Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Drowning fly fisherman rescued by pretty doctors!

If you have read the previous post you will know I was in Croydon University Hospital with 3 to 4 litres of fluid in the lining around my right lung. 

My friendly doctor showed up and said I could have lunch as they were going to do my plumbing job after lunch. So I adopted the patient patient approach and lay quietly observing other people's visitors. Around 3 pm two angels arrived in the form of two young, pretty lady doctors. I was in heaven until they mentioned that they were going to stick a tube into my back to get at the fluid surrounding my lung!

Dr C said she had done the procedure about 50 times and that she was going to supervise her colleague Dr A who was doing it for the first time! Bless them for being honest! What really surprised me was that they were going to do it in the ward with me sitting on the bed leaning forward onto my lunch table! I had expected the theatre with a full surgical team in attendance. I need not have worried, they were kind, gentle and very professional and friendly. The whole process hardly hurt thanks to the local anaesthetic and when the valve was open whoosh a yellow liquid came gushing out and in just over a minute a litre was sitting in the can and they had to shut the valve. If too much comes out too quickly it is bad because it is very painful. In the afternoon all the big guns were doing the rounds and they reviewed me and I was connected to an empty can and the valve opened. Nothing much happened so they moved away to discuss another patient. Suddenly I felt sharp pains in my chest and looking down I saw the can was nearly full. I called help and they took note and shut the valve. I was told to drink water which I did, but it was still very painful for several hours. Having filled the second can a third was attached and filled slowly. 

I could not believe how much extra weight I had been carrying around, no wonder I leaned to the right!

The team of Doctors and Consultants are very impressive and although very busy they took time to explain things and to answer questions.

 For some reason only known to the High Priests of computing no matter what I did with this picture I could not get it to rotate!  So this is just over a litre and 2 more bottles followed this!

Your Friendly Fly Fisherman Slowly Drowning?

From where I am right now I am counting my blessings! It is five in the morning and I am lying in bed in a six bed ward at Croydon University Hospital. So how did the old fool end up there I hear you ask? Well it could be a long story but because I am sure you have better things to do than listen to me I will give you the economical version.
After several weeks nursing a pain at the bottom of my right lung I decided to visit my GP. Dr Jaitly put me on antibiotics and sent me for a chest X-ray to a local clinic. The lovely girlie who took pictures of my chest told me to see my doc the next day so I did. The doc gave me a copy of the report and talked me through it, basically it said I had fluid at the bottom of my right lung. So my doc referred me for a CT scan which I had on the Thursday before the Easter weekend. By this time I knew I had a problem as I was always struggling for breath and in a lot of discomfort especially at night. On the Tuesday after Easter the hospital called and suggested I come and see Dr Siva next day. Accompanied by my eternal companion, Rosalind I arrived at the chest department early and I was immediately weighed and given another X-ray. Shortly after we met with Dr Siva a lovely man who said that the X-ray showed that my lung was two thirds full of fluid, between 3 and 4 litres! He laughed when I said I would try to give up drinking. He said they needed to drain that off and try to determine where it was coming from. He explained that as they could only drain around one litre at a time they would admit me, fit a drain cock (my term) and drain the fluid off over a few days. He asked if I was prepared to stay at the hospital if he could find a bed, I agreed and was sent off for blood tests. When I saw the dozens and dozens of people waiting to give blood samples I thought "we will be here till Christmas" so we took a numbered ticket and sat down to wait. Joking with the other folk waiting helped pass the time and 40 minutes later I walked out minus several tubes of the bright red stuff.

We then went to a waiting area whilst they looked for a bed for me. Rosalind went and got us some food and we settled in for the long haul. A couple of lovely lady doctors came and spoke to us and one of them was brave enough to ask for my whole life history! After a reasonably pleasant four hour wait I was given a bed in a mini ward with 5 other elderly gents. The staff were friendly and kind but it was pretty busy. 
The first bit of drama was when an elderly gent opposite needed cleaning up. The privacy curtain could not be pulled round his bed because apparently that morning another patient had gone a bit loopy and pulled the curtain rail down breaking the bracket where it was fixed to the wall. I was told maintenance had been called, attended, had a look and then found something more exciting to do. Being a practical person and tall to boot, I adopted the roll of curtain rail prop for 20 minutes so that matters could progress and modesty be preserved. 

