Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The Weekend Reviewed

It seems like an age ago that I set off on a sunny Saturday to drive to Tauranga about 300k via Taupo, Tokoroa, Tirau and over the Kaimai Ranges.  There is definitely something therapeutic as well as thrilling in driving in an open-top car in the sun on roads perfectly designed not for the large cruisers but for the nimble cars like the MX5.

The reason I was in Tauranga was to attend an Aftermas at Katherine's.  It was a wonderful and diverse gathering of friends on a warm afternoon to share food and conversation.

Because of the distance I stayed two nights: two nights when I didn't have, or wasn't aware of having, a night-mare nor even a dream.  I wondered why because it is exceptionally rare for me not to wake in the morning with a dream or, more often, a night-mare.  I very rarely wake during the night though.  So what was different about these nights?  I was sleeping in a caravan and I slept the sleep of the dead until - and herein, I think, lies the answer - I was woken suddenly and without my usual natural wakening. The first morning it sounded as though a harrier had crashed into the roof and the resultant alarm calls from a Blackbird made me think that it had possibly have been the subject of the attack.  The second morning at some hour when the dawn must just have cracked the sky because it still seemed dark to me, a Tui started up its melodious but loud and piercing racket song what felt like about three feet from my head.  I never use an alarm but wake naturally.  Perhaps I'll try setting an alarm for pre-dream time.

The highlight of the food so far as effort was concerned went to this fruit salad made by Katherine's elder son and his partner.

My journey home was via Rotorua and was equally enjoyable. 

Monday, 30 January 2012

Waipunga Falls

I had decided that on the way to Tauranga I would stop and have a look at the Waipunga Falls on the Napier to Taupo State Highway 5 North of Tarawera.

In the past when I've stopped there has been little water in the river and the falls have been anything but spectacular.   On Saturday there was plenty of water and the 40 metre three column waterfall was giving a good show.

The Waipunga River on which the falls are is a tributary of the Mohaka River, It runs roughly 50 km from its source near the eastern edge of the North Island Volcanic Plateau to its junction with the Mohaka, of which some 15 km follow alongside the Napier-Taupo highway.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Eastern Rosella

Friday evening I arrived in Tauranga having had a wonderful drive in the sun.  In the garden I was puzzled by a constant scolding by some invisible birds high up in a Tanekaha.  Then one showed itself.  It was an Eastern Rosella.  Originally from Australia these parrots have established populations in New Zealand.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Off to Tauranga

After a horrible day yesterday when the temperature plummeted from the 30s the day before to the teens and it rained, the sun is shining again and is apparently shining over most of the North Island.  This makes me very happy because I'm driving up to Tauranga today.  I shall have the top off The Handbag and I'm hoping for lots of stops for photos along the way.  I should have a signal on the laptop so I'll hopefully keep up the blogging while I'm away.

It's a Very Small World

In a previous incarnation - leastways it seems that long ago - I was a potter.  Actually, like most things in life, it was not as simple as that.  To cut out all the detail, for many years, until it was sold in January 2005, I had interests in a pottery on Lewis.  It made the widest range of pottery of any pottery in Scotland.  One day I'll do a proper post on the pottery and its history on Eagleton Notes.   One of it's unique ranges of pottery was a marbled ware called the Hebridean Range.  Last week Wendy was in an op shop (opportunity shop = charity shop/thrift store/goodwill) in Napier when she saw an egg separator made by the pottery in that range.

From the backstamp underneath I can tell that it was made pre-1997 when Fear an eich (a partnership between between my wife and I) was sold to a new company (of which I was the major shareholder).  It would be fascinating to know how it came to New Zealand.

Friday, 27 January 2012

The Swimming Pool: Almost Finished

Yesterday was a beautiful day so after the concrete being delayed because it was too hot (32℃) one day, too windy another day, too wet on a third day and, wait for it, the wrong coloured concrete on yet another day, the concrete was finally poured yesterday.  In a week it will have the surface treated and that will be that so far as the concrete is concerned.  The pool has had the solar heating completed this morning too.  So all that remains is the railings surround.  It's a shame that this morning the temperature is 12℃ and it's horrible and wet but I'm sure that tomorrow it's be back in the high 20s and the children will be back in the pool.  They go back to school on Monday so the weather should improve properly fo a while.  That would be really good 'cos I'm getting really fed up of 12℃ in Hawkes Bay in the middle of the summer.  It's probably warmer on Lewis today.

