Write Away!

Ever wanted to write a book but unsure where to start? Ever wished you could have 2 bestselling authors show you how? Then I have awesome news…


I am so excited to be helping put together this Creative Writing evening with Bibliomaniac where we will have authors Leigh Russell & Helen Cox showing you their tricks of the trade! 

No experience needed, no pressure, just an evening of fun to unlock a little creativity.

An evening of creative writing with Leigh Russell and Helen Cox
Harpenden Arms (upstairs)

8-10pm

Tuesday 25th April 2017

£25*
**TICKET PRICE HAS BEEN REDUCED TO £15 FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY**
*ticket price includes 1 free drink & nibbles and 2 hours of a creative writing activities led by two incredible authors 

TICKETS AVAILABLE HERE!

Whether you’ve been writing for years or whether you’ve never picked up a pen before, come along for an evening of fun activities that will give you ideas, tips and advice as well as the chance to have a go at writing something in a secure and supportive environment!

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Sun, Sand & Septicaemia! (part one)

Well that was NOT part of the plan when my family and I decided to go on a dream family holiday to Mauritius!

My husband and I worked, saved and planned for months. We were so excited to finally be going and once there, it was as close to paradise as I could have hoped. We were all having the perfect time – until…

A few days in I started to feel unwell.  There was a medical centre on site and a nurse gave me some rehydration sachets.  I did keep saying that it felt more like a bladder infection but it was considered dehydration.  I know that with a colostomy dehydration is an extreme issue, so I was furious with myself that I had become dehydrated.  But the sachets didn’t help, in fact when I tried to drink one, I instantly threw it back up again – sexy!

Back to the medical center where it was agreed – it was a bladder and possibly now a kidney infection as well but not to worry, oral antibiotics and you should feel better in a day or two.  Sorted.

Not so.  By the next day I was convulsing, vomiting and had a temperature of 40c.  The medical team sent me straight to hospital.  I can’t lie, the journey to hospital was petrifying. It was an hour and a half away. I had to go by taxi on my own because it was too far for an ambulance to come and Husband had to stay with the kids. I had no idea what to expect when I got there – a posh private clinic, or like something off an episode of panorama.  The hospital was fine, basic, but fine and the staff were really wonderful.

Arriving at hospital I was delirious and writhing in pain. The doctors wouldn’t give me any medication until they ran tests, sorted my insurance and had my passport so the next hour was pretty awful and involved a lot of tears as I played the worlds smallest violin to myself.

Quick side note: I couldn’t be admitted until my insurance was sorted and they took my passport as a guarantee of payment which I didn’t have with me, the nurse seemed to think  couldn’t be admitted (more crying/violin playing) until thankfully someone was able to come and help me be admitted without my passport.  There was security on all the doors so no one can leave and they only removed the drip and cannula once the bill has been paid.  I understand why, but I really was reminded how lucky I am to live in a country with a National Health Service.  It might not be perfect but at least you never have to fear being turned away from a hospital like I nearly was, or worry about paying the bill – that truly is amazing.  But anyway – back to the story…

I was diagnosed with a chronic bladder, kidney and blood infections – septicaemia.  It was the septicaemia that was causing the convulsing and fitting.  I had non-stop drips running for three days with antibiotics, liquid and painkillers.  Honestly I can’t explain how ill I was.

The only other time I have felt that bad was when I was having chemo and a junior doctor gave me the wrong amount of morphine and I overdosed.

Because the hospital was so far from the hotel, it wasn’t easy for my family to visit so I spent most of the three days I was in there contemplating being severely ill again. Obviously it’s not like my cancer was back but being hooked up to machines day and night, having numerous scans and tests – it all felt far too familiar and took me back to an emotionally dark place.

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Getting to sit and watch the sunset

As there was a medical centre at my hotel, my consultant (after quite a lot of negotiation) agreed to let me convalesce in the hotel with the medical team supporting me.  I couldn’t get out of bed and was on a lot of medication but who cares… I was back and with my family for the last few days of holiday.

The day I was released I saw a blog post from Consciously Healthy which seemed to sum up just how I was feeling.  The author Emma was reflecting on how after a long recovery, she stopped giving her mind, body and soul the attention it deserved, till eventually her body gave-way again.  This was exactly how  felt.  I know I didn’t have cancer again and my life is full of people and things that I love, but slowly my life had returned to crazy busy with little down time and having septicaemia made me realise it was time to have a little rethink!

I will be writing more about how and ‘if’ the rethink happened in a few days so check back or sign up for part 2…

Are there any times in your life when you have had a rethink?  Or any tips for anyone else having a rethink?  Please leave a comment and share you stories with us.

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With love XX

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MIA! A Much Needed Round Up

I have officially been missing in action, I know!  The reason being that in September I went back to University full-time.  I have been studying part-time since getting the all clear, but it was taking too long so I decided to try and speed things up.  It has been awesome, but seriously busy – I’m sure it’s more than double the work!

But as Christmas is approaching I wanted to do a little round-up of what has been happening recently…

book coverGiveaway

As an early Christmas present to you / to make up for my absence I have decided to giveaway 3 signed copies of my book.  The giveaway is running on my Facebook and Twitter pages – all you have to do is like a share by Monday (I can sign them for a friend if you want to give it to someone) when I will be popping them in the post so you will hopefully have them for Christmas. (UK only I’m afraid)

My First Vlog for My Ostomy

I recently did my first vlog for My Ostomy which I loved!  So far it is getting great feedback, thank you to everyone who left kind comments with me and on My Ostomy.  It’s about surviving Christmas with an ostomy so if you are interested and haven’t watch it yet, you can check it out below.  I will certainly be doing more vlogs for My Ostomy next year and possibly on my own You Tube channel too – Ahhh… not sure I have enough to say but people keep asking me to do it, so watch this space and I will keep you informed.

In the mean time have a lovely time getting ready for Christmas try not to let it all stress you out and I promise not to leave it soooo long!

Merry Christmas

Nx

International Woman’s Day

Happy International Woman’s Day!  To celebrate this wonderful day I thought I would take a moment to mention just a few (there are many many more but that would take forever) of the fantastic women have made me the woman I am….

My mum and I getting ready on my wedding day.
My mum and I getting ready on my wedding day.

My Mum

Possibly predictable, I know, but she has sculpted me into the woman who I am in so many ways.  My mum’s positive attitude to life and death became even more inspirational when I had cancer.  I see so much of my mum in the way I’m raising my children and my most my strength comes from my mum (and my lovely dad, but I guess that comes on Fathers day?!)  Even 6 years after she passed away I can hear her when I question what I am doing, encouraging me to do better.

Ms Nicola Fernhead 

Ms Fernhead saved my life.  Literally.  She is the amazing surgeon at Addenbrookes hospital who oversaw every aspect of my cancer treatment and performed my twelve-hour lifesaving operation.  She stripped me down and put me back together again (physically and spiritually I think)… and added an extra bit!  To be able to identify someone who is one of the major reasons you are actually alive is a bizarre but very wonderful thing.

Polly Nobel 

I knew when I got through cancer I was going to write (and write and write) but I remembering being at a loss of where to start.  Then I found Polly Nobel’s website Polly’s Path.  A wealth of information about healthy living and being a twenty-something woman living with terminal cancer.  Although we had some differing views on life with cancer (and diagnosis), it was so inspirational and starting helping me picture what I wanted to achieve with this blog and my non-fiction writing.  I had the joy of meeting Polly in 2013 at an event and she was just as inspiring on real life.  Unfortunately Polly died last year but her legacy lives on.

The lovely Thalia Skye
The lovely Thalia Skye

Thalia Skye

My first paid writing job was from this amazing and inspirational lady, Thalia Skye, and the fantastic website that I contribute to through Coloplast, My Ostomy.  It truthfully is my dream job and I am SO grateful to Thalia for giving me the chance and teaching me so much about vlogging, social media but even better than that… Thalia has taught me so much about my own stoma!  From practicalities to realising how much I appreciate having this life saving bag and the strength to keep talking about it and raising awareness about life with a colostomy / iliostomy of how boringly normal life remains!

Dr Anna Tripp

My personal tutor at university and the woman who agreed to take punt on a thirty-something mother who was desperate to finally fulfil a dream of reading Literature and Writing at university.  It’s one of the best decision’s I have made in my life and I can’t thank her enough for seeing enough of a spark that she would take a chance on a woman with absolutely no academic level 3 qualifications.  She rocks!

My sister and my son
My sister and my son

My Sister

Where oh where would I be without my sister!  Sisters (especially one like mine) are the best thing ever.  An absolutely driving force in my life that keeps me moving forward no matter how much I want to give up and stop and who shines the brightest light in my darkest of days.  I quite simply would not be here without knowing that my sister is well and truly in my corner.  And now my kids get to enjoy having the best aunt in the world.  I love this woman!

There are plenty of other women in my life who have done more for me than words can say.  In particular my wonderful female friends and all the women in my family – they are all strong wise and wonderful.  From the little things to the massive things you have all built me into who I am and for that I am truly thankful.

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To Late to Start the New Year?

My friend and I were discussing how January has, in so many ways, been a write-off month!  It’s cold, we’re skint, we are desperately trying to get our children (and ourselves) back into a routine after the mayhem of Christmas.  Not the start to 2015 we were planning on.

Relieved in our knowledge that there was someone else in the world feeling this way we decided that we are going to ‘officially’ start 2015 in February!  Will you join us?

imagesExercise is going ok as I’m still taking part in my #100ActiveDays but I am going to up the healthy eating, with the help of Cameron and Davina – two awesome books about eating well and giving up sugar (ahhhhhh – dare I truly contemplate???)

If you have any recipes or recipe books that you could recommend please leave a comment or you can Facebook or tweet me and try to help me along the way!

Happy 2015 everybody! 🙂

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Hartwell House Hotel and Aromatherapy Associates – Anti-Bucket List 2015 Update

One of the best things about putting ‘visiting Spa’s’ on my Anti-Bucket List is getting to do one of my favourite things…. visit spa’s!

Last weekend I had the complete joy of visiting a new spa near Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, at Hartwell House Hotel with my lovely friend L.J. Ross.

Our rather stunning room
Our rather stunning room

The old manor house has been turned into a hotel in the most beautiful way.  It has retained the feel of a house, keeping four large drawing rooms with fire places for guests to relax in (or read and write within as was the case with us – what can I say, it’s all rock n’ roll when two writers go away).  With such a number of drawing rooms and a library available to use, it never feels crowded.  There was more than one moment when I felt like I was in Downton Abbey, especially when walking down the engraved, ornate staircase.

The Spa is in the old stables and has been wonderfully converted, again very sympathetically, complete with the required beige stone and soothing music.  The Spa uses Aromatherapy Associates a product that surprisingly, I hadn’t tried before.  The smell was delicious, not as fragrant as other products but I think that is a good sign.  It shows that there aren’t high levels of chemical perfumes added.

Unknown-3I had the Aromatherapy Associates Essential Rose Facial with Back Massage.  Starting with the back massage the therapist focused on my shoulders after I told her it was my area of concern and then went into the facial, complete with an amazing head massage.  I honestly felt like a new woman and my skin looked so clean and radiant, wonderful.  My wonderful co-assistant reviewer had an Indian Head Massage which she enjoyed but would have liked more time spent on her head and less on her shoulders as her back is so ticklish.  Thank God I don’t have that problem, couldn’t imagine not liking back massages!

I was very impressed by the products and went on to buy the Rose Face Mask and Rose Facial Tonic, which I am enjoying using.

Overall, I loved Hartwell House Hotel and Spa.  So much so that I am planning on taking husband there and it is high on my list of favourite hotel.  An amazing big tick of the Anti-Bucket List 2015, but I think I will happily add it again and again! 🙂

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Post-Cancer Breakthrough Moment!

It can be strange when you are going through something quite massive – but I am sure it is not unique to me and can be applied to any situation – that sometimes the biggest breakthroughs or realisations (good and bad) can come out in the strangest of ways.  Like after my mum died, I didn’t really cry at any of the big things I was ‘meant to’ cry at, like her funeral, but when someone would make it through to live rounds on X-Factor, the first thing they do (after hugging Dermot) is call their mum and that would just set something off in me.  The fact that they could ring their mum and tell her that something amazing had happened to them and I couldn’t would have me in tears every time.  Bizarre but true.

During my last 3 month cycle of chemotherapy a friend came to visit me I asked how she was and she said “we are all fine, just plodding along, nothing to report really” and I remember being flabbergasted.  I couldn’t even think of the last time I had given an answer like that.  I remember almost crying to my husband that I wanted to tell someone that I was ‘plodding along’.  No one had cancer or was dying or being born – we were all just happily going on with our lives.  After agreeing he would like that too and a few reassurances from hubby that our time would come I left it, unconvinced.

A friend just text asking how I was and this is exactly what I put…

We are okay thanks, just ticking along really.

Probably sounds ridiculous but I feel like I just had the most amazing post-cancer breakthrough moment.  Finally I feel like things are on a slightly more even keel and not full of drama.  I mean don’t get me wrong, life is still life, but for this little sliver of time, everyone is all good, we are all just plodding along and there is nothing really to report.  To be honest, it’s probably been like that for a while but knowing that I have finally reached that point in my own head feels amazing!

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Inside Harpenden Cancer Research Shop!

The beginning of launching the Cancer Research UK Christmas campaign we are excited to be part of. I’m not going to lie, very strange seeing a picture of yourself on a shop wall.

Clearly my daughter was not impressed!

I believe you can see one yourself in your local CRUK shop and you can pick up some bits for Christmas whilst you’re there too! Win, win 🙂

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One Lovely Blog Award

I was so thrilled to be nominated by a couple of people for the One Lovely Blog.  A very big thank you to Live Now Dream Later , Rectal Cancer My Arse and Stepping 2 your Dreams for the nomination which I accept.

The point of the award is to give a platform to different blogs by giving bloggers a chance to nominate other blogs they enjoy.

lovely-blogThe One Lovely Blog Award, recognizes blogs that are considered to be “lovely” by the fellow-blogger who chose them. This award acknowledges bloggers who share their story or thoughts in a beautiful manner to connect with their viewers and followers. In order to “accept” the award the nominated blogger must follow several guidelines.

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  • Thank the person who nominated you for the award.
  • Add the One Lovely Blog Award logo to your post and/or blog.
  • Share 7 facts/or things about yourself.
  • Nominate 15 bloggers you admire and inform nominees by commenting on their blog.

 

7 Random Facts About Myself

  • I have two middle names – Jane and Ballantine.  Ballantine was a family surname that would have died out when my great-great-great Grandfather (something like that) only had daughters.  So his daughters gave it to their children as a second middle name and the tradition has continued with every generation ever since, including my children.
  • I passed my driving test on my 4th attempt!  Yes, 4th!  Strange because I am an awesome driver.
  • My ideal evening includes reading magazines in a super hot bubbly bath.
  • I actually have a bit of a magazine addiction and buy a ridiculous number monthly magazines, my favourites being Ideal Home, Red and Good Housekeeping… and Woman and Home…. and…
  • I am the eldest of 3 siblings although people always assume my sister is older.
  • I do most the things I always swore I would never do when I had my own kids – like letting them watch Peppa Pig on my phone in a restaurant.
  • Harry Potter is and always will be my literary true love.

The 15 Amazing Blogs That I Nominate are

Stand Up To Cancer Raffle & Prizes

HAPPY STAND UP TO CANCER DAY!

This year as part of Stand Up To Cancer to raise vital funds for Cancer Research UK I am holding a Raffle with some amazing prizes donated by some very generous people and companies.

Tickets are £3 for 2 or £5 for a strip of 5 – to purchase just leave me a comment of email nicola.bourne@yahoo.com letting me know how many you would like and then you can pay the money straight onto my Just Giving Page

The amazing prizes include;

You can read here more details of why this charity is so close to my heart here.

I will be drawing the raffle at a Stand Up To Cancer coffee morning on Thursday.  Happy buying and Good luck!

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