Sardinia - by Bertie
17 September 2023
We have fallen in love with Sardinia, especially Alghero. We were here in July when it was very hot and busy and have returned. We moored in the heart of the fortified city which is full of winding narrow streets, churches, restaurants and shops. September is a few degrees cooler (30 degrees) and many tourists have left. We got there after anchoring a few nights at Stintino, which has white sands and crystal clear turquoise waters and is a ‘must see’ place for anyone visiting the island. We remind ourselves how lucky we are to be living the dream.
We all love Alghero for a different reason. Dad and Mom like the food. Pulpo (octopus) is on most menus and Mom could live on it. After eating it many times, her favourite was when it was served on a bed of potato purée made with olive oil and pine nuts scattered over the top. She also loves going out in an evening and doing what the locals do. She puts on a dress with matching Italian handbag, has a walk along the seafront to a bar for the much loved Aperol Spritz (another of mom’s little weaknesses). It is customary for the staff to serve it with finger food such as open sandwiches, thick prosciutto ham and crackers or olives. We often end the evening at the pizzeria which serves slices of crispy margerita pizza. There is a launderette right in the heart of the old town, which mom likes as she can do the washing and go shopping at the same time. Alghero is famous for its lemons and we now have porcelain lemons for the Christmas tree!
Dad loves the cafe lifestyle. Every morning we walk out to a cafe in the old town for Dad to have a macchiato and mom to have a cafe ginseng. Dad says it is very smooth with just the right amount of steamed milk on top. Patch who is always thinking of his tummy loves his breakfast. Dad shares a croissant with him, and he looks up expectantly for his half. If it arrives filled with apricot jam or custard Patch has a grump all day.
I (Bertie) enjoy walking through the parks. They all have ‘no dog’ signs but the Italians disregard them. When we hesitated on the first day, we got a friendly shove by a local. They are a dog friendly nation and dogs seem to be welcome everywhere. After one long roll in the grass I felt disoriented and came face to face with myself. It took me a minute to realise it was my Italian twin. The other couple kept staring and asking loads of questions. We had a good sniff of each other and then had a family fallout. He clearly wasn’t accepting I was the better looking and gave me a low growl. Everyone laughed, because even his growl sounded like mine!
Mom says I am just like Scrappy, as I love a car ride. I persuaded Mom and Dad, that mopeds might be exciting, but if they hired a car we could have a family outing. So we rented a car in Alghero for two days and headed off into the hills. Sardinia is still known for its mafia links, and we were told to stay away from some remote hill top villages as they are still ‘bandit’ areas. Suddenly I wished they had hired a moped after all! We drove through forests of eucalyptus and cork trees and vineyards, stopping to sample the wine. It is so dark, they call it black wine, which according to mom contains so many antioxidants that it is imperative she drinks it! We visited colourful towns where the houses are hand painted in pretty pastel shades as well as vibrant greens, blues and oranges.
Dad suggested we stop at archeological sites which are everywhere on the island. Most of them date back to the Bronze Age (1500-1200BC). They contain burial chambers and gods. We saw some stone gods, where the males were squat and small and the females were tall with huge breasts. There was a temple which was over 3000 years old. It looked just like an ancient Aztec temple, which mom described as ‘awesome’. Mom loves a bit of spirituality, magic and ritual and bored us by reading out the stories behind the places. We were allowed in all the sites and were keen to mark our territory. We hope in another thousand years time, archaeologists might ask if it was an ancient temple for four legged creatures! I am not sure what Mom’s friend Liz would have made of mom lying on the 4000 year old tablet where they made sacrifices, in order to get a connection with the the place! The belief in magic and ancient gods still exist today. Each January people creep through the villages taking on the semblance of spirits. They announce their arrival by the sound of cow bells which they wear, covering themselves in furs and a mask made of dark wood. Some see it as a bit of fun, whilst others believe the ancient gods take possession of their body. Either way, it is now on Mom’s bucket list!
