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Archive for the ‘At home’ Category

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Postcode is the newest place to relax and enjoy a great cup of coffee and a selection of food and drink.  This place is very special to us because we spent a lot of time helping to build it.  A few dedicated volunteers built all the furniture and interiors and it has so much charm; much of which comes from the reuse of old items into something new.  Upcycling is definitely the name of the game here because most of the furniture is built from used scaffold planks and pallets.  The soft furnishing is donated jeans and shirts stitched together to create a very unique fabric for the benches.

14292249_1758172687788656_600210141669311963_nThe lovely old piano bar is now on its 3rd life….firstly as a piano, secondly as a keyboard stand/shelf for our band and thirdly, and currently, as a lovely spot to sit with a friend and enjoy the atmosphere.

The barrel table is one of my favourites because it was created using an old beer barrel out of our cellar….one of three left behind when we purchased the old pub to turn into our home.  Another two-seater table is an old pub table given a new lease of life with a chunky board tabletop.  The seats are from the pub too, but they are now much tidier with upcycled jeans as seat pads.

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Everywhere you look is something of interest, from the huge barn doors to the flying delivery bike.  This is truly a unique space created with love and care to serve our community.

14469608_1760643197541605_106759444351313445_nOne of the nicest things for me personally is that it is big, wide and open.  You can stretch your ‘legs’, roll around without bumping into things and get to the food service area and till with more than ample space to spare.  Parking is really good and access via the ramp into the large doors makes this a definite favourite.  Toilets are clean and tidy with wide passageways to gain easy access.

My favourite part of my trip today was meeting a lovely family.  Mom, Gran and daughter (in a wheelchair) came across to talk to me about my Trekinetic K-2 wheelchair.  I was more than happy to give them a demonstration and show them all the benefits of owning a K-2.  After a lovely chat I pointed them in the direction of Trekinetic and Mike Spindle and suggested they place an order as quickly as possible because the freedom, confidence and multitude of other benefits are priceless.  I hope that I meet them again soon over a cup of coffee.

#postcodecoffeehouse @postcodecoffeehouse @tcclife

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We used to own a rather large motorhome, When we moved to our new home, it was the one thing that had to be sacrificed due to the enormous ongoing costs, but it is something that I have missed so much over the last four years.

I love to be out and about touring, but with my aching bones this is easier said than done and tenting has not proven to be an option with cold floors, hard surfaces, getting to the ground and back up, and rain…..nightmarish!  Something else had to done.

Being a constant thinker, it struck me a few months ago that when we had bought our Mercedes van for my wheelchair, I had mentioned to hubby that one day we should convert it into a camper van – after all we already owned it and the outlay could be minimal if we did the work ourselves.  Life happened and it wasn’t until more than a year later (and summer arriving) that I remembered my idea and began to seriously consider that this was the best and cheapest way for us to go camping but without completely roughing it.  Hubby was oddly reluctant at first, but with lots of planning on SketchUp he slowly warmed to the idea,

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Our aim was to not make any permanent changes to the van, but rather to create units that would fit into the van when we wanted to go camping and be easily removed on our return.  This is what I came up with….

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Not the best drawing, but it gave us the dimensions and a good idea of how it would all fit together.  The design was based on small wooden boxes – just like those we made for our wine racks in the cellar (but without the Illy tins for the bottles!); if you want to see these you can find a blog post about it here)

Each wooden box was sized so that it would fit an inner box or crate from Ikea – the DRÖNA, or similar.  These would form the base of the bed and hold all the camping gear.  In addition I wanted a free-standing kitchen which could stay inside the van or be removed and stored in the tent during longer camping trips.  The HINDÖ outdoor cabinet was just what I wanted and fit into the space behind the passenger seat, and would hold all of the kitchen paraphernalia.

Then came the bed.  It needed to be long enough for my 6’2″ hubby to lie full length and be comfortable for me to sit or lie down when I needed to rest.  Moving the boxes around allowed us to reconfigure the layout and insert a slatted mattress base which we already had at home.  Top this off with two mattresses which we had for guests (sorry guests, we will replace them), and you have a bed….one side 200cm long and my side 160cm long – each just the right length for hubby and I.

Lastly, curtains and cushions for the interior would be custom-made by myself; so hubby and I measured up the windows and made templates to get the shapes right.

The wheelchair would be transported on our newly purchased Base-Rak from Bak-Rak so that it didn’t take up any space inside the van.. a bit nerve-racking having my chair on the back of the van rather than on the inside, but I am sure I will be happier when we have done it once or twice!

All that was left to do was buy the supplies….

