Saturday, 26 January 2013

WoW that was a tough outing!!!

OMG!!! I'm either really, really unfit, or today's outing was just really, really tough, maybe it was a bit of both to be fair as I'm absolutely knackered after today's adventure.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Invited to do a chat on BBC Radio Tees...Awesome!!!

Quite out the blue I got a phone call a few weeks back asking if I would like to take part in a afternoon chat show upon BBC Radio Tees. well of course I jumped at the opportunity. I had already done a small slot with Neil Green last year, which I found most enjoyable and everyone down at BBC Radio Tees were brilliant on that occasion, setting my nerves at ease (I mean it's live and well I get the jitters). This time round was no different, again I was a bit nervous, but the staff at the station were fantastic, everyone from the secretary on the front desk who made both my dad and I a nice cup of coffee (my dad was doing his normal duty chauffeuring me around lol) I feel rather guilt actually as like I say this was my second visit to BBC Radio Tees and this is the second time I have forgotten to get the secretary's name. She is a lovely lady and told us she was retiring soon, so in the off chance she gets to read this on my Blog I would  like to wish her the best of luck and hope she has a very happy retirement.

John Foster BBC Radio Tees presenter and myself
 We were led upstairs just before 2:00pm and I was due to go on air and this is when I met a cracking lad named Rob Law, he took us through to the studio and this is whereI was introduced to John Foster the afternoon shows presenter. John immediately set me at ease explaining what was going to go on and promising not to ask any "Jeremy Paxton type questions" as he put it lol. John's a real easy guy to get on with, very warm and friendly a credit to the BBC.

And so I went on air at around 2:00. I had been asked to choose a few of my favourite tunes before going on air, this was actually quite difficult as I have so many tracks floating around in my head. I think I made some canny song choices as a few people have commented since listening to the segment.

I thought the chat went very well, the time flew by and I tried to pack in as much information and recall as much stuff as I could. I also tried not to slip to many "err's and umms" in between my words, this is very difficult to do, as when your speaking live the odd err or umm gives you time to think of what your going to say next. One of my friends commented that he thought the interview was really good as I didn't come across as some "thick Geordie" who puts "like" at the end of the sentence "if ye knaw what a mean like" lol. I'm proud of my accent of course, however thought I should probably put my "telephone voice" on as not everyone may understand me. Another of my American Facebook friends who listened in complimented me saying he could understand me perfectly which was very nice.

So I really enjoyed my experience yet again on BBC Radio Tees, it's nice to feel that little bit special now and again, what I think is more important is showing people what you can do if you set yourself a challenge or goal. I was asked by John do I feel inspirational and I answered truthfully saying not really, however if  by seeing me someone can take inspiration and then go on to improve their circumstance, situation or life then I don't need thanks I'm just happy to have played some role.

I had real probs trying to upload this,  if you would like to listen to my afternoons chat on BBC Radio Tees with John Foster you can find it here along with some of my photo's...

Sunday, 20 January 2013

First ride of the year,so excited,knew I'd forgotten Something...

I awoke this morning to a fresh covering of snow. I was really excited as this was to be my first ride of the new year. My Surly Nate's had arrived Friday and my dad had fitted them whilst I was at work, great stuff. 

I got myself sorted and popped out to our shed to just check my bike over. "Dam" I noticed I had a flat on the back. Don't know how that happened as it wasn't like a nip of the tube when my dad had put the tyres on. Never mind it was a fairly quick fix, the hardest part was actually trying to find the hole as it was tiny, no bigger than a pin prick. I used one of my Leyzne ready glued patches and this did the trick sealing the tube nicely. It was then just a case of re-inflating the tyre. I pumped them up to 8psi, not entirely sure what is the best pressure for snowy conditions, however thought this would be a good start to try.

My plans were to just have a short ride out and kind of get back in the swing of things see how the Nate's performed. I had also arranged with a Ade a good friend of mine to get some "fun" shots as he's pretty handy with a camera. 

So Ade met me down mine and he brought along his son Simon who was going to be the sherpa for the day carrying Ade's camera gear.

And so we set off Ade and Simon in his car and my dad and myself in ours (Ern wanted to tag along to see if I fell off in the snow I think) To be honest my dad is my number one fan, he's a great bloke so is well deserving of a mention.

 I like to cheer people up and make them chuckle so had come up with the idea of doing something maybe a little different whilst out on my bike and in the snow. 

This was to prove hilarious especially when Ade spotted some walkers out along the trail. We were in the woods and he kind of panicked saying "quick hide there's someone coming"..."No really Glenn I'm not joking there's someone coming". The walkers didn't come along our trail, however imagine there surprise if they had. To be confronted by a half man, half mechanical dude in the buff riding a Fat Bike...Coldest part of me today btw was my fingers, note to self...must buy some new winter gloves...

  What a difference the Surly Nate's make when riding on stuff like snow and thick mud. Yeah I found they dragged a bit when I was on my way home and had to venture onto a little bit of tarmac, however it wasn't too bad.

My Bartlett Tendon also performed well. My confidence has grown immensely over the years I have been using the unit and what with the way the new "cam" helps make the knee feel more progressive, well it's just brilliant.Oh and check out my shiny Pace carbon Fibre socket, everything has just come together and I feel so lucky to be able and get out on days like this...

Anyhoo thoroughly enjoyed my first small ride of the year. It was really fun filled with loads of laughs. It does you good to go a little mad now and again.

 When we had finished shooting the pics we returned to the cars. I decided I would just ride home. To be honest I wasn't all that cold considering all I had on was a pair of shorts with nowt underneath & a base layer, jersey and jacket...The coldest part of me being my finger ends and toes on one foot (the other actually felt remarkably warm and toasty, it's funny the sensations you get as an amputee)

 I was a little sore when I got in around where I have recently had surgery, good news my wound is intact and hasn't split. It now appears to be healing nicely, only a few anti-biotics left to take. So looks like I'm ok to get back out on my bike. Hoping to get some nice photo's and video's this year and achieve a few more goals I have set myself...

Huge thanks to Ade & Simon I think we all had a really good day out, it's one of those days you can look back on and say "Can you remember the time". Oh and also a big thank you to my dad, what with helping put my tyres on yesterday then helping me sort my bike and ferrying me around these past few months back and forth to work, well I know I have a dad in a million. For me this is what it's all about just getting out there and having a laugh & some fun especially with good m8's and it's a bonus when you can bring a laugh and a smile to your dear old pop through your mad antics lol....

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Just ordered some Surly Nate's for my Fat Bike...

Well I'm well fed up, got my self a Fat Bike and the snow is pretty much on the ground, yet I haven't been for a ride this year. No it's not because I'm afraid of the cold weather.As many of you will know it's because I've had surgery, just a small biopsy, unfortunately this went on to get infected so has delayed my recovery slightly. 

 I have to admit when walking on snow and ice with my normal everyday prosthetic limb it's pretty difficult and scary, very weird when you can't feel your foot, so not entirely sure when it's under you or not lol. I think I much prefer to be on my bike, somehow I get a sense it will be much more stable.

Anyhoo onto the subject of this post... I've found it quite difficult riding over the last few wet months. I've just have no traction in this thick gloopy stuff we have had around on local trails. So I decided to seek advice from fellow Fat Bikers and invest in a pair of Surly Nate's. I ordered my tyres from Charlie the Bike Monger and they should arrive here any day now. As soon as they are here, it will be a case of off with my current tyre's which are Surly Larry's and on with the new Nate's. Then it's just getting the all clear to say it's pretty much safe to ride, nothings going to split open or drop off and I will be out on the trails testing them out. In fact come Saturday if I feel up to it I may have an ickle  none to strenuous look out as it's my intention to get some shots each month for a calendar project I have in mind, so need to catch at least one pic for each month...If something does drop off I can always get a photo I suppose for that month lol...

From Surly Website

Saturday, 12 January 2013

A bit of a walk, a bit of beachcombing...

Unfortunately I'm still not fully recovered from my biopsy the other week, contracting an infection has slowed things down slightly. I mean the wound itself has closed up nicely you would/will hardly be able to see the scar, well that's if I chose to show you as it's in a well shall we say sensitive area. I'm now on extra antibiotics (Amoxi-clav) after making an appointment to see the nurse up at my GP's practice. Still in quite a bit of discomfort because of the swollen area and I'm taking extra pain meds, just in the form of codeine to try and keep the pain at bay. It's not as bad as it was so that's good news.

Anyhoo I decided to give the old cycling a miss for a little while yet until I'm feeling fully sorted. Feels like ages since I've been out on my bike and I hate that as I know when I do come to go out my fitness will have deserted me yet again and I'll have to start all over from scratch. I suppose I should be used to it as my riding and fitness has always been up and down,due to one thing or another, mainly health concerns,broken bikes or indeed broken prosthetics. Never mind I always seem to bounce back and though I may not be the quickest or fittest bloke in the world no one can say I don't try and give it my best shot.

So like the heading says of my latest blog I decided to go for a bit of a walk and also do a spot of beach combing. Last year I had been scouring the beach down at Sunderland and towards South Shields for what I call nice bits of drift wood. My plan was to make something, maybe a sculpture of some sort, or even a nice candle holder or picture frame in which I could pop one of my coastal photo's of me out on my Fat Bike. I didn't have much luck finding any nice bits of wood last year really. Now I can put this down to a couple of reasons 1. When ever I got down to the beach the tractor had already beat me to it and cleared up the sands ready for visitors and 2. My OCD tendencies kicked in and I just couldn't find pieces of wood which passed my incredibly high standards of precision and perfectionism...I know screwed up as this is drift wood we are talking about here lol...Hey welcome to my world, it can be hard to be me some days ha ha.

