Saturday, 11 November 2017

No Tunnels Today

Yes a bit annoying as this time of year I would be out exploring, best time now all the undergrowth and trees are dying back, although it can get a tad on the muddy side!
I had my appointment with the Cardio specialist last week and as always I went in with one problem and came out with another. It does seem like I have Unstable Angina and I need to have an Angiogram to find out what is causing it, but unfortunately that can compromise the Kidneys and as I found out last week my remaining Kidney has deteriorated significantly over the past few months, even the past week or so. A bit of a shock as I didn't realise the Kidney had quite got to that stage, but I am getting used to shocks.
I have the Angiogram booked for next Thursday so hopefully I will find some answers then in the meantime I have yet more pills to take, these seem to be working ok and so long as I take it very steady the Angina isn't a problem. What is going to happen with the Kidney I really have no idea, I will see my Cancer Consultant in a couple of weeks and maybe he will come up with some miracle cure.
I had such plans for getting myself fit and relatively healthy over the coming months so I would be in a good state to fight my new Cancer treatment next year but that is now on hold, I am getting very frustrated sitting at home I keep thinking to myself I must get out and get some exercise but then I remember that I can't, a steady walk is the limit.

I saw an elderly couple earlier, he was shuffling along pushing a wheelchair while his wife supported him, he was in very poor shape and she said him walking was the equivalent of her running a marathon, I could well believe it. Little incidents like that bring me back down to earth.

The Internet is an amazing resource but it has to be treated with respect, I started to enter something into google and it popped up with 'Dying from Kidney Failure' no I wasn't brave enough to click on it!

All this time to spare has let me catch up on a lot of photo related work on the PC including a lot of old photos of my dads, this is his old garage in Addiscombe.


Motorwise

Friday, 27 October 2017

And another thing

Goathland


So now I am having Angina attacks, well I think it is Angina a couple of trips to Hospital in a week should confirm it. Just seems to be no end to the things going wrong, 52 years without even breaking a bone and now almost every week something else goes wrong.
Typically my last visit to Clatterbridge and bloods were good, blood pressure was good and ECG was good, two days later and I wake in the night with a horrible pressure from my cheeks down through my chest and both arms, after five minutes it had gone and as I am now so used to pains all the time I didn't think much of it until I was out cycling and it started again within a mile, fortunately it stopped quite soon so taking it a bit easy I finished the ride, out walking with some friends on Monday and all was good until we had to walk back up the hill and I couldn't do it, I really thought I was going to have a Heart Attack, my friend had to go and get his car and come back to pick me up. My Doctors Surgery wanted me to go to A & E but the thought of it put me on the edge of panic, fortunately my GP saw me and has prescribed a spray to ease things until I see a specialist. This has come from nowhere and as I spend half my life walking and cycling it has really hit me hard, even having a shower brings on an attack! Exertion and Anxiety seem to be the main triggers, I know my last scans showing the growth in the Cancer hit me hard but it obviously hit me harder than I realised. 




This I am sure sounds like a real cliche, but I am not scared of dying not now after everything I have been through, a bit sad maybe as there are so many things I want to do. I have been out in Liverpool and Manchester the last couple of days, very scary as I can only walk slowly and crowds are a real problem. It is all the complications  that really scares me, what happens if I am unable to get out and about, what if I am confined to bed, what if I collapse in the street and someone steals my camera!! Haha funny how the mind works but that really has been a worry. What has really got to me with this latest problem, is I had my mind set on getting fit and healthy now I have stopped my treatment, then going off to America in the Spring for a big trip and coming back next Summer to face the Cancer, at least fit healthy and with some great memories, but now I don't know.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Cancer


West Kirby


Clatterbridge Hospital this week. It all went wrong yesterday when I managed to turn up a day early, total brain fade as I had the right dates in my phone, but it did give me a chance to have a walk along the Dee Estuary at Hesswall.



