Ginseng and vitamin B12 = Zebedee.
Not the biblical father of James and John but that weird boinging thing from the Magic Roundabout.
Whatever - I seem to have boundless energy.
Since taking the magic medicine I have been bouncing out of bed early doors every day and actually doing more than just making a cup of tea and sloping back off up the stairs.
Yesterday I decided to make a start on my new website. I started, finished and published it within a couple of hours. Not sure if that means I am quick or I've rushed and made a ball's up.
It's only four pages - and there isn't a huge amount of copy. So maybe that's why.
It took me way longer today to set up a corresponding Facebook page. I had to keep taking a break. It's that frustrating.
This morning I went for a chat with a lady at Dunham. About how I can put some of my skills to good use supporting a project for 11-24 year olds. She must have had a good feeling about me before I arrived as she'd already done me a badge. Either that or she is just bloody desperate for some help. Either way - I am more than happy to give some of my time.
She asked why I wanted to volunteer. Easy:
Number 3 is way up as an important reason. I have a little mini fight with myself every day. "Stay away from the job pages...step away from LinkedIn" etc. I need to have a proper break from Financial Services.
And anyway. If my wedding photography thing takes off...I can carry on volunteering, and baking, and going for long walks and playing Candy Crush to my heart's content.
So - today's photo..screenshot of my new website
It's been one hell of a week.
We started off in a cottage in Grizedale - not far from Hawkshead. One of our favourite, relaxing spots. Down a private road with no passing tourist traffic (apart from the occasional cyclist who can't read).
On Monday I had a message from my Joe saying he had gone to A&E with chest pains. Then another, early in the afternoon, to say he was fine and had been sent home.
I decided that as my nerves were already frayed - I might has well just completely sever them. So I booked Jess and myself onto the last Grizedale Go Ape session of the day.
I am terrified of heights.
But I decided that I can do that 'mind over matter thing'. I just needed to get a grip and do something out of my comfort zone.
But by the time I had climbed the first rope ladder, crossed from one tree to the next and had my feet firmly on the tiny tree platform...I wondered what the bloody hell I had been thinking. Someone get me down from here now.
That same man then stayed just ahead of me and Jess for the rest of the TWO HOURS in the trees. TWO FUCKING HOURS.
Two hours that included two of the scariest zip wires I have ever seen - from the ground. Never mind from a tiny platform at the top of a tree. And yet again...there is no going back. So you just sit into your harness and go. Like the bloody clappers. But DO NOT LOOK DOWN. I know that now. Do not look down if you're scared of heights. It ruined my imagined 'I'm really just in a fast car with the wind blowing in my hair' scenario.
To cut a long story short - we both did it. We survived. We got a certificate.
Then both had the worst nights sleep ever. With recurring nightmares of:
Then it was Tuesday.
I awoke to a terrifying series of messages showing on my phone screen.
Panic always makes me drop things. And I suddenly have 9 big toes for fingers (or ten..yep ten big toes) - with someone else's fingerprints so my phone won't unlock.
After several minutes of blind panic I finally got the basic message. And rang my ex.
Joe was at that moment in an ambulance on the way back to hospital - with signs of a heart attack.. I could hear the sirens. Of all the horrible moments I've had in my life so far - this one was up there (somewhere near that first tree platform...a few feet above that).
To cut another long story short. Jess and I ran around panicking. Trying to get dressed. It's not funny - but why do knickers always go on backwards when you're upset and frightened?
I drove us straight to the hospital. And we headed straight to Resus. And there he was. My 22-year old baby boy. Looking like he's on the set of Grey's Anatomy. Just the right length of stubble, perfect quiff and olive tan. I, however, looked like shit.
But despite his looks - he was frightened and hooked up to bleeping machines.
And that is how he still is today - Thursday. Frightened. Constantly monitored. Putting a brave and good looking face on.
We don't have answers yet. But we need them desperately. From someone qualified to tell us.
In the meantime - Joe will be pleased to know that I have remembered to find something that will pass as slippers. I just need to remember to bring them in the morning.
Love you Joe (i.e. don't shout if I forget again!)
Today's photos should be no surprise...
Jess and me in a tree and my boy (he wanted a Mum selfie)...
This - my most-frequently visited pages on Google
Couple of things:
The result was enlightening...
I confuse myself. On the one hand I make snap decisions. And on the other I can't make a decision to save my life.
How is this even possible?
I decide quickly if a role isn't right for me. Though I guess when I say I decide quickly...I think about things for a long time. Then when the stress and anxiety get unbearable I make a quick decision to quit. That's one example of me making snap decisions.
So maybe I actually don't. And that can only be a good thing when it comes to that type of decision. When it involves work.
