I came, I saw, I had a MAGNIFICENT time!!

All week we had been watching the weather in the UK – the “Beast from the East” causing chaos, with drivers stranded, airports shut down, villages cut off…but all the time, the little north west corner of the British Isles seemed to miss the worst of the weather. Then Storm Emma started romping up the west side of the UK…but veered over to Ireland just before reaching the top of Wales.

We had to get up early, at 5.00 am to drive over to Lyon, but I’d actually woken at 2.30 and not got back to sleep. I was actually much perkier than I’d imagined I’d be. We set out to Lyon airport hoping that the plane would not be cancelled. It wasn’t even delayed!!

Wearing a double surgical mask and latex gloves, to protect from infection – as these days were the days when my white blood cell count would be at its lowest, and I would be most vulnerable to infection – I cut a slightly pathetic picture. We comandeered a wheelchair at the airport and Mr FD pushed me through. I’m very glad, as it was quite a trek to get to the correct terminal. We went through security (surprisingly there was no queue at all) – I caused some problems as I explained about the stent for chemo, and they wanted to see proof of this. It was in my handbag, which had already gone through the scanner, so people were running aroud to fetch it. Then I had to be scanned with a hand held scanner rather than go through the walk-through scanner. It all took a bit longer than usual, but we had plenty of time. As I was in a wheelchair we were allowed through passport control ahead of others (huzzah!) and soon got settled on the plane. I plugged in my earphones and listened to a podcast for the flight. At Manchester we waited until everyone had left the plane, and then climbed the steps into the terminal building. As I entered the bhuilding I slipped on some very wet rubbery matting, and fell down: luckily I went quite slowly, and nothing was hurt, but the cabin crew and pilot who were just behind were very helpful and sympathetic.  Also luckily, a wheelchair had been left at the top of the steps and we were encouraged to use it – which meant priority going through border control!! Although we’d been so slow there weren’t many people left waiting anyway. Then we took the time to organise a wheelchair for the return journey, at Manchester airport. Later on, Mr FD contacted Lyon to organise assistance at that end too.

Mum had said she’d pay for car hire, so we went andpicked up the car, then drove to mum’s, in Liverpool. We had lunch, and then my sister arrived from Leicester (not held up by snow at all), and my brother from Stokesley (near Middlesborough) Despite the fact there was still a lot of snow on the east side of the country, he had encountered no problems with the trains getting over. It was lovely seeing them all! We sat and chatted all afternoon, as I had to take it easy, while Wonderful Mr FD went on a mission to buy, and then put in place, a new toilet seat for mum. We had dinner and then, as I’d been awake so early, suddenly fatigue hit me. I was in bed and asleep byabout 9.30, I think!

On Friday evening, we had hastily arranged a meet-up for lunch with my nephew Conor (Judy’s son) and my niece Rose (Mike’s daughter), her husband and baby, over in Manchester. So after relaxing all morning, while everyone else went out shopping for a disabled friend of mum’s, or taking things to the tip, or buying supplies of logs, we all set out for lunch.

Here we are at Croma Pizza, passing Billy the Baby round the table – except not to my end, as I had to stay away from babies (hotbeds of infection, apparently. And Billy was quite snuffly).

There were some, let’s say less traditional pizzas on the menu, but I decided to have

Baked garlic mushrooms, served with (quite a lot of) rocket and a slice of olive bread

Then I chose another starter for a main course, which was a chorizo and Bury black pudding bruschetta, with a goats’ cheese and beetroot side salad. It was very nice.

and with it, I drank a delicious Manchester craft beer, called “Manchester Skyline”

For dessert I chose a “Banoffi Mess” – basically Eton Mess, but made with bananas, meringue, ginger biscuits and cream, with toffee sauce. It was a bit of a disappointment – masses of cream, big chunks of meringue, two slices of banana and one crumb of ginger biscuit. It let down what was an excellent meal, and although I did mention it to the waiter no more was said about it.

Afterwards, Judy and mum went back to Liverpool, while Mike, Mr FD and I went to spend the afternoon with Rose, David and Billy.

