Saturday, 25 December 2010

Garry Mimbly; have a cool Yule!

I am pleased to report that Santa arrived safely in London after stopping to deliver Christmas presents at Yateley and Windsor:

A Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to One and All.

Lots of love and light


Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Bring me fun, bring me sunshine, bring me love.......

.....instead of all the other minor nasties life has thrown at me in the last 24 hours and since my last (the 5th) bout of chemo on Thursday. It has been a right old mishmash of trials and tribulations both on the medical and the social/domestic side of things:

Bearing in mind it usually takes a week or so to recuperate from an infusion of chemo I suppose I'm a little surprised this last one is taking it's toll more doggedly. I have felt much more fatigued and the pain in back and sternum has been more persistent. A very bad tummy upset yesterday morning is still lingering and for the first time ever since starting treatment I was sick a little while ago after a drink of lemon and ginger tea. There are of course numerous reasons for this, none of which a particularly alarming unless I fail to get things under control soon. Following the good advice of Liz Martinez I visited my GP earlier and he prescribed Tramadol for the pain which is proving much more effective than the proprietary analgesics I have been using up until now. But I do wonder whether or not they are responsible for the nausea and whether they eventually will counter my current spate of chronic diarrhea (reaches for more immodium and another glass of water).

On the matter of the run up to Christmas all was looking good until yesterday when, reports from Windsor regarding my daughter's heating system, and the combination of my brother's flight from Jo'burg being cancelled simultaneously as his son Chris had a serious accident involving an under-construction swimming pool in Cape Town, have put our plans for a family reunioun on hold. Contingencies are in place but much, like everything else at present, depends on weather and circumstances beyond our control.

Determination to get out and about for a blow in the fresh air, even when snowing, is still very much a priority as it is more beneficial than being cooped up inside with the central heating on full blast to combat the current icy weather conditions. So excursions with Chaka are not curtailed as long as I wrap up nice and warm.

Most of the Christmas shopping is done but the Xmas cards I designed and had printed have still not arrived so we took emergency action tonight to send out replacements and so apologise to friends and family for the inevitable lateness of our Seasonal Greetings! In the meantime Chemo the Snowman wishes you all a truly festive holiday and says a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year (just gotta love his blue suede shoes - Uh huh huh.!):

Thursday, 16 December 2010

First the pills and now the pricks

Thank you all so much for the invaluable support which has in no small way contributed to an almost unbelievable mid term result with the Real 3 trial. By way of interpreting my title of today's submission I am delighted to say that it is in fact good news day: After a busy and anxious two days, I eventually arrived home yesterday evening from celebrating with Geraldine at our favourite Italian restaurant; Al Frescos in Fleet. Yesterday I had a re-scheduled (because of getting stranded in Spain) CT scan in preparation for the mid term review in clinic with Dr Gary Middleton, the chief oncologist running the Real 3 trial at The Royal Surrey Hospital, Guildford. We actually witnessed members of the research team as they scurried through the corridors chasing up the results of Tuesday's bloods and scan in time for the following day's meeting and I am happy to report that they showed that without a shadow of doubt I have won the first fight with Goliath, who is down..... but not out, after a technical knockout in my favour. His seconds and minions are also lesser entities now that the 3 months of chemo have taken their toll without, I hasten to add, hampering my health too much by way of the side effects.

The decision is therefore to carry on with the successful clinical trial and when the inevitable re-match occurs, hopefully after a long period in rehab and training for Goliath before attempting another shot at the title in a future fight (and coincidentally after rest and recuperation and close monitoring for me), then there are several very attractive options available to ensure he remains the under dog in this contest: These include a second session of chemotherapy using the tried and tested EOX combination of Real 3 or possibly inclusion on another new trial administered by the Royal Marsden. Although no further hot spots were detected, sadly but not surprisingly the incurable status has not been reversed and an operation is still out of the question. In a funny sort of way I am pleased with that situation; as wielding the surgical knife does seem to stir up a whole hornets’ nest in many cases and I am not sure I would want to risk that having as many metastases, even though now weakened by the chemo, lurking around my body. Presumably, without quoting specific timescales, my current quality of life can be more or less maintained and extended for a good period of time, and despite the tears and the frustration of unrealistic greater expectations en route to yesterday's clinic with Dr Middleton I now share the obvious euphoria (slight exaggeration) he displayed when announcing the results and saying that after a particular grueling day he was pleased to finish on a high note in having one of his easiest consultations.

The one downside bit of news was the discovery of blood clots in my lungs, which in the bad old days would have given cause for alarm but nowadays is fairly common place under the circumstances and instantly treatable as I discovered almost immediately after two injections of a blood thinning agent; a procedure now to be repeated on a daily basis by self administration for at least the next six months. So now as well as being a guinea pig I now also become dart board (One-hundred-and-eighty for the guy on the oché with the pills and the pricks)

Geraldine and I were almost the last to leave the Oncology outpatients department on level B of the St Luke's Cancer Center but both bearing beaming smiles unerasable by thoughts of the prospect of the snail's crawl in the mass of traffic leaving the Surrey Science Park and the following day's 5th cycle of chemo when returning to the Chilworth Suite day ward.

So in raising a very expensive, but equally as delicious, glass of Borola my toast is: Hoping life is treating you all as favourably as possible too!

Signing off by quoting the lyrics of a song by one of my favorite 60s groups, The Peddlers and one of my all time favorite artists, Babara Streisand:

"People who need people are the luckiest people in the world,

Lots of love and light

David X

Friday, 10 December 2010

Home Again

Although delayed by two hours our flight from Alicante finally touched down at Gatwick at about 02.45 hours this morning and, despite APH ripping us off to the tune of nearly £60 for a 12 day park up, our onward journey back to Yateley via M23, M25 and M3 was chilly but thankfully uneventful. So all in all our extended (3 nights into 12 nights; courtesy of slEasy Jet) two centre holiday package was OK once the initial traumas subsided. Update to follow once rested!

One of the highlights of returning at this particular time was that on Saturday night I fulfilled a promise to Anna that on the occasion of her birthday, when she was hosting her 'Come Dine With Me' dinner party for her girl friends, I cooked my 'Chanterelle Dijonnaise' recipe for starters. Fortunately for the assembly meat and two veg with dumplings did not feature on the menu so I was allowed to wear more than just my new Bad Toro pinnie bought in Spain especially for the event:

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

MotD - Final Score: Real Locaiba, wins 'v' Real 3, loses

Real 3 only loses in the sense that I am having an enforced 'holiday' from Capecitabine while on holiday out here in rural Andalucia staying at Casa del Toro with Sheila. Lovely walks in the hills amongst the almond orchards with her dogs Roxy and Alfie and lunching al fresco in the old town square (Plaza Mayor, Albox) 15 minutes drive away or on the veranda of the hacienda surrounded by olive groves, which need harvesting very soon. Already sample fresh almonds, prickly pear juice and pomegranates straight from the trees but learned a bitter sweet lesson when trying the same thing with an olive! (Don't forget to click on photos to see them large)

Casa del Toro

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Andalucian Dawn

Day break viewed  from 'Casa del Toro', Locaiba, near Albox, Spain

As the sun rises over the hills this morning we send our best wishes to Dave Lavelle who celebrates his 60th birthday today back in the UK.
Many Happy Returns Dave and thanks for all your help and support.
(Weather here wish you were lovely!) 

