31 October 2002

Hello Ian, still reading? Send me an email.
Remember to read Cyprus #1 first
Cyprus #2. The Latrines

OldEric says :-) H'mm, now there's a subject, but the background first. When we first arrived at Ayios Nikolaos camp our permanent accommodation was still in the process of being built so we were housed in tents, you know the type, heavy canvas, centre pole and square. Four to a tent with a wire-wove bed frame and a 5ft cupboard each.
Now that didn't bother us too much, we were in our early twenties and life was still an adventure, we were supplied with a paraffin heater for the cold nights which was open at the top and with a tin plate we could cook up a tin of baked beans, fry bacon or cook an egg if we got hungry and we did get hungry.
Now what bothered us each morning and night was the toilet block. This was a large wooden building 40 feet by 20 feet. Down each long side of the building were basins for washing with showers placed each end of the building. In the centre of the building were the toilets, these were two long rows of back to back cubicles just like public toilet cubicles down the centre of the building.
Now the problem, the toilets emptied a long drop, into a huge trench almost the 40 foot length of the building and the trench was about 6 feet wide and estimated at least 10-12 feet deep. Like most of Cyprus the ground was almost solid rock and the trench had to have been blasted out of the rock. Everything went into the trench including wash basin and shower water. To maintain hygiene a two inch film of oil based disinfectant floated on the top of the trench contents and everything passed through this layer of disinfectant barrier.
Even so the powerful smell of the disinfectant and stench of the trench contents leaking through and mixing together was overpowering to say the least. No one wasted time in the toilet block.
After we moved into our permanent accommodation some way off the toilet block, trench was getting full and had to be pumped out into huge tankers to be disposed of. The whole camp stunk for days. Many years later talking to an ex RAF man whom I happened to meet and had been stationed in Ayios Nikolaos, he told me the trench had been filled in a year or two after I left. Over time the toilet trench storey was often told over a beer and the trench became infamous.
Cyprus #1

OldEric says :-} When I was in the RAF, I was stationed in Cyprus in 1956 for part of my time. I was stationed near Famagusta which populated predominantly by people of Turkish extraction and Greeks were in the minority although the total population of Cyprus, Greeks were in the majority for the whole of the island. This was the time of active EOKA the Greek terrorist organization. EOKA were not too much of a problem in the Turkish majority areas so we were not restricted in our travels however we always traveled armed and the normal weapon carried was usually a .303 rifle. After a short while I realized the rifle was a clumsy weapon for the use it was needed for and I noticed the weapon of choice for the longer serving personnel was often a Sten Gun, a short ugly all metal submachine gun painted black which could fire single shot or automatic. A certificate of competence was required for this weapon it was dangerous in untrained hands, and it could only be used right handed and I was left handed.
I practiced on the firing range until I was competent and using the weapon right handed was second nature. With this weapon, going out to remote radio beacons and the like I felt a lot safer as some of them were in Greek areas with little or no population just the places for ambushes.
One incident made me smile, two of us and a driver were required to go up to Nicosia Airport to pick up two new incoming personnel for our section and as usual we were armed and carrying spare magazines. One of the two new comers had a look on his face somewhere between aghast and horror on his face when he saw us and eying the Sten gun. I knew what was going through his mind and I remember saying something like “don’t worry it isn’t as bad as it looks, its just in case”. Even now I don’t think he believed me, he never said a word all the way back to our unit at Ayios Nikolaos.
That was only one side of Cyprus, I liked Cyprus very much, that is the Cyprus of that era, I believe it is now thick with tourist hotels and hoards of people. The climate was very equitable, sunny most of the time with little humidity but it could get cold get in winter with dry NE winds from the snowy Steppes of Russia and the snows of central Turkey. The beaches of Cyprus were good and the beaches of Famagusta were excellent. Here I got a bad dose of sunburn on one of my shoulders just a narrow piece on the top of the shoulder from my neck to the outer part of the shoulder. I had a pink mark there for many years afterwards. The nicest beachside areas I enjoyed were the northern beaches, around the east of Kyrenia if you have a map. Here were sandy inlets and slab rock foreshores and very pretty. I spent a pleasant long weekend out here with the combined forces Ham club which were running 24 hours per day in a competition so we had plenty of beach time to look around.

