Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013 reads...

The Help, by Kathryn Stockett
Paperback. Passed on to me by Daughter. Started 1st January - finished 23rd January
This is set in Mississippi 1962, "Where black maids raise white children, but aren't trusted not to steal the silver". A brilliant read, the characters so well described both in looks and personality. It made me laugh out loud and feel very sad too.

Grammar-Land by M L Nesbitt
An on-going dip-into reference book on the correct use of English grammar.
Published 1878. Started 10th January
Downloaded free to my Kobo reader. Recommended by a HomeEd blogger.

Crossing the Paradise Line by Annabel Giles
Paperback. Bought for me by Hubby for my birthday 2011 but only getting round to reading it now.
Started 2/2/2013 - finished 19/2/2013 (delayed by knitting then got a cold so curled up and read the book quickly)
Really enjoyed this light read with a very amusingly exaggerated story line. Annabel is brilliant at describing her characters. Very predictable happy ending.

The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson
Paperback. Bought for me by HelenM for my birthday 2012 but only getting round to reading it now. Winner of the Man Booker prize 2010.
Started 20/2/2013 - finished 13/05/2013
Yes it took me so long to reach the end because basically I didn't enjoy it. Why oh why can I not give up on a book as soon as I realise it's not my thing? Guess I'm always hopeful that it's going to get better!
Though there are various characters with different agendas, to me the whole thing was just a crazy, twisted analysis of Zionists, anti-Semitics and what it means to be a Jew (guess that's why my friend thought it would appeal). It is written in the most convoluted and confusing way and the Jewish references made me both angry and sad. It has gone straight into the charity collection bag!

Pedigree Mum by Fiona Gibson
Paperback. Bought for me by FayeL as a thank you for collecting her cat from the vet.
Started 14/5/2013 - finished 5/6/2013
Lovely light read, enough humour and character descriptions to keep me smiling at events happening to people I felt I understood well.

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappesred  by Jonas Jonasson
Paperback. Borrowed from Alf
Started 5/6/2013 - finished 5/7/2013
An excellent read, very funny and a very different type of story line to anything I've read before which includes totally outrageous events wrapped around true historical events. Would recommend it to everyone.

The Defrosting of Charlotte Small by Annabel Giles
Paperback. Bought for me by Hubby for my birthday 2011 but only getting round to reading it now.
Started 6/7/2013 - finished 9/7/2013
A well written story with larger than life characters. Good descriptions of the depths of despair to a happy ending.

Trouble in Mudbug by Jana DeLeon
eBook. Free download to Kobo on the Playbook
Started 13/7/2013 - finished 31/07/2013
A fun but very light-weight story line with only a few main characters, one of which is a ghost!

Infant Barbarian by Jenny Worstall
eBook. Free download to Kindle reader on the Playbook
Started 3/8/2013 - finished 10/8/2013
This is actually two short stories. The first one "Old School" and the second one "Infant Barbarian" are very light reads with a moral tale.

Two Brothers by Ben Elton
Hardback. Loaned to me by Ann and David
Started 14/9/2013 - finished 24/913
Set in Berlin 1920. Description on the front cover reads "As Germany marches towards its Nazi Armageddon, the ties of family, friendship and love are tested to the very limits of endurance. And the brothers are faced with an unimaginable choice..."
An excellent read, seeing a very well known part of history from the perspective of just a few people. It was tragic and amusing and horrific and felt so so real. At the end of the book Ben Elton explains how the characters and events, although fiction, closely relates to the people and history if his very own family. How hard it must have been for his relatives to relive the events to give him details and how hard for Ben to hear what had happened to his own family.

Bermondsey Boy by Tommy Steele
Paperback. Loaned to me by DaveJ
Started 26/9/2013 - finished 02/11/2013
Really enjoyed this and it only took me so long because of my kidney operation when I didn't feel like reading anything! Even though it was an East End era before mine I enjoyed all the references to East London life. I clearly remember Tommy Steele and found it interesting to read all he'd done before being a celebrity. Very well written too.

Witch Weigh by Caroline Mickelson
eBook. Free download to Kindle reader on the Playbook.
Started 8/11/2013 (coach trip to Luxembourg) - finished 10/11/13
Very very light read, romance between a rebel witch and a drop dead gorgeous male fairy......perfect rubbish for sitting on a coach.

No It's Us Too by Miranda Hart + General Public
eBook. Free download to Kindle reader on the Playbook.
Started sometime this year and dipped into occasionally - finished 18/11/13
Very amusing collection of tweets about embarrassing situations. 

Dear Fatty by Dawn French
Hardback. A lend from TrishaH
Started 5/12/2013 - finished 31/12/2013
A lovely biog written as letters to people important to her. Sometimes trying too hard to be funny but mostly a good read. I was though a little sad to read all the lovely things she'd written about her life with Lenny and what a great man he is, now I know that they have since ended their marriage if more than 25 years!

And as you've probably guessed I've sat here for the last two hours in my dressing gown just so I could finish this book and consequently this post this year!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

A magical eve.....

A Visit from St. Nicholas

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave a lustre of midday to objects below,
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny rein-deer,
With a little old driver so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donder and Blixen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"
As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the housetop the coursers they flew
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too—
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Ho ho ho.....

It's that time of year when we are being bombarded by advertising and even lots of my favourite bloggers are earning by posting trial reviews, sponsored articles, paying guests etc

Me, I'm posting this...

Disclosure: No-one asked me to and I haven't been paid to or compensated in any way.
The opinion is my own, that it is mildly funny like the groan of a cracker joke, so worth sharing. 


Saturday, 14 December 2013

Don't bother reading.....

So much done and so much still to do,
shopping and struggling with what to get for the last few,
wrapping what I've already got,
printing lists and ticking them off,
menu planning and adding to the online supermarket basket,
swearing that the online supermarket keeps timing out for no apparent reason,
the 'alternative' panto,
the granddaughter's drama group performance,
buying and altering clothing for Christmas dinners,
organising and enjoying a Christmas dinner with x-work mates,
looking forward to another Christmas dinner with a crowd of friends, and
babysitting so Daughter could go to M's Christmas dinner.

However as EVERYONE is doing the same just now I won't bother blogging about it.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Theatre, So not a pantomime......

This is one of my fun Christmas time traditions and this year's definitely was fun!

The Brontes of Dunwich Heath (& Cliff)

About "The Brontes of Dunwich Heath (& Cliff)"

Eastern Angles proudly present their alternative festive extravaganza, The Brontes of Dunwich Heath (and Cliff).
Join Mad Cath, Plain Jane and a panoply of off-the-wall characters, as literature and laughs combine in this musical Christmas caper.
Prepare for a whole lot of wacky Wuthering!

Monday, 25 November 2013

Meet, greet and eat......

It was probably because everyone was waiting for me to be well enough, so some of the friends I see only a few times a year all came along at once which gave me a lovely weekend of old friends and lots of food :-)

Friday evening, friendD and I went for a pub meal, very successfully trying a pub she hadn't been to before. We worked out that we had met 23 years ago, lost touch for a while then thanks to facebook met up again.

Saturday Hubby and I drove about 65miles(ish) and gathered at friendsL&K for pre-dinner drinks and friendsB&T arrived very soon after we did. They laughed as they raised glasses of beer and wine while I raised a mug of tea! Us three girls have been friends since school days so never short of chat. Then out in the cold for a brisk walk to the restaurant....lovely and warm in there. The food was excellent but far too much of it, some of the starters were as big as I would want as a main course. I couldn't even manage a dessert and that's unheard of for me. We slept over at friendsL&K although bedtime was after the very chilly walk home and the warming drinks and lots more chat.

Sunday when we had all finally surfaced the lovely K cooked us all a yummy breakfast all while chatting about some exciting future plans they have. Then big hugs and promises to get together again soon and we left them to their busy afternoon and drove home.

Today I had a lunch date with friendN. We've known each other for a long time too, in fact I remember his daughter being born and this summer she got married! Love that we can do lunch now that he is retired too and we had a great catch up.

I'm so lucky to have all these friends and the opportunities to keep in touch....but I will need to cut back on the calories for the next few days hahaha

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Kitchen fest.....

It's been lovely just popping into the kitchen this week to knock up stuff as and when the mood has taken me.

Apart from meals there was the tray bake of a sponge base (only half butter to flour and dark soft sugar, so a bit heavier) with a thick topping of crunchy cluster cereal with chocolate flakes (which had gone soft in the box) pushed into the sponge. The baking revived it to a very good crunch. The leftover blackberries and raspberries came out of the fridge and into paper cases with muffin mixture. There has been a lunch of using up casseroled veg whizzed to a thick soup and drunk out of a big mug (a cold wet day cuddle) with my own rolls still a bit warm from the oven mmmmm. And today was a quick batch of jam tarts and the very runny plum jam I made was perfect in these so I'll be making more as there are plenty of jars of jam that are not good enough to give as gifts.

Of course there are no photos as none of it lasted long enough :-)

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Luxembourg holiday, 8-11 Nov....

This was another of our three couples mini-holidays. Bit of a panic to start with as told we were meeting the coach at 8am but got a text at 7:40am saying coach early and we're already on it but don't panic! We were instantly out the door and our lovely neighbourA was playing taxi so there in a jiffy.

We've done these before and this was the feeder coach and a nice easy ride to Thurrock with no other pick-up stops. Quick comfort break then onto our coach for the trip with driver Bob. I'll not bore you with long coach journey stories of chatting (all 6), sleeping (very rarely me), reading (mostly me), passing round sweets (all 6), losing keys (not me), finding keys (not me either) and lots and lots of getting ons and offs.

So coach-coach-ferry-coach and finally arrived at The Grand Hotel de Vianden in Luxembourg. A lovely hotel and even though our arrival was delayed quite a bit the staff gave us a lovely welcome, really efficiently sorted us into our rooms and served a lovely three course dinner. We all agreed at the end that it was a great hotel, spotless and modern(ish) upstairs and full of character downstairs. Someone there had a bit of a thing for hippos, there were loads of stuffed toys, pictures and ornaments everywhere! Excellent buffet breakfasts and three course dinners were included too!

