I'm sitting in the conservatory, sunshine streaming through the glass and warming me up. Lady Sybil (cat) is asleep on the other armchair, basking in the heat and dreaming feline dreams.
My positive, happy streak continues. On Friday afternoon, Amy and I drove through to Tunbridge Wells to look for a glamorous frock for me to wear to the VIP event I have been lucky enough to be invited to by my old friend from uni, Fin. He has invited me to be his guest at the Olivier Awards at the Royal Opera House and at the after-show party as well, so I shall be engaging in some major celebrity spotting, probably looking completely star-struck as I recognise faces that have been on my tv or film screen over the years.....I shall try to preserve some air of sophistication, an attempt to be very cool about the fact that I am breathing in the same air as the elite of London's theatres, but I can't imagine I will be very successful! Anyway, as you can imagine, a glittering evening demands a suitable dress. While I have some lovely posh frocks, they are all too big for me now and it's important to feel you're looking your best, isn't it? I was recommended a vintage clothes shop in T Wells, so off we went to have a look at it.
It's strange how calling something "vintage" somehow makes it sound less like second-hand, which is, after all, what it is! It's not much different from buying clothes in a charity shop, just a different price range and designer labels rather than high street names. The woman who runs the shop was really helpful - we explained what the occasion was and she asked me what kind of dress I wanted and then picked out several dresses for me to try on. I had gone in thinking that I would get something quietly under-stated and subtle (no point in trying to compete with people who are given gowns for the evening by designers desperate to have their creations featured on the red carpet, I feel!) but in the end, I came out with something quite the opposite! As soon as I put it on, I knew it was the one to get and Amy and the shop owner agreed. It capitalises on the fact that I am slimmer than I've ever been and just makes me feel like a million dollars. It needs to be shortened, as at the moment I trip over the hem, being a bit of a shorty! It's been worn once, for a photo-shoot for a magazine feature, so the model would have been typical model height and considerably taller than I am! I also need a couple of stitches to protect my modesty, as it presents a certain corsetry challenge, shall we say?? It's a beautiful dress and needs very little accessorising, so no need for lots of jewellery. I've got the perfect shoes and bag to go with it, so I just need to work out how I shall wear my hair and do the other various grooming routines. I'm so glad I had my make-up session at the Marsden last week, as I definitely feel more confident when I have made up my face.
Amy got a beautiful dress, which she shared with everyone on Facebook - a great bargain, as it is a David Emanual (of Princess Diana's wedding dress fame) with the tag still attached and we got it for a phenomenally low price. She wore it to the wedding we went to on Saturday, when Neil's oldest nephew got married. That was a lovely occasion - seeing two people making that commitment to each other and being part of their very special day is such a privilege. It was great to catch up with Neil's family too, who had gathered in Luton (bride's home town) from their homes in Devon, Suffolk and Hampshire. Amy and Adam were a great credit to us and we were very proud of them - Adam spent a long time talking to the bridegroom's grandma (no blood relation to us), who didn't really know anyone except for her son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren and he really looked after her and afterwards said how much fun he'd had chatting to her. Meanwhile, Amy got her cousins up onto the dance floor and was the leader of the energetic dancing! Adam got up to join her and it was so lovely to see the two of them laughing together and having fun with their cousins. Adam had only got home from uni at about half eleven the previous night, so we were delighted to have him back again and have our little family unit complete once more, even if he's only home for two weeks.
I had volunteered to drive us home from Luton, since Neil doesn't often get the chance to spend time with his family and he spent all of last year ferrying me around, so I felt that he should have the chance to have a couple of beers if he wanted and not have to take the responsibility of driving us home. I did start to flag at about half nine but it took another three quarters of an hour to get our children off the dance floor, as they were having such a good time, leaping around and "busting their moves", as I believe the young people say nowadays <old gimmer emoticon>.... The drive home was fine and was the farthest I've driven in over a year, so that's another milestone achieved.
Quiet day on Sunday, church and then lounging about reading the Sunday papers and cooking a roast dinner - how lovely it was to be sitting all together round the table again! Adam went out in the evening to catch up with his friends (he is working all over Easter at Disability Challengers playscheme and also doing 1-2-1 work with a young boy with severe autism, whom he and Amy have worked with for several years now, so won't have that much free time to see his mates) and Amy, Neil and I played a board game.
Today, I've been round to my friend Sally's for tea and birthday cake, as it's her birthday today. I absolutely love my life right now - I feel healthy, I have my lovely family and friends around me, I am starting to give something back by helping out at Orpheus and I feel altogether more positive about things than I have done in a long time. Yes, it's sobering to remember that a year ago yesterday, I had my biopsy and, looking back, the fact that the doctor went straight for a biopsy rather than a fine needle sample should have started some alarm bells ringing, but that's what hindsight does for you! Four months ago, I couldn't see that I would ever have any energy again, yet now I am exercising on a regular basis and finding more stamina every week.
I'm alive and I'm grateful.