We ended our time in Sardinia in a huge bay called Porto Conte. It has been 4 days of bliss, as there is nothing to do but walk and swim. As much as we would love to stay, the nights are drawing in and September will bring gales with the autumn equinox. Yesterday was one of those perfect days. We had a swim and a walk before lunch and early evening we went back ashore. We walked to the summit of the national park for a glass of wine as the sun went down over the sea. It was beautiful but we were all a little sad that it was our final night. We descended through the forest, breathing in the smell of hot pine and returned to the dinghy. The yacht club looked magical, all lit up with citronella candles and fairy lights. A quick decision was made to have a final glass of wine and to share a pizza from the wood burning stove. We all toasted Sardinia as we looked out over the bay to Leslie Frank clearly visible with her anchor light shining in the dark.
Sardinia, we love you and will be back!
03 September 2023
Thank you to everyone who checked in with us during the storm. We have never experienced a full blown storm whilst on the boat,- 55 knots of wind (63 mph)and more when it gusted. The weather maps showed us the approaching storm and Jules monitored it very closely. We chose to sit it out in a marina in Sardinia, arriving 10 hours ahead of the blow to get the boat prepared. We pulled the boat 5 metres from the quay, so we would not smash the back in a surge; removed covers that might fly away; added lots of ropes in case any broke and made sure we had plenty of water and things to eat. The storm arrived in full around 11pm and was relentless for 36 hours. We never felt unsafe, but it was extremely uncomfortable. The boat moved from side to side and back and forth quite violently. Standing up was difficult and going on deck impossible. The sea was breaking over the harbour wall and straight onto the boats. We lost electricity and the phone signals went down. The marina staff were amazing, they were checking the boats and their crews every hour. Occasionally we would get a five minute lull in the wind, and we would rush the dogs on deck, tying them on. Bertie would just get positioned to perform and a big wave would roll over him, causing him to abandon any thought of his ablutions. The poor mite did 12 poops in one hour when we finally did get off the boat. We had been looking forward to a bit of down time after all the sightseeing and sailing, but we were stir crazy. When we did step on land, we felt a bit land sick and being still was a novelty. We walked over the headland and looked out at a passage between rocks that only a few days ago we had sailed through. It was wall to wall white water. It was extremely majestic and the walking was superb. The weather has now returned to normal, apart from the daily temperature which has dropped from 33 to 27 degrees and we have resorted to wearing jumpers.
Back at home a storm of a different kind is raging. Our village has made BBC news, and youtube regarding verbal attacks on 'incomers' and an argument over the parish council. A lady who lives in the village has made it her job to video the council meetings for the world to watch the poor behaviour of the council. It has led to a lot of nastiness and most council members resigning. The name calling has been relentless. They might not be doing a good job, but personal verbal attacks cannot be justified in my opinion. As a result no one has been paid by the council and the grass verges have temporarily stopped being cut. For many residents this is simply the worst thing that has happened. On top of that one of the village pubs is being boycotted by some locals who don't like Starr breweries who own the lease. They are allegedly putting in 'rough' landlords and locals don't like the new chef even though he cooked their fish and chips in the local chippy for many years. In fact there is talk of calling in the BBC again, to show the disgraceful behaviour of the new bar manager. The local who is leading the campaign was seen going nose to nose with the manager in a bit of a stand off last week. Apparently the 'gloves are off'. I keep undated on a social media site 'Thornton Le Dale moan'. Many moans are totally laughable. Our village survives on the tourist trade but a 'metal living box' (mobile home) was spotted parking in the village destroying the picturesque views for the locals. This was posted by someone standing as a new councillor to 'make Thornton a better place'. A dog has pooped on the grass verge by the allotment (picture of said poop was provided, nearly making me vomit up my breakfast) and people have been asked to report who they think it might be. No reward was offered and no one has come forward. Then a dog was witnessed sitting on a chair in the pub! Could he be the cocky culprit?
