Saturday, March 31, 2012

Cheat Day is here

After protein rich breakfast I've tucked into a cup cake that A made for me - I could feel the hit of the sugar immediately, now having a coffee with a sweetener and milk.  I normally only have black unsweetened these days.  I'm ready to commence eating forbidden stuff so here I go.....

Friday, March 30, 2012

CT Scan - That went OK

30 minutes wait - then they hadn't gotten me to have a pint of water - which I then had.  Get changed into a gown and insert cannula into my arm - not my favourite thing of course.  Into the scanner - easy as you like - hold your arms above your head through the scanner, connect you to the dye that they use to "light you up like a Christmas Tree!"  apparently but then there was a slight problem.  

Did the first set of scans which show up things like Kidney Stones and stuff but they had to give me ml of contrast first and make me wait 10 minutes for it to get through kidneys and into bladder.  Having done that I had to roll about 3 or 4 times - yes full 360 degrees whilst on the flat bed!  This is to coat the bladder.  Then another set of scans.  Then there was another set of scans after they'd put some more contrast in.  On this occasion  I got the side effects - hot flush around the body, metallic taste in mouth and the uncanny feeling that you'd wet yourself.   I have a feeling that this lot of contrast dye was no where near what I had before for the Pyleogram which I was x-rayed for about 20 or 30 minutes overall to show the progress of the dye through my Kidneys and tubes etc.

Anyway - all was over and done with quite quickly - I felt fine so walked to the Cafe and had 2 bacon, 2 sausage, 2 eggs, Mushrooms and Tomatoes washed down with a large black coffee.  Went via the sweet shop and got myself a 100g bag of Wine Gums for cheat day tomorrow.  I see I have cakes and things lined up in the fridge (Yay!)

I needn't have been that worried about it I suppose.  It wasn't that bad but I think the experiences I had with the contrast before were when I was quite ill and so made all the worse.  I suppose at that time I wasn't even sure if they'd caught the cancer early enough and whether I was going to live or die so I doubt I was in  a very good place in my head.

Well here goes nothing

Listening to one of my favourite bands from YEARS back.  Boston - the sound track to a couple of those great summers you look back on when everything was great, had the car, the girlfriend (whoops not current Mrs. F.) and just were young and crazy.  My car was a great, a few years old, automatic and went like something thrown off a stick.  We went all over the place, we were always out, the sun always shined (well I think it did!).  Great memories taking my mind off the scan.....

The sun is shining out here and I'm pretty much OK with things.  A little nervous, not quite as bad as going for an operation but just a little - of course, not having eaten for 4 hours can make your stomach feel like that anyway :-)  So - let's go off into the void and see what this experience is like.   I've just got to get there and do what they tell me and (of course) it will be what it will be and will take the time it takes.  I'm hoping to be able to get to my cafe on the way back and have some  good protein but doubt that I'll get the legumes - will have to fill up on those back here.


4 Hours to appointment

No more eating from now on but can drink normally.   Will head off for a shower and leave the house at 12, I can easily get there by 12:30 when the appointment is.  I have my music with me and my Kindle reader so if I get bored I can read at least.  It is a lovely day, nice and sunny so I hope to just have a pleasant stroll there.

I dislike Hospitals at the best of times but I'll get along and go for this - it is going to be a check up mainly and so as long as they don't find anything then I probably wont need another one.  I've given myself a reward and that is to come home via the cafe and have a meal on the way home - I will be pretty hungry by then.  If I don't feel like that then A can come and pick me up and drive me home.  We will see. 

Well here we go

CT Scan a little later today so getting ready for that.  A had her interview - I do hope that she did OK and of course getting the interview means that you are half way there.  I've arranged for the Piano to be delivered and my old piano will now go to a new home too.  I hope that they will be able to spend a bit more time on it and bring it up to speed.

I'm in a neutral place at the moment with the scan - it will be what it will be and hopefully I can get that over and done with and then get home and get some food as I'll be starving by then!  I need to spend the weekend catching up on accounts as they must be done soon.  I suddenly realised that I had started but not completed them.

More in the morning no doubt as I prepare to go off to Hospital.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Well A is of up to London for her interview and good luck to her.  Me I'm checking out my MP3 player for tomorrow.  I need to look up the details for the CT Scan and I would have thought by this time tomorrow things will be almost complete.  I certainly hope so.

I've chatted to my business partner today and we will be discussing where we are going with the business next week.  That will be good as I can have the Easter break to sort things out and chat through the options.

A bit happier this morning

I think I managed to get stuff off my chest last night and published two blog posts which were a little too honest and a little too intimate and so I pulled those this morning.  What it did was it freed up what was on my mind and that certainly seems to have emptied my head of the rubbish that was there.  

I am impressed with this diet.  I was worried that things were slowing a bit but today pulling on my trousers and putting my shirt on was encouraging as my trousers are very loose and my shirt just hangs on me (and not my stomach which is no longer protruding out).  That's a big improvement but I still need to loose some more.  I did a Blood Pressure check and I'm back down to normal as well so that too is encouraging.

Not much is happening but I am dropping A off to the station later as she goes for her interview up in London.  I'm probably more on edge than she is.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The "D" Word

I don't suppose that anything could have been like it was those almost 6 years ago when I learnt I had cancer and just had no idea what to expect.  The ups and downs of that time were pretty horrible and black and terrifying and so what I'm going through today ought to be small beer to that.  I've had one of my "emotional" days today.  It sounds pretty silly and in a way it is but in other ways you have to understand that this is where a lot of people start off from, something silly, something small, something that to you or I may be inconsequential and yet in so many ways it isn't minor at all.

Today is a series of things really.  My dad isn't getting any better - well you wouldn't expect him to but he's getting weaker and frailer by the day and we all know where it is heading and perhaps it is finally sinking in for me?  Then there's the work situation which is depressing of course as it appears no one these days has any vision and no one wants to invest and yet they are all "mouthing off" about innovation, next thing, multi million pound businesses etc and yet they don't really mean it.  Then there's the "what am I going to do next" scenarios and then it begins to start gnawing away at me.  "What if!"  0 that should be banned from the language :-)  You can't do anything about history - it's in the past and I know that there is nothing I can do to change that and yet I beat myself up over my past but that's happened - logically I know this, it isn't important and yet there it goes and it is upsetting.  Then there's the bit about what do I want to do and once again that's in the future and hasn't happened yet and I know that too.  Sure I can make plans and think about it but to what effect.

So I find myself in this sort of trough of depression and yet I know that I shouldn't even be there.  It's lovely here, the sun is out, it is beautifully warm, I'm going off to meet lots of friends and have a good evening and yet somehow my brain won't let me enjoy it.  It will be forgotten tonight but I think I might need to tip Mrs. F. off that I'm not in a good place at the moment just in case she hasn't worked that out for herself.  It could of course all be down to Friday's CT Scan but I doubt it.

