13 months ago…

…I had just finished radiotherapy, and had been on holiday to Italy with Mr FD.

My sister and mum came to stay, and this is a photo Judy took of me, sitting in the courtyard at Ambierle. The hair was just starting to grow back.

It was not something I would have chosen, but the cancer was, I think, something to be grateful for in many ways. Surprisingly. I’m still a bit bewildered by that statement, but I believe it to be true.


Journalling II

The link for this was: Beauty/ Creation/ Nature as the answer. What do you remember?


I remember Iona.

I remember the beauty and wildness of the island but also the joy and peace and pleasure of being with Joe and with people who “get it”.

I remember the silence in the library when Joe and I were together working.

I remember the wind sloughing across the beach – “our” beach – and the big blue sky with white fluffy clouds.

I remember the pilgrimage around the island when I felt God’s presence walking with us, around places where Columba walked.

I remember when I was sure once more that my sins were cast far out to sea.

I remember when we danced as dry bones called into being and I heard God ask me to dance once more.

I remember the sense of history – a thread joining believers from all over and from time past, present and future.

I remember the huge, desolate spaces – yet not desolate because God was there. And the majesty and awesomeness of Staffa and the puffins. And the love and the joy.

And the dancing. How I remember that! How I remember that.

And the wind and the sea and the corncrake.

And the abbey, squat and strong. A fortress.

And I remember…and I remember…

And I remember Joe and the love of everyone.

And I remember the wind and the sea and the beauty of the hills.

And the glory of creation.


Back in 2014 I went along to some Bible Art journalling classes. I really enjoyed them, but sadly the group broke up as the leader found herself a job – dam’ thoughtless, I call it!

Each session Caireen took a theme, or a verse, or a word, and encouraged us to spend five minutes writing whatever came into our minds before we did anything arty. I found one of my notebooks from that course recently and read it back. I really liked what I read and thought I’d share one with you – it’s a bit “stream of conciousness” – but that was the point of the exercise: to see what was sparked by the theme.

This one was to think of what colour God might be: “I am…” and a colour.

I am…Green

I am green. I am the green of the first buds, opening on the catkin tree, the fine mist that you almost-can’t-see on the bare winter branches.

I am the green of snowdrops, poking shyly through the snow and the mud of a winter landscape.

I am the lush green of a springtime bluebell wood, so green, so juicy that you can almost taste it.

I am the sharp tangy green of apples that pucker on your tongue and prickle in your nose.

I am the palest strawlike green of a refreshing glass of wine, sipped slowly with friends and enjoyed for its freshness and delicacy.

I am – how dare you call it so – the ordinary green of ordinary time…not special for any reason, but special in its ordinariness.

I am the green of…I am the green of…I am the dark, resin green of pine forests, silent and mysterious and calling you to meditate on the fragility of life in the midst of the pine-scented air.

I am the green of…I am the green of…I am the green of a child’s felt tip pen, luminous, joyfully scribbled in random marks on a piece of paper, to show grass and trees.

I am the green of life and death, the green of freshness and decay, of shouting and silence.

I am green.

A year ago today…

It’s just popped up on my FB page that a year ago today was my last chemo session.

This was the photo I took before I set off to the hospital. Do you know, I think I quite suit a turban! After this, I still had 6 weeks of radiotherapy to get through, but that wasn’t quite so tiring or debilitating. If you would like to read more about my cancer “journey” just click on the “tag link” below labelled “Bastardcancer” That should take you to most of the posts I made during the treatment..

It was a difficult year, last year, but I can say that I am (almost) grateful I had cancer: I learned a lot about myself, I grew closer to God, I made a new friend, and I learned how valuable my other friends are – as well as how much of a rock Mr FD can be, and how much I love him. Unfortunately for him, he is still having to show rock-like qualities, as I am suffering from mood swings and depression, thanks to the hormone therapy, but he’s managing to do it.

I keep in my prayers Charlotte, Ana, Emma, Ross, Susan, G. – all people I’ve met or become closer to through my encounter with breast cancer. And of course, I remember too those who have lost their lives to this bastard disease.

This wasn’t the post I thopught I’d be writing today, but there you go!


I’d like to introduce you to a song…It’s being very helpful to me, at the moment.

You see, my hormone therapy medication causes panic attacks, increased anxiety and such like, which isn’t much fun. I am taking (more) medication to reduce the anxiety, but I don’t really want to be on a cycle of medication to reduce the effects of the medication, so I’m trying to find other ways to deal with the negativity and anxiety that follow me around.

