ADRIENNE'S HIV BLOG – Hivine's Weblog

HIVINE is written by HIV positive women but still with a sense of humour

Radioactivists -Viv Lives 7

December 2009

It’s a long time since I contributed anything to this section of ‘Hivine’ and I thought that before 2009 disappears, I should account for what I’ve been up to. The first thing to report is that I am no longer radioactive and haven’t been for months and months. (Perhaps that has what has stopped me writing under this particular title – I don’t really qualify any more).

All in all 2009 has been a much happier experience than 2008 was. The biggest event was that we (my husband and I – sound like the Queen don’t I?) finally got to New Zealand. The year before we’d had to cancel because of my illness and treatment but this year we made it! We flew in February and collected our ‘home’ – (a trusty camper van that we came to love) in Christchurch and began our trip exploring the South Island where we spent about 7 weeks followed by another six weeks in the North Island. Everything in New Zealand was a joy. The scenery for one thing is spectacular and at times stomach lurchingly breathtaking. The earth below New Zealand seems to be intent on coming to the surface and we marvelled at geysers and bubbling mud and volcanoes and we sat till we were broiled in wonderful thermal pools. We met the loveliest people who were kind and hospitable and some I know will be friends for life. We ate wonderful food including a Maori ‘hangi’ (food cooked under the hot ground), the best fish and chips that we have ever eaten anywhere and hokey pokey ice cream which is absolutely to die for. Many times fishermen at the beach gave us fish for our supper. We saw dolphins and seals, albatrosses kiwis and three enormous sperm whales. We canoed on a still, vast lake, we climbed up a steep valley side to stand and look up at the edge of a glacier, we flew in a helicopter and landed on top of Foxes Glacier and we stood on crisp white frozen snow under the bluest sky, we took a lunatic ride on a jet boat which was driven by a maniac who took us to the foot of Huka Falls spinning and whizzing all the way. We had campfires and sat under the stars of the southern hemisphere. I’ll shut up now but I hope you get the general impression that it really was a trip of a lifetime except we know we want to go back and do it again.

After NZ we flew to Melbourne where we visited relatives and friends. We were taken to an Australian footy match which was to me incomprehensible but I enjoyed the atmosphere. We had a a great barbecue cooked up for us for us (of course!) which included kangaroo steak. It felt wrong to be eating Skippy but he wasn’t half tender. Melbourne was a great city. It felt youthful, cosmopolitan and vibrant and we really enjoyed our ten days or so there. We ended with three days in Sydney and saw a very Australian production of ‘The Nutcracker’ in the amazing Opera House which was a stunning and a memorable way to end a memorable trip.

So we got back just in time for some lovely early summer weather here at home and we had lots and lots of visitors. It was great to enjoy our bits of North Wales with family and friends and we had meals out in the garden, picnics, long walks. It really was all pleasure till the sogginess of July and August set in. It was in August that we were able to pay back some hospitality of our own to two New Zealand friends who stayed with us for a week, the highlight of which was taking them to a rehearsal of a local male voice choir which was fantastic. (They had specially requested a proper Welsh choir once they knew they were coming to Wales).

My husband signed up for the British Legion’s annual sponsored Poppy Bike Ride which took place in September (and which was kindly featured on Hivine). Along with about 150 other cyclists he cycled from Greenwich in London to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. It took them four days and they all loved it. I went to Paris (by EasyJet not bike) to meet him at the end of the ride . It was fantastic to see the huge satisfaction that all the cyclists felt after the camaraderie, the challenge and the emotions of being warmly greeted by the French en route and the moving ceremonies that took place at War Memorials each day. He aimed to raise £800 in sponsorship but in fact managed to raise £2,500 which was tremendous!

Last month we had an unexpected and unplanned week in Cyprus. A friend and who is a Greek Cypriot offered us the use of his house on the island. My sister and brother in law came too and we enjoyed a bonus week of glorious hot sunshine – though it went cold at night. We feasted on feta cheese , olives, wonderful yoghurt with yummy honey, we ate fresh oranges and pomegranates and we guiltily scoffed baclava a delicious cake dripping in yet more honey and full of crushed pistachio nuts. We hired a car and visited Nicosia and peeped over the border into Turkey. We did a coastal walk, the other three swam in the sea (not me) and we visited ruins and mosaics and museums then fought like cats and dogs over Trivial Pursuits every night on our return from the restaurant. All in all a very enjoyable week. There were a lot of young Canadians staying in a nearby hotel and we learnt that they were en route home to Canada after serving in Afghanistan. They were having a period of R and R before making the journey home. They looked healthy and well but we could only begin to guess at what they’d seen and done in recent months.

I’m very conscious of the fact that this item is a bit over the top with superlatives but it has been a good year and exactly what retirement was meant to be. I never take anything for granted and I sometimes have quiet moments when I take a sharp intake of breath and thank my lucky stars that I and my lovely family have come through it unscathed. I go for my regular checkups and am always very nervous and in the weeks leading up to them every little twinge or blemish takes on huge significance. So far my doctors seem pleased with me and I feel incredibly lucky that I went for that routine smear test which saved my life. Hiviners, never, never ever, miss your smear test or you mammogram or any other screening test that you are offered.

We’re looking forward to a family Christmas and Christmas dinner is going to go on all day as we’re having each course in a different house ending up with pudding and silly games at our son’s house. Should be fun.

I want to wish all Hiviners a very happy Christmas and a super healthy and extremely fortunate new year. Thank you for reading my scribbles.

Viv

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