At the start of the lockdown, I, like so many others, was at a loss. My everyday routine of travelling all over the country speaking at events and Book Festivals came to a grinding halt.
I desperately needed a new routine, as routine is so important for someone with dementia. It took me a while, but then one day I ordered a camera online and it’s been out with me every single day since on my trundles around the village.
Before lockdown I simply hadn’t had the time to explore new paths, to stop and look at the beauty around us and what a pleasant surprise I had. I always knew I was lucky to live in such a wonderful village, but suddenly I had the time to really look, really appreciate what was around us.
It was during lockdown that I discovered the village had a Facebook page and so I started posting my photos each day, initially for those who were isolating or couldn’t get out and about. Then it became part of my routine.
I believe the lockdown brought our village closer together. We chatted more – at a distance. We all had the time to get out and about walking, after all it was all we were allowed to do.
During last year, I’ve seen some amazing sights in the countryside around and in the centre of the village itself. The village helped me survive the lockdown and so now I want to do something in return. I’ve produced my own calendar for 2022:
“Walkington Life 2022”
A few villagers had asked me to do this during lockdown and back then I never thought I’d do it! But it gave me something to focus on. So for the last year I’ve been merrily clicking away and over the last couple of months have narrowed it down to 12 – each taken during the month they represent. This one has become the cover and is Decembers photo too.
I put this one originally
🤣😂 then showed them all to my daughter Gemma and a gentle reply came back…
“I’d stick with the Robin for December”
So the Robin gazumped me out 😂
They’re with the printers at the moment – who also happens to live in the village – and they’re due to be with me next week. It’s then I can start working out costs for posting etc, so watch this space!! They’ll be £10 each or £15 for 2 (they’d make great Christmas presents!) and ALL proceeds will be ploughed back into the village and my support group Minds and Voices. I’ll write another blog next week detailing how to get one.
P.s…..as if by magic I had a knock on the door last night and Chris arrived with the boxes of my calendar, just in time….I’m so happy with it:) now I’ve just got the small detail of selling them all 🤣🤞they’ll be on sale from next Tuesday !
As this is published I’ll be on another journey to paradise – more tomorrow. Last weekend’s visit was snuck in as an extra so I could be there for David and Sylvia, so this week was already planned and seemed a shame to cancel it 🤣…..and I’d be able simply to relax….
Anyway several months ago I was asked if I’d like to donate a couple of written pieces for a forthcoming book aimed at raising funds for Hull Samaritans ….Samaritans are there for people when they desperately need someone to simply listen and hear their voices, the turmoil in their life – such a worthwhile charity which is nationwide but this is to raise much needed funds for my local service.
“Every 7 seconds, the Samaritans receive a call for help”
As their flyer states about the book…
Well I received my copy on my way to town yesterday and I was overwhelmed by the high quality of the publication.
People from all walks of life, from photographers to artists, writers to psychologists. People of every age with some lovely pieces by schoolchildren.
Lots of beautiful images depicting ‘listening’ as well as all the written contributions….
”Open the book and you will find poems, stories, paintings, photographs, articles and songs – all about listening and the importance of silence”
I wrote 2 pieces, a poem and a prose.
A poem called ‘Listen’
And the prose going by the title “When people stop listening”
A truly inspiring book simply to have in your collection and the fact that it’s raising money for such a good cause is a bonus….
There’s an early bird price of £7.99 incl post and packaging if you order before July 22nd (you might have to check if this applies to outside of the UK) and you can order it by clicking the link below.
Lockdown has in the main, been a bit of a bummer, but it’s also had many positives too. It’s given us time to just be, time to appreciate what’s around us and to question what’s important in our lives.
It’s also opened up the world to us in a very different way – via Zoom. I’ve spoken to Canadian students and a group of people from India connected to their health service – neither of which would have been in my grasp if it hadn’t have been for Zoom technology. I think the lockdown has taught us to use technology more often to allow different worlds to meet and hopefully will continue with this as lockdown eases.
The other week I was asked to speak to another group in India – Silver Talkies, an online community for the over 55’s in India. During lockdown, online communities have come into their own, especially where the population is spread, like India.
