Saturday, 18 October 2014

Cyling in Cornwall

Looking at the surf forecast for today I quickly realised that the charging swell would be far to much for a learner surfer like myself  but i still want to keep fit over the winter months so this morning I decided that although overcast, very windy and a bit miserable I would get out and stretch my legs on my bike.

I was lucky enough to get a new bike for Christmas and although the first few months started of well with regular bike rides, as the summer arrived I was spending every available minute in the water. Earlier in the year I completed a round trip from my house to Mawgan Porth beach and back and another cycle that was one way to Padstow both routes around 20 miles.

Wanting to explore the Cornish countryside and stick to country roads where it is safer I headed to Google maps to plan today's route. Although similar to the Mawgan Porth route this time I headed inland via Trebudannon, Roseugeon, and Colan up through St Columb Minor to Porth Beach. Up the hill to Whipsiderry Beach and then onto Watergate Bay before heading back inland along the airport road back home to Ruthvoes.

Cycle routes in Cornwall
The route was 18.76 miles and took me just over 2 hours with about half an hour of stops for photographs and to enjoy the view at the beaches. My next challenge is to increase the distance past the 20 mile mark and maybe increase it up to the 30 mile mark and reach the south coast and back!
Colan Church Cornwall
Colan Church, about 5 miles into my route and the first stop for a photo.
Colan Church Cornwall

Colan Church Cornwall

Porth Beach
Porth beach just under 9 miles from my house.
Porth Beach

Whipsiderry beach
Whipsiderry beach up the hill from Porth Beach
Watergate Bay
My favourite spot Watergate bay, I really do love it here but I think I need to start cycling a few new routes in the opposite direction!
Having a cycle computer is great to push you and keep track of things, I managed to cycle 18.76 miles with a top speed of 32.6 miles an hour which I think is the fastest I've dared to go on my new bike but with my eyes streaming from the wind i'm not sure I could go much faster but it was definitely fun! 

Luckily the weather held off from soaking me, but the winds were still pretty strong making today one of the harder bike rides I have completed. I just can't wait for the next one :@)

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

The Great Denby Bake Off

When I heard about the great denby bake off It was the perfect excuse to bake something special. When you live with just one other person you need a really good excuse to make a big cake or desert as you know that between just two people we would eat the whole thing and we can't do that too often!

Wanting to make something spectacular I decided on a recipe for banana cream pie. Now I know most people love banoffee pie topped with chocolate sprinkles but unfortunately I have an allergy to chocolate so a cream pie without the chocolate topping is perfect.

The recipe simply uses ready made pastry but as I didn't have any I decided to head over to my trusty Lorraine Pascale book and hunt down a suitable pastry recipe and settled on her honey shortcrust pastry.
Lorraine Pascale's A lighter way to bake

Lorraine Pascale Honey Pastry

Home made pastryHome made pastry
With the pastry case baked and cooled it was time to go back to the original recipe book, one of my favourites from Marks and Spencer, Grandmas best recipes to continue with my great banana bake off. 
Marks and Spencer Grandmas best recipe book Banana cream pie recipe
Banana cream pie recipeBanana cream pie recipe
I started by making the custard and to say I was a bit nervous about making custard from scratch was an understatement. In our house we have had one of those pots of birds custard powder and every time I have attempted to even make this part made custard it's gone totally wrong leaving me with an inedible, lumpy and often burnt mess.  However this recipe must be super easy, because the not only did my custard work but the recipe does actually say to strain! but my custard was so perfect and smooth it didn't need it, 
Homemade vanilla custard
With the custard cooling it was onto cutting the banana's and soaking them in Lemon juice before assembling them in my pastry case. 
Banana Pie
With the banana's neatly in place and the  custard cooled it was time to put the custard into my pie, top with cream then add the sprinkles. Although I can't have chocolate a great substitute is the use of a caramac bar.
Banana cream pie

  The pie was simply amazing but sadly there is only so much cream pie two people can eat and even this was too much for us and some sadly went to waste. Next time i'll make a desert that last longer than a few days!

