Monday 16 January 2012

Blessed be the Ties that Bind Us

Once, at dinner in a favourite local restaurant, we were accused of being spies. To put this into some form of context the owners, who have become firm friends over time, introduced us, with much enthusiasm and, as it transpired, a great deal of misjudgement, to the couple seated at the next table. Upon discovering that we lived in Hungary they became convinced, and from then on it must be said we did little to persuade them otherwise, that we must be some kind of secret agents. At the point that we were informed that the country [the United Kingdom] did not need people like us, the conversation somewhat petered out. It came as no surprise to discover that we were not on their Christmas card list!

Dora Carrington's portrait of the novelist E.M. Forster

All of which puts us in mind of E.M. Forster's essay 'What I Believe' in which, in consideration of friendship, he writes 'If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country'. Happily we have not been called upon to do either. And if truth is to be told, then the closest we have ever come to espionage is in knowing the son of Kim Philby who, with Guy Burgess and Donald MacLean, spied for the Soviet Union and defected to Moscow in the 1960s.

Kim Philby depicted on a 1990 USSR stamp

Forster is not, of course, alone in the value he attaches to friendship. Dante places both Brutus and Cassius in the lowest circle of Hell when they choose to betray their friend Caesar rather than Rome.

The last two or so years have not been the easiest. During this time we have together successfully fought a rare form of leukaemia, now six months in full remission, which for over a year delayed much needed spinal surgery, carried out most successfully on Wednesday of last week. The death on Christmas Day of the only surviving parent added great sadness and further complexities to our lives.

hands joined in friendship

We should not, in any sense, be where we are today without the love and support of so many of our friends both here and in our adopted country of Hungary. But, equally important to us, have we been so touched by the enormous friendship we have felt from so many of you throughout the Blogosphere from across the world. Your comments, emails, cards and messages have meant so very much to us both and have served to enrich our lives beyond all measure. For this we thank you all from the bottom of our hearts; this post is for you.


  1. You've had a hard year....let's hope for a lot better in this year to come.
    From experience of my husband's illness, how right you are about the power of friendship.

    And in a media world which depicts sensationalism, scandal and disaster, isn't it wonderful that we find so many good people about!

  2. the fly in the web:
    We certainly believe that the best is yet to come!!!

    You are so right. The warmth and support that we have experienced has been amazing. Although one rarely hears of the good in the world, we agree with you that there are a tremendous number of people who give their friendship unconditionally and we have been humbled by it.

  3. You were in our thoughts the last couple of weeks.
    Blog friends are a special breed--mostly of the extra special kind :-).
    All good things for 2012--here's wishing it is happy & healthy.

  4. Real friends are precious and should be valued even more highly than gold and diamonds. They are so damned hard to find these days. You have been blessed, even in the middle of what has been a difficult time.

    I do hope that this year is a much better one for you.

  5. It's so lovely to 'see' your voice again and to delight in the idea of you being secret agents, even mistakenly. It makes me want to go out to eat today and whisper into my wristwatch to see if anyone would suspect me.
    My heart goes out to you on the trials of the past year and am sending warm thoughts across the miles for physical healing to continue. Your blog and comments are such a bright spot in my day (not to say it's all about me, but, you know, it MOSTLY IS)that I know many friends are wishing you the best as well.

  6. Niall and Antoinette:
    When we began our blog we did not expect to form such amazing relationships with 'virtual friends'. You are right, they are a very special group of people and are very dear to our hearts.

  7. My goodness. How did I not know any of this?

    My thoughts are with you and happy to add another voice to the chorus of support from around the world.

    Here's to an easier 2012.

    xo jane

  8. Wendz:
    Thank you so much for your most kind comment.

    Real friends do indeed seem to be harder to come by as the years progress. But, in our experience, when they are found the relationship is so much deeper perhaps because one invests more of oneself.

  9. So sorry to hear of your sad Christmas Day news but glad that your surgery went well. Let's hope that 2012 is a much better year for you, surrounded by dear friends old and new. M x

  10. DearHelenHartman:
    We love the idea of your whispering into your wristwatch and think that this would be the perfect cover for a C21 spy. After all everyone is talking into some technological contraption all of the time these days so one would be completely unnoticed.

    Thank you so much for your kind words. You have such a unique voice in your most engaging and amusing blog that we look forward to every post. Wishing you the very best in 2012!!

  11. Oh ~ I am so sorry to hear of the death of a parent and surgery and sad times !
    I had no idea .. I have thought you might be traveling and I was waiting for you to come back with more stories of far away places with strange sounding names :)
    Sending healing thoughts and big hugs ( but gentle for the back) and hopes for a much happier and healthier year to come.
    besitos. C

  12. flwrjane:
    Thank you, dear Jane, for your most kind wishes. Yes, the best is yet to come we believe!!!

  13. Vintage Jane:
    We have such plans for 2012 as you may imagine, stored up over the past two years!

    Needless to say, these do not involve either watching or taking part in the Olympic Games!!

  14. Notes From Abroad:
    Well, Candice, you can be assured that we shall be travelling the globe once we are able and shall then regale our readers with our experiences. What fun that will be!!

    Thank you for your kind comment and the gentle hug!!

  15. Nice to see you again, I too thought you were probably globe trotting. Sorry to hear about your loss, I know words can't make it better... just know that I sent a prayer up for you today. God bless you and your loved ones. Wishing you a blessed 2012.
    Nice post about friendship, love the quote by Forster.

  16. Dear Jane and Lance -

    Praise God for good news amongst the bad! 2011 wasn't the best year, frankly, I'm glad to see it behind...let the healing begin! Lance, such wonderful news about successful surgery and Jane, you're so right, when you're committed to each other, a marriage team, it takes both of you just to get from sun rise to sun down without doing bodily injury in between. At least, that's been my take -smile-.
    Love to you both and prayers on your behalf.
    Sandra at Thistle Cove Farm

  17. Sending best wishes to you both. Please take care.

  18. Jane and Lance,

    I have so often thought about you both hoping to find you here as I sign on to blogger. I am relieved to hear of the remission. You most definitely have had a difficult. I hope 2012 bring you continued healing and peace.

    I have met so many and formed unexpected (and most certainly non-traditional) friendships here, and am most grateful. Bonnie

  19. Dear dear Lance and Jane. You start out making us laugh with your spy-ine (pardon, sorry)tingling story and then share with us your recent difficulties. I was so pleased to see you commenting on various blogs the past few days and like a few others thought you had been travelling on some exotic journey. You have been sorely missed and I am greatly looking forward to more wonderful posts. Your comment about the Olympics made me smile in agreement -- my plan is to be out of the country if at all possible!!

  20. I saw Dora Carrington's portrait of EM Forster in the side of the blog page and immediately knew who it was :)

    Friendship is important, especially when a parent dies. That is a particularly miserable time in our lives. But Dora Carrington also understood how important true friendship was.. in the end she topped herself :(

  21. I was so deeply sorry to read your sad news losing anyone is difficult but some how we always think our parents will always be here. I must have missed a post as i didn't realise you had surgery i hope it went well and that you will be up and about again real soon. I hope this year is a positive one for you both. Hugs to to you both, dee x

  22. Jane and Lance,
    I have been looking for you and it is so good to hear from you.
    I am so sorry you have gone through a difficult time. I wish for you a peaceful 2012.

  23. Karen Xavier:
    Well, it certainly is our intention to be globe trotting just as soon as we are able. Indeed, we are starting to think that we could travel most of the world from blog friend to blog friend. What fun!!