Dee Estuary


I should have realised when I woke up this morning with a horrendous stabbing pain below my shoulder blade that today was not going to be a good one. I think I have been expecting bad news from Hospital, Cancer doesn't just go away it can lie dormant and it can be very slow growing but it is always there. My latest CT scan has shown a significant growth in the primary tumor on my Kidney and also several other growths have appeared on it, they were probably always there but now four years later they are showing themselves. Short of saying the Kidney has had it, my Consultant was quite honest, six months or a year and it will have had it.
So what happens next! I have now come off the Clinical Trial, its been nearly two years so enough is enough, I am quite pleased to be drug free and have a chance to get it out of my system. Around Christmas I will have another Scan and at regular intervals my bloods will be checked to see how the Kidney is functioning. Early next year I will have to make a decision on what other treatment I start, not something I am looking forward to as the side effects are pretty horrendous and its debatable if any of the regular treatments do any good. I think it is a case of waiting to see how long the Kidney lasts and then once it is showing signs of failing removing it and going on Dialysis, this could be sometime later next year, but Kidney Cancer is so unpredictable, so who know's.
The thought of having another Severn hour operation to remove the Kidney and all the complications and pain that will come is something that fills me with dread, and on top of that to then have to go on Dialysis gives me no confidence for the future at all, but what is the alternative? 
I feel like I am back to three and half years ago when I left Hospital and there seemed little point in making plans for the future. I am lucky I have survived these past few years pretty well and generally have enjoyed myself, so all I can do is see how I feel when I wake up tomorrow and then just take each day one at a time, right at this moment the pain in my shoulder blades is so bad that I have no reserves of energy to deal with anything else which is maybe just as well.


West Kirby





Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Pudsey and Bradford





A 9.5 mile walk exploring the old Great Northern Railway lines in Pudsey and Bradford.
I always do this, set of on the train somewhere to have a bit of an explore then end up walking miles and my feet killing me, I am told to take things easy and I really do intend to but it just never quite works out and oh boy do I suffer for it the next day.
The main purpose of this explore was to have a look at Greenside Tunnel in Pudsey, the deep cutting leading to the eastern portal is in the process of being infilled from a neighbouring housing development, fortunately because of the Bats that live in the Tunnel it will not be buried completely, some form of access will be left.

Greenside Tunnel


Greenside Tunnel  west portal


Tyersal House Farm
After walking some of the old railway through Pudsey and having a look in the tunnel I set off walking to Bradford, where I could get a train from Exchange back to Leeds, as you can see I made some new friends along the way, the fella below was on a very high wall and followed me for some while and kept trying to jump down, I did have visions of ending up taking him home with me, I do seem to pick up waifs and strays on my travels. 

Bradford

Rutland St

Everywhere you go there are abandoned buildings and many of them burnt out, it seems to be, if you can't steal it, then destroy it, very sad, I spoke to the owner of the building in Rutland St, he was as bemused by it all as I am.


St Dunstans


Can you imagine living in this house when steam trains were running! This route is the main Bradford Exchange to Leeds line, it is on a very steep 1:49/50 gradient and less than a mile from the station, so for steam engines and their crews it was very hard work, trains often needing two locos and generally doing not much more than 10 mph as they struggled round the curve, the sound would have built to a crescendo as it blasted off the retaining walls and often if the second engine was on the back it would all go quiet for a few moments before the assisting engine blasted round the curve,i'm sure the whole house must have shook, and trains ran all day everyday, the smoke would have stopped anyone opening windows let alone putting washing out. The loco below is just about to turn left at Mill Lane Junction and pass this house.


Mill Lane Junction
c/o Eddie Bobrowski

Bradford Exchange


Bradford Exchange station is a very bleak place today especially on a  wet October afternoon. It is called Interchange now and was moved further down the line from the original site, as happened all over the country the wonderful old station with its huge train sheds was neglected and slowly fell apart so it made it very easy for the city planners to have it demolished and this afterthought of a station built in its place.

I found out later that evening  that the photograph above which was  taken at 16.10 on 1st October 2017 by pure coincidence was taken 50 years almost to the minute after the last steam train left Bradford Exchange for Leeds, which departed at 16.18 1st October 1967.


16.18 to Leeds
c/o Eddie Bobrowski

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Kefalonia Blues


Lourdata

Just back from a week in Kefalonia, 30deg and wall to wall sun. The first time I have been to Greece in 15 years and the last time was to Kefalonia as well, although that was with my wife so a little bit different.
Such a beautiful and unspoilt island, if you want some serious R n R, kefalonia is the place to be, lovely people and great food as well.


Lourdata

As you can see from the above photo I still managed some abandoned buildings, although no disused railway lines, but to be fair Greece is littered with old buildings either half finished or half demolished, they do add to the charm of the place.
A bit of a shock adapting to the miserable UK weather and the following day from landing in Manchester I had my treatment at Clatterbridge Hospital, only three holes from needles and one big bruise so it could have been worse. My temperature has been a bit low at 35deg, I blame it on returning from holiday, but I will have to keep an eye on it. I have a lump that appeared on my cheek around the time I started my cancer treatment nearly two years ago, the blooming thing bleeds regularly and when it starts it won't stop ( I have just had to put something on it as I realised I had blood running down my face). My consultant wants it tested to see if it is do with the cancer or the treatment, then I will have to see a plastic surgeon to have it removed. Some days I get really fed up, as each week brings a new problem, but fortunately the bad mood doesn't last and I think what the hell worse things happen at sea, and besides its Autumn and that means all the undergrowth is dying back so the Tunneling season is upon us!




Monday, 7 August 2017

Glasgow

I have managed to visit Glasgow seven times over the past eighteen months, the main reason being to photograph as many of the thirty or so disused railway tunnels as I can, also any other railway relics of the past and while I am there to get to know the city a little better, you really don't have to go far from Central station to find some interesting locals ready to talk about their city.


Possil Station

Bridgeton Cross Station

Like everywhere Glasgow has changed hugely in recent years, but there are still dark corners to find if you look hard enough. My previous visits over the past forty years were confined to driving through or on the train and walking from Central to Queen St, although I did once stay at Central Hotel, I don't think I would be able to afford it today.

I have created some pages on my website with maps and photos etc of my walks around the city, I think I manged twenty six tunnels, and with a few exceptions I got to both portals, some tunnels have now been long buried and a few have been recently buried under construction works, but some will remain for as long as the city remains as a reminder of another world gone forever.






Thursday, 18 May 2017

Volvanoes and Gardens




Kilauea

The big attraction on The Big Island of Hawaii is the Volcanoes, watching the crater as the sun goes down over Kilauea is rather special, the only thing you are not prepared for is the darkness, complete darkness so when you do eventually draw yourself away and walk back to the car park a torch would be a good idea, there are no lights at all so with a lot of people blundering around finding your car is quite interesting. https://www.nps.gov/havo/index.htm





Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens

The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens http://www.htbg.com/ a short way north of Hilo are the nearest I have been to The Garden of Eden, maybe I was lucky to visit early on a Sunday morning when it was very quiet. As you walk down into the gardens the sound of birds and insects is everywhere, each corner you turn there is something special to see, as you get deeper into the gardens you start to become aware of the sound of the Ocean, getting louder and replacing the bird song, until suddenly you are on the cliff side, the water rushing into inlets either side of the garden and the Pacific stretching away into the distance, if ever there was a place to visit for tranquility this is it, highly recommended.

Back on Maui we drove up to the summit of Haleakala https://www.nps.gov/hale/index.htm a dormant volcano over 3000m in height, but still over a 1000m short of Mauna Kea on The Big Island.

Haleakala

The views are spectacular, you can clearly see Mauna Kea which was covered in fresh snow when we were there, the clouds move quite quickly, so one minute you can see nothing and then suddenly amazing views like above appear, the park is open 24 hours a day, so it is very popular to go and see the sunrise, that is something I must do! 



