Goodbye to 2018

So that was 2018 – not necessarily my “best” year, but a year in which I learned something about myself, in which I made new friends, in which I drew closer to God. There were bright times, and darker ones, but here are a random selection of 12 photographs.

JANUARY

I found that focussing on celtic knotwork was a way of taking my mind off what was happening to me. I had surgery on 3rd January, to remove the tumour. This was done during my recovery, as a Burns’ Night gift for my Scottish-ancestors Rector and his Scottish wife.

FEBRUARY

Chemo started – again focussing on zentangling was a way of taking myself out of the situation. This koala was drawn as a gift for someone, but I have no idea who!!

MARCH

Despite chemo, we were able to go to Manchester to see Bill Bailey (comedian) and Elbow (band) in concert. We also met my great nephew, Billy, for the first time. Here he is with my niece, Rose, and her husband, Dave. We had a magnificent time. I also lost my hair by the end of the month

APRIL

I was still well enough to go to Fréjus with the Cycle Club – I spent a lot of time resting in the holiday village, but was able to for shortish walks. Here I am dipping my toes in the Med!

MAY

The Royal Wedding gave me an excuse to wear my patriotic scarf as a turban! Friend Cathy and I went up to Friend Richard’s to watch it on his big screen TV – an excuse for fizzies and good food! I made an inelegant elderflower and lemon sponge. Which was very nice!

JUNE

I was into the second set of chemo treatments by now – these were less pleasant (if “pleasant” could be used to describe the first set!) than the FEC100 with fatigue really taking over. However I still was able to get to Annecy with the cycle club. I did a little tiny bit of walking – 2 km was the furthest I walked, but I was very happy to have managed that!

JULY

We were into high summer by now, with long balmy evenings. Friend Cathy hosted a music night up at her home, where we sat out, singing, playing instruments, and enjoying good company. Great fun – even if we were forced indoors by a sudden rainstorm!

I had my last chemo at the beginning of July – huzzah! – and two or three weeks later started my six weeks of radiotherapy. It wasn’t so tiring, by any means, although I still appreciated an afternoon nap when I returned home from hospital.

AUGUST

The village had its Fete Patronale, right at the end of August. Never our favourite time, as the travelling fair sets up right outside the house, but we went to stay at Friend Richard’s overnight, and came down to watch the light show. It was, let’s say, “interesting”!

I finished my radiotherapy sessions!

SEPTEMBER

September was a good month, as I started to get some energy back, and – apart from my hormonetherapy – I had finished treatment. So, we were able to have a holiday in the Italian lakes, thanks to the generosity of a friend. Here I am enjoying the gardens above Lake Maggiore

And then my mum and my sister came to stay.

Mum, Judy and Mr FD on a walk through Le Gouffre d’Enfer in the Pilat mountains.

OCTOBER

I went back to work – not too much, but I was glad to be starting again! I felt I’d been lounging around for too long!

Still time for fun however – I had my birthday celebrations at Friend Alison’s

and went to Waterloo for the Convention of the Convocation of Episcopal churches in Europe, where Mark Edington was elected as our Bishop. Here he is speaking, via Skype, to the Convention. I was on the Transition Committee for the process of preparing for the Consecration of Mark; however, as it was causing me fairly severe anxiety, I resigned from the Committee in November. Still, I’m looking forward to going to the Consecration service next April.

NOVEMBER

The weather was a little odd, going from very cold (plus snow!) to extremely mild within a matter of days. Luckily it was warm(ish) and sunny on the day we got involved with making cider with our friends Jean and Claire, at Jean’s family home a few kilometres from St Just. Here is Jean, Mr FD and Jean’s brother-in-law manipulating the apple press that has been used for generations. And here are Jet and Bulot (except I don’t know how to spell his name – it’s a French slang term meaning “Little Willy”!!)

DECEMBER

My friend Jane and I spent a few days in Strasbourg, exploring the Christmas Markets. Here are a couple of views of Petit France, the area of the city where there are canals. It was a chilly day when we walked around, but we found a lovely restaurant to warm up in!

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Do you know, looking back over these – and many other – photos has reminded me that this year hasn’t been so bad after all! Yes, I had to go through treatment for breast cancer, but despite that, there have been many really enjoyable things! We’ve been lucky enough to be able to go away several times, though I was sad to miss a couple of weddings, as they fell on a Saturday just a couple of days after a chemo session – no way I could have gone!

Here are the cards I made for them

I hope that 2019 will be even better than 2018. It’s starting well: Mr FD has a job!! He begins three months of training with a fibre optics company on Wednesday. As long as he passes the training, he has a six months probationary period with the company; if he passes that period, he should have a permanent post! This is really good news.

So, I wish all my readers a happy 2019, full of joy, and blessings.

