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Month: August 2017



Bumble Bees

As we walk our various themed garden areas, we spend time along our Butterfly Garden border. Though fast coming to the end of the butterfly season, they are still attracted to the buddleia we have growing here and joining in the enjoyment of the sunshine is also a number of bumble-bees and wasps.

Very quick on the eye, they do keep us entertained for several minutes, watching them dart from one flower to another.

This garden has surprised us by the number of visitors we have attracted this year and probably does not need too much, other than a little tidying up, doing to it during the winter season. At this point, the evergreen holly and low box hedge will reappear as the summer flowers die back, but allowing us to continue to enjoy this are of the garden.

The Butterfly garden border

A little structural work to insert an archway across the gravel pathway, separating the Butterfly garden from the Rose garden, via this Rose walk and renew the pebble pond at the end of the path, will be all we need to do.

August is a good month for colour in this garden, with Salvia, Verbena, Roses, Buddleia, Weigela, Nepeta and Crocosmia all in beautiful flower and with frequent deadheading and pruning, we are looking at prolonging the season as long as we can and from early flowering Daffodils, this garden offers year round interest and opportunities for photographs through the year.

As well as bees and wasps, this is a haven for birds. We have feeders to the end of the border, but these flowers attract the insects that the birds, particularly small ones such as blue tits, wrens, sparrows (when they turn up) nuthatch and others, love to feed on in addition to the seed we put out.

So our son can make the most of this area, I’m putting a bench adjacent to this border and the rose garden and overlooking the pebble pond so we can sit a while and watch, listen and smell the sights and sounds while taking in the various scents … oh and sharing a flask of coffee!

New adoption

New adoption

Miss Moneypenny

Miss Moneypenny! This lady is fourteen years old and is awaiting a Thyroidectomy operation in the coming week or two, but when she has recovered, she will be living her remaining years with us. Our latest adoption from the RSPCA.

Since we were married, we have always had at least one cat with us, usually two or three and of course a dog.

Miss Moneypenny will be joining Lady Bronte with us soon and both will help our son understand responsibility, caring and also both give and receive the love that for some reason, animals just know how to give.


Our feelgood garden

Our feelgood garden

A new visitor …

You probably already know that I love our garden and that our son takes great comfort from being within it. One of the areas we have been trying to develop is our Butterfly Garden, an area developed with plants and flowers that attract butterfly’s in the hope that when we sit and spend time there, we may get visited by a passing butterfly that may actually settle on us and so delighting our son’s experience in the garden.

Constructing this area over two or three years, the best we had was a lone small cabbage white, and off he flew. This year however we saw a lone red admiral arrive too. Today, as the sun shone, I was able to count at least 15 red admiral butterflies in the garden at any one time and which spent all day with us and amongst the plants. including the other varieties, we must have had a consistent two dozen or more throughout today.

We have had the small white, the red admiral, the peacock and this little chap who I am given to believe is the ‘comma’ – if it is, it is a real success as they don’t normally travel as far north as where we are.

My job now is to make sure our garden remains an attraction to the butterfly and that they return each year. I need to create more plants and drinking stations for them and an area within this garden to sit where we can just rest awhile and wait for them to land on us – and of course take a photograph or two (ok, maybe more)

I love it when a plan comes together 🙂

Nobody knows …

Nobody knows …

Come, sit a while …

“I understand” … “It will be fine” … “That won’t be a problem” … etc, etc, etc …. all good intended and positive comments that we are assured by those who interact with us. Then we get, “your leaving so soon” … “But he’s enjoying himself” … “you can’t just go” … and so on!

The reality is, ‘nobody knows’ what it’s like living with someone with a disability unless you actually do. The additional care and attention required is enormous and though living as normal a life as possible is always the aim, it simply can’t be that simple.

We are reminded of this as we are attending a family event, it’s great that we are all included, but from the start we face, no parking facilities, so a lengthy wheelchair walk to get to the venue. Then, there was no provision for wheelchair and grab-bag storage. Disabled toilets are provided, but only just large enough to get a wheelchair and user in – no assistant space unless the door is left open.

The event is split across two floors, one has steps to it, no ramp! Then there is the flashing lights, the loud music, even a choice less menu, all leads to the event, becoming a nightmare.

