Monday, 25 July 2011

last but not least at the Mill on the Exe

Yay! The LAST fundraiser went off swimmingly! We raised £587.50!! Thanks to the Mill on the Exe for hosting the event – the staff were all amazingly helpful. Janice and Ashley bent over backward to help me have a good night. And thanks to all the friends and performers who supported me yet again!
IMG_1538I had three amazing bands, all of whom gave their time for free – Mark Travis Blackstone with Freeway Split, The Raphaelites, and 'Are You Experienced'… they were all great. Really great – money couldn't buy better.

Freeway Split

IMG_1644The Raphaelites


'Are You Experienced'

IMG_1893Mark Tyler did an excellent job as the compère. He started at 5.00 and was there until the end, which I really didn't expect. We did a radio interview at 6.30 [?] which went out live on ExeterFM at 7.00. I got the giggles – no idea why. I just always imagine myself sounding like a chipmunk on radio. But Mark Travis was there to lend some sense! Although from this pic you wouldn't think so? ;)

The FH arrived early and manned the gate, selling raffle tickets to all and sundry. My best supporter :)


Claire was there with a table full of beautiful fairy cakes [they were a sell out!] and she and Sam donated half their take to the fund. They are a new business, so that was like IBM giving me £50 000…thanks girls!


And of course, the burlesque girls…well! They were wonderful! Cherry Ve'Dore and Lady Lace. Elegant and entertaining. Totally captivated the audience.


IMG_1865 Lady Lace

IMG_1832 Cherry Ve'Dore

Thank you Alex Toze for the lovely photos!! What a pro!

DSC_0012 And of course there were all the cancery types. That's what it was all about, after all…this is the only thing about events that daunts me. Talking to people who have had cancer. Or had a loved one who died of cancer. Everyone has a story. Everyone needs to talk and tell that story – and I am the perfect person to talk to, as I am also a cancery type…it's amazing, but it's very draining.
I came home thinking of all those people's lives; how they've changed. How they've struggled and will still struggle. The physical fact that one has recovered from cancer is a wonderful wonderful thing. I know that – I am living that now.

But it doesn't stop the rat in the back of the mind, gnawing away, telling you it's back…making you wonder if any little thing is the forerunner of a recurrence…the mental effect of having cancer is quite astounding. And rather frustrating when one watches adverts like the CRUK one running right now. Where everyone 'gets better' and 'donate £2 a month and together we WILL beat cancer'.


Perhaps they should perhaps ask £10 per month – wouldn't that be quicker?? It's a tear jerker for sure – their last ad was better. What we really need is facts. Not heart rending movies – but actual information about what CRUK are really doing for us. I know they are doing amazing things – they should put those facts in the advert instead of making everyone reach for the Kleenex. We cry enough about cancer and it's ripple effects. The devastating effects it can have on one's relationships. Family and friends are all affected – sometimes with horrendous results.

BUT, enough ranting – I am thrilled that we made a massive £587.50 from the event, bringing my total fund raising to £4671.00!! Please go here to donate if you can – I would love to make K5!

Thank you everyone who supported me in this – you are all amazing! :)

Tuesday, 19 July 2011


Ok good I've had a haircut so I look MUCH better. Not so much like a Weetabix. I have no idea what happens to my hair – the sun gets on it, viola, I am blonde. ER – yuck! So off I went [eventually] and had the lot chopped off.

And I feel better too – I am quite seriously considering a grade 2 for Kenya. I am beginning to wonder if hair is over rated.

And I have been cycling here and there [sometimes with my helmet on!] – this Sunday we did a hill near us that last year I would have been crying at the mere thought of it. Yay. Made it to the top no problem. Hills. Horrible. Only good thing about them is IF one eventually gets to the top, there's a downhill!

One person whom I always think about when I am really struggling is Sam. She cycles. But she also rock climbs – see her here. Amazing. She's an ovarian cancer survivor. In the true sense of the word. She is a Vice President of HERA, she is constantly challenging herself – and she has a great sense of humour. She does inspire me.

sam climbing

And the check-up went well – my CA 125 is at 9 again. A rise, but well within the norms of 0>35, so I am chuffed to bits. I kept thinking something would stop me from doing this Cycle Kenya. All the worries with my stomach. But the onc did a good check and she says everything seems good to go. What a relief!!
Now to get through the insurance palaver…grr.

What amazes me is how far I've come. This is during chemo, 2008 – note horrible wig and steroidy face. And I was always so cold.


This is in 2011, just about to do 57 miles for Force  – who'd have thought? Not me, that's for sure. I still have fat knees mind you...and now I am always hot! What a life eh? ;) In August we are doing the Great Shakespeare Ride – 100km.
Let's hope I can do the hills!


Saturday, 9 July 2011

once more unto the breach?