Anyway - I recognise these things and just work on a way to get through them and that tends to work itself out in the end.

It can't be that difficult

I'm sure that I'll be quite upbeat about this after Friday and say how easy it all was and how I worried about nothing :-)  And that's the thing really, I mean how bad can this be for someone who's had a catheter shoved up you know where without anaesthetic :-)  That's the thing, I've had far worse things than lying in a big moving X-Ray machine.  I'm probably more worried about the dye than anything as I didn't particularly react well to that last time but as I keep reminding myself I'd just had major surgery no more than a week or two before and I was still very weak and although I hate to admit it, I was pretty poorly too.  

So I am not so anxious today - I have no idea if it was this or speaking to my mum - as dad's not particularly great at the moment.  He's still doing well but getting weaker and it is all just hard work for him to get up and around.  His mind of course is as sharp as ever and so he knows what is going on.  Perhaps it was that?  I'm going up to see him in a couple of weeks.

Added to that is the knowledge that we are also getting towards the end game for the business too.  No matter how good an idea it is, how well thought through and documented, if no one will invest then it will be consigned to the pile like many others before and no doubt afterwards.  It was always an option and we have planned for it but the disappointment and inability for people to get away from traditional ideas is frightening.  People are also not great listeners or readers which is shocking considering that their job is to think laterally, think differently, read and absorb information quickly etc.  In fact, it shows how conditioned people must become if they can't grasp some simple truths and realise there is another way to tackle these.  Ho hum...

So whilst that looks to be coming up on the horizon, we have been seeking funding for 6 months and our cut-off is at the end of April.  We initially envisaged a one year time frame but that was before just the two of us were left as half the team bailed out.  So two years effort, a significant investment of our time and perhaps little to show for it, other than the idea and the name :-)  Oh well, it had to be done to confirm the idea and to see if it would see the light of day.  Without doubt that is playing away at the back of my mind a bit.  Anyway - let's see what the latest contacts will be able to do for us. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


I was going to say it was unlike me but in fact it is exactly like me to be a little concerned over Friday's CT Scan.  I suppose I'm only a little concerned because of the previous experience.  I've decided that I'll sort myself out on Thursday with some music and bits so that I can chill on the way there and I'll take my Kindle to read too.

I'm somewhat surprised about the costs I'm receiving to move the Piano but then again, things have gone up a bit since the last time I did it.  Indeed it looks to be about double but then I think I've had this Piano for about 10 years now so that could be about right :-)  It is a fair distance to move it.

I'm going to turn in to bed early again tonight as I really need some sleep and to just chill out.  For some reason I'm a little on edge tonight and I can't for the life of me work out why that should be.

Butter Beans and Exciting News

I soaked the Butter Beans overnight and cooked those up this morning - all now put away in the Freezer ready for my meals.  Not sure if I'll do the Haricots tomorrow or later on in the week.  Have been having some twitchy moments about having the scan on Friday but not enough to get too worried about it.  It can't be anywhere near as bad as the IVU thing I had which truly was the lowest moment of my diagnosis but, to be fair, I wasn't very well when I had it done and so that had a lot to do with it.

So exciting news.  What could be so exciting?  Well, you may recall I used to have two pianos but had to give one up as Mrs. F. didn't want two in the house - I can't blame her really.  I kept the family heirloom, a piano Made by my Great Great Uncle's company it therefore has A Ferdinando on the key board cover and inside on the frame.  However, this is no musical instrument and was in a bad state when I got it.  We have done our best but it will never truly function as a musical instrument and would never have made concert pitch ever.  

This next bit is sad and exciting.  My 2nd cousins who are descended from Great Great Uncle Arthur were the first to show me a Ferdinando piano, one passed down through the family and it is in great condition and still playable.  The sad news is that their mother recently died and the house has to be cleared and none of the boys has room for it.  I've spoken to Mrs. F. and as long as I swap it for the piano I have now, we can bring it here and continue to look after it as a lasting heirloom of the family.  So it is sad that it is no longer going to stay in their family but I'm excited to be the custodian of it for a little while.  I can write up that Piano's history and ensure that its providence is documented and it can hopefully continue on as a piece of history, a nice piece of furniture and as an instrument as this one actually plays.....

So, I am excited about this as it allows me to have a fully functioning Ferdinando piano in the house and use the other one as spares or to pass on to someone else in the family.  I will be able to look after this one on behalf of the family and for future generations.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Overdone food

Oh dear - I completely over cooked the Turkey and A's was like crispy bacon :-(  Ooopsss.  Oh well, there you go - I've been told NOT to grill it next time.  I should have done it in the oven in some foil....

That's the trouble.  I'm cooking for 3 of us and I'm having something different to them - doing it myself I'm fine but having to cook other stuff at the same time is a nightmare.  Normally I'm OK doing this but I wasn't prepared and my mate was delayed getting here.

I managed to stuff down plenty of beans with my meal so am back on the straight and narrow now.  Have put some butter beans in soak for tomorrow so I'll prepare those and freeze them.  

And Another Thing

Which I just realised was that I forgot to add some legumes to my lunch which is a minor disaster now - half way through the afternoon... I feel slightly hungry now and I don't normally and it was one of those "moment" that you get when you try and work out quite what you've done wrong and then I saw the container with the black eye beans and realised!  Doh...   Oh well I will have to have them all at tea time.  I am cooking a rather nice looking bit of Turkey which will go down well and just need to make sure I get that all prepared as I'm cooking for three tonight and of course, my meal is subtly different to theirs.

I'm sitting here reviewing what I want to do should we be unable to raise funds for our venture.  It's looking more and more likely that that will happen and so I'm working on a mind map of my options, my dreams, my needs and so on.  It has been interesting so far because there are some interesting things coming out of it including the wish not to want to commute - believe me commuting in and out of London each day really is the pits and I'm blowed if I'm going to do that without a significantly good excuse.    Also interesting that I'm not particularly bothered about going back into any of the high powered jobs I used to hold.  There's a reluctance to get back into the high stress lifestyle I used to have.  Interesting exercise developing the ideas, reviewing the dream things (or are they) and reviewing the options.  It is nice to look at living and working on a Canal Boat or things that I could do associated with that - except that the nearest canals are the other side of London to here or indeed further afield.  Interesting life but not certain that it will be as idyllic as it looks or is made out to be.

Like many things in life, the stuff that looks to be fun and rewarding probably aren't :-)  It is good though to go through this process and list all these things out and start to get some ideas formulated I find. 

