A Mental Defrag

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View from the Modern Tate

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St Paul’s in the sun

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The Fourth Plinth: Gift Horse

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Bubbles

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South West country with the tribe

During the last stretch of night calls as a registrar I started to formulate ideas of what I would like to photograph for my next blog post. It is always interesting delving into ones thoughts when on the cusp of a major change. I first moved down to Pietermaritzburg nine years ago. As the capital city of the province, it encompasses the good and the bad of most of its aliases. The City of Choice. Sleepy Hollow. There are other less complimentary ones but those are beyond the scope of todays musings.

At work, the new guys, (youngsters?) alway seem to be rushing but inefficiently so. Patients are moved around, with all the hype and drama and yet they still have so much to learn about working within the system that I am preparing to leave. And for the foreseeable future, not to return.
On the surface it appears to be a waste – taking my experience and leaving without passing on the some of the small pearls that make life in public hospitals so much easier and enjoyable. On a few occasions I did test the water to see how receptive colleagues would be for the short cuts, the cheats similar to the ones we used while playing computer games at school in order to save time and fast-track through to the fun sections. The responses were in fitting with our electronic and technological age: email me a copy.

I will miss my work in the state sector. Rewarding and frustrating to beyond breaking point and back again. The sleep deprivation and the rewards. One hand giveth, the other taketh away.

I could go into endless details about my last year in state sector healthcare and studying while working. Studying for a small piece of paper.
Instead, the first movie I watched in my exam free life was Bridge of Spies. The one phrase that Colonel Abel used it to describe the quality he observed in his lawyer James Donovan was Stoikiy Muzhik. He said the words after watching how resilient Donovan was in defending him. Stoikiy Muzhik, or standing man, the man who keeps standing back up even though everyone tries to put him down.

Find your line. Go beyond it.

My camera is a barometer for my mental state. When it is out and pitting its sensitive optics against the elements – then I am in that creative zone. When it is collecting dust, then the darkness becomes all encompassing. This weekend it was dusted off. Power sources were re-energised and old pictures from the memory cards were erased in order to make space for new adventures, fresh images to be created and captured.

Enjoy the photos.

The studying is finally over

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Exams, Masters & Orthopaedics Speciality training has finally been completed.

Once again I can look at the map on my wall at home (appropriately named a Peters Projection Map https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gall–Peters_projection ) and start planning my future. Places to travel and explore. Friends to visit. Work to be found. To be a student of the Peripatetic School.

This will entail walking away from the view that has kept me focused for the last year:

Watching the sun gradually creep over the distant hill, either from bed of more frequently while out cycling in the forest with Hlosi, my eighteen month old Mallinois will soon be distant memory.

The Freedom Challenge is starting again (http://www.freedomchallenge.org.za). Gladiators heading out of Pietermaritzburg and down a trail of 2300km that will test them to their core. Strip away the veneer of the their personality until what is left is the resolve to overcome the multitude of challenges that is the Freedom Trail. In the words of the ever humble and inspiring Mike Woolnough (http://mikewoolnough.blogspot.co.za/2016/05/is-freedom-challenge-similar-to-fight.html) “They say that home is where your heart is. My adventure heart is home here on the trail we call Freedom.”

Mike Horn wrote an article on being free and the privilege that is intertwined with being free (http://www.mikehorn.com/mike-horn-privilege-free/) as he embarks on his Pole to Pole expedition.

I am, for the first time in years, free to chose what I do with my time. It is a good place to be. It is time to find the next line, and go beyond it.

Part of that new found freedom will be spent honing my skills in the Limb Reconstruction field. Applying technical constructs such as the Illizarov fine wire fixator pictured below:

My photography is a barometer of my psyche – when I make time to take my camera out, it usually means I am in a good space. The following two photos sum that all up. The first is a lion in Pilansberg and the second is Mitch from the Bristol Limb Reconstruction Unit.

To end off here is a quote from Diana Nyad’s TEDx talk:
“…it’s not what you have achieved but who you have become…”

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Back to reality

Sunrise Garlington

Puppy at sunrise

Sunset WV

Good end to the day

It has been twenty years ago since I wrote my first university exam at Rhodes in Grahamstown. Back then blogging wasn’t a thing. Emails were taking off amongst the “early uptakers” or early embracers. As students we could email each other and anyone else who had access to email. This meant usually someone in an IT department and journalists.
The highlight of my week then would behaving part of an email published in “Stoep Talk” – the venerable column by James Clarke in the The Star Newspaper.

It took 15 years for me to return to writing, now in the form of a blog. This was not meant to be a regular portal to expound on my thoughts but an avenue to share my photographs with those interested. I was heading to Alaska for the first time to work on the trail of the Iditarod sled Dog Race as a volunteer vet.

Well, the blog is still going – inversely proportional to the work load. Hence there has almost been strict radio silence for the last year. The results to determine if all the hard work and sacrifices were worth it will be known in about six weeks.
Hopefully today was the last exam. Not that I intend to stop learning – but rather aim for less didactic learning and more experience / research / travel experience.

My MMed was published in March. Reading it now makes the amount of time i spent preparing it seem ridiculous. Chalk that up to being slow and inexperienced.

