Saturday, 7 November 2020

Radiotherapy Day 3

Penny came today. Another bright beautiful spring day. We roared with laughter most of the way, and arrived 20 minutes early.
Penny laughed some more when I told her that the parking was free.
Yes! she said, punching the air with delight.
We fetched our parking permit, and put it in the car.
Walked along to the waiting room.
No sooner had I sat down and got comfortable than a nurse calls out my name.
Penny and I stare at each other, amazed.
Really? I say. But my appointment is at 9.30 and it's only 9.10.
It's your lucky day, says the nurse.
In I go.
This time I have my burgundy gown, all ready.
I strip off, put the gown on, open the door and wait.
There's my nurse, calling at me from down the corridor.
I walk quickly to the room, and lie down on the bed.
This time they need to come back in once they've left the room, because one of the measurements wasn't quite right.
I'm not concerned. ABBA is playing Waterloo on the radio, and I'm far too busy not toe tapping or moving my body to the beat.
The nurse disappears again.
Whirr. Brrrm. Click.
Jesus and I are dancing to rock and roll this time. I smile at the thought. Thank you, Jesus, I say.
Back comes the nurse. He helps me up and we sort out the robe.
I'm back in the waiting room in a couple of minutes.
Penny is knitting! With the knitting needles and balls of wool we saw on the first day.  She looks up and says joyfully, I'm knitting!
I can see you are, I say, laughing.
And these people are from my church, announces Penny. She is smiling with delight.
We chat, for 3 more rows of knit and pearl.
I'll do one more, says Penny, and then we'll go.
This is a prayer scarf, she says. Look, I've created some light. And she shows me the scarf that has been started. Her chosen colour is a light shade of green.
Cool, I say, grinning at her.
We leave the knitting in the box, and say goodbye to Cathy and John from the church.
Back we go via the seafront. It is definitely the way to go!

Friday, 6 November 2020

Radiotherapy Day 2

Here we go. 18 months on, I am finally posting these. 

Vicki comes to collect me today. She arrives at 8.15. We decide to go via the sea front.
We arrive 15 minutes early, to find out that B1 is 'on time'.
Hooray, we say.
In comes our new friend from Hurstpierpoint. yesterday. I introduce Vicki to her.
Hello! we cry.
Hello! she cries. She is beaming from ear to ear.
Your last day, I say.
Yes, yes, she says. And I have my son's birthday party tonight!
We all beam some more. In comes another lady and her driver (we all get driven here - part of the instructions). She looks exhausted and thin. She sits.
We chat a bit more with our friend, passing the time most agreeably.
The thin lady chats with her friend about shopping.
Have you got milk, asks her friend.
Yes, yes. And bread. She looks tired. As if such decisions were too much.
Two other people arrive and settle down on the other side of the room. We all smile at each other. My new friend greets one of them, and we find out that this person finishes the following week.
How's it been? I ask.
OK, she say, but I'm very tired now.
I seem to hear this a lot. This is spoken over me by others who have been through RT, or by others who haven't. 'You'll get very tired." "You'll get very sore." "You'll be knackered." Etc.
We'll see.
We wait some more.
My name is called. Through the doors I go. An old hand now. The nurse passes me my robe.
You forgot to take this home, she says.
Oh! I say, I didn't realise. Do I do that everyday?
Yes, she says.
I'm left to get ready.
And so I strip off once more, whack on the robe, open the door and wait. Now that I know what will happen, I feel confident and relaxed.
I'm called in. There's the machine. Good old B1. And a new nurse.
I'm settled onto the bed. Nurses saying numbers and marking my skin once more.
They leave the room.
The machine whirrs and clicks. I remember the picture from the previous day about Jesus and this time we're dancing more wildly together, round and round. But oh, so much fun!
Before I know it, the nurses are back in, and I am helped down.
Do you need the step? they ask. As I leap off the bed.
No, I laugh. I'm down!
And through I go, where Vicki is waiting.
Wow, she says. That was quick.
And off we go. Back via the sea front.
We have DEFINITELY found the right route. Hooray.

