Some Like It Tough*

WordPress doesn’t seem to be feeling well this evening.  So will just do a small blog:

1.  Just watching highlights of the Andy Murray vs Milos Raonic match from earlier.  Exciting five-setter and Andy has just won!  Go Andy!

2.  Is nearly supper time.

3.  Tomorrow we are doing the RSPB Great Garden Birdwatch.  Hope that any of you lot who live in the UK will manage it?

4.  Radiotherapy starts on Wednesday.  Yuck.  On the plus side: am going to be able to attend Spin and my history course during it, although will spend the rest of the time sleeping.

5.  Fingers crossed that am seeing my Seb very soon.

6.  That skull says “Yorick” on his label.  Thought about purchasing him as a present for Seb, but didn’t.  

7.  There is an orange fluffy monster behind me.

8.  Despite the gale force winds and rain, managed a small bike ride with Dad today.

9.  Looking forward to Spin tomorrow.

10.  And to a long sleep.

11.  Dad loves his new glass teapot with a filter in the middle:

12.  The otters in the attached photo live at my Zoo.

Happy Friday everyone!

*1959.  By Jack Karney.  Detective novel.

A Shriek In The Night*

“I forgot to record the tennis,” Mum says, when arrive home with Dad from my course.  She’s in the kitchen, hanging up some washing.

“Oh,” I say, taking some wet socks from the kitchen table and handing them on the airer.  “That’s a shame.  Presumably that’s Jo losing her match and…”

“Yes,” Mum says.  

“Andy didn’t play today did he,” I say, wandering over to the cocktail section of the kitchen.

“No,” Mum says.  “Who did you learn about today?”

“Pol Pot,” I say.  “It was brilliant.  Fascinating.”  

Due to the-tennis-not-being-recorded, we’re watching last night’s Winterwatch.  There are golden eagles, black grouse and ptarmigan.  There’s also the distracting smell of chips wafting through from the kitchen.  Hungry.

Even The Rapid Cyclist has to eat at a restaurant sometimes.  Or, to be precise, every Thursday lunchtime before the 2pm history lecture.  Here’s lunch:  

Houmous, cauliflower, aubergine and pitta bread.  Yum.  Share this starter with Dad.  Main course: rice, aubergine, butternut squash and salad – not quite so good.

Here’s this evening’s cocktail:

It’s gin, ginger wine, ginger ale and lime juice and is a variation on the Ginger Rogers, which is also meant to contain fresh mint.  But there’s not enough mint in the garden.  So, next time.

“Do you like it?” I ask Dad.  As you can see, have made one for Dad too.

“Very nice,” Dad says.  He drinks it and then sleeps through Winterwatch.

The attached photo is at Spin this morning.  Trousers by Fit Boutique.

Happy Thursday everyone!
*1933.  Ginger Rogers film.  Directed by Albert Ray.

Trading With Bodies*

“You’ve lost weight,” a girl in my Spin class says this morning.

“Ummmm,” I say.  “Thank you.  I’m wearing two pairs of trousers and…”

“No, you have,” she says.  “Definitely.”

“Well, that’s down to this class,” I say.  The others are looking at me now.  “I come here every day and…well, I had an operation so…”

“What operation?” A woman says. She’s sitting at the bike next to my one.  

“So, I had a mastectomy in December,” I say, climbing onto my bike, clicking my shoes into the pedals.  “And I’ve been coming everyday since then so…”

“I’ve just started today, you’re going to be my inspiration,” says the woman in front of me.  She’s slim, tanned, blonde.  Looks in good shape.  

“Thank you,” I say, pedalling.  “It’s the only thing I do at the moment.  I’m asleep the rest of the time.”

“You’re so positive,” she says.  She’s wearing a tight long-sleeved fuchsia top.

“I’m not,” I say, pulling my gloves on.  “It’s my mental disorder.  Oh: I’m going to be on the television soon: talking about my mental disorder and…”

“When?” Someone says.

“We don’t know yet,” I say.

“Let us know,” says the lady next to me.

