Sunday, 28 June 2015

a midnight dip in the Med and more tales from Malaga

In Malaga on 23 June, the locals celebrate "La Noce de San Juan" by gathering on the beach as night falls, sharing food and drink with family and friends.  

Bonfires are lit and those with the skill, energy and nerve take turns to jump over the fire three times...supposedly to purify and cleanse the soul and burn away troubles - but these days more likely to show off acrobatic skills! 

Jumping the fire : La Noce de San Juan
At midnight, crowds of people walk into the sea to splash (or submerge) themselves in sea water - said to bring good luck and make you beautiful....

Then the fireworks begin! 

Going to La Noce de San Juan was a fantastic way to spend our last night in Spain, where we had been based in Malaga for a week in a wonderful apartment located in the neighbourhood of Huelin, off the tourist track, but close to the local market, the beach and with easy access to the historic centre in one direction and the airport in the other direction. I confess, we didn't jump the fire - but we did paddle in the sea and splash ourselves just for the fun of it!

The rest of the week was a lovely mixture of activity and relaxation....

....sightseeing in the historic heart of the city with its Roman amphitheatre, Alcazaba castle and gardens, monumental cathedral and maze of narrow streets....

The Alacazaba
Malaga Cathedral

...enjoying and photographing some of Malaga's modern sights - El Palmeral de las Sorpresas (a covered walkway along the harbourside, with palm gardens off); the Meuelle (port) walk, lined with shops, cafes and bars; the Trade Fair and Exhibition Centre....

El Palmera de las Sopresas

El Palmera de las Sopressas

Trade Fiar and Exhibition Centre

...taking in some culture at the Picasso Museum; the Centre for Contemporary Andalusian Art; the recently opened Pompidou Centre (the only one outside France) and the Automobile Museum, which also included art and fashion...

Picasso Museum

Pompidou Centre

Centre for Contemporary Andalusian Art

Museo de Automoviles 

...a day trip on the high speed train to Cordoba, where we were blown away by the Mesquita - both cathedral and mosque....

Cathedral at the Mesquita

Mosque at the Mesquita

...visits to the local markets where the range of fish, fruit, veg, cheeses, breads and other wonderful things to eat was mouth-watering..

...and enjoying strolls along the beach paseo most evenings, often stopping for a beer or mojito at a local bar and tasting the seafood at one of the many chiringuitos seafood beachfront restaurants...

Getting his toes wet...

Cooking sardines in boats BBQs at the chiringuyito

La Playa de la Misericordia

...or simply chilling out on the little roof terrace, watching the gulls, swifts, swallows and green parrots pass by overhead, and life going on in the street below..

It was hot and sunny every day - a bit too hot in Cordoba, where we melted as the temperature soared to 40C - so we paced ourselves accordingly.  We both noticed that Steve now gets puffed out more easily, so we ambled mostly and sat down for a breather whenever necessary.  Even so, I never thought we would be out and about in Spain for a week in June when only six months before the doctor thought Steve only had a small number of months to live.  How amazing is that?  

We are off again next week on another short adventure - part business, part pleasure...Just making the most of this unexpected period of borrowed time before Steve's next scan and follow up assessment later in July when he might have to make some tough decisions about further treatment/trials, or (perhaps worse still) find out that he doesn't have any options...Trying hard not to think about that, more focussing on the here and now....

.... Love to all our friends, especially the meso warriors around the world x

P.S. In case you are wondering, I haven't notice that we are now more beautiful than before our dip in the sea on La Noce de San Juan, but it makes us smile just remembering the experience - and anything that lights up our faces must be good!

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Reasons to be cheerful - including one very special one!

It's east to let life's frustrations and negative things get you down, but since my last post we've had several reasons to be cheerful...

...An unexpected invitation

Last week, as the sun shone in a clear blue sky, the phone rang and it was a friend inviting us over to Islip,a village near Oxford where we live, for drinks with him and his wife.  

A few years ago, their dream of downsizing into the small stable block apartment in the grounds of their larger house appeared to be shattered when the local council raised a "fundamental" objection to any further enlargement of the building on Green Belt grounds.  However, some planning advice from us and one meeting with the planners later and the objection evaporated.  The stables were enlarged with permission; they have moved in, sold the big house and worked hard on the new garden over the winter.  And it's marvellous!  

Thank you Richard and Mary for a very enjoyable evening in beautiful surroundings, with good food and wine and excellent company!

