Priscilla

Well, it’s been a really rough three weeks. The first thing that happened was on January 1, no kidding, when I came down with a case of the flu (much worse than the before-Xmas flu). It’s going around. A lot of people are sick with this thing. Anyway, it hit me with a very high fever and huge gastrointestinal issues. Terrible. Plus, one night, delirious with fever, I fell against the bathroom wall and injured my wrist. Ouch.

Because my wrist was all swollen and hurt like the dickens, and I feared it might be fractured, Stefano took me to the emergency room at Florence’s university hospital, Careggi. We spent 13 hours there. They checked me out thoroughly, not just my wrist, but everything, from head to toe.

Result: I had pneumonia, but luckily my wrist wasn’t broken. No fractures, nothing. Just a bad trauma. So they put a sort of splint (which was partly a cast, too) on my arm for a week, and now that the cast is off, I have to wear a brace for another 10 days or so. My wrist will be fine. Oh, and my pneumonia is gone, but I still have to be careful…so I’m convalescent, well, I’ve actually been convalescent for more than a week now.

So things are getting better for me, physically, I mean, and in fact I can finally use my left hand to type a little bit.

But something simply awful happened on Friday morning. I found Priscilla, our 14.5 year old cat, lying on the bathroom floor, panting, not moving at all. She didn’t respond to my voice, as she usually does. Scared the heck out of me. Here I was, with a brace on my arm, unable to do anything for her…pick her up, etc.

I called my cat sitter who came over and drove us to the vet clinic.

In a nutshell, after a whole bunch of tests were done on Priscilla, we found out that she had advanced heart failure and that her chest was full of pleural fluid, which the vets aspirated, well, most of it. The prognosis wasn’t good, of course. But the vets said that if she responded to treatment, she could come home with us…as early as today, Monday, yes. So we left her at the clinic. We really didn’t have a choice, since we believed that she would get strong enough to come home…

Knowing what I know now, I wish now that we’d just brought her home on Saturday.

Yesterday, early Sunday evening, that is, Stefano and I were preparing to go see her at the clinic, at the regular visiting times, when we got an urgent call from the clinic. Priscilla had gotten much worse, and we were told that she was on her way out.

We rushed over to the clinic, but we arrived too late. She had passed away just a few minutes before we got there.

We didn’t have a chance to hold our sweet kitty and say goodbye, and let her know that we were there and loved her. And that’s what’s killing me right now…and Stefano, too, of course.

It just went so fast. Too fast. We weren’t prepared at all for this. She was here with us on Friday…and gone yesterday.

We’re devastated. Absolutely shattered. We now need time to mourn…we need time…Oh, this is so hard. I just wanted to let you know that I probably won’t be here on the blog or FB anytime soon. Sorry about that. I’ll be okay, but, as I said, I need some time…

Now I need to stop typing because my wrist is bugging me.

Take care, everyone. I’ll be back as soon as I feel better. Ciao!!!

Buone Feste! Happy Holidays!

Well, this year I have to admit that I don’t have much in the way of a festive spirit, which is very unusual for me. I have always loved the Xmas holidays, decorating the house, making cookies, etc.

Not this year.

There are several reasons why I’ve been down and out about the holidays. One is that Stefano and I were supposed to be in Prague right now, lovely Prague with its glittering streets and Xmas markets…but instead we’re still here, in Florence. We had to cancel our trip to Prague because I came down with a rather nasty case of the flu (high fever, etc.) on the eve of our departure.

Of course, now I’m fine… 😉

Typical.

That’s not the main reason I’m all down and out, just one of the many. But I can’t talk here about the other ones (which have nothing to do with me or my health, or with Stefano, mind you!). Suffice it to say that this hasn’t been a brilliant period…not at all. I keep getting bad news about people who are close to me…And I’m sure all that accumulated stress contributed to my finally giving in to a stupid case of the flu. Ahhhh, stress…How sneaky it can be…

Anyway, we’re trying our best to put together a nice little Xmas just for the two of us. Stefano is in the kitchen right now, cooking up a storm. Yesterday he made a huge pot of broth (his broth is legendary…) and other yummies. Today he’s making a huge meat sauce. I made a fantastic cake. So one thing is for sure: we won’t die of hunger! 😉

The day after Xmas we may drive to northern Italy. Or we’ll stay here at home, watch Xmas movies and get some rest. We’ll see what we feel like doing. The important thing is to be together…

Anyway, sorry for not being my usual optimistic cheery self, but I’ll get over it. 2020 is around the corner, and this dastardly period of bad (and very bad) news just has to end. Enough is enough!

