• Pages

  • comments

    If you have popped over here from my facebook page could you please add comments in the blog rather than on the link on facebook itself. I dont want to worry YD unnecessarily Thanks. You can now use your facebook log in so you dont need to enter extra details if you like
  • All about Gertrude

    Gertrude is the name we decided to call my cancerous breast hence the title of this blog. Although I had to keep my breast through chemo and radiation due to the nature of IBC - once it 'blew up' it no longer looked like my breast and I couldn't wait to get rid of it. Calling it Gertrude was a way of seperating it from myself. This main page is where I write about the general goings on that relate to Gertrude, there is another page that are more a diary of treatments etc This blog is a public blog so although I am being very honest about my battle with Gertrude I have "changed names to protect the innocent" - because everyone can see it if you write comments on the blog pages please use the same abbreviations for other family member or friends that I do. Please feel free to ask questions if you want clarification because then other people who might have been wondering the same thing can read your question and our answers.
  • Abbreviations

    OH- Other Half (Hubby), OD- Oldest Daughter, MD- Middle Daugher, YD- Youngest Daughter, SB- soulja boi MD's fiance in the army (now ex fiance), OD's R OD's partner, BS- Breast surgeon whose initials just happen to be BS as well, BC- our GP (family doctor), Dr H- my medical oncologist, all other friends family etc will be referred to as initials etc
  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 60 other followers

  • visitors

  • SUSAN’S ARMY

    No Princess Alone button

Ok – enough of the whining

I admit the last two posts have made me feel like a right ‘moaning minnie’.  I let fatigue, frustration, and ‘female functions’ get the best of me, and I don’t like the person I turn into when I’m like that. 

I don’t like wasting my time and energy feeling like that, but sometimes I’m just too tired to stop myself.

Writing about it on the blog helps me to let it go though, so every so often I am afraid I am going to subject you to some venting of what’s in my head.  (as I wrote that I got a visual of me with my head blowing up -face bright red and steam coming out my ears)

Yesterday was a quiet day, I went out with OH for a short time, but had to cut it short as I felt a little woozy.  I rested the remainder of the day and went to bed at the very early hour (for me) of 8.30pm and slept til 6.30am this morning.  I could have slept longer but I have to get up to have breakfast and my morning chemo pills.

This coming week is the last classes for this semester at Uni and then I have approximately 3 weeks before one exam for one of my papers (Whanau-Family-Aiga Practice). The other is totally internally asssessed by assignments and quizzes (Law and the State in Social Work)  After my exam I have approximately a month before the next semester starts and I know I will make use of this time both resting and also trying to get some gentle exercise to build up my fitness.(and hopefully fitting in that trip to Dreamworld with YD).

The other thing I may be fitting in, in the next couple of months, is around the video interview  I did for Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition (BCAC) – they are launching the video series at the  beginning of July where my story will be edited and put with others to tell the stories of diagnoses, treatment, emotional impact etc.  I have been asked if I will be one of the ‘media faces’ for the launch .  And of course I have said ‘YES!’.  I don’t know exactly how much this will entail but you all can say I knew her before she was ‘famous’ LOL!!  😀 ( as I was writng this post – the BCAC comms person has just rung to talk to me about being included  in the press releases she is putting together)

Talking about being famous – not that I am 🙂 – I have satisfied my ‘inner geek’ by adding a couple of different statistic counters to my blog.  WordPress has its own counter but tends to count page visits so gives me an inflated total of actual visitors.  I have added Clustrmap – just because its pretty – and gives me a visual of where my readers come from. If you click on the little map on the right it will  give you a bigger map.  Thanks to my friendships with other IBC or BC people I actually have more American readers than NZers.  Statcounter (the purple numeric  counter under the map ) breaks down the statistics even more and tells me how many repeat visitors and new visitors I have.  All of this intrigues me, I didn’t write to be read by other than my family and friends to start with,  but it is nice knowing that what I write is striking a chord with other people all over the world from me sitting here in New Zealand.

Advertisements

You’re doing really great…but

I had my oncology assessment appointment yesterday to get my next cycle of Xeloda.

