Thursday, 12 December 2013

Delighted Del

I had good news today.  I went to the oncologist for my latest CT scan results.  The chemo is still doing it's stuff, there are no new metastases anywhere and the lung crap is continuing to shrink.  So I can carry on with the trial chemo for now with another review in March.  I am a very lucky, very happy bunny and am ready to get all Christmassy.  I've even done the annual Christmas twig decorating (being too mean to buy a tree)

However, while it seems my insides have been behaving themselves, Cyril (the three-legged monster cat) most certainly hasn't.  He's been in yet another fight resulting in a torn ear and a visit to the vets.  He's well on the mend now but not before he managed to splatter the spare room with blood, it looked like a scene out of CSI.  Here he is looking innocent but the tatty ear tells another story.

Now I'm off to make a start on the Christmas cards.  I may be some time.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Wildness in Wales

I've been rushing around like a long dog of late, having a fine old time with barely a chance to wash behind my ears let alone put fingers to keyboard.

Firstly, I headed down south to see my new great nephew who weighed in at walloping 10lbs at birth and, at three months, is a beautiful big chappie.  

I also saw some old friends, had a good laugh and stuffed my face with lovely grub.  I spent some time in Ware as part of my travels.  It's my kind of town with cat statues,
helpful red arrow as I know some of you are a bit slow

excellent (albeit disused) cat flaps,  

and even tombs with paws

Then, no sooner had I returned to Shrewsbury than we set off for a few days in Pembrokeshire.

We'd arranged to stay in a tiny and remote cottage with no TV or mobile signal, thinking we'd have a beautifully peaceful time.  As the holiday approached we realised, with some horror, that this meant we might actually have to talk to each other.  Thankfully, as you'll see from the pictures, we were able to survive this trial with the help of red wine 

Compact but cosy

Red wine saves the day (yes, those are the other-half's legs)
View from front door

The cottage was set in 6 acres of stunning (even in November) gardens

I have got a zillion more photos like this but if you'd like to see more about the house and garden the best place to go is the official website Dyffryn Fernant

While we were in Pembrokeshire we went to the small but pictureseque city of St David's.  It being November we almost had the place to ourselves, in fact we did have the old ruined and atmospheric Bishops Palace entirely to ourselves

As we walked around, despite being the sole visiors, we sometimes got the impression we were being watched

Lest you think this was a very staid and boring visit let me assure you it was danger packed with tall towers to climb 

sometimes I preferred to remain on terra firma

and every manner of peril, as the signage made all too clear

See I know how to live on the edge, I do

My favourite is the sign on the bottom left.  I think it's meant to warn people of the danger of bumping their heads but, to me, looks more like someone realising they've locked themselves out or left the bath running.

The danger theme continued into the following day when we went for a walk.  First the good news, I was able to walk much further and higher than I thought I could (in early summer I could barely walk 400 yards without puffing for breath, thanks to the cancer in my lungs).  While I was hardly mountain goat-like in Wales I was able to walk a good four miles and take on some steepish inclines, albeit slowly.

me, striding manfully upwards
We'd walked uphill from the pink building.  You may now gasp in admiration.
However, it would be remiss of me to claim that I didn't have some help in getting to the top of the hill. As we neared the top we saw several horses around the rocky outcrop including a foal.  We didn't go near the horses but just skirted around the edge.  This didn't stop Devil Horse from trying to kill me though.  A huge black horse came snorting towards me with murder in his eyes and evil in his heart.  

Here he is.  Have you ever seen anything more scary?  The stuff of nightmares

I walked away as briskly as possible, wishing there was a tree to climb, but could hear his horrible hooves and nasty snorty horse breath getting closer and closer.  The other-half turned looked at him and said, with some feeling, "that is NOT a nice horse".  Apparently he was also doing the kicky thing with his back legs too.  We managed to scramble over a fence and up, up and away from the mad, demented beastie.  When we were a safe distance away we turned and waggled our bottoms and then stuck our fingers up at the horse, not wanting to let him have the last snort.  The horse gods in the sky must have been watching us though as from then on the foot path signs disappeared and we ended up going on a much longer walk than intended and, for the last half hour, in a substantial downpour.  But what did I care, for I had escaped from the jaws (and hooves) of doom.

