The Bucket List – A Work In Progress


It was suggested to me recently by a dear friend to write a bucket list.

At first I recoiled at the thought of writing a list of things with an aim of achieving them before I die.  But then I realised that it is time to start flipping things on their head.  We are all going to die eventually (a life certainty) so a list of things to ‘look forward’ to would be a good thing to have.

So what is a Bucket List?

– a number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have done or accomplished during their lifetime.

No time for procrastination anymore – live life for the now – no regrets – no ‘what ifs’.

[The List]

1. Travel to India – since the day I made a paper mache version of the Taj Mahal aged 7 years this has been my dream, to travel to India.  Time to figure out how to make this one a reality (26 years of putting this off is simply not good enough)

2. Disneyland – I admit visiting Disneyland is not a personal ambition(!) but I do love everything Disney especially the old school movies like Mary Poppins etc.  The thought of taking a family trip and making my children’s dreams come true would be perfect.

3. Write a book – I had completely forgotten about this one.  Funny how you forget the ambitions you had as a child (I used to want to be a children’s book author).  Even if I write this for my children to read when they are older, I think this would be a nice legacy to leave behind.

4. Visit Germany – an Australian friend once took out a ‘pop up’ map of Europe and showed me all the places she wanted to visit.  I realised that there are many countries in Europe that we take for granted because they are right on our doorstep, but not necessarily ‘holiday destinations’.  Germany is steeped in history and I would love to learn more about the heritage of the country.  (I feel a long weekend with the my husband coming on).

5. See John Legend – one of the genuine musical talents of our generation.  Our first dance song at our wedding many moons ago was one of his songs ‘Stay with Me’.  My husband surprised me this year with tickets to go a see him live, something we’ve both been meaning to do for 8 years now.

6. Visit Italy more often.  The destination of our honeymoon (Sorrento) where we originally fell in love with this beautiful country.  Stunning landscapes, food, tradition and people. Re- visited Penne for our friend’s wedding last year & vowed to take the children upon our next visit.

7. Dine at Michelin Star restaurant.  I love food, always have, and the idea of eating somewhere that the food ‘blows your mind’ really appeals to me.  This one is booked in already for September – Restaurant Gordon Ramsey in Chelsea had better live up to high expectations.


8. Ride horses on a beach – absolutely no idea how to bring this one to fruition but it has been a childhood dream ever since I can remember!

9. Learn more about Art – visit a new gallery & learn more about the artists I have always loved.  Monet & Esher are particular favourites of mine and I realised that it has been nearly two years since I last visited a gallery (although it was the Tate so a pretty good one).

10. Do one thing each day for myself. Not really an aspiration, but as a mother I run around all day long doing things for others &  it’s time to do more things for me I think.

So there you have it, things to get booking, organising and most importantly experiencing – things to get on a just ‘do’.

No more putting things off, because if time runs out I don’t want to have any regrets about my life.


Exercise – all talk no trousers

Nowadays I class running around after the kids in the park, or the garden, or even the shops as my exercise.

This all has to change of course, because a sprint after a child down a supermarket aisle does not really count as sustained cardiovascular exercise (it also probably does more harm than good, given the raised blood pressure levels).

As part of my recovery, I have realised that exercise will play a large part.  It’s just that I am very good at putting it off that’s all..

The Moon Walk it seems, was a ‘freak’ event, in that a serious amount of adrenaline and determination got me through the 15 mile course.  You see, I had received a dose of chemo on the same week of the walk – and I may have underestimated the effects that it would have on my body.

In fact, I think I may have seriously underestimated chemotherapy full stop. 

It reminds me of a villain in a cartoon that does a long exaggerated laugh when it has achieved it’s wicked goal.  The goal to screw your body up.

Although I have tried to see the positives with my treatment where I can – I have to say that chemotherapy seems to have succeeded with it’s plan.  This can only be a good thing of course, in that it has hopefully killed off any rogue cells in its wake – however in doing so it has left behind it a trail of destruction.

Physically, I am lucky that I have come out of it all with minimal ‘fall out’.

By some small miracle I kept my hair – although it did thin somewhat, especially after the final dose of chemo (something I am thankful for).  My eyes tend to look bloodshot most of the time nowadays from the disrupted sleep.  My back and shoulders ache and feel bruised (I often flinch when the children hug me), and well, my legs don’t quite work like they used to.

I have also gained weight which is battering my self-esteem and my tummy often feels swollen as a result of the hormone tablets that I am now taking – but I am kind of hoping that all of this will fade over time.

I have done a lot of research lately, and one of the main areas recommended for reducing the chances of secondary breast cancer – is to get active.  They say that activity helps to control hormone levels, it helps to get your blood pumping, it helps to maintain general health and it also makes you feel good.

I remembered recently that I got into a really good routine of swimming a year or so ago, and I really enjoyed it – so I think I might start with that.  It’s a good a place to start as any.

Water is relaxing and you can start off slow and build up gradually at your own pace.  As a mum, I found that swimming gave me a little bit of ‘me’ time, just to relax and think, and let the worries of the day just float away..

The only small problem is finding the time for the exercise.

I realise that this sounds ridiculous, but in my defence – juggling two demanding children, ‘trying’ to run a home, going to work, and making time for a brief chat with your husband in the evenings, pretty much takes up my whole day and it seems most of my energy too.

The key might be to perhaps treat exercise like medicine, so that it becomes a necessary rather than an option.  There are ways and means to make time for anything in life, and I know that better than most..

I could always go out for a jog around the block straight after the kids bedtime (best not to sit down & just do it).  I could allocate one night a week to go for a swim.  I could even do a few floor exercises and build them up slowly bit by bit, which would  help to strengthen my arms and chest.

I am not so good with boredom either so ‘mixing it up’ with other types of activities might also be the way to go.  I have been asked to join a netball team which has amused me greatly.  Back in the day (many moons ago) I used to be quite good and I enjoyed the team element of the sport.  So, after giving it some serious thought I have said ‘yes’ to attempting some training sessions at the local leisure centre.

I am probably not fit enough.  I definitely have no confidence, and the anxiety of meeting new people may threaten to take over my attempts at joining – but I will give it a try nevertheless.

It might very well kill me but then I figure, ‘what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger’ and I seem to be well and truly living that mantra these days.


Swings & Roundabouts – the aftermath

At the moment I spend most of my days in play parks with my kids.

Probably because these are the places I grew up in, and these are the places that my memories are made of.

There are several types of park near us.  The closest we can walk to and it even has a small bridge before you arrive at it (where trolls live).  Another is next to a cricket field, so once bored with the park the kids enjoy running up and down playing football or tig.  Our favourite though, has to be a new one that we have discovered which is next to a lake, with ducks to feed, an ice-cream van and a really BIG slide.


If I am being honest I have become very grumpy nowadays.

The tidal wave of cancer seems to have crashed over our little world and the trail of destruction it has left behind seems to creep up on me at various points of the day.  Some days I am 100% fine and then it hits me randomly when I least expect it to…

I am tired.  Even after a full nights sleep I feel quite weary and everything seems to be an effort.  My husband often asks how I am feeling on a given day – and there are only so many times you can say you are tired (I am even beginning to bore myself), but then there it is, the honest answer.

Sometimes I get so tired I get snappy and irritable with the children.  Of course I try not to be, but the truth is I am only human and inevitably after someone asks me the same question on repeat throughout the day – eventually I just have enough and retort with an answer that I know better than to say.  The worst case of this is when my son (who has quite a repetitive nature at the best of times) says ‘Mum? Mum? Mum? MUM?’ and when I finally stop halfway through what I am doing, exasperated, and ask ‘YES?!’ He says ‘I love you’.  What a little heartbreaker.

So my answer to the tiredness and being a grumpy mum is to hit the park.  My old friend the park.

Back when I had a baby and toddler and I couldn’t drive, we would spend most of our Summer days in the local parks because these were the places that I could walk to easily.

Even nowadays the kids love it.  They love the freedom of running around and challenging themselves to do the things that they are not yet old enough for (the monkey bars) whilst I cringe from the sidelines.  They meet other children and have funny little conversations about their games and what they like to play.

I inevitably cheer up because fresh air helps, I’m not sure how it does but it does. No matter how shaky you are feeling, a deep breath in and lung full of fresh air instantly makes you feel better.  Eventually after a rest on a bench in the sunshine and lots of thumbs up to various achievements, I begin to feel like the old me again.  I have even been known to chase the cheeky monkeys around – not really caring what I look like or what other mums think, because I don’t really have the time or energy to worry about such things anymore.

