Sunday 5 June 2022
Monday 9 May 2022
Sunday 17 April 2022
I am going through quite a journey.
There are not many absolute certainties in life, though one of them is that life will one day end. It hits hard when one learns that the end is suddenly going to be rather sooner that one might have expected.
Since my last post here, around two weeks ago, I have undergone numerous tests and procedures, and I am roughly half way through a course of intensive radiotherapy. The aim of the therapy is to shrink the tumour that is blocking my throat. Progress is slow, and I am still unable to swallow. I am receiving nutrition, fluids and most mediation via pumps through a tube directly into my stomach. None of this is pleasant, so I will dwell on it no further.
The hospital I am in is Raigmore, Inverness. It was largely built about 50 years ago, and with some 450 beds, the hospital is the largest in the Highlands. In spite of media stories about the dire state of the NHS, I can only say that the quality of care that I am receiving is of the highest standard. I have my own private room, with my own loo, shower and lights. There is even a nice view to distant forests and mountains out of the window. I certainly feel confident that if anything is going to give me a longer go at this life, then the staff and facilities at this hospital are going to do it with me.
It is something of an understatement to say that my presence here is a life changing experience. In such a short space of time, my world has been turned inside out and upside down, and I have to come to terms with nothing ever being the same again. My cancer is incurable. My eventual demise is inevitable, but what is happening now is hopefully buying me some extra weeks, maybe months. Plans that Sue and I were forming to slow-down the cottage bookings and eventually close down our holiday business, have been brought forward. Sadly for many of our visitors, we have had to cancel bookings, though hopefully most will be able to rebook elsewhere fairly readily.
I understand that in my absence from Roskhill, the Potting Shed greenhouse is now complete. I look forward to seeing that as soon as I can! While I am here, my wonderful wife, Sue, and Cupar of course, are staying at our little Strathpeffer cottage, which is just 20 miles from here - what a good thing we bought that when we did! Sue is being magnificently supported by her sister, Helen, who has selflessly put her life on hold and has pledged to stay in Scotland with Sue 'as long as she is needed' - which is a further reassurance for me.
So, for today, and every day henceforth, my number 1 aim will be to remain determined and positive for the future. I will report back again as and when there is something to report!
Tuesday 5 April 2022
Monday 4 April 2022
Things have begun to fall apart rather badly now though.
I am slowly typing this post on my unfamiliar mobile phone while sitting in a hospital ward awaiting the start of radiotherapy to attempt to slow the spread of an incurable and aggressive cancer in my throat.
I had always imagined that I would outlive my lovely Dad, who made it to 82. It seems l am going to miss that target by quite a margin with my life expectancy measured in months rather than years.
Wednesday 23 February 2022
I have just changed my car again. My 5 year old BMW X3 has been replaced by a nearly-new Volvo V90 - the Cross Country edition, with slightly raised suspension and permanent 4-wheel drive. This car has Volvo's B5 mild-hybrid diesel engine, producing about 40bhp more than the X3, and the electric boost adds a little more oomph when accelerating. So it is quicker, smoother and also quieter than the car I have replaced. Cupar seems to like the huge boot.
In keeping with what has become a tradition, the Volvo is now wearing my 200 XMF number plate. I think it is the now the eighth vehicle to bear this registration. The plate was originally assigned to a 1959 Peerless GT which I owned from about 1994 to 2003. When I sold the Peerless, it was to someone who planned to permanently export the car, so I asked the prospective new owner if he would be happy for me to keep the plate. (As it happened, the Peerless stayed in the UK, but that is a different story). So, the plate has been on all of my 'everyday' vehicles since that time.
|The latest 200 XMF|
Saturday 19 February 2022
It's a start - a slow one, but a start. Since our garden room 'Potting Shed' became a viable workshop, I have gradually gathered together a collection of pottery making tools plus other odds and ends. The kiln is installed, and has had its initial (empty) firing, recommended for new kilns. I am still short of a few items, but have at last squished a bit of clay, and can now introduce you to Pot-The-Pig - the first clay item I have made in some 25 years.
|Pot-The-Pig still awaits final fettling and a glaze of some kind.|
But for now, mostly. I am still getting 'ready'. I have made a few (rather poor) plaster-of-paris moulds, with which I would hope to easily produce some plates and bowls. I clearly need to work more on my mould-making technique. I also need to find a bulk supplier of powdered plaster - it is expensive to buy in small quantities. I haven't bought any glazes yet, either...!
|Pots and moulds|
Tuesday 1 February 2022
The Potting Shed is our garden room - to be used as a pottery studio, with lean-to greenhouse. The shed itself was built in the autumn, but due to assorted pandemic delays, the greenhouse was not delivered until about a fortnight ago, and the kiln, essential for any pottery making, was also a long time coming.
However, I am delighted to report that although the greenhouse still awaits decent enough weather for its construction to be undertaken, I do now have a fully functioning kiln!
I had confirmed with the manufacturer that my kiln was ready, and as it happened, this coincided with my most recent trip south. I was driving the BMW X3 this time, so I had the space needed to actually collect the kiln myself. The heavy item was loaded into the car with the help of a fork lift truck and two strong young men. Getting it out again, and into place in the Potting Shed was a bit more of a challenge, but a very helpful neighbour and I spent an hour or so devising an arrangement of ramps and steps, and eventually, the deed was done.
Now all I need is to find the time to actually get out there and get potting...
|Installed at last !|
Wednesday 12 January 2022
It's that dismal and damp time of year when I long to be outside making a start at getting the allotment fettled ready for spring, but the wind and drizzle keep me penned-up indoors, scratching-around trying to find things to keep me occupied.
Although the Potting Shed is now pretty much ready to be used for artistic activity, I still await delivery of the kiln, and without that, there is a very limited appeal in actually making anything, as there is no way for the time being that any pottery items could become finished.
So, as my sister recently passed-on to me the custody of the Dorrell family archive of photographs and paperwork, I have started having a rummage. My goodness - there's some memories here, and some surprises too. I still have to formulate a plan for what to do with all the paperwork, which includes things like receipts for furniture bought by my parents in the 1930s when they were setting up their first home. (We still have a lovely octagonal walnut coffee table bought in 1938 for the princely sum of one pound, twelve shillings and sixpence - that's £1.62 in modern decimal money).
Then I come across some household accounts, also from the late '30s, which showed my father - who worked for the Air Ministry as a weather forecaster - was bringing home just £13.00 per month, and yet the receipt for my Mum's solitaire diamond engagement ring reveals that he paid £10.00 for the ring. Project those figures to 2020 rates of pay and prices, and that ring would cost some £1,500.00 !
But so far, it is Mum's box of photos that I have worked through the most. There are hundreds of pictures, mostly tiny, and in black and white of course. I know my Mum would get the box out from time to time and have a nostalgic browse through the past, and gaze with love, and maybe a few tears, at the images of beaming children and long-departed family members.
I guess we all like to do that.
I am currently working on scanning a selection of the images, and am uploading them as a gallery on my Life Story website that I created several years ago. It is a work-in-progress, but anyone interested will find the gallery here: https://richarddorrell.weebly.com/mums-box-of-photos.html
Here's a teeny sample:
|We are fairly certain Mum is the little girl on the far left with a bow in her hair. |
This would probably have been in Islington, London, about 1920.
|A birthday party in about 1953|
|Mum's brother, Sid, Died 1956, age 42.|
|Signed: 'Your devoted and loving husband, Tommy. Nov. 1940'|