Tag Archive for doing it

All Aboard

Stock photograph of Glasgow Central Station sign

The story starts here The start of an adventure… 

With a coffee in hand, along with my suitcase, book bag, handbag and guide dog I soon found the mobility assistance within London Euston Railway station.  My assistance had been pre-booked so at just after 22:00 i was guided to my train.

The man assisting me happily took my case and my book bag and off we went.

It was a very different ‘check-in’ for The Caladonian Sleeper.  It reminded me more of checking in to a flight.

First I checked in and was informed by the staff that I would be upgraded to a berth, they allocated me the ‘accessibile berth’ so that I was directly beside the toilet and just a door away from the lounge car.

The train measured over a quarter of a mile long and I was towards the furthest end.  This is because the train that leaves Euston travels towards Scotland as one train, before splitting; with one part going towards Edinburgh and the other part towards Glasgow.

Photograph is of the side of The Caladonian Sleeper train carriage from the platform

Once onboard the train, my room wasn’t quite ready, so I was seated in the lounge car where I was able to enjoy reading the extensive whiskey menu before I settled for a glass of red wine; before making myself and Fizz comfortable for the night in our berth.

Photograph from the open electronic door on my berth, showing the open and close panel on the left, Fizz sat in front of the single bed which has an orange hand rail and a top bunk bed that is seen at the top of the picturePhotograph is taken from where I sat in the bottom bunk in the berth, showing the width of the bed, with a counter at the end of the bed and the sink with a bottle of water on the side

The bed was comfortable, I took the extra pillows off the top bunk and although I looked at the little ‘sleep pack’ that was sat on the bed, I chose not to make use of the eye mask or ear plugs.  For my first ever sleeper journey I wanted to be as aware of my surroundings as possible.

I plugged my phone and watch in the USB ports, worked out which switch was for the main light and the bed light; popped to the loo again for one last time and tucked in to bed to listen to my audio book all before the train had even left the station.

This was a school girl error as I suddenly felt very aware and awake when the train did start moving.  Especially at the beginning when we were stopping at other London stations (just like a normal train would) so it was not until we were clear of London that I found myself getting comfortable again and drifting off to sleep.

I remember waking several times throughout the night, but there was not a clear reason for it.  It wasn’t until I awoke in a panic when the train seemed to ‘turn off’ that I got a reasonable nights sleep.

My panic awakening was because I felt that we must surely have arrived in Glasgow, although upon reaching my phone I realised I was over an hour early for the arrival time of Glasgow, let alone for the extra thirty minutes I had to vacate my room once we did arrive.

So I took the time to get dressed and raise the blind in my room to let the Scottish scenery in.  I even made myself a Herbalife shake for breakfast and got packed up.

Photograph of the open blind within my birth showing the countryside with the sink and worktop in the foreground

It wasn’t long before we pulled into Glasgow Central Station and the kind staff gave me a bottle of apple juice and informed me that my requested station assistance was ready to guide me from the train to the exit of the station.

It was lovely to walk into a quiet station (being 7:10 on a Tuesday morning). The rail assistance asked me where I was heading and asked if I needed help getting a taxi, I politely informed him that I was going to head to my hotel to drop off my case and enable Fizz to stretch her paws along The River Clyde.

Because thanks to more support on social media and google maps I knew all I had to do was walk toward the river and then along it for 19 minutes to reach my base for the next day and a half.  The Glasgow Crowne Plaza.

TO BE CONTINUED …

You climb with your mind

…… Your arms and legs are only a tool to enable you to achieve any height. (Or something similar)

This was in one of the many climbing books I have read, it is one that has (loosely) stuck with me.  My CPiC often says think positively and you can achieve anything.

Well, on Tuesday I attended the 2nd round of the BMC 2017 Paraclimbing competition at The Castle Climbing Centre in London.  And I am beginning to think I shouldn’t have gone.

I have lots of things going on in my personal life at this time that I am trying to work my way through, the funny weather and darker evenings are beginning to take effect too.

So to say I wasn’t on top form on Tuesday would be an understatement!

I was exhausted, I was emotionally tired before the climbing even started and it was only a very last minute decision that actually saw me attend.