28 October 2002

Ullswater: Lake Fishing.

As a boy we often fished in Ullswater. We usually caught trout or perch. There were 2 species of trout, brown trout or salmon trout (also called sea trout). The fish most easily caught were perch, brown trout and salmon trout were harder. Salmon trout were strong fighting fish.
Sometimes we fished for the pot. With Dad we would go to the Corlett's at Sharrow Cottages, Mr Corlett had access to a net at the place he worked. We would go down to the lake row out and set the net, leave and come back 2-3 hours later. There were always fish in the net. We threw the perch back and kept the trout. The salmon trout had pink flesh and very good eating, so were the brown trout---no muddy taste from bottom feeding, the lake had a clean pebble bottom.
When we fished ourselves we normally caught perch. These had a sweet delicate flavour but were hard to prepare, they had spines on their backs and could cause a nasty wound. We used to clip them off before skinning them. One time we caught 34 perch and ran out of bait so we used the red coloured fins from the caught ones and continued fishing. The place we were fishing from was a cliff face which dropped straight into the deep water. When the water was still and the suns rays at the right angle we could look down into the deep, the water was crystal clear and we could see the big fellows deep down. We would use a hand line weighted and drop the bait down but even when we put the bait under their nose they ignored it. The old fellows had been around for a long time and knew the ropes. We occasionally used a pup tent and stayed over night and made an open fire to cook with. No fire regulations here in those days, no tourists, not even fishing licenses! The place we fished by the cliffs was on the track from Howtown to Glenridding and the cliffs were at the Howtown end. We used to see no one all weekend. We were warned by our parents not to go near the deep water but we did'nt listen, we boys were bullet proof.
As the 1940s progressed WW2 came to an end and slowly one or two fishermen turned up, as the years progressed we would see bus loads of fishermen sometimes from industrial Lancashire and Yorkshire. It did'nt worry us, they did'nt know the good fishing spots, but we did. What did worry us later was these same bus loads of fishermen used to come with more than one rod and one day we watched one man with 4 rods. Then came talk of fishing licenses and regulations. Our fishing paradise was being invaded. What price greed?
A short follow up later.

27 October 2002

Long Weekend

OldEric says :-) No we didn't go away this long weekend, stayed at home for a change. Went to Tony's for dinner on Friday night. He made a very nice Curry with Basmati rice and Naan bread. Yummy.
Yesterday we decided to go to Hamilton city and pick up some plants for the garden.Disaster struck, the station wagon was low on gas and I hadbacked it down our steep drive to unload some stuff and the pump must have drained back into the tank. There was only enough to reach the top of the drive in the carbo and that was it. Couldn't drive the Nissen out to go for gas, the station wagon was in the way. Jim across the road was out and came back mid morning and ran me down for 10 litres of gas. That was fine and the station wagon started, we were away, but, got down the road and the wagon stalled at the traffic lights and the after starting again when I took my foot of the gas pedal the damned thing kept stalling. The only way I could get through the traffic lights without stalling was to put the automatic in the low,low gear for towing and we headed for home. Probably some muck in the carbo from the bottom of the tank. But now we could get the Nissen out we headed for Hamilton. Got that of my chest! I feel better.
Today rain has been promised from a low coming across the Tasman and tomorrow as well, just started this Sunday afternoon. Sunny all morning and tee shirt weather. Planted the Impatians and the Gazzinias and a bag of compost to help things along. Oh, and had a full English breakfast this morning, the works. The only trouble Pat puts me on a starvation diet for the rest of the day.Oh, well.
Well thats it from OldEric, got some emails to send.
Got a lot more tales to tell, but some a bit too long for the Blog. Will try to shorten them or put them in 2 parts, we'll see.

