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…


Two cards – one birthday!

It’s coming up to my mum’s 90th birthday! Hard to believe – here are pictures of her when she and my sister visited us in September. We went for several walks of 5 km or more, and mum was fitter than I was!! (Though to be fair, it was only three months after my chemo had finished!!)

I’m going over on Wednesday, and we have a big family lunch on 11th at a restaurant. It’s her birthday on 12th May. I have a picture that I bought in Strasbourg for her present: it was going to be her Christmas present, but sending it became so complicated I decided to keep it for her birthday. It means I can buy a frame too. I’m there for almost a week, which will be lovely – I hope to maybe catch up with an old friend from school while I’m there too.

So today I sat down to make a card. The first one I made was this:


I used papers from a papercrafting magazine plus various Noz embellishments. I quite like it, but it’s a bit boring for a 90th birthday card. So I went a bit more OTT and created this one:

It’s a three-fold card (which is a bit difficult to photograph) so it’s already a bit more “special” than the first one. Here it is, standing upright:

and in the second fold there’s another butterfly hidden away:

I think this one is a bit more joyous, and appropriate for such a landmark birthday. What do you think?

What do I write about now?!

I’ve been so focussed on my 40 Acts journey every blog post, practically, has been about that.

What now?

Back to the mundanities of life in a small French village.

But things to look forward to this week:

  • not quite so much work – not quite an Easter break, but less to do. (though the less I do, the less I get paid!)
  • meal out on Friday with Louis and Odette
  • Friend Cathy arrives on Sunday or Monday – huzzah!
  • I should get my new bank card soon too.

I didn’t tell you I’d lost my bank card, did I? I used it on Saturday in the bank, and discovered on Sunday that it was missing. Not sure if I’d shoved it in my pocket and then pulled it out with my gloves somewhere outside, or whether I’d left it in the bank, I decided (after a panic attack and tears – this bloody hormonetherapy!) to cancel the card. Of course, on Tuesday evening (bank closed on Monday) I got a phone call saying I’d left my card in the bank!! But it’s too late, of course, as I’d cancelled it. So I’ve been without it for a week, and I’m not likely to get it for another few days. It’s been a pain as many shops in France don’t take cheques – luckily supermarkets do, so I’ve been able to get the food shopping, but I’ve had to plan my petrol buying more carefully, as the kiosks are only open at certain times. It has meant I haven’t impulse bought…but there’s a handbag I’m definitely considering!!

For those who might be interested I’ve created a new blog for our Church sermons. We’re hoping to post most of the weekly sermons on this site. Do go over if you’d like to read them. Oh Taste & See

This is Christ Church, Clermont Ferrand

The Easter procession: Lift High the Cross

A weekend of Spirit filled celebration

So, as I have mentioned several times I went to Paris on Friday through to Sunday for the consecration of our (then) Bishop-Elect Mark Edington. It was a great weekend.

Friday morning was a little fraught – I hadn’t packed and wanted to leave at 9.00 to give myself time to drive to Vichy and relax for my 10.50 train. I found I needed to go to the chemist and Mr FD asked me to book the car in for a service, so I started to get flustered – Would I have enough time? Well, of course I did, and I arrived at Vichy with about 30 minutes to spare. This was fine, as it meant I wasn’t running or hurrying.

The journey was fine, and I found my way safely to the correct Metro station. I know the route better now, having taken it several times over the past couple of years, so there was no panic. Also, there were no time pressures, as I knew that we couldn’t start preparing the food until 3.00, and that gave me an hour to get to the Cathedral. Also, it didn’t matter if I was late.

People were arriving with lots of different kinds of food from their local area –  the Convocation has churches in several different countries, so there was a wide variety of food: Italian salami and parmesan, German sausage, Belgian chocolates, pretzels and dip and lots more! I had brought Salers cheese and Bleu d’Auvergne cheese, and Laurie from church, travelling separately, brought the St Nectaire. I also took a couple of jars of home made apple-and-marrow chutney to go with the Salers cheese. I set to, slicing baguette, smearing chutney, cutting cheese, and soon the platters of cheesy canapés were mounting up.

Don’t tell Laurie I’ve put this on the blog – it’s not a flattering photo of her. She’s much nicer looking!!

After about two hours of slicing, smearing, cutting etc the food was looking more and more delicious. This is just a small proportion of it all:

Meanwhile a rehearsal for the next day’s consecration was going on, so after we’d finished preparing the food, we wandered into the nave to watch proceedings.

Here is Mark trying on the cope, one of the gifts given to him by the Convocation, his family, friends and colleagues.

Then the party started! I was (as I’ve said in another post) a “responsible person” for one of the tables, so I couldn’t mingle quite as much as I might have wanted to, but it was still fun. Gifts were given to Pierre, our departing Bishop, and to Mark. Tears were shed, speeches were given, champagne was drunk, and work well done was celebrated. I managed to eat a lot of food and even shushed a Bishop of the CofE who wouldn’t stop talking during the speeches!! The Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, was there, and several people asked him for selfies, but I came over all British and shy, so I just had a brief, rather shouted conversation wityh him (he was standing quite close to the very good but rather noisy music group)

Then Gaelle, from Emmanuel Church, Geneva, and I headed back with our hosts to the beautiful apartment where we were staying. We had another couple of glasses of wine before heading to bed.

This is the view of the Eiffel Tower from Nancy and Neil’s apartment:


The consecration service was at 11.00 so I stayed in the apartment and read for a while, until it was time to walk along the banks of the Seine to the Cathedral

Looking back to the Eiffel Tower, with the Russian Orthodox cathedral in the foreground

I’m heading to that spire!

It was 10.00 by the time I got there and already the place was filling up…

I was in the procession as a member of one of the committees (even though I'(d had to drop out) so we gathered in the courtyard ready for the beginning of the service. It was a splendid sight, all the Bishops in their beautiful clothes, and Mark dressed (at this stage) very simply in his white alb. Then we were off!

The ceremony was wonderful. There were several very moving moments – singing the Taizé chant “Venite  Sancte Spiritus” as the Bishops laid their hands on Mark, the moment when his wife, Judy, handed him his mitre (there seemed to be a very private moment pass between them) and when Pierre handed over the crozier to his successor. This crozier was commissioned by Pierre and has embedded in the staff a little cross made of a local wood for each church and mission in the Convocation; it is a very symbolic thing, and it was obviously an emotional moment for Pierre and for Mark.

There are more photos of the occasion if you follow this link

Afterwards the Cathedral catering staff laid on another fine spread of sandwiches and other goodies. It was termed “a light lunch” but it was, in fact, very generous! I took the opportunity to congratulate Mark, as he would be leaving that day to go to Munich – apparently it was something to do with not being in the same place as the Presiding Bishop (I think!)

By the time lunch was finished it was 3.00. I wasn’t sure what to do, so thought about visiting the Museum of Modern Art – it was free, so I didn’t feel bad that after about 30 minutes I thought “This is not impressing me, AND I’m tired!” So I went back to the apartment for a nap instead!!

I met up with Lee, Laurie and Mary-Ellen for a lovely dinner. I started with samosas

Then I had duck – but forgot about taking photos!! A café gourmande followed: a coffee with 3 little desserts: chocolate mousse, apple/raspberry crumble, strawberry fool. Yum!! I walked back to the apartment as it was a fairly warm night, and not too late.

Sunday morning was the day that Michael Curry was preaching in the Cathedral, so, guessing (rightly) that the church would be full, I got there early, having walked along the banks of the river again, passing this “living wall”

It was a great service, and the sermon was very good…

When the power of love overcomes the love of power, then we shall have peace on earth.

After the service there was another line to meet the PB – when it was my turn I said I’d been too British to ask for a selfie before – and he said “Well, we can’t have that!” and handed my phone to one of his entourage…

I had lunch with some people from Munich – I know them from Convention, and as I walked past them outside a restaurant, they asked me to join them. A beer and a goats’ cheese salad set me up nicely! Then it was a quick trot back to the apartment to pick up my bag and then hop on the Metro. I was at Bercy station way too early, but that was OK. I sat and read until my train left. Back to Vichy just after 9.00 and home in bed by 10.30.

A truly wonderful weekend. Now the hard work begins for Mark and for his wife!



Procrastination continued…

Thank you for your concern, but actually, it wasn’t the blog post that was the thing I didn’t want to do – it was more like the blog post was the way of procrastinating, but I couldn’t think what to write, so I didn’t even do that!

Yesterday I had to phone my health care providers, in French, as I couldn’t get on to “My Account”. I’d been putting it off for a few weeks, not so much because I was worried about speaking French (I just kind of launch into that and hope for the best) but rather I was afraid I wouldn’t understand the instructions given to me! However, all was well, and I understood. I’d just been entering the wrong number into the “Identification” box.

So I was quite pleased with myself by the end of the day.

This morning I did some batch cooking. With Mr FD now working (well, training to work) I can’t expect him to spend a long time cooking when he gets home. Before, I had no problem asking him to prepare something that maybe took 30 – 45 minutes (to prepare & cook) but now it seems a bit unfair. So today I made two batches of lamb,butternut squash and spinach curry, and three batches of a basic beef-mince-and-tomato mix to go in the freezer. These can be used to make quicker meals. My meal planning will take into account the need for quicker to prepare meals.

I also made some spiced carrot soup, as we both like taking soup for lunch, and prepared a dish of potato/sweet potato gratin for tonight. I felt very virtuous by the end! I impulse bought a Christmas ham from IKEA, which I roasted with a marmalade/honey/orange glaze on Wednesday

We had this with mushroom linguine last night, we’ll have it tonight with the gratin & some mange touts from the freezer, and then with chicory and a cheese sauce on Monday. The rest can go in the freezer or be used for sandwiches.

The problem is that the freezer is quite full of food already, so I’ll have to take something out to make room for the new stuff!! There’s quite a lot of fruit in there so I think I might take it out and make a peach,raspberry & redcurrant cobbler for dessert. I made an apple crumble last weekend as well! Mr FD won’t be able to believe his luck – I hardly ever make desserts!!



