Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Pen Y Pass - Crib Goch - Snowdon - Down the Watkins Path


I had my last operation to remove my Stent on Friday the 12th August, I rested on Saturday by visiting a friend in Leicester, we went for a walk along the Golden Mile then we went for a meal and did some shopping, we finished off with a trip round the temple.

It was great to be out and about and pain free!  I was feeling so good that on Sunday I decided to climb Crib Goch to see where my fitness was because Marc and I had talked about climbing Ben Nevis the following weekend.

Anyhow it went really well I did Pen Y Pass - Crib Goch - Snowdon - Down the Watkins Path.  I was very tired afterwards but it felt great to be on the mountains and I had a good gauge of what my residual fitness was like after my inactivity due to the Gall Bladder removal and the kidney stones debacle.

Here are some pics! 

the stile on the way up from pen y pass

The initial walk up the path from the car park left me soaking
with sweat from the exhuastion as I had only come out
of hospital on friday after 4 months on and off with kidney stones and
an operation that went wrong.   The lack of activity had
taken it's toll.

looking back on the scrabble up to crib goch


red faced from the effort at this point I was starting to feel a little
better!

Crib Goch

If this little flower can survive up here, I am
sure I can walk for a day

The views the views the views!!


This little fella does this every day!





Along the ridge of crib goch


About half way across




A cairn marking the way for me




thats crib goch done now onto Snowdon



A sign for the summit




touch the summit of Snowdon

Make my way down the watkins path





A beautiful day and nice to see the stark contrast of the tree's berries
and lilac heather against the rocky backdrop


Across the bridge





I finished up at the car park at the foot of the Watkins Path and then it was a 6 mile walk back to Pen Y Pass.   I finished the day exhausted, very footstore but in great spirits.

I was fit enough to do Ben Nevis next weekend so I had 5 days to recover :-)

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Handiware Picnic Stove

I am starting to get a little collection of stoves, recently I bought a Handiware Picnic Stove from ebay.  It's a meth burner essentially but one from the 50's/60's I believe, if you know any more history drop me a line!  

It arrived coated in rust so I will have to do some cleaning when I get the chance and it also had an additional part that just didn't seem to be part of the stove, I suspected it was from a completely different stove as the part was heavy and more like a burner for something else.  Well the guys at the classic stove forum agreed and the part was dispensed with. 

I set it up with a camping kettle and proceded to enjoy a coffee in the garden whilst doing a bit of stargazing before bed!

Here's some pictures!

The Handiware Picnic Stove
Rusted up version!

A brass Mushroom
John at Classic Stoves thinks it's a butane burner!

Very easy to light and puts out a good flame!


A nice flame pattern
It boiled my camping kettle in no time, I was actually very impressed I will definitely take it out on a day trip will bring a nice touch of nostalgia!

Monday, 18 July 2016

Update on my stent

Well they told me my stent could feel a little uncomfortable.....

I have been in permanent pain for weeks now, if i walk or drive any distance I am in agony and it feels like a hot knife in my groin...  I feel so LIED to...  I don't blame the doctors and at the end of the day the alternative was worse...

On the bright side, family friends and work have been really supportive, thanks to my super team and my bosses - Steve and Nath! Without work being understanding it would have been unbearable.

I like to start with a whine as that normally kicks me in the backside to look for the positives... which are... it has really made me itch to get out on my bike... I have had plenty of time to think about little projects and destinations... and best of all my new op is on Friday so kidney stones begone and stent begone so I can get back to normal.

I am not a religious person however here is a little prayer... please whatever deity is listening save some summer for me so I am not left with just the rain!






Sunday, 3 July 2016

10th August - Mallaig and the Hogwarts Express!



Ok so I cheated a little today, when I got off the ferry in Mallaig I found out that the Harry Potter express runs through there, so I decided that it would be a really great idea to travel on it’s iconic route across the aquaduct to fort William.  It’s a little out of my way but given the miserable weather I have been enduring I decided I would treat myself!

I had a coffee in Mallaig in the mission café, I then had a wander around the town for a little while, there is a small stone cliff alongside one of the roads and even in this poor weather it was strewn with wildflowers and colour so I had to take a photograph.
I found a secondhand bookshop, however they weren’t organised and just couldn’t find something I wanted to read.   It came near the time for the train to arrive so I made my way across to the station and awaited the train.  Whilst there I met a german lady who was on a bike more laden than I was, she was touring around solo enjoying herself and she too lamented the weather, the wind and the prices they were charging, it was like meeting a female version of myself… very unsettling.  Her English was functional but limited, she was hoping to go to Ireland but couldn’t figure out a good way to get there so I showed her the route down to Campbeltown and wrote the details for the Kintyre express, she asked me twice if I was sure that there was a ferry from there so I got out a map and showed her the ferry symbol and got the number for her to book, she loved the look of the route.

