Tuesday, 16 August 2011

So how am I doing in my quest for a Wonderful Life?

I went to a funeral yesterday – my friend’s father. My friend stood there at the front of the church along with his mother and sister and spoke about his dad and their relationship. I don’t know how he did it but it was beautiful.

While incredibly sad, it also made me count my blessings. Like me he spent a month in The Christie trying his hardest to beat this bastard disease. He wasn’t as lucky as me – it really brings home the close shave I’ve had and the fact that life isn’t a rehearsal.

As you will know from my previous post, we had good news on Friday – I continue to sail a steady course away from la Isla Cancerous. It’s given me a chance to stop and exhale and think about what I’ve done recently and where I go from here.

I promised at the very start of this blogging journey that I would do my best to have a Wonderful Life, packed full of fabulous experiences, travels and friends – to justify being given a second chance at life and repay all the hard work and faith people had in me. 

Mini-pork pie anyone?


Two months on since our wedding, I think it’s time to give myself a mini-appraisal – so here is a bit of an overview of what I've been up to in the last couple of months.


Paris for our minimoon – I can’t think of a better place to eat a baguette.

A fantastic couple of days in Oxford, where I revisited a few old haunts which bought back some very happy memories. http://alison-staples.blogspot.com/2011/07/oxford-blues.html

The Head of the River in Oxford where we stayed


The Coast to Coast weekend was brilliant fun. The Way of the Roses from Morcambe to Bridlington takes you through some beautiful countryside. While not up to cycling that far, I played my part, driving the 17 seat support minibus – for three days I was the King of the road.


We’ve also been to see Dad in Bourne in Lincolnshire, to plan our wedding blessing on 26th August. It will be lovely to be in Bourne Abbey for a happy occasion this time. Last time I was there was for mum’s funeral. She is buried in the church yard there so I’m planning to leave her my bouquet. And then of course there is the reception afterwards at a pub in the village of Dyke. As luck would have it, they have a beer festival there in the evening with 42 different local ales which has made Tris a very happy husband.


We’ve had a trip to Wimbledon followed by my annual attempt to play tennis at our local court. Sadly a broken flip-flop stopped play.

Petra Kvitova went on to win the women's Wimbledon title


I’ve done some excellent bag and coat holding at the Sale 5K Sizzler and various open water swims. Every Saturday morning, Tris gets up early and cycles to Salford to swim in the Quays along with approx. 100 other loonies. I usually drag myself out of bed and drive over, arriving just in time to see him getting out of the water. Still, it makes my old heart happy to see so many men in wet suits.

Tris’ open water swimming training this year was in preparation for his first Olympic distance triathlon. For his birthday his parents and I bought him swimming lessons with ‘Ironman Gav’! It’s true to say that we were slightly intimidated by the name but the lessons were excellent. Tucked away on an industrial estate in Wythenshaw he deconstructs people’s swimming strokes while they swim against a constant current in an infinity pool. One hour and three top tips later, Tris no longer looked like a bluebottle drowning in the sink.

In the middle of July, we all trooped over to Llandudno for the sea swim triathlon. Tris was in his wetsuit waiting to be called into the water, when the swim part was cancelled due to bad weather. He wasn’t a happy boy, but went on to do some speedy running and cycling in absolutely awful conditions. 

Just before the sea swim was cancelled


I’ve started doing Pilates every Wednesday evening with two of my pregnant friends. I always end up eating too late and then spend the entire hour unable to bend myself into the required shapes, trying not to fart and falling off my fit ball laughing.

I’ve also started dog walking for a friend. I take Rosie out for an hour every Monday and Friday lunch time. We generally walk along the canal where I try to stop her from jumping in. Last time we got chased by a couple of angry swans who hissed at us and I nearly lost Rosie under a fisherman (I think she was after his sandwiches).

Culture & Relaxation

Well, there was oodles of culture in Paris, but in the last couple of months we’ve also been to see The Courteeners in concert at Haigh Hall near Wigan. 

The Courteeners


I’ve been treated to lunch in the BBC canteen at Media City in Salford Quays, where I failed to spot CBeebies star, Mr Tumble and we watched a very tense dog show on the lawns of Clumber Park.

In terms of relaxation – well until the wedding I didn’t realise how low maintenance I was! During the weeks leading up to the big day, I was buffed, bronzed, highlighted, low lighted, body wrapped and manicured to within an inch of my life. I’ve spent the last two months growing everything back! I did however make one exception with a wonderful afternoon of pampering for a friend’s birthday at Ki Day Spa in Altrincham, where I was told off for talking too loudly in the relaxation area and woke myself up three times snoring during a facial.

Food & Drinks

Well, let’s just say there’s been a bit of both over the last couple of months. I justify it with the fact that I didn’t really eat much last year. I won’t go into the gruesome in’s and out’s but my treatment basically made my insides fall out. It was five months after I’d finished my treatment when I actually managed to finish a meal. And I’ve been finishing meals ever since. I really should rein it in a bit – maybe after I’ve finished this pie.

Highlights have included our girls night our at (celebrity chef) Simmon Rimmer’s restaurant, Earle in Hale, The Royal Oak in Long Bennington on the way down to Dad’s which did curry battered fish and lamb and mint pies in a clam shell of puff pastry and The Chutney Lobster in Sale which does salmon samosas and onion and coriander garlic naan breads.

Cocktails in the garden

 My Favourite Weekend

This was the weekend where Tris and I played rude word scrabble and ‘meshed’ our names on a warm Friday evening, sitting in our yard drinking wine and listening to the karaoke escaping from the Legh Arms pub.

On the Saturday, I watched Tris swim at Salford Quays – he then bought squirrel pies at a farmers market on the way home which I refused to eat. In the afternoon we inflated the canoe which I bought Tris for Christmas and paddled it along the Bridgewater canal from Sale to Altrincham and back, avoiding the angry swans and a pair of discarded trainers.

Then on the Sunday we went blackberrying in Chorlton Water Park, where I stupidly wore flip flops and managed to mangle my feet. When we came home, I made a fish pie while Tris built a wall. How womanly and manly we are!

Back to the Future

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’ve done too badly during my first couple of months as Mrs Pocock (Staples-Pocock, Polecat, Costco – whoever I am). Life has been pretty wonderful, and I’ve also been privileged enough to have the time to write to all you lovely people. I’ve got my ‘Wonderful Life’ and ‘Chorley Bucket’ blogs up and running and between them, to date I’ve had 2,338 page views from people in 23 countries. I’ve no idea in the great blogging scheme of things, whether that is good or not, but I feel really honoured that people have taken the time to read my posts, and your feedback has been lovely, thank you.

In the diary for the coming month, in addition to my regular Pilates and dog walking gigs, it seems I will be doing lunch (a lot), with a spot of cocktails, a tour of The Vivarium at Manchester Museum and an evening of Rugby League at Salford Reds.

And that’s just this week!

Looking further ahead, we’ve got our wedding blessing, followed by our honeymoon to Boston, New England and New York. Then when I get back, I’ve got a few days to catch my breath before heading off to Berlin with my sister. Catherine spent six months in Berlin in 1985, before the wall came down. She hasn’t been back since, so we are taking the opportunity and travelling out there to so a bit of touristy stuff and to support some friends who are running the Berlin marathon. I suspect I might be holding a few coats again that day.

I think that should take me up to October, when I’ll need to give some serious thought to my future - job etc. I’m enjoying my writing so much I’d love to be able to make a career out of it. I just need to find out how. Now if I could do that, that would be a pretty wonderful life.


  1. Alison you should definitely write a book.....your blogs are fantastic and I'm not just reading them to avoid my assignment....its great to hear about someone truly fullfilling the word 'living' you are so right that it's not a rehearsal! I can't wait to read the next installment x Kate (aka Birdy...)