Thursday, 16 March 2023


I'm in Glasgow. It's cold, wet and windy. Sometimes I just yearn for some sun.

I was supposed to leave the Island on Monday with hospital appointments on Wednesday in Glasgow for a bone scan and cancer trial review and my operation to change my uretic stent tomorrow (Friday) in Ayr. I always plan to leave early just in case of ferry delays.

Because of the weather the ferry was seriously disrupted and I eventually got away at lunchtime on Tuesday and drove the 270 miles to Glasgow that afternoon/evening. So I got to my appointments yesterday.... just.  The only delay being a half hour extra to get through roadworks in Glasgow which I need to go through every time I leave Anna's for just about anywhere. Not to mention that it took me over 30 minutes to find a parking place within walking distance of the the appointment. So I was late. Anyone who knows me knows that one thing I cannot cope with is lateness. I can probably count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I've been late in my life. Either that or I have a selective memory! 

For various reasons I have flown down to hospital for my previous two visits to the Mainland. However, I have developed a serious dislike of air travel. Not planes which I quite enjoy but airports. In fact not airports per se but security queues, boarding pass queues, queues, queues and more queues. And waiting. Lots of waiting.

I'm seriously thinking of becoming an Island recluse. Of course that's not practical if I want the NHS to keep me alive (which, thank heaven, they seem keen to do) or do a myriad of other things. 

But as I write this sitting waiting for my car parking camera to be sorted by the dealer and have time to think, I just want to be back in The Woodlands with friends having coffee and saying how fortunate we are.

Sunday, 12 March 2023

It's Oh So Quiet!

 It’s oh so quiet.

I can’t believe how much background noise there was in the house. The washing machine and the tumble drier are in an annex to my kitchen. The ‘kitchen’ is the room where I tend to live and write all my letters and emails and posts etc and generally do things because it is a lovely room with a fabulous view. It’s not a noisy room unless there is an Easterly or North-Easterly hammering rain onto the windows. Of course there are the sounds that you don’t hear consciously: the fan over the cooker or a kettle boiling or the many other subliminal sounds which we do not hear or rather which our brain filters out including computer, phone and gadget warning noises. For many years I’ve had tinnitus. I don’t hear it because if I did I’d probably go mad. But when all the other noises stop I realise just how noisy the tinnitus is and I want it to go away or rather I want something as a distraction.

I used the past tense because an hour ago from the time I am writing this the house went absolutely quiet. Not a single sound could I hear. The sudden quiet was deafening.

The power went off. I still had a 3G (instead of 4G) signal so immediately went onto the app of the electricity generating company. There was no indication of a fault in the area. Messages on WhatsApp told me I wasn’t alone though so I reported the outage.

Then the phone signal went off as well.

Since then there’s not been a sound in my house because, for once, there’s not a breath of air outside either.

My emergency generator is kaput as well and I’ve put off getting a new one. After all, power cuts these days are rare.

I have plenty of light and emergency gas heating and a big camping stove.

So I think I’ll get myself some lunch.

It’s now an hour since the power went off and it’s returned. It’s possible that if there is a major outage off the Island or the subsea cable has been severed again then the Island’s old huge diesel generators have been started up.

I can now hear odd sounds again. We have power. It was or maybe still is for many a major outage. Looking at the map it would indicate that there is a supply break on Skye. It would not be the first time we have been affected by a power line down in Skye because our supply come across Skye and under the sea to Harris and up overland to the main distribution station outside Stornoway.

Thursday, 23 February 2023

Cyclone Gabrielle: New Zealand

A week or so ago I intended to write about the catastrophe that was caused by Cyclone Gabrielle as it tore through much of North Island between February 6th and 16th. 

My first reaction was, obviously, the wellbeing and safety of my friends and The Family as the cyclone made it's way through Northland and right down the country until it largely blew itself out over Wellington. 

Fortunately although one family was evacuated for the day none of my friends or The Family were hurt or suffered serious damage although some were without electricity for many days. 

However the damage done to property and communications is enormous and will take years to repair. 

I was initially surprised at how little coverage there was in the UK and then I realised that however much devastation and heartbreak and loss of property and livelihoods there was there were, thankfully, few lives actually lost. Compare those figures with Turkey and Syria and the war in Ukraine and they are hardly 'newsworthy'. We have become almost inured to the horrors of war and catastrophes and, well, a cyclone is just strong wind and the UK has had a few of those in recent history.

However in New Zealand a State of Emergency was declared for only the third time in the Country's history. The first was after the 2011 Christchurch Earthquake and the second was at the start of the Covid 19 pandemic.

As I write this I think 11 people have died and 'many' are unaccounted for partly because communications in some parts of the country have been destroyed. The damage is mind-blowing given that communications including roads, electricity and radio communications and thousands of acres of wineries and agricultural land and many businesses are very badly damaged. 

The Family hold a dental clinic in the little town of Wairoa in Hawkes Bay about 50 miles from where The Family lives. It was cut off completely but can now be reached with great difficulty and only by a 9 hour road journey from The Family's home. It could be a very long time before all the road communications are reinstated simply because of the number of landslips and lost bridges. That is one tiny example.

I could show a thousand photos but many will have seen some in the media and on social media and most will mean nothing to people who don't know the areas. They will be 'just' more disaster images. In Hawkes Bay there are at least 100 emergency distribution centres with local volunteer staff and a huge mobilisation of people just helping get mud out of properties.

I'm not going to publish lots of photos but if you want to see the scale of the devastation and misery there is information with images on stuff.co.nz and INews.

However this is the Expressway between Napier and Hastings which, as you can see, has been devastated. There is at the moment only one road between the two adjacent areas and one of the staff at the dental practice in Hasting took two hours to get the few miles home yesterday. 

As Fi who lived in and through the Christchurch Earthquakes said on my last post "The loss, homelessness, insurance battles, and ongoing fear of it happening again.... sigh."

My thoughts go out to everyone in the areas affected -  Kia kaha, kia maia, kia manawanui.

Sunday, 19 February 2023

Blogland and "Real Life"

It had been my intention this month to spend a lot more time in Blogland. Unfortunately my "other" life has been dominant. I was going to say my "real" life but in truth Blogland has been a very important part of my life, real or otherwise, since 2007 right through my New Zealand life and through the thick and thin. I have also made some of my most important friends through Blogland and despite the fact that I don't see many of my New Zealand friends in person now we are still in touch frequently. Indeed during these awful times for New Zealand we have all been in touch a lot.

Other friends I've met through Blogland but whom I've never met in person have become a significant part of my life too - you know who you are and I thank you for that friendship. It's one of the things that keeps me in Blogland even though a few of us are in contact outside of Blogland and Monica and I still play Words With Friends (Scrabble) every day which we have done now for, I think, 10 years. Kate and I communicate daily too and have been in touch since a day (which I remember well) lost in the mists of time but which I could go back to in my New Zealand blog.  Gosh, tempus fugit

My Blogs are also my memories. 

This was actually going to be a post about New Zealand but that will have to wait because there are far too many other things on the agenda today and I want to do it justice.