4 months and a nod to Neil Bartlett

I’ve been to hell and I haven’t yet come back but I have at least turned round. I know this is nowhere near “coming to terms with” or “accepting”. I know I will always love Carol, and Chris. A cloud has lifted with my increasing return to mobility.

Hell was thinking about things that I can’t write here. Hell was that I haven’t yet worked out what the point is. Maybe I never will, maybe the point is not something I can hold in my hand.

Well Frankie I don’t know what I’m gonna find
Maybe nothing at all, maybe a world I can call mine
Shining like these streetlights down here on the strand
Bright as the rain in the palm of your hand

Bruce Springsteen

Take everything away and what is left? I started to count my blessings. I have a beautiful home, Carol and I made it beautiful with a great deal of help from Paul who knows our house and especially the boiler better than me. I live in a nice area with great views and it’s really quiet. There are goats in the field next to the house and sometimes a cat comes to visit. There are birds and owls and bats. And then there are my friends.

I have one friend who came every week, she put the recycling out, brought me a Costa espresso, odd items of shopping and posted my mail. And she hates driving up the big hill to Blackstone Edge.

One friend took me to A&E and stayed with me whilst I got fixed up in the first plaster cast. Two friends took me to the GP and kept me company, another picked up drugs at a moment’s notice. Two friends came and cooked me lunch. Seven friends took me out to pubs and restaurants where we had lunches and a taster dinner, one of them also brought me supplies of meals she had cooked to go in the freezer. I now have a good knowledge of most of the pubs within a 4 mile radius. The Moorcock was amazing and I’m thinking of walking there for a beer one evening when I can.

I was brought brownies, daffodils, deluxe chocolates and biscuits. I was sent books and a jigsaw, still working on that one! I had face to face visits, one a complete surprise which was totally delightful (we hadn’t seen each other for a long while), video calls and phone calls. One friend rang me every week and got me through the shittiest bits. One friend stayed with me and took me out and helped me to get used to life on the hop, including how to make real coffee easily. And one friend came every week and worked on the house, tiling the bathroom, rehanging doors and shifting a tree’s worth of logs. He is now repairing and sorting the windows.

Then there are the Facebook friends who have helped to keep me up and made me laugh even when I’ve been very down.

Some friends are family and many of my family are friends. The best thing is that I’ve found out who my friends are and my friends are just exactly who I thought they were.

Carol and Chris are no longer here to “catch me should I fall“. I did just that, and found out what I needed to know. Thank you so much.

Here’s Liz reading Neil Bartlett’s That’s What Friends are For.

Standing is good but not the same as walking!

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Pillar 1st April 2018

This trip had been a long time coming. In 2010 Chris and I had a Lakeland Adventure around Ennerdale Water where we wild camped then stayed in Ennerdale YH and finished up in the Castle Inn on Bassenthwaite Lake for a proper treat. We discussed climbing Pillar and how we would do it.

In 2014, we returned to Ennerdale and walked to Black Sail YH and then Chris got sick. It was very sudden and very clear that we were not going to climb Pillar that day. So we changed our plans and did some other things. She was such a tough woman that she did go up Catbells the next day albeit very very slowly but she was so determined to do it. That was the last mountain she climbed.

I went to Wasdale in 2015 and tried to ascend from the other side. I hadn’t allowed enough time and my boot lace disintegrated and although I had a good walk that day, Pillar was just a stretch too far.

Easter 2018: I booked a break on Derwent Water. I set it up so that I had a choice of 3 possible days to walk and I would just take the best of the 3 from the weather forecasts. The first day had very limited visibility on the tops, day 2 was looking good and day 3 looking very pants. I opted for the Sunday.

I drove round from Portinscale where I was staying to Wasdale Head, an hour’s drive. Parked up with no problems near the campsite. And then just walked. You have to go quite a long way in what feels like and is completely the wrong direction but that’s so as to avoid things like the screes. So it’s up to the Black Sail Pass and then basically back along and up and up, including a sort of knarly, knobbly knot which was hands on and fun. It’s a good long walk and always another bit to do but after 3 hours I got to the top and just the top plateau was snow covered, I knew it was a plateau but with the name Pillar you are expecting something else! There is Pillar Rock which is a climbing challenge and why the place is called Pillar. Fantastic 360 views of the sea, Ennerdale Water and Sellafield!

The last of Chris’s ashes are now scattered on the top of the mountain she didn’t reach in life.

I had planned to do a circuit but it looked a lot more snowy ahead so I returned via the same route because I was on my own.

Derwent Water

Derwent Water

Pillar

Ennerdale Water from Pillar

https://my.viewranger.com/track/widget/7559522?locale=en&m=miles&v=2

Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map and use a compass with me and my navigation partner, Cath.

MAPandCOMPASS

CCP Aberystwyth to Borth

26th August 2017

Early breakfast in Coffee 1. Drove to and parked up in Borth. Bus back to Aber. Whilst waiting for the bus, a young lad started talking to me and I am still wondering about him, I thought he was getting on the bus but when I looked back he had disappeared. I think he wanted something but he didn’t get it whatever it was.

In Aber, I went on the Cliff Railway because the last time I went on it was with Chris about 30 years ago, it was just the same, the newer cafe looked just as rubbish as the old one did.

Then I walked to Borth. After the Llanrhystud to Aberystwyth stretch being devoid of people, this was like being on a motorway. It’s a short walk but with a lot of up and downs per kilometre. It took me a bit over 2 hours.

I just walked as far as my car. I decided to finish my CCP at Borth. Drove to Ynyslas to eat my lunch because Chris loved it there, it was pretty busy in the bank holiday weekend sun.

