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My Binos and Me

Lisa Wells gives her perspective on spending time in nature after a Lyme disease diagnosis.

Nature and me always got along just fine until that long standing mutual agreement expired and bit me in the backside, or more specifically on the left foot. A tiny nymph tick bit me in 2009 while on holiday in France, it was Lyme disease that led to my collapse and overnight disability in 2015. 9 whole years of silently slow cooking before my life changed beyond recognition.

Prior to that I was a busy single mum, self-employed, enjoying keeping fit and active. I particularly loved exercising outdoors.  A local tennis club had its outdoor courts at the foot of The Mourne Mountains and many a happy time was spent with the other mums and their kids enjoying a great game that’s a lot of fun. Also I loved going out for a jog/walk around the local forest parks and beaches. Living on the coast of County Down means being spoiled for choice when it comes to being outdoors in areas of natural beauty. 

I hadn’t watched nature shows like Springwatch before as I had assumed that was for people who (unlike me) were armchair experts on birds and wildlife.  As for gardening, well that was for middle aged people, I thought it was just more housework, only outdoors.  The appeal was completely lost on me, nature was to be admired, loved and experienced, but best done on the move. 

So you can imagine the challenge I faced when suddenly I was housebound and bed bound.  Life had screeched to a grinding halt, at my worst I could only lie in bed, unable to read, watch tv or listen to the radio.  That was when I started looking out of the window, because that was all I had.  I live in a small village and for the first time I noticed the big sky.  I drank in the beautiful sunrises that kept me company as insomnia was another unwelcome visitor. Our village is in an elevated area and I can see a lighthouse and the distant shore from my bedroom window.  I spent the time adjusting to being slow. It took a long time to do this, but while I was slowing down I started paying more attention to birds and other wildlife from the inside of my home. 

Of course it depends on your accommodation and where you live but I think that we can all be noticing nature, wherever we are.  I’ve become very fond of watching a pair of Jackdaws (I’ve named them Dolly and Derek) who frequent the roofs of the houses across the road.  Up until I became ill any understanding I had of birds was entirely accidental and usually only when reading books like Follow the Swallow to my young children.  In fact the rhyme was the only reason I remembered that Swallows migrate. 

Since then I have accepted many things about my life as it is now, many hours of CBT have helped me with that but I still rail against the life change.  I’m still angry and frustrated, yet I embrace the sadness and enjoy the memories of walking, jogging, playing tennis and being out of breath from exercise! 

I’m making the call for the indoor nature enthusiast to realise that we have a part to play in loving nature and encouraging others in a similar position to benefit from enjoying the world beyond our windows.  Just last year while sitting watching TV and having a cup of tea my partner spotted something unusual flying about our hanging basket outside. It turned out to be a Hummingbird Hawkmoth  We were amazed and delighted to see this visitor and we didn’t even have to leave the house!

You don’t need to know the names of the birds, their migration habits, or their songs. Just close your eyes and listen. I love hearing them chat to another bird in the distance, having little bird conversations. Imagine what they’re saying to each other! You don’t need to be an expert to enjoy seeing them in the trees or watch them gather sticks and other nest making materials. I love seeing Rooks test their chosen item by tapping it on the ground to see if it’s suitable and then either dropping it or flying off with it if it has passed the test! 

I recently discovered that my arms, along with my legs, appear to be mostly ornamental and therefore I’m unable to hold a pair of binoculars for any length of time.  So I’ve upgraded and got myself my first proper pair of binoculars, courtesy of the fantastic people at Opticron. Because of my aforementioned limitations I use a support as I can’t hold a pair of binos for long enough to see anything. My partner was in The Merchant Navy and apparently they called them “binos” (rhymes with Beanos) and who am I to argue?  Hence my Instagram handle @mybinosandme 

Thanks to the binoculars my world has opened up and although I can’t travel far and don’t always know what I’m looking at, it doesn’t stop me being filled with wonder at the nature that’s around us.  Now I can see the detail in the nests of the Rookery in the tree across the road, it’s amazing to see that from my sofa.

I am a reluctant lover of the slow life, even after 8 years I still find it very challenging. But being aware of nature, wildlife and my garden help me immeasurably. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am when I see my first Swallow of the year. I look forward to hearing about the first arrivals in April and am sad to see them leave in September.  The sky is very quiet without them.  Seeing them gives me encouragement to have hope, to keep going and to look forward to the Summer months ahead.  


May is Lyme disease awareness month, don’t get Lyme disease kids. Check out what you can do to prevent you, your loved ones and your pets from tick bites.