Bits and bobs and 40 Acts (21 & 22)

Hello dear ones – thank you so much for your supportive and encouraging comments on my last post. They really helped me, and I appreciate the fact that you all took time to post a commernt. If you haven’t seen the comments from other people, I encourage you to go back & read them: they might help you too.


Yesterday I went for a short walk – a walk I’d probably do in 10 minutes took me about twice that time, and I felt quite breathless by the end of it. I will do the same today, straight after I’ve finished this post. I’m still sleeping more than normal – usually 10 – 11 hours a night, especially if I’ve taken an iboprofene. The “front door” is causing me some discomfort/pain when I lie on my side, I think because it’s getting squished up and pressed into the flesh, but that’s the side I feel most comfortable to sleep on. If I sleep on my back I get backache; if I sleep on my right side, my arthritic hip hurts! The iboprofene makes everything more comfortable, so I sleep better, but I don’t feel happy taking one every night!

Tonight we’re going to a birthday party – a 120th birthday party. But not for a very old person, but two 60 year olds! Of course, being French, it starts at 8 pm and is likely to go on until Lord-knows-when in the morning. It’s not considered a party in France if you’re not still awake when the cock crows! Thankfully, I have my illness as a perfect excuse to slip away at about 11.00 pm. “We would love to stay, but I’m afraid…” Mind you, the last big birthday party we went to they had only just served the main course at 11.00 pm, so we may not get the full meal!

Even though birthday cards aren’t really a French tradition, I have, of course, made one:


I hope they like it.

I don’t want to be too late to bed either, as I hope to make it to church tomorrow as well. A friend from church came over on Thursday, bringing me three hats she’d knitted for me – so, together with a lovely one that Michelle knitted, I am all set. Except my hair is showing no sign of falling out yet! I’ve got an appointment at a coiffeuse/wig shop on Tuesday too, but at the moment everything seems to be anchored to my scalp! Which might be a good thing aesthetically, but it makes me worry that the chemotherapy isn’t doing its job, as it should be killing off all the fast-growing cells, which include hair follicles and cancer cells. Oh well, I can always check up with the doctor on Thursday before my next session.

Onto 40 Acts:

ACT 21:: ACTION: Three weeks in – we’re halfway there! By now, generosity is probably sinking a little deeper into our lives. It’s a great time to put action behind our words. Think of moments when you’ve read or heard about something generous and thought, ‘That’s a nice idea,’ but never get around to doing it. Now’s the time. Only one act for today: What act have you put off over the last few weeks? What sounded like a good idea at the time, but you never got around to doing? Put it at the top of today’s to-do list.

Well, for me, the main act really is donating to Phone Credit for Refugees and Displaced Persons

This is a fantastic but tiny charity, started by one man, James. The website says: James came up with the idea while volunteering at the refugee camp in Calais known as The Jungle.  After talking regularly to people within the camp he realised that phone credit was a lifeline for many – and something he could help with from his home in Norfolk!

In the beginning, the process was very simple. James created a Facebook group, and added all his friends and some of the refugees he had met while volunteering. His goal was to have his close contacts provide phone credit to the handful of refugees he had come to know so well.

The group grew and grew, with his FB friends adding more friends, and they added more. Now over 64,000 members chip in when they can, donating £5, or more, to give credit to those who are desperate to contact their families left behind, or to contact aid agencies. This phone credit has saved the lives of vulnerable people, especially minors and women, so often targeted in camps.

Every Friday there is the Friday Conga, where everyone who can comments and donates (if possible), doing something important with FB algorithms that helps the group. I can’t always donate, I often forget to comment. But I’m going to make a concerted effort to start doing so. My Act 21 is to start saving 2€ coins, and when I have 10€ to make a donation. Can you afford to give a one-off donation to PC4R? This tells you how:


ACT 22: VALUED:: Today, a guaranteed way of making a difference. Talk up a service staff member. It’s such an easy chance to make a difference in someone’s day – but ask any service staff member, and you’ll hear how rarely it happens. Don’t let fear of insincerity put you off. A simple ‘You’re amazing, thank you for that!’ goes a long way when it’s well meant.  

I actually completed the Green task a couple of days ago, contacting the restaurant where we’d eaten on Saturday to compliment the waiter who had been very attentive to us. I certainly used to do this in the UK:  if I had received good service from a shop assistant I’d go to Customer Services, and say “I will complain if I receive bad service…” The face would fall “So equally I want to compliment good service…” The face would smile, and I would explain who had been helpful etc.

Sadly, France is not exactly the epitome of good customer service, with requests for help being met more often than not with a surly shrug. But I can still smile, and be polite and say Thank You to everyone who helps me, whether they do it with a smile or a shrug.

I hope everyone has a great weekend! Thank you for reading!!


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.

Just like buses…

I like a nice wedding, me – as long as I know people there, of course.

I went to my God-daughter’s wedding three years ago – it was a lovely occasion, but I was a bit nervous of knowing just the bride, her mother & father. I’m not great at meeting people for the first time and making small talk. Happily, there were two very old friends who I’d lost touch with, and we had a great time, catching up, talking and soon. But that had been mly first wedding for donkey’s years.

My niece, Rose, got married two summers ago, but that really was a quiet “do”. The whole family met for a meal the night before, then Rose, and David, my mum, my brother, and David’s parents went to the registry office, and we joined them for a cup of coffee afterwards. And that was it.

That was it for weddings – we’d not expected them really – young people very often don’t get married. My other niece, Ruth, has two children and has been living with Dave for several years, my nephew Kieran has two children and has been with his girlfriend for several years…So Mr FD and I were delighted to be invited to the wedding of my Godson’s brother and his girlfriend.

We are very close to Alison and Kit, my Godson’s parents, and it is always a pleasure to see them when we’re in the UK. The date of the wedding is 7th April, and I’m keeping my fingers very firmly crossed that treatment will be finished, and I’ll be allowed to travel.

Then, last week, I get a text from Ruth “Hey, guess what! We’re getting married! You’re invited! 7th April!”

WHAT?! The same date! When you’ve had all those years to decide to get married, and you choose the same bloody date as the wedding we’re already going to !?! Oh, for goodness’ sake!

We’re going to the wedding we accepted the invitation to first – of course – but we hope to be able to get up to see Ruth & David either before or after their wedding – but it is quite a long way from Abergevenny to Newcastle-on-Tyne!!

Zav, Isa’s wife-to-be, wanted to have 1,000 paper cranes at the wedding venue. There’s a link to one article about the significance; here’s a quotation from another, which says:

Traditionally in Japan, the bride’s father made the cranes and presented them to the bride on her wedding day. Today, the cranes can be made by the bride’s parents as a gift and well wish for the newlyweds. The bride alone or the couple together can also take on the task, learning patience, commitment and communication in the face of a long challenging task. Or, folding the cranes can be divided among many friends and family, and turned into social events and fun times spent together ahead of the wedding

I asked Alison recently how many they’d made “About 65” she said, despâiringly… I’m not sure they’re going to manage the desired 1,000, if I’m honest! So guess what I’ve zentangled as a wedding present!

Yes! A crane! I haven’t decided if it’s finished yet, or if I want to add some colour, or a background. What do you think?

So, for us, weddings seem to be like buses: none for ages then two come along together!! Let’s hope I’m able to go to either (or both!)

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!


3 Things – Christmas Version

Here’s a post shamelessly stolen from Confuzzledom who stole it from someone else…

3 Things I Love about Christmas

  • First and foremost, The “reason for the season” – the fact that we are celebrating the birth of God in human form, Emmanuel, God with us.
  • The presents – both the giving and the receiving. Yes, sometimes those gifts I receive show little knowledge about me, or are a tad disappointing…but equally I love trying to choose presents that I think people will like.
  • The food – here in France, things like mince pies are not easy to come by, so those traditional goodies are all the more special when we find them. Huzzah for Le Comptoir Irlandaise, selling boxes of mince pies and jars of mincemeat!

3 Things I Dislike about Christmas

  • There’s very little really, but I suppose the early-onset of Christmas in the shops is something I don’t like. It isn’t so bad here in France, but it is creeping in…Late November was when I saw my first “Shop for Christmas!” sign.
  • On a similar vein, the adverts on TV that encourage everyone to buy those “must-have” items – be they food, electronics, toys, sofas…whatever. And that brand you a failure if you don’t get them.
  • Features in magazines that give ideas for  “stocking fillers” that cost more than I’d dream of paying for a super-duper “main” present! I saw something in one feature that was branded a “stocking filler” and cost over £100! That’s practically my entire Christmas present budget!

