Monthly Archives: Sep 2021

One year on…..

On the evening of 9th September 2020, I had a feeling something wasn’t right. My back had been painful for some time but this felt different, so I gathered some bits together, wrote out my Emergancy contacts and medication list and stuck it on the fridge and went to bed.

The following morning I woke after a restless sleep and needed the bathroom. I got there but then the most awful pain I had ever experienced happened. I couldn’t stand, I couldn’t sit. I was holding on to the sink for dear life. I’d lost control of my bladder and bowel. Not a pretty sight at all. Panic set in. What do I do? I didn’t have my phone with me and there was no chance I was going to be able to wake Ben at this hour.

Eventually and I couldn’t tell you how I got back to the bedroom, I rang Ben. No answer. I then rung Bev, I was now panicking and I knew I needed an ambulance. I left Bev to keep ringing Ben whilst I dialled 999. Ben appeared blurry eyed and unsure of what to do as I was screaming and panicking. No matter how I sat or laid I was in agony.

I was taken on to our local hospital, had tests and an MRI scan and the decision was taken to rush my to Kings in London. It was there after a few hours they decided to operate.

I was told after surgery that one of my discs had ruptured and trapped some nerves to my leg, bowel and bladder. But they had removed the disc and nudged the nerves over a little. ( ok they didn’t quite say it like that, it was all very technical) due to covid however though the next morning I was sent home. That in itself was frightening as it just felt to soon.

My friend Sam had stayed with Ben and Suzy and told me on my return she would be staying to help until I was back on my feet. Little did we know this would be two weeks later.

The next fortnight was very hard going. Lots of laying down, not lifting, tired, frustrated. You get the picture. Bev would come over and help me shower, Victoria came and helped around the house, Ben made lots of cups of tea.

Slowly slowly I was gaining strength. Sam went home, Ben stepped up and we started the road to recovery.

I was concerned that I would undo all the work that had been done on my back so I was extremely careful and often asked for help, not like me at all. So many of my friends helped. Took me out or just video called to chat. All of this helped so much.

Over the next few months, I increased my walking distance, time standing and continued my love of renovating furniture and other small projects around the house.

By October I was able to drive my van and we went on holiday to the Isle of Wight. By December I was back to standing for longer periods of time.

Now one year on, September 10th 2021………

Wow, what a difference. I can walk miles and miles, the longest so far being a 14 mile day, I have been Kayaking on the sea, scrambled down rocky surfaces. I am working out with the help of a personal trainer which has helped to rebuild my core and overall strength. I am working again and discovered new hobbies and craft techniques. The garden is looking amazing as I have been physically able to place new beds, re landscape and keep the ponds maintained.

This week I have enjoyed the most active week in Guernsey. Thanks to Martin and Nick we have walked miles and explored this beautiful country. I feel strong enough to be able to do anything now.

Feeling stronger has also helped in another decision. I had a breakdown in 2019 and have since been on medication for this. But I am now on week 5 of safely reducing the meds and I am really noticing the difference. Strong enough to make huge decisions like purchasing a second house to rent and taking on the new part time job. Also the confidence to start selling some of my new crafts. The anxiety creeps in occasionally but I have learnt to control it more.

So an end to the waffling but a few special thanks. (feels like the Oscars lol)

Sam for messaging me every single morning to touch base, Martin, Nick, Mark, Matt, Adam, Dean and Yvonne my geocaching buddies, along with Rob, Sian, Gav and Steph for involving me in the monthly quiz’s. Victoria and Jono. Paula for giving me confidence back and teaching me some new skills. Terry, Sandy, Lynn and my new friends over in Guernsey. Jan and Lisa. Cheryl. Bev for being there every step of the way and most of all, Ben. He has been through so much but helps when I’ve asked. He really is a wonderful young man.

Thank you x x

My dear friend Terry.
The gorgeous Sam.
Sea Kayaking.
Down nearly 300 steps to get here and made the same going back up.
Couldn’t stand straight, it was very windy. 🙂
My Ben x x

Guernsey, part three……

Thursday morning, we collected Terry and drove off nice and early so that Nick and Martin could do a special cache before our event in town today.

This was a tunnel cache that I had done a few years ago with Ben so I just waited it out whilst watching the sea.

Next stop was back into town for the Guernsey air show. My dad often visited Guernsey whilst the air show was on so it was nice to see it for myself today. It was a cloudy start but that soon lifted and we had great views from the end of the terminal.

Eagerly awaiting the start of the show.

The Spitfire, biplane, chinook we’re amongst the line up but one of our favourites had the be the Typhoon with its loud roar as it shot past.

The best was saved till last when the red arrows came roaring in formation over the island and out across the sea. Impeccable line up as always and they really did put on a good show.

You may remember that a few days ago we celebrated finding my 9000th cache. Well today it was Nicks turn to celebrate a milestone. I’d suggested the cache called The Lost World. Not for the faint hearted as it involves a descent of just under 300 steps down to the most beautiful bay at Petit port.

Looking energised before the descent.

As you can see by the picture it’s idyllic and only a few other people around.

Nick and Martin went off in search for the cache whilst I enjoyed the sunshine and another paddle in this glorious sea.

Off into the cave they go.
At one point Terry wanted to go in and give them a hand, I was not keen on the idea and when I mentioned this Terry’s reply was “ I’m only 83!” I couldn’t watch.

Eventually Nick and Martin returned with huge smiles after signing the cache. Well done Nick also for completing your 4000th cache in such a stunning, challenging location. Time for one last paddle before heading back up the steps. Did I mention there is just shy of 300 steps??

It really is up that way.

Guernsey adventures, part two……

Tuesday, another glorious day so we headed off towards Fort Hommet. However we did’t get very far as someone put a kiosk on route where we enjoyed breakfast number two.

Back on track and we parked near the fort for some exploring and of course to find a geocache.

Fort Hommet is a fortification on Vazon Bay headland in Castel. It was built on fortifications that date back to 1680 and consists of a Martello tower from 1804. Bunkers and casemates were added by the Germans during World War 2.

After the liberation of Guernsey in 1945, the British army and the islanders stripped the fortifications. By the late 1940’s all the metal fittings, including guns and blast doors had been removed for scrap. Many of the bunkers, including the gun casemate were buried in an attempt to return the coastal landscape to its pre-war condition.

Fort Hommet.
The Martello tower.
View from the fort.

After the fort had been explored we took a walk along the coast to a cache that required scrambling over the rocks. As I had found this a few years ago I took a seat on the rocks and watched whilst the lads clambered this way and that until they eventually found the very well hidden cache.

It was now up to 30° again and with no breeze it was hard work exploring so after one more cache we headed to Cobo Bay kiosk for a well earned refreshment stop before our afternoon activities.

The next few hours were spent kayaking out of Cobo bay. The views were incredible, the sea crystal clear and did I mention, the sun was hot?? Great fun was had by all including Terry who had joined us for the afternoon.

No spell out on the sea would be complete without a good debrief in the nearest pub. The Pimms was very welcome.

Pimms o’clock anyone?

Wednesday – the weather forecast was not looking good. Thunder storms and rain had been predicted and the weather people were right. Quite a bit of thunder and lightening before 10am, So we had a leisurely morning with Nick going for a dip in the pool. Once the weather had cleared up we shot out to investigate the Little Chapel.

The Little Chapel.

The Little Chapel was a work of art and labour of love built by Brother Déodat, who started work in March 1914. His plan was to create a miniature version of the famous grotto and basilica at Lourdes in France. The first, measuring a tiny 9 feet long by 4.5 feet wide, was criticised, so Brother Deodat spent the following night demolishing the building. He soon set to work again and, in July 1914, the grotto was completed and officially blessed. This survived until September 1923; Brother Deodat demolished it in that month because the Bishop of Portsmouth had not been able to fit through the doorway.

He soon set about the construction of a third chapel – which we see today. The building operation proved laborious, collecting pebbles and broken china to decorate the shrine. Then suddenly the Little Chapel became famous, thanks to an illustrated article in the Daily Mirror. Presents poured in from around the world and Islanders brought coloured china to Les Vauxbelets with the Lieutenant-Governor offering a remarkable mother-of-pearl.

In 1939 Brother Deodat returned to France because of ill health. After his departure the care of the Little Chapel was entrusted to Brother Cephas, who continued to decorate the building until his retirement in 1965. In 1977, a committee was established to restore the chapel and today it falls under the care of The Little Chapel Foundation

This is such a pretty little Chapel and well worth a visit.

The heart in the chapel.

It was time for a spot of lunch at Moulin Huet. The views here again took your breath away. After it was time for a spot of clambering and caching around the Parish St Martin’s.

So the mist came in again during lunch.

Another fun filled day which was ended with another ice cream over looking the views of Herm and Sark in between the sea mist and a taste of the air show tomorrow with some of the planes out practising. (Oh and another few caches of course.)

Within minutes the sea mist had caught up with us.

The adventures of Guernsey, part 1…..

Every year I used to holiday on the island with my Dad, Bev and Ben for a week whilst dad worked. The island has continued to keep us interested and has new things to discover all the time.

However this year, with no dad and the pandemic brining in certain rules meaning Ben couldn’t visit, Martin and Nick gladly excepted the offer to join me for a week of exploring and caching.

It’s been quite a while since we have been able to fly anyway but the time had come. We flew from Gatwick to Guernsey on a short flight and we’re greated not just by the sunshine but by my friend Terry.

London Gatwick and a real aeroplane.

My favourite way to explore the island is by car as you can lose yourself in so many tiny lanes. This year we have a Vauxhall Crossland. Not a bad car at all but we still had to play car Tetris to get all of our luggage in.

I left the men to it.

Off toward St Peter Port for some brunch and caching. Nothing is ever to far away on the island so this didn’t take long. I noticed that quite a few of the shops in town have closed since my last visit in 2018 which is such a shame. But again due to the pandemic the island has taken a bit hit against its tourism trade.

Some time was spent exploring, caching and an impromptu dip in the sea before heading off in search of our apartment at Grandes Rocques, drop our luggage in and head to the supermarket.

Remembering my dad with an ice cream x

Time was getting on and we were shattered. It had been an early start so after fish and chips whilst watching the sunset we headed to our home for the night.

Fish and chips at sunset.

Sunday:- today I was aiming to find my 9000th cache so we had to be mindful not to find to many before my caching event on the beach later in the afternoon. The best way to do this was to show Nick and Martin some of the great caches that I had found on previous occasions. One of which was called Military Monday which is placed in an old German series of bunkers and trenches.

The event was held at Port Soif kiosk. For those of you that haven’t been to Guernsey, along the coastal roads are various little cafes called kiosks that serves very reasonable priced food, drinks and ice creams. Port Soif does a good range of tasty cakes. Perfect for a catch up with friends.

I can’t quite put into words how good it is to be able to be “normal” hug people and sit close together and not a mask in sight on the island. (we have done a series of covid tests before entering the island and since arriving.)

The 9000 Guernsey gang x

No trip to the beach though would be complete, especially in this warm weather ( I won’t say sunny today as it’s been low mist and visibility all day.) without a dip in the sea. This ones for you Bev x

Just for Bev x
Martin and Nick clamber for a cache.
Somewhere behind me is the beach. In fact I am standing in the sea but you can’t see very far at all.

That evening we enjoyed the most delicious dinner at the Rock Mount, a short walk from our accommodation. We were also rewarded with the sea mist lifting whilst we ate to the most stunning sunset.

Lamb cutlets.
Sunset from Cobo bay.

Monday:- me and my mad ideas. Even after all my visits to the island I had never taken the trip across to Sark. So this year it was to happen despite my non love of boats. (Sea sickness queen here)

The boat trip was a doddle, calm, smooth and the sun shining. We were treated to a show of dolphins on route and back. They were however to quick for my phone camera.

Sark was fantastic. Quite a few caches which we found by bicycle. Hard going at times in today’s heat, but still fun. The views are well worth the journey. Breathtaking.

Sark is the crown jewel of the Channel Islands, nestled in between Guernsey and Jersey. Car-free with spectacular scenery, bays, coastal paths and cliff top views. Sark has no street lights to pollute the skies and so became the first dark sky island in 2011.

All aboard the toast rack to take us to the top of the hill.

One of our first stops was La Coupee.

La Coupee is an Isthmus (narrow strip of land with sea either side) made up of sedimentary rock. The rock is made up of sediments of various types of rock but is crumbly and the sea is eroding both sides of the this walkway.

Until 1900 there were no railings extending the whole length and on windy days the school children would crawl over the crumbling path on their hands and knees.

La Coupee.
Posing for the virtual cache photo.

Many caches later, cycling up lots of hills it was time to drop off our bikes, enjoy a cold refreshing drink in the Mermaid pub before heading back to catch our boat back to Guernsey.

Another smooth crossing with a brief display of dolphins and we were back in time to meet Sandy for dinner at The Terrace. Scrumptious Thai food eaten outside over looking the harbour.

Having a chat with Victor Hugo.
St Peter Port Harbour.

So there you have a snapshot of our first few days on this wonderful island. I hope you enjoy sharing it with us from our pictures x