So, with that in mind, I hope you are all having a wonderful restful and fun holiday period…

HAPPY HOLIDAYS, everyone! 🙂

A FEW HOURS LATER: Okay, okay, OKAY! I am MUCH more in the holiday spirit now. We decided to go on a short trip with my brother-in-law and his family day after tomorrow. Yes, some fun is back in the holidays again. I’m almost back to my old festive self now, hehe.

Love and happiness to everyone! 😎

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Let’s have some chillies!

I just read a nice bit of news this morning. A new Italian study shows that eating peperoncini, the Italian word for chilli peppers (also spelled chili, with one “l,” mainly in the U.S.), can cut our risk of having a heart attack or stroke by 40%. Yes, by a whopping 40%!!!

Here’s the link to the CNN article about this study: https://cnn.it/36Fatro

It should be noted that other researchers cast a few doubts on the study’s findings, pointing out that perhaps people who eat chillies are also eating more vegetables, as well as other herbs and spices, so it would be difficult to figure out if the purported health benefits are determined by one single food item.

Okay, that may well be true, but we have another BIG reason to eat chillies…

Capsaicin, which is an active component of chillies, kills myeloma cells. So even if chillies don’t end up protecting us from heart attacks and strokes (they may or may not), we should definitely be using them in the kitchen…!!!

Curcumin and myeloma: a new patient study

A very small Indonesian study came up with some interesting conclusions about curcumin given to myeloma patients who were also taking melphalan and prednisone (MP): http://bit.ly/348vHwY

The study evaluated two groups of myeloma patients, a control group of 16 patients who took only the MP, and a treatment group consisting of 17 people who also took 8 grams of curcumin in addition to the MP.

After 28 days, as we can read in the study, “There was a significant decrease of NF-KB, VEGF, TNF-?, LDH levels in the treatment group compared with control. There was a decreasing trend of IL-6 levels in the treatment group significantly.”

Now, true, this was a very small study, and it lasted only for 28 days, but it just adds to the anecdotal evidence that curcumin can reaaaaaaaaaally help, even when one has to take conventional myeloma drugs.

So, for the umpteenth time, I ask: when are we going to start testing curcumin, alone or in combination with conventional MM drugs, on a larger scale?

(My guess: NEVER. Simply put, curcumin won’t make a profit for the pharmaceutical companies that hold us all hostage…).

Still, let’s end on a positive note: very good news from Indonesia!!! 🙂

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Treat so-called “high-risk” smoldering myeloma…Yes or No?

My (predictable) answer is “NO, absolutely NOT.” Not until you begin having CRAB symptoms. But first things first…

I began writing this post last week, then I just had too many things to do so I didn’t finish my draft. Then, yesterday morning, before going to work, I came across an article by Dr. Brian Durie (I don’t think I need to explain who he is!) making some of the points I had already made in my draft, BUT from the point of view of a world-famous hematologist.

So I decided to cut my draft in half and give you the link to Dr. Durie’s piece: http://bit.ly/2WWwsX9

But, of course, I still have some comments to make… 😉 

First, though, a bit of background. In a recent trial, the ECOG trial that Dr. Durie refers to in his article, lenalidomide was administered to so-called “high risk” smoldering myeloma patients. Based on the trial results, the authors state that lenalidomide “may” delay progression to active myeloma.

Yes, this was a “big” SMM trial, the biggest to date, anyway, with 182 participants…but, according to Dr. Durie, “Of the 180 patients in the ECOG trial, only 13 with HR-SMM received treatment with lenalidomide. Though their outcomes were improved versus observation alone, this is an extremely small number of patients as a basis for a “standard of care.” In addition, the remaining patients (the vast majority of them) were those with lower-risk SMM, and they did not achieve benefit with treatment. This is important on many levels, not least because the criteria for the diagnosis of HR-SMM are currently in flux.”

