Sunday, 30 June 2013

It's Over 900!!!!!!!

Shed with added bunting and plants
New to this? Check out the First Post

Just want to let you all know that our amazing total that The Book Group raised (now that it is all in and counted, including the gift aid) ended up at:


Thank-you to every one of you that contributed and especially to the ones who cheered us on! We've all made a difference to Cancer Research!!
What a difference a pressure washer makes!
A couple of weeks ago I had a day off hoping that I could get some work done in the back yard - but it rained all day! This time I was luckier. I decided to take Saturday off when I knew the forecast was at least dry - to we could get it sorted.
 I was up bright and early-ish (didn't want to wake the neighbours too early after a Friday night!) and once the pressure washer was plugged in and fired up spent most of the day cleaning the patio flag stones.
 I couldn't believe how bright and yellow they were under all the grime. It was a revelation! Thanks to Nathan's parents who lent us their pressure washer - it is wonderful :-) We really need to buy our own!
 I really enjoyed the day actually - sometimes you are just in the mood to get things done. So, you have to make the most of it. Now I just want July, August and September to be endlessly sunny and warm - so we can enjoy sitting out in it.
Meanwhile, in between helping me when I got tired Nathan was demolishing the old shed at the top of the yard by the house. We wanted the space to make a nice sitting area that would be sheltered from any winds.
I was surprised how quickly he managed to dismantle it - it's now in sections waiting for someone to take it away! We have to decide how to best get rid of it. It wasn't worth selling as the roof and the floor were quite damp and rotten in places. The four walls are pretty sturdy though :-

So our outdoor space looks bigger now - and the shed looks prettier now that it has got plants in it window boxes and bunting over the door. N has even constructed a desk in there - so I could use it to go and write in. We seems to be able to get WiFi from down there!
I think it just needs a sign over the door with its name on Now what to call it......
Wool everywhere!
In Library News we had a great event on Friday - organised by Caroline, our own Poetry Tutor and Tracy with her knitting group. They were lucky to get a lady call Sarah Males from the Stone and Water project in Buxton to come along and show them ways of using wool and other materials to create a seascape.
Did you know that 300 million years ago the landscape of the Peak District was being formed beneath tropical seas?
Part of the coral and seaweed  display

Today, the fossils and stone formations hold the secrets of those prehistoric times and the creatures that lived there long before even the days of the dinosaurs.

Ancient Landscapes is a project that aims to get people thinking about the history of the Peaks using interactive workshops.The project is run by Buxton–based community group Stone and Water, and funded through the Peak District National Park Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund.
We trimmed up for them
Sarah has done several interactive workshops like this and has collected up all the things made during them to form an exhibition. Have a look at the blog for more information:  Ancient Landscapes. They already have photos and quotes from the session on there. All our ladies really enjoyed the session and plan to go off to Buxton to see the exhibition.
We trimmed up our meeting room where the event took place before they arrived with some pompoms and wool bunting that we'd been collecting together. Thanks mum for making so much of it :-)
Getting creative
Thanks to Caroline too. It was so lovely to see her out of term time. She'll be back in the library again in September with her poets. In the meantime she'd not taking time off for long holidays - oh no! She is busy organising the poet Simon Armitage's next epic trip through Britain. After tackling the Pennine Way last year, at the end of August he is setting off again, bartering his way with poems and readings.
This will be a journey, mainly on foot, from Minehead in Somerset along the north coast of the South West Coast Path to Land's End and beyond ... There is a rumour that he could be walking across to the Isles of Scilly! Good luck with that Simon!!
If you'd like more information about that - click here

 Well, I think that's enough excitement for one day! See you soon, xx

We put up the woollen bunting!

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Scanxiety over!!

New to this? Check out the First Post

I am very pleased to say that I had a phone call from the Specialist Nurse June the other evening and she said that my latest scan was all-clear - everything is fine so nothing to worry about! This is very good news :-) It was just 12 months since my last one so good to know nothing has popped up again. I certainly feel healthy - but then I did when this all started!

So I can relax and get on with life. Here I am again in my other office - The Lymestone Vaults. I come here on so many Wednesday afternoons with my laptop I feel like I should be paying them rent! Nathan is here doing his school apps on his laptop and they have some chilled-out jazz on in the background and very nice Two Trees Perry at the bar. It is great :-)

More rum vicar??
On Friday I had my first proper haircut since my hair actually grew back. It was looking like a big bush so needed some taming. The lovely Laura from Wolstanton did a great job of thinning it out with her razor cutting and has given me a quite funky haircut! In fact I insisted that Nathan took me out that night since I'd had my hair done. We sauntered into town and had some rather tasty Spanish food at Hector Garcia's. N had the paella and I tried the lemon Cajun chicken which was just gorgeous. Then we went somewhere we've been meaning to go to for quite some time - the rum bar above Revolution. Downstairs it's all about vodka - but upstairs they have Revolucion de Cuba which serves only rum and rum-based cocktails!