Because up until 10pm Monday night I wasn’t going to go.  I didn’t want to go and perform badly.  But some smooth words of encouragement from my CPiC and I changed my mind, because going and performing badly would still put me above where I would be if I didn’t show up.  So I was already beating my worst possible scoring just by showing up and getting my hands and feet on those first holds.

I set myself a personal challenge to get through the day.

Remembering back to last years competition at The Castle where I didn’t reach for the next hold for fear of failing, I told myself

you have to climb until you fall… Because there is a 50:50 chance you COULD make it

But if you dont reach for it, you won’t know if you could have made it.

My footwork was clunky and I was ill spending energy because of it, but I made it to the top of my first climb and a sense of pride kicked in.

I. may actually know how to do this!

But I was already physically tired and cold.  Never a good mix when you have problems to solve and climbs to overcome.

I was also starting to struggle with the venue.  There was an AMAZING turn out for the competition, with people coming far and wide.  The Centre was only open for the competition. So everyone there was there for just one thing.

The noise was unbearable and distracting at times.  There were different languages, accents and pitches of voices in addition to well deserved cheers and applauses to those climber who had pulled of a good move or topped a route.

I wanted to take my hearing aids out. But instead I took myself out.

Actually I took myself and Fizz out.  Outside to stand amongst the relative quiet (by comparison) busy part of London.

Fizz got to sniff the grass and investigate the lavender bushes while I got to breathe.

Breathing; all be it a fundemental to surviving is often something I forget to do when I am concentrating on a problem or a climb.

I found myself crying as I breathed in; I found myself sitting on the sandy, stony path burying my head into Fizz’s neck as she offered me reassurance.  I found myself feeling rediculous.

So I stood up, dusted myself off went back inside to finish what I started.  To climb !!

Thankfullly my brief departure went unnotice (or at least unmentioned) and I was able to warm myself up with a hot drink and face the climbs ahead.

It wasn’t my best performance.

And by being the only female VI I gained a gold medal (purely by default)

But although I wasn’t at my best, I did complete all of my climbs and my boulder problems.  And by the end of the day I felt much better for showing up and not going up.

The troubles I have are still there and still need to be deal with, but for this competition I did go.  And for that I am thankful.

 

Standing Alone amongst Thousands.

Image of the high quarry walls of Ratho EICA garden, with dark storm clouds behind creating a bright reflection of light from the sun from behind the photographers

Ratho is ingrained on my memory; it is where it all began; it is a place that until this weekend I had only ever been once before.  But my memories of it didn’t disappoint me.

Although, sadly my sight and hearing did.

What is so special about Ratho I hear you ask?

Well…….

Ratho is the home to EICA or Edinburgh International Climbing Arena.  It is where my journey REALLY began with my climbing.  The date was  3rd September, 2016.  Yes I did say 2016!

However, it would take until 9th September 2017 to really realise it.  You see, this is the date that I made my second visit.  The visit that was filled with mixed emotions, anxieties and fears.  But for very different reasons.

And it is because of this that this visit where I felt much more so than ever before that I was alone.

Obviously I wasn’t literally alone; I was surrounded by 43 other paraclimbers, who included my best friend and CPC (Climbing Partner in Crime) in addition to about 400 other climbers, spectators, Scottish Mountainering and BMC staff.

But still I felt alone.

Wizz back to that date in 2016 and I found myself at my very first Climbing Competition; totally ill-prepared and in a much poorer condition to that of the climbers all around me.

But I had a rucksack full of nerves and a naive mindset that I wasn’t troubled by it.  Again my CPC was there, he having not signed up to compete, he who subsequently volunteered to be a belay and judge for one of the climbs.  Leaving me to face this adventure alone.

Although it wasn’t until Saturday I realised just how much I had taken that to heart and how much I needed to summon up the same courage I had had the previous year.

This year I KNEW Ratho would be different.  Not physically (although yes the climbs would be set differently) but for me, One year later I now wear hearing aids, my sight has detereated even further and my physical and mental strength had changed.

The changes in my physical strength and my climbing capabilities are most definitely a positive and I couldn’t wait to push myself on the climbs.  However with my sight and hearing changes, my mental state was in a questionable way.

It was such a way that I couldn’t face explaining or mentioning it to my CPC, Ratho this year held its own challenges for him, he didn’t need to deal with my Sh*t too!