My tumour markers continue to fall really fast ….but

due to the increased side effects last round its a possibility if they get worse this round we may have to cut the dosage back

My liver function test markers are also improving really well….but

they want to do another scan to make sure what the blood tests are showing is what is actually happening because apparently even when the blood tests are good there can be more metastatic activity.

I should be fine to go to Australia like we are planning with YD…..but

could I put off booking until the scan result is back in case we need more tests or need to change chemo?

To say yesterday’s appointment left me a little pissed off and  frustrated would be an understatement.  It just reinforced all the stuff I try not to think too much about.  That controlling Gertrude is how I’m going to live the rest of my life, and that dictates what I can and can’t do to a large extent. ( although it could have been a touch of leftover PMS as well LOL)

But…

After more discussion with the doctor it was decided that regardless of what the scan shows we won’t change treatment (if it is even necessary) until August – that we will try and make YD’s trip (with Mummy) happen regardless.

I asked for more panadol so they gave me this supply (480 tablets) …I dont think I am going to run out anytime soon LOL

makes my 140 tablets of Xeloda supply look small

But…

Today has been a good day. even though it has been miserable weather.  Lots of positive things have happened today. 

I read a book that had nothing to do with ‘cancer’ or ‘social work’.

I bought myself some flowers, flowers always cheer me up

bright coloured lilies and aloestromeria

I made dinner… a slow cooking casserole that I put on this morning for consumption tonight … which is making the house smell delicious… all chicken and herby

I went to a ‘Sweet Louise’ meeting and actually met another recently diagnosed IBCer who lives only about 40 kms from me.  We were both rapt to meet someone else with IBC and are planning to meet up in a couple of weeks time.  She isn’t on the internet but I’m taking my laptop and mobile broadband t-stick out to show her some resources. 

The ‘Sweet Louise’ meeting was also good for just venting some of the frustrations  from yesterday and talking about life in general.  And because all the women have metastatic breast cancer – they get it.

the week that was

A week has gone by since I last posted.  Gee, doesn’t time fly when you are having fun.  Except I wasn’t, not all the time, anyway.

After writing this post about new doctors, I get a letter to give my next appointment times, which is tomorrow (to get my next lot of xeloda all going well). When I rang to confirm, which in itself is a bit weird because I usually just get an appointment card,  I enquired about which doctor I would be seeing.  to my surprise, the scheduler informed me I was back under Dr H.  Not that I mind that, but what was the previous visit about then?  The scheduler can only put it down to the person that had been doing the scheduling while she was away had got it wrong.  I am definitely supposed to be staying with Dr H.  Oh , you’ve got to love the vagaries of a public health system.

I have struggled this last week healthwise,  the chemo side-effects were kicking my butt, and I struggled with fatigue and that ‘pesky side effect’ – even when it was under control, there was residual ‘uncomfortableness’.  I slept a lot and struggled to do my last assignment due for Uni – which was due in yesterday.

I also struggled with the assignment – on intervention in a family violence scenario – as it pushed some of my personal historical emotional ‘buttons’.  It was hard to get my head into the necessary academic scholarly mindset and write purely from a objective point of view.  I got it in on time but I have to say it was probably one of the assignments I have struggled the most with.

The one redeeming feature of this last week has been the good news that OD and R have got engaged.  I will be Mother-of-the-Bride approximately this time next year  all going to plan.

OK and now for the TMI files – if you are a guy and reading this and don’t want to think about the inner workings of the female body –STOP READING NOW!!

ok – you have been warned! If you are still reading…..well…..

When I was first diagnosed in 2008 I was 45 years old and premenopausal,  my cancer isn’t hormone driven (i.e. it doesn’t feed/grow on estrogen or progesterone) so I have not been put on any hormone inhibitors.  My periods stopped after my second cycle of taxotere/herceptin back in August 2008 – I actually got my period the same day as the chemo infusion for my second cycle.  If you really want to feel absolutely crap, try that for a mix LOL.  I didn’t have another period for 22 months (June 2010) I had a few, then they stopped again in December last year.  Guess what arrived yesterday… along with excruciating cramps etc.  So how much is chemo side effects and how much is related to this? God only knows.  Quite frankly I would happily be menopausal at the moment.  Isn’t dealing with ongoing treatment for metastatic cancer enough?