Who Needs Gadgets?

I recently be-moaned the loss of my food processor because of the failure of a crucial but tiny and cheap component.  So when I had to make a base for a cheesecake for a lunch to which I have been invited on Sunday I was rather flummoxed.  I use finely chopped digestive biscuits and ginger nuts in the base.  The old way would have been to crush them in a bag with a rolling pin but I don't have a rolling pin and Wendy has no idea where hers is after the re-organisation and new kitchen at The House.  I couldn't find a suitable hitting implement until I came upon my knife steel.  Wow.  I'll never bother using a food processor again!  Quick, effective and no washing up afterwards.  Perhaps I should review my use of gadgets in other areas too.

Agapanthus Alley

I was driving home the other day and as I came towards the end of the public road (the private drives start at the end of the Agapanthuses) I was struck by a scene I see and love all the time and decided to share it with you:

If I turn to my right and look slightly backwards I can see:

How beautiful is that?

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Thankful Thursday: Hunger

Hungry people in the world - 2010
Following on from my thoughts the other day about people not wanting to wake up because they may be facing another day of starvation I was wondering a few days ago what to have for my dinner.  There was nothing in my well-stocked larder and fridge that I particularly fancied at that moment.

I suddenly thought just how lucky I am.  How lucky anyone reading this blog is.  There are over 900 million hungry people in the world - Hunger Notes.

I don't have to ask whether I can eat today.  I don't have to ask what I can eat today.  I have the luxury of saying to myself 'What would I like to eat today?'

I should be thankful for the least of those options but that I have the choice I am truly thankful.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

A Magical Moment after Metamorphosis

I've been at the Croquet Club all day because we had a national coach here to give us some, well, as you might expect, coaching.  After it was all over I was standing by a Swan Plant which is the food plant of the caterpillar of the Monarch Butterfly.  As I stood looking at the swelling larvae on the plant I realised that there was a recently pupated butterfly at my feet warming itself in the sun to dry out its wings.  Despite the sun the wind today has been very cold and so I allowed the butterfly to crawl onto my hand with a view to moving it into a more sheltered sunny spot and, of course, with a view to photographing it.  The main problem I then had was that it adopted me and I could not get it to stop clinging on (which feels strangely odd, I have to say) so that I could put it down in its new sunning spot.

Monday, 23 January 2012

On Being a Monkey

Brother Scriptor Senex has posted today on the Chinese New Year,  the Year of the Dragon.  He posed the question as to what Chinese symbol were his readers born under.  I was born in the year of the Monkey.  Apparently people born in the Year of the Monkey can cope with almost any intricacy with a sober mind. Ambitious and knowledgeable as they are, they can succeed in whatever career they decide to embrace. They are bright, active, clever, good at competition, and act quickly according to the situation. They are highly sociable, good in comprehension, and easily merged with others, but dislike to be controlled by others and prefer fresh things.  Well I don't like being controlled that's true bu obviously someone got something wrong somewhere so far as everything else is concerned! 

Learning in Blogland

I am often told by acquaintances and even by friends that they do not have time to waste on Facebook and reading blogs and 'all that nonsense'.  I do what I hope passes for smiling sweetly and say nothing. 
Of course we all know that there is a lot of twaddle on Facebook, Twitter and blogs.  I have a straightforward remedy when people continually post on FB what I consider to be things that are not worth reading: I simply block their posts from my FB page.  I use Twitter to follow various news media such as the New Zealand Herald and the BBC and SeeYa (for cheap Air NZ flights) and so on.  I do have a few people I know as followers and follow them but I've never actually seen a comment or post by any of them and I don't Tweet (which is, I believe the term for posting on Twitter).