It’s fascinating talking to other cultures. Hearing their questions, comparing their life and life here….” Silver Talkies is a multi-dimensional platform for people who are 55 plus. Our team brings you features that highlight people, passions, trends, issues, opinions and solutions for the senior generation.”
Anyway here’s their article and the recording of my talk…
Here in the UK, it’s a Bank Holiday weekend. The schools have finished for half term and the weather was predicted to be fabulous for a change. The lockdown brought communities together and I’m hoping that the easing of lockdown won’t change that community feeling.
In the village a few things were happening, the first of which fell foul of the recent weather as the village cricket team were supposed to be at home on Saturday and had asked me to take photos. Everything was going well as the weekend approached. We’d had some heavy rain but they’d overcome the flooded pitch and manage to mow it making it look perfect for the job…..that was until Friday tea time, when the heavens opened once more and a deluge of rain undid all their good work..🙈 the pitch was flooded once more. We’ve had so much rain recently that the ground is just saturated with no space for more, so sadly that match was called off 🙄
However, the village Bowls club had advertised an open weekend for any villagers to have a go. I remember my uncle Wilf, who was very short, just like my dad, adoring bowls. He’d play all day every day if his wife had let him, so I decided I’d have a go instead of just taking photos….
Anyway, the day started off unexpectedly foggy 🙄, not the brilliant sunshine we’d been promised and which my app at the time said we were having 🙈…but it looked very peaceful so I decided to have an early morning walk. The air was so still, so calm and as I turned the corner into the Main Street, the sun was desparately trying to burn it away..
As I reached the pond, their was a lovely veil of mist
Even Terence the terrapin was unsure whether to surface, his head just popping out to test the temperature
The ducks were all gathering at the other end as the church bells had just chimed 8, so Steve would be out with their breakfast any minute
Up through the houses and along the back lane. You could feel the air starting to warm up, but the sun still had a way to go before the fog lifted
Passing Abbys sheep, all of them still sleepy and maybe just waking up, but Wally poked his head up to see who was passing
Turning left and down the long lane, you could sense the day would be a good one, the sun persistent and the odd chink of blue sky starting to appear, but still a while to go before the promised sunshiney day
Just halfway along the lane, I decided to head back home for my morning cuppa before the start of the bowls……Just as the Robin hopped down in front of me to say hello
After pottering around the house, the fog now lifted, I hung out all the washing before making my way to the Bowls Club.
I sat for a while watching to young lads having a go….sooo nice to see youngsters prepared to give it a try. Before long you could see they’d got the hang of it and cheers went up as one of them did a perfect shot
One of Gemma and Stuarts neighbours, another Stuart, then appeared with his children. I asked if I could join them for my attempt and after we all had a few naff shots we began to get the hang of it. A seasoned player explained what to do and with much patience guided us. He volunteered to take a piccie of me in action and I almost look as though I know what I’m doing 😂
Much laughter, much competitiveness and so much enjoyment followed. Stuart and his young son were naturals and again, so nice to see a youngster just giving it a go and not worrying about people watching him
As I left, Stuart and his son were still playing and looked like they’d be there for the duration having been hooked….
After lunch I went for another trundle as the sky was heavenly blue. Sooo nice not to have to wear a coat! It’s amazing how the sight and feel of the sun raises your spirits. Everyone I met looked so relaxed, so calm and content. Even the bullfinch on the top of the roof looked chilled
A lovely day, lets hope for more of the same tomorrow…..
So Sunday dawned. I’d started colouring some pebbles months ago. I’d had them left over from last year and had planned on a pebble trail over Easter, but had forgotten all about their existence, even though they were next to my bed 😳…why?…because they were in a bag and out of sight means they don’t exist 🙄, but one day I’d been curious as to the contents and was surprised to find half finished pebbles. So a few weeks later they were all finished
I posted on the village Facebook page that I’d hide them early Sunday morning, so that’s what I did…waking early to another grey misty morning, I went out before my cuppa and hid the pebbles. Another gloriously sunny day had been forecast but it had yet to arrive. There was a chill in the air as I made my way up towards the church…stopping off at the children’s meadow….
