A trip of contemplation….

A much needed trip this morning. So I could clear my head ready for the next post I am going to write.

Why you may ask, well it will enable me to make my mind up on what direction I take with the medication suggested the other day.

Sun was shining, so a trip to the beach was called for.


We went nice and early as I can not bear crowds of people. I am one of these sad people who go on a rainy day just so that I dont have to bump in to anyone else.

As it is I was really chilled out. If I am not panicking over crowds then I am there and wanting to come away. Today, I couldn’t have cared less (now this may have had something to do with the Inositol I have started taking, what is this you may ask?…Well give this a read …Sophie Vaughan Blog….see what you think, so far so good here, I feel a heap more calm)

This isn’t a wordy post, simply pictures of us…..

beach 1 beach

Generic “We were here writing” 🙂

beach 2

My ugly mug 🙂


We have air between the feet and the ground!


Sand Castle’s 🙂

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A crab shell, my find, although the kids weren’t impressed 🙁

beach 15

Rock collecting ……

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Just having fun…..I love this lot…..x

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beach11 beach 10

beach 5

Oh, in case you were going to ask, my head is clear xxxx


Freeman Visit

hospital 2

I must apologise for being so quiet the last couple of days.

Posts have been written but to be honest I am not happy with any of them. Mainly I think because today’s appointment was playing on my mind.

I have not had time to dread this appointment as it only came through about a week ago, although I knew it was on its way I am grateful it was so quick, that way I didn’t have chance to talk myself out of it.

While visiting the specialist dermatologist over at the RVI a few weeks ago he advised that a chat with the Professor over at the Cancer Unit may be of benefit to Mark and I to discuss non surgical options.

Now all well and good you may say, and yes it is, but I have one major issue that I need to overcome every time I go.

I have to face REALITY, something I struggle with massively at the best of times when it comes to admitting that I am indeed, a Cancer Patient. Now there is nothing to be ashamed about, not at all, but I feel like a fraud when I rock up and there are so many poorly people there and me.


Enough waffling and lets get on with what happened….

We had a very long drive there this morning, there had been two accidents on the A1,one north bound and one south bound, so we took the scenic route up.


I would be lying to say I don’t enjoy the ride up there, love to see the angel and St James Park shining in all their glory.

hospital 1

We arrived and made our way to The Northern Centre for Cancer Care.


We truly are blessed to have such amazing medical care in the North East. The hospitals I attend are amazing and the unit at the Freeman is outstanding in its field.

Mark, Regan and Penny came too.

Mark being there is vitally important to me. He asks the questions I am simply afraid to ask, or the questions that I don’t think of. He takes some of what is being said in and I take the rest, so between us when we come out we can piece together what was said.

Like I say today was about deciding if there was anything that could be done other than surgery.

Prior to attending today I knew of three treatments that I expected to be mentioned today. These are:

Aldara Cream

This is a topical treatment that is applied to the BCC over a space of days, it basically uses the bodies own defence system to attack the cancer cells, which in turn may get rid of the growth.

Cancer Research UK


This is similar to Vitamin A, it encourages the abnormal cells to turn mature in to normal cells. This is generally administered in tablet form and has a good record of reducing the amount off BCC’s Gorlins patients get.

Cancer Reasearch UK

Vismodegib (Erivedge)

This oral drug is aimed at blocking the signals that cause a cancers rapid growth. It is classed a cancer blocker.

Cancer Research UK

Before I tell you about today, let me share this with you:

Almost three years ago,  I was invited to do an  interview for ITV Regional News,  when the latter drug was licensed for use within patients like myself. So I had a good idea as to what the drug did and what the medicating process entailed.

hospital 5

In we went, sat in the waiting room at least somebody was having fun. She brightened up a few of the peoples days though, being her usual charming self.

We had to wait a bit but we got seen pretty quickly.

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As expected she asked me to go over my story, which I did. You have heard that one before so I won’t go in to detail.

She looked over me and agreed that the current batch of BCC’s showed all the traits.

Then came the nitty gritty bit.

“So the reason the Dermatologist has referred you to us is to discuss the use of Erivedge as a long term treatment.”

Hmm, now I will go in to the pros, cons and potential side effects in a post for you tomorrow. (This being because it is a post in its own right, the list is long)

Mark and I have talked long and hard about this drug, it does potentially bear side effects similar to chemotherapy. It is a long term drug that I would have to take for at least nine months, or in the words of Cancer Research UK “You keep taking the treatment until it stops working or the side effects become too great.”

But the results are good, they speak for themselves. It does stop the growth, it does reduce the size of current growths and it works.

We questioned the long term.

“This is a new drug and they do only have the records going back 6/7 years. So far all the side effects subside after taking of the drug ceases. There is no evidence of any other long term effects but then how would they know.”

We also questioned how many patients with Gorlins they currently had taking the drug

“Three or Four was the reply, but then that is good as there aren’t that many of us.”

The doctor left the room and we had a brief discussion and more or less agreed that it is worth a shot. However we would look over the information and come back to her with an answer as soon as possible.

She returned armed with information from the Cancer Research UK site in her arms.

I spoke to her explaining that I would like to give it some consideration and could we make another appointment. She was more than happy to do that and I return in two weeks. If I decide to go ahead then they will take blood tests, and will do so every 4 weeks, I will need to return to the Freeman for observation on a regular basis and I would not be able to have surgery for six too nine months so they could assess the success of the treatment.

hospital 4

So here we are, I have the information, I have the pro’s and con’s and I am developing a list of questions.

I will share these with you in my next post. It would seem that putting this down in type is helping me to open up. Strange way to put it but it’s a kind of therapy for me I think. Getting it all out there for other people to read and understand is my way of talking about it.

I thank you for reading and I thank you for your support…..tomorrow is another day …….xxxxx

Budget Wedding

One drunken night a long, long time ago……..

Haha, well that’s how it started. Mark and I had both been engaged before and to be honest I don’t think either of us had seriously considered marriage properly. Well, he hadn’t and I had gone through the motions with my ex but never seriously considered it or committed to the idea.

Mark and I had the conversation when we first started seeing each other and discussed that marriage was a waste of time.

That however quickly changed, he started to talk about that if he ever was to do it then he would not want to have a massively formal affair, he wanted a big party and if he was ever to do it he would want a registry office and not a church. Now in my mind that was a lot of “ifs”.

I warmed to the idea and actually wanted to spend the rest of my life with this man. Making it official sounded like a possibility. I like the idea of a wedding late in the day, I would have liked a church but a registry office was more than acceptable because that meant we could do it the way we wanted, a party reception that was aimed at everyone, no formalities, fun for the kids and most importantly of all, I wanted it to be perfect with as little cost implication as possible.

I wont bore you with the background story, but if you are new to reading my blog or haven’t read that bit yet, here it is….Hubby and I

After our engagement party I started to plan. I put pen to paper and started writing lists and making notes. Working out how much we had to spend and what we wanted.

The date was set in February 2011 for April 2012, as you know however having read our story, we had to change that date. It was April and we changed the date for the December. (Hubby and I)

Mission “Panic” Planning commenced!!

Our budget was £2000.

Now that’s not a lot, not a lot at all in the grand scheme of weddings but here is how we did it……

It was always going to be a family party, heavily involving the kids. The reception I had planned was aimed at resolving any boredom they may face.

We arrived at the club for the reception and the kids went to find there seats and goody bags. It meant they could fill their faces while the adults got comfortable, mingled and got themselves a drink.

We did the speeches first. When everybody was there a glass was tapped and we sat down for the speeches (all along the kids still munching their way through goody bags).

Now in hindsight sweets and cake before the buffet maybe wasn’t the best idea, but it was a party so that’s allowed, right?

The buffet opened and everybody tucked in. Adults talked and the entertainer came out with balloon animals and dancing games for the kids, while the adults got on with their thing.

It worked…that is my point. The younger ones started to disperse about 8pm. We then had adult time with the older kids.

Anyway on with my costings 🙂

Item Cost Gift
Registry Office £300.00
Reception Venue £5.00
Invitations & Place Cards £75.00
Bridal Gown £160.00 £160.00
Bridesmaid Dresses £30.00
Grooms Outfit £55.00
Boys Outfits £180.00
Flowers £100.00 £100.00
Hairdresser £80.00
Cars £130.00
Wedding Party Gifts £50.00
Table Decorations £125.00 £25.00
Favours & Kids Goody Bags £60.00
Food £350.00 £250.00
Disco/Childrens Entertainment £120.00 £120.00
Glass Hire £40.00
Toasting Drinks £120.00 £120.00
Cake £280.00 £280.00
Photographs £0.00 £0.00
Rings £77.00
£2,337.00 £895.00 £1,442.00

Some of those things look a little hard to believe and yes, we came in over budget, but when all came to all we didn’t andhere is why:

The best suggestion I had made was would I like for people to pay for wedding items as a gift to us for our wedding. Genius idea. My Uncle and Aunt were the ones to suggest it. At the end of the day we had a home, we didn’t need anything and we said if people wanted to gift us, then money would be amazing, maybe for a holiday.

