Coming round after a Lost Weekend…

It’s been a long time since I posted, but I’m sure you understand why! Last weekend was my “Lost Weekend” after the second session of chemo.

For my own benefit really, but for anyone who might be interested, I want to record how I felt, and what I did/ ate in that weekend.

THURSDAY: Chemo session. Got home at about 18.00, had a cup of tea. Went to bed. Slept.

FRIDAY: Nurse came for injection to boost white blood cell production. Day spent sleeping/ listening to podcasts in small chunks. Drank about 1.5l of cranberry juice/water through the day. Breakfast: slice of marmite toast, half a cup of coffee. Lunch: slice of marmite toast. Got up round 18.00. Dinner: half a tiny baked potato and cheese. Felt sick. Went to bed about 19.30. Slept. Moulting started in earnest overnight.

SATURDAY: Day spent sleeping/ listening to podcasts in slightly larger chunks/ some activity on FB. Drank about 1.5l of cranberry juice/water through the day. Breakfast: 2 slices of marmite toast. Lunch:2 slices of cheese on toast + tomato soup. Got up round 17.00. Dinner: small amount of pasta, sauce & cheese. Felt less sick. Went to bed about 20.30. Slept. Moulted.

SUNDAY: I meant to get up earlier, but couldn’t be arsed.  Morning spent sleeping/ listening to music, or podcasts/using FB.  I got up around 16.00, finally having a shower (Mr FD was probably quite relieved about that!) but not getting dressed. Wrapped myself up in PJs, fluffy dressing gown and thick socks.Generally still very dopey, so snoozed, half watched some TV. Went to bed about 20.30, slept reasonably well. Moulted.

Breakfast: 2 slices of marmite toast. Lunch:2 slices of cheese on toast + mushroom soup. Dinner: A small amount of gnocchi and pasta sauce, yoghurt with jam

MONDAY: Got up around lunch time, morning spent sleeping/ listening to music, or podcasts/using FB. Got dressed. Afternoon spent on sofa, snoozing, watching daytime TV. Went to bed about 21.30. Didn’t sleep well. Drank reasonably well – about 1.25l

Breakfast: 2 slices of marmite toast. Lunch:2 slices of cheese on toast + mushroom soup. Cereal bar and pineapple in a pot. Dinner: A medium amount of a sort of “sausagiflette” – like tartiflette but made with sausages.So basically, potato, mushroom, onion, sausage, spinach and raclette cheese. Yoghurt and jam.

TUESDAY: Because I’d slept badly the night before due to a sinus headache, Mr FD was a bit worried. When the Nurse came to take blood for my weekly blood test he asked her advice, and they decided I should go to the doctor. An appointment was made. Marie-Laure (Nurse) had the usual difficulty taking blood – it is very lethargic, my blood, and it’s really hard to find a vein. She tried two places and finally squeezed out just-about-sufficient for the blood test. Went to doctor in afternoon, sinus infection diagnosed, and – due to low blood cell count – everything was thrown at it: anti nausea tablets, anti biotics (dissolvable ones. BLEUCH. Plus, as they are strong, likely to cause nausea, and diarrhoea. Yay!), yeast (dissolvable in water. BLEUCH! to restore gut bacteria destroyed by the antibiotics)

It was a difficult day – lots of crying. Fed up with moulting, and my pillows are covered in hair. I wake up with moutfuls of hair. It’s NOT FAIR! Mr FD got the worst of it from me. God got complained to. Felt dopey for most of the day, but perked up after dinner.

So do Fat Dormice!

Breakfast: 2 slices of marmite toast. Lunch:2 slices of cheese on toast + marmite.  Dinner: Smallish portion of chicken, pasta, sauce; cereal bar, pineapple in a pot. Took yucky antibiotics. Went to bed about 20.30. Didn’t get to sleep until about midnight; woke regularly and for long periods of time. Usually with mouthfuls of hair, despite wearing a hair-covering.

WEDNESDAY: Took horrible medication with large glass of cranberry juice/water; took anti biotics dissolved in water (BLEUCH!) quickly followed by a large bite of marmite toast!  Morning spent doing some paperwork on computer & reading blogs. Mr FD shaved my head, as I am fed up of moulting like a cat!