2 sheets of 18mm plywood, the inner boxes and the kitchen cupboard.  I already had the material for the curtains and the upholstery for the cushions.

We had a plan and now we needed to get stuck in because we only had 2 weeks until our planned test trip.

In the next episode we will show you what we built and hopefully a few holiday pictures….if it all goes well!

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I found this rather interesting and thought provoking talk on TED.com.

People often ask me why I am in a wheelchair….the brave ones that is.  Having to describe how my chronic pain from Small Fibre Neuropathy affects me can be difficult because I spend a LOT of time trying to NOT think about it – because thinking about it magnifies the pain, so I practice relaxation and positive thinking techniques and keeping VERY busy – nothing else works!

Here Doctor Elliot Krane, a Pediatric anesthesiologist, gives some small insight into the problems I face.  I don’t publish this for sympathy, but rather for education; after all, who has ever heard of my condition and who of you is actually brave enough to ask the difficult questions?

Watch him here….http://www.ted.com/talks/elliot_krane_the_mystery_of_chronic_pain

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Not much wheeling has been going on around here of late but that is hopefully all about to change.

February 1st was my goal to start pushing myself around in my wheelchair again.  I’m not talking about long trips to the store or bundu bashing through the countryside; but rather small trips up and down the passage or kitchen at home – just to get things moving – grease the wheels so to speak!

The physiotherapy exercises have been really good and I am starting to get some use of the arm back.  I dread the thought of being dependant on a motorised wheelchair for too long – after all, the longer that goes on the more comfortable I’ll get with it – NOT a good thing.

On the other hand, while I continue to exercise, I have eventually managed to get driving again – YIPPEE!!  Being able to get into the car and drive somewhere by myself is such a luxury and strangely joyous 🙂

My trusty steed…..

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…a Mercedes Vito 111 cdi – perhaps not the most glamorous means of transportaion, but I absolutely LOVE this car/van.  It has 8 seats and can fit my wheelchair into the back using the ramp.  The blacked out windows are a source of amusement for the younger generation who tell me it is my drugmobile or a WIP – whatever that is?????

Nevertheless, it is perfect for me and yesterday was a real treat because I went to town on my own for the first time in months and months.  It may not sound very glamorous to most people, but if you have ever been without for a while you may understand.

Being able to drive is one thing, but getting out of the vehicle is another – and not one I can do on my own; just yet.  So the only places I can go are where someone is with me, or waiting for me, or …… drive thru’s – yes, takeaways are the ONLY place in England that have drive thru’s, therefore my first port of call was a coffee, ordered through the car window, driven to a quiet spot and drunk in perfect contentment in my vehicle – by myself! 🙂

Small things!

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I assume you know that saying, but if you don’t, it expresses a view that whatever it is that is wanted would be worth giving an arm and a leg for.  Now I know it is one of those nonsensical sayings that is simply trying to convey just how much something is worth, but I can only imagine the phrase was coined by someone with two perfectly functioning arms and legs! 🙂

In my case the two legs are present and accounted for but don’t work properly; and until last week the arms were reasonably good too – that is until my shoulder surgery last week and suddenly I didn’t have the use of one of the arms at all!  This got me thinking, as I do about strange stuff sometimes, if I was in some sort of deadly situation and I was asked (imagine big guy dressed in black, with eye patch)  “Do you want to lose the arm or the leg?”, how would I respond?  Having now got limited use of my arm back again I would have to reply “The leg”! It may seem drastic but seriously when you think about it what do the two sets of limbs actually do for you?

The legs get you from point A to B, either at a walking pace or a running pace and sometimes with a bit of exercise or dancing in between.  Your arms on the other hand seem to do everything else….take me trying to roll over in bed, or sit up in bed, or brush my hair (which is long and requires two hands to put in a ponytail, and you should see how terrible I have looked all week!), grasp and open a bottle (which rather amusingly I did land up opening with my feet at one point so you see how difficult this argument can become), take a pill out of those dreadful ‘childproof’ foils, push a wheelchair with one arm (you tend to go round in circles a bit!)….the list is endless, but I think you begin to see my dilemma.

I must say, the one thing this has highlighted for me is that I really do need to stick with the physiotherapy exercises and get this shoulder back to normal – sooner, rather than later!

So this week I am truly grateful…..for both my legs and my arms….and I ain’t never giving them up to the baddy!!!

