First of all, I’d like to say a BIG thank you to everyone who has bought my calendar so far. I’ve been overwhelmed and humbled at peoples comments and generosity.
For those that missed the original post, I gave myself a challenge during lockdown to create a village calendar in the hope that people would like it! My camera and village helped me enormously through lockdown as I went out each day and trundled round and simply snapped at anything that caught my eye. So these are all my own photos, taken in the month they represent…
The villagers have supported me wonderfully but I’ve opened it up for anyone to buy in the UK. Sadly posting and money transfer was too complicated to oblige any overseas readers.
I broke even on the morning of the village party and sold many at our wonderful gathering. People are the heart of our community and we couldn’t survive as we do without all the wonderful volunteers who give their time to arrange such joyful meetings. I know it wasn’t for everyone, and that’s fine too. It takes all sorts to make a village sparkle and mine has an abundance of glitter.
The Tea and toast at the Methodist church was my next selling venue and it gave me much pleasure to meet new and old friends.
I’ve been round the village delivering on my trundles and it’s been a pleasure to meet everyone and discover where everyone lives. Countless people have kindly come and collected their orders from my house too.
The sales have gone so well that I had to email Chris, the printer in the village, to ask for 2 more boxes! However, these will be my last as I forgot the less I order the more expensive they are so the profit won’t be as much on these ones….So if you still havn’t got one and would like one or more, as many are being put to one side as Christmas presents, then here’s how to contact me:
Include your address. They cost £10 for 1 or 2 for £15. Whichever you choose the postage and packing is the same, so an extra £3.20. You can either pay by bank transfer or cheque, just let me know which is best.
Please remember , all profits will be shared between village groups and my dementia support group, Minds and Voices. So please support me if you’re able
Going to see Philly was a last minute decision. I’d had to decline when she first sent me her free dates but an appointment suddenly being changed, made it possible so it was simply meant to be.
I’m purposely not going to read through my blogs to create my magic moments. Instead, I’m going to write what’s still in my heart and mind.
I’d been to the island once before, apparently just before lock down, but this time it felt familiar, it felt as though the island was wrapping itself around me in one giant welcoming hug, given on its behalf by Philly.
Immediately I landed I felt the same as I do when I arrive in my own paradise of Keswick – that instant calmness and relief of being somewhere special. Just being there felt magical and so special
The fact that I can count Philly as a friend is special, but to have her instantly know how to support me is a bonus. The simple post its on the doors of each room to help navigate, and the easiness in which she lives makes for a truly relaxing start middle and end of my adventure.
Then there’s the weather 🤣😂….I don’t know anywhere else where the weather can change in minutes, where you can see it happening and predict its coming, so quickly. On the mainland, their squally showers would be cause for headlines on the news and front page newspaper stories of:
“Storms sweep across Britain”
Here it’s just a squally shower, with torrential rain and gale force winds, but it’s seen as just a shower. I was in many and within minutes the sun would be drying you out
Next that comes to mind are the glorious beaches..the green blue sea, the air so clean. The beach within walking distance of Phillys house where I ventured out on my own for the first time. The solitariness, the space, yet feeling safe.
A smile comes to my face as I remember the scarf…..under Phillys expert tuition I experience the oldest craft of felting. From small yarn threads that can be separated with ease
….to a strong colourful fabric in only a few hours, the process itself creating magic all on its own
Saying hello to Hock the horse each day. He used to follow us as we walked up the path and wait by the gate or come to the fence for a cuddle
As for the most magical moments…..well immediately the first things that come to mind are the seals. The first would have been enough, meeting Sammy the seal all on his own
But it was as though he was sussing us out, deciding whether we were worthy enough to meet more of his family….and we did……the second time I have 5 in my head for some reason, not sure if that’s correct, but five of his family responded to the high pitched singing
Then the final meeting on the last morning, like the final day of the proms, when 33 came to the bay and sang their beautiful song in response to ours – that moment when I truly felt at one with nature
And they basked on the rocks not fearing our human presence
There were so many other truly wonderful moments, but these have faded and fallen out of my mind, but that’s after all, why I write my blogs, in order to relive them all again when dementia is giving me a bad day; to remind me of what’s possible; of what’s out there waiting for me to relive once more……..
The company of someone who feels just as I do about the surroundings, about seizing the moment while we can makes Philly a very special person. Not often do I find people who love nature as much as I do now, and who will go out in a ‘squally shower’ at the drop of a hat, just because we can…..🤣
Will I do it again, I sincerely hope so. There was one thing that we didn’t see that’s still on my bucket list……the eagle…..and we’ve already planned that moment for the next visit….farewell ’til then, the island with so little yet so much, if only you look…..
It’s been such a strange week. Here we are on Saturday, my flying back to the mainland day, yet it feels like I’ve been here for weeks. We’ve crammed so much in that it’s hard for us both to remember what we did when…..we keep saying:
“Was it only yesterday we did that?” 😳
But all good things must come to an end.
I’ve had the most amazing time on this ruggedly beautiful island. Probably exploring all the same places I went to before, but for me, it was like seeing them for the first time again.
So on Saturday, I woke to find the overnight rain and wind had ceased. Overnight the rain had been lashing onto my window. I’d slept each night with the curtains opened and woke to a flock of geese flying over – natures morning alarm call…..
I’d had a banging head the whole time I’d been here and had woken once more to its familiar grip on my head . But it was simply due to the amount of fun we’d had and I wouldn’t have missed one second. It was a price worth paying.