Blogs are, however, in a different league.  I've explained before why I started blogging.  I'm sure I have but I can't find a specific post - perhaps it's on Eagleton Notes, perhaps I've not written a specific post but done it in passing.  In short it was originally to keep friends and family acquainted with what I'm doing on the other side of the world (which ever they and I happen to be).  It's more than that now though.

Through my blogs I have met some lovely and interesting people both in real life and in this ethereal life of Blogland.  I have made acquaintances and I have made friends.  I have learned a lot and I have been to new places and I have widened my horizons.

I know that I am not alone in all that.

However this evening I read a post by SP on her blog, Secretly Skint, entitled Time Travel.  Somehow it has made a bigger impression on me than many posts recently because it has exposed me to something I had no idea existed in the way described.

Connecting Spaces

At The Cottage the living room has double ranch sliders onto the deck.  My bedroom (the room nearest to you in the picture below) has a ranch slider onto the deck too.  The deck is covered and provides shelter from rain and sun.  I regard it as an integral part of my living space and is provides a place to eat and sit and have coffee in the open air.  During the summer days I rarely have the sliders closed and I often use the deck to get from one room to the other as well.  For me the deck is far more important than just all that though.  Somehow it provides a mental extension of the house far greater than the sum of it's physical uses.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Good News

I was going to start off this post with 'Like most people I enjoy waking up in the morning'.  It occurred to me, however, that there must be a great many people in the world for whom waking up at any time just brings them into a world so anathema to them that waking is the last thing they want to do.  For many who are starving, ravaged by war, persecuted, ill to the point of no return or in terrible pain and doubtless for many other reasons too, waking must be terrible.   Mentioning starving suddenly made me realise, too, just how unbelievably self-indulgent was my post on not wanting to eat fruit because I'm a Lazy Eater.  People would, and doubtless do, kill to be able to eat what I throw away in a week.  So I'm feeling a bit ashamed of myself.

However when I woke this morning - which is where I was originally going with this post - I was greeted by two personal emails (as distinct from the dozens I look forward to relating to Blogland) both of which were bearers of two items of good news both related to sea-going people close to me.  Firstly  Gaz has become a Chief Engineer.  Secondly the daughter of Very Close Friends has been given the management of the on-board retail side of a new cruise liner that is yet to make its way into service.  How good is that?

All that and the fact that the promised rain has not yet appeared and the sun has come out again are making this a Very Good Day.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Sunset over Hawkes Bay

Looking out of The Cottage earlier this evening the sky was pink.  Given that the sun sets behind The Cottage and out of sight over the top of the slight hillside on which I live this seemed to me to indicate that there was likely to be a magnificent sunset behind me.  There was.  These are all straight out of the camera.

Lazy Eater

I was given some home grown oranges straight off the tree the other day.  I love oranges.  I also have a great liking for water melon.  Partly because of the firm but compliant, cold texture and partly because of their association in my mind with a wonderful few days in Toronto many years ago with a friend from my youth (who is still one of my closest friends despite our physical separation - she still lives in Canada).  We used to eat breakfast at Movenpick in the atrium (was it on the corner of Yonge and Wellington Streets in BCE Place?) and I always had watermelon, amongst other things of course.  It was, I think, the first time I'd tried it.

I love Conference pears with shaved Parmesan cheese.  Apples grow all around me in Hawkes Bay and The Cottage is surrounded by orchards.  The Cottage stands in the 5 acre grounds of The House and it has a small orchard with fejoas, lemons, apricots and heaven knows what else all there for the picking. In fact Hawkes Bay is the fruit bowl of New Zealand.

So why, apart from tomatoes which I eat in profusion and some bananas (one of the few regularly imported fruits which are always available in the supermarkets here) do I not eat lots of fruit?

