Since I last wrote on T+30 I’ve continued to make progress. I’m still tired much of the time and if sleeping was an Olympic sport I’d be a certainty for the gold medal. However, it feels as if some kind of normality might not be that far away.
This is the easiest to measure. Since T+30:
I no longer need my walking stick.
I’ve managed to drive both the Alfa and the 7 a couple of times, although not very far.
I’ve walked around the woods on Oakwood (several times), Kedleston Hall and yesterday spent some time walking around the gardens at Chatsworth (when I wasn’t eating cake, naturally). My daily step count has gone up from around 1,500 to averaging 5,000 or so. Yesterday I exceeded 8,000 for the first time in two months. My resting pulse has continued to come down (73 today), although it’s still a little above my mid-sixties norm.
This is a little harder to measure, but since T+30:
I’ve built a surveillance camera for the driveway. This was motivated by the possibly paranoid belief I hold that an intruder tried to get into the house the first night I was home from hospital. It consists of a Raspberry Pi 3B+ inside a custom case, running MotionEye on Raspbian. (I originally tried MotionEyeOS, but it proved to be unstable). So far the only intruder its spotted is a spider.
I’ve been thinking about what it might be sensible to stockpile ahead of what looks like is going to be an increasingly difficult Brexit. I’ve not gone “full prepper” – yet – as my list currently consists only of tinned tuna.
Last Friday afternoon I paid a farewell visit with some friends to the Donington Grand Prix collection. Although the museum doesn’t close until 5th November, the contents of the display cabinets were already being packed away. The café was shuttered and empty. The number of cars also seems to have declined since I last visited in mid-2017. There are now spaces between many of the exhibits. If you’re thinking of going, sooner rather than later is probably a good idea. The cost of entry is £12 per adult, £5 per child. We spent around 90 minutes in the museum, discussing (amongst other things) the evolution of F1 aerodynamics.
Skipping quickly through the first two halls that are dedicated to a collection of military vehicles, the real stars are the racing cars from McLaren, Williams, Force India and Vanwall.
One problem with having chemo fatigue is that I watch far too much television. This weekend I’ve managed to see some of the British Superbikes from Brands Hatch. I was delighted to see Leon Haslam clinch the championship. Back in the late 70s I remember watching his father, Ron, duel with the likes of Randy Mamola at Donington Park.
These fond memories set me wading through some reels of old 8mm cine film this afternoon. While I didn’t manage to find any of Ron and Randy in their prime, I did find a couple of minutes from the World Sidecar Trophy, shot from our favourite vantage point at McLeans. This featured Jock Taylor and his ‘passenger’, Benga Johansson. Normal motorcycle racing is daring enough, sidecar racing is terrifying. Much as the exploits of Ron Haslam appealed to me as a teenager, the real hard men were the sidecar racers. What’s noticeable in this clip is the fairly low-level of protection offered to riders, marshalls and spectators. These days McLeans has a much larger run-off area and catch fencing.
I can’t find the result of this particular race, but it would seem that Jock and Benga were leading in the number 7 Fowler Yamaha outfit at some point in the race. (See around 1m 16s into the clip). They certainly won the world sidecar championship together in 1980. Sadly, Jock Taylor was killed in a racing accident in 1982 at the age of 28.
Sad news being reported in the Derby Telegraph tonight. The last time I visited the Donington Collection was during the Lotus 7 60th anniversary celebrations in 2017. The grand prix cars and other racing memorabilia held at Donington is unmatched elsewhere. The crammed-in nature of the exhibits somehow added to the charm of the place, even if it meant that viewing conditions weren’t always ideal.
Since I started publishing my father’s photographs of bygone Spondon, I’ve been delighted by the interest that they’ve attracted. I was recently contacted by Kaff at Cherrytree Picture Framers in Spondon who asked if she could create display prints from four of them.
Yesterday I saw the results of her efforts – and they’re truly stunning.
The blemishes which scarred the original slides and negatives have been skillfully removed. High resolution scans (rather than scaled-down images from this blog) were used, producing great quality prints.
The photographs are currently on display at 3 Moor Street, Spondon. Prints can be purchased in different sizes and frames.
The best way to appreciate the pictures is to go in person. However, if you’re unable to visit and want to take a closer look, the colour photographs are blemish-free versions of the first two in this post. The black and white photographs are featured here.
An 8mm cine film of floats and marching bands participating in the 1977 Ockbrook & Borrowash Carnival. It was shot opposite the shops on Priorway Avenue. Corona soft drinks were still going strong (a wastebin with Corona branding appears 2s in). The Borrowash Mother and Baby club had clearly spent a lot of time and effort on their Magic Roundabout float (10s). The paddle steamer float that follows is equally impressive.
The dangers of open-sided carnival floats can be seen at 61s as the lawn tennis club lorry comes to a sudden stop. Despite this mishap, Ockbrook & Borrowash Lawn Tennis Club would seem to be celebrating their centenary next year.
But without me serving cotton wool balls into the crowd, fortunately.
Last week I paid a visit to Buxton for the first time in many years. Self-styled as “England’s leading spa town” (although I’m sure Royal Leamington Spa may have something to say about that claim) the visit was a disappointment.
The Crescent and Pump Rooms remain under renovation, with the 2018 re-opening date given on the hoardings looking optimistic. A BBC news article published in 2017 suggests that it may re-open in 2019, 12 years behind schedule.
However, the site was a hive of activity when I visited, unlike at the Octagon. This is also undergoing renovation, with the Pavilion Garden’s website suggesting a “late summer” reopening this year. This seems a tad optimistic.
The miniature railway in the Pavilion Gardens, supposedly open every day during the summer holidays was, you guessed it, closed.
The Opera House is lovely from the outside and had its doors open, but was inaccessible due to an extended fire drill.
The main shopping area is unusual as nearly all of the major high street banks and building societies (as well as some of the lesser ones) have a presence. The rest of the shopping area is unremarkable, with the former Grove Hotel at one end in a poor state of repair.
The only redeeming feature of the visit was Charlotte’s Chocolates in the Cavendish Centre, next to the Crescent. Great coffee, hot chocolate and cake. The homemade chocolates proved too tempting not to buy as well.
Buxton should have more to recommend it by 2020 – but until then it’s probably not worth a visit outside of the festival.
In 2017 I drove up to the Derwent Dams for the first time in several years. This afternoon as I was going through more boxes of slides that my father left, I came across these ones of the dams. They were taken during 1959, when a severe drought affected Central, Eastern and North-East England between February and November.
As a follow-up to my last post, here’s a cine film taken by my father of a family visit to Riber Zoo on 30th August 1969. The castle building appears to be in a state of complete ruin – very different to how it appears now. By today’s standards, the zoo seems rather too cramped for the animals. The safety precautions for visitors also seemed lax, as evidenced by my brother sat on one of the enclosure walls at about 25 seconds in. There’s also a makeshift “These animals are very dangerous” sign 72 seconds in. However, the only thing I really remember about this visit was the unpleasant smell of the place.
The visit took place as we were caravanning nearby at the Derbyshire Caravan Club’s Bank Holiday rally. Here’s the information sheet from the event. This has survived because my father kept a detailed log book of all of the caravan outings we had as a family between 1967 and 1976.
And finally, no log book entry would be complete without his own notes. I especially like the note of the routes taken to and from the rally. There’s also a very short cine clip of the hot air balloon seen at Crich in the archive.
The view from Lickpenny Lane, Ashover this morning. Riber Castle is visible just above the driver’s side front wheel. I remember it as a regular school and cub-scout trip destination in the 1970s. In those days, the ruins of John Smedley’s former home was home to a rather depressing zoo. The zoo closed at the turn of the millennium. More recently, Riber Castle has been the subject of a long running redevelopment project to convert it into apartments.