Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca

Saturday 16 May 2020

New Zealand Revisited (8)

I've taken a break from NZ today, with only five days being 'processed'. I'll finish the job tomorrow.
From Rotorua we travelled to the Coromandel Peninsula on 3 March, stopping for a long break at Karangahake Gorge, where we explored paths and tunnels associated with gold mining between 1875 and 1920.
4 March was a wet day. We found some shelter in Cathedral Cove.
Blue skies greeted us on 5 March, when we headed to Black Jack Lodge near Knoatunu, which had been recommended by folk at Moana Lodge in Wellington. Here, Carl and Carol offer 'sit-on' kayaks on which you can paddle from their lawn up a river or into the sea. We did both; most enjoyable.
A 438 km drive on 6 March took us to the Bay of Islands. We stopped en route for a comfort break at some quirky toilets built by Frederick Hundertwasser.
We stayed at Mayfair Lodge in Paihia for three nights. On 7 March Sue went scuba diving and I enjoyed a bike ride that passed Haruru Falls.

Friday 15 May 2020

New Zealand Revisited (7)

The Waitomo Caves, visited on 25 February 2008, proved to be quite an adventure, with some flooded passages and some tight squeezes. The wetsuits proved invaluable.
On 26 February, we embarked on the Tongariro Northern Circuit, hiking in to the Mangatepopo Hut, from where we enjoyed a glorious sunset.
27 February - after an early start to climb Mount Ngauruhoe, we moved on to Mount Tongariro, from where this picture back to Mount Ngauruhoe (of Lord of the Rings fame) was taken.
Our third day on the circuit, 28 February, started from Waihohonu Hut.
Sky diving in Taupo gave Sue a thrill on 29 February.
A rainy day on 1 March saw us cheering on the participants of an Ironman Triathlon.
We moved on to Rotorua, where on 2 March we admired the Devil's Bath from a safe distance.

More progress across the North Island will be made tomorrow...

Thursday 14 May 2020

New Zealand Revisited (6)

It has been another productive day for photo processing, and I'm enjoying selecting one picture from each day for these rather rushed postings.
On 16 February 2008 we found ourselves in Renwick, wine producing country, so we lunched - with copious amounts of wine - at Framingham, a Marlborough winery (above).
By 17 February we were in Nelson, admiring the stained glass windows from within the rather odd looking cathedral.
Our next adventure, starting on 18 February, was a three day kayaking trip on the Abel Tasman coast.
It was an organised trip, with good guidance and good food. Here we are on 19 February, awaiting our evening meal.

The trip continued into 20 February, when we took a short break on the beach at Pitt Head.
Kayaking over, we moved on to Picton, from where on 21 February we walked a short but scenic section of the Queen Charlotte Track, which yielded some fine views.
22 February marked our crossing to the North Island, with this 'sun dog' impressing us at one point.
The botanic garden in Wellington kept us occupied for a few hours on 23 February - the flower below is an 'August Koch' water lily.
On 24 February we left our Wellington base - Plimmerton - pictured below at the start of a rainy day, and headed to Rap, Raft 'n' Rock bunkhouse, near Waitomo Caves

Wednesday 13 May 2020

New Zealand Revisited (5)