My morning tea fairy knocked on my door and brought my morning cuppa – I’d been thoroughly spoilt the whole time I was here.
As the day began to dawn and the day get lighter, it was time to rise
After morning toast and tea, Philly asked where I would like to go, to the beach or to see if we could see the seals again…….well the seals got my vote…..and wow….did they put on a show for us.
We left in bright sunshine, up through the back of Philly’s Croft and heading towards the cliff edge and sea for once last trundle….the neighbours sheep glanced curiously at these two colourfully dressed women, with the lighthouse in the background
As we reached the cliffs the morning sun made it all the more beautiful …If you zoom in you can see a little island with a bridge running towards it…..the suns rays glowing above Dun Eisdean, a archeological site built on a sea stack. It was the strong hold of Clan Morrison. It had its own artificial pond for fresh water and lots of buildings from storage to sleeping. The little bridge came after to allow visitors, whereas the original inhabitants would have had to scrabble up the cliffs to reach there shelter.
Philly started singing to the seals to attract their attention and the first at bay we came to, where they don’t usually appear, 5 surprised us by coming to the surface to say hello
We thought that might be it, but then the second bay…….and wow……oh my goodness……Philly saw them first basking on the rock first and as I zoomed in, they all turned round to smile
I was overwhelmed with love for these beautiful creatures and couldn’t stop clicking as Philly showed below…
One after another appeared as we sang to show them we’d come to see them…..
and then even more magical…..they began to sing back to us……❤️❤️❤️…..I’d never heard the sound before. At one with nature and nature at one with us exchanging song ……
They just kept appearing and the final figure we counted was 33 grey seals – their Latin name is ‘halichoerus grypus’ and it means hooked nose sea pig 🤣…….even Philly hadn’t seen that many in one group.We could have stayed for hours, but time was ticking and we could also see the rain approaching. Such is the Lewis weather, that we left an hour ago in perfect sunshine but were heading back through a ‘squally shower’. Now anywhere else, this type of shower would be called a storm, but here, it’s just a shower 🤪
It took my breathe away and was made even more difficult as the wind was straight into our faces.Philly kept having to wait for me as I fought to stay upright 🤣….but we made it in the end and yes, as soon as we went in, the sun shone once more and it was as if it had never happened……..
We arrived back home like the proverbial drowned rats and I had to hope my clothes would dry in the short time before we left for the airport – but they did…
Philly left me at the airport once I’d checked in – to make sure I was leaving the island 🤣 – there was only an hour before take off which passed very quickly and within no time at all boarding was announced. Our little plane stood outside the only door, waiting patiently
The cabin crew helped me on with my case and said she’s keep it with her and promised she wouldn’t forget to give it back 😂…a kind passenger put my stick in the overhead and we were off. it was a bumpy flight but no more so than driving along a bumpy road. The pilot announced at one point that we were doing 325 mph and it was -25 degrees outside…..Took us 45 minutes to reached the mainland; once more back in the land of trees and greeness.
The woman passenger must have overheard I had dementia and got my stick out and reminded me about the stewardess having my case. then helped me along the way back to the terminal before she had to wait for the carousel to churn out the suitcases.
I wanted to try and find the tram, but again paying was complicated, so I just found the bus instead. within 30 minutes we were in Princes street. Supper sandwich bought, I made my way to the Premier Inn Hub – a new venture for them. it’s half the price of normal Premier Inns but has everything you need and brand new. Normal premier Inn bed but in a compact room…looks on the photo that you have to make your own bed 😳 but actually its already made, you just have to throw the duvet over…it’s really not dementia friendly as it took me ages to work out the control panel, but I managed it knowing there were youngsters all around who would help me if need be- some had already helped me with the lift…
Really nice new bathroom..
The only downside is, no tea making stuff in your room 😳 but I was only staying one night and there is free tea and coffee downstairs and you can bring it back to your room….I wouldn’t have been able to manage the check in if the assistant hadn’t come along, but apart from that I was well impressed as the light panel and lighting made it feel very open and bright. However, if your prone to claustrophobia it’s really not for you.
I heard the pings and reminders of my phone going off the next morning, went down for my morning cuppa . I surprisingly didn’t hear the hoardes come back in the early hours.
Soon out into the fresh air after the confines of the hub, the streets of Edinburgh were basking in glorious sunshine
I picked up a cuppa in Greggs, forgetting I’d booked first class, due to it being £1 cheaper than standard 🤣🙄….but it came in handy as the train was there waiting and we could board straight away. I’d had a txt to say the seat reservations weren’t working but I found my seat empty and waiting so all was well in the world….I played my games on my ipad to settle me in and soon the guard announced our departure…
I had to think for a minute or ten when the guard announced which stations we’d be stopping at…….Carlisle😳😳😳….but that’s at the other side of the country 😳. I then checked my ticket and it was going to take 5 hours to get to York instead of the 2-3 🙄….hey ho, at least it will be a change of scenery…..
And it certainly was…….but at last. We got to the right side of the country and reached Newcastle, meaning just 1 hour to York where I had to change 😴 so just over 5 hours since leaving Edinburgh, York arrived…. and I missed a train Hull by 2 mins 🤐 meaning another hour to wait for the next one. I could have gone into York but my head was weary and my back aching from having sat for so long. York station has been revamped and now has a first class lounge so at least I could go and sit, stare aimlessly at the TV and have a cuppa tea.
My last train and it couldn’t come soon enough. Thankfully Stuart was picking me up at Brough which saves me another hour on the train.
