Category Archives: Communities

Facebook live event……

If you’re on Facebook, you may like to join and watch this event. Dementia Carers Count asked if I’d do a live event via Facebook… I must admit, I havn’t a scooby doo how this will work as I’ll be on zoom, but Rob, the techs man assures me it’ll be fine 🤣

I’l be talking for around 45 minutes and you can type in questions to ask me…apparently!

Here’s the link Rob sent me to promote the event

And here’s a piccie of the detail. So it’s on Friday 24th March at 12.30…

Hope some of you can make it….and don’t forget the cuppa! ☺️

A couple of live events -Dementia Carers Count and in Essex…

Just thought I’d let you all know about a couple of live events coming up in March….they seemed to have crept up on me very quickly as they were booked a while ago and now they’re almost here!

The first is a Facebook live event for Dementia Carers Count. 

I’ve never done a live Facebok event before so not sure how it works but here’s the link should you wish and have the time to spare to join. Of course you need to be on Facebook! 😂

For those who are unable to watch the event live the video will remain on their Facebook page, and it will also be available on their YouTube channel a day or two later.

It will be showing a live interview between me and Occupational Therapist Kate Legg on Friday 24th March at 12.30 and will last around half an hour..

Here’s the link to their Facebook page which advertises the event..

The second event is an evening event in Billericay in Essex. I’ll be talking to the schoolchildren in the morning and afternoon, but the evening event is open to anyone. This is on Wednesday 22nd March at 18.30 – 19.30 at Emmanuel Church, Landon Road, Billericay.

I’ll be doing a 45 minute talk followed by an opportunity to ask me questions.

Update on calendar sales……

I realised the other day, as I was transferring £1000 into the Minds and Voices account, that I hadn’t updated you on my calendar sales…🙄 so here goes….

Thanks to a generous donation from my village printer, Chris, I smashed last years profit and made a staggering £2450!! 🙌

A HUGE thank you to everyone who bought one, or sometimes multiple copies. Thanks also to Margaret in America for being my agent there 🤣 making sure those in America who wanted one also were able. I hope everyone is enjoying their January Photo….

It was however my last year. I found it very difficult to coordinate everything and did get some things completely wrong…..some people getting two, others not receiving theirs 🙄….but hopefully I put all those mistakes right.

So where’s all the money going? Well, at the beginning, I did say I’d split it between Minds and Voices and various village groups. Minds and Voices was easy and they received £1000 to help keep us going in the New Year. 

But the choice of where and what to give to individual groups in the village is always a difficult one…I looked back at last years blog to see where it went back then and that helped me to choose new and old…

Once again my beloved duck pond will receive £250. I hope we can purchase some new ducks with it, especially a female tufted as we sadly lost the female in the extreme cold we had recently. We also lost 3 of the 4 Pochards at the same time, so we have two lonely ducks left, both male. Maybe a male and female mandarin, but that might be too much to hope for! I’ll leave the final decision up to Steve, and his wonderful duck pond committee.

I enjoyed doing the Christmas pebbles for the pre school children this year, so to them I gave £500 to spend as they think fit

The playing fields also bring me much pleasure – it’s a great viewing point for the sunrise in the morning and my friends from the village cricket team have become a summer staple for me and my camera. 

The village children’s play ground is also there and all of these things need upkeep, so £500 to the playing fields committee as I know they have big plans for that area. It’s not much in the grand scheme of things but every penny helps.

So that leaves me with £200…..🤔 I could have split it into small amounts and give to a few, but this year I decided on giving it to the Foodbank.

A couple nearby always have a collection box for donations outside their house and deliver it to the food bank whenever its full of donated food and toiletries. Sadly in this current climate you don’t have to necessarily be out of work to be in need of help from a food bank so that felt like a worthy cause this year….

Christmas Carols around the pond……

It’s been quite a festive week in the village. Last week I took some Christmas pebbles I made to our village pre-school; one for each child and put their name on the back.

