fun with boats

The first three weeks of June were wonderful. Full of laughter, good food and wonderful company. I played in sand, rock pools and sea, with grown-ups and children, family and friends. I even went sailing – pure joy, that, the noise of water under the hull, the sparkle of sunlight on waves, the play of sails and rudder. Of course, given that I have ME, there was a price to pay for all that fun, in the form of a relapse – hence the lack of blog posts, or presence on your blogs, no tweets or emails, no gardening. I’ve been out of touch with everything, and everyone.

Bud of Dahlia 'Le Baron'

There is a process to emerging from a relapse, a slow, careful unfurling.

Dahlia Le Baron flower opening

It feels a little like watching the dahlias emerge, as the fug of tiredness and pain recedes enough for me to lift my head up again and begin to notice the world.

Dahlia Le Baron flower almost open

I know I am beginning to feel better when I start wanting to cook, rather than just throwing toast or oatcakes down my throat. Even better is the point at which I find I can sit out in the garden – or even just look at it – without feeling consumed by panic at the weeds, the unpicked flowers and food, the unplanted seedlings. When I found myself picking the last of the beetroot and getting excited about what I could make with it I knew I had turned a corner. Suddenly I find myself taking an interest in the way the garden is developing, too.


The first daylily flowers are out, ‘Lucifer’ is sending up scarlet sprays of colour in the corner, Geum Totally Tangerine’ ┬áis delighting me even as I am repulsed by the geranium growing nearby, the geranium that I was so sure was deep purple, rather than pale pink.

Geum Totally Tangerine

The house is full of the scent of freshly picked sweet peas, I have a new favourite dahlia (Bishop of Oxford), and I am starting to make plans again. Not least for planting the finds from the Plas Newydd Plant Fair I went to just before the crash.

Dahlia Bishop of Oxford

I’m not quite back in touch yet, but I’m getting there, as witnessed by the dirt under my fingernails from cramming snapdragons into the cutting bed and finally rescuing the oca from their pots. I should be up to doing some visiting soon, to see how your summer is going. But for now, the hammock is calling me…


48 thoughts on “Getting back in touch

  1. I understand your situation. I have Fibromyalgia, and though it is probably nowhere near as bad as your ME, it does have some similarities. I go through periods of pain and “low self-esteem”. I find that gardening and thinking about gardening often helps me. You certainly haven’t lost any of your photography skills! I’m glad you had some good times too.

    1. Hi Mark, yes, I remember about your Fibromyalgia, they are very similar in many ways, suspect working out who is “worse” is impossible, and not a competition I would be keen on “winning”! The three weeks was worth the payback, and managed to do some weeding today, so definitely on the way up again. Nice to hear from you!

  2. Just this minute thinking of you and wondering how things were so let me be one of the first to say, good to ‘see’ you unfurling again Janet …and orange geums always remind me of your garden. Between the top and bottom picture, its hard to choose a preference. best wishes Laura x

    1. Hi Laura, that’s a nice piece of serendipity! I’d be hard pressed to pick between those two too (!). I do love orange…

  3. Sorry you’ve dipped right down Janet, but glad to hear you are feeling a bit more like yourself. I have Myasthenia Gravis (rare auto- immune) which is sleeping at the moment (ssshhh!) . I have been lucky so far as it can be awful for some people, but I well remember the all encompassing fatigue which goes with a relapse. Every little thing is such a huge effort. It is lovely when your interest in things begins to return.

    1. Hello Jane, yikes, what a horrid thing to have to deal with, glad its currently asleep, long may it remain so…

    1. Hi Sue, me too! I was beginning to wonder what I had done to myself. And sadly, no, no treatment for ME, they still don’t really understand what it is, exactly, probably a retro virus, though there is some promising work on gene therapy.

    1. Hi Jessica, it is good to be back, I hate not being well enough to garden, even a little pottering does wonders for my state of mind.

  4. Hi Janet,

    I’m pleased to ‘see’ you back again; I hope you continue to feel better. I too had been wondering if you were Ok – and checked your blog to see if I’d missed a post, but figured you must not be feeling well.

    Looking forward to more photos soon :)

    1. Hi Liz, its good to be back and engaging again, and I need to give the camera a good workout to record what’s going on in the garden, good and bad! Thank you for noticing I was gone.

  5. I remember that you had said that you were looking forward to company Janet and presumed that was the reason for your silence. Sorry to read that you have bee suffering. Hope that you soon completely unfurl and are blossoming fully. Take care xxx

    1. Hi Anna, initially it was indeed the company that kept me away from blogging and gardening – then it was the payback for the fun and frolics! I’m sure I will soon be back to what passes as normal, which is good enough to garden and blog. And cook!

  6. Oh I had a feeling you were not well and when I saw your recent reply from a post from a while ago, I was convinced you had not been well. You described my recovery from surgery perfectly so I do know a bit about how you are feeling…wishing you much rest and healing as you get your feet back under you and feel much better Janet.

