My left foot…

Right, now that I’ve finally got London written up and out of the way, I thought I’d give you an update on what’s been happening in the 4-ish months since I left our glorious capital city behind, as I thought I’d better explain, once and for all what’s happened, and been happening with my beloved left foot.

My left foot has been attached to my left leg for as long as I can remember. We’ve been through thick and thin socks for all of this time. From tiny little boottees, through slippers that were shaped like Homer Simpson, to my now trademark Karrimor walking boots, of which I’ve had about 6 pairs in the last 6 years.

By continuing to read past this point you agree that I’m a complete buffoon, for you see, I’ve had an ulcer on the sole of my foot since May last year. I am aware that I’m a complete idiot. It should have been taken care of sooner. You also agree not to chastise me on the subject. I’ve done enough of that to myself over the past 15 months or so, because that’s when it started.

Let’s go back to May 2016. It was a mice, warm Spring day. I’d arranged a walk with old friend Gary, to Keilder reservoir. I’ll include a photo of some little quacky ducks here, which I took on that particular day, because I don’t particularly want a photo of my foot being the thumbnail….

Right, on with our scheduled programming. After getting back from Keilder, I noticed my foot had a big old blister on it…

At some point that night, I stood wrongly on something and accidentally popped it. What an idiot. I’d accidentally popped blisters before, and they’ve just gone normally, so I never thought anything of it. the next day, something felt different. It was hurting more than before, and it seemed to be on the bottom of my foot. I conferred with Doctor Dad, who said “Oh, it’s nothing”, even though I jumped up in pain when he unexpectedly prodded it while looking at it.

A few weeks went by, and it still wasn’t getting any better. The issue had moved to the bottom of my foot, near the big toe, and a hole was starting to form. Most people would have been running… well, hopping to the doctors at that point, and I did indeed go. They put me on something like “Flucoxicillin” – (spelt incorrectly), and I’d go back if it got worse.

On the day before I went to Carlisle last year, it appeared to be no better, and in fact, did get worse. I’ll not go into the graphic details in this post, as I already talked about them here.

Regular followers know about my medical history, and things going wrong with the feet, especially, gaping, stinky, weeping holes, are something to take seriously. I began to think the worst. If I went to the doctors, they’d just get the saw out there and then, and get rid of it. I started thinking about what life would be like with no foot.

Admittedly, as much as I put up with it, it didn’t *really* affect me. Yeah, some days I’d be in agony with it, and some days, I’d be walking just fine. The only inconvenience was the discharge coming out, and how to dispose of it. Each night came the ritual of washing my left sock, and finding an old t-shirt or newspaper to shove inside my shoe to dry it up.

This went on for over a year. I knew, at some point, my life would have to go on hold because of it, and I knew the London trip was coming up. I certainly didn’t want to take any time off work sick, but I said to myself, after the London trip, I’d get it sorted.

Now, I’m sure you’ve all read the London trip posts now, andprobably thought I was just being a little whingy bitch about my foot. Far from it. I literally couldn’t walk, but this time it was the RIGHT foot that I’d manage to damage… This was my right foot after London.

Oh yes. It was that bad. Raw as hell. Ignore the little black bits, these were new socks, and that was sticky. Some of you may think I’d have just ignored it like I did my other foot. Er, no. This time I went straight round to the emergency thing at the hospital. They dressed it for me, and an appointment was made with a nurse at my local practise to have the dressing changed a couple of days later.

I attended the doctors as advised, and while I was there, I somehow plucked up the courage to say “While you’re there, could you take a look at this?” Bang. Two-week sicknote. Exactly what I didn’t want, but hell, I’d plucked up the courage to show this to someone. A swab was taken, and an appointment with the podiatry was requested. A swab was taken of my left foot, and another course of the Flucoxicillin (or whatever it was called) was given. A week later, nothing back from the podiatry, but the swab results showed that those previous tablets (I’m not typing that again) were no good, and I was put on other antibiotics, with the longest name I’ve ever seen on anything ever. Even that welsh village.

I haven’t actually posted any photos of the wound yet… and, as I know not everyone wants to see them, I’ll link to them instead of putting them inline. This photo was taken back in September. I don’t have any photos (which I know of) before the treatment started.

