Autumn /Winter 2020

Autumn and Winter 2020 in New Zealand


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Corona with Kelly

The temperature at night gets down to single figures but if the sun is out it warms up to the low 20's during the day and it doesn't change that much even in mid winter.

Our good neighbour Kelly decided to self isolate to protect us during the corona pandemic but before she did we shared a Corona beer together as the adjacent photo demonstrates.

New Zealand introduced lockdown earlier in the coronavirus pandemic than most countries so at the time of writing we are into the third week of lockdown. There are 1312 cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand; 15 people in hospital, 422 people have recovered, and four people have died..
Most cases are due to returning Kiwis and it was a mistake not to quarantine returnee's rather than trusting them to self quarantine which has belatedly now been rectified.
PM Jacinda Adern will review wether to end the lockdown on 20th April.

I visited a local supermarket the other day and after parking walked towards the end of a very long queue until a Maori guy told me to join the queue in front of him. After about 5 minutes a blonde lady came up to me and said I should go with her to the front of the queue. I asked her why and she said because she had seen me there and had asked the security guy at the entrance if I could get priority because of my age and he agreed so I was escorted to the front of the queue. I must be starting to show my age but Kiwis are being urged to be kind to each other and that was a good example

The pandemic has caused us a few problems with Sue's palliative care as the health ministry has instructed the hospice nurses not to spend more than 10 minutes with each patient. This is not long enough to do most of the procedures they normally carry out so the burden passes to the care workers. They in turn are not allowed to change dressings or carry out certain other procedures so the burden passes to me or we must ask for increased nurse visits so the effect is to increase our exposure to more people. Some jobsworth civil servant is probably responsible who has no experience of front line care.

When a nurse does come she is fully equipped with gloves face mask and protective gear whereas our health care workers who are in much more intimate and in daily contact are not issued with any gear whatsoever. I am sure that they are also in contact with more vulnerable people daily than any hospice nurse.

My hip muscle strain is getting worse and spreading to other areas but I am restricted to zoom video conferences with my physio. He sent me some exercises by email which I am unable to do due to my pain threshold. I have also experienced muscle spasms across my stomach which are very painful indeed and sleeping is difficult, all of which has not helped me deal with being a house husband!

But shit happens!

Since writing the foregoing there have now been further developments which I posted round to those of you who know us well. For those who don't here is what I said:

Those of you who have bothered to read my ramblings on the web site will know that I was undertaking a course of physio for a strained hip ligament and it had worsened. The pain spread from one hip to the other until the doc prescribed codeine and morphine, neither of which would stay in my stomach so off I went to hospital leaving Sue in the care of her sister where they discovered my kidneys were about to fail.

It gets worse!

A very pretty Hematologist then announced she was fairly certain the reason for this kidney failure was myeloma which is a rare type of blood cancer that only usually affects the 70 plus ages which she said at my age I could currently expect to live with for between 2 and 5 years. First they had to take urgent action to get my kidneys working properly again as my chances of survival were small otherwise. Next the diagnosis had to be confirmed which meant a full MRI body scan followed by a biopsy.

Lying on that noisy old MRI machine for a full hour was the most painful. The biopsy was done by giving a local anesthetic in the hip region then inserting a long needle into the bone to extract some marrow, finally taking a slice of the bone itself, all of which showed that I did indeed have myeloma.

So I am now on a course of medication including chemo and steroids which will be supplemented by other medications as I progress. The chemo is given once a week by injection. There is no cure at present but the outlook is positive as there are hopes for progress in the future for an extensive remission extension or even a cure being found.

Sue had to be taken into a care home this week but she is coming home tomorrow and I am getting a bit more help with the housework from the healthcare services. I feel pretty weak after all that and am moving at a slower pace until I get my strength back, a bit like after my last Swildons caving trip and what with all these virus problems life could do with being a bit less complicated.

What would go down well now would be a nice pint of Otter and Barf to win the premiership or maybe I've died and gone to heaven!!

