28 Jul 2009
This is awfy early but I’ve an idea that I want to put out there.
I want to go to Finland’s EJC next year. That’s not the idea btw.
I want to drive there. I reckon it’ll take me a couple of days going at full speed and not seeing anything. So stuff that.
I want to take a week getting there going through Germany, Poland, the Baltic states before getting a ferry to Helsinki and then up to the site.
After the EJC the idea is to take a further week to drive through Finland, Sweden and Norway before coming home to the UK via the Bergen-Newcastle ferry.
So a 3 week trip then.
If I decide to go for this then I’d like companions to come along for the craic.
I’d expect it to be one set of 3 passengers there and another set of 3 back, maybe.
If you know of anyone who might be up for that sort of hols then let me know. First come, first served!
24 Jul 2009
There was sad news this morning. It was on the news as “the government aren’t doing enough”.
There’s a pregnant woman horribly ill with flu. So ill she’s been flown to Sweden to have ECMO. The only place in the UK that does ECMO for adults is at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester. And she can’t go there as it’s full at the mo.
You may know that that’s where I used to work. One of the places I worked there was in ITU, where they did the ECMO.
Now the caveat: My info may well be old.
The main reason that there’s no other adult ECMO site in the UK is that it tended not to work well for adults. It’s great for newborns. It just doesn’t do well for adults. Have a look here and go to the leaflet at the bottom; it doesn’t even mention adults.
My first thought on hearing this news was “they’re keeping her alive long enough for the baby to grow to viable”. Would you want the NHS to spend huge amounts of cash for such a service? Is it really the government’s fault for not rolling out a treatment that’s not great, obscenely expensive and still in the research phase?
Again I hope that I’m missing a lot of work that’s been done over the last 7 years since I was there.
Fingers crossed for her.
20 Jul 2009
What a weekend.
This was my first going-away-to join-some-other-couchsurfers weekend away. Someone had thrown together a let’s-all-go-hiking thing together and I’d managed to get a couple of folk to share the drive up there with.
I met the first, Esther, at Leics train station at 2.15. The second should have been there then but his train was delayed so it was at about 2.45 that we met Vivek. And away!
The weather wasn’t going to be great but the rain was pretty minor at this point. The traffic, however, was bad. It took an age to get to Leeds where my final passenger was to be picked up. We were there nearly 2 hours later than I’d hoped and her phone hadn’t been giving her text messages on time. So she’d been there 2 hours despite us sending her repeated updates of when we’d arrive.
So an annoyed Russian then (please don’t switch my gas off).
The drive wasn’t so bad from this point but the weather was turning miserable. The company wasn’t though so it was an enjoyable trip.
Sat-nav at one point guided me off the A1, drove me round a small town for a bit and then guided me back on to the A1 again. Well impressed with that!
We were to arrive at a small campsite in a little place called Beadnell.
Heaving rain and blowing a gale it were, oh yes and starting to get quite dark.
The gruff bloke at the site whinged at us for being part of a disorganised group and that 2 of our number were sharing with someone but didn’t know whether the someones had arrived. The other knew that someone had arrived but couldn’t remember her surname. I was unbooked and unknown but I was supposed to pitch on the spare bit of someone else’s pitch but I didn’t know her surname either.
So I mentioned: “If it’s going to stay like this then I’ll sleep in the car anyway.”
Ooh that didn’t go down well. “Not in my campsite you won’t”.
Being a born rebel I stayed in my car that night. I didn’t see the point in trying to pitch a tent in howling winds and copious rain when there was a perfectly dry and comfy car handy.
Frankly I’m amazed all the tents stayed up that night. Some half blew down and others weren’t up to keeping all the water out so there were some grumpy campers in the morning. Shocking weather, it really was bad.
Now by Sat am we’d not really met many folk. There was nowhere at the campsite to congregate under a roof. So when I got up was when I first met the “organiser” and others. People were remaining keen for the day’s hike. The weather was resolutely unpleasant.
But off to find the start of the hike. It was to be in the National Park. I had Vivek with me and others had joined cars with people they’d shared tents with.
We were first off. Place wasn’t on the satnav (not mine or anyone else’s). The signs were ominous. There were plenty of mildly flooded roads. I went a touch too fast through one large puddle and there was a horrible scraping noise from the front of the car afterwards. I thought it was in the wheel arch at first but couldn’t see anything there. It carried on and eventually I spotted that some plastic had come adrift at the front. (If it helps my dad called it the “sump plate”)
By the time I spotted that it was the dodgy bit it had split but was temporarily mended by a bit of brute force. It held for a few miles or so before needing “mending” again. This went on a while.
As we were nearing our destination we came up to a “weak bridge” that seemed rather pointless as the river wasn’t just under it but around it as well. We were concerned that people would be battling on and waiting for us at the rendezvous so we edged through what was quite a speedy rapid to get to the bridge and over. Safely done.
