Hello everyone!

Hello friends, I'm back!  I had a few projects in my sights during my blog break. A few of them were a bit airy-fairy and I can't really describe them. They involved mental health, sleep and self-perception and I'm pleased to tell you that I think I sorted out enough so that I have a clear path forward. I also had a number of more practical day-to-day activities I needed to work on - gardening, sewing, reading and genealogy. I have very clear plans for all those areas now but I think I really surpassed my own expectations in the garden.


Here is our garden in full production circa 2006.
And this is some of what we have now.


In a nutshell, I converted our vegetable garden, which has been highly productive for the past 20 years, to a peaceful and beautiful cottage garden. I've tried to get as much done as I can because when the humidity hits in November, I will not be outside working in the garden.  But it's coming together and I think I'll have everything close to finished in a few weeks.  The garden is a mix of standard and mini roses, salvias, buddleias, daisies, herbs and a few vegetables - cucumber, chillies, capsicum, tomatoes and lettuce.


On a more personal note, Hanno and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary on 28 September.  We married in Hamburg, West Germany in 1979. I think it's quite an accomplishment to be married so long. When we tied the knot, we didn't have a plan, I guess we relied on love, respect, kindness, consideration and hope to keep us together, and it looks like that worked. Marriage isn't easy, it's a constant juggling of expectations, hopes, practicalities and differing goals.  There were some days when I expect both of us wanted to walk away, but after our children were born there were significant responsibilities regarding their upbringing that made us put aside petty differences and work towards a future that included all of us.  As I said, it was difficult sometimes but I'm oh so glad we made it work.

 Plants ready to be planted.

Lemon thyme and parsley - last season's parsley is in full flower at the moment so I'll leave them to seed the garden and I won't have to plant parsley next year.

I have a health update too. I had another MRI to check my meningioma a couple of weeks ago and I'm happy to tell you that it hasn't grown at all. I need to go back for another check in two years time.  But Hanno's got shingles at the moment so we're still working out what that means for him but he's taking it easy, taking medication and although it's been painful at times, we're hoping we picked it up early and it won't be as serious as it might have been.

We had a pretty bad year with potatoes and garlic due to the drought.  Both harvests were less than expected but still very tasty and will help us through the coming weeks.

 One of the many salvias growing well in the warm spring sun.
The elder tree blooms all through the year and is currently full of flowers and berries. The birds enjoy them as much as we do. 

I can't say how often I'll post here. It will be on a semi-regular basis but I'll also be on Instagram because I can easily post a photo or a few lines and it doesn't take much time to do that.  Thanks for all the good wishes sent our way and for all the emails we received.  I've said this before but I'll say it again, I've got the dearest and most loyal readers. Thank you all. I appreciate your interest in me and my family and really enjoy your visits and comments.

70 comments

  1. So glad you accomplished most of what you wanted to and good health news. This year was the first year we didn’t get going properly on our raised vegetable beds. Think I have got to the stage of slowing down.

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  2. Welcome back Rhonda, you have some mixed news for us this time, it is good you had a positive result with your MRI but poor Hanno, shingles can be extremely painful. Hope all is well in your household soon and you are able to sit back and enjoy the balmy days blessings to both of you. Judi

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  3. Hello Dearest Rhonda,
    I’ve been wondering how you are, so glad to hear that the minigioma hasn’t grown, hopefully it will stay that way. I love how your garden is looking and it is more practical with still so much abundance. I’m winding our garden back too for the summer ahead, we simply don’t have enough water to sustain it. Thank you for the update, it’s always lovely to read your blog❤️Fi

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  4. Welcome back, Rhonda. I am pleased you had good news from the doctor and that Hanno recovers quickly. I had the free shingles vaccine for 70+ year olds last year as a work colleague had shingles a few years ago and it wasn't pleasant. I don't have many veggies growing here either as it is just too dry with two days in the mid thirties coming up this week too. Big hugs to Miss Gracie.

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    1. Hi Chel, I had the vaccine last year too but Hanno missed it. Hopefully we caught this early.

