Monday, 28 April 2014

The Last Time

'The time has come,' this blogger said,
      'To think of journeyings:
Of shoes — and clothes — and luggage-bags —
      Of cameras — and things —
And how the sea is to be crossed —
      And whether planes have wings.' 
(With many apologies to Lewis Carroll)

Like the Royal Standard this coaster, a gift from Friend Who Knows Too Much when I first came to The Cottage, comes out as soon as I arrive and is put away when I leave.  Today I put it away in my luggage and not in The Cupboard.

Tomorrow I set sail (metaphorically) for Scotland and my 'other' home and my 'other' life.  The sad news is that I shall be leaving The Family and The Cottage and my New Zealand life for the last time as a place that I call home.  My Godwit days are over.

Unfortunately the blood counts of the cells that are my cancer indicator have trebled in each of the last three three-monthly blood tests.  A doubling in six months is apparently regarded as a Bad Thing.  The oncologist will want to keep an eye on me so that he can decide which is the optimum time to re-start the treatment.  It can't cure but can delay but is only efficacious for a limited period so timing is all important. 

I shall miss:

The Family: Wendy and Martin and Jamie, David, Fraser and Catriona.  They will always be my Family now but, like so many blood families, we will be apart and next time I come it will be for a visit and not to live.  I have been fortunate to see Catriona (who was 4 when I made the promise to her to return for her 5th birthday) grow into a young lady and attend all her school prize-givings.


My New Zealand friends who have grown in number over the years.  Many have been as a result of croquet my love of which came from a chance bout of curiosity when I poked my nose over a hedge at the Marewa Croquet Club and Jayne called me in, put a mallet in my hand, told me to hit a ball and hours later was praying that I would go home.  Many of those friendships will endure the separation and some will just fade into the graveyard of time.  This is Colleen and Jayne (whose face is hidden by her brolly) playing a serious game of croquet in the rain.


 The Cottage.  It has been a haven and a heaven.


Constant summers.  I haven't seen a winter since 2005/6 in Scotland.  I really do not like the cold.  So next October when I would be planning my usual journey to the warmth of New Zealand I shall be putting on my winter woollies and cranking up the central heating.

The Handbag.  I bought the Mazda MX5 in 2006 for 6 months of open topped fun in the sun.   Eight years and many thousands of kilometres later it has today been handed over to a dealer to sell for me.


Croquet.  From that day in 2006 when I first held a croquet mallet until today I have had the most wonderful and rewarding time.  I've had moments at tournaments when I could have seen  the game far enough but they have been rare and ceased after a 'good talking to' one day by one of the Croquet Ladies.  They are a bunch of friends with whom I have travelled all over the country to compete.  I shall miss the camaraderie and the fun.  I shall miss the trips to to the Veterans Tournament at Dannevirke and the week of AC at the Palmerston North Clubs each year.

The hills of Hawkes Bay.  There is something about the shape and light of these hills that will for ever be etched on my soul (for want of a better saying).


Of course nothing in life can be allowed to be completely negative and playing the Glad Game:

I shall see more of my blood family and my friends in the UK and the mainland of Europe (including Braigha):


 And Gaz is getting married and building a house on the Island:


I shall see daffodils again.

A friend and I hope to spend more time going to the theatre and concerts in Glasgow.

There will hopefully be opportunities to see snow.  I never thought I would miss it but I do.  I long to replicate some of the fabulous photos I have taken many years ago of places like the Lake District and Scotland in the sun and the snow.  It's an idyllic view which has little in common with the reality of trying to get around and the problems that snow creates.

Living in six-monthly periods in two countries has given me a wonderful life with opportunities that few could dream about.  They have been amongst the happiest of my life.  However there is a certain strain in living this way and in particular the last month in each country seems to be geared around the next departure.  Okay I appreciate that it's a strain many would be happy to have to achieve the life-style but doing without it will be good. 

I started writing this weeks ago in the hope that it would be honed and complete by today.  In reality when I rose just after 6am this morning there was just a few notes and the rhyme.  So I will doubtless think of many things that I could have said and added to what will hopefully not be the very last post on this blog but perhaps would have been a more fitting tribute to its demise.  I hope that I shall eventually do a post to summarise my life in a country I was very happy to call my home.

In the meantime I hope that those of you who have become such a part of my life over the last years will continue to join me at Eagleton Notes.

