01
Nov
11

Made Men

Having had a bit of time on my hands I took the recommendation of watching the American drama ‘Madmen’ It’s based in the late 1950′s, early 1960′s in an advertising agency. It is situated on Madison Avenue, hence the name Madmen. As can be the case with fictional drama they can take some time to get into and this is no exception. Once I was hooked I was hooked. A major appeal for me is that it charts the rise of the characters through the company, it helps to establish the characters and it almost becomes the story. It’s tremendously stylish with immaculate sets and suits and minute attention to detail, colour and furniture. There’s also the timeous purchase of a Mark Rothko by one of the firms partners, very apt for the time. These things all resonate with me and have led to an enjoyment of the series. I don’t think I would ever have got into it unless I had the recent time on my hands. I’ve tried to apply this attention to detail to my own work and being in a design office it can be a bit more relaxed about the way we portray ourselves. You don’t need to wear a shirt and tie, although some people can carry it off really well without looking as though they are trying to sell you a car. My friend Sandy probably is one who springs to mind who can get away with wearing a tie!

amazing promo graphics

In a post war era the architecture was bold and crisp and Miesian. There is a house that the main character goes to stay in which is quite spectacular which reflects this brave new architecture also. Examples of this style could be a house by Richard Neutra.

Kaufmann House, Richard Neutra

Kaufmann House, Richard Neutra

No further ahead health wise, keep fighting the fight. I know all my friends and family are thinking about me and want to come and see me but right now with the adjustment of drugs it can be difficult to get the energy. Love to everyone in the meantime.

28
Oct
11

Changes

I have thought too much about this post, it goes against my general approach but I have had a lot of time to think over the past few weeks. There is little news on treatment for the cancer and I have obvious concerns over this. I have ongoing complications and have lost far too much weight again since coming back from Portugal. There is no doubt that I may have taken on a bit too much but I just cannot lie down to this although lately I feel  have been guilty of doing just that.

I am writing this listening to a playlist I made recently on Spotify called my scotland. I started the list some time ago and have been building it up since, it was therefore interesting to see that STV have launched an initiative to decide on Scotland’s greatest album!  It wasn’t surprising however to see the lack of tunes I had chosen from the 70′s! Music has formed such an important part of my life from my first single which was Kids in America by Kim Wilde to still being an avid T in the Park attendee. I recall my first visit of many to the famous Glasgow Barrowland ballroom was along with my sister to see the communards, not exactly the coolest admission, but over the years I find it hard to recall turning down the opportunity to see anyone live whether I have been a fan or not. Probably the most significant being going to see Prince at Parkhead in Glasgow around 1992. He was poles apart from what I was into at the time which would have been more pixies/nirvana but looking back it is a ticket most people pick out in my collection and if was honest about the show, it certainly was different than what I was used to. My love of live music continues to this day and I was really disapointed to miss Echo and the Bunnymen recently at Glasgow Concert Hall due to being in the hospital again. Albums have become soundtracks to events throughout my life, radio shows became backgrounds to many late night and all night drawing sessions as I worked my way through art school for 7 years .

Looking back I have no comprehension of how I worked a full time job and studied for my architecture qualifications while actually keeping up a reasonable degree of social life. Recently discussing art-school with friends it was commented that it was sometimes forgotten I was a part-timer as I integrated so much with the full time students. I found that sharing long afternoons in the pub could be more fruitful during long hard projects than locking myself up drawing , sometimes aimlessly, at home. Discussing projects, listening to others ideas, putting over and validiting my own proposals helped build confidence and stopped me sometimes going off at a complete tangent which I could be prone to at times.

During years at Strathclyde and College of Building and Printing and the School of Art I met many lifelong friends. We seem to share the same ideas and aspirations, some became landscape architects, some became graphic designers or computer designers but mostly everybody stuck to architecture. The power of the internet and social networking has helped me reconnect with these friends who I might never encountered and it’s been amazing that i’ve been able to do this and that these people have influenced my life whether they know it or not.

One of my great friends Colin who I met at Art School has raised almost £8000 for The Friends of the Beatson it shows the great influence we can all have on each other. A lot of people feel helpless about what they can do but every little counts.

The Lanarkshire Business Group also held a fund raiser for friends of the Beatson, by all accounts this went very well. I will speak more about that in my next blog.

