You couldn’t make this shit up.

I’m sitting here relaxed watching David Tennant in Des.

Absolutely best thing I’ve watched in ages.

Window is open

We here a loud splash.

Brian the cat has fallen in the canal chasing mice again.

Within a minute he’s out.

He comes bounding over the garden wall like a bloody racehorse.

Through window ginger cat dripping dirty canal water comes flying at me over back of the sofa..

Dripping wet…. He looks at me and drops a still live mouse on my boobs I’m wearing a sun dress.

Wet mouse crawls in-between my boobs .

I scream

Mavis the dog runs away.

I jump up mouse drops out of my dress onto sofa. It lies there stunned.

I’m swearing at knob head wet ginger cat.

I scoop the stunned mouse up.

With old towel.

He’s stopped moving.

Everywhere is soaking .

Brians so pleased with himself!

I’m reiking the mouse who it’s soon apparent is dead.

My hubby is laughing so much he’s crying..

Surreal moment of.

Is this really my bloody life!

Send Gin!

Open letter to U.k government/ environment agency , prince Charles.

PLEASE SHARE
OPEN LETTER TO PRIME. MINISTER, GOVERNMENT, ENVIRONMENT AGENCY, PRINCE CHARLES PRESIDENT OF THE CANAL AND RIVER TRUST. NEATH COUNCIL .

I also run a non profit cancer retreat (soon to gain charity status)
I provide completly free breaks, a soul midwife service, celebrant service, counseling and therapies for patients with life limiting illnesses and their loved ones
Lots of people said I wouldn’t be able to do this completly free, but they don’t know about the magic and support of canalside.
We have been doing it for over two years. Provide lots of beautiful people with a safe happy space to forget about hospital appointments and just to be themselves
To walk on our beautiful canal explore local areas supported by us and our neighbors.
October 2018 were devistated by storm Callum all our hard work and love Ravens retreat was ruined.

To the powers that be.
Prime minister, government, environment agency, Neath council. Prince Charles president of canals & rivers trust.
It’s a almost a week since storm Dennis devistated our little street Canalside.
We are a terrace of 29 old but beautiful cottage as the name suggests we are nestled by the side of the Tenant Canal.
You hear older people talk of how it used to be when people look after each other, you could ask neighbors for help, leave your door open. When there was real communities.
I always smile feel proud and blessed because canalside is exactly that they are describing us. Canalside.
I know everyone in our street.
We are a tribe.
We look out for each other, we remember birthdays, pick up shopping, give lifts when needed, fix cars, we don’t live in each others pockets but we have always got each others backs you get the picture.

But we hadn’t had flooding here since early 90s so we pulled together as a community baled water/ sewage dried out the cottages hacked of plaster dug up floors, pulled out fitted kitchen, white goods sofas furniture clothing toys nothing was salvageable due to the sewage imagine a film.of human waste covering everything you own.
Strangers came to help, we had no electricity for days but canalside residents stuck together unbreakable bonds were made, strangers were now friends .
It took us from October 2018 of storm Callum to June 2019 to recover
The sun shone we welcomed home those who had moved out whilst builders re built their homes.
Ducks, geese , the dog walkers passed our cottage again our community breathed a sigh of relief we were home, together.
Life went on.
We welcomed families for cancer breaks from at Helens , Liverpool, North Wales, Swansea .
A word they often used to describe canalside was magical.

I vividly remember our first group of ladies after the flood Viv and Jule. Were friends from my hometown of St Helens.
Viv had just finished radiotherapy. A mural friend had rang to ask if she could join them with her best friend who was having chemotherapy for a terminal diagnosis.
Everything was arranged and they traveled down together

You see that’s what Ravens Retreat (wish cottage project) is all about.
Fulfilling wishes and dreams giving people hope
We are so much more than a little cottage in a little street.
When Bex Viv, Shaz and Julie drove away at the end of a perfect week the sun shone their car radio blared they sang at top of their voices .

They arrived from Liverpool after a long drive I introduced myself to Bex she smiled but looked quite and lost, she was wearing a back brace and they had wondered if the drive over would be too long but she had been determined to come.
As the four of them looked around our retreat slowly Bex began to smile.
That week was truly wonderful.
They sat by our fire pit, sunbathed on the decking, drank wine laughed lots discussed hopes and fears.
Bex confessed wanting to climb mountain.
Leave it with anything is possible in Canalside.
It was a sunny day when we drove into Swansea to mumbles pier.
We had lunch then
I sat on the beach beside Bex there’s your mountain I smiled pointing at the light house on the hill.
Her face lit up..
I sat in the dun watching her slowly but surely climb up the hill to mumbles lighthouse..
She stood at the top wind in her hair waving over to me..
That will always be Bex’s mountain.

