Winter 2019

Winter 2019 in New Zealand

Harmonieii


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Tongariro

Winter arrived here in New Zealand on June 1st right on time with heavy snowfalls in the South of the South Island and a sudden drop in temperatures to single figures at night and highs in the mid teens here in Tauranga which was a shock to the system after the balmy weather we have had throughout the autumn.

The adjacent picture is of Tongariro National Park which has three active volcanoes. Mount Ruapehu is one of them and is the highest point in the North Island at 2,797 metres.

On the previous page I mentioned my scepticism of the medical profession and this stems from my own personal experiences, however, it is thanks to the medical profession I am alive today when as a child I was rushed into hospital with appendicitis and peritonitis and almost died. I suppose I should not criticise but then I caught dysentery in hospital after the operation through poor care and almost died a second time!

Regular readers of this web site will have read of my latest tussle with the medics when they initially diagnosed a stroke but then failed to prove it, never the less putting me on statins from which I had some bad side effects and despite my cholesterol level being very low.
Against my doctors advice I took myself off them. His and her advice was that I had high blood pressure and was therefore at risk despite taking medication to keep my blood pressure in check.

Kiwi joke:
A bloke walks into a bar in New Zealand and orders a shandy. All the Kiwis sitting around the bar look up, expecting to see another Australian visitor.
The barman says, "You aren't from around here, are ya?"
The guy says, "No, I'm from Canada."
The bartender says, "What do you do in Canada?"
The guy says, "I'm a taxidermist."
The bartender says, "A tixidermist? What the hick is a tixidermist? Do you drive a tixi?'"
The guy says, "No, a taxidermist doesn't drive a taxi. I mount animals."
The bartender grins and yells, "He's ok boys. He's one of us!"

In the UK and in many parts of the world the elderly are on statins as a precaution. The doctors will tell you that many studies have shown conclusively that statins reduce the risk of a heart attack and they quote statistics. For example it is claimed that 33% of men are at risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next ten years and this is reduced to 23% if you take statins. So 10% of men would have been prevented from having a heart attack.

These statistics are arrived at by studies over a period of 10 years of a group of people on statins against another group on a placebo. The results are genuine but they do not tell you how many of those in the study suffered from other medical problems or died of other causes. They also rely on relative percentages rather than absolute ones. Are you confused? If so then read on...

Orstralian Politics

Last year on our way to New Zealand we stopped for a few days in our old happy hunting ground of Melbourne, catching up with a few old acquaintances.
One of them brought the subject around to politics and began to spout some very anti-brexit propaganda, guaranteed of course to raise my hackles!

Some of the stuff she was saying had a familiar ring about it and she subsequently revealed she was a member of an organisation called GetUp which I had never heard of. A Cobberdiggerbuddypal explained that this was a left wing pressure group active in Oz funded in part by George Soros and it all fell into place.

If you are interested in learning about GetUp you can learn more here.

George Soros made a lot of his money by betting $10 billion against Sterling during the currency crisis of 1992 and made $1 billion profit in the process. He is now worth in excess of $8 billion and is a Hungarian born naturalised American citizen who actively interferes in other nations politics by funding predominantly left wing organisations including GetUP.

Soros was educated at the London School of Economics. In the UK Soros has donated £400,000 to the anti-Brexit 'Best for Britain' group and a total of £303,000 to two pro-EU organizations, the European Movement UK and Scientists for EU, and a centre-right think-tank, Bright Blue. He supports the idea of a federal Europe.

The Oz Liberals (confusingly not liberals but right wing conservative) and Country Party coalition recently won a general election against all the predictions. The Oz Labour party are still in a state of shock and many pundits think the underhand activities of GetUp had something to do with it as the ectorate saw though them.

What gets my goat is the very people who complain bitterly about outside interference in their politics when the likes of The Donald pokes his oar in or where Nige's Brexit party gets its funding, happily accept cash from the likes of George Soros. A plague on all their houses!

Recent Visitors

We were honoured to receive Auckland royalty in the persons of Terri and Byron who stayed a couple of nights. I had recorded the England v Baa-Baa's game which we all watched and discussed the likely finalists in the forthcoming Rugby World Cup.
We also watched some of the World Cup Cricket and took great delight in the Australian top order being unable to handle the Windies bowlers. Byron wants the Kiwi umpire sacked who failed to spot a huge no-ball by Mitchell Starc then gave Gayle out the next ball which should have been a free hit. Smithy was roundly booed on and off the field and all the team were searched for sandpaper!

Terri & Byron at Minden Lookout

We all went for a Dim-Sum at 88 Devonport Chinese then we took them up the hill above Te Pune where they were snapped for posterity. We also took them to the Quarry Park so they know where it is for the next time they are down.

United Kingdom GDP

Britain is the 5th largest world economy measured as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita but simply measured as the total value of GDP the UK is currently 9th.

When such figures are quoted there is often confusion between the two. The first is a measure of productivity whereas the second measures the total economy irrespective of population. For example India was 7th GDP per capita in 2015 but was the 3rd largest economy in the world in total.

