Saturday, 29 May 2010

women drivers - NO!!

And since then, 5 billion things have happened…the poor FH is suffering horribly with a blocked up ear. I am doing Nursey things and we are endeavouring to sort it out with warm olive oil and syringing warm water. More warm water in the ear later may help.

This week I have been mainly beating a path back and forth to the Golf Hotel, applying for design jobs on the internet, racing round chalets ripping off bedcovers and replacing them and blah de bah. It's very tiring, but it's building my stamina for sure. I now have a method which zooms me through a chalet without much thought. Excellent. But it tipped it down today, and the golf buggy the Mazzaratti isn't much good in the rain! No sides you see. But it's hot - so the rain was actually quite nice - racing about in it with it pouring down on my arms was exhilarating. Yesterdays buggy Mazzaratti had no brakes which was rather fun - I crashed into the laundry shed twice, another buggy Mazzaratti and a post. Hmm. Heh heh.

And such excitement yesterday on my way home! Women at large - you will hate me for this, but seriously, there are a LOT of stupid women drivers out there. Why? Who Knows? But there are.

Personally I think I am the only normal one on the road but obviously I am biased. ;o) So, what happened? I was coming round the roundabout, indicating left [I am obsessive about indicating] and a lorry almost drove into me from a left hand lane that leads off the dual carriageway. I almost had a heart attack and banged the horn. BEEP. Once. Then carried on driving. But the next thing, I had the lorry grill right in my mirror, to the exclusion of all else. Ok. Then, as I made a left hand turn [again, indicating] the lorry revved up and almost took off my right rear side fender. Grr! Now I was pissed and gave the stupid lorry driver the finger. Oops! Sensitive driver! It [for now] pulled in next to me [now in the wrong lane for heavens sake!!] and proceeded to leap out of the cab! I was surprisingly calm at this point, noticed a gap in the traffic and slid into it. Thus turning the corner and removing myself from harms way. In the meantime the crazy lorry driver [a WOMAN alas!!] was now running down the road after me shaking her fist. If a car had come round the corner, it would have first hit her, then the cab of the lorry. Amazing. I went home in shock. Such stupidity is always shocking.

Apart from that, you will be pleased to know that my 'friend on the upper floor of the hospital' is now out and about. Woo hoo!

Here's the latest from the garden by the way. My gorgeous Clematis and the Iris just coming in:


And anyone reading this shockingly tedious post - please sponsor me!! eheheh


Friday, 21 May 2010

crushed or not?

yesterday was one of those stupid stupid days. I had a brilliant morning, attending the RD&E Cancer Services User and Carers group. It was interesting. Users basically means 'patient'. And we are able to contribute and give feedback on our local services, in order to try to improve the overall service that the NHS gives. A good idea - but rather complicated to implement.

I left the meeting in high spirits. Got home to my Tax return - shriek! I have a lot of tax to pay from last years earnings, even though I have paid half in advance and have earned hardly anything since December. This is called 'payment on account'. But it seems I can call the tax office and arrange interest free payments over a period of time. Guess what I'm doing Monday.

Then I checked my email to see if anything had come of the interview of the day before. NO. Nothing. Nada. Grr.  I went into a sort of tailspin. Cried all afternoon. Too many bad things happening for the last two years - gets exhausting although 99% of the time, I am positive. But it just felt like I was about to be crushed flat by circumstances. Couldn't wait for the FH to get home. He's a calming spirit. So the evening was an improvement.

Then today I went for my mammogram - turns out it wasn't one at all. It was a physical check up and chat. Ok. The mammogram will be scheduled shortly. But the check up did my head in, as she asked 'what were my thoughts if I were genetically predisposed to breast/ovarian cancer'. Oh. Right. Lots of thoughts - most of them starting with a loud scream!! Goodbye Zen mode.

After having a BRCA gene test performed, you learn whether you carry an inherited BRCA gene mutation and receive an estimate of your personal risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Then [and this is a very basic précis] you decide whether or not you wish to have a double mastectomy and rebuild right NOW, or wait until you get breast cancer and decide then. FUCK!!