There are many points of discussion here. First of all, based on data from only 13 patients, the authors recommend that lenalidomide be offered to patients with “HR” SMM. Based on data, I repeat, from only 13 patients, the authors suggest that lenalidomide should become a “standard of care” for the so-called “high-risk” smoldering myeloma patients…

Does that make sense? Not to me…and not to Dr. Durie.

Secondly, why the heck were lower-risk SMM patients included in this study??? Ooooh, that makes my blood boil.

And it begs the question: why did these patients agree to be included? This just goes to show that we (patients) need to be more informed, much more informed, about what we might be getting into…I’m not saying those patients weren’t informed, perhaps they were, but boyohboy, if my hematologist suggested that I participate in a study testing a conventional drug with potentially very bad side effects, you can imagine what I’d say…

And, thirdly, what Dr. Durie says about the “criteria for the diagnosis” of “high-risk” SMM is something I’ve been saying over and over again in various posts on this topic, and that I’d made in my draft last week, too. And that is why I want to put it in BOLD lettering: the experts themselves do NOT agree on the definition of “high risk smoldering myeloma.

And hey, if THEY can’t agree, how can I trust them to tell me that I need to start taking a drug that might give me some serious adverse effects and bring my quality of life down a notch or even several notches? Sure, it might not. I might react perfectly well to the drug and be perfectly fine. But nobody can tell me that taking lenalidomide is as safe as taking a vitamin pill. There are a number of potentially very bad side effects, including the onset of other types of cancer (as well as blood clots, severe liver problems, etc.).

And in fact, according to Dr. Durie, “Among treated patients, 40% came off treatment due to toxic adverse events.”

40%. That’s quite a large number, don’t you think?

Interesting note. Dr. Durie also writes: “If a patient with SMM progresses, what is that? Is it myeloma? Maybe, maybe not.” Precisely. Nobody knows. When you begin fiddling with SMM, things can get very muddy. Did you progress to active MM because of the cancer or possibly because of the drugs you were taking? There are so many factors involved in progression…most of them, still unknown.

One last…rant. Whenever I read about patient trials, I always ask myself how these folks are doing, how lenalidomide (in this case) has affected their quality of life, if at all. I mean, what’s the bloody point of surviving for a longer time, or of delaying progression to myeloma, if you’re going to spend most of that time in a hospital, fighting off infections, skin rashes, blood clots, or…well…or worse?

Studies don’t provide us with that vital bit of information…

And they should.

P.S. The full study is available online for free, so you can take your own look at it and draw your own conclusions (I have only skimmed it…no time to do more that that right now…but I will read the full shebang soon!): http://bit.ly/34Eqe0U

P.P.S.S. The basic information is also contained in this Mayo Clinic press release, dated October 26, 2019: http://bit.ly/2NLKmax

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Dirty dishes

I’ve been interested in this topic ever since, months ago, I watched an interview on CNN with the neuroscientist Matthew Walker. Eight hours of sleep, he says, is what we need. Eight hours of sleep in complete darkness (otherwise our brains won’t release melatonin, something I didn’t know…).

An important point (again, something I didn’t know!): taking naps to catch up on our sleep doesn’t count.

“Unfortunately, says Matthew Walker,” “sleep is not like the bank. You cannot accumulate a debt and then hope to pay it off at a later time.”

And, he added, “Human beings are the only species that deliberately deprive themselves of sleep.” Now I sort of envy my cats who sleep most of the day, as can be seen in these recent photos …zzzzz…!!!

Anyway, since that interview, I’ve come across other articles on the negative effects of not getting enough sleep, which a 2019 study has tied to increases in two Alzheimer’s proteins (http://bit.ly/33q1uJ9).

Yikes…!

A 2013 study (https://n.pr/316zAQT) showed that our brains need a certain amount of time to get rid of harmful proteins, and that time has to occur at night. The brain, says the main researcher, is like a dishwasher. I really like that simile…It helps us visualize how things work. I mean, if you turn off your dishwasher before it has finished its full cycle, you will end up with a bunch of dirty dishes, right? Same thing if you wake up before you SHOULD …Those dirty dishes can really clog your brain! 😉

I’m actually writing about this topic today because this morning I read about a NEW study showing that sleep deprivation shuts down the production of essential brain proteins: http://bit.ly/2nDzimP

Gee whiz!

