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.


Back to the land of the living!

Hola, mes amis! (there’s a mix of languages!)

Here I am, generally feeling OK. And so I thought I should sign in to let you know how things are going. I’ll do an update on 40 Acts another time; today is just me. (How< self centred!!)

So on Tuesday I went to see a magnetiseur – the nearest translation I could find was hypnotherapist. But he didn’t really hypnotise me. He placed his hand on my stomach, my intestines, my throat: the idea being that these are the areas that would be worse affected by chemo, with nausea, stomach upsets etc. He then asked which side my “front door” was being fitted. I didn’t know but assumed it was the opposite side to the scars (I was in fact wrong) and he “drew” shapes on my upper chest with his fingers and blew on me. Bizarre. Well, I don’t know if what he did had any effect, but I have suffered from hardly any side effects. The “front door” has been a bit of a nuisance, as it is uncomfortable in bed, so maybe it would have been better if he’d blown on that side!!

Wednesday was the fitting of the “front door” (this is the permanent chamber fitted so that the chemo can be easily pumped into my blood stream) My appointment was at 7.00 so we had to get up at 5.30 (Yawn) Mr FD came with me, then, when I was being operated on, went & did the shopping. It was done under local so there was no waiting around afterwards and I was home by lunchtime. I dozed in the afternoon, mostly because I’d been up so early!!

On Thursday it was C-day. The day for my first chemo. I’d slept reasonably well the night before, & the taxi-ambulance picked me up at 8.00.There was a nerve wracking wait, as Dr Vincent (chemotherapist) was behind. But once he’d checked my ECG, my blood test and everything else I was cleared for commencement. Everybody – nurses, ancillary staff, other patients – were lovely and the day went quite quickly. I had a lunch of salad and meat, and chatted to a lovely lady who is an English/French/maths teacher called Charlotte. I was given a “soins des mains” – not exactly a manicure, but a gentle hand massage and dead skin removal. Mr FD popped in and we had a cup of tea together before he went for his interview…then at 4.00 my ambulance-taxi took me home. Whereupon I was like a zombie!!

I should have gone straight to bed, but I stayed up, lolling and sleeping on the sofa. Next time will be different! Then on Friday & Saturday I stayed in bed all day, mostly sleeping and listening to the radio, because my eyes didn’t want to be open! Mr FD looked after me beautifully, with just enough tempting morsels for me to eat. I felt no nausea, very slight stomach pains and that’s all! I got up on Saturday evening for a while. My biggest problem has been a bad back from staying in bed too long!!

Sunday I was out of bed and awake for most of the day – just lolling in a chair, listening to music, flicking through a magazine, watching TV – and then yesterday I got dressed too! We went across the road to see friends for about an hour – I wore a mask and gloves to avoid infection, especially as Monique has a cold. I’m still snoozing in the afternoon & actually, today, (at 11.10 CET) I feel very sleepy. But generally, this session of chemo has only affected me with tiredness. I know that others may be different, but I thank God (and the Magnetiseur!) for the relative ease of this. Mr FD has been a real star, keeping everywhere clean, clearing up after cats, encouraging me to eat, helping me do stuff I can’t manage alone.

The good news is that both my oncoloist and mt chemotherapist were perfectly positive about me going to Manchester next weekend AS LONG AS I take sensible precautions

  • wear a mask in crowds at all times
  • take my temperature regularly & if I have a fever go to A&E immediately (hmmm, with the NHS in crisis that could be tricky)
  • do not kiss or shake hands with anyone
  • wear gloves at all times
  • keep scrupulously clean – wash hands regularly (even when wearing gloves)
  • rest, rest, rest
  • listen to what my body is saying & don’t push it.

SO, hopefully, I will be going to the UK after all! Mr FD has booked us into the nearest carpark to the airport terminal, has investigated wheelchairs at the airport (as budget airlines are always furthest away!), reserveda car, and booked a hotel room less than a kilometre from the venue for Elbow. Fingers crossed that I can manage…and that I will be sensible enough to say “I can’t manage” if that is indeed the case.

Thank you to everyone for their prayers, good wishes, comments and gifts. They have been truly appreciated.

2018 40 Acts :: 6 :: Chocolate Tuesday

Hello dear ones.

I hope all is well in your world. We had a lovely meal out with Louis and Odette yesterday: I’m rather lucky, as Mr FD does quite a lot of sorting-out-of-other-peoples’-computers, and sometimes, instead of paying him in cash, they reimburse in kind, as it were. So last night Louis & Odette took us out, Traudel -who co-owns a restaurant with her Michelin starred husband – owes us a meal, the hotel round the corner also says that we can have a meal there…Thank you Mr FD!

