How lucky am I……? 

The wonderful trip to the Outer Hebrides was a ‘seize the moment’ trip as timings and Phillys availability just fell into place…..but I already had my October trip to paradise booked and  organised – honest! Yes I know how lucky I am to be able to do this, I really never take anything for granted…….

Now in winter mode, I’m getting up far earlier than I need and today was no exception. 5.30am and I’m up showered and dressed, washing on and playing my wake up games on my ipad 🙄…..my poor neighbours must wonder what I’m up to 🤣

My taxi was due at 9am so plenty of time for a little trundle as it looked such a lovely morning as daybreak arrived

I only went for a short trundle. The village shop still closed although about to open, a villager waiting patiently outside for the doors to be unlockded….

Up through Church Walk, the sunrise still giving the sky a warm glow

The enormous mushroom I’d seen the day before, still standing but buckling under its own weight in the graveyard

Along the back lane, I could see the odd dog walker ahead of me, no one else venturing out to witness this peaceful morning…as I reached the playing the the zip wire and tyre swing were silhouetted against the sky

And finally down to my favourite morning view at the edge of the village and always a cert for a lovely view

I needed to get back home and pack…..so a quick hello to the ducks this morning, the pond containing a mirror glass image of the sky

As the taxi drove me through the village, the morning routine was in full flow; neighbours collecting their papers, children bouncing their way to school. All was right in my world.

The first train took me to Hull where the Manchester train was waiting for me. We shundled passed the Humber, the sun glistening on the river

I hadn’t had time to think what I was going to do in Keswick this time. Still on a high from my visit to Philly, I’d not thought about it. But I knew everything would fall into place.

In Manchester I had to change for Lancaster. With time to spare I thought it best to get my supper sandwich here as everywhere would have finished serving once I got to Keswick.

The journey so far had been fairly calm, the sun was shining and I’d just had an email from my publishers Bloomsbury, to tell me the proof copy were in of my new book

Shameless plug here, but you can pre order on Amazon…….☺️

I hadn’t had a cuppa tea since leaving home, so with 40 minutes to wait in Lancaster for my final train, I settled down with a cuppa and watched the world go by.

I’d felt a little detached from people around me, conversations a rumble of noise. I thought dementia was going to play up at the wrong time, but I closed my eyes and stayed in my own little world and by the time the train came, it had passed…and as I reached the start of the Lakes, I could relax…

It was a pleasingly uneventful journey – just how I like…as I arrived in Keswick and made the short walk up to Appletrees, Catherine was waiting for me AND Polly the dog almost sent me flying with her excitement 🤣…….after a chat and a catch up I settled in my chair and simply took in my favourite window view

The 3 trees at the front are always the first to change colour, the first to lose their leaves and the first to gain their new leaves……

It was too nice an evening to stay in, so I set off for Friars Crag….the sun was just going down. The trees were certainly showing signs of their autumn clothes

I was surprised how high the lake was. I usually walk along the edge part way to the Crag, but there was no sign of land and the boats were almost up to the edge

As I reached Friars Crag, the setting sun was glistening on the water

So peaceful, so still, so calm…..❤️ I sat on the bench and soaked up the clean clear air

People arrived and I left them to have a turn on the bench….

As I reached each gap in the trees I just had to snap…

The crowds of the summer long gone, half term crowds yet to arrive….what a beautiful greeting from paradise……the boats deserted and waiting for tomorrows visitors….as I headed home for the evening……

An update on my village calendar…..

First of all, I’d like to say a BIG thank you to everyone who has bought my calendar so far. I’ve been overwhelmed and humbled at peoples comments and generosity.

For those that missed the original post, I gave myself a challenge during lockdown to create a village calendar in the hope that people would like it! My camera and village helped me enormously through lockdown as I went out each day and trundled round and simply snapped at anything that caught my eye. So these are all my own photos, taken in the month they represent…

The villagers have supported me wonderfully but I’ve opened it up for anyone to buy in the UK. Sadly posting and money transfer was too complicated to oblige any overseas readers. 

I broke even on the morning of the village party and sold many at our wonderful gathering. People are the heart of our community and we couldn’t survive as we do without all the wonderful volunteers who give their time to arrange such joyful meetings. I know it wasn’t for everyone, and that’s fine too. It takes all sorts to make a village sparkle and mine has an abundance of glitter.

The Tea and toast at the Methodist church was my next selling venue and it gave me much pleasure to meet new and old friends. 

I’ve been round the village delivering on my trundles and it’s been a pleasure to meet everyone and discover where everyone lives. Countless people have kindly come and collected their orders from my house too.

The sales have gone so well that I had to email Chris, the printer in the village, to ask for 2 more boxes! However, these will be my last as I forgot the less I order the more expensive they are so the profit won’t be as much on these ones….So if you still havn’t got one and would like one or more,  as many are being put to one side as Christmas presents,  then here’s how to contact me:

Email me wendy7713@icloud.com

Include your address. They cost £10 for 1 or 2 for £15. Whichever you choose the postage and packing is the same, so an extra £3.20. You can either pay by bank transfer or cheque, just let me know which is best.

Please remember , all profits will be shared between village groups and my dementia support group, Minds and Voices. So please support me if you’re able

My magic moments of my trip to the island ……….

Going to see Philly was a last minute decision. I’d had to decline when she first sent me her free dates but an appointment suddenly being changed, made it possible so it was simply meant to be. 

I’m purposely not going to read through my blogs to create my magic moments. Instead, I’m going to write what’s still in my heart and mind.

I’d been to the island once before, apparently just before lock down, but this time it felt familiar, it felt as though the island was wrapping itself around me in one giant welcoming hug, given on its behalf by Philly.

