Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award

Thanks to my lovely friend Ellen for these photos ( taken by her son) of teenager's adventures doing the Bronze Duke of Edinburgh award. Look at that sky folks! They had a fabulous time. Walking from school to the campsite carrying everything,setting up the tents and cooking for themselves. The day after they walked back again. Map reading and organising themselves in teams.
Our wonderful Australian exchange student was invited along for the experience and also had a great time. He saw the English Lakes at its very best, including wonderful views of Lake Windermere.
A good time was had by all, blisters and all.
Teenager messes around at the campsite with his pals.

Teenager settles down for a good night's sleep ( or not as the case maybe). He is not a great fan of camping ( creature comforts and all that) but is prepared to do it for the greater good ( and the social opportunities!)

Friday, 25 September 2009

Opinions Saturday

I loved hearing your thoughts about food last week. Looking forward to your thoughts about the following this week ( my opinion is in brackets). Over to you folks........... I hope lots of you join in.

Make up. (I love it. Wear it every day. Part of my routine. )

Cruises ( I am tempted but so scared about feeling sea sick).

Golf ( I may change my mind in the future, but I agree with Oscar Wilde at the moment... it's a good walk spoiled).

Handbags ( my passion)

Sushi and Sashimi ( Raw fish- could eat it all day. When it's done well-it is sublime)

Camping. Never. End of story. Nothing will every persuade me.

Soap operas. Hate them. The British ones anyway. Never watch them. Is Desperate Housewives a soap opera? I like that.

Sudoko. Don't have that sort of brain I am afraid.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

the date

No- I don't mean I have had a hot date or a blind date. Don't think other half would be very keen. I mean I have a date for my operation. It may change nearer the time, but at the moment it is November 4th. Hurray. Hurray. Soon my life of living on dietary eggshells and the threat of hideous pain will all be over. A quick overnight hop into hospital, a quick flirtation with the surgeon's knife, and I will be a new woman.
It really can't come soon enough.
It has been a strange week for many reasons. Some weird things have happened, some good things have happened, some progress has been made in some areas, not in others, and there has been some bad news too.
The bad news is that a very dear and much loved friend has been diagnosed with cancer. She has waited a long time to find out what has been ailing her. A long and frustrating wait for answers. It is the second time this year that one of my closest friends has faced this journey. They were both so completely full of love and support for me when I went through mine in 2007, and now I can only pray that I can offer them the same steady hand and supply of hugs and listening ears.
When life is stripped down to its barest bones, that is really all we have that is valuable and useful. The love and support and kindness of others, and our own commitment to return it in good times and in bad.
Please pray for my friend as she comes to terms with this difficult news. I know she will appreciate the positive energy and good vibes, and she really deserves them.

Monday, 21 September 2009


Ever banged the wall with sheer frustration?
(No it's not a story about ringing a telephone company but it could be..............)
Anyway, there was I in our lovely offices today making great progress on a proposal I was writing. I felt really focussed and in the swing of things.
I started to notice a now familiar sensation in my chest, at the top of my stomach, creeping across my back.
A dull pain, starting to increase in intensity.
Suddenly the pain was searing, red hot poker contractions and sweeping nausea.
Nearly three hours after lunch, gall stone pain had started. I quickly took codeine to get on top of it, and before long, sickness gripped me.
An hour and a half later of pacing in the office and sweating, the pain starts to slowly wear off. I start feeling better.
I packed my brief case and got home. I felt euphoric. The pain had gone. And then the tablets started to take their toll. A dizzying tiredness -eyes that would not stay open. I slept for two hours. Just as well I managed to make the tea for the hungry boys before I hit the wall.
Other half came in and took over the evening shift while I snored on. And then- the eyes opened and it was after half seven. Dark. Homework in progress. Dishes cleared. Showers had.
Four hours after the pain started normal service is resumed. How much more disruption?
Infuriating and disheartening. Thanks to my wonderful mum when I rang her. Her voice calmed me down and cheered me up. She is so good at comforting and encouraging. No-one better.
Oh and by the way- the cause was hummus ( about a tablespoon), pitta bread ( dry) and a bit of salad. I thought I would be safe with that- obviously not.
So no more food for me tonight. Peppermint tea. Tomorrow I hope to start making progress on my proposal again. Sigh.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