    Thank you so much for keeping us in your thoughts and prayers.

  24. Jane and Lance:
    Please have a rummage around in my virtual bag marked 'COMMISERATIONS AND FELICITATIONS', and help yourself. In fact, take the whole bag.

    Good to have you back.

  25. Thistle Cove Farm:
    Yes, 2011 does not get any votes from us as the best year ever and we are certain that we can count you in too. But, dearest Sandra, there is light amongst the darkness for us and so there will be for you too.

    We do agree that to have a partner to face the world with is the greatest blessing of all and so our thoughts are very much with you, dearest Sandra,that you will have the strength and courage to continue the good fight [or the bad fight for that matter!!!]

  26. LX:
    Thank you! We shall and we trust that 2012 will be both joyous and prosperous for you!!

  27. My condolences on the loss of your parent. The death of a parent or grandparent is especially sad and unsettling because it changes our position in the world--in a sense, we must now take over the role that person occupied in the family hierarchy, even though we could not fathom them relinquishing it.

    I hope that 2012, which starting next week is also Dragon year, will be an auspicious one for you.
    --Road to Parnassus

  28. What a beautiful post. Well written and well said.

    I'm so sorry to hear of your recent troubles and loss. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

    And rest assured that no hemisphere is large enough to separate good thoughts from good thoughts. The two of you have always been exceptionally kind in everything you have said.

    May your 2012 return this same kindness several times over to you and yours.

    Blessings and best~~~

  29. Bonnie:
    We were certainly very relieved when 2011 became 2012. A new beginning always gives one strength and hope, we feel.

    We totally agree about the unexpected friendships to be made in the Blogosphere. We could not have 'met' a more diverse set of individuals but each one brings joy to our hearts and has opened our minds to all manner of wonders!

  30. I had to leave this in a separate comment, but regarding your espionage adventure, it seems that there is never a dull moment with you two. If you ever do infiltrate,I mean come visit Taiwan, there is a restaurant here called KGB which perhaps you would do best to avoid if you want to preserve your reputations.
    --Road to Parnassus

  31. The Broad:
    Although we shall most certainly not be within a 500 mile radius of the Capital in 2012, we wonder where in the world will be free of the Olympics in some form or another? One has the awful feeling that even in the deepest Amazonian forest or the wilderness of the Gobi Desert there will be some means by which the Olympics can be watched!!!

    Nevertheless, we can content ourselves with sporting white ties and tiaras for the Jubilee. That is much more our scene!!

  32. Hels:
    How well you know us!!

    Dora Carrington did indeed have such a sad and troubled life. Unrequited love has to be one of the most desperate aspects of a relationship.

  33. Delia hornbook:
    You are very kind. Thank you so much. Progress after the back operation is, we are pleased to say, already in evidence. However, a punishing regime of physiotherapy lies ahead.

    And, dearest Dee, we do so hope that your own health issues are under control. You always put such a brave face on things and we really do admire you for it!

  34. Dear Hattatts, I so hope that 2012 will be better for you both. My parents, both in their late 90's, died within a month of one another, and I was astounded to find myself orphaned. You don't outgrow being someone's kid. I hope you have many happy memories to cherish, of times when the parents were young and hoped the best for you.

    And for Lance, a completely uneventful recovery!

  35. Thank you for these kind remarks; we in the blogging community are fortunate to have found you. I hope that this new year brings you both health, joy, and happiness.

  36. Cheryl:
    Your kind words have really touched us, especially as you have experienced such great sadness yourself. Yes, let us all hope that 2012 will be an improvement! Wishing you joy and prosperity in the year ahead!

  37. Ben:
    Thank you so much for your cheery greeting!

    It is good to be back.

  38. Here's hoping for a much better year.
    In recent years I've 'met' and become very good friends with people via the Internet. The only thing I find is that you have to be careful who you tell about these friends. I've seen eyebrows go up on more than one occasion when I mention a man I chat to online!

  39. Dear Jane and Lance, I have been reading your elegant blog for perhaps a year, and I believe I'm right in saying that you have truly epitomized the saying "discretion is the better part of valour", as I have no recollection of hearing about these trials before now. I'm very glad to read that they are, for the most part, behind you, although grieving your recent loss will certainly take a while. Our family returned to Canada last summer after a 4-year posting to Budapest, so I especially look forward to reading more about your life there, when you return. All the best for 2012!

  40. Parnassus:
    How perfectly you sum up the feelings and emotions attached to the death of a parent.Even though we had little contact over the past twenty years, nevertheless, it is a strange feeling when one realises that those whom one had always looked to for some kind of direction or moral compass in life are no longer there to show the way. Suddenly, it is all down to oneself and it feels like a big responsibility.

    The Year of the Dragon,now that sounds right up our street!!

  41. I'm so sorry for your loss, and glad to hear that things seem to be improving on the health front. We're also hoping that 2012 will be a better year.

    As a child, I had a romanticized vision of espionage, and used to pretend I was a spy. I still enjoy spy novels above almost all others.

  42. Bryce Daniels:
    Such tender words, we have been really touched by them. Thank you so much.

    Kindness in so many different ways has been so freely given to us that it has been an absolute pleasure to return it wherever and whenever we could.

  43. Parnassus [again]:
    What fun to have a restaurant called KGB, definitely a photo-opportunity if [or when] we are in Taiwan.

    Of the couple who considered us to be spies, one is a dentist and one a headmaster. We should have expected them to be better judges of character!!

  44. Dearest Jane and Lance

    I was delighted to see your post today and to know you are back on the keyboard. You two are wicked for pretending to be spies!! (I am laughing, as I can imagine the theatrics involved).
    So sorry 2011 put you through all those hoops. It must be reassuring knowing all the misery is in the past and each day will bring you to fuller health. Spoil yourselves and get the best of care and help.

    Friendships formed, through blogging, were so unexpected by me. I liken these friendships to that of "pen friends" in days of yore.
    The variety of voices is like a symphony of birds in a rainforest.
    You are both in my daily prayers and good wishes.

    Helen xx

  45. Dear Jane and Lance, it is good to hear from you after a pause. However, feel sorry to hear about the loss of your parent. Please accept our heartfelt condolence. Glad to know that you are through with the spinal surgery and recovering. You have been and are in our thoughts. Though we live thousands of miles apart and are friends through blogosphere, but our friendship is no less in quality. We cherish our friendship with you.

  46. It's so nice to see a Hattatt post. So sorry to hear of your sad news. So very glad to hear the treatments have been successful. I hope 2012 brings recovery,good health and a good bit of luck.

  47. The word "remission" is the most welcome one in the same sentence as the word "leukaemia".

    You know, if someone ever wrongly assumed I was a secret agent, I don't think I'd correct them, either. Instead, I would wear what I'd hope to be a mysterious smile and drop all sorts of silly hints to confirm their belief.
    I am, after all, the Librarian with Secrets!

    All the best for this year - and who believes in good omens could certainly be happy, knowing that your blog is now back on my reading list where, no matter what I did, kept disappearing from.

  48. wellfedfred:
    You are so right, it is extraordinary to consider oneself as an orphan and yet that is exactly how it feels. And, it is now that one really appreciates the memories and momentoes that one has to remember those happy times of the past.

  49. La Vie Quotidienne:
    Wishing you a joyous and prosperous 2012! Thank you so much for your kind comment.

  50. Dear Jane and Lance,
    I'm so sorry to hear of one of your parents passing. I too, have lost both parents and they are missed very much. I stand on the belief that I will see them again.

