Tuesday, 31 March 2009
Just to remind you that this years Concert for life is being held at Rock city in Nottingham (UK), and starts at approx 5pm.Tickets are 10 quid in advance (contact me if you want some!) or 12 quid on the door.This year's charity event is to be 'Concert For Life' supporting the 'CLIC Sargent' charity building a home from home for families with children who have cancer, as part of 'Billy's Appeal.
To learn more about this event, just follow the link below:
Monday, 30 March 2009
What is Santa Pod ? Well, for those of you who have never heard of it, it is NOT a new device that apple are releasing this Christmas (Although there is still time!).Santa Pod is in fact a drag racing strip in the UK just outside of the village of Poddington (Northamptonshire) which each year hosts (Amongst other things), the GTI Spring Festival, or to put it more broadly, it is home for the day to thousands of VW mad people who come together to to look at,talk and drive...well Volkswagen's of any sort...but mostly water cooled (Golf's,Scirocco's etc,etc).
This year I was yet again accompanied to the event by "Mini Me", AKA Andy Junior, who of course wasn't too fussed about what the day had to offer in the way of auto jumbles, drag racing and picture opportunities.....just as long as there was a steady flow of ice cream, candy floss and sweets...and drinks, and ...you get the idea !.
After taking around 1 and a half hours to drive the 65 miles down to the venue, we had a quick look around the stands, then Andy announced that he was "Starving", so we went over to a catering van and after a wait for a couple of Min's whilst they cooked it, we tucked into his chosen snack...fish and chips!....at 09:12 in the morning!, oh well, kids know what they want, and once this one has his mind set there is not much chance of changing it!.
After our fishy breakfast, we then had a great time watching some of the members of the public thrashing their motors down the track, and occasionally blowing up their transmissions and engines! (one of the drawbacks of having a go at the "run what you brung" event!).We spoke to a few of the lads from the Scirocco Register, Gave Glen his new(ish) tripod to replace the one he lost in the Pyrenees mountains!, then popped over to the grandstand to watch the highlight of the day, the awesome "Jet car", which is basically a piece of fibreglass, with 4 wheels and to this is strapped a jet engine this = very fast 0-60...sorry 0-250, and LOTS of noise to boot !.I have some vid on my mobile of its run, so i will post this once i get organised...eventually !.
Anyway, got home just after 3PM, cooked dinner (roast beef and Yorkshire puds!), then settled down to watch Andy play on the XBox with his newly acquired game "King Kong" which he got with the £5 grandad gave him for the day out. Nice :-)
Of course, one thing that i do think about around this time of the year, is what happened in 2008, when, just after our 2008 visit to the Pod, we had our slight accident which resulted in the car being almost written off!. Better luck this year we hope!. Take care :-)
Friday, 27 March 2009
Due to her afore mentioned recent birthday, my wife is now the proud owner of a new Wii Fit Board (although she is having trouble getting on it due to it being constantly in use courtesy of the 3 stooges (kids), and was apparently reduced to tears (of laughter!) the first time she tried the hula hoop work out. I say apparently, as i was at the time languishing in bed with a touch of "Delhi belly" and feeling rather sorry for myself !.
Thankfully i am feeling a lot better today, and should now be OK for my daughters birthday which is tomorrow when she is expecting a new phone as her current one is "ancient", well at least 2 years old, but you know how the march of technology waits for no man......or even no 12 year old.
Happy birthday to you both anyway, and when i am feeling a little better i will show you all how do the Ski Jump properly ! lol.
Tuesday, 24 March 2009
Ask a sensible question....get a rather long answer !
So how much was that again ?
Telegraph.co.uk (March 22nd 2009)
Friday, 20 March 2009
BANG, and it's gone !
Apparently this was manufactured from an old home movie of a couple of mad children who's parent decided to video them when they opened their Crimbo pressies....the rest,as they say,is history !
Myself, i prefer the Wii ! lol :-)
Thursday, 19 March 2009
Before you say "well you were aware of the chance this may happen, and it did a few months ago..", can I just point out that WMG (Warner Music Group...you know, the ones who encouraged you to spend all of your pocket money on records,tapes and Cd's when you were a kid!)who have an annual profit of several gazzilion dollars (probably more!), are not exactly going to go bankrupt just because i have used (oh the shame of it..) a Phil Collins track in one of my CHARITY video's...gasp!.