As I settled into my little house,, suitcase unpacked, staring out at the paddock, it felt like the whole thing was just a wonderful dream…….but then the camera never lies
As for the felt scarf I made which will hang next to Cat Bells in my house, the colours of the sea on one side and the sunrise on the other ❤️ I was quite pleased with my first effort of felt making 😇
Finally home and looking back makes me sigh with total satisfaction. I’d had the most magical time…..thank you Philly for allowing me to share your piece of paradise….
After an actioned pack day the day before, surely we couldn’t top it on my final full day….or could we…?
Well actually the day before didn’t stop where I thought we’d ended……..
We’d both gone to our rooms exhausted but happy after the wonderful day we’d had. Sleep was almost upon me when a heard my name being called…..😳…..Little did I know but Philly has an app which alerts her to the presence of the Northern lights over the island 😳….
She’d had messages from islanders to say they’d seen them, so I jumped out of bed, wondering what on earth to put on. In the end getting dressed was far too complicated so put my fleece on over my jamas, then my coat, forgot my stick, went back for stick, forgot my shoes, put on shoes…..both of us like stumbling mad people, we eventually made it, Philly leading the way to the car by torchlight.
We got to the headland near the sea. It was such a clear starry night yet raining 🤔….looking up the stars were so stunningly clea Venus the brightest one so obvious….we thought we could see the edge of the Northern lights, a shimmering every now and then on the horizon, but we must have missed the main display as no real colour appeared.
We headed home just happy that we’d tried, now cold and wide awake 🤣 – is their no end to the spectacles on this island?
Anyway, sleep must gave overtaken us and within no time it was morning….tea and toast watching the pouring rain outside…….
It was then Philly said.
“Maybe we’ll stay in for a couple of hours, do you want to help me make a hat or a scarf”?
🤣 no-one’s ever said that to me before 😂….Philly is a talented crafter and felting is one of her many crafts, she is now venturing into hat making….the heads on her window took me by surprise when I first came here but she made all the hats
We then decided on making a felt scarf……felt is the oldest person made textile. It first developed around Mongolia where they say people put sheep’s wool in their shoes for warmth and to waterproof them. They also made their huge tents out of felt……😳wow…
Under Philly’s instructions I created the layers. I’d decided on sea colours for one side
and sunset colours for the other…
Once the layering was complete we folded the net around it for the next stage..
But then the sun came out 🤣 and we decided we couldn’t waste it indoors so trundle over to the bird hide….The field around it is called a Machiar- a fertile low lying grassy plains. It’s one of the rarest habitats in Europe and made mostly of crushed sea shells which are blown ashore by the storms. It has an amazing amount of wild flowers – roughly 40 species per square metre – as Philly described it:
“An orchestrel succession of beauty’
Her friend was already in the hide and luckily an expert and could tell us what we were looking at. I kept missing things 🙄 but I did catch the Heron looking so fragile on it’s thin legs carrying such a weighty body
A lone signet who has been left by its parents and siblings and still learning to fly. It keeps being found on the beach or away from the reservoir as it practices its flying and then can’t get back and the RSPB keep having to return it 🤣😍
Lots of tufted and grebe were swimming around and occasionally pink footed geese would take off and land in a nearby field – whereas our geese back home might migrate south, these actually migrate to the Isle of Lewis from Iceland!
We walked back home across the Machiar as it was time for lunch – home made soup and toast with veggies from the garden that we picked last night 😍
After lunch, we looked at the scarf, looked at the sunshine and decided the scarf could wait a while for the next stage. We went out the back door, up through the Croft behind Philly’s house and through the common land to the cliffs and sea
It was such spectacular views
Philly had said there might be more seals in one of the bays and as we approached we could see their heads bobbing in the water ❤️
Altogether I think we counted 9 of these gorgeous creatures. The sea was so clear I could see their flippers and bodies beneath the ocean
I was overwhelmed with joy that Sammy seal, who’d we’d seen alone the other day had rallied his family and friends and they’d all come to see us. I did ask them to line up for a family photo but they didn’t oblige…..
I could just have stayed their all day watching these inquisitive creatures, but it was blowing a cold gale so we had to move on. There were so many sea birds clinging to the rocks
And oyster catchers flying onto the cliff top ahead of us
Wherever you looked it was just full of life and with the sun shining the scenery around looked just stunning.
We were heading for Philly’s swimming beach where we’d met Sammy seal, but this time on foot not in the car. We reached the edge and looked down into the greens blue sea below
Such a lovely bay…..
As we made our way inland again, we could see the afternoon rain approaching. Almost home and we decided to go inside the tiny 12th Century church. it was here they used to take ’mad’ people, tie them up, lay them on the cold concrete floor and then leave them overnight. If they’d survived the night they were suppose to be cured of their ’madness’. Thankfully we’ve come a long way in our treatment of people with dementia since then…
We needed 25 more minutes to get home dry and we just managed it with a minute to spare as the heavens opened. Fire lit, cuppa tea in the pot and a slice of lemon cake, we watched the downpour from the cosyness of inside.
Now it was time to finish the process of turning wool into a felt scarf………
The layers I’d created before going out were now soaked with hot water and soap flakes. You had to press and rub the creation to make the fibres stick together. Turn it over and repeat…then a little round contraption was used to rub the fibres even closer together, again repeating on the other side, before neatening the edges and pressing again.
Now it time to roll it round a rolling pin and beat it even more by rolling hard before unravelling and the felt was created.
