Monday, 6 July 2015

Rainy Monday

Golly it's a cold, rainy day here in Shropshire.  I am resisting the urge to turn the central heating on and am spending a lot of time with Cyril (the three legged monster cat) doing this:

Although I did venture out at 9am (9am!) for a heart test at the local hospital.  This is a regular test I have to check that the chemo isn't wrecking my ticker.  All part of the endless delight of living with cancer.  Things still seem OK on that front, so a bit of relief there and I was smiling despite the pouring rain.

How unlike last Wednesday when, to celebrate the other-half's 50th birthday, we spent a total of three hours in the car. which hasn't got air-conditioning, with temperatures in the early 30s touching 36 degrees at some point (thats 98 degress in old money).  Being a delicate English rose (pauses for scornful laughs)  I don't think I've ever experienced that temperature before.  I was wilting.  Thankfully there were no traffic jams if they're had been I think I would have keeled over.  

Anyway the drive was to Stoneywell, a National Trust arts and crafts style property in Leicestershire.  It was beautiful and well worth the sauna-like trip

Not so beautiful was the new look the other-half had adopted to mark his entry into his 50s:

I had a bit of a creative splurge for the other-half's birthday and produced handmade bunting and a handmade card, both of which were too shoddy to be shown here.  Even more shoddy was the birthday cake I made.  The cake didn't rise particularly well but I soldiered on and iced it and put 50 on the top in stars.  However the icing was quite runny and the 50 kept sliding off down the side of the cake.  Sis no 3 pointed out that this was quite apt as, after the age of 50, life is all downhill anyway.  I think it's fair to stay I won't be appearing in the Great British Bake Off anytime soon.

The other-half had lots of lovely presents but one, from his 5 year old godson, was a stroke of genius as those who know Nev will testify:

Apologies for the very poor photograph.  I bought the other-half a half-decent camera for this birthday so I'm hoping that the quality of photos on this blog will improve dramatically in the near future (but don't hold your breath).

Talking of holding your breath something exciting but secret is going on. I hope to be able to reveal something I think is pretty fantastic in the next few weeks.  So stand by.  Ooh I'm such a tease!

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Hot cockles!

Well my cockles have been well and truly warmedThe fund raising barn dance (raising money for Breast Cancer Now and Compton Hospice) took place last night, and what a successful evening it was on all fronts!

To start off here's a couple of photos of the two of the cuter attendees who (like many others) had come dressed up to the nines.  Howdy pardners.

So many people made so much effort to ensure the evening was a success that it's hard to know where to start but, at the risk of this turning into a blub-fest worthy of an Oscar winner, here goes:

First and foremost huge thanks to Ian and Amy (the other-half's nephew and his lovely wife) who came up with the idea of the event in the first place and then worked tirelessly to make it a success.  The mere thought of the amount of hard graft they took on makes me want to have a lie down in darkened room.  And they did all this in the same year that they organised their house move from one area of the country to another, their overseas wedding and also their UK wedding celebrations.  Some people are just gluttons for punishment!

Also, thanks to more relations, namely Lee, Lydia, Sam and Gail who helped organise, obtained fantastic raffle prizes and sold heaps of tickets.

Lip-smacking thanks to all the cake makers (cakes were also sold on the night to raise dosh).  There were some fantastic and tasty creations, including industrial quantities of secret-recipe muffins from sis no 1 and cakes bearing the logos of the charities made by the lovely Carmel.  Even the other-half put his chef's hat on:

Big cheers too for the raffle prizes, either supplied by friends and family or obtained by them by going to their employers and local businesses.  Big thanks in particular go to the kind generosity of Virgin Trains.

Thanks to all those who helped set up on the evening, organising things like a well-oiled machine in a very limited time, while I faffed around like a particulary ineffective fart in a thunderstorm.

Thanks too to those who couldn't make it but still gave donations, which were very much appreciated.

And of course the evening would have been nothing without the support of all those who came along.  We had a really good crowd who completely entered into the spirit of things, the dance floor was full all evening from start to finish.

One of the main reasons the dance floor was so busy was the all round excellence of the band, the Slippery Hill Boys and their caller.  I really can't praise them highly enough.  Quite simply they were bloody brilliant and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them to anyone wanting a hoe-down to remember!  Here they are setting up

And here's the crowd thanking them at the end of the night

So the nitty-gritty.  As the result of everyone's generosity £1400  was raised for the two charities.  I am totally chuffed.  So before I start blubbing and hugging everyone in sight I'll sign off for now with more photos from the night.  Yee-haw! 

Monday, 22 June 2015

Dangerous Del

Today I have been wildly reckless.  I have changed the quilt on my bed from winter to summer mode.  So now I'll be snoozing under 9 togs instead of the usual 15.  I know, CRAZY (given the erratic summer we're having here in England), but that's the way I roll.

I've been doing quite a lot of snoozing lately, either in bed or on the sofa.  I think it's due to the current chemo but as side effects go it could be so much worse, so I will cease my whinging here.

Before I move on from the subject of cancer I just thought I'd mention that Breakthrough Breast Cancer (one of the charities we will be raising funds for at the forthcoming barn dance) has merged with Breast Cancer Campaign to form Breast Cancer Now, the largest breast cancer charity in the UK.  The new website is still nauseatingly pink (don't start me on the whole pink thing) but other than that I'm impressed.  They seem to be taking metastatic breast cancer seriously and their new TV advert is, I think, spot on.  You can view it here.

I'm still obsessed by my tiny but, I think, lovely garden.  Here's the latest - front and back

This is what happens if you scatter poppy seeds with wild abandon (I will be starting an opium farm shortly)

Not content with sitting in my own garden I recently went on a tour of neighbourhood plots as part of the open gardens scheme.  It was a lovely sunny afternoon and at one point we were sat in someone's garden listening to a string quartet while drinking tea and scoffing cake.  It doesn't get much better than that.

Here are some edited highlights (and yes, I was very, very, jealous)

Herbaceous borders to kill for

Someone else with a poppy fetish

Swoon fest

shed envy

and scarecrows with attitude
And lest you think I have gone completely peculiar over plants, don't worry my number one concern remains mog-based.  I leave you with pictures of the cats I came across during my garden tour (all in all a blissful afternoon).

A Cyril look-a-like (apart from the full set of back legs)

Hello handsome

This one, Celeste, was in disgrace for bird murder (in full view of guests)   
Oh yes, he knew he was beautiful

Thursday, 11 June 2015


Anyone want to help raise money for Breakthrough Breast Cancer and Compton Hospice?  Anyone want to have a good laugh?  Anyone at a loose end on the evening of Saturday 27th June 2015? 

Then mosey on down to Codsall Village Hall (Staffordshire) for a hoe-down (that’s a barn dance, not an evening of weeding you knuckle heads).  

The event starts at 8pm and tickets are £10 each (under 14s free).  All profits will go to the charities mentioned above.  You’ll need to bring your own drink and nibbles but there will be cake (food of the gods) and music by the amazing Slippery Hill Boys.  

We’ve also got some rattling good raffle prizes including

  • 2 adult first class day train tickets
  • A photo shoot with CD of 40 pictures
  • M & S vouchers (two lots worth fifty quid each)
  • A family swim session
  • Bottles of bubbly

If you’re interested contact me or Nev for tickets.  If you don’t have my contact details just leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.

I’d also like to say a big thank you to a couple of the other-half’s nephews who have been working their socks off to make this event a success.  On the evening I’ll try to lay off the booze otherwise I’ll be telling them that I love them all night, which would be icky for everyone.

Anyway come on, don’t miss out on all the hot hillbilly action (or something like that) and come to Codsall on Saturday 27th June 2015 (don’t forget to contact me for tickets first), oh and feel free to spread the word.

Be there or be square.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Summer shenanigans

I've had a busy few days and I'm in the mood to bore you with them now, so stand by.

Firstly the other-half and I (and lots of his family) went down to Guildford to help celebrate a family wedding.  It was lovely.  Happy couple, lovely atmosphere, delicious grub, 10/10.

