Category Archives: Family

Take a break

As many of you may be aware, I was training to take part in the 2013 Grim Challenge when I managed to injure myself. The injury has so far stopped me running for over 6 months.

Luckily cousin Wendy still managed to do the Grim.

Luckily cousin Wendy still managed to do the Grim.

I was increasing my training pace and distance gradually so as not to injure myself when at the tail end of August 2013 I managed to hurt my leg.

I had a lovely endorphin rush whilst setting my best distance & time out running. There was a bit of a pull on my leg as I was running, but I thought nothing of it for the last two miles. I simply thought it was a slight twist or shin splint.

I got home, happy with my run, then sat down to a cup of tea.

I went to stand up and I couldn’t put any weight on it. Incredibly painful. I couldn’t even stand having it touch the floor without weight on it. In a word: PAIN.

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Lumpy

I went straight to Accident & Emergency where I had the leg looked at. An X-Ray showed nothing to worry about, although this was 2 hours after it happened. I did asked if I should go back in a few days for another X-Ray, as a stress fracture would not show due to swelling so soon after it had happened, but the hospital staff said it was fine.

I was told it was muscular & to try and keep weight off, but keep it moving & stretching lightly during the healing period so that the muscle wouldn’t tighten up. I was given some strong anti-inflammatory pain killers.

3 weeks later I went to the doctor & said it was getting worse. He said that is expected from muscle injuries.

3 more weeks & the doctor decides this isn’t quite right after I show swelling and increased tenderness in a specific point on my tibia.  I finally go for the second X-Ray.

When the results came through there were blatantly obvious fractures. The swelling appeared to be new bone growth that was trying to heal over the fracture, but I kept re-breaking whilst following the original advice of ‘keep it moving‘.

The specialist who saw me at this time said the last thing I should be doing is moving it around or putting weight on it… Yeah, that really didn’t surprise me.

A removable cast was fitted & worn for several months to no avail. It remained very painful.

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Plastic Fantastic

I went back to the specialist who agreed something wasn’t right. I had an MRI scan carried out & a few weeks later when the specialist got the results he became concerned at what could be seen on the MRI scan images.

The specialist immediately sent me for a priority ‘same day‘ CT scan. I was a little concerned as they are usually reserved for serious bone issues or tissue problems such as tumours. I didn’t think it could be a serious bone issue, after all at this point my leg had been broken for close to 6 months… not exactly an urgent life or death break… which left a nagging ‘tumour‘ thought in my mind, which I pushed almost entirely to one side.

I tell you, nothing makes you panic in a hospital like being rushed around for urgent scans by a specialist. Suddenly I longed for the hospital visits that take so long you can finish a couple of good books whilst waiting…

A few hours later and the CT results come through with good news. I was told that the dark tissue areas were nothing to worry about (the fact they hadn’t mentioned these areas before did make me think that they had thought they might be a serious problem – hence the need for a CT scan). The fracture on the other hand showed no signs of healing. It had possibly stopped healing due to initial ‘muscle’ treatment & painkillers masking the injury.

I’m now over 6 months into this broken leg and have a few options left, which aren’t really options…

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Oh Snap!

I have a fixed cast on my leg that covers my foot and comes halfway over my knee. In a few days time I am starting ultrasonic treatment to try and aggravate the fracture to try and kick start the healing process. To do this they will cut a small hatch in my leg cast for me to apply the treatment each day for 20 minutes for 6 weeks.

At the end of that they will scan the leg again and if the ultrasonic treatment is not successful, they will commence with putting a titanium rod down through the top of my tibia just under the kneecap, down to the bottom by the ankle.

Basically… really, really basically… it’s this:

This CGI shows the more technically accurate version, which is oddly less graphically repulsive,

YUMMY…..

So… the challenge is to do the Grim Challenge 2014… Watch this space.

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IHOOT – I had one of those

UPDATED:

I figured I’d see if I could list all the motor vehicles I have owned – with pictures – for Alex. The pictures are stock web pictures (apart from the Supra and the MZwhich are mine). I didn’t take pictures of all of the vehicles I owned, and do have some regrets.

I wouldn’t have written this blog, but after a few moments thought I realised I have owned a fair few vehicles – so well worth a blog entry!