Washing in hot, then cold water, shocks the piece and rinses the soap out. After squeezing all the excess water out, it was ready to hang on the radiator and dry.
I’m going to hang it in my house turning it occasionally to have the sea and sunrise whenever the fancy takes me. But what a transformation from strands of wool to a complete solid piece of felt….this ancient art lives on…….
Apologies in advance for a verrry long blog….but we did soooo much yesterday…..and you won’t have to wait until Monday to read about it…
The banging head was inevitable this morning. We did so many wonderful things, called at so many wonderful places. I wouldn’t have missed any of it as we had to make the most of the sunshine in Lewis as yesterday I woke to the Lewis I remember….grey and blustery…
My room has a wonderful view of space. But today the clouds were heavy with rain and the wind had strengthened – that’s the view I remember from last time I was here. As we toured the island yesterday, I remarked how they aren’t any semi detached houses, each house has its own bit of land so space around is normal…so to look out and have space around you is so openly wonderful.
We’d planned to stay local today. I’d been awake some time, tapping on this when Philly knocked on my door and brought me a cuppa. Can’t remember the last time someone brought me a cuppa in bed, probably Philly when I was here last 🤣
A little while later after a shower, Philly tempted me to eat by offering toast ….works every time as it’s the one food I love and can’t make myself as I’m lethal with a toaster 🤣……we poured over our photos and shared news of each of our calendars as Philly won a competition for one of her photos to be in the local calendar and it’s stunning of her local beach 😍
The weather was still windy and rainy but we decided to venture out anyway as it’s a shame to waste precious time just because of the weather. We drove to the lighthouse.
I remembered seeing loads of birds there last time but the wind was so strong I couldn’t hardly keep my hand still enough to click 😂….there were lots of shags on the rock edges
The sea pounding the rocks as gannets flew teasingly close but not still enough for me to get a close up shot……and more shags just blending into the rocks
and others watching the waves crash against the rocks
Back to the car, out of the rain and just down the road was our next stop, Philly’s favourite swimming bay
Just heaven to watch and listen to the raging sea……and then something magical happened…..a small black blob bobbed towards us…..Philly saw him first and I zoomed in, rain or no rain
An adorable seal all by itself so inquisitive to know about these 2 characters standing on the beach calling to him. Apparaently if you sing in a high pitched voice they will come towards you, and he did!…..he kept dipping down and bobbing back up again….
This adorable creature stayed with us for as long as we were prepared to be battered by the wind and rain and as we turned our backs to make our way back up the cliffs so did he bob up once more to say goodbye……❤️
Nothing else could have topped that, it had made my day, but as we looked at our watches we realised it was only 10am 🤣…..we went next to the bird hide but sadly it was locked, which was very strange as its never been locked before – they must have known I was coming 😂…..
Outside and back to the car we suddenly saw a buzzard sitting on the fence……shame about the fence but the buzzard was wonderful
Philly has even seen eagles here so I’ve asked her to invite one over to land in her garden 🤪…but you never know….
We decided we were wet and cold enough for now so toddled off home for a hot chocolate and a cuppa tea.
Such is the weather on the island that high winds and rain one minute can soon be replaced by calm…🤞
The weather cleared once more and off we set, this time on foot to another of Philly’s favourite nearby beaches – Eoropia – ……but as we left the house, Hock, the horse came over to say hello as it lives in the field next door
It’s a beautiful spotted horse called Appaloosa…..so friendly and gentle but liked Philly more than me 🤣….
Hock followed us as we walked all the down to the end of his field before stopping and allowing us to go on our way. It was a short 15 minute walk to the most wonderful beach
Again the simplicity and softness of the dunes contrasted by the rugged rocks that surround it.😍
Two turnstones (I think), ran across the edge of the shoreline looking for any tasty morsel
We walked along to one side then back again
As we began to head up the beach towards home, we looked behind and saw the rain heading our way again so quickened our step. We were almost home as the rain band caught us up and thankfully were inside having homemade soup and toast as the rain hammered down outside …..
I decided to go for a lie down as Philly had some work to do and my head needed a rest, but an hour later I poked my head up from under the duvet to find brilliant sunshine outside 😳
I jumped up and told Philly I’d try and find Eoropia beach again, only this time on my own.
I couldn’t believe the grey skies had turned to blue so quickly again, but that’s what happens here with the weather. You have to be prepared for anything.
I said hello to Hock again and again he followed me down as far as his fence would allow. I’d made a mental note on the previous walk of landmarks so was able to find the beach with only one hiccup but that was because I was concentrating on the scenery instead of where I was going 🙄
This time I remembered to take a piccie of the stone bench someone had built
The beach was bathed in sunshine, the grey skies replaced by blue..
The waves looked more powerful as I made my way to the sea edge…
I could see a walker on top of the headland in the distance…..
I then bent down to try and get closer to the sand……
Then turned and saw my shadow on the sand…..and was so mesmerised by this and taking a piccie that I didn’t realise how close the tide had come…..as it washed over my shoes, taking me by surprise 🤣
Chuckling to myself, I turned again and saw the squalls of rain heading towards us again, but the sun came out again so I was snapping away at the sea crashing against the rocks and the spray sending mist above
So busy clicking that I’d forgotten the approaching squall….. the rain was suddenly upon me so I was drenched once again by the time I’d reached home and only one wrong turning, but this time was due to my hood being held up over my eyes to protect me against the horizontal rain 🤣
Philly was on a zoom when I got back so time enough to type away at this….once she’d finished, as if by magic, the rain had stopped and the sun was shining so we took the opportunity to set off for out fourth and final trundle of the day, this time a short drive to the Port of Ness.