Notes to Self

Do not weigh yourself for a few days after a cheat day!  It only depresses you.  It shows a gain of around 3 pounds (give or take) and that was a shock but I did hit those carbs.  SO this week, back on plan as far as I can possibly go.  I have a meal out on Wednesday, I will just have to take it easy - not have the bread roll and just pick at what I can have.  I think that I'll make sure I've filled up as much as I can during the day as there probably wont be any carbs I can have.  I can always have some when I get home if I find myself in trouble.  I can substitute water for beer and can have some red wine.

I managed to tweak my back once again over the weekend (probably Friday night when doing my exercises).   I have to learn not to get carried away and over do the exercises.  I feel good and go for an extra 5 minute burn workout and I'm sure that is when I managed to do this.

So a few notes to self are needed on the exercise, measurements and just to be patient and to moderate things.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Well that was strange

A day of eating things that I wouldn't normally eat anyway.  I really filled up with sugary and carb filled things yesterday and butter and chips and a doughnut, chocolate mousse, a pack of Wine Gums and lots of things that didn't actually make me feel that great in all honesty.   I did enjoy some beers though and that was a pleasant diversion.  At one time, after having toasted sandwiches with Cheese and Tuna and then grabbing the Doughnut afterwards I did feel a little sick :-)

Things are back to normal at the moment this morning and I'm feeling glad to be back on familiar territory and whilst this diet is a little bland it does at least show some great results already and for that reason alone I'm sticking with it and I just hope that over the fullness of time it gets me back to a good weight.  It would be nice to be a stone or more lighter than I am now - 2 stone lighter would be good too.  However, that's speculation at the moment.  Continued dieting and taking the cheat day once a week will show results in the tape and scales.

I'm around about 16 1/2 stone and perhaps a little lower than that but these things aren't (and don't need to be) pin point accurate.  If it is a pound either way I'm sure it doesn't matter it is the overall effect I'm after.  I'm not going to worry about the odd pound but the odd stone - now there's a different thing.  

This week ahead is interesting, my business partner is off until Wednesday evening so I am also off in reality.  We are just waiting for either an email or a phone call and so I'm trying to consider what is my best use of this time.  I have accounts that I can do, I have some chores that I can attend to and I suppose I need to consider what I should do if we don't get funding, which is, I am afraid looking more likely.  Of course we wont give up entirely but neither will we chase things that may not realistically be likely to happen either - no matter how good an idea it is.  I just need to think things through and to set out what I actually want and what I actually need for my future.  Maybe some more thoughts on that as I think them through.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Don't Cheat on Cheat Day

So I'm not - have already had sugary and sweet things, have bought a bag of Liquorice and a bag of Wine Gums and I am busily devouring them after having had a high protein breakfast.   I feel like I'm force feeding myself and the sugar rush is pretty strange.  I decided I'd get right into it with coffee and sweetener and milk, toast, butter and marmalade and now some sweets.  Mrs. F. is going out later and so doughnuts and pastries are on the menu.  I've some fruit nicely frozen to make some sorbets with later and at the same time I am trying to distract myself so as not to see the results of the F1 qualifying from Singapore - I have to wait until 1 pm for that.

I think they may have to peel be down from the walls after all these sweets.  Actually it all tastes very strange indeed as I've had none of this all week and so going from relatively bland food (it isn't all that bad really) to this is an amazing shock to the system.

Oh well, it might be a terrible thing to have to eat all this high carbs, sickly sweet stuff all day but someone's got to do it!  :-)  Might as well be me.  

Friday, March 23, 2012

Bit of a rest coming up

Yes, my business partner is off for a short while playing golf and we met up for a coffee this morning.  Not a lot happening unfortunately - we just need to sit back and see what our emails bring us.  It is always a bit of an anti-climax and things happen in waves.  There's nothing for me to do but sit back and wait :-)

So I need to sort out what to do for 3 or 4 days and next week is actually pretty busy.  I'm out three nights next week and I have my CT Scan which is uncharted territory for me on Friday - in fact this time next week it should (in theory) be all over!  I have no idea when I'll get the results of that - I suppose not until July unless they find something......  which if they do I'll be called up I guess.

So - I've a few odds and ends to work on but perhaps I'll take some time off away from the PC and just relax a bit?  

They grow up so quickly

So A asks me to choose which outfit she should wear and appears in a power dress grey skirt and jacket suit followed by a black trouser and jacket combo.  I'm amazed at the transformation.  Art students, by their nature, aren't suit people :-)  She looked totally different and "all grown up".  So I asked what is the occasion?  She has an interview at one of the top galleries in the UK.  So she has gone out and "invested" in these two suits - her own money - and is preparing herself for her interview next week.

I'm always impressed by her planning and attention to detail and we spent some time crafting her cover letter.  It isn't even a permanent job and covers the summer but, she suggests that if she can get the job, do well etc. she will have it on her CV as a minimum and will be asking for any future opportunities to work there.  I'm most impressed.

Also this morning was also most impressed to take in another notch on my waist line belt :-)  That's impressive, that's two notches in two weeks.  Long may that continue.  

Thursday, March 22, 2012

I'm quite impressed with this diet

I'm feeling good and I'm losing pounds and can see it and my belt is now fully in one notch (not pulling) so there's at least an inch of not more of my waistline, my face and neck look thinner and my stomach is shrinking nicely.  I have to say that I'm impressed with the results of this almost counter intuitive diet.   If anything I don't tend to eat enough in the evening but tonight I think I put that right by upping the number of legumes I normally have and that really seems to have removed the hunger pangs I was getting around about this time of night.  

Amazingly I ate early around 6 pm but that's OK I think.  I just maxed out with 15 oz of Red Kidney Beans and about 4 oz of Chick Peas to go with my chicken breast, Spinach and Tomatoes.  I am looking forward to cheating on Saturday and this time I will go a bit crazy I think as I just fancy celebrating lasting this week and keeping away from booze and banished foods.  Tomorrow I will once again raid the Freezer and set free some of my Stilton Cheese and perhaps on Saturday I'll make some of my banana ice cream with my juicer/blender.  That has only had two uses this week which I'm disappointed with.  I ran out of carrots earlier in the week and really I should have got off my arse and gone and got some more.  Tomorrow looks to be a very nice day so perhaps I will go for a walk down to my local supermarket and have a bit of a spend up and also get myself some treats for Saturday.

I really ought to go see my doctor as well I suppose - I keep putting it off.  I'll walk right past the place so maybe I could take my diary and call in for an appointment?  

Work was slow today and I suppose if I did an hour over the whole day I did a lot.  I hope that I'll be a little busier tomorrow but I doubt it!  Perhaps a call with my business partner and that will do.