    And your illness and surgery on top of it? Yes, I think it's time for better days for you. Praying for you, dear friends.

    Rest assured you have friends in blogland that think you are both wonderful! So glad to see you back.

  51. Tracey@Breathing English Air:
    Well now, Tracey, chatting to men wonder eyebrows are being raised!!!

    We have only met one virtual friend in real life up to now, and that was an altogether wonderful occasion. Who knows, in 2012 we may meet more, we do hope so!!

  52. Patricia:
    How interesting that you have spent the past four years in Budapest, our adopted home. We certainly hope to see more of the Hungarian countryside over the coming year and shall be eager to share our experiences through our blog. Stay tuned!

  53. Dear Jane and Lance,
    That is wonderful news about the remission, and I hope the results of the spinal tap are equally positive. I never realized how difficult it is to lose a parent until my own died--such a profound experience, no matter your age or theirs, expected or not. I am so glad you have each other--I feel the devotion and adoration and regard you have for each other. You enrich my life and have made the blog world a better place.



  54. Hello Jane and Lance,
    My condolences upon the loss of your parent.
    Your loss and subsequent illnesses are surely a sad
    burden to bear. I hope the new year will bring you renewed
    spirit and vitality.
    Best wishes,

  55. deja pseu:
    It is true that there was something so beguiling about the lives of spies, the Cold War, the Iron Curtain and such like. We recently saw an archive film in Budapest which was used to train undercover agents in spying techniques. It was fascinating and almost prompted us to rush straight out and cut a hole in a handbag and insert a camera!!!

  56. Helen Tilston:
    Yes, you are right! Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton could not have played the parts better!!! We have laughed so much about that night as the couple were so utterly taken in and completely enraged!!!

    It has been so lovely to hear from you whilst we have been AWOL and we cannot tell you how much we value your friendship and support. The Helen Tilston pleine air calendar for 2012 will light up every month of the year!!

  57. Paisley Curtain:
    Such incredibly kind words. Thank you so much.

    It is, of course, marvellous how the thousands of miles separating us completely disappear in the virtual world. And, as you say, the friendships made can be, and often are, every bit as dear as those made in real life.

  58. Magic and drudgery:
    We are sure that the best is yet to this space!!!

  59. Dear Jane and Lance, welcome back! What a very touching post, I love the photograph of the hands. 'What goes around comes around!'So it is not in the least surprising to me that you have made friendships and have had kindnesses done to you, because I have read the wonderful comments you leave on people's blogs, and indeed my own, which offer encouragement and appreciation. Not to mention the wonderful witty replies on your own blog. It is only right and proper that people should return these kindnesses.

    I am so happy that Lance is recovering well and I do hope that you both will be able to rest up before you go off adventuring again. It's great to have you back. All good blessings for 2012, with much love, Linda x

  60. Librarian:
    As if by magic, your blog is also now firmly in place in our reading list. Formerly, you came and went rather like the ethereal spy-like character which you clearly aspire to. Perhaps 2012 will be the year that Blogger behaves itself?!!!

  61. Sonya:
    We do feel that 2012 will be a better year. So many of our friends and family seem to have had a particularly hard time of it last year and so good fortune is surely now due!! We hope that the coming year will be joyous and prosperous for you and your family!!

  62. Jen:
    We feel blessed indeed to have 'met' you, dearest Jen. The past year has been so very difficult for you too and yet you have faced the adversities with incredible spirit and good humour. We wish you the very best in 2012!

  63. BarbaraG:
    Thank you so much for your kind wishes. The new year is yet young but we have been strengthened by this new beginning and are confident that the year ahead will be our best yet!

  64. Flowersonmytable:
    Dearest Linda, if only you could see us in real life, you would realise what a pair of lazy tarts we are!!! No need to rest up before we go on our adventures...all we need is to be able to walk far enough, sit long enough and get on a plane!!!!

    And, when we are mobilised, then Ireland is in our sights. We have been promising ourselves a visit to both the Emerald Isle and the Province for so long that we really must make it a reality some day soon. Beware the unexpected knock on the door...!!!!

  65. One cannot help but be moved by your recent life events, J & L. Any words seem inadequate, though for what they are worth, I wish you complete sympathy for your various trials in the not very distant past, and a much more contented future to come than you have experienced in recent times.

    Hoping not to sound callous by moving away from the subjects of your profoundly moving blog, I notice in the above comments that Dora Carrington has been mentioned. Did you, by any chance, ever catch the 1995 Christopher Hampton film, entitled just 'Carrington', with the fine Emma Thompson as D.C.? But it was the truly remarkable performance of Jonathan Pryce as Lytton Strachey that was so sensationally good. If you haven't seen it then I'd give it a very strong recommendation.

  66. Hi Jane and Lance,

    I'm so sorry to read about the illness and sadness that you have endured over the past months. Your blog posts are always enjoyable, thought provoking and have revealed nothing of your turmoils.

    I hope that the coming months will continue to bring improvements.

    I was thinking about the words which follow

    "blessed be the tie that binds" which are
    "the fellowship of kindred minds"

    That says quite a bit about what blogging is about ...

  67. Raybeard:
    Thank you for your kind words.

    No, we have not seen the film 'Carrington' and shall now seek it out for viewing. Although perhaps surprisingly, Ms Thompson is not a favourite of ours, Jonathan Pryce certainly is and so for him alone we are sure that we should enjoy the film. Thank you for the recommendation.

    Whilst extolling the virtues of Jonathan Pryce, have you ever seen 'Very Annie Mary'? One of our top ten films of all time!!

  68. GaynorB:
    We totally agree with you about the 'fellowship of kindred minds'. It does sum up the essence of blogging.

    What is also so exciting about the whole activity of blogging is that one can find oneself developing an interest in all manner of topics that one would never have thought possible previously. It truly broadens the mind!

  69. Dearest Jane and Lance,
    How wonderful to have you back in the land of blog!
    You have both been in my thoughts and prayers. I was not expecting Lance to be out of hospital so soon, as my sister was kept in for over a week after her spinal surgery. Although I think her friend and carer insisted on this as she is a very demanding patient! ;)
    I hope everything went well with the operation, and you are now feeling much better.

    I did not expect to gain so many wonderful friends when I started my blog. Following 'Hattatt' and getting to know you both has been an absolute pleasure.
    Take care, and please continue to be lazy tarts! (and could you pick me up on your way to see Linda in Ireland?!)
    Much love,
    Abby xx

  70. My Spotty Pony:
    Yes, we have been really pleasantly surprised with the rate of progress so far. However,there are 500 separate exercises to be completed each day so at the moment there is not much 'lazy tarting' going on!!

    What fun it would be to all meet up at Linda's house and, of course, Spotty must come too!!

  71. So sorry to hear of the passing of you last surviving parent. Not sure which parent ot was but seem to remember Jane's father looking after your little garden shop in Weobley.
    Very sorry to hear you have been fighting leukemia. It must have been a very fraught time for you both but delighted you are back on form and have had the much needed surgery that will see you set to enjoying life to the full.
    I know from my own husband's illness that the power of friendship keeps you positive.
    Spies you and Jane, How hilarious.

  72. Oh Jane and Lance, What trials you have faced in 2011. You are, however, through the other side thankfully. Losing a parent, at any age, is a devastating blow, apart from all the other medical problems you have both faced. One of my favourite saying throughout my life, and which I constantly say to myself, "That which does not kill us makes us stronger" Nietzsche. I am sure you must be familiar with this. It has become my mantra.

