Val Crewe jokes she never knew she would become so intimate with a wheelbarrow.
It was after she and husband Peter moved permanently to Moulton Seas End and what had been their weekend escape from busy London lives.
They turned what had been two cottages into one house, and put on additions, doing much of the work themselves.
As part of the project they dug out the foundations and Val wheelbarrowed it away.
Later, Peter worried that he had damaged Val’s health in some way, causing the Parkinson’s that was diagnosed in 2010.
Peter says: “The specialist said, ‘Not at all, the more exercise the better’.”
Val has found that to be true, and says the best gift she has been given is a Wii Fit – daily sessions working on balance and coordination games help with some of the symptoms, as do her cross trainer and treadmill.
Val says: “I use them virtually every day and go on the Wii Fit daily regardless of how I feel. You have to be like that otherwise you would be sitting in an armchair.”
And that, says Peter, would ensure that the disease deteriorated quickly.
The pair of them have adopted a positive attitude to Val’s illness, but admit in the early days they found great comfort in the information available on the Parkinson’s UK website (parkinsons.org.uk), and the fellowship they found at the local branch.
Peter says: “You sit down with people who have got it and those things you don’t know about they can tell you.”
Val adds: “It’s a very nice feeling to go and be able to talk to other people and share experiences if you want to. You don’t feel so lonely.”
In fact Val and Peter have become very involved with the branch, Val as vice-chairman and Peter as secretary.
That proactive attitude is who they are. Val had a busy career as a local government officer, while Peter’s job evolved to becoming European rep for a Japanese computerised video games company.
They met as mature students studying for Open University degrees and in fact continued their studies while converting the house.
Val says: “I find a positive attitude works wonders. I consider myself very lucky actually. There are worse things.”