Wednesday, 19 April 2017

The Big Island

While in Hawaii I took a local flight from Maui to the Island of Hawaii or The Big Island as the locals know it.
Flying out of Kapalua, a tiny airstrip in the north of Maui and landing at Kona on the  west of The Big Island, I then rented a car and had a road trip to Hilo on the east side, a distance of around 76 miles via the direct route, I choose to follow Highway 19 around the north coast.
One of the big draws for going to the big Island was of course the......actually sorry to admit it wasn't the Volcanoes amazing as they are. The Hawaii Consolidated Railway was based around Hilo and among other routes it built a line up the coast from Hilo to Paauilo around 33 miles and 2 hours by train. The line was constructed just before the First World War, and at the time set a record for the most expensive piece of railway constructed, due to the terrain the line passed through, necessitating many trestle bridges of substantial size and several tunnels amongst other things. When the tragic Tsunami hit Hilo in 1946 almost all of the line was washed away and much of the route was then used to construct Highway 19.



Laupahoehoe Train Museum

Laupahoehoe Train Museum is a little way north of Hilo and based around the old Station Agents House. Was well worth the visit a lovely museum with loads of information on the route and a very knowledgeable guy running it. The top photo shows the museum building on the right and in the foreground the remains of the platform which is now right alongside Highway 19. 

Hilo Semi Roundhouse

The Semi Roundhouse in the photo was the main Locomotive shed for the Hawaii Consolidated Railway, and somehow it has survived, it is in private business use and is built from concrete, as with most concrete buildings of the period it is in a poor way so how much longer it will stay standing I don't know. People are aware of its historical importance and have come up with ideas to re use it, the owner seemed an approachable guy even if he was not impressed when I went inside, as he pointed out there is a lot of concrete that falls from the roof! So who knows what will happen, but I can add it to my list of Loco Sheds I have photographed. Yes I know I am a little strange, as my friends constantly remind me.


Lava from Kilauea


Yes I did visit the Volcanoes and pretty amazing they were too, more about then next time.




Thursday, 13 April 2017

Hawaii

Kaopala Gulch

Well I survived 4 weeks on a Tropical Island. Temperature was around 26-28 most of the time with an odd day of tropical storm thrown in, not ideal for cycling especially as I am not very fit at the moment, but I managed around a 100 miles in total on my sisters ancient bike. She seems to have a habit of keeping things forever, she has a hockey stick from when she was at school and still reminds me that I pinched her Squash racket! 
When we were young my sister and I were very close, but over the years we have drifted apart, mainly because of her living in America for over 30 years, but also we are very different people. We did get on very well though, 4 weeks with someone is a long time., but we didn't fall out, we both have a big interest in photography and love dogs, which really helped.





Nakalele Point and Blowhole

We did go to some amazing places, one way my sister Pauline and myself have loads in common, is she will explore where she lives, walking long distances finding forgotten paths and hidden beaches and fantastic coastline. The above shots were taken on a walk, or should I say scramble over the rocks to the Nakalele Blowhole. There is a relatively easy tourist route from the road, but we went over the cliffs by an anything but easy trail, and boy was it worth it! The site and sound of the Pacific pounding the cliffs was quite incredible, I had to keep reminding  myself that we were over 2000 miles from the mainland, the Island of Hawaii are recognized as the most remote on the planet when it comes to distance alone.
Maui is really a very beautiful Island and has everything you would expect of a Tropical Island if you look hard enough, unfortunately a lot of it is like an American playground, vast hotel complexes and Golf courses and cars, lots of cars, mind you if you took away all the rental Mustang Convertibles the car population would be halved!




Sunsets and Whales are two of the biggest things you will see in Hawaii and we saw loads.


This is the view from Pauline's apartment, during the day even without Binoculars you could watch the Whales breaching. Pauline has two dogs so walking them in the evening as the sun set was a great way to end the day, you could see why the Islands are such a big draw for American vacationing,it is so peaceful and despite the Mustang Convertibles an incredibly friendly and relaxing place to visit, one advantage of the playground aspect in the north of Maui is the complete lack of litter, and the way the area is looked after, it does of course mean that the problems are pushed out of sight, Maui is no different from anywhere else, there are homeless people, true Hawaiians resentful of the American invasion, very little work and as always a big traffic problem.










Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Take a Break

Treatment day today and hooray I have been able to give it a miss, not totally brilliant as its because I feel really rough and my blood pressure is very high but the break will do me good, and the next dose in 3 weeks time I had already arranged to miss as I am going away. There is a guy at hospital that I talk to, he is in the same position as me and 12 years younger but he is still suffering, he said he overnight felt like he was an old man, aches and pains, fatigue and general lack of interest or energy for anything, it cheered me up a bit to realise it is not just me and also someone a lot younger.
A week ago I went to stay with some friends on the North York Moors, gorgeous part of the country. My mate had just bought himself a new Mini, so we spent the weekend in it exploring nearby sites, now I really don't do cars anymore, I wasted far to much time and money on cars when I was younger. First thing I did when I got home was take a trip to Warrington Mini and buy one that I had seen on line, and very nice it is too.


I don't do loads of miles these days and I don't particularly enjoy driving, but the Mini is a very well put together car, very responsive and tight to drive, so I am sure it will get me interested in driving again, despite the fact that I actually detest cars, or is it that I detest what cars have done to people and the countryside!
Despite buying the Mini, the first thing I did the next day was take a train down to Birmingham, doesn't matter how nice a car is, sitting with thousands of others on the M6 and then taking for  ever to drive into Birmingham, just to leave the car all day while you go off walking is not my idea of a good time.

Nr Dudley Port
 
 
Yup a walk along an old railway line was the purpose of my trip, this particular line ran from Bescot to Dudley via Wednesbury and Dudley Port, it was closed in the 1990s and technically mothballed, which in this country means abandoned to nature. Part of the route has had some of the undergrowth cut back to allow it to be assessed as a possible extension to the nearby Wolverhampton-Birmingham Tram route, hopefully this will come about, although it will take some years to complete.
 
As I mentioned at the top of this page I am going away, actually I am going to Hawaii in 4 days time for a month. When I am back in march there will be plenty to write about, so to quote the classic TV series 'The Prisoner'
'Be Seeing You'

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Onwards

2017
I used to say to my friend Alan, stop counting back the years to see how long ago certain events were, used to really depress me as there is nothing you can do to change anything, but it is obviously a symptom of getting older as I have to stop myself now.
People often say how brave and strong I am, I really don't feel either, I feel tired, so very tired, how ever hard I try it makes no difference, positive thinking, exercising, eating healthily, 8 hours sleep, none of it makes any difference, I have had enough of constantly hurting and struggling. The other week at Clatterbridge I was chatting to a guy 12 years younger than me on the same treatment, and he said he suddenly feels like an old man, he has a girlfriend 10 years younger, so it makes life very difficult, I don't have a younger girlfriend but life is difficult.
I am off to Hawaii in 4 weeks to stay with my sister, I am trying to word a message to get across to her exactly how I feel both mentally and physically, she can be quite opinionated and has a very annoying habit of assuming everyone thinks the same as she does I don't want her advice and herbal remedies and the Lord will save you ideas, I just want her friendship and companionship, the last thing I want is for us to fall out. Maybe it is me, I find I enjoy my own company more and more, everyone seems so stressed and angry it is easier to get on with yourself, maybe it is an opting out of society, I am lucky I am only responsible to myself, it has been a conscious decision and that is the way I wish it to remain.


Rent
 
 
Just before Christmas I got to see Rent in London at long last. Truly fabulous show, the St James is quite an intimate theatre, and the show suited it perfectly. Quite a few years ago I was dumped and almost the first thing my ex did was jet off to see Rent on Broadway, I was not amused! The show is loosely based around the opera La bohème, a mixture of joy and sadness not least that its writer Jonathan Larson didn't live to see it open on Broadway.
 
 
Clatterbridge
 
 
 
Christmas in hospital!
I did nearly spend another Christmas in hospital, I had my treatment on the 23rd and there was a complication and it looked like I was going to be kept in, but fortunately by the end of the day my blood had sorted itself out. The guys and girls at Clatterbridge were fabulous, general hospitals these days are not allowed to get into the spirit due to infection risks etc, but at Clatterbridge it was superb each department had their own theme, and Dorothy even had a little dog to walk around with, made  such a difference to what was a pretty awful day.
 


 
Boxing Day on the Mid-Hants railway with thanks to Emily. A gorgeous fresh day, perfect for having a ride behind a steam engine, and for once some photos of me!