New Year 2018

It’s a brand new year, so here’s offering you all my best wishes for 2018 and my thanks for your support in person, through correspondence, and on social media, which has been my main form of contact these past few months.

Having failed to send out a Christmas message due to my health issues, now it’s high time I updated you on my situation, especially as right now, I’m enjoying a good few days, helping provide me with a positive start to the year.

New Year 2018

The Aravis mountain range in Haute-Savoie in the autumn © Wink Lorch

Although we are now based in London we were able to spend a couple of weeks at our French home in early October, admiring the mountains’ autumn clothing.

From mid-October the furthest I managed to venture was to medical appointments and occasional forays to the local Yurt Café in Limehouse or once to the Victoria Park Market. Today I managed half an hour in The Narrow pub, so a New Year victory of sorts.

New Year 2018

The cosy Yurt Café © Brett Jones

Becoming a semi-recluse was forced upon me by pain when sitting down or bending, something we all take too easily for granted. Short walks have been fine, but for a while only being supine provided real relief.

It became obvious that the new treatments I was given, which I wrote about in September, were not addressing the pain from my Metastatic Prostate Cancer. So, at the end of November the oncology department at Bart’s Hospital decided to admit me for further investigations.

After a few days, I agreed for the team to take my treatment a stage further with the start of a course of Chemotherapy, mainly to help with the pain control. The plan is to continue this treatment on a 3-weekly cycle until March, coming into Bart’s as an outpatient.

So far, the journey has been up and down, as everyone warns about chemotherapy treatments – I managed to catch mild pneumonia, involving another short hospital admission before Christmas, and more recently, I found my taste buds disappeared making eating and drinking difficult.

But, overall, I have been in less pain and sleeping well as the pain drugs were also adjusted.

New Year 2018

The Bart’s Christmas tree © Brett Jones

Our National Health Service is a national treasure, albeit with some imperfections, and the care and attention the staff give to me, and patients everywhere, is tip-top. But, during our lifetimes we all must help ourselves as well – our bodies are precious, and we must look after them as best we can.

I am receiving great assistance and support from St. Joseph’s Hospice, Hackney, which among other help organised for an occupational therapist to visit supplying me with a variety of useful aids to make my days and nights more comfortable. Most importantly St. Joseph’s provide an advice line and a wonderful consultant nurse, who has time – that most rare commodity – to talk through problems and to advise. All these services are provided free of charge – as are most other health services in the UK; the hospice is funded part by the NHS and part by charitable donations.

Family and friends, of course, are loving and supportive as well. I am lucky to be able to live with my cancer cradled by all this care.

I enjoy social media, particularly Facebook, where I can easily participate in the big world outside, continuing to share my own photos from my limited excursions. I have made it a policy not to share anything about my illness on social media, hence why I’ve decided to write about it here on occasional posts. Please excuse the lack of wine and travel posts – there are thousands out there that can fill your reading gap and, after all, this remains my very personal blog.

Even if what is going on around us can be particularly unpleasant and, at times, an unconscionable mess, communicating with friends of all ages the world over, gives hope for a better future in 2018 and beyond.

New Year 2018

On my way in 2018 at The Narrow, Limehouse! ©Wink Lorch

Victoria Park Market

It was Sunday, sunny and we were hungry.

Having missed visiting the Victoria Park Market over the last few weekends, I was envious of Wink’s weekly foray a couple of miles north of us but always excited as she returned with a selection of delicious foods. As we unloaded the bags I was reminded of unpacking Santa Claus’ stocking early, too early, on Christmas morning.

Having taken some prophylactic painkillers, and a pillow to make the raked car seat more comfortable, we drove ten minutes to park near the entrance to the handsome Victoria Park, crossed the Grand Union canal to reach the market where stalls loaded with all sorts enticing foods and smiles lured us in.

Victoria Park Market

The first van greeted us with Tea and Crumpets.

Victoria Park Market

Victoria Park Market

Crumpets served, Good and Proper, with marmite and cheese.

Victoria Park Market

And talking of correctness, the Welsh Rarebit recipe is spot on.

Victoria Park Market

Buns lined up for real Burgers.

Victoria Park Market

Salty Loins, better than Bacon Butty.

Victoria Park Market

See what’s cooking at Dookies Grill.

Victoria Park Market

Organic mulled wine – naturally accompanies the tasty food.

Victoria Park Market

Now it was time to stock the larder.

Choosing from a boat load of fresh fish.

Victoria Park Market

Bone broth, just what I need; the Victorian answer to Sudafed.

Victoria Park MarketVictoria Park Market

The bakers.

Victoria Park Market

Victoria Park Market

Be game – brace, brace, from Pick’s Organic Farm.Victoria Park Market

Colourful tomatoes from the Isle of Wight.