Breakfast:2 slices of marmite toast & a banana. Took yeast + a chocolate Dime sweet crunched up immediately! Lunch:Antibiotics. followed by handful of strong flavoured snacks, 2 slices of cheese on toast, cereal bar. Afternoon: walk to post office & around the block (about 500 m) followed by 20 minute snooze and some afternoon TV.  Dinner: Antibiotics followed bgy strong flavoured crisps, medium sized bowl of chilli + garlic bread, apple compote, chocolate biscuit.  Yeast taken with Dime sweet. Bed at 22.30. Slept through (almost!) until 7.45.

The walk, albeit only 500 m or so, took me about 20 minutes, and required two sit-downs on the way. The sit downs were partially to enjoy the sunshine and breathe some fresh air, but it was hard work!

I think my eating is back to normal, albeit smaller portions, but I still have the horrid anti biotics/ yeast combo to take for another 6 days – it makes my stomach fizz, and feel bloaty, but (so far) I’ve not had the expected diarrhoea. The other interesting thing is how my tastes have changed: while I still enjoy sweetish things, I am certainly not eating so many. During the first few days, I didn’t want any strong flavours, except for Marmite (as one can see from the amount of marmite toast I’m eating!), and the smell of cooking was horrid! And coffee, which is my go-to hot drink, has a rather unpleasant metallic taste – I can have the breakfast coffee, but after that it is not at all appealing. I’m not really enjoying any hot drink – tisanes taste too weak, or just not-nice. I’m not a tea drinker, but I’m thinking I might try a cuppa, just to see if I enjoy it. I do need to try to drink a bit more, as the Nurse said I need to aim to drink at least 1.5l a day, and I don’t think I’m doing that.


I’m not looking for sympathy here (though it’s always nice to have some!) but I thought you might be interested to read what a “Lost Weekend” is like – although this one has come with the added joy of the sinus infection! It’s also useful to have a record somewhere.

I have 1 more session of FEC 100, which is this current cocktail of poison, and then I go onto another regime, which will have different side effects: judging by the amount of anti-nausea medication that is prescribed, they are expecting more sickness. Plus this will affect my nail beds, so I have to put on a special kind of nail varnish, and rub an ointment around my nails twice a day. Stupidly, I’m already looking ahead and dreading that: sufficient unto the day…and so on!

We have booked to go on the Cycle Club short break, down in the south of France, which is the weekend after my next session. I will be tired still, but eating OK. I’m planning on spending the 5 days relaxing in the sun (while being fully covered, as I should avoid sunlight apparently) either in the holiday village, or on the nearby beach. Some reading, zentangling, and other relaxing activities will take place.

I’ll try and post tomorrow – I have a book review and three, yes, THREE, blog appreciation awards to acknowledge!!! Sorry it’s taken so long.


Sunshine and shadows

On Thursday it was a bank holiday here in France, because it was Ascension Day – it seems strange to me that in a country so determined to keep religion and laicity so firmly separated in the state, most bank holidays have a religious background. Is it a rather pragmatic (or cynical?) approach of “let’s squeeze some advantage for ourselves out of this”? Whatever it is, there we have it: Thursday was a bank holiday. And – of course! – because it is not worth going back to work for one day after a day off, many people take Friday off as the Pont (the Bridge). In fact many companies actually close, and force people to take it as one of their holiday days.

For me, it meant that my Thursday lessons didn’t happen, and my Friday student took the Pont, so I didn’t work then either. So I’ve already had my weekend – and it’s still only Saturday!

The Thursday market in St Just did take place, however, and the Plant Man was there, so I bought some plants from him.

I spent Thursday afternoon potting them up, and tidying the balcony, which did rather look as though it had been unloved and uncared for for many months. Actually, that’s true. But now, plants are potted, and hanging basket-ed, the litter tray has been hidden behind an upturned orange box, a bit of rearrangement of furniture, and it’s a nice place to sit again.

This shows the balcony last year – with the litter tray in full view! – but it’s similar this year.

I enjoyed breakfast there yesterday and today, sitting in my furry winter dressing gown (because there’s still a slight chill in the air) and watching the sun rise over the hill in front of the house, and creep round the fields until the square is lit up, and the heat starts to rise. It is a joy to watch the swifts race, screaming, around the air above the square, and swooping at high speeds under the eaves to where their babies twitter in anticipation of a beakful of insects. The sound of other birds can be heard too – the cuckoo is still calling, and the blackbirds sing their song in the (fairly) early morning calm.