The rest of the stay was calm, tranquil and horse-free.  Even though I got heaps of exercise I suspect I put on lots of weight as I ate like a (shudder) horse.  And here's the proof, do you think my bum looks big in this?

A quick health update before I go.  I've been continuing with the TDM1 chemo trial and all seems to be going OK.  I have yucky scans at the end of the month and see the oncologist for the results in the middle of December by which time I will be almost as anxious as if I were being chased by a homicidal horse, but for now I'm trotting along not thinking about it too much, which works for me.

Oh, and just when you thought I'd finished, a final cheery note.  Two days ago I became a great aunty yet again.  Congratulations to all concerned.  The dynasty continues!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Look at the time ... and not a nappy washed

It feels like an age since I last posted but I have been Doing Things and Going Places, mostly Pembrokeshire, which was chocolate box pretty, look:

Yes, Wales can be sunny, oh ye of little faith

I'm in the process of writing a long and tedious blog post so make your excuses now if you wish to avoid it.  Otherwise stay tuned and prepared to be underwhelmed. 

Friday, 25 October 2013

Something's afoot

With apologies to sis no 3, who is a bit phobic about feet (and frogs and felt, she's a bit wussy really)

Even though, for the past twenty-odd years, I've lived just half an hour away from Wolverhampton I had never set foot inside the art gallery there.  I rectified this error this week when sis no 1 and I went to see the Ron Mueck exhibition.  It was amazing.  It's only on until 2nd November so if there are any Wolvo residents reading this get yourselves down there pronto.  The pieces are fantastically life-like.  At the risk of coming across like some kind of weird foot-fetishist (I'm not, honest) look at this:

You can see the whole piece by clicking here
There are only five pieces of his work at the gallery but by jimminy they are worth seeing.  None are to scale.  They are either smaller than life or like, 'Wildman', absolutely huge:

One of the gallery workers said that this work gave him the willies late at night.  Make of that what you will.

Sis no 1 and I also stayed for the curator's talk which was fascinating.  If there's a form to fill in I'm requesting to come back as a curator in my next life, that or a wombat (cute) or maybe a camel (I'd like the uninhibited spitting opportunities).

Health wise I seem to be doing OK, continuing with the drug trial and keeping my fingers crossed.  Today I went to the local GP for a general once over (cholesterol, blood pressure that kind of thing).  Turns out I'm a picture of health.  Apart from the sodding advanced cancer of course.  

Anyway, buoyed up by the news that I'm not in too back nick all things considered, I bounced into town and made a start on the Christmas shopping (don't hate me).


Sunday, 13 October 2013

My favourite things

WARNING:  In this blog post I indulge in two of my favourite things; getting on my high horse and mocking the other-half. Here goes, high horse territory first

This is the ribbon for Secondary Breast Cancer (no pink shit for us, we're hardcore)

So, it's 13th October.  Secondary Breast Cancer (SBC) Awareness Day.  Have you been bombarded with information on SBC in the press and on the tv and radio today?  Yeah, me neither.  Twelve thousand people dying of it every year in the UK alone and yet the coverage is hopeless.  It's not the sort of pink, happy, it's-all-going-to-be-ok message the media likes I suppose.  If you have two minutes to spare please have a look at a short film, available by clicking here.  It's not particularly comfortable viewing but it says a great deal in a short time. 

OK, now on to mockery.  The other-half, on waking a couple of mornings ago, turned to me and said "I dreamt I had to have a shower with Monty Don"I looked at him quizzically.  "I had to" he explained "otherwise I couldn't go into Monty's special garden".  Further questioning on my part revealed that he didn't mean "special garden" in the smutty way I was interpreting it, but he actually did mean a special garden where unique horticultural specimens were being raised so no trace of pollen or any other organic matter could be introduced.  Hmmm.  Why can't he just have sensible dreams like me?  The same night he was dreaming dreams of Monty I was being attacked by a flock of vicious kingfishers.  And yes I do take quite a lot of drugs.