Only dog walkers about this early. Up around the churchyard, along the back lane to the playground
Finishing at the pond, where the ducks came quacking, thinking I had food in my bag and went away disappointed to wait for Simon (or is it Steve 🤔😂) to bring their breakfast and one final one at the shelter at the other end of the pond
As for today, Bank Holiday Monday, well I have the delight of a visit by Suki Chan, coming to record and film some more footage for our film about Consciousness. She has also promised to bring me some special green tea – when you pour hot water over it, a flower unfurls before your eyes…..can’t wait…
My playmates at Minds and Voices have been helping me with the writing of my second book (very weird saying that 😳). I was determined this time to have the voices of others, quotes from playmates on each topic within the book. Each week, me and Anna, my partner in writing, have been setting them their ‘homework’ 😂ready for our weekly meeting via Zoom on a Monday morning. We’ve had such wonderful discussions and I think they’ve enjoyed it as much as I have. I transcribe each chat so I can send Anna some thoughts to include …. We’ve also had a handful of other playmates helping, but in the main it was easier to ask Minds and Voices….
Well the final section was all around ‘Attitude’ and we had a really good discussion. The attitude of ourselves, of others of professionals and how they’ve changed since diagnosis.
In the main, we all shared similarities; how we’d been devastated at the beginning, then after meeting other playmates, we’d realised there was a life still to be lived. Some significant others in our lives had gone through the same process with the same outcome, but others had remained detached, some even becoming invisible and out of our lives.
The part which took me by surprise was from one of my playmates and his sister. They’d we chatted about my questions in the morning before we met on zoom about what he remembered about his diagnosis and he doesn’t remember when he was diagnosed. What was interesting was that after diagnosis he was put in touch with 3 different services – the farm he goes to, Age UK and Minds and Voices. In his recollection it was Minds and Voices that coincided with his diagnosis, because the other services didn’t focus on dementia. The man from Age Uk was a befriender so they went out for a coffee, went out for a walk, but Minds and Voices was the point he was labelled with dementia. So Minds and Voices created that label.
It wasn’t a word he’d come across or was familiar with and it was only through the constant reference to it through Minds and voices that he got the label
Damian, our able enabler added that he often thinks the very fact that we speak to people with dementia is rubbing it in. But that’s a great case for ‘normalising’ dementia so that we don’t need specific groups.
We should all be accepted in our community and there shouldn’t be a need for a niche group and the fact that we have, reinforces what my playmate said. If I’d been diagnosed with any other condition. I doubt it would have restricted me as dementia does in society. As our other able enabler, Anna said, if we were in a wheelchair, a community group would provide a ramp or a way to allow us to join, but because dementia is an invisible disability it doesn’t work like that.
It such an interesting thought. There shouldn’t be a need for our groups really as we should be able to mix, talk and be understand by anyone but the fact that we have to have these groups at this moment in time is more powerful than we imagine.
One playmate would love to join ordinary groups, art groups, WI etc, but they don’t understand how to accept her and what support she may need so she feels isolated. I remember joining a choir where the leader insisted everyone learnt the words and didn’t read them. I loved the choir and singing new songs, I just couldn’t remember the words if I hadn’t sang them in the past. She refused to allow me to sing with the words in front of me, making me feel very different and foolish so I had to leave.
Maybe that’s why many groups, including ours find it hard to get new members because they would feel labelled? But the community can isolate people with dementia from ordinary groups by not accepting, not understanding, so they can be left with nothing. If only there was a compromise to be had….but sadly in many cases there isn’t…..
Should we be asking if we perpetuating labelling ourselves? I’d never considered how DEEP groups and many like them can be adding to the problem, but until society changes its’ attitude this is how it will be, this is how it has to be as we have no alternative.
We ended our session with a beautiful classical recital from our playmate Monica as we do every week….displaying her talent beautifully…as I’m always saying, “We all had talents before a diagnosis, we don’t suddenly lose them overnight when we receive a diagnosis..” and Monica displays this beautifully every week….
By the time you read this me and Anna will have hopefully finished my book and sent it off to our publishers, Bloomsbury, to see if they think it’s rubbish or clapping their hands. But such is the slowness of the publishing world that it’s not due out until early next year……I’ve also given up trying to remember what I’m allowed to say and what I can’t say so I’ll either be ok or get my wrist slapped 🤣I hope you’ll think it’s worth waiting for….