Well. Sorry - but that's not in my Book of Things To Worry About This Week. So we decided we'd discuss this next year. Apparently I can have the gene test any time, and it will only be one week until I get my results. Hmm.

And yes, I spent the rest of today in a cold sweat. Usually the specialists judge this on family history - but as I have no reliable information, they have to start with me. It's scary. But I am not on that pathway right now. I feel that my control mechanism of having the check ups, the mammograms, etc. is enough for the moment. It gives me a sense of control - and IF anything goes wrong, ideally it will be caught soon enough to avoid a mastectomy anyway. God. What a thought.

Makes me feel sick. But I am actually considering having the gene test - because I have two brothers which it may affect. I hope not.

After this, I visited a dear friend on the upper floor - he was in agony when I arrived, and I had to leave quite quickly. Bloody day of gloom for sure. Hopefully things will improve all round next week.

So not the best week!!  Although today was 26 degrees - a gift for sure. We had a bbq on the patio. It was lovely.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

wild garlic

Wild Garlic

well. yesterday was a blast. And I mean that literally - I felt as if I'd been blown up! Not that I know what that feels like [thank you!]. I started the day by nagging the Women V Cancer chap, Calum, about email-able sponsor forms. He sorted that one pretty sharpish I might add. I've turned them into PDF's.

Here is the generic sponsorship form. That's for anyone to download for any of the girls on the Cycle Kenya group 1. Go to FILE/ SAVE AS - then save to your computer.

HERE is MY sponsor form - please - if you would like to, download it, run around all your friends and ask for donations! All cheques need to be made to 'WOMEN V CANCER'  please - NOT to me. I shall simply spend them all on a holiday in Bermuda ;o) Then post it to me please, or I can collect  - I shall then forward to Woman V Cancer.

Then I zoomed up to my [fabulous and wonderful] GP in the pouring rain to get my MEDICAL FORM [why's it all in caps Calum?] signed. This is to say that he thinks I am fit enough to do the Cycle Kenya next year. So, as I am an airhead, I forgot to bring the itinerary, so we had to go onto the blog and see it there [he had to read it before he could sign]. Chuckalicious to say the least. I understand that my GP may think I am bonkers. He asked about rest stops - I assured him we'd have some!

Anyway - next on my wish list of 'Things My GP Should Sort For Me' was the Botox scenario. No, no, no…not for vanity. For sanity. I don't care about my wrinkles - actually I rather like them. Character! Experience! But I have let this slide, being rather rudely interrupted in my plans to deal with the Synkinesis, by cancer. Humph. Synkinesis is a residual of Bells Palsy. It's a confidence knock for sure - one tends to pull stupid, stiff faces in photos in order not to look odd. I have all the symptoms:

  • Eye closure with volitional contraction of mouth muscles
  • Midfacial movements with volitional eye closure
  • Neck tightness (Platysmal contraction) with volitional smiling
  • Hyperlacrimation (also called Crocodile Tears - ho ho)
  • A case where eating provokes excessive lacrimation. This has been attributed to neural interaction between the salivary glands and the lacrimal glands.


    In other words, if I smile or eat, I look weird. So. It's irritating and bothers me a lot. Hello huge complex! Sometimes when I'm tired it looks as if I've had a stroke. But the main problem is not what it looks like, but what it feels like. Very unpleasant. I am hoping the Botox will resolve this. Interviews bring it out vociferously!

    After that off I went to dig up a huge border with Julie - we were getting rid of bluebells and wild garlic and weeds - ugh! burning nostrils! Three hours of digging heavy soil; came home for a lovely hot bath. Then the FH called with a job - I rang them, they wanted an interview NOW. So I merrily ripped off my circuit training clobber [any excuse], dried my hair at burning temp and rushed off, portfolio at the ready; the interview seemed to go well. We shall see. They were very nice anyway.