We then spent the night in the noisiest hotel in the world.  We were kept awake by the sound of people coming back from hen/stag nights and other weddings, so for the most part although they were noisy they were jolly.  Not so on the third floor however (we were on the second floor which obviously attracted a better class of drunk).  One of my sister-in-laws* was on the third floor (say no more) and she had the thrill of listening to a drunken argument taking place in the next room at daft o'clock in the morning complete with random door knocking and the added delight of the row continuing when the guests woke up in the morning.  Deep joy.

(*You may have noticed that I allocate my three sisters numbers, nos 1, 2 and 3.  It may seem odd that I don't extend the same 'courtesy' to my sisters-in-law, but there are seven of them and it gets a tad confusing to say the least, especially as they won't keep still for five minutes).

After our sleep deprived night, we went on our weary way to Cornwall, where we stayed in a holiday cottage for a few days with two of my sisters-in-law and their husbands.  Those of you with no lives of your own will remember that I did the same last year.

Last year the weather was spectacular.  This year we feared the worst.  Monday was cold, rainy and increasingly stormy as the day wore on.  To add to the meteorological drama I decided to throw in some excitement of my own by suddenly feeling like, to use a medical term, a bag of bollocks, feeling incredibly cold and developing a rapidly increasing temperature.  The other-half rang my local chemo helpline and they said he should call an ambulance to get me to the local hospital.  He sensibly pointed out that we were in deepest rural Cornwall and it would be much quicker if he took me to hospital himself.  

This might sound a bit over dramatic but one of the problems with chemotherapy is that it can impair your immunity so infections can take hold very quickly and sometimes very nastily with the risk of neutropenia.  

So the other half and I and one of his sisters (riding shotgun) headed off for Truro hospital.  I did feel somewhat let down by said sister-in-law refusing to stick her head out of the car window as we drove along in the teaming rain and shout nee-na-nee-na like an ambulance siren.  Some people are just so unhelpful!

Anyway, we got to the hospital and I had urine and blood tests, an ECG and a chest x-ray.  But other than low pressure and a slightly high heart rate they could find nothing.  They suspected an infection of some kind but couldn't trace its source.  My white blood cell count was OK so thankfully they didn't keep me in but sent me home with a bucket load of antibiotics.  In fact the doctor looked at me and said "Hmm, if you were on a desert island I wouldn't bother having you airlifted off".  I'm still not sure if that was meant to be disdainful or reassuring.  Anyway, on the whole, the way and speed with which I was treated at Truro A&E was impressive. 

So we drove back in the dark and increasingly stormy night to the holiday cottage.  By this stage I was already feeling much better and let myself be plied with tea, toast and sympathy.  It was almost worth having felt grotty and enduring the scary car journey home.

The next day I felt fine.  The weather had transformed itself into warmth and sunshine, so we set off on a walk where we came to a beautiful deserted cove

complete with seals

and gorgeous wild flowers.

The walk ended up in the local pub, which is where it all went a bit haywire.  I'm afraid alcohol was taken, and quite a lot of it by me.  If I tell you I ended up playing pool and being a right old sweary Mary at the same time I'm sure you'll get the picture.

The next day was, of course, hangover hell.  Eventually I managed to get outside in the sunshine and walked (in a rather fragile manner) through a stunning meadow of buttercups

and along colourful roadsides

Seeing farm animals who clearly felt much like I did

(don't worry he wasn't dead, just having a snooze).

Sadly, the next day was time to come home (for a pre-arranged hospital appointment, big sigh).

Since coming home, as well as treading the straight and narrow, I have been lazing about (much like the pig only not in a cute way)

(please note that is WATER in the glass),

pottering in the garden with Cyril (the three-legged monster cat) taking residence, not very helpfully, in a seed tray.

Home isn't such a bad place to be.  Cornwall is stunning but, if I say so myself, I'm pretty chuffed just sitting and looking at my tiny garden 

I know it's too chaotic for a lot of people's taste, but it's exactly my cup of tea.