I’ve been lucky enough to speak all over the country, all over the world during this last lockdown year. North, South, East, West of this country, from London to the Western Isles of Scotland, Cornwall to Edinburgh and everywhere in between, to folk in India and Canada. I suppose an advantage of lockdown when everything has been via zoom from the comfort of my bed on most occasions or my living room at most. No air miles, no carbon footprint used.
Well we finally heard from Boris about his plan for easing restrictions and the first thing I did was sent an email to Catherine from my lovely Appletrees in Keswick asking if she was taking provisional bookings. She immediately replied telling me to send my dates and if all went to plan with Covid, they’d go ahead….
We all live in hope that we’ll be able to visit places we love and none more so than me. The first place I intend to go when allowed is Keswick and have my lovely room with a view
That’s really why I emailed Catherine, to make sure I got my room! I suddenly panicked at the thought of everyone else booking their stays away and then Appletrees not having my room available.
Me and many of my playmates, have talked about whether we want to go back to travelling, how much will we have forgotten, how much support we might need, but more importantly, do we want to go back to that old world. The world where we’re invited to speak to professionals, to an audience we think we can influence and nothing changes? We’ve all enjoyed finding new things to do, the pressure less world of ‘doing’ what we want to do. For me, my camera has become my soulmate along with my trundles and nature…
However, I know I like travelling. I love just sitting on the train watching the scenery change. I also know that once I’m asked to speak, which involves travelling, the likelihood is, I’ll say yes.
But the first and ideal place to try out venturing into the world again is Keswick. A place I feel safe, a place I know well, a place I love just being. Catherine has been posting videos everyday of her daily swim with her friend Sue in the lake, has shown videos of the inside and out of Appletrees all empty and deserted apart from herself and Polly the dog. She showed the decorating being done all ready for visitors. So I feel I havn’t been away in some respects. Catherine has kept me connected. Whereas when I think of London, a place of so many meetings, I feel no connection whatsoever or desire to travel there…
The first visit will be with Sarah, so I don’t have the newness of train travel and staying over, I’ll just have the peace of Appletrees.
But the next, the following month, will be on my own…and the following month…..and the month after………
The other morning, I woke feeling a desparate need to get out and watch the sunrise. Not sure why, just one of those mornings I suppose when the urge to trundle takes over. The forecast for the forthcoming days was double drop rain so maybe I just needed to make the most of this fine day…
I showered while it was still dark and as the day started to dawn I made my morning flask of tea so it would be ready and waiting for me when I returned home to warm my cold morning body….
Coat gloves and ear muffs on, my camera round my neck, I ventured out into the early morning light. The villlage was veiled in pink on the West side, even though the sun would be rising in the east….
Up along the snicket towards the church and a lone squirrel when simply perched on the pavement pondering his route for food….
It’s always at the church gate that the first sign of the potential glory appears…Across the horse paddock into the distance, a sparkling glow of what was to come
A Robin sat on the top of the hedge chirruping away it’s morning song, so beautifully, giving me a personal performance as I stood there watching it singing , not disturbed or feared into flight by my close proximity
The lane was still muddy from days of rain, but we’re used to mud, my walking shoes permanently coated.
I reached the playing fields and saw the sun beginning to appear
Walked over the muddy grass, churned by excited children dribbling their footballs into the nets that lay waiting for their games. The small copse has several entrances, one is free from overhanging branches but I can’t always find it in the half light of early morning. This morning was one of them as I pushed away the branches that overhung the path. One stubborn one took more strength but I sadly let go too soon and I felt it whip the side of my face. The sting on my cold skin causing me to breathe in sharply and let out a yelp to no one but the trees…..a black eye for sure later, but for now I had more pressing needs….
Finally coming out into the open trees I stood and stared into the distance…..the sun just started to peep a over the trees
It’s at this point I just stand and watch it rise, slowly, majestically.
I trun around and like natures own power supply a sudden switch of light lit up the trees…
I can hear more footsteps coming towards me, crunching the leaves that lay thick on the copse floor. Another villager. We chat about the sunrise. It’s his favourite time of day too. We’d seen each other here from a distance before and knew the magic appealed to us both.
