New Year, New Resolution

My swimming had been slowly slipping towards the end of last year. This year I am determined to pick it back up again. I don’t usually make New Years resolutions, but this year I have made an exception. I want to build my swimming back up to a mile a day. Unfortunately, I fell at the first hurdle! Allow me to explain…

My mum, my kids and I always go to the cinema on New Year’s Eve. This year we fancied going to see Bohemium Rhapsody, but my son really didn’t want to see it so after checking what else was in, we all agreed on Holmes and Watson. What a mistake that was!! I have NEVER in my life walked out of a cinema halfway through a film. This was the exception to the rule. It is the worst film I have ever seen. To be honest, I don’t even think we made it to halfway. I thought perhaps it was just me, but after mentioning it to my mum and the kids, we were all in agreement and chose to leave. if you like comedies…do NOT see this film as it is not at all funny!!

We ended up playing charades and drinking hot chocolate at home in the lead up to midnight. Charlie (our gorgeous Springador) was absolutely terrified as the fireworks started going off. I had already given him the calming tablets so thought he would be ok. For the most part he was but then wouldn’t settle and go to sleep after they’d stopped. By the time he finally calmed down, I was wide awake. At half past 3 I could hear Charlie scratching about so told him to lie down and be quiet. At half past 4, my son alerted me to the fact that Charlie had been sick. Not only had he been sick, but he was also eating it!! What a great way to bring in the new year! My son took him downstairs as he couldn’t stay in his room with that acrid smell. I took pity on him and let him play on his xbox which made him feel quite rebellious I think. At 8am he then woke me up with a bowl of cereal and a coffee. Such a nice thought, but would have been even better two hours later, lol. Can anyone tell me if they have tried a Thundershirt for their dog? They are supposed to really help with a dogs anxiety so I would love to know how effective they are before I invest in one.

Needless to say, I did NOT go swimming on New Years day.

Determined to at least try and stick to my New Years resolution, I was full of enthusiasm when I went to swim on the second. However, my efforts were once again thwarted when my hip kept popping in and out so much that it was bringing tears to my eyes and I was forced to stop after 10 lousy lengths!! 🤬

Yesterday, I went back to the pool with lower expectations. I figured that as long as I got in the water, I was still making progress in the right direction. I was really please with myself when I realised I had managed to swim 46 lengths…only 18 lengths shy of a mile.

I will do my absolute best to try and swim a mile a day, but perhaps with my condition, my resolution should not be to swim a mile a day, but just to go to the pool every day (even if it’s just to use the spa and let the heat and bubbles work their magic) and take it from there.

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The Cast of Abney and Teal

I spent most of December crocheting! Due to a nasty cold, followed by laryngitis I have not been able to do any recording and now that I am up to it there is so much traffic going to and fro with the kids still not back at school that it has still not been possible.

It hasn’t all been doom and gloom though as I have at least been able to finish MOST of the Abney and Teal Amigurumi characters (patterns courtesy of https://www.ravelry.com/people/TatieSoftToys). My daughter had bought him the official Abney & Teal dolls. What hadn’t been made clear on the photos from where she had bought them, was that Abney is almost half the size of Teal. We just had to hope he would still accept them. We were a bit worried at first when he opened Teal and immediately put his hands to his forehead whilst looking rather bemused. I don’t think he could get his head around the fact that these were things he has only ever seen in the tv and now all of a sudden he could touch and hold her. He was a little less confused when he opened Abney, so all I could do was hold my breath until he saw the Neeps. I am not ashamed to say that his reaction made me cry. He took Neep out first, then kissed him, hugged him before laying him down and taking out the next one. He did the same with Beep, Zeep, Peek, Meep and Veep and with each one I cried a couple more happy tears. However, as soon as he had seen them all he then said “Where are the Poc Pocs…and Bop and Toby Dog?” It’s not surprising that I then bought the patterns and yarn for both Bop and the Poc Pocs. The good thing is that my sister in law did say she would pay for them so all I had to do was make them. And I finished the last of the characters yesterday at 1am. I’m not sure what he is going to do now because I can’t get hold of either a pattern nor the doll of Toby Dog. Anyway, here is the finished bunch…

Apparently they are all he has played with since he got them. I can’t wait to give him those last 4 Poc Pocs. If anyone knows anywhere where I could hold of either a pattern or the doll of Toby Dog I would be so grateful!

Ready for Christmas

I’ve not posted for a while because I was fighting a chest infection and any spare time I have had has been used for making handmade Amigurumi Neep and his friends and relations. I finished the last one last night! I’ve put so much time and love into them I really hope my nephew loves them as much as he loves the programme.