Since returning from Portugal my health has steadily got worse this has been due to blockages in my bowel am currently seeking the right treatment for this but it is proving quite difficult, I’ve been off and on many drugs to try and combat the effects which are generally a lot of sickness this is also causing extreme fatigue which has a knock on effect, I have also lost weight again. I am being well looked after between hospital and home but the road ahead is hard I will try to write whenever I can, which might be short, might be long depending on how I am feeling on that day.

It was really refreshing to hear from someone who I had a conversation with several years ago who remembered us talking about music and it was nice to hear that he had remembered that and had taken the time to wish me the best. Sometimes the small passing conversations can mean as much to someone whether a friendship is formed or not, by the way you interact and relate. It really is wonderful to know that you have made a difference to someone’s life no matter how small and insignificant you might have felt it was at the time. Even being told that you have influenced someone with music that they might have never have heard before is enough. Please have a listen to my spotify playlist, here is the link my scotland

03
Oct
11

pushing it

It was real touch and go whether I was going to push on with a trip to Portugal planned around Julie’s cousin Gary’s wedding. I had booked some reasonably priced flights a couple of months ago and with accommodation very kindly sorted through a good friend I wouldn’t have been losing out too much financially if I cancelled, but, aswell as being keen to get to the wedding, the thought of a week in the sunshine was extremely appealing to me. My recent stint in hospital was preying on my mind though. What would happen if I end up in trouble over in Portugal? I was feeling well, was eating better but by no means as much as maybe I should have. As the travel date approached I was feeling positive, I could always fairly easily get on a plane home as soon as I thought there was anything wrong, it is only a few hours from Glasgow and if i made decisions quick I felt I could avoid any serious problems and if I take it easy enough, the rest and good weather would be better for me than staying at home. The other side of things is that I really try not to let my condition dictate my life. Sometimes I feel I could just wrap myself up in a ball and stay in my room for a week rather than go out the door and the weather here doesn’t help much!

So, the decision to go was made, bag packed in half an hour, picc line cleaned and changed and whisked to the airport by mum+dad saving me leaving the car there and having to drive back late when I got back which was more of a God send than I realised at the time.

I have been to Portugal, the Algarve in particular, a couple of times previously. The first time was on 31st August 1997. I remember this well as I had been up very early, about 3am watching coverage of the Diana crash in Paris. Newspapers at the airport were reporting of the crash but there was no news on any deaths. On being picked up to be taken to our accommodation(a villa shared by 6 of us) the driver informed us how sad he was at the loss of our princess. It was a bit of a strange few days watching some of the coverage back home, I am no royalist my any means but certainly felt the reaction of the country at the time. That holiday mostly consisted of carrying on by the pool during the day and eating out at night. It was a bit different from holidays I would usualy take where I would always hire a car and travel about a lot, in fact I would usually travel about too much while on holiday! My next trip was about 3 years ago, a cheap package deal for a week which was great at the time. We spent everyday doing something different, traveling along the coast and up into the countryside to some lovely villages and towns like Monchique the area around which is called the garden of the Algarve. We ate out almost everyday during that holiday, thoroughly enjoying the fresh fish and chicken piri-piri along with some decent wine. My own curiosity dragged me to the bullring which was fascinating but I particularly remember just relaxing on the steps getting nice cold lager brought to me in a rather curious atmosphere, I just had to see for myself to make my mind up about the morals of it all but I am also fascinated by the culture of which there is certainly a lot of.

relaxed observing the bull fighting in May 2008

This break was going to be a lot different, it was all about relaxing, getting some sun and getting some space to really think about what has happened to me and my life since my diagnosis and this is pretty much what I did.

Having arrived at our accommodation around 7pm, our west facing balcony took in a tremendous sunset. It was an absolute joy to sit out in the warm air watching the sky change colour and thousands of what looked like swallows, play in the cooling breeze that arrived with the sun disappearing on the horizon.

view from the balcony

Having arrived safely on the wednesday night, the wedding wasn’t until the Friday, so Thursday would be getting settled in. First thing I needed to do was get some shorts as I hadn’t even thought when I packed that none of the shorts I brought fitted me at all! quick trip to the mall to get a few pairs to do me the week and we popped in to see the wedding party who were having a barbeque at the impressive holiday villa they rented out. It was back to the apartment after that were I watched some football and had an early night to conserve my energy for the wedding.

