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Lets talk about hair baby........

Can we take a minute to chat about the mess that is my hair. Again.

In the week that I've finally got to the point post chemo where I can use a proper dye on my hair, I'm still dealing with a lot of the side effects of having had treatment that makes your hair fall out!

So, yes, I know I was lucky* enough to be able to cold cap and not lose all my hair during either of my chemo cycles. But for the second time in less than 18 months I'm having to deal with the fall out of losing 60% of my hair and having it grow back again.

Seriously, what on earth am I meant to do with it? It's like there's a two inch fringe growing all over my head. Again.

It sticks up between my old hair on the top of my crown, stands out sideways around my ears, creates a shelf along the back of my head! Basically, if I cropped there a mullet growing that any Toni and Guy stylist in the early 2000's would have been proud of!

This time last year I'd just about got to the point where I could see an end to having to hide my weird short regrowth when I went back into chemo in May, and now I'm at an awkward stage where it's not long enough to hide with any style! All over again. I can get away with a beanie or cap on a dog walk, or if I'm out and about somewher chilled, but there's no making it look nice any more!

I wore head scarves last time I was growing it back out (it was more summery) but people told me I looked like I had cancer and that made me self conscious, plus, real cancer patients, the ones who lost their hair, look at you a bit funny when you rock up in one! Like you're not really supposed to be joining their gang. (I think I've mentioned it before, but online, it feels like there's a definite hierarchy when it comes to cancer worthiness. People who have lost their hair definitely score higher than people who didn't. Maybe I'll do a post all about the hierarchy of cancer one day. If I'm feeling brave! And don't get me started on the amount of people who've been pregnant who have told me that their hair also fell out, like it's the same thing!)

But I'm kind of in a really crappy hair place right now, and I know I've probably got another 6 months of growth before the short hair gets to a length where it'll start to actually blend in with the rest, (it's definitely growing slower this time round so maybe it'll take longer!) And then maybe another year after that before it's an actual style. Until then I'm trying to deal with the fact I've had one usable hair style (half up, half down) for the last 18months, and if it's not this style, it's currently hidden beneath a cap. That's not much choice is it?

So I'm getting impatient. I want nice hair now. I want to be able to properly style it. Grow it out of this bob. Have a messy bun. And beachy waves. And a balayage. Basically, I'd take anything right now that didn't look like I was cultivating a mullet.

I'm also kind of bored by people with decent hair telling me to be grateful forwhat I have, because I bet if it was them they wouldn't be happy about it either!

In short, I miss this old hair. I miss my long hair. In truth, I miss the me that had this hair!

*You know you're living a fucked up life when your idea of lucky is only losing 60% of your hair, twice, to chemotherapy. But yes. I know. There's always someone else worse off. And I can't complain. But let's face it I worked bloody hard to not lose my hair and having hair doesn't mean I didn't suffer side effects as much as someone who went down the #baldisbeautiful route! No matter what the internet thinks!


Sheffield Beer Week at The Stag with Burning Sky Beer

On Sunday night Jim and I were invited to the closing event of Sheffield Beer Week, a beer and food pairing at The Stags Head, with Burning Sky Brewery. And as we both love food and beer, and have a soft spot for Burning Sky, there was no way we were going to turn it down!
The night started with a welcome drink of a cask Plateau, and a chance to catch up with friends who were also there with us! Cask wouldn't be my first choice of a beer, it's always too flat for me - but this was really tasty and a really nice start to the night's drinking.

Then the eating began!

Starter: Mushrooms on Toast - Wild foraged mushrooms sautéed in garlic butter and cream, toasted brioche, a sprig of fresh thyme and topped with a crispy panko quail egg. Paired with: Cuvée 2016
Seafood: Steamed mussels in a white wine velouté sauce, buttered shallots and pan-fried pancetta. Paired with: Arise
So, course 1 and 2 were made up of some of my absolute favourite things. Mushrooms on toast is one of my favourite meals for when I'm feeding myself if Jims out, but I'll be honest, they aren't this fancy or tasty! And Moules are my go-to meal whenever I'm in our favourite restaurants in Cornwall, although, to be fair, I'm even a fan of the supermarket packets. This had some awesomely crispy pancetta in it. My only issue with it was there was no more bread to soak up the sauce!