Eventually, five weeks passed, and finally, after constant badgering from the fantastic nurse at my local practice, I finally got round to seeing the podiatrist. A couple of weeks of patching it up and hoping it would shrink later, I was off to the “high risk” podiatry (well, that’s what it says on the door anyway)

This is where things started to improve dramatically. I was sent straight away for an x-ray, blood test, another swab was taken of my foot, another course of Flucoxicillin was goiven, and I got presented with my now infamous “moon-boot”. It’s one of those surgical boot things where parts of the internal sole can be removed to ease pressure on certain parts of the foot.

It was ANOTHER five weeks until I got the results of the X-ray back, and thankfully, there was no infection. The only thing now is that the wound is “granulating”, which is where the skin is trying to heal over, but it’s not able to do so because of the size.

I took this photo while in the hospital a couple of weeks ago, and thankfully there’s clear improvement. The road to recovery has been a long, boring one. I’m still under the care of the podiatry for now. I’m going twice a week, so they can change the dressing, and administer cream to it (I really should learn all of these medications, they’d make great passwords).

If there’s one thing to take out of all of this, if I think anything’s wrong in the future, I won’t be leaving it for a year, and if one person reading this takes the same advice and gets something looked at before it gets more serious, than the past 18 months have been worth it.

But one more thing, more than anything, in the entirety of all of this, I just want to get this dressing off permanently so I can have a bloody bath again…

London, Day 3… ouch!

I bet you thought this was never going to come. The final part of the London trip, or what I can remember of it, because after all, this was three months ago now…

The final day was upon us quicker than what you could say “Soft, supple, Hartlepudlian feet”. Day 3 was to tie up the loose ends of the places we hadn’t been to, and places we’d want to revisit. Of course, we had to vacate the room by a certain time (10AM), and the train back from King’s Cross wasn’t until 8PM. Thankfully, the hotel, again, let us leave our bags there until we were ready to pick them up.

We left the hotel behind, and headed to King’s Cross tube station. A place we were now very familiar with. The first stop was Greenwich, most notably the O2. The plan was to go there and see if anything had changed since we last visited, and then head off to Greenwich town centre to see what was there. It was before 11 at this point, so there wasn’t really anything open at the O2. One thing I did remember from our last visit several years ago were strange circular LED advertising hoardings. They were basically one row of LEDs spinning at such a speed that they’d give the effect of going all the way round. Slight problem was, they were getting old now, and the LEDs were certainly past their best.

the greatest thing for me, however, was an advertising display made entirely of old media, such as videotapes, records audio tapes and CDs. I spent most of the time looking at this, slightly gutted that a large amound of perfectly good records had been entombed in this display, and would never be played again. For your viewing pleasure are photos of this hoarding, and you too can see if you can see a classic in there. You can, of course, click the images to get a full-size verison. There’s 9 of them, so you might have to scroll if you’re not interested. Sorry, not sorry.










I’ve already spotted “Bridge of Spies” by T’Pau, which is possibly my favourite album of all time, also “Something Else” by Inspiral Carpets, which features the words “Binsy Smith Meets Monobrow” on the spine.. nope, me neither, but I do know is, apart from an obscure Google Books entry, that previous line the only mention of those words anywhere on the internet. Cor, eh?

So, the plan was to head to Greenwich Village to see what was there. Despite our complete failure with the DLR, were to try our luck again, as apparently there isn;t a tube stop there.

We headed to Canary Wharf. A place that had changed immensely since I’d first visited in 2003. It was no longer the dominant sight on the capital skyline, other buildings had taken that mantle many hears ago. Still, the DLR station was still there. Accomplice had reliably informed me of where we were going to depart, and the train went in completely the wrong direction. Whoops.

Still ,all was not lost, as no matter where you go in London, you’re going to end up close to some attraction, and where we ended up was Cannon Street, just a short walk fromThe Great Fire of London monument.

If my feet weren’t on fire by this point, I still think it’d have been a bit pointless climbing it. The buildings nearby simply dWarfed it. Twenty years ago, it’ll have been something worth climbing, like the Scott Monument in Edinburgh, but when they charge you to stare into someone’s office window, I’ll give that bit a miss.

