Blog No 146 – Going Local

The Blitz Tea Room – Kettering, Northamptonshire

Last weekend, Mr Zebrakat and I took a short drive for some lunch. The Biltz Tea Room & Jazz Lounge had been on my radar for a while, therefore I was very curious what the building interior was going to be like.

The Blitz Tea Room is a family run business. The venue is located adjacent to the Kettering Public Library. The name of the venue, obviously gives you a little clue of the theme of tea room. Hence, I was expecting to see some 1940’s memorabilia, dark wood furniture and classic wartime crockery.

Here’s a couple of photos of the venue.

This photo is pointed to the ceiling to try and capture the sky, the planes hanging down and flags etc.

The menu was a ration book with a choice of sandwiches, omelettes and panini’s etc. A vast choice drinks in specialty teas. I took a photo of a page from the menu, which references Vera Lynn and Churchill both 1940s icons.

Mr Zebrakat chose a pot of speciality tea. He was given a special timer, which determines the strength of tea you like. The longer the timer, the stronger the tea. The milk was served in an old fashioned milk bottle. It’s a miniature size of the original size of a milk bottle. This particular size bottle was given to us as children in primary/elementary school. The sugar was served in cubes a wartime ration.

We both chose different sandwiches, which was served with salad & crisps served on cute flowery china.

We then indulged in fruit scone each served with raspberry jam and clotted cream.

Some of the venues memorabilia on the walls and display cabinets.

Although the food was wonderful, it was quite pricey. I would recommend you go and experience it yourself. There was a couple of parties there, clearly celebrating special occasions which is unique.

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Blog No 145 – Wedding Anniversary

Yesterday we celebrated our wedding anniversary. Another year has passed, yet it only seems 5 minutes ago we got married. It was such a perfect day we celebrated with family and friends.

We’ve done so much in our married life, I hope there is room for more adventures to come. Mr Zebrakat told me last night, wouldn’t it have been good, if I had taken you back to our honeymoon destinations. He said he was going to hand me flight tickets to Miami and then on to the Bahamas. I would have been shocked but it wouldn’t be the first time he had surprised me with a trip. I just remember the heat in Miami this time of the year was unbelievable temperatures. How I would kill right now for a blue sea, an ocean breeze and sand in my flip flops.

Instead my sister in law invigorated me with coffee aroma and sweet bakes. Basically speciality coffees, plain scones with butter and jam preserve. The last couple of days especially Tuesday, I was so ill, I feel like I’m starting to get a bowel blockage again as I have the typical symptoms. Them dam pesky tumours won’t leave me alone, they are always wanting a nibble of my fine dining.

Mr Zebrakat gave me a beautiful bouquet in our wedding theme colours and took me to a local Italian restaurant. We both started with drinks as neither of us wanted a starter. Our main course choice was the same.

Beef Involtini Stuffed with Parma Ham, Pine Nuts & Basil in a Rich Tomato Sauce with Linguine & Garlic Buttered Green Beans

And for dessert, the top plate is Rhubarb and Custard Semifreddo with Poached Rhubarb and Pistachio Cream

The bottom plate dessert is Elderflower Infused Panna Cotta with Raspberries & White Chocolate Crumble and Peach Syrup.

The meal was excellent. A very quaint restaurant in the town and even though it was a Wednesday night the restaurant was fully booked and they had to turn people away.

Mr Zebrakat thank you, thank you for absolutely everything you do for me. You are an amazing individual with the kindest heart and I couldn’t wish for a more dedicated husband. Happy Anniversary ❤️ Now leave me alone to continue dreaming about blue seas……..

Blog No 144 – Rome, Italy 🇮🇹

At the end of May, Mr Zebrakat and I went to Rome for 4 days to surprise our dear friends. Unknown to them, we had been in cahoots with their children to surprise them when they had arrived in Rome from Florence. They had travelled from the USA to explore some of Italy before boarding a Mediterranean cruise. We’ve never been to Rome and knew that if we took this trip we could kill two birds with one stone.

Our Hotel

Cakes served on the morning buffet

Street scene outside our hotel

After getting the necessary paperwork to confirm I was fit to fly. I had the tedious task of obtaining travel insurance. I have to be honest it’s hard work and frustrating. Firstly explaining your cancer, as there is too many assumptions made. Secondly being refused by companies that specialise in cancer travel insurance. Thirdly the rip off price that you get penalised for.

We haven’t seen our friends for 11 years. Shocking, I know. Our last meet up was Las Vegas in 2008, which I have to say was an exceptional trip. Time can just pass you by sometimes.

Our friends J & S had organised trips prior to arriving in Italy. Therefore we were happy to slot into their schedule, as it gave me time to rest between our meet ups.