But - do I buy this pair of shoes? Shall I pack this fleece or that one? Which suitcase is best? What do I want for dinner? Do I want a tea or a coffee?
Those decisions are tough.
Today I did make a decision. A decision about something that is causing me too much anxiety. Something that makes me feel like I am trying to plait fog at the same time as wading through treacle - with a blindfold on and one arm tied behind my back.
I knew today was decision day. I felt it in my water. I was drained. Weepy. Over-tired. Anxious.
Now I just need to make some bigger decisions. I need to work out what's next for me.
Do I plod on...the same path I have been treading for 12 years or so?
It pays the bills. It pays for the holidays. But it doesn't inspire me. I have lost the drive. And more worryingly - I am losing the confidence in myself.
I posted recently about a need to change pace - have a new start. I just can't quite see me and Stu in a hippy commune, in a brightly painted shack, growing potatoes.
I also don't see us quitting the rat race for a motorhome and touring Europe. I'd probably be fed up before we hit the South coast.
We have an inkling of a plan. It involves no mortgage, a house with views all round, few neighbours (apart from those who talk sheep), an outhouse / workshop and a drive.
So - first steps of plan:
Then we'll mull things over for a while longer and think of options to address the elephant in the room (what to do with Joe).
In the meantime - I guess I have to work. Continue to do what I have done for the past 12 years or so.
Or maybe I should just try wedding photography for a year.
The words of a 'wise' bereavement counsellor. "It will get easier over time.
"You will look back in years to come and you'll be glad that you were there"
So - that was her own experience. As she described to me after I had explained my reason for making an appointment and waiting months to see someone. I thought the appointment was my time to explain my feelings not to listen to hers.
As you can probably guess, I didn't go back. I could have told myself the same things she told me. But at the time when the pain was still fresh I thought I would benefit from talking it through with someone other than family.
So has it got easier? In some ways - of course. It's been 18 years since I watched my Dad take his last breath. Time does indeed heal. To a point.
I don't think about him every day. I don't cry myself to sleep. I am no longer numb.
But a couple of times a year - particularly the anniversary of his death - I remember.
I remember the time leading up. The months watching his body betray him. Sad but also some very precious memories.
I also have some very vivid memories, including one of a Macmillan nurse who cut me to the quick. Not what I was expecting. I thought she could provide answers to the questions I had, that I didn't want to ask Dad or Ruth. "Why is chemo not an option.?.." being one. For which I received a damn good telling off... "Do you want your Dad to suffer more?".
(No love - of course I don't. I just don't want to ask my Dad the ins and outs and I am new to this cancer malarkey. And with you being an expert and all - and known to be sympathetic and supportive - I thought you could help me understand what is and isn't happening).
Didn't go and see her again either.
I have held onto these memories for years. Shared only with those close to me. The other bad memories - the ones that hurt so much - I won't share on here.
But I still find it very difficult to remember pre-cancer Dad. Those memories are further away in my mind - hidden behind the sights, sounds, smells, feelings of those final few days - Wednesday to Saturday.
From the moment Ruth rang me at work and asked me to come over - and to bring some spare knickers. To the last time I spoke to Dad (and he spoke to me) on the Thursday. To his final moments on the Saturday.
To the two lovely men who took him away with such care and compassion
The memories end there. I don't remember a great deal more.
I am sorry that I have shared this on what is usually a cheery blog. But maybe I need this. Maybe I need to write it all down. And maybe I need to write the full story down somewhere - somewhere not for sharing. If I expel it onto paper - will I expel the pain from inside me?
Anyway - as ever - here's a photo. One of my favourites. Pre-poorly Dad. With full-on beard and crinkly eyes.
Time to sum up my view of our little Italian trip.
Stu's summary is simple - everything ends in o or i and everyone speaks Italian very fast.
Of course there is more to it than that! Where did it rate on my holiday experiences? Way down I'm afraid. But then I like cold places. With no mosquitos.
The driving experience:
Yesterday was a sun-chasing day. We found it. And we had a huge beach to ourselves. That has to be the bonus of Italy at this time of year.
We haven't heard another Brit since we got off the plane. As Stu pointed out "everyone is Italian".
In fact Stu had a deep conversation in Italian with a chap in a white coat in Ceglie yesterday. We were looking for a bakery. White coat = baker...right? Nope. Barber (Stu managed to come to that conclusion when he peeped in the chap's shop and they both mimed scissors). And a very kindly barber at that. He seemed to want to get in the car with us to show us the way to the bakery around the corner. Nice chap.
As Stu was hungry he came out of the bakery with a big bag of bread and a variety of Italian cookies. They were bloody awful. One type even had aniseed flavouring in it.
