That Was The Year That….

“Hope
Smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering ‘it will be happier’…”
Alfred Tennyson,  1st Baron Tennyson,  Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland
August 1809 –  October 1892

And now this is the last day of the year.  The sun is shining brightly after several days of dreary rain, and we are looking forward to the New Year.

This has been a year that has been very eventful for me and will be long remembered. A snap decision to sell the house and travel, meeting a new special person (again), adventures in Florence, the excitement of melding two families and so much more.

The decision had been made to go away – if I didn’t do it now when would I? And having no idea how long I would be away it was decided to sell the house and put my belongings into storage rather than buy another house.

Sold

Packing up the house to put everything into storage went well.  My son and daughter have their own houses and didn’t want my furniture, except one particular chair that went to my daughter-in-law (she had always wanted it) and a desk and a sofa table that went to my daughter.  All the rest was packed by the removers and taken to storage.  That was interesting.  I had downsized considerably when moving into that house and was very surprised to note that I needed three storage units to house my belongings.

During the decision making to move and go away on an extended trip, I met up again with an acquaintance from years before.  We spent a lot of time together during the sales process and when the settlement took place, I was invited to join him in his house in the beech forest.

House in the trees

Then it was time to start my travels.  Three grandsons and my daughter came to the airport to see me off.  None of us knew how long I would be away although I did have a return ticket for February 3, but my family were used to my going to visit my sisters on the other side of the world and changing return date

Wellington Airport

How fast and how large they have all grown

I had a lovely time spent catching up with my younger sister in London.  The plan had been for her to come to Florence with me but that didn’t work our as she had a health scare that meant she couldn’t fly.  But we had a lovely time visiting friends and family and revisiting museums and places of interest, not as a tourist but as a returning Londoner.

AUGUST-SEPTEMBER 2013 090

And then it was off to explore Florence on my own.  I rented an apartment out of the centre of town in an area where I appeared to be the only English-speaking resident.  But how happy to help me were the Italians I came across when I used my faltering Italian to communicate with them.  In all the time I was there I encountered only one surly bus driver who couldn’t or wouldn’t help me.

Duomo 2

But as often happens, homesickness or rather the longing to be with friends and family again, overtook me and I decided that it was time to cut short this adventure.  So back to London for another week with my sister and then I returned home to New Zealand.

And what a happy homecoming that was.  I was met by my special friend in Auckland and we drove together down the North Island to Wellington stopping on the way to catch up with friends in Taupo.

http://www.greatlaketaupo.com/new-zealand/interactivemap/

Then a new phase in this long and happy life began.  It was decided that we would spend the rest of our lives together, both having had long and successful marriages cut short by the death of our spouses.  So I moved into this house in the forest and we set about making memories of our own.

House

The new house is almost complete – well the roof is on, doors installed and the glazing is in.  But of course, this is holiday time here in NZ and all the builders and contractors are away.  It’s very peaceful without them but we will look forward to their return on January 6.

Breakfast Pinehaven Style

Breakfast Pinehaven Style

But we are making use of the new house already. G & Ts taken looking into the forest and the photo shows breakfast cooked on the barbecue yesterday and eaten in the almost complete house.

Sisters

To round off another eventful and adventurous year, my younger sister in London has taken up my invitation to come and visit us.  She has never been to NZ.  In fact, none of my family have, and so I am looking forward to showing her where I make my life; introducing her to friends and reintroducing her to her niece and nephew and their families.  So this will be a great start to 2014.

Christmas came and went in a flurry of activities as usual.  Friends have called in for drinks, barbecues etc and on New Year’s Eve we shall have dinner with my Special Friend’s son and his partner and their two little girls.

What a fantastic year 2013 has been for me.  I hope you can all say the same and if not, my wishes for a fabulous, healthy and safe 2014 are sent to you all.

Goodbye

My visit to London is rapidly coming to a close.  My original intention was to be here for some two weeks and then go to Florence with my sister.  She would stay for a couple of weeks and I would stay on alone for a couple of months.

London-Skyline 3Alas, the best laid plans etc .  Shortly before I arrived in London it was thought that my sister had suffered a heart attack.  So in the first few days we spent time at the local hospital having a barrage of tests.  Nothing moves fast in this big, over crowded city and so she is only today receiving the results of these tests from her GP.  Several more tests were called for which entailed waiting for the letters of appointment, as they were in two different hospitals, and to make life complete she was advised not to fly until the results were all in.

