Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Lovely Blogger Award

The lovely Cass included me in the group of bloggers to receive the One Lovely Blog Award. Thanks Cass x

  1. Thank and link back to the person who nominated you
  2. List the rules and display the award.
  3. Include seven facts about yourself.

  4. Nominate 15 other bloggers and let them know about the award.

  5. Display the award and follow the blogger who nominated you (if not already!).
So without further ado, and having completed rules 1 2 and 5 (I've been following Cass for some time), my seven facts.

1. I love to swim but learning to swim almost killed me
As much as I enjoy swimming I don't do it anywhere near enough. Most of the swimming that I've done during the past few years has been part of training for some event or another. I've rarely swum just for the pleasure of it.
When I was at primary school we were taken to the local swimming baths to have lessons. Most of the primary schools where we live do something similar.
After learning the basics and getting to the point where we could swim a width of the pool we finally told that we'd be swimming a length of the pool. If we got into difficulty then one of the instructors has a large pole with a hoop on the end that we could grab hold of. To get into the water we would have to jump in, at the deep end.
One after another my friends jumped in and began to swim, then it was my turn.
I stepped up to the edge of the pool and leaped into the pool. Down I plunged until my head was under the water but rather than coming back up I seemed to be suspended in the water. I could feel my breath beginning to run out and so wanted to get back to the surface but it was so far away. Well it felt far away. Suddenly something loomed through the water and I grabbed at the large hoop that the instructor was holding out for me to grab. Grasping it I was pulled to the surface, I gasped for air and then having composed myself, let go of the hoop and struck out for the shallow end.
Although I could have almost drowned that day, from then onwards I never had any fear of the water and took every opportunity that I was given to swim while in school.

2. I'm a qualified BSAC Sports Diver
At University I did the usual round of groups during the Freshers Fayre. Lots of different groups and activities but nothing really took my fancy until I came across the diving club. Here was something I'd not had the chance to do before and who knew if I'd have the chance in the future. I signed up immediately and for the next 3 years I learned both the theory of diving as well as the practical skills needed to dive safely both in a pool and in open water.
It was so much fun. I dived quarries, lochs and the sea. From the shore and from boats. Just pottering around the seabed and also diving on wrecks.
Throughout my time at Uni I learned everything I needed to know, and demonstrated the skills and knowledge so that by the time I graduated from my course I was also a qualified sports diver with the British Sub Aqua Club. I still have my qualification book at home, although my skills are rusty and I've not dived in over 20 years.
There's a chance that I might have to go to Australia next year for work. If that's the case then I'm going to be looking to get my diving skills up to scratch and if I am really lucky might managed to sneak a trip up to the Great Barrier Reef.

3. I was almost an officer in the Royal Navy
When I was younger I joined the Royal Naval Reserve as an Officer Candidate. After completing my basic training I started my officer training in preparation for sitting the reserver officer interview board.
About 12 months into my training I decided that I wanted a change of career and that I wanted to join the Royal Navy full time. With my qualifications and experience I enrolled to be an officer.
To join the navy as an officer you need to attend the Admiralty Interview Board, a two day series of psychometric tests, interviews, group discussions and physical exercises.
When I eventually sat down for my interview with the Personnel Officer she acknowledged the fact that in the discussion exercise I'd got the conclusion I'd wanted and had steered the others to that conclusion but that I could have done it in a more forthright manner.
At the end of the two days I found myself sat before the Commodore in charge of the Interview Board, although he acknowledged that the results of my psychometric tests had been amongst the best he'd ever seen I'd let myself down with the more practical leadership tasks and that I'd not be accepted into the Navy as an officer. It was disappointing as that also meant the end of my time in the Naval Reserve, failing the Admiralty meant that I automatically failed the Reserve version.
It was probably the best decision at the end of the day as I've likely done more through my career outside the navy.

