Week of 4 December

Well I’m all tea’d out! The back of the Advent Calendar says to steep tea bags for 5 minutes. Too strong for my liking and so I’ve been able to ‘re-cycle’ them a couple of times before the days out. It’s a Chai day today! So in this time of Advent there have been 3 crafty events his week: a couple of crafty afternoons with paper folding and decoupage to make decorations. Mum came too and so we both got our fingers caked. In glue that is…Also Marion and I went to a wreath making evening at Shaw House with a florist where I made a round red themed table decoration. We don’t have a door knocker to hang a wreath from…. All great fun!

Staying Christmassy, Julia and I went to a snowy Stonor House to see the interior decorations which we very tastefully done by the owners. We heard that ‘’the short silver birch saplings were cut down in October still with their leaves and the base dunked in Milton’’. Then they were put in a terracotta pot of plaster of paris to set before being decorated. The long gallery look quite magical with these decorated saplings running down one side. Here we are with our coffee and I had a slice of coffee and walnut cake.  There’s a tree behind with kitchen themed decorations.  Just hope they left something in the drawers for the chef to stir the soup with..

Also this week Julia, Jenny and I met to see the Turner exhibition in the Basingstoke museum and here we are having a coffee and a natter. I chose a Victoria Sponge and a very nice one it was too.  It was bedlam in town and I was disappointed to see that Vitality health food shop’s gone. Without a ‘move to…’ sign I assume then that their finances weren’t healthy!

Well the non-cake highlight was our Concorde Champagne Day where we sat on board the Brooklands Concorde with a fluted glass full listening to Carole one of the stewardesses spilling the beans. Mike Bannister the Chief Pilot and last to fly Concorde to Filton was there too and we sat in the cockpit with him.  After our 3 course lunch (taken from a menu in 1989) we had an interesting presentation including unseen footage taken by Mike from the cockpit on the Golden Jubilee flyby. A great day and made memorable by the beautiful autumn sun and cloudless blue sky. Catch the second part to a programme on Concorde on ITV Monday at 9pm.

Cheers to a peaceful and safe Advent in this spell of cold and icing weather….

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Week of 27 November

Am I the only person to not know about Arnica? It helps reduce bruising and inflammation. And yes, there was a little incident this week. Lindsey, Marion, Jan and I went up the 332 narrow, twisting stone and wooden caged stairs of Salisbury Cathedral Tower to see the Christmas lights from the top at twilight. The resident peregrine falcon gave us a flypast whilst up there. No, you can stop visualising a tumble in the tower… We made it up the 21 floors that Lindsey’s app told us we had achieved and back down for a cream tea with huge scones and huge kilner jars full of jam and another with clotted cream. After scoffing that we listened to the choristers do evensong beautifully! A brilliant day, then I tripped up the kerb on the way back to the car park!

Some might say it was the cherries soaked in kirsch that came with my chocolate cake earlier in the day or perhaps I shouldn’t have enjoyed all the wine, liqueur and gin tastings at the Christmas market earlier! Arnica’s amazing stuff. I brushed down my coast and wiped my handbag and I was left puzzling why the Gods want me to know about Arnica…The leg was fine to walk on the following day when Marion, Lindsey, Jan, Judy and myself went to Waddesdon for the Christmas market stalls, gaze upon the interior decorations, scoff more afternoon tea and watch the night time light effects on the house. The afternoon tea’s here come with a plate of delicious savouries which we had devoured before this photo of the cake selection was taken….And they throw in a glass of prosecco too…

Waddesdon has to be the winner of the Eat Cake Be Happy Awards 2017 for best afternoon tea!!

So I have opened the first few doors on my cup cake Advent calendar. No joking! It’s a tea bag Advent calendar. A tasteful (in more ways than one) calendar from Fortnums in a beautiful box with exotic teas like Rose Pouchong. Also this week, to get us in the Advent spirit we attended the local Christmas Concert in aid of a new cancer centre at the local hospital and Macmillan; it’s always attended by the local great and good. You have to get there very early for an un-interrupted view of the stage. Which we didn’t as we were having an early dinner at Cote. This is the final year and they pulled out the stops with a fab choir, readings and the familiar carols that everyone can belt out. We had the Queens Physician speak who on retirement was knighted as a KCVO. I’m just sorry I won’t be able to do something similar for my Oncologist when he retires….

