Wednesday 23 December 2020


 On December 4th I turned 70 which is a significant milestone, especially as I don't yet feel properly grown up!

We had a party the following day which was just lovely. David cleared out the garage (a not insignificant task as we are both hoarders of one type or another ...), swept and vacuumed the concrete floor, and brought down from the attic the Turkish rugs we'd had at Cherswud and spread them out. He and Salvi carried the outside chairs from the shed and set out the garage as our new party room - most effective.  Ann put out a vase of birthday flowers, and David and Salvi found a couple of lamps to make the place look homely and inviting.  So using the lounge and the garage we had plenty of room for socialising with a wonderfully eclectic bunch of people.

Ann Persico and I had prepared lots of finger food, but we should not have done so - everyone brought food to share and there was heaps. Next time, I will make sure to just have one bowl of nuts or something for early arrivals ...

All in all, becoming 70 has been a good move!

No photos were taken during the party, but Ann did record the speeches that David and I made. However, I haven't yet watched the footage as I am aware that my sense of not being properly grown up, in part, is borne out by my actions during the singing of Happy Birthday. David thought I was conducting the singing, but I had a knife in my hand and was miming removal of appendages ...

Then last week, on Sunday was our 46th wedding anniversary. I thought about arranging a weekend in a hotel for a treat, but realised quickly that it would be an exercise in culinary frustration, as we need to be able to process a lot of vegetables each day into juice - a hotel room is not really suitable for that! And hotel breakfast menus don't usually cater for smoothies made with 6 fruits plus amla powder,  wheatgrass powder, cashews and hemp seeds ...

So we went away in the motorhome and stayed in motorcamps - because we needed power for the juicer and smoothie maker, freedom camping was not an option.

We had two lovely days in Martinborough and happened to be there for their small xmas parade - a lot of people, and 20 x as many sweets for kids... 

The following day, we had an anniversary celebration lunner (late lunch/early dinner) at Crouching Tiger, an Asian fusion place (a mix of Indian, Thai and Chinese cuisine) after a big walk around one of the Palliser Estate vineyards - not a glass of wine seen or partaken, just endless rows of vines...

Lunner was lovely - well, for David it was and my starter was yummy (cauliflower pakoras with raita) but I chose a Thai chicken salad for the main and I should not have chosen food that had once had a face. Two mouthfuls in and I could not eat anymore of it. I have thoroughly lost the capacity for eating meat!

The montage behind us reminded us of the Thai restaurant we went to in Nottingham with Mick and Julia, when we were moored up in Beeston. Julia and I had gone there previously on the bus from Long Eaton and decided the guys needed to experience it too.

A pineapple mojito mocktail - it was very yummy! But I had chardonnay, just for a change...

Cauliflower pakoras - yummy

Ever since David and I have been together, we have driven past the Mt Bruce Wildlife Sanctuary (Pukaha), and every time we have gone past, I have either said out loud or inside my head 'I want  to go there!' So in we went this time - after 47 years, we have been just a tad slow to get our act together!

This kaka was extremely tame - or hungry, like Pavlov's dogs.

Waiting for the 3pm feeding to commence. Many kaka were flying through the trees just above our heads, walking around on the ground very close to the waiting people - they clearly have internal clocks!
At the feeding stations, the kaka were a mix of wild and bred on site.
David on the walkway.

You can learn more about Pukaha Mt Bruce from on their website here
It is a wonderful place to visit where a huge amount of conservation work has been undertaken, continues now and will do so into the future.

Our next stop was an interesting and surprisingly good find - we stayed in the campground at Eketahuna. A lovely spot and the weather was beautifully warm, with no wind, so the awning could be out and we could relax in the shade. 

Look at that blue sky!

Plenty of space to spread out!


We met some new people who we will stay in touch with, and we had a visit from Merril, an old friend who lives in Woodville. Cheese scones were made and consumed.