Thursday, 5 November 2020

Radiotherapy Day 1

So. In 2019 I had radiotherapy on my boob. Breast cancer. No chemo. And each day for 15 days (following my operation), I went into the Royal Sussex Hospital for my treatment. I wrote an account of each and every day but never posted it. Until today. And so, for the next 15 days, I will post each consecutive day, all written 18 months ago. I've no idea why I didn't do this at the time. Perhaps it was just a bit too sensitive. Anyway. 
Here goes. Day One. 

Day One
The first day of radiotherapy has arrived. Husband and I spend the 45 minutes journey to the Royal Sussex Hospital in Brighton talking animatedly about the best way to get there.
In the end we decide to go along the A27 and turn right, zooming into Asda to get some petrol. It seems that there are an awful lot of roads in Brighton, and by the time we've arrived at the Sussex Cancer Centre, we are full of bright ideas about how to get here tomorrow. Definitely not THAT route.
Sussex Cancer Centre, behind the Royal Sussex Hospital, is a couple of roads back from the sea, and I am cheered by the sight of the water, just about visible across roofs and between roads.
We swish our way through the automatic doors, and fall gladly on the Free Parking Permit which a very nice receptionist hands over to us, Husband taking it back to the car to display on the rather dusty windscreen.
Machine B1 (my radiotherapy machine for the next 15 days) is '10 minutes late' today. But Husband and I are prepared for waiting, and sit expectantly. Beside Husband is a box filled with dozens of balls of wool and some knitting needles. There's even a piece of knitting that anyone can tackle, if they so feel the need. I decidedly don't, as the last time I knitted anything it was Not A Success. That's a story for another day.
A very kind nurse comes and greets us. We have a brief consultation with her, where she rather alarmingly asks me which breast is being treated. Blimey, I think. Have they lost my notes?
She smiles as she asks, and says that it's just something they have to ask. Phew, I think.
Back to the empty waiting room, and the pile of knitting. We sit, prepared for more waiting.
A lady and her husband enter the room. She smiles over at us, and we smile back. She sits on the other side of the knitting.
Hello! I say.
Hello! she says. My last day tomorrow!
We all beam at each other. Chat begins on when she started (6 weeks ago) and where she lives (Hurstpierpoint) and how she is. (Fabulous!).
A nurse comes through the double doors to my left and says my name.
Up I leap and round the corner I go.
Put this on, says the nurse, pointing to a rather fetching burgundy hospital gown.
Let me know when you're done, she says. And she shows me a cubicle and instructs me to wait, but to leave the door open when I'm ready.
I strip off the top half, thankful that jeans and boots can stay on.
The burgundy gown goes on, and I open the door. No one there.
I sit on the chair.
Wait a couple more moments and then...
All ready? Come on then! says the nurse, and I follow her along a corridor, and round the corner.
And there is the machine.
A bed.
Another nurse. I get the impression of cleanliness and order.
I'm asked to lie on the bed. Stretch my arms above my head. Wriggle down a bit. Wriggle up a bit. Wriggle down a bit more. Perfect!
They do their stuff, saying lots of numbers and marking my skin with a pen. They tell me all the time what they are doing.
We're just going to put the bed up a bit.
Now we're going to leave the room.
You'll hear some noises.
We won't be long.

Then I'm alone.

I stare up at the ceiling. There's a bright red light there, shaped like an S. The machine whirrs and clicks. Then it moves to one side.
I stay completely still. I think, Jesus. Jesus. And I thank him for being there. I have this extraordinary picture of him dancing with me. Like a 1940's movie. Twirling round and round, and us both laughing and loving it. And as I have this bizarre and wonderful thought, the machine continues to beep and click.
In a flash, the nurses are back in the room.
All finished, Helen. You OK?
I beam.
Yes. Wonderful, thanks!
They help me up, make me decent, and in a jiffy I'm back in the waiting room, where Husband is astounded to see me so soon.
Are you done? he asks, amazed.
Yup. All done, I say.
And we get our things together, say goodbye to our new friends, and go home.
By another route.
Which we DEFINITELY won't do tomorrow either.

