Three Witches

You know at the beginning of Shakespeare’s Macbeth when the evil Witches are seated around their cauldron and chant “When shall we three meet again” with a bit of cackling and overacting thrown in? Well I’ve been experiencing being the victim of a coven of witches recently or that what it feels like! It’s happened a couple of times – I go into the bedroom and there they are – 3 pussycats in a huddle surreptitiously looking over their shoulders at me. Are they keeping warm or planning something? It’s hard to tell.

Cats and Cauldron
Mouse Fondue Party

They have such pretty names – Daisy, Lily and Poppy, but that Daisy one could give Carol Vorderman a run for her money she’s so intelligent. You can see the cogs going around as she works things out. She is usually the ringleader as she’s the one who knows what the words fish and ham mean, when she hears either of those words she gets excited and goes off to round the other two up, so I end up with three very vocal puddies in the kitchen all yelling for their treats.

Daisy11
The ‘Look’

As I write this one is lying on the radiator side of table dangling her paws over the edge  to take advantage of the warm air rising. The other two have me hemmed in on the sofa, one either side of me. It might be some time before I get up as any cat lover will know you try and avoid that pitiful look they give you if you try to move them. With Merlin a huge Tabby I had a few years ago you had to judge it so you got up in that brief window before he realised you were getting up and when he sank his teeth into any exposed body parts. I could really get off the sofa in super quick time when he was around, nowadays it’s been diluted to plea bargaining.

Frisco Pansy and Daisy
Paw Dangling Practice

I am afraid, very afraid!!!

Slainte

Linda xx

First Makes of the New Year

I first made this jumper back in the 80s and then lost the pattern. I was thinking about it a year ago and regularly checked all the online second hand sites to see if I could track it down as I remember really enjoying making it (and it was easy!!).

The Original Pingouin Pattern

No  luck until on a whim a couple of weeks ago I had a look at Ebay and lo and behold it was there! Never has the “Buy Button” been pressed so quickly! The seller sent it off straight away and I got clacking and here it is – the updated version! I used the Womens’ Institute Soft & Cuddly yarn. It seems to be sold only at Hobbycraft, I may be wrong but I haven’t seen it anywhere else. Great value at £3 a ball and on sale at the moment at 3 for the price of 2.

Pink Pingouin Sweater

My embroidery machine has been revving up for the New Year and the result is this knitting bag I made for my friend Gladys’s birthday. She sent me a very clever ‘thank you’ poem in return. 42,000 stitches! Gulp!

The Gladys Bag

And for those days when you wake up and think I really need a pair of jeggings with a giraffe wearing a scarf embroidered on one leg (and I can’t even blame the chemo drugs!)

Giraffe Jeggings

I had a follow up call from the Radiotherapy Centre to see how I’d coped with the side effects (apparently the peak of the side effects comes 2 weeks after the end of treatment). I was so happy to tell the radiotherapist that I haven’t suffered any side effects at all. The redness over my wound and neck has almost faded away and I haven’t suffered from fatigue at all. In fact I think my energy has increased which is good as Clarkson my beloved bicycle (I do miss Top Gear) and I have been giving my legs one heck of a work out up and down the beautiful country lanes around here.

Clarkson

Slainte!

Linda xx

Summing Up 2015

I laughed and cried a lot in 2015. In January it was basically a case of “Happy New Year, you’ve got Breast Cancer.”

The things that made me laugh which I’m glad to say far outnumbered the crying bits. I will be for ever grateful to the wonderful lady who set up the FB group March Marvels. The love and support from that group of Super Hero women kept me going during my darkest hours.

The brilliant friendly group of dog walkers in my local cafe who were with me on my journey through the year, always with words of support and available dogs to pat!

Wonderful neighbours who turned up at my door with kitchen towels, bags of apples, excess fruit and veg from their gardens & allotments, just incredible.

Having various pieces of writing published including having my work read by Stephen King. What an honour!!

The ladies at the radiotherapy centre who made everything soooooo easy to get through. I have a phobia about masks over my face and the treatment involved wearing a noseclip and breathing through a tube and holding my breath for over 30 seconds five times per treatment (I had 15). I did it and as a by product I am now considering learning to snorkel!!

My cats who instinctively knew when I needed cheering up and would keep me company when I couldn’t get up from the bed or sofa.

Friends who treated me to fab days out, the odd bottle of wine, encouraged me to keep up with the writing, made me laugh till my sides couldn’t take it anymore.

Online friends who through their lovely messages of support on this blog have a special little niche in my heart.

