June 27, 2009

Mount Erebus meets Air New Zealand

This year is the thirty year anniversary of Air New Zealand 1979 Mount Erebus tragedy that took the lives of all 257 passengers and crew.

We had friends, a married couple, celebrating his birthday on board it... as did many, many people in New Zealand. We waited through the night for news, fearing them lying in the ice, freezing and injured. My father picked up their car from the airport...

The Search for TE901

A US Helicopter at the crash site in 1979.
Many people will remember waiting for news on the night of 28 November 1979. Several hours had passed since the last radio communication with Air New Zealand Antarctic sightseeing flight TE901. From the final communication with the aircraft , at approximately 12.30pm NZDT, the last known position of the missing aircraft was established as 38 nautical miles north of McMurdo Station.

We read the book; we followed the commission of inquiry and the famous saying of the late Justice Mahon, of "the orchestrated litany of lies" that tried to cover the events that led to this black day day.

Now they have launched a comprehensive web site about it. They interviewed the wives of the pilots on television tonight. They said that finally everything known was together in one site. They hoped that schools would use it to teach the children of the truth, the issues and to remember and honour those who died.

I do too.

In memory of Robbie and Marilyn Bond.

The Erebus Story The loss of TE901 www.erebus.co.nz

Memories from Rotorua.....

It was a good trip - short and sweet. I hear the people leaving today were trapped by fog this morning, so hope it has cleared for them!

We had lovely sunny days and cold hard frosts and those of us from "the south" all said how cold it was, colder than Christchurch, but as I am sitting writing this in front of a fire, in jacket, scarf and a hat with a rug, I am not sure that is true! Still, it is wet up north - and I hate rain.... so I am not complaining.

Anyway - just a few quick pix - have already written about the deaths of Farrah and Micheal tonight - so yes, there are two blogs to read...

Rotorua was lovely - we smelt the delicate rotten egg smell as we arrived, the city bathed in evening sun, the land gently steaming beneath the plane...

We had a nice hotel... primitive heating, but comfortable. It is on the shores of Lake Rotorua, actually in Sulphur Bay!

Interesting geyser outside the hotel entrance.....

The meeting for the day was help upstairs in the lovely historic, Spanish themed "Blue Rooms"... it is the first time I have chaired this annual meeting at a thermal pool!

The Rotorua Museum is beautiful!

I remember these!

The Vet conference was held in the Rotorua Events Centre, and overseen by the inimitable Gunther, attached to his Segway. He was very funny - clearing the halls between meals to ensure lagging lolly grabbers were removed!

Thanks Rotovegas :)

Too many deaths

It has been quite a week.... topped off with the deaths of Michael Jackson... and Farrah Fawcett. In their different ways, they have both been present during a large chunk of my own life; Farrah as an "Angel" who landed up with the beautiful ( once anyway) Ryan O'Neal...and I well remember seeing him in "Love Story" when I was at high school. My rather bored friend leaned over at the end, before Ali died, and asked "Has she kicked the bucket yet?"... My stifled sobs gave way to a release of laughter and I landed up on the floor in hysterics... while those around me commented on how the poor girl was so overcome with tears...yeah right. I never forgave Farrah... and she went off with the Six Million Dollar Man too!

Anyway - I digress... I grew up with MJ - as many of us have. He was a kid, of my own age, then a boy... and technically a man... but we all knew the fame and idolatory ruined him for ever. When the court cases began, my own children could not really believe I was his age! He still appeared to be such a young man after all the surgical help. His behaviour lost him many fans, but we know his music will live on. I heard it put in perspective last night - there are probably 30 people/bands in the world that have sold over 100 million records. Michael sold 750 million.

To be honest, I think it is good that they are both at peace now as their recent lives have not been easy.
RIP both of them.