    You are truly fortunate to come out of all of this, and I am sure stronger for it. Life is just a succession of trials and lessons to be learnt, and it's how we face those lessons and become stronger, both as individuals, and partners that matter. Count your blessings and don't forget to laugh. You are truly loved!

  73. Dear Jane and Lance, please allow me to add to the many heartfelt and sincere condolences that have thus far been left. Though it is of the Natural Order of Things that parents must leave us at some point, I know it does not soften the blow, even when anticipated.
    With respect to the other adversities, the remission is, to my understanding, an extremely hopeful and positive sign.
    The spine is a dreadfully poor design: Wonderful on a quadraped but a poor compromise when aligned upright. I think I would have done it differently. I do hope the surgery was successful and that full function or something approaching it will be regained very soon. Very Best wishes!

  74. Oh and I almost forgot!: I don't know if you have read Stephen Fry's "The Liar", if not, I recommend it, but won't allude to the twist. I can see you taking part in something similar to what goes on so interestingly in the plot. Ther: Now you will have to read it to see what I mean!

  75. Dear Jane and Lance, long may your optimism and courage bring you buoyancy.

    The comradeship you've gained here in Blogtopia has been more than repaid by the spirited intellect and quick humour you've added to the mix, and all of your commentators are wishing you'd been dealt a better hand lately.

    And of course you are spies; I'd certainly expect no less of you!

  76. Jane and Lance, your words here are so touching and I so much share your sentiments about love, trust, and loyalty. You are an inspiration to me and have been instrumental to me in my seeking of therapy. It is funny how a few words can often mean so much to an individual.

    I hope your healing continues into this new year and that all things good come will come to you both. Your words here are beautiful and so well said.

  77. Such a poignant post. Whilst I am dreadfully sorry to hear of you sad news on Christmas Day I welcome your good news. It's funny isn't it how the words and comments of what are I suppose strangers who become friends are so utterly comforting x

  78. Dear Jane and Lance,
    I am happy to hear from you -- you certainly have been missed by all your faithful readers. I am sorry to hear of the tough times lately, may this year bring you much health and happiness! (Love the spy story!)

  79. Dear Jane and Lance, firstly I would like to say how very much uplifted my day is when I find a comment posted from you both! I always marvel at how quickly you respond and also that you so very kindly take the time to do so.
    And now as I read on I find that your lives have been disrupted by your parent's loss and on Christmas Day as well, I'm SO sorry. And then you tell us of your battling with leukaemia and of your spinal surgery only last week, though you still found a space to leave me a lovely message this very morning! Great news indeed to hear that the surgery is a success and the leukaemia in remission. You are two very lovely people and I'm sure I'm not alone in this Blogosphere when I say your friendship and kindness is a jewel to me.
    Sending love to you both, x
    Jane x

  80. Sue:
    Gosh, the garden shop in Weobley is so many, many moons ago. Lance's father stepped in for us when we were not able to be there as he lived in the village.But, it was Jane's father who died on Christmas Day, our last surviving parent.

    We do firmly believe that a positive attitude is a very important ingredient in the recovery from illness and, yes, friendship gives one a special boost in this respect.

  81. Dear Jane & Lance,

    Sorry to hear about the death of your father/mother (in law). I hope it was peaceful and you had time to say goodbye. Furthermore I hope with all my heart that you have lots of good memories to remember them by. That always helps for me.

    I thought something was going on, when you did not post again after the 20th of December. An operation on the spinal chord sounds like quite something. Please take your time to recover. I am happy to hear the leukaemia is under control :-)!

    Lieve groet,


  82. YONKS:
    Yes, we are completely with you about the trials and tribulations of life. It is not, as you say, what comes one's way that is significant, it is how they are dealt with that really determines what kind of person one is.

    We really do feel blessed with our wonderful friends. They are such a source of strength and our lives are richer for them.

  83. Hello Jane, Lance!

    SO glad to see you both back on here! It just hasn't been the same without you two! :)
    My deepest condolences and prayers to you for your loss, it is always hard to see a loved one go...
    I hope the post surgery recuperation is doing great, keeping my fingers crossed for he health of you both!
    I hope the new year ahead will be filled with joy, fun and mischief (the good kind) and that you gain another hordefull of followers and friends! Thank you for this sweet post!


  84. PerlNumquist:
    Having now had the opportunity of looking at the engineering of the spine in very close proximity we can certainly concur with your view that it really could have been designed rather better for walking upright!! However, with the addition of a titanium spring, we hope, almost literally, to have a spring in our step!!

    And yes, we very much enjoyed Stephen Fry's 'The Liar' which we read a couple of years ago. Somehow, strange adventures just seem to present themselves to us and we hope that 2012 will have plenty more to offer!!

  85. Mise:
    There is no fooling you, dearest Mise!! Well, actually, our spy activities just take up a small amount of our time, otherwise astrophysics, landing humans on Mars, splitting the atom and baking bread fill our days!!!Pretty much like you, but you manage to add making yoghurt to the mix, something we have yet to master!!

    It was such a joy the day we 'met' you in Blogtopia. You are its Global Treasure!!

  86. Best wishes for continued and improving good health in 2012 and condolences on your loss.

  87. Rubye Jack:
    We shall treasure what you say here for it means so very, very much.

    The Path of Life has certainly not run terribly smoothly for you over the years and it is to your great credit that you have worked hard to get to the point at which you are currently. Your spirit, enormous insight and tender heart are inspirational to all of us who have the pleasure to know you.

  88. Caroline Lovis (Redneedle):
    How well you put this. Yes, the comfort of strangers, we have found it to be incredibly supportive and reassuring.

  89. LR@Magnificent or Egregious:

    Thank you for your very kind words. We wish you a most joyous and prosperous New Year!

  90. Dear Jane and Lance.
    How lovely to see a new post from you. I had so hoped your absence was simply because you were enjoying yourselves somewhere over the festive season and am so sorry to hear that you have had to deal with both bereavement and surgery in so short a time. My deepest sympathy but also my congratulations on the successful operation and the wonderful word 'remission'. Long may it last and may 2012 be a happy, healthy and above all satisfying year for you both.

  91. Half-heard in the Stillness:
    Just reading this most beautiful comment brought tears to our eyes. You are so very, very kind.

    And, there is absolutely no need to thank us for appearing at your blog. You write beautifully and paint in words the very spirit of your subjects.The pleasure is ours.

    Wishing you, dear Jane, every happiness and good health in the New Year!

  92. Good evening dear Jane and Lance!

    Raising a glass to you both. I look at all of the love and friendship that pours out from your readers and I know how deserving you both are of our affections.

    You both have been in my thoughts and prayers and will continue to be until we pass through this difficult time. Sending my Very Best and know that if need be, I will hop on the train with dear Ben on his leash beside me!


  93. Madelief:
    Thank you so much for your very kind wishes. You are so right that it is the wonderful memories that one now turns to in order to take comfort and to relive the happy days of times past.

    And, we were so concerned to read of your own recent health problems. One never knows what shocks and surprises are round the corner. We do hope that 2012 will bring you much joy, good health and prosperity.

  94. Kasia:
    We are so pleased to be back too. We have missed you all.

    Oh yes, we do so hope that mischief will be the order of the day in 2012, the previous year was far too serious for our liking!!

    Wishing you, dear Katherine, a joyous and prosperous New Year!

  95. Dear Jane & Lance - I was pleased to see that you were back, but so sorry to learn what a difficult time you have both been having.
    Take care of yourselves and especially go easy with your back.
    I am sure Timea is spoiling you both and giving you little Hungarian treats like lőcsei marhagombócleves.

  96. ChrisJ:
    Thank you. Your words are a comfort and we appreciate them very much.

  97. Perpetua:
    We know that you of all people fully understand the word 'remission'and how much that makes one appreciate every day and the love and friendship of others.

    We are determined that the best is yet to come and, we do so hope that this will be true for you too. Wishing you joy and prosperity in 2012!!

  98. Lost in Provence:
    Unfortunately, dearest Heather, with the medication regime, we cannot raise a glass of grape to you at present and toasting you with water just would not seem right. Far better that we save all for glasses of decent red or fizz which surely we shall enjoy together one day.

    Your kind support has been such a joy for us and we wish you every happiness and good health in 2012!

  99. Rosemary:
    Oh, if only we were in Budapest with Timea on hand to look after us with such a marvellous soup. Sadly, we are in Brighton, fending for ourselves [badly]and living on casseroles as that is really all we are capable of producing which is remotely edible.

    But, how wonderful that you know some Hungarian, Rosemary. Or, perhaps, you are fluent? We are intrigued to know more!

  100. I am so sorry........hopefully 2012 will be a happier, healthier yoga teacher's husband was a spy in the sixties they lived in Romania....he was in import/export!!

  101. People aren't kind and supportive without reason. You are obviously well liked, certainly by me.

  102. Lovely to see a post from you, been wondering where you were but can now appreciate that you have had a lot going on in your lives. Glad things are now on the upturn.

    I must say I think the hands photo is beautiful.

  103. 'Lazy Tarts' indeed, such language! Well I can't wait until you come a knockin'.Many thanks for your visit and very kind wishes on my latest post, they are greatly appreciated.With loads of love, Linda x

  104. Young at Heart:
    How exciting about your Yoga teacher's husband. That just goes to show that spies are never whom you expect!

    Just a thought, perhaps all spies could be thought to be in the import/ export secrets!!

  105. Andrew:
    You are so sweet! Your loyalty and friendship mean a lot.

  106. Crafty Cat Corner:
    We are certainly no photographers and were so pleased to come across the hands image which, we felt, spoke louder than words. We are so pleased that you like it.

  107. flowersonmytable:
    Be careful what you wish for, Linda. And, it looks like Abby and Spotty will be joining us too!!

    Believe us when we say that we make 'lazy tarting' into an art form!!

  108. Well, a bad year should be followed by a good one - right. I hope, for your sakes, Jane and Lance, that this will be the case.

    Why is that sad things seem to happen around the Christmas season?

    I'm sorry to hear of your parent's death. No matter what the age, it's never an easy thing to face.

    I'm going to keep my fingers crossed that your health problems will cease to reappear. I'm a bit over three years being cancer-free myself. :)

    So how about a glass of champagne to toast the New Year. A New Year full of bliss.

  109. Oh my this was going on behind all your extraordinary appreciation of life and all of its intricacies? I had no idea. And losing somebody so close on Christmas Day, of all the dates in the year, is so especially sad. A stark reminder of how it is the ones we love which make life what it is. For all the tea in China, I wouldn't trade friendship for one nano second.

    So now, at last, there is great progress and even if the road is a long and windy one back to being able to do pretty much whatever you want, in great health, I hope the journey will be a marvelous one, all the time surrounded by the many friends which you have obviously both curated and collected and nurtured over the years. Including your loyal band of "virtual" friendships from Blogland - such a supportive place. Much love, Virginia x

  110. Yvette:
    We do always try to look on the positive side of things and are certain that 2012 has got to be an improvement on the year which has gone before.

    And, you too, a cancer survivor, must know only too well the stresses and strains that such an invidious illness brings. But, it also means that one savours the here and now with a passion!

    Any mention of champagne and we are there!! When the medication is over, we shall return to our special festive drink, Buck's Fizz, for breakfast! Cheers, dearest Yvette!!

  111. Glamour Drops:
    Thank you, dearest Virginia, for these most kind and tender words. We appreciate them so much.

    We are very aware, in spite of everything, just how lucky we are in so many ways and how there are so many troubled people in the world facing enormous challenges every day and yet they wear their burdens lightly. We have much in our lives to be grateful for and our experiences of the past year have taught us to seize the day with a passion.

    We do so hope that the New Year will bring you much joy, good health and happiness!

  112. I wondered where you had been, but with my modem down for two weeks maybe I missed something. I hope that 2012 will be a good year for you and the leukaemia stays in remission. My MIL had a very odd kind of Leukaemia and she went on to a ripe old age once she was in remission.
    Loosing a parent is like loosing a life long best friend, so very difficult. My thoughts are with you. We still have Nigel's dad living alone in the UK at 91. This made the final move for us to France so much more difficult as N's only sister lives in Ozz.
    Keep well, and may this year be a good one for you. Diane

  113. Food, Fun and Life in the Charente:
    We have been terribly fortunate to have had the Haematology team at the Royal Sussex Hospital in Brighton overseeing the Leukaemia. They are all simply brilliant and we do have every confidence in their abilities to control this very unpredictable disease.

    We can well appreciate the difficulty of leaving behind an elderly parent but sometimes parents and their children must go their separate ways. It is, we feel, a measure of good parenting if each has the confidence to do this.

    We wish you a very happy and successful year as you embark upon your full time life in France, blessed too we trust with good health!

  114. I expect nothing less from the two of you than to play along with the silly couple's notion of you being spies.
    What fun, I am sure you played them beautifully.

    It's an amusing coincidence that we also slightly knew young Mister Philby; we lived opposite each other in North London. It wasn't a big deal at the time.

    Blogging is an amazing medium; even an old cynic like me, who doesn't believe (much) in friendship and exchanging confidences has to admit that bloggers can be enormously supportive and quite an emotional help at times. Perhaps the physical distance has something to do with it?

    I hope the new year will see your troubles lessened. Health is unpredictable, anyone can be struck down with some dreadful disease at any time; we might feel like asking 'why me' but the answer must always be 'why not me'. I have years of experience in the matter. It always seems to have been and still be me. I wouldn't mind if someone else had a go now.

    Good health to you and me both.

  115. My dear Lance and Jane, I was missing you both over the holidays, and, of course, assumed it was due to holiday preparations, etc. I am just learning of the passing of the last parent, the remission and the spinal surgery. I will be keeping you both in my prayers and wishing you many blessings in the coming year. xo I

  116. Friko:
    How extraordinary that Master Philby was a neighbour of yours. Did you watch the comings and goings through net curtains?!!!

    We can truthfully say that we have never said 'Why me?' even in our darkest hours. To have done so would have been somewhat perverse since at no time in all our many times of good fortune did we say 'Why me?' then.

    But, surely, we all deserve some time off for good behaviour? Wishing you joy, good health and prosperity for 2012!!

  117. Jane and Lance...all this going on and yet you still have time to reach out to others, write thoughtful comments and delightful blog posts. I'm thrilled to hear of the remission but so sorry to hear of your loss and hope 2012 is a year of wonders for both of you xx

  118. Barbara F:
    We have missed everyone too and are so enjoying catching up with what all our blog friends has been up to.

    Thank you so much, Barbara, for your kind wishes, we are touched by them.

  119. Kerry:
    It has proved quite challenging fitting everything in, but, with two of us, we can divide and rule!!

    Wishing you the very best of everything in 2012!