Pretty soon the train arrived and a deluge of passengers spilled out of the carriages, people with cameras literally elbowing each other to get a photograph of the engine the Jacobean as if it was going to dissolve before they got a chance.   Soon everyone left the station and I got some photos of my own and a small video as it backed up ready to turn around and hook back up to the carriages the other way.

I got a ticket and managed to negotiate a seat with the conductor as it was standing room only but he found me something and a place to put my bike.   I decided to wait on the train rather than head back into Mallaig which would be awash with people by now.  Strictly speaking this was taking me off my route but I figured riding back out from fort William would make up for it and I would soon be back on track, this was just one of those happy coincidences I wasn’t prepared to miss.
                                                                                                                                                                       , 
I sat in my carriage and could smell the engine and hear the steam venting for all the world like a kettle left on the boil, as passengers began to board I could see all the excited children and every second word was harry potter related.   There was the usual mix of German/French/American and Canadian tourists who were having a great time, the atmosphere was wonderful with almost a childlike innocence.

I was sat in Standard class which didn’t have the elegance of first class, but the carriage took me back to my own childhood where I remember these carriages still being in service! I was joined by some Belgians a father with his two teenage children.  They played cards and we swapped some stories of our travels, they showed me a great photo of some Dolphins they had seen near inverness.

The train journey definitely had a Harry Potter theme, as we passed through various places the guard would announce “dumbledores final resting place”  the XXX aquaduct where harry potters car flew..

The scenery from the train was beautiful but as always the weather was atrocious.   There was a charity rafle for some whisky, I didn’t win but there was a family next to me who were scotish I believe.  They had bought a lot of tickets and when the winners were called the son had won one of the minatures, his brother reminded him that the miniature had cost less than his tickets.

Travelling through this country and through Skye you can see why they are used as film locations even those hills with scars where mining had taken place were beautiful providing a contrast to their surroundings.   The landscape is criss-crossed with rivers and everywhere there is wildlife.  As the train passed through and the whistle would blow, birds would take to flight en-masse and sheep would scatter in panic.

The names of places I had passed through came to me, and I realised that I was forming a mental map of the country, the abstract places that I could not recall for so many years were now firmly anchored geographically so that for the first time in my life I started to have a good felling for the geography of my own country.
Pretty soon I had arrived in Fort William and said goodbye to the Hogwarts Express (aka the Jacobite), I would remember this as one of the highlights of my trip.  I had visited Fort William in 2013 on my JOGLE so knew the layout roughly only this time I didn’t need a visit to the A&E (I was knocked off my bike on the previous visit).

I went to the tourist office and enquired about any late rooms free, the lady located one and then she said it would cost me £4.00 to tell me and book it lol, nothing free today.   I decided to pay up and got a booking and an address just up the road from the city centre.  My landlady for the night was a lovely lady we stowed my bike and my kit.  I headed out for food and Weatherspoon’s had a two for one meal deal on so I had a miniature steak pie with veg and a baked potato for the other with cheese.

I wandered up and down the high street for a short while and then made my way back to the B&B, whilst there I met my landladys husband, who turned out to be the train driver on the Hogwarts express, he had been my driver today and had driven the train in the films!

My room was small but very comfortable, again it was one of those B&B’s where you are made to feel like one of the family, it had all those little extra touches that a mother would think of, extra chocolate biscuits by the coffee!

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Changing Tyres the easy way

My new tyres arrived today and at the moment I can't really strain much to fit them as I am currently recovering from an operation and have a stent in me.  Vic had offered to come over but me being me had to at least try it myself. 
I got the old ones off but when it came to fitting the new tyres it just seemed impossible I really couldn't manage it, after almost half an hour I was in pain and getting nowhere, half convincing myself that the tyres were somehow wrong for the wheel, they were 700 x 28c same as what had come off but a different brand. 
I should say my rims are fairly narrow and the new tyres are Shwalbe Marathon plus probably one of the sturdiest tyres on the market and very very stiff to fit when new.