Now, a commentator on my current Future Learn course on cancer made an interesting observation about a study into the glucose that feeds cancer. You know how everyone talks about don’t eat sugar so you don’t feed the cancer. Well this study explains that the glucose source comes from amino acids in our diets. Well, I’ve not heard that before and it sounds quite complex. There’s already a theory that the glucose comes from starchy carbs in our diet and that a keto diet reduces those levels. There could be something in the latter as the western diet does involve a lot of bread, potatoes and pasta and less of the anti-cancer green leaf veg which actually provide us with fibre too.

So the odd cake would still be OK??

 

Week of 20 November

I have started a sister blog called Gone to Pot which spouts the merits of the legal Cannabis CBD Oil. I have more continuous sleep since taking drops last thing and my tendonitis in my hand has gone! However, I tweeked my hand getting the seat belt on yesterday and so I used it again last night to have the tendonitis disappear in the morning. And the tumour grew back less in the 3 months between July and October compared to the previous 3 months when I wasn’t taking it. Each time I find out something new and try something new myself it will get blogged.

https://gonetopotblogblog.wordpress.com/

I’ve been thinking about cutting down on the sugar and indeed this week there are less cake highlights to share with you. My mind and mouth are saying that I will cut down but the eyes and the fingers aren’t completely in synch! In fact, unusually I had dessert this week – twice infact -…The Supper Club ladies Alex, Marion, Pam, Maureen, Eileen, Val and myself met at Café Rouge which has re-introduced its mini desserts.  So we succumbed and I had the mini chocolate mousse. Then Jeremy and I had a special 3 course lunch at Esseborne Manor and it was lemon posset for dessert and vanilla macarons with white chocolate filling with the coffee! Heaven! The food there is exquisite.  Jenny, Julia and myself were more constrained when we met in Farnham at Brasserie Blanc by finishing with just a coffee!  Thanks for the lovely cranberry loaf Julia.  It was delicious even without  butter.

Whilst seeing Alan, the hypnotherapist, I went to the Sefton Tea Room to find they are closing in December to make way for new houses; yes houses not horses – the current residents will be relocated. Here I had a slice of chocolate cake which had apricot filling. A nice combination. Alan told me about Battlers Green Farm Shopping Outlet just 10 minutes from him. There’s an Osprey shop and a cafe!  A great combination! So next time I’ll check out both!

I went to St Mary’s Bazaar on Saturday and bought Judy’s home made cup cakes to take home. Delicious. Hope the event raised lots!

The non-cake highlight and highlight of the week was our tour of the MINI Plant in Cowley. Jeremy and I had booked online a 2 hour walking tour around the body shop and production line. It was fascinating. There are over 1000 robots in the body shop making MINI’s to order; they are quite mesmerising to watch. Then on the snaking production line we watched the (human) teams with their unique responsibilities working on cars as the latter moved along the slow conveyor belt. The computers were set up to send the relevant part to the teams at the exact time they required it, which was amazing as every car was different to the next. If I was a geeky hacker I’d love to hack in to the computer system there and get the teams making multi-coloured hydrids for the day! Anyway I’ve chosen the next MINI – just have to make sure I’m still here in 2020 and that my current lease arrangement expires before I do!!

I learnt some interesting things this week. It’s the white pith in oranges that is anti-cancer so put the whole lot into the smoothie maker (wash it with apple cider vinegar and water if not an organic orange and after add some ground almonds to help with taste). And Coconut Oil is good for preventing colon cancer; rather than wait until the next quarterly scan to introduce the change I got Vita CoCo from Holland and Barrett to take with the morning Vit D pill. Some pills say take with food – they could mean ‘take with fatty food’ to aid max absorption.

So the mornings look like:

  • Large glass of chlorella with one bromelain pill;
  • CBD oil drops;
  • cup of anti-inflammatory tea;
  • breakfast (hard boiled egg or toast or all bran and berries)
  • teaspoon coconut oil;
  • Vit D pill with Vit A in water then blood thinner pill
  • Black coffee

Ready to go…

Week of 13 November

So the topic of fake news is back in the media.  Mum and I received fake news about a delightful tea room in the village of Steventon (Jane Austen’s village) that didn’t actually exist.  The Highgrove visitor told us not to bother with the rather under rated village pub but head for the quaint village tea room!  I drove around and finally asked a resident dawdling along the verge, who said, ”We’d love a tea room here but we don’t have one yet.” Strange.

Nothing fake about the beautiful blue skies, sunshine and wonderful autumn colours this week.  Shirley and I visited Westonbirt Arboretum and there was still plenty of vibrant shades and tints of orange, yellow and red to see.  We followed both trails around the estate, enjoyed some soup sitting on the café balcony and then we headed for Tetbury where we had tea and cake in Quales.  I had a very almondy and delicious bakewell tart.

   

I met Sue in Reading and we sat out on the deck of the Whittington Tea Barge on the River Thames.  Incidently, we drank coffee! And I had a slice of coffee and tiramisu cake.  Nice! For somewhere so small they had the biggest selection of sponge cake varieties I’ve seen. We sat out and I found myself peeling off the layers like an onion – the sun still had some power to it.  We followed the cake with a walk along the towpath doing our upmost to avoid the copious amount of Canadian Geese poo on the path. Otherwise this was a delightful part of Reading…

So the Regency Aquarinas met up at the Pineapple Palace after a quick swim for a cuppa and natter.  We all rather miss our Saturday morning classes since the Leisure Club have changed the timetable. A number of us went for Debbie’s Courgette and Lime loaf.  It had a nice limey flavour and my taste buds loved the icing…

A non-cake highlight this week was when Mum, I, Marion and Lindsey went to a floral demonstration where this very talented guy made some ginormous floral arrangements whilst telling amusing stories for 2 hours.  It was lovely to watch.  Very therapeutic. None of us won the raffle though. Shame!

So I started some Christmas shopping and popped into Angelica’s for a cup of tea before heading home as the gloom was descending.  My eyes beholded a chocolate and orange sparkle cake!  My hands had to buy it!  It was the most delicious, moist and tangy cake.  It is a contender for the Eat Cake Be Happy Blog Cake Awards of 2017…

 

 

Week of 6 November

Have you dropped a clanger? For ultimate wellbeing we should drop a clanger a day so says Dr Phil Hammond. Sounds so like a Daily Mail headline. Love it. CLANGER is an acronym of the following:

  • C – connect with people
  • L – learn something new
  • A – (get) active
  • N – notice the things around you and savour the moment
  • G – give thanks for something
  • E – eat well
  • R – relax

Well this week, Julia and I connected (that’ s C done) and visited Mottisfont this week. The sun was shining and the colours of the leaves were spectacular (that’s an N out of the way).

Whilst there we have a guided visit of the house and learnt (L) about the owner and her wartime diary entries. We walked the muddy track along the River Test which was flowing quite fast. (That must be an A and another N). We had time for a coffee and a tiffin (beautiful icing) before our timed tickets to the Kaffe Fassett exhibition, which was well worth the journey, and then lunch before departing to the farm shop in the next village (E) to get Jeremy’s dinner. Thanks Julia for the lovely ginger and lemon tray back.  Delicious. (That just leaves an R – relax? – no time for that!). Just goes to show that a day out with a girlfriend is good for your health!

Jeremy and I shared a cake at the Blue Café before meeting with Dr Jackson. My eyes fell in love with a tripe decker Victoria Sponge. It was a huge slice – I could never have finished that off on my own!  Dr Jackson’s matter of fact approach (last post) rather de-railed us and I had my first major melt down since receiving the prognosis last April.  But after a big dose of hemp oil (omega 3) and a pep talk from my mother, my spirits were lifted and in 48 hours was back on track…

We dropped more CLANGERS when went to Cambridge to visit Jeremy’s father for a couple of nights. We saw the American Madingly Cemetery appropriately on 11/11 and the Degas exhibition the following day at Fitzwilliam Museum. We popped in to Fitzbillies café which is THE place to go in Cambridge and I had a date and granola slice. Slightly healthy!

It was nice to catch up with Helen, Andy and Sarah over dinner while we were in the area. Before heading home we took Kenneth on the ‘guided bus’.  No, no dogs involved. A driver and bus that travel the old railway line to St Ives (Huntingdon this time) which is a lovely little place with so much character and set beside the Great Ouse River.  The old bridge unusually has a medieval chapel on it – one of 4 in the UK apparently.

Judging from the shops, Christmas is next week..

Putting a positive spin on it…

There’s nothing like seeing Dr Jackson and getting a reality check – a reminder that this is palliative care… So the tumour has grown. Dr J measured it on the latest scan image (Oct) and in the 3 months since the last quarterly scan (July) it has grown around 1cm. Putting a positive spin on it – that is 50% less than the 3 months prior (Apr to July) when Mr Cecil measured the re-growth as 2cm!

Is that the cannabis CBD oil? I started that in July!

So we have agreed to delay the next round of chemo as I feel fine and have no physical symptoms. I’ll have another quarterly scan in January 2018 and see him again two weeks after that for the results. However, should I have any pain then I contact him immediately to start chemo!

With some good news we have opened a bottle of bubbly that I purchased from Waddesdon earlier in the year. Cheers! And opened some nuts to stop the sugar spike….

What will I do differently in the coming 3 months? Nothing. But I think I will review the amount of sugar I ingest (from tomorrow when the bottle is empty)…

Week of 30 October

Our invitation to Clarence House for a private shopping event in aid of Prince Charles’ Charitable Foundation arrived weeks ago. The 2 November finally arrived and it was the highlight of the week!  We were early and stopped at Café Concerto for a cuppa and I had a strawberry macaron served on a cute cake stand.

Then we turned up at Clarence House (bumped into Dame Judy Dench on her way out) to a friendly welcome, glass of champagne and a dinky mince pie. The merchandise was in the Queen Mum’s drawing room, the library and dining room. No photos permitted. My favourite was the the Drawing Room with its pale blue walls hung with oil paintings of royals over time, pale blue silk curtains and two displays of fine porcelain either side of the fireplace.  In the dining room I spotted a John Piper painting, due to his unique dreary style, and then spotted a whole lot more.  The Queen Mum had commissioned these paintings of war time Windsor castle,  in case it was bombed to oblivion.  Did we buy anything, you say? We spent enough to receive a complimentary humongous jute bag. We liked the champagne and so bought a bottle but when we got to the Walkie Talkie tower later in the day, we unfortunately couldn’t take it up to Level 35 – the Sky Garden. Not permitted. So Jeremy went up alone – I have been up there with Ruth – and when he re-appeared we headed off across the river to Floor 35 of the Shard where we both took in the rather hazy view from there! They weren’t so fussy!

Also this week, I had a lovely few days in Dorset with Sue at her holiday retreat. We met at Poundbury (HRH’s rather soulless village). It was refreshing not to see aerials, satellite dishes and dustbins but it lacks character and colour: no front gardens, no hanging baskets nor window boxes. We also visited Charmouth where we went fossil hunting. I found some specimens reminiscent of some found as a child and stored for years in a tin. The curator at the museum there explained one was ‘’beef rock and 200 million years old’’, another ‘’quartz and 100 million years old’’ and a colourful one with copper deposits was ‘’50 million years old’’. The dates are mind blowing. Sue found a colourful rock and was told it was ‘concrete and about 50 years old’. Did we laugh!  Of course, being by the sea meant there was plenty of fish on the menus for dinner! Local scallops, crab and sea bass. Delicious. We had some fine autumn weather for our couple of days and I toodled back home via Wareham, Studland and Sandbanks.

  Margie kindly gave me a couple of guest vouchers for the Regency Leisure Club to use the pool and as a thank you I took her to the Mug and Brew where I had a slice of Lemon Drizzle Cake (made like a Vic sponge) and very zingy lemon curd filling! I think the loaf version of this recipe is best though…

I’ve been mulling over the sermon we had from our new vicar Becky this week. She had told the congregation of ‘a newly married couple arriving very late and tired at their hotel. They found their room rather small, dark and with a sofa bed. In the morning they spoke to the Manager who said, ‘but that’s the lobby to your suite! Why did you sleep in the lobby?’ They had missed the doors that opened to a fantastic room with stunning views. Well Becky’s version had a religious link to it but I thought how many of us stay in the confines of ‘the lobby of our suite’ and don’t venture further. And how if we pushed ourselves to investigate beyond our self-made boundaries how much more enriched and fulfilled our lives would be. I’d like to think that this year, with all the research and online courses, I have nudged open the door, stepped inside and checked out the mini bar!  Looking forward to more thought provoking sermons from Becky…

Week of 23 October

”It’s all cake, holiday, cake, holiday!”, joked Jeremy.  Yes, guiltyyy!   This simple formula plus the therapies, supplements and exercise is working though.  I’m still here and approaching 19 months since the prognosis and 11 months since chemo with still no physical symptoms. Hurrah! Sadly, this week 20 years ago my father died of bowel cancer aged 60.  But since then, I see from the Future Learn online cancer related courses, that science has and is moving in leaps and bounds.  I keep an eye on trials for one I could qualify for and there is plenty happening for the 200+ cancer types around. This is great news for the future generations.

The other ‘C’ word is cake! I was at the hospital for my CT scan; they had trouble finding a vein, ”your veins are very thin”.  The rest of me isn’t!   I got a puncture in both arms in the end and got through it visualising the chocolate cake I was going to treat myself to afterwards.  It was the gooiest triple decker I’ve had in ages. A bunch of enthusiastic dentists sat at the next table discussing teeth health. I heard: ”Your teeth are nice” ”Oh but I like yours”….Note to self: brush teeth 30 minutes after eating cake. Is that practical?

Saw Alan the hypnotherapist this week for a new visualisation. I had a positive test for RAS wildtype last year and it was this week I learnt, on my online course, that the pesky protein had been promoting cell division resulting in the tumour.  The online course lecturer described it as ‘a switch stuck in the on position’.  A great concept for a visualisation.  I was early for our appointment and went to the Sefton Tea Room first.  I tiptoed up the stairs to avoid disturbing the horses in training, closed the door of the café behind me and the waitress said, ”good morning, how many of you are there?”.  ”Err one!” ”Well you can sit where ever you like”.  So I can – it’s empty!  I chose a slice of the rocky road cake which looked better under its dome…

Well, Carolyn and I had a catchup and celebrated her birthday at the Tea Cosy.  Here we are.  I chose a slice of The Friday Cake!  YUM! Really YUM! And yes it was on Friday.  I only had space for soup when I met Anne Marie later for lunch at The Flower Pot.  We both had the healthy and hearty vegetable soup.

                       

Also this week was the Didcot Food festival organised by Christine Wallace from GBBO.  (We’ve been to her house for Bake with Me sessions). She had her friends from GBBO, Great British Menu, Masterchef and BBC Oxford there.  It was very well organised with a variety of stalls and non-stop demonstrations. 

Julia and I were the first to arrive and met up with Sue and Janet later.  Here we are tucking into Red Velvet Cake  and 6 hours later finished the day with a cuppa before heading home.  The demonstrations were fab, we had front row seats and I got to meet the wickedly funny Candice.  Neither Charles nor Jeremy knew of Candice but they know of Caprice!!  Funny that..

So I uncovered a sermon written by my grandfather and published in October 1938 which I have posted under Wellbeing.  Even though it is 80 years old it has resonance today-about taking pleasure in silence.  I feel so lucky you know.  I met some people on a focus panel this week still taking anti-depressants years after their cancer diagnosis. ”My body’s let me down”.  No, your brain has….

Week of 16 October

Just blown in from St Ives, Cornwall where I had a short break with Julia and Storm Brian.  We went to see Barbara Hepworth’s Garden before they close it at the end of the month for conservation and to see the re-vamped Tate.  We stayed at the Harbour Hotel and Spa which is a lovely hotel above Porthminster beach and undergoing renovation too.  The receptionist didn’t know her rooms and our twin was infact a double.  So after carting our luggage to the room and back again and then being told ”there were no twin rooms available” and ” but it is a king size mattress”.  I smiled repeating, ”but we booked a twin”.  Would she ask 2 business men to share a bed? No.  This was like a red rag to a bull…  We were gasping. I was after complimentary tea  which the restaurant manager provided rather too willingly.  So when asked ‘would you like anything else?” I smiled ”do you have scones?”.  So we tucked into an afternoon tea in the lounge admiring a great seaview!! Anyway, we had someone else’s sea view twin room as they still hadn’t checked in….More scones required chef…

Yes, I did eat cake and here I am with a wonderful Jaffa Cake in the Olive Café.  Here are their homemade cakes. The café is situated in narrow streets where once old fishermen’s cottages now holiday cottages with links to the past – Pilchards, Red Sails, The Wreck, etc – are and many varied artists studios, including the Olive Café….I did make a purchase in Mike Lacey’s shop (the underwater photographer).

We enjoyed exploring, we enjoyed Barbara Hepworth’s garden and we enjoyed the Tate.  We enjoyed walking to Carbis Bay in the sunshine (wearing my newly purchased dotty Tate Cape for extra protection from the expected Storm Brian). We enjoyed dining at eateries with ‘Beach’ in the title!   The 3 Beach Cafés and Beach Restaurant.  There was the super supper of fish tapas or just fish fish.. Storm Brian finally arrived yesterday (Saturday) as the sun went down and the high tide was due. Sea, sand and sea weed got chucked over the sea walls and roads. However, at 8.30 am council workers and businesses were clearing up and when the tourists disgorged from my train home they saw a pristine town.

How could I forget, Julia and I did a fun Bake with Me session with Christine Wallace (an earlier quarterfinalist from GBBO) earlier in the week at her house.  We made 5 different – no not cakes but – tasty canapés….Guess what Jeremy had for dinner??

 

Week of 9 October

Ha, Ha, Ha.  Christine and I went to a free Laughter Workshop.  Te, He, He.  I’m still laughing about it. It was bonkers!  Laughter does have health benefits though; it creates serotonin which lifts your mood and boosts the immune system.  My jaw ached after so I must have produced litres of the stuff or does it come in grams??  At the Pink Place last week Debbie, who works there, was interested in my research I’ve filtered from the web on boosting our immune system so she can cascade it to other clients.  The bulleted list is now a new page under ‘Wellbeing’.

No exotic travels this week. So it has been back to the oxygen and juicing therapies.  It’s 2 weeks before the next scan so I feel the need for a last minute concentrated effort.  In Tesco, I saw a pile of reduced organic broccoli for mere pennies and have been overdosing on broccoli juice.  My taste buds have been  screaming, ‘just die cancer die’ so I treated them and my eyes to a delicious Chocolate and Mint Bundt at the Pineapple Palace when I was there with Alex, Maureen and Marion.  It was beautifully presented. Debbie (a different Debbie) had followed a Hummingbird Bakery recipe using, of all things, mayonnaise to ensure it is moist.  And it was! Yum!

Mum, Jeremy and I popped into the Black Beauty Café at the ‘Home of Rest for Horses’! We were supporting the Horse Trust in Bucks where we met the Met and Military’s retired horses along with other residents.  They’d had very impressive careers. It was a super outing which I can highly recommend for all age groups.  Here we are sipping tea from attractive pottery and tucking into coffee and walnut cake. An excellent combination as the protein in the nuts prevent a sugar spike!

So other cake eating exploits included a Mixed Berry Vic Sponge at the Blue Café.  I was at the hospital for a blood test required ahead of the scan.  The sponge was a drier texture more like a madeira cake but lots of butter cream and berries:)  I always read the Daily Mail while I am there and my stars that day said ‘you’ve come so far and achieved so much that you deserve a moment to admire your hard work’.   Well so I will! As it’s the Daily Mail it must be true….

Also, Mum and I were at Angelica’s building up our strength ahead of carpet choosing.  Her recently painted hall and stairs look fab, we have asked Michael, the decorator, to quote for our house too.  Anyway, I had the lemon drop sponge.  Have I ever said, I never take the end piece in case it has dried out.  This slice was slightly bigger too and very zingy! Nice! We chose Mum’s carpet quite quickly!  Sugar isn’t supposed to help you make clear decisions…

Onto the non-cake highlight of the week: Marion, Judy and I attended a lovely soiree at the beautiful circular Falkland Islands Memorial Chapel (it’s been 35 years! Doesn’t seem it. Where’s the time gone?).  Here the 255 men and 3 Island ladies are remembered in this National Monument.  There were stunning flower arrangements, angelic eye-watering singing and piano recitals including one from the vicar along with prosecco and exquisite little canapés.  I’m attending a canapé making workshop next week and I rather hope they are going to be a little bigger…