Well for Winter

Hi readers, thanks for popping by after a few months of barely posting. It’s been a busy few months with the 358 Walking Sticks business cranking up which I’m obviously very chuffed about. I’m writing this post now because of the work I do with Shift, who work with communities around changing behaviour for improved wellbeing in really exciting ways. They have just started this theme ‘Well for Winter’ and I ended up writing my story of how I try to achieve this wellness despite winter, and despite COVID-19. I’d really like to hear from you how you achieve this – if you write your own story in a blog please pop the link in the comments or there are some links from Shift below to inspire you.

We haven’t had many of these days – yet!

The light starts to creep in round the hatches covering the porthole windows. I stretch my arms out then hurriedly bring them back into the warmth which only exists under the duvet. Even this small movement the dogs manage to hear and start making noises in expectation of the humans getting up and feeding them. In my just-woken-up grogginess I mutter some expletives about not understanding why we have dogs, especially in such a small space as a narrowboat. 

I take stock of how I’m feeling, how much pain may be slicing through my head or how foggy my thoughts are. Living with chronic migraine and headache disease means I’m pretty used to asking myself these questions on a frequent basis. Nature calls and I have to get up. But how much extra do I have to do??

OK so I have to check the fire. Because unlike most bricks-and-mortar ways of living, this is our heating system. More expletives as I assess how much (or not) it has stayed overnight when all I want is to be warm. 

I take stock again. I consider leaving the boat with the dogs and I am immediately hit with onion-like layers of fear; of reasons not to. Anything I do at times can seem to increase my migraine symptoms and that I might end up back in the bed I’ve hoped to stay away from today. 

Over time I’ve been practicing making myself get out at this time of day with the dogs. It’s only for 10 minutes and I tell myself I can manage this. In winter, I’m more likely to see the sunrises and at times, the stars are also still out to glitter down on me; the only person out at this time to witness the beauty. Maybe my symptoms will increase but I’ve been here – seen, felt, and immersed myself in an environment I wouldn’t otherwise if I stayed in the warm, cosy comfort of my bed. 

Back in the boat and the fire is going well now so I can warm myself, dry my clothes if needed. Whatever happens now, I’ll have done this one thing. This one box I can tick of to say I’ve achieved something in this simple routine I’ve created. I’ve got 10 minutes of walking in which might not seem much, but it’s an improvement on my many days of nothing and this small amount means I stand a better chance of staying well in winter.

Who knows, maybe you’ll see me on a towpath near you some day. Will you overcome your barriers to be there for the sunrises and stars too?

Up for sunrise

Well for Winter is a campaign by Shift which aims to inspire everyone to take steps towards improving wellbeing, keeping positive and supporting each other when they need a boost over the colder months. You can create your own Well for Winter plan by downloading a template from www.shift-together.co.uk/well_for_winter and share it on Facebook or Instagram (@shift_together) using #wellforwinter


  1. While my grandmother (your great-grandmother Mitchell) maintained that a day without learning something was a day wasted, I think that something achieved, even if quite small, means that the day has been worthwhile. During this lockdown, I am trying to make, mend or otherwise improve something in the house each day, be it ever so small, that I’ve not got around to doing before. This has been very satisfactory. So you can rest in the knowledge that whatever small thing you have managed to do, given your constraints, means that you have achieved that one thing: anything more than that is magnificent!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. hello . i get very bad migraines 5 a day often i can be Vomiting all over ,takes a lot energy away .people never see the every day effects .i have long list health issues ..m.e . ibs list goes on …my blog.http;//mark-kent.webs.com twitter.supersnopper mark

    Liked by 1 person

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