    As for today…well, that's another story.

  • Monday, 17 May 2010

    ah, the garden

    what a lovely day today - we spent it like water. The sun was out, the sky was blue! I spent all day in the garden - weeding, digging and standing about looking. Just trying to plan the beds for the year. And potting up and building the hanging baskets. Every year a new type of weed! This years is quite pretty actually, a leafy little beast with white flowers. If it were a plant, I'd be laughing, as it spreads like wildfire! But, alas, I have rooted them out and chucked them on the pyre.

    The FH was out front of the house, painting and sanding and generally doing lots of renovation to the Front of the Hut. It's starting to look much better now he's done a ton of filling and repairs. And he painted the entire front today! Just remains for me to choose a colour for the window sills. I really want a lavender blue, but we will see. Paint is so untrustworthy! You buy the colour you think is fab, then, on it goes and it's vile. Hoping that will not happen!

    water-03The Wisteria is starting to bloom now - and the Hostas are going mad. 

    So far so good with the slug patrol. I potted up loads of interesting and scented things today, and RE-potted some of the existing things - the Acer, the Rose…other stuff. Unfortunately I ran out of potting compost. This is a norm for me - happens every year. Grr.


    Then once we were finished [and shattered!] the sun disappeared!!  But it reappeared, so we did a little bbq and sat about on the patio in the sun with wine, olives, chorizo and some peanuts. Then pork chops and salad - lovely!

    Such a life! This evening being quite odd - I was looking for pics of the garden in June [I am always taking pics of my plants!] and I came across this! A pic of me with my hair straightened…and before the Bells Palsy…I find it astounding now that I had no self confidence then…DSC00736

    smoking and smugness

    DSC_0024 Look at this picture - it's my grand daughter - such freedom…had to share it!

    I am feeling rather smug. Or maybe that should read 'surprised'. Not sure. I have managed to lose 6 pounds/3 kilos of the chemo weight gain [hmm - yep, smug it is! bloody steroids!] AND at the same time I have managed to cut back on my smoking by at least half. Maybe more. Yay me. And this is not due to any nagging by anyone [I do make a point of NOT listening to peeps who 'advise' me on my life]. It is due to thinking. Oh, and exercise. Of which I shall be doing more very soon. Not because I like it, but because I NEED it.

    I think a lot about this smoking thing. People who don't smoke now; ex-smokers for instance [ugh - they are the worst for being sanctimonious] and those who have never smoked, seem to think that all smokers are a pack of thoughtless, inconsiderate fools who just don't care. Well, I for one, do. Every time I light a cigarette, I am thinking about it. I enjoy smoking, don't get me wrong. And there's the thing. I wish I didn't! And actually, as I am now smoking less, I enjoy it more. Grr. What's that all about?? But every time I light a cigarette, I wonder what the hell I am doing - of course, that doesn't stop me. I've been smoking for 33 years. It's not that easy to up sticks and not do it. But maybe I am getting there. I hope so. A smoke free Sandhy would be rather nice. I think…

    Another thing - I am totally stunned by how generous people are being for the Women V Cancer cycle!!  It's amazing - thank you so much everyone who has already donated. I know very well that everyone is having a hard time right now - so, thanks!! I am truly touched.

    Last night we went out for dinner with friends - it was fab - lovely people, hilarious conversation and wonderful food. Usually I don't eat lamb, in fact I NEVER eat lamb [greasy - ugh!!] - but actually it was a delicious and delightful meal. Lots of fun. Lots of vegetables! Until I awoke this morning feeling as if my head had been hit by a dump truck at full speed… But at this moment, I love my life - honestly, even having no job [this is bad] I am enjoying life to the limit. I am almost crazy with how good life is…bring it on!! A little worrying, as it sometimes seems as if when things are good, some ghastly thing is waiting in the wings to happen…

    The only horrible thing this week has been that some of my friends are dealing with recurrence. That totally sucks; it really does. But, having that thought at the back of my mind all the time [that I too may have a recurrence at some point], it's a good thing to know how other women cope. It's a good thing to be in touch with them. Just in case. They are so brave. But I so hope I never have to deal with that. It would really be a nightmare. And I'm not so sure I can deal with those type of nightmares any more. Can I?