Sue's Passing

Well we knew it was going to happen but it does not make it any easier. Sue came home on Friday 8th May but I could see why they rushed to get me out of hospital as her condition had deteriorated so much. I think she had decided that I had the same secondary bone cancer as herself and it took the wind out of her sails. She did perk up a bit when she learnt that my disease was different as was my life expectancy but by Sunday she had become unresponsive and I had great difficulty getting her to swallow all her pills.

When our morning healthcare workers arrived we decided I should call Waipuna Hospice for advice. The response was a shock which was that nothing could be done until Monday, the hospice was closed until the end of May and the only option was to move Sue back to the care home, something I told them I would not allow. I called our neighbour Kelly who did not even let me speak before rushing straight round.
Eventually Waipuna were persuaded to send a community nurse out who then took me to one side and explained that Sue was dying.

The doctors had given Sue a few weeks to live over four months ago so the nurses statement came as no surprise other than to wonder what the point of a hospice was if it didn't offer constructive help at this stage. Things did then begin to happen but Sue died just before 1pm before any other action had taken place. Sues sister Maryanne and brother-in-law Fred were present with me. Our neighbours Kelly and Dave arrived shortly after and we phoned the hospice to stop all further action they had proposed by them.

We all sat with Sue until the Waipuna nurse finally arrived to certify death at 2pm. The undertaker came at 3pm. I later learned that this was the longest period that Waipuna hospice had ever cared for anyone at home, a tribute to Sues bravery in staying alive.

The hospice who had been so helpful and supportive throughout Sues palliative care let us down badly at the time they were most needed. It may be that it is due to the coronavirus restrictions forced on it by the Ministry of Health but there was no excuse for the lack of compassion shown in their response to my cry for help.

Sue's Funeral

Sue's memorial service

Such was the love and affection from so many people around the world that we decided to stream the service using the Zoom application.
The New Zealand Government lifted some of the restrictions on attendance at funerals to 50 people but it was too late for many who were not local to attend however quite a few more than the original 10 person limit did attend at short notice. We were still not allowed to hold a reception for more than 10 which was held at our home.

Sue had largely taken charge of the arrangements prior to her death. For the music she chose the Scherzo Allegro vivace from Beethoven's third symphony, the Eroica, to begin the service. After the Eulogy was read by Terri Bentley, one of Sue's best friends from Auckland, we had Shakespeare's sonnet No 18 'Shall I compare thee to a summers day' to a tune composed by John Dankworth and sung by Cleo Laine.
Shakespeare poses the question but then rejects the notion. A summers day will fade but her beauty is eternal.

The poem at the end was suggested by Lil Romford from Somerset, England:

After Glow

I'd like the memory of me to be a happy one.
I'd like to leave an after glow of smiles when life is done,
I'd like to leave an echo whispering softly down the ways,
Of happy times and laughing times and bright and summer days.
I'd like the tears of those who grieve, to dry before the sun,
Of happy memories that I leave when life is done.

"Helen Lowrie Marshall"

Sue was unaware of this choice of poetry but I feel sure she would have approved.

The service ended with Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull playing his jazzed up version of J S Bach's Bourrée. Among our 10 people allowed at the reception was Margaret representing Healthcare NZ and Penny, a nurse from Waipuna hospice, both of whom cared for Sue during her illness. The funeral directors arranged for an excellent hot buffet lunch to be delivered and we all raised a glass or two of Marlborough in Sue's memory. She would have liked her memorial service as did the many absent friends and relatives around the world who watched it live on Zoom and were with us in spirit.

You will find a recording of the service here and a written copy of the eulogy and email messages here.

I am afraid the quality of the recording is not that brilliant, especially the audio and some of the music can not be heard. It might help if you download the VLC player which is free on the internet as you can increase the volume a bit more.
For those of you who would like to listen to Sue's choice of music with better quality audio, here are some links to video's on YouTube of them:

Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 'Eroica' (Scherzo) - BBC Proms 2014

Shall I Compare Thee To A Summers Day (Sonnet 18) - Cleo Laine, John Dankworth.

