Visiting my bench

Such a lovely visit with my friend Susie today and as I drove back home through London I realised that it as high time I stopped off for a few minutes peace and quiet at my bench in Berkeley Square.

Ooh I love this place.  And so very kind of the City of Westminster to put a new glass sculpture in the Square.

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Sunday at Henley Royal Regatta

Another beautiful day at Henley Royal Regatta.. but first a reminder about the dress code.  When I picked up my friends, Verity and Caroline, they both asked if their dresses were long enough to meet Henley Regatta’s strict dress code.  Both had dresses that finished on the knee and indeed were very similar to dresses I’d seen in the Stewards’ Enclosure on Thursday, so I thought they’d be OK.

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It appears however that the rule is more heavily enforced at a weekend… a quick diversion to Henley town to acquire a new dress!  We certainly weren’t the only ones and the dress shops were doing a roaring trade.

When we finally got into the Enclosure we decided to go for a little exploration of the Stewards’ Enclosure, Regatta Enclosure and part way down the towpath.  It was noticeably quieter than on the Thursday despite it being the last day of racing and therefore the finals.  Always good to see the other parts of Henley Regatta and we were a little envious that there was no dress code!

On returning to the Stewards’ Enclosure we met up with my friends Liz and Andrew who had with them their friends, Phil and Jane.  A wonderful party of fabulous people for an afternoon of gossip, laughter, drinking and watching the end of the racing.

Henley Sunday1Also wonderful to see the Royal Barge, Gloriana, at Henley again this year.  Such an impressive craft.

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And a beautiful picture of Henley at the end of this year’s Regatta.

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My Day 12 at Wimbledon Tennis

I discovered how tremendously popular I was when I announced on Facebook that I’d managed to get two pairs of Centre Court tickets in the Wimbledon Ballot.

However when I heard that my great friend Jenny, who now lives in the US, was to start her family holiday by flying in to the UK on Friday 4th July, it was a no-brainer.  Jen loves her tennis and I knew would relish the opportunity to be in Centre Court for the Ladies’ Singles Final.  Her fabulous husband agreed to take the kids down to Cornwall on his own on the condition that I was to make sure Jenny got an early train to Cornwall on Sunday.

Perfect plan… well it would have been but for a couple of reasons.  United Airlines cancelled their flight and announced that they’d be put on another arriving into London on Sunday.  After much kerfuffle, negotiation and yet more US driving, they headed for a flight out of Philly to Washington DC, then another flight to London.  This arrived on Saturday morning and it was going to be a rush to get to London and Wimbledon but fortunately it landed early and I was already there waiting.  We bid the family goodbye and raced for London.  Quick shower and change and made it to Wimbledon by 1.20pm.  A quick wander to watch a few minutes of the wheelchair doubles – utterly amazing and in awe of the power and agility of these players.

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Check in at the ballgirl/boy office to find out if Abi was on court anywhere for a spot of Abi-stalking.  Then just enough time to take our seats in Centre Court for the 2pm Ladies’ Singles Final.

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Gosh, can you tell we’ve barely had any sleep?

Once again blessed with fabulous seats.  Amazing to be there and to hear and see the power and strength of each shot.

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The Ladies’ Singles Final:

Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) [13]
v
Petra Kvitova (CZE) [6]

was sadly over very quickly.  Under 55 minutes and it felt very one-sided.  Sadly we were both supporting Bouchard who for whatever reason we felt didn’t quite have her mojo.

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We had to stay for the presentation ceremony because guess which ball-girl was in the line-up?   Yes the ever wonderful Abi!  Sadly though I wasn’t able to get the ‘perfect’ picture of her as there was a pesky boy in front… but here’s a few of the better ones.

Abi

We then left Centre Court briefly to have a wake-up walk around Wimbledon and headed back in for the latter part of the next match – Ladies’ Doubles Finals

Timea Babos (HUN) [14] / Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) [14] v
Sara Errani (ITA) [2] / Roberta Vinci (ITA) [2]

A well-fought match where age and experience of Errani and Vinci won over the enthusiastic and energetic youngsters of Babos and Mladenovic.  Fair to say the final scores of 6-1, 6-3 truly didn’t reflect the amount of quality shots and winning play that was represented by Babos and Mladenovic.  I think we’ll be seeing more of these ladies in future competitions.

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Once again in need of a wake-up walk and also some refreshment we headed for the nearest cafe… just as the heavens really opened.  Pots of tea with scones, clotted cream and jam… ooh and strawberries and cream.  Perfect pick me up!

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Next on Centre Court was the Gentlemen’s Doubles Final

Bob Bryan (USA) [1] Mike Bryan (USA) [1]
v
Vasek Pospisil (CAN) Jack Sock (USA)

I had been fortunate enough to see the Bryan Brothers in a qualifying round for this final but chose to support the youngsters AKA Popsocks.

An incredibly hard-fought match.  Again age and experience v enthusiasm and energy.  We stayed only for the first couple of sets but could see that it would run it’s full course of 5 sets.

