As I get back into a routine with my regular blog segments I thought I’d give 10 Things a kickstart with something a little bit more personal. So here are 10 Things you probably don’t know about me!
I can’t ride a bike
I never understood as a kid why I had so much trouble learning how to ride a bike. While other kids got over their balance issues and tamed their bikes, riding off into the sunset. It never happened for me, and it was only when I was diagnosed with hypermobility syndrome did I find out why; I have balance issues. My physio told us that I had no balance. It was only after gruelling training and strengthening that I was able to gain a measure of control back, but I’ll never have the level needed to be able to ride a bike.
… but I can ride a horse!
I started riding when I was 7 and for two years I was horse obsessed. I only stopped riding when my school closed, and for whatever reason, I never went back to it. I progressed all the way to jumping and spent a lot of time working with horses at the stables whenever I could. I know how to do pretty much everything involving horses – and that includes the messy stuff like cleaning out stables. Despite only being a kid I didn’t flinch at the dirty work.
I also rode the actual MilkyBar Kid’s horse. His name was Toby and he was a retired stunt horse. As he was so good with kids his owner let him be used for lessons with kids, and he loved it. You can see Toby in action in the original advert below:
I have a phobia of Ants
It’s called Myrmecophobia and it’s due to an incident that happened when I was a young child. I sat down on some grass at Cricket St Thomas Park… right on top of an ants nest. I was wearing a dress, and they went everywhere. It is a pretty big phobia; if I see a large group of ants I will freeze until someone gets rid of them, and even the mention of them makes me shiver, and I start itching. I can’t watch parts of films that have a lot of ants. For example, the ant scene in the Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull has me hiding behind my hands until I’m told it’s over. Surprisingly, I’m actually ok with AntMan and I was actually upset during a certain Sea Gull scene in AntMan and the Wasp. I think it’s because the ants are so big and don’t feel like actual insects that it doesn’t trigger the phobia.
Like most people with Myrmecophobia, I also have a phobia of other insects. Beetles, earwigs, cockroaches, and caterpillars, specifically, and the thought of any insect invading my home – especially my bedroom – freaks me out. My other big phobia is not so exciting and is pretty normal; heights.
I’m a Rainbow Baby
A Rainbow Baby is the name given to a baby born after a loss, usually a miscarriage or stillbirth. I ended up being an only child, but before my parents had me they were expecting a baby boy. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it term and was born stillborn. It’s something that has impacted all our lives and something I never forget even though it happened before I was born. Because he died, technically I survived – the doctors were able to determine what had happened and prevent it from happening in my mum’s second pregnancy. I often think about what it would have been like to have brother, what he would have been like, and why I got the chance to live and he didn’t.
I’m an extroverted introvert
This one you might already know because I mentioned it a few weeks ago on twitter, but I wanted to expand on it because I expect I got a few puzzled looks from that one. I mean, how can you be both an extrovert and an introvert – aren’t they parallel opposites? Well, you can get sweet and salty popcorn so not everything is impossible.
Basically, an extroverted introvert is someone who is introverted in the typical sense; they like to be alone, spend time at home, avoid large crowds of people, and so on. However, they can also be really social and outgoing. Anyone who knows me, or has even spent 5 minutes talking to me, will know that I’m a pretty chatty person. I’m also really vocal when it comes to things I’m passionate about. If I believe in something then I stand up for it. Most introverts aren’t able to do that, and that’s not a dig because there are some situations where I completely feel the same.
Personally, I find the explanation for how I’m both extroverted and introverted in astrology. I’m a Libra and they are the most social star sign in the zodiac. Being a Libra is a double-edged sword though; we love harmony, and we hate drama but we also stand up for things that are really important to us. Especially the people we care about. Injustice is one of the biggest forms of imbalance in the world so it shouldn’t be a surprise that it’s a massive issue for Libras, the sign that seeks balance in everything. Any form of injustice really pushes my buttons and sometimes before I realise it I’m speaking out. In short, being a Libra means I’m astrologically hot-wired as an extrovert, whereas personally, I’m an introvert.
