Category Archives: A day in the life

Everyday experience of living with dementia.

Our weekend away….Sunday…

Very long blog for a very chocca block day….

Well now to our final day. We actually had planned to spend most of the day off site. Sarah regards this area as her home so she has many friends here, so we decided to spend the day with one of them in a very special way…..

Woburn itself is famous for its deer park and you can guess they were on the top of my list to go see. What I hadn’t realised is that me had Sarah had been talking about two different things and she thought I wanted to go around the safari park 😂…she certainly did, especially with her new camera 🤣….but once we realised the mix up, we sorted a compromise which would take in both. Before that visit Sarah was meeting her friend Ruth at the outdoor lido for they are both outdoor swimmers. Sarah sorted a route that would take us to the lido, via the deer park then onto the safari park.😂😂🤣….

We’d had overnight rain and we knew it was going to be a cloudy day so wasn’t disappointed at the grey weather that greeted me as I opened the curtains. I’d showered and had my cuppa when Sarah appeared, so while she sorted herself out I went my little walk, this time to the lake and back. It was so lovely to see families up early riding bikes, children playing amongst the trees….and I was able to be stranded by a Robin’s morning song…

I couldn’t spy the young grebes on the lake so I turned round and headed back home where Sarah was waiting for us to leave for the lido…

We were only 10-15 minutes away and Sarah had planned the route via the Deer Park. It’d so like our town cows – they have right of way and right to roam wherever their hooves takes them across the estate with the road running straight through the middle, just like the Westwood.

As we came to the brow of the hill there were the beauties in the distance. 

Sarah stopped the car and I hopped out and was in deer heaven

I just stood and marvelled at these magnificent beasts. I was surrounded

Their stags antlers looked so heavy for their heads!

No wonder their way of fighting for supremacy is to lock horns…..

A paler coloured one stood on the opposite side looking down at me

I could show you so many more photos, but this was just the beginning of our time out 😳 but I’d seen what I wanted, now it was Sarah’s turn. We met Ruth, her friend just as we turned into the car park, bath having arrived at the same time.

The people at the outdoor lido were so friendly. The outdoor experience made everyone instant friends. One of the life guards even wiped a seat down for me to have somewhere to sit …

It looked very cold when they got in creating much laughter and shivers

There were birds all around me so I was very happy.

Every now and then I’d snap the swimmers. 

Ruth does Triathalons so was speeding up and down

They finally got out and dressed in their snug after swim clothes. They’ve been friends since school…and I’m sure. Will be friends forever…

It was then time to go to the safari park.The Woburn Estate is enormous. Most of this area is owned by the family but when they do something they do it well. The Safari park is an example of this. Whilst I don’t like to see animals captive, these animals have acres to roam in. 

There were far too many animals to show here, but these are some of my highlights from the drive around…starting with the lions….

Such wonderful beasts once more straight in front of us…

This one rolled onto its back just like Billy and stared cutely at us 🤣 I swear it wanted me to tickle it’s tummy, but for some reason Sarah and Ruth wouldn’t let me get out of the car 🤣

There were I’d never heard of…like a Bongo and Blesbok….but because of the area we were in, just like at Centre Parcs, there were an abundance of Kites flying around in the sky as a bonus and one single handedly made my day by landing on a branch in the tree we were passing

A giraffe came close to the car to see what we were up to 😂

Then a very random bird walking along the road. Havn’t a clue what it is, isn’t it beautiful 🥰?

We decided to let our car loose on the inquisitive Barbary Macaque Monkies…such mischievous little animals…this one hitching a ride with the rangers ….

One made Sarah’s day by coming to have a look at us from the bonnet of our car 😂….

I havn’t been able to show you so many others, like the elephants, rhinos and tigers plus sooo many others, but we ended, after a bite to eat, to go see on foot, the meerkats, otters, porcupines and Rainbow birds.

 I can see by my photographs that I was getting tired at this stage….but the odd one from each came out, first the meerkats, one staring me out 😂

…the otters, chasing each other round, one stopping to pose

The porcupines were the surprise of the day to me as I’d always imagined them to be much smaller, but they were probably 10 tens the size I imagine 😳

Finally the wonderful parakeets…Avian bird flu has affected them like many other birds. The rules are strict for entering their area and if you have any birds of any sort at home you’re not allowed in, so they rely on the publics honesty to keep their birds safe. They mate for life 😍

My batteries were now on 1%…it had been a long exciting day, so after our farewells to Ruth,…..which included a last pickiest in the car…….

….we headed back for our final nights sleep at our lodge….

We both thought that would be it for the day. It was 4pm when we got home and we both snuggled down on the settee. We then both saw the sky turning red outside 😳….and Sarah hadn’t seen the Christmas lights in the dark…..we ordered a take away, which any of the restaurants on site will deliver free, and headed out for our FINAL walk 🤣. It was such a lovely sky through the trees

One more circuit of the Parc and a final photo amidst the twinkly lights…

It was quite an experience being somewhere different but thanks to the kind offer from Centre Parcs and Dementia UK I was able to face a situation I  wouldn’t normally have chosen. The Parc itself is amazingly organised; the staff are the best customer service trained people on a par with Apple staff who I also hold in high regard.

As respite for the families that were gifted breaks, I imagine there coudn’t be any place more perfect to distress…I may not have used most of the facilities, where the majority of people come for the pool and outdoor experiences, but I found nature all around me. There were quiet areas to watch the birds, the Red Kites, renowned in this area for being in abundance, put on a spectacular show for me….and finally I had Sarah with me who helped me through the difficulties at the beginning. The only change I would ask Centre Parcs to make, should anyone with dementia be on the guest list, is please allow us to arrive in the light in winter time. The trauma it caused me arriving in the dark, nearly had me turning around and heading back home ….I’m so glad I didn’t. 

Thank you Centre Parcs and Dementia UK.

Our weekend away…….Saturday

After a night of restless sleep I finally got up around 06.30, trying to be as quiet as I could so as not to wake Sarah. I eventually worked out the shower, realising the one thing I’d forgotten was shower gel 🙄 so it was there tiny complimentary soap that did the job 😂

As I came out to make a cuppa, Sarah appeared, bleary eyed but smiling. As I sat on the settee watching it get light I was itching to go out, but didn’t have a clue where I was or how to get back. My surroundings were a mystery after the dark arrival last night. We realised we couldn’t have arrived in daylight as checking wasn’t until 4pm….just as it’s getting dark…..