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So very pleased to hear the final was won not by the seeded and title holders but by the youngsters, Popsocks. It would no doubt have been an utterly brilliant match to watch to the final point but we had somewhere we really wanted to be and someone who had been on our minds all day.

As we left Wimbledon we had our tickets scanned so that hopefully someone else was able to purchase the remaining time and enjoy what would have been a wonderful completion of a day of tennis on Centre Court.  The money for resold tickets goes to charity.

Mammogram time

You’ll remember I recently went for my six monthly scans which are all part of the follow up regimen following my diagnosis with malignant phyllodes and DCIS.  You may also remember that they had ‘forgotten’ to book my annual mammogram.  I’ve had some truly frustrating phone calls and several tears whilst trying to ‘remind’ the team what was agreed as a good regimen to monitor my health.

My appointment letter was received a few days ago and today I went into the RMH for my mammogram.  Unlike when I was there a few weeks ago, the clinic was virtually empty and I was seen immediately.  It’s crazy when I think about me having to chase and WANT a mammogram.  They’re usually painful and as my breasts get more lumpy with age and scar tissue they are becoming even more painful.  The mammographer was kind and tried to be as quick as possible but needed to take quite a few scans covering lots of tissue and angles.  Part of me wishes I didn’t need to do them at all as the pain is so bad (today was truly dreadful) but I also know that these are the best way to identify changes and see any Phyllodes appear.

Next stop is my appointment with the sarcoma team (and I presume a new consultant) for the results of the ultrasound, chest x-ray and now mammogram.  Only a few more sleepless nights…

Thursday at Henley Regatta

My lovely friend, Stephen, organises an amazing day each year at Henley Royal Regatta and I’m terrifically fortunate that he invited me again this year.

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There are several of us that used to work together in the 80s and 90s that are invited and we race for busy trains to get to Henley late morning.  Not that we are creatures of habit but a stop off at Hotel Du Vin for a glass or two of bubbly start our wonderful day.  Time to regroup and take a breath before the main event.

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We then head over to the Lion Meadow, Henley Royal Regatta car park, where Stephen is waiting with other guests and the very wonderful catering team from Thame.  This year, as it was so very hot and sunny, I was grateful for the gazebo and shade it created.  What wonderful food, great wines and, of course, fabulous company.

Mid-afternoon we make our way into the Stewards enclosure.  There’s always a little loitering so that we can find an area to set up camp for our group.  Once again we tuck into the ever important Pimms and bubbles enjoying each other’s company.  I have to confess it does become harder to actually watch the rowing – particularly when we are so comfortable with the sunshine, Pimms and company.

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Great great fun… oooh and of course a few Regatta selfies!

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When the racing had finished, a few of us headed off to Stephen’s glorious narrowboat for a glass of wine on deck as the sun went down.

photo-5All in all a super special day.  Thanks Stephen. x

 

My Day 9 at Wimbledon Tennis

Again blessed to have won the opportunity to purchase some Wimbledon tickets via the tennis league ballot.

I’m back in Court 2 for the day with my friend, Verity.

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We had seats a little higher but still perfectly centre to watch some awesome tennis matches.

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The lineup of matches on Court 2 were:

1. Shuko Aoyama (JPN) / Renata Voracova (CZE) v
Sara Errani (ITA) [2] / Roberta Vinci (ITA) [2]
2. Bob Bryan (USA) [1] / Mike Bryan (USA) [1] v
Julian Knowle (AUT) [9] / Marcelo Melo (BRA) [9]
3. Martin Klizan (SVK) / Belinda Bencic (SUI) v
Bruno Soares (BRA) [13] / Martina Hingis (SUI) [13]
4. Aisam Qureshi (PAK) [16] / Vera Dushevina (RUS) [16] v
Bob Bryan (USA) [2] / Kveta Peschke (CZE) [2]

What a treat to see some doubles matches. I love watching doubles as there’s always an element of ‘great mates’ playing a match. OK so obviously they’re also out there to win but somehow a sense of fun is also evident.

Wonderful too to see Martina Hingis who I saw many many years ago and, of course, the Bryan Brothers who took gold in the London Olympics.

Of course there is also a great amount of Abi-stalking.  She remains the best ball-girl and I was so very proud to be able to see her being so brilliantly professional again.

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My Day 2 at Wimbledon Tennis

Before I start this post I’m going to acknowledge how fortunate I am to have applied in three different ballots for Wimbledon tickets and to have been allocated tickets to purchase in all three!  The first of which was for two tickets to Court 2 today.

I had an ulterior motive to my rather aggressive approach to getting to Wimbledon tickets.  Many months ago I took a call from my friend Millie asking for advice.  Her daughter, Abi, had a chance, through her school, to be a ball girl but a) wasn’t sure about it; b) didn’t know much about tennis (nobody in the family plays); and c) it would be almost impossible to do the pick up and drop offs for the months of training required after school.  So I offered my ‘Auntie Anna’ services.  My job was to be at Wimbledon each week after training and to drive Abi to Clapham Junction where she would join her Dad on his commuter train home.  I have absolutely loved my weekly 15 minutes or so with Abi between Wimbledon and Clapham.

