I Am Now A Robot


Yes it’s True – I am a Robot

My life is now battery powered

This is all true since I have been fitted with a Pacemaker.

After my open heart surgery, (which is another story), which is when I had a repair done to my Mitral Valve. My heart then developed an irregular heart beat known as atrial fibrillation.

Over the past four years, many different treatments were used to correct this, atrial fibrillation including electric shock treatment and tablets to slow the heart down. None worked for more than a few months, and I was steadily getting more incapacitated by any exercise that I did. Just walking short distances became an effort and left me breathless. My lifestyle was zero, and you may see from my blog, that I had all but abandoned it. I had written nothing for a long time. I had lost my energy.

The conclusion to all this was that I was offered a pacemaker, which was like the last chance saloon, all or nothing. There was no going back once the decision was made. When you have no lifestyle, and are constantly without energy, what choice do you have but to put you life once more into the hands of the medical team.

The day arrived and the pacemaker was implanted, quite frightening when the surgery was going to take place without any sedation at all.
The Doctor told me I would be wide awake when he was putting wires through my veins and into my heart. The operation site was just a local anesthetic, deadening an area near the collarbone. Well I was surprised that although I could feel him working, I had no sensation of pain at all. So the wires in my heart were in place, the and the whole lot was stitched up, soluble stitches I’m glad to say. And I went home the next day.

One month later, I had to be switched from my natural heartbeats, to the pacemaker which would take over from them. This involved a procedure called ablation, where a laser wire is sent via your groin, through your veins, and into your heart. This operation was, I am glad to say, was with some sedation. Having entered my heart, the laser was then deployed via computer, in knocking out all the electrical impulses that make the heart beat naturally.

The pacemaker was switched on… I was on battery power.

Over the next three months I was monitored via a ‘reader’ placed over the pacemaker site by my collarbone. From the reader, which is connected to a computer, they are able to program the pacemaker as required. Over this time I was brought from 90 beats per minute (bpm) to 80 bpm, and then to 70 bpm. They also programmed it to beat at 60 bpm, from 10 pm to 7 am, when I was sleeping.

The difference has been amazing, I no longer get out of breath and my energy level is coming back. I have been 4 years without energy or exercise, so I am slowly regaining it. But my life is now back on course. And of course the blogs can now get some enthusiasm into them once more.


AN update to all this, approximately one year on, is that I do have my life back thanks to all the medical teams that have, with their skills, rebuilt my heart valve and made it beat properly once more.
From a condition that was life threatening, and turning it into a life worth living, is something that the words “thank you” are completely inadaquate. I am alive thanks to the dedicated medical teams that never seem to get enough praise for all the lifesaving work that they routinely do every day.
My thanks to all of them. From the nursing staff to the top specialist, they all took part in giving me a new life.


Heart Stopping Stuff

imagesDon’t Ever Get Old!

You just know what is going to happen, and you don’t want to hear it.

“You will have to have an operation to replace or repair your heart valve”, said the consultant.
Now that was the diagnosis expected, but still my mind was hoping for a different answer, even though I knew this is what the answer would be. We live in hope that this is not really happening to me, yet inside you just know it is. You have no escape, it’s real.

I felt like many people before me, and no doubt like many more will feel in the future. You want a cure but without the pain of an operation, hospital stays, recovery time, pills and the physiotherapy to get you “working” again. Yet you do want to be cured.

Can they really put me right? I don’t know, I get told of all the people who are back at work leading normal lives after this surgery. But that is them and not me! I am always the unlucky one and it’s bound to go wrong! But what’s the alternative. Just carry on with no energy and only walking just a few yards and stopping to get your breath back, or just having to watch, and not be able to do.
You know it will not get better, and you will eventually die without treatment. This alone should make you keen to go ahead with the treatment, but the nagging negative thought stays right at the front of your thinking. You could die on the operating table……… Heads you don’t win, Tails you loose. But the coin still could balance on it’s edge, or could it?