Within a few years I aim to be able to use my time spent studying and working to morph into working and traveling. Watch this space. The options are endless, some old plans (Himalayas, The Americas – all off them, sailing, cycling, back to Alaska – maybe one day on a fat wheel) and some new plans (not all involve cycling!)

My camera has been neglected. That needs to be rectified. I have started with a new camera bag, battery charger and reactivating my Instagram account.

Simplifying my life: After finding a great place to live in 2015 (Picture above) that is within walking distance from a small coffee shop (same owner as the one that kept me sane when I first visited Pietermaritzburg for my internship: Hong Kong / United Kingdom / Canada within four months and then the stark reality of the Sleepy Hollow). From here I can ride out of the gate and into endless single track and mountain bike trails. Waking up to watch the sun rise reminds me of the early starts while riding on the Freedom Challenge. Gives you perspective before the chaos of the day unfolds. How this relates to simplifying my life? Once again I have surreptitiously accumulated dust collectors in all forms. Which need to go.

The latest trend that I have been following are the travel blogs giving advice on travel and minimalistic living. So now that I have become settled again living well within my comfort zone, it may be time to pack everything up, rent out my apartment and push some boundaries.

Or as one of my mantras states:

Find your line. Go beyond it.

From tomorrow the photos will be back…

Heading off the trail – #Iditarod 2015

As always, flying along the Mighty Yukon (even when frozen) serves as a reality check as to how big the river is and how harsh it is out there.

Monty, one of the IFA pilots, took us for a scenic trip down the Yukon en route to Galena. We flew over Ruby and about six teams. The day before they had seen three wolves on the river.

Flying into Galena, an ex-USAF Jet Fighter base during the Cold War.

The Saab that took us back to Anchorage.

The transition from a snow covered landscape to the dryer ice covered land in the south. This was the major reason why the restart or the race was moved from Willow to Fairbanks.

The view from The Millenium Hotel, Anchorage. The lake (also functions as PAMR) is all iced up with no snow to be seen anywhere.


-p

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Special Moments – #Iditarod 2015

There are always special moments on this race.

When Martin Buser’s team all started howling while he was blotting them up prior to leaving.

Listening to Jason Mackey saying quite logically why taking his 24hr so early in the race. (His team were all young and they didn’t want to wake up and go for the eight hour stop. This combined with his brother (Lance) needing some support as his Reynard’s was playing up.

In the early hours of the morning the Northern Lights display was spectacular.
The pictures are on my big camera so those will be posted once I am back home with my desktop.

Transport in “the Sex Machine”. Names due to the T-shirt that has been duct taped to the rear, stating: “it’s not a beer belly, it’s a fuel tank for the sex machine”.

Today I head up the trail to Unalokleet on an IFA flight. Looking forward to the scenery.

-p
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Find your line. Go beyond it.

The quiet before the storm. #Iditarod2015

The race restart apparently went off uneventfully in Fairbanks this morning. Teams are racing down the trail. According to the trail breakers (who stayed in Tanana on Sunday night) the trail was soft so they expected the lead teams to take a little strain while the trail became more compacted.

The media guys. Along claimed the accommodation next to the checkpoint that we had settled into. This necessitated a move to a house that is a ten minute walk away. At least we now have running water and ablutions on site!

First teams expected this morning. They are still close together so it will be quite frenetic for the first 24hrs. We should be able to split up and do shifts after that. There are 6 vets, 3 rookies.

Here are some images from my evening walk around Tanana:

What was our Shangri-La. Now the Media Centre.

View down the river where the team will head down. (Yukon River). The locals say if there isn’t a head wind, then you are going the wrong way.

The local school at dusk.


-p

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Tanana Checkpoint – Iditarod

At around midday the weather cleared enough for us to attempt a flight into Tanana from Fairbanks. The first two planes managed to get in to Tanana.  My flight – which left within ten minutes of the first two – ended up almost returning to Fairbanks due to deteriorating visibility. 



The village was only expecting us tomorrow (Monday), so food and functioning ablutions were an issue.  

 



  1. The jet lag / multiple flights and cumulative sleep deficit is starting to catch up with me. 

Flyby visit to the restart -Fairbanks, Iditarod

Early start.
6am to catch the commercial flight to Fairbanks.

Ice sculptures


Now to fly to Tanana.

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Of peripatetics…

Yesterday I saw a patient who started off her life being thrown into the fire in the land of the isiZulu. This morning I am faced with the decision of which coffee shop in Frankfurt Airport would be the best place to procure a double espresso. Tomorrow morning I will probably be heading out on the trail somewhere west of Fairbanks, AK, to see dog teams mushing along the one thousand mile journey to Nome.

Travel gives one perspective.

The first movie chronicles an aspiring jazz drummer at a prestigious musical conservatory in New York City. (Whiplash, 2014). This was a stark contrast to Kill The Messenger – a story of the Contras, the CIA and crack cocaine in the eighties.

Rather than heading around the airport and risk incurring a security breach with my camera (I need to study anyway), here are some from the archives:



“Thistle in a war zone”. Darkoush. 



Team leaving Safety at first light. Iditarod.



Painted Reed frog, Northern KZN. 



Termites posing. 

Now for coffee and some studying…

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