Sunday, 29 November 2009

A Hunter Horizon 23 - not mine yet

20-30: A picture of a small yacht - the Hunter Horizon 23. It has twin keels and is said to be easy to sail - with a self-tacking jib. The interior looks good too. I have in mind to get one instead of LA Girl. I have promised myself (and anyone else who listens) that I am not going to look for one until I have the money for my Southerly 95 in the bank! But focus on a different boat is a stimulus to get the Southerly ready for the market. The concept is to be able to continue to sail in the rivers of East Anglia -and also to go out to sea on occasions. Nice.

I am still feeling gloomy - and tired - but am going to focus on finishing preparations to sell the boat and then find something very pleasurable to do; shopping in Ipswich - or walking the beach in wind and rain?

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

- a price worth paying - -

20-15: Today - we have side effects - a price worth paying.
The feeling is less obviously physical - more apparently emotional than previously but based in the physical because I don't have the energy to deal with the normal things of life that (normally) keep me on the normal side of sanity.

I find it hard to write about it - it feels as if I want to run down the road - shouting and screaming and weeping and ranting. I do not have the energy actually to do this - so I remember lots of bad things instead and listen to music, thinking about relatives who are now dead - my father, Betty, Pauline, Michael (to whom I was married), my mother - it pains me even to write their names.

Yet - yet - I cannot deny
the black shadow by not writing about it - it is part of the experience of my life. It lurks and comes into the open from time to time, usually as part of the side effect of chemo-therapy. So blame the chemicals - and accept it as a price worth paying for being alive and for the good times.

And today we also had the sanding off of mud from the waterline of the boat (satisfying but exhausting). The wind blew, the sun shone, the tide came in over the river mud, I had chips for lunch and a friend got in touch.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Beware low flying Southerly 95 - -

15-55: Being craned out earlier today - at the excellent Tidemill Yacht Harbour, Woodbridge -

LA Girl gets lifted out onto the grass

15-45: This was very exhausting for me and all I did was wander around and take pictures.

The hard work is done by the crane and the marina staff. There were growths underneath (which have been washed off) and the propeller had so much weed that I am surprised that it worked at all. It has been photographed as an example of excessive weed growth! I think it was bad because I have only run the engine a few times since August. She is now chocked up on a grassy bank overlooking the river and will soon have a 'For Sale' notice on her. See Howard Ford's web page -

And yes - I am upset about selling her but it must be done and I will get another boat, which is some consolation. I came home because I could not face cleaning the deck and all the other clearing up that needs to be done. Also - it was raining.

Saturday, 21 November 2009


18-00: I am feeling pretty well just now - although I get out of breath. But the more I do - the better I feel - which is encouraging.

I started the new regimen for chemotherapy yesterday. The idea is that this keeps the cancer 'at bay' (in inverted commas as this is hardly a medical term). It is also intended to produce fewer side effects - we will see. Spent today sorting out boat stuff and taking the main sail off the boom - so I hope it is true that doing stuff makes one better.

Some individual pots

17-55: One of the things I liked in the ceramics galleries is that there is a mixture of fine art and ordinary wares. These are mass produced Chinese porcelain bowls and saucers made for middling households in Europe throughout the 18th century. Likewise the galleries juxtapose ceramics from the Far East, the middle East and Europe, which illustrates how advanced the Chinese and Japanese potters were in the medieval and post-medieval periods.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Ceramics galleries at the V & A

12-15: An overview of the part that has detail about techniques, illustrated with pottery from the collections. The picture does not do justice to the amount of information here.

I went up to London on Wednesday afternoon, stayed in Fulham with my son and went to the V&A at opening time on Thursday. I intended to stay for a couple of hours but finished up leaving just in time to get the train back at 15-30.

I first went to the V&A about 60 years ago with my grandfather - and recall the ceramics galleries from when I was slightly older. I then thought they were wonderful and I really feared the change would not do justice to the old galleries. I was completely wrong - the new galleries are spectacular and take account of research (historical and archaeological) done in the last 40 years.

One thing bothered me which I will write about in a later blog, as I do not want to detract from the point that these galleries are - - mind-blowing. Mind-you, you do need to like ceramics - - .

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Southerly 95 - LA Girl - For Sale

12-00: LA Girl - Southerly 95 - is for sale. See Howard Ford's web page -

Here she is at anchor in Wells-Next-the-Sea in July 2009. When sailing, she has a drop keel. Very comfortable and fun boat, which can get to places other boats cannot reach - - .

I give her up with great sorrow - I was expecting to own her for years and years (Shetlands here we come again). But I console myself with the thought of getting afloat again in a smaller - less breathtaking - yacht.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

my third cruiser - Iris May

19-50: Iris May in the wonderful Shetland Isles.
She is a MacWester Wight, a ketch with shallow keels and an enormous engine.

