Tintern Adventures

Tintern Abbey

Ever since I was a boy Tintern Abbey has been a popular run out location in the car. Many a picnic or walk along the river with my family. However as strangely as it sounds I have never actually been in side the Abbey itself. It has to be said all these years I have viewed from a far and I have missed out. The d

A little history

The Abbey was first founded in 1131 by Walter Fitz Richard of Clare. Walter Fitz Richard was an Anglo-Norman lord. the Abbey was then later destroyed by Henry the 8th.

My Tintern Abbey EXPERIENCE

The grounds are very special, it is so clear of the history that once surrounded this amazing place. Everywhere you look near the Abbey shows strong connections. There is a scare of time once bustling with life but now stands in ruins.

The structure shadows over you and offer’s a real sense of calm. Looking around it is still almost clear to see the touches of life that once inhabited this mighty structure. You can almost imagine what it would have been like to live here.

Entrance if you are disabled is free for both yourself and your career. I was amazed at how accessible the grounds where as long as you where relatively capable in a wheelchair.  Although I was able to use my crutches on my visit I would have been very happy to have taken my wheelchair.

You could still visualise the kitchens and the rooms off of this area. There was clear signs of the drainage system that once held its own as the most advanced drainage system of its time. If you looked hard enough you could see the last remaining traces of the medieval glass in the windows high up in the abbey’s inner walls. but you have to look hard.

An amazing place and with the right imagination you can happily experience life in  a very different time.

The white monk cafe

Now here is the place to go if you want cosy, reasonable and you are looking for good service. the Staff are all lovely and in fact I think beautiful would be a better description. I enjoyed a bit of banter with them as I was suffering with a hangover but the waitress made me smile and for me that is what counts.

The food was fantastic and the White Monks Hot chocolate was amazing. To be honest the biggest glass of water they had went down rather well in my current state.

The building itself holds some strong connections to the Abbey and there are plenty of features that show this. The mix of tables and chairs gives this cosy little room a real sense of warmth. Very well laid out Space and very welcoming.

The church of st mary the virgin

Up on the hill-side over looking the Abbey is an old church. If you look into the trees you can just see the bell tower. The church was once rebuilt in 1866 but then was destroyed by fire in 1973.

The features of the church still stands tall and proud but the last few years has seen mother nature take back what was once hers. I looked around the yard at some of the most amazing tombs. Standing landmarks from hundreds of years ago. I was very surprised to find graves there as recent as 2015.

This little treasure is very understated. stood high above the beautiful abbey it is hidden in the abbeys massive shadow. I am so glad that I decided to venture up to it. if nothing else the views where also absolutely amazing.

summary of the day

I love spending time out and about with my mother. We are and have always been very close. My Mum has always shown me that honesty is a strong quality but also sometimes life is way to short to spend it stuck in one place.

Day Out In Hay-On-Wye With Mama Mac.

Sundays are for road trips

What are Sundays for? Day trips, family time and maybe lunch out. Today I had all those things. A Day out with my Mother (Mama Mac). Hay-on-wye was our Sunday destination.

Since my Dad passed away in March 2016 life has been very different for my mother. Since my wife left in January this year I have also felt the burden of time on my own. There is nothing like the silence of your own company. Don’t get me wrong I love my own company, but after a while it is deafening. Today my mother and I decided to team up and hit the road. Go and see something different. Have a spot of food and a natter.

Hay-on-wye!

A very quaint country town. Hay-on-wye situated deep in the Welsh hills of Powys. Surrounded be stretched views and engulfed in history. Cute little shops and commonly known as the “town of books”. Hay-on-wye has a lot to offer. I have been here before but for some reason it was like it was my first time. We first hit a lovely little coffee shop called Cafe Hay.  What a lovely little place very clean, well presented and a great cup of coffee. If you go it’s not far from the car park so really hits the spot as a first stop.

Books, Books and Books!

They call Hay-on-wye the “town of books” and I can definitely see why!

Book shops are everywhere but book stalls are on every corner. Little sheds or lean too’s with shelves of books and an honesty box.

Mama Mac who loves a good read had a good nose around those! Most of them was like £1 for a hard back book or 50p for a soft back. So if you are a book-worm and out in the area stop and have a look they are there in mass.

Hay Castle

We stumble across Hay castle by accident. At first we didn’t know what it was. The building is completely run down the grounds are left un-maintained and all in all looking very sorry for itself.

But underneath all that it is a fantastic piece of history that is currently being rebuilt. I don’t really need a reason to come back to this gorgeous little town but the development of Hay Castle is something I am very excited about. I have followed them on FaceBook so will definitely be keeping a close eye on the progress.

Shops

If you are anything like me you will hate shopping! I do however love the little unusual shops that you don’t get on the high street. Hay-on-wye had loads of these little shops selling odd little items that you don’t see every day.

One little shop that absolutely stood out was a place called OtherWorldz. I loved this shop. the layout was so cool. The decor was fantastic and the overall atmosphere was rather magical. The lady that worked there was so sweet and chatty I even forced her to have a selfie with me.

The owner was in the shop next door called Satori. Also a really nice guy.  There was loads of magical stuff in his two shops. Jewellery, Crystals, Incense, Candles and Windchimes. I really want to take my friend Lewis to this shop he will love it.

My final thoughts

This town can be described as cute, as beautiful and very special. From start to finish I kept coming across more and more cool shops and lovely corners. Most of the town is wheelchair accessible however it’s not all easy as there are a lot of hills and several shops have steps. I think this is a common issue with old towns like this but for me I have always understood that it can’t really be helped as most of the properties are listed.

