A Brand New Year

January sunshine on the park

Happy New Year to you all, wishing you a healthy and prosperous New Year.

We had all the family staying for a few days during the New Year festivities, so a full house with grandchildren, dogs and all. For me, a fabulous way to spend the first day of the year and the best way to start off a whole new year ahead of us.

Rose and Freddie

Our thoughts turn to new resolutions and new beginnings when it’s a new year. It does feel good and quite exciting to know and feel there’s a whole fresh year stretching out in front of us, with ups and downs, but which may bring new things, new people in our lives and more precious time with family and friends.

Freddie and me just having a little rest
Our gorgeous Darcy

I haven’t really made any new resolutions, but just resolved in my mind quietly to try and focus a little more on some of the things I have been doing and want to keep on doing more of.

I’m always committed to reading, but want to make sure I keep this up and even read more and more variety and genres. I’ve been given some lovely books for Christmas, both fiction and non fiction and recently joined an online book club. I’m also doing the ‘Goodreads’ reading challenge, which I do every year, so hopefully plenty to keep me motivated with my reading.

I realise I’ve been neglecting my blog too, which I’ve had going for so many years now, but life is so busy sometimes and has changed with my health and having grandchildren. I want to try and readdress this and start writing more. I think with writing, the more you write and practise, the easier it becomes and your writing flows. I’m just going to make sure I make writing my blog a regular practise, like I always used to do.

I’m still working on my second book and I’m determined I’m not going to pressurise myself with it, but equally determined that I will complete it too. I’m working on my first redraft, which is a big task. I was so pleased to complete my first whole draft manuscript last year, and I’m tackling the redraft a chapter at a time, as and when I can find the time and in between all the other things that are important to me.

There will be more redrafts before we get to the publishing process, so this will be a continuing work in progress, a good project to have on the go and tackle step by step.

Teddy on squirrel alert!
Cyclamen in the January sunshine

I’m also determined to get out and about like we always have, despite the restrictions with my lungs. I have oxygen and a wheelchair to help for trips out. It may only be a simple trip to the park, which is on our doorstep, but I do think getting out of the house is important, however I’m feeling and even if I feel under the weather.

There’s nothing like the stimulation of fresh air, nature, seeing the world around us, meeting new people or just browsing in the shops. There’s always something new to see or learn and with going out comes the chance to keep up another favourite hobby of mine, photography. Every positive step feeds another one I feel.

Getting out and about also gives me the chance for exercise, as walking is my favourite exercise and I’m limited with my lungs as to what exercise I can do. There’s always a chance for a bit of walking wherever we go. I’m talking about walking slowly in my case and for a managable amount of time before I get too tired, but every step counts in trying to keep healthy. Keeping moving is so important to keeping as well as I can. I guess, therefore, one of my mottos this year is to keep moving.

Sunset on the park

We’ve had a busy start to January as Rose is moving back in with us for a few months, so we’ve done a big clear out upstairs, to make some room for all her things. She’s having her flat renovated, so that will be great for her and David once it’s all done. Building work is always stressful, but hopefully it will all go smoothly. We’ll enjoy having her and David back for a while though. Sarah and Oli are also having lots of work done on their home too, starting this week, so I think we may have a full house now and again. There never seems to be a dull moment, but that’s a very positive thing to me!

I hope you’ve all had a good start to the New Year 😊

Having a quiet read and a little time out

Autumn/ Winter 2019

Autumn was a very beautiful time and we managed to do so much. We started off in October in Norfolk with a week away with family celebrating our wedding anniversary, Rob’s birthday and the 6th anniversary of my heart and double lung transplant. It was a very special time for all of us being together.

We also enjoyed a couple of visits back to our home in Cumbria, enjoying some glorious autumn days and sunshine and of course the beautiful Lake District scenery.

November was a very busy one, Rob spent quite a lot of time rehearsing for his play at the Barn Theatre, The Railway Children in readiness for December when it was running in the lead up to Christmas. We also held our Transplant Support Group Christmas party and attended the PH Support Group Christmas party too. We enjoyed a lovely Christmas family get together on the Nene Valley Railway too. That’s become an annual habit now and this year we had our beautiful Darcy. It seemed the Christmas festivities started in November.

In December we sneaked in another visit to Cumbria and enjoyed doing a little Christmas shopping and seeing the Christmas lights and cosy log fires everywhere. We were busy preparing for Christmas and Rob performed in his play. We enjoyed another family get together when we all went along to see him.

Actual Christmas was another wonderful family time. I was pleased I’d managed another December away from hospital. We did catch colds, but we all had it, I was lucky mine didn’t turn serious and the fact that we all had the same virus meant we could be together. We enjoyed the Papworth Hospital Charity Christmas Annual Carol service – the first one I’d been well enough in December for since my transplant, so that felt an achievement.

We finished December with another family outing to see the ‘Enchanted Christmas Lights’ at Audley End, an English Heritage place. This was lovely, we had perfect dry and mild weather conditions and the lights were amazing. We enjoyed the fun fayre with Freddie and toasted marshmallows and then finished off with hot dogs and mulled wine for supper.

It was a lovely end to another great year. A year where we felt we’d spent so much lovely time with family and friends and made so many happy memories once more. Despite my health setback in April, I’ve managed to go the longest run yet in the last three years without needing intravenous antbiotics or an actual hospital visit. A chance to get a little stonger, despite my lungs being a little frail. That’s got to be a positive way to end the year.

Beautiful September

September is always such a beautiful month as the summer quietly slips away and we begin autumn. There’s those last hot days of summer, but the days are shorter and you can feel a nip in the air when there’s a breeze. The sun is lower and the light seems to give off a richer and deeper glow.

It’s a time of new starts for many with school, courses, hobbies, university and work resuming after the summer break. For some of us that don’t go out to work, it’s a time of quiet when the summer crowds have disappeared and the weather is still pleasant enough to enjoy the surroundings, go on holiday or out and about locally.

September is a time when many of the flowers and plants in the garden have finished flowering, but also a time when the most vivid and colourful autumn plants can give spectacular displays and a riot of colours. Fruit trees are laden with fruit ripe for picking too. We have apples and blackberries ready for picking in the garden. It makes me think of cooking autumn and winter comfort foods, baking crumbles and making sauces.

It’s always a month when the days seem to draw in faster and faster after the long days of summer, but with that comes the beautiful sunrises that greet you as you wake up and more chance to catch a glimpse of a beautiful sunset in the early evening. There’s always something so special about a beautiful sunrise or sunset that makes me just stop and stare.

September is a very special month for me. It’s the month when Rob and I chose to get married and we celebrate our wedding anniversary at the end of the month. September is always a reminder of our new start in life together all those years ago, nearly 29 years now.

It’s the month, also, when I received my life saving heart and double transplant, the gift of a new life and second chance. This will always make September a very special month for our family and a poignant month to reflect on what a very special gift life is, a month to celebrate life and all it has to offer. It’s also a time to feel grateful: grateful to my donor, who gave me a new life; grateful to their family for agreeing to organ donation and always forever grateful for life and the chance to keep on living it.

September is such a very special month, always a month of new beginnings.

February

February seems to have come and gone with the blink of an eye – so different to January, which always seems the longest month of the year after all the festivities.

We celebrated Rose’s birthday at the beginning of the month and had a lovely trip to London to visit her and David and go out for lunch. We ususally drive to her flat in London, which makes it easier for me with my breathing problems and definitely makes it easier when the weather is cold as my breathing suffers more in the cold. It had actually been snowing the day before and was perishing cold.

A few weeks ago we visited the gardens at Benington Lordship, they open them every year, as they have a fabulous display of snowdrops. It’s always something I look forward to, as the days start to become a little longer. The weather had begun to change. It felt quite mild and the sun was out. The snowdrops didn’t disappoint and looked so beautiful. It’s always very uplifting to see them and feels like the start of the gardening and flowering season, with the whole year still ahead of us, days becoming lighter and longer and the sense that everything is starting to come to life again in the garden.

We went away to Nottingham soon after for a lovely family wedding, Rob’s niece’s. It was a beautiful wedding and the weather became surprisingly even warmer. We’d hired a cottage for us all and had a fabulous time.

Now we’ve reached the end of the month nearly and the weather has become even warmer, reaching up to 20 degrees in some places. Rob has actually mowed the lawn for the first time ever in February and the crocuses and daffodils are out in full bloom in the garden. Like many, I’ve been digging a few more summery things out of my wardrobe, but those big coats, jumpers and scarves and gloves are still out.

Last year’s February can be remembered for the bitter cold and the ‘Beast from the East’ storm and this year’s is going to be remembered for record temperatures and glorious sunshine. We started February with a little snow and we’ve ended with a beautiful early spring.

Wrest Park in Winter

January and February can be harder months for getting out and about. The weather can put us off, as it’s often very bleak and cold and days are shorter. It can be surprising how beautiful and different places can look at varying times of year. I like to revisit places throughout the year to see them in a different light and different way as the months and seasons change.

Wrest Park is a place we go to often, it’s an easy place for me to manage walking now I get quite breathless, as it’s fairly flat with good pathways. It’s very wheelchair and pushchair friendly, a great place to take our dog Ted and very child friendly when we bring little Freddie with us. There’s a great play area and a cafe where you can sit out. I like to sit outside, even in the depths of winter and bask in those snippets of sunshine and enjoy the fresh air. It can be very uplifting and I feel it’s important for my wellbeing both mentally and physically.

We have visited a few times this winter and it was a glorious sunny day when we went a few days ago. It looked such a contrast to summer, with frost lacing the ground and layers of ice over the water. There was an early morning mist, but the sun was breaking through, burning it away, which looked quite spectacular.

The birds were enjoying a good singsong as we walked through the woods and there were three beautiful cygnets ducking and dipping for food through the ice. A red kite kept on circling above us. And those first signs of spring – snowdrops about to open, trees in bud, daffodil shoots – all that promise of what’s ahead of us.

Winter time can be so underestimated, as there’s still so many beautiful things to see.

Happy January

Well Happy New Year everyone, or it’s probably Happy January now that all the festivities are long over and well behind us. I hope you all had a wonderful time and enjoyed a rest with some quiet family time.

