Weekly Blog No 30 – Woman Together Can Be Dangerous.

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This year I made a big thing about my birthday because last year I was preparing for a liver resection. It’s fair to say I really don’t know how many more birthdays I’m going to have. Ideally I hope to have many more but the reality is I have an incurable disease and time is something I don’t have.

My symptoms cause me many problems, which can limit my day to day life. Although, I seem to have had a guardian angel on Monday & Tuesday because I was able to do things just like a normal person. It all changed on Wednesday and Thursday evening I went to see my GP and within 13 hrs, he had me having a scan. Further investigation is still required and I don’t know the outcome as yet.

On Monday, I spent a few hours with my coffee partner having spa treatments, which was amazing because as a rule sitting down all that time is not my normal day. We then had a coffee and soup in the famous Canadian coffee shop Tim Hortons. Thank you to my coffee partner for her lovely birthday presents and magical day. Thank you J for treating me to the luxury that was once my monthly ritual

It’s my birthday.

Today I had arranged for friends who I knew would not be working to come for coffee & cake. I was nervous because what if I had to leave my guests if I was feeling under the weather with symptoms. They are all good friends and I knew they would understand if that was the case.

The coffee machine was on giving off a dark roast aroma. The table was decorated with pinkness ie balloons and napkins etc. Serving plates were filled with an array of pink cakes. I’m ready.

First guest geordie girl arrives with balloons, gift bag and more pink cupcakes lol. Then comes along 2 more guests unknown to each other google queen & my bombay partner in crime both loaded with gifts, cards and flowers. Next comes my cockney sparrow loaded with gift bag, card and grain free, dairy free cup cakes. Finally its my little weegie loaded with gift bag unfortunately my fellow blogger was caught up in meetings so she was unable to attend.

Not all the girls had met each other before, however I knew the chat would flow. Armed with coffee & cake the conversation flowed, there was no subject out of bounds. We talked about the 80’s music, concerts, fashion, celebrities, TV shows and even Paddington Bear made an appearance. Now the gathering kicked off at 11am so no alcohol was involved yet for some reason we got onto explicit topics. I’m not sure if it was google queen or cockney sparrow who started the conversation but we were in stitches & horrified at the same time. In fact, I thought I was pretty street wise until I got this lot together yet it seems to me, I’ve lived a pretty sheltered life. I must explain the explicit topics was not the actions of the people and to be fair some of them would have been dam impossible because of their gender. I will have to give the invisible trophy to cockney sparrow for being the most educated in the explicit topics.

Woman can seriously be dangerous together and I would hate to think what we would all be like on an evening infused with alcohol. Laughter is good therapy

Thank you to my family & friends, I had a great birthday this year.

Weekly Blog No 29 – I’ve Reached Another Birthday. Whoop Whoop 😄

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When you have cancer you wonder if you will ever reach another birthday. This time last year I was about to have my liver resection and gall bladder operation. I didn’t know what to expect and it was about 6 months since my previous operation so I was sick of being a patient. Furthermore I was a little apprehensive as I didn’t know what to expect. I had 2 very experienced surgeons operating on me a neuroendocrine surgeon and liver surgeon. My birthday is on the 27th and last year it was nil by mouth in preparation for the operation, this year I do intend eating and drinking on my birthday.

I’m truly grateful that I’m here to celebrate another birthday so thank you to my care team. Do I feel better maybe not but I do have a life, yes I do. I know I don’t have a quality of life but it’s a life opposed to the other option. I really do try to ignore my disease and live life to the fullest without limitations.

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A younger healthy me  

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The beginning of my cancer journey  

This birthday will be celebrated with friends as my family are in Europe. The celebrations include spa treatments, movie, a meal and coffee & birthday cake. I couldn’t wish for anymore to be honest. Thank you to my family & friends for helping me through this year and let’s reach another one together. 😄

Weekly Blog No 28 – My Love for Music

 

 

 

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Where does my love of music come from? Where and when did the passion start?

