A Survivor

It’s been a while, 5 years I think! A lot of whiskey has flowed under the bridge since my cancer diagnosis.

SusieQ who thinks mugs marked Cat are for her exclusive use!

I came through all the cancer treatment, my hair has grown back now even longer than before the diagnosis. It’s a bit of a shambles but I am so happy it’s grown back that I haven’t the heart to cut it. I also got me a new boob! I had a reconstruction done at Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead. 8 hour op. Those surgeons are absolute geniuses. All that microsurgery. They took the fat from my tummy (a lot to choose from) and made a new boob from that. Apparently I was only the second person to be sent home without a drain. I remember the drain from the mastectomy and it was no fun dragging it around like Quasimodo. I had the op on the Tuesday and was up waiting for my lift home on the Friday morning. The care I got was second to none. Good old NHS.

Wasn’t supposed to drive for 6 weeks but I got bored, shoved a cushion down my jacket and was mobile at week three – don’t tell anyone. It was so wonderful to display a cleavage this summer and to get back to wearing normal bras. All the stuffing has been knocked out of my wardrobe.

I’ve even found time to write a book – it was written with the aim to empower women to get out there and to squeeze the pips out of life. You can download it from the Beltane Badger Shop.

A Friday Night In!

I had so much fun writing Step Away from the Sofa, standby for another book to hit cyberspace very soon!

Slàinte Mhaith

Wind in the Willows

The Wind in the Willows

Just recently I’ve rediscovered my love of The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. I was around 8 when I discovered it the first time round. The brilliant illustrations of Arthur Rackham were the first thing that attracted me to the book. A talking Badger, Mole, Rat and Toad – totally appealed to my childhood fantasies! My favourite character was Badger, he always seemed so wise and all knowing. Not at all like Toad who always seemed to be totally scatter brained and a bit of a cross cross-dresser (remember the washerwoman episode?)
I’ve done a bit of searching around regarding the illustrations for the book. There have been over 50 different illustrators down the years. These are my favourites –

Arthur Rackham
Ernest Shepard
Martin Aitchison
Tasha Tudor
Michael Hague

A big regret a couple of weeks ago was finding a vintage copy of the book in London and not buying it! What was I thinking! Still I’m sure I’ll find another copy somewhere and it’ll be the only thing I’ll happily break my New Year Resolutions for. Did you know there’s currently a  First Edition on sale at Abe Books for £12,500!!

Over the years I’ve managed to take a few photographs of these cute protagonists and these are two of my favourites. This is Ratty who in real life is a Water Vole. In the second pic if you look carefully you’ll see a small droplet of water on the end of Ratty’s nose!

Ellie Kennedy
Ellie Kennedy

I wonder how these dear little animals have fared during the recent flooding of so many riverbanks here in the UK.

So this is an animal themed post once again. I’m sure I must be the long lost love child of Sir David Attenborough or at least distantly related to Chris Packham. I actually met Chris Packham once when he judged my photo of a Blue duck the winner in a WWT photo comp. Not only did I like him because he picked my photo he was genuinely funny and had some great tales to tell about the naughty nature of the Blue duck. Apparently one in a territorial fit of rage grabbed his trouser leg and wouldn’t let go. I’m sure there are a few women also eager to grab his trouser leg!

Arthur Scoone

Maybe I should add ‘Meet Sir David Attenborough’ to my list of goals for 2021. I’d probably let myself down if I met him and mumble or dribble or giggle uncontrollably or curtsy. If anyone reading this could get me into his holy presence I would be very grateful and I promise I would take Social Skills lessons prior to the meet! I wonder if he’d like one of my animal tea cosies????

Slàinte Mhaith

One Lump or Two?

How wonderful to have gone from this

 

back again to this!

 

 

The last five years of my cancer journey have taken me in directions that I never ever imagined in my wildest dreams, off caravanning around the UK in the Catavan with Poppy my faithful little kitty,

Poppy taking caravan life in her stride

writing and publishing a book, being part of a wonderful eccentric group of friends called “How far across Europe and back can you do in a day and still see the sights and have at least 2 scoops of ice-cream” and rekindling my love for vintage cameras and sewing machines. I’ve met some wonderful supportive people and I cannot thank the MacMillan Nurses and the Medical Staff at the Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead enough. Dedication to the patients in their care is an understatement.

Another five years on cancer drugs but as they cause no side effects and they keep me safe, hey it’s no big deal.

Where to next? Standby for further post-lockdown news.

Sláinte  xx

 

First Words

Lockdown in full force here in the UK.

So how to keep myself busy and away from the TV screen? I’ve compiled a huge lockdown list and I’ve been busily ticking off all the chores/creative ideas. Then I’ve been adding more back on. I wonder how many freezers have been thoroughly defrosted in the past few weeks, or kitchen floors scrubbed within an inch of their lives?

The trouble is once the obvious chores have been done, then what do you do? I’ve been casting around for more things to add to the War & Peace version of jobs around the place like,

  • Clean the stained glass butterfly thingy that holds my Umbrella plant up straight.
  • Scrape the green moss stuff that has crept in to the crevices of my car exterior
  • Trim SusieQ’s nails
A Contemplative SusieQ
  • Put air in her tyres (the car that is, not SusieQ)
  • Glue the flappy soles back on to my slippers
  • Spend zero money for 7 days in a row
  • Win an argument with Alexa
  • Use up all those half empty bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body lotion etc.
  • Eat the contents of my freezer
  • Tidy the boot of my car 
  • See how many uses I can find for The Pink Stuff 
  • Try not to fall asleep while writing a blog post

Failing miserably at that last one, am off to bed now!

Slàinte Mhaith

The Great (Personal) Reset

Where did the time go? One minute writing out my New Year Resolutions, the next trying to avoid possibly Covid-19 infected people who were once friends and neighbours. Who on earth could have foreseen that? So back to the drawing board for a fresh set of 2021 resolutions (subject to death and taxes).

Beach Babe

I still want to get to the Galapagos Islands and I want to dive with Sharks but I fear that won’t be possible for 2 reasons, travel restrictions and I can’t afford it!

Neither can I afford my dear little cottage in France and as I am currently stuck in a flat with more rules than Putin could dream up. Adopting a Border Collie is also off the cards (for the moment). In fact so is Seeing the Northern Lights and Learning to Dive. But what I can do is

  1. Learn French
  2. Lose two and a half stone in weight from my very wibbly wobbly, unhealthy body
  3. Use up ALL of my fabric stash
  4. Use up ALL of my yarn stash
  5. Less driving and more bicycling
  6. Write every day

Six of the best. And one more –

  •     Live extremely frugally to be able to afford all of the above!

So here I am again, back on the starting blocks………………………………………………..

And now the reality

The bits I didn’t include in my last post. 

Sadly my friend and companion died last year. Like most of us he ignored his own mortality which resulted in him not updating his will. So I have been left with nothing and the executors have given me notice to quit my lovely home. If I don’t quit on the date they’ve given me they have informed me that they will charge me rent and expenses going right back to the moment he died and they’ll also apply to the court to get me evicted. What was I supposed to do, call 999, kiss him goodbye and then pack my bags? On this occasion solicitors have quite rightly earned their grubby money grabbing reputation.


We weren’t together long enough for me to qualify for a portion of his estate. I’m broke, I have no family, just my pussycat Poppy. She is all I have now and is so precious to me.
I dread having to do it but I fear I have to go through the much hated UK Benefits system. This is the one where even though you may be dying, have no arms or legs etc they will still say you are fit to work and will cut your benefits without any warning. Recent Freedom of Information Stats have revealed that over 10,000 vulnerable people have died at the hands of this brutal system. I have to navigate my way through this and I am having nightmares about it.

I’ve just read on Twitter that a nurse at a DWP interview asked a young Downs Syndrome girl “How long have you had Downs Syndrome?” Unbelievable and what chance do the rest of us have in the face of such incompetence?

I have to get myself on the Housing Register which I am not relishing. I am even eyeing up the back of my car with a view to making it into a mini camper car for Poppy and I. Desperate times.


I am going to continue with sharing my experiences of a broken benefits system and my experiences of the bully boy executors, but for now it’s chin up and don’t let the bastards grind you down. 

Slainte xxx

Getting the Jump on the New Year

Aerial view of Galapagos 2

I’ve set myself up a few New Year Resolutions that need effort with a capital E, so I thought I’d better post them now.

  1. Top resolution, buy my dream cottage in France
  2. Learn French
  3. Adopt a Border Collie dog
  4. Lose two and a half stone in weight from my very wobbly, unhealthy body
  5. Use up ALL of my fabric stash
  6. Learn to dive and take underwater photos
  7. Less driving and more cycling
  8. See the Northern Lights up close
  9. Write every day
  10. Visit the Galapagos Islands

There you are, all 10 of them, a nice even number. All perfectly achievable, however there is one small problem. At this moment in time I have the grand sum of £3.83 in the bank. So I guess unwritten resolution number 11 is raise/earn/beg a small fortune – £80k should do it for this year. GULP!