  120. I am sorry to hear of the loss of the last surviving parent. My deepest sympathies.

    And I hope whichever of you had surgery last week is quickly recovering. Wonderful news about the remission. Will keep you in my thoughts for continued good health.

    It's amusing that you were dubbed spies. That's quite a story to have.

  121. Love you both. I've read all the comments following this post - I know your own wonderful words really do inspire some wonderful responses and genuinely strong emotions but I feel at a loss for words today. I am a bit of a touchy-feely sort (I'd be an awful spy) and when I hear what you've been through, I just want to give you a big hug. ((Virtual hugs)). Axxx

  122. M Pax:
    Thank you so much for these kind and supportive words. We shall treasure them.

    We do rather like the idea of being spies but are not sure how good a job we should make of it. Cracking codes might have been a strength as we both love cryptic crosswords, but as for keeping silent, well neither of us would have been any good at all at that!!

  123. Annie:
    Your virtual hugs speak louder than words. Thank you so much!

  124. Dear Jane & Lance, I am so sorry to hear that you have had a challenging time and I hope 2012 is a more positive year for you both. It is quite an extraordinary thing, when in the midst of difficulty, wonderful things such as friendship and love appear from places you least expect. I have been very fortunate to have found your blog and look forward to you continuing to educate me with your fascinating posts. Fifi x

  125. Dear Jane and Lance,

    Your posting was so touching, as were the comments of your circle of blog friends. I join them in my expression of sympathy and wish you a year full of blessings and good health, Marjorie

  126. Oh Jane and Lance,
    There is obviously something that comes through in your writing that endears us all to you both. It's funny how we attach ourselves to certain members of the blogging world and, I have definitely attached myself to you two.
    I am so sorry to hear of your troubles over these last few months ( I can understand how you feel over the passing of your last surviving parent as we now no longer have any parents left and I think of them all everyday) and I wish you both a much better 2012 filled with good health and happiness. Much love to you both. XXXX

  127. My condolences on your loss.
    My best wishes for a healthy and uncomplicated recovery...
    My hope that this year is a better one for all of us...

  128. You gotta' love this blogospherical world of ours ... it connects us to so many thoroughly nice folk.

    So sorry to read of your loss and of your surgery, may 2012 be a year of healing and hope for you both x

  129. Jane and Lance,

    I am so sorry to hear about the hardships you have endured!

    It has been lovely to be your blogger buddy - I know that if we were to ever met in person we would get along like fireworks!

    I will keep you both in my thoughts and prayers.

    big hug,

  130. Dear Jane and Lance,
    I'm glad you've made it through and hope now you're free of trouble.
    Know that your feelings of gratitude for the value of friends and friendship are reciprocated. These things in themselves can be powerfully healing.
    Best of 2012 to you.

  131. Such difficult times for you. I extend my sincerest condolences on the loss of your parent. It is good to hear that the surgery went well; I can only imagine how fraught it must have been not to be able to go forward because of the leukemia, itself a heavy burden to bear. Your joyfulness, expressed here, at all the good things in your lives, is all the more to be treasured. I wish you, with extra meaning in the face of all of that, a happy and healthy New Year.

  132. It's hard to keep a good heart down. My thoughts are with you, as this exciting new year unfolds.

  133. Dear Jane and Lance,

    What an interesting, beautiful and most moving post with it’s tidbit of historical referencing to your being mistaken as covert operatives. But I have to admit that the romantic in me finds the thought of you to being partners in life and partners in espionage most appealing and not at all out of the realm of belief. Scenarios set against international travel with props of fast cars, high fashion, and sumptuous accommodations. How the boundary between fact and fiction become…

    How distressing to hear of your latest trials. Please except my condolence for your loss and my well wishing for a timely and complete recovery from surgery.

    In closing, after this post I will take a cue from the Austin Powers movies and fondly think of the pair of you as, “Jane and Lance, International Couple Of Mystery”. – gary

  134. What a thought provoking post. I am so sorry to hear of your parent passing away. I have yet to experience that. I also can't comprehend your mistaken identity as a spy. You have such a wonderful way with words and I am truly fascinated by your knowledge and experience. I sincerely hope that you will stay free from the leukemia & healthy this year. Thank you for sharing.

  135. As for the surgery, I had back surgery in June last year. Take care of yourself & don't overdo. May it be a total success.

  136. Dear Jane and Lance - I was thrilled when I noticed that there is another post from you! Reading the interesting story made me smile and at the end I read your sad news. I am very sorry for your loss and that you are going through difficult times yourselves. I am so glad that your surgery went well and I really, really wish you good recovery and light days to come. I am sending you good and warm thoughts! Christa

  137. I can see you both as secret agents, it sounds so exciting. So sorry to hear about your loss at Christmas time, my own Mother died just after Christmas and it echoes down the years at what should be such a happy time. You sound as if you have plenty on your plate health wise yourselves, you would never guess from your wonderfully upbeat posts.

    I hope that this year starts a turning point, and that things look up from now on, take care of each other.

  138. Fifi B:
    You are so right. It is those totally unexpected and absolutely genuine expressions of love and friendship which really do touch one's heart at moments of despair. We feel blessed that we have been overwhelmed with such acts of great kindness.

    Wishing you joy and prosperity for the New Year as you continue your new beginnings 'down under'!!

  139. Chemin des Muguets:
    Everyone is so kind, dear Marjorie, and thank you too for such a very heart warming comment.

    Wishing you the best of everything in 2012.

  140. Jacqueline@HOME:
    We have a mantra that we repeat quite often which is that the dead are never really dead if you continue to talk about them. In this way, we keep them alive in our hearts as well as our lives.

    We are sure that our paths will cross in the real world one day and we just know that it will be such fun.Your stylish eye and quick wit, so evident in your fantastic blog, would be a joy to experience at first hand. May 2012 bring you the best of everything!!

  141. Princess:
    Thank you for your kind comment. You have experienced so many personal difficulties and yet always manage to 'look on the bright side'. We are sure that you will enjoy a wizardly New Year with the new production!!

  142. Annie:
    Absolutely! The Blogosphere is positively overflowing with generous spirits and warmth.

    Wishing you a joyous, healthy and prosperous New Year!

  143. Dear Hattatts - I'm sorry about your losing your last parent, the illness and the surgery which must have been frightening. Best wishes to you both for the remission. I'm sure your appreciation of the value of friendship has been of help to you. I think an 'attitude of gratitude' (awful phrase!) is the healthiest place for our sometimes-wayward minds to be. Here's to a great 2012! xxx

  144. Elizabeth Gilmore:
    We shall now fondly think of you as a blogger buddy! Perfect.

    Well, we are determined that 2012 will see us on the road more often than not, so who knows, we may meet and let off those rockets yet!!

  145. Gardener in the Distance:
    Dearest Faisal, we totally agree about the power of healing through the love of friends. Indeed, we are quite sure that this has enabled us to progress as we have.

    It was a wonderful day that we 'met' in the Blogosphere, your creativity and love of the Natural World inspire us.

  146. Susan Scheid:
    All these life experiences do, we firmly believe, make one stronger and highly appreciative of the many good fortunes which we have and enjoy.

    We cannot speak highly enough of the medical care which we have received and are in awe of the many amazing advances which have been made in treatments for such illnesses as Leukaemia in recent years.

  147. Wally B:
    Yes, 2012 has exciting written all over it....and for you too we hope!!

  148. Gary:
    Oh, dearest Gary, how alluring you make the life of a spy sound. Perhaps a change of career is called for after all? It is never too late is it? And if we should need a secret hideaway to'let the heat go down' from time to time, would Fox Paw Lodge be available?!!!!

