Here is an interesting #tuesdaythoughts ! 75% of mental illnesses start before a child reaches their 18th birthday, while 50% of mental health problems in adult life (excluding dementia) take root before the age of 15.
How can we help those around us?
Learn the ALAN method to help a friend struggling with their mental health
Ask open questions, such as ‘how are you doing?’. Give the person time to open up if they need it. It’s okay to say you’re worried, or that you’re not sure how to start the conversation but you wanted to see if they’re okay. Asking is the very first step in breaking down that wall and making a connection in someone’s time of need.
Once you’ve asked a question, make sure you actually listen to the answer. Be patient and let them say what they need. Try to just listen, rather than attempting to solve any problem. Lots of people just need to vent – and even by chipping in with advice you could unintentionally cut them off or dismiss their feelings.
Create a plan of action to get them feeling better. It’s a good idea to set SMART (another acronym, handy) goals – tasks that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. So rather than a general ‘I want to feel happier’, break that goal down into more manageable chunks; say, calling and booking a doctor’s appointment by this time next week, or planning to meet up again this coming Friday. Let your friend know what support is out there and arrange a time for you to check back in.
One of the most dangerous mountain on earth! Not for any other reason but its simply unpredictability.
Today I achieved something that 5 years ago would have been impossible. I have attempted Ben Nevis 3 times the first 2 the mountain decided it was not my day to summit. 3rd time lucky and we reached the top. An incredible place to be and one of the hardest things I think I have ever accomplished. Feeling very proud.
Remember, turning back down a mountain is a sign of a wise person, returning another day to face it all again is a sign of respect for the mountain and determination for one self.
The challenge of Mount Everest base camp is going to be a real test on Jamie’s mental and physical state. Completing the full walk on Crutches the challenge will be a test of upper body endurance. Once completed Jamie will join a very short list of disabled climbers to reach Base Camp and as far as we can tell he will be the first CRPS Sufferer ever to achieve this amazing feat.
The Story as you may know
In January 2014, Jamie McAnsh was diagnosed with a functional neurological condition called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). A condition that left my neurologically paralysed from the waist down. Jamie’s journey has been life-changing. However, instead of focusing on a restricted life in a wheelchair, Jamie focused on living life outside the box.
Jamie developed a new taste for adapted adventure and committed to showing that a disability does not rule your abilities. In the first year as a wheelchair user, Jamie found a new love for sport. By March 2014, he became a signed member for the Cardiff Celts Wheelchair Basketball team. By the August of 2014, Jamie was selected for the Welsh Wheelchair Rugby 7’s team, Representing Wales in the Home Nations Cup as team Kicker.
With the ultimate aim to not only prove his own abilities but to show and inspire others, Jamie decided to set himself 12 challenges– one new challenge every month, for the year of 2015.
As part of this, Jamie completed the 100-mile-long course of the Carten100 as part of the South Wales Hand-cycle team.
Barely giving himself time to recover, 4 weeks later, Jamie became the first wheelchair user to complete the gruelling WAAT4 challenge!
Jamie’s tireless determination earned him the WAAT4 Greatest Achievement Award.
Jamie has won several other awards for his profound work within disability sport, charity fundraising, reaching a staggering £250,000. Just part of his outstanding achievements. Jamie has been described as inspirational, motivational and a role model to young and old alike. Demonstrated by his determination and willpower.
In 2016, Jamie became the countries first ‘Brave Britain Award’ winner of the “against all the odds” category.
The reality behind the dream
For Jamie Everest is a dream, Base Camp is a childhood ambition and now with your help he has the chance to achieve something that 5 years ago was thought of as impossible.
Jamie was once asked by a physio during his journey to learn how to walk. “What is your ultimate goal? Jamie replied “Base Camp Mount Everest” Facing continual pain and spasms Jamie’s journey was not easy. At 33 years old and having to learn the basics of balance and movement he put in everything he had.
For hours he would stand next to a wall and move one side step at a time. Determination was his driving force and 5 years on he has travelled along way.
Far from better
Still very much a wheelchair user. Jamie can walk with the use of Smartcrutches. Jamie knows that he can complete this challenge, but he cant do it alone. He needs your help. Kit, travel, food and expenses Jamie needs to raise £6000. This will cover the costs for himself and his partner and carer Charlott to reach Base Camp and back home safe.
As well as personal sponsorship. Jamie and Charlott are looking for company funding to help not only fund the excursion, but also raise awareness for a condition that leaves the sufferer in continual pain with very little relief. Most people have never even heard of CRPS but for Jamie it is very real and Charlott supports him every step of the way.