The Cuvée 2016 was absolutely delicious. It's Burning Sky's "Saison à la Provision from Foudre no. 1 and from a number of Chardonnay barriques, we then blended in a large portion of Lambic, imported from Belgium that has been ageing at Burning Sky."

We've got a bottle of their most recent release of the Cuvee in our bottle stash that we picked up at Indy Man so I hope that bottle is just as nice!

The Arise that came with the mussels was made as an easy drinking, after work tipple, and whilst it might not be something I'd order over and over in a bar, but it was perfect with the moules because it didn't overpower the flavours of the sauce!
Sorbet: Cuvée sorbet

Our next course was a sorbet made from the cuvée - which was way more flavourful than I thought a beer sorbet could be. 

And then we moved on to a meat course; 

Meat: Lamb rump glazed with rosemary and thyme butter, creamy dauphinoise potatoes, seasonal vegetables and a red wine jus. Paired with: Saison de fête
Both the lamb and the potatoes were amazing. The herb crust on the lamb was so good, but our tables only complaint was that the lamb was a little cold. Delicious, but it could have done with being a little warmer! I'm such a fan of a sour beer so this saison de fête was right up my street. A perfect level of sourness! 

Dessert: Warm spiced ginger and treacle tart with clotted cream topped with candied almonds and lemon zest. Paired with: Saison de Pêche
And then, just as I thought I was too full to eat anything else this treacle tart showed up accompanied by a peach Saison, and suddenly, there was room for more! It was so perfectly sweet and I'm pretty sure I could eat clotted cream every day if I had to! The peach saison was really lightly peached, and so drinkable. I definitely could have drunk a lot of it!
All in all, it was an excellent evening and the perfect end to Sheffield Beer Week for us. The beer was, as we knew it would be, excellent. And the food was really good, so we'll definitely be heading back to The Stag for dinner soon. It's somewhere we feel like we ought to go to more, it's a really nice space, and I'll be honest, somewhere we probably only visit in the summer as it's really nice sitting outside in their beer garden! But it's only 10 minutes from our house, so we'll 100% be back for food soon!

Thank you so much for the invite, Thornbridge, we loved it!

Gifted - We were given this meal in return for sharing the evening. All the views are our own!

House Update: Our Kitchen revamp

The first thing we wanted to do when we moved into the house was to rip out the kitchen and start again with it - tiled work surfaces are definitely not our design choice! But, well, kitchens are expensive, and Jim is incredibly indecisive when it comes to designing a big ticket item like this - especially when it was his space to design, with him being the cook in our house!
Then we thought about maybe tarting up what we had, painting the cabinets, and getting a new worktop, adding extra space to the narrow cupboard that was built into the corner, but when we bought a new washing machine we found out that the floor was rotten underneath the old one thanks to a slow drip that had probably been going for years and years and needed replacing, so at that point we knew we had to just scrap that plan and save up for the full renovation - floor and all! So we left things that were just down right messy and gross - like the unboxed in boiler, and the unpainted plaster around the door and window! Even though it was super embarrassing!
But finally, towards the end of last year, we were able to go ahead with starting to plan a new kitchen. We'd been to see some of the big chain kitchen companies, but they were all coming in over budget for us, and so a few people suggested a local company, Sheffield Kitchen Outlet. And not only were they the most reasonably priced, but they came up with the nicest design we'd seen, and were able to get a fitter in who could do all the extra things we needed doing.
So, in December our kitchen was ripped out and we moved the kettle and microwave to the dining room, along with every other thing from our kitchen. Then the floor came up, to reveal a 15ft drop into the space beneath the kitchen floor, and even more alarmingly, we also found a bit of it in another spot, where the floor had rotted away and was just being held up by the vinyl flooring tiles! Which wouldn't be so alarming if I'd not just a few weeks before been jumping in that spot to show Jim how bouncy it was. Our builder, Scott, told me he was amazing I'd not fallen through it!
As you can see, there was a LOT of dirt, a lot of dust, and a lot of mess! And the hole under the floor - well, that contained a lot of cobwebs and some cleaning products that had fallen out of the back of the cleaning cupboard and through the hole by the washing machine! It was such a glamorous life I was living before, wasn't it!