At this time she is still waiting for the final test to be carried out and this will happen next week.

So it was decided that I should go to Florence and she will join me when she is cleared to fly.

british-museum-27-09-13-005.jpgMeantime we have been enjoying my native city again.  Not as a tourist because I was born and brought up here, but as a returning visitor.

The most surprising thing of all is the changes wrought to the East End by last year’s Olympics.  Stratford that was once a really derelict and run down area has been transformed.  During World War II, the area suffered severe bombing damage. Industrial decline followed, accelerated by the closure of the docks from the 1960s onward. And the ethnically mixed area suffered from high unemployment, a labor force with low skills and crowded housing..  But all this changed once London was awarded the 2012 Olympics.

Where once were disused factories now stand tall apartment blocks,

University of Eat London

University of Eat London

the University of East London and student housing to accompany it, a large Westfield Shopping Mall and a new transport hub.  This has been good news for most of the people living in the area.

There has of course, been controversy.

_Orbit_at_nightThe Orbit sculpture and observation tower has been praised and denigrated by the public.  It was  designed by  artist Anish Kapoor and engineer Cecil Balmond  and stands 114.5 metre (376 feet).  It is apparently the largest public sculpture in Britain.   Orbit closed after the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, as the South Plaza area of the Park (in which Orbit is positioned) is under significant construction – and will re-open to visitors in April 2014.

London Olympic Stadium 2The Olympic Stadium is still being fought over by rival football clubs who want to use it as their base.  Currently the  has been awarded to West Ham but Leyton Orient are claiming that exclusive use rights should not have been given and that these two East End clubs should have equal access to the facility.

London_Aquatics_Centre,_16_April_2012

The London Aquatics Centre.  An indoor facility with two 50-metre (160-foot) swimming pools and a 25-metre (82-foot) diving pool.

Some of the residents of course, were moved on to make way for this huge redevelopment, and the redevelopment is still going on.  I saw a sign advertising a shopping and entertainment centre of 1.9 million square feet..  Wow!

the_Shard_London_Bridge_5205

The Shard Via Wikipedia

And the changes are not restricted to the East End.  The City is changing.  Where once were old office blocks now stand huge glass monoliths that do little to differentiate my home town from many other I have visited around the world.

British_Museum_from_NE_2

The British Museum – Still hasn’t lost its charm*

But the old favourites remain.  The Bank of England in Threadneedle Street, The British Museum in Great  Russell Street, The Tower of London, St Paul’s and of course, Parliament and Big Ben.  These are all a must see on any visit I make to London.

Portobello RoadAnd of course no visit to London would be complete without the street markets.  I have written of these in an earlier post.  The World famous Portobello Market in Notting Hill (you probably saw the film Notting Hill  staring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant), the local markets at Roman Road and Ridley Road, Petticoat Lane and Brick Lane, the antique market at Islington and on and on,

So as my time here comes to an end and once again I say farewell to family and friends, I am a trifle sad and of course, nostalgic.  But I have my adventure in Florence to look forward to and of course, I shall be back here again after that before taking that long haul flight back to the other side of the world.

“My formula for living is quite simple.  I get up in the morning and I go to bed at night.  In between, I occupy myself as best I can”
Cary Grant,  1904 – 1986 ,
English stage and Hollywood film actor

Related Posts:

The Market 
Down Memory Lane

I Gotta Horse

Saturday was our day for visiting the market with mother to get supplies for the week.  Our local market was in Ridley Road and I have written about street markets before – if you are interested in my meanderings here is the link - Down Memory Lane.

But Sundays we were taken to another market by father and  here we discovered Prince Monolulu and his catch cry “I gotta horse”.   Prince Monolulu (real name was Peter Mackay) was a huge, larger than life West Indian gent togged out in his finery and offering tips on the horses to anyone who would listen.  He made his money selling tips, handed over in sealed envelopes.  As there were few immigrants in London at the time, and this flamboyant person in both speech and dress was a figure of great interest to the three little girls and I suppose, most of the other people who came into contact with him.  He was a well recognised character at most of the racetracks from the 1930s to the 1950s but of course we never were taken to the racetrack.

Petticoat Lane was where we first came across him and where he was to be found most Sundays.  He was easily recognisable in his outrageous clothes and usually sporting a hat of high feathers.  All the colours of the rainbow could be seen in his clothing.  While Petticoat Lane has become a tourist destination for those visiting the capital, for us it was place to be taken by father while mother prepared the Sunday lunch.  The stalls here were full of clothes, shoes etc a delight to three young girls who could look enviously but not buy.