But as Sarah needed another half an hour to wake up, I decided I must get outside. What’s the worst that could happen? I’d get lost….but surely they’d bee people about to help me. So off I went….

The minute I stepped outside and felt the morning air I was settled. It was also light and the world around looked friendlier than in the dark. So many magnificent trees

…and the sun just starting it’s assent, saying hello through the trunks of the fir trees….

I could feel my body starting to relax as the nature around me began to wrap its arms around me… 

Suddenly sign posts, which had been invisible in the dark, were now clear in daylight. I noticed the night before, pillar box red phone boxes around the site, so I peered in and could see they were emergency phones to contact the staff – a simple press one or two….

All worries faded then. I knew if I got lost help would be close by. I could hear lots of Robins singing their morning song and saw squirrels scurrying about. I felt at home with my surroundings

I went in what I imagined to be a circle around our lodge and because I wasn’t worried, I just followed my nose and arrived back home feeling very pleased with myself…😇

Once Sarah was ready we went out to explore our temporary world. I was now in Sarah’s hands so felt safe as we ventured further around. They’d created a Christmas winter wonderland for both children and adults alike….

I could hear some familiar sounds coming from the direction we were heading….as we turned the corner, the lake appeared and there they were

A young grebe was on it’s own ducking and diving…

They’d actually done a good job at building the whole holiday village in and around what once must have been a forest, but they’d kept as much as they could. The tall thin firs visibly swinging in the breeze

We soon realised you actually needed to book everything online prior to going 😳🙄�…so you couldn’t decided spur of the moment things. Even breakfast at the Pancake house. We went in assuming we could just walk in but a smiley girl very politely told us they were full but gave us a slot for an hours time…we discovered there was a birds of prey centre but again, you had to book and it turned out to be full all day 😔�…..But we did manage to book an electric boat ride on the lake for later 🤣 a silent boat ride, which would be lovely after the chaos of the Pancake House 😂�…I’d forgotten how noisy it was to eat out as I usually don’t and of course there were lots of happy screaming children 🥴🫣🤣

We decided to venture off the main path and found a table with lots of bird feeders…suddenly heaven had appeared 😂

There was a feeding frenzy going on…

a nuthatch suddenly joined the blue tits

I’m not sure what this one is, one of the Tit family for sure, but it decided to have its breakfast in situe 😂

Suddenly the birds were full and disappeared back to the trees,  so we carried on with our walking….

We came across the zip wire 😳�….something I’ve always wanted to do….we were directly under it as a father and son came racing down

I asked Sarah to look if we could book it….just for me 😂�…..but sadly you had to do the rest of the assault course, which wasn’t built for wobbly me 😔�….🙄�…never mind…..

As we headed back to the lodge for a break when suddenly a red kite came into sight between the trees 

There were 2 hovering in the sky. As people were rushing by looking straight ahead, I was stood stock still, camera skywards. Others were oblivious to the sight above them

I clicked and clicked hoping I would get the perfect shot. I didn’t but they weren’t bad and I went back very happy

After a cuppa and sit down, Sarah booked the e-boat online…although, she tried twice and it wouldn’t accept it, then she rang the number it gave and the woman didn’t come back to her for payment…rang once more and a very helpful woman stayed with Sarah until the booking had been completed, apologising profusely….finally sorted 🙄�….we ambled down to the lake where our silent boat was waiting….

Sarah steered while I snapped 🤣 2 kites appeared in the sky while competing for the best position

…but then disappeared out of sight as Sarah had to turn the boat in the opposite direction 😂�…..but then obligated once more 

The ducks and swans were obviously well used to these silent boats with noisy people on board as they didn’t flinch as we floated alongside them

The sun found a gap in the clouds and lay a sparkling path before us

It was amazing how quickly 30 mins went by as two young lads helped me off…🤣�…

We ambled further round the Parc to bits we hadn’t seen before and came across Santa’s trail where me and Sarah got covered in snow 😂

Considering Sarah doesn’t think it’s right to talk about Christmas until 24th December at the earliest 🤣�…shr did very well to come round with me, as I’m a christmasholic….🥴

However, I really did want to see it all when it was dark….Sarah wanted to go swimming as there were outside rapids and an outdoor night pool, but cameras weren’t allowed for obvious reasons. So while sarah was enjoying the water, I now felt confident and comfortable going out in the dark, simply because of the pillar box red phone boxes that didn’t have a phone – simply buttons 1 and 2 to ask for help. There was one at every junction so lots.such good use of the now redundant phone boxes – genius idea!

What looked lovely even during the day, now looked magical

I could see lights where I hadn’t seen before

Excited children were everywhere as Father Christmas was now in his workshop

The magic of Christmas was all around as wide eyed little people ooo’d and ahhhh’d at every corner

The Enchanted Garden changed colour with the different Christmas music playing….

I finally decided I was done for the day as I reached the familiar boats once more that was a beach during daylight and which now surrounded by lights

Sarah would probably be coming out of the pool soon so I ambled through the darkness with everyone else and within minutes someone tapped me on the shoulder. Sarah had tracked me and come to meet me …..what a lovely day we had……

Time away of a different kind……

I think I’ve spoken before about the only dementia charity I support is Dementia UK which trains Admiral Nurses – specialists dementia nurses. I’m part of their LEAP group – people with lived experience who they consult on different matters.

Well the holiday park company, Centre Parcs, kindly donated some short out of season breaks and Dementia UK ask LEAP members if they’d like one😍�…

I took the girls when they were little to Centre Parcs at Sherwood Forest and I have wonderful memories from that trip. Gemma and Stuart would be working, so couldn’t join me, but Sarah managed to get the time off so this time we chose a newer Parc at Woburn – AND it’s near where we used to live in Milton Keyes! Sarah regards Milton Keynes as ‘home’ as we lived much of her life there, so we arranged to spend a day with one of her friends and the other bonus was – I’d be able to get to see Julie and Terry, my best friends from Milton Keynes, whose son Jason sadly died this year 🥲�…I wrote about the lovely Jason below

Anyway….me and Sarah chose a Friday to Monday stay and this started last Friday….the day before I’d trundled down to the Westwood to see my first sunrise in ages

We’d had so much dull, wet, monochrome weather of late, that I just knew it would be lovely and it certainly was

The day of our journey began with clear gentle skies. Sarah wasn’t picking me up until 09.30 and I’d packed the night before so I had time for a little trundle but our car journey south

The squirrel obliged by being at his door way looking out to see if anyone else was around

…and two other further down the lane, were already out and about playing chase around a tree trunk

Although nearly the end of November, some trees sadly still have their autumn leaves 

…..the unusual weather confusing nature as well as me 🙄�….but we seem to have got back to normal temperatures and nature is very good at catching up even if we humans aren’t…

I knew I couldn’t hang about long and I was in the wrong place to see the sunrise,, so made do with a walk to the end of the dirt track where the three trees stood, just as they always have

…and a pair of rabbits sat pondering their day ahead

But for me, it was time to head home and wait for Sarah….

I always have that nagging feeling that I’ll want to come home as soon as I get there. Nothing will be familiar, my routine gone. But, even after I’d accepted the holiday break, I tried to put this to the back of my mind….

We set off in glorious sunshine and our first port of call before the Parc itself would be Julie and Terrys. We drove the 3 hours or so, having a couple of breaks en route before finally arriving in `Milton Keynes. Lots of hugs followed, then catching up with news. It was 4 months since Jason had died so a candle lay lit on the table

We had the extra bonus of Alec, their youngest son being there. We hadn’t seen him for so many years, then twice in such a short space of time….

I really wanted to go and see Jasons spot in the churchyard, so after lunch, we headed down, taking flowers with us. It was a lovely 10 minute walk through to the old original Milton Keynes Village. His grave looked how I imagine – cared for, bright and beautiful. The perfect spot

It could not have been in a nicer position

Tears were shed as Julie and Alec gently and precisely placed the flowers.

They’d cleverly put flower oasis in the soil for the flower to sit in, such a genius idea. When they’d finished, old flowers removed, fresh in their place, his grave looked a picture – so loved and always would be.

A touching plaque at the head of the grave

Behind the grave stood an enormous tree. A variety which is one of the biggest in the world

It seemed fitting that Jason lay close by, as if protected by this ancient representative of nature

More tears, more hugs, before finally heading back and time for me and Sarah to leave…such a much needed visit to see my dear friends.

We said goodbye to Milton Keynes and headed into the next county, Bedfordshire, directed by the sat nav on the quieter roads instead of the motorway, which, as we passed over it, looked very bust.

As we arrived, it was dusk. There’d been a glorious sunset behind us in the car, but now we turned into…..

It had been transformed into a Winter wonderland ! We joined the queue to check in, but it was very efficient, with festive snow to welcome you at the check in huts 🤣

By this time it was getting dark. Sarah had already worked out how to get to our lodge so we found it without much trouble, unpacked the car and looked around deciding which room was for whom. As it turned out, the choice was made for us. One bedroom had a shower, the other a bath and shower. I like showers, Sarah prefers a bath – sorted!!

We then ambled out to find the shop for last minute bits. That’s when it got difficult. It’s always difficult in the dark as shadows cast strange shapes around and I don’t know where I am, so my phone served as my camera, as I snapped away for distraction

It felt very poorly lit and signage didn’t seem to say where to find your chalets or lodges, or maybe it was just the fact the signs didn’t have lights so were difficult to read 🤔�…but luckily I was able to leave that to Sarah. We found the shops, every now and then, coming across Christmas lights

……then made our way back again and there we stayed snug for the evening. Exploring could wait until the morning when it was light and hopefully it would be a friendlier world that greets me…..

Third day of dementia being in control…….

Dementia is on a roll and today is the third day of it calling the shots…..often it can be hours, even minutes but it’s stuck itself on me like a limpet and I can’t shake it off….

When dementia is taking hold like this the best place for me is outside. It’s as though the big open air distracts and dilutes dementia. All i wanted to do when i woke was to stay in bed but I’ve experienced it enough times to know that that is dementia’s cruel controlling trick to keep you under its spell. Obviously if you’re under the weather that’s different but im so lucky i can usually tell the difference, if not outwardly at the time, but something tells me subconsciously. I like to think of it as the old me looking out for me and urging me to do what’s right. 

Thus it was just like this for the third day running. That third day of haze and confusion 😔 i was tiring of this state, this state was tiring but i had to keep that one step ahead. 

( I wrote the following section on my phone while I was sat on a bench in the bus station trying to remember why i was there).

The sun was shining down from a bright blue sky  opposite

… and typing, my way of dealing with confusion trying to give me the feeling that I’m in control of dementia not the other way round. Doesn’t always work but relaxes and distracts me as it was doing today. I got up and checked the information board. A bus to york was due 🤔 looked at my reminders ‘ go to York for Christmas fair’ – that solved that conundrum….thank goodness for reminders and my ability to set them. I loooked back at my photos, trying to remember how I got here 🤔 I must have walked as the sun once more provided the evidence of my walk, first one of the sun’s rays lighting up a tree…..wasn’t sure where that was taken

But the next  one I recognised as being by the traffic lights heading out of the village

So the first must have been between home and the traffic lights, I reasoned with myself 😇

The bus arrived. I automatically tried to use my bus pass not realising it was too early but the bus driver was kind and patient and waited for me. He wasn’t feeling too well himself, had lost his voice. Another driver came and made fun of him, saying it was a first not to hear his banter.

I sat on the seat adjacent to him at the front, i felt safe and could see his driver’s eye view but unlike him, I was sat in comfort in my own world. I settled down for the hour plus long journey feeling sorry for the driver. It was mega windy and he was struggling to keep control of the double decker as we ventured over the barren Wolds. I switched off and enjoyed the scenery

I got off at York station. I was heading for the racecourse and didn’t know which bus to catch 🙄. I could have walked, but I just couldn’t remember how far away it was 🙈�….the first bus that pulled up, I asked the driver if he went to the racecourse….

“You want a number 4 duck” he replied smiling. No ones called me ‘duck’ since my dad….🥰

Buses came and went but eventually a number 4 pulled up. Turned out it wasn’t that far away as I got off within a few stops, but at least the bus got there before I would have done. I walked up the long steady slope of a road to the racecourse entrance. Just as I’d almost reached the doors, a woman approached me…

“Have you already got a ticket?”…I shook my head, wondering what was coming next.

