Wednesday, 27 November 2013

It's Wednesday

Nothing unusual in that.  In fact it's usually Wednesday once week. I've sort have got used to that even though they come much faster than they used to.  

I was expecting to be playing in a tournament today. In fact I will not be playing until Friday. I have, however, spent the last two days and a couple of hours first thing this morning setting out lawns.  I will be doing the same tomorrow morning at crack of dawn.  Assuming, that is, that of the dawn actually does crack.  After five days of fabulous weather at the tournament last week in Dannevirke yesterday evening the heavens opened and they have been open ever since. I am really surprised that our lawns are playable. However I am at The Cottage up in the hills and the lawns are down near the sea where it's often drier even though it's not far away as the metaphorical crow flies. After the warmest November on record so far in New Zealand the temperature has now dropped here at The Cottage to 15°C.  The end of the nice weather was celebrated by a very spectacular thunder and lightning storm last evening.

I was out of Blogland for most of the time during the last week so I thought today I would catch up while I have the opportunity. I have done very little reading and might not get much opportunity because I have a visitor staying for the week playing in the tournament from today until Sunday evening. 

We had five glorious days in Dannevirke.  The Rangatira Croquet Club is a very hospitable place with 6 good lawns.  I managed a third in the Golf Croquet Level Singles.

One of the members has a Triumph 2500 TC vintage 1973.  It's still used as an everyday car and that day was being roped in to pull the trailer of grass cuttings.

On Saturday evening we ate at the RSA and Citizens Club (RSA = Returned Services Association = UK equivalent of the British Legion) and a few of us played snooker.  Judy and I played and one of us won on a black ball game.  It says something (though I'm not sure what) that I can't actually recall which of us it was!  It was a high scoring game though.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

The Riotous Oldies

It’s 1030 pm.  This, you understand is New Zealand 10.30 pm.  All self respecting 60+s are in bed and asleep.  I’m in a motel unit with three croquet ladies.  The next but one unit is occupied by another 4 croquet ladies.  This is the Veterans Tournament so all are over 60 and anyone in their 60s is probably on the young side.  But these are fit people able to play for 8 and 9 hours a day on their feet concentrating and walking many many kilometres during the day.

And in the evening they ‘relax’.  A small libation may be taken…..many times. A large libation or two as well perhaps.

So picture the scene.  A group of six or so an hour after everyone’s usual bedtime sitting in a unit making enough noise to keep the rest of the smart motel awake.  Croquet person turns up from another motel.  It’s his first ever croquet tournament tomorrow.  He’s forgotten his handicap card (golfers will understand). He’s come to see what he should do.  As if anyone can sort the problem at this hour of the evening.  But... he’s taken a sleeping tablet and is half asleep already.  It’s decided that he should be taken back to his motel.  He’s a teetotal, good-living retired methodist minister and he’s being shepherded down the hight street by an extremely ‘happy’ gang of veteran ladies (some in their night attire). 

Who says the over-sixties are dull.

Oh and by the way I retained my Veteran's  Association Croquet Handicap Singles title.  So I'm happy too.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Sleep, The Great Healer

I was fortunate enough to spend most of my life needing around 5 hours sleep a night.  It meant that I could go to bed late and get up early and maximise my day.  If one takes the years from, say 16 to 56 ie 40 years and adds up all those extra hours - say 3 per night over the average 8 hours/night sleep most people seem to require - I have possibly gained somewhere in the region of 5 years extra waking time.  That's quite a thought.

Of course there is a school of thought that says having less sleep shortens your life.  If that is true then, as Billy Connolly has pointed out,  it will be knocked off the end where I'm least likely to be able to use it to the full.  Did I use those 5 years to the full?  We will never know.

This last week when I was less than on top of the world with a bout (thanks Carol in Cairns) of bronchitis I slept and I slept.  I cannot recall when I last had so much sleep.  Even last night now that the bout is, hopefully, coming to an end I slept for 9 hours.

So tonight now that we are in Dannevirke for the Veterans Croquet Tournament I am anticipating a really good night's sleep too.  It's 9.30pm and two of the girls (a rather loose term) who are proper Kiwis have gone off to bed.  Self-respecting Kiwis go to bed early and get up early.  That's why coffee bars are open at 0630 and close at 1530 (as a generalisation) and why you never ring a Kiwi after 9pm. 