Stu had a rude awakening this morning. He felt something bite his shoulder. And for once it wasn't me. As we couldn't see anything we ignored it. Getting out of bed at a leisurely pace. Then we saw something...on his side of the bed. He says it was some kind of centipede. I'm sleeping standing up tonight - in the middle of the room.
It's very windy today. Blowing the garden furniture around kind of windy. And cloudy. But still warm.
So we set off for a stroll in the local area.
And arrived back at the trullo to no electricity or water. But at least the sun was out.
Got a bit of dirt on my white pumps! And Stu's trainers STINK.
The weather apps (all of them) predicted rain today. Over much of the region. So after the morning croissant we set off for a drive.
And didn't see a single spot of the wet stuff.
We did see some rather big houses. And lots of tiny country roads. Before we headed off to a forest for a couple of hours walking. Much needed exercise after far too much bread, pasta, beer and pastries.
We then went in search of the castle in Ceglie Messapica. Once we had done the usual drive round the town trying to avoid pedestrians, other cars and dead ends we found a free parking spot (parking in Italy is ridiculous. So many different rules. But Stu had hit Google before we set off this morning so we had a much better idea).
As we walked up to the castle we could hear a brass band. Playing a rather slow tune. We had stumbled upon a funeral. So we put on our best sombre faces and waited as we didn't want to appear rude and walk past the mourners.
To be honest I was moved. Huge flower arrangements adourned the sides of a white van. As the coffin came out the mood of the band changed to something a little more upbeat. There were some words shouted and everyone clapped. Us included. Then the funeral procession set off slowly through town (we didn't follow).
We learned after that is was the funeral of a 38 year old man.
After a quick visit to the castle (disappointing tbh) and a couple of coffees (not at all disappointing and surprisingly cheap) we headed back towards the Trullo.
The road takes us past a massive cemetery. Which happened to be open. So we popped in.
I have never seen anything like it. Not even those in France compare. It was a little awe-inspiring tbh. The amount of care (and money) spent on the dead. Extraordinary. And humbling in a way.
We did feel like weird stalkers as we stumbled across the coffin of the 38 year old. But we rushed past respectfully.
I did take a couple of photos in between doing my best respectful sad face. Then tried my best to hide the huge camera under my top. It just felt very wrong.
I took a couple of photos of the 38 year old chap's flowers at the entrance. I want to look back and remember. It seems right somehow.
Back at the Trullo we raised a Peroni to the unnamed man. Before Stu started prepping the pasta!
At home there's a sound which drives us mad. It sounds a little like a duck. We hear it in the middle of the day. And have no clue what it is.
So. We're in Italy and there's a very similar noise. But when it goes dark.
After three nights googling "what bird makes a squeaky noise at night" or "what is that sonar type sound at night" Stu finally found the cause of the Italian version of the Lawrence Road duck.
It's a Scops Owl.
And tonight I can get to bed a little earlier and abandon my bird sound search.
Another frustration of this holiday is the Sat Nav. As we don't know the area we tend to enter a city / town rather than an address. Of course the Sat Nav takes you to 'city centre'. So invariably we have ended up literally in the centre of some city...down tiny one-way streets. Lost.
So I normally just head right back out again. Stressed. And head for the next place. And do the bloody same.
Today we tried Gallipoli. For those who don't know Gallipoli is an island, reachable by bridge and kind of circle shaped. The Sat Nav took us right there. We drove round the circle. And back off it. No photos. From what we saw as we navigated the narrow road...it had shops and bars. And some fortifications.
We pulled up somewhere safe and asked the Sat Nav to find a beach...near our current location. Genius.
We ended up on the quietest beach ever. With our own little rocky, sheltered haven. Time for a spot of lunch and some much-needed rays.
Before we set off again. To drive some more.
The forecast for tomorrow is rain. Everywhere within a driveable distance. So we need to think of something to do. There is a safari park. Not really what we came to Italy for but the reviews I've read are good.
Or we might just drive around the local area. Avoiding trafiic.
We nearly died a couple of times today. Italian drivers are completely insane. And impatient.
We drove all day. Pretty much.
We did manage an hour to stretch our legs in one of the national parks. And another hour on a beach. And one taking in some views.
We pretty much covered this area....
We arrived back at the Trullo around 7pm and inhaled a Peroni. It cost around €1.89 for three. I don't buy beer often but I think that's cheap.
It's a little noisy around here tonight. Dogs constantly barking, some weird bird squeaking and something that sounded like thunder. All of it in the distance. Sound travels here.
No clue what we're doing tomorrow. It depends on the weather (today was sunny and ranged from 21-30c). All our weather apps say something different for tomorrow. But rain could be on the menu. But it was for today too and we didn't come across any.
Just a few pics from today...