Thursday, 31 January 2008

The Wine Duck

"It's a Bus, it's a Boat, it's both. Ever driven into the water? We have many times!"  Yes, well.

The Hawkes Bay Wine Country Duck can seat 34 passengers and leaves from the Information Centre on Marine Parade Napier 10.30am, 1.30 and 3pm daily. It will take you on a tour of Art Ducko Land (their words, not mine!) and then drives into the sea. A tour takes about an hour.

The Invisible Man

Fresh Food in Season

I think that I mentioned some time ago that many fresh foods here tends to be eaten in season so that asparagus and sweetcorn are eaten in large amounts during the season and relatively little out of season. Sweetcorn vacuum packed out of season is just over $3 per head whilst in the height of the season even the supermarkets sell a head for less than 50 cents and the farms and roadside vans will sometimes sell for half of that. Asparagus is similarly exceptionally cheap at $2 a kilo at times. I recall once last year calling in at one of the farm shops and they had a crate of apples marked $2. I assumed that was for a specific amount eg a kilo but the chap said "As much as you can carry". At 20p (UK) a cheap lunch - and no fat either (except for the butter that I swamped it with!)

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

The End of a Perfect Day

It's nearly a quarter to four in the morning. At about 9.30 last evening Wendy wandered down to have a chat. We chatted about music, Life, the Universe and Everything. Martin came down for a while too. Martin, unfortunately, has to work so retired sometime in the late evening. Since then Wendy and I have been listening to Allegri, Hildegard von Bingen and other composers and music and discussing, guess what, Life, the Universe and Everything.

Today was a Good Day. This evening has been a Good Evening.

I never cease to give thanks for the fact that I am able to have days and evenings like the one I've just had.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

This and That

I could go on about what a wonderful day I've just had but you may get a bit tired of that so I'm going to do a little bit of that and then give you a tiny bit of something different.

I had three excellent games of croquet this morning. Everything went just right. I played petanque this afternoon. Everything went just right. I have come to the conclusion that if your mind is relaxed and everything is good with the world, then everything comes right. Now I know that's nothing new but so much is chicken and egg. I just wish I could get them in the correct order more often.

Wendy was here!
A very New Zealand scene
A pokie machine at St Johns Club. Only the second time I've ever played one. $6 invested. $16 won. $6 re-invested. $10 remaining. Overall gain $4 nett ie 66% profit in 10? minutes.
One of our party won $120.
Amn't I going thin on top!?

Monday, 28 January 2008

Wanganui 7th Annual Golf Croquet Tournament

We - being Colleen Reynolds, Gaynor and I who had played in The Vets plus Jayne - arrived in Wanganui in time for a glass or two of wine before dinner on Friday evening. We were staying with Gill and Betty in their two houses in Wanganui.

Jayne collecetd us from The Vets in Lucy her van (a van being what we call a van in the UK with windows and seats). Jayne was, as she constantly reminded us, too young to play in The Vets. Jayne and Colleen are usually partners but Gaynor had partnered Colleen at The Vets and I had a local lady as a partner. Gaynor had invited me to partner her at Wanganui.

The first day of play was the Handicap Singles. There were two divisions for players with handicaps of 6 to 12. Mine is 6. The top players were in a separate 0 -5 division. I won my division with 6 wins and a draw (we ran out of time). Colleen Stephens - a lady from our Club who is one of the top Association players but who hadn't played a lot of Golf Croquet competitions recently - won the other 6 -12 division. So we played each other in the final: my first tournament final play-off and against one of the icons of Hawkes Bay Croquet and in front of an audience. That was daunting.

I'm not a nervous person but the start of the game was hard and my only thought was "Please don't let it be a whitewash". My opponent was brilliant and actually spent the first few minutes settling me down - she even was kind enough to point out that I was about to play the wrong ball. I then put my ball about 6" from the second hoop. From the length of the court she knocked it away (her Association skill and experience showing). I really do regret that I called her a bandit. The final result was a 7:6 win for Colleen. The better player had won and I hadn't disgraced myself. All in all a Good Day.