Friday, 3 December 2010

Siesta Time

La Marina Beach
Just to let you know that despite a genuine (honest guv') effort to get home to England today we are still enjoying an 'enforced' extended holiday on the Costa Blanca: In a semi relaxed state and in possession of very expensive tickets back to London via Madrid we actually progressed as far as Departure Gate 7 at Alicante airport ready to board our flight to Madrid. Earlier browsing and our constant feedback from several folks back home indicated that the situation was deteriorating and the snow was falling more heavily in the region to which we were eventually heading; but all contingencies were in place thanks to the efforts of Paula and Dave, who was now on readiness to collect us from London (City) airport. At the time we expected the boarding announcement, we were, instead, informed that the aircraft was delayed and further information would be available in the space of half an hour: Bang goes our connection! This, together with the almost simultaneous news that, although open, no flights had been operated at City, was almost the last straw for Geraldine, who was so desperate to get me back to the safety of myUK support network, as now we were faced with either continuing on to Madrid whenever and rearranging altenative onward travel to London, however and whenever, and moreover the mayhem caused by the prevailing extreme weather conditions, or staying put in Spain and sorting out our return home under less frenetic and desperate circumstances at a more leisurely controlled pace. Bearing in mind that we still held EasyJet tickets for a flight to Gatwick on the 9th December as a last resort we would start investigating earlier possibilties after the weekend . Calls to both Geraldine's boss and my research team at St Luke's, Guildford whilst waiting for further news about the impending flight, resolved the situation and finally convinced Geraldine that a few more days here was not such a bad idea after all: It wasn't critical for me to return home despite having no more chemo tablets, and work could wait a bit longer for her input. Having contacted both Sheila and Lyn and Graham we now had a chioce of accommodation and transport so we excited airside and made our way, via the Iberia Ticket Sales Office where a no quibble full refund of our £1100 was actioned, for a coffee and a glass of wine to await our lift back to Laderas del Sol at Torrevieja.

Over a long leisurely lunch of Paella and beer, beachside at La Marina, arrangements were made for onward travel the following morning to Albox and Sheila's guest rooms for however long it takes to regroup and find a way home. I for one am so thankful we were not heading for the potential hazards of negotiating travel in the freezing snow bound conditions of south east England, and that Gary has the onerous task of letting Chaka know were still going to be "out shoping" for a while longer. In this respect we are eternally indebted to the folks back home for their continuing and unfailing assistance.

Hurrah ....At last we found snow dusting the top of the Sierras de las Estancias on our way from Murcia to Albox:


4th December - now ensconced in rural Spain and loving every minute. Lyn and Graham very kindly drove us down to Andalucia so we could spend a few days with Sheila and family at 'Casa del Toro', Locaiba near Albox:

Rural and surrounded by its own olive grove, but not too remote, in as much that a 10 minute drive back into Albox - old town, resulted in a typically long Spanish lunch at La Parilla; lingering over tapas in the town square. And when ordering another round of wine you just get given the rest of the bottle of the very good house white (blanco) plus an opened bottle of, equally as good, red (tinto) for good measure - on a 'help yourself and settle up when you've finished' basis. Lunch including wine, a dessert and coffee for five all for under 80 euros. This is the life!

After lunch, and returning to the hills around 'Toro' it's time to walk the dogs, Roxy and  Alfie, and suddenly I find I'm transported back into my element and getting ready to put in a bid for Sheila's rental property when they move out and if the landlord wants to sell.

Previoulsy during the lunchtime sojourn Emma was smitten by the opportunity of going to see Circus Italia, so having bought tickets we spent the evening watching the tumbling, juggling, contortioning of the performers young, and not so young, and the parade of a select few animals under a very chilly 'Big' Top. Not ever having been to a circus before Adz was wide eyed, but not legless, in awe of the performance


So this is my song for Adam (aka Adz), a real trooper and grafter - Cheers and congratulations matey!