I thought I had finished all my Christmas shopping on Friday but I bought another couple today so once I wrap those tomorrow that will be it. All done! Everything ready for the big day. The day that is probably one of the most stressful days of the whole year. Is it just me that feels that way? It’s one big familial logistical puzzle all geared around one meal…or two in our case. My mum makes what I believe to be the best Christmas dinner ever. Not only does she make the best dinner, she also makes extra to ensure we have enough leftover to make the most amazing dinner of the entire calendar…Boxing a Day dinner, consisting of home made chips and the most delicious bubble and squeak!! She works tirelessly to make these two days so special and every single year, bar none, she succeeds. I am in awe of her at this time of year more than any other, because even though she says she hates Christmas, she does her best to make sure everyone around her loves it!

There went the judge!

The weather was most certainly not on my side today. Heavy rain meant I couldn’t do any recording this morning, but that was okay because it did give me time to get myself ready for our very different day out. We set off for Manchester at lunchtime and the rain was beating down, seriously reducing visibility on the motorway. Little did we know that that wouldn’t be the only area where our visibility would be reduced today.

I’d been eagerly anticipating today because today was the day we were going to see the filming of Judge Rinder https://www.itv.com/hub/judge-rinder/2a3290. We arrived at Media City http://www.mediacityuk.co.uk and parked relatively easily. We then made our way through the torrential downpour to the ITV building. Once inside we quickly ascertained where we needed to be and went to join the First Come First Served (FCFS) queue. What I hadn’t realised was that even though we had the tickets, it didn’t guarantee that we would get to go inside as there are only a certain number if available seats. Next to our queue was the Priority ticket people’s line. There were only a couple of people in it though so we knew we had a very good chance of getting in. Annoyingly, we had absolutely no idea how they had come to be PTP in the first place!

The time on our tickets said 2:30, but suggested we arrive early to guarantee entry. We did arrive nice and early, then the crew came out and told us that the show would be running a little late and wouldn’t be starting until 3. The PTPs were told they could leave and come back at 3. Us mere mortals in the FCFS line had to stay there. My mum and auntie went for a coffee while we held our place in the queue, then my daughter and I went when they got back. By the time we got back there were still only about 10 PPs. However, the closer it got to 3:00 the longer their queue became until it became clear that we now stood very little chance of getting in, I didn’t realise just how close we would get though. The crew began searching the PPs whilst we downheartedly watched how many latecomers joined their queue. The people in front of us (in our FCFS line) got in, then the crew asked us how many were in our party. We told them there were 4 of us and our faces dropped when she said they were sorry but there were only 2 spaces left. I told mum that my daughter and I were happy for her and my auntie to go in, but she said ‘no, we stick together. We came together and we will leave together!’ So we left, making use of the only photo opportunity we saw.

The good news is that when you arrive and queue in the FCFS queue and don’t manage to get in, they contact you and arrange for you to go another day…

…and that is when they send you Priority tickets!!!

Better luck next time

A disappointing day

Today did not go as planned at all.

I went to take my wheelchair to have guards fitted but it turned out they didn’t fit. However, all is not lost as I realised that the spokes on the wheels are far enough away from my fingers to hopefully prevent dislocations anyway, so that was a positive, albeit unexpected outcome.

From there, I went to my best mates for coffee and some puppy cuddles…always lovely

From there I was supposed to come home and get some work done, but my back has been particularly painful today and I couldn’t face swimming. Instead I went to my mums to cheer myself up by spending some time with her and my nephew.

I picked my daughter up from uni, then my son from school. They went to walk our dog Charlie while I spent some much needed time on my heat pad while my extra pain killers kicked in. Not sure what I’d do without my heat pad. If you suffer from back pain I would definitely recommend one. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dreamland-16052-Intelliheat-Heat-Pad/dp/B00BNAEIKE/ref=sr_1_3_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1543869915&sr=8-3&keywords=dreamland+heating+pad

I’m now on my way to pick my daughter up…again using heat in my seats to make the drive just about bearable.

Looking forward to getting home, snuggling in pjs and watching I’m a Celebrity!

I get through my days swimmingly

I decided to write about one of my typical days living with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. It is one of those conditions that people don’t see and as a consequence often don’t understand.

I wasn’t diagnosed with EDS until 6 years ago when, whilst teaching, I caught a child who was falling from a climbing frame. Although I didn’t realise it at that moment, that incident would define the rest of my life. I had test after test, treatment after treatment and pain relief that ranged from tablets to injections, but nothing stopped the pain either then, or since. All that can be done now is ‘manage’ the pain…but I personally would not say it is ‘managed’, I think tolerated is a more fitting word. Each and every moment of every single day feels like someone is ramming their concrete booted foot hard into my coccyx. I cannot focus on that though, I have to try and distract myself from it and try to find things that if they don’t help in some way with my pain, they do at least let me focus on something else.

Swimming helps me do that.

Today, I went swimming. I swam a mile. I’m very proud of myself.