    Wednesday, 12 May 2010

    looking back - and forward

    My life is great [knocking on wood as I type]. I am so happy, apart from a few niggles large and small, but I am hoping they will resolve themselves eventually. One small niggle being trying to make ends meet around here.

    All the bills seem to have gone UP, arrived all at once and are just generally trying to swamp us. Everything is self destructing out of spite. Amazing how inanimate objects can gang together when you're not looking. The fan in the convection oven just started making the most monstrous clonking noise [that's it! BBQ for the rest of the year! I refuse to even hear it again], the back windscreen wiper on the [supposedly indestructible] Beemer has conked out, the service date has passed ages ago and the garden gate is falling apart. Literally. I need to build a new one. Quickly! Before the Fairy Cake in the Garden fundraiser. Or people will be getting whacked on the head by the cross strut.

    The front of the house [the charming 300 year old cottage - humph] has decided it would like to take leave of it’s moorings...sigh. The FH has spent the last two weekends doing repairs to the window sills and the render. Rather like putting ones thumb in a dyke, but what else can you do? Hey ho, KBO eh? Here's the offending structure.

    house 1

    Apart from that [and a few other things that don't bear mentioning] I am in the midst of a mad frenzy of fund raising. It's quite fun [in a scary sort of way - 4K?? OMG] - all the Cycle Kenya girls are getting together on Facebook, which is a nice way to get to know people before you meet them. We are all swapping fundraising ideas, and trying to hook up with people near to us for training. Training by oneself quite probably sucks. I really need to get into a spinning class!

    Plus of course I am doing the garden - this year is the first time since I was diagnosed that I am actually really able to get going full tilt at it. It's fantastic! I am like 'jumping for joy'!! And it's so satisfying. I was really diagnosed on Wednesday 30th January; inadvertently. But it took a while to get the REAL diagnosis. But personally, I go from the January date.

    The combination of gardening and Chalet Whacking is definitely helping my strength and stamina. Talk about things happening for weird reasons. When I worked in Portugal all the time, everything got so neglected. I sat on my butt in front of the computer most of the time, and when I was away, things just grew out of control. Not this year! I have been staking and potting up like a crazy woman - digging? Bring it ON! Next: hanging baskets.

    hanging basket

    And I'm planning lots of fund raising stuff - it's a tad chaotic, but I am hoping to get there eventually!! Really must make a list of my Forthcoming Events. Keeping things in my head is NOT a good idea! Do you know, someone actually told me recently that there is no such thing as Chemo brain? No, you guessed it, they haven't had chemo. Pah.



    Friday, 7 May 2010


    great stuff is rubber. they make all sorts of interesting things out of it. The best of those [in my humble opinion] being The Rubber Glove. Today I was at Hotel Valance, making beds with bedding that has so much starch you could possibly beat someone over the head with a sheet and they'd be concussed. Suffice to say, this can be a tad infuriating when the duvet cover sticks to itself [hence impossible to get the actual duvet inside it]. Then once you have succeeded to get the damn duvet inside the cover, flinging it over the sheeted mattress becomes the next challenge - impossible. Starch magnetises…it STICKS. Grr. BUT - aha! Here entereth the Marvellous Rubber Glove.

    Today I took my Marigolds with me. Excellent for scrubbing toilets I thought. Look. These are they. Them? Whatever.


    Wore them all day - excellent! No more skinned knuckles [three of those last week] and no more frizzled skin. AND - they beat the duvet covers into submission.

    Good grief - can't believe I've done an entire post about rubber gloves and duvet covers..I really must get out more.


