Reflections On A Year Of Being Stuck

I’ve been reflecting over the past few days on how everything changed for the world dramatically within a few weeks. Nobody knew just how bad things would get and how a virus could spread around the world so easily.

I can remember when Covid 19 first was announced thinking and hoping that it wouldn’t come over here. I can remember my dad describing what the dna of the virus looked like and how it was a spiky ball with different bits coming off of it. People were starting to talk about the virus, but nobody seemed too worried. Everyone was just going about their lives as normal.

By the middle of March though, things were starting to get real and people were becoming more worried. My last trip up to Belfast was to attend a workshop on alcohol ink art at a place called Robins Hobby cafe. It is the type of place you could spend all day in. I made four coasters that day with the alcohol inks. You moved the coasters in different ways to make the inks make different patterns. It was fun. I was the only one who attended because the other people weren’t wanting to risk it with the virus.

When we were officially locked down, this really panicked me. I wanted to read all the news i could about the virus. I didn’t honestly know how i would cope with everything just stopping so abruptly so i told myself it was christmas day. On christmas day nobody does that much and spends all day with their families. It was christmas day in my head for months as that was the only way i could think of to get through each day.

I was so glad i could get out every day with Vivvy. Initially, i was worried about how i would be able to keep my distance and if i would be stopped by the police or anything while i was out on my walks. I know that sounds daft written down, but that was what was going through my head. I was determined that i would get out every day even if it was only for 20 minutes.

It didn’t take long before things started to move online and i joined a creative writing class through email. I’d then submit what i had written each week and it would be read out in the class or people could read out their own work if they could make it. This was really fun and something i probably wouldn’t have done if it was a physical class as i always believed that i didn’t have a creative writing bone in my body. Some of my pieces are further down the blog if you would like to read them.

I loved how caring people became and how professionals became slightly less formal when they talked to you as we all learnt to adjust to our new lives.

It wasn’t until June at least when things fully became virtual. Things like Microsoft Teams and Zoom became the norm. Initially, i longed for that physical contact and really missed the pre meeting conversations over a cup of tea. With virtual meetings, the meeting happened and finished, but there was no chatter before or afterwards. People were just expected to know how these technologies worked straight away and it took a while for everyone to learn and get to grips with it all.

I missed the journey to an event or meeting. I used to love getting on a train and enjoying how i would et somewhere. Even if it was walking to yoga which is only 20 minutes away from my house, i enjoyed actually getting there.

I was glad when yoga started up again as that was one thing that was constant and normal. My yoga teacher did do pre recorded classes before this, but i had no motivation to do them, whereas the live classes were more like when they were physical.

I made a point of checking in with friends each week. It would have been so easy not to and to stop connecting with everyone which i did not want to happen. I had to remind myself that this would not last forever and that we were only connecting virtually for a while.

It was very easy to get sucked in to everything, but eventually, i had to limit my news and the information i took in. There was so much out there and not all of it was accurate so it was hard to know what to believe at times. I still didn’t want to miss anything, so stuck to only watching the news once a day and only the local news at that. I also realised that not every notification about the virus needed my attention or response.

It was great when things started to open up again, but i was still very cautious. I met up with some friends for my birthday in September which was great. I was going to be picked up but i decided to get the train as i wanted to use it again. I was a bit worried as to whether i would get assistance on and off if i needed it, but that was no bother. It was great to see everyone again. I was a bit nervous, but i just broke things down in to small steps such as walking to the station, then getting on the train, then going to the restaurant. We all had a lovely time and i was feeling more confident about getting out and about again. The next week, i even went back to tennis again.

Three days after this, my postcode went in to restrictions again. It wasn’t a full lockdown, but it was back to essential travel again. I must admit this really did make me cross. Just when i thought things were easing a little. I’m afraid i wasn’t much company for a few days and was in a bit of a grump.. I gave myself a good talking to though and decided to write everything down that was bothering me about the current situation. After i was done, i deleted it all and felt much better once it was out of my system.

I was able to do some quilting which i hadn’t done for a few years. It was a project for older people but i was sent the information so decided to do some pieces. The theme was what you did during lockdown. I did a dog and a walker, although they look like a runner. i got my sister to cut out the shapes out of cardboard and stuck them on to the two squares. I then sewed around them. The squares were then collected and the quilt will be displayed after lockdown ends and everyones’ squares will be included. I really enjoyed getting back in to it again.

