Saturday, 30 January 2010

Day trip to Totnes

Hi Folks. Yesterday I sneaked a couple of snaps while I was waiting for the Bear in town. They were taken in a square just behind the high street. I wanted to show you the local pinky red stone. It's volcanic stone and all the earth round here is this colour. The pic is of a ruined church - ruined due to German bombing in WW2. The glass panels (in Gothic arch shape) are public art and contain embedded bits of pottery and glass dug up during various excavations around the city.

And here is a view showing a glimpse of the Cathedral.

Day trip to Totnes. Here are some classic views of Totnes High Street (taken by other people) from above and below the East gate. (The links given with photos are just to the webpage I found them on.)
By Mathew Walters

Over the last 7 months I have really struggled with going out. Just going to the shops round the corner was horrendously difficult for the second half of last year. I mean REALLY difficult. I went into town on very few occasions and only when I absolutely had to for some reason. I was intensely stressed when there and just wanted to get out ASAP.

I do find it easier to go out under cover of darkness. But I still have to force myself to do it.

So how on earth did I deal with a day trip to another town - half an hour away - on my own?

The night before I laid all night in the fetal position and hardly slept. But when I got up I was very focused and psyched up to do this thing so I was able to get myself out and walk to the train station - a good half hour walk. I felt just so much better when I was on the train. It helped that the scenery is stunning. I couldn't snap it as my camera phone couldn't cope with moving images. (It now occurs to me that I could have videoed it. Duh!) The views were of the estuary and harbours filled with yachts.

The view from the train taken by Ron Strutt

The track runs along the coast and I mean right on the very beach. The Victorians weren't going to be defeated by a bit of sea! In stormy weather the waves crash over the top of the train. It's quite incredible.

This is a video showing a section of my journey. It is a little blurry (on my computer at least) but does show the scenery and the pinky coloured cliffs. The sand is pale yellow - I don't know the answer to that one! Occasionally a steam train is shown but that only runs a few times a year. (Double click on the picture to get full screen)

And then the train turned inland again and we went through the country side and to Totnes. It was a half hour train journey.

I love being on the train. It's like time out of real life. That inbetween-ness.

Of course I was tense. But I was able to appreciate the scenery as well.

I spent quite a bit of time in Totnes when I was younger but I've only been there maybe 3 or 4 times in the last decade. I was unable to take any photos of the town because I just wasn't up to it. I decided to work my way up through the high street.

Here is a short video (not by me) showing some of the streets I walked through in Totnes

And I ended up walking all round the town on both sides of the river. So that was quite a few hours walking. Amazingly I had no trouble doing this amount of walking. Probably it was a huge amount of adrenalin that kept me going.

I did manage a couple of shots down by the river.

And then in the other direction

Looks idyllic huh? Without the roar of the traffic it would be. I went to Totnes to see if I wanted to live there and decided against it due to HUMUNGOUS traffic noise. I mean it was the worst noise I have ever heard. There is a heavy volume of traffic going through and round the town  (the street shown on the video above is a restricted traffic area). But I couldn't account for the noise levels except that there is some problem with the road surface on the principle road. I thought maybe I am going over the top with this. But when I mentioned it to my healer, she completely agreed. Anyway, the volume of traffic was huge on a January afternoon, so I can't even imagine how bad it is at Easter or during the summer months when all the tourists are there.

Sad that so many places have been ruined by the traffic.

So that was disappointing but the day was in no way a fail. I didn't fall apart. I felt OK apart from a couple of moments - which were probably due to tiredness. I have a little confidence now that possibly I can visit other places and be OK.

I found a wonderful old bit of a programme on Totnes from the BBC made in 1978. It's 9 minutes long and is a real gem. Don't worry about the old white haired dude who appears in the 0.30s. He's only on for about 10 seconds and then you get back to some wonderful views of Totnes. The town is unchanged since the 1970s - except that the Gothic house is now painted yellow. It's really weird to think that I was there myself (as a child) only a couple of years after that programme was made. There are many other snippets from that series (click on "More from" to see list) and I'm guessing that most of them are as delightful. You'll have to click on the link as I couldn't embed it.

