Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy New Year

May your year be filled with excitement and adventure, joy and wonderment, peace and contentment.

I think we might have a bit of a headstart on the first two of those, as our flight to INDIA where we will be for THREE WEEKS leaves in less than an hour.

Given it's the start of a brand new year, and a time for resolving to improve oneself, I have boldly recorded my New Year Resolutions. If you choose to continue reading, I challenge you to add your own in the comments!

Out, damn'd Thane! Out I say!

Cyclone Thane has killed 33 people in Tamil Nadu, having made landfall yesterday just south of Pondicherry. It was downgraded to a low-pressure system soon after landfall. Flooding and storm damage is affecting low-lying areas of Chennai, among others.

We are scheduled to land in Chennai in less than 24 hours. And then travel to Pondicherry by car.

The adventure may start a little earlier than expected. Hmmmm.

Ok, so I tried, but failed to find an original quote using "Thane". Macbeth, Thane of Glamis, and later of Cawdor didn't really help - there weren't any suitable quotes using the word "Thane". (Wikipedia indicates that it's a Shakespearean spelling of "thegn", so I won't find much else.)

Friday, 30 December 2011

India - time to pack!

Mum and Dad have already determined that they will be stowing a bag (Mum can't quite get under 5kg). Therefore, we will probably do the same, which relieves a lot of pressure to pare back everything.  Nevertheless we will be packing fairly minimally.

The trick to packing light is to wear your heaviest clothes on the plane, without sacrificing comfort. It is possible to change out of heavier, less comfortable clothes once on the plane if absolutely critical. Your PITA factor may vary.

On the plane To pack
1 pr long pants (heaviest, eg jeans?)2 pr long pants
1 pr shorts
1 long sleeve shirt 1-2 long sleeve shirt
1-2 short sleeve shirt (total 3)
Shoes Sandals
Socks 3 pr socks, incl one pr Heater 
Undies/jocks; (bra) 3 pr undies/jocks; (1 bra)
Soft shell jacket or
Microfleece jumper
Thermal underwear (optional)


Swimwear, possibly goggles

Sun hat

Electronica and Entertainment
Because it's a damn long flight, and because you want to document it.
  • Aus/India adaptor, Aus double adaptor (decided we won't need a powerboard)
  • DSLR camera, standard lens, charger, spare memory card(s)
  • Compact digital camera, spare memory cards, spare batteries, case
  • Video camera, charger, case
  • Netbook, charger, ethernet cable, mouse
  • iPad, iPhone, iPod, charger, earbuds for same (& double adaptor jack)
  • Kindle & connector cord (Jos), novel/crossword book (the rest)
  • Notebook, couple pens/pencils
  • Normally, I'd consider taking a travel guide, but (a) my parents are taking one, and (b) we might put one on Jos's kindle.
These will be packed into a selection of handbag equivalents - the camera bag, a new messenger-style laptop bag (pictured), and a backpack or similar for each of the boys.

Toiletries, medicines and miscellanea
Those in the first section should come into the cabin with you, not least to cope with the possibility of the airline, ah, delaying the arrival of your luggage. The latter are more easily replaced, or coped without for a period, if necessary.
  • Passports (with visas), eTickets, boarding passes
  • Currency, in the form of a travel card, plus some cash (all in USD - widely convertible in India)
  • Sunglasses, mints, lip balm
  • Daily medicines (Singulair, BCP, A/D, and anti-malaria pills)
  • Toothbrushes & toothpaste, floss
  • Emergency medicines (Ventolin, Symbicort, analgesics, Imodium, antihistamines, bandaids, tweezers)
  • Essential toiletries not provided by hotels (cleanser, face moisturiser, soap-free soap, anti-dandruff shampoo)
  • Spectacles, spare pair of contacts, single use solution 5mlx5, lens case

  • Hand moisturiser, emery board, nail clippers, 
  • Travel washing lines, pack towel (for squeezing out moisture from sink-washed clothes)
  • Cream-based insect repellant, sunscreens
  • Additional capacity - light fold-up bag to accommodate purchases (optional)
I'm sure there are a few other things that will occur to me tomorrow when we actually pack, and I may get around to updating this list.