But over all if you are looking for a peaceful place to go  then this has to be one to put on the list.

Open-mind To Minimalist Living

What is minimalist living?

Minimalist living seems to create two very different opinions. The main concept is to live. Not to be suppressed by possessions and be free of the clutter both physical and mental.

Some say that they like there stuff to much. Others love the concept of no clutter. I feel clutter causes stress. Clutter takes away the ability to sit and not be crowded in your surroundings. A clean environment offers you the chance to have a clean mind.

The minimalists

I watched a show on Netflix called The Minimalists. The show inspired me to want to try and live a clearer life, free from the unwanted clutter.  I came to realise the pressure of the want. The want for the next best thing. I realised how we are pressured by marketing and general conception that what we need to have lot of stuff. We are convinced that it is stuff that marks our success in life. The show showed me that in fact happiness in the true measure of success and it is something we can all work towards in our own way.

My minimalist journey

I started to clear out my home after my marriage broke down. This difficult task offered me the chance to create my own space. I could have my home how I wanted it. The feeling was energetic and I quickly felt free. Firstly I cleared out the kitchen and got rid of all the stuff I have not used or intended on using. I cleaned every cupboard and organised my belongings to make it easier to use. Sorted out the bathroom and I had clear and free space. I then simply moved from room to room doing the same thing and before I knew it my house was completely clutter free.

 

Once the house was done i moved onto my life

Once the house was completely minimal I realised that I had to much space. I have decided that I dont want to keep the house anymore! There are to many memories there to much mind clutter! I needed to have a sort out of my emotions as well as my stuff.

So I have decided on moving into a relatives house for a bit to get myself on my feet. Give my mind some free space to think.  I have thought about following my dream of buying a motor-home. Then I thought well if I had a motor-home maybe I could get rid of the car. And then the true reality of a life long dream hit me!!! Why don’t I just live in the motor-home!! It’s a perfect solution. Cheep, as minimalist as it gets and I can go wherever I want.

The motor-home

At first i was Fuelled by my new found ambition.  Full steam ahead with the plans. Of course! I have been faced with two very different opinions. Of course I have! On one side, I am completely crazy. On the other side my idea is amazing.

Let’s go back to crazy first!

I currently work full time and every penny I get is taken into the cost of the bills. No little luxuries! No free cash! Just bills and paying for food and fuel. So I spend my life earning just enough money to go to work and eat. I am trapped in a job I don’t really like! Feel captured like a caged animal in a world made up of two computer screens and a telephone headset.

I drive a car that basically works as a tool to get me back and forth work to pay for a house that is fundamentally half of my ex wife’s. I have all the normal debt and nothing to spare at the end. Let’s hope my boiler don’t break down.

So I ask you is it not crazy to live this life for the next 40 years? Running on the spot to simply pay bills? Never seeing anything more the two sets of four walls!

now let’s look at the amazing opportunity.

Living a life of little responsibility. Enjoying seeing some of the most beautiful parts of the world. Never having to worry about being home for work on Mondy. No dead lines! Not governed by targets! No real rules except your own. Taking time, having a clear mind. Living life your way at your pace and being free to roam and explore.

For me the life of a full timer is definitely for me. Yes I am worried about the life changing choices. Getting rid of my STUFF was in fact the easy bit. Essentially turning my back on normality and creating uniqueness is the dream.

I plan on writing a book. Get more creative with my poetry. Take up photography and simply being free.

So why?

With simplicity and minimalism your requirements are rapidly reduced. Your expectations are fewer and your decisions are less complex. You are free to think! I have now moved out of the house. De-cluttered my mind and my stuff. I now have what I need. Everything I own has a purpose. My mind feels free from the stress of perception and expectation. Will I travel full time? Will just travel part time? Who knows! What i do know is my life will be simpler and less congested leaving space to concentrate on me!

 

Muggi – The safest cup holder around

My Muggi Review

How has Muggi made a difference to me?

As a wheelchair user one thing I do struggle with is cups of boiling hot water. Carrying multiple cups at the same time! carrying even one cup and something else, like biscuits is a bit tricky.

For many this simple task is an everyday event but for me it can be an impossible chore. I have attempted to try several ideas. To be honest I have either got to do several trips or ask for help. Hot tea in one hand and the risk of wearing it getting from A to B is normal.

in work

The area I was struggling with was in work. I work as part of a team and we do have a tea rota. The team I work with are fantastic and treat me no different to anyone else. Yes they are well aware of my odd restriction and in fairness never ever raised any comments. If I never made a cup of tea they would understand! for me it was a simple task that I wanted to be involved in!

I have never been beaten by anything and it was frustrating that I couldn’t do it. Recently the company’s health and safety department decided that they would review how cups of boiling water was being carried around the office.

The company purchased  1000 muggi’ and this for me this was an absolute revelation. It meant that I could now take part in the tea run. Ok there is a catch! Due to health and safety in work I am unfortunately not aloud to carry the cups on my lap with tea in them. However I can now carry all the empties to the kitchen! wash them! fill them! however then one of the guys just carries them back to the desks. So much better and very simple.

At home

At home it’s another story. This simple design makes carrying so much easier. No more risk of spilling.  I get a sense of pleasure when I can roll in with the teas. However as I recently discovered it works great with a few beers and also a bottle of wine and two glasses.

I know for many reading this you may ask! How is something so simple as making tea such a big deal? It’s about the simple things that make the difference. This is better than any tray. The cups are secure. There is a lip so nothing can spill and it fits nice and solid on your lap.

This really is a fantastic wheelchair must.  I would love to see how someone with poor grip would benefit I think it’s design would assist in that area two. I think the Muggi has really hit the unintentional mark.