Thankfully throughout all of this, i have managed to stay healthy and haven’t had to self isolate yet. I don’t know how i would manage that as i like to get out every day.

It has been an interesting year for sure, but i do think we are coming out the other side now. I just hope that things don’t open up again too quickly and we end up back in another lockdown. I’m being even more cautious and not rushing in to doing anything when it all opens up again. Hopefully, things will open gradually and we can eventually get out and about again.

Reviewing Wild Natural Deodorant

I recently started using

Wild natural deodorant

I’ve tried various natural deodorants over the years, including trying to make my own, but none of them seemed to work for long and i would usually end up smelling as if i hadn’t used any. I had come accross Wild before but i didn’t want to try it as i didn’t think it would work. I decided to give it a try though and see what i thought.

What is Wild?

Wild is a refillable natural deodorant made completely naturally. You can subscribe and get refills sent every month, 2 months or 3 months or you can buy the refills separately without subscribing.

How does it work?

The idea is that you buy a case for your refill to go in to. The case is made from alliminium and recycled plastic. The cases come in a whole heap of colours.

How much does it cost?

For the case and 3 refills, it costs £25 but there is also a starter pack which allows you to buy a case and one refill for £12 if you subscribe when you are ordering. I didn’t know this option existed until i’d paid £25.

What scents do the refills come in?

There are five scents to choose from for the refills. The refills come in mint fresh, Orange zest, Bergamott, coconut dream and rose blush. They also did a toffee apple one for hallowene.


I was very impressed with the delivery as the parcel came within a few days of me ordering. When you first open the box, the deodorant case does not have a refill so you have to put one in. The case is a similar size to a big stick deodorant you’d sometimes see in shops. The refill blocks are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. They are about three finger lengths accross if your fingers are horizontal. The refills are really easy to insert. Simply remove the lid of the case, feel about half way down on the outside edges of the case until you find two buttons. Twist the bottom to the right until it stops, push the buttons and pull downwards. Now, you will feel a little plastic bit. On the bottom of the block, there is an indentation. Place the block on to the plastic bit and remove the lid of the block. Slide the middle bit on to the bottom of the case with the block with the narrow part of the middle piece pointing upwards and push down until the middle bit stops. Now put the lid of the case back on. As you turn the bottom of the case to use it, the two buttons i mentioned earlier lock which is great as you won’t accidentally press them. The refills come in bamboo packaging, so whenever a refill runs out, the block package can be recycled which is cool.

First impressions

I’m currently using the mint refill and it is very subtle, but not overpowering. A little really does go a long way, as you only need two or three swipes for each armpit. The texture is not sticky or greasy and is instantly absorbed in to the skin. You might not feel like you have any on, but you do. It also does not stain your clothes like some shop baught brands can. The smell fades throughout the day and there is a slight smell of sweat at the end of the day but nowhere near what i have found with other natural deodorants. It may take your body up to 2 weeks to adjust to it which is why i waited until now to post as i wanted to really test it. I have not used it for playing tennis or anything yet, but i have walked with it on. I like too that the smells aren’t overpowering which is great. The refills are meant to last up to four weeks but i’m still on my first block so i’m not sure how long it will last.


Overall, i really do like this deodorant. Some drawbacks are the price as it is more expensive than a highstreet brand, and the fact thaht you don’t feel anything when you put it on. Otherwise, it’s a great product and i will deffinetly be buying more refills when mine run out.

If you would like to switch to wild, you can use

This referral link

To get a discount on your first order.

Virtual Walking Challenges

This year, i’ve loved how a lot of running and walking challenges have become virtual. So many events have only been able to be done on one day which is great, but so many have also only been for runners but since they have gone virtual, anyone can take part and can complete it however they wish.

Since March, i have walked the Belfast marathon, attempted to walk a million steps for a charity called


And the Derry half marathon. With another lockdown looming and being restricted, i wanted something to look forward to. I discovered a page on Facebook called

End to end

Who run different challenges you can get involved with. So i am virtually walking from Lands end to John o Grotes from now until next year. You get digital postcards along the way, plus when you update your miles each day, your progress is shown on an interactive map. You can run or walk it and there is a hugely supportive group on Facebook for it. When you sign up, there is an option to plant a tree instead of getting a t shirt which is brilliant and you can also donate the cost of your medal to a charity i think.