As the sun rose higher, the full beauty on display
Time to head back, my shadow forming part of the scenary
Retracing my steps home to the waiting hot steaming cuppa tea to warm my chilled hands, another sight of a squirrel. Who needs to take the nuts out singly from the bottom, when you can just lift the lid and take a handful 😂
And my final phot was of the church tower bathed in the morning light……
Last weekend I woke to torrential rain and dark skies. It was a disappointing start to the day and initially thought there was no way I’d get a trundle with my camera, but then, after lunch, the clouds started to break, blowing the wind away and the sun shone…..I decided to go out in search of hope…
We all need something to look forward to, to raise our spirits in this often dark time we’re in. For me, I find it in nature and my village as I walk around on my trundles. The sun was desperately trying to fight through the thick clouds
Camera round my neck, I set off, first to the duck pond in case no one had been out with food in the rain; although none of them would starve. But I like to think of them being looked after as they give so much joy to everyone here.
Then up behind the houses and along the back lane. The rain having giving us added mud and many puddles to navigate.
But the shrubs are full of berries, ready made meals for any passing bird who fancies a snack
The first sign of hope was in the middle of the lane, snowdrops just coming into flower. That first sign that spring is round the corner and gives us a reason to look forward……
As I reached Abbys field the sheep the paddock was empty of sheep, but Abby had warned me they had to reside in another field for a while as it was just too muddy in theirs. Another sight to look forward to once the ground recovers……the trees behind sculptured by the weather
My second sign of hope was again along the verge….daffodils piercing the winter soil, their bulbs feeding off the goodness in the ground ready to burst into flower in a month or so time….
Down along the verge I trundled beside the main road, the sun behind me lighting up the road.
So many villagers had ventured out since the rain ceased, doing just as I was, enjoying the fresh air and all that was around us. All saying hello, some stopping for a chat, others waving from afar, all with warm smiles and warm hearts.
Another sign of hope and the primroses coming into bud
And the winter. Viburnums in full flower
Never forget to look up, look down, look all around as you simply don’t know what missable sights you might miss; gone in a second, captured for ever.
Clouds forming natures own mountains in the sky, now lighter and more friendly than the morning sky.
As I near home, I notice the farmers wife in her front garden with her two ageing dogs, one deaf, one almost blind, but her loving companions. I’d never seen her out before so I stop and we chat away. She’d had a stroke and had not been able to go for walks, so told me my photos kept her in touch with the village 😍……giving her hope that one day she will see it again and be able to go for her own walk……..
But for now she’ll make do with my photos and her two adorable companions….sat happily, waiting for us to finish our conversation….
We all need hope…….sometimes you just have to look at the world more closely……
Between Christmas and New Year, the village had it’s first real frost of winter and a sprinkling of snow. Snow doesn’t appear as readily as years ago and I remember villagers at the bus stop telling me the tale of when my road and the whole village were snowed in.
Local tractors came to the aid of those needing help and the village was just one white world. But it was spoken about with fondness of memories where the villagers came together again to help each other survive…….
So the appearance of a frost sounds quite pathetic in comparison really, but it made for a different trundle.
When it’s icy my daughters often call me ‘Bambi on ice’….as I gingerly try to keep upright..it was misty as well which added to the magical landscape….
I stepped out of my door and immediately started to slide down my path😳….turning round, I went back in and got my tub of salt crystals and scattered them along the path and threw a few down the road for good measure….
Back on track I stepped cautiously down the road, icy patches here and there to be avoided..I decided to go along the main road first towards the duck pond with a veil of mist hanging over it.
Then decided to cross the road before the disappointed ducks realised I’d come without food, but the 3 amigos gave me a beady eye as I walked on passed…
Up through the houses to the back lane and as I turned the corner a blackbird and Robin stood as still as me just watching
The playing fields would remain silent of games today, for and frost changing the landscape
Something as simple as a nettle leaf, avoided at all other times but takes on a beauty of it own when covered in frost
The lane lay empty of companionship, just the mist revealing section by section as I trundled further
A pheasant in the horses field, oblivious to my presence rummaged for food
Before it saw me and took flight, it’s signature squawk echoing in the cold air
As I approached the graveyard I could hear morning chatter and smiles greeted me as I appeared. Dog walkers passing the time of day warned me not to venture further up the back lane as it was a sheet of black ice this morning, so, after a chat and a cuddle with the dogs, I turned right past the church and towards the Shetland ponies.
