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  • All about Gertrude

    Gertrude is the name we decided to call my cancerous breast hence the title of this blog. Although I had to keep my breast through chemo and radiation due to the nature of IBC - once it 'blew up' it no longer looked like my breast and I couldn't wait to get rid of it. Calling it Gertrude was a way of seperating it from myself. This main page is where I write about the general goings on that relate to Gertrude, there is another page that are more a diary of treatments etc This blog is a public blog so although I am being very honest about my battle with Gertrude I have "changed names to protect the innocent" - because everyone can see it if you write comments on the blog pages please use the same abbreviations for other family member or friends that I do. Please feel free to ask questions if you want clarification because then other people who might have been wondering the same thing can read your question and our answers.
  • Abbreviations

    OH- Other Half (Hubby), OD- Oldest Daughter, MD- Middle Daugher, YD- Youngest Daughter, SB- soulja boi MD's fiance in the army (now ex fiance), OD's R OD's partner, BS- Breast surgeon whose initials just happen to be BS as well, BC- our GP (family doctor), Dr H- my medical oncologist, all other friends family etc will be referred to as initials etc
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A break away

the mouth to Tutukaka harbour

The week before I started Chemo – we managed to get away again to one of my favourite places  for rest and relaxation.  What I love about this place is that where ever you are you have gorgeous views to look at

Even when I was having a nap upstairs I could look out and see the water

view from upstairs

or while I am having lunch

view from downstairs

 

and then when I have enough energy I can walk down the steps on the  harbour side of the motel  to this gorgeous beach

and have a little swim and snorkel 

Gold Coast Holiday

gorgeous view from our holiday apartment

I must admit we got very lucky with our holiday apartment.  We had booked a 7day discounted family accomodation package and although we knew the apartment was right on the beach I was sure for the discount price we would get one of the units without a good view.  Imagine my surprise when on arriving we got told we were on the 32nd floor with views of both the beach and inland

view inland from Surfers Paradise

being so high up was a little challenging for YD but we quickly set boundaries as in ‘no taking anything out onto the balcony’ and such like.  With the height also came a lack of traffic noise and all we heard most of the time was the noise of the waves.

We had fun at all three themeparks but it was quite overwhelming for YD so we were kept busy with her although a few meltdowns were unavoidable.  She also wanted to go shopping but so many new shops, different money etc also was confusing for her.  I think we all came home a little more tired than when we went.  She did enjoy herself overall so thats all that counts and is already planning to go back again – or so she says.

feeding the Kangaroos at Dreamworld

YDs excellent photo of tiger shaking off water after being in the pool - Australia Zoo

Dolphin show - Seaworld

We managed to have wonderfully sunny weather the whole time we were there.

I managed two mornings on the beach, but due to time constraints switched to swimming  the remaining mornings.  I would do several laps freestyle of the small indoor pool YD joined me in that pool until she discovered the spa pools and from then on she would have a spa while I did my laps.  Pampered young miss!!  🙂

I managed to meet up with my sister and niece the first night we were there and see family friends M, R, and L on the Saturday and also catch up for a coffee on Monday with my IBC internet friend P – we could have talked for hours, but we had left MD looking after YD and P also neede to get back to her kids.

We definitely achieved what we wanted to on this trip but next time I think I need a little less hectic holiday.

It’s not my holiday

The holiday I am going on next week is a very important one.  It has been two years since we first came up with the plan and because of treatments and other time constraints we couldn’t do it until now.  I have pushed my oncologists to allow me to take this trip but it is not ‘my’ holiday.  It is YD’s.  She wanted to go to Dreamworld and she wanted Mummy to be the one that took her.  Because of her autistic tendencies , as far as she was concerned it wasnt going to happen unless Mummy was coming with her.  So we have made it happen,  OH and MD are coming to do a lot of the actual looking after her at the theme parks(Dreamworld, Seaworld and Australia Zoo – MD will go on a lot of the rides with her) because I know I will just not be able to keep up with her.

With the amount of fatigue I am feeling I am worried about how fast, or not, it will wear off on my week off xeloda.  People have been advising me I can hire wheelchairs and/or mobility scooters.  I really dont want to go down that route but I might have to – I really hate that thought!!  I will push myself because this is such an important holiday for YD but I am concerned about how I will handle it.

The  things I want to do for myself on this holiday are meet up with P another IBC lady,  see my sister and niece and meet up with old family friends who used to live down the road from us.  I also hope to have a few minutes each day to myself to swim in the apartments indoor heated pool to get my exercise/fitness back up.  With the issues with the xeloda side effects on my feet there are not a lot of other exercise options.  I also want to spend a few minutes each day alone on the beach where I can just sit and breath in and out.  I doubt the beach will be deserted but by alone I mean without anyone I know.  Hopefully OH and I will get a chance to do a few things by ourselves if we leave YD with MD but it is very dependant on YD’s behaviour.  She is so excited about this trip but I am so aware that that excitement can turn, very easily,  to over-stimulation,  and overwhelm her.

This holiday is going to be hard work for the rest of us, but if we can pull it off and give YD the holiday of  a lifetime it will be worth it.

Living vicariously

First a little background – my old school friend ‘the MRD’ has recently relocated from Melbourne to London. He lives in inner London and has commented that reading my blogs and seeing my pictures of the New Zealand countryside and beaches on my blog made him miss being here, and as he wrote, I made him buy a car so they could get away for weekends in the English countryside.  “I am blaming you when M asks why we are spending thousands on a car that will only be used a few times a year; you are my scapegoat!”  He started sending me pictures and I told him I was keeping them in a folder named ‘vicarious England trips’  After reading my latest blog on what I had achieved lately I then got this email which he has given me permission to use on my blog – please enjoy my vicarious holiday in Cornwall as much as I did

Dear J, How could you forget your other Easter achievement – your vicarious holiday in Cornwall! You had such a great time but did find it a bit exhausting (you need to learn to pace yourself a bit more). It was quite a long drive down there (6 hours) but through quite picturesque countryside. It was quite surprising to see Stonehenge just sitting in a field next to the road but by that time you just wanted to get to Cornwall so just looked from the car (fortunately there was a bit of a traffic jam there so you could slow down to look). Why did you forget to take a photo? Oh well, like a true tourist you did manage to get lots of photos of the seaside village of Polperro where you stayed which felt just like a film-set for a Disney pirate movie. Yes, there were even real smugglers caves. You also enjoyed one of the local pubs and several of the local restaurants where dogs were welcomed. The pub had a sign welcoming dogs ‘with big spending owners’ but warned that all children needed a leash however. (tourist humour) 

On the first day you visited a very lovely historic house called Cotehele largely built between 1485 & 1560 for the Edgecumbe family but your camera later malfunctioned so you cannot yet access the photos off the memory disk (needs to go to camera-hospital). You will have to wait for those. The gardens were particularly spectacular with views out over a gorgeous valley. The Edgcumbe family later abandoned this house however to build an even larger and grander one nearby but you didn’t get time to visit that one – maybe another time.

