I hope everyone is doing well. I hope too that you all had a lovely Christmas and I wish you all the very best for 2016!
I knew I had been neglecting my blog but i didn’t realise it was four and half months since my last post! I guess I just needed some space to get myself together after the cancer treatment.
On the one year anniversary of my cancer diagnosis (mid-September) T and I did something exciting and possibly crazy, we spent a lot of money and bought ourselves a Bongo. In case you don’t know what a Bongo is here’s a picture of ours:
It’s an old vehicle but it’s in really good condition and it has everything we could possibly need for our planned adventures. Inside it has been converted into a campervan and has a fridge, 2-ring gas stove, sink, loads of cupboard space and the seats convert into a bed. The roof also lifts up and there is a tent/bed up there too. It also came with an awning/tent which can be attached to the vehicle, when it is parked up. We think it will be perfect for us and it’s great to drive, so far we have only been out for day trips, but we are looking forward to going camping in it in 2016 once the warmer weather and longer days come back.
Making a space for another vehicle
Having got the Bongo I needed to create somewhere to park it. There was space to park one vehicle on our land and I needed that for my car. While I am working I still need to keep my car. So T had to sacrifice a piece of the garden so I could create another parking space. It took me about a month to do that and it was REALLY hard physical work – digging out shrubs, removing about 4 car loads of soil and transporting them to the local landfill site, then building a low retaining wall from heavy blocks and filling the space with 1 tonne of gravel and more blocks. T offered to help, but I was worried he would put too much strain on his heart so I did most of the work on my own. Here’s the end result, unfortunately there was not enough room to make the new space for the van so my car is now parked here and the van is parked where the car used to go.
Here’s the space after the fence was removed and most of the soil taken out:
And here is it finished
This is the old parking space where the Bongo has to be parked now, I also built that wall along the side of the path. The garden used to slope down to the path, and by building the wall I was able to level out the garden with some of the soil I had to remove for the new parking bay, that saved me a couple of trips to the local landfill site, but boy oh boy those blocks were heavy to move about!
All the while I was doing this work the weather was great, in fact perfect camping weather but I had to get on and finish the project and by the time it was done (mid October) the weather was much cooler and the nights were drawing in. So still no camping for us.
Taking a break from the local history group
In mid October I stood down from my role of Chairman and committee member of the local history group, Ryde Social Heritage Group I am still a member of the group but I felt that I needed a break from the total involvement I’ve had with the group since we formed it in 2002 and I’ve been Chairman since 2007. I started the group with two friends in 2002 and have seen it develop and grow into an award winning group. It’s something I’m really proud of, but after 13 years of it being a high priority for me I realised that I had left much of ‘normal life’ for T to sort out. It just wasn’t fair to expect him to carry on doing the lion’s share of the house and garden work. It felt like we needed to be spending more time together. But I am confident that the people remaining on the Committee are as committed to the success of the group as I was, so I know it’s in safe hands and will continue the good work started all those years ago. I have quite a bit more space in my room now that all the history stuff has been handed over, but I must admit it’s still untidy and chaotic in my room and there is still far too much ‘stuff’ in here! That’s something I shall be addressing in the New Year (she said).
After a short rest following the building work I decided to start another project and we redecorated our living room together: we stripped the walls, repainted the ceiling and woodwork, then repapered the walls. We finished that job just before Christmas. Actually there are still some shelves to put up but we finished it enough to be able to use the room again over the Xmas holidays and at least it is looking fresher and cleaner now.
I had another meeting with my oncologist earlier in December, it was a good meeting and I was told the usual ‘Everything looks OK, come back in three months’. It had been bugging me a bit that other people I know who have been treated for cancer have been told that they are in remission but no-one had ever said that to me. So I decided to ask the doctor if ‘Everything looks OK’ means that I’m in remission and she said ‘Yes it does, I’m sorry but I can’t promise you that you will never get cancer again but at the moment there are no signs that you have it, so yes you are in remission’. So I left the hospital feeling considerably lighter and happier.
T’s health is still not 100% he has been off work for another two months and we are not sure he will be able to return to work, but most of the time we are both doing OK and mood-wise at the moment we are fine.
The strange Christmas Tree
I decided not to have a Christmas tree this year as I had seen this really cool idea on Pinterest so on the weekend before Christmas I went out in to the Cemetery (my house is just inside the cemetery gates) and collected a load of holly, ivy, yew and spruce cuttings and then spent a day decorating my dress form. So for Christmas we had this headless and armless ‘festive’ lady standing in the corner of the room. The cats were not sure what to make of her, but then Billy Kat discovered he could get underneath her skirt and there was a magical cat cave inside
Unfortunately I didn’t realise quite how heavy all the greenery would be and by the time Christmas was over the skirt had dropped a bit, but apart from that it did look quite effective. If I do it again next year I’ll make sure I fix the rabbit wire skirt more securely to the torso so it will stay in place.
The building and decorating projects, health issues and my return to full time working have meant that I have had very little time for art in the past 4 months, but I consoled myself that I was nevertheless still being creative even if I wasn’t making ‘my art’. The project with my radiotherapy mask is still ongoing but it was stalled for a long while and is not complete enough to share at the moment.
The image at the top of the page is from my small journal (6″ x 9″) and was completed in April 2015 when I was having radiotherapy. Because I had to travel to the mainland for the treatment, it meant there was a lot of hanging around waiting for ferries, buses and treatment so it was good to have a small journal and some pens with me.
Here is what the 3 page spread looked like before I played about with the pens:
So that’s all my news, in a long an boring post! Don’t suppose anyone has managed to get through all that text (I wouldn’t have) but that’s OK because this blog is for me more than anyone else. So that in a few years time I’ll be able to look back and say “Oh that’s what happened in 2015” as I will probably have forgotten.
Hope all is good with you in your part of the Universe.
Big love AJ
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