The choice has to be made. Stay as I am, be useless and unable to do anything, or give your life to the Surgeon an ask him to do his best. There is really no contest. It has to be done.
So now you get the leaflets with all the pro’s and con’s of the operation, and if you have the computer, well, you are on the websites looking at all the information you can glean. The end result is that you are now really confused, and have probably got in a state of panic. Further to that, all the people who know you have to have this operation, will for certain know someone who has had similar, and how wonderful they are now! But this doesn’t help too much as you feel they are a bit patronizing, and just embellishing the story of “George”, who can run in the marathon now.

You are then among some other patients, who like you will be having a similar operation. Surprisingly the mood is buoyant, and many just can’t wait to have their heart repaired. They have, just like you, suffered enough.
A time is set and you watch the clock, but to your rescue, the pre-med injection saves all. The dosy feeling it leaves you with, eliminates all fears, and you vaguely remember going to the theatre.
Thankfully you are unaware of the operation, or of your heart being stopped and repaired. You pray that the skill of the surgeon will prevail.

Slowly things start to move through the mists, and the realisation slowly enters your mind that it is all over and you have survived! But where is the pain? The thought of massive pain before you went in was something that you were not looking forward to, but miracles do happen, you are controlled with pain killers, and there is no pain. Over the next few days you are fully awake, and out of bed, “but nurse, I’ve just had a heart operation” you protest, but it doesn’t work, you will walk, you will do the exercises, and you will get better!
Seven days later you cannot believe that you are now on the outside of the hospital, being taken home to start your final stage of recovery, and you walked out there yourself, without getting out of breath!
The downside was that a week later I was fighting for my life with pneumonia and spent more time in hospital, but thankfully medication and dedication of the staff, saw me leave with a smile.

This all happened to me, in 2007, Thanks to all the staff, the Surgeon and his team, and ALL the people involved in changing my life, in fact MY HEARTFELT THANKS.

For two years I lived a normal life and felt this was now behind me, but it was not to be. My heart went out of rhythm and it was back to drugs and doctors. I had the electric shock treatment with the big paddles on the chest, luckily I was sedated! But this did put me right for nearly another year, but disaster strikes again as I am once more unable to do anything without severe loss of energy.
I am due another operation where they will penetrate my heart with a laser probe to destroy unwanted electrical signals. I have to hope they don’t blow the main fuse!.
I can only update later if it works. Wish me luck.

Now Read :

I am Now a Robot

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Peanut Butter Biscuits


Give yourself a treat and make some peanut butter biscuits.
It’s simple and done in record time.
They are tasty and crunchy.
The trouble is that they are so good that it is hard to stop eating them.

Watch the video and follow it along. Pause where you like to recheck the recipe.


Munch away and enjoy your biscuits

RECIPE: The Most Simple Ever way to make Peanut Crunchy Biscuits.

5 ozs Caster Sugar
9 ozs Crunchy Peanut Butter
1 Egg
2-4 drops Vanilla Essence

Mix all together with the beaten egg.
Add 2 to 4 drops of Vanilla Essence

After mixing thoroughly, take small handfuls of the mix and roll into balls.
Place on a baking tray and squash down with a fork into a flat round shape.

Cook in an oven (ours is Fan assisted) at 160 Centigrade for approximately 15 mins.(Slightly variable.)
Place on cooling tray when cooked and leave to cool and harden.





. . .

> Video for you

Making Bread

baked_bread-thumbIt’s easy and fun to do. You will feel that you have achieved something, and it appears to taste better than the ones you have bought in the shops.It will have some additives in the mix, but is suitable for vegetarians.

And in a lot of cases it will be cheaper as well.

What you will need:
A PACKET OF BREADMIX FROM THE SUPERMARKET. we used a Granary Bread mix packet 495 gms.
Water 320 ml.
Butter or Margarine 1oz (25 gms) Optional, but improves texture and taste.
Add all ingredients together (Water, Butter and the packet Mix.)

