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DSCF6875Up at crack of dawn (well – almost) to catch the 8:00am ferry to Tsawassen. We are off once again on our travels.

There is this time – however – a difference in that we have with us a visitor – a relative stranger to these shores. My brother has come from the UK to stay with us.

This is not his first visit to Vancouver Island – he was here in 2010 for our wedding – but this is his first trip since we moved here last year and he is indeed the first guest from the UK to stay in our new home. The first of many we hope.

I have not to this point mentioned his visit through the agency of these jottings for good reason… I was sworn to secrecy! My brother has just turned sixty and his two really rather splendid sons (and his eldest’s excellent wife) arranged this trip for him as a birthday surprise. Kudos, chaps!

Anyway – we are off to the interior for a short break. No details as yet as some of that, too, is intended as a surprise.

What fun!

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Photo by Ian Britton at www.freefoto.comThe rule of thumb regarding survival of the first three bitter months of the year is to ensure that the Christmas/New Year spirit lasts as long as possible, before hunkering down and digging in for the long haul through to spring – pausing only to offer a grateful prayer of thanks that – as winter months go – irksome February is at least numerically challenged!

And then – all of a sudden – everything changes!

These are amongst the happenings that occur over a relatively short interval:

  • March finally limps to a close and we find ourselves on the threshold of the spring.
  • In the UK the clocks go forward to British Summer Time, thus ensuring that – for the first time in the year – my journeys both to and from work are accomplished in daylight.
  • The spring term at the School comes to an end and we are suddenly two thirds of the way through the academic year.
  • The sun puts in a proper appearance and nature starts to awake. Those bright munchy greens presage my favourite time of the year.

Following last year’s ridiculously early Easter, this year’s is nearly as late as it can be. Before that feast is upon us The Girl and I are heading to Barcelona (leaving – in fact – on the morrow) accompanying the A level Theatre Studies boys on their field trip to the Institute of the Arts in Sitges.

The Fuji x10 and the School’s iTablet will – naturally – be accompanying us.

Expect pictures!

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Photo by Andy Dawson ReidTomorrow the Kickass Canada Girl and I head for France. As mentioned previously we intend to meander slowly down to the Dordogne over a period of some three days in the Girl’s spanking new convertible (well – new to her… You know what I mean!).

Now – the boot (Canadian – trunk!) of the Mazda (Canadian – Miata!) is the cutest wee thing going. It is good to see that the Japanese made no concessions whatsoever to utility when designing the ultimate ‘British’ sports car and that they wasted no efforts either there or in the strictly two-seater cabin on such fripperies as storage. As a result packing for the trip presents an interesting challenge.

I have discoursed briefly before on the Girl’s packing habits. She has – naturally – been working on the problem already for the best part of a week. It might appear – to the uninitiated – that her method consists of emptying out her entire wardrobe and then successively dismissing items ‘not required on voyage’ until such time as she can shoehorn the remainder into whichever trunks, valises and other items of baggage have been selected for the journey. To suggest that this were indeed the case would be a scandalous calumny and a terrible mistake, which I – for one – do not intend to make. However, given that the sum total of her travelling wardrobe must fit into two small soft bags I sense that this time her skills may be tested to the limit.

Being a chap – of course – I will simply toss a couple of t-shirts into a bag at the last possible moment and call it good. Well – there have to be some advantages to chapdom!

And if – by chance – I find that I have forgotten something, then the odds are good that the Girl will have packed said item instead – and I can simply borrow it!

Good luck with that one – as they say…

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Serious kudos – and indeed many grateful thanks – to Air New Zealand for getting me safely to Hong Kong the other night – a task that proved somewhat more demanding than anyone might have expected.

I rather liked the service in their premium economy – at the expense of which I had swallowed hard before selecting, but can frankly no longer face the prospect of flying for 12 hours in a standard economy seat. Air Canada do this better than most because with them it is possible to book the exit row seats (with their considerably increased legroom) in advance. Most other airlines either don’t do this at all, or simply add one’s name to a lottery for the seats which are then allocated nearer flight time. Sorry – I need to know for sure when I book…

I was certainly impressed by the enormous measure of New Zealand Pinot Noir that the stewardess splashed into what can only be described as a tumbler – to accompany dinner. I was further stunned when she offered to top it up a minute or so later when I had scarcely got beyond sampling the bouquet. Unusually for me – I declined.

However, it was some short while after dinner that the Air New Zealand cabin staff really earned my undying gratitude. Feeling suddenly rather clammy and nauseous I thought I had better head for the washroom to be on the safe side. The washroom was occupied and as I waited outside I suddenly found myself on my hands and knees – with no idea how I had got there. The next thing I knew I was lying on my back in the galley, surrounded by cabin crew and having oxygen administered. I had blacked out in a fairly serious way!

When they got me back on my feet – having first asked for, and located, a doctor on board to take a look at me – they moved me up into business class where they had made up a bed for me. As a result I subsequently enjoyed seven hours good sleep and a first class breakfast! Though still rather fuzzy headed when we landed the next morning I mostly felt embarrassment and something of a fraud. I have not had such an attack before, but I gather that they are not that uncommon. I found another doctor in Hong Kong to give me the once over and it she could find nothing out of the ordinary. She suggest that I had probably experienced a vasovagal syncope!

Clearly this was one of those isolated incidents – probably brought on by tiredness (I had been up early and done a day’s work before rushing to the airport in the evening) and dehydration. The Air New Zealand staff were brilliant throughout and made me feel very much better about the whole episode. My thanks again to them.

Well – this is one way to get an upgrade, but I can’t say I recommend it…

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