Zip em Down

(C) 2014 Edward C Lunnon
8 years 2 months ill …
Physical: Deuce / Mental: Advantage Ed

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A few weeks ago, I spent time with Terri and Chris Pickels at Chrislyn and Crisscross Adventures in Addo. We canoed, birdwatched, quad-biked and braaied.

This last Sunday, I returned to Addo to spend time with the Tayler-Smiths. Matthew is on holiday, out from Florida and the “boats” of the romantic seas of the world!

Two years ago ,just before he headed off to the boats, we had sat on the banks of the Sundays River on their farm Happy Lands (just upstream from the Pickel’s place) and he had told me of their vision for an adventure area. We had got quite excited but it was difficult to imagine then what was envisaged – especially looking at all the bushland, reeds and rocks.

But, in Matt’s absence, his brother Ryan has proceeded with the hard work and, in September, Addo Adrenalin opened to the public. I was there to try out the zip line!

They gave me all the stats in the rundown to the trip, but I guess i was a little tense and don’t remember too much!

The trip across the river on the pont and the walk up the rather steep cliff of the banks of the Sundays was quite tiring for me. But I made it!

Then up the tower to witness the most magnificent view of the Sundays River Valley – known locally as The Valley!

Then the final attachments of the ropes and the harness and the pulleys, a deep breath and I was gone!

A step from the platform into the void, and then I zipped down, some 500m across the river and into the landing area on the other side!

Another rush of Addo Adrenalin …

We (almost the entire Tayler-Smith compliment, spouses and grandchildren) sat on the stoep of Happy Lands and what a happy afternoon. Lunch and the chit chat passed far too quickly and too soon it was time to go back to Port Elizabeth.

So, once again, thanks for Addo and Sunlands hospitality.

And, to the readers, if you are looking for Adventure – head north out of Port Elizabeth for 40 minutes to Addo (even if it’s raining in PE as it was on Sunday – the sun was shining in The Valley!).

Go zip it down …

There, in amongst the Citrus orchards of the Eastern Cape, you will find the sunshine of the folks of the Valley, and Crisscross Adventures and Adrenalin Addo. Try it out for yourself and be pleasantly surprised.

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We Live in Moving Times

We Live in Moving Times

Saturday 5 March 4 years 6 months on … ADVANTAGE ED

So much has happened lately that it has often been difficult to find time to document all the events. To crown it all, there have been my personal battles with the CBD and myself, the medication and the side-effects and my ongoing tiredness that have often just kept me away from writing. And, then sometimes, my memory just leaves me in the lurch – and things that I have been doing for years on the computer just suddenly evade me. “Now how do I make capital letter …?”

The last two weeks have seen considerable movement health-wise to the positive side. I seem to have found the right balance with the medication – at least for now!

But talking about moving things – there has been a string of occurrences worldwide over the last few months that need mention. The world seems to have gone mad!

We have witnessed snow storms all over the Northern Hemisphere that brought movement to a halt on numerous occasions. I was lucky to get out of Dublin just at the right time early in December – thousands others were not so fortunate.

There have been numerous floods in South America, Australia, South Africa – torrents of water moving everything in its way, including people and property, on its path to the sea. (And yet, ironically, we here in the Eastern Cape still buckle under the ravishing effects of a prolonged drought. The only movement here is that downward movement in our reservoirs, and if we don’t get rain soon, there is only sufficient water to see us through to the end of this year!)

Large fires have moved through areas of California and Australia destroying homes and hectares of land and vegetation.

Popular movement in the political world has seen life-long leaders, despots and dictators moved out from their positions of power, abuse and absolute authority. First there was Tunisia, then Egypt, then Libya and a number of other North African and Arab states. This movement continues daily and one can only wonder when it will spread to Zimbabwe and where it will stop.

Of course, all this political movement in the oil-rich lands of the world has led to an incredible upward movement in the price of petrol with warnings that we could see prices double if this political turmoil is not contained soon.

And this political turmoil leads to the millions of African refugees moving into our country that has great difficulty in sustaining itself and our own population! And, as we see a continuing downward movement in our own security, education, health services and infrastructure, we also see so many of our countrymen, friends and family continue moving to other parts of the world.

