Pilates is tough this morning but I enjoy it and it energises me for the day.

We go to some parental friends for an amazing Ottolenghi-based lunch. We sit outside in their gazebo. Sunny 🌞 when we arrive: when we sit down to lunch it rains and rains and rains. Eventually even Mum agrees that we must go inside for pudding.

Meditate 🧘‍♀️ and sleep. Then watch Belinda Bencic vs Marketa Vondrousova: the Ladies’ Doubles Final – the Gold Medal match. Bencic wins the first set but then Vondrousova comes roaring back. I’ve just checked and Belinda won the match. Great effort by her: it seems very close, the bit I watch.

We even acquire a going home present from lunch:

A home-grown red cabbage.

We will eat him tomorrow.

Am sitting up in bed with my special cushion. Fluffball is under my dressing table. Feel so much more comfortable and relaxed now that he’s here with me.

The panther doesn’t like Fluffball and keeps some distance from him: sitting on the windowsill, gazing out.

“You looked ridiculous in that outfit at lunchtime,” the panther says, turning around to gaze at me with dust on his face. “I don’t know how you can go out dressed like that: especially when you’re so fat.”

“I’m not”, I say. But there’s no point in trying to reason with him: he won’t listen. He’s already turned his head away and is staring out of the window. I can feel the tears tumbling down my face.

Now just Tarot Card For The Day and then I can go to sleep.

Happy Saturday everyone!

*2018. By Yotam Ottolenghi. Cookbook.

Granny Hooks A Crook*

Look at this beautiful fuchsia, sitting on the table just outside my window.

There aren’t enough of us to do Pilates today, so my teacher sends a recording of Monday’s class.

“You can’t do it,” says the panther. “You’re too weak and pathetic to do it on your own, when you should be thinking about your imminent death and crying.”

“I can do it,” I say.

He turns away from me and starts cleaning his shoulder, rasping it with his rough tongue.

He’s right though: I don’t do it. But, in the first four days of the week I’ve achieved: Monday – Strength, Tuesday – Pilates, Wednesday- Strength and Thursday – Personal Training.

It’s OK to miss a day, I deserve a rest. The problem is that I really need exercise to lift my mood. The panther knows that, and that’s why he doesn’t want me to exercise.

We drive up to the farm to attend the greengrocers. I sit in the car as it’s raining. It rains on and off all day. Outside it’s as cold 🥶 and miserable as I feel.

Have lunch and meditate but can’t sleep. Get up and watch some Olympic tennis with Mum: the semifinal of the Mixed Doubles. Ash Barty and John Peers are defeated by the Russian pair and it’s so close: coming down to two points in the ten point tiebreak. We are upset as we want Ash and John to win. Tennis is such a cruel sport.

On the plus side: my agent sends the possible covers for my Memoir and I choose one and I love it.

Probably because he’s sick of us, having been stuck in the house all day – my fluffy nurse has shut himself in my parental wardrobe. I miss him but I’m going to have to sleep on my own.

Right: Tarot Card of the Day and then sleep.

Happy Friday everyone!??

*2013. By Julie Seedorf. A Fuchsia, Minnesota mystery, Book 1.

You Will Know Me*

Early start again today as it’s the new Strength class from nine o’clock till half past nine. I work hard at it and do well: I love lifting weights.

Watch the Individual Freestyle Final of the Dressage, which is amazing. Then go to Burston’s garden centre with Mum and we buy two tall purple veronicas to go at the back of the rockery, where the colour scheme is pink and purple. The panther walks close beside me, making my steps heavy. I’m even more exhausted now that he’s here.

Watch the finish of the Dressage. Charlotte Dujardin wins a bronze medal on her new horse, so that’s good. Have lunch, meditate and sleep.

When I wake up, have my snack and watch the Men’s Individual Gymnastics 🤸‍♀️ final which I love: particularly the Rings and the Pommel Horse.

Fluffball comes in and we give him supper and now he’s in my room with me, under my dressing table.

I’ve changed my mind about the Olympics. Before it started, I thought it was irresponsible for the IOC to run it and risk all the athletes giving each other different strains of COVID-19. But now it’s happening I love it as always and it’s taking my mind off Everything Else.

Fluffball on my bed a few minutes ago.

Happy Wednesday everyone!

*2016. By Megan Abbott. Murder mystery novel set in a close-knit gymnastics community.

Death By Dressage*

Wake up and start watching the Dressage. Oh how I love this dancing fusion of human and horse.

Then it’s Pilates. “You can’t do this,” the panther says. “You’re getting this all wrong.”

I can’t disagree with him. Just my 2.5kg weights feel like 10kg ones. Have to keep going although, as always whilst the panther is here, I’ve lost all my strength and I need to stop and rest and cry 😢 often during the class. The sheer weight of my despair makes me cry.

After the class I tell my teacher that the panther is here and he tells me that I can’t do anything and makes me cry. She replies that I did fine. I’m glad I told her: it makes me feel better that she knows – less alone with the panther.

