Friday, 31 December 2010

The year in Woodbridge

9-15 hrs: It may seem strange to summarise a year as a graph - but hey  - I have a PhD in economic history - so can think graphs.

The source - I started to try to score how I felt on my own scale in December last year as a way of keeping track of progress (or otherwise). Each day I have put a number (which I decide on based on a list of definitions of things I think encapsulate my well being) as to how I feel in a spreadsheet - which allows me to draw lots of graphs - and stare at them from time to time. The black line is a 14 day moving average. 

The interesting thing is that it does reflect the year. The  three spikes down were (starting from March) a couple of days feeling ill, some hay fever and a finger infection. The big dip in July was when the chemo therapy stopped working. The rise was when the new medication (Tarceva) started to work, and has allowed my life to be more interesting and more varied.

It also shows that life was more of a roller-coaster in the earlier part of the year, related to fortnightly doses of poisonous chemo-therapy drugs. With Tarceva there is more of a plateau with smaller ups and downs (largely due to periods of 'overdoing it' punctuated by lazing around.) The best thing I have found to do of late is to write serious documetation for the Joomla! Documentation project - of which more in another post. This exercises the brain. I go to the gym and do a lot of walking around - which keeps the outer part of the body exercised.

I have not 'recovered' or been given my life back in the sense of living as I used to (ie having a large boat and going to the Shetlands!) or being able to rush around as I would like to do. But I have a small and nippy boat, and I have found a happy way of life here.

So - happy new year people - and thanks for reading my blog and for your responses at various times.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

More weather

18-00: Same place - lower tide- different weather. It was even foggier today and it is due to last for several more days.

The good thing is that I have gone walks but not as far as I would in sunshine. So am pushing on with the Joomla! project.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

More season's greetings

11-00 hrs: This was the view of the Deben that I came across as I came up to the river wall last Monday. It was breathtaking and the picture does not do it justice. It is a proper winter scene to wish everyone a good holiday. 

The river path is now open again and I am intending to walk through this view when the sun comes out - but with mud and no frost.

Later - There is still ice in the woods. I had a lovely walk through some woods and then along the whole length of the river wall.  Managed not to over-eat (yet) and have done a lot of writing and playing with screen images and layouts using Wiki-media. A happy day.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Food between the ice blocks

21-45 hrs: The ice has more or less gone today - very glad to have seen it yesterday. Black-tailed Godwit gets lucky.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Ice and mud

9-20 hrs: Ice forms over the mud at low tide - some mixed with snow. We wondered what happens when the tide comes in - does the ice float or does the water run in over the top. As the rising tide was during darkness this week - I did not observe it. But I do offer the picture to show what seems to happen.

The tide comes in and lifts some of the ice and breaks it up. This is carried upstream and  downstream on the tide. When there is no obstacle - it floats off downstream or melts. When, as in the picture, there is something  in the way, the ice stays put in large slabs. Some ice seems to stick to the bottom and get covered in mud after a couple of tides. The process leaves a lot of mud for the birds and some ice for us to look at.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Happy winter festivals to everyone

19-20 hrs:
This is my Christmas and New Year card to everyone - because I have not sent cards this year - for reasons of sloth. But I  am now saying it is because of the weather.

It is the pattern on my curtains - I bought the fabric a long time ago - when I was a post-graduate student. And I have hung them in various places and they always look great. So in sending you this - I am sending something with meaning - and thinking of you all during the next couple of weeks as we move into a new year.

It is snowing just now and has been cold here. But nothing like as snowy and cold as elsewhere. My boat is out of the water and has a layer of ice and snow on it - and I had even planned to sail it in December - before the weather started.

Monday, 13 December 2010

17-15 hrs: I have just noticed a whole week since I last posted. All well here - just have not turned to the blog this week. Most of my time was spent writing Joomla! documentation and then feeling too mind-blown to write anything else. And the usual trips to the gym and the supermarket. I also decided to have the boat lifted out of the water as the weather looks set to continue unwelcoming for sailing - so more boat-clearing.

I gave a talk to the Deben Yacht Club about whether it is really scary and lonely to sail by oneself. It was really an excuse to look at my pictures again:-

Sunday, 5 December 2010


16-00 hrs: Looking left and right along the Thoroughfare in Woodbridge. As I have reported before - people around here know how to enjoy themselves! I had hog roast for lunch from a stall - - and the snow has melted.

