1 EAGLETON NOTES: February 2023



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.

Tuesday 7 February 2023

Ferries and Electric Cars.

The Havila Ferry Company in Norway (which has state of the art hybrid ro-ro ferries wandering around pristine fjords for 4 hours on electric motors) has banned carrying electric cars.

Lithium batteries burn longer and hotter than conventional car fires and require thousands of gallons of water to extinguish. That is not something you want sloshing around inside a boat any more than you want a fire in the first place.

I live on an Island 2 ½ hours by ferry from the mainland. 

This could be a problem if the same ban were to be introduced. Given that the ferry company, Calmac, is ultimately owned by the Scottish Government (with it's green ambitions) they could be between a rock and a hard place if the operators decide it's too dangerous. 

I travel from home to Glasgow through the Scottish Highlands where electric charging points are notoriously few and far between and unreliable. Because of that I have absolutely no intention at the moment of buying and electric car anyway. Indeed as they are just becoming slightly more expensive to run (according to my car magazine) and are seriously more expensive to buy, my current chariot may well see out my driving career notwithstanding the ban on new emission-emitting vehicles after 2030.