Tag Archives: Leica

Keep taking the tablets…

I haven’t updated this blog in nearly a month, so it’s about time that I did.

Lots of routine stuff has happened, of course.

Once again the car has been serviced. This I time, I had to pay for it myself, as the “service pack” that I bought with the car, which gives the first 60,000 miles servicing at a discount, has expired. The car has now done more than 70,000 miles and, incredibly… , this is a major, serious service. All the filters need to be changed again and I was pleased to receive a text from the garage telling me that the front brake pads and disks all need replacing too. To have got 70,000 miles out of them is very good, but when you turn up to collect the car and are given a bill for £1,060, it’s a bit of a leveller. Even the service agent at the garage raised her eyebrows a bit as she told me how much it would be.

The rear brakes are also in need of replacement in 10,000 miles. I have had these done before, back in June, so I will question that when the time comes round. They really shouldn’t be wearing out so fast. I suspect that there is a faulty reader, or something.

I have also been considering what my next car should be, but it’s difficult to decide with having the house on the market. (No joy on that front, I’m afraid). I really don’t want to be hiring a car for 40,000 miles again in the Spring, and then moving closer to the office so that high rate isn’t necessary. That would partly defeat the object of the move, if it ever takes place. I will make a decision in the New Year, and probably change after Easter.

The Istanbul Challenge voting has been and gone and, incredibly, my shot came fourth. I really wasn’t expecting that, so maybe I must still be doing something right. A decision was taken while in Istanbul that 2015 should see us go to Vienna. Hotel already booked! Flights are a bit of an issue, though… guess which airline offers the cheapest flights to the city… It’s not Austrian Airlines.

And a couple of not really routine things to report too.

Firstly, I have stopped taking the statin tablets prescribed to me before we went away. I have had high cholesterol for as long as I can remember, certainly all of my adult life. When I first found this out, maybe 25 years ago, I went on an extreme low-fat diet and ate at least 60 grams of oatbran every day and managed to get it down to something “acceptable”. However, one cannot live one’s life like that, so the regime quickly fell by the wayside. At a routine blood test at my GP, the results came back high as usual and he recommended that I take a statin. This is an “every night for the rest of your life” deal.

Within the first week or so, I had had two nightmares, something that I haven’t had since I was a child. Disturbed sleep is one of the side effects that can occur, and fortunately, the nightmares only occurred a couple of times. However, since then, I found that I would take a very long time to get to sleep and wake several times during the night. I even installed an App on my phone which monitors your sleep pattern, scoring a most impressive 61% average quality of sleep. Getting fed up with this, I consulted the GP and have been advised to stop taking the tablets for a couple of weeks and see if this helps. So I have, and so far it think it has.

I think I’d rather live with the higher risk of stroke and heart attack than not sleep properly for the rest of my life. That can’t be good for you either. Maybe there is an alternative drug that they can give me that won’t affect me like this, so we will see.

Monday brings the CT scan I have written about in the past and have been waiting for. I don’t not look forward to these, if that makes sense. I know that they aren’t good for you in a basic physiological way, given that they are about as strong as 400 x-rays, but the information that they generate is far more important than that. I see my consultant again in 10 days time for the regular 4 monthly check up and the results of the scan, so that will be interesting. With a bit of luck, he still won’t be able to see anything, but as time goes by, and being 4 1/2 years into my remission, I am staring to feel like I am on borrowed time with this. But, let’s not jump the gun and see what happens in only a few days.

Christmas is coming around all too fast once again. A time to count one’s blessings, appreciate once again the support from family and friends that help us get through the days and weeks and make sure that they know that they are appreciated and loved. I couldn’t do this on my own and my heart goes out to those that do not have the support and love that I enjoy.

No presents for us this year. We have booked to go to San Francisco for a week in March, so that will be a big enough gift. We are flying with Virgin…. Maybe I will hire a car over there for a day and give the booking form as a gift. But now the secret is out… I’m sure that there will have to be a little something under the tree.