Suddenly I heard 2 voices behind me calling my name. It was Val and her hubby who own the ponies carrying bucketfuls of treats. Someone had had a go at them for not providing a shelter for these little ponies, but as we said the clue is in the name ‘Shetland Ponies’. Their habitat is outside in all weathers. When Val provided a shelter some years ago, they didn’t use it. Anyway I’m sure she educated the person…..
Before Val came into view Ginger Biscuit looked content in their frosty field and knew that Val wouldn’t be the only one bringing him carrots and other treats….
The ponies all headed for Val at the sound of her voice and the pheasant decided to go into hiding for a while in the full knowledge that when the humans had gone, it could surface again and sample whatever delights had been left
As for me, well I headed home for a warming cuppa tea……
If I couldn’t trundle, couldn’t take my camera and snap away, I’d be totally lost right now. But I can and it’s been my life saver, my new routine, my way of coping since the words ‘Covid’ and ‘lockdown’ entered our vocabulary.
One morning I woke pondering the thought of an early morning walk, undecided whether my body could make the effort….whenever I feel like this I shuffle into my back bedroom, my dressing gown hugged close, and simply look out of the window. It’s here I can see the start of night changing to day and the prospect of what might be to come. In the right hand corner of my view I could see the sky starting to light up…..it might just be a beautiful sunrise…that swayed my decision.
In the time it had taken to shower, get dressed, pick up my camera and headed downstairs, the glow of a sunset filled the air. Coat and gloves on, I turned the key and headed out into the cold dark morning air…as soon as I reached the corner, here was my first view…the Dog and Duck pub having been closed for so long due to Covid restrictions. Two of our 3 lovely pubs currently surviving, one having lost it’s battle to remain in business in the autumn….😔
The sky all around turning a glorious sunset reddy pink….as I crossed the road up towards the church, this side of the village was bathed in a sunset glow. No lights showed in the houses and I wanted to shout to everyone to come and see, wake up and see what you’re missing! But me thinks that might not have gone down very well 😂
The church yard lay silent, its residents the keepers of so many memories.
Along the back lane I trundled through the mud, heavy rain having fallen in the night and left a cascade of misplaced gravel and mud. The skeletons of trees and twigs outlined against the glow
I could feel time was running out so I quickened my hobble to reach the playing fields
Then along the snicket where I could finally catch sight of the rising sun
I stood and watched a while, the sunset fading with each breathe I took before heading home for my morning cuppa…the ducks quacking as they heard my stick approach. But I knew Simon and Peter the Duck man would be along shortly with their first feeds of the day….I’ll go later…
So lunchtime arrived and off I went for my second trundle…the ducks first, able to snap one simply chilling before they saw my arrival
Then another let out an enormous quack, signalling to the others that food was imminent
As soon as I threw the seed into the air the chaos began
Playtime at the duck pond in full swing
Until all my seed was gone and I stood at the edge watching them ducking and diving for the last remnants…
Empty bag in my pocked, I shuffled up towards the church lane, passing by the Shetland pony field. They seemed to have acquired a new resident, there most days now…
Turning into the back lane, Wally posing his cutest pose
I turned left down the never ending lane, knowing I’d only go halfway today
Before retracing my steps, my shadow my constant companion
And time for my next cuppa tea……
My final trundle of the day was hoping to see the sunset. Back along the lane and a squirrel caught my eye in the sheep’s field, digging up long buried nuts..
Carrying straight on to the sunset vantage point, a Robin hopped along the hedge beside me before settling down on a wooden sign
A few feet along another, or was it the same one, hopped on to a nearby branch
As I came to the top of the lane, the sunset was at work, the windmills on the horizon bathed in the different light of the sunset. More an orangey glow at sunset..
Reaching the bottom of the road, crossing over to climb once more and another wonderful viewpoint
Almost at the horses paddock and a gap allows me silhouette the branches against the burning sky
Finally heading home before it got too dark….
One last photo of the day, but that entailed standing in my back garden and capturing the last beauty of the day, the moon, low in the sky so branches lit up in front of it….
From sunrise to sunset in my village……My Fitbit told me I’d done over 20,000 steps that day and my legs told me the same, but oh what a lovely day of trundles I’d had……..how lucky am I…?