24 October 2002

The Sergeant

OldEric says (:-) If you read Windy earlier this is a loose continuation of that tale. The sergeant concerned, I cannot remember his name was in a different section to me. He was somewhat older than most of us, probably around 35-40. One of his roles was sergeant of discipline and for that role alone he was disliked. At best without his disciplinary role he wasn’t particularly popular. The Sergeant was married and lived with his wife down in nearby Famagusta in private accommodation. In Famagusta it was reasonably safe from terrorism as this area was predominantly populated by people of Turkish extraction who disliked the Greeks. Not that the area was free of Greeks but they were in the minority in the area. Each evening coming off duty he drove to his home from the camp at Ayios Nikolaos and when he reached Famagusta shopping area would invariably call at a particular corner shop and pick up the daily groceries---milk, etc. The Sergeant was in the shop 2 minutes and then on his way home again. When he returned to his car on this particular day a gut-wrenching sight met his eyes, his gun belt holster was empty. Against strict regulations, for comfort he used to take off his gun belt and place it on the passenger seat and there it remained until he arrived home. Reporting the theft, the only outcome that could be was a Court Marshal and judged inevitably guilty.
His Court Marshal sentence was 3 months in the military prison and reduced in rank to Corporal on completion. In military prisons, unlike civilian prisons a prisoner forfeits all rights, has no privileges, he is at the whim of his jailors. On release, I remember his face, like Windy's face it was drawn and haggard. Over the following weeks and months I would occasionally look at him and think, he was the shell of the man I remember.
Towards the end of my service in Cyprus I learnt that the weapon that the Sergeant had lost was responsible for the deaths of 2 British servicemen in other locations on Cyprus. The price the Sergeant paid in the military prison was little compared to the price he paid with the knowledge of those 2 deaths. Did it haunt him? I don’t know, it most probably did.

23 October 2002

Bits and Pieces

OldEric says :-) Business is slow at the preasent time as it always is at this time of year. Pat was out to lunch with her friend Phyl Cartmill today. It is Phyl's birthday today and they went to the RSA Resturant in Ngaruawahia. Hmm'm, a difficult name even for Kiwi's if you are not of this area. I've been setting setting up my Outline for my Memoirs in MS Word. I did'nt know the feature existed until I read the Word 2000 manual I recently aquired. Often wondered what the little button down in the bottom left hand corner was for and too busy to investigate futher. Outline certainly makes life easier. But as all good techs say "when all else fails consult the manual". One thing for certain, I've found if you nut out a complex problem without say, in this case, the manual I find I never forget the proceedure but, if I have to follow a set of instructions, well I find I learn only how to follow the instructions. Then as in RAM in a computer the brain shuts down and the knowlege gained is gone as a puff of smoke, its gone.
I'm going now to prepare a sequel to Windy, if you read Windy. Its called The Sergeant.

21 October 2002

A Poem

OldEric says (:-]. Should you read this poem read it slowly, and savour it. The poem tells a poignant story.
On 2 May, 1915, in the second week of fighting during the Second Battle of Ypres Lieutenant Alexis Helmer was killed by a German artillery shell. He was a friend of the Canadian doctor Major John McCrae and it is believed that McCrae began the draft for his famous poem 'In Flanders Fields' that evening among the carnage.
Each year on Rememberance Day this poem is repeated, and the dead and dying of all wars are remembered with tears. This is the time when men and wives and lovers and sons and daughters, weep for lost fathers and grandfathers, lost in the carnage that was Flanders fields and in all battle fields since, both remembered and forgotten.
I was a boy of 6 when WW2 started and 12 when the war ended. I remember the poem since that time, each time I hear 'In Flanders Fields' the words never fail to bring a lump to my throat. Each time I read the poem I always read the last verse again, the last verse says it all, when you think about it. Evil in the world still abounds and will continue to exist into the future, we should be strong and face Evil.

In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep,
though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

20 October 2002

Ullswater: My Green Bike.

