by Amanda Badger
‘This is the Royal Free Hospital, you recently came in for a chest x-ray’ said the voice on the phone.
‘Yes,’ I replied.
‘Can you come back in right away? We think you may have TB.’
I began to see stars as the information sunk in. What do I tell my fiancé? Have I passed it on to anyone? I hadn’t felt right since moving to London from Liverpool in 2011 but had never been able to find an explanation. After a worsening of my symptoms in 2017 I’d gone to my GP in desperation. I was overheating all the time and feeling exhausted and dizzy. But TB?!
Two more years of tests and scans failed to find any evidence of TB or any other illness for that matter and the lung inflammation slowly calmed down by itself. It was as if my immune system had kicked off and had a tantrum for no reason. I’ve also had ulcerative colitis since 2001. One consultant speculated that this could be a sign of my unruly immune system! I eventually got a diagnosis of M.E – also known as chronic fatigue syndrome – which was an answer at least, even if there isn’t a cure.
My husband, Anthony, and I moved from our studio flat in central London to a house in Apsley last year, amazed at how quiet it is compared to the city and also how friendly the locals are. I was working as a design and print manager at a school in South Kensington but switched to freelance design shortly after we moved. I feel connected to Apsley in a way I never did with London and have heard many people say the same thing. I love London and am glad I spent almost nine years there but Hertfordshire feels so much calmer and greener. I remember going for a walk to Bunker’s Lane Nature Reserve, feeling the wind on my face and thinking ‘I’m home’.
Within a month of moving in I found Total Balance Clinic on London Road in Apsley and they are amazing! The staff are so friendly and helpful. I credit Ian (Doctor of Chiropractic) and his team with giving me my life and energy back. A combination of chiropractic correction, diet and lifestyle changes produced amazing results. After nine years of feeling exhausted I’d forgotten what it was like to feel ‘normal’. I went from being practically bed ridden to being able to decorate a house within a few months. I still have to be careful but I feel so much better now.
Used to working in a busy London office I found freelance life to be a bit of a challenge at first. I joined the local pre-school group, Buzzy Bees at St Mary’s Church, as a volunteer and loved every minute. I love the feeling of camaraderie and seeing the children develop their own personalities. Their curiosity and energy never fail to delight us all. For eight years Christmas parties had been, for me, very corporate events held in glitzy Mayfair hotels and South Kensington restaurants. Don’t get me wrong, they were all lovely. I mean who doesn’t love a beautiful location and good food? Not to mention it was the only time in the year I got to wear a floor-length sparkly dress. But last Christmas with my friends at Buzzy Bees was so different and so much fun! There were no chandeliers, no CEO speeches, no prosecco. There were sausage rolls, mince pies, a visit from Santa, Christmas carols and a snowball fight with fake snow. The vicar visited and directed a slightly chaotic Nativity play which was absolutely adorable. We even got a present from Santa. We had an absolute blast!
Despite being a graphic designer for 12 years my passion has always been illustration, inspired from a young age by my Dad, a cartoonist and illustrator. With Anthony’s support I decided to open an online shop, Mrs Badger Design, and turned my illustrations into quirky greetings cards and gifts. I find inspiration in all sorts of places: from museums and the natural world to vintage fashion and antiquarian books. I love being a designer, it’s so varied. During a stint in Belgium I once designed wrapping paper for Guylian chocolates and a few years ago worked on the marketing for ‘Polo in the Park’ at the Hurlingham Club in Fulham. Creating gifts and cards is different again and a definite learning curve. It’s still early days but I’m really enjoying the challenge.
The onset of lockdown in March brought many challenges. Being confined to the house due to health reasons is nothing new to me. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I am especially sorry for those living on their own or parents trying to work from home and homeschool at the same time. That is literally two jobs! Naturally Buzzy Bees had to close for the foreseeable future. The parents, children and volunteers were all devastated. I was due to help out with the creation of their art and craft projects. During lockdown I repurposed some of the ideas I had and turned them into free printable games and colouring sheets. They may still be useful for the summer months. They can be downloaded from my Pinterest at https://www.pinterest.co.uk/mrsbadgerdesign/childrens-activity-sheets/free-printables/
Anthony and I are so glad we moved to Apsley when we did, getting to know the local area and meeting some wonderful people. Anthony has been able to work from home during lockdown and it’s been lovely to see more of him. There is a real sense of community here that was strong anyway but seems to have been enhanced by the lockdown. Everyone looks out for each other. It’s almost guaranteed you’ll bump into someone you know at the supermarket for a (socially distanced) chat. And our driveway VE Day party with our neighbours is something we will remember for many years to come.
Mrs Badger Design
Total Balance Clinic
Buzzy Bees, St Mary’s Church, Apsley
A very lively mums/dads/grandparents and toddler group that meets in the refectory at 9.30am every Tuesday during term time. The group is not running at the minute due to the pandemic, but for further information and enquiries please contact: