Wednesday 19 May 2021

A book Day

Yesterday I had a 5am start for a really exciting morning that took me way out of my comfort zone. It was work but of a different kind than I'm used to, and I always think that experiences that make me do unusual things are very often the best, and often with unexpected benefits.

I'm not able to give any details at present, but I promise that in a few months all will be revealed. Anyway, it was a fascinating experience that I absolutely loved. I was very glad that a dear friend drove us there, though because I was incredibly nervous, and even though we allowed two hours to get there, we only just made it in time owing to a) traffic and b) sat nav taking us round in circles. However, we finally got there at 2 minutes to 9. Phew!

Sadly, Lainy decided that despite walking with my friend and me on many an occasion, she wasn't keen if I wasn't there. Despite copious amounts of sausage, she just wanted to get back to the car and wait for me. I'm hoping that once she gets a bit more confidence, she'll be happy to walk with my friends, but you can't rush a rescue dog.

Anyway, after we finished, I was desperate for a drink and as we were near Lanhydrock, we thought we'd call in there for a coffee, and sat in the sunshine before continuing on to Fowey, to Shrew Books, which I hoped would take my books. We left the sunshine and drove towards black clouds. And I mean huge, thunderous black clouds that decided to deluge on us just as we reached the main car park.

The rain appeared to ease, so we set off, then my poor friend slipped on a manhole cover and - bang - landed on her side, putting her hand out to break the fall. Being an ex-nurse, she knew what to look out for, and feared she'd broken it at first. Then perhaps sprained it. Boots supplied a tubi-grip which helped, I called into the bookshop to leave some books, and we headed back to the car park.

From there, already a bit wet, we headed off to Coombe car park on the outskirts of Fowey which is one of my favourite walks in that area, down towards Poldridmouth or back towards Covington Woods. Once again, we were caught in another deluge, and dived into the woods. We got soaked anyway, and Lainy was less than amused, but then the clouds blew over and we were able to walk and dry off a bit for the rest of the walk.

This was a real book day - the morning session was all about books, then a dive into Shrew Books in Fowey, and our walk which was all around where The King's General, by Daphne du Maurier, is set.

So for a literary road trip it was great. And, I hope, successful. As for the morning session - I will be allowed to give more details in the summer. But for now Lainy is having a Quiet Day to get over the excitement.....

Thursday 13 May 2021

Ovarian cancer tests

I heard on the news today that long term tests for ovarian cancer haven't resulted in any decrease in deaths from the disease.

This topic is close to my heart, and one that I've written about before, because of my brush with cancer 7 years ago. I noticed a lump by my right hip bone but it didn't hurt, so I went along to my GP just because it was unusual. To my astonishment, she booked me in to see a consultant the following week, plus blood tests etc.

When I got the phone call from the hospital to say that the appointment was with the Gynaeocological Oncology Unit, I was terrified. And well, it got worse from there - endless blood tests and scans later, I was told I had to have a radical hysterectomy and, because the tumour was so big, they couldn't do keyhole but would have to basically unzip me (not any medical term, to my knowledge), and recovery would be at least 12 weeks.

You can probably imagine how I felt. But thankfully having taken the tumour out and done biopsies, it was found to be abnormal cells rather than cancerous so I had check ups for 5 years and now have the all clear.

But imagine if I hadn't gone along for that check up. Well, I wouldn't be here now. Survival rates for ovarian cancer are low because it's not often detected early on.

As a nurse friend said, if I was bigger than I am, I probably wouldn't have noticed it. If I'd seen another GP who hadn't thought it was urgent, I might not be here now. So many ifs and buts - life is full of them. And they form such a part of writing, too.

So often when writing - and reading fiction - we may get to the end of a chapter, or a scene and think - What's going to happen next? What if she hadn't met X outside the tube on a rainy evening? What if she'd got the bus home? What if I hadn't been sitting in a friend's house when Pip had walked in? If I hadn't gone to that writers' evening, I would never have met the dear friend that looked after me when recovering from my hysterectomy. If I hadn't noticed a certain person's dog I would never have sent him a message.....

Life is so full of strange What Ifs. But to bring this full circle, if you have any worries about anything unusual going on in your body, please go and see your GP. Covid tends to have knocked cancer and many other diseases out of the limelight. But it could be the difference between being here - and not.

Thursday 6 May 2021

A break and an old marriage

Last week I was able to get away for four nights in a caravan in West Cornwall and my, what a brilliant time we had. The weather wasn’t perfect, as it’s still pretty cold but we had some glorious sun, managed to dodge most of the rain and had some of the best walks I’ve had for ages.

The friend I went with hadn’t read for 5 years and so I took a book she liked the sound of - and she read the whole thing in a few days. And loved it! So I was delighted to be able to share my love of that particular book with her - and now she’s reading again…for a book lover like me, that means so much.

It was so good to have a change of scene, even if only for four days, and it gave me a bit of headspace which I badly needed.

On a different topic, yesterday my youngest brother sent over a digitised version of our parents’ wedding. There’s no sound, but it doesn’t need it. The pictures of my parents, so young and happy, are so touching to see. The way my dad puts his arm protectively round his tiny bride (he was 6’ 4” and mum was 5’ so she really was tiny, and so beautiful. Very like the Queen at the same age). The way my mum dips her head when she talks - she still does that now and it’s so characteristic of her, and yet I’d never really been aware of it until now.

The way Dad laughs hugely with his best mate, Ian, his best man, on the lawn outside the marquee. The easy way Dad picked up her train when they were walking through the garden. The shared glances between my mum and dad that say more than words ever could.I'm so glad Ben found it and has been able to digitise and share it. It's a piece of real magic that I will treasure.