Monday, 15 September 2014

The Little Orchard Cider festival at Healeys cider farm

When you hear of a cider farm putting on a music festival you know this is an event not to miss, with the cider crafters famous for their rattler cider and my favourite local bands playing I grabbed some early bird tickets and packed up the van for a weekend of camping.
Little Orchard Cider Festival

The forecast Indian Summer was well and truly on our side and the weekend was a sunny, cider fuelled success.
Little Orchard Cider Festival
The little orchard festival was a beautiful intimate festival with three music stages, two bars and a host of local food and drink on offer. With bouncy castle and circus workshops for the kids as well as tipsy tea and laughing yoga for the adults their really was something for everyone including some stand up comedy which wasn't for the easily offended but very funny and very crude.
Little Orchard Cider Festival

Little Orchard Cider Festival
This beautiful little festival had something for every taste in music from acoustic sets on the BBC Introducing stage to local west country favourites on the main stage.
Beachfield playing at the Little Orchard Cider Festival

Beachfield playing at the Little Orchard Cider Festival

Beachfield played on the main stage on the friday afternoon and were a great act to get the festival going for those arriving after work and enjoying their first pint in the sunshine.

I then got the chance to listen to the wonderful and very soulful Jonny Fenner in the BBC Introducing stage who's voice is gruff and meaningful.
Jonny Fenner playing at the Little Orchard Cider Festival

Jonny Fenner playing at the Little Orchard Cider Festival

Next up was the amazing Albert Jones who really knows how to work a crowd and another favourite of mine on the local music scene.
Albert Jones playing at the Little Orchard Cider Festival

Albert Jones playing at the Little Orchard Cider Festival

One of my favourite act's from Friday night was the incredible and moving Lloyd Yates who stomped and sang to the crowd with powerful lyrics and heartfelt songs. We then got to enjoy some bouncing ska beats from Rudi's message which clashed with the wonderful acoustic session from Gary Stringer from Reef. The finale was a bouncing electric performance from Mad Dog Mcrea with Irish beats to get the whole crowd dancing. 

Saturdays line up was equally as entertaining with the first band we watched the wonderful 'The Claze' playing their very powerful and meaning songs to an intimate crowd on the BBC Introducing stage. 

Thank you from the boys in the claze who were trying to take a selfie of the four of them with the healeys wind turbine in the background. Glad you like your 'iphone photo' and glad I could help. Below you can listen to their own song 'Mumbles'

The great thing about this festival was that it was supporting so many great artists and the BBC Introducing stage was the place to see some of these great new acts, two young ladies Frankie Davies and Sophie Stokes had voices of angels and captivated you into each song with their voices. The evening in the BBC Introducing stage was then recorded to go out on the radio next week so if anyone was there they can tune in and relive the festival. 
Cosmo Jarvis were on the main stage in the evening and were a must to see with a full live band and a mix between reggae, dub and maybe even metal? 

With the sun setting on another great night the festival was rounding up to be a great success. The proof of this to much annoyance was the lack of guest ciders by the saturday afternoon and the lack of food before the music had even finished with all the traders shutting their dogs to hungry festival goers.
Sunset at the Little Orchard Cider Festival
Sadly on the sunday we decided to leave in the morning as had lots to do at home by the end of the weekend and missed some great acts like the big sets and black friday who I know are both amazing. 
Check out the rest of my photos from the little orchard cider festival on my facebook page.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder. The story of going through TMJ and getting my bite back

Over 6 years ago I went to the doctors with ongoing joint pain in my jaw, I knew I had Temporomandibular Joint Disorder as was diagnosed many years ago when I was a lot younger and going through my first treatment of braces to straighten my teeth.

At the age of 15 I was offered the surgery on the NHS to correct my jaw to eliminate the pain, but the surgery was risky, it wasn't that common and the surgery would be done through the outside of my face cutting small incisions under my jawline to complete the procedure. My parents and I agreed that this wasn’t the right time in my life to go through this type of surgery and disrupting my education right before my GCSE’s was not going to be a good idea.

Many years later at my doctors’ surgery in Cornwall after visiting them due to more pain, I was referred to the hospital at Treliske for further investigation. I was offered a treatment of steroid injections in my jaw to reduce the pain but would need these every six months for the rest of my life whilst the pain was there. Or the more complex and longer but more permanent procedure of braking and resetting my jaw to eliminate the pain.