 

You then went to Antony House where the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party scenes from the recent Alice in Wonderland movie were filmed. The house was built mainly in the 1700’s in very spectacular grounds looking down to the Tamar river. 
 

Anthony House grounds

The next day you went to the Eden Project which consists of some bio-domes built in an old quarry to promote environmentalism. You were quite disappointed however (sorry about that) as they really weren’t that exciting inside. Just large glasshouses really. You quickly left there regretting the 20 pounds entry fee – I want that back by the way) and went to the intriguingly titled Lost Gardens of Heligan which were much more interesting. These gardens had been established in the 1600s and maintained for almost 400 years but became neglected and overgrown after the world wars but were resurrected in the 1990s. They interestingly include a New Zealand garden section as well as a ‘jungle valley’. You did have very sore legs and tired feet after trudging up and down steep ‘jungle’ paths. 
 

Lost Gardens of Heligan

On Easter Sunday you drove down to the seaside town of St Ives near the bottom of Cornwall. It was a very hot day and there were lots of mad English-people crowded on the foreshore. You did manage to have a lovely rhubarb/custard ice-cream (or did you have the blackcurrant and cream one?) as well as a real Cornish pastie for lunch. You then drove through Penzance (no pirates on the beach) to Mousehole (no really! Pronounced mousehall); lots of tacky souvenirs there but you managed to resist them all. You then drove down to Landsend to see the very end of the island – not very exciting but something to say that you have done (like visiting Stewart Island). 
 

Lands End


On Monday you drove back to London along with thousands of others but you took the quicker route via the M4 and M5 which only took 5 hours in spite of the traffic. I hope you enjoyed your holiday! The photo may need to be spread over several emails due to their size. Polperro photos with this email.


Much love,


Your tired travelling companion!

I think I would have definitely tried the rhubarb and custard icecream. LOL!

I have to admit I quite like this idea of vicarious travel.  I think I might go on a vicarious sushi lunch date in Maryland with @Xtremeparnthood next? 

25…26…27…made it!

 

OH and I celebrated 27 years of marriage on the 3rd of March.  Yes, I married young, just a couple of months after my 21st birthday LOL.  27 years ago we sure didn’t imagine our lives would be where they are now, but we are still here – together.

We honeymooned all those years ago in a lovely part of New Zealand called Tutukaka at a motel that is out on a headland so the views are spectacular and it was always my goal to spend one of our wedding anniversaries back there.  While the kids were growing up and YD was at home it wasn’t so much of a priority but when she had left home and I realised our 25th wedding anniversary was coming up I thought it would be an ideal time to go.

Unfortunately ‘Gertrude’ intervened – in March 2009 I was nearing the end of radiation treatment my skin was extremely raw from radiation as they had targetted it as well as underlying tissue due to the IBC cancer cells being in my skin as well.  I was also having still having trouble with my ongoing portacath site infection. Not condusive to planning a trip

March 2010 – our 26th wedding aniversary.  I had just started uni and I was also having problems with my white blood cell count being low from the weekly vinorelbine chemo treatments.  Again we decided it would be a little to risky to go away (especially with my history of hospital admissions).

March 2011 – we made it!!

We didnt get to stay in the same unit but we both think the unit we stayed in this time was even better than the last time –  this unit had the lounge downstairs and bedroom upstairs with balcony – what a way to start the day with breakfast on the balcony

the view at breakfast

The atmosphere is just so relaxing there – the only rush hour traffic is the fishing and diving boats returning to the harbour from their trips out to the Poor Knights and other islands

rush hour LOL

I even managed to walk the steep path down to the sheltered harbour beach – my fitness at the moment seems to be getting worse rather than better – admittedly I haven’t kept up my New Years resolution of trying to walk every night.  But since Uni started I am trying to increase my incidental exercise.

sheltered harbour beach

heading back up from the beach
I think I can make it…
And I did and the effort was worth it. 
OH and I have decided we are definitely not letting another 27 years or even 27 months go by before we go back there again.  As I have said over and over again in this blog being by the sea restores my spirit and I have to remember to not get so caught up with everyday life that I forget I need that.

The C in Canterbury stands for…

Christchurch:  the day after I arrived  MD drove me into the central city.  Although not as close to the epicentre of the main quake as some areas of Canterbury, the central city suffered through closer aftershocks and because of the combination of old building and unstable foundations some of the citys older style buildings were badly damaged.  Down every main street there was buildings dotted here and there with scaffolding around them or in the worse case scenario had already been demolished.  What struck me was the seeming randomness of the damage – one building would be condemned while the one next to it of similar vintage would be fine.  Others would look fine from the vantage point of one street then you would turn the corner and see major damage to the roof or walls.  It was quite sad to see the landscapes of streets that I had walked or driven down changed forever by the quake. 

scaffolding round a building

a fence round another building - note the sign

Clearing out: Thursday and Friday were mainly spent helping MD sort out what she was keeping and what she was chucking away and starting to pack it in boxes for the move. 

Cuisine, Culture and Coleridge:  I spent the weekend with Bro and we had a really lovely time .  We went to the Lyttleton Farmers Market on Saturday morning. Lots of very yummy food.  Then in the afternoon Niece B and I went to the Christchurch  Art Gallery where there was a Ron Muerk exhibition. 

On Sunday Bro and his wife took me for a drive up by Mt Hutt and the Rakaia River.  Approximately only an hour across the Canterbury Plains this is where you start being in amongst the ‘foothills’ of the Southern Alps. We stopped in the Rakaia gorge for a picnic lunch then drove up to Lake Coleridge Lodge for coffee – Bro has made friends with the owners here of the converted hostel for the power station which is now the lovely Lake Coleridge Lodge.  I feel I too made new friends that day and will definitely be back to stay with OH

Looking down the Rakaia River over the plains

Rakaia Gorge where we had lunch

Looking upstream from the gorge

view from the Lodge

over the hill behind the lodge ... the lake

absolutely gorgeous

Definitely coming back here!!!

Cleaning:  Monday and Tuesday were spent more clearing and cleaning with MD. The removal van arrived Tuesday morning to get all the furniture etc. 

Crash:  MD and I had ducked out to Rolleston for lunch after the removal van left and had the misfortune to travel behind a truck which had a loose piece of metal that flew off and hit MDs windscreen.  It was some sort of cylinder approx 6-8 inches round and about 4-5 inches deep  – sort of looked like some sort of filter.  It gave both her and I a hell of a fright as it struck the windscreen and if it hadnt been for the fact the point of impact was right where the rearview mirror is attached to the windscreen the whole windscreen would have shattered.  So dealing with insurance and getting it repaired got added to MDs already stressful list of things to do before she drove back.

cracked windscreen

I flew home on Wednesday afternoon with Halo (MDs shitzu/poodle cross)

My sojourn to the South Island

I think everyone should do the scenic train trips at least once – I thoroughly enjoyed them!!

