Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Almost a new year then !

Well it's been an interesting week so far after my return to work from the 10 days off that I managed to blag for the Christmas break :-).

Loads of work to do, I am sure that staff in the hospital make a concerted effort to try and break as many medical devices that they can during the ""Christmas rush" that occurs during every December that i can remember over the last 12 or so years !.I would go as far as to say that I am convinced that there must be some sort of prize for the person who manages to break the most !.There is an old saying amongst bio techs that goes something like "Give a nurse 2 ball bearings and she/he will loose one...and break the other !"...seems to be quite true in my experience.

On Monday I found myself on "the other side of the counter" again as I joined the queue for my (slightly overdue!) 6 monthly blood test. Strangely enough my GP also had my slip ticked in the area requesting a Cholesterol check.......Just after Christmas....boy this is going to be an interesting result !.

I now have to wait for around a week and a half to see if my "results" keep the doctor happy.If not, I guess that I will be having more tests, although based on the copious amounts of chocolate,mince pies and turkey that i have stuffed down my throat in the last 2 weeks, it may be the cholesterol that gives more cause for concern than the leukaemia does :-)

Have a happy new year, and keep checking this blog for more news,views and info in 2009.Andy

Sunday, 21 December 2008

This weeks ups and downs, and being a reindeer.

Ok, sorry for the large gap between the cars MOT and, well, everything that has happened since !, and some of it very important news.

Actually I have just realised that I have not posted owt on this blog about my little job the weekend before when me, Andy junior and Scarlet towed Santa through Mansfield Woodhouse to his grotto during the annual Christmas parade and fair.Great fun, but sadly blighted by the constant rain that resulted in myself and "mini me" getting drenched to the skin, and Scarlets antlers becoming very soggy ! (you need to see pictures to understand!).Strangely enough when we drove back home at around 7.30PM that evening it started to snow as we drove along the A17, and by 9.30PM, when I went out again to visit the local Tesco for a bottle of milk, there was a good 1" covering on everything, including the roads !.....if only it had fallen a few hours earlier and approx 40 miles North West !.

Anyway, back to this week,lets start with Monday.Erm, ok Monday was pretty normal really apart from the fact it was a half day due to me doing a little chauffeuring when I took a friend up to Birmingham for a hospital appointment.

Tuesday was pretty uneventful, but then we get on to Wednesday, more specifically Wednesday @12pm when I had my (previously cancelled twice!) meeting with a senior manager at the hospital to discuss my idea of hosting (in association with Anthony Nolan) a bone marrow donor recruitment drive as well as discussing the possibilities of setting up a programme for collection of cord blood from the maternity unit if at all feasible.

The meeting went very well, and I left feeling extremely optimistic about the whole thing.Lets just hope that the new year will bring some good news about my enquiry, and that soon a new donor clinic will be available to all those that would like to become involved in the East Midlands.

Thursday was my last day at work before the Crimbo break and to be honest I was feeling absolutely knackered with pains in my neck, a sore throat and felling very tired!, so much so that on the Friday morning I was down at the doctors to have a chat which resulted me being asked to go for a blood test on the 29th.

Not sure if it related, but I had a flu jab last Thursday, so perhaps that is also contributing to my current feeling of having a dose of "man flu" which of course we all know is the worst thing that anyone can feel...unless you are a woman of course !

Apparently I need to fast for 12 hours before the blood is taken as they want to check my cholesterol level at the same time, probably due to me mentioning to the doc about my love of a good Full English fry up :-).Come to think of it I am about due for a blood test now as I am supposed to have one every 6 months anyway.

The pain in the neck could be down to a little accident that I had on the 26th November whilst working in an operating theatre at the hospital.I was talking to a rep from a medical device company on a phone in the recovery area and, whilst moving between the said phone and a piece of equipment that i was getting the serial numbers from, I passed under a ceiling mounted microscope, forgot to duck, and almost knocked my ruddy head off...ouch !. I had tenderness on the side of my head for a week or so, but the pain in my neck remained after that had gone, so perhaps I managed to get some sort of "whiplash" as a result.Funny thing was that as I was leaving I mentioned my little episode to a member of staff and was told that it was not the first time that this had happened that day !.I think they need to put something soft and bright over the thing to prevent another accident like mine.

Today is Sunday.Saturday was pretty boring, I am currently waiting for 3 parcels to be delivered, 2 from Ebay and 1 from Glen.The one from Glen contains the final cut of the DVD that documents our trip in September, and I am really looking forward to seeing that :-).

Post office van just came into the street and then left without stopping.....oh well, just keep waiting i suppose.

Merry Christmas anyway.....nearly !


Sunday, 7 December 2008

MOT Sorted !

Well that's that sorted then !.Took the old girl down to Pitstop in Sleaford on Thursday morning so that the guys could work some magic on her and sort out the main portion of the work that was found to be needed during the MOT at Herons on Tuesday. I had already removed the front headlight assemblies and refitted a donor set which had been given to us for our trip in September.I also fitted a rear number plate bulb which should have been an easy enough job apart from the fact that the screw heads on the lamp cover had almost rotted away to nowt....the joys of running an old car eh !.

On Friday morning I went down to Pitstop to pick the car, and I must say what a pleasant surprise the total for the work was.......although as per usual I would guess that John and Chris have probably given me something of a "preferential rate" which came as a great help...cheers guys...again :-).

I arrived down at Heron Volkswagen at 10.30, and Scarlet went in for her retest almost immediately.About 40 mins later I was given the good news that she had now passed her test, and just as an extra sweetener Heron only charged me £25 for the test and retest fee....top dealership, many thanks again to all involved.

I was supposed to have been making a set of antlers and a flashing red nose this weekend but as per usual i found myself otherwise engaged...oh well, got almost a week before the Santa job so I will have to try and get myself organised over the next week.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Scarlet failed her MOT :-(

Took Scarlet down to Heron Volkswagen in Newark yesterday for her MOT and sadly (although if i am honest,not surprisingly!) she failed on several area's.

Strangely enough, apart from the front suspension bush which was worn, probably due to our little adventure negotiating hundreds of potholes in the Pyrenees mountains,and needed replacing, the other items that caused a fail were a lot less serious than myself and Glen had expected. A rear number plate bulb had blown, a clip had come adrift on the N/S CV boot gaiter, the aim on the headlights were a little high (probably due to the front end rebuild that AW thankfully did after my little..erm....bump :-). The main area of repair needed to be completed for a pass are the 2 rear flexi hoses on the brakes, and these are going to be hopefully sorted within the next couple of days by those fantastic folk at Pitstop in Sleaford.

Hopefully any repairs that are needed won't be too expensive, as I have just recently had to replace a cooker after the last one exploded !(and you ask why my wife tries to avoids letting me cook!).

I fitted anew set (well slightly younger anyway!) to the car this morning, replaced the rear number plate bulb and 2morro it's off to Pitstop for the rest of the repairs before another visit to Heron's for (hopefully!) an MOT Pass :-)

Monday, 24 November 2008

Scarlet to pull Santa's Sleigh .......maybe !

I have been asked recently if i can help out at the Mansfield Woodhouse Christmas parade by using Scarlet (the Scirocco!) to tow Santa Claus (is that supposed to be all one word ?) as it appears that all of his reindeer have bogged off to the south of France for a holiday right up until Christmas eve !. Anyway, I have agreed in principal to this offer although there is a slight issue regarding the fact that the parade is on the 14th December,and Scarlets MOT runs out on the 2nd !......oops !.

This would not normally be an problem, however due to myself and Glen gallivanting off around Europe a few months ago (what was all that about ?), the costs involved with that little jolly boys outing, and the close proximity of Crimbo (I have 3 kids with expensive taste!) i am feeling the effects of the credit crunch....so if the MOT identifies any expensive work requirements, i may not be able to meet the costs to get her through until the new year...and that of course would be well after the 14th :-(.

