Treated by a 13 year old

We had a bit of a frustrating day on Thursday. We went to Roanne to do the shopping for the week, & because I had an appointment with the “Chemo doctor” (I don’t really know what title to give her!)

After the shopping we had decided to try the newish English bakery that’s opened in Roanne but sadly there was an unscheduled closing that day, so we missed out on trying their fish & chips. We went to La Pataterie instead – baked potatoes with cheese and ham. Which were very nice. But not what we had really wanted to eat!

Then we went to the hospital for my appointment. Luckily we were early as noboidy seemed to know where we were going – we wandered around, asking people, for quite some time. It didn’t help that my doctor was married to another doctor in a different department, so we got sent to see the Mr before the mistake was rectified to go to the Mrs.

When we finally got to see her, she looked about 13! I know she wasn’t (obviously!) but that didn’t help. I didn’t feel quite as confident in her as in Dr Meunier (the oncology surgeon I’ve been seeing) but still… I was also hoping to have a start date for chemo, but I still need more blood tests, and ECG and an appointment to fit the “box” that will feed the chemo into my veins, so it won’t be for at least another week.


I think I said somewhere that we have booked and paid for flights to Manchester, plus tickets to see Bill Bailey and Elbow the first weekend of March. If I have chemo the week beginning 11th Feb then I will probably be be OK to go. If I start chemo the week beginning 18th Feb, then I might be OK to go – but fatigued. If I don’t start until the week beginning 25th, then I probably won’t be going. Which will make me efferty-jeff. However the doctor knows what I’m hoping for, & she said she will endeavour to schedule the sessions so it’s possible.

Another thing I found difficult was all the bureaucracy and paperwork that needs to be completed – I am SO grateful for the 100% payment scheme, that means I pay nothing, and it doesn’t come from our insurance, but oh! The amount of stuff! And the doctor spoke heavily accented French that I found so hard to understand. Mr FD was better, and he did calm me down when I had a wobble in the middle of the (one-and-a-half hour long) consultation.

At the end I was very happy to go to Friend Alison’s to drink wine, to eat nibbles and to decompress a little!!


Surprise Christmas present!

Well, not quite a surprise, as Mr FD kept telling me it was on its way, but a surprise because I had no idea what it was.

It arrived today (not a Pusheen cat!) and I am delighted!

As the blurb says “365 Days of Art is an inspiring daily journal designed to help you nurture your creativity and develop a love of art” It gives 365 prompts to various art projects to complete:

Day 282: What is in the jars? Pickles?Fruit? Insects? What would you store in these jars?

Day 330: Add flowers to the stalks

It is something else to add to the things to do during my days at home: I do my 15 minute mile, using a Leslie Sansome YouTube video, and then I enter competitions…Really, by the law of averages, I have to win something! My poor friend Cathy is the “Scape Tagger” when it’s a FB competition, when I have to tag someone. She’s been tagged several times today! (Mind you, this pays her back for all of those “Like-and-share” pictures I get from her!!) I try to blog too – you might have noticed an upsurge in blog posts recently! Then I might do some zentangling too, although competition entry took over an hour today: there were lots to enter! It’s practically lunch time (scrambled egg today)

In the afternoon I will maybe continue zentangling, but I will add my 365 Days… to this now. I listen to Pray As You Go, and read another poem from “The Splash of Words”

Mark Oakley spoke to us at the  Vocation Discernment weekend in Budapest during November. He is an inspirational speaker and the book is really interesting. The blurb on Amazon reads: For those who know they enjoy poetry, and those for whom it is just a memory from schooldays, here is a rich feast that enables us to rediscover poetrys power to startle, challenge and reframe our vision. Like throwing a pebble into water, a poem causes a splash of words whose ripples can transform the way we see the world, ourselves and God. The Splash of Words argues that belief in poetry is vital for understanding that God is in the world as poetry is in a poem. It includes 40 poems from contemporary poets, as well as poems from earlier generations. Each is accompanied by a reflection, based on a deep understanding of poets and their art, which explores why poetry is vital to faith and how scripture, liturgy and theology are all poetry in motion.

I would argue that if you think you don’t like poetry this is an excellent book to help you, not understand poetry, but to experience it, to feel it, to grasp the very edges of what the poet is saying.