How I remember growing up with MJ - at age 13

June 25, 2009

Orangutans... facing extinction

I like Orangutans. One of my most moving moments was when I was taken behind the scenes by a colleague at Auckland Zoo and saw the enrichment programmes they were doing with them. One of my past students was also there as a keeper, and a number of the other keepers appeared from different departments all over the zoo to help, twice a day. As I watched them working with these wonderful animals I had been cautioned to stay silent ... but emotions just spill over and when you can't make pleasurable noises, what else can you do? I cried quietly.

At one point, my friend hung from his arms, pressed against the glass, mirroring the Orang Utan female who then stared deeply into his eyes, for a long time. He finally moved away, his own eyes wet and admitted that he found it very hard to not be moved when working with these animals, because of the intelligence in their eyes.

I had heard that Orangutans, traditionally used to swinging across water in the trees to avoid the risk of crocodiles, had learned to swim. There are no forests to swing over anymore!  This morning, I read The Pet Blog who has posted some superb pictures of them and they even appear to be enjoying the water.... and for a great article with some excellent pictures that can be enlarged for desktop use, go to The-orangutans-overcame-fear-water-crocodiles-swim-search-food.html

But lets be honest. They are adapting to the destruction of their environment and if you search further, the situation is worsening due to the need for palm oil!!! Artery clogging oil at that!

So today I was sad to hear that a British company is adding to their problems!
Oil boom threatens the last orangutans

The Independent: Kathy Marks: 23 June 2009
A famous British company, Jardines, is profiting as the lowland forest – which shelters the few remaining orang-utans – is razed to make way for massive palm oil plantations, reports Kathy Marks in Tripa, Indonesia
Perched halfway up a tree near a bend in the Seumayan River, a young orang-utan lounges on a branch, eating fruit. In the distance, smoke rises from an illegal fire, one of dozens lit to wipe out the virgin rainforest and replace it with oil palm plantations.
It's burning season on Indonesia's Sumatra island, where vast tracts of vegetation are being torched and clear-felled to meet the soaring global demand for palm oil. The pace is especially frenzied in the peat swamp forests of the Tripa region, one of the final refuges of the critically endangered orang-utan – and a company owned by one of Britain's most venerable trading groups is among those leading the destructive charge.
Do read more at Borneo Orangutan Survival

My brother has also been involved with them because he is a mining engineer and has spent a lot of time in Indonesia over the past 20 years. He often talked about the impact the destruction of the rain forests, the burning of the trees, was having on them, and the amazing job the rescue team was doing. Now, the Rescue Sanctuary is also facing a crisis - please read this site and you can also make donations on it.
Orangutan rescue sanctuary in need of saving


June 22, 2009

Rotorua... Sulphur City, Here I Come....

I wrote recently about The Secret South of New Zealand. Well tomorrow I am off to the mystical "Sulphur City" of Rotorua in the North Island .... for two nights and three days ... home of geysers, scenic mud pools, exotic thermal areas...and the delicate aroma of sulphur everywhere. I know I will get used to it quickly - it just always amuses me to smell it on arrival.

I am booked to stay on the shores of Lake Rotorua - in a nice  hotel, handy to the convention centre where the annual Vet and Vet Nursing Conferences are being held...Not sure I will get time this visit to appreciate the sights, but I have been there 3-4 times before. If you are visiting, then try to go here... it is very different.

Extract from New Zealands Online Magazine
Distinctive features of Rotorua noticed immediately by the visitor are the smell of sulphur and the steam rising from the ground from many bores around the city.

Rotorua District has four major thermal areas - Whakarewarewa, Waimangu, Waiotapu and Hell's Gate. The village of Whakarewarewa is one of Rotorua's best known and most active thermal areas and can be reached on foot from the city centre. Pohutu geyser, which erupts about twenty times a day and can spout up to 100 feet, is a popular attraction at Whakarewarewa. There you can also see hot bubbling mud pools, hot springs, and a Maori pa

It doesn't pay to stray too far off the tracks round these parts - that water is boiling...


