Friday, 11 May 2012

Thankful Thursday

I cannot believe that it's now 9 sleeps (and within an hour I'll be starting my tenth) since I arrived back in Scotland.  I had a few days near Glasgow before I came up to Lewis last Sunday and since I got back it's been absolutely non-stop from dawn (sunrise is just after 5am!) until bedtime.  I thought that I was going to have a quiet catch-up week but heck no.  I think, too, that I've spent far more time explaining why I've not done any posts than I would have spent had I actually done some.  So I shall try to do better from here on in.  However I shall be over on Eagleton Notes for the next 6 months or so with the occasional post here as and when something takes my fancy.  I hope that you will join me there.

I'm hoping that I will have lots of posts with interesting photos over the period because I've got lots of places to go and things to do over the summer.

In the meantime the views at around 5am on Monday morning - the first spent back on the Island -  were all that a soul could desire:

So today I am thankful to be back safe and sound in my 'other' home after my little travel scare and thankful for my dear friends who have looked after my home here whilst I have been away.  What would I do without you Pat and Dave?

Monday, 7 May 2012

Johnathon Livingston Perhaps?

"You will begin to touch heaven, Jonathan, in the moment that you touch perfect speed. And that isn't flying a thousand miles an hour, or a million, or flying at the speed of light. Because any number is a limit, and perfection doesn't have limits. Perfect speed, my son, is being there."  Richard Bach, Johnathon Livingston Seagull

Sunday, 6 May 2012


I found this lone Variable Oystercatcher (Maori, Torea or Toreapango l. Haematopus unicolor) in it's black phase on the beach at Mahunga foraging for food.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Blue Damselfly

I caught this beautiful Blue Damselfly (Maori Kekewai l. Austrolestes colensonis) on, I think, a Fejoa tree in Mahunga:

Friday, 4 May 2012

Thankful Thursday: An Eventful Journey

Eventful day or what?  9.30 Wednesday morning UK time (and over an hour from landing at Heathrow)  we had finished breakfast - fresh fruit and yoghurt was my choice (as airline catering goes in my experience Air New Zealand does it well).  Shortly afterwards I felt decidedly odd.  In fact I felt nauseous and decidedly ill.  I decided to retire to the rear of the cabin out of public gaze and near to the cabin crew and toilets and more space and air.  Apparently I looked even worse than I felt and the cabin crew were exceedingly concerned.  By this time I was too unwell to care.  Tash (presumably Natasha) was assigned to take care of me and I was given oxygen.  A potential heart incident was suspected.

When we landed I realised the full extent of their concern when everyone was told to stay seated and a team of para-medics, firemen and police arrived and came up to the rear of the plane.

By this time I was relatively compos mantis and wondered why firemen and police.  Firemen to lift me out above everyone’s heads had it been needed because getting the ambulift in place takes time.  Police because I was travelling alone and next of kin needed to be notified in the event I wasn’t fit to give consent to any procedures and, presumably, in case I was travelling on a non-UK passport or perhaps even a forged one and knew that I'd be bypassing Border Control.  The paramedics were brilliant and within minutes I was hooked up to all the monitoring devices.

I must have been really popular with everyone who thought they were delayed.  In fact the plane had been given priority landing and taxing onto it’s stand so everyone was, in fact, earlier.

Let me say at this stage that how I felt had absolutely nothing to do with food or food poisoning!

I spent the next 4 hours at London's Hillingdon Hospital A & E.  Contrary to what one hears so often about the National Health Service my observations of that particular A & E is that it was run exceptionally well indeed with constant prioritising and re-prioritising taking place.  In my case whilst nothing initially appeared to be happening in any organised way it soon became obvious to me that all the tests were being carried out in a very organised and logically scheduled and efficient manner.  By the end of the 4 hours before I was discharged I had had numerous tests and even the results of the blood tests were available when the doctor paid his final visit.  I won't go into the details of what had happened and caused me to feel so ill but the Doc assured me that there was no medical evidence of any underlying problem (ie that my heart was fine).  What it came down to was that the medical issue was caused by exhaustion and lack of sleep.  That'll teach me!