Immediately I landed I felt the same as I do when I arrive in my own paradise of Keswick – that instant calmness and relief of being somewhere special. Just being there felt magical and so special

The fact that I can count Philly as a friend is special, but to have her instantly know how to support me is a bonus. The simple post its on the doors of each room to help navigate, and the easiness in which she lives makes for a truly relaxing start middle and end of my adventure.

Then there’s the weather 🤣😂….I don’t know anywhere else where the weather can change in minutes, where you can see it happening and predict its coming, so quickly. On the mainland, their squally showers would be cause for headlines on the news and front page newspaper stories of:

Storms sweep across Britain”

Here it’s just a squally shower, with torrential rain and gale force winds, but it’s seen as just a shower. I was in many and within minutes the sun would be drying you out

Next that comes to mind are the glorious beaches..the green blue sea, the air so clean. The beach within walking distance of Phillys house where I ventured out on my own for the first time. The solitariness, the space, yet feeling safe. 

A smile comes to my face as I remember the scarf…..under Phillys expert tuition I experience the oldest craft of felting. From small yarn threads that can be separated with ease

….to a strong colourful fabric in only a few hours, the process itself creating magic all on its own

Saying hello to Hock the horse each day. He used to follow us as we walked up the path and wait by the gate or come to the fence for a cuddle

As for the most magical moments…..well immediately the first things that come to mind are the seals. The first would have been enough, meeting Sammy the seal all on his own

But it was as though he was sussing us out, deciding whether we were worthy enough to meet more of his family….and we did……the second time I have 5 in my head for some reason, not sure if that’s correct, but five of his family responded to the high pitched singing 

Then the final meeting on the last morning, like the final day of the proms, when 33 came to the bay and sang their beautiful song in response to ours – that moment when I truly felt at one with nature

And they basked on the rocks not fearing our human presence

There were so many other truly wonderful moments, but these have faded and fallen out of my mind, but that’s after all, why I write my blogs, in order to relive them all again when dementia is giving me a bad day; to remind me of what’s possible; of what’s out there waiting for me to relive once more……..

The company of someone who feels just as I do about the surroundings, about seizing the moment while we can makes Philly a very special person. Not often do I find people who love nature as much as I do now, and who will go out in a ‘squally shower’ at the drop of a hat, just because we can…..🤣

Will I do it again, I sincerely hope so. There was one thing that we didn’t see that’s still on my bucket list……the eagle…..and we’ve already planned that moment for the next visit….farewell ’til then, the island with so little yet so much, if only you look…..

The end of my mini adventure and my journey home…..

Apologies…..long blog again!!! 🙄

It’s been such a strange week. Here we are on Saturday, my flying back to the mainland day, yet it feels like I’ve been here for weeks. We’ve crammed so much in that it’s hard for us both to remember what we did when…..we keep saying:

Was it only yesterday we did that?” 😳

But all good things must come to an end.

I’ve had the most amazing time on this ruggedly beautiful island. Probably exploring all the same places I went to before, but for me, it was like seeing them for the first time again. 

So on Saturday, I woke to find the overnight rain and wind had ceased. Overnight the rain had been lashing onto my window. I’d slept each night with the curtains opened and woke to a flock of geese flying over – natures morning alarm call…..

I’d had a banging head the whole time I’d been here and had woken once more to its familiar grip on my head . But it was simply due to the amount of fun we’d had and I wouldn’t have missed one second. It was a price worth paying.

My morning tea fairy knocked on my door and brought my morning cuppa – I’d been thoroughly spoilt the whole time I was here. 

As the day began to dawn and the day get lighter, it was time to rise

After morning toast and tea, Philly asked where I would like to go, to the beach or to see if we could see the seals again…….well the seals got my vote…..and wow….did they put on a show for us.

We left in bright sunshine, up through the back of Philly’s Croft and heading towards the cliff edge and sea for once last trundle….the neighbours sheep glanced curiously at these two colourfully dressed women, with the lighthouse in the background

As we reached the cliffs the morning sun made it all the more beautiful …If you zoom in you can see a little island with a bridge running towards it…..the suns rays glowing above Dun Eisdean, a archeological site built on a sea stack. It was the strong hold of Clan Morrison. It had its own artificial pond for fresh water and lots of buildings from storage to sleeping. The little bridge came after to allow visitors, whereas the original inhabitants would have had to scrabble up the cliffs to reach there shelter.

Philly started singing to the seals to attract their attention and the first at bay we came to, where they don’t usually appear, 5 surprised us by coming to the surface to say hello

We thought that might be it, but then the second bay…….and wow……oh my goodness……Philly saw them first basking on the rock first and as I zoomed in, they all turned round to smile

I was overwhelmed with love for these beautiful creatures and couldn’t stop clicking as Philly showed below…

One after another appeared as we sang to show them we’d come to see them…..

and then even more magical…..they began to sing back to us……❤️❤️❤️…..I’d never heard the sound before. At one with nature and nature at one with us exchanging song ……

They just kept appearing and the final figure we counted was 33 grey seals – their Latin name is ‘halichoerus grypus’ and it means hooked nose sea pig 🤣…….even Philly hadn’t seen that many in one group.We could have stayed for hours, but time was ticking and we could also see the rain approaching. Such is the Lewis weather, that we left an hour ago in perfect sunshine but were heading back through a ‘squally shower’. Now anywhere else, this type of shower would be called a storm, but here, it’s just a shower 🤪

You can’t see the rain, but I’m drenched as it blew horizontal into our faces 🤣

It took my breathe away and was made even more difficult as the wind was straight into our faces.Philly kept having to wait for me as I fought to stay upright 🤣….but we made it in the end and yes, as soon as we went in, the sun shone once more and it was as if it had never happened……..

