Thursday, 30 April 2009

An Unequel Struggle

There is nothing equal about the struggle between a wasp and a praying mantis.  Indeed it's hardly a contest.  

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Crossing Over

I'm sure that I haven't quite finished all that I have to say on this particular blog . In fact I know that I haven't. So please stay with it for a few days and I'll let you know when I'm finished. In the meantime I have started posting on Eagleton Notes as well.

In My Eagleton Home

This is a real quickie. It's after 11pm and I'm tired. I arrived home at 1730 Pat having picked me up from the Airport and deposited me home. The fridge had all the necessities in it. I had visitors to welcome me home and so many other distractions. The garden was noweher near as bad as I feared it could be and David has very kindly cut the grass. What would I do without good neighbours? So I took a couple of photos from the Study at 8pm with the sun still shining.

San Francisco to Glasgow to Stornoway

I’m actually writing this in Glasgow although it will not get posted until I arrive in Stornoway and I have settled into my Eagleton home. I can’t receive the wireless signal in the departure lounge for the Islands flights which is tucked away.

My flight from San Francisco to London was booked through Air New Zealand but they had put me onto their code-share partner Virgin Atlantic. These pictures of the inflight display in the screen in front of me were taken on my phone so are not of good quality. In any case neither the quality of the screens on the Virgin plane nor the quality of their display of inflight information and maps was a patch on the Air NZ ones. The display does show, however, that our flight path was, as I had anticipated, to the North of my United States readers.

When we arrived in London Air New Zealand hadn’t unlocked my London to Glasgow e-ticket which was with another code-share partner, British Midland. A couple of years ago I waited 1 hr 20 mins for it to be sorted. Today I waited about the same. I definitely feel a complaint coming on. Waiting at an airline desk after travelling half way around the world is not fun.

Then British Midland failed to deliver my croquet mallet to Glasgow. Ah well. It'll probably be delivered to the house in the next day or so and I won't have had to have paid for it on FlyBe from Glasgow to Stornoway.

I was pretty tired by the time I got onto the Stornoway flight. I do love flying above the clouds and although this was not particularly spectacular it nevertheless was beautiful. Even more would it be so if you hadn't experienced it. So especially for Heather I took the following with my phone (in flight mode I hasten to add!):

It's a long way from Rotowhenua Road to Eagleton!

Monday, 27 April 2009

An Update From San Francisco

Hello folks. The flight from Auckland to San Francisco was good and seemed to fly by (sorry about that). Thank you for your comments and wishes. I'll take them on board for the second leg of the flight to London Heathrow. I'll still have two flights after that mind you. To Glasgow and then to Stornoway.

It seems really odd. I left Napier at 1750 on Sunday 26 April. I arrived in San Francisco at noon on, guess when, Sunday the 26 April ie nearly six hours before I left. It doesn't matter how many times I do this it still seems strange.

The other odd thing is that I cannot send texts from either of my mobile phones yes when I arrived in S F texts arrived for me. Anyway I managed to log onto T-Mobile's hotspot with my laptop for half the price of a cup of coffee.

Just to add another oddity to this posting I am now nearer to some of you than I usually am. I won't fly over Texas or Oklahoma or Vermont I don't think but this message is being penned from the States. Actually I wonder how much nearer to Vermont San Francisco is than London is. Not, I suspect, by a huge distance.

Take care my friends.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

On My Way

Well I'm almost ready to leave. 25 minutes to go. Time to get changed and sort out a few last minute odds and ends.

I'll be posting again on this blog for a few days after I get to Scotland and then it'll be onto Eagleton Notes.

Take care dear friends.

Reel Men

Every time I put my glass at the side of my bed I think of you. Away it goes for another six months. Out of sight but never out of mind.

No More Sleeps

It's a beautiful sunny morning.

I fly out from Napier in 9 hours. So allowing for getting to the airport and check-in time etc I have... Oh dear is that all. I really must pack. Bye for now.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

According to Plan?

What do you think? It's now 2310 and I suspect that the day is far from over.

Have I packed up or packed my case? I could try and think of a long answer but the short one is 'No'. Have I had a Good Day? The answer is definitely 'Yes'.