But more exciting for us was the nearby Brick Lane market – often confused with Petticoat Lane.  Here were the costermoners selling their wares.  Everything from beautiful fresh fruit and vegetables to clothes, china, kitchenware, jewellery etc etc.  And there did seem to be a lot of stalls selling bath towels and sheets and pillow cases.  Of course the fruit and vegetables were fresh as they only sold what was in season.  No transporting of produce around the world then or at least not for those of us who lived in the East End.

There were always puppies and older dogs for sale and in fact when we moved from the flat to the house this is where father bought our first dog – Tex the Alsatian.  I am not sure that this was such a good choice at first.  Three little girls who were unused to having pets and suddenly we had an Alsatian.  But we quickly grew to love him and to realise that he wouldn’t hurt us but woe betide anyone who came too near when we were out with him.  He was a very large, gentle animal and while I don’t remember how long we had him it seemed that he was our constant companion while we were growing up.

We must all have been living at home when Tex died because I recall my elder sister going to the Lane and buying Micky a Heinz 57 Variety dog whom we all immediately fell in love with.  However Mickey turned out to be Michelle and subsequently had a litter of beautiful pups.  There was great consternation when it was discovered “he” was pregnant and many hours spent wondering when this happened as “he” rarely went out without us.  So we had to find homes for all these puppies – I think there were 4 or 5.  They were so cute that we had no trouble re-homing them but mother declared there would be no more pups and had the dog neutered.  But my how mother loved that little dog who was her constant companion when the girls and father were all out all day at work or at the weekends, at play.  There was a series of dogs that followed in the footsteps of Tex and Micky after we left home but I don’t think any were as loved as were those two.

I do remember that father had a Dalmatian who was deaf and so was kept on a short lead when father walked him just in case..  And mother had a particularly bad-tempered Corgi who would nip at the children’s’ ankles whenever it had the chance.

So many memories of an East End childhood that I want to share as things are so very different now and if we don’t record our memories they will be lost as are the memories of my parents and grandparents.

“Circumstances or people can take away your material possessions, they can take away your money, and they can take away your health. But no one can ever take away your precious memories.
So, don’t forget to make time and take the opportunities to make memories everyday.”
Judith Baxter Mother, sister, blogger and friend
1938 -

 

Spirits?

I have only one relative (apart from my children and their families) living in New Zealand.  This is a cousin of my Mother’s who is only a couple of years older than me.

We talk from time to time on the phone.  Reminiscing about growing up in London during and after the war and generally catching up with each other these phone calls have been known to last an hour or more.  And yesterday was no different.

We talked at length about our families where they were at and how they were doing.  His second wife is Samoan and I always love to hear about their culture and how they do things so differently from us.  Apparently family comes before all else and if you have something and they don’t you either give it to them or share with them.  Isn’t that lovely.  Although as my cousin says, this can go too far.  He is the only one with a car and so he runs a taxi service for the extended family 24/7.  But he is good humoured about it.

We then got back to the subject of London.  His father was killed during the war and he and his mother moved back home and lived with her parents and two aunts.  From the outside it looked like a perfect set up.  There was always somebody to look after the young child while his mother worked.  But there were drawbacks for a young boy brought up in a predominantly female household.  As he grew up he spent less and less time at home and played in the streets amongst the ruins of houses that had suffered in the bombings.

Other times he spent with his grandfather “Pop” whose business was making  spirit levels.  You have all seen these things and no doubt many of you own one.  Well, Pop was a master craftsman and the spirit levels were made of beautifully carved and finished hard wood – sorry I don’t know the type of hardwood.  Each one was lovingly hand made and as soon as he was old enough, my cousin would rush home from school to help Pop.  I never understood his explanation about the little bubble that showed when the surface was flat/level nor the complicated way in which the liquid spirit /alcohol was put into the small glass vial.

On occasion we girls would visit the factory in the mews where in earlier times horses had been stabled for the wealthy.  We would stand and watch in wonder as the liquid was poured into the tiny phials.  I remember it being hot so I suppose that Pop was also a glass blower.

I should like to say that my cousin carried on the tradition being one of  only two males in the family, after the grandfather died, but instead he became a printer and emigrated with his then wife and two small girls to NZ.   I understand he still has one of the levels given to him by his grandfather as a birthday present.