I left our local suburban Auckland Station at 8.15 in the morning on the ‘Overlander’ for the 11 hour trip to Wellington

Some of the views were spectacular especially in areas where the rail went over viaducts above rivers etc

on the viaduct high over one river

Although it was a long day it didnt feel like the train trip was 11 hours long.  There was a half-hour stop at National Park on the Central Plateau where you could get something to eat from the very nice cafe at the station or you could just got for a walk, breathing the mountain air .  It was a pity the cloud was low

Mt Ruapehu obscured by cloud

otherwise I could have got a spectacular view of Mt Ruapehu

I had a double seat all to myself so had plenty of room to move and the leg room is also a vast improvement on airplane economy seating.  The fact you could get up and walk around the train – the buffet car did a good coffee – also helped break the journey up.

One of the refreshments available from the buffet car

On arrival into Wellington I had the choice of getting a taxi or walking to my accommodation which they said was only 5 minutes walk. Both my bags had wheels so pulling the small carryon one with my right arm (the lymphodema affected one) and my large suitcase with my left I decided to walk as it was still light and good weather.  Pulling the suitcases and not being 100% certain of the street layout it took me closer to 10 minutes but it took me up past the ‘Beehive’ and then it was two minutes around the corner from there (not sure whether that is a good thing LOL).

I spent the Monday being a sightseer.  I have not been to Wellington on holiday for a very long time so it was interesting just spending the day there. I visited the iconic department store ‘Kirkcaldie and Stains’, rode the cablecar and visited the  sanctuary for New Zealand native wildlife (Zealandia) as well as wandering around central Wellington and along the waterfront.  My twitter friend Upsidebackwards had kindly left some vouchers at the reception of where I was staying for me to get some discounted or free rides.  Which made the day even more enjoyable (thank you!!!)

cable car

tui beside the path at Zealandia

City to Sea bridge on waterfront - art and functionality in one

The next day (Tuesday) I caught the ferry – I indulged myself and upgraded to Kaitaki Plus which gives you a seat in a spacious comfy lounge  -free food and drink and internet access.  Hot breakfast, pastries, sandwiches and cookies along with tea coffee wine etc – thoroughly worth the extra $40 if you have got it.  You can go out and wander round the deck and know you have a seat to come back to.

enjoying my complimentary magazine 🙂

Entering the Marlborough sounds

I spent the night at my cousins house (thanks J)

On Wednesday I caught the ‘Tranzcoastal’ between Picton and Christchurch. It doesnt leave until 1pm in the afternoon so I spent the morning in the waterfront park with a book and great views

sitting in the park

the coast near Kaikoura

hills on the other side of the track

views of river and ranges

This has been only a small selection of the wonderful views I saw on the way down to Christchurch.   It was a wonderfully relaxing way to get myself down there and I really enjoyed all four days of the trip.  Of course I then spent a week in Christchurch and environs itself.  But I’ll have to write another blog post about that 🙂

Destinations

A few weeks ago I was planning to have a nice peaceful break after finishing  uni , having some rest and relax time and part of that with was going to be spending a week or two in Christchurch with MD.

Due to the news that I told you about in ‘Disconnection’ that isn’t going to happen quite the way we planned.  I am still heading for Christchurch but now it is to help MD pack up her house and move back up to live with us.  Not so relaxing LOL.   To give me some relax time I decided rather than fly down I would take the Tranzscenic train routes.   So the plan is that I catch the “Overlander” train tomorrow morning at our local train station and travel down to Wellington.  (Thanks UpsideBackwards for being my Wellington “uofficial tourism guide” and answering my queries) . I arrive in Wellington tomorrow evening and have got a place to stay only 5 minutes walk from the train station.  I stay one full day (two nights) there, then catch the ferry across to the South Island.  I stay Tuesday night with my cousin J2 and then take the “Tranzcoastal” train from Picton to Christchurch.  I’m spending approximately a week in Christchurch and then flying home with Halo (MD’s dog) to be back just in time for my next Herceptin treatment.

Most of MD’s household stuff will be loaded on a furniture moving truck the day before I leave.  MD will drive her car back up with her friends over the course of 3 days the following weekend.

I’m taking my laptop and will have internet access (via Tstick mobile broadband) while I am gone so look for blog updates and tweets letting you know of my adventures

Samoa holiday – Days 9 -12 – Upolu

Day 9 Lalomalava, Savaii – Salamumu, Upolu

We left Lalomalava quite early 9.30am – the ferry wasnt until 12 and headed for Salelologa – we filled up with petrol as we knew there were no petrol stations on the route we were taking to the south coast once we hopped off the ferry.  We went to the new markets on the loop road at Salelologa and bought a bowl, lavalava and a pawpaw.  We went to another shop by the wharf and bought a table runner with Samoan designed fabric. Then we lined up for the ferry – it wasn’t as clear where to do this as at Mulifanua wharf so we hoped we had parked in the right place – we still had a while to wait so we popped over the road to get a drink instead of just sitting in the car waiting.  I chose a banana flavoured soft drink just to try something different – a little bit sweet but still thirst quenching.  Although we were 3rd in line we were 1st on board again.  This time it was the driver’s side against the side of the boat but the only way I could gt out my side was for the sliding door of the van next to us being open and me opening my door into that gap and squeezing out.  I climbed back into our car by squeezing in rear passengers door on driver’s side and climbing over the seats to get back to my front passenger seat.  The swell was less than the first crossing only 1/2 to 1 metre but the ferry was rolling more so it must have been the way we caught the swell – still not seasick thank goodness!

When we hopped off ferry we headed down the west coast road – it was very pretty driving – going up over the hills between Faelatai and Savaia was particularly lovely and showed a different aspect to Samoa – it was a bit of a surprise to have to cross a reasonably deep running ford at Faleaseela.  Navigating around Samoa is quite hard because sometimes the names on the map differ from the signposts and turnoffs and road names are not marked clearly.  I was in charge of navigation for the whole trip – OH  just drove and turned or stopped when I told him to and I tried to warn him ahead of time when such a turn would be but we overshot them sometimes.

Thankfully the turnoff for Salamumu and the Sa’Moana resort was clearly marked and we arrived about 3.30pm.  Sa’moana is a very good-looking resort.  The Frangipani fales that we stayed in have showers outside with rocks walls with creepers and ferns growing on them.  We had a swim in the saltwater swimming pool and a shower before cocktails and dinner.  Dinner was Samoan buffet of whole pig, chicken, taro breadfruit and salads.  After dinner we played pool and although I havent played for close to 30 years OH was surprised how tight the games were.

