Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Baby news and Singapore photos

Hi everyone. My first bit of news is the birth of our second
granddaughter, little India, last Thursday, by CS, which went
OK. Both mum and baby came out of hospital on Saturday, and
are very well. We've had lots of visitors as you can imagine,
so we've been busy looking after them as well. I'll post some
baby photos in my next post.

Well, I promised you some photos of Singapore from our stop-
overs on our trip to NZ, there and back. We were very lucky to
have the company of India's father, J., who showed us some of
the best sights and who looked after us well. J is Anglo-Indian
and was working in Singapore at the time -- he's in the Raffles
Long Bar photo below.

So the photos are of a shopping area near Madison's Hotel to
show you how clean these areas are ... all the shops & hotels
are air-conditioned, which is great. Sentosa Island is the
place to go if you like hot sunny beaches (which are artificial
by the way) and entertainment of various sorts. For those who
like gardens, the Botanic Gardens is a must-see -- beautifully
laid out and a pleasure to wander around (and a lovely posh
restaurant in the Ginger Gardens to visit at night -- the
Halia). Oh, the fabulous views from the top of the Swissotel -
the restaurant on the 71st floor is usually open for passing
visitors at about 3pm. Excellent restaurants on the riverside,
by the way. And the famous Raffles Hotel -- J took us into
the Long Bar for some atmosphere, and to try out their
cocktail, Singapore Sling (the pink drinks you'll see in the
background, which were too sweet for me). And we wandered
around Chinatown, which was very pretty, with its colourful
market stalls and temples. I think Singapore is a great place
for a short stay, and our flights with Singapore Airlines were

Monday, January 22, 2007

Cancer scare over

I've been feeling grim in the past 12 days, ever since I
discovered a rectal lump, which is the size of a small pea.
I'd been plagued with thoughts of early rectal CA, all the
horrendous treatment that it entails, and the possibility
of an early death in the next 6 - 12 months. And then all
the ramifications ... what to say to our girls and the
rest of our family and friends, and when to tell them,
and what to do in the meantime in my remaining life-time.

To cut a long story short, I was greatly relieved to hear
that the lump is harmless, when I attended the local
colo-rectal clinic in Nottingham today ... Mrs C was
relieved also, as she was very worried too. It feels
as if I've been let off a death sentence. Well if there
is a God up there, very many thanks to you, though I have
to admit that I didn't say any prayers.

My poor brother Peter is seriously ill in hospital with
leukaemia. I went to see him 10 days ago, when he looked
ill ... I could see that he wasn't well enough to receive
visitors. My sisters went to see him yesterday and spent
half an hour with him at his bedside ... one of them had
come all the way over from Strasbourg to see him ...
possibly for the last time. He's seven years older than
I am, and chose to carry on working (as a doctor) until
a couple of years ago, when he was 65. So he's not got
much time left in retirement, unfortunately, but that was
his choice -- he really loved his work.

At the other end of the life & death spectrum is the happier
news that our second granddaughter is due this Thursday ...
L. went into hospital at the end of last week, owing to her
low-lying placenta, and the doctors will be doing the CS at
the 38 week stage. So by next Sunday, we should have mother
and babe home with us for a while -- possibly for 6 weeks
until L. can start lifting heavy weights (when the operation
scar has firmed up). Very exciting news.

I'll post a selection of photos of Singapore, next time.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

More NZ photos

We spent a few days in NZ visiting relatives on the west
coast of the North Island. The first photo below is a view
of the hills on the approach road to Kawhia (pronounced as
calfia), where we stayed. The next two pics are of the
idyllic garden and sea view from one of the houses in
Kawhia -- a gardener's paradise, full of citrus trees.
Across the bay from Kawhia is Hauturu, where the Cavers
family first settled back in 1906.

Next up is a photo of the Cavers family (part of it), who
emigrated from Scotland to become farmers in NZ. My wife's
great grandmother, Elizabeth, is sitting under the window
in this photo. The next pic is the house they built, which
we went to see. They bought 100 acres of land for £1 an
acre -- I don't know where they got so much money from, as
Mr Cavers was a policeman before he emigrated. The family
cleared the land of most of the bush, bought livestock and
subsequently built a second home nearby. It must have been
a struggle for them in the early years, just to feed so
many people. The boys had to walk 6 miles barefoot to get
to the local school.

I've included a couple of pics of Mrs C and myself for you
to see -- I look as if I own the place, don't you think? I
forgot to breathe in for this photo, to make myself look

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

a day at the zoo in AKL

In the past few days, I've spent many hours sorting through
all my NZ photos, picking out the best ones, and photoshopping
them. I took lots of photos of old photos of our NZ ancestors
& present day relatives, and I've been sprucing some of them
up (removing various blemishes on the photos).

Our daughter L. has an antenatal clinic apppointment today at
the University Hospital. She's now 37 weeks and her tummy is
looking very large (the baby's in transverse lie). She'll be
getting her date for the C.S. today, which should be early next
week. All very exciting.

I promised you some photos of some zoo animals, so here are a
few of the better ones I took. If you're visiting Auckland, the
zoo is a great place to visit, especially for childen (and for
big kids like me). You'll see from the first photo that it was a
hot sunny day, though later it became cloudy and cooler. It was
feeding time for most of the animals, so we got a good view of
most of them. There was a huge pane of glass between us and the
tiger, which looked as though it had just had lunch.

Friday, January 12, 2007

photos of Auckland New Zealand

Here are a few shots of AKL, the main landmark being the Sky
Tower. The brown building on the harbourside is the ferry
buiding on Queen Street. It was a day of sunshine and showers
when I took the main street photos.

The traffic lights are timed so that city folk can barn-dance
diagonally across the main junctions - and the lights give
pedestrians a countdown from 20 to zero, to encourage them to
get a move on, which we noticed was the same in Singapore. I
think the town planners in the UK should adopt this idea.

Some photos of AKL Zoo for you next time.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Happy to be bloggin' again

Hey, I reckon I've got a lot of catching up to do with all
you folks. You might be wondering what I've been up to in
the last week or two since we got back to the UK. First of
all we've had a house full of family and their friends - a
huge family reunion to make up for our absence at Xmas. It
was really lovely to see everyone again, but a lot of work
for Mrs C and myself - like running a hotel with all meals
provided for our guests, with very few staff.

My little den (which has unlimited computer access) was turned
into a Sick Bay for one of our nieces, who had a bad dose of
flu-like symptoms, a streaming cold and a bad cough. I'm
pleased to say she's made an excellent recovery and went back
home to London today.

So I've got my den back again .....(I had to make do with
sharing a bed with Mrs C for the past few weeks - with a couple
of anti-snoring devices attached my nose & mouth, which are not
very erotic to wear. Imagine this scenario ... "Oh, Darling,"
she murmured with an alluring voice to James, cuddling up to
him in bed, "I do love those cute, spiky things you're wearing
... I'm feeling really turned on by them. Do you feel the same?"
..... "Er... No!", said James, after plucking out his mouth
guard to reply to her.)

I've sorted through loads of holiday photos, and have reduced
them down to 3 CD-Roms .. however I feel somewhat daunted
about picking out just a few to show you, as I've got so many.
I've also been busy with Nottm U3A stuff, updating the website
with a lot of info from the latest U3A newsletter, and
preparing talks with Powerpoint presentations - I've given a
couple this week (one on Photoshop & the other on our audio-
visual equipment).
I've spent a morning with a couple of mates, playing Golden
Oldies on our electric guitars, and having a pub lunch with
them afterwards -- the TV comedy series, "Last of the Summer
Wine", springs to my mind.
Our second daughter, L., has come to stay with us for the next
couple of months -- she's due to have a Caesearean Section in
the next couple of weeks, as the placenta is very low-lying.
Her partner is working abroad at present, but plans to get
back for the birth.
A couple of good things about having a CS -- having a painless
birth and knowing exactly when it will be. If I were a woman,
I'd go for an epidural/general anaesthetic every time ... just
imagine having several teeth being pulled out without a local
anaesthetic, and having to put up with the agonising pain
going on and on for hours and hours.
If men gave birth to babies, I'm sure that CS births would be
the norm. How else could men fit in all their committee
meetings and business lunches, and having a round of golf with
their chums? Can you imagine a bloke putting up with pain for
hours on end? "Nurse! Get me the morphine, now!"

I had a go at uploading a few photos, but Blogger wouldn't let
me .. so I'll have another go tomorrow.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year

Hi everyone. Yes, we're ba-aa-ck! We had a fantastic holiday in NZ
and Singapore, made extra special for us by having relatives to
stay with and/or to show us around - they all made us feel
very much at home with them and very welcome.

We missed seeing our family back in the UK, of course, and having
a Xmas Day BBQ on one of the hottest days in NZ didn't feel very
Xmassy. The BBQ was brilliant otherwise. I was glad to miss the
endless commercialism of Xmas that we see in the shops and on the
TV here in the UK, and all the old films the TV companies put on
at Xmas. The only things I missed seeing on TV were the annual
carol service from King's College, Cambridge ... I like listening
to the wonderful singing ... and, of course, and the Queen's
Speech (as if).

Well, with my fabulous camera, the Canon Digital Rebel, I took
hundreds of photos, a few of which I'll show you over the next
week or two. Here are a couple of NZ beach photos for you, the
beach was near Kerakera, a gorgeous place north of AKL. Some of
the beaches we saw were vast expanses of sand with very few
people on them.