What a Roller-Coaster of a Year – But I’m back (fingers crossed).

As we say in Yorkshire, “By ‘eck!”. Yes, it’s been quite a roller-coaster of a year all right. In fact it’s over a year and a half really, but who’s counting? Not me, now I’m back.

Back, but with finger’s crossed, because this squashy, strange lump near my collar bone and neck won’t quite disappear yet, even after 19 bouts of Chemo, 15 radiotherapy sessions and now, every month, I experience the frightening looking needle and syringe which pumps a new and supposedly magical solution to my problem into my (dare I tell you) buttocks!! Being honest, the first time I saw this needle, I thought ‘Help’. But strangely, because myself and the nurse administering this potion were so busy talking about children or the dreaded Brexit, the whole thing is over and done with in seconds. So the roller-coaster of a year is sort-of carrying on, but with less Hospital visits for now. Or so I thought!

St. Mary's Church, Beverley
St. Mary’s Church, Beverley

So why is she showing us a church you say? Here’s why.

The majority of my hospital appointments have been at lunchtime or afternoons, which meant that for the last four and a half years Erik has driven me back through the beautiful Beverley, past St.Mary’s Church and ‘Nellies”, the ancient White Horse Inn known to many. Many’s the time, on a blustery Saturday in Winter, Erik and I would venture out  for the odd Shandy in front of “Nellies” open fire. Oh Happy Times.

The White Horse Inn, Beverley - known as "Nellies"
The White Horse Inn, Beverley – known as “Nellies” – courtesy trip advisor

As we escape the confines of this amazing old town, on the road to Hornsea, we relish the huge, vast open skies that varied in colour, according to the time of day and the seasons, from huge almost circular rainbows, brilliantly coloured and virtually bouncing off the fields either side of us. Vivid shades of intense blue, fluffy clouds and golden sun or streaky coral and turquoise wavy tendrils that gently threatened the onset of evening. Many times, worn out from various treatments and cannulas being stuck in my hands, I would just relax and say “Wow, oh wow.”

So by the time we arrive at our front door, I’m already smiling and the healing process has begun, again. Our house is, indeed, my sanctuary and walking back into it after yet another day’s hospital appointment still fills me with calm after it enfolds around me gently, and Fizzi the dog wakes up and sleepily snuffles up to me to tell me she still loves me. Who could ask for more?

I do still get tired and occasionally Erik will find me having ’20 winks’ tucked up either on the sofa in our new kitchen in the sunshine, or in the lounge on my favourite cushioned corner of our squashy settee. I sometimes feel guilty, but as Erik points out to me, I’m no spring chicken! He doesn’t have to remind me so often though!

Kale - Red Russian -gorgeous colour and frilly leaves – Kale – Red Russian -gorgeous colour and frilly leaves

So here I am, back, with some hair, (still a bit patchy), most of my eyelashes, hardly any eyebrows (but who cares about those), and I’m trying to build up my stamina by planting, weeding and gardening.  Yesterday I was outside for a few hours in the weak Autumn sunshine, planting Garlic – Elephant, Carcassone, Mikolov,Red Duke – and Shallots – Longor and Griselle and some small red onions – Electric. Also some red Kale – Red Russian –  and Swiss Chard – Bright Lights.

Swiss Chard 'Bright Lights' - courtesy Thompson & Morgan – Kitchen Garden Plans.
Swiss Chard ‘Bright Lights’ – courtesy Thompson & Morgan

But one of the things I am amazed at is how many of you followers of our blog have carried on reading it, downloading recipes (particularly Christmas recipes) and scouring our pages.  I find it very touching that although I have hardly written anything for a year or so, you have carried on reading our posts, thousands of you from all over the world. Thank you so much for your patience, and from now on I am going to fill you in with new recipes, kitchen garden updates and recipes, more about Wood-Fired ovens (and recipes), and all sorts of gardening and pet adventures.

One of the stumbling blocks about writing about food is that it is slightly important to have a great appetite.  But somehow ‘appetite’ and ‘Chemotherapy’ don’t go together too well – in fact Chemo seems to cancel out ‘appetite’ almost totally.  Just as I was getting over the effects of Chemo from 2014 (and it took me some time), early spring 2017 came along, and so my new bouts of Chemo lasted until mid-September of that same year. Food and cooking have all been great passions of mine, and losing those skills both taste-wise and creatively has somewhat knocked the stuffing out of me. It’s like a huge chunk of my reason for being has disappeared – or is just beyond my reach. But I want it back. Right now!


