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..

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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 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…

Week of 11 September

If you are a fan of the GBBO, then you may remember Christine Wallace from Didcot who was a Quarterfinalist from the first series.  She opened my first craft fair back in 2014.  Well she does ‘bake with me’ workshops from her kitchen.  So Sue (who lives round the corner from her) and I made macarons: a scrumptiously scrumptious salted caramel with a gooey caramel filling and a deliciously delicious raspberry with white chocolate ganache filling:)  Here’s Sue with the orange coloured salted caramel ones.  YUM! Sue managed to keep her apron immaculate unlike me.  I just get food colouring everywhere…

         

A top tip we learnt was to limit use of wooden spoons as they could harbour fatty deposits and are definitely no good for meringue making nor for stirring caramel ingredients; use a metal spoon for these. 

I did a second workshop this week: wired jewellery making.  It was a lovely couple of hours and I have mastered the art of using pliers to make round loops which are key to wired jewellery making. So I went away with some dangly earrings and a couple of bracelets.  Dead easy when you know how!

Jeremy, Mum and I popped into the Yew Tree garden centre and we had a coffee with a little star shaped shortbread biscuit.  A nice idea for a little something sweet to go with the coffee. Jeremy and I were back at Basingstoke Hospital this week and, in the Blue Café, I had a super chocolaty chocolate brownie before our meeting with Mr Cecil.  The Arc Centre was preparing for an auction that evening of all the painted bookbenches – part of the ‘Sitting with Jane’ idea celebrating Jane Austen – in aid of their cancer charity.

Mum and I had a coffee and shared (a term used loosely as I had the lion’s share) a slice of Victoria Sponge at Angelica’s.  It was a lovely golden colour and very moist with just the right balance of jam and buttercream filling.  It spurred us on to look at their range of carpets for her hall and stairs…

The cake highlight though was at my favourite place in Newbury: The Tea Cosy.  Here is my slice of the very decadent Chocolate Bar Cake. 

Thank you Penny. I’m sure it was my turn to pay.  The cake was constructed with Kit Kat bars decorating the top and bigger one propped up all round the sides of a fabulous chocolate sponge with caramel.  It was scrumptious!

There’s certainly nothing wrong with my energy levels, which shows my immune system is functioning perfectly well.  In addition to the above, I had yoga, tap dancing, 2 aqua aerobics classes, an aqua zumba class, aromatherapy, reflexology and reiki this week! My current lifestyle is all about feeding and nurturing my immune system.  As soon as I start to get periods of tiredness, I’ll know that my immune system is struggling to cope with the growing cancer.  But on that note, mulling over Mr Cecil’s conversation (see last blog entry) Jeremy had asked him about the original tumour (Dr Jackson had reported it as being of ‘no worry’ and ‘it’s stable’).  Mr Cecil, who as a surgeon uses CT scans all the time, said in a long reply, that ‘the CT scan doesn’t give enough detail’ ….and in another sentence, ‘cancer can just disappear’….  Looking back, was he saying that the original tumour had shrunk/gone?  As a medic, he’s hardly likely to admit it as it means the complementary therapies have worked…  Interestingly, CT scans give enough detail that someone can be declared as ‘’all clear’’.  I’ll question it more when I have the next quarterly scan which is actually due in 4 weeks.

Must go and pack now for the next adventure…

Week of 28 August

Ever been to a tea room in a stud? I went for coffee and cake in the Sefton Tea Room prior to my appointment with Alan the hypnotherapist. I had a slice of Kay’s double decker coffee cake. She had covered the sides with coffee icing too and drizzled thin lines of chocolate all over. It looked lovely but she had kept it in the chiller cabinet so the sponge and filling was more solid than had it been displayed under a dome! I received meticulous service there. Must have thought I was an inspector! Not the first time that has happened. Then I spotted the sign on the way downstairs to the exit: ‘Please be quiet on the stairs. Horses training’. No wonder I had got a long hard stare from a rider from under his hat. I was wearing my clip clop leather soled shoes on the wooden stairs!

