A reflection on (fairly) recent times.

When I was twenty-five years of age I thought that if I ever made it to sixty-five they should take me out and shoot me! Now that I have just celebrated my sixty-fifth birthday I’m not so sure. I think that perhaps we should revisit this when I’m, say, eighty-five. I have learnt that there are some decisions that are worth taking time over and I think shooting me is one of them! So what’s the difference between sixty-five and twenty-five? My answer would be, a little wiser, a little more experienced, a little heavier, a little thinner on top and perhaps a little more tolerant (although my dear wife, Diana, might not agree with that).

Over the weekend, celebrating at The Waldorf Astoria, Diana and I had chance to reflect upon the people we have known, and the people that we know today and we discussed why success seems to be bestowed upon the few and eluded by the many. Success can be applied to many things. Financial, relationships, health amongst others. However, it would seem to me that the one key element to attain success, in any area of life, would be the ability to focus. My observation is that most people drift through life without any real purpose or forethought. Of course, students will focus on completing their examinations and finalising their degrees but once settled in a career an awful lot of people drift through their working life without making any real decisions and end up in retirement wishing that they had done better. Now, of course, there are plenty of exceptions and as you are reading this blog you are probably searching for the elusive key to success or perhaps you are already successful and you should be sharing your ideas. If so, please feel free to comment.

It never ceases to amaze me that most people spend more time planning their holiday than they spend planning their future. Why would someone do that? I think that the answer is that it’s easy. Designing a life plan isn’t easy but it’s relatively simple. One of the tools that I have found to be most helpful is to keep a journal, so you can capture your thoughts and ideas. The physical act of writing seems to crystallise your thoughts and help clear the muddle that sometimes goes on in your head. I’ve never met a real leader who isn’t a good reader and every one of them keeps a journal. My mentor got me into this habit over twenty years ago and guess when I started making some serious money?

As a first step in your life plan it’s essential, in my opinion, to know exactly where you are. You can describe where you are in your relationships, health and family in your journal but for ease I am going to confine my remarks to financial matters. It’s a good idea to describe, in your journal your nett worth. It’s very simple to do. First take a new page and draw a line down the middle and list everything that you own (your assets) and on the other side of the line list everything that you owe (your liabilities). Then simply deduct your liabilities from your assets and the balance will be your nett worth. When I first did this exercise, many years ago, the result was underwhelming! Now, you may have some financial issues that need to be resolved but I would ask you to look further ahead because I don’t believe that anybody leaps out of bed in the morning thinking “Another day, another opportunity, to earn the money to pay the lousy bills”. I just don’t think that this scenario is particularly motivational. I believe that it’s very important to have something inspirational to look forward to. So, somebody says, “If only someone would come by and turn me on!” My question would be, “What if he doesn’t turn up? Inspiration, usually isn’t something that just turns up.

Inspiration has to be searched for. It requires you to make an effort. For you to become inspired requires an ambition to do better. It’s not sufficient to make enough money to pay the lousy bills. To experience life to the full requires you to be financially free so you can meet your obligations and then you can seek the experiences that your inspiration will drive you to. True inspiration will have you getting up early, going to bed late and being excited by the promise of tomorrow. No matter what obstacles are put in front of you, as an inspired person you will find your way around, over or through any obstacle in your path. Pouring the effort on in a focussed manner will have you making progress in a measurable time frame.

Inspiration can be found by dreaming! The problem is that generally adults have the ability to dream knocked out of them as they become older. To find true inspiration it’s often necessary to learn to dream like a child where all things are possible without any self limitations. Please don’t misunderstand me that I’m asking you to ignore your financial duties to yourself, family and loved ones but f you start to work towards your dreams then any financial issues tend to be resolved through your own common sense.

I think it’s hard to become financially independent working for somebody else (job) as your remuneration is controlled by others and is usually beyond your control. Therefore, you need to be in control of how you generate your income. That’s the beauty of our opportunity as it allows you to work full-time on your job and part-time on your fortune. It’s governing and balancing the time that’s important. That’s why it’s essential to design a life plan. If you don’t have your own plan, it’s highly likely that you will fit in someone else’s plan and guess what they have planned for you. It’s probably not a lot!

Until my next post…. Toodleoo!

A Personal View of Recent Announcements in The Utility Warehouse.

There's WorkTo Do.
There’s WorkTo Do.

One of the best places to start to turn your life around is by doing whatever appears on your mental “I should list”!

With the exciting changes that have been announced by CEO Andrew Lindsay distributors will broadly fall into two categories. There will be those that see the announcements as a tweak to an already excellent proposition and there will be others who will realise that this is a game changeing pivotal point in our opportunity.

These announcements come at a critical time in the calendar year being part way through the last quarter of the year. The momentum that you create now in your business will roll forward to the New Year. Now here’s what some people will do. They will study the minutiae of the announcements rather than trusting the company to have done their home work in order to position the company at the forefront of the industry.

There are some things you don’t know how it works – only that it works. While some people are studying the roots, others are picking the fruit. It just depends which end of this you want in on.

So, here’s what Diana, David and I are doing with these incredible announcements.

For our leadership.

By the time that you read this we will have already been in contact with our leadership team to spread the plan.

For our personally sponsored team members who have yet to achieve Team Leader.

We will ensure that this section of our team is aware of these announcements and give them a precise plan on how to use the announcements to further their individual businesses.

Let’s review some of the changes:

No Membership Fee!

For the team members that have been within our group for more than just a few weeks you will remember that we had a limited time promotion when the membership fee was waived. The result was that the customer gathering numbers went through the roof! I believe that this extra spurt of customers was generated as a result of a barrier being removed.

Gold Talk Customers – Six Months Free Broadband!

This was also trialled as a promotion this summer with a spectacular result with customer numbers rising to record levels due to the confidence that was generated knowing that this is an exceptional offer.

Freezing Home Phone Line Rental!

This significantly increases our already competitive proposition.

The New Gold Customer Bundles!

The structuring of these bundles has made it even easier to attract customers to our multi service proposition.

The Price Guarantees!

The new energy price guarantee is much simpler to understand and far easier to explain and our double the price difference is very simple indeed.

Above all it’s made everything much simpler!!

The Effects

These new changes to our already strong offering are game changing as customer gathering has been made simple. A consequence of these changes is that our new team embers will qualify their positions and obtain their fast track bonuses faster, as a Gold customer now only requires three eligible services instead of four. With the changes to our more than competitive landline call package there will be an automatic increase in commsiions paid! Because of increased charges incurred by the company they have been forced to increase our energy prices but compared to the rest of the industry our increase is very modest indeed. Which means our customers get exceptional value but as a side effect it will increase our pesonal commissions as well.

The Challenge.

The challenge is to do more so that you become more than you already are. The barriers to customer gathering have been removed. With a set of new marketing tools and a new presenter (available on the Extranet) your personal challenge is to do more, to talk to more people, to help them save money and to help them make money.

Diana, David and I believe it to be true that if you help enough people get what they want you will get what you want.

Let’s do this together.

Until my next post, Toodleoo!

Will September be big for you, my Telecom Plus friends?


Your Telecom Plus income will always respond to consistent activity but there are some months when it really is worthwhile to “slam down the pedal to the metal”. September is one of those months and it’s almost upon us. The holidays are over and it’s back to the 9 to 5 daily grind and for a lot of people in the land of the salaried it’s a time of frustration. The Summer holiday credit card bills are just around the corner and Christmas is on its way! Of course, some people will just bury their heads in the sand and ignore what’s happening around them. Some people will turn a blind eye to what’s happening in the economy and everybody knows it’s a long way off being fixed. However, you’ve been smart enough to recognise that now is the time to take control of your own future, your own future prosperity, to build a wall of financial security around you and your loved ones and as I have already alluded September is one of those months when you need to hit the ground running! Here’s my advice for you to get the best from September.

  1. Create a September calendar on a sheet of paper. Put it on your cork board so you and your family can see what’s going on.
  2. List the key elements on your calendar which would be the following:
  • COP’s
  • Trainings
  • Events.
  1. Now list all the family and social stuff on your calendar for the month.
  2. Get your television guide and a highlight pen and mark off the programs you really have to watch, there won’t be many!

