Archive for March, 2018

Hip hip ….away

March 30, 2018

It’s official, my left hip is a match for my knees……… buggered pukarood kaput not looking good. Although my hip is not as bad as my knees, as yet, the surgeon assured me that it is prudent the hip is replaced first otherwise when he comes to do the knees the alignment and recovery would be compromised and I certainly don’t want that. He tells me that there are two reasons for this;

Pain from osteoarthritis in the hip joint can spread to the knee (referred pain). Replacing the hip first gives you a better idea how much of your knee pain is actually from osteoarthritis in your knee.

Recovery after hip surgery does not require as much rehab so a painful knee will not interfere too much with recovery. On the other hand, a painful hip may interfere with successful rehab after knee replacement surgery.

One thing at a time then.

The timeline was sorted with Hugh, the surgeon, but we (Hugh and I) agreed that we would delay things a little to wait for Roy to complete his radiation treatment first before embarking on my surgery. At this stage, I will see him again at the beginning of May for all the pre op stuff, and answer the gazillion questions I will have thought of between now and then, with a view to doing the hip replacement in June. The first knee replacement will be done once I have recovered from the hip replacement.

Meanwhile, Roy had his set up appointment last Monday which meant we had a very early start to the day to try and beat the traffic. We had a reasonable run through but even at 5.30am the traffic is still very heavy and slow in places but we got there in plenty of time. The rest of the morning was spent with Roy going in and out of the CAT scanner to try and align things and get everything optimal (I won’t go into details), but in the end after 4 goes, he was all sorted and tattooed in the appropriate spots. Then it was across the hospital site to the MRI scanner for the final check. He starts his treatment on 11 April and will be five days a week for 7 weeks. They tell us that his only side effect will be tiredness and the worst bit of that will be after it’s all finished hence the need to plan carefully.

And I have to say that my painful hip and knee pale into insignificance after seeing some of the other patients in the oncology department at Auckland hospital on Monday, I count my lucky stars I only have painful joints.

That’s the situation at present, interesting times for us over the next few months. Now I wonder if Hugh can make my legs longer? I could do with being a few inches taller 😂

Life in the fast lane

March 25, 2018

We seem to have slipped back into our Camp Host mode at Shakespear Park all too easily so it seems. People come and go, we try and help those who need assistance with everything and anything from directions, to equipment, to booking enquiries and to top it all Roy has been lawnmowing the last couple of days! A ride on lawnmower I must add, but the contractors have not mown the campground for ages it seems, as every time they come to the park, the camp is full of school children so they leave the mowing for another day. Well, that day never seems to arrive, so Roy decided that it really did need doing and this past couple of days has been an ideal opportunity with hardly anyone in the camp.

one man went to mow, went to mow a meadow….

That’s a good job well done and at least it will be tidy ready for the full camp at Easter.

We seem to manage to keep ourselves busy and out of mischief and there is always something to be done either dealing with people or just keeping on top of tasks in the van. There are always chores to be done and more ideas to implement. Roy has put in two USB ports at either side of our bed so that we can charge iPads and phones etc overnight. As well they came in useful over the hot summer days as I bought two small USB fans, $5 each from that store where everyone gets a bargain, that I mounted at either side of our bed to keep a bit of cool air circulating on those very hot, still, humid summer evenings. And they worked a treat as well.

Roy is also putting in two 12v outlets in either side of our big back lockers, the wiring is already there as there were originally lights inside the locker that we never used, so they are being removed and replaced with the sockets. The 12v sockets will be useful as when we pump rain water that we have collected into our tank, we use a 12v bilge pump that we currently power via an extension cord through the bedroom window, across the bed to the nearest accessible plug. By having the outlet in the locker it is right next to the inlet pipe for the water and filter so there will be no cords running everywhere.

We also could have used the cigarette plug with our compressor which we use to top up the airbag suspension and also to check the air pressure in the tyres, however, our old compressor decided to stop working last week so Roy bought a new one, and this one definitely can only be run by jumping it off the car battery.

The compressor at work topping up the airbags.

We haven’t done any fishing for a while now, or so it seems, and I doubt if we will get a chance to do any over the next couple of months. Just as well I have a good supply of vacuum packed fish fillets in the freezer to keep us going.

I had a Dentist appointment last week as I broke a filling, I have to admit that I was not particularly looking forward to going, but I have to say that I think I have discovered a gem of a Dental Practice, Stanmore Bay Dental Studio. I was made to feel at ease by the Dentist Amanda and her assistant, I have to admit that the whole experience was painless, efficient and overall pleasant – not a term usually associated with going to the Dentist!!!. I can highly recommend them.

Tomorrow Roy has his “set up” appointment at the hospital so he can begin his radiation therapy. The treatment will last for 7 and a half weeks for 5 days a week which means going into the hospital daily. The treatment itself will begin on 11 April and we shall be moving from Shakespear once this begins to be closer to the hospital. Then on Tuesday I find out the results of the MRI I had last week and a plan of action will be put in place once we discuss the options, it will be either a hip replacement first or straight onto the knees, depending on the outcome of the scans. Then we begin the juggling act of hospitals, recovery, and rehabilitation as of course our respective hospitals are on opposite sides of the city! Oh well, keeps us on our toes I guess.

Friends, family and reunions

March 23, 2018

In the past month or so since we have been back it has been a flurry of activity catching up with friends, family and the odd couple of reunions as well. We caught up with brother Steve & Leslie fairly soon after getting back and then we made a quick dash up to Whakapirau to see Jackie & Chris and return the luggage they had kindly lent us and to sort out this years housesitting plans with them.

Then it was off down to Hamilton to Wade & Lindsays to help them celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary, it was fabulous to spend time with them and reminisce and catch up with all their news. We went out for dinner to a tapas restaurant called Gothenburg, and oh my goodness, what fabulous food, some of the best we’ve had in a very long time. The service was also brilliant and of course the company was outstanding! I asked our waiter to please take a picture of us and this is what we got,

yes, the wait staff having fun with selfies!!!

They did eventually take a couple of nice photos of the four of us though

On our return journey to Auckland we made a small diversion to Ararimu to Ron & Janet’s as there was to be a bit of a reunion of friends of Roy’s who were all at Howick District High School together…..Roy and Janet started school together, just a few years ago!

I forgot to take any photos that afternoon but here is a picture of some of them at school

Roy is second from left in the back row, another friend Roger (whom we went on a canal trip with in France in 2011) is back row 7th from left and Janet is in the second row from the front 7th from left.

We had a few days back at the van before heading off to catch up with more friends around the city. We visited Brian at his new home in Hobsonville. It just so happened to be his birthday and it was great to catch up with him and seeing him looking so well. We also managed to catch up with Gary & Marg (from Tokerau Beach) on their way through Auckland as they had a brief stopover at Gulf Harbour. We are really looking forward to getting back up to Tokerau Beach to see them again as soon as we can.

Roy had another reunion to attend, this time it was the Auckland Grammar 1958 class 60th reunion (NB some of us were not even a twinkle at that time!!!). Roy attended this reunion on his own…it’s a boy thing!!! where, by all accounts, a good time was had by all and a chance to meet up with class mates and Masters alike. Of the 150 boys in that years intake, there were 40-50 at the reunion, and a few recognisable names were amongst the roll call including Tom Schnackenberg (of America’s Cup fame), Mark Burgess, Ross Dykes and Terry Jarvis (cricket), Dave Gerard (Olympian and sports medicine) as well as many other well known business men.

that’s the 2018 version of the class of 1958.

There was a quick sprint down to Whakatane to catch up with John & Jude, they are off on a trip shortly and wanted to gather a bit of information from us from our recent trip as they will be visiting some of the places we went to. We also had to try a variety of Pedro Ximinez sherries that we all enjoy, and after our recent visit to Jerez it seemed appropriate.

the lineup!

Then we had a visit from Keith & Deb, and along with Pat & Sue we were parked in the Self Contained area at Shakespear as we were inundated with school camps in the main camp. Here we are all lined up…

One of these vans is not like the other!

Keith has a fishing drone which he kindly showed us how it works, and I have to admit that I’m smitten, it’s brilliant – you could say I’m hooked! It’s a great way of fishing off a beach and getting your line out into the water safely and as luck would have it we had a bit of success as well.

We enjoyed having their company and sharing BBQ’s

Keith, Roy, Sue, Pat and Deb

One night Keith’s daughter (my niece) Amy came to visit and we enjoyed another lovely evening and meal together

Amy, Roy, Keith and Deb.

More visits to friends around the city and then a lunch meeting in Warkworth with Mark & Glynis to catch up with them and their recent adventures on moving their launch north to Marsden Cove from Havelock in the Marlborough Sounds. We look forward to catching up with them again soon.

All in all, a busy time what with one thing and another, and if we haven’t caught up with some of you as yet, then we intend to do our best to see you soon.

Happy anniversary ‘gift’?

March 21, 2018

It’s that time of the year again, our wedding anniversary. Actually it was on the 13th March and yes, I’m a little slow in getting this blog done.

that’s us, with my sister Hilary and brother John, and no we haven’t changed a bit!

