About Me


My name is Nicola, although most would call me Nicky.  I live in Northern Ireland with my husband and son.  I have a dog called Pup (I know – not very original, there is a reason and maybe one day I will tell her tale).

I started this blog because I was so inspired by the many other blogs that are written by others who are in chronic pain like myself or have other disabilities – such blogs as Elle and the Auto Gnome and Rellacafa.  Click on their names and you will be directed to their blogs – check them out for some really inspirational writing and great information, don’t be shy pop over and see them, it is only a click of a mouse!


Spoons are fabulous!

They can be pretty, they can be plain, they can be old and they can be new.

I collected spoons as a child and still have around 50 of them in the loft somewhere, all from different places I visited.  It seems odd that years later spoons, to me, would mean something completely different.  I use spoons as a way of describing how my disability effects me.  I love that my friends also now use the terminology and send me virtual spoons on facebook to help me get through my day!  This always makes me smile and cheers me up knowing that others “get it”.  For more information on this, check out this lovely story written by Christine Miserandino called The Spoon Theory, which is an analogy of what it is like to live with chronic pain, sickness or disability.


I learnt to sail back in 1998 whilst at college – learning in a GP14 on a lake in the middle of winter, some days the temperature was below zero.

Was I mad?  Yes I was, must have been, especially on the days we were in the water doing capsize drill with our breath misting out in front of us.

Did I enjoy it?  Definitely yes, what a thrill to be out there harnessing the wind to propel yourself from one side of a lake to the other, the silence drawing you in from the frantic and noisy world that we live in today.

Around this time I had a most wonderful opportunity to embark on my first tall ship voyage.  A real life tall ship!  I sailed on the Sir Winston Churchill (3 masted schooner) in the Canaries for 10 days – and what an adventure that was – taking the helm of such a majestic vessel, pulling on the ropes, climbing the rigging.  It was an experience I never thought I would get to repeat.

In 2004 I went on my second tall ship adventure, this time I sailed on Prince William (Brig) in races between two brigs.  I grew braver on this tall ship.  I actually managed to climb the rigging whilst still out at sea and then took that first frightening step out onto a rope on the yard arm – what an achievement, do you know how tall those things are up to their first yard arm – it was no mean feat!  I vowed from that, my next stage, if ever I had the chance again, would be to get to the top of the mast!  No point living if you don’t challenge yourself and improve on past successes.

I moved to Northern Ireland in 2005, and we just so happen to live near the sea.  for 3 years I planned on getting back into sailing, however life being what it is, I never found the time.

Some months after I had an accident which left me with an incurable pain condition I thought I would never sail again.  Thanks to my ever loving husband though, he found a local sailing group that was set up for people with disabilities, and I got back into this fantastic sport.  I found it was something I could do sitting and moving around on my bottom – not very lady like but better than not doing it at all.  It meant I could get out in the fresh air and feel free of the crutches for a short while (I do miss going for walks on the beach or along a cliff and this was the next best thing).  Soon after this we purchased our first sailing boat – Isabella (Teliga 20), a little sailing boat with a cabin just big enough to stay overnight in – I love sleeping on a boat, feeling the boat rock in the water and hearing the water slosh against the hull.

If I was reading this and did not know me I would be thinking “what a lovely end to a story” – person who enjoyed sailing, had accident, thought they could never sail again, finds they can, they buy a boat and sail off into the sunset happily ever, after albeit in pain, but at least they are happy doing what they like.

No, it gets better!

Remember that saying a short while back about challenging and improving yourself?

Well read on, I am going to be doing just that in 2015!

I love tall ships and enjoy seeing them in at Belfast, looking up at the masts, and down at the decks, reminiscing on bygone times that I will never be able to bring back, wishing I could do it again, if only I was well, if only I had not had a stupid accident, if only I was not on crutches or using a wheelchair – all the if onlys that make you live for today –  well I won’t be reminiscing this year when I embark on my third tall ship voyage!

I will be sailing on board Lord Nelson (Barque), taking part in the tall ships races 2015.  A dream come true, one off my bucket list, a chance to go aloft again, maybe not to the top of the mast as I can’t climb, however I am going to go as high as I can!   I am looking forward to being out there on the sea with lots of other tall ships, seeing their sails capture the wind, and their sleek lines push through the water.  I am looking forward to the challenge of taking part in a tall ships race, not with one other tall ship, with lots more.