My heart smiled.
The girl who arrived looking quite and tired left glowing happy and smiling.
I’m privalaged to call her my friend
And to have been part of her journey sadly Bex died a few months later.

Why am I telling you this? It’s because although you ‘see’ the floods on T.V and a few of you may walk down the street you don’t get to know our stories.
You come then leave to sit in warm houses without the real fear of ‘What if’ hanging over you when you go to bed, or if your in work and it starts to rain.
Behind each door of each cottage is a story.
A family just like yours .
I want and need you to know how loved and important this small street is.
So a week later after our second flood in sixteen months we have done the same again.
We pulled together bailed sewage,
cared for our vunerable less able neighbors.
New strangers have arrived we have lost all our possessions again..
Because the preventative measures promised were not honoured.
This time I have no insurance.
Not because I chose not to because I couldn’t get cover after storm Callum
A £6000 oil central heating boiler a beautiful sofa bed bought for patients who are too weak to get upstairs.
All our white goods, carpets, crockery all contaminated again by sewage .
Preventative measures that we were promised didn’t happen.
Why am I writing to you a week later..
Because as I clean up the mess in my bedroom that has been trodden upstairs all week
I have found a pile of thank you cards from people who have stayed with us . A letter from my best friend Donna Drewson who died September 11 2018 telling me how proud she was of me and the Retreat.
She always believed in me
Everything we have done is in memory of her.
Finally my strength left me.
I sat on my bed and sobbed.
I want to believe that you neath council, environment agency the water board, local government prince Charles and the prime minister have took on board our dilemma.
That this time you will do something preventative to help us.
My greatest fear is a few months down the line the reporters news crews will leave.
Council will be spending money on speed bumps and once again we will be forgotten.
So prime minister, local government.
Prince Charles.
Put your wellies on.
Knock on our doors hear our voices our stories.

Talk to us.
Remember Canalside.
We are worth saving
.
Do I want to move?
Of course not.
Where else could I find such a melting pot of amazing people
It may not be your idea of paradise but it’s ours .
Please help us preserve it.

Yours in hope
Joolz

Stop the clock, open the window cover the mirror

Today has been hard

The lady I have been nursing for almost a year as her soul midwife has possibly only a few days left.

She and I have over the last year become close friends and I know had we met under different circumstances we would have been good friends.

We have so much in common spiritual beliefs, sense of humour and we are both strong minded and stubborn.

Our grand daughters have been friends since baby school they are now 13

Tamika and Jayden both nannys girls.

It was through Jadens Mum I met Karen .

She had told her about my work as a soul midwife and our cancer retreat

I think you will get on she said and passed me her phone number.

She was right .

Karen was streight talking a good looking very proud women. Oh and did I mention stubborn in a very fabulous way.

She had lost her husband two years previously to cancer she had been his princess we sat and chatted about her journey.

At the mention of his name there was always a smile and a story.

He had been her Knight in shining armour

She was determined to stay as well as possible for as long as she could for her boys.

Before I knew it two hours had flown by.

So shall I come back next week? I asked .

Yes she smiled I’d like that and tell Lisa thanks for pointing you my direction.

Just before I got into my car she called me back.

The cancer she said.

Yes?

I told them I don’t want to know how long I have.

What would you do?

I don’t think I’d want to know either I said.

But it’s completely your choice

Someone giving you a time scale on life.

No one really knows.

I’d rather say I’ll die when its my time and I’m ready.

I like that she laughed.

See you next week.

So I’d call in we would chat about anything and everything.

I’d do some reflexology or massage.

We wrote funeral plans and lists.

We put everything in order.

That’s a massive part of my job

It gives back some control and reassures my patients that when the time comes

All their wishes will be honoured

I am a celebrant I trained so that I can confidently offer funeral and wedding services too.

So we plan everything nothing is left to chance

We write wills.

Then when all the serious stuff is sorted

We get on with living.

Quality of life.

Being comfortable.

Getting out and about

Shopping , for coffee.

I’ve even had one lady request we go on a roller coater

Twice! She loved it.

I didn’t

You get the picture.

I spent this evening making memory jewelry from karen’s finger print and her grand daughter jaydens.

It’s solid silver

So that Karen will always be with her.

Karen has been my friend even if only for a short time.

Her grand daughter has been amazing for a thirteen year old.

She has sat chatting with her in the hospice gone out with her on shopping trips.

It’s a joy to see Karen’s face light up when she sees jayden come in.