I spent the morning attempting to sort out the contents of The Cottage. Well perhaps that's not the most successful achievement today.

Went to croquet. Zoe, fresh from her success at the Te Mata Doubles Tournament, decided that we were to play a singles. She wanted to part with one final win against me under her belt. Despite our respective differences on paper I would not put more than even money on me winning in a levels game (well perhaps I'd give myself a 55:45 chance). Zoe decided on handicap. Unfortunately for her I couldn't do a thing wrong and played one of the best games of my life to win on the 13th hoop 7:6. It may be the very last game I ever win against that young lady and I shall mark it up. I am glad that, when I return, I will be playing with her and not against her. I shall miss my croquet friends. It would be hard to find a lovelier group of people with whom to play.

This evening we went out to a Thai Restaurant. We had a lovely meal and the children were excellent company (ie they behaved impeccably). The photos will have to wait because I took the camera up to The House when we returned and went in the spa and took in the wonders of the sky. Martin saw one shooting star. I'm hoping Martin has taken the camera in 'cos last I saw it was on the table outside. Fortunately it's my compact and not my principal camera.

It's nearly midnight. Am I going to make a start on the remainder of the sorting of the packing away? No. I'm going to bed. Wotthehellarchiewotthehell.

The Winners

The winners of the Te Mata Golf Croquet Doubles Tournament were Tony Stephens and Zoe Petterson.

The sponser of the Tournament on the right of Tony and Zoe with Leon Roselli the joint founder of the Club in the background.

One More Sleep

Today is Saturday. All of a sudden the reality has hit me. So today I shall:

Sort out my possessions and dispose of those I don't need any more. How many clothes have I not worn during the last 6 months?

Pack up my thing in The Cupboard

Clean The Cottage

Go and play croquet this afternoon (there are no sports on the morning of Anzac Day) providing the weather holds. The forecast is not good but the sun has started shining so....

Go out to a Thai Restaurant for dinner with The Family.

Come home and think about life, the universe and everything (or go to bed which is the more likely option!).

Oh. I forgot. Whilst I'm doing all these things I shall be blogging and doing all the other things that will hopefully distract me from the other tasks.

All in all it could be a Good Day.

ANZAC DAY: 25 April

The 25th April is ANZAC Day (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps). It commemorates all New Zealanders killed in war and also honours returned servicemen and women. Perhaps more effectively than any other date in the National calendar Anzac Day promotes a sense of unity amongst the people of New Zealand. People whose politics, beliefs and aspirations are widely different can nevertheless share a genuine sorrow at the loss of so many lives in war.

The date itself marks the anniversary of the landing of New Zealand and Australian soldiers – the Anzacs – on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915. The aim was to capture the Dardanelles, the gateway to the Bosphorus and the Black Sea. At the end of the campaign, Gallipoli was still held by its Turkish defenders.

The Gallipoli campaign was, however, a costly failure for the Allies, who after nine months abandoned it and evacuated their surviving troops. Almost a third of the New Zealanders taking part had been killed; the communities they came from had counted the cost in the lengthy casualty lists that appeared in their newspapers. And the sacrifice seemed to have been in vain, for the under-resourced and poorly-conducted campaign did not have any significant influence on the outcome of the war.

After Gallipoli, New Zealand had a greater confidence in its distinct identity, and a greater pride in the international contribution it could make. The mutual respect earned during the fighting formed the basis of the close ties with Australia that continue today.

In New Zealand Anzac Day is also Poppy Day in place of Remembrance Day. This Country's equivilent to the British Legion is the RSA or Returned Services Association which organises Poppy Day.

Anzac Day is a public holiday and compulsory half-day for the shops.

Gallipoli Statistics:

260 - days of the Gallipoli Campaign

8556 - NZ forces landed: 4852 NZ forces wounded, 2721 NZ forces fatalities

8709 - Australian forces fatalities

33,072 - fatalities from all British forces

10,000* - French fatalities

87,000* - Turkish fatalities

20,000* - total number attending 2005 Anzac Day commemorations at Gallipoli

*Estimated number

The Ode
A veteran on Anzac Day.

