It turns out to be true. Week Three of chemotherapy you feel back to normal. Perhaps even halfway through Week Two; watering the garden and a little light dead heading turned into a pile of branches in the middle of the lawn grass as I attacked the buddleia ( common or garden variety, well known for colonising railway banks and derelict buildings ) that was taking over the garden.
Even going over to the letter box seemed an adventure, then a walk round the block to confirm I was back in the land of the living…walk to a friend’s house and by Wednesday it was time for a proper walk across the River Stour to meet some writer friends for coffee then back by ferry… 6Km circular walk according to my phone. The weather has been hot and sunny so come along…
The back door flew open to reveal my husband dressed in his bright holiday shorts and business shirt and tie.
‘Where did you think I was, I told you we were going to fill up the paddling pool.’
‘Nice to be some…’ said Tom.
‘Come and join us later, surely you’re allowed a break?’
‘Depends how long the conference call goes on for, I just came to tell you we’re out of coffee.’
Covid had a lot to answer for, especially the idea of working from home.
‘Can’t you get it, I can’t leave the little ones with the water. Why don’t you have a cup of tea or a smoothie for now?’
Tom spluttered in disgust.
‘A green broccoli smoothie is not going to get me through that conference call… anyway you know what we always get.’
‘Okay, you stay out here and keep an eye on the hose and the children… and put your phone away.’ I dropped my voice and mouthed ‘it only takes a minute for a child to D.. R.. O..W.. N.’ then raised it ‘Oscaar… hose in the paddling pool not on Daddy.’
‘Don’t be long’ pleaded Tom.
‘Do you want the variety box, latte, expresso, americano…?
‘Yes, yes the biggest box they do.’
I went upstairs, pausing on the landing to look out the window and make sure Tom had not forgotten he was in charge. The hose was now snaking out of control across the lawn. In my so called office I logged in to Coffee Zone, repeat order, multi pack, check delivery times… Yes, coffee would be here in time for his bloody conference call. What did they actually do on conference calls? Probably played X Box like my forty year young brother. I had no idea what Tom actually did at work when he went to the office every day and now he worked from home I was still none the wiser. Whatever he did he had been head hunted a couple of times and with the amount he got paid I didn’t mind spoiling him. My on line upcycling craft business hardly brought in enough to feed the dog and the cat.
I looked at my watch, twenty minutes to get ready for the coffee. I dashed back into the garden.
‘Tom, where’s the dog?’
‘You only told me to look after the children.’
I waved a packet of dog treats and Zeus bounded out of the herbaceous border, he was soon locked in the laundry. The children would be harder to get under control.
‘Ten minutes then indoors.’
‘But we haven’t done paddling yet.’
‘Why don’t you come in and watch Octonauts and have some parsnip crisps while the sun is warming the water. Then you can come back out after the coffee has arrived.’
With the children safely indoors I still had to find the cat, but there was no time to look. Hearing Zeus’ frantic barking I rushed back in and locked the door, the dog always heard it before me. Keeping watch through the patio door I saw a glint over the trees. 10.45am, exactly on time. The Coffee Zone Drone circled, I hoped it’s aim would be better this time. My stomach lurched as, too late, I saw a familiar black and white shape slink across the lawn then freeze as the warning siren started. The drone was higher than usual when its undercarriage opened, the large bright orange box dropped down onto the lawn, narrowly missing the paddling pool. I dashed out, but as I got close my mouth went dry. Sticking out from under the hefty box was a black tail. I knew from previous deliveries the box was too heavy to lift on my own and I was thankful to hear Tom’s voice. I turned to see him holding the cat and laughing.
‘He’s a quivering wreck, he doesn’t like drones does he?’
My relief was short lived, had we killed the neighbour’s cat?
‘Quick, lift the box.’
I closed my eyes. When I opened them Tom was holding up the squashed body of the shabby toy cat the children had insisted on buying from the charity shop.
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Monday marked the penultimate stage on the English roadmap out of Covid and like the real paper road maps of old, there are lots of creases and you can’t read the parts where the folds are. Most of us are convinced the roadmap will be folded up again, but in the meantime…
I didn’t go anywhere exciting on Monday as I had a hospital appointment, but there was the hope of rounding it off with a treat. The hospital destination was the furthest away in our conurbation, but the easiest to get to. The journey encompasses almost the whole of the bus route and takes an hour, but stops right outside the hospital. Every seat has a phone charger so I could catch up with blogs and emails – if anyone reads any strange comments from me that is because it’s not easy tapping on a phone jolting along. I had a pocket full of coins as it was too early to use my bus pass – easily accessible coat pocket as I didn’t want to be fumbling around in my purse and exasperating the driver. I still exasperated him as he could not hear what I was saying with my mask on and behind his plexiglass screen. When he did grasp my destination I could not hear how much he said with his mask on.
The hospital is built halfway up a hill, a delight for hospital architects whose main aim is to make it impossible for anyone to find their way around. They now have different colour routes, plus instructions on your hospital letters. I had been this way before so no problem, upstairs, follow purple route, out the back door and down a long ramp then off to a totally separate building. When I was in the waiting room a lady came to the reception desk and said ‘I am completely lost, I can’t find the car park. ‘ She was advised to ‘go back upstairs to the Ladybird Suite and start all over again.’ After my appointment was finished the receptionist asked if I could find my way back. I smugly assured her I could as I had done it before, forgetting that last time I mysteriously ended up at the north entrance, which fortunately came back out onto the main road. This time I was aiming for Costa Coffee near the main entrance, but I did not pass any familiar landmarks such as shops, glass dome, information desk. Luckily a person pushing a trolley asked if I was lost and directed me to the nearest stairs. Of course, if you go upstairs on the outward route it helps to go down on the return route. At last I reached my destination.
I am not a Costa addict, preferring to visit independent places and I don’t like takeaway cups, but even though the coffee was lukewarm by the time I had checked in with my NHS app and realised you had to ask for sugar, it tasted wonderful. At last I was actually sitting inside on the first day coffee shops and cafes were open properly again. I nearly forgot to take my mask off, that felt strange and I exchanged remarks with the lady at the next table at how excited we were to be in a coffee shop.