Monthly Archives: September 2014

A few more days

… Before we move out of our house, the one I thought I’d never leave, my perfect home.

Near the river, easy access leaving London, amazingly organised shed and attic full of sporting kit – kayaks, stand up paddle board, paddles, skis, rollerskis, skates, bikes, canoe machine etc etc- all unusable now and probably for ever.

My life laid out in the garden before me, asked to choose – keep/ give away/ throw away. To say I found it hard, well that would be understating it.

20 years of memories and experiences, all intertwined with these objects , not inanimate to me

I have this thought going around my head – well what if I’m cured? Don’t I need to keep this stuff? Is that just a stupid notion, or should I hang on to it?

I’ve toyed with, and been offered the option of being carried up and around the house . One last look. The last time JUNE 2013

Is it better to just have the memory of how it was, in my head? Ive no idea, frankly, of what I want, but time is running out fast to decide.

I think I’ll ask Amber to walk around with her camera and video it for posterity.

Other stuff… I’ve been in touch with Re Walk, the people who make Robo exoskeleton suits. I’ll meet with them in due course, maybe January. The wheelchair is increasingly depressing me as a lifestyle accessory, so want another option. Dan says I’m built like Robocop, so may as well go the whole way.

We went to see Kate Bush on Friday, her comeback sold out London tour. Viewed from the Disabled section of the Hammersmith Apollo… With various other people, only me in a wheelchair though.

I was more than dismayed to see Kate, in my head 8 stone of balletic, ethereal grace… stomping around the stage with all the dance step imagination of me, at 15, in a disco in Pontypool.

Shes worth a cool £33 million- not beyond affording a gym membership/ personal trainer/ even just a pair of trainers?

Its been some time since she’s run up that road, let alone that hill.

Back on the Thames..

Chris Haynes and I got in a cab at 10am and headed to the start line at Greenwich.

I was fully dressed in waterproof trousers and boots and a cagoule, at odds with my former life paddle Lycra get up.

image image image imageAbout a hundred boats were in the race, of all descriptions and from all over the world. Most had at least 5 crew, ours ten, including me as the steerer and ten year old Leith as the ‘passenger’.

Three of the guys carried me down the very muddy slipway and wedged me into the rear of one of the hulls of our Bell Boat, so that I could reach the rudder – an oar stuck through a metal bracket

Our allotted start time of 1.30 came quickly, by then the incoming tide rising and filling the river really fast.

There were 4 boats in our category, paddling off hard from the gun. It was obvious that the enthusiastic pace wouldn’t be sustainable for 21 miles, and it wasn’t…

The ride through the whole of the london  riverscape was a trip everyone ought do, so much history on view, attached to the many iconic buildings.

The river was very rough from the presence of so many boats so it wasn’t an easy ride. I kept sliding down from half sitting to almost being flat. Getting back up involved letting go of the rudder and dragging myself up with both arms.

We won our category in a time of 2 hours 59, a Richmnd Club record no less.

The most emotional part for me was the sight of London Bridge Hospital, where, little more than a year ago, I lay in intensive care, emaciated, with weeping facial wounds, a tracheotomy in, being fed by a tube, virtually unable to move, having to be picked up by a hoist, in the depths of despair.

There is no way on God’s Earth that I would have even Imagined canoeing past  just 1 year later, in the company of friends, smiling all the way.

It does bring it home to me, how far I’ve come.

Thanks so much to Richard and Tim and Chris and everyone at Richmond who made it possible.

Never a dull moment.

So by virtue of introductions from Tim Killip and Rich Hendron, I met Ian and Warren at Imperial College last week. These very smart guys work at the college and are very much involved with the Rio Tinto Sports Innovation Project , looking at ways to get injured athletes back into sports, using engineering lateral thinking/genius.

They have proposed that I get back into a kayak with their help, and are happy to throw the cerebral weight of their students into the task.

That is extremely exciting for me, and I’m very much looking forward to meeting them again, in November.

In the meantime, this Saturday, I’ll be in a boat again, in The Great River Race, from Greenwich to Ham.

I won’t be paddling but i’ll have the rudder control for 22 miles, from my position of being wedged firmly into the left hand hull.

Thanks to Richard H for talking me into it, against my better  judgement.