You can now see at a glance all the time you can put into growing your business plus all the nooks and crannies of the day.

Now review your prospect list and you should probably divide your prospects into three categories:

  1.  Those that you are totally comfortable in calling, making an appointment and presenting to.
  2. Those that you’re comfortable to call and ask them to view the two-minute video and follow up with the intent of either making an appointment to present or to invite them to a Career Opportunity Presentation.
  3. Your chicken list. Everyone has one of these. People you would like to talk to but you feel either uncomfortable in approaching them or you feel that you need to have attained a level of success before you’re able to approach them. This is where you need to enlist the help of your upline leader for assistance.

Now here’s an extract from my up coming September calendar including all the COP’s that I’m presenting and note that they will all start at 8pm sharp so I strongly suggest that you, your guests and team members arrive early:

Thursday September 5 Manchester South COP (Holiday Inn Manchester Airport, Altrincham Rd, Wilmslow, Manchester, SK9 4LR) I’m looking forward to presenting the opportunity on my “home” ground! This is always a great crowd with a tremendous happy atmosphere and a really high conversion ratio!

Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 Massive Action Day (MAD) in Bradford (Abundant Life Conference Centre, Wapping Road, Bradford, West Yorkshire, BD3 0EQ) and Cheltenham (Centaur Conference Centre, Cheltenham Race Course, Prestbury Park, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire,GL50 4SH) respectively. This year I will be attending both venues and I’m sure you have already got your ticket. If not this is a massive error. This is one of the premier events of the year and will really put you ahead of the rest of the pack as the day will be jam-packed full with serious advanced information. Come and find me in the breaks and say hello! If you haven’t already, get your ticket on the Extranet.

Thursday September 19 Croydon COP (Hallmark Hotel, Purley Way, Croydon, CR9 4LT). Last time I presented at this venue we had record numbers attending and record numbers of new people joining! So, If you’re in the area come along to this fun presentation and bring your prospects. If you’re not in the area then look through your list and see who you know who could attend and just send them along.

Monday September 23 Stevenage COP (Novotel Hotel, Knebworth Park, Stevenage, Hertfordshire, SG1 2AX). This is an excellent venue just situated off the A1M with great car parking etc. Last time I presented there we had record numbers but to be absolutely honest considering the catchment area there’s an awful lot of business to be done in the area. It would be great if we can have an extra push and get this area rocking and rolling so who do you know in Hertfordshire? I look forward to meeting you if you can get there and of course your guests!

Thursday 26 Newport Pagnell COP (Holiday Inn – Milton Keynes East, M1 J14  London Road, Newport Pagnell, MK16 0JA). This is another easy to get to venue and again draws on a massive catchment area. So, who do you know in Bedfordshire? We could really get this area going if we can focus on who we know in the area and invite them along to this presentation. You never know, it could develop into a key area for you!

Monday 30 September Bracknell COP (Coppid Beech Hotel, John Nike Way, Bracknell,  Berkshire, RG12 8TF). This is the last presentation that I will be doing in September and it will be a humdinger in this excellent conference venue. This venue is in the centre of a massive conurbation so we should be able to lift the roof off this hotel!

So, that’s an extract from my September calendar. What’s in your calendar? If you feel like it why not share your calendar on Facebook and let your contacts see what you’re up to!

To your success!

Until next time, Toodleoo!

Buckets, plumbing and pipework.

A few days ago Diana and I were waiting in the reception area of the consulting suite at The Alexandra Hospital for a meeting with my consultant surgeon Mr. Vijay Ramani for the definitive results of the pathological examination of my prostate after my radical robotic prostatectomy. This was going to be the day that we had been waiting for. I had a nervous weekend and had neither of us had slept well for a couple of nights and now we were both waiting, sat on a sofa to see Mr. Ramani. Other consultants appeared from time to time calling out their patients names and we waited. Mr. Ramani suddenly appeared and acknowledged our presence and beckoned me forward. He shook Diana’s hand and then mine and as we walked down the corridor to his consulting room he put his arm around my shoulder and my heart sank to my boots. Having duly taken our seats we looked at Mr. Ramani expectantly and he asked me how I was doing. I responded that I felt that I was doing well but I really wanted he to know what he had to say. Mr. Ramani said that we would get to that later and he wanted to know how I was. I then had to say that Diana and I really wanted to know what the results were of the pathological examination of my prostate. Mr. Ramani then asked what I thought the results would be worth and after discussing “a good dinner” he let me have it! It was probably the best news that my wife and I have had in a long time. To cut to the chase and leaving out all the technical stuff it was confirmed that the cancer had remained in the prostate and was now, as Mr. Ramani put it, in the bucket! Obviously, I will be monitored over the next five years but nothing untoward is expected.

Mr. Ramani then delved into the detail of my daily plumbing habits since the operation and expressed delight at my progress. Diana and I then received a lecture on the pipework that had been hacked about and rebuilt during the operation and how there will be a period of time that will pass by before my bits and pieces properly fuse together. Consequently, I was urged not to exercise too much but to build up very slowly and I’m not allowed to fly for three months. It was at this point that “She Who Must Be Obeyed” asked with a knowing look and a smile, whether it was to early for sex! I thought that the poor man was about to choke and after he recomposed himself he felt that this subject should be discussed at a later date. I was obviously relieved at his news and of course his comments. Later in the day “She Who Must Be Obeyed” claimed that her question was in jest but I will never forgot the look of horror on Mr. Ramani’s face.

So, dear reader, it would seem that this time I have dodged that particular bullet but to be serious for a moment the outcome could have been very different unless Diana and I had decide to undertake a private yearly health screening process just over four years ago.

I’m sure that my next post will be on a completely different subject. Until then, toodleoo!

I have been rocket propelled!

I have been rocket-propelled! Well, briefly. Read on and my story will unfold. I’m now at home and have been for a couple of days but today is the first day that I feel that life is starting to return to normal! After my surgery which went very well I was discharged and started the convalescent process at home. Unfortunately, some blood started to appear in my urine together with some spidery clots and then I awoke at about four in the morning and discovered that my catheter had ceased to drain. After a quick telephone call to the Christie clinic and I was in the car, chauffeured by She Who Must Be Obeyed and back on ward three, just half an hour later. One of my consultant’s, Mr. Sengar, had been called in and he proceeded to wash my bladder out. This was an unusual, although not an unpleasant experience. Mr. Sengar decided to keep me in the clinic for a few days during which time I had a couple more bladder flushes. On top of this rather unpleasant experience my bowel had decided to cease to flow and consequently I was becoming increasingly uncomfortable as the days flowed by (or not as the case may be). Last Saturday, I was becoming desperate. Apart from the laxative the clinic gave me, my wife Diana, a.k.a. She Who Must Be Obeyed, descended upon the ward in full force and fed me with a double espresso, six dosages of Movicol, a quantity of fresh fruit salad, four packets of prunes and then the staff nurse inserted a couple of gelatin suppositories for good measure. Everybody decided to take cover and the result after an excruciating twenty-minute wait was, nothing!

I awoke on Sunday morning feeling as if I would burst and was examined by Mr. Sengar again. It was decided that the gelatin suppositories would be attempted again and if they were not to have the desired effect then there was dark mutterings suggesting the use of phosphorous suppositories which mentally suggested a picture of Hades itself. It was but a short time when the staff nurse reappeared with the said gelatin suppositories which were duly inserted much as I expected a soldier would load his musket with a vigorous quantity of black powder, wadding and lead shot, all of which was strongly tamped into the muzzle using the longest and straightest of ram rods. I then waited and waited and waited some more. Suddenly I heard and experienced a gurgling sensation from my lower abdominal area and I moved with alacrity from the bed to the throne and there I sat as the gurgling increased its intensity. I felt as if I was sitting atop a Titan moon rocket and it was T minus 10 and the engines had been ignited. At T minus seven torrents of steam were exploding across the launch pad and then it was five, four, three, two, one, lift off! I swear, that due the full force of mother nature, I hovered above the toilet seat for a fraction of a second. Then, gravity reclaimed my body together with the spent fuel that had duly been emitted by my personal rocket motor. For those of you who can remember, the jubilant scenes in mission control after a successful rocket launch, that would be but a vicarage tea party, compared to what happened on Ward 3 at The Christie Clinic! Now, dear reader, I will be returning to the Christie Clinic tomorrow and all being well my catheter will be plucked from my body and I will no longer have an external plastic bladder attached to my right thigh gently swishing as I stroll around the estate.