I really hope that I can use the old girl to tow Santa, as It would be a fantastic end to a rather amazing and eventful year, and besides, I have all sorts of mad ideas about attaching fake antlers and a flashing red nose to her bonnet just to give her that "organic" look.

So, if anyone either knows a good garage that would be willing to help me out with this little matter, or anyone who can offer their services to rectify any problems that may be found when she goes up on the ramps...please feel free to get in touch.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Joel was laid to rest yesterday

On Tuesday I attended the funeral of Joel Picker-Spence at the parish church of Mary Magdalen in Newark. After the service of thanksgiving some, me included, went on to the Sherwood crematorium for his final committal.

Now at this point I was going to describe the service,but several newspapers have already done this so I won't.Instead I will simply say that what I saw and heard that day moved me to tears. The story that was told that day in church of a child who fought his disease like a tiger, smiled like the sun,played with his friends,had fun and touched the hearts of many. I had the privilege of knowing Joel and his wonderful family for only a few months, but the experience has left a lasting impression upon me, and I am sure that his story has certainly touched the hearts of so many others.

I have heard some people ask why this had to happen to Joel.Why was such a happy and loving youngster made to suffer this terrible disease, and why was it not the happy ending that we all hoped and prayed it would be. I can't say that I know the answer to such a question,but I would like to think that Joel's death will somehow help others, perhaps make people take more notice of the pain and suffering that is all around them, and maybe spur them on to take action and try to make a difference.

For Joel the journey is over all to soon, but in the the short time he had in this world he proved himself to be so much more than just another poor kid with blood cancer.He was a example to us all, a bright star that lit a beacon of hope and it is down to us that are still here to carry that beacon and try to make a difference in the constant fight against the enemy we call Leukaemia.

They say that the smallest stars are the ones that shine most brightly.Well now there is a new star in the sky, and boy is it putting the others in the shade :-).Rest in peace Joel.

Ooops!....A few people that I forgot to mention

My most sincere apologies to the people that I am about to mention in the list below.
These are the kind folk from far and wide who have helped us so much with our fundraising.I guess that you would call them "the back room boys" (and girls!).Lots of money was raised via Ebay and Freecycle, and it is through such means that over £460 pounds of additional money was secured.So, please give yourself a pat on the back for an excellent job !.Well done :-)

Nigel & Jill (Holbeach) - special thanks
Gareth and Melee (Branston) - special thanks
Sally (Lincoln)
Andrea (St Catherines)
Jane (Canwick) - via Ebay
Tracy (Digby)
Laura (Billinghay)
Jules (Thorpe-on-the-hill)
Kelly (Newark) - via Ebay
Carol (Coningsby)
Fraser (Sleaford) - at car boot
Ann (Mablethorpe)
Matrix (Lincoln) - Ebay sales
Ian (Cranwell) - via Ebay
Caz (Sleaford)
Jayne (Hartsholme)
Susan (Lincoln)
Alix (Metheringham)

My apologies if I have forgotten anyone but you will all know how appreciative I was for your generosity. It's the kind and generous folk like these that restore your faith in human nature.Sorry that I took so long to get around to giving you all the credit that you deserve, and thanks to Kaz for reminding me :-)

Extra special thanks must also go to Kaz and Pete in Cranwell, without whom our job would have been so much more difficult, especially when we went to RAF Waddington and Kaz met me at 6am to supply a white board and a selection of scribbling sticks to use with it !...Ta !

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Just found out about cord blood donation..sounds amazing!

Terie Duffy,cord blood coordinator for Anthony Nolan, with donor mums

Cord blood donation. Now if you are like me you have probably never heard of this term until now, and if by chance you have heard about it, do you know what the story is behind it ?
Let me enlighten you a little, based on what I have found out so far:

Cord Blood is the residual blood that is left over in the part of the umbilical cord that is disposed of after mother and child have been separated. In other words, it would normally be disposed of by the hospital when the birth is complete.
This cord blood is astonishing stuff, it contains large amounts of hematopoietic stem cells, brand new and incredibly "naive" cells that ( due to being still immature) can change into numerous types of cell, this allows them to be used to "repair" damaged cells in area's such as the brain,bone marrow and even the heart !.
I am still swatting up on this information, but this is a link to 2 UK websites which contain a lot more useful information: The NHS one is here at : http://cord.blood.co.uk/index.asp and this is the Anthony Nolan site: http://www.anthonynolan.org.uk/cordblood/cordbloodprogramme/

This sounds like a very promising new development in the fight to find cures and treatments for a wide range of illnesses, including Leukaemia, and the best part about it is that it carries no invasive procedures to "harvest" the cord blood......so what is the problem ?
Well the main problem currently within the UK is that there are only 5 hospitals that are offering the cord blood donation harvest to new parents.4 that are run through the NHS Cord Blood Bank service at Northwick Park Hospital in Middlesex, Barnet General Hospital in North London, Luton and Dunstable Hospital in Bedfordshire,Watford General Hospital in Hertfordshire and Mater Infirmorum Hospital over in Belfast. the King's College Hospital in London also provides a service via the Anthony Nolan Trust.In the US there are currently 20+ hospitals involved in Cord Blood harvesting, thus many more mothers are able to give this life saving gift at the time of their child's birth.

Have a look at the video that is posted in the left hand column of this blog for more details.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Nathan Hancock also sadly passed away this weekend.

I had only just been talking to Ann and Dan (Joel's mum and dad) when later today my dad told me that there had been another loss of a brave leukaemia sufferer over the weekend.

Nathan Hancock had been a promising footballer, but sadly his career was cut short by a broken leg. He then changed career and was enjoying his work with Linkage Community Trust at Toynton where he worked teaching sports to adults with learning difficulties when he was diagnosed with Leukaemia in February this year.

The main difficulty in treating Nathan was the fact that because he was of mixed race he required a specific and more difficult to obtain bone marrow transplant donor to be found, and sadly there is a shortage of bone marrow donors registered from ethnic communities.

His family tried desperately to find a suitable donor, but even though there was a fantastic turn out to sessions held in the local area, it was too late to save his life.

Nathan was only 22 years old, but before he passed away,yet he asked that the search for, and recruitment of, bone marrow donors should go on, so that others may be given a chance to beat this cruel and aggressive disease. It is up to us to ensure that that wish is pursued with as much vigor and urgency as we can muster, and to ensure that the push for more donors is sought, for the memory of Nathan,Joel and Adrian Sudbury and all the other brave fighters who are nothing less than hero's and who's examples of courage and bravery we can all seek inspiration from.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Joel Picker-Spence passed away last night.

Today I got a message that I had been dreading the arrival of for some weeks now, the news that little Joel Picker-Spence aged 6, had passed away in hospital after his brave fight with leukaemia.
I was going to title this post as "Joel loses his fight with leukaemia", but it seemed unfair to suggest that he had somehow failed to achieve his goal to live, and besides it would not give him the credit that he deserves in relation to the vast amount of encouragement and motivation that he has given not only myself, but also the hundreds and thousands of people that have followed the story of one small boys courageous battle with such a great enemy.
Joel Picker-Spence did not "loose" his fight, he eventually bowed to the unrelenting disease that was his leukaemia, but to all those who bore witness to his smiles,laughter and love that he had for his friends and family, he was a real hero,as was his mum Anne, who was always by his side during his numerous hospital visits.
I have yet to hear of any hero that has ever truly lost any fight.
God bless you Joel.Our thoughts are also with Ann,Dan,Sean and Eva his smashing and so obviously loving family.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

A trip down memory lane....in music!