I have retreated into the study now, and going against all my instincts, have shut the shutters, and am sitting in darkness, my desk illuminated by the glow of the computer and my desk lamp. It seems wrong to shut out the sunshine, but I know that it’s sensible to do so, as it preserves the coolness in the house.

I know that I will eat lunch in the blazing heat of the early afternoon on the balcony, but it will quickly get too hot for me. I bought a cheap deckchair-type thing yesterday, as the other chairs are slightly less comfortable upright metal chairs.

Just like these but in slightly better nick!

I may spend another 10 minutes reclining in my new chair before coming back inside, probably complaining that it’s too hot! When the sun has moved round, and there’s a slight breeze, I may open the shutters again, and the windows too, and let some air into the house. Opening windows is a bit risky though, as Jasper likes to go onto the outside sills to see what he can see. They are deep, but it only takes one uncertain paw and he could fall.

Yesterday evening Friend Cathy came, and it was lovely to take an early evening apèro on the balcony, as by three o’clock the sun has moved behind the house, and it is no longer in direct sunlight. The breeze was warm too, so it was extremely pleasant drinking kir made with white wine and myrtle sirop.

nice, but giving a slightly medicinal flavour to the kir!

After dinner (green salad with walnuts, croutons and comté cheese, kamchatka, and a vanilla & caramel choux bun) we sat outside again with a coffee, to watch the swifts on their evening feeding trips, and to listen out for scops owls. No luck on the owls this evening!

So, how to spend my “extra” weekend? Probably doing some work – I need to prepare for next week’s lessons. And ironing. So much ironing!! I swapped my winter for summer clothes on Monday, and it has taken me two complete Kermode & Mayo podcasts to iron them all! And now the pile is mounting again. Luckily, I’ve got this week’s podcast to listen to, so I can at least enjoy that, even if I don’t enjoy the ironing! I don’t iron quite so many of my clothes in winter (partly because the ubiquitous fleeces don’t need ironing, and partly because I’m happy to wear things twice before washing them) but in summer there always seems to be so much more (because I am less happy wearing things twice after hot days spent “glowing” on the balcony!)

Act N° 21 (2017) & 22: Refuge & Origins

Hello dear Readers, I hope you are all well. I am thankful for emergency doctor’s appointments today – yesterday I could hardly walk because of the pain from the eczema on my feet, and when I went to the pharmacy the woman there was shocked by the state of my feet, and  told me to get to a doctor as soon as possible. So I did. And he prescribed various potions. He thinks that it is an allergy to synthetic socks, and/or something in the curing process of my leather boots, which I have been wearing fairly consistently through the winter. I am tending to agree with him, as I had already started to wonder if there was a correlation. So I think I’ll be giving all my synthetic socks to my friends son, whose feet are the same size as mine, wearing my boots less often (I’m not stopping! I like them too much!) and possibly buying a pair of expensive leather shoes, assuming that they will be better! It is possible to get a reduction on specific shoes if you have a prescription from your doctor – while they are not particularly attractive shoes, it might be worth considering.

ANYWAY – you haven’t come here to hear about my foot woes, have you?!

So where are we with 40 Acts?

Well, recently the challenges have become a tad more “cerebral” and less “active” – which doesn’t really suit me. I don’t “do” thinking! I admitted my reluctance to pray, which is something I really need to address, I think, but I’m not sure how. Or when.

But this next one, N° 21, REFUGE is an “active” challenge, but, for all that, is another one which makes me shift a little uncomfortably in my seat. I fear God might be preparing me for something that I’m not necessarily that willing to do.

The prompt reads: It’s not exaggerating to say the world today is a divided, polarised place. Attitudes to the ‘other’ and, frankly, anything outside of our own culture, have shifted positions of fear into the mainstream. Now is the time to counter fear with generosity and ask the question – who is our neighbour?

Sometimes the most generous thing we can do is educate ourselves on the issues. Take time today to look into which newspapers spread fear about refugees, then write to the companies who advertise in them (major supermarkets are a good place to start), asking them to remove their funding from the papers. You could also do your own research into migrant groups in your area.