Until my next post, Toodleoo!

Six and a half hours in surgery and I didn’t feel a thing!

I had my surgery yesterday (August 28) and I must admit its a bit of a blur. I arrived at The Christie Clinic at about 6.30 am and as my appointment time was before regular hours I was received by the cheerful security team and shown to my room on the third floor. I had just unpacked my bag, pajamas, toiletries, slippers,two novels, MacBook Pro, iPad, 2 external hard drives, internet telephone and a portable scanner when Sister Vicky welcomed me. After a spot of paperwork, my BP, temperature and pulse was taken and then my calf and thigh were measured for some very attractive white tights that I will have to wear for the next 28 days. Needless to say it won’t be the same pair of white tights just in case you were wondering. I was then visited by my anesthetist  and I signed my life away yet again. He then went on to explain the procedure in detail but the short version is that I would be operated in an inverted position on an inclined board so my head would be lower than my legs. Thankfully , I have no memory of this as I was fast asleep. I was then greeted by my consultant, Mr. Vijay Ramani, and walked me through towards the preparation room. There was a slight delay in entering the preparation as the fire alarm went off and rang for what felt like a considerable time (apparently there was a faulty sensor in one of the path labs at the far end of the complex in another building!). You could say that they were “Ringing out the bells for me and my prostate” but it doesn’t seem to scan that well!

On entering the preparation room  I was positioned on a level board and duly anesthetized and then my arms and legs were bound to stop them getting in the way. It was either that or the nurse had been reading “Fifty Shades of Grey”. Obviously, I have no memory of the procedure or being taken into the recovery room some six and a half hours later. My next memory is a somewhat drowsy recollection of being back in my bed and my good lady wife, Diana, a.k.a. She Who Must Be Obeyed helping me to drink water and then later a cup of tea. I was reasonably comfortable even though I had a drain in from the operation and a catheter fitted but I was exceptionally thirsty and drank copious quantities of water and tea. I was then fitted with a pair of compression “boots” which gently compressed the calfs in an alternate manner. I was also hooked up to a morphine pump which was really good! The idea was and it worked very well in practise, that as the anesthesia wore off and I became slightly uncomfortable I just had to push a button and get a shot of some really good stuff! Diana a.k.a She Who Must Be Obeyed, was particularly happy to press the button often. However, the pump was set up in a controlled manner so I could not overdose on on the product no matter how hard Diana tried!

I don’t remember too much about last night other than I awoke a few times feeling very thirsty but having drank some water and hitting the good stuff I quickly drifted off the sleep.

This morning I came round which is probably a better way than saying I awoke. Today has been a busy day and started with a very early visit from the urology team who announced that my operation had been successful and so I’m now in the recovery phase. The prostate has been sent to the laboratory for analysis. My cannulas have been removed and I’m now on oral pain medication and I’m feeling fairly comfortable and getting used to the attached bag which shouldn’t be there for too long a period (probably about a month). It reminds me of an old Billy Connelly story of two family members on holiday and one said to the other “I’m sure that I can here the surf beating on the beach” and the reply was “Nah! That’s just granddad walking down the corridor!”

It’s amazing who you meet here. I was talking to Ibrahim who was cleaning my room earlier today. He lost his entire family in war torn Somalia including, he thought, his one year old son, some fifteen years ago. However, The British Red Cross found his son eight years ago and they have made a new life for themselves here in England. I went for a walk with Ibrahim along the hospital corridor and we were looking at the photographs that adorned the walls of Manchester scenes. Areas of the city centre that I take for granted but Ibrahim was radiating pride in his city and his new country. In turn it made me proud to be part of Great Britain.

I have to have an injection in the subcutaneous layer of my stomach every day for the next 28 days. She Who Must Be Obeyed got very excited by this as Diana will have to this when I’m at home. So, this evening, with an excited gleam in her eye and under the watchful supervision of the lovely nurse Roxanne, Diana duly approached this task with some vigour. Diana approached with arm raised high and duly plunged the needle into my stomach where she quickly depressed the plunger andministering the chemical that will help me to avoid clotting. I must say that She Who Must Be Obeyed appeared to hugely  enjoy this procedure and is already looking forward to tomorrows administartion!

Finally and on a more serious note. It is my beleif that early screening is a major key in the battle to beat Prostate Cancer. So, who do you know that’s male and is aged between 45 and 120? If you feel that its appropiate please share this blog with them.

Until my next post, Toddleoo!

I have Prostate Cancer!

I have Prostate Cancer and you have no idea how lucky I feel!

What! Do I hear you say. Let me explain. Just over four years ago my wife, Diana a.k.a She Who Must Be Obeyed, and I decided to buy a holiday home. The final decision was between southern Spain and south-west Florida in the USA. We elected for Lakewood Ranch a small town which may become a city just outside Sarasota on the Gulf of Mexico. Having moved in we were able to create a network of friends very easily for the following reasons:

  1. “She Who Must Be Obeyed” is a very chatty individual.
  2. I, am windswept & interesting.
  3. Most Americans speak a type of English which is relatively easy to understand.

The important thing is this as our friendships grew and after dinner conversations became more than just superficial we became aware that many of our American friends took health screening very seriously indeed. Therefore, for the last three years both She Who Must Be Obeyed and I have elected to be screened privately. I have to say that in my case the word elected would have to be considered advisedly as any suggestion made by She Who Must Be Obeyed would be ignored at one’s peril.

Now please don’t start sending sympathy messages to me about my condition. Please read this blog as I hope that it may just help someone if I share my ongoing experiences as I travel this road and on the way, I hope to make people aware that this disease is treatable. Right at the outset I need to make it clear that I have no medical qualifications of any description. The only connection I have with this disease is that I currently have a cancer residing in the left hand side of my prostate. So how did I find out?

A few short weeks ago we sadly lost a dear colleague who passed on at age 53. This came as a shock and Diana reminded me that I had not had a PSA test for just over 12 months. I had recently read in The Daily Telegraph that PSA tests were now available to those over sixty years of age free on The National Health Service and as I qualify (I’m sixty four on my next birthday), hard to believe I know, I decided to visit my local GP (for the benefit of my American readers, Primary Care Physician). Having presented myself and announced my request, my doctor started to explain that the PSA test is somewhat controversial. I’m afraid I had to interrupt him and remind him that I had already had two previous tests and he then relaxed down and I duly had my blood test. Let’s not misunderstand my doctor. Here in England the PSA test is deemed controversial as it can bring forward false positives (indicating you may have cancer) and lead to unnecessary further investigation. However, as far as I’m aware it’s the only blood test that will give an indication if something is going on. Needless to say when my results came back my numbers were higher than the previous year (2.3 increased to 5.6) and although still considered low because of the large increase within a relatively short period my GP referred me to Mr. Vijay Ramani who is a consultant specializing in this area and related matters.

A couple of days later Mr. Ramani gave me a physical examination at The Alexandra Hospital in Cheadle, Cheshire including the dreaded rectal examination. This is not the most pleasant experience that I have ever encountered but it’s very rapid lasting about fifteen seconds. From this examination Mr. Ramani was able to determine that my prostate was quite hard on one side and therefore I was booked in for a biopsy which took place at The Christie Clinic in Manchester on July 24.