So today I am exceptionally thankful for:
  • The cabin staff's diagnosis, treatment and attention which undoubtedly prevented a potentially far worse outcome;
  • All that Tash did for me when I was unable to think properly and couldn't have cared less what had happened;
  • The kindness and efficiency of the para-medics, the police officers, the air-crew and the Air New Zealand station manager at LHR;
  • The ambulance crew who looked after me and ensured that all the non-medical things like instructions from the ANZ station manager on what to do when I was discharged and my cabin luggage and things were kept with me;
  • The staff at Hillingdon Hospital's A & E (the biggest I've ever seen) who impressed me greatly.
  • The fact that I'm alive and well.
  • And finally the fact that I didn't have to think about what to write for a Thankful Thursday post this week!
For all of the above this was just one tiny incident in their professional lives.  By now it will have been forgotten.  For me it was slightly more than that.  What has made me feel very humble is that not one of those people with whom I came into contact made me feel anything other than I was their most important concern at that moment.  I will always remember that.

Congratulations LAX

I have always preferred travelling to and from New Zealand through Hong Kong's friendly and superb airport with it's showers and excellent facilities for transit passengers.  However it is often not possible for many reasons and this time despite travelling out via HK and being booked to travel back the same way, the flight had to be changed via Los Angeles. because of connection time problems onwards to Glasgow.

After my seven years' experience of travelling through the dreaded transit lounge at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) the Airport's management  has managed to remove one of the things that has always had it on any New Zealand traveller's (and presumably any other transit passenger's) list of the worst airports imaginable:  the queue through Border Control into the lounge.  The procedure has always been to get off your 12 hour flight from Auckland or your 10 hour flight from London and then stand in a queue in a corridor whilst one, or more recently two, Homeland Security staff fingerprinted you and took iris photos etc and processed you into the lounge.  (As an aside, several years ago they were obviously told to be less unfriendly and downright objectionable on occasion and now seem to be chosen for an ability to appear welcoming).  This often meant that the two hours was spent in the queue and that the plane was boarding whilst you were still waiting to get into the lounge.  It also meant no toilet facilities until you were processed.

This time it was straight into the lounge after being given a number and then you were processed in small batches which meant that you had the facilities and the relative comfort of the lounge from the start.

Well done LAX!  I hope I don't sound ungrateful by asking why it took you so long.

Back in Blogland

Hi.  I'm back in Blogland.  The posts since I left NZ have been scheduled and there are still a few more to come.  I'm still in Glasgow but I'm hoping that I may get a few real live posts done and comments and blogfriends' blogs read over the next few days before I get back to Lewis on Sunday.  Time will tell.


I've managed to photograph Kingfishers many times around The Cottage but the pictures have almost always either been take from a long distance or in very poor light or thorough a window.  I was fortunate when we were at Mahia to get within 20 to 30 metres of a Kingfisher in bright sunlight with the following results:

Thursday, 3 May 2012

What is it?

On the beach at Mahunga

It's a pallet! How close do you have to look?  Can it really be that interesting?

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Daddy Longlegs


I posted in February on the landslip which has closed the Manawatu Gorge.  The Napier to Wairoa and Gisborne road has also been closed albeit by a series of very much smaller slips.  This one near Lake Tutira has been cleared from the road but is still posing a threat. 

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Travelling Again

It's just after midday here in New Zealand.  It will be another 6 months or so before I can say that again.  I'm sure that those 6 months will fly past unfortunately.  I wish that time would slow down.  There is so much already if not exactly planned then at least ready to be slotted into a plan for my time in Scotland.

This blog will continue whilst I am travelling.  At least there are posts scheduled and I shall read and respond to comments when I arrive at my first destination which is Glasgow.  I shall be staying there for a few days and catching up with friends.  Tosca with Scottish Opera is booked for Friday evening.

Lewis on Sunday.

I look forward to catching up with all my Blogland friends in a few days.

Fantail, Piwakawaka

Perhaps my favourite bird in New Zealand is the Fantail (Maori, Piwakawaka l. Rhipidura fuliginosa)  I have done at least six posts mentioning this beautiful and cheeky bird.  They seem to have no particular fear of humans and frequently come very close when I'm on the deck or walking up to The House.  They are attracted by the insects which come close and which I often cannot see.  This summer however one particular bird has taken to coming into the house (I'm making an assumption that it's just one) and flying round to see what he/she can find for a snack.  He comes in through the open ranch sliders and then explores the rooms in the house and never tries to exit via a closed window or door.  He ignores me and comes within a metre or soquite happily.  Unfortunately Fantails rarely sit still for more than a few seconds making photographing them exceptionally hard.  I have been trying ever since I came to New Zealand in 2005 to get the perfect Fantail picture.  These are probably as good as I'm going to get:

Having a look in my hat
On my hat
A very rare photo of one in flight