Jumbo Jet

July 31, 2009

My search for a poem to suit our homeward journey didn’t find what I was seeking.

But I did discover Jumbo Jet  by Spike Milligan.

                                     Jumbo Jet

I saw a little elephant standing in my garden
I said ‘You don’t belong in here’, he said ‘I beg you pardon?’,
I said ‘This place is England, what are you doing here?’,
He said ‘Ah, then I must be lost’ and then ‘Oh dear, oh dear’.

‘I should be back in Africa, on Saranghetti’s Plain’,
‘Pray, where is the nearest station where I can catch a train?’.
He caught the bus to Finchley and then to Mincing lane,
And over the Embankment, where he got lost, again.

The police they put him in a cell, but it was far too small,
So they tied him to a lampost and he slept against the wall.
But as the policemen lay sleeping by the twinkling light of dawn,
The lampost and the wall were there, but the elephant was gone!

So if you see an elephant, in a Jumbo Jet,
You can be sure that Africa’s the place he’s trying to get!

            – Spike Milligan –

Rushing and waiting

July 31, 2009

It’s hard to travel without rushing or waiting and today we’ve done both.

We couldn’t get a seat on a plane home from Milan in time for the National Party conference and the next best option our travel agent came up with was leaving from Zurich.

We left Verona at 9.30 this morning and were due in Milan at 10.55 with 15 minutes to catch the connecting train to Switzerland.

The train from Verona was late, leaving us with just 5 minutes to get off it, run with cases to find the platform for the next one and board, which we did with two minutes to spare.

That train was supposed to take us all the way to Zurich but about a third of the way in to the journey it stopped at a station and we were told to get off. Several announcments were made in German which didn’t help us and we had an anxious wait until a train arrived three quarters of an hour later and we were told in German, French and English that we should board it.

It was bound for Lucerne, and we were told we had to change for Zurich but not at which station. We found out in time but had only a couple of minutes to catch the connecting train which got us to Zurich Central Station.

It was just a short train ride from there to the airport however, we were too early to check in so had to hang round for nearly two hours with our cases.

Still, better too early than too late and at least we were able to wander around which was easier to deal with than the hour wait on the tarmac which Cactus Kate faced.

We’ve a flight to Singapore ahead of us now, four hours in the airport there then the final leg home. But I won’t relax until we get to Christchurch because we’re scheduled to land at 9.30 on Saturday morning and any major delay will mean we’ll be too late to vote in the election of directors  at the National Party conference.

July 31 in history

July 31, 2009

On July 31:

1856 Christchurch was chartered as a city.

1956 Jim Laker set a record by taking 19 wickets in a cricket Test against Australia at Old Trafford.

1976 John Walker won a gold medal at the Montreal Olympics.

Sourced from Wikipedia and NZ History Online.


July 30, 2009

Turandot is probably not the easiest of Operas for people who don’t know much about this form of music but the performance at Verona’s Arena was a wonderful introduction to it.

Sitting in the world’s biggest arena where people have come to be entertained for hundreds of years made it a special experience from the start.

Even if you didn’t appreciate the music it would have been difficult to have remained unimpressed by the visual spectacular. Some of the scenes are on YouTube  here.

Then came Nessun Dorma which earned an encore and provided a wonderful finale for our holiday.

A performance of that song from the Arena a month ago is also on YouTube.

Too safe can be dangerous

July 30, 2009

We’ve wandered along castle parapets and Roman mule tracks, climbed hills and walls and not once in Spain or Italy have we seen a sign like this:

09 various 032

It was on Rob Roy track in Mount Aspiring National Park just before a bit of a slip that was so old the many feet which had walked over it since had worn a new track.

Near the start of the track was a newer, bigger slip which did require considerable care but it was too fresh for anyone to have put up a sign.

No doubt some time someone who is responsible for such things will discover the slip and provide a sign, but is it really necessary?

Is the motivation for such warnings safety or just to preclude any blame being laid?

And do warning signs and other precautions make life safer or more dangerous because it encourages us to stop looking after and taking responsibility for ourselves?

Exchange rate woes

July 30, 2009

Travelling in Europe we might have welcomed a strong New Zealand dollar, but it’s difficult to consider the dollar is high when it takes more than two to buy a euro and if it costs a dollar at home it usually costs a euro here so everything is twice as expensive.

Besides anything we gained while here will be more than cancelled out by the impact of the exchange rate on sales of meat,wool and milk.

The $NZ was at 59 US cents when Fonterra announced its forecast payout for the season. It hit a 10 month high of 66.9 cents this week.

The forecast payout for this season hasn’t changed but MAF economists are prediciting next season’s payout will be lower before recovering a bit in the 2011/12 season.

Seven days computer free . . .

July 30, 2009

. . .  and I didn’t even miss it.

We left Milan last Thursday morning and this is the first opportunity I’ve had to write a post since then.

Posting will be erratic for the next few days as we start our trip back to New Zealand tonight, arriving (providing everything goes according to schedule) in time to cast our votes for the National Party Board at the annual conference on Saturday.

Thanks to everyone who popped in while I was wandering in the sun – Milan to Verona via Lake Como, Switzerland and Lake Garda.

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