After the park we go and get an ice-cream and sit and watch the ducks on the lake, and it’s just nice.  We sit and have a little chat about the day, or attempt to learn about the different types of ducks (well not really, but there is a board to tell you).  We have even been known to walk all the way around the lake on a nice day – which is no easy thing when your kids hate walking.

When it is time to leave nobody wants to – me nor them.

The few hours leading upto teatime have passed away and we leave to go home – shattered (just me) but happy.  Dinner hasn’t been prepared (around that time we had been enjoying a giant 99′ ice- cream), bathtime is late, as is bedtime – but non of that really matters.

I achieved what I set out to do – I left grumpy mum at the park, the children have another little memory for the bank, and our lives go on as normal once more.

One Day At A Time – an open letter

Dear Friends & Family,

I just wanted to say sorry for not quite ‘getting round to it’.

Sorry for missing your birthday.

Sorry for not returning your invitation.

Sorry for not wanting to come out (I probably did in the end, but I probably didn’t want to at the time).

Sorry for not remembering the things we had planned.

Sorry for… well, just not giving it 100%.

You see, I am probably struggling a bit more than I realise at the moment.

I do write things down, I do add things to the calendar – or perhaps you even reminded me..

Yet I still am not quite ‘getting round to it’.

At the moment being a mum is taking up all of my efforts, every ounce of my concentration, and there is not much room for anything, or anyone else I’m afraid.

If it makes you feel any better my husband is also being neglected.  He knows better than to ask ‘what’s for dinner?’ or ‘what are we doing at the weekend?’ because I just can’t think that far ahead.

All I can think of is one day at a time.

The shopping hasn’t been done, the fridge is empty, the dinner hasn’t been made – BUT the children are fed, bathed and happy, and that is about as far as it goes at the moment.

So this is a genuine apology.

I don’t care any less about you (or even the special things in life you may be going through) it’s just that I am ‘not getting round to it’ in general.

I am hoping it is temporary, but it may be here for a while – so in the meantime thank you for understanding.  

All my love,



Be careful what you wish for …

When you are young and care-free you have little to worry about.  Of course it doesn’t feel like this at the time, but then hindsight – is a powerful thing.

When you are young, you wake up in the morning and you wonder what the day has in store for you.  You have small worries about friendships and school, or whether you like your sibling on that given day.  You might even dare to dream about growing up and what you might become – that you may get married or perhaps start a family of your own one day.

As you grow older though, your worries as a girl can change to those of self-esteem and body image.  In my teenage years there were so many things I did not like about myself (and perhaps I still don’t).  You worry about whether your hair is the right type, or if your features are the right shape – your weight – or even your skin tone.

All of these thoughts you tend to grow out of as you mature, and silly things such as not ‘liking’ your hair tend to pale into insignificance when you realise that one day you might lose it.  If only it didn’t take a life changing event to make you cherish your features and the bits that make you unique.  The old adage, ‘Be careful what you wish for’, springs to mind.

Then when you have a daughter of your own everything seems to ‘shift’ a bit.

Something changes.

You can’t put your finger on exactly what it is, but something changes you as a person.  You no longer care about the things that bothered you before, but rather you channel every bit of your energy into helping them grow into the person that they will become.


There are many things that you wish for on her behalf.  You want for her to be free more than anything.

Free to choose her own path in life, free to have her own ‘likes’ regardless of prejudice or ignorance.  Freedom to express herself in whatever she chooses to do, and whomever she chooses to be – and most of all not to let others change her.  Freedom to not be worried about the insignificant things and to hopefully learn from her own mistakes.

As your daughter, they often look at you and you see yourself in them – almost like a little reflection.  The glint in the eye, the zest for life and the sparkling energy that they are filled with.  I sometimes find myself looking too closely and getting too serious nowadays – but straight away my little girl blows a raspberry in my face and turns to run away as if to say ‘you can’t catch me!’

One evening recently she said to me as I tucked her in;

“Mummy don’t ever, never leave me” just before she closed her eyes, to which I replied “Of course I won’t”, and then I asked, “Why?” but it was too late as she had already drifted off into her dreams.

But I know why, I know the answer to my own question – it is because she won’t be the same person if I am not here.  The girl lives and breathes me, and sometimes I almost wish she didn’t because one day I will need for her to be strong on her own.

Of course she will be fine eventually if that day comes, and she will live her life to the full I am sure – but she will always have a miss in her heart, like something is not there.

There is a very strong connection between a mother and daughter and if it is ever to be broken, one of you has to be strong enough to pass it on.