Graph of World GDP historic rankings

Like all statistics they can reflect whatever argument you want to put across that will favour your point of view (including me). If you are pro EU you will interpret the stats and present the ones that make it look like membership of that organisation has been good for Britain whilst a Brexiteer like me will present the opposite so who should we believe?

Here is a graph I have prepared showing the UK world GDP rankings from 1920 to 2015. As you can see The UK has gone from 3rd in the world to 9th. Furthermore since joining the EEC in 1973 the UK has sunk from 6th to 9th place in the world so anyone who tries to tell you otherwise like a certain political party is talking bollocks! Make your own mind up.

Super Rugby Week 17

The penultimate week of the Super Rugby competition between teams from New Zealand, Australia, Japan, South Africa and Argentina began with the Highlanders versus the Bulls under the roof in Dunedin and the Blues versus the Reds up in snowy Queensland. Some teams will have no further interest after this week as they will have no possibility to join the final eight teams in the play-offs and you can discover the winners and losers by clicking here...


Bad News

Regular readers will know that my wife Sue was being treated by the GP for a muscle or ligament strain. After x-rays, ultrasound and various blood tests which found nothing she was referred to a sports injury specialist who are able to arrange an MRI scan here in NZ which GP's can't. After three months of pain we asked the GP to prescribe opiates and refer her to the hospital. The GP spoke to the hospital bone doctor who agreed to see her the same day if we went in to the Emergency department immediately.

It is much the same here as in the UK and we waited 4 hours to be seen, however, they examined her and did a more extensive x-ray then asked us to attend the outpatients clinic the next day. We were then told that the x-rays were different to the previous ones and they wanted to do further tests. They admitted her there and then to hospital and she was given a very nice private room with en-suite for a couple of days while they did a CT scan which showed what was diagnosed as Bone Metastasis.

This is a secondary cancer of the bone, the primary tumour likely coming from the lung. There is no cure but the pain can be managed in various ways. Sue is otherwise healthy which will help her treatment but we are both shocked especially as she can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times she has ever needed a doctor. Sue seems to be bearing up well but I am finding it pretty hard to take though I am now highly skilled in all forms of housework and cooking although my appetite is much reduced.

The result from the biopsy will be known in a few days when we will know the type of cancer she has and the treatments Sue will get. I will update this web site as things develop but in the meantime if you have bone pain for a couple of weeks let alone three months, insist on your GP referring you to a specialist. It will not make any difference to the outcome if you have bone cancer but the sooner you start the treatment the better.

Here in NZ you pay to see a GP but hospital treatment is free. The result is that people will go to a hospital Emergency Department to get treated to avoid paying a GP, thus making the delay to be treated longer. Something wrong there with the system. My suggestion is that the Triage Nurse should asess if the patient could be treated by a GP and if so make the same charge.

More Super Rugby

This was week 18 which was the last week of the regular season when the top eight teams then play quarters, semi finals and a final over the next three weeks.
To find out which teams made it to the play-offs and those who will play no more this season click here....

NZ Super v UK Pension

The saga of moving our UK state pension to NZ continues and reinforces the rank incompetance of civil servants which I ranted about on the previous page.
For those who did not read of our problems, the UK pensions service claimed they had overpaid us some amounts accrued when working in Australia due to some obscure legislation back in 2008 when the UK and Australian government decided that such amounts could only be paid if we were UK residents.

They then simply stopped paying all our pensions, not just the the Australian part which is comparitively small, but the whole amount.
We complained that they now owed us more than we owed them so would they please restore that part of our pension earned in the UK and retain the amount overpaid.

I received a text from the International Pensions Centre saying they had tried to phone me without success and to phone them. This was a downright lie as we were both sitting in our lounge from the time the Centre opened at 0800 GMT to 0927 GMT when the text arrived and no phones rang in that time.

If you are interested in the result of my expensive international phone calls to the pensions service and the way UK civil servants treat elderly pensioners you can read more here...

Mike with Sox, Me, Fred, Sue & MaryanneSue, Maryanne & Diane

We had a visit from Whanganui royalty in the shape of the in-laws Mike and Diane. They delivered a walking frame for Sue from her Mum which she has found useful in getting around. Then the next day Fred and Maryanne joined the party from KatiKati for a mini family reunion and we all ate Patricks Pies for lunch.

We had thought that Sue would start her course of Radio Therapy treatment today (Monday 24th June) and we both hoped it would help her with pain relief. Unfortunately she only had the CT scan which calculates the co-ordinates for the Radiotherapy machine to target the tumours with as all their machines are fully booked at the moment so she is still waiting for an appointment slot. She has also been advised by Tauranga Hospital that she has been accepted for an Oncology appointment with an urgent priority when we assume future medicinal care will be decided.

In the meantime I decided she needed a wheelchair. The Occupational Therapist at the hospital informed me that they could not lend us a wheelchair unless Sue was unable to stand even though standing causes her considerable pain. She offered to tell me where I could hire one but I had already discovered that private local mobility firms charge $45 per week. I found a firm in Auckland who charged just under $240 to buy a new one delivered to Tauranga so it has been ordered and if we don't need it later on we could always hire it out and get a return in under 6 weeks just like these local mobility rip-off merchants!

