Category Archives: Communities

Saturday Sunshine…..

Last Saturday felt like the first day in weeks that it hadn’t rained….I really havn’t a clue whether it was days or weeks, time losing it’s concept at the mo….nothing to focus my mind on time, but it had felt like ages…..

The day before Sarah had come and we’d gone for our first trundle together, just to the pond and back, but boy did we get drenched……It wasn’t heavy rain, it was the steady persistent stuff that soaks you….

But….we had such a lovely walk. The pond looked beautiful….the rain didn’t matter…

 

Even the ducks looked hacked off by it, especially since I’d forgotten their food….🙄

The following day, Saturday, dawned to mist and cloud but by lunchtime the sun was shining and suddenly the village came alive again, as though it had been asleep through the rain…..

Still only allowed to trundle through the village, I ambled to the pond again…even Terence and Teresa Terrapin had made an appearance, first time in ages!

Alongside the pond shelter, on the ground Is a monument to an Olympic long jumper Sue Hearnshaw.

I looked up why such a strange event was marked in the village only to find she went to the local High School..the length of the jump, start to finish, is marked out on the flagstones…..a random, but pleasant acknowledgement to a local girl…gone off piste..🙄

A family with a tiny tot stood waiting by the pond shelter…and a car pulled up with what must have been grandma and grandad aboard, meeting quite obviously for the first time since lockdown. The excitement on grandmas face, the uncertainty on the child’s was striking…..Grandma so wanted the child to run up and hug her, but the confusion made the child cling to her mothers hand, not quite knowing what she was allowed to do….luckily Grandma took it gently and as I trundled away I could hear the child chatting happily….

All the rain of late had made the villagers go into hibernation. I don’t think we’d realised how important the weather has been to get us through the lockdown. My trundles had often been a lonely affair, my camera hidden beneath my coat, sometimes not seeing a sole as I ambled through drenched village streets and lanes….

But not on Saturday, not when the sun had shone and everyone looked happy again….

Laughter, children playing outside once more, squeals of delight echoing through the gardens. Chatterings of passers by, smiley faces once more. The rain was much needed for the gardens and the farmers, but the sunshine was needed for the humans too and what a difference it made…….

Why….? ……Poem

Why has it taken this strange new virus
To make us look at the world
With different eyes and different views
To look closely at nature unfurl?

Why have we suddenly noticed
The damage we did before
And suddenly appreciate the tiny things
The beauty around, just a little bit more?

Why has it taken this lockdown
To suddenly see what means most
To suddenly see the simple things
To see them right up close?

It’s not what we appreciate now
But what we appreciate after that matters most
Will we behave differently
Will we still see nature up close?

Let’s hope our appreciation of the world and our fellow human beings is much kinder, much more thoughtful than we were before all this came along. Then all these deaths, all this heartache won’t have been for nothing…..

Will we respect then what we learnt to respect now?

The strangeness of crowds of people……

On Sunday I had a text from my daughter Gemma asking if I wanted to go for a drive the short distance to the Westwood. I’ve been part of their household too during this lockdown. They invited me to move in with them at the beginning but I knew that wouldn’t work. I needed to be in my own familiar surroundings, much as I love them. However, I also need to have a good meal once a week, to make up for the ‘interesting’ diet I can provide for myself…..🙄…so that’s why we counted me in their household as well – to make sure Stuart fed me every now and then…😂🤣

Off piste again…🙄…so Sunday, they decided to take me to the Westwood. Somewhere I love any time of year but especially when the fields are full of buttercups and the town cows are outside grazing…but it’s a tad too far for me to walk there and back. I can manage to get there, but always struggle with the return leg…….so a trip in the car was the perfect solution, just down the road, so not too far.

But how strange it was to be in a car……how strange it was to travel through my invisible boundary of the village and imagine our surprise when we saw how many other people had had the same idea 😳. Cars parked bumper to bumper across the Westwood roads. I really don’t think I’ve ever seen sooooo many cars there ever! But the Westwood is so vast that the numbers on the grass didn’t seem to match the number of cars….thankfully! I even made it look quiet in my piccies, as obviously, I don’t like to include people when they’re unaware….