Make a practical difference today for those seeking refuge. Men, this is your time for a clear-out (groups supporting refugees often report low numbers of good quality men’s clothes). Or regularly donate tinned and dried food to those helping destitute asylum seekers or check out Welcome Boxes, a group who make arriving in a foreign land a little bit easier for refugees.

Can you play a bigger role in reaching out and caring for asylum seekers and refugees who are far away from home? You might be just the person to set up a new Welcome Box project in your town, or offer help to Home for Good’s work with refugee children, or support one of the many excellent The No Accommodation Network (NACCOM) member projects providing hosting and homes for asylum seekers left destitute and with no recourse to public funding in the UK (

You can read the full  meditation over here

(Sorry if you’re getting fed up of Lol Cats!)

So what am I doing about this Challenge?

First, I’m going to get more involved in the Stop Funding Hate campaign. I tend to scroll past their FB posts – no more.

Secondly – and here’s the stumbling block – I have recently found out that there is a Welcome Centre for Unaccompanied Refugee Minors in Roanne – catering for young people displaced whren the refugee camp in Calais was dismantled. It isn’t exactly “local” to us, being some 20 miles away, but it’s there. And I now know about it. I still haven’t found out exactly where it is, but being aware of its existence means that someone is starting to prod me ever-so slightly…What are you going to do about it, Fat Dormouse? How are you going to get involved?

And I am looking sideways and trying to escape the prods…


But now I can breathe a sigh of relief about the next Challenge… Or can I?

Surprisingly, Mother’s Day started off as something completely unrelated to mums. If you trace it back, Mothering Sunday was originally the one day in the year when house servants were allowed to return home to their ‘mother’ church, and spend time with their own community. So on Mother’s Day this year, let’s take time to be generous to people we’ve overlooked in our community.

Let’s acknowledge the mothers in our lives, but why not push the boat out more than usual this weekend? No more garage forecourt flowers or hastily scribbled cards. But, let’s also be more mindful of those near us who might be overlooked today. Those who’ll find this weekend hard for a variety of reasons.

Working this weekend, leading a team, or know tired people serving at church? Could you step in and cover them so they can go home early to spend time with their families?

Plan a lunch for tomorrow for more than just your own family. Invite your church family. Make a plan with others, so that everyone you know (especially those on the margins) is looked after today – whatever their family circumstances.

And, as usual, the full meditation is over here

I’m not a mum – by choice, I may add. For me, there’s no sadness attached to Mother’s Day, and I don’t yearn to have had children. I am God mother to three wonderful God children, and also know and love my nephews, nieces and children-of-friends.  But I pray for those who have lost children, who long to be parents but haven’t had the opportunity, for those who have suffered at the hands of their children.

My mum is still alive, and at 87 is living her life to the full; my mother-in-law is 78 and is living her life to the full. But I pray for those who have lost their mothers, to death, or to dementia. Those whose mothers are lost to them in other ways. Those whose mothers could not love them. Those who have never known their mother.

Both mum and MiL are lucky – as we live in France, and La Fete des Meres is on another day, we usually send our mums something for the French day. So they get two Mothers’ Days to celebrate on. In fact, as MiL has a daughter in Canada, she gets to celebrate three Mothers’ Days!

I’m not sure what else I can do – I’m certainly not up to organising meals, and don’t know who I could let go home early, but I’ll see if I can think of any other ways to support people I know, whether they are mothers or not. And of course, I’ll give my mum a ring tomorrow, to hear all about her trip to Berlin & Riga.

Mums, hey?!

Act N°15 (2017): Influence & N°16: Beyond

Hello everyone. This is a catch up of the last two days’ Acts.


The prompt reads: We all have influence, even if we’re not aware of it. It’s not something reserved for limelight seekers. Influence is simply the impact we have on others that changes how they feel or act. Think about the areas of your life where you have a voice that’s listened to. You might be naturally sociable and have a wide network of friends, or have a close group of those who trust you. Wherever your influence is, use it wisely and generously today.

And the challenges were:

Not sure you have much influence in other people’s lives? Think about who you interact with on a daily, or weekly basis. How do you behave around them or on social media? Are there things you need to change? Could you make more of a conscious effort to engage with others more meaningfully?