Super Rugby Play-Offs

I know many of the better educated UK readers will be dying to know the Super Rugby results while my Kiwi friends will also be glorying in the very close win over the Windies in the World Cup Cricket. I don't really follow the ODI game much as I'm more of a Test Cricket man myself but I do take pleasure in noting that NZ now leads the standings above Orstralia. But the Super Rugby tournament is coming to an end and you can read more here....

WCC

This WC Cricket is well named. Not only was England stuffed by they Ozzies but they displaced New Zealand to second place in the process. Thic bloke Starkers must be sandpapering his balls surely?
The Kiwi's have a game in hand but it is against Pakistan in Birnigum, the curry city, and will be stuffed full of their supporters. Not the easiest of run-ins as they then play Oz followed finally by England.
England have only two games before the finals and play India next at the curry capital full of Indian supporters worshipping Virat Kholi and not even watching the game most of the time! England's last game is against New Zealand at Chester-le-Street. The most they can score if they win both games would be 12 points. Will it be enough?

The highest points scored by the top four teams after they have all played each other will play in the finals. England are currently on 8 points in 4th place behind India on 9, NZ on 11 and Oz on 12 with Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan all threatening for a place in the last four. The only consolation is that it's not proper cricket.

The Land of the Long White Cloud

For the last week the nights have been really cold down to 2°C but once the sun gets up the temperature rises to around 15°C, no wind and crystal clear. The Maori called New Zealand the land of the long white cloud and that cloud formation is often the view as I sit at my computer which you can see above.

We had another visit from Auckland Royalty, this time it was Sue's brother Phil who had visited Tauranga by ship many times when he was on active service with the NZ Navy but rarely made it past the nearest Mount Maunganui bar! We gave him a drive around town, knocked back a few beers and talked rugby of course.

Talking of rugby I see that Warren Gatland, a Hamilton man and the Whales coach, has landed the coaches job at Waikato Chiefs who he used to play for many years ago. In addition he will take a year off from the Chiefs to coach the Lions for their South African tour. He once said that a Lions coach should always be coaching a home nations side as he will then be up to date with the local talent? Difficult to do that from Hamilton.
It was the semi-finals of Super Rugby this Saturday and you can read all about it here....

Sue's Progress

Sue & Sox

Sue has still not started any treatment and this week received a letter asking her to contact the hospital as she had not turned up for an appointment. She had not been informed about any appointment so this was an obvious cock-up. A phone call secured an appointment at the hospital the next day where she saw a lady bone doctor. The problem seems to be that they have been unable to identify the primary source of the bone cancer and she may have to have a further biopsy. Until the source of the cancer is established the medical treatment can not begin but we expect progress in the next few days.
Meanwhile we also await the radiotherapy clinic starting treatment. You have orthopedic, oncology and radiotherapy specialists involved and there doesn't seem to be too much joined up organisation.

All the doctors remark on how healthy Sue looks and we now seem to have the pain under control. We have now taken delivery of a wheelchair and went out for a trial run on Sunday. It is nice and light but has solid tyres so not so good on rough surfaces. We parked just off Waihi Rd, crossed over the River Waikareao and walked round the Estuary on the boardwalk as far as Matupae Island. The tide was out and the remains of the old causeway could clearly be seen. The Island was known as Rat Island by the Pakeha (Europeans) but a nicer one was Peach Island, so named for the abundance of wild peach trees which grew there.
The island was used by the local Judea Maori as their burial ground so the island is tapu (sacred and forbidden) and you are not allowed to visit to eat the peaches.

The weather remained glorious for our expedition but the next day the rain finally arrived but it did become much warmer. We finally received a firm date for radiation treatment of 22nd July but Sue's pain increased and moved from her left to her right side. This necessitated a change to some stronger morphine pain killers which had the side effect of nausea. This is a common side effect and usually stops with continual use once the body learns to cope with it.


It is the super rugby final tonight (6th July) between The Crusaders from Christchurch and the Jaguares from Buenos Aires which I confidentially expected the Saders to win. There is some talk locally about how good it would be for rugby if the Jags won it which is most unkiwilike! The other hot topic is wether the Black Caps (the NZ cricket team) can beat the Ozzies in the WCC semi-final. I do hope so but doubt it, any road up you can read all about the super rugby final here...

Daughter Rebecca restoring Somerset signposts

WCC

Against all predictions the Jarpies beat Oz at the WCC. This promoted Indial to the top spot and meant that the Kiwis did not have to play Oz in the semi but Engerland will. This makes Engerland's task slightly easier as Oz should be easier to beat than Indial. My prediction was an Engerland v Indial final but against all expectations they Kiwi's did the business on the Indians.

On a slow pitch at Old Trafford the Kiwi's won the toss and then struggled to reach a score of 239. This was on the second day of the "one day" match as the game was abandoned on the first day due to rain which most will know is unheard of in Manchester where most of the inhabitants have webbed feet! The Indians then took to the field and by the second over they were 7 for 3 with Captain Kholi out for 1. They never really recovered from the shock and despite some valiant efforts by Dangerous Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja late in the day they fell short of the required runs by 18.

Quotes 'wot I like:
The very word 'cricket' has become a synonym for all that is true and honest. To say 'that is not cricket' implies something underhand, something not in keeping with the best ideals.
Sir Pelham Warner 1873 - 1963.