So, last night I had feuilleté des escargots (snails in a lovely buttery sauce, in puff pastry), followed by magret de canard au miel et figues (duck breast with honey and figs). Then I had fromage frais, instead of ordinary cheese, then finally pannacotta with a raspberry coulis. Very delicious, and lovely to be out with good friends.

And now, it’s Chocolate Tuesday on 40 Acts.

Lots of people in the 40 Acts community seem to love “Chocolate Tuesday”, but I’ve never really taken to it. Maybe because I’d be a bit suspicious if I discovered random chocolate bars left on trains or park benches…There’s also the language barrier, trying to explain what I’m doing. Michelle left a comment saying: I’ve gotten the impression in reading about your 40 Acts over the years that the French are befuddled by “random acts of kindness.” Is a correction assumption? Is it totally absent from their culture or thinking?

To be honest, I don’t know! It could simply be that I am very poor at explaining what I’m doing, or why I’m doing it; also, I’m very shy about approaching strangers anyway, which makes it harder. Certainly when I look up gestes de bonté spontanés on Google,there’s nothing dated later than 2015 so maybe this isn’t a “thing” in France.


Giving away chocolate. Maybe it sounds a bit less radical than the last few days. But small, overlooked acts of generosity achieve big things. Today, take a bunch of chocolate bars with you wherever you go – five, ten, or twenty – and fling them, carefree, to anyone you come across.

Green, Amber, Red: You know the drill. Chocolate everywhere.

I have to go to the chemist today, to fetch my drugs for after chemo, so I will take them some chocolate. And I’m going to make some healthy meusli bars for me & Mr FD, full of dried fruit and seeds. I’ll make a few extra, and take them to the Hypnotherapist man this afternoon. A sort of thank you, as I get the feeling it was a bit inconvenient fitting me in today. Whether I’ll be able to explain why this strange Englishwoman is bringing him meusli bars I don’t know.

So, here in St Just, it’s not Chocolate Tuesday. It’s

Healthy Meusli Bar Tuesday!

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

You are my sunshine…

Ooh, look at me! I’ve been nominated for a “Sunshine Blogger” award, by Chomeuse with a Chou

Why, Thank you, Chomeuse!

The Sunshine Blogger award is given by bloggers to bloggers who inspire positivety and creativity in the blogging community.


1. Thank the blogger who nominated you in your blog post and link back to the blog.

2. Answer 11 questions that the Blogger asked you.

3. Nominate 11 new bloggers to receive the awards and write them 11 questions.

4. List the rules and display the Sunshine blogger award logo in your post on your blog.

So, I’ve thanked Chomeuse, and I have linked to her blog. I have listed the rules and displayed the logo. Here are Chomeuse’s 11 questions and my (not very interesting) answers

  1. Why did you start your blog? I can’t really remember! It was way back in 2009, and I think I decided that I needed to try and use technology a bit more. I enjoy writing, so a blog seemed like a good idea. I had another one called Fat Dormouse Getting Thinner  where for quite some time I wrote my weekly menu plans andtried to be accountable for weight loss. It didn’t work.
  2. What are your favourite things to do (when you aren’t blogging, of course)? I enjoy reading, and zentangling too                        

We live in a beautiful part of the world, so while I don’t walk far or fast, I do enjoy a stroll. Drinking wine and eating with friends coimes high on the agenda too. And I’m lucky enough to love my work as an EFL teacher.

  1. If you could only visit one place, where would you go? I really don’t know! I suppose I should say the UK, as my family and friends are there!
  2. Do you have a favourite post from your blog? No, not really. Certain ones are poignant, remembering friends/cats who have died, others remind me of holidays, but none are a “favourite” really.
  3. What is your favourite book? (If it is far too difficult to choose, who is your favourite author?) Even choosing a favourite author is too hard! Among my favouritte authors are Philippa Gregory, Patrick Gale, Elizabeth George, Peter Robinson.
  4. What are your goals for your blog? Er…I don’t really have any! I’m a teeny bit envious of those bloggers who are sent things to review (freebies!), but I think what I enjoy most is making contact with people from across the world. So many people have been so genereous recently, over my cancer, that I have felt a little humbled. I’d love to meet some of these people some time!
  5. Which three possessions would you grab in the event of fire? I refuse to answer that because we have 4 cats. Therefore one of them will get rather anxious about being the one left behind!
  6. Do you live in the town or country where you were born? Neither the town (Liverpool) nor the country!
  7. Do you have any unusual phobias? I’m not sure it’s a phobia, per se, but grubby little scraps of paper make me retch, and I struggle to peel off the residue that stickers have left behind. I’m not afraid of them. They just make me feel queasy.
  8. Do you speak another language? Well, I can get by in French, but I don’t speak it well.
  9. If you could chat to any person in history (real or literary) who would you choose? I was going to say Jesus, but actually I suspect he might make me feel a bit uncomfortable, and ask some awkward questions! I’d like to speak to Judas Iscariot – I have never seen him as the “bad guy” and would really like to discuss his reasons for betraying Christ. I suspect that, for him, there was a good reason for doing it…Maybe he didn’t see it as betrayal, maybe he didn’t mean it to end how it did. Maybe he was as shocked as everyone else…But I don’t doubt that he will be in Heaven!

Somehow the numbering system went wrong, but honestly, I’ve answered all 11 questions.

Thinking of 11 other questions is hard, but I’ll give it a go:

  1. What is your most embarrassing/long abiding memory from childhood?
  2. What was the name of your first pet? What animal was it? Was there a reason for calling it that? (does that count as 3 questions?!)
  3. What did you detest at school?
  4. Who was your major “crush” when younger? (Or maybe now!)
  5. Is there a food that you hated when younger, but like now? Do you have a recipe to share?
  6. If you had to give up either your computer or your TV which would it be? Why?
  7. Share a favourite song/ band with us. (OK, so it’s not a question, but still…)
  8. Where did you spend a memorable holiday? Why was it so memorable?
  9. Where would you like to live, if it could be anywhere in the world?
  10. Do you enjoy poetry? Why/why not? Can you share a favourite poem with us?
  11. Do you have a quotation that you find particularly inspiring? Can you share it?

As for naming 11 other bloggers, that’s even harder, as several that I read don’t take part in things like this. However, here is a list of 11 blogs I enjoy reading, and maybe they’ll join in. If they don’t, I encourage you to visit them anyway, as they are a goo

  1. Ariel at “A Blog of Hours”
  2. Bob & Sophie at “Bob & Sophie’s French Adventure
  3. Amanda at “Chez le Reve Français
  4. All the cats and woofies at “Daily Feline Wisdom
  5. Kezzie at “KezzieAG
  6. Notes from A Broad” – I know this lady’s name, but I just can’t remember it!!
  7. Pompom at “PomPom’s Ponderings
  8. Fishcake Random at “The Frugal Handmade Home
  9. Ang at “Tracing Rainbows
  10. Michelle at “Boulderneigh
  11. Ilona at “Life After Money
  12. And a bonus one: Lou over at “The New Mrs M

These are not the only blogs I enjoy, but some have been nominated by Chomeuse already, and I had to choose just 11. These are a mix of content and so some might appeal more than others, but I urge you to visit any that are unfamiliar to you, so you can see if you like them too!

Of course, if you are reading this and would like to try answering my questions anyway, then please go ahead and do so! Please leave a comment though so I can visit you and read your answers!

Book Review: A Year of Marvellous Ways *****

This wasn’t sent free by Netgalley. I paid for this one on Amazon.

I’d read good reviews of this book, so decided to buy it. I’m very glad I did.

The blurb on Amazon reads: Marvellous Ways is eighty-nine years old and has lived alone in a remote Cornish creek for nearly all her life. Lately she’s taken to spending her days sitting on a mooring stone by the river with a telescope. She’s waiting for something – she’s not sure what, but she’ll know it when she sees it. Drake is a young soldier left reeling by the Second World War. When his promise to fulfil a dying man’s last wish sees him wash up in Marvellous’ creek, broken in body and spirit, the old woman comes to his aid. A Year of Marvellous Ways is a glorious, life-affirming story about the magic in everyday life and the pull of the sea, the healing powers of storytelling and sloe gin, love and death and how we carry on when grief comes snapping at our heels.

I think as a summary of the book, it’s good. What it doesn’t give you is any idea of the  poetry of the writing. It is truly beautiful. Every other page I would pause to roll a phrase, a sentence, sometimes a whole paragraph round in my mouth, saying the words aloud for the sheer pleasure of hearing them. Perhaps I noticed this because I was reading this straight after the rather pedestrian writing of “The Phantom’s Apprentice” but I loved this book for the author’s skill at manipulating language. Perhaps it was slightly too whimsical/ magical from time to time, but this didn’t detract from the beauty of the writing.