I started last Monday and have decided to raise money for

Angel Eyes NI

Who support parents of blind and partially sighted children to enable them to reach their full potential. I have been a trustee for 8 years now and unfortunately my time is coming to an end, so i thought i would fundraise for them as they have been hit hard, like every charity with the current situation.

If you would like to donate to my fundraising page, you can do so


If you would like to track how far i have traveled, you can visit

The interactive map

And search for “Torie Tennant”. There seem to be a couple of other Tories’ on the map so it might take a while to find me if you didn’t use my full name.

Thank you in advance for any donations or shares. I really do appreciate it.

Traveling Again Post Virus

Today, i met up with some friends to celebrate my birthday. I decided that because this was in Antrim, there was no point in my friends coming to Ballymena, when they would have to go through Antrim anyway. Plus, it was only a 15 minute journey, so not too long to start getting back on the trains again.

I haven’t been on a train since the middle of March. I would have used them pretty regularly before the virus without much thought. I’d either be heading to meetings, playing tennis or attending an art class, to name but a few reasons to use it. I don’t think anyone imagined that everything would just stop in March.

Gradually, i’d gotten used to going out and about again, but something was making me feel really uncomfortable about using the trains. I can’t even put my finger on what it was, but i was deffinetly very anxious. Would i get assistance on and off the trains for a start? Would i be allowed to travel since none of my travelling was ever really essential? What would other passengers be like? The list was endless. Plus, did i really need to travel since everything was all virtual? I knew that the longer i left things, the harder i would find it if i ever wanted to use the trains again so i figured i needed to take the first step sooner or later.

When i arrived at the train station, the first thing i noticed was a sign which was like an a board, presumably explaining all the new things that you needed to do before travelling etc. Once we got round that, it was our usual way to the platforms. When you come up the ramp, there seemed to be a barrier up, so that you had to queue and to prevent people gathering. The station staff met me and said they would assist me no problem. They also said i would have no problem travelling to Belfast if i needed to. I was then guided to a seat.

As i waited on the train, there were regular announcements telling people to wear face coverings and to keep two metres away if possible. There were also announcements to tell people to allow people to board the train first. I still don’t understand why this should ever need mentioned, but people are in a terrible rush to get on at times.

When the train came, i was assisted on and to a seat. The train was busy, but not overly so. Apart from the fact that we were all wearing masks, i experienced the same level of service pre virus, which really put my mind at ease and i feel more confident to travel again in the future.

We hit our first snag when i got off though as the station door was an exit only, but the station staff opened the door for me where i waited until i was picked up and taken to the restaurant. Again, there were regular announcements, and i did feel a little nervous when i heard an announcement that you could only be there if you were boarding a train, but i didn’t have to wait long until i was collected.

I enjoyed a beautiful birthday lunch and received some lovely gifts from friends.

It was a lovely day and i’m glad i was able to take that first step on to public transport again. I’m looking forward to returning, slowly to things and i just hope that things remain as positive as they did today.

That First Meeting

A yellow lab retriever stands beside me. She is called Ushi.

It was exactly 10 years ago when i first met Ushi. Little did i know, i would be matched to her and she would open up so many doors to me.

I can remember that day like it was yesterday. I was asked if i would like to meet a dog before traveling up to Belfast for a meeting. It was stressed that this was not a matching visit, but it was just a walk as i had been waiting on the list for a while and did i fancy it. Of course i said “yes”. I met up with the instructors, and they had a beautiful dog called Ushi with them. I remember how strange it felt following the harness and how i could feel every wiggle. It was a brilliant walk, but i didn’t think any more about it.

A few days later, i got a call to ask if Ushi could be braught out again, so that i could try a different harness on her which might make it feel more smooth and less wiggly. Again, i didn’t really think much of it but i enjoyed another walk.

