This little house will be loved by someone new soon.
Skye blue House or whatever it becomes will soon belong to a new family who will print their chapters into its story.
This house has served us well, a solid and warm place to be and feel, creative, a home by the sea with lots of potential and bags of charm. In five minutes you can walk to the beach, three minutes you can enjoy St Abbs harbour and a mile and a half walk to Coldingham, where a variety of community groups and activities await.
This little house served us well.
A lot of charm, a lot of memories
Nestled in a village of dramatic and beautiful landscapes
We celebrated five years in Skye Blue house recently. Five years in St Abbs. Five years of watching my daughter turn from a child into a beautiful young woman.
Five years of furry feet, blue paint, furry feet in blue paint, and repainting blue paint before furry feet go back outside and make blue paw prints .
Five years of weathering the storms. All kinds of storms.
Five years of isolation. In the cave on the cliff in the wind, five years of intense Artwork and writing.
Five years of healing. Five years of waiting for the wind to drop. Five years of waiting to hear from rheumatologists what the body knew already; that this climate often makes your condition more painful. But five years of the best tonics, moments lost in singing, laughing, planting and growing and creating with, and for others.
All journeys create possibilities, for friendships, opportunities, detours and adventures. On ours here, many have been shared in stories online, and turned into poems and illustrations. Best of all has been the friendships grown through teaching and sharing in Art, with our choir buddies and drama buddies , friends who will now last a lifetime. Friends who leave precious memories.
Our home has undergone a radical transformation from it’s old self. A Fireplace was put in, thank goodness, as it saved us when storm Arwen hit. Although not much else was saved. A caravan upturned, blew its windows, took its contents and spewed them back out, Christmas gifts, vintage china and sewing supplies landed all over the garden whilst two shed roofs were ripped off and trees disappeared. A home here, was going to be interesting, little did we know it would involve a brand new skillset.
Walls have held murals, garden stones have become colourful pathways, fairies hid in corners, flowers bloomed and Art was made in one of three stripy beach huts. Very few months, even in Summer, stay warm consistently, so when it was good weather- all outside jobs had to get done at once!
It may sound far-fetched, but the climate impacts hugely on joint pain and arthritis. Something happens inside the bones, inflaming the pain, pressurising nerves, slowing blood flow. When temperatures drop even a little, when air pressure changes, when it is both damp and cold there is a shift inside, almost like the body knows it must protect itself from unnecessary movement. Walking, bending and getting out of bed becomes harder, fatigue (annoyingly) wins out just when you’re having fun. After about August, there are less and less usable hours of the day (in the North!), and this means that from late Summer onwards, a more insular lifestyle once again looms because you feel cold. Needing more rest, (no matter how much you do to combat symptoms) , winter becomes a necessary retreat.
Positivity becomes a necessary armour, a way of life to balance the enormity of this struggle. Certainly some days are easier than other days, but the common link for most sufferer’s wellbeing is warmth.
Every year, in this cycle, there is a time portal where new ideas can become new realities. Those – keep – you-awake-at-night- ideas that might, seed and grow into real flourishing, exciting, life enhancing adventures. Activities that if you try really really hard can be organised and achieved whilst the sun is out and the bones are a bit less creaky. This is, on average, for us here, three or four months. ( I know this because it is how long the heating isn’t on full) Perhaps only a few days of that time are really warm.
This time pressure is both exciting and utterly crazy. It makes it impossible to plan things around the year, because there is no pacing. Adrenalin works all the harder for completing projects in warmer times, ( think what you’re doing right now, what your days are like in this sun.) For most its a time to lie on a deckchair with a good book, or avoid the heat altogether. If cold is the enemy, precious hot days can cause an ironic over exertion and subsequent fatigue. (This can also appear that you have no mobility problems, and impact on the support you need) If only that were true, as you crawl into your bed while the day is still light and the birds chirp happily; but at least the chair is painted and the pots are de-weeded.
Nature’s paint box on a sunny Day
Last Summer we considered a move to a warmer climate. Our road trip adventures were planned for months, and we manged two long, long journeys to the South of England and back again with carloads of belongings, and an assortment of animals of all shapes and sizes. In case you missed it, here is a link to come back to.
We needed a lot of belief in what we had planned. The countdown began, the boxes packed, the maps unfolded. Post Covid, we were all stepping gingerly into the unknown.