One thing I found a little difficult was the lack of speech marks, which meant that, at times, I wasn’t sure who was speaking, or if it was narrative, rather than dialogue. However, after a while, I became more accustomed to the style.

I would definitely recommend this book, giving it a solid five stars. *****

2018 40 Acts :: 4 :: After You

Hello Dear Ones

I hope all is well with you. I am coming to terms with the fact that I won’t be going to the UK – thank you for your sympathetic messages – but I haven’t quite come to terms with everything else around my treatment yet. This morning I went to the chemist to collect all the drugs. It is a carrier bag full! I’m going to spend some time today putting them in bags, and labelling each bag, in different colours. These are for nausea, these are for mouth ulcers…etc etc. I think by doing this, I’m taking charge, and not letting everything overwhelm me. But it is still a bit scary…


Yesterday’s challenge changed its form – I had considered leaving some euros at the coffee shop counter at the hospital, but I was worried about how to explain in French what I was doing. So finally, as I had to stop off to buy cat litter on the way to the hospital, I picked up two boxes of reduced stock chocolates, at a bargain price. I gave one to the woman at the admissions desk. In France, before going to one’s appointment, you have to go through the admissions process, where they check your details and give you any papers that you need. There are about 6 counters, and they process you fairly quickly, but I imagine it’s not a very exciting job. So when I was explaining to the young woman who was dealing with me what I was doing “Um…c’est pour Careme…Vous connaissez Careme?…J’essaie de faire des actions…um…de gentillesse…Um…Ici…j’ai acheté des chocolats pour vous et vos collegues…pour partager…Um…” She was a bit taken aback, but pleased nonetheless, as was her colleague who quickly wheeled her chair out of her cubicle to see what was going on (obviously needed a chocolate fix!)

After my ECG (they found I had a heart!) I dropped the other box off at the Receptionist desk – this is where people go if they have questions about where to go, and there’s usually a couple of elderly-ish volunteers hanging around to take you to the right department – The woman there was also rather touched too. In fact there was a moment or two’s open-mouthed staring before she said thank you.

I also continued my programme of leaving Ninja notes in various places – so the Cardio dept waiting room and toilet got hit, as did the lift, and another toilet area. They’ll know who’s doing this by tracking the appointments – Who was in cardio today, but in the oncology department yesterday?!

So, on to today.

Putting ourselves first comes incredibly easy to our culture – just think about a group of strangers jostling to get on a train. Today, we’re taking a firm 180 on that me-first tendency, and finding a couple of practical ways to put others first. Expect surprising results.

GREEN: Whether you live in a bustling city or somewhere more low-key, take the time to say ‘Good morning!’ to people you meet today, letting them go first through the door, or in the queue.

AMBER: At home or work, do someone’s chores before they do. Put them first by getting there first.

RED: Are you in a situation where your desires clash with someone else’s? Prioritise their wishes above your wishes, even (especially!) if they aren’t in line with yours. Budge on the stubbornness. Make the sacrifice.

You can read the full meditation (which I really liked) here

Well, here in France a cheery “Bonjour messiuers-dames” when you go in a shop is almost obligatory, but I did my best, on this dreary wet morning, to be extra jovial in the boulangerie today. Green challenge “Tick. V.G.”

But the Amber challenge made me squirm a little. You see, I have been rather milking this cancer business. I know that I can’t do lifting with my right arm – so ironing, lifting shopping, moving cat litter trays are all things I can’t do, and have to leave to Mr FD, who has done all these things without complaint. I know that once chemo starts, and my immune system is shot, I certainly can’t be touching cat litter, or doing dirty jobs. I know that when I’m feeling fatigued there’ll be lots I can’t do.

But at the moment…well, I have rather been leaving jobs that I could do, knowing that Mr FD is being so good with doing stuff around the house, and thinking “Well, I’m sure he will do them eventually…” Cleaning the bathroom being one of those jobs. No heavy lifting required, my immune system is fine: there’s actually no reason why I shouldn’t do it. So today, I will heave on my Big Girl Pants and clean the bathroom so that Mr FD doesn’t have to do it.

As for the Red challenge – well, I think that one needs to be an on-going one. There’s nothing really at the moment that springs to mind, but it may be that God is storing this one up for me. As he does.