Mini Suns: My Yellow Wish-list

All the mustard I could muster (clutch - Oliver Bonas, sold out) 

As I write this, the sun has been making its first appearance in what feels like (and actually could be) eternity. Otherwise known as at least a fortnight! The skies have been the murkiest shade of grey, even by Manchester standards – ‘bitterly’ cold as my nan would say. We’ve suffered the midst of rain, sleet, snow and hail, on frustratingly unpredictable rotation.

As far as I’m concerned it's been ‘don’t leave the house unless you have to’ weather.

Things have got so desperate that I’ve found myself catching the bad day-time TV stalwart – A Place in the Sun: Home or Away? Please send help.

Clearly, I need some Spring sunshine in my life.

Well, if the sun will not come, then, I’ll dress in yellow and bring the sun inside, displaying mini suns, like (yellow) tulips everywhere!

I’ve been thinking about a coat I had, and sold, on eBay a few years back. It was neon yellow, and I practically lived in it. Back then, I *really* had a penchant for clashing colours. Thankfully my style evolved – and by that I mean there’s more black, navy and less neon. A good thing, but, on grey days, we should make time for sunnier hues. My wardrobe is noticeably lacking on that front, and I think I ought to put it right.

I'm sharing my yellow TBP list below (to be purchased… just made that up, but hey, it works!).


Sar x

One Thing.

I didn’t send myself a card or buy flowers. The day went by uneventfully, without the need for celebratory mocktails.

A WhatsApp message to my mum and sister was more than sufficient… to say – hey, it was one year ago today that I began the chemo-radiotherapy phase of my treatment.

The (radiotherapy) mask is now precariously placed on top of a stack of white books (yes – I’m a colour-coder), the morning light shines through its perforated surface, and upon inspection, you'll still find lingering traces of mascara and red lipstick. It has a peculiar gaping ghost-mouth, and meticulously positioned yellow tape, marked with lines and dots to help ensure precise alignment.

‘Phase’ – a new addition to my treatment-related phrase book – feels wholly appropriate now. I have recently had this longing feeling, for a time when things were much simpler. You might assume that I mean before I knew I had a brain tumour, but I don’t.  I want to take you back to December 2016.

Jamie Oliver did his time crusading about the terrible state of hospital food – and I can agree that the meals are often found to be stingy on the nutritional front, but having said that, I unashamedly loved it. Fish and chips Friday? Yes, please. I may *well* have been the only patient in the entire hospital looking forward to meal times (and would’ve happily eaten all the leftovers) – we could have three courses twice a day (as well as breakfast) and I ate all of it! The thick school-dinner style custard, rice pudding with clotted cream, and jam sponge were some of my favourites. The process of reading out the options to each patient in the morning – from individually printed paper menus – was novel, entertaining even! I spent approximately two-thirds of my time on a rehab ward where others were sadly being fed through tubes – I ate because I was hungry (and I liked the food), but the fact that I was lucky wasn’t at all lost on me.

During the three-week stay, I found myself in transit. Before the meeting about biopsy results and decisions about ‘next-steps’. There was no going back, and yet the future remained ill-defined. I had one thing – the present and my priority was singular – ‘out there’ was someone else’s problem.

In light of this, I fired off hurried emails to the university where I studied part-time, informing them that I would be immediately postponing – I needed to learn to walk again, and so that was that. Of course, they understood.

All the energy I could muster was directed at my rehabilitation and I couldn’t wait for my physio sessions – the more the merrier!! If I was asked the day of the week l knew the answer because it was written on a whiteboard each morning – not because I ever thought about it – the details were irrelevant to my all-consuming and very important plans. I was allowed to be selfish.

From one (recent) appointment laden week to the next, I’ve found myself longing for the clarity I had back then. Just one thing.

When I was back home for good you see, I wrote back to my tutors revoking all previous messages – and vowing to get on with it. I found my idle hands awkward, desperately searching for activities that would occupy. The treatment has lasted six months longer than planned, and that’s OK – but, it was inevitable that the laser beam focus would eventually muddy. 

Sar x


January Haul.

With Christmas gift vouchers increasingly burning a hole in my pocket, it just had to be done. Not one for eking things out – I needed to bask in the joy of bags and boxes – delivered by faces now all too familiar.  By Friday, I'd peeled myself out of my heavenly house-pants to do a try on, and by late afternoon, emerged properly clothed into the real world. 

Here's the best of the bounty. 

Language of love

We've kinda said it all with slogans in recent months, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing worth keeping on your chest. The trend initially took hold with French phrases, and given the je ne sais quoi, I reckon if its longevity you want – French is the way to go. Wear this jumper with jeans now and floaty skirts come spring.  

Dreamy denim

I'm so over skinny jeans – my legs want a bit of room. So I’m advocating the mom – I need a high waist, to hid my post-Christmas sins – chocolate and biscuits that must be eaten, and cheese. So much cheese. These deliver on both fronts.

Stripes are life 

Everyone feels better in a Breton. Stripes simply go with everything – a nautical neutral as far as I’m concerned. The pink and burgundy is a departure from the oh-so-familiar blue and white. The fabric is double layered, meaning less planning in the bra department, and the contrasting collar is heart eyes cute.

An interchangeable trio, and perhaps even – dare I say it – the start of a capsule?  

Happy January-is-nearly-over-and-we-made-it!!

Sar x

How To Up Your Walking Stick Game.

This time last year I was using a crutch, and probably thought my relationship with walking aids would be akin to a serial Tinder aficionado – you know, lacking commitment and over before it ever really begun – but with the latest knee news, (more on that below...) it looks like my stick and I are in it for the long haul. 

I arrived back from our holiday to an MRI scan the following day. The results were rapid, and a few days later the root of my knee pain was revealed – a tear in the lateral meniscus. I couldn't glean much from my GP in relation to likely treatment, but I'll see an orthopaedic specialist soon.

So I’m no longer in the dark, and that's a good thing. In the meantime, I wait. I’ll carry on with my rehab exercises but must take it easy on the walking front.

Given I've done my time with a number of walking sticks, I thought I'd share some tips on how to wear your stick, so it doesn’t wear you – along with a roundup of some pretty good ones.

1.       Own it

Be prepared for questions. As a young person using a walking stick, it rarely goes unnoticed. People might be surprised, and I say let them! Questions vary, as do my answers. If I’m not in the mood, “it’s a long story” usually shuts them up. Generally, though, I’m happy to share (I spend most days on my own after all, so will take pretty much any human interaction I can get!!!).

The length of time it takes to be fully comfortable with the ‘new' you might take longer than you think. I have said this before, but focusing on what you can do, rather than the things you can’t, does help to frame changes in a more positive light. Allow yourself time to adjust – but accept that you can’t swerve it forever. 

2.       Find your new style

The day I ditched the standard NHS-issue grey walking stick was a revelation. The gold stick I had bought made me feel like I had taken control – it was like any other accessory, and could easily be part of my life.

What I wear hasn't really changed, and I don’t believe it should. Minor tweaks are enough. I avoid anything maxi (a serious tripping hazard!), and have had to swap my heels for trainers (*sob*). If like me, you need to wear trainers, make them your thing. Go bright, go bold! You might find something you really love.

I choose to cover the cast I wear on my ankle with tights or socks, because it's a bit ugly, and I don't have much time for that!

3.       Out in the open

Your mobility mates deserve a bit of respect. Don’t hide them away in cupboards, or wardrobes! Keep them where you need them. In the early days, I needed my crutch at all times, even to get out of bed in the night, now, not so much.

I like to buy stuff (!), and so my collection quickly expanded and began to look messy. At this point, I started to look for storage solutions and opted for this umbrella stand. Re-purposed, it works well for keeping sticks of all sizes together. I love the beech wood, contrasted with the black, in a minimalist Scandinavian style. It occupies a space in the hallway, generally tidying things up, but not hiding away the aids I need.   

Umbrella stand - A Place for Everything.   

4.       Arm candy

When it comes to clothes, you know sometimes it's good to invest. The winter coat to see you through multiple seasons – a classic white shirt and well-fitting jeans. I’ve come to realise things you use every day (even walking sticks) should be built to last, and where possible, beautiful too. I’ve found some lovely options for all budgets (linked below). I'm the proud owner of the leopard-print number, and an amazing turquoise and walnut Top & Derby.  

Sar x

All sticks and crutches below are available from designed2enable. 

[2017] The Year I Started Blogging.

I'm writing this having completed the mornings physio regime – not on the floor of my bedroom (seriously though The Glamour!) – but looking at blue skies and mountains from my balcony. I left half-finished longer posts, and videos in-the-making at home – none of it quite right, and requiring a level of effort that escapes me. Life is so much better in the crisp white sheets of a too-big hotel bed, no dishwasher to be emptied, or appointments to attend.

My skills include... making yoga mats out of pretty-much anything. 

This blog was born exactly a year ago, planned in my head on a hospital ward and through this, I've discovered a love for writing and a new creative outlet. The treatment, the impetus – has (bar surgery) gone well, and my hope is to continue blogging over the next year and beyond.

So on the first day of a new month (and year!) I thought I'd share a couple of things that have been on my mind of late.

The first is an unwelcome upshot from a few months on steroids (along with the other better known side-effects), resulting in newly acquired facial hair (stay with me). That’s right – there’s bum fluff in places it isn't very welcome, and whilst (not-so-secretly) comforting to stroke I'd quite like it sorted out. Priority number one – suggestions for tackling are welcome. 

Looming large in second place is the need to focus on my rehabilitation. It's not that it has fallen out of favour or become any less important, but the last few months have seen set-backs due to persistent left knee pain. The imminent MRI scan, which is planned for next week *should* help to determine whether the pain is caused by compensatory posture or a separate ‘knee specific’ issue.

I expect hashtag #NewYearNewMe to start doing the rounds today – gyms soon full of new members, eager and fighting for places on classes and rowing machines.

And me?

Well, for the next couple of days, you’ll find me eating my weight in chocolate-covered crepes, whilst wishing you all a very happy New Year.

Sar x