Friday, 3 December 2010

11-25 hrs; Lookfar in snow which seems a lot for Woodbridge. It shows that I have not risked myself by going onto the pontoon - and also that I am not going to do a lot of sailing just now. The marina is starting to freeze over - helped by the layer of snow.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Woodbridge in snow and cold

17-20 hrs: boats not going anywhere from the sailing club boat park - my Laser is in the first row. My talk about sailing single handed has been put off until next week. Lookfar is covered in snow and I am not going onto  slippery bits until it all melt - annoyingly I did not get a cover over her (not expecting snow at this time as this is supposed to be the balmy South).

There has not been as much snow and cold here as there has been further north - which is something - not sure what - snow can be amusing if one has masses of thermals and no urgent things to do.

I was tired after the excesses of CISP - and have tended to do no more than go to the gym, browse around the web (mostly geology) and walk along the river to the coffee bar - not an unpleasant way of life.

Friday, 26 November 2010

CSIP 20th Anniversary Conference

18-35 hrs: CSIP(Cetacean Stranding Investigation Programme). Just back from a day in London Zoo - to celebrate (by eating and listening to papers about Cetacean strandings) its 20th anniversary.  I was - as you might guess - involved (with a colleague) with developing a database and a web front-end - and work is continuing to include more data and more features.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

What is the similarity between the Tardis and Lookfar?

21-10 hrs
The similarity is that they both hold a lot more inside than it would seem possible from the outside.

I cleared out most of the things left in Lookfar today - and it looked as if I had cleared out a Tardis - there was so much stuff. I wonder if the Doctor ever clears out his vessel - - .This is also proof - if proof is needed - that I watch too much TV. 

I have left Lookfar so that I can sail over the winter if the tides and the weather are ever right at the same time. Today - cold and not enough wind, and the tide high too early in the day.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

The week in Woodbridge

12-26 hrs:
Back to the trivia of everyday life when I returned from London - no pictures can adequately  illustrate this. The trivia are, however, important in that they make up the fabric of life. And there were lots of them this week - adding up to enough to stop bordom - but I have also felt quite tired on occasions. Dentist - sailing club AGM - the gym three times - geology group on the Ordocivian (and some preparation for this) - a cold walk along the gravel beach at Shingle Street to collect pebbles - work party at the sailing club (this week a bonfire, it was very hard work dragging large branches around) - visit to the oncology counsellor in Ipswich. And non-trivial  phone calls to  my uncle John (who is ill) and my cousin

The main thing at the back of my mind is the 'Joomla! Project' - thinking out how to write documentation to get people started using Joomla - some progress in the thinking but none in the writing!

Friday, 12 November 2010

I get to Mornington Crescent

9-45 hrs: Not everyone gets here.
I walked from Camden - the Rules do not say how you get from one place to another - so maybe it is a new rule that you have to walk!

Followers who haven't a clue what this is about - you have to hear it played - look at the wikipedia article. 

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

In Woodbridge - and Joomla!

8-45 hrs: The Joomla! icon. Open Source Matters. I have not used Open Source software before and find the enthusiasm on the web sites - interesting. Found these two concepts in several places - the Joomlasphere and Joomla ecosystem / ecology. I guess I am part of the ecosystem now - - pause for thought about metaphores - - .

Coming back - I feel enlivened and well. So life has been a combination of the usual domestic trivia (taxing the car, paying bills, putting out the rubbish, going to the dentist and so on) and trying to sort out my understanding of Joomla. I am moving ahead to do some work on documentation for beginners for the Joomla! project itself. Whether I have the skill and energy - we will see but I think the project will expand to fill the time and energy available - especially in horrible weather. And who are the beginners anyway - -.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Leaving Newcastle

8-50 hrs: The London-bound train (taking me to Peterborough) comes into Newcastle station. The main structure dates from the 1840's - and still looks impressive and elegant.

It feels strange to be back and I think I need to impose a new discipline on life - the usual stuff of getting up earlier and going to bed later - eating a bit better and doing more exercise. I also have a list covering a whole sheet of paper of improving things to do. Today - to the gym, clear the mess from my desk, look for some rocks for geology group tomorrow, read some reports, go to the shops and sit in the sun. Yes - rehabilitation is good and I intend to be back - -.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

I am back - -

- -safe and sound. Thank you all for a lovely time. Even the trains were punctual.