The staff then had a treasure hunt in the wood for the children to find their own 🥰 🎄I’d had such a good time making them that I got a tad carried away and had some left over 😂�…so on the reverse of those, I wrote, Merry Christmas’

…and hid them around the village on Friday evening for the children to find the next day; just dropping a the odd one on my walk around and leaving some outside particular houses that I knew would like them

I’d also been to the church in town to see the Angels…

They looked so amazing hanging from the rafters

And so it came to last Saturday. It was the first of two ‘Carols around the pond’. It was at 7pm, so clashed with the TV final of Strickly Come Dancing….so for those fans there’d be another on the following Tuesday.

It was the end of the white world weather which I’d enjoyed so much. I think my favourite photo from those few days had to be of the pond looking Christmas card perfect

The night before, when I was out hiding the pebbles, I snapped away at our festive village.


….dorways, lit brightly for Christmas

My camera really doesn’t do them justice….

Each year the pond is lit up and Santa always sits on one island

…and the snowman at the back 

…and Merry Christmas right in the middle…

But on Saturday, even though the morning was cold and the wind was raw, you could sense a change on the way and rain was forecast for later in the morning. I went to town early so I could avoid the rain and still walk…and had such a surprise when I reached the traffic lights leading out of the village…..the sun was rising!

I didn’t have my camera with me as rain had been forecast, but it was so stunning, my phone having no problem capturing the beautiful sky

It kept appearing at each break in the hedge…such a picture, I just had to keep stopping

Sarah just happened to be in town at the same time, so the bonus was a Saturday hug and a lift home…..

The early evening arrived…sadly the rain hadn’t stopped, but I decided to set off a little earlier to see the village in the dark – a rare occurrence for me…it has a different sort of magic at night…the Manor House Clock tower much clearer than in daytime

It felt a sad Christmas as I trundled around….nowhere near as many lights; people now having to this of electricity costs in this time of recession, but some had managed their own wonderland, if not scaled down maybe this year

As I reached the pond the barrel organ was in full song. It has been coming to the village, each Christmas for decades, and the only time missed was the last two years due to Covid. But this year it was back in all it’s original splendour

Its’ ancient workings, so lovingly cared for, on display once more

The wonderful pond committee organise this event. It’s the only fund raising they do each year in order to raise funds for our pond – the seed that feeds the ducks each morning, the maintenance and the lovely trees that surround it. Someone donated 2000 daffodils which will look stunning in the spring. So I added my coins to the collection bucket in exchange for my song sheet

As the villagers gathered, the Reverend Tim led the singing. In between songs he told the Christmas story, with a twist….the gathered crowd had to cheer every time they heard a chocolate bar in the story 😂….it was actually very funny and made people listen…

“They followed the SMARTIES who knew the way to the stable…” ….that sort of thing….

The rain kept falling, but failing to dampen people’s spirits as the barrel organ played the tune and we sang the carols….such a wonderful atmosphere …Pip, my fungi pal, suddenly joined me and we sang together…

At the end, the children rushed to the front of the lane where the Big Man himself would appear. The excitement grew, then suddenly a flash of light revealed his familiar waving figure walking down the otherwise dark lane

Amidst gasps from children and adults alike, he came down to hand out the annual sweets…..and that was my cue to leave the festivities.

Still humming the carols as I trundled home, I realised, not for the first time, how lucky I was to live in this beautiful village community…..

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…..

Village Firework day……

It was such a dank misty morning but I was awake and felt the need to be outside. I’d had my flu jab and Covid update jab the day before, so both arms ached 🙄�…

The night before was the 5th November so Firework Night…I’d watched local ones from my window, then saw the moon shining brightly in the sky

Tonight it would be the turn of the village fireworks, always a popular event. I let’s had sold out weeks ago and many more were hoping to turn up on the day and still be able to pay on the gate,  but Matt and his army of volunteers had warned people that they may be turned away as the numbers allowed on the playing field had to be limited for safety reasons.

The playing field committee had given me a honorary free ticket because of the photos I show daily 😍☺️……but all that didn’t start until 4pm so first a morning walk…

Due to the mist I decided to start at the pond.

