Last week while watching TV with Caroline colouring on the floor, I forgot for about half a minute that she was ill. When the enormity of her life-threatening illness suddenly came back, I burst into tears and we sat as a family, hugging Caroliney and crying together, broken but battling.
Caroline’s Proton beam radiotherapy in America is drawing rapidly closer. She’s nervous of the whole thing, from the flight out there to all the obvious fears which stem from having unknown medical procedures in a foreign country that’s miles from friends, family, our beloved pet dog and anything that for her might currently resemble ‘normality’. We will also be away from the hospital that has become a secure and stable aspect of her vastly changed life.
It set me to thinking of all the things that have changed in the last few weeks and what we’ll miss while we’re away; friends, family, the beautiful coastline and scenery where we live, the change from spring to summer, the birds fledging, people’s birthdays, British food, the bluebells blooming.
So here’s an unapologetically indulgent post about a great day that Caroline and I shared this time last year when she was six, a magical Wild Mummy and daughter day, outdoors in the elements and immersed in nature.
NSPCC Bluebell Walk
Once a year in May the NSPCC‘s Alnwick Committee organise a charity bluebell walk to a local folly, The Observatory at Ratcheugh Crag, owned by the Duke of Northumberland’s Alnwick estate. The folly is only accessible to the public on this day each year and since I worked for the NSPCC back in the day, the bluebell walk was right up my street. Wild Daddy was at American football, the sun was shining and someone said there’d be chocolate cake. Perfect.
Caroline took this one
We met a wonderful lady who knew everything there was to know about wild plants as well as teaching us to recognise some new bird songs. It was great to be able to check our own knowledge with an expert.
Early Purple Orchid, Pheasant’s Eye Narcissus and King Alfred’s Cake fungus
The bluebell walk winds around the woods at the bottom of the folly amongst the crags and rocks that give the site it’s name. It’s a good bouldering area too. Find more information for climbing at this location at UK Climbing.
The folly itself is set high on a hill with stunning views towards the Cheviots in one direction and the sea in the other. Built in part to look like a ruin but with an observatory room on the first floor it’s easy to see why the spot was a favourite of the old Duke who built it in memory of his wife in the 1800s.
A storm was approaching from the hills so we headed to the beach for an afternoon swim. After the chocolate cake of course, provided by the lovely ladies of the NSPCC!
We raced to Boulmer beach for a brilliant hour’s paddling, surfing and body boarding, still in the sea when the storm caught up with us and poured heavy raindrops into the waves. Why is sea swimming in the rain so much more exhilarating?!
Racing the storm
Wild Daddy arrived at the last minute to take a final photo of me pulling Caroline on the board.
Me and my wild girl!
These are perfect memories of a magical day with my wonderful girl in all her wild, warrior glory. This time next year, when her Hickman line is removed and she can get wet again, I pray we’ll be out and about in the seasons and sea once more.
Support the NSPCC
The 2018 NSPCC Bluebell Walk at Ratcheugh Crag, Northumberland is on May 20th – for more information click here.
We were away in hospital for the 2017 walk and are unfortunately double booked this year, so please take a bluebell photo and send us a thought.
Read more about Caroline’s cancer journey at Caroline’s Rainbow.
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