Sail a Tall Ship from bed or armchair!

Sailonline Tall Ship Racing 2016

How about racing a Tall Ship from your bed or armchair?  

If your imagination has ever been captured by the sight of a Tall Ship in a film or documentary, or even when reading Patrick O’Brien’s Aubrey & Maturin series, you will have wanted to experience sailing one.

This summer an online virtual sailing navigation organisation, Sailonline, will be sailing four different tall ships against the Class A vessels, like Jubilee Sailing Trust ship, Lord Nelson in the 2016 Tall Ships Races organised by Sail Training International.
Here’s the info from Sailonline:   


Why am  telling you all this?  Simply because I have been a volunteer OPS Admin with Sailonline since 2010 and finding Sailonline, shortly after my medical situation began requiring me to spend my time mostly at home, has been like a lifeline to me.  Whether you have been unwell for a very long time, or like me now, mostly at home and on-bed, after previously being out/about, working, travelling overseas and generally active in the real world, to find a way to engage with that real world beyond one’s doorstep while accepting the curtailing of “normal life” can be very challenging.   Sailonline gives everyone with an internet connection access to the real world of sailing.

Sailonline is a free to play wind navsim sail-racing game.  It has quite an old-fashioned UI, but this disguises a sophisticated and very realistic platform.  By racing here, you can easily learn the basics of sailing navigation and even how to use routing software, such as that used in great round-the-world races, like the Volvo Ocean Race or the Clipper RTW Race.  Routing software speeds up the manual calculation of chosen routes and fine tunes it in a fraction of the time it would take if you were to use spreadsheets or a calculator, which is why it is an essential for all yachties planning on venturing further afield than their local waters.

Sailonline uses NOAA wind files (Gribs), updated 4x a day and winds are fed into each race at 10min intervals so you really are sailing in as close to real-time conditions as possible.  Many SOLers around the globe are sailors in reality, racing or cruising a range of boat types, although not many have sailed a Tall Ship, and frequently say that their nav skills have improved from racing on Sailonline.  By learning about yacht racing on Sailonline, I can now happily eavesdrop (via YouTube/Livestream) on conversations between yachties and know what they are talking about!

As you can tell I am very happy to be associated with Sailonline, as without it I am sure, over the past years of being mostly housebound and unable to socialise or get out/about in reality, I would have been far less mentally stimulated and would never have dreamed of being able to (sail) race the world and feel part of a wider sailing community as I do now.

The Tall Ship series on Sailonline is a brilliant way for sailors / SOLers to experience just what it was like to sail the oceans in the early days of sailing and seafaring.  You can begin to comprehend why harbours were built where they were and why ships sailed specific routes, not just by reading but by doing.  For anyone interested in the history of ships and marine architecture, these races really shouldn’t be missed.

So do come and check it out for yourself.

 P.S. something else I’ve been teaching myself to do purely as a result of Sailonline is … basic graphics!  Look at the Sailonline homepage and you can see a little of my “work”!!

If you haven’t yet visited my website, please do so.

My Website


1st Anniversary of My Life After Parkinson’s


What a difference a year makes…… or does it?   This first anniversary of My Life After Parkinson’s finds me still here (hurray!) but alas, my situation is mostly unchanged (boo!).

Bullet points

 What is still keeping me mostly housebound?

A combination of Neuro and Gastro issues with added skeletal damage and decay.

What am I doing to change the current status?

Everything I can think of to manage symptoms day to day and to work with my doctors to try and find long-term strategies that will work!

What are my goals?

To find a way to overcome gastro and neuro issues so that I can once again try socialising in reality – even for just a few hours – without requiring days of on-bed recovery thereafter.  Longer term? to figure how to get away from home for more than a few hours, of course!

Can it be done?

I’ll be giving it my best shot, as always.


I am very thankful that I appear to have inherited my late mother’s innate resilience in the face of adversity and, even more importantly, her sense of humour when all appears to be heading to worminess.

I also feel blessed that I not only have access to social media and the internet, but that there are folks I know there, as well as in reality, who choose to stay in touch with me and let me share in their adventures.   No longer being eligible for the support of Parkinson’s charities did leave me feeling quite alone, so without social media, I have no doubt that my mental health and overall well-being over this past year would have been seriously in jeopardy.

Twelve months ago I was writing the joyful news that my neuro diagnosis was no longer one of Parkinson’s Disease.  I remain more than joyful, of course, with that diagnosis-reversal, but part of me is feeling somewhat thwarted that NewNeuro’s predictions with respect to neuro issues are coming true.  He did warn me not to expect improvements and so it is that most neuro “stuff” is unchanged, a few new issues cropped up during and following the parkinsons-drug withdrawal in the summer and autumn of 2015, and some symptoms have deteriorated.

Only in 2015 did I learn that that parkinson’s drugs are only for the motor symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease.  Since the 2006 diagnosis I had been wrongly attributing my entire battery of motor/non-motor symptoms to “parkinsonism” and expecting the medication to improve things.  When I was diligently reporting all symptoms I considered neuro ones to OldNeuro each visit,  I suppose I expected to be told precisely which were/were not associated with the diagnosis.

It is clear that I expect(ed) too much!

NewNeuro seemed quite shocked at this state of affairs – for all my knowledge about parkinsonism and the actual management of my neuro situation, I just hadn’t grasped two fundamentals (1) if Parkinson’s drugs don’t improve mobility they should be withdrawn (they aren’t toxic but they have many adverse side effects), (2) if, within 10yrs of symptoms showing and a diagnosis being reached, there is no significant (wheel-chair needing) disability developing then the diagnosis is unlikely to be Parkinson’s Disease.