“Oh I will,” I say.  “Don’t worry: I’m here every day…”

Am in the attached photo so you can judge for yourselves.
It’s Holocaust Memorial Day today.  And so I’ve decided to:

1.  Call out any antisemitism and anti-Zionism that I see online.  And there is So Much.

2.  And in Real Life: it’s easy to be quiet.  And hard to make a fuss.

3.  Am not dead – yet.  And am going to Make A Fuss.  Whilst I still can.  Am just not going to worry about what anyone thinks.

4.  Have learned a lot from my best friend – MadFatRunner.  And from my boyfriend Seb.  And they’re not Jewish.  And am constantly surprised and grateful that they have learned about Jewish things from me.  And that they care about antisemitism.

5.  So: think that would like to continue with interfaith dialogue things.  As one needs to have friends of other faiths to keep one’s mind open.  As well as all the other reasons for which one needs friends of other faiths.

Today’s cocktail is the A1:

Gin, Grand Marnier, grenadine, lemon juice.

Here is the salad that we had at supper:


Happy Wednesday everyone!
*1950.  By “Griff” – Ernest MacKeag.  British hard-boiled crime fiction novel.  Seized in a police raid in 1952 and all copies destroyed – due to its cover: 


Hold That Tiger!*

Attached photo is a Tiger Selfie.  Am not back on Tinder, but at my Zoo today ask Mum to take photo of me, with Melati (Real Tiger Mum) and Cinta (Tiger Daughter).  Mum is not brilliant with the camera, so this is what you’ve got am afraid.

Jae Jae (Tiger Dad) is an easier photographic target, due to his large size.  Also, am better with a phone camera than my mother.   Show you:

We have a fantastic day.  Due to the rain, Zoo is almost empty.  This isn’t brilliant for the Zoo, but it’s nice for us.  The “Animals in Action” display is wonderful: rats, ferrets, Harris Hawks, striated Caracas.

We spend time with baby sloth Edward – hand-reared due to being rejected by his parentals.  He has a soft toy as a mum.

Tonight’s cocktail was meant to be a White Lady: gin, Grand Marnier, lemon juice, sugar syrup.  Pour the ingredients in, except the sugar syrup, and it’s yellow.  Oh no!  

“Think I’m meant to strain the lemon juice,” I say to Mum.  “And need sugar syrup and…”

“No you don’t,” Mum says, chopping tofu.  

“What can I use instead?” I say, staring at the yellow cocktail.  “It needs these bits of lemon not to be here doesn’t it and….”

“So it’s yellow, so what,” Mum says.  “I’ve lost the noodles.  I found them and now they’ve disappeared again and…”

“What do they look like?” I say.  “Let me have a look.”

Looking in the cupboard, I see a plastic box.  “Maybe they’re in here,” I say.  And they are.

In the end, I put some mint syrup in the cocktail, so it’s still bitter but also now it’s green.  A Green Lady:


Happy Tuesday everyone!
*1952.  By ‘Dail Ambler’: pseudonym of Betty Mabel Lilian Williams.  A Danny Spade mystery.  Hard-boiled detective fiction.

I Wake Up Screaming*

Wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of a beaver chomping through the skirting board.  It goes on and on.  This happens every night.

“It’s the sound of the water in the pipes,” Dad says.

Dad is reading in his chair.  Mum is out playing bridge.  The fluffy monster is in the house somewhere.

Outside, Bogdan is repointing the walls.  He’s attempting to keep the rain out.  The poor chap will be here, up a ladder outside, for the rest of his life.  He’s been here for two weeks already.  He must be wondering what he’s done to deserve such cruel and unusual punishment: the parental home is made of sloping glass windows.  It leaks everywhere.

On the plus side:

1.  Cycle to the village and back with Dad.  It’s the longest ride we’ve managed since the operation, so that’s something.

2.  Spin class excellent this morning.  Although burst into tears when Pray by Take That starts up.

3.  My new chum from the class comes round for coffee.  Which is nice.

4.  Wash both pairs of cycling shorts, the padded-bottomed ones and the fat-burning ones.  They are drying on the towel rail.

5.  Enjoy The Omelette for lunch.  This one is goat’s cheese, courgette, leek, garlic and pea.  It’s resting on a bed of salad and wholemeal bagel:

6.  Put a page up on my old blog redirecting people here.

7.  It’s 4.46pm and it’s not yet dark.

8.  Seb’s Mum is meeting a possible new puppy today or at least very soon.  Fingers crossed they like each other.  Puppy!