I wrote about this because its  not something that is openly talked about.  If you are premenopausal and your cancer isn’t hormone driven – your doctors are as in the dark as you as to what effect chemo etc is going to have on this aspect of your natural cycles etc.

Active achievement

Just so you don’t think I have just been sitting around moping the last two weeks after the last two posts, I thought I would do a quick blog post before getting going on errands and assignments.

Even with the chemo side effects, I have managed to get to Uni every day that I should, I’ve got my assignments all in on time, including working with a group for a ‘Law and the State in Social Work’ in which I took on the task of formatting and finalising the final submission, as well as doing my analysis of an individual Act.  I chose the easier Act as I didn’t know for sure how the chemo would effect me and wanted to make sure I could be a constructive and useful part of the group never-the-less.  So that is why I volunteered to do the wrap up work, also it’s something I have done for years, desktop publishing of newsletters and other things has meant I am good at getting the formatting done fast and making sure it looks good and is cohesive. 

In regards to Uni also, even though studying and assignments wear me out more,  I have kept achieving the sort of marks I can be very proud of.  So far an ‘A-‘ and an ‘A+’ in the two assignments I’ve got back and consistent high marks in the weekly quizzes in our ‘Law’ paper.  So I’m feeling like I am really achieving something other  than ‘just’ being a ‘cancer patient’.

I ‘may’ have spent some time on facebook as well.  (Guilty admission – getting slightly addicted to a new ‘hidden object’ game)

I’ve gone out and about doing other activities too.  The latest of which  was a ‘date night’ to the movies with OH to see ‘ Source Code’.  Very good movie and I can recommend watching it if you liked ‘Inception’.

Sometimes what I write here will make out that my life is much more miserable than it actually is.  That is partly because I use this blog to process things so that when I go out into the world I can do so with a smile on my face and a spring in my step.  Which is what I will be doing as soon as I’ve published this post.  😀

Feeling the love

This was actually supposed to be the first of two companion pieces ‘Feeling the fear’  is the other one.  I had started to write this when I got the news from twitter about Sarah.  I no longer was in the right frame of mind to continue writing this post and wrote and posted ‘Feeling the fear’ instead.  For those of you who come here from my link on facebook and are thinking to yourselves that you didn’t see a link to that post – don’t worry there wasn’t one.  I didn’t want comments on FB about what I wrote.  Again I would reiterate that I would rather have comments here than on FB.

As you know I’ve been feeling a little sentimental and weepy lately.

But…

I feel loved.

Even when fear and darker thoughts crowd my mind, that is what pulls me through it.  I am loved by my family, OH supports me in everything I do, and my girls show they love me every single day.  Often it is not spoken but on Mother’s Day when MD put as her FB status ‘ I love you, Mum xox’ it made me feel really good.  Not all 23 yr olds have that relationship with their mother (and/or are willing to admit it to ‘the world’ on FB)  Likewise OD writes about me on her blog and I can feel the love there as well.  Even YD ends every phone call with ‘Love you’. 

Through this journey with “Gertrude”,  I have felt loved by my wider circle of family and friends and I think deeper and more meaningful relationships/friendships have developed because of it.

“And I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter,
“And I gave forgiveness I’d been denying.”

Are some of the lyrics from the Tim McGraw song I mentioned in ‘Feeling the fear’ and I think they have been true for me. 

I even feel loved and supported by my University classmates.  While I have made some very close friends there as well (AW, N, AE), there is also an underlying general message of support from all my classmates. EC randomly proclaims ” I love you, Jenny” and others show their support and caring in lots of other ways.  They are empathetic enough to know that we don’t talk about ‘Gertrude’ at Uni unless I bring it up, but show they care all the same without being overly sympathetic as I pointed out in this post.

