Category Archives: Cancer Support Bradford & Airedale

The dreaded Cellulitis…..

480426_10151718805790831_1601438609_n In 2007 whilst on holiday in Lanzarote I suddenly became mysteriously ill. It wasn’t like it was something obvious it was just a gradual feeling over a few hours. I recall coming back from a place called “Rancho Texas” and suspecting I had been bitten by a fly of some variety. It could well have been Spanish but as flies don’t speak I couldn’t really ask it could I? Whatever it was took a real fancy to my blood and within twenty-four hours I was flat on my back, sweating profusely and craving cold drinks. We were staying at Lomo Blanco Apartments in Puerto del Carmen and as far as I can recall with only two or three days to go until our plane ride home I did nothing but sleep. Much of this was down to heaps of Panadol kindly dispensed by my loving wife Elaine but with all good intentions she wanted to get me home. In hindsight she was right, ten days in the Leeds General Infirmary has a little more appeal than being stuck on your own in a Spanish hospital 1800 miles from home. I am sure you see where I am coming from here.

After getting me on the plane drugged up to the eyeballs I managed to get home. Looking back, two things spring to mind… firstly, I cannot even remember the journey home and secondly, how in the name of all thats holy did I get away with it? It would only have taken an eagle eyed flight attendant to realise how sick I was. Once home a call to “NHS Direct” for advice seemed the right things to do. When the call was made with all the symptoms it must have come across as a little misleading to the call handler and we awere advised that “deep vein thrombosis” was likely. I think the fact that I had just stepped off an aircraft may have swayed the decision in this direction to be fair. Anyway, that was not the point… Elaine was instructed not to panic and to get me to Accident and Emergency like…rapid. And thats exactly what happened.

My home for the next week or so was a darkened ward in the bowels of the Leeds General Infirmary called the “High Dependency Unit”. Here, I lay with my feet in an awkward postion much higher than my head and drugged up to the eyeballs much like I was in the final days of my holiday to the Canary Islands.

I was very lucky really, bites like this can be poisonous and if not treated can do real damage. Since then, my legs are painful and the skin is very soft and even the slightest knock will cause them to bruise quicker than an old tomato. The price I pay for this means I have to be careful, much like I wasnt the following year when back in Lanzarote when I scraped my leg on a the rough edge of a plastic sunbed and tore a hole on my shin. What I have managed to do is stay clear of flies and mosquitoes. Two more visits to the Canary Islands and I have stayed bite free. All down to special wipes, wristbands and a loving and caring wife who obvisouly doesnt want to see me in that state again. This was until last Friday…..when the unexpected happened…in Cottingley. Yes, Cottingley del Sol.

A beautiful summers evening and the last thing that was on my mind was the dangers of the British fly. I was at the Moonlight Walk hosted by ny good friends at Cancer Support Bradford & Airedale  — if you get a chance please take a look at the great fundraising and events the friends do…they are nothing short of fantastic.  They often ask me to take photographs for them and as its my passion I never turn down an opportunity. The event was to be held at Cottingley Fitness & Wellbeing Centre near Bingley. The place has fantastic grounds including a lovely water feature and open lawns. Ideal for an event of this kind I am sure you will agree. It also appears that it was ideal for an old friend of mine, one that was to come back an haunt me with a bang. The Fly !

It had never crossed my mind when getting ready that on a beautiful summers evening I would be better covering up my legs or caking them in Jungle Formula Insect Repellent. Afterall this is West Yorkshire not the Canary Islands.  I had been taking photographs of the participants (below)

and all was going well. I was sat by one of the tables near the edge of the lawn when I felt a sharp pain in the side of my left leg. I looked down and to my horror saw a black humped shaped insect drawing blood from the depths of my calf. How rude ! Without permission too, surely that constitutes theft? With a swipe of my hand I tried to remove said creature from my leg but it was going nowhere fast. I had to physically pick it from the hole itself had created. I was left with a trickle of blood and a feeling of nervousness came over me. What if this brought back my Cellulitis?

After a few panic ridden text exchanges with Elaine I thought nothing else of it until the next morning. I woke with a slightly more swollen pair of legs than I went to bed with, a warmer and hotter (not in the biblical sense) pair of legs along with a nauseous feeling. This was the last thing I needed. Once again, thinking nothing more of it I carried on my normal Saturday morning routine and my lovely wife went to work. Within an hour of her departure something went wrong. It was almost like it was waiting for her departure to create this problem because the timing was just that. My legs started to swell and the skin started to stretch. I took evasive action and lay on the sofa nearest the window and propped my legs up on the window sill. It was there I stayed until Elaine returned home from work at two o clock.

She knew….Straight away. Women know when something is not right, they have this ability to detect problems it’s a seventh sense (lol). No matter how much I could have tried to hide it, it was never going to work. The proof was in the size of my body parts so without removing my legs I had no chance. We both mutually agreed that a trip to Leeds General Infirmary was in order….Oh no, here we go again.

Saturday afternoon at casualty is no fun, nothing compared to Saturday evening but still no fun. Five hours later and a number of potions later and I was allowed home. This was only because no matter how much they tried they could for the life in them get a drip in to me. This has resulted in numerous bruises in my arms but I’m not going to worry about that. I will have to look like a temporary addict for a few days and deal with it.

And here I am, its Wednesday and I am still sat with my feet up and resting. Top Gear has been the highlight of my week. Thanks foe reading my woes. Call back soon for more.


A week like no other…..A week in words.

I have found it very difficult to find the strength to even publish a blog that would sum up this week in words. When you take away the small problems that we all encounter every day and look at the situations of others it really pushes your troubles in to insignificance doesn’t it?

I am not strictly a religious person, and I don’t want to go in to that subject but you sometimes have to beg the question…Why me? Why him? Why her? I am sure you know what I mean. I don’t want to go in to specifics regarding those concerned but they will know who they are. Don’t you?

We may not be close in terms of distance, we may not see each other every week, or even every month but, each of us knows that when one of us is in need the others will drop tools and come running that very day. This is not friendship, this is so much more than friendship, this is a special bond forged between very special friends. Friends that have become so much a part of our lives they feel like brothers and sisters. In recent months I have being a member of the “running party” that has responded to a cry for help. I have also been at the opposite end of the scale by having to place a cry for help. These are the people who respond with no request; no physical cry for help is needed….they just know. They are so close they actually know something is wrong. In times where a request is the only way to get the message through, these friends will down tools with no questions asked and knock on your door.

I am proud to be called a friend, proud to be a friend and the group of people who are friends need no reminding. You have all been there for Elaine and I over time and for this we are eternally grateful.

This is for you….. SF, DM, LE, GRB, WB, DM & PM, SC.


As we walk our path of life,
We meet people everyday.
Most are simply met by chance.
But, some are sent our way.
These become special friends
Whose bond we can’t explain;
The ones who understand us
And share our joy and pain.

Their love contains no boundaries.
So, even we are apart.
Their presence enhances us
With a warmth felt in the heart.

This love becomes a passageway,
When even the miles disappear.
And so, these friends, God sends our way,
Remain forever near.

And the words that sum up this week…….


Thank you for reading……


This doesn’t need words……Vide by by Megan Kowalewski

Where did the weekend go? … in Gigabytes

The last few days have been manic. That’s a statement by the way. Photographically I’ve not had a lot to do until I was invited along by my very close friends at Cancer Support Bradford & Airedale  to take some shots at their latest event “The BIG BREW”. These guys are just the best and I have no hesitation in saying that they are the salt of the earth. Cancer Support Bradford & Airedale is a local independent charity established in 1988. They are unique and provide face-to-face support services and are the only charity of their kind in West Yorkshire. logo I don’t want to name individuals, but you know who you are…I find it an absolute honour to help these guys out in every which way I can. The Big Brew event runs from Friday, 1 until Sunday, 31 March. The initiative is a chance for people and groups to host their own coffee mornings, afternoon teas, cake sales and workplace events to raise money for the charity. The Lady Mayoress, Mrs Margaret Smith, launched the event at Bradford Town Hall on Saturday. A handful of the Bradford Bulls players were also in attendance for the opening and I sat down with the guys for a chat.tn_076CSBA_MW_220213 I had a nice chat with the Lady Mayoress despite forgetting how to address her correctly when ordering her around for photographs. I don’t think she minded been called ma’am and I am confident she didn’t find it an insult in any way. If I never get invited back that could be one of the reasons.