What is temporomandibular Joint Disorder?
With Temporomandibular Joint Disorder it can sometimes feel as if nothing is wrong and other times it can control your life. If I went to loud bars or clubs and spent the evening shouting to speak to friends the next few days I would be in agony from straining my jaw muscles. If I ate anything hard or chewy my jaw would ache, it would often lock up completely, constantly click in and out of joint or simply just cause pain. At times my jaw would even react differently to what I was asking it to do and whilst eating cereal with a spoon one day my jaw just didn't open as well as it should and the spoon hit into my teeth rather than going into my open mouth.

As well as the pain, aching and clicking there was also the physical appearance, my teeth didn't meet and I didn't have a bite. Eating out in public was also a worry I couldn't bite into thin food like sandwiches or pizza and even eating burgers would have to use a knife and fork and cut the food into bite sized pieces rather than biting the chunks of food myself.
Temporomandibular Joint DisorderTemporomandibular Joint Disorder

I had suffered from Temporomandibular Joint Disorder for years and decided to go ahead with the procedure. One of the first things that the team at Treliske asked me was regarding being from Essex! I had only been in Cornwall a few years and once I started the treatment needed regular visits to the hospital and they wanted to confirm I would be around, but I was happy here and so the treatment began.

Temporomandibular surgery
It started with having all four of my wisdom teeth taken out under a general anaesthetic, this was the first time I had ever had an anaesthetic and was pretty worried about the whole thing. The surgery went without a hitch and after arriving at the hospital at 7am was back at home just after lunch ready to recover.

After the wisdom teeth were removed I had around two years of dental work including permanent braces to move my teeth into their new position ready for the jaws new position.

4th January 2012 temporomandibular Joint Disorder Surgery
The Christmas of 2011 was a low key affair with the thoughts of the operation hanging over me. I ate whatever I wanted that Christmas and stuffed my face every day knowing the after the operation I wouldn't be eating solid food for around three months.

The morning of the surgery I was petrified, my partner had taken the time of work to be with me every step of the way and took me to the hospital. I had my pre op checks and was waiting on the ward for my time slot. All the waiting around was killing me, not able to eat or drink for hours and being full of worry about what exactly it would feel like to walk into a hospital absolutely fine and later on that day be left with a broken jaw.

As the hours ticked by I became more and more nervous over what the operation was going to do, I knew it would resolve aches and pains and make eating easier but I just didn’t know how they were breaking the jaw and I didn’t want to know until after the op and I had woken back up.
When the time came to go to theatre I was having a wobble, It was time to say goodbye to my partner and go and meet the anaesthetists. By this time I was actually really scared of what was going to happen, how long the operation would take, how much pain it was going to put me in even though I felt sick with worry I also wondered when I would next eat again, everything was rushing through my mind. As I hugged my partner goodbye there were a few tears and I was taken for a chat with the anaesthetist who calmed me down before the op.

As the anaesthetist gave me some anti-sickness drugs she then told me to start counting to 10, I think I got to about 6 before I was out for the count.
The operation took just over 6 hours, I hadn’t realised that it was going to be so long I’m glad I didn’t know to be honest as it would have just added more fear inside me. Whilst I was under several knifes my partner patiently waited outside. I had told him he had to be there when I woke up, the nurses were keeping him informed how it was all going and each time he went out for a smoke or a coffee rushed back to see if there was any news. At 7o’clock that night I remember waking up in a bed in a room not knowing what the hell was going on, where I was, why I was there. I then saw the doctors and nurses and it all suddenly came flooding back what I had just woken up from. As I was coming around they wheeled me onto the ward and before I knew it I caught a glimpse of my partner and I was over joyed.

He asked me how I was feeling and not really sure what I could and couldn't move just squeezed his hand with joy that the operation was over and it had all been a success.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder after surgery

The first night in hospital was probably the worst of my life I was attached to a drip in one hand and had self-administering morphine direct into my other hand, I was drowsy and feeling sick and feeling really confused. My partner was allowed to stay well past visiting hours and was able to stay with me until 10pm. Since we got together we have barely spent the night apart so being apart and in so much pain was horrible.