She told me she isn’t afraid of dying just afraid of not being around for Jayden.

Last Wednesday was her last good day we spent it together laughing drinking tea and watching T.V I put he in bed before I left and tucked her in.

As I kissed her head she caught hold of my hand.

You’ve been my nurse and my friend she said smiling at me I love you Joolz and I want to thank you.

No thanks needed I kissed he head again try to get some sleep and I’ll see you in the morning

Night mam she joked.

I walked out into cold October air and a tear ran down my cheek.

Let it be peaceful I asked the universe.

The next morning I walked into her room towel over my arm to wash her hair how did you sleep I asked.

She looked at me blankly.

Talking about painting the ceiling and how wiccans and dwarfs were playing rugby for Wales.

My heart sank.

Last stages of liver cancer often present a dementia like confusion

I sat by her holding her hand.

joolz it’s you! I’m sorry I can’t go shopping today.

I kissed her forehead.

That’s fine I reassured her the weather is awful let’s rest today we can go next week.

I called the doctor to her as I rang her family.

Things changed quickly.

36hrs later I received that call can you come back to the hospice Joolz it’s time.

My clothes are ready I’m dressed in minutes. Kiss my husband goodbye and step out into the cold night air.

As I’m walking to the car I’m ringing her son’s to tell the the news as I then drive to pick up her Jay grand daughter.

All of this has been planned.

Everyone knows it isn’t set in stone you have no idea how you will feel.

when ‘that’ phone call comes.

As I pull up outside the house jay comes out the image of her nan in younger years

As she gets in the car I ask ar you sure you want to come?

She’s stubborn just like her nan I know the answer

She nods and we head to the Hospice.

The roads are empty she looks at me and asks.

“Joolz what will it be like?”

How do you answer that

Shes 13 her nanny’s girl.

She’s sleeping I say, hoping I can find the right words.

She can still hear you. Talk to her tell her your there.

Hold her hand.

If at any point you need to leave the room that’s okay.

However you want to do this it’s okay.

She nods and we pull into the car park.

She is lying in bed much the same as when I left her last night

Breathing heavier I kiss her gently on her forehead

Ive brought your girl I tell her taking her hands from under the blanket

I sit her son’s beside her jay sits holding her hand gently like precious porcelain.

Im here nan she says.

I remember her as a cheeky four year old no teeth full of mischief slurping jelly at my granddaughters birthday party.

When did she bloom into this beautiful caring strong young.

My heart breaks for her.

I tell them all I’ll just be outside for ten mins to give them some time to say the things they need to.say.

Tell her anything you want I say. I’m right outside the door.

As I come back in I stand back and take in the picture before me.

Hands holding hands words softly spoken a room filled with love.

I sit beside Jay.

We silently watch her breathing slow her youngest son looks at me and asks is she going .

I nod

I love you mam he sobs .

It’s okay my friend You can go now, Leon is waiting.

At 5.45 she leaves us peacefully.

This passing was beautiful. A family holding vigil no pain as she quietly stepped from the earth plane to spirit plane .

I can’t help but feel my world will be a little less bright without her in it.

I kiss her gently and whisper safe journey home my beautiful friend.

As I picture her husbands joy at having her back in his arms.

His princess.

Goddess bless you Karen ❤️

Please share our website

http://www.ravensretreat.wales

Sacred friend

Hello my oldest sacred friend
We talk every day I am always grateful to see you outstretched reaching across as I walk towards you.
Telling you my deepest secrets my hopes and fears
You always have time to listen
No judgement, always patient if I am lost for words you gently wait until I find them.
When I am tired or greaving you have brought me comfort as I have leaned against you. I have felt you gently gifting me your energy.
Draw from our mother Earth and father sky
Your love for them deep rooted and out stretched reaching up your limbs you give daily thanks and gratitude for this beautiful place and the life that we have.
Some would say you are silent, our conversations are one sided.
How foolish they are.
They walk by and miss the sacred magic you hold.
Daily we change together.
Growing older and wiser
Learning and sharing this place this life time
Today I am reflective and thankful for a beautiful weekend.
You are dressed in the most beautiful shade of green.
As you reach out over the water sheltering beautiful pink foxgloves.
Your leaves fluttering I sit beside you and we watch a lone honey bee dip in each bright pink flower
This is my favorite place
My sacred place.
We speak of tonight’s dark moon
The things in my life that are no longer needed
You listen absorbing my words and reassure me.
You are my constant ever changing by the day by the season
I have watched your leaves fall many times
Each time you stand vunerable but strong
Still gazing upwards to the source of all.
And holding on fast rooted to our mother
My luminal beautiful friend
I am forever grateful for your wisdom and guardianship your magic.
May you speak the language of wren’s and Stones sky and roots always.

