Weekly Blog No 102 – Local Dog Show

Yesterday we went to a local dog show with the hope that we could enter Lottie into some of the categories. Oh my, it was a dog fest with more cross breeds than pedigrees. Dont they say owners can look like their pets, maybe there is some truth in that saying.

We entered Lottie into 2 categories as the rain looked promising. 1. Prettiest Bitch and 2. Best Crossbreed.  There was 5 rosettes to be won in each category.  I actually did think Lottie would win one in the prettiest bitch category as everyone was saying how pretty she was. We had people stop us to stroke Lottie. Yet she didn’t win in either category. Never mind there is always next year.

The event was good fun and proves that people are very passionate about their pets. The grey sky never put a hindrance on the day and the show went on even when there was a sprinkle of rain. Enjoy looking at some of pets who attended the day. X

Weekly Blog No 101 – Vegetable Garden

This year, my goal was to do a vegetable garden. As I had the space down the bottom of garden, it was worth a shot. In February/March, I started to grow from seeds, tomatoes and brussels sprouts. In the meantime, I got Mr Zebrakat to start making raised wooden beds.

Everything I was attempting was a complete learning curve. I did the seeds in seed trays and watering the seeds was crucial. There was even an element of excitement when you see a sea of green coming through the soil. Little leaves started to protrude through and develop into a dainty like stem. Once I had seedlings I would transfer them into seed/cutting trays. Seeds definitely need a lot of attention and perseverance. Outdoor seeds seem less demanding. Now in seeing my crop of veggies, I think I would attempt seeds again but on a smaller scale as I will explain later.

I needed the wooden raised beds, therefore I got Mr Zebrakat to show me his carpentry skills. My request was wooden tubs with legs to reduce bending. Most of my raised were 4ft X 2ft. I painted the outside of the beds with a Ronseal paint. I filled the bed with a layer of gravel for drainage and to stop mould. Then a layer of organic compost and then a moisture control soil and I had read raised beds dry out quicker. That does appear to be the case, however we have had extreme heat wave days.

20170525_094446

Raised Vegetable Beds

I attempted to plant vegetable companions to avoid diseases etc. For example Brussels with tomatoes.  Potatoes with cauliflower. I brought cauliflower plants the only plant I didn’t grow from seed and caterpillars took revenge. The perfect yellow and black inserts were all over the back of the leaves. I was so disappointed, nevertheless it’s the only way to learn. Therefore, to eliminate the problem I removed them all. Goodbye cauliflower.

I then sow carrots from seed directly into the beds and are ready in 12 weeks. They are doing fine, however are being smothered by tomato plants.  Brussels are still growing and I’m learning they take a while. My early potatoes are taking shape in spite of picking some to early. My first crop of potatoes tasted wonderful.  I actually pulled the potatoes when the plant flowered, I have since you don’t pull them until the flower has died. Someone else told me to let them flower twice before gathering the next crop.  well today I have collected the remaining crop. I shall plant some more potatoes in the next couple of days.

20170703_181141

Potatoes

I actually over planted my tomatoes. It’s like a jungle of plants and restricting my walking around the beds. I have learned, I don’t need so many plants next time around and I will support the individual plants. Although my tomatoes are taking shape as you can see from the photos its definitely a lesson learned.

When spaces become vacant in the beds, I will plant some other vegetables. I would like to try courgettes, cabbage and salad items. If anyone has any tips please share them with me.

Weekly Blog No 100 – Cancer Update. 

f4212444e91db2f75724f1306a547725

Cancer Update.



Late January my GP/Family Physcian was getting concerned with me, regarding my symptoms. The Royal Free Hospital, London, UK requested some additional tests including the most advanced scan for my cancer. I have personally been struggling at times, when I have a bad day, I rest and when I have a good day I make the most of it. My body was certainly telling me my cancer had advanced but I had to have medical procedures to confirm that. Today, I went to the RFH for the results and the news was not great.