Leaving early raises comments of ‘disrespectful’ … ‘you have to stop until the end’ etc

The upsetting part of all this, is that it is family. Family who we would just love would say ‘don’t worry, this is how we will provide for it’ and that they understand we need to leave early, but appreciate our making the effort to attend for part of it. But that doesn’t come ….

The world, even amongst family, is becoming less and less inclusive and sadly less tolerant to those who need a little extra support and understanding. It makes me sad, but also makes my blood boil when you see friends and family step away, losing contact and increasingly distance themselves from us because we can’t fit into their world the way they want us to.

We learn to depend upon ourselves and create a world appropriate for us and our needs, but at times this smaller world knocks your confidence and you can understand how easily those with additional needs become isolated, and become an increasing ‘burden’ to society as simple provisions are not made.


How is success measured?

How is success measured?

Build it, and they will come …

I remember when I was working, this was a favourite question, I asked it of my teams and it’s one that I was always asked myself. “What will success look like”? “What does good look like”? but importantly something many forgot to ask was ‘how will success be measured?’ … in other words, how will you know that the success you have a vision for is the right one and delivers what you hope?

I had thought, and hoped, that my business days were behind me, and yet, I still find there are traits of it with me every day. Not least of all in the garden.

I have a vision for the garden – well in truth, my vision requires a garden of at least two acres, but as I have nothing like that, my vision needs to be a little more, well, quite a lot more, down to earth, dealing with the plot we do have – that sees, primarily our son, not only being able to access the garden, but also ‘wanting’ to access it and my first measure of that success will be the number of times he asks to go out into it each day, and then, how many photographs he wants to take on those visits.

My next vision is to create a garden that also attracts wildlife, from birds to bees, from butterflies to dragonflies, frogs, newts, and if at all possible hedgehogs. My measure of that success will be the number of different species and variety of those species that I can count and photograph each year. As an aside, will be the measure of how many I can correctly identify – and that’s going to take quite a bit of study!

I also want to create a garden that offers colour and cut flower opportunities throughout the year. Holly and mistletoe at Christmas, wreaths for the front door, and bouquets of flowers throughout the year bringing outdoors indoors with the seasons. A project to photograph our bouquets each week will be a measure of that success. Though optimism is high, certainty is not there right now, but I’ll not give up before I even start.

And so what, if I succeed or not? I hear you asking! Well, if I can achieve what I set out to accomplish, our son will have a smile on his face and enjoyment in what he sees, touches and smells for as long as he can, We will have done our little bit to help save species and the planet and the sight of these wildlife visiting the garden is so uplifting for our owns spirits and to have home grown flowers adorning the house in bouquets in every room is such a delight.

And so what? ….. That’s what, and it makes us smile 🙂



Walking with wheels and windmills

Walking with wheels and windmills

Wheels and Windmills

There is something very restful about walking amongst windmills. Not the new wind turbines, here to save the world – though they too have their own type of charm – but those that were used for grain, propelled by the breeze turning their sales.

Sadly, some don’t turn now, but are restored as heritage features, giving an indication of how we used to live.

Windmills have featured in Lytham’s history for hundreds of years. In 1805 Richard Cookson sought and obtained a lease from the Squire for a plot of land on which to build a ‘windy milne’. Later, in 1860, when the prestigious houses in the area were being built the residents looked upon the Windmill as an “industrial nuisance”! On the 2nd January 1919, a tremendous gale turned the sales despite the powerful brake and sparks ignited the woodwork. The Windmill was quickly ravaged by fire, the interior being entirely gutted. The Windmill remained derelict until 1921, when it was given by the Squire to the Lytham Urban District Council. In 1989, the Windmill was restored by Fylde Borough Council and opened to the public. Lytham Windmill is run in partnership with Fylde Borough Council and Lytham Heritage Group.

Lytham offers an ideal place to wheel walk. A lengthy promenade, flat and a wide, open area where you can walk for miles, encompassing several parks and skirting the town centre where outdoor cafes offer an opportunity to enjoy the sea, sun and company in a wheelchair and with a dog too. Fabulous 🙂


Gardening for tranquility and colour

Gardening for tranquility and colour

Tranquility and colourI had begun to create a page here to show our developing sensory garden. It didn’t go well. Neither my keeping up to day writing about it, or the actual planting and development of that area of our garden and so I pulled the page to have a rethink.