Monday, 18 November 2013


Why, I wondered, was this thrush not just taking the food to the nest? My next wonder was 'where is the nest?' I could see why the bird was trying to sound an alarm call which is difficult with your beak full but her pose said a lot. Comet (The Cat) was on the deck with me. The nest, I discovered later, was in the olive tree which has now grown considerably near the front of The Cottage. 

I'm Back, Sort Of

Sorry but I've been away.  Sort of.  I managed to get a dose of bronchitis.   Does it come in doses or is there another word for it?  Anyway I spent a few days completely comatose between bed and couch.  I'm now trying to get back to normal (with me that's a relative term anyway) so that I can go off to my first tournament tomorrow.  I have a title to defend.

I hadn't had bronchitis since my young teenage years so this bout came as an unpleasant surprise.  The doc's approach was refreshing though.  He gave me a thorough going over and then gave me a prescription for antibiotics but with the proviso that the bronchitis was to run for 7 days first and then if and when the fever broke I would either definitely need them or I would be able to do without them.

On the sixth or seventh night the fever broke whilst I slept.  It was just like the 'good old days'.  The next morning I felt human enough to be able to change the bedding.  I didn't need the antibiotics.  Good call doc.  One thing I have had over the last week or so, though, is a lot of sleep.  And a lot of lethargy.  Hence the lack of blogging and the reason for this apology post now.

Tomorrow I'm off to The Veterans.  A tournament for the over-sixties (I just crept in - well nearly a decade ago actually but it's been a very fast decade) which is held in Dannevirke.  The tournament ends on Sunday and the next one starts on the following Wednesday.  It's all go.  

Hopefully I'll get some posts done during the next few weeks.  If I don't at least you'll know why.

Bye for now.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

A Tale of Two Homes

In my 8 November post Frances posed the question "What do you miss about one home when you're living in the other? Or do you just adapt immediately?" and Julia suggest a post on the subject.  So here we are.

The short answer to the second question is "Yes, I do adapt pretty much immediately" or at least I have this time.  The sort of things that catch me out wherever I am are the small things like trying to remember where that particular tool or kitchen implement is only to remember that it's in the 'other' home.  Adapting from one car (a large, fast, comfortable tourer) to another (a small, nippy, rather cramped fun car) is instant but I've always been used to driving several vehicles.

The way the question was worded would suggest that in order to adapt immediately one should not be missing things.  I do, however, find some big differences and also miss some things very much indeed.

Hawkes Bay is undeniably very much warmer and overall has far better weather than the Isle of Lewis especially as I am here in NZ's summer whilst Lewis languishes in the wind and rain which characterises its winter.  However, and it is a very big however, when I return to NZ I always feel very much colder than when I left Scotland.  Why is that?  It's because when I am outside here or in Scotland I dress according to the weather and temperature.  When I am inside my Lewis house the temperature in the living areas during the day rarely falls below 22℃ because I have central heating and like that temperature: I am my Mother's son and feel the cold terribly (CJ on the other hand is his Father's son and feel the heat terribly).   When, however, I get to NZ the temperature inside The Cottage is more closely allied to the general temperature which, since I returned, has been around 16℃ much of the time during the morning and evening.  In NZ people are more in tune with nature than in the UK and if it gets chilly they put more clothes on.  Simple.  It's also much healthier.

Another thing about NZ is that, as a general rule, fresh food is eaten in season and, usually, produced in NZ.  In the UK few people think about seasonal food.  The supermarkets have everything in all year round sourced from any country in the world that produces what is needed.  The NZ way means that when a food comes into season it is appreciated more.

Of course I miss friends and family when I am away from the country they are in but modern communication makes contact on an almost daily basis a possibility and I know that it'll never be that long before I see them again. 

On the whole, though, I live two very different lives in the two homes.  Here I play croquet, go away to tournaments and socialise a more than I do in the UK.  In Scotland I spend a great deal of time in my garden although I also spend a lot of time away visiting friends and family.

The big problem for me will be when I have to give up my New Zealand life which, eventually, will be inevitable.  I love my two lives.  I can not imagine what it will be like returning to one alone.