There was more progression of cancer both in my abdomen and liver.  Was I shocked, no I wasn’t because I knew. What was my reaction, well I smiled because now there was data to represent my symptoms. Weird reaction, I know but I’ve been here at least 5 times before, it’s old hat.  What happens now, my Oncologist wants me to have additional scans to examine the growth in more detail on my abdomen and liver, which is supposed to be in the next 2-4 weeks. However my scan is in 4 weeks with additional blood work. That gives him 2 weeks to discuss my case with other Consultants before seeing him again. He has proposed 3 treatment options but I won’t go into that yet until a final decision has been made. In the meantime, guess what, I have more meds, let’s just add a few more to my rather big collection.

I’m going to continue life the best I can and with no boundaries. I will update you in July when I have more news. I would like to thank the people who continuously support both me & Mr ZebraKat  ❤️

Weekly Blog No 95 – French Bistro Evening 

imageLocally we stumbled upon a quaint little café with a friendly atmosphere. Every time we have visited the café, you are made to feel welcome and presented with gratifying food & drinks. When ordering a sandwich of your choice, you are presented with a side order of homemade coleslaw and baked crisps.  As I’m not a lover of coleslaw, I was surprised to be delighted by the flavour and could quiet happily eat a bowl on its own. I don’t know what the secret ingredient is, nevertheless they have definitely won me over.

Usually after my cancer injection, Mr Zebrakat and I treat ourselves to a spot of breakfast or early lunch. In January, we spotted that the café did theme night menus. In January, it was a Scottish theme menu, just after Burns Night but we didn’t go as we had other plans.  We decided to go to the next one in February, which was French Bistro. We paid our deposit unsure if we would attend due to me not being so well lately, however at least our place was reserved. Yesterday was ohh la la evening, so I made sure I got plenty of rest during the day.

When we approached the space we were enriched with French music, bunting of French flags, white tablecloth & blue & red confetti laid tables and finally dressed with a bulb of garlic.  We were able to bring with us a bottle of wine as the premises doesn’t hold a liquor licence. Here is the food menu.

img_2394

 The shared oven baked Camembert was amazing.

We both had the pan poached garlic mushrooms

Followed by the rustic French onion soup, Mr Zebrakat had the honey glazed duck a la orange and I had the coq au vin.

Then onto dessert, which was a selection of French style desserts

The evening was truly amazing with a great atmosphere. The food was impeccable and the service outstanding. We are going to try another theme night very soon.

 

Photo Credit : Food photos off Facebook page of the café.

Weekly Blog No 92 – Overview of 2016

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve written a blog due to ongoing health issues but here’s an overview for 2016.

UK 

Been back in the UK for over a year now, we’ve got back into the swing of life. I have to admit my heart is still in Canada but I’m glad to be back. I haven’t driven for a year due to my ongoing symptoms, a personal choice but you never lose the skill of driving. Things can be easier in the UK, shops can be reached by foot or local transport. Food shopping can be delivered to your home. Medication can be delivered to your home by pharmaceutical companies. Basically most items can be delivered to your home nowadays by a simple click.

Friends & Family

An enormous thank you to all the lovely people who have been there for me & Mr Zebrakat. Your kindness however small or big, blows my mind and please know that I am truly grateful. I know nowadays I’m not the most proactive friend but if you know me well enough, you know that I care but my illness limits me. Consequently relying on people visiting me if they want too. Thank you for those people who have made that effort, it always brings a smile to my face.

Lottie (dog)

Lottie has settled into her new house, she loves the garden and her local walks. Lottie has clearly adapted to moving and hopefully this will be her last move.

New Home

Well we did it, we bought a home in a lovely town in Northamptonshire. A beautiful town retaining local facilities in walkable distance, which is a rarity these days.  The house needs  some work to meet our standards but we will get there. The construction plans are being drafted to be tweaked. However I was able to have Christmas dinner here for family and it was a lovely day.

Health 

Well what can I say, as time goes by my symptoms seem to progress. Even though I have some symptoms under control, there are more and more creeping upon me. This year, there has definitely been more bad days than good and life without a cocktail of drugs would be unbearable. There has been days were my pain relief has gone out of sequence due to one thing and another, no person wants to live with that pain, it’s insufferable. Let’s hope in 2017 there will be more good days than bad.

Hobbies 

I was trying to concentrate on hobbies last year. Cooking skills are still improving and still learning to try different ingredients. Reading has been non stop, I do love historical fiction. I’ve tried out new authors this year and I will continue that.  A friend bought me an OK Magazine subscription, therefore I’m able to keep up with showbiz gossip. Music, there is not day that goes by without music, love love love music. I also did some online courses when I was well enough to occupy my mind.