    1. Hello Donna, yes, I imagine you are only too familiar with the slow and often frustrating process of recuperation. I hope you are doing well, am looking forward to catching up with you and your garden.

  7. So glad to have you back and sorry that you had a relapse after all your fun with relatives and friends.
    I too have Fybro myalgea like Mark so life has its ups and downs for us too, I can appreciate what you are going through, take your time, don’t rush to get back to what you were, the garden will wait, or that is what I tell myself sometimes!

    1. Hi Pauline, sorry to hear you have fybromyalgia too, everyone has a story, don’t they. Remembering not to rush back is always the tricky bit, isn’t it. Right now I am just happy to be well enough to be getting excited about gardening again. Hearing what you have to deal with health wise makes me even more impressed with your lovely garden.

  8. Hi Janet, I’m so glad to see you back in the swing of things. I had to look up ME and found it is the primary term used in the UK, New Zealand, and about six other major places, whereas Chronic Fatigue Syndrome seems to be used in the U.S. I know it is debilitating. You did a brilliant job of visually displaying how a person comes back by the unfurling of the flower. My garden is gorgeous, but my little sister died on July 3rd and I haven’t had the heart to do the blog post I need to write about it. We were close. I spent a week with her in the hospital and before that was two weeks in Europe, so it’s been a whirlwind time. Soon I’ll have the energy and spirit to put it on the blog, but for now it’s too painful. There are lots of ways to grieve aren’t there? And it is so non-linear…..

    1. Oh Susie, how unutterably heartrending, I am so very sorry for your loss. Be gentle with yourself, grieving is such a complex and unpredictable territory.

  9. Hi Janet, sorry to hear you had a relapse but very glad to hear you’re on the mend. Take it easy and wishing you a speedy full recovery so you can garden in full swing again :)

    1. Thanks guys! Did some planting yesterday, so things improving massively. Greenhouse pottering today. Look forward to more tales from Portland!

  10. Hi Janet. lovely to hear from you! I was looking for you just the other day, thinking I must have missed some posts. My sister has ME so I can imagine how you were feeling and it’s great news you are feeling better now. Hope it lasts! Look forward to seeing more of you and your garden when you’re up to it, but that hammock does look rather inviting! I think your day lily is the same as my unnamed one… any ideas on its identity?

    1. Hi Cathy, sorry to hear your sister is engaged in a similar battle, it is a wretchedly annoying and frustrating illness. I need to check labels for the daylilies, I planted them but then didn’t write up my notes!

    1. Hi Nic, how lovely to hear from you, thank you, I do seem to have turned a corner again, definitely beginning to take an interest in the world – and my garden.

  11. That first picture is great Janet – well, the others are good too, of course! Your recovery analogy was very apt and meant we could easily visualise how gradual a process it was. The garden will have progressed so much whilst you have been oblivious to what was happening there and yet you have not once mentioned that there will be catching up or overhauling to do – well done for taking it in your stride and accepting that this is how it has had to be. It is good to have you in our midst again, Janet – welcome back! :)

    1. Thanks Cathy, though I have to admit to having got a little demented the other day about all the things I wasn’t able to stay on top of! I have decided to just enjoy the pure white of the bindweed flowers and get the glysophate out later ;-) It is very good to be back, I’ve missed you all!

  12. Oh, Janet, I’m sorry you’ve been in such a long relapse but glad that at least it was for all those lovely reasons. You describe the sailing trip so lusciously — and I love your description (complete with visual aids) of what it’s like to unfurl again. You nailed it. Hang in there! Best wishes for strength and stamina. And in the meantime I hope you have some decadent favorite drink to enjoy while in the hammock — the kind that requires a bend-y straw and a little paper umbrella.

    1. Hi Stacy, it was worth the payback to have had so much fun, but the recovery process is still always frustrating, isn’t it. Am now wondering where I could get a long enough bendy straw to reach from ground to hammock… Hope you are still doing comparatively well! May we both gain and maintain the stamina to live full and rich lives!

  13. It is lovely to hear from you again, I am so sorry to hear you have been brought so low with ME. It is an awful thing, my son had it when he was young and missed 3 month’s school so I know how debilitating it is. Take it easy and enjoy your hammock; your own garden is the most healing place in the world. I hope you have lots of lovely, warm lazy days to enjoy it.

    1. Hi Chloris, so glad to hear your son recovered, its a beast of an illness, but you are right, my garden is a key part of any recovery.

  14. Hi Janet: I’ve been thinking about you. I’m glad you had a great time with family and friends before the ME hit, but sorry you had to go through that. A couple of my extended family members have it, and they describe similar symptoms. Glad you’re back–I missed you!

    1. Hi Bath, I am always amazed at how many people know someone – or more than one someone – with ME. Thank you for missing me! It is so very good to be back. I hate getting out of touch.