…where another beautiful bay lays waiting for you
The sun was just going down over the rocks behind us
We wondered along the beach trying to work out if the tide was coming in or going out and we had to keep watch in case it was coming in, otherwise we would have been cut off and had to climb the rocks 😳🤣
We saw what we thought was a grebe ducking and diving in the waves. Each time I clicked it dived just before so I had lots of piccies of the sea 🤣….but eventually I managed one, not clear but at least we could see it and when we got home and did more research and asked on a bird forum, we decided that it was a red throated diver – a rare breeding bird in north west scotland 😇
After walking up and down, I was beginning to flag….we’d filled the day with wonderful things again. At the top of the path the café, with huge windows overlooking the sea was still open, so it would have been rude not to have a cuppa.
Sat inside, watching the tide, the greenness of the sea was more noticeable. A feather we’d found on the beach lay on the table ready to take home. A lovely way to end another fun packed day
Now several times today as I’ve been writing my blog each time we arrived home, I’ve been thinking it’s the end, no more outings and each time the sun shone and we went out again 🤣…..but we had supper and REEEALy thought we were in for the night…..until the sun set,,,,and this was out of the window…..so one last step outside….
Dementia has brought me the most amazing new friendships; so strange that something so tragic can build and open up new avenues. Lots of my new friends are living with dementia but many aren’t. Many are academics whose unlikely alliance I now cherish, others because we have lots in common. One of those is Philly.
Philly now lives on the beautiful Isle Of Lewis, one of the islands at the top left hand side of Scotland. We both love the outdoors and everything nature has to offer us. And that’s where I’m off to just for a few days to soak up this rugged landscape with all it’s bird life and scenery ….
But first, an overnight stay in Edinburgh as the trains don’t match the flight times…..
As soon as I awoke Tuesday morning, I could sense a special sunrise. I’d almost missed it, but caught it out of my window
I showered and dressed and immediately went out for an early morning trundle to start my day off well as my head was banging from the Tea and Toast of the previous day. The village Newsletters had been put through my letterbox the previous night. I deliver 20 of them and so decided I’d trundle there first.
It was a real cold autumn morning, it took me by surprise. But the sky was lovely.
My round is on the Main Street and ends at the duck pond, so up and down drives I went, clicking as I went
I don’t envy our postman having to grapple with some of the letterboxes. Some stiff and hard to open, others snapping at your fingers. I suppose he knows exactly which is which…
All delivered, the pond quiet until they saw me and then disappointed quacks were heard as I hadn’t brought them some breakfast 🤣… a heron lay in wait for any fish that might pop to the surface, not that he had much chance today, far too cold
The ducks were giving him a wide berth and were sheltering round the island
He saw me coming and immediately flew off to the other end
But then realised breakfast wasn’t being served at the pond today so took flight to feed elsewhere
Just a short walk today, up through the house, then along the back lane to the church. The Shetland ponies have finally been brought back to the village after their field was treated. They only came back yesterday, but it was like they’d never been away. Ginger stood waiting by the fence for his breakfast too.
Just as I was approaching home I looked up into the sky and saw the moon was staying up to see what the day time was like
Head still banging but happy I’d made the effort. I went home to finish packing…..
My taxi driver arrived on time and ,as usual, asked where I was going….
“Western Isles of Scotland” was my reply……
She did a double take, expecting me to say York or Keswick, then laughed her socks off….🤣….
“You’ve done everything I’ve ever wanted to do and more, all since you’ve had dementia”
The first train was to York and it took all the alertness I had to stay on at Hull, as I usually get off there and travel by bus to York 😳….all I wanted to do was to close my eyes and lie down. This was not the time for my head to misbehave 🙈
York appeared in a blur. I really don’t remember going through the stations. It was a good job York was the end of the line me thinks 🥴…
I’d managed to book first class as the tickets were £1 cheaper than standard, which makes no sense at all, but worked to my benefit.
I was able to have a hot ciabatta for lunch which would do me through the day, which meant I wouldn’t have to find an M&S when I got there for my supper.
I was glad to have a seat to myself so the need to chat to fellow passengers didn’t exist as I don’t think I would have been able to concentrate. The east coast journey is so beautiful along the coast that I was happy to tap away on my ipad for a while and then just admire the scenery
Darlington, then Durham, where I’d spent so many trips doing research with Professor Jan
It was nice to see the cathedral and castle once more from the train….
As we approached Newcastle, crossing the bridge, the skies became dark with the rain filled clouds and the heavens opened a few times
As we left Newcastle I knew we’d be heading for my favourite part of the journey with the sea in view….speeding through Morpeth and the other smaller stations, as we went through Almouth, I was expecting the rugged east coast to appear….the normal views I was picturing never emerged 😳. Slight panic welled up inside as field after field came and went with no sign of the sea 😳 Had I missed it? No, surely not, I’d been watching and waiting for it, banging head or not……
Then suddenly, out of the blue, the landscaped I’d been expecting earlier arrived
I’d just remembered it in the wrong place……AND breathe……it stayed with us mile after mile just as I’d been waiting for…although on the train it’s over and back to land far too quickly 🙄
Fleeting glimpses of bird life on the rugged rocks leading down to the sea, or maybe that was wishful thinking….
About 4 hours after leaving York, the train pulled into Edinburgh….I almost went out the wrong way, but something somewhere told me it was wrong, so I stopped and had a think ….then found the right exit onto Princes Street. I was staying at a Premier Inn and I’m sure there’s about 10 in the centre, but luckily the hotel had provided simple to follow instructions…trouble was I kept getting distracted and taking piccies 🙄
So inevitably I took a wrong turn🙈. I retraced ny steps and started again, this time finding it. I checked in, dumped my stuff, then quickly went back out to suss how to get to the airport…I intended to catch the tram but when I got to a stop I couldn’t work out what to do 🙈 Time for another piccie to calm down…..
Feeling a tad deflated, with no one around to ask, I made my way back to the hotel to try and look online…but as I crossed one road I saw an airport bus at the side of the road. Thankfully the driver was smiley and told me they all start from there and run every 15 minutes and you pay on the bus – result …forget the tram …one last piccie to celebrate this time
I made the last few hundred yards feeling much more confident and then my phone pinged ….it was the airline 😳….saying my flight was delayed before the morning had even come 🙈….nothing I can do. I’ll sort that out when I need to….after a sleep…..
Last Thursday was my final full day and I decided to make it a bus trundling day…..I’d looked through the bus timetable and found a bus from Penrith that would take me to Pooley Bridge. I’d passed through it on the Penrith to Windermere bus but never stopped there and wanted to see Ullswater lake, the second largest lake in England according to the guide books and where the old fashion steam boats were. However Mr Google tells me it’s the 4th biggest 🤪……anyway it’s big – It’s a ribbon shaped lake, 7.5 miles long and 3-4 miles wide…….. it’s always looked inviting when I’ve passed through
But first I had to get to Penrith, which was easy enough as it’s the same bus I take to the station and always leaves at 20 past.
I got to the station in plenty of time only to find no-one waiting for the Penrith bus which was really unusual. I stood for a while, then glanced at the times on the lampost only to find to my horror that this one left at 08.55😳 it took me a while of staring to realise I’d missed it🙄
I sat for a while on the bench to squash my disappointment, my head feeling empty and lost at a solution but then I saw the Windemere bus arrive and thought maybe I could do the trip the other way round. afterall I’d never done this one before so the only thing to spoil were my original plans. I decided to get on the bus and work it out from there.
As i settled into my front upstairs seat i took the timetable out for Pooley Bridge and instead of starting at Penrith, started at the other end, Windemere. It all seemed to slot into place even though it would all happen much later and hopefully before the rain arrived.
Although I’d checked the timetable for Pooley, it never occurred to me to check the one to Penrith as it always left at 20 past……accept the one at 08.55 🙈
Anyway, the bus ride is always lovely with amazing scenery to while away the time
As we reached Grasmere, home of Wordsworth’s Daffodil Garden, I saw the open top bus which was also going to Windermere. Hopped off mine and went upstairs on that one. It was breezy but mild. There was a gorgeous spaniel sat across from me loving the wind in his fur
We passed by Rydal water – always snap the single tree on the little island close to the bank
Derwentwater is low at the mo and so was this one
Into busy Ambleside and pass by the smallest house – one up one down…
Then on towards Windemere – the largest lake in England, with the start of the lakearound Ambleside..
As we reached Windemere station, I had an hour to spare before my next bus, so decided to stay on the open top down to Bowness. Here I got off and went to my favourite deli and ordered my baguette for supper….there was a long queue so by the time I came out it was time to head back to the bus stop, passing by a very shiny Austin Healey, which I always thinks has a lovely big smile…..
Back to the bus station and within minute the Pooley bus arrived. I asked the driver if he could tell me when we’re there as I’d never gone this way before. His look said:
“I’m fed up of tourists”
I smiled, and asked ‘or will it be obvious?” and all he said….
“We’ll go over a big bridge and they’ll be lots of people, then you’re there”
He wasn’t grumpy just on a downer day with tourists……so instead of relying on him, I just followed the bus time table mentally ticking off the stops.
Troutbeck followed by the baron and beautiful Kirkstone Pass that only comes to life as you reach the only Inn for miles. Then a few miles down the road, Ullswater Lake came into view at Patterdale, where it starts, followed by Glenridding, where I almost got off as it looked very friendly, then Park Brow where I saw a sign for waterfalls and almost got off again. My brain and body just don’t work quick enough and by the time I’ve thought of it the bus has started again 🙄
Finally we reached Pooley bridge. Yes, we did go over a bridge, a very new one as I found out later. In fact it only open last year….
I got off and immediately felt lost and wanted to go back to Keswick, but the next bus to Penrith wasn’t for an hour so I had to mooch around. I suppose it was because of its unfamiliarity. I didn’t feel safe tootling down inviting lanes as I do in Keswick. So I just kept to the Main Street, first crossing the new bridge to look at the river which runs into the lake
We’d passed the Steamer launch on the bus, so I carried on round the corner and came to a viewing point
Then the steamer launch. It wasn’t a very friendly place, the signs saying, you have to book online and before 9am of the day you want to have a ride. No turning up if the fancy takes you, no smiley man at the desk. Felt very cold, so I just left.
A couple more photos later….
……And I was back where I started. There was still 20 minutes for the bus, so I got myself an ice cream and sat on the wall watching the world go by. It’s probably a lovely favourite place for many, just as Keswick is for me, but I just wanted to get back to my paradise……I also remembered I don’t like ‘big’ and Ullswater is big, just like Windemere. I prefer the coziness of Derwentwater. Just as I’ve never yearned to climb big mountains; Cat Bells, Walla Crag being perfect for me. My youngest daughter, Gemma, always likes ‘small’, miniature items and I’m the same.
