Monday 28 March 2011

More of the Same

Photos Copyright: Maggie May

In my last post I had an interesting comment from Merry Weather because she had taken the time to visit my link about the Gibb's Family, who had founded Tyntesfield. She said that the stately home had been founded by bird poo! She was right. All the Gibbs' money had come from seagull poo, known locally as guano, imported from South America and all of the estate grounds were fertilised with it.
It makes a change finding a wealthy family whose money hadn't been made from the slave trade. Bird Poo is so much more acceptable and I like that idea very much. They used natural resources and were very much *greener* than we would have imagined.

You can see that the Camelias are still thriving! I took photos of other coloured Camelias but noticed that most of them had Audrey's thumb next to the bloom because she did insist on holding the flower head in the right position for me. You might remember from my last post that I went to Tyntesfield with my friend, Audrey and my son, Sam.

This must have been a very busy courtyard at one time
and to the left of this photo there was quite a sturdy but small rusted cage against a wall. I wonder what type of creature was cooped up in that unhappy environment? The Victorians were not noted for their kindness to wild animals. I imagine it to be some kind of exotic cat or a bear or possibly a chimpanzee.
I couldn't find a reference to this cage in any of the literature that was provided by the National Trust who own the estate now. Unfortunately, I didn't take a photo of it.

Was this the way to a possible dungeon, I wonder? Well, I wasn't going down there to find out. However, it does look dank and dark.

These articles were left in what must have been the servants' quarters. That boiler was obviously used for washing the clothes. My mother had a slightly more modern one when I was a child.

I love taking photos through little hidey-holes like this one in the picture below.

Hope you enjoyed another taste of Tyntesfield Estate.

Thursday 24 March 2011

Tyntesfield Estate

Photos Copyright: Maggie May

I recently visited Tyntesfield Estate which is owned by the National Trust. I was accompanied by my friend Audrey, and my son, Sam.

Tyntesfield is about 8 miles from Bristol and overlooks the Yeo Valley. It is in lovely grounds and there is ongoing renovation being done but not in an intrusive way.
Tyntesfield is a Victorian estate and has quite a history that is worth reading about and if you have the time, you can visit here.

Unfortunately we decided to go on a Thursday only to discover that the house and the priory are not open to the public on Thursdays or Fridays. However, we decided to go round the grounds which were vast with lovely views overlooking the valley. In fact, it would be quite easy to spend a day just looking round the lovely gardens, walking along the paths that weave through woodland and countryside. It would probably not be possible to see everything in a day.

This is one of a pair of lions that stands at each side of the steps that lead up to the formal gardens.

The Priory is quite Gothic in design with many little gargoyles looking down at us. A bit far away to zoom right in with my camera.

Going back to the formal gardens, this walkway will look beautiful later on in the year when the plants and flowers will cover these archways into a solid roof. Maybe it will take a few years to get to that stage but I would definitely like to go back and see just what does grow there.

This is one of two little summerhouses that stand at each end of the formal garden and I think these were my favourite things about this garden. I loved the tiles and the benches that looked so inviting. There were plenty of little places to sit for people with weary feet.
Sitting on these benches gives one a view of the formal gardens in the picture below. It is very restful and a soothing place to be.
Yes, I would definitely go again and the weather was just perfect on the day that we visited.

Saturday 19 March 2011

Spring Has Sprung

Photos Copyright: Maggie May

It is recognised globally, that the British are known for talking about the weather. Maybe it is to do with the fact that our climate is so variable that there is much to talk about. Its never the same from one day to the next and when I used to work in the school playground, I took a waterproof jacket, hat, scarf and gloves, as well as sunglasses and sun hat. That just about covered anything that our climate could throw at me.

I took some of these photos last week when we had a wonderfully warm, sunny day. Then just as I was about to post the photos, it changed back to Winter again and everything seemed very wet and drab and dreary.
However, today we are experiencing warm sunshine again.