My reward was a fish and chip evening meal which was very much appreciated. A doctor then introduced himself and explained that they would do the plumbing procedure in the morning. I passed the time getting to know Richard the bus and lorry driver on my right and Gerald, from Ireland on my left and watching the staff as they busied themselves taking care of us. I spent a lot of time looking and learning the ropes and other hospital survival techniques.

Night time came and it was still pretty busy with one chap trying to climb over the barrier on the side of his bed. The nurses were very kind and patient and whilst I did not sleep much I did rest and play with the settings on the bed till I got comfortable. I was very impressed with the daughter of one of the patients, she slept in a chair next to his bed all night caring for his every need. Bless her!

Breakfast was good, even the toast was hot!

John who lies opposite me has several very bad coughing bouts, sadly one occurred when he was on his feet and caused him to black out. There was an almighty crash and John hit the corner of the table and then the floor. Shouts of help! brought half the staff in the hospital running and John had his cut head and black eye treated.

Eventually things calmed down and accident reports were written. By this time you will be bored so I will save the rest for another post.

Thursday, 26 February 2015


In days of yore in order to prove yourself you were challenged to slay a dragon, rescue a maiden from a castle tower or undergo some dangerous initiation ceremony like running through fire blindfolded!  These days the challenges are equally taxing but they take a different form.  So when my daughter threw down the gauntlet with the dreaded IKEA CHALLENGE I felt I had to rise to the occasion to prove myself.  Her particular challenge was to assemble an IKEA sofa bed aided only by the infamous IKEA cartoon picture book.  (I am convinced that IKEA's target market is people who cannot read!)

So I called on reinforcements in the form of my wife Rosalind as she is good at Suduko and crosswords and would have helped the war effort at Bletchley Park had she been born earlier.

Confronted with three large cardboard boxes with no indication of which to open first, where the instructions were and whether there should have been four boxes, we drew swords and commenced battle. Eventually we had opened everything and completely blocked the hallway, and our only means of escape with acres of cardboard. 

Finally we discovered the instructions hidden inside the blanket box item and managed to work out that there were two set of instructions and which you used depended on whether you were going for the right handed or left handed configuration. It was a relief to know you only had to work your way through 10 pages and not all 20.  

There is no point in having someone help you unless you put them to work, so I assigned Rosalind the complicated task of fitting the loose fabric to the appropriate blanket box side using the Velcro provided.  This she achieved perfectly on the second attempt.

I undertook the more challenging engineering tasks such as trying to make sense of the diagrams and screwing components together using the tool named after me (they spell it wrong).  I then entrusted Rosalind to screw the feet on, something she did with poise.
 Things were starting to take shape big time and we even managed to work out how the "goes under" goes under!

 As there were health and safety issues at stake I bravely checked out the integrity of the assembly by lowering my full body weight on it.  There is no truth in the rumor that I actually dozed off.
 Rosalind then decided that she ought to read the instructions to make sure we had done it right.
 Rachel having arrived home from work, announced that she ought to check it out from a horizontal position and fortunately gave it ten out of ten!

So survived the IKEA challenge and in the future I hope to sleep well on the bed after a day's fishing on the chalk streams.

Monday, 23 February 2015


We had planned to fish on Monday so when the weather man said 5 degrees C, strong winds and the risk of showers we did hesitate!  But then you can wrap up, don fancy head gear, break out the finger-less mitts and wear two pairs of thick socks and if all else fails skin is waterproof!
In the end we had wind and sun, cloud and a 10 minute snow shower but we survived and we even caught.
Malcolm was the first to catch but Richard (pictured above and below) had only been fishing the Wood Lodge Pool for 15 minutes when he caught on a blood worm with long rubber legs. 

 Later we moved down to Mill House Lake and found some fish deep by the monk.  I caught on a gold head daddy with rubber legs.

 The monk (seen below) is the name given to the outflow structure one side of which features a series of wooden slats.  The level of the lake is controlled by the height of the slats.  When the lake is to be drained the slats are removed and the water flows into the structure and down a pipe at the bottom.  The monk is always at the deep end of the lake, where fish may hang out in very cold or very warm weather. 
 Malcolm (below), well wrapped up, survived the snow shower but missed his fingerless mitts.

So we all came away with a brace each.  The fish were all 2lb plus and one was a 3, all in perfect fighting condition.

I noticed on the Albury web site that there was an aerial video of the lakes we had been fishing. You can see it at

Monday, 9 February 2015

Fencing Fun With Recycled Pallets

I had mentioned that one of the things keeping me from fishing and posting was my fencing project.  I thought it might be helpful if I shared some of the techniques I used and the how I had been able to recycle old pallets into pretty neat picket fencing.

Now in my back garden (called a back yard by my American friends) the fence on one side is my responsibility (as detailed on the house deeds). The fence is about 120 feet long.  The existing fence is a low one not the usual 6 feet solid type.  This we like because it means that we can enjoy our neighbor's flowers and shrubs and they can enjoy ours. However, bear in mind that the following photos were taken in January so don't expect to see flowers. The picture below shows the new fencing bordering the top part of the garden where I have put purchased trellis work between posts.  Along the base of the trellis I had set paving slabs on their edge in concrete. Once everything has grown this fencing tends to be hidden by the plants.  So there was nothing clever about that fence.

Down at the bottom part of the garden the fence borders my vegetable plot and historically it was pretty basic plastic fencing as the next photo shows.
It was whilst looking at a fencing suppliers website that I noticed an advert on the page mentioning recycling pallets as fencing.  That sounded interesting so I gave it a click and watched a video of an American chap cutting up pallets and turning them into fencing.  So I decided to give it a go.  Now previously I had tried to take pallets apart and I knew that, because they were manufactured using ridged nails fired in with a nail gun, you could destroy the wood trying to take them apart.  However, there was a section of fencing (behind my compost bins) where some of the pallets could be used complete if they were just cut to the right length. 

In the picture below you can see cutting the pointed fence tops with my pull saw. Incidentally, I had never seen a pull saw until my son Dan had one and gave it to me when he moved to the States. It is my favourite saw as it always cuts easy and clean.
This section of fencing is substantial because it is made of whole pallets but it is attractive. To finish it off I had to fit narrow battens between the wide verticals. Then before putting them into position I painted the wood with a preservative (I want this fencing to see me out)! I also had to fit two extra posts in concrete between the pallets. I will elaborate on how I did that later.
My remaining pallets were less substantial so I decided to dismantle them completely to get the timber for the picket fence verticals.  The way I did this without doing any serious damage to the wood is as follows:-
  1. Stand the pallet upright on concrete and using a bolster (a wide chisel for cutting masonry) and a hammer open up a crack between the two pieces of wood.  Then insert a hacksaw blade and cut through the nails. 
  2. If the nails are of softer material sometimes you can cut through them by just repeatedly hitting the bolster.
  3. Because the bolster has a wide blade you reduce the risk of breaking or splitting the wood.
  4. It is not a quick process but practice speeds thing up.
  5. Make sure you wear thick gloves to protect your hands (especially the one holding the bolster) and don't leave any nails sticking out.
The bolster is in the middle.

I decided to buy arris rails (long horizontal triangular sections of treated timber) to fix the ex-pallet verticals to, as that would be neater than using the heavier sections from the pallets and I also decided to use the metal arris rail brackets.  All the fixing I did with screws as I did not want to damage the wood or loosen the fence supports by hammering.  Cordless drills are so adept at drilling pilot holes and powering in screws that they speed up the process.

The end product looked pretty neat and I followed the UK tradition of having the best side facing my neighbour's property as the picture below shows.

My side looked pretty good too!
The little gate in the middle is so I can get my lawn mower in her garden to cut her grass.  Dark brown wood preserver finished it off nicely.

So now for the long awaited mention of the new supporting posts.  Where I needed additional supports (because of the length of the span between existing supports) I used those pictured below.

My dodge was to drive them into the ground and carefully line them up, then to dig around them to enable me to give them a concrete collar as part of laying the base slabs.  This made them a lot more stable.

My final dodge was for mixing the concrete mix without making a lot of mess.  I learnt this from Brian my daughter's neighbour when we were replacing her garden fence.  You mix the ballast (small stones and sand) with the cement in a wheel barrow, having first lined the barrow with some heavy duty plastic.  I used part of an old shower curtain.  Then you do the mixing, not with a spade or trowel, but just by lifting first one side of the plastic and then the other side, alternately. This way you mix the contents just like a cement mixer would.  As my ballast was pretty damp I didn't add any water which made it a lot easier to handle the mix and put it where I wanted it.  After a couple of days the end product was rock solid.

I enjoyed building the fence and keep walking down the garden to view my efforts.  I hope this might prove useful to you.

Monday, 26 January 2015

I had the whole of Bewl Water all to myself fly fishing.

I finished all I could do on my garden fencing project around noon so I decided to treat myself to a bit of piscatorial R & R! None of my pals could make it so was free to choose between Albury or Bewl.  I was pretty sure to catch at Albury but Bewl won because it would be more challenging and a bit cheaper. When I arrived the weather was good, overcast but dry, south westerly breeze and air temperature around 10 C.  Vince Brook, one of the fishery staff kindly stopped for a chat and suggested Bramble Point?  So off I set on  the ten minute walk and arrived to find the water crystal clear with a nice ripple.  Resisting the temptation to wade I kept well back and started casting with a single black woolly bugger gold head fly presented using a 7 weight forward floating line with a twelve foot leader.  On my third cast I was rewarded with a lovely pull that signalled good fish on!  It had hit the fly round two rod lengths off of the rod tip so it was in quite close and I would probably have spooked it if I had been in the water.

Later I did go into the water as there was no more action from the shore, I also tried an intermediate line with the woolly bugger, then a cats whisker and finally a blue flash damsel. I fished for 2 hours, only had the one fish but I loved every minute of it! The sky, the breeze and the water lapping at my waders told me I was very lucky to be there, still able to cast a line and still able to land a fish, the first of 2015.  And to top it all I had the whole of Bewl Water all to myself!
I am pleased to see that I can still pull them out!

Vince had warned me that they lock the exit gates at 4pm this time of year which is why I only fished for 2 hours.  However, as I was leaving Rob Barden told me that if you park down by the Outdoor Centre you can exit from there whenever you like.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Fly Fisherman gets distracted helping job seekers!

I am feeling guilty for not having posted recently, especially to those of you who follow my posts and who have driven the views to over 29,000. Two years ago when I started I was amazed when I registered 100 views.  Well it is true that I was distracted a bit by Christmas and I have been replacing some fencing in the garden, but the main reason is my new (honorary, that means I do it for free) assignment in the church which involves helping people (church members and non members) find work, improve their employment or decide what career path to follow.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has an excellent web site for job and career seekers.  The rather long name of the church is often abbreviated to LDS so the web site is called ldsjobs. So if you are interested and would like to take a look here is what to do:-

1      Use your internet browser to find

If    If you are a member of the LDS Church and registered on the church's web system press “Sign In” in the top right hand corner or register.  If you are not a member go straight to the Complete Your Profile box and click on it. You will be able to register as a Friend.  When you have completed the above you will be able to explore the site and take advantage of its resources. There is information and helpful advice for job seekers, students and those wanting to be self employed. The section on writing CVs lists four different types of CV and discusses their various merits.

Networking is a fancy term that just means you tell everyone you know (well, nearly everyone, maybe not your current boss and work colleagues) that you are looking for a job as a “such and such” and do they know of any openings or (and this is equally important) do they know of anyone else who might know of job openings!  Doing this you can build a large “network” of people looking for you.  However, it is no good just asking them once.  You have to gently remind them on a regular basis that you are still looking.  Go to click on Article Index and then click on Successful Networking.

When you get the chance of an interview you must not spoil it by being poorly prepared.  Feel free to ask a friend for a “practice interview”, it can give you a realistic experience which can improve your performance at a real interview.  Running practice interviews is one of my roles in the church's programme. For further information and certainly prior to a mock or real interview go to click on Article Index and then click on Interviewing and read the articles.

On the employment web site you can find where the church has Employment Centres.  My wife Rosalind and I help out at the centre in the Hyde Park Chapel, Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London on Tuesdays.

If you know of employment opportunities please let us know?