Honda H100

I started out with a Honda H100 motorbike. I had this for a while before getting my drivers license. It was a nippy 2 stroke 100cc bike whose engine blew up twice. I holed the piston by using the wrong petrol…. in other words I used the fuel recommended by the idiots at Motorcycle city specifically for that bike when I bought it (new).

Austin Mini 1000 (in baby poo brown)

I have vague recollections of what order I bought these vehicles in. Once I had passed my driving test I ran cars and bikes at the same time.

As with a lot of people at the time I started out on the driving route with a Mini.. an Austin Mini in baby poop brown… It was slow and sluggish… and I never got a chance to drive it as I owned it to learn in, but had to sell it before I got my licence. I found out why it was slow though… it had rusted out under the front floor pans, so the previous owner put in some bin bags and filled in cement over the top!

1275GT Mini - Great fun!

1275GT Mini – Great fun!

I liked the idea of the Mini, so after I passed my test I bought a souped up 1275GT from my nephew. Just because they are family doesn’t mean you should trust them…. This Mini 1275GT had a fibre-glass bulkhead where the old one had rotted out and a gearbox that had been put together by a chimp. It held together for a while – in fact my first trip out once I got my licence was into London at night in the rain. It had an odd trick of filling the rear bumper with un-burnt fuel…. now and then it would back fire on a down change and the rear end would light up like an old fashioned camera flash!

It died one day when they poorly rebuilt gear mechanism decided to punch out of the gearbox case and empty its oil everywhere… So ended my Mini adventure…

With no lessons learnt about the Austin/Leyland range of cars I went and got an Austin Metro… I bought it from Yorkshire under the instruction of my then brother-in-law. He was an Army mechanic, so what could go wrong?

I left Yorkshire and didn’t even get to a motorway. The engine died. Brother-in-law came out and towed me back to his place where we proceeded to pull the engine out at the side of the road. New piston rings, re-ground valves… and good to go! All on the roadside….

Austin Mini Metro - Not a boat

Austin Mini Metro – Not a boat

The fun didn’t stop there. The petrol tank developed a leak because the metal was so old and porous. I decided it needed welding, but not being an idiot I figured it needed to vent for a while before any work was done to it. I drilled a hole in the bottom of the car and put a metal fuel can in the boot. I then fed a fuel pipe to the engine from the can in the boot. This enable me to open up the cars fuel tank to vent until I got around to repair it.

One day during some floods in the South East I had to stop as the flood water was blocking my lane. The oncoming traffic flashed me to go around… and then decided to drive at me anyway! I had to move back into the flooded lane, where the car started to bob around…. I floated into a ditch and slowly sunk. The water came 12″ up inside the car and the funny thing was that the fuel gauge started to fill up as the tank filled with flood water as I sank! Luckily there were some Gurkha’s out in an Army Land Rover. Great guys towed me to safety. I cleaned the points and the engine started up with no problem! The car was pretty wrecked in general, so it went off for scrap in the end.

Bullet proof Honda CB100

Bullet proof Honda CB100

During the Metro days I also had a Honda CB100 that I had bought from a neighbour. Typical bullet proof Honda! One day I had it steaming at 80mph and the engine seized on me. The wheel locked up, so I grabbed the clutch and coasted to a halt. I left it to cool for a few minutes and it started up again. Brilliant!

Astra/Bedford Van

Astra/Bedford van

With the Metro gone I needed new wheels – or at least wheels that worked. I bought a Vauxhaul Astra Mk2 van in white. It was a shed, but it was a laugh! I used it a fair bit shifting equipment for a band I used to help out. Funny story with this shed was when I was working the Night Shift at Dan Air. At around 5am I was on my way home and I was stopped by the Police. I was a young kid at the time, so they were a bit suspicious at the time I was out on the road. They looked over the van and told me I needed new tyres. A few hours later I picked up a nice set of alloys from a breakers yard. I had no time to fit them, so into the back of the van they went until the next day when I could fit them.

Mk3 Escort - Smoking Steering wheel

Mk3 Escort – Smoking Steering wheel

After the next shift I was driving home and second day on the trot the Police pulled me over. They looked over the van and asked me to open the back…. where a lovely set of alloys were sitting – too nice for this old van! I had to explain that I was pulled the night before and bought these to fix the problem…and I was so sorry that I was driving on the old tyres as I really should have changed them before driving again. They let me off as they saw I was trying to do the right thing!