Victoria Park Market

Cakes, pastries, pasteles abound – pop in to Popina’s,

Victoria Park Market

Galeta entices too.

Victoria Park Market

And, to finish off, Get Fudged!

Victoria Park Market

With bags full of foodie delights and delighted I lasted the course, we returned home, to relive the pleasure when we unpacked the bags after our market shop.

 

All photos ©️Brett Jones

A Personal Update

Some of you may remember that nearly eight years ago on 18th September 2009, I spent an hour on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square where I was one of the 2,400 individuals who participated in Antony Gormley’s splendid One and Other Project.

Resplendent in gold pants and gold cape I was able to talk about two things close to my heart: raising awareness of prostate cancer and the enjoyment of wine.

A Personal Update

Everyone knows of my love of wine but not everyone knows that in 2005 I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, discovered by taking regular PSA blood tests.  I was given a 2-month radiotherapy course and regular hormone treatment until 2008 and this kept the cancer at bay.

During that time, I felt no pain nor discomfort, and I continued to take a regular PSA blood test which remained comfortingly very low for several years. With annual consultant appointments my condition was monitored so the cancer remained very much at the back of my mind.

However, last year, the PSA started to rise again and I began suffering from severe lower back pain. Scans this time last year showed that the prostate cancer had flared up again and was categorised as advanced or metastatic prostate cancer, since it had entered very slightly into the base of my spine.

I received a big dose of radiotherapy and re-started 3-monthly hormone injections to reduce the pain and to control the spread of the prostate cancer, with regular PSA tests to monitor this.

Official retirement?

The return of my cancer in its non-curable form encouraged me to make some changes. So, I have stopped my wine club and wine sales in general and only rarely do wine talks. However, this year I have been travelling widely with Wink in the French Alps wine regions in preparation for her new book. And, I invested in a new camera to contribute better photos for the book, too. Photography continues to give me huge enjoyment.

A Personal Update

Vineyards above Jongieux, Savoie

For the last eleven months I was doing fine, though needing to rest now and then in the day, but suffering little pain or discomfort. But, from mid-August I started suffering pains again and it turned out that my PSA was going up.

At the end of August I spent four days in hospital in the Cancer Unit of Bart’s, London. They managed the pain and I had another scan which showed an increase of the bone metastases but fortunately no serious damage. I have started a series of bone-strengthening treatment and the hormone treatment has also been changed.

Now back home, I am able to do everything normally although I am now getting tired more often during the day, still suffering some pain and rattling with different medicaments.

Please accept my apologies if I have given you too much information but I did want to keep you informed and share some explanations. And for my male readers over 45, if you haven’t already, please do discuss with your doctor getting regular PSA tests.

As long as I can control my pain the future holds no fear for me, I am positive and will continue to enjoy life in the company of family and good friends. Although my medical care is in London, I plan to continue spending time at our home in the French Alps, and perhaps even enjoy some other travel adventures.

Ah, and I can enjoy my daily glass of wine (size of glass has not been specified…) which I will sniff, swirl, slurp and sip with my habitual relish.

A Personal Update

Santé!

Resolutions for 2017

Looking back to this time last year I see that I have managed to keep some of my new year resolutions. As they were quite broad and not overly optimistic, it made the task easier. Although 2016 turned out to be a year of unpleasant surprises, upsets and many disappointments it wasn’t all bad. So with a backward glance here are my resolutions for 2017, in no particular order of importance.

Resolutions for 2017Be happy

Resolutions for 2017Aspire to great heights

Resolutions for 2017Enjoy great heights

Resolutions for 2017Relax at great heights

Resolutions for 2017Chill at great heights Resolutions for 2017Keep taking the tablets

Resolutions for 2017Relish the caresses

Resolutions for 2017Love without measure

Resolutions for 2017Grow a beard?

Resolutions for 2017Love wine

Resolutions for 2017Embrace wine

Enjoy wine with friends

Resolutions for 2017Respect wine

Resolutions for 2017Discover rare grape varieties

Resolutions for 2017Be natural

Resolutions for 2017Never stop learning about wine

Resolutions for 2017Choose wine carefully

Resolutions for 2017Grow a beard?