See exactly how to do it all by watching the video below. You can pause the video to do the steps one by one.

Check out the video here.

Sailing My Little Yacht


navigatorWhen you don’t know what to do, you must do something!
I am here sitting on my little yacht gently bobbing up and down, tied to my mooring buoy and no idea of how to sail it! Having bought this yacht on the spur of the moment at the boat-show, watching it being built for me, then seeing it launched in the harbour in Poole, Dorset, was a series of events that had brought me to this present situation. read ‘Buying my Little Yacht’ first.

Lets start the engine and see if I can have a slow trip around the harbour.
Anyone with any knowledge of Poole harbour, will know that it is a natural safe place with a narrow channel inlet and has an island, Brownsea Island right in the middle of this large inlet of water.

So with the engine started, untie the mooring buoy, and I was off.
The first thing you learn is that you do need a bit of speed to be able to steer the boat. Also you find there is not that much room to get away from the mooring and be able to miss others on their buoys.

Although just in the harbour, with the tiller in your hand, and the breeze in your face, all at once you feel that buying this little yacht and all the worries that went with it, was definitely worth it. And I was still in the harbour!

A slow and steady trip around this very large island had me gaining confidence, time to get out into the real sea.

But you have to miss the chain ferry that goes back and forth across the harbour entrance.

A teenager today told of the terrifying moment she clung to the side of a car ferry to stop herself being sucked under it to her death.

FerryDailyMail (Click this Link) To Read this shocking report.

It is a dangerous place to get stuck when the ferry crosses. This girl was very lucky!

So with great care I went past the ferry and out into the sea. With masses of space all around me, I found out how the sails fitted. Now that was a short sentence. In reality it would take a long time to explain what a mess I got into! They don’t have ‘This way up’ written on the spinnaker (front sail) and I managed to get it upside down. I think it must have been an hour or more later that I went under sail power.

You wonder why it does not move forward, until I realize the breeze is blowing straight at me. When I did get it to turn, I was suddenly under way, and pulling at all the ropes that were around me. Why are there so many!

How hard can it be, I wonder, as I see other yachts going smoothly by and the owners look so totally relaxed!

This is a view of the entrance to the harbour and just make out the chain ferry on the left hand entrance for traffic waiting to cross from that side to Poole.






So as an engineer and used to problems, I used my trusty LOGIC to slowly work out what each rope was doing and what the result was when I wound it in and let it out.
Now my trusty magazines were not to far away from be and I had brought one that showed how to get the most out of the sails. The long story short, I managed to control the direction and    work out the best tension to have on the ropes to keep to the course the boat was on. That was until I need to tack. (Change direction). Having turned the boat unexpectedly in a series of   circles and getting nowhere, and with the boom whizzing dangerously past my head, the boat rocking violently from side to side, I was pleased to actually go eventually in roughly the   direction I wanted to.

I had a lot to learnimages

Now it is all super getting yourself out to sea, I think I had the handbook for that, but I had no idea how to get back under sail. (No Hand-book!) So I did cheat by getting near the harbour entrance and took the sails down, I then started the engine. Now I was really in control, past the entrance, avoiding successfully the chain ferry, I negotiated the channel to my mooring, slowly threading my way past the other boats moored, and with boat-hook at the ready, a dash to the front and I grabbed the buoy.

My heart rate went down as I tied my little yacht up safely to the mooring. And I had hit none of the other boats on their moorings.

Over that season, my knowledge slowly increased, and I even found sailing easier if you check the tide times, (go with it-don’t fight it). I ended up with a new skill that gave endless pleasure.

So if there is any point to this true story of mine, is that if you want to do something that you have never done before, go for it. I did it, so can you.

It’s a bit like the internet. You just have to get to grips with it and you just might change your lifestyle.

