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


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.








Tragedy on the Fourth Plinth

Tragedy on the Fourth PlinthIn 2009 I was lucky to be selected to stand on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square in the heart of London as one of 2,400 participants representing every region of the UK who spent an hour alone on the empty plinth in Trafalgar Square during the 100 days and nights of the live artwork by sculptor Antony Gormley, One & Other.

It gave me the opportunity to talk about two things close to my heart: raising awareness of prostate cancer and the enjoyment of wine. I was even more excited when the Prostate UK charity suggested I wear gold pants and gold cape – just the garb to brighten up an early autumn evening up high in the heart of London…
A few years have passed since then until One and Another Beast took the stand, encouraging a selection of animals to stand on the Fourth Plinth.

Unfortunately the tragedy on the Fourth Plinth happened when the Horse replaced the Lion, who took umbrage and allowed no-one to approach the installation, not even to feed the poor beast.

This is the sad result of this unfortunate event:

Tragedy on the Fourth PlinthAt least the brave horse is still standing…

Resolutions for 2016

Ah, New Year resolutions. I make a few every year at this time and, amazingly, I find I have kept some of them. Inspired by happy memories of our nine month stay in New Zealand I suggest some resolutions for 2016, in no particular order of importance.

Resolutions for 2016Travel and explore new paths

Resolutions for 2016Relax when you get there

Resolutions for 2016Enjoy the view

Resolutions for 2016Build something

Resolutions for 2016Read more

Resolutions for 2016Don’t be boringResolutions for 2016Be encouraged

Resolutions for 2016Share

Resolutions for 2016Be brave and you’ll get across

Resolutions for 2016Discover variety, and be charitable

Resolutions for 2016Ignore false blandishments

Resolutions for 2016Seek and ye shall find

Resolutions for 2016Keep looking

Resolutions for 2016Heed good advice

Resolutions for 2016Step gingerly

Resolutions for 2016Or just take the plunge

Resolutions for 2016Seize opportunities

Resolutions for 2016Go to the beach

Resolutions for 2016Splash in the sea

Resolutions for 2016Be busy

Resolutions for 2016Don’t quit

Resolutions for 2016Enjoy the company of good friends

Resolutions for 2016Make new friends in high places

Resolutions for 2016Get the best…

Resolutions for 2016Learn more

Resolutions for 2016Discover good food and wine

Resolutions for 2016Dine in style

Resolutions for 2016And relish the simple things

Resolutions for 2016Be healthy, spicy and fruity

Resolutions for 2016Discover nature in the city

Resolutions for 2016Be colourful

Resolutions for 2016Always cook with wine

Resolutions for 2016Love like bread

Resolutions for 2016Applaud the beauty of sunset

Resolutions for 2016I raise my glass to a Happy, Healthy New Year and its far horizons!