Category Archives: musings

Sad Update

Hi All,

This is Simon, Tracy’s husband. I received an email notification this morning that the domain for this site had expired. I’ll be honest, I’d completely forgotten about Tracy’s blog. As you’ve probably surmised from the title of this blog post, I’m very sad to say that Tracy passed away in May of last year. From about March, the tumour had progressed significantly, robbing us of the wonderful woman we knew and loved. She was still there in little bits, but she was getting progressively weaker and more confused as her disease took hold. The radiotherapy and chemotherapy didn’t help to slow its progression and really made the time that she did have left pretty miserable as it took away lots of opportunities for her to enjoy what little time she had left.

She passed away at 9:37 on May 20th. Her funeral took place on June 8th at the local crematorium where over 100 of her family and friends turned up to celebrate her life. There was standing room only! I think she’d have liked the service. I couldn’t bring myself to deliver the eulogy, so the vicar kindly obliged. I’ve included the text here, as some of you may like to read it and understand a little more about the woman behind the blog.

I’ve renewed the site for a further year, so if there are any posts you’d like to keep or just read through and remember Tracy’s exploits over the last few years, then please do.


2017-08-18 14.18.57


Memories of Tracy

I don’t remember exactly when it was, but I vividly remember the first time I encountered Tracy. We were at work, although working on separate teams at that point, just before the two merged and transferred off to the private sector. We were all in a room talking about pay and one of the managers got something wrong. This voice spoke up, quite vociferously, telling him just how wrong he was. There Tracy sat, with the most vivid red hair you’ve ever seen, giving both barrels to this chap and I remember thinking to myself to be very careful around her. Over the years, I know I’m not the only one of Tracy’s colleagues to have thought that! Little did I know that a few years later, that fiery red head and I would be happily married.

We met at work and I remember finding little excuses to go out of my way to help her with something or walk together in her general direction after work, despite living in completely the opposite direction. We’d struck up a conversation about Buffy the Vampire Slayer of all things and that she’d lend me the DVDs as I hadn’t seen it. Except I didn’t have a DVD player, so one of those came too. And a week or so later, that was that. We got together over a shared love of a cult Sci-Fi show!

At the time I was playing in a band, and I asked Tracy if she wanted to come down and see us play. She did come down but, me being completely oblivious, I hadn’t cottoned on that it was the big “meet the parents” trip. Still being completely oblivious, I left Tracy with them for the afternoon whilst I went off to practice. I don’t think she ever forgave me for that! Must have done something right though, as the three of them hit it off like wildfire.

We started our love affair with America in 2003 with New York. In the months after that trip, she would drop subtle hints, usually involving “ring ring”. I’m sure I don’t know what she was getting at. However, in 2004 we went back to New York and I, quite unprompted, took her around the jewellery stores up and down Fifth Avenue until we found just the right one. Later that afternoon, I took her to Central Park, got down on one knee and proposed. Ever the romantic, I whisked her off to Yankee Stadium for a ball game later that evening. Nothing celebrates an engagement quite like baseball and a hotdog.

In October of 2004 we got married at my home church of St. Martin’s. We managed to plan everything in six months as at the time, Dad was struggling with a brain tumour and we both wanted him to be there. Little did we know that that particular disease would come back to haunt us. We had an incredible day, surrounded by our families and friends. Despite the sun being out, I had cold hands, about which Tracy commented as soon as she took my hand at the altar. From then on, any time I had cold hands she’d ask me if we were getting married. Our first dance was to Elton John’s “Your Song”, except I’d recorded it. It had become our song since the first moment I played it for her. It seems fitting that it will also be the last song she hears me sing.

We weren’t blessed with children, although neither of us saw it as a curse as our relationship had always revolved around each other. That being said, we both doted on our nieces and nephews; by blood or not, it didn’t matter. However, we always preferred giving them back at the end of the day and the quiet that returned to our little home.

