Have you ever been to the Southampton boat show? This was our first boat show and we picked the biggy. We hit the queue of cars at 1pm and crawled our way to a car park by 1415. We were given a choice of car parks on illuminated road signs and eventually chose one, only to find that it was a multi storey with a height restriction that was too restricted for our van. Then we got lost in a shopping experience. Welcome to Southampton retail park, the sign read, parking for customers only. We retrace our tracks to the main road and head back to the Leisure complex, which we almost chose half an hour earlier, about half a mile back down the road. It's eight quid for all day, even though its now 2pm, but at least we've got a berth. Then the heavens open just as we're about to head for the show.
By now it was 2.30 and we wondered whether it was even worth going in at such a late hour but as it didn't close till 6.30 we decided that four hours would be enough time. It was and it wasn't, but we paid the girl and entered the site. By this time we were starving and in need of sustenance, bugger the boats I needed a burger.
We weaved our way between hundreds of nautical paraphernalia stalls, over bridges and eventually found what we were looking for, food. The gourmet burger stall had tables and chairs so we sat down to eat, but within seconds of our arrival the heavens opened again and we sat under the brolly munching our food as the downpour rained down harder and harder until we eventually had to admit defeat and took shelter under the awning.
The shower passed and we headed off for the pontoons to take in the cornucopia of exhibits. We stepped aboard a number of boats that were well beyond our price range, pretending to be millionaires who just might buy this boat or that, and dodged the torrential showers that marched on through the afternoon.
In the end we bought a couple of life jackets and at 6.30pm headed for a town nearby called Hamble to find a B+B for the night. Unfortunately there were no B+Bs in Hamble but we did find a camp site. Hamble sounded like a good idea as Jackie reckoned she had seen boats for sale in a place called Hamble, and how right she was, as the next day we discovered this creek was filled with wall to wall boats.
We pitched our minuscule tent in the dark, drank wine, played back gammon and went to sleep. It was cold and miserable, the tent was inadequate, wet with condensation, and we spent a fitfull night being uncomfortable.
The next day, tired and unrested we found Hamble marina and an expensive waterfront cafe for breakfast. After breakfast we checked out some of the brokerages windows and picked a couple of boats to go and have a look at. We chose a couple of the cheapest we could find, a Contessa 32 and an Island Packet 350. The Contessa was a nice boat but too small and at 45,000 out of our price range but we're only looking and every look brings you closer to knowing what you want.
And then we ran into our dream boat. She is an Island Packet 350 and we want this boat. It took about ten seconds aboard to know it. She's way beyond our budget, at £80,000 but she hit all our buttons. Maybe in America, where they are built we could find one in our price range, but if we had anywhere close to this money we would have sailed her away there and then.
So even though we didn't find it at the boat show the trip has been very fruitful, and although by the time we get back to Ulverston were knackered to say the least, we have perhaps homed in on our perfect boat. A quick surf of the net produces at least one that's the same price in dollars, and the same year, but in the USA.
We'll keep looking of course, but our search is narrowing down, and by the time we come to buy, and have the money, in 2012 the Island Packet just may still be top of our list.
Tomorrow at 0800 hours we set off the Canterbury to deliver one daughter to Uni. On the way we plan to visit my son, his wife and the new three week old grandson. They live in Portsmouth, and next door is Southamton and the annual boat show. How could we resist that combination.
I had written a load of stuff here but it got timed out and I didnt copy it so this is much shorter than the original.
The prime reason for the trip though is to deliver said daughter and stuff to her new life as a university student. This is a small, no a big miracle. She is twenty five and for the last ten years has been lost to the world of eating disorders and low self esteem. Clawing her way back to this moment has been a monumental journey for us all and at long last this very bright girl has finally found a way forward, although for a long time we thought she was a lost cause. She has hardly done a days work in all that time and seemed destined for the scrap heap. Then a couple of years ago we took her out to our hideaway in the Dominican republic for two weeks and some veil fell from her eyes. She seemed to suddenly wake up seeing the poverty ,deprivation and a wholly new culture.
So Tomorrow she begins her own journey, she is going to study social anthropology. We could end up here with a daughter with an ology. So that is what this journey is all about.. She's finally broke the bonds and tomorrow, hopefully is the start of her metamorphosis, from caterpillar to butterfly
You get to do quite exciting things when you've been diagnosed with signs of prostate cancer. Late August I had an MRI scan of my pelvic region with a friendly chap at furness general hospital. I changed into my Wee Willie Winkie nightshirt, although I was allowed to keep my underpants and my shoes and socks on, which at first seemed curious, although, once I entered the scanner room I had to take off my shoes, but at least letting me keep my undies and socks on maintained a modicum of dignity.