In fact, i would argue that WMG may actually benefit from my use of the track and MAKE money when someone (who hears it on my vid) then decides later to buy the Album.
I think it is true to say that large corporations really excel in the field of alienating their customers, and playing the spoilsport with the large bank balance and the small heart. Maybe WMG could prove me wrong by donating cash to help some cancer charities find a cure for cancer......then again, sorry, i thought that they really gave a stuff about their public...my mistake !. Warner...Mean Gits !!.
Wednesday, 18 March 2009
This week i have been mostly repairing electric profiling beds (the beds that have electric motors to move the backrest etc without exerting to much energy) and the odd Dinamap (the blue or grey monitor that they check your Sp02 (oxygen levels), BP (Blood Pressure), temperature (erm...temperature!) and BPM (heart rate) with, or as Monty Pythons once said "the machine that goes "ping"...except that these go "beep" instead !
Not having to drive the 42 miles to work in a morning for the last fortnight, i almost forgot just what a joy it is (not), but as luck would have it, my return to work coincided nicely with about 3 new sets of roadworks, so i am getting re acquainted with my daily drive with out too many new surprises!.
Just time for a quick whinge (see, told you i was feeling better!), this time it is the drivers who think that indicators serve no purpose, or perhaps they are trying to save exerting themselves by not having to move that heavy stalk in order to let us other (non psychic) drivers know when they decide to change direction/overtake.All i can say is that i am glad that brake lights are not an optional activity requiring some thought from the soft pink thing behind the wheel!
Saturday, 14 March 2009
Wednesday, 11 March 2009
I was asked also by the Hospital magazine to write a round up of how we got on during the 9 and a half day drive for publication in the next edition, so i have decided to post the article that i have submitted to them in order that the folk that asked me for a run down of the challenge can at last get one !.
Anyway, without further yapping on, here is the article with a few pictures that serve to illustrate some aspects of the challenge:
Scirocco 2 Morocco 2008.
When Jayne Morton asked me to write an article for the Oakleaves that was approx 600 words long, I thought that I would probably struggle to achieve that target, but now, having had some time to reflect again on the challenge that was “Scirocco 2 Morocco”, I now think that perhaps I may be struggling to keep the tally low enough!...so lets just see.
One thing that I would like to say at this point is that the details about the trip itself would take up far to much space if I was to rattle on in this article, so if you want more in depth coverage of the challenge you may want to log on to our online blog at www.scirocco2morocco.blogspot.com for a blow by blow account of our adventure plus some video.
Ok, just to refresh your memories (and on the off chance that you were fortunate enough not to have been cornered by myself or Glen and persuaded to part with your hard earned cash!). Scirocco 2
The total time spent in planning this little excursion was around 9 months. The planning was first initiated in December 2007 over the Christmas holidays, and eventually concluded when we arrived back in the
The car, a 1987 Volkswagen Scirocco Scala had already completed one charity challenge named “Roc Around the Clock” in August 2007 when my wife Teresa and I had driven almost non stop (allowing for loo breaks!) for 24 hours visiting hospitals around the UK to raise money for Leukaemia research, so I guess that you could say that we had proved it’s reliability during that little outing. The trip to Morocco was going to be run over a much longer period, and, due to my bright idea about towing a trailer with us, some modifications to the car were required, namely fitting a tow bar plus electrics!.
The tow bar was picked up on an Ebay auction for the princely sum of £1.65, and as an added bonus the seller, who was conveniently located in Ollerton, threw in a few other spares free of charge to help us along.
Next, following a chat with a fella called Andy Walsh, of AW body repairs, we had the offer of getting the car, and after its manufacture by a company called ASMech in Mansfield, the trailer, fully resprayed for nothing. This was completed on the 5th April 2008, and all that then remained to be done was to take the whole rig over to a guy in Tattershall called Lee Balland, who very generously covered the car in its challenge logos for no charge.
In mid April 2008, just as things seemed to be going so well with the car and trailer resprayed, most of the sponsors logo’s applied to both, and the arrangements for our route well under way disaster struck…or to be more precise a small red Toyota struck our car as I turned across a junction in Mansfield Woodhouse on the 16th, en route to my parents house were I was to drop off my kids for the day. It was my fault, I saw a gap, started to move off without enough revs on, the car started to stall, and I was then hit on the left hand quarter of the bonnet by a chap coming the other way.
