Life & New Ventures

I've been wanting to write a post for quite a while but most of my energy have been used on getting my Photography website up & running. Plus my body has been kindly reminding me that I don't need any other reason than that I have Chronic Illnesses to feel rubbish. I feel like I'm getting a nice balance of activity & rest, yet this past week or so, I've not felt great.

But anyhow, let's get down to the subject at hand...

At this time of year, many people are setting goals, getting into the the whole "New Year, New Me" mind set & looking back over the past year & remembering everything they've accomplished! I'm most definitely not a "New Year, New Me" person, I never have been.

New years always make me anxious, especially since my M.E diagnosis back in 2013, not knowing what the coming year has in store health wise isn't fun; Will this be the year I begin to feel somewhat better? or will this year be worse than the last?

As for reminiscing over the year that has been.. I'm not a fan really of that either. Although there are somethings from 2017 I would like to remember, like getting to The Photography Show & having one of my photographs in a gallery there & making it Edinburgh for a week. Most of my 2017 was spent trying to recover from the Herxes I had in April & May thanks to a Specialist overdosing me on a medication that was suppose to kill the Epstein Barr Virus in my nervous system but ended up almost killing me! I'm still to this day left with a slight stammer that arrives when I'm over exhausted.

I am both incredibly proud of myself for surviving 2017, for not giving up despite of what I have experienced regarding my health & very happy to see the back of that year! It's the latter feeling that moved me to get 2018 off to a good start! So on the Monday 1st January I launched my Photography Website & offered a selection of my photographs for sale!

copyright Chibirdart.

It's something I have been thinking so much about for a year or more, in fact I think I've been toying with the idea since I completed my Photography Specialisation. It's the biggest step I've taken regarding my photography since completely the course & on launch day I felt really nervous publishing my announcement blog posts & posting about it on my Social Media Accounts. Now it's out there, I'm really excited to see how my work does over this next year.

{shameless plug coming up...] If you'd like to take a look at my site & even buy one of my photographs, please head over to Lo Elizabeth Photography

As for my health & recovery, going into 2018, everything is staying the same. Since stopping the Bioresonance, I've gone back to the tried & true form of "treatment" that of pacing & planning out my activity. I have a weekly routine written out in my planner which I am trying hard to stick to & within that routine I have "goals" that I try to accomplish, such as getting dressed a certain number of times a week, taking photos or doing some writing for this blog & my photo blog.

Writing it all down is helping me to feel like I'm still doing something to help manage my main condition, M.E, as since I stopped the Bioresonance {although I knew it was the right thing for me to do} a small part of me, that annoying little voice in my head, kept telling me that I'd given up & was no longer actively trying to get better.

from Word Porn Facebook Page.

However, the best way to manage M.E is purely by resting & pacing, so my weeks are planned out around my rest days...

Mondays & Fridays are bed rest & shower days. {Due to a busy month of March, I'm also in bed on a Wednesday until April, I need all the energy I can get to survive that month!}

From the days I have left, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays & Sundays, I have a mixture of getting dressed, being downstairs, venturing in the garden to take photographs, having a visitor, going to appointments & simply just getting out of the house for a little while.

These days are more beneficial for my Mental health than my M.E since the activity causes Post Excursion Malaise & this is why I have bed rest days to break up the week & help me rest properly before & after any activity I may be doing - big or small! However, the bigger activities, like appointments or even having a visitor, are limited to one per week & then the other day's activities will be more along the lines of getting downstairs for the day & other "basic" daily tasks.

Although I have always functioned best when I follow a routine {I'm a creature of habit thanks to my OCD} I admit at times this can all be really frustrating & I miss having a spontaneous aspect to my life but I know as time goes on, it will be worth it.

So it'll be interesting to see how this year pans out both regarding my health & my leap into selling my photographs.

I hope you are all as well as can be & your 2018 is getting off to the best start it can.

Take care,

L x

Photography Website Launch!

{Hello everyone, I hope you're all okay, this is a quick announcement type post, I really wanted to write a more personal post for this blog but I just haven't been well enough. Once I have more energy, I'll write more on this & also a life/year over view post}

I have a Photography Website!

Home Page

I've been toying with the idea of setting up my own photography website & selling my work for quite a while. I've held back due to lack of confidence more than anything, I was just not sure if my work was good enough, if anyone would actually want to buy anything.

However, despite that lack of confidence, I found my curiosity took over & I began researching which website provider would be best for me & which printing labs they used. I even picked up information on a couple of them while at The Photography Show back in March.

Uploading Photographs

Then last month I posted a photograph on my personal Instagram & one of my friends asked if they could buy a print of it. I then realised that maybe people might like some of my work enough to want a copy of it. So I began to plan out my site; how I would like it look & feel, what photographs might be good to have for sale & also the cost of it all.

I finally settled on Smug Mug as my provider for a few reasons but the main one is that the print lab they use for the UK is Loxley Colour & I've been using them for almost three years now. Their products are good quality & their delivery time is brilliant so I wanted to make sure that if I was to start selling that I could still use them as I know that my customers would be getting great quality products. My discount via being an N-Photo subscribe was a nice bonus!

So last week I signed up to Smug Mug & began to build my website. I wanted something that was fuss free & clean looking. I remembered at a Pro Photographer Masterclass I attended that a couple of photographers mentioned that they had their sites set up to look very similar to Instagram in how the photographs were presented, it gives the site a familiar feel. So I decided to go for a similar look myself & I really like how it's turned out as the photographs are nice & easy to view.

Key wording - A necessary but long job.

I've found Smug Mug really straight forward to use as they section each element you can add into "Content Blocks" so you just simply add the blocks you want & tweak them to how you want them to look. Adding photographs to the galleries is quick too, with a drag & drop facility, the only long job I've found was adding keywords to the photographs once they're in the gallery.

I was also very impressed with their customer service, not long after I'd signed up I received an email from one of their team introducing themselves which was lovely & when I contacted them regarding a price list query, they were very quick to get back to me, despite the time difference {they're based in the US}.

Overall I'm really happy with how my site looks & I'm even happier that I've decided to give selling my work a go!

Galleries


If you'd like to have a look at my site, then please click the link below:

Lo Elizabeth Photography

I'd love any feed back you have on the site. I've tried to add a nice selection of different types of photography for sale, ranging from Macro to Landscape. I plan to go through my catalogue of photographs & add more as time goes on but I think what I have on there is a good starting point.

I want to thank you all so much for all the support you've given me this past year, especially over on Instagram & Twitter. I hope this coming year is a good one for you all!

I hope you're all as well a possible & have survived the past week's holiday.

Take care,

L xxx

"Turtles All The Way Down" - An Anxious Adults Thoughts

You reach for your cup of tea to take a drink only to be greeted with a view of the bottom of your mug. You're filled with disappointment as you realise you've drunk your tea faster than you were wanting to. I experience that disappointment on a regular basis where drinking tea is involved but I also feel that same level of disappointment when I reach the end of a book that I simply don't want to end!

I had that feeling when I reached the end of John Green’s new novel, "Turtles All The Way Down." I've been a fan of John & his brother Hank for many years, their YouTube channel "Vlog Brothers" is one of my favourites & one of the few I've been subscribed to since the beginning of YouTube. As for John as an author, I consider him among one of my favourites & "The Fault in our Stars" is a "go to" book of mine. However, it has been quite a number of years since John has written anything new & in my opinion it was worth the wait; As an anxious adult I adored this story.

"Books belong their Readers" - John Green

In my mind, this book kind of has two storylines which as the book goes on come together.:

There's a mystery to solve which slowly draws you in more & more with each turn of a page & you can’t help but try to figure it out before you reach the end of the book, all the while becoming invested in the characters, their friendships & a wanting to know that they’ll be okay.