The start of the final play-off

Blue (me) knocks red awayfrom the hoop

After going home to change we went to the St John's Club for the evening with a large group of the other players. I can tell anyone who is in their 40s that until you've been out with a gang of ladies in their 60s, 70s and 80s who have just spent 7 hours on a croquet lawn and probably each walked well over 3 miles in the blazing sun, you have no idea how fit some people of that age are and just what a riot they can be on a night out.

Yes it was a very Good Day.

Sunday was not such a successful day but, hey, it was a day playing croquet so that's ok.

22nd New Zealand Veterans' Golf Croquet Championship

was held last week at the Manawatu Association in Fielding. The lawns were completely different to the lawns we who play in Hawkes Bay are used to because they were exceptionally dry and very very fast. This stood us in good stead for the next tournament in Wanganui where the lawns were equally fast.

I played pretty indifferent Croquet and managed to come somewhere in the middle in the doubles and singles events.

However the company was excellent and overall the tournament was a success and some very good acquaintanceships were formed. Which was good because some of the people also followed on to Wanganui and the socialising was excellent.

The following photos are a sequence of a jump shot by one of the top players, Bill Heavy. On this occasion it failed because the lawn was so good for jumping that the ball hit the top bar of the hoop. On my fist jump of the day I actually jumped over the top of the hoop. He is playing the blue ball.

A Few Days in Feilding: Interesting people, Scrabble and Saint Petersburg

I'm home.

One of the Good Things about going away to tournaments is that you meet some lovely people. Sometimes you also see new places although on the whole all I saw was one new croquet club (Feilding), a new (rather old) motel room and a bit of Feilding by night which is rather less than inspiring, presumably, than Feilding by day which, to be frank, does not strike one as the tiniest bit inspiring.

I did, however, have a wonderful time.

I arrived in Feilding early on Tuesday evening. A married couple from our own Club were already there. They very kindly took me under their wing. The evening started with a little relaxation and a Thai carry-out that was both delicious and contained more food than I suspect the average Somalian family has in a week. It was then announced that Tuesday was their Scrabble night. Now there are certain things in life I have never liked and managed to avoid with great success. Scrabble is one of those things. Board games is another.

However I decided that, in delightful company, even a game of Scrabble was better than reading even a good book in an indifferent motel room with nowhere even to go for a decent walk. I had a great time. I came third, of course, but next time.....

I seem to have arrived at a stage in life when not only am I doing new things but have discovered that it is a good idea to go back and have another try of some of the things one has previously tried and discarded.

The next night we went out for a meal and then played Saint Petersburg: a board game in which you acquire workers for income, build buildings for fame, and attract aristocrats to your city in order to gain the most fame at the end of the game. Ignorance is bliss. I chose the correct strategy and won. The next night we played again. I chose the incorrect strategy and lost. But next time......

Good Heavens! The next thing I will be attempting cryptic crosswords. Bye the way what is "Beef or game" in 6?"

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Off to Feilding and Wanganui

I'm off in half an hour to Feilding (yes it is Feilding. Driving through the place people often wonder where the C is. No not the sea (Feilding is quite a way from that) but the C being the one that ei is supposed to follow.

Feilding is named after Col William Henry Adelbert Feilding who was a director of a group called the Emigrants and Colonists Aid Association. The aim of the Association was to reduce unemployment in England by creating new settlements in the colonies. The Colonel travelled to the 'New World' to buy land for these settlements. He ended up in Manawatu where he bought 100,000 acres of land from the Government for £75,000. The area became known as The Manchester Block and 2000 settlers were provided with free passage over 5 years. The first 23 arrived on 22 January 1874 and were the founding citizens of Feilding.

I'm going there to play in the New Zealand Veterans Croquet Championships.

Then I'm off to Wanganui to play in their Annual Tournament.

