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Life Blog – Days 186 – 187 Farewell Brave Man

25/01/2011. Tuesday was one of those non days, I went to work felt utterly tired out left at 4  came home and made preparations for the next day.  Not the stuff for an opening line to a novel then. I ironed a shirt and nipped out with Peanut to do some shopping in the Co-op ( that’s right we are the people in the new Co-op advert) and we came home with a fish supper – God do I like decadence.

26/01/2011. No work today. Today was the day to celebrate the life of a brave young man, Andrew Venn who passed away recently after along battle with leukaemia. His funeral was in Maidstone and the MINI community was there alongside all his family and other friends to pay their respect and remember the Andy that we all loved and admired. It is hard to write publicly about this and I hope that my words are sensitive and kind and explain how it was while remaining respectful.

All in all it was about a 3 hour drive each way, with a stop at Chievely services on the way down to meet up with MinisooperCooper and a few other MINI travellers. It also gave me a chance to remind myself of how outrageuos I find Costalot are for their turgid coffee!

Andrew’s funeral was at Maidstone Crematorium and he had been escorted there by his family, friends and a convoy of over 30 respectful MINIs and all who know Andrew would deem that the best Guard of Honour he could wish for.  The ceremony was punctuated by fond words from family, friends and his partner Elliot, who spoke so eloquently and kept his composure so well at such a difficult time. Random memories struck me from inside the crematorium. An old lady with silver hair and a royal blue coat sung her heart out to “All Things Bright and Beautiful”; it has been so long since I have repeated the words to The Lord’s Prayer; being up in the galleriy looking down and seeing the bravery and courage in every pew below me; never for a moment thinking that I would cry but shedding tears when the Vicar read out the poem ” Mother and Child.”

It was an incredibly moving ceremony.

As much as we were there to mourn Andrew’s passing we were all there to celebrate his life and we did this and for me it came about in a number of ways. Old faces not seen for a long time popped up and old friendships strengthened and Andrew would have loved to see this as the MINI community united in love for him. Some of the words from the ceremony captured the essence of Andrew and what he has come to mean to so many of us.

“SMILE, Open your eyes, LOVE and go on

You can shed tears that Andrew is gone

Or, you can smile because he has lived.

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back

Or you do what he would want:

SMILE, open your eyes, LOVE and go on.”

I am 50 and I am proud to have learned a fresh philosophy from such a grown up young man and for me I sum it up as “there is only time for smiles.” Thank you Andrew for sharing your philosophy.

On such a day as this there were a  many old friends there that helped make it so much better. I have an old MINI Mate Puzzle, we have both been in and around MINIs for yonks and in this time she has met and married a smashing bloke Chris ( Loui) and now they are 3 and a half weeks form having a baby girl whose name shall be a secret to us all for now. Can’t say why exactly ( perhaps there need not be a reason) but I found this ever so exciting for them both and I wish them every joy and happiness. Another Pal of old, Becky is a dear dear friend to Elliot, Andrew’s partner and he is Godfather to  her daughter Tate. Becky did a slideshow of photographs of Andrew throughout his life and it was so touching to watch and clearly a labour of love that she did so brilliantly.

Finally it was time for us to leave for our 3 hour drive home. We left tired but glad hearted that we were there to celbrate the life of a singularly inspirational young man.

God Bless you Andrew!

 

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Life Blog – Days 183-185

22/01/2011. The weekend had got off to a great start with a Friday night round at our neighbours for a lovely meal and this was followed by a visit from my cousin Lorraine who was up from London for the weekend.

Lorraine arrived at Midday so first thing was a bite to eat and Peanut made us a meat ball pasta bake and garlic bread. Yum yum and very nice it was too. We needed to do a bit of exercise as this weekend was looking like being all about eating, so next stop was up the Hills to show Lorraine the  views from the top of the Malverns. We parked at the Wyche Cutting and headed for the tallest hill the Worcestershire Beacon. Well, yes it was cold and windy and I did find it pretty hard going – 4 doses of chemo and a stiff walk like that are not natural partners of one another but, I held up and we got there in the end. We even managed a few pictures while we were up there and we were rather pleased with how this one turned out looking back at the path we had just walked up.