Day 10

We had hoped to snorkel at high tide this morning but the sea was very choppy even inside the reef because the weather was raining and high winds – we had leisurely breakfast then decided even though the weather wasn’t great to drive down the south coast.  We managed to get breaks in the weather to see Sopoaga Falls from the gardens overlooking them. 5 Tala entry fee was worth it as it also had drum and cooking display and plant names in Samoan, English and Latin (botanical).  We also got a break in the weather at To Sua Ocean trench.  spectacular holes in the ground, see my album for pictures.  Holes joined by underwater passages to the sea – if you are adventurous (we weren’t that day) you can climb down ladder and swim between them.

Drove down to Lalomanu at far eastern end of the south coast – It was the eastern section of the south coast that bore the brunt of the tsunami in September 2009 and it was obvious that there was still a lot of rebuilding to be done. You can still see the destruction caused by the tsunami, the areas have a scoured clean look to them and even things still standing show signs of the damage caused.  There used to be beach Fales all along that stretch of coast but only 3 outfits have rebuilt with another being built at the moment – the rest of the coast is bare.  We stopped for lunch at Taufua Beach Fales’ restaurant – one of two groups of fales rebuilt at the far end of Lalomanu.

When we arrived back to Sa’moana we played another couple of games of pool – then cocktails and dinner again – a la carte menu this time.  At Sa’moana you need to be aware that they don’t like you self catering even drinks,snacks etc. You need to use their bar/restaurant for all your needs – it is quite good food though.

Day 11 Salamumu – Apia

We snorkelled before breakfast in slightly choppy lagoon – definitely calmer than yesterday though.  Unfortunately I swallowed some saltwater early on which developed a tickle in my throat which spoilt enjoyment somewhat – the coral and fish populations slightly different to the underwater scene at Fagamalo.. the tide was still incoming and there were lava rocks as you were coming into the beach – too shallow to swim over. As I went to stand up the incoming tide pushed my foot still in the flipper into a rock – unfortunately the flipper folded under and my big toenail caught on the rock and got completely folded back to the base (it was suffering dieback due to chemo to about 1/2 way but the rest was still attached prior to this incident).  I managed to hobble to shore and wait for OH to come in – trying very hard not to cry with the pain.  When OH came into shore he noticed straight away the slight graze on my knee and thought that is what I was referring to as I pointed downwards and said look what I’ve done.  When I pointed out I was actually pointing at my toe he was surprised I had waited so patiently when he saw what damage I had done.  When we got back to the fale he got out our little first aid kit and managed to push it back to flat after cutting it off about half way down and hold it in place with band-aids.  The codeine tablets I had packed came in very useful for the pain. 

We had breakfast and left after having quick chat to Sa’moana’s new onsite manager T who just happened to be ex St Stephens school boy from Bombay and NZ Steel refractories – we all thought it was very small world that on his first days on the job one of the guests would have been someone from the same locale/work as him.

We headed off up the middle Cross Island Road and stopped at Papapapai-tai falls lookout –  a very tall waterfall into a gorge – unfortunately it was raining with low cloud so we didn’t get the full effect.  Once we got to north side of island the weather was wonderful – the rain clouds had obviously stacked up along the south side of the mountains as the prevalent wind is a south-easterly.

We reached Apia and turned East along the Main East Coast  Rd stopping just out of Apia at Letogo on the side of the road in the grass by the water to eat our lunch of pawpaw, peanuts and potato chips.  We had picked up pawpaw at Salelologa markets and got T at Sa’moana to cut it up into slices for us so we could eat it for lunch easily.  ginger ale as a drink and my beach towel to sit on made for a pleasant picnic.  We carried on around to Piula Cave pool which was a little different from what I had expected – I had expected to go down into a cave to the pool but the pool starts in the open and goes into a cave.

We then drove halfway through Le Mafa Pass. The mountains at this Eastern end are quite dramatic – knife-edge jagged and rugged and look quite spectacular.  We turned up the road that leads to the Eastern side of Fagaloa Bay where T (of T&T that we had met at Savaii Lagoon Resort ) was born.  That it was a narrow winding road is understating the case – the road although marked with two lanes is in most places definitely closer to one lane clinging to the side of the mountain but we were rewarded for OH’s white-knuckled driving with spectacular views at the lookout both down into Fagaloa bay and back down the valley we had just driven up.  After stopping at Falefa Falls on the way home we drove back to Apia hoping to catch the carwash still open – but it was shut when we got back at 4pm so the rental car company is just going  to get their car back quite dusty and sandy (the roads although mostly sealed  have a few potholes and the car has got quite grubby over the time we have had it)

We arrived at Aggie Grey’s hotel and OH unloaded the car as by this time my toe was throbbing a lot.  We were on the 3rd floor of the main (front) building facing the garden and pool area.  After taking some painkillers and settling in to our room we did a little exploring and decided to watch the sunset from the cocktail lounge – yes , cocktails do work as painkillers too LOL.

Of the restaurant options at Aggies we decided the seafood buffet at the ‘Old Fale’ was the best option.  Great selection of seafood and other meats and salads although the dessert bar was a little let down by its fruit salad being mainly canned fruit. 

I went to sleep very easily due to the combination of Cocktails and painkillers but I had set OH’s alarm on his phone to wake us up at 7.30 am so we could pack our suitcases properly for the flight home but I forgot his phone was still on NZ time which was 23 hours ahead or 1 hour behind depending on how you look at things

Day 12 Apia – home?

Despite waking up later than intended packing didn’t take us as long as we thought it would,  so we were on time to have breakfast at the buffet in the ‘Old Fale’ .  We had a leisurely breakfast then a final wander around Aggies looking at the historic photos on the walls. 

After we checked out we explored a few streets of Apia that we hadn’t been down before and found Farmer Joes, a more western style supermarket than the ones we had gone to on Beach Rd and just down the road from that Marketi Fou where we picked up last-minute souvenirs for the girls and had a look around.  Half the stalls were shut with it being a Sunday morning and so was most of Apia.  Because my toe was still throbbing a lot we didn’t want to do a great deal of activity so ended up back at Aggies at the coffee lounge to kill a couple of hours – we had a couple of snacks and read and as it wasnt busy they didn’t mind us staying.  later on we drove along to the end of Mulinuu point and just sat on the seawall for a while – we saw the same kite-surfers we had seen at Lalomanu a couple of days before so spent a bit of time watching them. But we also saw a school of smaller fish being hunted by some predator fish which was quite interesting to watch – the small fish were herded into a circle and you could tell where it was and track it across the lagoon by the ‘boiling’ motion of the water – every so often the circle would get so tight the smaller fish would actually jump  out of the water.  We probably spent an hour or so just watching the sea from the seawall. 

We headed for the airport slightly early and soon after we arrived we got a call on OH’s cellphone saying our flight was delayed 4 hours – originally leaving at 8pm Samoan time it wasnt going to be leaving til after midnight.  As we had arranged to meet the car rental people at the airport at 6.15 we were sort of stuck at the airport now.  And so began what I call the comedy of errors that was our trip home. 