This is the verse of the ode that is said during the minutes of silence on Anzac Day:

They shall grow not old,
As we that are left grow old,
Age shall not weary them,
Nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun,
And in the morning
We will remember them.

Laurence Binyon (1869-1943), For the Fallen (1914), stanza 4

The verse is traditionally concluded with the words "Lest We Forget"

Friday, 24 April 2009

A Jump Shot

Yesterday and today there was a Golf Croquet Doubles Tournament at the Te Mata Croquet Club. This is a jump shot being performed by one of New Zealand's top women players, Erica Stephens.

The blue ball lifts off the ground

It hits the top cross bar of the hoop and drops down

onto the red ball

Because of the forward spin on the blue ball it spins itself forward through the hoop and the red ball backwards out of the hoop.

The hoop has been made by the blue ball

Pampas Grass or Toetoe?

In the Napier suburb of Meanee there flourishes a most spectacular Pampas Grass. I'm not sure whether it is an introduced one or the native Toetoe. Cortaderia jubata begins flowering in late January and Cortaderia selloana begins flowering in early March. Toetoe flowers from October to January. Given that it is April I suspect that it is selloana. Whichever it sure is impressive.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

What a Day

I have been quite overwhelmed today by the kind thoughts of people. I went to croquet this morning and was presented with a most heart warming 'presentation':

Then I went to the Te Mata Club where there is a Tournament in which some of the Marewa Club Members are playing. My partner from the Rose Gardens tournament, Zoe, (who will be my doubles partner next year) is playing with New Zealand's top ranking golf croquet player. I had decided I couldn't play in the tournament because of the closeness of my impending departure. I was again very moved by the wishes for a safe return.

This evening I went out to dinner at a friends' house. More wishes.

I'm beginning to wonder if I'll last until Sunday afternoon without some serious tears appearing.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

More Weather

I have four more sleeps until I leave for Scotland and the other half of my life. Here is what the final days of this stay in New Zealand are promised on the weather front. Hmmm.

Remember Tupperware?

In Australia and New Zealand Tupperware is very popular and sold principally through Tupperware Parties. In fact the two countries combined form the sixth largest consumer of Tupperware. In the UK Tupperware ceased to be marketed in 2003 and was re-launched in 2005. Why has Tupperware and Avon made the headlines in New Zealand's media today? Whilst there is a massive economic downturn in general Tupperware and Avon are experiencing massive increases in sales at the moment. Apparently it is usual in times of slump for home selling to buck the trend. Now is no exception in this country at least.

The Circus Comes to Napier

Three of the children enrolled for three mornings of circus school. Today they did what I certainly would never have had the courage to do at their ages (or at any age come to that). They gave a public performance at lunchtime in Emerson Street in the centre of Napier. It was wonderful to see how much they tried and how much they enjoyed it.

Wendy and I parked ourselves in ringside seats with coffee

Catriona and four spinning plates

A double act

Fraser upside down as usual

David doing things with sticks: my Dad always stuck his tongue out when he threw a dart

Beautiful but scary

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

The Paper Mulberry: Revisited

In February I blogged about one of my favourite eateries: The Paper Mulberry at Te Aute near Otane on State Highway 2 on the Napier side of Waipawa.

I went to Woodmallets in Otane today to have an adjustment made to the handle of my croquet mallet so I called in for lunch on the way there and coffee on the way back.

One of the lovely things about the place (which was absolutely packed for lunch) is that you are not a number. For lunch my table marker was a frog and for coffee it was a little spotted pig. I like that touch.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Murky Day

It's been raining heavily all day. I drove everywhere with my headlights on (and the lid on!).

You can't see to the bottom of the cattle trough (I don't have a Turtle Pond).

I wonder if the Highland Cows in the paddock wonder if it bothers me that they spend their life witnessing every moment of my life in The Cottage as if I were a turtle in a turtle pond.

I saw a cat this morning. She put up with the petting 'cos she was trying to get me to feed her. I fed her. Then she wandered off sure in the superiority of her race in training humans.

I have three sprigs of lavender in a champagne flute.

(With apologies to L'Archiduchesse for the plagerism.)

