HelenEdith's Blog

The minutiae of my life, plus website updates and book reviews

Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Anything that relates to my life in general.

Leg Ulcers

Posted by HelenEdith on March 25, 2016

Leg ulcers are not a glamorous topic, but they are one that I have become very evangelical about since being afflicted myself in the latter part of 2015.

My Daddy suffered from leg ulcers during the middle part of the 20th Century, when treatments were much less successful and he wore heavy bandages around his legs all day every day and still he used to get a recurring ulcer.

I turned 60 during 2015. I was looking forward to my 60th birthday both because I was looking forward to getting a 60+ Oyster Photocard, which would give me a lot of travel benefits within Greater London; and also because I would get free prescriptions. These two things between them were going to at least help a little with my beleaguered finances!

Meanwhile, my partner Stephen told me I shouldn’t be so keen to turn 60 as it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Sadly, he was proved right, as I was suffering from my first leg ulcer shortly after my birthday.

Some web research turned up the website for the Leg Ulcer Charity and I discovered that since my Daddy suffered from leg ulcers, there had been significant developments in their treatment and that there are now very effective 21st Century treatments available which are even NICE approved within the NHS.

Sadly, I wasn’t initially offered these treatments, but when my ulcers quickly escalated, I was referred to an Ulcer Clinic where I was put into compression bandages. These did actually heal my ulcers, but as I was aware of treatments which lead to a cure of leg ulcers in as many as 85% of cases, I returned to my GP and with the advantage of private insurance through my workplace, I was able to obtain a referral within the private sector where I was seen promptly and I was diagnosed with enlarged veins with incompetent valves in both legs. Within a month, I had laser surgery (EVLT) and I am happy to report that I have had no recurrence of my leg ulcers and I don’t need to wear compression socks for the rest of my life.

I was lucky that I had an understanding employer and that my job is suitable for home-working and I managed to continue working through the nightmare of a raw and infected leg, but just imagine what would have happened if I couldn’t have home-worked: leg ulcers would have been career-threatening.

Now here’s the really ironic bit: leg ulcers managed with compression bandages will heal, but this is often only temporary, so the sufferer will be back into compression bandages again and again, costing the NHS thousands in expensive dressing materials and the time it takes nurses to apply these. EVLT laser surgery (often carried out under local anaesthetic) is a once-off treatment which will cure about 85% of sufferers. Getting one leg done in the private sector will cost about £2,500. It won’t take long to rack up that amount of expenditure with a continual cycle of compression bandages, yet many leg ulcer patients are never offered the opportunity to receive this cost-effective treatment which may not only take away their leg ulcers, but may save their careers and keep them in employment. It will certainly put them in a position to enjoy life a lot more and be a much more useful member of society, whether in or out of the workforce.

In an attempt to get the NHS to follow NICE guidelines, a petition was launched during March 2016. If you live in England, please consider signing this: Cure leg ulcer sufferers whilst saving the NHS hundreds of thousands of pounds

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Time to update the look

Posted by HelenEdith on March 2, 2014

My hair went a while between trims last year and had enough length to be styled into a bob. At the time, I said to the hairdresser that I thought the bob would only survive two trims. It looked good, but it was more effort to keep it looking nice as it needed more blowdryer time. It didn’t often get it, so I just ended up with short curly hair most of the time – and latterly, due to a delay in visiting the hairdresser – not quite so short curly hair. Then a couple of weeks ago I was in a rush and didn’t even put any coloured mousse in it. It turns out that my natural colour is a rather pretty misty grey:

Self - natural hair colour - before haircut

Self – natural hair colour – before haircut

However, it’s also a rather ageing misty grey; and every time the wind blows, those fine ends find their way into every orifice in my face. So today I visited the hairdresser and went back to really short hair; and while she was about it, she put in some coloured mousse:

Self - copper hair mousse - after haircut

Self – copper hair mousse – after haircut

The hairdresser was pretty pleased with her handiwork and so was I. When Stephen got home, he noticed the ‘do’ straight away; and said that it took ten years off my age. I’ve put these two pictures up on FaceBook and I’m getting a gratifying number of ‘likes’ on the ‘After’ picture. I think that was money well spent.

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Big Catch-up

Posted by HelenEdith on September 23, 2011

This blog seems to have lapsed in recent months.

All I can say is that life got rather busy.

First it was building works around the house, which necessitated offloading a lot of our possessions into a self-storage unit at Big Yellow from where most of them have yet to emerge. I do actually miss some of them, but have to wonder about others. All I know is that the monthly rent is crucifying us, so we ought to be retrieving that stuff and finding somewhere to put it.

We also acquired two Bengal kittens, Bennie and Tricki, who are now full-grown cats. At least, I hope they are: Bennie weighs in at over 6kg! They haven’t been a total success as they’re not as friendly as the breed is reputed to be – particularly Tricki. Tricki is also a little unreliable and has just had her bedroom privileges revoked again. It cost £19 to clean the rather nice goose feather duvet which in no way resembles a litter tray, at least to my way of thinking!

Then we had a really bad month in July, which culminated in us losing Stephen’s Mum and inheriting her five cats, one of whom turned out to be in poor health. He also turns out not to like having his pills administered.