Theatre & Movies

I’ve managed a couple of shows and a few films. Attendance is not at peak times and always needs to be planned in one way or another. Going to see a movie is always therapeutic,  it’s  like adding normality to your life.

Overall a successful year and I will look forward to 2017. Freedom is going to be my goal this year. I wish everyone a Happy Healthy New Year.

Weekly Blog No 91 – Moving Again  

images

We are moving again to a permanent nest in the UK. A cute mid terrace house in a market town within Northamptonshire. Finally I will be able to open our boxes from Canada, however I’m sure that we won’t be opening them all until the house is fully decorated.

My dream renovation list:

  • Replacement windows and doors in time, as we want triple glazing/sash style windows. Replace the current UPVC white external doors to either composite or timber doors to within keeping of the historic period of the property. Reduce the master bedroom window to its original size.
  • External decoration once the windows have been replaced
  • A loft conversion also known as converting the roof space to form a drawing office/craft studio.
  • Conversation of bedroom 2 by dividing the room into a main bathroom and en suite to master bedroom.
  • Form a walk in closet to the master bedroom.
  • Form a linen cupboard on the landing.
  • Relocate the boiler from  bedroom 3 to the laundry room.
  • Convert existing downstairs shower room into utility room (laundry room) and cloak room (1/2 bath). I may move its current location once I’ve opened up the space.
  • Rebuild the infill extension/conservatory to conform with Building  Regulations. (Building Codes)
  • Remove the rear external walls to open up into the extension to form open plan kitchen and dining area.
  • I may reconfigure the area to form the kitchen, dining area, cloak room and utility room.
  • Provide french doors to the patio area.
  • Open up chimney for a log burner in the living room (great room)
  •  Remove chimney breast in bedroom 2 to accommodate new bathrooms.
  • Provide new/extend existing lighting,.
  • Fit new fire & carbon monoxide alarms and possibly security system.
  • Replace internal doors.
  • Provide new plumbing were its required and possible replace/relocation of radiators.
  • Damp proofing work if required.
  • Full redecoration and flooring throughout the house.

Basically the list is endless, and I’m sure I wont have any money left for a long time but I can dream. I may start a blog showing my develops, it all depends on time. Wish me luck.

Weekly Blog No 89 – My Reading Challenge  

In the last twelve months, I’ve attempted a challenge to read as many books in a year. My goal was 24 books and to experiment with some different authors. I have about a month to go and about 3 more books left to read.
Here is my list to date:

  1. East End Jubilee – Carol Rivers
  2. Pam Weaver – For Better or Worse
  3. The Kelly Sisters – Maureen Lee
  4. A Summer Promise – Katie Flynn
  5. The New Arrival – Sarah Beeston MBE
  6. War Baby – Lizzie Lane
  7. Without Trace – Lesley Pearce
  8. The Ophran’s – Dilly Court
  9. Sins of the Mother – Irene Kelly
  10. Too Close to Home – Susan Lewis
  11. The Buffer Girls – Margaret Dickinson
  12. Me Me Me – Charlotte Crosby
  13. Ragged Rose – Dilly Count
  14. Lights Out Liverpool – Maureen Lee
  15. Love Me Tender – Anne Bennet
  16. The Swan Maid – Dilly Court
  17. The Girl With No Name _ Diney Costeloe
  18. A Family Scandal – Kitty Neale
  19. Our Country Nurse – Sarah Beeston  MBE & Amy Beeston
  20. Finding Tipperary Mary – Phyliss Whitsell
  21. Polly’s Angel – Katie Flynn (Still reading)

I did read on social media the other day that a woman had read 70 books so far in 2016. Kudos to her, however 70 books is an incredible amount of reading. I have experimented with some new authors in the last 12 months, however my genre doesn’t seem to have changed. I have read a few biographies as you will see from my list above. It’s always a learning experience when reading about someone else’s life.

The books, I tend to read always have a historical and cultural element, which I find very intriguing. It certainly makes you appreciate the life you have today. I feel the only way I could beat 24 books a year, is if I stop watching television. I really don’t think that is going to happen. I shall attempt another reading challenge once this one is complete.