My local crafts shop where we would have in depth discussions on the merits of Dr Who and Sherlock (of which there are several!).

A bit of a short summing up I know, but Wishing You All a Fab Chrissie and the Most Wonderful of New Years in 2016.

Slainte

Linda xxx

Why I Love Charing Cross Road

The main reason I love Charing X is because Foyles bookshop lives there.
foyles2

I could live there – free Wi-Fi, a lovely clean cafe with gorgeous eats and floor upon floor filled with books on every conceivable subject.

foyles

foyles cafe

While having a coffee there last week I decided I needed to get to the Creative Writing section. I found it literally straight across and down the stairs from where I was sitting. It made me wonder if they’ve realised that siting it there would be a good business decision as probably half the people in the cafe are drinking coffee and busily typing the ‘Next Great British Novel’.

Scanning the shelves I found this book ‘The Amazing Story Generator’.
asg
It’s a writing prompt book where all the pages are split into 3 pieces and you can mix and match them.

asg2
I hope I didn’t disturb the rather serious lady next to me with my snorting and giggling as I haphazardly created such gems as
“Suffering from incessant hallucinations, a computer hacker goes on a blind date”
or
“A thousand years from now, a night watchman joins the Mafia”
I’m currently challenging myself with this one, “With only a week to live, an old lady with twenty cats is transported to another galaxy!”

This is one reason why there will always be bookshops no matter how big Amazon gets. I think ‘flickability’ is what will ultimately save bricks and mortar shops. Even Amazon’s ‘look inside’ does not stack up against having a book in your hand and flicking through the pages. I probably wouldn’t even have seen my story generator book on amazon, but I saw it straight away on the shelf, picked it up and had 10 minutes of good concentrated flicking and of course I bought it. I had to, it appealed to my sense of humour. At the same time I bought Terry Pratchett’s last Discworld novel “The Shepherd’s Crown”. Yes, I could have bought it cheaper online, but it was there, displayed front and centre and it was the first day of publication. As readers will know I’m a huge fan of the inimitable Sir Terry and the memory of buying his last book at Foyles will stay with me forever. Similarly despite having bought hundreds of books online over the years I only have memories of one purchase. It was in the mid-90s and I was making my very first international internet purchase. I bought ‘Your Money or Your Life’ by Joe Dominguez from Barnes & Noble in New York and cheering when it all went through smoothly. Incidentally spending money online did get easier as time went on – too easy and forgettable!

But my ‘in person’ book purchases were all memorable. I vividly remember queuing for hours outside a Horsham bookshop waiting to buy Sir Terry’s ‘Thief of Time’ with him there in person to sign it. The bookshop staff kept us fed with big boxes of sweets being passed up and down the queue.
Terry pratchett

Or the time Alan Titchmarsh regaled me at a book signing with anecdotes about his mate Russell Harty. I remember chatting to the beautifully elegant Bruce Oldfield about his book on fashion. He was my favourite designer at the time and I’m sure I was almost walking out backwards and curtseying at the same time!

bruce oldfield

How can you have experiences like these without bookshops? A YouTube video of an author signing just doesn’t cut it. Getting back to Charing X there are also glorious dusty second-hand bookshops on the road and a wonderful musical instrument shop selling mainly guitars. More flickability with some strumability thrown in for good measure. Note to self, Ukulele practice is long overdue!

Slainte

Linda xxx

Oh The Joy of Hairy Legs!

I never thought in a million years that I’d get so much pleasure from dragging my razor up and down my hairy legs!

As you know from previous posts chemotherapy ate all my body hair and I mean all of it Winking smile  So, although I was pleased not to have to shave my legs during the summer (remember those 2 sunny weeks we had in July?), and to be able to expose them on the beach without fear of censure from the body police, no hair was a constant reminder of the traumatic chemo treatment.

But now as the brave little heroes are popping up on my limbs, it also means they are doing the same on my head. It looks like my hair is coming through as a dark brown with lovely white Badger stripes above my forehead. I was hoping for silver all over but I’ll settle for the Badger look as they are one of my favourite animals. Although my head hair is just a gnat’s armpit above a quarter of an inch long it’s doing wonders for my morale that very soon I’ll be able to come home one day and chuck the wig on the sofa for the very last time.

I will spare you the photos of my hairy bits but I thought you might like to see a pic of the owner of the hairiest limbs ever

 

Orangutan6_468x340

and my hero, author Terry Pratchett with the inspiration for his famous Librarian of Discworld’s Unseen University.

 

terry pratchett orangutan

I’ve managed to knit a few more tea cosies and I’ve come up with a new design based on the House of Hufflepuff at Hogwarts School of Magic. The house colours are yellow and black and the mascot is a Badger so I combined all the elements to make this!