The exchange

Our exchange student J arrived for eight weeks yesterday. We are all really excited. We collected him from the airport and he had a good night sleep. This was just as well, because this morning we had him playing rugby at Kirkby Lonsdale in a match! He usually plays Aussie Rules football so rugby is a new experience. It was great that the coaches were prepared to let him get stuck in and have a go. Only way to learn eh?

He has settled in well with no sign of jet lag, other than the need for an early night now. Mind you- teenager has declared himself bed bound too and its only nine o clock ! Lots of excitement, rugby and now a busy at week coming up- he's put the white flag up.
What a wonderful experience eh? Teenager has spent a couple of months in Melbourne and now his friend is here for the same adventure. Both of them have been to the opposite ends of their own usual worlds. What an opportunity!
As I said to teenager a few months ago - even if he never sets out of the lake district again, he has been further than most people have been in a whole lifetime- and he's only fourteen.
Here's wishing J a wonderful exchange.I hope we can help him make the most of it, and that he will have a great trip.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Opinions Saturday

I thought I might start a discussion post on Saturdays called 'opinions Saturday', where folk muse on a given topic or list and share their views.

So here goes with today's list- food items. My views are in brackets.

What do you think of?...............

NUTELLA ( yum-on toast)

BOVRIL ( yum - at a cold soccer match)

MACARONI CHEESE ( one of my all time favourite foods)


COFFEE ( Illy is my favourite brand and Starbucks is my favourite outlet)

EARL GREY TEA ( I can't bear it- not even the smell. I think its the bergamot oil)

RASPBERRIES ( my all time favourite fruit- what's yours?)

OYSTERS ( aphrodisiac or disappointing salty jelly event? I am always too scared to eat them in case they make me ill)

Over to you folks..........

Thursday, 17 September 2009

musings on supermarkets

I dropped other half at the station today (he is in London working) and decided to pop into ASDA (UK equivalent of Walmart, and now owned by them) for a bit of shopping. Nothing unusual in that you might think.

Except there is. I rarely shop there. It is a shop which has always depressed me. It is better since Walmart got hold of it I think, but not hugely. I just don't know what it is. I decided to give it some thought sitting in the cafe having a cup of tea.

Is it the lurid green decor? Is it ASDA fm, their own in house radio? Was it the signs for the £2 value breakfast ( if they are making a profit, and the food supplier is making a profit, what is the quality of the original produce. Worrying). The staff are very friendly and helpful, there is always plenty of stock, so what is it? Why don't I enjoy the experience at all
Now- when I shopped at Wholefoods Market in Seattle (I think we have one in London) I thought it was fabulous. I loved it. I could have spent hours in there. I thought- if ever I move to Seattle (not going to happen- US immigration would never allow it!) I will shop here always.

Yes I know its rather pricey, but I would work extra hours just so I could indulge and partake. The displays were wonderful, the variety was mind blowing, the ranges interesting. The food was very appealing- I wanted to try everything.

I also hate Morrisons. Stock levels are awful- they are usually out of what I want and they often don't stock what I like. Prefer Sainsbury but there are none near us. I like Waitrose but we don't have one anywhere near us at all. Tesco is ok. I use their delivery service most weeks- very handy, very convenient. We have a Tesco Express in the village: very convenient. Not mad on their stores mind you... but don't mind them.

Booths (only in the North I think) is good. Interesting ranges. We have one a mile away. They are are very pricey, and our local one struggles to keep stocked up (all the tourists self catering!). I shop there quite a lot, mostly because it is convenient and has handy parking (and a coffee shop where mums can chat after school drop off).

