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Thursday, July 16th, 2009

by a ranting member of the lunatic fringe
Lindisfarne, England

According to newly-released statistics, New Zealand is almost leading the world in obesity statistics (apparently currently coming in third). I wonder if we would have noticed England’s obesity if we had flown here directly from home. But we didn’t and the problem here struck us strongly.
I’m not going to get scientific about it….just a little anecdotal… terms of the places *we* have been, we’d say Laos is the most non-obese nation. We did not see one overweight person in our month there. Not one. We expected Cambodia to be the same, but we saw an occasional chubby young person there – we were staying just up the road from a private school and quite a few of the children (obviously from wealthy families or they would not have been attending the school) were starting to show the signs of adopting a Western diet. Now I do not know for certain that they eat lots of Western food, but we did see them with bottles of Coke and chocolate bars. None of the people living on the rubbish dump, on the other hand, were overweight. None of the people we met in Thailand or Vietnam, who lived their traditional subsistence lives were fat. None of the rural Chinese were tubby. No-one in Mongolia was carrying extra kilos (and all they eat is mutton and full-cream dairy with loads of fat piled on – so maybe the NZ food nazis should sit up and take notice of the fact that low-fat diets are not the answer – our bodies need fat and while the beauracracy tries to prevent us from consuming it, they are not going to solve the obesity epidemic.)
It’s not even a Western issue (I don’t think)… Holland and Germany there were precious few tubbies – yes, there were a lot of men carrying beer pots on their skinny legs, but not general obesity. In those countries you have everyone riding bicycles everywhere – even old dottery grannies (no offence intended – I’m describing the ladies we saw on bikes – so dottery that when they got off their bikes, they sometimes nearly toppled over – but they were still out there cycling well into their nineties!) And there was next to no low-fat food. Just plenty of full cream milk and quark and yoghurt and butter.
Then you get to England and everything is low fat. And a good portion of the population is overweight. My theory stands up to the scrutiny of circumstantial evidence! If our health board is going to ban anything, let them ban sugar. Did you know that in the fourteenth century we used a teaspoon a year of this “luxury spice”. Now Britain’s annual consumption is 35kg per person. Hello! Could we make a link between that and obesity, diabetes and poor teeth, do you think? And how different is New Zealand? (Answer:not very)

Now, if you’ll give me just a moment, I’ll hop down off my soapbox (and to think I thought they had all been packed away in the attic for a year!)….

There, back on solid ground.

Are you still with me? How about something less controversial – a nice wee morning game of hide-n-seek in Warkworth Castle (before the rain came….again). Or if you prefer, the game where you have to run under the drawbridge (which doesn’t draw any more) and try to avoid the missiles being sent from above….that one was fun!

The day ended in pouring rain, we’re perched at the edge of the sea (in fact, according to the GPS we are IN the sea!) in a little carpark just off the causeway that goes across to Holy Island. The island is only accessible at certain times of the day, dependent on tides, as the causeway totally floods at high tide (a most impressive sight to see – and exciting to watch people to-ing and fro-ing trying to make up their minds whether to take the risk once the water has come up a bit! The pictures of almost submerged cars on the tide timetable signposts did nothing to deter some!) We zipped across this afternoon to visit Lindisfarne Castle and Priory, but as the rain took our arrival as its debut time, and we saw the number of motorhomes in the carpark, we came straight back and nabbed spots in aforementioned carpark for the night (no overnighting allowed on the island), not that we needed to hurry as none of the flash motorhomes came into our freebie spot!

Time on the road: need to check Jboy13’s record!
Distance covered: 68km

you’ve been asking

Friday, June 19th, 2009

by Rach
Stellendam, Holland

Our email inbox is full of “when are you coming home?” messages.

Today I’m supposed to be able to tell you the answer.

But I can’t.