My biopsy was my first experience of the Christie Clinic which is a private hospital attached to the NHS hospital. My arrival time was at 7am and having duly parked my car in the private patients area and walking through the main hospital I arrived at the Christie clinic. My appointment time was before the official opening hours so to get into the ward was a little more complex than I had envisaged but I eventually arrived at the ward and was greeted by the very pleasant and friendly staff and shown to my room. I’ve stayed in worse hotel rooms (see posts about my Vegas trip elsewhere on this blog). My room was spacious with a hardwood floor, cream colored walls and had the most complicated newfangled entertainment system I’ve ever seen! The ensuite bathroom was big enough for communal bathing and everywhere was absolutely spotless. Shortly a nurse appeared and having gone through the usual admission paperwork I was asked to disrobe and put on a “Theatre Gown”. Whenever I have had to wear one of these not so chic items of apparel I’m always reminded of that magnificent film “As Good As it Gets” starring Jack Nicholson and the scene where he’s walking down the hospital corridor and the rear of the gown is open to sufficiently expose his butt. Not long after this ritual dressing ceremony my consultant Mr. Ramani came to my room and escorted me a short way along the corridor to the theatre room where my biopsy was due to be carried out and was introduced to two very jolly nurses. This procedure was carried out under local anesthetic so I was completely aware of what was going on and able to chat with the two jolly nurses while the procedure was carried out. In layman’s terms a probe is inserted up your bum that has a camera and a hook. Every now and then I felt the hook scratch my prostate when it took a sample. Although I was aware of the sensation it was painless. After the sample was taken there was an immediate loud “crack” which was reminiscent of a child’s cap gun going off. The sort of gun I used to have when I used to pretend to be Marshall Matt Dillon while I made my hapless friend play the part of Chester who had to have an authentic limp. If you’re to young to remember “Gunsmoke” on black and white TV you may have no idea what I’m writing about! The noise was made by the machine as it pulled the sample that was taken through the tube and was duly labelled and packaged by one of the jolly nurses. For more information of this test have a look at http://www.royalmarsden.nhs.uk/cancer-information/types/prostate-cancer/pages/diagnosis.aspx The procedure didn’t take very long and I was returned to my room. After an hour had passed and I had been fed and watered, been to the bathroom I was discharged and I returned home.

I then had a couple of weeks to wait for the results so Diana and I journeyed to our vacation home in Lakewood Ranch to relax and wait. The waiting, up to now, has been the hardest thing that I’ve had to do. There was one day when I felt so low that I have to admit I had a bit of a cry but my good lady pulled me round and we got on with the day.

When Mr. Ramani telephoned me to say that the biopsy showed that I had prostate cancer and that it was “eminently treatable and curable” I felt releived as the wait was over and now we could get on and make a plan. Flights were re-booked and we returned to the UK and sat down with Mr. Ramani on August 20 to decide upon a course of treatment. While waiting for our flights I was able to speak with Patricia and Jonathan who are a couple that we know in Sarasota. Jonathan is in recovery from Prostate cancer and I’m indebted to him for sharing his experience and to his wife for lending me a marvelous book “Prostate Cancer for Dummies” (authored by Paul H Lange, MD. ISBN 978-0-7645-1974-1). The conversation that I had with Jonathan, coupled with my reading and our consultation with Mr. Ramani led Diana and I to decide upon a Radical Robotic Prostatectomy. Have a look at http://www.christie.nhs.uk/the-foundation-trust/treatments-and-clinical-services/clinical-services/surgery/robotic-radical-prostatectomy.aspx which gives a very good overview.

The wheels were now set in motion with a date fixed for the operation for next Tuesday August 28. Yesterday August 23 I had to attend the Christie Clinic for a pre-operative assessment.

On arrival at the Christie their car park is being rebuilt and the code number that I had been given to access the private patients car park was incorrect. However, by the time I had actually found the reception area of the Christie Clinic not to be confused, as I did, with the main hospital reception I was duly greeted by the receptionist, Wanda (pronounced Vanda in a strong Germanic accent) in a very pleasant waiting area. Very modern, light wood floors, leather chairs, cream walls which generated a pleasant airy feeling. Paperwork being duly completed and  after a very short wait I was duly welcomed by Nurse Jed who radiated good humour and took me down the corridor to an examination room for the beginning of the pre-op assessment where I was asked questions about my diet and general well being. During the questioning Nurse Jed asked me if I had any hearing problems. I, of course, responded with “Pardon” and then Jed repeated his question at a higher volume. He then realized that he had fallen for the oldest gag in the book which I think he enjoyed as much as I did.  While Jed was going through the questionnaire his colleague, nurse Patricia, took some blood (painless) and swabs from my nose and throat. I was then asked if I needed to go to the bathroom to self swab my groin or should they just draw the curtain. This seemed a bit silly to me so we went for the curtain option which then jammed in the track and duly tore. Hilarious! A discusssion then ensued as to where a support strut should be installed to allow the curtain to glide freely. My next task was to give a urine sample which is always something I find difficult to do at the drop of a hat, so to speak.  While waiting I then had an ECG and afterwards nurse Patricia removed the pads from my slightly hairy chest that suggested to me that Nurse Patricia had been reading “50 Shades of Grey” which she denied vigorously but I’m not so sure.  We went on to discuss the admissions procedure for next Tuesday (suggested arrival time of 7:15) and I will have the op on that day and may be discharged on Thursday but more than likely Friday and if not then it would be on Sunday. After a cup of tea and a biscuit and several glasses of water I produced the required specimen. I then had a conversation with the duty doctor who introduced himself as Iqbal and we went through my medical history and he answered a number of questions that I had, such as what happens with my current medications etc. It was during this conversation that I learnt that this clinic performs about 5 robotic radical prostatectomies a week!

This morning, August 24 I attended the Nuclear Medicine Department at The Alexandra Hospital in Cheadle, Cheshire for a bone scan. At 9 am I was injected with a radioactive marker and then told to go away and come back three hours later when my photographs would be done. Having left the Alexandra Hospital after a hearty breakfast in their canteen I took my newly radioactive body for a walk down the high street. I had this vision that as I walked past shops and offices, lights would flicker and clocks would stutter in the fashion of that fantastic magician Dynamo. Of course, what actually happened was nothing. So, at 12 noon I returned my radio active body to the Nuclear Medicine Department for my photo shoot which took sometime. I’m pleased to say that nothing untoward was discovered in this process and my body will lose it’s radioactive powers by tomorrow morning!

This weekend, provided the weather is clement, I intend to visit the Cheshire Show. So, if you see a slightly glowing body it might just be me!

If you feel this blog is appropiate please circulate it to all the men that you know and all the ladies that you know,

who know men!

Until my next post. Toodleloo!




The last day of my road trip was a six-hour journey home through pleasant scenery that I have already described in my “Day One” post. During the latter part of my journey I kept receiving a number of calls from my dearly beloved Diana (a.k.a. She Who Must Be Obeyed) as to what my estimated time of arrival would be and towards the end of the journey I deduced that something was going on. Well to my great delight on turning into Hyacinth Place I was greeted by a finishing line “Welcome Home Banner” and sign written road created by Miss Lindsay and cheered by the Hyacinth Place Welcome Home Committee and of course, She Who Must Be Obeyed! Having been duly de-briefed by the committee it was time to unpack the car have a good dinner and then time to reflect on my trip but first for the techies out there mileage covered today was 458.8 miles at an average speed of 66.7 mph and achieved a fuel economy of 23.1 mpg. The total mileage covered for the entire trip was 5,721 miles and my overall fuel economy was just over 20 mpg which was remarkable.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the entire trip and I’m going to reflect upon my entire journey over the next couple of days and, if I may, dear reader, I will publish my last post with my conclusions in a couple of days. So, until my next post, Toodleloo!

Naval Live Oaks A 30 lb Red Fish On My Penultimate Day

Sunday May 6.