That would be the focus of the next few years, sorting out our home. We decided to stay at Park Road and get it the way we wanted it, and even moved out for a few months whilst it was being renovated. As home owners know, the work never stops and just before we finally got everything the way we wanted it, Tracy’s illness began and unfortunately she never really got to enjoy the fruits of her labours.

In the last few years, we reignited our love affair with America and began a long distance relationship with the happiest place on earth, Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. What started out as a one-off holiday of a life time became an annual pilgrimage to see Mickey and all his friends. That really was our place, more so than New York, which was more mine. We went that first year not quite sure what to expect. Both apprehensive about it all, particularly with me and the driving, as I’d never driven on the wrong side of the road before. I’d selected a typically subtle American SUV as our hire car. I’d carefully backed it out of the space in the parking garage and gingerly set off towards the exit. We’d passed one of the concrete supporting pillars and Tracy screamed in the passenger seat next to me, which scared the life out of me and I slammed the brakes on. She’d forgotten that she was on the other side of the car and thought we were about to crash into said pillar. That would become a running joke whenever we were over there.

Anyone who has us as friends on Facebook has borne witness to our love of Walt Disney World. We lived a pretty simple life over our years together, but there was something about Disney and Florida in general that really captivated our imaginations. Ultimately I guess it made a lot of sense as we were just a pair of big kids, in the ultimate place for kids of all ages.

I’ve had a lot of time over the last few months to reflect on just what our life together meant to me, and it’s very difficult to sum it up in a few words. The thing I’ve always told people, which usually amazes them, is that in all our years together we never had an argument. Throughout our life together, from those first few weeks, to living together, to our thirteen happy years of marriage, one thing was a constant, and that is that we were the best of friends.

Good bye Tracy; my wife; my lover; my best friend.

Coping With Depression

Depression is a common condition that can develop either gradually or overnight. Many people who have depression feel low most of the time. But this condition has many symptoms, which can make it difficult to recognise.

Depression is not a sign of personal failure or an inability to cope. Try not to blame yourself or feel guilty. It may not seem like it, but help is available. It is important to remember that depression is common, and that it can usually be treated successfully. The first step to feeling better is finding appropriate help. There are both medical and non-medical approaches to managing depression.

When you have been diagnosed with cancer, you may feel very low at times. This may be at the time of diagnosis, or during or after treatment. For some people, their low mood may continue or get worse, and they may need professional help or treatment.

Sometimes, it can be difficult to know whether you’re depressed or not. It may be other people who notice symptoms and suggest that you might need help.

Depression is a common condition that affects around 1 in 10 people (10%). It can be triggered by a variety of difficult events, including a cancer diagnosis or having treatment for cancer. However, it can also happen by chance or be related to other events that have nothing to do with cancer.

Symptoms of depression include:

  • having a very low mood most of the time
  • feeling fatigued or lacking in energy
  • getting no pleasure out of life or activities you usually enjoy
  • crying a lot, or feeling unable to cry
  • having difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • being unusually irritable or impatient
  • waking up early, having difficulty sleeping, or sleeping more than usual
  • feeling less affectionate or having a loss of sexual desire
  • hallucinations or hearing voices (although this is rare).

These are just some of the symptoms of depression, but they will be different for each person. If you have other symptoms but think you may be depressed, talk to your doctor or nurse.

to be honest i don’t find the McMillian website particularly helpful, we had the welcome to your ‘tumour pack’ which was a lot of reading not much information.

lets address the symptoms of depression

  • having a very low mood most of the time, if you’ve been told 15-18 months that will give you a low mood if you feel rubbish as well feeling
  • fatigued or lacking in energy – brain tumour and swelling=
  • tired getting no pleasure out of life or activities you usually enjoy, I’m not capable of doing activities i usually enjoy reading- no concentration, 3 out of 4 hems have to be unpicked. more cross stitch has to be unpicked than left in
  • which is why I’ve taken up crochet, no expectations, all new. i like shopping, ebay and amazon have seen a lot of my money 🙂
  • Crying a lot, or feeling unable to cry – loads of crying
  • having difficulty concentrating or making decisions – hello brain tumour/swelling
  • being unusually irritable or impatient-usual state of affairs for me also, side affects of medications waking up early, having difficulty sleeping, or sleeping more than usual – hello brain tumour/swelling feeling less affectionate or having a loss of sexual desire – lets face it when none of your clothes fit and you have chipmunk face you don’t feel very sexy.
  • hallucinations or hearing voices (although this is rare). no hallucinations.i’m pretty  sure I’m not depressed but of course i could be in denial.if you are at the knitting and stitching show 2nd March Olympia, say hello, i’ll be the the one in the wheel chair with the bored looking husband and badly hemmed jeans.