It was coming up to lunchtime by this point. I needed to knock some Glucophage down my neck, and Accomplice was in full agreement that food needed to be taken on board. I don’t think I mentioned how much the menu at the Brewdog in Camden appealed to both of us. I seem to remember it was on the same underground line we were currently near, so, despite the fact I’ve never seen a bee fly in a straight line, we made a beeline for Camden, and the Brewdog establishment. We arrived there at a little before 12PM, as we knew that was when Brewdog was going to open.

CEX, no matter where you are, are exactly the same. Sometimes you’ll get different stock. Sometimes they’ll sell CDs, sometimes they won’t. Most of the time there’ll be shelves marked with yellow headers full of DVD. This was the latter. All of them seem to have a simple price bracket, and that’s “ridiculous”. Everything I’ve bought from a CEX has been either ridiculously expensive, or ridiculously cheap. As this particular store didn’t have a music section, it was of no interest to me, and I left empty handed.

So, with CEX taken care of, we went for some lunch. Accomplice had been drooling at the thought of a Brewdog burger, and I had my mind set on a nice, big plate of chips. Last of the exotic eaters, eh? I can safely say neither of us were disappointed (except for the price, obviously, as they were pretty extortionate). My chips were really nice, and there’s no exaggeration in saying that Accomplice’s burger was about half a foot tall. While we were in there, we paid close attention to a van that had been stopped by the police, and was being thoroughly looked at. A little part of me was expecting the side panel of a Mercedes Sprinter to be blasted through the window, but thankfully this didn’t happen.

After about two hours, we finally left Brewdog. Unfortunately, sitting for that amount of time didn’t do my feet or legs any good, this was the part of the day when I really started to suffer. While we were in Camden, we went our separate was for a small amount of time. Accomplice had a comic shop to attend, and I had a record shop. I ended up buying 6 singles. None of which were pretty exciting. I just felt like I had to buy something while I was there.

On the subject of comics and comic based goodness, Accomplice was aware of a large Forbidden Planet store, somewhere in Covent Garden, so this was to be our next stop, and really, the last planned stop of our adventures. After going through the back alleys of London, eventually, we ignored Google Maps, and just headed onto the street, and there it was, right in front of us. And there was a seat, thankfully, so I could rest my throbbing hooves.

Unfortunately, the GPS recording goes a little haywire for a time after this, but I distincly recall wanting to go to “The Elephant and Castle”. I didn’t really know what was there except for a shopping centre, and seeing how well our last visit to a shopping centre went on the previous day, I was hoping it was a bit more touristy. All aboard the underground, then, and onto what must have possibly been the oldest train still in service. The illusion that we were heading out of the touristy part of the city was heightened with every flash of the train’s internal lights, leaving us in moments of complete darkness. I expected to hear a woman scram and then find a dead body on the floor, like some Agatha Christie novel.

We alighted the train, and walked up something like 100 steps (117 and 11 depending on which way you’re going, thank you Wikipedia). There are lifts, but Accomplice has a fear of them, so we took the pedestrianised route. Yeah, I could have got the lift up, but I really didn’t feel like getting separated, especially with zero mobile signal XXX metres underground.

We reached the surface, and it was quite clear we weren’t in Kansas anymore. Maybe 3AM on a Thursday afternoon was not the best time to catch it, but it became clear this wasn’t really any type of tourist attraction, and the view I had of it, in part thanks to Jim Davidson’s unhilarious sit-com “Up The Elephant And Round The Castle”, turned out to be completely incorrect. A quick hobble into a nearby Tesco to stock up on much needed sugar and liquid, and we were back down the hundred-and-odd steps faster than what you can say “Slow down, me feet are fucking killing me”.

So, the three days away were coming to a close. We’d exhausted the entire tube map. There was time for one last look at Marble Arch…

… and then we were off back to the hotel. Unfortunately, this involved a walk from Marble Arch to Great Portland Street. On a normal day, this would have been a piece of piss, and I wouldn’t have whinged once, but when I had two red hot balls of lava shoved into size-10 Karrimor boots, it wasn’t a pleasant journey.

One last tube ride, and then the final excruciating walk from King’s Cross to the hotel, and then from the hotel back to King’s Cross. And, with a further train ride from King’s Cross to Darlington, and then from there back to Partypool, the three days were over, but yes, my feet…

And, for those of you who haven’t had enough of the photos, the full collection is here

London, Day 2

Well, seeing as I’ve received very little / no feedback on Day 1, I can see that you’re all really enjoying reading these. Never mind, I intend to keep going, with the help of more photographs and Google Maps.

Anyway, I awoke on the 2nd day. This was to be the main day we were there, and the only full day. We had intended to visit Brick Lane market at one point during the trip. Unfortunately, due to it only being open at the weekend, it was closed, so that was off the radar. There was, however, Borough Market just a short tube ride away, somewhere near London Bridge. We got there, and it was rather “foody”.

I don’t think I’ve ever been to a market that’s got a dedicated “Turnips” section. Admittedly, I did spend rather a long time debating whether I should buy a small tub of Scorpion Chilli powder, but seeing as there was no prices on anything, I decided against it. I’m one of those people who’ll take something to a counter, ask how much it is, and then begrudgingly buy it even if it’s more than what I expected to pay.

It’s probably still there on the shelf now. On the plus side, I didn’t have to carry it around all day.

Accomplice bought a “weird” bacon sandwich, and while I was tempted to buy a sausage sandwich, I didn’t…. my word, the excitement I get up to, eh? No wonder nobody is reading this bloody thing.

We walked around the nearby area, and happened to stumble upon one of the replicas of “The Golden Hinde”.

It was a short walk to London Bridge tube station, so we headed off in its general direction. As you pass under London Bridge, there’s a tannoy that plays a creepy music-box rendition of “London Bridge Is Falling Down”. That’s rather worrisome, especially as you’re going under it as the time. No matter though, as I’m sure it’s built with far more sturdy materials than when that particular tune was written. It’s an old folk tune anyway, so it was probably written about polio anyway.

One of the sights I wanted to see while I was in London was the Olympic Park, in Stratford. It sort-of fitted with the other things we were going to see that day anyway (or so we thought), so we headed off in that general direction.

It seemed we were going out of the more popular area of London, as the tube carriage emptied further and further we went along the line. This had me feeling already that there wasn’t going to be too much there.

Well. After getting out of the tube station, you’re greeted with a shopping centre. Nothing much wrong with that, but it just feels a bit like “You’ve come all this way to see something. Great! Now spend some money!” And, spend I did! I bought myself a sausage roll from Greggs (yes, they have them down there too) and a bottle of wahter. And the sausage roll was *terrible*.

It was a short walk to the Olympic park from the shopping centre. Well, it would have been had we gone the right way, but instead we ended up walking around the not-very-decorative loading bays for the shopping centre. Oops.

Onto the stadium itself. The words “underwhelming” spring to mind. Maybe it was because they changed the shape of it since it was used for the Olympic Games, but I was expecting something much grander.

The athletics championships had just finished a couple of days prior to us going, and there were still traces of the signage left standing. Unfortunately, as the stadium had begun the transformation from an athletics track into a football stadium (which has to be done manually, and takes 15 days), nost of it was fenced off. There were still signs up for the athletics though, including a sighting of my new second-favourite fictional hedgehog, “Hero”…

After that, we were “Gone, Gone, Gone!” Next stop would be Abbey Road. It was a mere couple of stops on the DLR…. or WAS it?

Judging by the presence of that sentence, you’d be right in thinking it isn’t. At least, not the famous one, anyway.

We got off at the appropriate DLR station named “Abbey Road”, and made our way to the bridge that leads out on the road, only to be presented with a sign filled with really crap Beatles puns, something along the lines of “Are you looking for the Beatles’ Abbey Road and are in need of a little Help!? Well, you’ll need to get a Ticket To Ride to “another station”.

Accomplice had pretty much given up on the idea of seeing it. I clearly hadn’t. Therefore, we travelled the 34 minutes on the tube, followed by about another 10 minute walk, just to see a zebra crossing. And it’s not even the original zebra crossing, which was a little further up the road. But nothing stands in the way of a good photo opportunity.

OK, it’s entirely the wrong angle, but I wasn’t going to get Accomplice to stand in the middle of road and hold up traffic. I’d have known what the response would have been.

So, the whole premise of going here and seeing the non-touristy sights were going really well. There was one place I wanted to go that even the hardened tourist wouldn’t have thought of.

Part of my job involves entering data about London streets from emails into a database. It’s all very old fashioned, and something that could be automated very easily, but because of this, I became aware of a street called Chandos Place, upon which stands a Nandos. Therefore, we headed there andhad Nandos in Chandos. I wonder how many other people have done the following just for that very reason. Yeah, probably nobody.