Resolutions for 2017Dress correctly to ski

Resolutions for 2017Ski carefully

Resolutions for 2017Ski with friends

Travel in style Keep car in good working order

Resolutions for 2017Walk in the vineyards

Discover and explore different wine regions

Resolutions for 2017Keep an eye open for a goddess amidst the vines

Resolutions for 2017Discover lovely vignerons

Resolutions for 2017Relish achievement

Resolutions for 2017Be resourceful

Resolutions for 2017Be ready to be in the spotlight

Resolutions for 2017Be ready to be in the news

Resolutions for 2017Don’t wait till it’s too late…

Resolutions for 2017Keep an eye on convenience

Resolutions for 2017Keep in touch with friends all over the world

Resolutions for 2017Enjoy live music

Resolutions for 2017Enjoy live sport

Resolutions for 2017Enjoy live theatre

Resolutions for 2017Enjoy art galleries

Resolutions for 2017Enjoy dance

Resolutions for 2017Honour our forefathers

Resolutions for 2017Honour the fallen

Resolutions for 2017Celebrate great, brave men

Resolutions for 2017Love the EU

Resolutions for 2017Keep up the charity work

Resolutions for 2017Enjoy English with pleasure

Resolutions for 2017Enjoy fooding

Resolutions for 2017Be saucy

Resolutions for 2017Eat healthy

Resolutions for 2017Enjoy food alfresco

Resolutions for 2017Enjoy formal meals

Resolutions for 2017Fall in love with great chefs

Resolutions for 2017Discover different restaurants

Resolutions for 2017Enjoy lunch on a shady terrace

Resolutions for 2017Enjoy lunch by the sea

Resolutions for 2017Don’t overdo it

Resolutions for 2017Say yes to pizza

Resolutions for 2017Enjoy dessert, occasionally

Resolutions for 2017But beware false blandishments

Resolutions for 2017Never forget the nap after lunch. And grow a beard?

Resolutions for 2017Read more

Resolutions for 2017Enjoy gardening

Resolutions for 2017Look for bluebells

Resolutions for 2017Love to be beside the sea

Resolutions for 2017Love to be in London

Resolutions for 2017Keep an eye on the Fourth Plinth

Resolutions for 2017Travel  North

Resolutions for 2017Enjoy sunrise

Resolutions for 2017Be mooved at sunset

Resolutions for 2017Enjoy a glass of wine at dusk

Resolutions for 2017Embrace the full moon

Resolutions for 2017Maintain good habits

Resolutions for 2017Be colourful

Resolutions for 2017Be cheerful

Resolutions for 2017Make new friends

Resolutions for 2017Enjoy old friends from faraway places

Resolutions for 2017Be courageous

Resolutions for 2017Do more

Resolutions for 2017Onwards and upwards

Resolutions for 2017I wish you a Happy, Healthy New Year!

Lake Festival in the Aravis

Lake Festival in the Aravis

Le Lac de la Cour, Chinaillon

In the meadows above us in Chinaillon there are a couple of man-made lakes which store the water which is used, in the winter, to make artificial snow. However in the summer one of the lakes is put to good use for recreation, fishing and sailing. And for La Fête du Lac – a Lake Festival in the Aravis.

Lake Festival in the AravisAlthough you can walk up to the lake it is fun to take the chair lift.

Lake Festival in the AravisKeen mountain bikers take their bicycles with them on the chair lift and use the special bike tracks.

Lake Festival in the AravisAs with skiing there is a blue run and the gentler green track – however watch out for cows!

Lake Festival in the AravisThe short walk down to the lake.

Lake Festival in the AravisAs with many of the events in Le Grand Bornand there are welcoming smiles and an aperitif.

Lake Festival in the AravisPeople started to arrive and make themselves comfortable around the lake.

Lake Festival in the AravisLake Festival in the AravisThere was a joyful bonus with music by the Flutes du Soleil, a group of flautists from the UK who have visited Chinaillon for a week in summer for the last few years to study, relax and share their talent.

Lake Festival in the AravisTime for a glass of wine,  a beer or a soft drink.

Lake Festival in the AravisThere was a short queue to get our food.

Lake Festival in the AravisLocal fare served seriously.

160726.115 Fête du Lac, Chinaillon_blogTrays are provided.

Time to dine and raise a glass to a lovely evening.

Lake Festival in the AravisLake Festival in the AravisLake Festival in the AravisTime to enjoy the lake and its reflections.

Lake Festival in the AravisTime to paddle.

Lake Festival in the AravisEven time for a game of cards.

Lake Festival in the AravisAs dusk started to fall lily candles floated on the lake.

Lake Festival in the AravisA chance to buy a marshmallow kebab and a Génépi, the local digestif.

Lake Festival in the AravisToasting the marshmallows on braziers.

Lake Festival in the AravisLake Festival in the AravisLake Festival in the AravisTowards the end of the evening sky lanterns were lit to send wishes of hope and friendship.

Lake Festival in the AravisAll too soon the evening Lake Festival in the Aravis was over and torches were lit for the walk back down to the village.

Lake Festival in the AravisThis was the first of two Fêtes du Lac organised by the shopkeepers of Chinaillon who worked hard a lovely and special evening in their lovely part of the world. Merci beaucoup!

The second Fête du Lac will be on Tuesday August 9th and I look forward to visiting again with my family, who will be staying in Chinaillon that week.