Had a coffee at the community cafe, started for home and then called in at the Dyfi Osprey Project that Chris also loved. I never managed to make it there with her and wanted to see it, what a brilliant place, and I saw Monty the osprey who will shortly be setting off on his travels.

I’m raising money for amyloidosis research which is vitally needed, to help with early diagnoses, joined up care, more than one amyloidosis centre in the whole of the UK, and treatment that works. It’s a vile disease and it would be great if we can do something to relieve people’s suffering. Please visit my JustGiving page.

Some of the ups and downs

Possibly another lime kiln, near a huge house

What a location

Sunny Borth

Accidental photo

Llanerchaeron

25th August 2017

A day off from the CCP.

Met up with Hilary and Gerry and Bobby the dog. We went to Llanerchaeron because Chris, Gerry and I had a very happy day here just over a year ago. Chris did everything she wanted to do, ice cream, shopping, raffle tickets, sitting in the sun, wheeling around the lake and the walled garden. She was very happy that day. I’d also been here with her in slightly better days the previous year.

July 2016

July 2015

This day, Bobby wasn’t allowed to go around the lake or walled gardens so we went along an old railway track including old station remnants. Lovely walk and Bobby just about managed the stiles.

Lunch beset by wasps. What is the point of a wasp?

Back to Mwnt to say goodbye to Andy and Kaye and Charlie the dog. Then to Aber, staying in the Premier Inn. Medina for more excellent calming food and another good lager.

Bobby, Hilary and Gerry

Ye olde shed

Old station at Llanerchaeron

Ceredigion Coast Path Aberaeron to Llanrhystud

23rd August 2017

Andy and I both drove to Llanrhystud and then he taxied me back to Aberaeron. We had some lunch and then I finally dragged myself onto the path away from Kaye’s temptation of ice cream!

It took me just over 3 hours to walk back to my car, a little longer than I thought because I stopped and chatted to some very pleasant folk along the way. First a man with a huge beard who was clearing the path with a brush cutter. He plans to reach Cwm Tyddu by Friday, it looked hot heavy work. Next a woman walking the path in memory of someone who had died from sarcoma, then a young woman who was great and asked if I minded dogs, she had a very well behaved youthful husky.

It was gorgeous walking weather. I didn’t like the last bit where there was about a kilometre along the road. I managed to skip under fences where a great many cows were coming, I decided not to be scared of cows. That said, once I got on the road, there was a bull behind a little fence who gave me some very leery looks.

Checked into Penybont B&B in Clarach, clean, comfortable and welcoming. Into Aber for saucy meatballs at Little Italy on North Parade. Bottle of Peroni.

I’m finishing off my CCP which is from Cardigan to Borth. It does continue to Machynlleth but I’m stopping at Borth, don’t want to do the flat bit along the bog, and then drop in at Ynyslas because Chris liked it there.

I’m raising money for amyloidosis research which is vitally needed, to help with early diagnoses, joined up care, more than one amyloidosis centre in the whole of the UK, and treatment that works. It’s a vile disease and it would be great if we can do something to relieve people’s suffering. Please visit my JustGiving page.

Back to Aberaeron

Forward

One of 4 lime kilns

A dingly dell

Goodbye, darling Chris 

22nd August, what would have been her 64th birthday.

We gathered at Mwnt, some travelling across the world. There were people from all parts of Chris’s big shining life. It was good to reconnect after 30 years, with Roselle. The first place that Chris and I lived together was with Roselle and Pascale in Hinton Road in Bristol and I haven’t seen her since then. Beginnings and endings.

Marc Treanor rocked up with sticks, rope and rakes. Those who wanted to, joined in with creating the sand circle. It was Chris’s tattoo with her name at the top. It was amazing watching it take shape from above.

When it was done, we formed a human circle around the circumference with Chris’s family, friends and complete strangers from the beach. I had Andy in one hand and a very small sandy hand belonging to a skinny little boy in the other. We sang happy birthday to Chris.

As the tide came in those of us left gathered around Chris’s name. Andy scattered her ashes in the lettering. The tide came in and Chris took her last swim.

A beautiful day for my beautiful soulmate. Champagne as the sun went down. Let your love lift me up.

In Antwerp for a Bruce gig

Video of the sand creation, by Marc Treanor

Music: Lift me up by Bruce Springsteen

CCP Llanrhystud to Aberystwyth 

24th August 2017

I stayed in Penybont B&B in Clarach. John kindly drove me in to Aber. I had a coffee in Coffee #1. Hopped on the T5 I think. Anyway it took me to Llanrhystud. Carol rang just as I got off the bus, great relief as had been having no response to messages for 2 days. It turned out she had been sleeping a lot.

Back on the path. I felt like an old donkey all day and did it very slowly. There were a lot of ups, seemingly more than downs! Used my poles most of the day because the grass was slippery after the early heavy shower. No rain on me, sunny and windy. I only saw 2 people on the path all the way to Aber so it felt oddly remote. It took me about 5 and a half hours to get to Aber but then I felt pretty tired so had an ice cream in Pizza 25. John came and retrieved me.

There were signs where they weren’t really needed, e.g. Straight on or in the sea and also a lack of signage when it was. The path went through a field of cows but I coped.

I ate in Medina. Good food, good service. I had 3 salads and a Hell lager. Felt calmer.

I’m raising money for amyloidosis research which is vitally needed, to help with early diagnoses, joined up care, more than one amyloidosis centre in the whole of the UK, and treatment that works. It’s a vile disease and it would be great if we can do something to relieve people’s suffering. Please visit my JustGiving page.

Just loved this tunnel

These were massive, dinner plate size

I think it’s a chaffinch but please correct me if I’m wrong

Gateway to the sea