David and Merril demonstrating social distancing on our clifftop walk from the campsite to the bridge. Merril and I were at primary school together, as well as intermediate and high school. Lost touch until a few years ago when we reconnected on Friends Reunited.

Difficult to see, but that is a kingfisher on that tree stump!

Jack is 15 and 6' 2", Aaliyah is 35 and 6', and I am 70 and 5'1". I sent this photo to our lovely grandson to demonstrate that at 5'11" he isn't the tallest 15 year old. His response was that I looked like a hobbit beside these two ... Cheeky brat!

We had intended to head for the east coast to explore that area and to be beside the sea, but the forecast was for 70kmh winds - which would not be relaxing either to drive a high sided vehicle in or to sleep in, so we abandoned that plan, and chose to head back south through to Masterton.

On the way we stopped at The Pioneer Museum which is a ragtag collection of all sorts of stuff from years ago - people obviously drop off stuff they think may be of interest. And to be honest, much of it is. Quite a nostalgic place to wander through but there is also a lot of JUNK!! It is similar in scope to the museum I remember going to a couple of times at Claydon, near the Oxford Canal - no longer functioning once the old guy got too old or died. I reckon this one could go the same way soon.

 In Masterton, we had booked to stay at the Mawley Motorcamp, which is close to town, beside the river and very clean and friendly. We invited Trevor, an old school-friend of David's for dinner - he is on a plant-based diet too, so he didn't feel deprived at being served asparagus (with a smear of butter and lemon juice), carrot and beetroot salad plus coleslaw, with strawberries and yoghurt for dessert.

The guys did the dishes over in the kitchen, and clearly there was no other way to carry the bowl back ...

We decided then to head the next day to stay overnight at the Tauherenikau Race Course - a pleasant enough place, but probably better to be there with friends. After Eketahuna and Masterton, it was a bit stark and stony, and the touted bush walk is just the short roadway through the bush to the stables and racecourse buildings. Apparently it fills up for the New Year's Race day and becomes party central, and I reckon that would be fun. However David isn't that keen to re-kindle his former penchant for betting on the horses somehow. 😇

Our original plan had been to come home on Saturday or Sunday, but we thought that it was likely the holiday traffic could be building up on the way out of Wellington (yes, we are able to travel freely around the country here in NZ) given Xmas is just around the corner and lots of people will be taking the last few days off work and heading away. So we came home yesterday - and this time I drove in the driveway frontwards and then reversed back on to the motorhome pad. And I have to confess, it is easier than reversing all the way down the drive - but at least I know I can do it both ways now ...

The new fridge was delivered on Tuesday and last night, Tyrone and Robyn delivered the two boxes of veg and fruit we had ordered that we were going to collect at the market last night - it was raining so they brought it to us instead. Such kind people, they are. I had made cheese scones for them and also gave them a bottle of bubbly to say thank you for all their kindness to us over the last year, in particular during the lockdown when they did deliveries.

This is Sam (short for Samsung), David's fridge. The bottom two drawers are filled with carrots... There's a large bag of beetroots just above the drawers next to the lemons, then the apples and more citrus on the next shelf, then the pumpkin and mushrooms, 3 bottles of home made veg juice. Above that are a couple of bags of cabbage, and broccoli and cauliflower, and on the top shelf are his carrot cake blissballs. The door has jars of almond and cashew butter, celery, parsley, turmeric root, garlic, ginger, shop bought juice for emergencies. Is it any wonder we needed a second fridge?!

Friday 18 December 2020

Family, friends and flooring

Regular readers of this blog may remember that we have changed the flooring in our kitchen and laundry twice in the last few years. OK, so now make that 3 times.

The first vinyl we had put down after we re-did the kitchen. (I have looked for a photo but cannot find one as I cannot remember when we had it laid ...) It was a lovely shiny black vinyl that looked like tiles. It looked great, but showed every single crumb or speck - did you know that almost nothing that gets spilt in a kitchen is black? Black sesame seeds or poppy seeds, but not much else! The last straw with that one was that vinyl these days is not as sturdy as it used to be (cue the violins for the grumpy old woman) - a pot lid that voluntarily jumped out of the below-bench cupboard landed on its edge and split the vinyl. Bugger. So that was an insurance job and it had to be replaced.

