I'm stuck indoors with a cold and no voice. Since I can't talk to anyone I thought I'd settle down and do some mail, e-mail and blog catching up.
First, my weight-loss report. I'm happy to say that I'm still loosing weight. I'm not going as fast as I'd hoped, but I'm still averaging about .75lb per week and that's not too bad. I've now lost about 16lb (1 stone, 2lb or 7.4kg). This is in 5 months so I'm doing about 3lb a month instead of the 4.5 I'd hoped for. I pulled some old jeans out of the back of the wardrobe and can just get them on now. They're fine around the hips, but my waist is still non-existent! So I've come down from a size 20(UK, 18 US) to size 18(UK, 16 US).
Secondly, we are now enfranchised for the first time in about 35 years. We voted in the local elections a couple of weeks ago. One of our candidates won, the other didn't! We were never able to vote in the U.S. although we were able to cast a vote in a local election in Hamilton back in about 1970.
Finally, the rest of the news:
We've just had a visit from my cousin Jaques, his partner Catherine and her daughter Flora. They flew over from Paris for a few days. It was lovely to see them. The last time I spent quality time with Jaques was when I was 19 and took the Orient Express to Istanbul to spend 6 weeks in Turkey with my family. Jaques was 15 then! I have only seen him briefly since then. He was kind enough to come to London for the funerals of my Mum and Dad.
Jaques and Catherine (shown resting in the garden after a busy day of trying to talk in French and English at the same time) are serious runners. On Saturday they did a 15km circular run through Little Stretton, up to the top of the Long Mynd (a climb of 1000ft or about 300m) and back through All Stretton. It only took them a couple of hours! Jaques is now in training for the Mont St. Michel marathon and Catherine is getting ready for some runs later in the summer.
While they were out, Flora and I went for a horse ride. We rode through fields full of sheep and lambs and woods full of bluebells. At one point the skies opened and we got soaked but it was still lovely. The birds were singing away, there was even a cuckoo calling in the woods, and the flowers were gorgeous.
In the picture on the left you can see Flora on her horse, Blueboy. Blueboy has some cow parseley hanging out of his mouth. Both our horses were chomping away at grass, trees, shrubs and roadside weeds as we walked along.
We spent Friday at Ironbridge visiting a couple of musuems in the World Heritage Site there. In addition to the Musuem of Iron, which we have visited before, we went to Enguinuity. This is a hands-on science museum. We all had a lot of fun playing with all the science "toys".
One in particular was really good. It was basically a flume with dams. You could regulate the water, make it rain, use various mechanisms to pump the water back to the top of the flume and generate electricity. We were running about from one end to the other, making waterfalls, controlling water wheels, getting it to rain, etc. etc. Here, you can see Flora using a wheel to pump water into the big red bucket.
Another energetic occupation was spinning a wheel to move a locomotive with the aid of pulleys and gears. John and I had a race with a couple of wall climbing robots - mine beat his to the top of the wall, but only just!
We had such a good time with Jaques, Catherine and Flora that we're planning a visit to Paris later this year. This will be my first proper visit to France and I'm really looking forward to it. After that we'll be visiting other friends in other parts of France and I hope this will be the beginning of our long-awaited travels in Europe. There are so many places I want to see and so many things I want to do.
Meanwhile, back at home the wildlife in the garden continues to delight us. Two weeks ago we had our first visit from a female pheasant with 3 chicks. The weather was dreadful, so she would gather them in every now and then and brood them to keep them warm. It was really delightful, when she stood up, to see the chicks dropping to the ground from under her wings and around her legs. We haven't seen the chicks for a week or so, so we're not sure if they've wandered off or if the fox has got them - could be a bummer.
Pinhead is still skulking about the garden, but Mr. M. chases him off whenever he sees him. It will be interesting to see what happens when the competition dies down at the end of the season. I expect the two of them will feed and walk around together during the late summer, fall and early winter. Then there will be another battle for dominance of the harem.
Last night we had our fist visit from a baby badger. He/she came with Mum and stayed very close the whole time. It looks like an adult only smaller (about half the size) and a bit fluffier. When they finished eating they ran off shoulder to shoulder touching all the time.
John has been working very hard in the garden. We decided to renovate the bed that's behind the house. It's a small sort-of-rectangular bed enclosed by the main house, the garage and the living room. In late summer it has a beautiful fuschia, but the rest of the year it looked rather scruffy. There is a "before" picture to the left. The "after" picture is below, although they are not taken from the same place.
John has dug a small pool for a wildlife "puddle" where the birds and animals can get a drink, he's also moved some plants, added some ornamental grasses and covered the whole lot with a mulch of pebbles. At first we were worried that the pebbles would stop some of the birds from finding goodies in the ground, but they have come back well and I don't think it's a problem. This is also a bed where we see bank-voles and wood-mice collecting seeds that have fallen from the bird feeders. They seem to have come back too, so we're happy that we haven't disturbed them too much.
I think that rushing to finish that bit of gardening and also working on Scrappies membership data-base and several mailings both for Scrappies and the Arts Festival made me a bit over-tired - that's why I have this cold. Hopefully, this last couple of days of rest will have me back up and about in double quick time. At times like this I realise that I am not the energetic woman I once was. The anti-cancer drugs are taking their toll in terms of fatigue and pain. I'm not complaining. I've been to sites on the web where others have far worse symptoms than me, so I'm happy to be doing very well most of the time. However, I can't wait till the summer of 2010 when I'll be able to stop taking the Arimidex and I hope that a lot of these silly aggravations will go away.
So that's all for now, folks! Please stay in touch!