Sunday, July 31, 2016

My First Walk After My Diagnosis

Hooton Roberts, Firsby, Clifton, Old Edlington, and Balby

Today felt good, very good: I had a lot more energy, no cramp or aching muscles, no shortness of breath, and a lot less sweating. The megadose of vitamin D and the daily, much smaller, maintenance dose is certainly working...and I've got a lot more improvement in my health to look forward to for the next two years.

Today was a local walk, just a thirty minute trip on the bus out towards Rotherham. There's some decent countryside in the area though, and a few hills to test me; and I passed with flying colours. I'm very pleased with my progress so far, still less than a week after my formal diagnosis of rickets and insulin resistance.

I got off the bus at Hooton Roberts, a pretty limestone hill village and found the footpath I needed, visiting one of the areas away from the main road.

Some nice views opened up as I walked down the lane, and then across a field, to Firsby down in the bottom of the valley.

I hoped to be able to walk all the way round Firsby Reservoir but it was too overgrown, like a couple of other stretches later in the walk. There are some nice houses at Firsby though; it's only a hamlet.

I continued to Ravenfield Common where I ate my sandwiches; it's a lovely spot, about 400ft above sea level with extensive views to the north.

I needed to walk along the road for a few minutes and then took the path which would eventually take me to Clifton. At Birk Lodge I ran into a spot of bother. The sign indicating the bridleway was very clear and prominently positioned but the gate which I needed to go through was padlocked. Thinking that the farmer had temporarily diverted the path I took the most obvious alternative route...right through the farmyard. There was no other alternative. I had just climbed over a gate and was setting off across a field when I heard him yell out. I stopped, turned around,  and approached him, ready to give him a piece of my mind if he was rude or aggressive. Actually he was very pleasant and said that there were bulls in the bottom of the field, out of sight. I explained that the gate where the path was, was padlocked, but I could easily climb over...nothing more was said...peace prevailed. The section where the padlocked gate is is actually a bridleway and there's no way that a person on horseback could get by - I'll leave that problem for someone else to sort out though.

The next landmark was Clifton Hill.

I sat down for a few minutes and enjoyed the views from the summit before continuing into Clifton. Just beyond the village, at the top of the lane across the fields that leads to Old Edlington I got talking to a middle-aged couple who had just finished tended to their horses. I mainly talked to the husband and it wasn't long until the subject of  our mutual very low vitamin D levels came up...we were quite competitive when we were talking about our respective megadoses - he couldn't quite remember what his most recent dosage was but he whipped out his current prescription medication; chewable high dose calcium and vitamin D pastilles.

When I reached Old Edlington I discovered that there's a plumbed in portaloo in the churchyard; that information has been filed away for future reference.

For the final section of the walk I had planned to finish at Warmsworth but I got completely lost and came out at the car park at Edlington Pit Woods. I then walked towards Balby, hoping to soon catch a bus back into town. At every bus stop I passed there was only an hourly service on Sundays; I had to walk all the way up to the main A630 road, where there are plenty of buses.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Hessle Foreshore and Hull

I wouldn't have chosen to go out for the day today if it was entirely my decision. However, I have to book days out with my support worker at least a week in advance, and I can only have the days when she's available.   

It actually stayed dry most of the time, but there was still quite a bit of drizzle...and one heavy shower when we happened to be passing by the parish church and so popped inside...and ended up having a pleasant chat with the vicar - we were the second couple from Doncaster who he'd met today.

We ate our sandwiches on the foreshore at Hessle with a clear view of the Humber Bridge; the weather was quite bright for a few minutes...but not for long.

Yet again we struggled to find a city centre car park and later find our way out to the west. There was enough dry weather to visit the Old Town and walk along the waterfront before we just had a look round the shops.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Blood Test Results

I went to the surgery this morning for my results...and it's good news, it can easily be fixed. I've been diagnosed with a severe case of vitamin D deficiency...or adult rickets.

The doctor has prescribed me a massive one-off dose of vitamin D3 of 100,000 international units and then a maintenance dose of 800 units a day for the moment.

I've just been researching the disease online and my prognosis is very good, in effect I could end up feeling twenty years younger: no more excessive sweating, no more leg cramps and muscle spasms, no more problems with my bowels, no more general aches and pains...and my muscles, my thigh muscles in particular, should be a lot stronger and not feel as though they're on fire when I'm struggling to climb over stiles towards the end of a walk.

