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…

 

 

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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 18 September

‘OMG! I’ve just locked myself out’, I thought as the door clicked shut.  Who do you call? A flower arranger!  Marion came to my rescue with a metal coathanger, flower arranging pliers and green sticky stuff from her car!  We ‘broke in’ rather too easily.  But at the Pineapple Palace I treated her to a slice of Debbie’s Eton Mess cake and we sat in the sun on the deck for a catchup.

So, the highlight of the week was a short trip with Shirley to Italy to see Verona.  It’s charming. We walked many of the narrow criss-crossing streets into the stunningly painted Cathedral and checked out the shops and Juliet’s balcony. Off the beaten track, we found a local café where we had coffee and cake.  I chose a volcano (right) with chocolate and pistaccio filling.  Exquisite! Shirley’s was a tart with an untranslatable filling…

Both EasyJet and Live Like a Local had recommended, the unassuming to look at, Terrazza Bar al Ponte (Ponte Pietra) where we had a delicious plate of local food and wine in their walled garden overlooking the bridge. As we sat under the umbrella, there was a hum of spoken Italian, chattering of sparrows and the  sound of the weir below us.  Perfection!  We doubt we would otherwise have stopped to go inside. We took up another EasyJet recommendation for supper – an Osteria off the beaten track also serving local food where I tried smoked horse… If I didn’t know, I’d have said it was venison.  You have to try these things…

I loved Shirley’s recommendation though – Amorino gelato. Five flavours of gelato layered to look like a flower with a macaron on the top. Heaven:) And there’s an outlet in London.

Milan was our base and we stayed at the ADI Doria Grand again; it’s very convenient for the central railway station. Another day trip was to Lake Como with the train to Varenna, then boat to Menaggio, a further boat to Belaggio and finally the catamaran to Como Town. There we got the train back to Milan.  Another fab day! We had blue skies, warm sunshine and plenty of stops with views for coffee, prosecco and aperol spritz! We tried a Trip Advisor recommendation for lunch in Menaggio and had the most delicious pizza.  It’s all in the ingredients and cooking. Supper that night was good old ravioli served at a table next to the water’s edge. What more could you ask for….

In Milan itself, we wandered new areas and streets we hadn’t been to on the last visit. It was the start of Fashion Week while we were there so we enjoyed people watching at our coffee stops. We oggled (without buying) the wonderful patisseries.  How do the Milenese stay so slim…Maybe they just oggle too…

We had a lovely time and the next visit Jeremy is coming with me  so I can show him around the places Shirley and I went to……

Week of 12 June

This week started in the New Forest at Milford on Sea.  We had a blusteringly blustery time! We stayed at the Beach House Hotel which we knew previously as Westover Hall.  It’s an Arts and Crafts House with magnificent pre-Raphaelite stained glass with views of The Needles. (Even on TV in our room we could gaze at the flashing lighthouse and crashing seas!) We fought the wind along the fast disappearing and still crumbling away coast path to Barton on Sea where we stopped at a caff for a cuppa to refresh ourselves.  The flapjacks were minute and disappeared in 2 bites….too quickly to photograph….

On the return we walked along the shingle beach across prohibited areas prone to land slides….  Jeremy forged ahead and I stumbled along behind trying to avoid getting my feet licked by the sea on the narrow parts and keeping one eye on any potential land fall…..It was hard work on the legs but dessert made up for it. We had  a fab sharing chocolate fondue for dessert at dinner….

Next day,  we got blown along the coast path from Milford to Lymington which meandered through a lovely nature reserve where we spotted many species including humanoids with large dogs and lens.  Or was it the other way round…We watched to ferry to the IOW which I recall getting many years ago.  I recall thinking at the time that one day I would like to walk along the footpath through the marshes.  So I am even ticking off things that I had forgotten I wanted to do…

 

I met with Marion and Judy at The Pineapple Palace and we had some delicious chocolate and orange cake sat out beside the river complete with hissing swan and cygnet. Then at a NGS afternoon with Mum at Dunsborough House, I had a slice of coffee cake.  Someone had put a lot of effort in decorating the top.  All in aid of charity.

