Thanks to all of you for writing to me – such lovely things you say – I feel truly blessed. Even more so, when I know that for some of you trying to post your comments has been a nightmare!!
Mercifully my eagle-eyed editor has sorted the problem out and removed the data recognition thingy that you had to fill in before sending. I have to admit to being more than a little confused the first time I saw it, but completely poleaxed when I tried to read the unreadable combination of letters, numbers and punctuation marks. It was like trying to crack the enigma code, so bless you for persevering!
Sadly, not such a happy outcome for my friendly duck Dilys and her nest of a dozen eggs… I only discovered she was there because I found a broken egg on the lawn and each day more eggshells were scattered about. She'd made her nest in the patch of borage that I have growing by the front door, but it was up against the wall and is a favourite rat run for the furry friends who live in the next door barn.
Each day I checked on her, but she gave up sitting in the end and all the eggs were eaten. She and her husband Dex still spend time in the front garden, and this morning I witnessed them carrying out a strange ritual which involved stretching their legs out in front of them and then tucking one underneath themselves – a bit like Thai Chi and almost as graceful!
My mum came to stay for a couple of days last week, and it was really good to see her. We made liver and bacon casserole and rice pudding, and she helped me with a knitting project that a friend of mine had started me on! She'd not been here since my birthday last year, and had never seen the garden properly or the apple trees and rhubarb!
We had a couple of slow and short walks and she was delighted when we found a few cowslips growing in the meadow. They're not easily found nowadays, apparently because of the use of pesticides, but in the open land that surrounds me here, there are quite a few.
The name is actually from the Old English cu- sloppe meaning cow pat, because they grew in fields where cattle grazed – lovely!! Mum knew this, and is a mine of information when it comes to wild flowers.
I remember when I was a child and we used to go for walks, she'd tell me what each of the flowers were called and bought me a little book called The Flower Fairies which I loved. She is also incredibly clever at arranging flowers and can make the smallest bunch of innoquous blooms look beautiful
I also had a visit from one of Lucy's friends who brought her beautiful baby son for me to cuddle. His name is Owen, and he is gorgeous isn't he? I couldn't hold him too tight, but he was as good as gold
I'll be seeing mum again the weekend after this as my niece Emily is getting married to Paul – affectionately known as Paulie Emily is my sister Jenny's eldest daughter, and my god daughter.
I remember seeing her for the first time in Portsmouth Hospital, such a dear little soul with hair that stood up like a paintbrush. Although pleased to see me, my sister accused me of having lied to her… "You said having a baby didn't hurt!!" This was true, but I had felt it necessary to err on the side of caution – after all, no two births are the same! :)
Emily is a sweetheart and very bright, having gone on to obtain a first class honours degree in English. Paul is also a first class graduate, and they will both be heading off to Bangladesh after the wedding – not for the honeymoon, but for a year's business venture!
Luckily, Jenny's other daughter Verity is staying put, as I know Jenny will find it hard having Em so far away, in the same way I find I miss Sam so very much. We do speak at least once a week though and he recently sent me this photograph, and it's good to see how well he looks and how much happier too….
Luckily my rather unusual 'new' shape fits into the dress I had for Lucy's wedding and so I will wear that again. Jenny, though, was in a bit of a quandry as to what to wear as Mother of the Bride, but we chanced upon her outfit when we met up for lunch some months back. It's a duck egg blue colour, crepe de chine, dress and jacket, and we've also got her a gorgeous hat. She looks stunning and I'll make sure I get a couple of photos to show you
I'm going to be doing her make-up on the day, and have also been asked by Em to do hers too!!! No pressure then! Colin and I will drive down the day before and stay over so we don't have to face the M25 on a Saturday morning! All exciting stuff and I'm looking forward to it very much.
In the meantime I am taking it slowly and spending a fair bit of time under my snuggle top, cosy toes, Northern Nights duvet There's sometimes a feeling of deja vu as I watch the seasons change, remembering how it was this time last year… of course no chemo to contend with, just a strange numbness and a sensation of weight similar to having two small children sitting on my chest They tell me it will settle in the next few months, and I have no reason to disbelive them, so I will do as you suggest, and take each day as it comes :)
I hope all is well in your world, and I look forward to catching up with you again soon,
Love Ali xxx