On a more serious level when a lady lost her hat (in the other village pub), she posted a comment about the staff and locals. The locals retaliated by posting comments that 'her sort' were better served in Bridlington, Blackpool or Benidorm and not in their beautiful village. One man said that just the way she walked across the room, he could tell she was arrogant, self entitled and Woke. Sadly no pictures were provided to show how you walk in a woke and self entitled manner, as I for one would love to know. The temporary landlord in pub number 1 was publicly shamed and told he would be "more suitable to 'city estate pubs' ", as apparently it is only in the country that you need clean glasses and good customer service.
Those that know me well, know I can not bare such outright prejudice, so I posted on the site and asked if they could be nicer to each other and pointed out that we residents we were showing ourselves in a negative light. Wow, a lot of anger was unleashed. I was called "over sensitive and pompous". I was informed by a 72 year old resident to 'go back home to where I belong' and that I am too sensitive to how country folk deal with their issues. As Jules reminded me, I was asking people to be nicer, so I removed myself from the site before I could vent my anger. The incident has given me more respect than ever for people constantly been told that the UK is not their home and who manage to turn the other cheek. I am now on Thornton Community site. It is a breath of fresh air. Positive residents, doing positive things for the village. As in all walks of life it is a small minority of outspoken bigots trying to spoil things for others.
I suddenly realised that the reason I had received very little support is because most decent people don't associate themselves with Thornton moan site.
Finally good luck to all my teacher friends going back to school next week. After the six weeks summer holidays it always felt as if a great big weather cloud had descended. As much as I loved teaching, it was always touch and go as to whether Jules was going to have to hold my hand and walk me into the premises before I ran off!!! My sister has also had a dark day recently, when she realised her son didn't like Nutella... she might have to buy marmite after all!
Whatever our personal storms, please be nice!
Back to Corsica for a week
27 August 2023
After 5 unforgettable weeks on the French/Italian Riveria we are back at sea. Marina living is great. It allows us the freedom to leave the boat and explore, without worrying about what the wind and weather will do next. It has also meant that in the height of the summer, we have been able to have all the fans running and our air-con unit on. Whilst the Uk has been wet and cold, it has been a constant 30-33 degrees.
However, there is nothing nicer than being at sea in this weather. We set sail last Saturday for Corsica, and were at sea overnight. We saw a couple of large turtles floating along and the odd dolphin. At sunset we had a sundowner (aperol spritz) and sorted out the night shift. I did 8pm until midnight, whilst Jules took over until 4.30am and I finished off the last leg. We dropped anchor in the bay of Calvi about 7am on Sunday morning and got our heads down for a few hours. Later we went ashore in the dinghy, for the dogs to have a walk, and us to have lunch. I had slices of courgette, marinated in lemon juice and served with grated truffle, followed by red fish in a citrus butter sauce. Feeling complete we headed back to the boat for a swim. The freedom to just jump off the back of the boat to swim and snorkel is one of my favourite things.
Monday arrived with a great sea breeze. It meant we had to clear out of the anchorage as there was a lot of swell building up, but we had one of those ‘ye ha’ moments, where the boat was hammering along at 8 knots and we were sailing in swimwear enjoying the cool breeze. We had yet more dolphins, and when the breeze died away, we dropped anchor in a little Corsican bay. I went for a snorkel and was rewarded with hundreds of fish swimming all around me, and for once I had remembered to take my underwater camera. It was magical. The day was rounded off with a walk through the eucalyptus trees and a pastis.
Tuesday was a very still and extremely hot day, so we motored twenty miles to a little anchorage with absolutely nothing there but rolling hills and sandy beaches. We spent most of the afternoon in the water, swimming and snorkelling and trying out our new paddleboards. As evening fell and we tucked into our BBQ, riders brought their horses down to the beach for a swim. I slept on deck with Patch as my companion, and we were both woken by the sound of cows roaming freely on the beach as the sun rose.
