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THE WYENOT BLOG
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27th April 2011 - Update

Getting Out
Although a lot took place over the Easter weekend, I was only able to attend one event for a short while due to my state of health, which has been very poor this week. I went to see 'The Deadbeats' perform at the Sausage and Cider Festival which took place at The Hostelrie in Goodrich. My doctor, Paul Downey, plays bass for 'The Deadbeats'
and it was nice to chat to him about music and the band, rather than the more frequent cancer conversations we have. I very much enjoyed what I saw of the event and am only sorry that I did not feel well enough to stay longer. Tina has included some photos of the event on the news page.

May Day on May Hill
As I mentioned previously, there is no way that I will be able to make this year's May Day Sunrise Festival, however, weather permitting, my daughter, Sarah and her mum, Bernice have said that they will go, take my camera and film the event for me. If they are successful, I will edit together some scenes for next week.

Matt makes time lapse from the Webcams Possible
During times when the river rises, snow falls etcetera, I thought it might be good to make an archive of time lapse scenes shot from the webcams at Wilton and Symonds Yat East. Obviously sitting at the computer and taking a screen shot every minute for long periods would not be possible and so I asked my son, Matthew if he could help by designing some software to do this automatically. To my amazement, he came to see me the following day having designed the perfect computer program for the job from scratch, which I tested on Thursday and Friday. The short film below shows Thursday morning and most of Good Friday in time lapse. Thanks for your help, Matt!

This Week
Again, health wise, I have not been at my best ever this past week. If I have no other muscles left, the stomach muscle which throws up vomit must be on a par with Mr. Universe. My sick pack. 'No pain, no gain' they say in gymnasiums and other much avoided (by me) places. I am still hoping to get out and cover some of the Royal wedding events though, at least briefly.

I hope you all enjoy the Nation's celebrations.

Alan xxx


20th April 2011 - Update

Progress
I will make this a very short blog this week. I now have some steroids, which are helping me to put a little weight back on and stop me being quite so sick. They have been very helpful, in combination with other anti-sickness drugs, and I have felt mostly well this week. However Sod's Law has made today a bad day for me and I don't feel up to writing, having been sick twice. Hopefully things will improve for the coming holiday weeks when there will be much to cover by way of local events.

I have enjoyed the early mornings this week, getting out into the garden at 6.00am every day and filming the water buttercups opening up to the sun on my natural garden pond. It is very peaceful being out at that time of the morning and I will include some of the sequence in my next film.

Webcam Page Change
Regular viewers of the webcams may notice that I have rearranged the layout of the webcam page, locating the live pictures closer to the top of the page. This is for the benefit of those watching on 'netbook' and other mobile computers with small screens and is so that the picture stays in view on such devices when the webcam picture updates. I hope the change is found useful. It works here.

You Live and Learn
With Easter and the Royal Wedding coming up, lots of events will be taking place over the next week and I am hoping to feel well enough to get to some of them. Hope to see you there. I met Kate Middleton at the White Lion last year (may have been the year before) but did not know who she was. I went to collect Tina from work and wanted to get home to bed, so I asked this 'young lady' to hurry her drink so we could get home. 'You do know that was Kate Middleton, don't you?' I was asked. At the time, I did not even know who Kate Middleton was but this was explained and I ended up having quite a laugh with Kate and her drinking party, who were in the area for a friend's wedding. You live and learn!

Until next week...

Alan xxx


13th April 2011 - Six weeks to enjoy the sun

Six weeks to 'enjoy the sun'
I am afraid that my latest scan, like the first proved inconclusive due to excess fluid in my abdomen. The first scan in December, after which I was operated on and the cancer discovered, was actually better than the latest as the fluid has built up more since December. I am still remaining positive though, despite being constantly sick after eating and losing so much weight. I am hoping that some steroid type drugs might sort this out over the coming weeks. Following a sudden, unexpected 'baarff' on Sunday evening - unexpected as I had not eaten since lunchtime - at the moment I feel much better as this has relieved much of the fluid. For how long, I don't know but it has given me more confidence and more of an appetite today.

As a result of my visit to the oncologist, I have been given six weeks off from the chemotherapy, 'to enjoy the sun'. After this period, I will be given two more cycles before a third scan. At first that phrase, 'to enjoy the sun' worried me; almost as if it were a last chance, but as I gradually begin to feel better my confidence that I am a survivor is beginning to grow again. Whilst I have my appetite back, I shall build up my fresh cream cake intake, to try and put some weight back on. Life is not that bad.

This week's film
This week's film is again a bit of a mixture and covers several events. The opening scenes show the odd 'waves on the River Wye' phenomenon, which I filmed by hand having taken the scenic route back from my scan. The wind was howling up the valley, causing the river to apparently flow upstream. The wild daffodils which follow were filmed, again by hand in Dymock Woods. The wild flowers were again spectacular this year. These scenes are followed by a time lapse 'Nightfall at Yat Rock' sequence. I visited the Rock on Friday evening with my friend Mike Arnison and filmed the shadows moving over the valley and the sunset followed by the stars rising. The seconds long sequence was filmed over a period of five hours.

The sea and sunset scenes were shot using a mixture of hand held video and time lapse photography during the break Tina and I took last week. The opening scene is of Burnham-on-Sea and Tina and I watching the sunset was shot using both mounted camera time lapse photography and video on Berrow Beach. This is my personal favourite sequence.

The film finishes with some still photos, taken of the blossom in my garden, in Hereford, at the Herefordshire Neolithic long berrow, 'Arthur's Stone', Hay-on-Wye and Hay Bluff.

May Day
I visited Hay Bluff on Sunday with Bernice and my daughter, Sarah, who saw Hay Bluff close-up for the first time. She was almost dumbstruck on seeing the mountain. 'How did you climb that?' She asked, remembering the film I shot from the top two years ago. With Hay Bluff's grassy sides, the film belies the true height of the ridge and how steep it is. Seeing it live is something else entirely. In those days though I was relatively fit. It was hard work with the camera gear but I got there.

This saddens me somewhat because I have gone from being relatively fit to almost totally disabled, needing help even just to get dressed within four months. There is no way on Earth I could do it again now and this makes me think ahead a few weeks. For the past years I have filmed the May Day sunrise festival on May Hill. This is one of the events I enjoy most out of everything we cover. Sadly though, short of a miracle happening, I very much doubt that I will be able to climb the hill before dawn this year, despite offers from people to carry the cameras. There is just no way I can make the climb and it is an impossible route for my electric wheelchair. If you happen to be going along with a camera, I would really appreciate some photos being sent in. The sun rises at 5.20 am here on May Day, so you would need to be at the summit for about 5.00 am.