The training started in January and was intense from week 1.  My first question each week as Abi climbed in my car was ‘are you still in?’ – they whittled the numbers of ball girls/boys down each week as the competition got closer.

I may have also told pretty much anyone who’d listen that Abi was doing the training and hopefully would make it through to Wimbledon tournament.  I just may have mentioned it once or twice.

My darling Abi is a ball girl.   Hmm I’m allowed Auntie Anna bragging rights!

Our day today started early as Millie came up to Wimbledon with Abi.  The early start meant that there was time for us to stop off in the sunshine and have a Pimms and a good catch up!

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On Court 2 we saw the following matches:

Stan Wawrinka -v- Joao Sousa; Milos Raonic -v- Matthew Ebden; Angelique Kerber -v- Urszula Radwanska; Kaia Kanepi -v- Jelena Jankovic; and Vera Zvonareva -v- Tara Moore.

As you can see from my pictures we were also very fortunate with some perfectly positioned seats.  A wonderful day’s play on Court 2.

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Every couple of hours we would sneak out to the Ball girl/boy office and check which court Abi was on.  They work one hour on court and one hour off but aren’t allowed to talk/walk or acknowledge us until their day’s work has truly finished.   Despite not being able to say hello, I think we managed to ‘stalk’ Abi on all courts with the exception of her last assignment.

I think you’ll agree from the montage of pictures below that she sure looks professional.  I’m so very proud.

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I also knew I’d done a good ‘Auntie Anna job’ when just as she headed off for home with her Mum on the train, she shook her head, laughed and told us that all she’d heard all day was Millie and I proudly ‘whispering’ about Abi or us taking pictures or videos!

She then said ‘Oooh you’re soo embarrassing’… with a big grin on her face!

Bellevue Rendezvous

I am so very very sorry… that I’ve been past this restaurant many many times and not actually eaten here…  until tonight.  I’m sorry because quite frankly I’ve missed out on some extraordinarily fabulous French cuisine.

This unassuming French restaurant is situated on the Trinity Road, a busy road which goes from Wandsworth to Tooting.  Not a great place of note for fine food and not, perhaps the most enticing exterior.

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However one peek inside and you’ll see the typically French decor.  The simplistic layout of the interior.  You’ll probably notice that there’s always someone dining.  If you’re within earshot you’ll no doubt hear French being spoken by the staff AND the diners.  It’s always a great sign to hear native speakers in any restaurant.

Tonight I met with some girlfriends here for dinner.  They do a Prix Fixe menu of two courses for £20 and three courses for £24.  Each of the courses has a choice of three well balanced and chosen options.

We chose the 2 course menu and between us had the delicious prawn and beetroot salad starter; charcuterie; and fish soup. All well balanced, perfectly sized and so very delicious. The choices of main course was a roast chicken with smooth mash and peppers; mushroom risotto; or sea bass on a bed of asparagus. Great choice and all perfectly cooked.

BUT…. then…. the cheeseboard…. Oooh how happy would any cheeseoholic be with this vast selection of goodness?

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The wine list is great with a good variety of reds, whites, fizz, rose in a variety of sizes, glass, carafe or bottle.

The staff were friendly and knowledgeable. The interior was comfortable, clean and French chic. Reasonable prices for great ingredients and well prepared food. Excellent all round.

We will be back so very soon, perhaps for a long leisurely French brunch or lunch.  I am however kicking myself and am truly sorry it took us so long to discover it!

The Great Debate: Should we use social media to recruit patients in clinical research?

Eeek the Agenda has been published for the annual Clinfield Conference for Clinical Research Staff.

Guess who’s speaking and part of the panel debate? Meeee….

“11:45-13:00 The Great Debate: Should we use social media to recruit patients in clinical research?
Chair: Gordon Hill Debaters: Teresa Chinn- We Nurses, Anna Wallace- patient representative, Les Gelling- Ethics Chair”

As always it will give me the ability to mention ‘Phyllodes’ and this occasion to a room full of people at the coalface of clinical research.

As you will all know from this website social media has played a huge part in my finding other people diagnosed with Phyllodes; sharing experiences and supporting one another; researching medical/scientific papers and sharing them with the group; discovering clinical trials around the world and again sharing them with the group; and so much more.

I know that when we’ve discussed clinical trials and research within social media, the thirst for knowledge, how to sign up and get involved and interest in any results and findings from group members is enormous.

Using social media as a way to recruit patients into clinical research is a no-brainer.  It should also be used to educate and inform patients on what research is; what and how you could be involved; why it’s important for medical advancement for you and others; etc.

My ‘journey’ would have been a very different one had social media not played a part.

I’d love to hear your comments.