Thursday, 24 September 2015


I cannot take credit, or blame, for the side-splittingly funny blog title. That honour goes to my friend Morag, who has been hugely helpful, along with my other friends, over the past few days.

Most regular readers will no doubt be familiar with the bicycle crash in Wyoming two months ago. Recovery has been going really well and the only remaining ailment is rehabilitation of my wrist after the cast was removed three weeks ago.

Or so I comfortably thought.

About 10 days ago I started to feel a tension headache, as if my brain was too big for the inside of my skull. I took various headache meds, but for some curious reason none of them worked. As the week progressed the tension started to feel worse as if someone was tightening a strap around my head.

By Friday I was experiencing sharp stabbing pains in the right side of my head, so painful that it would stop me in my tracks and make me screw up my eyes. Maybe I was starting to suffer from migraines I thought. I was aware that after a head trauma you can experience headaches for up to a year after, so I took off to a local all-night supermarket pharmacy and bought the strongest painkillers I could find.

The following day I was teaching six classes of film making to young student minds, as I do every week, and in the evening I was out with friends, but went home early, feeling rough.

During the night I awoke knowing that this was something more than a migraine. At this point I made no connection with the bicycle crash. That was a full two months ago afterall.

I took myself off to the nearest hospital triage unit and, after me telling them, almost as an aside to the pain I was in, about the bicycle crash and the head impact, they immediately whisked me off for a CT scan. The result was both astonishing and scary. The right hemisphere of my brain had been compressed to two thirds of its size due to a large clot the size of a splayed out hand.

It seemed as if I had no sooner been shown the scan result, than a wheelchair turned up and I was racing across the city of Edinburgh in an ambulance to the waiting neurological surgical team on the opposite side of the city.

Five days later and I'm sitting upright resting in the same hospital, the operation a distant memory now. For those medically minded among you, the procedure was an "evacuation of a subdural haematoma". The only thing to show now is two small shaved patches of hair and two permanent holes in my head, now covered by healing skin.

It is all quite surreal. It turned out that I had been bleeding since the impact. It would never have shown up until three to five weeks later, or, as happened, when symptoms presented themselves.

I recall a few days after the crash, at the end of July, saying how fortunate it was that I had been wearing a helmet and that things could have been quite different without one. But now I find it unsettling that if I can end up with this emergency situation months later having worn a helmet . . . well, needless to say it is obvious to me now what not wearing one would have resulted in.

Look on the bright side though, what a great addition to the film!

I am one very lucky boy.

Thursday, 17 September 2015


Something I associate closely with American culture is "pie". It is a great generic term for lots of delicious homemade fruit pies encased in golden pastry, and having recently returned from the US it is something I recall with great fondness.

Just a few days ago I was out for a walk along a usual path in my neighbourhood. At one point I decided to take a detour down a less used path that disappeared into an overgrown area of thick woods and bushes. As I fought my way through, feeling like a kid again on an adventure, I suddenly stopped as my eyes beheld a wondrous sight.

Hidden away in this overgrown area was a secret forest of brambles, all drooping with ripe blackberries. I had nothing with me in which to collect them, so the following day I returned with bag in hand. As I approached the thicket I checked over my shoulder to make sure no one had seen me entering what I now declared was my secret stash of blackberries. Gently I eased each individual plump berry from it's stalk, working my way through the expanse of jaggy brambles.

Purple hands stained from the juice of the berries and bulging bag in hand, I returned home and gently washed the gathered fruits. Using a recipe from the internet I then made a batch of gluten-free shortcrust pastry, lined a pie tin and blind baked it in the oven. Once cooled I piled high the blackberries into the pastry case and covered it with another layer of pastry.

Glazed, and dusted in sugar I carefully slid it into the oven. I awaited the result, pacing up and down, as the oven worked its magic. Occasionally I'd peep inside the oven, just to make sure all was going according to plan. Then, finally, the timer went "ping!" Tentatively I slid the tin out of the oven, carrying it slowly to the kitchen table as if it was a bomb about to go off, then just stood and admired its beauty.