We chose another one that, on the sample I saw was shiny, non-dimpled but a marbled white that had black lines and small black squares/diamonds to make it look like tiles. It was going to be great ... But what was laid was NOT shiny and WAS dimpled - it was non-slip vinyl, suitable for old people in one way and very unsuitable in another. Yes, it was impossible to slip on, but its dimpled surface made it collect and hold on to anything that got dropped on it or was brought in on shoes/slippers/bare feet. And having grabbed on to said detritus, it was bloody near impossible to wash without using a pig-bristle broom and Handi-Andi in extremely hot water - which, once said washing was completed, needed to be squeegeed off and rinsed. Life is too short for that kind of malarkey, I declared. How on earth any VERY old person would be able to keep it clean is beyond me. And it too was not sturdy - although I did test it severely (it failed) when I dropped an extremely hot lid of the cast iron pot on it when I got it out of the oven, but didn't have a good grip on it ... My bad, I think.

I could have coped with the split, but trying to keep the damn floor clean drove me nuts - I swept twice a day, but still most of the outside came into the kitchen, and lots of what was being prepared on the bench seemed to end up on the floor. And while I could sweep ad infinitum, I could not get the dirt out from the lower reaches of the dimples, dammit!

Accordingly IT HAD TO GO!!!

So after much considering other options, we decided on tongue in groove recycled matai with a couple of coats of tough polyurethane. One of us is now missing an arm and a leg that were required to pay for it, but it looks fabulous! It will dent, the polyurethane will get scratched; however it stays clean, is easily swept (and nothing much appears to cling to it), if it's got grubby stuff on it, it is hard to see. And best of all apart from how fabulous it looks, it is washed with the squeegee mop that has been dipped in a bucket of warm water with about 10ml of meths. Takes about 7 minutes and dries really fast.

The work was done in part while we were here. But we had to relocate to the motorhome because of the toxicity of the vapour barrier that the guys put on the concrete floor after stripping off the vinyl and grinding the glue off. 

This in Finn scraping off the extremely hard-to-clean, dimpled, pain-in-the-arse vinyl.

The concrete has been sanded and the glue removed. Next was a bright green vapour barrier - toxicity unlimited ...


You will note that when we redecorated the laundry a few years ago, we didn't paint behind the laundry tub ... Naughty!

So we decided that we might as well head away because I have found that it is much easier not to need anything out of the kitchen and laundry when you are 200 miles away from it!

Off we went to Taranaki, leaving Barry and Sandra's campervan NZAreandAre parked in the driveway awaiting their return from points south and Wellington city. We stopped on our way to call in on Denny and Cheryl in Wanganui and managed to spend at least 2 hours chatting and laughing before we headed off to Waitara to stay once again at Waitara Holiday Park with my lovely sister, Dee.

The major reason for going there was that Dee and I were both having birthdays early in December, and her work at the camp and church schedule meant she would not be able to come down for my party. I'm not sure what the christian equivalent is of mountain and Mahomed, but whatever it is, we have more spare time available, so early celebrations were enacted up there.

We went to a beautiful Thai restaurant in New Plymouth one night: Siam Thai Fusion Cuisine. Absolutely delicious food, and they were extremely accommodating for David with his raw vegan diet. (It always disturbs me calling it that as I worry that people think he is eating raw vegans ...) And because it was my early birthday celebration, David had a couple of cooked dishes - but all veg, and Dee paid for us. 

I always enjoy spending time with Dee - she is fun, she is kind and she likes me - what more could I want in my sister? So we had a couple of bouts of gentle retail therapy and a sisters only lunch out at a really lovely Indian restaurant: India Today. It was a bonus because Murray doesn't really like Indian food, and at the moment, David cannot have it as there is very little on the menu that doesn't have fat of some kind, even if it's vegetarian.