Drifting off topic slightly and leaning back towards photography….I tried something a little different whilst at the event. As you will know from my Flickr photographs I love doing photo-stitches and I have a whole set dedicated to them here  … These stitches are quite easy to do when you have a landscape or a sunset…I am sure you know what I mean, when you have a static subject. The job of obtaining one of these takes on a whole new meaning when you have a moving target, let alone two dozen of them. Anyway, I tried it by handholding the camera and moving around in a rotating motion. One of two of them contain people moving slightly but I am sure you will agree the one I am showing you looks perfectly acceptable. By the way, if you fancy a go at doing stitches there is a post I wrote here tn_034CSBA_MW_220213

The Bradford Bulls players were a good laugh, I chatted with them during shoot and also sat with them for a cuppa and laugh or two. Overall, during the time I spent at The Big Brew the whole event was going down a treat and I am sure all the staff at Cancer Support Bradford & Airedale will announce it a success.

A very kind old school mate dropped me a line a couple of weeks ago via that loathed social network site Facebook.  She very kindly asked if I could make use of a couple of external computer hard drives. Not to look a gift horse in the mouth I snapped up that offer as I am forever running out of storage space. Saturday afternoon I met up with her and collected the said hard drives. Well to say the least, they were a life saver. The average RAW file from either of my cameras is about twenty megabytes and it doesn’t take a genius to work out that 30,000 images a year over 5 years is quite taxing on a single PC hard drive. So began the mass exodus of camera files from my PC to the new externals…..and they were filled in a matter of hours.

I assume every photographer has a system when it comes to backing up and keeping things “just-in-case”. You know, the typical scenario when you have edited your raw images from a weekend away; you delete the originals by mistake or they become corrupted and all you are left with is a 1200 x 800 72ppi jpeg file that is only any use as an internet based image. And what happens next… you receive an email from a top London Agency asking for a full size, high-resolution version and they are willing to pay a high price for it. Before you think any further let me tell you something; This happened to me ! With a small file like the (1200×800 @72ppi) you have no chance of doing anything with it in print and its only use is on the internet and that’s about your limit. So the lesson learned here is to back up and archive which is exactly where I am now. Ready to back up 2012.

At the start of 2009 I was just about to start backing up my 2008 images when the external hard drive that stored all the RAW files suddenly decided to stop. Just like that! I went round the back of the PC and removed the USB lead and unplugged the power lead and transformer from the mains. I tried the drive in my laptop and no joy. What I did next was a mistake of mammoth proportions. What I should have done was open the hard drive case  and remove the actual hard drive inside-of-drive-2which actually is a very easy task. Had I done this, I could have inserted the drive in to my PC either by opening up the case and screwing it to a hard disk bay then connecting it up or by temporarily connecting it internally and then transferring all my files. Instead, I looked at the power supply transformer and what sprung to mind was “Ah..Ive got one of those in my OED” … (O..E.D by the way is my “odds and ends drawer” ) and lo and behold I did. So I connected it up, inserted the USB lead in to the PC, switched on the hard drive at the mains and POWWWWW !!! Thousands of raw files gone in 2 seconds. I then opened the case and was greeted with an insulting puff of smoke that dissipated before my eye. It looked like a scene from Harry Potter. I seem to recall a plaintiff giggle coming from somewhere in the house but this cannot be verified for fear of the repercussions. I estimated that the total loss was about 16,000 images and this was quite upsetting to say the least. The proof is in the pudding as they say, you only need to look at my Flickr pages for 2008 at you will note that only 72 images exist for that year.

So was the lesson learned. Absolutely, of course it was. Anything you love….. BACK IT UP !!!
And on that note, I will leave you as I am off to back up my Wife & Kids….as I love them to bit.

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