Reach Out -We are here for you

Sunday 10 October is World Mental Health Day and I believe everyone at some point in their life will have a mental health issue to deal with. My main message today is you do not have to face this alone. Please if you have something troubling you share it and share the burden in anyway you are comfortable with.

Talking to someone is the obvious choice but for me writing provides additional self-therapy. Much of my writing is 100% visible and in public but not all. The majority is positive but like everyone I have my downs as well as ups. I have been looking through old drafts on the computer and found a journal entry I have included below. This is a factual account about 7 years after my Parkinson’s diagnosis. We were in the time just before Liz moved out and had bought a second-hand fridge freezer for her. Unfortunately, it did not work so after getting a refund it needed to be disposed of.

Journal Entry

Liz is working again this time doing a cleaning job making it difficult to know when I have free time but I did have more time off with my daughter. I decided to get the old broken fridge freezer to the dump. It was bigger than me and I started a battle. Liz had told me I wouldn’t be able to shift it on my own as it took three people to bring it in. So it was going I had no choice. I borrowed her car and had to get it outside to the gate and up the steps before getting it in the car.

I started to move it with a trolley but because of the confined space we had left it in against a wall. bookcase one side, another fridge-freezer the other, door in the way I couldn’t just pull it out. This combined with its feet having gone through the lino which would rip and catch if I tried to drag it. So for 15 minutes I used the trolley making small movements to move the fridge-freezer about 50 cm, I had to balance it using my strong hand on the trolley and my weak one just to guide the fridge freezers movement. Knackered already but the only casualties being three photo clip frames broken I prepared for the next stage.

I used the trolley to get it to the back door but had to be able to get out of the door and tip it out onto its side through the door. Sounds easy but I had to be under it as i lowered it downward and had no decent grip. I did this slowly and carefully and it worked perfectly, and I should now be able to just slide the remainder through the backdoor, but the trolley had not slid out, off the other end as planned and was now jammed at one corner of the fridge freezer . All I needed were three hands. two to lift the fridge-freezer slightly and one to push the trolley back but at last count I had two. As well as much perspiration I also had a little inspiration using an iron bar from the shed for leverage and pushing a block under I took the weight off the trolley and removed it. The fridge-freezer slid out of the back door. The easy part was over.

Next, I had to upright it and get it through the back gate. When it was brought in, it was lifted over a wall as through the back gate was not even considered an option. The steps the other side of the gate, and the side of the house left no room to manoeuvre it was as tight as a duck’s ass. It would not slide through as the first step although small encroached on the passageway. I used the trolley to place it in the gateway and proceeded to push it through inch by inch until it was a whole two thirds of the way there and with nothing to brace myself against that would be it. I pushed for another five minutes to no effect so dripping with sweat and wet from the rain I paused. The step was tilting the top of the fridge-freezer into the wall of the house and the feet catching on the step. So I tried the next logical step letting out my temper I kicked and shoulder charged it after three shoulder charges and believe me I had bruises you would envy, it had moved about a couple of mm. That was enough though it was not completely stuck . I rocked it, pushed it, levered it promising myself tea only when it was through the gate in front of the steps.

Unfortunately stopping for tea also brought home the point that I was knackered and still had to get it up the steps into the car. Like any sensible person I realised the need to call for reinforcements. Common sense lacking, I continued on my own tilting the fridge freezer onto the steps sliding it one by one up the steps bracing myself against the wall of the house I was almost there on first attempt but not quite I had to let it slide back almost to the bottom. The next ten minutes were spent pushing it up one step at a time and then bracing myself and holding before the next. The last three steps were the hardest as I had nothing to push back against, so I jammed it diagonally against the wall alongside the steps gave myself a breather before the final push. This time I did it but fuck it how was I actually going to get it in the car.

I stood it on its end tilted it and lowered the top onto the edge of the car. Now I needed to lift the end on the floor and push but as usual had nowhere to grip. Feeling weak and spent I lifted one more time and put all my weight first positioning the car so when I pushed, I was braced against the yard wall my grip was starting to slip but I was there. I had a fridge Freezer in the back of the estate car. Well, all but about six inches sticking out.

The recycling centre although within 2 miles away had about half a mile of steep uphill road on the route. Not wanting to kill someone on the way by fridgicide (other people here invent words so why can’t I) I got the ropes out.  My ropework isn’t pretty but is functional and will take an age to undo. When I finished the back of the car looked like a spider’s web. When I got to the recycling centre and parked the car got out a worker appeared took one look at my wet and dishevelled state standing there in a t-shirt in the rain and started to undo the knots. He asked if we could lift the fridge-freezer together or if he should get a trolley and looking at me again decided he could rely more on the trolley.

