London, the city that keeps me alive more ways than one

My first memory of London; I am 11 years of age and in London with my Mum and Dad, we are passing a lamppost with ER printed on. Dad says “Biscuits look at that Elizabeth Reigns, you work hard sweetheart and you can be a boss too” My folks always gave me the encouragement and love needed to go forward in life. They helped me feel safe and secure. In 2012 I took the train with my hubby to London, this time not for a holiday but to see the expert Professor Caplin at The Royal Free. Despite needing diagnostic tests and treatment for incurable stage 4 neuroendocrine cancer and carcinoid syndrome Steve and I found time to explore new avenues. See museums, art galleries, The Tower, take in a show. One thing I am most certain of London, the city that keeps me alive more ways than one is my most favourite city.

Since 2012 I have been and continue to travel up and down the train tracks between Edinburgh and London. Had countless appointments with the Prof, attending clinics, grateful for but not particularly enjoying gallium pet scans, various treatments, glowing like the Readybrek kid, setting of alarms here there and everywhere, and many many blood samples on ice and some taken in special light conditions and immediately put in a Black bag. So tired that when I escape from the delightful cancer team we go to the West End show – We Will Rock You. A musical I have wanted to see for some time, the first half I sit, smile and sing along, the second I sleep right through, with the audience loving the show, singing at the top of their voices. The staff at the UCL Hospital and The Royal Free in London have been outstanding and for that I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

The last year we have had a year of corona, crisis and challenges. But let us not forget that the breakthrough of the vaccine has allowed us to start to come out of lockdown and find some sort of normality, try our best to get back to work, start socialising and enjoy life.

Steve and I in London with the Fatboy

July 2021 we decided not to go to London tandem but to go with my sister Hazel and her husband Alan. The boys rode the Harley-Davidson® motorcycles down and Hazel and I took the train first class from Edinburgh to London Kings Cross. I have always wanted to ride pillion over Tower Bridge. As well as having a fabulous 4 days Finally got my wish. Riding over Tower Bridge was as good as I expected, it was very busy, both lanes used, cyclists going as fast as us. Beautiful red double deckers travelling along with smiling faces looking over the Thames. Black cabs going no where fast. All of us sitting in the two lanes travelling along at 10 miles per hour, superb for me as a pillion taking in the view, people watching, loving the sights. Gathering my thoughts.

We crammed in what we wanted to do, Steve and I have done lots before including The Tower, The British Museum, various parks and lots more. This trip was to be relaxing, however there were a few places we wanted to tick the boxes. Namely Ace Cafe, The Bike Shed and Warrs Harley-Davidson®

Alan and Hazel

very popular arrival at Ace Cafe

Inside Ace Cafe

A selfie at Ace Cafe

Friday morning we gathered our bearings had a doddle around on foot, enjoyed some squares such as Russell and Tavistock Square, walked through St James’s Park, had lunch at The Hard Rock Cafe, Picaddily Circus, saw some of the sights on foot and then took a taxi back to the hotel looking forward to Friday night on the bikes.

We teamed up with our Sena Communication kits and rode the Harley’s up to Ace Cafe on Friday night. Friday night is bike night. Oh boy what a fabulous evening it was. There were car park Marshalls when we arrived, 20 minutes later I could see why. The entire car park was full of bikes. I’ve got to say anyone we spoke to was so welcoming and friendly. We first off hooked up with 4 young lads with Harleys. They don’t belong any Chapter, just friends riding their bikes. Went into the cafe for a cola and a scout around the shop. Came out and if possible it was busier than before. A familiar Harley fist bump came my way from Gerry; a member of The III Rivers Chapter, there were two members together, they welcomed us into their abode; great guys. Looking out onto the road there were motorcyclists doing wheelies up and down the road, burning tyres. Revving their engines, screaming up and down. So loud, vibrant and exciting. Gosh it makes a girl’s heart fair beat. One of the highlights of the evening was the calm Great Dane in the sidecar, sitting watching all going on taking in everything. What an unforgettable night.