The setting on the beach for the wedding was sensational. A wonderful seafood restaurant perched on some rocks overlooking a sandy beach. The wedding ceremony was set up just outside and this is where the dancing was to take place later on. We arrived on time around 5 for drinks reception and the ceremony soon followed. After mixing and chatting while photos were taken the meal commenced about 7 with some speeches first and 4 fantastic courses including some amazing grilled sea bass and a selection of puddings on a huge plate to share. I ate well that night and had a great time mostly watching the revellers enjoy the food, drink, dancing and celebrations.

everisto beach and restraunt, the wedding venue!

The next day was spent locally around Vilamoura taking in the harbour and a return to a geletaria that I remembered well from my last visit. I opted for a mango and mint choc chip combo which may seem a strange combination but worked for me, after that we found a local beach and I had the opportunity to get my feet wet strolling along the golden sands!

I wasn’t feeling great on the Sunday and made myself worse by watching the old firm game but went down to the nearby pool for the afternoon and soon relaxed reading a good book almost until the sun was setting around 7.

Decided on a bit of a drive on the Monday taking in a few places we liked on our last visit. I was keen to see a theatre designed by architect Miguel Arruda in a town called Parchal. The building was nearing completion on my last visit and it was good to see the finished article although idealy I would have liked to have seen the building in full use at night. It is a very photogenic building with some lovely reflection pools surrounding it. An interesting feature is the retained industrial chimney with a huge nest on top, a feature which can be seen frequently around the algarve.

Theatre, Parchal, Portugal by architect Miguel Arruda

We then visited a small fishing village called Ferragudo which is a place I would like to go back to and stay for a week. It seems much less touched by tourism than most places but it may be the lack of beach. It is never far from a decent beach on the Algarve and I am more attracted by the quaint streets, the village square and the authentic restaurants. I was really feeling some fatigue this day and was beginning to experience some problems eating. We headed back to the apartment deciding to do something a bit less strenuous the next day, that being a nice relaxing boat trip!

It was decided on taking a 3 hour sailing ship along the coast to get an alternative view of the beaches and cliff faces. I really enjoyed the trip which I thought reasonable at 17 euros. The sailing motion was quite therapeutic and the views fantastic, didn’t see any dolphins though! A bit to eat on the marina afterwards with the sun setting was rewarding and I managed a fairly sizeable portion of pasta and was optimistic that my stomach would cope. I felt ok the next day which was spent relaxing by the pool again but was struggling to eat again properly. It wasn’t long till we were heading home so I wasn’t panicking at all.

Our ryanair flight home on the thursday wasn’t until about 8pm, so after cleaning up the apartment and packing we went for one last trip to the beach to get some last minute photos and then headed for the airport. By the time we got to the airport I must admit I was knackered. I had forgot how far we had to walk to the check in, the bag was overweight and I just wanted to get home by now. Julie struggled carrying my hand baggage as I looked on embarrassed! I won’t have a go at ryanair as it is what is although even if i was fully fit, this would be as far as I would ever travel with them as I just dont fit in their seats! The wait to board was excruciating and I couldn’t stand in the queue so just waited for everyone else to board. Paying £6 priority boarding wouldn’t have made any difference to me whatsoever as they still have to stand and wait like eveyone else.

Having waited to get through customs at Prestwick the officer looked long and hard at my passport before exclaiming ‘you have lost a lot of weight sir haven’t you?’ Being knackered I just looked at him strangely. I am obviously aware that I have lost a lot of weight and after a gruelling journey, probably looked pretty hellish. I was taken aback though. He went on to say the photo was only taken in December last year, again, something I am quite aware of. I just turned around and said “I have cancer, I don’t recommend it it for weightloss’. His face went a bit funny and he soon handed back my passport. I understand my appearance has changed a bit but I was coming back to Scotland, my home country, I had no problem or questions getting in or out of Portugal, so what was his point apart from winding me up a bit when I didn’t really need it? He certainly could have been a bit more sensitive and certainly a lot less suspicious.

boat trip

I was glad and grateful to see my brother waiting for us and I was soon back in my own bed and looking forward to staying there for a while.