After the initial shock was passed, along with my insurance details, I found myself looking at a rather sad looking car parked on my parents driveway, and I was now faced with having to make a phone call to Andy Walsh to tell him that at this point it looked like the fantastic job he had done for us repainting the car was in real danger of being all in vain as I was pretty sure that due to the cars age it would be written off by the insurers.
I can honestly say that the wait for Andy to pick up the phone seemed like the worst few seconds of my life. How embarrassing to have to tell him what I had done to this (up until this point) shiny “as new” car.
I need not have worried as having explained to Andy the damage that the car had suffered, he immediately began to arrange to get the old girl back to his workshop in Sleaford to see if he could save her. He managed to do this, and for that I will be eternally grateful to him and his staff who, after myself and Dave Howell (yes, that is Dave from the I.T dept!) had sourced a donor car in
Eventually the day arrived for the challenge to begin and after meeting up with Glen who had travelled up from Kent the night before with his wife, we set off from the Sleaford Vintage and Classic car show on the 6th September at 1:15pm, waved off on our merry way by friends and family, Nookey Nauyokas (Bad lad’s army’s corporal Nauyokas) and Bill Giles the weather man.
After a drive “Daan Saaath” along the A1 we arrived at the ferry port an hour early after first stopping off at Glens home to pick up a few supplies and feed the cat, then after boarding the ferry we decided to have one last taste of great British cuisine in the ships restaurant before we settled down to our rather bland food menu for the next 9 or 10 days….and boy, that chicken tikka was sooo good!.
After leaving the boat at around 9pm we spent our first night in the car before setting off the next day and heading south through France, accidentally passing through Paris (oops!) after our satnav (that we came to know a Yoda due to the voice that we opted to use to tell us the directions) became a little confused when faced with a large amount of road works around the capitol and went on strike!. We stopped at an area just below Paris called Volcane then, the next day we made our way across the Millau viaduct which is a huge bridge along the Paris to Barcelona super highway that spans the Millau Valley, designed by the Englishman Sir Norman Foster and which was featured on a recent Top Gear show a while back when the lads drove 3 supercars across Europe. We then drove across the
Any old port in a storm!
Sorting out accommodation during the trip was something of a hit and miss affair. On arrival in France on the first night we found ourselves parked in a lay-by at a service station about 25 miles from Calais as a plan to stop over at a town called Marquette-les-Lille (Sleaford’s twin town) had fallen through at the last minute, and we had no time to make other arrangements. Having badly pulled my back on the morning of the challenge this was not the ideal situation, and Scirocco’s are definitely NOT the most comfortable of cars to try and sleep in !.The rest of the trip after this first night of torture was a little more civilised and consisted of a mix of campsites and hotels (I preferred the hotels!).
Food wise, until our arrival in
It’s all going terribly wrong.
We had decided not to book the ferry in advance as it would mean that if the car broke down, we would not be able to get a refund, so we decided to wait until we pitched up in
Myself and Glen just after the trailer on the toe incident !
As I mentioned, it was not until the inward journey as we reached Silves on the Algarve in Portugal (An ex RAF friend of mine named Graham lives there with his Portuguese wife and step daughter) that we managed to get any “ethnic” food, although due to Glen’s problem with his Crohns disease he had to be a little careful of being too adventurous. The food in
Show me the way to go home…please!
We continued our drive back to old blighty after our days rest in Portugal and headed north towards Lisbon, then once we had left Portugal and entered Spain we made our way up to Santander, across the Pyrenees for the second time in a week, we then stopped of in a campsite in Burgos before loading up the tents the following morning and heading towards France.
We were a couple of days early as we made our way towards Calais, so we made a call to P&O (who had given us a free return crossing) and asked if we would be all right to catch an earlier ferry, due to the fire that had occurred in the Channel tunnel a few days earlier they had a few problems finding us a space, but eventually a crossing was found, and we set off on the final sea leg of the event at 16:05hrs (local) on the 15th September.
After an uneventful crossing it was up the road 40 or so miles back to Glen’s for a cuppa, then after unloading his gear, we said our farewells and I then completed the last 120 miles back up to Lincolnshire, arriving back home at about 10:15pm complete with a Chinese meal which I had picked up on the way…ahhh, home cooking at last!.