Of course the other bonus is that India Today is about 2 doors away from one of my favourite shops Taking Shape. (Of course I just had to get some really smart tops to offset the bargains I had got at The Warehouse the previous day on our totally pragmatic retail day - cheap and cheerful T-shirts for me from The Warehouse, cleaning products for the camp, investigating siding for one of the camp cabins at Mitre 10 and lunch there - well, it would have been rude not to, and David and Murray were both gainfully employed, David on film editing, Murray on camp tasks ..)

And our retail session and lunch were just long enough for Barry, who we had dropped at the Fitzroy section of the world famous New Plymouth walkway, to walk into the city taking stunning photos all the way and do a bit of investigating the museum before I phoned him to see if he was ready to go back and interrupt Sandra who was studiously working in the campervan. You can see his photos here on their blog:  He is an amazing photographer!

The weather was pants, to use an English expression. But still that evening Barry and Sandra came to us for a shared dinner. Being carnivores they were allowed to eat all of the chicken they had cooked ... We shared our salads and I did partake of some of their potatoes - hadn't eaten potatoes for absolute ages! They taught us six handed rummy and I lost convincingly! But it is a fun game and we plan to teach Ann and Salvi and then play when we are together ...

Sandra had set the table and was ready for a drink...

A mean photo as everyone was eating ...

That night, the rain just bucketed down and the forecast was for heavy rain, more heavy rain and even more heavy rain in a belt across the country. In the morning, David and I decided to cut and run for home in case there was flooding that would prevent us doing so later. So we cut short our time in Waitara, and headed off.

The first third of the journey was very difficult - the motorhome is great because you are much higher than most traffic and therefore visibility is increased. But between Bell Block and Stratford we experienced the worst and heaviest rain I have ever driven in. It was a boon to be up high as the spray affected us less. However I was astounded to see cars being driven towards us with no lights on even though visibility was poor. Totally nuts!

I had contemplated stopping and parking up overnight if the situation hadn't improved by the time we got to Hawera. But fortunately, although it was still raining, the heaviness had eased, and from Wanganui to home it was damp but not raining.

While Sandra and Barry's campervan had been in our driveway, I had decided I needed to be able to reverse down the driveway and turn backwards on to the pad beside the garage - it had always been my intention, but I'd been persuaded by Derek and by Luke that going down the driveway frontwards and then reversing from in front of the house would be easier. It isn't hard, but reversing in was my preference. So I had done so while the B&S-mobile was in situ, and I was determined to do it again, just to prove to myself that I could do it more than once. Yes I can, and no roofing, guttering, fence or cabbage trees were harmed during the adventure!

We were home in time to stay in the motorhome again while the floor was being completed because the polyurethane is toxic in extremis - but the finished result looks fabulous.

Isn't that just the business?

We had to wait several days to put the dishwasher, washing machine, fridge and freezer back so the finish would not be damaged. The laundry piled up and dishes got washed by hand. No worries. But the most frustrating thing was having to go out to the garage to get anything from the fridge or freezer ... Such a first world problem, isn't it?

Monday 30 November 2020

And away we went again

 I am sitting in bed at home as I type this looking out the window to the garden. Two recent mornings though we have had totally different views - we had a couple of days away in the motorhome with Denny and Cheryl. They came down in their motorhome from Wanganui and we met at Masterton, had lunch at Dish Cafe and then drove down to Castlepoint. We must have picked the best two days ever to be there from mid arvo one day to just before noon the next: brilliant sunshine, no wind. Just beautiful. And it was such a fabulous time - the weather was wonderful, but even better were the fun and laughter of the whole time. Much hilarity and most if it, to be honest, at Denny's expense for some reason.