That was a difficult time for me, my confidence had taken a knock from our break-up and this combined with doubts about my physical capabilities led me to sometimes test myself. I originally posted the journal entry in an adult website. I did that because I did not want to worry my children and I knew that was somewhere they would not see it. It was a time my body started to be less reliable, and I was losing some of my strength. More than that, I felt weaker. I have never defined myself on strength alone, but my physicality was part of my identity. It is now about 7 years since I took the fridge-freezer for recycling. I am no longer capable of what I did that day.

My Parkinson’s moves on but slowly at a speed that has allowed me to respond to change. It has diminished my physicality and affected how I feel about my masculinity. I find having to get some things done by others that I could previously do myself, very frustrating. I am older now though and hopefully wiser. We all face physical changes and it not our physical capabilities that define our worth. As a person I am not diminished, the true strength is within. My writing has helped me to establish this.

If you are struggling, please reach out in whatever way you can. You maybe surprised how many are listening. Opening up can shine a light on the dark. It is never too late to ask for help. Let others help it is what we are here for.

Thank you for reading


One Big Thank you

One Big Thank You (One BBC1 7pm 29/07/2021)

This blog is unusual in that I am not the central character in this story. It is a taster hopefully without being a spoiler. I hope you will watch the One Show 7pm 29/07/2021 on BBC1 to see the Tribute to a lady who is truly inspirational. Her contribution to the Parkinson’s communities in Cornwall and beyond is incredible.

On Monday this week I received an email. The start of more than two dozen about arrangements for the celebration of my friend. We watch these presentations with little thought for the complications of delivering a tribute to a lead character unaware of her role surrounded by a cast of unknown talents. We have all heard the theatrical maxim advising not to work with children and animals but compared to this it is child’s play.

The producer has to  plan the surprise and assemble his cast without attracting the attention of the person best qualified to assist. The plan is Darwinian in nature evolving as location is explored, weather considered, light, tides and logistics. In tandem with these considerations, they also must identify key individuals who can set up covert lines of communication to the thank you recipient’s family and social circle.

Add to that the fact that many of the participants like myself have Parkinson’s. Many of us rely on routine to manage our conditions and some of us do not respond well to short notice change. We achieve knowing our own limitations and strategies. Short-notice change, puts pressure on these adjustments and can cause us stress.

So many complications and I have not mentioned covid. Any change has the potential to cause  a chain of knock-on effects. Despite all this a tribute has been produced. Please watch it if you can let us share the inspiration we receive, with you.

I have not included any photographs as I would rather you see the visuals on the broadcast but I will finish with a poem to hopefully further wet your appetite.

One Big Thank You

No more heroes anymore

Yet One Show calls for encore

One big thank you is broadcast

Extra Myles was forecast

In Looe drew line in the sand

Beach art message was so grand

At Daisy’s formed breakfast chain

BBC pied piper led the train

On track to the interview

Social distance two by two

Move closer better vantage

Thank you clear in language

Watchers hands combine to clap

Applause recorded no mishap

Big screen message from Alex

Nominations are up next

Praise for hero played on screen

The big picture can be seen

Scope of hero Sue Whipp’s aid

Network group foundations laid

Interviews and stories told

Filled in gaps and made it whole

Await tribute, Jenkins cut

For next Thursday with no but

Arrangements that ebb and flow

Somehow the producer knows

How elements will combine

A Dr Who of timeline

Dr What, Why, Where, When How?

Is it magic? Take a bow

BBC surprises a hero

And somehow delivers a show

Thank you for reading

Jon Best

One Big Thank You (One BBC1 7pm 29/07/2021)

Half Moon

I went outside into the cool air. The gentle breeze a pleasure after the oven of the day. I looked up at the pink wisp.of cloud. The last evidence of a sunset obscured by the houses in my line of sight. I turned around to see the moon  but not a full moon, just a half moon. Was it a moon half full or half empty?

Moon half full?

Half-assed, half-baked? I think Boris is following the science but the path he has chosen seems to be signposted as chaos theory. Tomorrow is Freedom Day but free from what? The virus is still here and multiplying. Usually, the devil is in the detail but in this case, he is in the guidance.

What does it all mean? Truth is I do not know. We all face decisions.

Do I wear a mask and if so when?