    I am! What a day. Started off ok, then just spiralled out of control. A new sign for the FH needed sorting post haste - the printer [although excellent in every other way] didn't answer his phone; I think he hates talking. I agree. Phones? Curse you, Alexander Graham Bell! Then I needed to do a quote for a logo design, which was the PLAN for the morning; that never got done, as I was phoning the printer and resizing the sign whilst trying to fix my friends laptop which refuses to access the internet unless it's at my house. Huh??

    Then off the Hotel Valance for a few hours of Duvet Cover Rage and a bit of exciting racing about in the Mazarati aka The Golf Cart. I might steal one. I love them. It's sort of like a motorbike with a lid. I miss my motorbike! I had a Yamaha XS 750 Special…so cool!

    Yamaha XS750S

    In the middle of that a chap rang from a design agency to ask me to send a PDF portfolio, as he has my CV and likes it. He is forwarding it to the client. Hoorah!  No problem says I - soon as I get home, I'll send it via email. This discussion took place whilst I was fighting with a double flat sheet with more starch in it than a typical sheet of copy paper.

    Raced through the chalets [had luck, as it appears that everyone who stayed was obsessively neat - bless them]. Raced to the bank for the FH [not in the Mazarati - boo]. Zoomed home - straight on the pc making PDF's. Click, new email. internet. For SIX HOURS!?? Noooo! Dial 151 for Instant Frustration.

    So, off I went to my friends house with her [all fixed! yay!] laptop. Hooked up, and guess what? Doesn't work - well, it worked, but with 3 billion problems. NOT what I spent 4 hours to sort last night! Grr. Left, with instructions to friend to phone the provider. She did, spent 2 hours on the phone to India [thank you Madam, now please do this. Good. Thank you Madam. Now do that. etc. AAAArgh - SO polite!!], and all appears to be resolved. Great stuff.

    In the meantime I have a headache thanks. Saga of rubber gloves next!

    Tuesday, 4 May 2010

    itinerary for Woman v Cancer cycle Kenya

    This is my itinerary for the Women v Cancer Kenya trip. One of the other women, Anita, kindly saved me the trouble of most of the typing by posting it on her blog. And I promptly nicked and edited it.

    Day 1: overnight London to Nairobi. Usually an 8 hour flight. Note to self: Don't forget some sandwiches.

    Day 2: 5 km ride. Nairobi to Nyeri

    A 4 hour transfer to Green Hills Hotel in Nyeri, then bike fitting and a short 5 km ride to Robert Baden Powell's grave. Hear more info about the ride after dinner that night. Have second thoughts and run off screaming into the bush.

    Day 3: 98 km cycle. OMG. Nyeri to Nyahururu.

    A long steady climb with downhill stretches. We reach the equator at 83 km. Overnight at Thompson's Fall Lodge.

    Day 4: cycle 57 km. Nyahururu to Nakuru. Transfer to Hotel Kabarnet. Collapse into the swimming pool and refuse to move.

    Some uphill climbing. Leaving Nyahururu and head into Subukia Valley. After 14km we stop at a view point over the valley, 2550m above sea level. From there into Subukia town and then through vast tea plantations. After lunch we transfer 140 km to Kabarnet on the edge of the Kerio Valley. Overnight at Hotel Kabernet built by President Moi.

    Day 5: cycle 93kms. Kabernet to Eldoret. The most challenging day.

    Climbing the Elgeyo escarpment. 18km downhill. Steep. Downhill cycling! Yay, a gravity assist! [or a crash…] Around the 28km point we start a serious 26km climb on windy [is this winding or has it got gales?] roads through the forest to the top of the Great Rift Valley. After lunch a gentler ride downhill; overnight at the Wagon Hotel.

    Day 6: Eldoret to Kakamega. 98km if it's dry weather or 110km if it's been raining [hmm - what's the bets on rain?]. Up to lunch time we cycle on very hilly tarmac roads which undulate through plantations and farms. Some steeper hills when we reach Kapsabet. After we cycle on a dirt track past small farms and villages and into rainforest towards Kakamega.