It’s so lovely how paths are mowed cross crossing the Westwood, especially this time of year.

Paths through the buttercups so not all are randomly trodden on. Still can’t wear my walking boots as they rub on my still tender ankle bone and bruised heal, but found my garden crocs are wonderful substitutes….

I kept stopping to take piccies and just loved simply seeing and being with people. Hearing children laughing again, the sound of families laughing and chattering as we passed them by, little games of family cricket happening randomly in corners of the fields and picnics amidst the buttercups. But it was also strangely quite stressful seeing all these people. Suddenly it didn’t feel natural. I kept just stopping and looking as though I hadn’t seen a group of people before.

I was more used to 2, maybe three people passing by in the village. But most people followed the rules, waiting for people to pass, keeping their distance and being polite and friendly in the process. What on earth will it feel like when we’re allowed to mix closely in numbers….that might take some courage the first time….

The cows hadn’t been informed of the 2 metre rule however….😂

But oh, did the Westwood look beautiful close up instead of zooming in with my camera from afar……

Finally allowing people outside the house, children to run about once more and enjoy the open space

It was the most glorious trundle. Buttercups and cows, what could be better

This Micro Self Sufficient Society I find myself in……..

This strange world has revealed a beautiful, small, yet perfectly formed micro society I never really appreciated before now and it’s right on my doorstep – my lovely village, with its lovely pond, Terence and Teresa Terrapin and all the ducks and ducklings and, of course, the people….

I was always grateful to have moved to this peaceful oasis of calm, but I never realised how much until it suddenly came alive during this lockdown period. I havn’t been out of the village for how ever many weeks we’ve been in lockdown, but I don’t miss the outside world.

This is now my world, this small community surrounded by countryside, how lucky am I? I realise not everyone’s situation is a good one. Those out of work, with children, in flats. It must be so hard for so many, so that’s why I often feel guilty that I’m enjoying this new freedom I’m experiencing. Freedom in a small bubble of friendliness.

I never knew a village Facebook page existed, in fact many villagers didn’t, but now over a thousand people have joined, all wanting to be part of this small micro world, there to support one another, there to ask for support, ask for help, advice, simply share and it’s wonderful. I used to follow the Beverley one, but people weren’t always pleasant and often moaning, so I stopped. This rarely, if ever, happens on the village site.

I decided quite early on to post my daily trundle piccies on there. I knew many people had to self isolate so wanted to bring our beautiful village inside their homes, and that proved a great success. People thanking me for showing the lambs they knew they were missing, the spring bulbs, the blossom, the ducklings, all being missed if you were locked away inside.

Then suddenly people began to notice me and my camera out for a trundle and would shout across the road, asking if I was Wendy, the camera lady. Now people just shout my name saying hello and ‘have a nice trundle’. The word ‘trundle’ now having entered their vocabulary.

I began to notice this rise in community feeling very early on. The village shop coming into it’s own and going out of it’s way to help people, the rainbows appearing on windows, drawn with love by children no longer at school, the thoughtful couple collecting for the Hull food bank. The local vicar ‘live’ on Facebook every morning for people that wanted to share the moment with him. So much good happening.

Mental health is equally important as physical health and this feel good factor is out there if you look. I realise not everyone is able to ‘see’ the good. But don’t be hard on yourself, try and take time to see and listen, hard for many I know. Take your mind off the bigger picture and take time to see the little things of beauty.I found myself watching a tiny ant the other day, going about it’s business, so industrious yet fascinating to simply watch the moment. A Robin, hopping in front of me looking for food, keeping two hops ahead of me, but not flying off, such was it’s calmness…

The Village Facebook page has been used to help people find village tradesmen when emergencies have arisen. People immediately making recommendations. It’s also been used for people offering free herbs from the garden, the local nursery selling plants in the village,
On Monday a women suddenly posted a request

Looking for a ladies bike! Not much on Marketplace so thought I’d try here! Kids and husband all kitted out now it’s just me left 🤪”

I suddenly remembered my pink bike stowed away in Gemma and Stuarts garage and had been for years…..my pink bike had been very special to me as I bought it when I could no longer drive. Turned out the reason I had to give up riding my bike was the same as for driving – I couldn’t turn right. The story’s well documented in my book.

