Saturday, 24 May 2014

A Fever You Can't Sweat Out

Lately, I've been struggling with a severe case of cabin fever and it's been so bad that for a few days last week it was really getting me down. I don't succumb to it often and I'm usually absolutely fine because I'm comfortable with my own company and have enough to keep myself busy with, but sometimes I do find it difficult to be stuck in bed all alone, living this Groundhog Day life with searing hot pain screaming at me and not backing down.

Last week was one of those weeks. I was far too aware of how much I am missing out on in life, and all I wanted was to get out and go live it.

My Mum realised how miserable I was at some point (I usually keep those kind of emotions hidden well) and got me out of the house for a bit on Thursday afternoon last week. It'd been about ten days since I'd last escaped captivity; if I'd remained indoors for much longer without a reprieve I would probably have started pacing like a big cat trapped in a tiny cage at the zoo.

We ended up driving over to a garden centre not far from Oxford, for a wander around their interiors department and farm shop. It was such a beautiful day, all blue skies, sunshine, and a really muggy twenty degrees, so we decided to first take a stroll around the animal pens outdoors.

This garden centre isn't a typical garden centre. It's set out in the country on a generous amount of land, with its own pick-your-own farm that grows everything from strawberries to pumpkins, depending on the season. It has a well-stocked farm shop with all kinds of interesting and expensive goodies, a craft shop, an interiors department, a maize maze in the summer, and even animal paddocks set alongside an enormous lake lined with lush green trees.

Sadly, the lake isn't accessible from the garden centre and it's probably privately owned, but it can be seen from the path around the animal paddocks, and it makes for the most scenic, tranquil walk. I'm a big animal lover, so I always enjoy having a wander down to see them. Yes, I'm just a big kid at heart!

My Mum was armed with some carrots from the farm shop, and as soon as these Jacob's Sheep saw them, they all trotted over to us in a synchronised fashion from where they were lying in the shade!

This greedy little ram wasn't shy in asking for more carrots.

He also did a spot of modelling for the camera...

They have two Kune-Kune pigs and this grunting little dude came over to say hello. Doesn't he have a face like Ludo from Labyrinth? Just me? Okay, then.

This pony spotted the carrots from a hundred feet away, and trotted over, demanding food by tapping her right hoof a few times. There's was a sign saying not to feed the ponies, but it was hard to refuse such a polite / cheeky little pony. We did sneak her a little piece.

I fell in love with this cheeky little bull. He kept sticking his tongue out at us! And would you look at his hair cut; such a handsome boy! If I could've taken him home, I would have!

In the next paddock along were two fluffy white alpacas, and a solitary bull.

Right at the bottom is a paddock that's home to three rheas, which, if you're not familiar with them, are emu-like birds, but smaller. I got the impression that this one wanted to hurt me.

This one was much more docile, and was contentedly sitting on a nest right at the front of the fence, methodically adding more straw from neck's reach. Thankfully, there's a big enough gap between the fence of the enclosure and the fence surrounding it, to stop people harassing him off his nest.

The path continues down a little further, but the rheas are the last animals to be seen, so we turned around and headed back in the direction of the garden centre. On the other side of the path is a gazebo which over looks the lake, and we popped in so I could take a few pictures and have a quick rest.

I immediately noticed ripples dancing on the water close to the shore, and after watching them for a few minutes, I eventually spotted the large green-brown fish that created them darting about in the shallows. I think it was a trout, but my knowledge of fish is mostly limited to those kept as pets, so really it could've been anything.

The view from the gazebo is absolutely breath-taking. The lake is surrounded by banks and fields of lush green grass which stretch down in to the countryside. You can see fields of sunny yellow rape seed just beyond the trees in the distance, and all kinds of trees line the lake and the land around it; including several willows which have always been my favourite. The lake is so calm and serene, and home to all sorts of water foul including various ducks, swans and geese.

This is a view I would love to sit and paint. There's something very Pride and Prejudice about it; I can almost see Mr Darcy riding in on a horse in the distance. Instead there was just an old guy fishing from the opposite bank.

The farmyard is also home to several goats which were sheltering from the sun, and some guinea pigs. All the animals look healthy, happy, and well cared for, although the guinea pigs always seen to be stuck in their hutches even though they're in the middle of a decent sized grassy pen. The poor things should be let out and given the room to run about and graze.

I've come to the conclusion that I would be quite content to have my own little farm like this; only for pets- I wouldn't have the heart to actually send anything off for slaughter, and I couldn't kill anything myself. It would probably end up turning in to a rescue centre for every wraith and stray, so it's probably best I don't go down that road! I'd be the crazy old lady with a thousand pets!