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  5. Welcome back. I've missed you!

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  6. Yea! You're back. Your garden is underway, you are healthy, Hanno is mostly well.

    Enjoy your springtime!

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  7. Congratulations on your anniversary! I hope Hanno continues to feel better--shingles is such a painful condition. You continue to inspire me every day, even when you're not blogging. I'm going to have to figure out this Instagram thing, aren't I?

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    1. Yes Barb, figure it out. It's just another app, don't let it beat you. It's just a matter of going to instagram.com, sign up for an account and go in. Look around, work it out and have some fun. There are some incredible people and photos on there. BTW, I'll still be here on the blog. There is no better way to connect with people and tell your story than with a blog.

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  8. Congratulations on your 40th wedding anniversary! We will be celebrating our 20th next year, and like you I feel so glad we made it work even though there were some very rough patches. Marriage is so worth going through those difficult times, but I didn't really see that until recently. It's hard to see the bigger picture as a young woman going through hard days. :)

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    1. Hi Laura, no one really knows at the beginning of a marriage how tough it will be. It's definitely worth it to work it out and then move ahead as a committed couple rather than two singles who share a house. xx

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  9. Wahou ! We too have celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. We had 3 children and tomorrow we will have our 5th grandson ... What happiness !!
    Let us hope that you and I will celebrate many more years of marriage...
    Lot of kisses from France.

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    1. Congratulations on your anniversary and the thrill of another grandson! Yes, let's hope we have many more years of marriage. xx

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  10. Glad to hear the great news about your health. Sending Hanno well wishes.

    The garden reno looks wonderful! Glad you took the time you needed.
    Peace to you both...

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  11. Oh Rhonda, you've made my day. I love hearing from you. Glad you are both well. Love to Gracie.

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  12. So glad to hear you got a good report from the MRI test and that Hanno got checked and treated early for shingles. I hope he gets over it more quickly. Your garden is looking absolutely beautiful. Happy belated anniversary to you and Hanno Forty years is definitely something marvellous to celebrate and you two make a terrific team.

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  13. Congratulations on your anniversary. A wonderful accomplishment. Glad to see you back.

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  14. Have you tried a heat bag on Hanno's shingles? It worked so well for my mother in law when she had them. It was still painful, but helped with comfort at times.

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  15. Good morning lovely to hear from you.The garden is great I'm a cottage garden tragic and have found over the years that they are easily maintained once set up. You can pop hit and tidy up as much or as little as you feel up to, and a bit of mulch and it always looks good.So relieved to hear your good news, I've had shingles so Hanno you have my sympathies it really is a time thing being kind to yourself but I know you have a wonderful nurse!

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  16. Congratulations, Rhonda and Hanno on 40 years. That a great milestone! I'm so glad you are back with the blog and feeling refreshed. I'm looking forward to hearing more from your part of the world. My husband and I celebrated of 51st anniversary yesterday (Oct 5). Yes, many rough times but worth it.

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    1. How wonderful! Congratulations to you and your husband on your wonderful milestone. That is such a great reason to celebrate. Wishing you many more years together. xx

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  17. Thank you so much for the update Rhonda! The garden is changing in line with where you are in life and still gives so much pleasure. Great news for you health wise and I hope Hanno recovers quickly. I can't tell you how much inspiration I receive from you both.

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  18. Hooray! Lovely to see you back! Very interesting to see the changes you're making in the garden so that it's more manageable. I'm trying to convince my mum to do the same. Yours does look very peaceful and a lot less work.
    Meryl

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  19. That is good news Rhonda about the MRI. Sorry to hear that Hanno has shingles, hope he recovers quickly.
    Your cottage garden will be so calming and pretty. I like your daisy photo, they are a happy flower!

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  20. Good to read up on your bit and pieces. Great news results from your MRI and not so great for Hanno . Shingles frighten me a tad. Hopenit is all uphill now. Enjoy your day.