I asked Stuart to send me a last piccie of it after he’s checked it over. It was working perfectly, just dusty and lonely looking after being stowed away for so long

It was just as I remembered it…..❤️

I was soooo happy that my pink bike would no longer be gathering dust and would once again be loved and out and about, especially in my very own village…..I didn’t want money, as knowing it was being loved and used once more was thanks enough and the women was overwhelmed by it’s ‘pinkness’…I can’t wait to see it being ridden again…

The only trundle I can say I really miss is to my paradise of Keswick and I was actually due there this weekend. But again, kindness has shone, as the owner of the B&B where I always stay, Catherine, sent me piccies today of all my favourite places, which were a joy to see, along with her lovely dog, Polly. It’ll hopefully be my first trundle when all this is over…

But I’m happy in this bubble and will miss it when it bursts. I know it won’t last forever, but somehow, I think the villagers will remain close, remain friendly, as many, just like me, have made new friends and found a caring community that few knew existed……

Video clips for how volunteers can help people with dementia…….

Not sure when we helped out on this but must have been recently. A few of us volunteered to meet via Zoom with Philly and Damian from Innovations in Dementia. We were there to discuss ways these thousands of NHS volunteers around the country, could help provide a better service if allocated someone with dementia.

We spoke about people who were delivering medication, people delivering shopping, people taking us to appoitments and those just simply providing a friendly phone call…..

Although these tips are wonderful for now, they’re wonderful for any time, any situation.

Damian was the star in front of the camera, demonstrating the ‘smiley face’ technique😂 and even his dog got in on the act at the end of one video by sneezing 😂❤️…….

We hope they’ll be used by all volunteer agencies. The people who have volunteered are obviously wanting to help, but helping in the wrong way could leave someone with dementia feeling confused and frightened. So please check these out and spread them far and wide to anyone organising volunteers….doesn’t matter where…..you can find all 4 on their web site here….

The Coronavirus situation

The need to keep typing…….

So much has changed lately for us all. As I said on yesterday’s blog, I’ve slipped into this glorious bubble of comfort in this village life I’m encased in. A new routine of normality fits snugly into my day now. No stress of travel, of thinking, of organising me. I realise it probably won’t work in my favour in the long run, but for now I’m happy, I’m content.

The only thing I can think of that remains from my old world is the need to keep typing everyday and I’m actually typing more than ever, just differently.

I’ve discovered my village Facebook page that I never knew existed, so am making lots of new friends. I’ve discovered Terence and Teresa Terrapin who live in the village pond.

I post everyday on there, writing something and then including my piccies from my daily trundle. People now shout my name in the street and ask how I am, whether I’ve taken any good photos today. One asked me to take piccies of their dog, Dave, to post and say hello to all the people they no longer see who also have dogs and who they miss. Another asked me to take a piccie of their lovely house behind the village pond, just to say hello to their friends they were missing and who looked at the Facebook page. So I’m always happy to oblige, happy to connect people in such a small way. A new type of comfort for me.

Through all this more villagers have learnt I have dementia and so every now and then, I’ll throw in a line of learning for them, for example, explaining why I can type, Some have even discovered my book during lockdown, so still feel as though I’m educating, just on a smaller scale.

I have more time than ever to to trundle and have discovered such beauty around these square miles where I live that I would never have had the time for if we hadn’t been in lockdown. Especially the blue bell wood, so close by, yet hidden unless you have the time to discover it for which I’m so grateful as I love bluebells…

This time of year my trundles on the bus to York are highlighted by glorious fields of gold and I thought I’d miss them all this year….but yesterday, I ventured out on a new walk and to my surprise, I was surrounded by these wonderful fields of gold which simply took my breathe away…

I’ve grown more seeds than ever this year ready to provide that much needed splash of colour in the summer months and spent more time watching the birds in my garden…

tending to and watering the plants, all because I have TIME.

But the one thing I’ve kept as a constant is my typing. I may not have my events to type about, my travels around the country but it doesn’t matter. It’s the one skill I mustn’t lose. The one that would be the end. The one that would be the most devastating. All the other tasks, once taken daily, are all locked away waiting for release, but the key is clearly in the lock waiting for me to venture in there and test my old skills….

So I still sit here typing away daily, on Twitter, on Facebook, on my blog, because that’s how I survive – knowing that one skill won’t have left me when all this is over…..

A beautiful trundle…..Poem

A couple of weekends ago, I woke to a beautiful sunny day and the choice was a long early morning walk or try and paint the shed…🙄😂….well needless to say, the walk won….It was somewhere I hadn’t walked for years but I thought I’d push myself since it was such a lovely day…..it was going fine until I reached my destination, Folly Lake, just on the outskirts of the village….but then couldn’t remember where to find the public footpath I’d just walked along from the village 😳🙈…..

My intention was to walk in a square back to the main road and then the village as I knew the car way back, but for some reason was tempted by the first public footpath I saw….that’s when it started to go wrong….🙄…turned out ok in the end and took me through the middle of the Risby estate (so the sign said 😂) through beautiful countryside and back to the village…….

Just had the most amazing trundle

Much longer than I thought…

Walked to Folly Lake for a change

Much further than I ought……

But oh, it was so lovely

Not walked there for years

But then my trundle went array

Couldn’t remember the way back..in reverse..!

Took another public footpath

In the hope of a smiley face

To tell me where I was heading

Was I anywhere near my base?

A couple were ahead,

but I couldn’t catch them up

But then I spied a smiley couple

Coming towards me, then close up….

They pointed this way and that

With their lovely smiley faces

Then…Through beautifully ploughed fields

With bird song as my company

I found my way back home again……

Took me a lot longer than it should have done, but that was mainly due to getting lost 🙄I arrived home exhausted but having had a totally lovely trundle …….met some lovely people out doing the same, obviously all keeping to the rules. I never worry about getting lost near the village as there’s always smiley people to ask…..

Also saw this cute dog in the middle of the biggest playground ever, his owner, the farmers field……just so happy bouncing up and down through the field….❤️

 

A Thank You to my Village…..

Written long before the strange world invaded our lives…well, 4 or 5 weeks ago to be precise….but seems an age ago….our village Newsletter in hard copy has bitten the dust this month so those who don’t have the internet will find that a loss….I’m so lucky to live where I do, surrounded by countryside and fields, where social distancing has never been an issue….

This letter could have been written for these strange times, but the fact that it was written long before the world was transformed is a testament to it’s friendliness….

They’re always asking for contributions and for piccies to put on the cover so I emailed the editor to see if a piccie I’d taken in the village was acceptable, as they have to look right in black, and white and also wrote an article…

As well as having my piccie on the front cover

It also printed the article I wrote and here it is….

I moved to the village, I’m not sure how many years ago now, probably 2 or 3….but the reason I moved here may give some indication as to why I can’t remember.

You see, I was diagnosed with Young Onset dementia nearly 6 years ago. I used to live in the beautiful city of York and described it like ‘being on holiday and never going home’. But dementia isn’t just about memory as so many of our senses are affected as well. One of my first was my hearing. I wasn’t going deaf, but certain tones of noise physically hurt my ears, and just like children with autism, I was diagnosed with hyperacusis. So the sirens, the traffic, the continual every day noises of York began to affect me and it was vital I moved somewhere quieter.

I’d visited my daughter in there many times and was struck by the friendliness of people in the street. The automatic smiles and greetings that came my way. So it was here that I decided to move. It was a traumatic move as I hadn’t appreciated how hard it would be to get used to a new village, a new house lay out. But the friendliness of the village helped me through this without even realising it.

My neighbours are all truly wonderful at helping me when I need it, often unobtrusively, for example, taking in my weekly bins, but all this is much appreciated.

I’m quite well known in the ‘dementia world’ and often sing the praises of my little friendly village. I’ve met people on my travels around the country speaking whose eyes light up with recognistion when I say it’s name. One person even lived in the vicarage many moons ago as a child, yet I met her in the West Country.

Amazingly I’ve written a Sunday Times best seller, Somebody I Used to Know’ detailing my life before and living with dementia. I was lucky enough to be invited to the village Book Club in the Dog and Duck to talk about it and was met by such kindness and interest.

I went to the village school at the request of Chris the headmaster, and made all the pupils dementia friends one year and they’d done the most amazing forget me not display.

The village shop assistants have always been kind and helpful, especially at the post office counter where I can get in a pickle with money. But no one bats an eyelid, they just help me.

As for the village bus stop….well I call the village bus, ‘The NHS on Wheels’ as it serves to help people socialise, to catch up on the news and should never be lost. I love catching our village bus and seeing all the smiles, the cheery hellos and conversations that take place on that short ride into town.

You may not realise but  the village has been filmed many times as TV companies come to interview me and the National newspapers write articles about me which leads to many enquiries from strangers asking where I live as they think it’s so beautiful.

We often don’t realise that the place we live has so much beauty but trust me it has.

All these things go to making my village Dementia Friendly without even realising it. But I like to think of it as ‘People Friendly’ and moving here was one of the best moves I made. Thank you for making me fell so welcome and part of this wonderful community….

Wendy

 

Value of technology in this strange world…..

Last Thursday saw the first of my “virtual cuppa tea with Wendy” via zoom. I’d advertised it on Twitter as a way people could join me by video for a virtual cuppa of tea. The them of that session was Living alone. I have to have a limit as I can’t cope with lots of people on the screen at once. We opened it up to 15 people to join and sold all the tickets, but as usual with these things only 9 people joined me as life takes over and other priorities occur. I say ‘only’ but in fact it was perfect.

For each session I thought I’d invite a guest playmate to join me and last week it was fellow Zoomette, Dreane,  as she also lives alone.

I knew all the peoples names from Twitter but had never met them. I invited anyone to join, with or without a connection to dementia. It was lovely to see new faces as well as old. I met playmate Gail. We’d never met but we follow each other on Twitter and it was sooo nice to talk by zoom……I met people I’d never ‘met’ before which was so nice.

We all sat with our cuppas and simply chatted. The one thing I find hard is not being able to type while on zoom as the content is lost as soon as we’re finished. Must try and find a way round this…….I had my able enabler Anna, from Minds and Voices keeping order. It’s our rule that you have to put your hand up, hold up something bright, or a ‘I Want to Speak card’ to wait your turn so that no more than one person speaks at a time….it worked so well.

I’m holding 2 more this week, one today, Tuesday and one on Thursday.

If you’d like to join me for the tea break on Thursday  2nd April at 11am UK time, you’re more than welcome. There’s still a few tickets left, or there was when I last asked. Just book your place on Eventbrite by clicking the link below ..on Thursday my guest playmate is the lovely George Rook and the theme of our cuppa will be ‘Trying something new’. Apologies for my overseas friends where the time won’t be appropriate.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/web-with-wendy-session-three-trying-something-new-tickets-101184776390

Of course, me and my fellow Zoomettes have been meeting virtually every Monday for ages, long before this new world began, so I consider myself lucky to have known how to remain connected. We didn’t have to learn how to do any of this as we knew already…..how strange that people with dementia were ahead of the game…

If you’ve never used zoom, you can watch fellow playmate Frances and our able enabler Aimee from the Zoomettes on this short instruction film which will give you a starter….

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ilK0WAS3Kt4

I also wrote an article about ‘giving technology a go” especially during this isolating time…for the Young Dementia UK Newsletter. You can read it here if it’s of interest.

https://www.youngdementiauk.org/technology-give-it-go-wendy-mitchell?bblinkid=211603353&bbemailid=19953210&bbejrid=1418854000

 

The Dreaded ‘C’ Word….