As we were still in an “upmarket” part of London (Covent Garden, to be exact), it seemed only right to go and do something even more upmarket. It was time to take my very first trip to Harrods. After all, I’m sure I’d fit in, with my purple Slazenger polo shirt and Sports Direct walking boots. I’m sure it was the type of clientele the shop regularly does business with. Mind you, nobody in their right frame of mind actually buys anything from there. I mean, £1.80 for a bottle of coke? Come on, I’m sure there was a Tesco Express around the corner.

I bet you didn’t know that the carrier bags for Harrods used to be made in Hartlepool? I don’t know if they’re still are, but I always remember going to infants school with my PE kit in a Harrods carrier bag. My nanna worked for the company that made them. Obviously, I didn’t get the significance at the time, but I’m sure it’d raise a few smiles these days, wandering around this lovely little fishing village with a Harrods bag.

I was considering buying a music system, but even if I put together all of the money I have ever earned from all of my jobs, and not spent anything else ever, I’d probably still not come close on buying this…

It was at this point my Nandos started moving, and I thought it’d be a nice little thing to say I’ve had a cack in Harrods. If you’re a bloke, don’t bother. There’s bogs on every floor for women, and one bog in the entire place for blokes, and there was a queue a mile long. There’s one thing I absolutely detest in life, and that’s following someone into a cubicle It’s happened too often where I’ve dropped an absolute panblocker, and someone’s went in straight after me. One day, I know the tables are gonna turn, but not this time. I kept hold of it until we found somewhere else.

And that somewhere else was apparently “the only pub on Sloane Street”, known as The Gloucester. Finding the bogs was like playing something in The Crystal Maze (which has returned to our TV screens! Hurrah!) – go up some stairs, through the doors, disable the laser, though some other doors, etc. While we were in there, I also had a pint of “Camden Pale Ale”, which was a nice smooth pint. I have blocked the price of this from my mind. Accomplice would watch out of the window as the shiny and expensive cars would go by, and comment on each of them. I would simply nod politely and pretend I knew what was being said. I didn’t have a clue. When it comes to cars, you might as well speak Swahili to me.

We downed the pints and emerged once more into the setting sun. Apparently, we walked up Knightsbridge, Kensington Road, then onto Exhibition Road. Lots of large colleges around there. Walking around there made me feel like I was back in Berlin or Vienna. It certainly didn’t feel like London.

Another quick ride on the tube took us to Victoria. A station I believe I last frequented in 2003. We walked down Victoria Street. Another street lined with modern buildings and shops, and of course, some not-so-new buildings. It was, at this point, it became clear that all of my hopes of doing the non-touristy stuff came to an abrupt halt, as unbeknownst to me, the road led to the Houses of Parliament, and of course, Elizabeth Tower, a.k.a. Big Ben.

It was a mere five days before the big bell would stop sounding for four years, so I suppose it was nice to be one of the last to hear it in action one last time.

We made our way across Westminster Bridge, and headed down the river towards London Bridge, taking in the sights, stopping off for the odd sit-down along the way…

I’d avoided any type of curry, so I don’t know how that possibly could have happened.

As we were walking, something became apparent. My feet weren’t holding up as well as I thought they were going to. I’d pretty much avoided the problems with my left foot (more on that later, probably in the next part), but instead I was having problems with my right foot…

And, right on cue, just as we’d passed the ITV studios (home to none other than ITV’s “This Morning”, as you can clearly see), I felt a massive blister go. Oh, this didn’t feel like it was going to be good.

I struggled on, desperate for a sit down somewhere, but we kept on, and eventually made it back to London Bridge. It was about 9PM at the point, but that music-box thing I mentioned earlier was STILL playing. Creepy.

It was still relatively early, and we’d made plans to go somewhere and catch something to eat, but my feet decided not to play ball, so we headed back, calling in at McDonalds on the way, as it was just a short journey from the hotel. My word, if you know Hartlepool, you’ll know you always get your flurry of harmless chavs hanging around. It’s warm, it’s dry and it has free Wi-Fi. What’s not for chavs to love? Well, in London, it’s like that, but the chavs seem a little more… sinister, like if you look at them the wrong way, they’d stab you. I felt like the guy sat next to me was going to jump me, or something. Then a guy sat next to me, carrying a Primark bag, having a full-on conversation to himself.