Could the passion be passed down the genes or is it a learned behaviour. I don’t know,let’s see what you think with my situation.

My parents and brothers are all huge fans of music. I can remember my parents playing music around us from an early age. Country, Rock & Roll & Irish music seem to be their favourites, my earliest memory is an artist called Jim Reeves. Jim Reeves was a country western singer from the USA in the 50’s. My mum would play 7″ or LP vinyls and my dad played 8 track tapes moving onto cassette tapes.

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Jim Reeves

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7″ Vinyl

Most weekends we would attend an Irish dance after watching Val Doonican on the “The Val Doonican Music Show”. Val was an Irish singer from Waterford, Ireland who was around since the mid 60’s. He had various hits like ” What would I be”. He was a man with a girl’s name and wore an amazing array of knitwear.

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Val Doonican

My extended family is very artistic too, with musicians and singers. They use their talent both professionally and as a hobby. As for me, yes I can play a couple of instruments but I can’t hold a tune. My poor husband has to suffer my awful singing and I’ve had 40 years practise, yet I can still murder a song. Although I do have one talent, if you can call it a talent. I can sing along to nearly every song that I hear yet I can’t name any song title beyond one word. Lol I can’t even manage to name the band, yet I can sing all the words. Anyone who knows me, knows that I have a sharp memory and I can name groups/singers from different era’s yet I can’t necessary put a song, title or a band together. How weird is that!!!!!!

I was trying to remember what instrument I learned to play first and like most children I am sure it was the recorder. I was an owner of a recorder at a young age, nevertheless at about the age of 7, I got my first percussion instrument, a xylophone. I received this Christmas gift in the 70’s and nearly 40 years on, I still have the instrument to this day.

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 Xylophone

I did learn to play percussion, woodwind, string and harmonic instruments, nevertheless I couldn’t make a living from my talents. My dad was a self taught accordion player but I have other family members who are exceptional on the accordion/squeeze box.

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Accordion

In school I played the guitar with a group of school friends, who also read my blog. Well girls, I still have my guitar in its original case too lol. I got my guitar when I was about 13/14 it must be a vintage piece. I need to replace broken strings, which I am sure got damaged whilst travelling from the UK to Canada.

From a young age, I was exposed to music by other family members. I had a cousin who took me to a friends record shop on the Narborough Road, Leicester, UK owned by a band member from Showaddywaddy I believe. Showaddywaddy was a Leicester band and had many UK hits including a number 1 “under the moon of love” in 1976. Thank you cousin K for the introduction and you can correct me if I’m wrong, didn’t they buy me ice cream too? If I remember the ice cream was more interesting than meeting a celebrity.

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Showaddywaddy

Another fond memory was when I stayed with family in Yorkshire as a teenager and my cousin P brought a 7″ vinyl. The song was ” can’t take my eyes off you” I know Andy Williams sang the Frankie Valli hit but I don’t who the artist/band was of her version. All I do know is, she played, played and played the record and when I hear that song now, I think of cousin P and the wonderful time I had in Yorkshire, UK.

I have another cousin A who was into northern soul and still to this day she travels around the UK attending events. I don’t know if I loved some of the music because of her or whether it was because of the mod influence in the 80’s. Cousin A used to dress in 60’s attire and could totally pull off the look.

As kids, music was involved in our chosen activities discos at the local social club and “Studio” nightclub in the city centre. Every weekend we would go to roller skating at Granby Halls were they would have, what they called a roller disco. Basically dancing on skates and going around in circles showing off our skating techniques.

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 Granby Halls, Leicester

For years I would listen to the UK Top 40 on Sunday evening, whilst washing up the pots with my brother. I would buy fortnightly magazine “Smash Hits” and learn the lyrics of songs with a friend on the bus travelling to college.