04
Sep
11

1 after another

After the disappointing news on my recent scan and coming off chemotherapy and the trial drug I was on, I ended up in Glasgow Royal again last week after a few days of stomach pains. I had been to my GP last monday who had diagnosed gastritis and prescribed some acid inhibiting tablets. I should add here that I have recently changed GP practice following my disappointment in my previous lack of early diagnosis by my last GP. My new practice is also more local and I must say that in the few months I have been there the doctors and the district nurses in particular have been fantastic. Still in pain on Tuesday and unable to keep any food down whatsoever, I returned and was prescribed some strong painkillers and told that if it persists I will be referred to the hospital and after a tough night and continued vomiting this is what happened on Wednesday.

I was seen to almost immediately and went through a serious of blood tests and x-rays. The surgeon’s opinion was that I had some sort of lower bowel blockage most likely caused by an adhesion as a result of my bowel surgery. Apparently extremely common after bowel surgery this was considered the most likely cause. I was obviously worried that it may be caused by a growing or even new tumor. The surgeon’s advice was to get me on a drip and drain my stomach and see if things would clear themselves without surgery which is often successful and the best course of action. My alarm was the clearing the stomach which meant the dreaded pipe up my nose straight to my stomach, arghhhhh! If you read my post about being in the royal previously you will understand my hatred of this procedure and it wasn’t any easier this time. The poor nurse that had to carry out the procedure didn’t get an easy time. The first attempt was awful. After getting past my nose and I could feel it in my throat I felt totally asphyxiated, I just couldn’t breath and had a drowning sensation and it had to be removed. After a breather, I composed myself and we went for it again with more success, edging the pipe down slowly by sipping water and swallowing the pipe with each sip till it reached my stomach. It is just not natural, they can stick as many needles in my as they want but sticking that pipe in has to be the toughest thing and almost seems antiquated, I am sure there must be a better way and I just know that it aint going to be the last time it happens. I will need to get some sort of therapy and relaxation technique to help me deal with it!

Lying in hospital I realised it was precisely a year since my climbing trip to the alps. I recalled lying on the sun drenched slopes of gran paradiso feeling on top of the world, what a change in a year and I would say to everyone to grasp and enjoy these moments you get in life to the fullest, you never know when they can be grasped away, hopefully never.

approaching the Vittorio Emanuele hut on Gran paradiso

On a more light-hearted note, I was amused by some quality ‘Glasgow Banter’ in the bay next to me as I was being assessed. An older gentleman had admitted himself after his face had unexpectedly swollen up. His speech was a bit slurred but I thought at first this was caused by the swelling. The nurse asked him what he could have taken to cause the swelling and he went on to describe in great detail a square sausage casserole he had made and left out overnight and eaten that morning. The nurse explained that this would maybe give him an upset stomach or the runs but not the swelling, she then asked if he had anything to drink and it comes out that yes, he had been in the pub when this happened. Asked how much he had drunk the standard, “a couple of pints and a couple of halfs”, which, in Glasgow terms can mean a bit more than “a couple”. Now this is only early afternoon and it is then revealed that he only has one kidney! But, no, he insists it has nothing to do with this and reverts back to the boiled square sausage casserole. It reminded me of telling my mum how I had eaten a dodgy pies as I suffered from hangovers as a teenager!

Once in a ward and literally piped up I just had to wait and see what happened. I was to get a CT scan which would hopefully give more clues to the cause of the pain. Over the next few days the pain did subside considerably and things seemed to be moving better. The scan revealed nothing significant although confirmed the growth of the seedlings in my peritoneum which showed up in my recent scan. I was told I may get out on Friday but my consultant advised another night of observation as a bowel blockage can be extremely serious if not caught early. I felt as good as ever on Saturday morning and it was agreed I could go home although told to return if the pain or sickness returns and given more pills to take to help protect my stomach.

It never ceases to amaze me the variety of characters you end up in wards with. There was a 30 year old guy admitted on Thursday with a horrendous neck wound. ‘Allegedly’ he had been staying with a ‘friend’ who woke up and thought he was an intruder and proceeded to slash him and was millimetres away from killing him. His fairly relaxed attitude about the whole thing was strange. C.I.D. visited but he was giving nothing away. This was a real serious incident, attempted murder I would say but he insisted there was no fight, no argument and his ‘friend’ was sleeping walking when he did this and that was the story every one was getting. Very strange if you ask me and I am sure there is a lot more to it. It sort of annoys me the money and time wasted in an incident like this from the police to the nhs, it must be a huge cost. There is absolutely no thought given to this at all by those involved treating the nhs as a right and not a privilege. the guy will be ok, he is probably out by now and doesn’t realise how close he was to dying, I just worry about what the repurcussions will really be….