Then we have the story of John's main character, Aza Holmes who lives with OCD/Anxiety. As you follow her story you learn what it's like to live with the Mental Condition & how it impacts on the relationships she has with the people around her, her friends & Mother in particular. The two storylines intertwine around the friendship Aza develops with a boy called Davis Pickett.

Massive thank you to Penguin for sending me this fabulous little Turtles Notebook! {I purchased my own copy of the actual book from Waterstones}

The way John has captured Aza's mental struggle was interesting to me because along with my physical conditions, I also live with & struggle with Anxiety & OCD tendencies. So I found the way John wrote her thought processes, mental battle with herself & feelings quite relatable, right down the her habit of pressing her thumb nail into her middle finger. {something I do} Her internal dialogue & fight to not give into her intrusive thoughts & thought spirals power over her actions also resonated with me.

Aza's Anxiety also gives rise to the idea of what makes a person a person; if we are separate from our thoughts & if the terms "you" & "I" are really correct when referring to ourselves in singular form. I also found it interesting that John gave Aza the fear of the fact that she might be fictional, she fears she isn't real as she doesn't feel as she is in control of her own life. These powerful subjects mainly arise when we listen in to Aza's therapy appointments. For me, those sections of the book are the most interesting, especially when they discuss English language & how it often fails us when we are trying to describe how we feel & the pain we may be in.


Even though "Turtles" is a Young Adult book, as an not so young anxious Adult, I found it an interesting & compelling read. As much as I try not to, I can't help but compare it to "TFiOS" as that is just as relatable for me. I felt that "TFiOS" did flow a litter better than "Turtles" but for me, that is the nature of my Anxiety & intrusive thoughts, it gives me an almost disjointed feeling at times, a feeling of going from one thing to another with not much ease or flow & the occasional shake of the head to try & rid myself of a thought I don't want to think.

As much as I would recommend reading "Turtles" my recommendation comes with a caution: I did find it a bit Anxiety triggering in some places & I found myself feeling as anxious as Aza. So if you're planning to read this book but you have Anxiety, just beware that it could make you feel that horrible sick to your stomach feeling only someone with Anxiety can understand.

"The thing about a spiral is, if you follow it inward, it never actually ends. It just keeps tightening, infinitely."

I hope if any of you are thinking of reading this, you do pick up a copy as it's a good read whether or not you have anxiety as there's someone for everyone, especially if you like a good mystery. I feel it's lived up to the hype it's gotten & I just hope John Green doesn't make us wait another 6 years for another new book from him!

As a final note on this book, I want to say a big thank you to John Green for this story & for taking the time to include at the back of the book a list of a number of organisations in numerous countries which can offer help to anyone who may be dealing with similar issues to Aza. This was such a lovely, caring thing to do & I found it very touching.

If any of you have already read "Turtles" I'd love to know what you thought of it. Please feel free to leave me a comment below or head over to my Twitter where we can have a good old natter.

"Don't Forget To Be Awesome!"

Take care,

L x

Weight & Medication

{This has turned into a longer post than I intended but I wanted to give some background along with my weight & medication issues now. So grab yourself a drink, snuggle up & if needed, pace yourself while reading this.}

{Disclaimer: This is my experience, everyone is different & medications can effect people differently. Always consult your Doctor before making any changes to your Medication}

Since being a teenager, I've struggled with food & controlling my weight. I can remember going from surviving a school day on nothing but a bottle of water, an Orange & a Kitkat to binging & comfort eating when I was in my early twenties while struggling with stress & Depression.

So when I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism at 22 years old, it made controlling my weight harder but not impossible, especially when my TSH & T4 levels went back to normal once the medication kicked in. However, as I mentioned above it was at this time I was struggling with a few issues & as a coping method I began to comfort eat.

Fast forward 4 years & I had left my job, one of the main causes of my stress & I decided I needed to do something about my weight. I'd previously tried Slimming World & Weight Watchers but I barely lost anything, so I did it the tried & true way; I calorie counted & worked out until I'd lost 6 stone! I carried on watching my calories & working out a lot to help maintain the weight I now was. 