It always looks magical in the mist….and even more so with the silhouettes placed there this year….they take on a extra solemn note of sadness and respect

…especially with the rain drops acting as tears…😔

Afterwards I retraced my steps back towards the church…still early, the autumn leaves giving a brightness to the dank day

I turned right so instead of heading through the gallops, went to see Wally and his friends in their field

A fresh new bale of hay, much more appealing than coming to say hello to me 🤣

Heading along Risby lane, a couple stopped, coming towards me and asked  if I’d just seen the three deer race across the field 😳�….sadly I hadn’t as their arrival first must have frighten them off 🙄

I turned left, the ground wet and often muddy, but not enough to persuade me to abandon my route, 2 riders on horses were heading towards me. I stepped aside to allow them to pass and we chatted as they approached…

Apparently the horses weren’t enthused by their dank ride out this morning so they were heading back to the stables to give them their breakfast….😍

Further along and another rider snuck up behind me, calling out to warn me of his presence. The horse strolled beside me for a while as me and the rider chatted….he told me how horses don’t like going out in the mist as it spooks them; they see shadows and wonder who’s sneaking up to attack them, so riders have to be wary in the mist. That was probably why the other two didn’t think much of their morning outing 🤔 The man rode off ahead of me and I could just hear the radio playing which he’d take for company, or maybe even to relax the horse 🤷‍♀️

I was plannning on turning around and heading back home, but I changed my mind and headed for the full circle taking in Folly Lake. I eventually came out of the fields and onto the road

….and was soon turning right for Folly. Lots of fishermen sat around the lake today at the Folly side…

The lake on the opposite side was much quieter apart from a very noisy duck who was continually quacking, maybe having lost it’s mate or simply fancied being noisy 🤣

One last photo of the reflection of the tall trees…

I headed back up to the road, my legs now starting to feel weary…the sprouts almost ready for harvesting

The last hour of the walk was very tiring and very slow…but at least it had stayed dry and people were started to appear on foot

Finally back in the village, the sheep now back in sight and my last photo of Valley and Teddy nudging each others noses in affection……🥰

As the opening time of 4 o’clock approached the rain started to fall 🙈�….I put a message out on Facebook telling whoever was doing a ran dance to stop immediately 😂 I’d been to feed the ducks earlier and passed by the field to see them setting up their kiddies rides…they’d look wonderful later in the dark with all their bright lights and music playing….

I ventured out around 04.30, still raining but people were beginning to walk through the village heading for the playing fields….as I got there it was sadly quiet

…but I was still hopeful that villages wouldn’t let all the hard work go to waste….gradually minute by minute, more people started to arrive, the rain now beginning to ease

The stall holders looked happier as the rides began to go around

….and stalls began busy

Young children were in awe of the sparklers they were allowed to hold in their tiny hands.

They’d put several pan fires all around the fields for them to be lit, all supervised. The village food bbq stand was doing a roaring trade of hot dogs and burgers, teas and coffees. 

The fireworks were due to go up at 6pm and at 5.30 the rain stopped and the crowds began to arrive. Couples were losing one another in the dark 😂�…some had brought torches and I had my torch on my stick 😇�….at 6pm, the first firework went up 

Then gasps and squeals of delight rung out all around the field…

I clicked and clicked not knowing if any would come out

….and most of them didn’t 🤣�….but it’s not the ones that don’t, it’s the ones that do that matter

A final crescendo at the end and it was all over for another year…..I immediately went to the village facebook page and  congratulated all the volunteers who had given up their time to make it so special as without people volunteering in a village nothing as lovely as this would ever happen…and with that I ambled home, following others in the dark and left the youngsters to carry on enjoying their evening

Flying day……and my first taste of the Island…..

After a very sleep, wake, sleep wake night, I woke up to an email I  didn’t want…

“We regret to advise the departure of flight LM343 on 21 Oct is currently 
delayed. “

At that time it was only an hour, but I always feel so guilty for the person meeting me at the other end, on this occasion Philly, who will be sat waiting 🙄

I’d spent the evening before watching a few episodes of ‘Ralph and Katie’, after being told about it by one of my blog readers. It’s the story of a couple who happen to have Down’s syndrome, and their life, but what’s even more remarkable is the fact the programme often shows my paradise of Keswick and the couples favourite bench, which is my bench too 😍….it’s a gentle funny but telling story and well worth a watch as the two lead characters are such wonderful actors.

