Tash's 22nd and final Radiotherapy session (12/12/06) went without a hitch and so we bid the Radiotherapy treatment adios until (invariably) next time. The remaining week and a bit before Christmas was taken up with preparing for the big day, present buying, food planning and social engagements. This year seemed to be more stressful than most and not just for ourselves; I quite enjoyed noticing the thinly veiled look of desperation and panic in the eyes of my fellow consumers lined up at the checkout on the Saturday before Christmas. There were tales of 45 minute queues to reach the tills in our local supermarkets the weekend before the 25th.
We spent our "big day " down in Swanage, Dorset. My sister is running a Bed and Breakfast down there, it is not in the least bit Fawlty Towers I might add, and by default having more spare bedrooms than the rest of us, she gets to have the pleasure of hosting the Dean/Gardner family Christmas.
As this exclusive series of pictures prove, some members of my family do drink alcohol, can you guess which ones?
Speaking of my Sister, our Christmas Eve was a drunken affair. Traditionally when we meet up for this festive get-together the initial destination is the pub, this being a new addition as neither of my parents drink so the pub was persona non grata in my family until recently. Lesley distinguished herself by over drinking on this occasion; she can't remember getting home, or the attempts at ad hoc Christmas decoration that she undertook on her return to the house. As one of our friends pointed out on hearing the rest of this story, she certainly managed a 'false start' to the Christmas (drinking) period, choosing to render herself null and void until about 5pm on Christmas day. My mother even lent a hand at one point, cautiously making her way up the three flights of stairs to Lesley's ensuite in order to assist my sister in her "self inflicted next day toilet trauma " by laying out a towel for her to kneel on during one extended bowl hugging session. My sister is 47 and my mother is an infirmed 73 year old; blood may be thicker than water and it is more pleasant than other bodily produced liquids too.
My niece Michelle became engaged to her, now fiancee, Mark as well, so congratulations to them both.
This time last year I was the sole support person on call over the Christmas period for my work resulting in 8 hours sleep over two days, this year it was Tash's turn to deal with the nightmare that Christmas in the IT Financial industry has become.
The notion of "working from home " is an ingenious construct meant to make you feel all warm and fuzzy about having to work on what should be your day off and so Tash logged in remotely on Wednesday morning from the sofa..... unfortunately by Friday she had fully reconstructed her work environment on the dining room table, covering a support period between 6am and 10pm and thereby negating most, if not all of the benefits of not being at work - apart from spending the day in her jimjammies of course, there is no better way to work.
Actually now I mention it, the first call she received on Christmas day was from a user in Singapore expecting some help with a technical issue!
The week calmed down as we started the New Year weekend, spending it in a splendid Italian restaurant in Islington with my friend Andy and his partner Anat. Andy was a good choice to be with as his life, as long as I have known him, has been tied to his mobile phone and pager from work. They both took calls during the evening, Andy first, then one for Tash. Andy won in the end as he knew that there would be a call coming in to him at 11:30pm, such is this particular overnight job's automated preference for failing.
New Years Eve was spent over the river in South ('souuwf' - to use the local parlance) London with Marisa and Nathan. Hopefully Marisa will not mind me commenting that she is not the most confident cook; having invited us over for a NY's meal, just after recounting her Christmas Day pudding disaster (she had managed to write off a whole Christmas pudding and saucepan by boiling them to death) we decided to be supportive of her culinary endeavours by purchasing a replacement pudding as a surprise/present to welcome in the new year. (Nate and Marisa are to marry in February so we can see the importance of this)
The problem with the English Christmas pudding is that it must be steamed for 2 hours or more, easy if you have done it before, or have thought to buy one encased in a proper bowl and not a plastic container as most are these days. If you don't pay attention to the water level whilst steaming, the bigger the pan the better I might add, the water evaporates far too quickly and the pudding and bowl go into plastic meltdown. So Tash soon discovered, it was an easy mistake to make.....
So at 4pm in the afternoon leaving Tash elbows deep in the washing up bowl trying to remove the sticky remains of our replacement pudding from the bottom of the steaming pan, I made my way back up to the supermarket to buy another Christmas pudding.
Second time round with pudding No.2 nestled like a small humming bird chick in an Eagle's nest in our 'big enough to live in' 8 litre stock pot, Tash and I retired from the kitchen and entered into a 2 hour period of constant paranoia, checking and re-checking the water level of our stove top swimming pool to make sure we didn't kill another dessert.
Marisa's meal was excellent, we drank and then turned out onto the Thames river bank to catch the midnight fireworks lighting up the London sky. The picture is of Nate's choice of midnight attire, fortunately he is wearing clothes under that coat, even though he does look like he has just got out of the bath.
I am glad to see the back of 2006 to be honest, Chemo, scans, unemployment, bad test results and medical disasters..... whereas this next year is not going to be rosy either, it has the benefit of being yet to happen. There is going to be an Australian Tao update in February/March as we are out there for the aforementioned Nate and Marisa wedding. Sandwiched either side of this will be Tash's new treatment regime. Next Monday 8th Jan marks one of the final Herceptin treatments before Natasha's new Chemotherapy regime starts (more on that next time).
I wish it to be known that I had nothing to do with the taking of this picture.
Now, as it is 2007, down to the first important thing of the year; We have had several people who have showed their support to us, for Tash, by getting off their arses and have trudged around many routes to raise awareness, support and make money for good Cancer causes. To date Tash has had 20 kilometres run in her name, 10 directly attributed to my sister (when not throwing up) and 5km each to Vince and Mirelle. In April there will be 26 miles more as Carolyn, one of Natasha's old Sydney friends has signed up to run the London Marathon on a CancerBackup gold bond entry.
The Tao will be keeping up to date with Carolyn's progress and we would like you to consider helping her to reach her target of £3,000.00 in sponsorship money. Visit her sponsorship page here or from the link on the navigation bar.