Part of the answer lies in the fact that things like the oranges are such a faff.  The particular oranges I was given were juicy and delicious but had a thousand (ok, ok, I know, you've told me a million times not to exaggerate) pips.  The pleasure of eating one was, therefore, diminished.  I will however eat raspberries in the way that some people will eat sweets (lollies in New Zealand).   I can hear you all tut tutting and hoping that your children don't read this.  Another part of the answer lies in the fact that I prefer savoury to sweet foods.  The truth is, however, that I'm a lazy eater and fruit requires effort.  Shame on me.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Crumble Grumble

I was given some rhubarb earlier in the week and I'd already brought some home from Judy's.  I love rhubarb.  Ironically it's not that easy to find in the shops here because 'everyone grows their own'.  It apparently is impossible for it not to grow if you have a plant.  I was told that on Lewis as well but whatever I do I can not be doing it correctly because I just can't grow it on Lewis.  I've never tried here.  Anyway I decided that tonight when the family come for dinner the pud will be rhubarb (and ginger of course) crumble.  I had some crumble in the fridge but not enough so set out to make another batch.  

I've never had a lot of success with rubbing the mixture until it looks like breadcrumbs.  So, as suggested by some cookery article or book or other I used my food processor last time and it was a great success.  I had the ingredients in the bowl for about 500g of crumble.  I decided not to overload my small processor (which I had used perhaps 3 or 4 times before) and make it in 4 or 5 lots.  'Twas not to be.  The Sunbeam processor decided that the central shaft would cease to turn after the first 10 or 15 seconds.  That's the third processor I've seen conk out in my time at The Cottage (Wendy's given up too although her last one was a large expensive one).   I'm also on my 4th stick blender and my third kettle (the second one was an expensive 'silent boil' one which lasted 2 weeks over the warranty period).   On the processors and blenders it's usually the plastic bit into which the shaft goes which disintegrates.  So the whole item has to be thrown out.

I use my gadgets constantly when I'm in the UK and I think I may have replaced a stick blender once.  I have had a couple of kettles too over the last 18+ years I've lived in Eagleton. 

So I had to make the crumble by hand after all and I'm writing this out of frustration before I clean up the flour I managed to get all over the place when I took the food processor apart and tried to use the liquidiser (didn't work) and then used a large bowl.

Glad game: I have the satisfaction of a hand-made product which is all my own work.  But did I want that satisfaction?  NO!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

A State of Paranoia

"There does seem to be a serious risk that paranoid Americans are going to destroy the good things about the Internet by effectively stopping all sharing of information - since any part of any website might accidentally contain material which someone else regards as copyright and the legislation punishes the website and web-user on the basis of accusation alone - if I understand the proposals correctly, they are particularly aimed at websites outside of the US."

This is a statement made on Facebook by a friend who used to be a newspaper Editor and is likely to be fairly knowledgeable on this subject. He may well claim copyright to that statement. I may well have a defence (in English (sic) law) to using it on the grounds of fair comment. However it would appear that the US Senate and Congress on 24 January intend to pass legislation which would make unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content a crime, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison for ten such infringements within six months.
A full explanation can bee seen at Wikipedia.
I am aware, of course, that I am unlikely ever to be challenged and if I were to be I could remove the material and Blogger's host would be unlikely to suffer. However just because something so unimportant is unlikely ever to be challenged doesn't mean that it should be outlawed with such draconian measures. Because if you do outlaw something, at some stage in the future that law can be used at will.
It is said that the Hollowood industry is one of the biggest lobbies for this legislation. I have also seen it said that the US Government wants a legitimate way of preventing Wikileaks (which is nothing to do with Wikipedia) to save them hacking into or trying to hack into servers in other countries. Whatever the purpose the remedy is a step too far.
This is an update from the Campaign against the US Senate proposals
Today was nuts, right?

Google launched a petition. Wikipedia voted to shut itself off. Senators' websites went down just from the sheer surge of voters trying to write them. NYC and SF geeks had protests that packed city blocks.

You made history today: nothing like this has ever happened before. Tech companies and users teamed up. Tens of millions of people who make the internet what it is joined together to defend their freedoms. The free network defended itself. Whatever you call it, the bottom line is clear: from today forward, it will be much harder to mess up the internet.

The really crazy part? We might even win.

Approaching Monday's crucial Senate vote there are now 35 Senators publicly opposing PIPA. Last week there were 5. And it just takes just 41 solid "no" votes to permanently stall PIPA (and SOPA) in the Senate. What seemed like miles away a few weeks ago is now within reach.

