That’s industrial chilli powder Jen!

Muster parade this morning saw a much fuller room than last week as there have been many new people arrive for courses. It is good to meet new people, I introduce myself or visa versa and we obviously say our names but it is almost wasted on me as there are still people whose names I can’t remember even after a week which is rubbish and can be seen as rude but thankfully I am not the only one who has this problem. The first thing on the agenda for today was a swimming trip and I am so wanting to go swimming again but as I have not seen the pool I am reluctant to go. Firstly I don’t want to be in a position similar to Stoke Mandeville where I had to ask Kirsty for help when I couldn’t get myself dressed after the pool, and I really don’t want to have to ask for help on that again and secondly because I have no idea of the pool temperature and again, as happened to me at Stoke Mandeville, I don’t want to end up in a spasm in the pool and be aimlessly floating like a piece of driftwood around the pool until it either stopped or I could get someone to help and so after talking to the staff it was decided that I would go and spend the hour or so in the gym which I was more than happy with.

I went to the gym and immediately went on to the hand cycle. I had to ask for someone to remove the seat so that I could get my chair on to the apparatus and then started, I set the level to what I had finished on last time and kept it going at 60-70 rpm for a twenty minute period as suggest by the trainer on my last visit. With this done and my head perspiring I went over to the dumbbells. I picked one of them up, not a heavy one but one which I could use without tipping out of my chair as this is quite important I have realised, and started on the exercises that Kirsty had set for me at Stoke Mandeville during my stay there. 3 reps of ten of each of the exercises just as she had set me and I really made a concious effort to do the movements slowly to really work the muscles, and I clearly did it right because although it was not a great deal of weight, it made my muscles burn. With me happy that I had worked on the exercises properly I went to the pull down bar and did twenty minutes or so on that before I ended my session as I wanted to talk to the instructor about hand cycles before the next scheduled activity. I did speak to him briefly and we are to meet tomorrow to talk more about it which I am really looking forward to.

From here I went in to the sports hall to meet with the rest of the course where we would be participating in Tai Chi. Now, I have never even come close to considering even taking the time to find out about Tai Chi, let alone try it but as I am here, and grateful for the placement, I went in to it with an open mind I have to say honestly that it was an enjoyable and relaxing experience. Granted I was not able to complete all of the moves as I have a distinct problem with standing and walking but I tried everything associated with the moves and where possible I would move my wheelchair, in circles admittedly but moving none the less. We carried out a few moves with our arms and the able bodied with their legs, and we practised them over and over which is how Tai Chi is learnt. He explained that it is not mastered in days, weeks or months but is an art of patience and takes many years to perfect, seemed reasonable so we cracked on with it. Then he bought out the sticks. Now, I am allergic to pain and one of the lads who I am getting on with quite well and was here last week had a strange glint in his eye which I was unsure about, despite this though we had a few goes at the moves we had been shown and thankfully I did not get hit. Then we had to change partners and this time I was with a female. This was not too bad but we kept getting one of the moves wrong which was just funny but in the end we got it. Then came the extension to the move which involved walking towards and backwards in an attacking and defending role. This was where it went slightly wrong as I ended up going round in circles which we coped with but I would then end up laying across my legs and unable to get up. Thankfully neither of my partners during the stick session took advantage of this and hit me which was nice. With the Tai Chi lesson over we made our way to lunch.

A short while after lunch it was time to load on to the minibus and head off to the local academy again for another cooking lesson. This week…chocolate brownies and beef burritos! As there were more of us today we had to share cookers and workspaces, the tables are moved for me so I can move around a bit more freely. Jenny who is one of the staff had been raving on about wanting to make the chocolate brownie cakes since last week and so she paired up with me as she was concerned about me and the gas hob. It worked really well actually as I did the weighing of the ingredients while she melted the chocolate and then with that melted we each mixed our own ingredients and put them in to the foil containers and then Jenny put them in to the oven. Dishes done between us and it was time to watch the chef show us how to do the burrito.

Jenny was not going to cook her own one of these and so instead, I would prepare my ingredients and cut them up. While I was cleaning up Jenny watched my frying pan for me until I was happy that we could add the chilli powder, which Jenny did, unfortunately for us she had not registered what the chef had said about it being industrial chilli powder and not your normal run of the mill that you would purchase form the local supermarket and put three scoops in. Granted the scoop was only little, I think it was an eighth of a tea spoon but holy shit balls. I cut the burrito in to three as one of the guys had his own catering company and so was not too concerned about cooking and instead sat and talked to us while we were creating. With the burrito cut in to three, we each took a bite of our piece. Mother of God. I used to love chillies and Twiglets and most things that were of a hot nature, since my accident I have struggled even with Twiglets and now refrain from having chilli sauce on my kebab. I have to say that I was somewhat taken aback by the chilli, it was hot, really quite hot. I am sure that it was hot and that Jenny had also thought it was hot and had been caught out by the way she said something to the effect of “My word, that is a little on the warm side isn’t it” which sounded like F*** ME as she looked as if she was standing in a hot place. Not the hottest thing I have ever tasted but but it was on the side of Holy shit balls I wish I had a glass of milk.┬áThe cooking was a success, despite Jenny’s attempt at putting the three of us in the local A&E with third degree burns to the throat, and with the classroom clean and tidy I thanked the chef for the two lessons I had taken part in as I really enjoyed them and we left to get back in to the minibus and back to Tedworth.

When we arrived we had a short break before we had another lesson and as I was not going to eat two foil containers of brownie cakes, I gave one pack to the front desk to share amongst themselves and asked for the other to go upstairs to Lisa and Amy who are my `support workers` and the Band of Brothers team. I am very pleased to say that they all enjoyed them and the front desk saved a piece for me, which was actually really nice. The final lesson or session today was to help with sleep and also to teach how to calm down, how to get yourself in to a better state of mind and whilst I did not try to relax myself to get to sleep which most of the group did as I did not want to fall out of my chair, I did practice the calming techniques. Wish I had known about these a while ago. I am happy though that if I was unable to sleep, I could employ the techniques I was taught today and would be quite sure that there would be a very high chance of sleeping.

What else has happened today? Anything important? Hmm, let me think…..oh yeah, just a little thing….I got an e mail to tell me that if all goes well, and it will be confirmed later in the week, my Terrain Hopper Overlander 4 will be delivered on the 21st of Februaury! Get in. I am like a kid waiting for Christmas as I am really looking forward to taking `Pickle` for a drive on it and showing my Son and Daughter how it works. Is that it? hmm, let me see….oh yeah, I got an email today to say that I have been given some help to get a hand cycle which will mean I can get my fitness back up, come up with another silly idea to raise money for charity and most important of all, hopefully be able to go for a cycle ride with my kids. I am really chuffed but I am trying to keep the excitement and happiness in for the moment as I don’t want to have it all shattered by a cock up and bad news, it is what seems to happen for me and so when it is real, I am going to be a kid on Christmas.

Goodnight all.

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