A couple of weeks ago it was decided that we, and our Ozzy rellies, would take a trip across to the Isle of Wight. The most flexible way is to take your own car across on the ferry, rather than rely on public transport on either side of the Solent.
Travelling into Pompey around morning peak traffic times is always a bit like a toss of the dice. Albeit late, we eventually made it to the Wightlink ferry port. Luckily, for us, our ferry was late arriving. Apparently this was due to the low tide meaning the ferry had to take a slightly longer route across the Solent. Once loaded aboard, we made our way up to the lounge, where we had hot chocolate and toasties for breakfast. I also took the opportunity for a couple of snaps.
The following pictures show the scene around the ferry.
Portsmouth Fishing Fleet with Viviers in the background
Portsmouth Fishing Fleet with Viviers in the background
In the background, above the fishing boats, you can see Viviers Fish Market. They are the suppliers of some truly scrumptious fresh fish. Proof is, as they say, in the tasting and we have recently had some superb Halibut, a couple of Bream and a couple of dressed crab.
The bland looking building is the Land Rover BAR building. Having now seen it several times, I’m still not sure about the design. It looks like they are waiting for the wrapping to be fully removed, to expose its true shape.
The ferry was soon underway and after a short voyage, arrived at Fishbourne. We disembarked and made our way to our first destination, Osborne House.
Osborne House is a former royal residence, built between 1845 and 1851 for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, as a summer home and retreat. Now under the care of English Heritage, both the house and grounds are made available to the public. A few pictures are posted below.
Clock Tower – Osborne House
Clock Tower – Osborne House
Large Painting – Osborne House
Fountain – Osborne House
Ornamental Gardens – Osborne House
Fountain – Osborne House
Ornate Steps – Osborne House
Unfortunately, due to filming of a new drama about Victoria and her indian servant, the fabulous Durbar Room was not available for viewing. In addition, photography was prohibited in other rooms as they were dressed for filming. Apparently, any images would be copyright, because the film company had installed some of their own furniture.
After touring the house, we had a pleasant lunch in the Terrace Restaurant and Orangery. Suitably refueled we headed down to the Swiss Cottage
and on to the sea-shore via the Rhododendron Walk, dotted along which there are a variety of carved animals and birds.
Queen Victoria’s Personal Bathing Machine – Osborne House
Beach Shelter – Osborne House
Queen Victoria had her own “Bathing Machine” in which she would get changed. The “machine” would be run into the sea and she would descend the steps into the bracing waters of the Solent. Also on the beach at Osborne is a decorated “alcove” which during our visit gave shelter from the brisk breeze blowing in off the sea.
Returning to the house we spent some time, and of course money, in the gift shop.
From Osborne House we headed off to view The Needles, a row of three distinctive stacks of chalk that rise out of the sea off the western extremity of the Isle of Wight. They are also home to The Needles Lighthouse built on the western most stack.
An unusual sight was this, apparently tame, fox being enticed to feed.
Not sure about the fashion statement this guy is making.
It was soon time for us to think about a spot of dinner before travelling back to the mainland. We had already decided to head to a regular haunt of ours, The Folly Inn.
The Folly is a rustic pub perched on the banks of the River Medina, just up the river from Cowes in Whippingham. They serve good food, good beer, are friendly and provide a great location to chill and watch the yachty world go by.
View From The Shore – Folly Inn, Isle of Wight
View From The Shore – Folly Inn, Isle of Wight
Suitably replete, we headed back to Fishbourne for our ferry ride back to Portsmouth. With the autumnal evenings drawing in we were welcomed back to harbour by the Spinnaker Tower.
Driving out of Pompey was a lot easier than our rush hour entry. We were soon home and relaxing with a nice cup of tea.
Did you see it ? The ISS (International Space Station) that is.
If you were in the Perth, WA vicinity it would have been visible this evening from around 8:43 PM, for around 6 minutes. According to NASA the ISS would track across the sky, appearing 10° above NW. Reaching a maximum height of 84° before disappearing 11° above SE.
Of course, all of the above assumed a clear sky.
Had you been in the Perth area today you would be aware that today has been a scorcher, with clear blue skies, all day.
So all looked set fair for a great evening for celestial viewing.
Imagine my thoughts when I stepped outside at 20:30 to see the skies obscured by broken clouds.This is typical of my luck regarding all celestial events. Blood moon scheduled to make an appearance, I go to the top of Portsdown Hill but its cloudy. The Perseids meteor shower makes an appearance. Not in any sky that I have access to.
Still, ever hopeful, I settled in to see if my luck had improved. Gerry, Steve and Denise all came out to join me and after a couple of false sightings, the ISS appeared in the sky. Tracking from the far corner of the garden, as expected, and passing almost directly overhead. The bright “star” passed rapidly across the sky, disappearing from time to time behind the clouds. It couldn’t be mistaken for anything else, traversing as it did in an apparent straight line.
We all waved to Tim Peake, the British astronaut, wishing him Merry Christmas. Did you see us Tim ?We commented on what a special achievement the ISS is and that Tim has joined a very unique group of people. It s a very small group that have actually travelled to outer space and Tim has also joined an even more select group, those that have spent Christmas in space.
So we wish the folks up on the ISS all the very best, good luck with their missions and of course wish them safe return.
For those of you who are following this saga you will remember that my last post was shortly after attending hospital for surgery. That the surgery was cancelled due to a lack of availability of beds.
I think the fates intervened and the cancellation of the operation was a blessing in disguise. There were just too many risks with the operation and the potential impact to my lifestyle for the following year (at least) were just too much to consider.
So, surgery, which was always my first choice, has now been kicked into touch, and became the option of last resort.
Since December 2014 I have had follow-up appointments with Mr Wilkinson, my consultant. We have discussed fully, my reasons for not going ahead with the surgical option. As a result I was referred to an oncologist, Mr Nagar who talked me through the alternative radiotherapy options.
Given in the hospital radiotherapy department, as daily sessions from Monday–Friday, with a rest at the weekend. The course of treatment would last for just over 7 weeks.
Low-Dose Rate (LDR) Brachytherapy
This type of radiotherapy is sometimes called internal radiotherapy, implant therapy or seed implantation. This uses small, radioactive metal ‘seeds’ that are inserted into the tumour so that radiation is released slowly. The seeds are not removed but the radiation gradually fades away over about six months. There is no risk of it affecting other people.
So after a full and frank discussion with Mr Nagar I was left with a lot of thinking to do, along with more discussions with my wife. The net of this was that I decided that LDR Brachytherapy was the right treatment for me. The following images show the basics of the procedure.
And so it was back to Mr. Wilkinson who scheduled me for a Flow Rate Test. I mentioned that this was somewhat less than successful last time so he suggested that the fall back plan would be a visit to Urodynamics.
As preparation for the Flow Test I had to keep a diary, over three days, of how much liquid I took on board, the type of liquid (tea, beer, wine etc.) and how much pee I produced. On the day of the flow test I thought I would help things along by arriving at the hospital early and drinking lots of water. I spent nearly an hour walking the grounds sipping at my bottle of water. Twenty minutes before my appointment my bladder started to indicate that it would need emptying soon so I headed up to Urology. I let the receptionist know that I might have an urgent need to perform. I was directed to take a seat and to let her know when things became truly urgent. So I sat there and my bladder went to sleep.
At my allotted appointment time I was called through to another waiting area asked to sit, offered tea and told to shout when I was ready to do the test. My bladder snoozed on. It was perhaps another thirty minutes before my bladder woke up. So I looked for the nurse. No sign. Well she said to shout so I did. After all I didn’t want to waste this opportunity. Thankfully the nurse appeared and we dashed to the flow test equipment. Basically it looks something like this….
After successfully performing I was given a quick ultrasound check to see what was left in my bladder and there it was, job done. Although I had a second appointment set for a visit to Urodynamics it was deemed not to be necessary and was cancelled. Instead a new appointment with the consultant, Mr Hodgson, was set.
Time flew by and once again I presented myself for the scheduled appointment with Mr Hodgson. Sadly, not for the first time, there was a distinct lack of notes. At least the computer was working this time and he was able to access my notes that way. However, what was missing was the flow rate test results. Two sets of print outs were found from that date and I had to choose the chart from my test. Thankfully the graphs were very different and I could easily identify mine.
The results were deemed good and I was informed that I would need another rectal (digital) exam as well as having my prostate vital statistics taken.
So there I was again, trousers round my ankles, up on the couch, laid on my side with my knees under my chin. Different room but the scenery hadn’t changed just a blank wall painted in that neutral paint that all hospitals seem to choose.
First up was the rectal (digital) exam and for the first time since this whole process began I actually felt some discomfort, though not for very long. This was followed by an Ultrasound Scan during which measurements were taken of my prostate. These help to determine the shape and mass of the prostate and would be used during the Brachytherapy procedure.
Soon the scan was finished and I was back in the vertical plane. I almost had my trousers secured when I was informed that some of the data from the scan had not been saved. So it was trolleys round the ankles again, back on the couch and staring once again at the blandly painted wall. This time the scan image was saved and once fully dressed we were back to discussing the procedure and timing.
Apparently hospitals don’t keep a cupboard full of these things around and the seeds have to be procured. I wondered if they went to Suttons, Fothergills or perhaps our local garden center to obtain the seeds. I did not vocalise these thoughts. They implant 80 – 100 Iodine 125 seeds @ £30.00 each. That’s dearer than a packet of Impatiens seeds.
When my consultation was over I had to visit with the nurse for nasal & groin swabs. She was less than amused when I suggested that I had saved the NHS money by using one swab for both areas. Either she’d had a humour bypass or had heard it all before.
On 13th May I presented myself for my Pre-Op Assessment and was duly measured, weighed and gave up a blood sample.
Before I knew it a date had been set for the procedure, May 15th. This was sooner than anticipated and I will admit to going through a moment of panic.
On the day I presented myself at reception and was shown through to a consulting room. I was measured and weighed again, blood pressure taken and given some premeds, antibiotics etc.. I was visited by the anaesthetic and the consultant and signed the consent forms after having everything explained to me. Thankfully, this time, the wait was not very long between these consultations and being taken through to theatre.
Preparation for the procedure was a surreal experience, what with me being dressed in the wonderful hospital smock and stockings, also the jokey disposition of the theatre staff. We were actually having a good time and that was before I had any anaesthetic.
It was about this time that I started to misbehave. As usual they inserted a canula, except that they had two goes at that. Then they informed me that I was due to have an epidural, which had not been discussed previously. At the same time they administered something through the canula that they said would make me feel like I had consumed a couple of G & Ts. I remember feeling a little woozy and then nothing more until came to in the recovery area.
I was subsequently informed that the anaesthetists assistant tried on two occasions to set up the epidural. They are supposed to see spinal fluid come out of the needle and on each occasion I wouldn’t give any up. The anaesthetist then took over and tried herself, three more times, and still I wouldn’t give any fluid. At this point they decided that they would give up on the epidural and put me under with a general anaesthetic (GA). Once they had me under, and the procedure was underway, that’s when I really began to misbehave. I decided to vomit.
From what I have heard vomiting whilst under a GA is not good. This required the use of dyna-rod and a vacuum cleaner to clear out my tubes and the upper reaches of my lungs.
As a result of this the procedure took much longer than the estimated two hours which would be normal. A further consequence was that I had to stay in hospital overnight, when I had expected to go home, and I was wheeled up to a ward where I was connected to an oxygen supply with attached humidifier. This was so that they could monitor me and make sure that I hadn’t inhaled any of my stomach contents and didn’t suffer an infection.
So there I was stuck in hospital. Hungry, I hadn’t eaten for over twelve hours. Thirsty, no fluids other than a few sips of water prior to the procedure. Catheterised, for the procedure and for the duration of my observation. Sore throat due to the GA and subsequent rodding out and suction due to my vomiting session.
The nurses brought me a sandwich to alleviate the hunger. A cheese on wholemeal sandwich was the only choice and was so dry that it was very hard to swallow, especially kind to my sore throat …. NOT !!
This was only the beginning of the fun night. Did I mention that I was catheterised ? Through the night I was subjected to hourly obs. Just as I was drifting off to sleep along would come the nurse to take my temperature and my blood pressure. Then, just as I was drifting away again, she would come back and I would feel a pulling at my penis. This was specifically related to the brachytherapy and the catheter. She had to use a Geiger counter type device and scan the contents of bag attached to my catheter then along the length of the tube up to the old fella. Required to ensure that none of my seeds had escaped. Any found would need special handling for disposal. Seeds can escape from their implantation point and move around the body. Supposedly this is not harmful.
Saturday morning arrived and I felt a bit fresher after a strip wash and some breakfast. I was scheduled to go down for an X-ray but someone cancelled it which meant a new booking for later in the day. Hospitals are the most boring places to be when you are waiting to be released.
I was visited by the consultant who informed me that I would need to go for a scan on Monday. This was to ensure that the seeds were implanted in the right place and the right quantity. He also said I could have the catheter removed. Yippee !! His female assistant performed the removal saying “this might feel a little strange”. Decidedly unpleasant would have been my description. Mind you, after my first few pee’s following catheter removal I would have gladly had it back. The sensation is as close to burning as I can imagine and it seems like you can feel it all the way back to your bladder. Thankfully that sensation slowly faded away over the next couple of days.
The consultant also gave me a little blue card, which I have to carry for the next three years. This card informs people that I have “received a permanent radioactive iodine seed (Iodine – 125) implant to the prostate”. This is not because I glow in the dark, but the seeds will show up on various scanners and may even set off alarms at airports.
Back in the hospital, the consultant said he was happy for me to go home but that the final decision was down to the anaesthetist. And he wouldn’t give the go ahead until I had an X-ray.
Well it was nearly 16:00 when I was taken down for the X-ray and it was gone 17:00 before I was finally released. At this time I was given a box of Tamsulosin capsules.
Tamsulosin is used to relax the muscle around the Prostate which, not unexpected, can be a bit irritated following the implants. How would you feel after 80-100 foreign bodies were inserted about your person. Add to the facts that they are radioactive too. The irritation / inflammation can cause the Prostate to swell and constrict the urether making it difficult to pee.
So home I went. What a relief it was to get out of the hospital.
One of the major topics of conversation during the latter weeks of 2014, for me at least, has been retirement.
In June of this year I will achieve the grand old age of 63. This is significant, as that is the target retirement age defined in all my company pension bumf.
I started with the company back in July of 1977. This is also the year that I got married. So, when I retire
I will have been employed by the company for 37 years and 11 months.
I will have been married for 37 years and 6 months
1977 was a momentous year. It was the year I left the comfort of working for the MOD where I had worked for the previous 8 years. Starting first as a Fitter & Turner Apprentice in the training center at Flathouse Quay, then as a qualified Fitter & Turner working “afloat” in HM Royal Dockyard, Portsmouth. Finally, after a 6 months training course at Priddys Hard, as a Ratefixer Planner based in RNAD Frater, Gosport.
After an acrimonious year I left to join IBM as a Technical Analyst. I had no idea what one of those was, but it really didn’t matter. So long as I was out of Frater. Later that year, Christmas Eve, I got married at Portsmouth Registry Office. And here we are 37 years later, still together, and about to embark on a huge adventure.
Today, I received notification of my pension start date. Rather, I got asked the question, am I going to retire or carry on working.
I, of course, have responded that I am going to retire. The next stage of my life journey is definitely underway and I feel like I am just reaching the top of the Pepsi Max Big One.About to plummet down towards Blackpools Pleasure Beach.
Last evening we popped down to see how my daughter and her husbands new venture was progressing. They have just opened Glam & Glitz Boutique in Albert Road, Southsea. Since it was near closing time we all decided to go out for a meal. Albert Road is a great place to go if you are hungry. There are eateries catering for just about every taste imaginable.
We chose to try Aubergine, a small Bangladeshi and Indian Cuisine restaurant. What a good decision that was. There were six of us and we hadn’t booked. This didn’t phase them and very quickly they shuffled some tables and chairs and we were quickly seated.
I ordered a starter, “Luck Now Ke Seek Kebab” described as “Minced lamb with chefs own spices, coriander, cheese, moulded on to skewers” which was quite tasty. This I followed with “Juicy Gosht” which was effectively a lamb shank in a spicy sauce. My description is probably doing it a disservice but it is not on the internet version of their menu so I couldn’t plagiarise their description. However, it really was juicy and the meat was oh so tender. This was the star of the evening, and, ably supported by Pilau Rice and Bhindi Bhajee was a meal fit for a king.
Two of our family group kicked off with the the mandatory “Onion Bhajee” and two more decided to try the “Tandoori Champan”, which comprised “Tender of lamb chops marinated with fresh garlic, ginger and other spices”. For their mains two brave souls, including my wife, went for the Lamb Jalfrazi.
All agreed that the service was good, the staff friendly despite my introducing confusion by ordering a refill beer brand that they didn’t sell.
I would say that Aubergine stands out as one of the good restaurants in the area and I heartily recommend a visit. I for one will certainly be going back.