It’s easy to feel powerless in the face of large scale injustice or to switch off when it comes to national or international events. But you have influence that reaches much further than just those in your day-to-day. Take stock of what you feel passionate about. Can you write a letter, add your name to a campaign, share something on social media? Don’t file it away for later – do it now.

If you really want to go all out, publicise your cause/charity with an event. It may not happen today or this week, but you can get the ball rolling with inviting a speaker, and researching a venue. Make a big noise, and create some community memories to boot.

And you can read the whole meditation over here


I didn’t really have time to think about this yesterday, and even now, having given it a bit of thought, I am not sure quite what to make of it. I am aware of the influence I have – especially as a Lay Reader/Worship Leader and a teacher, and as a blogger – but I’m not quite sure about what that might mean in terms of interaction…I may need to unpack that a little more.

However, I have discovered that I am eligible to sign online petitions (or so it seems) with Amnestry International. When we moved to France AI told me I could no longer be a member of AI UK, & would have to join the French AI…which I never did. However, following a link from FB, I discovered several online petitions I could sign. So I did.

The other thing worth thinking about is the crowdfunding project for today. The “blurb” reads:16 million people in East Africa are on the brink of starvation and urgently need food, water and medical treatment. Today, we can all influence how this story unfolds.

The Disasters Emergency Committee launched their East African Crisis appeal on Wednesday. Their member charities are already delivering life-saving assistance in all affected countries. But, they need more money to help reduce the scale and severity of the crisis. When disaster strikes, Stewardship givers are often some of the first to respond.

Yes, I will donate here too. This is the influence that I have.


The prompt today read: Jesus didn’t settle for ‘just enough’ or the wine at the wedding would have been drinkable rather than top quality. So today, scale it up! Don’t measure out the generosity – go large.

The challenges were:

Has someone done you a good turn lately? Go out of your way to thank them with an extra twist of appreciation. Tell someone what a great job they’re doing – just because. Your turn for the washing up? Do the drying up too.

What does today hold for you? Watch out for generous opportunities and then knock it out the park for good measure. Find a way to bless someone over and above.

What’s the most extravagant present you’ve ever been given? If you went the whole hog, no expense spared, what similar thing could you do today for someone you know? This doesn’t have to be financial – use your imagination to be extravagant – but think creatively with whatever resources you have.

You can read the whole mediation over here.

So – what did I get up to?

Well, here’s a clue:

Mr FD is in Germany at the moment, celebrating his Uncle’s 85th Birthday. This past week, despite not working, and saying he’d do some cleaning  Mr FD didn’t, and the house has been looking a bit yucky, so I had been planning to do the cleaning today. But, oh, boy, was I resentful about it…?! Grumble, grumble, he should do it, it’s not fair etc.

But, with this challenge in mind, and Rend Collective on the CD player, I found that my mood changed and lifted. Instead of being grumpy, and thinking “Mr FD should be doing this” I became glad to be doing it so that he wouldn’t have to. (I do hope he notices & says thank you, though!!) I also did more than I’d been planning to do. It had been going to be a lick and a promise… (…that Mr FD would bloody well do it when he got home) but in fact I got right down to it. Three Rend Collective CDs later, the big downstairs room, the kitchen, dining room and sitting room are clean & tidy, and the first staircase cleared of fluff. Oh boy, the fluff!!!

Tomorrow I’ll be doing the second staircase, the landing, the cat trays and the bedroom & study. But my back is really rather painful, so I can’t do anymore now. Hot water bottle and a painkiller are – I hope! – working their magic.

I also want to thank M. Khodri, at ILS, for helping me feel a lot less panic stricken about a piece of bureaucracy and a nasty form to fill in. He was very kind, and helpful. I’m not sure what I can do – probably I will write a Thank You card – but I really appreciate what he did.

Pictures Round the House: “Early Morning Grasmere”

Here’s another in the series of posts looking at pictures that are round our house – it encourages me to look at them with fresh eyes and to remember the stories behind them.

Until Tuesday this picture hung in a corner of the sitting room, but due to a slight moveround in pictures (to accommodate Mr FD’s Ride London medal and map, that I bought him for Christmas) it has been relocated to next to the door of the sitting room. As I moved it, I smiled to remember the history behind it, and knew that it was going to be next in the series.