  

Mum and I got a private tour at Dunsborough House as their website had advertised the cornflower and poppy meadow.  However, it was out of bounds to the public (I agree – why advertise it?) So I asked a gardener if we could see it as cornflowers are my mother’s favourite flower. So Jose obliged and walked us through the private area of the gardens but said the meadow wasn’t as good this year due to the earlier dry season we had.  Apparently, the cornflowers in his own garden on site are much bigger – thought it best not ask to go round his house…

On the craft side I have joined a team knitting a map of Newbury.  Yes you read that right!  We are starting with small beige squares for the background and later we add knitted landmarks.  No, I don’t expect our house will be on it!

And I have signed up for anther online Future Learn course on Mental Health.  Going to hypnotherapy has sparked my interest in the mind/brain. This has been the most interesting one so far as the comments show such a diverse group of people studying together.

Oh and the total for Christian Aid in Wash Common is £2.000.69 (which includes the gift aid element of those gift aided donations) .  Not bad for just 15 collectors…..

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….

Week of 10 April

Happy Easter! This was a momentous week.  The hope and new beginnings we speak of at Easter seem to me to be a portent of good things to come. Mr Cecil would only have agreed to the laparoscopy if he felt that surgery was a possibility.  And that procedure now confirms it is.  So 2 days in hospital gives me a taste of what to expect when I have 2-3 weeks in hospital later on.  The food, when I was allowed to eat it, was good.  The little ensuite room very cosy and the staff lovely.  Lying in bed the view from the window was of the sky.  Did you notice how many crossing plane vapour trails there were on the 11th?  When we left the house at 6.15am there was a giant, billowy X in the sky which followed us to Basingstoke.  It didn’t disappear and I saw more that day out of my hospital window as I twiddled my thumbs.  Never noticed perfect crosses before; it felt like someone was sending their love….

After 2 days indoors I became stir crazy.  So on day 3, tanked up with paracetamol, Jeremy and I went to the Pineapple Palace for coffee and cake.  The parking there meant it is only a short distance for me to shuffle from the car to the café.  I was told I would be sore but hadn’t expected so much inflammation in the abdomen.  Dresses and skirts are the most comfy to wear and luckily I have some spongy shoes that when lumbering along absorb most of the jarring from hard ground.  Here’s me celebrating with Debbie’s carrot cake with lime topping which was delicious. Jeremy had a flapjack.

I have created 2 new pages: Favourite Food and Drink (very little is plant based, I add:) and Hypnotherapy under Wellbeing, Complementary Therapies.

Have you noticed I used the exclamation mark only once in this week’s post?  Jeremy said I should rein in the use of it. I’m using it too often he says.  So I’ve been re-training my muscle memory not to do ‘shift 1’!! Oops

Week of 3 April

Had a really varied week this week with 2 visits to Basingstoke Hospital and yes 2 visits to the Blue Café – to support the Ark Cancer charity of course! The chef had been very busy and the display of cakes looked super under their gleaming domes.  The fudge cake was really fudgy and just hit the spot after having completed my pre-op assessments – which I passed, I add.  The second visit was for the blood tests ahead of surgery next week.  But we won’t dwell on that.

Much nicer was the visit with Helen to Kensington Palace where we lunched in the Orangery amongst a lot of people having their afternoon tea!.  The guinea fowl was very tasty and lunch set us up for the tour around the Palace which culminated in the Diana’s dresses exhibition.  There was a queue but the numbers into the exhibition are controlled so you see the 25 dresses close to.  Would love to have seen more!

Staying with the royal theme, Marion, Judy, Lindsay and I went on a Spring Bulb tour of Highgrove.  (Another favourite place added to the list).  The ensign was flying above the house so Charles was at home yet the press where still referring to him being with Camilla in Italy!  We never saw him but we really enjoyed walking around his garden even down the thyme path which is out of bounds later in the year.  We ate some of his delicious braised beef for lunch in the Orchard Restaurant and the chocolate brownie which was gluten free was the best – made with ground almonds. New chef apparently.  Lush!

I’ve slipped up! I have few photos this week!  Christine and I went to the Pineapple Palace where Debbie has taken over the cafe.  I had her carrot, parsnip and ginger cake which tasted much scummier than it sounds.  We sat outside on the deck in the warm morning sunshine and commented on how nice it was not to be working….

If you are waiting to hear about the clinical hypnotherapy – it was fascinating to hear Alan speak about how we can be governed by deep thoughts and early experiences without realising.  At worst, it affects our health but our sub conscious can help. My objective is to change the chemistry of the cancer cells so that the white blood cells can identify them and destroy them.  I’ve not been hypnotised before;  it was very relaxing for my body and my mind was very active as it listened to Alan and visualised his words.

So I’m off now to keep that visualisation going….

Week of 30 January

The MacMillan’s guide I was given last week on ‘Healthy Eating and Cancer’ says  ”sugar in your diet doesn’t directly increase the risk of cancer or encourage it to grow”.  Goodo!!  But at a Nutrition workshop held by Maggie’s in Oxford’s Churchill hospital this week, I learnt that sugar ”depletes the body of essential nutrients and interferes with the fine balance of bacteria in the gut”. Oh dear!!  I’ve had a few cakey exploits this week to tell you about.  At Maggie’s, we sampled a plate of Tofu Cakes! Yuk!  The monthly Essebourne Ladies Lunch was this week: Val, Norma, Margaret, Cathie, Sandra, Heather and I enjoyed another delicious lunch!.  And, although not cakes as such, we had some lovely petit fours to finish off……  Which plate would you prefer??

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I guess the highlight this week was hearing the results of my CT scan from Dr Jackson at the Basing Unit that ”there has been greater than average shrinkage”.  More on my 2017 page.

wp_20170202_002Jeremy and I shared a (healthy) granola bar in the Blue Café – part of Basingstoke’s Arc Cancer Centre while we were there.  Secretly I hankered over the rocky road!!  And that night we celebrated with a glass of Bouvet (a lush sparkling red best served cold)!

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So also this week,  I met Carolyn to take her to the Tea Cosy but got there and found it is closed on Tuesdays and so we headed back to Mocha Choc for a cuppa! Next time!  The Supper Club ladies: Pam, Judy, Marion, Alex and Ann and I met at at the Pineapple Palace where I was the only one to eat cake!  A lemon drizzle with a lovely crunchy topping!  I had tap dancing that evening so I may have worked off some calories….I was back at the Pineapple Palace a few days later for a ceramic course with Sophie to make tea light holders.  Here’s me at work cutting out hearts in my clay with a slide of coffee cake on the side!  Perfect! Jeremy and I did do a 6 mile walk in the afternoon!!wp_20170205_001

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I said there were a lot of cakey exploits this week…. Mum and I went to Angelina’s at Camp Hopson for a coffee and natter – we were very restrained – we had a little pastry each! The filling was similar to praline – very nice – and just enough not to undo all the hard work I had put into Aqua Aerobics about 2 hours earlier….

Week of 2 January

The highlights from the first week of January included meeting up with Sue and having coffee with a lovely coffee and walnut cake at the Aston Pottery near Bampton in Oxfordshire. Can’t wait to go back in the summer!  I’ve heard it is quite attractive with all the summer flowers in bloom.  And as we were there so long and drank so much, I have a nearly complete coffee reward card!

I was so taken by the Christmas tree there that I forgot to photograph our cakes!  The tree had stalks of orchids (plastic) hanging and large baubles in shades of pink. Stunning!

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I also met up with the Aqua ladies: Paula, Anne-Marie, Christine, Margie, Marilyn and Lorna.  The Pineapple Palace had a scrumptious vanilla and  caramel cake! Yum!    But you can see that not all of us caked.  You can also tell it was a little cold as we are all still wearing our scarves!  Maybe that’s why they have a good choice to sell in the shop….wp_20170107_004

wp_20170105_004But on 5th January Mum was 80!  yet she didn’t want to celebrate it so we celebrated my birthday on her birth day!  We went to the Tea Cosy in  Hurstbourne Tarrant and had their Terry’s chocolate fudge cake.  And they kindly put a candle in it for her!  This tea room is really tucked away behind a garage and supermarket and consequently the best kept secret.  Their Facebook page keeps us up to date on the latest cake ….2017-02-04-2