Sunday 28 July 2013

Down on our knees, back on track and birthday wishes

Last week, we spent the best part of three days down on our knees - at least that's what it felt like!  

Although we have tackled quite a few DIY jobs in our time, laying ceramic floor tiles was a first time experience for us and not without the odd hiccup - not to mention sore knees (note to self - knee pads would be a good investment...) However, by the time we left our son's house in Bristol on Thursday, the job was going in the right direction and starting to look good.  

We were standing up and back on track on Friday.  The track in question was the Silverstone racing circuit and the occasion, the Silverstone Classic which bills itself as the world's biggest classic motor racing festival.  We were there for the qualifying sessions for the F1, Le Mans and Touring car races which took place yesterday and continue today. Friday was not nearly as crowded as on race days, so easy to move around and sit down when and where we wanted. No long queues for food or loos...and the sun shone all day!

Not only did we enjoy most of the qualifying sessions from a variety of grandstand viewpoints, there was also the opportunity to ride on an original Route Master bus (taking me back to my childhood in London) which linked the paddocks at either end of the site.  

There we were able to view the cars being made ready before hitting the circuit (or being put back together after a session) and stand in the pit lane, soaking up the atmosphere.  

In the Wave paddock, Steve was delighted to find a classic Bristol racing car, one of his childhood favourites (he asked for and was given the Dinkey Car toy version for Christmas which now sits proudly on the mantlepiece at home). 

To see the circuit from a different point of view, we went on the 40m high big wheel which forms the centre piece of the vintage fun fair offering free rides to all visitors.  We also enjoyed a spin on the 1893 Ferris Wheel, which although not as tall, goes round much faster than the big wheel!  

However, we topped both wheels by taking a pleasure flight in a helicopter, as a late birthday present for Steve and an early one for me.  It was literally just a flight over the circuit which lasted only minutes, but it was another "first" for both of us and great fun! 

We had planned to take rides in Caterham sports car with a professional racing car driver, but were so enthralled watching the last two qualifying sessions (including the fastest ever lap seen at the Classic) that we ran out of time...

As the sun set over the track, we made our way back to the open air music arena to get something to eat and watch/listen to the stars from The Commitments singing sweet soul music classics.  

Half walking, half dancing to "Mustang Sally", we eventually dragged ourselves away, back to the car and home.  What a great day out!

Even on such a wonderful day, mesothelioma managed to make its presence felt in an unexpected way.  Amongst all the motor racing paraphernalia on sale at the event were many pictures of the actor Steve McQueen - an avid motor cycle and racing car enthusiast who did many of his own driving stunts in the movies he made.  A Porsche 917 - made famous by Mc Queen in the film Le Mans - had turned heads in the Historic Sports Cars qualifying session, earlier in the day.  

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Creative Commons

While you have probably heard of Steve McQueen, unless you are involved with mesothelioma, you will probably not be aware that his death in 1980 was caused by mesothelioma as a result of being exposed to asbestos, probably while removing asbestos lagging from pipes aboard a troop ship during his time in the Marines in the late 1940s.  

After our exciting day out on Friday, we have been taking things easy this weekend to recharge the batteries for my birthday tomorrow.  There are three things right at the top of my birthday wish list:  

Firstly, that 2013 goes down in history as the year when a breakthrough is made in the search for a mesothelioma cure.  Its about time for a great leap forward!  

Secondly, that this year will see a global ban on the mining, import, export and use of asbestos.  The world doesn't need it any more.  For the sake of future generations, ban asbestos now.  

Thirdly, I would like a magic wand to ease the emotional and physical pain and suffering of those who have to live with mesothelioma.  I would wave it over all of you - patients and carers, family and friends of those exposed to asbestos, including those yet to be diagnosed but where the seed of the disease has already been sown unbeknown to you.  

We count ourselves VERY fortunate indeed that Steve has yet to experience the very painful and debilitating physical side effects of mesothelioma which many suffer.  My heart breaks when reading the meso warriors blogs and posts on Facebook by those in the meso community who are less fortunate than ourselves in this respect.  However, the heartbreak heals a little when I see the way in which meso warriors support each other.  We are proud and lucky to be part of such an amazing community.  Thank you, each and every one of you, for the support you have given us over the last four years. 

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