3 Favourite Christmas Movies

  • Love Actually – it’s schmaltzy, and a bit over-sweet in places, and the creepy signs-outside-a-newly-married-woman-that-I-fancy scene makes me cringe. But…Alan Rickman! Emma Thompson! Alan Rickman (again!)! Hugh Grant dancing! Alan Rickman! It still makes me cry every time I see it.
  • Elf. Great fun, and fast becoming a tradition in our house
  • The Princess Bride. No, not a Christmas movie, but it needs to be included at every opportunity.

3 Favourite Christmas Treats

  • Mince pies (already mentioned)
  • Lindor balls.
  • Foie gras. Yes, I know it’s not at all ethical, and I shouldn’t enjoy it, or buy it. But I do. I love it! We don’t buy it very often, so it is a treat.

3 Favourite Christmas Traditions

I’m not sure these are “favourite” traditions, but they are traditions:

  • Decorating the house on the second Sunday of Advent. Usually, the same things go in the same place, although I do tweak things occasionally. We don’t have a Christmas Tree, because we can’t trust the Very Bad Cats not to climb it, but I bought a small wooden pine-coney tree this year which I have wrapped in tiny lights which is very acceptable.
  • Our “spread out” Christmas meal. We really only eat one meal on Christmas Day, which is timed thus:

10.30-ish: smoked salmon and champagne

13.00-ish: foie gras and an appropriate wine (Muscat is good)

17.00-ish: main course (this year it’s roti de pintard (guinea fowl), roast potatoes, spiced red cabbage & green beans

19.00 + cheese and dessert. Dessert can be Pannetone pudding, but this year is going to be mince pies and ice cream.

With this, one never feels full. Between courses there are walks, present opening, listening to music, reading, watching TV, preparing the next course, etc.

Actually this year we may be skipping the foie gras part as we’ve been invited to a friends for drinks. We’re taking peach juice and champagne, so we can have bellinis.

  • The Church Carol Service – a slightly informal Nine Lessons & Carols – which is always nice. Mr FD comes to this service as well, which pleases me.

3 Favourite Christmas Songs

This one’s a bit tricky, as there are new ones being added, but if we are on secular songs I think I have to go for…

3 Favourite Christmas Carols

Confuzzledom didn’t include in her list, but this is an important one for me:

  • It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
  • Hark, the Herald Angels Sing – which I didn’t use to like, but after reading the words carefully, and thinking about them suddenly became one of my favourite carols ever!
  • O Come, O Come Emmanuel – which is strictly speaking, an Advent song, but which speaks so eloquently of the world yearning for its saviour.

3 Favourite Christmas Gifts Received

I’m not really sure – I have been lucky enough to receive some beautiful things. Mr FD is great at choosing just the right piece of jewellery – be it earrings, bangles, Pandora beads. When we lived in Milton Keynes there was a jeweller who came to the Christmas Market every year, and Mr FD would choose something from his stand for me! Now, he will often buy me a Pandora bead.

I don’t think I can choose to be honest.

Let’s just say the gift of salvation through the Nativity. That’s fairly good (!!)

3  FOUR Gifts I Want to Give the World

  • Stealing Confuzzledom’s first answer: Empathy. I’m stealing Jana’s answer again, but it’s a good one. If people would just consider other people’s feelings occasionally the world would be a much better place!
  • Stealing Confuzzledom’s second answer: An end to climate change… or at least to slow it down to how it would have been if humans hadn’t come along to destroy the planet. I would like there to actually be a planet by the time my (future) children and grandchildren grow up! – except I don’t have children, but I have nephews, nieces, great-nephews and great-nieces, Godchildren…so it’s just as important
  • Stealing Confuzzledom’s third answer: Laughter. Bad things are always going to happen… and without sorrow we wouldn’t be able to truly appreciate happiness. But I would love to give everybody out there at least one reason to laugh or smile even when things are at their very worst.
  • But, most of all, Peace. Peace in the world, peace in communities, peace in family relationships, peace in one’s heart. Peace brought through the Prince of Peace, who came to call us to take his easy yoke and rest in Him.