I have a few older school or church youth group friends  from my teenage years like ‘the  MRD’,  R and K who let me know they are thinking of me and holding me close to their hearts.  (And this is 30 years since we were in high school)

I know everyday people love me, which for half my life I believed that not that many people would, if I let them see the real me.  This blog has allowed me to show who I really am and I now know I am loved for being exactly who I am, warts and all.

Love and support has also come in the shape  of the internet, other IBCers and other Breast Cancer survivors that I am friends with through the IBC mailing list, our IBC facebook group, other Breast Cancer bloggers, Facebook and twitter users.  Through all these avenues we become real friends as close as any real life support group as we share such intense shared experiences. 

As Shelli of “The Dirty Pink Underbelly” blog wrote as a comment on ‘Feeling the Fear’ on “Get Out Gertrude” “:-“I wonder if it brings me permanently down, further and further down, as my search for support has turned to seeing friends die. ”  We run the risk, especially amongst those of us that are metastatic, of seeing these friends die.

But as Judy of “Just Enjoy Him” wrote, when I crossposted the same post to “Mothers with Cancer” , about the loss of Sarah to our community:- “I am so very sad about Sarah’s death. Just so so sad. :( But I’m glad she was in my (online) life for the time that she was”. 

I totally agree with Judy. I would rather have these women in my life for a short time than not at all.  Having IBC and/or metastatic cancer can be a lonely experience, even if you are surrounded by friends that love you, because of the enormity of your situation, and that these other women understand.

Because of this love and support I have decided to become a little less anonymous.  As you can see above I used my real name, I am partially doing this as in a month or so I will be posting links to a video interview I did on having IBC,  where you will get to see the ‘real me’ .  I will still use abbreviations or pseudonyms for everyone else as I am still very aware that this is my story not theirs.

the shot below is one of the photos that I had taken when I went for my Body Shots  photo shoot – its amazing what they can do with lights and makeup

introducing the ‘real me’

I have just realised this is exactly the same outfit that I wore for my video LOL – it is one of my favourites

Feeling the fear

This post is dedicated to my friend Sarah who blogged with me on Mothers with Cancer, who died today.

We got to know each other through each other’s blogs and like me she was a bit of a twitter addict and we were also facebook friends.  Even though we never met (she lived in America – I live in New Zealand ) , through all these avenues she became part of my every day life – a real friend, and I will miss her.

 I had planned and written  this post in my head  already but with Sarah’s death, it makes it all the more real.

One of the reasons I don’t write more about advocating for change, education, research, a cure is because it requires me to quote facts and figures – statistics that in my every day life I try really hard not to think about. 

Sarah had metastatic breast cancer

The American bloggers I follow that went to the NBCC  advocacy conference  were given a presentation that gave some facts around that –

From The Cancer Culture Chronicles : In America 30% of people receiving a breast cancer diagnosis are known to go on to develop metastatic disease and metastatic disease accounts for 90% of breast cancer mortality with around 40,000 deaths a year

from Uneasy Pink came a link to a video presentation they were given  (click on the link – I dont have the capability to embed video in my blog) that states in 1991 (in America) the deaths from breast cancer were on average 117 a day , today it still averages 110  ( I would imagine that adjusted and worked out on a per capita basis New Zealand deaths from Breast Cancer would be about the same).

 That is 110 ‘Sarah’s (somebody’s wife, mother, sister or friend ) dying every day from metastatic breast cancer.

My friends Susan at Toddler Planet and Elizabeth at The Liberation of Persephone both IBC survivors like me, also wrote about these statistics and how we needed to change the conversation from awareness to really finding a cure.

Especially around IBC those facts and figures are even worse.  In a recent article Dr Christofanilli, one of the leading experts on Inflammatory Breast Cancer said “most women in whom IBC is diagnosed eventually experience a recurrence and die from the disease—highlighting the need for further research.”(approximately 75%),  and “is the survival of women with IBC in the 21st century similar to that of women with LABC? In a retrospective review of women in the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) registry, our group has recently shown that women with IBC who were treated between 2004 and 2007 in settings where a multidisciplinary disciplinary approach to treatment is considered standard of care, continue to have poorer survival outcomes when compared with women with non-IBC LABC”

Well the statistics pretty much suck, don’t they, for those of us with  IBC!!  We are living longer with newer targetted therapies  (5 year survival now 40%) but once we are metastatic that is based on  a control rather than cure model. At the moment we will, almost 90% of us of we that get metastases, eventually die of metastatic disease.