Do I hug people?

Do I social distance?

Do I return to the office?

How do I behave when I meet people?

What do I if others fail to observe the same care as I try to?

So what do we do? It matters not if the moon is half-full or half empty? Although the sunset was hidden, I know it was there. Even if we cannot see the big picture it does not mean there is not one.

There are still clinically vulnerable people and masks protect others. The potential effects of changes are not yet visible. All we can do is act with care and compassion and temper our decisions with kindness.

Time will show us the whole of the moon.


From the Past to the Future

This feels like a pivotal moment. It is just over three weeks since I had my second jab but where do I go from here? This week has also seen the ten year anniversary of my trek to Machu Picchu which was a past event of huge importance. Not a moment but a culmination. A year of success of training and fundraising leading to a sunrise over Machu Picchu. When I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s I could only see a downhill journey. Machu Picchu showed me that life was alive and kicking. It gave me belief that opportunities were still there for the taking.

There are lessons there. I could not take on a challenge like Machu Picchu but I could be fitter than I am. I have missed people over the last year. The lockdown has unpicked the thread of some of my activities. I still live in one of the worlds most beautiful locations. During the lockdown I replaced my unpredictable Mazda for a reliable and cheaper Kia Picanto. Nothing is stopping me from reconnecting with the county I love. My small circles can expand all I have to do is do it.

If I assess the past 12 months I can see that I have done more than I thought. As well as replacing my car I have consolidated my finances. Working from home has allowed me to do more overtime. It has helped keep my family safe. I have also added diversity and inclusion duties to my role at work.

I have also started work on a personal project to provide positive portrayal of diverse families in my poetry and will attempt to find a way to publish. In September I have tickets to see Gangstagrass in Bristol in September. Shan is going with me to see her first concert since losing her hearing and having a cochlear implant.

Parkinson’s does progress but my life goes on. In a years time, what will I have to lookback on? I can’t predict the future but I won’t forget I have one.

Thank you for reading


Echo Beach far away in time

I have borrowed the title from Martha and the Muffins as it fits better than any original thoughts that I had. Today I visited Echo Beach or Carlyon Bay as it is a little more widely known. I walked down the hill from the car park buffeted by the wind. Already able to smell the sea. I looked at the clouds trying to determine whether they would rain or pass to reveal the sun.

My earliest memories of the beach were visits with my Mum. We would walk the 1.5 -2 miles to the beach, carrying our packed lunch(often containing one of my Mums home made pasties). It was a time of patience from my Mum whose calm was unshakeable despite my enthusiasm for the water only being matched by my inability to swim. This was not one of the safest of beaches, one step and you could suddenly be out of your depth.

I looked down on the aptly named Shack on the beach, facilities that do not hint at the entertainment hub based here in my youth. The Cornwall Colosseum was a concert venue, Roller Disco and nightclub. At the time it was a hugely important with a capacity of about 3300 until the arrival of Plymouth Pavilions which took over its role as the premier South West Concert Hall. In my childhood I watched the Radio One Roadshow in the carpark there. In my teens and early twenties I saw Iron Maiden, Meatloaf, Suede, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Carter the Unstopable Sex Machine, The Cure, The Mission, The Cult amongst others.

I walked across the beach contemplating Gossips Nightclub and gathering on Weekend Evenings at the heaving Holmbush Inn. I have never been a Nightclub person but at that time I repeatedly followed the flock often wondering why. I walked towards the far end of the beach where I could see a man with a camera and long lens photographing birds. At one time that end of the beach was the nudists section and the brazen flaunting of such a long lens would have been frowned upon.

I stopped and watched the watched the waves crashing into the shore my reflections battered by the wind and my knees aching from trudging through the sand. I took a few photographs trying to hold the camera still then walked back to the other end of the beach past the Shack on the Beach. The last time I came here to see some music was a couple of years ago when I in a crowd of less than ten, saw Australian singer Brigitte Handley. How times have changed?

With trainers full of sand I headed up the hill looking back a couple of times as the sun made a brief appearance as I left. Not the place I remember but the echoes still remain.

Thank you for reading


Happy Birthday

I have been lucky. I have not lost anybody close to me in the pandemic. I have written poems in tribute to Captain Tom and others who have inspired. It is such a tough time to lose someone. It is always tough but restrictions on meeting people make it harder to share grief.

It would have been my Dad’s 91st  Birthday on the Saturday of the weekend just gone. and although he passed away 27 years ago, I still wanted to give him my best wishes. Before I go any further, I just want to forewarn you that my maudlin has been misplaced and left behind ineffable calm. This is not a sad blog.

I have just used a measuring tape that was his. Dad. Many of the tools I have belonged to him and he is with me when I use them. Although he is possibly shaking his head at my lack of DIY skills. Sometimes less DIWHY and more DIWTF. Possessions give him a physical place in my life but there is much more to it than that. He is still with me and he is still part of me. Memories are not just past events that I can rewind and play as though they are repeats on TV. They form part of who I am.

This was harder to see at an earlier age. It was easier then to just focus on the differences such as bigoted views he learned from his surroundings. I am a Diversity and Inclusion Representative as part of my employment duties but the first time in my life I felt a passion for this was in my teenage years as I argued with my Dad often to little avail.

When I think about him I think about how hard he worked to support his family. The small times in his life when he was unemployed were an anathema to him. As a family man he was the real deal. Loving, caring and hard working. I always felt he related to my brother more another practical man but I know he had immense pride when I graduated from Portsmouth with a Physics. Degree.

The toughest times for him were when he was unable to work due to heart problems. At other times when he was unemployed, he could do some work on the house or garden etc but the restrictions led him to spend a lot of time inactive. He was a little compulsive and I found his repositioning of items others had just touched maddening. At that time, I felt mortified every time one of my fellow classmates sang the line “just another burden on the welfare state,” at me. This was a line from a song by the Specials. My Mum still worked and as a family we were not anyone’s burden.

I have often recognised I shared qualities with my Mum but, actually some of them such as kindness I shared with them both. I am now the family man and my family comes before everything and despite the challenges it sometimes brings, it comes complete with the greatest rewards.

I am sorry if you have lost someone who was a large part of your life. I know that words offer little comfort, but those who were close to us stay with us not just as memories but part of who we are.

A couple of days ago I took my Dad some daffodils and said Happy Birthday. It has been several years but I think I finally realised what he meant to me


Spring Forward Fall Back

A phrase used to remember which way to adjust the clocks when we change them but also describes my experience of Covid. Last week it was a spring forward with the vaccine, but it was followed by falling back when I got the letter adding me to the clinically vulnerable list. My life seems to be a Yin Yang of balance. My job is secure but close family members are not so lucky. I have tried to apply some elasticity to my finances but they remain frustratingly rigid. For me the pandemic has been a sort of weird hokey cokey where anything I put in has to come out again. The Parkinson’s takes care of shaking it all about.

Usually at this point I would clarify my metaphors, but these are not normal times. Instead, I will ask you to go with the flow, because in times like these no-one can have control and sometimes it is all we can do. There is a duality on the news reports at the moment either they discuss with optimism the vaccine roll-out or worry about new variants. We can have little influence on either of these issues, but we can still play our part. Individually we may seem insignificant but our combined actions matter.

Silent Announcement

The silent trumpets herald Spring as they sway

Their gentle motion blessed by the breeze

Swans on patrol duty vigilant on the water

Glide across the pond to intercept interlopers

Geese in pairs keep a low profile as the hoover

Crusts floating on the surface before others notice

Ducks sleep standing beaks cosseted behind

Pondlife bask in the sun pondering springs onset

This afternoon seems to confirm winter has Marched on but it probably will not retreat without a fight. There are usually some rearguard actions. but natures promised new life is destined to arrive  New life, in a new year that brings hope.


One Sigh Fits All

One sigh fits all.

Anybody else just wanted to sigh recently?

I often like to start with a question but sometimes it is as much a prompt to myself as the reader. Over the last ten years I have done a lot of writing and at times have been amazingly prolific. When the lockdown started, I expected the writing to flow but the opposite happened. I have rarely written a blog over the last year. I have written less poetry and short stories. I have not at any point stopped writing but have not felt the same enthusiasm or drive. Not writers block but perhaps writer’s apathy.

We talk of getting back to normal, but I want more. I still want to save the world. In the past I have harangued the world about excessive plastic but can see little improvement. In fact, the masks I see on the ground dropped as litter suggests it is worse. I have shopped online and had my shopping delivered. I usually buy individual peppers as one of my small contributions to reducing plastic, even this simple interaction is failing. I have received peppers in plastic packaging as a substitute or individual ones put in clear bags.

Peter Piper picked a peck of plastic free peppers.
A peck of plastic free peppers Peter Piper picked.
If Peter Piper picked a peck of plastic free peppers,
Why’s the pack in plastic. peppers Peter Piper didn’t pick?