Here's the route for the Shakespeare ride...use the scroll bar on the left to get to the bottom and view the elevations...while I wander off and have my head examined!


Force bike ride 041
One of the horrible hills on the Force ride.

well, we've really done it now! In order to prepare for the Women v Cancer Kenya cycle, I need 'saddle time'. And training. The training weekend we did in the Cotswolds was great, so some of us from the first cycle have decided to get together again in August for the Great Shakespeare Ride. There is a £20 registration fee for the 100km ride, and any other time I'd have asked for sponsorship for the hospice, but not this year. People have been more than generous already and I really want to keep my friends :)

So – back to the latest insanity. The elevations look horrendous! In particular, Lark Stoke Hill, which is apparently a single track with a poor surface, a 1 in 7 (15%) average for around 1 and a half miles. SHRIEK!! The hardest hill we did in the Cotswolds was a 12% gradient and it nearly killed me.

BUT the entire ride is only 1 km more than the longest cycle we do from Nyeri to Nyahururu [approx.99km cycling] on the 3rd day in Kenya, so it'll be fantastic to succeed at this. A lot of this cycling lark seems to be to do with your mental attitude? If we think we can do it, we will do it? That's my theory and I'm sticking to it. The longest I've ever cycled has been the Force 50 mile, and on mountain bikes it was a struggle. But we did it [yes, I am quite proud of myself actually!]

So we're all booked up to go. We have accommodation at one of the Women v Cancer cyclists homes, which will be entertaining, as quite a few peeps are camping in her garden. Personally I detest camping, so I have booked a nice, comfy bed for us a very reasonable price. The FH took a bit of persuading, but as some of the other women's other halves are also coming, he's IN! yay! My ever reliable back up. And Vicky – who, being a youngster, is camping?!

The next post will show the route – it's impossible to embed it in WLW, so unfortunately I am going to have to post it using Blogger's posting thing – which crashes every 3 minutes and is quite irritating! Check it out [if I succeed!]

Thursday, 7 July 2011

the next fundraiser!

At the Mill on the Exe – see here for details!

mill on the exe poster



Picture 001

As the check up looms I become more emotional. And a bit scared. Quite scared actually. Completely insomniac. It's normal – but it doesn't make it easier. All us cancery types are the same – check up time is murderous. We turn into monsters and we can't help it. But happily the people who love us understand. It's simply nerves. But nerves can cause untold dramas.

I am worried because I have a 'symptom'. Grr. Symptoms suck. I have a bloated tummy and it's doing my head in. To say the least. But I wonder if it's hypochondria? Or just plain terror of a bad result – I had my bloods done this week. That was fun. Not. I kept thinking I should have done this, or I should have done that…when, in reality, nothing I do will make any difference. Either the cancer will take hold again or it won't.

I damn well hope it can't! I need to cycle 400 km across Kenya on October! I keep thinking something is going to happen to stop me doing that – and I would be FURIOUS if it did.

So. Cross your fingers or say your prayers for me. I need every  help I can get…

Sunday, 3 July 2011

check up. and more cycling!

DSCF0435Getting off the Exe ferry with the bike – a bit heavy for stairs!
Pfft! Would so love to NOT have to have check ups – but I am sure I'd have a mental breakdown without them. Even the change from 3 monthly to 6 monthly almost gave me a heart attack…but I've got used to it now.

This next check up will be serious, as I feel like I need full MOT before I go to Kenya. For my mental health more than anything. Plus I am hoping everything is still ok and the CA 125 is LOW. Lots of problems with my tummy recently haven't helped my mind set, but I will see what they say. Hopefully it will be on the lines of: 'don't be stupid'.

Obviously I had to get a waiver for the travel insurance – another one of those hideous phone calls where I was talking to a person who is not trained deal with cancery types – plus they quite patently find the entire discussion repugnant. Well – ME TOO!! I so hate insurance companies. But I am stronger now, and can cope with it without bursting into tears afterward.
But you would think that an insurance company specifically chosen for this kind of event would have people who were a little more simpatico – trained or informed even?? Pfft! Well, that would be a NO. grr. Anyway.

DSCF0430 I have been madly stuffing my brain with work and cycling in order to avoid having a brain full of cancery stuff. The cycle training is fabulous for this – you really cannot think about anything else but getting your butt UP THAT HILL when you're cycling. Last weekend we did a 50 mile [turned out to be 57 miles!] for Force. The FH and I were on our  mountain bikes – the road bike peeps kept asking us if we were mad [as they passed us at speed]…because our bikes weigh a ton compared to theirs, making it that much more difficult. But we did it in 5 and a half hours! brilliant – and the inclines were a pig, so we're well chuffed.