Jethro Tull: Bourrée

We will eventually scatter Sue's ashes in the Pacific Ocean at a lonely beach called Orokawa Bay just North of here. You can see some pictures of Orokawa Bay on this page.

The state of my own health

I am currently undergoing chemotherapy weekly. On Tuesdays I visit the path lab to provide a blood sample for testing and on Thursdays I go for the chemo which consists of an injection of Bortozomib which is used to treat my multiple myeloma.
The disease is a cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow. These cells multiply forming collections known as tumours which accumulate in different parts of the body, most commonly in the bone marrow or bone surface. They then secrete chemicals that stimulate other bone marrow cells to remove calcium from the bone causing brittleness and allowing bones to break more easily.

As the myeloma cells multiply they crowd out the bone marrow and prevent it from making normal numbers of red blood cells resulting in my case in kidney damage which they tell me is now healing. The Bortozomib kills off the myeloma cells and I also take Dexamethasone which is a steroid that has been found to also help kill off these excess cells.
I am also given Allopurinol daily which prevents the build up of uric acid in the blood during treatment which causes gout and Valacliclovir which prevent viral infections as my immune system is compromised.

Two different drugs are used at different times in the cycle to prevent nausea and other side effects are numerous. At the moment I am suffering, diarrhoea one day then constipation the next, bone pain, problems sleeping, skin changes, changes in blood pressure, frequent urination, headaches and fluid build-up in my legs and feet.

On average this treatment will continue every week for about nine months after which the disease will hopefully be under control and in remission. I should then be feeling better, fit to travel and not need further treatment for months perhaps years. At the moment there is no complete cure but there is reason to be optimistic of one being found or at least to extend life expectancy according to current research information.

Macmillan Way West

It is therefore unlikely I will be returning to the UK before next year and my treatment is finished but when I do I will be busy recruiting people to join me, family and friends walking the Macmillan Way West to raise funds for cancer charities in Sue's memory. This long distance trail starts at Castle Carey in Somerset then traverses the county East to West across the Quantocks and Exmoor finishing at Barnstaple in North Devon. It is 102 miles long and visits many places I walked in my youth as well as Sue and I walked together when we lived in England. I have written a page describing the walk which you can find here.

New Zealand Work and Income

New Zealand could show the UK a thing or two when it comes to treating their residents fairly. When we came out to NZ the UK removed the pension we had earned in Australia because they made it a condition you had to be a UK resident to get it. They didn't tell us this in advance, not that it would have made any difference and I suppose when I go back it will not be restored. Furthermore everyone is paid a different amount of UK pension depending on individual circumstances and they simply ignore complaints.

Here we all get the same pension whatever your circumstances so even though Sue did not qualify for the full UK State pension she still received the full NZ pension as did I.
As a widower in the UK I would just continue to get the same pension. Here for a widower living alone my pension increases from $326/week to $424/week after tax. I also get the full winter fuel allowance. Not just my share as it is the house you are heating, not just the people in it.

When you talk with the Kiwi Work and Income people you get the impression they are there to help you find the best solutions. Perhaps the UK Minister of Work and Pensions should take a trip out here to learn how to run a caring organisation.


The project to record Sue and my lives together since we met in 1974 is now well advanced with the first five pages on line.
I have revamped the menuing code to make room for future items and you will find that 'History' now has its own menu and sub menu's.
I have moved all other subjects under the 'Home' menu.

The UK Cancer Charity Walk

Due to my treatment for Myeloma it is likely to be the Spring or early Summer of next year before I can get back home to the UK. There would not be enough time left to get myself organised with a house to rent and for my effects to have been shipped over before the end of summer. Realistically then it is going to take place in the summer of 2022.

I had a nice surprise when my neighbours Kelly and Dave announced they intend to participate in the walk and have begun saving for the trip. So please make a collective note to plan a trip to Somerset in 2022 if you want to join me wherever you are in the world. If Kiwi's can travel all that way then no place is too distant.