I got a final call saying that they thought that Ushi was a match and would i like to go for a matching walk. On this walk, Ushi walked at my speed, whereas the first couple of walks were slightly fast. I started training with her on the 30th August and never looked back.

i had no idea just how much we would do and see in the seven and a half years that followed. from not believing that i could leave my home town, to traveling to London, Dublin and Scotland as well as attending many meetings and events up in Belfast.

Ushi was a cracker of a dog, even though at times it felt like i was fighting an uphill battle with a dog that didn’t want to work. If Ushi didn’t want to do something, she just wouldn’t, and that was as simple as that. I knew that deep down inside her though was a dog who really did want to work. When she did work, she worked brilliantly. She just knew her own mind.

Ushi was very much a one person dog, so i knew that i could not keep her when she retired. Her nose got put out of joint easily and she would have sulked as far away from me if i petted another dog. I knew she would have to go to a very special home. Thankfully, her lovely puppywalker agreed to have her back in retirement. This couldn’t have worked out better as she knew Ushi’s quirks, and Ushi was happy seeing her.

I wondered at many points if i should get another dog, but i decided that i liked how fluid things were with a dog, so of course i applied again for Ushi’s successor. Idon’t like the word “replacement” as one dog should never replace another.

a yellow lab retriever sits beside me. She is called Vivvy.

I was incredibly lucky to get a call in October 2018 to say that guide dogs thought they had a match for me and would i like to meet her. Unfortunately, the dog they thought would be a match was too fast, but they did say they had another little girl in the car and would i like to have a walk with her. They told me that she most likely would not be a match, as she was very lively compared to Ushi and needed a lot of reassurance when working. When she was braught out of the car, she jumped straight in to my arms. You couldn’t get much livlier than that. When the harness was put on though, she slipped straight in to working mode. Her speed and tention were lovely. We agreed that we would try her in an area she knew to see what she was like, so the next week, i went up to Holywood to try her in her own area. again, her speed and tention were beautiful. She didn’t jump in to my arms this time thankfully, but wagged and wiggled beside me. I had one more walk with her, before we decided that she was a match.

Vivvy is totally different to Ushi in all aspects. She just loves life and oozes happiness. When i first trained with her, every time i said her name, i dreaded what she was up to, but now, i just feel love for her. I know what she can and can’t have toy wise, as she can be a bit of a mennice with soft toys in particular. She can still be lively when she plays, but she knows when to stop now, whereas when i first got her, she’d play all day if she could. She does need a bit of reassurance when she’s working at times, but the trick is not to worry her, and just let her know that the lorry isn’t going to get her, for example. Her route memory is amazing, and she doesn’t like getting things wrong. I don’t have to fight to get her to work, she just is so eager to please.

It was hard initially not being able to do all the things, and wait a little while and building up things gradually for her. It’s like she has just slotted in where Ushi left off.

I always said i would go over and see Ushi again after six months, but with getting Vivvy, it was this day last year when i got to see Ushi again. While Ushi did remember me, and did slide in to my left side, it was clear she knew who her people were now and was really happy. She had another dog for company and the two of them got on brilliantly. Vivvy and Ushi had a great time running after each other which was brilliant to see. Sadly, Ushi passed away in October, so i am so glad i saw her when i did and that i saw her when she was well.

I don’t know what the next 10 years will hold, but i have no doubt they will be just as enjoyable as the first 10 with a guide dog.

Small Delights

I’m still dipping in and out of the virtual creative writing classes, and this weeks’ task is on “small delights”.

Small delights

The constant pat, pat rythm of gentle paws beside me. Her speed is steady, but comfortable. She stops at a bench. This is where we sometimes sit when I offer her a drink. “Not today”, I say, but she still stands still. Two ladies speak, explaining why she has stopped. Off we go again.

The air is humid with the threat of rain. I hope the rain doesn’t come until I am home. It will not dampen my spirrets. A car idles in an entry to a drive way. We pass with no problem.

We come to a kerb. The place where we do yoga is up the path to our left. We haven’t been there in months, but she still remembers where it is. There are virtual classes i can attend, but like everything else, being there physically is much better. Still, onward we plod.

A hedge brushes me as we pass it. Thankfully it is soft and friendly, but still startles me. A lady asks if I am okay. We have a little chat before heading on on our journey.