4. I've gone down the bobsled run at Lake Placid
The first project I worked on when I joined my present company was for a customer in Vermont.
In the February I was sent over to the States to work at the customer site for two weeks.
The first weekend I was there everyone seemed to have things planned, either visiting friends or going skiing. As I don't ski and didn't have any friends to visit I was at a loose end. That is until a couple of guys and one of thems girlfriend asked if I wanted to join them on a trip to Lake Placid as it was the last weekend that the bobsled was open and they wanted to go down it.
With nothing else planned I agreed.
The drive to Lake Placid took a little while and I took the chance to enjoy the scenery. When we arrived we had a look around before heading to the bobsled run.
There wasn't a lot of snow so the run was pretty much concrete.
Each run involved two passengers, a driver and and someone to operate the brake.
One of the guys and I decided to go down together and so were issued with helmets and given a safety brief.
The driver climbed in and we got in behind him. The last chap made sure we were ready and then started the sled running before getting in behind us.
Down we went at ever increasing speed, our heads barely centimetres from the concrete. It was scary but also really exciting. All too soon though we had reached the bottom and the sled ground to a halt. We carefully climbed out, handed back the helmets and agreeing it was a brilliant experience made our way to a bridge where we could see the other two from our group come down.

5. I've started writing a book
When my son was ill and had to have a bone marrow transplant we wrote a blog about our experience for our friends and family. Over the past few years I've transcribed the blog into a "book" format. Its something that is only for us, although I've passed it to a few other people that might find it useful to read.
Recently I found myself thinking that our experience might be a good basis for a story, maybe even a novel, so I've started to try and turn it into a proper novel. So far I've got the opening scene. Still a long way to go.

6. I always thought I had two left feet
All the time I was growing up, and for most of my adult life I've avoided dancing. Discos, weddings, parties, if there was dancing involved I'd either hide away or do the bare minimum.
Although there was that incident when I spent most of the night dancing at a work Christmas Party with my arch nemesis who didn't get on with me anymore than I got on with her. A curious situation to be in considering at the end of the evening we sat on the coach heading home snuggled up together and spent my entire leaving do sitting together having discovered that we actually liked each other a lot.
I've avoided dancing because I simply move my feet from side to side and pretty much don't do anything else.
Then I found burlesque and belly dance and my dancing has become a lot more animated and maybe even sexy.
Looks like I've finally found that missing right foot.

7. I still have two of the first books I ever bought myself
When I was in my teens our school handed out leaflets for a company that sold books which you could order and that would be delivered to the school for you to collect. I loved to read and so when I was flicking through the leaflet and discovered some science fiction books I had to order them. Over the years the books have disappeared but recently I was browsing online and discovered one of them for sale. I ordered it and it is now waiting to be reread along with a number of other books. However, these weren't the first books I ever bought.
When I was growing up I discovered the Biggles books. I was hooked from the moment I read the first one. After reading book after book you can imagine my delight when I discovered that W. E. Johns had written a couple of science fiction novels. Kings of Space and its sequel were the first books I remember buying and I still have my copies of them today, over 30 years after I bought them. Its a while since I read them but I have a feeling that they are going to find their way into my reading pile rather soon.

So to the last thing to do. Nominate 15 other bloggers.
Um, Ok, I have a feeling that most of the people that I would nominate may have already been hit by Miss Cassidy. I'm not a great person for nominating people for things like this so rather than naming specific people I'm going to throw it open to anyone reading this post that would like to share 7 facts about themselves on their blog.

In the meantime, normal service will resume shortly as I have a post I want to write thanks to Laura at the Writer's Journey Roadmap and also a belated write up of the Great North Run. Provided I can tear myself away from watching Mr Peabody and Sherman and listening to Kate Bush's 50 Words for Snow, which I've just discovered is over an hour long for the 7 tracks :-) awesome.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Meercats and the mispelt "freshwater fish of the family Cyprinidae" year continues

I've not blogged for a few weeks, although I've got a couple of posts started, because I've been having to work late days in order to make use of some equipment that is located at a suppliers site about five and a thousand miles away from where I sit in the office. I've actually been really impressed by that as I don't know anybody else in our company who has managed to do the same thing because we usually have the equipment in the same building, if not in the same room, that we're working in.

The last few weeks have been a nightmare on a personal level.