“Right, that’s it, we’re going”…

We arrived back at the hotel at approximately 9:30. I nipped downstairs to the hotel bar to see what it was like. Not very good to be fair. One lager of dubious origin on draught, and a price tag around the £4.50 mark. I managed to have one before they ran out. I then had a 330ml bottle of Stella and paid about the same. If I’d have thought, I could have nipped to the pub across the road. Though if I thought @the Maccy D’s was rough, I dread to think how rough that pub might have been, especially on my own and with a Northern accent. Yeah, best to stay in the safety of the hotel I reckon.

As I was unwilling to mortage Mercury Towers for another small beverage, I headed back to the room in preparation for the 3rd and final day in the Capital…

I’ve read it. Very disappointing.

That, so far, has been the only reaction I’ve received to my Pokemon Go post. Well, in order to disappoint you even more, I thought I’d go through and clear off some old blog drafts I have saved. You know the drill. I start typing about stuff, and then it ends up I type too much, I get bored, and the blog sits harked as a draft until I eventually go through and delete it.

Firstly, a tittle short untitled one from 26th June.

Not that anyone of you will actually realise or care, but I’m typing this blog while sat on a train about to depart from Carlisle station. It was the third meetup of #speccy peeps.

Now, I know some of you don’t know who they are, so it’s an IRC Chatroom that’s been going since the year 2000, celebrating the existence of the humble ZX Spectrum. Of course, it never gets mentioned, we just tend to talk about crisps.

I decided it was far too uncomfortable to read the screen and type at the same time, so the blog post got abandoned. Instead, I decided to expand on the Carlisle trip, and include a rather graphic description of a foot infection, which I’ve still got. I really, really must go back to the doctors. Anway, I bring you a blog entitled “My left loot. Not a remake of the book/film.”

Hmmm. Ok, that’s not an imaginitive title, but then it doesn’t need to be, because I’m sure you’ve all been wondering about my feet. Well, that is, if you’ve read anything from me on Facebook over the last couple of weeks. Let’s just say, it’s not been pleasant. And, if you don’t like feet, then the next post is not going to be up your street. It gets foul.

Several weeks ago now, I went for a walk with Flav, over to Kielder. A couple of posts ago, I mentioned “I’m still recovering from this”. And, by that, I meant I was struggling with my feet. Quite a lot.

It all started the evening after the walk. I took my shoes and socks off, and noticed I had a rather large blister on my foot. I did take a photo of it, and post it on facey, but I didn’t keep it, so you’ll just have to imagine what arather large, bulbous blister looks like. Anyway, whilst sitting down, I totally forgot about this blister, until I popped it on the side of my chair. Ouch.

A couple of days later, I noticed my leg felt really tight. Mind you, I’d just completed a 13 mile walk, so that was probably to be expected. It was by far (well, a couple of miles), the farthest distance I’d walked, so I didn’t think too much of it.

Days went by, my foot would feel weird. And this is where things start getting a bit disgusting. It’s also where I’ll insert a random photo from the collection. Why? Because further down, there will be links, and descriptions that probably aren’t worth reading. Social media pick up on the images, and use them as the thumbnail. So, here’s a photo of an ice cream van.

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Righty doke. So, I’ve set the scene. Bad foot. It seemed to be healing to an extent. I would get twinges of pain, then it’d go, and my foot would feel normal. One night I noticed I’d tore the skin where this blister was. What a bugger. I’m a keen walker, so foot blisters that go into the deep skin are nothing new. You just peel the skin away and let them be.

Usually.

I’d peeled the skin back, but where I’d done it never seemed to stop weeping. My socks were perpectually soaking. Well, at least one of them was. Of course, these warning signs should have had me running… well, hobbling to the doctors. But no, I braved it. It was going to heal. It always does.

I t must have been a week or two before I noticed something odd. The foot was giving off a bit of a smell. Not a nice smell. In fact, it reminded me of a dog food tin being left in the sun. Slightly mouldy, slightly fishy. But only slightly. Might have been the socks. Or my shoes. This was the Thursday. I was due to travel to Carlisle on the Saturday.

Friday came, and now, I was seriously not happy about my foot. The nose test gave it away. But as I said, maybe it was just something that had crept in the sole of my shoe. It had a hole in, and Thursday was damp. So, that’ll have been the source of my odour.