I criticised earlier the way Waipuna Hospice behaved at the end of Sue's life. They seem to be having a change of heart now as they have written offering to pay the $400 for the ambulance for Sue to be transferred to the care home while I was in hospital.

The state of my own health update at 4th June

It is now a month since I began Chemo and my progress was reviewed by Dr Marie Hughs my Haematologist. It would seem that the chemo is having a positive effect and my kidneys are in much better shape than when we began treatment.

A blood test measures the Light Chains which are a type of white blood cell but there are two different types called Kappa and Lambda. Myeloma causes too many of these types of cell to be created and the chemo and steroids should reduce the amounts. Divide the Kappa figure by the Lambda figure and you get the ratio between the two which is the important measurement to compare and measure progress.

My Kappa cells before chemo were 14.0 and are now 9.5 (never mind the units). My Lambda cells before chemo were 11166.0 and are now reduced to 292.0. The K/L ratio before chemo was <0.01 and is now 0.03. A person with a normal kidney function would be expected to have a K/L ratio of between 0.26 and 1.62 so I have a long way to go but it is moving in the right direction.

My blood pressure jumps between 140/70 and 200/87 over 6 days so the beta blockers they tried me on were not working that well. Marie said she started me on a lower dose to see the effects and has now prescribed double the amount which is the recommended dose for high blood pressure so we will see.
I also have some pills to reduce water retention to see if the swelling in my legs and ankles can be reduced.

My Kidney doctor called me and he is also pleased with my progress. Barring complications he does not want to see me again for four months but does not expect my kidney function to return to normal due to initial damage caused before the Myeloma was diagnosed and the natural ageing process but I am no longer in danger of kidney failure.

So as they say down here in the Godzone, alls good.

Family Photographs

It gets quite lonely stuck here by myself in New Zealand. Stranded due to the global and personal health problems. It always nice to get regular updates from my daughter Rebecca in Somerset, UK.
As I can't travel for the time being I thought I would publish the photographs she just sent of all the family with the exception of William who is the black sheep!

As you can see they seem to have inherited their Grandad's travel bug which is no surprise as Beccy has a degree in tourism.

The photo of Henry and Matilda was taken in September 2019 at home in Stogursey in their school uniforms. Beccy says that Henry did not want his photo taken hence his expression of disgust but then he never has.

Messages of Sympathy 8th June

Today my snailmail postbox was full of sympathy cards from the UK and Australia. The UK cards date from mid May and the Oz ones even earlier which probably means that Jacinda was keeping foreign mail in quarantine! Thank you for your condolences all of you and you have written some lovely words.

I must admit that I am finding grief difficult to cope with. I have had plenty of time to think and prepare during Sue's long illness and she warned me what to expect although I don't know how she knew.
I am fine when I am not reminded of Sue's death but things like all those cards has me in floods of tears. I am told the grief never really leaves you. You just get more used to it.

Sympathy cards

Loneliness is also a problem I am stuck with until my cancer treatment is concluded and sometimes I am unsure if I am grieving or feeling sorry for myself. Probably a combination of the two.
We had not been here in New Zealand long enough to establish local friendships apart from Kelly and Dave our neighbours. I do see Maryanne and Fred regularly who are the closest of Sues's family but the chemo regime will keep me in Tauranga for the rest of this year at least.

History Pages

I have now completed all the pages of our time living in Edinburgh from 1974 to 1990. I am now starting to record the years we lived in South Petherton, Somerset until our retirement in 2005 when we bought our barge Harmonie. You will find the final Edinburgh page here.

Black Lives Matter

Of course they do but whatever has happened to the world to react as some of the protesters have done to the death of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. Dave next door reckons this sort of behaviour is caused by the lockdown and people have gone stir crazy and slightly lost their marbles. By all means protest about police violence but that is no excuse for looting and other criminal activity which puts them into the same category as the police action they are protesting about.

Idi Amin

As for tearing down monuments of colonialists and those involved in slavery I have commented on this sort of thing before. These statues prompt you to question who the person is and why they have a statue erected of them. Just because you do not happen to agree with what they did or what a monument commemorates you should not be destroying history by removing it.

I expect there are lots of memorials erected to African rulers but those that deserve our respect are the exception rather than the rule. In the UK all the statues that some people want removed are of white skinned men because they say they were racist. In Uganda you could say the same about Idi Amin who was certainly racist and what about Robert Mugabe who persecuted white farmers. Racism is not the exclusive domain of white folk and there are too few Nelson Mandela's.

Mugabe once said Africa was for Africans and not white men. I wonder what the reaction would be if a leader in Britain or America said Western countries were for white men and not Africans although I would not be surprised if The Donald nutter said it.

Quotes 'wot I like:
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it"
George Santayana 1863 - 1952.

Down here in NZ there are a bunch of Maori's who want to pull down a statue of Captain Cook because he killed a few of their ancestors 260 years ago and we know that Winston Churchill was a warmonger but he was also a great leader so why deface his statue? The world might be a very different place today without Winston, like him or loathe him.
Rhodes Scholars are among those demanding Cecil Rhodes statue be removed from Oriel College in Oxford. Do they not realise Rhodes philanthropy gave them a privileged education?

Those who carry out these senseless acts would be better off learning from history rather than destroying it.

I now read that Baden-Powell's (BP) statue in Poole is under threat of removal. BP was the founder of the Scouting Movement but apparently he was a sympathiser of fascism and is rumoured to have considered amalgamating his Scouts with the Hitler youth movement. He was also accused of mistreating African natives during the siege of Mafeking during the Boer war for which he was famous. The same man formulated the Scout Law which says; A scout is a friend to all and a brother to every other scout no matter what country, class or creed the other may belong.

I do not know the truth or otherwise of BP's actions, motives or values in a different age but I do know that someone who could devise such an international movement as Scouting deserves recognition and that someone could not be racist who said we had to be a friend and brother to all. I spent a large part of my life as a member of the Scout Association and racism was not apposite with its core beliefs. If BP really did want us to be friends and brothers with the Hitler youth then his motives might simply have been naive, just like the appeaser PM Chamberlain who I suppose should be the next on the statue removal list.

Rugby is back in New Zealand

But I suppose I had better hide the rugby reporting from those poor misguided individuals who have no interest. The intelligentia can click here.

History Pages

The latest history page to be completed is now on line and covers the years from 1990 to 1992 when we moved down from Edinburgh to South Petherton in Somerset. You will find it here.

Super Rugby Aotearoa Week 2 is here

Swing Low

You will have read that the Rugby Football Union (RFU) are to review the singing of Swing Low Sweet Chariot at Twickenham. There seem to be many in the game including well respected players and officials who favour the song being banned and I suspect it is because they are aware of the racial connections and the reverence many black people have for it and here is the key to where I think they are completely wrong.

Those in favour of the politically correct action in banning it admit that the vast majority of those who sing it are not racially motivated by it. It was originally sung to honour Chris Oti back in 1988 when he scored three tries against Ireland at Twickers and was the first black player to be selected by England for 80 years. Not necessarily for racial reasons but in those days black people did not go to public schools. In Australia English rugby players are known as 'Nigels' for that reason.

Most PC people think that rugby fans only know the words of the first two lines and that may be true of typical Twickers crowds but most of us who have played the game and real rugby fans will have sung the whole song with some very rude actions.

Despite knowing 'they words' I would still maintain that there was no racial motive in the singing or in the actions which accompanied the song which are just downright filthy in the proud tradition of rugby songs. But nobody can deny that in those days racism did exist in Rugby and in Cricket. Black players were not selected so that South African teams could be played against who would not play against teams who had black players. But once again, just like pulling down statues, to ban the song is to destroy a bit of history that we should know about and learn from.

