HAVING TO TAKE A BREAK

pexels-photo-taking a break for blog

Having written my last post, I said that I would shortly write my next post about my two wonderful trips to a seaside town a little distance away. I was very much looking forward to sharing my experiences with you. However, current difficult circumstances have meant I just haven’t had the time or the concentration to write. Nor, I am sorry to say, have I had the time to read all my fellow blogger’s many posts either. I know I have missed so many and for that, I apologize.

This means that I have to take a break for a little while but plan to be back again before long, and then I’ll start rereading your blogs too.

Should I say … please, bear with me … or … watch this space!?

I’ll be back. Hopefully sooner than later …

Love Ellie Xx ‚̧

CATCHING UP

pexels woman at desk with laptop, diary etc for blog

(Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels)

Just a brief appearance! I haven’t had a chance to post anything for about five weeks – far too long. I’ve been away on holiday, not once, but twice! I’ll write about my adventures in my next post. Since I’ve been back and before I’ve even had an opportunity to unpack my bags, life has been completely flat-out.

All this activity has meant I’m way, way behind on reading my fellow blogger’s posts. When I looked through my email this evening, I could see I’d missed about twenty-two posts from my friends! I will try my best to catch up on as many of these as I can, so please bear with me and accept my apologies.

Thank you, my friends, for your patience – and especially …

https://deepasthoughts.wordpress.com

https://mickcanning.co

https://coherentwithcoffee.com

https://muddlingthroughmymiddleage.com

https://asmuchcake.com

https://gcdiaries.wordpress.com

https://lifeisonewodehousestory.wordpress.com/

I know I will enjoy reading all of your posts as soon as I possibly can.

 

 

HOLIDAYS – HOME AND AWAY

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At the risk of sounding crazy, I’m going on vacation for a couple of days to my hometown. I don’t mean the town where I was born; I mean the city where I now live! I know it sounds like an odd thing to do, but there is a somewhat obscure reason for this.

A friend who I made at my college asked me if I’d like to go down to the coast for a few days. His parents live very near a lovely seaside town which has a beautiful beach, and the local Pavillion Theatre isn’t far away either. I enjoy watching a good play or a show and don’t get the chance very often. I’d have to travel by train, a two-and-a-half hour journey. I’ll be staying in a lovely hotel with disabled facilities, breakfast included (plus the all-essential wi-fi) and a sea view. I’d see my friend for some of the time, and I also want to have a mooch around by myself too. Wonderful!

So, what’s the first trip got to do with the second?

Well … I’m so looking forward to going away to the coast. I’ve not been there for a very long time. In fact, I’ve not been anywhere much (other than back and forth to London when my Mum was sick), and I haven’t had a holiday away from home since, believe it or not, 1985! I’m nervous though because I’m, understandably, entirely unused to sleeping away from the safety and security of my house. I’m worried in case I forget something important. I haven’t packed a suitcase in decades! However, I do want to go.

The fact that I am nervous and relatively scared is the reason for my first trip. I thought, rather than jump in at the deep end and travel away from home, I’d dip my toe in my water and have a weekend in a local hotel in the city I’m already in and am used to. That way, if I forget anything, or don’t like it, I’m only thirty minutes from home. I’m more confident about that and am really quite looking forward to it.

I can’t help wondering what my dear Mum would have said if she were still here … I think she’d say, “you go girl!!” ūüôā

 

(Image courtesy of trip.101.com)

 

DUCKS AND GEESE AND LONG-LEGGED BEASTS!

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Summer is well and truly here in England. The temperature got up to 28 degrees in the shade today (probably hotter in other areas), and it’s set to be even warmer over the next week or two. I’ve never liked being out in the hot sun in the past, but, for some reason, I’m enjoying it this year. I’m not out in it for too long unless I’ve covered myself with factor 50 suncream though.

