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Sunday, 20 May 2018

That Wedding

What a tonic that was.   We flew the Union Jack from the tower - didn't see any others in Settle.

I confess to being lukewarm beforehand, about weddings in general if I'm honest.   A very wise friend from Bingley Rotary Club days was the popular headmaster of a public school who got invited to loads of weddings.   He once told me that the likelihood of the marriage lasting was in invererse proportion to the poshness and pomp of the 'do'.   At that rate yesterdays event stands little chance of lasting success.   But I hope not.

Being still sort-of confined to barracks I found myself watching the event on TV, for want of anyting better to do really.   Hours of television were punctuated by little things which brought the whole thing down to earth.    Posh for sure, but pompous no.

Some things struck home for me.

David Beckham (a footballer) shook hands with a policeman.


A gospel choir shone as brightly as the Windsor sun.

US Episcopal Bishop Michael Curry stole the ecclesiastical show by several miles.


The British ability to put on a pageant like this will have impressed the World.

Those crowds on the carriage drive will have given president Trump something to think about.

A near total absence of politicians and heads of state.

And the most abiding memory?   The looks on the faces of the royalty and toffs during Bishop Michael's sermon. Priceless.


Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Busy Day

Busy day yesterday with a visit to Airedale hospital to see how my broken wrist is progressing.   It was X rayed, as was my broken and repaired neck so that Airedale had it on file.   The surgeon was good enough to let me have a look at the neck repair X ray and mighty complicated and impressive it looks.   He declared it to be a very good job in his opinion.   Also, the wrist fracture was quite complicated.   I impressed myself by walking miles (it felt like) along Airedale's corridors.

I asked the radiographer if there was any mechanism for getting copies of the neck pictures.   After all, Lorna had sweet-talked Preston Royal into unofficial pictures of the original break and comparison would be interesting.   Might even make a good Christmas Card even (joke).

To my surprise, the answer was yes - you can purchase a CD of your X rays for £10.   The advice however was to wait until June, when they would be free of charge because of the new much publicised Data Protection rules.   My neck - my data etc.

On our return we had lunch in the sunshine on the roof.

Meanwhile the steam train season is in full spring swing.   Here is a pretty picture of yesterday's steamer, taken in Dentdale by Anthony Ward.   I saw it whoosh past the tower later on.

probably breaks every rule in the photographic book but I like it young Anthony.   The 'steam' from the locomotive looks as though it is made of the same stuff as the clouds.   And it is.




Monday, 14 May 2018

Soaking up the Views

Michael Portillo has seen some sights in his time but even he, on taking the lift to our top floor for the first time and seeing this could only manage a meaningful 'Wow!'


This picture by nephew David Kay certainly captures that wow factor.   Just for comparison, below is from a bit further south and shows one of the magnificent new 'SETTLE' running-in boards.   Also, the repainted information board with the Northern corporate blue overpainted with LMS maroon:

Along with the heritage gas lamps, don't they just look the business?    All done with Northern's knowledge and encouragement by FoSCL's skilled volunteers.

An alternative view is the one in the bedroom.



This old git is pretending to be me, broken left arm, swollen neck and sun hat.   Add in a bit of lucky-to-be-alive and scenery to live for and you just about have the picture.

The family have been here over the weekend and we were all thrilled to have our grandstand view of The Fellsman  (Carlisle to London Euston) flying south through Settle hauled by a new one to us, British India Line.   Here she is passing Staricks Farm, between Hellifield and Carnforth via Settle Junction a little later:


British India Line was one of a magnificent class of Southern Region locomotives, know when first built as Spam Cans because of their streamlines casings.  Here's one hauling The Golden Arrow:


With or without the streamlining, magnificent - and part of my post-war childhood.


Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Well on the Mend

Just a month since my near fatal accident.   I am either dead and this is just a dream, or I am alive, well, counting my blessings and recovering remarkably well thanks to  lots of amazing NHS people, family and friends.

When I suffered my fall I was on the cusp of one of my already overdue visits to the barbers in Settle.   That was delayed by a month and my hair was becoming spectacularly long, where it had not been shaved off for stitching of wounds  and for incisions for the neck operation.   Settle has the benefit of a good old-fashioned gents barbers shop run by business partners Duncan and Ian.



  Like everything else in Settle it is just walking distance away from home.   Yesterday Duncan made a home visit for that long overdue haircut:


Settle being the place it is he had heard of my brush with eternity and he is well used to sorting out the hairy aftermaths of skull injuries.   The facial bruising has disappeared and the resulting haircut, though shourter than normal, is designed to ensure that when I make gradual re-appearances in Settle in a couple of weeks will look like business-as-usual, hairwise.

I am hitting milestones by the day.   Today I washed, shaved and dressed myself and walked unaided* from bed to office.  * I still carry my NHS stick though but can definitely envisage being rid of it very soon.

Yesterday I was visited by local (Airedale) NHS physio and occupational therapists, which felt like a seamless hand over of those two vital disciplines from Preston Royal to Airedale.   Pat was also able to hand me over to Airedale's orthopaedic consultant Mr Thomas from Preston's Mr Howell, an arrangement agreed before I was discharged from Preston.

Another of yesterday's very welcome visitors was one of FoSCL's Clerical Tendency, Rev Canon John Bearpark.

Monday, 7 May 2018

Restoration Man

We are often asked if we are still in touch with Restoration Man, six years on from the making of the two programmes about the tower.   The answer is a definite Yes.   There's Facebook and Twitter of course and we still get a steady stream of visitors who have seen the programmes worldwide.

And then there is this Blog, which is followed by some of the production team, not least the programmes's producer Melissa Mayne.

My discharge from hospital happened to coincide with a re-showing on Channel 4 of a compilation series of programmes including The Best Of RM, in which we feature.   George Clarke is kind enough to call our project one of his favourites.

Even so, imagine our tearful surprise when a lovely great bunch of flowers arrived here that same day from Melissa and the Restoration Man team wishing me a speedy recovery.



Not only that, we became grandparents of a teenager this week.   Meet James Mark Gavin - aged 13.0, during a hospital visit.   Manchester City supporter too.

Friday, 4 May 2018

Resumption of Normal-ish Service


click to enlarge this horrifying CT scan image of my C2 vertebra

THANK YOU to so many who have been so kind and helpful in so many ways over the past 3 weeks.   It has been a revelation how fast news spreads along the Leeds- Carlisle railway, the police, Rotary, yesteryear TV and family of curse (that curse should have been course, of course).

Long story short I fell downstairs on the staircase in our annex on 10th April resulting in two fractures of the spine, # left wrist Radius & ulna.   Two ambulance crews from Settle responded, the first of which, mercifully suspected a broken neck, immobilised it and called for assistance.   Good thing too as it required some heavy furniture shifting to get me out apparently.   Then off to the ROYAL PRESTON HOSPITAL, the  north west’s neuro and spinal unit from which I was sent home yesterday.

  Have had some  bad yet good luck recently - cancer, op, chemo, hernia, op, blocked small intestine, op - now this!

The neck # was within 1mm of being fatal or paralysing.   It was the vertebra C2 - the axis or hangman’s vertebra, now rebuilt and fused with C1, C3 & C4.   No spinal cord nor brain damage apparently but quite a few weeks recovery in prospect.   Communication by e-mail etc just for now.

In 30 years police service I had very little time off sick but have been compensating somewhat of late!   I apologise.   Full marks to the NHS.


This was the dent in the wall where my head struck after 1/2 pint of blood and hair had been cleaned up by superb neighbours Les and Val Barlow while I
was being blue lighted and hee-hawed to hospital in Preston.   134 stitches and a blood transfusion saw to that.


Tuesday, 10 April 2018

God Bless Our 'Future-proofed' Home

It is now five or six years since we moved in to the water tower.   We spent a small fortune on the very latest things to make sure the place was 'future proofed', particularly on the electrical side.

Well, 'the future' is now here.   I have an iPhone, an Alexa, Smart TVs, Wi-Fi, Blue Tooth and a Blog.

The Smart TVs (Samsungs mainly) break down often.   Meanwhile when they are working the pictures pixellate when the wind blows.

Our rainwater harvesting system was a disaster from the off.   Loyal Blog followers will know that I scrapped the Kingspan Envireau controls completely in favour of a pressure valve and a float switch. It now works.

As for the internet, don't even ask.   Cat 5 ethernet cables (with me?) run all over the place, ending at fiddly, fragile and f***** expensive sockets in most rooms.   They tend not to work either.   No matter though, so many of todays gizmos don't want ethernet - they live on Wi-Fi, 4G and such.

Oh yes Wi, short for wireless.   Fine when that works and Dr Apple hasn't cynically slowed down the devices to make buy new ones.  Fine when fitted but all the remote bell pushes and detectors need batteries which fail.   Not good when the smoke alarms need scaffolding for access.

Meanwhile I have two sheds full of cast aside electronic gadgets, all bought with the best of intentions to future proof my life.   Here a four plug-ins that are meant to give me boosted Wi-Fi everywhere.   They don't.   They confuse the Smart TVs:



I also have four or so wireless routers - two came with the house's future proofing:



Another bristles with more antennae than Emley Moor TV mast and wires go everywhere:


LED light bulbs fail more often than their incandescent predecessors.

Our lift (the ultimate piece of future proofing) needs more engineer call-outs and service visits than does the 1914 Ford Model T in the garage.

Much of this nonsense is sold as energy (and therefore money) saving.   Tosh.

We are about to build an extension to our home - out of sight, round the back you'll be glad to hear.   Still at the design and planning stage.   One thing is for certain though.   It will be simple.   It will use tried and tested things like windows that open, minimal electric wiring, straightforward heating with radiators, none of those silly hole-in-the ceiling lights.   It will  be as near Passivhaus (energy efficient) as we can achieve.   Future Proofing?   We've tried that, got the T shirt and we don't like it.

There is (or was) a bit of management-speak back in the day.   It was KISS - Keep It Simple, Stupid.