Friday, 31 July 2015

My Sailing Adventure: Part 2

Day 2
I woke up early on Tuesday morning to the gentle rocking of the boat, snuggled in my sleeping bag with the bright light of the morning sky shining through the small windows in me and Katy's cabin. Having never slept on a boat before; well apart from a short sleep on the ferry from Holyhead to Dublin on my way home from finishing IMRT radiotherapy, I slept surprisingly well. I guess it was from where I was baby being rocked back and forth in my mum or dad's arms, made the rocking feel natural and not like I was on an amusement park ride.

After rummaging through my 'wardrobe' of clothes tightly packed in my suitcase, Katy and I went to the shower and toilet facilities on port to get washed and dressed. This time there was no rain and crab on the dock with claws scattered across the wooden planks, but the feeling of the crisp sea air blowing in our bed head hair, and the sound of the seagulls as they glided above us in search of their breakfast.

We had breakfast on board our boat, then we gathered in the cockpit to be shown how to put on and use our lifejackets incase we went over board, and were each given our waterproof overalls and coat. We loved our matching waterproof overalls and coat, as we felt like true sailers/fishermen. Finally we were shown the key parts of the boat and then it was time to set sail for the first time.

We chartered the route we would be sailing to Port Bannatyne, just like you would before setting off on a car journey. I couldn't believe how beautiful the surroundings were, the blue sky above us, the green grassy mountains pulling away from the boat, and the sea beneath our feet. It made me think about how vast the ocean is and what it would be like to sail around the world, just like Ellen MacAruthur did. The weather was mixed throughout our journey, at times the sky was grey and the clouds full of water as is poured down on us, but it was also clear with the suns rays beaming down on Port Bannatyne. Thankfully we were prepared and had our waterproofs and sunglasses too.

As we sailed towards Port Bannatyne I spotted something grey peeping out of the water. I shouted to the Skipper Simon and volunteers who told me it was a porpoise. Then more porpoises began surfacing the water, it was incredible. I had never seen a porpoise before and I wasn't sure what they were.

For a quiet coastal village with only one post office and two pubs, Katy and I couldn't get over how frequent the bus kept going around the island. In comparison to where Katy lives, buses are practically extinct and where I live the bus only comes around twice a day to a non designated bus stop.

After we docked at Port Bannatyne Marina with the other three Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust boats, we played games on land and ate the most delicious jam filled, sugar coated doughnuts. Later that evening Ian, Caroline, Dani, Jordan, Alex, Katy and I went for a walk to see more of the beautiful island. On our walk we came across the ruins of what was once a church. The roof of the grey stoned church had fallen into itself and was submerged with greenery growing within the building, which gave an eerie feeling as if the ground was swallowing it up.

Danielle X

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

My Sailing Adventure: Part 1

I've found my new love in life, sailing. I had always wanted to try sailing, but I was never really sure how to go about it and if I would actually enjoy it. Sailing with the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust has been some of the best four days, which I still talk and think about almost everyday.

I've decided to write about my sailing adventure into around 3-4 smaller blog posts. In this first post I will be writing about the first day of my sailing adventure and what exciting activities I got up to, meeting others who have been through their own cancer journey and the incredible staff and volunteers of the trust who make the sailing trips possible.

Day 1
Monday 6th July 2015 morning, I woke up feeling both nervous and excited for the days ahead. I was dropped off at Belfast City Airport by my Dad, where I met my CLIC Sargent Social Worker Simon and the other young people from Northern Ireland who I would be joining on the trip. We flew to Glasgow and then took a taxi to Largs. The scenery during the car journey was beautiful, the rolling green hills were picture perfect and the crystal clear streams were very tranquil. When we arrived at port, we were invited to the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust office, where we met the crew, the other young people from across England and the volunteers. We then had lunch and played some introduction games so we got to know each other. We then found out who was going to be on each boat. There were four boats altogether, the boat I was on was called, Bluebird. The Skipper of our boat was called, Simon, and the volunteers were, Ian, Dani and Caroline. The young people were Jordan and Alex who were from England and Katy from Northern Ireland who I already knew. Then the exciting part (well, for Katy and I anyway), we got our branded Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust top, cap, water bottle, bag, and a sailing log book too! We were like kids in a sweet shop, full of excitement. It was then time to bring our luggage to our boats and be shown around. I must of had the heaviest suitcase out of everybody, I could just about lift it off the ground. I packed everything besides the kitchen sink, and I didn't even wear half the clothes. I guess it was better to be prepared, especially when I had never been sailing before so I didn't know what to expect. That night Katy and I went to the shower and toilet facilities on port (which were really nice and clean), we dashed out in our flip-flops and pyjamas while it was pitch black, pouring with rain trying not to slip on the dock and fall into the dark icy cold water. We came across a crab just lying there on the dock with two of its claws detached from its body. On our way back to the boat the crab was no longer there, we were in hysterics at the fact a crab with two claws missing, somehow found it's way back into the water.

Danielle X

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Sailing the Seas

I have not blogged in quite some time, therefore as to not overload you with letters upon letters, words upon words, and paragraphs upon paragraphs, I'm going to write snippets of the events I would like to share with you until you're all up-to-date.

Going back to around Friday 15th May 2015 my mum invited me along to an event with Mindfulness Belfast held in the Crescent Art Centre, Belfast. It was a Zen and Poetry Workshop which was held by Paul Haller, a Belfast man who left in the early 1970s, and after some travelling in the East he engaged with and developed a Buddhist practice. I had never been to anything like this before, so it was a whole new experience. I was intrigued to find out more about it, as I like learning about different cultures. When I was eight years old my family and I travelled to Thailand to visit my Grandad who moved from England to live there. I remember visiting the temples located up in the green hills of Chiang Mai. It was a beautiful, peaceful place, with gold detailing on the buildings and statues of Buddhas too. My mum and I joined the workshop in the afternoon when special guest Naomi Shihab Nye who is an American poet lead the poetry workshop. Naomi shared some of her poems with us, and told us stories from her life too. Ever since I was old enough to read I loved poems, I had a large bright orange book full of poems for children with cartoon illustrations. I would read the poems over and over again, and I use to trace the illustrations too as I loved art.

I have finally finished my first year of college! I submitted my last assignment for my course last Friday, which is a BTEC Level 3 in Business Management. I was allowed extra time to complete all my assignments, but now I can finally say I've finished year one out of the two year course (hence why I've not blogged in a very longtime).

This summer is the first summer since 2011 that I will not be spending it in hospital! It feels so good that I will be finally having a hospital free summer (yay). Next week I will be sailing for the first time ever across the seven seas (well, not exactly the seven seas, but to Scotland, which I'm extremely excited about). I have treated myself to some new clothes (obviously they were necessary for the sailing trip). I bought myself some nautical themed pyjamas (very essential when going sailing of course); a nautical themed backpack (also very essential when going on a sailing trip), and a few other bits and pieces.

Danielle X