Now of course, spirit levels are mass-produced.  No more the lovingly produced articles of all those years ago.  But wouldn’t it be lovely to own one of them.

“A man who works with his hands is a labourer;
a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman’
but a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist.”
Louis Nizer.  British born US lawyer and author.
1902-1994.

judithhb:

This is what I was thinking about a year ago. Really? 365 days ago. I do hope that each of those days have been spent productively although to me productive may be just walking or reading or catching up with friends, These are “the peaceful years of time for me” and I am enjoying them.

Originally posted on I choose how I will spend the rest of my life:

Those of you have read some of my earlier blogs will know that I have two very dear sisters.  One lives in London, UK and one in Los Angeles, California.  We keep in touch by phone and of course, emails.  Emails are always addressed to both sisters on the other side of the world.

Phone calls are rather more rare but it is great to hear their voices.  Recently after several many futile phone attempts I connected with my American sister.

We of course, discussed many things but we always without fail, discuss books we have read and those we hope to read.  Because at that time, I had just finished reading Stephen King’s 11/22/63 I was full of this book.  Others have written great reviews of it so I wont do so here.  Maybe an idea for another blog?

My sister is a prolific reader and she shared several…

View original 439 more words

Grandmas

Several years ago shortly after the death of my DYS I met my daughter and her small baby for coffee.  As I was feeling particularly miserable she bought me a little book called 365 Reflections on Grandmothers.  Looking through this book today I came across:

“When grandma was a girl she didn’t do things the girls do today
But then the grandmas didn’t do things grandmas do today.”
Anon

Isn’t that true?  My grandmother was always a little old lady, in a long dress.  Always smiling and always pleased to see us but concerned only with her family and its wellbeing.  Not for her involvement in work outside the home – did she ever go out to work once she was married.  I guess not.  It most certainly wasn’t done nor was it expected all those years ago.

Instead she concentrated on making her home as pleasant and as welcoming as possible.

She was born at the end of the 19th century in a fairly poor area of London.  I suspect that life for her and her young husband and family was not easy.  It was more complicated as she had married a Jewish boy who had then been cast out of his family.  I know little about my grandfather’s family but do know that he was a caring and gentle man.

Contrast this with my life.  How lucky I am to live now and those of us who are  grandmothers are able to do so much more than our grandmothers.  Look at what is now available to us.  No longer are we just ‘housewives, mothers and grandmothers’.   The whole world is out there for us and we can choose to be as involved as we wish.  Some grandmothers I know are involved in politics, local and government, some hold high powered jobs in what was once a man’s world.

So while I loved my grandmother and all she represented and presented to me, I am glad I am living now rather than in the early part of the 20th century.  And though she was born and lived before my grandmother, I like this quote from Harriet Beecher Stowe:

“These remarkable women of olden times are like the ancient painted glass – the art of making them is lost; my mother was less than her mother, and I am less than my mother.”
Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1811-1896, abolitionist and author.

Just Thinking About Christmas

Six word Saturday button

It’s Six Word Saturday time again.  It’s a while since I participated but here goes.  And if you would like to participate please either click on the picture above or click this link.

CHRISTMAS TIME IN THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE

Santa at the beach

Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere is still strange after 40 plus years living in New Zealand.  I have told of how the first Christmas we were here my then 7 year old daughter, asked in her piping Scottish accent “When is it going to snow Mummy”.  That first Christmas we had a fantastic summer.  All the promises that were made in the coloured brochures provided to us by the NZ High Commission in London proved to be true.  Long lazy days at the beach but at Christmas?

Even after all these years setting up a tree with lights and putting decorations around the house still doesn’t feel quite right.  And reindeer – where’s the snow?  Another vexing question for my daughter and her younger brother all those years ago was how would Santa get here if the reindeer didn’t bring him?  And more importantly, would he know that they had moved from Lenzie in Dumbartonshire, Scotland to Auckland, New Zealand?  And of course, there was no chimney – so how would he get in?

That first Christmas, the day dawned hot and humid and of course, having been brought up in the Northern Hemisphere I did the traditional dinner with all the trimmings.  Everybody ate in their bathing suits.  Another strange thing for us to contemplate (and add to the list of strange things.

Things went back to normal when we lived in Montreal and Christmas was once again in the winter.  And if you have ever been to Montreal in the winter you will know that there was no shortage of snow.  And there were two chimneys in our house so that solved the problem of access and the snow solved the reindeer question but by this time my children were 9 and 7 and Santa Claus (or Father Christmas as English and Scottish children knew him then) was relegated to the arena of fairies and fairy tales.

But now we are used to the upside down seasons and accept that it will be warm and hopefully sunny on Christmas Day.  My son will no doubt cook a barbecue and we will relax on a patio with a cold drink in hand, surrounded by family and friends.

And now, just to add a little stress in your life click here for the Christmas Countdown Clock .  And as I write this post on Saturday December 8 at 1pm I find that there are only 16 days 10 hours 58 minutes and 26 seconds to Christmas.  Is that sufficient time to do all the things on my Christmas To Do List?   Well it will have to be.

AS Time Goes By

I am sure that when you saw the title of this blog you thought I was going to direct you to a YouTube offering of the song from Casablanca.  Well, didn’t you?  So not to disappoint you here is the original from the movie.  Go on, enjoy it again.

.

And then there was that lovely sitcom in the UK called As Time Goes By.  It starred Judi Dench (before she was a Dame) and Geoffrey Palmer as two people who had known each other years ago and then reconnected.

But that wasn’t what inspired this post.  Today I read this post from my blogging friend Joss Why Can’t Life be Simple?

Clock on beach

 

This set me thinking about different times in different places.  It was particularly odd when we first moved to New Zealand aka the other side of the world.  We gained a day so when we arrived on June 11 it was really June 10 because we hadn’t adapted to the change in time.  And then going ‘home’ on holiday we always gained a day.  When my daughter was nine she had two birthdays.  One in Auckland, New Zealand and a second one in Honolulu.  How lucky is that?

And when I want to make calls to various friends around the world I have to check what the time is where they are.  But my trusty I-phone allows me to do this easily. I choose the places for which I want to know the time and the phone remembers them and gives me the time.  I do remember years ago starting each phone conversation with “What time is it there?”  I was never completely sure that I had  subtracted the right number of hours.  We are ahead of everyone else in the world so we always have to subtract.  And my late husband (aka DYS, Dashing Young Scotsman) always asked why I called somebody to check the time!

And not only the time is different but so are the seasons.  Here we are in spring while both of my sisters are in autumn/fall.  That’s another strange thing we had to get used to.  We left the UK all those years ago and it was summer (June 1967).  We arrived in Auckland to a wet, cold winter.  We thought we had the wrong end of the deal.  But then, when you are all shivering at Christmas time, hey presto! we have sunshine (usually).

So another rambling blog is coming to an end.  Thanks Joss for the inspiration.

And here a quote from one of my favourite teachers:

“Time is an equal opportunity employer.  Each human being has exactly the same number of hours and minutes every day.  Rich people can’t buy more hours.  Scientists can’t invent new minutes.  And you can’t save time to spend it on another day.  Even so, time is amazingly fair and forgiving.  No matter how much time you’ve wasted in the past, you still have an entire tomorrow. “
Denis Waitely
,  American motivational speaker and writer.

What will you leave behind?

“What you leave behind is not
what is engraved in stone monuments,
but what is woven into the lives of others.”
Pericles – Ancient Greek Politician, General and Statesman
495 BC-429 BC

I started blogging on March 1 2011 and for the next 365 days (with one or two exceptions) and well into 2012, I wrote a post daily.  My intention was to leave something for my grandsons after I have left this world.  They would hopefully then, get an insight into their grandmother’s thoughts and experiences through my writing.

I have written about growing up in London during the Second World War.  How could they be expected to understand this part of my life if I didn’t tell them about it?  And they needed to be told about the loving family in which I grew up.  Little money, no luxuries but so much love to spread around.  I cherish those memories and hope that I have passed them on to my children and their children.

I have told about the close relationship I have always enjoyed with my two sisters, even though one lives in London, England and the other in Los Angeles, California.  With my living in Wellington, New Zealand could we live further away from each other if we had planned it?  I told how we used to keep in contact through letters and the occasional (very expensive) phone call.  Now of course, since the internet, communication is mostly via email.

In another post I told about my wonderful Father and his influence on my life.  How he supported his three daughters telling them they could be and do anything they chose.  How this filled us with self confidence that has stood us in great stead over the years.  In fact, because of this grounding I have been able to do so many things over my life.

I have written about meeting my DYS (dashing young Scotsman) when I was 19 and marrying him a few months later.  I have told of following him around the world with two small children in tow as he furthered his career.  Of leaving one set of friends behind and making new ones wherever we went.  And although the boys may well have heard of these travels from their parents their view of this part of our lives would naturally be different to mine.  I have no way of knowing  how my children really felt about being uprooted yet again to move to a new place.  They both did seem to cope very well and have turned into two well rounded adults in spite of the disruptions in their lives.  And in later years when we have spoken of this they assured me that they felt they had benefited from the moving around.  And here I can insert one of my favourite words – They had what could be described as a peripatetic childhood.

I have written about Yesterday when I was Young and some of the happy memories I have of those times when the children were living at home and life was so busy.  And then of the times after they had moved onto the next phase of their lives, and there were only the two of us to move through the next phase of our lives.

I have told about deciding to move away from the city to an idyllic place beside the water far from the madding crowd, and how, when things didn’t turn out as expected, we moved back to civilisation once again.

In my blog posts I have written about my Mother’s death , of my Father’s death and the ghastly time following  the untimely death of my DYS (is any death really timely?)  But life goes on and I have chronicled some of things I have done since being on my own.

I spent several months on three separate occasions playing companion to an elderly English woman.  A great learning process and a fabulous area to live in and explore.  If I win the Lottery I shall buy a ‘cottage’ there and spend our winter months in Sussex.

So while I am not writing a post every day now, I hope that I have succeeded in part in what I set out to do.  The posts recording memories and activities will still continue as and when something comes up that I think somebody may be interested in hearing about.  Currently I am researching how to put the posts into a published book for the boys.   I imagine that will take some time.  And I have just remembered, my daughter always tells friends when I am leaving their houses not to “worry about what she takes but what she leaves behind”.  I hope I am leaving something special.

“To live in lives we leave behind
is not to die”
Judith Baxter, Blogger, friend, mother…
1938 -

If you are interested in reading some of the posts mentioned above, here are the links:

It’s In The News Today

 

“Some day, when I’m awfully low,
When the world is cold,
I will feel a glow just thinking of you
And the way you look tonight.”

It’s on all the news media today, Legendary singer Andy Williams has died at the age of 84.  I first came across this singer way back in the late 1960s when we were living in Montreal.  Each week, with my two small children, I settled down to watch “The Andy Williams Show”.  Williams has been described as one of the gentlemen of the music world, the last great crooner and has been credited with helping the Osmonds become known, in particular helping the two youngest Osmonds, Donnie and Marie become household names.

He had many hits but my favourite is “The Way You Look Tonight”.  Click here to listen to him singing this on YouTube.

There has been many obits written about the man.  My comment to add to these is ‘Sail safely across your Moon River Mr Williams.  And thank you for all the happy hours and great memories.”

And what else is making the news?

  • The UK Daily Telegraph Newspaper tells us that a Hong Kong property magnate and father Cecil Chao Sze-tsung offers $HK 500 million  to anyone who can ‘woo’ his lesbian daughter.  “I don’t care whether he is rich or poor” said Mr Chao “The important thing is that he is generous and kind-hearted”.  The queue forms here! and
  • Interpol is on the lookout for a 15-year-old girl who has absconded with her maths teacher.  The pair (he is more than twice her age) was last seen boarding a ferry to Calais earlier this week.  No reward has been offered by this family but a heartfelt plea from her parents for her to come home.
  • In New Zealand – an avalanche has been reported on the Remarkables Ski Field near Queenstown in the south Island.  Details are sketchy at present as the report was only received some 1.5 hours ago.
  • A 68-year-old woman who police allege was part of a multi-million dollar drug syndicate has pleaded guilty to cannabis and money laundering charges.
  • The internet mogul Kim Dotcom has been all over the news here for the past few days.  Today the Prime Minister apologised to him for what he has described as “basic errors” by the Government Communications and Security Bureau.  Apparently the GCSB has no mandate and in fact,  is expressly forbidden to spy on NZ citizens and Mr Dotcom has permanent residency status here.  The US is attempting to have Mr Dotcom extradited to answer a long list of piracy accusations against he and others.
  • From the Calgary Herald we learn that a Victoria, BC teenager who has raised more than $C 1 million for children’s charities requires surgery for a medical condition that is causing her spine to deteriorate.  The surgery available in Canada is likely to leave her paralyzed but the Province refuses to pay for her a second opinion from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota where experimental surgery is being undertaken.  Hard decisions have to be made.

Aren’t we lucky to live in an age when we can read newspapers from around the world and marvel at how crazy this world is?

Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.”
John Lennon 1940-1980