Therefore, when we witness the wrath of the earth itself, shaking and moving in the form of earthquakes especially in Christchurch, New Zealand this past week, it strikes home because it involves and touches those nearest and dearest to us. Luckily, my sister, sister-in-law and cousins were not directly affected, but Sean’s school mate Curtly Diesel who left for Christchurch just weeks ago to stooge there, was having lunch but three blocks away from the devastated city centre and the Christchurch Cathedral that we saw so often on TV news here! Luckily, physically, he was not hurt. Mentally, it takes a while to recover from the violent movement of what we consider our solid foundations.

I still remember the physical and mental effects of the 7-odd Richter scale earthquake that moved the earth and woke us up at 10h29 on 29 September 1969 in the Western Cape (and we were in The Strand some 150 km from the epicentre of that earthquake at Ceres and Tulbagh.)       

Movement in the fields of medical science was the topic of a talk by Dr Norman Doidge that I attended last week. He researches the brain and has written a book about neuroplasticity – the ability of the brain and its cells to adapt, recover and renew. There were so many things that I could relate to that are so particular to my illness and my experiences – my left hand that worked so well whilst my rand arm was in a sling after I fell and broke my elbow; my left paralysed fingers that will automatically “kick in” when I play the piano; the walking in London and Dublin that rejuvenated me! I have included links to his website on my web page www.edlunnon.co.za.  

Unfortunately, I had to discontinue my discussion with him because I had been invited to a book launch by Belinda Walton at Collegiate High and was running late. (I wanted to go as I knew her brothers Adrian and Andrew from school days and spent many hours teaching Adrian extra maths in the hostel.)

Belinda was severely injured in a car accident 15 years ago and, despite the odds against her, has made the most amazing strides on her continuing road to recovery.  She has written a book BELINDA that details her journey of the last fifteen years. What courage! What determination! What resolve!

That gathering was possibly the most moving experience of recent times. There are so many of her feelings and situation as a handicapped person that I am starting to understand. I certainly have come to realise that we and our children are not exposed or properly educated on interacting with disabled people.

It takes situations such as Belinda’s to bring home the reality to me (and to many people) just how fortunate one is. As you look around you, there are always people in so much greater distress and need than yourself. It came as a wake-up call to me to realize just how fortunate I am! Belinda’s youth and life were taken away in the prime of her years – I have been so fortunate to have lived (and still do to a large extent) a very full and rewarding life.

Such as Sunday that saw us back at the Sundays River for the swimming of the Redhouse River Mile. The organisers have moved the Redhouse River Mile to Sundays River.  We used to have a sort of annual gathering braai at the Colliers at Redhouse on the day of the Mile, but that has all changed now that they have moved the swim to the Sundays River – supposedly because of the high bacterial levels in the Swartkops River.

John and Wendy Clarke loaned us their boat and we spent a lovely day in magnificent weather  – picnicking on the river bank and watching the thousands of people moving up with the incoming tide and swimming that mile – not for the faint-hearted! A seething mass of moving people …

And this weekend, the family moved in different directions – Pera was asked to speak to a mothers’ conference about MOTHERING. So off she went to some or other game farm for the weekend; Sean has joined the NSRI so he had to do weekend duties at the PE Harbour; Phillip was going to friends.

Well, that left me … so I decided to move off to St Francis Bay. It’s always good for the soul just to relax at the river, meet up with friends and acquaintances like Len, Barry, Charles and Julie, Pat and Louis … and visit the Porthole, Legends and the Trat! The pizzas are still very good!

And, of course, at this time of the year there is not much movement in the laid-back village other than the water in the canals that moves up and down with the tides. So, I get to finish reading BELINDA, bearing in mind that reading is becoming more and more difficult for me. I have to read each page a few times before it sinks in, and with this book, I also have to stop regularly to wipe away the tears …

We surely live in moving times …

 

Health-Meter

Cognitive Excellent===================Average============================Poor
Memory (Short) ************************************
Executive function *************************************
Spelling *****************************
Figures ****************************************
  Physical functions
Left hand/arm *******************************************************
Left leg/foot *******************************************
Right hand/arm **********************************
Right leg/foot *
Lungs *******
Swallowing *
Spasms –left side *************************************
Spasms –right side *

Red stars = Deterioration / Green stars = Improvement from previous week

All At Sea

Tuesday 15 February 2011: 4 years  5 months on …

Last week was the fourth anniversary of the diagnosis of CBD and I have now been ill – visibly so – for 4 years and 5 months. I seem to think that there were tell tale signs way before September 2006. Be that as it may – I now enter year 5.