 

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There have been very few wheelchair adventures recently because of my shoulder injury…and adventures to me are when I participate in the propelling rather than being pushed around (which I am never happy about)!
Monday, and my surgery date arrived…mixed feelings of relief to have it over with and nervousness about being even more incapacitated.
Tuesday, and back home in my own bed, drugged up to the eyeballs and the nerve blocker still keeping me reasonably comfortable. Not wasting any time, I begin the exercises given me by the physiotherapist. You do need to have a fair bit of determination to start doing exercises this soon after surgery but I know how important it is for my recovery and I’m determined to do this right.
Wednesday, and the nerve block has worn off and I have removed the sling. Now you need even more determination to do those exercises, but the regular drug regime is helping.
Thursday, and the Physio exercises are coming along nicely. Drugs make me feel weird and my brain is rather fuzzy but I’m determined to do a bit more and I’ve just discovered crochet may be a good next exercise. Being right-handed helps as I can hold my work in my left hand and work away very nicely with my uninjured arm …. so that’s my therapy for today…. make some more dishcloths….

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….keep up the exercises, rest and repeat!

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Being on the slightly smaller side, 155cm or 5ft1 to be closer to the truth, getting onto our huge four poster bed with its very high base has always been a stretch (excuse the double entendre!).  I had the bed designed and built-in my fitter day when this posed no challenges at all but since being in a wheelchair it has made getting into bed less than ideal but manageable.  However, this all changed when our new mattress arrived this week.  It was about time we invested in a new one because the old one was purchased back in 1994!! Perhaps a little past its prime, but what a mattress that was – cost a lot at the time, but being very firm foam and on a solid base, made it the most comfortable bed for years…until only a few months ago in fact.  The majority of the wear can be squarely placed at the door of my need to be in bed for days at a time and any lesser mattress would have shouted time-out a long, long time ago!

Getting back to the issue with the new mattress…it seems that since buying our old faithful back in the 1990s, mattresses have increased in height too and when placed onto our already statuesque bed it immediately became apparent that I could definitely NOT scale those heights!  Mmmm, just a little problematic because getting in needs a pull from hubby and getting out is no more elegant and I either drop off the side or have to roll over and slither off on my belly – not a pretty sight.  Rescue came today in the form of our son who built me a little wooden box which has made it so easy ….. why didn’t I ask for a box years ago?????

I imagine the grandchildren will also enjoy being able to step up and join me for our cuddles 🙂  One happy lady, right here!

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It occurred to me whilst chatting to someone recently that the price of disabled products seem unfairly high considering their necessity to some people.  Take for example a simple vinyl sign for my car window to politely request people leave sufficient space for my wheelchair ramp – £7; or a roof box a friend recently purchased for his wheelchair (which is constantly breaking down) – £5000!; or a wheelchair ramp which comprises a bit of aluminium, steel safety rope and a small motor – £3000; and the motorised indoor office chair which allows me access to cupboards and printers – £6.500!

This was the dilemma we faced when deciding whether to buy my Trekinetic K2 a few years ago.  On paper the price was high – not for this particular chair because most chairs with similar features will cost this or more – but when we sat and considered the freedom this remarkable wheelchair would provide…. ‘legs’ to get to places other wheelchairs can’t, then the price becomes far less significant.  Mind you, I only really realised how much it was worth once I had experienced the seaside, the river, the mountain, the lake and all sorts of other adventures for the first time in five years.

So despite the fact that mobility products are probably over priced, it depends on how much you value your freedom to explore.  I could stay in a cheap, ugly, old-fashioned wheelchair which works fine in the mall or any other smooth surfaced area, but these will definitely NOT offer me the adventures I have enjoyed over the years.

And then you get some amazing people out there who work tirelessly to make this sort of freedom possible for someone who does not have the financial means….

Take for example this amazing tweet that landed up on my desktop thanks to Bear Grylls and the Scout movement….

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Thanks to their amazing work this little boy will get to be part of a team and not be left out – priceless I’d say!

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This may not appear like such a big deal to most people, but today we picked the very first fruit, and ate it, from our little espalier orchard!
It is such an amazing feeling to taste fruit off trees that arrived as little single stems with bare roots. By reading and researching, we managed to find out enough to start the espalier process and now to see that our inexperience hasn’t killed all the lovely trees that we bought with my 50th birthday fund is priceless.

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Not big and numerous, but special nevertheless!

If after one year we get just a tiny crop, I am hopeful for much bigger and better in the years ahead.

So even if you are in a wheelchair, only have a tiny garden, you love fruit and trees, then I can highly recommend trying some espaliered trees. They may take a bit of work with training and pruning but it feels like such an achievement when you taste that first plum!