We arrived back home like the proverbial drowned rats and I had to hope my clothes would dry in the short time before we left for the airport – but they did…

Philly left me at the airport once I’d checked in – to make sure I was leaving the island 🤣 – there was only an hour before take off which passed very quickly and within no time at all boarding was announced. Our little plane stood outside the only door, waiting patiently

The cabin crew helped me on with my case and said she’s keep it with her and promised she wouldn’t forget to give it back 😂…a kind passenger put my stick in the overhead and we were off. it was a bumpy flight but no more so than driving along a bumpy road. The pilot announced at one point that we were doing 325 mph and it was -25 degrees outside…..Took us 45 minutes to reached the mainland; once more back in the land of trees and greeness.

The woman passenger must have overheard I had dementia and got my stick out and reminded me about the stewardess having my case. then helped me along the way back to the terminal before she had to wait for the carousel to churn out the suitcases.

I wanted to try and find the tram, but again paying was complicated, so I just found the bus instead. within 30 minutes we were in Princes street. Supper sandwich bought, I made my way to the Premier Inn Hub – a new venture for them. it’s half the price of normal Premier Inns but has everything you need and brand new. Normal premier Inn bed but in a compact room…looks on the photo that you have to make your own bed 😳 but actually its already made, you just have to throw the duvet over…it’s really not dementia friendly as it took me ages to work out the control panel, but I managed it knowing there were youngsters all around who would help me if need be- some had already helped me with the lift…

Really nice new bathroom..

The only downside is, no tea making stuff in your room 😳 but I was only staying one night and there is free tea and coffee downstairs and you can bring it back to your room….I wouldn’t have been able to manage the check in if the assistant hadn’t come along, but apart from that I was well impressed as the light panel and lighting made it feel very open and bright. However, if your prone to claustrophobia it’s really not for you.

I heard the pings and reminders of my phone going off the next morning, went down for my morning cuppa . I surprisingly didn’t hear the hoardes come back in the early hours.

Soon out into the fresh air after the confines of the hub, the streets of Edinburgh were basking in glorious sunshine

I picked up a cuppa in Greggs, forgetting I’d booked first class, due to it being £1 cheaper than standard 🤣🙄….but it came in handy as the train was there waiting and we could board straight away. I’d had a txt to say the seat reservations weren’t working but I found my seat empty and waiting so all was well in the world….I played my games on my ipad to settle me in and soon the guard announced our departure…

I had to think for a minute or ten when the guard announced which stations we’d be stopping at…….Carlisle😳😳😳….but that’s at the other side of the country 😳. I then checked my ticket and it was going to take 5 hours to get to York instead of the 2-3 🙄….hey ho, at least it will be a change of scenery…..

And it certainly was…….but at last. We got to the right side of  the country and reached Newcastle, meaning just 1 hour to York where I had to change 😴 so just over 5 hours since leaving Edinburgh, York arrived….  and I missed a train Hull by 2 mins 🤐 meaning another hour to wait for the next one. I could have gone into York but my head was weary and my back aching from having sat for so long. York station has been revamped and now has a first class lounge so at least I could go and sit,  stare aimlessly at the TV and have a cuppa tea.

My last train and it couldn’t come soon enough. Thankfully Stuart was picking me up at Brough which saves me another hour on the train. 

As I settled into my little house,, suitcase unpacked, staring out at the paddock, it felt like the whole thing was just a wonderful dream…….but then the camera never lies

Me and Sammy seal by Philly….

P.S.

As for the felt scarf I made which will hang next to Cat Bells in my house, the colours of the sea on one side and the sunrise on the other ❤️ I was quite pleased with my first effort of felt making 😇

Finally home and looking back makes me sigh with total satisfaction. I’d had the most magical time…..thank you Philly for allowing me to share your piece of paradise….

Last full day on the island……..

After an actioned pack day the day before, surely we couldn’t top it on my final full day….or could we…?

Well actually the day before didn’t stop where I thought we’d ended……..

We’d both gone to our rooms exhausted but happy after the wonderful day we’d had. Sleep was almost upon me when a heard my name being called…..😳…..Little did I know but Philly has an app which alerts her to the presence of the Northern lights over the island 😳….

She’d had messages from islanders to say they’d seen them, so I jumped out of bed, wondering what on earth to put on. In the end getting dressed was far too complicated so put my fleece on over my jamas, then my coat, forgot my stick, went back for stick, forgot my shoes, put on shoes…..both of us like stumbling mad people, we eventually made it, Philly leading the way to the car by torchlight. 

We got to the headland near the sea. It was such a clear starry night yet raining 🤔….looking up the stars were so stunningly clea Venus the brightest one so obvious….we thought we could see the edge of the Northern lights, a shimmering every now and then on the horizon, but we must have missed the main display as no real colour appeared.

We headed home just happy that we’d tried, now cold and wide awake 🤣 – is their no end to the spectacles on this island?

Anyway, sleep must gave overtaken us and within no time it was morning….tea and toast watching the pouring rain outside…….

It was then Philly said.

Maybe we’ll stay in for a couple of hours, do you want to help me make a hat or a scarf”?

🤣 no-one’s ever said that to me before 😂….Philly is a talented crafter and felting is one of her many crafts, she is now venturing into hat making….the heads on her window took me by surprise when I first came here but she made all the hats 

We then decided on making a felt scarf……felt is the oldest person made textile. It first developed around Mongolia where they say people put sheep’s wool in their shoes for warmth and to waterproof them. They also made their huge tents out of felt……😳wow…

Under Philly’s instructions I created the layers. I’d decided on sea colours for one side 

and sunset colours for the other…

Once the layering was complete we folded the net around it for the next stage..