Friday came, and with all of this in the back of my mind, I spent the entire day in my shoes, complete with a mile-walk home from Chris’s. at 1AM in the morning. This was great, because I found a new mode on my phone’s camera

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A night mode! OK, not great shots, but this was nearly 1AM.

Anyway, a slight detour there, because I got home, took my shoe off, and…. oh my god. I’ve smelt some awful stuff in my time, but knowing this was coming from a body part made me feel physically sick. It really was sobering. Sock in the sink, foot under the tap. Something was a bit wrong. I had to be up for the Carlisle train in a few hours. Oh dear. Most of the night was laid awake wondering if I should call the whole thing off. Technically, it wouldn’t have cost me anything as I had a cancellation plan on the hotel, but could I really miss out on not meeting some of the people I’ve talked to in #speccy for 16 years?

I slept on it. Well, I didn’t sleep on my foot, that was hanging out of the side of the mattress, having being severely washed.

I woke up the next morning. At this point, I was determined to go to Carlisle, manky foot or not. I’d just pack extra socks, and give my foot a good wash when I got to the hotel. Sound plan.

I arrived at Carlisle early. 11AM to be precise. I’d planned everything. I’ll do a bit of charity shop diving, hoping my foot holds up., and then make my way over to the hotel. A Premier Inn to be precise. I’d booked the hotel, so I knew exactly where I was going. My route, with the help of Google Maps was planned meticulously. The PI website said it was 0.9 miles from the city centre. I received a facebook message that most of the crew were already there. Awesome. I started the walk up to the Premier Inn. This felt much longer than 0.9 miles. The road seemed to go on for ever. Certainly not the 0.9 miles on the website, but then, they make them seem closer to the city centre, so you book them. Right?

A familiar purple sign glowed in the distance. I was finally there. My foot, hanging on my a strand of sock, would shortly get the relief it so desperately needed.

I plonk my backpack full of CDs and jeans onto the floor, and proudly announce my name. Papers went everywhere, the lady behind the counter flicking through them at a rate of knots, which would make a Brexit vote counter blush. “No, I’m sorry, there’s no Mr. Vapour booked here”. My heart sank. I’d known all along that Carlisle had two (technically three) Premier Inns. I can’t have possibly went to the wrong one. I’m not that stupid.

A quote of my reference number confirmed as I was that stupid, and I’d walked several miles to the wrong bloody hotel. I could have cried. A phone call to Marko confirmed I was in the wrong one. I’m sure the words “facking preck” were uttered during the conversation.

The lady behind the counter booked me a taxi, and while I was waiting outsie, the heavens opened, which was quite ironic following what Carlisle went through earlier in the year with Storm Desmond. The taxi driver picked me up, and gave me the details of Storm Desmond, an the fact that the hotel I was actually meant to be staying in, was afrected by the floods, and all of the houses around that way were pretty much empty

And that was that. In both posts, I never actually got to talk about the Carlisle meet, which was a bit of a shame, but a good time was had by all. I met up with Dunny and Daren, two people I’ve known through the internet for years, but never actually met, so that was good.

I’ll leave it at that. There are others, but they’re not worth trawling through. I’m off to decide the future again. I’m sure the commentor didn’t mean it with any malice, but it’s got me thinking… is there any point to all of this?

Diabetic retinopathy and why I no longer like lasers…

Long time viewers and people who know me in the flesh know that I’ve been in and out of the Eye Infirmary recently in a bid to prevent me from going blind. It’s not much fun.

I won’t bore you of the details of what the disease actually is. You’ve got Wikipedia for that mundane task. Instead, I’m here to tell you ehat it’s like to have your eyes shot at with lasers, as if your retinas were in some type of scaled down 1980s James Bond movie. I don’t find it a nice experience.

Let me start off by saying the NHS is brilliant. It’s probably the only thing that this country has left before it collapses into a slurry of overpriced train fares and Jeremy Kyle. The staff do an excellent job for far less money than they deserve.

Anyway, my treatment has been taking place at Sunderland Eye Infirmary. It’s a building, that from the outside resembles a paper factory from the 1960s. You almost expect to see middle-aged men in tweed jackets walking out of the place with clipboards and questionable combovers smoking a pipe. I find the look of the place intimidating, and not very friendly. I’m not a fan of architecture, but give me a hospital-type place with bright open spaces and the odd fake plant hanging from a balcony any day.

