Thursday, 16 July 2015

New Bike

Yup at long last I bought myself a proper road bike, and very nice it is too. So easy to ride, makes you realise why so many people you see out riding seem to be going so fast, as it does literally flatten the hills. Not only am I pleased with it, but it will be very good for me, extra motivation and  I realised one of the reasons I have been getting so tired is the amount of walking I have been doing, 6-7 miles a day is quite a lot by anyone's standards, so I have been taking to the bike instead, at least cycling you can pace yourself where as walking you either go or stop, and a lot better I feel already. I now have three bikes, Mountain Bike for when I feel like some peace and quiet on the trails, Road Bike for when I want to go further afield and get some speed up and an ancient Road Bike that I use when I am going into town, as I can lock it up on the street and the chances of someone being desperate enough to nick it will be pretty slim.
The garden is looking really good this year, I have made a special effort and it shows, the hanging baskets are now enormous and as for the Sunflowers, I don't know when they will stop growing as some of them are 7ft now!

I have also discovered a really gorgeous Walled Garden not far from where I live, its a real oasis, not huge, but well laid out very quiet during the week and its free to visit, lovely spot to while away an hour or so after a ride on a hot afternoon.

Grappenhall Heys Walled Garden
The other Saturday I went on an organised walk around part of Liverpool, exploring some of the disused railway sites near Exchange and Riverside stations, fab day, and capped off by RMS Queen Mary 2 being moored at Pier Head, it was there to celebrate the 175th anniversary of regular Transatlantic crossings, and also it was the first time since the 1960s that a Cunard ship had embarked fare paying passengers in Liverpool, very impressive and a lovely atmosphere in the city.
Queen Mary 2 alongside the site of Riverside station

Sunday, 21 June 2015


Don't even get me started on the summer, this is when I really would be happy to up sticks and move abroad!
That said we were in Belgium and France last week and it was 26deg, and that is not that far away, so who knows, maybe that is the thing to do.

A short road trip took us to Kortrijk in Belgium and a night on a boat, lovely place, like a lot of Belgium, quiet, very clean and very friendly.

Ghent is a gorgeous historic city, full of interesting buildings, odd corners and fab cafes, so few cars in the city make it a real pleasure to walk round, we stayed in a rather dodgy place, a room above a beauty salon, lovely big and airy, little balcony with a view over the city, but it was ever so slightly run down, the wiring was dangerous to say the least, but there was a toaster, strangely there was no lead from it, must have been solar powered, we seemed to be the only people staying there and it was a little creepy, but you get what you pay for, and we really didn't pay much .
Lille was a complete contrast, very busy, loads of cars a bit dirty and quite a few homeless people, much more like home, but I loved it, a real contrast, lovely old town with loads of fascinating buildings and shops, a bustling square with many cafes, and the modern shopping streets which had a good busy atmosphere, also a lovely big park with some great areas to explore. Where we stayed was on the western side of the city, a small hotel right above a Metro station, and next to a large market selling lots of fab food, bit of a run down area, reminded me of the Edgeware road, but it was fun and the hotel was pretty good.
Earlier in the month I met up with my m8y Lu, who recently came back from a couple of years in New Zealand, we met in London and took a trip out to Kew gardens and have a superb day, really was lovely, first time I have been to Kew since I was about 6, we were there half the day and didn't get to see half of it.
The Palm House, Kew


Sunday, 24 May 2015

A tour around my garden and other things

Ok so actually my garden is very small and a tour would only take a minute, but I quite proud of it and have loads growing.

I have some tomatoes on the go, would like to be able to properly grow some veggies, but I really don't have the room.
A regular dinner
I do eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, and I use the NHS app for healthy eating, some of the recipes and tips are very good, but the main benefit I find is it makes you aware of what you are eating and how you are cooking things. The last couple of weeks I have been suffering with stomach pains and bloating after meals in the evening, for some time I have had to watch how much I eat as too much leaves me in a lot of pain for the night, the main reason is obviously only having one Kidney, and it having a tumour attached which will be effecting its efficiency, also the upheaval in my stomach following the operation could cause problems for a few years yet. This is why I am trying to be sensible about what I eat, actually I have always been quite sensible, but some foods I have a habit of binging on, like nuts, can cause all sorts of problems, bit annoying as I have never had any problems with eating whatever I like, but hey ho, those days have gone.
A very good friend of mine, and elderly lady called Joan has had a really tough time recently, she has been in hospital almost continuously for the past two and a half months and has now been transferred to a home. She had a very nasty fall and now her cancer has come back in a big way, it has spread to her bones and she has been given only a month or so to live. I try and visit every other day, she doesn't get to many visitors so its the least I can do, so sad to see, some days she is quite chatty and still has such character and spirit, but she doesn't understand why all her left side is swollen, she hasn't been told about the cancer, which is understandable as it would just confuse her even more. While she is so much better off in the home, and it is quite a nice place, airy and good staff, but it is so depressing, you walk along the corridors and hear people shouting out for various things, none of them really understanding what they are shouting for, and in the main lounge some of them are in such a bad way they just stare open mouthed with vacant eyes, I do have a bit of experience with various homes so I realise this is the norm, and there really is not any alternative, very sad, looking at these people who are just a shadow of their former selves and imagining what they used to be like and what  they may have done in their life's.
I went to visit the grave of my lovely friend Roz who died of Kidney cancer last September, the headstone is now erected with a photo of her. I am in two minds about photos on headstones, while I understand it possibly gives some comfort to their family, I also find it rather sad to see photos of  people as they were, maybe I am just in a rather a dark place at the moment.
That's enough talk of suffering, ultimately the living have to carry on living and we owe it to those that are sick or have passed away to make the most of our lives.  
I couldn't finish this post without a mention of the dogs, below is a before and after shot of a ball that they managed to destroy in only one day!
And here is one of the culprits trying to deny all knowledge.



Saturday, 16 May 2015

Negatives and Positives

My ex best friend said to me a while back that I had changed since I had cancer, a strange comment really, as obviously my whole world has changed but underneath I am still much the same, what she missed, was because of the way she treated me after I came out of hospital my opinion of her changed and I realised that my idea of a best friend was completely different to her idea.
The one good thing to come out of my cancer experience is that it has opened my eyes, I don't have time for passengers, I am on borrowed time and I do not want to waste it squabbling and fighting and trying to keep other people happy.  I am lucky to have some really special and supportive friends and family around me, and now I have some fabulous people I know locally, I don't need anyone else.
Right that's the first negative out of the way, now for the second.
I had my 3 monthly scan on Tuesday at Clatterbridge, and now my consultant has 18 months of scans to look at he can see a pattern, basically everything is growing, and the cancer has spread to the glands in my chest, I can't say I am surprised it has spread, as it had already taken over 4 organs. I now have 3 months grace until the next scan, when I think I will commence treatment. The treatment for Kidney cancer is not particularly successful, Chemo is ineffective, there is the possibility of a clinical trial with a new drug, but that has now dragged on for over a year so I am not very optimistic. The part I am trying to get my head round, is that apart from tiredness at times, I do feel very good, both physically and mentally, so starting a treatment that will make me ill and probably wont have much effect on the cancer is a hard decision to make.

Now we can get on to the positives, which not only are way more interesting but way more important.
Last Sunday I did a sponsored walk for Clatterbridge hospital, I will donate them some money, as I really don't like asking people for money, especially as this is one of several events I am doing, and also most of my friends are Poor! I had to insert the capital P, as Margo says in the superb John Green book, 'Paper Towns' why do words in the middle of sentences have to get short changed!
Back to the walk. It was only 8km along the beach at Crosby north of Liverpool, nothing to strenuous, but of course I had to make it difficult, so I took one of our dogs from the Warrington RSPCA shelter.