“I’ve got a voucher for two to get in half price, would you like to come in with me?”

Bless, what a lovely thing to do. Apparently her hubby was supposed to have been with her but he’d changed his mind at the last minute…

We chatted happily in the short queue before saying our goodbyes and heading in. There was a glorious choir in the entrance and I stood for a while listening to them sing. I’ve been coming to this Christmas fair for years and always loved the atmosphere and wondering around. It happened to be the Eleventh day of the Eleventh month and now the tannoy was announcing the approach of the Eleventh hour…we stood in silence remembering those who had died in the war – it was Armistice Day. I looked down at my coat – at least I was wearing my poppy…. 😔 some people were oblivious of the silence around them and laughed, chatted as usual until they heard people SSSShhhhhhh. …..and stood shame faced in respect when they realised.

After the minutes silence it was as though nothing had happened and everyone went on with their festive jollities. I took the escalator up to the first floor, one of many crammed with stalls..I was faced by so many people, narrow isles, so much noise. I tried to ignore it and spotted a pet stall and bought Merlin a couple of presents. Then I moved on, the crowds seemingly getting bigger, the noise louder. I found the stairs to another floor, hoping it would be less busy, but as soon as the door opened, it started over again. I saw a window and went to press my forehead against the cool glass, trying to calm my head and my racing heart. As I turned back to face the crowds, I could see no other windows, no outside world – I had to get out….I saw another set of stairs leading downwards to another hall. I went down on automatic, trying not to be distracted, one step at a time. Another hall, another door and by now I was finding it hard to breathe. I simply needed to be outside. Then I saw an exit sign, flashing green. My heart calmed as I followed its direction. I was outside and the fresh air hit me like a comfort blanket, wrapping itself around me, protecting me, telling me it was ok, I’m outside now.

I looked at my watch. I’d only been in their 30 minutes 😳 I use to spend a whole morning ambling round, soaking up the Christmas atmosphere. But not today. I realised today was the last time I’d attend an indoor Christmas fair. It saddened me for a moment….another last…but then I thought of the outside one in Keswick that I’d planned to attend in December and all seemed happy once more.

A bus came soon after I reached the bus stop. I wasn’t quite sure where it was heading but I knew they all stopped at the train station. So I sat, very hot but relieved. 

As I wandered through the city to the other side for my bus home, I felt glad to be outside in the open space, breathing in the fresh air once more…..just one last photo as I crossed the bridge I’ve crossed hundreds of time 

I was thankful I’d made it back here but was sooo glad I was heading home to my lovely quiet village…..another lesson learnt….

How I deal with confusion…….

The other morning, I woke knowing dementia had the upper hand, but I’d already decided to go to Leeds to do a bit of Christmas shopping, hoping I’d miss the crowds….🤔 Luckily, I’d set a reminder telling me what time to leave and had packed my bag ready with my tickets and all I needed, so thought I’d risk the walk into town and hope dementia would get diluted in the fresh air….🙄

There was just a mere hint of a tint in the sky as I left quite early, wanting to get the first cheap train, the Main Street peaceful, yet to awake…

I’d taken my smaller, lighter camera as my big one would be too heavy to have around my neck for so long. But it does it’s job. Reaching the traffic lights, the sky was opening up

The road alongside me was busy with the morning traffic and I appeared to be taking more photos than normal….this mahonia looking striking as it always does this time of year….a rare winter flowering shrub

The couple of sheep, always in the front field of late were up near the fence, so I crossed over, their unusual markings always catch my attention….I always think of a mini friesan cow with horns when I spy them 😂

I stopped once more and zoomed into the Mill through the field and hedgerows

……before checking my watch 😳�….checking my tickets for the time of the train and realising I needed to get a wobble on or I’d miss it …🙄

This was the result of getting distracted and taking photos – the reason I don’t usually take it out into town, but today, for some reason I needed it’s security, its familiarity……

I slid it under my coat so I wouldn’t be tempted and wobbled the mile or so left to go.

I was sooon sat on the train, a very full train, making me feel uneasy ….I took my camera out from under my coat….click

The photo looked foggy…😳�….yet I glanced out of the window and could see clear outside 😵‍💫�….I looked at the lens and it had mistiness on it from being under my coat 🤣

As we passed by the Humber, the sun was shining down it’s sparkle on the water

I could feel dementia starting to coffuddle me again….I needed something to focus on, to take my mind off the confusion taking over my head…..I began to click randomly, this one of the sky with dramatic clouds

Then a church, but where was I?

Then a very random photo just to take a photo of something

…..can you guess what it is? Took me a while to work out when I was looking through them afterwards….

Then I heard the tannoy announce we were approaching Selby….the next stop would be Leeds….

I carried on in this vain for the next half an hour…….

 …..before we pulled in Leeds Station……I stood a while and let the crowds board the escalator, then when it was empty, stepped onto it, unheeded by the crowds….I told myself once I found the shops I was looking for I’d be fine as I’d have to concentrate on the job in hand…I could feel the safety of my camera sat snugly underneath my coat, every now and then, I take it out and snap…

Then the arcade I hate, because the flooring is shiny with swirly black and grey patterns. I always feel like I’m wading through waves of water in here and have to look up to the ceiling to get to the store at the very end…John Lewis…the Christmas decs were everywhere, again distracting my attention from my fuzzy head and the shiny floor….snap

Finished in John Lewis and I head out once more to wade through the stormy ocean 🙈�….eyes to the ceiling….and am relieved to get out of the doors, to be faced by an enormous reindeer 

I look at my watch, decide I’ve really had enough long before I’d planned and searched my train app for help of times of trains….an earlier one due in 30 minutes….so a steady amble through this city, where I once worked, in and out of arcades….love this one as they always have this decoration for children to have their photo taken…….and people living with dementia, courtesy of a couple who were stood close by 🤣

I can tell I’m not my with it….my smile looking tired and not quite there……finally reached the station, feeling like I’d only just arrived….in fact I had only arrived an hour earlier but dementia was dragging me back home. 

Once again, on the journey back, I found myself randomly clicking..