My Yorkshire Puddings with gravy
My Yorkshire Pudding
and Gravy – as we eat it in Yorkshire

Bit by bit, my appetite is coming back. Slowly, very slowly, but I feel that my food tastes have changed in the last few years.  Gone is the passion for heavy, cream–led sauces, huge platters loaded with Sunday joints, 3 vegetables and Yorkshire Puddings (mind-you, I’ll always have a Yorkshire Pudding  if it’s offered to me.)

Now, the light at the end of the tunnel is calling to me to eat such as Italian Antipasti, – loads of fresh salads, vegetables, tangy olive-oil dressings mixed with herbs or elderflower pressé, organic fruit, healthy Sourdough loaves (not too much), fresh fish

Erik's new Sourdough recipe- fantastic
Erik’s new Sourdough recipe- fantastic

and some organic meat.  Sitting at my desk right now, I have a longing for a big colourful bowl of my favourite Gazpacho soup, full of tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, olive oil, herbs, garlic, topped up with some crunchy croutons, finely-chopped red onions/peppers/hard-boiled egg. Yes – I can almost smell that now. Can you?

The Sourdough loaf in the picture was made by Erik last week. It is a recipe he found on a post from Squidbeak recently. He swears it the best recipe for Sourdough he has come across, and I must confess, very happily, that he is not wrong. Fantastic bread to eat. Just click on the Squidbeak name above and find the recipe. You won’t be disappointed.

Another longing is for some ripe melon slices and some good Parma ham, drizzled with a peppery Tuscan extra-virgin olive oil.  Or  another favourite calling out to me is Water Melon slices with cubes of Feta cheese chunks and Black Olives, dressed with a tangy Greek olive-oil.

Our radishes, ready to eat.
Our radishes, ready to eat.

And our own home-grown French Breakfast radishes have been greedily munched this summer – now those dipped into a little bowl of Maldon or other crunchy salt are worth waiting for.

But never fear, I will always have a sweet tooth, and am so looking forward to lots of delicious desserts over the next few months.  My taste for dark chocolate has not abated, so I shall be looking out for some new recipes before long. And fruity desserts appeal more to me now than they did before.

Not another Roller-Coaster of a Year?

About a month ago, I noticed a tingling in my hand and fingers, then my arm. Suddenly my arm stiffened up, and gradually became painful and very swollen. Being the sensible woman I believed I was, I rang the brilliant Doctors in Hornsea. Getting slightly worried, I was thrilled to get an urgent appointment that day. My Doctor had gone to the same university in Kerala, India, as my Doctor at Castle Hill Hospital – the one that I had spent the last 4 years attending. He gave me strong antibiotics, and told me to come back in 4 days if there was no change. 4 days later I returned to the Hornsea Doctor, and he took one look at the blue veins throbbing in my upper arm and warned me that I either had a blood clot or my tumour was pressing on the main artery. I gulped!

Immediately he emailed the Castle Hill Doctor and said that it was imperative I go there asap. The next day I received a call from the Hospital secretary to fit me in very quickly. I must confess I tried not to think dark thoughts and somehow managed to get on with life, but within days I was summoned to Castle Hill, had an Ultrasound on the arm which confirmed it was a clot. Within minutes of that news, we rushed over the road to the Oncology department, (my second home for the last 4 years) and were met by the Specialist and my other Keralan Doctor. They gently confirmed what I knew already, and proceeded to show me computer pictures of the clot, and what they could do to help me.

The result is that Erik now has to give me an injection every afternoon in my tummy for 4-6 weeks, which will a.Thin my blood and b.If the clot breaks up stop it from going anywhere else. I’ve never had a problem before, but according too the Doctors it could be caused by the Chemo drugs or the other treatments I have had to try and get rid of the tumour. Luckily, I think, my arm is less swollen and painful, and I need to give it gentle exercise. Hence the gardening.

So now you know why I entitled this post ‘What a Roller-Coaster of s Year – but I’m Back (fingers crossed)’. And that is also the reason for my absence from our blog. How I have missed it. What a roller-coaster of a year it really was and let’s hope it will vanish into History. Here’s hoping that 2019 will be a much more healthy year for us all. Me, I’m just longing to do more with Erik, my home and garden, enjoy my 5 grandchildren and just get on with life. Seriously, lots more to come with my ever-improving appetite (providing Erik will let me in the kitchen).


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15 Responses to What a Roller-Coaster of a Year – But I’m back (fingers crossed).