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Lovely friend is 60. A group of us bunched together, as we have for each other over the last 30 years, to buy her a present. A bench. With a smart green cushion.
Two of us take responsibility for this, and are chuffed to bits that the bench is ordered, to be delivered on the day of the birthday. We've even ordered a plaque with all our names on it. Result!
I think we ought to knit her a blanket, says one friend.
No, no, I think.
With lots of squares of different colours, says the friend.
Oh, sweet Lord, I think.
We could all do about 4 each, says the friend.
Over my dead body, I think.
Great! say all the other friends.
Bollocks, I think.
Friend sends each of us a ball of wool, a pair of knitting needles, and some instructions of what to knit.
I read it.
Cast on 28 stitches.
Cast on? Isn't that what you do in sailing? (Perhaps I should mention here that I have not knitted since I was 11 years old, when in the Spring Term of each year we were required to knit bootees, cardigans or some other such article for Babies in Africa).
My offering each time was always grey and holey. The nuns (convent school) would sigh with exaggerated frustration at my poor efforts. And then finish it off for me. Every time!
But would someone finish off this offering? Would they heck.
And so I started. I found a YouTube video of someone casting on. I watched it avidly. I cast on one, two, three, four stitches.
I'm knitting! I bellowed, to whoever wanted to hear me in the house.
Daughter came and inspected.
Well done, Mum, she said kindly.
28 stitches. All cast on.
Now what!
I read the instruction. Knit four rows. 
How incredibly unhelpful, I thought. How do I 'knit 4 rows'? And so back I went to YouTube and watched a kind lady knitting.
I knitted 4 rows.
Only to find I hadn't read the full instructions. Knit 4 rows making sure you purl 4 at the beginning and end of each line. 
I looked at the 4 rows I had done. Could I get away with it?
With a sigh, I pulled the 4 rows off the knitting needle and started again.
Cast on 28 stitches. 
28 stitches cast on! I'm getting so good at knitting!
Knit 4 rows making sure you purl 4 at the beginning and end of each line. 
Right, I thought. This will be a doddle.
Only it wasn't. Because every time I got to the end of a row, my knitting seemed to get longer and longer. I counted the stitches. 32! What the heck?!
I rang the friend.
Explained the problem.
Don't worry! she said. And after all, it's the fact that you're TRYING. That is more important than what it looks like.
I very much doubted that. My 4 rows looked like a triangle.
Righto! I said. I'll get going with the next bit then!
And so I did.
The triangle bit did not improve, and what was even worse, holes started appearing either side of the knitting.
I pulled it all out and started again.
And again.
And again.
And again.
9 times I started again. 9 times it went triangular and got holes.
Bollocky BOLLOCKS, I said, rather a lot. And maybe some worse things than that.
My children found it very amusing.
So did my Husband.
Har har har har har, he said. Needless to say, I didn't find it in the least amusing.
Until I worked out the holes situation.
I wasn't putting the wool forwards (or backwards) after changing from knit to purl.
Ta da!
Oh, the joy.
Oh, the satisfaction of knitting 4 rows and it looking just like a square!
Oh, the joy of not having any holes!
I love knitting!
And so I continued on, completing 2 whole squares, even managing the casting off with the aid of yet another YouTube lady coming to the rescue.
I took my squares proudly up to London where we had a 'gathering to sew all the squares together' evening.
I think I'd rather sew my fingers together.
Friend looks at my squares. I look at hers. They are literally twice as big as mine. Mine are small and tight. Hers are big and generous.
LOVELY, she says. Look, it's NO PROBLEM. I'll just knit some more around the edge. LOVELY.
Another friend, usually very chatty and smiley, is sitting in a chair in the corner of the room muttering to herself as she knits a square. Bollocks. Bloody, bloody hell. Sort of thing. Apparently she hadn't 'had time' to do one before. Aha, I thought. Another rebel against this knitting lark.
Around the room a selection of friends are knitting. All with enormous glasses of Prosecco. That's more like it, I think.
I sit in a chair. And knit furiously. The glass of Prosecco makes it much more pleasant and in no time at all I show my finished square to all and sundry.
Brilliant! they say.
And it is. It's the right size, shape and colour. No holes.
What AM I? Knitting queen?
And I proudly chuck my square to join the other squares waiting to be sewn together. And grab another glass of Prosecco before offering to sew some squares together.
Flipping heck. I've become a domestic goddess.
That will wipe the smile off Husband's face.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Clearing out the cobwebs