Updates
My apologies to some for being very slow with their updates for Wyenot. We have a few waiting to have advertising pages built but with life the way it is, Tina still working (albeit less hours) and looking after me, we are somewhat behind and struggling to find time for general working on Wyenot lately. We will get there in the end but life is taking priority over work at the moment. I have managed one update this week, making a new page for tourism on our 'Places to Visit' section. It covers the Village of Brockhampton and All saints Church. I hope visitors find it useful.

Until next week, enjoy the nice weather and I will be back with more film as soon as possible.

Alan xxx


6th April 2011 - Getting Away

Thank You
Thank you for all of the feedback I received following last week's short film. A lot of people seemed to like that one for some reason and many emailed me to say so. Oh and I also received one very rude email sent just to point out that I had called it Dymock rather than Kempley Medieval Church in the blog. Sorry about that - slip of the pen, as it were. I don't know the person who wrote but would hazard a guess that it was Christian who attends the church every Sunday hoping for a guaranteed pass into Heaven.

Whilst on the subject of Dymock. Before our friends Steve and Fi left earlier in the week, I took them to Dymock Woods, where the daffodils are truly wild. They are that wild that I certainly wouldn't want to argue with one. They are truly a spectacular sight, well worth visiting before the season ends.

I did film some scenes but since returning from our break by the sea, I have not had time to edit a film for this week. On Thursday, I went to Hereford for my scan and on the way back, drove home via the scenic route. I don't know if you remember but Thursday was an extremely windy day and I just had to stop and film the Wye. As the wind whistled up the valley, it caused the river to break out into surf and appear to flow in the upstream direction. I shall show this in the next film edit too.

The Sea
Tina and I took our break by the sea between Friday and Monday and I found this amazingly therapeutic. To be honest, had I not needed to be back to have blood taken on Tuesday, we would have stayed on. I was only sick once during the three days and on Saturday, I had a hungry day and managed to put back some of the weight I have lost over recent weeks. My family came to visit us on Saturday and we had a great day. I did not use the camera much but I did film what has become the obligatory sunset over the sea film on Saturday evening. I did this from Berrow Beach. Scene from the film below.

Results
Tomorrow (Wednesday) I am going to Hereford to hear the result of my CT scan. I need this urgently so that I can get a proper plan to lessen the dreadful sickness I have been suffering of late. The future of my chemotherapy also depends upon the result. I hope it is working and that the cancer is heading for remission for a while. Believe it or not, I feel it is, despite the sickness. I don't think I would be here now had I not taken the treatment. Hopefully the day will include a continuation of treatment plus a better control of the sickness.

Visitor Statistics March
As expected, the readers and viewers of Wyenot are beginning to pick up again for the tourist season with over 1.5 million hits during the month and an average of nearly 6,000 pages viewed per day. These figures should further pick up during the coming months. The, 'is that Ross Tourist Information?' phone calls certainly have. It could have been, had they not laughed at me when I showed them 'Wyenot.com' in December 2000. The statistics are published below the photos.

Thank you also to the Ross Gazette for publishing the story of my stolen boat. I only managed to see a copy today. There is no news of the boat yet but the good news is that it was insured, so I shall be replacing it before I am well enough to use it again.

Hopefully I will be back next week....

Alan xxx


The wild daffodils in Dymock Wood.

The wild daffodils in Dymock Wood.

The wild daffodils in Dymock Wood.

Sunset on Berrow Beach - a scene from the time-lapse film.

Visitors to Wyenot during the month of March.

30th March 2011 - Beautiful Local Places

Health Update
The week has not been all I had hoped for from a health point of view. A week into my chemotherapy break, I still cannot keep a thing down and know that when I put it in my mouth, I have not seen the last of anything I eat. I have lost lots more weight as a result and this is why I have not filmed an introduction to this week's film. My fifth cycle of chemotherapy has been delayed for a week by the hospital. The reason being that I have a CT scan on Thursday morning and they want to see the result before deciding whether to continue. Hopefully all will be well and this will go ahead a week from now.

Beautiful Local Places
The week has not been a total write-off as, using my new found wheelchair freedom and light camera, I have been out and about, mostly with my daughter, Sarah but also with other family and friends to the places I love to visit during the springtime. I shot this latest film, 'Beautiful Local Places', in the Forest of Dean, at Brockhampton Church, Kempley Medieval Church during the wild daffodil season, Speech House Lake and from Foy Bridge. I hope you find it relaxing and enjoy watching as I did filming the scenes.

Thank You
Thank you very much to our old friends, Steve O'Kane and Fiona McBain who took time off from their musical careers this week and came to visit, bringing their tool kit and spent a lot of time doing DIY jobs around the house for us, including fitting some hand rails, kindly supplied by Linda Schofield, in the bathroom to enable me to climb in and out of the shower alone. So many people making my life that bit easier!

Next Week
Next week's updates will probably be minimal and possibly late by a day. The reason is that Tina and I are going to take advantage of my extra time off from treatment and go away for a few nights. I love the sea and we are going to spend a few days by the sea in a caravan at Brean and Burnham on Sea. I am hoping that the sea air and escape from reality for a few days will help me to feel better. We will both enjoy the break, whatever the weather.

Sorry this blog is very short but I hope you enjoy the film and I will be back next week, albeit possibly late.

Alan xxx


23rd March 2011 - New Found Freedom

New found freedom
Last week I mentioned that I had bought an electric wheelchair. This week I have been out every day. With my ability to walk now virtually non existent, the new chair has given me back my independence, allowing me to cover much more distance. This week, I have been to Gloucester twice, to Hereford and have even tried it out in the country.

My friend Alison came to visit again at the weekend and I managed to get to the top of Garway Hill in the chair, without a problem other than the bitterly cold wind and on Sunday, we visited Soudley Ponds in the Forest of Dean. Unfortunately, I became very sick there, testing the fluid resistant qualities of the Olympus Pen camera to its absolute limit as it happened to be hanging around my neck at the time. The rest of Sunday was a write-off for me but I fully recovered by the following day and have felt well ever since. I am certain that this new feeling of well-being is down to the fact that I can get out and about again. The good news is that the camera passed the test and still works fine.

'Week in Moving Pictures'
Although I have shot some rather nice film of waterfalls and streams in the forest, I am going to hang on to make an update until next week. Tina is at the John Kyrle Spring Concert with my camera as I type and I am hoping to include some scenes from that in the next film. I don't really have enough material until that event has taken place, and of course, more things will be covered during the coming few days. My week off from chemotherapy begins tomorrow (Wednesday) so I will hopefully feel more up to going out filming.

Observation
Since going out in my chair, something has become very noticeable. I know that Ross is a reasonably 'disabled' friendly town but of the places I have been - the towns of Hereford, Gloucester and Ross, Garway Hill and the Forest of Dean, Ross is by far the most difficult to get about. Being in this position myself has truly highlit how bad the pavements are - especially Brampton Street. The twice I have negotiated Brampton Street have both been a positively frightening experience. There always seems to be a Jeep parked either across or directly next to the one drop kerb available for crossing the road, making it dangerous to cross and once across, the potholed pavement slopes dangerously towards the road, making it almost impossible to negotiate without ending up in the road.

Half Way
By the time you read this I will have reached the half way point with my chemotherapy and have my first scan coming up at the end of the month. Hopefully this will bring good news. I certainly feel positive. With the better weather hopefully coming soon, I hope to be out and about more taking photos and making films for Wyenot. The cancer will not go away forever but I am hoping to at least make it through this summer and, even more positively, next summer as well.

Here's to feeling positive! Back next week...

Alan xxx


By Black Pool on Garway Hill Saturday. There is still some ice on the pool.

16th March 2011 - The Wye Valley and Japan

The Wye Valley
The latter part of last week, into Sunday morning found me feeling very ill indeed but after being up since 2.00am on Sunday morning, talking to God on the big white telephone, Sarah and Bernice took me for a drive in the sun. We travelled the Wye Valley route to Tintern Abbey and then visited St. Anne's Well in Trellech (included in my Wye Valley film of two weeks ago). I had quite forgotten how beautiful that stretch of the Wye Valley is and spent the time taking photographs with my new light weight camera. I have included some of these below and hope that you enjoy them.

My friend Alison is coming to visit again this weekend, so I am looking forward to getting out and about again and hopefully the weather will be as nice as last time. It feels good now that the temperature is rising and this has stopped the chemotherapy causing me numbness.

A Life Saver
Having enjoyed getting out and about so much, I realized just how much my lack of mobility has been dragging me down and decided that it was time to do something about it. On Monday, I went to Ross Mobility Shop and bought an electric wheelchair plus ramps, so that I can get it in and out of the van by myself. I have only had it two days but already, I feel this is going to be a life saver. Getting out on it has kept my body functioning so that I have stopped being sick and has given me a new found freedom. I can get out and about with my camera again without having to wait for somebody to come with me and help. Rather than sit at home in what had become something of a God's Waiting Room, watching the same old stuff on TV, I plan on getting out on the forest paths and making more films as a result.

Tokyo
I was very worried when news of the Japanese earthquake and Tsunamis greeted my morning television viewing during the week as my lifelong friend, Glynn Brasington, whom came to visit me a month ago lives in Tokyo and his wife, Kim had just returned to the country from New Zealand. I am however pleased to report that both are safe and well. I managed to speak to them both on the morning of the quake using Skype. Glynn was at work when the quake happened and Kim was at home in their apartment. As we spoke, on the video call I could see their house shaking with the aftershocks. Their two televisions smashed, so it was difficult for them to see the news. The latest news is that, due to the nuclear health hazard now looming, they have left the country and are now in Singapore, where they will be staying for at least a week. A natural disaster like this, which wiped out thousands of lives in an instant certainly put my own problems into perspective.

Hoping to be back next week with more photos. Have a good week...

Alan xxx


The village of Tintern.

I want to own this boat.

The moon through the window of Tintern Abbey.

Tintern Abbey.

Bernice and I on Sunday.

Sunset in Ross - taken from my new wheelchair.

10th March 2011 - An eventful week

An eventful week
I can say for certain that this has been an eventful week. Last Wednesday morning I had to call and delay my chemotherapy for a week due to sickness. I thought during the extra week off that I would recover but this did not turn out to be the case until the very last day of my unscheduled break. I was extremely sick and thought the end was nigh. On the last day however, I had a home visit from the Macmillan nurse, who organized some new drugs to control what was going on. This included upgrading my paracetamol pain killers to morphine. I do not intend to take morphine on a regular basis as it has its own side effects and I hate taking drugs but last night (Tuesday) I took some before bed and had the best night's sleep I have had in months - a full seven hours. Today's chemo went well and I am back in the realms of feeling positive once more. I now realize that it is highly unlikely that I will ever regain the strength to walk properly again but I can still get out and about in the van and with Tina's mobility scooter.

The Space Shuttle / ISS
I watched this mission intently from start to finish and filmed the two spacecraft several times as they orbited the earth overflying Ross. I have been keen on the space programme since the 1960s and went to California in 1981 to watch the very first Space Shuttle, 'Columbia' land. In 1982, with home built equipment I contacted radio amateur Tony England on board the space shuttle 'Challenger', receiving amateur slow scan television pictures from the spacecraft and this week, my photo was on board the very last flight of Space Shuttle 'Discovery' during its mission to complete the building of the International Space Station. This was not by way of a final ambition achieved. It was arranged last summer, before I knew that I was ill. I have always wanted to travel in space. Obviously I will never achieve that ambition but at least I made it in a small way as part of NASAs 'Face in Space' project, and flew aboard the last flight of the craft which has spent 365 days in space. It was quite exciting watching the two space vehicles flying overhead at over 17,400 miles per hour with my photo on board. Thank you to NASA for the virtual ride.

A Genuine, Honest Estate Agent
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Norman Bricknell of Morris Bricknell Estate Agents in Ross. Over the years, Norman has been very supportive of Wyenot and through this method of meeting, has come to be a very close friend over the years. Although I had been taught from a very early age that honest estate agents, bank managers and solicitors are as rare as hen's teeth, if ever there was an honest estate agent, it is Norman. Norman, and his solicitor brother, Mark have been helping me to finalize things for the inevitable by getting my affairs in order. Obviously I do not wish to go into too much detail but both brothers have been amazing, helping me out and making the most difficult and worrying part of being in my position easy. Thank you Norman and Mark, and thank you for the lovely scenic riverside drive we took on Friday Norman. I really enjoyed that day and look forward to boating on the Wye as soon as I am able.

The Ross Pancake Races
This is an event I had been fond of in the 1970s, but until its revival by members of ART last year, had fizzled out. I managed to get along for a short while to Tuesday's races and thoroughly enjoyed the time I was able to spend at the event. This time was unfortunately limited as I began to feel unwell and had to go home but it was good to be there, if only for an hour. It was great to see everybody again and thank you for making me feel very welcome.

Film
Due to circumstances, I am behind with editing together the material I have filmed for this 'Week in Moving Pictures' but I have filmed some events, including the Space Shutttle, river and the 2011 Pancake Races. I am hoping to edit that material together tomorrow (Thursday) and publish by the evening, so please call back to watch after tomorrow evening.

Thank you also for the large positive response to my Wye Valley film. I'm very pleased that you enjoyed watching and that so many people downloaded a copy.

Until next week...

Alan xxx


2nd March 2011 - A postponement and a film to download

Health
I am afraid that I did not recover sufficiently to get out and specifically film a 'Week in Moving Pictures' this week as promised. The last chemo-cycle has been dreadful, and even after a week off, I am still too weak to walk and feel very sick at times. I made the decision this morning to phone the Chemo Helpline at the Charles Renton Unit and delay my next treatment by a week, thus giving me two full weeks to recover before starting it again. They are going to give me some more powerful anti-sickness drugs, along with others to help other problems. Even up until this morning (Tuesday) I have needed help even just to sit up in bed due to muscle wastage and walking has proved nigh on impossible as just a trip around the supermarket has required the rest of the day to sleep it off. My muscles have wasted to the point that I have absolutely no strength whatsoever, so with an extra week to recover, I am hoping to build them up again.

I must admit that I began to worry that it was the cancer doing this but I am sure it is the treatment. I have not yet had that sudden urge, 'I must go to Disneyland' cancer symptom, so I am still feeling quite positive. Hopefully in a day or so, I will be able to get out and about again.

Filming
I am hoping to film some more video later in the week. I was taken for a nice riverside drive in the sun on Sunday and did shoot some nice film by hand then but there is not enough to make up a video, so I will include it next week.

In the mean time
Before I became ill, I had planned to make a DVD of some of my Wye Valley film shot during 2009/10. This is unlikely to happen now as my time I am able to spend working is very limited, so instead I have put together a 42 minute, almost 'documentary' type film of some of my favourite places which can be watched above. If you like it, I have made an MP4 file available for download. This is for personal use only! It can be burned to DVD to watch on television or it can be watched in 720 HD on your computer / media player. Download from here. Sorry it is in Mpeg 4 format but the full 720 Mpeg 2 file came out at over 6 gigabytes - far too large for download purposes. The film covers Hay Bluff, standing stones and other spiritual places, Garway Hill, Symonds Yat and the Wye Valley night sky. I hope you enjoy watching. Please only use it for personal use and do not decompile or reedit the film. Thank you. The film is also availabe to watch from the front page of wyenot.com.

Hopefully, I will feel well enough in a day or so to get out and about filming again. Until next week's blog, have a great week. The stats follow.

Alan xxx

Stats
These include the month of February statistics direct from the 'Wyenot' web server.

DAILY VISITORS TO WYENOT PAGES LOOKED AT BY THOSE VISITORS


23rd February 2011 - A very short blog

Again as anticipated
Again as anticipated, this has been a very bad week for me health wise as it is late into the chemo-cycle. I have done nothing 'Wyenot' constructive. Tina has covered all jobs, taken all photos and put the news together, for which I am extremely grateful. I think that Thursday was my worst day ever - probably since birth. My stomach distended from the poison and I could not clear it until I walked from the living room heading for the office. This brought on a bout of sickness and I could not even make the bathroom. I managed to get out into the garden, where the scene was like one from 'The Exorcist'. Good job we have a hose and an outside water supply! Luckily, I got some drugs to cope with it and have simply felt tired and have mostly slept since then.

I take my last chemo for the cycle tomorrow morning before a week off (I am writing this on Tuesday evening) and I know that things will begin to improve again from Wednesday evening. I am still very positive and although the treatment makes me feel worse than the disease does, I do feel that it is working, buying me more time. I shall try to get out and about at the weekend with the cameras again.

'Ross Rocks'
Before I became ill, along with Mel Hodges, Tina and I began to plan a music and general fun event for Ross-on-Wye in 2011 to help tourism and all local business. As my health situation changed, Tina thought about calling off the arrangements, however I have persuaded her differently; that I would like the event to go ahead regardless of whether or not I am able to see it. A meeting was held last night with a committee and 'Ross Rocks' was born. I plan to be there! We will be publishing full details within a short while but we already know that the event will take place on 25th June at the Bandstand and that 'Broome Cupboard Blues' and 'The Dandelion Killers' will be two of the headlining local bands. Look out for details on 'Wyenot over the coming weeks. I have not set it up yet but the future web address will be www.wyenot.com/rossrocks.

With that, I will sign for this week and be back next week with more news, hopefully some film and the visitor statistics etc.

Alan xxx


16th February 2011 - An Eventful Week

An Eventful Week
It has been something of an eventful week this week during which I have been taken out a few times. Following the visit from Japan by my friend Glynn, Mel Hodges kindly took me out on Thursday and we visited Yat Rock and the Kymin. The idea of visiting the Kymin was partly so that I can make a page on Wyenot showing this beautiful view point however the weather was not good when we arrived. We are going to return again on a sunny day so that I can take some more fitting photos for such a page but in the mean time, I shot some very misty time-lapse footage of the view of Monmouth, which is included in this week's video. Whilst up Yat Rock, I managed to shoot a short bird sequence by hand of a Tree Creeper, a Tit and a Nut Hatch.

On Friday, I was feeling reasonably well and went with Tina to the White Lion for lunch. The weather was beautiful and, dressed up warm, Tina carried my camera gear to my seat by the river bank for me and I managed some more time-lapse of the river, clouds and the moon. This is also included in the video. Later that night, just for a very short while, I managed to meet my friend, Nick for a brief birthday drink of Guinness (recommended by the hospital) with his family and friends.

