Monday, September 28, 2009
Having said that, every single one of the fourteen pages did demonstrate an absolutely stunning standard of journalism.There was Cooking with Auntie Gaye, Brewer's Corner with John Mac, Weeders in Space and.... and....well, a whole lot of gossip, really.
Bearing in mind the calibre of our average blog reader (we have in place a tracking programme that analyses who reads it, where they live, what they had for breakfast and much, much more) I thought I would reprint our cartoon page. But it was too big to upload by satellite, so we're stuck with a single frame from "Breakfast at the Hostel."
This could also be by way of warning to the new crew, shortly to leave NZ to take over from us. Just in case they think they're coming to Paradise Island....
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
We had what is probably our last birthday celebration on the island this last weekend. I say "probably" because residents have been restricted to just the one birthday per calendar year as some were claiming two or even three per annum in order to capitalise on the food, cake and drinks that would be wheeled out in recognition of their big day(s).
Some had to have their passports checked for verification!
Anyway, this party had a theme of "NB" and it's a sign of the times that even on an island which has a current total population of eight, we had trouble with gatecrashers. We were invaded by a rough looking bunch of ne'er-do-wells; they took photos of themselves, ate all the food and left us with an empty punch bowl!
This camera was advertised in NZ with some delightful footage of a slobbering great dog wolfing it down, and it re-emerging unscathed from the dog's darkest recesses with a stunning visual record of its adventures.
Today we celebrated a sunny sky and glistening blue sea with another visit to Bigboy, the giant grouper who hangs out at Fishing Rock with his harem. We took with us some long-expired frozen fish so we could feed the big fella.
A metre-long Kingfish joined in the fun underwater and Bigboy was his usual friendly self, nuzzling up to wetsuits, chasing away his girls and allowing himself to be stroked and patted. Our frozen fish disappeared all too quickly, and one by one the others got out to dry themselves off.
Gaye, Bigboy and kingfish
I was about to join them, having taken my full quota of photos, when Bigboy made another lazy, close pass at me and I watched his big jaw crank itself open wide enough to swallow a football. Completely unperturbed, he glooped down my shiny new Olympus Tough camera!
That camera looks tasty!
The good news was that the camera had a piece of webbing attached to it, and that cord was looped securely around my neck. Wait – hang on! Maybe that good news wasn’t quite so good; I was now being dragged along by the neck, underwater, by a very large fish.
Luckily Bigboy is so gentle he let me grab hold of him, prise open his jaws, unhitch the cord from his retroflex needle-teeth and extricate my camera from his oesophagus by pulling backwards away from him.
I’m not sure which of us was more relieved, but this camera lived to shoot another day!
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Our Hospital is a small separate building located behind the hostel.
It contains a modest supply of pharmaceuticals, an extensive range of dressings, plastering materials, surgical and dental instruments and oxygen. As we are away from base most days (sometimes a walk of 90 mins) each group has a team member that carries a well equipped field first aid kit which includes adrenaline, antihistamines, analgesics and dressings. In the event of a serious field injury, a grab-pack is stored in the hospital and this can be brought to the injury site when requested by radio.
Inside the treatment room
We swung into gear last week when informed at base, that a weeder had been hit by a falling rock. Chauncy and I headed up the hill to met the team who were accompanying a rather, pale shaky, bloodied patient. Thankfully the head wound was minor although the bruising was moderate. There were no neurological sequelae.
Injured patient Bas - unfortunately not sick enough to escape the dishes!
DOC trains two interested permanent staff as the medics for each year. They are supported from New Zealand by General Practitioners in Warkworth and a consultant at Middlemore Hospital. As a GP, I have been able to provide support to the medics in their role during my stint here. Aside from the two medevacs off the Island (neither of whom were DOC staff or vollies) the majority of the medical work has been minor and injury-related. For example, we have treated sprains, eye foreign bodies, infected cuts, allergic reactions and lacerations.
Generally though we have all kept very good health and with swine flu circling the globe, we have undoubtedly been in a very safe isolated spot. No one has had any type of viral illness or cough and the only sniffles are those caused by allergy to plants, dust or a bottle of bubbly, as one staff member discovered last week.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Saturday, September 12, 2009
We stayed in the hut out towards the Bluff. There are four huts on the island and these humble dwellings are a rare privilege to stay in because they are all fully stocked with food (and you KNOW it's going to be there). There is no concern about rats or mice bothering you, because they no longer exist on Raoul. The cookers can be a little cantankerous as they are fuelled by pressurised kerosine, primed with methylated spirits. If you don't do things exactly right - particularly with the one at Hutchies - it can scare the bejeesus out of you by suddenly flaring up to the roof with a big orange flame. Consequently, Gaye hid her eyes on the bunk or stood by the fire extinguisher while I did all the igniting.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Since I have been temporarily deserted by inspiration, I thought it would be good to have a look at everyone else's shots over the next few days.
So here are a few of Chauncy's:
Friday, September 4, 2009
Johnny B wondering if this is his winning brew
Colour, carbonation and turbidity are all part of the 'Appearance'
After all, it’s not easy after a few ales to distinguish ‘nutty’ from ‘grainy’ in the scent category, is it? And once you’ve read the ‘Finish’ notes carefully in order to be able to describe correctly the lingering sensation after a beer has been swallowed, how can you NOT use phrases like “Light Struck – Having the characteristic smell of a skunk.” I’m just grateful that none of my brews was described as “Oxidized-Stale – Taste/odour of wet cardboard…rotten vegetables…baby diapers.”
Nevertheless, there were some harsh judgements. Dave’s scores went from 50/50 to a damning 0/50 and it was distressing to see that one of my young (admittedly rather fresh) bottles was dismissed with the term “DANGEROUS” by one of my fellow judges.
We persevered to the bitter (or was it lager?) end, and the appropriate brews were lavished with universal praise. Johnny B took away the coveted “Best Beer in Show” award, and John Mac cleaned up in the Dark Beer category with first, second, third and fourth places. Actually, he may have got fifth sewn up, too, but my memory of the prizegiving is a little hazy. John Mac has specialised in low carb, low alcohol brews by putting in little or no sugar, and they’ve been a great success.Gina and Gaye were both invited to participate in the judging but (for some reason I cannot fathom) they both declined. This meant we had a photographer and cracker-server, Gaye, and a chief pourer, Gina.
They both did a grand job!
Thursday, September 3, 2009
There were the inevitable jokes about what disasters would occur the moment Craig left the island, as all our catastrophes seem to take place when he is away. So it was a little spooky when we were shaken awake at 6.10am by a magnitude 6.3 earthquake that was centred only 95 km away. It was a window-rattler. This was also a little sad for John Mac, who was desperate to feel a decent shake for the whole duration of his stay, but managed to sleep through all of them!
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
The water is particularly clear, as you can see, but these fish are easy to photograph because they hang around in a mere two metres of water. Bigboy is very inquisitive and often arrives to say hello to snorklers as soon as they jump into the water. This has made for some anxious moments for those who are slightly nervous (because of sharks etc) as he has no idea of personal space and is often right in your face as soon as your eyes get focussed under the sea. Sometimes we need to be careful of landing on him when we leap off the rocks.
These groupers all begin life as females and then can change sexes as they get older. They can live to be a hundred years or so - a good argument for Marine Reserves, don't you think?
Bigboy was accompanied by three smaller females this time, with lighter colouring. All four fish trailed along behind us as we circumnavigated Fishing Rock.
He gets a bit stroppy with the girls at times, and has been seen giving them a nip if they get in his way. Clearly the feminist ethic has yet to make it into the world of large fish!