We pass a bus stop, not far to go now. It seems to get warmer as we are surrounded by hedges on one side and a grass verge on the other. I hear roadworks. The path is still being widened. The new crossing has not been put in yet. I must cross the road carefully until it has been put in.

Eventually, we arrive at the vets. Nothing to worry about, just a check up. The last time we were here, we collected tablets from the window above my head. The main door is open today. We get confused in the carpark, but a voice from opposite to where i am standing gets us back on track. Straight in we go and sit in our usual spot. We are the only ones in apart from the receptionist.

The surgery door opens and in we go. The vet wears a visor, but reassures her nicely. We chat for a while, she has a clean bill of health. She gets weighed and off we go again. The vet crosses me over the road, helpful as always.

Our usual way is blocked. Back to the road works again. I wonder when it will be finished. I stop to get my bearings. A couple approach. We chat as we walk. My heart soars when we get back on track. The man walks ahead of us, while the lady and I chat. We reach a point where we part, but we smile at each other and i thank her before we go.

We keep walking, now back to where we started. She does not show me the bench this time, but straight to the crossing. On we go, with no interuptions.

We keep going until we are back on our street. Past the Akeeta dog, safely tucked away behind a secure gate. I know it can’t get out. Cars always park on the right, but we stay left, and take a path which avoids the cars. We turn left. We pass any bins that haven’t yet been braught in. Today is bin day. We pass cars but we have plenty of space to get around them. I ask her to “find home”. She knows exactly where “home” is. I give her a treat and put my key in the lock. another positive journey completed. So many small things that make me smile.

Time Never Stops

The topic this week for the creative writing class i’ve been dipping in and out of is time and our interpritations of it.

<H1>musings on time<H1>

Time can be a funny thing. Sometimes it can be fast or slow, but it never seems to stop. I suppose in a way, it makes the world go round. Time can move at different speeds, even for the person sitting next to you. Even as you sleep, time just keeps on going.

Time can be measured on a watch or a clock. It can be on your phone or in the clock in your car. It can be on a computer screen, or on a heating system.

Time doesn’t care if you are late for a train, or if you will make that important meeting. The train will go no matter if you’re on it or not, and the meeting will carry on without you. It won’t apologise for you either.

When you are enjoying something, time flies but will drag in if you aren’t looking forward to something or if you are waiting for a parcel or a grocery delivery.

Even with the current situation of lockdown, time keeps on going. It doesn’t know what lockdown is, nor why it exists.

If i wake up in the middle of the night, the first thing i reach for is my phone. I check the time and it settles me down again for sleep. If i don’t have some way of checking the time, i will waken more, and won’t sleep propperly unless i can check the time at least once during the night.

My dog even knows what time it is. She wakens me each morning for her breakfast. I check the time then and know if it is too early or if it is, indeed, breakfast time for her.

When i do parkruns, or walks, i always want to know how fast or slow i completed it in. Two volunteers hold timers, in case the first stop watch fails. After parkrun, it’s time to catch up with friends and the parkrun community over a cup of tea and sometimes a bun. If i have to be somewhere after though, i will be on edge, in case i miss my train to whereever i need to be.

Time really is, well timeless. It has no beginning and hopefully no end.

Reviewing The Smart Beetle 14 cell Braille display From Hims

I recently got given the Smart beetle braille display from


It is a 14 cell braille display designed for use with mobile devices or a computer.

What’s in the box?

The box contains The Smart beetle itself, a usb cable, a cd with drivers on it for installing on a computer, a cloth pouch and a braille manual. There was no plug, but the usb can fit into a standard charging plug or a computers’ usb port. You can also get a leather case for the beetle, which you have to buy separatly from the main product. I got this display second hand, so the person who originally bought it also bought the leather case.

Device Layout

The device is a small rectangle no bigger than a womens’ purse or a folded blue tooth keyboard. When the machine is facing you, the 14 cell braille display is the first thing you come to. On the left and right of the cells are two tiny buttons for panning back and forth through each line.Just above the cells, are 14 currsor routing buttons, to allow you to place the currsor whereever you need it. Just above the currsor routing buttons are two lights, roughly placed at cells 5 and 10. These are to indicate the battery status and the bluetooth connection.

Above the lights and the currsor buttons, on a slightly raised surface, are from the far left, the f1 and 2 key and the space bar, the f3 and F4 keys.

Above this is the main display. From the far left, is the backspace dots 3, 2, and 1 keys, followed by the dots 4, 5 and 6 keys. To the right of the dot 6 key is the Enter key.

On the right side of the device is the power and menu button. On the back right, the usb port for charging and finally, the reset button is on the back left of the device. The speaker is on the under side of the device.

Pairing to an Idevice

I found pairing the Smart beetle a bit confusing, to be honest. I thought you would pair it up like a standard bluetooth keyboard by going into the bluetooth settings and pairing it that way, but for it to work as a braille display, you have to go in to “general, Voiceover and braille”, and choose “smart beetle” for the display. Once i had that figured out, i was flying. You can use it as a bluetooth keyboard, which means it won’t display anything in braille and just act like a bluetooth keyboard, but i don’t know how to work this feature and it seemed to freeze the beetle. Once the beetle is paired, you can see everything on your iphone or ipad. When you turn on the beetle, it will play a sound to let you know it is turned on. It will also display the words “power on” on its display. The beetle will also play a sound when a device is connected to it. Holding the power button in for three seconds will turn it on or off, but pressing the power button once quickly when it is on, will bring up the beetles internal menu. The menu lists the different ports, such as “serial”, “usb” or “bluetooth keyboard”. There is also an “information” button which contains information about the device, such as battery status and firmware version. There is also a “pairing mode” and a list of devices already paired to the beetle. There is also an “options” menu for changing the language, having the display show you messages in contracted or uncontracted braille, an option for using the beetle in one-handed mode or turning the sounds on or off. The sounds are on by default.

The beetle is very easy to type on once you get the hang of the Voiceover gestures and that. The cells are very quiet when refreshing, but you do hear a slight “ticking” sound as the curssor blinks to itself. There is slight lag when opening apps and unlocking the phone, but it is pretty responsive otherwise. You can pair the beetle up to 5 devices plus a computer via Usb. It is very easy to switch from one device to the other and it will automatically switch to the device you are using if you turn on your ipad, for example, when it is connected to the phone. I think this is pretty cool.

The battery lasts for about a day, depending on how much you use it and how many devices you have paired to it. The battery takes about 4 hours to charge. One thing i did notice when i went to charge it is it doesn’t seem to like the Apple charger as it asked for a propper adaptor. Once i changed plugs though, it worked a treat.


Whilst the beetle is a great little machine, it does have a few drawbacks. As previously mentioned, the device lags a little when unlocking your Idevice or when opening apps. Once you get over that hurdle, it works fine. Having the sounds on seemed to make the beetle lag more but i don’t know if that was just me imagining it.

Sometimes, the beetles’ braille cells will randomly freeze. This seems to happen after a long period of useage or when switching from one device to another and back again. The commands will still work but the display is unresponsive. I found turning the beetle off and on again seems to fix it.

The currsor sometimes seems to lose focus and jumps to a different place on the line. This can be a bit annoying especially when you have typed something long so it’s worth keeping an eye on where the currsor is and where you want it to be.

The “low power” notification when the battery needs charged seems to happen between 30 and 40 percent. It then doesn’t seem to tell you again after this. You can still check the battery status though by going in to the beetles’ menu and the “information” section.

I’ve noticed that one of the cells doesn’t seem to be coming up right which can make it appear as if there are more dots than there should be. This may just be the condition of the beetle and not a drawback as such.

finally, i would use the odd emoji for my messages or for Facebook. Whilst these are not essential, when you type a colon, and a right bracket for a smiling face, this translates as the word “were” as that is what a right bracket is normally as a contraction. However if you change from contracted braille to eight dot braille, you can then type it in and switch back again. When i do this though, every time i press the space bar, it changes between the emoji and the English UK keyboard but does not allow me to type. It is the same if i pick an emoji from the emoji keyboard. Usually, turning off the beetle and turning it back on seems to help but it is a bit annoying to have to do this every time you want to use an emoji.

This is a great little machine, and although you can pair up to 5 devices to it, this reduces the length of use between charges. whilst it is okay for a short time, i would not use it for long emails or meetings as i am finding that it is slightly faster touch typing on a bluetooth keyboard than typing in braille. The beetle does what you need it too though and is great for travelling or if you don’t want to type on the screen.