The first two pictures were taken on one of my walks and I couldn't resist taking a photo of the cherry blossom flowers and the forsythia.
So far, I haven't been challenged about taking photos of other peoples' plants but I often wonder if that will happen one day.

This is from a corner that I have in my own garden of Pulmonaria. I am very fond of these little flowers that are among the first to appear after snowdrops and crocus. They hang their little heads, making it impossible for someone like me to get down low enough to take a photo of the underneath. I might never get up again if I was to lie down for a better view.

I have several tubs of miniature daffodils quite near to the house and these do bring cheer as I can look at them through the window if the weather isn't good.
The same with primulas that seem to withstand some neglect and come up time and time again.

Some of you might be wondering about my health. All I can say is, that I am still waiting for a CT scan and am not in any real pain.
Similarly, you might be wondering what became of the extended family in Japan. News from the grandparents tells that they are all reported safe but some of them may have lost homes.

In Tokyo and all the surrounding towns, the electricity is now rationed by power cuts and there isn't the usual selection of staple foods in the shops.
There is still much concern about the Nuclear problems but the good news is, that a person has been found alive and well in the debris, after eight days of searching.
That makes the rescue service seem well worthwhile, doesn't it?

Tuesday 15 March 2011

Rabbits' Play Time

Photos Copyright: Maggie May

"Ash, there's grass on this tube."
"Mmmmmmh. I know Lily. Its delicious.Wish I could get up to top bits where theres more of it."

"I'm thinking, Lily how to get to the top of that tube.You're not going to sleep again are you?
Come and listen to me or I won't be your friend."

"I think I have the answer, Ash. Come and have a go at jumping on this tube. Come on, come on. Whats the matter with you?"

"I'm busy eating my sea grass mat, Lily. Can't be bothered just now."

"Viola! I knew I could do it, Ash. Just a question of balance. Come and join me. Its great fun."

"Lily, you're not sleeping again are you? I guess that was hard work, but I'm a bit fed up with you right now. I was beginning to have fun. I guess I will have to eat my sea grass mat by myself because you look as though you're about to drop off, as usual."

Saturday 12 March 2011

A Natural Disaster.

Photo Copyright: Maggie May

My granddaughters were born in Japan and have memories of a life there before they came to England. They obviously love their Japanese grandparents and are in regular contact via Skype.

We were totally dismayed when we woke up on Friday to the terrible news that a mammoth earthquake, the largest ever to be recorded, had not only shaken Tokyo, but had caused a 30ft tsunami to devastate part of the city of Sendai on the north east coast of Japan.
My ex daughter in law, Kaiko has many relatives in Sendai.

We knew that the grandparents and Kaiko's sister were safe. They work in Tokyo but live in another city just south of it. They had managed to Skype that they were well but that they were very worried about all the outer members of the family, aunties, uncles and cousins.
As all the trains stopped in Tokyo and there was no transport of any kind, Kaiko's sister had to trek a long way to her home and this took several hours.
However, they were safe.

As my granddaughters watched the terrible scenes on TV, (they were everywhere and we really couldn't avoid seeing some of it), they were extremely worried about their grand parents but this morning they talked to them via Skype. Their minds have been put at rest.

As for the relatives in Sendai, the grandparents think they are alright because they shouldn't have been near the sea at that time. However, because there are no phone signals or electricity, there is no communication and there is also the worry about their welfare. Basic things like food and water, not to mention the problem with the power stations in the surrounding areas.

I know that there will be help going out to them from other countries and the Japanese are well able to help themselves as they have had many calamities and recovered from those, but it is a bit chilling for us to see all this in a land where we have family links and where I visited and had very happy memories not so long ago.
I guess Japan will always be a bit close to my heart.
I am so glad my immediate family are in England though.

I have seen the Consultant at the hospital that I attend and I am now waiting for a CT scan. However, they seem very pleased with me and think that I am not at all typical of most people with CUP (unknown primary) and that the terrible statistics of that diagnosis, should not be taken by me. They stressed that I am very unusual in my treatment and recovery and the way I am at present. I am not in pain at the moment and feel quite well.
I am in a good position, they say, so I have to be optimistic.

Tuesday 8 March 2011

Smaller Than One Centimetre

One of the horrible things about having a secondary cancer of an unknown primary (CUP), is that no one has any real idea where it started. Nothing showed up on a CT scan because it was probably smaller than 1 cm which is the smallest sized tumour that can show up on a scan.
So where was this tumour then?
My body may well have fought the Primary cancer off but been unable to cope with the Secondary.
Each CUP sufferer has a different diagnosis and it seems that no two people present in exactly the same way. That is why I have felt so isolated because there is no one else who I can identify with.
There are no answers to my questions and my searching mind.

It was only by having a biopsy of the Secondary Cancer (in my case a gland in the groin) that anyone had a realistic idea what type of cancer it was, though where it came from is still a mystery. The sample was studied under a microscope and the experts were able to recognise a few pointers. In my case, it appeared to be of Ovarian type.
However nothing showed up on the ovaries and the cancer appeared to be in the peritonium.
I responded to the treatment of Ovarian Cancer quite quickly and have been having 3 monthly checks ever since my chemotherapy ended in the second week of April, this year.

The problem is, that before my cancer was discovered, I was suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) for many years. The symptoms of IBS can be similar to the symptoms of Ovarian Cancer but because I had IBS symptoms for so long, I assumed that it couldn't have been cancer related.

Well what is all this about, you may ask? The problem is, I have recently been suffering from the pain in the lower abdomen that I used to suffer from before cancer was even suspected. This has gone on for a short while and because I can't be sure which condition is which, I have had to ring my Oncology nurse to tell her what has happened. She has arranged for me to be seen this week and I dare say there will be scans to follow.
If *it* has returned again, then I am truly disappointed that I didn't get a longer remission. So I am pinning all my hopes on Irritable Bowel Syndrome. I never thought I would see the day when I wanted this condition as it really isn't pleasant.
Last week I was in considerable pain but the last few days have been pain free.

I guess only time will tell what is going on in my body but in the meantime, I am left with the usual uncertainty that is not easy to deal with. I guess it will always be like this for me now and I wonder if I will ever get used to it?

Sunday 6 March 2011

The New Pier

Photos Copyright: Maggie May

I expect many people from South West of England/Wales, remember the terrible news of the Weston Super Mare Pier burning down in July 2008.
I went there shortly after the event and managed to get close enough to take this photo.
It was a terrible thing to see.
Not that I could say that piers are that important in my life but I think it was an asset to this seaside town and I had known it since I was a small child when I used to go there on Sunday School outings.

Over the next couple of years, the old pier was dismantled, strengthened and widened.

Progress seemed to be very slow and whenever we visited Weston, we took the occasional photo but thought that it would never get finished.

However, when we revisited a few weeks ago after a very long time without going there, I was able to snap the photo below and think it is a definite improvement.

Tuesday 1 March 2011

The Inter-Varsity Folk Festival

Photos Copyright: Maggie May

Everywhere we went in the central area of Bristol last Saturday, there seemed to be crowds of people watching.
What were they watching?

There were people of all ages and descriptions milling around in very unusual outfits.
There was music that seemed to be round every corner. The sound of bells and drums and violins.

It was the Inter-Varsity Folk Dance Festival Morris Dancing that was being held in Bristol this year.
As our son, Sam, is a Morris Dancer and my daughter, who was visiting us and had never seen her brother dance, we all decided to go with her and the four grand children to watch.

It seemed that where ever we went, there was a display of dancing going on. It was spread out throughout the city centre. Each group was very different one from another in dress and style, but the dances were similar. Some of it was really spectacular and I wish I had taken photos of them in action. At the time I seemed to be caught up with watching and didn't think to snap the dancers.
People had come from many areas of England to take part in this festival and it was very enjoyable to watch. However, the only thing that we could have done with, was some warmer weather because, typical of the half term, it had turned very cold and windy but at least it didn't rain. That would have really spoilt everything.