Billy in his bouncy chair

I spent some of the time “resting my eyes” but it was lovely just chatting with them, and watching them play with Billy. I kept my mask and gloves on for the whole time, to avoid any infection. And then Mike, Mr FD & I set off for the Bill Bailey comedy gig – this was our Christmas present for Mike. We arrived quite early, but that was fine. I sat in my seat and “powered down” – that is to say, pulled my hat and hood over my eyes and just sat quietly with my eyes closed, relaxing and conserving energy.

Here we are, after my powering down, waiting for the show to start.

It was a very good show – Bill Bailey is a slightly surreal comic, but we thoroughly enjoyed the show. Here is a review of the show from The GuardianOurs was a little different, set in Manchester rather than Southend, but – ad libs aside – it was basically the same. We got home at about 11.30, and we went straight to bed.

On Sunday morning, mum went to church, but I decided it wasn’t worth expending more “spoons” than necessary, considering we had the Elbow gig in the evening. ( The “spoon theory” is a disability metaphor and neologism used to explain the reduced amount of energy available for activities of daily living and productive tasks that may result from disability or chronic illness. … A person who runs out of spoons has no choice but to rest until their spoons are replenished. from Wikipedia) So Judy, Mike & I looked at an old photo album, discussing who the various members of our family were, as Mike has spent quite a lot of time researching our family tree. Unfortunately, while we have great grandparents who were Irish, this is not enough to entitle us to an Irish passport. Mr FD played about with mum’s computer, organising our boiarding passes and assistance at Lyon airport for the journey home.

After lunch, Mr FD and I set off for the hotel in Manchester that we’d booked for Sunday night, about a mile away from Manchester Arena, where the gig was being held. For some reason, the Sat Nav didn’t want to work in Manchester city centre and we couldn’t find the hotel anywhere. We were just about to start a blazing row when Mr FD said “Look!” and there it was, in front of us. Getting to it was another kettle of fish, due to one way systems and taxi/bus lanes, so in the end we parked the car in a carpark and walked! Again, I saved my spoons, while Mr FD went to try to get the car to the hotel – another difficult time, but he finally made it.

We took the tram to Victoria Station, which is next door to the Arena, and Mr FD went to the Box Office, while I sat with a coffee in the station buffet. We grabbed a bite to eat at Greggs (I had a cheese and onion pasty.) and then headed to the Arena. You may remember the terrorist attack that took place in Manchester in May last year. I had imagined it taking place in a large plaza area outside the Arena, but when I saw how narrow the walkway and foyer area are, it is no surprise that the effects were so devastating. There was good security – only ticket holders being allowed up to the walkway, and then passing through X-ray machines at the entrance to the Arena itself.

Again, we were early, so I “powered down” until the support act, John Grant, came on. And then – huzzah! – the main event. Which was excellent! (Review from the Manchester Evening News)

Mr FD’s photo from during “Mirrorball”


After the show we left by a fairly quiet exit, and were lucky enough to be able to hail a taxi straight away. It was a 5/10 minute drive back to the hotel. We thought about going to the bar for a drink, buit they’d stopped serving – and really, that was a good thing, as I was dropping. Even though I was buzzing!!

The next day, we had a full Northern breakfast – sausage, bacon, fried bread, fried potatoes, mushrooms, tomato, black pudding, baked beans, fried egg (which I’m not allowed to have) – plus trimmings (toast-and-marmalade, juice, coffee) and then made our way to the airport, pausing at Asda for a few last minute purchases of the DVD of “Death of Stalin”, some magazines, Zantac indigestion tablets & Tiger Balm (cheaper in the UK!)

Mr FD wheeled me through the airport, on the pre-booked wheelchair, which gave us Fast Track through security and a designated seating area in the very crowded departure lounge. I bought some huge slabs of chocolate (CDM!)

Then we were given a heads-up to the departure gate, so we were there before everyone else, and a very nice gentleman then wheeled me to the plane, so we were in our seats and luggage stowed before the usual scrum. At Lyon, we waited until everyone had got off, then were met by a man with a wheelchair, who wheeled me swiftly through the terminal. When we reached the back of the queue for border control, a quick Excusez-moi! and we were fast tracked through Passport Control. Pausing only to pick up the hold luggage, the man insisted on wheeling me right to the car in the car park. And we headed home, arriving at 6.30 pm.

