Long ago, in time…

A comment that Michelle made, on my Wedding Anniversary post, has inspired this post. She said: I LOVE seeing old photos like this! 

And so…

For our 25th Wedding Anniversary, back in 2010, we had a party, and made a montage of various photos taken from our photo albums. I used to love putting together scrapbooks of our holidays, and so in order to make the montage a friend & I raided the albums. I always meant to put the photos back in the books, but 8 years after the event, it’s still on the wall:

As always, you can click on the pictures to biggify them…

So I thought I’d share a few of the photos with you.

1985

This one is another from our Wedding Day – a closer up of me with my Nana’s hairstyle and Deirdre Barlow glasses. (For those who don’t know, Deirdre Barlow was a character in the long-running soap Coronation Street, well-known for her huge glasses)

She had a difficult life, and spent a lot of time on screen looking anguished!

I’m happy to say, I look less anguished that Deirdre in my wedding photos!

The next two photos I chose because I thought I knew exactly when & where they were taken, but on looking through the Holiday scrapbooks I see I was wrong!

1992

Here is a very youthful looking Mr FD. This was taken when we were on holiday in France, in a village called Montferrat (which we revisited last year) in the Var region of France. This photo was taken on 17th August, in the village of Montaureaux – we had spent the day at a Medieval Fair, where I had painted a pot (which I still have!) which was then fired in a Medieval-like way. We booked to eat the “Menu du repas des Tavernes” eaten on long tables underneath the trees. I stuck the menu into my scrapbook, and read that we ate:

  • Sur un lit de feuilles de salades variées du potager de Monsieur le Duc, Riz de Piémont aux raisins secs. Melange paysan avec poisson au sénevé, graines de Turquie, poivrons, concombres, et tomates de nos campagnes (Served on a bed of mixed salad leaves from the vegetable plot of the Duke, rice from Piedmont with raisins. Peasant mix (?) with fish with senevé mustard, grains from Turkey (which is what sweetcorn was known as in the Middle Ages – or, alternatively, what the menu devisers chose to call sweetcorn!), red peppers, cucumber and local tomatoes)
  • Roti de lapin des terres du Seigneur de Tournon, tranche de boeuf cuit à la braise, accompagnée des sauces au genièvre, cannelle et oignonnets ( Roast rabbit, from the land of the Lord of Tournon, slice of braised beef, accompanied by a sauce of juniper, cinnamon, and little onions) – I’m not sure whether we had to choose one or theother, or whether we got both!
  • Tartouste aux sarments, qu’enrobe une crème à la ciboulette ( a type of young potato, covered with a chive cream – I suspect these may have been baked potatoes, as often  these are served with a chive cream here in France)
  • Fromage à la Province Briarde (Cheese from Briarde)
  • Galette Paysanne aux fruits rouges ( Red fruit tart)

It was at this place that this photo was taken of me, presumably somewhere at the top of the Chateau of the Duke:

and here’s a photo from t’internet of the village:

Do you have places that you associate with pieces of music? For me, I remember a long straight road back from this village to our holiday appartment in Montferrat, and that road is associated with the Proclaimers’ “Letter from America”. I don’t know why it should be that those two things are interlinked, why I should particularly remember the song being played there, at that moment, as we no doubt listened to it several times during the holiday, but when I think of the song, I think of the road!

1998

This photo was taken on 20th August, while we were on a family holiday with Mr FD’s side of the family. We stayed in a village called Ambazac, in the Limousin region of France. That was the year I paraglided from the top of Puy de Dome! We shared a gite together (me & Mr FD, Mr FD’s brother & SiL, and MiL & FiL) We generally had a good time, partly because we didn’t do everything together. I find out that (either altogether, or just me & Mr FD) among our activities, we visited the town of Limoges, we went to the very sobering place that is Oradour-sur-Glane , we went on cycle rides (I seem to have actually chosen to go on quite long rides, which surprises me!), we went on a steam train, we went to a folk festival at Confolens, and we saw the start of the Tour de Limousin.

I particularly remember the day (and the following night) of the train ride. You see, my BiL is diabetic, and, although he manages his illness well, needs to eat at regular intervals to avoid either hyperglycemia, or hypoglycemia ( hypo is when the  blood sugar levels are too high, hyper…is when the blood sugar levels are too low) We took the train in the afternoon, to Eymoutiers, planning to eat in a restaurant there; however, there was some sort of festival going on, and all the restaurants were booked up. The only sustenance that was on offer was wine and chips. Which we partook of, before (presumably) getting the train home again.