I’m on my way on my penultimate day leaving Slidell, Louisiana at 8.45 on a lovely sunny, blue skied morning and the temperature has already climbed to 76F (24.44C) and soon I join my old friend I-10 going east. About 45 minutes later I have crossed the state line into Mississippi and it must have been raining quite hard earlier on as the highway is pretty damp and spray is being kicked up by the vehicles ahead of me. However, the sky is clear and all is well as 75 miles later I cross over the Pascagoula river basin which is a large area that from the elevated highway spreads almost as far as the eye can see. To the south I can just see an industrial area of some kind with some shipping and to the north it’s swampland and near the horizon it appears to become forested. Eighty seven miles into my journey and I have left Mississippi and crossed into Alabama. One hundred and thirty miles and I see the impressive skyline of Mobile and shortly enjoy a view of the Battleship SS Alabama which I described earlier in my blog and you can view the photographs in my photostream on Flickr, please see the panel on the right hand side of this blog. Having passed Battleship Park I get a great view of the river flowing into the Gulf of Mexico which I did not see at the beginning of my journey as it can only be seen from this side of the highway! The Gulf is at peace, it’s an absolute flat calm without a ripple troubling the boaters out there enjoying the water. One hundred and fifty-four miles on and I have crossed the state line into Florida and I now recognise that this is my penultimate day of my road trip and I suddenly feel excited at the prospect of seeing Diana (a.k.a. She Who Must Be Obeyed) and arriving back in Lakewood Ranch tomorrow but now back on with the day. At Pensacola I leave the Interstate system and take the coastal road heading for todays destination of Panama City Beach. En route I pass through the small town of Gulf Breeze and I’m motoring on a two lane highway through the Naval Live Oak Reservation. This area was designated in 1828 by President Quincy Adams as the First Federal Tree Farm. This was an important area at that time as the Live Oak, which is a member of the beech family was used in the construction of tall ships. As many as two thousand Live Oaks were used to make one hull for a naval vessel!  As I continue along US 98 the landscape becomes a strip development of hotels and shops with an occasional view of the gulf.

A little further on I leave US98 and cross over a causeway bridge to Navarre and having parked the car I pay the princely sum of $1 for the privilege of walking along the lengthy fishing pier that was constructed in 2010. As I commence my $1 walk I view from the pier on my right hand side a bunch of not very attractive high-rise condominiums and to my left a brilliant white busy beach filled with the Sunday afternoon crowd relaxing, taking some rays! This part of the Gulf of Mexico is fed by a current that brings a prolific quantity of nutrients which colours the water a lovely shade of green which gives rise to the nickname for this part of the coast as “The Emerald Coast”. The throng of anglers on the pier are having a very busy time as they haul in what almost seems to be one fish after another and as I walk towards the end of the pier I find myself dodging anglers making their casts. The flying rods seem to be landing fish with a resounding thump at my feet as I continue to tread delicately over the writhing fish before they are scooped up by the anglers, de-hooked and returned to the ocean deep. I have just encountered an angler who has just returned a 35 pound Redfish to the sea as it was too big to keep! The angler would only be permitted to keep his catch of this variety provided the fish weighed not less than 18 pounds and not more that 27 pounds so, over the side of the pier this one went. Well, that not strictly true. This huge fish was gently lowered in a net to the ocean beneath the pier and then released from its captivity and some people think this is fun! All in all I think my $1 fee was good value. However, if I had been a fisherman I would have had to have paid $2! A little further on I break for lunch at Beasley Park in Ocaloosee Island and sit in a pavilion overlooking the beach. Having enjoyed my lunch I continue my journey and arrive at my destination at Panama City Beach for the night and tomorrow I start my final day of my journey and I’m now looking forward to returning to my American home.

For the techies out there mileage covered today was 290.1 at an average of 46.4 mpg and achieved 22.2 mpg.

Until my next post, Toodleoo!

New Orleans

This morning I had a lazy lie in followed by a run and now at 9:45 I have left Slidell and on my way to New Orleans and the temperature is already 83F (28.33C).I enter New Orleans by crossing a very long bridge over Lake Portrain and stopped at The Basin Street Visitor Information Centre and as my time is limited I had a chat with a very nice lady who gave me the essential list to see and I managed to do most of it!

I have taken quite a lot of photographs today so below is just a sample and the rest can be viewed by clicking on “More Photos” in the Flickr panel on the right hand side.

My first stop is to walk across the street to the St. Louis Cemetery which was certainly unusual and I was particularly struck by a pyramid shaped tomb which was greatly admired! I returned to my car and drove through part of the French Quarter and parked down by the river.

It’s now really very hot as I start my walk through the French Quarter which has an interesting architecture and is full of bars, restaurants, tourist shops etc. However, this generally very attractive place is marred by an all pervading offensive odor of rotting waste which made me feel very queasy. The people who were eating and drinking there must have a stronger stomach than me! I made it back to the river in time to take a two hour cruise on the steam boat Natches that had a live Jazz band where I had an adequate lunch. The cruise took us down through the port of New Orleans which, according to the narrator was the largest in the world in terms of tonnage, Amsterdam in Holland being number 2 and New York number 3. It was certainly an industrial area but I’m not convinced that his figures may be entirely accurate. In any event it was a pleasant respite being able to sit in the shade with a glass of iced tea as the industrial scene slipped by. It was an interesting experience and not at all what I had expected.

Having left the ferry it was the end of my day in New Orleans and I decided to return to my hotel in Slidell rather than spend the evening in New Orleans in order to be away from the smell of the French Quarter.

For the techies out there mileage today was 67.9 miles at an average speed of 31.6 mph and achieved 21.3 mpg.

Until my next post, Toodleloo!

Slidell Sweet Potato Stuffed With Cinnamon Butter With Melted Roast Marshmallows.

Friday 4 May.

Today was my second longest drive of the trip and unfortunately, the most uneventful. I left Dallas just after 9 am with the temperature at 73F in heavy traffic. After 175 miles I’ve crossed over from Texas to Louisiana and shortly afterwards I stop at a Louisiana rest area and information centre. Louisiana takes tourism seriously and every centre I’ve visited has been well presented with helpful staff and always free, freshly brewed, excellent coffee. This state is much greener that the parts of Texas that I’ve driven through and much prettier. For a more detailed description of this part of my route please refer to my earlier post “Houston, We have a problem!” Finally I reached my destination Slidell after a very long drive. At the hotel I decided to dine at the restaurant next door but we had a power outage that affected the entire block. So, by accident I ended up dining at The Texas Roadhouse. I sat at the bar having walked across thousands of peanut shells on the floor and was greeted by Steve the barman who must have been an ex marine. He was certainly built like one and at the end of every sentence, conducted at parade ground volume he would finish off with a very loud “Yes Suh!” However, my steak was excellent and the sweet potato stuffed with cinnamon butter and then covered in melted roasted marshmallows (Steve’s recommendation) was indescribable and I left the restaurant several pounds heavier.

For the techies out there the mileage covered today was 541.8 at an average of 62.9 mph and achieved 23.7mpg.

Until my next post, Toodleoo!

Cadillac Ranch, The Other Memphis & A Tornado Shelter!

Today has been one of my best drives of this road trip so far! Probably because very little of it was on the Interstate network and I saw some interesting stuff and met some fascinating people.

My day started late as I had a bit of a lazy lie in bed and did not leave the hotel until 09:50. My first stop was just four miles away at The Cadillac Ranch in Potter County, Texas. This is a public art installation and sculpture in Amarillo, Texas, U.S. It was created in 1974 by Chip Lord, Hudson Marquez and Doug Michels, who were a part of the art group Ant Farm, and it consists of what were (when originally installed during 1974) either older running used or junk Cadillac automobiles, representing a number of evolutions of the car line (most notably the birth and death of the defining feature of mid twentieth century Cadillacs; the tail fin) from 1949 to 1963, half-buried nose-first in the ground, at an angle corresponding to that of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. I lifted this information from the font of all knowledge “Wikipedia” and I have my doubts as to the accuracy of the angle that these cars have been buried. However, I took several photographs of this installation and you can see some of them below and others on my Flickr photo stream. Just click on the “More Photos” link in the Flickr panel on the right hand side of this blog. You would really help me dear reader if you would leave your comment on the Flickr site as to which of these Cadillac photos you like as I’m having a tough time picking just one!

Forty minutes later and I’m now on route for Dallas having thoroughly enjoyed walking around the graffiteed Cadillacs and on the slip road at 10:45 I saw a puppy dog standing over a lawn sprinkler cooling off and then nonchalantly walking off with a good shake. Thirty miles later and I have left the I-40 east and joined the US 287 South in the direction of Fort Worth. On either side of this dual split highway lies rolling green pastureland as far as the eye can see with an occasional small herd of cattle doing what comes naturally. Later the pasturelands change to newly planted very well irrigated wheat fields.

