Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Always the way

Isn't it but? Isn't that always the way? You do something you've been putting off for ages and then when you do something comes along to spoil it. See, I posted some photos of our new life and new friends to my flickr stream:
and the very next day one of the new friends has gone. Dead.

I got up Monday morning as usual to let the dogs out for their first pee and poo. Roxy and I saw a fox in the mist not twenty feet from where we were standing in the frost and snow. It's hard to know if Poppy sees anything as she spends an inordinate amount of time spooking herself with imaginary intruders - at least I think they are imaginary, for when you investigate the barking there is nothing there. Roxy took a run after the fox which was in no hurry and lost it in the mist as she does the muntjac she chases every day. They are always just out of reach and have techniques that render them invisible while in plain sight.

When Roxy got back from her fruitless fox hunt she and Poppy went back into their beds where they wait for walk number two after I or Polly has had breakfast. When the time came for walk number two Roxy was a hesitant starter. Well, frozen ground, crunchy snow would make anybody baulk. After fifteen minutes of treat bribes and false starts, I gave up. Break the routine and why not? It's cold.

Back in the feeding room Roxy refuses her food, not unusual, she'll eat it later. Roxy puts herself to bed. Later on I came back down to check the mail and let the dogs out for another stretch and then upstairs with us for a lie down in our currently chilly flat but not as chilly as the dogs' sleeping quarters. Poppy hirpled up the stairs with her arthritis as she does - really looks uncomfortable - and Roxy, Roxy who races up the stairs to be first can barely make it. When she did get up she wanted back down again and Polly took her back down to her bed and covered her with her doggie duvet.

Eventually we decided 'this creature is really not well' and informed her people. In the afternoon they took her off to the vet and that, as they say was that. Poor Roxy had a huge tumour and had to be put to sleep. A fleeting friendship. We only knew her for a month.

There won't be a burial in the grounds she loved as we can't break the frozen ground. She's been sent off to be cremated and this beautiful creature who enjoyed two years of life with the people who rescued her - rescued her from a small flat and brought her to 60 acres of Norfolk wilderness - will be back soon in the New Year.

Bye-bye Roxy aged 12.

Friday, 26 November 2010


It's official, we have snow. We saw it falling last night before settling down to watch Underworld Evolution
Later when I went out with the bins it had mostly gone from the hard surfaces. Hard to see in the dark. Later This morning when I took the dogs out for their first toilet the snow was still lying on the grass and the paths were icy. Other parts of the UK have had substantial falls. We can still move around but it is cold as in freezing. All the bodies of water have thin skins of ice at their margins. The dogs and I saw two swans had hauled themselves out of the water and were perched on a tree trunk lying partly on the bank and in the water. In the swimming pool I saw the little fish peering up at me through the ice.

Top 10 Tips for Memory Card Maintenance

Top 10 Tips for Memory Card Maintenance

Friday, 5 November 2010


We'll be heading off to Norfolk next weekend to take up a joint post as caretakers at a beautiful location in Norfolk. The house is mostly packed up already - that might be me being optimistic, I think Polly has other ideas.

We have to go out now and get more boxes.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

New computer

Got home yesterday and found that my brand new all singing dancing IBM compatible will be delivered sometime on Friday between 8.00 am and 6.00 pm. I can hardly wait.

 Things I will be able to do include, booting from a usb drive, running virtual machines, trying out 64 bit applications.

Not much else to say other than I'm defragging a drive. Oh, xmarks is closing down in January next year. Pity. That was an interesting service. Unfortunately they couldn't get any money from businesses big  or small. You can read about the reasons here:

end of xmarks

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Birthday went well

Our birthday on the 9th went OK. We don't have the same network of chums here to invite so we can celebrate and pamper and be pampered. We did get cards through the letterbox.

We also took ourselves to Welwyn Garden City - in particular to Thornton's - for a double scoop tub of ice-cream. Very scrummy.

In the evening we got two phone-calls from foreign lands. On from New Zealand and one from the USA. From New Zealand it was Alan and Glenda. From Montana, North America it was our young, former neighbours in New Zealand.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010


Yesterday (Tuesday 31st 2010) we found two unposted letters on a park bench. One had a stamp and the other was stampless. Being a good former girl guide and former boy scout there is never any difficulty in deciding what to do in situations like these. That's right. Rip the enevelopes open and see if there's any money in them!

Naturally we went up to the Post Office and immediately posted the one with the stamp. There was a queue of customers out to the street which Polly insisted on joining to but a stamp for the other. Twenty (20) minutes later she emerged. By that time my sciatic nerve, which has been cruelly nipped since November of last year, was giving me gyp but I managed to smile at our good deed and off we went to trawl the charity shops. I found a book for the wife - she doesn't know about it yet but will next week when it is her birthday and mine. We share the same birthday.