I should be feeling the benefits straight away. I haven't got my next walk planned yet; I'll still keep it relatively short and easy..and see how I feel.

I'm feeling pretty good at the moment though.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Visiting Buxton With Justin

Today took quite a bit of organising, what with the limited direct bus service to Buxton from Sheffield, but additional options going via Baslow or Bakewell to contend with, the hilly terrain of Buxton itself, visits to the toilet, managing Justin's limited mobility, dodging the Festival crowds, and always bearing in mind that I'm not Justin's carer or support worker.

We got off the bus at the Market Place, at the top of the hill. Justin had heard about a bookshop in the vicinity and so we quickly found it and investigated whether it was promising or not. I think Justin wanted to linger a while...but he also wanted his dinner and then to move on to the Book Fair down at the Pavilion Gardens.

There must be six or eight pubs in the Market Place, yet none of them appeared to be open, or serving food, so we had fish and chips in an overpriced restaurant. I didn't want to go down the hill into the main part of the town because it was busy and we might have had difficulty finding somewhere suitable. We were here for Justin to visit the Book Fair...not to spend a lot of time looking for somewhere to eat.

We were served, and finished our meal quite quickly and then made straight for the Pavilion Gardens complex. Justin was very disappointed to discover that the Book Fair was being held in a quite small marquee. We made plans for him to phone me up a few minutes before he'd seen everything; I thought this would give me maybe an hour to have a look around on my own. It was barely twenty minutes until the phone rang though; I managed to have a short walk in the Pavilion Gardens outside, pop into the Museum [most of which was closed] and have a short conversation with Laurel and Hardy on my way to meet up with Justin.

This is the only photograph I'm including today. I didn't take that many, I had other things on my of the main things was making sure that Justin didn't accidentally stumble into a performance being giving by the Morris dancers, or clog dancers. They were everywhere....unfortunately so was Justin if I didn't keep an eye on him.

We bought ice creams, Justin bought a Derbyshire Wayfarer ticket from the Tourist Information Office and then we went in all of the charity shops situated along the pedestrianised precinct. We were both a bit tired, and Justin was thirsty, so we had soft drinks in a pub which seemed to be frequented by the locals. The most striking thing was the sign above the bar 'No F*cking Barracking. No F*cking Fighting. No Dad Dancing.'..Oh....and there was dog that was nearly as big as Justin.

We had to spend nearly an hour in another pub until our bus was due. I enjoyed watching the cricket...Justin ate a packet of crisps.

The bus we caught was the number 66 going to Chesterfield; so we had to get off at Baslow and wait for the 218 back to Sheffield. According to the timetable we had twenty minutes to wait for the next bus; plenty of time for me to go for a pee and for Justin to get something from the shop. I'd just left the toilet block when I noticed the 218 approaching - it was the earlier service which was by now over ten minutes late. At the top of my voice I shouted, "JUSTIN!!! THE BUS." 

He heard me and rushed out of the shop, so did the old man who went to the toilets at the same time as me...he was busily struggling to fasten his zip as he crossed the road.

Job done.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Bentley Bridge, Lumsdale, Matlock Green, Matlock, Oaker, Darley Bridge, and Darley Dale

My second visit to Lumsdale, one of the treasures of the Peak District; a series of spectacular weirs and waterfalls tumble down a steep, deep overgrown gorge, passing through the ruins of about a dozen old mills and sundry buildings. There are  steep  narrow steps, dark and threatening tunnels, wobbly stepping stones, buildings overlaid with vines and tree roots, millponds as still as mirrors, precarious overhanging walkways, loud splashpools, and the ever present noise and spray of the water...pretty much everything you'd expect in an Indiana Jones film or the latest Tarzan adventure...the only things missing were dinosaurs, large snakes hanging from the trees, and human sacrifices. I love this place.

Today I was climbing down all the steps, probably more difficult to do than climbing up them. I was desperate for a pee when I got off the bus and so headed for the first footpath I could find, which conveniently soon ended up passing through woodland where I could easily find somewhere to take care of my business. By taking this path it meant that I approached the top of Lumsdale by a longer, but more scenic, route.