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

"It's Only a Winter's Tale"

As we prepare to return to the UK tomorrow after what has been a a distinctly winterly feel to our short sojourn in Spain: One day of brilliant sunshine followed by two days of constant, if somewhat warm, rain and now flash warnings of snow from Galacia in the north to more of the same just outside Alicante here in the south! It will be an interesting journey back home tomorrow if the reports I've read from friends on Facebook are to be believed about what is currently falling from the skies around Farnborough, Fleet and Farnham. I only hope that the ever increasing snowfall in the locality of home does not mean escaping from Spain just to face an arduous overland trip once back in Blighty. I would rather stay holed up here with Lyn and Graham and enjoy the Spanish life style (just checking I have enough Xeloda to tide me over):

Supper rural style with Sheila and family at Albox:

Passionatley Paella
From hob ...... table

After tappas lunch at La Manga

PS (Thursday 02.00hrs) The latest update from Spain is that it all  began to go pear shaped when it was apparent from surfing the web that no Sleasy Jet, or much else for that matter, was taking off from Gatwick first thing Wednesday morning. Hence our aeroplane wouldn't be coming to Spain to collect us. Flight cancellation confirmed on check-in at Alicante and no seats (on EasyJet) to Gatwick available until 9th Dec!!! Returned to Laderas del Sol with Lyn and Graham to trawl internet for replacement flights asap and now finally booked on Iberia out of Alicante on Thursday lunchtime for flight to Heathrow via Madrid at a cost of £1000+ notes. (Other cheaper options included Flybe to Soton on 6th but the concensus overruled despite my protestations to stay put either at Torrevieja or Albox, and avoid heading back to some remote location and into ever more deteriorating weather conditions before tackling the even more daunting task of negotiating the UK traffic mayhem) What we are heading back into heaven only knows according to the ongoing reports of heavier snow falls and the inevitable travel disruption and chaos in the UK as usaul under these conditions!

Onwards and upwards into the valley of I don't have sufficient of my chemo to last out for a few days here in the sunshine and seeing what develops; even if things at home do get worse. But there again I came off Xeloda for a week or so not long ago to get some side effects under control so I am sure a quick call to the team in UK would have sanctioned a short 'holiday' under the circumstances........What a shame never mind............ and as usual when the well meaning cogniscenti get their heads togther I am considered uninformed and incapable of planning and decision making with an opion that counts for nowt!

Admittedly a bad decision on my part regarding this trip was not advising my travel insurance company of my change in circumstances, viz-a-viz the cancer, prior to embarking on what, after all, was only going to be 'just a quick trouble free breakaway in the EU armed with only my EHIC'. So the likelyhood of any compensation for the additional expenses incurred are probably fairly remote. So my advice to anyone else in the same boat is use common sense: After all, like it or loathe it, it's what we pay insurance premiums for and the ground rules are explicit.

On the bonus side it has meant an extra day, December 1st, in now once again sunny Spain (after two days of rain and cloud) and, once the re-arranged travel was sorted, we enjoyed the benefits with a relaxing lunch at Villa Martin and a trip to the seaside at La Horadada:

The idea of a quick evening dip in the pool on returning to Laderas del Sol was just a bridge too far!

In keeping with the continuing pattern of sleepless nights I sit here in the middle of the night contemplating tommorrow's rescheduled journey home and wish to thank everyone here and back in the UK for their invaluable help and support, without which this much needed breakaway would not have been possible. Special thanks to Gary for house and dog sitting whilst drinking my best wine, to Caroline for keeping Chaka company and well exercised on daily walks, to Pete and Paula, who, without any prompting, immediately rallied to rescue us from whatever remote outstation we find ourselves transported to on arrival back in blighty tomorrow, and to Dave Lavelle for voluntarily being on standby cavalry duties. It goes without saying how much we appreciate the unstinting hospitality of our hosts here in Spain, Lyn and Graham and in particular for ferrying us all the way to Albox so that we could enjoy an evening with Shiela, Emma, Adz, Roxy and Alfie.

The First Farewell!

Friday, 26 November 2010

I`m off to sunny Spain

Well judging from all accounts it's more likely to be the warm rain on the plain than wall to wall sunshine, but hey who cares it's bound to be a more pleasant location to recover from Wednesday's bout of chemo. And Torrevieja, where our friends Lyn and Graham live, tends to have it's own micro climate anyway. Just hope the snow forecast here for this weekend doesn't hit Gatwick before we leave early on Sunday morning. Planning to return on Wednesday afternoon but with any luck well be bound in by the UK weather by then!