Clutching my camera for comfort, peering out of the window watching the world go by at speed….until we reached the Humber once more…the sparkle still in evidence

I didn’t have long to wait in Hull before my final train home. It’s very satisfying sat on this last train, knowing it’s only 13 minutes before I reach the station and knowing my taxi will be waiting for me….

You see my camera is my way of coping with confusion, with dementia taking the lead and dragging me around. My camera usually goes everywhere with me just for that reason….The distraction of looking at something in detail allowing me to break free from its jangling chains, just for that split second … must have been a bad journey in my head because once I got home and loaded my photos, I had hundreds of random shots, similar shots, and many blurry shots…but at least it enabled me to go do two shops worth of Christmas shopping…….

Getting back into routine……

I wrote this the day after returning home after my chaotic fortnight of travelling to the Isle of Lewis, Salisbury and my paradise of Keswick……

I’d arrived back exhausted, but glad to be home. I spent the first hour looking around my house and getting reacquainted as it can be so difficult travelling between different properties and hotel rooms, then back home. You wouldn’t think your own home could become unfamiliar, but believe me, it can…🙄

The lovely places I’d been weren’t my normal sunrise scene so the following morning, I headed out early to try and find my routine once more…

I had to look at the weather app for the time of sunrise as I was still discombobulated after the clocks had changed. Turned out to be 07.05. 

As I stepped outside I was strangely comforted by the feel and smell of the air. Cool and fresh and smelt like home…The village shop was still in darkness…a while to go before villagers would be heading for their morning papers…

On the corner by the traffic lights, the sky above and around the pylons was glowing orange

I could tell it would be a wonderful sunrise…as I reached the first houses at the very end of the village, the silhouettes of their chimney pots looked perfectly formed in the early morning pinky light

Come along here in daylight and you’d easily miss them, but in the dawn light they stood out…

I headed for the black mill in the distance, the sky away from the forthcoming rising sun, a ripple of pink clouds..

Now facing the east, the Mill stood out large and simply silhouetted, just like the chimney pots…

I then started to question myself as to the whereabouts the sun would rise 😳�….I’d not been for a few weeks so it may not be conveniently between the trees any more 🤔�…I walked over to the two trees nearby and scanned the trees for a sign…

Suddenly out of nowhere and taking me by surprise, there it was

…but I knew I wouldn’t get a good view from the Mill and needed to be by the path below…sure enough, it started to be hidden behind the trees

I wobbled as fast as my legs could take me through the meadow grass, watching the scenes before me all the time. The sun beat me to it…by the time I’d got to a clearing, it had risen, but what a site this golden globe made…

A bird flew across the scene, once again, it’s one dimensional image looking perfect against the sunrise sky

I walked back along the mowed grass path this, heading back to the road, the sun lighting up the field beyond

…everything glowed orange and the trees could have been cut intricately out of black paper and laid across a piece of orange paper to create the scene before me

Almost back at the golf course drive and my cue to cross the road, someone walked across the painting before me adding to the already beautiful scene…

I often wonder if people recognise themselves in silhouette…..or keep their anonymity in tact….?

The sun now almost too bright to photograph as the light was becoming brighter, but just time for one last one

Then I was heading along the drive to take a snap of the Minster, an autumnal feel to the trees in the foreground

My favourite trees close by, providing a frame and just enough cover of the sun for a photo to be taken

Heading back home, I reach the houses, look back at the Mill, now a totally different image in the daylight. The mystery of its silhouette revealed….I much prefer the simpler uncomplicated image that the early morning light provides…

Almost back to the pond and the sky now takes on a totally different colour and light, the clouds providing the spectacle now

As I reached the pond, the silhouettes of the soldiers for Rememberance Day provided the solemn, poignant scene

Wherever these are placed each year, they always look so moving; each with a name attached of a villager who died in the World War…and the solitary white silhouette of the unknown soldier who’s story was later revealed by a village historian

I never knew the detail of the poppies that we wear each November until I saw this…..I’m not sure if you have Remembrance Day in other countries on the 11th day of the 11th month at the eleventh hour….🤔 it’s a tradition I love and was always so moved, even as a child at my parents shedding their tears on that day in remembrance of friends lost in the war….

Steve must have already given the ducks as most of them were having a post breakfast snooze

The children were heading to school, village folk ambling for their morning papers, chatting as they met and the pond looked as wonderfully comforting as ever

Yup….I’m back in my routine… I headed home for my morning cuppa…

Doing so little yet it feels so much….

I wrote this blog a several weeks ago, but only just got round to publishing it 🙄

Something occurred to me the other weekend.Something I already really knew, but that day it came at me into full undiluted view.

I’ve spoken often about the kindness that radiates in our village. We were due to have our September village party, but due to the Queens death it was cancelled. It was here last year where I sold many calendars with the help of my friend Pip. The committee had given me a table from which to sell them and they went down a storm. As soon as I heard it was cancelled, my heart sank rather selfishly. I suddenly began to panic about how I was going to sell all my calendars this year 🙈. My living room is stacked with boxes of them 🥴

No sooner had the notice gone up, that I had offers of help in selling them. Two were still going to take place that particular Saturday. I was raising money for others after all, so I’m sure the Queen wouldn’t have minded. The first was to be at 10 am in the morning. Jane who owns The Ginery lives opposite the pond and is ideally situated for passing trade; the second was Kirsty, who also does a lot to raise money for the village, and was selling tickets for a music dance night in the village hall. She asked the new owner of one of pubs if we could have a table for a couple of hours in the afternoon; me to sell my calendars, Kirsty to sell her tickets. They agreed without any hesitation.

Both events had been advertised on our faithful village Facebook page. Kirsty having put a collage together for our afternoon in the café

And I’d put something similar for the morning…

The village shop had also message me to say the new owners had agreed to sell my calendars, so I took a few there when I went to post some others

The staff posted a picture on Facebook for to to tell everyone ☺️…

So Saturday morning I headed down to Jane’s.She’d set out a table at the front of her drive. She’d been to collect a box of calendars from me a couple of days before thank goodness as a box of 4 is far too heavy for anyone to carry down 🙄 it was chilly, but Jane had parked the car behind the table acting as a windbreak, and with the door open in case I got really cold. That’s another new thing this year, I feel the cold so much even when others are without coats! Anyway, we set some calendars out on the table and in a matter of minutes people were walking by and buying one or often two.

