My sister Laura suggested that I draw some pictures to represent Psalm 23, so that she could use them in the kids’ group at her church. I enjoyed doing them (although Imogen’s versions of the Psalms are much better.)
I had my third round of chemo this morning. Everything went well and there are no side-effects so far.
It’s like a time-warp when you get into the day therapy room: time seems to fly but it drags as well. Also it makes me feel dopey as soon as I get in there, before I have any drugs. I wonder what it’s like working there.
I had a nice long chat with my nurse as she was giving me the red chemo that needs to be done in four syringes into my PICC line – so she was a captive audience for a few minutes, poor thing. We chatted about the NHS; immigration; how Connor is coping with my being ill; hair. A wide variety of topics.
I told her that my oncologist couldn’t find either lump when I saw him on Monday. I said how it had shrunk when I prayed for it. Bless her, she was diplomatic; saying that it was good that my faith would get me through this. I could almost see her thought process: ‘Uh oh, we have an odd one here. Just smile and nod.’ Anyway, I’m not going to hide what happened to me, and I don’t care if that makes people uncomfortable. 😉
It’s Mike’s birthday today. I don’t think that spending half the day in hospital was his idea of fun, but oh well. When you say ‘in sickness and in health’ in the marriage vows, it’s no joke is it? It’s so easy to love someone when they are young and healthy and there are no worries. Not so easy when real life comes visiting. Thankfully, Mike is a pretty awesome husband. Some people would really struggle with having a spouse with cancer, but it’s only made our marriage stronger. I’m not trying to boast – just chuffed that God has blessed me with just the right person to share my life with.
“Dinner everyone!” Shouted Mum.
The family rushed to the table. It looked delicious – turkey, roast potatoes, loads of veg, gravy, Yorkshire puds. A small fir tree in a cheerful red bucket and topped by a gold star served as the centrepiece.
“This looks fab!” Smiled Dad as he carved the turkey.
“I helped with the potatoes.” Piped up Daisy as she filled her plate with veg.
“I set the table.” Announced Thomas, pouring himself some fizzy drink.
“Thank you Lord for this meal and our family.” Prayed Grandma.
The Christmas tree in the corner of the room twinkled with fairy lights, and was surrounded by beautifully wrapped gifts.
“When do we get to open our presents?” Asked Thomas, eyeing up a schooter- shaped one.
“I told you already,” Laughed Mum, “After dinner and the Queen’s speech.”
“Ok.” Sighed Thomas.
“These potatoes are excellent,” said Dad, “They taste almost like the ones I used to have when I was a kid.”
“Thanks,” replied Mum, “The food techies are getting better and better at the flavours, don’t you think? You’d almost think that this turkey once ran around in a farmyard.”
“Mum, did people really used to eat food that grew from the ground?” Asked Daisy.
“Yes. Well, things like fruit and veg did. Some of them from trees, too.”
“Trees used to grow actual food?” Wondered Thomas.
“Oh yes,” said Grandma, “I used to grow apples (from trees) and potatoes (under the soil) in my back garden.”
“Wow.” Both kids were silent for a moment as they processed this.
“But this ain’t bad.” Smiled Dad as he munched on a parsnip. “The butter could almost have come from a cow.”
“Those were the days, eh?” Reminisced Mum.
After dinner, the family sat in front of the telly wall to watch the Queen’s speech. She almost looked human, in the right light. The eyes gave her away though – you could always spot the cyborgs from the glint in their eyes.
Thomas peered out the window at the sky full of stars. One day, they would hopefully find a planet of their own again, like his parents used to have.
Doris was teaching her granddaughter to cook. Tonight they were doing bangers and mash with peas and gravy.
“Always be very careful with sharp knives,” Doris instructed as she chopped up a potato to show Lauren how best to do it.
“Yes Gran,” nodded Lauren seriously.
“Please get the peas out the freezer for me,” asked Doris, “they are behind the ice-cream.”
Lauran ran to the freezer, eager to help.
“Oooh, can we please have ice-cream for dessert, Gran?” She asked, eyeing up the expensive chocolate treat.
“Well, I have made an apple pie…”
“But you can ice-cream with it, instead of cream if you like.”
Lauren brought the large bag of peas over, and Doris showed her how to carefully tip it into the pot of hot water.
“You need about a handful of peas per person…” well, your hands are quite small, so maybe two hands full if you are measuring.” Smiled Doris.
Lauren nodded sagely. She popped a pea into her mouth. It was freezing cold but delicious.
“Now it’s time to wash the potatoes. Can you see that I have chopped them all into a similar size?”
“Good. Give them all a quick wash in the sink while I…”
The phone rang and Doris went to answer it. It was her friend Muriel. Muriel was having husband trouble again. She was on her forth and still couldn’t seem to work men out. Doris kept telling her that she shouldn’t over think marriage – men are very simple creatures after all – but Muriel never listened.
“I must go, Muriel,” Doris interrupted her friend’s tale of a recent holiday to Rome that had gone sour after her husband’s argument with a greengrocer over the correct colour of aubergines.
“My granddaughter Lauren is here and I’m teaching her to cook.”