But then the sun came out 🤣 and we decided we couldn’t waste it indoors so trundle over to the bird hide….The field around it is called a Machiar- a fertile low lying grassy plains. It’s one of the rarest habitats in Europe and made mostly of crushed sea shells which are blown ashore by the storms. It has an amazing amount of wild flowers – roughly 40 species per square metre – as Philly described it:

“An orchestrel succession of beauty’

Her friend was already in the hide and luckily an expert and could tell us what we were looking at. I kept missing things 🙄 but I did catch the Heron looking so fragile on it’s thin legs carrying such a weighty body

A lone signet who has been left by its parents and siblings and still learning to fly. It keeps being found on the beach or away from the reservoir as it practices its flying and then can’t get back and the RSPB keep having to return it 🤣😍

Lots of tufted and grebe were swimming around and occasionally pink footed geese would take off and land in a nearby field – whereas our geese back home might migrate south, these actually migrate to the Isle of Lewis from Iceland!

We walked back home across the Machiar as it was time for lunch – home made soup and toast with veggies from the garden that we picked last night 😍

After lunch, we looked at the scarf, looked at the sunshine and decided the scarf could wait a while for the next stage. We went out the back door, up through the Croft behind Philly’s house and through the common land to the cliffs and sea

It was such spectacular views

Philly had said there might be more seals in one of the bays and as we approached we could see their heads bobbing in the water ❤️

Altogether I think we counted 9 of these gorgeous creatures. The sea was so clear I could see their flippers and bodies beneath the ocean

I was overwhelmed with joy that Sammy seal, who’d we’d seen alone the other day had rallied his family and friends and they’d all come to see us. I did ask them to line up for a family photo but they didn’t oblige…..

I could just have stayed their all day watching these inquisitive creatures, but it was blowing a cold gale so we had to move on. There were so many sea birds clinging to the rocks

And oyster catchers flying onto the cliff top ahead of us

And Cormorants

Wherever you looked it was just full of life and with the sun shining the scenery around looked just stunning.

We were heading for Philly’s swimming beach where we’d met Sammy seal, but this time on foot not in the car. We reached the edge and looked down into the greens blue sea below

Such a lovely bay…..

As we made our way inland again, we could see the afternoon rain approaching. Almost home and we decided to go inside the tiny 12th Century church. it was here they used to take ’mad’ people, tie them up, lay them on the cold concrete floor and then leave them overnight. If they’d survived the night they were suppose to be cured of their ’madness’. Thankfully we’ve come a long way in our treatment of people with dementia since then…

We needed 25 more minutes to get home dry and we just managed it with a minute to spare as the heavens opened. Fire lit, cuppa tea in the pot and a slice of lemon cake, we watched the downpour from the cosyness of inside.

Now it was time to finish the process of turning wool into a felt scarf………

The layers I’d created before going out were now soaked with hot water and soap flakes. You had to press and rub the creation to make the fibres stick together. Turn it over and repeat…then a little round contraption was used to rub the fibres even closer together, again repeating on the other side, before neatening the edges and pressing again. 

Now it time to roll it round a rolling pin and beat it even more by rolling hard before unravelling and the felt was created.

Washing in hot, then cold water, shocks the piece and rinses the soap out. After squeezing all the excess water out, it was ready to hang on the radiator and dry.

I’m going to hang it in my house turning it occasionally to have the sea and sunrise whenever the fancy takes me. But what a transformation from strands of wool to a complete solid piece of felt….this ancient art lives on…….

Day 2 of my mini adventure…….the island I remember

Apologies in advance for a verrry long blog….but we did soooo much yesterday…..and you won’t have to wait until Monday to read about it…

The banging head was inevitable this morning. We did so many wonderful things, called at so many wonderful places. I wouldn’t have missed any of it as we had to make the most of the sunshine in Lewis as yesterday  I woke to the Lewis I remember….grey and blustery…

My room has a wonderful view of space. But today the clouds were heavy with rain and the wind had strengthened – that’s the view I remember from last time I was here.  As we toured the island yesterday, I remarked how they aren’t any semi detached houses, each house has its own bit of land so space around is normal…so to look out and have space around you is so openly wonderful.

We’d planned to stay local today. I’d been awake some time, tapping on this when Philly knocked on my door and brought me a cuppa. Can’t remember the last time someone brought me a cuppa in bed, probably Philly when I was here last 🤣

A little while later after a shower, Philly tempted me to eat by offering toast ….works every time as it’s the one food I love and can’t make myself as I’m lethal with a toaster 🤣……we poured over our photos and shared news of each of our calendars as Philly won a competition for one of her photos to be in the local calendar and it’s stunning of her local beach 😍

The weather was still windy and rainy but we decided to venture out anyway as it’s a shame to waste precious time just because of the weather. We drove to the lighthouse. 

I remembered seeing loads of birds there last time but the wind was so strong I couldn’t hardly keep my hand still enough to click 😂….there were lots of shags on the rock edges

The sea pounding the rocks as gannets flew teasingly close but not still enough for me to get a close up shot……and more shags just blending into the rocks

and others watching the waves crash against the rocks

Back to the car, out of the rain and just down the road was our next stop, Philly’s favourite swimming bay

Just heaven to watch and listen to the raging sea……and then something magical happened…..a small black blob bobbed towards us…..Philly saw him first and I zoomed in, rain or no rain

An adorable seal all by itself so inquisitive to know about these 2 characters standing on the beach calling to him. Apparaently if you sing in a high pitched voice they will come towards you, and he did!…..he kept dipping down and bobbing back up again….