And usually too, I will read some of my French novel, although I have rather neglected this recently.

As the weather gets better I will try to get outside too for some sunshine (should the sun ever return!!)

So…lunch time now!

PS – We finished watching Line of Duty Series 1 last night! We decided we couldn’t wait. We now have to try not to watch Series 2 till next week. Otherwise, we’ll binge watch and it will all be finished!

Christmas Doings 2: Boxing Day

There was an organised walk from church planned for the afternoon, and Mr FD was up for it, so the morning was spent doing various enjoyable things – reading, blogging, listening to the radio etc. Then, after a hurried piece of cheese on toast at 11.15, we set out to borrow our friends’ dog, Marvin, as we thought he would enjoy the walk. Then we drove down to Clermont.

Marvin was very well-behaved in the car: he sat in the footwell, and quivered. I stroked him a lot to reassure him, and finally he settled down between my feet.

We arrived at the car park where we were all meeting, but had to hang around for quite a while, as other people who were coming got lost. Finally everyone arrived and we set off

We headed up the Vallée de Sans Souci, to the Squirrels’ Cascade

It was lovely – people swapped walking partners, as we went, and Marvin had a great time with Clio, the labrador. There was a puppy with us too, Narda, but she was kept on the lead as she was rather over excited by the whole event! She’s the dog being lifted up in the photo above.

When we arrived back at the car, Rob (our rector) & Caireen (his wife) invited us back to the house, “for some leftovers” We were expecting a turkey sandwich and a cup of tea – and ended up having a delicious 4-course meal! Red pepper & sweet potato soup, turkey dinner, with all the trimmings, cheese, and mince pies! Goodness me!

Marvin was thoroughly spoiled and loved the attention. He isn’t allowed on the furniture (except his chair) at home, but here he was positively encouraged onto the sofa!

He was given a bowlful of scraps to eat as well. Rob and Caireen would have adopted him on the spot if they could have done! He was splendidly well-behaved.

And after a lovely meal, we drove home, arriving in time to feed the cats, who sniffed my jeans very suspiciously.

A really nice day, with really nice people.

Mr FD, me and Marvin

My consultant phoned me yesterday – both the bone scan and the organ scan were normal, showing no signs that the cancer has spread!

I know we’re not out of the woods yet, but the relief that both Mr FD and I felt was enormous. Thank you, God.

Where have I been? Wiesbaden!

Well, I was clever enough to schedule my Desiderata posts (yes, I know…it’s not actually that clever at all!) for while I was away but the weekend of 19 – 22nd October I was in Wiesbaden. This was for the annual convention of the Convocation of the Episcopal Church in Europe and it was a great weekend.

The business part was fairly straightforward, and quite interesting at points – finding out what the various commissions and committees have been doing, how churches have been using grants and so on. The Bishop of the Convocation has tendered his resignation, so we are planning for the work of finding a new Bishop. I am on the Transition Committee – this will be the organisational powerhouse (?!) after the candidates have been selected. It’s rather exciting, but a little daunting too. I’m not sure quite what skills I hjave to offer yet, but I’m waiting to find out. At the moment the committee seems to be full to the gunnels of people who are willing to organise us all, so I’m sitting back to let it all go on around me. It will become clear later on, I’m sure.

The hotel where I stayed was really nice: modern, clean, comfortable – and not too expensive! I’d recommend the Hotel Motel One to anyone.

It was a tad “over-designed” in places – the seats for breakfast weren’t very comfy (but very stylish!) but that’s my only criticism. It was situated 1.5 km from the conference centre, so I was walking 3 km a day without thinking. And more when I had to return to the Centre to meet up during the evening. According to Map My Walk, my average speed was just under 13 min/km, but there was one time when I did 1.8 km at 10 min/km – I had fallen asleep in the hotel room, and was late for the bus to take us to dinner! I arrived at the meeting place at the same time as the buses – having missed Solemn Evensong.

The  meals out were great – the first night we went in groups to different restaurants. I chose a South American restaurant, and had a delicious steak! The Bishop’s Dinner (a bit posh) was in a restaurant overlooking the city, and we took this charming funicular up to the top:

Unfortunately, as it was dark, the views weren’t so great, but the twinkly lights were pretty. The restaurant was lovely – a buffet of cold starters, and then a huge choice of barbecued items, with potatoes and ratatouille. Dessert was ice cream, red berries and crème anglaise. The Bishop made a speech, we toasted people, and had a lovely time.

The Saturday restaurant was amazing – slightly bonkers, with various farming implements hanging from the ceiling, a showman of a chef, where you took your raw ingredients to a hot plate where they were cooked in front of you. The entertainment was from a talented group from the Wiesbaden Episcopal church. Sadly, I cannot find anything on t’internet but it was fab!

But, I think the highlight of the weekend had to be Revd Canon Michael Hunn, special envoy from the Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry. He gave two great keynote speeches.

The first was about The Jesus Movement – the name makes me cringe a little, but apparently it is the name Biblical scholars give to the very early church, before it was a church, when it was a group of people trying to live the way they had been shown by Jesus What this means for us now is explained in this link

The second talk that Michael Hunn gave started as he explained his son is a jazz musician. He compared being a leader in the church, and, in fact, being anyone in the church, to being a jazz musician.

In the jazz group, the music may seem improvised, but every player knows the basic tune so well that it is in their heart. They can play it in any key, at any moment. It is embedded within. So when the musicians play together they all have the same music in them.

In a jazz piece, the players then take a solo – they improvise and riff around the tune, always with the same basic melody, but playing it in their own individual style. A trombone player doesn’t play it as a pianist does, a saxophonist is different to a trumpeter…but whatever the style, whatever the instrument, the melody is always there at the heart of what they play. Each musician has their solo, when the rest of the band lets the other shine, and do their bit. Then after the solo the other musicians take up the tune, supporting and listening to the main player, almost throwing the tune to one another – again being “in tune” with everyone on the group is really important for this.

But all the way through, the important thing is that the tune, the melody, is embedded in everyone so they can hardly help but to play.

It was a really inspiring weekend.

And in a couple of weeks I’ll be in Budapest being inspired again – I hope!

This last week, my mum & my brother have been staying too. that was nice. I’ll tell you about it another time. I need to sort out October’s bills!

The Poor Cats of St Just

I’ve paused in my planning (it’s almost lunch time) to say a Thank You to Mr FD for his help.

I have mentioned The Poor Cats before – they are a colony of feral cats that I, and a couple of other ladies, feed. Marie-Odile is much more involved than I am, and it is she that tries (and sometimes succeeds) to catch them in order to have them neutered. She puts a lot of her own money into it. She is also softer than I am (is that possible?!) and worries more about them.

Anyway,over the years Marie Odile has set up some shelters for them, and last winter I made some houses from boxes and insulating tiles and plastic bags, all in an effort to keep them warm.(You’ll need to scroll down, but I show them here) But there is a shed which has been firmly locked, which we have been wanting to open for a while – while simultaneously not wanting to open, in case it was full of dead cats who got in, and couldn’t get out again!

A couple of weeks back, Marie-Odile discovered who owned the shed, and got permission to open it (no key, so we borrowed a crowbar) We arranged to meet to open it together, but she got delayed. Finally I decided to just get on with it – I opened the shed, and found lots of old crates, full of rather manky cloths, and an old kennel, together with some very rusty tins of cat food….Obviously in the past it had been used by someone to feed and try to keep cats warm. There was also a dead cat, as feared, but it had died many moons ago, and was just like a cardboard cut-out of a cat. I couldn’t get sad about it, so I popped it in a binbag and got on with brushing the cabin out. By the time Marie Odile arrived it wasn’t looking bad.

We threw some of the cloths away, but others M-O took home to wash. It is now set up with various crates, with straw, old clothes, towels etc.

We hope this will help keep them warmer during the winter, with an extra layer of protection. I’m going to make a couple more cat-houses too, to put in the shed for them.

Here is their “home”

(sorry, it was getting a bit murky by the time I took the photo, and I didn’t want to use the flash in case I frightened them)

Despite valiant efforts on M-O’s part, there were two young females, born last year, that she had not been able to catch. They had litters early in the year, one litter was found and with the kits being very young, M-O steeled herself to take them to the vets to be put down. We have a Very Nice Vet, who does these things at a reduced rate, though M-O pays for a lot of it herself. The other litter is now growing up – named Chapeau (from distinctive head markings) and Smudge. Then the two young ones became pregnant again. We couldn’t find the litters, until one group was too big to be easily caught, so those three have been named Spot, Cloud and Patches. The other litter has not been found, although the mother is now coming back for food. We don’t know if they have died, or if she’s still feeding them in a hidden place.