Rugby songs often satirise tunes that some would find offensive such as 'Wales, Wales, Bloody great fishes are Whales' to the Welsh national anthem and 'A Frenchman went to the lavatory' to the Marsellaise. Perhaps those PC people should develop a thicker skin, black or white.

Pub Quiz

My neighbours Kelly and Dave invited me to join their pub quiz team which is mostly made up of work colleagues of Kelly's, Dave and me being the only males.
Dave is the specialist on music apart from classical and I have been nominated as the geography expert. This is because Kelly thinks I am so well travelled, any way, I answered 5 out of ten questions correctly so I have now earned my place in the team who usually come last!!
We came third from last which is an improvement but our team name is 'Norfolk 'n' chance'!

This was the first time I have ventured out for any length of time apart from shopping and the cancer clinic so was quite pleased with myself having managed three hours without a pee!!
They do things differently in NZ compared to UK (in pub quiz's not the way they pee). The questions are streamed one at a time on big TV screens in rounds of ten. You write down your individual answers to each question. You are then given about 5 minutes to discuss answers with your other team members and to write down the collectively agreed team answers. After all the teams answers are collected the correct answers are displayed on screen and the next round starts.

History Pages

The latest history page to be completed is now on line and covers the years from 1992 to 1995 as we turned The Fruit Shop into a delicatessen called Provender in South Petherton in Somerset. You will find it here.

Phil Monk's Retirement

Sue's brother Phil has finally retired from the Navy and he sent me some photos of the occasion which I reproduce in the slideshow below together with Phil's explanation of what was happening:

These some of the snaps taken yesterday when the Admiral arrived, to make some presentations etc.
All the ships I was on, the cap tallies have been neatly folded and framed, and the Admirals coin placed at the bottom, really neat. The booklet he is giving me is a certification of acknowledgment of my 54 years service.
The book I am signing is our work VIP book, I was asked to sign under the Admirals signature.
The last and best, was the presentation to me of the model of one of my fav ships HMNZS Otago, a Whitby Class Frigate built in UK. Great cover over it, really wrapt eh!
Apparently others and a script are coming out in the next Navynews, I'll have to grab a few copies and send them around eh!
Good luck with the Rugby this weekend, been that busy I don't even know who is playing yet!


Super Rugby Aotearoa Week 3 is here

History Pages

The latest history page now online covers the period from 1995 to 1998 and you can find that here.
It describes Barf winning the European Cup and holidays in Mexico, Italy and Egypt.

Mike Palmer has sent some photographs of one of our later Burns suppers when people took it a little more seriously so if you click on the photo below you will be taken to the page where the secret of what men wear under their kilts will be revealed.

Burns Supper.

Mike also sent a photo of a GSG dinner from October 1992 and you can find that here.

The state of my own health at 2nd July

If you read the last report on my health you will see there was a huge improvement as a result of the chemo treatment and other medications. This time the results were once again improved. My Kappa cells were 9.5mg/L and are now 9.6. My Lambda cells were 292mg/L and are now further reduced to 77.7. The K/L ratio last month was 0.03 and is now 0.12, up a further 75%. A person with a normal kidney function would be expected to have a K/L ratio of between 0.26 and 1.62 so it continues to move in the right direction. If next month the Lambda cells were to reduce to about 37mg/L and the Kappa cells stay roughly the same then the K/L ratio would increase to 0.26 which is the minimum a person with a normal kidney function would expect.

Gavin Kidney Doctor did not anticipate my kidney function would ever return to normal but there is now some reason to be optimistic.
Because of my good progress the doctors will add another chemo drug to strengthen the bones but it can affect the kidney function which is why it has not been administered previously. I am also on further medication to counteract the side effect of edema, an increase of 50% in the dose of Amlodipine (to further reduce blood pressure) plus a new anti virus medication.

The Docs are slightly concerned that my hip pain has not reduced so are arranging a further xray in that area plus a heart scan of some type. So some 'Reasons to be Cheerful' as Ian Drury used to say!

Super Rugby Aotearoa Week 4 is here

The state of my own health at 9th July

I began CBD today. That does not mean Central Business District although it is a good way to remember the acronym but it stands for the three drugs that are used in my chemo, Cyclophosphamide, Bortozomib and Dexamethasone. I have also found the acronym BCD, confusing or what? Up until now I have not been taking the 'C' drug as it affects the kidney function and the latest blood tests show an increased creatinine level from 146 umol/L to 188 which indicates a reduced kidney function so I am only being given a half dose.
Just to make it even more confusing the cancer nurse here in NZ used CBD but the more accepted acronym is VCD. This is because Bortozomib is also known by it's brand name of Velcade.

The cancer clinic also announced today that they will be giving me 30mg of Pamidronate next week that will strengthen my bones. It is also a reduced dose due to it's negative affect on kidney function, it is given intravenously and it is going to take 4 hours to administer! They will repeat the process in 3 months.
The drug slows down the release of calcium into the blood from bones to lower blood calcium levels, reducing the risk of broken bones (fractures) and reducing bone pain.

The good news is that my blood pressure is now back to normal.

History pages update

The earlier pages have been extensively updated following contributions from old friends, in particular some additions and corrections from Goon as I had even spelt his real name wrong! You can find the page here:

I have now finished the latest history section page covering the years 1999 to 2002 which you can find here.

Super Rugby Aotearoa Week 5 is here

The Passing of Maureen Laverck:

Maureen and Don Laverick ran a shipyard in Newcastle, NSW, Australia when I lived there in the early 1970's. I used to bound up the outside steps into what they called an office and greet them all with "Hello you lovely Carrington Ladies" but Maureen was my favourite as she wrote the cheques for the millions of dollars worth of Lister Blackstone marine engines we sold them!

In between managing the nuts and bolts of the business Maureen somehow found the time to become a champion go-cart driver in addition to bringing up a family. She died on Monday 13th July 2020.

If you search 'Laverick' on the home page of this web site you will see 10 pages over four decades their name is returned. I will treasure the memory of all those happy occasions when Sue and I shared their company.

My my own health at 16th July

The previous blood test showed an increased creatinine level from 146 umol/L to 188 which indicates an impaired kidney function. This time it had reduced a little to 181 and all other tests were unchanged or showing slight improvements so they sat me down and infused 30g of Pamidronate in solution, a third of the more usual dose, into a vein with a slow drip taking 4 hours.

I took a Michael Connolly book with me and and relaxed reading the adventures of Hieronymus Bosch, the fictional detective not the Dutch painter. The chemo drug Cyclophosphamide should be taken with food so I took in some tuna mayonnaise sandwiches and a bag of crisps which made the gluten free bread more palatable.
One of the side effects of Pamidronate can be increased bone pain but after a couple of days it should then reduce pain. I have experienced less pain than normal since, no noticeable side effects but with the mix of drugs you have no idea of cause and effect.

That evening the Pub Quiz Team gathered at Sharon's place for another pub quiz from On Demand TV. IMHO this was a preferable experience to the real thing as we could just stop the recording and discuss questions, have a laugh, hear the dialogue clearly, sit in comfortable chairs in front of a roaring wood burner and be well fed by Sharon. The only thing missing was competition so we need to ask another team along one night and forget going out to the pub.

Super Rugby Aotearoa Week 6 is here

So no change in the table places although the Crusaders lead has been consolidated with them having a game in hand and unlikely to lose to the Chiefs next weekend.

The Macmillan Way West

I know it is two more summers away that my proposed charity walk in memory of Sue will take place but if you are someone who is thinking of joining us then it will need a bit of forward planning to put 10 days aside to do the whole thing, particularly if you are coming from a distance.

I intend the walk to be a pleasurable social occasion through some beatiful English countryside and decided to devote a web page to describing how it might be tackled and to feature some of the attractions along the way. You can see the result of my efforts here and it is a permanent fixture on the above menu. I intend to use it to keep everyone updated on how we will raise funds and organise the event in the intervening period.

History page Update

I have added a piece about Eric, a British Cream Cat we owned just before we retired who was a bit of a character. You will find him here.

My my own health at 23rd July

I was expecting some impairment in my kidney function after starting to take two extra drugs which can affect that but I had a nice surprise. The creatinine level actually improved from 181 umol/L back down to 145 which is better than when I started with these new drugs. Blood pressure is now in the low 120's/70 which is considered optimal and all other blood tests are stable or moving in the right direction.
Next week is the clinic where I will have the cell count blood test results and a consultation with the doctor. I am hoping for continued improvement.

New Zealand Economy Post Covid

I was kindly invited to dinner at Dave's Mum's place last night and she cooked a really nice leg of lamb with all the trimmings. My contribution was a jam roly-poly made with suet pastry and hot custard which was a first for everyone and they were all hooked!

Daves stepdad Paul is an accountant and most of his clients are small businesses so I was interested to ask his opinion on how his clients were faring in this post covid period.
He said that most were now very busy but this may not last, however, he had been careful to ensure his clients were well prepared with loans and government grants that were available and did not think any of them were in danger of bankruptcy.
He thought one of the biggest problems would be the overseas supply chain, coming particularly as it does from China. I experienced evidence of this when I had to replace my Canon printer. The first big store I tried they were sold out and in the second I bought the penultimate one. Neither store could tell me when new stock would be arriving.

History Pages

I have finally completed recording the years between 1974 when Sue and I first met to 2005 when we retired and sailed away on Harmonie II which was when this web site was originally started. The final history page covers the years 2003 to 2005 and you can find it here.

Super Rugby Aotearoa Week 7 is here

A new page continues the winter sojourn.

Fund raising in memory of Sue 4 different ways:

On my return to the UK I will be organising a sponsored walk to raise funds for the Macmillan charity along the Macmillan Way West. I am also a cancer victim and undergoing treatment in New Zealand but in the meantime, depending on your location, you can donate with this widget below directly to the Macmillan charity by subscribing to the JustGiving web site:

All money donated will go directly to the Macmillan charity. The donation pages on JustGiving default to Pounds Sterling currency. You can change the currency but there are limited options. If your currency is not listed, here is another widget below to convert to whatever is your home currency:

Currency Calculator

To Donate without subscribing to JustGiving:

As an alternative to using the JustGiving widget you can click on the photo below and you will be taken directly to my JustGiving page where you also donate without needing to subscribe to JustGiving. You can also chose not to make an additional donation to JustGiving should you wish.

Donation in Sue's memory

Text your donation

This is a quick and easy way to give either a one-off or regular monthly donation for those with UK mobiles.

Donations are taken out of the phone bill at source.

Text MOBILE to +44 70550 to make a £5 single donation

Text REGULAR to +44 70550 to make an ongoing donation of £5 a month.

Please obtain bill payer's permission. Age 16+. UK mobiles only. One off donations charged at £5 + std rate. Monthly subscription donations charged at £5 + std rate each month. Macmillan Cancer Support is a registered charity in England & Wales 261017, Scotland SC039907, and Isle of Man 604. Macmillan receive 100% of all donations.

I will be placing the above invitation to donate at the bottom each new page of this web site until the sponsored walk has been completed. My own cancer treatment is unlikely to be finished before the Spring of next year (2021) so the summer of 2022 is the most likely time for the sponsored walk to take place. If you would like to be included in the walk and receive email updates you can register your interest here.

Donating with a UK credit card

You can click on this link to donate directly to Macmillan if you have a UK credit card. If you choose to donate directly to Macmillan in this way it is linked to my JustGiving page so your donation will be credited to the total in memory of Sue.

Donating from overseas

If none of the alternative methods of donating are suitable then you can make a direct bank transfer by emailing Macmillan at or calling them on +44 207 191 2172 and they can provide you with their bank details to make a bank transfer directly to their account.

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