Before I was 11 I was sent to a better school in Penrith, Barton School had a very poor record. The bus from Pooley Bridge to Penrith left early and arrived back late, so to shorten my day a bike was bought for me to get to and from the bus.
My parents took me into Penrith to the bike shop which sold new and second-hand bikes. My parents were not at all rich so a second-hand bike was the order of the day. The owner of the shop who also repaired bikes recommended an old non-descript re-painted green bike with half dropped handle bars similar to dropped handle bars used on racing bikes, with chipped chrome and said it was sturdy, not too heavy and had been well looked after. Dad looked the bike over, pronounced it suitable and said yes we would take it. Dad also bought a dynamo set which worked by friction on the back tyre so I could see on my way home from the bus in the winter darkness which fell before 5 o' clock.
I loved that old green bike, without it I was restricted to a maximum of about 3 miles and now a whole new world was opened up to me. The bike took me back and forwards to the bus, it took me all over the countryside, it even took me to Penrith. That old green bike took me fishing, to spots I’d never been before and places I'd never camped before. It was my pride and joy.
That was until Peter Embley got a bike, the bike was a shiny new red one with full drop handle bars and the makers name stencilled on the down cross-bar. It had a frictionless wheel hub dynamo, not driven on the tyre like mine causing friction. And best of all it was 3 speed, mine wasn't. I was secretly envious and wished it was mine. But the shiny one was always breaking down and the chain would come off and the brakes always needed adjusting. My old green bike just kept sailing along, no trouble at all and my envy was mollified somewhat. No, my envy didn’t cause Peter and me to fight, we were good friends, I helped him with his bike problems and so did my Dad. Peter's father was always away at sea.

OldEric says (:-) Just as I was about to come and write another piece for my Blog I happened to surf on to the site of Steven's family where Steven has his own pages. I read a very sad story of a restricted boy now 21 and a happy story of a loving family. Steven has Angelmans Syndrome restricting his mobility and his learning capacity. I spent an hour or more on his site reading his pages so if I don't finish my piece today that is the reason. AS is very difficult to diagnose and is sometimes mistaken for a form of autism.
I also read of a loving and caring family who have helped ease Steven's burden and apply technology to introduce the outside world to Steven’s world. I signed his guest book and told him a little of my world. Should Steven come up here--- he would see my site--- I would like to say again, Hi, Steven, I'll drop you another line sometime, if you like.

19 October 2002

Milnthorpe: Fishing the Canal.

Old Eric says :-) In my early teens when we lived at Kidside, Milnthorpe I would sometimes go down to the canal at Crooklands fishing. I didn't go too often as I would have to be in the right mood. When I did the day would be sunny and still and summery, quiet with the sound of the bees moving from flower to flower.
I would get some sandwiches, tie the rod on my bike and ride down to the canal a mile or so away. Always to the same spot, just before the canal bridge where it went over the canal onto the Crooklands road. I would park my bike and go along the right-hand side by the bridge and, a short way down there is a wide pool in the canal were a culvert from the river runs in. This was my fishing spot. There were roach, rudd and other corse fish in the canal and though I never seemed to get the big ones, I did get good size ones. On one of these lazy fishing days I was just browsing and I felt a bite on the line and the float was down. It felt like a good sized fish and as I played it for a while I slowly pulled it up. It was a good sized roach and as I half lifted the roach up out of the water in the centre of the pool, the water suddenly exploded. All I remember seeing in the space of a moment was a large head, a larger open mouth and some sharp teeth and the roach disappearing. After the shock wore off all I saw on the hook was the roaches head and nothing else. What I had witnessed was a pike in action.
The lazy day disappeared, I was now all keyed up , a larger hook--the largest I had went on the line, I fished in earnest for roach, caught them and run them as live bait and tempted that pike, I knew he was down there lying on the bottom in the deepest part. Evening came I was still there and no movement from that pike, I reluctantly went home.

Pike (fish)

A freshwater fish of the genus Esox found in temperate regions of Eurasia and America. It has an elongated body, up to about 1.4 m long, a broad flat snout, and a large mouth with strong teeth. It feeds voraciously on fish and other animals. The common pike (E. lucius) is olive-grey above with silvery under parts and pale spots. Family: Esocidae; order: Salmoniformes

18 October 2002

A short Blog

OldEric Says (:-) Hurray!, its raining again. Two quick moving fronts are coming up the Tasman Sea, the weather forecast is spot on with their timing of late afternoon. So rain this evening and tonight, the wind is strong too. Two hours ago we were sitting in bright sunshine having lunch under the sun brolly and just a few woolly clouds in the sky and now overcast. The land will enjoy another watering. Bye!
003   Ullswater: Walk to School