Most people would regard swimming a mile as a real accomplishment…for me it is much mor than that. It is more of a necessity. You see, my body hurts. My bones, my muscles, my ligaments, my stomach, hurts. It doesn’t hurt because I go swimming, it hurts because I am me. I wake up in a morning and the very first thing I am aware of is pain. I take pain relief every day (including a morphine patch), but it only numbs it a little, it never goes away. So why do I then go and swim a mile? I do that because it allows me to move. If I don’t swim, I can’t move properly. I’m lucky that I live close to a health club that has a lovely pool and an even lovelier jacuzzi! https://www.ribbyhall.co.uk/about-our-health-club/facilities

In the water, I don’t hurt quite as much…and in the jacuzzi afterwards I even get some albeit very brief, pain free time. When I am swimming, I have to walk in the water in order to click all my joints back in line to help reduce subluxations. Recently however, whilst doing just that, I slipped and jarred my back. I was forced to rest up until I could move again enough to be able to put my swimsuit on. I didn’t tell, people that was why I couldn’t swim. I made excuses. After all, who would have believed that that was my reason for not going? After a week or so, I was finally able to put my swimsuit back on and since then, I have been determined to build my swimming back up again and yesterday I finally managed it. I swam a mile in 52 minutes. Not bad hey?!

I helped look after my nephew afterwards (with my mum and daughter) so didn’t get chance to apply heat to my back until much later on in the day. Once laid on my heat pad, I was able to complete another one of Neep’s relations, Veep (see previous post).

I appreciate that parts of this post sound negative, but as a whole it is definitely not. Today, I swam a mile; I relaxed in a jacuzzi; I spent time with my family; I drank hot chocolate snuggled up in pjs with my children; and I made a child’s toy! A pretty damn good, productive day!!

Amigurumi

The last few days I have been crocheting in an evening. I absolutely love Amigurumi and am currently working on Neep and his family from Abney and Teal, for my nephew https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/sources/tatie-soft-toys/patterns

For those unfamiliar with Abney and Teal, (I knew nothing of it myself until about 2 months ago) it’s a lovely, albeit slightly surreal, pre-school tv programme. Unlike most other children’s tv, this one is all very natural colours and was inspired by Victoria Park, London. My nephew, who is two and a half, watched the episodes on a recent flight to Portugal and back and now knows every episode word for word even down to which episode is coming next!

The programme centres around Abney, who lives at the bottom of a tree and Teal who sleeps in the branches. They have several friends:

  • Neep, a small burrowing creature like a turnip.
  • Bop, an aquatic mammal somewhat resembling a furry male elephant sealwho drinks ‘tea’ (actually water from the lake) and blows bubbles.
  • The Poc-Pocs, a set of 7 identical-shaped but different-sized comma-shaped wooden objects or hard tropical tree seeds, so named after the noise they make jumping about.
  • Toby Dog, a melodeon-playing dog who always sits upright on the same place on the lake’s mainland shore. He normally plays the same tune, which the narrator describes as several sorts of music. There are rare occasions where Toby Dog will play a variation of his tune, notably the lullaby on the episode Bop’s babies. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Adventures_of_Abney_%26_Teal

You’d be forgiven for thinking it sounds bizarre, but it really is a lovely programme with really calming colours and noises. Give it a go and you’ll see what I mean.

Anyway, here is my first creation…Neep

Impromptu coffee hour

This morning I didn’t manage to get as much work done as I would have liked. It’s hard work being an audiobook narrator, in a room that isn’t soundproof, in gale force winds and pounding rain. Add Charlie into the mix whose tail wags for ten minutes every single time a car door closes just in case it’s going to be someone he knows and it is clear to see why recording has not been possible. So when my daughter asked if I could give her a lift to work for a meeting – and offered to pay me with a brew – I decided to bring my iPad with me and do some writing at https://www.ribbyhall.co.uk/eat-drink-play-shop/dining/starbucks whilst enjoying my mocha Frappuccino.

On Saturday, the Christmas lights in my nearest town were switched on. As seems to be commonplace these days, an event of any kind seems to have to include fireworks. Our gorgeous springador Charlie is most definitely NOT a fan. He trembles, pants and whimpers when he hears them banging, popping and squealing. Trial and error has got us to the point where I’ve found some tablets (herbal) https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0748DG7BL/ref=cm_sw_r_oth_tai_Kw..BbYR3FB7M that calm him a little, but it still doesn’t stop him trembling. We tried making him a den because I have read that they can really help. He didn’t seem to understand the principle of that though and whilst the kids were nearby (one on the sofa and the other in the den) he seemed to prefer sitting on the periphery.

It’s been a strange couple of days. The wind has picked up again and unfortunately, amongst many other things, Charlie is also terrified of the wind. For some reason, the only place he wants to be is on the sofa with me, standing with his front legs up on the back of the sofa behind me, staring blankly at the wall. How this can be of any help to him I don’t know, but he does at least keep my neck warm!

