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)

 

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

 

 

HAPPY DAYS

seaside beach

Today was such a contrast to the days of the last two weeks … and thank goodness for that! I thought it was going to be a Tuesday just like any other Tuesday, but this week, my friend, Harri (short for Harriet), and I decided to take off to the beach or as us, British say, ‘the seaside.’¬†The weather was glorious and a perfect day for a drive down to the coast. We set off first thing in the morning and arrived at our destination by lunchtime.

As is the tradition amongst my family and friends, the first one to spot the water in the distance, declares excitedly, “I can see the s-e-a; I can see the s-e-a.” On this occasion, it happened to be me, and I was thrilled, you could easily have taken me for a five-year-old child!

We parked along the front, which isn’t easy during the school summer holidays but I am at an advantage in that I hold a Disabled Parking Badge. This enables Harri to get my manual wheelchair out of the boot of the car, and then me from the car into the chair which is an art in itself.

We’re not able to go down to the actual sand with my wheelchair as it¬†clogs up the motor, so we decided to go to our favourite cafe which is positioned¬†directly above the water when the tide is almost¬†in. Surprisingly at that time of day, it wasn’t too crowded. So, we sat by the glass windows which were open with a warm breeze drifting in.

We ordered a coffee each, alongside scrambled eggs on delicious, doorstep toast finished off with a sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper. We watched a group of very absorbed photographers snapping away at a tall, slim and young male model walking along water’s edge, nonchalantly tossing pebbles into the waves.

A little more time went by and we decided to have another coffee and a small piece of cake each. I had a homemade Bakewell tart and Harri had a chocolate brownie. Delicious! We sat and chatted about this and that and life in general and at times got engrossed deeply in some quite fascinating and absorbing conversation.

Eventually, after we had almost talked ourselves out, we thought about leaving, but then at the last minute,¬†decided it was getting late, and somehow we were peckish again¬†(must have been the sea air). We then finished our feast off by sharing a bucket of freshly-cooked fries which were very enjoyable (and when I say bucket, I don’t mean as in the size of a child’s bucket and spade, but one of about six or seven centimetres high.)

Finally, just to finish off a lovely day, we walked along the front, which was breezy but pleasantly warm, to a small, summer hut which sold seaside rock and ¬†cinnamon doughnuts (which we couldn’t possibly indulge in after the treats we’d had at the cafe.) However, just to remember our very much enjoyed, carefree day, we splashed out on a typical, British seaside children’s windmill each; Harri bought a classic stick of rock for her friend’s son, and I invested in summer straw hat. It had a somewhat squashed but nevertheless, beautiful peach coloured flower on the brim.

Happy days! ¬†ūüôā

CHAMELEON SKIN

 

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She is what she is … or is she, indeed?

She’s perplexed, befuddled, embroiled

Lost her mind along enmeshed journeys

She belongs, does she not to this world?

~~~

Is she real or a trickster, a fraud inside?

Not knowing her mind, too caught up in lies

Or perhaps, revealing her open wounds

You win some, you lose some, just look in her eyes

~~~

She’s not without fear though she’s scared of the thrill

The rollercoaster won’t come to an end

She writes her life’s story in ink, so black

You may wonder how her thoughts are penned

~~~

Innocence seen, and innocence gone

A fight in a nightmare; she holds her breath

The howls can be heard from far away

Will she ever return from the brink of death

~~~

You know her, you don’t, you think that you may

She’s a friend, a soldier, blood-kin

She lives or she dies; knowing the shadow side

Unknown, she wears her chameleon skin

 

 

‘IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS’

brusssels and christmas hats

If I could have a Christmas wish come true just for Christmas Day, it would be to be able to spend that day with all of my family; that’s my son and my two little ones; my daughter, husband and little *J and *B; my Mum and sisters and their families.

Given that this isn’t likely to happen … ever … I’ll quite happily settle for whatever I’m offered (within reason, of course). I do draw the line at hiking to the North Pole to celebrate the festive season with Santa, and an Eskimo in an igloo, even if he does promise to put the two-bar electric heater on and serve the line-caught Arctic Skate with roast parsnips and stuffing.

As you know, my family has always been … well, shall we say … a little dysfunctional thereby not making Christmas the easiest time of the year. We are all so far away from each other that we usually just do our ‘own thing’, which is for me, usually spent on my own which I’ve kind of got used to over the years. It does entail an oven-ready, chicken flavour ready-meal eaten on my lap, in front of my laptop watching a cheesy film in 14″ panoramic view with only the goldfish and my favourite bear for company. Hey ho! Things could be worse.

As it happens, although I’ve been a bit of a bah humbug character¬†this year, suddenly, all that’s changed and if Michael Buble¬†doesn’t mind me pinching his line, ‘It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas.’

My son, Tom has decided he’s not going abroad as planned this year for the holiday period, (although he’s obviously devastated not to have his two little ones with him this year as they have been taken¬†overseas by my son’s ex and her family). So, he’s invited me over to his house which entails a two-and-a-half journey each way by car with my wheelchair neatly folded in the back, having strapped both it and me into the car firmly as my son does have a habit of putting his foot down on the pedal rather too eagerly for my liking.

I’m so looking forward to spending Christmas with Tom for the first time since he married his ex-wife (and rather, unfortunately, her mother into the bargain). I’ll have to get my best Christmas jumper out of mothballs, polish up my fluffy red and white Santa hat and don a pair of flashing earrings. I’ll get practising peeling the Maris Piper’s, rush round to the Co-Op for a bottle of non-alcoholic¬†punch and a kilo of Brussel sprouts. I’ll pick up¬†a large box of mince pies, a box of assorted crackers and streamers, a Yule Log with the traditional plastic robin on the top …. and a partridge in a pear tree.

So, for once, at this time of year, ‘It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas’, and my wish to all who may be reading this, a jubilant and blessed Christmas and may all the best things come to you in the New Year.

A DAY OF MANY ‘FIRSTS’ (AND I WANT ONE OF THESE!)

Yesterday was completely chaotic and a day of many ‘firsts’ for me. My Support Worker is on holiday for two weeks and she usually takes me to all my appointments etc.

When I got up yesterday, I was in a ‘determined’ mood! I felt a could fight a Muhammad Ali in a boxing ring, before his decline, and win!

I had to get to therapy at 11am and decided to go in my new wheelchair as the weather was good and there was no-one else who could help me out so I decided to ‘go for it‘! I allowed an hour to get there but did it in half an hour so I stopped by at a local church where they kindly made me coffee and a biscuit, for which I thanked them, of course. On to therapy which went well and the journey back which was fairly non-eventful.

However, in the afternoon, I had a dentist appointment at 3.20pm so off I zoomed again.¬†¬†I got to the dentist and back (nightmare journey, potholes, cars parked on pavements, overgrown bushes and got stung by nettles, etc!). It took me 3 hours, there and back! However, getting over the NON-disabled-friendly doorstep and through their door was risky (I nearly took the narrow door off its hinges and hurtled into the waiting room, nearly killing myself and several other patients like skittles!). NOT my driving, I need add but the lack of provision of a ramp to get in and out! This is an ongoing issue and campaign that I am having with the surgery and I don’t intend to give up until they get a ramp of some sort, which is a legal requirement under the Disability Act anyway. Needless to say, I’m not exactly ‘flavour of the month‘ there at the moment!

Add to that time, 15 mins for getting lost and then a much-needed 15 min detour to the sweet shop to get a much-needed large Mars Bar which I eventually got home and ate the lot as a reward for all my effort, lol! (I was a bit worried at times as to whether my wheelchair would have enough ‘umfph‘ in it to do all this cavorting about). But it just about made it but then I had a thought, “I know what I want for my birthday. I want one of these please…..”!

tank wheelchair

LEAVING ON A JET PLANE

Well….today is the last day that my sister will be here with us in England. She leaves my mum’s house at 1.30pm today, which is just over an hour from while I am writing this (although by the time I’ve finished this post, she will have gone). Her 28 hour flight takes off at 5.50pm, after which I shan’t see her for another 3-4 years :(( She phoned me this morning to say goodbye which is always hard. I so wish I could go to the airport with her and wave her off properly but I couldn’t manage the journey. Fortunately, my younger sister is going with her so she won’t be on her own. It’s always hard to let her go – we are such close sisters and I find missing her hard. Nevertheless, her life is out there in Australia and her husband and two almost grown-up children have missed her a lot while she’s been here so will be glad to have her home again.

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As we were growing up, we had our fair share of squabbles and ‘cat fights’ but never really fell out seriously nor hurt each other. She wasn’t abused by my father and finds it difficult to accept what I have said as being the truth. So, we’ve agreed to disagree on that one although it does hurt me to know that I don’t have her support. She got on with my dad really quite well and definitely without being abused. In fact, we ended up calling her “Daddy’s blue-eyed little girl”, which she was literally with her straight blond hair and beautiful blue eyes (taking after him), whereas I took after my mum with my common brown hair and brown eyes. But there was never any competition between us and I bore and bear no grudge that it was me who was the only child in our family who was abused.

Now she lives literally on the other side of the planet, the main differences between us are the obvious huge number of miles of land and sea between us and totally opposite time clocks and of course weather. Also she has two well-behaved teenagers who I hope to meet one day. I chat to them on the phone once in a while. My children are a ‘different kettle of fish’ altogether and hardly bear even mentioning, I am so angry with them because of how they treat me.

Well….it’s now 6.30pm, my time and she will be up in the air among the white and fluffy clouds and will soon be watching the sun go down, becoming just and orange glow.

The flight is with a ‘decent’ airline so the long journey (with two stopovers) shouldn’t be too unbearable although of course she will arrive home totally exhausted and it takes her days to recover from the jet-lag. Her family will be at the other end to greet as she gets off the plane and she will be happy to see them.

Farewell, my beloved sister. It was wonderful to be with you again and share an enormous hug. I’ll miss you so much but know that very soon we will be chatting on the phone as if we lived in the same street as the other! I love you so very much.

airplane1

A JOURNEY

Tonight, my thoughts are as black as the midnight sky

without so much as a twinkling of light from the stars up above.

‘I know not why’, as Shakespeare wrote in The Merchant of Venice,

other than the fact that it is as it is and it seems to have settled

upon my shoulders, the weight of which is pulling me down further

into the abyss of my currently pre-occupied mind. 

 

I have no desire to be as a snake crawling through grass

but more a bird, a Jay with its colours, on the wing, in full flight 

Oh, to be a bird and not a snake!

Oh, to soar in the rays of the midday sun.

Yet no, a dull haze comes upon my head and shoulders

And a darkness descends where there was once light

and the gloom travels through my soul.

 

I say that I protest! It should not be this way!

I shrug to shake off the dim veil descending upon my crown

I push back the clouds and let the sun shine down on me

I am resolute; no longer hesitant and cautious

My wrath, inside, screams to be released into the heavens

rather than carved into my body: Scar upon scar, no more.

 

I have come too far on my journey to be beaten down again

I have fought a long and hard battle to get here,

where I am entitled to be; to live; to survive.

Even to feel the gentle caress of happiness upon my skin

is a welcome change from the harsh touch of misery. 

I will do this; determination set fast; I will win!