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I went on holiday a couple of weeks ago, and overall it was great! I was a little anxious about it beforehand as so many symptoms threatened to put a damper on it. Also I was feeling quite low in mood and really wanted it to be good – that kind of need is a dangerous thing.

My and my partner went on holiday, with our dog, but also a friend joined us half way through and stayed with us a week so we had some time with her on holiday and then at home as well, which extended the holiday vibe – so a good ten-day holiday for us.

We rented a cottage on the coast, actually very close to home, as travelling is something I struggle with and a long journey would have been something I would have to recover from once I arrived. Plus, if things were really bad, we also had the option of coming home again easily. It was lucky in the end that we did that as between booking and going I got my wheelchair. On the way home (because our friend had joined us mid-week) my partner had to make two trips as our little car was unable to take all our stuff, plus wheelchair, dog and three people.

The cottage was “bijou” – small and beautiful. It had a cabin-like feel with long painted boards on the ceiling and several times after being pushed in the wheelchair (which makes me feel pretty spaced out), or just when feeling a bit unsteady in general, I really felt like I was on the ocean wave without my sea-legs. There was a nautical theme with lighthouses, driftwood and shells aplenty and it was lovely and felt very “holiday”.

The beds were pretty comfortable. I was very worried about that before we went and had even rung them up to ask about them, after the very bad bed experience on our last holiday the winter before last. I did have a lot of nerve pain while i was away, both in bed and just randomly in the day which was quite draining and disruptive but I did sleep pretty well as I have started to take Eszopiclone and I think it really helped me to sleep in the different surroundings and with the nerve pain, which certainly allowed me to do a few nice things while away.

So what did we do?

We travelled up on the Saturday, but did not leave home until 3pm as the cottage was not available until 4pm. This worked quite well as I usually am not up to much until then and need a midday nap anyway. We got there and had a quiet evening but we did go along the road to find a view overlooking the sea before we settled down for the night. You have to see the sea, right? (It was not this late when we went that first day, but this is the same view).

The village streets were far from wheelchair friendly and I had to get out a few times when we went about (not to mention the time when I flew through the air and landed on my feet when the wheelchair came to a very abrupt stop in a big hole between some cobbles… I am a human cannonball… I was fine but my partner developed a huge bruise where her foot had hit the tilt bar at the back – ouch!).

On the Sunday it was really sunny and lovely so we went for a wheelchair walk, first along the river, which was the perfect width of path and really easy (except for the massive steps at the end), then down to the beach. This was not very easy as it was a steep hill and we didn’t properly think through the return journey (what with our sense of adventure and holiday excitement!).

The beach was lovely and warm. We (well not me, to be honest) dragged the wheelchair down the beach with us so that we could get to the water without leaving it miles away. I threw caution to the wind and decided to paddle. My nerve pain is worst at my ankles and is triggered by water and temperature change so it was a bit risky, but basically I just tip-toed so they didn’t get too wet. It was lovely and warm and frankly I would have just gone for a swim if I could have. Lots of people were and it was packed.

After a sit down, it was decided that my partner would take the wheelchair back up the beach and go along the car park and I would walk along the beach to the next path and meet her there. The car park was large gravel and like one big pot-hole so she could not push me along there, so I had to walk and so I might as well enjoy the beach. We hoped the other path would be less steep that the one we came down. The sand was very soft and although I enjoyed the walk it felt much much longer than it looked and it was hard going. I found some nice shells and all was sparkly and beautiful, but by the time I got back to my chair I felt quite awful, weak and POTS-like. I sat a while to get my breath back and let things calm down before I then had to walk more (huge gravel then steep hill!). I managed but it was way too much. On the way back to the cottage we sat in pub beer garden for a quick drink and it was sunny and quiet and I was comfortable sitting in wheelchair and felt ok. I really needed the “tonic” part of my tonic water! By the time we got back to the cottage though I had completely crashed. Just lay on sofa in zombie mode for some time. We were out for several hours but the time just flew by and we both had a really nice time being out exploring together so it was worth it.

After that I had a couple of quiet days resting and recovering (with a lot of nerve pain), and our friend arrived the Tuesday evening and we went out to the Indian restaurant around the corner, which was really good. I was really careful about what i chose and basically just ate rice with a little bit of the different dishes to taste – it paid off as I had no IBS flare-up afterwards! Amazing! The noise really got to me in there though, and after I finished eating all I could do was sit with eyes closed as I could not even follow the conversation with all the other noises there. We could not stay long. I felt better once we left and got some fresh air.

On the Wednesday I still did not feel too good but after an afternoon nap we went to a local second-hand bookshop. It was only ten minutes drive and was fully wheelchair accessible so I knew it would not be too hard. I was concerned that my brain-fog would prevent me from being able to focus enough to choose anything, but I found 4 books which all look really interesting:

The Diary of a Dying Man by William Soutar – (This is available on Amazon, I have not chosen that link, but it’s easy to find). I have read the first few pages and I think this will be a really interesting book. It is witty and also has already come up with some parallels with my life; early on he discusses various things people tell him will do him good (pills, potions, foods) and he says that he would be taking things constantly if he listened to all of this advice. I know that feeling! 

