1 EAGLETON NOTES: November 2011



Monday 14 November 2011

Christmas Reindeer

I know that I'm in New Zealand but one of the advantages of Blogland is that it is virtual and non-geographic in its reach.  So if I didn't tell you then you would have no idea where I am.  Sorry about the  mixing up of tenses.  Anyway I read Librarian's post Salzburg Sunrise this morning.  The last photo is of a reindeer in a very proud or haughty pose.  It's full of life.  When I saw that it made me realise what a dull and pedestrian structure is the one in Argyle Street in Glasgow which I photographed the day before I left for New Zealand.  With a little bit of thought it could have been so much better.

Sunday 6 November 2011


I’m writing this in Auckland’s Domestic Terminal with a couple of hours to wait for my flight to Napier.  The flight from Hong Kong was completely uneventful: just how a long-haul flight should be!  So what is there to tell you?  Unsurprisingly the answer is ‘nothing’.  The odd thing is that when I was sitting on the plane waiting to disembark I thought of all sorts of things to say.

When I got to Immigration I realised what makes entering NZ so special compared with any other country I’ve been to - including the UK!.  It’s the friendly welcome.

Having come through the Biosecurity checks quickly and painlessly I was out in the sun walking between International and Domestic: a walk I have done at least twice a year since 2005. It is a walk which, for some inexplicable reason, I feel is the proper start of my journey home and not just a journey between countries.

Things are different in New Zealand.  Domestic flights are still like they were between Glasgow and Lewis in the Good Old Days ie about 25 years ago when security as we know it today was unnecessary, where the same staff greeted you at the airport year in and year out and therefore knew you.

Mind you there are still moments like that at Stornoway.  A few years ago when I was travelling weekly between Stornoway and Glasgow for several months I walked towards the check-in desk and as I approached it the person behind the desk already had my boarding pass prepared and gave it to me with a ‘I’ve given you your favourite seat again, Mr Edwards’.

A couple of years ago as I boarded the Auckland to Napier flight for the last leg of my journey home to Napier and was welcomed on board with ‘Graham, you’re back. Wonderful’ and a chat before I took my seat. The flight attendant is a lady (I nearly said girl’ which to me she is but I realise that that isn’t PC these days) from nearby whom we know.  How special and at home does that make you?

 So my next posting should be as a Hebridean in New Zealand.  See you there - I hope.

Saturday 5 November 2011

Hong Kong

Well that was undoubtedly the best $10 US I’ve spent for a long time.  Possibly since the last time I was in Hong Kong International airport.  For the $10 you get access to a lovely clean, powerful shower and bathroom/washroom facilities with all the toiletries including tooth brush and paste all provided.  I feel like a new man.  Come to think of it that’s how my last partner felt: like a new man.  Leastways that’s what she acquired!  But I digress.

The flight from LHR was a dream.  I do love Air New Zealand. The seats are roomy and comfortable.  I had decided to pay for an upgrade but when I realised that the new seat configuration was only on the flights via LA I withdrew.  The seats in Premium are not that much better than the Economy seats and my legs aren’t that long since I got older and shrunk an inch or so.

So, after a wander around the commercial concourse, I now have 15 minutes to re-board for the next 11 or 12 hours to Auckland.

It seems quite strange to be sitting here in Hong Kong knowing that my son Gaz and his girlfriend Carol are not that far away and will be following me the day after tomorrow.

Another reason that I love Hong Kong Airport is that it has free wi-fi internet access so whilse I am waiting I can read some of the 30 emails I see have arrived since I left the UK and perhaps catch a blog or two or even write an email.  After all there is 10 minutes to boarding!

I hope the rest of my Blogger friends are as happy as I am at the moment.