.One of my favourite places we visited was the hidden valley of "Orakei Korako", between Rotorua and Taupo... (little known fact - Lake Taupo is officially a volcanic crater lake and is visible from the moon...)
 Their official site is here- with wonderful photos...perhaps the best part is that you can only get there by boat :)

or check out Wikipaedia on Orakei Korako or if you are planning to visit New Zealand - check out these photos from the North Island.... which also has Rotorua in them ... or go here ...

Quite like this montage from Trek Nature too

See you soon

June 21, 2009

10 Questions

If you could have dinner with any three people, whom would you choose?

Alan Rickman

.. because I think he is a wonderful actor as well as nice looking... even if he does play Severus so convincingly... and Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders... ( and they can throw in Joanna Lumley if they want to). Be hard to beat meeting such wonderful comedians...

What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?
Curl up with a fire and a dvd or a book.

If you could hire any actor to portray you in a movie, who would you choose?
Emma Thompson.... great talent and of course we are doubles... sorry Emma... but a nice dream for me :)

What’s your favorite cereal?
The one I deny myself every day is Crunchy Nut Flakes.......

What’s your favorite part of the day?
After dinner when I can stop
for a while...and not feel guilty that there are things to do

If you could play any instrument, which would you pick?
The guitar - nice fantasies of sing- a- longs.

If you could take a one month trip anywhere and money was not a consideration, where would you go?
Europe - Switzerland, Austria, Italy and Greece...

If you had one day in your life to live over, which would you choose and why?
The first time we took the children to the Gold Coast, travelling with another family... was magical.

If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
That's a big "what if"!  I guess staying on at boarding school might have been one thing I would have changed - but not sure if it would have been an advantage! Quite happy how things turned out as they are.

What is your most treasured memory?
Just one!!!! not fair... too many - first loves, having the children, first dog, getting into vet school...

Now, everyone of you who reads this, copy the questions to your blog and post your answers :)

June 18, 2009

Lost Dogs

After writing so fondly about the dogs in my last post,  I should have know I was tempting fate....
I was still ill this morning, so my daughter kindly took the dogs off to the beach for a run with her.... after a 15 minute run up the beach, and halfway back to the car, they vanished together into the sand dunes....


Many frantic texts and three hours later, with no sign of them, she was forced to return home to get to work.... Luckily, my partner has a day off today, so he took me out to the beach... and while I sat shivering in the car, sneezing and coughing and huddling under a warm coat, he (what a hero) ran up the beach.... eventually sighting the dogs running about in the wetlands and waterways behind the beach front.  Jess soon clicked that his being there meant the car was back in the car park and raced her way back to the car area... where she appeared for me. Saff took a little more persuading but trotted back slowly... they both had trouble getting into the car and as we drove home, were flat out in the hatchback, vanished completely from sight.

We managed to clean them up, give them their breakfast ( at 4pm) and settle them in front of the fire. There they have stayed apart from little totters around, stiff and sore and looking very sorry for themselves.

I think they will need some pain relief to get up tomorrow morning after five hours plus of running around on sand....I don't suppose it will teach them anything at all.... but they might not get much beach action for a while!!!

Still glad they are home safely. Here is the area they were lost in!!!

Fantastic Blog Award

Thank you so much:)
I have a wonderful award from Joey, who has Brittle Asthma and other things, and reminds me not to take life for granted....

Please see her here - and if you want to try to imagine what life with a chronic disability is like - I suggest you also read this post as it is amazing.

I am not sure If I have to pass this on to anyone immediately - there are no rules...
but I know that Amy, Kirst, Tracey and Odette already have it. If you don't already know them - do click on their blogs...

If Moannie, Saz and Carolina are passing here and would like to display this on their pages, then please do as you all deserve this award.

Add - most importantly - it has not been passed back to Joey who started it as I thought she had it!!!! So please - take it back Joey - Life with Brittle Asthma - and have it on your blog too - :)
I will visit you to tell you to immediately!

Have a lovely day

June 17, 2009

Tagged..... what little things make you happy?

