Spring at last.

What a dreadful few months this has been. Since before Christmas I have been back to fighting those darn demons again, but with spring on the horizon things are starting to look up a bit better once again. Through out these 3 months I just haven’t had it in me to write my blog, despite so much going on in my life.

The news that I was told in October that I would lose my new job, totally gutted, along with several other colleagues, it was a bolt out of the blue, and as the time is drawing ever so close to the finishing date (sometime during the first 2 to 3 weeks of April) it has become more and more difficult to comprehend what is going to happen job wise in the future. Already the job searching has begun, and last Thursday I had a job interview for what I do see as a perfect job and an added bonus it is very close to home. Just one thing, so many people have been interviewed for the position, I won’t know for a few more days yet but I doubt very much if I will get it, but at least I managed to get an interview and tried my best.

However, one thing is certain now in my mind, this current job I am in was not meant to be after all, and may be it’s for the best I am being made redundant. I wonder if anyone remembers the old saying, although we can’t see it at the time, things happen for a reason. I believe in this case it to be completely true. But it has given me several more months of very valid experience and knowledge in another specialized industry.

It was the first Christmas and New Year without my dad, and somehow we got through it, although it was very sad and strange not to see him Christmas morning, and then round the dinner table with my brother, sister-in-law and my nephews. It is also very strange to realize that next month, on my birthday, it will be the first anniversary of dads passing. I can’t believe where this past year has gone, it just does not seem real without him around.

The dark mornings and evenings with the dismal weekends throughout the winter months, travelling too and from work have taken its toll on my physical and mental well-being. In January I ended up with a virus that knocked me off my feet for a few days and then a severe bout of laryngitis in February. On top of all this I found out my diabetes has got worse and I am now on daily medication for this as well as new medication for a couple of other problems associated with the diabetes. Not really the best start to the year.

My daily routine starts when I get up between 5.45 to 6.00 am each morning and get ready for work to start a journey to work that takes about 1.1/2 hrs plus. This includes two bus journeys as well as waiting around time for connecting to the 2nd bus services and then a 15 to 20 mins walk down what has to be one of the dirtiest, and most dangerous roads in Birmingham which is a route to a major freight company in an industrial area. On the good side they say a brisk 20 min walk is good for you every day.  The road and footpaths are littered with rubbish that has been deliberately dumped, including large truck tyres, as well as the rubbish thrown out of the windows of speeding cars. The footpaths are blocked by trailer lorries which one has to walk into the road into oncoming, and sometimes speeding traffic in order to get around these parked vehicles. Normally I would be able to avoid this long walk and take a short cut, but unfortunately there is major bridge repair work going on which means the short cut is cordoned off until further notice. I’m guessing it will re-open the week after I’ve finished this job!

On arriving at work each day for an 8.30 am start I then have to deal with one particular male colleague who has to be the most arrogant, big-headed, loud mouthed and disrespectful person I have ever had the misfortune to meet in my entire working career. This has lowered my mood considerably over the past few months, but now I won’t have to work with him much longer which is a huge sigh of relief.  The rest of the team I work with are a fantastic bunch, and it is down to them that I have managed to survive and get through each day in this job, and the fact I have been able to learn so much about the concrete industry. Then, on finishing work between 5.30 to 6.00 pm I have to repeat the same journey back home, this time through a crowded city centre and finally manage to get home around 7.00 to 7.15 pm. feeling exhausted, but not able to get ready and go to bed because of having to have a light meal in order to have my evening medication and allowing the meal to digest before I can go to bed. If only life was so much more simpler.

This is a very long day with travelling and working in any ones book, and to do it through the winter months and through the dark mornings and nights has taken its toll on my health. Thankfully the past couple of weeks has been a big improvement, lighter in the morning when I leave home and of an evening when I leave work, which has made it more bearable and also a few warm mornings with some bright sunshine and blue skies.

The Saturday mornings I have had to work, which is one in every third Saturday, have usually been the better Saturdays regarding the weather, but because of having to be up at 5.00 am to be in work for 7.00 am by the time I finish around 10.30/11.00 am I am too exhausted to do anything, including going out with my camera. On my free Saturdays the weather has been dismal and so this has kept me indoors.