Oh, and sleep deprivation has also been linked to cancer…quelle surprise…not!

This topic therefore isn’t entirely unconnected to myeloma. The main thing is that we need our sleepall eight hours of it!

Oh, one last thing: since reading about the importance of sleeping in “total darkness,” I’ve begun wearing a mask at night, nothing fancy, just a plain black mask that covers my eyes. Oh boy, it does make a difference: I don’t wake up as much during the night…and even the cats don’t disturb my sleep (well, not as much as they did before!) when, e.g., they walk over my body or rub up against my face…Give it a try!

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Busy busy busy

Time does fly, doesn’t it? Yesterday I realized I haven’t posted anything since September 6 (!). Ouch! I don’t think that’s my record for NOT posting, but it has to be close!

Anyway, this morning I have a bit of free time, hah!, so I thought I’d post a note just to let you know that I’m fine, Stefano’s fine, the kitties are fine. We’re just all SUPER BUSY! Well, okay, truth be told, the kitties aren’t that busy,  except with finding the best spot to take a nice nap,  preferably on our bed, in the sunlight…Or, as in the above photo, on the couch (Pandora, on the left, and Pinga)…

Busy busy busy, therefore, but in the back of my mind is the lovely study that Sherlock sent to me a while ago (at my request) about the potential anti-cancer activity of herbal extracts. There’s so much information in that study that it’s going to be difficult for me to squeeze at least some of it into a post…But I’m not worrying about that right now, since I don’t have the time to do any research, anyway. But…soon…soon…SOON!

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy these recent photos of three of our (seven!) kitties…The handsome black cat is our Prezzemolo.

For now, let me just say that I hope everyone is doing well! Okay, ciaooooo! 😎 

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Wow, what a holiday!

Stefano and I returned from England almost a week ago, last Saturday evening, but since then I’ve had a million things to do, not just heaps of laundry, food shopping, and the usual household-related stuff (cat litter, cat this, cat that, cat everything!), but also getting together with my girlfriends, a very important part of my life!, AND planning my English lessons for next week.

I still  need to fit my sessions at the rehab center into my weekly schedule. These are the workouts I still need to do both for my shoulder AND for my tendinitis, which actually behaved incredibly well after the first week or so on holiday. No pain, I mean, and I think my shoulder’s movement range has really improved…back to normal, possibly? Stefano thinks it still needs some work, so I’ll leave it up to the physiotherapist.

Oh, speaking of Stefano, he and I, together with our beloved next-door neighbor, are going to start taking Pilates classes together, just the three of us, in our living room (the last time I took a Pilates class in a nearby gym, I came down with some sort of flu bug…lots of germs in gyms, best to avoid for those of us with impaired immune systems!), starting next week. Hey, we’re all getting older, and Pilates is easy and low impact…at least at the level we’re at! Plus, Pilates, at least the way we do it 😉 , is a lot of fun…

Anyway, lots to do, busybusybusy…

But I do have a bit of time right now (note: I began this post three days ago…!) to tell you about our holiday. Very VERY nice. Stefano and I still haven’t been able to decide which part of the holiday was the best. The three areas we visited (Peak District, Lake District, and Whitby), in fact, are just too different…so it’s difficult to find a winner, but I did manage to come up with the following list…my own personal thoughts (not Stefano’s, that is)…

The winner for “beauty”: the Lake District. We visited all the main lakes, Windermere, Ullswater, Derwentwater, etc., but the last one, Wast Water (photo on right and above photo, too), a glacial lake with transparent water, surrounded by mountains, the deepest lake in the District, has something magical about it. Absolutely glorious. Gold medal, for sure. If I’d worn my bathing suit that day, I’d have gone for a swim. But, unfortunately, we hadn’t thought it would been warm enough to do more than dip our toes in the water. Stefano didn’t even bring his sandals! (I did.) Oh well. I did take a photo of my feet (in my Teva sandals) underwater…The water is so clear, you can’t tell if my Teva-ed feet are actually underwater…

The winner for “fun”: the time we spent hunting for fossils on the beaches around Whitby and Sandsend, Yorkshire coast. More about this further on. Fantastic!