 

Christmas Eve

(I’m writing this on Christmas Eve, but I’ll probably schedule it to publish on Boxing Day)

Well, this morning Breakfast TV was discussing people who haven’t finished their Christmas shopping, or at least, their food shopping; reporters were standing in supermarkets – which, I feel, were disappointingly empty for their reports. “There are people queueing for the vegetables”, the reporter announced as the camera panned across the fresh produce aisles where a few people were picking up bags of parsnips. We are all organised – although we did pop down to Carrefour for extra-soft “Balsam” tissues, as I have a stinking cold, and we may have bought a bottle of fizzies to drink tomorrow (as I’d only bought really cheap stuff from Noz!)

Mr FD is on his computer, I’m on mine, the cats are sleeping somewhere around the place, and the house is quiet.

Pomme, sleeping on the amplifier under my desk – a warm “underheated” space!

 

There are only the two of us on Christmas Day – we’ll have a quiet day of good food, a walk, some reading, some Christmas radio, some music and some TV. I think “The Princess Bride” is planned for tonight (Inconceivable!) If you don’t know this film, I’d heartily recommend you seeking it out without further ado. It is a perfect family film.

It’s strange but I always feel one should eat fairly simply, and preferably vegetarianly, on Christmas Eve – I wonder if this is something left over from my childhood? So last year’s discovery of the French Graisse de Noel soup fits perfectly with this. Here’s a link to the recipe (in French) So we’re having that for our “tea” tonight, with maybe a smidgeon of pannetone!

For lunch I have fancied up an old recipe which I found in my ancient recipe book. It was a very simple receipe from a Waitrose recipe card. Here’s my “enhanced” version:

  • Jar of marinaded peppers
  • tin of tomatoes
  • green olives (a couple of spoonfuls)
  • parsley
  • aubergine
  • mushroom
  • mozzarella

Whizz the peppers, parsley, olives and tomatoes together with a blender. Season to taste.

Thickly slice the aubergine (For two of us I sliced one aubergine into 8 slices.) Brush with olive oil and bake until softish.

Pour the pepper/tomato sauce into an ovenproof dish. I topped with grated parmesan because I had some to use up.

Slice the mozzarella into 4 thick slices. Slice the mushroom crossways to make big rounds.

Put a slice of aubergine onto the sauce, then a slice of mozzarella, then a slice of mushroom, then the other slice of aubergine. Repeat until you have two stacks per person.

Add a little grated cheese. I also added some truffle flavoured olive oil because why not?

Bake for about 30 minutes at about 180°

Ready for the oven – if you enlarge the photo, you might be able to read the original recipe.

We’re going to have this with some corn bread from the bakers’.

This afternoon, I’m thinking I may crank my heater up a bit, and curl up in my Slanket with some choccies and a book. It’s a grey and drizzly day outside, so I think that may be the cheeriest thing to do!

Praise to the Light of Light

To welcome God’s light into the world, I share with you an Advent hymn of adoration from the Syrian Orthodox Church:

Praise to the divine Light

Praise to the Light of Light

Praise to the Light of Life

Praise to the Light of the World

Praise to our Light

Eternal Light, shining beyond the heavens, radiant Son, even into our very hearts

You illumine our lives, allowing us to see You

You enlighten us, allowing us to know You

You came to dispel the darkness of our Lives.

Thank you for coming to enlighten us to the splendour of your Love.

 

 

Happy Christmas!

THE WICKED FAIRY AT THE MANGER

by U.A.FANTHORPE

My gift for the child:

No wife, kids, home;
No money sense. Unemployable.
Friends, yes. But the wrong sort —
The workshy, women, wogs,
Petty infringers of the law, persons
With notifiable diseases,
Poll tax collectors, tarts;
The bottom rung.
His end?
I think we’ll make it
Public, prolonged, painful.

Right, said the baby. That was roughly
What we had in mind.

 

 

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

I wish all those who take time to come and read what I have written a very Happy Christmas.

Christmas Song N° 8

Here’s a carol I’d forgotten about, until I saw it suggested on a resources-for-church page, suggesting it as a possible song for yesterday. It is a song that I love, but which isn’t really sung that often.  It is an ancient hymn, originally written by the Roman poet Aurelius Prudentius in 348. It reminds us not so much of the humility and impoverished beginnings of Christ’s life, as many carols do, but rather the glory and the praise that will be when he comes to reign.

So here is a hauntingly beautiful rendition, followed by a rather joyous Celtic-inspired instrumental version

Of the Father’s love begotten

Ere the worlds began to be

He is Alpha and Omega,

He the Source, the Ending He

Of the things that are, that have been

And that future years shall see

Evermore and evermore

 

O ye heights of heaven, adore Him

Angel hosts, His praises sing

Powers, dominions, bow before Him

And extol our God and King

Let no tongue on earth be silent

Every voice in concert ring

Evermore and evermore

 

This is He whom Heaven-taught singers

Sang of old with one accord

Whom the Scriptures of the prophets

Promised in their faithful word

. Now He shines, the Long-expected

Let creation praise its Lord

Evermore and evermore

 

 

Christmas Song N°7

This is one of my favourite carols, sung by the choir at Winchester Cathedral. As I was at Teacher Training College in Winchester it seemed a suitable version! Sadly, in this world today, the words seem so apt, reminding us that, so often we block our ears to the call of God.