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  21. So glad to see you back Rhonda ☺ Congratulations on your 40th Anniversary...so great. Your garden continues to evolve wonderfully. Good medical report for you and hope Hanno gets well very soon. Yes the humidity will start soon in Qld ...if not already...then it's enjoying your garden from a cool spot on the verandah!

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    1. The front verandah is all set up for summer, Karen. It's looking green and lush. Sunny and Jamie came over yesterday and we all enjoyed morning tea with whole blood orange cake and ginger biscuits out there.

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  22. Glad you enjoyed your time away from the blog...and your health is stable too.

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  23. Your garden looks wonderful Rhonda, it is a lovely time of year for outside jobs. Glad to hear you have a good health report and that Hanno is getting treatment for his shingles, such a terribly painful thing they are and can be difficult to deal with. Reaching your 40th Anniversary would have bought you much joy and recalled many memories from your years together. Congratulations to you both, it shows a certain dedication and ability to compromise, deep care and respect for one another to achieve such a wonderful milestone and still be at peace with each other. Hope Gracie is well and keeping the yard patrolled. Take care Kate (Tassie) xx

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  24. It’s so good to see a post from you again, Rhonda.

    Congratulations on your 40th wedding anniversary 💐

    I hope Hanno feels better soon.

    XX

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  25. It's so good to have you back!

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  26. Great news about your MRI, I hope it stays the same for you. Sad to hear Hanno has the shingles but I hope he recovers quickly. My husband had shingles last year he found it very painful. Congratulations on your 40th Wedding Anniversary!
    We celebrated our 46th Wedding Anniversary this year in February I hope we both have many more years to celebrate.
    Your garden looks lovely, we have cut back on what we grow too especially with the drought although we are not badly affected in our area we are being careful.
    Have a lovely day with your Gracie.

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    1. Congratulations on your 46th, Theresa. Such a great milestone.

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  27. Hi there Rhonda, your and Hanno's garden looks lovely no matter what's growing or not!
    Congrats on anniversary, always a special time.
    Hamburg 1979 I remember for a different reason...... Queen concert!
    I think it was in Hamburg, I know that city was on our itinerary.
    I wasn't there but was invited to travel OS with friends. But I was preparing to join the Australian military, little realising it would consume the next 25yrs of my life!
    Without knowing whether you two were thoroughly modern youngsters and into rock music, I can only say it was a great time to be alive in most parts of the world and for getting married no matter what your tastes in music.
    I have grown a crop of tomatoes from those I seed saved and fermented. The fermenting worked a treat. Strong healthy vines with loads of big fruit and no lingering disease. Sadly have to cut off the water to them now but they made lovely tasty Mexican tomato sauce.

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    1. HI Clissa. That Queen concert was on a couple of weeks before we arrived. Hanno loves Queen, I'm not so much of a fan. I preferred alternative music: Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Dead Kennedys etc.
      We have full tanks at the moment, and we have some productive tomato bushes but I don't want to waste the seeds you sent so I'm thinking I might keep them to grow when the worst of the hot weather is over - possibly March or April. The tomatoes we do have are being eaten by possums - there' always something. I'm glad you got some good sauce out of yours.

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  28. 40 married years is wonderful, Rhonda. Congratulations to both you and Hanno! I adore cottage gardens and can imagine your garden filled with the prettiest flowers; all bringing colour and joy. I am so glad your MRI result was such a positive for you and hope too that Hanno feels better soon. Take care. MegXx

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  29. It's so good to see a post of yours in my in-box!
    I'm very glad your health report was positive. You've been on my mind a lot.
    Hoping Hanno will recoup quickly from the shingles.
    Wishing the best to both of you!
    ~Sue M.

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  30. such great news Rhonda, about your MRI results. But poor Hanno, shingles is horrid, hope it clears up quickly. I am sure I have congratulated you both on IG for your 40th wedding anniversary, but here is wishing you many more happy days together.

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  31. Hi Rhonda,

    The garden is looking great! So pleased you got so much done before the summer heat is with us!

    I liked your summing up of your thoughts on your 40 year marriage. We married in 1974, so it has been 45 years for us. You are right .... don't sweat the small stuff...

    it was good to hear your health report ... now we just need Hanno to keep his shingles at bay.