58 comments:

  1. Oh Graham, my dearest friend, - I just cannot find the right words and yet, I have known this was coming for many weeks now - we are looking forward to seeing you. Briagha has a sloppy kiss ready - and the biggest hug from me at the airport. Nuff said. xxx

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    1. Thank you Pat. I have absolutely no idea what I would have done without you. You more than anyone else have made my time in NZ possible and painless by looking after everything from my house to my letters. I look forward to that hug.

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  2. Now I feel sad all over again. All I can do is wish you well, safe travels and fair winds when you arrive back home. I know there are folk waiting for you (and Braigha) who will be delighted to have you home full time. Take care, my friend.

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    1. Pauline I hope to be back for holidays. I will sorely miss our Northland expeditions. They have been highlights in my New Zealand life. Thank you.

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  3. GB, All the very best with your journey forward. As an ex-Puketapu School pupil, coming across your blog has been a reminder to me of my early years, and you are spot on my friend, the hills of Hawkes Bay remain in your soul, as they do in mine. I have appreciated experiencing HB again through your blogs and it even makes me yearn to return so you did a good job. :)

    Will catch up with you on Eagleton Notes.

    Have a pleasant and safe trip home.
    Cheers

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    1. Thank you Chris. Your old school carries on in good hands. It's 150th anniversary is not far away.

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  4. My heart broke and then was mended while reading this post. I feel I've been blessed to have found your blog and to have traveled with you for several years back and forth as you shuttled between your two homes. God speed and I'll see you at Eagleton Notes.

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    1. Thank you Jill. I remember that you used to drink 3 cups of black coffee a day. Did you ever manage to reduce it to 2? How's the Volvo?

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    2. I did! I did!...how on earth did you remember that? My memory is so short nowadays I can hardly remember my name. The old Volvo (Victoria, the Vintage Volvo) made it through our cold and snowy winter snug under her blanket and the new Volvo (as yet unnamed) is going for her first maintenance checkup today.

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  5. Oh gosh wow Graham, I am not really quite sure what to say, having only just found your blog about a year ago and enjoyed your six monthly visits to your home in New Zealand and can imagine to some extent how strange it is going to be not spending six months in each country each year. I can relate to the travel aspect though and all it entails...it is bad enough for a short visit, let alone one where you are going to live for some time. Not sure this is coming out quite how I want it to, but hoping you understand what I am trying to say.

    I am also sorry to hear about the rise in cancer blood cells, this is not good news, and I would think this is some cause for concern, especially knowing that it will involve more treatment. I will make sure I keep up with your other blog. As you say, you will get a chance to experience more of the beauty of your country and where you live and I will certainly look forward to seeing photographs. I got married in Scotland so it also holds a special place in my heart.

    Have a safe journey.

    Thank you for for this blog, I have really enjoyed seeing parts of a country that remain very dear to my heart and where my family live.

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    1. Thank you Seranata for your thoughts and for your good wishes. I am so glad that you have enjoyed seeing parts of your country through my eyes.

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  6. Have a safe trip back. I'll catch up later in the summer. Good luck.

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    1. Thanks Adrian. I look forward to seeing you later in the summer.

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  7. I'm sorry to hear that you have some more health challenges ahead. I hope everything goes well. I've enjoyed this blog. I didn't realize you had a summer blog until a few months ago. I will find it and follow you. You're too good to miss.

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    1. Thank you Red for the compliment.

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  8. This is a huge change for you but it sounds medically necessary so you get careful monitoring and treatment. You are leaving a wonderful way of life and avoiding winters, and leaving fun people and natural beauty but then again you will have snow, loved ones near by, and more happy adventures, which I look forward to reading about. I love the photo of the 2 croquet gals playing in the rain, wearing their umbrella hats, that is priceless.

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    1. Yes. Terra, the croquet girls don't exactly fit the stereotypical view of croquet players!

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  9. Finally I have had a chance to read the second half of the blog, which helped a little to replace the hollowness the first half caused when I started to read it at Nelson Airport.... at least there is some positivity to latch onto for the future in Lewis. We always knew this day would come - that your migration would have to end. It just seems so sudden and I am so sorry that the blood markers have had to be a part of the decision. Safer to return and battle the Beast so you can enjoy the future. I am so glad your son is building and will be near you - very exciting. I shall look forward to your continued writings from home and your thoughts and wisdom. Safe journey GB and thank you for the support you have given me through the last few years.

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    1. Thank you Fiona. The support has been mutual and I have appreciated your company along the way. I hope that all goes well for you and yours. I shall not lose touch.