People told me some wonderful stories that day and I wanted to remember each and everyone of them. So I tapped some notes into my phone while Jane was making me a cuppa. 

Jane told me how her family came to settle here generations ago. The house name was from Norfolk and that’s where her great great grandfather own family were from. Her great great grandfather was born into a large family. Back then it was possible and acceptable to sell your children into the hands of the army. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense as the child would be looked after, given a bed, fed and watered and taught a trade. He would most likely die in war, but that’s not what happened to him. He was sold as a child of 10 and brought up through the army then once his service was done and having nowhere to go, his captain knew the vicar of our village and so he was employed as the groundsman for the church and the vicarage and generations lived and stayed here.what a wonderful story 😳

 Another man stopped his car to buy 2 calendars and apparently he was moving into the village in the near future and loved my photos. Another in the afternoon told me she was writing a book, and told me about her amazing life, sadly I forgot to write any notes for that one as my batteries were almost finished at that stage.

By the end of my 90 minutes with Jane we’d sold a box of 40 calendars 😳….I was amazed and so pleased and grateful to everyone

But in two short spells, one in the morning, home for lunch, then one in the afternoon, I met and chatted to loads of people….no physical activity, I was after all sat down for most of it, but enough mental engagement to wipe me out.

Me and Kirsty were sat in the café in the afternoon and she was saying all she’d done that day and someone who came to buy a calendar also reeled off her busy day. Suddenly I felt an overwhelming sadness. I was that person once, who never stopped, going here there and everywhere in a day, doing this that and everything else and still time in the evening to do the housework. Yes, I was that person once, but am no more.

I was totally spent, my batteries on zero after selling my calendars. So much so, when I got home and tried counting the money, I couldn’t, it made no sense…..5. 10 15, 35, or was that 25, so having to start again each time. Maths was my favourite subject at school. I’ve always been good with figures. But nowadays they cause me confusion, get muddled and make no sense, especially if my brain is on the way out for the day. So I simply put it in an envelope to count another day. 

So what was my major discovery today? The simple fact that I don’t need to travel and meet people to feel wiped out. I was in the comfort of my own village. But my senses and brain were stretched to snapping point; meeting all the lovely people, engaging in so many conversations, trying to remember names. In fact everything that goes with normal socialising; something which is soooo important to keep in their lives for people with dementia. Yes it was wonderful to meet so many kind and generous people, but boy oh boy, was it exhausting. It was beyond exhausting. 

Yes I’d been out at 05.30 for my sunrise walk but I don’t count my trundling. My trundling tires my body not my brain. It doesn’t tax my brain at all, especially when I trundle alone. No one to listen to, no words to catch and make sense of before responding. Trundling is relaxing. It’s probably why I love it so much.

Should I give it all up? Absolutely not. It really was a wonderful day. But it simply shocked me how exhausting socialising has become. It’s often been exhausting, but this was a whole new level. A step down in dementia terms. Once I got back home just after three, and after abandoning the money count, I just lay on my bed in silence, my hug in a mug next to me, and closed my eyes…I wouldn’t give any of it up though….I’ve always said, I’d rather die of exhaustion than dementia…☺️

P.s…it seems so long since this all happened 😳, so long in fact, I’m now down to the last box. So thank you to all those kind enough to buy one, but if anyone else would still like one, please email me . They are £10 each or 2 for £15.😊

The travelling continues…this time to Salisbury…

I’ve done so much this week, I’m afraid Friday poem day will have to wait until next week…..

As I sat in the airport at Stornaway on the Isle of Lewis, waiting for my flight back to Edinburgh, having had goodbye hugs galore with Philly…..I tried to check the logistics for getting to my next destination as the following morning I’m heading to Salisbury for an evening talk, then Wednesday morning meeting a local dementia group. I needed ALL my transport to behave today and for the following 2 days.

At least it started off well, with signs saying the flight was on time …….well it was almost on time…just 20 minutes late setting off….with a lovely flight, and as we came into land, the autumn colours below were beautiful 🥰

….however, when we arrived at Edinburgh airport there was a shortage of ground staff and we had to wait half an hour 🙄….then…..I followed the first couple off the plane not realising they were going for a connecting flight and got totally lost 🙈….meaning I missed my train….but no problem, there was another at 3……wrong… that one was now delayed 😵‍💫

Once I was finally on A train, I had to work out connections and where best to get off, York or Doncaster…trying to txt Philly and my daughters became impossible as my phone keyboard suddenly decided to act very weirdly and wouldn’t type the words I wanted 😵‍💫 at least the weather and view was nice

I tried not to think of the early start the following day and still having to get ready for that when I eventually got home 🫣 One step at a time 😵‍💫 At least I was in a better situation that the woman across from me….she’d just  had a op to repair a broken leg, with no plaster cast as it would be too inconvenient for all her travelling 😳😳

I finally got home around 9 as the last train was also delayed, but my lovely taxi people sorted me out a cab as soon as I got back 😍

Moral of this tale is NEVER TRAVEL WITH ME !🤣

I had a list of things to do when I did get home, so without thinking how tired I was, I unpacked one suitcase, put a wash on ready for Fridays Keswick, transferred toiletries from one suitcase into one I’d already packed for Salisbury before leaving 😇…and….collapsed into bed 😂

The following morning, it felt like my travels the day before were a world away. It’s a while since I’ve travelled with a suitcase of books, probably pre covid!  I could tell there was going to be a beautiful sunrise on my journey…..I wasn’t disappointed

I was on Hull trains, my favourite train company as the staff are ALWAYS wonderful and always the same. The minute the train arrived, the female yard jumped off and helped me with my suitcase……sunflower lanyard works every time…but even if I didn’t have one, they’d be just as kind…😍

The Humber was sparkling in the early morning sunlight..

Jane Ebel had asked me to visit Salisbury and then Alzheimers support, the commissioned service in Wiltsahire asked if they could organise a larger evening event. Amazingly it sold out well before I was due there. I lived in Wiltshire for a while in my previous life, so I’m sure I must have visited Salisbury before 🤔. I was there to give a talk and read a couple of excerpts from my books….I’d also taken a handful of calendars just in case…..🤞

I had to travel across London to Waterloo but my trusty tube app told me how to get there..😇 In fact my whole journey could not have been any more different than yesterday as everything ran to time 😳😳😂

The lovely Jan was there to meet me and we ambled through a lovely warm Salisbury to Sarum College, where I was staying, right opposite the cathedral 😍 ……amazingly Philly, who I was with only yesterday in the Outer of Hebrides, grew up in the house next door to where i was staying 😳😳 such a small world

After a cuppa and sort out, I headed out into the fresh air. Jan was picking me up at 6 so lots of time to have a wander.