It has been another productive day of 'processing' images from New Zealand.
Starting above, on 7 February 2008 Sue and I enjoyed a kayaking trip in Doubtful Sound, curtailed by poor weather, but I'm not sure how well we'd have fared with the sandflies had we gone ahead with the planned camp!
On 8 February we moved on from Te Anau to Wanaka, via Kingston, where this picture of the Silver Bullet Grey Slug, our hire car with 134,000 km on the clock, was taken.
On 9 February we were to be found in the Matukitubi Valley, where we were befriended by this Kea bird.
The next day, 10 February, was spent on several excursions from Wanaka, including one to a toy and motor museum. The toys included a Lego village from the 1980s identical to one that resides in our loft, and the cars included what I think is an Austin A40 Devon Estate car.
My first trip to Scotland, in September 1968, was in one of these. We managed about 40 miles a day, picking up spares and carrying out repairs from time to time. NAM 648 is pictured below outside our rented two-up/two-down house in Levenshulme (where the only taps were in the kitchen sink and the lavatory was at the end of the back yard) on the day that Howard (RIP) decided he could no longer afford to keep it and so - minutes after this photo was taken - took it to our local scrapyard.
On 11 February we moved from Wanaka to Franz Joseph, going via a walk to Monro Beach on an over-sanitised path through rain forest.
Franz Joseph Glacier, which since 1970 had been advancing, proved elusive, but the mist on 12 February did clear briefly, late in the day.
The road from Franz Joseph to St Arnaud, a 500 km journey in the Silver Bullet (now with a chipped windscreen) took us past the Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki on 13 February.
The next two days were taken up with the Angelus Hut Loop, where we saw some interesting flowers, this one on 14 February.
It rained, and on 15 February we had a few torrents to cross before making our way slowly back to the Travers-Sabine Lodge in St Arnaud.
That's it for today, when in other news, and thanks to a slight relaxing of lockdown rules, we enjoyed an unexpected encounter with JJ, who kindly donated two boxes of tomato plants in return for some tea and cake. Thanks JJ.

Just in case you were thinking of going somewhere interesting...