I decided to have a walk around a very small town named Claude and spotted a beautiful library building almost opposite which could only be described as a somewhat decrepit city hall. I noticed that discreetly tucked in the corner of the library was a portable barbecue, see if you can spot in the photograph and it made me wonder what the librarian was having for lunch! Leaving Claude the scenery changed as the landscape to my north became dotted with giant rolls of hay and to my south ploughed land planted and irrigated by those long metal structures that remind me of a wing from an ancient biplane.

Ninety miles into my journey I stopped at the Donley County Safety Rest Area to answer the call of nature and afterwards I walked around the information centre which was very well laid out and presented. You can see a couple of pictures of the interior of this information centre on my Flickr photostream.

My next port of call was just down the road at Memphis, Texas not too be confused with the one in Tennessee! I was walking around the red pavered road taking some pictures of this small pretty town and I noticed a bumper sticker “I STOP FOR QUAIL”. Now that’s not the sort of thing you see in England every day and I stopped to photograph it. Just at that moment the lady owner of the vehicle popped out of a shop and spoke with me. This charming lady of indeterminate years invited me in to see her art collection that was being hung in preparation for a sale at the weekend. While viewing this most attractive collection of western paintings (some were better than others) another lady entered the emporium and was introduced to me. This lady became very excited upon meeting me and it’s fair to say that it’s not that often I have that affect upon members of the opposite sex! However, when this lady invited me to come with her next door to sign her visitors book I understood that it was in her capacity as the office manager of the Memphis Chamber of Commerce. We had a pleasant conversation while I duly signed her book and Susan McQueen, for that is her name, told me that she would relay our meeting to the members of the chamber at the next meeting. I don’t think an awful lot goes on in this pretty little town but in listening to Susan’s enthusiasm I’m sure things will change. As an example there is a very pretty historical hotel which is currently being refurbished so perhaps that town in Tennessee may have to rely a little more than just Elvis to remain the one that everybody remembers!

Leaving Memphis I noticed that it was 102F (38.89C) and was soon on my journey with fields of ploughed red earth either side of the highway which soon gives way to fields of golden wheat which is very picturesque. I stopped for lunch at The Dairy Queen in Childress (population 6,109) and suffered a near edible grilled sandwich of the famous rubber chicken variety.

After 166 miles on I stopped at Hardman County Safety Rest Area for a quick break and was comforted to note that this particular rest area boasted a tornado shelter which was about the size of a large utility room in a modern home. I suppose that if one of those frightening phenomena are bearing down upon you it doesn’t matter how cosy it would get in the shelter! Thirty miles later and I drive through a small town called Vernon. This must have been a massive seed producing area as within the town there is a huge factory reminiscent of a Lancashire cotton mill that was called the Crown Seed Company. Massive towers, broken windows, rusting machinery and a general air of dilapidation.

After 238 miles I’m now approaching Wichita Falls and I have joined the I-44 west and the skyline of this sizable town is ahead of me. The Interstate system took me over and through Wichita Falls and I am now traveling along US 82 East. Just over 330 miles into my drive and I have joined TX114 which will take me into Dallas which is about 40 miles away. This last piece of my journey is conducted in rush hour traffic and I’m pleased when I arrive at my hotel and I promise myself a soak in the bath!

For the techies among you the mileage covered today was 371.2 at an average speed of 59.4 mph and achieved 23.9 mpg.


Until my next post, Toodleoo!

I’m On My Way To Amarillo da, da.

Wednesday May 2.

Well did you sing the title? Originally recorded by Tony Christi, and then by Sir Tom Jones latterly by Peter Kaye and now you! Now that I’ve planted that seed I bet that tune will be rattling around your head for the rest of the day! I left Gallup just after 9am (Mountain Standard Time) and Gallup is not the sort of place one would wish to stay in for any length of time so I’m pleased to be on my journey. My journey today takes me east along I-40 and fortunately it runs parallel to or near to historic route 66 and I’m able to divert from one to the other as the mood takes me. Route 66 is a simple highway, one lane in each direction and therefore, is a lot slower than the modern Interstate system but on the Interstate you just don’t see as much stuff. Fortunately, route 66 carries very little traffic and that allows you to stop and stare.

My route starts on the I-40 and having left Gallup I’m soon barreling along through the Rockies and the scenery is dramatic. Red sandstone bluffs on either side of me with a prairie in between and its easy to imagine this as cowboy country. Soon I see a sign for The Continental Divide and decide to investigate. I pull off route 66 at the sign and take in the view and if you have a look at the photographs below and also by clicking on “more photos” in the Flickr panel on the right hand side, you will see the divide. I’m facing north so the rain that falls to my right (east) will drain towards the Atlantic and that which falls on my left goes west towards the Pacific. This is a first for me as I don’t think I have ever straddled a continental divide before.

Seventy miles on the landscape has become dominated by limestone rather than sandstone and I’ve passed a number of farmsteads but the land is so poor I have no idea how they make their living. Having travelled about 100 miles on a mixture of both highways I leave the I-40 again for the 66 to investigate a small town called Old Laguna. This tiny ramshackle town is comprised mainly of adobe style dwellings and would appear to be populated by native Americans, have a look at the photograph below and on my Flickr photo stream.

After journeying for 200 miles I stopped at a rest station and look back west and its obvious that I have now left the Rockies and I’m traveling through pastureland of a sort as it appears to be very dry. Later I stopped at the world famous “Clines Corners” although I must admit until now I had never heard of it and having replenished the tank in my Corvette and my inner tank with a 6 inch Subway I had a look around their world famous store full of moccasins, boots and other stuff that I didn’t know that I needed and still don’t!

Shortly after leaving Clines Corners the scenery changed to Pine forrest and 88 miles further on I’m surrounded by red stone bluffs and I’ve seen a sign for Lake Conchas state park. It was 24 miles off my route but I decided to go and have a look and turned on the 66 and was confronted with a derelict filling station (see the picture below) and I’m now heading north on a deserted road. Soon I reach Lake Conchas which must have been made by building a dam and there is no one around but there is signs of boating, marina storage etc. The lake is pretty low and I’m feel that I’m at a fairly decent altitude but the whole place is deserted and very windy. I leave Lake Conchas traveling east on NM 104. I have descended from Lake Concas and reached a village called Tucari which is at an elevation of 4000 feet.

Back on the I-40 east and having journeyed for 399 miles I have left New Mexico and entered Texas and changed time zones from Mountain Standard Time to Central Time. Finally I reach my hotel in Amarillo feeling a little weary but pleased with the experiences of the day!

For the techies out there. Mileage covered today was 458.3 at an average speed of 64.4 mph and achieved 24.3 mpg.

Las Vegas to Gallup, New Mexico via The South Rim at The Grand Canyon, Arizona

Tuesday May 1.

This will be one of those days that will be inevitably etched in my mind. After bidding a fond farewell to my lovely wife, Diana a.k.a. She Who Must Be Obeyed. I took my leave of the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas and set forth for Gallup in New Mexico via The South Rim of The Grand Canyon in Arizona. My journey started eastwards on the I-215 under bright overcast conditions and having reached Boulder City and turning right onto the I-93 near The Hoover Dam I observed spectacular red rock scenery. Suddenly having gone around a fairly decent bend in the road an impressive vista of Lake Mead hove into view (for pictures please see my previous post “A Dam’ Fine Excursion) and having covered just over 34 miles I have left Nevada and entered Arizona. After a total of 46 miles I stopped at a scenic overview on the Nevada Highway and enjoyed a wondrous view of the Colorado River (see picture below). I stopped to fill the Corvette up at Kingman just before turning east on the I-40 at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and opposite the filling station stood a rather rickety gaming establishment which I was reliably informed by the filling station cashier “Wuz where all them big guns hung aat”.