Friday, 4 October 2013


Autumnal collage by Del age 52 and one quarter

As well as it being the season of mists and mellow do-dahs (in the northern hemisphere anyway), October is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  I know that lots of people, including me, find the pink, sparkly, tu-tu clad, cutesy wutesy woo-ness of some of the coverage/merchandise pretty hard to take.  While it pains me to link to the Daily Telegraph, Judith Potts, wrote an excellent short article there summing up why so many, especially those like me with secondary (or metastatic) breast cancer  loathe the cheery pastel-coloured, rose-spectacled tone of it all.  You can read the article here.

While I'm in misog-mode, six depressing words: The National Insistute for Clinical Excellence, or NICE to give it its completely inappropriate acronym.  NICE, among, other things determines which drugs/treatments are recommended for use by the National Health Service.  It has recently rejected two secondary breast cancer treatments.  If you are a British citizen or resident please consider signing this petition and passing it on to friends and family.

On a happier note, Breast Cancer Care have released an excellent film on body image and breast cancer, which can be viewed by clicking here.  One of the participants, Ismena, has Secondary Breast Cancer.  She writes for The Independent and also has a brilliant blog, A Bit of a Boob, which is listed under 'Seconday Breast Cancer Blogs' on the right of this page.  By the way, I've updated the blog list but I'm always looking for new blogs on this topic so if you know of any which I haven't listed do please let me know.

Other good news is that the Cancer Drug Fund is being extended until 2016.  This fund allows many patients in England access to drugs they wouldn't otherwise be prescribed.

I realise this has been a bit of a downbeat post, but sometimes cancer is just one big borefest.  However, please don't desert me.  I'm pathetic enough to leap up and punch the air when my 'number of times blog viewed' counter goes up and I have been known to start a one-woman Mexican wave if someone from a distant country clicks on my blog.  If you promise to come back again I'll tell you all about the other-half's gardening mojo and his adventure with a hot air balloon.  What?  Stop yawning.  Come back!

Thursday, 19 September 2013


I saw the oncologist this morning and in his words 'the chemo is working'.  In my words 'yippee, open the champers and hang out the bunting'.

The crap in my lungs has shrunk.  I don't think it's shrunk much but this is the first time any treatment has seen a reduction in the cancer (previous CT scans have shown either stability or progression - progression being a Bad Thing when it comes to cancer). 

Just a note of caution here - I know I've probably gone on and on and on about this, but there is no cure for secondary breast cancer.  I will never be cured.  The best I can hope for is to hold things at bay.  But, hey, holding things at bay sounds pretty good to me!

The plan is to continue with three weekly doses of chemo and then scan again in three months.  I am a very happy bunny.  Many thanks to all those who've been in touch recently with best wishes and fluffy thoughts, very much appreciated. 

And just to show how jolly I feel, here's a previously unseen picture from the Shrewsbury Flower Show.  I spoil you, I really do.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

In which I am led astray

As you’ve probably guessed by now, I like to lead a blameless life of cat worship and failed sorties into the world of knitting.  However, this summer I have been repeatedly led astray.

Firstly there was the Normandy holiday

where I was on a wine and cheese drip for the duration.

Then, on my return to Shropshire my old pal M came up to stay.  She lugged a bursting-at-the-seems wheelie trolley all the way by train from London.  The trolley contained a few clothes but was mostly full of all the ingredients for making mojitos.  It would have been rude not to drink them after all that effort.  And, if I drank more than anyone else, surely that just goes to show my dedication to the cause of hospitality and politeness, rather than any indication of greed and alcoholism.  

M did another bad thing.  She introduced me to Spotify.  Now how am I ever going to get anything done ever again when I’m addicted to finding all sorts of music and fighting off the other-half when he tries to add such monstrosities as Duran Duran and ZZ Top to my playlist (oh the horror)?

T, another old pal came to visit at the same time as M and we started a sensible grown-up conversation about the problems with creosote seepage when using old railway sleepers in the garden.  We reckoned if you built a seat from them you’d need to devise some sort of bum pad to protect your bottom.  The conversation rapidly degenerated to replacing words in song/book/film/titles with bum pad.  This went on intermittently for a whole day inducing increasing amounts of hysteria.  In the evening we went to the pub and ended up making spectacles of ourselves by hitting our heads on the table and sobbing when the other-half suddenly blurted out ‘Chitty Chitty Bum Pad’.  Hmm, maybe you had to be there. 