 Barton School was the primary school I attended when we came to Ullswater from Ainstable in 1939. It was a 2 teacher school and was two and a half miles from our home. I used to have to walk this distance every day, I was 5 years old. There were some older children at the beginning but these children eventually left school. There was just me and Audrey an older girl who also lived at Sharrow Bay but she left to live elsewhere after a while. Also about this time some people named Bell came to live in the area and they had a taxi, they were from Newcastle and then there were more children to walk with. About this time too, a ruling came out that all children two and a half miles from school could apply for transport and the Bells, well over the distance applied and provided the taxi for school transport. My parents also applied and being on the two and a half mile boundary, the distance had to be measured to satisfy the authorities. The distance was 200 yards under the required distance and I was refused by the authorities. It was, after protests re-measured and again refused. I had to walk. The taxi with the distant children used to pass me each day but I had to walk. The authorities were inflexible. I remember, I used to think, "why can't Mr Bell squeeze me in?".

16 October 2002

This is a test to see if the team works
Today's Report

OldEric says (:-} Rain this morning and more forecast for this evening. Our average rainfall is down for our Spring here in NZ. We have had a few fast moving fronts pass over this past month or so and dump their rain but it isn't enough. If we don't get our Spring quota of rain, we will end up with a dried out NZ during the long hot Summer months. The soil is drying out fast. The days have been beautiful though, sky is wall to wall blue and the air crystal clear, you feel as though you can touch the distant hills in the clear air. The night temperatures drop down low during this type of weather and the bed blanket is needed, then the mornings come and the temperature rises fast up to 20degs C.
I won't be going round the Lake this late afternoon today. Saw a pair of Australian Black Swan yesterday with 4 youngsters, the adults looked magnificent in their glistening all black plumage and bright orange beaks. They were only 20 metres from me, well used to human activity.
A few Asian immigrants were fishing in the lake which is teeming with fish, Carp, both Goldfish and Koi, prized in England and a pest here, also Perch, Rudd and a few other species, not forgetting Eels of course. Well time to close the workshop door, four jobs, 2 TVs and 2 Monitors today. Fixed 3 of them and I'll leave one of the computer monitors for morning to fix. Spring jobs are always slow but it is nice to just relax and write these little pieces.
Windy--another Friend

OldEric says (:-} Windy was Ian Wyndham-Lewis and we met near Famagusta in Cyprus while doing part of my 2 years National Service in the RAF. I was in my early 20s at the time. Windy was not a close friend, he was more a relaxation friend. Windy was quiet, laid back, came from southern England and appeared to have been well educated, otherwise I did’nt know much about him and he did’nt volunteer much about himself either. I’m not sure how we met, one day he just seemed to be there, we drifted together but we became firm friends for the 16 months I spent in Cyprus. Windy worked in the teleprinter hall and did shift work like most personnel in our section but I, as a staff technician worked days only. We used to go down town together for our relaxation. If Windy was working a late shift, I would usually go down town with others. When Windy came off shift he always knew where to find me, early in a large open air garden bar, or later one particular restaurant or late another particular bar.
The section we were both employed in was the Circuit Control Centre which handled all incoming and outgoing RAF traffic between the UK, the Middle and Near East areas. A highly sensitive restricted section ringed by high fences and guarded by the RAF Regiment with shotguns at the gates (can't remember the name of the guns they carried, the barrels were distended at the end to scatter shot in a broad arc and the cartridges were--- big). Although the camp area was big, for large aerial arrays the personnel numbers were not great. We all took our turn at night guard duty on the perimeter fence with search lights and loaded weapons, this came round about every 4 weeks or so.
Windy’s turn came for guard duty one night so I did’nt expect to see him next day and that evening I went up to the NAFFI for a quiet beer and company when different people came up and said “did you know, Windy’s locked up?”. I was soon told the story. When the night guard weapons were handed in, bullet from a magazine traced to Windy were short, two rounds were missing. This was a serious offence in the 1950s especially in Cyprus. This was the time of the EOKA Greek terrorists wanting liberation to become part of Greece, the population were majority Greek and the minority were Turkish. Assassinations were common and loose ammunition was much frowned upon.
Windy was subsequently court marshalled and thrown in jail, the only jail there, belonged to the Army. The Army jails were known as the ‘glass-house’ and were very tough. Six weeks later Windy turned up, a very thin woe-begotten hunched up Windy. All the stuffing had been knocked out of him and he became a very morose Windy. We still went down town, we still had a beer, I tried to cheer him along but as long as I knew him after that he was changed. I tried to talk to him about his experience in jail but all he would say was “I never want to go into that place again!”.
In the next episode I will illustrate why the loss of weapons or ammunition was so serious with another story.
The Greek terrorists did’nt get their way, Turkey invaded Cyprus in later years and partioned the island, it remains so to this day in 2002.

15 October 2002

Jimmy Kitchen

OldEric says (;-} Jimmy Kitchen was a single farm worker who lived at Seat Farm next door to Sharrow Bay. He would sometimes come to our house in an evening for company and a yarn. Jimmy's favourite pastime when not fishing or hunting was yarning. Jimmy was a serious fellow and did'nt smile much but Jimmy used to tell some terrific yarns and I used to be all ears. He and Dad would be talking and I always knew when a yarn was in the offing, he would start with "Frank, do you know last night” .... and a yarn would start.
The best yarn was the rabbit one. As usual he started, "Frank, do you know, I've been down in the field trying to clean out those rabbits for a week or two now, they're eating the place bare so I though I'd go down and see if I could shoot one or two. I came up through the bushes to see what there was around the big oak tree, the one with the exposed bare roots. And do you know Frank, there were heaps of them, sitting on the roots, between the roots and all around the tree. So I pulled out the 22 rifle and I lined up this rabbit sitting on this root and as I looked down the sights there was another rabbit's head in the sight too, just behind the first one, so I moved my sights a little and I thought I would get two rabbits for the price of one. Just as I pulled the trigger a rabbit jumped and I said, damn, but no when I looked again there were two rabbits lying across the tree roots so I went across to collect them. And Frank, when I picked the two rabbits up I noticed another lying down between the tree roots, and do you know Frank, when I picked this other rabbit up, there through its head was a bullet hole. Three rabbits with one shot Frank, that third rabbit was the one I saw jump when I pulled the trigger".
We of course all rolled over with laughter and Kitch as we called him, did'nt bat an eyelid and with his serious face said "No, no, Frank, God's honour every words true, true as I sit here".
Jimmy Kitch, as we also called him did'nt tell yarns every time he called, just sometimes and when he did tell a yarn we were all ears. Of course nobody ever witnessed Jimmy's exploits, just Jimmy. Did Jimmy himself believe his yarns? I sometimes wondered if he may have done. Who knows?
Hoped you liked that one!

13 October 2002

This and That

OldEric says :-)The Blog has not been getting too much attention this past week, I've been too busy reading web textbooks to find what I can and cannot upload to my website and examine ways around it with problem files. I have only a slight knowledge of HTML and tend to use Front Page to solve my problems as I do not have the time to go deeply into HTML. So the Blog has suffered.
Gillian rang Pat this PM and they had a long talk. Its nice to see mother and daughter talking and discussing family decisions and asking for advise, or another point of view---nearer the mark I think. Its hard raising a family, it always has been and probably always will be. Each one of us is of a different make up, all depending on the genes we inherit and as each one of us matures we form our own points of view. Point of view differ all depending on our make up. To balance harmony in a family or community we tread a tight rope of guessed decisions sometimes right, sometimes wrong but mostly somewhere in between. We learn as we go, I think.
How did I get on to something heavy like that, I don't know, it just came out. I intended to write about my weekend and a phone call from Ian.
Mid afternoon here in NZ and a call this time, from Ian at 3am in the morning as travelled from Reading to home at Cricklade north of Swindon. He was just on his way home from a job in Reading, a supermarket internal alteration which can only be done at night during business downtime. Roads are empty at that time of morning, just the right time for a chat. I'm glad he likes his job, never seems to be a dull moment.
My weekend all I have time to write. Trimmed all the lower branches of the orange trees and cleaned up the fallen fruit. That took an hour and a half. Cleaned up other parts of the garden, planted out some of last years cuttings, prepared the beds for the impatiens. I love these bright cheery summer plants, and cut back some of the other shrubs. On the subject of citrus fruit did you know that the nicest fruit comes from the top of the tree?
Where is Tony? He must be busy, he leads a hectic social life. we must go in and see him in Hamilton this week, Pat says and have dinner with him. A good idea. Oh, did you know MS Word 2000 dictionary lists Blog as a word? I did’nt until I copied this Blog into Word spell check, hi. Told me Blog was wrongly spelt, should be capital B.

12 October 2002

Our Lake

OldEric says :-) I call it our lake, it isn't of course. Although only 250 metres away as the crow flies through paddock and swamp I usually drive down, about a km journey by road. Our lake is a pretty peat lake surrounded by bush, reeds and iris plants and has a walkway round it of 2.63 km, the sign says and I walk round it 3 to 5 times per week. When I first started to walk round the lake after the walkway construction I thought I would tire of the self-same views but I soon found it wasn’t like that at all, each day was varied just like the days are varied. My walk anti-clockwise takes me through swampy areas on raised causeways, through grassy areas, past houses backing on to the lake and bushy areas, through a small camping area and along the domain park section finishing where I started at the sailing club.
The lake teams with wildlife--birds, fish and from a seat where I usually rest and savour the pretty view, rabbits. From my resting place the view is always pleasant rain or shine. I even pause and sit in my rain gear on rainy days. I usually note the wildlife and a bird had me puzzled last week, it turned out to be a Caspian Tern. I did'nt know we had them in New Zealand even though they are worldwide. I always lookout for a batch of Canada Geese often swimming on the lake after feeding, they are always accompanied by 2 domestic geese gone wild. I think, they think they are Canada geese too! Canada geese are very suspicious birds and always post a sentry when resting or feeding, usually a large male bird has this chore. He always eyes me intently as I pass but he is used to me and other humans who walk the track.

10 October 2002

Ullswater: The Nelson's.
First draft.
For 9 years from 1939 until 1948 my father worked for the Nelsons of Sharrow Bay on the shores of Lake Ullswater. I was just 5 years old when we moved to Sharrow Bay, as I grew older I had a Saturday job to help in the big garden and sometimes the Nelson's home as well. One of the jobs at the Nelson's home was burning the rubbish in the central heating boiler. I enjoyed that particular chore, I used to sort through and find all manner of things, foreign stamps on envelopes and postcards from overseas, travel magazines and sometimes a prized National Geographic magazine. The Nelson's travelled a lot. T B Nelson, his wife called him Jay, was very, very rich and he had not held a job in his life, not that he couldn’t, he did'nt need to. He was a very shy and literate man, he had a large library and used have all new book issues sent to him and spent much of his time in his library reading. His wife Dorothy was on the other hand an outgoing and talkative person. I liked Mrs Nelson, she was always giving me little things in her fussy way and telling me things, sometimes of their trips abroad. They went abroad every English winter for the duration except during WW2, always a cruise ship.
I'm sure she used to put those foreign postcards and magazines out for burning deliberately to wet my appetite for the outside world when I used to think back later. Was that the start of my hankering to travel and eventually go to sea as a Radio Officer? I think it was. I still hanker to travel, even now when I read travel magazines and if I was rich, I too like the Nelson's would shut up the house and travel overseas every winter.

8 October 2002


OldEric says (:-} Yes, Yemen is in the news at present. I remember Yemen for other things. When I was a young Merchant Navy Radio Officer on my first trip to sea and just in my late teens we called in at the port of Aden to discharge a small amount of cargo and take on bunkers (refuel) we were on our way to the ports of East Africa . We anchored in the small enclosed harbour which was surrounded with large, almost menacing black volcanic cliffs and the small township was perched on a narrow ledge-like strip on the edge of the cliffs. The black cliffs and the sparkling blue water gave the place an almost exotic feel, especially with the colouful bum-boats circling the ship. The ship I was on, the SS Modasa as well as cargo carried 200 passengers. The bum-boats rowed out from the township carring all manner of goods, veritable floating shops, were very popular with everyone. I had to buy something and my eyes settled on a large wall or throw rug with a deer scene woven on it. Just the thing I though and I bought the rug. It was the first item I had bought with my new income and I felt pleased with this first purchase. After the trip was over I took the rug home and gave it to my parents, the first real present I was able to afford. I suppose it was a small thank you for the struggle they had to send me to study for 2 years at South Shields Marine College.
After the death of my mother and the family home was broken up my father gave me the rug and we brought it to New Zealand with us. For many years the rug covered our dining table until it was old, worn and faded. Sometimes I would look at the rug on our dining room table, remember my parents with affection and think of my first visit to Aden. This morning as I write this my eyes mist and I feel sad and drained. The title of this piece shold have been "the rug and my parents".