Back to today's walk, well we started at South Shields, when I say we I mean Ern (my dad) who had tagged along and Mr Hinks my English Bull Terrier. We had a little stroll along the beach and soon discovered it was a bit brisk, also not much to be found on that section of the beach, so we headed back to our car and drove further up towards Little Haven, where we got out and went for a little more of a walk and look around. I stopped to take a few shots with my new mobile phone a Samsung Galaxy S3 and was pretty happy with a few of the photo's which I upped straight away from the device to Facebook after I had tweaked them using an app called Snapseed. Then we set off along the coastline in the car and found ourselves at Roker. Unfortunately the tide was right in so we couldn't get down onto the majority of the beach. On the bit we could manage to get on there were various pebbles, of which I chose a few nice ones that caught my eye (I bring them home and pop them in a large clear vase I have on our kitchen window sill, it will make a nice feature when it's full, well I think it will, all different shapes and sizes and colours of pebbles, oh and also some washed glass which reflects quite nicely. There was also quite a bit of drift wood though as I have said I'm really very picky and only 2 pieces passed my examination. Never mind I was chuffed as I think once it's cleaned and dried out I will be able to complete my picture frame. So watch out for a blog post of me exhibiting my handy work lol.

After completing the small loop of the beach we were freezing, so it was a case of returning to our car and cracking open the nice hot drinks and sandwiches I had prepared. Mmmm a lovely variety of jam and chocolate spread on fruit loaf, my speciality, washed down with nice hot coffee. Once warmed up as we really didn't have many other plans for the day we headed off for a walk around the marina at Sunderland. 

It was freezing, yet they were out at the sailing club
 I really enjoy being outdoors as you always meet nice folk to have a chat with on your travels, this can be whether your out cycling or just out for a walk and today was no exception. As we came around the footpath heading around towards the marina we came across a gentleman who was fishing. He was rubbing his hands together and like us was probably thinking "Boy is it cold today". As we got to him we struck up a conversation, basically asking " have ye been lucky 'nd caught oot like". To which he replied "ah just a few littlun's" which he had thrown back. Any-ways it turned out Dave I think his name was had just moved back home after living in South Africa since 1974. Both him and his wife had returned because it was just to dangerous living over there for security reasons and they had come back home to Sunderland. We enjoyed a good 15 to 20 mins chat I love hearing about other people lives and experiences. I suppose that's why I like working with the older patients in my new job, well those fortunate enough to be able to hold a conversation. They have such interesting, historical and at times magical tales to tell. 

 Eventually we got round the marina and completed our loop back to our car, by which time it was brassic and I couldn't feel my hands. Another quick slurp on some semi-warm coffee and we headed off home to pick up wor Kayleigh so as we could drop her off for work. I really don't know what she would do with out the assistance of "granddads taxi's". Saying which I'd be lost without my 2 best mates with whom though it wasn't quite as exciting as being out on my Fat bike with I still had an enjoyable time.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

A story entitled "Learning to Live with Cancer"

The following short story is about a very brave family who have gone through so much turmoil, both emotionally and physically in their personal battle against Cancer.

Cameron contacted me some months back, telling me he had come upon my blog quite by chance and after reading posts I had written felt a certain symmetry in how we both explain ourselves,how we write, the experiences we have gone through and all the emotions,fears and feelings that we have undergone.

Cameron asked would I be willing to share just some of the experiences of his family in the form of a short story he wrote on my blog about his wife's terrible disease and I agreed immediately.

 The internet is a fantastic way to share ones experiences and in doing so if it can shed even the tiniest bit of light on someone who is suffering, well that's quite an achievement.

Learning to Live with Cancer

My wife often tells me that she doesn't know how I got through a life-changing event. When Heather was diagnosed with mesothelioma, I didn't know what to say or even what to do, but slowly things fell into place. I hope that by sharing my experience here, I can help someone else currently facing a similar situation. 

Three months before her diagnosis, we were in the hospital, celebrating the birth of our first and only child, Lily. With such great joy and excitement in our lives, it was hard to imagine the time that was to follow. Sitting in the doctor's office just a few months later, we experienced the worst moment of either of our lives. When the doctors told us that my wife had mesothelioma, I looked at Heather, tears welling up in her eyes, and could not imagine how we were ever going to get through this.