This afternoon, I walked back home from my church through the park and along the river. I just took in all the beauty of our nature, the bright blue sky with hardly a cloud in it; the green leaves on the trees there and the vast assortment of plants and beautiful flowers growing everywhere. As I walked across the park, I spotted a small group of geese (I think the term is a gaggle of geese). I snapped a photo even though they were a bit distant (below). You can see how dry the grass is – it’s almost yellow – we need a good downpour (preferably when everyone is in bed).

my geese in the park Central Park summer

I watched the water splashing down the weir and flowing into the river, and the ducks bobbing up and down searching for food. Nearby, there were a couple of robins and collared doves pecking for insects in the ground for their lunch.

male & female ducks in water Bing image

It wasn’t so long ago, I spotted a male and female swan with their cygnets (below). There were eight of them and recently, I saw them in the distance with seven babies. It was lovely to know that so many had survived as, being so little, they get attacked easily by bigger creatures.

Swans and cignets (cropped photo) close up

As you know, I don’t usually share photos, but I thought I’d make an exception as I’m enjoying the summer so much this year. Nature is quite stunning, and I’m really struck by its beauty. However, when I got home, I went into the kitchen, and there sitting in the corner of the room, underneath the worktop was the most enormous spider! I’m not a fan! We eyed each other up – he was all hair and long black legs – ugh. [So, what happened to the beauty of nature, I ask?]. It’s not that I hate them; I’d just rather them not be inside my house. As there was no-one there to safely dispatch it to the garden and I couldn’t reach him, I tried staring him out – he won! And I ran (well, wheeled) into the living room. When I went back out later, he’d gone. Where!? I’m worried now … will I have a long-legged ‘friend’ accompanying me to bed tonight?

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Night-night, Harry! Sweet dreams.

 

AN INQUIRING MIND

Psychology Forensic The Justice System

I’ve discovered a new passion, proving that you’re never too ‘old’ or middle-aged in my case, to find new loves (not of the romantic variety either, at least, not in my case). Since being in college, I’ve developed a real interest in learning about new subjects. Nothing unusual about that,¬† but I was denied this opportunity when I was back in High School having been told by my teachers that I ‘wasn’t clever enough’. My current term with my present college ends late this summer, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.

I recently applied to do a new course, at the same college, in Psychology, Forensics and The Justice System, and I found out today that I’ve been accepted. I am so thrilled! It’s only part-time and at an elementary level, but it will give me the experience to decide whether I want to follow this up with a more advanced qualification. The course doesn’t start until next January, and I’m itching to get started already. I wonder whether I’ll finally develop a liking for Judge Judy or Judge Rinder, of television fame.

Not content with that, I want to fill the Autumn Term gap with learning about another interest of mine, a short evening course (now the evenings are lighter), in hearing loss and British Sign Language. Although I don’t have any hearing loss, my Mum, when she was alive, struggled with this. British Sign Language has always fascinated me, ever since I was young when I learned the deaf alphabet on my fingers. It would be good to develop that a bit more. I think I’ll enjoy that.

I do realise that I am very fortunate in having the spare time to follow some of my ‘dreams’. Dreams may seem like a big word when describing something as ordinary as education. However, I’ve never really hanckered after travelling the world, marrying a rich man or becoming Prime Minister. My dream, simply, is to fulfil my potential which was denied to me when I was growing up … so, here I am at very lively age of sixty finally achieving those dreams.

 

 

WATCH ME GO!

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(Image courtesy of indoortrainingbikes.com – Bing Images)

I haven’t said much about trying to improve my fitness at the gym for a good while now. The last post I wrote, WORKING OUT, about it was over a year ago and you can read it here: https://elliethompson.wordpress.com/2017/06/17/working-out/ if you want to find out where I started from. It has been up to now a very personal journey.

When I started out, I wasn’t even able to get changed without the assistance of a carer, who I didn’t have with me at the time. I was lifting pencil-like weights in an attempt to strengthen the muscles in my arms, and then recovering by downing a smoothie in the fitness centre’s cafe. That was about my limit back then.

Since then, I’ve been going a couple of times a week, fitting it in between college, my voluntary work at Uni, living my daily life, leisure times, chilling out etc. I can honestly say that I do thoroughly enjoy what I do (and I know I am lucky to be able to say that now. Those of you who know me from even a year or so back will know that it hasn’t always been like this, particularly from my mental health perspective). I’m not saying that there won’t be other difficult times ahead, but I feel more able to deal with them now.