The winner for “historical interest”: one of the Peak District’s villages, Eyam, known as “the plague village.” In the 17th century, this village lost 260 (I also read 267) of its inhabitants to the plague in a period of 14 months. That amounts to more than THREE QUARTERS of the entire village. Impressive, eh.

It all began with a bale of cloth that was sent from plague-ridden London to Eyam. The cloth was infested with fleas carrying the plague. The tailor’s assistant, George Viccars, opened the deadly parcel and hung the cloth to dry in front of a fireplace. The consequences of this act were devastating. George was the first Eyam inhabitant to die of the plague on September, 1665. He lived with the Hadfield family in the so-called “Plague Cottage” (see photo on left and below). Every single member of that family came down with the plague and died, with the exception of the mother, Mary…

But the extraordinary part of Eyam’s plague story is that, albeit a bit reluctantly at first, as can be imagined!!!, the entire village decided that it should quarantine itself (remember, we’re in the 17th century here!!!). And so a circle of boundary stones was set up, surrounding the village, and nobody, not even those who didn’t show any symptoms of the plague, was allowed in…or out. An amazing gesture of self-sacrifice that spared the lives not only of the inhabitants of neighboring villages but probably saved the entire north of England from contracting this deadly disease.

Food and supplies for the unfortunate inhabitants of Eyam were left on the outskirts of the village…Stefano and I walked outside the village to see and photograph the famous Boundary Stone (above photo), where food and other supplies were left by merchants and neighboring villagers. In return, the residents of Eyam left coins inside the holes that you can see in the photos. The holes were filled with vinegar, thought to be enough of a disinfectant. Apparently, there are other boundary stones, but this is the most famous one.

On the sign next to the Stone, I read the touching story of two lovers: he, Rowland Torre, lived in Stoney Middleton, a village very close to Eyam. She, Emmott Sydall, lived in Eyam. I quote from the sign: “At first, Rowland would visit Emmott in the village, but when they realised this was too dangerous, the lovers would arrange to meet secretly but at a distance, minimalizing any risk of Rowland contracting the disease.” Apparently they could see each other but weren’t close enough to chat. In April, 1666, though, Emmott stopped coming to these meetings.

Rowland didn’t lose hope but continued for months to go to their meeting place, and he was one of the first to re-enter Eyam “when it was pronounced safe towards the end of 1666.” But, as expected, Emmott had died…in April, in fact. So sad, eh…!!!

Another “dropping off supplies” site is Mompesson’s Well, which is high up on a hill, rather far from Eyam, well, “far” in terms of walking distance. We visited that, too. During the plague, the villagers of Eyam dropped coins (as payment for the food, etc.) into the water, thinking they would be “purified” from the plague.

Anyway, if you go to the Peak District, you MUST go to Eyam. Very very VERY interesting. Very good tearoom in the village, too!

Close runner up for “historical interest”: the Neolithic Castlerigg Stone Circle, above photo, near Keswick, Lake District…This is one of the earliest stone circles in the UK, probably some sort of meeting place, but what it was actually used for still remains a mystery. Beautiful setting, as you can see, with 360-degree views of the countryside. We went back there twice…just couldn’t take enough photos…

The winner for “took my breath away,” literally!: Stanage Edge, Peak District. Quite a climb for me, at the beginning of our holiday when I was still in a bit of pain from my tendinitis. But, oh, the views…Terrific. It’s not surprising that Stanage Edge was used in, as far as I know, at least one of the “Pride and Prejudice” movies (not my favorite one, for sure…but…). Anyway, after that rather steep ascent, noticing how much my walking stick helped me on the rather unsteady ground and rocks, Stefano decided to buy himself a walking stick, too…He loves it! 😉

At one point I was standing on top of a rock, taking in the view and taking photos, when a head popped up right at my feet and exclaimed, “Well hello there!!!,” giving me such a start that I almost lost my balance. Very amusing…well, I suppose that if I’d lost my balance and fallen off that rock, perhaps it wouldn’t have been so amusing. ;-) Yes, Stanage Edge is a popular place for rock climbing, as you can see in the first SE photo…

The winner for “cutest animal/s”: this is a difficult one, but I’m going for the sheep, which were everywhere, not just munching grass in all the fields but also strolling about in the roads, often stopping traffic. In the Lake District, there is a particular breed known as Herdwick sheep. I became a bit obsessed with trying to take a good photo of at least one. I think I was relatively successful with this sweet little lamb who hadn’t been shorn like his mother, I suppose because of the chilly temperatures. Isn’t he (she?) adorable?