I have to write the six unimportant things that make me happy!!! Then figure out six other people to do the same thing. Somewhere in their, I also have to lovingly mention the person who tagged me - so thanks Kirst.....

I have a rotten cold and am curled up with an electric blanket, nurofen, sudafed, faux fur, dim lights and a dressing gown.... is that six things??? Are they unimportant???? Right now they are making me feel better and I would survive without them, but they are a bit boring! And they aren't really things that make me happy :)

But there are a few things that I could mention...

Getting into fresh sheets with a fluffed up goose down duvet.....
Watching the flames flicker as I bask in the warmth of a real log fire,

Clean washing all folded and ready to use,



 Thanks to http://jannye.blogspot.com/2007/05/lazy-monday.html for that last picture...

Snuggling with my partner, - will spare you pictures of that....

A perfect coffee.....

Seeing my dogs asleep at the foot of the bed...


I am losing track of who has had this, or done this already.... but lets see....

I will be brave -Suldog, (be gentle with me)

and darling Moannie (The View from Above) and Saz (Fat, Frumpy and Fifty)

and Erin from Woman in a Window

and Carolina from Brinkbeest in English

and Kathryn from  Crystal Jigsaw :)

May we always appreciate the little things in life....

I feel better already
Night :)

June 14, 2009

Acting and singing.... veterinary style

The week improved dramatically after last week... sometimes you need a great week to compensate and remind you of the high points of your life...

On Friday night, it was my son's actual 18th birthday, so we had a family dinner with my parents....... was great. He now has his own camera... mine is safe for a little while :). 18 candles made a lovely glow.

My students coped well with being assessed to the nth degree on their knowledge... the process will be all finished for mid semester break by the end of this week, but they have faced a lot of hard work and sweat.. well most of them have; some of them need to sweat a little harder yet. For some light relief, on Friday, we had a fun expo for the class. Teaching  and learning does not have to be dry and boring! So during the year, all the classes get to have "sessions" where the learning incorporates tapping into their creativity.. what better way to teach selling skills, ethics, and professional behaviour? I am sure they never forget these days, and it certainly gives some of them a chance to reveal unknown aspects of their personalities...

Good nurse vs bad nurse....
How not to run a vet clinic!!!

Meat is murder; Milk is Slavery
 And then we have revision sessions ...

Saturday, I went to the annual mid winter Xmas party for our main teaching clinic... remember, this is New Zealand and it is too hot at Xmas to indulge in the normal festive Xmas foods... so in mid winter we get to eat turkey and ham and, as usual, it was a fun filled night at the beautiful and historic "Sign of the Kiwi", perched at the summit of the Cashmere Hills above the city. Sadly, it might not be a restaurarant for much longer... a great loss to the city.

I cannot in all consciousness post more pictures of it on here... they will disown me for ever! But to give you some idea of what we did after dinner... Singstar Karaoke - try to imagine two blokes singing Aretha Frankilin's "Respect" in falsetto... and another couple doing a great rendition of Queen's "I Want to Ride My Bicycle". ... it was obvious to all they sing it together at home...
The highlight had to be Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" - no idea who had the microphone at the time - we drowned them out with a massed chorus of pleasure. The rendition of "Mamma Mia" I did with another vet was tame in comparison... athough quite sure that our voices were lacking something after all the vocal support we had provided earlier...strangely not reflected in the scores so we must have been in tune!

It is a huge week for birthdays. As well as my son's,  I have dinner with a friend tonight to celebrate hers, then Jess is 22 on Thursday, and my daughter is 24 on Friday... off to the mall for another think about what to get them all. Can't give Jess anything -the postal service in Bangladesh is not worth risking :( But we will be thinking of her. They have left to live in the village of Joypara this weekend - will be interesting to see how they find it.

Do check out the family sites this week... Check out the Bangladesh Map for James and Jess

Phoebe's family - post and photos this week is at Treacy Travels

Off to the supermarket... decided perhaps I should get some food and medical supplies for when we are all stuck home with Swine Flu.. or just so we don't starve this week!


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