Balloon Repair Station

Welcome 22.12.2019

Here we are back again after a longer break which was neither expected nor planned. As reported back in April, our Pete fell out of a tree breaking his back in the process. That is still giving him jip but continues to heal slowly. As a result of the fall he had a full on body scan, especially to his head. What transpired was that they found a disturbing rather large shadow on his brain. A further scan and tests revealed a disturbingly large tumour which was deemed to have very aggressive tendencies, so much so that further tests were not needed. The news came as a huge shock to everyone as he had showed no signs of having it, which did puzzle the doctors somewhat. It is something we really didn’t want to hear. The upshot was very simple. Had he not fallen out of the tree it is certain that, at the stage it was and if it wasn’t operated on quickly, it would have developed further, which would have caused a massive seizure and there would have been nothing that could have been done. Grasping the meaning of this revelation, as a mark of defiance, he only went and did 64 miles (six weeks after the back incident) of The Ridgeway, from Avebury, with Dave the Gin in three days! Pete was admitted to The Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford at the end of June and underwent an eleven hour operation, mostly whilst conscious, carried out by the wonderful Dr Vas Apostolopoulos and his team, to remove as much as possible. Unfortunately right at the end, when they had got as much as they felt they safely could and were closing up, he suffered a massive seizure and swelling of the brain. As you would expect they are prepared for things like that and every red button was hit and he was descended upon by crash teams numerous and immediately put into an induced coma. The Neurosurgery Unit at the Radcliffe is an amazing place and the care afforded him was, and remains, outstanding. I really don’t do hospitals but the peace and tranquillity of the wards was amazing. Most of the tumour has been removed and they are confident that following the radio therapy, he has now completed, and the chemo he has just started, what remains should become controllable. After spending months in hospital and rehabilitation Pete is now recovering as well as can be expected. He did suffer a loss of use of his right hand side, which has now returned to all but his hand, which still has a bit of a separate agenda, and his speech has been affected. He knows what he wants to say but by the time he has the words sorted he’s either forgotten or they won’t come out, a bit of a short-circuit somewhere, but we’re getting there. Prior to the operation his physical recovery was going well but months of recovering in hospital meant his physical strength declined so that has to be built up gently. During his stay at The Radcliffe, and afterwards in rehab, between us all, we escaped with him on numerous occasions but only on the promise he was returned before curfew. This helped us and him immensely. He has suffered no further seizures, the worst is now over and we are now into starting the long haul back to fitness. That his speech is slow is a bit of a blessing as he no longer rambles on at length. A huge thanks goes out to everyone who sent their good wishes and offered valuable help and advice. If you bump into him (or he into you) please don’t try and finish his sentences as they are often not necessarily started and it drives him nuts. (o:

As you have hopefully realised, the planned articles and updating of the website has been put back a fair bit. Apologies. Now though, with the first week of Pete’s chemo completed and nothing untoward occurring its time to press forward. As we (Barry actually) had not had to publish stuff, in the interim the website internals have required update and change so there is a fair amount to do to get it sorted. If stuff goes bonkers or doesn’t appear be sure we (Barry) are merely rebuilding it, or whatever the computerybloggy term is. We have managed to update the Events page so any events up and coming this year that are not there please let us know. Luckily for us Steve Roake had sent us ‘What makes the British Summer great?’, so that was used as the first trial to see what was going on publishing-wise. I did start a piece on the ‘Longest Day Celebrations’ but events overtook us and, on the Winter Solstice (my brother’s birthday), that will now be held back until the depths of winter as a look forward to summer thing. Quite what other articles come out I’ve no idea at the moment but I’m sure they’ll be an update on the ‘fill your basket with Health and safety stuff’ and the forthcoming Part 66 Inspector Licences. I have given up trying to keep abreast of the EASA licences and their effect on ballooning. I won’t be applying to become an EASA Examiner. There has been some very mixed weather this year that put paid to an event or two and as I didn’t get to any meets this year they will be covered in the news bit which, I reckon, will be a bit of a tome! We did get out Spain on a walking frenzy, and later a trip to empty Godfrey’s pad ahead of a makeover, and I’m sure I started an article if I can find it. We have had some nice walks this year but none of any real distance. That’ll be next year. Hopefully we’ll be dragging Pete out more and more to get him fit enough to split logs. Best we join Pete and Dave the Gin and complete the remaining bits of the Ridgeway but that will involve walking through the village past (unlikely) the Swan!

The Dark Barn has, like most things been left to its own devices but we have had a bit of a Biffa out and a long hard think about what needs to go. We did manage to acquire a very rusty low mileage Hilux engine engine for me old faithful pickup. It came from the Shetlands and was apparently the only bit worth saving from the Mk3 Hilux it came from, having been used regularily to haul a fishing boat out the sea! When it turned up on a pallet it had the gearbox and front propshaft with it. Result, but even the sump was rusty. That will keep us busy for a week or two and although the newer truck is all very nice and the radio works its not the same!

Only remains to once again thank you so much all for the kind words and thoughts and to wish you a really great Christmas and a peaceful New Year to come. We will also thankyou everso much for your custom and support and understanding through what has been a tricky old year. Top piccie is Pete and The Gin in his rusty car at this years’ Kop Hillclimb. Second up is our Pete having a chat with the fairies or probably ‘with the fairies’ at our famous Fairy Tree. Third down is a truly British celebration of Midsummer’s Day on Coombe Hill this year which Pete enjoyed a couple of days before his operation and now remembers nothing about. Finally all that is wonderful, Eddie’s Holloway off The Hale above Wendover. All things being equal and the weather fair we will catch up with some of you at The Icicle Unfrozen. All the very best from John (now fully recovered and vaping more), Jane, Polly and Chris.