So please help in any way you can! Visit Jamie’s website at www.seenobounds.co.uk or find him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We appreciate your support and any assistance you can offer.
First steps of Training last night with a trek up Ysgyryd Fawr an easterly outlier of the Black Mountains in Wales, and forms the easternmost part of the Brecon Beacons National Park. The mountain is often referred to locally as just The Skirrid. With a hight of only 486m it is only about 5000 meters lower that base camp Mount Everest.
The Squash Pod is the fantastic idea of Bevan Duff & Jamie McAnsh. Both Jamie & Bevan relished the chance to have some fun whilst also having a serious message about supporting and growing squash and racquetball at grassroots level. This is where The Squash Pod came in.
So who are these cheeky presenters? Well both are from South Africa and have now made Wales their home.
Jamie McAnsh is a real inspiration. On 7/1/14 Jamie woke up without the use of his legs. He was diagnosed with a rare and incurable illness called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) CRPS UK. This is a rare condition that leaves the sufferer in constant pain due to the brain sending the wrong messages. Jamie shares his story through Jamie Seenobounds as well as promote a #getbackup attitude with The Squash Pod.
Jamie McAnsh’s bravery and attitude lead him to being recognised with the “against all odds” award at the Charles Holland awards which was presented to him by Falklands Hero Simon Weston OBE. Jamie McAnsh has a fantastic outlook on life. He hopes to inspire others and to help grow squash and racquetball through The Squash Pod. Jamie is a keen player himself and competes against able bodied players in tournaments recently Welsh Masters supported by Squash Wales – Sboncen Cymruand also very recently in Squashland Ljubljana during the Slovenian masters, playing with the use of calipers.
Bevan Duff is a level 2 Squash Coach and loves the game. Bevan has been a club player for a number of years and fell in love with the game at an early age.
Like most squash players Bevan loves nothing more than introducing people to the game.
Bevan Duff & Jamie McAnsh would love nothing more than to help grow the sport and to have a “right good laugh” along the way! We hope that the squash community, Workd Squash Federation and other groups such as SquashSkills will help us to raise awareness of this great sport, so that we can help the game to flourish and to bring new blood into the game.
What do you see when you look at this picture? A man with a Smartcrutch perhaps!
Okay you would be right this is a man with a crutch and yes he is stood by a waterfall! And yes it is also me!
However, believe it or not I am stood less that 100 meters away from a busy town, main road and even a school.
With in meters of going off the beaten track I found peace and quiet. A little bit of harmony.
I could not hear the busy world on the other side of The wooded area I was in. I could not hear people or cars. All I had was birds and of course the water rushing behind me. For me this is my harmony but for others this can be found in different ways.
You see you don’t need to travel to the end of the earth to give yourself space you just need to travel a few 100 meters and you can have all the space you need.
Give yourself room to breath and think and you will create a healthier space in your mind to think and gain balance. With balance you gain your own harmony.
Don’t forget to live!
Today, I will not stress over things I can’t control. I will however live for the things that are in my reach.
Recently I enjoyed a fantastic and need I say inspiring day.
“I am a roll model for young people” I am their Tunnel of focus. Apart of the Big Ideas Wales Project
That was the outcomes of the recent course! That offers me a few fears. Am I the right person for the job?
My Business is based on me telling my story! My life journey! A path of ups and downs. I ask myself time after time am I doing the right thing with Seenobounds?
Can I make this work?
Then I realise that somehow I am making it work! I am doing it! And then the fear of success strikes me.
What if I actually get it right?
Truth is who knows. The picture in this post was taken after I had got out of the class room and going for a walk. I came across this bridge and I connected it to my day…
Its a tunnel with one way in and one way out, a path if you like that we have to follow. Guided only by the walls on either side. In the tunnel is a gate! Sometimes that gate will be open and other times closed.
For me this image represented a focus, with a light at the end of the tunnel! The gate symbolised an object or obstacle that could prevent me from getting from A to B…
This is basically my random example of focus and taking guidance. But also a symbolic statement of achievement because not only did I walk through the tunnel from one side to the other and the gate did not on this occasion cause me any issues,
I also remembered that the tunnel itself was an example of if you can’t go around and obstruction in your life maybe the best way to go is directly through the middle.
“Van life” One thing that there is to love about the UK is that no matter what the situation, if you look hard enough you will always find a lovely little place to just park up and relax.