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  10. This must have been one of the, if not THE, most touching post from you I have read so far, Graham.
    I know you say the cancer indicator cells in your blood can't be made to disappear, but limited, and I hope they will be kept at bay for a long, long time to come.
    It must have felt very odd for you to know that many of the things you've been doing over the past weeks and days were possibly the last time you'd be doing them, the last time you've been to certain places and seen certain faces.
    Not easy to play the Glad Game when you are in that situation, but "your other life" was always great, too, and now it is going to become your "only" life.

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    1. Meike a few years ago I was told by the surgeon that if I hadn't had the operation when I did in 1998 my life would probably have been measured in weeks or months rather than years because the cancer appeared very aggressive. So I've done rather well to last this long. I'm not planning on departing this mortal coil in the near future either. You are correct though in that only a very few people have known about the current situation and it's been much harder than I anticipated clearing out The Cottage. Now though I'll move on to the next phase of my life without regrets.

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  11. Graham, your news comes as a bit of a shock, but I do wish you well on your return, health, family and friends. Take care x

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    1. Thank you Carol. I suppose after the first two increases in the blood count the third was to be expected so I'm not sure I was shocked but I was certainly disappointed.

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  12. As I said in my FB comment late last night: You managed to squeeze a lot into this post, Graham; just as you always seem to manage to make the most of time. I'm sure you'll continue to do so - even when winter comes. Before that, however, there is another summer waiting for you: with family and friends, and your son's wedding and whatnot. (The house being built looks lovely!) The mention of the wedding + the photo of that coaster also remind me: We shall want a photo of you wearing a kilt for that occasion!! :)

    However, I also want to say: Breaking up from something that's been a big part of your life for a long time is never easy. The feelings about it will take some processing. Your years spent in NZ will always remain part of you. So if you want to "go back in thought" and post some memories or photos from there - just do. It probably matters more to yourself than to your followers which blog you choose to put it on. Be a Kiwi in the Hebrides if you like! No "excuses" needed, ever.

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    1. Thanks Monica your words are very comforting. I had better get a picture in my kilt whilst I still have brown knees. Mind you not many Scots have brown knees if they live in Scotland all the time!

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    2. You could have one taken soon after your arrival back home (still with Kiwi brown knees) and another one when you've faded to proper Scottish colour... ;)

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    3. Now there's a thought Monica.

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  13. I have no words but you can read my mind. Looking forward to my hug. x

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    1. Yes, Sue, after all these years I think we know each others minds pretty well.

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  14. You have given me a love of New Zealand. Honestly, I feel as if I have been there because of you. I can't type very well since my eyes are full of tears. Beautiful honest post and your gratefulness is spoken of but it is always there for anyone to see if they only pay attention. Say hello to our friend Pat for me!
    Love,
    Kay

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    1. I'm glad Kay that I've imparted my love of New Zealand too you. I will, of course, say hello to Pat for you.

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  15. You made me cry...I read this post with a sad heart for you....but I know your leaving NZ is for the better health wise.
    Somehow the finality of your words were a shock, even though you prepared us in a previous post.
    You will miss "The Family" but you will still be able to visit them, and that's a good thing.
    You have a fantastic support system on Lewis, and with your positive outlook of all the things that you are looking forward to doing back home, it will all be okay.
    Your health comes first, and I'm hoping and praying that your blood count settles back down.
    I will miss this blog.
    Wishing you a safe and uneventful trip back home with sunny skies with no air turbulence and no choppy waters.
    Seems as if you have lots of hugs and licks to look forward too....what a welcome.

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    1. Thank you for your thoughts Virginia. I'm sorry I made you cry. I hope that I won't be anywhere near the water! I am flying all the way. Calm skies would be good though. And, yes, I have wonderful friends and family on Lewis too.

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    2. I thought you had to take the ferry back to Lewis?

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  16. Although we, probably like the majority of your readers, never managed to visit you in your "other life" we have thoroughly enjoyed reading about all your adventures. Through blogger you've made distance seem unimportant - though you may be far away from us your regular blogging has given us a wonderful way of keeping in touch. Long may it continue via Eagleton Notes.

    Have a safe journey home GB. We look forward to seeing you soon,

    love Helen & Ian xx

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    1. Thanks Helen. Thanks Ian. Hopefully it will not be too long before I see you both.

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  17. GB, I too felt very amused (by the poem) and very saddened for you, leaving a home you love so much. I'm sorry, too, that the health news isn't so good. Have a good, safe journey, and a big warm welcome back to the UK.