It was so pleasant I didn’t even wear a coat😳……I went across the road to the wonderful cathedral….a silhouette in the afternoon sun…

Through a doorway and it opened out into a glorious courtyard, looking even more delightful in the sunshine…..

Such simple yet grand architecture

I bought something to eat in the café as I’d be at the event for my usual meal time……then back outside and headed straight, all the while taking photos of landmarks to look out for if I got lost or got tempted to veer off piste.

I did go off piste once when I saw the sign for the river….I’d forgotten there was a river running through the city….

But soon I realised I just needed to rest before the evening. I snuggled and relaxed for an hour or two and at 6pm Jane knocked on my door right on cue as planned.

Jane kindly dragged my suitcase full of books round the corner to the venue. We were met by lovely smiley people from Alzheimer’s Support. They were getting the room ready. A local solicitors had provided the venue hall for us and the chairs were all empty awaiting the arrival of the audience.

I felt a tad overwhelmed by all the people and went and sat quietly in the hall getting myself sorted and relaxed. Once people began to arrive I mingled and said hello and some people came over saying how they’d read my blog/books and one person even used to live in my lovely village 😍Then a familiar face appeared out of nowhere…Veronica.

Me and Veronica along with her always dapper husband Christopher, a lovely playmate of mine, but now in the later stages, first met when we were invited to the premier of Still Alice in Mayfair, London, many years ago. It was there we met and chatted to Hollywood actress Julianne Moore, who played the part of Alice. Veronica and Christopher have always been special to me as they were so kind then and ever since. We hugged each other tight and I was so thrilled she’d gone to all the trouble of travelling to the event. I’d been looking at photos on the journey to make sure I recognised her and I did.😍

People started to make their way into the hall. I spoke for around an hour, reading a couple of passages from my books and chatting about this that and everything. The audience were so kind at the end. Many people bought my books and calendars and simply chatted with me about their own circumstances, each one with their own stories to tell. One woman was from Canada, follows my blog, just so happened to be in Salisbury and couldn’t believe it when she saw the poster saying I was there

I was absolutely exhausted, but so many hugs and kind words kept me going. 

As people finally disappeared and the room became quieter once more, I suddenly remembered I didn’t have a piccie of Jane, who invited me in the first place, and the wonderful people from Alzheimers Support, who sorted out the selling of the tickets

Hope is the one word we never hear at diagnosis. It’s people like these who bring hope back into peoples lives but they continually have to fight for funding….very sad, but so much these days revolves around money 🙄

This is the first face to face event I’ve done for a while and I’d forgotten how much I love them. Those small conversations with people, acquaintances made, troubles shared. None of that exists online. Let’s hope more face to face events happen soon…..

p.s The following morning, my travelling home day, I woke feeling a tad 😵‍💫 as i knew i would. Jane came with her colleagues to have a cuppa with me in the college before the start of their Memory Group. I’d said I’d meet the group before heading home after lunch. Luckily it was raining when i woke so no early morning walk and anyway, I’d got lost trying to find my way out of the building the day before and had to ask someone 🤣….

The group were meeting around 10…..and in came so many lovely people, it was such a thrill to meet them all. The care partners and people with dementia were all together for this special gathering, so once everyone was settled, I went round the room asking each in turn their name and what they did or used to do for a living. The response was as amazing as I expected.. Everyone has a story and these people were no exception. We had everything from a farmer in New Zealand to officers in the army, teachers and so much more.

One woman had Picks disease, a rare type of dementia, which for her family, sadly was hereditary 😔 She was so glad I mentioned different types as she often feels the odd one out. She mentioned research which gave me my chance to promote Join Dementia Research and Dementia Enquirers I hope 🤔

I told them about the DEEP Network and the benefits and anything else they asked me. It was truly wonderful meeting another group, just as it always is.

It felt like minutes instead of a couple of hours before it was all over… people left everyone was on a high with smiles and hugs from all. We stepped outside into the fresh air and I was totally whacked ….my batteries were on 1%….but I wouldn’t have missed a minute of any of my stay….The sun was shining once more, I looked up at the cathedral for the final time and bade it a silent farewell

My final day on the Isle of Lewis……..

I woke, was expecting my legs to be stiff, but amazingly they weren’t 😳, showered, made a cuppa and while I was snug drinking it, Philly appeared from her room saying we needed to be outside as the sky was lighting up even though it was an hour before sunrise….

This time we drove to the end of the road and as the sky lightened a touch we began to see the mountains on the Mainland

Philly said they it was rarely clear enough to see them but today we were blessed

The rolling clouds above and the mountains below made for a wonderful view…

As we arrived back a lone ram was watching me from the top of the mound

We were pottering around and suddenly Philly saw the sun from her back window. This time I headed out alone while Philly had a shower and got ready for the day.

If I just walked straight, I could turn and find my way back again…the sky all along was alight, the higgledy piggery fence providing the perfect foreground

I was heading towards the corner where I knew I’d have a stunning view….I wasn’t mistaken

The mountains now in perfect silhouette with a shimmer of gold

I carried on walking to the next corner as the colours enticed me to keep going when I should have really, turned around 🙄

The sky was alight, the mountains so clear and I couldn’t stop clicking

I decided I must turn around and head back as we were going to see the seals 😍

We drove up to Phillys swimming bay and then walked along the boggy coastline as there’d been torrential rain overnight. But the actual day was truly gorgeous. We were truly blessed with blue sky and sunshine. 

Once we arrived at the seal bay we started to call their name. All seals to us are called Sammy 🤣…as that’s what we christened our first seal some years ago….so we called out to the deserted water and within minutes they started to bob their heads out of the water

…and come and see what we were up to. Two came up together nudging one another

There were shags on the cliff tops as well

One by one they bobbed to the surface then dived back under

As soon as we stopped singing, they’d disappear only to reappear as soon as we started up once more….

