Monday, August 24, 2015

Chugging Along

We slowed down this summer, craving time as a family without the hustle and bustle of the every day, without the constant noise of the city nor the bedlam of technology.  Our world became only as wide as the river we chugged along upon; without hurry with no real destination in mind.  

In the beginning, before booking, it seemed a little mad to want to take our children, a Snapdragon wheelchair (and more recently a stookie...) on a canal boat, but one of the things our daughters love is our family's sense of adventure; anything is achievable with a spirit intrepid and bold.  So we booked... and the girls choose their beds on the plan of the boat.

After a rocky start - and a skipper to bolster confidence and add to the crew - we take to the water, working well as a team, bred by the finest - and strongest! - of Scots, fuelled by porridge oats and kind of spirit, chugging along the Rivers Stort and Lee.

The Stort Challenger

Lock View
Walham Abbey
Stanstead Abbot

The water swirls:
patterns on the surface,
water rising,
water falling.
water stills.
The gates open,
no resistance,
moving onwards
journey's pause.

No burden of technology and an untouched bag of books and crafts, the girls took to boating like ducks to water.  Niamh opened locks; Eilidh took control of the tiller; certificates for one and all; happiness all around.

We counted creatures and foul.  Moorhens, coots, ducks, canadian geese, heron, swans and grebe. We spotted boats.  Mr Otter, Mr Mole, Mr Badger, a couple of Owls, a Puffin, a herd of Hefalumps.  We were watchful for the dreaded Logopotamus and Stickodile (thank you, Ian No.2).  We revelled in the peace and quiet, in our family together, messing about and chugging along.

“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” 
Wind in the Willows 

canadian geese - just one or two!

"o rest a bit for tis a rare place to rest at" -
and it was, with ice creams to buy and coffee to be had

the river by Roydon

So a big thank you to Take A Break Scotland for making this adventure possible - we were fortunate to receive a grant towards the cost of our short break.

But most importantly, a HUGE thank you to all at Canalability who truly made this an accessible holiday to remember - without your kindness, dedication and love of the open water we could not have enjoyed such a wonderful family break.  After a rocky start you were able to pull out all the stops to skipper and crew with us.  Thank you Steve, Ian, Ian, Doreen and all your fellow volunteers: each and every one of you does such a worthwhile job.

Monday, July 06, 2015


A moment.
Quick as a flash.
The usual bump over the door sill
and then silence.
No rattle of the chair.
No whizzing.
Just silence.
And then I realise -
Eilidh is lying on the patio
motionless and quiet.
I run to pick her up
and she cries.
I don't know what happened.
I do know this -
she wasn't wearing her lap belt.
A fat lip, a grazed chin and nose.
Tears fall fast.
She seems ok.
She settles.
She sleeps.
And when she wakes she's unsettled.
Just not quite right.
She won't let me touch her.
She won't let me move her or transfer her.
I know that all is not right.
More analgesia.
I'm home alone with the girls;
the hospital is a difficult choice.
I'll see how she is overnight.
She insists that it feels better.
She is awake all night.
We see every hour.
She refuses to let us turn her.
No more nonsense.
Daddy is back.
Granny can take Niamh.
The brand new emergency department beckons.
Tony at Triage.
Will, the doctor, reassuring and gentle.
X-ray, innocuous itself but the transfer painful;
a sticker as reward.
There it is,
in black and white -
A buckle fracture of
the distal femur,
fifteen degrees of angulation.
And my tears fall - I know what's to come.
Eilidh asks questions and I try to explain.
A long leg cylindrical cast.
Bright pink.
4 weeks minimum.
I can see she's worried.
I reassure her.
The staff reassure her.
And the cast goes on.
The pain is better,
The anxiety persists.
All she needs is time.
Home calls.
We step outside:
her wheelchair and her
SMA becomes invisible:
Her stookie, visible, trumping all;
Her wheelchair necessary, justified
And accepted.
For now at least
her injury is normal.