Chocolate and Laura Brannigan

It must be Cynthia to blame. It is several hours ago and as my memory doesn't go that far back I can't recall why I went over to visit her blog. It was probably something to do with seeing the title of the posting Warning!! Chocolate Addict Lives Here. Anyway when I made my coffee this morning I decided to have a piece of chocolate with it. As a recovered chocoholic I do allow myself the occasional treat. As I was raiding the fridge I realised how much chocolate would be left for 'The family' when I return to the other half of my life in Scotland in six sleeps. And I still wasn't tempted to have more than one piece. I really must be cured.

This morning is so untypical. It's started to rain. I'm eating chocolate. And Laura Brannigan is belting out of the speakers instead of my usual morning quiet Mozart or Satie or whoever happens to suit my mood. I wonder what that says about my mood this morning?

Milford Sound

I was looking for a photo yesterday and came across these two that I'd taken when in the South Island a few years ago. They are of Milford Sound. One day I'll look up some more and show you some of the impressive scenery we have in New Zealand. It really can take your breath away.

Girl with Puppy

The path is long and windy.
Says it all really.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

One Huge Sheep

On the way home this afternoon an acquaintance was moving sheep and the road was blocked. The sheep were, well, sheep except for one which was probably the largest sheep that I have ever seen.

Fun in the Afternoon

This afternoon I took the three youngest children to one of the parks where there was a large inflatable fun fair. Makes you think really. There was a day when it took ages to set up and dismantle a funfair. Now it is deflated and away on one lorry in a couple of hours.

N Z Banking Catches Up

In many things New Zealand banks have been ahead of the world in customer services because, being a small, enclosed economy things like electronic point of sale were trialled here. Certainly my bank account doesn't even have a cheque facility and I pay everything electronically.

Debit cards have been in use in the UK for many years. They have the advantage that one can use them anywhere and for anything that Visa can be used. In New Zealand debit cards are new and the bank I use - ASB - only introduced them a few weeks ago. Until now I have paid using a non-chip cash card or a credit card. Now I have scrapped the credit card and have the freedom of a debit card. And, hey, you can use one of your own images on it. So mine will look like, you've guessed it, this.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

A Boring Epistle

Just occasionally I feel the need to bore those of you who read this blog with some mundanities. Mundanities which bring me joy and happiness. Mundanities which make me laugh. Mundanities which bring tears to my eyes. Mundanities which are my life.

I am writing this on Saturday evening at one glass of wine (sorry, at 1900 or 7pm in old money).

I woke up on Thursday morning with the realisation that I had an important croquet match at 1000 against a dear friend and the the person who inducted me into croquet, Jayne. I am the holder of the Dorothea Sweetapple Trophy and was keen to win the final match of the annual tournament and hold onto the trophy. However if I were to lose the final I would love Jayne to be the one to beat me.

Since the Hawkes Bay Tournament where we played croquet for up to 10 hours in a day for seven days I've had tenosinovitus in my left hand. In fact I haven't played very good croquet for nearly a month. So at 0845 on Thursday I went to the physio for treatment and to have the hand bandaged. Then a coffee and a relaxing crossword in the sun of a pavement café. Then I realised there was a barber near the café. And I had a most, shall I say, interesting haircut. The attention to the minutest detail by a giant wielding minute scissors instead of the hedging shears that would have been better suited to his hands would have been almost touching had it not also been so time-consuming.

I won the match in straight games.

Then Jayne and Colleen took me to lunch at The Gintrap. Jayne and Colleen and I are the terrible trio who career around the country going to tournaments together. They have gone to one this weekend without me 'cos it's too near my leaving. Sad. The frequent texts attest to the proceedings that I am missing.

Last night 'the family' came to dinner. Martin took the children up to The House to bed after Wild at Heart and Wendy and I settled down to watch an interesting programme on cosmetic medicines and wait for Martin to return. We both went to sleep and missed the conclusion. What was ironic was that we'd both had a rather abstemious evening so couldn't even blame our lethargy on alcohol.

Today I played some of the best golf and association croquet I've played for ages. Croquet happiness returned.

Life's fun. Life's good. Life's, well, just that, life. Has to be better than the alternative.