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    1. Thank you Frances. Our messages won't have so far to travel in future!

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  18. I have many emotions....and, yet, do not know what to say, Graham. I will have to keep a closer eye on you, to say the least. Much love as you travel along and, for as much as you take it to heart...I will be praying for you, my friend.

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    1. Thank you so much Heather. My reminder of you which lived below the clock on the wall is packed and will find a place in Eagleton. Despite everything I usually remember to keep my promise each day.

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  19. brought tears to my eyes Graham but so looking forward to you coming home. I said to Iain earlier that it has been many years since you experienced a Lewis winter. Safe journey home and take care xx

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    1. Only six of your sleeps Carol until I'm just down the road.

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  20. Just wanted to add my name to those who are so sorry that you've had bad news. We love your blogs, and look forward to the ones which will be coming from Eagleton for many years to come. Safe journey and lots of love, Carol

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    1. Thank you Carol. Safe journey so far. I shall be back in Eagleton tomorrow (Sunday) and hope to start blogging during the week.

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  21. Dear Mr. Hebridean in New Zealand,
    I cannot tell you the pleasure discovering your Kiwi place has given me, especially this past winter that continues to linger on. I am saddened to hear of your rising your health issues, and hope for the best possible outcome for you in your course of treatments. Safe journey home, McGregor

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    1. Thank you McGregor. I shall be home tomorrow (Sunday). I am so glad that you have enjoyed my blog. Who knows? There may be more to come.

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  22. GB
    You are my closest and most loyal supporter. Even as I faded into the background of normal life again. For that i will never forget or let you for that matter.
    Do me a favour, get a supplement that combines Reveratrol and Tumeric and or Pomegranate. All of these three shrink and kill cancer cells. Not that any oncologist would be permitted to inform you or promote. I know, trust me. (I used a NZ one called Pez Res)
    I know you prob don't need people dishing out advice, I just can't help myself, you are a special person. So deserving of a healthy life.
    Take care
    Jaz and Mark x

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    1. Dearest Jaz. I was very touched by your words. You have been an inspiration and we shall not lose touch. I always know what you are up to via Fi! I have been researching your suggestion and I'm sure I'll be able to obtain it in the UK. I wish you both well.

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  23. Maybe I was blinkered but until now, I never realised that cancer had come to join you GB. I have the impression that you have relished life to the full - either in the Western Isles or down in New Zealand - and I hope that in the months and years ahead you will live without much physical pain, continuing to relish the days as they pass by. "Yee-ha. What a ride!!" - indeed. If you're in Sheffield you can stay a night or two in my daughter's room and I'll take you out to Chatsworth Park and buy you a pint of Yorkshire bitter. Just let me know.

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    1. YP I was first diagnosed with cancer in 1998 and have been having treatment of one sort or another on and off since then. The problems caused by the treatment have been well outweighed by the life I have been able to lead. Thank you for your offer. I may well take you up on it!

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  24. See you soon, GB. Glad that we'll have the chance to see more of you but sorry about the price you are paying. I know your New Zealand family will feel lost without you next winter / summer...

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    1. It'll be good to catch up CJ. I'll be home tomorrow and will start planning my summer.

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  25. Hi GB, You know how sorry I was to hear of your leaving the lifestyle you so enjoy. However, you are such an optimistic and positive person that you are an inspiration to everyone on how to engage in, and enjoy whatever life has to offer and I know you will continue to do so. Am really looking forward to being able to see much more of you though. Lots of love, Jo

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    1. Thank you Jo. I'll see you in the not-too-distant future.

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  26. Graham, I am sorry that you are having to leave NZ. I don't know enough of course to be able to wish you the opportunity to return the year after next, in the hopes that things go better than expected. I will keep Eagleton Notes on my bloglist for now, and meanwhile you are lucky to have such a beautiful place to live in Scotland, and I know you are someone who will get the most out of what you do, wherever you do it. You must be on your way back now, or just settling in, so I will look forward to reading more of your lovely Scottish posts. .

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    1. Jenny thank you for your kind words. Yes I'm very fortunate to live in a most beautiful place on Lewis.

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  27. Glad that you have so many good friends who care about you. No less than you deserve. Sorry I did not get to know you better when I had the opportunity. Kind thoughts from Diana aka The Godess!

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    1. How lovely to see you here Godess. Thanks for your kind thoughts. Who knows what the future may hold.

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