Today I’m a little fatigued, but not too bad. I slept until about 8.30, when the nurse arrived for my weekly blood test. I wonder if it will show my white blood cells are down?

It was the most amazing weekend. Mr FD was a complete star throughout, looking after me, organising everything and allowing me to just rest and to enjoy myself. Even if I have caught an infection (and I was very careful, using hand sanitiser after every bathroom visit, in between bathroom visits, after touching stuff…Etc etc. Plus my double mask protection and latex gloves in crowds & public places) it was worth it!! It did me the most enormous amount of good.

And thank you all so much for your positive messages of support – they have been very much appreciated.


2018 40 Acts :: 5 :: FAVOURITE

Hello dear ones!

So Week of Chemo commences! I am getting apprehensive, and my stress-related IBS has started to kick in, but other than that I’m fine. I went to see my friend Claire, who is the local district nurse, and she talked me through stuff. We made appointments for my weekly blood tests and generally helped me feel organised. She also persuaded me to go to see a magnétiseur – I’m not sure what the exact translation is, but I think it’s hypnotherapist. This man apparently has very good results at reducing side effects of chemo with his patients, so I’m hoping to make an appointment with him today. I don’t know how convinced I am, so maybe if I go as a sceptic it might not work, but quite honestly, I’m willing to give it a go!

I’ve booked my taxi/ambulance to take me to the hospital – Mr FD can’t take me as he has an interview for a job! It’s not really what he wanted, I don’t think (there was a job he applied for at the hospital that he quite fancied, but he’s not heard anything from them) but beggars can’t be choosers. Especially when it’s a CDI! He will however come in to see me when his interview is over. I need to make sure I’ve got a couple of podcasts downloaded onto my phone – I’ve purposely not listened to the last couple of Kermode & Mayo film reviews – plus a good book and some music. That should keep me occupied.

Anyway, let’s get on with 40 Acts:


You will be enriched in every way so that you may be generous on every occasion, which is producing through us thanksgiving to God, because the service of this ministry is not only providing for the needs of the saints but is also overflowing with many thanks to God.”
(2 Corinthians 9:11–12 NET)

favourite flavor

The prompt reads:

What are your favourite things? Favourite film? Favourite coffee shop? A view where you go to be alone? Get ready to fly in the face of your impulses – and give those personal favourites away. Give away the novel. Pass on the scarf you think someone would look fantastic in. Share the introvert hang-out spot.

GREEN: Share a favourite. Think of a favourite book, film, piece of music, or recipe. It might seem small, but sharing your own enthusiasm is part of the fun.

AMBER: Share an experience. Think of a favourite walk, bike ride, or local hangout. Take a recipe you’ve loved cooking for years, and make it for someone else.

RED: Share sacrificially. Share a favourite restaurant, or tickets to your favourite artist/show/sports team with someone. Push past expectations and pick up the bill.

On a day when I’m not going anywhere (except we are being taken out for dinner) I’m not sure how to do this, except…except…there’s a niggly little voice (Hello, God)

You may remember (or not…) that I gave this book a rave review

You can read more about it here

I will send a copy to someone who comments on this page…If you’d like it, leave a comment and I will draw one of the names and organise a copy to be delivered to you. I’ll contact you in about a week if you’re the winner to get your address.

There you go! A favourite book, recommended and promised to someone.

JUST ADDING: It’s no good just “liking” the page. If you vwant to be entered into the Giveaway, I would like you to actually comment

Surprise Christmas present!

Well, not quite a surprise, as Mr FD kept telling me it was on its way, but a surprise because I had no idea what it was.

It arrived today (not a Pusheen cat!) and I am delighted!

As the blurb says “365 Days of Art is an inspiring daily journal designed to help you nurture your creativity and develop a love of art” It gives 365 prompts to various art projects to complete:

Day 282: What is in the jars? Pickles?Fruit? Insects? What would you store in these jars?

Day 330: Add flowers to the stalks

It is something else to add to the things to do during my days at home: I do my 15 minute mile, using a Leslie Sansome YouTube video, and then I enter competitions…Really, by the law of averages, I have to win something! My poor friend Cathy is the “Scape Tagger” when it’s a FB competition, when I have to tag someone. She’s been tagged several times today! (Mind you, this pays her back for all of those “Like-and-share” pictures I get from her!!) I try to blog too – you might have noticed an upsurge in blog posts recently! Then I might do some zentangling too, although competition entry took over an hour today: there were lots to enter! It’s practically lunch time (scrambled egg today)

In the afternoon I will maybe continue zentangling, but I will add my 365 Days… to this now. I listen to Pray As You Go, and read another poem from “The Splash of Words”

Mark Oakley spoke to us at the  Vocation Discernment weekend in Budapest during November. He is an inspirational speaker and the book is really interesting. The blurb on Amazon reads: For those who know they enjoy poetry, and those for whom it is just a memory from schooldays, here is a rich feast that enables us to rediscover poetrys power to startle, challenge and reframe our vision. Like throwing a pebble into water, a poem causes a splash of words whose ripples can transform the way we see the world, ourselves and God. The Splash of Words argues that belief in poetry is vital for understanding that God is in the world as poetry is in a poem. It includes 40 poems from contemporary poets, as well as poems from earlier generations. Each is accompanied by a reflection, based on a deep understanding of poets and their art, which explores why poetry is vital to faith and how scripture, liturgy and theology are all poetry in motion.

I would argue that if you think you don’t like poetry this is an excellent book to help you, not understand poetry, but to experience it, to feel it, to grasp the very edges of what the poet is saying.

And usually too, I will read some of my French novel, although I have rather neglected this recently.

As the weather gets better I will try to get outside too for some sunshine (should the sun ever return!!)

So…lunch time now!

PS – We finished watching Line of Duty Series 1 last night! We decided we couldn’t wait. We now have to try not to watch Series 2 till next week. Otherwise, we’ll binge watch and it will all be finished!

Seven Things…

I thought I’d change the look a little – though not much, I’ll admit! I feel I ought to use the same header photo as always, simply because it is a view of the “small French village” about which I write (occasionally!) Mr FD took the photo, looking towards the old chateau quarter – you can’t see our house in it, but the chapel and the ancient walls date from the Middle Ages.

Otherwise, I don’t have much to say really…but perhaps it would be a good thing to “borrow” MrsM’s idea


(actually, it’s just evolved into “7 things that I’m grateful for & that have kept me going over the past 7 days”. But never mind!)

So, in this week that hasn’t exactly brought me the best of news, what made me happy?

1. THE CATS – as always, our cats have been a source of pain and pleasure. Bib seems to find it impossible to pee in the litter tray (though she will happily poo in it!) – she’s been checked over by the vet & there’s nothing physically wrong. But when she’s curled up in a small furry ball in your arms, it’s very hard to get cross with her! Jasper is our hefty bedtime companion, and spends a lot of the night mounting a take-over bid for the entire bed. He’s still a biter though, so we need to be careful. He’s not a lap cat, not at all, but last week, he crept onto my lap and lay there for a couple of minutes. It may happen yet!

Jasper, planning his next move.

2. BUYING A NEW TOP – Okay, we don’t have a lot of spare cash to be throwing around, but I’m afraid that the day after I’d been told I was going to need chemo, I went online and ordered this.I know it was naughty of me…but I did so like it!

tiny picture!

3. MR FD – but of course! He’s been a rock through all of this. He can’t quite grasp all my mood swings (and, sorry, dear, I fear they’re only going to get worse!) and sometimes he tries to tell me stuff when all I want is for him to hold me – but I know he is doing his very best, and that this is hard for him too.

An unflattering photo of Mr FD taken, when he was unawares, having just found the fève in the Galette des Rois. “Do I have to wear the crown?”