With the passing of my father-in-law in the summer we had to clear his flat the other weekend. The entire family turned out to help with sorting things out. Putting the things people had been left by him, or wanted, into two vans and putting everything else into a skip to be got rid of.

It was a tiring weekend but also just about the last time that I have to pretend to be my old self.

Most of the weekend went OK, our evening meal and breakfast at the hotel we stayed at were a bit of a disaster but the hotel itself was fine.
The evening meal we'd tried to book at the pub attached to the hotel ended up being at a restaurant about quarter of a mile walk away, which was a problem in itself because one of the group couldn't walk that far. Then the restaurant had run out of both tonic water and also fish and chips which at least one of the party had wanted.
Breakfast was absolute chaos as it was a serve yourself situation and they ran out of so many items, including glasses and mugs.

The last week has been more stressful than usual although I did discover that our local petrol station employs meercats behind the cash registers.

Yesterday I popped in to fill up with petrol before we went away for the day. As I was paying I caught a woman member of staff looking at me from the corner of my eye. She popped behind the counter and walked around the where the chap who was serving me was sat. She then looked straight at me. Completing my transaction I turned and left. As I was walking across the forecourt I turned and looked back and could see her staring at me and talking to the guy who'd served me. At that point his head popped up over the top of the till and they both stared in my direction.
Ok, I accept I probably wasn't looking my best yesterday but that was a spectacularly rude thing to do.
Still it was funny in its own way.

Last week my Dad rung me as Mum had been into hospital to get some test results. She's had a problem breathing for a while and when she went in recently for the hospital to have a look at why they'd removed what was thought was mucus from her but which they then said was a bit of food.
When they went back last week the doctors told them that she had cancer, their not sure whether its kidney or lung cancer but given her problems with breathing I'm hedging on the latter. She has an appointment at a different hospital tomorrow for some form of x-ray which will hopefully confirm what it is. We'll find out all the details on Friday when we go up to see them.

This week started off in spectacular style with Rhys being in a lot of pain. He's been having these pains for a number of weeks now. The doctors aren't sure what are causing it. Normally he has them at night just around bedtime. Sunday was no different.
Monday morning he woke up and still had the pain, a first.
We contacted the hospital and ended up spending the day there while they gave him pain relief and observed him. Eventually the pain subsided and we came home.
Yesterday he had an appointment for an ultrasound at our local hospital. The scan didn't show anything untoward and in fact showed that his kidneys were both working fine and looked normal. Something we'd been worried about after the radiotherapy.

In the afternoon we headed to Bristol so that he could have a MRI scan. This proved to be more problematic.
Everything was fine, the nurse collected us from the waiting room, Rhys got himself ready and we went into the room where they were going to do the scan. In another first I was told I could stay in there with him. I just had to sit in a chair and wear ear defenders during the procedure.
Well it was the most riveting experience, not. I almost dozed off a couple of times.
After about 20 minutes and not even a third of the way through the scan things took a turn for the worst.
Rhys pressed the panic button and the nurse came and got him out of the machine. He was in the worst pain that he had been in with his stomach. There was no way he could continue with the scan. Getting him dressed and with the pain subsiding slightly we got him to the oncology day unit where they checked him over without figuring out anymore about what was causing the problem than anyone else has done to date. They gave him pain relief and we were able to come home. Although the pain has eased from time to time its not gone away. He's managed to get some sleep over night but it looks like we're going to have to take him into hospital again today, something that is upsetting him because it means he has to miss college.
To top it all his Mum and I needed to be in Plymouth by lunchtime so that my she can see a consultant about her Neurofibromatosis. Something that we've been trying to organize since Rhys was diagnosed with his tumour. She really needs to see this consultant so that she can be monitored, the last thing we need is for her to be taken seriously ill and it be too late to do anything about it. Rhys is in such a state though that we're going to have to postpone that so that we can be around today in order to work with the doctors to come up with a plan to figure out what is wrong with him.

All in all its been a pretty mixed few weeks. Still the sun is shining and we've had the driest September for a while. As a bonus I found out last night that one of the girls from my GIC who went to Brighton the week before me has had her date for surgery. Hopefully I'll be able to get my date too. We'll see when I ring later.

Have a good one :-)