You see, last year he started the competition at Round 2.  So, although he had been to EICA before, he had never climbed or competed.  This year is also the start of the competing calender for his son.  Who has NEVER competed before and although he loves to climb has a great fear of heights.

My CPC needed to be their for himself and his son.  Not me.

After all, I am a grown woman, I didn’t ‘physically’ need him there to partner me, as the belayers where also judges for the competition.

But for the first time in a very long time I found myself surrounded by familiar faces, yet standing alone.

This was my demon on Saturday, not the fault of anyone else, most certainly not my CPC’s, my other friends or even fellow competitors.  It wasn’t even my ‘fault’ it was just a demon that was with me.

And one I was desperate to ditch before the competition began.

One ‘thing’ I have noticed is that I often only see (yes I know how ironic that sounds) the changes in my sight when I return to something or somewhere that I have been before, but not for some time.

On a day-to-day I don’t ‘notice’ the changes.  It is when I go somewhere or go to do something I haven’t done in some time that I notice it.  The main reason for this is and ‘perks’ to my sight is because the deteriation occurs ever so slightly, and the sight that I have left is so minimal that no change is ever obvious.

It is for this reason I have yet to return to my university town of Nottingham (that’s a whole other story though, for another time).

I dread being able to detect the changes.  And if I am honest, I really didn’t think that in ONE YEAR Ratho could be so different.  I had forgotten that although I was under the care of the audiology team, I was unaware of the exact change to my hearing.  I most certainly was not aware that I would be needing hearing aids.  So, it is no wonder that by changing the ‘sound’ of the venue, I inturn realised how this visually changed the whole venue too; before even adding in the confirmed deteriation I had been told of at last weeks eye clinic appointment!!!

I took myself away, I left my CPC and fellow competitors.  I (guided by Fizz) escaped to the tranquility and safety of the gardens of Ratho.  Being built within a quarry you end up entering the building at the top and walk down into it, meaning that the garden is almost level with the main climbing floor.  There was the odd person about, but more importantly there was silence.  There was birdsong, which I didn’t remember from last year.  And there were great big slabs of rock to sit on.

And sit on the rock I did.

I sat and I cried.

I sat and I felt myself falling apart.

I sat and I reminded myself to breathe; to control my demon and just allow the emotion to wash over me, yet not allow it to control me.

I sat for far too long, I missed the start of the comp, I missed the group photo, but I was also able to leave the emotions that had gradually been bubbling under the surface behind in the garden.  I was able to let them wash over me, but not control me.

I sat and I focused.

Sod not being able to see the faces of my friends.

Sod not being able to see the walls as clearly.

After all, I am a visually impaired climber, no one in the competition would be worrying about me; they were all too worried about themselves and their own performances. (It’s human nature and self-preservation)

So I took a deep breath and returned, plastered on a smile and ‘acted’ the confident climber; I ‘acted’ the inspirational climber with the shear stubborn nature that others had previously commented on.

Oh…… And more importantly……. I CLIMBED

This is a WHOLE other challenge (Pretty awesome though)

So, in recent months I have conquered a Cheese-grater, climber my arse off and began to face many of my demons.  But none of these, or even all the climbing competitions I took part in last year compared to this mornings events.

Having told you all about my change of volunteer role in Scouting I did what anyone would do; in preparation for an upcoming weekend.

I bought a tent!

I had previously gone to a large outdoors shop with a friend and had a good look at all they had on show, I fell in love with a canvas Tippee.  However at just under £800 it wasn’t going to be for me at the moment.  I was able to walk among various sizes and layouts.  But as with everything, budget was my biggest factor.

I had a check list:

  1.  To have a separate bedroom area.
  2.  To be able to stand up in (although a little crouched was ok)
  3.  Have windows.
  4.  Have a black out bedroom area.

And with all this, and the wise words of a good friend who had bought many a tent.  I bought one I felt fit the bill.

I bought a Vango Beta 450 XL in blue.

It arrived yesterday, sat in its box and making me itch with excitement.  The rational in me thought I should wait until I had a friend over to help me, however the ‘kid in a candy store’ won out.

And I set about putting it up!

After all, it had an assembly guide of 15 minutes.  How difficult could it REALLY be?

Well………..

For a start, it took AN HOUR.