This adorable creature stayed with us for as long as we were prepared to be battered by the wind and rain and as we turned our backs to make our way back up the cliffs so did he bob up once more to say goodbye……❤️

Nothing else could have topped that, it had made my day, but as we looked at our watches we realised it was only 10am 🤣…..we went next to the bird hide but sadly it was locked, which was very strange as its never been locked before – they must have known I was coming 😂…..

Outside and back to the car we suddenly saw a buzzard sitting on the fence……shame about the fence but the buzzard was wonderful

Philly has even seen eagles here so I’ve asked her to invite one over to land in her garden 🤪…but you never know….

We decided we were wet and cold enough for now so toddled off home for a hot chocolate and a cuppa tea.

Such is the weather on the island that high winds and rain one minute can soon be replaced by calm…🤞

The weather cleared once more and off we set, this time on foot to another of Philly’s favourite nearby beaches – Eoropia – ……but as we left the house, Hock, the horse came over to say hello as it lives in the field next door

It’s a beautiful spotted horse called Appaloosa…..so friendly and gentle but liked Philly more than me 🤣….

Hock followed us as we walked all the down to the end of his field before stopping and allowing us to go on our way. It was a short 15 minute walk to the most wonderful beach

Again the simplicity and softness of the dunes contrasted by the rugged rocks that surround it.😍

Two turnstones (I think), ran across the edge of the shoreline looking for any tasty morsel

We walked along to one side then back again

As we began to head up the beach towards home, we looked behind and saw the rain heading our way again so quickened our step. We were almost home as the rain band caught us up and thankfully were inside having homemade soup and toast as the rain hammered down outside …..

I decided to go for a lie down as Philly had some work to do and my head needed a rest, but an hour later I poked my head up from under the duvet to find brilliant sunshine outside 😳

I jumped up and told Philly I’d try and find Eoropia beach again, only this time on my own.

I couldn’t believe the grey skies had turned to blue so quickly again, but that’s what happens here with the weather. You have to be prepared for anything.

I said hello to Hock again and again he followed me down as far as his fence would allow. I’d made a mental note on the previous walk of landmarks so was able to find the beach with only one hiccup but that was because I was concentrating on the scenery instead of where I was going 🙄

This time I remembered to take a piccie of the stone bench someone had built

The beach was bathed in sunshine, the grey skies replaced by blue..

The waves looked more powerful as I made my way to the sea edge…

I could see a walker on top of the headland in the distance…..

I then bent down to try and get closer to the sand……

Then turned and saw my shadow on the sand…..and was so mesmerised by this and taking a piccie that I didn’t realise how close the tide had come…..as it washed over my shoes, taking me by surprise 🤣

Chuckling to myself, I turned again and saw the squalls of rain heading towards us again, but the sun came out again so I was snapping away at the sea crashing against the rocks and the spray sending mist above

So busy clicking that I’d forgotten the approaching squall….. the rain was suddenly upon me so I was drenched once again by the time I’d reached home and only one wrong turning, but this time was due to my hood being held up over my eyes to protect me against the horizontal rain 🤣

Philly was on a zoom when I got back so time enough to type away at this….once she’d finished, as if by magic, the rain had stopped and the sun was shining so we took the opportunity to set off for out fourth and final trundle of the day, this time a short drive to the Port of Ness.

…where another beautiful bay lays waiting for you

The sun was just going down over the rocks behind us

We wondered along the beach trying to work out if the tide was coming in or going out and we had to keep watch in case it was coming in, otherwise we would have been cut off and had to climb the rocks 😳🤣

We saw what we thought was a grebe ducking and diving in the waves. Each time I clicked it dived just before so I had lots of piccies of the sea 🤣….but eventually I managed one, not clear but at least we could see it and when we got home and did more research and asked on a bird forum, we decided that it was a red throated diver – a rare breeding bird in north west scotland 😇

After walking up and down, I was beginning to flag….we’d filled the day with wonderful things again. At the top of the path the café, with huge windows overlooking the sea was still open, so it would have been rude not to have a cuppa.

Sat inside, watching the tide, the greenness of the sea was more noticeable. A feather we’d found on the beach lay on the table ready to take home. A lovely way to end another fun packed day

Now several times today as I’ve been writing my blog each time we arrived home, I’ve been thinking it’s the end, no more outings and each time the sun shone and we went out again 🤣…..but we had supper and REEEALy thought we were in for the night…..until the sun set,,,,and this was out of the window…..so one last step outside….

What a way to finish another amazing day……

Day one of my mini adventure……… 

Well I made a right mess of my blogs yesterday and released 2 instead of one 🙄 the mini adventure was suppose to start today to give me time to write each day, but hey ho….best laid plans 🥴

I’d had a sleep wake sleep wake kinda night in the hotel, which I hadn’t had for ages, but not surprising in a strange unfamiliar room….

I checked the state of the flight and it was still showing as delayed but no more than yesterday🙄

I went through my normal routine of all my games and felt my head was clearer today. The fuzz and banging almost clear…

I’m so glad I caught the airport bus. It was a lovely blue sky day so I sat upstairs marvelling at Edinburgh.

It took 30 mins to get there so I was in plenty of time. I think I said yesterday that I hadn’t been able to book assisted travel as you had to use the phone. Because it was last minute neither of my daughters were around to help me. However, the woman at the check in desk was super helpful as the queues were large and I didn’t have a clue if I was in the right one 🙈….but I was. She asked me if I’d booked assistance and I explained the problem. 

Just point me in the right direction” I said

And she did. As I got to the top of the escalator, ‘Be prepared for security “ sign came into view……😳….Crikey, I’d forgotten all about that 🥴….so I stood reading the signs, emptying my medication into a bag and got everything to hand I thought I might have to have …..