Michael Chalke


BUYING MY LITTLE YACHT (if you missed it)

Buying my Little Yacht

Lynmouth Devon UK

Lynmouth Devon UK

It seems many moons ago that I had a small yacht.

But like so many of us, I was always fascinated by the sea. Maybe it’s because my birth-sign is Pisces!
Pisces is a water sign, I think it must be the right sign for me. I love swimming and fighting the waves in the surf.
As a schoolboy I was proud to represent Hampshire (UK) in the swimming competitions.

I went to a local boat-show and saw many boats of all shapes and sizes, from the small canoes to the unfordable large ocean yachts.
It was an impressive display, and I thought, I would love to own any one of these beautiful sailing boats.

But one in particular caught my eye and I just had to look at it and get inside the cabin.


It was a smart small sailing Yacht, 19ft (approx 5.8 meters) It was

Now at this time, I had never owned a boat, sailed one, or even rowed a rowboat. In fact I had never even been to sea in any kind of boat!
The next minute I found myself talking to the representative of the boat company. That was the first mistake! He offered to show me around the boat and to climb aboard to see what was on the inside.

This was an invitation that I just could not refuse, I happily went on board and down into the cabin.

It was quite small yet very functional, it would sleep four, but I think that two would be the choice. A small cooker and a collapsible table.
Inset into the forward area was a place for the chemical toilet. All very compact and simple with ample storage.

Back on deck, I sat with the tiller in my hand and just imagined all the places I could sail to, my mind worked overtime. Yes I could sleep there with no trouble and get meals cooked from the gas stove. Maybe a circumnavigation of the world!

Perhaps I was in the dream world when after a chat about prices, deliveries and payments, I found myself signing my name on a contract for them to build me one, and an invitation to see the build taking place during some stages.

But I had done it.

I have just bought a sailing boat. Now what?


I suddenly found myself plunged into a world that I knew nothing about. Yes I loved the look of them and admired them on the water. But I had just bought a small yacht, and what on earth do I do now.

I had to find a mooring for it, get seagoing waterproofs, life jackets, and all the cooking equipment, but I had no idea how to sail it. I bought all the boat magazines and any book that had a boat on the cover, only to find that it was like learning to drive a car from a book. I was kept sane by the thought that it had an engine and I could at least use it as a motor driven boat.

So the big day finally arrived. The boat was delivered.
I had found a mooring in Poole in Dorset, it was just a buoy in the channel around Brownsea Island, nice and secluded and safe. But the problem was that after tying up to the buoy, how did I get to the shore. I had to then buy a rowing boat!
When was it going to stop. I thought that you could buy a boat, just put it in the water and sail off.

The learning curve was costly and seemingly never going to stop. But here I was, sitting on my little yacht, tied to the mooring, and wondering how the sails were fitted. Surprisingly there are no hand books issued with this yacht except how to turn the gas on, and a few safety tips on how to store fuel for the engine. The manufacturers assume that nobody in their right mind would buy and have built a brand new yacht, if they didn’t know all about sailing boats, and of course could already sail one.
That was the start of my sailing saga and there is a lot more to tell you, but I will tell you more …Click below….

Sailing My Little Yacht(click here)


GliderNow what else have I done?
LOOKING BACK – Is the one thing that happens when you reach pensionable age. You miss all the things that you did do, and you can no longer do, and the things you want to.
The annoying thing is that you still feel young and the age is just a number. But the reality is that your body just won’t let you loose on the motor bike that you are sure you could still ride, or let you run around and play football with the grand kids!!
I feel good inside – so why am I puffing!!

You only have the memories to fall back on and relive those days of yesteryear. For some this cannot happen as their mind unfortunately slowly forgets those days.
The Blog is an excellent way of preserving some of the wonderful memories of your way of life, and the milestones that record what you have done. It must be a great memory jogger.
The blog is, or can be the diary that we used to keep. The modern version. Filofax seems to have come and gone, so here is the way to get things down and recorded for all time.
Now I have told you about “My Market stall in Spain” and about my “BUYING MY LITTLE YACHT” buying a Yacht that I had no idea how to sail, how I was called up forNational Service, and owning a Triumph Motorbike, to name but a few, so already my “Diary” is filling up.