It was at this time that I really knew something was wrong with my health as you'd think I should have been feeling incredibly good for dropping all that weight, but I wasn't. Eventually I was diagnosed with M.E & told to slow down, which meant I had to stop working out. However, as the M.E worsened, I began to lose more weight due to my body not absorbing nutrients properly, losing my appetite & struggling with nausea which meant I had to force myself to eat each day - having medication to take to for my Thyroid, Anaemia, to help with pain & nausea helped encourage me to do this.

Copyright 2017 Louise Elizabeth Shepherd

Fast forward again a couple of years while having Bioresonance & I found I was seeing small improvements with my weight. Now I'm only 5ft 2inch so being lighter weight wise is much better for my frame & height, plus it means less weight on my painful joints & muscles. But as I'd lost quite a bit due to being really sick, I didn't mind putting on a few pounds as I felt quite boney at one point, even though I never really looked it.

However, at the end of last year I had put on more than I really wanted but I wasn't entirely sure how since I wasn't over eating. Then all was made clear after a routine blood test; my Thyroid levels were out after being fine for a good 10 years & this was the cause of my weight gain. I then spent the next 9 months having blood tests every 3 months & having my Thyroxine increased until in May of this year my Doctor was finally happy with my TSH & T4. Not long after that I had all the Herxes & I barely ate anything for a good couple of weeks, just enough to take my medication & yet I lost no weight, in fact I put a bit more on.

I found this completely baffling & since a number of years previous I had lost a good 3 stone mainly with Calorie Counting before I upped my work outs, I knew I shouldn't have been putting on weight. I wasn't sure what to do as working out for me now is a major no no & even my trusty detox Green Tea wasn't shifting the weight like it had in the past.

Then I came across a post on an M.E Support Facebook page asking if anyone else had experienced weight gain while taking Naproxen {the pain killer I was taking 3 times a day} & I was surprised firstly that someone had linked weight gain to Naproxen as it was the last thing I would think of as contributing my weight & secondly, how many other people were saying it made them gain weight too!

Copyright Almaz A Source: Instagram

So I did the one thing you're told not to & began to Google Naproxen & came across so many more people who were/had been taking it & found they put on huge amounts of weight in a short time. I also read up on the chemical make up of the drug & it's basic make up is linked to Salt. So from what I understood, this means it can make you retain water & this seems to be the reason for the weight gain.

Up until the past year, I wasn't taking Naproxen as regularly, it was my "last resort" medication as I didn't like taking it as I don't handle certain pain killers well {including Naproxen} & so I would just manage on paracetamol & Ibuprofen. Then I found my pain worsened & I ended up on Naproxen twice a day at first & then my Doctor upped my dose to three times a day after the Herxes as my pain level was much higher. It was at this point that I really noticed how quick I was gaining weight despite my low calorie intake. Yes, like everyone I would enjoy the odd take away & sweet treat but not at the amount that would cause me to gain weight so quickly!

So I made the decision to come off of the Naproxen at the end of August & go back onto Ibuprofen. I was back down to two a day by this point & even though Naproxen isn't addictive at all, I decided instead of suddenly stopping it, I decided to gradually lower my dose over a couple of weeks. This would give my body time to adjust to not having as much of it & time for me to adjust to the new level of pain I would now be experiencing. Naproxen did a pretty decent job of masking my body's pain & I knew the Ibuprofen didn't do that as well.

I did a week on one Naproxen at night & Ibuprofen during the day. Then I went down to one a day, miss a day for a week & then I came off the Naproxen & back fully onto Ibuprofen. The first week was pretty rough pain wise & it took a little bit of getting use again. Now I can definitely tell when I'm ready for my next dose but for the most part I'm dealing with my pain level better than I was when I first began to come off it. But the extra weight isn't good my body & I also feel better in myself when I'm lighter so personally, coming off the Naproxen & dealing with a higher pain level is the lesser of two evils.

