The Pig Yard

April 2011

Last month had significant highs and lows. We celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary but at the time we had a cloud hanging over us because Jane had been recalled to the hospital after her mammogram. The news wasn't good. Jane's mum continues to give us concerns, particularly as we had a phone call one evening just before going out to dinner that she had had another fall. All was resolved but she still has a problem remembering to take her medication.
Jane is as sporting as ever and was a real star in the ladies Table Tennis competition where she got through to the finals before being knocked out by a very proficient 16 year old. The news on the building project and our bid for the Barlaston site is not good. Although it hasn't been officially confirmed it seems that another bidder has made an unconditional offer and therefore is likely to be accepted so we continue to look for our plot of land.

Breast Cancer Campaign Logo 

Jane Has Breast Cancer

With such a stark heading you may be shocked in the same way that we were when we heard the news. Jane went for her mammogram as usual and then she got a letter saying that she needed further investigation. The doctor was of the opinion that there was nothing to worry about with an 80% chance that it was nothing at all. After a biopsy it was discovered that Jane has Invasive Lobular Cancer and the size of the lump is about 5-7 millimetres.
The prognosis is good and the surgeon was very reassuring. They will remove the cancer and about an inch of tissue around the lump to make sure they get rid of it all. They will also remove some lymph nodes to make sure none of the cells have moved into other locations. Jane has day surgery booked for 9th May and it is expected that she will take about two weeks to recover from the operation. After two weeks we meet the cancer team and they decide on any follow up treatment which may consist of a combination of chemo, radio and hormone therapy.
As you might imagine this is not an easy time and the three week wait for the operation has been difficult. In the meantime Jane is trying to fit in as much activity and exercise as she can to compensate for the time when she will be recuperating. Steve is somewhat in denial but that's probably a man "thing". We discussed whether we should place this personal information on our web site and we decided that these issues are better out in the open so that our friends can ask questions and possibly share their own experiences because, as we've found, this is far more common than one would like to believe.

Ruby Wedding Anniversary

A bit overshadowed by other news, we celebrated our Ruby wedding anniversary by taking our nearest and dearest friends out for a meal. The last forty years seem to have flown by and our milestones are the changes in occupations and house moves. When we look back we've been so fortunate in that we've never had any major low points although we've had many, many high spots. Of course we've had the usual life experiences that anyone in their sixties would experience - the death of parents, close relatives, friends and work colleagues but we've never had any major illnesses, until now or any serious financial concerns. The photo is a beautiful flower arrangement created by Kate to mark our 40th.
And of course whatever we've experienced, the good and the bad, we've always experienced it together. We just look forward to the next 40 years when we will be 101, anything's possible.
Ruby Wedding Flowers 

Body found in field 

Human Remains Found

Excitement came to the village when human remains were found in a recently cropped field of elephant grass (for more information on this crop see October 2009). We happened to be out in the fields cutting wood (see below) and when we tried to come off the fields we were stopped by the police. Jane was already talking to the farmer because we wanted to let him know that we'd finished cutting the logs and so she was able to "assist the police in their enquiries" by lending them her iPhone.
After much rumour and speculation around the village it seems the body had been their for up to twelve months but its identity has not been established. All the local paper said was that it was a male aged between 20 and 30 with a brief description of some of the clothing found in the field. No doubt this was made all the more difficult by the fact that the elephant grass had been cut about a month ago. The cutting process consists of a fairly large combine harvester going over the field and then a baling machine follows on behind making the straw into very large bales which are then stacked.
Apparently when the bales were taken away small pieces of clothing were sticking out of some of them so no doubt there are body parts in there as well - gruesome.
For the Chronicle & Echo (local rag) newspaper report click here...