Trevi Fountain

Spanish Steps

We waited for their arrival in their hotel foyer. When they did finally arrive, we were both trying not to look too conspicuous in the corner. J was checking in and S took a seat. I approached S first and I will never forget as long as I live the surprised look in her face. Then came the hugs, the words to the effect of “OMG, I can’t believe it ” and then tears of joy. J turned around and thought it was a coincidence that we were both in the same hotel until we explained we came to surprise them. U.K 1 – USA 0. It was a fantastic feeling to surprise such a beautiful couple and in a magnificent city. Rome is a very charming european city and has a very unspoilt feeling about it. The city steeps in history and there is plenty to see.

Our hotel was around the corner from the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. We did an open bus tour for about 3hrs, we went around twice as there was so much to see. Did Mr Zebrakat and I see everything, no we didn’t so we may have to go back again someday.

Thank you J & S for a wonderful, emotional and rejuvenating time.

Blog No 143 – East Carlton Country Park

East Carlton Country Park

On the first Bank Holiday of May in the U.K also Spring Bank Holiday. We decided to go to East Carlton Country Park in Leicestershire, with the family and our two dogs, Lottie & Dave.

Dave x

Dave is a cocker & shih tzu cross (cock a tzu), a black chunky dog with cute white markings on his chest & paws. Dave is still a puppy & Lottie is 8 yrs old yet she’s a lot smaller than Dave. Lottie & Dave are fine together as they’ve already bonded.

Lottie x

Off they ran amongst the grass and daises. They even met some cows from the adjacent field.

Cows

Around the park there is many wooden sculptures like this one.

Adjacent to the car park is another building, with it’s mixed use is. Cafe, shops and craft workshops.

The building in the first photo of the blog known as Carlton Hall built in 1870 for the Palmer family. It’s architecture is Italianate style with French pavilion roofs.

The Hall came into the Palmer family marriage in 1408 of William Palmer to Anne a daughter of Nicholas Warde owner of Carlton Hall.

In 1920 the Hall was leased by the Firth family to Sheffield Steel. It was sold in 1934 to Stewarts and Lloyd and used for offices.

I was informed whilst I made enquires about the current use of the Hall. The Hall is owned by an Italian. It appears to be his second home and for the last 12 months he’s been renovating the building. No one knows what the intended future used is.

Blog No 142 – Stratford-upon-Avon (1st Zebra Tour)

Shakespeare Home

This weekend I met up with a couple of carcinoid cancer patients and their husbands. I had originally met Kath & Heather through a Facebook support group. Kath & I have been speaking on the phone for sometime and Heather & I have met a couple times at the Royal Free Hospital, London. This was the beginning of zebra tours, our very first one, which we hope to continue and extend to other zebras.

We all agreed to meet up in a central location for everyone, I was the closest because of my difficulties, so thank you ladies, it was huge help. Stratford Upon Avon was our location of choice. Kath came from the North and Heather came from the South and we joined in the middle.

Heathers husband aka Melboy is a fantastic negotiator, therefore he booked our trip and obtained extras for us. A hotel for a night became dinner, breakfast, lunch & drinks for us all and spa treatments for the ladies. The hotel was The Swan, Stratford Upon Avon

We started off with lunch and drinks, which was lovely. The ladies then headed to the spa for foot & leg treatment, arm & hand treatment and head & shoulder. The treatment was a scrub and then massage, it was heaven. It was 20mins for each treatment. The guys went for a walk and a swift drink. We all then went and watched FA Cup football(Soccer) in a pub as Mr Zebrakat and Kath husband Ade are big footie fans.

Just before 8pm we headed for dinner to the Bistro Pierre, where we enjoyed 3 courses, prosecco and coffee. Before heading to the hotel bar for a nightcap. We all had a lovely sleep without our furry animals.

The following morning we all went for breakfast, which wasn’t the best. However do you care when your in good company. We then started walking into the town to see the lovely sites. Amazing & beautiful town, which was holding a artisan market. We all indulged in its delights before saying goodbye to each other. We all had a wonderful time and looking to book another gathering very soon.

Weekly Blog No 140 -Update

I shouldn’t be calling my blog a weekly blog nowadays, as clearly its been some time since my last blog. I do love writing them but I don’t want my blogs to be just about medical stuff. It’s hard not too, when your life is medicalLy focused. This blog is going to be medical but the next one will be non medical. Keep your eyes peeled.

Let’s get the medical update out the way. Since the beginning of the year till the end of March, I’ve had approximately 35 medical appointments and approximately 10 of them have been scans.

I’ve been having ongoing issues that require continual Specialist input. I’m under 3 hospitals but I’ve been scanned at 6 medical facilities in 3 different county’s of the U.K. one of them being in London. My appointments are tiresome and travelling can be very demanding. I’m currently under the following Specialists Oncologist(Net Specialist), Neurologist, Spine Specialist, Endocrinologist, Cardiologist and Neuropsychologist. Is there any gist that I’ve left out? maybe not. Subsequently you can see that my life is a balancing act of symptoms and appointments.