After about 150 miles I’m on a high plateau in the Rockies and the excellent scenery that is rolling by the window is a mixture of pasture land, forested areas, scrub and some horse country. The plateau descends into a tiny town on route 66 called Ashfork and I decided to visit the museum. The museum is free and I am encouraged by a member of staff who outnumber the visitor (me) by 4 to 1 and I peruse the exhibits which were of interest. I particularly enjoyed the fire engine and for this and other photographs please click on “More Photos” in the Flickr panel on the right hand side of this blog and then navigate to day 14. After leaving Ashfork and nearing the turn off for the road which will lead me to the South Rim of The Grand Canyon the scenery changes and becomes reminiscent of the Alpine scenery one would find in the Austrian Tyrol on a summers day. At 221 miles I have turned north onto AZ 64 and am headed up to The Grand Canyon. The road steadily climbs and the road runs through a pine forest and the aroma is gorgeous. I’m beginning to hum snatches from Elgar’s Variations, it’s just that sort of road.

Finally I arrive at the entrance to the park and I notice that the entry fee is $25. So, I reach for my wallet and get out the plastic and my Florida driving license for photo ID. The very nice park ranger makes the assumption that I’m a 63 year old Floridian and therefore I just pay $10 entry fee and receive a pass that now entitles me to free entry to all the national parks in the USA for life and that also covers anyone (up to three people) in my car! What a bargain! I commence my 13 mile journey along the South Rim and to say that it’s spectacular is an understatement. It takes me more than two hours to cover this paltry distance and I wish that I had much more time to spend in this beautiful place.It is indeed, one of the wonders of the world and if you can’t get there soon, then please have a look at all the photographs that I have taken on Day 14 of my Flickr photo stream. I have to say that I think my photographs are pretty good and please leave some comments on them and be sure to tell me which one you think is the best one. I’m having a very tough time trying to make the choice!

All too soon I leave The Grand Canyon and at mile 309 I’m driving south-east on my way to Flagstaff and then onto Gallup. At mile 343 I’m on the US 89 and I’m skirting The Painted Desert and once more I wish I had time to stop and stare. I reach Flagstaff after a total of 389 miles and pick up the I-40 east towards Gallup and I’m at an elevation of 6000 feet and that’s after I have descended from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon! I continue my downward journey and after another 35 miles I’ve dropped a further 1000 feet and I’m in Geronimo country. I’m about 80 miles west of Gallup and the scenery puts me straight into a cowboy movie. You expect to see teeming herds of Buffalo and hordes of native Americans between the flat topped eroded mesa’s on either side of the roadway and that big band theme tune from “The Big Country” is rattling around in my head followed by the whistling “The Good, The Bad & The Ugly”. I’m now off the I-40 and on historic route 66 as the sun is setting behind my left shoulder and I begin to feel like a High Plains Drifter. Oh! very cherooted Clint Eastwood indeed, as I leave Arizona and enter New Mexico. At long last I arrive at my hotel in Gallup which is a town that you would just spend one night in because you’re too tired to travel any further. Tomorrow I’m going to get my kicks on route 66!

For the techies amongst you the mileage covered was 559.5 at an average speed of 61.2 mph and I achieved 23.7 mpg.

Until my next post, Toodleoo!

Last Day at The Bellagio

Monday April 30.

Today is our last full day at The Bellagio and Diana, a.k.a. She Who Must Be Obeyed, and I have throughly enjoyed our time here. We spent the day relaxing around the Cypress Pool (very large sumptuous sun loungers) and had a quiet dinner together. Tomorrow, Tuesday May 1, Diana flies to Miami and then drives to Lakewood Ranch near Sarasota in south-west Florida while I start my 2500 mile return car journey. My first stop will be Gallup in New Mexico after visiting The South Rim of The Grand Canyon in Arizona.

Until my next post, Toodleoo!

Thrills, Spills, Snow And A Show.

Sunday 29 May

Having gently awoken She Who Must Be Obeyed from her sonorous slumber and having enjoyed a healthy breakfast (orange juice, muesli, coffee and a huge croissant laden with butter and preserve) we put best foot forward and in no time we had collected my Corvette from the valet. A gentle drive down Las Vegas Boulevard on a Sunday morning brought us to our destination, The Stratosphere! We took the lift (elevator for my American readers) which speedily rose the 1,149 feet to the observation deck where we enjoyed the views over Las Vegas. Not only did we gaze in wonder at the wondrous panorama but at the congenital idiots that paid good money to be sent spinning out into the atmosphere on reputedly the highest roller coaster in the world. We were also amazed at the foolhardy that had forked out $149.00 to be attached to wire and then flung off the top of the building hurtling down to the ground 1,149 feet below. If you look closely at one of the photographs below you will see a person in a blue overall plummeting towards the earth’s surface allegedly seeking entertainment. To see a larger image just click on the photo or click on the Flickr links on the right hand side of this blog to see images of the day and navigate to Day 12.

By now the temperature in Las Vegas had risen to 87F (30.5C for my British readers) and we decided to drive out to Mt. Charleston about 40 miles away. We were soon climbing steadily enjoying the scenery and breathing in the pine laden scent which was superior to the artificial aroma emitted by some popular lavatory cleaning agents. We stopped for lunch at a ski lodge opposite Mt. Charleston Baptist Church (have you noticed that where there is a church there’s always a hostelry of some description?) at an elevation of 6000 feet and the temperature was a pleasant 65F (18.33C) although She Who Must Be Obeyed was making noises about getting her fur lined cape out of the boot (trunk) of the car! Fortunately, for all concerned, on this beautiful sunny day there was a blazing log fire inside the lodge! Continuing our healthy eating regime we lunched upon a chicken salad wrap accompanied with deep goose fat fried potatoes and to stay healthy we had unsweetened iced tea to which She Who Must Be Obeyed added a small quantity of aspartame.

After enjoying the vista from the terrace and being duly fortified we continued the assault on Mt. Charleston summit and we reached as far as we could go at an elevation of 8000 feet at the foot of the aptly named Cathedral Rock. By now the temperature was a refreshing 57F (13.89C) and She Who Must Be Obeyed retired to the heated seats of our chariot. It was amazing that within such a short distance one could leave the frenetic activity and desert temperatures of Las Vegas and enjoy such tranquil scenery and naturally pine scented fresh air! Please feel free to view todays photographs by clicking on “More Photos” in the Flickr panel on the right hand side of this blog.

We returned to our sumptuous room at the Bellagio in good time to change for our group dinner which was at the Milos restaurant at the Cosmopolitan. Then we were treated to the spectacular Cirque Du Soleil show in the “O” theatre at the Bellagio. I cannot find an adjective to describe this wonderful, ephemeral event (OK just two then) and I had to keep reminding myself that this 1800 seater theatre with its swimming pool set in the stage, that holds over a half million gallons of water is inside a hotel! This show was breathtaking and from now on I will look upon synchronised  swimming in a different light. If you ever get the chance to see this spectacle then go and enjoy!

Until my next post, Toodleloo!

Red Rocks and Fountains

Saturday 28th April

Today Diana (a.k.a. She Who Must Be Obeyed) and I had a very pleasant 30 mile drive to Red Rock Canyon and then followed a scenic loop of some 13 miles around the canyon. The colours are fabulous and as the name implies there is an abundance of red sandstone rock over limestone. The Keystone Thrust Fault is, on which this Canyon is part of, like the famous San Andreas Fault (a break between two major rock bodies along which the break is vertical) the Keystone is horizontal. It began as gray limestone layers were pushed east during the end of the age of dinosaurs and ultimately “ramped” up through Jurassic Aztec Sandstone. Estimates of total eastward movement along this fault are as high as 40 miles. No, I haven’t overnight become a geologist but gleaned this information from their web site http://www.redrockcanyonlv.org . However, the photographs are mine and please view the entire shoot by clicking on the Flickr link in the right hand panel of this blog and select the road trip day 11 set. This was a great day out and we thoroughly enjoyed the scenery.

Upon our return to the Bellagio Hotel I took the opportunity to stand, stare and gawp at the marvelous fountain show that take place at the front of the hotel every day from 4.30 pm until midnight at 15 minute intervals. You will have to imagine the most effective syncopated fountain, light and music show which was beautiful to perceive. Have a look at the photographs on my Flickr site.

To round off the day we attended our group dinner at Le Cirque restaurant and later we retired to bed happy, tired and overfed!