    We sometimes think that we sound as if we are in an Austin Powers film, and have to say that we love the idea of being 'Jane and Lance, International Couple of Mystery'. What fun...we shall have business cards printed this very day!!!

    You are always so very, very kind, dearest Gary and we do so hope that 2012 will be a year of great joy and prosperity for you and J.

  149. Blessings from Cindy:
    We do hope that your own progress has been good from the back operation. We shall take your advice to heart.

    It seems to be a balancing act of moving around and exercising sufficiently in order to stop seizing up but not doing too much in order that the healing process can be effective. And, we are having to learn the art of patience as it all takes such a very long time to get back to full mobility.

    Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year!

  150. Emilie's Daughter:
    Thank you so much, dear Christa, for your heart warming words. You have been so kind to keep in touch in our absence and just dropping in with a quick hello has made a real difference.

    Wishing you a joyous and prosperous New Year!

  151. Susan T:
    Clearly we convinced the dentist and headmaster couple that we were secret agents. Indeed, it is a wonder that we were not arrested there and then over our pudding in the restaurant!!

    We are confident that the best is yet to come and 2012 is a good place to start. We hope that the New Year brings you too much joy and good health!!

  152. Mrs Exeter:
    An 'attitude of gratitude' what a perfect phrase. Yes, it is something with which we should heartily concur is an excellent frame of mind to have. At times it is too easy to think of only negatives but there are always so many things for which to give thanks in our everyday lives if one only takes the time to look around.

    Wishing you the best of everything in 2012!!

  153. I do hope that 2012 is YOUR year, and you can put 2011 behind you and both enjoy good health.


  154. I am slowly catching up with my blog friend's posts and was both sadened by your loss and equally boyed by the good news of your sucessful surgery / remission milestone. All three events are so clearly close to me and my experiences of late. Love, friendship and the spirit of positiveness can carry enormous weight and I feel you are surrounded by lots of this. Here's to a bright 2012 year and the continued opportunity to create and then share wonderful tales of your adventures!
    Love, Kerrie-Lee

  155. SP:
    Yes, we are truly grateful to have the new beginning of 2012. may the year ahead prove a good one for you too.

  156. eternalicons:
    We recognise, Kerrie-Lee, that you too have had difficult times of late and we do so hope that 2012 will bring new beginnings and fresh hope for you too.

    Thank you so much for your most kind words, they are very much appreciated.

  157. Oh, My Dears!!

    All that during the holidays--even spread over years, it is too much.

    I just send you my very best thoughts and prayers for healing and continued good health, of thanks for your support and sustaining of each other, and for your memories of your loved one to stay fresh and vibrant and beautiful.

    Thank you for the photograph--there's nothing more beautiful than hands---from brand fresh new ones, full of promise and hope, to work-worn patient ones, to the oldest, with the patina of age and a well-lived life.

    Stay well and warm, my Faraway Friends,


  158. Racheld:
    We are so pleased that you like the photograph of the hands. Our own snaps are generally rather hopeless so we searched for hours to find something which we thought to be suitable and which conveyed our feelings about the wonderfully varied hands of friendship which have been reached out to us.

    Your words are so beautifully comforting and we thank you for them very much indeed. Although the miles may separate us, we feel close in spirit. Wishing you all the best of everything in 2012!

  159. Sounds like you've both gone through thick and thin and come out shining:) So long as Love wins out at the end of the day it's a good day. But yes, definitely choose friends over country:)

  160. wow Jane I was really touched by your mention about Hungary's political situation, I know about Orban and his strange way of understanding politics and leadership. Your people is much stronger and apparently a lot less lethargic than my people (Romanians). I wanted to let you know I admire your people very much. Kisses.

  161. I am sorry to hear of your loss. It seems that so many lost loved ones in the past few weeks. I know that you are kind enough to follow my blog and so you may know that I lost a friend to. Your words about friendship ring so true to me. Times like this really make you assess what is important in life don't you?

  162. Mark Noce:
    What a wonderful thought, Love winning through making a good day. Yes, we should certainly agree with that. And, what has been so very special for us is the unconditional love which we have received from people we have never met. That has touched us deeply.

  163. Unikorna:
    The political situation in Hungary is very worrying at present with all manner of laws being passed every hour, or so it seems to us. Ordinary people are finding life very hard and the gap between rich and poor is widening alarmingly.

    Most concerning is the gag on Media in all forms that even show a hint of opposition to the Government. This does, in our view, strike at the heart of Democracy.

  164. Karen:
    You are absolutely right. Such events really do make one take a stock check of life and see that there are just a few things that are needed. The rest are insignificant. Friends and family and the joy of simple pleasures are certainly at the top of our list.

    We are so sorry to read of the death of your friend. May 2012 be a better year for us all.

  165. except from wishing you health. friendship. love. what more can i say my dearest dearest Hattatts.
    i share some tears right now,
    because i consider you my firends. in the very special blogway
    ... and because whan i ask myself who would you betray; i don`t know what to answer...

  166. Dear Jane and Lance,

    I am so glad to see your post. Each week that went by without seeing Hattatt, I worried about you. There are so many of us out here in the Blogosphere who have become so fond of you and consider you both very dear.

    My condolences to you on the loss of your loved one. These have been difficult times for you, but yet, most weeks you manage to send out an interesting, witty, post that so many of us enjoy. As I have said before, you take us to places that most will never see, but yet we can enjoy visiting through your writings.

    You two are a blessing to us all. I do hope that 2012 will bring you better days.

  167. I'm deeply touched by this post, for your strong sense of friendship, your loss of a parent and the mischievous glimmer that speaks of an indomitable character and love for life. My prayers and thoughts are with you.

  168. I had been rather concerned for you, realising that your absence from blogging might mean problems. I'm so glad that the surgery went well, and that the leukemia is in remission. About the death of a parent, there is nothing to say that will help. I follow a japanese blog in which the writer said that there is a period of mourning, strictly defined, after which both the living and the dead start their new existence. I thought that very comforting, somehow.

    Super picture of the hands! And I hope 2012 is a very good year for you!

  169. Hello Jane and lance,
    My goodness...I'm not sure how I missed all of this, but I am so sorry to hear that the last few years have been especially difficult...I check in to see if you have another interesting post quite often, but I guess yesterday I missed checking in. Please know I join in with all of your wonderful readers in wishing you both a much brighter 2012! The world seems much smaller through blogs, doesn't it?
    all my best,
    annie d.

  170. Dear Jean and Lance,
    I shall be an echo amongst many echoes. And for once, I shall leave a rather short comment. Here's wishing you much peace and positivity after the trials and tribulations you have recently experienced.
    In kindness, Gary

  171. Good luck and God speed to the both of you. You have my sympathy for your loss, and my heartfelt encouragement for the challenges that face you. Reggie

  172. I didn't know you'd been ill!!!! Or in need of back surgery...but it's done now and you are on the mend, right? Only fun times ahead! And what about that mad boy? He didn't show up with marionettes, did he? Oh, you know if I were near I'd be over first thing tomorrow to bring little flower arrangements, balloons and some edible treats!
    Stay cozy and tell lots of stories...I'll be back to check on you!

  173. demie:
    You are indeed such a dear friend to us and we are touched by your very kind words here.

    We are only too aware of what significant health issues you have to deal with and the way in which you wear them lightly. You are an inspiration to us and your friendship is a special gift.