In all, I felt reasonably well until Saturday after last Wednesday's drip chemo but I find that, whilst on the chemo - especially the oral stuff, every good period totally exhausts me. Saturday and Sunday were a totally different story. Apart from two very brief trips from home, I slept solidly for 48 hours, other than waking with severe stomach cramps. I have to be honest and say that, for the first time since beginning treatment, on Sunday I considered giving up the treatment and letting the cancer take its natural course. 8.00 am on Monday found me in much less pain and feeling awake again and my resolve to battle the disease has returned to full strength. I think sleep must be nature's way of helping the poison to attack the cancer cells and that is what I needed to do. The urge to sleep is the most overwhelming urge that you can imagine. People came to visit me over the period but I'm afraid I just slept through their visits, totally unable to wake myself, even to be polite, but I feel the rest has done me a lot of good.

We Will Rock You
The John Kyrle production of 'We Will Rock You' took place on Saturday evening and both Tina and I were invited along to see the show. Unfortunately, I felt so ill at that time that I was unable to go. However, Tina went and before she left home I gave her a crash course in how to shoot stop-motion using stage lights without flash. (She wants to learn how to drive too but in this instance, I shall try to avoid the crash course.) She took one of my cameras and covered the event for 'Wyenot'. She did an amazingly good job and her film clip is included in this week's video. For reasons of copyright, I have set the scenes to different music, for which I have a license in the sequence but it will give an idea of what a great production the show was. Well done John Kyrle High School!

The Hotel Inspector
I had another call from the Channel 5 directors of 'The Hotel Inspector' programme during the week. My photos were framed and used in the Ross-on-Wye based programme. They were very pleased with the result and asked for more to use in another episode, based somewhere in Hay-on-Wye. It would appear that I am about to become known on a programme I have never even watched. This should be very good publicity for Ross-on-Wye and the Wye Valley - the real and original 'Nation of Wyenot'. I don't know exact dates for my episodes as yet but I do know that the series is being broadcast in about six week's time. As soon as I have exact dates for my particular episodes, I will let you know.

All that is left
All that is left for me to say at the moment is: Thank you to all of the friends who have taken the trouble to come and visit, take me out and help in every way possible. Also to those who have stayed in contact via mail, email and on facebook. You have all given me the strength to carry on and despite my slight hiccup on Sunday, when I did almost think about giving in, I got over that the very next day and remain very positive. This has only been possible through the friendship and love that you have all shown.

Alan xxx


9th February 2011 - Update and a visit from Japan by an old friend

Late News:
My apologies for this week's news and blog being late. Tina has been working on the news page on and off all week but we had other things going on as well and simply ran out of time.

As I write this, I am sitting in the Charles Renton Unit at Hereford Hospital with my third cycle of chemotherapy dripping into the back of my hand. Having had six and a half days off from the treatment, at the moment, I feel great. I know however that by tonight this will change but the feeling dreadful for a few weeks is well worthwhile. The last chemo cycle made me very ill at times but I feel absolutely positive that it is working. This morning, whilst being driven to Hereford, I could almost imagine that there is nothing wrong with me. I have shaved my head, but not because my hair fell out completely. It just went very manky, as if it was melting and it became even more thin than usual. I feel better now that it has gone.

I began to feel well again on Sunday and was able to make a short film, which includes scenes by the River Wye and some scenes from last week's visit to Garway. I hope that you enjoy watching this.

On Monday and Tuesday, I had a visit from my lifelong friend, Glynn. Glynn and I have quite literally been friends since birth and although Glynn's work keeps him living in many different countries, on the other side of the world, we have kept in touch. Glynn flew over from his current home in Tokyo, Japan on Saturday and came to visit. We had a wonderful couple of days, remembering old times, old friends and the pranks we got up to as kids and on Tuesday we visited Ross Cider at Broome Farm and Symonds Yat East.

It was great to see you again Glynn! We have had some great times together, been in trouble together, many times, and, both as children and as adults, shared some fantastic times together. If the chemo is a major success, which I am sure it will be for a time, I look forward to visiting you in Tokyo in the not too distant future.

I am going to stop writing now as the chemo has made my hands numb and it is difficult to type but I will be back next week with more. Hope you enjoy the film.

Tina and I are also deeply sorry to have learned about the very sad news concerning Tom and Terri. Our thought are with both families and with baby Morgan.

Alan
xxx


Glynn and I, aged 21 in Barking, Essex 1974.

And at Ross Cider in 2011.

2nd February 2011 - Garway Hill

Garway Hill
Psychologically, it has been a brilliant week. My friend of over 40 years, Alison came to visit from London at the weekend and in preparation for her visit, I made up my mind that I was going to attempt to walk up Garway Hill to show her the views. All week I felt determined that I was going to make it and on Sunday, along with Tina, Alison and my daughter Sarah, I made it to the top - albeit at the speed of a snail. I wanted to take some camera gear, so, removing all but the necessary from my backpack camera bag, I put that on and to my utter amazement, its weight counterbalanced my forward stoop due to the excess weight in my abdomen and it actually made it easier for me to walk. Somehow, having walked everywhere for the past eight years carrying the bag, it felt absolutely natural to be wearing it again. I made sure that I took my morning chemo early and the more I walked, the easier walking became. The sun shone for our journey and, despite the cold, we all had a really nice day. Although the exercise and going out to eat at the White Lion totally exhausted me by bed time and throughout Monday, those who saw me on Monday noticed that I looked healthy. This has given me even more confidence that I will be able to fight the disease for as long as possible.

I feel guilty
I feel terribly guilty about keep writing blogs about myself as I know that there is other stuff going on locally which I normally would be covering but have not been able to. 'I, me, my' has by default become my life at the moment, as well as Tina's, and all of the other people who have been caring for me. I wish there were a way to change that and ease the strain on others but unfortunately there is not.
It will get a little better though for a time before I finally have to pull the plug on my 'Wyenot' input and hand the whole thing over to Tina on a permanent basis. When my chemotherapy is finished, I should hopefully get back to normal for a while. It is the chemo which drags me down more than the cancer.

I have not made a film again this week but I am hoping to next week, during my week off from treatment. From experience, I know that within five or six hours of when I stop taking the daily oral 4000 mg of the cytotoxic drug, capecitabine, I get some strength back and so I will get out with the cameras.