Until my next post, Toodleoo!

A Dam’ Fine Excursion

Friday 27 of April

We’re off with the group to a tour of The Hoover Dam. A monumental project that was finished in 1938 two years ahead of time and beneath budget!! Where have we gone wrong?

The coach ride out was through pleasant scenery and then upon arrival the coach and the assembled company was subjected to security which has only to be expected in today’s age. In a few minutes we were whisked down into the depths of The Hoover Dam where we were treated to an overview by the dam’ tour guide, Eric. While in this chamber we could feel the floor vibrate from the flow of water through one of the tunnels beneath, at an impressive speed likened to the emptying of 144 Olympic size swimming pools every minute! One side of the dam is in Nebraska and the other in Arizona and on each side, buried in the structure of the dam, lies nine monstrous turbines which generates electricity for well over a million homes in the area.

Having regained the surface and with the sun beating down upon collective bodies it was time for a stroll across the top of the dam. It was a pleasure to see a number of Morgan Sports cars roll by in convoy particularly as they are one of the last British hand made sports cars still in production!

Now it was time for lunch aboard a paddle steamer, The Dessert Princess, while we cruised Lake Mead which is the largest man made lake in the USA with a coast line of over 550 miles!

All too soon it was back on the coach and back to Vegas stopping at a chocolate factory that manufactured M&M’s. Having whizzed through the factory and dutifully munched my free sample I was able to spend some happy minutes in the Cactus Garden photographing some of the more unusual species.

On the way to our hotel we stopped at the famous Las Vegas sign and were able to get a group photograph underneath this illustrious structure. Back at the hotel there was just time for a quick shower and change and then we attended our gala dinner where a good time was had by all.

To see all the photographs that were taken on this day and some of them are really cool, just click on the Flickr link in the right hand side of this blog.

Until my next post, Toodleloo!

TV Stars, Fancy Cars & Showgirls

Dear Reader,

Many apologies for not posting my travel blog, in the last few days but it’s been so busy here in Las Vegas. So, let’s get down to the nitty gritty.

I awoke reasonably early on Thursday morning and decided that I needed to take advantage of this superb hotel’s (The Bellagio) gymnasium. On the way to the gym I had to walk through the Casino and I quickly found out that wherever you went in this hotel you had to walk through the Casino! To see folk playing cards, slot machines etc before seven o’clock in the morning was surreal but each to his (or her) own! Having pounded the treadmill for the regulatory forty-five minutes I was on my way back to our room through the Casino, of course, and I saw a gentleman playing cards wearing his gym kit. I couldn’t decide whether he was on the way to, or returning from, the gym or perhaps he was conducting a subterfuge in an attempt to fool his wife!

On retuning to the room my good lady wife, Diana, a.k.a. She Who Must Be Obeyed, was awake and ready for breakfast so a quick shower and being dutifully clothed by She Who Must Be Obeyed we broke bread.

Our first adventure was to visit a pawn shop. Not just any pawn shop but a very famous one. In case you have missed it there’s a TV show broadcast on the History Channel in the USA and in the UK that Diana and I have enjoyed entitled “Pawn Stars”. It’s a bit like The Antique’s Road Show but the valuers have the physique and dress sense of ex wrestlers but nonetheless we found the show to be fascinating & hugely entertaining. After carefully parking the Corvette in the shops car park we found ourselves standing in line awaiting to gain admission to the holy shrine of second hand bric a brac which was duly patrolled by a “doorman” who had the size and physique of a mature silver back orangutan. We were shocked when the said orangutan pulled us out of the line and with great deference and in soft spoken tones enquired whether we would like to enter the emporium immediately. We, of course, responded in the most positive and enthusiastic way, after all it’s not often that a giant of a man asks us to do his bidding! Entering the store came as a surprise and we were a little disappointed by the interior of the emporium as it was somewhat smaller than we expected and the articles on display could have done with a flick over with a feather duster but then we reminded ourselves that after all we were in a pawn shop!

Suddenly, a young man, artistically dressed in jeans, shirt, a small hat and sporting a careless cravat around his neck enquired of us whether we would like to appear on the TV show? She Who Must Be Obeyed immediately grasped the opportunity as en exercise in self promotion and agreed with alacrity. We were duly ushered to the back of the shop and the store was cleared of lesser mortals who were not required for this most important episode of this venerable artistic entertainment. The cravatted artistic young man then briefed the willing future international TV stars as to their duties and asked if there were any questions. Silence reigned and then She Who Must Be Obeyed arose to her full and not inconsiderable height and enquired in a stentorian voice  “What are the rates of pay?” The now flustered young man being unsure how to handle such a formidable negotiator quickly capitulated under the withering stare of S.W.M.B.O. Filming commenced and afterwards we were informed that the episode will be broadcast sometime during the next two months in the USA and at some point in time the UK! So, dear reader, my advice would be to set your DVR to record the entire series of this illustrious episode. We retuned to our hotel bathed in the light of our new found international stardom.

After morning coffee we were strolling around the beautiful swimming pool when we were hailed by our good friends Stephan and Georgia Longworth. The four of us have a love of classic cars and we had learned that there was an exhibition of them at The Imperial Hotel just down the “strip” and we gathered ourselves and took a short taxi ride to the said establishment. On our way to the exhibition, the largest in the world, housed on the fifth floor, and through the Casino we encountered and were entertained by legendary stars Tina Turner, Rod Stewart, and somebody called Prince who when not performing acted as croupiers! You can see their photographs and pictures of the day by clicking on “More Photos” in the Flickr panel on the right hand side of this blithering blog. Finally we gained access to this astonishing collection of machinery and stared in awe at a variety of vehicles some of them with impressive histories. Among them vehicles that had been owned, driven or used by President Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Bing Crosby and other notables. Most of the assembled vehicles on display were for sale and the total value exceeded two and a half million dollars! I took some photographs of the ones that caught my eye and you van view them together with a brief description on my Flickr site by clicking on “More Photos” in the panel on the right hand side.

Later that day we enjoyed a delightful dinner with our group at the renowned Strip House Steak Restaurant in the Planet Hollywood resort. After dinner Dr. Couchman and I were enjoying an excellent cup of coffee while Diana, encouraged by Katie Ostro enjoyed a free makeover and then on to an excellent variety show “Vegas” where we were treated to some fabulous dancing, singing and magic. This was not a show that would have ordinarily appealed to me but I really enjoyed it!

On the way back to our hotel I had a brief encounter with a lovely showgirl but I did remember the advice that I received from my son Matthew, “Dad, if a girl talks to you in Vegas, she’s working!”. At the end of our first day in Vegas, Diana and I retired to bed happy and knackered!

Until my next post, Toodleloo!

Viva Las Vegas!

I was up early this morning and out running just after 6 am and did my 3.2 miles. While I was out pounding the pavement I observed a youth of school age meandering along and when he reached the stop light he pushed the button in order to change the lights so that he could cross the road. However, on this long straight road there was no traffic in sight and the youth waited patiently for the light to change. Obviously, this young man has been so well trained that his decision powers will not stand in him good stead in later life!

By 8.45 am I was on the road having had an enjoyable evening at The Papago Inn, Scottsdale, AZ. It’s already 74F and overcast. My journey took me on US93 through Joshua Tree Parkway. A very enjoyable twisty, mountainous road with very unusual boulder formations and after 185 miles I joined  the I 40. At 276 miles I had crossed the border from Arizona into Nevada. This whole stretch of the I 40 in both states was besieged with radar speed traps awaiting the unsuspecting motorist.

I arrived at The Bellagio Hotel in Las vegas and was duly greeted by my good lady wife, Diana, a.k.a. She Who Must Be Obeyed and my car was emptied of luggage and duly whisked away before I could note today’s running statistics.

Having unpacked my bags in our very nice room Diana and I had a leisurely stroll and did a little light shopping! Light, in so far as the purchases did not weigh very much but quite heavy in other respects but when She Who Must Be Obeyed decides upon an article then my wallet seems to lose all sense of reason!

Tomorrow we have plans to visit somewhere famous but very unique!

Until my next post, Toodloo!

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