I very much doubt that any readers of this blog would contemplate going anywhere 'interesting' at this time, but you never know. The text below has certainly killed off any thoughts I might have had about going for a walk or ride in the Peak District. Thanks to Conrad, who lives a bit nearer to the Lakes, for publicising this:
This is a copy of a Facebook page for Coniston Mountain Rescue.
It is worth reading in full and disseminating widely in the outdoor community.  
Hello All,
Hopefully, you’re all managing to stay safe and healthy through the Covid-19 pandemic.
We know that many of you will be desperate to get back on the fells and trails, and to get your Lake District “fix”. The relaxation of the Coronavirus lockdown may have been music to your ears when the Prime Minister stated that it is now Ok to drive any distance to take your exercise. This came as a total surprise to us as a Mountain Rescue Team (MRT), Cumbria Police, Cumbria Tourist Board, The Lake District National Park and also The National Trust. Simply, the Lake District is NOT ready for a large influx of visitors. The hospitality sector remains closed, some car parks may be re-opening, along with some toilet facilities, but this is an enforced opening due to this announcement to cater for those that do decide to come, rather than an invitation.
Why are we, Coniston Mountain Rescue Team, so concerned about the relaxation of the travel to exercise rules? Maybe if we talk you through what happens it may explain why we’re worried.
Firstly, we are all volunteers – most of us have day jobs from which we take time off to deal with incidents during work hours, or time out of the rest of our lives “out of hours”, and secondly most of us have families who we need to protect.
How a rescue might play out during the Covid-19 pandemic:-
1. Paul and Sarah came up from Preston, and have summited the Old Man of Coniston, had their lunch and set off down towards Goats Water.
2. Paul slips and hears a crack from his left ankle, Sarah tries to help, but Paul can’t put weight on his ankle which is at a funny angle anyway. Paul is 15 stone and 6ft 2 tall. Sarah is fit but no way could she help Paul back down.
3. Sarah dials 999, remembers to ask for Police and then Mountain Rescue, the operator takes the details and asks a lot of questions to assess the Covid-19 risk posed by both Paul & Sarah to the MRT, and subsequently to Ambulance and medical staff that will need to treat Paul.
4. In the meantime, four groups of people come by, they all say they’d love to help but haven’t got any Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and must socially distance themselves by at least 2 metres.
5. The Police alert Coniston MRT to the incident via SARCALL, and the Duty Team Leader (TL) calls Sarah, having sent her a link by text for her to click on to confirm their exact position, and asks more questions, to work out the resources needed.
6. The TL then calls other members of the Leader Group to discuss the requirements and decides a 10 member group is required on the hill and alerts the Team to that requirement.
7. The Team numbers are depleted anyway, we have a number of people who contribute massively to the Team generally but are over 70 years old, i.e. higher risk group, we have people who may be shielding a family member, or at risk themselves due to underlying medical conditions that normally wouldn’t be an issue. So a team of 10 assemble at the MRT base, plus someone to run the base – this person is important as it helps with coordination of other services letting the hill party get on with the job.
8. All members are briefed regarding the incident, and check all are happy with the unknown invisible risk posed by the incident; the risk of walking up the fell is taken as read and a baseline anyway. All PPE is checked.
9. Team members climb aboard two of the Team’s three vehicles. Why only two when social distancing could be better in 3 vehicles? The need to decontaminate the vehicles on return probably outweighs the advantage of social distancing, and it leaves another vehicle able to respond to any other incidents.
10. Normally the Team would mobilise within 10-15 minutes of this type of call, due to all the pre-checks, personnel checks etc., the time elapsed thus far is 45 minutes.
11. The vehicles arrive at the road head, one last check on PPE and kit for the incident, including radios, and the Team sets off for the casualty site. Walking time to site is around 45-60 minutes.
12. The Team can’t call on the Air Ambulance for support as they’re off-line for this type of incident due to staff being redeployed elsewhere in the NHS or due to other priorities and risk factors so cannot support. Similar with Coastguard Helicopters…
13. On site, one casualty carer and one assistant will approach the casualty with as much PPE on as possible, and may well apply PPE to the patient before carrying out a full primary survey, in this case that’s simple, Paul’s ankle is (probably) broken, and there are no other underlying medical factors like a head injury, multiple other injuries or catastrophic bleeding.
14. The casualty carer and helper would normally give Paul some Entonox (pain killing gas) while they straighten his ankle to ensure a pulse at the foot and also maybe a pain killing injection. The injection takes 15 mins or so to work, but Entonox is not given because of the potential risk of contamination. However, the foot needs straightening ASAP to restore the pulse in Paul’s foot. Paul screams as the casualty carer re-aligns the foot (it’s called reducing the injury) to restore circulation and allow for splinting.
15. Paul’s ankle is splinted and although he’s still in pain, it’s less than it was and the painkilling injection is starting to take effect. Time elapsed since Paul fell is now 2 hours 15 mins.
16. The Team moves in and helps Paul on to the stretcher, the stretcher is made of stainless steel and heavy, it is about 2.5 metres long and maybe 0.6 metres wide, usually it takes 8 people to carry a loaded stretcher, they cannot socially distance.
17. The Team carries Paul down to the Walna Scar road, where they’ve asked a North West Ambulance Service land ambulance to meet them to reduce potential contamination at base. The carry down has taken 2 hours, so now it’s 4 hrs 15 since Paul fell. Paul is transferred to the Ambulance and taken to Furness General Hospital. Sarah can’t drive, but can’t go in the Ambulance either. How can the Team get Sarah re-united with Paul and then how do they both get home to Preston when Paul is fixed? What happens to their car? In normal circumstances we can fix these issues, not so easy in the Covid-19 pandemic.
18. The Team returns to base and starts to decontaminate the stretcher, the vehicles, the non-disposable medical equipment, the splint and themselves. Jackets and other clothing are all bagged ready to go in their washing machines when they get home, which takes a further 1 hour 15 minutes. Total time elapsed 5hrs 30 minutes. Total man-hours 10 folk on the hill plus 1 running base = 60.5 man-hours.
19. Paul is admitted to Furness General Hospital after a wait of 1 hour at A&E. He is taken to cubicles and X Rayed to understand his ankle injury better. He is also routinely tested for Covid-19. Paul’s ankle needs an operation to pin it as the break is a bad one.
20. Paul’s Covid-19 test comes back positive. Oh dear! Paul is asymptomatic, he has the virus but is either naturally immune or has not yet developed symptoms. The message is passed back to Coniston MRT, who then have to check the records of those on the incident. Every one of them, the ten people on the incident and the base controller, must now self isolate and so must their families, so now we have maybe 35 people all having to self-isolate. Plus possibly the Ambulance crew and their families.
21. Three days later Eric from Essex decides he wants to come to Coniston to do the 7 Wainwrights in the Coniston Fells. He sets off, and completes Dow Crag, the Old Man, Brim Fell along to Swirl How and Great Carrs and across to Grey Friar, then on up to Wetherlam. Eric puts his foot down on a rock, the rock moves and Eric is in a heap on the floor, his foot is at a funny angle…he gets his phone out and dials for Mountain Rescue… but there are only three people available from the Coniston Team now, so the decision needs to be taken by the Coniston MRT duty leader which Team to call to support, Neighbouring Teams are Langdale-Ambleside and Duddon & Furness MRT’s. The issue is, they’re in the same situation as Coniston with people self-isolating due to potential contamination, or their members are keyworkers in the NHS and can’t deploy on MRT incidents.
So – we’re asking you to think twice, even three times before you embark upon travelling to the Lake District for your exercise. The risk, however small, is real, and I write this as an MRT member for over 30 years with probably around 1000 incidents under my belt, I know, accidents happen.

Tuesday 12 May 2020

New Zealand Revisited (4)

New Zealand photo 'processing' is proceeding apace.
On 29 January 2008 we took several outings from Whitehorse Campground, including one up to Tasman Glacier View - above.
30 January saw us heading off to Queenstown, where we enjoyed this evening view across the lake.
31 January was spent in Queenstown, with a walk up Queenstown Hill, past this 'Basket of Dreams' sculpture.
After a night at Kinloch Lodge, we set off on 1 February along the Routeburn Track hiking route, stopping for the night at the Routeburn Flats Hut, where this Bush Robin was in residence.
On 2 February we continued to Lake Mackenzie Hut, via a cloud inversion on Conical Hill (1515 metres).
3 February saw us continuing along the Routeburn Track to join the Caples Track and finish up at the Upper Caples Hut. En route, there were some rather narrow sections of 'path'.
On 4 February we left the Upper Caples Hut (below) and got a lift from the road head back to the luxury of Kinloch Lodge.
5 February found us kayaking on Milford Sound.
An overnight cruise saw us at anchor in Harrison Cove, with the early morning view on 6 February shown below.
Meanwhile, I'm missing the TGO Challenge backpack across Scotland - I should have been in the Loch Ness area by now, bathing in an Arctic breeze, if it hadn't been cancelled. But my booking for next year in Torridon Youth Hostel was confirmed today...
And in Timperley the swifts arrived on time on 7 May, but sadly without the contingent that up to 2018 nested in our house. We miss them.

Monday 11 May 2020

New Zealand Revisited (3)

Today has been spent proof reading Volume 2 of my Pyrenees HRP book, so there has been very little time for 'processing' the New Zealand pictures. Just a couple of days done.
After arriving in Christchurch, we spent a couple of days with a former work colleague of Sue's, Pam, and her partner Rob. Rob is a keen surfer, and not far from their home in Sumner is a fine surfing beach called Taylor's Mistake, pictured above on 27 January. According to local folklore, it's named after a captain who ran aground here after mistaking the bay for the entrance to nearby Lyttelton Harbour.
On 28 January we said goodbye to Pam and Rob and headed off to the Mount Cook area, stopping en route at the Church of the Good Shepherd, where there's a stunning view of Lake Tekapo from its window above the altar. The church also provided a tranquil place to shelter from the strong wind.

Sunday 10 May 2020

New Zealand Revisited (2)

I've spent a bit of time on our New Zealand pictures today, and have sorted and re-named the first four days' images. Here are one from each day.
Above - on 23 January 2008, an orchid in the wonderful botanic gardens in Singapore.
Next, on 24 January, a picture of the impressive Sri Mariamman Temple - a Hindu temple in the heart of the Chinese quarter in Singapore.
On 25 January, we flew to Christchurch, where our first port of call was some more botanic gardens!
The next day, 26 January, we visited Akaroa and the Banks Peninsula, where we found lots of sea shells.
That's it for now - there are links, where I give the date in bold text, to our contemporaneous blog postings, should anyone be interested. Note the second link (posting) covers several days.
Meanwhile, here in Timperley there have been VE Day celebrations - rather 'socially distanced' for want of a better description. A 'phone call with one of this blog's most avid readers revealed, in answer to the question - "What did you do on VE Day in 1945?" the following: "I was aged 20 then, and cycled from Rugeley to Milford Common with Margaret (younger sister), where there was a big party and we danced with the soldiers. I remember it vividly."
Well remembered, Dot.