    If it's been raining we will cycle on the busy main road for 62km. Then 34km along a smaller road entering the Kakamega Forest reserve. [This is if we survive cycling amidst the Matatu's on the main road!] Overnight at the Golf Hotel, Kakamega.

    Day 7: cycle 53 km. Kakamega to Kisumu

    Mainly downhill with some steep climbs. We will see Lake Victoria after about 39km. Overnight at the Sunset Hotel. 
    End of ride.

    Day 8: transfer to Nakuru. Free time to relax with option of a game drive. Overnight in Nakuru. Don't know where yet?

    Day 9: Nakuru to Nairobi.
    In the afternoon we will visit Nairobi National Park and the elephant orphanage. I can't wait! Love elephants! I hope I can still walk at this point…

    In the  evening we have the option of a night out to The Carnivore restaurant [Zebra steak anyone?] and the Simba Saloon. The rate of 45USD [about 30.00GBP]  at The Carnivore  includes waiting, transport and food but excludes drinks. Like we're going to miss that?

    Day 10: back to London. All this is subject to change. Please sponsor me - doing this post has made my hair stand on end!


    Sunday, 2 May 2010

    anyone have a cupcake cannon?

    After the date fiasco - had to move the Fairy Cakes in the Garden event because in my Outlook calendar, Fathers Day is on the 18th? What? Oh - I see…it puts it on the same DATE every annual reminder. NOT the third Sunday etc. Well, that's remedied anyway. No wonder I am always late with things. Grumble.

    So, now it's on the 27th which is during the World Cup Football. I expect about 3000 women to arrive at my gate merely to escape the constant footy on the TV! ;o)

    I will have to MAKE [or is it bake?] some Fairy Cakes myself I suppose. Bad idea…they will be black underneath. I don't bake. Ever. Therefore I have been trundling about on various 'Cupcake' sites. For inspiration. And ideas. Might make some with Hershey's cocoa in them.

    But in my trundling, this is the best thing I've seen yet - must have one! I saw it on the Iron Cupcake's site and went and downloaded it from YouTube. LOVE it.

    But it doesn't help with me baking some, so I'm back to the rounds to find an idiot proof recipe…

    Saturday, 1 May 2010

    Fairy Cakes in the Garden Sunday, 27 June 2010

    Make a diary date please! Date: Sunday, 27 June 2010

    Time: 12:00 - 16:00, Location: Alphington, Exeter


    This is going to be my first fundraiser for the Woman V Cancer cycle Kenya palaver. I am a bit nervous in case no-one turns up! Imagine that…oops. Or 300 people arrive and can't fit? heh heh - or, not enough fairy cakes??

    Anyway, this is the story - ANYONE from anywhere at all, is invited to view my little garden. A public event! Eek! In MY garden? Which is the size of a postage stamp? Hmm - well, hey ho, should be amusing if nothing else eh? I am hoping it will look fab by then. Damn these English summers! SO unreliable!! At the moment it is tipping with rain. Bah. Slug City round here - I really feel like waiting out there for them with the salt pot…my poor Hostas! Although the Bressingham Blue is doing really well so munch marks yet. The Tree Fern is very happy with all this crabby weather mind you. Sprouting fronds like no tomorrow.

    I am also hoping to have a few of the plants that grow in the garden potted up to sell. Solomon's Seal, Mollis [Lady's Mantle], Shasta Daisy, Cornflower [Bachelor's Button] etc. That's for the peeps who don't eat cake. Plants will be £1.00 each. No, you can't eat them. You mustn't!!

    There will be a gate fee of £2.50 per person. Kids, as they're not really people, enter for £1.00 each. This is because the kids [Yay them!] will need to eat at least TWO Fairy Cakes each. ;o) No throwing stones either you small persons!

    Coffee and tea will be .50p a cup, and the Fairy Cakes will be .50p each too. I have yet to discuss this with my Fairy Cake makers. Hmm - could be an idea to do that…

    Please either come, or tell people in the area about it. Would love to see you! And thanks.