Until I return I suspect that this will be my last posting.

Bye bye for now.

Full Moon - Almost

Tomorrow is the Full Moon. Last night Wendy and I sat on the deck in the late (and early) hours chatting about Jung, Neitze, Voltaire and eugenics and the sort of thing one just chats about at that time of night. We also thought about the moon that was providing the light which enabled us to locate our wine glasses on the table. So I thought I would share it with you in case you can't see it tonight.

A Fence is a Fence for A' That

I was looking out from the Cottage the other day and across on a hillside opposite I became aware that there was something odd about the fence in this picture. Curious.

The Cottage: A Different Perspective

I have lived here for over three months and had not, until a few days ago, been into the paddock in front of the house or over to look at the orchard. Everything looks quite different from down there. Oddly the apple trees look much smaller than they do when viewed from the house.

Monday, 21 January 2008

The Flag of New Zealand

The New Zealand Flag as it is today was brought into being on 12 June 1902 and is the symbol of the realm government and people of New Zealand. Its royal blue background is reminiscent of the blue sea and clear sky surrounding us. The stars of the Southern Cross emphasise this country's location in the South Pacific Ocean. The Union Flag gives recognition to the Country's historical foundations and the fact that New Zealand was once a British colony and dominion.

The need for a flag of New Zealand first became clear when a New Zealand built and owned trading ship Sir George Murray was seized by Customs officials in the port of Sydney. The ship had been sailing without a flag which was a violation of British navigation laws. New Zealand-built ships could not fly under a British flag because of New Zealand's colonial status. Among the passengers on the ship were two high-ranking Māori chiefs. The ship's detainment was reported as arousing indignation among the Māori population. Unless a flag was selected, ships would continue to be seized.

The first flag of New Zealand was adopted on 9 March 1834 by a vote made by the United Tribes of New Zealand, a meeting of Māori chiefs, who later made the Declaration of Independence of New Zealand, at Waitangi in 1835. Three flags were proposed, all purportedly designed by the missionary Henry Williams, who was to play a major role in the translation of the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840. The Chiefs rejected two other proposals which included the Union Flag, in favour of a modified St George's Cross or the White Ensign. This flag became known as the flag of the United Tribes of New Zealand. The need for a flag was pressing, not only because New Zealand-built ships were being impounded in Sydney for not flying a national flag, but also as a symbol of the independence declared by the Māori chiefs.

The flag is still flown on the flag pole at Waitangi, and can be seen on Waitangi Day.

After the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, the British Union Flag was used, although the former United Tribes flag was still used by a number of ships from New Zealand and in many cases on land. The New Zealand Company settlement at Wellington, for example, continued to use the United Tribes flag until ordered to replace it by Governor William Hobson in 1841.

The first flag of New Zealand to be based on the British blue ensign was introduced in 1867 following the Colonial Navy Defence Act 1865, which required all ships owned by colonial governments fly the defaced Royal Navy blue ensign with a Colonial badge. New Zealand did not have a Colonial badge, nor indeed a Coat of Arms of its own at this stage, and so the letters "NZ" were simply added to the blue ensign.

The current flag was introduced in 1869. It was initially used only on government ships, but was adopted as the de facto national flag in a surge of patriotism arising from the Second Boer War in 1902.

There is some debate today as to whether New Zealand should have a new flag. A subject to which I will, doubtless, return.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

A Morning on the Beach

Last Sunday morning David, Fraser, Catriona and I went to Napier. We went to the Sunday Market and had an ice cream (Mr Whippy type! Hooray!). Then we walked along the black volcanic beach. Fraser, as always, managed to be upside down at some point. Then the young members of the group went on a sort of assisted big jump. I suppose that, secretly, I'd rather have like to have a try too. Needless to say Fraser managed to be 'adventurous' in his jumping and was allowed to do summersaults.