The sunlight kept coming and going, the sea sparkling a path towards us

We could have stayed there all day. We counted about a dozen altogether 😍

On the way back we had to cross a muddy stream in a dip across the field….it had been hilarious crossing it going there but I’d managed it, no problem…..however……🙄….not quite as straight forward going back and I ended up in a heap in the mud and water 😂….it was sooo funny. I squelched my way back to the bay🤣, my shoes filled with mud and water. I also thought my coat must be covered as well, but thankfully there was only a small patch 😂 how I really don’t know  as I’d fallen splat on my bum🥴

Another selfie at the lighthouse.

…..and the incredible colourful rock that look like profiles of three faces if you look closely…

We headed back home for me to change and decided to have an early lunch….

Luckily the sun had some unexpected warmth to it and my coat and shoes were rested on the bench outside to dry – luckily I’d brought spares 😂

It was wall to wall sunshine after lunch and we even went out on the tricycle without coats 😳….unheard of in the Outer Hebrides at this time of year…we appeared to have swapped weather with the mainland as I heard of storms and torrential rain there 😂

We went out on our bike to the bird hide and nature reserve. There was lots of activity on the water and the surrounding marsh…Lapwings were in abundance

….and we watched the heron for ages prowling around for lunch….

A few lovely people joined us. They’d just seen the curlews in the approaching field. We’d heard them but not seen them….after a while it was time to head down to the beach, so back on our bike again. We suddenly saw curlews in the field at the side of the road, so I hopped off our bike and snapped 

Once at the car park, we headed through the sand dunes to the beach. Someone had built a pile of rocks just for me to take a photo…☺️

For such a sunny day it was very quiet. The sea spray creating a mist in the sunshine…

….but there were a few surfers. I must have snapped hundreds of photos but in the end saved just  one 😂

Our final stop on our trike was another cliff walk…..we could see the bay we’d just left

We didn’t see any whales or dolphins, which are a common site in this part of the world, but the unusual warm sunshine made up for anything like that…..

On our way back home, one last siting. We’d seen many of them flying about and grazing in the field but not close enough to snap…..until we were almost home. Philly brought us to a screeching halt on the bike and there was one perfect for snapping

A Redwing…

They’re only here this time of year and only for a very short span of time so, once again, I was truly blessed

So my last day on this amazing island had almost come to an end. If I had to choose a favourite moment…it has to be calling out to Sammy the seals….

The name Ron has more significance than you might first think as it’s the Gaelic name for seal….😍

On a tricycle made for two…….

I’d had my usual lack of sleep as always happens when I’m away from home, but it had been so peaceful, so relaxing, that it didn’t matter. I finally decided to get up around 06.30 in the hope I wouldn’t wake Philly; crept downstairs following the signs Philly had put on doors for me. I had my shower, made a cuppa, then crept back upstairs again to tap away on here.

As I was going down for a refill, Philly came out of her room and said to look at the sky….as we looked I decided I needed to be outside, then Philly decided to come too….it was in effect, my usual sunrise walk. The sky was so clear and, surprisingly, the wind so calm. The air smelt so clean and fresh and my favourite rock-a-bye baby moon had stayed up to see us….

We were going round in a full circle along the cliff edge. We met one of Phillys friends just coming out to walk her dog and she kept us company for a while. Me all the while snapping away…the house roofs creating lovely silhouettes 

As we reached the bay, the sun had climbed out of the clouds

What beautiful light and reflections

….and the sun dancing around lighting up the bay and Phillys face

What a start to the morning, unexpected and certainly a Bruce bonus…..and as we climbed over the gate, back onto the road we saw birds flitting about the shrubs and bless me, the last thing I expected to see this far north was my favourite feathered friend

The perfect ending and not even 9am……😳

After breakfast it was time to pick up our tricycle…🙌……on the way we met 3 of Phillys friends who were out walking and would you believe, one always reads my blog 😳 As we approached the sports centre we saw our bike standing outside. It was much bigger than we expected 😳 luckily for me, all the controls and steering were on Philly’s side 🤣….but we were sure to make sure my pedallling counted and it wasn’t all Phillys strength needed 😂 After instructions we had a trial ride round the car park and were well happy.

It was much harder than we expected; less powerful as we realised it was forerunner to e-bikes. It was great fun as we cycled up the hill to the lighthouse, people in cars stopping to allows us to pass without stopping 🤣and madly waving at us, either in sympathy or hilarity 😂

We had to stop to take a snap of these amazing horns….

Once at the lighthouse, we ‘parked’ up  🥴 giving one car full of people much to laugh about 🤣

The wind had started to blow a hooley. It was so difficult to hold the camera steady to photograph the birds on the cliffs

Our next stop was Phillys swimming beach. A gorgeous bay, looking a tad windswept today with sea weed being washed up on the shoreline

We attempted to walk along the cliffs where the seals usually congregate but my energy levels suddenly dropped – as they have been since Covid 🙈…as soon as I climb a slope of any sort I struggle…very frustrating 😔…so it meant we climbed back on our bike and headed to the final destination, Europa beach. Another stunner. We were taken aback by how many people there were – over half a dozen 🤣. Surfers were out having a go on the water

The waves were very dramatic, the wind blowing the spray….such a clean sea!

Our bodies were telling us it was lunch time, so we saddled up and used our last bit of energy and also the bike’s last bit of energy as it was struggling to get us up hills so we were glad to get home…..

After a lovely soup and sit down and before our bodies seized up we headed back out on our bike for our last outing of the day….

Neither of us had much energy left but we cycled along to the next village but decided against the hill down to the beach as what goes down must come up again and it looked a tad too steep for this time in the day, so we just rode to the end of the road where it turns into gravel, turned round, but then decided to ride to the Harbour as the café would still be open. We were against the wind the whole way there but laughed so much as both us and the bike struggled with the hills 🤣

We rewarded ourselves with a hot chocolate and all the works

……before finally setting off back home before darkness came and all we’d have would be the light on my stick to lead the way 🤣

My helmet at a jaunty angle 🤣

To finish off the evening Philly got a red alert on her phone for the possibility of seeing the Northern Lights 😳😍… we may find ourselves getting up again once we’ve retired as local people will post if they’re in view here 🤞🤞

p.s……Considering the last time I rode a bike, I fell off it and it was nearly 8 years ago….if my legs don’t ache in the morning I’ll be mega surprised 🤣