That night, we were awoken by a terrible groaning noise, and lots of thrashing about from the bedroom next to ours. We rushed in, to find SiL (who is quite small and slight) trying to force Lucozade into BiL (who is neither small nor slight) who was fighting her off with some force – while still asleep! He was having some sort of diabetic crisis. Finally everything settled down, but of course it took us a long time to get back to sleep afterwards. In the morning, everyone was very bleary eyed, except for BiL who declared that he’d had the best night’s sleep that he’d had for a long time!! Good for you, was the reply.

Anyway, back to the photo. My scrapbook informs me that the photo was taken at the Restaurant La Chanterelle, not too far from the gite. That night I ate:

  • Mousse de Saint Jacques (scallop mousse)
  • foie gras
  • entrecote (steak)
  • fromage
  • Iles Flottantes (Floating Islands – a dessert made of creme anglaise, soft meringue, caramel sauce. Like this:

Well, I’ve really enjoyed this short trip down memory lane, and  I think I may well be doing some more similar posts!

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Get out your amethysts…

Apparently the 33rd Wedding Anniversary is the Amethyst Anniversary. And that’s what Mr FD and I are (not really) celebrating today.  “Not really” celebrating, because we’re not doing anything special, rather than because there’s nothing to celebrate!! We’ll have a special meal out when I’m tasting again, and that can then celebrate many things!

Here we are, on 25th May, 1985, coming out of Sefton Church – me with a hairstyle reminiscent of my Nana’s, and Deirdre Barlow spectacles! Our French friends find Mr FD’s outfit very amusing ( très Anglais, they say) and the top hats in particular elicit comments. My dress was made by my dear MiL, as was my bridesmaid’s dress, and her own suit! She was a talented dress maker.

Thank you Mr FD, for all your support during these 33 years. There have been many wonderful times, and a few rough patches too, but we’ve weathered them, and come out stronger. You are my rock, my dear T.

Once again, I link to a poem that I feel is “right”, and describes Mr FD’s love for me. I won’t post the whole poem here, for copyright reasons, but I urge you to click-and-read. “Atlas” by U.A.Fanthorpe

There is a kind of love called maintenance
Which stores the WD40 and knows when to use it…

…which keeps
My suspect edifice upright in air,
As Atlas did the sky.

Back home again…

Hello dear readers – I’m sorry I didn’t blog more while I was away, but a mixture of being busy, being tired, and slow wifi meant I couldn’t be bothered. Sorry! That sounds rude, but isn’t meant to be.

We had a lovely time, and I did quite a lot of things, but I have found that this time I’ve been more tired than expected.

So, I left you on Sunday evening…we’d been to the Provençal market in the morning:

a flower stall

a cheese stall

There were lots of fruit stands, selling the most delicious looking strawberries, of which we meant to buy some later in the stay, but sadly we forgot! Never mind… In the afternoon, Mr FD rode, and I stayed in the holiday village. I spent a happy hour painting this little picture of the view across to the sea:

Dinner was perfectly acceptable – it’s not haute cuisine, by any means, but there’s certainly plenty of food, which suited the cyclist and walking groups who were there this week. There was watercress soup, which was nice, and then I chose chicken in a cream sauce, with pasta and veggies. A bit of cheese, and a small portion of gateau. You can help yourself to as much as you wish, so you can imagine that the hungry cyclists certainly went back for seconds! After a short group meting and a tisane, we went back to our room to watch an episode of The Bridge.

On Monday, I decided to spend the whole day at the Botanical Gardens in Rayol, about 40 minutes drive from La Londe. I wanted to go by myself, so I could take my time, pause when I wanted to, and not have to worry about other people. I hada lovely day!

I arrived at about 10.30, and paid my 11€ entry fee. The view from the first terrace was a delight!

I sat there for a few minutes, basking inthe warm sunshine (despite being well covered!) and then wandered off through the gardens. There weren’t a huge number of flowers out, but there were lots of greenery. It’s a large area, divided into different gardens, with plants from different  areas of the world with arid/ dry/ Mediterranean climates. So there’s a South American garden, an Australian garden, a Canary Islands garden…etc

I walked up to the Pergola, and then sat for about 30 minutes, finishing off a zentangle that I’d started a while back. I left it on the seat, weighted down by a pebble, with a note saying “If you’d like this drawing, then please take it…” I don’t know if anyone did.

