Tuesday 29 September 2020


 If we were on the boat this year, we would have headed back to Debdale in the last week or so and be packing up, cleaning up and winterising before heading home to NZ. If I remember correctly, we had been booked to fly home very early in October.

We have missed it, being on the boat. I have been reading boating blogs all winter here in NZ, and have often felt quite jealous when I see the lovely photos of familiar places and read of ascending and descending locks and mooring out in the countryside.

This morning I have read Irene and Ian Jameison's post on the Free Spirit blog (Irene's, really...), and they are heading back to base. They will have cruised past Lyndon and Karen on nb Post Box, and Liz and Nigel whose boat name I don't know! I have read Lisa's (and David's) What a Lark latest post, as well as Tony and Helen's nb Holderness latest post. 

All of them have made me feel quite nostalgic.

That is not to say being here in Waikanae has been a struggle; nor was it a struggle being in Hokitika or Nelson, or up in Taranaki, the Hawke's Bay or points in between - in fact it has been wonderful to be here. 

All the same, we have missed being on the boat.

Saturday 19 September 2020

David update

A couple of weeks ago David had his 3 month post operative PSA test, and on Thursday 10 Sept we went to the first follow up with the urologist.

The not very good news is that his PSA reading was 0.15 - that is about 3 times higher than it should be at this stage (i.e. less than 0.05 - basically undetectable), with no prostate gland in situ. It apparently is unlikely to be lingering in the blood this long after the operation. 

Instead the urologist says it is more likely to be micro metastatic foci, i.e. cancerous cells still in the body that will have escaped from the prostate, as the tumour was right at the boundary of the prostate and there were tumour cells on the outside wall. He says it is most likely now in the bone or a lymph gland. When I said to him 'but it’s quite slow growing isn’t it', he said (very seriously) 'mostly, but not always.' 

Bugger, bugger, bugger, bugger!!

Anyway what happens from here is:
  • another PSA test in a couple of weeks,
  • a phone call with him in the following week
  • regular tests - I think he will say 3 monthly, however David wants monthly
  • if the PSA gets up to between 0.2 and 0.5 David will have a PSMA PET scan to see where the cancer cells are located
  • the urologist suggests radiation treatment - spot welding he calls it, to minimise its severity when they can see where the cancer cells are.
    • if it has to happen, then David would reluctantly accept radiation treatment, but he doesn’t want it and nor do I for him because of its effects on the body.

However, we have a plan already in motion, but not as soon as it should have been, dammit!

David is now totally vegan - no dairy, eggs, meat, fish, bread. And mostly he is eating raw fruit and veg, not much cooking happening! 

We had given up meat a few months ago, but did not give up the dairy, eggs, fish, bread, and I am really extremely fucking angry with myself for being complacent - we believed the urologist when he said he would get it all out in surgery and that there would be no reason why there would be any ongoing issues, apart from likely loss of potency. And after the surgery he said it had all gone very well - so that led to more complacency on our part, dammit!

So David is now intensively following the diet recommended in the book Chris Beat Cancer - the food, not the christianity bit:
  • veg juicing with lots of carrots, a raw beetroot, a green apple, a lemon, lots of mint, lots of parsley, root ginger, turmeric root, broccoli, caulk, silverbeet, celery, …
  • big salads twice a day, with lots of green stuff: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, silverbeet, and any other salad veg and fresh herbs we have, plus a dressing of lemon juice, a little honey, wholegrain mustard and turmeric powder. 
  • nuts and seeds in the salads and separately
  • And his favourite beetroot and carrot salad is a staple every day.
  • and yesterday, he started off with a smoothie that will become a daily event with whatever fruit we have on hand:
    • coconut yoghurt, a banana, frozen berries (boysen- and blue-), 1/2 an orange, 1tsp wheatgrass powder, 1tsp turmeric.

Based on guidance from our friend Jaq Biggs who is a herbalist, I had recommended this to our dear friend Lesley when her ovarian cancer reared its head again as secondaries and she was unable to have chemo, told ‘no further treatment, just wait and see’. (Go home and wait to die was how she interpreted that!) So she was keen to try an alternative if the other alternative was go home and grow the cancer some more.