I think it was George Bernard Shaw who threw his letters unstamped out of his window trusting in the charitable nature of passers-by to put the postage on them and send them on to the recipient.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Identity of strange bird

The strange bird I saw a couple of posts down turns out to be a jay.

I've never seen a Jay before. I don't think they hung around the seaside on the North Atlantic/Irish Sea where I grew up. Now if it had been a seagull or a shag or something like that I would have called out immediately: Shag! Gull! Gannet! Come quickly and see them perching (awkwardly with their webbed feet) on the grid over the garden pond attempting to feast on the tadpoles and froglets.

On television last night we watched a programme that followed the adventures of two men from Leeds who bought a croft in Harris and turned it into an unusual camp site. The name of the quirky camp-site is Lickisto. Enter into your favourite search engine and you'll find it.

Very unusual and inventive pair. If you ever get to see the program you can see one of them earning their living expenses from a hairdressing salon and the other thatching the byres in the traditional island way - with heather.

I might look up the name of the programme for you later. It will probably be showing on a channel near you.

This is the info direct from a popular tv guide the information doubtless is copyright:

Build a New Life: Was It Worth It?

Tuesday 06 July
8:00pm -


Property and lifestyle series. Charlie Luxton returns to the Scottish island of Harris to catch up with Harvey and John, who had an ambitious plan to turn a run-down croft into a campsite, only to see legal wrangles threaten the entire venture. How have the couple fared?

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Hot and bothered

This is the longest period of warm/hot weather I have experienced. Mid to high twenties every day for the last two weeks. Drink plenty of water is the answer. Stay indoors. Do nothing!!

Monday, 21 June 2010

Moved again

We are now living in Hangman's Lane not far from our most recent address in Briary Lane. It took us about thirty minutes to move our belongings and two bicycles. Not bad.

The visible wildlife in the garden so far include a rabbit and a squirrel plus assorted birds - mostly blackbirds. The day's warmth is increasing and at 10.19 a.m I am indoors hiding from the sun. Not a daywalker.

The search continues for a permanent dwelling. I fancy Welwyn Garden City, Stevenage or Hitchin. Tomorrow we are visiting St. Alban's. Maybe we'll both like it.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Strange bird

We both saw an unusual bird in the garden of our current temporary domicile. The image is fading already.

Roughly top to bottom - there is a language convention associated with parts of a bird but I don't know what it is - strong short beak; small white tuft on head; green stripe on body; white dot or spot near its bottom.

Memory decay is now present. I don't remember the body colours. There was a blackbird beside the strange bird. it, the blackbird, was smaller.

Must get a film for the camera.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Well warm

We've been in England for over a week now. The bluebells are still blooming in the woods; wisteria still hangs blue flowers from house walls and gable ends - although my botanical wife tells me they are fading.

There's always a hurdle or two to clamber
over when shifting countries. We had heard opening a Bank account was one of the hardest and (guess what?) it is.

Yes, yes just your passports and a bit of paper tying you to the address you say you're at and that'll be acceptable said the young man who made us an appointment for the next day with a well known high street bank.

No, no, that's no use said the young lady the next day when we turned up sweating from the bus journey - did I mention Hertfordshire is 'enjoying' temperatures of 21,22,23,24? The passports are fine but the piece of paper - an invoice from Avis, wasn't. Since she was adamant that we could proceed no further we left the bank.

Still every cloud has a silver lining, eh? We went to Muffin Break - oh sorry did you think that was just a kiwi thing? - and had a flat white and a chocolate chip cookie.

Now, it was surely always hard getting money out of bank but putting money in?

When I got home I did a bit more research about the phrase money laundering that was mentioned in the bank conversation. Apparently the banks and building societies, all financial institutions have been charged with vigilance over alleged money laundering accounts. As usual the innocent are caught up in the safeguards or overkill as one reviewer commented.

Luckily we have money with us and can survive until we can satisfy our putative account giver that we are who we say we are and we live where we say we live and that'll be an end to it.

Cripes, there's me bus.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

New country

Hertfordshire, England.
Arrived on Tuesday morning, 11th May 2010 to a hung Parliament.
Woke up on Wednesday morning to a coalition Government of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

On the plane I watched:

Shutter Island; Assassins and Bodyguards.

I watched more but I have forgotten already because I can't think with plane-brain fog.

Better sign off already.