Funky hair :-)
 We are both a partial to a bit of Sailor Jerry or Captain Morgan's so we thought we'd try a selection of flavoured rums to start with. Not really convinced that they are the way forward (that's a Nathan saying :-) they were a bit sweet. Then we tried the cocktails that they serve in teapots. There was a choice of four - we went for Madhatter one with Mount Gay, Bacardi Superior and Bacardi 8 Year Old rums with passion fruit, vanilla and pineapple juice.. It was fantastic!! Definitely recommend it :-) Shame I was working the next morning or we might have stayed for more. It was a fun  place actually - the music was good and people were up and dancing.

In other news - we have put the poster we bought at Platform nine and three quarters, Kings Cross, up in the office. For extra effect we've put it above the fireplace - next to the Floo Powder :-) 

Magical Office


Now the weather is almost summer-like we have been trying to make the back yard look colourful and a nice place to sit out. I bought some plants for the window boxes on the shed. I've also ordered some pretty floral bunting to put round it. (Thanks for the idea Cathy!) I'll put some more photos on here when it is up and the flowers grow a bit!

Our cat, Boodle, seems to have taken a liking to the swinging seat too. Let's hope the weekend is warm - so we can sit out and enjoy it ourselves.

"This is the life"  says Boodle

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Home from London

Lego Tube Map
New to this? Check out the First Post

Hi again

The morning after Jago we had a wonderful breakfast with Si and Heidi at their favourite Turkish restaurant - which does great fry-ups as well as any other breakfast choice you can imagine.

Then it was time to head home. We had a couple of hours to kill so we sent to Euston via the newly refurbished Kings Cross Station. We had read that someone had made a tube map entirely from Lego - we thought it might be worth a look. Indeed it was! It seems there are a few dotted around London - and this one shows you how the map will look in 2020 - with the new stops and lines in.

Look- really made of Lego!
                                  I wonder how long it took to make?

Pretty Impressive I'm sure you'll Agree

The other thing we associate with King's Cross is of course - Harry Potter! He always made his way back to Hogwarts after the summer via Platform 93/4. We were surprised to find that it is actually here!

There seemed to be a queue of people waiting to have a go at getting through - but no-one was succeeding!

Brilliant Marketing!
They were having fun trying though - and getting their photos taken at the same time. There was an official photographer although you didn't have to buy one - you could get someone to take one on your phone. The staff would lend you a scarf - and as you had the photo done would get you to jump as they lifted up the scarf. That produced some very effective pictures!

Another prospective Hogwarts Student has a go...

There just happens to be a Harry Potter shop right beside it - where you can purchase your photo (only £8) - or any other memorabilia from the world of Harry Potter.

What a brilliant idea!

We were tempted and ended up with a poster for our office at home :-) Sadly we didn't have the time to wait in the sizeable queue to get our photos taken.

We wandered through St Pancras Station too - as it is also really impressive with some nice shops.

Just before going to Euston we had time for one more experience - so popped into the British Library to have a look at their Propaganda Exhibition. It was brilliant! Started with the history of propaganda  which began with the Catholic Church with their mission to propagate the faith. Then it became known for bad things - like justifying war and Imperialism. It is also used for good - in health campaigns for instance. We saw old adverts with Tufty the Squirrel and the Green Cross Code man telling us how to cross the road safely as well as more later campaigns such as the government's plasticine people trying to stop us all getting obese!

 It came right up-to-date with twitter. Did you know that the most retweeted tweet in history (so far!) was President Obama's when he tweeted "Four more years"

It was so fascinating that we almost missed out train. We had to sprint down the road to Euston and managed to catch it just in time :-) We had a lovely time in London - but it was pretty exhausting and we were happy to be home :-)

The British Library

Goodbye Modern Jago!

Nathan and Si test their Strength - Si won!

New to this? Check out the First Post


We are just back from a fab few days in London. We went because Nathan had been invited to the Critter Awards on Thursday night at Modern Jago - Microsoft's design space in Shoreditch (the hipster part of London where men wear red trousers) Then on Friday night we were invited to a Thank-You Event for the Microsoft Elite  - who are the developers who got apps into the Windows 8 store when it first launched. Nathan is one of those - by virtue of having Interference in there! This was also at the same place - which is an old school which has been made very designer!