Another true anecdote of a time in my life.


Slingsby T-21

Now back we go in time again, a time of around 50 years ago. Yes that long, and I was in the Royal Air Force. Serving my country, by doing my National Service. One of the good things about being in the forces, is the array of facilities available to all.
If you are into almost any sport, then it is probably catered for and free for you to join.
My ambition was to get a glider pilots wings that I could wear with pride and show people that I was a pilot that could fly solo in a glider. (And of course be a boring show off !!)
There was an airfield at Andover, an RAF camp in Hampshire UK, and they were dedicated to flying gliders. Some of the top Royal Airforce pilots had earned their wings here.
They still came to the airfield to fly, and to offer solid advice to all of us, the would be pilots.

Slingsby T-21

Andover is in the lovely countryside, bordering Wiltshire and the vast Salisbury Plains area. What better place to learn to fly a glider.
First the lessons, why a glider flies, how to use the thermals (the upcurrents of air) and the controls of a glider, the rules of the air. And much much more as you may imagine. I will leave out all the headaches I had over this! 

But the best day was when I went out on the airfield and was actually strapped into a training glider with the instructor, it was my first real “Hands On” experience of sitting in a glider. Just having a look at all the instruments and controls you start to wonder if you are doing the right thing. This is where you stay real cool and calm, but you can’t ignore the beating of your heart which seems to have speeded up! It is a bit smaller than you thought, not a lot of room to move about, and those instruments are looking a bit menacing. After a verbal tour of the inside of the glider, the instructor informs me that I am going to have my first flight. I am wishing he had not said that.
We have been put on the end of a tow rope, which is being operated by

The Winchman
at the far end of the airfield.. He has to winch you into the air at the right speed. Too slow and you could stall out and crash, too fast and the link cable to the glider could break and again if the glider is not in the correct flight position, disaster would have to be adverted.
Waiting to take off, checking nothing was coming into land behind you and giving the wingman, who is holding the wingtip to keep you level, the all clear. He signals the winchman and the shout ‘taking up slack‘ is heard. This is like towing a car you need to get the rope tight before you move off, or you will get a ‘snatch’ and pull the front off!
When the towrope is tight, then the shout is “all out” which now means the winchman opens up his throttle and you are under way.
The speed of the tow is quite fast to start with, the glider quickly gets to a flying speed and becomes airbourne, the instructor then pulls back on the joystick and suddenly you are at around 45 degrees and it seems as though you are flying straight up. The winchman then slows his speed so that we can get maximum launch height.

The launch is exillerating, and your stomach seems as though it has been left behind. We get close to 1000 feet on this launch, and are almost directly over the winch. The instructor pulls the release and the cable falls away. We are now flying.
After the rapid launch the glider slows down until the correct flying speed is maintained. The first thing you notice after the rushing of the wind and the wild ride of the launch, is that every thing becomes deathly quiet. You are just floating on air.
The instructor then says, right, you take the stick, and use the pedals to try to keep it straight and level. Hang on… this is my first flight and he already wants me to fly it! but you have great feeling that you are flying it all on your own, that is until the instructor grabs the controls back as the glider goes into an angle that makes the horizon appear really lopsided. We straighten out and turn for home. The flights are fairly short as the training gliders carry two people and are a quite a bit heavier than the super sleek high performance ones.
Soon after 10 or so flights, you are gaining in confidence and expertise. The instructor tells you you are almost ready for your solo flight, and this time he will test you and take no part in this pre-solo flight. What he does not tell you is that part way into the launch, he pulls the release to simulate a cable break. The training has paid off, I push the stick hard forward to avoid a stall and bring the glider down quickly and make a landing just before the end of the airfield. That, he said, was the final test.