Saturday we took the bikes for a tour of London, did what I’ve always wanted and rode over Tower Bridge, drove through Marble Arch, passed St James Park, Covent Garden. We followed our Harley-Davidson® noses to London’s Dealership Warrs. The Dealership is fabulous, as well as great bikes, superb range of accessories and clothing, they have a museum including Evel Kineval’s bike. Not to mention their very helpful outstanding staff; Holly and Edwardo. They sponsor the HOG Chapter Chelsea and Fulham. We met a lovely Chelsea and Fulham Chapter member at Warrs : Steve. He came with us for a tourist ride round London. Then the five of us went to the amazing Bike Shed, terrific experience from start to finish. As we arrived we were shown where to park, the great think is you can ride the bikes right in and ride passed tables as folks have a drink. Undercover safe parking, so secure you can leave your helmet on the seat of your bike. The staff warmly greeted us, we were an hour early, she asked if we could be fitted in would be like an earlier table – hell yes! We toddled the dozen steps to the shop, treated ourselves to a t shirt and some patches for our cuts, had a good look round, amazing bikes. There is a barber shop too.
Our table was ready and the food did not disappoint.

As always I enjoyed my time in the big city. Our final evening after packing and getting organised we ventured round to quiet Bloomsbury for a cocktail.

Steve, Hazel and Alan at London Eye

Steve and I in St James’s Park

Warrs

Fist Bump

Element of Trust

From as long as I can remember my parents encouraged me to listen to others and always speak up to others and tell the truth no matter what has gone on. I have always taken this with me, passed this on to my children; said to them whatever has happened just tell me and we will deal with it. This has I believe gave us a trustworthy bond between parent and child no matter what their age. My lads are in their 30’s and we still talk, I trust them and they trust me. Growing up I knew I could go to my parents and talk to them about anything and everything, I always knew whatever I said to my Mum or Dad it would go no further. They were full of fabulous advice, helped me transform from teenager to adult. Who do I talk to now? I chat to a couple of friends about everything and anything, one in particular we know we can discuss ‘our laundry’ with each other. However, my ultimate bounce off and discussion partner is my hubby Steve, we are partners in life, super friends, chat about all and sundry and most importantly there is that Element of Trust

Steve and Me

So what is trust? I believe it is when someone can be relied on. Their honesty and integrity shines through. If I trust someone it means I believe they are who they say they are and they will always do what they say they will do. Most importantly what comes out of their mouth or from their written hand is the truth. They will not lie to me.

I pride myself in having a fabulous circle of friends, a beautiful family and most certainly a very close knit few that I value and trust with my life. Recently I have been disappointed with acquaintances. When I got told a lie from someone I actually never thought I would. That kick in the shins fairly knocked the stuffing out of me for several reasons………

There have been people in my life recently that have been irritable, non trustworthy, tit tattling to other people. These reprobates aren’t worth worrying about.

Building up trust: has not always made me popular but I’m a believer in say what you mean and mean what you say. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Remember the role of respect.

I have counted my blessings. Enjoyed being with friends and family. And relished that special time with my most loyal trustworthy labradors, Buddy and Bella; now they could teach a few humans a thing or two.

Buddy & Bella walk with steve
Bella & Buddy help steve

So for me, trust is important, especially in building up relationships. For those who know me, I’m a very happy honest human who enjoys life. Every day is precious and I am continuing to enjoy life with my beautiful family. On Saturday Steve took time from his busy business we spent a precious day together, Steve did a wonderful job gardening, Bella watching every step. Sunday we both took an amazing trip on Fattie our Harley-Davidson® to Moffat, St Mary’s Loch and Peebles with some friends. Sunday; beautiful scenery, lovely weather and great friends; a fabulous recipe for an amazing day out. Just the tonic to end the week.

Pick up the phone – Its good to talk

Well one month into 2021 already. Its just turned February. For some its a dark month and many folks find it a lonely difficult time, with thoughts and reflections going through our minds. This year we are still in restrictions, a great deal of people have jumped from one personal crisis to another. There has been so many difficult situations for our fellow human bean to cope with over the last year; we have been tested in more ways than one. I have known a fair number of family and friends who have over the last year fought life threatening coronavirus. During this pandemic many people have faced fear, anxiety, poverty, hardship, social isolation, unemployment, etc.  Now is the time to take notice of who has been helping who, and most importantly does anyone need help. Remember when we used to pop in for a quick chat, or go out for that drink, meet up at lunch time, or a run on the bikes. That person is possibly lonely a missing seeing everyone and could do with a jolly good chat. Do yourself a favour and as the scout or girl guide leader would say do your good deed for the day; Pick up the phone – its good to talk

I think we can all agree that this has been an unusual year.  It has been a difficult time for everyone at some time and we have all be faced some sort of challenge and uncertainty.  I don’t think anyone thought we would still be facing these kind of restrictions in 2021.  Covid-19 has dominated our lives and health.   The NHS and the care staff have taken good care of us since the start. They are dedicated and like true troopers put patients before themselves, work long hours; doing their best to make us feel as comfortable and secure in these strange and difficult circumstances.

From my personal experience my team of medics all the way through this pandemic have been ultimate superstars. My net specialist emails in between appointments to check up on me, make sure how I am doing. My nurses come in to my home changing my dressings, changing the water in my gastrostomy tube weekly, administer my octreotide treatment at home fortnightly, change my entire gastrostomy tube every 8 weeks (however due to problems such as infections, burst balloons, etc its been happening after 5 weeks, 1 week, 3 weeks). My nurses will also come to my home if I have any problems. They are wonderful; my net specialist telephoned me last week when he was on the phone he commended the nurses and said the work they did and how well they looked after me, helping keep the amount of infections down and most certainly assisted in keeping me out of the hospital. The amazing supportive Community Enteral Nutrition Team (CENT) call me regularly. Usually Kat or Marion visit me every two months. They weigh me, check on my peg feed and we discuss how my feeding regime is going. We talk about my quality of life, what is going on with my appointments, my body and everything thats going on in my life. They are very supportive and always at the end of a phone. I can pick up the phone and give them a call any day, if they can’t pick it up and talk to me when I call. Their secretary June will answer, take a message and one of them will call me back, chat with me and sort out any problem that may be going on. They report to my dedicated Net specialist (The Prof), my hard working GI consultant, who works hand in hand with the Prof, and my GP. Letting them know if anything needs changed, such as my frequency of feed, etc. Remember my GI consultant, he is the chap who did the creative drawing when he kindly saw me bang in the middle of covid restrictions and did a wee procedure when my gastrostomy tube fell further into my intestines than it should have. He has to have sense he has labradors.

For some people this will have been a long and lonely year. For others it will have gone quickly and nothing much will have changed other than the physical restrictions, such as supermarkets, going from one district to another, closure of shops, establishments, etc. This time last year I was looking forward to going to Dunedin Chapter’s AGM meeting and annual dance; this is the Harley-Davidson® club that my husband and I belong to. The AGM was actually the last meeting we all got together for an official meeting. Now that the vaccine is getting rolled out, you never know…………. I miss the blether, the friendships, get togethers. However, right now its for our own good, and we have to wait until the appropriate time. A while longer to make sure we are safe is better in the long run. So in the meantime be content with sharing a conversation on social media or a text, email and most definitely a natter on the phone. When director of Dunedin Chapter Scotland HOG® #9083, Stewart Willox phones me and says I won’t keep you Elizabeth, and we are still blethering 20 minutes later. I’m sure the poor chap’s ears are bleeding.

I have been very fortunate over the last year and would like to says thanks to the folks that have kept me going, I wrote an earlier post on being thankful for my smartphone and posts being grateful of support during this pandemic. However, I would like to echo this and let everyone know I more than appreciate the texts (yes minister friend Janice, even the early morning Prayers), WhatsApp’s, emails, social media messages; every piece of contact helps prevent the feeling of loneliness, it makes me appreciate what I have – a circle of human beings around me that care. I so love the photos I receive in texts of my grandchildren, it brightens my life and lightens my heart. Marion and Tony send me the most beautiful photos of Luna, she was born in lockdown, we were privileged to see her Christmas Day and have only seen her via technology since, thank goodness for gadgets. We have round robin texts between Tony, Stuart, Marion, Laura and Myself; all checking in, keeping up with the news and sharing photographs. Pre lockdown both my sons were at our house regularly and our home filled with laughter and cheer. Now our lads call regularly, they FaceTime with the kids which is fabulous, I get time to talk to the boys and chat away with the babes. Nearly 5 year old granddaughter Alexandra loves chatting away at anytime. See how they are developing, here all their news. Never tire of hearing their news, listening to Tony telling of his uni work, and whats going on in the world of government policy at Edinburgh University , or chatting with Stuart as he drives home from a hard shift at the hospital where we talk about all sorts. My sister Hazel and I text message each other every day just to check in. We blether on the phone often, and its never a short phone call. My friend, Jen, we met on the first day at university in Edinburgh when we were both 18. We’ve been firm friends since. We chat every Friday morning at length. I so enjoy these calls and have to admit they help keep me sane.

The last year for me has been difficult I won’t deny it. I have been over the threshold approximately half a dozen times and most of those occasions have been sheer necessity. I so miss being able to ask Steve to drive me over to visit my Dad. I miss going to my support meetings with The Ann Edgar Trust; so miss seeing the friends I’ve made and the support I get out of going. So for now I’m still content with my calls and other means of communications. My daily WhatsApp messages from Louise lets me know I have a loving caring friend, Stephen cracks me up with his comical wit on WhatsApp, he sends me not only messages to ask how we are doing but jokes, photos to make me laugh; he arranges online quizzes that we take part in on zoom. Lindsay Lou messages me with photos of the kids and tales, I so miss seeing them, suddenly Glasgow feels like the other side of the world.

I’m sure you have been affected this passed year in some way. Whether its physically or mentally, we have all been touched one way or another. Family and friends are important, keeping that line of contact is much more beneficial to some than others. What I have taken from this year is, yes it has been trying, but we have to remember restrictions are put in place for our own good and to save lives. During this pandemic a great deal of people have been diagnosed with this awful virus and sadly numerous folks around the world have died from it. Receiving messages, seeing familiar faces on my silver screen, receiving cards from my sister regularly by post, chatting on the phone, sharing news or a problem or five. I realise how lucky I am to know I am loved and cared for. Next time you pick up your phone to look up your social media pages or online shop, why don’t you give your family or friend a text or better still a phone call. It is so lovely to hear a friendly voice, share a chat; find out whats been going on in YOUR family/friend’s life. If you are going to do something nice today and think of others; do a good turn, please don’t say you don’t have time, life is good and far too short. Share something nice that happened today with someone. Please Pick up the phone – Its good to talk

Hello 2021

For many 2020 has been a difficult year, and certainly for most a memorable one; it has been a year like no other I have known. My hubby and I spent Hogmanay at home on our own. Just the two of us with our beautiful Labradors. This was the first time ever we have been alone to bring in the year and say Hello 2021.

I must say although very different from our usual ceilidh, our last night of the year was a fun packed one. We took part in a family and friends Zoom quiz. Stephen organised it. A busy young Dad with three kids; Stephen and son Louis were quiz masters. We had participants from near and far. Laughing, joking and talking was definitely allowed. We didn’t come first in the quiz but did not disgrace ourselves. Looking forward to the next one.

We are one week in to the new year. Eventful already.

The balloon on my gastrostomy tube burst on Hogmanay. Wonderful efficient staff, it was changed immediately. Six days later the tube was loose, my dressing was drenched. My ever dedicated medics attended to me, yes the balloon on the just short of one week old tube had exploded once again. Nicola changed my tube and then gave me my octreotide injection. This was then a day for complete rest.

To be honest despite the feeling unwell, and the pain. I have enjoyed being home. Sitting by the open fire with my beautiful labradors. Writing and editing. We are in a second lockdown. Yes, it’s a worrying time and I so miss being able to go see my Dad. Strange times my family and friends not coming to my house for a visit. We have to remember these restrictions have been put in place for our own good, to prevent infection from spreading and a big plus point is that we have a vaccine that is getting rolled out to the general public. It will take a while but as time allows we will be able to go out more, visit and one day in the future live a “normal life”.

For some life has been more challenging. It may be they are a key worker and things are getting tough. The usual “go to” place has gone, and talking with others feels trivial. Please try and remember this when someone is looking a little more weary than normal, or talking less than usual, ask how they are – it goes a long way. When a person says they are fine, it doesn’t mean they are doing well.

During this lockdown children at present have to stay home and get home schooled. For many families this works well. But for some life is hard. In many homes there are more computers, laptops, tablets than human beings in the house. In other homes there is one unit in the home or perhaps none at all. When the children are home schooling they get work from their teachers, there are programs on television. The internet plays a vital part in a child’s education. Hence the importance of a piece of equipment to get on the World Wide Web. It’s heartbreaking to think that in this day and age of digital technology that some families lack that availability in their own homes. If you have a laptop, computer, iPad, tablet that’s surplus to requirements please think about handing it in for someone else to use. There is always someone in your area that can use it. You can find out more about recycling your products Here

Whilst the restrictions carry on I will continue with my Content Writing and Editing work. I am so lucky that I enjoy doing it. Photography is my passion. For the time being I am pleased enough with taking photographs in our garden, snapping images of things in the house, pointing and shooting my beloved Nikon at my Labradors, I think they feel like fashion models. Although my husband’s Harley is a great bike for taking photos of. Today was a grand day. I sat at my desk in front of my computer, did work on a newsletter. Then took some photos of a little visitor out our back garden. I’m sure he will be a regular visitor. A beautiful little Robin.


Robin sits on our back fence

Santa Steve on his Harley-Davidson®

We may have differing opinions at the moment. Has the Government made the right call? Is the NHS doing a grand job? Should the kids be going to school? What really should be happening at Christmas. However, I think we can all agree to that regardless of our point of view everyone is needing a little festive cheer. Steve and I thought it would be a lovely idea to introduce to our community Santa Steve on his Harley-Davidson®

My husband and I don’t have the easiest of lives as many of my blog readers know. We have been through a lot in our nearly 55 years of life. Although the we both say we feel very lucky in life to still be in love after getting together in 1982. Absolutely blessed to live in such a fine county as East Lothian, even better that we have managed to secure a house in Boggs Holdings, Pencaitland and bring up our sons there, and now enjoy the sound of our grandchildren. The area is one of beauty and community supportive. Community spirit is important to Steve and I and we wanted to do something.

Since the start of the restrictions we haven’t been out on the Harley-Davidson® very much at all. In fact I have been at home and have only left the house on 7 occasions since April, and three of them were essential hospital visits. Steve has managed to take the bike out runs as and when social distancing allows; which has been great. We were talking about this and realised many people would be like me and would not have been out very much at all this year. Now as Christmas is approaching, children getting excited and looking forward to seeing Santa. There are many places parents cannot take their wee ones to see Santa this year due to the restrictions.

Steve and I are members of an organisation – this is the Dunedin Chapter is where many of us Harley owners get together and go runs together, etc. Seriously, a lot more to it than that. We love it. With the Chapter on Saturday Steve was going on the Santa toy run in Edinburgh – this is a charity run to drop off presents. He decided it may be a good idea to post on facebook to our local Pencaitland page would they like a drive by from Santa Steve in the afternoon after he had finished his charitable run with The Dunedin Chapter. Soon he got replies, Yes please.

I emailed the local police station, who were fantastic and called Steve right back that day. Gave him the authority to drive through the village. Bike dressed up in tinsel and lights, Steve in Santa suit. He left our home and I posted on Facebook he left. He drove through the village.

Steve was met with smiling faces and waving hands. I checked on Facebook; there were comments – where is “Santa Steve ?” “I’ve text you….” soon photos and videos were put up. And then comments of thanks.

The community spirit in the village brightened my day and lifted my heart. Thank you to all the children and adults who came out to see Santa Steve. I hope you all enjoyed Santa Steve on “Fattie Scot” : the Fatboy Harley-Davidson® dressed up in tinsel. I know he had a great time driving around the village and waving at you guys.

Merry Christmas and wishing all the best for 2021.

We had many many comments including:

Superstar Steve!

Thank you so much, Lots of excited wee ones thrilled to see Santa

Even us ‘big yins’ enjoy seeing Biker Santa around the village! well done and thank you! Merry Christmas

Fabulous idea, great fun, thanks for bringing some joy round the village

Thank you so much for doing that, absolutely magical. My little one won’t stop talking about you! Really cheered us up on this bad news day

Very happy kids (and me) even though the tiny tot was a bit unsure

Thank you for visiting Huntlaw Road! My daughter was very excited to see you

Thanks to u for visiting Limekilns

Thanks very much for doing that…… highlight of our kids day (mine too if I’m honest)

You looked and sounded the biz! Thanks for making the effort Steve

My kids were delighted!!!!!!!! thank you so much

I think we were your first at The Boggs, Thanks so much the kids absolutely loved it

Thank you very much, we saw you from a far and there was mass excitement at our house!

Thank you it was brilliant, such a lovely thing to do

Thanks from Pringles Place. My kids loved it

Thank you for coming by the Green! My 5 year old daughter was DELIGHTED to see you!! Merry Christmas Santa Steve

Lovely Steve

Well done Santa! A much needed bit of cheer!

Thank you the kids were delighted, at this time anything that brings a smile to a kid’s face is well worth it

Such a lovely kind thing to do for the kids! Thanks so much Steve. Merry Christmas to you

Thank you my wee granddaughter Mia was chuffed to get fist bump at Queens Drive

Saw you from the window at old farm court & really appreciated it! You’re a star and sure all the little ones loved it. Merry Christmas

My kids at Woodhall loved it! Thank you very much

It was fab

THANK YOU