There are no strangers just friends we haven’t yet met.

So as most of you know I live in a little canalside cottage nothing posh just two up two down on a tow path in South Wales.

I also have another cottage on the terrace Ravens Retreat.

Where as a soul midwife I provide respite free Therapies and breaks for cancer patients or anyone with life limiting condition.

We are slowly rebuilding the retreat after we were hit by storm Callum in Sept 2018 most of the terrace was flooded by sewerage it was a challenging time to say the least.

My hubby Jeff has been beyond amazing he is a jack of all trades and has self leveled floors, tiled bathroom fitted a shower room.

He’s almost finished tiling kitchen and living room

Fitted a new kitchen aquired from Facebook marketplace.

We are doing all this on a shoe string

We have had a cabin built (our healing hive ) on the land behind the retreat and are also trying to get this up and running insulated electrics flooring fencing the list is endless

And as I’ve been off work for a year on half pay I have really been holding out my hands to the universe and trusting we can get things finished.

Offering free Therapies to cancer patients. Holding healing clinics Reiki, Omni, and Soul Connection healing workshops teaching reiki to community

I know this work Is so very important people need to be treated holistically.

This is my service to the community a way of me giving back. A thank you for leading me to this beautiful place.

This post is about just that giving back and paying forward.

I always believe that people are for the best part good

And what you put out there you get back.

That’s what storm Callum has taught me.

This tiny street in South Wales is a community

Very commune like.

We all pulled together. We baled water, carried furniture, cleaned each other’s houses supporting each other in any way possible.

I cooked for the street my son made flood gates my hubby helped anyone and everyone. Reporters came and went we we’re on T.V for the weekend then people forgot.

Or did they.

Friends and neighbors are now closer

People come and gift me time in return for Therapies or healing or perhaps lunch.

Fab electrician had helped wire the cabin, my friend Han from work helped dig out old trees and clear garden. My son, daughter and daughter in love helped clean and grout tiles

Zoe and Ross helped clear up after cabin was erected

My grand daughter Tamika pushed wheel barrows full of garden rubbish.

Out neighbor Paul plastered the bathroom ceiling.

The twins next door brought food when Jeff was working.

My friend Sharon very kindly lent us a digger! How awesome I’ve been truly overwhelmed with kindness I’m truly blessed.

Last week I had a phone call from a lovely guy Chris who wanted to know more about what we we’re doing having heard about us from a mutual.friend

He visited and from minute I opened the door I knew we were destined to be friends.

Today he came over and painted fences helped Jeff out then had Sunday lunch with me and my family.

I guess what I’m telling you is there is a positive in every situation no matter how bad things are

Our little retreat was a lovely little cottage before the flood but we had made do and mended with what we had.

The flood pulled our little street together into a fabulous commune it pushed us to do work that we couldn’t really afford but somehow we’ve done it.

We now have that all important healing space I so desperately needed. A shower room that will make things much easier for wheel chair users or guests with dogs!

Most of all I have met some of the most amazing people who gave us the gift of time and true genuine friendship .

That to me is priceless.

So when life gets hard remember hold out your hands and trust the universe.

It may be hard but it is always beautiful.

So if your passing through neath valley south Wales

Come take a walk down Canalside drop in say hi.

A liminal magical place

My paradise.

My Tribe

My family ❤️

Perfect solitude

I’ve had a few weeks of not leaving the canal unless I really have to.

Calling over to see my Mam in law but other than that I’ve been home in the cottage.

Folk may call for healing or massage but most of the time has been spent writing lots, reading and potching getting things done in the Retreat, grouting tiles cleaning up tile dust, clearing building rubbish from the garden, clearing more bloody tile dust. Where does it hide?

You clean it leave the room come back and there is more.

Tile dust causes bad language I’ll never be rid of it.

Jeff comes home and we do more few friends call at the weekend to help us but other than that I’ve seen very few folk.

No human beings

It’s been heaven!

I wonder how some folk don’t like being alone.

I love it, maybe a little too much.

Social media has made it easier. I can check anyone I care about is okay.

Mobile phones well if anyone really needs me they can ring.

Well they could if I turned on the ringer, I’ll ring back when I’ve finished potching.

I’ve been captured by this magical place it’s like a little island commune like,

Thirty cottages an eclectic bunch we are,

There for each other but not mithered or bothered.

Ducks and geese lots of hooded crows

I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

Surrounded by water, view of the mountain.

Log burner, hubby and cats.

Canalside

Home.