I am bouncing back quite well from this cycle of chemo although there were a few minor hiccoughs along the way and finding a serviceable vein remaining in my left arm meant resorting to the right after two aborted failures. Once again I refrained from the 1 off high dose of anti-emetic and steroid so the bowel balancing act is becoming easier to juggle. Though the colder weather is making me highly susceptible to peripheral neuropathy symptoms and the first night I had pins and needles in my toes all the way through. Every thing else except the pain between my shoulder blades, which seems to be baffling everybody, is making waking an experience akin to having spent the night at the base of an All Black ruck. Interestingly it may not be as I thought associated with the spinal metastasic hot spot but is acknowledged to be a symptom of the main OC tumour:

* acid reflux (symptoms of acid reflux itself include heartburn, pain in chest / feeling sick /     bloating / belching / pain when drinking hot drinks).
* difficulty in swallowing and even regurgitation of food a few mins after swallowing
* unexplained weight loss
* pain in the form of pressure, or a burning sensation, as the food goes down the oesophagus
* hoarseness or a chronic cough
* vomiting
* pain between the shoulder blades"

A relief in some ways to now know this but upsetting in others; as I have been aware of such low key nagging pains in this area for a good many years but didn't pay it much attention putting it down to wear and tear or referred pain from all the throw overs from my days of  abusing my body on the rugby field for 20 years:  How much sooner could they have caught the coming of Goliath had I reacted differently????

Never the less all is well in my world at present despite having it re-affirmed at a clinic on Tuesday with research team that in my case the non-operable status is highly unlikely to change no matter how well I am doing and how postive the results of the forthcoming CT scan on 8th Dec show up. So palliative treatment continues either in the form of the current Real 3 trial, which will not necessarily be taken to its max 8 cycles if the balance of its effectiveness and usefulness is not matched by the current quality of life its providing me just now. The side effects may become cumulative and less tolerable and although Goliath seems to have temporarily surrendered (apart from increased pain between my shoulder blades*) it is inevitable that there will be a resurgence later on which will be closely monitored and treated as best possible. On this score I am told that once recovered from the current trial there is every possiblity that new trials at The Royal Marsden are in the offing for which I may meet the criteria: Let's hope so!

In the meantime recovery from cycle 4 proceeds with less effort this time round apart from combating the lower temperatures and the increasing back pain. Anne, my visiting chiropodist pampered my feet and now if we can race the snow to Gatwick and hop on the plane to Spain before we are all grounded life will be so much more pleasant for a few days.

I had a tingly outing in the cold with Bob and James of Mutts & Moggies and managed a few shots of their canine charges including a big old bruiser of a boxer called Lenny who came to blows with Chaka after forcing him into retaliation. the encounter with old Jasper was much more sedate.
Jasper and Chaka

PS (Sunday afternoon) - Just to let you know after leaving Yateley earlier today at 03.30 in temperatures of -5 degrees we had a trouble free journey out to Torrevieja and we our now enjoying a can of San Miguel and a glass of white Rioja on the sunbathed veranda of Lyn and Graham's villa 


Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Sit (uation) Rep (ort)

Yes folks it's that dreaded hour: 04.00 when spirits are at their lowest ebb, but I must tell you how I am feeling.

"I would rather have a rose from a garden of a friend
than to have the choicest flowers when my stay on earth must end.

I would rather have one single word of kindness said to me
than flattery around my grave when life has ceased to be.

So bring to me one flower, be it pink or white or red.

For I would rather have one bloom today
than a truck load when I am dead!"