They came forward and said they would love to buy us our Wedding Cake as a wedding gift. We obviously jumped at the chance, it was an amazingly generous gift, very special and personal.

At the same time my Mum, My Dad and his partner and one of my other Aunts all stepped forward and said they would like to do the same.

Moral to the story is, if you have someone who can make and do, and has a hobby or interest you can use or someone who you aren’t afraid to suggest it too help, ask away. It will save them the hassle of having to think of a gift and they will be over the moon to know they have played a huge part in your day.

Registry Office

This was a cost we couldn’t get down, we wanted to get married on a Saturday and we wanted to have a prime time of day. So we paid the premium for that.

However, if you are reading this and you are prepared to marry on a week day or a Sunday, there is a strong chance that you will be able to get this a lot cheaper.

It is certainly cheaper to get married in the actual registry office than getting a registrar to attend a venue for you.

Reception Venue

£5.00?? Yes indeedy £5.00. How? I here you shout…well…

There is a lot to be said for your local Working Mens Club. It may not be your ideal, tranquil posh hotel but for our purposes it was perfect. The concert hall was massive, the décor was dated but we could work with it. For £5.00 I wasn’t going to complain. We had to join as members and that was the £5.00 charge.

We had the  run of the place, we would have to set up and arrange the tables but in the grand scheme of things that was nothing.

Invitations and Place cards

These proved to be a bit of a nightmare and cost me more than they should have. I had ordered them for the original date and then had to reorder for the new date. However, I wanted simple and they were of postcard size with a decoupage balloon on, in my wedding colours, Ebay is an amazing source for saving money on wedding items. They came, handmade, at such a reasonable cost. They were very pretty.


I was adamant that I wasn’t having place settings. However as time went on and people started with the “you don’t wanna sit such and such with that one”, I was talked in to doing one.

One Sunday morning turned in to one Sunday afternoon, that turned into tears, screaming and giving up on life.

But finally after 6 hours of jiggling, moving and shouting at Mark for his lack if interest in the whole thing it was done.

The cards came from the lady who had made the invitations and I decorated them with diamontes that I bought cheaply on eBay. So that we could identify who needed a goody bag and no champagne flute I put a ladybird on the kids ones.

Bridal Gown

One word…..CHINA…..we all dream of an amazing dress.

I spent weeks hunting for the “right” dress. I went to all the shops in Darlington, Durham, and ended up in Chester le Street. I still didn’t find one that I could class as the one. I had an idea of what I wanted and searched the net.

Finally I found one that was similar to one that I had tried on and liked when I went shopping with my Mum.

Now the dresses from China are not exactly the same. However, if you find the right maker they will do their best for you.

It is important to check like you do on Ebay, seller ratings, quality and feedback but this extra work will save you a fortune.

The site I used was www.dhgate.com. I found the dress I wanted mine based on and sent one of the makers a message. I could have it in any colour I wanted and measured to my exact measurements.

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It came out at cost of £140.00 as I needed a plus size dress.

This was bought for me, so I saved here.

It took four weeks and arrived in a very small parcel but on opening they quality was fantastic. The fabric was a very heavy satin (as I would have imagined it to be), the beading was all done by hand and there was plenty of fabric should I have needed it taking in or out. Only issue was that it was a little too long but nothing an extra inch on my shoes couldn’t fix.

My shoes came from Ebay at a cost of £20.00.

Bridesmaid Dresses

You guessed it…Ebay. The minute we had our date in place I started to watch for dresses on Ebay. I knew I wanted two black adult gowns and three little people dresses. I wasn’t bothered if they weren’t the same, just similar in style. The same with the little ones dresses I wanted them to be the same colour. I was more concerned that the bridesmaids had a dress to suit their personality rather than them all match.

Post Prom season is a prime time to pick up a bargain. I got three adult dresses, black, for the grand total of £10. They were all Debenhams dresses that had been worn once but were in perfect condition.


The little girls dresses cam in a brand total of £20.00. I had one in mind for Libby, and managed to get it for £10.00. The other two dresses came in at £1.50 each. One Debenhams dress and two BHS dresses. The rest of the £30.00 went on shrugs for the little ones.