I was also impressed, especially in the Lake District, by the number of people with dogs, dogs of all shapes and sizes…dogs everywhere. And you could take your dog anywhere, even in stores. There were quite a few dogs in our inn, too. Very dog-friendly areas. I approve, of course. At times I would just sit on a bench and enjoy watching dogs fetch balls from the lakes or the sea…Fun.

Note: during our entire trip, I never saw one single cat, not even sitting or lying in a window. Evidently, these are mostly dog areas…?

Let’s see…what else can I tell you? I think the best thing to do is give you a few snippets of things that we did. Here goes…

An  adventure in the…Devil’s Arse: I almost got stuck, no no no, I am incredibly serious…literally STUCK!!!, inside Peak Cavern, also (lovingly, hehe) known as the Devil’s Arse. Well, that Arse almost got me! No, seriously! I was the last member of the group to bend down and almost crawl through a very low spot, and I didn’t realize until it was too bloody late that I was on the lowest side of the passage, the right side. About halfway through, I realized that I could barely move…I couldn’t go back, couldn’t go forward. My knapsack was up against the ceiling of this low passage. I admit, I almost panicked. Stefano had gone ahead and couldn’t see that I was in a bit of trouble.

Finally, I put my hand down in the mud and crept slowly over to the left side. That worked. I managed to “unstick” myself and was able to join the rest of the group. A bit scary, though. For that reason, I didn’t visit the Treak Cliff Cavern, even though it had much more appeal to me than the Peak one. Stefano went into the Treak Cliff Cavern, though, and took enough photos for the two of us, while I waited in the museum and gift shop area, which had absolutely beautiful Blue John stones and jewelry (see photo above, taken in the museum).

York Shambles: the Shambles, allegedly the best preserved Medieval street in the world (hmmm…), is located in the lovely city of York. The main appeal for us is that it was the inspiration for Diagon Alley (Harry Potter). Unfortunately, we weren’t the only ones to be aware of that: the Shambles was absolutely jammed with tourists.

I went inside the three “Harry Potter” shops, especially The Shop That Must Not Be Named, see photo (sign’s on the left…You can park your broom right outside the shop, hehe, cute idea…), and of course I bought a few things for us and a few gifts for our cat sitter, who is the only other TRUE Harry Potter fanatic in my acquaintance.

As for the Shambles, apparently you can touch both sides of the street if you stand with your arms outstretched, but, because of the crowds, I wasn’t able to verify that…

Whitby: we spent three full days in this very pretty coastal town on the Yorkshire coast, famous mainly because it was used by Bram Stoker in his “Dracula.” Lots of Dracula references in Whitby…

Anyway, on our first day there, we took the steam train from Whitby to Pickering and then back again, and that was fun (our first steam train trip ever), although I expected the scenery to be more spectacular, to be honest. But we enjoyed stopping at Goathland Station and taking photos of the bridge that was used in the first Harry Potter movie. Actually, the entire station was transformed into Hogsmeade Station, for those of you who have read the HP books and seen the movies. Oh, yes, I know, I know, stop it, Margaret, with all the HP stuff! Okay, I won’t even post a photo…Hehe.

On our last day in Whitby, with its very interesting ruined Abbey (photo on right), I read that the entire surrounding coast is Jurassic…and that you can find 150-million-year-old FOSSILS right on the beach, if you’re lucky. Well, even though the best period to find decent fossils is in the autumn after a heavy storm, we set off anyway on a fossil hunt, which is always fun, even if you find…absolutely nothing (which happened to us in fact on the Jurassic coast in Dorset years ago…we looked and looked but found nothing except a pile of rocks, some of which we brought home and are, still unopened, sitting on a shelf in my study…).