But eventually, the floor was replaced so we no longer might fall down into a 15ft abyss, some rogue gas pipes from the middle ages were re-routed, some other now-defunct waterpipes were cut out, the height of the hole in the chimney breast was the increased, the walls were replastered, and then, only then, could the kitchen fitting start!
Now, onto the kitchen we chose. We haven't gone for anything groundbreaking or revolutionary in our kitchen design. We don't really have the space for anything too crazy, and we definitely didn't have the budget, but what we have gone for is what we wanted - not what would make a good instagram picture! Mostly because Jim doesn't give a fuck about instagram, but does care an awful lot about having lots of countertops!

We've chosen a mushroom-y grey cabinet door colour, I believe it's called Mornington Grey, in a shaker style, with extra height cabinets on the wall, to make use of the super high ceilings we've got. Currently, we've just got slightly off white walls because we just can't quite decide which colour to put on the chimney breast, and there is a pile of tiles in the dining room, just waiting to go on the walls under the cabinets and behind the hob!


We debated a range cooker in the space where the chimney is, but in the end, Jim decided to go for two wall mounted cookers and a large hob in that space instead - which just made more sense for the types of cooking he does. He was also really keen on having a Belfast sink, so we have one of those too! And a wine fridge so that we could reclaim our actual fridge from all the beer we were keeping in it.........And his other pre-requisite was a lot of countertop space.......which he's also got too!


My demands were anything other than a white floor, and space on the kitchen sides for my Kitchenaid.  Mostly because it's far too heavy to be lugging in and out of cupboards! And we achieved both of those too!
The ovens we have are a small microwave oven and then a full sized oven. Jim picked them specifically because they go down really low, so are perfect for him when he's proofing bread. Honestly, that was the criteria for picking the oven. The perks, or perils of living with a foodie!
So, there you have it. Our kitchen revamp.
I think you'll agree it's a little bit different from what we started with, and like I said, there are just a couple of bits of that we still need to do, but the main thing is that it's so much nicer than it was before, there aren't any gross tiled surfaces to contend with, and we've got loads of space for all our stuff!

Kitchen bought from - Sheffield Kitchen Outlet
Paint - Valspar 
Floor  - Camero Yorkstone tiles fitted by Mintons 
Square frames - Habitat
Coffee Machine - Nespresso Creatista
Clock - B&M Bargains
Spice Jars - Anthropologie

My 6 month scan results are in!

Last week, a week ago today, in fact, we got my 6 monthly scan results. And they were pretty bloody brilliant.

My scans were all stable. Which means the treatment I am on is keeping my cancer at bay. Nothing is growing in my sternum is getting bigger, nothing is springing up anywhere it shouldn't.

Stable. It's basically the best word we could hope to hear. It's the one we're all waiting for!

But as great as it is to hear this word, it doesn't mean that treatment gets to stop. No, far from it. I'll still be going to the hospital every 3 weeks for my IV infusions of Herceptin and Perjeta. I'll still be having my denosumab injection every 6 weeks, and my Zoladex injection every 4 weeks. I'll still be taking my letrozole tablets every day. And I'll still be living with the knowledge that a good timescale for an individual metastatic treatment to work is about 18months.

But for now, we're just rejoicing in the fact that everything is stable and this treatment is working! Oh, and cracking open a bottle of champers every now and then to celebrate it!

Dining with friends at the Price of Wales

I'm not sure about the rest of you out there that blog, but sometimes I feel a little bit self-conscious when I'm invited to events that allow you to take none, bloggy friends, along too. I know a few of my friends think this space is silly and have mocked me for it. So, this causes me some trepidation in inviting people along to events. Especially ones that require taking lots of photos.
But last week we were invited to the relaunch of The Prince of Wales pub on Ecclesall Road, here in Sheffield. But as it was my birthday week, and we were invited to bring along a party of four, I decided that I'd see if a couple of our friends who are so none bloggy they don't even really do social media. So the novelty of me taking photos of their food before they were allowed to take a bite wasn't as annoying as it might have been for some friends. 

Randomly the Prince is a pub that Jim not only used to chef at but is somewhere where we also know a couple of the current chefs - although, I should say we didn't tell them we were going to be visiting!