In the meantime, I need to make sure all electronic items are fully charged and loaded (eg movies on iPad, podcasts on iPhone, books onto kindle)

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

What to wear in India

We've been visiting my parents over the past few days, and are starting to get a sense of what kind of clothing we need to take with us to India. Of course, there is a serious potential downside of taking fashion advice from one's parents, but better to be dressed too old than too immodest.

Firstly, only the pre-pubescent get to wear shorts (oblivious Westerners excepted) - everyone else wears at least mid-calf or longer. For women, this is generally either a sari (especially in the south), or salwar kameez (loose pants and a long loose tunic top), or increasingly for the younger set, jeans. Men generally wear trousers, or occasionally dhotis.

Secondly, while long skirts and long pants are both acceptable wear for women, pants are better, as they stop one's thighs chafing (the oh-so-delightful 'chub rub'). And long pants, like long sleeved shirts are also better at keeping out the mozzies.

Thirdly, laundry facilities are extremely limited, which means everything must be quick-drying. Clothes will be washed in hotel sinks and bathtubs, dried by hand-wringing then rolling up in a microfibre pack towel, and then hung up on elastic travel washing line.

Finally, while us womenfolk will probably be able to find and buy clothes over there, big burly blokes like Dad and JD will really struggle to find anything to fit. Therefore, they really need to take appropriate clothing with them.

Completely lacking in suitable clothing, JD and I left the boys with their cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents and drove down to Melbourne. There's a section of Little Bourke St, between Elizabeth St and Hardware Lane with a fair range of specialist adventure wear shops - Paddy Pallin, Snowgum, Bogong, Columbia, Mountain Designs and others, and there's a Kathmandu store around the corner.

The much-advertised 'Boxing Day Sales' actually means 'very limited sizes, styles and colours available'. Nevertheless, we managed to spend a largish amount of money on clothes that actually fit, are comfortable, and which meet the requirements stated above. I got a pair of grey 'hiking' pants (Mountain HardWear, v comfortable), a lovely fitted fuscia long-sleeve shirt (Columbia, with pockets!), and later, in Woodend, a pair of loose cotton elastic-waisted pants. JD got two pair of hiking pants and a pair of below-knee shorts, and two short-sleeved and one long-sleeved quick-dry shirts. And we also each picked up a couple of pairs of quick-dry undies each.

We'll get the kids kitted out on Friday when we get home - thankfully, they can both wear shorts. Finally, the upshot of taking a small number of very lightweight garments means we might yet meet the 5kg Malaysia Airlines cabin baggage weight restriction.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Can't do carry on only?

As you may know by now, I strongly prefer carry-on luggage only. Seven kg (including bag weight) plus a handbag is usually plenty, even for three weeks in a variety of climates. However, we're flying Malaysia Airlines on the way over, and their cabin baggage limit is five (5!) kg. Given most bags weigh nearly 2kg, that doesn't leave much for clothes, toiletries, cameras, essential electronica and other stuff.

We'll do an experimental pack, but we might have to have a stowed bag going over. (I always expected to stow luggage on the way back, even if my purchases are fairly modest.) My parents, who are flying with us, will have stowed luggage, partly due to the Malaysia Airlines unreasonable weight limits, but also because they'll be going onto much colder altitudes (7000ft, in winter, in the Himalayas). So they need tropical south, desert northwest and mountainous northeast. And if they have stowed luggage, there's less disadvantage if we do too (lost luggage notwithstanding).

So Lucy L, you might win that bet - we may have checked luggage. But our collective luggage weight would likely be fine on most other airlines.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Brilliantly simple, simply brilliant

A couple of Facebook friends posted a link to an article called "25 clever ideas to make life easier". Usually the ideas in these kinds of things are pretty inane, but the friends whose intellect I trust were delighted with it.

As a soon-to-be-traveller, I was particularly tickled by this idea: Store shoes inside shower caps to stop dirty soles rubbing on your clothes.
Like most simple, elegant solutions, it is obvious once you've seen it and you wonder why you never thought of it before. (JD's sandals will still have to go in a sealed bag - for whatever reason, they're remarkably whiffy.)

The other idea that I really like is the gutter garden. Again, brilliantly simple once you've seen it.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Ouch - immunisations time

Yesterday afternoon, the four of us got our immunisations in anticipation of going to India in seven (7!) weeks. The shots themselves didn't hurt much, as the needles were very fine and the nurse, Anne, very competent. Jos and Ky calmly stated "ow" two or three time for each, but didn't flinch, setting the standard rather high for us. Afterwards we went out for a delicious but way-too-much-food Indian meal. 

This morning, however, we are all sooking and groaning. I feel like I've been given a not-friendly-at-all shoulder punch on both sides. Lifting my arm up to shoulder height (to get a teabag out of the tea caddy, for example) has me making faces and muttering "ooof". The others are feeling equally worse for wear.

Nevertheless, I'm glad I got these done this weekend, as next weekend I'm swimming in the MS Megaswim (a pool-based Relay for Life type thing, raising funds for Multiple Sclerosis research) - my hour-long slot starts at midnight next Sunday morning. I don't think I could lift my arms up over my shoulders repeatedly this Sunday! And the weekend after that, we have our TKD grading. And the one after that is our infamous work Xmas party.

For those interested in the nitty gritty details (like my sister El, who is joining us a week into our India trip), the shots we got were:
  • Adacel - combination diptheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP) booster
  • Vivaxim - combination Hepatitis A and typhoid (a HepA booster in 6-36 months will give lifelong immunity)
  • Menveo - broad-spectrum Meningococcal vaccine (C, W-135 and Y)

The kids have already had their Meningococcal vaccines (given to them as pre-schoolers), and are not yet due for a DTP booster, so they only had two shots:
  • Havrix Junior - Hepatitis A vaccine, and
  • Typhim Vi - a typhoid vaccine (there's no kid-suitable combination vaccine, for HepA and typhoid)
All four of us will also be taking malaria tablets, starting two days before we leave, and finishing two weeks after we return. The doc prescribed a slightly lower dose for Ky, on the grounds that it might stunt his growth. Given he weighs practically the same as his brother, and is only a couple of inches shorter than him (despite the 2.5 year age difference), and is the tallest yet youngest in his class, I don't think stunting his growth is a significant issue.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Gorky: Bukhara

Bukhara is the fifth largest city in Uzbekistan, and the city dates back to the 3rd-4th centuries BC, similar to Samarkand.  The historic centre of Bukhara has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. (Wikipedia)


The Kalyan minaret, built in 1127, is a tapered circular pillar made of baked mud bricks, 48m high, and 9m diameter at the base, narrowing to 6m. Gengis Khan spared the tower when he sacked the city, possibly as it is an excellent watchtower. It is also known as the Tower of Death as, until early last century, criminals were executed by being thrown from the top. (Wikipedia)

The Saminid Mausoleum was likely built during the reign of Ismail Samani (892-907), but certainly completed by 943. Again made of baked brick, it is a slightly tapered cube topped with a hemispherical dome. The delicate brickwork gives the building a lacy lightness. Buried in sediment up to the top of the doors for many years, the building was restored in the mid-twentieth century.
This image from ArchNet, taken by Roya Marefat in 1987

The Bala Hauz Mosque (hauz means pond, pool or lake) was built in 1712, originally as a royal chapel. The richly decorated entry iwan was added during a general reconstruction of the area in 1914-17. It's main facade overlooks the octagonal hauz, and faces Registan Square. The building has only been restored very recently. (Various sources, all seem to quote the same text, see here and here and here.)

Here's some other pics Dad (G) took in Bukhara.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Gorky: Khiva

And here are some photos from Khiva. Again, hopefully G will come and add some detail.

Mudbrick minaret

Madrasa? Mosque?
Carved timber posts inside mosque
"Djuma Mosque ... was established in the 10th century and rebuilt in 1788-89, although its celebrated hypostyle hall still retains 112 columns taken from ancient structures." (Wikipedia)

Carved timber doors

Incomplete minaret
"The large blue tower in the central city square was supposed to be a minaret, but the Khan died and the succeeding Khan did not complete it, perhaps because he realized that if completed, the minaret would overlook his harem and the muezzin would be able to see the Khan's wives. Construction was halted and the minaret remains unfinished to this day." (Wikipedia)

Mudbrick fortress walls

Wikipedia advises the city has two parts, an inner, old town (Itchan Kala), encircled by brick walls and possibly dating back to the tenth century (fifth and sixth centuries, per Wikitravel), and an outer, modern town (Dichan Kala), formerly protected by a wall with eleven gates.

Gorky: Tashkent

Hopefully G will come and expand on the captions for these pictures from Tashkent.

Khast Imam mosque (per east site); Tashkent madrasa (per G)

Tashkent market

Fine arts and handicrafts

From Wikipedia: The city has risen and fallen several times, and has changed names just as many. Its current name dates back to the tenth century. It was sacked by Khorezmshah in 1214, and again by Genghis Khan in 1219, and revived under the Timurids and subequent dynasties, despite repeated attacks. By 1809, it was considered to be one of the richest cities in Central Asia, but was overrun by the Tsarist Russians only half a century later. It was again substantially destroyed by an earthquake in 1966. Wikitravel notes that modern Tashkent is a very Soviet city that has little remaining from its Central Asian past

Gorky: Ulueg Beg's sextant

The sextant of Ulueg Beg in Samarkand 


In Samarkand, the enormous sextant of Ulueg Beg, grandson of Timurlane
[aka Timur], by which he took sun and star positions and accurately calculated the true length of a year. This could only be possible with a deep Arab learning about the stars, assisted by the Ptolemaic version of the heavenly spheres, a strong practical need for the knowledge (astrology and religious festivals), the Arabic (Hindu) numerals and the decimal system and a very strong Arabic & Khurasani development of abstract mathematics, trigonometry and large numbers. Preceded the Jantar Mantar in Jaipur and Delhi by 150 yrs.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Gorky: Paper-making

Paper making to the old Samarkand recipe of mulberry bark. 

Captured Chinese prisoners in 870 brought with them the secret of making paper – bamboo, cotton and cloth substrates. However, cotton paper, the only local material applicable, bled writing ink, although ok for lanterns or posters. After trials, the soft under-bark of one-year-old branches from mulberry trees could be used. 
Sericulture [silk farming] was and is a major industry and generates a lot of fresh mulberry branches harvested for their leaves for the silkworms. The availability of good quality paper allowed the creation of large libraries and linear written argument. This enabled the Abbasid translation movement and the learning of Ibn Sina as well as his huge output because of the much lower manufacturing costs

From my conversations with Dad, supplemented by Wikipedia:
The Chinese invented paper making, but initially used it for wrapping things, for padding and protection. They fiercely protected their methods, and the techniques were slow to spread.
The first paper mill in the Islamic world was founded in Samarkand in the eighth century (C8), and used water power to power trip-hammers to prepare the pulp.
The raw paper was then polished to a smooth surface using shells and stones
The technology slowly spread through the Islamic world, into Europe (C11) and India (C13)

Guess who we saw today ...

Gorky: signing in

Actually, this is Ab, signing up my parents (collectively known as Gorky) as authors.

Given my travel options are somewhat limited (time and money), I thought we might keep you entertained between my trips with stuff about my parents' travels. Recently retired, they have a hectic travel schedule:
  • They've just returned from six weeks away, with nearly four weeks in Uzbekistan, and two weeks in the south of France.
  • They're off again in mid-November for a month in Prato, just out of Florence, where they've signed up with a Monash University one-month intensive studying Dante.
  • They're back for two weeks to host our family Christmas gathering
  • And then they're off to India with us, staying an extra week to go to Darjeeling and others with my sister.
  • Oh, and they're off to Iran in April.
Dad (G) having retired from medicine, most recently in academia, is now pursuing a Masters in History by research. I'll get him to set out his area of study, which is basically a very small subset of his broader interest in the transfer of knowledge from Muslims/Arabs to Christians/Latins in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. I wouldn't be remotely surprised if he does a second PhD out of all this. And/or a book.

In other words, if you want to know why I'm such a polymath study-nut nerd, look no further than my parents.

Note: All photos in Gorky posts are taken by either G or K (my parents), unless attributed otherwise.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Review: Vue Grand at Queenscliff

Website: - requires Flash (an incomplete html version is available for Apple-powered devices).

We took advantage of both boys being away at sleepovers on Friday night, and arranged for a fancy dinner and B&B. We've both previously stayed at the Vue Grand for respective work conferences, but I think this was the first time we'd chosen it (rather than being chosen for us). It was a very straightforward exercise to book online (once I was using a Flash-capable device - that is, not my iPad), and a courtesy call the next business day confirmed they had received my booking. Although their dinner/room/breakfast deal was supposed to finish at the end of September, I could still book my choice of room (traditional, balcony, spa or superior spa) plus choice of either the tasting menu or a la carte plus breakfast for the discount rate of $300/couple.

The sample menu in the Entertainment Book looked very enticing, and we later discovered that their head chef was the former head chef at Pettavel. I believe it was on this basis that it was included in the most recent Age Good Food Guide (due to the timing - the book would have been at the printers by the time he came on board.) As one of our top three meals ever was at Pettavel, this was most encouraging. (The other two would be a family dinner at Jimmy Watson's, on Lygon St, yonks ago, and a birthday dinner at Rockpool a couple of years back.)

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Applying for visas for India

India requires would-be tourists to apply for visas, which is entirely reasonable. But they have some very odd questions and/or answer options, and a decidedly glitchy online application system.

Should you find yourself applying for a visa to India, you should be aware of the following things:

Friday, 16 September 2011

Wheee! New toy!

Travelling up to Canberra reminded me yet again of the limitations of using a iPad as my sole form of contact with the internet/world. At the very least, you can't connect to a wired internet. Apparently no such doodad exists that can connect my iPad to a network cable. (Can a network cable be connected to a USB majigger, which could then be connected to a USB/iPad connector? I haven't found one yet.)

So, browsing today through JB Hifi (something one should always be cautious of doing), I ended up in the netbooks section. And am now the proud owner of a Acer aspire (AOD257-13DQKK, in case you care), for AU$274. While it doesn't have Bluetooth (to get that would cost an extra $70-$100, effectively), it does have wired and wireless internet, 3 USB ports, a monitor connection, and a built-in SD card reader. And a true browser. And a tactile keyboard. And is probably lighter than the iPad.

My son is concerned about my new infatuation - he's already told me not to forsake my current husband for my new beau. (JD and I chuckled about this, as I become a computer widow every time JD buys a new game.) I think it's far more likely that my iPad will feel like it's been superseded.

I still have to iron out a few kinks: the touch pad treats my thumb accidentally touching it as a command, for example, and I need to get used to the rather too short space bar (but it's not as bad as the iPad one which regularly sends me to the number keypad if I'm not careful). 

I might even post here a little more often...

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Packing for Fight Club

Only Chuck Norris can talk about Fight Club.

That's okay, I'm not going to talk about Fight Club. Just what I'm going to take to Fight Club.

Stuff required for competitions
  1. Humongous bag, with two pairs of hand, foot, shin and forearm guards, two shields, headguards, three mouthguards (spare for JD), one groin guard
  2. Strapping tape (1" for thumb; 1.5" for wrist/ankles/Achilles), Deep Heat, Ice Gel
  3. Water bottles, sweat towels
  4. Doboks with TA badge on top and Victoria strip on pant
  5. Entry forms and membership cards

Ab on the road (but not abroad)

Tomorrow morning we set off obscenely bright and early to drive to Canberra. O'dark thirty is not my preferred time of day - I am a confirmed night owl. Nonetheless, we need to leave early so we don't get up there too late, and also to beat the morning peak hour in Melbourne.  It's around an eight hour drive (730km), plus stops.

So right now, I'm stocking up on Apps and podcasts and audiobooks and the like. Next, I'll be stocking up on things to feed the kids (and us) to help keep us sane. Later, I'll need to think about packing. Given we're not travelling by air, weight is not an issue for packing, but volume is: much of the boot* will be taken up with the humongous bag which holds our TKD gear.

Because, dear reader, we are going to Canberra to fight.  JD and I are competing this weekend in the Taekwondo Australia National Championships and Australian Open. (The kids are coming too, but not competing this year - they've both expressed interest for next year, though.)

This is JD (in blue) at the Victorian State Sparring Championships. There are no pictures of me, because I didn't get to compete (I was one of only two female Masters competitors).

In this picture, you can see his dobok (uniform), headguard, shield/chest guard, foot guards, and hand guards.  You can't see his shin guards, forearm guards, groin guard or mouthguard. And I have a similar set of gear (no groin guard). And that's why the bag to hold all the gear (plus strapping tape, instant ice packs, Deep Heat, Deep Heat Ice Gel, ankle braces, water bottles, sweat towels, and other crap) is so humongous.

[Edited to add picture of said humongous bag - the dining table is 3'6" wide.]

At least at the Nationals, we both get a fight. JD will fight the same bloke he fought at the Vic Champs, the only other competitor in his belt/age/weight category. I was originally uncontested, but another competitor is willing to go up an age group and weight group so we'd both get a fight (she was also uncontested). On the upside, all four of us (JD, me, and our respective opponents) are each guaranteed at least a silver medal!

Having my first fight ever at the National Champs is far from idea, but the reality is that there are very few 40+ women who compete: the entries for the Nationals show only four other women in that age group, all of whom are black belts (I'm a lowly blue belt). Oh, and they're all 10-15kg lighter than me. Even if my body can withstand the injuries from training, and I'm still competing when I'm a black belt, I will probably still be uncontested as there's no way I am willing (let alone able) to get below 62 kg to fight lightweight! Eh, I'll cross that bridge if/when I get to it.

* trunk, for my American readers.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

NZ posts - now with pictures!

Photos like this one (Cardrona skifield, Day 5)

and this one, also from Cardrona, looking out towards Queenstown...

And here's one of Lake Wakatipu, around which Queenstown is nestled.

Here's what not skiing when on a skiing holiday can do to you...

Here's what skiing in white-out can do to you: make you drink mulled wine ...

And here's what having your photo taken by your mother can do to you ...

Musings - skiing etc

Miscellaneous notes to self/comments/observations.

In hindsight, the folks must have taken us spring skiing, and not winter skiing, when we were kids in NZ. I don't remember it being this cold. At the absolute screaming minimum, next time I must have a windproof layer (and my softshell jacket is not windproof). A neck covering of some sort is also essential, as might be a turtleneck jumper of some kind.

JD and I were very much the odd ones out. Even on the sunny days, more than 95% of skiers/snowboarders were wearing goggles and not sunglasses. Technology must have come some way, because I always found them uncomfortable and prone to fogging. And the ones designed to be worn with spectacles were even worse. (I wear contact lenses pretty much 24/7 these days, so that's not an issue any more.)

Another change is that well over half of all skiers/snowboarders were wearing helmets. The zoomy kids have worn them for a long time, but a lot of adults were wearing them too. I'm not sure why the adoption has been so quick, particularly among the "I am immortal" male 16-26 snowboarding demographic, but here are some of the reasons I heard/saw/read:
  • If I'm making the kids wear them, I figure I should too.
  • They keep your head and ears toasty warm
  • Built-in MP3 player and headphones, for tunes as you zoom
  • I believe all ski instructors are strongly encouraged to wear them, as role models.
  • And, um, the safety reasons - Natasha Richardson's death was not in vain.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Day 8: Kamala

Kamala is nearly four weeks post-surgery, and the bits of her brain that were bumped when they took out the last of the tumour have left her with minimal control of her left foot. However, this is improving rapidly. Unfortunately the screwy NZ health system is stacked against her.

In NZ, if you have an accident, you are very well covered by the ACC, the Accident Compensation Commission. However, other medical treatment is pretty dismal, whether it be a stroke, or cancer, or a congenital condition. This is one of the reasons it took Kamala having a massive seizure before her condition was diagnosed: it is very hard to get an MRI covered without insurance, due to the number of hoops that have to be jumped through to get it approved.

That said, they've done a good job. They only shaved a minimum of her head, in a T (she said it looked far more impressive when it still had the staples), making the psychological recovery that much easier.

We didn't see her boys as Kamala's dad, Stuart, had taken them to a play (he has been taking the boys each day during school holidays). K thought it would be far simpler if her boys didn't know we were visiting, so our arrival was delayed until after they'd left. When you're five years old (give or take), sometimes not knowing is definitely the best.

Unfortunately, we weren't able to stay long, partly due to our own schedule's demands, and partly due to Kamala not yet being at full strength. It was wonderful to see her, however briefly, and thank her for our opportunity to come to NZ at her expense. (The Chc-Mel ticket was bought for her and her family, but K chose to not delay her surgery further, and therefore couldn't use the flight.)

(It is very difficult to get a good photo when the boys are mucking about.)

Kia kaha, Kamala.