760 years of the Seven

OK, so I know the event last weekend at Donington Park celebrated 60, rather than 760 years of the Seven, but it’s how I keep reading the logo. Sorry.

760 years of the Seven

760 (?!) years of the Seven – souvenir programme

In the end I only managed to attend the Friday evening event and joined a run out to Bakewell on the Saturday morning, but very enjoyable it all was. Even the queueing on Friday evening was a great (if a probably unintended) way to break the ice with fellow enthusiasts. I’d like to thank and congratulate the organisers from the Lotus 7 Club – you did an excellent job looking after so many people and their cars.

Friday evening’s event was held in the Donington Collections Museum. It had been some time since I’d last looked around it. The overwhelming impression you get is that they desperately need more space to do full justice to the exhibits. Even so, it’s a fascinating place and the normal entrance fee of £12 for an adult is a bargain.

F1 collection

Just a few cars from the museum’s enormous F1 collection

A Hesketh and a Lola

A Hesketh and Lola displaying some, well, very 1970s sponsorship

Saturday morning saw me return to Donington and join a run out to Bakewell. Unfortunately, as I was too busy looking at the route book and strapping myself in, I headed off last and spent the first few miles of the run playing catch-up. Through a fortuitous piece of satnav lunacy (I took a wrong turning), I eventually caught up with the pack just outside Hulland Ward.

I see you!

I see you!

The weather was perfect and after a brief stop outside Bakewell Showground I had to leave the group and head back home to join the rest of the family for a theatre trip. That was brilliant too (The play that goes wrong, as you’re asking) – even though there wasn’t a Seven in sight.

The gnu and friends at Bakewell

The gnu and friends at Bakewell

I missed all of Sunday as I needed to head ‘up North’ for work. I’m now looking forward to the 70th anniversary. I promise not to double book myself then …

Good news – and looking forward to playtime!

Hurrah! The good news on Wednesday morning was that my white blood cell (neutrophil) count was just above the minimum for “normal” adults for the first time in three tests. This would suggest that my bone marrow is hanging on in there after all. I’m therefore back on the watch and wait routine until September, assuming that nothing out of the ordinary happens.

My medical team remains of the opinion that I’m in the luckier 15% of people with MCL as it’s still behaving indolently rather than aggressively three years after diagnosis. There’s still no evidence to suggest that my survival prospects would be improved by taking the chemotherapy option sooner rather than later. I’m happy with that – but there’s a little voice nagging in my head telling me that if we really knew how to treat MCL, it wouldn’t be so. Some lifestyle changes – not taking on too much physically and mentally – also seem to be helping with the tiredness I sometimes feel.

This weekend marks the 60th anniversary of the Lotus 7 and the owner’s club have a celebration weekend at Donington Park. I’m going as it’s nearby and I’m looking forward to it. Something tells me the gnu is also looking forward to the event – you can see the gleam in his eyes headlamps.

Is it playtime yet?

Is it playtime yet?

Little darlings: Dealing with watch and wait anxiety

I’m three days away from my regular watch and wait appointment at the hospital, and I’m panicking again. Last time my white blood cell count was low, so I was “promised” another bone marrow biopsy if it hadn’t moved back closer to normal this time. They’re not fun. I can feel myself coming over all unnecessary as I contemplate the prospect. To try to distract myself, I’ve therefore spent the day doing two things I’ve really enjoyed.

This morning I took the gnu (or he took me, not quite sure which!) out along the roads to Carsington Reservoir and back. I even had time to pull into the visitor centre for coffee. That was just after he’d found an impressive turn of speed to overtake a couple of vehicles alongside the dam. There’s clearly nothing wrong with his fuel and exhaust system, unlike that of his driver. He’s a little darling.

Carsington Reservoir

Carsington Reservoir, as seen from the coffee shop

The gnu at Carsington

The gnu, as seen in the car park

The second was being taken on a date to see “Despicable Me 3” this afternoon. Like Mark Kermode I think that the minions can do no wrong. They’re little darlings. Watching them perform the Major-General’s song from The Pirates of Penzance was definitely the highlight of the movie for me. But I admit that I also found the fart gag before the film even started funny. Is that wrong? I even managed to put up with a little shit darling constantly kicking the back of my seat with something approaching good grace. If you were sat in Derby’s Intu Showcase, screen 2, row F, seat 5 for the 1700 screening, it’s you that I’m talking about. Don’t do it again. Ever. The next person you do it to might not be as reasonable as I was. Or enjoying the film as much. Or both.

That was my Sunday. Only three more sleeps until the watch and wait anxiety dissipates again.

B5023 Duffield to Cowers Lane

While Italy were busy losing at rugby, I decided to take Gnu out for a run around the Derbyshire countryside. The day was overcast, but warm enough for me to manage with just a fleece, scarf and the heating. This was the most enjoyable stretch of the route – three and a half minutes of B road twistyness between Duffield and Cowers Lane.

I didn’t even bother to stop for the bargain bacon …

Carsington eight: a Seven driving route

Here’s an enjoyable driving route around Mid Derbyshire. Especially on a cold but sunny Saturday in February in a Caterham 7. What other way is there to travel?

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My route map is below, just in case anyone is interested in replicating the experience. I can recommend Kedleston Hall, Carsington Water’s Visitor Centre and Middleton Top as places to visit on this route if you’re not in a hurry …

Raspberry Pi motion sensitive camera

Other than messing around with a few FORTRAN benchmarks and learning how to code using Python, I haven’t really used my Raspberry Pi computers for very much that’s been practical. However, having bought a Raspberry Pi camera to play with over Christmas, I decided to have a go at building a motion sensitive camera for the garage. It’s cheap and easy to find passive infrared detectors these days, so I acquired three for the princely sum of £5.

The passive infrared detector
PIR detector

The first challenge was working out the function of the three pins in the foreground. A little bit of searching led me to the conclusion that the top pin is the ground, the bottom pin the 5v supply, with the middle being the status pin. If the middle pin goes high, it means that motion has been detected. The sensitivity of the device, and the length of time the status pin stays high for, can be adjusted using the two potentiometers.

I connected the power pins to a couple of the available 5v supply and ground pins on a Raspberry Pi 2. I used physical pin 26 (GPIO pin 7) to connect up to the status pin.

The code

The next challenge was writing some code to detect changes in the status pin and take a photograph when motion is detected. Fortunately, there are plenty of code snippets available that made this task relatively straightforward. The current version of my code is below.

import RPi.GPIO as GPIO
import time
from picamera import PiCamera
 
# Initialise the camera settings
camera=PiCamera()
camera.resolution=(1024,768)
camera.rotation=(180)
camera.meter_mode=('backlit')
 
# Use GPIO pin 7 (physical pin 26) for the PIR detector
GPIO.setmode(GPIO.BCM)
GPIO_PIR=7
GPIO.setup(GPIO_PIR,GPIO.IN)
 
# Variables used to determine when a picture should be taken.
# GPIO pin 7 => high (ts==1) from low (qs==0) 
# triggers the camera.
ts=0
qs=0
 
try:
 
  # Wait until PIR GPIO pin is low (0)  
  print "Waiting ..."
  while GPIO.input(GPIO_PIR)==1:
    ts=0    
  print "... detector is ready"     
 
  # Loop until quit signal
  while 1:
 
    # Read PIR state
    ts=GPIO.input(GPIO_PIR)
    # DEBUG print ts
    if ts==1 and qs==0:
      # Create unique filename with timestamp and set qs high
      t=time.localtime()
      timestamp=time.strftime('%Y%m%d-%H%M%S',t)
      filename=("img" + timestamp + ".jpg")
      camera.capture(filename)
      print "Movement detected - ",filename," created"
      qs=1
    elif ts==0 and qs==1:
      # GPIO pin 7 has returned to low, therefore set qs low
      qs=0
 
    # Wait for a second
    time.sleep(1)      
 
except KeyboardInterrupt:
 
  # Cleanup GPIO
  GPIO.cleanup()
  print "PIR-PiCamera program terminated"
The results

My Raspberry Pi 2 is now set up in the garage with the motion detector and camera. At the moment it’s simply saving the images onto a drive available to my home network, but I’m probably going to experiment with sending email alerts as well.