As the night rounds set in I was given more drugs, I had to use a bed pan, losing even more of my dignity and the lights were lowered. I felt like I had spent the night staring at the ceiling dosing in and out of sleep but feeling exhausted and in pain. Around 7am the lights went up and the nurses came around and injected more drugs and brought around breakfast… except my jaw is broken so I couldn’t have anything so continued enjoying my drip.

I text my partner several times through that first night at all hours and he replied each time, I did apologise for keeping him awake but he said he couldn’t sleep either. The next four days I was kept in the hospital and my partner went back to work and visited during visiting hours each day. Being in pain, tired and grumpy is one thing but doing this on a ward of loud sleepers, strange sounds and dramas you don’t get any sleep at all. All I wanted to do was come home and sleep in my own bed but I wasn’t allowed for 5 days. The second night was equally as bad as the first although I was slightly more used to the set up, noises and the nurses. This night I had drifted off to sleep but manage to pull the cannula for my drip out of my hand in my sleep. With my hand bleeding and liquid from the drip going everywhere in the bed I was then treated to new bedsheets and bed bath body wash!!! Me being the centre of the noise and drama that night. All I wanted to do was see my partner and get a hug I was finding this all really hard.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder after surgery

After 5 days it was Saturday morning and the nurses came around and made the noises that I could possibly go home so I text James my partner as fast as possible and he screamed over to the hospital with clean clothes and the biggest smile. After what felt like hours of deliberation by about 1pm I was given the news that I could go home. 
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder after surgery

I was so happy, I was put in a wheel chair and wheeled to the car and then driven home as carefully as possible as was feeling every bump in the road. James offered to drive me past the beach on the way home but I gently shook my head I just wanted to go home. The exhaustion of getting off the ward was really starting to hit me and once home I felt like I would collapse and never get up again. James sat me in the bath and washed me from top to bottom and I felt great being in my own home. I fell asleep for what felt like days, James had the following week off to be there for me and look after me but I spent so much time sleeping that I didn’t see him. He took me back to the hospital for check-ups and went back to work the following week leaving me soups, smoothies and drugs laid out for each day.  
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder after surgery

Recovering from Jaw surgery
Looking back on it now it really didn’t seem that bad but at the time I felt like things would take forever to get back to normal. I spent the first two weeks from the operation sleeping for 90% of my days, I had to have help to walk to the bathroom and felt like I was going to pass out all the time and felt so weak. After this the swelling was going down and the stiches heeling and I was able to eat liquidized food through a straw and this was getting me through. Treating myself to custards and yogurts really helped give me some energy through the sugar and I was beginning to feel normal. I was off work for around 2 months towards the end I would work part time from home before going part time in the office before getting back to normal. Although things were slowly getting back to normal I still had my jaw shut together with elastic bands around the braces and still had to drink all my meals through a straw which wasn’t much fun.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder after surgery

As the jaw heeled I was able to step down the usage of the elastics and gradually start learning to eat again. Mashed potato and gravy was a great choose as was macaroni cheese. Any food that didn’t require much strength or chewing, food that could slide straight down was well and truly on my menu.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder after surgery

I continued to recover and my jaw was getting stronger all the time and after 12 months I was very nearly back to normal. The next step was to have the braces removed and another 2 years of check-ups with the use of wearing retainers at night to hold my teeth in place.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder braces removed

On Monday the 8th of September 2014 I was signed off as a patient at the Treliske Hospital in Truro, I haven't really shared my story before and definitely haven't shared any of these pictures. I left hospital on Monday grinning from ear to ear and decided it was now time to put 'pen to paper' or rather 'keyboard to blog' and put this chapter of my life behind me. I still have to wear my retainers a few nights a week and I do still struggle to eat an apple without my jaw tiring but I am so happy to have a perfect face a perfect jaw and a perfect bite.

I want to thank the dentists, doctors, surgeons and especially my orthodontist Mr. Wenger who is just lovely and got me through the whole thing. With my straight teeth and my straight face I couldn’t be happier but it was a long journey over many years to get to the stage I am at today. It was completely worth it and wouldn't have got through it without the love and support of my partner James as well as my friends and family who looked after James when he wasn't looking after himself and spending every hour at the hospital and looking after me.
New smile after temporomandibular surgery
It was a long journey and a big chunk out of my life but was definitely worth doing and the above photo is me showing off my cheesy new smile alongside the wonderful James who stuck by me through out the whole ordeal. 