  1. Alex November 6, 2018 at 6:36 pm #

    Wowsers, what a year!
    Sending much love and look forward to seeing some festive recipes to inspire me for when my lovely Aussie cousin and his family come to us for Christmas – one of them is a veggie!
    Alex & co xxxx

  2. Theresa Rimswell-Ogden November 6, 2018 at 7:18 pm #

    So good to see you back with pen in hand dear. I really must venture coastward before 2018 is over.

    It’s been a strange year for me also, though I’ve not had Erik to deal also.

    Much love

  3. Astrid November 6, 2018 at 8:43 pm #

    Hi Theresa, glad to hear from you. Give us another week or two so that I can hoover up and then we shall be ready to receive guests. One must keep our standards up.Lots of love. xxx

  4. Astrid November 6, 2018 at 8:45 pm #

    Hi Alex, had better years but doing OK despite everything. Just need to reclaim my kitchen back and really get creative again. Love to all. xxx

  5. joanne huntsman November 7, 2018 at 12:04 am #

    I am so glad to see you are planting and growing again.I have been worried by the silence. Wishing you ever better health. xx

  6. Astrid November 7, 2018 at 7:06 am #

    Thanks Jo. Was doing fairly well until the recent arm trouble, but hopefully that will clear up. Was so painful, and when they realised it was a clot under my arm near the top I first of all thought “help!” but then thought I could just get on with everything and tried not to panic. So planting again, hurrah, and getting ready for a busy Christmas. Must keep in touch and have a visit with you one in new year when I can drive again. Thanks again. xxx

  7. Sister Mel November 10, 2018 at 8:09 am #

    Sending lots of love. Keep it up & I need to have a lesson in getting my Yorkshire Pudds to rise properly please xx

  8. Astrid November 10, 2018 at 2:51 pm #

    Thanks Mel – just realised that I’ve never really written the recipe down. But really take a basic Yorkshire Pudding recipe, but use Strong White bread flour to make them, plus an egg per person. Use three-quarters milk, one quarter water. Good pinch of salt & pepper. Have oven really hot – 230C – good deal of oil or fat to get really hot in tin(s) then put mixture in. When they really start to rise, turn oven down slightly in stages, (or move them lower in AGA gradually) to make sure the base is cooked. Usually takes 30/35 mins for individually ones, slightly less for smaller ones. The strong white bread flour makes them crisp round the edges but great in middle. It all depends on your oven. And I usually save a bit of the mixture to add to gravy, carefully mixed in so that the eggs don’t curdle. Have fun!!! It was from Win, Dave’s mum. Brilliant cook. Lots of love. xxx

  9. Turner Siddle November 10, 2018 at 2:57 pm #

    Hey! You’re back.

    My favourite season for all things foody. I don’t care about brexit because come what may there’ll always be good food and there will always be you!

    Glad you are in rude health and thriving.

  10. Astrid November 10, 2018 at 7:02 pm #

    Thanks Turner. Not so much of the rude!! Lit the fire and now going to have some lovely Gravad Lax followed by Sea Bass fillets and baby minted new potatoes – then Strictly. Hopefully on the mend – again. Sending much love. xxxAstrid.

  11. Jacinta Brabus-Limes November 10, 2018 at 7:48 pm #

    I was heartened to hear of your return. I will be instructing cook to follow your blog as autumn fuses into winter and we feast away. Cook is obsessed with eels at the present and what she can do a foot of eel is mesmerising I can tell you! We’re making grape jelly this weekend and eating the last of our passionflower fruit. It’s all go here.

    Good to see you back Astrid.


  12. Huw Jorgen November 10, 2018 at 7:56 pm #

    Welcome Home as Peters and Lee sang!

    Our family has really missed you.

    Can you do something with suet pudding for us?

    This year I’ve invented suet pudding containing bangers and mash with onion gravy. That was divine.

    I’ve promised my kids suet pudding containing all the elements of a Christmas lunch.

    I thought perhaps you might have some advice for us suet lovers.

    Must dash I’ve got a hot ring and need to interrogate some fillet.

    Looking forward to your autumn food adventures.

  13. Maureen Targa-Klunt November 10, 2018 at 8:02 pm #

    My husband is cooking tonight so I’m free to post. Peter has a right hefty piece of meat so I think it’ll be an interesting evening. I’ve got red roosters and a jar of goose fat.

    A perfect evening ahead

  14. Astrid November 19, 2018 at 7:39 am #

    Hi Huw, glad to be back, but I can only see the beginning of your post. Regards anyway, Astrid.

  15. Astrid November 19, 2018 at 7:41 am #

    Hi Jacinta, I’ll have loads more recipes for your cook to follow and I hope you enjoy them. I’m enjoying being excited about food once more. Regards, Astrid.

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