Wednesday was another motoring day to the little seaside town of Sagona . Six years ago it was a thriving place, but since Covid many of the hotels and restaurants have not recovered and many places are boarded up. We still loved it and found a little bar overlooking the bay for a sundowner. We asked for my drink of the moment… a “tomate”…. Pastis and grenadine. The flamboyant gay waiter bought a tomato juice. He did not realise English people might know the name of this very French drink. He found it wildly hilarious and we could hear him laughing to himself as he prepared my correct drink. He arrived with my drink which he had decorated all round the top with cherry tomatoes. Needless to say, more laughter all round! We weren’t going to eat ashore, but the atmosphere was so lovely, we had a portion of courgette beignets followed by a huge Corsican meat and cheese platter, homemade fig relish, gherkins, salad and fresh chestnut bread. A family arrived whilst we were eating, and the little girl became obsessed with Bertie. She lay down beside him, put her head on his tummy and fell asleep.
We had breakfast on deck on Thursday morning with rays swimming round the boat. There were only light airs, so we motored with the sails up, and turned the motor off when the wind picked up a little. On the hottest day so far, I cooked a full roastie for lunch (as it was just what we both fancied) which we enjoyed on deck as “Derek” our autohelm sailed the boat! We picked up a buoy in Porto Pollo, one of my favourite places, and took the dogs for a walk along the beach so that Patch could have a well deserved swim.
Friday morning we took the dinghy ashore to get breakfast. A cup of tea for me and a Pastel del Nata, and a croissant for Patch. We took Patch and Bertie for a walk, whilst anxiously waiting for a phone call from my oncologist. When she finally rang I asked if she was happy with my bloods, and she said she was delighted with them, a word she rarely uses. So we can relax again for the next month. We sailed to a little bay with crystal clear sea between great forests of posidonia grass and dropped anchor in 4 metres. The BBQ was lit, and we celebrated my good news with a very nice glass of red, fennel sausage and lots of Mediterranean vegetables.
Saturday morning we were up early for a short sail into Bonifacio, which is an old fortified harbour town. We went into the gorge to moor, which is extremely difficult to do. The alternative is €120 in the marina. The crew (me) has to swim to the steep to rocks, pick up mooring lines and swim with them back to the boat. Luckily for us as I was about to take the plunge, a guy came in his dinghy and untangled the lines and bought them to us. The marina who manage the ropes, can’t be bothered. When they get over a thousand pounds a night for a super yacht in the main town marina they don’t see the need in investing time in small yacht moorings. Hence, more than half the ropes are missing and very few boats can actually use the moorings. The upside is that if they get good tips from the super yachts, they don’t bother to come out in their tender to take payment. We had a great walk in the old town, which is almost vertical. We mooched round the churches and shops and found the perfect stop for lunch. We had their menu of the day, which only offered one starter and main, but what a menu. We had Carpaccio of beef, with slices of local Parmesan and drizzled in local olive oil to start. This was followed by tartare of tuna with a salad. The tuna is raw and cut up very small, marinated and served with tiny chunks of pepper, onions, mango, ginger and sesame seeds. I try not to have desserts, but I could not resist trying myrtle crème brulee which was divine. The owner took to Patch and Bertie and came with doggy bowls full of best steak and fat that people had left!
Today we sadly left Corsica and headed for Sardinia. Forty knot winds with gusts of up to seventy knot winds are expected tonight. So we were up and sailing fast at 7am to beat the storm into a safe harbour in northern Sardinia. It’s not all fun! Tomorrow will definitely be a lie in!
Angels and Demons
21 August 2023
The Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), believe that
Angels exist and have the ability to interact with people on earth. Islam goes one step further and believes in Jinns - a type of spirit who lives on earth, who is able to trick us into evil ways. Some Muslims wear talismans against a Jinn putting a wicked spell on them. Whatever our belief, I don’t think we can deny the existence of “earth angels”…people who live amongst us and get us through difficult times, or just simply do the unexpected or go the extra mile. Equally, I believe there are some people who just emanate badness and evil.