Longshore Drift by Katrina Porteous and with Linocuts by James Dodds – this is the first book I really focussed on when I went in. It was on a little display and I cannot believe that no-one else had grabbed it before I got there. A little gleaming gem. The poem is very interesting but it is the linocut prints that have had me reaching for the book several times while away and also since I got home. They are just amazing and there is always something new to see. As I have tried to do stamp carving (I don’t know what to call it really), I can see how he has chosen which parts to cut to make the black image/lines and it is interesting to observe his techniques and choices. The detail is amazing; as is how simple lines can do so much.

Southern Mail/Night Flight by Antoine de Saint Exupery – I have only read Le Petit Prince before, but this is described as poetic and it sounded interesting, though I have never really been interested in flying… But if birds do it, then it may be something I can get into!

The Memoirs of a Survivor by Doris Lessing. This, she says, is part autobiography; but it seems from the description to be a kind of dystopian novel and by far the most frightening-sounding book I have chosen! She is someone I have heard of in terms of her feminist and political views, but I have never read anything she wrote before, so I will see how it goes.

That evening I stayed in resting while they went to pub for a while. It was nice to have much-needed quiet time but when I got lonely they came back for a chat before I went to bed, which was really nice.

The next day, Thursday, the sun was out again so after eating breakfast outside on our tiny bit of decking, I walked down the hill (funny little path through people’s back gardens) with my friend and we went to explore the estuary.

We took pictures of boats and I tried to do a little sketching but it was not really the best circumstances as it was a bit on the parky side with the cool breeze and also not very comfortable/relaxing to sit. Sand was too wet/squidgy so we sat on a concrete block for a while. Had to walk a little way up a hill (very slowly!) then rang my partner to come get me with wheelchair. We stopped for a cuppa in tea shop on way home. I had a big sleep then we watched DVD of The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo, which I really enjoyed. I was the only one who had not read the book, but they said it was a good film version of the original.

Friday I felt pretty rubbish. We tried to go to the pub and play cards in the afternoon but it was too noisy – first a large group of middle-aged women squawking and screeching in hilarity at each other, then when they left another gang of younger people who all laughed really loudly together in great bursts. I felt a bit sad that I can’t enjoy being in groups like that anymore. I could not focus on my cards while that was going on, and it was really uncomfortable for me, so we had to leave. We played a game later in the cottage, but I was still not feeling too hot.

Saturday we had to get up early to leave by ten. My partner had already been home and back again by then with the first load. We actually left at 9.30! I tried to rest once home but my body/brain had obviously become fairly confused by it all and gone into emergency mode. In the afternoon and evening I felt hyper and weird and could not rest, adrenaline taken over and although I knew it was not real energy and I tried not to do too much, I did unpack and tidy up a bit as I knew I wouldn’t be able once it all caught up with me and it is nice to get sorted.

The next couple of days I was in bed until mid afternoon both days and not feeling great but we managed to have some gentle chats, watch a bit of TV and have half a game of scrabble before my friend left early on Tuesday morning.

So it was a mixed bag, but with some really nice experiences. I would have like to have been able to go to the beach a bit more but the inaccessibility mixed with the torrential rain at times (I forgot to mention that!) meant it did not happen. We could not drive around the village much as the parking was so tight we could not move the car much at all, which is the only reason I would not stay in that actual cottage again.

Since the holiday I have been feeling generally pretty awful much of the time, and my cognitive function has been very low for me which has been a surprise really. I wonder how much is due to the new sleeping tablets I am taking. I am going to have to experiment with them. Writing this has taken f-o-r-e-v-e-r!!!

I have however been out a couple of times since being home again, just taking advantage of the fact that my partner has been around a bit more and also not wanting to waste any last sunny days before the end of summer, which feels somehow imminent and over much too quickly. We went into town with the wheelchair, which made it the most pleasant trip to shops I have had in years; it really helped and I bought a few things while I had the opportunity to try things on – it was actually fun! Also we went to a local lighthouse to enjoy a sunny afternoon and just sat and enjoyed watching the waves and feeling the warmth. A gentle but lovely trip out. I finished my camera films off at the lighthouse so I am sending my holiday snaps off to be developed soon! I did not take as many as I would have liked, but I hope there will still be some nice ones there.

Yeah! At last i went out in the snow! My partner shovelled the snow away so we could get the car out and drove me up the road to the woods. The snow was crunchy and quite deep but not too hard to walk in, the sun was out and I felt well enough to wander about for quite a while. I sat on a bench a while and the snow beneath me did not even melt! It was pretty cold but the sun made it feel not too bracing. It was such a relief to get out of the house and to be able to seize the moment when there was sun and fresh snow. It was breathtakingly beautiful.

I took some photos on my phone, some of which i will post here. I took others on film so i have not got them yet.








And here I am in action with my holga! I did not take this one, evidently. Oh, it was such therapy!