Saturday coach trip into Luxembourg City where we did our own thing. Beautiful Cathedral and yummy pastry shop for our coffee break.

During dinner Saturday night the staff ushered us outside quickly to witness a local tradition for St Martin's day, where men light huge fire balls on chains from the bonfire at the top of the hill and (pretend) fight with then down the hill to the bonfire at the bottom, we all watched even though it was raining then ran inside to finish dinner. Afterwards our men decided that we would walk into Vianden to a small bar that had a jazz night advertised, so we all togged up for the cold and then once we got there decided €10 each entrance was too much so went to another bar for drinks. Back at the hotel we found the landlord entertaining those in the bar with a singalong and knowing that two of our men were musicians (earlier conversation) he handed friendF the guitar for a while and we all drank, sang and danced till finally heading up for bed at 1:45am.

Sunday's coach trip was along the Moselle River and a stop in Remich, then through Mullerthal (called Little Switzerland) and saw unusual rock formations, then through the pretty town of Echternach.

While on the road a white car was trying to speed past but misjudged and knocked into the side of the coach then drove off. Our driver was furious but managed not to swear, I was most impressed. A little further down the road we came to a t-junction and just as the coach was turning left the hit-and-run car was spotted parked up on the road to the right and half the coach shouted to let our driver know. Seems our coach had a few minor scratches and their top of the range Audi was bashed in right along its side!

Sunday dinner was good and there was an Italian singer entertaining us and the Belgian coach party, so she mixed French songs and English songs modern and traditional so we all had another sing along and dance. Great fun! Only damper on the night was paying our rather large weekend bar bill before we went to bed.

Early start Monday with breakfast at 6am and all luggage and passengers loaded by 7am. Thick fog for quite a while, choppy ferry crossing, heavy traffic, wet weather and road works however home safe and sound but tired around 7pm. FriendA played taxi again and Daughter had been in and turned the heating on, put milk in the fridge and even filled and boiled the kettle ready for us.

Well done BfriendM for finding this holiday at such a bargain price and well done friendF for his German and French language skills that sorted all our communication needs.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Halloween our way....

This year organised and cooked and decorated by Daughter and the grandchildren.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Theatre: The Opinion Makers.....

I haven't been to the theatre for ages and was really looking forward to it. This was booked a long time ago with neighbour Trish and her friends and about an hour before we were leaving Trish phoned to say one friend couldn't go and did I know anyone who would like to use the ticket. When I rang Daughter she eagerly jumped at the chance of a night out for a change.

This is the website description...

A Mercury Theatre Made in Colchester and Derby Theatre Co-Production
When the utterly incompetent team at Fernsby Market Research find themselves facing the stiffest challenge of their professional lives – to report what the British Public really think of world famous ‘Doctor Campbell’s Lotion’ in readiness for a re-launch – there’s only one thing for it; make it all up! After all, that’s what market research companies do, isn’t it?
Critically-acclaimed writing duo Brian Mitchell and Joseph Nixon have assembled a wonderful cast of characters for this brand new musical comedy, including: the hapless Fernsby and his useless sidekicks; a beatnik Advertising phoney and his jazz flute playing muse; a Scottish Laird with a dark secret and a glamorous American gold-digger wife; and an insane Home Secretary-in-waiting.
What’s more, they’ve written a raft of great new songs that’ll transport you back to the world of ‘swinging sixties’ London for this hilarious, off-beat musical take on the birth of the political pollster – think Mad Men meets Carry On!

Billed as a musical comedy, but it was neither and the four of us cringed and I think two would have left at the interval and not gone back. Daughter googled it during the break and found some dire reviews which we all agreed with. But I don't give in "it may get better in the second half" I said with a grin, but it didn't.

This is what Daughter put on facebook....
 Really dodgy musical with Bake Off's Mel Wotsit. It was a spoof musical with references to various other musicals particularly in the really poorly arranged music. it was lacking pace, the script was shit and the acting of half the cast was lacklustre at best.

So a night out to talk about for all the wrong reasons hahaha.

Monday, 28 October 2013

One month after....

Hard to believe surgery was a month ago!

Things are getting back to a bit more like our normal routine, I'm going out in the evenings with my friends to art group, the truck stop (though I'm not dancing yet), pub meals etc. Saturday night Hubby and I joined our neighbours/friendsP&A on their quiz team (and we were winning till the last couple of rounds). Tonight I'm off to the theatre.

I'm doing more around the house, ironing for short spells, I made a cake last week and made a dinner, but I'm being careful not to do too much partly because it starts to hurt but mainly so Hubby isn't left with nothing to do ;-)  He's been such a domestic goddess these past few weeks that I don't want to deprive him!

With the hospital not wanting to see me again till January and although I'm still sore a lot of the time I'm not sore enough to need regular pain relief, so I'm considering this subject now closed before it gets boring and try to blog about more interesting things.

SO -we are sitting here watching the wind build into the major storm they have been forcasting and as I'm typing this post I keep doing a copy to clipboard as the power keeps going off and I may not be able to save it. There are a couple of big rubber playmats flying across our garden and we know they are from under the swings next door. Unfortunately our very pretty tulip tree has been split in two with half of it now lying on the hedge.