My Dream Cottage

I also should really have added pay off my debts as well, I didn’t add it as it’s not as much fun as diving with sharks in the waters around the Galapagos Islands.So that is unofficial resolution number 12. To make things more challenging my self-employed earnings have taken a drastic nose dive, so I need to figure out how to make money in the first instance.       DOUBLE GULP!!

This wee blog is now my record of how I reach my goals and get to my cottage with its Sweetpeas and Honeybees!

Second Post in a Week – Lummy!

robin waut

A list of things that the last few years  have taught me –

You don’t need –

    Instead of ruminating over something constantly get busy
    Nobody really notices your limited wardrobe as long as you don’t smell and you hair isn’t greasy
    You don’t need every camera gadget under the sun to take good pics
    You don’t need every fancy bit of software, super duper high end laptop, 29 fountain pens, fancy ink to write
    You don’t need the latest makeup, household gadget, new car to feel good about yourself

You do need –

    Friends
    A steady supply of coffee and biccies for said friends
    Discipline in work when you’re self-employed
    Curiosity
    A library card
    Warm quick dry socks and clothing
    Rubber gloves to get cat hair off your clothing
    Notebook and pen
    Access to free wifi where poss
    Water, veggies and fruit
    Countryside and wildlife
    Peace and a hug every so often

Slainte xx

The Mooncat is Back!

It’s been a while, 2 years I think! A lot of whiskey has flowed under the bridge since my last post.

Sadly down to my last pussycat, my 16 year old Poppy. I’ve had her since she was 8 weeks old, where has the time gone? We are both a bit more stiff in the joints but hanging in there.

cute Poppy

I came through all the cancer treatment, my hair has grown back now even longer than before the chemo treatment. It’s a bit of a shambles but I am so happy it’s grown back that I haven’t the heart to cut it. I also got me a new boob! I had a reconstruction done at Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead. 8 hour op. Those surgeons are absolute geniuses. All that microsurgery. They took the fat from my tummy (a lot to choose from) and made a new boob from that. Apparently I was only the second person to be sent home without a drain. I remember the drain from the mastectomy and it was no fun dragging it around like Quasimodo. I had the op on the Tuesday and was up waiting for my lift home on the Friday morning. The care I got was second to none. Good old NHS.

Wasn’t supposed to drive for 6 weeks but I got bored, shoved a cushion down my jacket and was mobile at week three – don’t tell anyone. It was so wonderful to display a cleavage this summer and to get back to wearing normal bras. All the stuffing has been knocked out of my wardrobe.

I’ve even found time to write a book – it was written with the aim to empower women to get out there and as it says I my blog by-line to squeeze the pips out of life.

Amazon-Step-Away-from-the-Sofa

Step Away from the Sofa is published on Amazon Kindle for the princely sum of £1.99!

I had so much fun writing it, I even got carried away and gave myself a new pen name – Ellie Kennedy. The Ellie bit is inspired by my Dad who always called me Elle instead of Linda. His first name was William and we always had a giggle when the line “Fire at Will” was spoken on TV. Poor man felt so persecuted! There was always someone wanting to fire at him almost every week.

Anyway, that’s enough rambling for now. Loads more to tell – but I’ll save that for another post (very, very soon!).

Slainte xxx

ONE OF A KIND

‘One of a Kind’ is how Susan described Edie in Desperate Housewives and that is how I would like to remember my darling Lily.

This is my favourite photo of her. I nicknamed her The Joker after taking it. She was a rescue cat who had had a litter of kittens and 3 different homes before she came to live with me. At first she wasn’t really sure where she was living and was always wandering into other people’s houses but after a while she settled down and became a permanent fixture on the bed/sofa/window basket/windowsill. I made a promise to her shortly after she came to live with me that she was now in her forever home and I would keep her safe and loved to the end.

A while back she had been diagnosed with feline Dementia and was gradually losing her sense of what it meant to be a cat. She was a bit like a goldfish in a bowl, forgetting that she had eaten 10 seconds ago etc. She became very needy and also forgot what the litter tray was for and that she needed to groom herself. I did resort to bathing her but that was causing us both stress and I was scared that she would go out and forget how to get home.

The vet and I agreed that her time had come and she was given the most dignified of endings – Tanya gave her a fleece blnaket and some Dreamies. So while Lily was happily playing with them she was given an injection to make her fall asleep and then when she was asleep a final injection to send her to heaven. No shaving of paws etc just a little cat gently falling asleep in my arms.

She was 2 when I rescued her and gave me 14 years of utter joy.

This is my final entry on this blog, so thank you to all who gave me such support during trying times and to those who simply took the time to write. May you all live happily and safe.

Slainte for the last time

Linda xxxx