I’m a real-life mutant
I’m really vocal about my health conditions, so you’ve most likely heard me talk about hypermobile Ehlers Danos Syndrome before. What you don’t know is that it’s a condition that is caused by a genetic mutation which means my body doesn’t produce collagen properly. If that word sounds familiar it’s because it gets thrown around in tonnes of skincare adverts. Collagen is what helps everything in our bodies hold together properly.
In people with EDS, it doesn’t work properly, and as you can imagine that can cause serious problems. It’s called a spectrum disorder and at it’s lowest it’s people who are just a bit bendy and have a cool party trick, and never have any painful repercussions and starts to get more serious from there. For some people, it affects the muscles, tendons and/or ligaments in just one or two specific areas of the body, or like me, it’s full body. At the higher end of the scale, it starts to affect more important tissues in the body such as veins and organs.
For more information about EDS and the full spectrum please head over to EDS UK. If you have any questions I’m always happy to answer them if I can 🙂
I used to be a Christian
Before I became a Pagan I spent most of my life following a very different religion and it was by my own choice. When I was 4 I heard about a Sunday school club that a friend went to, and I started going. I spent the next 11 years going to a Baptist church, as well as joining the Brownies and then Guides held at the church halls. Despite my issues with the religion now as an adult, I can’t actually fault the church community and it’s the main reason why I don’t judge all Christians with the same brush. The Church community watched me grow up, mentored me and after I left my mum and gran joined the community and they supported them – and still do. Even now when I go to visit I regularly see my old pastor when he’s checking in on my mum because that is the wonderful type of person that he is; he is always checking up on his parishioners.
The community isn’t perfect though, and it’s had it’s own scandals and drama. I ended up leaving because at the age of 15/16 I found myself abruptly cast out of all the teenage groups because I was “too old” and officially deemed old enough to join the adult services. No teenager wants to sit through a two-hour church service especially when they’re accustomed to leaving halfway through for a workshop-style group. I began to find every excuse possible to avoid it, including helping out with the youngest group of kids. That was until someone came to me and told me in no uncertain terms that while I was considered too old for the teenage groups, I was not old enough to be helping out with the children.
After years of feeling like I was belonging, I felt like I was being cast out. All the trust, all the hard work, and everything I had done to help at events or during services at that moment didn’t matter. It was a wake-up call. I was also experiencing similar feelings about Guides, especially as I was being bullied by several girls who used to be my friends and no one seemed to be noticing or caring. I ended up cutting all ties with both the church and Guides.
Looking back years later I realised two things; this all happened within a year of my depression developing, and for me, the church was always more about community than belief. I never really believed in the resurrection and that’s the core belief of Christianity. I just couldn’t get my mind around the idea of heaven. However, the fundamental idea of being a good person was something that spoke to me. As I grew older and learned more about other religions I realised that Christianity wasn’t my path. I have a lot to thank the church community for, but it was the people and not the religion that had made the impact on my life.
I went to a famous high school
I mentioned this recently on twitter so some of you may have caught this one 😉 When I joined my high school, St John Rigby RC College, back in 1997 as a little, terrified, 11-year-old, it was one of the best schools in the area. When I left it 5 years later at 16 it was the worst. That was all down to one woman; Colleen McCabe.
So how did a school fall so far in just 5 years? Well, it didn’t happen in just 5 years. There were always rumours that Ms McCabe, the headmistress, with her expensive suits and cars was stealing money from the school. How else was she affording those on a headmistress’s salary? Rumours like that are normal in every school. However, it turned out that she actually was embezzling the school. For years. It was a massive cover-up that went completely unnoticed by the official school board investigators who regularly visit schools.
When the scandal broke it rocked the country, and it was actually made into a BBC docu-drama, The Thieving Headmistress, starring top British actors such as Pauline Quirke and Denis Lawson. Unfortunately, there is no way to watch it otherwise I would link it for you as it contains witness accounts from staff and students (including one of my old maths teachers).
She was jailed for 5 years but was released early due to an appeal. She received so many death threats that she was placed into witness protection for her own safety. The woman that ruined so many students lives is currently residing somewhere in the UK.
I was fortunate to leave with a decent set of GCSEs, however, there was a noticeable difference in expectations when I went to a different school for my A-Levels. I had to work twice as hard to catch up with what I’d missed out on, not because I had bad teachers, but rather because we had zero resources. Those lack of resources meant that many students didn’t get the support they needed, and it will have had a lasting effect on their life. All because one woman was greedy.