Off course, I love M and S. But it's not for everyday food shopping and I think they have got stuck in a bit of rut in the last few years. Still up there in the favourites for me mind.....

So, how about you? Where do you like to shop and why?

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Rolling the stone uphill

Do you ever feel as if you are pushing a large and heavy boulder uphill, and just need to get to the top so you can push it over and let it take its own momentum? Well, my life feels like that at the moment.
  • I am waiting for my operation and working hard on keeping well. I am eating the healthiest food imaginable- every day. No alcohol and no fat. Small portions. Designer coffees replaced by plain filters with skimmed milk. My operation is in about six weeks time- I keep focussed on that time and hope for a 100% successful outcome.

  • I am pacing my weight loss. Not too quick but steady progress every week. I have another three stone to go. Nearly at the top of that hill.

  • We are waiting for answers in the business. We want things to pick up and have lots of great proposals and bids in place. We need to work on more. We patiently work at keeping the boulder moving up the hill, keeping our eye on the summit, and stopping briefly for a breath and a rest. It's not the climate to reduce the effort and energy. It's not advisable to panic and take fright. Keep the focus and the faith. We need some answers and some decisions- we just have to wait and keep creating more opportunities.

  • We are making slow and necessary progress on the house outside and in. Cosmetic changes in the main, but necessary. It's coming along. I would like to do more and quickly. I will have to wait until next year, and take my time.

So it's slow and sure wins the day. Keep behind the boulder, keep a strong foothold.....and keep pushing. I will let you know when I am at the top. Anyone else pushing with me?

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Mamma Mia- the final verdict ( and who is the dad?)

Folks - the scenery just isn't enough. I watched up to Dancing Queen and completely lost the will to live.
Call me serious/ kill joy/ misery/ scrooge but I just hated it. Every minute. And I think I have sussed out why - the singing is so totally awful. It spoils the original songs. Howls of outrage perhaps- but there is only so much cringe-ing a girl can do.
So- it is deleted. It has been erased from Sky Plus, and I can move on. So tell me- who was the dad or did he drown himself in despair before it was revealed?

Monday, 14 September 2009

Call me controversial

I am thirty minutes in to the movie Mamma Mia, and I am wondering.... will it get better? Is it me? Am I a total misery?
I usually love musicals- but this one is leaving me rather stone cold at the moment.
I know it has been out for ages and even longer- it always takes me an age to catch up with movies ( if at all.....).
How long do I have to give it before I can give up?

( ps- I have no objection to ABBA songs, some are really good. Not a hard core fan admittedly but the music isn't the issue....).

Sunday, 13 September 2009

New Adventures

Hope you enjoy the pictures above of our lovely surroundings- and of Kirkby Lonsdale Rugby Club. Today we were at training with teenager: the season has started and they are in training for lots of matches coming up soon. This is a picture from last year, and this year they are all much bigger and wider. Teenager is about a foot taller- most of them are six foot or nearly six foot. It is like the land of the giants.
The weather, at long, long last is fabulous. Warm and balmy, not too hot, clear blue skies and increasingly autumnal colours. It is the best time of year in my opinion, followed closely by spring. There is an exciting feel in the air: I am feeling so much better, the rugby and football season are underway, I have a week in the office to make some really good progress on some exciting projects, mum and I are going to have a day out in the North East ( I have a couple of meetings but it is an excuse fo us to have lunch out, and a root around a few farm shops), other half is off to London on business, and we are preparing to have our Australian exchange student over for eight weeks ( remember teenager was in Melbourne earlier in the year). The spare room is all ready for him coming, and it looks beautiful.
We are off to Blackpool on Wednesday night to watch Newcastle United play away. It should be a good laugh. Other half is coming with us: he is a Man united supporter (boo.............) but wants to act as our security. On the way back we will go and have a look at the illuminations.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Normal Service is nearly resumed ( nearly..)

Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."
This quote is attributed to John Lennon and is one of mum and I's favourites. It's so damned true.
The problem with all this health non-sense ( or lack of health non-sense) is that it is mind blowing. I get back into my routine, get re-focussed on my work, get up to date with all my emails and calls, then BANG!..... off I go again... pain and anxiety, feeling physically awful, feeling mentally hollow, feeling emotionally drained and dis-orientated, feeling adrift and dis-associated.Then the pain goes, the anxiety dissipates, the body starts to feel healed again, the mind starts to respark, and finally the emotional state calms down and association returns. It is exactly that process and in that order. Wonder if this resonates with anyone else who suffers from poor health or perhaps similar repetitive issues and challenges? And one of the toughest life things to handle is that it has a similar affect on the family too. They go through the process with you, albeit not physically.
So we are all getting back on an even keel. And it is good to reflect.
What has come out of my reflection this time is how much I need to some spiritual input: some spiritual perspective and guidance. I am going to a prayer workshop tomorrow and I am really looking forward to it. Answers would be good. Peace even better.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

At last...autumn sunshine.........

I am out of hospital, the sun shone all day, I saw my friends for coffee, had a french manicure, went to a friendship lunch at church, sat with my mum in the garden and ate meringues, had a walk with other half by the lake, laughed joked and planned with teenager while I made him tea, gazed at the beautiful spare room which is finally finished, and it looks like England are going to qualify for the World Cup in 2010.
It's been a great day. And did I mention, THE SUN SHONE ALL DAY!

Someone up there knew I needed a good day.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

The great escape

Parole for six weeks granted. I am a free agent again. Out of hospital and back at home again. Hurray!
I am going back in about six weeks time for the actual gall bladder operation. And then....this chapter of my life will be closed and I can move on again.
I feel so much better. I feel like a different person since this time last week. I have had a good rest, and a procedure which should help me keep clear of problems until I get the op.
About the procedure- its called an ERCP (Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangio-pancreatography). Basically involves a camera down the throat which takes pictures and can also do fun stuff like scoop out errant gallstones and even mash them up. I have always had ( since I heard of endoscopy) an irrational fear of this procedure. Especially since you are only sedated and not unconscious. I really dreaded it. And by Monday I was like the proverbial cat on a hot tin roof. Terrified. Like a rabbit in headlights. Thinking of bolting for the hospital door ( in my dressing gown). Get the picture?
I can honestly say, for anyone is about to have one, or may have one in the future. It's completely fine. Nothing to it. I remember not a thing, and didn't even have a sore throat. It was fine. I woke up in the recovery room hiccuping and laughing. The people on the ward said I was 'awake with the fairies' for the rest of the day. At least I made them laugh. I felt relaxed and happy, and sleepy. But fine.
So, I am free again, and everyone has been so kind and supportive. I have lots of calls and texts tonight, along with emails wishing me well. I really do appreciate it, and it really does help.
So, tomorrow is another day. Onwards and upwards.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Update from ward 37

I am doing pretty well considering I am in hospital for the weekend. I am having an op on Monday so I am under observation til then. I am in with a lovely bunch of ladies and we are keeping ourselves cheerful. The hospital menu continues to be bizarre but other than that all is going pretty smoothly. Nothing bad happening that an eye mask, a pair of earplugs,an iPhone and a bag of wine gums can't solve.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Hospital again!

Nil by mouth again folks and back in hospital. The consultant gazed in to my yellow eyes and said ' jaundice' . Next thing I know I am back in the hospital bed being tested for this that and the other. Tedious but I am pleased they are keeping an eye on me.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

the good news and the not so good news

Spoke to doc about my blood tests. He said 'I have some good news and some not so good news'. Don't you just love it when they say that?
Anyway, the good news is that my amylase levels are normal suggesting perhaps that the pancreas is not upset. The not so good is that my liver function is considerably abnormal..
Great. Probably down to gallstones escaping from the gall bladder and straying around the system into places that they are not welcome. This perhaps explained the severe pain on Saturday- probably not anything I ate after all.
So what now? Will tell you tomorrow when I have seen the consultant in the morning.Keep your fingers crossed for some positive progress.

Show and Tell

The 'Middle Wife' - by an Anonymous 2nd grade teacher

(thanks to my very favourite aunt for sending this on to me)

I've been teaching now for about fifteen years. I have two kids myself, but the best birth story I know is the one I saw in my own second grade classroom a few years back.

When I was a kid, I loved show-and-tell. So I always have a few sessions with my students. It helps them get over shyness and usually, show-and-tell is pretty tame. Kids bring in pet turtles, model airplanes, pictures of fish they catch, stuff like that. And I never, ever place any boundaries or limitations on them. If they want to lug it in to school and talk about it, they're welcome.

Well, one day this little girl, Erica, a very bright, very outgoing kid, takes her turn and waddles up to the front of the class with a pillow stuffed under her sweater.

She holds up a snapshot of an infant. 'This is Luke, my baby brother, and I'm going to tell you about his birthday.'

'First, Mom and Dad made him as a symbol of their love, and then Dad put a seed in my Mom's stomach, and Luke grew in there. He ate for nine months through an umbrella cord.'

She's standing there with her hands on the pillow, and I'm trying not to laugh and wishing I had my camcorder with me. The kids are watching her in amazement.

'Then, about two Saturdays ago, my Mom starts saying and going, 'Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh!' Erica puts a hand behind her back and groans. 'She walked around the house for, like an hour, 'Oh, oh, oh!' (Now this kid is doing a hysterical duck walk and groaning.)

'My Dad called the middle wife. She delivers babies, but she doesn't have a sign on the car like the Domino's man. They got my Mom to lie down in bed like this.' (Then Erica lies down with her back against the wall.)

'And then, pop! My Mom had this bag of water she kept in there in case he got thirsty, and it just blew up and spilled all over the bed, like Psshhheew!' (This kid has her legs spread with her little hands miming water flowing away. It was too much!)

'Then the middle wife starts saying push, push, and breathes, breathe. They started counting, but never even got past ten... Then, all of a sudden, out comes my brother. He was covered in yucky stuff that they all said it was from Mom's play-center, (placenta) so there must be a lot of toys inside there. When he got out, the middle wife spanked him for crawling up in there.'

Then Erica stood up, took a big theatrical bow and returned to her seat I'm sure I applauded the loudest... Ever since then, when it's show-and-tell day, I bring my camcorder, just in case another 'Middle Wife' comes along.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

The Lake District's next top model

I have just popped indoors a moment, taking a break from building an ark in the back garden.
Seriously, the weather is being ridiculous. And yes, I know we chose to live in the Lakes and that it is fabulous, and that it is a wet place, but really...two solid months of downpours? I can't remember what the sun looks like. If it isn't pouring , the clouds are gathering. Every one of our rain coats or waterproofs is soaking wet. Anyone who comes through the door looks like a regular drowned rat. Surely, we are going to get some autumn sunshine soon? PLEASE?

My ratty mood has not improved. Can you can tell? I am now in bed with pancreatitis, brought on ( again) by the evil gallstones. I have had blood tests today and have been threatened with hospital ( again). I am seeing the consultant on Thursday and I am seriously considering chaining myself to his office and refusing to leave until he promises to take my gall bladder out. Is it really too much to ask? Can I please get on with my life?

Anyway, I am now lighter than I was when I got married. Soon I will be the same weight as when other half and I met. After that I will be a parisian cat walk model and everyone will be criticizing me for being ' far too damned skinny'. Ok- I am a little off the last stage, but it gets closer every day.

Anyway, I will leave you all now, and will return to my clear liquids and bed rest. Grrr