Anyway, happy with the diet, getting the hang of eating enough and roll on Saturday!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Considering what to do next

I'd probably say that the workload is diminishing by the day now.  We are waiting on people getting back to us and there's not a lot we can do (apart from print the money maybe!) and so days have suddenly become long and every email arriving is pounced on as if something wonderful is going to happen.  It isn't of course and the way things are going it is unlikely that the next 4 to 6 weeks will throw up anything new or exciting.  So it gives me time to consider what I want to do next and that's proving a problem really.  When you've been involved in something that has the potential to change so many people's lives and it remains unfulfilled anything else is a bit of a let down really.  An anti climax and in a way I suppose it cannot be anything else.  It was never going to fade away because we planned for a test point to be reached and we are coming up close to that and if things don't happen then the test point is proven and we take the next course of action in our plan.

What is "funny" is that there's some obvious disappointment in this but no real anger or resentment (apart from understanding some of the more inside working of the finance industry).  There's not a feeling that we've been hard done by as in reality, if we have done this properly then those people who should be interested would have been but they are not.  The economic, political and world climate just isn't here at the moment.  We've either peaked too soon or not soon enough and perhaps we might be listened to later on?

There's a bit of a hole opening up as it is something I've done now for close to 2 years - I hadn't planned 2 years but there you go.  You can't think about what to do next if you are working on what  was in front of you so it can only happen now at this time.  It's difficult to know where to start except that the holiday cleared my head and whilst I have some negative thoughts I'm in a better place than I was before going away - I did feel that we weren't doing enough but perception is very often much different to reality.

So, tomorrow I'll take a walk up to Costa for breakfast and meet with Flocky Bicep and we can have a chat about Lodge and so on and then also about life in general...  I'm looking forward to that a lot.  I hope he is :-)  He will have me bending his ear for half a morning!!!!  

A Bit of Respect Please

This goes out to the spammers and mindless morons (which by default means they will be unable to read and comprehend this) who post blatant adverts and links on my blog in the hope that it will increase their SEO and promote their web sites.  If you are going to do it here are a few rules:

  1. Don't do it on a blog where I discuss my father's terminal illness 
  2. Don't do it on a blog that discusses useful stuff for sufferers
  3. By all means comment on my flippant stuff and my trivia (it probably deserves that sort of attention)
  4. Any comment with a URL that I don't like will be deleted
  5. I review all comments - I report those that are inappropriate - I also put a small incantation learnt from a martial arts specialist in Nepal that will mean that in a month or two you'll be walking along the street and your arm or leg will drop off - you have been warned 
So to remain safe - don't comment unless you have something meaningful to say, some question you would liked answered or something else useful to bring to the party.  

But don't be disrespectful to my father or my family, you really really really don't want me to change from being the nice guy that I am, remember that the nice quiet ones are the ones to be worried about.  As Wednesday Addams so eloquently puts it "Be afraid, be very afraid"  :-)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Update on the CT Scan

Due on 30th March at lunchtime so that was a bit quicker than I was lead to believe it would be.  I've read the basic stuff it looks as if I'll be there for a few hours so MP3 and Kindle reader are up for an outing.  I guess it will require gown and all that stuff so best take my sandals and sort that out.  

I can't say I'm particularly looking forward to it but will just make the best of it.  I can call the Doctors up afterwards and do my BP the week after as I wouldn't want to measure what my BP will be like leading up to it.  Like all these things it will all be over and done with pretty quickly and so I'll just grin and bear it and can then move on.  Of course there's always the worry that they'll find something :-(  Anyway - I suppose that should be a reason to be thankful that they'll find something if I do have anything.

Anyway, at least it is only 10 days away so that's something.  After sorting it out I went shopping but only got enough to stick in the bag I was carrying I could have got completely carried away with all the food that was there and the seafood was really tempting there was some nice Mackerel there but I resisted and only got some bits and pieces that I wanted to try out.  Some Cod Roe, some Butter Beans and Haricots plus some Mushrooms, Fish Sticks and some Chinese Leaf - they also had Pak Choi but I thought I'd never get that home.  I managed to find some Egg Whites in a carton too and got another 18 eggs.  I get through 3 eggs a day at the moment and so thought I ought to use the Egg White and just one or two eggs with it.   Not sure yet will try and resolve that.  I took one look at the Turkey Bacon and decided against that :-)  It was about £2.40 for 6 rashers :-(  So I'll be making do with the nice stuff we froze at Christmas time which is very good quality.  I was being suspicious of Bacon but I am now having it occasionally as it is allowed in the diet.

On the day of the CT Scan that is going to get hit as there is no eating for 4 hours and I'm going to be there at lunchtime.  They will want to fill me up with water - well I'll already be full with the amounts I drink so I'd better moderate it that day.  Hmmmm, at least I'll be ready to eat heartily when I've finished - I'll be able to have lunch and tea all at the same time! 

Monday, March 19, 2012

CT Scan

"Hello, I've been told to call you to book a CT scan."  "Ermm, do you have a form?"  "Why yes I do." "Well, we are meant to have the form" "I see"

So I have decided that the very best thing I can do is actually go to the Radiology department tomorrow and take my diary and book this up.  I can also chat to someone (and maybe see the Scanner). "They" (whoever they may be) say that if you are claustrophobic that it can be difficult, well maybe they'll let me have a peek and see it - I'm sure it should be OK, I've been inside a large X-Ray thing before so perhaps it is like that?  Anyhow, at least they sounded OK about me turning up to make the appointment and also that I'm over 42 (I think) which means that I'm OK to have the scan without some sort of assessment being made.

Maybe whilst I am out I can pop into the shops and get some food for my diet.  I'm being a bit demanding on what I'm able to eat so I can perhaps do a bit of shopping myself and so make the main shop a bit less arduous.  The Supermarket is right next door to the Hospital so it shouldn't be a problem and a bit of exercise will go down well after breakfast.

Very Quick

Traumatic but very quickly my friend died and it was a sad evening.  I feel sorry for my friend who I go to the Jazz night with as this is both of his friends in a very short space of time :-(  Parkinson's and now this Pancreatic and complications (Gall and Liver problems).  It has been pretty quick I guess 2 weeks start to finish and I only saw him myself about 6 or 8 weeks ago I suppose.  I only meet him 8 or 10 times a year but have done that regularly over 10 or more years I suppose.  

So a sad day really but here's something interesting at the same time another friend of mine was posting that he had a 220 mile round trip to come to Bromley tonight.  As things happened one of the Brethren stopped breathing and this chap stepped in and got his heart beating again sufficiently to get help there and that's just amazing so now he knows why he made the round trip - he did that to save a life.  Fantastic job.


Well dad is stable I guess you'd call it.  He surprises me my being still very cheerful although he has his days - don't we all.  He is still hanging on in there but quite weak and needs to take his time and get his breath and that's the thing - his mind isn't going but his body is and he knows it.  I just heard that a friend of mine was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer whilst I was away he is in hospital and not so good.  In and out of conciousness and not likely to last too long.  It is a shame as he and I were only talking about Dad in January (or was it February) and he was complaining about a few minor ailments and bang, that's arrived and within weeks he is seriously ill.