But don't trust predictions. The forces behind SOPA & PIPA (mostly movie companies) can make small changes to these bills until they know they have the votes to pass. Members of Congress know SOPA & PIPA are unpopular, but they don't understand why--so they're easily duped by superficial changes. The Senate returns next week, and the next few days are critical.

Thankful Thursday: Home

The subject of 'home' has raised its head a number of times recently but it was SP's post Home Sweet Home which made me think about it more earnestly than usual.  Where is 'home'?  For me home is where I am comfortable with myself in my surroundings.  That's easy for me to say because I've only lived in six places in my life and three of those were fairly transitory in the early '70s when I married and before we moved to the Outer Hebrides.  Except that it's actually seven because now I live in two places: Scotland and New Zealand or, more specifically, Lewis and Napier.  

People often ask me which place I'd rather make my permanent home.  The answer is that as I don't have to make a choice I don't think about it and as I don't have residency in New Zealand the longest I can stay is 9 months at a time anyway.  However I choose to stay 6 months here and 6 months in Scotland (and France and....).  I used to say that if someone pulled up the drawbridge I could live happily in either place but most of my closest friends (excepting my NZ 'family') are in the UK (and those in Canada and elsewhere are in neither home country anyway).

Choosing Lewis is not as simple as that of course: old friends have retired away from Lewis; I have made new friends who don't live on Lewis; very important friends still live on Lewis; and my son Gaz is building a house on Lewis.  The list of considerations is endless.  And there will come a time when I can't gallivant and stay where I wish and see whom I wish and Lewis is a long way from anywhere else.

Some people talk of going back to their roots but I do not know a single person who lives in the city of my birth.

I love Lewis.  I love New Zealand.  I love Glasgow (Well that's pushing it.  I could never live in a city but I enjoy it when I'm there.).  I love France.  I love Canada.  I am happy in the skin that I'm in and I love being wherever I have the privilege to be.  I'm lucky because for the moment I can choose.

For that I am thankful....very thankful indeed.

A Seeing To By Adrian

Adrian commented that he liked the first picture on my last post.  It was, I think, posted straight from the camera.  I've just received an email from Adrian with a version to which he has given a seeing to.  I like it.  As I've said a million times before I must, I must spend some time learning Photoshop.

I'm sorry Jill.  The turbines are still there.  Ironically if I got rid of them I think the photo would be less interesting.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The Journey From Palmerston North

Just a few shots from the car window (I wasn't driving) on the way home to Napier from Palmerston North last Friday.

The State Highway south of Ashurst towards the Manawatu Gorge (which is closed at the moment due to a huge landslip)
The view from The Saddle Road over the Ranges
A rain cloud on the Ruahinies from SH2 just north of Norsewood
This shop building in Woodville is hardly an architectural gem but the cheesecakes are renowned throughout the area

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Shoes and Legs

I have to confess that I find shoes fascinating because they can often tell one so much about the wearer.  However whilst I was wearing stout walking shoes at the Farmers' Market some were wearing less substantial and more decorative footwear:

I understand that men are either legs men or boobs men.  I happen to be of the legs persuasion.  However my interest is restricted to female legs.  It did not, however, stop me from finding this pair of legs bloggable (if not, from my point of view anyway, attractive):

Welcome Swallows

A pair of Welcome Swallows were nesting in Judy's outside living room extension.  They were very reluctant to be photographed but over six days I managed to get two photos, one of which was useable.  I am always fascinated by nests.  I think that the skill required to build a nest like this using only a beak (and a tiny one at that) is remarkable.

Monday, 16 January 2012

I Did What?

When we arrived at Judy's a week ago last Friday it was early evening.  We had dinner and a catch-up by which time it was about 9.45 pm.  The girls decided this was time for bed with our early start the next morning.  However as it was about three hours before my bedtime I was reluctant to go but I decided to take my Kindle to bed and have a read because I had no internet access.   I was in bed just before 10.  Half an hour later and not having read a word I woke up just as I hit the floor having fallen from my sitting-in-bed position.  My first thought - after surprise at finding my head just about to hit the floor - was to play the Glad Game.  If it had been my laptop on my knee instead of the Kindle it might have been a disaster.  

The next morning I told the girls to give them a laugh.  To quote one of my favourite film lines "Big mistake!".  I spent a couple of days being asked by people on the lawns if I'd fallen out of bed recently!  Some people are so indiscreet.  That's just not the sort of thing I want anyone to know.

It's Not All Oldies

At least two of the events in which I played at last week's tournament at Palmerston North were won by youngsters:

And not everyone is conventional in their dress:

Getting right down to it:

At one point in this particular final 7mm of rain fell in 10 minutes in a rain-bomb and the players fled for cover:

An attempt to hit one ball onto another the length of the lawn is fairly common, the success rate less so:

Hitting the blue ball to make contact with the red or yellow
without, on this occasion, success.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Sidetracked by The Farmers' Market

Of course today hasn't gone to plan.  In fact a very short while after I'd posted my last post Wendy called to see if I was going to the Farmers' Market.  How could I resist on such a perfect morning .  It's not that I needed anything but great coffee and a beautiful beef fat-free (really?) sausage in cibata bread for breakfast was too good to pass over.  It only took a couple of hours.  I'm not sure where the rest of the day went (apart from the bit where I did the ironing and watched Julie and Julia).

Now I'm not really sure what farmers' markets are like in other countries.  In fact I'm not even sure if they have them.  In the European countries I've visited recently the  town and village markets tend to be more all-embracing than just farmers' produce.  I've always had this notion that farmers' markets should give better value and fresher produce than shops but my experience here doesn't tend to support that view.  Certainly there is a lot of produce available and some of it is very high quality but a lot of the vegetables are less so and some of the prices are more than in the supermarkets.  Perhaps it's a notion that the sort of people who go to farmers' markets are prepared to pay a premium.  Anyway they do have some excellent venison and beef and some wonderful sausages.

I've no idea what one does with a tamarillo and I'd never seen purple capiscums before
A very 'organic' looking stall
Simple packaging is so appealing

Thankful Thursday - A Bit Late

Another very simple Thank You.  This time to all the friends who have wondered where I was over the last week. 

All of us who live alone and are, how shall I say it, passed our first flush of optimistic youth where nothing can ever go wrong,  occasionally think about what would happen if we had an accident in the home.  

When Mum was alive she phoned her Brother every night.  He was a widower and lived alone in Anglesey in Wales.  After Mum died I used to telephone Uncle Eric every night.  I lived on Lewis over 500 miles away.  One night there was no reply.  I knew that he wouldn't have been out so I rang back several times over the next hour and then rang one of his neighbours and they went to see whether he was ok.  He'd had a stroke on the way to the phone and was on the floor a few feet away from the phone but unable to reach it.  If he had had the stroke just after he had put the phone down he'd have lain there for another 24 hours.

So today I'm thankful for all the friends - mine and other people's - who look out for their friends and neighbours.  Amongst all the selfishness there is in the world there are still lots of caring people out there.

0555 hrs: Sunday Starts Here

For the last eight days I've had to get up around 0600 hrs.  I was away in Palmerston North for seven nights whilst I played at an Association Croquet Tournament.  We - I'd gone with a friend from the Club - arrived home on Friday and then I had the family for dinner.  I spent yesterday on the lawns too as the Club competitions start in earnest.  Last night I decided that I was going to watch a film and get rid of the ironing from the last week's clothes.  Of course visitors arrived at The House and we spent the evening catching up on the deck under the stars.  So I decided that this morning I would have a lie in.  Of course I was wide awake and ready for the up at 0555.  So an hour and several teas later I've caught up with Facebook and the UK and NZ news via the BBC and New Zealand Herald websites.  Twitter is very useful for keeping abreast of the news if for nothing else.

So today I am taking the day off from the world around me.  Despite requests to play a match; the wonderful weather; and the temptation of a lovely afternoon on the lawns, I shall remain at The Cottage and shall catch up with Blogland and those across the world whom I am lucky enough to call friends.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Back in Touch

Because of the terrible weather today I managed to get into the Telecom Shop at 10am.  It took the very helpful assistant there about 20 minutes completely sort the new SIM cards for both my T-stick and my cellphone.  It cost me nothing.