 

Hufflepuff Badger Tea Cosy

So far two Hufflepuff cosies have gone to Australia and another one has just gone to Sweden!

 

I’m also trying to stop myself from being turned into a chemo couch potato and I’ve got my eye on one of these

pink Pashley bicycle

I have a Mountain bike already but I have this weird fear of getting my legs trapped in the frame if I fall off it. A step through bike would be perfect. I used to have one of these when I was a teenager and I loved it. It was painted blue and grey and I cycled everywhere on it. I don’t think it had any gears so I did get a bit of a workout on it. Only just over a couple of hundred cosies to knit to raise the money to buy it!!! Better get knitting then!

 

Slainte

 

Linda xxx

Free Food…..almost!

A couple of days ago I found a till generated coupon for 84p on the ground in my local Tesco car park. I picked it up and filed it away in my purse for later use.

 

Later I had an idea that I’d give myself a project to see how much food I could buy for that 84p so in theory it would be food for free. Last night I nipped out to Tesco about the time they start reducing their food and slapping yellow stickers on the perishables. I was hoping that I could get a few reduced loaves of bread as I was running low on bread for the peanut butter sandwiches I put out for the foxes every evening. I was in luck, I managed to find 8 loaves (no fishes) with the most expensive ones costing 8p. Then I joined a little group of people who were waiting for the reduced veggies to come out. I got talking to a lovely old man who was waiting around and we had a great discussion on which supermarkets had the most discounts. He had been doing this for a long time and was definitely an expert in yellow sticker hunting. We were interrupted by a man standing close to the swing doors. With a big grin on his face he announced “Game On” and sure enough a few seconds later two big bins full of fruit and veggies were wheeled out and we all went diving in. I got parsnips, cauliflower and cucumber and two big bags of fresh veggie soup mixes. The soup mix bags weren’t that popular and it made me wonder if people didn’t want to be bothered to do the necessary cooking to make the soup. I was in my element as I love making soups.

 

I left then as I’d no need to wait for the meat to come out. I wished the old man happy hunting and with a big smile on my face set off for the self service tills. A couple of mins later with everything scanned and totted up and the 84p coupon applied I reached into my purse for the money to pay the excess which came to the grand total of 10p!!!!  Yes 10p!! Was so chuffed to get all this food which will keep me and the foxes going for some time for virtually nothing. Mission accomplished!!!

 

YS shopping

tesco receipt

 

Slainte

 

 

Linda xxxxx

They’re Everywhere!

Breast Cancer sufferers that is. I just found out that a lady who I’m mates with on Twitter has cancer and like me she gave up the chemo treatment, in fact she didn’t have any chemo at all and is now clear. Fabulous news for her and me. She’s also responsible for giving me my fix of cute kitten pictures! Oh and she’s a bloomin’ good writer with a great sense of humour to boot.

A while back I listed diet, de-stressing, exercise and lifestyle changes as the 4 things I would be concentrating on to beat this feckin’ disease, but I’d like to add one more element as well and that is humour. How can you feel or be ill when you are indulging in a huge belly laugh with your mates? For me it’s reading any of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books. That man’s writing has the capacity to totally soften my stiff upper lip and make me laugh out loud in crowded trains and possibly church, although I haven’t tried that last bit yet.. I’d also list the Monty Python films and TV series, Puckoon by Spike Milligan, Mrs Brown’s Boys, Father Ted, all the Carry On films, The Rocky Horror Show (Tim Curry in drag and the Time Warp!), Billy Connolly, Anne Robinson (yes really – she made me giggle all the way through the Weakest Link when I was a contestant on it a few years back).

Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Novels

Tim Curry
Cast of Father Ted

Norman Cousins’ story is often cited as a prime example of the curative property of humour. He was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis and was given a 1 in 500 chance of survival. He promptly fired his doctor, started taking massive doses of vitamin C and watched every funny film he could find. He managed to add 26 Years to his life since that first diagnosis. Not a bad result at all. I’d be happy with that!

The amazing Norman Cousins

Other things that make me laugh are creating quirky embroideries and what could be more quirky than a Flamingo in a cycle helmet riding a bicycle? I giggled all the way through making this one for my Etsy shop. It’s sort of a tribute to this year’s Tour de France! I hope it makes the eventual buyer laugh as well.

Cycling Flamingo Zippered Pouch

Slainte

Linda xxxx

Still Here Then?



