Sunday 28 January 2018

Too hot, then far too hot ...

I think it's nearly a month since I posted on my blog. I have often thought about doing so, and have composed posts in my head, but frankly I have been so HOT and UNCOMFORTABLE since early January that I have not been able to get myself into gear to put fingers to keyboard to start.

I am only able to do so now because I have finally resorted to wearing a wet long-sleeved shirt that feels deliciously cool against my skin.

Now those of you who live in hot climes are probably well used to temperatures in the high 20s. I however am metabolically unable to cope with the heat. I can last outside for about 10 minutes before my most murderous impulses start coming to the fore. Seriously, if David is found at the bottom of a set of steps with footprints in his back - get me arrested at once, cos it will have been me.

Fortunately, I am not quite at that point but I am very short tempered in the heat. So I have been lying down lots, with all windows and doors open trying to organise a breeze ... But it's not happening.

I think we are into week 4 of hot hot hot weather and I am over it big time. And if the UK summer is like this in the coming boating season, I will be changing flights and coming home to winter - no question.

I now realise why we never do stopovers on our flights to and from the northern hemisphere - every available stop off point** is near the equator and that is a part of the world that is, by definition, too warm.

** We don't do stopovers in the US - too hot politically and too stressful even just in transit.

OK, rant over for the moment - it's too hot to continue. Time for a lie down in my wet shirt.

Wednesday 3 January 2018

And a new year begins ...

But before it did begin, we headed off to help see it in. As we now have the Mote, we don't have to travel all the way in one hit. So we stopped overnight with Pete and Warren in Carterton and slept in the Mote out on their circular driveway.
Hiding under that platter of salad is the corned beef that I cooked and took over. I think Pete made the sauerkraut, and the carrot and zucchini salad with honey and mustard dressing was yummy - never had it before but made it the night before last. Given I don't like zucchini, it is a good way to eat them!
The following day we stopped off for a nostalgia trip for David in Masterton to visit Masterton Intermediate, where David's dad, John, was principal for a number of years. He was in inspirational teacher, both to the kids and to teachers. Education was to encompass the whole child with as many rich and varied experiences as the school could provide. So the academic expectations were high, and every kid had to play a summer sport and a winter sport (and lots were on offer), every kid had to learn to play a musical instrument, and they all had to participate in other non-classroom activities - working on the school farm, in the school vineyard, in the school garden, in the trout hatchery, in the school forestry block... No wonder many kids look back on it as the best time they had in their school life.

While we wandered around, the school caretaker was there mowing the lawns, so he came over to chat. Mike spoke about how the school is now and it was very heartening to hear that most of John's initiatives were still going strong.

What was also great to hear was how the current principal, the deputy and the assistant are out in the playground every playtime and lunchtime, organising and playing games with the kids - no opportunities for clique-y groups to start picking on others and bullying, no opportunity to get up to mischief. Just lots of fun with adults participating.
There are 2 of these notices on end walls of classroom blocks - I'd like to see more of this kind of thing, with the active engaged participation of senior teachers in all schools. I am sure it would make a difference to kids' attitudes and behaviour.
The school has a large number of trees that were planted during John's time - and they are now rather large! Some which were planted in front of a classroom block, have had to be removed, but have been replaced by substantial picnic table/bench seat sets. Mike told us that a young builder who has been a bit naughty and sentenced to some community service will be building 7 more to be placed around the school yard ... Talk about community involvement!
The small tree David is standing beside (not the imposing one behind it) is the pear tree John planted at the 50th jubilee of the school, back in 2000, I think. My hunch is that the large one was planted during John's reign as principal, back in the 70's or 80's.
It was lovely for David to spend some time there, especially as Mike Clarke came over to chat. John suffered from Alzheimer's in his last few years and after he died, David spent much of his time with his mum, focusing on her for her last few years. So he hasn't really taken or had the time to think back about how his dad was before the Alzheimer's struck.

John was very involved in community affairs in Masterton; he'd been on the Trust Lands Trust, and the Licensing Trust, he was Deputy Mayor for some time and on the council for longer. As a mark of respect for his service, to education and to the larger community, the council named a street after him. It is in a little new housing area called Casel Mews. The only street in the shape of a cross (unfortunate ...) is called John McDonald Mews Drive.

Casel Mews with John McDonald Mews Drive - and he did have Masterton at his heart.
One of the very new houses - no garden yet and no trees! If John was alive, he'd have been around there donating them and helping them plant them - or at least telling them how to do it ...

And two more very new houses with the proud son ...

Lunch was with Warren and Pete at Addiction Cafe in Eketahuna (we do live it up large in backblocks NZ - well, not really backblocks as Eketahuna is on State Highway 2 - one of our main roads). Addiction Cafe is well worth a stop - lovely food, excellent coffee and very friendly service.

Such a lunch required an afternoon nap - more classily known as post prandial ... So we stopped in a roadside layby and snoozed. Actually David snoozed and snored, so I sat at the table and read with my earplugs in.

Then it was off to Pahiatua to Edward and Chris's place for new year however we got lost on the way. The wrong gate number was entered into the GPS software. after an explanatory phone call, we found the right place on the right road. But it was an adventure (David called it a mis-adventure) and we saw some amazingly spectacular countryside on the way - places that have to be re-visited at leisure.

Chris and Edward have bought a big old place with about 900 bedrooms and 25 lounges. OK, I exaggerate but not by much ... We, however, had the Mote, and Pete and Warren had their motorhome, so the four of us were parked up away from the house. A good thing for me, actually, as I sloped off to bed at about 10.30 - if I'd stayed up I would have drunk too much, been too noisy and badly behaved and then not slept well; so discretion was the better part of valour for me. David stayed up though and won the Pass the Parcel game - as one of the few straight men there, it was ironic that the prize was a rainbow toothbrush 😏😜😍

We had thought about heading for the Hawke's Bay on 1 January, but decided to come home instead so David could get on with some work. And a good thing we did, as Tim phoned the following morning to let us know he and the boys were coming down to stay. Lovely stuff! So the boys are using the Mote as their ensuite bedroom and Tim is in the spare room/sunroom inside.

Kirsty came out on the train this morning from Wellington for brekkie and a swim. I have just dropped her off at the station to head back to her friend Lisa's place for her last night before returning to Sydney tomorrow.

Change of topic:
Now the following photos are for Mick and Julia and other boaters. This is Foxton in NZ - quite a different place from Foxton in the UK - NZ's Foxton probably has more people living in it, but it is less of a tourist attraction and there isn't a gongoozler in sight! It does have a windmill (not sure why, but I think there was a fairly large contingent of Dutch who settled there last century), and it used to have a collection of old buses and a neat shop where I bought two china chickens once ...
I think this photo was taken as we went past the school - note the speed camera on the left.

And the water tower ... Note also the blue sky, and the man in the previous photo wearing shorts, a short sleeved shirt and a cap - it is VERY VERY WARM here!
To be fair, the actual township is about 2kms down to the right at that intersection (or at 2 or 3 others) off the main road (the road we were travelling on is State Highway 1 - the equivalent of the M1, truly!) It does have its own right turning lane, so it isn't that small really ...

OK, that's it for now.

Another change of topic - rant follows:
Have a happy new year, folks, and now it's 2018, can't we be done with Trump, the dumbster, please? I am getting bored waiting for his denouement, even though much of the stuff that keeps coming out is the stuff of bad melodrama! If someone had presented a film/TV script to producers even 3 years ago with the crap that has been occurring since 2015, they would have been told to go away and put a bit more reality into it!

Well, that's my first rant of the year over - but if he isn't gone soon, there will be more where this has come from - you have been warned!