Dancing for Parkinson’s the Australian way.

The beginning of February saw the start of a new term at the Dance for Parkinson’s class at English National Ballet’s headquarters at Markova House, London. We are looking at three new ballets being composed by women choreographers, an exciting prospect which includes a visit to Saddlers Wells to see one of the first performances of “She Said”.

The end of February saw us back in Melbourne Australia for a month staying with the lovely daughter. A bit of research turned up a Parkinson’s dance class fairly near, based on the same principles as London but located in a community centre so without access to the facilities available back home. I was amazed to find many similarities between the classes and note how the lesson was well constructed and led by three dedicated ladies. Both classes are led by dancers trained by Mark Morris, the American in Brooklyn who started the initiative. I was made very welcome and plan to go again. It is fun to try and work out how to get to new parts of Melbourne using the trains and trams!

With considerably warmer weather walking has been more enjoyable and it is easier to manage the 10,000 steps each day; my daily challenge on Fitbits. Striding along a path by the sea watching boats, kite surfers, bird life and a fabulous view towards the city is a real pleasure.

Brighton beach, Melbourne.

Brighton beach, Melbourne.


With Pearl at Queenscliff.

With Pearl at Queenscliff.

This weekend we met up with our Australian friends and enjoyed a weekend away at a very quaint town near Geelong called Queenscliffe where the captain and his first mate moor their beautiful boat, Pearl. We cruised across Port Philip Bay to Portsea and Sorrento, a beautiful part of the Mornington Peninsula, and were blessed with fine, sunny weather. The captain managed to get us up close and personal with a colony of seals who somehow become so graceful in the water.

We are half way through our time “down under” and have enjoyed experiences as diverse as an exhibition of Andy Warhol and Ai Wei Wei, a lecture in empathy in Australia and a White Night evening event which included aboriginal dancing. Who says there is little cultural activity here?

Sunshine and warmth certainly makes living with Parkinson’s easier but the dodgy arm can be very uncomfortable and so I am going to try some more medication on my return home, I have been lucky enough to have three and a half years with few drugs so probably need to accept that I might need more help. Fingers crossed!

Can a Fitbit help with my Parkinson’s?

For Christmas I had a Fitbit, a device that monitors how many steps you walk, mileage covered, calories used, stairways climbed, sleep patterns and, depending on the model you have, a variety of other functions. The amiable husband set it all up for me and now I can find out just how much exercise I have done each day on my wristband, iPad and iPhone. You can set up your target numbers and when accomplished the wrist band flashes in an excited way. You can compete with family and friends; I love it if I can beat the dashing son on any day! You can win awards too such as one when you have climbed enough stairs to be at the height of a helicopter! For me it is certainly a motivator and makes me realise that some days I don’t walk very far at all. My instinct tells me that exercise is incredibly important to those of us with Parkinson’s so it could be said that a Fitbit can help. Worth a try and fun too.

Fitbit

Fitbit

Every Sunday morning for decades I have swum at the local swimming pool. One of the first signs that something was wrong with me was when it was taking me longer and longer to get to the end of the pool and my left side seemed to twist under. More than three years after diagnosis I still swim but not as far and with some difficulty, I have a bit of a rest when the left leg becomes ineffective! I hate it when I get splashed and feel generally less secure in water. This is despite being told by my mother many years ago that I was born in a caul and should never drown. I didn’t understand this so looked it up on Google recently and discovered that it is when a baby is born with part of the amniotic sac, or membrane, still in place. Folklore is generally very positive about these “special” babies although I found some reference to them being quite likely to become vampires! Famous people born like this include Lord Byron, Napoleon and James the First.

The beginning of January saw our ruby wedding anniversary and I was taken away for a mystery weekend which turned out to be a stay at a rather lovely Manor House in North Devon and included a six course gastronomic meal.

Lovely Manor house in North Devon

Lovely Manor house in North Devon

We are away for another such occasion with a group of friends, our nickname “is rent a mob”, at a splendid Sussex country hotel this weekend, great.

February sees a return to Australia, sunshine and warmth and time with the lovely daughter.