I went from the van to a Mk3 Ford Escort that I part exchanged with one of the guys I was an apprentice with. It was a pretty good car in all – until it decided to blow oil out the top of the engine and smoke poured up and around the steering wheel! I had to drive home Ace Ventura style, hanging out of the window!

Suzuki GSX250E - Glasgow Rattler

Suzuki GSX250E – Glasgow tedium

I was pottering around on a Suzuki GSX250E at this time. A great solid bike that I bought from a guy at my work. Yes, not something you’d want to do normally, but in this case it was a great buy. He used to buy up and rebuild these Suzi’s, so I figured I was in safe hands. I only sold it when I changed to a bigger

bike – but until that day it didn’t skip a beat. I rode all the way to Glasgow and back at 75mph (once more helping a band out). Not a great looking bike, but faultless.

Polo... No hole. Poor pun.

Polo… No hole. Poor pun.

The Escort went on its merry way and was replaced by an old VW Polo Formel e. The worst that could be said about this was it was brown and smoked like a steam train. Pretty economical and practical, but not much of a story. Funniest thing was the rear wash/wipe squirter jet. I rigged it to squirt the passenger. No idea why, but it was quite funny….

Honda CB500T (Rude Dog)

Honda CB500T (Rude Dog)

My bike needs lead me to a Honda 500T. This was nicknamed Rude Dog because of the way the licence plate looked (RHO 660P or something). I had loads of fun with this! Some of the girls I knew loved me taking them out on it as it went like stink, and being a twin cylinder had a great thumping engine (I guess they liked the sound……). I lost the Dog when I had to trade it to get a car fixed. The guy stitched me up, so before any paperwork was done I stole her back (it was still in my name, and no work had been done on my car – it was an all out rip off deal). I then sold her on to a guy who wanted to do a restoration. When I sold it on I had to sell it with no fuel tank, as some butt munch had stolen it!

The car/s Rude Dogs sale money went on for repairs were both Ford Mk3 Cortina Estates. I bought one and thought it was great fun, then a second one turned up a little later so I bought it for spares. In the end I used the first one for spares for the second one. I recall one story that a girlfriend at the time needed to get home, but it was raining. I didn’t really want to drive as

Ford Cortina Mk3... I owned two!

Ford Cortina Mk3… I owned two!

the Cortina was out of tax. I had a real bad feeling that night, but I couldn’t let her walk in that weather (it was bad). I was getting tax for it the next day, so figured I might get away with it… but to belt and braces the situation I grabbed Rude Dogs tax (which expired the next day). As I drove my girlfriend home I saw a guy jump into the road….. a Policeman with a speed gun. I was a little over the limit, so they decided to do a full check on the car.

Now bear in mind I had just got the car – the paperwork hadn’t fully gone through. I was stood at the side of the road with the Police sorting it all out. As you should do, I kept the talking simple and polite. The check went well and I was sent on my way…. but as I went to pull away the officer tapped my window and pointed at the tax disc….. and pointed out that it would expire the next day – so “keep an eye on that“…. JEEEZ!!! I was lucky there – and yes… the next day all the taxes were sorted out!

This was the first car I had that someone tried to steel. They smashed the lock and broke the ignition barrel… which was crazy, as I had forgotten to lock it and the keys were on the passenger seat! Even after the thieves had smashed into it, they couldn’t get it to start! Muppets!

CX500 - the underdog that barked

CX500 – the underdog that barked

The first bike I chopped was a Honda CX500. It was an MoT failure I picked up cheap. The rear suspension was shot to heck, so I hard tailed it, raked out the front end and made a new seat and panels for it from scratch. I am upset that I never took a photo of it – it was a really nice bike – Midnight blue and had great lines. I enjoyed riding it around, but had to get rid of it in the end due to house moves and money. If you ever get one, keep an eye on the oil/water seal, and ALWAYS get it fitted at a garage, because when it goes wrong being fitted (and it will go wrong), at least they will have to replace it for free – and it is an expensive seal! The photo isn’t mine – but it gives an idea of what mine looked like… although mine was lower at the back.