Like many people both now and in history , The idea of travelling and the concept of learning! has always come with excitement and adventure. Jamie is no different and with his love culture and different traditions travel was soon on the cards.
How people live and interact with the world around them. People fascinate me but at the same time terrify me.
I have seen what one human can do to another in the most horrific of cases. I spent a few years in the Army and seen more than I wanted to.
Yet I have seen acts of kindness that are more impressive than anything I have ever experienced and it’s those qualities that fascinate me the most.
Jamie dreamed of camper life and soon that reality was born from a time in his life that was in his words absolutely unbearable like anything Jamie faced it head on.
When my ex wife and I split and went our separate ways I felt that somewhere along the way I had lost myself. Lost who I was.
We all change for our partners in small ways here and there and suddenly over the years you realise you are a completely different person. Sometime you need to take stock, look at yourself and see where you go from there.
The idea of a van was for Jamie to go and find himself. Reading books of adventure and tales of those who are doing just that excited him beyond belief. Meeting new people along the way, learning new things and experience different ways of life is more exciting to Jamie than anything and it was a goal he was determined to achieve.
Meet Jamie McAnsh! The man behind See No Bounds. You have read all about him. You may have seen some of the crazy adventures he has completed. Now you get to hear his story, his thoughts and his feelings in his very own words.
It is true that in life we are surround by so many different people, so many different warps of Life. We are also surrounded by so very extraordinary stories.
Every one has a story to tell something to share or a voice. We are all scared with a past or faced with the tests of time.
This show is about giving people a voice, opening the platform of expressions. And showing that we have a purpose and maybe that purpose is handing down the lantern of knowledge and experience to others.
I have met a lot of people over the years, Some have been motivational and inspirational, others have just worked hard to get where they are. recently I met an amazing women called Esther.
Esther is motivational with out a doubt. Her story is inspirational to anyone who has had to fight addiction. And it is safe to say she has had to work very hard to get where she is now. So with out wasting any more time here is her story.
As a motivational speaker based in South Wales myself, I need to build a network. A simple concept of and business person. People buy from people. But who are the people you are actually meeting? Well when I met Dave this was not the story I had expected.
Diagnosed with Heart disease Dave was not going to be held back. Going from not being able to walk up a set of stairs to walking Peru Dave’s story is rather remarkable.
Jamie Gane and I met around a year ago through a mutual friend and since then I have followed him as he progressed further on in his journey.
I find his story incredible. When i first thought about the “Guest Spot” project i knew i needed to get Jamie involved. He has shown me so much about adaption and over coming. Adding this to my already adaptive way of thinking has made me very much a “go getter”
I recently got together with Jamie who agreed to have a chat with me and tell abit more about his condition and his Journey!
Jamie, your a lower limb amputatee that never seems to get held back. And its fair to say you dont let it slow down either.
For so many this is a massive inspiration, if you dont mind telling us, What actually happened?
I developed a condition at the age of 9 which initially affected both feet. After multiple operations, the pain condition became worse and developed into a condition called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS).
Due to this condition, I was unable to use my right foot at all – I wasn’t able to place any pressure on my foot or wear shoes or socks.
If I was to go out in the rain or wind, I would need to quickly get back inside as it was too much for my foot. This ultimately lead me to becoming a full-time wheelchair user.
And how old was you when your life changed?
At about the age of 16, a doctor spoke briefly about amputation as a passing comment. Despite his swift talk, I was adamant to investigate the potential of amputation.
As a young person, I had already undergone 25+ surgeries and was ready to remove the pain. Despite this, it took me 6 years to find a surgeon that was willing to amputate my foot.
Eventually it was done in 2016 and in June 2017, I received my first prosthetic leg and started walking for the first time in 14 years.
For many people reading this, having your leg amputated would seem a negative life changing event. But in some cases taking the plunge to have a limb amputated could infact be a positive move forward! would you agree with this?
Absolutely! Amputation, for me, gave me the chance to be free, a chance to live without pain.
Even waking up post-surgery, I immediately felt so much better and my concentration levels started to increase.
I found myself coming off of medication and life started to have a purpose.
Tell us a bit about your initial build up to having surgery, I mean it must have been a terrifying time for you but at the same time there must have been an element of excitement?
All the way up to the day of surgery, I was very excited about the procedure (as excited as anyone can be about an operation anyway).
I was nervous that it would not remove the pain however I was ready to start the next journey of my life.
