Thursday…The sun was shining

GardenAlthough it has been raining quite a lot since the photo was taken at the weekend! I took the plunge and ordered some garden furniture so I can take advantage of the patio! (If you look closely, you will see the obligatory glass of beer!) It also came in useful for a surprise visit from an old University course mate, Anne and her family. Although we have Skyped occasionally, this was the first time we had met up since just after leaving Leeds University, many moons ago! Yvoire1It was very pleasant sitting out in the garden, catching up!
My parents came down for a visit three weeks ago, over the jubilee weekend. We watched most of the celebrations on television, but there wasn’t much going on in the immediate neighbourhood. I had a quick trip to Switzerland which was very enjoyable, although the weather there wasn’t particularly good. One really good day though with a boat trip to Yvoire Yvoire2on the French side of Lac Leman (otherwise known as Lake Geneva). A very pretty and picturesque mediaeval village, as you can see from the photograph. The trip back was on a restored steam driven paddleboat, one of a fleet of eight that were built in the early part of the last century. This one was built in 1914. The picture shows part of the engine!

Yvoire3Unfortunately, I seem to have brought a summer
cold back with me, but I hope that will go soon.

The bad weather has also affected diving. I was supposed to be diving both last weekend, and two weeks before that, but on both occasions, strong winds in the Solent prevented us from launching the boat, so both were cancelled.
Yvoire4
However, colds apart,

I am feeling well, as you can see from this photo, also taken at Yvoire!

So… Onwards and upwards! 🙂

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Monday… Sunny Lausanne

It has been a while since I last updated the blog – a busy couple of weeks, although this week I find myself back in Lausanne visiting friends again.

All is quiet on the health front – my next check-up is at the opthalmic clinic next week, but life has been far from quiet!

In addition to my ongoing coursework for the last module of my PgDip, I have been to a study day to discuss the dissertation to take the PgDip to an MSc – and exciting but daunting prospect! I have also been doing some more work locally for a client, but the exciting news is that I have had approaches from two agencies about some more contracting work. One is short term back at Corsham, the other longer term in Belgium.

Both are still in negotiation stage, and until contracts are signed anything can happen, but still exciting prospects. The Corsham contract has been a possibility for a couple of weeks, but the Belgian one came out of the blue last Sunday!

My trip to Lausanne had been booked a while back, so although it looked as if I might have had to postpone (or curtail) it, the contract negotiations are still ongoing – thank you mobile phones and internet.

So exciting times ahead – very much onwards and upwards!

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Friday… The last ECP?

Lausanne1It is about time I wrote a longer blog, and I did promise some photos from my trip to Lausanne. I did wonder if I was going to be able to go at one point – two days before departure I walked into the living room at home, and noticed a damp carpet. Closer inspection showed the central heating radiator had sprung a leak.Lausanne5

Fortunately I was able to find a replacement next day (when the plumbers’ merchants opened after Christmas) and with some help from Mark, mananged to remove the old one, and fit the new, which although a different make, lined up with the pipework, so the job only took about 90 minutes. Better still, the carpet seems to have dried without any lasting stains.Lausanne2

So I did get away and the picture here on the top left shows one of me taken on the hills just above Lake Geneva, just before going off to Loèche-les-Bains. The second photo above shows the steam coming off the outside bath! For obvious reasons there are no photographs from the inside looking out!

Lausanne4This photo (above) shows the sun setting on the mountain tops around Loèche-les-Bains. And the next day, a cable car, shown here took us to the mountain tops, well, at least the lower levels. Very picturesque and there are, as usual, more photographs in the gallery. The top cable car station was also the terminus for another cable car, of a slightly different type, but again with the spectacular backdrop of the Swiss Alps.

Lausanne6After the two days in the Alps, the remainder of the time was spent sight seeing round Lausanne. I certainly felt very well and very refreshed after my trip! The final photo (below) shows Loèche-les-Bains from the cable car during the descent.

At the moment I am sitting in Gassiot House at St Thomas’s Hospital having just completed the first ECP session, with the second tomorrow morning. Will it be the last? Well, there are certainly no more appointments booked, although I am being called for review in March, which will be in eight weeks time, to see how I am getting on. If the skin GvHd does return I can have more treatment but the hope is that it has stabilised.Lausanne8

My next haematology check-up in the haematology clinic (the ‘Late Effects’ clinic) is next week, when I will be reviewed to see how the side effects of the transplant (primarily the GvHd) are affecting me. One thing that has become apparent is that the minor side effects are attracting far more attention than perhaps they did before – things like the dry mouth, and the dry eyes, – which although important, tended to be overlooked against the backdrop of the lymphoma.

This January is the fifth anniversary of the blog, the stem cell transplant was on January 19th 2006, and it is four years since I was rushed to Southampton, and during my stay there, Olivia was born on January 15th. This morning I took her to pre-school! So lots to be thankful for – especially my anonymous donor.

And 2011 has certainly got off to a good start – may it continue ‘Onwards and Upwards’!

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Wednesday… from Lausanne

Just a brief update on the blog as the Christmas decorations are put away for another year!

I had an excellent New Year in Lausanne, and for the last two days I have been up in the mountains at Leukerbad (Loèche-les-Bains). This is a natural thermal spa resort about 1,400m above sea level. Yesterday was spent in the spa complex, and today we went up in a cable car to one of the ski centres (not to ski!) – 2,300m asl. Absolutely stunning scenery and there will be some photos on the next blog entry!

With the altitude, O & U takes on a new significance, but the mountain air and the spa water must have had an effect because I feel really well!

So we head into 2011 very much Onwards and Upwards!

(and a quick hello to Liz, who has re-discovered the blog!)

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Saturday… New Year’s Day 2011!

It has been a busy and event filled year, and as yet no annual newsletter has been produced – one of the jobs to do later this year when I get a little time.

Christmas was very good with lots of guests for the Christmas period, but for New Year I find myself in Switzerland, just by way of a change!

There have been some sad moments too in 2010, the loss of my university friend, Jane, and of another friend, Simon, but they will not be forgotten as we move into 2011.

But no matter where I am in the world, I hope you all have a Happy and Successful year in 2011, and may we all continue…

….Onwards and Upwards!

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Saturday… Christmas Day

TreeAnd may I wish all my readers a very Happy and Peaceful Christmas.

And it has been a peaceful day here. We are eating late this year, because Rachael has been at work, so we had a big breakfast and then a quiet day. We had a houseful last night, and then a brief visit by Vicki and Livvy this morning – they will be returning tonight to eat with us.

Tree2The pictures show the Christmas trees here – the small one in the conservatory (nicely warmed up for the day, and the bigger one in the living room here, where I have just lit the fire to get that nice and cosy.

So I hope you have all had a good day…
Onwards and Upwards towards!

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Wednesday… still cold!

WinterMost of the snow has gone, although this was the scene that greeted me last Friday after a heavy early morning snowfall! It was very pretty, and the sun came out mid morning, shining through the branches of the trees in the back garden. I managed to get this photo during the brief moments of sunshine!
Winter1

Quick “Happy Birthday” to my Mother and Father (today and last Saturday). They will be coming down to stay on Christmas Eve.

And my super spy software (TM) 🙂 tells me that there may be a new anonymous reader in the Totnes area – yes, you know who you are! All comments welcome!

Onwards and Upwards

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Saturday… Lots of catching up!

Phew, where to start? It has been a couple of weeks since I last “blogged” so there is quite a bit of catching up to do!

The biggest adventure was a 12 day trip out to France with friend Mark, to his house for a working party. We drove over on Monday the fourth via Brittany Ferries. It is a longer crossing than the catamaran (not running since it had a close encounter with a buoy in the harbour at Le Havre!) So we were delighted to find another piece of French motorway had been completed, giving continuous motorway to within about 10 miles of the house. Not counting stops, we completed the journey in just under six hours.

CarIt was a working week so we had trips to the various ‘bricolages’ for wood and components to add a new window to one external wall, change an external door for a more modern one, remove a fireplace and move an internal wall. For some of the work, a neighbour of Mark’s (in France – Ben, a Dutchman) came and assisted, while I did other necessary jobs like mowing the lawns, making coffee, preparing food and so on.

We made good progress getting the window installed, and almost completing the one door, and moving an interior stud partition wall before we flew back, leaving Mark’s car at the airport.

houseIt wasn’t all work, we did go out for a meal or two, and Mark’s wife flew out for the weekend. I did little local exploring in the woods nearby. All went well until the last bit where I lost my bearings, and rounding a corner in a field, came face to face with a ‘Limousin’ cow. I beat a quick retreat, climbed up a bank – and found myself in Mark’s back garden – I had just walked round the house and not seen it!Lintels

After I arrived back on Friday 15th, we had a visit from Martin and Stephanie, friends from University. We met up at Beaulieu, and went out for a meal (thank you Martin!) with a trip to the apple fair at “The Vyne” National Trust House near Basingstoke. They left on Sunday morning, and on Monday I was off to London for a postponed ECP session.

apple_fairThat went smoothly as expected and I was home on Tuesday evening. I did have an appointment at the eye clinic, and my eyes are much better, so I am now using less aggressive eye drops – but still not able to wear contact lenses 🙁

I had a slight “wing mirror” encounter on Friday night, just clipping it as I passed another car on a narrow bridge. This popped the glass out, but it was retained by the heating element wires, so I thought it would click back in. Alas no, there was a part that had dropped out, and when I went to buy the replacement part, I was told I had to buy a complete motor assembly. Ouch! I ordered that on Wednesday and collected it on Thursday, and fitted it that morning. You don’t realise how much you use the external mirrors until one is missing.