The view across the sea from where I was sitting was lovely too, so I spent a while just looking, and admiring. Then the wander continued, past flower beds

.

and wood anenomes

Down a shady path to discover a charmingly rustic building beside a waterfall

and then down towards the sea…

This was the view from the little terrace where I sat to read and to eat my lunch. There were seats, and a little house, which had originally been a fishing shack. With the waves lapping on the tiny beach, and the warmth of the sun, I felt quite soporific. The picnic had been provided by the holiday village – I’d already left the tub of lentil salad back in our room, as I hadn’t fancied that, but the rest was OK : a roll, some dried ham, a piece of camembert (which had become very runny in the heat), a bag of crisps, a banana, a cereal bar and a couple of biscuits. After about an hour and a half I set off again to wend my way back upwards… pausng again and again to take in the views

                          

At the top of the climb is this rather impressive house from the 1930s, due for renovation

and along to the North American garden with its impressive cacti

I sat just below this garden to paint another little picture of the view, which gave me another opportunity to rest

Time to head for home, so I slowly meandered back along the paths, taking a photo of this slightly odd plant:

I had a really enjoyable, relaxing day, and would recommend these beautiful gardens to anyone. It was particularly enjoyable because, early inthe season, there weren’t that many people. I can imagine that in the height of summer with crowds of visitors, it might be less pleasant, but no less beautiful!

I got home, and, as the cyclists hadn’t arrived, I went down to the bar for a gin-and-tonic. Then when Mr FD arrived, with some of the others I had a very nice Grimbergen “Printemps” beer.

Dinner was less impressive – it was “Italian” night (although I’m not sure any Italians would have agreed!) – vegetable soup (not even minestrone!), followed by a very mediocre Spaghetti Bolognaise, or cheese tortellini, or a seafood sauce to go with pasta. I didn’t really enjoy anything that I had, sadly. The desserts were either a Tiramisu gateau, or a strawberry gateau – which actually tasted like trifle-as-a-cake! That was nice!

Another meeting, a tisane, and then back to the room to watch another episode of The Bridge, before bed. I was tired, but content, having done just under 3.5 km of walking around the gardens.

I think I’ll tell you about Tuesday another time!

Coming to the Surface.

This has been a tricky week – although I felt really perky on Friday, which is unusual for the day after chemo, it all went downhill after that! I was hopeful for a quick recovery, when I was awake for most of Friday, and even got up for a couple of hours, but Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and even Wednesday turned out to be more difficult! The metallic taste in my mouth was much more prevalent, which made me feel mildly sick a lot of the time, although I am still enjoying my food, as long as it had strong flavours: Marmite to the fore! I felt really fatigued and breathless even after a teeny-tiny bit of effort, and my eyes have also felt dry and tired too – perhaps it’s because the chemo affects the mucous membranes, which is why my mouth is dry and has the horrid taste, and my tongue feels a bit weird too. I might ask the pharmacy for some eye drops. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I’ve managed short walks, but have required sit-downs during them. The fresh air has helped though.

I’ve not slept too well either – this might be in part due to the fact we’ve been watching “The Bridge” on the i-player. It’s a great scandi-noir thriller series, but there have been a lot of murders in it, which has affected my dreams! Also at one point I dreamt that Mr FD was applying for jobs with his CV badly typed on yellow paper, and mentioning “working with dodgy men in vests”!! He is applying forjobs (no luck so far) but he assures me that it isn’t on yellow paper and doesn’t mention men in vests.(That’s UK vests, not US vests)

Eeewwww!

It didn’t help that I was sick on Tuesday night…we still don’t know why, but suspect that my stomach rebelled over too much garlic in the garlic bread that Mr FD made to go with the chilli (again, strong flavours). This meant that yesterday evening I was worried that I might vomit again, just as a result of eating dinner, but luckily I didn’t. I felt a bit nauseous, and had a slight stomach ache, but it was OK.

Even today, I still feel tired typing (!) and, while the taste in my mouth is less metallic, there’s still something there. I could suck on mints, but they make me feel a bit queasy after a bit!

Anyway, I’m hopeful that I’m on the road to recovery, especially as we’re off with Les Cyclos to La Londe on Saturday. We went there a couple of years back (see here)

and had a good time. Although I won’t be up to doing much, we hope that it will still be good. We’re staying in a holiday village:

so if I feel really tired I can stay there – I’m taking drawing equipment, watercolours, a well-stocked Kindle, and maybe even my knitting (blankets for cats) I’m also taking my computer, so hopefully I can blog from there too. I seem to remember there’s a little botanic garden in the town (unless I’m mixing the place up with another of the many places we’ve been to with the Cycle Club – which is perfectly possible!) and a beach a couple of kilometres away, so I should be able to drive to these. It probably won’t be warm enough to use the swimming pool though!