You are now going to fly solo.
This is the moment you have been waiting for, but you feel that you need a lot more training flights and you are just not ready. An element of fear creeps in. The instructor says otherwise. You are going to fly and you will be going solo! So I get into a single seater glider which seems completely alien to you, and very small,after the comfort of an instructor sitting beside you. But controls, instruments and layout were the same, but seemingly very bare without the dual controls.
I settled down, carried out all the pre-flight checks, then signalled the wingman that I was ready. Now never before had I realised how lumbering and slow the dual training glider was, this was like a rocket. I launched fast and pulled the stick and it just leaped into the air. Oh boy, what a ride, I was actually enjoying it. Amazingly I had finally released the cable at over 1200 feet. I settled and all became calm. I will always remember that I could hear a dog barking on the ground. I was flying on my own this was magic like I never imagined. I was then following the instruction that I had to just do one circuit and land. I had worked my way back past the takeoff point and brought the glider in line for a landing. Now I was a little worried, this was the hardest part, to bring me and the glider down safely, you only got one shot at it. Once again you do not realise that the training you have done really kicks in and you do all the right things. I was a bit far away from the launch area, and further down the airfield that I would have liked. But I had made it. Take of, circuit and landing. I could now fly solo, but I had not earned my wings.
I need to stay airborne for at least 20 minutes to qualify for my pilots wings. Now that is a long time for a not so efficient solo training glider. You need to get in a thermal and gain height after takeoff, and keep the glider up there. Just look at your watch and see how long twenty minutes can be when you are next waiting for a bus!

TO QUALIFY – I needed to keep this glider in the air for at least 20 minutes.

(Click picture to enlarge)
After many more solo flights, I still could not stay air-bourne for the 20 minutes to claim my wings. I was getting a little concerned that it would never happen. And on this particular day, it also seemed unlikely. It was a bit overcast and looked as though it was going to rain. Not looking like a gliding day. I was talking to Andy Gough, probably the top glider pilot in the Royal Air Force, and even in the country. I told him that I was having trouble getting my wings, and he said, you can get them today.
Now standing on an air-field and the weather not looking good, I found this a bit hard to believe. He just said wait a bit and you will be OK. So I waited until he came running over and told me to get in the glider and be ready for take-off.

Now the weather was appearing to deteriorate even more, and a black cloud was coming towards us.
Andy then said, you can take off now and I want you to fly straight into the black cloud.
The launch was good as the wind speed was getting up and it gave me extra altitude. I then kept flying towards the black cloud. But the glider was slowly sinking and I was keeping a close eye on my altitude. I decided that it was time to turn and run back to the landing area before I lost any further height, but right then I felt an updraft that was lifting the glider up a great speed. I banked and circled in this enormous updraft.

I shot up from around 750 ft to 2000 ft in a very short time, the updraft was so powerful, I reached the bottom of this massive black cloud. In the open cockpit I was getting soaked with the rain and the hailstones that were coming from it. I had to keep flying down as I could have easily entered the bottom of this storm cloud and got completely dis-orientated. It was a little frightening being on the bottom of this raging storm cloud, but exciting too. I just circled and circled enjoying the feeling of gliding and staying there with no effort. Slowly as the cloud moved away from the airfield I stayed with it until I was over Andover town, the airfield was fading into the distance. I knew I had to go.
With great reluctance I made my last circle and pointed the glider towards the airfield. The air gradually became calmer and I slowly lost height, the updraft had gone. I was cold and wet, but on a high after the battle under the cloud. The airfield loomed up and I landed, wet cold and happy, an experience that would never happen again..

Congratulations were shouted over to me as the controller called out that I had been flying for a little over 28 minutes.

images .

I had my Wings I was a pilot.

Thank you Andy.

Andy Gough, (R.I.P.)
click here.

Just a short film gliding in the Alps. Not me in there !!!