“How delightful!” Replied Muriel. “All of my grandchildren are complete ruffians. I blame their parents, of course.”
“Of course, well, nice to speak to you again. And good luck with the lawsuit.”
“Thanks Doris. Bye.”
Doris hung up the phone and rubbed her eyes wearily. She must check on Lauren, she really shouldn’t have left her with a kitchen full of sharp knives and bubbling pots…
“Hi Gran. I put the potatoes in the water to boil. I hope you don’t mind?”
“Not at all. You’ve done a great job.” Doris was just relieved that there hadn’t been any accidents.
She switched off the peas; put the sausages under the grill; and showed Lauren how to make gravy. She used the packed stuff, even if it wasn’t the ‘proper’ way to do it. Life’s too short after all.
When the potatoes had cooked, Lauren enjoyed mashing them.
“It’s quite difficult, isn’t it Gran?” She asked.
“Yes, it’s a good workout for your arm muscles,” she agreed.
Doris added a little ground black pepper and sea salt to the potatoes, as well as some butter and milk.
“I can’t wait to try those potatoes!” Grinned Lauren.
“They do look lovely, don’t they?” Agreed Doris.
Lauren set the table while Doris called Granddad and Lauren’s little sister Jo to the table.
“Bless this food to our bodies and bless Gran and Lauren for making it, and thank you Jesus for ice-cream too.” Prayed Jo before they all tucked in.
Doris was very pleased with her first attempt at teaching her grandchild to cook. She took a forkful of mash and gravy. Mmm… yuk!
Doris spat out the mouthful, much to Jo’s delight.
“Gran! You spat out your food! That is very naughty!” Screeched the little girl.
Lauren pulled a face and also spat her food out.
“Um Lauren dear, when you washed the potatoes earlier, did you use soap as well?” Doris asked.
“Yes Gran. Mummy taught me how to wash dishes, so I know how to do it.” Replied Lauren with a frown. “But they don’t taste very good ,do they?”
“No darling. Not to worry – Charlie, I think we’ll order a takeaway pizza for dinner instead.”
“Good idea.” Agreed her husband.
“Don’t worry Gran, Daddy says that not everyone can teach.” Smiled Lauren.
I have recently returned from a family holiday to Devon. We stayed in a gorgeous 100-year old house called Upcott House which sits between Beer and Seaton. The view is stunning – from Seaton beach to the sea, to a cliff – nearly uninterrupted by houses – it almost feels like you’re the only person for miles. By night, the lights of Seaton remind you that you are not too far from civilisation. From the bedroom window, you can see all the way to the base of the cliff, and tell whether it’s low or high tide.
The nearest beach is Seaton Hole – a small pebble beach only a couple of minutes walk from the front door. The road is steep to the coast, but it’s worth it. We spent hours searching the rock pools for crabs and other creatures at low tide. You can also walk all the way to Seaton along the beach at low tide, but make sure you don’t attempt it while the tide is coming in!
There are no local sandy beaches, but my 8-year-old loved the pebble beaches and we enjoyed making beach art together (with the help of Uncle Phil and Aunty Mary) so it was just as much fun. If you fancy a little drive, Branscombe Beach is beautiful and has a good gift shop/ café. We sampled their ice-creams – I had my favourite flavour: bubblegum. There is a good size car park and access is easier than many local beaches.
Beer is a beautiful old fishing village. The pebble beach sits at the bottom of a steep road, and it busy with fishermen’s boats and lots of brightly coloured deckchairs. We were there for regatta week and caught some of a boat race. The village was decked out in bunting and looks just like a tourist’s idea of a perfect English beach holiday destination. My husband and I enjoyed a dinner date at The Dolphin Hotel (you will need to book but it’s easy enough to get a place early in the evening). I had a vegetarian meal and my husband has fish, which he said was fresh and tasty. We enjoyed a cream tea/ coffee at a local café the following day with our kids. The weather was a mix of showers and sunshine through the week, but there is enough to do to keep you occupied when the rain is pouring down.
There are also some cute touristy shops, like The Cream Shop which sells fudge and gifts.
Seaton is a larger town – not as pretty as Beer but still worth a visit. I walked there from Upcott House and it took my 25 minutes (with a pushchair). The road is much less steep than the way to Beer. It would be a lot quicker, but the road near to the house suffered from a cliff fall a couple of years ago, and is unpassable. Seaton has a good restaurant called Frydays . They serve a good range of food and our Canadian waitress was pleasant and helpful. The town has a good mix of shops, from budget to independent to a large Tesco with Costa attached. There is a big pebble beach with a promenade all along the seafront.
Next to Tesco is the tram station – worth a couple of hours of your time, especially if you have kids. You travel through wetlands and past Axminster – another picturesque village – to Colyton which is cute but tiny. You can buy toys, gifts and postcards from the Colyton tram station, as well as snacks ( and, no doubt, cream teas) from the small café. The tram driver on the journey back to Seaton was friendly and gregarious, and he made sure Grandma had a good seat in a sheltered section of the vehicle (it was a rainy day).
We had a great week in East Devon and I would be happy to visit again soon.