Feeding nine cats separated into two separate prides and administering daily medicine to one of them has turned into quite a responsibility. We intend to get the cats all integrated one of these days, but they’re still at the stage of being able to see one another through half inch wire mesh. I think the hissing is becoming less frequent and that Bennie may have stopped growling, so progress is probably coming along.

I’ve managed to keep up with the Beckenham Concert Band, apart from their London Open House engagement, which I did not sign up for. We were originally planning to visit the Crossness pumping works and see an engine in steam, but at the last moment we decided to go to a craft show at Sandown Park instead. It turned out to be everything that the Weald of Kent one we’d visited at Penshurst Place a week or two earlier wasn’t: namely that they were actually selling craft supplies rather than just finished products. Mind you, I managed to purchase six pairs of completed earrings and various pies, jams, chutneys and sauces at the Weald of Kent one. We really enjoyed ourselves at the one at Sandown Park, where we split up so that Stephen could “do” papercraft while I did jewellery and knitting. We’d really meant to do jewellery together, but it just didn’t happen, so maybe we will manage it if we go to the big show at Alexandra Palace.

It looks like I’ve acquired another hobby: in addition to my photography and bassoon playing, I have taken up knitting again. I’ve acquired a really good textbook and I’m knitting some squares at present using patterns in the textbook. They’re mostly turning out pretty well. Maybe I’ll get back into crochet and even learn to tat one of these days.

Work had a little hiccup in July as well as everything else that was going on: Xchanging announced that there would be a number of redundancies and we spent over a month on tenterhooks until we found out who the unlucky people would be. I’ve escaped with my job, but it makes one think. Should I try and stick with Xchanging for the rest of my career and go on contributing to the defined benefits pension scheme I’m in; or should I be looking around. I’m staying put for now, but maybe my new hobby should be studying the RPG IV and RPG ILE textbooks to make me more employable should the unthinkable happen.

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BBC: New Routemaster maker announced

Posted by HelenEdith on December 26, 2009

The design from Aston Martin-Foster

A number of new Routemaster designs have been put forward

A company has been chosen to build the new Routemaster bus for London.

Northern Ireland-based vehicle-making company Wrightbus is Transport for London’s (TfL) preferred manufacturer

TfL said the first of the “greener” and more accessible, hop-on hop-off, double-deckers could be in service by 2011.

Read the rest of the original BBC article here.

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Old but good: Lottery Rollover

Posted by HelenEdith on November 25, 2009

I’ve been looking back through the contents of my Writings Page and found this:

13th September, 1998

Last Wednesday, nobody won the lottery here in the UK, so there was a rollover jackpot on Saturday night.

On Saturday afternoon, I was queueing up at the checkout in Sainsbury’s when a lad came along to remove a stack of baskets from by the checkout; and he discovered a pack of bread rolls, which must have fallen off the conveyor.

I can’t say I was surprised. After all, it was a rollover day.

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More bonfire and fireworks pictures

Posted by HelenEdith on November 9, 2009

I’ve now uploaded my pictures from Saturday night to Chislehurst_Fireworks_20091107 pictures by HelenEdith – Photobucket

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks bonfire flames

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks bonfire flames

I’m wondering whether to start a photographic debate to rival the “fluffy water” debate where some people believe that “real water” is photographed at high shutter speeds; whilst others like to make it flow with a slightly longer shutter speed; and a third group like employing a really long shutter speed so that water looks like fluffy cotton wool.

It’s a bit difficult to achieve a long enough shutter speed to make flames that fluffy because flames are rather bright, but with some neutral density filters, maybe it could be arranged. 🙂

For the picture above, I used ISO 100 and f32 and achieved a shutter speed of 1/45 second. However, I also tried “freezing” flames by using ISO 800 and f6.7, which resulted in a shutter speed of 1/4000 second. This produces the much grittier result seen below.

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks gritty bonfire flames

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks gritty bonfire flames

I always enjoy pointing a camera towards the fireworks display. Sometimes I think I’d see more of the display if I didn’t take the camera. That was particularly true this year when I used the telephoto lens as I was continually realigning the camera. With a wider lens, I can set it up and just operate the remote shutter release without needing to look through the viewfinder at all!

Now, here are a few more of my favourite firework pictures:

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks

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Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks 2009

Posted by HelenEdith on November 8, 2009

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks through a telephoto lens

Chislehurst Rotary Fireworks through a telephoto lens

This evening, Stephen and I went to our local fireworks display at the Chislehurst Recreation Ground. It’s run very efficiently by the local Rotary Club and was very well attended this year.

The gates were open from 6pm and there was a funfair for entertainment until the bonfire was lit at 7pm. To get a good view of the bonfire, you need to gravitate towards it soon after 6:30pm. I left it a fraction late and didn’t have quite the angle of view I wanted, but it worked out fine in the end as I got some interesting smoke pictures which I might put up later.

The fireworks were about 10 minutes late starting as there were still people coming in through the gates at 7:30pm and the stewards correctly decided to get them all in before allowing the display to go ahead. This year’s display was accompanied by music, and lasted a little over 20 minutes.