4. FAMILY & FRIENDS – messages of support, offers to knit me a hat (thanks, Michelle!), gifts of unscented handmade soap (“because chemo can affect your sense of smell”), promises to make me look glamorous (that will be an impossible task, I fear!), constant checking up, and offers to do things for me, Mum sending me a cheque “in case you need to buy expensive bras”…So many lovely people who care about me. It is very humbling.

5. PIZZA & WINE – Yes, I know I have to eat healthily – Dr Meunier emphasised this (and the need for regular, outdoor activity) – but the evening after the diagnosis, I wanted pizza. And wine. We’d bought “FD’s Juice Box” from Noz that day – a litre carton of Argentinian red wine, which isn’t half bad, for 79 cents! – and that, with the pizza made a good comfort food meal, followed by Thornton’s chocolates and “Taskmaster” on TV.


 I know I’ve already posted it, but I wanted to say a bit more. Clare Kenty is someone I met during my first year at Lines. Such fun, and even then she seemed grounded and sensitive. I say “even then” because she was young, smoked, smoked weed, and was a bit “out there”. Now, she’s moved to Canada, married and is into veganism, “womb wellness” (?!) and other stuff. None of which floats my boat, but each to their own; she has obviously found contentment. But this, this was just what I needed to hear at the moment I needed to hear it.

7 – GOD – I know that if you’re not a believer, you might think I bang on about Him a bit too much. Sorry about that, but more and more I find that I need to remind myself of His goodness, and His love for me. And you. Some people might ask “why has God allowed you to get cancer, if he’s so good?” I don’t think he has “allowed” it – cancer is a natural thing – stuff mutates, and that’s what these cells are doing. It’s just my tough shit that it’s happening to me! If you look at so many things in creation, they are of a consequence of other things. It’s likely that my cancer is a consequence of being on the Pill for 25 years or so…I don’t know why it was created so, but there you go. I trust God to see me through. You’re probably sick of it by now but here it is again:

Sorry…this has ended up being about cancer again. I must stop banging on about it. There are other things than that, Fat Dormouse!

Christmas Doings 2: Boxing Day

There was an organised walk from church planned for the afternoon, and Mr FD was up for it, so the morning was spent doing various enjoyable things – reading, blogging, listening to the radio etc. Then, after a hurried piece of cheese on toast at 11.15, we set out to borrow our friends’ dog, Marvin, as we thought he would enjoy the walk. Then we drove down to Clermont.

Marvin was very well-behaved in the car: he sat in the footwell, and quivered. I stroked him a lot to reassure him, and finally he settled down between my feet.

We arrived at the car park where we were all meeting, but had to hang around for quite a while, as other people who were coming got lost. Finally everyone arrived and we set off

We headed up the Vallée de Sans Souci, to the Squirrels’ Cascade

It was lovely – people swapped walking partners, as we went, and Marvin had a great time with Clio, the labrador. There was a puppy with us too, Narda, but she was kept on the lead as she was rather over excited by the whole event! She’s the dog being lifted up in the photo above.

When we arrived back at the car, Rob (our rector) & Caireen (his wife) invited us back to the house, “for some leftovers” We were expecting a turkey sandwich and a cup of tea – and ended up having a delicious 4-course meal! Red pepper & sweet potato soup, turkey dinner, with all the trimmings, cheese, and mince pies! Goodness me!

Marvin was thoroughly spoiled and loved the attention. He isn’t allowed on the furniture (except his chair) at home, but here he was positively encouraged onto the sofa!

He was given a bowlful of scraps to eat as well. Rob and Caireen would have adopted him on the spot if they could have done! He was splendidly well-behaved.

And after a lovely meal, we drove home, arriving in time to feed the cats, who sniffed my jeans very suspiciously.

A really nice day, with really nice people.

Mr FD, me and Marvin

My consultant phoned me yesterday – both the bone scan and the organ scan were normal, showing no signs that the cancer has spread!

I know we’re not out of the woods yet, but the relief that both Mr FD and I felt was enormous. Thank you, God.