Time is flying by so fast and it's hard to believe that my 3 weekly cycle of chemo is due again on Wednesday; just as life was panning out in the now familiar pattern of being on an even keel following a couple of weeks recuperation. We have decided to visit friends in Torrevieja, Spain for a few days after the infusion as being in the winter sunshine whilst suffering is better than hanging around the UK waiting for the snow to arrive!

I have a CT scan to look forward to on 8th December but I reckon the measurements of the relevant tumours are at least going to reflect how efficacious this course of chemo on the Real 3 trial is proving to be. I am feeling fitter, save for a few irritating side effects, than I have done in many a year and, allowing for the euphoria of a chemically induced high, I have plans, subject to my daughters guidance as a professional personal trainer, to complete a Sprint Triathlon event (a shortened version of the full course) at Dorney next year. So start saving your pennies in aid of sponsorship for The Fountain Centre at St Luke's, Guildford as I will be coming round shaking a collection bucket in  the form of an online donation if successful.  I have the added pleasure of attending the official opening of the refurbished Fountain Suite and sharing a sherry (me with a schooner rather than a pint...heaven forbid) and possibly a few words with Annabel Croft, the patron of the charity: It's a tough call guys, but I guess if I am forced to drink sherry, then a glimpse of her luscious locks and lovely long legs will be just reward! 

It's not all plain sailing at the moment as first and foremost Geraldine seems to be finding it harder and harder to deal with the situation and I am somewhat at loss to know what to do for the best: It would appear that my determination to stay positive and fully involved with life as it presents itself on a day to day basis is causing her concern, insecurity and feelings of worthlessness. Though unable to express her feelings openly, in fear, I suspect, of dampening my endeavours, it is plainly obvious that she is finding this journey even more arduous than I am: Something I feared from the outset and hoped, in avoiding such circumstances, to prioritise as a main objective. The curse is that if I don't feed off the support that my involvement outside the home is providing then I might succumb to feelings of defeat. Finding the balance to give Geraldine the same attention and support that she so richly deserves and not taking too much for granted, is proving difficult whilst her coping technique is to bury her head in the sand and make herself miserable and fatigued trying to hold down a full time, stressful job as well as having no respite at home. I try and reward all her efforts on my behalf  as best as I know how but sadly it seems I am falling way short of the target, especially when my frustration gets the better of me and she is innocently in the direct line of fire. As she so succinctly points out; there is no 'user manual' available to us, and all my encouragement to seek help from the various, willing and dispassionate array of outside resources falls on stony ground as far as I know.

The other error looming large in my mind, contrary to all the lessons learned about not focusing on second guessing the route ahead, is centered on the outcome of the forthcoming scan results and the very remote possibility that the equation has inherited the 'Op' factor: I am conscious of the number of cases that when all was seemingly stable, as I feel it is in my circumstances, that surgery has in fact opened up a whole can of worms not anticipated by those involved. I do trust my care team implicitly and must be guided by their knowledge and experience, but when it comes down to it cancer still bears too many unknowns for my liking especially when Goliath and his too numerous minions have been quietly and unnervingly, away for some time at an Al Qaeda training camp preparing for another onslaught.

Finally the pain between my shoulder blades, though not confirmed as associated with the spinal metastases in the 7th vertebra, is now giving cause for concern: Woke up this morning feeling like I had been in ruck against the All Blacks. Not, I hasten to add, for the first time in a long history of similar symptoms.

'Nuff said!

To reiterate I can't believe how quickly these cycles of 3 weeks are flying past. After this next (4th) bout of chemo later today I am booked in for a CT scan (8th Dec) to determine the progress and what effect the trial is having on the various tumours.

The gist from discussion at clinic yesterday with Dr Masoor and Sarah Oakes was that it is still highly unlikely that an 'Op' will ever be in the offing. There are several options available with the objective of giving me as much time as possible with the optimum quality of life: They will not necessarily keep me on Real 3 to the bitter end (6 months max/8 cycles) if the balance between effectiveness/data collection and the ever cumulative severity of the side effects is not favourable. All being well they may just monitor me until the inevitable resurgence kicks in sometime in the future or they may even decide that there are other new trials (namely at the Royal Marsden) for which I may meet the criteria.
No doubt all will be revealed at my forthcoming appointment with my oncologist running this trial around the time of my pre- Christmas infusion

"Deck the halls with tubes and trolley,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Tis the season to be jolly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la."