Unfortunately, Mr FD has had a problem with his bike – something on the carbon frame has cracked which means he can’t ride it. He’s taken it back to the shop and we are hoping that the “lifetime guarantee” will mean that he’ll get a new frame, but this isn’t certain. Even if he does get a new frame, it won’t be ready for Saturday, so it means that he has borrowed his old cycle, which he’d given to a friend of ours, and is spending today tinkering with it, to get it up to scratch – this means he’s putting on different wheels, his super-duper saddle etc etc. – and giving it a good clean. I think he’s a bit disappointed – but at least he will have a bike to ride.

So…finally, I’m back in the land of the living (just!)

PS

I’ve just had a phone call that tells me I’ve won something – unfortunately having entered so many free competitions, and the call was on a very bad line, I couldn’t understand what I have won. I asked if they could send me an email… let’s hope I can understand that! I’ll keep you posted!

 

 

Thank You!

Yesterday, the Act for 40 Acts was:

The game is gratitude. Without gratitude, you’ll never be content with the things God’s given you. And, because sometimes we need to run life a little slower in order to see what we can be grateful for, we’ve made today’s act a little simpler…

 Choose how you’ll complete today’s act:

One option today:
 Run back over the last month of 40acts. What have you seen that’s surprised you? What’s been tough? What’s cheered you up the most? Who have you been grateful for – and can you thank them today?

I immediately thought of you, my Dear Readers.

I’m not really thinking of 40 Acts here,  when answering those questions “What has surprised you?…What’s been tough?… What’s cheered you up the most?…Who have you been grateful for?..” but rather thinking about my treatment.

What has surprised you?… Two things have surprised me:

  1. Chemotherapy has not been anywhere near as horrible as I imagined. Although I am adding the caveat SO FAR. I am having a new cocktail in April. That might make me eat my words!
  2. How close I have felt to God. How I have felt “upheld” by people’s prayers & good wishes (which, quite frankly, I consider to be prayers by another, more secular name!)

What’s been tough? Maybe that’s another surprise, because, generally, nothing has been “tough”. Even being told at the beginning that it was a cancerous tumour wasn’t that difficult. All along I have had Mr FD at my side, with that mantra “It is what it is, and we will deal with it”. I have, of course, had short periods of upset, but nothing that can’t be coped with, and dealt with fairly quickly.

I think the most difficult thing has been the moulting. Not the fact I was losing my hair: that was a given, and it shows that the chemo is working. And once Mr FD shaved my head, well…that was done. It was the experience of losing my hair that was hard. Waking up with mouthfuls of hair, and having hair up my nose and all over the pillow! That was the nasty bit!!

Here I am:

        

with my little “chemo cap”……………and without!

As the French for “bat” is “Chauve souris” which translates as “bald mouse” perhaps I need to change my moniker for the duration!

I suppose the other thing that has been a bit difficult is the fact that I’ve not been able to complete 40 Acts this year. But I will try to find a way to continue after my treatment.

What’s cheered you up the most?... Quite honestly, the kindness and generosity of friends, both RL and virtual. Here in the village, the Cycle Club giving me a novel to read (hush, don’t tell them I’ve only read up to Chapter 2), a friend from church knitting me three hats to wear, another friend giving me some handmade soap that she’d made, without perfume as she’d heard that the sense of smell can change during chemo, people from church sending me pictures to cheer me up., my friend offering to pay for a holiday, my sister buying me deliciously scented soothing balm, and ginger chocolate, my SiL sending me sweet little ear-rings, my niece sending me magazines, friends sending me books, and letters….

Then there is you, my Dear Readers. Michelle knitting me a hat (yours beats the others hands down!), T sending me a lovely letter, messages of support,  comments on my blog, little gifts, a beautiful card from Chomeuse’s little boy, the assurance of prayer, reminders of God’s goodness… All of these things have reminded me of how much generosity and kindness there is in this world. THAT has cheered me up.

I haven’t had a Happy Turtle arrive – but I’ve had so mazny other lovely things!

Who have you been grateful for?

1. You, my lovely, dear Readers.

2. Mr FD, who has been here; even when he’s not known how to make me feel better in those rare times when I’ve been down, he has been next to me, trying to help in the ways he can. He has been wonderful. Thank you, Mr FD

So, this time (albeit a day late!) I’ve been able to complete a Challenge for 40 Acts…Not that it was a challenge, but rather a pleasure.

THANK YOU!!!!

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!)

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.