I've not been fully off Naproxen for a month yet but I've already dropped 7lbs, granted I've also made some massive changes to my diet in this time as well as I'm back to counting calories more closely than I was & I'm now Gluten free & I've lowered my Wheat, Dairy, Egg & Meat intake as well, which I'm sure has contributed to the weight loss I've seen. That being said, I'm certain coming off Naproxen has played a massive part in this. Once my Thyroid levels were stable, I tried to lose weight but barely lost anything {remember I lost 6 stone with a medicated Underactive Thyroid} all the while continuing to take Naproxen & being really baffled as to why I was gaining weight. Now I've come off the Naproxen while watching what I'm eating, I've lost more weight since the end of August than I have in this past year when I've tried too!

I'm sorry this has turned into a much longer, more detailed post than I intended & if you've made it this far, I'm very grateful you have, well done! The reason I've ended up writing this much is that I hope my experience with weight gain & medication, particularly Naproxen, will help someone else who maybe taking it too & noticing their weight is increasing for no other obvious reason.

I'm not recommending anyone should stop their medication if you feel it's causing you to gain weight, you need to do what is best for you & your body.  I struggle with body image; loving myself doesn't come easy {thanks Anxiety & Depression!} & being comfortable in my own skin, especially when I'm heavier isn't easy to do either. {those following me on Instagram may have noticed the lack of selfies in the past year or so!} But I also feel the extra weight is having a strain on my joints & muscles, so coming off the Naproxen to help me lose weight isn't just about body image & being thinner, it's beneficial to my Chronic Illnesses & my Body & I know I'm strong enough to take the higher pain level, I've dealt with it before & I'm now doing it again.

Last "Selfie" I posted in May 2016 when my self esteem was much better.

Really do hope this has been helpful to any of you out there struggling with a similar situation, please know you're not alone & if you think your medication is causing weight gain, I really do recommend consulting your Doctor before doing so, especially if you're taking anything stronger than Naproxen.

I hope you're doing as well as possible & taking care,

L xxx

Buddy Box - The Blurt Foundation

I came across The Blurt Foundation quite a while ago now on Twitter & they are an organisation dedicated to giving support to people mainly with Depression. They are a good hub of information for anyone dealing with other mental health issues, such as Anxiety & Chronic Illnesses as Mental & Physical Health can sometimes run side by side & seeking help for one, can sometimes help you manage & cope with the other.

Their website is fantastic, it's really user friendly & from the moment you see the home page, to me, it feels like a safe caring place. The tag line you're greeted with is "We are Blurt, and we're dedicated to helping those affected by Depression." You can sign up for their newsletters, which are lovely to receive; they're full of encouragement & make you feel like you're not alone in how may be feeling.

Buddy Box

Although I've never spoken about it in detail on here or really anywhere else, I do suffer with bouts of Depression & Anxiety seems to be a constant companion, so when Blurt came on my radar, I decided to check them out. The information & articles on their website are wonderful & I've especially found their free download "Self-Care Starter Kit" very helpful on the days I'm struggling mentally.

As they are a foundation, donations & sales from their shop help keep them running. The shop has lots of lovely items to purchase from colouring books to pin badges, all of which are aimed to encourage self care & help ease the daily struggle living with a Mental Illness can be. One amazing resource they sell is their very own Subscription Box aptly named the "Buddy Box". I've had this little box on my "to buy" list for a little while & in August I decided to pre-order the September box. It arrived this Wednesday & it's timing could not have been more perfect, since the day before I had gone through the most horrendous PIP Medical Assessment & receiving the Buddy Box was just the pick me up I needed.

List of Contents 

When I opened the package, I was greeted with a lovely embossed lid & when I took the lid off, the items were wrapped up with a really cute paper. The top item was a little card which had a break down of the contents of the box & also how much they cost. I really liked this as you can see what has made up the price you've paid & you know that the box isn't being over priced.

Box Contents

I have to admit, I was little overwhelmed by the quality & range of the products. Inside the box was a little postcard, water flavouring, The Blurt Foundation Zine, a pack of "You Are Enough" cards, 3 Laptop vinyls, a pen & The Little Book of Kindness. The quality of all these products are very high & you can tell that a lot of thought has gone into putting the box together.