When we got back down off the hill we had a little walk around Malvern itself, taking in the theatre and the Priory. Tour duly done it was back home for a cuppa and a well earned rest!

The evening held another big meal for us as Lorraine treated us to an Indian at Anupam which was lovely and a very pleasant way to round off the day. Of course nothing is straightforward when you are in the middle of chemotherapy so poor Lorraine was treated to a bout of my chemo hiccups while we were at the restaurant. It really does embarrass me but hey its life, I’ll get over it.

23/01/2011. Sunday was all about being lazy we all got up leisurely and Peanut did a full English breakfast for the 3 of us and chemo or no chemo that went down a treat! About lunch time Lorraine headed off south back to London, so that she could get the drive done in the light. It had been great to see her, it had been a while since we had caught up and we really enjoyed catching up, and somehow I feel it wont be long before we catch up again. We certainly hope so anyway! :)

Sunday night was an anticlimax after a great weekend. Peanut went to work about seven and I went to bed at nine shattered and in need of sleep ready for work the next day. Eeeh I don’t know, I think I’m just having too much fun these days!

24/01/2011. Back at work and God I was tired today. Peanut had mentioned to me that my blood platelets were half what they should be and today I had an understanding of what this meant; I just felt very, very tired and 4 o’clock saw me skyving off for an early dart quite exhausted. Home and Lady P revived me with a cuppa and a naughty tea that included waffles!

Time to say goodnight then and a day off from Memory Lane this time as I just wanted to mention that the date for Peanut’s Sky Dive in aid of Cancer Research UK has now been confirmed for the 7th May. Find out more and support her  here!

Goodnight! xx


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Life Blog – Days 181/182 Chemo 4

20/01/2011. Today was my fourth Chemo session. We had an early appointment but this just meant we were there a bit longer as we didn’t get started much sooner. Still the upshot was we were away a little after one. Basically it wasn’t bad at all. I went a little green for a short while and my biggest moan was that someone must have grabbed all the bourbon creams and I had to settle for a pour second jam rings, which meant crumbs everywhere. I made a comment on Facebook about this being proof of a crisis in the NHS and my mate RVW, albeit tongue in cheek, rightly pointed out that there I was enjoying my £1500 quid chemo cocktail courtesy of the NHS while moaning that there were no bourbon creams! He’s right of course and hey where else can you get a hit like that man – I mean those tingly toes and fingers are something else I can tell you! :)

We were both home for the afternoon but by now Peanut had caught the cold I had had so was feeling very poorly sick and spent the afternoon either asleep or in the bathroom! I too had a sleepy head and dozed or played on the tinternet. NCIS finished off our day

21/01/2011. A full day in work and it was a breeze and personally satisfying too as I got through a lot of work and got stuck into some training with one of the young apprentices and felt very pleased with what we got through today. A good day marred only by an outbreak of chemo hiccups which  remain with me as I right at 10 to six. It is so frustrating, they are relentless!

11.46pm. Friday night  is my favourite night as it starts the weekend and tonight was a good one. We went across to our neighbours Margaret and Bill for the evening and enjoyed a lovely meal starting with crisps and dips, followed by steak with turnips, sweet potatoes, broccoli, green beans, onions and potatoes and a pepper corn sauce. DElicious. This was followed by home made Treacle and ginger steam sponge with custard and homemade profiteroles with cream and warm chocolate sauce. This was indeed a 5* restaurant! We dined with their lovely daughters Kathryn and Claire and all the company was delightful. A really enjoyable Friday night so thanks muchly for your hospitality guys!

Time to love you and leave you but not before yet another trip down Memory Lane. I guess this is a bit of an indulgence from me as I really enjoy looking back so I hope you take a peek now and then too. With Peanut doing a sky dive for Cancer Research Uk later this year it got me thinking about some of the other crazy things we have done. Quad Biking being one and I can’t believe we have not done this since July 2007 as it was such a hoot. Here is what I said about it at the time.