The locals here are of course delirious with joy to be in the WCC final and to have beaten Indial. Up in Auckland they have problems with local Indian teams who are so intent on winning that even their Indian umpires conspire to rule in their favour making it difficult to get them out so not really cricket. I would hasten to add that this is not the Indian professional game but the amateurs playing here in New Zealand. The fans are also OTT and I did not bother to go to the ODI's here in Tauranga as I did not want to sit amongst a load of dancing, screaming, Indian supporters having orgasms every time a run was scored! The Barmy Army are bad enough but here in the Godzone we are all members of the Pyjama Army as you have to stay up all night to watch it live!

Quotes 'wot I like:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here, And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
William Shakespeare 1564 - 1616.

Engerland should beat Oz in the other semi-final tonight but I would not bet money on it, however, one of them will play New Zealand in the final this Sunday.

And of course you could not have failed to learn, even if you have no interest in cricket, that Engerland not only beat they Ozzies, but they stuffed them good and proper by 8 wickets and with 18 overs still in hand.
The highlight of the game for me was when Captain Finch was getting the bird from the barmy army as his bowlers were having no success getting the wickets of the Engerland openers so he threw the ball to Smithy. Jason Roy promptly hit a hat trick of sixes and Smithy's face was a picture. He only lasted the one over!

Hillary Barry

So the final is between Engerland and the Black Cats, Caps sorry, and even those poorly educated Kiwi souls who think cricket is for the birds are now cricket fans, entertaining wild thoughts of a NZ cricket and rugby world cup double. That was suggested by Hillary Barry who is a journalist who hosts a nightly TV current affairs show with Jeremy Wells who is a cricket fan and has tried to explain to Hillary that she has to tune in at 9pm Sunday night for the anthems and then watch the final until about 4-30am. She thought that was a long time and I can't wait until Jeremy tells her how long Test Matches last.

Incidentally Hillary is married to Mike Barry who is the son of All-Black Kevin Barry who was not the Irish Republican we Brits executed in 1920. She is also distantly related to suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst so, as Jeremy says, should not be upset!

My prediction is once again that Engerland have enough in-form batsmen and bowlers to overcome the Kiwi's but I wouldn't put money on it. The important game was knocking they Ozzies out, a sentiment that most Kiwi's would agree with!

Sue's Progress

On advice from the hospital we contacted Waipuna Hospice and are very glad we did. Our understanding of hospice care was that it is something you turn to when you are close to death but this is not the case, certainly not here in NZ. Their main function is to provide palliative care for those who have been diagnosed with something for which there is no known cure but even such organisations web sites give the contrary impression.

In the UK we have the Macmillan Nurses who generally work in the NHS but here in NZ their equivalent work for the local Hospice and we received a visit from one I shall call Pam who listened to all our problems and set out to resolve them.

We were having problems with getting around the house with the wheelchair we had purchased and she explained that they had lots of different wheelchairs we could borrow and arranged for me to select one there and then. She said that Sue should not be in any pain or be so immobile and she would contact the hospital and the radiation clinic oncologist to get things moving. Later that evening she phoned to say she had arranged with the hospital registrar to admit Sue for medical treatment and the oncologist had asked for an MRI scan. We were to present ourselves at Emergency ASAP, there would be no waiting and they knew we were coming which is exactly what happened.

Sue spent two days on the ward getting treated for all her problems. Pain control was improved as was her mobility, nausea, constipation and appetite. Finally instead of waiting for her first radiation treatment until 22nd July she began it on the 12th and it was all down to Pam who must have read the riot act!

The hospital let her come home for the weekend but told us if there was any further cause for concern her bed would be kept for her and so far we have had no further set backs. I have removed the door to the bathroom so we can get the new wheelchair in right up the shower so Sue can step in and on to her stool. With the door on we could not get the wheelchair close to the shower. Fortunately we have a separate toilet so you can still defecate in privacy! I have since put a curtain up to restore bathroom privacy.

Wheelchair Ramp

We had arrived back home about 6pm and although I had managed to get the wheelchair down the front steps when we left, getting it back up by myself proved impossible and I had to call on the help of neighbours to lift her up. I had previously researched ramps on the net and had found an affordable solution at dear old Bunnings so my first job the next day was to purchase two wheelbarrow ramps. These are designed for wheelbarrows not wheelchairs so my idea was to use two and you can see the result above.

Having secured them to the wooden steps and positioned them to suit the wheelchair width we did a trial run fully loaded with Sue down and up and it worked perfectly. Aluminium wheelchair ramps this length can set you back thousands of dollars but this solution cost under $250 so I am very pleased as I have to take Sue for radiation treatment every day next week so we need a reliable transit method.

WCC Final

Well despite my love of test cricket I can't remember ever seeing such an exciting game of any sort of cricket than this final. Kiwi born Ben Stokes and Somerset boy Josh Buttler saved Engerland's bacon and should be knighted but Ben's dad is in the poo over here! Lots of Kiwi's naturally upset at the result but they shouldn't be as the real result was a draw and they are really equal world champions.