Yes... thats me on my chopped MZ250 ETZ

Yes… that’s me on my chopped MZ250 ETZ

Next along was the MZ250 ETZ. It cost me £50 and was a heap of crap! I ripped it apart, lowered it, chopped it and painted to look like an old Russian Army bike… I’ll give it its due, it went like stink – but it was less than comfy as I had hardtailed it! MZ’s were laughing stocks, so I never intended for it to be taken seriously – but so many people thought it was some old classic Soviet machine it got beyond a joke!

The MZ was joined by a cheaper form of transport – an old Honda C90. It didn’t last long, but did what it had to do for a while… until it simply died! I ride that around two up with a buddy of mine. We’d go to gigs and all sorts – it was a laugh, but a bit on the scary side as anyone who has ridden one will know! The C90 was the second bike that some thief had a go at. They couldn’t break the steering lock though, so I fond the bike 50 yards away in a bush. Gits.

The Honda 90 died and I robbed it to keep the MZ on the road…. yes… not a great idea, but I was into make do and mend! The MZ exhaust was shot away, so I swapped over the one from the C90. It didn’t work… It was a 4 stroke 90cc pipe going on a 250cc 2-stroke….. and it choked it so badly it would only do 22mph….. I cut the end off of the pipe to reduce the choking effect… and then I started to remove the baffles… and eventually the MZ was going pretty quickly.

The C90 - Who hasnt?

The C90 – Who hasn’t?

The day I did the exhaust mod I had to go into Guildford (via country lanes) as a friend of mine was in a bad way. I rode off into the night and after 30 minutes the Police came up behind me and pulled me over. They said they had been looking for me for a while, but the bike was so noisy and the sounds were reverberating around the woodlands they had trouble finding me. It didn’t sound too loud from the saddle,

Volvo... thats all....

Volvo… that’s all….

but sure enough, as I stood behind it the din was incredible! I had pretty much put a megaphone on an already load bike! I had to turn around and go home to fix it – the Police just didn’t want me riding it further than I had to! Very understanding!

During this time I had a Volvo 360… yes, a biker with a Volvo! it was…. erm… rugged… did what it had to do… and was actually quite fun. Small, but with a 2l engine and rear wheel drive…. but it didn’t last long as the gear lever and box fell off…. pah! You get what you pay for with cheap cars!!!

The Undying Passat!

The Undying Passat!

The Volvo was replaced by the crappiest looking car I had ever owned! The interior was a mess, the sunroof was a welded on metal panel… the panels didn’t match up… I bought it cheap from a great guy I was working with. He had used it to tow caravans over Europe. He had blown it up and fixed it in a way it wouldn’t break again! I had it with 186,000 miles on the clock and the engine was still tight as anything  – VW’s are one of the strongest cars I know. So well engineered.

This was the VW Passat Estate from Mad Max! It didn’t have a top speed as it just kept slowly getting faster and faster! It didn’t drink much fuel, it had loads of space, it was comfy… the only thing that killed it was the rear suspension collapsed. The car wasn’t worth repairing, so it was scraped.

Bad, bad car..... Very Bad....

Bad, bad car….. Very Bad….

This great car was replaced by the tidiest looking car I had owned up to that date… and by far the crappiest car I have ever owned – a Renault 5. I bought it as it looked tidy and would probably be a better thing to turn up at a girlfriends parents house in… as it was I lived next door to her and her parents, so they’d seen the Passat anyway (ha ha!). The Renault 5 was the worse handling, poor performing piece of junk ever! It felt unsafe, it just didn’t grow on me. My Brother in law bought it from me at a really low price under the knowledge that

Another great Honda - The XRV750 Africa Twin

Another great Honda – The XRV750 Africa Twin

I hated it and thought it had dire problems (I was very honest and fair). The brother in law didn’t really get a chance to experience these problems as some half wit thief stole it from him.

Somewhere in this mix I bought a Honda Africa Twin. I wanted a bike that would suit me as a 6’4″ male – and the Africa Twin was spot on. It deserves its own blog as I still own it – and I have had some great adventures on it – from deer hunting to drag racing a street racer on a Honda Fireblade at a Hells Angel event…. and winning!

Long and Low... the CB750 hardtail chop

Long and Low… the CB750 hardtail chop

At some point I had several bikes – and in that mix I had a genuine low rider chop based on a Honda CB750. A real bone shaker and tricky to ride. I just wanted to have owned one. It was a bit of fun, but not something I’d want to do a long trip on.