Going back to my post … my gym training has really paid off, and I’m so pleased it has. I can now get changed by myself in the disabled shower and changing room. I’m much stronger. My arms, which were struggling with small efforts, can now take my weight and I can lift myself up out of my chair which is allowing me to stand more easily. My back and shoulders are straighter and my neck no longer needs a support. Even my legs are getting stronger (after all these years of thinking I couldn’t do it). Finally, today, I reached my first big milestone! I managed (with very little assistance) to get on an exercise bike and I was even able to push the pedals around very slowly. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am! ūüôā My next aim is to walk with the aid of crutches, and what’s more, I know I can get there.¬† You just watch me!! ūüôā

 

 

THE TROUBLE WITH GEORGE

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Having my old tatty kitchen amazingly transformed into a beautiful, new and modern kitchen with units and a gas hob I can reach has meant I can use it independently of my carers. I’ve got a lovely, new electric oven (I have to get used to the temperatures as I’ve only had gas before). I’ve truly found freedom. At first, the novelty of washing-up at my low-level sink seemed attractive! Now I’m not so sure about that bit, but, nevertheless, I’m determined to not to rely solely on my carers, and I thoroughly enjoy cooking.

The next home-improvement project was my patio¬†with a ramp. The word ‘patio‘ is in italics because it is actually built on the base of my newish forget-me-not blue garden shed – see my earlier post which you can find here …¬†MY FORGET-ME-NOT SHED. The poor¬†unfortunate hut became redundant (which is another story!), and was sold for a small sum to a primary school whose sports shed had been burnt down in a horrible arson attack. By rights, I should now be able to get up my ramp, accessing it through the front door, down the side of the house and through the gate – a bit of a long way round, but functional nevertheless. I’d be able to eat, drink and sunbathe up there if I wanted to whenever the weather is good and I have the time.

There is one big hiccup to this story. GEORGE!! Just when I was savouring the prospect of getting a nice suntan (with sun-factor 50 cream), and entertaining guests out there in the sunshine, George (my electric wheelchair for those of you who aren’t yet acquainted) decided to develop a fault. He sits, stubbornly staring at the ramp and refuses to summon up enough energy to climb it. He’s meant to travel at 8mph (no idea what that is in km), but in fact, he’s probably only going at about a fraction-of-a-mile an hour. No good! I imagine it’s the equivalent of an accelerator in a car going – or rather, not going. All this fantastic progress going forward; first the kitchen and new-found independence; and then the patio; and now? Now – my usual trustworthy lump of metal (sorry, George) frustratingly refuses to get up the ramp and embarrassingly slides backwards. I’m going nowhere fast.

Roll on Monday when the mobility repair company come out, and hopefully, give George the kiss-of-life, no doubt at a sizeable cost to me. Needs must.

MAKING TIME

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Spare time is something I used to have lots of, but never made the most of, mostly because I was depressed to go out, or just couldn’t summon up the energy or enthusiasm. Now, it’s a very different situation, I’m pleased to say. In fact, I barely have a minute to spare … I fly from one task, activity, meeting or outing like a demented wasp! It’s a good thing George (my wheelchair) travels at 8mph (not sure what that is in km), or I’d never get to all these appointments and arrangements.

I’m very fortunate in that, although I live in a town, there is a lot of countryside around me, especially where I am near the river. There’s a footpath and cycle track that follow the river’s route into town. It’s a lovely drive, albeit I’m driving fast and concentrating so hard so that I don’t cross paths with an irate cyclist, or a wandering pedestrian come to that. This fast-paced drive allows me to get everywhere I need to be on time. One thing I hate is being late.

However, I’ve realised of late, that I keep myself so busy that I rarely make time to relax or to chill out with my friends. So, today, having made an arrangement yesterday, I spent the best part of the day with a new but close friend. We just sat in a lovely restaurant for hours and hours. We had a coffee earlier on in the morning, and then sat and had a delicious lunch, beautifully cooked and presented. My friend drank wine and I, being a non-drinker, had an amazing strawberry, elderflower and mint cocktail, all followed by more coffee. We talked and talked, we shared secrets, stories of our lives, current times and our early years, sometimes accompanied by a few tears, but always followed by peals of laughter and giggles. We told each other about past relationships, some great and some disastrous. We took photos and sent them to each other, and generally got very silly, but not embarrassingly so, thankfully.