We're back....Power went off for a while so we went next door for a mug of tea or two as they have a gas cooker (we've only just changed ours to electric of course, buggar). Seems the storm has now passed us and thankfully we can report no damage.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Yaay, ouch and boo.....

I've now had a letter from the hospital to advise that the histology report has confirmed that the entire tumour has been removed and they don't want to see me again until my outpatient appointment in January and another CT scan next April. :-)

Unfortunately now I'm doing a bit more the main scar area and my back are hurting a bit more. Swings and roundabouts eh?

Had a lovely couple of hours with R and O (while daughter took E to her percussion lesson). We made a few more Halloween paper and card decorations to add to the collection. Later when daughter came back it all morphed into screen time as usual, with three children having to share our two laptops and sofa space so the third could watch the two screens when it wasn't their turn!

Lovely evening at the truck stop, dinner there for us three ladies (mmmm bbq ribs) while our men went bowling. Then into the bar to be entertained by "Hatman" and later joined by our bowlers and other special friends to help celebrate FriendM's birthday with cake complete with sparkly candles.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Looking through ruby glasses.....

20 October 1973 and I'd spent the night on a mattress on the lounge floor of friends Jackie and Nick (lost touch with them many many years ago). It was our wedding day and I couldn't leave from home on my dad's arm as my dad wasn't talking to me and wouldn't be there. My future husband wasn't Jewish and although we were definitely not a religious family my dad felt he couldn't give his blessing or approval and it must have been hard for him and as much as I hated his Victorian attitude I also had to admire his courage to stick by his decision and see it through. Well if it was hard for dad it was so much harder for my mum, torn between her husband and her daughter for months and standing her ground too and coming to our wedding. Dad and I did make up a few years later.

So, what can I remember about that special day, forty years ago?

The sun shone on the golden autumn leaves. It was warm and dry.

We were the last couple to be married in the old Hammersmith Registry Office, a lovely old brick building with a beautiful area at the front for photo taking.

Friend Nick wore a chauffeur's hat and put a fur rug in his cream coloured Fiat to drive me to the Registry Office.

My dress was made of crimpoline and a halter neck style so backless. For outside I had a lace shawl and big floppy hat which I think were my borrowed but I've forgotten now who from. The dress I remember had cost me £5 which should have been dearer but they knocked a little off because it had a dirty mark which actually washed out really easily. I wore the most enormous platform shoes and insisted Hubby wore flats (men wore platforms too in 1973) so I didn't look so much shorter than him.

SisterS and SisterP didn't make it to the service as they were laying out the food at the reception, the food that SisterM and I had made weeks before and put in her freezer.

Baby NieceL, just 5 days before her first birthday, blew raspberries throughout the service (loved it).

My mum and Hubby's dad were our witnesses.

Our reception was in a brand new nightclub, The Nashville Rooms in Fulham, West London, we hired the hall for just £10 but had to be out by 6pm so they could open in time for the evening.

Our best man made his speach from the DJ box, think he was a bit embarrassed.

The dance floor lit up which 3 year old NieceS loved.

We moved onto Hubby's parent's house to continue celebrating but my new Hubby and I were the first to leave and head to our little rented bed-sit on the other side of London, as the epic Sparticus was being shown on tv for the first time and we had bought our first 12inch black and white tv specially!

Of course there have been highs, lows and lots of just jogging along, however we are both very proud to be celebrating our ruby wedding and remembering our special day forty years ago! 

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Updating, do not unplug.....

Just as I get the hang of one bit of technology they go and change it, and now it's iGoogle shutting down where I had my blog reading collection.

But, you know what, I've been forced to change and moved my collection to the blogger version and it works even better than what I had before.

Too old for this malarky? Nah not me and not yet :-)

Wednesday, 16 October 2013


Healing - skin still sore but trousers comfortably done up now.

Medication - pain killers not needed every day but no more than twice on the days I do.

Blood pressure - keeping a bit of a bp diary as my normally high bp now seems to generally low. Maybe one kidney is more efficient than two!

Mobility - mostly moving about as and when I please. Even drove my car yesterday.

In bed - gone is the pillow pile and can even roll from side to side. Not managing to sleep right through yet though.

Flowers - I've received so many beautiful flowers, at one point they filled nine vases a planted arrangement and a special card with flowers in.

Cards - fill the hearth and coffee table and are still arriving from people that have only just heard.

Presents -. A lovely cross stitch of my initial from a friend that had popped into a charity shop and said it called to her. A neighbour brought a huge tin of chocolates.

Visitors - my children have been around all the time, plus so many friends and neighbours wanting to pop in and wish me well. One neighbour knowing that hubby was going out came specially to make me tea. My ex-boss came too and a cousin is coming to visit on Monday.

Checking up on me - by phone calls, text messages, emails and facebook comments are far too many to even attempt counting up.

Blessings - counting them daily but immeasurable!!!

Progress - I'm out tonight at a friends for dinner and tomorrow back to my art group yaay!

Friday, 11 October 2013

Loving the ordinary....