For those of you who didn't watch it (Hillary did and so did Sue) both sides were tied on 241 after 50 overs so each side played one super over with a nominated bowler and batsman and each scored 15 runs so were still tied. England were then made world champions because they scored more boundaries in the tournament than the Kiwis, a totally pointless exercise.

Much more important is that next month we have the delicious prospect of beating they ball sandpapering Ozzies into submission in the Ashes series, then after that the rugby world cup. I can't wait!

Quotes 'wot I like:
I haven't got a blue blazer and I don't have dandruff.
David Hookes after being asked why he didn't become a cricket administrator.

I should comment though on the way cricket uses technology. In ODI's each team can challenge the umpires decisions once in each innings. If the challenge is correct and the umpire is wrong then they keep the right to challenge but if the umpire is right they lose it. Not only that but if they are correct but the technology shows it to be a close call then the umpire's decision stands. Bloody stupid arrangement I reckon.

They should take a leaf out of the rugby law book and if the umpire is in doubt on appeal he should request a review otherwise not. The umpire's in the semi's and the final made some bad decisions but those decisions could not be changed by technology if it was a close call. The umpire should be in charge and be able to change his decision if he feels after the review his decision was wrong.

Sue's Progress

Sue completed the first week of radiation treatment. We had been given a week of appointments and had assumed that was it but on the last day she was given a further week of appointments. It is a little difficult to try and plan your life when you have no idea how long the treatment is going to last and nobody seems able to tell you but we do know that the course of treatment could take several weeks.

Similarly we are assured that the pathology lab are still carrying out tests to determine the primary source of the secondary bone cancer that she has. Until the source is discovered the type of chemotherapy can not be determined as different drugs are used for different types of cancer. It is sometimes not possible to determine the source and this condition is called Carcinoma of Unknown Primary (CUP) and is rare. Where the cancer began in the body also determines the life expectancy.

If a diagnosis of CUP is made then which drugs to use may be decided by where in the body the secondary bone cancer is located and what area the primary source is likely to be located but it seems just to be an educated guess. Research is ongoing and you may consider joining a clinical trial for new drugs as part of your continuing treatment to slow the cancer's progress.

We are both amazed how many of our old friends and acquaintances who have contacted us who have friends and loved ones who have succumbed to this debilitating disease. Apparently 38.4% of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point during their lifetimes so I suppose it should not be a surprise.

We had a visit from Sue, the occupational physiotherapist at Waipuna Hospice. She brought with her a magic bit of kit I will call a shower slider, a higher toilet seat with handles each side for support and a gubbins that slides under the bed mattress that provides support to get you in and out of bed. See the slide show above for further explanation.
You sit on the shower slider seat and it swivels 90 degrees then you slide smoothly into the shower. We had full scale painless tests of everything with the patient making adjustments to suit and we really are thankful for the wonderful support we are getting from the dedicated Waipuna team.

We had a consultation with the radiation clinic oncologist who explained that the treatment to the lesions next to Sue's spinal chord was now complete. It might be several weeks before any positive effects are felt. The pain and mobility should improve but there is no guarantee. For the next few days they will zap the tumours next to her hip joint which will be causing the pain during movement. A further consultation will be in six weeks time when she will be referred to a medical oncologist to plan further treatment.

The Rugby Championship

This is what used to be known as the Tri Nations until 2012 when Argentina joined the competition. This year the competition will be shortened due to the impending World Cup in Japan and the first games were played on Sunday 21st July. South Africa played Australia at Ellis Park in Jo'burg and Argentina play New Zealand at Estadio José Amalfitani in Buenos Aires. You can read about the results here....

Domain Names

Anyone reading this website will by now appreciate that we are both living in New Zealand but still have a .UK domain name. We host the site with a NZ company and can have a domain name from any country we choose with one exception. That exception is a .EU domain name.

The EU decided that once the UK had left the EU, anyone using the .EU domain name must change their location to the EU or lose it. There was such an outcry from individuals and businesses who were in danger of losing their digital identity that the EU relented and said that ownership of a .EU domain must be held by a EU citizen but who need not be resident in the EU.

As far as I am aware the EU is the only organisation in the world to restrict domain ownership in this way. The internet provides the means to communicate with any person or organisation throughout the world. This action impedes communication and highlights the EU's small minded, elitist, bureaucratic and spiteful attitude towards the UK, simply because it voted to leave that organisation.

Imagine the chaos if the USA decided to stop people using the .COM domain unless they were US citizens.

Who is supporting who?

Jeremy HuntBoris Johnson

Look at the two photo's above of BoJo and Hunt campaigning for the leadership of the Tory party. In the back of each shot there is the same guy. Is he one of Nigel's hit men campaigning for both candidates? Is he a Russian spy or is he just a bloke that likes to get his face in the paper?

Boris did win the election and for the time being (nobody knows for how long) he is our new Prime Minister. Like him or loath him, and for the BBC, judging from their latest news reports, it is the latter, he will please those of us who want to see an end to this prolonged Brexit. Only clueless politicians could vote to tie a negotiators hands by telling the EU we can not leave without a deal and Boris is committed to leaving without one if the EU won't negotiate a deal acceptable to parliament.

