees, the ones in the open of the village now faded…

Before our next sighting of a fungi – a species of Tramites – now obviously Pip has told me all this, I havn’t suddenly become an expert in fungi 🤣

Before our final one with the lovely name of 

Before our final one with the lovely name of Blushing Bracket

We carried on trundling through the trees, all standing to attention, Scooby now on a lead as he kept eating things he shouldn’t as usual..🤪

before making our way across the little wooden bridge and back out into the fields again 

We saw a small flock of little birds in the field beyond and I managed to snap 3 of them on a wire above

Later we discovered they were Linnets, just like we’d seen on our last walk together…

It was now getting late and my legs had already been out trundling for 4 hours before I’d even started with Pip, so I was getting weary. We decided to take a short cut through the field back towards the village, the sky showing signs of the sun starting to sink

We eventually reached the village and a Robin welcomed us back

The sun was beginning to light up the sky for its final farewell of the day

We left each other at the church gate and I headed back towards the Main Street and home. As I went to cross the main road, the sun was lighting up the end of the village

Home exhausted and in need of a cuppa, I sat going through my piccies, reliving this wonderful walk with Pip and Scooby, 2 lovely trundling companions and I glanced at my watch which told me how far I’d walked that day….😳

No wonder my legs were protesting…..but it was worth every step…

The spring equinox lives up to its name…….

The spring equinox marks the changing of the seasons and here, in the UK,  it was a couple of weeks ago. For one day only the warmth of the spring sun gave us such a real treat of a day… 

We’ve always known how the appearance of the sun can lift our mood, but during lockdown it’s become even more pronounced, more important than ever to see that golden ball in the sky and I’m sure, people have come to appreciate its presence even more, especially in a climate like ours.

Anyway….the day dawned and I was awake very early once more and out of the door at 6am…I’d looked out of my window and saw the night leaving and the sun beginning to rise

It was a chilly early start to the day, but still and calm. As I turned into the High street all was quiet, even the village shop had its doors firmly closed and in darkness

The ducks were just stirring from their slumber,preening themselves for the day ahead. They had another couple of hours before Steve would cross the road from his house with their morning feed, so a few began to paddle towards me, looking hopefully for the bag of seed in my hands

But I’m afraid I disappointed them as their food had never entered my head this early in the morning.

I clicked the little gate open and took a piccie of the daffodils at the back of the pond

Two hundred donated by a villager….

In the stillness of the morning light, it looked like one drake was stood on ice…it’s reflection clear beneath him..

As I headed out, the Willow in the neighbouring garden made for a lovely backdrop to the rising sun

The sky being luminated by the golden ball of loveliness as I made my way through the houses to the lane at the back

Reaching the edge of the field, the sun had risen above the trees and I stood and watched as it made its magical journey higher into the sky

With my back to the sun I made my way along the back lane, still deserted, still just me and nature alone

As I came to the squirrel tree, I peered high up to the hole in the trunk, but it was too high to see if anything was peering back at me. So I zoomed in with my camera and there was that little eye staring back at me

I took a left through the gallop fields

The elusive Woodpecker now keeping me company and the pheasants calling out to one another, the birds calling their morning greetings. The grass was covered in morning dew as I spied a pheasant in the distance heading towards the copse.

Out into the open, the solitary tree on the horizon, a favourite of mine

Eventually turning back towards the village, early morning walkers were beginning to join me, them too wanting to catch the quiet of the day. Exchanging greetings before heading our own ways.

A yellow hammer obligingly posed on the hedge

Finally a cuppa tea was in touching distance as I passed by the church. Another squirrel having it’s morning snack, pinching the newly grown buds from the tree branches

And finally home…..but not for long. After pottering in the garden, the sun now springlike and warm. I’d been looking for my own new growth and was surmised to see the camellia ready to open and unfurl it’s beautiful bloom

It became so pleasant and warm, I decided to venture out again, but this time, no coat, gloves or earmuffs…..spring really had arrived if only for a day….

Heading back to the pond, I knew the warmth would have brought out Terence the Terapin. But he wasn’t in his usually place, so had to hunt with the zoom of my camera. I knew he’d be there somewhere….

The warmth had brought the blossom out in all it’s glory against the blue sky

And so many daffodils, in bud the day before, were now open, with heads smiling towards the sun

Cyclists were out, walkers, just like me trundling around the village, all free from heavy winter coats. So much of spring appearing 

Certainly a day for trundling. The sort of day when I just want to be outside and enjoy the fortunate beauty of the place I’m lucky enough to live…..

And the spring equinox day ended with a half moon, such is still the beauty of nature even in the dark