There's this giant polo mint contraption in the room and very little else, which is a nice shade of magnolia as opposed to the bright white of a polo. I lie down on this platform in front of the polo and the nice man explains that because of the noise that the machine makes I will be wearing headphones. Into these cans, as we call them in recording land, they will play me music. I ask what kind of music will they play and he says that I have a choice between radio 2 and the bay. This is not exactly a choice but more of a less of two evils, and so i plump for radio 2. Mr friendly leaves and I am transported forward into the bowls of the giant polo.
Radio 2 is now playing in my ears some insipid soul hit from the early eighties which I vaguely remember not likeing at the time and dont want to hear it now.
The machine suddenley begins to emit the most hidious noise like a very bad loop of an ultravox intro that just loops and at an excruciating volume. Radio 2 disappears beyond this onslaught and I am immersed in a cocophony of bad synth stuff. then after an age it stops and radio 2 once again excerts itself with another bad tune, I wish I had gone for the bay at this point. The timbre of the machine changes again and we're in a dr who/star treck bunch of noise. On and on this goes as I try to enter into some zen kinda state to prevent my body from moving so as not to blur the image. The origonal theme of the machine returns to ulravox on a loop before the vocals kick in. The whole experience is somewhat industrial, a bit like working in the bowels of a submarine on the slipways back in the 60s.
It's very loud but radio two is still getting through and so I push the headsphone back trying to relieve myself of this torture. The scan stuff is fine but the radio is the real torture here.The machine goes through more synth stuff until eventually I hear the friendly man ask me to breath in and hold my breath, which I do and after a few more minutes it's all over. Very enjoyable except for radio 2 I tell the operative, plain ear defenders would have been less painful. I am transported on the flatbed beyond the polo and its all over, not painfull at all and beyond the scope of mr friendly to explain to my satisfaction. Something about huge magnets and radio frequencies, which explained very little except that I felt I had been in an episode of Startrek.
Only two weeks to go until we jet off to Greece for a weeks sailing around Kefelonia. However that's not been the main thing to occupy my mind this week.
Monday 5th, I had an appointment with my Urologist to get the results of some scans that I had recently. The results showed that I had prostate cancer. It had been picked up from my biopsy and although only one in twelve samples they took showed cancer I had to have it confirmed as to how wide spread it was. That was why on Monday I was to hear the results of my scans. This would enable my consultant to tell me what options would be available to me. Obviously it's a shock to find out you've got cancer, where ever it is, but it turns out that mine hasn't spread beyond my prostate and that it looks like it's in the very early stages.
So I get three options, A. Do nothing and wait and see if it progresses. B. Have radio therapy, and C. Have the prostate whipped out.
So it's down to me to choose, but as I only had about half an hour with the consultant going through these I need to go away and have a big think. Jackie has been with me to each of the meetings so she knows as much as I do about the implications. We come away from Mondays meeting with not a clue as to which option is for me. Like the consultant says, it is up to me, and so the week has been one of gathering whatever info I can find. I have also been in touch with a local group of fellow sufferers, who exchange stories and experiences.
Deciding which option to choose can change from day to day, this is not an easy choice. There are all sorts of implications that impact on our plan to go sailing in the Caribbean next year. That plan meant we would be leaving England to live in the Dominican republic.
Plan A. which is called active surveillance means having regular blood tests and probably an annual biopsy. The cost implications of having this done in the DR are an unknown factor, although from our experience their hospitals are very good, but costly.
Plan B. Radio therapy looks good as it could eradicate the cancer although I would still have to have regular tests to monitor my condition, just in case they miss a bit and it returns at a later date.
Plan C. This one uses the word radical, which sort of scares me. Radical prostectomy is where they remove the prostate, which is quite a major bit of surgery. It also seems to have aftermath stuff as well, like having to have a catheter inserted into my willie for a couple of weeks afterwards; yikes!!! As well as this there could be incontinence issues for weeks or moths afterwards. So none of this is easy.
I started the week thinking Plan A. as It isn't bothering me, it might not progress and didn't involve any side effects, but then I moved on to Plan B. This seemed to get rid of it with no discomfort, just a lot of hospital visits over six weeks. Then regular monitoring, but this would have to be done in DR, or wherever we might end up on our voyaging.
Plan C. started to surface towards the end of the week when I'ld read some literature given to me by the guy that runs this local group. This was the last option I wanted to contemplate but the pros for it seem to now outweigh the cons. It would eradicate the cancer, and I would know within a few months whether I was clear. This would allow us to continue with our planned adventure without the cloud of cancer hanging over us, and there would be no cost implications in the DR.
So that's where I'm at with the little bugger this weekend, short term discomfort for a cancer free adventure next year.
I meet with my consultant at the start of October, and I'll no doubt flip flop between A,B,C, until then. In the meantime I'm really looking forward to slipping those lines in Kefelonia and having ourselves a well earned holiday before I have to make that big decision.
My campaign song Keep Ulverston special,
Had an email on Friday, from Kay whose part of the group "Keep Ulverston Special" set up to oppose the plans for a supermarket on the Old brewery site. It said, we can use Colins song to go with the video she was planning, a sort of flash mob type of thing. I'm not too sure what that means, but I had to reply to say, excuse me but which song is this. You see although at the meeting last week I had suggested we could write a song for the campaign I had forgotten I had piped up with that suggestion.