Results of the Scirocco 2
challenge 2008? Morocco
We covered 3979 miles in 9 and a half days in a 21 year old car pulling a 19 year old trailer. We managed to raise a little over £5000 that was shared between the 3 charities mentioned, and I had terrible back ache for weeks afterwards!
Can I just say a great big thank you yet again to all of those people who made this challenge possible. From Andy Walsh and all at AW accident repairs who sorted out the car twice for me, to Lee Baland who did all of the graphics on the car for nowt (again!), Pitstop and Heron Volkswagen who provided Garage services gratis, and lastly, everyone who helped us out in all manner of ways, from donation of parts, to donations of sponsorship money. Without the generosity of so many individuals and companies, we would not have got off of my drive, never mind (almost) to
We did it for Joel.
During the preparations for the challenge I was made aware of a little lad who lived over in Farndon (near
I met little Joel and his mum Ann and told her about our Scirocco 2 Morocco trip, then, after explaining why I was unable to register as a donor myself, I offered to post things on our website about Joel’s appeal, and to apply logo’s onto the cars bodywork to promote the work of the Anthony Nolan Trust, who are a charity that help to seek, identify and recruit people to the bone marrow donors register.
Ann was really grateful for the offer, and she even managed to dig out some stickers to apply to the car. Glen and I kept in touch with the family on the lead up to the drive, during our trip, and also after it was completed, we even brought Joel a gift medallion back from the Millau viaduct, and told him that when he grew up perhaps he would get the chance to go and see this amazing piece of architecture. Little did we know at that point that this was tragically never going to happen.
Joel was only 6 years old when he died on the 10th November 2008. His leukaemia was too aggressive for him to receive a bone marrow transplant, even though the Anthony Nolan Trust had found him a 100% match. I remember that all through our trip we had been in touch with Ann (Joel’s mum) to keep up to date with his progress on the lead up to his transplant. Up until the 19th September, a few days after our return to the
Could you be that special person?
As this article goes to press I would like to ask you to consider volunteering to become a member of the Anthony Nolan trust bone marrow register when clinics are held at
As one mother put it when her daughter died of leukaemia a few months ago, “Johanna campaigned ferociously to raise awareness of the need for people to join the Anthony Nolan register. The Anthony Nolan trust gave us hope for 12 years, the charity never failed to find her a match – her match simply just didn’t join the register.”
Please consider becoming a member of the register, and there is just a possibility that you may be able to give someone the gift of life, and hope were there is fear. Thank you.
To read this story follow this link to the Peterborough Evening Telegraph site here:
I took the family MPV in to the repair shop well over a week ago and as a result was given a loan car for the time it was in there. Imagine my surprise then, when arriving at the premises, to be met by a man in a Jaguar X-Type!. In the past, loan cars had come in the shape of such awe inspiring models as Ford Fiesta's, Vauxhall Corsa's or Nissan Micra's, so it was a bit of a shock to find such a "Prestige" vehicle being put at my disposal for the duration of my cars repair.
Now I have always liked Jags, don't really know why, i just have, so to have one for any amount of time was great, although it turned out that the saying "Never meet your hero's because you will always be disappointed" is as true for motor cars as it is for people!
Why was I so let down? Well for a start as an engineer i tend to look at cars in a different way to say an accountant. The build quality was not as good as i expected, with parts such as the boot and bonnet lids feeling rather flimsy and on a few occasions i found that they took a couple of go's to make them shut fully. The dash moulding was not a great fit, and the grille with the historic Jaguar symbol sitting proudly on it was a very cheap looking plastic affair that i was sure would fall off every time i closed the bonnet.
On the plus side, the car (which was a diesel 2.2Ltr) managed to return around 40Mpg on a run, was smooth, and VERY quick :-).
Would I now, having had the car for almost 2 weeks (and If i had the money!) be prepared to spend £23,000+ for it? No, would be the answer. looking beyond the Jaguar brand, and the images that this evokes, it is really nothing more than a Ford Mondeo with breeding, probably driven by people who think that image is more important than content.