I come from a creative family
My paternal grandfather died when I was four so I have very few memories of him, but my most cherished one is him teaching me how to draw. It’s a gift that he started and it was later encouraged by my parents. I didn’t know until earlier this year just how good he was at drawing. I was able to look through some old family files and found some of his work, including his jewellery designs. I knew that he made jewellery when he returned from World War II, however, I didn’t realise how talented he was at designing it. There wasn’t much, but what I did find was absolutely stunning.
While my dad has more of a knack for engines than art, he can also draw and helped me improve my skills as I grew older. My mum was a drafter, someone who completed technical drawings for industry and engineering. She taught me a lot of nifty tricks, especially when it came to using perspective. She’s also got a flair for arts and crafts and has a talent for sewing, flower arranging and card making.
My maternal grandfather was a builder for most of his life, and he dabbled in stained glass art. My parent’s house has a gorgeous front door with stained glass in it made by him when they bought the house in the 1970s. When he retired it gave him the perfect opportunity to perfect his craft and he did exactly that. With a large extended family and a huge heart, he started making us gifts which we cherished, and cherish even more when we lost him suddenly to a random blood clot. He’d beaten cancer twice, and a heart attack and a random blood clot took him from us.
My parents have beautiful lampshades created by him, and for me, he made two items. A beautiful stained glass mirror with a butterfly and a clock (as pictured above). They are still both at home in my old bedroom because, honestly, I’m terrified of moving them in case they break. One day I’ll do it, but until then they’re safe in my old room.
My maternal grandmother was always knitting, and taught me how to knit (I’m not sure if I can still remember how to!) and she also loved to bake. That I do remember how to do, and while I still cannot stand cooking, I absolutely love baking. I have so many fond memories picking blackcurrants, blackberries and apples from their back-garden and making pies with her.
My maternal great-aunt is a well known watercolour artist and has painted several pieces for the family including a beautiful set of horse paintings for me when I was younger. She has always kept up to date with my academic career and supported my art studies when I was at school.
I didn’t quite realise just how much creativity I have in my collective genetics until I was putting together ideas for this post, and started to make a list. And that’s just the ones I know about!
Hospitals I’ve been to close
The final fact about me is that two hospitals connected to me have been closed. Stone Park Maternity Hospital was closed at the end of my birth year, meaning that we were the last year of babies born in that hospital. Anyone born the following year was born in the new maternity ward at Farnborough Hospital. After the hospital closed it was replaced with a care home that is still there today.
The second hospital that closed its doors was Bromley Hospital, the largest hospital in the borough and once again all services were transferred to newer facilities at Farnborough Hospital. In fairness, it was the right decision. The hospital was terrible. I spent my 13th birthday after an emergency doctor (who turned out to be a doctor from my own surgery) thought my abdominal pains and sickness could be suspected appendicitis. I spent a week in hospital being starved, in a tiny room reserved for children on an observation ward. It was horrible. All night I could hear an old woman screaming, and I was woken up every few hours to have my temperature taken.
After that fun week I was shifted off to Farnborough Hospital because they needed my bed. I was there for two days before being told I could go home as it was “just a virus”. To this day I’m not sure if I got unlucky and had a really nasty one and needed to be hospitalised, or whether it was down to terrible doctors. I’d already had one of them blow all the veins in my hand putting the first IV drip in because they’d not done it correctly for a child (a nurse saw it and explained – she wasn’t impressed), so honestly, that wouldn’t surprise me. It took me another week to recover because I’d been starved for so long and had to build my diet back up to normal food.
I’d spent many hours waiting at the accident and emergency department with ankle injuries too, so I was pretty happy to see that hospital go!
Over to You
That brings us to the end of 10 things you probably don’t know about me! Is there anything on there you already knew? Anything that surprised you? If you’ve got any questions just let me know in the comments!
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Image Credits: Bike photo from Pexels, Horse photo is from pexels, Rainbow photo is from Pexels, Libra image from Public Domain Pictures, Cat photo from Pexels, Bible photo from Unsplash, The Thieving Headmistress screencap is taken from the trailer available on youtube., Creativity photo from Pexels, Hospital photo is from Pexels..