Any suggestions as to what else we can do to try and help him calm down would be gratefully accepted, especially as the wind is supposed to get worse!

Family st-roll on the front

Last night we decided to take the dog out for a st-roll. Actually the kids stroll, I, in my wheelchair, roll along very slowly beside them when not being pushed. I want to be able to go on dog walks with them so thought Lytham Green http://lsacivicsociety.org.uk/project/lytham-green-foreshore/ would be a good place to try it out. It wasn’t necessarily the best place to go for our trial run. It turns out that the pavements have varying degrees of camber…something, it would appear, that my kids don’t fully understand. 

We encountered our first hurdle as soon as we were ready to set off because we had to go and find a dropped kerb. I should have checked that when I parked, so I’ll note that for next time. Once we were on Lytham Green we struggled up the path to the top. Doesn’t look steep, but try it in a wheelchair and you’d be surprised. 

Our dog, Charlie, has always pulled on his lead, but once he has had a bit of a run he generally calms down a little. As the whole purpose of this walk was to try and find a way for me to go on walks with the three of them, I enthusiastically took hold of his lead. I would love to have been a passer by watching us at this point! It started well…until my son suggested we try running a bit. We very quickly picked up speed until Charlie somehow seemed to think he had morphed into a huskie and started what can only be described as rocketing along! Had I read about huskies prior to this outing, things may have been a bit calmer. The worst thing you can do in a situation such as this, is run after them as this only serves to make them run faster! I seemed to go from 0-60mph (ok it was probably only really about 10mph…but it felt bloody fast!) in 10 seconds!! At that point I heard my daughter, with panic in her voice, shout to my son ‘you shouldn’t have let go of her!’. I should be thankful that the edge of the grass is raised slightly, otherwise I think we would have careering all the way down to the road to where a fellow dog walker had just thrown a ball for his own dog. We jolted to a halt and it was only luck that I wasn’t ejected from my seat. Once the kids had pulled themselves together, my son took the dog to run on the beach whilst my daughter and I continued at a more sedate pace. 

Having survived the momentary madness, we enjoyed the sea air and laughed a lot. We took some photos – although despite it being one of the reasons we chose to walk there, I forgot to take a family pic – then made our way back to the car, complete with rosy cheeks and an exhausted pup.

 

 

Single suburban mum’s evening out

‘Push…for goodness sake, just push!!’ I said through gritted teeth.

‘It’s not working! It’s stuck! It won’t go either way now. You’re just going to have to try standing up.’

You’d be forgiven for thinking this was a woman in the throes of childbirth, but factor in an array of wooden shacks with aproned tenders, a giant Father Christmas and difficult-to-circumnavigate-in-a-wheelchair cobbled walkways and you would see that it was actually an lovely evening out with my children at the Manchester Christmas Markets https://www.visitmanchester.com/shopping/manchester-christmas-markets-p327351. I’d envisaged a relaxed wander around the festive fair, taking in the sweet aromas of the hot food and drinks in the company of my two beautiful children.

I was the one shouting orders to my daughter, with rapidly decreasing patience, to push my brand new wheelchair more forcefully to negotiate the gap between another two cobbles. (At what point do stones become cobbles? Are they special stones, or are they regular stones until they are placed down to form a walkway – note that I say walk-way, NOT wheel-way, which it most certainly was not)? Anyway, yet again the wheels are at war with the cobbled paving and I am having to stand up (no, I hadn’t been miraculously healed, that would be a very different kind of blog – I’ll explain another time) in order to allow my daughter to lift the chair out from the firm grip of the cobbles.

And it wasn’t just the wheels that made it difficult. It was also raining! I was wearing my snuggly parka coat with the lush fur (don’t panic, it’s faux fur) trim around the hood, and it had now became a dripping, fluffy visor that dropped down over half of my face and seriously hindered my vision. In order to see where we were going, I had to keep flicking my head back to move it out of the way because my hands were busy helping to move the wheels and I didn’t want to be involuntarily ejected from my seat.

When my son asked for the billionth time if he could have a Nutella pancake, I finally relented. Then, when my daughter asked for a hot chocolate I bought them one of those too. I also treated myself to a luxurious cream fur (faux again) snood so I could use that instead of the damn hood to both keep my hair dry and prevent whiplash. We ate and drank our wares before conceding and setting off back through the throngs of wet patrons to the car.

We were wet! We burnt our tongues on the pancakes. I may well have been conned into buying a snood that has possibly been in storage for years because, in the words of my son, ‘it smells like an old persons loft’! But…did we enjoy our evening? Do you know what? Despite all of that…we did! We were together and we also laughed a lot. It’s evenings like those that make you appreciate how lucky you are.