“I’m not going to get excited until I know when I’m meeting him myself,” Seb says.

Am allowed to be excited already If I Want To though.  Actual new puppy person.  Can’t wait!

9.  There will be supper at some point, if can just stay alive till then.

10.  Have recorded today’s tennis to watch with Mum on her return.  Hope this happens soon.  Am very sleepy, but am staying awake as parentals both going out tonight, so can go to bed straight after supper if I want to.

11.  Today’s cocktail is a variation on the Pimms Pony: Pimms and gin.  My one also has Grand Marnier, angostura bitters, ginger cordial and dinosaurs:

Happy Monday everyone!
*1941.  By Steve Fisher.  The story of a brutal murder in Hollywood.

The Princeton Murders*

There is a new David Attenborough programme at 6.30pm about the world’s largest dinosaur, who has just been discovered.  So this is just a quick blog to let you know that:

1.  The Princeton cocktail, comprising gin, port, angostura bitters and an orange slice, is well worth a try.  Look:

Was a bit distracted whilst making it and ended up putting wine into the gin, then realising my mistake and adding port.  So it’s not perfect.  It’s meant to be 2 ounces of gin and 3/4 ounce of port.  In fact the gin and port are mixed with wine.

It still looks and tastes wonderful and is a stunning ruby port colour.  The dinosaurs like it, as you can see.

2.  A bit of the scar on my right side may be infected.  Fingers crossed that it isn’t.

3.  Have been out with Mum and have purchased bright-coloured Spring clothes.

“It’s good to see some colours,” I say to Mum as we wander around John Lewis, looking for a coral top to match my new striped cardigan.

“Yes, I love that green,” Mum says, pointing at a bright green sweater.

Find the coral vest top, so can now wear my new cardigan.  The other stripes  are gold, lime green, turquoise and pale orange.

4.  The new giant dinosaur is a huge sauropod.  They call it a titanosaur. The fluffy monster is not amused and is sleeping through the programme:

It’s not his fault. He’s a two year old cat.  He doesn’t understand about age and time and…look at David Attenborough being ninety years old, and as vigorous and enthusiastic as ever.

We can see fossilised baby titanosaur skin for the first time, as it’s very dry in Patagonia.  The babies are tiny compared with the four-times-longer-than-a-London-bus parent.  The babies are smaller than a domestic cat.

5.  “Good work,” my new spin instructor says to me today, for the First Time!  So that’s good.  Am improving, getting the hang of it and so on.  Here I am this morning:

6.  We have tracked down the Australian Open highlights.  They are on from 1pm to 2pm.  So that’s something.

The attached photo is the world’s most amazing fluffy monster earlier today.

Happy Sunday everyone!
*2003.  By Ann Waldron. The first Professor McLeod Delaney detective novel: “At Princeton, English professors are being targeted by an intellectual with a grudge.”

Live Free Or Die*

The parentals have gone out so am watching Breaking Bad with the fluffy monster:

Love these things about it:

1.  The portrayal of terminal cancer: Walt doesn’t let his diagnosis stop him setting up a meth lab; shooting people; getting out and about; living his life.  Admittedly, at one point he’s suddenly better but never mind.  The programme says he’s “in remission” without knowing what this means I reckon.  Anyway,  he’s still brave and inspirational.

2.  The portrayal of disability: Walt’s sixteen year old son Walt Junior has cerebral palsy and is played by a disabled actor.  He’s a gorgeous person with a sense of humour and a real personality and character.  He’s wonderful.  He’s not just a token-disabled-character/actor.

Also, Mr Salamanca is in a wheelchair in a nursing home, can’t breathe or speak, is about seventy or so.  If not older.  He’s a very powerful and frightening person.  It’s not often one sees the elderly and crippled being scary drug dealers.

3.  The portrayal of chemistry teachers:  My Mum is a chemistry teacher.  It is not seen as a glamorous, exciting profession of hardcore murderous drug producers.  And yet Walt, the chemistry teacher, becomes a violent and frightening meth-cook.  He thinks nothing of killing people, hurling himself through plate-glass doors and so on.

