1 EAGLETON NOTES: March 2016



Thursday 31 March 2016

Sculptures in Emerson Street

In March 2010 a scuptress made an art deco figurine of a lady with a dog and it's home is in the semi-pedestrianised art deco building adorned Emerson Street in Napier, New Zealand. At the time I blogged about it on my other blog. When I returned this year I discovered an addition: a youngster waving to her from one of the canopy supports. 

By the way I don't think that the chap second from the left in the top picture is Jeremy Corbyn.

Wednesday 30 March 2016

Be Happy

I don't think that I've ever shared a public video before on this blog. Jaz shared this on Facebook and it made me realise not just the power of laughter but the beauty it brings. Look at the change in the faces of those who smile. Jaz has always been an inspiration to me. Which reminds me that I really should start some more Thankful Thursday posts. By the way you will need a little patience: it takes a short while before the text below turns into the video.

Posted by Silvia Rodrigo Gella on Monday, 29 February 2016

Monday 28 March 2016

Where is Home?

Home is such an emotive word. It can conjure up so many ideas and so many emotions and, of course, it tends to vary with cultures and individuals. 

This morning I woke early and read a blog post by Katie Macleod.  Katie, who hails from Lewis and whose parents live in this township of Eagleton, is the journalist, traveller and expat Scot (living in the USA) behind the blog Stories My Suitcase Could Tell.

The post I read this morning was entitled What Happens When an Expat Goes Home and it was followed by another post with a short travel video biopic of her home: The Hebrides.

I've written about home before and I recalled ending a post in 2013 with the words "My birthplace was entirely beyond my control.  Where I choose to call my home isn't.  Whatever my nationality may be on my passport I am a Hebridean Kiwi in my heart."

To me Home is Lewis. It is where my heart returns from wherever I happen to have been. It is where, when the plane touches down, I know I belong. It's where, when the ferry arrives I drive onto the soil that will claim me when I'm gone. There is no logical rhyme or reason to that because, although I've lived here the majority of my life,  I was born and brought up elsewhere. But I have no family, friends or any emotional bond to the place of my birth. I have all of those things here on Lewis.

However, having spent, nearly 10 years living 6 months in New Zealand and 6 months at home here on Lewis the subject of my emotional home is one that has often been in my thoughts. Oddly when I left Napier for my first journey home after living there for 6 months I was very emotional just as I was when the plane landed on Lewis where I felt that I was Home and that was it. As the years went on the emotions for both places got stronger when I arrived and left each one. However because I always expected to return the emotions stabilised. I was always going to see the other again.

Until, that is, I had an enforced longer period back home on Lewis over the last two years. I’ve just returned from 6 weeks instead of 6 months in New Zealand. Whilst I was there it was as if I’d never been away. I felt that I could happily live there. But when I left I just got on the plane and left. It was hard leaving friends and The Family but all of a sudden it was somewhere I had visited and not my second home.

The plane set down on Lewis and it was as if I’d never been away. That’s how I think it will always be from now on. Time will tell.

What does home mean to you? 

Saturday 26 March 2016

It's All My Fault and I've Fallen in Love

It's Friday. Good Friday. Not good weatherwise. It's been blowing a gale. It's Heather's birthday today. Sorry Heather. In all my travels I forgot to send a card. Mea culpa. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa. (I may be atheist but I did the spot of Latin and went to a few Roman Catholic services in my time). In my defence life has been very full on and very full of people since I arrived back in Scotland and even more so since I arrived home to visiting friends ensconced in Tigh na Mara. Not that I haven't enjoyed it all. I have. But it's been a challenge trying to find time to do 'things' in between eating bacon rolls at Café Torino and The Woodlands and eating Anna's and Sue's meals. I haven't cooked a meal since I left Napier.

I still haven't even begun to think about my remaining New Zealand  blog posts. New Zealand seems so long ago and so far away. Well, of course, it is far away. And before I know it it will be long ago. I miss The Family and my friends there dreadfully. I miss the heat and the sun.

It's cold and wet and very windy here and I can feel everyone looking at me and saying "It's your fault. We were having a lovely spell of weather until you set foot on the tarmac."

I now have two weeks to get myself straight and fit before I go into hospital for a knee replacement. I never cease to be amazed at what can be done to keep us alive and kicking.

Oh and when I was in NZ I fell in love - again. This time, however, it was a much safer sort of love from some of my past encounters. A friend was working in Australia whilst I was in New Zealand and lent me her car. I had never driven one before. I hope that I drive one again.

And as if one kindness wasn't enough when I reluctantly gave it back a couple of days before I returned, another friend lent me his. People can be very kind.