For me, a New Year always brings thoughts of what may lie ahead and wondering what may be in store both for me and my family. A whole new fresh year waiting in front of you can feel so exciting.

We enjoyed a lovely December and Christmas and that’s partly because there were total zero hospital stays. Anyone who has been following my blog over the years will know that December or Christmas seems to guarantee a bed in hospital for me at some point. This has happened ever since I was diagnosed with Pulmonary Hypertension and continued on after my transplant except for the second year after my transplant. Eight out of the nine last December’s has been marred by this, so this year I can safely say two out of ten have now been hospital free and I am so pleased and relieved about this. Hopefully this is a sign the pattern is being broken. I hope so.

It has meant that I’ve had a strong start to the New Year, so I’ve been trying hard to keep as active as I can. It can be difficult with lungs that function at less then fifty per cent, but in colder weather it can be even harder, especially if there is a cold wind. I’ve been trying to get outside as much as I can though and walk at my own pace as far as I can manage. I see my walking as vital to keeping my heart and lungs as healthy and stable as they can be, so keep pushing this within my limits. We’ve had some beautiful January days and it’s always uplifting and good for the soul to see some sunshine and go for a walk outdoors.

We were in the Lake District in early January and were blessed with a couple of days of beautiful sunshine. We were able to get out and about with the cameras, taking lots of photos and enjoying all the magnificent views and some lovely walks. It was bitter cold, but it can feel refreshing and invigorating to wrap up warm and cosy and just go with whatever the weather is doing. The weather is also an excuse to warm up and rest with a hot coffee in cosy cafes and eat warm comforting food in a pub with a roaring log fire!

And New Year resolutions? I know many people use the start of the year to make resolutions. This year, I haven’t bothered, that doesn’t mean I don’t care about things and have lost interest or anything or don’t want to try anything new; in fact it’s the total opposite. I just want to keep on doing all I’ve been doing, which involves spending time with my family, catching up with friends, travelling and visiting places old and new, continuing our work with the Papworth Transplant Support Group and the hospital and keeping up my photography, reading, writing and working on my second book. The list is probably endless and being mum and grandma is a big priority for me nowadays, so not much point in adding New Year resolutions to my list of ‘to dos’.

We have lots planned over the next few months – it’s always great to have lovely things to look forward to. Before January ends we have Burns Night and Freddie’s second birthday celebrations, yes he’s going to be two very soon. Where has the time gone? Then we have more birthday celebrations and a family wedding in February. March is a huge month and life will change again as ‘grand baby’ number two is expected. Life feels very busy, busy, busy and seems set to continue so, which is just how I like it.

I was back at Transplant clinic last week, I managed to go the whole two months without needing to phone up and visit clinic, which has been a first in a very long time. We were all pleased with this, my consultant included. Everything is looking fairly stable and my consultant decided that my ‘winter’ anti-biotic nebulisers should become a permanant part of my daily meds rather than just for winter. It’s a way of keeping the incurable pneumonia in my lungs at bay and it does seem to be helping so far. I’m happy with that and very pleased things are relatively stable. I have to go back in another two months and they are arranging a few extra tests just to investigate the breathlessness further and ensure they are on top of things.

I think that’s all my January news so far, it’s been a little while since I’ve posted as I decided to have a little break over the festive period and cut back on the social media for a while. I hope you’ve all had a good start to the New Year and have lots of things planned and to look forward to.

Thanks for reading as always and Happy January to you all…

Winter Time

After such a beautiful summer, with its soaring temperatures, followed by one of the most glorious autumns, we’re heading towards the shortest day of the year and those dark mornings and dark evenings and sometimes those days that never seem to come daylight. Real winter time.

Winter time can be defined in different ways. The Met Office using the calendar year and making winter the three months following the 1st December, because December, January and February are generally the coldest months.

Some define winter according to the winter solstice, that being the day we have the least sunlight and the day when the sun is positioned furthest away from the earth as it orbits the sun.

I think for most of us, the weather can define how we think of winter. During November the weather always seems to slide seamlessly into colder, darker days and by December it usually feels like winter is underway. It has done this year anyway.

We seem to have had a real mix of weather over this last few weeks from crisp, cold and frosty days to gales, wind, storms and wet, foggy and misty weather. Some areas have even had snow. The whole range. With such a variety it’s no wonder we’re always talking about the weather in this country.

Luckily, we have had some beautiful days interspersed with all the bleaker weather. There have been some glorious mornings that start with a beautiful sunrise and then some stunning sunsets, which finish the day on a spectacular note. These days are such a treat during these winter months – the days when you can get outdoors and enjoy a good walk, the sunshine, nature, beautiful views and see winter at its best.

There’s also all that festive sparkle, as we nearly reach Christmas too. Thoughts of those winter traditions spring to mind – mulled wine, hot ciders and spiced punches. The aromas of the festive cooking – oranges, cinnamon, spices welcoming you inside. Christmas cake, mince pies, hams cooking on the hob, turkey, duck and beef roasting in the oven. A warm fire and candlelight. I look forward to these and this weekend’s Christmas preparations…