I have spent Monday and Tuesday (in reasonable weather) getting my fourth cruiser ready to be sold. I did feel gloomy this afternoon about the need to sell her; I think this is because I do not choose to have to sell her and had hoped for maybe ten years with the same boat. Also she looks rather bare without all my personal gear (all two car loads of it!) and it was very hard work. Focus on the likely fun in another boat - I do seem to get through boats rather faster than most people. And, dear reader, do not think this is remarkably energetic - I did it all at snails' pace and have done nothing else in three days.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

my second cruiser - Matilda

18-20: Matilda in a mud berth in St Andrews in 2004. She is a Hunter Liberty 22 - a tough and fun boat and I went from the Tyne to the Firth of Forth and on to St Andrews in her.

Today - I worked on getting LA Girl ready to be advertised for sail. This is not quite as gloom-laden as it might be - I am aware that I have had fun-fun in smaller boats. The weather is terrible - rain squalls and wind gusting more than I have seen for a long time - doubled up all the mooring warps and packed several car loads of gear ready to remove from the boat when the wind drops.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Update on cancer

10-00: After the misery of last week - a change to feeling rather better than I have for some time. It looks as if the combination of vinorelbine and carboplatin - the 'killer-chemicals' (so called by me because they are supposed to kill the cancer cells before they kill other useful cells) has had a beneficial effect. There are still cancerous cells around - but there are fewer of them - blurry and imprecise on the xray. The next stage is to have just vinorelbine every other week to see if that alone stops the cancer from growing - with fewer side effects.

I do not know what this means in terms of what I can do and how long I have to do it. The survival figures I have found on-line are bleak. (25% survival at the end of a year after diagnosis and 7% at five years - but these were for people diagnosed in 2001. I think care and understanding has improved slightly since then - but the NICE guidelines seem to imply that an awful lot more reseach is needed before there are major changes.)

Anyway - I am off the chemical-hook for a week and determined to go out into the fresh air although it is raining hard. Scrubbing the deck of a boat in pouring rain - probably not!

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Boat I did not own - but loved -

18-15: A catamaran at Wildwind in Greece some years back - the best place to sail cats - see their web site at:- I went there for many years - until I went over to the slow-side and sailed cruisers in the summer. This is here to remind me that great fun can be had in smaller boats - so that it is not too painful to sell LA Girl.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Replacing LA Girl (my Southerly 95) with a smaller boat

18-00: But not this small!
Here I am really enjoying my old Laser (sold last year) between the piers at Tynemouth - yippee - one of the best evening's sailing I have had.

The collection of 'boats I have owned' is due to increase - I am intending to replace LA Girl (my Southerly 95) with a smaller boat, a process that will start with the sale of LA Girl. I had planned to keep her for years and sail around the coasts; she was selected for that purpose. I now think it would be good to have a smaller boat to sail around the rivers of East Anglia - but it needs to be big enough to stay on in comfort.

I have a feeling that I should not do 'planning ahead' but at present I feel well again, after the lows of last week.

Monday, 9 November 2009

My first cruising boat: Hurley 18

21-07: This is a Hurley 18 - being launched into St Andrews harbour; the dinghy is almost the same size as the boat. However, inspite of its wee stubby keels, we had a lot of fun in it and it is presented here to remind me that fun can be had in all kinds of boat. We sailed it to the Isle of May in the Firth of Forth many times and one year I even crossed the Firth to North Berwick - where I was stuck for several days in bad weather.

Friday - gloom and despair -

21-00: I write now - looking back to Friday. For some reason - this was a bad day emotionally. Yet it was also the end of the worst of the side effects from the last lot of chemo-therapy. I basically felt miserable - and afterwards - one forgets the detail - so you are spared. It may also have been emphasised by two days working through a lot of old family photographs - of people long dead. It felt as if the Valley is there waiting for me to join them.

Also - car for MOT - and needing to be welded together - and lots of other trivial things that worried me then but are not now in my mind.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

this week

9-25: This week - no posts - the side effects of the chemotherapy.

I have not written this week because I have felt too cross but also I think this because it takes more energy to write on the darker side than about the the trivia. The side effects are wearing off today - and I am hoping they will be less up-front by the weekend.

The side effects are hard to describe; they are a mixture of feelings (largely bad temper, but also boredom, mild depression of the spirits, lack of good concentration) and physical states that I describe as 'fatigue' or 'lethargy'. I am not sure that these words do justice to what it feels like because there are also other things. One is that I either have no interest in food or I am very hungry. When I get hungry - I feel much worse - so have concentrated on frequent and yummie meals - and making cakes - I think an attempt to take some control over things. But otherwise I find there is no escape; if
I stay in, I feel restless, bad tempered and fatigued: if I go out I feel fatigued and ache and get cross.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

domestic trivia

19-00: And you know that I think domestic trivia can define the every day of life - so this post is not trivial.

I I have spent the weekend trying to sort out my flat. On Saturday - a short expedition to Homebase off the bypass at Ipswich to get three cheap shelves for storage. The rest of the day building two of the shelves and taking things out of boxes - and moving books and so on. I also cooked two proper meals and two batches of meals for the freezer and did the washing.

Today - lurked out of the heavy rain and wind until driven by desire to feel the wind and rain - and for a cappuchino - to walk along the river side. Built the other shelf and moved yet more things, froze the meals and perfected my list of things to do - including going to the chandlers and getting an MoT for the car. But I also sat around and read a boook and a Sunday paper - that is what bad weather does for one!