Oh and it was a tad bigger than my garden.

Also, with my garden being totally laid in patio, I wasn’t able to fully ‘pitch’ it.  Although with a helping hand of my garden furniture and a few plant pots, I got pretty close!

I had watchful eyes in both Vicky and Fizz who seemed quite amused at times by my antics.  They both had a thorough explore of it; both in its flat form and in its ‘pitched’ form.

I photographed my progress just for you.

Image shows ground sheet laid out on garden patio

In the beginning there was just a ground sheet and a flat tent.

Image of the outer tent laid out flat on the patio ready to assemble

And the instruction…..

3 poles, colour coded for ease with 1 pole longer than the other 2.

3 poles …. Check

colohr coded ….. check; if you count 2 being totally black and 1 having a grey section amongst the black colour?

1 longer than the other 2 …. Ummmm. Nope! 1 shorter (grey section) than the other 2 (totally black)

Maybe I should have stopped at that point.  But given it was all out of the bag, no harm in carrying on.

So following the colour coding; or rather tiny little black or gray tabs of material on the end of the pole sleeve that I hoped was what the instructions were referring too, I carried on.

It wasn’t a easy as it should have been, not having the space to walk around the outside of the tent, it involves climbing over my garden wall (pictured about, it’s about 3f)

I also had to negotiate the poles with the shed and fence as fully extended they where pretty long (even the short one!)

And then came my garden furniture. With the help of a garden chair, a bench and some plant pots I was able to semi-secure the tent in place.

Image shows front quarter angle of erect tent with flower pots holding it in place with the side door open

Image shows side view of tent with door panel open, against the low garden wall and with Guide Dog Fizz looking inside

It was perfect!

The guide ropes and zip toggles are all light blue, there are tension bands on the inside and it has a ‘lip’ to save the weather getting in, should it be wet.

And the added bonus is that I only have to duck my head ever so slightly to move around.

It was hot, it was tricky; but oh wow it was fun!  And I did it all by myself. I was bursting with pride, I sent the photos to a friend with the simple of caption

Look what I just did, not bad considering, am knackered now.

Woth the guide time of 15 minutes, with the advisory that first pitch may take slightly longer, I was happy when I discovered it took me and hour.  Some people may not feel that is something to be proud of, but for someone who has never pitched a tenth before, who has considerably limited vision and who has no help either with reading the instructions or pointing out where the pole sleeves were…… I am totally amazed and proud with my achievement.

…… Now to take it down!

In comparison that took 30 minutes, it was a simple reverse of the pitch.  I folded and rolled my tent, then the ground sheet and even managed to get it all back in the bag!  It wasn’t quite as pretty as when I took it out, but with a quick sitting on to help remove the air.  It was done and ready to put away for camping later next month.

Image shows tent bag with tent inside sat out in the garden on patio.

Now to see how long it takes to pitch in a field !!

10 days ago I climbed a Cheese-Grater !!

Ten days ago I CLIMBED A CHEESE-GRATER:  All 225m plus a little extra for good measure.

It seems so much longer than 10 days.  Part of this is because my hands are shredded like they were after The Gherkin Climb, which although it was a much shorter climb that this one, it was at a time when I firstly hadn’t been climbing very long and secondly I wasn’t as physically fit as I am now.

I won’t lie, it was hard.

It was emotionally exhausting.

It was uncomfortable.

And almost a hard slap in the face to how differently I could see and hear inside the climbing centre.  So much so that at one point mid-climb that found me 2/3rds of the way up a wall I strategically removed and dropped my hearing aids into the awaiting hands of my climbing partner.

During the climb we had the additional media of not one but two GoPro (like) pieces of recording equipment.  We took lots of footage, we shared ‘live’ videos on Facebook during the challenge.  We do however have a fair amount of editing to do before we can share the ‘helmet’ footage or even the footage I didn’t realise was recorded.

This editing is only to remove some of the ‘colourful language’ used, we also have to mindful of copyright on music that was being broadcasted in the background!

It is coming together though, there is some fantastic footage of both myself and Simon my climbing partner accessing and defending the wall.  Simon even talked through descriptively on his final climb!

The support, emotionally, encouragingly and financially have been higher than I ever expected.

At the time of writing this post, HelpTeeHear had raised £900 online and a further £100 off-line.  That is One-Fifth of the total hoped for.

