Monday, 28 January 2019

January on Bleaklow

It's a January weekend. The forecast is not the best. Rain, cold, windy and some snow.

Chris has come over from North Wales to join me for a camp, so I'm committed. We drive over the Snake Pass. Earlier in the week we had a dump of snow around here but the whole lot's been washed away by rain.

Chrissie drops us off and we set out on the track up to Alport Castles, stopping briefly before we hit the top of the landslip for a quick bite. Once we hit the top the wind increases. As we approach the nameless trig point on, sort of, Westend Moor I measure the strength as being around 30 mph gusting to about 48. With an actual temperature of 2 to 3C windchill was around minus 7C.

I took this picture for my friend Jamie, who hopefully will receive one of my kidneys in three weeks' time. On our last outing in the hills together I brought Jamie on a similar trip and have photo of him right here...on a MUCH nicer day.

It's a westerly crosswind, making walking difficult. But we press on. I'm pretty sure my planned campsite will be sufficiently sheltered, being down in the bottom of a a secret place.

There's a little drizzle but we're actually dry as we hit camp. As predicted, there's nothing more than a light breeze at my chosen spot so we have no difficulty erecting shelters.

We filter water and make brews before the predicted rain comes in and hatches are battened down. At this time of year, wild camping is a solitary experience once tents are up and weather closes in. I settle to brews and snacks and reading on my Kindle app. Then it's dinner followed by a film courtesy of Netflix; Good Will Hunting, which I've not seen before. The closing performances from Matt Damon and the inimitable Robin Williams have me in tears.

I've brought my "winter" sleeping bag. More and more I'm finding my lighter, three season bag will take me down to minus 2C. The forecast was no lower than that. In my usual sleep attire I'm soon sweating as I bed down. I remove my clothing and I'm still too hot. I open the zip from top and bottom and I'm still sweating. It eventually cools in the small hours but I vow to continue experimenting with my lighter bag unless it's seriously cold. For those interested, my three season bag is a Rab Neutrino 600 and my winter one is a Rab Expedition 800 (no longer made). But remember, we're all different and, no matter the spec, what's warm for one may be cold for another.

This weekend, the forecast is remarkably accurate. There's heavy snowfall for a couple of hours between around 1 and 4 in the morning. At some point I wake and knock the substantial accumulation off the tent. Again as predicted, the morning dawns clear and dry. We've around three inches of white stuff on the ground.

Morning temperature is hovering just above freezing.

Once packed, we're off on a familiar route along a stretch of the Pennine Way over Snake Summit and Featherbed Moss to Mill Hill. Once again it is pretty windy on the exposed paths.

We're back at Crowther Towers by mid afternoon and I note that my Skywatch recorded the highest windspeed of the weekend...

...and we stayed dry!

Another trip over, in good company. 

Excellent stuff. Cheers Chris.

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Kidney donation, part 12

Back in May last year, when I decided to offer Jamie one of my kidneys, I knew it would be a long process but I did hope it would be completed by the end of the year. It has, however, taken a little longer than I anticipated, but we're almost there.

Last Tuesday I cycled into Manchester for the final time on this journey. I had my routine pre-operative assessment; bloods, urine, weight, height, blood pressure, ECG and a long questionnaire. All seemed to go well.

I also had the first in a series of MRI scans to begin my part in research I've agreed to, looking at the performance of the remaining kidney following transplant.

Typically, on the last ride there, I had a puncture, thankfully only minutes away from the hospital.

I've just finished packing the car for the journey down to Swansea tomorrow. This really is the last step before I go in for the op. I have an Airbnb booked for tomorrow night, not wishing to make the 200 mile drive twice in a day. I'm looking forward to having dinner with Jamie and his parents in the evening.

On Tuesday, I'm off to Morriston Hospital in Swansea. Jamie tells me it's not the best place to park so my road bike's in the car and I have a bit of a circuit planned for the morning, taking in the hospital. The folk at the Airbnb are happy for me to leave my car there. First I'll meet Suzanne, who was my first contact in this journey back in May. She will take blood samples for a final cross match with Jamie before the operation. After this I'll be meeting Jamie again and we'll have an appointment, together I think, with an independent assessor to check that the donation complies with the Human Tissue Act, crucially that no payment is involved. I believe we both have to sign a declaration.

And, hopefully, that's that. Next stop will be my admission to Manchester late on the 18th February in preparation for the operation the following morning. I'm expecting to be there for 3 or 4 days ish. It all depends on how I am. Jamie's operation will be that same afternoon after my kidney has been hurried down the motorway system to Cardiff, where, I'm sure, he'll be waiting excitedly.

Thanks for reading and following this journey. Find previous posts by clicking "older posts" at the bottom of this page or working your way through the menu on the left side of the page.

Thanks for all the kind messages to both of us along the way. Next time you hear from me on this subject the op will be done. Let's hope for the most positive of outcomes so Jamie can re-engage with his love of the outdoors and an active, enjoyable life.

Here's a daft pic from my Channel to Med ride last summer as an added incentive to my friend Jamie.

Live live to the full!

To read the whole story go to my kidney donation page which you can access on the left side of this blog.