I hadn’t known this.

I suppose because my life was so taken up with just getting through each day with so much happening, so many aspects of me appearing to go through some kind of system failure – from vision to hearing to digestion to movement to tremor etc., I just wasn’t capable or equipped to step outside the situation and (re)appraise it.  The seemingly endless personal admin involved with disability and finances, and even just trying to cope day to day (not washing and not having clean clothes is not an option, oddly enough!) was, and remains, very tiring – mentally and physically!   To cap it all, I used to sleep in 2hr stints as my body was so stiff it didn’t turn over while I slept overnight, so would wake me to turn over … sleep deprivation is a form of torture so… bad bad me for not cottoning on that there was a bunch more going on than neuro-dysfunction/parkinsonism.

To be fair, though, when I met with others living with a Parkinson’s Disease diagnosis, we all had the same issues and went about things the same way, even recognising what we were doing and why, so maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself and expect me to have figured out that the diagnosis was in error.   Deep down, of course,  I had always been praying that I didn’t have Parkinson’s Disease and referring to it as “my form of parkinsonism” and, maybe if I’d never accepted the specialist’s recommendation to start medication early, I might now be in a very different situation altogether.  No point in “what-iff-ing”, though – it is what it is.

These days I am happy to say that I am sleeping a lot better (at least 4hr stints) and my mind is continuing to clear and sharpen up since my last dose of Stalevo on 25 October 2015.  The Neuros said that the drugs would have been eliminated within a few weeks of this date but it seems to me that my clarity of thought took a lot longer (maybe due to my predisposition to only slowly metabolise drugs).  Who knows.

How I am now is what has to be managed!  I continue optimistic that against all odds I shall find a way to reverse neuro-plastic changes resulting from nearly a decade of unnecessary parkinson’s medication – at this point, we have no clue how I would have been without them (something pretty wrong clearly did happen to my brain function during the March 2006 anaesthesia), and we have no way of knowing how I will progress!

Identifying “Not Parkinson’s”

Having been warned by NewNeuro at the November 2015 appointment that my neuro situation might well be unchanged or worse after the parkinson’s drugs withdrawal, I have spent the intervening months since then trying to rule out alternative causes for my “not parkinson’s” motor and non-motor symptoms (chiefly in the hope of finding a “fix” for them!).   It turns out that multi-joint arthritis and sacral nerve damage from previous back injuries may well be causing the bulk of my walking and joint problems, compounded, of course, by neuro dysfunction (proprioceptive issues etc).  This is where my continuing gentle rebounding, theraband stretches, light weights, balance ball sitting and occasional MagnEtrainer pedalling comes in to play.  Tinnitus, auditory processing disorder and mild hearing loss are not due to neuroma and, together with other non-motor symptoms without an organic explanation are evidence of brain dysfunction/neuro-plastic changes.

A Life After Parkinson’s does not mean a life with no neuro- /parkinson-like symptoms!

At the November appointment NewNeuro said he would refer me to a different physio/multi-disciplinary team at another London hospital that specialises in neuro dysfunction.  The referral went through and I recently got a date for my first appointment  at the end of June.  I will see New Neuro after that and see where we go from there.

Gastro Status

Gastro problems are more wide-ranging than previously thought – yet again recent test results have supported my reported symptoms but there is no quick fix.    My Gastro Dude is, however, once again writing to the Prof at Bart’s (who ran the original battery of lab tests in 2013) to see if research and academia has anything else that might help me.  If it doesn’t, then how my life has been for the past three years since the pseudoobstructions first rocked on up is, as Gastro Dude has said, likely to be the best it can ever be.  Apparently, so long as (1) I have gastro output (or should it be throughput?!!) as a result of drugs and dietary therapies, (2) problems (organic and functional) have been identified and are being managed and monitored and (3) nothing sinister appears to be emerging, then Gastroenterology has achieved its purpose!  GastroDude told me that he has already put at my disposal the best chemical “weapons” to be used as/when I require them and, luckily for me, my GP is able to prescribe them (SEGUE: with our newly restructured/semi-privatised #NHS following the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, CCGs across the country lay down different commercially-based rules for what GPs can and can’t do and prescribe – it is no longer about the best care/treatment for the individual)


As those of you who keep in contact with me via Facebook and Twitter already know, on this first anniversary of my Life After Parkinson’s, I remain very involved with the day-to-day running of @Sailonline, following the exploits of @SolarImpulse and keeping tabs on the worlds of the Shiba Inu and Tiger!  I knit and crochet for charity (see my Knitting webpage)and occasionally inflict homemade items on chums.  Thanks to the TV and internet I keep up to date with  all the mainstream cooking competitions (Masterchef, Bakeoff), follow avidly “my” crime dramas, keep tabs on environmental issues and what is happening with the UK’s #NHS.  My Kindle remains my constant companion for all those occasions when reading becomes a possibility!  I also maintain myself and my wee hovel (one day I vow it will be civilised again!) albeit it only a little every day.  I am doing OK.

I shall conclude by asking you all to bear with me if I indulge occasionally in grumpiness .. normal service will always be resumed!

Happy 1st Anniversary of My Life After Parkinson’s!!







If you haven’t yet visited my website, please do so.

My Website