I just followed a family in front of me as it began to look very confusing, with lots of lanes. I must have been looking totally lost as a woman came over and asked if I needed help – perfect….⭐️…I wasn’t rushed, they were calm and helpful even though the queue was building. As I walked through the scanner…..yup….the alarm sounded 🤣…..what had I forgotten? Turned out just to be the metal on my lanyard, but again people were smiley and friendly.

Once out of there, a Sign said:

Now you can relax”

Which made me chuckle..😂….as I did just that along with everyone else 🤣

Why is it we feel guilty when we’ve nothing to be guilty about 🤣

My main priority was a cuppa tea. So many shops, I saw the familiar blue sign of Neros, not that I’ve been there for years but there’s something about their sign that looks welcoming. Cuppa tea in hand I sat myself down in fron of a departure board. The sign might be friendly but the tea certainly wasn’t Yorkshire 🤮

I was like a child watching the planes come and go

I wanted to get my camera out but wasn’t sure of the rules….no one else seemed to be as a cited as me 🤣

As the minutes ticked down the gate was finally announced. We sat and we sat with no sign of movement and ended up leaving even later; it must have been after midday as we boarded.

Again, the people were lovely. The stewardess came down and got my case from me. Someone was in my seat but since the flight was only a quarter full, it made no difference and I just sat in a different seat. Within no time we were off

Our little plane ready and waiting….

Take off was very smooth and I was at the right side to see the bridges, whose names I can’t remember 🙄

I just love being up in the clouds. Speed almost becomes non existent as we fly. It’s as if we’re floating in the clouds.

The flight only took 30 odd minutes and the same stewardess helped me down with my case and there was the lovely smiley face of Philly waiting for me.

The air smelt so clean and fresh, I was just happy to be there. We went the scenic way home stopping first at the harbour wall. Philly showed me a monument to soldiers who’d been off fighting somewhere but when their ship was 2 miles from home it sank and all lives were lost. The wooden posts, one each for each victim of the tragedy were cut from trees in the castle grounds and form the shape of a ship which is lit up at night…😍

It was such a simple monument yet deeply moving when you read the story behind it…

Next stop was Calanais – the Isle of Lewis version of Stonehenge ….I’d purposely not looked at my photos from last time as I wanted to relive every moment again. This was one place like that, visited before but as though for the first time each time ❤️. The first time we got out of the car the heavens opened and we got a real soaking, it was soooo funny

We went back to the car, had a cuppa and a snack and went back out as it stopped. 

Just stunning scenery all round…

Back to the car again for homeward bound…but we kept doing a detour as something else caught our eye…

We came across a “Sheiling”….women used to take their cattle and children in the summer and stay in these tiny stone buildings with everything you needed in one room. 

It was also the women’s excuse to get away from their husbands 🤣…love it….it looked so cosy!

In the field next to it were some friendly Highland Cows….which had such thick coats

A few miles further and Philly pulled into a small car park which had the only coach we’d seen parked in it….a lovely Scottish driver hopped out and told us he was rounding up his tourists so we could have the place to ourselves 🤣…..

A 10 minute walk away and we came to the Shawbost Norse Mill and kiln. A renovated Viking mill and kiln that used to ground barley and oats and make the odd illegal bottle of whiskey,,,

The thatch roof was so simply laid and held down with stones and mesh, so clever….

I’ve probably got the order of all these detours wrong as my camera locked halfway on the journey home to Ness so my phone had to come out, but when they then load onto my ipad they come out in a random order 😳. I used my photos to tell me what I’ve done 🥴

Anyway….a last detour was to a lovely windswept bay. The weather had behaved with squally showers followed by blue skies….

We went down to the beach to feel the full effect of the strong winds 

It was amazing…

So wild, so untamed so rugged…..

This was all on the way home from the airport simply because it was a shame not to make the most of the weather …..

We got home, both tired but happy from the day we’d had. However, after supper , I noticed how lovely the sky looked and went outside to take a final shot

But then Philly suggested we have one last drive down to the headland, only a few minutes away, so we seized the moment with the weather behaving and I was able to take my last, very last …shot of the day…promise…

For day 2 I’m afraid you’ll have to wait until Monday……🙄

A little adventure begins……. 

Dementia has brought me the most amazing new friendships; so strange that something so tragic can build and open up new avenues. Lots of my new friends are living with dementia but many aren’t. Many are academics whose unlikely alliance I now cherish, others because we have lots in common. One of those is Philly. 

Philly now lives on the beautiful Isle Of Lewis, one of the islands at the top left hand side of Scotland. We both love the outdoors and everything nature has to offer us. And that’s where I’m off to just for a few days to soak up this rugged landscape with all it’s bird life and scenery ….

But first, an overnight stay in Edinburgh as the trains don’t match the flight times…..

As soon as I awoke Tuesday morning, I could sense a special sunrise. I’d almost missed it, but caught it out of my window 

I showered and dressed and immediately went out for an early morning trundle to start my day off well as my head was banging from the Tea and Toast of the previous day. The village Newsletters had been put through my letterbox the previous night. I deliver 20 of them and so decided I’d trundle there first.

It was a real cold autumn morning, it took me by surprise. But the sky was lovely.