So Jamie I want to take you back to those first moments! you have had surgery and you have now woken up with a below-knee amputation!how did you first feel about your new situation?
I started to feel completely different even in the first few days – my pain was gone and I started to think about how I was going to live my life.
I had fought so hard to have my amputation that I didn’t realise how much energy I used thinking about the operation itself.
Once it was gone, I had a new space in my head to start thinking about new possibilities.
I see that you are an international competitor in judo. And I believe you have managed to bag a few silver medals aswell. Well done! what got you into judo in the first place?
Started Judo at quite a young age however when my disability started to escalate, I had to stop.
I think with any sport, if you have the passion there, you will return. Once I had my amputation and that had healed, I was ready to go again and start Judo.
Now I currently play Squash, like you in my chosen sport I am the only squash player in the world with a lower limb disability of my kind.
My goal when I first started was to compete against able bodied players. since then I have played in local competitions.
Moved on and started playing in club leagues and in April I will be playing in the European masters. do you think you would ever be in a position where you could compete in an able bodied category?
Don’t worry, you aren’t the only squash player in the world with a lower limb disability – I know plenty of lower limb amputees who play.
Thats awesome maybe we need to get together and arrange our own League.
All of my international competitions are against those without any physical disabilities.
I am not allowed to compete in Judo with a prosthetic leg so I simply have to hop around the mat and try to trip people up.
Would love to get into more disability-focused sports such as sprinting.
I would love to see Judo to be made into a Paralympic sport. It currently has a visually-impaired classification however I would love to see this expanded into Physical disabilities.
I think it is so important to be able to inspire others with disabilities and open their eyes into what is achievable.
Certainly think there is a need for it.
Lets move on to Tough Mudder! you are an Ambassador for the competition, and a little birdie told me that you have infact completed more courses than any other adaptive athlete! Am I right?
Um….sort of… That is certainly true in the UK. Worldwide, there is another amputee who has completed over 100 Tough Mudder courses however I have completed more courses than him as an adaptive athlete (he was able-bodied before his amputation).
How many courses have you completed?
52 to this date. I have 3 more to complete by the end of this year.
How did you get into tough mudder?
Initially, I completed my first Tough Mudder with a friend of mine while I was a wheelchair user.
I loved the atmosphere, the teamwork and the challenge and I was certainly keen to come back for more.
How does your amputation effect you in this gruelling sport?
You’re dealing with very uneven terrain, which is very difficult to run on often for an able-bodied runner.
Without an ankle to support me, it places a lot of pressure on my knee and hip so completing multiple courses can be very difficult and recovering between runs is very essential.
I’m always having to make alterations to my prosthetic and having to wait for different sockets or liners to be made for me to continue.
My prosthetic certainly takes a bashing so it’s important for me to have a great team behind me to support my sport.
Jamie you are clearly very active! do you think this helped you in your journey from amputation to now?
I think it has – it’s given me something to strive for and a reason to continue
Lets talk abit about 2020! Tokyo! is this still your long standing dream?
Actually not so much anymore.
Unfortunately, I had lots of issues with my recovery when I had my amputation.
The initial planned amputation was cancelled just 10 minutes before the procedure and subsequently my recovery was put back about a year, meaning that 2020 was/is just not simply achievable.
Having said that, I think that it’s now far more important for me to enjoy my sport and at the moment, I couldn’t wish for anything more.
Thats a massive shame! what sport was you looking to compete in?
I was looking to compete in discus, javelin and shotput.
Well never say never! i think we will be seeing you in the Olympics one day for sure!
how is funding coming along?
Just this year, I very kindly recieved the support of a sponsor, Essity, who have been fantastic at helping me achieve my goals.
That awesome! If people want to support and get involved how can they do this?
I first came across SmartCrutch Ukat Naidex the mobility show in Birmingham in 2017. Instantly, I was impressed by the look, design and all round durability of the product. This was also the first time I had met Jason and asked if I could try them out. Really fancied putting them through their paces.
When I asked Jason if they had ever been tested off road, and when I say that I mean mountains, the answer was no. He advised me that he had not found anyone stupid enough to take them off road. His exact words. I simply smiled and said I was that Man.
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. People now don’t want to simply sit around and feel sorry for themselves. Also, People want their crutches to be apart of the outfit. They now consider the look, the style and can they do everything they want from them.
I have a set from early days that are adjustable, standard NHS issue and they do the job. Except the fact that you clink every time you take a step, They start to put massive pressures on your wrists and after long term use you start to suffer tendinitis. I was later issued with a solid every day set. Made to measure! These where great, no more clicking as the two sections moved on impact, however, they still came with the normal issues that you get for prolonged use. Pressure pains in your wrists mainly and sore hands. Unfortunately I don’t ever see SmartCrutch NHS becoming a thing.
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.
Hand grips are 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. Standard 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. An elbow support that 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. With the benefit of the elbow being a much bigger and stronger muscle group it can take the extra work load a lot easier.
The hand grip is a soft comfortable rubber that has plenty of give, with the purpose mainly to guide the crutch the wrist pressure is reduced to almost zero. Add with an elbow section that adjusts to fit perfectly this creates a comfortable platform.
Even though they are fully adjustable you don’t get the clinking noise. They are a good fit and well-built. The adjustment needs to be there to make these crutches most effective. As you move the elbow joint from position 4 up you need to move the crutch up one level to take up the gap. This then stops the awkward shoulder movement. Improves posture and supports the user fully. I also used this when going up a mountain I lower the leg and coming down I raise the leg. Really helps me for terrain differences.
To me the extra safety 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. Straight away I felt 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. You need to understand at this point that if you are going from standard crutches you are using a set of muscles. When you come over onto SmartCrutches you are now using a slightly different set of muscles. These need to develop and will take a few days over each setting on the elbow joint. You will not go directly to 90 degrees and find it works. Take your time and get used to them. In a few days you can adjust and this will improve your usability and enjoyment of the product. That is my honest advise.
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 so I not only look cool I look like I am prepared to take on the game , comfort is amazing and overall usability is awesome. This was a winner!
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. 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. At this point I had not yet used them on ice but I fear the result would not be ideal but only because of the feet not being completely up to the job.
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 all terrain crutches 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.
Stepping into the future.
So this review was first written by me back in 2017, After my review was first published SmartCrutch came back to me with a response to the off road foot. Meet the addition of the FlexyFoot!These feet are literally the best feet on the market, attach them to the SmartCrutch and you are left with the very best product attached to the very best product. Trust me that is no exaggeration.
So how did they do under pressure? In reply to that question! They done fantastic. I decided to take them to another extreme environment and climbed Snowdon. With 6 foot of snow drifts and an inch of ice (See image above) I can honestly say the Smartcrutch and FlexyFeet relationship worked perfectly. I had to put ice over boots on over my walking boots to stop slipping but my crutches stayed almost solid.
Great addition and the results are simply awesome! over the past three years I have not given these Crutches much rest, I have taken them in the sea, up Ben Nevis, Pen Y Fan, Sugar Loaf and back up Snowdon. My relationship with my crutches have become stronger and stronger. I now walk again, confidently and comfortably on my crutches. I have had a new lease of life and am always looking at new thing to do. In May 2020 myself and my SmartCrutches Fitted with FlexyFoot will be embarking on the challenge of a lifetime! We will be heading 17,500 feet up to Everest Base Camp.
Do I have any final word? Of course I do! 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 taking this product on my adventures and keep pushing their limits. I am also very excited about the future of this product and the developments that they keep on making.
Becoming an ambassador.
In the beginning of 2019 I was proud to be asked by SmartCrutch to become an ambassador of the product. I get asked my advice about improvement ideas and even had the oppertunity to support SmartCrutch UK at the Naidax show in Birmingham where the story first started.
I spoke to Jason about the future of the product and how we can look at new ideas, such as attachments like possibly a torch and reflectors. Who knows the opportunities are endless. Since then I have now become a stockiest of the product and love the fact that I get to share my passion for the SmartCrutch with others and pass on the journey I have had.
If you would like to purchase these amazing crutches but would like to know more, please get in touch or you can simply go to the shop and purchase a pair today.
Famous for it Roman baths. Magnificent to say the least but understated for it architecture and history. Bath really is a very special place.
I really fancied a little trip to this fantastic historic town but it has been a while and I find that whenever I seem to go back to a place I always find something new. maybe its because I am getting older and all of a sudden my tastes are changing. Who knows?
We visited Bath Abbey and what a place. the pictures just don’t do it credit. Sitting in the pews and looking up at the magnificent stain glass window was just blinding. The shear skill and art that had clearly gone into the making of this monument is just breath taking. Trust me if you are in Bat you need to go and see it and appreciate it magnificence.
The building itself although shadowed by its master window, is something quite amazing as well. The work and stone masonry that has stood the test of time is a tribute to the the old ways.
a bit of history
Bath Abbey, former Benededictine monastery is part of the Anglican church. First founded in the 7th century it was recognised as Bath Abbey in the 10 century and still know as that today.
It unbelievably seats 1200 people and is still very much used today for ceremonies, concerts and lectures. Its congregation numbers are in the hundreds, and annual visitors to this amazing place reachers numbers in the hundreds of thousands.
The choir also performs in the abbey and if you are lucky enough to witness this, i hear it it is something quiet amazing.
Everywhere you look you are surrounded by a mix of modern day life and historic buildings. With the street performers entertaining the crowds.
The masses of history wherever you look. There is literally so much to see that neither your brain or concentration can absorb it all in one go.
We stopped for coffee and cake down by the river and for a few hours i could have not imagined being in a more fantastic place.
So the weather is a little drizzling and yet you still need some fresh air. What a better place to go than the quaint and beautiful town of Cheddar.
It been years since I have been and I can honestly say I had forgotten just how beautiful this little town actually is.
The shops are all very unique and quaint. Little craft shops and art shops. The cafe’s here are also very different.
We stopped for a Bite to eat right on the stream. The views were fantastic and the staff where just so friendly. Every window had its own little picture of beauty.
The whole town is very quiet and peaceful, the passing crowds where mainly walkers who had been out and about exploring. All with their walking boot on and back packs. Made me a little jealous that I had not been up in the hills exploring myself. Maybe next time!
I think when I get my little van this may have to be a spot I stop at for a few days and take in the surroundings. Go for a walk or should I say a Jamie style walk.
A bit of history
The Cheddar Yeo is the stream that runs through the town and the water is crystal clear. In fact it makes up some of the feed for the local water supply. Honestly I can see why, cleaned through the rocks and reeds the water is simply amazing.
I was very surprised to find out that it in fact the stream comes down from the Mendip Hills. Part of one of Britain’s biggest underwater river systems fed by the water through the limestone rocks.
The village itself has a long history and was once a very important centre to both the Romans and the Saxons. If you look closely you can still see the signs of long ago pasts.
It’s also no surprise that it is a village famous for its cheese but believe it or not the cheese is still made and still matured in the caves around the area.
Cheddar offers a great deal for all ages from the gorge, the hills and right through to the history tour. Something else I will need to do next time.
Literally loved it here, a few hours of peace and tranquillity. And still loads more for me to do on my return. a nice little adventure to add to my blog
It’s strange really when I sit down and think of it. Usk is the town of bloom known to many. It’s won awards for it splendid flower parades. There appears to be a community spirit around the place with the recent “great Usk Bike Off” and everyone is getting involved. But all this is amazing in itself but nothing amazes me more than the fact I have never actually visited this quaint little town before.
I have driven through it loads of times and in fact it is a matter of 20 minutes from my house. Yet, I have never been here and enjoyed all that it has to offer.
It has some very quaint shops.
I went into one shop and it was jammed from floor to ceiling with basic brick ‘N’ brak. It amazed me how he sold anything. Clearly does alright with what he is doing though or he would have closed along time ago. The walk ways where so narrow I could hardly walk up and down.
I did however enjoy the whole concept of the place.
Living up to its name
Usk is very cute and lives up to it’s name of the town in bloom. Everywhere you look there are flowers.
Every garden is beautiful and full of colours. Even the fish and chip shop looks like it should be on the cover of chocolate box.
I visited the museum. What a treat! What a jewel in the crown for USK. In this picturesque town is a cave of history and heritage. The museum is run completely by volunteers.
Housed in an ancient malt barn the Museum has 5000+ exhibits. I was informed that these items had been collected by local enthusiasts over the past 50 years. A true monument to the work of country people in the Welsh Borders. Some of the museum peaces date back to Victorian times. Displays range from the smallest hand-tools and household items through to large agricultural machinery and vintage tractors.
I read on a plaque that the museum portrays rural life in Monmouthshire covering a period of approximately 100 years. As a registered charity and run entirely by volunteers with an addition the museum contains the Usk Visitor Centre with local information and guides together with advice and guidance about the area.
If you do go then this is a must stop location even if it is just to wonder around its history.
Loads to see and do
With a short walk to the castle there is a fair amount to do and see here. I cant believe it’s taken me this long to actually visit this lovely place.
Sadly the castle was closed but I did enjoy a pack of fish and chips in the grounds. Basking under the sun and chilling in my own world of peace and harmony. Definitely need to go back for a second trip and this time hopefully the castle will be open to.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!