Bits and pieces

Spring feels a long way off right now.

The wind is whipping down my street
and rain lashes against the windows.

It’s mid morning and yet
I still need the light on to see.

People are battling with umbrellas
as they hurry past.

Spring feels a long way off right now.


Extract from ‘Ideogram for Green’ by Alice Oswald

“In the invisible places
Where the first leaves start

Green breathes growth

Simultaneously dreaming into position what impinges on its edges
So that grasses of different kinds should appear in the world

Green lights flowers…shines rain”

Sunflower shoots


Despite the forecasted snow, you should definitely read Thaw, from Josie over on Bimblings.  Poetic and thought provoking, as always.  She inspires me and I aspire to write as magically as she does.

(Click the link, it’s about two minutes and it’s good. It’s supposed to be embedded but wordpress is being stupid…)

“The language of birds is very ancient, and like other ancient modes of speech, very elliptical; little is said, but much is meant and understood.”
—Gilbert White

“In the unmapped territory between night and morning, birdsong is the traveller’s only guide.”
– Ian McMillan

A couple of powerful posts about swallowing issues from Kayla Whaley:

Some great advice from Chani Nicholas.  It’s from my horoscope but I think everyone should pay attention:

Saturday’s new moon is my moon to make the most of. I take it up on the opportunity to catch up with myself. To check in with myself. To remember the importance of staying true to myself.

I can’t fake, skip, or evade this process if I want to make the most of the opportunities that I have. Everything else needs to wait until I no longer have to work at getting my own attention. I deserve to receive what I need from myself.

I deserve to receive what I need from myself.  How true.  How powerful.  And for me, how relevant right now.



A little update

So I’ve not posted in about five weeks and what a five weeks that has been. I finally got admitted to hospital to have a PEG (percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy) fitted which means special feed solution goes straight into my stomach. This very simple procedure took a lot longer than it should have because of interfering doctors who didn’t know me but felt a PEG wasn’t the way to go (without telling me what would be…). There were numerous attempts at NG tubes (through the nose) as temporary ways to feed me and there was the first, failed attempt at a PEG (my stomach wasn’t in the right place…). Then finally I got my beautiful, wonderful PEG.

Most people probably didn’t have that reaction to having a PEG fitted but I am so grateful for the energy and improved health that being fed has given me. There are downsides to a PEG and I’ll probably do a post about my life with a PEG at some point but right now it has transformed my life. Even though I’m still feeling rather ill, I’m so much better than I’ve been in months.

And with that in mind I am slowly starting to do some reading and learning about the sea for my nature and writing project. My last blog post said that I was going to pick up with birds again but I don’t think I’d anticipated such a gap between then and now (and I’m still not really up to reading or writing much). I’m thinking there may be a bit about sea birds as a transition between the two topics.

Regardless of the topic, I hope to be back soon!

2017, a review

So I know everyone does these…  Instagram is full of people’s top 9 photos and twitter has tweet after tweet of top three accomplishments and I’m sure facebook has it’s own version as well.  But I decided it was really important to look back on the year, this year more so than other years.  Because it has been one hell of a year.

This post is far more for me than anything else but sharing it and having it somewhere I remember about it will be good for me.

We began the year with a very, very cold trip to Scarborough in early January.  I started meeting up with a friend regularly for art and coffee, having met her in October 2016.  She’s become a really good friend and is very supportive and thoughtful and all the things you’d want in a friend.  January also saw the start of my Animal Spirit Card series which seems to have been very popular.  But more importantly I really enjoyed reading, researching and writing about the different animals and bored everyone I know with my collection of random facts!  I also did some plant and animal related art work this year.  I’m particularly proud of my puffin and hedgehog, hence their inclusion above!

February was the month I turned 30, saw some friends for coffee, caught up with people I don’t see much of and got suddenly discharged from mental health services.  I also started my one new thing a day project which lasted during lent and I kept track of in a notebook.  This saw me dip my toes into the world of dyeing using plants; a hobby I enjoyed thoroughly until brain fog nearly resulted in a fire…

March came along and things started to turn bad.  I got vertigo for a couple of weeks and was unable to do anything.  Reading, watching tv, moving were all out of the question.  Eventually the vertigo passed and left behind what I suspect is post-viral POTS although it’s not been investigated.  I was out of action for all of March and I think I also missed a lot of April and was on reduced action for months following.

I did manage a bit of art and a trip to the Deep before the summer holidays started.  And at the end of July I got my bear tattoo!  Then August was dedicated to stained glass.  The class was two two hour sessions a week and I knew it was going to wipe me out, which it did.  But I really enjoyed it and am really proud of how much I did for myself and the finished result.


September saw the start of my nature and writing project which I was, and still am, really excited about.  There was a related trip to Tropical World and to the coast (October).

DSC_0822e bw

At the end of September I made it to the EDS Conference which was really good but even better was seeing my amazing friend who I don’t get to see anywhere near enough as she lives at the other end of the country.  I did mean to do a blog post about the conference but I was so tired and September also saw the rapid decline of my swallow

October and November involved a lot of nature and writing stuff as well as rest as the amount I could eat kept falling.  November also saw me being hospitalised.  I was released part way through December but am still unable to swallow very much so tiredness persists along with the other stuff that comes with not eating.  It was a horrible experience and not one I’d chose to go through, especially given the lack of resolution so far.

There were some truly awful moments, some low times but there were also some amazing friends who made the entire thing a lot more bearable.  Old friends came and visited, lent me wifi, sent me wifi, gave me pjs and came as often as they could.

New friends talked to me and chatted and helped me pass the time.  One of the patients on the ward was amazing.  She knew about eds and I’d told her what had happened with my swallow and she understood better than the nurses and doctors to be honest and when the drs/nurses said stupid things, she sympathised and got annoyed for me.  And because she was right there and heard everything through the curtains, I didn’t have to retell her what had happened.  And that helped too.

I know other stuff happened too, there were coffees with friends, courses and small trips as well as bad days and hard times.  But I wanted a place to remind myself that whilst it has been a tough year, it hasn’t just been a tough year, there has been good things in amongst the bad.

An interlude

So, I’ve ended up in hospital. 

If you’re reading my nature and writing posts then there are a few more already written and scheduled but soon there will be a period of radio silence.

Caption: Little nurse deer Clive at the end of a tough shift
Trigger warning: eating issues

My swallowing issues got a lot worse. Two weeks ago I got ill. I had sickness and diarrhoea, which on top of swallowing issues was not fun. I couldn’t drink enough to hydrate myself and I can’t swallow those staples of sickness, toast and ginger biscuits so I couldn’t get food in me either. It took too many days for the Dr’s to accept I wasnt going to rehydrate the regular way and a week and a half ago I was admitted to hospital. 

I am now hydrated but have only managed a few mouthfuls of ice cream and fortijuice in the last two weeks. There has been a lot of doctors saying we’ll just wait and see… 

Today I’m hopefully having a swallow test (again) and the Dr said we will be getting nutrients into me by the weekend, most likely ng tube. I feel OK in myself until I stand up, then my breathing drops and I have some weird numbness going on.

On a related note, my friend sent me a pay as you go WiFi hotspot thingy which has all you can eat data for first month. Best hospital present ever. Especially for me as I have a phone who’s only feature is a torch and a tablet which can only connect to WiFi. This means I have downloaded lots of audiobooks and TV boxsets to entertain myself. Hospital TV is pricey and rubbish and when you’re interrupted you can’t pause it. 

Expect a hospital related tips post in the future!

Plants, a potted history

This month I’m considering plants, but I’m not going to dwell too long on trees as trees and forests seem to dwell in a specific niche of literature which is an interesting focus in itself.  I will return to enchanted woods and trees later.

Humans and plants is an extensive topic and I’m currently thinking that I’ll look at a few ways we use plants and perhaps focus on some specific plants.  I will also be looking at plants in literature.  I will also be looking at the history of gardening separately.

But first, let’s get a feel for the plant world.  We say plants but it is a categorisation which covers such diversity and various stages of evolution.

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, everything was barren.  This was 4.5 billion years ago.  By 3.9 billion years ago, the first signs of life were appearing, single cell organisms.  It took until 2.7 billion years ago before the bacteria began producing oxygen.  A critical point in the history of this land for without oxygen, the future would have been very different.  Oxygen levels rose and rose and by 541 million years ago multicellular life appeared.

The next step in the history of this world was a giant one.  470 million years ago, plants moved out of the water and onto the land.  By 450 million years ago, animals, plants and fungi begun to colonise the land.  This changed the world from one which looked barren (unless you were in the water) to one which was starting to become alive.

These plants weren’t like the beautiful roses and tulips we know today. They were bryophytes.  They had moved out of the water in search of more sun, more carbon dioxide and more nutrients but doing so was a risk because the water was the only home they knew.  They reproduced in the water and leaving it came with the risk of drying out.  So, these bryophytes had to adapt, and they did so by covering themselves in a waxy layer called a cuticle.  This stopped them from drying out which was really helpful but they had to stay near water as that’s where they still reproduced.  And they couldn’t grow very tall because they didn’t have a vascular system to pump water around them.


Next to appear in the landscape were the ferns. Like the bryophytes, they still reproduced in water but they had developed a vascular system which pumped water from roots to shoots and upwards.  This allowed them to grow a lot bigger.  But still, plants congregated where water was available as it was their only means of reproducing.

A huge development 320 million years ago changed the landscape dramatically.  Seed plants had arrived.  And with the creation of seeds, plants could now roam further than they had been able to before.  These plants, gymnosperms, had also developed needle like leaves which helped retain water.

These plants lived in a very different world to ours.  It wasn’t until 250 million years ago that the ancestors of dinosaurs and mammals started to appear on the scene.  And whilst the land was now increasingly covered in plants, there were still no flowers.

The dinosaurs, dominating the planet from about 230 to 65 million years ago, started life in a land of ferns and seed plants but by the time they left, flowers were taking over.

Flowers and fruits didn’t appear on the scene until 135 million years ago.  These had the protective cuticle, they had the vascular system which was so important to size and they had the seeds of the gymnosperms.  But instead of having naked seeds which were reliant on the wind, the angiosperms had attractive fruits and flowers to lure animals into helping with their reproduction.  These plants would become the most diversified of the plant world.

65 million years ago, dinosaurs died out and mammals started to diversify.  By 55 million years ago, primates had started to appear.  But it wasn’t until 300,000 years ago that man arrived.  It would take until 60,000 years ago for humans to begin to leave Africa and start to colonise the rest of the land.  And it wasn’t until 10,000 years ago that agriculture began.  And once again, this land changed dramatically in appearance.

Tomorrow I’ll be looking at a more recent change in the landscape and to the distribution of plants, that of gardening.


Some more interesting reading to tickle your mind:

Sorry for the random capitalisation of words, I’ve copied and pasted titles and can’t be bothered changing them…

Link roundup

I’m not especially intending to make these link posts regular but I keep reading some interesting stuff!