  174. Starting Over, Accepting Changes:
    We have missed dreadfully the dialogue which we so enjoy with our readers. You are all such a lively, witty, thoughtful and creative group. Life is definitely duller without you.

    We are firmly of the view that 2012 will be our best year yet and we fully intend to make up for time lost. We wish you too, dear Arleen, a joyous and prosperous New Year!

  175. smilla4blogs:
    The mischievous spirit does get us into hot water from time to time, but we think that this all adds to the spice of life. It is good, in our view, to not take oneself too seriously!!

  176. Jenny Woolf:
    It is certainly very strange to suddenly find oneself an 'orphan'. The responsibility somehow seems so very great even though in real terms one has had the full responsibility for oneself for many years.

    Things are certainly looking very good for us as we move into 2012 and we are determined that this will be a year to remember in all the best ways. We wish you too a joyous, healthy and prosperous New Year!!

  177. Annie:
    You are absolutely right. The world does indeed seem much smaller and, we have to say, friendlier place through knowing so many wonderful blogs and their writers. It is a real community and we love being part of it!!

    Wishing you a happy and healthy 2012!!

  178. klahanie:
    We never fail to be touched by your kindness, dear Gary, knowing how difficult life is for you for a lot of the time.

    Wishing you and Penny everything which is best in 2012!!

  179. Reggie Darling:
    Thank you for your most kind comment. And, wishing you a joyous, healthy and prosperous New Year!!

  180. Auntie Bliss:
    Sadly, the Mad Boy has yet to materialise. But, who knows, 2012 may be the year that finally he is found!!

    We really do wish you lived closer as the tasty treats would be more than welcome and a good gossip too of course!! We are absolutely no cooks and fending for ourselves is not something we are good at. However, we simply had to turn down the offer of friends to come on a 'cooking holiday' in Brighton with only sleet, rain and high winds to welcome them!! Sometimes, we feel, friendship can be stretched too far!!

  181. Hello dear Jane and Lance - what a time you have had. I hope that it's onward and upward in 2012. Here's to happy days ahead.

    New years hugs to you both and thankyou for such a lovely post, Stephie x

  182. Stephie B:
    Yes, happy days ahead for us all we hope!!

    Wishing you all the very best of everything in 2012!!

  183. Glad to hear that the health issue is stable, and I hope it may continue to be so.

    I also hope the troubles in the Hungarian economy do not affect you too much.

  184. Columnist:
    Thank you so much for your kind wishes.

    The Hungarian economy is in turmoil at the moment but the pound has never been stronger against the forint as a result!! Recently, we debated about whether if everything turned very nasty in Hungary we could simply walk away from it all, leaving with nothing. We decided that we could and we feel much stronger for that!!

  185. I wondered why you had been so out of touch lately. So glad you were finally well enough for the surgery (didn't know about that) and hope the recovery is going perfectly. I'm very disappointed to know you're not really spies (it's the only reason I follow you... hoping to find some state secrets coded into your blog), although of course you wouldn't admit if you were anyway. So, maybe you really are and this is all a ruse. I'll have to take apart this post and see what I can find.

  186. The last picture is sooo amazing! Hughs Anja

  187. My dear Jane and Lance, Your story about spies made me laugh out loud! It reminded me of a plot from one of Graham Greene's stories, The Invisible Japanese Gentlemen.

    And my heart goes out to you both after learning the news of the loss of your last parent. It must have been a very diifficult time for you. My deepest condolences and I'm thinking of you both.

    A fantastic news about your successful spinal surgery. It must be such a huge burden off from your shoulder. I think a celebration toast should be in order for you both!!

    Last year was a challenging year for all of us and let's hope that the year 2012 is a lot easier. I'm also looking forward to a good year ahead!!

  188. Sending you my sincere wishes that you continue to heal physically and emotionally from what was clearly a difficult year. May 2012 be a year of all good things and plenty of laughter!

  189. Mitch Block:
    Please do not give all our secrets away, dearest Mitch, after all you never know who is reading!! And, the only reason we follow you is in the hope of being invited to see Seville, somewhere we should dearly love to go!!!

    Thank you for your kind wishes, we realise that you too have your share of health burdens. Let us hope that 2012 has fun and laughter in store for us all!!

  190. Sofies Haus:
    We are so pleased that you like the image of the hands. It really appealed to us too!

  191. A Super Dilettante:
    We much admire the work of Graham Greene but have not read this particular short story. Now we must!

    We must admit to being rather pleased with ourselves that we were so convincing to the dentist and the headmaster that we were secret agents. Perhaps we look the part as we are always dressed in black?

    Thank you so much for your very kind wishes and your cheery emails, dearest ASD. We wish you the best of everything in 2012 and just feel that it will be especially good for you. As you have said and we have repeated often, the best is yet to come....!!!

  192. Acanthus and Acorn:
    We are grateful that in all of this we have not lost our sense of the absurd and the ability to laugh. They have been essential in keeping us sane!!

    Wishing you a joyous, healthy and prosperous year ahead!

  193. I am glad you feel the friendships across the virtual world. The presence of friends during such a difficult time can make a huge difference. Huge condolences on the loss of your parent. Knowing how close you two are, I am sure no other support is needed. I have a soul mate and know the strength I pull from my relationship is my cushion from despair. May your health flourish and your world right itself soon. If I knew a secret agent was amongst would be exciting! best, Susan

  194. Oh my goodness I had no idea the trials and tribulations you have gone through this many months. I am reminded that my own pale in comparison, thanks so much for showing me the way of humor in the face of adversity as it gives me courage and hope for the future.
    I hope and wish the new year brings a soft flowing aspect to your life that time will ease your aches and pains and bring peacefulness to you both.

  195. Gosh, I was surprised to hear that it was someone in the UK who thought you were spies, not someone in Hungary. Shows how little I know. Wonder how the son felt about his father's choices. I have a friend here in the UK, originally from Russia, whose husband has just self-published a very black-humoured book about life under Soviet communism. So sorry to read about health problems and about the loss of your parent. Here's hoping 2012 is happier.

  196. How happy I am that you are back! My Hooray Balloon Girl can continue to cheer and celebrate...and she's giving a double "hooray!" for the successful surgery! Hooray Hooray!!!
    You certainly have had some challenges...and my hope going forward for you is for a smooth, contented 2012.

  197. My friends, I have been missing you. happy new Year. Richard from My Old Historic House.

  198. Mermaid Gallery:
    How beautifully you put the support you receive from your own soul mate...your cushion from despair. Yes, we feel very fortunate indeed to have each other, life's difficulties are so much easier to bear when shared.

    Alas we have never knowingly known a secret agent but we should find it exciting too. Perhaps we have read too many Le Carre novels?!!

  199. Linda Starr:
    Even in our darkest hours, we were only too well aware of others far less fortunate than ourselves. It is a very humbling experience and does, as you say, give one courage to face one's own challenges.

    We already feel optimistic that 2012 will be a great improvement on the year just passed and we do so hope that it will be the same for you!

  200. Shelley:
    We blame it on the popularity of spy novels that people in the UK still seem to be preoccupied with notions of secret agents and such things. We are totally at a loss as to what priceless secrets there are to tell!!

    Sadly, we were far too young at the time to think of asking all the questions of Master Philby that we should certainly wish to ask now. Isn't that always the way?!!


Your comments are warmly welcomed and appreciated. We shall reply to each one individually since we value establishing a dialogue. However, we do not publish anonymous comments.

PLEASE NOTE: On occasion when comments are in excess of 200, then it is necessary to click on 'Load More' to view all comments that have been left.