Sunday, 18 May 2014

Midland Mainline through the Peak.

Chee Tor Tunnels.
If anyone has looked at my website they will realise I have a bit of a passion for steam trains. Its not something I talk about a lot to my friends, and some of them just dismiss it as trainspotting, that just shows how little they really know about me. I think the real passion stems from the fact that the steam engine represents another world, it was once part of everyday life, everywhere you went you couldn't get away from the sound, and it is the sound that really stirs my emotions, hard to imagine in todays sterile world how steam trains would run 24 hours a day in many parts of the country, in many areas they would have been a real disturbance to sleep, as they can often be very loud and in a town or city at night without todays constant roar of cars, steam engines would have been heard for miles around. I suppose people new no different so they took it for in their stride,  I  imagine that in the dead of night the sound of a train was reassuring as it meant the world was still turning.
The above photograph of Chee Tor Tunnels is on what is now called The Monsal trail, The Midland Railway route from London to Manchester, closed in the 1960s and now converted to a cycle trail with all 6 tunnels opened up, running for around 10 miles north from Bakewell in Derbyshire. The line had a ruling gradient of 1:100, not something you would really notice in your car, but with a 400 ton freight train it was a long slog, the sound of the locomotives blasting out of Chee Tor Tunnel would have reverberated around the hillsides only to be quickly silenced by Chee Tor No. 2, which the above photo was taken from, then just the bing,bing of the wagons until the sound started again as the loco came out of the second tunnel and forged its way onwards to either Buxton or Manchester, with a northerly wind the sound would have carried for ages, quite often you would still have been able to hear it, as following closely behind the next train burst out of Chee Tor Tunnel.  In the 1930s when the line was at its zenith there were over 60 freight trains in either direction plus the timetabled passenger workings on a  normal working day. Well worth a cycle or even a walk on a lovely spring afternoon. Headstone Tunnel below, is the first tunnel you come to from Bakewell, it then opens out into Monsal Dale a very popular beauty spot.
Headstone Tunnel.
I am off south again to Hampshire and Dorset next week to see some friends, rather mixed feelings about the trip, but I am sure it will be enjoyable and hopefully it will keep me occupied and my head clear, details and pics to follow.
Today I had lunch with Roz Vaughan and her family, truly lovely genuine people. Roz and I have a bit of a connection, we were both in Warrington Hospital at the same time and had exactly the same diagnosis and operation. pics and story to follow.


Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Watching the rain.

I had been thinking of writing a blog when I was in Hospital but it wasn't until I read the blog of a young girl called Alice, who died at the age of 17 from cancer, that I started. Her last entry was Jan 1st 2013 and she died 11 days later. To read what she went through in those few short years, and to imagine the suffering of her family is something I can't put into words, but what it did do was make me realise how very lucky I am, at the time of writing I have lived for 35 years that she was denied, how can I complain or feel sorry or myself?
I have been put onto another blog by a 40 something lady called Jane who died of  Kidney cancer in 2010. "very moving" was the phrase used. Moving doesn't even begin to touch it. My initial reaction was I didn't want to read it, as it would upset me so much, and I don't really want to read in detail about what I will go through over the next few years, but then I realised I owed it to her to read it. So I have started, I am only part way through 2007 and I have been reduced to tears, it suddenly puts into perspective my horrendous experience in Hospital, how lucky was I! What she went through from the beginning, makes my time seem like nothing more than having a tooth removed. Her writing should be compulsive reading for everyone, I no the Big C is still something that when you are young,  people avoid talking about and rightly so, unlike Alice you have growing up to do, experiences to come and hopefully good times ahead, we all take our health for granted and that is understandable, we all abuse our bodies one way or another, and as is often shown, a healthy lifestyle doesn't always guarantee a healthy body, what Janes blog teaches you is that you should never take life for granted, it is a very old cliché, but you really should make the most of every minute you have, again I am very lucky because I now have a period of stability where I can do a lot of  the things I want to do over the next year or two, to some extent much like Jane. I suppose what I am trying to say, is get your life into some sort of perspective, don't worry about the things in it you can't change, look at what you do have, and what you can achieve, look at the very basic things that make you happy. Over the last month or two I have had a lot  of depression, despair, and plain old unhappiness, but this has been fuelled by my cancer, not caused by it, my worries have been caused by my loneliness, lack of someone close enough to me to hold and love me and my expectations and desires and disappointments of people in my life. I can't force anyone to love me, or even like me, I can't even change what people think of me, I can't wave a magic wand and suddenly meet the girl of my dreams, and even if I did what have I got to offer her? So again what I am trying to say, is I need to get my priorities together, because before I know it I will be coming to the end of my life and I will still be getting upset over these things, I need to make the most and enjoy what I have, not to get upset over what I wish I could have. Life has to be a compromise, but it doesn't have to be a compromise on the parts of your life that you enjoy, so enjoy them as much as you can, ok so I have always been very good at preaching to others, then making a balls up of it myself, lets see if over the next year or two I can take my own words of wisdom and enjoy what time I have left.

When I first started writing this Blog it really was for me only, an outlet, and maybe to show my children when the time comes that having an illness like this isnt all bad.  There are so many positives to be gained from it.

Janes words, describing her reasons for writing her blog. I am only writing mine for myself, a way of talking and expressing my thoughts and feelings to the world, I have told some friends that I have started it, but I haven't shown it to anyone,  I'm not sure if I will, if a friend stumbles across it then so be it, I happy for anyone else to read it and if you  learn  something from it or it helps you in any tiny way then that will have made it all worthwhile, I think it is very personal and I don't want friends to be put in a position where they feel compelled to comment or be sympathetic or even to get upset, maybe once I have gone they can read it and understand me a little better or it may help them in their own life in some small way.

Disbelief and denial at first. Then anger. Then a crushing devastation . Now its a calm acceptance, with a few moments of despair thrown in.
I have no fear, for what is there to be afraid of?

These words of Janes have already helped me, they show me the path that my emotions will take.


Saturday, 10 May 2014

Back in Cheshire

Long day yesterday getting home, very tired. Been a great couple of weeks catching up with some amazing friends in the south, a bit of a major row with a friend though, which was not so good, I am normally very level headed and patient, but I am struggling at the moment with friends and their problems, everyone keeps telling me I have to start putting myself first, so I suppose I better had.
Yasmin, soon to be a mum, with me on one of our many Bike holidays

A week of healthy living before I off again, this time to Poole in Dorset, rather unusually to stay with an ex of mine, Yasmin, who just happens to be 8 months pregnant, so will be a bit of a contrast to last week but I am really looking forward to it. Started well today,  just like being a teenager again, Saturday morning walk into town and ages spent in a record shop, they even do Vinyl! Bike ride dodging the showers this afternoon, which felt very good.
My amazing sister Patsy has been busy doing some research while I was away and has found this new treatment, Interleukin-2, that I may be able to have  on the NHS

Patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma face a poor prognosis; currently, 30% of patients already have metastatic disease at the time of diagnosis, according to national data. HDIL-2 therapy, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1992, is a type of biologic treatment that manipulates the immune system to attack cancer cells. Interleukins are proteins produced by the body’s white blood cells to defend against bacteria, viruses and other foreign invaders. Treating with high doses of a laboratory-made interleukin activates the body’s production of T-cells, natural killer cells and antibodies that fight the cancer.
Because the therapy poses potentially dangerous side effects such as rapid heart rate, low blood pressure and kidney dysfunction, the treatment is used only in a carefully controlled hospital setting in select patients who are otherwise healthy enough to tolerate it. The Roswell Park study, however, shows that more patients than previously thought may be good candidates for this complex and aggressive therapy.

The treatment itself sounds a bit grim, but then Kidney Cancer is a bit grim, at least it may be another option, Patsy has already done the legwork, Christies in Manchester offer the treatment, apparently the largest cancer centre in Europe, and she has put them in touch with my Doctor at Clatterbridge. My next scan is due on June 10th so I will be able to discuss it with him them. The thought of spending time again in Hospital terrifies me, and the side effects are a little worrying but I don't have any choice if the treatment may prolong my life.

I feel pretty good at the moment despite some very long days over the past couple of weeks, feel pretty positive and know that I have some fabulous people around me, met up with a friend in London last week,  Aimy who I haven't seen for 3-4 years, and it was so good to just fall into the friendship again, so easy to get on with, and she is so interesting to talk to, very knowledgeable about a host of subjects, so we will be seeing a lot of each other in the future I hope.

Aimy and Diva

Monday, 5 May 2014

Crowborough again

Very difficult day today, first reaction is to never trust anyone, but if you don't trust anyone you will be all alone. I do have a problem with friends, or is it friends have a problem with me! Haha probably the latter, I suppose because you can never really know what someone thinks of you, you can only guess or believe what they say, it makes it difficult when someone lets you down, as you maybe expecting too much or have mis-read a situation, or like me dived in feet first. I have been a bit taken aback by being told "I don't no what I will do when you are gone, who will look out for me?" I am not used to that level of friendship, I don't think I have done anything special to merit it. I look at my friends like I do my music, I have many tunes that I like, but have a handful of very special tunes that mean a lot to me and maybe one or two ultimate tracks.

Three very special friends, Maggie, Nick and Lusi

I try hard not to bore people with my horror stories of hospital and the mess that used to be my mind, but I am starting to talk openly about cancer, the other day I was with my sister in Sainsbury's, and I said something about by accident walking out without paying, and she said they would arrest you, so I replied I will just blame it on the cancer, I also nearly got stopped for speeding, I would do the same, cancer will kill me in the end, so I don't see why I cant blame it for any mistakes I make in the meantime, within reason of course, murdering my best friend when she drives me nuts is pushing it a bit!

Saturday, 3 May 2014


Long drive to the south, first serious drive in many months and it felt good, the feeling of freedom was enormous, much like when I first passed my driving test many years ago.  There was a guy called Darren in a local pub, he has learning difficulties and is obviously a regular complete with his hand puppet, sadly he is also the butt of the regulars jokes, not helped by some of the staffs attitude, it is awful that despite these people knowing about his troubles they are still happy to take the piss out of him, 2014 and we really haven't come very far, by complete contrast a fella that I worked with in Crowborough who has Asperger's, amongst other troubles, is also a regular in a local pub, a bit of a dive to be honest, but the way the regulars and staff look out for him gives you hope, if anyone was to even start to have a go at him, they would not stay standing for very long.
This is now my 6th and penultimate day in Crowborough, I have mixed emotions coming here, I lived here form age 7 to 24 and it is not all happy memories, I then came back for 3 years in 2010, never go back they say, and to a large extent I would agree, but I made some fabulous friends here and this week has been great visiting them, a few too many drinks in the rose and crown in Fletching has been very entertaining.
Home made, and home reared sausages for breakfast tomorrow, courtesy of a lovely couple, I could have had some lamb from their freezer, but after holding one of their live lambs it didn't seem right,  and by the way dont wear a white tee-shirt if you are going to pick up a lamb!

Melanie and friend