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  • Traveller or Tourist?

    Before I set off, one of the good wishes messages I had said 'be a traveller not a tourist' which I took to mean, slow down, don't try to do everything, spend some time doing 'local' stuff and savour every moment.

    So that's what I've been doing - and I'm having a fabulous time so far. 

    As I'm paying silly money for internet access I thought I may as well pop up a quick post here.

    A few random thoughts base don things people said to me before I set off...

    On Dubai Airport

    "It's all bling, you'll hate it"

    "It's all bling, you'll love it"

    Actually, it's just an airport with most of the same shops as any other airport I've been to.  I loved the diversity of travellers passing through representing all of humanity, found it oddly reassuring to be woken from fitful sleep in the lounge by the early morning call to prayer and equally annoying to hear the relentless cries of 'All gates A please take lift up'.

    On New Zealand

    "It's just like Scotland with better weather"

    "It's just like England with better weather"

    Actually, it's a lot like New Zealand!  Yes, very British-ish and yes, in some ways like Scotland and in some ways like England.  Certainly Auckland is an easy place for a middle-aged solo traveller to be, plenty to see and do, no language worries and the cars use the correct side of the road!

    A skinny latte roughly 1000 feet up:

    NZ 122.JPGOther gastronomic curiosities have been:

    a square donut at Dubai airport

    a spinach muffin (it worked!) in Auckland

    seemingly beef and cheese pie is the local fast food indelicacy, so maybe that'll get tried too.

    Lots of outings booked and paid for - and plenty of time just to 'kick back' and relax.

    More pics and comments to follow in due course...

  • Ready for the off


    Bags packed

    Online check-in checked in

    Excitement being permitted to emerge

    Next post may be upside down!

    Hopefully 'speak' to you from NZ, if not in a fortnight back here!

  • Least - but still In...

    Today's lectionary took us the next step into Matthew 5 and the scary words about righteousness exceeding that of the pharisees:

    Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

    What it does not say is

    ...whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be expelled from the kingdom of heaven

    ...whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be excluded from the kingdom of heaven

    ...whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be forbidden to enter the kingdom of heaven

    In other words, even if or, more properly, when we foul up, or misunderstand the commandments, it is not 'game over' it's just, well, maybe demotion to the bottom of the class.

    So, gentle readers, what might the 'least of these comandments' be?  The ones about polycotton knickers?  The ones about those tattoos?  The ones about not planting different seeds in the same patch of ground?  The ones about mildewed buildings?  The ones about vomit or menstruation or (ahem) ejaculation?

    At least the greatest commandments are clear:

    When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, ‘“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’

    So just maybe, each and every time we fail on the small ones (which we either don't know or can't remember) we can remind ourselves of the greatest one and begin again...


  • Fitting Anniversary Markers...

    I fly out to New Zealand on 10th Feb - exactly three years to the date from when I left hospital after my mastectomy.  I still had a drain in and would develop a persistent seroma that took several attempts to clear, was weak, weary and had restricted arm movement - but I was SO happy to be home again.

    The conference is on 20th and 21st Feb - exactly two years since my then six-monthly check-up confirmed that I was officially one year disease free, one year NED.

    I arrive home on 25th Feb - the date originally scheduled for my three year check-up, but which was brought forward a month on the advice of my team who told me 'never, ever, book your holidays round your appointments'... so sort of my three year NEDiversary.

    Three years ago the idea that I would be heading off, on my own, to the far side of the planet, to speak at a conference would have seemed utterly ridiculous.  Now I am daring to dream little dreams and, whilst the shadows never quite disappear, I'm better at ignoring them!

    Tomorrow will be the last of the packing and houseworking, a normal busy Sunday and then... wow, off I go!

  • Acknowledgements...

    Well, I think I have now ticked all the essential boxes for my trip to NZ next week but there isn't enough space on the front of my conference paper for a list of those whose help, support and encouragement I'd like to acknowledge, so I'll do it here.  Thank you...

    To W and to A who independently (they have never met to my knowledge) spotted the conference call for papers and suggested I submit one.... it's all your fault guys!

    To the 24 people who repsonded to my sabbatical project questionnaire - that work is not reported in my paper but it certainly informed my thinking.  I will get it written up and some threads drawn.

    To the Gatherers who have shared my 'journey' and who inspired aspects of the story I tell

    To the medical professionals at WIG, Beatson WoSCC and GRI, especially Mr W and Sr McL, without whose care who knows if there would be a story to tell

    To my GP and her practice staff who are always there - and who provided, free of charge, the necessary paperwork to enable me to take my drugs into NZ

    To the women affected directly by breast cancer who have travelled with me and encouraged me to tell my story, especially SGs and Gs, and remembering L and C who died way too young

    To the minister friends who reassured me that my thoughts were worthy (even without reading them!)

    To D and A who read drafts, spotted typos, made encouraging noises and helped me craft a stronger ending

    To those who have asked to read the paper once it has been presented, giving me confidence that my ideas will be received

    To the people who gave me money for ice-creams in NZ

    To the people who offered me lifts to or from the airport

    To J who will care for Holly whilst I am away

    To L who will preach the two Sundays I am absent

    And to you, gentle readers, who politely read what I write, some long term cyber friends, others who land here via key word searches


    I will carry all these people - and the ones I forgot to mention - in my heart as I fly to the far side of the planet, for all are part of my story.