Peppers not only a tongue twister but also seems to defy logic. This week the combined pack of peppers were discounted but the single ones were not. Do not tell Peter Piper. It took me weeks to try and get my bread, unsquashed by potatoes, apparently part of the new normal. I have not had the will to take on the Supermarkets about plastic.

The lockdown has narrowed my interactions with other people and reduced the size of the territory I roamed in. I lost interest in writing about politicians and Parkinson’s. I did not want to repeat what I had done before. I set up a website that contains most of my writing suitable for children, so it was available for free to anyone who wanted to use it  for reading with their children. When I look back, I have still written a large amount, but it is not all as visible. I have written blogs for work and articles for Diversity and Inclusion newsletters. In the last six months I have learnt a lot. I did not know how much I had not taken in. It has made me aware that there is more I can do. .

All the minorities listed as protected under UK law have some similarities in their messages. They need allies. People who are willing to listen, understand and support them. Why?

The clue is in the word minority. They are a smaller number and for the world to change we need to take the majority with us. Social representation is another issue. Traditionally minorities lack the provision of a proportionate number of visible role models. This causes a cyclical issue of discrimination developed from the lack of understanding that in turn perpetuates more failure to understand.

I have decided I can help this within my writing by showing diverse families in a loving context. I am working on a project to try and achieve this. I can remember my daughter writing a poem at school saying I was her hero .I believe all those who give a child a loving home deserves the opportunity for their child to see them as a hero, without it being undermined by peers who question if their family set up is valid. I am not going to include any of that poetry here. I have, to be careful as if I make this poetry freely available it may prevent a literary agent’s interest.

Yes, I have suffered a bit from Lockdown pen down, but I am still here. I am wondering who I have written this for? Even if I have just written it for myself, I matter, as much as anyone else. I guess that will have to be a good enough answer.

Thank you for reading

Jon Best

A steak in Christmas

Yesterday evening I unsuccessfully tried to take a photo of the Christmas Tree Fairy with my phone using a pair of binoculars as a telephoto lens. It was suggested by a professional wildlife photographer on Countryfile. It did not go particularly well. I had not established the need for a third hand in advance and my attempt at taking a photograph of an inanimate object does not bode well for me trying to capture a picture of a living potentially mobile entity.

Television has been disappointing this Christmas. Less specials made due to social distancing complications and less blockbuster films released as some were held back for after the pandemic. Bill Bailey provided some entertainment on Strictly, although not as I expected, with verbal jousting with Craig. Instead, a work ethic combined with an unexpected aptitude brought him plaudits and a Glitterball.

It has not been a typical Christmas and I have tried to meet it on its own terms without seeking to create an insipid version of previous years. Last year was a headbanger of a Xmas literally with Rhi and Charlie(to hilariouseffect) bashing heads and Metallica Monopoly. Rhi was not able to get back this year. The year had been different and sometimes I have had to look for different choices. That also applied to Christmas Day. Less options were open and the gathering would be smaller. In fact, it would just be my Mum and myself for Christmas Dinner. A turkey for two? No thanks. Instead, I got two rib-eye steaks. My Mum is an excellent cook on traditional meals and even at 88, wants to take part or even take over. A roast would mean a day rush for my Mum. Steak is different. She knows I cook a better steak than she does and left me to it. I made a stilton sauce to accompany it. My Mum ate the steak said it was better than a roast and was so pleased with the sauce she tried to scrape the gravy boat I had put it in, clean with a fork(I have never seen my Mum do that before). It has been a difficult year for my Mum, knowing now that I made her day has made my Xmas. We may not have the same choices but even on this unexpected year the sun still rose on Xmas day. We always have choices but sometimes we have to look a bit harder than normal to see them.

There is hope for 2021 but hope often accompanies uncertainty. The new strain of the virus and changes due to Brexit are the most obvious uncertainties. Whatever 2021 brings we need to look for the opportunities and make it a year to remember.

Christmas Eternal

Christmas will be Xmas

And it will always be

Even if we forego roast turkey

Christmas bigger than presents

Christmas Carols can be pleasant

Not a competition to get the most cards

Laughing at cracker jokes can be hard

Family times watching a nativity

But what has happened

To Xmas TV?

When I was little we heard the Sound of Music

Christmas staple, fixed every year could not lose it

Then the channels began to multiply

Film premieres audiences high

Christmas specials truly special editions

Like the Queens speech TV became tradition

Christmas will be Xmas

And it will always be

Even if we forego roast turkey

Without Christmas Dinner there still cooking shows

Meals that repeat on you as much as ho ho ho

When you press the button on the remote

But couch potatoes so full we  bloat

Family times nothing comes for free

But what has happened

To Xmas TV?

No big premieres no Xmas Superheroes

Specials culled although not quite zero

Oh no the cat is attacking my baubles

Pet lumberjack Christmas tree wobbles

Fairy’s high perch has become precarious

Below board monopoly cheating nefarious

Christmas will be Xmas

And it will always be

Even if we forego roast turkey

Christmas bigger than wrapping

Christmas Highlights TV guide mapping

Not shortage of Xmas pudding or mince pies

But where is the gogglebox treat for the eye

Family times or zoom may have to be

But what has happened

To Xmas TV?

Strictly Bill Bailey

In 2020 cometh the man cometh the part -troll

Bill Bailey Strictly winner topped the audience poll

Would he Doolittle an elephant in the room?

Or with Ma Beauty be OT and quickstep with a zoom

Amongst the glitter released his tinsel worm

Never mind his buzzcocks his show dance would confirm

Enter the sandman thankfully not Bills last Tango

Metallica  pure cosmic jam he stay as others go

A qualm peddler he may be but ended up on Craigs list

Judged to bring so much delight with his rappers twist

Black Books Bill Bailey mannyed up can stand up tall

With Remarkable Happiness can boast of a Glitterball

Picanto and Aramis

I have never really been a car person. Cars are functional machines to get us from A to B. I have never named a car or been overly bothered by make or model. I did like my Mazda and it felt comfortable. I don’t think I have driven another car in the five years I had it. Last year it broke down in a junction amongst the traffic lights. It was no longer guaranteed to get me from A to B. I had a list of concerns about it, brakes, warning lights, alternator belt, catalytic converter, etc. I did take it to the garage who confirmed it was safe with a minimum of work but said to address all faults and wear, to get it through a future MOT would cost a small fortune(far more than its worth).

I have since been living in a strange sort of limbo. I restricted my journeys since the pandemic as I need the car to support my family. I regularly checked and topped up the oil as the engine burned more suggesting it was struggling. About 6 weeks into lockdown I had to call recovery out to start the car as the battery seemed dead. They did start the car but advised I needed to use it more for longer journeys to keep it charged.

This provided me with an ongoing dilemma. How long did I keep it? I needed to save to afford a reliable car. It would take a while as I didn’t have the knowledge to assess a car from a private sale so I wanted to buy from a reputable dealer. I needed to buy before the Mazda brokedown. I needed it to be able to get to other cars to look at and test drive. Without my own transport this would have been very difficult to arrange in the pandemic.

Time had come to look for a new car . Cars often have an odd number of doors either 5 or 3 but these cars only have 2 or four. They may be hatchbacks but is a hatch a door? Should I ask people to get in and out that way. If I can’t even understand the technicalities of doors what hope do I have with engine specifications .  Anyway after much thought and some internet research I decided I could just stretch to a Peugeot 107 or Kia Picanto from Hawkins motors (not the cheapest of dealers but with a very good reputation). I negotiated a price with Trade in and bought a red Kia Picanto. It has a pretty good miles per gallon and requires no tax and running costs are important to me. It is also serviced and MOT’ed so I should have no immediate extra costs.

I found Hawkin’s Motors as expected, very good to deal with helpful but not in any way pushy and I bought the car. It has a much smaller engine than I am used to but is reasonably responsive. I wasn’t looking for a fast car but it is relatively nippy around the corners and I find it comfortable to drive. It is not too low, so my Mum can get in and out.  It has not only taken the worry out of driving for me but in these times of restriction returned some of my freedom. Decisions to drive are not made on a potential risk assessment of whether the journey is necessary. My first trip on my birthday.

I had a great time yesterday on my birthday trekking with Alpacas on the moor. We were introduced to 9 Alpacas and allowed to make our own choice. The weather was good and my Alpaca Aramis (named after the musketeer not the perfume) was friendly but had personality. They had feeding spots around the trek and he speeded up every time we got close to one. Standing still for a selfie was not of interest and I took an array of pictures that did not make a full jigsaw. One of the staff took a picture for me. My daughter had Jack older and in no rush but easy to handle. Jack was deaf so she had to use his lead more to get his attention.

Family, a new car, alpacas and an avalanche of birthday wishes from friends combined and made it a very good birthday.