Friday 4 November 2011

The First Leg

That’s the first leg completed.  Anna deposited me at Glasgow Airport and after a trouble-free passage through the airport the plane arrived in Heathrow (hereinafter referred to as LHR, sorry, I love the word ‘hereinafter’.) 15 minutes early.  It then took me almost as long to make my way from British Airways’ Terminal 5 to Terminal 1 from whence my flight leaves for Hong Kong and Auckland at 2105 tonight.  So I have nearly 5 hours in which to experience the pleasures of Terminal 1.  It’s a while since I have been in this terminal but I remembered my way around and am ensconced by a computer and phone charging point.  This will keep me topped up for a while.

Hopefully I’ll be able to keep you updated.

The Journey

In an hour or so I shall be leaving Anna's for Glasgow airport.  I shall fly to London Heathrow from there and this evening I fly with Air New Zealand to Hong Kong (where my son Gaz and his girlfriend Carol are at the moment) where I shall avail myself of that lovely airport's showers to freshen up before the flight continues to Auckland from whence I shall fly to Napier and my other home.  The first leg from London to Hong Kong is about 5700 miles (9170 Km) and the Hong Kong to Auckland leg is about 5900 miles (9500 Km).  I should manage a bit of reading over the next 48 hours!

I Nearly Did It

Gaz and Carol bought me a Times 2 Jumbo Crossword Book earlier in the year.  I really enjoy doing crosswords with my morning coffee or lunch.  I have just completed No. 56.  Well, almost completed.  The thing about general knowledge crosswords for me is being able to complete all the questions to which I know, or should know, the answer.  There are, however, answers which I will never get however much thinking I do.   In those circumstances I just grin and bear it and look the answer up.  With such large crosswords I rarely get 100% of the answers although I did manage a complete one earlier in the week.  However No 56 defeated me by two questions: An Australian Fish in 10 and an old chestnut which defeats me every time: A Long-short metric foot in 7.  The answer to the first was BARRAMUNDI and the second was TROCHEE.  I'm hoping that now I've blogged about it I will remember 'trochee' next time it crops up - as it inevitably will.

Thursday 3 November 2011

Thankful Thursday

Well life is full of surprises.  I expected today to be a very ordinary day.  I wanted a new camera bag.  Easy.  Anna had booked lunch at The Rogano (which is reputed to be one of Glasgow's premier restaurants).  This evening Anna had booked seats at The Citizens Theatre (with no apostrophe!) to see A Day in the Death of Joe Egg.

However when I looked at my cellphone this morning I saw a text asking what I was doing today.  I duly supplied the information requested pondering as to why a friend from France would make such an enquiry.  The response was a 'querie as to whether I would like to meet for coffee this afternoon.  Gosh.

So I spent this afternoon in the company of Viv who was in Scotland for a few days - a decision taken on a spur of the moment whim as she was in the UK for a few weeks visiting family.

The acting in the play this evening was serious and light and funny all at the same time.  Quite an accomplishment when dealing with such a subject and dialogue.

So today I am thankful for wonderful surprises and enjoyable nights out.

The First Leg

Everything went so well until the last half hour before I left.  Then everything caught up with me. 

My main case had been packed since Friday.  No problems.  It only weighed 18.4k even with my 'Glasgow' stuff in it. That's 2 k lighter than when I went to France a few months ago.  By the time I leave for NZ my case will probably only weigh about 16k.  Bizarre.  It is accounted for by the fact that I'm not going on holiday (where I have difficulty travelling sans kitchen sink), I'm changing houses (both of which have a kitchen sink).

Stornoway Airport security staff had become notorious on the Island for their officious and unpleasant attitude and the fact that getting through security there was a worse ordeal even than a trip through Los Angeles Airport (voted worst airport in the world by most travellers I know).  My case has been packed with precision and care given that it contains a computer (not my Apple laptop I have to add, camera equipment and so on) and the thought of having to unpack it (at Stornoway there are random searches of hold luggage because there is no x-ray there for large cases) was the stuff of nightmares.  Figuring that the earlier I arrived at the airport the greater the chance of my case being chosen, I arrived just before close of check-in.  It worked!  A few years ago when I travelled out through the airport 9 times in 9 consecutive weeks my hand luggage was gone through on 8 of those 9 occasions.  This time I got through without challenge at all.  Not only that but there had been, I think, a complete change of staff since I last went through earlier this year.  Better still, the lady putting things through the x-ray actually said 'Hello'.  Amazing.