    Looking forward to your next post.

    Gerda CR

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    1. Congratulations on your 45 years, Gerda. We might have to start up an over 40s club. xx

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  32. So happy you're back Rhonda. Congratulations on your 40th Anniversary! You have been missed. Lovely garden-
    Wishing Hanno a speedy recovery! Blessings- Jane

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  33. Congratulations on your big anniversary Rhonda. I forgot to write that the other day as I was so excited to hear about your rain! Your garden looks beautiful, as always, and it sounds as though it will provide plenty to eat over the warmer months without being too labour intensive.

    So happy to hear the meningioma hasn't grown, that's great news. I wish Hanno a speedy recovery too.

    Madeleine.X

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  34. Congratulations on your 40 years, Rhonda and Hanno!

    Our 20th will be in February :)

    Interesting that Hanno has shingles - my boys and their friends managed to get chicken pox these school holidays, despite them all being vaccinated. At least they could still spend time together!

    Glad to hear the MRI came back with no growth, that must have been a very stressful wait.

    Thanks for the reminder to get on to gardening stuff before it warms up much more....we reached 32 degrees today, not fun with chicken pox!

    I might have to check out instagram, I have avoided it thus far, lol

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  35. So good to hear from you and that you are well. Prayers for Hanno's quick recovery. And a big Congratulations on the 40th wedding anniversary! Wishing you many more.

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  36. Do good to hear from you again and your health report is good. 40 years is an accomplishment and yes, marriage takes works and its so worth the work! I have been married for 40 years as well, can't even imagine doing this life without my guy. You and Hannno take care of yourselves. Looking forward to your next post.I have missed you here on the blog.

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    1. Thanks Eileen. Maybe we should set up an over-40s club. There seems to be quite a few of us.

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  37. Great to see you back Rhonda and good news about your health check. Hope Hanno takes it easy and gets better. Lovely to have an update and look forward to posts whenever you feel able.

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  38. I am glad you are back, I too have taken a blogging break a little longer than yours and was sad to see you were pausing when I returned. Many congratulations on 40 years of marriage, you are right that is an accomplishment, I am half way there. My father gave me some advice when I got married to stay friends, it is has helped me through some difficult times. It is good to hear that your check has come back with no growth. I am sorry to hear that Hanno has shingles, I had that a few years ago now and it was exhausting, I hope that he is able to get plenty of rest.

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  39. Welcome back and so glad to hear that your time away was so productive and that your doing so well as far as your health is concerned.
    I look forward to new posts as and when you have the time and inclination.

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  40. So lovely to read your post Rhonda. I’m also really enjoying the updates on Instagram. Hope Hanno feels some relief from those dreaded shingles very soon. I really admire the way your blog has evolved. Yours is a perfect example of resilience, creating what you need as time moves on. The new garden will be a delight to see when you’re out having a cuppa. Lastly, well done for taking care of all aspects of “you”. Cheers !

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  41. We are at a similar stage in life and it's great to hear your take on the changes that come. Always so positive and heart warming Thank you. Congratulations on your anniversary and wishing Hanno a speedy recovery. Off to water our little patch of herbs and vegies now. Look forward to hearing more and I will try Instagram.

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  42. Hi Rhonda, How nice to see a post from you again. Your garden looks amazing, as always. I learn so much from you and Hanno. I think may get the shingles vaccine after reading this; I hope he is feeling better now.

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  43. Hello! I am happy to see you posting here! I have also been following you on Instagram, but I don't comment there. I don't post myself, and just have an account so that I can follow a few other people. I enjoyed your post there of Gracie meeting...Fergus (?) Congratulations to both of you on your 40th anniversary, and I am glad to read that your meningioma has not grown! Poor Hanno...my husband had shingles many years ago (in his early 30) and it was a miserable experience. I hope for him a speedy recovery!

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  44. Always lovely hearing from you, i check back regularly hoping to find an update on your beautiful garden and little family.