With all this going on I can understand why so many British love to go to warmer, sunnier climates during our winter months.

The last couple of Saturdays I did finally manage to get out and about with my camera, a trip to my nearest local zoo in Dudley and then last week-end to the Birmingham Nature Centre. Just pushing and willing myself to get out on both those days has helped me to start fighting back those demons. There is something about being around animals that does help to lift ones spirits. It means that with the better weather comes the chance to get out and about more, go on walks which in turn should help the diabetes and my blood pressure. I even have a couple of day trips planned. I also want to find time to relax and do some fishing in the summer months. I always used to find sitting on a river bank watching the fish rising to the surface and splashing, hearing the birds singing and the water rats and voles diving in and out, always made me smile and even gives me inspiration. In all honesty I think they all look forward to the spring as much as we humans do.

I probably say this every year, but I do love spring. It’s a new beginning, a fresh start, a colourful time of year, to see the carpets of  daffodils and crocuses rising from the ground, it warms the heart, and also allows our souls to breathe again. I realise I have a few  busy and uncertain months ahead of me, the stress of job searching, then starting a new job, working with new people, adapting to a different environment all over again, improving my diabetes, but I also intend to give myself some me time whilst out exploring with my camera, this is something I haven’t done properly for a few months.

 

Approaching Spring

Spring soon will be here
Away from the winter’s snow
Drying up every frosty tear
And causing the landscape to glow

But the shine of spring I need right now
I need all the help I can get
To wave goodbye to this past winter
In hopes that I can forget

I’ve lost all my real friends
And almost ever other friendship too
Right now I am just amazed
That I haven’t yet lost you

The approaching spring will hit restart
It’s something that we all need
The approaching spring will fix our hearts
And allow our souls to breathe

by Matt Burgett

 

Many thanks for stopping by.

 

 

 

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Felt by my heart.

The past month has been really tough. In the space of a little over one week my father had gone from sitting with us at his bungalow merrily chatting away to each other about steam trains, birds & animals, his national service days and family and one of his favourite TV shows. We had even been making plans with my brother and sister-in-law to take him to Weston Super Mare for a day trip in June, and then in September to The Severn Valley to see the Flying Scotsman whilst it was on tour and stationed on display there, something we were all very much looking forward to. We were having our usual conversations that we have on a Sunday morning gathering, or on the phone of an evening, and then suddenly a week later my dad was gone.

Although it has been in my eyes more noticeable about how much frailer my dad had become over the last 6 months I had never thought we would lose him. It just seems that you feel that your parents have always been there for you in the past and I suppose you feel a sense that they will always be there for you for ever.  I can remember when I was a child I always though mom & dad will ALWAYS be here for me, they would never leave. As I got older and began to see the truth and the ‘negative’ side of life and existence I then realised my dream of them being alive and with me  for ever and a day was just so unreal. Life can be so cruel.

Part of my depression which started just a little over 15 years ago was caused by a really bad year prior to my moms death on 29th April 2001. I had been very unwell physically after having to deal with 2 lots of serious surgery, and then depressed for several months before hand, without really realising it, but as they say the straw that broke the camels back was when I had to face my moms death, and then a few weeks later I had to face major life saving and life changing surgery, and for the first time ever my mom was not there for me anymore, at least not in the real physical sense. Fortunately, my dad was there for me and has been there for me ever since.

They say lightning never strikes twice in the same place. Shortly after my mom passed away, I can remember thinking to myself I never want to go through all that again, I hoped and prayed I never would have to. The decision to stop all medication, agree to a DNR and no further intervention was something  my dad, myself, my brother and sister-in-law had to mutually agree to. All moms organs were failing, and to agree to resuscitate her was pointless. We had to agree the same reasoning  for the same nightmare with my dad. I know deep down the horror of all of this will never go away, and having to make that decision again brought back so many bad memories. Despite of all this, over the past couple of weeks it has been good to talk to family, friends and work colleagues about the good times, the good memories and some of the wonderful times we have shared over the years with both my parents.