I’m now left with just the Africa Twin when it comes to bikes. I’m getting to the stage where I think the roads are no longer safe enough to go out on a motorbike on.

Range Rover - With Disco TDi lump

Range Rover – With Disco TDi lump

After the rubbish that was the Renault 5 I bought a Range Rover Mk3 with a Discovery Diesel TDi engine in it. What a great car! One of the best I have owned! Comfly, solid and pretty cheap to run actually… back then. I had to do a clutch change on the side of the road outside my house once. A friend helped me…. it was one of those jobs you really don’t want to do, but was a great experience all the same. We didn’t have the correct tools, so it was all done with blood and sweat! Had a scary moment in this car once as a BMW flashed me and pointed at the back wheel…. I had a puncture and didn’t even know!

A great car - Single turbo 3l Supra

A great car – Single turbo 3l Supra

I pulled over to fix it, but I had over sized wheels…. and the jack didn’t go high enough to lift the car! I had to use what ever I could find at the side of the road to build the jack height up! I loved that truck, but really got the hankering for a sports car… I was going to be starting a family, so I figured I wouldn’t get then chance to own a sports car again for a long time…. so along came the wonderful ‘89 Toyota 3l Turbo (single) Supra. A car I genuinely miss…. but a family was starting, so we had to get something else.

The Supra was a real bargain at a shade over £1000. Owned by an elderly lady who thought it looked nice. The whole car was immaculate and went like stink…. On a track it reached over 150mph with more to spare. I have  theory that sports cars are safer for every day use because they have better brakes, better handling and have power to get you out of trouble – I have never felt safer than when I was wrapped in that Supra. The Supra suffered a warped head (a standard problem – and one that had been missed on this one). I was on one final drive before putting it up for sale… I may have put my foot down a little… and I noticed the temperature guage start to

Zzzzzzzzz Toyota Carina zzzzzz

Zzzzzzzzz Toyota Carina zzzzzz

climb quickly. I pulled over immediatly and got dropped home on a breakdown truck. I sold the car as was – and got what I paid when a chap who races them bought it off of me. He was going to pull the head anyway, so wasn’t worried about that. Good news all round.

The Supra went, and in came the Toyota Carina…. It was a car. That is the best that can be said of it…. It was a car. It went… it stopped… Meh! It was so dull that you could park it in an empty car park and STILL forget where you parked it… and…and…. and yet it was still a million times better than the Renault 5. It went in favour of the more practical Bernie…

A Citroen Berlingo yesterday. Maybe.

A Citroen Berlingo yesterday. Maybe.

“Bernie” as Chris calls the Citroen Berlingo is the longest serving of any of my cars. I don’t really like French cars, but Bernie has gone some way to changing my mind. Even Jeremy Clarkson rates it as a great car… and it is on the cool wall on Top Gear! Bernie can handle anything! I’ve moved beds in it! I’ve moved 3m decking planks in it… and unloaded it whilst still sat in the drivers seat! Alex loves it, Chris loves it… I… I think it is a Swiss army knife of a car – very practical and reliable (Oh I’ll regret saying that now….)

Ford Mundane-o...erm... Mondeo

Ford Mundane-o…erm… Mondeo

Finally we move on to a couple of oddities… not really mine, but mine anyway… Company cars. I had a Ford Mondeo estate to start with (which fitted into the same category as the Toyota Carina….).

The Mondeo just wasn’t up to the task I was hired for, so after thorough research the Fiat Multipla Eleganza was purchased.

It was the face life model (thank the Lord!) and it was fantastic! It seated 6 easily and still had a massive boot space, yet was smaller externally than a Ford Galaxy.

Fiat Multipla... Brilliant. Gone.

Fiat Multipla… Brilliant. Gone.

In fact it was a bit like a Vauxhall Zafira on the outside and Mini-bus on the inside… the type of car Doctor Who would drive….. The handling was crisp and car like too – and it had a fair amount of get up and go. I really recommend one if you want an MPV… and once more, it is liked by Clarkson.

We are now left with Bernie, as the company cars went back when I changed jobs… and we need a second car. In a few years I’d like something a bit different – but in the meantime I need frugal and reliable… and that can only mean a VW. I’m thinking an old VW Golf Diesel… good economy and cheap to pick up.

All of these vehicles have lots of tales to tell – and maybe I’ll write them down now that I have opened up my memory by listing them…

More to follow… The 1 week Alhambra, the awesome that still is the Series 3 Land Rover and the…. Citroen Xsara Pigasshole.


Picking up speed

A new way to donate… AND A VIDEO!

Our attempt on The Grim Challenge for CANCER RESEARCH UK using a more extreme variant Nordic Walking is going pretty well. Sure we’d like to see more sponsors and donations, but it’s early days and we’re both training to make sure we don’t let anyone down.

I’ve added a method to make donating really easy now. You just need to use your mobile phone and text STIX99 and a donation amount (£1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10) to 70070.

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Meanwhile, along with cardio and endurance training, I’ve thrown together a little video to promote our challenge. It’s only a first attempt and I plan to make another (more?) as time goes on.

It is for Cancer Research UK, although they support the worldwide fight against cancer and are simply based in the UK, so to everyone out there, where ever you are, please do donate and share this page. It’s for a very good cause after all.

CLICK HERE TO GO TO OUR ‘JUST GIVING’ CHARITY PAGE


A FIRST for team STIX & STONES

It’s official…

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As a challenge to get me fit again after injuries (ankle, back, and recently cellulitis in the elbow – yay me!), me and my physical trainer cousin Wendy are going to be taking part in the Grim Challenge at the very end of November.

woo

The Woo: Tougher than the Grim Challenge itself.

me

The Return of the Black: What doesn’t kill me better be able to outrun me…

Dirt, rocky roads, gravel, mud, man made mounds, obstacles, water holes, more mud, more hills, ditches, more muddy wet holes… 8 miles of tough challenge. She’s not used to the Nordic style which I really enjoy, and I’m not used to straight running… Hopefully we’ll learn the right things from each other…

We’re doing it for Cancer Research UK, and just to make it interesting we thought we’d attempt to do it using Nordic X-country poles.

Like it wasn’t going to be tough enough in the first place…

The thing is, the Grim is technically a run, although some folk do end up walking as it is a very tough course. We didn’t know if actually starting out ‘walking‘ was going to be a problem (albeit Nordic Walking, which is a different ball park to hiking or normal walking – especially how I do it…).

The organiser is not in favour of people who turn up just to walk the route… but in the organiser’s own words when I suggested about us using Nordic X-Country poles: “… I know all about Nordic walking and suspect you guys are not the strolling type!”

Team Stix & Stones

Team Stix & Stones.

Our TEAM PAGE is STIX & STONES – (Stix due to the poles and x-country, and stones, because it’s both off-road, and you need figuratively two of them to do the challenge…). Please visit it to make donations.

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It turns out that we are officially the first people to attempt the Grim Challenge using the Nordic method. I wonder why?

Course (taken from the Grim web page):

This land is used to test Army vehicles so expect it to be interesting!

You will reach a long hill shortly after the start before descending again eventually reaching a water filled ravine.

You will run on over puddle-strewn paths before having to crawl under camouflage netting.

You’ll eventually reach some man-made mounds before arriving at and running through some rather large puddles.

Expect to get very wet!

You’ll run on to the fast vehicle driving circuit where it is rocky underfoot.

This brings you to some more large areas of water and the finish area.

Sounds delightful!


First Aid ~ Everyone should know it.

One of the things that I have found very useful in life is my First Aid training.

Both for helping others & knowing what’s happening to me, it has proved invaluable.

One of the strange ways it helped me was a few years ago when I suffered a traumatic injury. Whilst in hospital I started shaking, convulsing & collapsed. This would’ve scared the crap out of me, but I knew that I was going into shock, and I knew this was my body’s way of shutting down to protect me by concentrating on my vital systems.

It helped me understand what was going on, and why certain things had to be done. I was actually very calm in a situation where I would’ve otherwise panicked & possibly made things worse.

It has also helped when my son has been ill or injured. I’ve either known what to do, or understood why his body was doing what it was doing. Either way it helped me stay calm by giving me an understanding of the situation. It’s not knowing things that scares most people.

I highly recommend going on a course. If you’re lucky you could get your company to send you on one & maybe get a little extra cash for being a work First Aider. It’s win/win.

Courses are supplied by the UK’s leading first aid providers, although other courses are available (I use St John Ambulance). When I had my first course there was a practical exam at the end, but now the trainees are observed during the training course and there’s no pressure of a final exam.