Overwhelmed, I went through a brief moment of breaking down, but her doctor’s rapid questions about future medical decisions we would be asked to make brought me back to the present. It was the first time of many more occasions where we would have to make choices under the stress of severe emotional upheaval. I can only thank Heather for being strong even when we both had doubts.

Right after the meeting with doctors, I only felt anger and fear, which would come out in unexpected ways, particularly when I was frustrated. I cussed, ranted and raged at the smallest things. I felt angry at the world for putting us in this impossible, unfair situation. I knew that I couldn't be like that, and it didn’t take long for me to realize how selfish I was being. For my wife and daughter, I had to be strong, and eventually, it began to set in that this was more than a passing moment. It was going to be many months, maybe years. I never wanted my wife to see how scared I was. From that moment on, I did my very best to be nothing but a source of hope and optimism for my wife.

Afteragnosis, my to-do list grew considerably, and I had to learn to cope with all these new responsibilities. I had to help raise Lily, take care of Heather, our pets, while also holding down my full time job and helping to plan travel arrangements, doctors appointments, and so much more. Being that overwhelmed, I often felt that I couldn't take one more thing added to the list. I learned to prioritize and make choices, taking the list on one item at a time in order of importance.  I also learned very quickly to accept help from anyone who offered. Without the incredible outpouring pport from our loving friends and family, I honestly don’t know how we would have made it through this difficult time.

After work on a Friday, I decided to drive to my wife and baby in South Dakota. It was an 11-hour drive through a snow storm. I slept on the side of the road at one point as the plows worked to clear the snow. I arrived on Saturday and spent the rest of the day with my family, as well as part of Sunday, before driving back for work on Monday. It was a lot of exhausting travel for a few precious hours of time with them, but it was worth every second.

I never look back on this time away from them with regret, as hard as it was. Instead, I see that we had to be strong and we had to cope in the way that was right for our family. With cancer, we had to make many difficult decisions that no one should ever have to make, but we learned not to despair in those decisions. Instead, we learned to take comfort in the fact that we even had the ability to make decisions at all, and that gave us some small sense of control over a situation which all-too-often seemed completely out of our control.  

I learned a lot during this time. I appreciated my family more. I learned to accept help from neighbors, friends and family, and I also learned the value of making tough decisions. It took a lot of time for us to get to a better place, but after 6 years, Heather is still here and healthy, despite the overwhelming odds stacked against her. I hope that our story can be a source of hope and comfort to all those currently battling cancer.

I'll end by saying remarkably brave family and I wish you the best of luck in the future. A real pleasure posting on your behalf Cameron I hope your story can indeed bring hope and comfort to those people who need it.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

You know that job your doing?...Well how would you like to get paid?

So today was the day of my job interview. Being totally honest I wasn't nervous in the least, not because I was overly confident and presumed I would get the job, No quite the opposite really I had no expectations. I just felt I didn't need to put extra pressure on myself and decided to go into the interview, try my best and then let fate and of course to two very nice interviewees decide the outcome.

I had been successful in making it to the short list. Of the 240 applicants I managed to get in the last 11. I have to say I even surprised myself, it's not so much that I'm not perfectly capable of doing stuff, it's more a case of I'm overly critical of myself and just never seem to give myself credit for the majority of things...Errrr everything I do. 

Maybe I should think in a 3rd person perspective more, as if I was a good friend and give myself a well earned pat on the back now and again lol.

A couple of the senior physio's I work with had been carrying out the interviews. I suppose some may say I had an unfair advantage as I knew them through doing my voluntary work, however I don't think this is the case. The field of candidates I was up against was very strong and during my 2 months filling in in the position of assistant physio I have proven that I have learnt a huge amount in such a short space of time I'm committed,caring,determined and positive I always try to put others first whether that be patients or staff and generally act in a warm and friendly manner. Obviously this hasn't gone un-noticed and that's why I have been given this wonderful opportunity.

I was well pleased when the senior physio called and said "Hey you know that job you have been doing, well how would you like to do it and get paid"

On my way home I posted on Facebook about my good news and I have to say I was blown away by the fantastic responses I got from family and friends, offering well wishes and amazing support.

It's very weird (in a good way) to describe how I feel when people comment on how I'm "inspirational", you see I just don't see it. When I look in the mirror all I see is an ordinary bloke who has maybe had a little less luck than some, however more than others. When things go wrong in life you try to fix them and when you can't fix them you either put them to one side and let go or you move on and adapt,or there is the other option of course you just plain old simply give in. Really all I'm doing is trying the best I can with what I have,concentrating on what I can do, rather than focusing on what I can't, giving in just isn't an option. 

Anyhoo I've rambled enough, would like to end by saying a huge thank you to everyone who has passed on well wishes and support. To those people who can see something in me that still evades assured though I won't let you down...