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.