  15. I’m glad to see that you had a good few weeks but sad to read that it came at such a cost health wise.
    I hope that you’re now feeling better and able to enjoy all aspects of gardening again, as well blogging about it.
    Happy gardening, and enjoy some lazy days in that hammock. xx

    1. Hi Flighty, they were glorious weeks, and really, its not taken as long as I had feared to start getting back to my version of normal. I even managed to plant some plants that have been hovering in the pot ghetto for weeks now, and it very kindly rained over night to help settle them in.

  16. It’s good to see you back Janet and I had wondered where you had got too.
    Sorry to read about your relapse, such a shame after a wonderful time spent frolicking with friends and family.
    Glad to read you are on the mend and it’s good advice just to take it slowly. No point in running before you can walk, so to speak. Lovely pictures and couldn’t believe it when I read you had a pink geranium beside the geum, I made that mistake last year! Not a good luck is it?

    1. Hi Angie, thank you, it is good to be back! That pink geranium is going to be re-housed once the weather improves again! A case of miscommunication with fil, who brought it for me from the old garden…

  17. Pleased you have dirty fingernails again, Janet – if you see what I mean. I’m embarrassed (and a little bewildered) to say that I’ve never been sailing. Your description had me reaching for my bosun’s whistle, cutlass and parrot. Seeing as friends have a small dinghy I really have no excuses. Now then, budge up would you – your hammock is calling to me too. Dave

    1. Hi Dave, don’t be embarrassed – just go! Its a lovely way to enjoy the coast, assuming your friends don’t put you off by taking you out on a really windy day! Plenty of room in the hammock, we can have a competition to see whose fingernails are flithiest… I’m back to having to scrub my feet before going to bed each night thanks to my habit of wandering around barefoot as much as possible. Its amazing how much gardening you can do in bare feet, the joy of raised veg beds!

  18. Janet it’s so nice to see a post from you, I’d been wondering if all was well and had hoped your silence was due to good times with family and friends, well that was part of it, so glad the worst seems to be over and you are coming back, you’re not alone with the neglected garden though some how the plants go on growing without our help, even if some are unwanted there are always the wanted ones too,
    take care, Frances x

    1. Hello Frances, I have been pleasantly surprised at how well both garden and greenhouses have survived without my attention. Just the bindweed and cleavers creating chaos. Nothing too overwhelming, thankfully!

  19. Gorgeous photos, Janet – your sea view takes me right back to my pre-London days when I was lucky to live by the coast with friends who sailed regularly. (On sunny breezy days, I miss a life by the sea and sailing.) That hammock looks a very inviting spot to dwell on what needs to be done in the garden. At least you have a good reason for your garden needing attention (although it looks very colourful to me) – I have today reached a point where there is such a lack of water available to my plants that I’m wondering how best to continue! It takes a lot of my energy to look after the community garden, especially when it comes to tidying and watering (currently rolling out 4 hosepipes to a distant tap) so I can empathise with the need to pace yourself!

    1. Hi Caro, thank you! That watering sounds exhausting, I hate having to get just one hose out, and then coil it away again, let alone 4. There must be days when you just don’t want to bother. I didn’t realize you are a fellow sailour. I had pretty much given up hope of getting out in a dinghy again, so I am thrilled to have been out three times this year already, and am definitely hoping for more of the same once I have recovered a little more.

  20. I wondered why I hadn’t seen you on twitter or read a post. It must be so frustrating. I’ve have bouts of illness which sap me of my energy and zest for life and I hate it so I understand a little of how awful ME must be. I’m exhausted at the moment so trying to make sure I get plenty of sleep and good food to keep me going. The problem for me is work is like famine and feast and at the moment everything has come at once.
    How fabulous to be able to go out sailing. I don’t sail but have always wanted to – I just love the sea so much.
    Some fantastic colours in your garden and I’m loving those dahlias. So pleased you’re regaining your energy. x

    1. Hi Lou, must be hard to manage the feast and famine of your work life, I have a small taste of it with the web work I do when health allows, you have to (mostly) say “yes” when work is offered because its all so unpredictable. I’m currently working my way through old clients converting their sites to mobile friendly, it makes resting more of a challenge but I am grateful for the opportunity to feel a little more normal and productive in the wider world. Keep up the sleep and good food, at least the summer veg makes eating well easy! xx

  21. Glad that you enjoyed a run of fun-filled summer days before the crash hit, and that you’re on your way back up again now, I’m sure some gently pottering in the garden can only help now that the initial panic of how much work one can always find to do has abated a little!
    I’ve been rather absent online for some weeks too; so very tired most of the time, but I am lucky that there is an end in sight (even if it may not be for a few years, ha). I hope that the scientists make leaps and bounds in their research into ME and find some solutions to make life a little easier for you.
    S xx

    1. The end in sight?! You’re such an optimist! I’m enjoying the pottering, very much, little and often works well for me. Gardening feeds my soul, and gardening in such a beautiful place is pure joy, bindweed notwithstanding. Enjoy your last weeks of life without a small person, despite the tiredness, at least the next phase of being constantly exhausted will be tempered by the adventure of living with a brand new human being! It may be a commonplace event but its still miraculous. Am excited for you!

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