I’m gradually fighting my way out of the chemo fog, my body is slowly being returned to my control. That bloody Taxotere drug has left me with quite a few side effects such as the need to go to the loo – immediately!!! And my poor burned hands and feet have shed their skin like a snake. I’ve put a pic of my poorly big toe at the end of this post – so if you are of a nervous disposition don’t read to the end!

I’ve been making up for lost sewing time now I’ve got my hands working again and have been making some embroidered pouches to stock my Etsy shop. BTW the government gives you absolutely no help whatsoever when you are self-employed and sick. This was another reason I had to give up chemo, I couldn’t afford to go on without any money coming in. Add up all the petrol money, car parking charges, taxi fares if you are too ill to drive, spent getting to the hospital with having to buy stuff that is not available on prescription and you have spent a small fortune! There is currently a petition going round to urge the Government to give Cancer patients disability status. This would certainly help us out, a blue badge for parking would help too. The number of times I’ve virtually had to drag myself so slowly across a supermarket car park while suffering the after effects of chemo and watched somebody who has just parked in a disabled parking space hop, skippety skip into the store. We really do need ‘equal status’.

Anyway I digress!  I love all the birdie designs that are around these days and I’ve made a few birdie inspired zippered pouches.

Also I couldn’t forget my adorable Daleks. Here they are facing each other ready to fight for leadership of Skaro their home planet!

I’ve been able to start knitting again, so hopefully I can get a decent amount of stock together for the Christmas rush (I’m being optimistic here!).

This is Tabikat wearing his Dinosaur hat I knitted specially for him, actually I knitted it for Lily but she wouldn’t wear it, so Tabikat was 2nd choice but don’t tell him that!
My lovely friends have sourced a bicycle for me and I’m looking forward to getting my strength back and going for some lovely country rides. I have been shown how to take the front wheel off so I can get it into the back of my car, but I may need some more practice with that with a few YouTube videos.
Well that’s me for now, watch out for the big toe picture coming up xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
See you soon,
Slainte xxxxxx

Why I’m Giving Up Chemotherapy

chemo drip

I’ve just finished session 4 of chemo. I’ve had 3 x sessions of FEC 100 and 1 x session of Taxotere and I can’t take anymore. My body is gradually being poisoned to death by these drugs which incidentally do not know the difference between good cells and bad cells. They wade in there and destroy everything leaving your body at severe, and I mean severe risk of infection which you can’t fight because they’ve also destroyed your white blood cells. I was proud of my immune system’s ability to rally and fight and now I find it is drastically compromised by these drugs.

I was given Taxotere last Wednesday and once the steroids I had to take as well had worn off I fell prey to diarrhoea on Sunday which has stayed with me to now.  A panicked call to the chemo unit on Sunday night invoked the response “Oh yes, Taxotere is known for that”. On describing the rest of my symptoms I was told to come in to hospital for assessment. When I said that I couldn’t drive myself and my neighbours were out, I was asked “Can’t you take a taxi?” I said I couldn’t afford the fares there and back. They refused to call an ambulance and advised me to call the Out of Hours Doctor on 111. When I went to bed on Sunday night crying my eyes out I was unsure if I was going to wake up the next morning.
Patients getting intravenous chemotherapy
In desperation this morning I contacted my fellow chemo chums on our Facebook group. Immediate replies from these amazing women told me to take Imodium straight away which I have done. In the 3 calls I have had with my chemo unit since Sunday night I was told to just keep up the fluid intake, not one single mention was made of taking Imodium. This is just one incident of the unsupportive nature of my regime. My oncologist has deigned to see me just once during the entire period of chemo, yet I know from my FB ladies that their Oncologists at the very least telephone them before each chemo session to discuss side effects, reduced doses etc. At my appointment the Oncologist spent more time looking at his computer screen than talking to me the human being. I asked him the question “Will I have another scan when chemo has finished? He said No, we got it all at the op. So really, what was the flipping point of chemo in the first place?  And the answer to that is, it is  Protocol and a Cash Cow. It doesn’t matter how the patient will cope with these toxins, just blindly follow Protocol laid down, one size fits all and pay the money to the Pharmaceutical Companies. Incidentally each patient on chemotherapy is worth £200,000 to the industry.

pharma truth

Well this patient has had enough, I know instinctively that my body will respond better to a diet wholly containing foods that are known to be anti-carcinogenic, exercise and a de-stressed lifestyle. My Oncologist wants to see me next week to discuss, I will speak to him and I will tell him that in 100 years time this form of cancer treatment will become known as the most ‘Barbaric Treatment of its Age’. It is sheer and utter hell and I for one am not taking it anymore.