After Dads funeral service, as we all came out of the church into the area where all the flowers were laid, people came up to us, family members as well as friends of the family, dads club friends, old friends and  neighbours  from many years ago when my brother and I were still kids,  My sister in-laws, sister and her husband  came up to me, we hugged as normal and then Mick said it all in one simple sentence which truly summed up my dad, he said  ”your dad was a really good man, a really great bloke, a proper gentleman”. And I knew how true this was. The same thing has been said by my family members as well as dads bungalow club friends and his neighbours.

Dad has never been a drinker, only on social occasions or the occasional can of stout or bitter at home. He gave up smoking in 1981/82. He never gambled, just the usual couple of quid on the Grand National each year. Over the last 12 or so years he enjoyed his games of bingo, which for him was more a case of having a bit of a social life with his friends and was a way of maintaining his level of independence. When mom passed away, despite the rest of the family being there for him it had left a huge emptiness in his life.  Being part of the ‘bungalow club’ helped him in some ways to rebuild his life without mom.  It  gave him the chance to take some holidays to Weston Super Mare and Weymouth, as well as odd days out for coach trips or meals out with friends from the club. It was his social life outside the family, but first and foremost he was a family man and with that he was a true gentleman.

I have so many wonderful memories of the times spent with my dad. His passion for coarse fishing was passed on to me and my brother. I can still remember the first time I went fishing with dad and the first fish I caught. I don’t know who was more excited,,,,dad or me. Another great passion was his gardening which I have continued to learn from him over the years, and still love doing when I get the chance (although I have to admit the last 16 months have been difficult to maintain it as I have been unable to do the work physically due to recovering from 3 lots of surgery in that time) I only have a small garden area in the yard behind my flat, but have learnt how to get the best from it thanks to my dads knowledge and expertise. There is a certain satisfaction in growing your own runner beans, tomatoes, rhubarb as well as growing several Fuschias from my own cuttings and nurturing 3 or 4 roses.

My knowledge and love of birds, animals, butterflies, fishing, gardening and the countryside have all been down to my dad. Back in the 1970’s and early 1980’s dad rented 2 allotments from the local council. Each weekend and in the school holidays my brother and I used to go there with him a lot. The allotments were adjacent to one of our local parks called Jubilee Park, and each time we went down there we always used to have a game of football or cricket in the field before starting to work on the allotment…just the three of us. Then we would cross over the little brook, and see who could get across without getting their feet wet…..being the smallest and youngest I always lost, but as I got a little older, I also got a little wiser and started  taking  my pair of wellies with me 🙂

I can still see dad now in my mind, at the height of each summer season when it was time to reap the benefits of his hard all year round work, pushing his wheelbarrow from home to the park…empty, and then filling it up with sacks of home-grown potatoes, onions, runner beans, carrots, broad beans, garden peas and beetroot.  Bunches of Sweet Williams and Chrysanthemums for mom as well as containers full of homegrown blackberries and raspberries ready for the pies and jam making.  But there was nothing better than eating a few fresh peas, broad beans or berries straight from the garden. At the bottom of the allotment he dug out a small pond and each year we used to watch the frog spawn waiting for them to become tadpoles, then frogs.

As dad got older, then so his health began to give him problems. Late in the 1980’s due to severe arthritis in his ankles and feet he had to give up first one and then the other allotment. But by then my brother and I were both growing up and those days of kicking a ball around down the park with dad had gone. Dad was now content to grow what he wanted to in the garden and greenhouse at home.

In the late 1980’s and early 90’s I became a Special Constable, and despite mom and dad being very proud of me for becoming one, I was always their little girl and I know how difficult it was for them to see me go out on a late night/early morning shift knowing I was on duty at the pubs & clubs emptying times, where even back then there was always an element of danger involved, and always the fear of being assaulted or hurt on duty. Ever the worrying, caring parents.

It’s always important to hold on to all those good memories, and they have helped me get through these past couple of weeks. I have been happy to share my memories with family and friends. I am so going to miss our little chats, and showing dad my photo’s of my latest find in the nature reserve, his stories of the days in national service, his childhood in Knowle, his grandma who bought him up, but I am so glad he has told me so many stories from his past. My father touched my heart like not other person could, and for that I am truly grateful.

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt by the heart. Helen Keller

 

Birds of a feather…. on camera together.

I know I have said this before, but I do love Spring. It’s such a lovely time of the year, a time of renewal especially when it comes to nature. The trees have suddenly burst into blossom of the most gorgeous white and pink flowers, and the air has become perfumed. I’m hearing the song and chatter of more birds and seeing more blue sky and of course these past few days the warm sunshine has made an appearance. In addition to all this if you go to the local parks or nature reserves where there is plenty of wild bird life, there is a chance to see some recently born broods of ducklings, geese and swans.

This past weekend was a great time for me to go out and about with my new Nikon camera, and capture some of  these splendid visions. On Saturday I had a little bus ride to an old favorite park of mine called Swanshurst, which is situated in the area of  Birmingham called Billesley. This park used to be a ‘old haunt’ of mine, especially in my teenage years when I first starting going out fishing on my own.

The unfortunate story about this park is that there was an incident  back  in 2007  where the pool was drained of its entire  water content by the local council in order for repair works to be carried out at the bottom of the lake, it was  just as though the plug was pulled out. Unfortunately, it left thousands of fish in jeopardy, including Carp up to 35 lb in weight,  but no one at the council had first thought it out properly  by removing all  the fish and transport them to other local parks or sections of canals prior to the work commencing.  As a result of this insight, several days in to the drainage process a huge emergency rescue operation had to be mounted by anglers and local residents to try to save the fish and move them as quickly as possible in cars, vans and lorries to other lakes and canals in the near vicinity, the majority were saved. Trouble was it was never restocked after the work was completed, and to this day it is vacant of any decent stocks of fish, as a result no one goes fishing there any more.

However despite this incident, the park has always remained a local beauty spot for many people, and is still a popular place to have a walk around and see the birds. At any one time there used to be up to 200 geese there, and a few ducks. These days there are only a handful of geese, loads of ducks and moorhens and one pair of swans…..although the female was nowhere to be seen this weekend. My guess she is she was nesting on the island at the far end of the lake and perhaps even taking care of some new offspring.

At the far end of the lake there used to be an old boathouse close to the island which had been out of use for many years, although it was in a state of disrepair it did add a little character to the place. It was a favorite spot for many Carp anglers. Due to vandals being inconsiderate some years back it was burnt down, and duly had to be removed.

But walking around there on Saturday I was able to photograph some of the birds and flora. It really is a picturesque little park, and it is a delightful little walk. I saw seagulls ducking in and out of the lake, cheekily grabbing the food thrown out by people for the ducks and geese, and I was unfortunately witness to one sad and distressing incident involving  about 8 male ducks all attacking 1 female duck. This is something I have heard of before, and by all accounts is a natural occurrence in nature, but I had never witnessed it until now. As a result I had to mount my own rescue operation with another chap who witnessed the incident and  to try to get her away from the males, and drag her into the side of the bank and into some nearby bushes,  and hopefully give her time to recover in the bushes where I had to try to hide her. The poor little thing was in a state of shock, and was bleeding from her head. This apparently is called ‘duck rape’ and I understand it’s because the female is fertile and all the males want to mate with her. I sincerely hope I never have to see this happen ever again. I love Mallards, especially the stunning green and blue plumage that they show off  to attract the females, and despite being a natural r , it’s not at all pleasant to see these little fellows taking advantage of one female.

Anyway, with the sun out in a blue sky and the warmth on my back,  loads of  wildlife I couldn’t resist taking loads of pictures, and these birds do get up to some funny antics,  and I love to challenge myself to taking some ‘action shots’.  These are a few of the ones I took on Saturday. Hope you enjoy themSWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (1) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (6) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (16) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (23) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (63) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (65) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (106) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (123) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (130) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (149) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (150) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (154) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (166) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (169) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (172) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (173) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (174) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (179) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (183) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (190) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (192) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (193) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (223) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (231) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (236) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (251) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (275) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (278) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (281) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (285) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (290) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (291) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (302) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (303) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (305) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (343) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (365) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (366) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (382) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (409) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (417) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (424) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (434) SWANHURST PARK MAY 2013 (514)

 

Many thanks for stopping by.

 

Passionate about…..

Over the years I have been able to challenge myself to attempting something new and sometimes exciting, however I rarely find something or some one who can inspire me enough to carry on with it, or allow  myself to let it develop and grow into a deep and sincere passion.

As a very young child I can remember when my father used to take my brother and me on a fishing trips to either the local Birmingham park pools or on an even more rare occassion on the River Avon in Stratford, Worcester or Evesham. Course fishing was a love of my fathers when he was growing up, and it was something he introduced to us as children. In his younger days he fished in local contests…..and he did very well.

Unfortunately he is far more restricted these days due to his own disabilities, but even now at the age of 80 years he jumps at the chance to go when my brother is able to take him, three or four times a year during the warm summer months.

As children it is something both my brother and I developed a passion for. And I suppose in all honesty it’s something that’s never really left me, but for health problems of my own over the past 5 years or so, it has been put on hold.

I learnt a great deal from my father over the years about fishing, infact I can say in all honesty I learnt far more from going fishing with him than sitting down reading angling books or magazines or watching angling programmes on the television. He taught me the methods to use, what water conditions to use certain methods, which floats and baits to use or not use and how to fish in particular weather conditions. More importantly he taught me to have patience.

As I don’t drive or own a car this has meant it has been very difficult to get to and from any pools or lakes that I love to go to. But if you do love something that much you will always find a way. That in itself represents a challenge. Buses, trains and Taxi’s have all seen there fair share of me armed with my fishing equipment over the years!

It is extremely unfortunate that over the last 5 yrs due to a physical health problem I have not been able to continue  my passion of coarse fishing. That is until in recent months. I have worked at the same premises for 20 years and in all that time I have never considered fishing the canal that cuts across our car park, and is less than a 2  minute walk away, until this year that is. During the past summer months I would arrive an hour early before starting work,  stay the odd hour after finishing work and and spend my half hour lunch break armed with my pole, a loaf of bread and landing net in the hope of catching a few small fish. Where there is a will there is a way! These snatches of  time  at the canal bank this summer has re-ignited my passion once more.

Late last year when I went through a particularly bad stage of my depression, I chose to carry on working rather than take time off on sick leave. I found peace and solitude on the canal bank, just standing there a feeding the ducks and geese.  It became my little bit of sanctaury at lunch times away from the hustle and bustle of the office and warehouse I work in. It gave me time to think. There is something about water and the wildlife around the water that is very soothing and satisfying.

People ask me why do I go fishing, what inspires me to sit on the edge of  a river bank in all kinds of  weather and possibly not catch anything….except a cold! They tell me they would find it extremely boring…a bit like watching paint dry. I say dont knock it till you try it!

I tell them it’s because I enjoy doing it. Being at one with nature, and relaxing amidst beautiful scenery,  listening and watching the birds and the other wildlife. Watching the ripples on the water with the suns warm rays bouncing off the surface. Glimpsing the fish swimming underneath. sitting there in anticipation of knowing whether the next fish I catch will be a 6lb Mirror Carp or a humble little Roach or Perch. But it’s a real sense of achievement when you see that float disapppear below the surface and you strike and feel the tug of the fish on the end of the line.  Its just having that feeling you’ve  got things measured up right and what you have learnt over the years is at that moment going be worth it. Carefully bringing that fish across the surface of the water towards your landing net. Getting the first glimpse of your prize fish, the view of its beautiful glimmering silver body and the deep redness of its fins and underside, sensing the weight of it, watching the tip of your rod bending. It’s the personal satisfaction of catching that fish, weighing it and carefully returning it to the water knowing that you may well catch that fish again next year only then it will be bigger and a little more heavier. Casting the float back out again and waiting for that bite, and yet again the anticipation of what your next fish is going to be.

My friends ask me why I am so passionate about fishing. I reply to them, its a simple but very fulfilling experience.

Yesterday as I sat next to my father at a celerbratory dinner with all the family for his 80th birthday, it made me think of those early days of my childhood and those fishing trips with my father and brother. And how something so simple has given  me such great pleasure over the years.

 

There are many other interests in my life that I have a passion for,  watercolour painting and sketching, photography and my dear rabbits….although unfortunately I now have only the one rabbit left. More recently I have developed a new interest in my life. Something that a friend has shown me the pleasure of doing, and this has inspired me greatly to have a go, because it combines my artistic abiliities with my photography and gives me the opportunity to create a life long record of my family and close friends in the form of scrapbooking. One never knows….this could well be another passion developing!