Muggi Specifications

• Muggi is designed and manufactured in the UK from a lightweight but super tough Polypropylene.

• It is available in a range of colours including Blue, Red, Grey, Purple, Green, Pink and recycled Black.

• It securely holds most shapes and sizes of mugs, cups and wine bottles and will catch any unwanted spillages, BUT it also features four non-slip rubber feet, finger and thumb holds!

• Can be produced in virtually any colour for orders over 1000 units.

Dimensions

• Width 200mm

• Depth 200mm

• Height 70mm

• Each cup holder diameter 89mm

Honestly trying it is believing it.

My Honest Smartcrutch Review 

Smartcrutch

I first came across Smartcrutch at Naidex the mobility show in Birmingham.

Instantly impressed by the look and design. Tried them out and really fancied putting them through their paces.

Most people think crutches are simply sticks to help you walk, to be honest you would be right, however! Crutches have come along way in design and practical use over the years.

I have a set from early days that are adjustable NHS issue and they do the job. Except the fact that you clink every time you take a step. I was then issued with a solid every day set. Made to measure! These where great but came with the normal issues that you get for prolonged use. Pressure pains in your wrists mainly.

over looked on everyday crutches

Let’s look at a few of the things that are over looked on everyday crutches. The elbow cuff is normally made of moulded plastic that can be a little rough. Jumpers tend to get snagged and soon ruined by this.

The hand grip is normally also made of hard plastic and anyone who uses them for a period of time will get that red painful palm where you are basically pushing down on the grip.

The rubber feet that you only ever get full floor coverage when the crutches are completely straight, use these on tiled floors like super markets and they can be lethal.

The main point to note

Crutches are really designed for a short period of time. Crutches are not designed to take your full weight. The main idea is to assist with balance not to replace it.

I tend to take most things and turn it on its head. For example a wheelchair, cut off the front end add a 3rd wheel and climb a mountain with it. not its purpose.

When smartcrutch asked me to review their product I assured them that I would push it to the limits.

So whats my verdict

Everyday use they are great. Covering the initial issues every box has been ticked. The elbow support is strong smooth and padded so you don’t get the issue with snagging and most of the support is through the elbow rather than the wrist.

The hand grip is a soft comfortable rubber that has plenty of give. The elbow section adjusts so that you can effectively use them solely with the elbow taking the pressure off your wrist all together.

Even though they are fully adjustable you don’t get the clinking as they are a good fit and well-built.

To me the magic is in the feet. Being flexible they offer a constant platform and grip to the ground so slippery surfaces are not so much of an issue and as a result shopping is a lot easier and I feel much more secure.

The adjustable elbow support means that once they are at a 90 degree you are completely supported through your elbow, not your wrist while your forearm is held firm and secure. This does however take some getting used to.

Now for the best bit

So as always once I had used these for everyday use I wanted to take them out of their comfort zone.

Squash is an active sport and one I enjoy. It keeps me fit and healthy but I used to fall over a lot as the floor is a slippery surface. My normal NHS crutches didn’t offer me a good solid platform to lean into.

The smartcrutch has really improved this area and is a massive assistance on court. The look is stylish , comfort is amazing and overall usability is awesome.

Next was to try them off-road. Here is where these awesome crutches find their slight but not complete weaknesses. On damp grass they don’t really hold well. On loose dusty surface they tend to lose a little grip.

Now here they do shine, on relatively uneven rocky surfaces the flexibility in the feet seemed to work fairly well. The adjustable elbow joint means you can place a lot of your weight through the crutches but only if they grip the ground. I have not yet used them on ice but I fear the result would not be ideal.

few words of IMPROVEMENTS

I really am not going to take anything away from this product the conditions i put them through are not what they are designed for.

In my opinion however it would not be difficult to adapt them to be a fantastic all-rounder. It would be all in the feet!

If I could have one improvement on this product it would have to be the addition of off-road feet. As an adventure lover I am never more alive than when I am off the beaten track and up a mountain.

There is so much potential for the Smartcrutch to be used as off-road with the design of feet that could be used on grass or in mud maybe even snow or better still sand. I think smartcrutch are missing this vital sector.

final few words

These crutches are a fantastic all round product that like everything will suit some more than others. I have definitely pushed them and tested them to the current limits and i am very impressed.

I think that they still have so much more to give and really look forward to the future of this product.

Well done smartcrutch now let’s talk off-road.

www.smartcrutch.com

Do I have to have a custom built wheelchair 

Do I have a custom-built wheelchair

Imagine this as a scenario! You are going about your life as anyone else would and something dramatically changes!

No warning and no time to plan! You end up in hospital! No clue what has happened! You know something is wrong ! But you don’t know what!

For many people going into a chair that is the exact experience. Let’s be honest who sits down and thinks I am just going to keep a few thousand aside in my bank just in case I need to redevelop my life around a disability.

I know I never! If you are reading this chances are you didn’t either. So initial shock has passed and along come the next stage.

Planning
  • What to do now,?
  • what do I need?

It’s all perfectly expected, and a natural fear of the unknown is common. Here in the U.K. We get the privilege of the NHS It is a privilege! Because in many countries this is not the case.

So you now know you need a wheelchair and you need one soon. An absolute need to live the best life possible. Something light enough to manoeuvre around in and don’t forget getting in and out the car.

Your new wheelchair is not just an item that gets you from A to B it is now apart of you. Annoyingly it also becomes your new descriptive characteristic. So yes it’s an important purchase.

Cost
  • So what do they cost?

Well honestly a few grand to be on the safe side. They are custom-built to your needs and everything down to the wheels is an added extra.

  • The big question is do you have to buy new?

Well for me that was not an option! If I had my way I would buy the Carbon Black, it’s amazing, light, sexy and expensive. If I was completely honest I would have struggled to go for a lower end spec chair from Bromkin, RGK or maybe Quickie.

So I turned to the internet and to be exact EBay. I knew my measurements and what I was looking for. The big things you need to know is leg, hip, and seat size.

If you look at chairs that are fully adjustable you will be on a winner. It is a case of spending the time and making sure you are happy. Don’t forget to ask other people what they think. You are not just buying a wheelchair you are buying the one thing you will use everyday and all day so it has to be right.

So you purchase a chair for a fraction of the cost and you may want to just put a personal touch to it! Your options are endless with some new casters that cost a few pound from a skate store or eBay. Kids scooter wheels are normally perfect.

Maybe you want to give a whole new style and refurbish it, look at sites like Pimp my chair they do all sorts from nice straps to complete back and cushion . But at the same time you may not need to do anything and it may be perfect with a few settings adjustments.

This option may also leave you a fund for accessories like the FreeWheel. I purchased a fantastic Kuschall wheelchair that I have had for three years and believe me I have put it through its paces including taking it down flights of stairs.

I have upgraded the wheels to spinergy, replaced the casters and lowered the back rest but initially all I done was tweak the settings to fit.

By going second-hand I saved an absolute fortune and would recommend you shop around before shelling out loads of cash if you can’t afford to. Since then I have now purchased a second chair that I used just around the house, again cheap and cheerful but does the job.

I know for many the importance of a custom fitted chair is unquestionably vital but for some it is just not in the budget and it’s those people like me that find the journey the biggest struggle.

Disability- lifestyles and life changes. 

disability lifestyles and life changes.

There are several types of people suffering with disability, those born with a disability, those who suffer from an injury and those who suffer from an illness.

If you weren’t born with a disability as many aren’t, it can be a struggle learning to adapt and enjoy your new lifestyle. This will lead to times of frustration, sadness, and despair. It shouldn’t have to, you are the one in control and you do have the power to succeed. I get it! Yes! This is Easier said than done. Yes! We all struggle. Yes! It is perfectly natural however it’s important to find your new way of living. Your task is finding a way to make ‘you’ happy.

Coping with your emotions

It’s hard and even more so if an injury or illness is keeping you from doing the things you enjoy. You will start experiencing a profound impact on your emotional and mental health.

For many people there is the offer of counsellors to help them sort through their emotions. Some like myself this is not necessarily on offer so I turned to friends and mentor programs. Programs like what is offered by the BackUp Trust.

Truth is you just need to find people to talk through your feelings with. It helps if they have a grasped understanding of your situation. There are loads of foundations and organisations that can help in this area for example Limb Power help with individuals that have lost a limb or have limb impediments. I have recently been a guest at the Katie piper foundation. They support burn and scaring survivors. The foundation and the patrons are fantastic and supportive.

I was very lucky as I met people through sport and those people introduced me to other people. I joined my local baseball team. (Archers Wheelchair Basketball) This helped loads, my journey from there has been positive and now I am in a position where I can offer others a bit of support.

Through sport I found confidence and from confidence I found will power. Before I knew it I was back in the saddle, I was planning adventures and deciding what I wanted to do next.

limitations

Your limits can be a massive issue. Your body’s new limits is something you will need to explore and also experiment with. This is the area however that will make you angry and at times irritable. You can gain a lot of benefits from working with physical or occupational therapists to help you find new ways of doing things. Effectively using your body to its best potential will be how you overcome the limitations presented to you. For all of us the hardest thing to beat is our own frustration.

Be patient with yourself it will come in time. We all try we all fail but if you don’t try then you have failed before you begin.

Coping financially

Now this is the area of real pressure. It comes with its own issues and I have often stated that no one plans this life changing event. Often a recently new disability will keep you from working. This could possibly be long or short-term so you are effectively already starting on the back foot.

I know here in the U.K. You can seek benefit support and in other countries there are other such assistance. The application process can be lengthily and often complicated. You may even get rejected on the first attempt but the hard work is worth the effort. Remember two things:-

  1. You need this initial support and never be too proud to ask for help. One of the biggest mistakes that many people do in my opinion is to fund the new unexpected out goings on credit cards or loans. This is the voice of experience.
  2. Financial hardship is common, you are not the first. Sometimes the sudden lack of income can put massive pressure on an already pressured situation. You don’t have to face this alone and you can visit well run organisations such as Citizens advice or stepchange to seek financial guidance.
Finding new passions and hobbies

Hobbies will be very healthy, your life may have changed due to disability but your life style doesn’t need to. If you are unable to keep working in your current job try seeking a further education.

Sometimes hobbies have to change. I was a runner before my wheelchair but I found new activities such as wheelchair basketball, Handcycleling,  wheelchair rugby,  wheelchair squash and of course I became a blogger.

It is absolutely vital that you find new ways to enjoy life. There are plenty of hobbies and activities you can do. All you need to do is just be willing to explore your boundaries. Step outside the box.

It is hard to adapt but trust me you will find away. When I developed my disability so many people told me what I couldn’t do but all I could think about was “but why not?” So I decided to try to find a way to do these things for me that became my hobby! And I love it…

The journey from where I started to the place I am now has been long, painful and frustrating. I have had to overcome, push my limits and rediscover who I now am. People would say it’s not about the chair you are the same old you. No I am not I am a new me. I laid the able version of me to rest and embraced the version of me that has a disability and decided that if this was the cards I was dealt then I am playing them my way. Keep hope, keep faith and look to those around you for the support you need. You can do it and you will…

Living life outside the box.