My mammogram and ultrasound were clear!

Goodbye to 2018

So that was 2018 – not necessarily my “best” year, but a year in which I learned something about myself, in which I made new friends, in which I drew closer to God. There were bright times, and darker ones, but here are a random selection of 12 photographs.


I found that focussing on celtic knotwork was a way of taking my mind off what was happening to me. I had surgery on 3rd January, to remove the tumour. This was done during my recovery, as a Burns’ Night gift for my Scottish-ancestors Rector and his Scottish wife.


Chemo started – again focussing on zentangling was a way of taking myself out of the situation. This koala was drawn as a gift for someone, but I have no idea who!!


Despite chemo, we were able to go to Manchester to see Bill Bailey (comedian) and Elbow (band) in concert. We also met my great nephew, Billy, for the first time. Here he is with my niece, Rose, and her husband, Dave. We had a magnificent time. I also lost my hair by the end of the month


I was still well enough to go to Fréjus with the Cycle Club – I spent a lot of time resting in the holiday village, but was able to for shortish walks. Here I am dipping my toes in the Med!


The Royal Wedding gave me an excuse to wear my patriotic scarf as a turban! Friend Cathy and I went up to Friend Richard’s to watch it on his big screen TV – an excuse for fizzies and good food! I made an inelegant elderflower and lemon sponge. Which was very nice!


I was into the second set of chemo treatments by now – these were less pleasant (if “pleasant” could be used to describe the first set!) than the FEC100 with fatigue really taking over. However I still was able to get to Annecy with the cycle club. I did a little tiny bit of walking – 2 km was the furthest I walked, but I was very happy to have managed that!


We were into high summer by now, with long balmy evenings. Friend Cathy hosted a music night up at her home, where we sat out, singing, playing instruments, and enjoying good company. Great fun – even if we were forced indoors by a sudden rainstorm!

I had my last chemo at the beginning of July – huzzah! – and two or three weeks later started my six weeks of radiotherapy. It wasn’t so tiring, by any means, although I still appreciated an afternoon nap when I returned home from hospital.


The village had its Fete Patronale, right at the end of August. Never our favourite time, as the travelling fair sets up right outside the house, but we went to stay at Friend Richard’s overnight, and came down to watch the light show. It was, let’s say, “interesting”!

I finished my radiotherapy sessions!


September was a good month, as I started to get some energy back, and – apart from my hormonetherapy – I had finished treatment. So, we were able to have a holiday in the Italian lakes, thanks to the generosity of a friend. Here I am enjoying the gardens above Lake Maggiore

And then my mum and my sister came to stay.

Mum, Judy and Mr FD on a walk through Le Gouffre d’Enfer in the Pilat mountains.


I went back to work – not too much, but I was glad to be starting again! I felt I’d been lounging around for too long!

Still time for fun however – I had my birthday celebrations at Friend Alison’s

and went to Waterloo for the Convention of the Convocation of Episcopal churches in Europe, where Mark Edington was elected as our Bishop. Here he is speaking, via Skype, to the Convention. I was on the Transition Committee for the process of preparing for the Consecration of Mark; however, as it was causing me fairly severe anxiety, I resigned from the Committee in November. Still, I’m looking forward to going to the Consecration service next April.


The weather was a little odd, going from very cold (plus snow!) to extremely mild within a matter of days. Luckily it was warm(ish) and sunny on the day we got involved with making cider with our friends Jean and Claire, at Jean’s family home a few kilometres from St Just. Here is Jean, Mr FD and Jean’s brother-in-law manipulating the apple press that has been used for generations. And here are Jet and Bulot (except I don’t know how to spell his name – it’s a French slang term meaning “Little Willy”!!)


My friend Jane and I spent a few days in Strasbourg, exploring the Christmas Markets. Here are a couple of views of Petit France, the area of the city where there are canals. It was a chilly day when we walked around, but we found a lovely restaurant to warm up in!


Do you know, looking back over these – and many other – photos has reminded me that this year hasn’t been so bad after all! Yes, I had to go through treatment for breast cancer, but despite that, there have been many really enjoyable things! We’ve been lucky enough to be able to go away several times, though I was sad to miss a couple of weddings, as they fell on a Saturday just a couple of days after a chemo session – no way I could have gone!

Here are the cards I made for them

I hope that 2019 will be even better than 2018. It’s starting well: Mr FD has a job!! He begins three months of training with a fibre optics company on Wednesday. As long as he passes the training, he has a six months probationary period with the company; if he passes that period, he should have a permanent post! This is really good news.

So, I wish all my readers a happy 2019, full of joy, and blessings.


Happy Christmas!



My gift for the child:

No wife, kids, home;
No money sense. Unemployable.
Friends, yes. But the wrong sort —
The workshy, women, wogs,
Petty infringers of the law, persons
With notifiable diseases,
Poll tax collectors, tarts;
The bottom rung.
His end?
I think we’ll make it
Public, prolonged, painful.

Right, said the baby. That was roughly
What we had in mind.



The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

I wish all those who take time to come and read what I have written a very Happy Christmas.