Eventually, we parted company at 4.30pm, having paid rather a large bill, and a generous tip because the waitress was brilliant and the food first-class. We just had the most wonderful day. I came home feeling all happy, relaxed and loved. Today really made me realise the value of making time for the truly enjoyable occasions. It’s just as important to make time to relax, chill and enjoy myself as it is to rush around to all those appointments and events that tend to fill the calendar. We’ll definitely be doing it all again soon.

Strawberry, elderflower & mint cocktail at The Bootmaker

My delicious cocktail.

 

[Top image courtesy of Stock-clip.com]

A NEW START

sideways view girl with hair in bun blog

Yesterday, I was jolted back to my neglected blog which is how come I’m here now after such a long break. I had an email from WordPress telling me that my annual payment was due on my blog plan which happened to be a ‘Premium’ plan. This had given me more options when it came to the look of my blog and the features and widgets that I could use. Unfortunately, my financial position¬†isn’t brilliant, and I’m not able to afford the fee, hence my new look. It’s much simpler which feels quite different, but I think I’ll get used to it.

I’ve also decided to update and replace my gravatar. I’ve chosen a more adult image (above) rather than a picture of a young and rather sorry-looking child (below). This previous image was suitable for my blog when I started writing four years ago.¬†Back then, I was writing mostly about my severe abuse in childhood and all the ensuing serious mental health illnesses I had. Fortunately, I’ve moved on from that period in my life – I don’t feel the need to share all those very distressing life experiences.

lantern girl 1

I want to get myself out the negative mindset I connect with this childish image. Maybe, this will give me the incentive, and added confidence I need to write more positively and frequently. To use a chlich√©d phrase, ‘watch this space’, (but don’t hold your breath either!).¬† ūüėČ

A new start?

 

TEA AND CAKE

Image result for tea and cake

Today is Mum’s birthday … or, perhaps, I should say, ‘it was Mum’s birthday’. As most of you know, I lost my dear Mum a year ago. It’s been hard; very hard at times. I’ve been trying to heal from my pain, but grief is no respecter of time. Some people get over it in a couple of years, some less, but many more never.

I wasn’t sure what to do today. I wanted to do something special in honour of Mum’s birthday. I finally decided to go to a favourite¬†caf√© of mine to have tea and cake because that’s what she would have been doing at teatime today. It’s a quaint place with lace tablecloths under glass tops, sepia photographs on the walls, brass kettles on old-fashioned cake stands and waitress service as opposed to the usual queue up and help yourself.

I asked for a pot of tea, as opposed to a mug or cup as Mum always, always drank her favourite ‘tipple’ poured from the pot. I’m a¬†great¬†coffee drinker whenever I get the opportunity. It wakes me and my tastebuds up and makes me feel almost human, especially in the mornings. I never usually drink tea –¬† But, Mum always drank it, but never coffee. Actually, tea’s not bad – quite refreshing really. I chose a piece of carrot cake, one of my favourites, and Mum’s too, and she would have liked this one as it was homemade. She much preferred ‘the real thing’ as opposed to shop-bought ones.

I’d bought a birthday card, strange though it may seem. Perhaps, to buy a card for someone who is no longer here, in body at least, could be seen as rather odd. I feel Mum is here with me in spirit though and especially today. I sat in the¬†caf√© for an hour, writing my words as if I were talking to her. I can’t send it, of course, but I shall keep it with the rest of the items I have that I was able to keep after she passed away. I thought she would approve of me sitting there, having tea and cake and I told her I loved her and missed her so much. I said that I wish she were here with me. And I did.

As I write this in the evening, I am missing that phone call to say, ‘Happy Birthday, Mum’. I realise that she’s not coming back, and they’ll be no more birthdays or Christmases. In fact, they’ll be no more days at all with my Mum, at least not in this life as I know it, but maybe in the next. I hope so.

Happy Birthday, Mum x