Hoping now for a couple of quiet-ish weeks so I can regain a bit more oompf to carry on with more summer shenanigans.  Ta ra for now.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Thwarted and sorted

This is what proper sewing type bloggers do, isn't it?  Put pictures of their latest creations on their blogs.  That is the only way in which I am in anyway similar to those bloggers.  Big sigh.  

Remember me saying I was attempting to make my first ever dress and doubting that I'd get further than this stage?

Well I did.  With bullying help and motivation from sis no 3, I tackled darts, battled with interfacing and did things with a zip I never thought possible.  I was pretty chuffed with myself and the finished item.  Then I tried it on.  It was too small to accommodate my enormous arse.  To add insult to injury there wasn't enough fabric in the seams to let it out.  There was wailing and gnashing of teeth, followed by some internet shopping to make up for the trauma.  I actually quite enjoyed the sewing process but I haven't quite got the heart to attempt another, much wider, dress just yet.

On a more successful note the other-half has decorated our sitting room.  The finished result is fine but there were moments of argh during the process, including finding some damp (which we thought we had, expensively, eradicated some time ago).  As you can see, Cyril (the three-legged monster cat) 'helped' when we were drying out the damp.

In health news the erratic side-effects of my current chemo, capecitabine, continue.  Some days I feel fine, others really tired and others unable to stray too far from the bathroom.  I whinge but, so far, the side-effects have been bearable and as long as the chemo continues to work I'm happy with the treatment.

I'm not so happy though with the chemo nurse who booked my next two dates for attending the Chemo Unit to collect my drugs (this happens every three weeks to fit in with the chemo cycles).  I, stupidly, just accepted the dates she offered without double checking.  I realised today that the nurse had mistakenly booked my appointments at four weekly intervals instead of three weekly.  To make matters worse I had used the exisiting dates to work out when to book a couple of holidays.  So now everthing has gone pear-shaped (much like me).  The next appointment has been rearranged to, just about, fit in with my plans and taking the drugs at the right time, but the appointment after that could cause problems.  The Chemo Unit assured me today that they'd sort it all out when I go in next week.  Here's hoping!

All this is very minor stuff though compared to what some are going through.  On the online forum, which is my life line, a number of women have died over the past couple of weeks.  Of course, this is going to happen on a forum for people with metatstatic cancer but it's tough.  One of the women who died recently, Jo, (at just 32 years of age) had an excellent blog which brings home the impact of this vile disease.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Relief and shame

I got my latest scan results yesterday and, considering what I was half-expecting, they were a mighty relief.  

The scan of my head revealed nothing.  Oh shut up.  I do have a brain in there but, hurrah, there was no sign of cancer.  My bones although showing a couple of iffy bits on my ribs (which have been there for at least two years) are OK, in fact the iffy bits have improved so the oncologist still doesn't reckon it's cancer.  My liver (cancer detected there last year) has improved and my lungs (which have had cancer ever since I was first diagnosed just over three years ago) are stable.  The onc reckons my dizziness is due to low blood pressure and my back ache to old age.  Never have I been so happy to have someone tell me I'm an old crock.

This means I carry on with my current chemo, which although causing me fatigue and sometimes an exciting dash in the direction of the bathroom, hasn't caused hair loss or major sickness.

As I was very concerned about the outcome of the latest scans I haven't been planning ahead massively, but that's now changed and already today I've been out and bought some summer clothes and, now I know I'm not going to lose my hair in the near future, have booked a haircut.  My thoughts are now turning towards summer holidays.  Watch out world, I'm on the rampage.

In order to distract me from chewing my non-existent finger nails, the other-half, sis no 3 and I headed out to Cheshire on the day before I got my results to visit Bluebell Cottage Gardens and Nursery.   It was glorious, look

However it's not all joy and bluebells at Discombobulated Towers I'm afraid.  On Wednesday evening Cyril (the three-legged monster cat) caught his first bird.  Thankfully I don't have any pictures as Cyril took his prey next door to give it a good munch there.  He made a quick exit from our garden due to the other-half yelling 'drop it' at him as if he was some kind of obedient dog.  So, I have raised a bully and a murderer.  Where did I go wrong?