Sunday 11 February 2018

The End

I have been remiss. I apologise.

My previous post said that I would be blogging again on this blog when I visited New Zealand in February 2016. I didn't but instead posted on my Scottish Eagleton Notes blog. Somehow being a visitor in New Zealand for 6 weeks just wasn't the same as living there even though the second I was back in Napier I felt completely at home.

So this is to let anyone who wonders what happened to me know that I'm still alive and kicking and available to view at Eagleton Notes. 

Tuesday 15 December 2015

I'm Coming Back

A few weeks ago after a chat to Wendy I decided that I'd been away too long. I'm not anticipating any change in my cancer treatment in the near future and my right knee is due for replacement but it's been agreed that the operation will be put off for a couple of months.

So on Monday 1st February I intend to be on a plane from Glasgow Airport arriving in Napier on Wednesday evening.

And this blog will live once more for at least another six weeks.

Thursday 16 October 2014

Thankful Thursday: Every Cloud

has a silver lining.

It's over five months since I wrote the last post on this blog and today is the first time since I wrote it that I have re-read it in full.  I don't think that I appreciated at the time just how much I would miss New Zealand and my life there.  In fact from the moment I arrived back in Scotland the idea of not going back was banished from my mind.  I think that I must have been having a severe dose of reality when I wrote the post and that my optimistic me was on hold for a short while.  In fact I think that until last week I was actually sub-consciously more concerned about my cancer than I've been since 2010 and, perhaps, since I was diagnosed in 1998.

Today's reality is that I shall not be returning at the end of this month as I usually do and, indeed, it may well be that I shall not return this summer (New Zealand's summer that is). But then again I may. For many reasons it seems unlikely that I shall be able to resume my Godwit existence but I'm more optimistic now about a return to my other spiritual home.

My cancer treatment has been under close review since I returned  and a couple of weeks ago I had a complete set of scans which confirmed that no prostatic cancer tumours have developed in my abdomen or chest.  So the situation is that my blood count is increasing rapidly but is still low enough for hormone treatment to be delayed for a while in order to achieve maximum benefit.  Apparently that is because I am quite fit and the treatment has not had an adverse effect on me in the past.  So it looks like taking any decisions about returning to NZ for the time being are still on hold.

However who knows what will happen in a few months and I am now back in an optimistic enough frame of mind to believe that I shall be seeing The Family again in their own setting and that I shall again play croquet on the hallowed Marewa lawns: perhaps not this summer but certainly the following one.

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.

Saturday 26 April 2014

Stop The Possums!

Last month Bill from Bill's Ponderings who lives in Brisbane posted on yet another case of fried possum and an electricity outage as a result.  Apparently the possums climb up the power poles onto the lines and short them.  They will do that with monotonous regularity if they are not prevented.  In New Zealand when I first came I couldn't understand why every - and I mean every - pole had an aluminium or alloy sleeve.  It is to make it impossible for possums to climb them.  It's such a simple thing but 100% effective.

A band of possum preventers.  A band.  Gedit?
Simple but effective

Thursday 24 April 2014

Thankful Thursday

I've been a bit tardy recently in the Thankful Thursday posts.  I've got all sorts of excuses.  I've not had anything to be thankful for (completely untrue).  I've been away (true).  I've been doing lots of other things (true).  I've forgotten on the day or been travelling (true).  One or two things have happened to friends around me which temporarily made it a bit difficult to be thankful all the time (true).  I'm sorry Jaz.  I should have more faith and perseverance.

Anyway I've decided that it's about time I pulled my socks up and got on with it.  Why is it, by the way, that when people one knows are having a Bad Time it makes one feel a little guilty for being thankful?


It's a while since I mentioned croquet.  I think at some time I probably said that I would give it a rest before I became even more boring than I am already.  Well, for reasons you will appreciate before I leave for Scotland next Tuesday, I'm going to do a review of my croquet year for which I am exceptionally thankful. 

Enough!  You don't really need to read the rest of this: it's here for the 'diary' aspect of my blog.
 I didn't win the Golf  Croquet Club Championship this year.  My GC partner, Judy, (we won the GC Doubles together) did.  Today.  I was far more nervous for her than I was when she and I played in the semi-final and she beat me making it, I think, the first time I've not been in the final for, I think, six years just after I started playing croquet.  I played well and she played better and beat me fair and square.  Today she beat the Club's pretender for the Championship.  No, she annihilated him in the second game (best of 3): 7:6, 7:2.    We (Judy and her granddaughter, Zoe, whom I used to coach) went out for lunch to celebrate.

So this year I've not won any of the three GC club championships.  However I have won the Association Croquet (the 'original' and 'thinking' croquet) A Grade and the Intermediate Grade Champs.  However I let my partner down and we were only runners up in the AC Doubles.

In the greater scheme of things amongst the goings on in this world of ours all this is very shallow.  However today I am very thankful for my successes this year.  It may never happen again and I shall return to Scotland with the rather shallow thought that my name is etched in gold on the hallowed A Grade championship board at the Marewa Croquet Club.

Wednesday 23 April 2014

More Welcome Swallows

Although the birds of New Zealand do not generally compare in brilliance of hue as those of, say, Australia there are some very beautiful and exceptionally interesting ones.  For me one of the loveliest is the Welcome Swallow.  I have blogged a number of times on this joyful bird: see this list at Postvorta.

They are exceptionally fast and not in the least bit afraid of coming within a few feet of a person to catch some tasty insect morsels attracted by the carbon dioxide emitted in our breath or perhaps the blood on which they like to feed!  I've only managed to capture them in flight on one trip to Miranda.

When I was at Pauline's there were some youngsters nearby and I managed to get one sitting on a post not far away (but through a window).  They may not be my best Welcome Swallow photos but they are close runners in the cuteness stakes.

Picture Size: Update and iPad Comment Tip

Nephew-in-Law and computer programming whiz, Mark, has worked his magic.

Anyone with any equipment, platform and browser (which, for the most part amongst my readers who had problems seems to be iPad users) should now see my photos fitted into the available space for the blog.

If you return to the post Picture Size: A Test the top picture should appear on your post the same size as the second one.

Thank you Mark!

Most, perhaps all, iPad users, and that includes me some of the time, have problems when making comments on blogs if they make a mistake.  Carol in Cairns explained to me why and how to solve the problem.  I can't remember why and I can't find Carol's email with the instructions but here is the how:

When you make a mistake and the program will not let you make any alterations to a draft comment  simply touch the 'keyboard remove' key in the bottom right of the on-screen keyboard.  Then touch the comment box to re-instate the keyboard.  It should then work.

Toilet Art at Kawakawa

Some people have flowers and bushes and even trees in their garden.  Some people have lawns.  Some have garden gnomes.  Some have whimsically amusing toilets.  'Though not, I suspect, very many.  So these may have  rarity value.   May have......

Monday 21 April 2014

Picture Size: A Test

I was looking at my blog on the iPad last night and I realised that I couldn't see the whole of any of my pictures.

For many years now I have set all my images to a maximum dimension of 800px which is what the template width allows.  I do this partly because it saves people clicking on an image to enlarge.  How many people do?  And partly because when I have the blog printed the pictures come out at the correct size.

So I thought that I would ask how many of you can see the following test card images in full.  It would be useful if you can't if you could tell me whether you are reading it on a tablet, iPad, laptop or whatever and the browser you are using.  I have used two test card sizes.  The top one is the size of my usual pics and the one below is a smaller one.  The chaffinch is just there for the ride.

800 x 600 px
640 x 480 px