And so,with that in mind…

Budapest Jollies 3: Tuesday

The weather had taken a turn for the worst – it was cold, dreek, and distinctly rainy. So we had a leisurely breakfast and took the tram down to the Market Hall, designed by Eiffel (of the Tower fame) We thought this would be a quick in-and-out, but oh no! Not for us inveterate browsers!

On the ground floor there were lots of fruit, meat, fish stalls, as one would expect in a market, but there was one alley of Paprika stalls, paprika being a Hungarian “thing”. We strolled up, noting that the prices became slightly cheaper the further you got from the entrance (though only by a few HUFs – about50 cents in euros). We chose what we’d be buying…at a later date. Then we went upstairs, where there were stall upon stall of Hungarian hand embroidered tablecloths, table runners, table mats…and pashminas, and scarves, and jewellery…Oh, look! Leather handbags! We spent the whole morning there, enjoying the bustle and the people.


We had lunch from one of the stalls – it was okay, but not great. I chose a stuffed aubergine, which was only lukish-warm when we received it. I thought about complaining but didn’t bother and it was only when I was halfway through that I thought about how important it is to reheat rice (with which the aubergine was stuffed) to piping heat. Too late now, I thought. Thankfully, there were no ill effects.

After, we walked across to the Buda side of the river to the Cave Church. It was an interesting place to visit, with a comprehensive audio guide. It was very peaceful, and good to sit where Christians had worshipped for hundreds of years – or so I thought! But again, this was a reasonably recent church build – although, to be fair, the caves themselves are a much older feature!

This is a statue of St Stephen, outside the cave church.

After this we went to the Gelert baths. Budapest is a spa town, with several public baths, many of which are quite opulent. Gelert baths are one of the most well-known, and were certainly the handiest. Reviews that we had read were mixed, but we decided to go here because of its convenient location.

The entrance hall was certainly very impressive (although my photos, sadly, are not!)


but when we (finally) found our way to the changing room, and then (even more finally) to the pool we were a little disappointed.

It was certainly more pleasant than the Municipal swimming pool in Crosby where we used to go as schoolgirls, but not quite as “art nouveau-ish” as we’d expected. Still, we swam in the big pool, and lolled in the 35° pool, then decided to brave the damp weather to go to the outside pool. It was a nasty trot through the drizzle  (bare feet!) but the pool was deliciously steamy, and we got chatting to a very pleasant Scottish lady who obviously loves Budapest and gave us some hints and tips. After about an hour, getting more wrinkled by the minute, we scampered back through the gloom to try to find the steam room. This we did, and there we found a little of what we’d been hoping for, in the slightly grubby, down-at-heel thermal pools

With further lolling in warm water (40°) we decided we’d had enough, and got out. We took the tram back to the flat and relaxed with a glass of wine and a chat. Then we ventured out to the Yiddish Italian restaurant that had been recommended to us. It was very good.

I chose a Jewish egg paté – basically chopped up hard boiled egg, with parsley. Pleasant enough. I took a photo but it was terrible. This article, that I discovered while looking for a photo, is quite interesting on the subject of the Jewish Egg paté. Next I chose goose leg, with spiced red cabbage and mashed potato.

It was delicious. Really yummy. And then we had traditional Jewish poppyseed cake, Flodni:

With a good bottle of Hungarian red shared between us, we felt very well fed! A short stroll home and some decision making about the following day: the stained glass museum that I’d hoped to visit was closed for filming, so we couldn’t go there, so we considered other possibilities.

Which you will hear about another time!


Budapest Jollies Part 1

Hello everyone!

Having told you about the “spiritual” side of my time in Budapest, I thought I’d share some of my not-so-spiritual time!

I arrived on the Thursday, the day before the retreat was due to start. There was another lady, Edith, who was in the same situation as me, so we arranged to meet at the airport, to share a taxi to the Retreat House. When I found her however, she’d already spoken to someone and had the route by public transport all worked out! By myself I don’t think I’d’ve been brave enough but with Edith we were intrepid! There was some moments of panic and tension when we weren’t sure (a) where to get off the bus and (b) if indeed the bus was travelling in the right direction but that got sorted by a helpful young woman with a GPS and good English!