This weekend we did the Exe loop – turned out to be about 20 miles, and the track is amazing! Apart from one small glitch at Starcross, where the cycle path ends in a curb, as averse to a ramp…er – hello CRASH! My front wheel hugged the curb, I braked and flew over the handlebars. Even my best attempt at a commando roll didn't help – THREE grazes on my knee [how does that happen? surely one would have been sufficient?] a smashed back of the hand, plus an interesting shoulder wound. Thank goodness for gloves, or my palms would have resembled mince meat. I now need new gloves. Oh and a new knee might be nice ;)

So, here we have: insane blonde hair [what is that all about??], a grazed shoulder, knee and hand and a pained face!

The route is great – it hugs the estuary all the way to Exmouth.


We did home to Exmouth; in Exmouth we went to our favourite pub, the Grove [this is where we went after I was diagnosed – I always remember ringing my Mum and brother from there – it's my good luck pub! Views over the estuary are wonderful] then took the ferry across to Starcross because I love going on ferries ;) It costs £5.00 each plus £1.00 for each bike. But it was fun. And today was so hot! Amazing weather. I really need to get my lazy butt to the hairdressers too – my hair has gone blonde? Madness. Then Starcross to home.


From Starcross we made our [wounded and stinging!] way to the Turf Locks, where all they are allowed to give bleeding people is a 'non alcoholic wet wipe'. For which I was extremely grateful…but really! What happened to germolene or spray iodine? Health & safety patently put paid to sense. I put loads of ice on the bleeding bits and then had a lovely glass of medicinal [heh heh]  wine in the sun.

We then trundled the last 5 miles home against the wind [as usual!]from there and had a fab bbq in the garden, which was like Morocco – HOT!! What a lovely day! Look – lots of Hollyhocks on the path.


Friday, 1 July 2011


The first WOMEN V CANCER cycle [which I am doing-yay!] is 29 October – 7 November.
There are 4 further cycles on these dates: 6 – 15 Nov & 18 – 27 Nov 2011 / 11 – 20 Feb & 19 – 28 Feb 2012

I absolutely can't wait now! Only 59 days to go! I will find out this week if I am actually going – come on postman!! Hurry up! I hope I'm going - I've raised over and above the minimum target of £2800 too, thanks to all my wonderful friends and family. £4,528.00 so far and still counting :)

"But you can still donate here if you would like to help make a difference to research into ovarian, breast and cervical cancer."

Below is our itinerary as it stands at the moment. It could change but I am not as worried as I was, having completed a road cycle [on my mountain bike…groan] for Force. The FH and I did 57 miles, all uphill [impossible, but it seemed like it!] in 5 hours! A radically different cycle than the training weekend in the Cotswolds…these people were really competitive and don't trundle along at all. Then we did the Great Shakespeare – another 67 miles!

But check out the trip! I am hoping to post the map of the ride next week once I have the correct route. The hotels look great too.

Day 1: 29 October.

Overnight from London to Nairobi.
8 hours. Imagine 80 women all in the same plane for 8 hours…it's going to be hilarious.

Day 2: 30 October.
Nairobi – Nyeri - 5km cycling approx.

Morning arrival in Nairobi. Coach transfer to Green Hills Hotel in Nyeri (3–4 hours approx). Nyeri is one of the largest towns in the Central Highlands and the gateway to Aberdare National Park. Bike Photo KenyaBike fitting on arrival [we are all taking our own seats – see example of bike supplied in Kenya above] followed by a short warm up ride to Baden Powell’s grave. The founder of the Scout Association movement spent his final days here. If it’s a clear day we’ll enjoy views up to Mount Kenya. Tonight after dinner we hear more about the challenge ahead.

Day 3: 31 October.
Nyeri – Nyahururu - 99km cycling approx.
[*62 miles]

Today is a tough introduction to the challenge. Once into the lush countryside that surrounds Nyeri, we pass fields of crops including fruit, vegetables, sugar cane, tea and coffee. It’s a long steady climb with several downhill stretches over small river valleys with some fantastic views. We’ll be able to see majestic Mount Kenya in the distance and Aberdare National Park at closer range. After 83km we reach the equator for the first time. Overnight at the Thomson’s Fall Lodge. As the name suggests there is a great view of the waterfalls from the hotel grounds.

Day 4: 1 November. 
Nyahururu – Nakuru then transfer to Baringo -  57km cycling approx.
[*35 miles]

Shorter easier day, with some uphill cycling, through lush countryside. We leave Nyahururu and head into the Subukia Valley. Subukia Valley After around 14km we stop at a viewpoint over the valley (2550m). From there we continue to Subukia town. As the day progresses we pass vast tea plantations with their light green hues. After lunch transfer 120km to Baringo a small village next to one of Kenya’s fresh water lakes. Over night at Soi Safari Lodge. Which looks fabulous! 'Giraffe skin' sofas!