The Cat In The Alley

I’ve fallen off the writing waggon a bit but here is my post for this week.

The catin the alley

She woke with a start. She saw nothing at first. It was so very dark. Then she heard it. A faint, whine, almost like a cry. She looked around, but nothing was there.

“Mary, it’s just your imagination” she told herself. “That whine was probably just a fox or something”. After all, what else would cry at this time of night. As she drew the curtains, there it was again. A tiny, high pitched cry. This was no fox, she was sure of that. Foxes usually screamed, but this was different. This was deffinetly a cry. She knew she couldn’t settle until she went to investigate what was making the sound. She flung on her shoes and grabbed her phone in case she needed to call for help and headed outside.

Along the side of the house, there was an alleyway. It didn’t really lead anywhere but it was a shortcut down to the river. Well, the rivver was accross a field, but the alleyway saved you walking the longer way round. Mary was all for taking shortcuts. She never had time for taking the long way if there was a quicker way. Some would say she was always in a rush, but she disagreed. In fact, she would get annoyed easily if she had to make a longer journey than neccessary.

As she stepped out of her house, the moon was shining brightly. She had to cover her eyes for a minute-it was so bright. She stood and listened for a minute. The air was beautifully still and calm. It was actually quite peaceful. The peace was soon shattered when she heard that cry again. It seemed to come from the alley beside the house. Her heart began to race as she turned in the direction of the sound.

As she walked slowly down the alley, the crying sound came again. She couldn’t see anything at first, but then she saw it. Two little eyes piered round at her from the darkness.

“What on earth?” She thought, overcoming the urge to go back. There was deffinetly something there, she just had to build up the courage to see what it was. She patted her dressing gown pocket, remembering that her phone was there in case she needed it. She took a deep breath and crept forward.

There, against the wall, was a tiny cat. She looked beautiful. She was black with a little white patch on her chest. She had the most piercing blue eyes. Mary could hear her mothers’ voice ringing in her ears.

“No Mary, we are not getting a cat. What would you want with a filthy animal like that anyway? Don’t you know it’s superstitious to see a black cat?”

Marys’ mother was very superstitious. Plus, she really did not like animals at all. Whilst she would never hurt anything, she believed that animals should never live with people and they should always be outside. Plus, black cats were “evil” she’d often say. Perhaps this was why Mary had always loved animals. When she was a little girl, she’d always dreamt of becoming a vet, or owning her own rescue. She’d always be running up to people asking to pet their dogs, or begging her mum to let her get a pet, even just a goldfish. But her mother would have none of it, and often told her so, much to Marys’ protests.

The cats’ cry snapped her back to the present. The cat was huddled in to a ball. As Mary moved closer, the cat began to hiss slightly. “It’s alright,” she soothed, “i won’t hurt you”. The cat eyed her wearily, but began to relax, just a little. Mary knew from watching programs on the tv, that she had to be quiet and not make any sudden movements, as she didn’t want to frighten the cat. So she kept talking and moving slowly towards it. As she got closer, she noticed two little kittens beside her. They looked as if they were just born. Mary was suddenly overcome with emotion as she’d never seen something so tiny. The kittens looked exactly like the mother cat, only one had a white patch on its’ chest. She couldn’t see their eyes as they were still closed. The mother cat was becoming very protective of her kittens now, and Mary began to back away. She knew she couldn’t just leave them there, but she could at least try and make them comfortable in the alley.She slowly got up from her crouched position and began walking back to the house, all the while, trying to be as quiet as she could. As she opened her door, she did not know what she would give the cat. It was probably hungry, but she had never dealt with a cat, or any animal before, so wasn’t sure what to do. As she looked around, she remembered the old shoe box she had been meaning to put in the recycling. It would be perfect for a cat and her kittens, at least until the morning. Luckily, yesterdays’ paper was still sitting on the kitchen table. She grabbed it and began tearing it in to strips.

“This would at least keep them warm.” She thought as she tore the last piece. She cut the top of the shoe box so that it would be easy for the cat and her kittens to climb in to. She knew the cat probably wouldn’t let her near enough to let her lift her in to it.