My round is on the Main Street and ends at the duck pond, so up and down drives I went, clicking as I went

I don’t envy our postman having to grapple with some of the letterboxes. Some stiff and hard to open, others snapping at your fingers. I suppose he knows exactly which is which…

All delivered, the pond quiet until they saw me and then disappointed quacks were heard as I hadn’t brought them some breakfast 🤣… a heron lay in wait for any fish that might pop to the surface, not that he had much chance today, far too cold

The ducks were giving him a wide berth and were sheltering round the island

He saw me coming and immediately flew off to the other end

But then realised breakfast wasn’t being served at the pond today so took flight to feed elsewhere

Just a short walk today, up through the house, then along the back lane to the church. The Shetland ponies have finally been brought back to the village after their field was treated. They only came back yesterday, but it was like they’d never been away. Ginger stood waiting by the fence for his breakfast too.

Just as I was approaching home I looked up into the sky and saw the moon was staying up to see what the day time was like

Head still banging but happy I’d made the effort. I went home to finish packing…..

My taxi driver arrived on time and ,as usual, asked where I was going….

“Western Isles of Scotland” was my reply……

She did a double take, expecting me to say York or Keswick, then laughed her socks off….🤣….

“You’ve done everything I’ve ever wanted to do and more, all since you’ve had dementia”

The first train was to York and it took all the alertness I had to stay on at Hull, as I usually get off there and travel by bus to York 😳….all I wanted to do was to close my eyes and lie down. This was not the time for my head to misbehave 🙈

York appeared in a blur. I really don’t remember going through the stations. It was a good job York was the end of the line me thinks 🥴…

I’d managed to book first class as the tickets were  £1 cheaper than standard, which makes no sense at all, but worked to my benefit.

I was able to have a hot ciabatta for lunch which would do me through the day, which meant I wouldn’t have to find an M&S when I got there for my supper.

I was glad to have a seat to myself so the need to chat to fellow passengers didn’t exist as I don’t think I would have been able to concentrate. The east coast journey is so beautiful along the coast that I was happy to tap away on my ipad for a while and then just admire the scenery 

Photo

Darlington, then Durham, where I’d spent so many trips doing research with Professor Jan

It was nice to see the cathedral and castle once more from the train….

As we approached Newcastle, crossing the bridge, the skies became dark with the rain filled clouds and the heavens opened a few times

As we left Newcastle I knew we’d be heading for my favourite part of the journey with the sea in view….speeding through Morpeth and the other smaller stations, as we went through Almouth, I was expecting the rugged east coast to appear….the normal views I was picturing never emerged 😳. Slight panic welled up inside as field after field came and went with no sign of the sea 😳 Had I missed it? No, surely not, I’d been watching and waiting for it, banging head or not……

Then suddenly, out of the blue, the landscaped I’d been expecting earlier arrived

I’d just remembered it in the wrong place……AND breathe……it stayed with us mile after mile just as I’d been waiting for…although on the train it’s over and back to land far too quickly 🙄

Fleeting glimpses of bird life on the rugged rocks leading down to the sea, or maybe that was wishful thinking….

About 4 hours after leaving York, the train pulled into Edinburgh….I almost went out the wrong way, but something somewhere told me it was wrong, so I stopped and had a think ….then found the right exit onto Princes Street. I was staying at a Premier Inn and I’m sure there’s about 10 in the centre, but luckily the hotel had provided simple to follow instructions…trouble was I kept getting distracted and taking piccies 🙄

So inevitably I took a wrong turn🙈. I retraced ny steps and started again, this time finding it. I checked in, dumped my stuff, then quickly went back out to suss how to get to the airport…I intended to catch the tram but when I got to a stop I couldn’t work out what to do 🙈 Time for another piccie to calm down…..

Feeling a tad deflated, with no one around to ask, I made my way back to the hotel to try and look online…but as I crossed one road I saw an airport bus at the side of the road. Thankfully the driver was smiley and told me they all start from there and run every 15 minutes and you pay on the bus – result …forget the tram …one last piccie to celebrate this time

I made the last few hundred yards feeling much more confident and then my phone pinged ….it was the airline 😳….saying my flight was delayed before the morning had even come 🙈….nothing I can do. I’ll sort that out when I need to….after a sleep…..

The price I pay for a good day…… 

The day after our first face to face meeting with playmates at Minds and Voices, so last Tuesday, was never going to be a good one…

The sheer energy it took from me and the overwhelming excitement of it all, was always going to take its toll. One person there said how well and on the ball I looked, but they only see me for that 2 hours, that moment in time. They didn’t see me struggle to find my bus stop home, or fall asleep as soon as I got home. So seeing me there and then is only half the story. I’m always going to be happy in a happy situation…

Anyway, the next day came with a bang…mainly my head banging. I woke feeling hazy and knew instantly that it was going to be a tough day…it was inevitable after the joy of the day before..…I could have easily stayed in bed, but through the gap in my curtains I could see it was a sunny day and I hate wasting a sunny day. A trundle might clear my head…

So showered and sluggish I slid out of my house and headed for the duck pond….Peter the duck man was busy feeding them their breakfast when I got there so they were all crowded round on the little bit of grass, just for that purpose

The mandarins really are looking spectacular in their autumn colours

Peter the racing pigeon is still with us and seems to have made this is home now. The ducks don’t seem to mind when he joins in eating their food, so a happy alliance seems to have been established

It’s the school run, so many children and parents walk passed shouting their hellos as I continue to take photos and that was when I realised my speech was hesitant and choppy. I wouldn’t have known if I’d have stayed home alone…

I notice neither Terence or Teresa have surfaced onto their log at the far end. The autumn air will probably be too chilly for them. But then I spy Terence on a different piece of wood

Maybe just having a change. I close my eyes for a second just to relax my aching head and when I open them our two Muscovies have hopped on the fence beside me making me smile, looking as if they know I need some reassurance today

Suddenly a house alarm goes off and I quickly cover my ears, the piercing sound not doing me any favours at all. It goes off after a few seconds and I look round to find workmen as the culprits.