Sleep wise, I have had an awful week as I have been getting pain in the night. At first sign of the illness this began when I lay on my right side, soon afterwards, it happened when I lay on my left and for this past week it is happening when I lay on my back. I have finally got over this by sleeping in my chair, which I can adjust when the pain comes. I spoke to the hospital and they are going to examine me soon but their initial thoughts on the phone is that they think the problem is chemo related - where it is starting to work on the nasty stuff.

I did film a couple of time-lapse sequences at the top of the hill but not enough to make a video this week, so if I can get some river and other shots during this coming week, during my chemo break, I will run them along with that next week. I have included some photos of our nice hill walking outing though. Below the visitor statistics.

Visitor Statistics
January showed the usual predicted drop in visitors to Wyenot with 1.6 million hits, which included 145,517 pages viewed by 41,905 visitors. (Unique URLs by the way is a count of world wide ISPs, such as AOL, BT etc.) The accommodation pages were hit big time during January and indeed the main accommodation index and the tourist information pages were among the top 8 entry pages to Wyenot, so things are looking hopeful for the coming tourist season.

DAILY VISITORS TO WYENOT PAGES LOOKED AT BY THOSE VISITORS


Alison and I, complete with schoolboy knees.

Blackpool pond was frozen solid.

Frozen Blackpool on Garway Hill.

Tina, Sarah and Alison heading for home after a nice day on Garway Hill.

26th January 2011 - Just a very short blog this week

As anticipated
As anticipated, last week's intravenous chemo and starting the oral again wiped me out. Other than to take a photo in Goodrich on Sunday - as much, for a reason to leave the house as cover the play - I have not been able to get out and about this week, even to the river banks. These few words, written hurriedly on Tuesday evening and one photo are my only contribution to 'Wyenot' this week.

The rest of the week I have quite literally spent sleeping (but trying not to, too much during the day as I do not want to upset my body clock) and listening to the radio. Much nicer than watching television as I've seen everything on television at least 3 times now. I like listening to Radio 3, except when they play 20th century poop. I find it relaxing listening with my eyes closed.

The Macmillan nurse came to see me during the week and gave me lots of invaluable advice. I must not eat shellfish or curry away from home and must not use curry powder if cooked at home. I was told that there is a waiting list for electric reclining chairs, so later that day, I went to the mobility shop and bought one. It is the best thing I have bought all year as it's higher than the sofa and has completely resolved my comfort problem. Only problem I have had with it was this morning, when I unreclined it not realizing that the dog was underneath. Hopefully Eric has learned from that experience!

I am looking forward to the weekend. I have a visitor coming - an old friend and I'm hoping to save enough energy to take a slow walk up Garway Hill. If I make it to the top, I will take some photos of my favourite local views for next week.

I am still receiving mail and email, from both local people and from around the world. Once again, thank you to all who have taken the time to write. I have read every one and every one has given me more strength to fight on.

I had a dream last night that I was running, on the beach and in the forest with my children (as they were when they were all young). I awoke to the reality that I am like a 90 year old man with a walking stick at the moment, but in the future, I shall be able to walk properly again and go out filming again.

Alan xxx


19th January 2011 - Update, anger and watching the river flow

An odd week
It has been an odd week in a way. Last week, over the days following my lovely visit to meet Sir Bernard Lovell and visit Jodrell Bank, I became very ill indeed. To be honest, I thought my number was up at times as all I wanted to do was sleep and I could not walk at all. I went to see my own doctor though on a general visit and he reassured me that it was the chemotherapy causing this rather than the cancer. Whilst my bone marrow was at its most degraded, Tina came home with a nasty cough and cold, which I immediately caught and this brought me down considerably further.

On Friday however, I took the last of the toxic drugs to finish my first cycle of treatment and during the days off, I immediately felt better. My appetite, which had all but gone, returned, and along with it, the ability to walk again. I still have the nasty cough, which is very annoying in that when I cough, it starts the gag reflex and I have nearly decorated the living room carpet a few times. Tina phoned the chemo help line for me though and I can take Benylin cough mixture. This has made matters much better. I am off to Hereford hospital tomorrow (Wednesday) to start cycle 2 of my treatment with the intravenous drip, so I imagine that it will be down hill again for a couple of weeks but I do feel that the chemo is working. The alien within feels lighter than it did before, after just the one chemo cycle, so hopefully the further treatments will shrink it all the more.

Television
I have had two television companies call this week after looking at 'Wyenot'. The first was ATV, who are making a pilot film for a 'Visit Britain' tourism series and they want to begin in Ross-on-Wye. I met with the directors at their request on Tuesday and pointed them in a few location directions but I was feeling unwell, so left them in the capable hands of Tina and came home to rest.

The following day, Channel 5 called. They were filming an episode of a programme called 'The Hotel Inspector' locally and asked if they could use some of my local photographs to hang on the wall during the filming. After much searching, I managed to find the photographs they wanted and sent them off. They were printed and framed in Plymouth and, as far as I know, used during the filming. I have never seen the programme as I rarely watch television, so I don't know what it is about exactly but I believe they renovate a hotel during the programme.

Angry
Somebody made me extremely angry this week. A local marketing company emailed me explaining that they were doing a job of printing postcards for a promotion involving a large Ross store, and that they had been sent a disc of 'photos of Ross-on-Wye' to use. It turned out that these 'photos of Ross-on-Wye' had been downloaded from Wyenot and had my watermark on them but it was assumed that I knew the sender personally and had given her permission.

I explained that I had never heard of the sender, that this particular out of town Ross store had never supported Wyenot and that she certainly did not have my permission. That however was evidently not good enough. The job had to be set in motion by 24th January and I was told that they were going to negotiate with me afterwards. The marketing man then continued to send me emails, explaining how he could get them to advertise, for a cut, and that his involvement with a 'Truffle' card he was working on for local businesses would also help me to gain advertisers, with a cut to himself, of course. He sent me three emails demanding that we should arrange a meeting to discus, all in the same day.

This was not the type of thing I wanted to deal with whilst feeling so ill (a fact that he had read about but had obviously chosen to take lightly). I was finding his persistence extremely distressing and so I wrote back categorically stating that I am not well, that I never use a middle man, that I do not want my photos to be used on his postcards, and that, should they appear on such, I will put the matter in the hands of a solicitor.

Had they asked properly. I might have negotiated a deal and sorted out high resolution copies of the photos for printing but using the low resolution web copies of my photos, without permission to make 4,000 postcards would have shown my photography work in a very poor light. The fact that using high resolution photos is an absolute necessity for such a job is something one would have thought might have occurred to a clever marketing man anyway. I was spitting razor blades when, on looking at my mail on Sunday morning, the first thing I saw was two emails on this subject, written as if arranging a meeting and making money from local business is all I care about.

I care about perhaps feeling a little better, living every day as though it might be my last, watching the river flow and helping the whole town of Ross. Although I need to get by, I'll leave the money grabbing greed of those who want to profit by using the hard work of others to the 'marketing' people of this world!

Watching the River Flow
During the past few days I have been able to get out and about down by the river a little. With the minimum walking involved and without tripod during the first two outings, I was able to shoot a few scenes of the rising water levels on the Wye from Wilton and on Monday, I went to eat at the White Lion and the weather was lovely for a few hours. I managed to set a camera up for the duration and shoot a time lapse sequence before stopping at Ross Rowing Club on the way home to film from there.

I still find that when I am down by the river, as long as I can get comfortable, I can almost forget that I am not well. The film is a bit shaky to begin with but the time lapse sequence has turned out perfectly. I hope you enjoy watching. There are some stills below.

Tudorville
I went along to the official opening of Tudorville Community Centre with Tina for a short while on Saturday. It was nice to see everybody there and the new look building, which is now warm, is looking good and is a comfortable place for all activities and a great venue to book for events. Well done to those involved in the organization and refurbishment of what was the old Youth Club building.

Lots of Feedback
I received lots of feedback about last week's day with Sir Bernard Lovell and at Jodrell Bank blog. It was a very popular item and I am really pleased that so many people enjoyed reading it. Somebody wrote in quoting Sir Patrick Moore, who said that 'Sir Bernard Lovell is the Isaac Newton of Astronomy'. This is probably true in the field of radio astronomy. He is a truly great man. Sir Patrick Moore and Sir Bernard Lovell are in fact lifelong friends, though they have not seen one another in years due to the issues which come along with age. A year or so Back, Sir Patrick Moore invited Roger and I for lunch at 'Farthings' and indeed, at that time he spoke very highly of his cricket and meteor spotting friend of all those years ago. I am pleased that the article had such an impact. Thank you to those who wrote in to say they enjoyed it.

Letter re Mary Sinclair-Powell
I should start a 2011 letters page really and will do so in the future but to save myselt a little time in the short term, I shall run this one in the blog:

Hi Alan
Just a note to give some praise and thanks to Mary Sinclair-Powell, who has recently been made redundant?? from the Ross Heritage Centre. If anybody needs thanking for their great contribution to Ross-on-Wye over recent years it would be Mary, she has been doing a great deal of work helping so many individuals and organizations in and around Ross, whilst carrying on her duties at the Heritage Centre with what can only be described as an immense pride for "her" town. Her local knowledge is second to none (as can be told by her regular walks and talks that she did). Whether you were looking for local information, family history or details on any archives, Mary would always point you in the right direction, and if she didn't know the answer, she invariably knew someone who did. Many thanks for your contribution to the town Mary, and good luck with your search for another hopefully similar placement, your sort are very few and far between. Colin Davies
Colin's Tyrecare (Ross)

Thank you for that Colin. These are also my sentiments exactly. I also have my own thoughts about the new system at what should still be Ross Heritage Centre. I am not very happy with the new situation and intend to deal with it on Wyenot with some appropriate page adjustments - moving from 'current' to 'archive' without replacement before the 2011 tourist season begins in earnest. Thank you also for your comments re the road run coverage. I only managed to catch a few of the vintage tractors on Wilton Bridge but you are welcome to the photos. Call by when you are in the area and I will put them on a CD for you.

Whilst writing
Whilst writing this blog, I have received a call from the Charles Renton Unit in Hereford to say that my blood count is fine and that it's 'all engines running' for tomorrow's intravenous chemo. This is good news but I know now from experience that I will not be up to doing much for at least the next two weeks. I shall leave Wyenot and any photo jobs in the capable hands of Tina until I am fit again. Until then. Enjoy the rest of January and I shall write a blog next week if I am able.

Alan xx

DAILY VISITORS TO WYENOT PAGES LOOKED AT BY THOSE VISITORS

Deep water on the Wye - a view over Wilton Bridge.

The town of Ross.

A deep water view of Ross from Ross Rowing Club.

12th January 2011 - Lunch with Sir Bernard Lovell and a visit to Jodrell Bank

Meeting one of the great men of astronomy and the space race
The Jodrell Bank idea began in 1945 when Sir Bernard Lovell returned to Manchester University to continue his pre war work researching cosmic rays. Sir Bernard is 97 years old now but his long term memory is still perfect. He led the team which built the radio telescope at Jodrell Bank. Soon after the construction of the Mark 1, 250 feet, steerable radio telescope was complete in 1957. The Russians launched Sputnik 1 and Jodrell Bank was the only radio telescope on Earth able to track the rocket which launched the first satellite into space. Although tracking spacecraft was never considered to be a priority, Sir Bernard's telescope was used over and over by both the Russians and NASA during the space race, receiving the very first pictures from the surface of the moon and was also used to follow the Apollo moon landing craft when the moon was invisible to other areas of the planet.

I had been a follower and admirer of the work of Sir Bernard Lovell since my interest in the early Apollo missions of the 1960s and have long considered myself very lucky that by coincidence (i.e. not astronomy related) his family in Herefordshire are all people I count amongst my closest friends. I was delighted when Sir Bernard's son, Roger asked me if Tina and I would like to go with him to his birth home in Cheshire to have lunch with his dad. We had a lovely day, seeing another side to Sir Bernard, his love of caring for the countryside by planting a fantastic arboretum with a wildlife friendly lake.

I deliberately did not take a photo of Sir Bernard as he is very old now and I think the world should remember him through his photos of younger days but one thing I did take note of. Earlier in the week, during the BBC 'Stargazing Live' programmes, Brian Cox climbed up onto the surface of the dish. 'I would not have allowed that kind of thing during my day,' said Sir Bernard. And I can understand why. The surface of that dish is extremely finely tuned so that it can receive signals of minute wavelengths from sources many light years distant.