“Sunday 1st July saw the Severns on their first Quad-biking outing. We had been warned that it would be muddy, not surprisingly since we had had the most torrential rain, and floods of epic proportions for the previous two weeks, but even driving down the potholed track to Reception didn’t quite prepare us for the parking area. We would have liked to have left our precious minis on the nice concrete but instead had to reverse into a mud pit! There were waterproof trousers and jackets for those that wanted them and helmets for everyone, and although Peanut found them all somewhat large (even though her trousers had only half a leg) she settled for a full red helmet which seemed to wobble on her head less than the rest. We listened to the rules, signed our lives away, had a brief introduction to the bikes and soon set off for our trek. The bikes were strange to steer and needed turning hard to respond, and the brakes…well, they worked, but the mud made it impossible to stop, so we sometimes bumped into the chap in front. After a slowish trek from the yard, we got up steam and started the fun over rough steep tracks, through woods, then across fields, up and around hills and through water. It was only with about 15 minutes to go that it started to rain and by then were we on our way back. In the end the mud made it more fun; on a hot, dry and dusty day I would think it would have seemed hard work. As it was, it was all tremendous fun and everyone enjoyed themselves immensely– so much so that the cry has already gone up for the next outing. The trip was rounded off by an excellent lunch in the Old Ferry Inn at Beachley, with panoramic views of the Severn and its bridge.”

And here is a photo Montage from the day!

 

 

So goodnight and sleep well. xx


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Life Blog – Days 177 – 180 Life, Dreams and Plans

16/01/2011. Sunday was a fun day. Our friends Rose,John and their daughter Sophie came to see us and we went into Malvern for a Sunday lunch.

Wetherspoons have taken over The Foley Arms in the centre of town so we went there and spent a very pleasant few hours enjoying lunch. Me and Peanut had their Nachos starter to share, which was nice but honestly just get the small portion to share as the larger for two portion was huge! For the main course we both had braised shoulder of lamb while Rose and John had a steak each. Sophie ate every bit of her spaghetti bolognaise. A touch of red helped to wash it all down and I have to say we really enjoyed the afternoon in fun company!

The fun came to and end as Peanut went to work on Sunday evening. :(

17/01/2011. Monday morning and life felt very normal here, the same Monday morning blues as everyone else has who has to go to work after a great weekend. My voice was a lot better by now than it had been too – I could actually be heard on the telephone.

18/01/2011. Tuesday and first stop the hospital for some blood samples and a quick check over by the chemo doctors. All went well and they were very speedy so I got to work  way before lunch which was good! Meanwhile back at Beastie Folly things were brewing. Lady Peanut had been off all day on Monday and she had a long time to think about things. Our son-in-law Carl had just set up a website to encourage people to “Do Something Crazy” and on the back of that he had announced that his “Crazy Thing” was to do a sky jump in aid of Cancer Research UK. Peanut was really taken with the idea so decided that this was also going to be her “Crazy Thing” for 2011. She had thought long and hard, talked herself out of it, then realised that this was making her miserable, so came back to the idea with renewed vigour. So the upshot is she is committed and has set it all up and will jump sometime in May or June. My own take on this is ” Go for it Girl.” I like to think of myself as “an encourager”, it is not my style to stifle a person’s confidence, so fine by me but thank Heaven my personal battle excludes me from being eligible to jump! Being a partner of a loved one who has a health battle is very difficult. They feel helpless and frustrated as they can’t seem to do much to help. Of course that is nonsense as Peanut is frankly an amazing inspiration to me and helps me beyond belief. However, this will give her focus, it will fill her head over the next few months and allow her to feel like she is helping. In conclusion doing an insane Skydive will ensure Peanut’s sanity! I’m afraid then that some of you guys are going to have to donate sooner or later! :) You can find out about it here.

19/01/2011. Today has been a great day all round. The day for me revolved around work and two trips to the hospital. First trip was for an eye sight field test and all went well there and then late afternoon I had a consultation with the Bowel Man and this centred around the plan for post chemo and ultimately the liver operation. Basically he will co-ordinate between the liver team, the Chemo Gurru and himself and we were both encouraged by this! He then went on to say that he will also see me again in August as that will be one year after my bowel operation so he will check how that is all panning out. Now I’m not being morbid here but I took great delight in this and I couldn’t help but think ” Oh that’s good he obviously thinks I’m still going to be around by then!” Really trust me I have a very upbeat outlook on this battle, but with all the will in the world you get thoughts like that now and again.