I walk from Cullercoats to Tynemouth

18-00 hrs: The Long Sands. 

On Friday - Metro to Cullercoats station - then , with my neighbour, I walked from my house (which is beyond the church and off the edge of the picture) to the coffee bar on the beach (which is one of the best places I know for drinking coffee and eating cakes and the like - including the Tea Rooms at Orford). We drank coffee, talked, watched the tide go down and the waves come up and walked back again. Very enjoyable - although I was pretty tired by I got back to Newcastle. 

But I did go out for soup and sausages later - with a lot of (refreshing) political debate as is appropriate on Guy Fawkes night - whether or not the Gun Powder Plot is/was 'true'.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Newcastle University

18-15hrs: Looking up towards Claremont Tower, in which I worked for a long time. This was a car park two years ago - then a building site - now a very nice building facing the main road - and also much of the campus has been smartened up with new plantings and street furniture, so even the older buildings look revived.

Drank too much coffee with colleagues - lovely to see you all.

I go to the boathouse at Tynemouth Sailing Club

8-30 hrs: Wednesday - to TSC for the evening. This is the boathouse (a former RNLB house in the corner of the beach built in the mid 19th century). I spent many evenings 'doing' boats here for years - this time  chatted and watched repairs to boats - then to the bar and home much too late.

Feeling pretty good - met loads of people in the University during the day - wonderful to see you all - - .

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

I go to Newcastle - -

17-10 hrs: - - Newcastle Central Station viewed from the hall window next to my room (their clock is an hour wrong). Small station in  Suffolk to Big station in Newcastle - and all in great comfort thanks to low cost web site for 1st class train tickets.

And staying in comfort as well - thanks to the web - in a small attic room (thus the view) in the big hotel next to the station. I have already seen lots of friends here and am off to meet more in a short time. Good stuff.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Joomla! Days - fantastic

17-40 hrs: I have been trying to learn more about Joomla! - largely out of curiosity and interest. It will also help me to manage the U3A web site, which uses Joomla!. So I signed up for this two day Joomla! event in Ipswich - 20 minute drive away. Joomla! is a Content Management Systerm used world-wide for creating and managing web sites - It is Open Source and free to download the core product. They referred to it as an ecosystem of people contributing code, writing extra bits, creating web sites for clients and much else - in amazing profusion.

So a weekend of wall to wall Joomla! from 9-00 to 5-00, apart from excessive amounts of excellent food and drink and lots of talking. 

I will report on one thing - I have volunteered to contribute! Not code - but documentation - there is a wiki at I have offered to look at the Getting Started pages, which should be enough to stop the onset of boredom.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Scammell-Dash results - October 3rd

20-25 hrs: 
Results for the race round the yellow bouy - now called the Scammell-Dash - sailed in a lot of wind and a reach there and back. Well done everyone and sorry not to have been there.

    PY Start Time Finish Time Elapsed  Corrected
Nick & Sarah 59er 905 11:50:02 13:45:46 6944 7673
Alan & Gill Ent 1116 11:50:02 14:17:23 8841 7922
Loz Laser 1078 11:50:02 14:17:23 8841 8201
Gerry & Rosie Ent 1116 11:50:02 14:19:15 8953 8022
Clive Laser 1078 11:50:02 14:20:20 9018 8365
Lorry & Caragh Ent 1116 11:50:02 14:20:30 9028 8090

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

the wind and the rain - -

18-00 hrs: Turner's Orford Ness lighthouse: the weather was not this rough today and we did not go to Orford - but putting off our sailing trip gives me an excuse to use this great image.

We were intending to take Lookfar down the river for a couple hours this afternoon - but - gusts up to 40 mph and heavy rain put us off. Instead - we went to the mouth of the Deben by road and had lunch in the cafe at Felixstowe Ferry. And then we walked along the sea wall until we got wet.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

I sail the Laser again - -

18-45 hrs: I took the Laser out again today - the wind was strong at times and I planed like this picture (taken in the Tyne estuary some years ago)  - same dry suit - new hat - different boat - no waves - same mega-fun. The wind is very gusty along the river, and there are also wind holes and big wind shifts - it is quite testing and one cannot just get onto the plane and stay there for a mile or so. But I stayed upright - almost fell in backwards when the wind dropped but I was quite careful!