Unbeknownst to us another passenger on the same flight had been in touch with the rental car company to say the flight was leaving late so they had assumed we would want our car later as well – unfortunately we were already at the airport waiting for them and didn’t know this.  So after waiting til 7-15 for them to show up we rung only to be told this and that they wouldn’t be out until 8.30. (we didn’t have any option other than to stay at the airport unless we went all the way back into Apia for something to eat which is approx 40 minutes away). In the meantime we had checked our bags through – so we waited… an announcement came through that all passengers that had checked in should make their way through the departure lounge – we couldn’t until the car guy came so OH checked that we could go through when that had been sorted – no problem they said…when the rental car guy came he was amazed that we had managed to rack up 630 kms in a week – but we had basically circumnavigated both islands – he said maybe he should have left us with the black one because of all the exposure/advertising we would have given them… when that was all sorted we then went to complete our departure requirements to get to the departure lounge … went through the first desk where they stamped our boarding passes and sticker to show we had paid our departure tax and got told to wait at the next desk – the immigration desk for our passports to be stamped…..we waited for an hour at the immigration desk lucky OH found a plastic chair for me to set on so my toe didn’t start throbbing too much… one of the security guards suggested we leave our passports with him and go through to the lounge but we thought that was too risky, the immigration officer finally came to the desk when more people checked in for our flight at about 9.30pm… about 10pm or maybe a bit later OH and I were surprised to hear our names being paged – I’ve never had that happen in an airport before – they said that OH’s bag had been put aside because it needed a special tag on it to say that if it had a gun in it the gun had been inspected and made sure it was unloaded and it has to be carried separate to other luggage  The airport guy that paged us was the same guy that had checked us in and he had thought they had been mistaken (there was a shooting competition on in Samoa so some people were travelling back with gun cases) but he just wanted to recheck that we didn’t have a gun in our bags so that OHs suitcase was put back with the regular bags.  We reassured him there was no guns and he said he would sort it…the plane finally arrived, we got on 12.10am Mondayand we arrived back in New Zealand at about 3.40 am Tuesday morning (losing that day we had gained going there crossing over the international dateline)… guess whose bag didn’t appear on the carousel – OH’s was there but mine wasn’t… the baggage area guy realised that we were one of the last looking at this carousel and came over to help us.  He checked out the back and then just when we thought it had been left in Samoa, I mentioned the whole misunderstanding about the gun episode – he went off and checked and sure enough my suitcase was at the police counter where all the competition shooters were collecting their guns.  All we can think of is that when it went through the xray that someone mistook  a snorkel as a gun … finally got home and to bed at 5.20am

Holiday over – but OH and I are definitely hoping to make a return visit – Especially to Savaii

see my facebook album for these days here

Samoa holiday – Savaii – Days 4-8

Day 4 Apia – Fagamalo

We got up early and had breakfast by ourselves as the netball girls were still sleeping in.  We packed the car up and headed to the western end of Upolu to Mulifanua wharf to catch the ferry.  We got there a little early but it was a nice day so it was enjoyable just to sit and watch the scenery etc.  The car was supposed to have the underside washed but the man doing it more just sprayed in the whaeel arches – this is supposed to stop the spread of the Giant African Snail to Savaii.  We were the first car on the boat and OH was a little worried about how close they wanted us to park to the side of the ferry – I could just get my door open wide enough to get out.  The passage accross was lovely I didn’t feel seasick at all – the swell was about 1-2 metres in the middle of the straight.  The highight was passing Apolima and seeing inside the crater where there is a small village and beach surrounded by a sheer outer wall volcanic cone rim.  We arrived in Salelologa at 11.30 and picked up an adapter from the small electronics store there for me to be able to charge my camera.  We drove up the coast to lalomalava and stopped at the Savaiian Hotel for lunch that took at least an hour at their restaurant overlooking the sea – service was good food was slow but view made up for the wait somewhat – although it will be better when they have finished building up the seawall and the grass is reestablished but the view over the reef to Apolima and Manono Islands and to the other main island of Upolu was fantastic. 

 Savaii has very lush vegetation and driving up the coast through the villages was really lovely and the fales on the beach at Si’ufaga and Lanolooked just the places for an afternoon siesta.  We started to see more horses, chickens and pigs along the roadside.  We stopped at the Saleaula lava fields and walked out onto them just before the village – even though the lava flow is only 100 years old there are trees already well established in some parts of the lava field.  You understand the full force of the lava standing in the ruins of the LDS church where the lava flowed around the church and then flowed back in through the main doors that faced away from the mountain, towards the sea. there is a huge tree that has grown inside the church just in the last 100 years. 

We arrived up at Savaii Lagoon Resort and checked in.  Christoph greeted us – he and his partner Patricia manage the resort but he has also established a restaurant and Patricia does massage and reflexology that they run as their own businesses that run alongside the resort facilities.  Before dinner we went down to the beach and paddled in the water – there are little fishes right up to the waters edge.  The beach here is beautiful and I think we are going to love the 5 second stroll from our bugalow – it is the only one not on the beachfront but we have a view from our window through to the beach and a table and chairs set up outside looking straight down the path.  Oh thinks he will be able to drink plenty of Vailima and relax there.  Just before dinner we watched the sunset – it didn’t photograph as pretty as it looked. 

Met T and T over dinner and Christoph came over to talk to us as we were finishing our dinner. He has amazing respect for Samoa and its environment and had wanted to open a lodge for people travelling up Mt Silisili (the largest mountain on Savaii), but getting the agreement of all the Matai (chiefs ) concerned at the planning stages proved a little difficult so he and Patricia are here at the resort for a 5 year contract.  We didn’t finish chatting until 11pm.

Day 5

We set the alarm so we would wake up early enough to have a snorkel before breakfast.  You cant snorkel at low tide at the resort as the coral is too close to the surface then.  My breating went a little funny when I tried to snorkel – out of practise as havent done it for  a year – so I didnt snorkel as long as OH

Breakfast was fresh fruit, poached eggs on toast (with bacon for me) and lovely coffee.  I also tried a mint tea that was very refreshing.  When we came back toour room  we got talking to the cleaner, Nellie – who looks about 18 years old but is actually 27, and she will come back when she finishes work and take us to her village to visit the Peapea caves.  Rain went through in squalls all day so spent the day writing up my diary entries and reading – sometimes sitting on the beach and sometimes lying on the bed in the bungalow.  At 3 Nellie came to get us and we drove down to Letui village approx 20 mins from Fagamalo.  On the way Nellie pointed out other tourist attractions and points of interest and told us what the different trees were.  Peapea cave is a lava tube that is home to swiftlets and bats – we were surprised to learn that the swiftlets use echolocation (clicks) to find their way in the dark of the cave.  They have their tiny nests in the little nooks and crannies of the cave.

We went to Le Lagota, the resort next door, for tea as Christoph and Patricia have Sunday nights off.  They joined all the other guests on the beach to watch the sunset.  The resorts beach faces west so we get some great sunsets over the sea.  Le Lagota does a BBQ for dinner on Sundays.  Meat was a little overcooked but salads etc were very nice.  I didn’t manage to meet up with Sara  the owner of Le lagota who is N’s(my friend from Uni) relative but did have the cocktail that was named for her – it was delicious.  We had an earlier night 9.30pm and slept like a log

Day 6

Just had the tropical breakfast today – fresh fruit platter, toast etc and tried the cocoa samoa, (samoan version of hot chocolate)

We snorkelled in the morning for about an hour  or so. – I got my breathing right this time . The current goes from right to left along the beach so to conserve energy we swam out at northern end of beach and I allowed myself to drift down the beach.  Even close to the beach the coral and fish are plentiful.  There is an inner and outer reef and so far we have just snorkelled the inner reef.  Dive Savaii who are based just over the road from the resort,(run by a frenchman -quite a European enclave here -Christoph and Patricia are German), can take you out further but we havent bothered as there is plenty to see on the inner reef.

Nellie had dropped of 2 coconuts (1.50 Tala) – I managed to open the eyes of one using the corkscrew and drained 1 1/2 glasses of coconut milk- then I got Chris to crack it open and slice the flesh.  The flesh was softer than the mature coconuts we get in New Zealand.

I spent the rest of the morning reading on the beach – the rain still coming through in the odd squall.  Next door to the resort is Sekia pizza operated by an Austrian guy married to a Samoan woman. We had it for lunch – wonderful flavourful pizzas with a thin crispy base.  After a small siesta we drove  to Mata’olealelo Spring at Safune approx ten minutes down the road.  This is a fresh water spring on the edge of a lagoon with quite a large volume of water coming out of the ground.It is the locale for the Samoan legend of  how the coconut came into being.  A quite heavy rain squall come through so we decided against stopping at Dwarfs cave etc on the way back.  Despite the great nights sleep the previous night I was still very sleepy when we came back so had a small nap when we came back.  We watched the sunset again and OH tried to to take some photos of the crabs coming out to scavenge at dusk.

We liked the pizza so much we had it again for tea – this time one pizza each- and got a bottle fo wine from the resort so we could have pizza and wine in our bungalow. we knew we wouldnt eat a whole pizza each but thought it would make good leftovers for lunch the next day.

Day 7

I woke up several times during the night -but still woke feeling very refreshed but quite early (before 7 am).i got dressed and sat on the beach- not quite sunrise but got a little of the halflight of dawn and there wasn’t another soul on the beachfor a good 20 minutes. 

Snorkelled for about 1 1/2 hours then camme back and showered.  Opened second coconut and got 2 whole glasses of coconut milk out of it this time.  the young Samoan man opened it for us and the flesh inside this one was even softer and sweeter than yesterdays – it could be scooped out with a spoon.  OH decided he liked coconut this way – he’s not a big fan of mature coconut but he doesnt mind the coconut milk and flesh out of these very young coconuts.  Sat on beach to read and write diary and postcards – then had left over pizza for lunch along with coconut and pawpaw (T&T had picked up several pawpaw on the trip round the isaland the day before and gave us two which we were very grateful for.  In the afternoon we headed around to Manase to do emails and get cocktails at Raci’s Beach Club.  the same couple run both – the internet cafe by the service station and the cocktail bar on the beach.  From the bar you can look back across the bay to our resort. 

We went back to have a coffee and a snorkel just before sunset OH got out of the water before I did and managed to get the wonderful shot I posted last week.  Its my favourite photo of the whole holidays.  We did dinner at Christophs restaurant at the resort – had to different versions of the same fish – one panfried one poached in a fish pot – both were equally delicious.

Day 8 Fagamalo- Lalomalava

We were very sad to leave Savaii Lagoon Resort – its quite a magical place.  We exchanged contact details with T&T (who live in Howick).  Then I had a minor panic when I couldn’t find my new camera – was in my bag the whole time but had slipped behind other things. 

We drove west to Asau harbour and had a drink stop at the Vaisala Beach Hotel.  The hotel is a bit run down but has gorgeous views over Asau harbour and the reef.  We debated whether to go out to Falealupo – the most western aprt of the world (closest to the International dateline) but decided that the Alofa’aga blowholes were the priority for the day so drove down to the south coast of Savaii – we stopped at the bowholes and there was a large swarm of what looked like turquoise monarch butterflies going absolutely nuts over the fruit of one particular tree.  I wondered whether or not the fruit they seemed to be most attracted to, being brown, had fermented as they seemed to be quite ‘buzzed’ by whatever they were drinking.  The blowholes themselves, were very impressive and veryvery unpredictable which actual hole was going to blow at any given time so you can waste a lot of time, camera space trying to catch the big one.  As you head east from the blowholes along the souther coast there are spectacular cliffs and sea arches so we stopped to take some photos of the view along the cliffs. 

It was a very hot day and I was starting to get a headache so we decided against going to thte Puleilei Mound or the Afu A’au Falls. So we headed through Salelologa and up the coast to Lalomalava to stayat the Savaiian Hotel for the night in one of their garden fales – a bit basic but clean and comfortable, although you did need to watch the step down inot the bathroom – obviously added on out the back after the fale was built.

OH went for a wander around the garden while I had a rest before dinner and collected some frangipanni that had fallen on the ground.  and put them on the bed beside me – they smelt glorious but they started bringing on a touch of hayfever so I had to move them away from me. We had dinner at their restaurant and while we were waiting for the various courses OH amused himself by taking photos of all the geckos and spiders that were lying in wait for the insects that were drawn in by the restaurants lights.

Photos of days 4-8 can be found in my facebook album (of the same name) here

 

Samoa holiday – Apia – Days 1-3

Have decided I need to do this in installments other wise the blog post is going to be way too long

Day 1 – Auckland to Apia

I only slept two hours 2am – 3.45am before we headed for the airport.  We left Auckland at 7.05 am 24th June and arrived Faleolo airport 11.30am 23rd June (nothing like going backwards in time across the International date line).  It was 10° C when we left Auckland and we arrived to a very humid and sticky 31° C and the sky was quite overcast. 