I’ll start from the last time I went, a few weeks ago. It was an afternoon appointment, most probably the last one of the day. It was getting dark when we got there. I handed the letter over the reception, and waited in “Outpatients B”. It’s a small waiting area, with chairs, covered in pink plastic covering which you only ever see in hospitals. Some chairs were normal. Some chairs were large, some chairs were those large, wing-back chairs you expect to see old people die in.

Previous visits gave me the knowledge that the only place you can get any type of 4G signal is one of the high-backed ones, so I settled myself down for a wait. No sooner had I got my phone out of my pocket, about to spout some pessimistic bullshit onto facebook, my name was called. That was quick.

Every time I go there, I get an eye test. Read the chart on the wall. Cover that eye… yes, my bad one is still fucked. I’ve had them so often now that I’ve managed to memorise the first few lines, but then I can never see past the first two lines anyway. Eyedrops are administered which make your pupils dilate. This means, scouting out the best spot for a 4G signal was entirely worthless, as my vision is now so blurred, if I went for a piss, I’d grab a pube instead.

They strap a bracelet to my arm. Something I’ve not seen the point of. they could simply ask if I’m going to go wandering off, and if I say no, save the penny or two from printing it off. Nobody looked at it.

Anwyay, off I go back to the waiting area. My phone appeared just as a white blur, so the only other entertainment was a telly on the wall showing Antiques Road Trip. They say true love makes your pupils dilate too, so mine must have been going back on themselves at the sight of the dreamy Anita Manning. “Oh, hellloooo deeeeearrryy”. Rawr.

These drops do take time to kick fully in, so I was there for about 45 minutes. It’s apparent when you’re in this state just how stupidly bright the waiting area is. Every second ceiling tile has a CFL bulb sticking out of it. I’m sure you could get away with half the brightness in there.

Anyway, Antiques Road Trip was about to end, and I really wanted to see how much they got for a pair of Sooty + Sweep puppets, but before I had chance to find out, my name was called. Awww.

I guess I could go back and check iplayer, but I can’t, for the life of me, remember what day I went. Bugger.

I was shown to a darkened room, where a contraption rested, that looked more like an instrument of torture than an instrument of good.

My details were confirmed, and the doctor suggested it was getting rather warm and she’d turn the air conditioning on. This didn’t go so well, as she had to get someone in to show her how to work the remote. Wait, hang on… You’re about to zap the living fuck out of my eyeballs, and you can’t work the air conditioning? My arse nipped to the seat.

More eyedrops were administered. These were to numb the pain. Allegedly.

the pain started instantly. This time, it was what she was doing to my ears, as she asked if I didn’t mind listening to Xmas music. To be fair, I’d have listened to a looped recording of a yelping dog if it made her feel comfortable

So, the procedure started, She stuck a lens to my eye, which I assume made it flat I didn’t question. I just wanted it over and done with as quickly as possible. A bar of light is shone in the eye, along with a series of 9 red dots. This is the laser’s sight. She would tap a pedal on the floor, and my sight would be filled with a green flash. Many green flashes in fact. Someone them even looked as if they were actually blinding me. The best way to describe this, is the centre of the flash, surrounded by an area of black vision. I’m guessing not many people reading this have played around with cameras, and overloading the sensors. but this is what it looked like.

This worried me. This never happened last time, back in 2013!

Oh, and then there was the pain. My word, I’ve never felt anything like it. Maybe those drops never actually went in my eye fully, but each flash coincided with a feeling of shooting into the back of the head, and emanating in a blast of white hot pain, feeling like it was coming from inside my head, behind my ear.

All of this to the tune of “Jingle Bells”.

Ever since then, when I blink, or suddenly saw a flash, for instance if I look at my phone screen in the middle of the night, I could see several little areas of 9 dots arranged in a small grid where the laser went. This was disconcerting and worrying to say the least.

Anyway, today I went back and had exactly the same procedure done. This time, I got extra anaesthetic eye drops, and I asked about the dots. It was a different doctor, and she informed me this was normal, and that they’ll fade after a couple of months. We’ll see, over the coming months just how successful it’s been.

So, I’ll see you all again soon……. hopefully.