We continue watching the Dressage before, during and just after lunch. It is amazing that a person can make a horse do flying changes, a piaffe and pirouettes and the horses are so shiny and beautiful, with long tails swishing. I am transported to a better place whilst watching it, and look forward to the Individual Free Style.

Meditate 🧘‍♀️ and sleep 😴. Whe I wake up we finish watching the Dressage: including our best rider Charlotte Dujardin and her new horse who is chestnut. Most of the horses are black. Team GB bring home the bronze medal, which is brilliant.

It starts raining and Mum calls Fluffball in. He has an early supper and is now under my dressing table. Before he was cleaning his face on my bed (see above photo).

I just need to write up my Tarot Card of the Day and then I can return to sleep.

Happy Tuesday everyone!

*1993. She rides, he doesn’t mystery series – Book 1. Stars Robin Vaughan.

Leave It To Psmith*

Last night, Fluffball stays with me till midnight. He goes out at nine o’clock to instruct Mum to bring me my pills, as usual. Then he comes back and returns to sleep on top of me. Mum says he doesn’t come in to see her till midnight. He works So Hard at looking after me: my precious angel.

Mum wakes me up this morning as I have a new class run by my Pilates teacher. It’s at nine o’clock on Mondays and Wednesdays and is called Strength. Somewhat unsurprisingly, it involves lifting weights. I love it and hope that there are enough people to keep it going as if it runs, I’ll have a class on Wednesdays again (at the moment, my trainer is teaching two classes on Wednesday mornings at a studio to which I can’t go, due to risk of coronavirus.

Go for a walk round the garden with Mum. Our gardener has planted roses around the new arch, look:

The achillea is in bloom:

And the gladioli:

Speak to psychiatrist at noon and he is pleased with me for keeping going despite the presence of the panther.

Have lunch, meditate 🧘‍♀️ and sleep. Wake up and have my snack in the garden. Finish Service With A Smile. Am about to start Leave It To Psmith.

Fluffball is under my chair, sleeping. I’m exhausted from waking up early this morning. Am just going to post this, then do my Tarot Card For The Day and then sleep.

Happy Monday everyone!

*1923. By PG Wodehouse. Comic novel in the Blandings Castle series.

The Testament*

Mum wakes me up this morning and then I have breakfast. The panther is all curled up at the bottom of my bed but breaks off his grooming routine to look at me.

“You look awful,” he says, “with no hair.

“But I have wigs,” I say.

“That’s a relief,” he says. “Don’t want to frighten the horses do we?”

“My hair will grow back,” I say. “And anyway…”

“It’s your horrible personality that drives people away from you,” he says.

“Oh just shut up won’t you!” I say.

“Now I’m back, there’s no way I will ever stop enumerating your inadequacies,” he says, turning his head so he can rasp his back with his sandpaper tongue.

I’m exhausted already by my conservation with the panther. I want to go to sleep for a very long time: however long I sleep for, it doesn’t seem enough.

Speak to two of the Sunday chat crew. It’s good to hear their voices.

Go for a drive with Mum to Shenley, past Sopwell and then return through St Albans. It does me some good to leave the house I think.

Meditate 🧘‍♀️ and sleep. Wake up and try to find some Olympics to watch. It’s all on Eurosport and we start watching the Dressage but the transmission keeps going off, which is frustrating.

Instead, watch a David Attenborough programme about the Pantanal: giant anteaters, giant armadillos and even a tapir.

Now I’m in my room with the Fluffball under my dressing table.

Happy Sunday everyone!

*1991. By John Grisham. Thriller set in the Pantanal.

Service With A Smile*

Wake up this morning after another good long sleep. Have breakfast and then at quarter to eleven it’s Pilates. Tough class today but work hard and teacher is pleased with me.

Continue reading Service With A Snile which is brilliant and hilarious. Mum helps me with my bath 🛁. This is a break from my usual bath time which is just before supper.

The weather isn’t nearly as hot today as it has been. It’s twenty two degrees and we sit in the garden for lunch.

Have lunch, meditate and sleep. Watch Cold Comfort Farm which is wonderful. Try and get hold of it if you can or, even better, read the book by Stella Gibbons.

Mum catches Fluffball in and he’s had his supper and is now outstretched across the whole width of my bed. I’m going to have to stretch my legs around him somehow when I need to sleep.

The panther sits on my windowsill: swishing his tail. I think he sees the Fluffball as a threat, which is silly as he’s about six hundred times bigger than the fluffy.

Golden Wedding rose
A runner bean
Two more runner beans

Fluffball is now in his favourite spot: curled up under my dressing table. It’s quarter to seven and I’m So Tired. Just need to post this and pull my Tarot card for the day.

Happy Saturday everyone!

*1962. By PG Wodehouse. A Blandings Castle comic novel.

The Story Of Ferdinand*

Munro Leaf’s enchanting story about a bull who would prefer to sit and smell the flowers than fight in the bullring was first published in the United States of America in 1936. The book became an instant bestseller and has never been out of print since. The story has been translated into over sixty languages and is now regarded as a classic throughout the world. Robert Lawson’s bold and witty illustrations beautifully depict the city of Ronda in Andalusia, Spain home to the oldest bullfighting ring in Spain.

This book was a childhood favourite of Mum’s as her father, my grandfather used to read it to her in – I realise now – an American edition, since the book wasn’t published here in the UK until 2017. It became a firm favourite of mine and my brother’s.

Talking about Ferdinand yesterday, we couldn’t remember what happened to our copy. Such is the magic of Amazon, it arrives today. Read it, and it’s still wonderful. A heartwarming read for people of any age, recommend buying it for children and grandchildren.

Wake up, and the panther is lying next to me with his head on my shoulder. He opens one amber eye.

“It’s too early to be awake,” he says.

“I have to be up now in time to have my breakfast for Pilates.” I say.

“There’s no point in you doing Pilates” the panther says. “You’re so fat that it disgusts me and you never get any better at it and…”

“Shut up!” I say. “I am getting better at it and anyway I love it.”

He turns his face away from me in disgust.

In the end: it’s just my teacher and me – people are so flaky in the hot weather. We do half an hour of Pilates then and I definitely feel better afterwards. Ah! The restorative power of Pilates!

We go to the cancer hospital for my blood test for this new treatment. Apparently, it will only work if my cancer has a specific mutation. So fingers crossed 🤞 that I do and can have this treatment. Thoughts and prayers welcome at this time. Won’t hear about the treatment until a few weeks have passed.

Come home, meditate 🧘‍♀️ and sleep. Finish Full Moon and start Service With A Smile. Order the books I’m missing from the Blandings Castle series.

We start watching Cold Comfort Farm which I love. Can only manage twenty five minutes as am so tired.

Sit with Fluffball whilst he eats his supper and now he’s under my dressing table. Just Tarot Card of the Day today and then it’s my pre-sleep-sleep.

Happy Friday everyone!

*1936. By Munro Leaf. Illustrated by Robert Lawson.

This Lie Will Kill You*

Alexandre Girault

I wake up this morning and there is a heavy weight on my chest. Opening my eyes: I see that the panther is lying on top of me.

“Go away,” I tell him. You’re not meant to be here.”

“I’m here,” he says. “I decided it was time to return, now that you’re attempting to write another book. No one will read it and,”

“I don’t want to hear this,” I say. “People will read it.”

“I assure you they won’t, he says, lying on the bed next to me now: licking his bottom. “And what about that idiotic Astrology course you’re doing. You’re bound to fail it. You’re sleeping through most of it.” He fixes me with his amber eyes.

“I’m just doing it for my own interest,” I say, turning my face away from his gaze. “Anyway, you’re not meant to be here so…”

“I have to be here,” he says, resting his heavy head on my legs. “You must’ve known I’d be back sometime.”

And of course I did know. The panther always comes back. And his presence makes things just unmanageable enough that I can’t cope with my thoughts. Everything is a struggle.

Do Personal Training at half past ten. Work hard and teacher is pleased with me.

Realise that I haven’t had a proper cuddle with Fluffball for a while. When we catch him in, he needs to take a pill so I hold him and he feels so soft. He’s such a precious angel and I love him so much.

It’s almost time for my pre-sleep-sleep and Fluffball is sitting on my windowsill:

Am so grateful for the love of my pet. Just going to post my Tarot Card of the Day and then sleep. It’s another hot 🥵 day: twenty eight degrees – so I sit outside earlier reading Full Moon in the shade of the front garden.

Happy Thursday everyone!

*2018. By Chelsea Pitcher. Thriller.

Elephants Can Remember*

Katie from the synagogue visits me and it’s good to see her.

Then we set off for Whipsnade to see the animals.

We do the Drive Through Asia and see the different herds of deer: some in water to stay cool.

We see a mother rhino 🦏 with last year’s baby.

And the white rhino:

Can’t get any good tiger photos as they are asleep in a wooded area and are too well-camouflaged.

We have our picnic 🧺 overlooking the downs which is lovely:

Then we see the elephants 🐘, blowing dust and water over themselves in an effort to keep cool. It’s a couple of degrees cooler at Whipsnade than here, but it’s still 25.5 degrees 🥵:

We start looking for the Red Pandas but give up as it’s too hot to be traipsing around.

It really is a lovely day out: I commend it.

Come home, meditate and sleep until Mum wakes me up for supper at five o’clock.

My psychiatrist calls me back. Earlier in the day I left him a message that my mood has dropped and should I put up the dose of my antidepressant and he agrees that I should.

It’s Flying Ant Day. Here they are before:

Most of them seem to get eaten by the starlings.

Now I’m in my bedroom with my Fluffball. He is sleeping on my windowsill:

He jumps down from my windowsill and is now under my dressing table. It’s probably hot for him too as he’s covered in thick fluff.

Right: had better post this and then do my Tarot Card of the Day and then can go back to sleep.

Happy Wednesday everyone!

*1972. By Agatha Christie. The fortieth Hercule Poirot mystery.