TrafalgarThursday saw me driving up to Corsham for a dinner to celebrate the glorious victory of Admiral Lord Nelson at Trafalgar. An excellent evening with many old friends present. On Friday I drove up to see my parents.

However on the way I stopped off to see the people at LeukaemiaCARE. I haven’t done very much with them lately, but I am going back to help on the 24 hour careline, so it was good to drop in and catch up with some new faces and (Meg!) And discuss “stuff” :). So a hello to Tony, Dawn, Nikki, Veronica, Tricia, Meg, Mike, Steve and Becks. And see you all again soon I hope.

HailSo I am at my parents having a break- the weather was lovely this morning – we have just had a hailstorm! I had been hoping to go back to France with Mark on Monday, but last week I was approached by an agency with a possible contract offer. MY CV has been submitted, and interviews are this week. I don’t know if I will be called for interview, but it is worth waiting to see. It will be for about 40 days of work, which will be useful!

I have lots of photos as well – only a sample here – which will be on the Gallery when I have uploaded them.

So on all fronts – Onwards and Upwards!

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Sunday… Alors, je suis revenu!

HouseA bit of a posting gap I’m afraid, but it was ten days of much needed chilling – well, working with Mark on his house. It was also an opportunity to try out a new camera, and I will upload some more photos to the gallery in due course. In fact the whole blog software needs some updating and sorting out.

My main job during the time was cutting the grass with the big boys’ toysToys leaving Mark to do the heavy duty DIY. However we did manage to get some time off, and we were in Pompadour for the Bastille day celebrations, a meal (at a restaurant run my an ex-pat couple and some celebratory fireworks. This is one of several I took during the evening.
Fireworks

It wasn’t all work, and a few beers were consumed round the pool, and I wandered around looking for for subjects. These sweet peas were growing wild in one of the hedges (it must have self seeded) and just invited itself to be photographed. However the best photograph I missed were two entwined snakes down by the pool house – as luck would have it, I didn’t have the camera with me, and they didn’t hang around while I got it!Sweet pea

I flew back last Wednesday (we drove out) and while the French Air Traffickers were having their annual strike, the FlyBe flights were still flying out of Limoges. (In fact the only ones flying out of Lomoges airport – there were some VERY grumpy Ryan Air passengers).

I am now in St Thomas’s having had the first of a delayed ECP session, with the second tomorrow! So, onwards and upwards!

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Saturday.. update time!

Town viewWe are now back in UK – seems hard to believe that it is over a week since I last posted!

The weekend in France proved a little damp, but by Monday the weather improved and we went on a trip to Perigeaux. We have been there before with Mark, but only as far as the Brico-Depot (French version of B&Q – even down to the store colours, so I suspect it is the same group ownership – Kingfisher?) but this time we travelled on to the town centre, a view is shown here.Roman tower

We missed the initial turning but eventually found ourselves round in the older part of town by the museum.

Perigeaux has a Roman past, and one of the larger remaining buildings is a temple. The museum itself was closed, but we had a wander around the town, and eventually stopped for lunch at one of the pavement restaurants. The sun shone, the beer was cold, and we relaxed for a pleasant hour or two before having a walk round the town.

FountainThe streets round the town centre are largely residential, and very pleasant to walk round – we saw this fountain in the middle of a large square, and then walking down the road came across this remarkable station building – very grand!
We were amused to see this faded advertisement on one of the walls – a memory of times past when Gauloises were de rigeur – although we noted that the French have not embraced an anti-smoking culture as fervently as the UK!Station

Finally we set off for the house – where the pool waited invitingly!

Tuesday was another glorious day, and after a little bit of shopping for things to bring back, was spent at the pool side before starting to pack and the house closing up routine.

We were up early on Wednesday morning to complete the closing up, and left at 8:15 for the tip up to Caen for the ferry back. AdvertWe stooped for a picnic at one of the toll road rest areas, and arrived at Caen in comfortable time, although we decided not to bother stopping off at the big Carrefour Supermarche just outside Caen.

The final highlight of the trip was dinner in the a la carte restaurant on the ferry, which represented excellent value for money for a really good meal that made a perfect end to the holiday – and passed a good three of the six hour crossing! We arrived 15 minutes early at Portsmouth, at 21:15 – 45 minutes later we were unpacking the car at home. A great ten days!

Of course life doesn’t stand still while away, so the last couple of days have been spent catching up, and I will be travelling back to Corsham tomorrow evening to start back at work, refreshed, on Monday!

Onwards and upwards

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