Perhaps I should add that, during a previous visit to this particular pub, sis no 3 tried to kill a dog – I’m scared to go back there again, who knows what will happen next time.

Oh alright, she didn’t exactly try to kill a dog.  She swept a wasp from the table with her hand (in a valiant effort to save the other-half who is horribly allergic to wasp stings).  Her bravery was rewarded by fear and trauma, as the dog sitting next to our table quickly snapped his jaws, grabbed the wasp and swallowed it in one gulp.  We think the dog was OK but didn’t hang around too long to find out.  Oh come on, it wasn’t as if it was a cat.  Get a sense of proportion people.

Anyway, after all that excitement the other-half and I were delighted to be invited for a meal at the house of old chums, and very good cooks, J and M.  I was looking forward to an evening of gentle conversation and decorum.  Instead I was forced to drink red wine from eight that evening until five o’clock the following morning.  I say forced because, although I can’t remember the details, I’m sure I would never be so foolish as to do such a thing left to my own devices.  J and the other-half wimped out and went to bed around 3am but M and I carried on determinedly.  Actually I suspect poor M desperately wanted to go to bed but I wouldn’t stop yakking.  Thankfully I can’t remember the utter bilge I was talking (please M, be kind, don’t remind me).  Hats off to M though, not only did she stay the course but she also attended a four year old’s birthday party the following day.  She’s made of sterner stuff than me.  I just sat around whimpering with a hangover that lasted two and half days. 

So, as you can imagine, I am now back to the straight and narrow, worshipping Cyril the three-legged monster cat and thinking about knitting a scarf. 

Two days until the scary oncology appointment, not that I’m worried or anything of course.  Back to diverting myself with Spotify I think.  A prance around the kitchen (while no-one is looking) to Jolene, should put the world to rights.



Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Ancient history

It seems a thousand years ago (not the more realistic four weeks) that I spent a sunny week in Normandy with the other-half, sis no 3, her other-half, nephew no 2 and four Australian reprobates pals.  It was brill.  I saw the Bayeux Tapestry, visited the D-Day landing beaches, mooched around beautiful countryside

and ate and drank like a king (a king with a serious alcohol and cheese problem that is). 

Food wise the only low point was the discovery of the Mysterious Inedible French Sausage (MIFS).  I’ve forgotten the proper name of this monstrosity (probably due to some kind of minor post-traumatic stress) but if you can imagine the smell (and taste) of animal innards that have been boiled for a week in rancid pond water you’ll have a faint idea of the vileness of which I speak.  Both the other-half and I accidentally ordered MIFS (at different times) and are now receiving counseling. 

The high point for food?  Was it the delicious fish?  The cider?  The wine?  The lovely gooey cheese?  All close contenders but the winner was:
Tim Tam Tastic

Thanks Aussie Pals for turning up with the goods.  I have to admit that Turkish Delight flavour was a step too far even for me, but the others (especially honeycomb) were manna from heaven.  Of course, I tried the Tim Tam Slam (biting off two diagonally opposite corners and then slurping tea through the biscuit) – delicious but deeply disgusting for other people to witness.

However, lovely as all the above was, most of the holiday was spent here:

On a previous holiday, three years ago with the same mob, we invented Speedo Snooker (© Me), and we continued the contest this time.  Speedo Snooker is a game of strategy and skill (obviously not to be undertaken when full of cheese, wine and cider) where each player has two minutes to pot as many balls (in any order) as possible.  I humiliated myself regularly at this game purely to make the others feel better about their own prowess.  My brother-in-law is a fanatical Speedo Snooker player.  He also adores golf (I know).  Anyway I won’t be going on holiday with him again as I have just realised he loves any sport which involves hitting a small ball with a long stick.  This can only mean that the next thing on the agenda will be polo.  The only thing I know about horses is that they can’t climb trees, and I’ve no wish to discover any more about them than that.

And yes I did go swimming in the special swimsuit with the weirdly absorbent false breast but I’m wussing out of showing you photographic evidence.  There are two photos.  In one I have my face all screwed up and the other looks like I’m having a good scratch (I wasn’t, honest).  So, instead, here’s a photo of me strolling around a French garden in my two euro sunglasses (second hand stall at a market), any likeness to Dame Edna quite accidental.
If you think this is bad just imagine what the swimsuit snap would be like

These glasses have a very yellow tint and make every thing look sunny.  The lady I bought them from called them ‘optimist glasses’.

