This is a post I’ve been dreading

Yesterday we lost our wee girl Daisy. After fifteen years and seven months her big heart finally gave out and she slipped peacefully away. We will miss her terribly but we will always remember the stubborn and determined, but intensely loyal and devoted little girl she was.

Our lovely vet Laura has, for the last year or so, referred to her as our medical miracle – which she was.

We will think of her simply as our Daisy, our little girl.

Daisy  1997 – 2012.

Daisy asleep in the cottage on our clothes – Tuscany, June 2011

Here comes the sun

From the end of May to the middle of August our house loses the sun.

For the other 10 months of the year it basks in the golden glow but for the darkest depths of winter the sun teases us as it passes over the front fence never coming any closer. This was one of the reasons we decided to spend July in Europe each year usually returning just as the sun started to creep inside again.

Over the last few days we have seen the sun start to return – much to the delight of Poppie who spent this morning asleep on her recently adopted rug on the stair landing, warmed by the sun.

For Jean and I it means that summer is that little bit closer.

There was a clunk and then … nothing

It could have been a line from a crime novel. But it’s wasn’t. It was the sound I heard just before my 550 Spyder rolled slowly to a halt. The engine was running and the gears were changing but somehow the power wasn’t getting to the wheels. Somewhere in the mechanical marvel right behind my head, something had said enough. Thankfully, for a car with no roof, this happened close to home and on a fine day.

I’d just washed the car for the first time, in the process figuring out how to do that without filling the cockpit with water (the trick, it turns out, is to be really careful) and on the drive back to the storage garage I experienced the aforementioned clunk. It was followed by cursing, grunting and swearing as the car was pushed the final 50 metres to the storage garage by myself and my lovely wife.

A few days later the 550 was dragged unceremonially on to the back of a car transporter and taken to the wizards at the Powerhaus. I have to admit as it was driven away my only thought was that even on the back of a flat deck transporter, the car looked good!

Footnote: I got a call later that day to say that the patient was sick but could be cured easily and quickly without the need for any form of open heart surgery. Apparently a nut and bolt holding the drive shaft had come away which, for a modest sum, could be replaced and the car will be as good as new.

Now all I need is a fine day to drive it home.

One year ago today

This time last year we had taken a break from the hectic pace of Tuscany, packed up the trusty Peugeot and headed north to France – the Cote d’Azur to be precise.

We had arranged to swap cars in Nice returning a slightly beat up Peugeot 308SW and picking up a brand new shiny Renault Megane Estate. Jean’s sister, brother-in-law and their baby James had been staying in Nice for a week relaxing so we met them and then moved about 10 minutes along the coast to the small seaside village of Villefranche sur Mer.

With bustling Nice on one side and glamorous Cap Ferrat on the other it always amazes me that this seaside village retains an air of calm and relaxation. There is nothing better than a quiet morning cafe at the hotel followed by a wander through the local markets and lunch on the Quai de l’Amiral Courbet with the sea lapping at your feet.

The panorama shot (made up of 6 individual photos covering 180 degrees) is taken from our balcony at Hotel Welcome, an institution in the village and a place we’ve stayed every time we’ve visited – which must be half a dozen times in the last decade. The Hotel has a wonderful manager who speaks excellent english, has a wonderfully dry sense of humour, and is a keen rugby follower. Even in August last year he was picking a France versus All Blacks Rugby World Cup final and an All Black victory. An easy one was his pick.

A view of Villefranche sur Mer with Cap Ferrat in the background

I’m not the only one worrying about Wellington

The post about the sign Wellington Airport recently installed on the hills beside the final approach (There are times I worry about Wellington) has certainly got my wonderful readers thinking. And they’re coming up with new and creative suggestions for the sign.

To show you what I mean, I’ve mocked up a couple of the suggestions. Keep them coming.

Two in a basket

Two in a basket beside the desk

Yes gentle reader, another gratuitous dog shot makes it’s way into the blog.

Our old girl Daisy (on the right) has now reached the unlikely age of 15 years and 6 months. Despite her heart condition, her deafness and her bad eyesight, she continues to battle on. In recent weeks she decided that all the old foods she used to eat and enjoy are boring and unappetising and she effectively stopped eating. Now she will only eat all the things that are bad for her. If it’s high in salt and low in vitamins and minerals, she’s into it.

That means McDonalds McNuggets, Cherrios (cocktail sausages to all non-kiwis), store bought meat pies, pretty much everything that we would have been horrified feeding her before. But after talking this through with our lovely vet Linda the general feeling was – if she’ll eat it, then that’s good. Because if she stops eating, well, that’s very bad.

Having said that, tonight, along with Jean and I, Daisy enjoyed fillet steak – medium rare – cooked in garlic butter.

Daisy spends most of her time sleeping these days, in her basket, next to my desk in the study. It’s a safe, warm place and a friendly pat is never far away.

Yesterday I came into the study to find Daisy at one end of her basket – and our other girl Poppie curled up at the other. Poppie has been watching the extra attention being lavished on Daisy and maybe this is her way to remind us not to forget her.

Mental note – fillet steak for 4 tomorrow night.

There are times I worry about Wellington

Last week a sign was erected on the hills above Evans Bay. It has been the result of 2 years of local debate and controversy and has involved everything from a petition from the public through to the involvement of some of Wellington’s finest business and political minds. All to develop a sign to welcome those arriving by plane at Wellington airport.

The sign says – wait for it – Wellington.

This story began when Wellington Airport – which owned the site – decided to pay homage to Wellington’s fabulous film industry – you know, Peter Jackson, The Lord of the Rings, Weta Digital, Stone Street Studios and now the two, sorry, three Hobbit movies – by erecting a copy of the famous “Hollywood” sign on the hill overlooking the harbour which would say “Wellywood”. I’m not sure where this piece of creative genius came from but it’s fair to say everyone, except the airport company,  thought it was naff, silly and, lets be honest, a bit “try hard”.

The airport company stuck to their guns, the sign was going up, end of story. But after protests, hours of angry talk-back calls, comment from many distinguished Wellingtonians, and the aforementioned petition, they backed down. A committee of prominent locals was set up to oversee a contest. Anyone who wanted to, could submit a design and the best one would be selected to go up.

It turned out that the best was a “Wellington” sign being blown away. An idea that came from an Auckland advertising agency. Yikes.

That sign with the airport to the right