Boris has begun by making Harold Macmillan's night of the long knives look like a snowflake's convention! Supermac sacked 7 ministers after taking office and Boris sacked 17! Not only that but he has recruited Dominic Cummings as his senior adviser in No 10. This has many Tory MP's soiling their strides as the guy has little or no respect for the profession which makes me hold him in high regard.

Let us look at some of the things he has said in the past:

  1. David Davis is 'thick as mince, lazy as a toad and vain as Narcissus'.
  2. David Cameron is 'an incompetent Prime Minister who bumbles from one shambles to another without the slightest sense of purpose'.
  3. Ed Llewellyn was 'a classic third-rate suck-up-kick-down sycophant presiding over a shambolic court'.
  4. Nick Clegg is 'a revolting character'.
  5. Jacob Rees-Mogg and Bill Cash are 'narcissist delusionals and useful idiots whose ongoing intransigence has helped only Remain'.
  6. Craig Oliver he described as 'just clueless' but David Cameron knighted him.

Cummings was the brain behind the Vote Leave organisation. He was portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch in Channel 4's Brexit: The Uncivil War, another completely unbiased broadcaster. He was credited as the man who thought up the 'take back control' catch phrase and the slogan on the side of the bus about giving 'the EU £340 million a week' which some remainers say was the lie which made 17.4 million of us vote to leave so we should have another vote.

Jo Swinson, the new Lib Dem leader, says we should have another vote but also says that even if we again voted to leave the EU she would never accept it. So why does she want us to vote again if she will not accept any result she disagrees with? It must be that she hopes we will vote to remain and if not we will presumably be subjected to neverendums until we vote correctly. Perhaps that is her definition of Liberal Democracy but if so it reminds me of George Orwell's novel 1984.

We were told in no uncertain terms that whatever the result of the 2016 referendum, even if the margin was only one vote, it would be honoured. We were not asked how we should leave the EU and it is the politicians who are unable to agree this. Perhaps the future of UK politics is to have a referendum each time the politicians are unable to agree? If it is then I am glad I live in New Zealand where I will excercise my UK vote for the next 15 years, as is my right, by which time I will be 93 which will certainly get the snowflakes upset!

A private members bill to extend voting rights for life for ex-pats supported by the government was defeated by Brexiteer filibustering in March this year. It was thought that the ex-pats living in the EU would vote yes to the UK remaining in the EU. That may well have been the case as just over a million live there but there are 1.6 million of us living in Australia and New Zealand, another 800,000 in the USA and 700,000 in Canada whose votes might well have cancelled the EU ones out as improved trading links with the UK would likely be in those other countries interests.

You could argue that filibustering is undemocratic but this method of defeating new legislation has been around since ancient Rome and it is always within a governments power to get laws through Parliament if they really want to providing they have a majority. Filibustering was devised to ensure a minority point of view can be heard of which Brexiteers in Parliament are one.

The Rugby Championship and Test Cricket

This weekend the All-Blacks meet the Springboks in Wellington. It was their B team that came close to losing against the Pumas last weekend and this time they are back to full strength against the Boks.
The Wobblies are hoping they will be less wobbly against the Pumas in Brisbane but I think they might be in for another beating. My comments on both games can be read here.....

Quotes 'wot I like:
I don't know lad. It's unplayable at my end, but they're bowling bloody rubbish to you.
Brian Close 1931 - 2015.

The England v Ireland test cricket match produced the shock of England being bowled out for 85 in their first innings and Ireland taking a first innings lead of 122 runs. Now Ireland are not the greatest cricketing nation and if our batting collapses like that then what chance do we have against Orstralia in the forthcoming Ashes series I hear you say?
England's batsmen did not play much better in their 2nd innings and collapsed to 77 for 7 but Somerset night watchman Jack Leach, who actually opened the batting the previous night, scored 92 before England were bowled out for 303 leaving Ireland to chase 182.

In only their 3rd test match Ireland were looking for an historic win but it was not to be as the England bowlers once again came to our rescue and bowled them out for 38 runs.
Not our batsmen's finest hour although Stokesie and Buttler were rested but they Ozzies will be sandpapering their balls like crazy!

Firefox bug

This is just for geeks like me who like to code their web sites from scratch. Firefox updated its browser from 67.0.4 to 68.0.1 and when loading from a local file my web site did not display correctly but when loading from the online server it did. It also displayed correctly from a local file in other browsers and on other machines with 67.0.4 so the problem was with the latest Firefox update.

For fellow webmasters who check the display of their sites in different browsers before uploading this is a pain. The solution is to change the Firefox config file. Load the browser and change the url to about:config. You are warned that "Here be Dragons!" (obviously a Somerset programmer). If you accept the risk you should search for privacy.file_unique_origin and change that value from true to false by double clicking. Problem solved and Firefox support have acknowledged it is a bug and will probably be fixed at the next update.

Sue's progress

Sue has now completed her second course of radiation treatment around her left hip and will have one more treatment on her right hip next week.
We have also had a two hour meeting with a Registrar and the head honcho Oncologist at Tauranga hospital who will be in charge of Sue's treatment. We were treated to a thorough explanation of all the different scans that have been taken and an update on the various tests to try and discover the primary source of the secondary bone cancer.

The source has been narrowed down to either the Breast or the Urethra. Further tests are planned in Sue's blood and urine to try and detect cancer cells and they may decide to look inside her waterworks. Us engineers call the device they use a boreascope which is an optic fibre cable to look inside the bore of an engine or turbine negating the need to disassemble it. I suppose the medical profession have a fancy medical term for whatever they use but I fancy it is less of a problem inserting it in a lady than a man!

Finally Sue will have a mammogram which is an X-ray of the breast. In the opinion of the oncologist the educated guess is that the primary source is the Urethra and if the additional tests are inconclusive they will treat Sue on that assumption. They will want to give her as much time as possible after her radiation treatment is complete so if chemotherapy is appropriate it should begin in about six weeks. They may even decide to delay chemo further if everything is under control but have no worries about giving Sue chemo as she is in such good health apart obviously from the cancer.

Patrick's Pies

One of the good things about New Zealand are its pies and here in Tauranga we have the seven times supreme champion of the country, Pat Lam.

'I knew Pat Lam was a first class pie eater' might be your reaction to this news but you would be confusing the Kiwi international rugby player and Brissle coach with his namesake who is the ex Cambodian refugee who has more awards for his pie making than anyone else in NZ.

Patrick Lams mince & cheese pie

Sue and I have been fans of his mince & cheese pies ever since we arrived here and his Bethlehem shop is always full of props and second row forwards at all times of day. He makes 500 pies every day and it was the mince & cheese which won him his 7th supreme championship in 2019. Pat makes 26 different flavours of pie but this is the 3rd time he has won with this one which is also the Kiwi favourite flavour.

The competition judges spent nine hours tasting 5326 pies entered by 553 bakers from across the country. Tauranga Baker Bob from Greerton won the silver which must make Tauranga the pie capital of NZ!

Sox the cat

I took Sox into the Vet to get them to read the chip and change the database ownership. They had to call the number of the registered owner first to get their permission and find the Vet who treated her. First surprise was Sox is a him not a her!! His teeth are not in good nick and will need attention which might be why he was dumped in the first place. He had a antibiotic injection as a precaution, had his nails clipped and a good comb to get all the loose fur off. That lot was $140 and he has a new appointment to get what innoculations he needs in 3 weeks. All part of the expensive joys of rescuing a cat.

The photo below clearly shows there is no doubt as to Sox's sex!

Sox at ease

The Ashes Test Cricket 2019

The first test was at Edgbaston which for the uneducated is a leafy superb of Birmingham. Lots of people who have never been there think Birnigum is an industrial dump and parts of it are but it has lots of lovely parks and upmarket suburbs like Bourneville where they make the chocolate and Edgbaston where the botanical gardens are and the home of Warwickshire cricket.
Engerland got off to a fine start after Ozzies won the toss and elected to bat. They had them 122 for 8 at one point but that ugly bastard and supreme batsman Sandy Smith with a little help from Peter Siddle took the score to 284 before they were bowled out on the first day. I comment below in detail as the series progresses but the fixtures are as follows:

  1. First Test - August 1-5 (Edgbaston).
  2. Second Test - August 14-18 (Lord's.
  3. Third Test - August 22-26 (Headlingley).
  4. Fourth Test - September 4-8 (Old Trafford).
  5. Fifth Test - September 12-16 (The Oval).

The two Ozzie openers Sandy Bancroft and Sandy Warner, received a chorus of boo's from the barmy army and you can read more here.....

2019 Rugby World Cup

In case you haven't noticed 2019 is a year the Rugby World cup is played and it is in Japan for the first time. Unfortunately for English supporters in NZ the broadcaster will be the NZ equivalent of BT Sport who is called Spark Sport as some bright spark in Sky failed to bid enough dollars to get the broadcasting rights. That is still OK for Kiwi supporters if they only want to watch the AB games as TVNZ, the free to air channel here, will be broadcasting all the games but none others apart from the finals. The pool group England are in (pool C) and the pool the AB's are in (pool B) will not meet in the quarter finals. That is good for both sides but means I will not be able to watch any England games until and if they make the semi finals unless I fork out $80 to Spark for a tournament pass.

If you are interested in learning how to resolve this issue plus the results of the Rugby Championship and the Home RWC Summer Warm-ups then please click here...

Mitre 10 Cup Rugby

They have a lot of different rugby competitions here in NZ and after Super Rugby finishes we have the Mitre 10 Cup which is a professional competition between all the rugby unions in NZ and is the second tier to Super Rugby. Each union has several clubs who provide players to the union sides who represent different regions of the country. There are 14 union sides who play in two divisions; the Premiership and the Championship which are effectively 1st and 2nd respectively. Each side plays all the others in their division plus four from the other, the idea being to try and keep traditional rivalries between certain regions. The bottom side in the premiership is relegated and the top side in the championship is promoted.

Sir Brian James Lochore, the ex-All Black captain and coach died on 3rd August after battling bowel cancer aged 78. He was well loved here in New Zealand and his funeral was attended by the who's who of NZ rugby. His son David spoke of his father's friendship with Sir Graham Henry, the previous All Black coach and a telephone call from his father prior to meeting Sir Graham.