Christmas Doings

Hello, dear ones. Thank you for your good wishes, positive thoughts and prayers. They are truly appreciated. I had another scan yesterday – this time checking the organs for cancer, – but I won’t know the results until the day I go in for surgery. Everything is now ready, except for one last visit to the clinic when the sentinel node will be identified and highlighted (I wonder how?!) so it’s easy to find the following day during surgery. It will be the first thing to be removed, and then while the rest of the operation is continuing, it will be analysed. If it’s clear of cancer, then we will know that it hasn’t spread into the lymph nodes. If it is cancerous, then the rest of the nodes will be removed.  Whatever the outcome is, we will deal with it.

I had good news regarding my insurance too – as I’m self employed I had taken out a further insurance to pay out if I couldn’t work. I thought that I had to be off work for a month before it kicked in, but I have discovered that it starts immediately if I am hospitalised. Which I will be. Huzzah! This means I don’t need to worry about loss of earnings during the radiotherapy. That was a worry, but now I’m okay. I also discovered I’m entitled to 25 hours of femme de menage – a cleaning lady/man – which is a nice surprise. I’m not sure we’ll take it up though. As Mr FD said “I’d have to clean up before they came!”

Anyway – onto the real reason for the post:


I went to the Christmas Eve service at church, which was lovely – there were lots of people there, and it was good to share the anticipation of the coming of the Christ Child with them. I was also able to belt out “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” too. I was sitting next to Angel, our young (7 years old) acolyte, and I whispered to her “This carol often makes me cry” – she spent the entire time inspecting me for any sign of tears, which made me laugh so much, I couldn’t cry. I just sang the carol in my loudest, most joyful voice.

Hail! the heav’n born Prince of peace!
Hail! the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Risen with healing in his wings
Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die:
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Arriving home at about 8.00 Mr FD had prepared a delicious soup that we had got the recipe for from Mons the cheese shop – La Soupe a la graisse de Noel

It is basically French Onion Soup, but with more bread and more cheese. It is yummy, and I think it may become a tradition on Christmas Eve.

We woke about 8.00 on Christmas Day.  We had our Christmas croissants, and then we sat and listened to the radio. Mr FD wanted to listen to a programme where Dr Brian Cox and Brian Eno were in conversation with the presenter. TBH, it was a bit too complicated for me, so I did some grown up colouring while the gentle voices burbled on in the background. I prefer zentangling, but my hands are feeling a bit too arthritic at the moment, so grown up colouring is an acceptable substitute.

We opened some of our presents:

  • “A Place Called Winter” by Patrick Gale
  • “Organic Family Hymnal” by Rend Collective (I had one, but gave it away, so it’s nice to have it replaced!)
  • A Harris Tweed pouch
  • The Brexit Cook Book
  • Flow “Book for Paper Lovers” – the blurb for this says:In the fifth edition of our renowned Book for Paper Lovers you’ll find no less than 300 pages of paper goodies, such as notepaper, stickers, wrapping paper, masking stickers, posters and much more. There’s even a pop-up art supplies store in there. Because we work together with illustrators from all over the world—from Taiwan to the UK, and from the US to Australia—we decided on a North East South West theme for this year’s issue. Feel free to rip it apart because that’s what it’s for: all those lovely paper goodies are there to be taken out and used.

It’s fabulous!

Then, because the weather was so lovely we went for a walk.

If you look very carefully between the pointy pine tree on its own, and the first lumpy bump you might just see Mont Blanc. We could see it quite clearly.



After that we went to our friends’ for champagne (bellinis) and lots of delicious nibbles. We WhatsApped a mutual friend, who is in the UK with her family, and spent a good 2 hours chatting and drinking and enjoying ourselves.

Then home again, for other presents:

  • a top
  • A beautiful Christmas decoration in glass
  • Some earrings
  • Chocolates

We listened to the radio again, and exchanged phone calls with various members of the family. Then Mr FD cooked our dinner – guinea fowl, and various trimmings – which was delicious, and then we relaxed with Doctor Who, and Maigret in Montmartre (recorded from just before Christmas)

Uneventful, quiet, but very enjoyable.

Then, the next day, a Boxing Day walk…But I’ll tell you about that another time!