As a bonus the allowance of 2Gb of data is still on my T-stick.  So guess what.  I'm back on line.

Life's good.

What a Difference a Day Makes

My partner for this weekend's Association Croquet Tournament is Judy who plays in Palmerston North and with whom Colleen (one of the 'croquet girls' from Napier) and  I are staying.   Yesterday we had an enjoyable day in the warm sun.  We managed to come second in our group.  

This morning we woke to gales and torrential rain.

I think that many people think of croquet as a sport for genteel old ladies.  There is a certain amount of justification for this.  In New Zealand, for example, I am aware of some clubs which were started up by bowling clubs for the wives of their members because they did not allow females to play or become members.  It is true that a large number of retired people play croquet - often people for whom golf has become rather onerous.   However there is also a significant number of young people playing as well.

Tournament Croquet requires a certain amount of fitness - tomorrow, for example, I am scheduled to be on the lawns playing for a minimum of 8 hours (plus stops for lunch and comfort stops).  During that time I will concentrate the whole of the time, probably walk around 10 kilometres and hit a ball (hopefully with accuracy over more than 20 metres) a lot of times.

The other thing about croquet is that it is usually played in all weathers provided that the lawns are not actually under water.  Today, however, started with torrential rain and gales over a great deal of the North Island and the decision was taken to postpone today's play until noon when a rain check would be taken.  

We haven't played today!

The Saga's Continues

The saga continues.  The very helpful person at Telecom to whom I was talking just after 9pm on Friday said that the problem with my T-stick could be solved remotely by the Advanced Technical Team.  Unfortunately the ATT go home at 9pm.  I should explain that a T-stick is the thingy that you put into the laptop USB to connect to the internet via the cellphone network.   

Last night (Saturday) after hanging on for the inevitable 2 cut-offs which accounted for more than 20 minutes, I got through to someone at Telecom who reviewed my case and put me through to the ATT (another 20 minutes) the ATT member to whom I spoke explained that I had to go to a Telecom store and get new SIM cards.  After I had done this the I could have my new SIM cards activated by phone and the $50 I had loaded the card with would be activated.  Unfortunately this would be after I got home when I would no longer need the T-stick capability because I’d have my home broadband available.  Please could I have my $50 back.  No.  But I won’t want it after I get back home.  Tough.  Hmmmm.  So after a couple of hours on the telephone I was back where I started.

I’m writing all this without the benefit of being on line and it’s amazing me how much I have come to rely on internet access for both the obvious communications with family and friends and for so many more things too.  In the UK I have access to the internet on my smartphone but I don’t have an NZ smartphone.  Last night the number of times things cropped up which I would just have Googled amazed me.  The friends with whom I am staying during the tournament in Palmerston North have been joking that they don't have enough Prozac to keep me calm! 

Friday, 6 January 2012


A minor disaster has struck.  I topped up my NZ Telecom T-stick this evening but it's not working.  Apparently Telecom have never upgraded either of my sim cards (my Telecom phone and my T-stick) so I can't use them for 3G.  Odd seeing as the T-stick worked fine for 3 years until I cancelled it's contract a week ago.  Anyway the outcome at the moment is that I may have no internet access until I get back home.  I'm using a borrowed T-stick at the moment to write this.

Views from a Balcony

I called in to see a friend on Wednesday afternoon after playing croquet.  That in itself was a reminder to me that I really must think more.  Diane had asked if I'd play a match in one of the Club's competitions.  I was happy to.  Did Diane want a levels match or a handicap match.  Diane chose the levels play.  I beat her 26 to 7.   Happy that I'd played well in preparation for the tournament tomorrow we arrived back into the Clubhouse to the realisation that we had no competition levels match to play.  Not only that but had we played handicap and had I won we'd have had to replay it because I thought my AC handicap was 8.  It is in fact 7.  I really am a very silly billy.

Anyway as we sat with our cuppas on June's balcony we watched the world go by: