P-P-P-Peeping At Penguins Vs. Counting Sheep

I’m nowhere near my pre-CFS self, however I’ve come along way from sleeping for twenty hours a day. The graduated exercise I was initially prescribed was exacerbating already angry symptoms; reporting back, my GP told me not to push myself.

That was it! I always push myself! I’m stubborn with me and have a desire to be super productive. I had a stressful full time job, then took on a part time pastoral role involving being on call. Unfortunately, at that time, my social life revolved around dancing with the odd hike thrown in. This shifted when I embarked on the extra job. Co-ordinating leave from both jobs to get a complete break was rare, my work-life balance suffered, and ultimately so did my health.

Three or four years later and I’m still struggling but I’m doing much better. My determination is a hindrance and a help in equal measure. I’m not going to let CFS beat me but conversely I have been known to underestimate the toll certain activities take on me; but like to complete them all the same.

Snake Neck Turtles
Snake Neck Turtles

Recently, my helpful CFS therapist gave me an anology about batteries. People without CFS operate on a full battery after rest, but people with CFS have a battery which doesn’t recharge. Some activities empty the battery quicker than others – for me, dealing with difficult people. Sometimes activities can recharge you – I’ve discovered some by trial and error.

Got My Eye On You!
Got My Eye On You! – Gentoo Penguins

Riding now and then helps, as does spending time with friends who you can be in a CFS fog with, and are patient enough to go at your pace. The National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham was where I met one such friend. The energy used on this

Gentoos - Laughing, Lazing & Lingering!
Gentoos – Laughing, Lazing & Lingering!

excursion was far outweighed by the enjoyment of it. The company and the experience itself rejuvenated me more than sleep did at that time.

Once the crowds had dispersed we steadily made our way around. We caught the talk on the Gentoo Penguins; the lady said that they never swim but we were entertained by them waddling about in single file. We were fortunate enough to

Follow The Leader!
Follow The Leader!

catch them being fed too – they don’t have a fixed routine. The staff have got wise to their cheeky ways and now tick off who has been fed on a register – previously it was a free for all with identical penguins sneaking extra food!

Feeding Time!
Feeding Time!

We happened upon the British Rock Pool enclosure, inhabited by creatures I used to find when eagerly scouring beaches for wildlife. The member of staff said that this was the only place the public were allowed to touch any of the marine life – being naturally tactile I didn’t hesitate to roll my sleeves up and get stuck in! He said we could touch the sea anemones – I was surprised, I thought they stung. The gentleman advised not touching them in the wild as some sting and look similar to the species here. This particular aneome has tentacles which aren’t strong enough to pierce human skin; they just tickle and feel a little sticky. I was pleased to see native starfish too – never seeing one before, despite my searches. They feel like squashed fruit pastilles!

Rock Pool
British native sea life – visible at a beach near you!

Fortunately, as it was nearing my rest time, we reached the rays. Sitting next to the tank, we were mesmerised! Some of them would interact with you through the glass, others were trying to bury themselves in the sand, a few of them kept seeing off a poor plaice, who clearly just wanted to settle somewhere.

Know Your Plaice!
Instead of catching some rays this little plaice seems to be caught & moved by rays!

After enjoying the assortment of frogs, turtles, eels, jellyfish, seahorses and a pair of Asian Otters who were sleeping top-to-tail, we walked through a tunnel surrounded by water filled with sharks and bowmouth guitarfish. Enveloped by sealife we saw a school of fish eat the dead octopus that had been dropped in to feed them.

I think this is a male seahorse, inflating his belly to attract a mate.

Then we saw him! Molokai, a Giant Green Turtle. At nearly forty years old he must have been well over a metre in length and over 20 stone in weight. I knew they were large but I had no idea of the scale until I actually saw him – astounding, magnificent reptile that he is. I would have happily admired him all day as he glided through the water and negotiated the rocky cove.

Molokai – Giant Green Turtle. Such a graceful creature.

A chance glance as we left meant we captured another great sight – the Gentoos were actually swimming!

Fancy A Swim!
Gentoos swimming – please note all photos were taken on a temperamental old phone, so the quality is variable…

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