Book & Pen

The great thing is that everything in the box is useful in some way or offers a little pick me up when you need it; For example, I've got the Pen clipped onto my planner, one of the Laptop vinyls on my Mac & the Kindness book sat on my bedside table ready to read. I've had a quick flick through it & it seems like such a lovely little book, full of useful & thoughtful ideas to spread kindness around - to yourself & others.

You Are Enough Cards

I think I mentioned this point in my "Yoohoo Mail" review, but a lot of the Subscription Boxes you can buy, although filled with lovely things, aren't always great value for money for myself, as I have quite a few sensitivities so bath or food products or highly fragrant items I can't use myself. Though they do mean that I can pass on some loveliness to others by gifting them, so that is a win & they don't go to waste. However, it is a little disappointing when you might only be able to use say one item from a box that you were looking forward to as a treat. So the Buddy Box is good one to keep on your list if you've got a numerous sensitivities like myself & are looking for a treat.

Laptop Vinyl

Overall, my first impression of The Blurt Foundation's Buddy Box is that it's wonderful & I definitely agree with how they describe the Buddy Box on their website: "A hug in a box!" At £21.50 it could be classed as a mid-range priced Subscription Box. Some may think that is a little pricey, especially for someone who doesn't work & has to prioritise what the money they have goes on & I will completely admit that I was one of those people. However, after deciding to treat myself to one these boxes, I can wholeheartedly say they are great value for money & a lovely little treat.

The nice thing is that you can buy a one off box if you don't want or can't justify committing to £21.50 every month. They would also make a lovely little gift for a family member or a friend who maybe needs a little pick me up.

If I've sparked your interest in the Buddy Box & The Blurt Foundation, I've listed below all the places you can find them on Social Media. Whether you have Depression or know someone that does, I really do recommend checking them out as the information they provide is so helpful & I'm incredibly grateful to have come across them.

Website: The Blurt Foundation
Twitter: @blurtalerts
Facebook: The Blurt Foundation Page
Pintrest: The Blurt Foundation Pin Boards
Instagram: @theblurtfoundation

I truly hope today has been a kind one to you all, please all of you take care.

L xxx

Rainbow Box Club Review

Rainbow Box Club September Box

About a month ago I received a follow request on Instagram from the Rainbow Box Club. When I checked out their feed {something I always do before accepting a request} I saw that they were a Subscription Box company due to launch their first box in September. Out of curiosity I accepted their request & followed them back.  I pre-ordered my box once they were available.

Like most Subscription boxes, you can either subscribe for a set amount of months or buy a one off box, I did the latter, which was £15. If you subscribe for either 3, 6 or 12 months, you pay £14. They also offer 10% off your first box when you subscribe to their newsletter.

So you're probably wondering what type of items are in the box & when it arrives?  Well the box arrives at the beginning of each month & according to the website each box will contain some items of stationery, prints, paper products, magnets, pens, food, jewellery & other lifestyle & homeware products.

Item List
Pretty wrapping!

My box arrived on Wednesday & when opening it up to see what I'd received, I was greeted by a bright pink package with a doughnut sticker sealing it & also an item list on the inside of the lid. I thought this was a lovely touch as it had the details of the companies where a couple of the items come from.

Sweet Treat Items

The theme of the box was "Sweet Treats" & all the items were food related. In this first box I received; a couple of planner sticker sheets, a Jammy dodger coaster, a doughnut pin, a doughnut iron on patch, tea & biscuit earrings, a print & some wax melts. Everything is good quality & just looks happy bright, which is fitting since it is the Rainbow Box Club!

Close up - Coaster, Iron on patch, pin & earrings

My favourite item is definitely the Jammy dodger coaster & the one I'll get the most use of. I also really love the little tea biscuit earrings & I'm so sad that they aren't gold as I can't wear them. So these along with the other items will be gifted to someone else as personally I won't use them & I don't want them to go to waste.

Wax Melts look good enough to eat!

I like my reviews to be as honest as possible & so a word of warning for those of you reading this with sensory sensitivity like myself, especially if you're sensitive to strong smells, the wax melts smell very strong & I've had to move the box into another room as the scent of them is a bit too much for me. However, if you're fine with stronger scents, then you'll love them!

Overall, my first impression of this new Subscription Box on the block is a good one. It makes a nice little treat for either yourself or for a friend as there is the option to gift the box to someone else. Pricing wise I think £15 {including delivery} is very reasonable, especially if you added up the cost of everything & it fits nicely in the lower end of the Subscription box market, making it a box that most people could afford as a treat now & then if you don't want to commit to a subscription, like myself.

If you're interested in purchasing your own little Rainbow Box, then head to www.rainbowboxclub.com You can also follow them via their social media pages:

Twitter: @rainbowboxclub
Instagram: @rainbowboxclub
Facebook: Rainbow Box Club Page
Pintrest: Rainbow Box Club Pin Board

Hope everyone is doing well & taking care,

L x

A Sort Of Edinburgh Adventure

At the moment we have family staying with us from away & when planning their trip a few months ago, we decided it would be nice to get away for a few days to a different part of the U.K. Our chosen place was Edinburgh & after scrolling through Airbnb for quite a while, I came across a lovely apartment for us to stay in. This was planned before all the Herxes happened & so as the going away date drew closer, my anxiety about actually surviving the trip heightened.

Now I've crossed numerous County borders & the Welsh border a couple times but in all the years I've been alive living in the U.K, I've never crossed the border into Scotland. So I was determined to get there & kept telling myself that I'd be okay if all I could do was get there & stay in the apartment.  It looked like a nice place to have M.E & deal with the Post Excursion Malaise that I would undoubtedly have from the 3 hours plus journey.

The week before we went, I pretty much did nothing but rest as much as I could as I needed all the energy & strength I could get. I made a packing list {yet somehow I still managed to forget my ever faithful long boots, which I really could have done with!} & began slowly packing a good few days earlier than anyone else that was coming so I could at least have the day before we went to rest properly.

The journey there was pretty straight forward & heading north on the M6 {my favourite stretch of that motorway} the scenery was gorgeous through Cumbria & then we crossed into Scotland & it became even more stunning & then just when I thought Scotland couldn't look any more beautiful, we came off the motorway & onto the A road leading to Edinburgh & it was breathtaking! I kinda lost count of how many times I said the word wow! From the few places I've travelled to, I've never been anywhere that I would happily move to, {I love where I live} until I got to Scotland. Even though I only saw a little bit, I fell in love!

Scotland you are Stunning!

I was so happy when we arrived at our home for the week {well 5 days} There were a number of stairs to slowly navigate going up to the apartment, which was on the first floor. However, once in, it was just as lovely in person as the pictures & was definitely as nice place to have M.E & killer PEM. I had already planned to do nothing on the Tuesday {we arrived on the Monday. afternoon} So with help, I got in my pyjamas & while the family all went out for dinner, I rested on the sofa. Once they came back, my mum helped me into bed. I was so exhausted & sore from being the car for so long.

Chester Street Apartment

Although I knew before going, I wouldn't be able to do everything I wanted, it was still hard being left on the sofa while the family went off exploring the Castle for the day on Tuesday. As much as I love history, I knew it would be a no no for me as I simply couldn't have walked all the way around it {I also stupidly left my crutches at home} So I just vegged out on the sofa trying to help my poor exhausted Mitochondria gain as much energy as possible so I could try & go somewhere on Wednesday. My amazing mum did bring me back the Castle Tour guide book, so that evening, I got to go round the castle too!

Now if you know me well or follow my personal Instagram, you'll know I love all things tartan! So my goal was to try & buy something tartan to come home with but I was a bit worried as I knew I didn't really have the energy to be in & out of shops all day looking for something. Thankfully, one of my friends came to the rescue & told me about the Tartan Weaving Mill, right next the Castle entrance. This was an absolute life saver & I messaged my mum to scout it out for me while she was out on Tuesday. Planning ahead is always a must when your chronically ill, it helps to save energy & helps the anxiety to know what a place is like before going. I also found the shops website, so I could get an idea of the things they sold & the prices.