But, the best laid plans…. Just when you think life is going in one direction…
For reasons best left to history, and after a lot of deep breathing, praying and motivational speaking by a too-wise-for-her-years young companion…….
Our journey then, ended where it began, back home . (which now, thanks universe, we appreciate!)
We squashed back into the car, all seven of us, two car loads in one, all the paws and madness, and drove back to Scotland after arriving the night before. With no school clothes organised, she started back the next day, and we crash landed into life as we knew it . I set about unpacking the house again, repainting the walls, throwing energy into teaching my lovely Art classes and spending time with those we love. We were and are seasoned pros at getting on with life.
In these last couple of years, we have had the fortune to know and care about such lovely people.
So much artwork has been created, shared, and inspired us all to keep going. And we will continue to do this remotely and together online throughout the Summer and beyond.
These memories and connections are a part of something very special, and sharing artwork on our seasparkle site has created an ever expanding exhibition, no matter the experience or theme.
This little village holds its magic if you know where to look.
A bounty of ideas for any creative
During this last year, we have all learnt so much about our own resilience and ability to just cope. In life, it is often very difficult to gain approval from everyone, or move forward without having a consistent network to support you.
But the greatest thief of living life is fear, even if it comes from a place of love. Often we are numbed into a paralysis not only by our caution, but from those around us. And sometimes, we just got to trust those instincts. And the ones who have been there all along.
This time we are feeling the fear and doing it anyway. It has been a long time coming, this journey of ours. Freedom to seek out the sun and find our true colours. Freedom to explore and take what we need to where we choose to go.
And after months of planning, this is Our Big Adventure – part two..
In a few moments time, we are going on another road trip.
For weeks we have been living like students surrounded by bags and boxes, with ever shrinking space inbetween.
The juggling of Life and Art was a bit of a challenge! Making stuff takes… well a lot of stuff….
As well as the concert, there was a fashion show
A Craft Fair
Three Art Workshops,
A Book Illustration
And a holiday to Turkey
All in the middle of the chaos.
For the zoo, as long as there was cuddles and food, life remained the same in the nest. The house might have been a Rubik’s cube of boxes and huge bags, and the space between shrinking, but food and love still got delivered.
The future is an exciting blank canvas, thoroughly primed, brushes at the ready…
The caravan left yesterday to its new home…
We are getting the maps out..
The excitement is mounting…
Books and Art and all that “crap you’ll have trouble ever shifting ” is safely sorted, and in storage thanks to months of hard work, patience and help from one or two angels😇
Six months ago all of the above were just ideas, conversations, which became plans. A lot can happen if you believe it can !
Every scrap of kindness will be with us always.
A few goodbyes with our favourite people before our journey begins.
And now.. before the next chapter starts all that’s left is to sprinkle a little glitter
and thank the universe for all that it has given …
See you on the other side!! All our love, Liz and the zoo xx
Travelling anywhere now feels like such a blessing. Grateful for every new avenue that opened up, we all yearned for so long to be, not only; anywhere-but-the-village; but anywhere-but-the-sofa. The world had closed it’s pathways, as we peered through windows, marooned, masked and frightened, shrouded in uncertainty as to how we might ever explore distant shores again.
Time inevitably stumbled on, pandemic, what pandemic?
Here we are now in Antalya, Turkey . And as far as we can see, there isn’t a mask in sight, There is no social distancing and no body parts have been sanitised.
It is quieter than expected here. The British school holidays haven’t begun yet, impacting on how many older children there are here. A bonus in swimming pools to oneself!
This is an all exclusive offering all the usual facilities, a very smart and organised hotel. It is beautiful, one of the cleanest and friendliest hotels we have been to. And it is is enormous. There are several pools, the hotel has its own beach and jetty, and there are even a selection of hotel cats who are allowed on the furniture.
Nobody has body swerved us in a queue or ducked away from a tickly cough. It almost feels as if, life has pretty much gone back to normal for a traveller. Only of course if you travel with mobility issues: you are often still faced with exactly the same old problems.
This holiday began well. Newcastle Airport was brilliant. The lady at the car drop off offered to take our trolley in for us, the desk wasn’t open but the staff offered alternative seating and the assistance service was as usual kind and efficient. The man pushing the wheelchair even waited for her majesty to choose perfume in Duty Free. (no, not me) Now that’s beyond his usual job remit!) .
Just like Covid19, an illness, pain or a disability can be invisible until it isn’t. People easily make snap judgements on your demeanour and your look and often don’t know you are sore. Yes, that’s a compliment in a way, but it is a constant red herring. The invisible smiling armour you must apply can wear thin very quickly as fatigue and pain begin to creep in. Travelling is way harder with mobility problems.
Maintaining your own style, your personality, your way of keeping organised is essential for anyone’s self respect. Which as we all know is a full time job you have to make look effortless. While most people are contemplating their airport look, the newest novel, the newest sunglasses ear buds and phones, your average immobile person is hoping not to miss their flight as they navigate the airport obstacle course. And still attempt a smidge of dignity after being wheeled about the concourse, riding the conveyor belt of chance and loss of personal control.
However, the important thing to remember is not the cards you got dealt, but how you play your hand. Managing being in permanent pain, being unable to simply do what others around you can, takes all your will power not to be sad about. Feeling powerless can be a choice though. To travel happily, one must accept our changing needs and how to best accommodate them.
Unless people know you, if you look well, you might look like you can manage.
When I first got ill, it was confusing. Even family ignored the level of pain I was in and the various and contradictory diagnosis I was receiving. If you don’t have an obvious fixable thing that can be operated on, many people believe you are simply making up your illness. Auto immunity conditions, rheumatoid and osteo arthritis, lupus these are real and they really do hurt. Operations leave scars, scrape bones horribly, leave us needing more support as joints deteriorate. Unfortunately much of the change is internal and tricky to fully fix. At best we create a damage limitation plan, at worst if we aren’t careful we can easily give in to its decay. For me that was not an option. (Although some days are far far harder)
Somehow, accidents and operations are easy to give empathy for. The stealthy, creeping deterioration of disease is a greyer area. It is hard to describe how I can’t walk more than a few feet sometimes, and with warmer air and another day I might get around the block with my sticks and our dog, Bear. It isn’t very sexy having an arthritic condition. Almost without warning your day’s potential changes; from looking not too bad and covering all with a smile to a sudden crippling fatigue leaving you stranded in pain, and making you want to weep. But it is true to say, the weather helps and a holiday was essential.
So, we arrive here having requested assistance at each side of the journey. The airport assistance had pushed me with one hand whilst pulling another man with his foot at breakneck speed through the airport. Whilst she ran to keep up. He then tipped me out at baggage reclaim. Once we had finally found our cases, sadly trundling about last (as we were first on) , we made our way to the door, having been told a rep would great us there and help get us to the hotel. There was no rep, it was midnight, hips had seized up, and everyone but us was running towards a coach.
The distance was horrendous, far longer than I can ever walk. But to add to the pain, a coach of waiting tourists, an anxious child running back to me every five minutes to check and the knives in my hip bones, found me eventually in my seat in tears. This wasn’t how I intended to start my holiday.
Having to ask for help is the worst thing when you actually need help. At your lowest, the absolute last thing you want to feel is that you have no power left, no dignity, no ability to care for yourself. Unfortunately, some of these things can be true, and what you need more than anything is a mind reader who knows your needs before you do, sees you as a real person still and does not make you feel guilty for asking for help. The trickiest of ages for a carer is a teen . Without going into detail, let’s say their heads are elsewhere and the world only includes their own image. A natural stage indeed but travelling with one relies on a travel structure as well as teenage hormone fluctuations.
On our way to the hotel There was no actual rep, just an envelope thrust at each party. Perhaps this was the new normal? Maybe things would be alright once we could finally unpack.
Once in the hotel, despite having organised a disabled friendly room, one near a lift, in the main block, we were told it was (vague hand gesture outside). We were led through acres of garden, the walking sticks making little difference to our young bellboy, to a very far away building at the edge of the complex. The young lad pulling our cases was nice enough, but it just felt like again, I was apologising for being slow or unable and it was agony. The moment the door closed was the last straw for us both . This room if it was kept would be a prison- too far from anything to enjoy. Cue a meltdown of epic proportions ( both) although mine was rather less blasphemous) and a promise that this would indeed not be our holiday spot.
But it was one o’clock in the morning and, “Yes, I know we can’t fold t shirts into cubby holes, and put our make up on the counter, but that can wait a couple more hours; now stop shouting and go to bed.”
The next day took another six hours to rehouse us. What that meant was not being able to properly access medicine, toiletries and swim stuff, and not relax into the holiday. And that isn’t good enough. Because there are thousands of spaces in this hotel, and (from what I could see) very few people with additional mobility needs. This had been booked due to the proximity to facilities, and I had specifically asked for assistance support. She had to get special permission to be out of school as a young carer too.