Discovery Rentals (the rental car company) met us as soon as we walked out of Arrivals gate.  They greeted and introduced thiemselves and accompanied us to their office.  They were very apologetic that instead of the 2004 Hyundai Tucson they had booked us for, they had to give us the 2010 modelas the 2004 model wasnt available yet.  It didnt take us long to say it would be no problem especially as it wasn’t going to cost us anymore.  We booked into our hotel and were shown a rooom where we quickly got changed out of our wintery NZ clothes and then we decided to go out and explore central Apia , approximately a 5 minute drive from our hotel

We walked around the main streets of the centre of town which only cover a small area, and familiarised ourselves with where things like the Post Office, ATMs, restaurants (including  the only McD’s in Samoa – which YD was fixated on us taking a picture of it for her to see) and internet cafes were.  We drove up the western end of Apia harbour where the Fale Fono is (Samoan House of Parliament)and then drove to the Eastern side of the harbour and saw Aggie Greys hotel where we would be staying the last night in Samoa.  We went to the little supermarket on Beach Rd and stocked up on snack foods and bottled water and other drinks. and while OH walked back to the car with the groceries I walked down past the Samoan Tourism Authority and sat on the sea wall waiting for OH to catch up.  Unfortuntely this was when we realised that without me having a cellphone he couldnt find me.  I had said I would keep walking that way and he thought I meant I would only walk to the corner by the main roundabout so while I was sitting on the walll waiting for him he only came as far as the roundabout and  waited for me.  I ended up walking back the way I came to find him there.  We then decided we had done enough walking in the heat and headed back to the western side of the harbour and Mulinuu Point and went to Sails which is a restaurant on the seawall at the point, I had a cocktail called ‘Sails Sunset’ which I thought was very appropriately named for my first “island cocktail”  and OH had his first Vailima (Samoan beer).  We decided to stay for dinner there and catch the sunset – the sky had cleared a little during the afternoon.

Day 2  – Apia

It was raining when we woke up this morning, but cleared as we were getting ready to go down for breakfast.  Breakfast was served on an open air patio adjacent to the reception area.  We had the Samoan national netball team staying at the same hotel.  They had test matches versus South Africa while we were there.

When I walked out onto the balcony to take a picture my camera took foggy photos when it hit the humidity outside after being in air-conditioned room,  I also had the same problem with my glasses fogging up every time I got out of the airconditioned car until we turned the a/c up to 25°C and drove around with the windows open half the time.  After breakfast we went had a look around the flea market – lots of little craft stallsand bought some postcards and stamps so I could send a postcard to YD.  I had a lovely pineapple frappe at the Sydneyside Cafe and we had lunch at Roma cafe in the same little pedestrian mall by the US embassy. I bought a woven fan and lavalava and also stocked up on insect repellent and went back to the hotel for a small siesta.  I also realised that I hadn’t packed my bactroban ointment so am hoping for no infections while I’m away (can’t afford to get an infected scratch or bite on my IBC side).

The afternoon was spent driving around Vaitele, where my dad was born and grew up, trying to get lay of the land as it is no longer all plantation.  I got some nice camera shots up on the hills looking down towards the bay over Vaitele and surrounding villages.  Some cars driving past when I was taking pictures of a small coconut plantation just thought I was some silly palagi tourist taking pictures of random coconut trees but didnt realise I was trying to get a picture of what Vaitele would have looked like when my dad lived there. 

We went to Paddles for dinner -I think this is the best restaurant in Apia that we tried – owned by Italian/Samoan family.  Its on the eastern side of Apia harbour with gorgeous view of the sunset and lovely food and service – more cocktails for me of course and a gorgeously presented affogato for desert.

Day 3 – Apia

We thought we had woken up really late and almost missed breakfast as OH had misread his watch as 8.40 when it was only 7.40am.  After we had breakfast we headed for Vailima – Robert Louis Stevenson’s estate.  Our guide around the house was Margaret whose village is Vaitele, so she was interested to know why we were visiting Samoa.

I found the Robert Louis Stevenson story quite sad and wondered how many more great stories he would have written if he hadn’t died so young (he was the author of ‘Treasure Island’ and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ etc – who spent his last 5 years living in Samoa and died when he was 44 years old having always suffered form lung problems, possibly tuberculosis)  Villa Vailima is a beautiful house and you can wee shy RLS and his family loved it here on the slopes of Mt Vaea. 

We walked up the steep path to his tomb at the top of Mt Vaea – it was rough and slippery from rain in places but well worth the climb – on the path we saw birds, geckos, hibiscus and other tropical flowers.  We were both quite surprised how well I handled the climb as I thought I was more unfit than I actually was- although I got a little breathless a little on the way up once we got to the top my recovery time was infintessimal. The view from the top over Apia and of the other mountains to the East was spectacular- we stayed up there for about 1/2 an hour.

We then decided to take the ‘easy’ way down.  This was less steep but in some places quite big trees had blown over and taken the path with it so it presented its own set of challenges  but made it a bit more of an adventure.  We washed our shoes off in the pool at the bottom of the track – a pool they had made by damming the stream. 

My camera had stopped working just after we left the top of the mountain – we don’t think it was the humidity as my camera is supposed to be waterproof but it would no longer take pictures although it would still work in replay mode.  After going back to the hotel and showering and changing we headed back to downtown Apia to look for a replacement camera as we weren’t going to be able to get mine fixed while we were travelling and I needed to be able to take photos from my perspective.  After we had found a camera – was more expensive than we would have liked – I went and emailed the girls and OH posted the postcard that I had written the night before for YD.  We then went back to Sails for a Vailima or two before deciding to try out another restaurant Wildfire (which is just down the road from Paddles).  the food was quite good and a vast array of cocktails on their list (but no mention of ingredients) but the service let it down – they didnt bring me cutlery until we reminded them.  The food was flavourful but the presentation was definitely up with Paddles or even Sails. there was only one girl doing most ofr the service and although she was nice she wasn’t as efficient as she should have been given she was the only waitstaff.

When we got back to the hotel and went to plug in my new camera to charge onl to realise that it had an american plug so we had to borrow an adapter from the hotel owner/managers.  We got a call from the rental car agency saying they wanted to swap cars before we went to Savaii to the originally booked 2004 model. The 2010 was apparently the bosses carand they were a bit protective of it. It was a pity to see it go.

The netball team staying at the hotel lost their game to south Africa but then invited all the Teams back to the hotel. We had hoped for more of an earl night iwth heading to Savaii tomorrow but did not begrudge the girls their fun.  We packed our bags roughly as we didnt need to have everything in the suitcases as we do when flying.  I felt sorry for Lupe (owner/manager) as she had a late night with the girls then had to be up earlyfor a guest arriving and to give us breakfast as we needed to be away by 7.30 – 8 am

You will find the photos of these first three days in my facebook album here

I’m back from Samoa

Will do more in depth travel-logue blogs when I have time and have sorted the photos etc but just wanted to share with you the one photo that epitomises my holiday the most.

I had just finished snorkelling as the sun set – OH had just got out of the water a while before me.  I sat in the water to watch the sunset instead of walking up onto the beach and OH got this cool shot.

Connections

I am heading to Samoa tomorrow morning for a 12 day holiday with OH.  This will be a wonderful relaxing time which will allow us to reconnect to both our individual selves and to each other. 