Wow. I'm peering into this old blog and can see a few cobwebs and spiders lurking. Time to blow them off, shoo them out and get writing again.
To my delight, following on from my last piece of drivel posted a few weeks ago, I see a few old blogger friends are still here. How lovely is that! I shall go and visit after posting this.
Blogging is a funny old business, but so much more rewarding than the instant Facebook, which  becomes duller the more scrolling down you do. How much of LOOK AT ME NOW can I cope with?!
So. Here are a few details of the latest.
I've had a spot of breast cancer. Lumpectomy. Lymph node removal. All clear. Radiotherapy to follow. This is a new 'club' I am now a member of. One I didn't ever want to join, but oh, my goodness, the people in this club are so amazingly nice and kind and generous and brave. And I'm totally in awe of the NHS, who deal with truckloads of women like me per week, all pale and wan from worry. Each person is dealt with so kindly and wisely. Made me feel very grateful indeed. And the support! I had to ring the Breast Clinic to ask a couple of what I termed 'stupid questions'. The patience! (Can I walk the dog yet? Can I put ice cubes on my armpit as it feels all 'burny') All in all, top marks.
Children are all growing up. Well, obviously. That's what they do! From Eldest to Youngest, we still have overwhelming bouts of laughter. Wish I'd written more of them down, but I still get such a lot of joy (and so do they) when I read what I've already written in this blog. Memories that warm the heart! Even the really poo'ish ones.
I've written a book! And got an award! And I still do far too many exclamation marks!
Very happy about book. I'm trying to keep this blog anonymous, so that I don't have to edit what I say, hence not saying what the book is about. Or what it's called. But it's been a lifelong ambition to write one, and now I have.
And am now on to my next book. How fabulous is that!
Right. Off visiting some of you folks now. I'll leave a calling card as I go. (Hoping that isn't rhyming slang or a weird idiom for something unsavoury).
Have a beautiful day, one and all.

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

PE kit retrieval

Youngest is now 14.
This morning we hugged fondly as he made his way to the school bus.
'See you later, Mum. Love you,' he says, as he leaves the house. I wave and wave as he trudges up the drive and round the corner. I can still hear his crunching feet on the gravel.
The phone rings a few minutes later. It's Youngest.
"Oops. Have you missed the bus?" I say.
"No. But I thought it was Monday."
I think for a bit. It's Tuesday.
Youngest continues. "And on Tuesday it's PE."
Oh, dear, I think.
"What shall you do?" I ask. Our parental mantra is not to dash about and save the situation.
"Can you bring it down to school?" asks Youngest.
So I dash about and save the situation.
"Where's your kit?"
"Go into my room, " says Youngest. Which I do.
It's chaos. Clothes are scattered everywhere. Piles of them. I sigh deeply.
"My PE shirt is on the floor. Under a grey sweatshirt. By the chair. At the end of the bed."
I look on the floor. By the chair. At the end of the bed. I pick up a grey sweatshirt.
There's the PE shirt!
"Found it!' I say. "Where's the shorts?"
Youngest's deep voice (did I tell you his voice broke? He sounds like my dad now) tells me to go to the pile over by the window and look under the blanket next to the chest.
I go to the pile by the window, and look under the blanket next to the chest.
There are the shorts!
"Got 'em! Shoes?" I ask, deeply impressed by his chaotic order.
"Downstairs by the front door," replies my boy. "Next to the mat."
I thump down, two stairs at a time. There they are!
And cram the whole lot into a bag, and drive the 3.8 miles to school.
"Thanks, Mum," says Youngest, lifting the bag out of the passenger seat. "Love you."
"Love you too," I say.
And off I go home. PE kit delivered. Situation saved.
And a new sense of awe that despite the live ecosystem that is his room, Youngest can remotely direct his mother to locate and assemble a forgotten PE kit.