After a lot of finagling to get both motorhomes in to the furthest 3 carparks (with much needed and welcomed assistance from John, a fellow motorhomer who came out to assist me and stop me getting jammed between his motorhome and a car on the opposite side of the carpark, while I was doing a 25 point turn between them...) we were finally moored up with habitation doors adjacent to each other, mats down between, chairs out, and a cuppa accompanied by some of Cheryl's yummy home baking.

Cheryl and I went for a walk, leaving Denny having a rest and David mucking about setting up the motorhome - table out, bed made, his clothes away, etc, etc - all the set up things he didn't have time to do before we'd left home, because it seems to take much more time than is available to get the electronics and his clothes packed and laptops backed up, hard drives put in the safe, and all the last minute absolutely critical jobs completed, even if I fill the water tank and disconnect the power cord and wind it up ...

On the way up to the lighthouse, Cheryl is looking back to the village and across the bay, and I can see the tractors for the fishing boats and I can just about see the motorhomes in the carpark over the dune behind them.

The village and the bay

David is down there somewhere - I phoned him when I got to the lookout and he came outside. I saw him but he didn't see me even with the monocular - I know I am short, but even so I swear that at least 1/3 of my height was showing above the barrier ...

At the lookout. Cheryl wasn't keen to come up past the lighthouse. My knees wobbled because I don't like high places, but I made it.

While we were discussing the olden days (the 1970s when David and Denny were teaching at Rutherford Intermediate) a particular name came up, so I googled Bruce P and discovered references for him in NZ up to 2003 and then found a reference to someone with the same name in Scotland. I wrote a short email to that school to see if it was our Bruce P. And when I woke up in the morning I found an email in reply saying yes it was - it is a bugger that we didn't keep in touch throughout the intervening time (although David had been in a lot of contact with him when doing Y2K preparedness for Learning Media – Bruce’s school became their backup site if they needed to get out of Wellington). If we had kept in touch we could have visited him when we were in Scotland several times over the last few years!

This is in the realm of TMI, but was too funny not to share: Ablutions before setting off on a walk the next morning, were a bit fraught for David. 


Masked up to enter the Exclusion Zone after I had used the bathroom. He could have cleaned his teeth first, but he was too slow, and needs must... And to be clear, not all of the hilarity was at Denny's expense - this was fairly and squarely aimed at me...

David and I went off to climb up to the lighthouse and lookout again. This time, I got even more brave and we went down the steps to the flat area that has no boardwalk.

From the lookout back down to the lighthouse - DOC has done a great job on the steps and paths.

At the lookout - north towards Napier behind us.

We were going to walk along down below that bit of rough ground ...

We watched the fishing boat head straight in towards the reef and then, within 30 metres or so, turn starboard and head along beside it. We thought they may be coming into the harbour, but they veered away and headed north.

The steps down to the open ground on the reef - my knees felt quite weak at this point ...

As we walked along the open ground area, keeping WELL away from the edge (i.e. hugging the high side below the steps) we saw that Denny and Cheryl had walked to the lighthouse.

Here we all are! A bit windy this morning - you can tell by Denny's hair!

We discussed calling in on Peter and Warren, so David and Denny practised their teapot stance. Denny is no good at it, but David (who is described by dear friends as the gayest straight man they know) has it perfected.

On our way back down - perfectly blue sky. A brilliant day!

While David and Denny went back to the motorhomes, Cheryl and I continued our walk. Not easy to see in this photo but the big rock formation on the left is called Battleship Rock. Between it and the tall peak is the opening for the tide. There were quite a few surfers there - in their dark wetsuits from a distance they looked like seals bobbing around.

The bow of Battleship Rock - a few people were fishing from it out to the seaward side.

From the sand dune in front of the motorhomes and out to sea.

What a fabulous spot we had!

When we left Castlepoint, we had a change of teams at David's suggestion - Cheryl travelled with me and David travelled with Denny. We lost the guys at one point in Masterton as while stopped for us to get a gas bottle filled, we had mooted the idea that we would find somewhere shaded to have lunch - a suggestion that obviously contradicted the eating at Warren and Peter's. So Cheryl and I found a side street in Masterton that was lined with lovely big trees, lots of shade. We pulled up, turned around and parked and waited for the guys to turn up. But no they did not appear! 

I phoned David - as it transpired they had taken a different way through Masterton (thinking for themselves, dammit ...) and were already south of the town having forgotten the shady area idea. So they stopped and waited for us and, having called ahead, we  drove on to eat our healthy lunches at Peter and Warren's place in Carterton, where three other friends (Bruce, Gary and Les) had not long arrived from Waikanae and Wellington - complete with unhealthy (but yummy-looking) mince and cheese pies. Cheryl brought in pieces of her fruit cake to share. Delicious, and at least it had fruit ... Peter took us on a tour of the garden (beautiful) and gave me rhubarb and David silverbeet.

We were aiming for Morrison's Bush, where there is a farm whose owner allows people to camp in the very large paddock down by the river. The entrance to the farm is rather (very) steep and winding, AND on gravel. A bit spooky to drive down so I engaged the Hill Descent Control button that prevents the engine moving out of first gear - that way I didn't need to use the brakes at all, as brakes and gravel are not a good combination in my book ...

There were three other caravans and motorhomes there, but so much space that it was much like having the place to ourselves. We did see one brave couple getting into the river upstream, and in the evening another couple came for a walk and stopped to chat.

We sat out in the afternoon sunshine, had a little wander around – nothing that qualified as a walk, mind you. Sat out some more. Had drinks outside, ate dinner inside, had morning cups of tea and breakfast for some outside – it’s summer, yay!!

Cheryl and I were quick getting ourselves set up with a drink and nibbles on arrival ... Not sure what took the guys so long.

Across the river

So peaceful in the late afternoon sun.

Dinner chez Meyer

David having breakfast


David is wearing one of my hats because he insisted on packing for himself and forgot to bring his.

David tried to create panic by saying his keys had gone missing. I told him they were in the usual place - the little cubbyhole/shelf inside the habitation door, but he insisted he had looked there and they were not. Photographic evidence was required, so in I went. Yes they were there, and he is lucky he hadn't lost them, because the last time he did so, it cost $160 to replace the ignition key ...

We all headed home with a stop in Greytown first for a late breakfast at a homely old style café (i.e. cheap, good food, no loud foreground-meant to-be-background music …) The staff were lovely - they accommodated David's dietary requirements with such kindness and care.

I tried a selfie but couldn't make it work so only the 3 others feature, but you can tell I was there because my breakfast plate is present.

Big hugs goodbye and off we went our separate ways - we had clearly had the best of the weather when we were moored up, because in both directions the wind was really strong and gusty as we drove home south to and through Featherston and north towards Palmerston North for C&D. It's a bit spooky in a high-sided vehicle when the wind is coming your path. Once we were over the Rimutakas the wind dropped and it was an easy drive.

David and I had to get home to get the house ready for having the kitchen flooring replaced yet again, but more about that soon.

I found this logo on a T-shirt on the net recently. Reminded me of when I used to say that if David was found at the bottom of the stairs in our old house, someone should check his back for footprints ...


Sunday 22 November 2020

Feeling a bit down

 I have been strangely reluctant to write a new post, and am not at all sure why. It has been a strange time in world events over the last several months and has got even stranger in the last few weeks since I posted. I was reluctant to post about the US election in case I jinxed it for Biden/Harris. I needn't have worried - the US has jinxed it for itself, and the dumpster is doing what he always does when thwarted. And Biden will prevail, but I do think the US is no longer a world power with any moral standing. Fifty percent of its citizens have shown themselves to believe white is might and right, and to be perfectly happy to deny anyone 'other' any dignity in being alive. But enough about them, before this becomes an anti-US rant...

The surges in Covid cases, particularly in the US and the UK are extremely worrying, and given that our son and our grandsons and members of my extended family and a number of friends are in the UK it is hard to contemplate that situation with equanimity. At least Tim is living on nb Waka Huia with his partner - somehow that seems safer and I hope I am correct. They are in the Lee Valley and he commutes by train and tube to work - wearing a mask. The grandsons are up in Scotland and I am hoping that they are safer up there than down in England, but I really don't know.

I do worry about the lockdown rules in the UK - I am not sure they are strict enough to bring the spread of the virus under control. But we shall see - infection numbers are still climbing, but we had that here in NZ for the first couple of weeks of Level 4, and it was only in the second two weeks that infection levels flattened and then lowered. My fingers are crossed for all of the people I know and care about, as well as for all of the others I don't.

So it has seemed at a macro-level that there is little pleasant to write about. Of course we DO have Jacinda and her team bigger and better than ever - and that is a cause for much happiness. While our Jacinda billboard had to come down the day before the election, we still have it on display in the lounge! I was going to put the photo in here but I have so many photos on my camera roll that I cannot easily find it, and if I faff about doing so, I will lose the will to live ...

OK, I promise to be more upbeat in the next post, OK? 

Wednesday 28 October 2020

David update: the late October version

 Since I posted about David's 3 month post op PSA test, he has had a further test where the reading had increased by a third from 0.15 to 0.2 - this could be within the margin of error and apparently the level does fluctuate. But when the level gets to 0.2, any cancerous cells can be detected in a PET scan. Bloody hell, this man is proving costly ...

A bit of a false start for having the scan. The first attempt was thwarted because the radioative isotopes hadn't arrived in the country - I think that is what the woman said. But she only said it when we had got up early and driven for 1 hour and 45 minutes in nose to tail commuter traffic (I was going to say rush hour, but it certainly had no rushing, that is for sure) to get there for 8.45am. 

The second time, a week later, because these scans are only done on Thursdays, we went in by motorhome on Wednesday afternoon and stayed overnight at the NZMCA park in Plimmerton - that is more than halfway in to Wellington from here and meant we could rely on the journey being shorter and less stressful. And it was a lovely evening in Plimmerton which required a walk though the village and along the beach.

That's the CROW on the right - facing into the setting sun.

It's a popular place - at $3 a person per night. Your vehicle needs to be self contained as there are no facilities except water and grey and black water disposal.

In the foreground is Mana Island, the sun is going down over the South Island - it looks very close in this light!

Traffic was far less congested this time, so we had plenty of time to spare, and I left David in the motorhome in the Bowen Hospital parking area and walked to the local station - I had an osteopath appointment in the city. Free travel in using my GoldCard, free parking at the hospital - what's not to like except the $3k cost of the PET scan?

We had thought that David would be able to come back to have a lie down in the motorhome while he waited for the radioactive stuff to course through his system, but he texted to say he was in a hospital gown with a gaping rear view and a cannula in his arm, so he was lying down in the hospital ... Wise choice, I reckon!

I got back to the motorhome before David did and made a very late breakfast for us both - lots of fruit for David, who'd had to fast from the night before, and sourdough toast with tomato for me. David somehow found getting back to the motorhome a bit tricky - in spite of it being pretty much in a straight line from the main doors (albeit down a slight hill), he first of all went too many floors down in the lift, then when he finally found the door he'd entered by 3 hours before, he managed to deviate off the route back and found himself going down  to the lower ground part of the hospital again (Bowen Hospital is, unsurprisingly given it's Wellington) built on the side of a hill...) Back up the hill. and then he took the only option left to him and finally found it - considering it was the biggest thing in the carpark, I was a bit surprised he'd not managed it; but on thinking about it, I realised that it was par for the course for an absentminded boffin to not be able to retrace his footsteps.

We had exepcted we would have to wait some time for the results to come through, but they appeared on the medical records website before the weekend. And on Labour Day Monday, a public holiday, we had a call from the urologist to explain.