There was a family visiting Lumsdale and so my progress was slowed down by me having to wait for them to move on before I could visit various locations and take photographs; I could get up right close to the waterfalls though by clambering over rocks and getting right down to the water's edge, even standing right in it at times; I could feel the spray from the waterfalls in my face.

At the bottom of Lumsdale there's a small parking area; a couple of middle-aged men with quite impressive looking cameras asked me how easy it was to reach the ruins...and if the site is as good as they'd been told.

After talking to them I soon found the path which took me down to the main road to the east of Matlock at Matlock Green. I popped in to the shop to buy a chilled carton of milk. The woman behind the counter, realising I was a walker asked me how far I'd come to visit Lumsdale. When I told her that I'd travelled from Doncaster she seemed quite excited and asked me if I could look at something. She went over to her purse and pulled out a piece of paper with an address written on it; the address was in Rawcliffe Bridge, a village with a Doncaster (DN) postcode even though it's quite close to Goole. She asked if I knew the place; I told her that I'd only travelled through it. She then asked if it was 'good' - I didn't know what she meant and so just told her everything I knew about Rawcliffe Bridge. I didn't know where this conversation was going and was glad when someone came in to buy a newspaper.

It's only a short walk to Hall Leys Park at Matlock. It was very busy today.

I crossed over the bridge in the town centre and headed northwards on the Derwent Valley Heritage Trail which follows the river upstream.  A unicyclist wobbled past me, the first time this has happened on one of my walks.

A mile or so further on I heard the sound of laughing and screaming coming from the riverbank and noticed four teenagers, three boys and a girl, stripping off ready to go for a swim in the river. By the time I reached them the boys were down to their trunks, very small and very tight, and the girl wasn't wearing much either, either skintone or see-through bra and knickers...I stopped for a few seconds just to check.

There was some lovely countryside as I approached Darley Bridge from the south.

I had hoped to reach Rowsley, or even Chatsworth House, today, but the Achilles' tendon on my right foot was sore, so I bailed out at Darley Dale. I recently read online that sore and tight Achilles' tendons are usually caused by bone spurs growing on the back of the heels; I've certainly got those, they can be caused by a vitamin D deficiency...something that I suspect I might be suffering from. My GP certainly thought so when he ordered my blood tests, the results of which I will get on Monday...I've already been told that one test came back positive though. Jumping the gun I've already been taking vitamin D supplements, twice the regular dose actually, and I'm already seeing some benefits; my excessive sweating has pretty much dried up, my cramps and muscles spasms are no more, my bowel movements are much less frequent and I haven't been bothered by diarrhoea, I'm less fatigued generally, and my thigh and arm muscles seem to be a bit stronger. The only problem is that these improvements don't last all day, so I think I need to be put on a much higher dose.

I caught the bus into Bakewell and had thirty five minutes to wait for the next bus to Sheffield. I just spent the time sitting in Bath Gardens which are located right next to the bus stop, and started writing up this blog post. The sun popped out for a few minutes and so I took some photographs.

The bus was twenty minutes late and was very crowded, even though it was a double decker.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Winster Secret Gardens And Scarecrow Trail 2016

I've already been to two Open Gardens days this summer with Siobhan, my support worker; to Birchover and Bonsall. Well, today we enjoyed walking round gardens in Winster, in the same small area of the Peak District.

The weather could have been better, it was cloudy all day with quite prolonged periods of light drizzle; nothing too much to stop anyone from visiting the gardens though. It was quite busy; we had to queue to get in to a couple of the gardens.

When we reached Birchover, the village just north of Winster, I was surprised to find out it was their Carnival Day. Our car was delayed by the festivities, especially a renegade class of St. Trinian's schoolgirls [complete with hockey sticks] who were flashing their knickers and cleavage at everyone...and then by a troupe of Morris dancers who were dancing around us on all sides, jumping in unison and waving their handkerchiefs at us.

There were twenty three gardens for us to visit in Winster, we managed twenty two of them; we couldn't find garden number 18, Mount View. To be honest, we didn't look that hard though, by this time we were quite tired and were just making our way back to the car by the quickest route. 

The third garden we visited featured a large lawn where there had been a duel over two hundred years ago between a Dr. Cuddie and a Mr. Brittlebank caused by their rival affections for a young lady in the village. Dr. Cuddie lost and is buried in the churchyard, Mr. Brittlebank fled to Australia.