Lesley’s CA125 marker was 51 when she was diagnosed with the secondary cancer, 35 after a few weeks on the diet, and after 9 months it was down to 8. Considering that at the time of the first test at diagnosis of the secondary cancer, she had no ovaries and hadn’t had for about 5 years, that CA125 rate was very high. She has had 2 six monthly CT scans since and they can find no sign of the cancer that was there (shown on CT scan) when she was discharged from hospital.

So, if it worked for her, there is no reason it won’t work for David. He has to stick to it rigidly for 90 days and then he can ease off just a little bit. But not much easing. Because I need/want him around for a long time yet!

If you looked at him, you wouldn’t know there was an issue. He is surprisingly upbeat, and he is enjoying the food so far - he was a bit miffed that he couldn’t have cheese scones the other day, but sees his long term health as more important. 

And don’t worry - when you come to our place for meals, I do still cook, and I will still feed you as befits the reputation of Cafe Rata. However, it’s likely you will also get what you see as your week’s vegetable requirement met in one hit…

Call him if you like but not right now - he’s doing the vacuuming - and it’s important there are no other distractions: he can create those all by himself, and has done - it is over an hour since he said he was going to get on to it right now ;-)

Monday 14 September 2020

Look who's at our place?


That's Jacinda flanked by the cabbage tree and the kowhai!

Agapanthas in front, rhododendron behind, husband (not hers) beside.

Tuesday 8 September 2020

Home and Away and Home again

 It's now 4 weeks tomorrow since we left Hokitika to make our way home due to the resurgence of  COVID-19 in the Auckland community back in August.

Auckland recently moved from Alert Level 3 down to Alert Level 2.5, and the remainder of the country is in Alert Level 2. We are not noticing much difference between Alert Levels 1 and 2 because we aren't engaged in gatherings of any size and we aren't using public transport where mask wearing is mandatory now.

There is one community cluster in Auckland with a sub-cluster associated with it, and fortunately the close contacts are all in isolation and any people who've tested positive are in managed quarantine with their family members. We have had two more deaths which is very very sad. 

We have several cases appearing in returning NZers who all go into mandatory isolation on arrival, are tested at Days 3 & 12, and if either test is positive, they are moved into a quarantine facility to recover and be managed tightly.

I have been working steadily since we got home, and fully expected the assignment to finish on Friday last week. However more tasks were assigned to me and so I am still well occupied. 

Because we expected to be clear of work last week, we decided to head up to Taranaki to see Dee and Murray, my sister and b-i-l. Murray's stem cell transplant has proved successful after a fair time of waiting and seeing. So yay!!! We had to go on a visit, of course! So we had a lovely weekend with them - and Murray is looking amazingly well! 

The shared meals that Dee and I cook up are always well received - it comes from years of cooking together at the bach and for both of us, cooking for crowds since then. Dinner 1: Chickpea and veg curry and rice, macaroni cheese. Morning tea 1: cheese scones, Dinner 2: corned beef with mustard sauce, cauli and broccoli with cheese sauce, carrots with honey and almonds, mash.

On the first morning though, David got up to make a cup of tea and complained that I was once again trying to kill him ...

It's not true that I was trying to do him in. However when I transferred the favourite mugs from the kitchen to the motorhome, I was also wanting to carry the elastic, needles and thread for changing the ties on my homemade mask to elasticated bands. The mug was an easy carrying receptacle and useful for storing them while I collected and transported other critical items. He is so untrusting!

David and Ollie (Murray and Dee's grandson) played tag. Ollie thought he would easily catch David ...

but David has age and cunning on his side and a mean sidestep! Where they are playing, by the way, is the camping area at Waitara Holiday Park that Dee, Murray, Kurt and Charlotte so ably manage. In the summer this area is filled with tents and vans. It is lovely and free form with no spaces laid out, just find a space and set yourself up.

Ollie recovering from not being able to catch David, David recovering from more running than he's done since he played similar tricks on the grandsons in the UK! I took these photos from the door of the motorhome. You can see the powered sites that are at the edge of the large camping field.

Then we had a night with Jim and Judy in Onaero (yummy lamb rack for dinner, and lemon meringue pie for dessert - beaut!), followed by two nights in Pukawa with Adair and John (curry one night, and lovely little open vegetarian pies** the next - with David's beetroot and carrot salad). **If you want the recipe, let me know.

As we left the shores of Lake Taupo, I stopped so David could go back and take this photo. I could see the mountains in my side mirror and could not let the photo opportunity pass. The mountains are up on the Central Plateau: Ruapehu, Ngaruahoe, and Tongariro.

On the Taupo Napier Highway, somewhere in the ranges or on the plain between them, the odometer ticked over to 20,000 kilometres. We did 1000 of them on this trip.

The last three nights away from home were in Waimarama with Chris and Willie and their dog Carlos. 


David and Willie with Carlos - he is a lovely wee dog who apparently doesn't like having his photo taken.

My wine glass is empty! What is that about? Carlos did leave very shortly (within milliseconds) of this photo being taken.

The food there was great too - mushroom pasta and salad, then when friends came for dinner the next night we had massaman beef curry (made by Willie) and chickpea and vegetable curry (made by me), dessert was an apple tart Nico made and poached pears with cream. The next day we had left over curry for a late lunch and then toasted sandwiches for dinner.

It may have been that he was busy talking or it may have been that he was suffering from the overindulgence of the night before, but Chris was serving pears into his mug. Doh!

All dinners were accompanied by far too much wine, so I am on a no wine week right now!

On a drive out to visit some of Chris and Willie's friends (Angela and Richard, and Jeanine) we stopped before a one way bridge to give way to a horse and rider. Lovely!

For this trip, because I was working, David was in charge of packing the motorhome ... I think he now realises what a mission it is to get everything that is required taken from the house and stored in a suitable place in the motorhome. Needless to say, we travelled to Waitara with quite a lot of stuff sitting on the bed rather than in cupboards. But as, by Saturday morning after a breakfast out with the guys in Waikanae, David still had the electronics to finish packing and his clothes to get started on, I put away a fair amount of stuff and packed his clothes for him too. It was the least I could do, given he'd relieved me of the burden of the big transfer of household goods into the vehicle the day before! I was very grateful not to have to do it.

It should be an easy task - and it would be if we had two sets of favourite pillows and two winter duvets, one of which could be left in situ, but we don't. The same goes for sharp knives, and favourite mugs. And we tend to keep the bed linen and towels in the airing cupboard inside ...

And then there's the food and the wine, and the sourdough bread I take up to Dee.

Apart from the financial reward of my working, I think it's worth carrying on with it, especially prior to a road trip, so I can avoid the packing task ...

I did a bit of work while we were away - a few meetings using Microsoft Teams - I hate to praise Microsoft (being a Mac user) but MS Teams is a really good app for running video meetings! I documented the outputs from the meetings at various times between holidaying and eating and drinking...

I had a meeting at 1pm on Monday, so we had to come straight home from Waimarama with no stops for morning tea or lunch, dammit - we passed some nice cafes on the way! So we have decided another trip away a bit closer to home is called for when the work is complete. There were a few local museums, cafes, interesting buildings that look to be worth exploring - I will consult Jenny's Romany Rambler blog for a comprehensive list, because she and Robin always find the quirky and the unusual and often quite prosaic but interesting things to see and do!

Two meetings yesterday - one about Lessons Learned and one for developing the schedule for two new projects. Lots of documenting arising from both meetings and I was a tired bunny!

We had dinner (fondant potatoes - look up Nadia Lim's recipe - blue cod sauteed in butter, lemon juice and parsley, and stir-fried vegetables), a glass of kombucha and then I was ready for bed!

David was tired too - he had done a lot of outside work, including raking up the blooms from the neighbour's magnificent magnolia and one of our rhodos and spreading them on the garden as mulch. He had started off the day cleaning the motorhome concrete pad - he had intended to use his dad's waterblaster but it was kaput, so it was a hose, broom and detergent job. He finished up, just before dinner, almost in the dark, mowing the front lawn.

And what a good man he is, he did the dishes and then vacuumed the kitchen floor - using his new toy that he purchased in Hokitika for use in the motorhome...

I will leave you with these memes:

So cool!

Manson, methinks ...