As I’m looking through my days photos as I’m writing this blog, the ones at Pooley Bridge, bring no emotion, yet as soon as I get to the Keswick ones, my smile returns…..
A couple of hours later and 2 bus rides, I was finally ‘home’. It instantly felt better, wrapping me in a large welcoming hug. After dropping my supper off in my room, I knew if I sat down I’d be in for the ramainder of the day. Instead I went straight out for my last visit to Friars Crag.
The bench was empty and waiting for me
This is where I belong I thought, as I sat and simply stared
I could see the rain clouds rolling in across Borrowdale in the distance. Cat Bells would be there for me next month when I’m here
The familiar, that’s what I have to have now, the familiar……it had been a glorious week, but as I got back to my room, it was as though the weather knew I was leaving; spots of rain splattering my window and the view gently being rubbed out by the approaching clouds…as if the weather was weeping at my departure…or was that me…..
A wonderful few days in paradise. Wonder which fell I will climb next time….?
I said in yesterdays blog how Covid has done me a favour by allowing me time to walk 5-10 miles a day, therefore building up my fitness. I also mentioned the seed of an idea of walking up Walls Cragg once more, something I thought I would never do again. But after the effort of having to climb Cat Bells for my paraglide, the seed was beginning to flourish and the possibility a reality. The one thing I had to have was the same map as me and Sylvia used to use when we climbed.
It was years old so I wasn’t sure I would find it. I scoured the shops the day before. All I could find at first was updated versions which took you the other way round and it didn’t make sense to me. I needed the bright cheerful yellow one that told me to look out for landmarks….I’d almost given up when I went into a newsagents and there they were. The Original pack of 5 and the one I wanted tucked nicely inside.
Now I had no excuse not to try 🤩
The morning arrived after weird dreams of decorating Appletrees for Christmas 😳🤣. I never sleep well while I’m away; different bed, different sounds all contributing to me waking every few minutes, or that’s what it feels like 🙄 But finally pulling my curtains back made up for it and filled me with enthusiasm for the day
Map in hand I set off straight after breakfast. The town is relatively quiet at this time as I started at Moot Hall, just as the instructions said and made my way up towards the church and the first right hand turn. It wasn’t long before I became disorientated; these once familiar roads now reducing my sense of direction to confusion. But as I looked across the field I could see the familiar snaking path of Cat Bells in the distance giving me a sense of comfort
Already I needed help by the map as I reached two forks in the path. It told me to head for the gate that would lead into the wood, passing by the familiar farm hut where an image appeared of me and Sylvia sat having an ice cream outside.
The route becoming familiar with each word I read on the bright yellow map.
“With the stream on the left hand side, follow the stony path up to the landmark transmitter”
The reason I like this map is it tells me the sounds and sights to look out for – landmarks I can identify and follow. The sound of water in my left ear as I climbed the ever increasingly steep slope through the wood
The stream wasn’t visible but clearly audible, every now and then a clearing revealing the stream below, twisting and winding down the hill. I don’t remember such sheer drops but probably the ground has eroded, so extra care had to be taken and my eyes firmly on my boots in some areas.
The path got steeper, strategic gaps allowing me to see Derwentwater below and also the opportunity to catch my breathe.
Many would say, what’s the big deal? It’s an easy walk and I used to think that but hopefully not say it 🤔 I hadn’t realised how unfit I was before Covid. I thought I couldn’t do certain things for other reasons. I’d never experienced being unfit in my life before so I didn’t know what it felt like. I didn’t associate not being able to do certain things, like climb Walls Crag, with being unfit. Dementia had convinced me I couldn’t or I shouldn’t and wasn’t capable anymore. I might become disoriented or get lost it told me. But now I’ve got the upper edge since lockdown made me fitter. Before I’d try, fail and not bother trying which ended up with me not being fit; a vicious circle until Covid came along.
I can often hear voices, blowing across the fells in the wind. I’m never sure if they’re real or not but they’re not frightening. It’s a comfort to know there maybe people nearby. All I’d seen so far are fell runners storming down the rocky paths.
My own sense of direction used to take me along the right path automatically but as I look around I’m lost again, no sense of where I am or which direction to head. I felt a bit lost on the map when suddenly I saw some people in the distance and decided to follow them.
They soon went out of sight, much quicker than me, but a man was coming up behind me, so I decided to let him pass and follow him. And so it went on until I found my place on the map again.
This continual incline was becoming to tell on my legs and my breathing was getting harder. I had to resort to counting 50 steps, then taking a rest allowing my breathe to slow down once more.
I found the swing gate identified on the map and turned in. I hadn’t reached the summit yet but the views were spectacular
The steeper it got, my counting reduced to 20 steps, then taking a break. Rocky footpaths banked by swathes of purple heather. Once again the path seemed narrower and the edge to my right revealing the sheer drop beneath. Over one hump, thinking I was there only to find another steep climb ahead 😳….
The continual uphill walk had now reduced me to a snails pace, but I was sure it wasn’t far to go now. I could see and hear people on the summit ahead of me
As I began to climb the last few rugged rocks, now on all fours, my stick hanging from my wrist and clattering at my side, I suddenly lost my footing. A sharp sting to my cheek and arm as I clutched my camera with my left hand. I’ve fallen into the jagged rocks. My arm taking the brunt of the fall, my face following behind as I tried to protect my camera 🙄🤣🤪. Luckily my camera was fine 🥵….which is more than could be said for my face and arm 🙄
My heart was racing and I stopped a moment for it to regain its composure – shaken and very much stirred.. Out of the silence came more voices, this time from people at the top. Just a few more steps and I was there. Pain forgotten, I climbed up the last few steps. I’d done it 🤩 As I stood looking at the view, my heart calmed immediately. I found the rock I always sit on and studied the view
And what a view…..
A kind man took a photo of me to celebrate the moment. He was with his wife and children and had just asked a man before me to do the same.
As I looked at the instructions I began to feel confused as they didn’t make sense. They spoke of taking me back to the car park below, but I wanted to go to Ashness Bridge. I realised the map was only to Walla Crag. Whether me and Sylvia had simply known the way before, I’m not sure. I could see the family going down the hill and decided to follow them in the hope of not losing them
The path, in fact was clearly marked in the main and I could see roughly where I was heading so I felt confident enough to pass them by as they pointed out Cat Bells to the children
The views continue to be wonderful.
Eventually I could hear the water running under Ashness Bridge. This idyllic little bridge with so many memories
I crossed the narrow road and stood on the bridge watching the water tumbling down the rocks
Then headed down underneath to watch it coming through the opening
Heading down the steep hill down to the main road, I felt the sweat dripping down my face. It was at this point an imagine popped into my head of a present Pip had bought me – a roll up water bottle, that I said I would bring with me to make sure I drank on long walks. Very good idea, but only if you remember to pack it 🙄….sorry Pip 🙈
As I reached the main road, crossed and went down the steps towards the lake, I suddenly felt disorientated again. I needed to go the wrong way round the lake. I always go the other way when I’m walking round it and now it felt all wrong and unfamiliar
I reasoned with myself that if I kept the lake on my left I’d get there eventually. The distraction of seeing mummy duck and her two ducklings took my mind off the disorientation. Not what I was expecting to see 😂
I just couldn’t get my sense of where I was. Through woods with enormous ancient trees reaching for the sky….
…..I needed to find a landmark and within 20 minutes or so, there it was, Milenium stone and further round, through the trees, Millennium bench
Now I relaxed as I knew where I was. About 45 -60 minutes before I’d be back in my room having a well earned cuppa tea…..
Today I learnt that dementia can play tricks with your confidence. It truly convinced me I could no longer climb my favourite fells and by doing so convinced me ‘I couldn’t’. It also convinced me I could no longer walk into town or to Folley lake at home. But luckily Covid came along, gave me time to improve my fitness and now I CAN do all 3……….Wendy 1 Dementia 0 🙌
I really don’t know whether this will work as I’ve never known how to include a video before 🙄 but here goes at a try. Because as you read this I’ll be on a train somewhere hopefully calmly heading for my paradise of Keswick once more.
I know I’m sooo lucky to be able to go every month but it does so much good for my spirit and, as you know, I adore it.
Anyway, fingers crossed this works for you all – it did when I previewed it. You may have to log into Onedrive to view it, but it’s free.
The little video I’ve included is showing the start of my paraglide with Josh and the take off. Soooooo, just click on the words below after it says – Read on ……..🤞
I usually automatically remember this anniversary but this year it was going to pass me by unnoticed until I got a txt from my daughter…..
It’s also my other best friends birthday – happy birthday Julie! And thankfully I didn’t forget that thanks to reminders.
You see, today July 31st 7 years ago I received that devastating diagnosis of dementia. If I’d have believed the medics, my life was over. But unbeknown to me then, that devastating diagnosis opened up a new world, obviously not one I would have chosen, but still a wonderful world with lots of new wonderful friends I call my playmates; with people like Innovations in Dementia who enable and encourage us. To all of them I say, thank you 🙏
But what fun I’ve had in 7years…..yes, every day is a struggle, every day dementia reminds me of its presence, yes it’s a bummer of a diagnosis BUT if all you see are the negatives what a waste of the life there is still waiting to be lived!
Here’s just some of my highlights I found as I flicked through my photographs this morning….the detail has long vanished from my mind, but the emotions the images stir are still there…
In 2016 I moved to my wonderful village with all its beauty, all its characters and all its love – I couldn’t believe the date when I saw that as I thought I’d only been here a couple of years 😂
In 2017 I went up in a glider – a birthday present from my lovely daughters and Stuart
AND later that year walked on fire for charity
2018 was another special year as that was the year my book was published in hardback, meaning I’d already had a year of the lovely friendship of my partner in writing, Anna Wharton….
2019 the paperback version of my book was released
AND I became Dr Dr thanks to Hull and Bradford Universities
AND I did my tandem parachute jump for charity..
2020 will become known as the year we all hibernated due to Covid, BUT that enforced hibernation allowed me to write my second book with Anna and is due out next January….more on that in the autumn…..
Which bring us to this year, 2021…..when my latest adventure was my tandem paraglide
So you see, good can come out of bad, but it won’t happen automatically, you have to go out and search for adventures, search for life. There are so many things I can’t do now that I can no longer list them, but I never dwell on them. I have no control over what I can’t do. Instead I focus on having adventures today and if today is a bad day…..tomorrow may be better….
Moral of the tale – never give up on yourself, no matter what people say to you, let them do that if they so wish. Believe in yourself and you can do anything you want……..