In some ways I'm surprised my dad has made it this far, he wasn't expected to at all although his prognosis of 6 months to 4 years gives plenty of room for the health specialists.  I'm planning to go up soon to see the folks, I ring everyday really just to make sure mum has somewhere to off load what she is going through.  My brother isn't "good" at that sort of listening regime.  I'm a lot better at hearing the words that he doesn't want to hear.  I think that there's a lot to be said for looking after the carer a little more, they have to be there all the time and live with the consequences.  

Anyway, he's as well as can be and still doing well despite what is actually happening to him.

New Week New Outlook

I've been in a funny old place since being diagnosed with Bladder Cancer way way back in July 2006.  It really has completely thrown my life into a different place and all that period up until diagnosis of sacrifice at the altar of capitalism changed in a very swift way.  The funniest thing was that I thought, back then, I had direction something that I'm not absolutely certain I had then or have now.  Since diagnosis I've been struggling coming to terms with what it all means, how I've been affected, what I want to do and so on.  It's a long old "mid life crisis" and for much of that time I've been trying to weigh it all up.  I'm not saying that I've succeeded or that I'm anywhere nearer answering the questions I'm posing myself but that I'm now in a comfortable place with myself.

This morning, for once in a long time, I've sat down at my PC without the anxious drive to do something and by that I mean that I generally sit here and feel guilty if I'm not doing something constructive and yet, today, there is nothing to do - all my actions are done, my work here is finished and I'm waiting for someone to get back to me, a call to arrive and nothing else.  The day is my own until something else happens.  Close to 2 years work is now over and things will be what they will be, there is a plan and things will happen today and down the week but there is nothing I can physically do to make it happen it is out of my control.  

What to do with the time now available?  Well some tidying up and getting my desk cleaned up.  Throw away all the old rubbish and recycle all the paper around here :-) I've some things to do in terms of sorting out accounts and also I have to update my diary with all my commitments in it.  Arrange to go see my folks and generally start to consider what to do next in terms of a job, career or vocation.  

Of course, that could be considered defeatist and I suppose in a way if you look at it without my knowledge of the situation it could be.  In fact it is proper risk management in action as I can see the possibility of a train wreck in the distance and I'm mitigating it.  It would be amusing to get to the end of the journey and find that we can proceed no further and not have a Plan B :-)

It is a beautiful sunny spring day outside and I'm feeling good and positive, I'm losing weight, I feel well and the holiday was the right thing to do to get my head back in the right place and to calm me down and level off the anxiety I was beginning to feel. 

I have to also get in touch with my GP and get my BP reading done - maybe next week will be good for that with this amount of weight lost and also the pressures gone.  Also need to call to arrange my CT Scan.  Anyway, things have slowed right down now and hopefully that will allow me the time to reflect and consider my situation fully.  I certainly hope so.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Back on the diet

I'm almost relieved to be back on the diet - I was quite uncomfortable last night with all the eating stuff you like and high carb content etc., but it needs to happen once a week and no doubt I will get my balance of being decadent once a week as time moves on.  

I dug out my old egg steamer (poacher) from the back of one of the kitchen cupboards and used that this morning it works well.  I'm using up the some of my pre-prepared frozen legumes.  Chick Peas this morning and not too many of them as it says they should be used in moderation and so I will make sure I have a good few days gap in between using them again.  I have some Avocados that must also be used in moderation, perhaps for lunch?  Anyway, I can definitely feel the weight loss and more interestingly things like bending over to tie a shoe or pick something up are now much easier so I'm pleased about that.  

I'm once again keeping away from TV and Radio and Internet news so as not to find out the F1 result - the replay show is on at 2pm.  It is a bit of a nuisance that F1 has come off terrestrial TV and is now a "paid for" Satellite experience.  I'm not sure that for the 40 hours of actual racing I want to pay out £360+ a year.  In fact 10 of the races will be on terrestrial so it definitely doesn't make economic sense that would be around £30 a race :-)  I think they have the highlights of every race plus the 10 live ones so I'll see how it can be scheduled.  

I should have sat down and done some accounts this weekend and actually, frankly, I can't be arsed to do it :-)  I know that sounds bad but occasionally you just need to have some "me" time.  I'm beginning to consider my future options especially as we haven't had even a nibble from the investment community.  People outside of that community cannot understand how our idea cannot be given some level of investment.  

We are aware (and always were) that this was a possible outcome and have planned for it.  The next step will be to approach Corporate companies who have money available and will venture with us.  That changes the game a bit for us.  In fact it changes it a lot but if that doesn't happen and we cannot Joint Venture either then we are sort of clutching at straws and will need to take a deep breath and close the business down.  It will be a shame of course but that's what happens and great ideas and clever innovation do not always get recognised and realised.  We would have done what we needed to bring the idea to life and have it investor ready.  We might be able to "sell" the work we have done and the company name etc., to recover some costs but that's not immediately likely.

So I'm doing some thinking about what I'd like to do next if things don't work out the way I would like them to.  There's plenty of things and opportunities out there and I could probably pursue a dream or perhaps change career or do something completely "out there" :-)  I just need a lazy Sunday like today to do that....

Saturday, March 17, 2012

OK Enough Already

Managed to get into the swing on cheat day (or should that be reward day).  Finally got stuck into and had some bread and some crumptes, cheese especially my Stilton and some cheese biscuits before heading off to town to have an Italian meal - some Seafood Ravioli and Tiramisu (sp) and a few Peroni beers so hopefully I've done what is needed I certainly fell full up and slightly uncomfortable.  Hopefully this has spiked my carbs and will help next weeks low carbs do their job.  

So off to bed now and back to the diet tomorrow - glad to see that a large bag of Spinach has turned up in the fridge - I love the stuff and it goes well with all meals.

Cheat Day has arrived

I feel like a bit of a Devil and want to go all out to cheat and have things I normally wouldn't anyway but the tale of the scale is holding me back a little.  How about it looks as if I've lost between 6 and 8 pounds!  In one week.  It is one of those uncertainty things as I forgot when I weighed myself and whether it was before or after food.  At the moment I'm loaded with a high protein breakfast and a quart of water so I'm bound to be a little heavier on the scales but they were hovering close to 16 and a half Stones!  Which is pretty good.  Mrs. F. commented this morning that I was visibly slimmer and she could see that most of my balcony of a stomach has melted away.  I'm very pleased as the diet isn't as "bad" as I thought it might be and by that I mean bland and boring.  I've managed to pull meals together and just use my imagination - sometimes they combine well and other times it's just like eating a mess of stuff :-)

So the quandary has arrived, I can go and cheat and eat what I like and all I have ready is some Flax Seed Oil and Cottage Cheese which I can make up with some dried fruits that I like and some yoghurt and I have a nice slice of Stilton sitting in the Fridge with my name on it.  Other than that, I'm struggling to find what else to cheat with but tonight I can have what I like as we are out for a meal so perhaps that will make me feel less guilty about "undoing" the work - in real terms, as far as I can see, I'm not actually undoing the work I've done but it feels like it.