On arrival we were offered drinks, Beth and George went for a beer on tap, Jim went for a Jaipur, and I, well, I couldn't pass up the decorate your own gin bar.......I had a Gin Mare and Mediterranean tonic and then garnishes upon garnishes. I should have maybe chosen something savoury to go with the gin, but I couldn't resist the passionfruit. 
Next, as we were waiting for our table, we were brought a couple of platters of canapes - lots of small versions of things on the menu. As Beth is a pescatarian, we gave her first pick of anything that wasn't meat and her favourite was a brie bite. The falafal was mine!
Once we were sat down at the table, the real choices started. First up, wine! We decided to go with a merlot to satisfy everyone - I think I am the only white wine drinker of the group and whilst I could have gone with a white, or a gin, I thought I'd stick with the team decision! 
We decided, once we'd seen how many items were on the menu, that we'd try and have something different each. It was super easy to do as there were so many different items available. I chose to start with scallops - a choice I will make pretty much every time I see them on a menu, Beth chose the salt and pepper squid (which would have been my second choice, George had a duck liver parfait and Jim went with crispy chicken. 

My scallops came with pancetta and lentils which was just delicious, and I had a little taste of Beths squid too. It was really nice!
Our mains did take a while to arrive, but having worked with restaurants in the past, I know that these first nights sometimes run longer on the food than they do once the chefs are used to the menu, but we were bought another bottle of wine, which made the wait feel much less! 
Jim had the rack of lamb, picked in part for the dauphinoise potatoes - which to me seems like as good a reason as any to order any meal. Beth had the Sea Bass, George went with the Lobster and Crab fishcakes and I had the Pork Belly. It came with more scallops, but as much as I love scallops I did relent to give them away to other on the table.

My only problem with it all was that I knew we had puddling to come and we'd already had canapes and starters, so I eat everything on my plate, as I had me eye on an eton mess!
And Eton Mess was exactly what I chose for dessert. But with mangos and berries, not the usual strawberries. Beth went with a mini dessert - the cheesecake - and a tea. And George chose to have the crumble. As he was sitting on the other side of the table to me, I had to pass the camera to Jim to get this shot and you can't imagine how proud he is of the dripping custard shot!  
As for Jims pud, he went with a melting chocolate and peanut butter dome. Not only was it gold, but it came with a little theatre to finish! 
We did discuss finishing the night with a cocktail, but it was a school night so we decided to forgo those for another time. Plus, after four courses of absolutely delicious food, we were totally stuffed.

I have to say everyone was very impressed with their food, and with the ambience and decor in the venue. Beth and I have decided it's getting added into our roster of meeting places when we get together for lunches.

And it was so lovely to be able to treat some friends to a really great meal, on my birthday week. I hate having to pick places for birthday meals as I always feel like if one person gets something a bit iffy, it's my fault for choosing that venue, but we all had such a great meal that we left really happy, full and vowing to return.

[AD - This meal and the associated drinks were given to us free of charge in return for this blog post. But all the words and opinions are mine!]

Recent Reads - the 2018 edition

It's been a while since I wrote one of these. Far too long. But as it turns out 2018 was the first year that I've recorded ALL the books I've been reading, (I even created some sort of poor man book bullet journal). So this post is going to be easier for me than if I was relying on my quite frankly terrible memory!

I thought I'd round up the things I read, and then do a little recap about my favourites. 

I managed to get through 42 1/2  books in 2018, which, given my lay about status might not sound like many, but when chemo brain makes reading hard (honestly, not being able to remember what happened on the page you left off on is so frustrating) and you've watched as many random Netflix shows as I have, I think it's a pretty decent number! In fact, I have to say I am pretty proud of it. 

Some of these books were hardback - I love a hardback - some were paperbacks, some were 99p kindle first reads, some were just normal kindle purchases. Some were whim purchases based solely on the cover art. Some were recommendations and loaned books. Some were absolute flops. Some have stuck with me for months and months and become books I implore people to read. Some were read during chemo insomnia, some were devoured in the garden in the sun, others in bed on days I couldn't get up, some read on my phone whilst on dog walks because I just couldn't put them down......

So, onto what I read in 2018; 
  1. This must be the place - Maggie O'Farrell - ****
  2. A year of Marvellous Ways - Sarah Winman - ****
  3. Everything I never told you - Celeste Ng - ****
  4. Calling Major Tom -David M Barnett - ***
  5. One of us is lying -Karen McManus - ***
  6. The Party - Robyn Harding - **
  7. Little fires everywhere - Celeste Ng - *****
  8. In the dark, In the woods - Eliza Wass - ***
  9. The Copenhagen Affair - Amulya Malladi - ****
  10. The Vanishing of Esme Lennox - Maggie O'Farrell - ****
  11. The versions of us - Laura Barnett - ***
  12. Trespassing - Brandi Rees - **
  13. The places I stopped on the way home - Meg Fee - ****
  14. Eleanor Oliphant - Gail Honeyman - ***
  15. To all the boys I've loved before - Jenny Han - ****
  16. Eat Up - Ruby Tandoh - *****
  17. Zennor in Darkness - Helen Dunmore - ****
  18. The invisible life of Euridice Gusmao -Martha Batalla - *****
  19. Us - David Nicholls - **
  20. Come a little bit closer - Rachel Abbott - ***
  21. All over the place - Geraldine DeRuiter - **
  22. Tattooist of Auschwitz - Heather Morris - *****
  23. All the light we cannot see - Anthony Doerr - *****
  24. Without a hitch - Bettina Hunt - ***
  25. The history of the rain _ Niall Williams - **
  26. The keeper of lost things - Ruth Hogan - ***
  27. The good Liar - Catherine Mackenzie - ***
  28. Leah on the beat - Becky Albertalli - **
  29. The boy in the striped pyjamas - John Boyne - ****
  30. Together - Julie Cohen - ****
  31. The thinnest air - Minka Kent - **
  32. I will never leave you - S.M Thayer - **
  33. The memory shop - Ella Griffin - *****
  34. The summer of impossible things - Rowan Coleman - *****
  35. Where the light gets in - Lucy Dillon - ***
  36. The cancer whisperer - Sophie Sabbage (I didn't finish this book - it was too preachy!) - *
  37. The book thief - Markus Zusak -  ****
  38. Big little lies - Lianne Moriarty - ****
  39. Where'd you go Bernadette? Maria Semple - *****
  40. Missing pieces - Laura Pearson - ***
  41. The ragged edge of the night - Olivia Hawker - *****
  42. I let you go - Clare Mackintosh - ***
  43. D-Day - Anthony Beevor (I'm still reading this........)
So, there you have it. The books I read in 2018. 

But what were my favourites? And why?

Little fires everywhere - Celeste Ng
I think that everyone who read this book in 2018 loved it, and I totally think that it's justified. It's just the most beautifully written book, that makes you not want to put it down. I read it in two sittings. It touches on teen angst, parenting issues, race issues - I loved how different the lives of the Richardsons and Mia and Pearl were, and how their lives are intertwined in such interesting, and tragic ways. 

I got this book in a Reading in Heels book and I know you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but I had a feeling I'd enjoy it, but I didn't anticipate how much. It's just so beautifully written. Funny, so much funnier than I thought it would be. And vibrant. And colourful. And it made me think so much about the lives of these women who were supposed to just be wives and mothers but longed to be so much more! Please hunt this book down and read it! 

All the light we cannot see - Anthony Doerr
I know I'm a bit late to this one, but I am so glad that I found it. I'm a sucker for a WW2 story - I mean I read history books for fun. The way the story splits between these two young people, caught up in the war, in such different ways was perfect. The way their childhoods have shaped the people they have become, and the way they interact with each other. I felt so much for Werner. And the descriptions of St Malo are just beautiful. 

Where'd you go Bernadette? Maria Semple
I got this book after a recommendation by my friend Zoe. It's another book where I was already bought in just by the cover. And then I realised it was set in Seattle, so that was another plus. I have read a few heavy books this year, so the humour in this book was so welcomed, and easily read. I loved the way the book switched between texts and emails and documents. And I really loved how I literally had no clue where it was going as I read!

The ragged edge of the night - Olivia Hawker
I got this as a 99p kindle read, and let me tell you, I have read some absolute dross on those offers, but this one was not one of those books. It's another WW2 story, about a German priest who leaves the monastery after it's decimated by the SS, and decides to do his bit for the war by marrying a widow and helping raise her family.  

Tattooist of Auschwitz - Heather Morris
This was another cheap kindle read, maybe not 99p, but hugely discounted at just the moment I needed a train read. And I read this on one trip back from London. It's the story of a man who is forced to be the tattooist of the new people brought to Auschwitz. One of the people he tattoos is a woman, whom he falls in love with. This is the story, the true story it turns out, of how there was some small moments of light in the most horrific of places. 

Eat Up - Ruby Tandoh
It's not often I buy a none fiction book that's not a history book, but I had heard such great things about this, and it didn't disappoint. It was funny and educational and easy to read and talked about a love of creme eggs. I feared it might be preachy for me. I hate people telling me how to eat, but it was more of an instruction to give up the food guilt. A love letter to food if you will!

The summer of impossible things - Rowan Coleman
Not going to lie, I'm not usually a fan of time travel in books, but I do love anything that's got a hit of the magical about it, not in a harry potter kind of way mind (Shall I let you in on a secret - not read the books or seen all the films) but back to this book - it's set between the modern day and the 1970s in 

The memory shop - Ella Griffin
This is a really pretty, easy read. I bought it as some light relief and that's exactly what it was. It's a beautifully written tale of a woman who goes to her grandparents home after they die, whilst in turmoil herself, and finds herself having to find a way to get rid of their belongings and heal herself - so sets up a little pop-up shop. The characters are really relatable, and it's just a bit of cute book!

This must be the place - Maggie O'Farrell
This is my second Maggie O'Farrell novel, the first was Instructions for a heatwave, and I love her style of writing. You'll see, I read another in close succession. I loved the way this book jumped between the books current day and the characters pasts. I was so bought into Daniel and Claudette's lives that I just wanted to find out everything about their pasts, especially why Claudette, the world-famous actress, had become a recluse in the wilds of Ireland.


And now I get to start the pile of books I collected over Christmas and my birthday and ordered at the back end of the year and have just sat looking at for a while. But I'll need more.

Tell me, what have been your favourite reads of late. Give me inspiration. Give me a direction in which to turn! Give me more books I have to buy and slowly bankrupt myself doing (or I happily take hand me downs!)

Bookings are now being taken up until September........

In a somewhat reckless move, I am currently booking events and making plans all the way through the summer, and right up until the end of September......maybe later if Jim gets a date to get his bloody ACL fixed - in which case I'll be drawing up plans for snowboarding next season.

Sod the notion that someone with stage IV cancer shouldn't look past their next scan (which is coming round at an alarming rate and I've got some scanxiety due about the middle of february) I am already planning past the NEXT lot of scans! 

Me, I'm currently all about the next thing to look forward to and then the next thing, and the next thing.

We might not be able to sod off on a 3 week trip around California again - ailing bank accounts notwithstanding, my treatment plan currently doesn't allow for us to leave Sheffield for more than 2 weeks at a time - but we are cultivating a summer full of fun and adventure. 

I currently have 4 beer festivals in the diary, a hen do (Sam if you're reading this, the stripper is confirmed!), some gigs, weekends away visiting friends a trip to Berlin, a trip to Copenhagen, a week in a chateau in France for a wedding, Glastonbury, a week sailing and various other fun events to be thrown in there too!

I have literally no clue how I am going to finance these trips (more to come on money and cancer I suspect at some point) but I feel like it's really important to have these things to look forward to. To not let myself, or Jim, become a slave to the scans, or the fact that at the moment I have to be at the hospital or doctors every other week. There's no point having all this treatment to prolong my life if it's not a great life, is there?

What do you think? I am crazy or doing the right thing? 


Blue badge fraud - and why I'm not committing it!

When you get an incurable cancer diagnosis, you can also get a blue badge*. Call it a perk of the job.

I've had mine since June and I'd say at least monthly someone asks me if I know I'm parked in a disabled space, or if they can inspect the badge, or asks me why I'm parked where I am. Given my nan has had her blue badge for a good 10 years and not once has anyone questioned her right to use it, monthly for 6 months seems a bit much.