On our trip so far we have met the most amazing people who have gone out of their way to help us. Last week I was catching a tram and was unsure which one I needed. A very dirty and smelly tramp came to my aid and told me which tram to get on and then a workman who had overheard my conversation sat by me to show me the stop. He got his phone out and counted out the stops for me. It meant that I arrived on time in Ventimigli Italy for Italy’s largest outdoor market. It is described as an institution for Italian and French people living in the riviera. The items for sale are very diverse from pasta in all sizes and shapes to clothing and leather handbags, all at unbeatable prices. There is also a covered market which sells the most amazing foods. I settled for olive oil, honey, chocolate, pasta and chillis.
We also had the pleasure of corresponding with a lovely lady in the marina office at Nice. It is always fully booked weeks in advance and she did not have a space for us. When we explained that I would like to have some blood tests done in Nice, she squeezed us in for 5 days. She moored Leslie Frank on the quay by the mega yachts which is reserved for their tenders, ( little boats that run them ashore) all of which were bigger than our boat. The mega yacht next to us was for sale at offers over a mere seven million pounds, and the one next to that was on the market for fifty five million!!!! The lady was charming and went out of her way to make sure we were in the right place for my tests.
The police patrolled the mega yacht area, and Bertie made sure that they all knew he was guarding our boat. One really strict looking lady officer took Bertie aside and told him it was an arrestable offence to bark at a police officer. We were mortified and tried to shut him up, when she broke out into a raucous laugh and said she was only joking and gave him a great cuddle. I think it rather amused her that Bertie might be disturbing the rich and famous on their big boats!
Having detailed blood tests taken abroad each month has been challenging, and expensive. We can not get them done on our EHIC card, but have to pay privately. So far but we have paid anything from €120 to €350! We went to a clinic on the outskirts of Nice. It was amazing service. The lady on reception was so apologetic that we had to pay, but said she would charge us the same price as French people. It cost €30. We were in and out within 5 minutes and they were apologetic that we would not get the results the next day as it was a bank holiday and they were closed!
We live such a privileged and special life and meet the most amazing people but just occasionally I think the universe gives me a kick up the bum to realise that not all people are so friendly.
French people are not always the most tolerant and there have recently been riots in the big cities. We were in Nice for Gay Pride, with everyone wearing white. Having been to Brighton Pride week in the past, it was such a shame there was not such a family atmosphere here. Homosexuality is not widely accepted in such a very Catholic country, and the amount of police with machine guns patrolling the area was sad to see. We got patted down and bags searched on entering, and we did not stay long as it felt so uncomfortable with such a big police presence.
Whilst in Nice we found a great lunchtime restaurant, which did a dish of the day with a glass of wine for £10. We ate fish with black risotto, veal with a sage butter sauce and stuffed tomatoes and peppers. The food was sensational and it was packed outside each day with us and the locals eating the set dish. The restaurant was named “Le Frog”, and all the Japanese and American tourists would go inside to the air con and order frogs legs and snails followed by duck leg in a cherry sauce! We would scooter into town, have our lunch and go for a swim afterwards. Sadly, on one occasion Jules had his scooter stolen which was padlocked up. The police nor our holiday insurance wanted to know, so it was an expensive annoyance. We just hope that the thief uses the scooter and didn’t abandon it once the battery went flat. At least the thief was kind enough to leave mine behind and as a result of the very kind lady who only charged us €30 for the blood tests, the amount of money we had put aside for them paid for the new scooter.
Our next horrid encounter was when we hired a car to go into the mountain villages near Menton. We had such a great day out, and enjoyed the cool of the hills. We had one of our favourite meals which was so simple and yet extremely delicious…. Ossining bucco with pasta and meat sauce, liberally sprinkled with the best Parmesan we have eaten and served with a salad. On our way to the hill villages we stopped at a red light on a zebra crossing and a car went straight into the back of us. The lady driver smelled of alcohol and gave us someone else’s insurance and identity papers. When I pointed this out she refused to wait for the police to arrive. She told us she was on the way to a baptism (in her bikini and with her dog) and had to leave. Luckily for us, apart from a dirty bumper, she did no actual damage and the lovely lady at the car rental did not charge us any excess.