Living life outside the box.

When I first fell ill I never for a second thought my life would end up where it is today. I have managed to achieve so many amazing things. Meet so many amazing people and try so many fantastic activities. All because I am willing to ‘Step outside the box’ I have often been asked why do I try to do the crazy things I do…. Am I not worried I am going to hurt myself?

They say you must be crazy!! you need to take it easy!! you need to be careful!!
Then its, what sort of things have you done?

Once I tell people I climbed Pen y Fan in a wheelchair.

I was the second person ever to do it! People seem shocked. Yet I know wheelchair users that have climbed Snowdon not once but three times. That person is not only a close friend of mine but is part of my driving inspiration. He always seems to be there when I need him no matter what is happening in his own life. His climb up Snowdon inspired me but his character is what makes me consider him a friend.

I tell people I play basketball! That I played wheelchair rugby for Wales! That I cycled a marathon! I have completed the Carten100.

People say “ OMG that’s amazing” Maybe it is maybe it’s not. Either way these where great times in my life.

People listen to me and my short stories!

They tell me I am inspiring! It still knocks me back, just a few minutes ago I was being told I was crazy. I never know how to react. It feels good knowing that you have given people a shove in the right direction.

I have thought about it and I have realised that in fact the only reason I am inspiring is because I have been inspired. Inspired by those around me. With out that support from friends and family I would not do half the things I do now.

I do what I do,

Because there is so much that I can’t do so I replace it with the things that I can. If it looks like I can’t, well that just makes me more determined to at least try.

I like to fail, it means I get to try again next time. I love to succeed it means I get to try something else.

I am happy for people to tell me I am inspirational but not because I am in a wheelchair but because I am so much more than that. I am just a simple guy, stepping out of the box and living life the bast way I know how.

My talk with St Cadoc’s church ladies. Raglan

When I was asked by Beverly Jones of Awaken Life Coaching to talk in front of a group of ladies, in St Cadoc’s church and where they are all older ladies. I admit I was a little worried. These where a group of ladies that have lived through a world war. Seen and experienced things I could not begin to understand. And here I am with a story of my life. How could I even begin to offer them anything of any value.

I decided to open up my talk with a poem, something I wrote, something that had dear meaning to me. Very quickly I realised that my audience was engaged, so i continued with my talk feeling a lot more relaxed and comfortable.

I told the story of waking up one day and my life had changed for ever, I talked about loss and about how I had to learn to cope. I spoke about the path I had travelled on my journey and the exciting things I had experienced along the way.

These ladies where relating to me each in their own way, they where listening intently to what I had to say and I felt a real vibe of interest in the room. The setting was St Cadoc’s church Raglan  with the large church organ behind to set the scene.  It accrued to me exactly how fantastic this was, so prudent, I was a single man tiny in form engulfed in the architecture of this absolutely stunning building. Lit by the light coming in from the massive stain glass windows towered by the stone walls and watched by this incredible church organ. And yet here I was making a difference to people’s lives. simply by communicating and sharing my experiences with others. This was an amazing experience.

I spoke about my journey through medical investigations, tests and examinations, heads started to nod and a reaction of familiarity showed in the ladies faces. It dawned on me that these ladies had been on similar journey as I had. Of course they had! why did i even think for a second they would not understand the feeling of ignorance you get from doctors at times. The pain and frustrations of once being capable and suddenly you realise you are not so able. Each and every person in that room had a story, each story special and full. everyone there had experienced so much and seen so much and yet they offered me the grace of appreciating what I had to say.

I spoke about jumping out of aeroplanes and a sea of smiles shined back at me. I told the story of challenge 2015 and the interest grew stronger, these amazing ladies where so captured by my stories and tales of craziness, every joke I cracked was welcomed with laughs and interaction between each other, the best part was that all the way through they never took their eyes off me and that was extremely refreshing. (not one single mobile in the room)

I was so please when i finished and was showered with applause and congratulations, the questions flowed that I was happy to respond to. I explained what exactly a blog was, for some reason this was by far one of my finest moments of the past few years.

I have done many talks and I can honestly say that this was one of my favourites. I worried about what value I could offer these amazing ladies, I hope I achieved what I set out to do. However the fact they ended up offering me the grace of their time fulling with pride. The experience left me feeling very humble but really buzzing all at the same time.

This right here is what I need in life. This moment is the drug I am addicted to. This is what I want for myself. The moment you sit in front of a group of people share your time and story and leave with the feeling you have added value to the lives of other people is worth more that anything in the world. I would like to thank the ladies of St Cadoc’s church Raglan group for the most amazing evening and an experience I will hold very dear for a long time.  Thank you xxx

My life With CRPS (complex Regional Pain Syndrome}

What is CRPS? (complex Regional pain syndrome).

CRPS! Well it kind of is what it says on the tin really! A complex condition that results in the suffer experiencing unbearable pain. Caused by the neurological system and normally effecting one limb. It is rarely in two or more but definitely possible.

I have been living with this condition for just over 3 years. A condition that has affected my mobility in my lower limbs and has meant I have had no choice but to use a wheelchair.

At first I was full time in the wheelchair however recently I started to use crutches. Its great to be up on my feet more but I get tiered very quickly and the pain never goes away and I mean never.

Not only has the condition meant I have struggled to walk but I also get spasms. The Spasms are caused by a condition that can be related to CRPS, called Dystonia. These, sometimes very aggressive attacks, effect mostly the right hand side of my body and are somewhat unpleasant.