The other reason I am going to Samoa is to reconnect with one of my family’s roots.  My father’s parents went to Samoa from New Zealand in the 1920’s for employment opportunities and had my dad and his sister while they were living there.  I have never been able to go before now but after he died my mother and some of my sisters scattered some of his ashes near the site where the coconut plantation he grew up on used to be.  To go to Samoa and see where my Dad grew up is always been one of the items on my ‘bucket list’ and I am finally getting to do it.

This last few months has been all about connections.  I have learnt which of my brain functions are still connecting correctly and which ones have a few loose wires.  My short term memory has proved to be the biggest problem especially trying to remember stuff for exams.  I have been understanding things as they are presented in lectures and been able to get good marks for the assignments when I have got the readings etc in front of me to interweave with my own words.  In an exam situation its quite different  I cannot remember in any detail the quotes, authors or theories to reguritate the way we are supposed to in an exam. 

I have made real connections with some of the lecture material on a ‘gut’ level and it has reinforced that social work is what I need to be doing with my life.

I have made real and close  connections with some of my classmates and authentic friendly connections with all the others in the class.

I have reconnected with a very dear old school friend and remembered how important my real friends are.  I have realised I have to make time to spend time with both the old and the new friends now I am at uni.

I have made connections in my mind and emotions with how I am going to move forward in my life.

And now that I have written this blog post I have to disconnect from my blog for the next two weeks – will have travelogue blogs when I come back.

Celebration of Remission II

Otherwise known as my Indulgence weekend.

My celebration started on the Tuesday with the news that I was in remission for the second time – because I had the flu we limited the celebration on the day to having lunch at one of our favourite restaurants on the way home although OH had originally thought he would take me out to one of the more top-end restaurants in Auckland for dinner but I just wasnt going to be up to it.

My weekend of indulgence to celebrate remission kicked off on Friday afternoon when I went out for celebration drinks after Uni with a bunch of my classmates – AW, AE, AC, PC, EC, RC and RMS – thanks guys.

On Saturday morning OD and I went to the Indulgence show.  Where we indulged so much( facial and shoulder/head/neck massage, tastings of lots of dielicious foods both sweet and savoury, a cocktail and a glass of champers), that I was a little later home than expected to go on the second part of my indulgence weekend with OH.

We went to Mt Maunganui for Saturday night where I had got a very reasonably priced motel unit with views over the beach and spa bath included. Apart from a small problem with a malfunctioning dishwasher (which we hadnt touched may I add) OH and I really loved the motel and will probably stay there again at some stage.  The indulgence continued… walking to the restaurants we had dinner at my favourite cafe down there, Volantis.  I have always loved the ambience of this place with its metallic fishy artwork on the wall

 

After we walked back to the motel we had dessert that I had picked up at the indulgence show (some beautiful gourmet french desserts) a soak and a glass of bubbly in the spa bath then bed.

Due to the malfunctioning dishwasher I was awake early and caught the sunrise and before we walked to breakfast I had a walk on the near-deserted beach – which I describe as indulgence for the soul.

It was Mother’s Day and I proved what a good mother I am by taking time to visit the Tauranga bridal expo – to get ideas for MD as one of her ideas for her wedding is to get married at the Mount on the beach.  They still havent set a date as with SB being in the army, there is question marks around when he might be deployed etc but we thought we would get info so when they do decide on a date she can organise it in a shorter time frame. 

I also indulged in a spot of indulgent day-dreaming while we were down there and went to visit an open home of the house at Papamoa that is the first prize in the Heart Foundation raffle – yes I could definitely imagine it as our holiday home – We always support this raffle but it is the first time I had actually seen one of the home prizes they offer.

Neither OH or I wanted to come home but knew we had to be back for Uni (me) and work (him) so we travelled back on Sunday afternoon

I really enjoyed and appreciated that time away no matter how small it was and now that I know Im in remission OH and I are starting to plan our trip to Samoa which we will be doing end of June beginning of July for approximately 10 days – we have had to squeeze it in to the period I’m on break between semesters but also in between herceptin treatments. 

If I continue on with the herceptin and Uni this is how things are going to be for the next couple of years – figuring out when good breaks are so that we can have those times to do things to recharge our energy and do some of the things we have always wanted to do.

Anyway having written three blog posts today – you can fnd arrows back to the other two at the top of this post if you are interested – I had better get on with my Uni assignments

Roadtrip!!

Well – I’m back home again after thoroughly enjoying myself on the roadtrip that OH and I took to take the remainder of MD’s stuff to her.  I think it was just what I needed to take my mind off going back into treatment.  There were lots of times in the past week I was having so much fun I could forget all about it. 

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heading down the Marleborough Sounds

OH has never been more south than the middle of the North Island so it was great to show him some of the places that I had visited as a child.  Even though we left on a long holiday weekend OH found the driving relaxing as once we got south of Cambridge, there wasn’t much traffic compared to Auckland. 

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travelling down the coast of the South Island towards Kaikoura and Christchurch

 I had problems with my truncal lymphodema, spending a day driving in a car will do that to you and got a bit of pain from my affected nodes but other than that and a persistent headcold I was in good spirits for most of the trip.  We drove to Wellington spent the night then drove straight to Christchurch the next day we spent a few days visiting with MD,SB, Bro and family then headed to Akaroa for a night. 

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The Giants House, Akaroa

We returned to Christchurch for 3 more nights including niece B’s lovely birthday dinner and a wonderful evening spent with my old friend A and my new friend C.  I had met A through ante-natal classes 25 years ago with our first babies but when she moved to the South Island we had lost touch over the years.  I had met C on an online forum and become friends as her brother had prostate cancer at the same time I was first diagnosed with IBC.  When I found out A’s new address and talked to C – I realised they knew each other and only lived a few miles from each other.  It was wonderful being able to meet C and have dinner with her and A, and their husbands at A’s house.

We took a day longer to come home from Christchurch breaking our journey at Picton (top of the South Island) and Tokaanu (the southern end of Lake Taupo).  Some of the scenery we saw was spectcular and the photos we took don’t do it justice, both OH and I had taken our cameras and those of you that are my friends on facebook will see a good selection of them there. 

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Old University of Canterbury buildings now the Arts Centre, Christchurch

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Road into Hamner Springs looking back to the bridge we had just been over

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Lake Rotoiti -Nelson Lakes

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Hot thermal spring at Tokaanu

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peacock at Wairakei Thermal Walk

I have my Radiation Oncology appointment tomorrow which I look forward to with both eagerness and trepidation.  I am eager to start treatment and get on top of Gertrude once more, but nervous as to what they are going to say regarding treatment and ability to target only unradiated areas from before.  I also hope to get  a clearer understanding of exactly what node/s are involved.  I will write a short update on that tomorrow.  YD is coming home for the weekend for Guy Fawkes fun so hopefully I will have enough time after appointment to write a quick update as well as upload my second installment of road trip photos to Facebook.