I was right!

Yesterday I told you that we were going to a birthday party, and wrote: “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!”

We arrived just after 8.00 and were one of the first there. We greeted our friends and then stood round like a couple of lemons – both Mr FD & I are introverts and useless at starting conversations. We drank either beer (Mr FD) or a wine-based cocktail (me). Lots of platters of pastry based snacks were being passed round, so we ate quite a lot of those, and we chatted together. Finally I was getting tired, so we sat at our table, until an English friend arrived and joined us. She knew another couple (Franco-Hungarian) and so we chatted to them too. Then Jean-Luc (the Birthday boy) and his band played a few numbers. Finally at about 10.00 the first course appeared – oysters! One of the few things I really don’t like (to me they are like eating snot in sea-water) and also raw shellfish really isn’t a good idea for someone with a dodgy immune system. I had a piece of bread and butter.

Then Jean-Luc and his band played a few more numbers…and the fish course arrived – marinaded salmon and green salad. It was really like raw fish, but cured in its marinade. I wasn’t totally sure about eating it, but I was getting a tad hungry. It was actually very nice, and I have suffered no ill effects. But I was getting really tired.

At 11.15, with no sign of the meat course, I had to throw in the towel. I was falling asleep in my seat. So, despite Mr FD urging me to see if I could stay for a while longer (I think he was still hungry too!) I had to insist we went home. If we were going by the rhythm of the rest of the evening, it would have been meat at 11.30 (at the earliest), cheese at midnight (or later!), dessert at about 00.45, champagne and cake at 01.30 and dancing until whenever.

Of course, when I was in bed, despite being so tired, I couldn’t get to sleep for ages, and Mr FD woke in the middle of the night with terrible acid indigestion from too much beer with not enough food!

It was lovely to be invited, it was great to catch up with our friend who we haven’t seen for ages, and to celebrate Jean-Luc & Traudel’s birthdays…However, I do wish French parties didn’t go on so long into the night!! I can’t manage them, even when I’m fit and healthy (although I might have held out until the end of the main course!)


New neighbours

Hello, Dear Ones! I hope all is well with you.

Yesterday I had a bit of a lazy day and a bit of a rushing about day.

I had two blood tests to have done: one at home, Friend Claire, who is our local nurse, came to do the first. We knew that she was arriving quite early, so I was up at 7.00. Then, almost as soon as she had done that, it was off to Roanne, to the hospital, for the second. I was going to go by myself, but as we’d had lots of snow, and the roads hadn’t been cleared (unusually), and I haven’t driven for over a month, Mr FD decided he would come with me and drive. I’m glad he did. The drive was okay, but he’s better than I in the snow.

We got back just before 11.00, and I got a phone call to say that my “front door” (as we’ve taken to calling the box for the Hickman line that’s going to feed the chemo into my body) won’t be fitted until 21st Feb. This is cutting it fine for having chemo before the Elbow concert (leaving here on 2nd March) – we shall see what appointment they give me for the first chemo session, but if it’s the week of the concert we may ask for it to be deferred.

This was the rushing about part of the day.

We then lazed around for an hour-and-a-half, until our friends arrived and we went next door to the Hotel de Londres

(that’s our house, to the left)

We haven’t been here for many a long year, as the previous owner was a bit of a plonker. (That’s the polite word) I won’t go into details, but suffice it to say none of the English in the surrounding area go there, and lots of the locals eschew the place too. He has sold it now, and yesterday was the opening “under new management”. The new management are a reasonably young couple who had been struggling in a restaurant some kilometres from here, where our friends used to go from time to time. As the couple had moved here, our friends wanted to come and support them, so we joined them. Any excuse to go out for a meal!

Gratifyingly, the restaurant was quite full of people, many locals (including the owner of the restaurant round the corner – sussing out the opposition, I imagine!), and the 13,50€ Menu du Jour was good value.

ENTREE: choice between a huge Salade Niçoise or 2 slices of paté en croute + salad

MAIN: choice between langue du boeuf ( beef tongue – shudders theatrically) or marinaded pork, plus pasta & sauce

CHEESE: fromage blanc, or fromage sec. The cheese course  (fromage sec) was three smallish pieces of cheese, but Mr FD said they were all nice. I had fromage blanc.

PUDDING: choice between pannacotta, tiramisu speculoos, chocolate pot, crème brulée.

The portions were enormous – perhaps they could cut down on the sizes a little – and I was able to take quite a few leftovers from our party for the Poor Cats.

After that meal, you can imagine that we spent the rest of the afternoon quietly dozing on the sofa. I was joined by a couple of cats, and I browsed some magazines Mij had brought me, and slept.

Today has been a bit (bit ) more energetic. A later get-up time, but then I did my 15 minute mile walking indoors. I then entered a few more competitions (all these holidays I’m going to win!!) and read a few blogs. A tad of admin left over from before Christmas…then help Mr FD unload the shopping. Thanks for doing it, Mr FD.

Then, I finally made myself get round to sorting out the top drawer of my filing cabinet – I’d done the bottom two with teaching resources, but the top one, for other paperwork, had just had stuff dumped in it. I needed to find some information, so I knew I had to tackle it…I’d been putting it off for weeks

So, I put 2 hours on my phone, & told myself I’d keep going until the timer went off…actually I finished (mostly) before the timer went off, which was very pleasing. I feel extremely virtuous now. I am going to try not to use my computer (except for inspiration/instruction) during the afternoon, but rather do craft/ reading etc. Says she, happily using her computer!! I will finish this, and then turn it off! Except I have to make a birthday card for my MiL, so it will be on for inspiration!!!

I’d better go and get on with it!

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!

Healthy-ish Eating

Another week starts – we had a good time yesterday. Mr FD came to church (“designated driver”) with me and then we went to Friend Alison’s for lunch. We took a bottle of champagne that we’d bought for Christmas, but hadn’t drunk…

So we started with champagne, and nibbles. Then we had a roast dinner – pork, roast potatoes, courgette gratin and carrots. Lovely! We don’t often have a roast dinner, and if we do, it’s usually a chicken, so this was a treat. Then Galette des Rois (still January! It’s allowed!) and coffee and macarons, that we had brought from a shop in Clermont. A relaxed afternoon chatting, while Mr FD helped Flynn with his new computer. I fed the Poor Cats, and then we relaxed watching TV.

Our healthy-ish meals this week look like this:


MON Toast, low fat cream cheese
TUE Oatmeal supreme
WED Oatmeal Supreme
THU Porridge,honey,raspberries
FRI  2 toast peanut butter+ banana
SAT boiled egg + 1 toast + apple
SUN Porridge,honey,raspberries

I’ve stopped pretending I’m ever going to try Bircher meusli. It doesn’t sound appealing to me!


Wraps with cheese & mushrooms/Soup
 Tomato soup + bagel + cream cheese
Soup + ham sandwich
Smoked salmon/light cm ch bagel
Mushroom omelette
Tabbouleh & ham
Smoked salmon/scrambled eggs

I’ve used a courgette soup from the freezer, and mixed it with some chilli, tomato passata and cooked red lentils. Hopefully it wil be edible. I seem to remember the courgette soup was a bit bland, so I hope the additions will perk it up.


I’ve taken the IKEA Christmas ham out of the freezer to defrost today, so dinners & lunches this week will be mostly ham based. I’ll bake it tomorrow with a marmalade glaze.

Fish pie
Ham, baked sweet potatoes
Pasta puttanesca + grated courgette farmers salad
Harvest bowl + cubed ham none
Stir fry with Harvest bowl ingredients + extra veggies none
Aubergine layer + extra veggies green salad
Yesterday’s aub zuzzed + pasta

The “Harvest Bowl” is this recipe but instead of chicken, I’m using ham! There’s a surprise! And probably chicory instead of kale. I’m not a great sprouts fan, but I’ll try them in this.

I was visited last week by Friend Debbi from church who brought an enormous Shepherd’s Pie – it fed us for 2 days! – and some delicious “healthy” flapjack. They were from this recipe on the BBC Good Food site. If you like flapjack – the syrupy buttery type – it’s probably best to name them “Fruity Oaty Slices” or something, so you’re not too disappointed! They are delicious though!



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!)

A bit of creativity

Hello Dear Ones. I hope everyone is in good health.

I’m still improving, and will be going for tea with friends in a little while. Which is good. It will be a slow walk to their house, but it will do me good to get out.

I thought I would share with you something I made before Christmas – a friend asked me to calligraph something for her 4 grandchildren. I was quite pleased with the results:

I really do need to improve my photography skills! Still, I hope you can see them well enough. I was quite pleased with them.


Another bit of creativity was some soup that I made today – I was up to chopping the veg with my right hand, but the pan-lifting had to be done with my left (scar on the right breast) It was very nice

  • 1kg leeks, finely chopped in a food processor
  • 1kg sweet potato, peeled and finely chopped in a food processor
  • 50g butter
  • 1tbsp Light and mild olive oil
  • 2tsp ground turmeric
  • 1tsp each of ground clove, coriander, cumin, mild chilli and cardamom
  • Generous sprinkling of ground sea salt and black pepper
  • 11/2 pints Vegetable stock
  • 300ml single cream
  • 50g fresh coriander leaf, finely chopped, leaving a few whole leaves for garnish


  • Gently sweat the shredded leek in the butter and olive oil for 5 minutes to soften. Stir in the spices and cook for a further 3 minutes. Add the sweet potato, seasoning and stock. Bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Whiz in batches in a food processor with the single cream and coriander until smooth. Top with the coriander leaf

I chopped the vegetables rather than using a food processor – less washing up and I couldn’t have lifted the food processor anyway! I used less butter and oil, and less cream. I actually used 3 tbsp of 15% creme fraiche, which was plenty. I also missed out the fresh coriander.

I’m pleased with how I’m feeling now I’m doing stuff rather than just moping.



Happy New Year

Hello dear ones.

This is just to wish you a Happy and peaceful 2018. I hope that your year is full of blessings and good things, and that even when the bad things happen, you can find the grace and strength to deal with them. On a post on Ship of Fools about the power of prayer, one poster wrote to another

May I pray for you and your wife – for strength, for courage, and that your home would be filled with love, with laughter and joy, with good wine and great friends and family. For relief from pain and fear.

This is what I wish you all, dear ones. Thank you for your support, your messagres, your comments and for your sharing of this journey with me.

May 2018 be good for all of us!

Here’s a photo Mr FD took of me on Christmazs Day. It’s not often I like a photo of me, but I really like this one, so I thought I’d show it to you. Click on it for an even better view!