I watched a BBC documentary recently, where Nadiya Hussain, of Great British Bake Off success, talked about her anxiety disorder. She sought professional help and CBT which has started to help her. My anxiety is nothing like as bad as hers, but she talked about her coping methods, what she does to keep anxiety at bay, how it makes her feel etc. Her therapist encouraged her to say “What’s the worst that can happen?”, to acknowledge the anxiety, rather than to block it out…I’ve not explained it well, I’m afraid, but if you search online, or go to the BBC catch up, you could find the documentary.

At the moment though, I have a song which I listen to which is – for me, at least – uplifting enough to shake me from the grey. Here it is: “Alive” by Big Big Train

59 years on…

This is a quick post to say I’m back. I had a great time in Liverpool celebrating my mum’s 90th birthday. I got back yesterday evening, and today I’m back at work!

My brother found this photo of the three of us when we were young:

I was probably between 6 months and a year, making Mike about 3 and a half and Judy about 6.

Mike decided it would be a good idea to try to recreate the picture…So we did.

One of those mad ideas you get…

May pictures

Not sure what to blog about, but feeling I should write something, I delve back into my photo archives to see what I can find!

MAY 2010 – I used to do more walks when I had time between or after lessons. Here’s a little garden I found on a walk above Royat. Obviously a beautiful day! I really enjoyed these walks…I wonder why I don’t do so many now. Perhaps I’m too busy!

May 2010 was when I held George for the first time – our lovely cuddly George cat. He went missing almost three years ago, and although we have Jasper now, George is still very sadly missed. He was the most placid of cats, loving nothing more than a cuddle.


MAY 2011 – For a few years we had a Fete de Cheval here – it was, rather sadly, mostly a place where knackers came to buy old horses which were then taken to the abbatoir. It changed for a couple of years when our friends, who keep a livery stables and breeding stables took over the organisation, but that was too much work for them, so it stopped happening a few years ago. Here however is one of the animals that wasn’t a horse – there were some llamas one year!

MAY 2012 – The plant seller is out…I always buy my balcony plants from the same guy: he comes to the market in May/June but his plants are always good value and I’ve never had any complaints. The balcony is looking very sad at the moment, so I need to get out there and tidy it up. Because I’m working on Thursday mornings now I may have to ask Friend Cathy to buy my plants for me this year!

MAY 2013 –Here are Mr FD and our friend Louis, on the top of Mont Ventoux, having cycled up. I was the designated official photographer, but due to becoming too interested in the market in Bedouin, I very nearly missed their triumph! I drove up the mountain rather too hastily (there were hundreds of cyclists!) and caught up with the two of them no more than 3 km from the summit! Luckily I managed to get one action shot of them both, as well as this one.


MAY 2014 – A card made for my friend’s “Christian birthday” – I think it may have been one of my first “Celtic style” crosses, which are now one of my favourite things to draw.

MAY 2015 – I’m looking a bit blown about! This was taken when we went out for the day on our 30th wedding anniversary. We had a picnic and visited Mont Dore in the Auvergne. It was a lovely day out. I think this was taklen around Puy Marie, but I may be making that up!

MAY 2016 – an appropriate picture for today. Why, you may ask… Well, another blogger, Elizabeth, who used to live in France wrote:

In France we have a delightful custom of presenting our friends with a bunch, or even just a stem, of Lilies of the Valley.
It’s a custom that dates back to 1561, when the then King, Charles 1 received some lilies as a lucky charm. Each year he offered a bunch to the ladies of his court. So the tradition grew, and by 20th Century it was well established.
The flowers are given as a symbol of Spring. I think it is the one and only time that something is allowed to be sold without tax applying. Scouts and Guides will be in our town today, raising a little money by selling these beautifully perfumed flowers.
and mine are blooming in the garden, so I shall go and pick a few for our neighbour.
The photo was of some lily-of-the-valley that we’d been given by Michel across the road. Unfortunately they didn’t take, so we don’t have them any more.
MAY 2017 – One of my students was getting married, so I made him this card – very simply done with an embosser, and lots of little flowers cut out of scrap paper with my flower punch. The pearls were a bargain from Noz – of course!!
MAY 2018 – By now I was half way through my chemo, and had lost all my hair. Here I am in patriotic mode for the wedding of Harry and Meghan. I wouldn’t have bothered normally, but we’d been invited to Richard’s to watch the wedding on TV and to partake of lunch. I made a delicious but nt very attractive mlemon-and-elderflower cake
And May 2019? Well, it’s only 1st May. I’m sure there’ll be photos to share later on in the month…