The medication Gabapentin helps to control these very uncomfortable and painful symptoms but unfortunately don’t stop it all together, however I feel they are reduced dramatically.

So my legs don’t work and I use a wheelchair!

Not so bad! I mean when people look at me thats generally what they see! a guy in a wheelchair. Well maybe this is a good time to mention I also suffer because of it all a significant reduction of control in my bladder. Between the CRPS and the cocktail of drugs I take I have Recently been diagnosed with Sensitive Gastroenteritis.

Now if you followed the link you will know that i am basically pron to bowel infections. during this time I cant sustain my levels of Phosphate. This is called hypophosphatemia.

So I am stuck in this fantastic circle.

CRPS has caused Dystonia. the issues with my lower mobility has resulted in Gastroenteritis. when i get flare up of that I then suffer with Hypophophatemia that causes high level stomach and muscle cramps. Cramps cause spasms and spasms are caused because of the dystonia.

Yep CRPS sucks but it could be a lot worst. what i have had to do is learn to adapt. and adapt i have!

CRPS for many “professionals” is considered as a cop out diagnosis. Not recognised as being a real disability, Well neither is ME and that affects 1000’s of people every day and is very real.

I also want to mention that it was not that long ago that if you had epilepsy you where executed for being possessed by witch craft. And dyslexia was not even known, you where just stupid. So I think it is fair to say that science and medical opinions change and doctors are not gods and not always right.

So what is my take on CRPS? Well for me it’s hard to explain because unless you are in the situation it’s not an easy thing to describe but I will try.

Basically

It’s all about signals and receptors in the body not communicating in the right way.  For example if a sensor on your car starts to malfunction it may send a signal to light up a warning light on your dashboard. It can even cause the car to lack power or stop altogether.

Now there is nothing mechanical wrong with your car. It’s a simple electrical fault that causes a whole load of problems. Anyone who knows cars and electrics will know this can be a nightmare to find. Well that is basically CRPS!

The sensors in the body that detect pain starts sending false signals and sends false messages to the brain. And as in your car can cause a world of problems for the person trying to live with the fault accept you can’t just replace them like you can on a car.

CRPS can be brought on by a number of things. An old injury or even an illness such as shingles. There is no cure and the use of medication  is designed to reduce the effects.

For me even though my condition has effected both my legs I am in a much better place than most. By using a chair I can live a fairly active life. I do sport, train, and I work full time. I’ve been very successful in all areas and have been very lucky.

I adapted

I had to make my house wheelchair friendly.  Purchased a new car that is automatic. Changed my job so I could work in an environment that can accommodate the wheelchair. these are just the big changes

Things have been tough. It has had a dramatic effect on personal relationships and friendships. At times I have felt very lonely. I have struggled with depression and I have struggled with emotions. Suffered with anxiety because of how these symptoms effect my everyday life. I just do my best to put all this aside and concentrate on the positives.

So ‘how’ do ‘I’ live with CRPS? Well I take each day as it comes and I think that is all any of us can do.

 

Go to a Christmas market #challenge2015

So the final challenge of the year was to go to a Christmas market.

All I can say is “Oh My Good God” people everywhere, so i am in a wheelchair, trust me they dont care.

The atmosphere was great with the theme and festivities but it was hard work, i felt so small and i was terrified people where rushing around they all had their own challenge on and their mission was alot more important that anything else. I enjoyed the time with Natalie and it was nice not to have to climb anything or push up anything all i had to do was try and enjoy the surroundings, truth is i did we had mauled wine and our photo taken with Olof, the music was festive and the weather was crisp until it rained but luckily this kind of event only happens once a year..

Getting on an aeroplane #challenge2015

For November the challenge was easy “go on holiday” sound good right? ok there was a bit more to it than that i wanted to fly on an airplane, this is a massive challenge if you have never done it before, i have got used to being a wheelchair user here in the UK but to go and do this in a different country was a whole new thing.

Planning and organisation was key, getting a hotel that was suitable was the real task and then there was the fear of Airports and would my chair make it alive and in one peace.

airport assistance is a must they got me to where i needed to be and onto the plane and they looked after my chair perfectly although take you cushion with you on the flight this note is a must.

I found that the assistance in Lanzorate was in fact better than in the UK and this surprised me but it is a fact all the same.

The hotel was fantastic the staff was amazing and always happy to help where needed but one you left and got into the street this where very different. High curbs lots of cobbles and lots of steps but with my wife to help we got around with out to much trouble.12240119_10153902185292868_4825562320952072453_n

the journey back was again seamless and very easy and all in all i cant wait to go away again lets hope all my experiences are as good as this one was.

Riding a motorcycle #challenge2015

October was a busy month and i managed 2 race weekends and 2 bike experience days and it was amazing in every way

I have ridden bikes for years off and on about 15 years to be exact, when i went into a chair giving up my bike was one of the hardest things i ever did, i took it to the shop i bought it from and asked them to take it off my hands. i just needed to get rid and move on. i had decided then that i would never ride again and that was just that. however then i was introduced to The Bike Experience where i met some of the nicest and most amazing human beings in the world, they got me riding a bike again not a trike a motorcycle, it had a few adaptions but i was up on two wheels in no time, everything came back to me every feeling every nerve seemed to work for just a second for the few moments i was on that machine i was the old me again. i twisted the throttle and i rode it like i used to hard and fast and i loved it.12112214_10153837310402868_980995514592167845_n

I made a lot of friends that day and i believe i will know them in one way or another for the rest of my life, it was here that i met Kirsty and Kelly who have since become part of my life and I could not be more proud to have them by my side as friends and in some ways they have already become family.