I stayed out for well over an hour and was no more tired after than I would have been a couple of years ago - I had to work harder to  avoid moored boats and mud banks than I would in the Tyne estuary or out to sea. And I lobbed the mast into the hole much more easily than I would have been able to do without weight training - so hooray for that as well.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Deben from Woodbridge

10-30 hrs: See yesterday's post for a continuation. Nasty weather today - so am ashore.

Lookfar is berthed in the Yacht harbour - this shows the river to the Tips and connects to the chartlet in the previous post. One nautical mile is the distance from 52-05' to 52-04'. It feels a lot further because of the way the channel winds around and the big gusts of wind and the boats on moorings. Challenging sailing in lots of ways - but I miss the big waves of the North East coast.

Friday, 22 October 2010

The tides are up in the middle of the day - so sailing if weather OK

20-20 hrs: Today - sunshine - a down river sail with a good, if gusty, wind, but returning for a late lunch due to tides. Tired for the rest of the day. This is the Deben downstream from Woodbridge. I normally go down river at least to the Rocks. At high water - it is all blue; the yellow bits are muddy mud, deep enough to sail over at high tide.

This follows on from an interesting week. U3A geology group, work on U3A web site, pruned a large bush outside the sailing club, had lunch with Aidan and watched too much TV in the evenings because I had got tired doing things all day, but not cuts -TV.

Doing things- good - due to new wonder-drug.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

To the beach with fossils - - Bawdsey

11-30 hrs: Friday's expedition - not the most beautiful beach but it is interesting  - a wave cut platform over London Clay; cliffs of London clay undercut by encroaching sea; some dramatic landslips; sea defenses to the north; Red Crag beds at the top of the cliff - out of reach; plant fossils on the beach; lots of interesting pebbles.

The beach extends along to the Deben, where there is more gravel (and sea kale growing at the top of the beach).  A tiring walk as it is on stones most of the way and no nice tea room to go to afterwards -but fun.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

To the lighthouse - Orford Ness

20-44 hrs:  Approach to Orford Ness lighthouse

 A view of the lighthouse and the sea condition - glad to be looking at it from the shore.

Today - Saturday - ferry to Orford Ness at 10-00; worth getting the first one as the site felt properly remote. A walk along made-up tracks and a shingle path to the very edge of the Ness, where this wonderful lighthouse teeters on the brink of the shingle, although when it was built (in 1792) it was some way back from the shore. Excellent day out - saw lots of other interesting things - walked 9 kms - finishing with tea and cake in Orford Tea rooms.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

A favourite place

19-45 hrs: A favourite place - Covent Garden - a view almost matching a late seventeenth century print of the same buildings when it was a fruit and veg: market.

Today - lunch with Aidan in a pleasant eaterie off Drury Lane. A walk round a few shops and the Covent Garden area before heading back for the train - all at a normal pace. I am feeling well and renewed.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

- and a fourth day on the river - in a Rib!

12-30 hrs: Sunday was also spent on the river - this time doing rescue. The picture was taken in August - and shows the view downstream with a fleet going to race in a wider part of the river - at high water.

This Sunday - bright sunshine all day - lots of wind but the boats stayed upright as they whizzed round. I sat around in the sun on a RIB and watched sailing - another very nice day.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Three days on the river - expedition three - Saturday

19-20 hrs: Not a boat - but the digger that has been working on the river bank for ages. Sailing out of Woodbridge - I pass close by.

On Saturday - off out again. There were gusts to at least 25 K. - I went downriver and back as before. I timed it nicely and managed to hove-to for lunch again but drifted fast in the gusts. Another lovely day - and a good contribution to rehabilitation.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Three days on the river; expedition two - Friday

9-20 hrs: On a mooring outside the marina - looking downstream - the entrance is just behind the main sheet.

On Friday - more wind so I put in a reef - not very beautiful in the picture, but it worked well with a smaller genoa - newly cut to fit the furler. I sailed off the mooring and did not use the engine except to get back into the marina. This time I went only as far as Waldringford - and hove-to for lunch - returned whilst the tide was slack - so got back at good speed. The wind direction changed in the gusts by 45 degrees - so I had to adjust course and sails all the time - good stuff and hooray for weight training and stronger muscles. Feeling well and the rash has almost gone.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Three days on the river; expedition one - Thursday

21-30 hrs: An egret in Woodbridge. There are lots along the river - normally too far away to photo - or I am too busy sailing (or both).