Resting up at home now I have hopefully seen through another hiccup and think that if it was an adhesion it had actually been causing minor discomfort for longer than I think and I had been putting this down to the cancer as i feel better than I did even before the major pain last week. I have lost a good bit of weight again and will have to address that. It is so difficult balancing eating the right things for my bowel, beating the cancer and trying maintain a healthy weight.

I was home just in time for the Scotland game yesterday and was thoroughly enjoying it until cheated in the last few minutes of the game. I really would love to see Scotland in a major championship. When we last qualified for the world cup I was still studying and didn’t have the means to travel to see them even though it wasn’t that far but I would certainly make the effort now and would love to see them in the european championships but this looks very much beyond reach after yesterdays result.

Those following my blog will know how highly I spoke about the facilities provided by the Friends of the Beatson and the wonderful people who run it. My good friend colin is doing a sponsored bike ride from Edinburgh Castle to John O’Groat’s on the 24th of September with all proceeds going to the Friends of the Beatson. This is a link to his just giving page , he has raised nearly £1500 already which is fantastic and thanks to all who have contributed. These are difficult times financially and I am blown away by people’s generosity.

I have also spoke previously about my involvement with Lanarkshire Business Group who are holding a charity meal and disco night also to raise funds for The Friends of the Beatson. There are many charities out there needing money but I have chosen this one because of the direct help I have had from them and want to try to give something back as they totally rely on grants and donations for survival. The few hours spent there can take away, even if it is for a short time, a lot of the stress, worry and anxiety experienced while an inpatient at the Beatson and having spent 4 days in the Royal this week I really would have benefitted from a similar facility. They have set up a just giving page also here for anyone who can’t make it but wants to contribute. I realise the timing of both events means there were will be a cross over in donations but they all go to the same place so thanks to all who can contribute no matter what it is. I am really humbled that I have inspired people to do things to raise not just money, but awareness. A few of my friends have taken part in charity runs with my friend David recently raising £1000 for cancer research running the Edinburgh marathon in just under 4 and a half hours and others taking part in 10ks and half marathons, thanks to them all these charities can continue to do the work they do and hopefully find a cure for this terrible disease once and for all.

Hopefully at some point I will be fit enough to do something meaningful myself. The Glasgow half marathon is today which I have run 5 times in the past. I loved taking part although I did find it extremely gruelling. There was always a few pints to be had afterwards to sooth the pain though, or at least put it off for a day!

martin, innes, tom, me and jason, george square pre race

I am pursueing options for surgery to treat the cancer which I will talk about in further posts, there are still chemo options open but I am hoping to be accepted for a new development called HIPEC which I will talk about more only if I find out if I am suitable as I there ain’t much point otherwise!

In the meantime I am concentrating on recovering from this weeks problems and looking forward to a better week and will try and get out for a walk today with the sun shining.

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22
Aug
11

hurdles

Due to the nature of my cancer it was only a matter of time before something didn’t go quite to plan. The results of my scan today at first looked promising as I skim read the report in front of my consultant oncolgist upside down. I have several tumors all of which seemed to show an ever so slight reduction in size and I was quite relieved, however, as my doctor went through report is seems an area of seedlings in my peritoneum, which is a membrane which lines the abdominal cavity, are showing signs of growth which unfortunately means I need to come off the treatment I have been receiving and move onto another form of chemotherapy.

I am trying to be as positive as I can but it is definitely my first main setback. I am feeling down about it today but I will be back fighting tomorrow. Sometimes you just need some time to let these things sink in and take time to regroup and assess what the next plan of action is. I want to be as honest as possible in this blog so sometimes it is going to be grim, you’ve been warned!

Apart from my own problems the world seems to have gone a bit mad in the past few weeks. Everyone seems to have something to say about the riots and with the massive media bombardment of CCTV coverage and debate shows I have listened to a lot of different arguments over why this happened and where the fault lies. The over-riding opinion is of widespread condemnation and on the whole I certainly share this view. I need to try not to be hypocritical as many years ago I was involved in protests against the student loans where I learned how easy it can be to get carried away in the heat of something which seemed to mean a lot to me at the time. The difference with the recent riots is that I see no political agenda in anything that has happened. One rioter was interviewed stating that she had no qualms about who she was robbing as these were all rich business owners who could afford to be robbed. I am a business owner and for a start, I am not rich, secondly, I have been robbed, and, even insured there are things that cannot be replaced. There is disruption and upset that can never be recompensed by insurance companies. Also, probably like many of the business owners affected and especially the 144 year old House of Reeves furniture business, I have spent years of hard work and 11 years in the higher education system getting a business to a level where I can make an honest living only to be decimated by the global recession.