I live with the fear everyday that ‘the cure’ will not be found soon enough for me.  But I try not to let myself feel it – if I let myself feel that fear, I would not be able to function in my everyday life.  Be the wife, mother, student, friend that I want to be.

But sometimes I have to let myself feel it and face my own mortality. One of my friends sent me a song via email last week that made me feel sentimental and weepy for the first time since I found out about my liver. The song and the sentiment weren’t anything to do with my cancer but allowing myself to cry over it opened the flood gates and allowed me to be open to feeling the fear and other feelings I had been trying hard to suppress.  That song and two others were on my playlist a lot last Thursday and Friday and as I said to my cancer society counselor yesterday  I actually really liked the way it happened and I thought it was a good cathartic release and much more controlled than if I had let it build up longer.  It wasn’t like I let myself bawl my eyes out uncontrollably. I just let myself think about things and feel things and let the tears fall if they came.  I felt I was in a really good head space afterwards for letting it out. 

I have two songs I listen to when I want to allow myself to connect to those emotions. One is ‘The show must go on’ by Queen and the other while I am not a huge fan of country music is ‘ Live like you were dying’ By Tim McGraw  – both of them are about facing your own mortality and dealing with it, living the best life you can or living your life your way until the end.  Which is what I will try to do.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t sit around thinking I am going to die anytime soon, but I just acknowledge what is the most likely scenario for my death.  That I will in most probability not live to be an old lady. 

Today I cried again, for Sarah, who lived her life – loving it, finding the joy in the photos she took, her dog Finny (of who she tweeted many pics), her three children and her husband.  Loved your spirit Sarah and hope I can handle things with as much grace and hope and love as you did.

Edited to note what Laurie wrote when I cross-posted this post to Mothers with Cancer: it should be clarified that Sarah didn’t have IBC. Her cancer was, however, triple negative, which suffers from the same lack of awareness and lack of research funding as IBC and is (like IBC) also more likely to become metastatic than other forms of breast cancer.

The chemo caught up with me

After having such a busy weekend last week and a busy beginning of the week with Uni (although I had needed to have a nap on Tuesday afternoon).  I had my oncology visit on Wednesday and picked up my new batch of 140 tablets  to start taking on Thursday.  On Wednesday night I had been given free tickets to “The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber”  and as I love the ‘Phantom’ etc (as all my Youtube links on Facebook on Thursday will attest to),  even though it made for another late night, I couldn’t turn the tickets down and took SisM with me.  It was a wonderful performance of all my favourites, so I don’t regret going, but I think that is part of the reason that when I started to take my Xeloda on Thursday the side effects hit me harder.  The nausea and the other pesky side effect started making themselves known immediately, although I managed to get them under control with my trusty pills, it still added to my genearal lethargic mood and tiredness.  On Friday , after I had gone out in the car to run a few errands, I realised the hand-foot syndrome was more noticeable too as my hands were a bit reddened and sore from holding onto the steering wheel.  Just as well I have already made the decision to take the train as much as I can to Uni etc.  Today I got up at 6-30, had breakfast and my pills, and then went back to bed at 10 am and slept solidly until 1pm.  I am trying to listen to my body and when it told me ‘sleep’ that’s what I did.  It is now only 6pm and I feel like crawling back into bed again.  I will do so after dinner and my night-time chemo pills.  I’ve had to cancel dinner out tomorrow night for Mothers Day and we’ll just have takeaways at home. 

Added to that is that I have been in a bit of a weird mood emotionally, not down but a little sentimental and teary over a few things.  It’s been good and cathartic in a way to let myself feel that instead of pretending to hold it all inside.   The upshot of all this, is I just want to say to everyone “I’m glad you are in my life” whether you’re friends or family or fellow cancer survivors – you have all made me who I am today.  I have even had this conversation in person with OH, after being together 29 years (married for 27) we probably don’t talk about stuff like this often enough. 