As I write this post I am listening to a live concert DVD performed by a band you may (or may not have, dependant upon your age!) have heard of called OMD or to be more precise,Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark.Admittedly Andy McClusky and Paul Humphreys do look a damn site older, but their voices and the sound is just so...well...OMD!
The set they are doing is from the album "Architecture and Morality" circa 1981.It's strange, but I had forgotten how much of a place music like this had in my life during my teenage years, and this album in particular brings back some pretty good memories of a school trip to Paris,France when I was about 15-16 years old, especially "Souvenir" and "Sealand".
I remember giving my cassette (remember those ?) to the bus driver early in the trip, and from that point on it seemed to be constantly on the bus stereo !.So it should not come as a surprise then to find that every occasion since my teen trip to France, OMD singing any of the tracks from this album instantly trigger thoughts of Paris :-).

Our lives seem to pass so quickly once we leave school and enter the "grownup" world of work,possibly marriage,kids etc, and sometimes it is easy to forget the "good times" that we have experienced before we entered the rough and tumble of the "adult" phase of our lives, and we find then that on the many occasions that we find life hard to cope with,due to stress,money or illness, we can draw upon "the movies of our minds" (Ah-Ha,Analogue LP), the memories of better days that we store somewhere in our heads,dormant, like those piles of video's in the cupboard, the ones you forget you have, but upon finding them once again we can't wait to view "for old times sake".
We should all take a Little time out of our busy grown up schedules to sit down, take some time and try to remember the good old days, for in times of hardship,worry or fear memories can be some forgotten good friends that all of us carry with us everyday, and like the best friends, they won't ask why you haven't called in 20 years, they just tell you how good it is to see you again, then enthusiastically spend a long time reminiscing about the glorious past.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Good news.....in short measures !

Reading the SUN today my attention was taken by a small atrticle (if you could call it that!), that read as follows:

"LEUKAEMIA sufferers were given fresh hope yesterday with a major DNA breakthrough.

The cancer is caused by abnormal production of white blood cells and current treatment relies on killing them.

Now New York scientists have discovered a drug that reprogrammes the cells back into healthy ones.

Study leader Michael Cosgrove said: “Our discovery will bring new ways to treat leukaemia.”

Isn't it strange how this very encouraging an possibly important news was given such low exposure, and yet subjects such as Peter and Katie/Jordan Andre/Price having a snog, the American election and Motor mouth Russell Brand (yawn), got so much more space!.

Anyway, here is the link to the web page that has the full story not just a "stocking filler" such as the way that the SUN decided to report it !


Wednesday, 29 October 2008

One day...............

You know, if you pick up any newspaper,watch any TV news or listen to local or national radio, it seems like not a week goes by when there is not at least one person pleading for bone marrow donors to come forward.
Maybe it's because i am "in the club" as it were due to my own Leukaemia diagnosis, but I can't help but feel compelled to try and do something constructive to assist in these appeals. It is to that end that i spoke to staff at the Anthony Nolan Trust earlier this week, offering to try and recruit potential donors by way of using Scarlet (the car) and her trailer to spread the word to people and try and educate,inform and dispel misconceptions about what being a marrow donor involves.
One day, hopefully not so far away, there will be no need to make appeals, and bone marrow donation will be as commonplace as a blood transfusion.That day needs to be sooner rather than later, to avoid the human lottery that we currently have.

The Donors Prayer

A part of me I give to you
so you can start your life anew

a chance to live your life again
to free yourself from fear and pain

to lift your spirit and faith renew
this gift of life from me to you

Andy Ward.2008

"Every passing minute,is another chance to turn it all around" Vanilla Sky (Film 2001)

"The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Guardian Angel.Song from the film "A Walk to Remember "

This is a film that covers the story of a teenage girl with Leukaemia who,without knowing it, becomes the saviour of a boy who is going "off the rails" with his life. The song is called "Your guardian Angel" and is written and performed by a little known group (well in the UK anyway!) called "The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus".Enjoy :-)

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Nathan Hancock appeal for a donor

Heard about another young guy (22) who is a footballer from Skeggy (Skegness). Saw his family on the telly last night appealing for people to become bone marrow donors.
I think the bit that struck me most is when his mum said "He's my son...my only son". We have to get more people to sign up to the register, and give people like Nathan Hancock a fighting chance against this disease. Their is hope for people like Nathan. Are YOU his unknown donor ?
For me, the most frustrating fact is that around 75% of bone marrow transfers are nothing more than a glorified blood transfusion, and yet if you ask the general public what a bone marrow transplant consists of they imagine a big operation, weeks off of work and lots of pain.....this is just not the case, and possibly due to this widely held misconception it seems that not a week goes by when people such as Nathan have to make an appeal for their very lives!. Surely it is within the realms of possibility to one day bone marrow transplants will become as common, and as accepted as blood transfusion.
This is a link to Nathan's appeal:


Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Bone marrow (Stem Cell) donation....the facts

This is an entry that I found on Adrian Sudburys blog page "Baldy's Blog". I took the liberty of "pinching it" for this blog as it may help to dispel some of the myths and worries that surround the process of giving bone marrow, and hopefully will keep the momentum going for the vision that Adrian had of recruiting more people to become donors.

"This is a video showing how around 75% of all bone marrow donation is carried out these days.
If you want to get on one of the donor registers all you have to do is ask about it next time you give blood.
The National Blood Service provides a bone marrow register.
Alternatively, you could get in touch with the Anthony Nolan Trust.
They can send out a special blood testing kit which you can take with you to your GP.
You then post your sample back to the trust.
Specialists can tell from your blood whether you are a potential tissue match for someone or not. Your details are then entered onto one of the databases.
The two organisations work together so you only need to be on one.
If you were a match for someone who needed a transplant, and you still wanted to help, you would be given a number of injections of a naturally occurring hormone called Granulocyte Colony Stimulating Factor (G-CSF), four days prior to the donation.
This stimulates your bone marrow to increase blood cell production. For example, when you are ill, GCSF stimulates the marrow to make more white blood cells to fight off infection.
The injections are safe and the only side effect I experienced when I was given some on the ward was a slight ache in my bones.
A donor is then brought into hospital and hooked up to a machine called a cell separator.
As you can see from the above video a needle is put in one arm and the blood goes into the machine. The stem cells are separated by centrifugation and flow into a bag. The other parts of the blood are then returned back to the donor through a different needle.
The whole process takes around four hours.
Current research shows that these types of stem cells are the best for curing leukaemia.
However, for some conditions such as aplastic anaemia, stem cells direct from the bone marrow are more desirable.
To get these cells a bone marrow harvest is performed. This can require a two-night stay in hospital.
When I have a bone marrow sample I have to lie on my side in the foetal position. I am given a local anaesthetic and a needle is inserted into the bony bits at the back of my pelvis.
This video is not the same as a harvest but it gives you the gist.
A donor is given a general anaesthetic and the same procedure is carried out but at multiple sites. There is no bone-breaking or spine jeopardising - that is not to say it wouldn't be a bit sore in the morning!
None of these procedures are anything to be taken lightly and do represent a big commitment.
The databases are expensive to maintain so they only want people on there who are determined to help.
Donors have the final say about which method they prefer.
Ideally, it is best to be OK with both. That way if someone is unable to extract enough bone marrow cells, another option for the recipient is possible.
On a personal note I used to give blood but I never joined a bone marrow register because I thought the procedure could leave you paralysed.
That, as I hope you can see, could not be further from the truth.
I'd just like to add that we live in a world that for all its good is riddled with problems and selfishness.
Joining a register is one of the true acts of altruism and human kindness.
Who knows, you may end up saving someone else on the other side of the planet."

(Adrian Sudbury May 15th,2008)

The video in the left hand column is pretty short and sweet, but it explains the process that is, as Adrian pointed out, used now days in 75% of cases to harvest bone marrow for donation to Leukaemia patients.Go on, do something amazing and give the gift of life :-)

Monday, 13 October 2008

Oi!.What about the photographs and video ?

Ok.Just thought that I would mention that due to a technical problem (my kids broke the laptop...again!), The promised video,pictures of the trip are, as of today, still on Glens hardrive caddy thingy !, and until the very nice man from Dell comes over and sorts out the laptop that has now lovingly been christened "Triggers broom" due to it having (so far!) 2 new screens,3 motherboards,2 batteries,2 keyboards,2 power supplies and several bits of plastic case, I will not be able to do any serious editing and the likes. I bet Dell will see a sudden surge in their profit margins when my 9300 comes out of warranty in December :-).

Funny, but I seem to think of loads of things that I can post here on the blog during any day of the week.Then when I get around to actually putting finger to key...it all goes terribly blank and I end up writing any old lard just to fill in the post!....see, just done it there ! :-)

Oh yes.Fundraising wise I have now got great pleasure in telling you that the £1500 target for Leukaemia Research has now been met (Hoorah!), and Glen is not too far behind with his collection for Macmillan currently pushing £1200. The Air Ambulance collection was always going to be a little lower due to it being a shared charity between myself and Glen, but even so, we have managed just over £400 with a further £100 being added shortly.That's enough for one mission I believe...and a sandwich each for the crew!.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Ah, so that's why my back hurts so much !

I popped down to the doctors today after feeling a little off colour and having some concern about a lump that i found on my back a few weeks ago.
Isn't it strange how I, like many others, "put off" going to see the GP when we find something a little disturbing or worrying, and yet in the back of our mind we know that we really should. So after a little gentle persuasion from my wife it was off to see the doc at 08.40 after fighting through the typical Sleaford gridlock that is now such a common sight. Anyway, to cut a long story short it turned out that my "lump" was in fact a cyst (with some fancy name prefixed at the start of the description!), so it appears that my concerns were unfounded.....however!.......during the course of the examination the doc commented that i had "Scoliosis" of the spine !, in other words my back has a few extra bends more that it should have !
Apparently there is no cure as such for the affliction, but i suppose it is another good reason to try and loose some weight and eat less fry ups......not good news cos i love a nice egg,bacon and sausage. Why is it that all the things that I enjoy in life seem to be either illegal,immoral or bad for my health ?
This new news also explains why after nearly 4 weeks, the pain in my back is still there from the strain I experienced the day before we started our trip to (almost!) Morocco and back.I suppose that sitting crushed up in a car with no power steering, driving almost 4000 miles in under 9 days is not what would be deemed as a good idea, and certainly not conjucive with a fast recovery...so it's my own stupid fault for deciding to continue with the challenge........but it was sooooo worth it !

Joel Picker-Spence is going to be celebrating Christmas on Saturday, for reasons that I mentioned in an earlier blog entry. Myself and the kids will be popping over to drop off a nice pressie for him from ourselves and also one that Glen and Rachel have sent up from daan saath !. Actually I will be glad when he has it in his possession because my 5 year old son has been driving me bananas for the last week asking if he can have it (can't say what it is in case Joel reads this blog !), suffice to say i am sure that he will have many hours of fun with it as long as Andrew Jr doesn't try and pinch it when we leave :-).

And finally,a poem.One of my all time favourites !


Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let not this blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams; it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.
Max Ehrmann, 1927
Take care out there ! ;-)

Friday, 26 September 2008

Heard some very sad news today

It was with great sadness that i received the news today that the young man named Joel Picker-Spence (aged 6) that I mentioned in an earlier blog entry (he was seeking a bone marrow donor) has now been told that he is too ill to receive the life saving treatment that he so desperately needs. Having spoken to his mum Ann this evening it appears that this was to be his only chance of beating the disease...and now he cannot have the treatment, in other words, Joel is losing his brave fight with leukaemia, and,aside from some sort of miracle taking place over the next few weeks he will sadly succumb to the illness.

Ann was astonishingly frank and open about the dire situation that Joel is now in, but after nursing him and being with him for the duration of his battle, spending days, weeks and months either in transit to, or resident in, a large number of hospitals she is now having to accept that her son is slipping away, and I, as the father of a son not much younger than Joel,can only imagine how she must feel at this moment.

It is times like this that I take stock of my own situation, and strangely enough it is seeing the way that valiant youngsters like Joel cope with their personal battles, makes me take strength and hope with my own, for the measure of victory is sometimes not if the battle is won or lost, but more of how hard,courageously and passionately the fight was fought, and souls like Joel are our heroes, our beacons and our inspiration so that we may believe that one day we will conquer Leukaemia and all of the other cancers that blight so many lives.

Ann told me that she is planning to bring Christmas forward this year, to allow Joel to have some downtime and fun in his life. I for one will be delivering a present to the Picker-Spence household, given not so much with sympathy but with respect,awe and a genuine wish that no matter how great the odds are, a brave little boy will have the best Christmas ever.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

When Sciroccos attack!!

I managed to get all the way to Morocco with no incident. Andy hurt his foot, but I got away without injury.....until I got home!

I was parked up at a petrol station on Friday to get some bits and bobs for the house and on getting out of the car I noticed I was parked very close to a high kerb. I made a mental note to be careful on my return to the car as I did not want to damage the paint and went on my merry way to get the supplies I needed.

Of course when I returned I forgot completely about the whole thing and proceeded to open the door and decend into the car as you normally would in one fluid motion. The door hit the kerb with force and bounced back at me with speed, pinning me under the ribs between the car and the corner of the door. Needless to say it hurt a bit and I slumped into the car!

Now at this point damage control was in order, so I did the important stuff first.....looked around to see if anyone had seen and was laughing! No, I had got away with it and was free to wince and groan for a few seconds. Next I got out to check the door for damage. NOT A SCRATCH! So I prceeded home noting that the pain was rather intense for a bruise.

Saturday and Sunday passed and the pain upgraded from ' a bit annoying' to 'I cant breathe or lay on my side'. It wa at this point that my wife stepped in and insisted on a trip to A+E. It was there, after a few hours wait, that I learned I had fractured 2 maybe 3 ribs!

So now Im off work AGAIN feeling sorry for myself and trying not to laugh / move / breathe in case I hurt myself again. At least Ive got some decent pain killers I suppose - Andy didnt have that luxury for his foot in Morocco.....

Saturday, 20 September 2008

The end ?

No way ! :-). After myself and Glen have had some rest we will then get on with the job of sorting through eh hundreds of photographs, and the many hours of video, to bring you a concise report of the whole trip...well the bits we can remember anyway !. I am back at work on the 22nd September and i believe that the same goes for Glen, so you will have to bear with us as we check,label and compile our little "travelogue" to give you an idea of what almost 4000 miles in 8.5 days in a Scirocco (a la trailer) looks like. Stay tuned !
By the way, did you notice subtle change that we have made to our challenge logo ?. We thought that it was only fair to set the record straight as to our final destination at the conclusion of our little adventure.Then again, i think that it has something of a ring to the name.....cushty !:-).
And hot off of the press here is Glen's first taster for our forthcoming blockbuster about our adventure...
Don't you just love YouTube ? :-)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CBk2OIO65I

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

The boys (and old girl) are back in town....

Well, Scarlett delivered us back to England safely on Monday afternoon at about 4.45pm UK time and had me back to my house for 5.50pm. My dad was on hand with his video camera to film us arriving at the house and to help us unpack all my stuff into the garage. After a few cups of much needed coffee, Andy set off on the 3 hr journey back to Sleaford on his own and I sat at home with my wife Rachel reliving the last few days of stories and wondering if he would make it home safely. I need not have worried though as he rang from Sleaford at about 10pm to say he was home safe (well at the local takeaway at least!!)

I now have 6gb of film and photos to sort through which will be fun, but Im going to leave that for a few days I think - right now a day or twos R+R sounds good.