Yesterday was so lovely and ordinary.  Daughter came over with the three children, two of which showing off new cat onsies, and brought flowers for me, french sticks towards lunch and a huge apple crumble to cook here and share.  We chatted about who they'd seen and what they'd done, the children did some screen time each, there was Halloween art, daughter made lunch, hubby made lots of drinks, there was some bickering, some stomping, aeroplane/airplane making and debate about who calls it what and why, a grandson sitting close on the sofa playing on my screen and chatting, there was R and O left behind while E was taken for her percussion lesson, O helping granddad to strip our bed, there was a struggle to get them all out at home time, there was hubby texting after they left to say she had forgotten the half a crumble, there was the flying in later by Daughter to collect the crumble and steal a pie out of the freezer as she'd gone to Asda but forgotten her purse! And there was the contented relaxing evening after an ordinary day!

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Take-em-out and take-away....

Definite steps yesterday to getting nearer to normal (whatever my normal is).

In the afternoon I left the house for the first time on the great adventure to our town centre surgery (local nurse fully booked) to have the staples removed. I know I am an over sensitive baby where pain is involved and a few people with their horror stories had made me even more anxious, which didn't help, but they really did hurt coming out and three of the 15 took some extra tugging, ouch ouch ouch! I was amazed they can't come up with a bit of a spray numbing idea first, or an oil softening idea that would help soften and lubricate or at least a soothing wet flannel to take the sting away after, but there was nothing, not even distraction conversion from the nurse! So glad that's over with and so looking forward to being able to do my trousers up again.

Tuesday nights is usually girl's night and even though we used to be five or six of us now it's just three of us that meet for a meal out most Tuesdays. Well they checked with me if I was up for a meal out with one of them driving instead of me, however mainly due to me not being able to do my trousers up, we decided on them coming here and having Chinese delivered.  It was yummy and conversion was totally shared between my medical updates and their news, lovely that it wasn't visitors to the sick it was me nearly normal!

Saturday, 5 October 2013

One week after....

It's now 5:30pm and this is about the time last Saturday I came out of recovery and onto the ward, so it's one week after the op!

So much to be grateful for,
especially that the tumour was discovered at all,
I'm the other side of a successful operation,
it remained a keyhole procedure when the surgeon had warned me the odds had risen to 50/50 that it may end up an open procedure,
grateful too that I didn't suffer the dreadful shoulder pain I'd been warned about that's caused by the gasses they fill you with during surgery,
nor did I suffer the constipation that often is a problem from taking all the post-op pain relief.
What a lucky lucky girl I am!!!

So now it's up to me, trying to stay totally positive, trying to move about in short slow bursts and resting lots too…....but ok I'm bloody human AND IT'S REALLY REALLY SORE!

Thursday, 3 October 2013

A billow of pillows.....

Had a good night's sleep last night, mainly due to getting the pillows just right. There are so many pillows it's like a Sheik's bedouin tent. There are five behind me in the classic hospital armchair formation, so that I can almost be sitting up, but this can sometimes give me lower back twinges so two pillows under my knees ensured total comfort.

This isn't how I would normally sleep of course and after getting up for an early bathroom visit I was sleepily keen to get comfy on my side, so a bit of tugging moved the back down and the knee pillows got fidgeted into one under my top knee and the other rammed into my back. Zonked till gone 7:30am!!!

So getting more sleep has also meant I've eaten better, enjoyed visitors, and enjoying these...

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

A bit less of me to collect......

Just waiting now for hubby to come and take me home. Operation all went according to plan thank goodness. Wounds are healing well, the pain is manageable and I'm moving about without help, so declared fit to go :-)

I have been really well looked after in Ipswich Hospital and no complaints about the food either. The beds are so comfortable and clever how they totally adjust every which way and they constantly give a gentle massage while you're sleeping!

I'd worn my favourite old pajamas so felt comfortable and brought in a dressing gown that used to be my mum's so I could have a cuddle from her too. The best look ever with these surgical stockings. Hubby and my children visited both evenings and friendK came yesterday too. There has been a constant stream of good wishes on text and facebook and promises of help whenever we need it. I'm soooo lucky eh?

I'm dressed and packed and now had my hospital lunch so there was nothing else to do but blog lol.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Jumped another hurdle....

We are moving on through this hospital saga now. There have been lots of phone calls between me and Tracy in Admissions until she could finally confirm that surgery will be this Saturday morning and my pre-op assessment was yesterday at 10am.

Tracy and I had built up quite a jolly relationship, with her starting with the theatre slot and a consultant surgeon then checking with me that she had a patient that was available then desperately trying to fill the theatre with staff. She started with all this for a Friday op then had to change it for a Saturday op meanwhile keeping me informed as best she could. At one point I even volunteered Hubby "If you're desperate he's pretty good at DIY"......well it's laugh or cry at stressful times eh? The lovely Tracy actually came to find me during my pre-op appointment just to say hi and wish me well :-)

So the pre-op is now done, that included about 45mins with nurse Carol filling in a huge questionnaire booklet then she swapped with Gavin who did the height, weight, MRSA swabs and ECG. Then I was sent to the path lab for them to take gallons of my blood, and for once that went without a hitch too.