In regards to my fellow cancer bloggers, I sometimes think I should make this blog more serious like some of theirs pushing education, advocacy and awareness of the need for more research.  I sometimes don’t think I am doing enough of that stuff, but this blog primarily is about both my battle with ‘Gertrude’ and rediscovering normality.  My normality sometimes includes being that advocate for change, for awareness, but a lot of the time my normality is just about my family, friends and activities -my ‘normal’ life or as normal as it can be with ‘Gertrude’ in it.

New Doctors and a free facial

Or how Xeloda (capecitabine) is working more ways than one.

I had my latest oncology appointment yesterday,  and to my surprise found out that I have a new head oncologist.  Well two actually Dr B and Dr O who jobshare sort of… Dr H is quite old and has a huge workload in both the private and public sector, so I can see why he might have to cut his caseload from time to time.  With being under a public health system you sometimes are at the vagaries of the system.  I saw Dr O yesterday and she said I would always see her or Dr B but that if I would rather stay with Dr H she would see what they could do to switch me back.  As much as I have liked being under Dr H – Dr O also seemed to really know her stuff aroung IBC and metastatic breast cancer and we struck up a very good rapport, she answered all my questions well and allayed some of my concerns.  She is quite happy for me to be a bit of  a assertive patient and  understands my need to be as much in control as I can be.  I got a really good vibe off her and so think I will stay and give her and Dr B a chance. 

I got my prescription for my new batch of Xeloda and started them this morning.  As all my side- effects are manageable  we have kept me at the higher dose.  The only signs of hand-foot syndrome have been a propensity for my feet to blister in a pair of new winter boots which shows that my skin on my feet is more sensitive. And last night when I went to a show my enthusiastic clapping left my hands more red and ‘sting-y’ than usual.  I had also had a bit of what I thought was a breakout on my face.

 I had  developed a couple of little pink patches on my forehead and a blistery sore spot above my lip which was definitely not a coldsore- when I showed them to my oncologist at yesterday’s appointment she explained what they were.  They were the reaction of precancerous cells to Xeloda. (the joys of growing up in the 70’s under an ozone hole and not caring about sunscreen)  These cells would have eventually lead to lead to the more benign basal cell skin cancer which is usually treated with a cream that contains 5 fu the same active ingredient as Xeloda. 

In cream form it is known as fluorouracil cream.  So I’m getting a two for one deal with my Xeloda not only is it working on my liver met but as the onc says my skin is going to come out of it better as well. 

In other good news, the Xeloda is working, even though it was only my first cycle my tumour markers have started to drop already.

What I really did next.

In my last post on my real life ‘Achieving things’ I said I was just about to get my mark back from an assignment I wrote two days after my oncologists visit where we discussed the fact ‘Gertrude’ was back and what that meant in the way of a plan, prognosis etc. 

My mind was going all over the place, and I also took a risk on what I chose to analyse as my subject matter for showing my understanding of applying family theories to a particular family.  We could do any TV or Movie family ….and I chose the family relationships in the ‘Shrek’ movies. “WHAT!!!” I hear you say. I had been worried that the lecturers would think I was being a bit sarcastic or jokey about the assignment and not taking it seriously, but as my marking lecturer said ‘this paper evidences a strong application of theory to the specific family – a key learning outcome of this assignment’, which means they took it the way I intended them to. And I got a good mark …  A- … I am pretty rapt with that mark, it could have been a lot worse.

I also achieved a lot this last weekend. I stayed up late to watch ‘THAT’ wedding on Friday night.  I had a meeting with the woman who is taking over the AFS newsletter, and handed it over to her on Saturday afternoon.  Saturday night I had a ‘date with MD, going with her to support her BFF, in the Miss World New Zealand contest.  Another very late night.   I then had to get up early for a ‘date’ with OD and niece S, and when I got home from that I then took YD out to the movies, meeting up with my Uni friend AW and her boy M,  to see ‘Hop’.  A very busy, tiring weekend but a very enjoyable one. 