At the Goodwood Revival Meeting

I am a very lucky boy. I have been fortunate enough to have been invited to the Goodwood Revival twice now. This year was even busier than in 2009 and it was a beautiful day.

I just thought that I would share some photographs. Something like 75% of people attending dress up in vintage clothes as the event celebrates Goodwood’s motor racing heritage, which ran from 1948 – 1966. Only cars from that era are allowed to take part too, but that does cover a wonderful period in car manufacturing and there are some fabulous sights.

I used my Leica M2 from 1960 and a 50mm Leica Summicron lens from 1963. Both of which are working perfectly, I am pleased to say.

So, in no particular order…

Two-Lancasters

Driver-listening Car-61 Many-hands Seams Bending Sunglasses Explaining Derek-Bell Non-optional-accessory Tricky Under-there-somewhere One-day-son

Never give up hope… Perch Rock revisited

Doesn’t take much to re-vist, to be honest as it’s less than half an hour away from here, but a couple of years ago I was bemoaning the fact that this is a very popular spot with photographers around here – too popular.

Yet, there I was last night seeing whether the sunset that I’d seen while walking the dog at about 8 o’clock, would result in something interesting up at New Brighton.

Parkgate

When I got there, about 20 minutes before sunset, there was a large bank of cloud sitting on the horizon, over the Irish Sea. There would be no spectaculars this evening. I tried a couple of shots with the half moon behind the lighthouse, but they didn’t work, so I decided to head home.

As I left, via a slightly different route back off the sand, I turned to look at the lighthouse again. And saw this…

All-quiet-at-Perch-RockNow, this isn’t the best ever shot of this place, but it is unique.

I was the only person there, taking photographs.

 

Pompeii Farm

Having had to stop painting the back of the house due to the rain, I have been playing around with some shots from earlier this year. I have stumbled across a setting on my scanner that seems to deliver decent scans from Kodak Portra 160 colour print film.

Initially, I liked this in colour, but having played with it for half an hour this afternoon, I actually prefer it in black and white.

Maybe, if I were to buy a new camera (as I have been thinking about…) it should be a Monochrom. Maybe…

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The best from Malham today

I was about to throw this film in the bin. I take so few photographs these days that it would appear that the developer that I had as stock was probably a bit on the “2013” side and therefore not up to the job. I should have made fresh – I know, I know…

Anyway, the negatives came out very thin. (Pan F+ in HC110(B) cut 50/50 with water and developed for 8 minutes, if anyone is interested and even knows what that means)

But, sometimes you get luckier than others. I am a very lucky man in so many ways and today is a lucky day.

 

Malham Cove, North Yorks National Park, about 09:30 today

I really like the idea of these two lovers, standing on the edge of a considerable cliff, holding hands, contemplating the future…

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The two trees can be seen on this shot, taken from the bottom of the cliff. It’s a long way down. And up…

Malham-Cliff

Another excellent conference plus news of beanos.

I attended a conference jointly organised by the Leukaemia CARE and Lymphoma Association charities in Liverpool yesterday. Judging by the number of hands that were raised, there were more Lymphoma-ists there than Leukaemia folk, but I’m sure they won’t mind.

As at the previous conferences that I have attended (although I’ve not been to one of these joint ones before), the speakers were all absolutely first class, especially the specialist nurse from The Christie who gave a presentation on stem cell transplants. I will definitely go again next year.

Heading into another busy week now. Not only do we have the annual office strategy conference this week, but next weekend will be the Leica Forum Annual Beano, The One Challenge. We are heading to the home of Leica in Wetzlar, Germany, this year, but due to the aforementioned company do, we can’t fly out until the morning of the Challenge itself on Saturday. This doesn’t give us the usual opportunity of sussing out the location on the day before, but I am sure we will manage to scrape together something on the day.

