Friday, June 30

Fathers Day

I was surprised to see how much fuss was made for Fathers day (which falls on the same day as in the UK) over in the states. Television and radio bombarded us with advertisements one even for a ride on coolbox . I even saw huge Fathers day cakes on sale in the huge Wal-Mart stores we visited. Restaurants had special offers on and it was mentioned constantly on by TV anchormen even during the news briefs. It never really took off in the UK I don’t think I have ever picked anyone up going out for a meal or drink for Fathers day which is in complete contrast to Mothers day which is one of our busiest days of the year.

Thursday, June 29

Shakey Shades

My daughter Emma models the special shades.


Well, it’s been a week or so since I got back and things seem to be more or less back to normal. The eyesight seems OK but I have not been back to work since I got back and have been resting the eyes to make sure everything is one hundred per cent for when I start work tomorrow. Funny but people worry about riding with sightless cabbies and I may not get much custom if I wore the special glasses I was given.
Let’s hope it’s a busy weekend with the world cup football and two local carnivals going on


First Sight

I awoke next day and things were slightly better, I could see shadows and shapes but still couldn’t stand the light. My return to the eye clinic wasn’t until late afternoon and so I stayed indoors and kept up with the medication (which by UK standards was very expensive $400 or £215). Things got better as the day went on and by the time my friend Frankie the taxi arrived to take me to the clinic some of my sight had returned, and so I got to see Frankie for the first time and he never looked a bit like I thought he would. This time I felt a bit more like talking and found out that Frankie was originally from Columbia and had been driving taxi for thirty-two years a lot of them in New York City (that explained the swearing in Spanish I had heard) I can’t emphasise enough what a nice guy he was even giving me some dark classes to help my eyes and telling me not to worry about payment if I was short. On arrival at the clinic again it was nothing like I thought it was and the staff looked nothing like I imagined, but they were all really nice people and seemed really pleased that my sight had returned. After an hour or so back in the torture chamber I was given the ok to fly home as long as I went to my local hospital as soon as possible. The next day Frankie took me to the airport for the long flight home. The only panic after that was when I was told that I needed a letter from the doctor to say I was fit to fly luckily this was all sorted out by fax and eight hours later I was on my way home.

Wednesday, June 28

Torture Chamber

After what seemed like hours of anxious and painful waiting I was seen by the eye specialist. He began by giving me an anaesthetic in both eyes and this brought some of my sight back, but as he told me this would be short lived only giving him time to examine the eyes. I don’t know whether that was a good thing or a bad thing because all I saw for the next hour or so was needles going into my eyeballs. Funny but your natural reaction is to flinch when a needle is coming toward your eye, and so I was almost glad when my sight faded away again. His diagnosis was some kind of virus possibly picked up from one of the water parks, and he described it as like hundreds of blisters on the cornea of the eyes almost like a cold sore on the eye. He said it was very rare for both eyes to be affected and that he would prescribe some antiviral drugs. He then said I must come back the next day for further treatment, not that it mattered because my flight home had long departed. Then my new taxi driving friend Frankie was called and he came straight away to collect me for my second sightless taxi ride back to the hotel.

Tuesday, June 27

Blind Faith

As I lay sightless and getting more and more worried that this may be a permanent thing and how or if I could cope someone told me that I was to go to an eye clinic on the other side of Orlando. I of course, was thinking of our good old National Health Service were I would be whisked there free of charge by ambulance. But no “a taxi is on the way for you and that will be $123 please how would you like to pay?” Someone had to go into my pockets and count the cash out “I feel awful doing this” I heard her say, and then as an afterthought she handed me what she said was a fifty dollar bill from my pocket for the taxi fare.” Don’t let him see that you have much cash on you” she said, this didn’t really inspire much confidence in the local taxi service but I was in no position to argue. She couldn’t have been more wrong my taxi driver looked after me like a concerned father he asked my name and tried to reassure me on the twenty-minute ride to the eye clinic. At the clinic he took me in and up in the lift to the second floor then he explained that I was sightless to the receptionist and gave her his personal number to ring when I needed to be picked up. I myself have picked up sightless people in my own taxi but it was really strange to be on the other side of the fence, and I can truly tell you that it’s a frightening experience, you really do need to trust people without any of the preconceptions or prejudice that sight can give us all. You don’t know the colour of the hand that offers help or whether they are fat or thin gay or straight, and you care even less. After the receptionist filled in my forms for me she guided a pen in my hand to the paper and helped me sign in five places “crazy or what?” I was then guided to what would become for the next few hours my torture chamber.

Monday, June 26


Well, I have lots to tell about my time in Florida but let's start with the bit at the end of it when things really turned weird. The day before I was due to fly home and we were visiting Blizzard beach in the Disney resort about mid afternoon I said to the wife "it's gone a bit misty hasn't it"no she said looking at me as if I were daft. By 5:30 it was downright foggy to me and so I called at a pharmacy for some eyewash and hoped all would be well next morning. Next morning and things were worse, and so it was off to a walk in medical centre down the road. After what seemed like hours with the flight time fast approaching I was finally examined by a doctor.What happened next would never happen in England, or in most other places for that matter and it really freaked out my wife and daughter. After putting drops of dye into my eyes and looking at them with UV light she shouted " OH MY GOD" and ran to tell other medical staff to come take a look. Well, I asked "can you give me something and I'll go and catch my plane." she said "no way if this isn't treated within the next few hours you will lose at least one eye" What a drama queen eh? at this point, it was decided that the wife and daughter would go back to the hotel to cancel flights and rebook the room, and so I was left awaiting a call back from a local eye clinic. Ten minutes later the last of my sight went and I was left totally blind.

Sunday, June 25

Kidnap and Robbery

One of our drivers early on Saturday Morning was on his way back from Grange over Sands when he was given a job to pick up a fare in Ulverston. Shortly after he picked up a group of men a knife was produced and held to his neck from behind. He was threatened and then made to drive the ninety or so miles to the city of Salford, here he was forced to drive these animals around picking and dropping off other people as they drove around the city. At one point mention was made of going to collect a shotgun “my god” what thoughts must have gone on in his head then we can only imagine. Eventually, they let him go but only after robbing him of the eighty pounds or so that he had with him. This sort of thing rarely happens around here but it does bring it home how vulnerable we all are to this sort of cowardly attack. I believe the driver has been left traumatised by this and is thinking seriously about his future.
What does annoy me is that as is usual in this type of thing you always get the smartarses who say what they would have done in the situation, crashed the car etc, but nobody knows how they will react until it happens. I think that the ones with the biggest mouths are the ones who would fall to pieces the quickest.

Back at Last

Well, I finally arrived back in the UK late Friday and after the problems, I have had its good to be back. I have not been able to use a PC until now for reasons which I will explain more about later. But first some news from closer to home which I was told about when I dropped into the office to explain my absence and tell them I will not be at work this week.

Sunday, June 4


This may be my last post for two weeks I am off to Florida on holiday(vacation ) for two weeks from Tuesday and so unless I get into an internet café that's all for now, folks. And yes I do know that's the 6.6.06 and am I worried "well no not really" Oh any tips about Florida are welcome before Tuesday. Cheers folks

Gone Fishing

My first job this morning at 7; 30am was to take a guy up to High pond Roanhead he was going fishing. I knew where he was going straightaway I had picked him up many times before the amount of stuff he had with him seems to multiply, enough this time to fill the boot (trunk) and a good bit of the car as well. It has always bemused me the dedication of this guy he’s out fishing in all seasons breaking the ice if need be. Knowing nothing about fishing myself I’ve asked him about it on the many trips to Roanhead and was amazed when he told me that he doesn’t even get supper out of it the fish are put back in the water. The biggest fish caught there was a carp weighing 35lb 9oz “that would feed me for a day or two” and the pond isn’t natural its flooded iron ore workings last worked in the 1920s. I was still not sold on the idea of sitting there all day and kept asking him what he gets out of it “relaxation” he says. So today when I dropped him off I got out and had a walk round the pond and took a few photos, then I sat down for a while and you know what it really is relaxing. Still couldn’t be bothered carting all that gear about, though.

Saturday, June 3

The Deutschland

The Mall

The German cruise ship Deutschland visited us for a day today and the five hundred passengers had the choice of a coach trip up to the Lake District or a free bus into the town centre. I am sorry to say that one of the first they would see on approaching the middle of town is the hideous derelict 1970’s Mall what a disgrace. This has been in this state for years now and despite promises and grand but empty plans, it still remains to blight the rest of our mainly Victorian town centre. Sometimes when I have fares that are strangers to the town I try and avoid driving past it but when it’s unavoidable I really do cringe. The time for talk with its absentee landlord is over let’s be having something done with it now it surely must be top priority.


A photo I took of Lake Windermere last week, let's hope it was as nice as this for the German visitors today.

Friday, June 2


Here's a webcam which should get interesting on a Friday and Saturday nights. It is in the market town of Newbury in Berkshire and one of the views is  a hotspot for trouble, a taxi rank next to two burger vans located near to the nightlife.

Night Fight

A passenger was telling me about a fight which took place in one of our supermarkets (Tesco) last night. Apparently a drunken couple started to argue with other customers at the checkout and this developed into a full-scale fight with groceries being used as weapons and vegetables being thrown at staff.
I took this with a pinch of salt and had forgotten about it until about half an hour later when I overheard two more passengers talking about it. I asked them and they said pretty much the same thing, adding that it took place between two and three in the morning. This leaves me thinking has it got something to do with the new twenty-four-hour sale of alcohol in these large supermarkets. One of my fares who works nights in one of these places tells me that that even in the dead of night he regularly sees teenage mothers with babes in arms shopping for cheap cider and wine. If this is the way things are going I wonder about the safety of the staff and customers, and think maybe they should be spending some of the massive profits they make on better security.

Thursday, June 1

Any Flags?

On a visit to Kendal I noticed this shop and was tempted to go in and ask if they had any England flags. US readers won't get this but it's typical English humour, for example we find it funny when in a chain of shops called the pound shop (so called because everything is priced one pound) to pick things up and ask how much is this?

Empty Throne

I visited the Dock Museum today and noticed that the throne from the Ship Inn at Piel Island is on display. Let's hope this is a temporary home for it and its back where it belongs as soon as possible. I see the local council have an advert on their website for a new King of Piel and this leads me to think that they are looking at this as a revenue earner. Nothing wrong with that in principal as long as it doesn’t lead to local people being priced out as customers and as prospective tenants after all this Island does belong to the people of Barrow.