On Thursday - very little wind and too much motoring. I foolishly went too far (to Ramsholt) where I picked up a mooring for lunch and stayed too long. So I had to bang back against the tide to get to the marina before the water over the sill was too shallow to get in. Made it OK. Nice day - sunny intervals. Makes me feel better altogether.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Whatever Happened to Feminism?

20-35 hrs:  a radio 4 programme -

Recent studies have shown that women are due to shoulder nearly three quarters of the burden of budget cuts - why are feminists not marching on the Treasury? Good question. Interesting programme and links on the web site.

Thursday, 30 September 2010

A long view

18-00 hrs: I still produce graphs based on how I feel each day (according to my own score system) but I have not uploaded any of late. This one is a long view of this year - the single black line is a 28 day moving average.

I had a review with the consultant today and it looks as if Tarceva is doing the trick. I feel a lot better than I did and the Xrays show fewer cancer blobs. Keep on taking the pills!

The wonder-graph illustrates this and also shows the dip in July when Vinorelbine stopped working. I did get very used to the slight upward curve from March and found it hard to cope with the changes in July. So I am now glad to be able to demonstrate an upward curve again, especially as it has a much smoother trajectory such that I feel a little better each day - rather than having big ups and downs as I did before. The rash is very unsightly but - - I don't see it!

Next stop - rehabilitation - less boredom - more cycling and walking - and learning to like being retired.

Monday, 27 September 2010

First day of winter - geology trip to Orford

13-15 hrs:  Coralline Crag at Crag Pit farm, near Orford. Taken during a short break in the heavy rain on Sunday. It was too wet and cold to get the camera out in the morning to show rain-soaked members of the OU Geology Society (with a few of us from U3A geology group) looking at bits of rock around Orford. The bottom of the picture shows a bed of Bryozoan - which I had to read about afterwards to see their interest and importance. Details of the site - an SSSI

Lunch in a warm and dry tea-room overlooking the rain-soaked river - a good day inspite of the rain.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Last day of summer?

17-00 hrs: Today - cloud and rain - but yesterday - the sun shone warmly and I took the boat out downstream and back for a few hours - in tee shirt and shorts. Downstream - strong wind and tide against me - so used the engine a lot to achieve 2.5 knots. I returned at slack water - speeds up to 6.5 knots - a series of broad reaches interspersed with goose winging - full sail - a lot of wind - fun until I had to slow down to get into Woodbridge but I avoided moored boats - the main mishap was getting a lot of slime and weed in the boat from picking up a mooring. 

I am hoping this will not be the last sail of the year - just of summer-type sailing in warm weather. The boat can stay safely in the water for most of the winter and I have a lot of warm gear.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

autumnal foraging

20-00 hrs: picking sloes for various concoctions. 

The boat hook is very useful for foraging - we collected ripe sloes and elderberries along the Deben at the weekend. The blackberries looked nice and fat and ripe, but were tastless - so we left them.

I continue to improve gradually - and the rash continues to look pretty horrid - and I continue to want to scratch it.

Thursday, 16 September 2010


17-50 hrs: Rodinia broke up over 500 million years ago. 
I was right - rodinia and pre cambrian Scotland has kept me out of mishief this week - and distracted me from clearing up the mess in my house. Also a useful distraction from the main side effect of Tarceva - a rash on my face which I need to leave alone and not scratch! I think it is working - I feel OK - and not breathless. A bit lazy - but that is a side-effect of life.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Rodinia - a pre Cambrian continent

12-00 hrs: Let myself in for preparing a session for the U3A geology group on pre-cambrian rocks. This is the first continental mass (that is known about) - 750 million years ago. Scotland is attached to Canada - marked SC on the turqiose bit between the yellow (the core of ancestral Europe)  and dark blue (Gonwanaland) masses. 