There was some concern recently that carcinoid syndrome had affected my heart. Therefore, I’ve been undergoing various tests and I’m glad to report my heart is good. Yeah high five to a healthy organ. On the other hand, my high blood pressure is currently out of control. Even my existing medication wasn’t resolving the issue. Therefore the Cardiologist has introduced a third medication to reduce the numbers. I’ve yet to see if the numbers have been reduced. My suspicions is my blood pressure won’t reduce with the assistance of additional medication. I believe it’s tumour activity as from my previous experience it spikes my blood pressure. I willing to accept that I was wrong if it does work and reduce the numbers considerably.

Furthermore I need to buy a T-shirt with the following words ” I don’t suffer from white coat syndrome’. When you attend a hospital appointment, the nurse takes your blood pressure and quote on the T-shirt may save me from repeating myself explaining what the underlying cause is. I hate assumptions, as too many people make them everyday.

The Spine Specialist is still under the impression that I have cancer on the spine, however he’s going to monitor the progress. I have a lot of spine pain and sciatica down both legs. Next week I’m having nerve block injections again. Should the injections not work, I will be going under the knife again. If I do end up having another spine op, he will be doing a biopsy on the spine.

Endocrinologist, I have to say this Doctor was not only very approachable but very funny too. I was very impressed with his knowledge of my medical history. His waiting list for appointments is 10 months but he’s going to see me again in 3 months for results. My thyroid is not corrected itself with medication. He’s upped my medication to 300mg, which is very high. It doesn’t appear that I’m absorbing my medication. Light bulb moment, didn’t I say that nearly 2 years ago to my medical team. Ummmmm. The Endocrinologist is proposing a T3 treatment but I will have to explore this option more.

The Neurologist is happy that the migraines are better controlled by an increase of medication. I really didn’t fancy an injection in the head.

The Net Specialist had ordered additional bloods and scans, which I’ve done and he will update me going forward with treatment at the end of the month.

Neurophysiologist will be doing nerve testing at the end of the month due to issues that have become apparent in the last couple of months. There’s no obvious reason for damage to my thoracic nerve either. Let’s hope the Neurophysiologist can shed some light.

There’s never a dull moment in my life, yet I continue life like there’s nothing wrong. I’m not going to deny it’s not easy some days but I’m not going to dwell on them either. There’s a saying “strength does not come from winning”.

Weekly Blog No 139 – My Birthday

Copyright © 2019 Zebrakat

I’m falling behind again in my blogs due to symptoms. However I’ve made another birthday, how amazing is that. I have currently reached 5 birthdays since diagnosis, what an achievement.

Last year my birthday was post op, Mr Zebrakat decided to make my birthday this year a little bit more special. He had organised a weekend in London. Although it’s quiet difficult for me, I was up for the challenge. Who doesn’t like a change of environment and to feel normal again.

We stayed in a beautiful hotel in South Kensington adjacent to the museums. The hotel treated us like VIP guests. They also left me a bottle of claret, a gift box of spa products and a nicely handwritten card from the Hotel Manager. The hotel decor was stunning, the cleanliness was immaculate and the customer service was impeccable.

We went to V & A Museum, there is no way you could view all the exhibits in a day. The venue has 145 galleries, therefore an incredible amount of exhibits. From architecture, furniture to sculpture. Well worth a visit and a walk through history.

Copyright © 2019 Zebrakat

On my birthday we went to see a West End show called “Thriller”. A spectacular show of Michael Jackson hits. The resemblance of MJ was unbelievable. The hits just kept coming and coming. The dancing phenomenal throughout the show.

Copyright © 2019 Zebrakat

We also visited the Imperial War Museum, Lambert, an insight of war history. The museum exhibits WWI, WW2, The Cold War and the Holocaust and much more. I’m not sure if the Holocaust exhibit is a permanent exhibition but its anniversary is on my birthday, which I will never forget.

Copyright © 2019 Zebrakat

Copyright © 2019 Zebrakat
Copyright © 2019 Zebrakat
Copyright © 2019 Zebrakat

Copyright © 2019 Zebrakat

One lesson that I had learned from Canada was we don’t explore our own country enough. In my past life, any opportunity for a break away from work. I would jump on a aeroplane and leave the country for sunshine & culture. Clearly forgetting that there is so much to see in the U.K. Canadians are fantastic at exploring their own country. I’m starting to realise now the U.K. has a lot to offer but it’s not always cheap. You need to shop around and grab online deals when you see them. It’s unbelievable that a city break in Europe is sometimes cheaper than a weekend in the U.K.

On our final day, we went to Harrods for breakfast. What a wonderful experience that was, the service was errorless. The food was of the highest quality, served on china. The tea set was silverware. The ambience of the room was art deco with background music of the rat pack. A divine experience on how the other half live.

Copyright © 2019 Zebrakat

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all my family & friends for cards, gifts, balloons and flowers.

To my awesome husband, for making memories, treating me like a queen and always putting me first in life. You are one of kind and I won’t let you forget that.

Love to you all.