And what did I get for an anniversary gift? I went to see the specialist about my knees (finally) and he confirmed that they are completely buggered shot kaput had it and I probably should have had them done 11 years ago when I first planned it have them replaced before chickening out! The upshot is that I need two new knees BUT WAIT, there’s more.

Affter checking me out he thought that he should get a quick X-ray of my hips as one is very sore, which I presumed was just from walking weirdly to compensate for my knee. Half an hour later I was back in his office with X-rays in tow, he looked at them and said. “Hmmmm, these look abnormal, I think we had best get an MRI done”. Apparently, if the hips are not good and also need replacement then they need to be done first before knees for best results. The following morning I had the MRI scan done and next week I go back to put a plan of action in place. I will be the bionic woman with all these replacements. The thought of surgery is daunting but it has to be better than what I am putting up with now.

And what did Roy get for a present? Cracked ribs and torn cartilage is what he got after falling over when a bank gave way on him! He’s recovering slowly, he just has to avoid coughing and sneezing as things become rather painful.

We are a right pair aren’t we?

Kiwi release

March 13, 2018

It’s 3.39am and as I lie here awake (yet again), I am listening to the call of a male Little Spotted Kiwi here at Shakespear Park. How do I know it’s a male? Because I used Mr Google to look up the call of the little spotted kiwi and listened to the male and female calls with my headphones on, then removing the headphones to listen to the call, then headphones back on again to confirm it was exactly what I was hearing.

Last weekend another 20 kiwi were released into the park and again we were invited along to witness the event, however this time we were to have a little bit of involvement. And this time last year we were fortunate enough to be invited to the release of 20 kiwi into the Shakespear Open Sanctuary it was a very special and moving event which you can read about here.

The crowds gathered; invited guests, representatives of iwi, Navy, SOSSI, council and interested groups were present. Earlier we had assisted putting up the marquees and setting out the chairs as well as helping with the portioning of all the afternoon tea cakes and slices to accompany a cuppa later in the afternoon. We arrived to watch the ceremony and took our place at the back of the crowd.

However, we were not there for long before being asked if we would like to participate in the event by carrying out the kiwi in their boxes and then return them to their handlers. Of course we jumped at the chance to be part of this special event.

That meant that I was unable to take many photos so the only ones I have are ones that others have taken.

that’s Roy at the back of the procession (I’m on the other side of him) with Pat & Sue just in front of us.

These kiwi are the little spotted kiwi, there are not many of them on mainland New Zealand with half of theses kiwi coming from Kapiti Island near Wellington and the rest from Tiritiri Matangi Island just off Auckland.

The kiwi were welcomed onto the site by dignitaries

Speeches were made, Karakia sung, before we had to pick up our charges and return them to their quiet zone where a few of them were introduced to the crowds by their handlers.

our charges…Waikawhia and Hugh or better known by their monitored tracking numbers 53 and 63.

Ginny, one of the volunteer trained handlers, getting up close to a kiwi.

Kiwi were later quietly released around the park where they will hopefully breed and flourish. I look forward to many more nighttime calls.

Back in New Zealand

March 9, 2018

After a couple of good nights sleep we were ready to head down to Kopu to pick up the van. It had been having a bit of TLC whilst we were away with some R&M done with Matt and the excellent crew at Autotech. The van was all ready for us and on a quick inspection of repairs done we were soon on our way back to Auckland where we headed for Ardmore Airport as we would be parked there for the next few days. However, those plans were soon to change.

Roy back at the wheel

The fridge and pantry needed restocking as well as the task of unpacking and sorting out wardrobes ie. put away all the winter clothing particularly as on our return Auckland was putting on its finest weather of high temperatures and energy sapping humidity. There were also appointments to be kept with doctors and specialists which required a bit of planning and tripping across the city. Both Roy and Antony had returned home with some sort of flu virus with Roy ending up with pneumonia, for the next few days he was pretty well bed bound.

But hello, we have another problem that we thought had been resolved before we ventured off on holiday, the fridge was not working and in this heat milk was turning into yoghurt overnight! Any food purchases were kept to a minimum and most of our meals we were having at Antony’s place whilst both he and a Roy recouperated. After making lots of calls to try and sort out the fridge problem, as well as making sure that the previous repairs were still under warranty from both the repairer and the manufacturer and with lots of advice from some “experts” at Ardmore, we eventually upsticks and headed over to see Peter at RVRepairs in Gelnfield. Peter quickly had us on our way after a simple fix, so we then continued northwards to return to Shakespear Park.

on the motorway/carpark!

Whilst we have been on holiday, Pat & Sue have taken over our duties as camp hosts for the summer. Oh it was so nice to be back at the beach, parked on grass and of course great to see lots of familiar faces – Rangers, Volunteers and campers alike welcomed us home like long lost friends.

We settled into our usual routines back at the camp with lots of catching up with friends and family over the past few weeks (which will be the subject of another blog entry), and we have kept ourselves very busy what with one thing and another.

With the beginning of the school year the past few weeks has seen the camp being taken over by lots of school groups so we have decamped into the Self Contained Parking area for the interim but still do our duties from there and keep a watchful eye over the rest of the park. We shall probably stay here for the next week or two as there are more school groups booked in over the coming weeks and it seems stilly to keep moving in and out.

that’s a school group enjoying the water with sailing, paddle boarding and kayaking

and that’s the Navy boys on diving exercises off the beach. They also were in doing night diving exercises some evenings as well.

Our plans at this stage are a little up in the air as Roy starts a course of radiation treatment soon so we have to sort out dates and where we shall base ourselves. And the other news? Well, I am off to see the specialist next week to see about my knees….eeeeekkkk! I have managed to defer having replacements done for 10years now but the time has come where I cannot handle the pain, discomfort nor the lack of being able to stand or walk for any length of time before my knee collapses. Watch this space for what comes next.


March 3, 2018

There were emotional farewells at Heathrow, it does not get any easier to say farewell no matter how many times we experience it however with tissues deployed we were soon on the plane ready for our journey home. This time we were breaking the journey with a three night stop over in Singapore.

We were met at Changi Airport by our driver who took us into the city and our hotel, giving us a great running commentary along the way pointing out interesting views, buildings and facts.

first glimpse of the Singapore Wheel and Marina Bay Sands

Along one section of road he pointed out that the road was in fact very straight, had we noticed this? No, we hadn’t, then he pointed out that the median barrier between the dual carriageway were in fact large planters, which are in fact removable. It turns out that Lim Chu Kang Road can be used as an emergency runway if required in case of disaster. The large trees lining each side of the 6km motorway can be removed, as can lamp posts as well as the centre planters by the Army in hours to create a large runway. It was used in 2016 as part of a military exercise and as a practise.

Now that is clever.

After settling into our hotel, we found our way to one of the many hawker markets for a bite to eat before heading back for a good nights sleep.

The following morning we were off and out for a tour around the city taking in some of the many highlights and attractions.

the famous Raffles Hotel, closed and completely covered whilst major renovations are undertaken so no Singapore Sling here for us this time.

looking across to the Marina Bay Sands shopping and hotel complex with its rooftop gardens and pools and the lotus flower shaped building in the foreground.

and to prove I was there.

a selection of interesting sculptures on the road sides

plant covered sculpture to hide these vents

this one shows the vent, which is for underground parking, with the plants just starting to climb up the framework.

Next was a visit to the National Orchid Garden with its impressive collection of orchids, I’ll let the pictures tell the story

Then it was off to see the Merlion, the National symbol of Singapore, it’s a mythical creature with a lion’s head and the body of a fish.

To prove that our selfie skills are not getting any better

There was visits to markets, Chinatown, and Little India where we neglected to take photos, and also a visit to Changi Prison to the museum located there. This required a trip on the MRT, Singapore’s excellent (and cheap) train and underground.

Changi prison was built in the mid 1930’s by the British and was designed to house around 600 prisoners. However, during the Second World War the Japanese took control of the island and prison. Following the fall of Singapore in February 1942, the Japanese military detained about 3,000 civilians in Changi Prison. The Japanese used the British Army’s Selarang Barracks, near the prison, as a POW camp, holding some 50,000 Allied soldiers, predominantly British and Australian; and from 1943, Dutch civilians brought over by the Japanese from the islands in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). POWs were in fact rarely, if ever, held in the civilian prison. Nevertheless, in the UK, Australia, The Netherlands and elsewhere, the name “Changi” became synonymous with the infamous POW camp nearby.

Photography is not allowed at the museum and prison area.

Back at our hotel, these impressive glass art works were displayed in the lobby

Soon enough our time in Singapore came to an end, and to be honest, we just wanted to get home. Our flight home was uneventful and we arrived in the early hours of the morning NZ time, where Antony was waiting to pick us up. Although he had left London a day after us he took a more direct route home and arrived the day before us.

It was nice to be back in NZ again after our four months away. Looking back we did manage to pack a fair bit into our time away and we can now look forward to planning the next trip.