Up through the houses, more children excitedly going to school, more parents following looking happy in the knowledge of some peace to follow. There’s always an abundance of sparrows in the hedgerow by the playing field, but it was a different song that caught my attention. I scanned the tree and there she was……singing her beautiful morning song..

Along the lane someone had put out a box full of apples for children and adults alike to take one. The other day it was a box of surplus plums left out in front of the village hall 😍

Through the gallops and the horses looked up from their grazing as I trundled by. Sometimes they’ll gallop down the hill to say hello, but this morning they just posed perfectly

Along by halfpenny cottage and on the final stretch now, more birds caught my eye as I disturbed them into flight as I came round the corner. I saw where they headed and zoomed my camera in to see what they were….a flash of yellow and red told me they were goldfinches. 

Finally reaching the bottom of my road, a horse and its rider crossed over and gave me one last shot before heading for my morning cuppa.

The trundle hadn’t made my head any less hazy but I was glad of the fresh air and to put it to one side just for an hour or so….

The same banging head happened the day after the village party and Tea and Toast….it always hits me as a surprise because I’ve had such a wonderful time on these occasions…… note to self….must build in a quiet day after a people day as no way would I have missed any of them……🙄….but will I remember…..🤣

Tea and Toast……

On a Monday in our village there is “Tea and Toast” from 9-11am….anyone can pop in but it usually clashes with my zooms or visits to Minds and Voices, but by pure luck, we’ve now stopped the weekly zooms and replaced with the monthly face to face meetings just like pre covid…..this meant I was free to go yesterday and sell my calendars at this weekly chatty get together. I could easily live on toast, but sadly I’m banned from having it now as me and toasters don’t get on and I havn’t a clue how to use the grill, but that would probably result in the same outcome…a fire 🙄. Usually I only get to eat it when I’m in paradise and I have with my breakfast…

It was a very unpromising morning as I opened my curtains and forecasted to get worse with a storm coming over us for a couple of hours…..yup, you guessed it, due between 9 and 11..🙄

I decided to take the partly full box of calendars in a bin bag as I thought I’d be carrying some back. So raincoat on, hood up, I headed out into the blustery day. 

Tea and Toast is held in the other church in the village, the Methodist. It doesn’t have much going for it from the outside which is why I rarely take piccies of it

I’d never been before and it’s only down the road from me. Lovely to see a big sign outside and then signs telling you how to make your way in – perfect 😍…just as I’d got to the top of the steps, Kathryn, who’d asked me to attend, apppeared round the corner and kindly took the heavy box from me.

As I walked in, it felt like walking into a welcoming tea shop

A table cloth adorned each table along with a posy of flowers. I’d arrived as they were setting up and insisted the volunteers be in a photo 🤣 .They have a rota of volunteers who give up their time and serve everyone.

It might not be anything to look at from the outside but the inside is so welcoming and bright. I thought where we were doubled up as the church but then Kathryn took me down some steps and showed me their pride and joy

Once again, it looked welcoming and calm.

People started to arrive and activity began in the kitchen as the tea and toast was made to order. It had been their Harvest Festival the day before and an enormous pile of food donations was waiting to be taken to the local Food Bank. Also heading some lucky persons way was a divine display of flowers

There were funny conversations about the hymns that had been chosen. One person really didn’t like “We plough the Fields and Scatter”. It was one of my favourites at school. But when she told us why it was understandable…..She’d heard it so many times at farmers funerals that it had lost its joyousness. Then someone announced how they’d been born in the village and all the generations before her. She likened herself to a stick of roach with ‘Walkington’ all the way through🤣. The conversation then led to where people had originated. It was so interesting listening to all their tales.

Peter the duck man arrived, the first familiar face. We exchanged comments about the ducks and how the Mandarin were stunning this year wearing their autumn feathers.

Peter used to take photos years ago and has a display in the village hall, which I still havn’t been able to see. He’s the font of all duck knowledge and was very disappointed not to see the colourful mandarins in the calendar 😂..but loved it anyway and bought one. He asked if I was going to come every week, but sadly it clashes with Minds and Voices….he left soon after his tea and toast to avoid the worst of the rain.

Other villagers arrived in the heavy rain. It was torrential, yet they’d still come out for their Monday get together. The rain was bouncing off the wall outside and created a haze over the village..

One person arrived that I knew but couldn’t remember where from. That was until she was thrilled to see her dad was on the calendar as he was playing bowls in the August photo on the calendar. He’d now be known as Mr August 😂 that’s of course when I realised where I know her from. 

People came and went, different conversations started. Peter the duck man suddenly reappeared at the door, very wet. He made his way over to me and handed me an old local newspaper which he thought I’d like

It cost half a penny back in its day. The facts and figures were fascinating from a local era long ago.

Everyone bought my calendar, some bought multiple copies so at one point I ran out, the box was empty 😳….Someone came in and was disappointed that I’d sold out, so I went back out in the rain and got the two she wanted, bringing them back in a bin bag 🤣…luckily I’d brought some bin liners that each could take theirs home in. Having just come back in, another lady turned up wanting a calendar and a book….so out I went again, and brought them back. Arriving back, another lady had just arrived soaked and she wanted 3……🥴…yup, out one last time and came back with her three…..😇😂

I’m now on my last box and will have to think whether I need to order any more 🤔

By this time I was aware how many different conversations were going on. They were all merging together and it was getting a tad confusing and overwhelming, so that was the queue to make my way home.

I’d known a few of the people but amazingly met many new villagers and was made to feel so welcome….a lovely morning…

By the time this blog is published I’ll have started my mini adventure, but more of that tomorrow…….