In the last Posting I mentioned that I'd called in at Pak'n Save. We have three Supermarkets on the periphery of the centre of Napier. If you stand in the position where I took these photos this is the view that you get of each of them.You will note that the architectural merit of supermarkets in New Zealand is no better than that in countries everywhere that I have been.

I generally shop at Countdown because the layout suits me and the fruit and vegetables are better than Pak'n Save in my opinion. Pak'n Save has an excellent wine selection and is generally thought to be the cheapest in town and you don't have to wait at the checkouts in the way that you do at Countdown and Woolworths (although the times even there are short compared with a wait in a queue at the Coop in Stornoway). I'm not sure why I don't shop at Woolworths because, although it's the smallest of the supermarkets and the most expensive, it does have things the other shops do not stock.

A Couple of Uneventful Days

After a series of postings about what I considered to be interesting things I thought I'd go back to the more boring topic of updating you on what I'm up to. In truth I feel rather like Elizabet Taylor's seventh husband on their wedding night: I know what's expected of me but I've no idea how to make it interesting.

Yesterday (Saturday) was a day for Croquet but it started with very heavy rain sweeping across the orchard in front of the Cottage making that look very unlikely. By 0930 it was down to drizzle so I decided to go to the Club on the chance that it might not be heavy rain down there on the plain and that if there was I'd do some shopping.

On the outskirts of town where a dual carriageway starts I realised that the car coming towards me was actually on my carriageway. This was not looking like a Good Day.

When I arrived at the Club I realised that the ground was dry: the Club had had no rain. Explain that.

I played over six hours of Croquet which probably meant that I walked about 6 or 7 kilometres during the day. I had three excellent games of Golf Croquet in the morning and then in the afternoon I discovered that I had an Association doubles match - my second - which had been arranged without me knowing. It was a good match too (helped by our win by one hoop!).

I didn't reach home until after 7 pm but apart from a call at Pak n Save for some provisions I can't for the life of me recall what I did between 1620 when I left the Club and when I arrived home. That was only 24 hours ago - this is not a Good Sign.

I went to June's this morning to do a few things to her computer and have a bite of lunch before returning home to watch the A1 GP which was, today, held in Taupo. What a difference from the GP 'proper': frequent overtaking and thrills and spills galore.

Today the weather in Napier has been dreach and miserable with lots of light, drenching rain. But whilst the rain meant that I couldn't see the hills behind which I live from the road home from town, the rest of New Zealand is suffering the driest conditions for decades and there are fires everywhere. We are an Island of rain in a sea of sun. Bummer.

On the right is my Association Doubles partner, Frank. He is one of the Club's very experienced players. He and Noel, another very experienced player, decided to take on Colleen and I who are two new recruits to Association. He has just performed a wonderfully consistent shot: golfers will admire the fact that Frank's head has stayed in exactly the same place throughout the shot until just after the strike.

Friday, 18 January 2008

Whykickamoocow and Waipu?

I know, it should be 'Mille' but, hey, who cares, it is a wonderful link with Scotland and Gaeldom.

Whykickamoocow (pronounced Waikikamukau) is an absolutely splendid book by Nicola McCloy about curious New Zealand place names.

I'm sure that I shall be using it in the future to enlighten you about some of the more interesting place names here. Today, however, I am concentrating on the link between New Zealand and Scotland (there are a lot) and the settlement of Waipu just south of Whangerai in Northland at the North of North Island (where else would Northland be?).

The links with my Scottish home are many. Waipu has about 10 roads including The Braigh (very close to home), Argyle Street, Braemar and Nova Scotia Road.

Of course I've not just chosen it because of its pronunciation.

Waipu's founder was Rev Norman McLeod who arrived with his followers from Scotland via Nova Scotia and Australia in 1854. It was his hope to establish a Gaelic-speaking settlement that would be allowed to practise its own brand of Presbyterianism. They soon realised that the land at Waipu was good for farming, that the waters were good for fishing and that the New Zealand government would leave them to worship in peace.