Further on there was the entrance to the park and the start of a 4 mile drive in the park to the meeting point. Most of this went well until we hit another longer flooded bit. A 4×4 was coming the other way and we flagged him down to ask what the road was like and we were given a “I really wouldn’t advise it” from him. It seemed sensible to concur. So back to a small village with a cafe to take stock.
Bacon buttie. Nom nom.
OK so we weren’t going to be doing the original planned walk. But there were other options for hiking. We got a local tourist map and headed out to a smaller 6 miler from another local village. The journey had more flooded roads which were ok for passing until we got near our target and the road simply disappeared under water.
At the other side was a family in a land rover. And they weren’t risking it. So we didn’t either.
OK back to the first village and try a different route. Nope, that route was flooded out too. There was a 3rd way though. That was flooded as well but passable, slowly. One of our cars (there were 3 in my group) conked out in it. My “repair” decided that it had had enough and seemed irreparable.
Wasn’t going well at this point. We’d had about 3 hours of driving by now and got precisely nowhere; all there was to show was a group of annoyed people and a damaged car.
Eventually I managed both to completely repair the front of my car (with a brief stop and think before slightly more precise brute force did the trick) and add to the floods by stopping to piss on Northumbria; well it had done the same to me for the better part of 24 hours by this point.
Around now we’d had contact from others in the group saying “go to Bamburgh castle”. Back to the A1 and an easy drive (with only 2 major floods to ford) later we were there. By the time we arrived they all wanted to go to Lindesfarne. Annoyed now, we’d been just about 7 miles from there on the way back to Bamburgh Castle. Grrr.
I slept a bit whilst those in my group of 3 cars had a look round the castle before we all headed up to Lindesfarne.
The day actually got quite a bit better from here. The drive was easier and the weather finally started to look up. IE it wasn’t incessantly drizzling.
Got there and spent a nice 3 hours looking round and finally chatting to some of the others who’d braved the trip up.
Some really nice folk it must be said.
I’d picked up a couple of Australians for the ride back to the camp and we headed home.
Now Lindesfarne is on an island and the causeway is only passable at low tide. We were on the causeway and I felt that there was an odd noise coming from the left of the car. Could something else really have gone wrong?
Well yes. Stopping at a passing point I had a look to find a flat rear tyre. Arse.
We changed it reasonably easily but the crap of the first half of the day hit me around now and I wasn’t in the best of moods.
Once back at the site the 4 of us went for chips and fish which was surprisingly excellent. None of us were having the best time so it was no extra surprise that it started raining on us when we out eating our fish.
At this point me, Esther and Vivek all agreed that, rather than paying for an extra night’s misery, we’d hang around to chat and meet people but then would drive home over night. I think we’d all had enough of this.
So to meet the group. They were all getting ready to head to the beach (100m away hurrah) with food for a bbq.
We walked with them for a bit and discovered that they were going about “20mins walk away” to a “nicer” beach. Aarrgh!!!! What’s wrong with the one over the road?
So we walked along the beach but lost the leaders who’d gone along the road. After clambering a lot we got to the road but this mythical “better” beach wasn’t anywhere to be found. The 3 of us companions looked at each other and silently agreed “stuff this for a lark!”
So home we went.
Got back to Leicester at around 2.30 Sunday morning. On the trip I’d spent about £100 on fuel, broke my new car twice, replaced a tyre (actually 2 as one other needed changing – another £200), not camped, not hiked, not had anything in the way of nice weather, and not met many folk who’d gathered for this trip.
Well bloody worth it I must say.
Still, those I met were lovely so hello to Peta, Esther, Vivek and Gunilla and a few others. Maybe one day we’ll meet in happier circumstances…
Photos to come when I get my home internet back.
06 Jul 2009
Another busy weekend!
On Saturday I was in Birmingham at the jazz festival. I’d specifically wanted to see “The Hot Djazz Trio of Cracow”. Never heard of them before but they sounded intriguing enough.
They turned out to be pretty decent. Two guitars and a double bass. No singing and no banter (I guess their English wasn’t too great) but the music was good. It reminded me of fillums of the Caribbean for some reason.
And that was Satdy.
Sunday was spent in the company of walkers in Derbyshire (not the “Vale of Pewter” tho). We started in Monyash and did about an 8 mile walk. Some lovely people and conversation for the day.
I think I may well be walking next Sunday too. Grand.
03 Jul 2009
I’m off away to Northumbria with a bunch of couch-surfers in a couple of weeks. Should be a giggle.
I’m driving and we’ve organised a lift share so I’m driving up with an Indian guy, a Russian lass and an Aussie lass.
So as long as they don’t conform too strongly to national stereotypes I’ll be quite happy.
I’m most concerned by the Russian. I don’t want my gas cut off if I annoy her.
Oh and I had another couchsurfer stay this week. Guy called Chris who is a “Montserratian-Canadian” who grew up in the US. Nice mix and a sound bloke.