Adventures & Photographs at Hadrian’s Wall

Hadrian's Wall near Birdoswald Fort

One of the reasons we moved to our present spot in Cumbria after our ‘big adventure’ was because we would be surrounded by so many amazing places.  Whichever direction you head, wonders await ~ Scotland, Northumberland, the Pennines, the Lake District and Yorkshire plus all the places right on our very doorstep in border country. Our intention on moving here was that we would head off out and about in our little camper on a regular basis to see the sights, a day trip here and an overnight stay there. Note I say ‘intention’… we got rather bogged down mentally last year and ended up not really seeing or doing much at all.

We decided this had to change for two reasons.  Firstly we don’t plan to remain here in Cumbria for too much longer and want to see as much as we can before we say goodbye to this gorgeous area.  Secondly we have set up a microstock portfolio (Phillip photographs and I tag/submit) to aid our alternative lifestyle dream.  So once a week our trusty Bongo sets off on a mini adventure with the double bonus of us seeing our surroundings and getting photos for the portfolio. Sometimes I simply enjoy seeing and walking, other times I sit myself in the Bongo and either tag photos or tap away at some writing (at this time of year normally with a nice warm blanket round me and gloves on!).

A recent focus for us has been Hadrian’s Wall. For some reason the Wall really speaks to me. I love seeing it, being near it and imagining what it must have looked like when it was built and in use. We are lucky to have some amazing sections of the wall near us with stunning views over the surrounding countryside and some (occasionally sneaky) free places to park!

Hadrian's Wall at Banks East Turret

The closest bit of Wall to us is at Banks East Turret and we always take any visitors for a quick visit here as the views are amazing (if the weather is being nice that is, being Cumbria it usually isn’t!) and we are slightly proud of the fact that it is only about 10 minutes away from our home.  It is bizarrely where we got our Glastonbury tickets in October 2015 as they went on sale mere days after we moved and we had no internet at home!

Heading further east there are some lovely long stretches of Wall at Birdoswald Roman Fort and over the border into Northumberland.  A couple of weeks ago we discovered one of those sneaky free parking places I mention at the amazing Walltown Crags.  This has to be my favourite spot so far.  The Crags are gloriously rugged and the Wall snakes its way up and down them.  Add to this the bleakness of the surrounding landscape and well…I am a happy bunny.  I quite happily tromped around for a while relishing being there in the cold, fresh air and then settled down in the Bongo to work whilst Phillip was shooting awesome shots like this.

Sunset at Hadrian's Wall, Walltown Crags

Hope you enjoyed our little Roman jaunt ~ stay tuned to see where our Bongo adventures take us next!

All photos in this post taken by ColobusYeti and available at Fotolia

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Anxiety, Harry Potter and Me

Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real – J.K.Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows


Being a big Harry Potter fan, both reading the books and watching the films happens at least once a year for me.  So I had seen or heard this quote many times since the Deathly Hallows was published.  However it wasn’t until I saw this Buzzfeed article that I really READ these words from Dumbledore and they became some of the most important words I had ever come across.

Anyone who suffers mental health issues will have encountered the attitude that it is all in your head and that you simply need to pull yourself together.  My anxiety may well be a product of what is happening in my head and not as real as a physical object or event, it does however have a very real impact on my life and my ability to interact with the world around me.

So to have someone say that thoughts and feelings are as real as anything physical made me feel understood and comforted in a way no self-help book or counsellor ever has.  Yes my anxiety does not have a physical form that I can show to people to say this is what is wrong with me like I could do when I had my bone marrow transplant for leukaemia.  That does not mean that it is not real or its effects are not real.  I feel those effects all the time, my day to day life is affected by things that some people would dismiss as not being real.

It is hard dealing with something that you are taught to think of as not real.  I often used to feel ashamed that I was struggling with something so easily dismissed by others, as if I was rubbish or weak to be so badly affected by something that was not even real.  Those words though by J.K Rowling vindicated how I was feeling, how tough I found dealing with what went on in my head.  I felt less alone and more importantly that by accepting that they were real, those thoughts and feelings become more tangible and something that can be dealt with.

Help and support comes from the most unlikely of sources sometimes.  Reading has often been one of my biggest escapes and comforts when I am finding things tough.  I did not however expect to find such an ally in the Harry Potter books as I have.  Since reading that initial article though, I have time and time again come across the impact this quote, others and the Harry Potter world in general has had on people during difficult times in their lives.  Maybe this next quote explains why…

Hogwarts

J.K. Rowling, The Chamber of Secrets

 

Our Big Adventure

Mazda Bongo campervan

It is nearly 3 years since we put our home on the market and started planning our ‘Big Adventure’.  Countless times before and during our travels we heard the exclamation ‘you are so brave’ and maybe we were, I don’t know.  All I know is that the fear of not doing it beat the fear of doing it.  For someone who got seriously over anxious about the smallest of social occasions or even deciding what to have for a drink at my very worst, I suppose it was an incredibly big step to take and in the end I think we both stepped so far out of our comfort zones that we never could step back again even if we wanted to.