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Wasp Mystery Solved at Last

It appears that we have some wasps in our kitchen. 15 or 20 seem to be having a right old time climbing up the window, sliding down and then climbing up the window again. I am having a right old time catching 15 to 20 of them as they climb up the window, and hurling them out into the garden, only to find 15 to 20 of them climbing up the window again.
Sat for several minutes staring at window yesterday, attempting to use peripheral vision to work out their entry point, as it were. Must have looked a little bit Special, sitting there staring so hard at nothing, one eye slightly out of focus and looking decidedly to the right. 
Heard buzzing! 
Jumped up and threw self towards area of sound. There was a wasp! Looked up, down, left, right.
Sat again. 
Stared at window again.
Buzzing AGAIN.
Leaped up again, and saw ANOTHER wasp, doing its thing on the window. 
Had brilliant idea that I could take video of window as I got on with something very useful.
Got iPad out. Spent some minutes setting it up. Put it on. Pressed little red button to start video. 
Brilliant, I thought. Saving lots of time! 
Went off and wasted lots of time, and then came back to watch video.
Watched blank window on video for 5 minutes. 
Right, I thought. Time for some action. 
Rang Pest Control at our local council offices. 
Kind lady explained that the wasps would all be dead by the end of November. 
Oh, I said. 
The Queen, she went on, had gone off to hibernate.
I hoped she wasn't talking about our dear Elizabeth.
All these other wasps would drop off slowly as it got colder. 
How much to get someone out? I asked.
£50, she said.  
And then I saw it. One dastardly wasp COMING OUT OF THE LIGHT FITTING! 
Aha! Gotcha!
Said brisk but fond farewell to kind lady from the council, grabbed chair under light fitting, and yelled to Middle Son to come and help. Made him stand on chair and remove light fitting.
Lots of them. Oozing out of light fitting and dozily careering off across the kitchen to climb up the window. More and more. Kitchen thick with buzzing.
Had most satisfactory time opening window and wafting them all out in the cold night air. The lazy ones who lay on the floor were swept up and thrown out too.
We are now officially a Wasp Free kitchen.
Now to deal with the rats in the chicken run.

NOTE: This was written a year ago last October. But I forgot to post it. And so I'm posting it now.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

In which Youngest saves the day

Went to the cinema the other day. Took Youngest who was very keen to see The Secret Life of Pets. I was very keen to see the latest Rom Com, but I think it's going on twenty years since I managed to see one of those. Nowadays it's Disney, Pixar or else very noisy action films where the villain has a very deep voice and the hero just stands about looking hero-like. And runs about a lot. And sweats.
Was fearfully organised, and had ordered tickets online, arriving at the cinema with fifteen minutes to spare. Perfect time allowed to collect the tickets and buy horrendously expensive popcorn and fizzy drinks.
Rather smugly arrived at ticket machine and punched in our card, which kindly spewed out our tickets.
Youngest most impressed with organisational skills. His own. This was all his plan.
Noticed that harassed mother and young daughter, aged about 5, were at the next ticket machine. Was very clear that mother had NOT pre-ordered tickets because young daughter was saying, "But Mummy, I really WANTED to see The Secret Life of Pets." Mother stabbing away at keyboard, valiantly offering other films. Daughter becoming quieter as the reality sank in of not seeing her film.
There you go, I thought uncharitably. Goes to show us mums need to be organised.
"Give them our tickets,' hissed Youngest, digging me somewhat painfully in the ribs.
I turned to him, and back to the little girl. Her face was hidden by her mother's sleeve, still desperately offering alternative films.
"Give them our tickets!" hissed Youngest again, this time close to my ear, and actually making my ear a little bit damp. "Go on, give them OUR TICKETS."
"Are you sure?" I asked. Illogically somewhat disappointed that my ultra organisational uber mother mode was going to end in giving the tickets away.
"YESSSS," hissed Youngest, getting rather agitated now, as the mother looked like she might move away.
I turned to the mother and daughter. "Excuse me, Youngest here would like you to have our tickets. We already have two, so why don't you have them?" Once I was in my stride, I was rather pleased. This was fun!
The pair looked totally taken aback. In a good way. The mother's face changed from depressed resignation to joy. "Are you sure? What will you do instead?"
"Well," said Youngest, with infinite logic, "It's a cinema. We'll go and see a film!"
We all laughed a bit. Awkwardly trying to bridge the offer with clinching the deal.
The mother was decisive and generous at the same time. "We'll pay for you to see another film," she said. "What would you like to see?"
Youngest piped up. "We could see The BFG, Mum. Shall we?"
"Brilliant," I said.
And we did.
The mother punched some more keys, and bought us our tickets. We did a swap, there in the swirly carpeted foyer, and said a fond farewell to each other.
"Thank you SO much," said the mother, looking at Youngest as if he were a total hero.
Which in her eyes he was.
"Pleasure," said Youngest. "Enjoy the film!" And he led the way across the foyer to the popcorn.
He astounds me, this boy of mine. Generous and wise. Kind and thoughtful.
And he's only twelve.
Am very proud Mother.
Especially as I'm such a mean old cow that didn't want to give the tickets away.
Glad I did, though.
The BFG was awesome!!