So for now, I say thank you; THANK YOU; thank you.

Taking my time to come down !

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Would you be my eyes?

Watching a film earlier today with an additional audio descript soundtrack; my son asked me

What does blue look like if you can’t see?

A question that made me think, I asked him what he thinks of when he thinks of the colour blue, to me it is the sky, the sea and swimming pools.

But mum, what if you had never seen before? What would blue look like?

And so I decided to write this post, I couldn’t answer my sons questions; but I have told him I will, I just need to do a little research first !!

For as long as the written word has existed there have been ways of evoking images from it.

Abjectives, Verbs, Nouns, connotation, yet these all rely on you knowing what such objects look like. In my research of this subject I have found something, something that was buried at the back of my brain with all of my other Secondary Educational learnings;  Pathetic fallacy – where the weather in the story or written word mirrors the emotion of the scene or the people in it. For example, when it is very hot the characters are agitated or when it is foggy, mystery is evoked. This is used to adds atmosphere to the writing and gives clues to the reader as to what is to come, especially if the weather is described before the event.  Just as many horror movies occur on dark stormy nights.

Do you need to know what weather looks like to understand it?

No, as someone who enjoys every type of weather and the changing seasons this is one element of life that I can use my other senses to understand.  Weather can be truly ‘FELT’ the hot sun on my skin, the drizzly rain, the north-easterly breeze.  Fog comes with the additional sounds of fog horns (living on this coast these can be heard miles in land) Mist gives a dampness to the air that isn’t present when it rains, morning dew has a smell to it, a storm too can have its very own smell and it’s not just thunder that makes a noise.

Weather can’t explain colour or shape though, although it works very well for emotion.

So, I am back at the beginning.

How would you describe the colour blue?  Without using the word, what does blue look like?

I have had sight and I have been fortunate to be able to see and remember colours, images, items.

Even though now my perception of colour is greatly altered, I can only really see the difference between orange and red when they are together and everything I see has a kind of haze or veil over it, so isn’t as vivid or true as it once were.

My hunt for answering my sons questions will continue, but for now; humour me?

Please reply to this blog post with your description of the colour blue.

No judgement will be passed, no humiliation with be sort.  Just an intriguing mind looking for help.

Thank You x

Envious of the mundane

Sat waiting for a friend to arrive and watching (as best I can) the people coming and going with their shopping.

And a very mundane task struck me.  People were walking with shopping bags in both hands.  Sounds rediculous, but in that small insignificant moment I became upset.

And the reason for it?  The realisation that from now and forever I will always walk with one hand full; as I will either be holding a long cane,  a guide dog harness or onto another person’s arm.

It sounds silly, but having to consider what you are buying when you go out, to either contain it in a back pack or worst case over my shoulder.  It is very difficult with Fizz to have a bag in my right hand, she works off of tap que’s and a gentle reminder from having her lead in my right hand at times.

I guess for now I shall just add it to the list of ‘no longer possible’ and carry on by focussing on the ‘can do’ list.

A little over SIXTEEN climbs isn’t THAT much!

… In one day, with each of those climbs topping out at 14m, doesn’t make a 225m climb sound TOO difficult, does it?

Or is it wishful thinking on my part?

Either way, there is no backing out now.  The posters have been printed, the wall booked and my climbing partner (in crime) has agreed.

So, on May 3rd I shall be climbing the equivalent height of The Cheesegrater; otherwise known as The Leadenhall Building, the 225m office building that towers over its closest neighbour (and another building who’s height I have climbed) The Gherkin, 30 St Mary’s Axe.

Time to ‘earn’ my hearing aids.

Poster reading "Climbing a cheesgrater, having conquered a Gherkin."

If you would like to show your support, you can donate HERE

Crowdfunding and me

So, it would appear crowdfunding as aposed to charity fundraising comes with a limit… Not a monetary limit, rather a time limit; of just 120 days !

So having been keen and set up a page (as detailed in my previous posts) we have had to change the name slightly and create a new page.

The £95 that was raised on the original page is being moved over and the link for the new one is:

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/HelpTinkHear

so, the 120 day counter has been reset and from today we have 3 months to raise this.  So, even if it is just £1, if you can help it would be greatly appreciated.

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