Health wise, this has been a difficult time for me. We have been experimenting with medication to alleviate the spasms that I get on my left side, but, in turn, this has been causing all kinds of other side-effects. So it’s been out with the old and in with the new – let’s see how this works.

On Monday, my very own website www.edlunnon.co.za  went live on the internet, thanks to Online Innovations who designed the site and are hosting and maintaining it for me. This site has been a dream of mine for a while now, but unfortunately, for various reasons, has been almost two years in the making.

 My grateful thanks must go to Online Innovations for taking over the project and to Dirk Erasmus, Kevin Grey, Bronwyn Burger and Annelie Wilson.

Tuesday, my anniversary day, found me not feeling too well. I was scheduled to spend the evening with our Gentlemen’s Club (our version of a “book club”) and the plan was to take in a boat trip in Algoa Bay followed by supper at the Yacht Club. I was going to cancel, but eventually – on Sean’s insistence – decided to go.

I was so pleased I did. It was my first experience of being out in Algoa Bay on a motorboat and we left the harbour and went south towards Cape Recife, hugging the coastline along the way. Despite a light drizzle, seeing Port Elizabeth from the sea-side is a beauty to behold. I could only imagine what the 1820 English Settlers must have thought almost 200 years ago now when they arrived here at their new home on this barren coastline after having spent months at sea.

Lloyd Edwards of Raggy Charters gave us an introductory talk about the research work they do in the Bay with numerous types of marine life (birds, seals, dolphins, etc) still found in this area. The revenue from the boat trips, open to the public, is used to subsidise the research work.

I wondered how many Port Elizabethans have ever seen the City and the Bay in this manner. It was a real treat!

 

On Friday evening we were back on the water – this time on the Sundays River. Another first for me! And another trip that I was doing despite not feeling too well. But again, what a delightful experience …

I have previously skied on the river south of the N2 National road bridge towards the mouth but have not been on the river north of that bridge that crosses the road round about Colchester.

Thanks to Wayne and Cheryl we went on a sundowners cruise along the river. The weather was great and the sunset over Port Elizabeth in the west something to behold!

But it was the life in the river that caught my attention.  I have never seen so many fish – jumping out of the water wherever one looked – in front of the boat, behind the boat, over the boat and even into the boat!

One mullet even ended up in the packet of chips that we had taken along for eats – literally, fish and chips in a packet!

Much later in the evening, after a wonderful steak braai, we ended up sitting on the jetty at the riverside, still watching “flying” fish under the orangy haze of the Port Elizabeth City lights. At any one point there could have been twenty to thirty fish just flying out and into the water. It was great to see that there are still rivers in this country that are clean, undisturbed and so alive!

Both trips this week have proved to me that I have to keep going – despite not wanting to go, I ended up having a great time and seeing and doing things that I have not done before.

But despite the highlights of the week, I have to guard against letting my mind go. I am all at sea in myself and, as things become more difficult physically and mentally, I fear I am losing the mental battle.

I know that I will never win the war against this disease (that’s not being negative: not one of us can win the war against death, it’s simply being realistic).

So I have to try and win as many of the little battles along the way. Up until the present that has been easy, but it’s now, as the waters rise, that I need the strength. There is deep turmoil within my soul.

And we have all seen the results of the worldwide floods these past few weeks. Flood waters are terrifying and there can be few more threatening natural calamities than rapidly rising rivers or tidal waves.  It is now that I have to draw on my faith.

But the faith will not be an insurance policy against trouble or guarantee me an easy ride as the shadows grow longer in the coming months, or a trouble-free life in the time that lies ahead. Hopefully it will give me an extra resource to draw on when the flood-gates open.

I need to fill the sandbags now and have them ready before the water rises!

The Psalmist says in Psalm 32 “…let everyone who is godly pray to you … surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him.”

 

 

Health-Meter

Cognitive Excellent===================Average=========================Poor
Memory (Short) ***********************************
Executive function *************************************
Spelling *****************************
Figures ****************************************
Physical  
Left hand/arm *******************************************************
Left leg/foot *******************************************
Right hand/arm **********************************
Right leg/foot *
Lungs *******
Swallowing *
Spasms –left side *************************************
Spasms – right side *