One of these young mothers has been caught and neutered now, but the other one resists all efforts to be caught…And now there are several new cats that urgently need to be caught and neutered before next year!

This is Patches, the bravest of the smallest kittens – needs neutering!

But not only do we have the feral cats, but we have discovered that we have abandoned-ish cats. An old gentleman came round while we were cleaning the shed, and admitted that WhitePaws – a tabby male, with – yes, you guessed it – white paws – was his, but he couldn’t keep it in his appartment as the neighbours complained about the noise and smell (unneutered male), so he brought it here and left it, because he knew it would get fed!!! M-O got quite cross with him, and they ended up having a bit of a barney (of words), especially as Old Gentleman couldn’t see why WhitePaws should be neutered. In the end he got very angry and accused us of “making decisions for the cats”! M-O pointed out that there was noone else to make decisions for them and that the colony needed to be cared for, but also controlled. He stomped off furiously and  WhitePaws is still there – and scoffing quite a lot of the food!

Here’s WhitePaws,at the bowl by himself, plus Binkie (not yet neutered), Bonnie (who only has one eye and cat flu), Cuthbert (a female), Red (unneutered ginger-and-white Tom) and Gobbolino (all black) You can see some of the shelters that have been provided for them.

Mr FD played his part by fitting a hasp and padlock on the shed door –

It’s still quite a poor fit though so I will probably buy a bolt to fit as well. The cats can creep under the door and jump over a plank that we put up to stop draughts, or jump down from a space under the eaves. It’s not perfect, but it will help keep them just a little bit warmer in wintertime.

So, thank you Mr FD for humouring me, and helping to keep the cats safe and protected. And for letting me spend some of our housekeeping on feeding 15 or so other cats besides our four maniacs!


Crafting and Umbrellas

Not “crafting umbrellas” – I wasn’t making umbrellas, you understand!

While the English on this Lolcats annoys me – the cat left his umbrella at home, he didn’t forget his umbrella at home – it is such a perfect illustration that I felt I had to use it.

On Thursday morning the sky was an ominous grey when I left the house, so I grabbed my waterproof. Which doesn’t have a hood. By the time I left the company where I had been working all morning, ready to drive to ILS (the language school where I work), it was pouring down. Torrential. The car park for ILS is about a 3 minute walk from the offices, so I knew I was going to get soaked, even with my waterproof.

And I didn’t have my umbrella with me.

I had forgotten it.

I had left it at home.

So I decided to nip into Gifi and buy a cheap one. Which I did.

When I arrived at ILS, the rain had reduced itself to a drizzle. By the time I parked the car (it was a tight fit, and the car is big!) and taken a phone call, the rain was spitting and spotting. By the time I reached ILS, the sun had come out and it was blue skies for the rest of the day. AND I found that I had my umbrella at the bottom of my capacious handbag after all.

I hadn’t forgotten it.

I hadn’t left it at home.

But finally, no umbrella was necessary anyway. Sigh.

On a cheerier note, it was the birthday of Friend Alison’s daughter. She is reaching pre teenager-hood. So I gave her a voucher for H&M, two sparkly nail varnishes, and a pair of delightful cat socks, which someonehad given me, but which (sadly) were too small. Like these:

And, of course, I made her a card. I took inspiration from one of the many card making magazines that I buy in the UK. I usually buy them for the free gifts, as a lot of the cards that they demonstrate use cutting dies, or heat guns, or embossing glitter, or this…or that…which I don’t have.This time, I decided to find a card I liked, then try to replicate it with the materials I had.

The instructions that were given were for using fabrics, and sewing machines, and other stuff. I “translated” it into using paper and glue…and I made this:

this picture taken without a flash

this taken with a flash

I used papers from my stash, most of which I’ve been given, plus lots of ephemera/ commercial embellishments that I have bought in Noz. The little bronze embellishment was given to me by Monique across the road – she gave me a bundle of little brass charms from her antique shop, which I have been slowly using on cards. This one shows the Eiffel Tower.

There is a pocket on the card, into which I popped some motivational messages:

  • You are braver than you believe, stronger than you appear and more talented than you ever dreamed possible
  • You are a strong girl – never forget that.
  • Nothing is impossible
  • You are pear-fect

I think she liked it all. I was certainly rather pleased with the card – even though it was a tyad too front-heavy so you had to prop it open quite carefully!


Spring cleaning in autumn!

Well! Goodness me! What a busy time I’ve had of it!

I have been thinking about getting a filing cabinet for ages, to try to get me to be better at filing important papers. At the moment they’re just stuffed in a box, because I am too lazy to find the right folder for them, and it’s a bit of a bind sorting through all the folders to find the right one. So on Thursday Friend Cathy and I went to Clermont Ferrand.

I wanted really to buy one here:

which is “Nouvelle Vie” (New Life) a depot that takes old office furniture, restores it, giving handicapped people work, and then resells it. Excellent idea, but they didn’t have what I wanted, so in the end I went to Ikea. I bought a white, three drawer cabinet, & after lunch, some other shopping, and a quick visit to ILS (where I work) to do some photocopying I brought it home.

Then, on Friday morning, Mr FD made it up as it was a flat pack, and I decided to fill two of the drawers with my teaching resources…and so I had to move files, and then I pulled out a few drawers…and before you know it, my study looked like this:

and thisand this

It was a nightmare! I couldn’t move without treading on something I’d randomly tossed onto the floor. And when Jasper came exploring the teetering piles on the desk, you can guess what happened!

But after Friday afternoon, Saturday afternoon, and most of Sunday working on it, I can say that my study is re-arranged and generally looking much better organised.

(Yes, I decided to move the filing cabinet, as it was blocking some light. Of course, I decided to do that after I’d filled it!)

I know that for some people it probably still looks incredibly cluttered – and actually, I would agree – but I do love having my “stuff” around me. And this is not only where I work & prepare lessons, (all the stuff I need for that is on the filing cabinet/folders side of the desk) but also where I do my crafting (that’s the stuff kept on the shelves in the behind-the-door area on the first photo) so there are a lot of things to get into a relatively small space.

The amount of papers that had been duplicated, or copied just-in-case, or actually weren’t very good resources was amazing! It took three trips to the recycling bins to take all the paper/card that was being thrown out. At least it can be recycled. I would feel horribly guilty if it was just being thrown away!

I do have to admit that there are still drawers (including one of the filing cabinet drawers) that still need purging and tidying, but that will have to wait until next weekend – this week I’m properly back at work, so won’t have much time for anything other than preparing lessons.

Today is Mr FD’s birthday. I played him this when he came downstairs for breakfast

I’m not sure he appreciated it. The cats had instructed me to buy him a box of chocolates from Jeff de Bruges, and I gave him a book

He had already treated himself to a brand new phone, and a flash for his camera, so I wasn’t going to go mad buying him other things!!

Tonight’s dinner is pulled pork, with jacket potatoes and HM coleslaw, and a cake from the patisserie. We were out for lunch yesterday with the Cycle Club – to be fair, they earned their lunch by cycling 100 km in hilly countryside. I just drove there with Friend Cathy and Odette.

There were bottles of red and rosé wine, plus decanters of kir as an aperetif already on the table when we arrived. As I was driving I only had a mouthful of each.We started with salad:

of sausage, with beetroot, asparagus, palm hearts, carrot, sweetcorn, lettuce.


beef in wine sauce and mashed potato. The beef had been cooking for ages – it fell apart! Which was quite lucky, as there wasn’t much room, and I could only use one hand. The meat was so tender I could “cut” it with a fork. Very delicious.

I went round with a bag afterwards, collecting the leftovers for the Poor Cats – who loved it!

Then we had cheese, or fromage blanc. I chose Fromage blanc for a change – but I had some fromage sec as Mr FD didn’t want his goaty cheese! I forgot to take a photo, but here’s Friend Cathy eating hers:

And finally Pear cake and custard.

It looks a bit stodgey, but the sponge was very light. I was quite full by now, so I picked out the fruit and ate that, and had a tiny bit of the cake part.

So, he doesn’t have a very special birthday tea, as we had lunch out yesterday!

Thank you for your comments – I know lots of people read but don’t comment, but it’s lovely when people do say something!