The new room was exactly what we needed and finally we could get settled in. Any complaints fizzled out as the staff throughout the week were attentive and polite.
Drawing attention to what can go wrong for a traveller will. I hope, make organisations better listen to us. Luckily, on this occasion it was tiny details in the big scheme of things which could have improved our experience massively. The holiday company booking us were asked all the right questions and knew specifics.
For example, there is a steep set of stairs here to the low pools and beach. Although the hotel has every available amenity; most involve walking. There aren’t very many accessible poolside loos, meaning one must plan for each potential route each day. As a self service all inclusive, it would be helpful to have ways to carry food to tables in the restaurant, or to make accessing the various food and drink spots easier for anyone not able to traverse the resort. To enjoy an evening drink in the room involved a complex system of separate ice, mixer and vodka, and a (not always) compliant assistant. Although a little sugar bribery goes a long way ..
Tracking down our rep by phone eventually, we asked for trips suitable for low mobility guests. Initially before he met us in person, he said there were none. ” Only if you can walk. ”
It is easy at this point to just give up. But lying in heat all day doing nothing is not our thing. So we met the rep in person and he got more of an idea of our situation. We booked an excursion to various stops in one day, including a river cruise. By the end of the day, I truly could barely move, but we saw enough sights to justify the pain, and managed some discount shopping too.
The hotel offered a spa service with several types of massage. When letting them know I needed a gentler type of massage, they insisted it would cost double because it was a special child’s massage because I am disabled. I cancelled that reservation. Paying double for half an experience seems daft. So instead we went to a traditional Hamam and had the full Turkish Bath experience. I declined the hot stone extra that could fix my arthritis for an extra £35 euro.
A few tips on travelling with health or mobility issues
It goes without saying that most people managing an illness or disability have to be fairly organised. Or they have a carer who is. Making sure everything you need for the day is not only packed but accessible. If you were your carer what would you give yourself?
Traveling is a great way to discover different areas, cultures, and cuisines. When it comes to traveling with mobility issues, planning a trip can feel overwhelming; however, it just takes some planning in advance to set your travel concerns at ease.
Plan in Advance
Call your airline, bus, trains, and hotels ahead of time to discuss your special accommodations and figure out what amenities are offered. By calling ahead, you’re able to gain more information and be proactive about preventative issues that could occur.
Factors to consider
Reserve a seat ahead of time
Call and discuss disabled accessibility of platforms/lifts/facilities
Request a seat close to the bathrooms
Ask about storage for any special equipment you may have
Questions to ask when finding a hotel to meet your needs:
How are the rooms set up?
Is the bathroom accommodating to prevent potential falls/slips?
What in-room guest services are offered?
What additional amenities will be provided to ensure your stay is as relaxing as possible?
Additionally, consider what special equipment you’ll need, the stamina and needs of you or your caregiver, and the accessibility of sites; planning these factors prior to your trip will help eliminate hiccups.
Traveling with mobility issues can seem overwhelming when you think about all the factors at once; however, when you take the time to plan in advance, you’re able to accomplish one item of your checklist at a time and successfully plan your trip.
Knowing what help you need to ask for can be hard. Especially if you look relatively OK, sometimes pain and limitations are not so easy to see. But a break away from it all can be possible for you.
Making sure your holiday team are briefed to enjoy all aspects of your trip.
Travelling full stop relies on several things for the monkey and me. Planning, belief, patience, acceptance, and a vision of an an end goal.
To have a mobility problem can affect your sense of self. But letting those fears win is losing your ticket to adventures and possibilities. Yes, you might need help, but you can chose to how and what to accept with gratitude and know it does not lessen you as a human being.
A kernel of power still burns inside on your pain days, frustrations when you can’t access freedoms like you perceive others can, will pass and new avenues will open.
Those initial hours in the resort could have been the undoing of all the hard work of getting abroad for the first time in four years. But so too these things will pass. And each day thereafter staff were aware and helpful. Managing to get around the resort with the help of the photographer, even resulted in some pictures of us, for once not looking cold and windswept!
We all need to remember that we can make things happen if we really want them. Everyone needs help sometimes, and by letting others help you; it becomes so much more possible for them to see what you are giving to and being in the world. Pain might be your constant companion, but it can sit and wait while post Pandemic life gets a chance too.