So, the big question - how many miles did we cover? Well, the driven distance was - 3929
Total Distance inc ferry crossing - 3979

I have been saying a few thankyous to people today and was asked on a few occasions "was it difficult?" I think on reflection the hardest part for me was to see the car drive away. Scarlett has been our home, transport and protector for the last 9 days and I must say I miss her already. She never skipped a beat just as in her "Roc-around-the-clock" challenge last year and although her front suspension and bearings were tired and the exhaust noisy on her return, I think I would trust that car to the end of the earth and back for reliability. They really dont make them like that any more.

So big thankyous to Andy for resisting the temptation of getting up in the middle of the night and leaving me behind, Scarlett for getting us there and back and leaving us with some fond memories and of course to our families for putting up with us both for the last 9 months.

Im tired now - Im off for a beer.

Monday, 15 September 2008

Look out UK here we come !

Having spent the night in a campsite in mid France at a place called Chateau Renault, we were up with the lark, or rather the duck as we were next to a river, packed away and all set to hit the road again...except for the fact that the nice lady at the campsite doesn't open the gates until 8am !. Having peeped out of her window and seeing our frustrated faces she must have had taken pity at the rather tired looking pair of Englishmen sat trapped at the exit, so she came out at 7.45 and after a jolly "bon voyage" we were off again and heading for Paris...again !.

Glen has taken the first stint at the wheel, but we will be changing over around Paris and I will be getting us to Calais were we hope to be able to board anything with a P&O logo that is headed back to the UK.

Mileage wise we are hitting the 3500+ mark and we still have around 180 to go before reaching Calais. Car is performing brilliantly and the fuel economy has remained at approx 32-34 MPG during the trip except for the trek over the Pyrenees which hit us harder and dropped the MPG down to around 28.

We are now down to our last 50 euro's and have one Jerry can of fuel in the "No2 Boot" (Trailer !).

Myself and Glen are quite tired after pushing hard for the last 3 days, and my back ache has not improved much since we set off last Saturday,probably due to posture in the car and several nights in a tent and a few in the car also.

We have decided however to apply to the Guinness book of records under the category "Travel (almost) to Morocco and back without the assistance of sunglasses" as it occurred to us today that throughout the whole trip neither of us has worn any form of shades !

Oh, yeah, if anyone is planning a "surprise party" to mark our homecoming, can they ensure that they have either Fish and chips or a Kentucky chicken dinner to hand, as both myself and Glen are starting to suffer signs of withdrawal due to lack of either for well over a week ! :-)

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Goodbye Portugal, hello Spain...Again !

We said goodbye to Portugal this morning, or rather we began to say goodbye to Portugal this morning, but it was quite a long goodbye and by the time we eventually crossed the border into Spain it was 15.35 !. We have now covered a total today of some 540 miles, with another 50 to do before we eventually reach our stop off for the night just north of Valladolid. We had a slight detour earlier around Lisboa when we decided to (unsuccessfully !) try and get a tour of the VW factory at Palmela were they are making the new Scirocco...it was closed !.

Today we have spent around 150 Euro's on road tolls, food,drink and fuel, and to be honest we are really hoping that the campsite we are heading for is A) going to be open B) have some room for us and C) be nice and peaceful !.

Graham and his family looked after us well for the last day and a half, and for that we are eternally grateful...especially the fact that he not only booked, but paid for the 2 nights accommodation in Silves....Oh the bliss of having a real bed to lie on :-).

In the morning we will be pushing on to clear Spain, then back into France for the last European leg of our challenge.Should be fun !

Friday, 12 September 2008

Scirocco (almost) to Morocco 2008

Well it was a tough call to make, but after travelling 1908 miles from Sleaford to Gibraltar with the intentiontion of sorting tickets for the crossing we spent around 2 hours trying to broker a deal for a crossing at a reasonable price. The result ? Not good i'm afraid, we were unable to get a quote for the two of us+ car and trailer, return to Any of the ports for less than 500 euro's !.The sailing from Gib was going to be far to late for our planned itinery as it was @ 19.30 hours on the 12th, so the return would have been the next day which was to late to allow for any possible hold ups to be considered.Crossings at Ameria were the same story, either booked solid,too late or more commonly, far too expensive ! :-(.

We spent 1 hour going through the Spain>Gib border crossing, sweating profusely in the 38 degree temperatures (No aircon remember!), popped into Morrisons supermarket (yes there is a morrisons there also !), had food and drink, spent more time attempting to source the elusive crossing, and then at around 16.30 we made the descision to call off the crossing and spent another hour waiting to clear the Gib>Spain border.

It was whilst we were being pulled over and searched that i had my little accident with the trailer. No not a crash, but unfortunately i decided to unhitch it after the search and allow Glen to reverse back before refitting it to the car.Good idea, except that whilst reattaching it i dropped the towing arm onto my left foot (isn't that a film title ?), resulting in what was believed to be a broken big toe and a very bloody and sore fourth one :-(. Up to this point myself and Glen had been considering one last attempt to seek a crossing at Algesera, but after my little accident, with copious amounts of blood and gunge filling my trainer we decided that maybe this was a sign to accept the inevitable and conclude the Scirocco 2 Morocco outward journey in Gibraltar.

As you can probably appreciate we felt a little deflated at this point, almost as upsetting as when Glen suddenly realised that he had accidentally left his best tripod on the roadside somewhere in the Pyrenees mountains !, but after having a chat in a lay by just after the Spanish border control, we concluded that what the hell, we only missed our intended finish point by around 17 miles i.e the ferry crossing to either Ceuta or Tangier, and that in terms of REAL mileage i.e driving onto the ferry, and back off the other side and visa versa, we were probably only going to be actually driving the car around one more mile anyway !....for 500 euro's...we thought not !.

After getting back on the road again we pointed the car North and headed for Sevilla, then Northwest to Portugal and then to Silves in the Algarve were a good friend of mine (Ex RAF and the best man at Teresa and I's wedding 20 years ago) now lives with his family.Obviously the condition of my foot (which by now was well swollen!) meant that i was in no fit state to help with the driving, so Glen did the 291 miles from Gib to Silves on his own...good man !.

Yoda (our TomTom 910 satnav) has been a little temperamental at times, and has on occasion caused more trouble than good (wrong info,out of date maps, kept shutting down due to a faulty recharging connection on the cradle), but proved invaluable in getting us to Portugal and avoiding having to plan the route on a normal map, which saved a lot of extra bother.

We arrived at approx 20.30 hours (Spanish time) 19.30 hours local, and were met at the local petrol station by Graham who had only just finished work a little earlier.

A possible problem with the clutch cable which was noted on the way to Malaga appears to have got no worse, but we have noticed a leak/blow from the front of the exhaust over the last few hundred miles.

We are now planning to set off from Silves tomorrow morning at around 08.00 and then push North up to the top of Portugal and from there, over the next couple of days, across the west of France with the intention of being in Calais around the 16th September.

We apologies for the lack of detailed info that we have posted, but this was due to technical problems regarding the frequent lack ,whilst on the move, of signal for the Internet, and also the fact that we could only use the Laptop for 40 mins a day on battery due to it only lasting that long !.

We must just say at this point, a great big thanks to all the English,Spanish,French and Portuguese people who have made this trip so much fun, and especially those who waved, beeped and gave us the thumbs up along the way.....really appreciated and gave us the lift we needed when things got tough.

Myself and Glen would like to say also a great big thank you to our families who have been so supportive of our challenge and have kept in touch constantly with us over the last 2250 miles.

We are both now looking forward to getting home...just a small matter of approx 1650 miles before that goal is reached, and this time we will make the crossing as the ferry is already booked courtesy of those fine people at P&O...why can't all ferry companies be so good ?

Oh yes.Just a quick message to young Joel Picker-Spence.How are you doing mate ? Hope you are keeping ok. Take care mate, keep smiling....like you always seem to anyway !:-) Andy and Glen.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Toledo to Marbella

Hi All.
Today we have travelled from Toledo to Marbella. We visited a VW dealership in Toledo and dished out some stickers but unfortunatly they only spoke Spanish. They did however recognise the fact that it was a Scirocco and directed us to Madrid. We could not afford the time so took a photo and headed towards Malaga. We managed to find a campsite - Bulganvilla just outside Marbella.
We have had plenty of interest in the car and challenge from the locals including net who runs a bar called De-ja vu in alveria. I could go on, but battery power forbids me. Either me or Andy will update tomorrow when we hope to either cross to Morocco or hear for home via Andy's friend Graham in Portugul.
Thanks for following our progress.

Greetings from Sunny ((ish) Spain !

Hi People.Sorry for the lack of updates on the blog, but we have been pushing on to get as far into Espania as possible over the last few days since leaving France via those big rock type things called the Pyrenees mountains !.

We stayed in a campsite last night called El Greco in a City called Toledo.This was absolute bliss as it was the fist time since we stayed at the hotel in Le Volcane that we have not had to spend a night couped up in the car...and believe me there is not much room in a Scirocco even with most of the gear in the trailer !.
Food wise we have been living on whatever comes along.Garlic sausage from France,Spanish sandwiches (?) and Erm....Spam and new potatoes from Sainsbury's.

We are currently in a lay by about 99 miles from Malaga, and when there we will decide if it is good to push on to Gibraltar to sort the ferry.
Regarding the ferry, we have had to make new arrangements due to time/sailing to morocco, and even now the challenge is very much uncertain due to this being a very busy period for ferry crossings, and the nightmare of trying to arrange the crossing whilst on the move...plus the fact that our Spanish is what you may term......rubbish !.

The scenery has been fantastic, it has however rained for most of the trip today so we feel right at home with that :-).

We have uploaded some pictures now, and will hopefully get more sorted soon.
If you would like to Text us call : 07900492460 (Text only as this is the laptop number) Ta!
Keep watching for more updates.Andy and glen

Sunday, 7 September 2008

650 miles not out.....

Hi all, just thought we would update you with some information on our trip so far.

Day 1 from Sleaford went without any problems. We had a good send-off from Bill Giles and even had a surprise appearance from Cpl Nauyokas who came down to see us off too.

Day 2 has seen us cover a total of 650 miles so far! We will update more info tomorrow.....battery is going flat.
Glen and Andy

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Back pain,rain and staying sane !

Wow, it's now officially the 6th Sept (well 12.29 am anyway), and what a day the 5th was.
It was the day that i cleaned,loaded and prepped the car...well that was until i pulled a muscle in my back early in the morning (trying to lift a rather heavy 5 year old out of his bed !).The result was that i was in rather a lot of pain for the whole day, and as a result of that the plans for completing all the outstanding "things to do" went out of the window :-(.
Having attempted to overdose myself on painkillers (hint...always read the dose instuctions BEFORE you swallow the tablets, not just as you are digesting them !), took 2 ibuprofen EXTRA Strong at once...supposed to be 3 a day..oooppps !.I popped down to Pitstop for them to fit the new front brake pads and the air filter (thanks again fellas !), attempted to pack clothes,update the 2 laptops, set up the usb dongle sent via Vodafone (thanks Vodafone !) and ensure that all the required documents were safely packed...not easy when it is impossible to do little more than shuffle along at snail pace !.
Anyway, i have had a bath, put on a wheaty bag and hopefully when i wake later this morning i will feel a lot better...i hope !.
Glen and Rachel are staying just up the road in Grantham, and will be meeting me at the show around 9..ish.
Off to bed for me now, goodnight !

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Another busy day at the office !

Wow.Phone calls, emails and letters are coming in by the bucket full at the mo, and yet there still seems to be a multitude of things that still need to be tied up.
Yesterday saw the car in the workshop at the Pitstop garage (Sleaford) having an oil change and fuel filter change....and she has to go back on Friday for new front brake pads (well spotted Pitstop!) and an air filter.
Today my new insurance documents arrived via email, i had a call from Darren at Vodafone, setting up the mobile broadband account that they have so generously donated to allow myself and Glen to keep in touch during our little excursion, and i printed off the details sent to me by those luvvly people at P&O ferries, who have allowed us a free return trip to France ....and back ...amazing :-)
I spoke to Paul from the Lincolnshire CO-OP yesterday, who has arranged to get a cheque for £200 sent over to us to pay towards the cost of the Morocco crossing......nice one !
Just need to write out a "proper" list now of all the things we will require during our trip..although i know that i am bound to forget something, forgetfulness is an attribute of mine...
For those that would like to track our progress, simply log on to this site and we will attempt to keep you informed of each days proceedings with a daily dairy...sorry diary..oopss !

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Only 7 days to go...time for a pitstop !

Well, only 7 days to go now, and still there seems to be a mountain of things still to do.I popped around to see those nice people at Pitstop in Sleaford the other day so they could have a closer look at the car and trailer.Many thanks to John,Chris and the fellas for assisting us with several aspects of the car including replacing drive shaft gaitors and supplying items such as batteries and other spares to keep us on the road.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Joel has a donor !

As you may have read in one of my posts last week, Joel, a little lad from Farndon near Newark, was seriously ill and was appealing for people to come to a donor identification session organised by the Newark Advertiser newspaper, at Kelham Hall last Thursday. Well, it is my pleasure to be able to tell you that Ann, Joel's mum, sent me a text on Thursday evening (last night), to say that a donor had now been identified amongst those who attended the session. This is fantastic news, and just proves how having these sort of sessions can help people such as Joel to find that "special person" that they so desperately need.I think that perhaps he has plans to be the third member of the S2M team also, judging by the way he jumped into the car when I popped around to see him on Wednesday night after work !. He especially liked the "Dixie" hooter and the "half car" that is attached at the back :-).Thanks go to all of you out there who attended the session for gave up a little time for this young fella. All of you are special and caring people, and one of you may be Joel's "Special person" that he so desperately needed.Well done !

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

RAF Cosford Meet a success!

On the 23rd August, Andy and I attended the Scirocco Registers National meet at RAF Cosford and Im pleased to report that the show went well.

The event had a stunning turnout of cars (41 in all) and Scarlett drew quite a lot of attention for the Scirocco2Morocco cause, promting several generous donations and gifts to help us on our trek. There are too many names to thank for their donations but you know who you all are - over £100 raised towards our drive - a heartfelt thankyou to you all.

There are still a few more details to tie up in the following week before we depart including sorting out insurance, preparing documents for our trip and finalising details of our two departure points. Lets hope it all goes smoothly from here....

Thank you Total !

Got a luvvley big parcel from the Post Office this morning which, on inspection, revealed a nice little selection of goodies for us to use in raising money for our challenge,such as a fleece,some adventure packs and a 1:18 model of the Renault F1 car signed by the drivers of the 2007 season.

This is another classic example of a company using it's initiative, so although it was not possible for Total to sponsor us for the cost of our fuel during the drive, they have still helped us along by way of the donation of some branded items for us to raise some cash with.

In complete contrast to some other fuel companies who could not even be bothered to say NO ! (no names mentioned, but they are M*rco and T*xaco !).

Total can congratulate themselves on being the most thoughtful of the companies that we have contacted regarding fuel sponsorship, and the goodies sent will definitely help us to complete our challenge.So well done Total, and the others?, 1/10 see me !

Thursday, 21 August 2008

I had something of a reality check today

It's a funny thing, but i was so wrapped up in all of this Scirocco 2 Morocco stuff that i almost (but not quite entirely!) forgot that i had leukaemia !. I suppose its because i keep my head so full of things to do, people to speak to and emails to write, that there was not much time to do the mundane stuff like consider your own mortality.....then my dad told me about an appeal he had heard on BBC Radio Nottingham earlier today and it gave me a reality check as to one of the reasons myself and Glen are attempting this drive.

The appeal was made by a young lad,6 years old to be precise, and he was asking the listeners to save his life. The sad thing was that he is amongst approx 16,000 people who are currently waiting for a bone marrow transplant to attempt to cure them of diseases such as leukaemia, and he was there, in a radio station appealing for someone to step forward and do the most honourable and magical of things...try to save him.

Donating bone marrow is not such a major thing as i was (as are most folk) made to believe.The hardest part about the whole procedure is finding the match, that special someone who is able to provide an incredibly special gift to a person that they may never have ever met before in their lives, and to me that is the saddest fact.That the "special" person could pass you in the street, live next to your home or even work alongside you, but unless they take courage,step forward and offer to be tested....they may never be found.

Joel Picker-Spence is pleading for his very life.Imagine just for a second it was your son,brother,nephew or friend,surely it is not to much to ask someone to take a simple blood test and possibly,just possibly give the greatest of all gifts....the gift of life.

This is the link to his story in the Newark Advertiser. Could you be that special person ?



Monday, 18 August 2008

Scirocco2Morocco at RAF Cosford

As you may have read, this weekend the Scirocco2Morocco team will be going to the Scirocco Registers National meet which is being hald at RAF Cosford.

The meet promises to be a good opportunity to raise a few more funds as well as getting some good photos of the car with others of its type - around 50 cars if all goes well! Hopefully there will be a chance to catch up with Andy about whats been going on although he has covered most things in the vid below I think - sorry to hear your feeling a bit under the weather mate.

There will be plenty to see on Saturday 23rd so why not come down and check it out?

Sunday, 17 August 2008

And now...a short video blog (Actually it's rather long !)

Oh no, the X-Factor is back on the box :-(. So it was straight outside for me, and time to do a little "to camera" work. Sorry about the ramblings, but this was all "off the cuff" stuff, and as anyone who knows me will tell you, i can talk (or moan !) for England if the mood takes me.

The video is a little long at just over 25 mins due to me trying to cram all the info into it in one go.......funny, it didn't seem like i was waffling for such a long time :-)

Anyway.If you can manage to stand listening to my inane ramblings for the first 12 or so mins i will then give you a tour around the car/trailer and explain a little about some of our key sponsors......that good eh ! lol :-)

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Scarlet goes to Sheffield to visit the Tigers

On Thursday myself plus 3 mad children (yes they are mine !) went on a short hop over to Sheffield to pay a visit to the home of the Sheffield Tigers, the Owlerton Stadium. We were met on arrival by Neil Machin, the owner of the speedway circuit, and after a short chat we parked the car up on display and then spent 3 hours completely enthral ed at our first experience of watching a speedway event !.A very good friend of mine, Sean (a fellow hospital walla) had arranged the visit, and he and his wife and 2 children made us feel most welcome as we enjoyed a drink and later some luvvly chips and mushy peas/curry at the food counter/restaurant.

The master of ceremonies announced our event later on during a break in the action, and at the close of the meeting myself,Sean and the kids gave out about 100 flyer's to visitors as they left.
Special thanks to the very nice man on the gifts counter (sorry, but i can't remember your name !) who gave us several stickers to put on the car, amongst them was my favourite "Speedway riders do it sideways"....:-)

Friday, 15 August 2008

South East departure set for Bluebell Hill....

I have been hard at work this week plugging away at various contacts to try and sort out a decent send off for the Scirocco2Morocco adventure. It looks like the local press are now on board, with a few local papers and journalists interested in covering our departure. I have even had some interest from local TV, although this is not confirmed yet.

The plan is that after Scarlett leaves the classic car show, she will head down to the Bluebell Hill Picnic site near Rochester - where Andy and Teresa completed their 'Roc-around-the-clock' challenge last year. Hopefully we will be all set for a grand send off by 5pm, by the press, friends and a few representatives from Macmillan.

Its all getting closer now, not long to go..............

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

And now a few words from Dick..........

Received this the other day from non other than that really funny fella Richard McCourt from the hit kids CBBC TV series "Dick and Dom in da bungalow".

It's great to get the involvement and support from well know celebs like Richard so we'd just like to say a great big thank you to him for this promo for our event. Oh yeah, just one more thing to say really........................................"Bogeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee !" :-)

Thanks Richard :-)

Friday, 8 August 2008

1 Month to go.....so much to still do !

Well it's now the 8th August and that means that we now only have around 1 month to go before we set off on our challenge.
Over the last few days i have been seeking more assistance from both local and International companies, and at this moment in time i am waiting for confirmation on a few possible leads. I spoke to a fella from the Lincoln CO-OP on Monday who seemed sure that he would be able to rustle up some sort of help through their travel service, so that would be a most welcome source of assistance, also i spoke to a lady from Vodafone based in Newark on Tuesday, and she was looking into the possibility of helping us to stay in touch during the journey by way of providing us with a couple of sims that would allow us to make free calls for the duration.I hope that this particular lead comes good as it is a major feature of our journey that we can chat to the press,family and well wishes whilst on the road, and of course these days it may also allow us to get online and keep our blogs up to date.I did take the car around to the Vodafone offices, and made a point of the fact that the red that adorns the Scirocco is almost the same shade as their logo sports..well you have to push your benefits don't you :-)
I have also been in touch with SNCF the french rail and (apparently !) ferry service,they have replied to my email and have forwarded my request for their assistance in crossing to Morocco to the relevant people although i have learned during the course of arranging this trip, never count your chickens until they have hatched !.
I also sent an email to Shell and Texaco(the fuel companies) a couple of days ago to ask if they would consider assisting us with our fuel expenses...no word so far, but these things sometimes take time to filter through the corporate systems.
A friend of mine at the hospital (Sean) has also managed to source us some last minute coverage of our event at the Sheffield Tigers Speedway arena, so on Thursday night next week we will be appearing (one night only !) at the venue.Hopefully at the very least we can spread the word to a few more people, and of course there is always the chance that we can secure some last minute sponsorship also...that would be nice :-).
Glen called the other day to tell me that the guys over at the Phirm (VW Specialists) had offered to give the car a going over to identify any possible problems before the off....trouble is that they are over (or down perhaps ?) in Kent, and I, and the car, are up in sunny Lincolnshire, so getting it down for them to work their magic on could prove a problem.....need to think about options on this issue !.
On the 23rd August there will be the first National meeting of Scirocco Owners at RAF Cosford. It's called the National meeting, but in actual fact we are expecting quite a few of our fellow Scirocco enthusiasts from over in Holland ,Germany,France and other parts of the EU.In fact i am sure that i heard that we may be getting visitors from as far afield as Australia, although, as you may appreciate, he will not be in his car :-)
More details about this event can be sought at the Scirocco Register website forums here : http://www.sciroccoregister.co.uk/

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Celebs to see off Scirocco 2 Morocco Challenge

Just got some information this week that the Annual Sleaford Classic and Vintage car show is hoping to boast some celebrity faces to help send us off on our challenge on the 6th September.

Apparently the well known TV meteorologist,weatherman and vehicle enthusiast Bill Giles, top TV Chef James Martin and Top Gear Presenter and journalist James May are all looking to attend, so i will have to get my autograph book out and give it a dust down maybe ! ....although if they want our autographs, myself and Glen could always sign a copy of one of their books for them :-)

We have now been asked by Heron Volkswagen if it would be possible for us to attend their launch of the New Scirocco, which just happens to be taking place on the 18th September, the day that we are due to arrive back in the UK and complete our challenge.