Quite what Waipu means is not absolutely clear. 'Wai' means water but 'pu' has several meanings but the most likely in this contest would seem to be murmuring (the sound of the Waipu River). Whatever the meaning, however, the answer will always be 'Why not?'


One of the great things about New Zealanders is their ability to keep things in perspective:


Andrew - Self portrait

18 January is the anniversary of Andrew's birth. He would have been 36 today.

You may wonder why this posting is appearing on this particular Blog. The answer is that it relates to the reason why I am here and why I am alive and thus able to be here.

In early 2006 (Andy died on 4 June 2006) some of Andy's Blog postings were very harrowing. It has taken me a long time to pluck up the emotional courage to re-read them.

I am very conscious of the fact that I have no real idea what it is like to have cancer. Although I knew that I had cancer I suffered absolutely no symptoms nor ill health. For me from diagnosis to operation to a reasonable recovery took a matter of a few months. The great majority of people have to wait that long just to get an MRI scan. I had no time for worry, contemplation or any other emotion. Mind you if I hadn't had Dr Lawson as my doctor I wouldn't be alive (amazing that after that he came to live and practise in New Zealand a matter of 20 kilometres from where I now stay, before he returned to Lewis ). The Consultant told me that if I hadn't had the operation when I did then my life would probably have ended rather unpleasantly within a few months. Scary really. Every day I wake up I am grateful.

Andy wasn't so lucky. He'd known that he had cancer for many years and by the time of his death he had suffered more than most of us can even start to imagine - and I certainly include myself in that category. He suffered a lot more than many cancer sufferers. But Andy had tremendous hope and courage. On 2 January 2006 his thoughts on the year just past were:

so stitch that ya bas

2005. "Been a shitty year, but the show must go on" - kyle said it better than i ever could. at the start of the year, i had it all to look forward to. i'd worked my arse off for three years to get to where i was in march, with a masters degree, java certification, a new (dream) job, and an offer in on a new flat in leafy isleworth. what could possibly go wrong? well, we all know the answer to that. i'm not one to wallow in self-pity, i may indulge in it now and again but though it's fun for a while it doesn't really get you anywhere. having said that, it's frustrating to look at where i was a mere 9 months ago, and the shit i've had to go through since then. but i don't feel sorry for myself, i really don't. i've been very fortunate in my life, i've never wanted for anything, i've never gone hungry or cold, i've got lots of real friends and my own flat, a fantastic job in an understanding company, and i've been blessed with a great musical taste and fashion sense (oh yes i have). so what's to complain about? no matter what happens in this next year, whether they can operate or not, whether i have to give up work or not, and whether, ultimately, i get better or not, i don't feel sorry for myself. i've had a great life so far, and nothing can change that.

The postings for the next few weeks catalogued his illness. After a week of daily visits to clinics and some very upsetting postings came:

ka-boom? yes, rico. ka-boom. so i've been putting my great christmas present (the splendid champion juicer) to good use. every day i grind up a shitload of fruit and veg and chug the lot. well, after a while you get bored of the same old same old, so when i was in the supermarket i went to the juices section for some inspiration. and there it was - a bottle marked 'apple and ginger'. ooh - très exotic, n'est pas? so i grab a handful of ginger and a bag full of apples and home i go. i've never juiced ginger before. i cut up a piece, a big cube about an inch long, and chuck it through the juicer. juicer growls, and spits out a tiny wee bit of juice. hmm, that's not a lot, best chuck some more in. so in goes another big lump. still not getting much juice but i've used it all up now. oh well, never mind. in go the apples and i've got a pint of apple juice with a wee bit of ginger in it. cheers, i says to myself, and takes a hearty swig. five minutes later, i wake up on the kitchen floor. what's happened? someone's set fire to my head. is that blood? oh god, my mouth, i can't feel my mouth! my tongue has dissolved! help! snot is dribbling all over my face, tears stream from my eyes. i'd call an ambulance but without a tongue how can i tell them where i live? so anyway, the moral of this story is simple. never get ideas above your station, or your head explodes. seriously.