It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,
From angels bending near the earth,
To touch their harps of gold:
‘Peace on the earth, good will to men, ‘
From heav’n’s all-gracious King.
The world in solemn stillness lay,
To hear the angels sing!
Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long,
Beneath the angel strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love song which they bring:
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing!
Still thro’ the cloven skies they come,
With peaceful wings unfurl’d;
And still their heav’nly music floats
O’er all the weary world:
Above its sad and lowly plains
They bend on hov’ring wing,
And ever o’er its Babel sounds
The blessed angels sing.
All ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look, now! for glad and golden hours
Come swiftly on the wing:
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!
For lo! the days are hast’ning on,
By prophet bards foretold,
When with the ever-circling years
Comes round the age of gold;
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world give back the song
Which now the angels sing!

Christmas Song N° 5

Another haunting carol…first in the more well known form, and then in another interpretation, using Huron, French & English (I really like this version!).

 

Twas in the moon of wintertime when all the birds had fled
That mighty Gitchi Manitou sent angel choirs instead
Before their light the stars grew dim
And wandering hunters heard the hymn,

Jesus your King is born
Jesus is born, in excelsis gloria.

Within a lodge of broken bark the tender babe was found
A ragged robe of rabbit skin enwrapped his beauty round
But as the hunter braves drew nigh
The angel song rang loud and high

The earliest moon of wintertime is not so round and fair
As was the ring of glory on the helpless infant there
The chiefs from far before him knelt
With gifts of fox and beaver pelt

O children of the forest free, O sons of Manitou
The Holy Child of earth and heaven is born today for you.
Come kneel before the radiant boy
Who brings you beauty peace and joy

Here’s a link to the Wiki page, if you’d like to read more.

Christmas song N° 4

I love this carol – it takes me back to my school days, as we always used to sing this at the Carol service. It is so much nicer than the slightly hackneyed “We Three Kings…”

1. Three Kings from Persian lands afar
To Jordan follow the pointing star:
And this the quest of the travellers three,
Where the new-born King of the Jews may be.
Full royal gifts they bear for the King;
Gold, incense, myrrh are their offering.

How brightly shines the morning star!
With grace and truth from heaven afar
Our Jesse tree now bloweth. 

2. The star shines out with a steadfast ray;
The kings to Bethlehem make their way,
And there in worship they bend the knee,
As Mary’s child in her lap they see;
Their royal gifts they show to the King;
Gold, incense, myrrh are their offering.

Of Jacob’s stem and David’s line,
For thee, my Bridegroom, King divine,
My soul with love o’erfloweth.

3. Thou child of man, lo, to Bethlehem
The Kings are travelling, travel with them!
The star of mercy, the star of grace,
Shall lead thy heart to its resting place.
Gold, incense, myrrh thou canst not bring;
Offer thy heart to the infant King.

Thy word, Jesu, Inly feeds us,
Rightly leads us, Life bestowing. 
Praise, O praise such love o’erflowing.

Christmas Song N°3

This one is one of my absolute favourite Christmas songs – whenever I hear this, I always feel ready for Christmas!!

 

Now the season, now the question
Time to breathe a moment’s grace
For the hunter and the hunted
Taking time to break the pace
Are you hopeful? Are you haunted?
By the ghost of Christmas past
Face the future undaunted
Step aside or take your chance
Run with the fox into the wind
On to the dawn of tomorrow
Run with the fox into the wild
Into the wild and the cold
Beware of the rocks and be prepared
Prepare for love comes and goes
Run with the fox
Every year the revolution
Won or lost before begun
While we thrive on mass confusion
Thus we walk before we run
Run with the for in to the wind
On to the dawn of tomorrow
Run with the fox into the wild
Into the wild and the cold
Beware of the rocks and be prepared
Prepare for love finally grows

Let us live to tell a story
Here on Earth and out in Space
Forward on the road to glory
History records the chase
Have yourselves that certain Christmas
Eat be glad and drink the wine
Leave your sadness by the river
Giving love and given time
Across the ice of frozen lakes
Run with the fox
Along the lanes a lover takes
Run with the fox
Beneath a moon, a Christmas moon
Run with the fox
And sing a tune a dreamer’s tune
Run with the fox
Across the bridge of many ways
Run with the fox
On to the planes where dreamers play
Run with the fox
Beneath a moon a Christmas moon
Run with the fox