 I think I am going to be beating my brain with this for the rest of the week - keeps me out of mischief I suppose - and also shows that I continue to improve.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Maritime Woodbridge weekend

20-15 hrs:  There were small, traditional beach boats with young people (notice one of them up the mast on the oyster smack beyond) - and larger boats moored for us to admire right along the river, from the marina to the sailing club. Lots of food stalls as well - a pleasant way to spend the days - especially as I avoided the re-enactment of Norman invasions. I spent a lot of time admiring the wooden boats - and trying to take pictures of them. 

I felt a bit better from the end of last week - maybe the Tarceva is doing something useful. Cross fingers, as it is good to have enough energy to enjoy things.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Scammell Dash re-scheduled for October 3rd.

12-16 hrs: The weather was too awful on Sunday to let the fleet out of the piers.  Sara has commented that the Dash is re-scheduled for October 3rd. We require decent weather then please!

High winds here too for days - and not enough sun. I feel slightly less zapped-out and a lot less breathless - cross fingers - - .

Sunday, 5 September 2010

The Scammell Dash - good luck to all

12-50 hrs: A view from the sea from Tynemouth to Whitley Bay. Why put it up here now?

Today is the famous 'yellow bouy race' from the mouth of the Tyne, round a yellow bouy off Whitley Bay and back to Tynemouth North pier. I used to run this race and we have some fun getting lost in fog and overwhelmed by wind. Tynemouth Sailing Club renamed this race as the Scammell Dash - good luck folks - the weather forecast shows 18 mph winds - gusting to 36 mph - so if they let you out it won't be boring.

See 11th February 2010 for a better picture with proper rough conditions.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

10-50 hrs: Another review with the consultant at Ipswich hospital on Thursday - encouraging too much introspection. I was very anxious and walked around the hospital (to get an xray and a newspaper) like a zombie. The xray showed slightly less cancer than three weeks ago and the discussion was about further treatment. 

I am now taking Tarceva (Erlotinib). This is a different sort of substance which belongs to a group of cancer drugs known as an epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitors and is supposed to destroy the cancer cells without causing harm to normal cells. It is taken as a tablet every day and is apparently well tolerated - although there is a formidable list of possible side-effects.

No obvious effects or side-effects yet. Yesterday - the gym and a bit of hanging around in coffee bars. Today - the shops and a bit of hanging around at home. And then - less time spent looking inward and more going out - physically and metaphorically; and more pictures to flickr and on the blog

Friday, 3 September 2010

Chemotherapy details

12-45 hrs: Very confusing - and several of you have asked about it - so I thought I would write it down and hope it lessens confusion.
  • Sept to mid Dec 2009 - I was treated with a combination chemo therapy - carboplatin + vinorelbine. By November - the cancer did not show up on the Xrays anymore - although it was still there - just reduced in size and virulence.
  • mid Dec to early August 2010- kept under control with vinorelbine, which keeps the cancer cells from growing again. This works for some indeterminate time and then the cancer becomes resistant and starts to spread again - called 'progression'. At this time my general health improved and I generally galivanted about - and got a lot stronger by going to the gym and doing weight training. From March I took this as a capsule once every two weeks - which was a user-friendly way of doing it.
I think it started to resist in late June - but gradually - and in a rather up-and-down manner. It was clear on an Xray in August that it was growing again quite scarily quickly.
  • August 2010: I had one dose of a chemo-therapy combination called GemCarbo (Carboplatin + Gemcitabine) to keep further growth at bay (which it did) whilst it was ascertained whether I would be suitable for taking a relatively new substance - Tarceva (Erlotinib).
  • From Sept 2nd 2010 - Tarceva (Erlotinib): I take this as a tablet every day. It too only works for a limited period - until the cells become resistant to it - but how limited is not known - it varies from person to person.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

20-47 hrs: Out on the river today with Aidan for a few hours. The engine started well and worked fine. Mostly we sailed with one reef in the main and full genoa. Aidan helmed - I pulled a lot of ropes as we had to tack quite a bit. Nice.

Health update - pretty fatigued - sometimes to the point of feeling ill. The worst thing is to be so aware of it and spending too much time managing it and worrying about doing anything. So sailing today was especially good - a jolt out of the comfort zone. And I must fess up to worrying about the future - which is why I have been paying bills and filing papers.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

12-00 hrs: Today - a year since diagnosis - no special celebration as being alive in a nice place is celebration in itself.

The picture illustrates part of my regular stamping ground. To the left - the building where I live. The railway station is just behind the boat masts and tree. The boats are in Andy Seedhouse's yard (I nearly bought an old Hurley here but someone put an offer before I did). In the foregound - the reeds are a reminder that part of Woodbridge along the river was marshland and could be again were it not for the sea walls.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Survival for a year - a question - -

21.00 hrs: This week marks a year since I was diagnosed with lung cancer.
Question - do I celebrate - is it the birthday of my life?

About a third of female lung cancer patients survive the first year. (2006 = 30% women. It was 12% in 1975). The figures have some meaning for me - they put a rough number to the probablilities of being alive - -  

But how to celebrate - maybe I should spend part of a day being unselfish for once!

Thursday, 19 August 2010

A beach with cabbages

17-25 hrs: Looking out to sea over the gravel bank to the north of the mouth of the Deben. Nicest beach I have found - but a bit wind-swept and chilly today. Good cafe for tea and scones - and boats to watch.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Tax and accounts

10-00 hrs: The annual fight with tax and income spreadsheets done and in the post. This will not be the end of it as there are always questions  - - -  but  made easier by nasty wet and cold weather confining me indoors. Hope they don't tax blackberries next.

The side-effects of the chemotherapy have started to show. There is a pattern - of feeling quite good for a few days due to taking anti-sickness and other drugs. Then a plunge - mostly feeling fatigue again. This is very hard to describe - it is a feeling of not being able to do anything - so is very boring - but better than the alternative. Hooray for surfing the web, paying bills and such like mindless activities.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Something different - foraging

18-15 hrs: We spent a bit of time yesterday foraging for various berries - mostly blackberries for which a boat hook came in useful. There are plums, sloes (not ripe), elderberry (not ripe) and  rose hips. I think I might spend a bit more time looking at these if the weather holds out.

Today - measured bits of my boat to see whether I can stow the outboard in a better way - and then sat around in the sun watching a fast and furious dinghy race in lots of wind - fascinating and impressive.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Brief update - chemo OK on Friday

18-40 hrs: A bit delayed with this post - largely through being out a lot day yesterday and today!

Feeding in the new chemo on Friday took until early afternoon and we came back and had sausage and chips to celebrate. How about this - - it seems to be working in that I felt better after lunch yesterday and have felt OK today - with much less breathlessness - with the result I have been walking around at a much more normal pace. I plan to chill out and maybe wander down to the boat and the sailing club - but not push my luck. How very sensible - -

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Swallows and - a trip to oncology in Ipswich

19-50 hrs: The best bit about today was taking some pictures of the swallows resident under the roof of the clubhouse balcony - and watching the dinghy racing. A heavy shower and then no wind meant that a lot did not finish and some were towed home.

This morning - a review from the consultant - concluding that the cancer has started to progress again. An appointment made for tomorrow for some different chemo-therapy, this time delivered (as they say) through a cannula in the Day Unit in the hospital. Not nice - but better than the alternative. This is a temporary measure and I will eventually (when some other tests are done) go onto a further treatment with a newer substance. I suspected this but may not have said as much in so many words. It is difficult to know how to keep a balance on the blog - as I say every time I write about anything other than sailing! I have had a good year in many ways and would like the good times to rock on - - and on - -

 - dear friends and followers - I thank you again for reading this and for the support your very presence has given me - I will be in contact - am spending the rest of today preparing my survival gear for tomorrow and then grossing out. xx

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Respect river conditions - - -

9-50 hrs:  A bit of fun yesterday -no pics - too wet and scary.
I went down river with the ebb on Monday - very strong winds on the nose and almost sea-like waves in places. Picked up a bouy downstream from Ramsholt and lay around in the sun for most of the day - having removed a warp caught round the keel.

Leaving on Tuesday - the engine (new and not supposed to behave like this) stalled and then did not start. It then made some impressive bangs and refused again. OK - so this is a sailing boat - and the sails were up anyway - so off I went under sail and with the flood tide. There is even one boat on the river without an engine - so it must be possible.  And it was pretty good - except for rather too much tacking through moorings and the need to follow the wind shifts. And it rained very heavily (very light waterproofs)  - and I worried about how to get into the marina - and noticed the radio battery was flat. But it worked out OK as I saw a rib whose owner I know just as I got into Woodbridge - and he towed me onto the pontoon in time for lunch.