Still feeling incredibly fit and out and about with various fungi friends and dog walkers, whose support is invaluable, and having some rare successes, but way, way behind with the updating, reporting, photo editing and contacting cyber mates at MacMillan and on Cancer Research UK forum. My apologies to one and all.

Love and light to one and all

David [[[XXX]]]

PS I received a lovely home grown bloom from Rania my friend in Athens for which I am eternally grateful:

The Red Rose of Athens

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

A 'Shrooming we will go..........

A view over Minley Farm looking in the direction of Fleet and Farnham at about 4.30 as the sun set on another beautiful day spent with Caroline and Bob and a motley crew of canine buddies (it was a mixture of thick fog patches in the morning and bright sunshine by late afternoon), and  I wend my way home weary but very happy indeed; with plans to make wild mushroom soup  from all the various species of edible fungi collected over the past week.

Coming right up to date this morning, after the best night's sleep ever since this journey began and before I head off into the distance down the M4 to Sherston to see Ian (into the path of some pretty atrocious, wet and windy weather by all accounts), I will say that last night's supper was hugely successful: being unaware of my plans Geraldine had brought home a microwaveable ready-to-go curry; very thoughtful after our respective busy days. But I was still raring to go so spent the evening making the tastiest wild mushroom soup ever, using Cauliflower Fungus, Wood Blewits, Oyster Mushrooms and Winter (Trumpet)Chanterelles - garnished with sautéed Chanterelles and Wood Hedgehogs and roasted Walnuts and Hazel cobs. (We usually abhor tins of mushroom soup, likening them to heated up dish water, but this stuff was seriously tasty, tasty very, very tasty!)

Cauliflower Fungus

Winter (Trumpet)  Chanterelle

Wood Blewit
Half of the choice ingredients were supplied by Julie Campbell, Leader of the local ABFG Foray Group - 'Shrooms, (hence the title of todays' episode) with whom I sallied forth last Sunday morning on a very successful outing at Church Crookham. So thank you for your generosity and companionship lovely lady; even though, as can be seen from the next photo, you did reject my application to join the Snake Tongue Truffle Club (Cordyceps ophioglossoides to you too!)

[Glad to see that, at least today, Julie's 'collar and cuffs' do match, but suggest that some urgent personal grooming is required in the nether regions  ;O) ]

Despite some atrocious driving conditions on the M4, the trip to Sherston was a real pleasure and it was so good to see Ian and Annette in high spirits with that ol' twinkle in the eyes again. Ian's home grown, home cooked vegetable soup was as good and as filling as ever. Thank you both for the cracking Xmas present, which, as you hinted, Geraldine gave me permission to open on returning home - your winning smiles will be the first photo to get printed as a reminder that cancer is the only loser in our world, and that the warmth and happiness radiating around that huge rambling kitchen in the Crouch homestead means we will overcome whatever lays ahead. As long as Netty has hugs to spare and share I will be back soon to the Cotswolds for more of this tonic:

Sherston, Wiltshire (Crouch homestead central on skyline with two chimneys)

N.B. In my rush to get safely home and out of the fierce winds and driving rain I have lost yet another (3 now in quick succession) cell phone when I stopped at Membury Services to fill up with petrol. Heard a clunk as I got out the car and it fell from my pocket, but it did not register and after a cursory glance around the forecourt and under the car I abandoned any further searching not realising the significance and the implications. Consequently I was more concerned carrying out a frantic search of all my various pockets, in trousers, shirt and gilet, for the one and only credit card that would prevent me being marooned with an empty tank. I am retitling the following song "Incommunicado" C'est la vie!: