A Breath of Fresh Air

How I'm getting back out into the countryside whilst living with MS

About Me

I’m Mary, married to Pete. We have two adult children and live in the Yorkshire Pennines. I’ve had MS since 2004.

A particular frustration caused by the MS has been the difficulty of getting out into the countryside together as we used to. Always a problem solver, Pete came up with a novel solution: get a tandem!

After initial scepticism on my part, I am now mobile in unexpected ways, as we’ve been inspired to try out different ideas, and I’m feeling the fresh air on my face again. There’s more about how we got started here.

It made me feel so much happier that I wanted to share my adventures, by tandem, canoe, and even seeing just where I could get to in a wheelchair. I’ve really enjoyed writing the blog posts and taking photos to accompany them. However, as I explained here, I didn’t want to get repetitive so I’m not contributing much at the moment. If I’ve done something particularly memorable then I’ve been tempted back and will continue to do so when the urge takes me!

Note: A few words of safety aren’t amiss for anyone in the same boat who is tempted to try out anything similar, especially if you go far from rescue: carry a spare inner tube or a canister of the stuff that seals and reinflates tyres. As I can’t walk far, we also carry an emergency shelter (a “bothy bag”) and small sleeping bag.

That said, we’re simply having great fun!


23 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Janet on said:

    Great blog Mary, lovely to hear about your adventures. I have signed up so I see your updates. Hope you had a good time in France. Take care, Janet

  2. Chris Nic on said:

    I never miss your blog Mary – it must be keeping you fit (but I know its about much more than that) so keep going!

  3. Wendy Lennon on said:

    Love your blog Mary. I’ve done a few holiday ‘write ups’ which have been put into New Pathways – maybe I should start a blog too. Have had MS since 1995, am now secondary progressive and in a power chair full-time. My husband and I tried the tandem some few years ago – unfortunately we were not so successful as you and your husband – it really freaked me out. Such a shame, I so wanted it to work! Keep writing Mary!

    • Thanks so much Wendy! I’ll have to have a rummage round New Pathways – I’ve not come across it before. I’m sorry the tandem didn’t work out for you – I know what you mean though, I found it very hard to trust Pete at first! I hope you are managing to get out with your power chair one way or another. I’m really enjoying writing the blog and can really recommend it if you fancy giving it a whirl!

  4. Hi Mary, its good to meet you.

    I have SPMS dx in 2011. But its become apparent Ive had MS (RR) for 30 years. Its lovely to see you getting out and about doing things you enjoy
    I am going to follow your blog and will enjoy reading about your adventures.

    I started writing poetry after my dx and nobody was more surprised by this than me! I didn’t think I had a creative word in me! Sometimes I write a piece of prose instead of poetry, which is what my most recent post is. At first all my poems were written as therapy to help me come to terms with MS but Ive branched out a bit now and write about all sorts of other things too.

    Im no good at inserting links but if you want to check out my blog Im called journeyintopoetry.wordpress.com.

    Please carry on writing and cycling and doing all the other lovely things you do! One thing is for sure, since my dx I have made some terrific new friends! 😊


    • Thank you, Christine! It’s funny the things we get up to post diagnosis! Lovely to hear that poetry is helping you and I shall definitely have a browse of your blog.

  5. Inspired! I’m loving looking through your blog posts.
    I have PPMS (diagnosed 2006), but am constantly seeking out interesting and challenging fresh air ‘walks’, suitable to enjoy with my wife, our two whippet dogs, a camera and my mobility scooter.

    • Thank you, smiigtt! You sound like someone after my own heart! I’ve started to make enquiries about hiring a mobility scooter in scenic spots myself. It’s good to have different options. I hope you continue to find good ‘walks’ – I find the fresh air keeps me sane!

  6. Thank you for such a lovely blog and being so inspiring, my diagnosis was past the time I ended up in a wheelchair. I have felt so isolated and missed my long walks, I am going to see if I can persuade my husband to consider trying a tandem as that would be good for both of us.
    I have to say it was not something I had considered before.
    Thank you for the time it takes to write your blogs and publish your pictures, it is a really valuable tool for someone starting along the path of MS!

  7. Hi Mary, I’m another MSer, newly diagnosed and have really enjoyed reading your blog. It’s great that you get out and about so much – really inspiring and it’s reminded me not to use MS as an excuse to sit inside and fester! The tandem sounds great too. At the start of my ‘MS journey’ it’s really helpful to read that there’s still lots of joy to be had from life, we just need to make some adjustments to get there – thanks for sharing your experiences!

    I’m doing some volunteering work for the Shift.ms website and they’ve asked me to spread the word about their MS Reporters project – http://shift.ms/msreporters/. They train people with MS to interview people about issues that we all have questions about, they video the interviews so we can all share in learning the answers. Would you be able to drop me an email so we can discuss it in more detail?


    • Hi Rachel, thank you for your message. I hope you find a way to go forward with adjustments tht work for you.
      I’ll get in touch with you about the Reporters project.
      Best wishes,

  8. Hi Mary! First – my apologies for leaving this as a comment on your blog, but I could not find other contact information so figured I would try this. I am another MS blogger and I have created an MS Resources page on my blog that has grown to MUCH more than I ever intended – but given all the props and positive feedback it has become a goal of mine to keep adding to it and keep it updated and current. I was wondering if I can add your blog to the list? Here is the link so you can know WHERE the link would be posted http://www.bbhwithms.com/resources-all-things-ms/

    I look forward to reading more about your story.

    (aka BBH)

    • Hi Meg,
      thank you for getting in touch. What a lively and refrehing blog you have!
      Certainly no problem adding me to your blog list. Thank you for thinking of me!

      • AWESOME – Thanks Mary! I must admit that I had to google Yorkshire Pennines 🙂 I spent a month in the Lake District YEARS ago (age 13 or 14) is that relatively close? Also lived in London for a year in college (again YEARS ago:)
        Thanks for the kind words &I look forward to reading more

        (aka BBH)

      • Haha! I hope you like what you found! It’s a beuatiful part of the world. The Lake District is about two hours’ away and I’m really lucky that my parents live on its edge and I can visit it and them fairly often. Some of my blog posts are about adventures I’ve had there, which you might like to see!

      • Yes! Would love to see picks as being it was back in the dark ages (pre phones and digital cameras and before I took up photography) I don’t have any pics of the family I stay led with or their farm:(. Wish I did or at least remembered the I name. My memory of the visit is foggy at best keep hoping it will pop into my head. Is there a Kendall lake?

        On Thursday, April 14, 2016, A Breath of Fresh Air wrote:

      • If you have the time or inclination you should be able to find my posts from there through the ‘Lake District’ tag on the posts. There is a town called Kendal (where my family are) and lots of lakes in the area. I hope you enjoyed your stay!

  9. Babs Knightley Short on said:

    Hi – I have PPMS and have been trying to persuade my other half to try a tandem for months … at last he relented and we were planning to hire one this saturday for a trial, then he read this recent Guardian supplement article on tendering and has decided it is not a good idea !
    I would appreciate your comments on the article.

    • Babs Knightley Short on said:

      *tandeming (not tendering!)

    • Hi Babs,
      fantastic to hear you are planning on getting out on a tandem. I highly reccommend it!
      Do not let the article put you off! It is true that a high level of trust is required. It was a good moment when I realised that Pete probably didn’t want to come a cropper any more than me! He is (fairly) good at letting me know when a bump is approaching. It’s true that a large turning circle is required and that a tandem is no fun round a kissing gate but generally we travel along fairly straight routes and mainly flat ones, with some incline, which is where the electric wheel comes into its own.
      It is also true that the sight of a tandem always makes people smile. Be warned though, there are plenty of wags who will make jokes about the person on the back not pedalling! Please don’t be put off, and I’d love to hear how you got on. It might take some getting used to but I hope you find that it is worth it for getting into the countryside on. Best of luck,

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