The following day I wanted to just wander around Budapest, while Edith wanted to climb Castle Hill and various other high points – she is a lot fitter than I, so we travelled in on the bus together (we knew what we were doing this time!) and then split up. I wandered aimlessly but enjoyably around the Jewish Quarter, admiring the Grand Synagogue from the outisde, but not wanting to really “visit” anywhere, as I knew I’d be meeting up with my friend after the retreat.

I took photos of things that I thought might inspire some Zentangle patterns:

I thought the pattern at the top of the door rather interesting

This window on the Jewish Archive centre was also interesting

and I really liked this pattern around a window.

And I was right: they did inspire a piece of Zentangle art:

Not the best photo, but I think you can see how some of the patterns have been incorporated into the design.

I particularly admired one building, with a huge angelic figure outside it:

I can’t help wondering what the flats in these kind of buildings are like – shabbily chic? Bang up-to-date? Who knows…,

I paused for lunch, choosing a place that advertised Craft beer, and had Hungarian sausage, coleslaw and sweet potato chips, plus a beer.

As I was getting tired I decided to make my way back to the Retreat House, and spend some time reading & zentangling. Then the other participants arrived, and we started the Retreat.

On the Sunday, there were four of us who were staying longer, so we shared a taxi into the centre of the city, where Lee, Laurie and Paula had their hotel. I had the address of the airbnb which Jane & I had booked, but other than that had no idea where it was in relation to the hotel. I was more than willing to catch buses etc, although happily,  when we arrived at the hotel Lee’s GPS proved that the flat was just about 10 minutes walk away. So off I went, trundling my suitcase behind me, and finally found the address – amazingly, in the block that I admired on Thursday!!

Jane had already arrived, so we spent time catching up, which was lovely. We are lucky enough to have one of those friendships where you can just pick up as though you saw each other last week. But after an hour or so’s chatting we decided to go exploring.

We wandered – finding a small Christmas market (about 10 stalls) and really, really hoping that that wasn’t it. We did, however, have mulled wine and chimney cake:

Both of which were delicious

We wandered around and visited St Stephen’s basilica, rather lovely in the late evening gloaming – lots of candlelight glinting from the gold decoration within. Very hushed, with some meandering organmusic being played. It was a delight to sit in the beauty, with my good friend, who has been a Christian for as long as I have, in a place where Christians hgave worshipped for, oh hundreds of years (or so I thought. Eventually discovering that in fact the Basilica was relatively modern, being finished in 1905!)

We strolled around various souvenir and craft shops, already planning our future purchases – what fun to be with someone who enjoys browsing! Mr FD hates it, but in fact Jane & I did a lot of browsing together!!

We decided to eat in a Hungarian restaurant, and had Goulash soup, followed by chicken paprikash, and then pancakes. I meant to take photos, but forgot! A stroll back to the flat, via a small supermarket, to buy coffee, tea, cereal, milk and orange juice for breakfast,and wine, not for breakfast, and we spent the evening relaxing, chatting and planning the next day’s adventures. We were also very happy to discover that the Miserable Christmas Market that we discovered was only an offshoot from the main Christmas Market , located in another square. Tomorrow was planned!!

And you’ll hear about it in another post.

If you’ve got this far, you may be wondering about the Big & Scary news – well, I’ve been biopsied (once) and I have been told that I have a pre-cancerous nodule in my breast. Everyone is very keen to tell me that there’s nothing to worry about, and that, more-than-likely, it can be dealt with through surgery, and possibly radiotherapy. I have an appointment to see a highly-regarded breast specialist on Monday, and we will know more about timescales then. I will also have a more invasive biopsy to make sure.

Strangely, I have not been scared, or even really worried; “mildly concerned” might cover it. I have felt surrounded by love, concern and prayers, and God has never felt closer. All this year, I have believed that there was something big that God was going to ask of me, and I knew that the Retreat was going to play an important part in helping me deal with it. When I was asked to serve on the Transition Committee (involved in the search for a new Bishop for the Convocation) I thought that might be the Thing. However, more and more, I think that this health problem is the Thing. And the peace and renewal of an understanding of God’s love for me that was the main focus of the Retreat (for me) has really upheld me through these past weeks of uncertainty, and will continue to surround me through whatever is to come.

As I said in my last post, our mantra is “It is what it is (and we now know what it is), it will be what it will be, and we will get through it together”. Please, should you be of a praying ilk, would you continue to pray.