There is no excuse for stealing, burning people’s homes and wrecking the streets of your own city. There seems to be a need and desire for instant wealth, celebrity and success without the years of hard work that used to be the accepted method of doing something with your life. Our country is obsessed with reality shows and talent shows that seem to be the accepted method of becoming a celebrity and making it in life. The current ‘celebrity’ big brother is a great example of this, full of reality show refugees. As those that know me well enough will be aware, I have been partial to watching Big Brother and actually enjoying it. I have also watched the pop idol or x-factor from time to time but can never say I have found the experience enjoyable and with my illness keeping me in much more on a saturday night than I am used to or like, I am scared I will get drawn into watching this rubbish even more. If everyone that stayed in on a saturday night to watch x-factor went out for something to eat or drink maybe this industry sector wouldn’t be struggling as much and maybe folk would enjoy themselves and talk to one another instead of paying to vote for whoever takes their fancy this year.

With Big Brother, I liked the concept and in the early years the contestants seemed to be on there out of curiosity of being involved in some sort of experiment but by series 4 I think things began to change with contestants being chosen to try to shock viewers by their outrageous behaviour and by their longer term star potential although I think there have been very few who have achieved very much.

Enough of my ranting though, I have plenty to worry about without ranting about tv. Since my last post I have been to a wedding in the church in Luss which is quite wonderful if you ever get a chance to stop and have a look inside. Luckily with my recent weight loss my kilt still fits me and I dressed traditionally although I am short of photos in my full regalia.

lodge in the loch, august 2011

The reception was held in The Lodge on the Loch on Loch Lomond and is a great venue with sweeping views of the loch. I was able to sneak a rest in our room between the meal and the band starting which let me last all the way to the traditional rendition of Runrigs Loch Lomond at the end of the night.

With Julie a bit worse for wear the next day we headed round to Campbeltown to visit her Gran. We drove out to the Mull of Kintyre with spectacular views all the way to Ireland. I couldn’t tackle the walk all the way down a winding road to the lighthouse but walked far enough to get the best views on a surprisingly dryish day! Also surprising was I had the best phone reception on the peninsula here.

me on the phone to big bruv steve with mull of kintyre lighthouse beyond

Other news involves a nice new project at work, planning submitted for my own new house and a wee holiday and wedding to go to in Portugal next month which I am seriously looking forward to! The setback with the treatment is a bit more of a shock to me as I was starting to get a bit more normality back to my life with my treatment now at home and I had managed back to a GIA council meeting and a visit to lanarkshire business group, both for the first time since I was in hospital. Nearly everyone remarked how much better I looked, I know they wouldn’t say I look awful but I genuinely feel better and have put weight on and certainly look better than before I went into hospital!

casa scarpadog

Writing this helps me think better and more positively. It clears my mind to consider what is happening and what I need to do next and how I can prepare to cope with it. I have great support from my family, friends and Julie and nothing is too much trouble for them. Sometimes it just helps me to write and rant on my own!

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04
Aug
11

jersey shores

It has been a few weeks now since my last post and the time seems to have passed really quickly. I have become used to my picc line and have now had 2 sessions of treatment at home using the portable pump. My last session was delayed a couple of days due to the neutrophil levels of my blood being to low. This was real borderline though and the level was back up again the next day to allow treatment to go ahead. Tiredness continues to be the main side effect and I still have problems with my right arm where my vein blew previously. I was given a course of antibiotics for this which didn’t seem to do too much and I am told this will just have to resolve itself. My track marks are improving and are a lot less noticeable now and my hair seems to be thinning a bit slower than previously. The date for my next scan is 18th August and really hoping for an improvement on things then.

I had my first proper break since falling ill a few weeks ago, spending a week on the island of jersey staying with my uncle John and aunt Celia. They have stayed there for a long time now and it is terrible it has taken me so long to visit. It was also an opportuniy to meet up with my old art school friend Russell who has now settled on the island and to take a nostalgic day trip to St Malo in France which I last visited on a school trip in what I think was 1982!

