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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!]
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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.

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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!)
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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? 





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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!
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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.
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