What a beautiful spring day we are having here in Northern Ireland – the sun is bright, there are big billowing white clouds, the temperature has been the warmest for what seems a long while and the daffodils are out. I started the day with not wanting to get up because I am so tired after several nights of my sleep being disturbed more than usual, however in true “push myself” fashion I was up at 6:30 am. After all staying in bed is a waste of a day even if I am feeling fatigued and exhausted.
Being fatigued and exhausted comes with the territory of living with chronic pain. It can be very debilitating causing the usual symptoms of tiredness such as heavy eyelids, your mind drifting, and your body seeking what should be a healthy sleep. However with fatigue and exhaustion comes the more extreme symptoms such as having no energy to move, painful muscles and joints, cognitive difficulties including limited concentration, short term memory loss, mixing up words, multitasking difficulties, forgetfulness, plus many other symptoms. I have even been known to stumble over my own name! When living with chronic pain and experiencing these symptoms of fatigue it is commonly known as Fibro-fog (among Fibromyalgia patients) or Brain-fog (when it occurs with other conditions such as CRPS). Maybe that is why I feel like I get hit with a double whammy all the time because I have both CRPS and Fibromyalgia – so does that make me have Fibro-brain-fog, or maybe I am just a brainy frog – see word mix up at its best! For more information why not check out The Princess in the Tower.
So, has getting up at 6.30 am done me any good – absolutely, I would have missed that beautiful sunny morning if I hadn’t, also I would have missed my blood test, plus something else!
Normally I take the same route up and down the island, however I changed course this morning and took a different route entirely, and I am glad I did. The scenery was tremendous – as far as the eye could see – looking out across The Gobbins over the Irish Sea to the Scottish coast beyond. I just love this view. I rarely take photos of it as they do not capture the beauty of seeing the view for real. A real take your breath away moment, that makes me feel so lucky to be alive even with all the struggles I have.
As I pulled to a safe halt near an area where there aren’t so many bushes blocking the view, a ship caught my eye. She was only a little dot really, however the masts and yards were unmistakable. That ship was no container ship or ferry, that ship was a tall ship! She was heading towards Belfast Lough.
It instantly took be back to my memories of 2009 when my son and I went out and about round the coast of Northern Ireland to track down the tall ships as they came into Belfast. That year Belfast was the final destination after a 2,350 nautical mile Tall Ships Atlantic Challenge Race across the Atlantic from Halifax. Using Ship AIS we were able to find out where some of them would be and took a trip to see them either at anchor or sailing along the beautiful Northern Ireland coastline. They are some happy memories. I was in complete awe at the number of tall ships we got to see over the couple of days they all converged on Belfast for the finale of the event. It was absolutely amazing. Up until 2009 I only knew the names and shapes of four tall ships, however after those couple of days I knew many more.
As I watched the tall ship this morning I secretly hoped that I would be out of the doctors in time to see it enter Belfast Lough, so after being stuck with a needle twice – I am awkward to get blood out of and I guess I am the human version of a stone – I finally left the doctors. At the junction where I could turn left to go home or right to head to the shore, I contemplated for a very brief moment – did I have the energy, could I really be bothered to go out of my way only to find that the tall ship had already gone too far up the Lough to be seen from where I was heading – the answer was a most definite yes. I hadn’t missed one coming into Belfast in 2009 when I was still very new to my disability why should I miss this surprise one coming in today. So I turned right. I am so glad I did because there right in front of me when I reached the shore was the tall ship, still not more than a dot on a photograph, however she had a very distinct familiar feel to her lines.
I could not bring up Ship AIS on my phone, the signal was too poor, so as soon as I got home I brought it up on the laptop and low and behold the tall ship was familiar, in fact I had raced against this ship in the Brig Match Race in Portsmouth in 2004, she is the sister ship to the tall ship I sailed on (Prince William) during that race, she is owned by the Tall Ships Youth Trust and is called Stavros S Niarchos. So I was right with my gut feeling that I knew this tall ship.
In addition to seeing the tall ship I was met with the beautiful sight of the sun sparkling on the water, lighting up the multicoloured houses of the nearby town making them stand out out so vivid and bright, along with the sounds of the birds and the gentle lap of the tide against the shore – it was a totally beautiful and serene moment. It was a perfect moment to relax and observe the world around me and take in the beautiful view.
On most other trips to the doctors I would not have taken that right turn on my way home, I would have usually gone left, however, I think the tall ship was meant to guide me to the shore today. It was meant to draw me to this tranquil place, to give me time out in the fresh air – even if I was just sat in the car with the windows open, to spend time in the wonderful warm sun, to allow me that moment to take a deep breath and appreciate the world around me. The mothers pushing their babies, the birds singing, the old man and his dog who nodded acknowledgement, the walkers, the sparkle of the sun on the sea, the fresh air, the briny smell, the bobbing of the buoy in the water, the noise of a tractor, the white contrail of an airplane, the deep, fluffy white clouds, the tern floating on an updraft of air, the insects flying around, the chink of a breeze catching a boat in the boat yard, the swoosh of the sea on the beach, the dark outline of a container ship or tanker making its way up the lough from Belfast, the graceful tall ship – each and everything I took in, whilst relaxing, breathing and enjoying a precious moment of peace in this often all too busy world.