Thank you Victoria Plum 😊

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I am so excited because my first espaliered fruit tree is eventually in the ground after two years. It has been such hard work, with plenty more to come but the sight of this one and the other three we managed to plant on the weekend is hopefully enough to continue motivating us to complete the project!

Our evenings are so busy but we will try fit in some more planting if the weather behaves 😁. Once the trees are in the difficult job of laying a pathway around the garden so I can get around to tend my trees will begin – that is a LOT of garden path but without it I would need a garden 4X4 wheelchair; especially with all the rain we get!

Amazing how happy these trees make me 😄😄😄

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I have just spent a very happy three day bank holiday weekend like this….

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Who knew that I would find a new skill as a digger operator! What a sight it must have been seeing a woman get out if a digger and transfer to a wheelchair; now that would have been worth a picture!
The building site that is our ‘garden’ needed some extensive work in order to allow me access in my wheelchair and although the house needs our full-time attention we decided that me getting into the garden this summer was a priority because I need to care for the 15 espalier fruit trees I was given for my fiftieth birthday the year before last.
The trees have so far survived in pots but it was time to get them into the ground but before this could happen we had to clear the ground of old foundations, building rubble and the wild garden that had taken root over three years.
I loved the wild garden but it had to be sacrificed if we had any chance of flattening the ground to accommodate the paths hubby is going to build around the perimeter of the garden to allow me a clear route to tend the trees.
All this heavy work required the services of some heavy machinery – hence the digger. It made sense for me to be the operator as it is all hand controls and with a little help I moved from my wheelchair into the cab and stayed there most of the day. I had THE MOST FUN in years – I could actually do something really useful and helpful for the first time in a long time and it was an incredible feeling!!!
By the end of the three days we had a mountain of reusable stone that used to form part of the demolished kitchen block from the pub days, a nice flatish ground for seeding with grass and wild flowers and fifteen holes for my trees to be planted into.

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This weekend we will install the post and wires and the trees can then be attached into their new permanent home – extremely exciting time.

Come on summer!

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…it’s so French! Can anyone tell me why these are called French Doors? Well, whatever the answer it took a big leap for me to add any doors, French or otherwise, into our large open plan living space. The thing that clinched it was the amount of heat that leached out of the Assembly room (our lounge) even when the wood burning stove was belting out heat at 10kw. That equates to a LOT of wood every evening it was lit and it seemed the right thing to do. I was fortunate to find two sets of matching interior Georgian-style French doors and a single door online; that was £80 for 5 doors which is a bargain in door terms.

The first set have now been installed in the large opening to the kitchen. The two smaller arches have been framed, boarded and plastered and the other large opening was the first to be closed in about two years ago to allow the range cooker to be installed against it in the kitchen. This has made the Assembly room the first room in the downstairs to be enclosed for well over 100 years. The doors are big enough to open wide and allow easy wheelchair access and so far I have only driven into the door once – on day one!

It has certainly changed the look AND feel of the house and on a very positive note it is wonderfully cosy and warm even if the fire is not lit; a really big improvement helped by the restoration of the five sash windows – no more drafts!

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Look what we are having for dinner tonight …..

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Gem squash with a lovely blob of butter – and to top it all off a proper SA mielie (maize) on the cob and a nice big piece of steak!

We are making sure our last meal before our flight tomorrow really counts.

Ahhh! Good food, good friends, amazingly good God!

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Frustration is…..
Injuring your arm and being told not to use it – and you self propel your wheelchair! Very annoyed and frustrated at home!
Now all I need is that beautiful new motorised K2 from TrekineticTrekinetic – anyone have a few thousand pounds spare that don’t need?

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Wow, I am snowed in – really!  Who ever thought that it would snow enough to force me to stay indoors just before Christmas.  On the plus side, it has given me time to update my blog; I eventually finished off the holiday posts. 

I should have been at work and had to phone in and request a ‘snow’ day because I got out of the house with hubby’s help and a few miles down the road realised that in this blizzard, I probably would not make it home again.  I turned around and headed back home which is when the problems started! 

I tried getting up the driveway forwards – no joy.  I tried getting up the driveway backwards – still no joy.  Now I could have abandoned the car half way into the road but decided that wasn’t a good idea with it being dustbin collection day – I’ve seen how they drive that huge lorry.  Very gingerly, I managed to reverse somewhere close to the pavement and started the very scary walk up to the house.  Picture me teetering and grabbing onto anything I could on the way up the snowy driveway; I really hope none of the neighbours chose that moment to peer out of a window; I eventually arrived safely indoors without breaking anything.  I think that deserves a cuppa and a mince pie…..

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