Well they say necessity is the mother of invention so I did what I normally do when brute force and celtic don't work I simply stared at the problem and tried to think a way out.  The main problem was that as soon as you pushed one part in it caused the one next to it to jump out so you chased the tyre round the wheel unendingly.
Well I came up with a solution that made the whole job so much easier, there was no straining involved and each one was done with little fuss and very quickly.   Now I know what your thinking.... I admitted defeat and I called Vic and got him to do for me, well you would be wrong.  
Instead i simply pushed one section into the rim and then taped it with a little electrical tape, then went a bit further along and did the same.  It only took about 3 sections being held in place to make the whole job so much easier.  Like having 3 sets of helping hands.

Three Tape Sections

Close Up



I always carry an amount of this tape in my tool kit, I wrap mine round the small aluminium tube that came with my tent to repair a broken pole in an emergency.  In future when I am travelling out and tired after a long day ending up with a puncture won't be such a chore, however it's a long time since I had a puncture!
Anyhow I hope this helps, it's a trick I won't forget!

Friday, 17 June 2016

Still Going - Still Positive

Sometimes you think you are on the upward climb and then you find your in a double dip recession!!!  but that's no reason to lose hope, hope it seems costs nothing staying positive costs nothing but it can be difficult.

Just as I started to get better I decided to take some time off work purely to focus on getting back out on my bike and giving me a nice reset.  I had begun to notice that my urine was getting darker but didn't feel unwell so thought nothing of it..

Part way through my holiday I had agreed to visit another University with some of my colleagues to explore why they had chosen a particular vendor in their network refresh.  We drove up on a 3hr drive, I started to feel uncomfortable, this continued throughout the day but I didn't say anything.  I got back to the hotel went to the loo and I was essentially urinating blood.

Trying not to panic I phoned the 111 for advice and they told me they would refer me to a nurse, she then said she would consult with a doctor and call me back.  I met my colleagues at a little restraunt just outside the hotel and explained that I had a little problem and was waiting for a call back from the doctor.

Low and behold I was told to go into the hospital,  the staff their were great and they xrayed me etc.. and said that I had kidney stones...  They admitted me because they wanted to make sure it wasn't anything more severe as they wouldn't expect that much blood.  Being as bloody minded as I am I wasn't about to spend any length of time in hospital in a strange city so I discharged myself promising that I would see my doctor straight away.

I saw my doctor and they made an appointment (2 weeks away...)  About a day after i started to experience severe pain similar to my recent brush with Gallstones and losing my gall bladder.  I attended A&E under advice and they confirmed kidney stones and sent me home with a letter for the doctor.  This kind of repeated until I had the mother of all attacks which was agonising in a way that was hard to describe, the nearest I could think of was a mouth full of teeth every one with toothache stuffed in my left side and then someone poking them with a piece of tin foil.

I should mention that during one of my visits to A&E late at night it was so crowded and I was in so much pain I was feeling nauseous i was standing rather than sitting, when i felt dizzy, I was stood by an open room which had two couches in and a small table with magazines no sign on the door and it was open.  I went in lay on the couch for a second and the pain really kicked in, the receptionist a young lad came over and told me that I couldn't lie down and had to go to the seats in the waiting room, I told him I was in too much pain.

he fetched a nurse i explained what was wrong and she said how did he get here to the receptionist who said I walked in and she said well he can walk out then this is for grieving people??? again no sign on the door ..  She then said to her colleague that I was just trying to get ahead of the queue.. I doubt she will read this but "you have no right being a nurse you complete bitch" I wasn't aggressive loud or argumentative I was just in some of the most severe pain I have ever experienced and vulnerable.

There were people watching I was so humiliated and weak I forced myself up and literally dragged myself out of A&E called my friend who came and picked me up.  I sat down outside and was told I couldn't even sit there so I was made to go over to the grass on the other side of the road I felt like a criminal and just could not understand why I was treated like that.  I spent a night of agony till an appointment the next day with the urologist who admitted me.   Needless to say I have put a formal complaint in and I am awaiting the results, I described what had happened and the other staff were genuinely shocked. 

The A&E staff are normally wonderful people patient understanding and kind which is my normal experience with them the nurse who dealt with me brings nothing but shame on her profession.

They kept me in because my kidney function deteriorated and then let me go again as it started to improve,  I then had another really bad attack and they tried to remove the main culprit with ultrasound this didn't work at all and the consultant said I would need a stent as a temporary measure until they could get a space for me to have a procedure (almost 6 weeks away) that involved passing a laser up through the last place in the world I want anything to go in and through my bladder into my kidney this would stop the kidney stone pain but would likely lead to some bleeding and being uncomfortable.