Now the countdown begins to my 2nd chemo cycle.  I see my oncologist on Wednesday and as long as every thing checks out, I should be starting the same regime of tablets all over again on Thursday.

Living vicariously

First a little background – my old school friend ‘the MRD’ has recently relocated from Melbourne to London. He lives in inner London and has commented that reading my blogs and seeing my pictures of the New Zealand countryside and beaches on my blog made him miss being here, and as he wrote, I made him buy a car so they could get away for weekends in the English countryside.  “I am blaming you when M asks why we are spending thousands on a car that will only be used a few times a year; you are my scapegoat!”  He started sending me pictures and I told him I was keeping them in a folder named ‘vicarious England trips’  After reading my latest blog on what I had achieved lately I then got this email which he has given me permission to use on my blog – please enjoy my vicarious holiday in Cornwall as much as I did

Dear J, How could you forget your other Easter achievement – your vicarious holiday in Cornwall! You had such a great time but did find it a bit exhausting (you need to learn to pace yourself a bit more). It was quite a long drive down there (6 hours) but through quite picturesque countryside. It was quite surprising to see Stonehenge just sitting in a field next to the road but by that time you just wanted to get to Cornwall so just looked from the car (fortunately there was a bit of a traffic jam there so you could slow down to look). Why did you forget to take a photo? Oh well, like a true tourist you did manage to get lots of photos of the seaside village of Polperro where you stayed which felt just like a film-set for a Disney pirate movie. Yes, there were even real smugglers caves. You also enjoyed one of the local pubs and several of the local restaurants where dogs were welcomed. The pub had a sign welcoming dogs ‘with big spending owners’ but warned that all children needed a leash however. (tourist humour) 

On the first day you visited a very lovely historic house called Cotehele largely built between 1485 & 1560 for the Edgecumbe family but your camera later malfunctioned so you cannot yet access the photos off the memory disk (needs to go to camera-hospital). You will have to wait for those. The gardens were particularly spectacular with views out over a gorgeous valley. The Edgcumbe family later abandoned this house however to build an even larger and grander one nearby but you didn’t get time to visit that one – maybe another time.

 

You then went to Antony House where the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party scenes from the recent Alice in Wonderland movie were filmed. The house was built mainly in the 1700’s in very spectacular grounds looking down to the Tamar river. 
 

Anthony House grounds

The next day you went to the Eden Project which consists of some bio-domes built in an old quarry to promote environmentalism. You were quite disappointed however (sorry about that) as they really weren’t that exciting inside. Just large glasshouses really. You quickly left there regretting the 20 pounds entry fee – I want that back by the way) and went to the intriguingly titled Lost Gardens of Heligan which were much more interesting. These gardens had been established in the 1600s and maintained for almost 400 years but became neglected and overgrown after the world wars but were resurrected in the 1990s. They interestingly include a New Zealand garden section as well as a ‘jungle valley’. You did have very sore legs and tired feet after trudging up and down steep ‘jungle’ paths. 
 

Lost Gardens of Heligan

On Easter Sunday you drove down to the seaside town of St Ives near the bottom of Cornwall. It was a very hot day and there were lots of mad English-people crowded on the foreshore. You did manage to have a lovely rhubarb/custard ice-cream (or did you have the blackcurrant and cream one?) as well as a real Cornish pastie for lunch. You then drove through Penzance (no pirates on the beach) to Mousehole (no really! Pronounced mousehall); lots of tacky souvenirs there but you managed to resist them all. You then drove down to Landsend to see the very end of the island – not very exciting but something to say that you have done (like visiting Stewart Island). 
 

Lands End


On Monday you drove back to London along with thousands of others but you took the quicker route via the M4 and M5 which only took 5 hours in spite of the traffic. I hope you enjoyed your holiday! The photo may need to be spread over several emails due to their size. Polperro photos with this email.


Much love,


Your tired travelling companion!

I think I would have definitely tried the rhubarb and custard icecream. LOL!

I have to admit I quite like this idea of vicarious travel.  I think I might go on a vicarious sushi lunch date in Maryland with @Xtremeparnthood next?