Raising awareness Our blog My trip to the Encephalitis Society Retreat Our trip to Buckland Hall June 2018 As a member of a writers group, I read my diary in which I had written about our wonderful trip to Buckland Hall, Brecon Beacons, for the Retreat in June 2018 (writes Linda Price, a member of the Encephalitis Society). Personally I had driven myself to North Wales. It was lovely weather but unfortunately a slow journey as the motorway was so busy. However I arrived in time for dinner and the first greeting. The drive to Buckland Hall from the motorway is adorable anyway, and the Welsh countryside beckoned me in. I feel the Welsh green colours are different to England. The buildings also attract my eyes to the stone structures of their housing and shops. The Encephalitis Society organise this special weekend every two years. As this was my third visit I looked forward to our break away from home, work, and at times a stressful life. I was recognised and greeted with assistance to carry a rather heavy suitcase a long way upstairs. It was a pleasure to greet all I had met before and to join in the events organised. Our first delight was dinner. The restaurant has wooden walls and ceiling, large open windows and views. The staff so efficient, polite and kind. Vegetarian meals can be a new experience. We all adored each meal at breakfast, lunch and dinner. And there is no lack of teas and coffees also. My room had a king size bed, perfect bathroom and a kettle if required. No view this time, but I won’t forget my last visit having the full open view of the beautiful hills and valley. You can sit where you wish for meals, meet new people, and enjoy the positive atmosphere. And, yes, there is a glass of wine! Personally, I needed to watch TV, on the first evening only, as the Coronation Street story was about to end, so I was shown the room with internet access, brill to see the ending (I hope). Others sit together chatting in the lounges, playing games, doing jigsaws and walking too. I loved to listen to the chap playing the piano, at the top of the huge wooden staircase. Yoga was a delight this time and I felt it was brilliant. The teacher was so kind and knowledgeable. Two days of yoga certainly re-warmed my feelings. And the drums! Yes, the drums we learned how to play. Again two days of drumming. I have a video recorded by a visitor that many people have now seen, in fact my writers group are asking to see! Drumming has a definite de-stress energy rise and feelings of contentment. At the shopping table I was drawn to a particular book. At first I felt it didn’t focus on encephalitis, I don’t always like reading about encephalitis. Professor Tom Solomon has written a book with Roald Dahl as the connection to health conditions. I can’t put the book down. The beginning tells me so much about a man I recognise as an author of children’s books. Dahl has had such an interesting life yet he also endured lives suffering with ill health. I was drawn in from page one as Professor Solomon senses an enormous man towering over him, on a hospital ward. His ‘deep, booming voice’ asks ‘what are you doing’? Solomon sees ‘large ears, twinkling inquisitive eyes, ‘Is it the BFG peering at me?’ But no, this was Roald Dahl, author of the Big Friendly Giant. I found myself quickly sucked in again on page 44. Dahl was a pilot in WWII, crash landing, losing his nose! As I read on interested and fascinated I became aware his life was so closely affected by ill health, yet the writer Solomon being a Doctor, (now in neurology and now the chair of the Encephalitis Society's Scientific Advisory Panel) brought out the nurse in me, deep into the book. Dahl’s baby boy was in a car accident, causing haematoma, yet his future life is told to be cured. Then encephalitis came onto his seven year-old daughter. It began as measles but ended her life. This could of course be sad to read but the facts drew in my need to understand more. Encephalitis is clearly talked about in this book. I am now on page 148 having read how Dahl’s wife Pat, has a stroke. Dahl had a lifelong interest in the medical world. I am personally finding it difficult to put the book down. I also see on a recent email from the Encephalitis society, that the next Retreat in two years’ time is in the process of planning. Can we wait? No, roll on two years!