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Can I ever call myself a surfer?

Here's my story of moving to Cornwall in a pursuit to learn to surf, the ups, the downs, the injuries and when will I ever be confident enough to say I am a surfer!

Just over eight years ago I was a 21 year old living in Essex, I had grown up in Essex but always holidayed in North Devon and then eventually Holidayed in Cornwall too. I loved the beach and the lifestyle down here and with my braided hair, tattoo's and piercings I felt slightly more accepted in Cornwall then on the streets of Essex, where board shorts and flip flops were not the attire for the high street.
Mandi Brooks

When I was just 18 I took my first ever surf lessons on a camping weekend with my boyfriend and some school friends from Essex in Croyde at the Surf South West school on Croyde beach. I loved it, I was terrible, I could barely stand up on the board but I was hooked, After this I bought myself an indestructible NSP surfboard and came to Cornwall whenever I could to get in the water. I then bought myself a classic Volkswagen Beetle and continued to live in Essex taking my board and my Beetle down to Cornwall to surf whenever I could afford to.
White Beetle
After a weeks holiday near Perranporth with some friends from Essex I decided not to go back with my friends and spend the rest of my summer camping in a tent by myself on the North Cornish coast. I had to return to Essex as I was starting college to study photography in Southend but things were not what I wanted. All I could think about was Cornwall, the beaches, the lifestyle and of course the sea. As soon as college finished for the summer I was back in Cornwall for the summer. I managed to get a job in a holiday park working behind a bar with a flat on site and that was it. I was living in Cornwall, I would get in the water as much as possible and when the end of the summer came and it was time to go back to Southend College I just couldn't face going back to Essex. I was so happy in Cornwall but I didn't want to give up on my photography course either. Luckily things worked out and I was able to transfer my course and complete my HND in Digital photography at Truro college. 
Everything was now falling into place, I lived all over Cornwall from Falmouth, Penryn, Truro and then Newquay. 
Learning to surf in Newquay

My surfing was starting to frustrate me, If the waves were small and safe then it was the best thing in the world, I could stand on my board and ride the waves straight into the beach but I had the fear installed in me and paddling out back and taking bigger waves was something I never even wanted to achieve. I was happy with what level I was at and simply enjoyed the sunshine, the lifestyle and the water.

But then riding white water was getting to easy and I was getting bored and wanting to push myself further. Then began the next step of learning to surf. I decided that if I wanted to get better at surfing then treating myself to my own 'real' surf board was the next step. I bought a custard point surfboard  a 7ft 8 board and I've called him Lord. Lord of the Boards, he is beautiful and gave me a new wave of confidence. The board was lighter to paddle and instantly I was loving the board and riding waves but again I was only riding white water and needing to progress.
Custard Point Surf Board
In my quest to learn to surf I joined a local surf club at Watergate Bay run by Sophie Skinner. (Ben Skinners Sister.) It was great, it was for just for ladies and it was just what I needed. This wasn't surf lessons that are mostly offered in town where your taught simply to stand on your board this was a club for girls to progress. Getting tips on what I was doing right and wrong and giving me further confidence to believe I could do more was great. As the summer again came to an end so did the evening surf club. 

Next on my mission to learn to surf I was fortunate enough to visit friends in Fuerteventura. My friend just happened to be a surf instructor out their so managed to get some great tips and one on one tuition in warm water. This removed a lot of fear for me, falling off in warm water was fun compared to getting ice cream headaches in Cornwall and I felt full of confidence and really keen to progress. 
Surfing in Fuerteventura
However during the winter of 2012 I had planned surgery to resolve temporomandibular pain disorder in my jaw. This involved having my jaw broken in three places, a series of metal plates and screws and a lot of months recovery and pain to follow. 
Temporomandibular x-rays
I did get back in the water during that summer but I was still wearing braces and elastics to hold my jaw back in place. Any pressure put on my face under water wasn't good and I lost all my confidence and fitness. I was careful and only went in the water on very small days just to feel the salt water in my hair and the sand between my toes. 