...Going over the top

My birthday present last year and daughter Katie's birthday present this year from son/brother Jack was to climb over the roof of the Millennium Dome, now known as the 02 Arena, in London.  It's been a long time coming, and sadly Jack didn't make it, but Katie and I did the climb on Sunday, after lunch at Craft London on the Greenwich Peninsula with Steve.

When the time came, we donned oversized climbing suits and comfy boots, strapped up our harnesses, clicked on to the safety wire and climbed up the bouncy fabric walkway to the top of the Dome 52m high.  

15-20 minutes, some mobile phone views of London's skyline and a couple of selfies later, it was time to make the decent.  

Walking up and down a 30 degree incline on a bouncy walkway high above London tethered to a safety line is not the easiest thing in the world, but a great thrill!  I'm so glad we did it.  Thank you Jack!

...Enjoying the garden

The garden has come into its own in recent weeks, when the weather has been warm enough to sit out.  The raised beds are now packed to bursting point with not only the plants that we put but also self-sown seeds that have sprung into life after the soil has been moved around: forget-me-nots; poppies; foxgloves; granny's bonnet; love-lies-bleeding...It almost seems a pity to leave it now, as the next wave of buds are starting to open...but it's that time again!

...Off on another adventure 

We are going back to Andalusia very soon for some more sight-seeing, photography; good food and wine and warm sunshine.  A good way to fill the time between now and Steve's next scan and hospital appointment in July! 

..But there best reason to be cheerful is

Today is the sixth anniversary of Steve's mesothelioma diagnosis.  And in spite of the doctor's dire prognosis back in early December last year that he only a "small number of months" to live, he's still here and we are still doing things and having fun.  He has been a bit breathless recently but thinks it more likely to be hay fever than the meso as his eyes have been red and stingy too.  Must remember to pack the hay fever tablets and puffer! 

Please join us in a virtual glass this evening to celebrate this special occasion.  Cheers! 

Monday, 8 June 2015

A huge effort and lots of relaxation

Yesterday, while we sat relaxing in the garden with our friends Jonathan and Sally under bright sunshine and blue skies, our son Jack was putting in a great effort to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Care by cycling 153k over the Brecon Beacons in the Wiggle Dragon Ride.  

Jack's photo of the Devil's Elbow:  the bit just before it got REALLY steep!
In old money, he cycled a total of 95.7 miles gaining 8,431 ft in elevation.  And he did it in 5 hours:50 minutes, excluding stops.  Well done Jack!  

Many thanks to all those who sponsored him.  If you are impressed by his effort and would like to show your appreciation, Jack's Just Giving page is still open for donations. You can access the link by clicking here 

Our efforts have been much more modest, including one trip to Bristol to see Jack and visit Steve's mum in her nursing home....although the latter was a bit scary - there was a hoist beside her empty bed when we arrived and we feared the worst.  As it happened, she had simply been moved to another room just down the corridor....But sadly, this time she didn't wake up, kisses and caresses notwithstanding.

The rest of the time since my last post has just been day-to-day stuff, plus a visit to the GP due to temporary problem with hearing, now cured by inflating a balloon by blowing through one nostril (no - I kid you not...Otovent designed for kids, even a grown up like me can do it!) plus an appointment to see the spinal surgeon about my back.  

I'll stay on the list for surgery in the longer term, but have opted for another nerve root block injection to deal with pain in the interim.  When you care for someone with incurable cancer like mesothelioma you tend to think twice before undergoing a major operation yourself, especially if the problem doesn't affect day-to-day life other than causing pain which can be managed effectively in less drastic ways, as in my case. 

Steve has noticed a bit more breathlessness recently when running up and down stairs, but nothing too debilitating. Consequently, we have finalised plans for our next adventure arrangements, accommodation, car parking and currency...all set to go soon!  But there is another exciting event due to take place next weekend, weather permitting.  More of that in my next post.....

Last but not least, it's been very good news for other meso warriors.  Fellow blogger Mavis in Kent has started her second year on the Keyruda (PD-L1) immunotherapy trial and her tumours continue to shrink, while Lou in Australia is having good results after three doses of the same drug, although the side effects are tough.  We are also thinking of Amanda and Ray who are due to get interim scan results today to see whether he will stay on the "tremi" trial (another immunotherapy drug). Fingers crossed.  

As always, much love to all the meso warriors out there, their families and friends x