Edinburgh Castle, taken on Friday morning before leaving.

Wednesday I had a restful morning, got ready slowly & after lunch we all headed out to the Weaving Mill. There's no way to drive right to the door, so I had to be dropped at the bottom of the hill {the start of the Royal Mile} & slowly hobble my way up with my mum's help. Once inside you are greeted with the magical {well magical for me} sight of all things tartan! From clothing, to teddies to mugs to keyrings. As we slowly wandered around I soon began to realise that having an allergy to Lambs wool & cashmere completely, in want of a better word, sucked! All the wearable items I came across were either lambs wool or cashmere & I can't wear them {the irony of this allergy is that my surname is Shepherd!}

So I'm looking around at the things that I would love to wear & we come across a sign with a list of surnames next to a table with a pile of books on it. my surname isn't on there but as I read out that "If you can't find your name here, just ask" a man appears & said "that's me" & then asked my surname. I then found out that I have one of the rarest & oldest types of Tartan associated with my Surname. {Info about it here, if you're interested: Tartan Register } So rare that you can't find it in the Tartan Weaving Mill! It's a black & white check type tartan, but he said that I could wear any type of black & white tartan because that's what my name is connected to. So I decided, that even though I wouldn't be able to wear it, I wanted a black & white tartan scarf to bring home. My mum found a lovely one & I'm going to hang it from my bookcase. {Also I already have black & white check pj bottoms, I've been wearing a version of my tartan all this time & never knew!}  I also got a gorgeous tradition teddy bear wearing Harris Tweed which was handmade in the Outer Hebrides, I've named him Wallace. After an hour or so being surrounded by all the tartan, I was taken back to the apartment to rest while the family went off our for dinner.

Sir Walter Scott's Monument.

I really wanted to get out on Thursday but decided against it, I was too exhausted & in too much pain. I also knew I had the journey home to get through on Friday, so I stayed in while the family again went off to explore. It's funny, when I'm home & it's just me & my parents, or even when I go away with my mum, I never really think about what I can't do or have that "missing out" feeling too often. But having others with us & they're going off places, it's kinda hitting me now & then how little I can do compared to the healthy people around me. You don't get a holiday from your chronic illness. But anyways, from their adventure to spy out HolyroodHouse & Arthur's Seat, I was brought back the guide book for the Palace {which I still need to read}

Part of Thursday was spent directing my mum while she packed my case & then getting a shower so I was clean & kinda shiny for the journey home. Friday morning I got ready & then my mum & my brother gave me a tour of Edinburgh so I could at see some of the old town properly & take some photographs. Seeing the Scott Monument in person was a highlight, along with stopping at a set of traffic lights right next the The Conan Doyle Pub! Then we picked up my sister in law & our cases & headed 3 hours back south down the M6, the scenery was just as stunning seeing it for a second time.

The game's afoot!

The journey home wasn't so great, pain & anxiety wise. I don't like motorway travelling at the best of times & there was a lot more traffic & trucks & stupid drivers on the way back, which didn't help & this all kicked off the adrenaline so I spent most of the 3 hours feeling pretty rough & was very glad to see home, my bed & especially my cats!

Even though I couldn't explore Edinburgh the way a healthy person can, I really did enjoy time away. Although I only managed to do something for a couple of hours on 1 day out of the 3 full days we had in Edinburgh, the change of scenery was just what I needed after the horrendous few months I've had. Yes I've had PEM {that was to be expected} from it to deal with & today is the first day I've managed the stairs & felt okay enough to sit in the living room, it was worth it.

I hope you're all as well as can be & are taking care. If you want to see some of the photographs I managed to take, please feel free to have a nosey & follow my Photography Instagram: @loelizabethphotography

L x