(I don’t care how bad i feel as a consequence, it was worth it.)

I am back from my week’s holiday and i can say it was a successful trip 🙂

sunset

We went to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, which is right up in the far North East of England, just a few miles from the the Scottish Border. It is literally an island and is cut off from the mainland by the tide twice a day. It was nice to feel cut off from the rest of the world by the tide, and also by the lack of internet access. It felt like a retreat from my usual life and a chance to do things that i do not usually get to do.

Things i wanted from the week were:

  1. to spend more time outdoors and feel part of the landscape, not just be a “tourist” passing by in a car, as i often do these days
  2. to experience being outside at different times of day, as i usually only go out in the middle of the day (if at all!)
  3. to take some good photos
  4. to have some fun!
  5. to go on a pub crawl! (As there are at least three pubs in the very small village).
  6. to learn more about the Lindisfarne gospels by going to the Lindisfarne Centre on the island
  7. to do creative things (painting/drawing etc)

So, which ones did i manage?

Well, i did most of them…  i did not get to the Lindisfarne Centre, though i did read a bit about the Gospels and the history of the Island in books that were in the cottage we stayed in. I did not manage to do much creativity either – i wrote one haiku (see below), but there was not energy or time for other bigger creative activities after walking about the island a bit and going out for occasional pub meals, and a trip up to Scotland to a craft centre and tiny fishing village and sleeping and resting between each thing. Also i did not manage a “pub crawl” as such, though i did go into several different ones. Seeing as i don’t (can’t) drink alcohol it would not have been very authentic anyway…

I was really pleased to do some walking around the village and also along the shoreline and harbour. The shops and pubs were just metres from the cottage, which made little trips out to them manageable. I walked quite far on a couple of occasions and it was so nice to feel the ground under my feet, feel my body “working”, see the lovely views, take some photos and feel connected to the landscape, to be in it and part of it, in a way that only “walking it” can do for me.

I did not always feel great by the time i got back and i think i am still recovering from the longest walk i did on Thursday, and it is now Sunday! But it was so worth it and i had to seize the opportunity while i was in that beautiful place. It seems that, try as i might to change, the things that give me most joy are still the things i used to enjoy as a “well” person. It was a treat to be able to do it, but i wish i could find something to replace that with for it’s therapeutic & mood enhancing benefits, enjoyment and buzz that i could do almost every day, as i used to go for a walk all the time.

On that big walk i felt well and my body behaved itself and i did not feel any POTS symptoms really, despite being upright (with regular sitting rests on benches) for about an hour. I often stood still for taking pictures and it was so nice to feel good, reasonably strong and able. Although i have felt that i overdid it and am still recovering energy-wise, there would be no way i could have managed that without the POTS medication, as i was rarely able to walk for more than five minutes before and any movements were slow and so much effort. I now find that sometimes, if i pick the best time of day and have had enough rest etc etc, i can move in quite a normal way, get up from a chair quite quickly and walk at a reasonable speed, at least for a short time. That is really nice, and gives me some hope for having some nice wanders about this summer. I miss wandering!

viewfromhill

I climbed(!) a small hill to take this (and many other) pictures. All these photos are just using my phone as i have not got my films developed yet. I hope there will be some better ones to come!

One of the main highlights of the week for me was when we went out in the evening and sat on a bench overlooking the castle in the dark. We took the torch from the cottage which was useful as there was only one street light on the way! It was very cold so we wrapped up well. It was really quiet and there was no-one around. We sat on the bench and looked out to small lights on the water, out to sea and along the coastline. There was a bunch of flowers tied to the bench and the cellophane rustled in the breeze and we could hear the water lapping gently at the shore just a few feet in front of us (though we could not see it!). The best bit was the castle. We could not see it, but every minute or so it was lit up from behind by the light of a lighthouse which was out of sight behind the castle mound. The light was green and not very bright and we could just make out the outline of the castle before it disappeared back into the darkness. I wrote a Haiku about it:

Illuminated

Dark castle mound: back-lit by

Rotating green light

Obviously i could not take a picture of it, as it was far too dark but now the image is cemented into my mind. You will have to imagine it too!

After the success of the evening walk, a few days later we tried a dawn walk. I set my alarm for half past six and out we went back to the same area. My body was not quite so happy about that and the dawn was grey and not very inspiring! I was hoping for a glorious sunrise but you can’t win them all… here is one picture i took on my phone once it got light enough that morning just before going (crawling zombie-like) back to the cottage for some breakfast then back to bed.

holy-island

 It was often cloudy during the holiday, which was a disappointment, as it limited when i could take good pictures but the sun did come out on my big walk on Thursday so i can’t wait to get the films developed and see what comes out!

I feel really happy that i managed to do so much while away, and coped with the awful bed and unsupportive chairs and being away from all my other home comforts quite well too. It took a little while to relax into it but i really feel better for having a change of scenry and a break from the usual routines. Travelling anywhere is such a challenge and it doesn’t always work out very well, so i am so pleased this was a success!

ME/CFS Awareness

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