I checked with them about my acrylic nails and they said just remove them from one finger on each hand, so I sent a text to my lovely nails technician saying I'll take them off myself and she insisted that she will pop over Friday and do it for me, so kind! I'm so lucky, I'm getting lots of text and email good wishes as well as real life hugs from those around me and last night Hubby brought home flowers and a card from his bowling friend Barbara for me :-)

Nothing more to do now except pack my little bag and turn up on Lavenham Ward at 7am Saturday.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Chipping away at the calm....

"It is what it is and just has to be dealt with" is the phrase I've been saying and the attitude I'm trying to live by. OK so being told one of my kidneys is full of tumour and has to be removed is not the best news but I'm basically a practical, fairly unflappable sort of person so why waste my energies on worrying. I have to be so very grateful for whatever got me to the point of a diagnosis when there had been no related symptoms and must now put all my trust in the medical system....so far so good!

Telling everyone that matters is never easy but the support I've had back has been amazing. A couple of friends have very recently been through similar experiences and have shared advice on the things perhaps the medical team may not warn me about and always good to be prepared eh.

The only thing I can't seem to prepare my head for is the op itself as I was given the date of 11th October after I had chased the hospital, then on Thursday hubby was told on the phone they could now do it on the 25th,  when I phoned them back that had changed to the 27th and she had the theatre and the surgeon and wanted to make sure I could be there then she was going off to organise a theatre team. She would phone me back to confirm but probably not till Friday.

We were out with friendsL&K most of Friday and I was very aware that the pub in the forest had a very poor mobile signal and kept checking my phone! Later back at our friend's house I did get a call but only to keep me informed as she still hadn't managed to get a full team together but was still working towards 27th. She will have to get back to me on Monday!!!

I made sure my 11th October date hadn't been cancelled yet in case her plan failed and asked her to check if I needed to stop any meds before then and she checked and I do, then there was no more to be said, so we wished each other a good weekend and hung up. So not totally at my calmest just now but working on it.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Have a date with a surgeon....

It's a shame I had to chase the hospital to get a date, because recently the NHS has been looking after me quite well, however the consultant had told me more than two weeks ago that this was quite urgent and would be done in the next few weeks and definitely within 30 days! But I'd heard nothing since.

It's like the teenagers waiting for the postman to bring their exam results! I've since had two NHS envelopes hit the doormat, each time I felt my blood pressure raise just a little and each time they were nervously opened to find they were unrelated!

Two weeks feels a long time to wait, obviously not just for me as everyone was asking if I had a date yet and some had insisted I check, so I did. I've kept a full list of phone numbers I rang and who I spoke to when and what they said and eventually I was told that surgery will be Friday morning on 11th October with the pre-op assessment the week before on the 3rd.

So almost another month to wait, and it will be much longer than the consultant had originally said, but at least I have a date!

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Food fusion....

It's been a very mixed foody week starting with the silver service meal we had last Saturday being the poshest. Sunday I cooked a traditional English beef roast. Monday hubby cooked us bangers and mash with baked beans (his speciality). Tuesday night was out at the local Beefeater for my favourite rack of ribs smothered in bbq sauce. Wednesday was the huge haddock at the seaside lunchtime then out again in the evening but could only manage a prawn starter. Thursday four of us went out to the totally vegetarian pub and Friday night I cooked a three course dinner for four with the lowest points ever as FriendM is with weight watchers and lots of extras for the men who are not calorie counting. Think it will be leftovers today :-)

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Fresh air and hag stones....

FriendKK and I go back many many years, but over recent years our free times rarely synchronise, however that may change now she has retired from lots of her commitments. So it was a lovely spontaneous surprise when she emailed on Tuesday to say "are you free tomorrow?" and suggested we took some catch-up time together after her early morning swim and before she collects grandchildren from school.

We went to Aldeburgh, a beautiful old Suffolk fishing town. Although we thought we may never get there as we had to follow a very nervous learner driver for miles!  We parked and took a mooch round the shops, KK bought a top in a charity shop and we chatted to a lovely man behind the counter of a 'curio' shop, then a walk along the beach to be near the water's edge. This beach is all stones, all shapes, sizes, colours and textures so you spend the whole walk scanning and studying them and amazed by their beauty. FriendKK picked up a hag stone and popped it in her pocket, no doubt to use for witchy things ;-)

Lunch was in the very popular fish and chip shop, you can't get fresher than all their local catch-of-the-day. I ate all my haddock and batter but left all the chips, KK ate all her chips but had undressed her skate wing and left all the batter.....we were both stuffed.

No time left to even walk off our lunch as we had to head home. Although we thought we may never get there as we had to follow a very large and slow tractor for miles!

In the evening I was out with the usual crowd but I couldn't eat a dinner so just had a small prawn starter and I was even caught with my eyes closing for a minute,  guess it was all that fresh air :-)

Monday, 9 September 2013

My way (#11)....

Over the years I seem to have developed some very definite ways of doing things and usually it's for a very good reason, so I thought I'd share. 

We went to the hotel with our overnight bag and smart clothes for our dinner with friends. All scrubbed, makeup on, hair done and dressed I opened my jewellery box to discover my special earrings had been packed with an earring back missing!

After a bit of manic searching for something to use instead I sent Hubby to reception to get a bit of blu-tack. Pushed onto the post at the back it held beautifully secure all evening.

What's your way?

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Saturday night and Sunday morning.....

And as with all good things that come to an end my big birthday celebrations came to an end this weekend in a big finale. Six of us friends had arranged a lovely meal in a lovely old Felixstowe hotel, The Orwell Hotel. We chose a Saturday night as they have a pianist entertaining the customers which makes it even more special.

With my birthday cards, as I've said before, BFriendM surprised me and Hubby by booking us a room, fabulous present eh.

About a week before two more friends decided to come for dinner too, then unfortunately two days before one of them was ill, so there were seven of us.

The food was excellent. The pianist was really good and happy to take requests.  We all had a great evening with lots of laughter and moved from the restaurant to the bar and stayed there till long after the bar closed to anyone but residents...hey two of us were residents so our friends became our guests. 

When they all left we just went up to bed, what luxury :-)
The bed was really comfortable and we both slept well. The hotel did an excellent breakfast too.

Before heading home we took a walk along the prom and a quick tour of the Sunday market, then it was home to cook a roast dinner for Daughter, M and the children.

A perfect weekend. 

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Friday in London....

The day for Hubby's birthday present to me.
Set off late morning.
Rain on the windscreen.
Brother-in-law not home so no first cuppa.
Good parking spot right near the station.
Oyster cards (one old one new) at the ready.
Newbury Park to Stratford.
Lived at Mile End up to 40 years ago, this time just passing through.
Quick look round Westfield shopping centre, just to say I have.
Hubby tried on a couple of jackets but didn't buy.
Latte a bit bitter for me but a fruit scone and cream to die for.
Underground again Stratford to Tottenham Court Road.
Asian looking girl with very round face and tiny rosebud lips.
Walked to Covent Garden just started raining again.
Hubby in short sleeved shirt, me in yellow raincoat.
Daft street entertainer, putting clothes on, couldn't see why, we walked on.
Stopped for a beer in the Punch and Judy cellar, I had sparkling water.
An operatic female voice as we left the pub.
A man in a silver 'tin man' suit posing for photographs with children.
A good walk round the market stalls but bought nothing.
Hanging over the railings to watch two violins and a cello.
Old lady with a little red basket collecting for the musicians, proud grandmother perhaps.
Passed a bakery with loaves in the window mostly around £2ish but two were priced at£4.75 each.
Stopped for another beer, more fizzy water was just too much liquid, must find myself an alternative drink.
Slow stroll and window shopping down to Porters for dinner.
Restaurant chosen and paid for online as theatre package so no on-the-day deliberations.
Steak and ale pie for him and fisherman's pie for me and both yummy.
Syrup sponge and custard just perfect.
Lots of people opposite outside taking photos this way, us eating or beautiful building?
Checked when we left, but building nothing special so it must have been just the bright red awnings that were photogenic.
St Martin's theatre, The Mousetrap, 60 years old (like me).
Intimate theatre, red velvet drapes, unfussy wood panelling.
Dress circle, good view.
Well acted but no character actually won me over.
Some titters but no real laughter moments.
Don't understand all the hype, it was good but not wow.
Thank you Hubby for sitting through my sort of entertainment.
We must never reveal who done it.
Chilly but dry when we came out.
Leicester Square tube change at Holborn.
Two tourist children fighting, mother looking stressed, long day for them too I guess.
Holborn to Mile End standing, planned strategy.
Mile End to Newbury Park seated, strategy worked.
Car just were we left it, always a pleasing sight.
Uneventful drive home.
In the house and into bed :-)

Thursday, 5 September 2013

First thing to go....

I smoked my last cigarette ever last night!
The consultant last Friday said it had to go and reading up on renal cancer it is a serious contributory factor and if I have to live with just one kidney in future it would be more than stupid to add to the risk of that one having problems.

I'm sure it will feel very odd not to have them in my life as I started while still as primary school....what a horrid thing to admit to eh? I was 9. We could buy 3d (that's 3 pennies old money) singles from the corner shop and would share just the one between about four of us only maybe once or twice a week, so no big addiction as money was tight.

I can remember when we used to smoke in the cinema and melting a plastic false nail from flicking in the dark, smell of burning plastic is not a good way to impress a first date. My first office job at 16 had the rule of no smoking before 4pm because of all the very valuable documents on desks, it became the thickest fog at one minute past four! I felt very grown up and sophisticated when I smoked the French Gauloises. And felt quite sick when all we could get hold of in Israel was the local brand Knesset which was no doubt made of cow dung yuk. There was the youth club play where I was the aristocratic devil and puffed my way through an enormous Churchill cigar on stage. It was just part of our world.

I've given up on and off over the years and probably got through a packet a day at some points too. Hubby was a smoker when we met and our supplies were often shared with his dad who called himself a "social" smoker because he never bought any just smoked other people's hahaha. Hubby gave up after a rough two weeks of flu some time before we had the children I think. The main conscious decision to stop was when the children were old enough to start school and we were definitely tight on funds so it was get a part time job or save money in other ways...not buying cigarettes meant I didn't have to work for another two years.

Over the last 20 years I've smoked again but never in front of Hubby or any children or most of my family and rarely got through more than a packet a week. Hubby hated it so much that I never lit up when I was with him so mostly none at all during the day since I retired and I never even had them in my bag on our holidays.

So no big deal to give them up eh? Although I really did enjoy the ones I had they have to remain as part of my history now. Last Friday when I decided, there were 8 left in the packet (I'm too tight to throw them away lol) and last night was the last one!

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Private or public?....

I know I'm often seen as an outgoing party person who is always part of a crowd, but I'm actually quite a private person when it comes to personal stuff, not because I'm embarrassed but, I think, because I doubt people will be interested. So if someone asks me about anything I'm happy to tell them, or if someone is telling me of a problem they have which I have had experience of then I will share all I know, but mostly I keep health issues and emotions to myself. Guess that's why my diaries have been important.

However, I'm going to share this here mainly because this is now my diary and as immediate family and friends already know, hopefully it won't offend anyone to learn my news by reading it here first and maybe, just maybe if anyone else is in the same situation we can compare notes!

Yesterday I was told I have a large tumour taking up most of the space in my right kidney and the whole kidney will be removed. The consultant said there is a 90% chance it's cancer. On the plus side it is totally contained and everywhere else is clear (lungs etc all checked) so the kidney will be removed by keyhole surgery within the next 30 days and there will be no need for any further treatment like chemo thank goodness.

Amazingly I'd had no symptoms at all !!!
It was pure chance that this was found now as I'd gone to my doctor with a really painful knee (which I've mentioned here before). Anyway knee seems to be cartilage wear and tear and I'm working with a physio for that, however, my doctor took the opportunity to send me for all my annual blood tests and to send me for an ultrasound to recheck on a tiny fatty tissue lump discovered on my kidney more than seven years ago - even that was discovered by chance while looking for something else. The ultrasound showed the original lump hadn't changed at all, but the radiologist said she could see a little something else but couldn't see what clearly, "although it's probably nothing I will send this report to your GP who will probably request a CT Scan just to make sure."

Sure enough soon after my GP rang to say she was requesting the CT Scan so I gave her my holiday dates. I'd told her we were back on Saturday 24th and when we got home the appointment was on the mat with our post for Tuesday 27th (Monday was a bank holiday). On Thursday a girl rang to say she needed to make me an appointment with the Urology Consultant and as luck would have it there'd been a cancellation for the next day. She offered me a choice of two times. Afterwards I said to Hubby "that's odd, either they had two cancellations or she needed me to come in quickly without worrying". He told me to stop over thinking everything lol.

Well what came next is up in the third paragraph. Immediately after that I had to get a GP at my surgery to change some of my regular meds and now its just a wait for a date to go in. I have to say I'm really emotionally calm about it all, well for now anyway!

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Welcome home...

Wednesday and our wonderful Daughter had offered to make us a dinner to come home to, but after travelling I'm usually more tired than hungry, so I said not to bother but just requested some fresh milk in the fridge. When we got home we were first greeted with this on the front door...

Inside all the banisters had been decorated with ribbons, hair bands and lots of strings of beads (this is actually a long standing tradition here). On the table was a note saying how Daughter and all four children had picked all the plums, because of course they had ripened while we were away. There were two huge bowls and a bucket full of plums on the worktop together with a yummy plum crumble which the note said was made by R for us.

Also on the table was a wrapped birthday gift from my Daughter and Son. I couldn't wait to unwrap it and found this fantastic puzzle jug (I have a real passion for jugs)...

Isn't it amazing?

And there was post, including lots more birthday cards, so I unpacked the cards that travelled with us and put them on display...

There was as requested the fresh milk, so cups of tea with crumble and custard made the perfect end to our day.

Of course Thursday I was hoping to unpack and get all the washing done, but we woke to a very wet morning and it rained all day. So I unpacked and did just one machine load to put upstairs on the clothes horse then Daughter and children arrived :-)

We handed out their little souvenirs and had lunch then we got on with removing the stones from a big pan full of plums and made a huge batch of jam (didn't have any bottled pectin so it stayed very runny but tastes good).

Friday was a lovely sunny day so we managed three machine loads of washing, but still not through it all (why did we take so much?). While Hubby shook the tree and got another big bucket of plums down I also had a mad moment and defrosted the freezer, I'd meant to do it before the holiday but had ran out of time. By lunchtime I was exhausted but then had to rush off to a physio appointment, struggled to find something suitable to wear of course as all my shorts were on the washing line! I wasn't fit for much when I got home.

Today M and O came over on the bus for lunch and our Son came over this afternoon too which was really lovely. And now I'm sitting here with the sounds of an enormous firework display coming in through double glazing so that's how loud it is, but unfortunately I can't see any, so I'm guessing it's coming from the docks where there is a maritime festival on this weekend,  glad they've a dry night for it.