Great British sewing bee

In a bid to get some sewing mojo back, I’ve just binge watched the great British sewing bee on youtube, I’ve come to the conclusion that Patrick and May were better judges, Esme Young is a poor judge because she goes into it with a lot of preconceived ideas, if she doesn’t agree with the style ideas she’ll mark them down, how many times did she say on the first alteration challenge if my students were doing this what would come out is what they are where they come from and all they are apparently they are all skirts. In my opinion, Esme looks like a dogs dinner for most of the season.

If you want to see hideous clothes just check out what Esme is wearing.

I would quite like to try the asymmetrical skirt I don’t have the dexterity at the moment for cutting out or sewing it. Or the figure to wear it.

Stash busting failure :-(

Because I am having a problem with bottom halves I have bought itch to stitch sequoia cargo trousers and liana jeans, then of course I had to go to eBay and buy some cheap fabric to make them up in, I have also bought some beautiful purple jersey fabric for a love notions candence dress, I am starting to feel better, every night I think tomorrow, I’ll finish those two tops cut out on my table, I’ll take the photos of my sewing room – I’m planning to go to the knitting and stitching show this year the same as normal.

For some reason we thought, oh radiotherapy has finished we won’t have hospital appointments all week, wrong. Because the last week of radiotherapy/chemo my bone marrow stopped making Platelets (clotting) I have some beautiful purple bruises, this meant blood tests Monday /Thursday (check platelets) platelet transfusions Tuesday/Friday, finally my platelet count has started coming up, tomorrow’s blood test should confirm whether or not my marrow is now working, as long as the platelets come up from last week (no transfusion) hopefully the blood tests will no longer be needed.

I’m also having a MRI tomorrow, this is to confirm whether the left side weakness I am experiencing is being caused by swelling, which we are sure that is. The oncologist has upped my dexamethasone (steroid) for a week, left side weakness is resolving its self, we managed to take Charlie for a walk on the seafront today.

I wrote the first part of this post a week ago. My left side weakness is getting worse,the results of the mri is inconclusive, today is the first day in about 2 weeks that I’ve woken up with my brain thinking about working, the dexamethazone has been taken back down to 4 mg, my ankles and knees are swollen, still having regular blood tests no transfusions, this way we know if they are my platelets and not transfused platelets.

I have plans, next week Simon and I are going to blue water for shopping, gbk and Krispy cream donuts then the following week the knitting and stitching show at Olympia. I can’t wait.

Musings update

Hello, we are still hoping to get back to Disney this year, but finding travel insurance is proving troublesome, mostly because the tumour is so unpredictable, what they don’t tell you is that with 6 weeks Radiotherapy everything is shifted over 3 weeks, you don’t start getting the side effects until week 3, hair loss, side effects continue another 3 weeks after treatment has finished, brain swelling, loss of use of left side again, not sure if we get to critical mass at 1 1/2 weeks or if I have to wait the full 3 weeks then back up other side. What they also don’t tell you is life isn’t like tv, i’m still waiting to do the fun stuff. You write a bucket list, which you can’t complete due to spending too much time at the hospital, which will only prolong your life maybe a couple of extra months if you are unlucky, you get shafted by scottish provident, because they can’t input dob correctly from proof of id. So called specialist travel insurance companies, won’t touch you if you want to go to USA, no we don’t want to go to Disney Land Paris, we want to go to our Disney World Florida, our happy place, so don’t even suggest it.

Chemo has messed with my bone marrow, so having regular blood tests 😦 and platelet transfusions 😦 😦 not sure how long bone marrow takes to recover, everyone is different. Waiting for Arnold marrow to kick in 🙂 My Dad’s family has a history of making too many platelets but not until into their 60s-70s so I have a little while to wait yet.

Hoping to get back to dressmaking soon, I have two tops cut out one of them is started, a forte top and another larger Plantain cut out but not started. When I got my overlocker, I thought, ‘why does it come with a pair of tweezers, who is going to want to use them to thread, just makes it more difficult’, turns out if you have a brain tumour and Shakey hands they help a lot. Though I wish I had spent a bit more money and got a self threading one, it seems every time at the moment when I want to use it I have to change the thread colour. Though I have made it slightly easier, the same as the sewing machine it has handy dandy diagrams inside, what it doesn’t tell you is which order to thread it in, so to get round that I have numbered up the thread spools.

I’m going to be 50 at the end of next month, so hoping side effects will be finished by then, including looking about 6 months pregnant. Steroids/chocolate. If I was going to have to grow ‘a life sucking parasite’, a baby would be preferable to a brain tumour, even at 50.

Sorry if some of my ramblings are repeated from other posts, fuzzy brain syndrome (side effect). Sorry for calling a baby a parasite, hope not to offend anyone.

More soon…

Let’s talk about jeans pockets…..

Hi, since starting steroids in July I have increased 2 dress sizes and added 2 stone to my weight, it is very easy to blame the steroids and say the weight gain is the fault of the steroid side effects, increased hunger, reduced self control the fact that only chocolate tastes right, it is the steroids fault 🙂

I have been on eBay buying new larger jeans, refusing to believe that my weight will not get back to normal after coming off the treatment and not wanting to spend £40-£50 on new jeans that I’ll only wear for a couple of months.

In more ways than one I am a Fat Face girl, my sister likes All Saints, which I didn’t realise was more than the 1990s Girl Band. If you like grey go to All Saints, if you want more colour in your wardrobe Fat Face is the place to go.

I now have several pairs of Fat Face Jeans and Shirts for a lot less than I would have paid for new, there is a problem with is as in depending on how old the jeans are depends on waist sizing, the older they are the bigger a size 12 is. The advantage is that I like flares/ boot cut legs which don’t appear to be in fashion at the moment, I like to be comfortable, slim boot cut doesn’t do it for me. The fact that the main things that go are the hems, at 5ft 2in I always have to shorten the legs any way.

If you shorten Jeans don’t do it by hand. Check to see how it was done originally and try to copy it using a sewing machine. What I usually do is cut off the original hem then restitch with a similar colour top stitching thread. I always hem long so as I can wear with trainers, boots or shoes. While hemming the last lot of jeans, I noticed Fat Face had some interesting pocket details.

Apparently both back pockets don’t have to be the same

You can come up with new and interesting shapes to cut the front pockets.

Use some nice fabric for the pocket bags and inside waist band.

The Denim that they use isn’t as good quality that the price might suggest. In this sewing world where making your own jeans has become very popular, you could do worse than go to Fat Face for inspiration, although the Denim isn’t the best, the Jumpers and cardigans are top notch.

cross stitch Christmas

I received a couple of cross stitch kits for Christmas and a cross stitch book, all Michael Powell.

I am coming along quite nicely with my existing cross stitch, the Scarlet Wizard is finally progressing, I have gridded most of the remaining fabric to make it easier to work out where to stitch.

The Secret Garden 1 has come along quite nicely. The bottom two inches are complete apart from the back stitching which will make the picture pop.

I also have a small picture that I spotted in The World of Cross Stitching started that I am stitching on a hoop, which means I can take it to the Hospital with me.

The colours aren’t as purple in real life as they are in in the magazine, which as you can see on the stitching are more of a pinky colour.

I’ve been listening to audio books while I’m stitching as at the moment I can either stitch or watch TV not both. While I was in hospital I started listening to the psi/changeling series written by Nalini Singh, performed by Angela Dawe, which are brilliant, I am now up to book 10, I have already read the books. I prefer Angela Dawe to Justine Eyre who narrates the Archangel series, I find her a bit harsh.

I recommend Audible especially if you buy kindle books, if you are smart you can get the most for your money. Also the audible app for the iPhone is great, it has a sleep function on it, so if you fall asleep while listening to know there is only a certain amount of time you need to go back.

Update post November 24th

Hi, I’m back out of hospital and apparently we have a plan, well I have a plan at the moment, I have ideas for around four posts, the first of which is a medical post, feel free not to read it, which is what I would probably do in your position.

2. Is a review on the sewoverit Doris Dress

3. Will be a quilting post

4. Cross stitching post

You might also get a bonus iPad review depending on how it goes. I’ll probably post these over the next couple of days.


well, I don’t know what happened to September, but it is now a month since my last post, oops…..

Hi I don’t know how everybody sorts out their off cuts, but I have a bad tendency to ball up what ever scraps of fabric I have left, whether it is big enough to to make something else with or not. This last weekend I decided to go through the off cuts and just throw them away, yes there is the ‘dream’ of creating a beautiful quilt with them, but who am I kidding, I’ve made two double bed sized quilts, both of which took me a year to make and a four foot by four foot that is still waiting for me to finish quilting it four or five years after I put it together.

I had about two bin bags full of fabric I’d been keeping, even the stuff I didn’t like and the woolen skirt material that you couldn’t even use for a quilt even if you wanted to make a quilt which at the moment I don’t.

Anyway to get back to the actual point of this post, have you ever come across projects you have started and then completely forgotten about them and can’t remember why you didn’t finish them in the first place

I have a rather nice little blouse, I’d forgotten all it needed was the facings stitched down and the buttons put on it, of course when I started stitch the facing on one of the sleeves I found out the reason it wasn’t finished is that I had cut through the facing and really need ed to take it off and replace it. (Let’s hope I haven’t just thrown all the leftover fabric away)


I have also found a dress that also just needs all its hand stitching done, facings, hem and buttons, I think at the time I made it I wasn’t happy about how the shoulder was sitting but now it doesn’t look as bad as I thought.


I think there is a pattern forming because there are another two dresses that need hemming and their facing stitched in, I really need to go straight for the hand stitching as soon as possible.


There is another dress but that isn’t just hand stitching and looking at it, it will need taking apart and redoing, it is one of the first Haslam patterns I tried, the fabric is too drapey for it and I think the underarm measurement is too long, as when I attached it to my dummy there must have been two inches extra fabric and I am sure this is wrong.


I’m not sure how to finish this post so I’ll leave you with au revoir……

Princess dresses, never too old?

As I was travelling to work this morning I saw a family walking into town, the two girls were wearing princess dresses, I’m assuming Frozen as that was the colour, the older (8ish) one had leggings on the younger (5ish) one had a longer coat on.

It lead me to thinking, at what age do we decide that it is too impractical to wear princess dresses all day long and is it this wish to look pretty and wear swishy skirts what lead most of us to the 1950s with the Dior New Look patterns?

Out of the dresses that I have made, I love the ones with the big skirts and the little details on the bodices but they are the ones that are worn less and when I do wear them it isn’t with net underskirts partly because I don’t own one, and every time I try to make one the cats appear to like eating and clawing at them, but mainly because although I spend most of my time sitting at a desk it isn’t the done thing to wear pretty, swishy dresses to work.

Of course growing up in the 70s Disney hadn’t worked out a way of marketing princess dresses en mass to the UK, if they had my sister and I would have had them, not real ones of course but my Mum and Aunts were all experienced dress makers (I had a fake EMU to prove it)and my Mother made a lot of our clothes. So maybe I’m making up for a lack of princess dresses in my formative years, I do know that I’m drawn to the patterns with the bigger skirts, but still feel slightly uncomfortable wearing for everyday.