The following year I was keen to get back into my learning to surf adventure and joined another surf club. This was an offshoot of the original ladies club that I attended at Watergate Bay but this time was held at Fistral Beach in Newquay. The club had more instructors and split the girls into more groups aimed at their abilities. Joining this club was the best thing I have ever done, getting the tuition and guidance to steer my surfing was one thing but the encouragement and confidence that bounces off the other girls is amazing. If you want to join the women's surf club you can find all the details here.

I've made loads of new friends to go surfing with and even been on end of season surf camps with the girls and not forgetting the end of summer fancy dress surf competition. Surfing was no longer getting frustrating I was slowly progressing, learning to trim waves in both directions, rather than straight into the beach and speeding up my pop up on those cleaner small waves, my confidence was growing and so I was ready to push myself further again.

Fancy Dress Surfing Newquay

Fancy Dress Surfing Newquay

Womens surf school newquay
With my certificates for surfing and getting more and more confident I was joining the 'out back group' at surf club. I couldn't believe I was actually going to get out of my comfort zone that I have been in for so long. I was taught tips on paddling out, when to wait for the set to pass, how to use rips to our advantage and even how to turtle roll on my big board. I was doing it, I was getting out back! 

But then came the next challenge, actually taking those waves from out back. Taking larger green waves was completely different to riding flat white water that pushes you along and you barely need to paddle to catch the wave. But this is where it has all gone a bit sour, I have the fear! I would get out back and just sit there, paralysed with fear of the waves rolling in.

With encouragement from the surf instructors to just go for it, enjoy the adrenaline rush, enjoy the fear I would at least start attempting to take the drops but every time I paddled for the wave I would see the height and look down the face and freak out. I would slack off my paddle and pull back off the wave every time, I thought my fear was getting out back but in fact that was the easier part, yes I would get caught in sets, and yes I would get pushed back to the beach but once out back a rest sitting on my board was all worth it but I can't get over the fear to concur those drops on waves. 

I won't give up, and I'll keep trying but I also know that my body isn't indestructible and getting hurt in a dangerous sport is all very real. I haven't had any serious injuries but I've had my fair share of bumps and bruises from surfing. If I could learn what I did wrong each time I wouldn't do it again but half the time I get back from a session bruised and beaten and I don't even know how they happened. 

An eye injury from an outback lesson, I was lucky that my eye wasn't damaged but I didn't even feel it, I got straight back on my board and started to paddle back out and it was only that another of the girls on the lesson told me I was bleeding that I knew I was injured. The black eye and swelling that popped up later in the day told me otherwise that actually it did hurt, quite a lot! But my instructor on the lesson was great aiding me with ice held in a pair of sweaty board shorts! Lol thank you Rosa Thompson, your a legend.
Surfing eye injury
Another injury, or rather an inconvenience is weaver fish stings. These little guys sit just below the sand at low tide and if trodden on give you a nasty sting. Here you can see my right foot puffed right up after a weaver sting that stopped my session.
Weaver fish sting
Bruises are a regular occurrence, usually on my knees from my cack handed pop ups but this 2inch wide bruise on my leg was impressive especially as I have no idea how it happened!
Surfing injuries
This was probably the most painful injury I have received whilst learning to surf and looks relatively minor. I stacked it off my board and my board somehow flipped sideways as I was falling, I landed with my shin hitting the rail of my board at full force. This was during the winter and in my thick 5.3 suit but the pain was intense, I hobbled up the beach and pulled off my suit, I couldn't believe that the impact of hitting my shin had split my leg. I still have a nice scar now from this one as a reminder!
Surfing injuries 
I know I've got a long way still to go to be able to call myself a surfer and a lot more injuries and fearful moments to come. But one day I'm hoping to concur that fear and take the drop and when I do will have reached the next stage of my surfing. I know other people progress quicker or slower even and although i've been trying for eight years I know the only thing stopping me is myself and that's the biggest challenge.

But until then I will continue with the surf clubs, continue meeting new friends and continue little step by little step becoming a surfer and not just a learner!
Joe Way Paddle for Life

Surfing Crantock

Beetle with Surfboards

Surfing Cornwall

Surfing Cornwall

Surfing Cornwall

Sunset surf Cornwall

Sunset surf Cornwall

Mandi Brooks Learner Surfer
If your struggling with your surfing don't give up, keep going, it's all the in between times that make it worthwhile and one day I'm hoping I will confidently be able to say I'm a real surfer.