I should probably start by saying I don't think I'm abusing the system, I mean I use it, but my blue badge rarely comes out to park in actual disabled bays. I've not really found a supermarket car park so big it's required - unless the car park is rammed and then, well, whats a lady to do? And I'll confess, I've also used it Meadowhall once too - in my defence, it was manically busy AND hammering it down. But I do use it regularly when parking in paid parking bays in town. It gives me free parking which is super useful, especially on my reduced income, and it's useful if you're just nipping into a shop but have a quid for the parking meter or I'm in the jewellery studio.

But something I've noticed is that parking attendants and old people seem to think I'm cheating the system. That I shouldn't be using it. That somehow I've got my hands on a badge through a back door, like the dodgy NUS cards we all had before we were allowed one, or those speakers we bought out the back of a van when we were at uni..... Trust me. I wish I had. If I could swap the blue badge out for my bloody health, I'd be all over it. But I can't!

I've had old men quizzing me in the M&S food carpark about why I'm using a disabled bay. Old ladies getting out of their cars to make sure there IS a blue badge on the dashboard. Car park attendants walking slowly past my car checking my credentials. And then, then there are the traffic wardens. They love to make sure that I'm not committing blue badge fraud!

A couple of weeks ago, on christmas eve, on the way back from treatment, I stopped off at some local shops and threw the car in one of the in a street space outside them. See, I'm doing my bit, shopping local. I'd popped to get some beer (a couple of big hitting DIPA's and some sours, if you're interested!) when Jim called to ask me to go get some bits from the cheesemonger across the road.

I popped back to the car with the beer so I didn't have to carry it far, then I jogged across the road for the cheese. When I say jogged, I mean I did that silly run you do when someone is letting you across in front of their car, not an actual jog, more like a strange start to a triple jump with a little shuffle at the end. I got some glorious cheese - one specifically for eating with a strong beer! The beer and cheese pairings were on point that night!

But when I got back to my car there was a parking attendant waiting for me, to check I'm eligible to use the blue badge. I'd seen him when I dropped off the beer, checking tickets, but didn't think much of it. But there he stood, waiting for me, asking me questions, quite aggressively about my blue badge, wanting to know what right I've got to be using it - wanting to know what's wrong with me!

I suppose I ought to be grateful I don't look like I need the badge, but jeez, it's getting old now, explaining that 'yes it's mine, yes I'm entitled to park in this spot, and no, not all disabilities are visible dontyouknow!' If it's a particularly judgemental questioning, like the one on christams eve, I can't be held responsible for dropping the 'T' word in there when I reply. I know it makes them uncomfortable, I can see it in their faces, but it makes me feel better!

It's just another fun side effect of this world I'm inhabiting. Being quizzed about my eligibility to what small perks there are to my current situation. I guess all it means now is I'm going to have to perfect a kaiser soze limp (also, side note - am I allowed to reference him, I just don't know)

*for those of you not in the UK, a blue badge is a parking pass that allows you to park in a disable space! Not to be confused with a blue peter badge - that is a whole different thing!

Fuck Cancer Pins are available now!

I've just realised I've not shared these awesome pins here, we launched them in November, but for some reason, I didn't get round to writing this post, but they definitely need sharing far and wide.

Emmie, the extraordinary lady I make the Fuck Cancer pins with, and I wanted to create something a little more accessible, knowing that not everyone can afford one of the necklaces we are making, so we started with pins. Ironically, they arrived on a day I was in the hospital having treatment so we turned my bed into a little factory line, and we'd sold a good few of them before they left the oncology ward, let alone made it online! 
The silver and the rose gold necklaces seem to be selling the best, so we started there with colours for the pins. One pin in silver and black, and one pin in rose gold and white. For a while, the rose gold pin was far outselling the silver, but I think right now, we're just about on equal sales. Which is to say we've sold over half of each of the colours of the pins.
At least £5 from the sale of each of the pins is going to Cavendish Cancer Care, a charity in Sheffield that supports people who are affected by cancer. Over the last couple of years, I've had counselling,  acupuncture and shiatsu through Cavendish, and every visit with them has been just magical. So raising money for them, to help them support other people is a no brainer! 

You can get your pins here.