"David, BJ here. I've had a ring from Graham Henry and he wants to come and see me. What do you think? He's a school teacher from Auckland. He'll be a wanker."

Our local team here are Bay of Plenty known as the Steamers who are currently at the top of the championship. I will be reporting on the fortunes of the Steamers as the season progresses to the finals where the four top teams in each division play semis and a final. For a list of all the clubs and their current standings click here....

Second Ashes Test

Lords is the venue of the 2nd Test with England one down in the series so this is an important one to win as two down with three to play would make life difficult to win the Ashes. To make it even more difficult rain prevented any play taking place on the first day. Now I am aware that Test Cricket is akin to watching paint dry to those of lesser intellect so if you have no interest then do not click here.....

The Rugby Summer Internationals

Wales beat England 13-6 at Cardiff so bragging rights were restored but no conclusions can be drawn from the result. The French ref came in for some stick after he had given a yellow card to Watson for a deliberate knock on and he was still on the field with England in a huddle deciding how to play with 14. Willi Heinz had gone off for an HIA and his replacement had not taken the field so England were down to 13 men. The ref then allowed Josh Adams to take a quick penalty kick, passed to Biggar while England were asleep who kicked over to George North who went over for the only try of the match otherwise it would have been a draw. The law will be changed as a result.

No excuses as Wales were the better side and should have been as it was arguably their 1st XV whereas it was still an experimental England line-up. The win means that Wales move to the number one position in the world rankings ahead of the All Blacks. Scotland were pretty dire down in Nice where France whupped 'em 32-3.

Here in NZ the Wobblies reverted to type after their untypical win in Perth and were thumped at Eden park by the Blacks 36-0. So the result of the two match series is a draw and the holders being New Zealand they retain the Bledisloe Cup. The latest Mitre 10 Cup Rugby results can be found here...

Third Ashes Test

There are three more matches in the series and England are one down. The Ozzies are the current holders and are one nil up in the series so England must win two of those three matches to regain the Ashes. Winning this third match is important to England as an Orstralian win would mean the best England could do would be to draw the series. This would mean that Oz would keep them for another 2 years and all our Oz friends would become insufferable! Our intellectual readers can follow progress here....

Sues Progress

Sue completed her radiation treatment two weeks ago. According to the doctors it was likely to be a few weeks before any improvements were likely and there was no guarantee of success. Sue had a meeting with the oncologist today who said they were very pleased that all the known tumours had now been successfully treated. The urine tests she undertook show no cancer cells in the urine. She will have a cystoscopy in a weeks time to see if there is anything that can be seen but if that is negative then it might not be cancer of the Urethra that is the primary cancer.

She has a lot of breast pain and had a mammogram today so breast cancer might be the primary if the Urethra is ruled our after the cystoscopy. She will have a CT scan the last week in September which will be six weeks after radiation finished. Apparently having one sooner is pointless as due to swelling of tissue close to the tumours due to radiation so the CT scan will be quickly followed by a further consultation with the oncologist to decide on further treatment once all the various evidence is in place.

The good news is that following today's meeting Sue decided to try walking again with the aid of her walker. She walked from the lounge to the bedroom and used the toilet unaided and is now confident she will be able to do some light housework to take the load of that overworked saint of a husband!!!

This is the best bit of news since the original bad news. It is also possible the radiation will reduce the pain although that is under control with the continual use of morphine. A side effect of the morphine is constipation and some anti nausea pills she was prescribed made it twice as bad but the doc today prescribed some alternative ones which he said would not cause constipation.

So we are both heartened by some real progress and are planning a trip down to Balmy Palmie to see Mum and all they yokels down there in the cold and windy south in Mid September. Spring officially begins on 1st September and we plan to take two days to travel each way.

Summer Rugby Internationals

England met Ireland at Twickers and Scotland met France again but at Murrayfield. The third round of 7 games of the NZ Mitre 10 games were just too much to watch what with the Ashes Cricket taking all day but the results are here...

Firefox Browser Bug

I have recently noticed that slideshows do not work properly in the Firefox browser on this website. When I test the site in different browsers the slideshow works perfectly in Chrome and Edge. It also all works perfectly locally on my computer but from a remote server using firefox all the slides stack up in one column.

Once again this is modern technology at its worst. The slideshow program on my website relies on another program on a remote server. This is an advantage in that very little code is required on my site as the bulk of the code to make it work is referenced from one URL. The disadvantage is that any bugs in either the remote program or the browser can not be fixed by me. In this case, as my little program works fine on two other browsers, it seems likely that the problem lies with the Firefox browser so if you want to see the slideshows working properly at the moment you should use Chrome or Edge.

Google Analytics tells me that over 40% of my visitors are using Chrome and 7% Firefox so most of you are not having problems. However 36% of you are using Safari so that probably means you are using an Apple machine as Safari for Windoze was discontinued some time ago. Unfortunately I can not test that as I do not own an Apple of any kind so if anyone out there who is an Apple user and the slide show does not work on your computer/laptop/tablet or phone then please send me a message here.

If the problem persists I will probably revert to the old fashioned but fixable on-site program.

As it is now officially Spring in NZ here is a new page.
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