4.  The portrayal of the student/ teacher relationship between Walt and Jesse is great.  Jesse calls his ex-teacher Walt “Mr White”.  Walt teaches Jesse how to cook meth.  But it’s so much more than this…

5.  The writing is so tight and funny.

6.  It’s just excellent.  Obviously the subject matter is not-my-sort-of-thing: poverty, drug-dealers, dirty houses.  There’s no aristocrats.  No-one has any attractive pets.  Everyone has bad clothes: Jesse’s sequin-covered t-shirt and black plastic jacket in Season Four deserve a special mention.  And yet it’s completely gripping.  Have sent parentals out so can get my fix of it…

7.  Hank: Walt’s brother in law is a tough police officer.  He’s an American Rebus, if Rebus was happily married and a bit chubby.  Love him.  And his relationship with his crazy kleptomaniac wife, Marie.  They’re adorable.

8.  The scenery: every so often we go out into the desert and that’s beautiful.  

9.  The science: almost want Mum to have a meth lab.  It looks So Much Fun: all the huge barrels and all the equipment.

10.  The unglamorous drug: watching this is not like watching The Doors or Mad Men or Almost Famous.  It’s not like reading The Man With The Twisted Lip or Less Than Zero or Prozac Nation.  One doesn’t want to be taking the drug.  Meth sounds horrible and its users look skanky, unwashed and poor.  It makes you twitchy, violent and ugly.  The users are covered in tattoos and sores and their houses are full of broken bottles, dead people and mouldy food.  If there’s one thing one doesn’t want to do whilst watching this, it’s go out and score some meth.  Which must be a good thing.

11.  The attention to detail: Jesse’s speech patterns for example.  Bogdan’s eyebrows.  Saul’s…everything.  Saul is absolute perfection.

Here’s today’s new outfit from my Spin studio.

Apparently that’s the New York skyline on my trousers.  They’re by Onzie, as is the blue top that can just be seen poking out under my sweater.

Here’s today’s cocktail:

It’s gin, Grand Marnier, grenadine, lemon juice, orange juice.  And accessorised with dinosaurs…

Must check on my artichoke (yay)!

The attached photo is a blue cheese called Blue Murder which purchased from the farm shop.

Happy Saturday everyone!

*2012.  Series 5 Episode 1 of Breaking Bad.  Created and written by Vince Gilligan.  Starring Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn and Dean Norris.

Breathing Room*

“Hey, how are you?” The pretty radiologist says when I arrive at the cancer centre with Mum this morning.  Remember this one from two years ago: she’s beautiful – long dark shiny hair.

“Well, you know,” I say.  “Not brilliant or I wouldn’t be coming back for more radiotherapy.  Obviously I’ve just had my other boob lopped off and everything, but not too bad.”

“She’s got secondary breast cancer now,” Mum says, looking mournful.
“Oh, on the plus side: the fluffy monster has grown up,” I say.  Last time I was here he was a six month old kitten.  “Show you.”

So I show her this photo:

“Wow,” she says.  “He’s amazing.”

“He is,” I say.

Last time she saw him, he looked like this:

“So, let’s get you started,” she says, leading us into the room.

“Oh, I remember this,” I say, as I see the machine.  Fear grips me.  It’s uncomfortable in there, as you can see:

“The difference is,” she says, settling us down.  “On your left side – you need to hold your breath for thirty seconds at a time: to keep the radiation away from your heart.  Can you?”

Looking at Mum, I say: “Um…used to be able to swim a length under water.  But I’ve sustained a lot of damage to my lungs since then and…”

“Let’s try, shall we,” the radiologist says.  “So, I’m going to put a clip on your nose and a tube in your mouth and it will be like using a snorkel.  Is that OK?”

“I expect so,” I say, lying in the machine.

It’s tough, trying to hold one’s breath for thirty seconds with a peg on the nose.  Keep trying and don’t get further than a few seconds.

“It’s OK if you can’t do it darling,” Mum says.  “It’s not an academic test or…”

“What’s the benefit of this, as opposed to the other method?” I say.  “I mean: if I just can’t or…”

“With this tube and the machine, we can get better coverage,” the radiologist says.  “It’s more exact. It’s better for us and…”

“And what percentage of people can do it?” I say.