Click the logos below for more information:

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Last Ditch Attempt!

THANK YOU if you’ve already voted!

Sorry to bother you again, but it’s one final push, then it’s over…

Cut off date is the 15th (UK time).

Alex is really excited that Rusty has a chance!

It’s a silly thing, but right now it means a lot to us.

Please click THIS LINK HERE, then just LIKE the photo then SHARE this on your timelines, ask your friends & family too!

Help spread the word, vote & share with anyone you can please!

She’s in a safe 2nd, but needs lots of votes to catch up & win.

Every single like/vote counts.

I can’t thank you all enough!

ttps://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=408211295953758&set=a.408211282620426.1073741842.302649179843304&type=1&ref=nf

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Rusty Blue Steel

I don’t ask for much, because I know you’ll share my blog updates if you think they are worth it…

BUT… I would appreciate if you could click on this link & ‘like’ the photo of Rusty pup, the love of my 7 year old son.

It’d be wonderful to see his face if Rusty Pup succeeded in this!

She’s a lovely family pet, not bred for shows. She plays with Alex & loves people and children. German Shepherds have a bad name due to history and association with security services, but they are bright, friendly idiots who love a tummy rub & attention (who doesn’t?).

She’s not a precious pampered handbag pup, she’s a real world lady and I for one would love to see Alex’s face if she wins.

A vote for Rusty is a vote for real dogs!!!

Thank you all!

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Geriatric old fool…?

My dad was 75 when he was called in on this. It caused one hell of a shake up.

Hugh was in the same mould as my dad. Boffins… Both contributory scientists that weren’t just text book perfect in their roles, they wrote the books… (Not just a play on words, they did write them…).

He was accused by one of the investigators of being too old and they inferred he was past it…. and then dad dropped some undeniable evidence in the case. Next thing he knew they had asked him to fly overseas to help & discuss his findings… He said ‘I don’t think I could possibly do that journey… I’m far too old, apparently…

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Valiant Disaster

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A short section from my dads book about his air accident investigation work at Farnborough, Hampshire, England.

This is regarding the Vickers Valiant disaster.

In 1956, one of the V-Bombers was being used at Farnborough in a variety of roles. It was instrumented and equipped for measuring such things as structural vibrations and deflections and other parameters of interest to aerodynamicists and structural engineers. One such experiment required the use of electrical energy, and conveniently this was drawn from one of the bomber’s domestic services at the navigator’s station.

It must be pointed out that this particular type of aeroplane was rather unique; its controls were fully electrically operated and not by some form of hydraulic power assistance as with other contemporary aeroplanes of such a large size.

As a type, this bomber has been flying quite successfully and had never experienced loss of control due to major electrical failure. As far as possible, the designer incorporated safeguards against all possible eventualities. The safeguards included not only the usual fuses – much like those used domestically in the home, only larger – but also circuit breakers. These are spring loaded switches which ‘pop out’ under excessive electrical loading, thereby protecting the associated circuit and equipment.

On Friday 11 May 1956, just after lunch, the bomber left Farnborough to carry out a flight, primarily for a scientist to conduct the experiment connected to the electrical outlet at the navigator’s station. The aeroplane had full fuel tanks and was likely to be airborne for several hours. On the way to the south coast, the scientist switched on the experiment. Almost immediately the appropriate circuit breaker ‘popped out’. Imprudently, the scientist reset it, and it again ‘popped out’. The scientist reported the situation to the pilot that his experiment could not be carried out, and because this was the main purpose of the flight, the pilot decided to abort the flight. However, before returning to Farnborough he had to use up a large quantity of fuel to bring the landing weight to an acceptable figure. He had taken off fully laden and was now returning very much earlier than originally intended.

The pilot set up a low level flight pattern over the sea off the south coast with conditions set for maximum fuel consumption. The flight continued quite satisfactorily for some considerable time. During this, the bomber was flying in and out of low cloud near to Shoreham and Brighton.
Now it seems that while this was being done, the scientist could not leave well alone, and in went the circuit breaker, not once by several times. Suddenly the pilot felt a stiffening of the controls and saw indications on the instrument panel of an electrical failure of major proportions. He immediately eased the bomber into a climb to make height for he now had a major emergency on his hands.