Crikey…..what a very strange world we find ourselves in at the moment….circumstances and advice changing daily, hourly! Confusion at so much being stated that I’ve started simply listening to BBC Breakfast update in the morning (as that’s part of my routine) and then my local news for an update in the evening (another part of my routine)…..just so my head doesn’t explode with all the different messages coming out. I’m getting cabin fever just at the thought of being told to stay inside…..🙄

I was quite blasé in the beginning….but now this is impacting on our lives like nothing else I can remember in my lifetime. I remember the miners strike, in the 80’s I think and the electricity restrictions of my youth. When there was a rota for power cuts – no electricity for hours….I quite enjoyed the candlelit evenings, with no television and having to find other diversions….it seemed quite traumatic at the time but it was simply a nuisance…..no social media in those days….

Nothing like we have now…….

 It’s not the isolation I worry about, it’s the lack of ‘doing’, of stretching my brain that’s involved in planning a trundle, planning a event, planning the plan B, meeting people, being exposed to different conversations in different environments. All things that keep my  dementia at bay on a daily basis.

But then my inbox started to fill…..filling with cancellations…..and silent at offers to speak at future events….it felt so sad.

I’m writing talks that may never be heard, for events that may never happen, just so I can follow my normal routine on a Sunday, when the world is already quiet with no village buses…

The village bus has been as busy as ever this past few days. A conversation started about the possible threat of over 70’s being told to stay at home. The horror on peoples faces that hadn’t heard the news was quite distressing.

This is the only time I see anyone to talk to”

Said one, reliant on the village bus for social interaction….

I’d be lost if I couldn’t go out every day on the bus”

Said another…..each and everyone of us saying how isolating having to stay at home would be.

I’m  the youngest of this group so all of them are over 70 and suddenly ‘digging in of heels’ started….

Let them try and stop me going out” followed by cheers and laughter.

I might be dead this time next month, so I’m not going to stay in wasting time just waiting”

What happens to those unfortunate enough to have been told they only have so long to live, maybe months – so they isolate and waste the life they have left?

Will no one be able to attend their funeral if they do die or will funerals be delayed for months until the situation settles ?

That’s the reality of telling the over 70’s to stay indoors……practical and sensible though it might seem on first glance…..also, as someone pointed out, many 70 year olds are fitting than those much younger……

What will happen to carers, told to self isolate, with loved ones with dementia or any other condition…..no home help allowed to enter, or even isolated themselves? What will happen to their mental health during this trying time?

How do you explain to a loved one who is physically capable of moving around, but mentally unable to comprehend and remember the problem, that they can’t go for a trundle, that no one is allowed to visit?

I had an event cancelled very late Sunday for Monday morning and had to ring my lovely taxi people to cancel. It’s impacting on them hugely as regulars are working from home, or like me, just not needing them any more.

This virus has raised far more questions than anyone could ever imagine….

I’m lucky I live in such a kind village. They’ve set up a WhatsApp group to help find out who needs help, the village Facebook page is full of offers of help and the village shop posted this message as well as putting a sign up in the shop…saying they will be open for the duration and will home deliver to those in need….

I just know my health will suffer in far worse ways than the Corona Virus could unless I find new routines, new stimulation to combat dementia…….

Some have said, thank goodness for the television, but I’m not a telly watcher. Again, I have my routine of Breakfast TV in the morning for half an hour then it’s off until a couple of hours in the evening. Listening to the radio often makes me fall asleep 😴 🙄…so for me, it’s being outside that matters….

I keep telling myself, the days are getting longer and hopefully warmer and I’ll be able to spend time in the garden.As a playmate said:

Everything will stop….except dementia”…….

I can hear dementia laughing in the wings and rubbing it’s hands with glee……

P.s well since I wrote this things have been changing rapidly….only yesterday I booked a few days away in my paradise of Keswick, only to have to cancel it after the announcement re non essential travel…..when will I get to paradise again…….😔