Well the day of my op arrived and low and behold they came to see me and said they weren't going to give me the stent as a spot had opened up so the following morning they were going to go in and laser the kidney stone HURRAH!  Unfortunately the operation went wrong, when they went in my kidney was in my consultants words "full of puss" it was infected and to make it worse they had accidentally put a hole in my uretera...  they had put a stent in and I would have to keep it for 6-8 weeks untill they try the op again.

So I have had the stent for about a week now, it's painful uncomfortable and it interferes with just about everything.  I was starting to feel pretty miserable then I thought:

1. imagine if I had been born 100 yrs ago I would likely be dead from this.
2. My close mates have been amazing
3. My family have been great
4. Work have been supportive
5. I will get better it's only temporary
6. I have dealt with worse
7. I have experienced worse pain
8. I lost a stone in hospital "seriously a stone"
9. I could be the complete Jerk and the Nurse at A&E reception who were humiliating imagine being that kind of person.

So that made me feel way more positive, I am faced with weeks of pain/discomfort but what the hell it's just another hill to cycle up so im dropping into a lower gear putting my head down and grinding for a while....  

Sometimes being positive is as simple as saying bugger it this is not going to stop me!

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Keeping Going

Apologies up front for the following, it's not related to cycling other than the willpower to keep going and in the main it's just me putting my rambling morphine interrupted thoughts down with no coheerent planning, so if what I am writing is disjointed or illogical poke away and make as much fun as you like I could do with the amusement!

It's been kind of a rough year since I got back from my tour last year.   I went down with gallstones and spent a long time in hospital and recovering.   Just when I have started to feel better and begin cycling again I have gone down with kidney stones which are very painful. 

So once again i find myself sat in a hospital bed, a drip in one arm and the other arm looking like a pin cushion.  Frustrated at not being at work and just general frustration of not being in control.

I don't like letting people down and I guess that not being at work, not being able to do things I said I would is just another source of frustration.  No matter how many times people tell me it's fine or that I should focus on getting better I still just don't like being held back, I guess it's the stubborn part of me.

It's times like this that I just try and dig in, keep going and try not to come to a complete halt, starting from a standstill is a lot harder than starting when you are already moving.  So I try and keep up to date with my emails, research what I can and generally think of ways to keep on top of things from my bed.

it's a trite saying that there are always people worse off than you... trundled out to make people feel better etc..  but in the last few weeks two firends have gone down with cancer, one has testicular cancer and he is only 22 but amazingly positive about the whole thing and his future, the other is much older and has already battled through incredible odds in his life and is one of natures fighters all the way.   So I keep saying to myself there really are people worse off and you know them!

so in the end I am staying positive so life can throw at me what it wants because I will still be standing, someone at work said to me the other day that I "seemed to be having a hell of a time" and I replied do you know why I am so big?   "it's because it takes more than one torpedo to sink a battleship". 

I am also thinking about the whole leave europe thing as I am firmly in the Brexit camp, I won't bore you with the details of why but I read an article yesterday about sports direct and the incredible indignity and selfish practices the company has heaped upon it's staff and then saw a headline which simply said "this is what britain could look like if we left the EU".

I work for a wonderful organisation a University and they are supportive and moral as it is possible for anything that is essentially bricks mortar and policies lead by various people at one point or another.  That makes me incredibly lucky and well cared for in the grand scheeme of things, it makes me "privelaged" am I ready to sacrifice the protection to those less privelaged low income workers in this country that Europe provides???   I'ts a tough question because I simply don't trust any politician currently so if we left the EU could I trust them to look after the workers interests to the same level?

I have never minded paying taxes as long as the less fortunate and the less able in society are well cared for, I think a lot of that "morality" will disapear if we leave Europe it all seems to be getting to harsh and uncaring of late...  

I asked someone once what they did and they said I am only a cleaner as if that somehow made them less than others in the workplace,  I have always had a view and will always hold it, If you are working and being a productive member of society or trying to be in work then you can hold your head up with equality in any company, what you do does not matter all that matters is that you are doing something that is all socieity has the right to ask, after that it's all about how hard you work to achieve your ambitions, I do feel that being in Europe assures this, I don't yet know how we will assure it in leaving the EU.

well ramble over, I have reminded myself that my problems are very insignificant in the grand scheeme of things so I am feeling bettter already.