The adult bridesmaids wanted to get their own shoes and the little peoples ballet pumps came from Primark in the summer sale for £3 each.

Groom and Boys Outfits

We had Mark to buy for, his best man, one usher and three boys.

They all wanted to be the same.

I had bought Mark and his brother trousers from Jacamo, as the only thing we could agree on was black bottoms. Now I say this and really you need the back story on the colour scheme.

I am a Newcastle United fan, which reading earlier posts I am sure you have figured out by now. Mark however is a Liverpool fan. My dreams of a wedding scheme have always been Black and White. In fact I wanted a black dress but was told in no uncertain terms NO. So when I said I wanted to have our scheme as black and white, I was told not unless I can have red.

Colour scheme sorted.

I went ahead and bought the men red ties and that left me with the shirts to buy. In the meantime I had managed to get hold of the boys trousers (back to school trousers from ASDA), shoes (back to school), and had hunted down matching shirt and tie sets on Ebay that were from Debenhams. They were black shirts with a black and white checked ties.


When Mark saw these he was quite taken with them so I ordered them all black shirts (again from Jacamo) and checked ties from that place I used a lot (I bet they wish they were on commission the amount of times I have mentioned and am about to mention some more :D)

Sorted, they all sorted their own shoes.


One of the items that was bought for us as a gift.

My Dad’s partner was a florist by trade. We had a chat and because we were getting married in December it was going to be hard and expensive to source the flowers I wanted.

We visited a faux flower warehouse and I was overwhelmed by what choice there was out there. I chose what I wanted and they were bought and made up.



Hairdresser & Nails

This was somewhere I was prepared to pay the full price.

At the time I was sporting a bald head and a wig. I sourced a local hairdresser that could confidently work with wigs and she did an amazing job with putting it in to an “up do”.

She also put up Mark’s sisters hair (my big bridesmaid), my Mum’s hair and the two older bridesmaids hair.


I felt amazing although the wig lasted until the first dance and was place on the best mans head for safe keeping for the rest of the night.

My Nails were a gift to me from Mark’s Mum. She was learning how to do them at an evening class and offered to them as a gift to me.


Now each to their own, but I wasn’t that bothered about arriving in a big flash wedding car. Not my thing, we wanted understated and that’s the direction we went in.

Don’t get me wrong I did price the cars up but I wasn’t prepared to pay £800+ on three cars that we had the use of for a couple of hours.

I looked in to a few local taxi companies and did a few journeys with each. I picked one that had smartly presented drivers, the cars were spotless and they were nice looking cars.

We booked two 8 seaters (One for Mark and the boys and One for my Bridesmaids) and a car for me and my Mum. £130.00…sorted!

Wedding Party Gifts

I didn’t have the money to go over the top.

I wanted something simple.

Ebay again ….I bought the big bridesmaids a hand bag that matched their dresses.

The little bridesmaids a lovely little Bridesmaid necklace.

Marks and Spencer’s for an orchid each for my Mum and my Dads partner.

The men folk quite simply were gifted with beer. All gifts were warmly received.

Table Decorations

So I am all for pretty but in this case I had to take in to consideration the venue. The ceilings are high and the room is big. I could have gone all chic but I decided that a simple option was balloons. On the table there would be a table cloth, petals, the toast glasses (the club did not have flutes, so we had to source these) and three bottles of Cava.





The balloons were sourced from a local company at a very reasonable charge. The petals, gloss paper table clothes, plates and  cutlery all came from Ebay, at a small cost in comparison to high street prices.

The chair covers were owned by a friend of my Dad’s partner and the topiary trees were from her front doors. We added some organza and some £1 lights from the Poundshop.

Favours & Kids Goody Bags

You guessed it :D….I ordered red and black favour bags at a small cost, they were coming from China and arrived with in 14 days. For filling them I went to Tesco and bought their Value Mints. For 120 guests I bought 20 bags of mints and there was more than enough.

The cost of the favours was bumped up by the “Goody Bags” I did for the kids.


Having been to many weddings, I always feel for the parents with the kids that are clearly bored and create a scene for them during the lengthy Meet and Greet and Speech parts. So I thought a bag with some treats in would do the trick. In each bag (which I bought from The Card Factory in the Christmas offers they do) was a cupcake, a “fruit shoot” type drink, a selection of sweets, a bag of crisps and a couple of colouring pages and pencils. All relatively low in cost but it worked a treat.


Now any of my friends will tell you that I do not give the reigns of cooking over to anyone else very lightly. Especially when it comes to party food.

I was adamant that I wanted to make stuff and despite promising I would keep out…..I didn’t.

The buffet was paid for by both of my parents. We decided on a buffet as it fell in to the casual approach we wanted and again it meant that the children did not have to be pinned down and the same for adults.

My Dad’s partner called in favours and her friend made two lovely big poached Salmon, she made roast meats and they ordered in pies, quiches, cooked cold meats and Roast Potatoes from a local butchers.

I went to Iceland and spent £80 on their party foods and then when and bought stuff for sandwiches.

The night before my wedding I spent until 2am cooking, and truly was in my happy place, well that’s until the alarm went off at 6 am for my soon to be Mum in law to come and do my nails.


(This wasn’t all of it, there were boxes all along the seat at the back too)

The buffet as you can see was huge, and there was loads left over. (I am a firm believer in left overs, if there is food left over then people were full, an empty buffet means people may have gone away hungry and I can not be dealing with that on my conscience)

The Entertainment

For me getting married was about making it a family affair. We wanted a big family party where children were made to feel as much part of the day as we were.

There are a lot of children between mine and Marks family and I believe on the day we had 26 children there.

I called around a few disco’s and children’s entertainers and found a guy who’s friend was a very popular children’s entertainer in the town we lived. He wasn’t booked on the date we wanted and said he would normally go to weddings etc. with his mate to help out with the disco. If we wanted him to keep the kids entertained for an hour or so then he would happily do it for a few pints. Deal!


So we had a disco and a kids entertainer for £120.00.

***Tip*** When sending emails to people for quotes always make sure to mention other things you are looking for, in our case in paid off several times over

Glass Hire

Your local supermarket. That simple, they charge you a standard fee per glass. Half of that was refunded when I returned the glasses and any breakages were charged at £1 per broken glass. Simple, 120 flutes in the bag for £40. (You are asking how many breakages there were, the answer would be two)

There is always the option of plastic glasses that can be spruced up if you  have the time. Here is an example of the ones I did for my Sister in Laws Wedding.




Toasting Drinks

Trusty old supermarket again, we waited until one of the supermarkets had the “Buy 6 bottles and get 5% off” promotion offer on. Then went and bought 24 bottles. Three per table and three to hide under my table 😀 .


My Aunty and Uncle offered to buy this for us.

She asked me to find what I wanted and get in touch with our regular cake lady to make it for us.

I chose a Chocolate base, a victoria sponge middle and a lemon sponge on top.


Now the cake I chose was very specific and on the day it arrived with pink flowers instead of red, the cake lady was sent away promptly to go and fetch some food colouring(paint). It also wasnt as delicate as the photo I had shown her. Saying that it was a fabulous cake and very pretty, and tasted amazing.


I mentioned before that my other Aunt offered up her services as a Wedding Gift to us and that was the photographs.

She is a very keen photographer and her work is fantastic. (I have done a review of her daughters artwork E.Bulman)

Anyway, I didn’t want many formal pictures, the shots I wanted were natural, doing it this way meant that she could enjoy the day as much as the rest of us and just wander round with a camera to her hearts content.

The pictures were fantastic and came as a wedding gift.

So last but not least and almost forgotten as it was nearly forgotten when it happened…

The Rings

A week before we got married I was going through a checklist to see that I had done and got everything we needed.

I got to the rings ticky box and thought…..ohhhhh ****.

Instantly I did a search on Ebay for Mark one that he liked, with the option of next day delivery. Sorted it came in at £59.99.

Mine, I would like to say was all singing and dancing, but I couldn’t bear the idea of wearing hundreds of pounds worth of jewels on a finger and decided to go with the £17.99 band from Argos.

It did the job and still does, I actually replaced it a few weeks after the wedding and hated the one I replaced it with so I took it back. The one I wear is the one that got given to me on that special day and that’s that.

So concludes my wedding on a budget.

I have since then done wedding favours for a few other people.

All the items, with the exception of the contents of the boxes are ebay sourced….Maybe these will add extra inspiration.

In the case of my sister in laws wedding, I made towers of large favour boxes as the table centres and the favours. They were filled with a bag of pink and white sweets.





These ones were for a friend who simply didn’t have the time left to do the tiny details.

She bought the boxes, sweets and purple inserts and I put them together for her.






A pretty, enjoyable and memorable day will always be possible without the big cost.