Raspberry Pi motion sensitive cameraI’m pleased to report my motion sensitive camera has already caught an intruder …

C7 thief!

Caterham 7 ownership – 3 months in

Towards the end of August, I realised a long-held ambition of becoming a Caterham 7 owner. Six months earlier, I’d walked into the Bookatrack dealership at Donington Park, specified a yellow 270S (series V, as I’m too big to fit comfortably in an S3), paid my deposit and walked away, hoping to forget all about it until I’d safely completed my MSc. I couldn’t, naturally. Time that I should have devoted to my research was spent clearing out the garage and building a shed.

By the time I take the 7 back for its 3 month checkup this weekend, I will have covered a little over 600 miles, mostly on short trips in and around Derbyshire. It will then stay tucked up in its hutch over the winter as I’m led to believe that road salt and aluminium don’t mix all that well. I’ll be counting the days off on the calendar until it’s safe to emerge again.

After I’d ordered the car, I decided to splash out on a personalised registration for it. This is something I’ve always sworn that I’d never do, primarily because people who buy them and then deliberately misrepresent the mark are one of my pet hates. But, in for a penny, in for a pound I suppose. The C7 part of the registration chose itself, but the letters – GNU – go back to my very first car. A yellow Skoda S110L.

GNU 706N

Gnu I

I’m hoping that the colour will be the only thing they share, as gnu I was temperamental, to say the least. I remember the pain of the breakdowns (usually in really inconvenient places, like the hard shoulder of the M1 at 1am or in the middle of the Severn Bridge), the first time someone ran into me and the police coming to see me when something unsavoury had been stuck onto his rear window. But I also remember him with a great deal of affection – something I’ve not really felt about a car until gnu II arrived.

Gnu II has so far proved to be reliable, even if I’ve been slow in learning to use a clutch properly again, causing much hilarity at traffic lights. The lack of driver aids and the occasional feeling of being ever so slightly out of control at times definitely adds to the fun – and reminds me, in a good way, of gnu I. Anyway, I’m sure you’re more likely to be interested in pictures of gnu II than gnu I, so here are some from our recent adventures

Gnu II - Ashbourne, November 2016

On the road between Leek and Ashbourne last weekend

At Mercia Marina

At Mercia Marina

Looking through the windscreen (complete with dead fly) over Kedleston Hall's parkland

Looking through the windscreen (complete with dead fly) over Kedleston Hall’s parkland

Gnu II has been a great introduction to Caterham 7 ownership. I grin stupidly every time I get behind the wheel and start him up. I’m looking forward to continuing our adventures in 2017 – which will hopefully include the North Coast 500.

10,000 steps a day – day 13 – taking the cat to work

I took the cat to work today. Thrill as you see me pull away without stalling. Be amazed as I slip easily under Derby’s notorious low bridge without scraping the roof (11 minutes in). Watch as a taxi driver performs a questionable U-turn in front of the bus station (13:40). See me shake my head! Wonder why I simply didn’t drive under the barrier at work, rather than stopping to use my pass.

It’s not the greatest movie ever shot, but I think you’ll agree that its far more entertaining than London Has Fallen.

In other news, you’ll be glad to hear that I’m still on target to meet the challenge. Thank you again to everyone who is supporting me. Funds raised for Cancer Research UK has topped £300 today.

Day 13 progress

If you’d like to sponsor me to walk all over cancer during September, my donations page is still open. Thank you!

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