mental health and travel
Springtime Colours (not the blues) – with photography by Alli Ross
Once again I feel privileged to be able to write about positive mental health. I know lots of people are battling demons and I know I am lucky to be on a continuing journey of happiness and recovery.
Last week was Mother’s Day and I’m lucky with that too – I couldn’t wish for a more qualified mum if I’d picked one out myself. I got her a big bunch of flowers and we went to an ‘Open Garden’ event at Bere
Mill near Whitchurch where we also had afternoon tea. The garden was huge, including two streams, a river and a lake and was bordered by fields. There were horses, cows (Belted Galloways) and sheep, all curious about the activity and came up to the dividing fence. The cows were coloured like Oreo biscuits, very hairy, chatty and passionate about grass.
When Mum and I visit houses and gardens I often find myself picturing how I’d feel if I lived there and was waiting for friends and family to arrive. To have a river running right through your property would surely be the bee’s knees, and this one was big enough to do some fishing in as was the lake.
As with every Spring, I have a birthday soon. I’ll be an impressive 37 though I look and act much younger, and I often get comments on that. Looking young is truly working to my advantage now after many, many years and I hope that when I am 60 I’ll still look two thirds of my age like I do now. Me, Mum and Will (my brother) are going for afternoon tea at Oakley Hall Hotel this weekend, I’ve not been there before but it looks nice. I like afternoon tea, but when I was at The Ritz last year for afternoon tea I had to stop drinking after just one cup because I have the bladder of an elderly person when it sees a hint of caffeine and we had to take trains home from London afterwards including underground and trains with no toilets and I get urgent messages to pee especially when there are no facilities. It’s not a medical condition, but I have to watch it when I’m on caffeine. It was okay though, the sandwiches, cakes, harp playing and the general glitziness were fantastic. The selection of rare aftershaves in the gent’s loo must have been worth a cool thousand pounds. My Twitter profile pic is me in my Ted Baker suit having tea at The Ritz (there is a suit and tie dress code).
The Ritz has memories for me – in 2002, aged 19, at the beginning of my serious mental illness I travelled there to meet an ‘imaginary friend’ who I thought existed somewhere on planet Earth and was sending me telepathic messages to meet her there, room 213. I remember it well, I roller skated from Waterloo Train Station and skated right into The Ritz (there was no one on the door) wearing tatty clothes, but didn’t find my imaginary friend. I was discreetly ejected by security 30 minutes later feeling very confused but made it home later that evening. The next day I was making plans to meet her at the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and it was when on the phone buying train tickets to France that my parents saw the gravity of the situation (there were many other interesting reasons on top of this) and that I needed urgent mental health care. I was sectioned (detained – locked up) on a mental health ward for the first time later that day so that I could begin to receive treatment and be watched…when I describe my story, my upcoming book about my experiences with serious mental illness and recovery, as intensely interesting, I don’t need to stretch any truth!
So that’s enough plugging my currently unbuyable book even if it was accidental. I’m looking forward to another afternoon tea setting at the weekend. Spring is possibly the best time of year for it if you are interested in that stuff. It’s only going to get more exciting I hope, as in May I am off to see Monet’s garden in Giverny, France, for a few days. I truly love France and have done since staying at a chateau in the south for my brother’s wedding in 2013. Pretty much everything about it – the feeling I get when I am there doing something French. I want to move to rural France one day if my life allows it.
I’ve always thought Spring is the best season. My earliest memory is of being about four years old and visiting a nearby hands on farm where we could look at and feed newborn Spring critters. I can still smell the chicks and the food for the baby goats. We took my nieces there recently, my eldest niece was wary, but my youngest niece has no fear at all of animals. It was a good thirty years since I’d been there, which can sometimes seem like merely a blip. It won’t be long before my nieces will be saying the same thing. I have said a few times that time seems to be able to pass quickly and slowly simultaneously, so instead of trying to make more time, just enjoy the time you do have.
(Apologies if you are unwell or unable to “just enjoy the time you do have”)
I’m going to try and enjoy my Spring time, and I hope you enjoy yours too.
Special shout out to my lovely friend Alli Ross for the Spring photography in this blog post. See Alli's photography portfolio here www.photocrowd.com/photographer-community/68863/