So now I had set a challenge for myself, too late to back out. Late Friday afternoon I sat down at the keyboard in the studio at Ford Park and messed about for a couple of hours, with little success. I sort of had a germ of an idea, sort of reggae style thing, and about four lines but I was stuck at that. I took it home and fiddled around some more that evening and managed a couple more lines and the semblance of a middle eight.
Saturday morning and I combed through various leaflets we had, checked stuff on the Robinsons site, the evening mail and the wezzy gezzy looking for inspiration.
By about eleven o'clock I'ld almost got it nailed, just needed that last couple of lines for the last verse. When I borrowed the line from big yellow taxi, "You don't know what you've got till it's gone" that wrapped it up.
I fired up the ipod, plugged in the mic and googled the chords to Mrs Robinson, by Simon and Garfunkal, and dashed off a quick demo with the de de de deh bit from that tune on the intro and outro. Bingo the campaign song was born.
Next up, download to my pc. Then how to get it onto facebook? I've seen people using soundcloud but hadn't tried it myself, so googled soundcloud, joined up, confirmed my email address and easy as pie uploaded the song to their site. Clicked a button that said share with facebook and at 12.05 there it was posted on my profile. About five minutes later a notification on facebook from Kay saying Great song and the word, STAR. By the afternoon it had been posted out to radio cumbria and hospital radio and Ceri, who was collecting signitures for a petition in Market street had it playing on a continuous loop at her stall.
Now that is the truly amazing thing about the net and how we use it nowadays. I remember way back when in the good old days when we used to make records this instant response of the artist was impossible. If you wanted to write a song in response to a news event it could take weeks, maybe months before you could get it on the streets, even if you were Dylan,or The Beatles. I think Bruce did it with Philidelphia, was that about AIDS, not sure. Anyway isn't it amazing that we artists, songwriters can now contribute to the news as fast as the newspapers and TV. We should use it more, maybe we already do, maybe I'm not as switched on as the kids, perhaps it's already happening, I'm sure it is. A song can grab people just as much as any headline, sometimes maybe more, so here's to the power on the songwriter to get in there, and today we can make a big contribution to the debate, whatever it is.
Listen to Keep Ulverston Special here
Well its been a long time since we were on the water, and it's almost half way through summer. We still make excursions onto the boat pages of the internet to dream, and to find our perfect yacht. We still are waiting for a buyer for the house we have to sell before we can even think about a purchase, but that doesn't stop the search. Just recently we have started to become keen on Island Traders, 38-40 ft jobs. They're another boat out of the Taiwan stable, but we seem to like these far eastern boats, and the prices seem much more in our league, that is under $50'000.
Today, when we got back from work we had an envelope, a big one through the door that was our manual and harbour guide for our sailing holiday that we have booked for September around the Greek island of Kefelonia. We have booked ourselves a Beneteau 32, which we will sail all by ourselves. It's another step up for us, in size, and has roller furling mainsail which we are keen to try out. All the old sea dogs seem to poo poo this kind of new innovation but it sounds like a lot less work to me and it's progress. At 63 I don't have the strength I used to have and anything that makes life easier sounds fine to me. Just getting the brochure through the door has put a smile on our faces, September isn't that far away. Mind you it's been a while since we did any sailing, or chart work, bouy recognition or the rules of avoiding collisions at sea, but hey, surely it's just like riding a bike.......................maybe.
Where we work, which is a developing public park has been very busy this year. We're spending oodles of funding on a new office building, and on a massive natural play area. This work has consumed our time and focus and led us away from our passion and our dream, but we always knew that this last year would be this way. It's exciting seeing 10 years of process finally coming to fruition and it's going to be strange to walk away from all this just as it begins to enter that self sufficient stage that we always wanted it too achieve. However our minds are made up and we know we will leave the place in good shape to face the future. Our future is sailing into the sunset.
Come next Spring we will leave our jobs here and head for the Dominican Republic to start a new phase in our lives. Now the closer that gets the more scary it becomes. Do we sell the house? Well we've looked at the figures and see no alternative, we have too big a mortgage to keep it. But we could try renting it, just in case it doesn't work out. We have to contemplate getting rid of our possessions, although we don't have much we would want to keep, in fact nothing really. But we look at downsizing, just to keep a bridge open, then dismiss it, then come back to it. What about our old age when we need the services of the free NHS in the UK. All these things weigh heavily on our ultimate plans, and we get cold feet, but not for long. What we want to do is to adventure and damn the consequences and just to hope that all will go well and something will turn up to see us through. Blind faith and optimism is all we have, but perhaps thats all we need. For now though we're just scanning the Sailing holidays manual and harbour guide and looking forward to that next step in our adventure that continues in September.