The gales that has swept up the Island for a few hours had abated and the flight was very calm.  I was lost in though as we came in to land in Glasgow and actually got quite a surprise when we hit the ground - in an perfect landing.

If the rest of the journey goes that well I'll be in for a very pleasant time.

Wednesday 2 November 2011

Does Stress Make You Sleep?

I think that these days I'm pretty unstressed although other people may see a me that I don't see.  The subject of MRI scans is topical.  I've had quite a few over the last twelve years.  I'm fortunate that they don't worry me: consciously at any rate.  So I have a habit of falling asleep during full body scans.  

I'm not worried by dentists either.  So I also had to be woken up when I was having a root canal treatment.  As the Dentist so correctly pointed out, he couldn't work on a patient who couldn't keep his mouth open.  There's a certain irony there because I'm usually being told that I can't keep my mouth shut! 

So am I really stressed and sleeping to escape or not stressed and just, well, sleeping.  

Ah well.  Back to ironing the bedding.  All's going to plan......so far.

No More Sleeps

Well today is the day I leave Eagleton on the start of my trip for my other life in New Zealand.  Gaz and Carol are ensconsed in Hong Kong for the week.  For those of you who have been asking their Quantas flight left on time and wasn't even full.  Given that it was the first flight to HK from Heathrow after the strike, that must tell us something.

The first wash of my bedding is in the machine and I just have some final cleaning and tidying to do so that friends/family who use the house while I am away don't walk in and say 'He doesn't dust his skirting boards' (You know who you are!!).  

The weather lady this morning said that by 8am there would be sunny skies even over the Hebrides.  Well that sure ain't the case so far.  It's dull, damp and dreach.  Gales are forecast for this afternoon.  That'll mean a bumpy flight.  Oh well.  So long as it stays up in the air when it's meant to and comes down at the right time I'll be happy.
So this morning I've been catching up on Adrian's Blog while the washing machine is doing what my Grandmother would have been doing in the washing cellar under the house (by the time I was born the days of someone to that sort of thing for her were over).  I have taken the liberty of pinching one of his photos for a number of reasons.  Firstly I think a post can be just that bit more entertaining if it has a photo; particularly a superb one like this.  Secondly I think Adrian's Blog is always worth a read but the post from which I borrowed this photo is a particularly good read.  Thirdly I think that we should all look carefully at what that photo is portraying because for every one of us (and I'm being presumptuous here that my readers are all from economically developed countries) owes our current wealth, in a large part, to these men.  Without the miners to provide coal for power there would have been no industrial revolution.  And that's just the start.  Oh dear.  I'm in just the right mood for a rant and I've run out of time.  Probably just as well.

Tuesday 1 November 2011

The Use of Superlatives

I usually switch on the TV a while before The News because if I don't switch it on I'm apt to forget.  So I switch on and usually go to mute.  The programme before The News is Pointless.  The compère is given to completely pointless superlatives on a regular basis and I have to say that I find it quite devalues everything that he says.  His usual is 'you've been brilliant fantastic contestants' to almost every contestant who managed to get bombed out without winning.  Yesterday he managed to make the statement that the jackpot had reached an (emphasising) 'unbelievable £5000'.    Which, in fact, seems to me to be an entirely believable sum.

This evening I decided that I could watch it with the sound on because I had a bit of ironing to do and I thought that I might get a post out of it!  Luck was with me because so far today he's not said 'brilliant' or 'fantastic' and the £6250 jackpot was announced without any emphasis at all.  Someone has, I think, had a word with him!

Morning Over Callander

After the wedding in Callander I woke up to a beautiful morning as seen from the bedroom window of my lodgings: