Last weekend was a high, visiting our daughter and her partner in London. We met them for lunch at Tate Modern, went on to see the Matisse Cut Outs exhibition,
then walked along the Thames, over Tower Bridge and around the Tower of London to see the ceramic poppies spilling out of the building and around the moat to commemorate those who lost their lives in World War 1.
Rather than returning to Oxford as we would normally do after a day out in London, we had booked into a B and B near Katie and Ed's flat which meant we could enjoy an evening meal out together at Mosaica, part of a converted chocolate factory in the middle of an industrial estate, followed by a glass or two of wine back at their place before going back to our overnight accommodation, a short walk away.
After a leisurely breakfast on Sunday morning, all four of us took the bus up to Alexandra Palace (or Ally Pally as it is affectionately known!)
to browse the farmers market, walk around the People's Palace and enjoy the expansive views over London, before going back to their flat for lunch then on to Paddington and home on the train.
The high turned into a low when we read about the death of Tess, one of our meso blogger friends. Another reality check...
The big garden makeover started on Monday morning, with contractors coming in to do the heavy work; taking up the remaining old paving slabs, digging out the base for the new paved area; filling it up with hardcore and a layer of sand then setting out the new paving. Most of the time we kept out of the way, working upstairs and letting them get on with it - just popping down when called if there was a decision to be made, or something to sort out.
Progress was looking good when I left on Thursday for a work-related trip to Guernsey, but there was bad news on my arrival home on Friday. We had ordered and paid for railway sleepers a couple of weeks ago. These are going to be used to make raised beds around the paved area. When the contractors went to collect them on Friday, only 10 out of the 15 sleepers we had paid for were available. The rest had been sold on to someone else! Can you believe that? I was spitting feathers, especially when we were told that they had no more in stock and didn't know when the next delivery would arrive. AWBS - you have been named and shamed. This is not the way to conduct business or win customers.
Without all the sleepers, we can't finish the raised beds, do the planting, finish the job and clean up the house (everything comes in and out through the house, so it gets mucky even with the greatest of care...) We went to AWBS yesterday morning to ask what they were going to do to sort out the mess they had got us into. The chap in charge on Saturday said he couldn't help, but he would ask the manager to contact us on Monday. I spent yesterday afternoon looking for a new supplier. We shall see what happens next week.
These circumstances would be annoying at the best of times, but with a trip away planned later in September and the likelihood that Steve will be having treatment or one sort or another not so long after that, we can't let the job drag on. Once life is dominated by hospital appointments, everything else is likely to go on hold. We simply don't have the time to waste. SO frustrating...
However, it wasn't all bad news this weekend. If you are a regular reader of the blog, you will know that from time to time I submit a photo to the Guardian Weekend Magazine in response to the weekly theme. If I'm lucky, its published in the paper or online. The grand total of my selected images was 11 up until yesterday morning, when number 12 appeared in the magazine, taking pride of place in the final "Your Pictures" feature. That put a smile on our faces - and a good note on which to finish the series.
Other highs included a meet up with old friends at on Friday night, and receiving a copy of the 1X yearbook Mono, which includes one of my images - a great honour.
Missing the launch of a friend's book on Wednesday was frustrating. However, an artwork project we have been working on with a mutual friend has turned out to be a success. Discovering we had left the freezer door slightly ajar and everything had melted was a bit of a downer earlier in the week, but its re-stocked now, so all's well that ends well.
Setting aside the loss of yet another brave meso warrior, on balance, I think the highs and progress made over the last 10 days more than make up for the lows and the frustrations in this period. That's got to be worth celebrating.
Today has been another high, but more about that - and some pictures - later in the week.
Hospital appointments have been coming through thick and fast. Steve had his scan last Friday. I have a spinal nerve block injection next Friday. Two appointments have come through in early October for Steve to see the Clinical Trials Team and the consultant oncologist, then we have flu jabs in mid-October and a follow-up appointment with a consultant for me in December to see if the spinal nerve block helps relieve my back pain. For people who don't plan ahead very far, the diary is looking remarkably busy...