My food today contained no snacking and no chocolate which is a significant improvement. I have decided to go back to my mantra of "If I don't buy it I can't eat it". And also to avoid processed food. My evening meal tonight is roast chicken with a ton of veg and some mashed potato (yes! I'm a sinner!) I had the same last night and it was delicious.

So I'm definitely making moves in the right direction.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Snowpeople, a walk through the town, and an Elephant!

When the snow came everyone immediately went out and built a snowman. Obviously. Most snowman are a little chubby. But this guy is in pretty good shape.
Ever seen a snowlady? You can see her perfect lips and even eyelashes - she's wearing mascara! The scarf was very pretty with roses and gold thread running through it. After the snowlady melted someone put it over a railing. The Bear *snaffled* it for me as a little souvenir!
I have been trying to think of 7 things about me for the award I received from Sheilagh. It was bl**dy difficult to dredge anything up!

My favourite film used to be Amadeus. I have watched it a hundred times probably. I don't know what my favourite film is these days.

My favourite drink used to be whisky or Amaretto + Bacardi + orange juice. But these days I prefer just neat Amaretto.

Despite lackadaisical attention to brushing I have no fillings in my teeth. A dentist told me 20 years ago I would never need any fillings and so far he is right. I do have an acid erosion problem though and have had several teeth covered in plastic to prevent further damage.

I make lace - or at least I used to before my hands got bad with psoriasis. Strangely enough, despite all my education, this little hobby (or waste of time as I often think of it) is possibly the biggest chance I have of ever earning any money again. I mean in the sense of teaching it in adult ed classes. Not that the money would be great due to the limited number of hours. I make Bucks Point lace for those in the know. I had also started learning Honiton lace before I had to give it up.

I went to art college before I did my degree. It was very hard work! Probably the hardest most consistent work I have ever done. And done while my mother was dying of cancer, my father had a cancer scare and my family were utterly opposed to me studying art and let me know it at every possible opportunity. Pressure or what?

I need salt! One summer night I was unable to sleep at all. I didn't know what the matter was. At last I got up and went to the salt jar. I ate two teaspoons of salt. I felt my whole body relax and say "Aaaahhhh!" I got back into bed and went straight to sleep.

Most special TV show ever (historical) - Fame! I was allowed to stay up specially late to watch it. I haven't seen it since then so I don't know how I'd find it now. But to me at that time it was My Dream. I've seen the film several times in adulthood but it's a lot sadder than the series.
Next time I really must tackle the Elephant in the room - my eating. Am I looking like an elephant? Yes! And I really want to eat better, but so far it hasn't happened. I am slowly making adjustments - eating a proper evening meal to prevent snacking. Trying to make a few better choices. But I am very unhappy with where I am on this. I am overeating, but not bingeing (thankfully) so far this year. My recent mental drop out didn't result in any mad eating. Just too many carbs at every single meal. I have not cared too much what I have been eating or how much. I just ate what I felt like and what I had in. But I am ready for change on this now. Enough bad eating already!
Walking through the streets at night. The entrance to Cathedral close with iron bridge dated 1815 connecting a walkway that runs across the top of the medieval city wall (origins of wall are Roman).

The city centre is built on (1st century) Roman foundations. The city was razed to the ground a thousand years ago and rebuilt by the Normans. But the Roman foundations are still there. The earliest parts of the buildings you can see on the right here are probably 13th century.

Cathedral built by the Normans in 12th and 13th century.

Medieval buildings on the right against Georgian stuccoed splendor on the left.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

A walk down by the canal

A couple of weeks ago, when the snow was fresh on the ground, the Bear wanted to go for a walk down by the canal so he could photograph it while it was frozen. When I met up with him he had his tripod in a wheel-along bag and several cameras hanging about his person. He meant business!

We walked along the quay and it looked so beautiful in that special winter sunshine. I wanted to keep taking photos along the way, which irritated the Bear no end. Because you know he is the photographer, not me. And he was set on his destination as being a spot some way down the canal where there are no buildings. Because he only photographs nature and anything built by humans is an offence to his delicate artistic sensibility.

There was anger and cross words every time I paused to capture a sight. I was under pressure to do it as quickly as I could to avoid making his temper even worse. After all, he would miss the light if I didn't get a move on ....

Standing on the quay looking down the river

Just beyond the lock so the water was not frozen here

Looking across the canal and river (they run parallel)

And back towards town

Further down the canal where it was frozen

The spot chosen by the Bear

By the time we reached the spot I was pretty pissed off with his attitude. Although it is typical really. Only he counts; only his photographs count.

We had walked past all the interesting sights on the quay, canal basin and boatyard to get to a place I considered really boring.

Normally, I would stand about there offering support in any way I could and suggesting good angles and ideas to him.

But this time was different. The day before I had forced myself out on my own in daylight in the snow to take some photos so I could show them to you. These were the first photos I had taken in over 15 years. The first time I used my camera phone which I got over 6 months ago. But as you know I find it difficult getting out in daylight so I was a little too late and hadn't really got many shots in good light. And the camera phone is very basic and can't handle low light at all well.

So I appreciate my teddy Bear wanting to be out and about with me - though he just wanted me there for moral support - because it enabled me to get out at a decent hour. Even though he was a grumpy Bear. But then he usually is.

I had to get my own shots. I couldn't let the opportunity go by. So I felt bad about it, but I left him there and walked back getting the photos of the boatyard I wanted.


Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Feeding frenzy!

No, not me! The swans.

I took this standing on one side of the quay looking right down on top of them. They gathered as I was standing there in hope of food. This was over two weeks ago when the weather was at its coldest and they were desperately hungry. (None of the pics have been edited in any way)

Then they suddenly all started swimming over to the other side - a couple of people had some bread for them.

I followed them by walking over the bridge. There were ducks in there as well. The blurry white things above them are seagulls.

You can just see the little bit of snow that we had. I decided to get right in amongst them. The orange thing in the corner is the carrier bag of the person feeding them.

This guy looks a little bashful!

The Bear was with me and on my instruction had brought some bread so I fed them. The Bear put down some museli, and was very miffed when they completely ignored it. Even the seagulls. The Seagulls were a darn nuisance and they swooped on me several times. Strangely I have noticed that both the ducks and seagulls are absent in darkness, so that's the best time to feed the swans. Where do they go at night time? One of lifes great mysteries!

On Monday I took the Bear to the emergency dentist. He waited of course until the pain was un-bear-able. I tried to persuade him to go sooner but no. He had to wait until it was an emergency. The *bears* didn't even bother to try with him; they know the score.

The dentist inspired no confidence - in me at least. He was such a will-o-the-wisp he was barely there at all. Very unusual. Most dentists are quite gung-ho. Very much in control of the situation. Projecting strength and calmness. Sometimes an over the top performance, presumably to distract you from the horror of it all. This guy was floating through it so much I was terrified he was going to take the wrong teeth out. Which would have been a disaster considering how few the Bear has left. 

Anyway, the Bear is now down 2 teeth. While most people would be upset at the loss, he feels no such qualms. In fact he lied a bit to get two taken out. The canine which was just a stump really did need extracting. The one next door to it would have lasted longer - though how long no-one can tell. And I don't even think it was hurting. Certainly he never mentioned it before that day. But he decided to have it out to save going back.

This is starting to sound a bit horrific. Or if you're in America, possibly you just think this is British dentistry. Really though it is the Bear's unwillingness to go to the dentist.

I have to say that if you are in a *shaky* mental state, it is probably better not to go to the dentist and witness teeth being pulled. Even if they are someone else's. I suffered some moments afterwards when I felt I was going to a bad place again, but managed to pull myself out of it quite swiftly. Lucky I had booked to see my healer later that day which prevented any further problems on that score.

I did ask the Bear if his girlfriend could accompany him but he said no. Of course she needs to see the dentist too. Two of her crowns (on the top at the front - could it be worse?) have fallen out. She is very visibly gappy right now. I cannot understand why she does nothing about it - they only need to be stuck back on/in. The *bears* think a tube of superglue would easily fix it. No doubt I will be taking her to the dentist soon as well. *Sigh*.

I have been given two blog awards! This from outdoor mom at Yaak Adventures

And this one from Sheilagh at Sixty by Sixty

Thank you so much ladies! I totally do not deserve them! I am supposed to tell you 7 things about myself for the latter, but this post is long enough already so I'll leave it until next time.

I am still catching up with my blog reading, so if I haven't got round to your's, I'll be there soon! Two weeks is a loooong time in blogland so it's taking me a while ...

Monday, 18 January 2010

Bears say hi ...

So difficult to write this. I have been ill. I'm not even sure what has happened to me. And that is most unusual. For me not to fully understand what is going on. Usually, whatever state of illness I have been in, I've been able to observe it, analyse and understand it even as I was experiencing it. Some would say this is due to my prior learning, but I think it's as much due to my natural interest in the workings of the mind. I have strangely always enjoyed watching my own psychological process, no matter how distressed I have been. I find it fascinating, exciting even, to see the delicate workings of the mind unfolding. To see the usual pathways diverted. To feel what fragmentation feels like compared to wholeness. To see what is underneath the usual psychological set up. What is at the root of all of us, in other words.

But this last couple of weeks has been different. Blank. Numb. Shaking and crying. Unable to cope with anything or even think too much.

I'm not sure what to make of it. Hell, if I'm going to be mentally ill, I at least want it to be interesting. This has just been tediously boring.

I think it has been severe anxiety. Overwhelming. For what reason? Anxiety about the future.

I KNOW, I KNOW. If I could just stop worrying about the future, I'd actually be able to have a life right now.

But the fact is that I do need to make plans for the future and be able to see a way ahead from here. But every time I do that I just come up against this terrible anxiety until I give up on it. Not being able to make plans and change things over the last few years for this very reason has meant that I have been "stuck"; unable to move forward with my life. You might say, well life carries on anyway, whatever plans anyone makes - which is true of course. I'm still alive despite having no forward plans. But in order to have a life which is worth living I need desperately to make changes, and that requires planning, which is where I fall apart. Even on the planning.

Most people in reasonable mental health can at least do the planning stage, though many will not get further than that of course. It takes guts to make changes. Most can plan to leave a bad relationship, change their job, start their own business, blimey, even eat better and get some exercise! How many will actually carry it through? Most, not until it gets really desperate. I suppose that a lot of the time we are consoling ourselves with our plans, even when we feel unable to act of them. The consolation of the diet starting on Monday, or after whatever holiday it is. I will leave him when the kids are ___ age. I will start my own business after this recession/ when I have paid x% off the mortgage. So I'm not even getting the consolation. On the other hand these rationalisations allow us to carry on as we are. It means we can put off change for another day.

I have been putting off change for many years now. Of course, at times I have really been too ill to make significant change. At other times, circumstances have made the changes that I wanted impossible.

But generally, if I am being honest with myself, change of some sort has ALWAYS been possbible.

So my mission at the moment is to see change in a more positive light, so it doesn't scare the sh*t out of me.

Thank you so much to those people who have lefts comments and sent emails worried about where I am and what has happened to me. Thank you for caring so much and sticking with me. I hope to catch up with you all soon. I haven't even signed into blogger or read my email over the last couple of weeks. But, hopefully normal service will be resumed very soon.

The only light in my life recently has been the snow! Do these photos look cold enough or what? They have not been put through a filter or anything. They were taken in the park by the river. The huts on the other side of the river are the allotments.

Once again, thank you friends. I'll be visiting you all soon ....

Bearfriend xx