We've had a busy time over the last couple of weeks since we got home. John is doing well, but understandably a bit apprehensive about what lies ahead of him. Thankfully, we have had some wonderful and useful support from our family and community. The animals are being looked after - various commitments are being taken care of - everything is quietly under control, allowing us to concentrate on fighting this cancer.
We had visits from son Kenneth and Louise, his partner, as well as step-son, Charlie. They were a great help around the house and garden during their stay, but we still had a chance to visit our neighbours' new Gourmet Street food stall in Stornoway. Well worth a visit if you are here.
We had the Sunday School picnic and barbecue at a nearby beach. It was great fun - good food, laughs and lots of races. Oh - and the ladies won the tug of war too!
There was more work in the garden - trying to catch up and make sure we don't miss anything. The roses have just begun to bloom and it looks like there will be a stunning display this year. I couldn't resist bring these two beauties indoors - the perfume is just amazing. (Gertrude Jekyll)
But we are off on our travels again - heading back to Inverness, where John will undergo a week of high dose radiotherapy to his spine. Its a bit sooner than we expected, but we are glad to be getting on with it. I feel a bit like we are on a roller coaster ride - so many ups and downs, long slow periods then the brakes are off and we are flying. People keep asking me "and how are you...?" In truth, I have no idea -I suppose it's like I am breathing in all the time. Things have to be done and dealt with, and that's what I am doing. I'll exhale later...
Sometimes I click on older posts and read about our past adventures - full of hopes dreams and plans - and a fair bit of action too! They are a poignant read now. It's as if life has been put on pause, and yet - it still goes on, in a kind of disconnected way. I've no idea what lies ahead for us, but I know we will deal with it. This is just another part of the journey, I suppose.
So - moving forward, as they say, and I am sitting relaxing with a glass of Pinot Noir, and a pile of lovely Summery magazines, taking a break from all that's going on. I am also desperately trying to finish knitting this cardigan - because I really want to start on something new.....
The latest addition to the croft is this lovely caravan. We are both quite excited about this project ( and you know we really need another project, don't you...) . She is a 30 year old van, and in fairly good condition. Nice and dry inside - just a tiny bit of black around one of the cupboard doors, and in need of a Really Good Clean.
A wee bit tatty and dated, but nothing that can't be fixed up. Look at all those panelled cupboard doors - just crying out for some groovy wallpaper inserts.
I'm thinking orange as my base colour - curtains, quilts, throws, bedding. And guess what - when I looked at my stash, there seemed to be gallons of orangey-ness - just waiting on the right project!
So - the pimping has begun. I have been staking out the charity shops, and my ebay account has seen a bit of action - as well as frittering awaya lot of time extensively researching on Pinterest. We are planning to use the van as a Summer extension to the house, and also as a creative space/garden retreat, so I have a bit more scope than if we were going to use it as a touring van.
I love it very much - it makes me feel so happy when I look out the window and see it nestled in its space beside the polytunnel. it looks as if it has always been there
James loves it too. He's been popping out there quite often just to stretch out on the soft comfy couches, and possibly play some minecraft in peace. I asked him if we should give the van a name. he thought for a moment, and then said "I think we should call it The Caravan of Delight" I think so too. xx
The garden has been a forgotten place over the last few weeks as we dealt with more pressing issues, so it was good to finally get my hands back into the earth and see what could be salvaged. It all seemed very disheartening as I looked around, but then, under a jungle of weeds, I found the strawberry plants growing away nicely - a good start. After some vigorous but therapeutic weeding and mulching, it began to look more like my garden. The alliums are providing bright pops of colour in the flower bed, but the weeds have begun reclaiming the empty spaces again. One step at a time though... and at least we are able to harvest some of the autumn sown produce. Yes - it is garlic scape time again! I picked a few tender scapes and we roasted them along with some Scottish asparagus - delicious. I also dug up the shallots and hung them to dry in the sunshine.
Son, Kenneth, and his partner, Louise are here this week and have been such a great help. Among other things, they removed some redundant fencing, that bordered the vegetable plot. It has really opened up the space and makes access so much easier - it should help with improving the drainage too. I was quite surprised to see that is almost three years since we first put that fence up...
I had planted a lot of seeds in the polytunnel and they were doing so well, but then were left to their own devices while we were away. Of course the weather changed and there was a lot of sunshine, so most of them didn't survive. Its a pity, because it would have been no bother for one of my neighbours to chuck a watering can around every couple of days, but it kind of slipped my mind at the time. Anyway - not all was lost - the broad beans look very strong and will go out into the bed soon, the tomatoes have made it, and most of the peas are ok. It's not too late to start again, either; already new trays of kale, broccoli and salads have been filled, and more seeds will be sown directly into the beds.
Do you like my new plant labels? Every year I fail badly at labelling seed rows and trays, and spend too much time scouring the garden looking for fallen plastic labels, struggling to read the disappearing writing, and trying to remember if those seedlings should go in the flower bed or with the salads. I collected lots of razor clam shells (spoots) on one of our beach visits, and thought they would be ideal for the job - big enough to see in the raised beds, sustainable, and pretty too. I used a laundry sharpie to write the plant names, so hopefully that will survive the Hebridean weather.
We have been on quite a journey over the last few weeks. John's surgery is over, he was up and walking around the next day. The surgeons managed to remove 80% of the tumour, and he will have further treatment - either chemo or radiotherapy in the next few weeks. It's been a hectic ride - moving swiftly from our island home, to Inverness, to Aberdeen, and suddenly I found myself wondering how it was that I came to be sitting in a hospital day room, with my family - hundreds of miles from home, engrossed in a game involving a plastic palm tree. Yet - right at that moment, there was nowhere else I would rather have been.
While John was in hospital, James and I stayed at an amazing place called Clan Haven - an accommodation facility for people and families affected by cancer - I guess that is what we are now... I cant speak highly enough this home from home - the kindness of the staff, the comfortable rooms, and the support of others on different stages of this walk - it truly was a haven.
As John grew stronger, it was time to make plans for home. James and I made the journey back by car and ferry yesterday - it was a long trip, but at last the distant shores drew near and soon we were driving home past those familiar horizons, in the fantastic midsummer light. John was flown home this afternoon, so we were waiting to pick him up at the airport.
It is just great to be back home - sitting round our kitchen table, eating good food and just catching our breath. Finding that despite all that is going on, we are still the same people - the same family...
Thank you all again for your love and support - every comment and message has been cherished by us all. xxx