After that ten minute stroll, I had to rest in the car because I was so wobbly. The walk had taken a lot of effort and left me feeling like the little old lady from the Tweety Pie cartoons. Haha! I did manage a quick browse in the garden centre and farm shop, though, and came out with fresh bread, strawberry shortbread (yum!), Reece's Pieces, and a really handy measuring glass for baking (like this- so convenient!), so I'd say it was a successful little outing with my Mum. It cured the cabin fever for a while, anyway!

That visit made me miss the days when I studied animal care at college. The campus was on a little farm  in the middle of nowhere, which was home to sheep and cattle, and the college's animal units housed all sorts of weird and wonderful critters from bunnies and budgies to snakes and axolotls. It involved a lot of hard work (biochemisty and mircrobiology- eurgh!) but I loved those two years. I still regret deciding not to go to uni at the last minute; I'd planned to study a foundation degree in Newquay in 2003 but got cold feet a few weeks before, and started working full time in the pet shop I had a weekend job with instead. I've regretted that decision ever since, although I enjoyed that job, but I couldn't see a way out of the rut I got myself in to.

If I ever recover from these pesky disc injuries, I want to get back in to animal care, even if it involves going back to college (or uni) in order to do so. Working with animals made me happy and content, and the eleven years of regret tells me all I need to know. I just wish it hadn't taken eight years and a back injury to wake me up. Although, I suspect, if I hadn't injured myself, I would probably still be stuck in that rut today, trapped there by fear of the unknown, and I'm thankful I got the wake up call I needed.

Do you regret any of the choices you made in life? Or the chances you didn't take?



  1. It looks like a very pretty walk! Great you got to hang out with so many animal friends. I'm sure you would be wonderful at animal care - who knows what the future may hold. Even though having a disk injury is a terrible thing, I'm sure it makes you appreciate things more.

    1. It is! So pretty and peaceful. I like to think I was good at working in animal care in the past but I should've pursued it again after I moved on from my pet shop days. I know I'm going to make up for lost time as soon as I can. I am actually grateful for my injuries because it was the wake up call I needed, and it's helped me to realise what's important and what isn't. I definitely appreciate things more now; I feel like I have such a different outlook on life these days! xx

  2. A huge HELLO from Germany! I've stumbled over your blog some time ago and enjoy reading it since then.
    Even though I had no back injuries I still recover from a stupid accident 3 years ago. Lately I booked a yoga class and since then the pain in my shoulder bone and my neck are not that bad anymore. After months filled with visits to osteopathy and physiotherapy and MRI ... it's a really good sign!
    I hope you'll recover very soon and can start living your dream life!
    After 20 years working full time with a good salary I'll start college in October with just a part time job for covering my expenses.
    Sometimes I'm so overwhelmed that I'm shaking. But it is much worse to stuck to a life that doesn't fit anymore.
    So, yeah - basically I regret for not being brave enough and to quite my job earlier. The accident was my warning sign - it took 3 years to figure that out.

    And now I'll read your Serendipity Sunday Post - which I always enjoy with a cup of tea!
    Thanks for creating this blog!!

    All the best for you! Cheer up & Keep smiling! :)

    1. Hello to you, too, and welcome!

      I'm sorry to hear you're still recovering from an accident, but it's great to hear that yoga is helping to lessen your pain. It's a very good sign and I hope you keep on improving through it. :)

      I'm sure I will get better eventually, and when I do I will make those dreams happen.

      Oh, wow, that's fantastic that you're going back to college! You've already taken the hardest step in making the decision to go down a new path, and I bet it'll be the best decision you've ever made! I agree that being stuck in a life you're not happy with is awful, and you're very brave to start again. I was always too scared of starting afresh and I got stuck in a rut for years, and it took my injuries to make me see sense, too. It's funny how our minds work, eh?

      I'm so glad you enjoy my Serendipity Sunday posts! :)

      Thank you! I wish you all the best with your injuries and college course! Good luck! :)

  3. I'm glad you got out for a change of scenery and what a wonderful place to visit! Who knows what advances in medicine there'll be in the next few years? I sincerely hope you get to care for animals again one day. x x

    1. Thanks, Leah. So am I. I just enjoyed being out of bed for a while. I've not given up hope that things will get better and that the NHS might actually try to help me, and I do hope that I can get back on my feet in the not too distant future and get back in to animal care. I know that I will as soon as I'm able to. xx

  4. I'm glad you managed to get out and to such an amazing place I love all the pictures too the bull is so handsome xx

    1. Thanks, Rachel. So am I! I wanted to adopt the bull and bring him home with me. xx


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