Here it is (rather badly photographed, I’m afraid)


Early Morning Grasmere, by W. Heaton Cooper

Here’s a better picture (not by me)

This link is to the Wikipedia page on William Heaton Cooper, who was a renowned Lakeland artist, who painted the scenery of the Lake District in all its changing moods, in its glory and beauty. I grew up with Heaton Cooper prints around the house as both my parents loved the Lakes, and walking in the fells. I even remember that, on the day of Charles and Diana’s wedding, Mum & Dad escaped all the hype, and went climbing in the Lakes – they walked up Cat Bells

Later, Mum bought a souvenir Wedgewood bell of the Wedding – to remind her of Cat Bells!.

When they were courting, the Lakes would be the place that they went to with their friends. I imagine that – as long as someone had a car – they were reasonably easily accessed from Liverpool, which is where Ron was a trainee doctor, and Mavis was teaching, after her training in London.


Here is a photo of my parents, before they were married, on a peak in the Lakes – don’t you love the fact that Ron is dressed in a tie (to go climbing?!) and Mavis is in her skirt!


Another day – another mountain…but still in a tie and jacket! Mavis is wearing her lovely jacket (which I took over and wore for a while when I was 17 or so, and so-called “hacking jackets” were in style. )

Here is a photo of them both on their wedding day


Ron in his Flight-Lieutenant’s uniform – he did his National Service in the RAF – Mavis looking beautiful in white lace. I don’t know, but I would imagine that they spent their honeymoon in the Lake District!

When I was younger we would often be taken walking in the Lakes – although I’m not sure how much I really appreciated it! – and I remember Dad and Mr FD bonding over a love of walking. Because of their love for the Lakes,  Mum and Dad bought a TimeShare apartment near Newby Bridge, and the bottom end of Windermere

This was to be a base for them both to go walking in their retirement years, but sadly Dad died just a year into his semi-retirement, and before Mum reached retirement age, so they never really got to use it fully. Mum still retains a week there, and goes up at the end of April, with her friends. Often my brother, who shares Dad’s passion for the Lakes and for walking, will go over too.

It was while we were staying there after Dad’s death that I bought the print, as a memorial to him. There is the Heaton Cooper gallery in Windermere and it seemed like a fitting way to remember my dear father.


Here he is in later years (still wearing a tie!!) : Ronald Alan Hardman, well loved GP, from Aintree, Liverpool. At his funeral, in a large church hall, seating, I estimate, about 200 people, there was standing room only. I recall arriving in the car behind the hearse, and being met by the Minister, who whispered to us “Don’t be surprised by the number of people…” He was so well-respected and loved by his patients, by the local community that people had turned out in crowds to pay their respects.

This is a W. Heaton Cooper that Mum has hanging in her home:

This shows Scafell Pike, and I love the moodiness of this painting. I think it is one of my favourites of the paintings that Mum has. Whenever I visit mum and see this painting I smile again, and think of Dad, and his love of the Lakes.

So, there you are. Another of the paintings around our house, and the story behind it.


Early Morning Grasmere

by W. Heaton Cooper

Who Dares Wins…

After my last post, written on Wednesday morning, feeling scaredy about facing A after sending an email…

Almost as I pressed “Publish” there was a ring on the doorbell. I (metaphorically) girded my loins and went downstairs. It wasn’t the builder, it was the plumber!

“I’m here to put in the toilet and things…” he said cheerfully.

About an hour later there was another ring on the doorbell. It wasn’t the builder, it was the electrician!

“I’m here to put up the radiator and lights!” he said cheerfully.

Mr FD contacted me a bit later – he’d had a message from the builder, who was coming to see us on Saturday morning. It was fine, said Mr FD, no rancour at all…

When I got home (I skipped dancing) we had a bathroom!!! That worked!!! There are still the issues for A to sort out, but he came round today and was very cheerful, and there was no rancour whatsoever. Just “Yes, I see…That’s fine…I’ll sort that out…”

What was I worried about?!

There is some stuff which we’re going to sort out – maybe, one could argue that the builder ought to do it, but he’ll only charge extra (“It’s not on the devis“) so it’s easier if we get on and do it. By which I mean Mr FD as I’d be as much use as a chocolate teapot!