Home and  minced beef hot pot followed by ice cream and … yes bramley apple sauce! This was nice because tomorrow is Chemo Four and trust me there will be no ice cream for a few days after that, the cold would set off the tingles like crazy! Peanut checked on her SkyDive and wow £ 95.00 donated after one day – we were well chuffed!

Pound notes have changed hands, that’s it no going back for Peanut now.

Memory Lane tonight is going back to MINI United 2009. I apologise as we went here once already, but MINI just confirmed the actual dates as 26 – 28 August so this has brought it to the front of our minds. WE told the consultant today that we wanted to go to this and hoped the operation would be done in good time and that we would see him in August but not if we were in France! This then is a rather enjoyable video of some of The Highlights of 2009 made by the MINI Team themselves!

Goodnight speak soon! xx


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Life Blog – Days 174 -176 Our Wedding Anniversary

13/01/2011. Thursday was another day in work and it was hard going really. First thing I went to the Doctor’s as my throat was just so sore. The result; an old fashioned cough and sore throat. The chemo means I don’t fight it as well as I should but it is not the chemo directly causing it. All I know is it is without question the most painful sore throat I have had in 50 years on this planet.

Antibiotics were dispensed and an improvement was very quick in coming with the pain being the first thing to get better. Thursday then. Yes I made it into work but I finished a bit early as I was shattered. When I got home I rallied a bit after zapping my throat with a bowl of weetabix but I was just so tired!

The next day was our wedding anniversary, so I took a few minutes to make Lady P a card on the computer. The printer barely has any ink and I did it on ordinary A4 paper folded into 4 and the end result was very Blue Peter circa 1968. I think this gave it a certain charm though. It’s funny how emotions get you but I found an old picture of us drinking champagne on Xmas Day at our place in Port Cogolin as the front cover for the card and added a few words inside and you know, I made myself cry doing that!

 

I’m not a one for tears, so odd that!

14/01/2010. Our wedding anniversary Yay! 5 years and to think  we got married because of a random conversation. We had been happy as a couple living together and the status quo seemed all fine and I said to P I’d marry her when I was 50! You wont you’ll marry me now was the instant retort, so we did and have never looked back. We are both so glad we did it then and didn’t leave it until now!

Anyway the day began well as I pulled out my card and gave it to P before we had even got out of bed. She loved it. Friday was going t be a good day! Work came and went with me feeling the best that I had felt all week and then it was back home where P had decided to try faggots with mash and marrow peas. First though we nipped to the community hospital to have my Hickman line flushed again. The nurse though was poorly so we had to reschedule for the next day. As we drove back through Malvern I spotted a few nice restaurants  and hatched a plan to have a meal out for a change. My mate RVW has copped for that invite as he is down in a fortnight.

Dinner then was a bit later than usual but this was nice in a way and we had a glass of wine with our faggots which meant that we had a lovely Friday night talking nonsense round the dinner table. Don’t ask what as wine was involved but it would have gone one of two ways, either I’d have sorted the whole world out – usually I can do this one in an hour, or I’d have bored Peanut to death talking about watches but because she would have had a drop of wine she would have had the resilience to listen lovingly to my nonsense! It was fabulous and I hope your Friday night was as much fun! :)

15/01/2011. Quarter to ten saw us back at the community hospital and I finally got the Hickman line flushed. In truth this was good as it had got us up and about early. We popped into Malvern ( anyone seen the new Co-op ad about the guy who wants his weekends back so he just pops into the Co-op now and then as need arises? Well P adopted that philosophy ages ago) and had a mooch around and then picked up some bits from the Co-op.

When we got home we had a Puritan moment and sought God’s love by doing a session of housework. Halfway through we realised that in truth we were really bad sinners, so spent an extra couple of hours recovering our dining chairs to further repent. By 6pm we were satisfied that once more we were welcome in the Kingdom of Heaven!