I usually photograph the fireworks with an extreme wide angle lens. It allows me to capture the flower-like patterns made by the light trails from their launching point to where they explode; but I decided that I’ve done that several years running and I wanted a change, so I used a telephoto lens this year. The success rate with a telephoto lens isn’t as good as it doesn’t cover as great an area, so you’re more liable to miss some of the fireworks, but the images are quite different from those captured with a shorter lens. I decided that I didn’t trust my Sigma 28-300 as the zoom on it is loose and it won’t stay where you zoom it if you point it up in the air. So I got out my old Tamron 85-210 lens for the occasion. I’ve had that lens for over 30 years and it fits right onto my digital SLR. It only works in manual mode, but as I was shooting by holding the shutter release open as long as I felt like, that hardly mattered. I just set the aperture on the aperture ring and got on with it!

Once the fireworks were over, Stephen said I owed him a burger and that he was cold. His hands were certainly cold. We patronised the burger van, but in the end, he paid! Then we walked home, and got wet. Somehow, between the fireworks display and finishing our burgers, the stars we could see in the sky had all disappeared, and rain had crept up on us!

At least our pussy-cat boys have been growing up to the sound of external bangs and have learnt to pay them no attention, so we came home to two nice relaxed cats. In fact, Rolo actually spent an extended spell on my lap! That’s usually Monty’s perch!

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The City and Waverley

Posted by HelenEdith on October 20, 2009

City skyline with Waverley at Tower Pier

City skyline with Waverley at Tower Pier

On the evening when I took my camera up to town to take a look at Waverley, I took some wider shots which showed The City skyline. It was the first time I have looked at the City skyline in the dark since the Willis Building was finished, and I notice that it has a vertical light going up one side of its tower.

Waverley is tied up at Tower Pier down in the river part of the shot.

City skyline with Waverley at Tower Pier

City skyline with Waverley at Tower Pier

I zoomed in closer, excluding the Swiss Re “Gherkin” building from my second shot. I liked the composition a bit better.

Waverley at Tower Pier

Waverley at Tower Pier

Then I went in closer again. Plantation Place is at the top of the skyline of this picture.

I think that I did better about four years ago with my Pentax *ist DS than I did with the Pentax K10D and these pictures, but I wouldn’t blame the camera. I’m out of photographic practice; and I was about a half hour too late for the best light.

Maybe I’ll do better next year… 🙂

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Waverley in the dark

Posted by HelenEdith on October 19, 2009

Waverley passes through Tower Bridge

Waverley passes through Tower Bridge

My personal timetable didn’t allow me many opportunities to see Waverley during her Thames season this year. I did snap her on my cameraphone one day, but least said about that is probably best!

I did haul my camera up to town one day and watched her pass through Tower Bridge, but she was really a half an hour behind optimal lighting conditions and this isn’t the best Tower Bridge lift picture I’ve ever taken!

Waverley at Tower Pier

Waverley at Tower Pier

This was probably the best picture I took. I set my tripod up on one of the Tower Bridge piers for this. There’s no point in doing tripod work from the suspension sections or the bascules as they are not steady enough!

Waverley under tow approaching Tower Bridge

Waverley under tow approaching Tower Bridge

This is probably the worst picture that I will admit to taking. Believe me, there are a lot which are considerably worse in my reject pile! I just couldn’t achieve a fast enough shutter speed to freeze Waverley’s motion and now I want a Pentax K-7!!!

I hadn’t stood on Tower Bridge and watched Waverley approach before, so it was an interesting thing to do. She departed from Tower Pier and went up near London Bridge, where her tug swung her around. Then she stayed under tow for her departure.

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Busy, busy, busy…

Posted by HelenEdith on October 9, 2009

There hasn’t been much time for blogging lately.

My http://www.wuronga.me.uk webspace got hacked. I’ve taken out the bad stuff and changed my passwords, but I’ve had to submit it to Google for reconsideration as Google has flagged it for malware. 😦

I finally got rid of the priority-2 items on my work queue. I’ve been working on a variety of items with lower priorities, and have cleared up a couple and am well on my way with a third.

Waverley was in London between 7pm and 7:45pm this evening and I hauled my camera and tripod up to town to take pictures. It’s a pity that she wasn’t there a half hour earlier as it was a bit too dark for good pictures. Now I want a Pentax K-7 as I reckon that has a high enough ISO setting that I might have got my pictures this evening!

The Beckenham Concert Band are doing a memorial concert for Ken Messenger on Saturday. It’s in the Hayes Free Church on Pickhurst Lane and it’s for a good cause: the kidney charity associated with the hospital where Ken received dialysis for the best part of a decade.

I’m supposed to be getting music to practise for a massed bands concert on November 11th up at Central Hall, Westminster. It will be interesting to participate in, and being the daughter of a returned serviceman, taking part will have considerable personal meaning for me.

The kittens continue to grow. They look like proper little cats to me, although Stephen has seen his Mum’s cats today and that cuts ours right back to size for him! Monty is the better jumper. Rolo’s success rate is much lower, and sometimes he sits of the floor and mews pitifully when his brother achieves a more elevated position.

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