After preparing the box, she looked in the cupboard for a small bowl. There was some chicken left over from her dinner, so she could always feed the cat with that. She didn’t even know if cats liked chicken. She found two little bowls at the back of the cupboard and began to shred the chicken in to one and she put a little water in the other.

“At least the cat and her kittens would be comfortable and fed”, she thought as she shredded the last of the chicken. She picked up the bowl of water and the chicken and left the house. She knew she couldn’t carry it all at once. As she stepped out, she could hear the gentle cry so she knew they were still there. As she crept down the alley towards them, one of the little kittens turned in her direction. Her heart melted.

“You’re really imagining that now.” She told her self, a bit too sharply. “Sure their eyes’ aren’t yet open”. She gently placed the two bowls down a short way away from the cat so as not to startle her and went back for the box. As she left the house with the box, she glanced at the clock on the wall. It was 2 o’clock in the morning. She couldn’t exactly tell her colleagues at the hotel that she wouldn’t be in because she was looking after a cat and her kittens all night, could she? She gently placed the box down near the bowls and took one final glance at the cat. She really hoped they would be safe andthat they would still be there in the morning. There was nothing more she could do now though, she just had to go to bed and hopefully, fall asleep. Otherwise, she’d be fit for nothing in the morning.Taking one last look at the cat and her kittens, she whispered “good night” and crept back to the house.

She awoke the next morning to the shrill sounds of her alarm. She had already hit the snooze button at least five times already. She knew she would have to get up, otherwise she’d be late to work. As she opened the curtains, she saw that it was raining pretty hard. She’d need to wear her wellington boots to work and change in to her smarter shoes when she got to the hotel. They would get ruined if she wore them in that weather. Her thoughts turned to the cat and her kittens, but they would have to wait until she got home. She just hoped that the alley would provide enough shelter for them and she would be back to check on them later.

When she got home from working at the hotel, she was cold and wet after getting soaked on the way too and from work. All she wanted was a nice, hot bath as that was the only thing to warm her up. as she put her key in the lock, she thought about the poor cat and her kittens. She decided that she could always check on them later, after she had warmed up.

As she lay in the bath, she came to the realisation that there was probably very little she could do for the cat. It was most likely a feral cat and could probably fend for itself without her help. That was what her head told her anyway but her heart wanted to make sure they were okay. She vowed that she would allow herself one last check before bed, but that would be it. Life was more important than worrying about a random cat who just happened to be in her alley.

She could see nothing but darkness as she piered out some time later. There was no sign of the cat, nor her kittens at all. All that were there were the bowls she’d braught out the night before and a soggy mush that was the cardboard box and its’ newspaper. It was no surprise that it was just mush due to all that rain. As she emptied the rain water out of the bowls, she had one last look down the alley before heading back inside.

Discover Prompts-Slow

What do you think of when you hear the word “slow”? For me, it can be nice to slow things down a little, especially if you’ve had a busy few months. Normally, i’d have dreaded when things began to slow down, but at christmas, for example, when everything that i am involved in like the tennis and yoga began to stop, i told myself that for those few weeks, i would not travel anywhere and just enjoy being at home in one place until January. I really enjoyed the break from the hussle and bustle, and it was nice to not have to be anywhere at a certain time or anything, but i was glad when things started up again. It was nice to recharge though.

Now, everything has stopped once again, but this time, there was no preparation, no knowing that things would stop. I am finding this harder to deal with in a way and it has left me feeling very sluggish and not really motivated to do much. I am telling myself though that it is like christmas once again in my head because on christmas day, everybody spends time with family and doesn’t do much. The only thing with christmas is you know when it will end, whereas now, we don’t know when things will return to normal.

Another time when slowing things down is good is yoga. I know when i first went to yoga, i thought it would be this magical thing and you would instantly feel connected and there would be a fan fair or fireworks at the end, but there isn’t. Sometimes you do wander off in your mind during yoga, but it is good to try, and just be on the matt, focusing on the poses and the breath. You can leave any worries outside the class and just focus on your breath. It doesn’t always work though, but that’s okay.

Slowing things can be good sometimes, but other times, it can lead to you getting a bit stuck.

This post has been part of the

Discover prompts

Series running throughout April.