We tried to book online, but couldn’t, because groups cannot exceed nine people and we can’t decide which child to leave behind.
Then we rang (that will be the “Royal Robert We” seeing as I don’t like phones at the best of times and especially not across the continent to a non-English-speaking-official)…as I was saying, Rob rang the customer call centre in Spain, but they could not help at all, except to tell us to make two bookings and yes there should be enough seats on the plane we wanted to travel on.
So, buoyed on by their promises, we tried the internet booking system again. After a few hiccups, we pushed the button for the first set of seats, sat back and waited… and then panicked! A little box told us there was a problem with our bank and that we could not proceed with any further bookings until the issue was resolved. We ignored The Box and quickly hit the button again to get our last two children home with us! The same message was echoed (probably because it’s the same bank paying for all the seats) and now we sit back and wait. Coz we can’t do anything else. Whether all or any of us get on that plane remains a mystery.

Which plane?
Well, it’s an Emirates one.
It leaves from Istanbul, which means (God-willing) we will be going to Turkey.
It takes over 30 hours to get home. (Eight months ago that would have sounded like a long trip – now we ask “Can we really get all the way round the world in that short a time? It took us longer to crawl up Vietnam!”)
It stops in Dubai from midnight to 10am! (Last time we were in Dubai, I watched the sun rise and Rob threw up in the toilets for so long that a flight attendant forced the door open to check he was OK – he had already used up ALL the airsick bags on the flight. I hope it’s a better stop this time! And that at the end of the flight I won’t be starting to throw up too and be taken out to a seafood restaurant – oh that’s right, we’re going back to Auckland, not Malaysia this time).
If successful, we will be home in plenty of time for Rob to paint the house relax before Going Back To Work, but not quite in time for the Christmas Madness.
But until our bank sorts out whatever issue is preventing us from paying for tickets, we are not actually booked onto a flight, and so the date remains a secret.

’nother netherlands night….

Thursday, June 18th, 2009
by Rach Stellendam, Holland ….or day, as the case may be (but that’s not very alliterationy) even if those lines rhyme just right but speaking of night let me just say it doesn't last long coz the sun shines all day it's up before five while I stay in ... [Continue reading this entry]

children should be seen and not heard

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009
by the mother Stellendam, The Netherlands How many of us grew up hearing that? Not really holding to the philosophy myself (I’m more in to *children are people too and have a contribution to make, but sometimes need help learning when and ... [Continue reading this entry]

fierce allegiances

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009
by Rachael Stellendam, Zeeland, The Netherlands To be honest, we were overcome with the politeness of the drivers in Germany. You needed only to turn your indicator on and even the biggest trucks would move over to allow you passage into ... [Continue reading this entry]

holiday in heaven ~ oops, I mean Holland

Monday, June 15th, 2009
by Rachael, who is wondering if her knee will ever stop swelling Stellendam, Holland Power, flush toilets, hot showers, kitchen, a reading room (books in Dutch and Deutsch), fresh water, grey water dumping facilities, chemical toilet dumping station, sun shining, grass ... [Continue reading this entry]

time marches on

Sunday, June 14th, 2009
by Rachael Vianen, Holland She peeked out that window. She saw Jews walking along the street and felt guilty, as if she had betrayed them by hiding. She agonised about fresh air. She felt trapped. She felt proud to be a ... [Continue reading this entry]

amsterdam antics

Saturday, June 13th, 2009
by a Mama, whose knee will not get better – still swollen and wound filled with pus Amsterdam, Holland THE MORNING: driving to Amsterdam flat flat flat

windmills windmills windmills


[Continue reading this entry]

boats * bikes * bargains

Friday, June 12th, 2009
by Rachael Burgum, Holland It sure is a pleasant place to be staying.

Now that the harbourmaster is satisfied the children will not rip up his lawn, kick their ball ... [Continue reading this entry]

“eat local”

Thursday, June 11th, 2009
by Rachael at the yacht harbour, Burgum, Holland When in Malaysia, eat your fill of roti canai and durian. When in Thailand switch to Pad Thai. When you get to Laos, enjoy the BBQ-ed chicken (or bats). When in Cambodia, appreciate the wide variety ... [Continue reading this entry]