Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Hard cheese and warring cats

Autumn is one of those times when it can be difficult to know how to dress appropriately for the weather. Add to this annual experience the novel one of chemo-induced baldness, and you will readily appreciate how, on Saturday 23 October 2010, I found myself putting on and taking off my new knitted beanies in order to regulate my temperature and general comfort, working our which one I preferred to wear around the house, which one inside, which one was better for sleeping in. It gave me a new appreciation of the role the head plays in personal heat management. No wonder we have hair up there.

Part of the Pheasantry Plantation in Bushy Park, with evidence of autumn.
The Czech for November is the beautiful, rather poetic, word listopad ("leaf-fall").

The prevailing outside temperatures were still fine for walking around in and so my wife, my daughter and I took a trip to nearby Bushy Park for a stroll in the Pheasantry Plantation, followed by carrot cake and coffee in the Welcome Centre where I had lunched with my sister-in-law nearly a month previously. On the walk we were impressed by the sight of a number of Beautyberry plants decked in their eponymous blue-purple fruits.

Beautyberry (Callicarpa).
Not native to these islands, but nevertheless doing well in this small corner of Greater London.
The berries are highly astringent, but can be made into jelly or wine.

Less pleasingly, I discovered that I could now only eat one of the hard cheeses I had bought the previous day (soft cheeses now being off-limits to immuno-suppressed me). The Ossau-Iraty (made from sheep milk in the Northern Basque Country of France) was safe, but not so the Comté (from the east of the greatest cheese nation in the world), as this was unpasteurised. Blast!

On Sunday 24 October I felt fine for a trip to church, but a bit of hoovering later in the day wore me out. I managed a bit of office work, compiling an email address list (yay!), and later relaxed by watching a new television dramatisation of The First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells.

From the 1964 film version of The First Men in the Moon.Professor Cavor (right) was played by the prolific comic character actor, Lionel Jeffries (1926-2010), seen here doing battle with an insect-like Selenite, about which I had a number of dreams after seeing this film at the age of nine.

A friend of mine, whose father was Polish, told me on this day of his efforts to look after the fabric of his family’s mausoleum in Poland, which was at risk from damp. I decided some time ago that I do not want to be buried, preferring to retain the greater choice of final resting place possible for those who are cremated. Still not sure where I want my ashes scattered though: it is a strange sort of decision altogether.

Given that I felt so tired, sleep that night was peaceful and long and I woke on Monday 25 October quite refreshed.

I managed some more work and some personal admin, followed by the modest exercise of a walk to our local Waitrose to stock up on chocolate in the form of the good-quality stuff recommended for cancer patients (it’s the anti-oxidants, you know).

The day’s main entertainment consisted of watching the uneasy relations between our cat—the rather neurotic Smudge—and the interloper, Frida, who is rather smarter than Smudge and steals her food, given half the chance.

Frida, the little sneak, stalks Smudge.

The view over my laptop on this nice sunny day.

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