During the first quarter, Steve was having the last two cycles of second line chemotherapy with Alimta and carboplatin and recovering slowly but surely from the side effects of treatment. Apart from hospital visits and the weekly food shop we rarely left the house, effectively going into hibernation for January, February and much of March.
As spring arrived, we woke up and set out on our travels - visiting three countries in the second quarter of 2013. Madrid, Toledo and Valencia in Spain during April. Siena, Pisa and the hill villages and rural delights of southern Tuscany in Italy during May. In June, the Eurostar took us to the south of France - Avignon, Marseille and the hill villages and rural delights of the Luberon.
Having satisfied the wanderlust for the time being, the third quarter of the year has been pencilled in as a time to stay at home and work on the house and garden, adapting it to suit our current lifestyle.
There are great plans to replace the very dilapidated garden shed with a larger multipurpose garden room and to redesign the garden round it. We also want to refurbish a bedroom formerly used by our (now grown up) children into welcoming accommodation for visitors, with lots of discrete storage space - and somewhere we can sleep temporarily while redecorating our own bedroom. And that's just the start of a long list of other jobs for the summer quarter...
With so many things on the house and garden "to do" list, we should have made a start by now. But here we are, three weeks into July - the month when others have been busy: Andy Murray winning Wimbledon; Chris Frome winning the Tour de France; England beating Australia in the first two test matches in the Ashes series. Our nephew has become a father (congratulations Matt!)and a Royal baby is expected to arrive today. The UK has been basking in the most prolonged heat wave in years - and nothing has happened yet on the home front here in Oxford!
Although we planned to be at home, for various reasons we have been away from base much of the time since the beginning of July.
We started the month a few days after our return from France by traveling to Bristol to visit Steve's mum and pick up our son who returned with us to stay in Oxford for a few days during the first week of July.
I then spent part of the following week on an intensive work-related trip to Guernsey. Two days later we were heading off again, this time to North Yorkshire where we stayed with our friend Rob in Richmond (another town built on a hill - we seem to be collecting them this year) for the launch of the "Best Shots" photography exhibition, which I helped judge.
It was fascinating to see the 100 Best Shots printed and framed, hanging in The Station - a wonderful venue where you can see art, catch a film, eat out or treat yourself to something special from the artisan food producers. For once, I found myself in front of rather than behind the camera as the category winners were photographed for the local paper, with a guest judge or two!
|Best Shots "Young Snappers" winners and judges|
Before leaving Richmond, we explored the castle and broke the journey there and back with a visit to Hardwick Hall (and a welcome National Trust tea room).
|Steve at Richmond Castle|
One day back at at home and then we were off again to Bristol to help our son with some DIY jobs better suited to a team effort with motorised transport, rather a single pair of hands. Hard work in the heat! However, we treated ourselves to a trip to the seaside, an ice cream on Clevedon Promenade, visited the pier and had lunch at the Victorian Gothic Revival House and estate of Tyntesfield, in another National Trust cafe.
The last time we were at Tyntesfield was in 2009, in one of Steve's "rest weeks" during first line chemo on the Velcade drug trial (Oh I do like to be beside the seaside - 15 September 2009). At that time, the building was completely covered in scaffold, in the middle of a major restoration. It was good to see the house now beautifully restored and to reflect on what has happened in our lives since then. We had hoped, but never assumed, that Steve would still be here to see the finished job, so it was a special experience for us this time round some four years later to see Tyntesfield in all its glory.
Here we are now back at home for a few days, with a small opportunity to try to catch up on all those things that have been on the back burner for the last three weeks. It's also about time I rested and recovered fully from the chest infection that started four weeks ago in Marseille and has been hanging around ever since. Plus there are lots of birthdays on the horizon before the end of the month and some more traveling/days out. Perhaps we will simply postpone the start of work on the home front until August instead.....
Thinking of all the meso warriors, their families and friends, especially those whose in pain and those whose absence is still very keenly felt by the meso community. Miss you so much x