Saturday 19 March 2016

Back in Scotland

However you look at it it's a long flight from New Zealand to Scotland. I left Wendy and Martin's at around noon on Wednesday 16 March NZ time and arrived at Anna's in Glasgow around noon on Thursday 17 March UK time. NZ is 13 hours ahead of Scotland so the journey took 37 hours. Of that about 28 hours was spent on planes and the rest in terminals and lounges and cars.

In my early long haul travelling days I never slept and between the two countries I actually read each of the books The Glass Palace and Wild Swans on two single journeys. (Two books that I would heartily recommend). This time I slept 6 or 7 hours on the leg from Melbourne to Dubai and another couple of hours on the leg from Dubai to Glasgow. I am extremely fortunate in that I have never suffered, as many people do, from jetlag.

For many years I flew Air New Zealand and felt a considerable loyalty to the airline but their insistence on trying to route me via LA (my preference being Hong Kong) and latterly with no code-share partner between Glasgow and London travel became irritating. So about 5 years ago I did something I'd not done since 2005 and trawled the other carriers for fares. I discovered that Emirates not only flew direct from Glasgow (removing the need to transit via Heathrow) but were about half the price of Air New Zealand. I've been flying with them ever since. 

My preferred eating on the journey:

The first priority yesterday (and today!) was to go to Café Torino for a bacon roll breakfast. Bacon rolls seem impossible to get in Napier so I was really wanting one and their bacon rolls are superb: good bacon on a good quality crusty-topped roll washed down by excellent coffee. 

What do Emirates and Café Torino have in common? Excellent, friendly staff.

Wednesday 16 March 2016

Wellington Water Bombing

I'm sure that most places in the world discourage such pursuits as water bombing in a public place such as a harbour inlet in the city centre. Not New Zealand. Not Wellington. The city has actually constructed special platforms to enable it to happen. And people have lots of fun taking advantage of it and watching too.


Tuesday 15 March 2016

Six Quick Weeks

It is just over six weeks since I left Scotland. It's been six strange weeks. Very little has gone to plan: Pauline and I didn't have our planned safari and other visits I'd planned for last week were cancelled because I ended up in the Emergency Ward about 10 days ago with an infection and some other odds and ends I won't bore you with. The last week has had its ups and downs but I'm now feeling okay and the doc has pronounced me fit to fly. In a few hours I will leave Napier and by 2100 hours I should be in the air on the way back to Scotland via Dubai and a short stop in Australia. I arrive back in Scotland on Thursday (UK time) and on Lewis on Tuesday the 22nd.

Please don't think I've not had an great time. I have. It's just not been the time I intended. Instead I fell back into my usual life here. It has been good. I've cemented some friendships and, because I've been staying with The Family, my time with them has been wonderful.

I had intended to do almost daily blog posts but, despite masses of material, that just hasn't happened and I seem to have spent very little time in Blogland. Ironically last week when I cancelled travel plans and therefore had more time to blog, the infection and the cure (which of the two was worse I'm not sure) left me nauseous and lethargic.

So you may be getting posts about New Zealand for a while to come.

In the meantime I'll leave you with Max Patte's Solace in the Wind on the Wellington waterfront. Somehow that wasn't the title I had in mind (the significance of 'wind' by the way is, I assume, because Wellington is known as The Windy City).

Wednesday 9 March 2016

An Unusual Museum

Most museums are devoted to informing people of things to be remembered or conserved. Opossum World in Napier is probably the only Museum in the world currently devoted to the extermination of a living creature: in this case the Opossum.

Its slogan is: Save a New Zealand tree. Buy Opossum fur products.

The imported Australian Opossum which was estimated (in 2008 when I last posted on the subject) to number 70 million in New Zealand eats an estimated 21 tonnes of foliage (mainly the young branch shoots of trees) each night - New Zealand's ecological nightmare.

Saturday 5 March 2016

A Visit To Kate

On Thursday I arrived at Kate's in Tauranga. I can't remember when exactly we first met and became friends although I could look it up because it's well documented on my other blog. It was some years ago anyway and since then there have been Aftermases and her son James has visited me on Lewis

We went to McLaren Falls Park on Thursday afternoon.

Yesterday I wanted to walk round the base of Mount Maunganui which is an extinct volcanic cone that rises above the town. I have tried on many occasions before but whenever I've been here the walk has been closed at some point because of landslips or ongoing path works. Now it is a complete path and is even wheelchair accessible. So that was another item of my bucket list (or rather it would be if I had a bucket list).

Mount Maunganui was absolutely alive with thousands of schoolchildren who had converged on the town from all over New Zealand adding to the general tourist population.