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 Smash Hits Magazine

I could go on for hours telling you different stories of my music journey but the blog would be never ending. My music taste is quiet diverse from Dean Martin to II Divo to Olly Mars but my ultimate favourite music is dance music from my rave days. I am a big fan of dance music and I haven’t missed a Ministry of Sound annual cd as yet. My cd collection is ridiculous and I have to get used to downloading. Furthermore I have a collection of 7″ vinyls dated back to the 60’s including LP’s & 12″s along the way. I’m afraid I can’t let them go so am I now considered as a hoarder. Lol.

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Ministry of Sound CD

What do you think, is music in my genes or is it learned behaviour?

(Written in UK English)

Weekly Blog No 27 – Welcome 2015

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This year is all about self development and to achieve some new personal skills.

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Firstly, I want to accomplish some new cooking skills. I have purchased the tools, a kitchenaid food processor and food mixer. My goal is to use as many unprocessed ingredients as possible and develop some healthy dishes for me and my husband. I’m not trying to change my way of eating as a result of the cancer as I have previously spent thousands on natural therapies and treatments prior to my diagnosis. My opinion at the minute is not a good one in that respect, I have invested in my body yet I have an incurable cancer so I’m struggling how it was beneficial to me. I do believe eating sensibly is beneficial for your body but not as a cancer cure. Perhaps my line of thought may change over the coming year.

Secondly, I would like to explore music, i don’t know whether to learn a new musical instrument as I can play a few or continue lessons in music theory. I loved music theory at school and wish that my school had offered the subject as CSE/GSC(High School) qualification. The fiddle seems appealing or perhaps I will do both. Time to investigate where to learn the fiddle.

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Thirdly, I want to paint or craft in one way or another. Ideally it would be nice to earn some money from my existing skills.

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Fourthly, I would to continue my writing skills as I do enjoy to writing. I have been writing for nearly a year and the feedback has been wonderful. Thank you to my readers, I shall continue to write with enthusiasm.

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Fifthly, I would like to travel, nowadays this would be a huge achievement. I can’t help but hope that my cancer treatment will improve my quality of life thus allowing me to travel to see family & friends and to make new memories.

Hopefully in December, I will be able to inform my readers of my achievements. Do you have any personal goals his year?

Weekly Blog No 26 – Overview of 2014

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As 2014 is coming to an end, I thought I would give you a snapshot of my life in the last 12 months

January

Just 2 weeks into our new home I was still unpacking the boxes from our British & Canadian homes. I hadn’t seen some of the stuff since it was packed back in January 2009. Still to this day I’m unpacking boxes and saying to myself I forgot I had that or that won’t work in our new home.

It took 9 months from purchasing to entering our new home. We moved walls, extended areas, chose finishes from wall finishes to light fittings.  We had commenced the process of purchasing of our home when I was rushed into hospital (March 2013) for an emergency op. We hadn’t signed the contract with the builder yet when I got my cancer diagnosis. I’m sure some people at the time must have thought we were mad to buy a new home when we were going into the unknown of cancer. We have all been exposed to cancer and the outcome is not usually good, why would you make such a big investment. At the time we did explain to people that life does go on and to this day we don’t regret making our decision to continue as we have already enjoyed 12 months in our new home.

Towards the end of the month, I was looking forward to my liver resection operation so nil by mouth on my birthday was absolute joy. Lol. This was the first time I can honestly say I was scared, I don’t know if it was fear of the unknown or it was the fact I had 2 very experienced surgeons operating on me. I had previously had 2 major op’s in the last 9 months. (A bowel resection and spine fusion) so being a patient again was getting exhausting, nevertheless you are always grateful for the care and the thought that this is extending your life.

I was very fortunate to have daily visits from a close friend who worked at the hospital. She would visit everyday armed with pictures of Jason Statham – Actor and words of wisdom. It was better than medicine, she would always come with a smile and still to this day she is constant in my life. My care team would look forward to my evolving noticeboard, which had me and few other people giggling with laughter.

One nurse that cared for me sticks out in my mind. She came into my room and said to me ” how can I make your day better”. I shall never forget those words as long as I live

February

Post op recovery was slow, nevertheless I was getting there. My husband was taking good care of me as always, ensuring I was resting and eating. Friends and family were a huge support, however I was finding it hard to sit still and recover. I had far too much time on my hands so I was already planning and relocating furniture around our new home in my head. It can be dangerous for my husband when I have too much time to think because it involves him doing a task lol.

March

My recovery seems to be very slow or I am very impatient. I was starting to have concerns that I was not 100% right but it was still early days and doctors thought it was post op recovery, in the meantime scans were being organised.

At this point I was ready to drive again after not driving for 12 months due to health restrictions. My husband &  I decided to buy an SUV known as the black beast. I wanted to achieve independence again and attend my continuous medical appointments. Freedom is huge, most of my life I have driven a car and was considered as one of my work tools, therefore it was very fulfilling to drive again. The black beast has been a blessing in disguise, a cliche I know. Today I consider the black beast as one of my therapeutic tools. A car is something we all take for granted, I really appreciate mine and the inventor of motor vehicles, a complete genius.

This month I tried meditation for the first time in my life, I would recommend this activity to anyone who is looking for some form of relaxation.

April

In April, I loss my Uncle to cancer. I was so overwhelmed by grief for him and his immediate family. He was a very special man and had impacted my life hugely. I’ve experienced loss before but this was the hardest to date. I still think about him often and I am constantly reminded of him by the little things in life. He will be proud that I’m still maintaining a positive attitude and attempting new cooking challenges. Uncle T, my new cooking ingredient is coconut flour, let’s see what develops and feel free to giggle at my attempts. I will not be conquered by the coconut lol.

I went to the Rocky Mountains this month even though I was still experiencing some discomfort. It was lovely to see the mountains, get some fresh air and see a sprinkle of snow. Since being diagnosed everything has more meaning, for example familiar smells bring back memories, which I would of probably ignored before. Whilst in the mountains I got a familiar smell that brought back memories of Ireland. Madness I know otherwise I have psychic nose

May

In May, my husband and I started to plan the basement layout for future development. The plan is to have a furnace room, store room, bathroom, 4th bedroom/craft room and recreation room. In the interim my husband started to plan the boundary fencing to the rear garden, whilst I started to draft a garden landscape design.

My cancer symptoms continue to be persistent, however nothing showed up on recent scans. I knew this was not just post op recovery, there has to be something said about the saying “we know our bodies best”. It was time to go back to my family doctor who is very compassionate, and when he saw me, he sent me straight to hospital. To cut the story short,  I had another emergency op and the pathology report confirmed additional cancer spread. The moral of this story is, go with your gut when you know there is something wrong.

I was operated at my local hospital and was lucky to have another close friend working in the facility. She would bring me a cup of tea in a china cup everyday rather than a plastic cup to help my recovery. I have amazing friends in my life and without them my life would be so hard.

June

My husband was organising fencing with our lovely neighbours. I was still recovering from my recent op and enjoying further rest until i had to rush back to UK. My mum was rushed into hospital even though it was not the ideal circumstances to rush home for, it was great to spend time with my family. My brothers took good care of me, however saying that they ripped me to bits as brothers will do. I’m still to this day laughing at things they had said to me. They only said things they knew that I could take, trust me it would kill some sensitive soul but I have a hard skin. I’m sure they had fun too and we all created some memories.

My mum is much better but needs to learn the art of rest and to look after herself.

July

My husband & I decided to start on the garden landscaping design first rather than the basement so that we could entertain and relax in the sunshine for the remaining summer months.

July was also the month that I learned my cancer was progressing rapidly, I was given a lifespan of 1 – 3 years. Everyone reacts differently to this type of news therefore it not surprising to most people that I said life goes on and a bucket list is not for me. I still feel a bucket list is not appropriate for me and I will continue life to the full within the limitations of my health.

August

The garden was taking shape and I was able to enjoy the sunshine . Lottie would sit on the sun lounger with me basking in the heat. She is a sun worshipper for sure  It was an exhausting month for me with tests and scans, which appears to be my new life

September

No medical visits until mid September, yeah. I was able to enjoy a couple of weeks off with my husband, who took some pre booked vacation leave. We just relaxed and enjoyed our time together.

October

We decided to go to Banff for Thanksgiving to get into the spirt of the holiday. The hotel was amazing and we had a great time, however when we were about to collect the car, I took a turn for the worse and travelling home was not an option. It was the first time I had seen the fear in my husbands eyes, I will never forget that image. Being the man he is, he went into reactive mode, do I take her to hospital or organise another nights accommodation. I didn’t need a hospital just the comforts of hotel room for some rest. It was clear to both of us that my symptoms were not improving but getting worse and this needed to be addressed with the oncologist.

I have made it known on numerous occasions that I appreciate my husband so much, nevertheless he lives my life. What I mean is, he not only accommodates my illness he lives my illness too. J I love you and will always love you as Uncle T would say we are soul mates  ❤️

November 

A visit to the oncologist to discuss our concerns and discuss the latest results. More tests, scans and procedures were ordered before the next appointment in December.

This month I was starting to receive more food parcels than the Salvation Army. I can’t thank my family and friends around the globe who have enchanced my taste buds with the flavours of home.  The only problem now is I can’t drink Canadian tea, it’s like dishwater compared to Irish tea. Dishwater is no longer appealing to my taste buds. I’ve clearly been spoiled by the black stuff called strong tea.

December

My oncology appointment proved my suspicions of more cancer on the liver and wherever else it is lurking , the little pesky devils. My oncologist has increased my cancer injection to 2 every 28 days, oh my 1 butt dart was enough without 2 butt darts. I’m glad that the dart has been increased because it may improve my symptoms, which will improve my quality of life I hope.

Christmas we stayed at home but did visit a few friends over the Christmas period and New Year we will be certainly celebrating with friends.

Final comments

J and I have achieved more than we had anticipated this year under the circumstances. I am now in my 20th month since diagnosis and to be honest I didn’t think I would see this far with an incurable cancer. I don’t know if it is determination or pure luck. In 2015, I intend to continue to fight cancer, attend a family wedding, and give time to personal activities.  😄

(Written in UK English)

Weekly Blog No 25 – Leicester, UK; Home for Many Years.

Leicester was my home for many years, it’s the place that I did most of my schooling, wallowed in fashion, established a career, overindulged in alcohol, learned the art of driving and most of all created  lifelong friends

Leicester City established in the roman times and continues to be a growing city. Leicester is very diverse city today due immigration, starting with post war; polish servicemen did not return to Poland and economic migrants were arriving from the Ireland. In the 60’s, Indians started to arrive and in the 70’s Asians from Kenya and Uganda. In the 90’s Somalian’s and then there was influx of Eastern Europeans when the European Union expanded in 2004.

The city was once known for its engineering, shoemaking and hosiery industries but as time has gone on, companies have sought cheaper manufacturing in other parts of the world killing UK manufacturing.

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Leicester is in the East Midlands region of the UK

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Jewry Wall Museum

The museum grounds contain one of Leicester’s most famous landmarks, the Jewry Wall, part of the Roman town’s public baths. It is one of the tallest surviving pieces of Roman masonry in the country.

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Holy Cross Primary School.

My first school in Leicester was founded in 1824 by Dominican Fathers at another site in the city. The school has been at its current location for just over 40 years old, nevertheless the school is 90 years old today.

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Leicester Market 

A perfect saturday job seeing me through college, I loved the atmosphere and banter between the traders. This job was the start of some amazing friendships and drinking buddies for future nights out. Leicester Market is about 800 years old and is the largest outdoor covered market in Europe. There is an  indoor market containing a fish market and delicatessen, as well as stalls selling clothes, haberdashery, footwear, jewellery, gemstones, and confectionery.

240px-Leicester_Clock_Tower_wide_viewThe Clock Tower

A major monument and popular meeting point in the centre of Leicester. A Grade 2  Listed Building built in 1868 as a traffic island  The Clock Tower was designed by Joseph Goddard who won a competition and constructed of Ketton stone and Montsorrel granite.

There is four benefactors depicted on the Clock Tower are:

Simon De Montfort (c.1208-1265). Earl of Leicester

William Wyggeston (1467-1536), a wealthy wool merchant; twice mayor of Leicester; MP for Leicester 1504, founder of Wyggeston’s Hospital.

Sir Thomas White (1492-1567). A native of Reading, he endowed various Midlands towns, including Leicester, with £40, to be used for interest free loans to young men to establish themselves in business. These funds having greatly appreciated since the 16th century, loans are still administered by local trustees.

Alderman Gabriel Newton (1683-1762), woolcomber, mayor of Leicester in 1732. After the death of his only son, he used much of his wealth to provide educational facilities for the poorer children of the town.

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Leicester De Montfort University 

De Montfort University is named after Simon De Montfort one of the benefactor on the Clock Tower. It is also the university that I did my first degree, I can still remember being accepted on to the course. I was the only girl and I had an amazing time at De Montfort Uni

In the UK, we use the term pub crawl, basically we don’t stay in one pub all night. I started to look for some old photos of the pubs that I used to frequent but it became apparent that there was way to many to list. Giggles 😃 I shall just show my readers a photo of my local public house and maybe do another blog in a few weeks listing some of the venues to reminisce with friends/bloggers.

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The Midland Public House

“The Mid” as it was known, was a fantastic pub with lots of atmosphere, especially the bar. It was wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea but I have fond memories of the place and its characters. I understand that the building got planning consent for change of use from public house to 14 flats. There is so many impressive buildings around Leicester, that I’m going to blog about them separately over the next few months.

Leicester is renowned for some delightful food.

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Pork Pie

The Melton Mowbray pork pie is named after Melton Mowbray, a town in Leicestershire. Pork pies became popular among fox hunters in the Melton Mowbray during the late eighteenth century.

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Red Leicester Cheese

It used to be called Leicestershire Cheese, after the county in which it was originally made, but is now called Red Leicester

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Stilton Cheese

The blue vein cheese was established in Leicestershire village in the eighteenth century.

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Walkers Crisps

Founded in 1948 by Henry Walker of Leicester.  Walkers crisps has 58% of the British market

Leicester has provided some famous faces/celebrities too

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Kate O’Mara – Actress

Kate O’Mara was born Frances Meredith Carroll on August 10, 1939 in Leicester, Leicestershire, England.

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Graham Chapman – Actor/Writer

Graham Chapman was born on January 8, 1941 in Leicester, Leicestershire, England.

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Sue Townsend – Writer

Susan Lillian “Sue” Townsend was born 2 April 1946 in Leicester, Leicestershire, England.

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Gary Lineker – Former Footballer/sports Broadcaster

Gary Winston Lineker, OBE was born 30 November 1960 in Leicester, Leicestershire, England.

There is too many celebrities to name but I hope it gives a little insight to Leicester.

Weekly Blog No 24 – Christmas Lights/Decorations Around the World.

Sorry I’ve been a bit lapsed recently, I’ve had constant medical visits & procedures , which has led to a diagnosis of another tumor on the liver. I’m totally fine , just dealing with the symptoms and preparing for Christmas.

Enjoy the photos of Christmas lights I’ve picked for a wordless blog.

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Berlin

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New York

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London

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Toronto

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Paris

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Rome

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Singapore

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Washington