“Most people,” she says.  “But that’s when it’s not secondary cancer.  If you can’t manage the tube, we just put a lead barrier in a part of the machine.”

“And I mean,” I say, feeling defeated, “what’s the risk of heart damage?”

“About one in every hundred patients will experience heart damage, in about thirty years time,” she says.

Sitting up, I laugh.  “I’m not going to be here in thirty years,” I say.  “Look: I can hold a plank for two minutes, I’m just going to make myself do this or…”

“Wow,” she says.  “That’s amazing.  Two minutes?”

“Yeah, well, I have done,” I say, thinking that it’s been a while.

Eventually, I achieve holding-my-breath-for-thirty-seconds.  Excellent.

Today’s cocktail is a Plymouth Sidecar: Plymouth gin, Cointreau and lemon juice.  There’s a bit of Grand Marnier in there too as ran out of Cointreau.

“Just need some dinosaurs for my cocktail photo,” I say to Mum.

“Why does it have to have them?” Mum says, even though she’s a palaeontologist.

“It just does,” I say.  It’s the dinosaurs that make or break the cocktail photos.  Am excited that in this one the bead tyrannosaurus is climbing into the drink: a La Brea gin pit, if you will.

Attached photo is my Space Oddity outfit.  Am sure it’s the best clothing that the radiotherapy centre has ever seen…

Had better get going: there are People coming for dinner and need to help Mum.
Happy Friday everyone!
*2008.  Horror film written and directed by John Suits and Gabriel Cowan.

Those In Peril*


It’s a portobello mushroom burger with goat’s cheese and salad.

Alfonso cocktail is in the attached photo: gin, Grand Marnier, angostura bitters, Italian vermouth.

Mr Fluffypants is feeling better today:  

There he is with his dad.  That furry human arm is not mine.

Radiotherapy planning tomorrow but before that there is CT scan.  Must go to bed now so am fresh for the tortures that they will be meting out to me.  Radiotherapy is my worst treatment.  On the plus side: the fluffy monster is here and can claim my orange cuddles.

Happy Thursday everyone!
*2011.  By Wilbur Smith.  Novel about Somali pirates.

Sick City*

Mr Fluffypants retches.  He’s trying to be sick but it’s not happening.  Coughing, he produces gutteral sounds.  Poor Fluffy.

Then, at last, something comes out.  There’s grass in there.  Then he walks across the carpet, produces another bit of sick, then collapses.

“What’s wrong darling?” I say, stroking his head.  His mum has just left the flat, ten minutes ago.

Putting “how to get dog sick out of the carpet” into Google, it throws up a recipe for carpet cleaner: boil water, salt, white vinegar and rubbing alcohol.  Don’t have the alcohol, but have all the other ingredients.

Wiping the carpet with the solution, it seems to get some of the stain out.  Pouring baking soda over the wet patch to soak up moisture and stop odours, I place kitchen roll over the area.

Putting “is baking soda toxic to dogs” into Google, I discover that “if ingested in large quantities it will cause muscle spasms, heart failure and death.”

My own heart pounding, I get Mr Fluffypants up onto the sofa, away from the stained area.  

“Please don’t die, my darling,” I say, stroking him.  He rests his face on my feet.  It’s amazing how much I love this person, I think.

It says to leave the baking soda on the stain for two hours, but don’t want to – due to the risk of death to the pet.  So after an hour or so I vacuum it up.  The carpet doesn’t look too bad: although now there’s a patch which is both cleaner than the rest, and also stained.

He’s been sick again: bright yellow this time:

Don’t think there’s much chance of getting that out of the carpet.

“Oh, that’s just bile,” MadFatRunner says when I send her the picture that you can see above.  “Foamy yellow just means empty tummy, it’s nothing sinister in itself.”

He’s resting next to me on the sofa, head on his front paws. 

He’s so brave: I’d be making such a fuss if I’d been sick.  Darling Mr Fluffypants.  We’re watching Bloodline.  It’s good, I think, but not very cheerful.

Am so impressed with self for making carpet cleaner though.  Fingers crossed that he’ll feel better soon.  You can see us in the attached photo.

Happy Wednesday everyone!
*2010.  By Tony O’Neill.  Novel set in LA about Hollywood’s underbelly…