It just sat there, cooling, this golden coloured piece of heaven, releasing its heady aroma of mouthwatering deliciousness. I was desperate to cut into it, anxious that it it might not have worked.

Somehow I managed not to touch it until my friend Pauline to return home from work. Patiently I waited until she finished her dinner. Then, finally, the moment of truth. We carefully cut two large slices and made "cor" noises as the dark purple filling revealed itself from inside it's golden, crispy envelope. Several satisfied noises were made as we otherwise silently, and slowly, munched every bite, our taste buds exploding with pleasure. It was all we could do to resist eating it all in one sitting!

There's every need for pie.

Thursday, 10 September 2015


It's been a fun week with lots going on in Edinburgh, and a very productive week filming it all and cutting it together in my edit suite.

In June this year the young students that I teach film to every Saturday filmed six movies that they had written themselves. It's taken a while to edit them all but this week the music soundtracks were added and the films were completed. The students mission was to produce all the films without any dialogue, and still tell a story. This they achieved remarkably well, and some of these students are only six years old! Click here to see one of the films made by the teenagers.

Wednesday was a manic day of filming in two locations. The first was incredibly exciting. The Tour of Britain cycle race was on stage four out of Edinburgh to Blyth, in Northumberland, about 110 miles. Their route was to pass very close to where I live, and so I decided to position myself on a long straight section of road on the outskirts of Edinburgh to film the action. My guess was they would attempt to sprint here.

When I got to the location there was no one about, and I felt slightly disappointed that there weren't lots of cheering crowds, but all the better for me as I could pick and choose were to film from. I settled on a pedestrian crossing island in the middle of the wide road. However, this was to prove hair raising!  It was all over in seconds, but as they rocketed toward me they did indeed sprint, then decided to swap sides of the road, then back again, then split in two to go either side of me. It was a WOW moment. Click here to see the result.

Just an hour later I was positioned on the embankment of a railway line. Not just any railway line, but the longest section of railway to have been built in the UK for over 100 years. This new line reopens a stretch closed in the 1960s by Beaching, and stretches 30 miles from Edinburgh to Tweedbank in the Borders. To celebrate, a steam train, called the Union of South Africa, with Pullman coaches carrying  HM the Queen and several lucky people, rumbled and tooted its way passed me. Like the cycle race, it was over quickly, but click here of you'd like to see the historic moment.

All in all an exciting week of history in the making.

Friday, 4 September 2015


If you're a regular reader of my blog you will know all the gory details of what happened to me in Wyoming on 26 July this year whilst on a cycle touring holiday. If you don't then hit this link.

Last week I had the cast removed and to my relief they did not put on another one. However, the pain in my wrist was something else! And it was without any power at all. The slightest movement was agony. I was given several exercises which I have to do three times a day, and within just this past week I've managed to go from two or three reps per exercise, to 30. I am, pardon the pun, well on the road to recovery.

I am an impatient person though, and I thought that once the cast came off I would be back on my bike. Not the case. The doctor and physio at the hospital have advised at least four weeks to build up the strength in my wrist. This was of immediate concern for my fitness. It's almost six weeks since the crash and I know my fitness has mostly gone.

But I have found a solution.

I have purchased what is called a turbo trainer. This is a magnetic resistance roller on a frame that you connect your own bicycle into. I can then cycle the road indoors without the risk to my wrist. I discovered after buying the kit that you cannot use a normal tyre on the rear wheel, so I have just taken delivery of a specific trainer tyre. I got to thinking that I might lose the will very quickly if I have to repeatedly change the rear tyre.

So the next solution was to buy a second hand rear wheel with a quick release. Now all I have to do is change the wheel over. A lot quicker and simpler.

To combat the boredom there are several cycle training films that I can watch, projected onto my home cinema screen in the lounge, and I have a wealth of music to listen to. I've been told it is intensely boring, but if it helps me recover faster then I'm ready and willing.

The spare wheel is on its way and should arrive early next week so I can start the next phase of getting back to normal.

I don't have my Sky Team cycling top that I used in America anymore, but within a few weeks of using my trainer I reckon I'll be able to give Bradley Wiggins a run for his money!