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

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

Sunday Afternoon

Our usual Sunday Afternoon consists of a ride on our Harley Davidson.  Meeting up with chums from the The Dunedin Chapter Scotland and visiting my Dad.

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This particular Sunday we are still in lockdown and restrictions still apply.  We are very that we are surrounded in the most beautiful countryside, our garden is larger than most.  And we can certainly exercise and get fresh air without bumping into anyone if we want.

For some time there has been an area near the front of the house that we would love to put some hard standing to cover the dirty area that gets mushy when folk park on it, despite all the chipped area around the house.  Steve brings round to work with some beautiful natural stone.  And begins to lay it.  Our Harley Davidson Fat Boy sits in front of the house looking lonely.  Our labs, Buddy and Bella stand together at the front of the door, waiting eagerly until I finally say they can come and join me while I put plants in the pots at the front of the house.

 

 

 

They are so happy once they join us out the front. Watching Steve cut the stone and lay it.  And me put some petunias, lobelia, pansies and a few other plants in pots.
The one thing that certainly hasn’t changed about the Sunday Afternoon is we spend time together.  Have a lovely day no matter what we do.  Just make the best of it.  Life is for living.  Live, laugh and love everyday.

And always make sure we make time for ourselves.  My time is writing.  Which I love love love.

Have a great day folks.

 

We’re all Jock Tamson’s Bairns

As the time of the restrictions of the coronavirus goes on not only here in the UK but in a great many countries all over the world.  We have all had to get used to for the time being a different way of life.  Here in the UK we are still in lockdown.  Shops, restaurants, pubs close.   Work places cannot function as they once did.  Schools, colleges and universities have closed their doors to students and staff.  Many personal services can no longer take place; such as hair cuts and styling, nail manicuring, tanning.

 

As someone with carcinoid syndrome   things changed for me quite some time ago and I  had to learn to deal with many issues.  I have had to make many adjustments.  My skin has changed, I have to deal with horrendous flushes, etc.  Whilst I still love to wear make up, dye my hair, etc I have to be careful for reactions.  Looking back as a youngster I can remember pinching my mothers food colouring to dye my hair when I had ran out of money to buy the real McCoy and making sure the earrings matched the colour of the nail polish,  that co-ordinated the hand bag and shoes.  Well I was more of a Dr Martens  student, although I did like to wear the decorative ones, give a bit of colour to my life.

 

The one thing I have never been into is wearing any ‘add ons’ – getting my nails manicured and polished and painted a pretty colour for a special occasion yes.  Acrylics on me? No – just never been the done thing.  Hair extensions are something that have came a long way in the last few years.  And to be honest they look so good and natural you would never know where the natural hair ends and the ‘fake’ hair starts.  And as for any other body enhancements, young women placing an implant in their bra, such as a  chicken fillet insert to make them look on the larger side and give them that extra lift.  In the seat of their pants too bum boosters.  for that additional filling on the rear end.  I’m blessed with olive skin and don’t feel the need for fake tan

 

As a woman who brought up two lads I didn’t have make up,  nail polish, make up, hair extensions, bra, etc requests in our household.  We did have lots of aftershave, mousse and wax for hair styling, and hair dye.

 

In the evening hubby and I find ourselves sitting blethering about our day just the same as we normally we do.    On one of our evening chats we had a discussion about how much time has been spent on screens and the pros and cons of this.  We have been really grateful of the smartphones we both own, the fact that we can FaceTime our friends and family.  If I am going to be in the house for 12 weeks with the garden for light exercise and the only physical people I see are Steve and my nurses I cannot thank enough the progress of technology that has allowed us to move forward and video talk on a call.  On Sunday when my hubby was cleaning our Harley Davidson and I was doing my favourite job of saddle soaping the leather panniers we had a FaceTime call and the 4 year old granddaughter, Alexandra that is mad keen on motorcycles, virtually started the Harley Davidson Fat boy.  She got to hear the roar of the pipes.  And to see the big smile on her face made my day.  As we discussed screen time we went on to discuss social media and what we had seen on it over the last day or so.  My husband had been perplexed and annoyed with the folk that were generally yapping about nothing.  I said to him its simply boredom with people, they have nothing better to write or they are hiding behind their status and making out everything is FINE.

 

What really got us was the folks worrying about breaking their nails and not being able to get to the nail bar…… the hair extensions falling out…….roots coming in and the fear that everyone will see their hair colour (well I hate to tell you, you have just told us, if you hid in your house, and didn’t put a status up no-one would know)………    We have started to see status’s on facebook and people tweeting about their appearance or rather what they believe the lack of it.  They are worrying about what they look like even when there is people fighting for their lives in intensive care.  One of the nicest stories I heard this week was a young family talking, Mum in her late forties was doing the talking, got to admit she looked like she had just got out of bed and it was lunchtime, she was wearing a pair of jeans and a sweater, no make up and no fancy hair do, the kiddies were still in their onesies; Mum was telling the tale of how nice it was to work from home, not feel pressurised to get dressed up and be able to wear the same set of clothes the next day.  Oh and have a day off from make up.

 

I remember a time when I was a bairn and played free, skipped to my lou and sang songs, didn’t bother if there was make up on, what size of breasts or bum someone had.  Yes, its great to take pride in our appearance, however we have to be careful not to become self obsessed.  What we have to remember is  we are all human beings with similar skin and hair.  As the saying goes We’re all Jock Tamson’s Bairns

 

 

baby s feet on brown wicker basket

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