Being in a reminiscing mood today, I thought I would tell a little more about our ‘Big Adventure’.  I have mentioned it in passing in previous posts and felt it was time to put some flesh on those bones.

Before jetting off to foreign adventures, we wanted to spend time exploring our own country.  We set off in our trusty Mr Bongo and travelled up the east side of England into Scotland, back down again via the west side and then across the bottom.  Our route was based on random things such as places we had seen on the weather map, ones from books I had read as a child or simply because we liked the name.  Our Bongo travels introduced us to life without planning and how to trust that things would work out if we didn’t plan every step.  Our adventure started and ended with life in our little Bongo home.

Next stop on our travels was a week in Singapore.  To be quite honest we took a gamble booking a stopover here as we knew virtually nothing about the country and simply wanted somewhere on the way to New Zealand that wasn’t the standard option of Dubai or Hong Kong.  It was proof that gambles are worth taking – Singapore is amazing!  If you ever get the chance to go, do!  Okay it could do with turning down the humidity level, nowhere is perfect though.  Singapore is friendly, easy to travel around on public transport, full of good food, wondrous sights and a glorious mesh of cultures.

Gardens by the Bay 'Supertrees@

Photo of Gardens by the Bay in Singapore by ColobusYeti and available at Shutterstock

After a tense and stressful flight via Hong Kong (tip folks – always make sure that your baggage allowance is the same for all flights on a multi-flight trip!), we landed in New Zealand.  My head found it really weird to comprehend that I was actually on the other side of the world!  After staying with friends in Auckland for a week (including a mini road trip up to Cape Reinga), we picked up our monster camper with 2 double beds and set off on our road trip round the two islands…and boy did we see some roads!  We travelled past beaches, through mountain passes, across water, spent the night next to a colony of fur seals, saw wild penguins and laughed ourselves silly at the birds.  New Zealand is a gloriously beautiful, friendly and laid back country.  Having not been too fussed initially, I would return in a heartbeat if the opportunity arose.

Motorhome at Cape Palliser, New Zealand

Photo of our motorhome at Cape Palliser by ColobusYeti and available at Shutterstock

Our final stop on our travels was Tokyo…for 6 months.  We had visited Japan a fair few times and wanted to experience life there.  Living somewhere is so completely different to visiting and it blindsided us for a while how much we struggled at first.  Everything ‘normal’ seemed so..well…not normal.  We did travel a little whilst there, mostly though our time was spent exploring our city and falling in love with life there in a way we never foresaw.  There were times of isolation and also of belonging.  When we returned to the UK, we left our home behind and have missed it ever since.

Buildings in Yanaka, Tokyo

The view from our apartment window in Yanaka, Tokyo

This is a simple snap shot of our travels, a topic I could write about again and again.  And I am sure that I will – let me know if you’d like to hear about any part in particular!

Anyone thinking of travelling, do it.  Stop making excuses and do it.  Before it really is too late.  It is challenging and amazing.  Our ‘Big Adventure’ shaped us and continues to influence who we are and what we do.

Where to next?

 

Signpost at Cape Foulwind, New Zealand

photo by ColobusYeti and available at Shutterstock

Go me!  A second post in 1 week – time to give myself a jolly good pat on the back.  I find it easy to say to myself ‘yeah but lets see if you carry it on’ or ‘why celebrate it, other people post several times a week all the time’…I want to change this though, stop listening to that negative part of me that says I am not good enough.  So yay for the little things!

My head is in quite a jumble at the moment.  There is much I am trying to make sense of and much I want to sort…all with the assistance of my ‘friends’ anxiety and depression.  They complicate life though I am determined that they will not make it impossible.  Last year was such a complex and difficult year for so many reasons – getting over the change from our wandering lifestyle and home in Tokyo to life back in the UK where we did not and still do not want to be, as well as dealing with the death of my brother the previous year.  We have come out of that year poorer and slightly battered, knowing ourselves better and tentatively taking steps to find our path onward.

I spoke last about giving my blog new life and focus.  This feels very reflective of what I want to achieve for myself as a whole.  I need change, to sort myself out.  I know I want to improve my physical and mental wellbeing, explore the world surrounding me both near and far.  We know we want to return to Tokyo or travel to new places, ideally later this year.  Join me on my efforts to have adventures, working freelance as well as my button business, rediscovering the joys of writing and that all important self-care that will get me through.  I got this!

Starting anew

It has been a very lonely 6 months for my blog.  Posts had become fewer and fewer until it all come to a complete stop in July.  My blog didn’t feel right, it wasn’t delivering what I wanted it to or what I need it to.  Heck I wasn’t even sure what that was.

So I stopped writing with the intention of closing the blog down.  I didn’t though and my blog sat here slumbering away waiting for me to realise that I needed it, that I wanted to write.

It is time to clear away the tumbleweeds and brush off the cobwebs.  The blog has been given a new look and with it new life and focus.   I tried to make it simply about Mr B’s Button Jamboree in the past and found this too restrictive.  So I am going to open this blog up more.  I hope you like the new direction this takes and continue journeying with me.