The scarecrow trail added a bit of extra interest to the day, some of them were quite unusual though; I'm not quite sure why a crow in a field in the middle of Derbyshire [an inland county] would be scared of a deep sea diver.

Although the gardens probably aren't as steep overall as the ones we visited in Birchover and Bonsall the lanes and ginnels in the village are very steep and there are some lovely views from some of the hillside gardens. Obviously these views weren't as clear as they can be due to the murky weather...therefore most of the following photographs are close-up shots of interesting and quirky things I noticed.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

High Bradfield, Low Bradfield, and Hathersage

I've started today's blog post with a photograph of an elephant sculpture; it was the third one I'd seen on my walk up to the bus stop on Arundel Gate. There are many more positioned throughout Sheffield city centre; it's a fundraising and publicity campaign by a charity.

I caught the bus to High Bradfield and took some photographs of the area near to the church; it was quite cloudy, and remained so all day.

I then found the footpath which goes down across the fields to Low Bradfield. Looking at the route on a map I thought it would be a leisurely stroll; it was quite difficult in places though, quite steep, very overgrown at times...and muddy.

At the bottom of the hill I had a good look around Low Bradfield, calling in the shop and visiting the public toilets. The shop also serves as the village post office, newsagent and tea rooms...and there's a pretty holiday cottage right next door also managed by the same couple.

The toilets were a bit basic; there were no lights and the automatic handwasher and drier didn't work...oh, and there was no toilet seat either.

My route over the moors to Hathersage included views of several reservoirs, a folly, and a walk along the top of the northern end of Stanage Edge. Conditions for photography were poor; I rarely took my camera out of its case.

This is the only decent image I captured.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Wentworth, Greasbrough, and Scholes

My second walk with Chris, Maureen, and Jonathan from Leeds. Same as for the first walk I met them at the shops at Woodlands; it's convenient for Chris, he can just drop off the A1 and drive down the dual carriageway. We then drove to Wentworth Garden Centre where we parked. It was raining quite heavily when we arrived and continued to be wet until about midday, just as predicted by the weather forecast. After everyone had used the toilets and I had popped into the farm shop to check to see if they'd got any rabbit pies [they didn't] we set off in the rain.

It was very dark and miserable day, even when it wasn't raining - there's always plenty of colour at the garden centre though.

We started by walking along the village's high street; Wentworth is a very pretty village but nowhere looks its best in this weather.

We then found the footpath which goes through the fields at the back of the village, emerging out onto the main road opposite the entrance to Wentworth Park. After a few minutes we reached the stables block on our right. This is a very impressive building and I suppose if I hadn't built up the massive size of Wentworth Woodhouse earlier I could possibly have had some fun with my friends persuading them that the stables were actually the stately home itself.

A few hundred yards further on we got our first view of Wentworth Woodhouse, the largest private residence in Europe I think...with one room for every day of the year [no-one is sure as to how many rooms there are, 365 or 366.] Unfortunately you can't get up very close, but we posed for photographs with the impressive 606 ft long facade as a backdrop.

We continued downhill further into the park passing by a herd of cattle at close quarters and noticed the deer in the distance.

My plan was to turn right and head towards the village of Scholes. Unfortunately I was distracted by talking and enjoying myself that I missed the path and so we ended up arriving at the edge of Greasbrough, at a modern housing estate. After a boring walk of quite a few minutes we spotted a path that took us back into open country, passing through some lovely rolling countryside.

We finally reached Scholes, a village with some rather expensive-looking houses; I took a photograph of one of the front gardens which had a privet mini-maze.

At the top end of the village we took the footpath across the fields which would bring us out further up the road, much closer to Wentworth. We ended up getting slightly lost and had to climb over some fencing; fortunately it was new and quite sturdy and only Maureen struggled a bit with it.

We arrived back at the garden centre less than ten minutes later than I had planned; not a bad effort. 

When I got home there was a letter from my GP's surgery on the mat. I had been for some blood tests nearly a fortnight ago and haven't heard anything and so assumed the results were negative. Well, that's not the case...I need to make an appointment to see the doctor; I was tested for rickets, malaria, hyperthyroidism, and diabetes.

We finally reached Scholes, a linear village with some rather expensive-looking houses; I