Anyway, all that was ages ago.  I’m now back in England, the temperature has dropped and I’m back to tucking my vest in my knickers and turning the central heating on as soon as the other-half leaves the house.  I’m also just over a week away from getting the results from my latest CT scan – maybe I’ll wear my optimist glasses for the appointment.  Wish me luck.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Fruity tales

A few weeks ago the annual Shrewsbury Flower Show took place.  This is a Very Big Deal in sleepy Shropshire so, of course, I had to attend.  The show is full of flowers, fruit, veg, entertainment, shopping and endless opportunities to spot people wearing red trousers.

My particular highlights were:

More gladdies than you could shake Dame Edna (or Morrisey) at

Some serious veg displays

Phwoar, get a load of those whoppers
 The children's veggie/fruit art entries

As far as favourites go, I was torn between the gruffalo pictured above and the disintegrating owl below

I also overheard some valuable fashion advice which I feel duty bound to pass on to you so you don't make a mistake next time you are purchasing waterproof footwear.  

A woman was trying on some posh wellies at one of the clothing stalls.  Her friend, watching her with a critical eye, said "don't have the ones with the diamond patterns on, they make your arse look fat".  So there you have it.  Certain styles of welly increase the visual impact of your derriere.  I will be informing Vogue and Farmers' Weekly as a matter of urgency.

A few days after the flower show I met up with a couple of ancient friends (I'm talking about the length of the friendship not their ages, although come to think of it ...)  Anyway J and H had decided to escape the madness of living within spitting distance of London and come to stay in Shropshire for a few days.  They brought their gorgeous dogs, Hugo and Lottie, with them.  As a confirmed cat-lover I never thought that I'd put the words 'gorgeous' and 'dog' together but there is no other way to describe them, look:

We sat in the garden of the cottage they had rented, drinking coffee and talking the hind leg off a donkey (as my old pa used to say).  Anyway all of a sudden there was pandemonium as another dog appeared at the fence.  Hugo and Lottie who had, until that point, been models of decorum went bananas.  In the process the table went flying and the other-half ended up with a a lap full of hot coffee.  Our chums immediately set about finding something for the other-half to change in to so his trousers could dry.  While this was going on the other-half looked at me with an expression of genuine panic on his face and mouthed the immortal words "I'm not wearing any pants".  I immediately shot back "WHY aren't you wearing any pants*".  I really don't hold with a free and easy approach when it comes to under garments. His excuse was that as we'd been late setting out he had leapt out of the shower and dressed as quickly as he could.  It's still a rum do if you ask me.  Anyway it was worth it to see the look of real fear on his face and also to wonder at whether he really thought that he was going to be expected to change in the garden in front of everyone.  I sometimes think I married someone very odd indeed.  Yeah, I know, a match made in heaven.  

*(hello people in America, you probably already know this, but just in case, in England pants=underpants).  

Anyway to draw the incident to a close here is a picture of a dog in disgrace:

Well I've gone on and on and on and haven't even got around to 'What I did on my holiday' yet.  I will spare you that until next time.  

On the cancery-front I've got chemo tomorrow and then a CT scan the following day.  This is scary as the results will show if the trial chemo I'm on has been having any effect or if the cancer is still up to its old tricks.  I can't think about this too much without resorting to strong drink and industrial strength tranquilizers, so for now I'll just stick my head in the sand and carry on enjoying the last bit of summer.

Sunday, 25 August 2013


I've been sunning myself in Normandy.  I'll bore you with details shortly but for now I'm drying out and recovering from burning the candle at both ends and indeed the middle and sides.  I had a fantastic time which included:

We got home last night.  Cyril (the three-legged monster cat) had been in Cat Camp, Cat Prison the cattery.  Did he miss me?  Here's a picture from this morning taken while I was still dozing in bed.  What do you think?

Somebody loves me
Stayed tuned for more - included photographic evidence of me swimming in my delightful swimsuit (make sure you take anti-nausea medication before reading the next post).