Oh, I nearly forgot.  The one thing I do miss in both countries is early spring and daffodils.  I do love daffodils.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Was I Away Somewhere?

I've been back in my Napier home for 96 hours as I start this post.  During those hours I've slotted back into my New Zealand life as if I'd never been away.  There was a time when I walked back into the Croquet Club, for example, and people welcomed me back as though I'd been away for half a lifetime.  Having been back to play my first game this afternoon there were some "welcome back, stranger" comments but it was almost as if I'd not been away during the previous 6 months.  It was the same when I had my hair cut.  Then there is the television: the same programmes; the same adverts.  

What is different is the centre of Napier.  Many buildings have been torn down and are being re-built.  The new Farmers has opened and the old shop has, fortunately, been taken over by another company and is not lying vacant.  A lot of shops have closed and a few new ones opened.  Like everywhere though the signs of the recession in the retail trade seem to be showing.  How so much change can take place in 6 months is amazing.

Friday afternoon was special.  I collected Catriona from Woodford House where she is a weekly boarder.  She had no idea that I had returned or that I was collecting her.  Her welcome was to drop all her books (carefully!) and rush up to give me a huge hug.  We then stopped off at The Strawberry Patch for an ice cream which we ate sitting in the sun.  I took her back to school early this evening (Sunday).

It's 124 hours as I end this post and time for bed (said Zebedee).  Ermintrude would have been very happy with the last few days.

Cloud mass in the deep low over the North Island that greeted my return
First priority: make cornflake crunch
A rally of several hundred motorcyclists this morning at Ahuriri where I was having coffee with a friend
I'm not sure what it was in aid of but most of the riders had teddy bears with them
The Ahuriri boardwalk forms part of many kilometres of foot/cycle path around Napier
Lots and lots of these wild flowers made a wonderful contrast with the azure waters of the Bay
Kiwis doing what Kiwis do
Modern mixes with traditional on Bluff Hill.
All overlooking a friend's house (in the foreground) down on the waterfront
And in front of The Cottage the wonderful scent of Honeysuckle
in full bloom

Friday, 8 November 2013

I've Inherited a Cat (and Thankful Thursday)

This was supposed to by my Thursday post.

I didn't sleep very well last night but as I still feel rested and good this morning I can't complain.  Today it wasn't the dawn chorus that was the 5 o'clock noise though:  it was Comet.  Yesterday it became clear that she has been keeping Andrea company at The Cottage during the day (as sometimes, apparently, had Misty).  Comet was clearly miffed at having her new friend replaced by this old and decidedly less cat-doting Cottage occupant.

If you're not going to let me in I'm going to sulk (sorry about the reflections!).

 I'm just checking you are still here.

So much for 'no animals on the furniture'.

Comet crept into the spare bedroom and managed to stay unnoticed whilst I went out to town.

It looks as though I'm getting softer in my old age. So the thankfulness today comes from Comet and Misty.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

It's as if......

...I'd never been away.  After virtually no sleep during the journey I expected to have an early night and a long lie in this morning.  That's not how things worked out.  Having got home last night I immediately had a shower and then went up to Wendy and Martin's for dinner at 7 o'clock.   I came back to The Cottage after 11pm and a full night of conversation which included catching up and discussing life, the universe and everything as well.  

At midnight I fell into bed and was asleep before my head hit the pillow only to wake up about 5 hours later.  It was almost light.  My bedroom window was open and  the dawn chorus was flooding in with the sound of the rain on the roof of the deck (veranda).  It is not something I hear on Lewis. 

Since my first visit to NZ in 2005 I've flown with Air New Zealand: until the last visit when I flew with Emirates.  I flew Emirates again this time.  I felt disloyal leaving Air NZ but Emirates were less than half the price, the flight time was shorter and more convenient and I didn't have to go through Los Angeles with all the homeland security, retina and fingerprinting and so on that that involves.  Add to that seats with enough legroom in cattle class for someone on an inside seat to step past me without me getting out of my seat and the choice is a no-brainer.  Dubai Airport is very user-friendly and whilst there is the usual security for prohibited items in hand luggage etc there is no privacy invasion.  There is also free wifi everywhere.

Today I've been getting my stuff out of The Cupboard and getting things into the places they belong.  I'll have a bit more to say in the morning after a good night's sleep.  TTFN.