A blat to Rutland Water

It was perfect weather for getting out in the Caterham today. Rather than head up into the peaks as usual, I decided instead to meander towards Rutland Water. The drive along the A6006 and A606 isn’t as demanding as many (provided that you stay alert for motorcyclists and tractors) but the destination is worthwhile. First stop was the Harbour Cafe at Whitwell for coffee and a cake.

Rutland Belle at Whitwell, Rutland Water
The Rutland Belle docked outside the Harbour Cafe at Whitwell.
Whitwell - Catamaran
A catamaran in the Whitwell boat park. Many (like this one) seem to have been forgotten, but I assume someone is paying for them to be stored there?
Exit sign
A six-inch high exit sign, not pointing towards any obvious exit.
Gnu in the car park at Whitwell
Small but perfectly formed.

Having decided that the two and a half mile path to Normanton was a little too far to tackle I headed off there in the Gnu. Lots of people seemed to be enjoying barbecues and there was no shortage of ice cream and other refreshments available.

Rutland Water
A view over Rutland Water towards Oakham (Well, almost. It’s somewhere to the left of the image I believe).
Duck
Obligatory duck.
Normanton Church
Normanton Church. Closed today, but available for hire.
Normanton Church
Normanton Church against the clouds.

I called it a day, as any more cake or ice cream would have jeopardised Gnu’s aerodynamics, and headed home via Melton Mowbray. The roads around Rutland Water seem remarkably well kept, certainly when compared with the roads back to Derby through Leicestershire and (especially) Nottinghamshire. They’re a pleasure to drive on. Perhaps Lord Bonkers has been keeping the inmates at the home for well-behaved orphans gainfully employed?

The beast is awake

Wednesday wasn’t supposed to turn out like it did. I’d already made work commitments and personal plans for 2018. A few days driving around the Border 500. A trip to the Edinburgh Fringe. A holiday in Cyprus. Theatre trips. A little bit of politics. It’s all going to have to wait for 2019 instead.

While the lumps on the left hand side of my neck still look much like they did at the end of last year, the right hand side has really caught up. There was nothing very visible in November even though there was clearly some activity on the PET/CT scan. Today the right hand side of my neck has lymph nodes that rival the left hand side for size. The left hand side took nearly four years to get there. The right hand side has taken just a few weeks. The beast is awake.

What’s next is more tests, more scans – and a go / no go decision for chemotherapy to be made on February 14th. But I know that it will be go, unless something very unusual happens.

I’ll be working my way through the cocktail of drugs for treating Mantle Cell Lymphoma known as the Nordic Protocol. Six cycles of chemotherapy three weeks apart to start with, probably followed by a stem cell transplant.

It’s said that knowledge is power. I know what’s about to come next. I know what the statistics say (I have a 97% chance of responding to treatment. I have a 100% chance of losing my hair during the process). I know people who have lived well for many years after treatment for MCL. But I also know that there is no cure (yet) for this type of lymphoma. I know all these things, but I haven’t experienced them yet. I think that experience gives you power, not knowledge.

I’m trying to balance optimism with realism – hoping for the best but making some prudent contingency plans. It feels tough, I’m concerned about what’s going to happen, I’m worried about my family and friends, but I don’t feel helpless or terrified.

Today’s been a beautiful, sunny, cold day in Derbyshire. I took the beast for a drive in my beast. I laughed at his terror as I drove along the road underneath the Carsington Dam.

Gnu at Carsington Reservoir January 2018

Gnu gets a rear light upgrade

With the light getting gloomier as winter draws in, my decision to fit a pair of LED rear light clusters to the Seven looks like it was an excellent idea. The ones I’ve bought are from Just Add Lightness. I pre-ordered them in mid-September and they arrived, very well packaged in reams of bubble wrap, earlier on this week.

LED lights
The lights with all of the bubble wrap removed. The standard factory supplied flasher relay on a 2016 270 doesn’t work with these lights.

Even with my (very limited) mechanical skills, removing the existing light clusters and fitting the new ones took me just over an hour. Most of that time was spent fiddling with the plug and grommet (removing the old one and then fitting the new) in the narrow gap between the side of the car and the fuel tank. The rest of the procedure was simple, as even I can manage to use a screwdriver.

Half fitted
Half fitted
Left vs Right
Left side with the original incandescent bulbs; right hand side with LEDs. The tail light and brake light (not lit in this picture) are noticeably brighter
Finished!
The finished job

While I was doing the work, I also figured out how the wiring works for a high level brake light. I’ve decided that will be my next upgrade.

Update 11/11/2017 – egg on face time.

I am (or rather, was) a software engineer. I know that you should always test for every possible combination you can think of before you say that something definitely works. I found out today that I hadn’t done my testing very well! Sadly, the standard flasher unit fitted to the 270 doesn’t work well with these indicators – unless you happen to have the hazards on – which is how I’d done my testing yesterday. I realised this as soon as I first indicated to turn right this afternoon.

Quickly heading back to my garage, the WIPAC flasher unit that I’d ordered as a precaution at the same time as the lights didn’t fix the problem. In fact it was worse, as the indicators didn’t work at all rather than simply flashing at a comically high-speed. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the current Caterham owners’ manual doesn’t tell you where this relay is located on the 270 (although I did eventually manage to find it in the fuse box – it’s the bottom of four relays in there).

I’ve now ordered the RDX relay instead (after a trip to the local motor spares emporium failed to turn up anything that might work) and so have my fingers crossed that it will sort the issue.

Update 14/11/2017 – sorted!

The RDX relay did the trick. Thank you to Just Add Lightness for the very prompt processing of this order. It means Gnu and I will be back on the road again this weekend, weather permitting.

RDX relay
The RDX relay in situ – fourth and last relay down from the top in the 270’s fuse box

Riber Castle, Derbyshire

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.

The view towards Riber Castle and the Heights of Abraham

B5023 Cowers Lane to Middleton

I filmed a clear run on the B5023 from Duffield to Cowers Lane in March. Today I managed a clear run from Cowers Lane to Middleton via Wirksworth. The weather was much better and the sky looks amazing. The video follows, but for those of you who are interested, this is what Croots Farm Shop on the route I filmed in March has on offer this week …

50% off chicken fillets

Cowers Lane to Middleton from Tim Holyoake on Vimeo.