Monday, 10 May 2010



Leaving Dunedin in one and a half hours - forever.

Bye bye NZ.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Death of a rat

There's a thing. I didn't know I had in in me. Hughie the Rat killer. Here's how it happened. Treasure of my Heart called me to the window and pointed over to where Renny the Manx used to investigate interesting scents in our garden.
'Look at the little rabbit,' she said.
'Nah,' says I, 'that ain't no rabbit, that's a little hedgehog.'

Well, as they say in all the worst anecdotes, no sooner were the words out of my mouth than the little hedgehog got up from crouch position and revealed itself to be a rat. A sick rat. Staggering around, drunken-like.

'Oh Lordy,' said Treasure of my Heart. 'It's been poisoned.'

I agreed whole heartedly since it was us who had poisoned it. How we jump to such conclusions. That this wretched creature, could be other than the same rat in the wall who woke us up with his or her gnawing skills in the early hours, never entered our minds.

'Mighty hunter,' cried Treasure of my Heart, 'Do something.'

The taste of the hunt in my mouth I did something. I fetched my trusty bow and arrows and slunk round the side of the house to confront the foule beest who was performing the rat version of the dying swan on the lawn. I notched the first arrow in the string and fired. Missed. By a whisker (not a cliché). I quickly - see me? When you're looking at me you're looking at Hiawatha) - strung the second arrow, took aim fired and missed again.

Ratty broke through the poison delirium and ran for the undergrowth. I prodded the gorse for a bit with no result. Ratty had, as they say in all the worst anecdotes, gone to ground.

Twenty minutes later Treasure of my Heart yelled that the groggy rodent had tumbled out of the gorse and back on to the lawn. Outside your intrepid bowman strode again. Missing once more on the first shot I determined to move closer to this vicious, though strangely handsome, creature and shoot point blank. This time I had the loathsome, yet strangely, alluring, cuddly-toy of a critter right where I wanted it. I shot downwards in what archery folks call the instinctive posture - which is to say not standing upright, side on and pulling the bow to its full extent before letting fly at a target in the middle of a field in Agincourt, but hunched over, awkward as all get up.

This time I did hit something. I hit the hard ground beside Roland. The arrow, having only a blunt field point, not a broadhead, bounced back knocking my specs off and catching me below my eye. It will turn black I am convinced.

I would like to report at this time that I gave up trying to kill my prey and took him to the Vet with instructions to heal and no expense spared - but no. You know this story has an ending given away in the title of this piece.

Requiescat In Pace, Ratso. You got to breathe a bit longer due to my incompetence - but there is nothing that could stop the progress of that poison and your death would have been excruciating. Besides if you had got back into the house you would have expired in the wall and begun to stink like one of your kin did last year. Two weeks later a procession of blowflies would be escaping from the crack in the ceiling and dropping drowsily on to us as we watch films on the PC.

The swift thump I gave you with the shovel was a better end than the farcical posturings of a Robin Hood with glasses.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Selling up and heading home

We have just waved goodbye to our beautiful recycled wooden - assembled in Vietnam - futon. This is further confirmation of our determination to keep our faces pointed Northwards to the British Isles: once seen never forgotten.

Land of Derek Jarman, OXO cubes and fish fingers: we are coming, we are coming (Iceland volcano eruptions permitting).

Monday, 15 March 2010

Something I saw from my bathroom window

There was a good blow on Saturday 13th March, 2010 right here on Blueskin Road overlooking Carey's Bay and Port Chalmers. In the main channel I saw something I knew should not be there. It looked like a container. If you don't know what a container looks like you haven't lived. We see them all the time. We here them being moved around the docks. Occasionally they will be hoisted, craned, thumped around from dawn to dawn. An unusual auditory distraction when trying to sleep but preferable to the psychopathic roar of the modified car in the wee small hours.

I watched it bobbing for a while waiting for someone to mount a rescue. Nothing happened. It wasn't far from the dockside so I was sure a shout would go up at any moment and one - maybe both - of the tugs that manoeuvre huge cruise ships into the harbour would do the maritime equivalent of springing into action.

Outside for a better view I still could hear no wild cries of desperation drifting up from Port Chalmers. The container was dogpaddling leisurely in the channel. Thinking the high winds had kept the hardy longshoremen indoors sipping mugs of tea and playing bridge with greasy cards I wondered who I might telephone to alert them to a hazard to shipping. Yellow pages! That ought to do it. Back inside I got distracted. Many hours can pass like this but do not worry no ships were sunk because I had failed to call for help.

I went back outside and a small craft was towing the escapee back to container gaol.

A happy ending.