After my day with the Bike Experence I was invited to spend a weekend in the garage with the worlds first self sponsored disable motorcycle race team “Team Talan” and everyone who works with the team.  this was just breath taking in the pit garage at brands hatch was a dream come true and the guys very quickly became people i could soon add onto my friends list. i was in complete ore of the riders they just blew me away and the team was so slick and professional i just could not begin to grasp what was going on around me.

This was a fantastic weekend and when i was then invited to another Experience day i did not hesitate for long to take them up on the offer.

So off to donnington where i got to have another day on a bike this time my confidence was alot better and the track was alot of fun i started off on a stright 4 bandit but i was chewing at the bit to get back onto a v-twin again and as soon as the SV650 was free i was back in the swing of things, Dan one of the riders took me out to give me a few tips and before long i was leaning right over and in fact i even managed to scrap my toe on the ground, not bad considering i am strapped to the bike.

And finally I was then invited back to the team garage at snetterton to enjoy the last race weekend of the season with the team, by now i feel like i know everyone really well and i feel i have started to fit in, this is where i want to be mixed in the middle with these guys maybe not out on track maybe not racing but in the garage learning what to do and helping out in anyway i can. these guys are more than just a group of people i met along the way these guys have become friends and real friends at that and i cant wait to spend as much time as i can with them so watch this space.

Zipline #challenge2015

This was a fantastic challenge i got to achieve two thing, firstly i got to zip line something i have never done before and secondly i overcome my fear of heights. Chepstow was our location and one thing i will say is it dont matter what i have done this year the staff at beach place has been amazing and the guys here where no different, they just could not do enough for me including drive me from the bottom to the top and get my on the zip line its self, they listened to me and let my suggest what i could and could not do they didnt demand or command we done it as a team and that really stood out to me on this challenge.

we had two goes and i could have happily had a few more it was great, the next time I do this will be in Snowdon where you hit massive speeds and it lasts alot longer.

I have also added a video feel free to watch and enjoy such a cool experience and again i cant wait till next time.

My lift for the day….. This dude was sound……

Canoeing #challenge2015

After the past few months of fairly challenging challengers we decided to do something a little more fun and with a little less strain on the body.

we packed the car up for a camping trip the night before, enjoyed a great BBQ and a few drinks. the next day we made our way to the river Wye where we met the guys who was going to help me onto the water. they sorted us out loaded us up and drove us up river where we would start our days adventure. picnic packed life jackets on and the boats in the water thanks to the staff, we where set to go.

the river was great it was peaceful the water was calm and the views where amazing, I hold no secret that for me it is always about the view, we hit a few rapids which made it fun we even nearly came out but we managed to hold our ground and half way down we stopped for a bite to eat.

At the end I even managed to climb to the top of the big rock and throw myself in, it was not a delicate process and i did not look graceful but i did it and that is all that matters.

All in all I had a great time and again i would do it again however i wouldn’t mind making a few days of it and camp along the river side

Surfing #challenge2015

Surfing was a great challenge, it was decided on the spot almost and as we where on holiday in Cornwall the home to surfing in the UK why not.

We used a company called “Freewave Surf Academy” based at Widemouth Bay.

Robin our instructor was amazing and took a lot of time with me to get me ready to hit the waves nothing was rushed and my confidence just grew and grew.

The life guards on duty “Billy and Richie” where fantastic .

We arrived and got sorted the life guards then drove me down to the water edge and helped me get into the water. Once my body was in the water and past the sea break things where a lot easier and with a little technique using the board to get out into the real waves it was just amazing from that point.

Robin instructed us how to get up on the board for me how to best get onto my knees and then he helped us hit the waves.

I can move my legs so it makes this a bit easier but I have seen guys surf who cant and for them they just lay down and rode the waves, its about being in the sea and enjoying yourself.

I cant wait to try this again and am so glad that I challenged myself to try this now I am just hooked.

WAAT4 Challenge #challenge2015

I have done many challenges for many good charities, I have cycled the coast of south Wales, and I have even climbed Pen Y Fan but never quite like this.

30 kilometres of every terrain known, tarmac, chipping’s, moss, mud, stones and grass even at one point a little stream.

I took on the WAAT4 as part of a work team challenge and it became one of the biggest challenge I have ever faced it has also become the base to

Something more, I cant wait to hit the hills again with a new chair and a better idea of what lays ahead.

So we started off on the road and then after the first check point the mountain formed in front taking on boulders the size of my chair and steep climbs. With my team pulling and pushing with all their might and me using my wheel to ramp over the boulders we managed to overcome the first major challenge of this climb, next came the uneven ground and still steep and hard work, the chair had already started to fell the strain and with a wheel buckled and bent the challenge was quickly becoming harder than anticipated.

11205540_10153579281202868_4918799741776969234_nAs team we competed a few minor repairs that was needed and cracked on to the summit, the weather had moved in and the rain and fog was  definitely against us all, due to the cold people started to struggle with cramp and lactose build up in their legs but team spirit was still very strong and no one gave up.

As we approached the base of the summit the path was almost vertical we sat on the grass and looked up at the towering mountain knowing there was no way the chair would make it with me in it and the guys where never going to be able to pull me up so we was left with 2 options carry me or I do it on my hands.

With a lot of support from the guys I was on my hand for the last 150 feet to the summit and all the way up was hard and gruelling, I knew I would make it there was no way these guys would let me give up now but my god it was not easy and it took will power.

The decent off the mountain was as hard as the climb and the wheelchair had really suffered the rocky paths never let out and the chair and the team was all suffering.

We got to the 19k check point and the right wheel was so badly damaged that it had stopped turning all together so it was decided for my safety and for the benefit of the team that it was time to call it a day.

I was the first wheelchair user to attempt this challenge and I got as far as I could on THAT day but I helped raise a lot of money and I helped raise a lot of awareness making it al worth while and the highlight was being presented with a fantastic award at the end.

NOW I AM PLANNING NEXT YEAR AND THIS TIME THE CHALLENGE WILL BE BEATEN..

Carten 100 #challeneg2015

This was my challenge for May 2015 a simple cycle ride……  Well ok not so simple it started from Cardiff city in south wales and made its 100 miles route to the popular welsh tourist town in west Wales Tenby we aimed to be completed in 10 hours and in total it took me 13hours a time I was very happy with.

It was a massive challenge for anyone able bodied or not but for me I completed it on a handcycle

10675585_10153457907922868_9175806795399974429_nI was joined by my amazing team of support riders along side me and my amazing wife as my support vehicle but basically in a nut shell I completed this using only my arms to go the distance and driven by determination and motivated by my close friends…..

Why did I choose to do this well that is the easy part i have raised a lot of money for many good causes in the past and this one was no different and the charity of choice was the Velindre Cancer Centre

This is not just any charity it is the centre where my own farther is currently being treated for terminal cancer, he was first diagnosed with Leukaemia and then shortly after lung cancer a few years ago, his treatment is not only very important but the care they give is essential to my dads needs, they offer him and my mother the support and assistance they need and they like many others would be lost without this centre to care for them in the way they do. For many people this centre is a place of hope and that can not have a price or value it is just priceless.

The centre needs and rely’s on many fund sources to keep its doors open to the 1000’s of people that visit it every day, it is no secret that they say that everyone in the world will know someone who has had cancer it is an illness that takes no considerations and the work this centre does on a day to day bases, the staff that work there giving individual care based upon individual needs young and old people like my farther is very important and life saving..

I Completed this challenge in the memory of Simon ash who lost his battle to cancer.

I Completed this challenge in the memory of Mrs Hole  who lost her battle to cancer.

I Completed this challenge in the memory of my grandmother who lost her battle to cancer.

I Completed this challenge in honour of Mr Pardoe who beat his battle against cancer.

I Completed this challenge in honour of My Mother who beat her battle against cancer.

I Completed this challenge in honour of My Farther who fighting his battle against cancer.

Gravity Riding #challenge2015

So it was a bit delayed due to me having double booked myself but my April challenge for Challenge 2015 has now been completed..

Roughriderz hosted my challenge and was amazing Phil and his team took care of me  all day as I took part in gravity riding for the first time ever and it was one of the best days the weather was good and the rain stayed away..

I can recommend this enough anyone who is remotely interested in an action packed day of down hill this is the event for you.

I turned up and got set up everything was supplied and the guys really looked after me even put my chair in my car for me locked my car and made sure my keys where safe in the van once I had got into the gravity bike..

We took to the course with some fantastic instructions and then just upped the speed each time as my confidence built.

This day out cost me £150 and when I think of what I got for it I would say I got a bargain the three guys Phil, Ed, and Tudor where brilliant from the word go and we hit the track maybe 10 or 11 times with loads of gopro footage all the uplifts was included as well as full ppe equipment and of course the bike.

For me this was a day of great company fantastic scenery and the weather was on our side Would I recommend people to try this Yes in a heart beat..

I can’t wait for my next birthday because I think I know what I want..

I want to thank the guys for all their help and making this a day to remember..

Phil for his instructions and tuition and making sure I was safe comfortable and enjoying myself

ED for getting sorted loading me in the van getting me out the van and just making sure I was good to go at all times…

Tudor for driving up and down the uplift all day so it was simply fun fun fun and very little effort on my part

All in all if I was going to rate this out of 5 it would hit a massive 10 get on this people YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT

Clay Shooting #challenge2015

Where do I start with Clay shooting…

This is an amazing sport not matter if you are able or not you don’t even need to be any good you just need to be willing to have a go, I took part for two reasons first off it was a friends birthday and what a great way to spend the day, Breakfast a bit of shooting and then off to the pub for a few pints and a meal sounds perfect no matter how you look at it. The other reason was to complete my march challenge and that was a great motivation to get out and have a go..

For me this was something I was very worried about I didn’t know how I was going to cope with the recoil or how I would handle a gun sat down, also as I have used a gun before there was a bit of pride I had to swallow as I knew I was not going to be much good and I didn’t want to embarrass myself but I decided that I was going to do it and so off I went.

We got to the shoot location and the nerves started to kick in I made light heart of it but

11083610_10153332492877868_7965709256506801747_nThey where very real I had fears of coming out of my chair and embarrassing myself or worst the recoil caused me to drop the gun but once I had the gun in my hands it all seemed to come back to me I noticed straight away that I felt more planted sat down had less to worry about not using my legs and I noticed that holding the gun was very comfortable.

As it turned out I did ok I don’t know how hard the clays where in comparison to more advance shoots but for me I held my own and was very happy with the fact that I did not take my first shot and hurt myself.

The day all in all was great and I would recommend this to anyone its a great way to spend a day and if there is a group of you it make it all the better. I was on two minds to do this as I had real concerns but I pushed myself to do it and I am glad I did I  think if it had not been for challenge 2015 and it being a friends birthday I may have been more likely shy away and that would have been a terrible mistake and now I cant wait to go again this is a great example of getting out there and seeing how you do and then shocking yourself at the fact that your fears where easily overcome..