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Sunday, September 20, 2015

My other animals... part 3

A few weeks ago I was writing about one of my favourite books "My Family and Other Animlas" - so here is the second of a series of posts about my "other animals".

Pigeons are a huge part of our garden community. Half a dozen years ago we had a couple of feral pigeons (nicknamed by MiL as Anthony and Cleopatra) they were easy to spot with very distinctive plumage. Over time we have now collected a huge community.

We have a couple (they are a couple as well) of coloured doves. We also have a few extremely large wood pigeons (they are really rather large birds) and an absolute gang of pigeons. Some of these are kept by a neighbour at the bottom of our garden, some of these are feral, some of these are rock pigeons and some even now are the brown feral pigeons often seen over in the City of London.

Birdwatch 15

This is part of the pigeon tribe (mostly the rock pigeons) waiting for feeding time sitting on top our bedroom roof; you can hear them inside doing war dances (!)

This is one of the over-large wood pigeons. The are the absolute epitome of bird-brains! I have watched on walk up to the peanut feeder, wander around, work out that to reach he needs to climb on the brick, get a peanut, go back to the ground to eat the peanut... and then start the whole process of how to reach the peanut over again!


The collared doves are always hanging out as a couple, they look our for each other and raise their families together


My mother has a delightful family of collared doves, they bought up their brood in a rather precarious nest behind the satellite dish on the house next door, and used to leave the babies on the patio table whilst they were off hunting.


Babies resting in the sun and parent keeping an eye on the rest of the world.

Monday, September 14, 2015

#ChallengeMS - 2nd Monday

#ChallengeMS - 2nd Monday! One of my colleagues returned from his holidays and noticed the orange hair!

I took a stroll along Piccadilly at lunch to visit the RAF Bomber Command memorial. I've driven past it quite a lot but this was my first visit. My grandfather flew bombers for the RAF so it is a lovely spot to sit down and remember him.

On the way to work

Taking calls
At Bomber Command

We will remember them

Through adversity to the stars

Sunshine in Green Park (just before it rained again!)

If you can please make a donation to the MS Society to help fund their continuing research.
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Sunday, September 13, 2015

#ChallegeMS - how MS feels

First off, MS is a very individual experience. Everyone's symptoms are different, and, even when they are similar they effect everyone very differently.

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Should you wish, here are some suggestions that you could try (a la "ice bucket challenge") to experience some common symptoms

1. Optic Neuritis
The visual disturbances that come with optic neuritis can range from mild and slightly irritating to sever and difficult to deal with. For me they are characterised by general desaturation (just play with the filters on your favourite photo editing programme) and a specific loss of the colour red (very noticeable in London with all the red buses!). There is also quite often a general visual disturbance which makes it hard to see detail - choose a fairly grey day and walk around with your sunglasses on.

2. Numb legs and feet
I don't have much feeling in my legs below the knee, certainly pretty much none in my feet - I have to look to check if I have socks and shoes on or not, and to make sure where they are in relation to the rest of my body - they have their own pathway in time and space (!).  What does it feel like? Put on a couple of pairs of really thick socks.

3. Numb hands
My fingers are all pretty numb too. It makes touch typing quite amusing if I happen to miss placing my fingers on the home keys! It makes it difficult to put in earrings, do up necklaces and buttons and generally anything that requires mine motor skills. How does it feel? Trying putting on a couple of pairs of snug-fitting rubber gloves.

4. Balance problems
I can walk a few steps without losing my balance; it is safest to use walking aids (or make sure that there is some furniture to grab on to). To replicate this you could either try spinning around really fast until you get dizzy (you know how much fun that was when you were a kid!). To make you more conscious of your balance and walking get a nice heavy book, balance it on your head, and go about your day.

5. Fatigue
Fatigue is one of the difficult symptoms people deal with. It is invisible and misunderstood. It goes deeper than just being tired and needing a nap (although that should never be turned down). Fatigue is crushing. It comes on suddenly. I'll be walking, or standing, or just going about my day when I hit the wall. Then I have to stop. Immediately. I have to sit down. Immediately. Fatigue can be managed, you can plan your activities to make sure you don't run out of spoons. At the end of the day though, when fatigue hits that is it. Difficult to replicate this one, but a little way towards it would be getting some of those strap on weights and attaching them around your ankles and wrists and strenuously going about your day.

There are many more symptoms than the handful above; the best way to understand them, really, is to talk to people who have MS and find out what their personal experiences are.

#ChallengeMS 2015

Why #ChallengeMS - My Story

If you go to their website the MS Society summarise quite neatly why #ChallengeMS is so important.

For me, it's personal; so I thought I'd share a bit of my story and experiences.

There is no cure for MS, there are disease modifying therapies available, but there is no cure. Let's face it, science isn't even sure what causes it. Is it genetic? Is it triggered by an innocuous disease? Is it lack of Vitamin D? Could it be a combination of some and/or all of these things?

I was diagnosed with MS back around 2001/2002. I'd had several bouts of Optic Neuritis (I still suffer this and have just finished a combative course of steroids). Optic Neuritis is an inflammation of the optic nerve. It sometimes causes pain behind the affected eye, but more obviously causes visual disturbances. 

The next problems were pins and needles in my hands and legs; always exacerbated by activity and not enough rest. The pins and needles were joined by general muscle weakness which made gripping things, picking things up and writing harder.

The sensory disturbances developed into balance difficulties. Sometimes I had vertigo, most often I just wobbled. My legs didn't have as much strength. I worked through using a walking stick to crutches and now my wheelie-walker.

All of this happened quite gradually over the last dozen years, which means if nothing else I can adapt to the way my body does (or doesn't) work.

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Wet weather

#ChallengeMS 2014 

My other animals... part 2

A few weeks ago I was writing about one of my favourite books "My Family and Other Animlas" - so here is the second of a series of posts about my "other animals".

Recently voted as Britain's National Bird in an RSPB poll, we have a delightful family of robins living in our garden. From slim birds to little round birds their cheery red breasts are a common sight in the garden. They are quite happy to share the garden with all comers - especially the human gardeners!

Robin (4)

As Husband or MiL (or even sometimes me) make our way around the garden trimming and weeding and even moving the lawn the little robins will follow on behind to see what is turned up from our activities hoping for scuttling buts, or maybe a worm, or just some handy nesting bits. They often sit on the edge of the compost bin to make sure "waste not, want not" nothing good gets by them!

Robin's mate

This is one of the little round red-breasted tennis balls on wings! Making to most of the seed dropped by the pigeons (who are very messy eaters!),