After lunch, Roger, Tina and I were given access to the control room at Jodrell Bank, where controller, Kim Mance showed us around and explained that the telescope was currently pointing at the South horizon detecting signals from pulsars.

Thank you to Roger, Sir Bernard and Monica for the lovely lunch and to Kim for our look inside at the fine detail of how one of the world's wonders of engineering works. Tina and I had a wonderful day.

Personal update below the photos...


Kim Manse controls the telescope as it detects pulsars on the southern horizon .

Myself, Kim Mance and Roger Lovell at the Lovell Radio Telescope, Jodrell Bank.

The Lovell radio telescope.

A closer look at the access platform.

To be honest
I had a truly fantastic day on Saturday but health wise it has been a steep down hill slide since then. The chemotherapy has absolutely weakened every inch of me. I could do nothing but sleep, right through from Saturday evening until Tuesday morning and at the point of my lowest immune system, Tina caught a nasty flu type cough and cold, which of course made a beeline for my low defences. My mobility is virtually zero at the moment and so I have been unable to do any filming and unfortunately, can see it remaining this way until the chemo is over. Maybe when the virus has gone though I will feel strong enough to get out again.

I saw my own doctor this morning and he reassured me that I will be able to walk again once the chemo stops. I was aware that the treatment would drag me down but not quite how far. My doctor is also arranging for Macmillan to see me so that I can get some expert help.

I am remaining positive though, thinking that if it is doing this to the rest of my body, it must also be doing me some good by weakening the growth of cancer cells.

Hopefully I will have some better health news next week. I'm afraid that my only contribution to this week's update is this blog. Tina has sorted everything else.

I will run the stats next week but I have noticed that people have been looking for local accommodation throughout January.

Alan xxx


5th January 2011 - Feeling more confident

Truly amazed!
Having seen the oncologist last week, I spent the daytime of New Year's Eve in Hereford Hospital undergoing my first intravenous chemotherapy. As my cancer is secondary (I had no indications of the primary), the type of chemotherapy. I am having is palliative rather than a cure but I am amazed at the difference it has made. Within hours of returning home I felt stronger and was able, after a few hours rest, to go out on New Year's Eve for just under 2 hours.

The initial treatment being tried is intravenous every three weeks with twice per day oral chemotherapy. in between times. This will continue for between three to six treatments, depending on success. After that, I am hoping that there will be something else to try.

I am feeling some of the side effects which I was warned might occur, in particular, I lose the feeling in my hands in the slightest cold and cannot get things out of the fridge without gloves. The same thing happens in my throat when I drink a cold drink. I am also told that my bone marrow will start to degrade in about seven to ten days from the start of each treatment and that I must be very careful to avoid people with colds or coughs, and to avoid visiting crowded enclosed spaces such as supermarkets. (Never had such a good excuse not to go shopping!) I am also told that I will start to get very tired soon, though somehow, so far I have felt less tired than before treatment began.

The main thing is
The main thing is that I feel more confident that I can fight the nasty disease and try to aim for the years rather than the months target. My weight loss has stabilize over the past week as my appetite has returned and I am trying to eat and drink healthily. I am particularly drinking both pomegranate juice and cranberry juice as many people have told me about the benefits to cancer sufferers of these juices.

I feel that my best weapon in this battle is trying to stay positive. I obviously do get my down times thinking of the oblong box in the church, but most of the time, keeping mentally active and continuing where possible to get out with the camera enables me to distance my mind from this and plan ahead.

People, particularly family and close friends are obviously very worried and telephone me regularly to ask 'how I am today'. I do appreciate this but on the other hand, it does not aid with my trying to distance myself from the illness. In a way, I would rather just put an update here as and when necessary. It is always lovely to hear from people but I would rather not talk on the phone about cancer. Much better to talk about future plans.

I do know that eventually I will lose this battle but I will fight against this as hard as I can for as long as I can, and keep up the hope that when one treatment comes to an end, there will be another I can try. I know of several people who have been told 'a year' and, one in particular is still trying experimental new treatments eleven years on from her initial prognosis. This gives me the hope and the will to continue!

The Week in Moving Pictures
I have covered two main things this week. New Year's Eve was one and this was a very special and really nice evening. Tina and I met lots of lovely friends at the White Lion and at Ross Market, where the midnight crowd were very well behaved and friendly. I have covered this in a separate article. The other thing I covered was the ice melting and floating down the River Wye. On the first day this began, it was much more spectacular but I was not able to get to the river that day, so filmed the morning after.

I have finished up this week's film with some of the footage I shot during 2010 and have not yet shown. Throughout the spring and summer, I was filming to make more tourism and wildlife films for Wyenot but I got ill towards the autumn months and never got around to finishing the job. Hopefully, my strength will return enough to do more filming during the coming year.

Tuesday's Solar Eclipse
Along with Tina and my son, Matt, I did get out to Brampton Abbotts this morning to attempt to film the sunrise partial solar eclipse, and indeed saw the red sky before it rose. The moment it was about to pop up over the horizon though, the sky clouded over the top and the sun did not emerge again until after the event was over. Never mind, it was a nice little outing and I have some film of the cloud formations.

Whilst at Brampton Abbotts first thing, I almost felt as if my illness had retreated but now, during the early evening and having also had to walk about town today, I feel absolutely exhausted and some other more uncomfortable side effects of the chemo are beginning to manifest. Tomorrow is a new day though and after rest, hopefully things will improve again.

Wyenot visitor and page view figures The usual independently produced visitor and page view charts for the past 30 days, printed at 11.00 pm on Monday can be seen below, as can the more accurate server log stats for the month of December.

As can be seen, 'Wyenot.com' as a whole had 2.35 million 'hits' during the month of December which included 165,038 pages being looked at by 36,796 visitors. The end of year visitor spike on the 'local accommodation' pages began as predicted on 27th December and is still continuing as people look for springtime breaks. This will fade again during the second part of January and throughout February but tourism visitors will start looking in earnest from March onwards throughout the summer and Autumn.

There is another way I can tell that tourism visitors are looking at 'Wyenot'. Many of them are only capable of looking at pictures and do not actually read all of the information. Despite the large message at the very top of the only page they can email me from, saying that I am NOT Ross Tourist Information and that I cannot post brochures, the email demands for me to post brochures begin to arrive. I received the first of these for 2011 on Sunday, 2nd January.

DAILY VISITORS TO WYENOT PAGES LOOKED AT BY THOSE VISITORS


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