4 October 2002

Ullswater: My Friend Peter.
Peter Embley was my friend, he was my first friend. I would be about 8 when I met him. Where we lived on Ullswater there were not many children and those that lived in the area, were not of my age. One day a boy was brought down to our house to met me and introduced as Peter. We stood there silently, looking at each other I remember, he said nothing, nor did I. We were sent outside to play and we still said nothing to each other, he probably feeling, what am I doing here kind of feel, as did I.
I later learned that he, his mother and sister Pam had come to live at Crook-a-dyke nearby, evacuee's from the WW2 bombing of  Newcastle. His father was a merchant navy captain and was at sea for most of WW2. As time progressed we became firm and close friends, our interests were similar.

We fished, we roamed the fells... we knew every crag and cranny, we hired Dicky Lowis's rowboat when we had a spare sixpence. We made dams in the beck, moats and canals in the swampy, muddy places, we hunted for birds nests, took an egg and blew it for our collections, if we did not have that kind. We knew where the butterflies laid their eggs and used to take caterpillars home and feed them until they formed a chrysalis and waited patiently until they hatched, dried their wings and flew away. Life was good to us, not a care in the world, we lived in the middle of nature and we learnt nature's secret ways. I don't often think of those far off days now, but when I do, I feel lucky and a surge of pleasure flows through me.

3 October 2002

A Day Off

OldEric says :-) Today we close the workshop for the day. We are going to the Hamilton Home and Garden Show, a once a year Expo affair. We always go each year. I will turn the "Yes, we are Open" sign over so it shows "Sorry we are Closed". Just like the “Gone fishing” sign. Now that we have moved the workshop up home most customers phone first before calling, but there is always one or two who don't. The weather is forecast good so it should be enjoyable. The Expo is both inside and out. I suppose as usual there will be lots of outdoor furniture on show with our NZ summer just round the corner. This year we do not intend to buy anything, but who knows. Last year, we were on the lookout for items for our new white limestone chip pebble garden. We brought home two large Tufa pebble dash containers and a Tufa bird bath and ordered a further Tufa pot to match the bird bath. All custom pieces and expensive. Plus a lot of small items and give-aways.

1 October 2002

The Birds

OldEric says :-) As I look out of the window I notice the bread I had thrown on to the back lawn this morning has now gone. The birds had cleaned it all up. The sparrows, white eyes, blackbirds and thrushes, chaffinches sometimes starlings come and feed. We have many British birds released in NZ. We also have Indian Mina birds come around, these are the bullies of the bird world and I chase those. The nesting birds are feeding young and the seed eaters, although it is Spring find seeding plants hard to find yet . Any bread left over is devoured during the night by hedgehogs, another imported species. Hedgehogs don’t hibernate here in NZ as they do in Britain.
My Life Story

OldEric says :-) This morning whilst working, I though I might use my blog to write bite sized pieces of my life as well as other "things". I dug out a 'how to"book I bought some years ago which was recommended to me by a genealogy organization and will re-read it. The bites will not be in any chronological order but I shall give them meaningful titles so they can be sorted later. I remember the author of the "how to" book suggesting the bites idea for writing personal lifestories. He suggested, pick a topic which was important in your life and just write, any period, then collate them all together. This particular author taught practical writing to beginners for many years and all his ideas were honed on practical application.
Will I finish my life my book? I do'nt know, but if I write something it is better than nothing, so I will write something; when I get the yen to do so. If as planned, I close my business at the end of the 2004 financial year I shall have more time on my hands to write. I'm beginning to look forward to my retirement.