Well, surprise surprise, this time we found what we consider to be some really good fossils on two of the beaches near Whitby! Yes, a REAL fossil hunter would probably scoff at the fossils we found and toss them back onto the beach, but we were soooo  excited and happy with everything we found…mostly ammonites. At one point we had so many that we left the broken ones we’d found in the beginning on the beach. Here’s the photo of one that we brought back with us…

An official sign stated that if you find fossils ON the beach, you can keep them. What is absolutely forbidden is hacking away at the cliffs, which we would never have done in any case…but I did see a young couple encourage their little boy to hit the cliffs with a hammer. I went up to them, such a busybody, eh!, and asked them if what they were doing was “okay” (obviously , I knew that it wasn’t). The mother answered that she was a resident in the area (as though that made it OK, hello???) and that normally she wouldn’t let her little boy use a hammer on the cliffs, but today she’d made an exception. Hmmm. I left it at that…But I’m sure my face expressed my disapproval…

Anyway, as I mentioned, the fossils we found were right on the beach, under the cliffs, possibly discarded by the serious fossil hunters. Since it was all perfectly legal, we brought a few of the best ones back home with us, to Florence…

Chasing balloons: at one point, on one of the fossil beaches, I noticed a white balloon flitting about, unattended. I began chasing it, as did a woman nearby. During the chase, we exchanged our thoughts on balloons, which can be summed into this one sentence: balloons are AWFUL for the fauna. One of the worst things ever: they kill countless numbers of turtles, dolphins and other marine (and non-marine, for that matter) animals who mistake them for food, jellyfish for example…I mean, it’s simply outrageous. Oh, and balloons are also a total waste of helium. Anyway, for all those reasons, balloons should be BANNED all over the world. No more stupid releases into the air. We need to find a less noxious way to celebrate festivities. Anyway, she and I reached the balloon together…She popped it and went off with it, since I was still walking ahead, whereas she was about to leave the beach.

We visited so many places that it’s hard to list them all, from Chatsworth House and marvelous Haddon Hall (Peak District) to Hill Top House (Beatrix Potter’s home in the Lake District…by the way, this photo shows one of her original drawings, on display in the Beatrix Potter Gallery in Hawkshead).

We had sticky toffee pudding (well, many of those, to be honest, hehe) in the place where it was invented, how about that?, that is, the Sharrow Bay Country House Hotel in the Lake District. Best sticky toffee pudding I’ve ever had…And I’ve had some very good ones!

We also ate in one of the UK’s best fish & chips place, named for the 2019 National Fish & Chip Awards (it didn’t win, but…no matter). Best fish ‘n chips we’ve had so far, and we’ve had A LOT, believe me.

On a rainy day, in a small and quaint village in the Peak District, we stood in line in front of the Grasmere Gingerbread shop, a tiny shop where you can buy yummy (world famous) gingerbread made from a secret Victorian recipe. Mmmmh.

We also visited a few ruined castles, namely Brougham Castle (I climbed up to the very top, to the third storey…well worth it, but beware of the slippery steps, hard to see in the darkness!). And then, the Lake Distillery (make sure you go on a tour…our guide was excellent, although her, er, accent was difficult for me to understand at times)…And let’s not forget the beautiful scenery, plus all the adorable villages we visited (Straithes. see above photo, Cartmel, etc.), all the waterfalls, such as Aira Force (I walked all the way to the top of that waterfall and stood on the bridge, looking down)…And, and, and…Oh my, we visited so many places that it is impossible to list all of them…!

In short, we had an excellent, diverse holiday. And now it’s time to roll up my sleeves and get back to work. But…for a few weeks, it was simply absolutely wonderfully lovely to forget about myeloma, to forget about the blog (yes, even my beloved blog), and, especially, to forget about Facebook, which I’d leave in a second, to be honest, if it weren’t for the fact that I have a Page there for my blog that might be helpful to some users…eh.

Anyway, off I go. I hope everyone is doing well!!! Ciao ciao ciao for now!!! Take care!!!

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Holiday, holiday, holidaaaaay!

Well, it’s time for us to go on holiday…As usual, the cats are staying at home, under the loving care of our fabulous cat sitter and our fabulous neighbor. So…Stefano and I are all set to go off and enjoy our time in the UK.

Take care, everyone, and have a wonderful August! And…see you in September…unless, of course, I decide to post something from the Lake District (doubtful, but…you never know…). 😀 

Oh I do enjoy these “Keep Calm” signs…hehe.

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