The island is surrounded in beaches and coves with watersports, especially surfing, being really popular. unfortunately, even if the weather was better, I wouldn’t be able to go in the sea due to my picc line. I love this little garrison house on St Ouen’s beach. Although it is known as the white house and looks like this in my pic, it is actually currently a pale green colour, painted by the national trust to raise ‘green’ awareness.

the white house, jersey

Currently being advertised on tv as ‘britain’s warmest place’, I was anticipating some sunshine after a disappointing summer so far and was encouraged as I few into jersey airport to beautiful sunshine and the view of many beaches and coves around the island. True to form though, this didn’t last long and the rain started the next day! Even when the weather isn’t great there is plenty to do and explore on what is actually quite a small island. Having been occupied during the war, there are plenty of remnants including an underground hospital and many gun emplacements and bunkers spread around the coast. I was keen to see some of these up close having been fascinated in them since a kid watching films like the guns of navarone and building lego bunkers.

german tower, les landes, jersey

Some bunkers on the island have been converted into holiday homes or seafood outlets. I prefer to see them in their raw state. Access has been restricted to abandoned installations by blocking up doors and openings, probably for health and safety reasons but some are open on certain days to the public. They are powerful, imposing and ingenious structures. Although having a dark past they are part of history and an important reminder of the conflict on the island.

Also worth a visit on the island is the durrell wildlife conservation trust where I enjoyed watching the orangutans make climbing look like the easiest thing on the planet and Gorey castle was a real highlight where i took part in some falconry. The castle has lots to see and has art installations throughout to discover including a huge sculpture depicting battle injuries!

sore yin

I spent a week in Brittany in primary 7, staying in a seaside town called St Cast. We traveled by bus to Southampton and got the overnight ferry to St Malo. I had never been out of the UK at the tie and it was hugely exciting, the highlight of the trip being a visit to Mont St Michel. My memory of France is of it being the hottest place I had ever been. School friends were getting sunstroke and sunburn and everyday was roasting. I still have some old photos but I am glad to say that my photography has improved slightly since then.

macaroons!

This time round St Malo seemed like the wettest place on earth. It hadn’t changed much being a protected historical area and is an impressive fortified walled city. It was enjoyable taking the time to walk around the walled city and watched the tourists going by while eating mussels, huge cakes and drinking wine. The shops seem to be very tourist orientated but there is a lot of great food to be found including some amazing confectionary.

st malo walled city

Unfortunately the holiday had to come to an end and true to form the sun came out the day we left!

Due to my treatment changing I had to cancel a trip to Donegal with my family and will hopefully plan something else with them soon. I have been to the house they are going to stay in which belongs to a family friend. It is near some amazing beaches and a good pub and I had been really looking forward to the trip.

Today, I am waiting on the district nurse coming to change the dresiing on my picc line which needs done every 7 days before heading to a wedding at the lodge on the loch on Loch Lomond. It is a while since I tried my kilt on and was surprised to see it still fits although I have had to draw the buckles in a bit! It will be great to get dressed up and I am looking forward to the day.

Planning to head round to Campbeltown on Friday but predictably the weather isn’t looking too promising again.

10
Jul
11

short one

It is now 19weeks since my operation, just over six months since I fell ill on christmas day and I am now six cycles in on my treatment. Some people say to me this must have been the toughest 6 months in my life, and they are right! I have had a picc line inserted to avoid the ongoing problems I am having with track marks on my arm and the problem I had with a vein blowing during my last treatment which is still a bit painful although it is improving. Now the line is in, which wasn’t easy, I can now take my more of my treatment at home and no longer need to be an inpatient for the time being. I have just finished my first cycle at home and all has gone well although I have felt extremely tired.

I haven’t been up to much since my last long post so I am keeping this one short. I have been to visit the new £74m transport museum and will be putting a separate post together on my thoughts on that but here is a pic for now:

riverside museum and glenlee tall ship

Been watching T in the Park with a bit of envy although the line up ain’t earth shattering. It all seems a bit big now and the crowd gets younger and younger although I always enjoy it no matter what the weather and miss going.

Me, big bruv Steve, and Christine T2006

I love this pic  from T 2006, a great weekend, hopefully I will be fit and well enough to go again next year, you are never too old!

A bit of a trip planned for next week, will be my first week away this year and looking forward to it and hopefully some sunshine and good food and some wine, will report all in next blog!

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