The voice is still gone, the anti biotics give me tummy cramps but hey if we can spend the afternoon playing at being upholsterers then I can’t be that bad.

Our reward for our Puritanism was more than just a passport to Heaven, there was an earthly reward too as Peanut cooked the Pork she had bought earlier on. Pork with mash, gravy and greens topped with lashings of bramley apple sauce. Very nice indeed though note Peanut did not have any apple sauce with her pork. For dessert she cooked two flavours of ice cream, a vanilla and a vanilla and chocolate mix and this looked yummy too. Then Peanut picked up the apple sauce and ladled a good few heaps onto her ice cream. Now I don’t know why but I found this bizarre and shocking and let her get on with it. She was loving it so I succumbed and decided to Do Something Crazy (more later) and follow suit. Well it was gorgeous, it reminded me of a yoghurt fruit corner when you mix the fruit with the yoghurt and I loved it. We’ll be stocking up on Bramley apple sauce or maybe even homemade as I noticed she had some baking “appuls” too!

Driverman ( my favourite Son-in-Law) has been getting itchy feet to do something crazy. Today’s trip down Memory Lane then is a simple memory. In 2008 we were on holiday with Driverman and The Elf in the South of France. We had spent the day in Cannes and driving out along the coast we spotted some parascending from a speedboat so we stopped the car and decided to have a go. It was ideal as the parachute catered for two at a time, so we all had a go. We loved it and thought it was great fun! Not really that crazy as it was a bit tame. Then The Elf and Driverman went up and the screams and terror that emanated from The Elf was staggering, she was terrified and hated it so maybe it was “doing something Crazy” afterall!

Cannes 2008

He has set up a website to encourage people to Do Something Crazy so take a look and sign his pledge, it might make 2011 a little different; I know, join us for a Go Kart race on the Côte d’Azur after MINI United 2011 that should be fun even if you do lose!

Catch ya later x


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Life Bog – Days 170-173 The Reality of Cancer

09/01/2011. Sunday morning did indeed see us out and about for a walk and a few shots with the camera. Post our 365 project of 2010 we are a little lost on the camera front so we have determined to at least do a Picture of The Week instead. Doing a Picture a day has pros and cons, it teaches you how to use a camera better than anything else but the challenge of a Picture a Day means subject matter will at times be frankly dull. A Picture a Week then should showcase better pictures as there are less of them. This was our introduction photo  to the challenge. So if you are not up to a 365 project how about doing this to make sure you keep using that camera of yours!

 

Sun On Ice

The walk tired me quickly so it was home and television and Zen in the evening a new Detective series about an Italian detective. It works for me I quite enjoy it.

10/01/2010. A day back in work which I coped with quite well though by now I had developed a very bad sore throat and I was losing my voice. I kid you not I have had 27 jokes along the lines of ” Lost your voice?  That’s Good”! Well you will all pay when I get my voice back trust me.

And then Wham! Punch Smack. At home in the evening and we learn of the so sad news of the death of Andy Venn a vibrant young man who was a huge figure in the MINI Community.

“So its goodnight from him… and goodnight from me”  Andy’s partner and our good friend Elliott wrote these beautiful words to tell the world that Andy had left us. We, like all who knew this lovely couple, were numb and I can say no words that come close to meaning anything but Elliott has so beautifully said it all in his post.

11/01 and 12/01/2011. Let me leave a gap here, no Memory Lane Trips from me, no tales of silliness from my days just a few thoughts.

Peanut and myself went to see Andy when he was in The Royal Marsden and had a great day with Ell and Andy and we flatter ourselves that they got some fun from the day too. The reality though is that that one day is emblazoned on our minds forever, we came away somehow inspired and humbled by the courage, resilience, strength and gentlemanliness of two young men who have no right to such wisdom at such a young age – for that day we thank you both always!


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Life Blog – Dearest Andy Venn

A dear friend of ours Andy Venn passed away today after a long battle with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. His partner Elliott bravely announced his passing away to the world on Andy’s Blog. His words are so moving and so expressive. Please take a look and remember one of the true great guys Andy Venn.

 

“So it’s goodnight from me… and goodnight from him…”

 

 

 Picture Becca Richards