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  45. Hello from Norway Rhonda, congratulations on your 40th Wedding Anniversary, both of you. Hope Hanno gets better very quickly, blessings, Pam

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  46. Hi Rhonda,

    Lovely to see a new post from you - I was starting to worry about you both. Hanno has my sympathy. I've had shingles twice and don't wish to repeat the experience. Glad your health situation is stable for now and I pray that it lasts. 40 years married! What an achievement in these days of couples separating for minor problems and hurt pride. Hope your future years pass in peace and contentment.

    God bless
    Lyn in Northern New South Wales.

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  47. I am very happy to see you back! So sorry about your husband's shingles...they are so painful.

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  48. Rhonda I too am pleased you have posted . I hope Hanno is mending quickly.
    40 years of marriage is an achievement and as we are now 44 years in this home I do understand when you say sometimes it takes some sticking ;)
    I currently have your 2 hardcover books on my side table as I enjoy just browsing through them at various times of year. They are a lovely read and I hope you are proud of your work in getting them together .
    Thank you

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    1. I'm really pleased you're enjoying the books. I am proud of my books and that they're all still selling in the book shops after so many years.

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  49. I found out about you about 2 weeks ago on a YouTube news story. I immediately bought your book, "Down to Earth" and I'm enjoying it. Thank you for putting your tips in a book, you are helping and blessing so many people!

    I had shingles for 3 months at age 20 and it was severe. I wish I had known about l-lysine supplements back then. I hope your husband recovers quickly, lysine helps.

    Congrats on 40 years of marriage! That's about the length of my life and I love hearing stories like yours about staying together.

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    1. So pleased you're enjoying Down to Earth, Bev. Thanks for buying it.

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  50. I'm glad you posted and that you're doing so well. I just turned 50 in August and I have learned a lot from you about facing the different phases of life. I help my parents (both 76) quite a bit and even though I still have teens at home, I've done a lot of thinking about what our next steps should be once we're empty nesters. Thanks for being such an inspiration and happy 40th anniversary!

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  51. Good to hear from you again Rhonda. Its always good to catch up with what is happening in your lives. I hope Hanno recovers quickly from shingles. My dad had them a few years ago and it made him quite miserable. So glad to hear you received good news for your tests, its always a relief to find out things are okay.

    Your garden looks lovely, even if you are in drought. It is very dry here, rain has been scarce lately.

    Congratulations on 40 years of marriage, that is quite a milestone.

    Best wishes to you both xxxx

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  52. So good to see you back Rhonda and hear all your good news - commiserations to Hanno though, I hope he'll recover quickly. And warmest congratulations on your 40th anniversary - may there be many more! xx Leonie

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  53. Poor Hanno! Shingles are awful. Hope he feels better soon.
    Can't wait to see more of how the cottage garden is coming along.
    Congratulations on your wedding anniversary. It is wonderful to read your honesty about marriage, as it is a wild ride for sure. I am happy to read how you have both made a wonderful life.
    Ahhh I too know the joys of punk/alternative music. The Dead Kennedys are EPIC.

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  54. It's wonderful to have you back online, and I'm so glad your scan went well. Your garden looks wonderful. You have both worked very hard. Sending lots of love to you and Hanno. Congrats on your anniversary, and I hope he feels much better soon. x

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  55. So good to see you back! And very pleased to hear the positive news about your test results. Must have been a huge relief. I am enjoying my first work and study free day since early July, so am spending it making some bread from your blog. My faithful kitchen aid is playing up so I might have to knead by hand -eek! Should give the arms a much needed workout. Anyway, I hope to see you back here again, but will enjoy seeing your updates on instagram.

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  56. Congratulations on your 40th anniversary. Your words about marriage were wise and true. It takes hard work.
    Your garden is just as lovely with less veges.
    Re dear Hanno and shingles.... My mom battled for over a year, usual doctors and medicines. Recently consulted a B. E. S. T technician and after 3weeks, she has had tremendous relief. Hope Hanno has some relief soon. Much love XXX.

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