Arrived in London

So after 3 days of full on hand biking I find myself back at Richmond Canoe Club to meet the incoming paddlers and their/our friends and families.

We had a picnic on the grass and did a bit of self congratulation.

To say that all of us were tested out of our comfort zones would be fair, but we all learnt a bit about our own characters this weekend. Me? That actually the old me is alive and well, I still won’t be beaten by this calamitous accident , that I still love being part of the same circles of friends, seeing different sides to my mates, seeing that they are overall probably more impressed by my new efforts than they were by my old ones, my challenges now being far greater.

I liked them all before, but I love them all now.

I can’t single out people for extra praise, so I won’t try, but I’m so proud to know them all, their wives, and their kids, who without exception are just incredible.

How on earth did I ever end up knowing so many exceptional people?


In the week that Terry Rodham finished his Ironman Challenge in Wales, doing bloody well, in really testing conditions ( rough sea and big hills ), doing an especially fast bike section (112 miles) .. and raising lots of money.. We have just finished Day 1 of our canoe/ bike journey.

The boys have done a good 40 miles in kayaks and me, Pete, Robbie and Dan at least the same on bikes ( me lying down obv.)

They  all did a really brilliant job, all image image image imagehelping eachother, and me. When I broke my gear cable, I was taken to the nearest bike shop, the bike fixed, then conveyed 10 miles further on to join the lads, canal side.

It rained most of the day, sadly, but didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits – you get wet in a kayak anyway, and as a cyclist in Britain, it’s pretty normal.

Thanks to Sean for fixing my bike. Anyone down this way could do a lot worse than visiting his shop!

I’m assuming it won’t be an early night, and that the usual amount of alcohol will go down, enough to make tomorrow’s 50 miles a fair bit harder..

Here again.

3 miles in and I totally mangled the gear cable of my lie down bike.

Whilst the canoeists are paddling, I’m with Kev and Marta in the bike shop in Marlborough undergoing major repairs.

So….. Once fixed I’ll be back on it.

At least it’s the bloody bike and not me this time.

The lads are paddling strongly – proud of them.

Felt very strange being here in Devizes again, but not doing a canoe race.

But you know, it’s still pretty cool being here at all. image image

Recent and forthcoming activity.

So… Today at 10am I head to Imperial College in London to meet a bunch of engineering students whose objective/challenge is to design me a canoe seat that I won’t fall out of.

Good luck with that!

Massive thanks to Tim Killip and Richard Hendron for organising that, and to Rich in general for organising and coaching a rabble of cyclists into a half decent bunch of canoeists capable of paddling 125 miles in 3 days this weekend.

We all head to Devizes at 2 pm, me driving with 2 very long boats on my roof.

Jerry Day will be with me, in case I continue my run of mishaps… Yesterday I repaid my ongoing gratitude to Dan by crashing through the barrier into his west London premises of the Park Club…. apparently I’m not the first by any stretch.. but the first to actually  own up, and poss the first MALE.. He says.

Yesterday I spent  ages at Great Ormond St hospital discussing my spasms and their resolution. Getting into my standing frame would seem to be the best ongoing remedy, as well as staying fit and not being constipated….there you go then.

I’ve recently spent a fair bit of time at work coaching my optometry graduates to do what they do with the public – good to be back in a work environment actually being an expert at something.

My main objective over the next 3 days is not to get killed or injured on my arm bike on the country roads of Britain. That would screw up my trip to the States in search of therapy for my paralysis  somewhat.

Wish me luck with that. Some have said that I should def not risk it, but I don’t feel I can let down my buddies – that’s the old me kicking in strongly.

Ill update this site with progress..


So now I’ve tried shooting.

Shooting clay pigeons.

On the way up Marky P and I discussed my tendency to almost die when pursuing sports.

Perhaps s shooting was tempting fate?

In the event it was really good – Apparantly  I wasn’t a bad shot. It was hard not toppling over whilst I took aim, but  by holding my breath and tensing very hard I could just about maintain aim for long enough to get about a 70% hit rate.

Il def go again, sometime soon.

Thanks Mark, for taking me, and being so bloody encouraging.

Thank also to Chrissy, for a bloody lovely lunch the other day  Properly spoilt. 🙂