Now I've got to keep clear of the radio and TV and the Internet so that I can watch the highlights of F1 qualifying on the TV later.

So - great results on the weight loss front and long may that continue, I imagine, like many other diets, the first week's losses are quite large and things will settle down over the weeks ahead.   Anyway, other things I've noticed - which may sound strange - are that I can get my clothes on better and that may seem strange to say but I was struggling to do that and was feeling "fat" hence going on the diet made a lot of sense as does the other health benefits of getting back to a normal weight, eating healthily and so on.

Right - off now to wreak mayhem on the household's food supplies - watch out fattening, sugary foods "Here's Johnny!!!" :-)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A little red wine in celebration

I thought I'd open up a bottle of wine I won a few years ago in 2010 to celebrate Steve's all clear today.  Unfortunately it tasted absolutely awful and I had to pour it away it will probably do a nice job of cleaning out the drain.  I hope Mrs. F. doesn't think I've necked the whole bottle.  Instead I've pulled out an Italian Veneto and that is rather nice, so now I can properly raise my glass to Steve's continued well being and that means he can take the whole summer off until September when he has another scope followed by 3 BCGs. 

I must ring up and arrange my CT Scan and I need to get to see my GP to get my Blood Pressure taken again as it was up at stratospheric levels last time I was there.  I might just delay that a little while whilst I bring my body under control with this diet and the exercises I'm gradually bringing in. I've been pretty good and only done short 5 and 10 minute bursts.  Just a few minutes on the vibration plate to do some squats and bends and then some wall pushes and also I do some 45% push ups using the bed rail to push against.

So far, so good.  I had a cheeky look at the scales earlier and I'm a good 3 or 4 pounds lighter than I was on Sunday so that's not bad but I'll probably properly check tomorrow sometime.   I'm now set fair with plenty of legumes and Mrs. F. also bought me some Fish and Red Kidney Beans for tomorrow so I'm happy about that.  I've been unable to touch my soups because they contain things like rice or milk products and all sorts of things I'm not allowed.  I can only have them on Saturday, my cheat day.  I've lined up some nice Stilton Cheese for Saturday and I need to top up on my Flax Seed Oil and Cottage Cheese mixture too as I've missed that.  I generally had that every day but will now limit myself to just twice a week meaning I've got a smaller amount of Cottage Cheese than the big tub I normally get through.  Mind you, that's OK as is Flax Seed Oil, it is just the dried fruit and other stuff I used to have in it, including my Pro-biotic yoghurt that have had to be dropped.  It's all for a good cause and I'm hoping that I can get into real shape over the next month or two especially as I can build my exercises and the nights get lighter and perhaps I can get out of the house a bit more.

We are getting into the "end game" with the business and are now pursuing different funding avenues, it is where we thought we would end up and so we've spent a couple of hours on conference calls tonight to set strategy going forward.  I'm seriously reviewing what alternatives I may have should we fail as it is an ideal time to start thinking seriously about that.  It makes no sense for one day to find that the dream is ended and I've no Plans B, C & D to fall back on.

I've started by setting down my requirements for the future and looking at things differently.  I can now that health is a lot better and I can consider other options that may be more active and more assertive than the work at the Charity I did.  I'm not saying that the work wasn't active and assertive but it fitted my illness at the time and work and illness worked around each other quite well.  I think that travelling up to London and back each day would require a substantial incentive for me as would getting involved in anything as serious as I used to do unless I'm doing it for myself of course.  I still have the family history business in stasis I suppose and the Program Management business is also still active so either of those are possibilities.  

The holiday put me in a calm and peaceful place.  I wasn't there before I went, I was quite annoyed that no one got what we are doing, that the EU investment market is dead, that no matter what people might say about encouraging entrepreneurs, it is just lip service and most of the stuff that is spouted by politicians and industry heads is a pack of lies.  That's the disappointment with the whole thing.  In the US it is very different but what we are doing is very European to start with - how could it be anything other than that?  The US guys have plenty of people beating a path to their door so they don't need to come over here and see us and they don't tend to invest in services businesses.

So that was the annoyance and now I've gone past that because, it will be what it will be.  We will have worked it out of our system and whilst it will be a huge shame and disappointment, it won't be the only radical idea that never made it, there must be thousands of broken dreams crushed every week through the same reasons.  It isn't that they don't have merit or that they don't work it is just that their time isn't now and may never be.  That's just the way the cookie crumbles I'm afraid.  There's no need to get angry although perhaps you should and there's not a lot you can do about it so like the US Cops you just have to say "Nothing to see here, move along, get behind the line" :-)

Anyway, I haven't drunk my wine which I will do now, thinking of Steve and his great news and remembering that we are both clear, have both had some pretty traumatic times, some good and bad experiences and have worked our way from those very scary days away and up and beyond, taken control of our health and taken responsibility for recovering and maintaining our bodies as best we can.  


Almost done

Blimey a marathon effort soaking, washing, boiling, simmering, rinsing, cooling and packaging my legumes :-)  It has taken the best part of the day doing it - not standing over them but timings and cooling down, packaging and freezing etc.  Almost done now and some left out for my meal tonight.

Just juiced up some carrots with some brussel sprout top - uggghhhh I'd forgotten how awful it tastes.  As luck would have it I have some Limes and Lemons so a hit of lemon seems to have dampened it down and on my 6th pint of cold water too.  I'm having coffee around about lunch time, normally an Americano but today did some filter so I could have a couple of cups.  I've cut out sweeteners altogether and milk and all dairy so quite a change for me but not unpleasant and I've been able to cook up some interesting meals and using various herbs and combinations it hasn't been too bad.  It's only Thursday and I have another day to go before going off and trying some other stuff.  So far, so good, I've not weighed myself but I actually feel better and I actually feel thinner certainly my trousers are coming undone because they are too large and my belt size has gone in a notch although I attribute much of that to the holiday and all the exercise I got walking around Venice. Florence and Rome.

We are going out on Saturday night the girls are taking Mrs. F. out for Mothers Day which is on Sunday.  They cleverly have vouchers for the evening and I suggested that I'll foot the bar bill as I may have a few extra beers and will certainly have a blow out meal!

Kitchen Prep

The kitchen looks like one in a Restaurant as I prepare Lentils, Split Peas, Black Eyed Beans and Chick Peas.  I'm doing them in a batch so that I can freeze them and that will allow me to ensure I have enough for the next week or so.  More supplies are arriving tonight I hope in the form of Red Kidney Beans which do make economical sense to buy in tins.  Will have to keep my eye out for others that are available.

For some reason Chick Peas are only to be used in moderation so I'll just limit those - it is the same as Avocado which I also like shouldn't be a daily thing - perhaps every couple of days or so.

Thought for Steve Kelley who is being checked later today with a flexible cystoscope.  Fingers crossed, prayers sent for a clear verdict on his Judgement Day. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Short on carbs

Could tell that today I was short on the carbs as I felt hungry and you really shouldn't feel like that.  So have set out to sort out my Black Eye Beans, Lentils and Split Peas and I have some Chick Peas that Mrs. F. bought but they must be had in moderation only so I'll prepare them but use sparingly.  I can then freeze all of these and use them as I have this week for three meals a day - I need to somehow work out how I can make it 4 meals a day.  

I have managed pretty well and apart from the red wine slip up, everything else seems to be working out OK.  I feel quite cold which is unusual, I probably need to wear something a bit warmer but I'm drinking ice cold water and lots of it during the day.

Another 2 days to go until the cheat day which I have planned for one of my big no nos normally and that is Stilton Cheese.  I froze quite a bit that I got for Christmas and so I can get that out of the freezer on Friday night and have that on Saturday.

The Formula 1 season starts on Saturday with the Australian Grand Prix.  It is no longer free to view and so I'll have to make do with the highlights.  I don't see that paying over £300 a year is quite right just to watch a couple of races (and that is all).  I suppose we are lucky to get highlights.    I imagine that this will start to erode the sport in this country as it did when they took over boxing.  

On a brighter note, I've ordered my new mobile phone and package and hope that it will be a good step forward.  I've got a slightly different package of time and data which I hope will actually mean me using it properly.  I've had to seriously curtail using the one I have now as I ran up a £12 bill just for downloading a few emails.  Hopefully that will now go away.  Looking forward to getting a larger phone as well as the small screen on mine makes it difficult to read sometimes.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Almost passed the test

But just a couple of glasses of red wine too many in my calculations.  Oh well - these things are sent to try us - if it had been beer would it have been worse?  Difficult to say I suppose.

So I'm sat here and should now call it a night and go to bed.  A few months ago I'd be up until 1 or 2 am but will call it a day soon and head on up to get a good nights rest.

I've managed to keep on diet except those two extra glasses of wine!  Let's see what I can do to keep to plan until Saturday when I can cheat myself stupid.

I have to say that I managed to keep pretty much to plan until a friend turned up late and kept me at the pub until closing time - I was expecting to get home a few hours before this...

Have until Saturday with no other engagements to resolve this I suppose!

So far so good

Trying to work out if I'm this cold because of the diet :-)  I am absolutely frozen so much so that I put the central heating on early this afternoon.  Mind you I have been drinking ice cold water and a good few pints of that too.  Had my high protein breakfast and lunch both with beans for carbs.  Had one cup of coffee today so far but feel the need for a cup of soup in a minute just to warm up!  

Will have chicken tonight with some beans and vegetables.  Off out to the pub so I will contain myself with Red Wine rather than Beer so as to keep on plan.  Saturday is my day off and so I will enjoy a bit of a cheat then.  I like the idea of having stuff that you wouldn't normally have anyway like chocolate and doughnuts etc.  Not sure I'll go absolutely wild but I may cut loose with some pastries :-)

So far then so good, getting used to it and not feeling hungry at the moment but feeling cold and not surprised drinking this chilled water all day.  Did also do a carrot juice this morning but added a touch too much Lime which made it a bit difficult to drink :-)  I will keep juicing just to ensure that I get my concentrated fix of vegetables into my system.  I won't be doing too much in the way of getting off plan though as I just need this to keep me topped up with the good stuff.

I have to say that I'm feeling good and got a good night's sleep and was up and about early too.  It feels like a long day because of that and also getting breakfast eaten within the hour of waking means that I get going much quicker.  I will go and give myself a short work out after writing this - no more than 5 or 10 minutes just to start to get into the habit.

I think after the holiday I am in a much better place mentally especially as I think that I've started to think the unthinkable that we may not get funded with our project.  That was always a possibility and so I can calmly look forward to see what may come afterwards and take my time to do that.  We aren't near the last throw of the dice but we have completed a number of phases and are getting past half way without much take up.  From the meeting we had yesterday, it appears that our experience isn't un-typical in today's climate.  We do however have a few trump cards left to play and that will be the test a little later.

Well that's about it at the moment, I feel slimmer from the holiday and fitting into my suit trousers was a bonus yesterday, I just hope that I can keep this momentum up and start to get back into my old clothes and fit more comfortably into my present ones!

Monday, March 12, 2012

First Day

Well that wasn't too bad apart from we had a meeting in London and needed to grab food up there.  As luck would have it there was a chicken salad with lashings of Spinach to be had and no heavy dressing so I was pleased with getting that and also managed to drink my Ice Cold water - around 5 pints so far today.  Was a little concerned that I hadn't taken on enough carbs but made up for that with 2/3 of a tin of Berlotti Beans :-)

Found a number of bags of frozen beans in the Freezer so using them first.  The next test comes tomorrow as it is lads night out.  As luck would have it my friend is the only one turning up, he has to go early and so I will be able to have some red wine (allowed) and not have any beer (shame but I am going to stick to this diet).  I did some basic exercises today on my Vibration Plate machine and got some stretches and squats done too.  I need to up these but I've learnt from the past not to overdo these things especially on the vibration exercises which give you a real workout quicker than you think they do.

So - the first day has gone OK and I'm hoping that I'll be ready for another crack at this in the morning bashing in huge protein hit to start with, drinking a litre of very cold water and this time I will be able to get some beans (legumes) in with my breakfast.

I was most surprised that my starting weight is 17 stone - OK that may seem large to you but for me I only look fat with a bit of a beer belly with this.  I'm down from 18 stone and I think I may have been higher than that.  In the past two weeks, before this diet, I've lost around 1 stone, an inch off my neck and perhaps an inch or two of my waist (I could actually get into my suit trousers without discomfort today).  My watch strap too has shrunk by a notch and my clothes do feel looser on me.  A good run at this diet will, I hope, allow me to lose another stone or more and start to get myself back to a decent weight allowing me to also get my BP down at the same time.

New Regime

I was pretty impressed that on returning from holiday that I have managed to drop a belt size and even my watch needed to go in a notch.  That's what a lot of walking can do for you and also eating sensibly.

Talking of eating sensibly, I am today starting the diet that fellow blogger Steve Kelley has had such success with.  See here for Steve's experiences.  Some time ago Steve and I tried a cross Atlantic weight loss "competition" and whilst we both lost a bit we had to work really hard at it and like may other diets I managed to put back everything I lost and more :-( 

Steve has had impressive results so far and as far as I can see the whole thing is sustainable and  makes a lot of sense.  I'd suggest you don't do this if you are actually being treated or have cancer at the moment or to at least seek medical advice.

So I've prepared for this by getting rid of anything likely to deter me from the path of eating just a few things regularly for 6 days a week and then having a 7th cheat day.  In essence I started this yesterday and stepped off this morning with a protein rich breakfast and some ice cold water to get things moving :-)  Unfortunately I'm out to lunch today (typical) but I know what I can ask for or look for in terms of food and so will make sure that I do that.  

The biggest problem with this diet is where to get your carbs from and so Legumes are the way to go on this.  I've loaded the house up with Lentils and Black Eyed Beans etc.  Now I need to prepare them and get them ready for using as it is these that need to be used to provide the carb part of the diet.  If you don't get them you run a real risk of running out of energy, feeling hungry etc.  

Rather than rattle through what Steve has eloquently described again here all I'll say is that I am looking forward to the change and trying this out and giving it a good go, it appears to be good in terms of results and in terms of allowing me to add in exercise without having to do 45 minutes a day which I was easily doing when I was dieting last year.  It is strange that I am getting back into clothes that were too small 4 or 5 months ago and so there is further incentive for me to continue to bring my weight down.  

Here goes - let's see what happens.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Alcohol Added Rant

It's nice once in a while, when having drunk a few beers, to attack one's blog with some sort of "under the influence" awakening.

Of course, it isn't the same as a "trip" and so can't mean anything either.

I realised tonight that I didn't spend the time I should doing the right thing for my family.  As I spoke to friends who now have young families I waxed lyrical about spending time with them.  I didn't but then, at this present time, the girls have a house that is paid for, the ability to fall back on money that we have put aside for them or that they have, to keep them at Uni, looking for a job, a flat etc.  My "guilt" is that I maybe should have spent time with them then rather than them having the opportunity now.  In other words, if I was having the opportunity to build the family foundations at the time they were born was it time well spent or not?

I don't know really?  At this present time, no one needs to find finance, it is sitting in the bank(s) ready to be used.  If I hadn't worked all over Europe for all those hours and grabbing those bonuses then perhaps I'd have seen the kids more when they were younger and yet if I hadn't have done that I'd have been out of a job there would have been no money and so on - we can go on that loop forever.

I don't know the answer but would you have sacrificed the now for the future or sacrificed the future for the now?   There is no easy answer to that - I just need to focus on the now - I actually think I missed out huge tracks of my daughter's lives through working really hard when they were young.  I think that just as you hit your peak in terms of career and climbing the greasy pole that everything arrives all at once.  There's a trade off that you make and mine was to secure my family's future and yet I think now that I'd have rather secured the opportunity to watch them grow up a bit more.  My children mean so much to me and now I regret that I secured their now rather than their then.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Back to Reality

Well here I am again and feeling a bit trimmer which is good and just about to get back onto my diet and back to exercise routine.  After a week and a half of walking quite long distances I'm feeling a lot better.  My back was twinging and all over the place on the first few days in Venice but after a few days of working on it and also realising that I was carrying my back pack on one shoulder, I moved away from that and so far have managed to get better each day.  The distances we walked must be in the 5 to 10 miles a day region I think and up and down steps and hills, over hard surfaces etc.  All of the cities are best seen by foot in reality.

We were extremely lucky with the weather - on two days it was dodgy - one day in Florence was misty and damp but we changed schedule, went indoors and when we came out went on a long walk out of the city up into the hills and were rewarded with the sun coming out and burning off the mists and a wonderful series of views of the city.  A long walk though but worth it.  When we went to the Vatican it started drizzling (it had rained the night before and we had got in just before the heavens opened) and as we got inside from the obligatory queuing the heavens once again opened up.  So all in all we got away with great weather.  Some of the train journeys were amazing - Lucerne to Milan and Turin to Paris being the stand out ones.  We would have liked to have seen a bit more of Basel to Lucerne but the light failed but of what we could see, this would have been spectacular too.

Nothing quite prepares you for Venice, Florence or Rome really.  They are each different in character and each was enjoyable in its own right.  We fitted as much in as we could in each of the cities and did most of the "tourist" stuff however, the best bits were getting out early, getting past the queues and finding those little hidden gems that only the intrepid explorer can hope to see.  In Venice we stayed about as far from the tourist area as it is possible to stay.  The upside was a few quiet canals and local life, hidden squares and churches.  The downside?  Few restaurants and few evening activities unless going back into the city.  We felt sorry for the day tourists on the Cruise liners - quite how they could do Venice in a day was beyond us - we did 2 and a half days - we could have done a bit more on departure day but didn't!  

The train journeys were good in general, the people were not so.  First class travel made things a bit better but I do find aircraft and train travel to be a bit of a strain especially when the web site booking systems stick all the passengers together in one carriage of the train leaving the carriages either side virtually empty (late booking may help here).  No sooner had one person struggled off with their case than someone else struggled on with theirs and tried to put an oversized suitcase into an undersized luggage rack, then try and back it out to the main luggage racks where the doors are.  If they had been booked either side there would have been easier access and egress.  Anyway, there's me being a pragmatist.  We often let them all scramble on and off the trains and get on when all is settled - that was we can find seats, locate space etc.

I'm sure I could write a travel book based on the experiences of the journey.  Would I travel by train again?  Pretty sure I would but I'd probably go first class all the way despite the issue I had with the idiots on the Turin to Paris train, I know how to avoid that in future.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Italy - WOW

Back from a hectic week and a half in Italy.  Had a wonderful time, mostly good weather and of course the culture and the food stick in the mind.  Even lost a bit of weight and a belt size but that was through the massive amount of walking we did over the days.  Today has been stunning making our way back from Torino to home.  We went from sunlight to snow in the Alps and back to rain, grey and then blue skies all in one day.  

Generally a good time but occasionally I find that people are just downright disgraceful and ignorant and rude but then that's the Italians and French for you.  Removing our luggage from the racks, placing theirs in it and throwing our cases (and others) in a pile in the train corridor was just one of the tricks these monkeys got up to - and that on a first class compartment.  Wish I'd seen them do it, there'd have been someone with bruised testicles as a starter...

Apart from that, the way that these guys allow their dogs to shit unabated even around ancient world heritage monuments and their apparent lack of oral or other bodily hygiene the places themselves made up for it.  Proof in both Italy and France that many many many many years ago there was an advanced, artistic and altogether more elegant time than those who inherited it deserve.