This weekend Ray is running a photography course for people who would like to be professional photographers. I must admit from the outset that the photographs I use for the blog are mine and mine alone. He is really an exceptional photographer!
I enjoy meeting the people and it is nice to be busy and useful. Last month we had people flying in from Croatia and Austria as well as the UK. The timing of this course is fortunate as I have had the chemo just long enough ago to be feeling reasonable. The first day of the course takes place in our studio where they learn about portraiture but on the Saturday and Sunday they visit some of the beautiful locations we have nearby. Just a few yards up the road is a beautiful medieval church and in the village itself are the ruins of a Cistercian Abbey.
Although we are not far from a city we enjoy village life and although it is not a tiny remote hamlet, it is bounded on one side by the water and surrounded by woodland on the others. When I look out of the windows at the rear of our house all I see are trees and I love not being hemmed in. This is where the deer live on their progress through the woods round the village, just occasionally coming into our gardens if there are some good flowers to eat.
I find it difficult to look closely at the garden right now. I have usually taken care of it but I am not allowed to do anything at the moment. This is not just about low blood platelet count and the danger of cutting myself, but also there is a risk of infection with compost etc. It is very difficult for me not to see what needs to be done.
This is another aspect of cancer/lymphoma which is difficult to cope with – the passivity and having to ask other people, who perhaps are quite busy, to do things for you. I come back once again to this idea of being useful. Some people have gone on about the joys of retirement but when you ask them what they do all day it is sometimes just a round of TV and coffee mornings which would drive me round the bend. Fortunately, other people have got it right and they are doing all sorts of hobbies as well as activities where they help others – being useful.
One of the reasons for writing this blog is to share my experiences with other people so that if they are going through something similar themselves or caring for someone who is, they will realise they are not alone, that somehow this journey is shared. I need to feel that what I am doing now, however passive it seems to be, could be useful and I hope that this experience may be translated into a book or television programme so that it could be understood by a wider audience.