Details of the show can be found here: http://www.shcms.sleafordevents.co.uk/

Yesterday (Saturday) i took my three kids out for a small trip (!) over to Manchester.The reason ? Well we have at long last managed to locate a matching set of alloy wheels to fit to the trailer. Many thanks to Peter and his family for looking after us when we arrived, and also for the "extras" that he has donated to our challenge, namely shock absorbers,radiators,fans and even a spare carb !. Once again it has been members of the general public that have shown exceptional generosity in helping myself and Glen achieving our goal.....shame that some of the bigger companies that we have approached don't appear to be anything like so helpful....you know who you are !

You know, If i got a pound for every time someone on the A1,M62,M1 either pointed at us,took pictures or simply stared at our rather unusual rig as we made our way up to Manchester the other day,then myself and Glen would probably not need to travel 4000 miles to Africa and back to raise this cash for our worthy causes..mmmmm,now that's a damn good idea !

Friday, 25 July 2008

10th Anniversary of Air Ambulance crash

Tomorrow will mark the 10th Anniversary of the Air Ambulance crash that killed three crew members in Burham, not far from where I live.

On the 26th July 1998 the helicopter struck power lines and crashed in a field in Burham killing its crew - pilot Graham Budden and paramedics Tony Richardson and Mark Darby. It was the only fatal accident in the UK involving an Air Ambulance.

The picnic site in Burham where the 'Roc-around-the clock' challenge came to a close last year was dedicated to the 3 crew who lost their lives.

A tribute service is to be held today at Rochester Cathederal to celebrate their lives.

Rest in peace chaps.


Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Heron VW fix gearbox selector & local school donates money

Those awfully nice people at Heron Volkswagen have yet again proved what a thoroughly decent lot they are after taking the car in on Tuesday and fitting a new set of gear change linkage bushes !.
The old bushes appeared to have completely worn away, and this would explain why i was having great fun trying to locate first and second gears whilst driving. After Paul Stanney had identified the problem, he wasted no time in getting the parts ordered and the job completed.
Heron have been fantastic supporters of Scirocco 2 Morocco, and myself and Glen would just like to pass on our thanks (yet again !) for the help that they have provided over the last year or so.

Also, I would like to thank all the staff and Kids at Our Lady of Good Counsel school who today (Wednesday) donated a cheque for £50 to Leukaemia Research.The youngsters had paid 50p each to come to school in "civvies", and Mr Weldon, the about to retire headmaster, very generously donated the proceeds of civvies day to one of our charities.
The kids also got a chance to have a good look at Scarlet and her trailer after they went on display in the playground for a while after lunch. Thanks to the kids for asking me all those awkward questions...i just wish that i had some better answers for you !.....must do some research :-).

Wow...how busy ?

As mentioned in a previous post I had a bit of "a do" with a snapped clutch cable the other week. That is now sorted after Glen posted me a new one which arrived a couple of days later and is now fitted to the car.....jobs a good 'un !.
This week saw S2M's first outing into the big world of TV...well regional TV news, but still TV !. After ambushing Rob Sissons (BBC East Midlands Today) at a recent event at Kings MilHospital, and then sebsequently emailing him a few times, he phoned me on Monday morning to ask if it would be alright to pop over to mine and shoot some footage for the Sunday Afternoon news (not quite the news 10, but hey, from little acorns and all that !).
Rob arrived at approx 15.45 and after a brief chat we went into filming first an interview, followed by a few shots of me "messing under the bonnet" (ooeeerrr missus !) for him to use when he got back to the "cutting room" (getting all the TV jargon now you know !)......probably cut the ruddy lot :-). Anyway, this was followed by a drive around the local roads so that he could get some "in car" (a la Top Gear Stylee !), and some video of me driving the car along the road. The funniest part was when a local farmer took interest in Rob whilst he was lying down on the ground just in front of this guys field entrance, complete with flourescent jacket and large "professional" camera. "What are you up to then ?" was the question he asked of Rob, to which he politely pointed out that he was in fact lying quite legaly on a public road...and what did it have to do with him anyway !. The words "Get off my land" were,apparently, not spoken :-).
After about an hour Rob got off and it was " a wrap".....see, told you I was picking up the lingo !.

The story is due to be aired on the East Midlands Today news on Sunday PM.....unless something more interesting comes along !...just hope that Sunday is a boring day :-).

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Thanks to AutoStyle......but more sponsors wanted !

The latest sponsor for S2M is now AutoStyle Bespoke tailored car mats.We received the fantastic tailored mats for the Scirocco the day before the Waddington Airshow, and they really are a great bit of kit !.
Anton and his team have made a wonderful job of producing not only mats that fit like a glove to the Scirocco's footwells, but also bear the S2M logo on them to boot !.Clips are supplied to facilitate a more secure installation, but to be honest the fit is so good that i never bothered to put them on !.
Many thanks to all at AutoStyle for a great (and practical) addition to our list of helpers as we prepare for the start of our challenge within the next 7 weeks (6th September).

If you know of (or maybe have contacts too) any companies that may be able to help out with the completion of our challenge please feel free to get in touch with details. We still have room on the car and trailer for company logo's, and we can also offer links to your websites as an added bonus :-)

We still need help with:

Telecommunications (mobile comms during the drive)

Ferry crossings between Dover/Calais and Spain/Morocco

Breakdown cover (Just in case !)

Petrol costs...getting higher by the day :-(

Any other aspects of the journey that we may have overlooked.....probably !

As always you can also make donations to any of our 3 charities via our online donation page at:


Come on !...and help us to help others :-)

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Scirocco Scala....now with semi auto gearbox.....

It was bound to happen really !. Today was the last day at work for a week or two.Paul at Heron Volkswagen had emailed to say that the bushing for the gearbox selectors had arrived and was ready to be fitted at the earliest opportunity.

The sun was beating down,traffic was light, life was good and I was now on my way home after a short detour to pick up an anniversary card (Our 20th !)...then "CRACK"...and the clutch cable ceased to operate !.

After sticking on the hazards, and pulling over on the side of the road approx 10ft away from the entrance onto a very busy roundabout near Ollerton (I sure pick good spots to break down !). I decided that to prevent causing an obstruction to other traffic (And to prevent the chance of some huge HGV from shortening the Roc's rear end !)I would push the car up onto the kerb......not an easy job when trying to dodge fast moving cars with inattentive drivers at the wheel, and the small problem of a kerb that must have been at least 6" high !.

After a few goes I somehow got the car half way off of the road and then began the job of investigating the problem, which (to make a long story very brief!) involved dismantling the underside of the drivers dash and having a gander at the end of the clutch cable. This was not too difficult as upon removing the panels, the end of the cable dropped onto the floor !.....not a good sign as it was not attached to the rest of the cable which can cause problems when pressing the pedal :-(.

After diagnosing the cause of the failure i now had to figure out a way of driving the 33 miles back home minus clutch.......mmmmmm !

My journey home was interesting to say the least.Approaching roundabouts required a new approach, namely snatching the gearshift out of gear, coasting along and trying to ensure that my arrival at the said roundabout coincided with a Scirocco sized gap in the traffic.This was achieved in 90% of cases, but on one occasion a frantic stirring of gears, erratic braking and numerous prayers did the trick !.I was also attempting to contact Glen and Rachel to see if they could bid on an Ebay item that i had been chasing for the last week (a set of matching Alloy wheels for the trailer) , this auction was about to close in the next 10 mins and i would not be home to put a higher bid on as i was currently nursing the car back to Sleaford !
We got outbid, but i got Scarlet back home by 8PM...then found that i was locked out of my home due to the wife going out to pick the kids up from a party...Oh bliss !

The photo's below illustrate the broken cable, and the damage to my shoulder that i attained whilst pushing a 1000 KG car up a 6" Kerb.
Anyone got a spare clutch cable ?