A sensory garden remains of utmost importance to us, as it allows our son to smell, feel and even taste the plants in his reach, but I need to go back to the drawing board.

The beauty is, that now we are in August, we can look at reshaping, planting anew and moving plants around the garden to create a little something special to spend time in. A recent challenge through Flickr was to post pictures of 100 flowers in 2017. I though to myself that I would aim to photograph 100 different flowers from our own garden … and hope we had enough to complete this challenge. Admittedly, I had taken a photograph of different ‘rose’ varieties, but earlier this month, I had pictured 100 different flowers within the garden, and another 30 beyond that. I am also delighted that we have had colour and something in flower all year round and even some that had not flowered in several years, had, this year, given us blooms too.

Now I think the challenge starts. Grouping of plants, increasing stock, colour coded areas, pathways, fences and easy access are all keenly planned for the next few months and so hopefully, by January we can sit back and enjoy the spectacle that ‘should’ open before us.

Some very good friends I met through Flickr, have helped me identify various plants I had without names and also suggestions with regard to design and planting.

With further inspiration from National Trust gardens and others, books and even TV programmes giving examples and ‘how to’ guides, my wellies are on, my spade in hand, my son watching every step I take with critical support … or otherwise and I’m setting in for around 12 weeks of …. creation.

First job is to mask an unsightly wooden panel fence that has become overgrown with neighbouring laurel bushes and trees, so much so that to replace it would be too big a job and too damaging to existing plants. Instead I have already put on fittings to the concrete posts and wire guidelines. A new plastic coated wire fence will be put up next along the full length and variegated privet (planted earlier this year) secured to it to create a new living hedge barrier so when the panels eventually rot away, a mature hedge will be in its place. Ideal for wildlife and birds too.

In front of the privet, is a row of Holly. Not the fastest growing but now 3 years old and looking good, pruning and shaping is all that is needed with a few plants being moved to better areas from along this Holly hedge. I then have a path to lay and a perennial border to create and plant …. but then, that’s for another post 🙂

There will be several areas that will be designed to our sons likes and so he can photograph it being created and with the flowers growing and blooming throughout the year.

A new wardrobe!

A new wardrobe!

New in ‘Blue’

As our ‘Lady Bronte’ turns 14 months old, it was time for new collar and lead and a few extra toys to play with – or as she does, chew them to destruction! The number of balls, rings, toys etc. we are told are indestructible, only to find that they last intact for no more than three of four hours.

I’m not sure how we did this, but when we eventually made our selection for her, dressed he up with her new collar and walking together down the street feeling very smart and well dressed, the first person we passed, smiled and patted her gently asking ‘what’s his name’ ….. “HIS” – this is ‘Lady Bronte’ … all girl!! – well nearly, we have had her spayed, but we’ll not broadcast it – this person said ‘oh I’m sorry, but with the ‘blue’ collar, I assumed ….’ then all became clear, Mrs F is a Manchester City fan and they play in ‘Blue’ she will not touch anything Red (The other side of town, for those who follow football) and so ‘Lady Bronte is now considered a passionate ‘Manchester City’ fan as well – Marc thinks it hilarious and urges me to go back and get Red …. haha! I’m not that courageous 🙂

In search of convenience …

In search of convenience …

Now! … which way?

Recently we went on a wheel walk at the coast. It had been many years since we were there to walk it, and wanted to visit to get advance information of writing the walk up in notes and publishing another suitable ‘wheel walk’.

Because of our sons requirements, anything longer than half an hours journey to get to our starting point, the first thing we look for are the public conveniences. Particularly disabled access ones for the wheelchair accessibility.

Our planned walk was to cover around 10 kilometres and as we were walking along the promenade, it was going to be linear, with a 5km outbound walk, returning the same way.

The first challenge we encountered was parking the car. We arrived at our destination at around 10:00am, but already all the key car parks had been filled. Including all the easy access/disabled positions – typically only 6 spaces in 300 and so we had to drive on to find a spot on the road.

Spending a little time setting up the wheelchair for our son and getting him into it, then dressing our dog with harness and lead, hooking up our sons grab bag, we get the signal that the ‘toilet’ is needed.

Not normally a problem as in a location like the seaside, public and accessible conveniences are normally frequent and well positioned to service the level of tourists visiting. We had not travelled that far from the centre of the town, but after walking for around 4km, we had not found any! We asked a number of people if they could direct us, and had answers as wide ranging from the ‘no idea’ to ‘you’ll be lucky, not here’ which did not help us.

Eventually we came across a sign which ironically listed the public conveniences – only one! and that was on the end of one of the piers, another 1.5km from where we were. Some joker has used thick marker pen and over the ‘Public Toilet’ sign has scrawled “NONE” – they were not joking!

We decided to carry on and find where the indicated toilets were, though our son, and by this time also ourselves, were getting increasingly uncomfortable and the joy of walking, became a rush through crowds to find our destination … and hope they were there, and open.

Our dog on the other hand was quite happy trotting along, relieving herself every now and again to mark her new found territory and leave her calling card. Pooh bags and grass verges, if only we could all be serviced so easily 🙂

We considered calling in to a café or pub and use their facilities, but a combination of ‘No Dogs’ and poor accessibility of a chair greeted us, it was not an option to consider further.

Eventually we arrived at the Pier and not even looking to see if dogs were allowed or not, we boldly turned into the entrance and wow! packed, noise, screaming, no access was greeting us. As our son suffers with Autism, he was immediately impacted by sensory overload – The lyrics to the Tommy movie, Pinball came to mind relating to no distractions, and at that moment I wished! – We had to fight our way through people who either didn’t see, or didn’t care about our need to get through with a wheel chair and soon my ‘excuse me’ gave way to shouting ‘coming through’

By this time our son was getting into a distraught state and meltdown was only minutes away and we found what we were looking for … toilets! it was like seeing an oasis and we charged for them. I have to say, they were clean and well maintained and the relief was, by this time, wonderful. Not just because we could relieve ourselves, but also in the cubicle, it was quiet. Silent in comparison to outside and no flashing lights. Using this time to apply our interventions, we readied ourselves to return to the madness of outside and plot the quickest route back off the Pier to the quieter, though still busy promenade.

Any further thoughts of sensibly making notes for a documented wheel walk were dropped and we just headed back to the car, picnic and head for home.

Clearly a return visit to this seaside town needs to be carefully considered where ‘conveniences’ will be required and parking would need to be more central, so they can be accessed before the event starts. We took a number of pictures along the route and it may well be worth me writing it up as it could be fun, if managed differently and I will offer notes of caution and consideration from what we experienced.

And the important thing is, we did have an experience and when we revisit our pictures and we recall the mad dash we ended up doing, just to ‘spend a penny’ our son is in fits of laughter as we add a slight exaggeration to make the point and keep his memories good.

Take a break …

Take a break …

Take a break and do something YOU love …

An early lesson you learn when living with someone who has Autism, is not to take personally words or actions that might otherwise seem an attack on you. As we understood more and more about our sons disabilities and how they affect his life each day, we gained this understanding through meltdowns and tears.

We also learned that people outside our immediate family and close friends can also seem to attack us, our son, our life style some through innocent ignorance, others to gain an upper hand for some self indulgent delight. In the early years this made us angry, but over time you do learn to understand it and why it happens. Just like we learned to understand our sons actions were generated through a fear and confusion that we were not aware of, we came to understand that other negativity we encounter will also be disregarded on a personal level and not be affected by it.

This resilience doesn’t always work, after all we are only human and from time to time something always creeps through and annoys you intensely.  The bible tells us to turn the other cheek and for the most part we can do just that, but occasionally, you do have to walk away and do something you love that absorbs you totally so you can deal with that negative emotion and get rid of it.

I was reminded of this recently when I received an email in response to images and comments I share through my photography site. Normally I would disregard such things, but the words in this particular email did hurt. Though there is no lasting hurt, the event has made me consider what I do put out for public view. My ultimate goal through this site and my flickr site is to share our experiences and how we deal with various challenges, in the hope that someone who may not have the same confidence can share what we experience and hopefully realise they are not alone, others do understand and may be able to share a problem or support a solution.

Taking my own advice, I am ‘taking a break’ at least on one site, immersing myself instead in our garden to work on the sensory layouts and wildlife attraction and work on photo opportunities there for when I return to photography.

Don’t let a knock, keep you down, as was once said, ‘if I get knocked down seven times, I will get back up eight times’