Sunday, 1 November 2015


It isn't often that I post something sad. But I really need to at the moment. You see, my dearest, funny, sweet, loving sister has died. Cancer crept in and finished her off in seven months flat. Although it was probably a lot longer than that. Cancer tends to be very quiet at the beginning, and by the end it is deafening.
What can I say? Sadness is exhausting. We are all exhausted. And yet, amongst all of this grief and red-eyed living, there is something else. You see, I really prayed that she would get better. Some days my belief was so strong that I could almost taste the healing, and feel the happiness it would bring. I prayed that she would be totally healed from cancer. That she would never be a victim to fear or anxiety ever again. That she would grow old bones.
But she didn't. She died.
That should make me angry, shouldn't it? That should make me enraged with the God I was praying to?
Well, I'm not angry or enraged.
I'm deeply sad but I'm not angry.
What has happened is that I have come to know God in a way that I never knew him before. I have spoken to him, virtually every minute of every day, for months and months.
I have discovered that he is funny. Smart. Fearfully honest. Extremely loving. He doesn't give a brass farthing for rules and regulations if they don't suit him. He would prefer a party full of drug addicts in a squat to a smart cocktail party with the elite. He doesn't like it when people are judgemental, and he hates it when we are 'holier than thou.' He can't STAND social injustice.
In short, he is daring, fearless and ridiculously loving.
So why would a God like that kill off a sister like mine?
Impossible. He simply couldn't.
And so I have to re-think my thoughts about God. He clearly isn't someone who will immediately heal someone. Because he didn't. I still don't know why. But what he did do was to push himself RIGHT INTO my life, so that I could no longer ignore his gentle whispers or constant encouragement. And he pushed himself right into my sister's life, what was left of it. There was no ignoring him. That was NOT an option.
My sister is not here any longer. So where is she?
She's with that God I was talking about. That daring, fearless and ridiculously loving God that I have come to know. And that knowledge makes me...happy.
I'm sad, so sad, that I won't be able to talk to her in her kitchen, or wander around her beautiful vegetable garden with her, and sit on that little seat at the end in the sun, and chat about all of our children. We have eight between us. Quite a feat. When I think that I won't see her again in my lifetime it feels utterly, utterly bloody awful.
But I can look ahead. To after that.
Yes, I'm one of those crazy nutters that believe in Heaven.
And I'm very, very glad I do. I just know that we WILL be together again. We WILL walk about in a vegetable garden one day, with a little seat at the end. We WILL chat about our children and laugh about stuff. We WILL live and live and live. And there won't be any cancer because God and cancer cannot live side by side. And there won't be any worry or anxiety because God and worry and anxiety cannot live side by side.
And so there isn't really any need to worry, is there?
But for the time being I will have my red eyes, and I will cry a lot, because I MISS her.
Who wouldn't? She was the best sister anyone could ever have. The best wife. The best mother. The best daughter. The best friend.
And after I have cried a lot, and some years have gone by, I won't be so sad. We won't be so sad.
And always, in all of that, we will know that we will see her again.
God IS good. It's just that we don't always get to know him because we are either too busy, or he just doesn't seem that relevant to our world. Only he is. Relevant. Vital. Real.  And now that I am beginning to know that, I know that he would NEVER take a life. He would only give one.
Thank God.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

I am Sailing

Have had simply marvellous fun sailing in the Mediterranean.
Well, not exactly Port Grimaud in large luxury Yacht.
More like very small 'Fun Boats', suitable for two people. Who are very small indeed.
But such fun!
Husband and I, plus Middle Son, Daughter and Youngest all holidaying in the South of France in the most idyllic of settings. Gorgeous pool, cicadas doing their thing day and night. Hot, sunny days lazing in the pool. Warm, sultry nights lazing in the pool.
After about ten extremely lazy days lazing by the pool. decided that Youngest was probably getting rather bored. This followed a conversation at breakfast (lazing by the pool) when he stated that holidays like this were probably more for 'old people'.
There was a brief pause.
'Are you saying that you are a bit bored?' we all asked, collectively feeling the punch of the word 'old'.
'Well, it is rather boring just eating and swimming and then lying down to sleep.'
Right, we thought...
And that is why we decided to go sailing...
Three boats (Fun Boats), all bright yellow and more like bath tubs than sailing boats. But they had sails on them and lots of ropes, so that was alright.
Husband was extremely excited and leaped upon the first Fun Boat, along with Youngest.
There was absolutely No Wind At All.
I clambered on to the next Fun Boat.
Middle Son and Daughter got on the third one.
Off we went!
Except that there was No Wind At All.
We sort of drifted around a bit, and occasionally there would be a tiny breeze that wafted us along rather nicely.
It was heaven. I sunbathed a bit more and we trailed our hands in the water and jumped off the boats a few times. Just because.
When we arrived back two hours later we had all decided that we needed to come back when there was a little more wind.
Which is why we returned two days later.
The only thing was that the wind was howling. Like in almost a gale. Like in Lots.
Beaucoup de vent, as they say around there.
The Fun Boats were available, every single one of them, and we clambered on board, this time swaggering a bit with our massive previous experience.
Within minutes our knuckles were white with the exertion of holding on to the flipping ropes, sails were crashing across (gybe ho) and we were SCORCHING across the water. It was marvellous!
The sun peeked through the clouds and then decided to come out completely and all was transformed. Sparkling water, a nice breeze and fast boats!
Well. It would all have been perfect if it hadn't been for a minor point.
Husband capsized. Not once. Not twice. Three times.
We never got to see the first capsize, as Husband very quietly righted the boat round the corner from where we were all dashing backwards and forwards across the water.
The second one was as Daughter and I were going at cracking pace across the same part of the bay. One moment there was Husband ahead of us, boat at jaunty angle.
"Hope Dad doesn't capsize!" chuckled Daughter and we shared a fond giggle. The next moment, Husband's boat goes from jaunty to jiggered and the entire sail disappears, with a small shout from Husband.
Daughter and I turn about (nautical terms coming out of our expert ears by now) and tear across to where Husband and boat are bobbing about. We are beaten there by Very Fast Rubber Sort of Boat with man from our sailing yard, who scoops Husband out by the shoulders and lays him flat, like a landed fish, on his Rubber Boat. Husband can't seem to get up due to tricky angle, so we see if we can help. Wind packs into our sail with a thump, and we are taken off, like a fierce tango dance, to the opposite side of the bay.
Daughter keeps reporting back.
"Dad is nearly sitting up."
"Dad has fallen back into the boat."
"Dad is being put back onto the Fun Boat."
Sort of thing.
Finally we see Husband flailing around with sails, but definitely the right way up, and in the right direction. Hooray!
With all sorts of shouting and sign language we decide that enough is enough, and that it is definitely time for a large Verre de Rosé for the adults and Lemonade for the children.
But not before Husband, with a tremendous roar of protest, capsizes for the third time, the boat whipping him off and into the water before you can say Domaine de Grange Neuve, Bergerac Rosé 2011.
With the deepest of shame I remember laughing heartily. So did Daughter. So did Middle Son. So did Youngest.
And after we'd laughed enough, we raced over to him, where Middle Son was extremely helpful and abandoned Youngest and their Fun Boat to assist his father in righting his wretched little dinghy.
For all their jumping up and down on the right bits, it didn't seem to be working, and so the very kind man who had already hauled Husband out once before, came dashing over again, and proceeded to do more hauling and righting of boats.
Youngest was now in a Fun Boat on his own, but with marvellous timing and grit, managed to expertly guide it back into the yard; this was no mean feat as the wind was feisty, to say the least. Daughter and I managed to get ours back too, and then we all watched as Husband and Middle Son brought theirs back. Would they capsize again?
Disappointingly, they didn't.
And we all piled into the car and drove to the nearest restaurant, where we partook of local Rosé and Lemonade, and laughed a bit more at Husband's expense. Who took it all on the chin.
"Shall we come tomorrow?' we all asked.
Husband looked a bit green. " I think we might leave it there for a bit," he said, slurping up a large mouthful of Bergerac Rosé 2011. And so we will leave it there. For a bit.
Looking forward to next time, when the wind will be kind and the boats will behave.
Even Husband's.

                                            (photo NOT of Husband, but very very similar!)