Nathan checking out the many volumes of
the Human Genome
We are so lucky to have friends in London - and the wonderful Si and Heidi let us stay with them for two nights so we could go to both events. In fact Si came along to the first one - the least we could do was to get him drunk on a school night to show our gratitude :-)  (Sorry Heidi!)

Having booked a couple of days off we went down on the train on Thursday morning. So, we had to find something to do during the day - which is not hard in our buzzing Capital.

In fact just outside Euston station we saw The Wellcome Collection - so we thought "We've never been in there - let's see what its all about!"  It seemed to have a combination of science and art so would probably suit us both :-)

Huge Jelly Baby

The first nice surprise was that is was free. We had a look at Medicine Man - which told the story of Henry Wellcome, born in 1852, and his insatiable desire for collecting anything related to medicine and health. Thanks to him I have now seen Napoleon's toothbrush and George III's hair. It was a little like a calmed-down version of the mad Pitt-Rivers Museum in Oxford. He had a thing for shrunken heads too :-)

 Then we looked at Medicine Now - which was all about how medicine had developed since Wellcome died in 1936.

 The many, many volumes of the human genome were impressive - so was the exhibit explaining how they can look at an individual's DNA and say how much Asian, African or European etc. ancestry they had. We all have some of everything I think! We even saw some wool and droppings from Dolly the original cloned sheep. Nice!

Lion from SouZou exhibition
Interspersed with the scientific displays was art that had been influenced in some way by health and medicine - including a huge jelly baby.

The biggest sculpture there though was a massive representation of Obesity. The feet were so lifelike - although the rest was hideously exaggerated.  It was a bit scary - and placed next to the exhibit showing the many weight-loss pills and programmes over the ages, along with a bookcase that reached to the roof full of diet books. There have been so many diets!!

Nathan hits a coconut?
There was also an art exhibition in another room called Souzou - Outsider Art from Japan. Forty six artists who are residents or day patients in social welfare institutions across Japan. Some amazing stuff - especially the guy who draws massive cityscapes of places he's never been - just read about on the internet. They are extremely detailed. Fascinating.

They proved rather difficult to move

After that it was time to head over to Si and Heidi's to get changed for the Critter Awards. Sadly Heidi had to work - but Si got suited and booted - it was a black tie event and we headed off to Shoreditch Sadly Modern Jago is closing on 21st June - as it was only meant as a pop-up space for 6 months so get developers up and running with new stuff for Windows 8. They did extend it by 3 months as it was so popular! There was a Fairground Theme with coconut shies, hoopla and test your strength machine.

Inside we were offered drinks - various beers supplied by the staff from Brewdog in Shoreditch and for the ladies - Summer Cup, which was quite like Pimm's - but rather strong! Very easy to drink though ;-)

Si with the lead singer :-)
On entering we were given a blue pouch full of magic voting beads - and we had to pop them into the boxes along the wall - all colour-coded for various awards.

There were Surface tablets there in case you didn't know who the nominees were or what they had done. Have a look at the Critter Awards if you are interested. They were taking lots of photos so some might appear on the site soon.

Fun at The Critters
After we had done that we had a wander around. There was also an awesome band on called Rayguns Look Real Enough - described as a "comedy rock band" who were just great. They did medleys of so many songs and after the award ceremony came back on with the lead singer wearing a tiger onesie - with no front. He got everyone signing and laughing though! They made for a great atmosphere.

Another drink old chap? Don't mind if I do!
There was also a Jukebox where you could choose anything you fancied - although we discovered that people got a bit shirty if you deleted the rubbish selections and put in your own :-)

Wall of Fame - can you spot Interference?

It was a very fun night - you have to admit Microsoft know how to put on a party. We were a little worse for wear on the way home - but we made it - and Si even managed to get up for school the next morning. I did resolve not to drink any alcohol at the next one though :-)

A Little Tipsy?

Before that we had another day in the glorious sunshine. As our hosts were both working - N and I decided to amble over to leafy Chiswick.  (using underground and overground transport - makes us sound like the Wombles!)

Hogarth's House

We met up with Jodi - a former work colleague of ours when we were at Leek. He is based in Chiswick now and took us to a very nice pub in Chiswick, called the Packhorse. it was lovely and traditional inside - until you got to the conservatory where through the curtains was - a Thai Restaurant! Quite a surprise - and very busy! We managed to get some lunch - which was wonderful N and Jodi went for Pad Thai and I had some chicken with fried rice. Then Jodi showed us a little of Chiswick High Road - pointing out the good ice cream shops - before he had to go back to work. He had mentioned the river and how nice it is down there - so we decided to have a little walk along the Thames.