“Dreaming, she’s dreaming, what a great imagination born from time spent looking at the tall ships when they are in at Belfast”, no not dreaming, actually doing – Lord Nelson is a very special tall ship, one that was designed and built to enable people of all physical abilities to sail side by side on equal terms, including those with mobility issues like myself, she even has lifts to move from one deck to another in a wheelchair.  I am sure there will be lots on my blog about this adventure as my skin tingles and goes all goosebumpy every time I think of this fantastic opportunity.  


The bane of my life!

I developed (is that the right word – I don’t know) Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (referred from here on in as CRPS – saves on the typing!) in 2008.  The CRPS monster decided to invade my body after an innocent walk on the beach where I twisted my ankle on a rock causing a dislocation and fracture.  From there my life has been turned upside down and inside out, I have had to learn to live my life in a completely different way to what I was used to.  There were many years that I sat and felt worthless, as if my life had ended, I now try to see the positive in everything to keep those negative feelings as far from my door as possible.  I am not perfect in this, however I believe… and know, that focusing on the positive really does help to keep everything in perspective.

I hear you whisper “what is CRPS”, so why not head over to my CRPS page for some more information – it’s not all boring medical jargon I promise!


Well that leaves just penguins!

I adore penguins.

I love their quirky characters between the different breeds and they are such a beautiful and elegant bird. My love for them, believe it or not, came about from my husband saying ‘you are all flap and no fly’ then proceeded to call me Penguin from there on in – hence the nickname Penguin stuck and my love for these quirky little birds began!


I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my blog.  Please follow, like, and share.  Don’t forget to comment too, I like reading other people’s experiences.

I have a lot of people to thank for their help and support over the years, especially since being struck down by the fiery CRPS monster, they include my husband and son who are there through thick and thin, the happy and sad times, the “I can do” and the “I can’t do” times.  I would also like to thank the rest of my family and all my friends for everything they do for me whether that be making me a cuppa or providing support in other ways.  Without my family and my friends I think I would have given up years ago – so from the bottom of my heart I thank you all! x

Updated 08/01/2015



18 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Pingback: When plans change | Spoons, Sailing, CRPS and Penguins

  2. I’ve never heard of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, and it’s frightening to know it can strike after such an apparently trivial accident.
    As for joining ‘Nellie’ in the tall ships races — fantastic! I know you’ll have a great time, although personally I prefer Tenacious to Lord Nelson. (But I helped to build her, so I’m biased.) I’m looking forward to your post after the voyage.
    I enjoyed the tale of your penguin interest. A long-time friend of mine is a penguin obsessive. She’s also my editor, so all of my novels have penguins in them somewhere just to please her!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Proud to be nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award | Spoons, Sailing, CRPS and Penguins

  4. I guess you learn something everyday! At least you can pinpoint when your CRPS started. Northern Ireland on my Bucket list. All of Eire actually. My kidlets did Irish dance for 13 years and I’m having a wee bit of a hard time finding me. My son retired after he qualified to go to worlds in Belfast. Yep he was that good., I realized my about me has some issues that I must try to fix.
    If your on Instagram my pupalups have their own account – keelyandranger

    Liked by 1 person

  5. As you can probably tell from my bland page lay out I am new to blogging. Yours, with all your sidebar looks amazing and I have much to learn about tags and widgets I’m sure. I started my blog as a way of dealing with my chronic pain as I had lived in denial for many years. I have been overwhelmed by the number of others who blog, (and not just bad things but funny, and inspiring) for similar reasons. The spoon theory has helped my family and friends understand my life and the frustrations. I look forward to reading more of your blogs in the future!.


    • Hey we all have to start somewhere. When I started blogging I could barely figure out what to write let alone what a widget and a tag was! As for a theme I hadn’t a clue. Blogging is certainly therapeutic, both reading others people’s blogs and writing my own. Thank you for your kind words about my blog, and likewise I look forward to reading more of yours too and seeing your blog develop. All the best!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I thought you were too, but I managed to unknowingly unfollow someone the other day, so I think it might be a wordpress glitch or something. – Let me know if I manage to accidentally unfollow you, too!

        Have a lovely weekend – it’s peeing down here, miserable and dark 😦

        L. X

        Liked by 1 person

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