Garden improvements

Although we've been in the house for over 15 years there are still some areas of the garden that have escaped our attention and have been untouched other than to keep them weed free. One such area was next to the patio where we'd always had an intention to either extend the patio or lay turf.  An opportunity to do the latter arose when we learned that Martin & Kate were taking up their front lawn using one of those fancy lawn cutters. We went over to help and brought home about four square metres of turf. Admittedly it wasn't the same quality as one might find at Wimbledon but it was green.
We then had to prepare the ground. Whenever we dig in this garden we come across stone, brick and general rubble. This is because it used to be a farmyard surfaced with concrete and therefore underneath was hardcore. We dug up masses of the stuff. Eventually the ground was ready so Steve took on the task of laying it down. The ground wasn't very level and the turf hadn't been cut with an even thickness so the area now looks as though it's been laid by a band of gypsies. As everyone keeps reassuring us it will settle down eventually and blend in with the rest of the lawn. We may have to wait a long time for this to happen...
Turf preparation 

Small Egret 

Cycling and Watching

The weather in April was really kind to us with several days getting into the mid twenties (Celsius) or mid seventies for those still following the Fahrenheit system (only the USA). So we got out on our bikes, Jane more than Steve. We had some really lovely rides and there was always so much to see. Jane managed to snatch a photo of this Little Egret in the River Nene as it flows through Kislingbury. Little Egrets are a relatively new species to Northamptonshire and it seems they have been moving north over the past 20 years.
We explore rides that take us close to Northampton but avoid the main roads. One such route takes us out of the village down to the Northampton arm of the Grand Union Canal and then to Delapre Abbey where we stop for an Earl Grey tea before heading back taking a slightly different return journey via Kislingbury. To see a Google map of the route click here... You will be able to see our average speeds, variation in height and the calories used all thanks to an iPhone App that we use for cycling and walking.

Wood Cutting

The last winter was so severe it nearly ran our wood stock down to nothing so when a local farmer offered us access to some of his wood we leapt at the chance. April was the first month when we could get onto the land and make a start. The good wood is part of a pile that has a lot of brushwood, brambles and rubbish so we have to cut through this to get at the logs that we really want. We can't complain because the farmer leaves a large trailer for us to load and he then moves it closer to the village so we can then take it on our trailers for cutting and storage.
After several mornings spent cutting we have reclaimed a reasonable amount of wood, not enough for a winter but better than nothing. When the ground is less dry we've promised the farmer that we'll burn the brushwood and tidy up the site however if we had a fire now it's likely to get out of hand because the grass is so dry.
We're hoping to have a good selection of willow, ash and hawthorn by the time we've finished.
Wood Cutting 

 Jane at college June 1970

Jane - June 1970

As we featured a photo of Steve from his college days we thought it would only be right for Jane to suffer a similar exposure. The photo was sent to us by Peter Cooke who stayed in our cottage in the summer after our second year.
Steve admitted that when he saw this photo after all these years his heart skipped a beat and he fell in love all over again with this gorgeous creature. Jane thinks she looks fat in the photo so nothing changes.
The picture was taken because Jane was applying for a job working on a caravan site in Bee Sands, Devon. She worked all the hours god sent cleaning chalets and then working in the bar at night but she hardly saved any money because it was so poorly paid. This is in stark contrast to Steve who was well paid working in a Darlington bakery and made enough to send Jane books about brass rubbing. Nothing changes because Jane is still working hard at something she enjoys a great deal but can hardly be described as lucrative. This is in stark contrast to Steve who gets a reasonable pension and sits around enjoying the freedom to do what he wants, when he wants to.

Next Month...

We get the results of Jane's operation and by the end of the month we will know the medication regime she will be undergoing. More waiting, not knowing...
Steve will be selling the Porsche. This decision is one he has taken where his head is overruling his heart. He loves owning and driving the Porsche but why do two people need three cars? The plan is that we sell the Boxster and then we part exchange the Honda CRV for another 4x4, possibly a Skoda Yeti. Anyone want to buy a Porsche Boxster with 38,000 miles on the clock, 0 - 60 in a little over 6 seconds, 26 mpg and a top speed we daren't talk about?
 Porsche for sale

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