Motto (I know all this don't I!) for surviving  -  have decent waterproofs even if  only going downriver.
And be glad to  have a boat that points like a dinghy!
And charge the radio and other batteries
And treat the river with the same respect as the North Sea.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

My various pictures

9-50 hrs: I have been uploading my pictures to Flickr - a long but interesting process and not complete.

Enjoy - all stimulated by a new camera I guess. 
(Still in the dip but off to the gym and then to spend the day quietly - uploading more pictures.)

Friday, 6 August 2010

Repairs to sea wall on the Deben

17-50 hrs: The start of the work digging the bank and putting 'revetment' in place - looking downstream. The plan seems to preserve the seats on the concrete platforms.

Dip continues

9-30 hrs: dip continued again after a day or so - shortage of breath with associated feelings of weakness and so on - which is annoying as there are things I want to do. I have not taken the boat out again - tides are wrong and the weather is not encouraging either.  The most interesting thing round here is that they are digging up the sea wall downriver from the sailing club: apparently tidal scour is threatening it. Today's task - apart from shopping and the like - is to take pictures from the land - hard to do as it is fenced off.

Monday, 2 August 2010

A dip in wellbeing

15-30 hrs: I was feeling a bit rough last week. I suspected that the current chemotherapy is ceasing to 'work' - so I fretted and worried, which made it all worse of course. I did get very breathless and tired after I got back from sailing. At the end of the week it all improved and I felt better - 'normal' for how I have felt of late. I had talked it through with the lung cancer specialist nurse in Ipswich on Thursday - and it has also got cooler and rained, so there is less dust and pollen around - and I had a pretty restful weekend.

One result is that I have not kept the blog as up-to-date as I would have liked - and nor have I managed to send sensible to emails to my friends. 

I am probably going to take the boat down-river tomorrow, but the weather forecast here is for rain and I have become a fair-weather sailor (ie wind and no rain sailor). If I don't go - I will try to catch up and pay my bills and live a sensible life - - -

Tidemill BBQ

10-50 hrs: residents and visitors to the Tidemill marina show that they can enjoying themselves at a BBQ on Saturday - drinks, music and lots of wandering around. The rain stopped - and the hungry hoards of gulls wheeled around, waiting their moment to swoop.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Experiment with new camera - mud and birds

19-40 hrs: Treated myself to a new digital camera - and spent the afternoon wandering around snapping a few things. The one above is reduced to about 350 KB. The one below is the original - at 2.34 MB. The first  uploaded at the speed I am used to - without making the quality less bad in this page. (What is the brownish-reddish bird?) Much fun to be had now trying to take better pictures!

The bird - zoomed in using a simple picture editor. Impressive stuff!

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Walton Backwaters to Woodbridge in one go

19-45 hrs: at home - not really intended today because I was going to pick up a mooring along the river and gross-out in the sun. However - when I got into the Deben- it started to rain quite hard - so I banged on up river with the tide.

All the pictures I took today were out of focus - so I give you one of my cockpit in 'sailing mode' - the bucket has water in it - green rope for moorings - red seat for comfort.

I had to use a useful technique for getting the anchor up - of driving quite hard in a circle to break it out. I then pulled it up together with a load of mud - all over the deck, the anchor, the genoa, my clothes and gloves. But at least the anchor came free.

I left the Backwaters at 8-15 am - with HW at 12-00 at the Deben entrance I thought I would have plenty of time to get in with the tide behind me in the entrance. This was true, especially as I went on a beam reach with all sails up, although the wind was variable and kept dropping away. When progress got slow - I put the engine on as well - with the result that I made fast passage and was at the Deben bouy by 10-30am. Quite tiring because I had to concentrate to avoid the shipping channels from Harwich harbour but it was much less intimidating than crossing the Tyne in a dinghy! 

The tide picks you up and carries you along the narrow entrance - where there are many swirls suggesting banks of gravel beneath. There was no surf - but I can see why it is an entrance to respect. There were a lot of outbound yacghts and motor boats on the wrong side of the channel - - - which made it harder.

And then it rained - and my idea of lazing in the sun for the rest of the day was scuppered - so I continued up the river helped by the tide and getting to Woodbridge before high water there. Spent the rest of the day lounging around in the sun and clearing up - and washing away the mud. I am, of course, exhausted and out of breath - but have had a shower.