I miss him so much.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

An Evening Cycle

I decided to go for a bike ride this evening before dinner. It was a beautiful evening and the sun was in the right position to get some lovely photos of a view from Rotowhenua Road near the end of the road where the post is dropped and as far as the public services go.

An interesting homestead sign a few kilometres away

Detail from the sign

The Moon

The Moon has just passed its first quarter. It has been so clear the last few nights that I thought I'd try a photograph. So this is what I could see about half an hour ago.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

The International Space Station: A Perfect View

Last night and tonight we have had absolutely clear skies in the evening. This has meant that New Zealanders have had a clear view of the International Space Station as it passed overhead. It was visible with the naked eye as it passed overhead.

Flying up from the south, at 8.59pm, it brushed the South Island's Cape Farewell and pass over the North Island coast from around Hawera in Taranaki to Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty. It was visible for just under four minutes. The advantage of tonight's viewing was that much of New Zealand was in twilight darkness but the ISS was in bright sunshine - making it much more visible.

The ISS is a research facility currently being assembled in space. The on-orbit assembly of ISS began in 1998. The space station is in a low Earth orbit and can be seen from Earth with the naked eye: it has an altitude of 350-460 km (189-248 statute miles)[1] above the surface of the Earth, and travels at an average speed of 27,700 km (17,210 statute miles) per hour, completing 15.77 orbits per day. The ISS is a joint project among the space agencies of the United States (NASA), Russia (RKA), Japan (JAXA), Canada (CSA) and several European countries (ESA).

Last weekend Russian Mission Control lifted the ISS's orbit by 5.25 kilometres to over 350 kilometres above Earth in preparation for visits to it next month by US and Russian spacecrafts.

Opossum World: A Most Unusual Museum

An Unusual Museum

Australian Bush-tailed Opossum

Most museums are devoted to informing people of things to be remembered or conserved. Opossum World in Napier is probably the only Museum in the world currently devoted to the extermination of a living creature: in this case the Opossum.

Its slogan is: Save a New Zealand tree. Buy Opossum fur products.

The imported Australian Opossum which is estimated to number 70 million in New Zealand eats an estimated 21 tonnes of foliage (mainly the young branch shoots of trees) each night - New Zealand's ecological nightmare.

The Australian Opossum or phalanger (Trichosurus vulpecula) was first liberated at Riverton, Southland, in 1858 with the idea of starting a skin trade. Since then innumerable recorded and unrecorded liberations have been made all over New Zealand, in Stewart Island and the Chatham Islands and in the outlying islands. There are now few areas without opossums, exceptions being the high country and northern Northland. There were at first very few complaints, but as opossums became established and increased in numbers and distribution they came to cause trouble, especially when combined with other animals, in native and man-made forests, in orchards and gardens, and in catchment areas. Admittedly hundreds of thousands of skins were exported each year, but on balance it appears that the harmful effect of opossums outweighed the profits from the sale of skins.

Legislation on the management and control of opossums reflects the changing attitude towards this species. A period of absolute protection from the date of introduction till 1920 was followed by a period of limited protection, when skins were taken by licence during a short open season. In 1947 all protection was removed and in 1951 a bounty system was introduced. This was followed in 1956 by further legislation which declared the opossum a “noxious animal”. At present the bounty system has been discontinued and opossum control is entrusted in part to rabbit boards [the mind boggles!] and in part to the New Zealand Forest Service. Trapping, used almost exclusively in the past, has recently been largely replaced by poisoning with 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate), or cyanide, and by shooting.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008


Common Gecko, Green-tree Gecko Nautinus elegans
The largest New Zealand Gecko and one of the largest in the world.
They are about 14 cm long and can live for 17 years

I was trying to recall when and why I said that I would be doing a posting on Geckos. Then I remembered. It was A Quiet Day .

Geckos are small to average sized lizards belonging to the family Gekkonidae which are found in warm climates throughout the world. There are 1,196 different species of geckos. The name stems from the Malay word gekoq, imitative of its cry.

New Zealand geckos are some of the world’s most anatomically primitive geckos and were in the New Zealand region before its separation from Gondwanaland 80 million years ago.

Geckos have an excellent sense of smell, sight & hearing. Most are vocal, communicating by clicks & squeaks. When acting aggressively they arch their backs, open their mouths in a threatening manner, & flick their tails from side to side. There is a great variety in colour & size, from bright-greens & yellows to bark-like greys and browns. Geckos are renowned for their climbing ability, some being able to climb vertical glass using rows of incredibly fine 'hairs' on their toe pads.

Ranging in size from 55mm to 370mm (the size of the only known specimen of Kawekaweau Hoplodactylus delcourti the largest gecko in the world and now extinct), New Zealand's geckos are unique amongst the geckos of the world for many reasons, the most notable of which is that they bear live young, rather than laying eggs, generally giving birth to twins in summer.

Geckos live in a variety of habitats all over New Zealand, from forest dwellers to mountain ranges to shorelines. This diversity is also expressed by the hugely varied lifestyles of our native geckos - there are nocturnal and diurnal geckos, species that live in colonies of up thirty or forty and animals that roam great distances during the course of their lives.

I have yet to see one in the wild and photograph it. One day....

Monday, 14 January 2008

It's All in a Name

So is it pronounced Gebbie as in Debbie or Geeby as in HeeBeeGeeBee? I came across the road in Taradale on my cycle ride. It is named after Thomas Gebbie who owned land before Taradale land was sold in 1873. His son William J Gebbie was a founding member of the Forresters Lodge in 1886. Until 1903 he was a coach driver on the old Taupo Road. I thought you would all like to know that!

Sunday, 13 January 2008

I Feel Sad

Every second Sunday I have a period of about 10 minutes when I feel very sad as I contemplate the shortness of my time here and how fast tempus fugit.

Every second Sunday I re-fill my pill box!

Would You Drive This?

Given the machismo of Antipodean lorry drivers how does this firm ever get anyone to work for it? Note that it has no identification visible!

The Perfect Day?

Every day that we have should be the best that we can have. That will, of course, be entirely different for each one of us. An eminent jurist would be highly unlikely to have been satisfied with my day any more than a rabid Manchester United supporter might be. Our expectations will also be different at each point in our lives. Sorry. I didn't actually mean to start off with a pseudo-philosophical statement. The point is that I have just had what, for me and at this point in my life, was as perfect a day as it gets.

I was up at 0600. I read and sent emails and read and posted blog. I had a Croquet match at 0900. Two games won 7:3 7:1. They have to be replayed on Monday because we didn't play handicaps. Two 'friendly' matches followed. Then in the afternoon I played my first Association game where I was left largely to think for myself. I didn't win as such because the game didn't run its course but when it ended after 3 hours I had 11 hoops to my opponents 9.

After going to have late afternoon tea with a friend and getting some provisions at the supermarket I came home, had dinner, emailed and watched some television.

At 2330 Wendy and Martin popped down for a chat until 0130.

Yes. That's about as good as it gets and, frankly, if it never gets any better I shall be a very happy bunny. However sad you might consider me.

Saturday, 12 January 2008


In Napier there is a Sunday Market in a car park between Marine Parade and the sea. Apart from the wonderful setting it is pretty much the same as markets which are a combination of flea markets and car boot sales anywhere I have ever been. Auckland and many other places have their flea market but Napier has a Sunday Market! There are also plenty of Farmers Markets in the vicinity but I have yet to visit one.

In New Zealand we also have Gypsy Markets. They are not true Gypsys but travelling people and they operate sales stalls, donkey rides and fortune telling and the like. Some of the most interesting mobile homes I've ever seen have been at these 'Markets'.