Monday, June 24, 2013


I normally find it hard to relax, but I've managed to recharge my batteries here in Geraldine. Nothing much has happened here, and I've hardly seen anybody except my parents, but seeing lots of people and attempting to achieve things tends to stress me out.

After the cold snap that straddled the shortest day, we've had two lovely days here - those crisp mornings and clear days that you get so often in this part of the country. Yesterday we dropped in on my uncle, the one with terminal cancer. He seemed remarkably chipper, he hadn't lost any of his several interests, and had even regained the weight he'd lost. I never would have imagined he'd recently received a death sentence.

Mum and Dad have a variety of fruit trees as well as a vege patch, giving them an even bigger supply of homegrown produce than we had in England. It would be nice to have something similar myself one day. We've just been picking cooking apples which will go into a crumble. I made an apple and rhubarb crumble for my work colleagues last week (they were doing some kind of pudding week). They said they liked it but it's hard to tell what they really think. Dad mentions a time in the seventies when he brought homemade wine into work (making wine was a popular pastime back then). He knew it was disgusting but his colleagues politely drank it all.

Dad is getting a new website made up for his paintings. He wants a picture of himself on the home page (I agree that he should have one) and wanted me to take a suitable photo of him - an "arty, moody" one as he put it. "Just use your nous," he told me. But I've got no nous when it comes to arty, moody photos of people. Do you want the apple tree in the background or not? In fact I rarely take photos of people full stop, as Dad found out when he saw the pictures I took of my trip in 2010. I was peeved when he dismissed all the shots I took. He mentioned his cousin, a potter, who has made a living not from selling his pots so much as selling himself. There are photos of him, immaculately coiffed, all over the internet and in print. I accused Dad of being as vain as his cousin. I did take more photos and he eventually chose one. If I have a tinge of autism it comes to the fore whenever people-related photos are involved, especially arty, moody ones.

Yesterday morning I watched Dad fly his glider at Pleasant Point. He spends many an evening tinkering with balsa wood and glue - he enjoys building his planes and gliders more than flying them. He has excellent fine motor skills; of course his living has relied on them. Yesterday we met a young guy who had spent a fair sum on an impressive ready-made plane, and an 81-year-old bloke who grew up in St Ives. He remembers the town in wartime when its population was only 3500 - long before the sprawling estate was built - and everybody knew everybody. He's also an anti-bike-helmet advocate - he thinks helmets (which aren't compulsory in the UK or continental Europe) are a psychological and practical barrier to cycling in NZ, and the health of the nation is worse as a result. I think he's got a point.

Wimbledon, the greatest tennis tournament on earth, starts in a few minutes. The automatic entrants to the main draws were joined by a number of qualifiers. To qualify for the men's main draw you had to win two best-of-three-set matches followed by a best-of-five; there was no tie-break in the deciding set of any match. Because of the long final set and the fact that you're more likely to reach it in the best-of-three format, you would expect a best-of-three to last longer than a best-of-five once service dominance reaches a certain level. I'm guessing the cut-off point would be around 85% of points won on serve; I promise to do the calculations and post the figure here.

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