Finally, we were walking the dogs along the sea front in Ville Franche, which is very upmarket, rich resort. A young lad of about eight was moaning to his American Dad that all he really wanted to do was go for a swim. The Dad was yelling at him and getting more and more aggressive. He turned to his son and shouted, “well go for a bloody swim”, and kicked him hard in the back and over the harbour wall. The kid could not swim or tread water in his clothes and was going under. Jules was about to go in, when the father slowly took off his designer watch and sunglasses, slipped off his Italian leather moccasins and placing his phone carefully on top before jumping in. It took him about 15 minutes to drag his son to a place where they could climb on rocks and get out. It was all I could do not to knock his stuff into the sea after him, but I was worried it would cause more problems for his son.
Sometimes it does me good to remember that not all people are nice, but we hope we have had our share of bad people for a while!
The Italian Riviera - by Patch
13 August 2023
We have loved Italy, and the Italians have really loved us! They are rather partial to little dogs and we got lots of cuddles. It did become a bit tiresome after a while, when we were just relaxing in the shade and a child wanted to know our names, stroke our head or pet our ears. I guess it is good practice for when we see Henry, but we have a deal with him - he can do what he wants as long as he feeds us. I don’t know why they needed our names, as the children gave Bertie a nickname, ‘il piu piccolo’ meaning ‘the littlest one’. Mom and Dad thought it was adorable and kept calling it him, which made me laugh! It rather upset him as he thinks he is big and tough. We also made lots of doggy friends, especially girlies. They were very excitable and very forward, but we liked that about them. They came in all sizes and shapes and some were a little overweight after too much pasta.
We loved the cafe lifestyle, at what mom calls ‘affordable prices’. We caught the funicular up into the old town of Imperia on the Italian riveria for coffee and croissants. Mom is addicted to ginseng coffee, which she claims has many health benefits and no caffeine at all. Just the smell of it makes Dad wrinkle his nose, as he swallows a mouthful of dark rich espresso coffee full of caffeine. I am rather partial to buttery croissants but Bertie won’t even try a piece. One morning we met a lovely German lady with her very pretty girl dog. The whole cafe were laughing as Bertie and I made strange noises to woo her. It turned out she was in season and being an absolute tease. Her owner was a very gentile lady who was embarrassed by her dog’s very unladylike behaviour. The old town of Imperia goes up and up with different funicular lifts on each level. We really liked wandering round the old palaces, monasteries and churches.
We also enjoyed the end of the day, having a promenade along the sea front or up into the old town. The evenings were a bit cooler which was great. We had a quick comb through before going out, as we had to look our best for the ladies. After a nice long walk we ended up in a little bar for a beer and aperol spritz. The Italians love the concept of free finger food with their aperitif. If we didn’t think the food was up to much, we moved on to the next place. Our favourite was tomato focaccia bread or Italian flat bread full of cheese, tomato and fresh basil.
Since flying back to the UK mom had felt a little under the weather with a cold, but last Sunday she felt quite unwell with a fever and cough. Due to the chemo which affects mom’s white cells and ability to fight infection, mom knew she needed to get it checked out. Dad went to the marina office to see what they could suggest, and the lady in the office rang the Guardian Medica (their equivalent of 111). Within half an hour a doctor and a paramedic were on the boat. Carlo, the doctor made us all laugh. Mom had translated everything into Italian on the phone, but he told her that he spoke several languages fluently and so did not need the translation. Then he began to talk, and mom and and Dad couldn't understand him at all and couldn’t look at each other in case they had a fit of the giggles. Apparently he had heard a ‘rumour’ on her lungs…..but all was well as it was a little rumour. It turned out she had bronchitis and the little rumour was evidence of a tiny amount of pneumonia in one lung. He wasn’t very keen on dogs, and wore very hippie clothes and a pagan top. When mom asked him about it, it turned out that he disliked the Pope and Catholic Church, and was indeed a pagan and had married a pagan in the pagan church. He probably only sees dogs as animal sacrifices! Bertie took against him and barked. Mom said she had been to a few pagan festivals and they got on like a house on fire. His phone kept ringing and instead of answering it, he sat on the settee doing Om sounds and making symbols with his fingers.
On Thursday we left Italy and headed back to Nice. Mom and Dad are a bit upset as the mainland of Italy has been absolutely brilliant. Next year they are planning to stay for longer and maybe follow the coast around to Rome. Leslie Frank has been moored on the quay here with all the super yachts. Dad has been Googling a few of them as they are all for sale. The prices range from about £15 million to £100 million so Leslie Frank is in very good company. After all she is priceless!
Nice and the Côte d’Azur
03 August 2023
We had an amazing night sail from Corsica to Nice. As the sun was setting we saw the spout from a fin back whale. It turned out there were two of them and the stayed near us for twenty minutes but we didn't get too close for fear of them tipping the boat. It was a magic moment which was followed by a pod of dolphins and then by shooting stars.
Nice harbour is in a great spot, just a few minutes away from the old quarter. We set off to have a look around and let the dogs off on the slipway to soak in the sea. Bertie fell off the end of the slipway into deep water and couldn't get back, so Jules went to help him. The black stuff on the slipway turned out to be vicious slime and Jules's feet went from under him. The next thing I knew he was on his back, knocked out cold! Luckily he wasn't out for long and some local fishermen came to help. There was blood everywhere, so they called an ambulance and the local cafe rushed over with ice for his head. Jules refused to go to hospital so the first ambulance crew called a second crew for another opinion. They agreed he could stay on the boat as long as I kept a careful eye on him and they cleaned and glued the wound!
Despite the accident we had a superb time. We would walk the dogs up into the town each morning for a coffee and croissant and then I would head off for a shop before lunch and a swim. We met a very friendly man who flies the rich and famous about in helicopters - from their summer houses, to their boats or to the casinos of Monte Carlo. We have googled the cost of some of the mega yachts here and even a euromillions win would only buy half the upper deck! The old town is amazing with cool alleyways, overhanging buildings and fabulous plazas. If you like quirky cafes and the smell of lavender and spices, it is the place to head for. The daily market is great, I would wander up and down eating slices of ice cold watermelon whilst admiring the local foods as well as the touristy tack. I now have all things lavender on the boat, which smells better than two wet dogs!
We had gone to Nice so I could fly home to collect more chemotherapy. It was a short 72 hour stop, but it was nice to be home. Sleeping in bed with PJ's and a thick duvet, compared to just a thin cotton sheet, and fans felt really good, as did my first bath in 4 months. It was great to see family and friends and have a proper Sunday roast cooked by mom, fish and chips with the neighbours and a curry with my sister. Henry, my nephew ,learnt to rock pool and paddle, which was great fun and he never complained when I managed to let him fall over backwards! My sister was extremely brave and put me on her car insurance, and was fantastic driving me to and from the airport.
I have been back on Leslie Frank for a week now. We left Nice and went to Villefranche sur Mer where we have eaten out and swam, visited markets and gone to Monte Carlo and over the border into Italy by train. It has been great fun, but nothing was as good as the news from my oncologist on Friday. The amount of cancer cells in my blood went from 34% in 2021 to 60% in 2022. They are now 1%. We were a little gutted they were not under 1% which would have made them undetectable, but for now 1% feels pretty amazing. My type of cancer never goes away, even if the levels are undetectable and the daily chemotherapy which I take is not designed to attack the cancerous cells but to prevent new ones from forming. 1% feels good, and as I always used to say to the kids at school, it gives me something to continue to aim at. I am incredibly lucky in so many ways!