Saturday, 24 November 2012

Woodland Walk

Solitude is like medicine to me.

I like the company of others, don't get me wrong, but spending time alone, especially in nature, is something I find priceless.

I recently walked to a nearby wood which is part of the the Woodland Trust - a charity I've just joined. The wood was Wither Wood in Denby Dale, West Yorkshire.

There's something about being in a wooded area which I find very therapeutic and exciting. I can remember repeatedly watching Robin Hood Prince of Thieves when I was a boy. I loved how it was good guy V bad guy in a wood.

Did I want to be Robin Hood?

Damn right I did!

When I finally arrived at my destination (which was at 11am - I set off at 8:30am) the first thing I did was sit on a bench and pour myself a hot drink from my flask. I'm not a fan of flasked tea - is anyone? - so instead of tea or coffee I decided to put in half a cinnamon stick and a spoon full of honey.

I drank nearly all of it whilst looking over the valley and listening to my surroundings.


The sun shot golden rays through the almost bare canopy, silhouetting a couple of squirrels as they sat on branches eating acorns. Blue tits, great tits, coal tits, black birds, magpies and robins all came to pay me a visit and to sing me their own version of nature's song.

Dog walkers plodded past, always commenting on how amazing the morning was. Their dogs bounced ecstatically ahead, not getting too far without stopping and turning around to make sure their masters were following.

I set off walking again and did a tour of the wood, which took about an hour. The ground was carpeted with yew tree needles and sycamore and oak leaves. It was very boggy in places but this seasonal rug seemed to soak it up, adding a spring in my step in the process.

Held in my hand was the Woodland Trust Leaf identification swatch book; a free gift when you join the charity. This made it so much easier to identify the trees who were keeping me company on my tour.

For about ten minutes I stood and watched three squirrels in one oak tree. One of them was staring at me barking and screaming. I wasn't even anywhere near, but I must've come across as a threat. Have you heard a squirrel bark? It's a strange noise. Not something you expect coming from such a creature. It kind of sounded like a depressed firework without the bang. . . if you can imagine that.

Later on in the day when I was telling my family about my little trip, I was surprised that both of my sisters asked the same question: What music did you listen to?

Anybody who knows me knows how much I love music. But there's a time and place for it. And walking in nature isn't either of them.

I can't imagine sticking my earphones in and ignoring the sounds of nature. How much I would've missed if I had!

For me, a walk is very much a sensory treat. My senses come alive and anything mental which may be taking up space, soon evaporates. This is why they recommend a walk in nature if you suffer from a mental illness or if you just 'want to get a way from it all'.

If you would like more information about the Woodlands Trust, visit:

You could be helping a lot by joining for less than £3 a month.

Happy walking. :-)

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Honesty and Muffins

Today, a work colleague told me about something which had recently happened to her.

Diane returned to her car to find somebody had clipped her wing mirror. The actual mirror hadn't smashed and she luckily found the back cover lying in front of her car intact. It simply just had to be fastened on.

I best mention here that Diane is a postal worker, and sometimes we postal workers will use our cars to navigate around our deliveries. This is what she was doing on this specific day. After discovering her wing mirror had been hit, she got in her car to move it to her next stop. As she parked her car a driver pulled up behind her so close that she had no room to manoeuvre.

'Great,' she thought, 'he has blocked me in.'

A young West Indian man got out of the car and approached her.

Not knowing what to expect, Diane was a bit stunned when he said, 'Excuse me, did I clip your mirror back there?'

'Somebody did, yes,' she said.

He had followed her to own up and he fixed it for her there and then. He even offered her money for a new one but she refused.

One more thing to mention about Diane is that she had made a batch of double choc chip muffins which she was selling at £1 each to raise money for Children in Need.

'I'll tell you what you can do for me,' she said to the young man, 'you can buy a muffin for a pound. The money will go to Children in Need.'

To which he happily did.

'You know,' she said to me, 'I really want to stress that he was black. Young black lads get a lot of bad press. What he did really comforted me.'       

It was a nice story, then she added, 'And out of my £5 ingredients, I made £105 for charity.'

Well done, Diane J

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Spiritual Healing

I received a text at the beginning of the week asking if I could attend a spiritual healing group for moral support.

A random request, but I accepted.

It was being held at a local spiritualist church. I've never been to one so I had no idea what to expect. All I knew (or thought I knew) was that these churches trained people to communicate with the deceased.

They were like bootcamps for psychics.

With only minutes to spare, I walked into the small church, had a pee in the gents and made my way to the main hall where I saw my acquaintance sat in a circle made up of nine people; all of which were over fifty-five. She smiled and stood up to greet me and thanked me for coming.

'I've no idea what to expect,' I whispered.

'Me neither,' she said. 'You might get some healing though.'

'I'm cool with a bit of healing.'

She told me to fill in a 'Patient form'. It asked for basic details like name, address and why I was there. For that section I simply wrote, 'moral support'. I couldn't think of anything that needed healing. I looked up from writing and noticed a small grey-haired shih tzu walking around the place. It walked over to me and I gave a it a little stroke. It sniffed at my leg for a while before making itself comfy in it's little basket at the front of the hall.

Psychic dog? I thought. I've heard about those.

I joined the group and sat down. Everybody stared, like when you walk into a local pub when you're not a local.

I smiled.

In the centre of the circle was a tall table with a lit candle and a book of names.

A thin lady with short grey hair stood up and said we were to begin. It was time for the introductory prayer. We were told to shut our eyes and lower our heads.

A song started from the sound system. Soothing vocals and harmonies. It had a very Irish feel to it.

'Oh Father,' the lady said, 'thank you for giving us this opportunity to heal. May your healing energy surround us and support us. May your protection reach every being. May you bless the animal kingdom. May you give us strength and guidance in our lives. Ahmen.'

The lady and another, one who looked a few years younger and spoke with a geordie accent, got up and each stood behind a different person with their hands resting on the sitting person's shoulders. Everyone had their eyes shut. A part from me, of course. When the prayer was complete I was ready to stretch until I saw that everybody was motionless. My bad.

So I shut my eyes and began to meditate.

The Irish music was constantly on in the background. I really enjoyed it. I must ask them for the CD afterwards, I thought.

The two healers spent about six or seven minutes with each person. When it got to my turn, the geordie one came and sat next to me.

'Do you know what to expect, love?' she whispered. She was leaning on her knees with her elbows. Her eyes were super green.

I said I didn't have any expectations.

'Well, you might experience heat or a tingling sensation. You might have a healing crisis . . .'

A healing crisis? That doesn't sound good.

'For example,' she continued, 'if you have a cold, your symptoms might worsen afterwards. But they'll soon balance out. It's the same with any healing. Basically, healing energy is going to come from the spirits, through me, who's acting like a channel, and into you.' She smiled.

'OK,' I said. 'That's fine.'

She got up to start then sat back down again. 'You don't mind being touched, do you?' she added.

I shook my head - but I guess it depends where, I thought. I didn't want to have that kind of crisis.  

So I shut my eyes and she stood behind me with her hands resting very gently on my shoulders.

The music had stopped at this point so I could hear everything in the room:
  • Stomachs bubbling and churning.
  • The woman opposite me had leather shoes on. Her legs crossed at her ankles. She was rubbing them together making an annoying squeaky noise. ('WOMAN, I'M TRYING TO BE HEALED HERE!)
  • Then the fireworks started outside. Mainly rockets followed by the occasional explosion.
  • A boiler that kept on starting and stopping every forty-five seconds.
  • The round man in the circle tried clearing his throat discreetly but ended up choking himself.
  • The shih tzu snored like a trooper in the background.
It's strange where your mind takes you when you're keen for stillness. It'll do anything but be still.

That dog. Because I could hear it snoring my attention got diverted to that damn dog.

'If I had a shih tzu, what would I call it?'

Gav, you're supposed to be thinking about not thinking. Silence!

'I think I'd call it Sue.'

Gav . . . stop it . . .

An image of myself in a field with the dog popped into my head.

'If it wouldn't poo and I was losing patience with it, I'd shout "Shit, Sue!"'

A massive grin appeared on my face which I couldn't hide at all.

The healer took her hands off and I was ready to say thank you and get up, but she replaced them onto my chest for a couple of minutes.

Then it was over.

I opened my eyes and said thank you. She asked if I would like a glass of water to which I said yes.

My acquaintance smiled at me, who was having healing done at the same time.

Despite the inappropriate canine thoughts, I was relaxed and felt good.

Now it was time for the closing prayer.

This time it was the geordie lady who stood up to speak.

'Oh Father,' she said, 'thank you for all of your healing energy hear today. Thank you for touching every one of us. May your protection continue to reach every being on the planet. May you continue to give us strength and guidance in our lives. Ahmen.'

We all said thank you to one another and got ready to leave.

'You're always welcome,' said the thin lady with short grey hair.

'Thank you,' I said.

It was a nice experience. How much healing I received, I have no idea.