I see Alan the hypnotherapist once a month now for a ‘top up’ . Like the Heineken advert, he can reach parts (deep into the unconscious mind) that I can’t reach. This week, I also went to hear a talk about Future Life Progression from a hypnotherapist and found it very interesting and a little emotional. He did some exercises with the group and the techniques to relax us were the same as Alan but with a different planned outcome John asked our unconscious minds questions: ‘’what can you see?’’ I’ve update the hypnotherapy pages if you’re interested.

So the highlight this week was the summer clan gathering comprising 3 generations. It was a lovely day; we were able to spend it in the garden with a lovely BBQ and some games.  It’s been nice enough weather this week to sit out with a cuppa and listen to the birds twittering from the shrubs, bees humming in the Himalayan Honeysuckle along with the frenetic whining wasps.  Noticed what noisy flyers pigeons are?

Guess where I had this fab chocolate brownie? Recognise the plates yet? The Blue Café at Basingstoke hospital! The chef had added pistachio nuts – different.  Liked the chocolaty bits best!  I returned to see Dr Jackson who had discussed my case with the surgeon Mr Cecil. The result is that I am going to see Mr Cecil next month. If I don’t have surgery then Dr Jackson advises that the next round of chemo would be Irinotecan with fluorouracil and folinic acid!

Anyway I’m preparing for another adventure so I’ve more interesting things to think about right now!!

Week of 14 August

You know, you have to deal with whatever s**t life throws at you – (see last post) – and just carry on. So today I went to a cartoon drawing workshop (2 kiddies and 8 big kids) where we started by drawing animals and then on to people. Then Simon did a cartoon of me! Haha

     

It was a lovely morning and I enjoyed a fiendishly, fudgey and filling fudge cake served by the Stockcross Village Shop. Then I went clothes shopping! Very therapeutic!

This week, Jeremy and I did a walk that took in the Wittenham Clumps, a spot favoured by artists. We walked through a lovely arboretum owned by the Earth Trust which had 50 species of trees and shrubs native to Oxfordshire. There was an upright apple tree with great red baubles for apples – it positively glowed from a distance. I felt like Eve in the Garden of Eden being propelled to this inviting tree and helping myself! They were delicious (Eat Apple. Be Happy!) It was a steep climb to the top of a Clump which we did together without stopping and well worth the view. Jeremy and I also went to the Hawk Conservancy this week. Their displays are excellent and there’s much to keep you amused all day.  Our favourites are the owls.  We chose a dry day fortunately as we knew the birds of prey would not want to soar very high in the rain….

On to cake highlights. I ate rocky road twice this week! Once at the flower arranging afternoon at St Georges. Here’s a picture of Mum and I with Ann and Fenisia.  It was a random conversation that Fenisia and I once had where we found out we had both lived in Raynes Park. Her dad and brother had hairdressing salons there and Mum and I went to her father’s salon. I was a small child and it was her Aunt Rosina who cut my hair – very, very short l add. What a small world! It was a fun afternoon and I gave my arrangement to Pat my reflexologist who I saw later in the day.

Then the second rocky road (and the tastiest) was at the café in the Willis Museum with Julia and Jenny. Yes , that is a rocking horse in the corner! We went on the Jane Austen trail around central Basingstoke in the sunshine finding some quite nice parts of Basingstoke we didn’t know….

I stopped at the Blue Café when at the hospital but it was nearly closing time and  the choice of cake was limited and I  chose a shortbread to nibble on whilst reading the newpaper headlines waiting for Jeremy to arrive.  Then we went onto see Dr Jackson after.

Also, I met up with Mum this week in Angelica’s.  I went straight from my aromatherapy session (it’s my third free one and I said to Anthea that I would continue with her sessions after the last freebe) so my skin was glistening and my hair greasy. I think I looked like I’d been caught in a rain storm!  There, my eyes fell in love with the Angel Sparkle cake…

 

 

 

 

Week of 24 July

Don’t Give Up! said the invitation to a Jehovah’s conference lying on the doormat.  I needed those 3 words; my focus has been faultering in the lead up to my second quarterly scan.  Dr Jackson’s voice has been ringing in my ears ”the cancer will grow back in 4-6 months”.  It is now 7 months.  So it felt like a  personal message to get me back on track.

Whilst at the hospital for the scan this week, I popped into the Blue Café and had the first slice of their gluten free carrot cake….Yum!

But the two high points this week were: the ‘flight’ on the Brooklands Concorde and a visit to the RA Summer Exhibition! Ron and Liz are members of Brooklands and we joined them to look around the huge number of exhibits there.  The learned volunteers make interesting listening and consequently lots to absorb.  Whilst there, we had a gander inside Mercedes Benz World next door – like everyone else.  But the best was sitting inside Concorde and experiencing the multi-sensory simulation of a take-off!  The next day, Fiona and I attended the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy.  Another lovely day. We wandered round the rooms with a very civilised glass of sparkling wine in one hand and a guide book in the other critiquing the exhibits.  A couple of hours viewing required some sustenance in the tea room after with a delicious Gooey Chocolate Cake!

I met up with Carolyn this week for a catch up at the Yew Tree Garden Centre and had the first slice of their Lemon Drop cake.  Very moist. Very zingy!

Also this week, Mum and I continued with the Jane Austen trail and found another couple of ‘bookbenches’.  One was at the Old Basing Tythe Barn – one of the largest Tythe Barns in the UK. Then onto Viables Craft Centre where we stopped at the delightful tea rooms there and shared an enormous slice of toffee cake.  I’ve never seen so many freshly baked cakes on display. Funnily, it was empty of people when we arrived yet the waitress said, ”have you booked?” and ” I’ll just have to check if we have a table”.  Fortunately, we were squeezed into the empty tea room successfully!

         

I’ve been very lucky to get 4 free aromatherapy sessions agreed by the Newbury and District Cancer Care Trust and had my second this week.  I arrived for it already feeling very chilled from the session at the Global Retreat the day before so no surprise I floated out after the massage…

Week of 19 June

Well a week of ups and downs!  The temperature for one: 30 to 14 degrees (a windy Windermere yesterday)!  Also, Jeremy went off walking the Lakeland fells to recharge his batteries, so lots of ups and downs there too and unfortunately on his last fell of the week – fell…so we had an unexpected tour passing the Sellafield plant to Whitehaven A & E.  He had his wound glued together and some strips applied plus his hand was xrayed and found to be OK.  Bizarrely, 3 black cats ran out in front of our car on the  journey from Greendale to Whitehaven and back and even Jeremy thought that was an omen…

Here he is, the following day at the Ravensglass miniature railway café – you might just be able to see the strips on his head.  We shared a lush lemon meringue pie before heading off on a leisurely ride to Boot where we lunched.  Lakeland Lamb Henry – delicious! We stayed in a cottage in a remote part of West Cumbria close to the beautiful Wastwater.  I stayed for 3 nights having got the train mid-week and thoroughly enjoyed the ride from Lancaster. Some beautiful scenery.  It sparked the idea of a Favourite Journeys page.

                   

Earlier in the week I had a blood test at Basingstoke Hospital and so I had a slice of Lemon and Poppy Seed cake in the Blue Café. Very nice! Then there was the lush Victoria Sandwich at The Saddlebacks Farm Shop with lovely views over the fields but a swarm of little black insects attached themselves and it wasn’t such a pleasant place after all….Then today Marion, Judy and I went to the West Woodhay Garden Fair and I had a slice of cherry filled Victoria Sandwich. Scrummy…..

Hopefully there is less drama next week….

Week of 1 May

Well the high point of this week was a high point!  Literally!  Julia, Jenny and I went to Portsmouth for some retail therapy and had afternoon tea at the top of the Spinnaker Tower.  The fruit scones were the best I’d had in a long time; squared shaped with a crunchy sugar coating. As for the cakes, we had a selection of bite size goodies including macarons which I love!  The booking said we had only 1.5 hours which goes surprising quickly as we were mesmerized watching the vessels below us come and go.  Unfortunately, the lady on the next table had a tea port dropped on her by a waitress who hadn’t balanced the tray correctly.  Not nice.

       

Sue and I met this week for a catchup at the Herb Farm in Sonning where we started with coffee and cake and stayed long enough to include lunch too!  It wasn’t the easiest of places to find and I had expected some signs but no.  I resorted to asking a horse rider as my sat nav had me on a wild goose chase….The horse wasn’t going to stop so my car crawled alongside so I could hear the rider’s directions!  With the saxon maze, the gardens and the shop, time flew.  They had a wonderful section of cakes.  My small slice of lime and courgette cake made up for its diminutive size with its great flavour but I still secretly coveted Sue’s huge slice of coffee and walnut cake (bottom row in the picture)!

       

Jeremy and I ticked off another White Horse Walk this week – the Broad Town Horse south of Swindon which is a little traversed walk judging from the great clumps of grass and mature nettles.  Another time of year it would be a quagmire.  The surprise was finding a huge swathe of woodland under planted with blossoming wild garlic as far as the eye could see.

I had a CT scan (with contrast)  this week and finally got to eat at 11.15am so what did I choose but to treat myself with a very chocolaty rocky road at the Blue Café – you must recognise the china by now…. Results next week. Then  I went over to Bushey Heath (Watford) to see Alan the hypnotherapist again.  We learnt last time from the unconscious mind that the cancer is genetic so this time he got my unconscious mind, using visualisation, to visit my DNA where I removed the cancer genes.  Of course I’ll only know if any of this is working when I have my next CT scan.

Anyway, if you think I’m barking now then wait for next week’s post when I’ll tell you about my visit to a white witch…

Week of 24 April

It’s been a week of many high points. Non-health and non-cake was seeing Natalie and Ian from Strictly in their fab show at the Corn Exchange.  It was Mum’s birthday present and we thoroughly enjoyed it!  They have so much enthusiasm and its great that they come down into the audience.

Then the non-cake highlights include a free consultation with Patricia Peat from Cancer Options, courtesy of Yes to Life.  I have a lot of really useful information including new supplements, new therapies and new drugs.  Dr Jackson, who we saw this week too for a review, wasn’t so sure about the use of their listed drugs as they ”weren’t mainstream oncology”.  Like Mr Cecil, Dr Jackson can’t advise on the next stage – (surgery that won’t cure me or no surgery but chemo later).  Plenty to still think on…..

Jeremy and I did another of the white horse walks although the Marlborough horse is more of a foal!  It was a lovely walk through the green, purple and yellow Wiltshire landscape with  a coffee stop at the Food Gallery and a lunch stop at St Peter’s church café.  In fact I had reiki, reflexology and 3 yoga sessions this week.  No wonder I feel so good…

So turning to cake, Jeremy and I shared a chocolate tart for dessert at the Blue Café – he’s looking a little bashful as the hospital restaurant was busy…  Then there was the scrummy Black Forest cake made by Lucy’s Mum at the Mug and Brew…And the Matcha  (Japanese Green Tea) cupcake – so that makes it a  detoxing cake:) – made by Debbie at the Pineapple Palace.  You’ll see some other cups and cakes in the photo belonging to the Supper Club ladies who do coffee mornings too…

                     

I read Lynda Bellingham’s book: There’s Something I’ve Been Dying to Tell You.  She had bowel cancer that had spread too but I must say she had a far worse time of it than I had and am having now.  Long may it continue….