The bomber emerged from cloud at about 1,000 feet over Shoreham. Due to the electrical failure the flying controls were completely unresponsive. The pilot ordered everybody to eject.

They were now descending fast towards Shoreham railway station. At almost the last second, one ejector seat was seen to leave and its occupant made a short but safe descent, landing not more than fifty yards from where the bomber struck the railway embankment, near the station. All other crew members perished in the crash although the escape hatch was found away from the bomber. The aircraft disintegrated upon impact and debris was strewn for hundreds of yards across the playing fields of a nearby school. Mercifully, the fields were clear of pupils at the time.

Within an hour I was being flow down to Shoreham from Farnborough, and as it was only twenty minutes flying time, I was to make this trip several times in the next few days. Discussing the accident with the manufacturer’s design staff as we walked around the wreckage, some of the story of the flight began to emerge. A certain amount of information had already filtered through from Farnborough Control Tower and of course there was the surviving co-pilot. It was clear that there had been a major electrical failure and in company with the manufacturer’s chief electrical engineer, we paid special attention to the state of any electrical components that we could see.

The engineer appeared next morning having spent much of the night working on a hypothesis to account for much of what we knew. Could the wreckage evidence support his theory, or would it produce some other explanation?

We isolated as much of the electrical material as possible from the wreckage and this was sent to Farnborough. The remainder of the wreckage was to follow. There was an air of supreme urgency as other aeroplanes of the type could have been at risk. Our searching and examinations, along with the work of the electrical design staff at the manufacturer’s works, had shortened the list dramatically. It now transpired that if, as we suspected, the circuit breaker had been repeatedly reset, then the consequences must have included the ‘blowing’ of many fuses, but one in particular – the navigator’s station equipment circuit – would really prove the theory.

My priority task became the search for that one fuse to determine if it had ‘blown’ electrically. The fuse in question was about three quarters of an inch in diameter, and about one and a quarter inches long. It consisted of a heavy ceramic body, with metal end caps, attached by bolts to heavier items known as bus bars. There were many such fuses fitted in banks or rows in the bomber and although originally marked with paint for identification purposes they were broken and now devoid of such identify. They were also mixed with tons of twisted and burnt looms of wire and metal.

My fuse, either intact or in pieces was in the large mound of wreckage now at Farnborough. It was the Whit Monday holiday and I planned an assault on that mound. I had the help of skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled people. The approach was simple. I formed a pyramid of searchers with the unskilled at the mound. They were briefed to sort out all wreckage of a certain character. I made sure they would include more material than I wanted to ensure that the right stuff would come through for searching. Unwanted wreckage was discarded and required material passed back to a second row of helpers who had been briefed in more detail. They in turn passed back this selected material, and so the search continued. Each row of searchers was more qualified to select than the one before, and I was at the apex of the pyramid to make the final decision.

By patience, persistence and careful search and study, we discovered the first of the end caps after only two hours. It was still bolted to a piece of identifiable bus bar, although this itself had been badly damaged. An hour later the other end cap was found. Both caps contained pieces of ceramic body protruding but not mating to make up the body. We found other odd pieces of ceramic and one of these made the link between the end caps: I had my fuse.

I took the end caps to my microscope and there was the evidence that I sought. Traces of fuse wire had been electrically overloaded. The wire ends had formed into globules – a tell-tale sign of a fuse melted by electrical overheating and not by crash fire burning.

We now knew that the electrical supplies in the bomber had been disrupted by the repeated resetting of the circuit breaker – a senseless, illogical action which had led to tragedy and loss of life, including the life of the instigator of the situation. The repeated resetting of the circuit breaker was akin to tackling the symptom and not the cause of the experiment failure.

However, the accident prompted a long hard look at the electrical circuitry of all the large bombers and some shortcomings were brought to light. As I have said on other occasions, regretfully, in aviation someone must suffer, it seems, if aeroplanes are to be made safer.

This passage was extracted from the book “Air Crash” The Clues in the Wreckage.
ISBN 0-86379-094-1. Published in 1986. This book was written by Mr. Fred Jones ©.


Usable Snow!

Finally some snow that is useable/usable (depending which way you face the Atlantic) … Thick enough & icy enough for a sled, and at a weekend so that I can go out with the family & enjoy said snow!

A cracking time was had – and don’t be fooled by the movie… That hill was way faster than it looks…


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