Monthly Archives: July 2015

Time to walk and talk with a colleague

Day 14

I woke to the sound of heavy rain offering a background to cheerful chat in the kitchen as breakfast was prepared. It helped to know that all my clothes would be dry and that I had a pretty could chance of parking my rucksack at the Youth Hostel for the day as I am back in Wells tonight.

Breakfast was a wonderful example of English holiday makers conversation piece, that is, it followed the theme of the weather persistently with optimistic forecasts based on the flimsiest of information and tales of wellies, macs and windbreaks all to be packed and carted to the beach. Of course everyone is still going to the seaside.

The meal was topped off by today’s quote of the day form the waitress, “Car drivers must go backwards” delivered with resounding confidence when one resident, attempting to go home, popped back in to ask the assembled company if a double parked car could be moved. It was followed by a stunned silence. Obviously not just me that thought application of this rule might cause problems!

I set off to meet my walking companion for the day passing my favourite sign of the day.


Once John and I had established contact, which is much harder when everyone is in dark head to foot waterproofs we decided to start with a coffee and let the ‘shower’ pass. Half an hour later it did so we set off for Walsingham.  Although Walsingham is a pilgrimage destination there were no footpaths all the way there, John prosaically pointed out that people went by coach! In fact John has been a regular member of the student cross groups that travel to Walsingham at Easter walking in from various destinations. I learnt that they do not ‘process’ but they ‘throng’, on advice from the police.  Language is an amazing thing.

Conversation as we walked ranged across many topics, the difficulties working in teams, variable leadership styles and the impact of poor leaders, employment law and changing careers midlife. I learnt about mental health issues, schizophrenia, the changes in thinking and body that occur for all in adolescence, stress and the concept of the Demands Capacity Model. We considered the concern about getting a diagnosis as an adult and how this cold help some people see the difficulties they had experienced since childhood in a different light. There is something about the rhythm of walking that makes free range discussion and the trialling of ideas much easier than It would be within the confines of an office or meeting.

John was able to show me Walsingham and the various sites of pilgrimage from an insiders point of view and it as astonishing place regardless of your spiritual beliefs. There are multiple chapels on the site overall including the conversion of the old station to a Russian Orthodox Church.

day1514bHaving taken our time to look at everything we thought we would take the train back. Imagine my delight when I discovered it was a steam train. We waited in anticipation alongside small children squeaking with excitement and jumping about with enthusiasm as we saw it chugging its way towards us.

The track, train and all aspects of the service are run by volunteers so the tweaking, standing about and general faffing or engineering was lengthy.

The train driver was charming but we stopped 2 minutes into the journey, more inspecting needed, a problem with the air brakes we were told, they will see what they can do. We all leant out of the carriages watching their every move something was released/adjusted/tightened with a length of pipe and we were off. It was such fun and it is the longest narrow gauge line in the country to boot!

On returning to Wells next John set off for his 11 hour drive home. Thank you for your company today John and sharing your sandwiches and knowledge of Walsingham.

day1514cThis evening I watched as whole families fished for crabs off the harbour wall amongst the arrival of boats that off loaded crabs of an altogether bigger size. I hadn’t realised crabbing and Wells were so closely linked but once you start to look you see crabbing buckets, bacon bait and people hanging lines into the water everywhere. I have never felt quite the same about crabs since I had to prepare 24 dressed crabs back in my catering days but catching them looked more interesting than stuffing them was!

Lucky for some, including me!

Day 13

The day started with sunshine streaming through the window which made it much easier to overlook the still damp rucksack, I have lost its waterproof cover somewhere along the way.

I couldn’t bring myself to put on my wet boots but as the first visit was only 10 minutes away I went in sandals and parked my boots in the sunshine hoping they would steam gently. On the first visit we tackled the practical difficulties of discussing meltdowns with a teenager who is reluctant to take part but wants to be present.   Of course this is completely understandable, I am a stranger, but any discussions must be considerate and respectful of those concerned as not speaking does not mean not participating. We also thought a bit about how anxiety can wipe out sensible thought and override any carefully laid plans. A longed for kitten had finally arrived but it’s random if playful movements were causing high anxiety.  Oh the difference between the dream and the reality can make life very difficult and this kitten just had no chance of being slow until it was tired or old!

A small sneaky bus ride half way to the next meet up was needed as the mileage and the time available just didn’t match. There was no bus timetable or useful visual support but 2 helpful ladies filled me in on where to go, how much it would cost, estimated time of arrival and onward route. They saw me onto the bus and waved me off! These small acts of kindness go a long way.

day1513aI was about ready to start eating my rucksack having left before breakfast when I came across a small village shop in a portacabin.

The owner was on hand to sort any problem that came his way, where to get the parish newsletter printed cheaply, what days the bins should go out and how to get tea from his machine.

Whilst my breakfast wasn’t quite what I anticipated and pork pies can be a bit heavy on the digestion it was eaten under his eagle eye with obvious appreciation!

I was met by Holly outside The Ship having discovered that our agreed meet up point was 2 miles in Brancaster in loose geographical terms rather than specifics but Google maps just wouldn’t play ball.  The mobile signal here in Norfolk is interesting, it is apparently working UK wide coverage but in practice seems a little whimsical!

day1513bA shared lunch with the Starfish Plus team was fantastic, the conversation was open, challenging and one of the most constructive debates I have had for years with a multidisciplinary team. We were able to laugh together, share stories, successes and the tougher bits. This photo says it all, a hard working passionate team that loves and enjoys their job.

Mel who initiated this very practical service that offers direct support and intervention over time believes the model can be duplicated. We need to hear more about services like this, they are working and held in very high regard by the parents. This team works with parents at home to build strategies that work for that individual within their family. They turn up and they do it. I wish we had a team like this in every county.

We were joined by 2 mums and their sons and moved outside to give the lads a bit more space and simply continued talking adding the parent story to our discussions. The 2 boys self occupied with occasional well timed intervention from their mums. It is rare to see such high quality intensive interaction therapy and proactive calming strategies being used without fanfare just integrated into how the social situation ran. It is amazing and inspiring.

Quote of the day goes to Harry’s Mum:
Non verbal has no correlation with quiet.  Helen Giles July 2015

I am putting that one in my next presentation, thank you Helen!

Ciaran and his Mum are now able to go to classical concerts together and enjoy the music from start to finish. His mum pointed out that they always sit in the back row as Ciaran conducts (of course, why not!) and she laughed but this shared joy is a powerful thing.

Eventually I said goodbye and walked on. There is so much I have learnt today and it is great to talk to inspiring people, laugh long and loud together. There is so much here we want for all our families. How can I make sure I weave this thinking into what I do?

The scenery in filtered sunshine was glorious. Wide open beaches, miles of sand on one side, dunes and fields in the other. Today has been a great day, I am lucky to have the chance to do this.


Also the B and B has a heated towel rail so dry clothes tomorrow — life doesn’t get much better!