Hogarth's Garden
We saw a sign - so followed the road down there, past some very quaint boutique shops and lovely houses. We hadn't realised that Chiswick was so pretty :-) We walked along the river watching the boats and the ducks and swans. We also saw a lot of planes coming in, turning then casting their shadows over the river as they came in to land at nearby Heathrow. it was really interesting. We also fantasised about which apartments overlooking the river we'd like to live in if we won the lottery!

Add caption

We walked a little further and came across William Hogarth's House - which used to be in an orchard - but is now besides a very noisy and busy main road. It's a wonder he got any paintings done with all that noise ;-)

Leafy Chiswick

We spotted his ancient Mulberry tree though - with a very gnarled and twisted trunk.
We did stop at Baskin Robbins for ice cream before we headed back to Shoreditch for our very last visit ever to Modern Jago.

Hotdog anyone?
Nathan's Certificate - and photos of the night.
This was by invitation only - for the Microsoft Elite - to thank them for their work in getting Windows 8 App Store up and running. This time we were handed actual Pimm's as we came in. N was given a certificate and we both had Microsoft goody bags. There was food at this party too - a man making popcorn outside (sweet and salty) and carts indoors making hotdogs and crepes. Nathan sampled the hotdog, and I went for a huge strawberry and chocolate crepes - they were delicious! Then a very enthusiastic Microsoft lady came up to us and asked if we'd had our Flickbook made yet. Remember making them at school where you drew a little stickman on each page - in a slightly different position so that when you flicked through it he looked like he was moving? Here they did it by taking a 6 second video of you and then putting it frame-by-frame into a book. We did ours together - and they suggested we do "spinning high 5s" So we had a go, feeling rather silly in front of the camera and they gave us a book each to keep! The result looks pretty cool :-)

Busy Event - with fluffy clouds :-)

Toasting Microsoft Elite!
There were also Instamatic cameras lying around and you could take pictures of yourselves and then have a souvenir to take home. We did one of each other eating popcorn and then someone took one of us together in front of the Wall of Fame.

You can see Nathan pointing to Interference :-)

There was also an Oxygen Bar  where you could sit and get energised. I'd never tried one before - it was a little strange You put some tubes up your nose (like they do in hospital) and they connect you up to a pipe with oxygen being bubbled through some liquids. These had various flavours in them - and you had to try and work out what they were. One was labelled "Chilling" another "Reinvigorating" and you could twiddle the knobs to get the mixture you liked. There was chocolate, mint, Jasmine and Eucalyptus. They certainly cleared the head!

Nathan getting Energised!

It was sad when we had to go home - we'll not see Modern Jago again. Thank-you Microsoft for giving us this amazing space - and so many opportunities for networking and parties!!

Nobody does it better :-)

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Race for Life!!

New to this? Check out the First Post


Ready for Race for Life!
Just got back from Trentham - where the wonderful Book Group did the Race for Life - and managed to reach our target of over £500 for Cancer Research.

 I am so happy! Thanks so much to Janet, Tracy and Dawn for agreeing to join me for this wonderful event and for working so hard to get lots of sponsors.

Tracy, Dawn, Berni and Janet
The money isn't all in yet - so I will let you know our final total when I can.

Thank-you to all of you who gave money and to Nathan especially for running us there tonight and taking photos! Thanks also to Nathan's parents who came along to cheer us on as did my brother Dom and sis-in-law Sharon (it was great to see you there) 

The traffic was pretty heavy - and the roads full of women dressed in pink - as we approached the venue.

Heading to the Start
The atmosphere was terrific and very moving as you read what was on the back signs of many of the participants. That is where we put who we were running this event for. Some very sad messages, but many hopeful ones too: "For my mum" and "In memory of Miss P" (lots of those - she was evidently very popular) "For me in recovery" and some that just said "for everyone".

We all went through the shop to the Italian Gardens and the race marshals showed us the way to the start. Really, we were just carried along in a sea of pink. One lady had sprayed her white poodle pink and given her a tutu to wear too!

Ready to go!
The runners went of first, then the joggers and after that the majority of us who were walkers. It was a 5 kilometre route and took us round the lake and through the lovely gardens.

As we set off it was slow going in such a crowd but as people gradually dispersed a little  we could find our own pace.

At the Finishing Line
It was a warm evening and we enjoyed chatting as we went around. It didn't seem long until we saw the 1k marker.

Everyone was relaxed and happy. There were lots of people around the course and as Janet said to me - it was amazing how much difference it made having people cheering you on and telling you that you were doing well and nearly there!

Some people were pushing babies in buggies and others were pushing wheelchairs - it must have been much tougher for them as there were a few uphill bits and the ground was very uneven.

The Book Group with their medals!

It was probably just over an hour when we saw the finish line. Luckily that bit was downhill - and we were soon being cheered through the finishing line and given our medals! We are very proud of them and have all vowed to do it again next year!

Nathan said that the first runner came through the finish line after just 19 minutes - that is good going! Janet suggested that next year we should aim to jog round and the year after maybe run it! We might need to start the training now :-)

My Back Sign
 Afterwards you could put your back message onto a big board with everyone else's. It made a really emotional display - although one made us smile "For my partner's testicle - RIP" So many people affected by cancer - it was inspirational to take part in such a great effort.

 There were around 4,000 women taking part at this one event - I imagine Cancer Research will have a lot more in their bank account after tonight!
The wall of Back Signs at the end.

Thanks once again to all you who donated! If you meant to - it's not too late! Check out the donation page at

In other news -  I went for my 12 month scan on Monday. I am now in the grip of "Scanxiety" waiting for the results! Hopefully all will be well so I can say I have beaten cancer for good!


Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Hospital Visit

New to this? Check out the First Post

Main Reception
I went to the hospital on Monday - for my two-monthly  check-up. It is looking pretty nice. With going so often over the last year we have seen lots of hoardings go up and now they are coming down bit by bit to reveal new hospital! Also,  the landscaping is looking really good. This is me outside the awesome new Reception. It's great - most of the services now are in this main building and well signposted. If you look a bit lost after checking in - there are always staff to show you where to go - take you there if necessary!

Looking out from the Main Building
Anyway - we had a bit of a wait. When I was in Head and Neck Reception I saw one of my customers go through in a wheelchair. He's has been a regular - every week in the library borrowing Westerns - and he'd told me about his problems with neck cancer. He had a very large lump recently, that was stopping him eating and when he went for a biopsy - they kept him in.  Unfortunately I didn't get chance to have a word with him - I hope he's doing okay.
So, I couldn't complain about the wait if he was being seen to. 
Bright and Sunny

When I got in - I saw Mr Hughes - the Head Honcho! The awesome consultant who did my operation. He examined me and had a look around my throat and nose and voice box with the camera. He said everything looked fine and he'd see me in another two months. I did ask him about having a CT Scan as Dr Gahir had said I should have one a year after the last one. It is almost a year since I had the all-clear from the last one!
 He looked again at my notes and said since I'd had adenocarcinoma (which isn't usually found in the heads and neck) he would send me for a full body scan. I said that would make me feel better - since we still have no idea where this cancer thing started!
So I was given a note for a blood test and had to go to the new Vampire Area on the first floor to have blood taken before the scan could be done. Today I got a call asking me to come in for the scan on Monday. How efficient are they?? That's wonderful :-)
In other news - it is less than a week to our Race for Life - it's on June 11th at 7pm at Trentham Gardens. I am looking forward to it - and our target of £500 is starting to look achievable. Thank-you to ALL of you who have given us money so far. I can't tell you how much I think that Cancer Research is vitally important - especially with sneaky little cancers like CUP.
So, did I ever tell you we have a fundraising page -
where you can donate online - it is totally secure.

A quicker way to donate is to text 70070 with the code BOOK56 followed by any amount from £1 to £10 - it is easy and very fast!

If you prefer to deal with real money we'll have sponsorship forms too. I'm sure we'll pop one in the library - if you are nearby :-)

Meanwhile our quest for world Pub Quiz domination continues... this week we tried the one at the Cherry Tree on the A34 in Newcastle. it was a great one - there was a very amusing Scouser who was the host and his questions were pretty unusual. he gave us Dingbats, audio clips from comedy shows, music and lots of really cool categories - and didn't include much sport! We did pretty well - we came second and won a Terrys Chocolate Orange. It was good fun - so we might return. he's only been doing it for a few weeks - trying to get it off the ground. I think we should support his efforts!

We got some great photos from the library Hanging Basket class from Farida - so I have made a display in the library with them - featuring gardening books - it looks pretty cool and lots of the books have been going out.
The Ladies look like they are having fun!

Come and get your gardening books.