We are using the Challenge as an excuse to take a few days in southern Germany and do a bit of touring around. I haven’t been to that part of Germany before (apart from on a visit to a glass factory on the Austrian border a few years ago, which doesn’t count). Our trip takes in the Bavarian Alps, Lake Constance and Baden-Baden, so this should be interesting. Lots to do before then though…

Determined to put my good fortune to good use, we have also decided on our now habitual “first week in March jaunt”. On the recommendation of a friend, we have decided to head to Sorrento for a few days and take a trip out to Pompeii (and Herculaneum, if the time allows). We have to fly into Naples, but have no desire to visit the city, so we will take a transfer bus directly from the airport to Sorrento. Will also try to hire a car for the day and drive down the Amalfi Coast road – one of the best drives in Europe, apparently – and maybe take a ferry to Capri for the day. Could be a busy week if we try to pack too much in, so will have to think about that carefully.

I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by how very reasonable the hotel costs (a decent one according to Trip Advisor) and the BA flight from Gatwick was cheaper than the Easyjet one. Even the hotel we use at the airport, where we leave the car too, is charging about £20 less than they did last time. All very odd, but welcome.

I might even get to take some photographs – that would be a novelty…

Another month… where do they go?

I suppose that it’s a good thing that a month has gone by with no post to this blog, but the whole point about a blog is that it is updated regularly – I don’t think that once a month qualifies  really. So apologies for that.

What it DOES mean, though, is that I am continuing to be well and not calling upon the good services of the health service of my consultant. It also means that this week is the week for my next quarterly check-up. Friday morning to be precise.

As I have posted before, this is most likely to be my consultant’s last clinic for me. This puts me in a bit of a dilema, really. Do I continue attending the local hospital, where I have received excellent treatment through him and the staff on the haematology ward, or do I consider a new referral (presumably via my GP), to The Christie, the large teaching hospital in Manchester. While that is 50 odd miles away from home, they are one of the two top oncology hospitals in the country. They have excellent facilities and do pioneering work.

My consultant has hinted before that “next time” he might refer me to The Christie in any case as they have the ability to administer interesting treatments such as Zevalin, a monoclonal antibody radioimmunotherapy. This stuff is like the Rituximab, but with added radiation. So, not only does it lock onto the CD20 marker on the diseased lymph cells, like Rituximab does, it also administers a dose of radiation to it while it’s at it. All clever stuff. They also have the ability to do stem cell transplants and other more serious treatments that a more local general hospital might find too much. Who knows what I might need in the future (if anything), but if there is a need for something more challenging, The Christie is the right place for it and it might be of benefit to get into their own system sooner rather than later.

Let’s see what Friday brings.

So, what else did April bring? Easter came and went without so much as a whimper and we did go to the Grand National this year for the first time in a few years. It’s a great day out (especially if someone else is paying – thanks to Adrian!) and fortunately, everyone and their horse got round safely. As usual, we didn’t win any money, but we didn’t expect to.

We also had a trip to Whitby in North Yorkshire last week with some of the Leica gang. We had a good day there and a good overnight stay at The Morritt Arms Hotel, just south of Barnard Castle on the A66. We have stayed there once before, but the owners have spent some money on it recently and it become even more comfortable  Very good food, reasonable wine and very friendly staff. Highly recommended.

Now, it’s time to take stock and think about the summer holiday in Islay coming up at the end of June. This makes it sound like life is just the gaps in between holidays and weekends away – which I suppose it can be really…

I have been invited to speak at an international conference on car parks at the end of May, so that will be interesting, if you like car parks. It’s only in London, not Sydney, or Tokyo, or somewhere similarly exotic, but one can’t have everything.

Our project in Blackpool is really starting to take shape now – the steel frames for the council office and the supermarket are almost complete and the scale of what we are doing is there for all to see. It’s very exciting and worth the time it took to get this far. We have excellent teams working with us up there and it’s a pleasure working with them all. I have put a photo of the site in the Photograph of the Week tab.

Finally, I can’t let today pass without mentioning Betsy, who is two today. She has finally turned into a lovely little dog and has become sensible in her teenage years. Happy BIrthday Betsy. 🙂

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