Anyway, hopefully now my boring, but functional (and cheaper than a Jag!) Hyundai Trajet will be returned to us later today, and i will be able to breath a sigh of relief that my three sproggswont be sat on those expensive leather seats in the Jag, munching crisps and chocolate!, and of course, the next time i see someone driving past in one of those "Big cat" cars with their airs and graces, i can be happy in the knowledge that on this occasion i was rather disappointed when i met one of my automotive hero's......and this will make me much less jealous of the geeza behind the wheel :-)
Monday, 9 March 2009
Back to my doctors today after the antibiotics i was given last Tuesday appear to have had little or no effect, i am now on another weeks worth of a different brand, so lets hope that these have a more positive action on this annoying chest infection that i am currently enjoying.
Still not got my blood results, but having spoken to my GP, i am assured that they will arrive by the end of this week....honestly ! :-).
Anyway, as i was also given a "sick note" for another week, i will try to get some rest (well i will try !), and hope that the pills can stop this constant cough and feeling of congestion. I suppose that on the plus side, i will have a chance to update this blog and treat you all to my words of wisdom and humour.....lucky you !
Tuesday, 3 March 2009
Going back to 2006 (no, i am not Dr Who !) when I was first diagnosed with CLL (Chronic Leukaemia), i was asked to attend Grantham hospital every 4 months so that i could have a blood test and then have a chat to my consultant about the results of said test.
Almost immediately I found that "my consultant" was never actually at the hospital when i had an appointment, and sadly when the lady left some 2 years later i had not had the chance to even meet her to say hello !.
The next issue is that after my tests (which i had done at Grantham hospital) were moved onto a 6 monthly footing (i was asked if i wanted to stop having them completely, but declined the offer....how i love needles !) i found that having the blood taken at a different venue (my GP's surgery or the hospital that i work at during the week) seemed to be something that caused a severe breakdown of the "system", when A) it took ages to get the results, and B) If i did not ask for the results, no one ever took the initiative and called with them. The most recent example of this was when, during a period of feeling "wiped out" just before Christmas, i visited my GP and was advised to go and get my (then due) blood test done.The surgery could not get the bloods taken there as they were busy until the 29th December, and as i was due to return to work at the hospital on the same day, i arranged to have the bloods taken at King's Mill (to save me having to miss half a day by having it done at the surgery). The sample was taken in the morning at around 9.30 am, and i remember asking if the results would be passed on to me via my GP to which the answer was in the affirmative.......yes ! :-).
This seemed like a logical answer as the surgery address was on the sample request form......but apparently this was not so !. I also asked if the surgery would contact me if there was a problem that needed to be addressed, and again the lady advised me that she would expect this to be the case, which again seemed to be the expected procedure.How wrong can you be ?
Fast forward to today, 3rd March 2009 and I am at the GP's again, this time due to a chest infection. Before leaving i enquire as to the results of the test on the 29th (i explained that i had assumed up until this point that"No news is good news", yet again...wrong!).
My GP then explains that they do not have any results on record. "Who did the tests ?" i was asked , "The hospital that i work in in Nottinghamshire" i replied. "Ah, well then we will have to request them to send us the results via fax then" she continues and promptly writes down the surgeries fax number for me to pass on to the hospital.
Quarter of an hour later i am on to phone to the hospital explaining the situation to one of the staff members of the Phlebotomy dept, but when i ask her to fax the results to my GP i am told that it is against hospital policy to fax results, and instead i will need to get the GP to phone them and speak to them in person to find out the results.
After the chat with the hospital i then call the surgery again and pass on this information to the receptionist asking if she can get the doctor to do this.
Now i work for the health service, and believe it to be an excellent service, but i can't help but feel that somewhere along the way things have got a little "over complicated", and that it appears that the process of communicating results to patients (i.e me !) seems to be lacking any sort of structure.
So, is it just me, or have other people had similar experiences in regard to finding out the results of their blood tests ?
By the way, all through my consultations with my "consultants" (about 3 different ones so far!), never have they really sat me down and explained what all of the markers that are highlighted in my test results mean....so i assume that it's going to be a case of "go away and we will see you in 6 more months" if everything is "behaving itself", or "We need to put you on medication" if its not. Having been on other leukaemia forums on the net, it strikes me that many sufferers (most notably in the US) appear to have a much greater understanding of their illness, because someone has bothered to explain it to them in great detail.......then again it appears that as is common with a lot of hospital patients in the UK...they are the one of the last people to know anything.......but good for sorting out result requests !