I am not  sure how old Willow is, but she is quite young and because of her  ill treatment this would be her first trip out into the big wide world, and again I couldn't make things easy by driving, so we walked the mile from Slutches lane to Warrington Central station, got a train to Lime St, walked through the middle of Liverpool to Central station, got another train up the coast to Waterloo and then walked along the beach, and of course we had to do it all on the return.
Willow & friend
Willow is the most adorable dog, she has obviously had a really tough life, she came to us  scared of her own shadow, and she still reacts horribly if you accidently trip over her, but we had a fabulous day, she was unbelievably good, considering everything she had to contend with. She made friends right from the start, where she latched on to a young lady at Central station, and then curled up next to her on the train.
Lime St  
Waterloo train
The only real problems were at Liverpool Central, I left Willow tied to an A board while I went into Greggs to get a coffee, and while I was waiting I turned round and she calmly followed me in, having easily slipped out of her harness, I really should have known better than to trust most of these basic harnesses on sale, as they are rubbish, fortunately the staff in Greggs and a passer by were very helpful to say the least. Central station is like an underground station, and without thinking I walked on to the escalator, but unfortunately Willow didn't, and had no intention of either,  so I had to very hastily back track. Haha. Stairs from now on.

Remembrance flags

Clatterbridge helpers
By the time we got back to Lime St we were both very tired, on the platform we had about 150 ft to walk to the train and 10 minutes, I ended up carrying Willow as she really was not going any further, on the train she was bravely sitting up, but her eyelids kept drooping, so she had done enough for one day.
Proudly displaying her medal
Yesterday was the last time I will see Willow, as she has found a home with one of the veterinary nurses, she will have a great life now and will be surrounded with love, but I will miss her.
Our last walk


Monday, 11 May 2015

London Marathon

A day in London for the Marathon to cheer on my fab friend Emily, who was running it for the first time, and she did really well, I'm sure she was exhausted and hurt in places that she didn't know she could hurt, but Emily looked really good and we had a great time in the crowds trying to find other vantage spots, lovely atmosphere, and really inspiring to watch.
London Docklands
I stayed in London the night and because of a bit of a mix up I booked into a hotel near Covent Garden, I was lucky anywhere had vacancies, or maybe unlucky! The hotel was so bad it was fun, a real flea pit out of the 1960s.

View from my hotel
It was a funny couple of days in London, I was so proud of Emily and had a great day with the Marathon, but at the same time I managed to fall out for the final time with a friend and question the quality of the friendship with another one, a bit sad but these things happen and I am stronger for it, the real downside was Sunday night I met a guy from Nepal and a height challenged guy called Butch. We got on so well immediately and had a real laugh and a big night was in the offering, but foolishly I had arranged to meet someone and the rest as they say is history....thank god, anyway I will meet up with Butch at some point and I think its guaranteed it will be quite a night!
I had a trip down memory lane to where I was born in Wandsworth Common.
17 Mayford Road SW12
Was great to see where I went to school and the house I was born in, the area is very up market now and good to see the houses looked after so well, unfortunately I was with the wrong person so one day soon I will go back on my own and have a good quiet mooch around my old haunts.
My first trip to Amsterdam was pretty good, although again I was with the wrong person, but it was cool, gave me the flavour for going back, it may be the cycling capital of the world but that makes it a very hazardous place to walk in. I love Holland, we called in at a couple of places on the way including Rotterdam which was nothing like I expected, very clean and interesting. On the way back we stopped in Antwerpen and that was  good as well, was worth  the visit just for Antwerpen Central station.
Antwerpen Central
Clatterbridge Hospital again tomorrow, the 3 months pass so quickly, fingers crossed nothing will have grown unduly. 



Sunday, 29 March 2015

BST at last!

Light evenings at last, I do like the winter though, I have had a great year so far, many explorations, wrapped up in my big coat out with my camera, I love the trees when they are bare, they take on such character, that's probably the one thing I don't like about summer, the trees in full leaf, and the ground covered in bracken and brambles, makes for poor photos and hard work scrambling around disused railway cuttings, and the flat overhead sunlight means you have to get up very early for interesting photos, but then that's the great thing about having real seasons they are all great and offer very different challenges both for exploring and photography.
Most of my explores this year have been by train and foot, the last time I put petrol in my car was the first week in December, how good is that!
I have had several trips to Birkenhead and The Wirral, I love it over there, such a contrast wherever you look, very rough and ready in places and quite Port Out Starboard Home in others!

New Brighton

After a break of a year and a half I have been out chasing the steam trains, quite regularly.  The Yorkshire Dales has always been one of my favourite areas, and with steam trains running, what better way to spend a day.


Sadly its not all been fun and games, I learnt this week that the disused railway embankment behind where I live in Latchford, Warrington is due to be flattened and a strip of 240 homes built on it. It really is a crying shame that this will be allowed to happen, it is purely done for profit by the owner of the land with a total disregard for the locals. I know it is personal to me because I will be directly effected, instead of having a mini wildlife park to look out on, I will be looking into someone else's Kitchen! But there will be many people like me, who will not be happy, the land owner has created a wildlife haven by his neglect and now wants to destroy it. It would make such a good green path, all the bridges are intact and it runs right through the centre of the village, but profit comes before everything now, and before long every town will be full solid with houses so they will then start building in the sky. We are constantly told there is a shortage of houses, there certainly isn't a shortage of second hand houses, and I don't care what anyone says, theses schemes are done for one reason only, and that is to make developers even richer.

240 homes

Ok that's my rant done with, life is too short to let things like this get to you, I am very lucky because my experiences of the last year have shown me that excessive wealth is worthless., and only a fool seeks it.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Contented 2015

Yup the year is going well! I new once I got out of 2014 I would feel totally different.
First things first, I had my 3 monthly scan today, actually I only had an X-Ray and bloods taken, somewhere along the line there was a mix up over the CT scan, so I have to go back in the next week or two. Fortunately I was able to have an X-Ray, and this showed that the Mets in my lungs have disappeared, which is fab news to say the least, the Bloods also were very good. Dr Griffiths was very impressed, so obviously all the exercise and healthy eating is paying off. Now we are in 2015 my attitude and general mood has been transformed and I have hardly drunk any alcohol since the beginning of December, save for a few GnT's at Christmas, so this should all help with my general health. At the end of January I did have a week of stomach pains which was rather badly timed as it was a year since I came out of hospital, and the pains felt too much like a year ago, they have stopped now and Dr Griffiths said I would get pains from time to time over the next few years, as the internal scaring from the operation would never heal completely, also I do a lot of exercise and had had a 12 mile hike in the snow in Derbyshire a few days before, so that would have added to the stresses going on inside me.

Chee Tor Tunnels

Monsal Dale Viaduct
I have been wanting to go back to Derbyshire for some time, and with the first real snow of the winter at the end of January, it was too good a chance to miss. Train from Warrington to Stockport then on to Buxton, and then a bus to Blackwell Mill, which is quite remote and was once a huge junction of railway lines built by the Midland Railway, but most are now long closed. I don't do buses, so waiting in the cold and the snow at Buxton and then being deposited in the middle of nowhere was interesting, more to the point waiting 12 miles down the road in the dark in a tiny village wondering if the bus would turn up was very interesting and very very cold! The buses were very good and were almost to time and the drivers very friendly and helpful, so a fab day all round. Much of the old railway line I walked was covered in virgin snow, between 6"-10" deep, so it was quite hard going at times, but so worth it, I only met about half a dozen people all day, so I had a lovely feeling of freedom and space.
Millers Dale Viaducts
The walk I did was across the furthest of these two Viaducts at Millers Dale, but of course I wasn't content with just looking over the parapets, I had to walk all the way down (and more to the point, all the way back up) to take some photos of them from the road below.
Rock Ferry pier
A couple of days later I was out exploring again, ( this was probably where my stomach pains came from) this time closer to home, a train to Liverpool Lime St, then hop on the Mersey Rail to Rock Ferry. I presume this is the Rock Ferry that Duffy sings about, no idea what she is going on about, as its not the prettiest of places, the usual boarded up pubs and shops and a burnt out church, and also a derelict pier, which long ago, you could have got a ferry over to Liverpool, now it is slowly rusting away with each tide from the Mersey, right up my street though, can't beat a good bit of rust.
Last Saturday I was up in the Cumbrian Fells with my camera, I had wanted to go the week before when there was a good covering of snow, but for once I thought I should have a rest, anyway most of the snow had gone last weekend and Shap Summit on the West Coast Main Railway Line between Lancaster and Carlisle was covered in thick fog, but over the Fells near Appleby on the Settle and Carlisle Railway it was a little clearer, it was incredibly still as well, "Duchess of Sutherland could be heard for around 10 minutes before she came into view, that amounts to at least 6 miles away!
46223 "Duchess of Sutherland"