Day 5: 2 November.
Kabarnet – Eldoret - 85km cycling approx.
[*53 miles]

The most challenging day of the ride crossing the Kerio Valley and climbing the Elgeyo escarpment. We start with a transfer from Baringo to Kabarnet (approx 1 hr). The ride begins with 18km of downhill, parts of which are quite steep. After around 28km we encounter a very serious climb on windy roads through a pretty forest with lots of butterflies. You will be given the opportunity to take up either the bronze (6km), silver (15km) or gold (23km) Hill Challenge! [er – no brainer, I believe we'll be doing the bronze??]

There will be a huge sense of achievement when we reach the top of the hill (2293m) and we’ll be rewarded with fantastic views across the Rift Valley. After lunch the rest of the ride is generally much flatter through a beautiful area with little traffic. Overnight at the Wagon Hotel.

Day 6: 3 November.
Eldoret – Kakamega - 92km
(61km on tarmac & 31km on dirt road) if there has been no rain.
[*57 miles]

There are two options for cycling from Eldoret to Kakamega. The one we take will depend on the weather in the days before we arrive here.

If there is no rain we will do the following. This day is made up of two halves. Up to lunch time we cycle on very hilly tarmac roads which undulate through plantations and farms. There are some steeper longer hills when we reach Kapsabet. After lunch we cycle on a dirt track past small farms and villages and into rainforest towards Kakamega. Overnight at the Golf Hotel in Kakamega.

However, if there has been rain (which is not unlikely), we will continue cycling on the tarmac road for another 31km to assure that we have covered the same distance. From here we will be transferred the rest of the way to the Golf Hotel in Kakamega.

Day 7: 4 November.
Kakamega – Kisumu - 53km cycling approx.
[*33 miles]

Today’s ride is mainly downhill with some steep climbs. After 39km we get our first view of our final destination - Lake Victoria which covers 70,000 square kilometres and is the major geographical feature in this part of the continent.

Lake_VictoriaTraffic starts to build up as we near Kisumu, which surprisingly is Kenya’s third largest town. We finish cycling around lunch time. Overnight at the Sunset Hotel and a well deserved celebratory meal. [which, according to travel reviews, has a lot of mosquitoes…]

Day 8: 5 November.
Transfer Kisumu – Nakuru approx 4 hours

We transfer by road to Nakuru. This afternoon is free to relax or take part in an optional game drive. Overnight in Nakuru at the Waterbuck Hotel.

Day 9: 6 November.
Transfer Nakuru – Nairobi approx 3-4 hours

This morning we have an early transfer to Nairobi. We have an optional visit [£20 per person] to an elephant orphanage the where orphaned babies are looked after & raised until they are ready to return to the wild in the Nairobi National Park. This 120 square mile national park is home to giraffes, monkeys, rhinos, antelopes and more.

We will  visit Faraja Cancer Support to see the work of the cancer support project which we are supporting. For those of you on Facebook, their page is here.

fajaraWe will be having lunch at the Faraja Cancer Support Centre, and can buy snacks or a meal at the hotel if we wish. In the evening there is no 'inclusive' meal provided at the hotel.

We overnight at the Ole-Sereni hotel which does look rather fab! The change in the itinerary is due to the blown up nightclub and bus stop in Nairobi. Action for Charity have decided that the Ole-Sereni is safer for us. Suits me! Check out the bar area, overlooking the Nairobi National Park…bring it on!

ole sereni 01

Day 10: 7 November.
Nairobi – UK

Transfer to the airport for our flight to London, arriving the same day. Drive home to Devon!


The Rift Valley shears through Kenya from Lake Turkana in the north to Lake Magadi in the south, crossing from inhospitable desert through fertile farming country and back to desert. It is a fascinating volcanic landscape and although most activity ceased some 2 million years ago, forces are still at work. Revered by anthropologists as the 'cradle of humanity', Kenya is the heart of African safari country, boasting the most diverse collection of wild animals on the continent.

It lies on Africa's east coast, and shares a border with Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania. Its coast is lapped by the Indian Ocean and it shares the vast waters of Lake Victoria with its western neighbours. Kenya's flora is bright, wonderful and often weird but extraordinarily diverse with some 10,0000 species from tiny wayside flowers to giant hardwood trees. It has no fewer than 1,033 known species of bird and range in size from the tiny sunbird to the huge ostrich and cover every colour of the rainbow. Kenya boasts some 160 species of mammals. "The Big Five" lions, buffaloes, elephants, leopards and rhinos all cavort openly in Kenya's main parks but rhinos are very rare and leopards are very shy.

The-David-Sheldrick-Wildlife-TrustAll elephant Photographs above are Copyright by The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust

This itinerary is complex and subject to change and © Copyright of Classic Tours