My apologies if this next bit reads a bit like a project update report … I thought it was probably easier to digest if it was set out like this instead of long paragraphs. And apart from that, it has helped me to clarify the information.

In our Monday afternoon call with the urologist, about David’s PETscan results, he gave us this info:
  • there are cancer cells in a lymph node that is located within the pelvic area, about a couple of inches below the navel.
    • the faint avidity (as it was identified in the scan and reported in the summary of findings) means that the tumour is very very small (the lymph node is no bigger than 5 - 8mm)
    • it is about what he would expect with a PSA reading of 0.2 (my question)
    • he cannot tell whether it was there before surgery or whether it has developed since (David’s question)
  • until PET scans were available, tumours of this size would not have been visible and therefore would not have been treated
    • there is still no statistical evidence that treating them at this early stage increases life expectancy (it’s apparently too soon to have enough data)
  • He is referring David to a radiotherapy oncologist at Bowen Hospital so we can have a consultation with him and get his opinion about whether treatment is advisable and when he would recommend it
    • we will hear from the oncologist soon - time unspecified
  • The urologist is not handing David’s care over to the oncologist
    • he wants to see David in 6 months for a follow up with a PSA test.
I asked the following:
  • given the PSA reading was higher than expected after the surgery, does this mean the cancer is aggressive?
    • His response: well, it’s a grade 3 (not grade 5 - very aggressive) so it’s moderately aggressive, and I expect it will grow, but we don’t know how fast.
      • David’s and my thinking based on his other statements: 
        • because he is planning a follow up consultation in 6 months, it isn’t rampant
        • there’s no need to be panicked into demanding to have radiation
  • given you can tell that we like to have full information, is there anything we have not asked (because we don’t know to ask it) that you can tell us?
    • his response: he laughed, and then said No, not that he can think of;
    • my supplementary request was that if he thought of anything, could he please drop us an email. He agreed he would.
Our plan, formulated since we got off the phone with Rod:
  • Diet:
    • Keep on with the raw veg/fruit/nuts diet, i.e. BIG salads (that are heavy on cruciferous greens) for lunch and dinner, fruit smoothie at breakfast (banana, kiwifruit, mandarin, tamarillo, cranberries, boysenberries or blueberries, cashew nuts, plus wheatgrass powder, amla powder and teff)
    • Keep on with the 1.5 litre of raw veg juice each day
    • Keep on with the supplements as prescribed by Lesley and the Chris Beat Cancer book as recommended by Jaq Biggs
    • no cooked food (apart from mushrooms, tomatoes and homemade 5 seed crackers) until the 3 months is up - on about 1 Jan
      • David plans on staying vegan for the foreseeable future, and he is very happy to do so.
        • he will go back on to coconut yoghurt after New Year, but in limited quantities because he needs to keep his fat intake low
        • I am doing the vegetarian thing which means I can still eat dairy
  • Monitoring PSA levels:
    • David has found out that for $17 a time, he can self refer for PSA tests, so he is going to have them monthly, starting on 5 Nov (last one was on 5 Oct)
  • Oncologist:
    • Have the consultation with the oncologist and get his thinking
    • Before that, we need to 
      • research the effects of radiation on the body, both short and long term
      • identify the information we need from the oncologist so David can decide what he wants to do re radiation yes or no, and if yes, when.

I think that covers it. Any questions, just ask.

By the way, David is in very good spirits -

it is uncertainty that knocks him around; so now he knows what is what and the next steps are sorted, he is chirpy! A bit pissed off he cannot have cheese scones, but apart from that ...

By the way, I am finding the new version of Blogger a bit of a bugger - probably partly explains why I am not posting as regularly. I get grumpy about the photos not appearing where I set the cursor, but showing up at the bottom of the post instead, so I have to move them. Also it used to be that all of the photos I would upload would sit in one place and I could then choose which ones to position where in the post. But now, it loads them into a different window each time. Does anyone else have these hassles? And how have you overcome them? Is it just patience that I am lacking?