I was trying to think where I was going with that line of thought but now I’ve forgotten 🤣…

Anyway….the airport bus is really easy in Edinburgh…I’ve never found out how to use the tram from Edinburgh but always manage to catch it back….just can’t work out the process going 🙄

It was still damp  but at least it was dry and as soon as I reached the airport the sun began to shine – bonus😍…..I had an extra hour to mill around but the planes entertained me for a while

As it turned out I had a lot of extra time to kill as the plane was delayed once, then twice, then a third time. They even had to randomly select 3 passengers who couldn’t fly as they’d overbooked the seats 🫣 Luckily I wasn’t one of them 🥵

We finally took off around 12.50 🙈….the staff were wonderful, one offering to carry my suitcase down the stairs and up to the aeroplane

…..but once I’d been seated, turned out I didn’t have a window 😳 but at least I had a seat, I told myself…so had to crane my neck round to see the outside world..but in the end I gave up and anyway, we were in thick cloud so nothing to see…..or that’s what I told myself 😂

As we finally landed in Stornaway I climbed down the steps and could soon see someone waving madly through the window and from the beaming smile knew it was my friend Philly.

It had felt like such a long day already, yet as soon as I stepped off the plane, I breathed in the calmness and peaceful beauty of this rugged isle ….and suddenly got my second wind of energy from somewhere, as though I’d been plugged in and rapidly charged 🤣

After hugs of welcome we set off to head north to Ness, renowned for it being the most north westerly point of Europe. Instead of taking the quick route we headed into the scenic route, every now and then, Philly stopping for me to take photos. Apparently we visited the same spots we visit each time I’ve been but dementia throws one huge gift at me, as I never remember and can relive that ‘first time’ every time 🤣

The island is renowned for its lochs, both freshwater and sea water…the cloud was heavily grey but every now and then a chink of sunlight would light up the water

We detoured off the road to the islands own Stonehenge which pre dates the English version by many hundreds of years

We spoke in wonder at how they must have managed to drag the stones up here, let alone set them in the ground to stand…

Back in the car and I asked Philly if we could stop if we see any Highland cows and within minutes we screeched to a halt as some appeared round a bend 😂

I don’t know what it is about Highland cows but they are so photogenic …

Further along in the car when we stopped, we met a lovely couple who had sold up and moved into this South African camper van, where they now lived and simply travelled about.

We thought the van was the combination of a caravan having been welded to the front of a VW but no, it was manufactured like this…..and is now their home….

We walked along a stony path at the top of which lay the ruins of an ancient ‘high rise’….a wealthy person would have lived here.

Once again, the question of ‘how could they possibly build this’? Came to our minds once more

The next stop was a wonderful bay. The tide was coming in and we sat on the rocks having a cuppa, watching the waves crash against the shore…just love the sound of the sea….the beach stones each have their own unique pattern called gneiss and are the oldest rock in the world 😳 – 4 billion years old 😳 and here we were sat on them having a cuppa tea 😵‍💫 that WAS just mind boggling….

Cuppa tea over and another short drive before coming to more cows…😂

…..before walking along to see the old restored mill house with it’s unique thatching, unlike ours and instead weighed down by stones hung over from one side of the roof to the other….

…….a stream had been diverted to feed into the mill to power the grinding stone. Philly pointed out this view of the ancient eco power of the mill and in the background, if you look carefully, the modern day eco power of the wind turbine ….

By now we were starting to flag… was hard to believe that by the time we got to Phillys new home, I’d only landed on the island a few hours ago. It felt like I’d been there for days…this ruggedly beautiful island had won me over once more and the business of Edinburgh seemed like a lifetime away……find out what happened on tomorrow’s blog when we hire e-bicycle made for two 🤣….

Do you live near Salisbury..?

Another extra blog today! If you live near and around the lovely area of Salisbury, I’d love to meet you at this evening event there on Tuesday 25th October starting at 6.30pm. I don’t usually do evening events but there must have been a reason why I said yes to this one 🤔

The following day I’ll be meeting the local peer support group, so new playmates to be made ☺️

It’s being organised by Alzheimer’s Support, which is the leading support charity in Wiltshire. Details on the flyer below of how to attend or just email me ☺️…would be lovely to meet any blog followers…Just realised you can book through their website

I lived for a while in Wiltshire but it’s a long time since I sampled the delights of Salisbury with its wonderful cathedral….

Penultimate meeting of the Pioneers in London….

Well it seems ages since I went and stayed in London. But the funding for the dementia pioneers is coming to an end, so some of us are meeting and staying  at The Royal Foundation of St Katherine’s. We can’t just let the end be the end so we need to reflect on the project and decide how we can encourage researchers to work as partners with people affected by dementia as a matter of routine.  You can read more about the Pioneers on the web site

And so to London… was due to be unseasonably warm in London and dry, yet throwing it down at home, so what to wear 😳?? I’d been in my winter coat at home but decided on a lighter jacket but really didn’t have a clue whether this would be ok, but I’d made a decision and decisions are very hard to make with dementia.

It was cloudy and grey as the taxi man’s txt came through dead on time at 07.30. I’d been up since 05.30; an hour to get myself ready and pack 😳 and an hour to catch up with emails as the day before had been chaotic sorting calendars to my American friends, attending Tea and Toast in the village to sell them AND biggest news of all, me and Anna finally finishing and submitting my third and final book 🙌. 

So today was a day of book free thoughts not only for me but for Anna. She txted me early doors to say she was looking forward to doing just what she felt like doing and going for a long walk with her adorable dog Tilka😍

I’d had very weird dreams the night before, the book still playing on my mind, stories churning over, Naga Munchetty, one of my favourite journalists, interrogating me and I mean ‘Interrogating’ 😂. The girls weren’t there as I was a teenager, but Anna was there 😳 and my mum and dad….as I said, very weird…….

I was on Hull Trains, my favourite train company and runs two services daily direct from Beverley to London, so no need to change😍 Their staff are also the most friendly. As soon as I got on, my sunflower lanyard in view, I immediately snuck my little case at my feet, but the woman came along and said I’d be uncomfortable with that there on the journey, would she like me to put it between the seats. I explained I had dementia and I’d forget it if it wasn’t in view and near me, so she immediately said with a smile:

Don’t worry, I won’t forget, how about we put it above your head in the rack, they’re see through so you can see it and I’ll get it down for you”

We went by the Humber, the sky grey and the last of any sunshine just starting to disappear as heavy rain was forecast

Simple kindness helps…….

The sky went from grey, laden with rain, to blue sunshiney as we approached the capital

Rachael from Innovations in Demtentia was meeting me at Kings Cross and Philly was meeting the others at their destination. I trust Rachael and Philly implicitly so I could just enjoy the journey without any worry. Rachael txted me at the beginning and I hadn’t realised my umpteen txts weren’t sending from my ipad 🙄 but then I suddenly went to my phone to send a txt for some reason and noticed they’d all piled up on my ipad 🙈…..I’d been proverbially ‘talking to myself’ 😂never mind at least I realised before it caused any pickle occurring.

Turns out Rachael was meeting me at Kings cross then we were heading to Euston to meet Amigo George and Maq who had travelled from the same area🥰

The train was miraculously on time as were George and Maq! Wonders never cease! After hugs and more hugs we took a taxi to St Katherine’s which seem to take forever. But there we were met by the lovely Philly, then Daithi from Belgium and Howard appeared followed by Steve and his wife Carmel from Ireland. What a lovely mix we made. More hugs, more gasps of how different we look in real life as opposed to zoom. People much taller, shorter, etc, but wonderful just to hug real people.

Lunch was a very lively affair amongst all the chatter of getting to know each other for real and catching up with others

But the dining room was very busy, very warm and very noisy. I tried not to be bothered but it became increasingly hard so me and Philly left the room to go to the cool work room. We were much happier there in the cool and more open space 😍

We continued the conversation about being so happy to be with one another, but then it was down to work, the table all set ready for us to start…

This was meant to be our final dementia pioneers event but we’ve got an extension until the end of February so we hope to have one final one before then where everyone can attend as today we were missing Agnes, Dory and Irene.

We still have the final cohort 3 research projects to be published . An awful lot of Deep groups have already completed their own research which you can find on our website

There’s been a total of 24 research projects with people with dementia in the driving seat. 

So we’re here to take stock, say what we’ve learnt along the way and decide what we can recommend to researchers so this inclusion continues. Because to include us as equals makes their research far richer and gives it that missing ingredient – lived expertise.

Jessica Kingsley have agreed to publish a book written by us on Dementia enquiries – looking at the values, the principals, what have we learnt since 2018 when we started. 

Some of our ally professionals will join us at various points during our stay. Philly’s son, Sam will be making a short film while we’re all here too.

We spoke first of the film we were there to make. A short 7-9 minute film to grab peoples enthusiasm to read the book. It needs to appeal to professional researchers/universities to encourage them to involve people with dementia in a meaningful way but then also appeal to people with dementia to tell them they can and are able to contribute in a variety of ways.

We want to show researchers/funders/ethics committees,  what they’re missing from their research by not having us involved. The power of mutual benefit. Academics need to let go of their academic persona to get the best out of themselves but also us.

Those high in academia tend to hold onto procedures and practices from the past and as Daithi said many don’t have professional humility. 

My head then started to implode and concentration became even harder. We did an awful lot of work in those few hours since our arrival but my batteries were running low so sadly no more typing…but I could still snap…a distraction to the ever increasing banging head that was forming 🙄

I realised through doing this, my first live written blog for quite some time, that I’ve lost those skills. I’ve lost the ability to type, listen and contribute 🙄. So maybe I’ll give myself a break for the next couple of days and stick to the blogs I’ve already written and set them to be published instead 🙄. Whilst I LOVE being face to face with my playmates , Rachael and Philly, I realised this isn’t a good venue for me. Apparently I’ve been here several times but nothing looks familiar. Maybe because each time I left with no positive emotion for the place 🤔. I don’t know where I am and feel as though there’s no open land around me so it’s a tad claustrophobic.

As I settled in my room, before heading down for supper, I spied a squirrel in the gardens below my window….suddenly I felt very homesick……😔

New village residents……..and a return to paradise……

On Thursday the last of the 6 ducks arrived, bought from some of the proceeds of last years calendar sales. We already had our 4 lovely Pochards who skim their way across the pond sucking up any food in track. 

Well, the ones I originally asked for have now arrived, 2 wonderful Tufted ducks. I asked for them to replace our amazing Tufted who died aged 24years young last year. She was a solitary soul but very happy, bit like me ☺️

I adored watching her duck and dive for food; so much smaller than the other ducks but always held her own. 

Thursday was World Alzheimers day. Steve messaged me to say he hoped to pick them up early and release them about 11, but sadly I was speaking to healthcare professionals at Surrey NHS Trust at that very time, then straight afterwards going for my hair cut. So my meeting of our new arrivals would have to wait 🙄

But once all that was out of the way, I trundled down to the pond with some food. Needless to say the ducks all swam towards me, some quacking to tell the others of my arrival, and there quietly at the back were the two Tufted.

Oh my goodness I was immediately taken back to our little Tufted as old as they immediately started diving down. Their golden yellow eyes so sparkly and bright. We managed to get a male and female and at the moment the only way you can tell which is which, is the male has the deeper yellows eyes. In a few weeks his plumage will turn black and white, making it easier then. But for now they looked so similar

I immediately fell in love with them as I am with all our ducks. Just stood there watching and clicking

Villagers came and stood alongside asking me to point out our new arrivals and one lady said:

Aww they look so comical diving”

It was then their names came to me. They’ll be Terry and June. People in the UK of a certain age will know exactly who I’m referring to. They had a wonderful comedy sitcom in the XXXX.

I couldn’t stop clicking

When all the frenzy of the feed had calmed down, the ducks now preening themselves, including the Tufted. They began to nap. It must have been a very tiring day for them; being transported from one area to the next and then to be put in a pond with lots of strangers. But our ducks had accepted them immediately. And thankfully Terry and June looked as if they’d been there forever

The following morning was an early rise to head to Paradise for a few days. I felt in need of just sitting in front of my window with my favourite view. 

The taxi picked me up at 6am and everything was going fine. It was a stunning sunrise sky as I headed to Hull on the first train

…and my favourite rock-a-by baby moon

But once in Hull everything went pear shaped 🙈….my next train was cancelled

I stood in front of the board, not quite knowing what to do 😳…then thought, I’d go outside to see the sunrise. But of course, as I got there I realised I wouldn’t see anything above the high building 😔…I went back in and stood once more, looking round for a smiley face. It was only just 06.30 so smiley faces were in short supply. I then saw a light in the ticket office. All the shutters were down on the side for bus information, but one solitary light was on at the train side. There was the smiley face I’d been looking for. He saw my sunflower lanyard and immediately gave me his biggest smile asking how he could help. I told him about my train, where I was going and he began searching for me. Even if I went via Doncaster, the Manchester trains had been cancelled from there too 🙈

Eventually he told me I’d have to wait for the next one an hour later to Manchester, but then there wasn’t a direct train to Penrith sadly. I’d have to go via Wigan 😳…never been to Wigan before, but he assured me it was a small station and there’d be someone around to help. He apologised profusely but as I said:

Well it wasn’t your fault”

No but it’s a blummin nuisance for you”

See, kindness exists even at 06.30 in a morning 😊

So what to do for the next 90 minutes 🙄……cuppa tea time.

Needless to say the train was chocca as it had two lots of passengers so squashed sardine sandwich for breakfast. I let Catherine know I’d be late as I’d miss my bus in Penrith as well and would have another hours wait….

However……that wasn’t the end of the story…..oh nooooo ….it got far worse ……when I got to Manchester, I found out through Anna, my partner in writing, that the trains had been cancelled from Wigan 😳……🤯 but at least Anna was there to find me another route as the queue for information was massive 🙈… instead if was to go via Preston, Anna even found out the platform number for me 😇……you think that’s the end? Ha!

A train arrived on the platform at the time mine was suppose to arrive and it was the right colour so I got on it 🥴…..but I did notice as we pulled away that all the other passengers were still on the platform 😳 and this one I sat on was very empty 😳🤯😳🤯

A tannoy voice came out of nowhere to say this was the delayed train to Edinburgh 😳, however……it would now only go as far as Carlisle. The tannoy then went dead 🤯 and the signs said only stopping at Preston and Carlisle 😳 nothing anywhere about Penrith 🙈

I went in search of mystery voice. I walked the entire length and back again through the train and even though she said `’come and find me if you have any questions’, she didn’t say where!!!

Anna was txting me all the time so I wasn’t alone, but I really didn’t have a clue what to do either. We decided I’d get off at Preston and get a train to Windemere, then the bus to Keswick….maybe.

We pulled into Preston and there were hoardes waiting to get on my nice empty train. I got off, but something made me head for the guard helping people on further down. I asked him if it went to Penrith.

Not sure love” as he glanced at the board then said, “yes hop on” 😳 so I got back on the same train and still the signs were saying it would only stopped at Carslile and it was the next stop 🙈 To top it all, the train was now so full it was standing room only 🙈

As I overheard conversations, it became apparent that no one else quite knew what was happening, which made me feel slightly better. Some were going to Edinburgh and told they’d have to cross to the other side of the country and go via Newcastle …….at least I was at the right side of the country for Penrith 🥴

I looked out at the window, everyone crushed together like economy sardines and the rain was heavily falling. The train stopped at Oxenholme, the stop before Keswick. So if it stopped there it would surely stop at Penrith 🤔 I was beginning to feel hopeful, squashed hopeful, but hopeful. As I looked at my watch I knew that I’d miss the bus to Keswick, so I’d have another hours wait, but I’d be able to claim my fare back so maybe I’d splash out on a taxi🤔……although, when I looked up the cost, £50, I changed my mind. I’d wait.

As the train began to slow down, an announcement was made that Penrith was the next stop – phew! I then had to clamber over bodies and suitcases to get to the door. People were sat on every inch of the train, poor things. At least I was getting off! I stumbled off the train, under the subway and out of the station and guess what ….the bus was there! It too was late 😳…..I wobbled my legs as fast as they could take me. I saw the doors closing 🙈…then someone saw me through the window and shouted to the bus driver who came to a screeching halt….I’ve never been so thankful for a bus being late before 🥵

It was raining but I didn’t care….I was on my way to paradise. I arrived 8 hours after I left the house, but I didn’t care….I was finally in my favourite room with my favourite view and after several hugs from Catherine and a retelling of the whole sorry story, I was sat with my cuppa just looking….and finally relaxed

I’d planned to do some writing for my new book on this ‘relaxing’ journey…..but not this sort of writing. 🙈

P.S…..the first thing I saw as I went for a little trundle…..

As if Sylvia had come to meet me and say. “Stop your moaning, you’re here now” 😍🤣