Friday, October 31, 2014

Friday 31st October 2014….spooky day!!!!!



So today being Friday was the day to myself and I spent the morning at home just doing some laundry, class planning and some computer work……oh forgot watched some great tennis from Paris.

Then walked into town to take in some of the amazing things going off this weekend








It really is a wonderful custom the way the locals celebrate the life of loved ones passed…..

Home for the night…….stay safe this evening!!

Before I left England in July I bought two tickets for my brother Malc and his charming bride Janet to attend the ll Divo concert tonight in Leeds, England to help celebrate a special birthday Malc has in a week…I sure hope they enjoyed the concert!!!!

Il Divo

This year Il Divo, the genre-busting singing troupe that straddles the worlds of pop and classical music, celebrates their 10th Anniversary. David, Carlos, Urs and Sebastien, - four different nationalities, training and sensibilities quickly became an international sensation.

But now they're stepping outside the box to do something new yet again, and it is stretching them in exciting, new and challenging directions. They are taking themselves to Broadway – both in a new album called "A Musical Affair" and to the place itself in a concert engagement at the Marriott Marquis Theatre in November, located at the heart of America's most legendary theatrical arena, that will introduce the album.

"It feels like we're going to dive in a completely different world of music," says Urs Bühler, the Swiss-born tenor. "I've been a singer in a rock band, which is one world and then I made the move into the classical, and then with Il Divo I combined the two and moved into the pop business," he says of a career that saw him begin performing in a rock band as a teenager, before training in classical music that saw him graduate from Switzerland's The Academy of School and Church Music before gaining a masters degree from the Amsterdam Conservatory. "But now we're going to Broadway, which is somehow a different format again. Getting in touch with this whole world of music is out of my comfort zone, so it is exciting and challenging."

That has been the constant challenge of Il Divo, both for its artists as well as its audience. "The thing that Il Divo brings to music in general is being outside the box and revamping something that people are already very familiar with," explains David Miller, the American tenor of the group. "For instance, with 'Unbreak my Heart', we put it in a different language, so that gave it a layer of distance from the version everyone knows. It was men singing it, which was another layer; and then it was multiple voices, which is another layer. It goes further and further out of the box, but with a melody that everybody is familiar with – so when they first hear it, they're not sure why they know this piece of music already. It's as if they're hearing it for the first time. At a certain moment, the lightbulb goes off, and they realise why it's familiar. It shows that although music can get codified, it really has no boundaries in the way it can be interpreted and reinterpreted and reconfigured, and still have a huge impact."

Sébastien Izambard, who came to Il Divo in the midst of a successful pop career in his native France, had some experience of musical theatre in Paris: "I was asked to appear in a French musical version of The Little Prince about twelve years ago, and I remember having to audition for it – that was unusual for me as a pop singer. So it was a real challenge to me." But he got the

job, and remembers the experience was amazing: "Not only was it an opportunity to sing in a different way, as a bridge between opera and a pop musical, but also there was a lot of acting to do."

So he is looking forward to embracing the world of Broadway now: "It's a completely different world again. I remember when I first joined Il Divo, going into the studio and hearing the huge vibratos, I wondered what I was doing there – when you sing pop, you usually sing in straight tones. But when we did 'Unbreak my Heart' all four of us realised that we had something that could open the door to people who'd never heard opera – which included me – to appreciate it."

Now Il Divo are looking forward to introducing their fans to the great works of Broadway. "This is going to be a fantastic surprise," says Carlos Marin, the Spanish baritone. "The audience are going to be really, really pleased – we've got well-known songs here, but we have a new sound and concept for them, and being on Broadway will also be a chance to try something really new and theatrical for us." Carlos has the most direct experience of appearing in musicals, having performed in leading roles in Grease, Les Miserables, Beauty and the Beast, Peter Pan and the Man of La Mancha in his native Spain. "When we were were forming Il Divo, I was offered Phantom of the Opera, too, but I couldn't do it. All of my career since I started at the age of eight, I've done musicals. I love them, so this is a very important album to me."

Of course, this isn't the first time Il Divo have sung Broadway songs: as David points out, "We've been doing selections here and there – 'Somewhere' from West Side Story' was on one of our earlier albums, we did 'Music of the Night' from The Phantom of the Opera with Barbra Streisand when we were on tour with her, and we once put together our own version of 'The Impossible Dream' from 'The Man of La Mancha' as an encore for one of our tours to add a piece of flair that wasn't there before."

But this is the first time, he adds, "we've brought out an album that is in its entirety a Broadway album. Those individual tracks had kept cropping up and were having a massive success with the audiences, so we thought what if we did a whole album of it? What if we devote a whole album to one genre? All of our previous albums had combined songs from different genres, so we'd have Frankie Goes to Hollywood next to Mariah Carey next to Frank Sinatra. They were very eclectic and across the board. Here we've got all one repertoire. But it is a very diverse one, if you look across the decades of how musical theatre has evolved, from how operettas turned into musicals, and how opera singers who used to sing in them didn't want to destroy their voices doing eight performances a week. Then microphones got introduced to save their voices, and then different vocal techniques were possible – all of which culminated in Rent, and opened the door for a different type of musical."

The fact that Rent is itself based on an opera La Boheme shows how far it has come – and it was, in fact, in Baz Luhrmann's production of La Boheme that David made his Broadway debut 11 years ago, playing Rodolfo. David, who now lives in Manhattan, notes that musical theatre is in that city's DNA, and also his own: "I've been singing musical theatre since I was about 14 years old when my first role was Rooster in Annie, and it was my entry into realising I had a voice. Then I played Noah in another musical called Two by Two, and Frederick in The Pirates of Penzance, when I realised that I really wanted to sing as my life career, and enrolled in a classical training."

Il Divo may have been an arranged marriage, but David speaks of how complementary their interests and skills have turned out to be. "We have a very wide base of musical understandings.

Sebastien is a self-taught pop singer who had done a musical, so and is aware of the process. Carlos has done every type of music and many musicals – he has a big frame of reference. And I've done musical theatre since I was a kid. Urs probably has the least frame of reference, but he's been in the theatre all of his life doing operas and operettas, which are most akin to musical theatre."

For Carlos, musicals are a way of proving something else: "You need to show the audience that you're not just a singer, but that you can dance, act and interpret songs. And when we do this onstage, we want to try to make it more real. We really see ourselves as artists, and the time you really feel an audience is when you do a live show. There's only one chance to do it right – it's where we show the world we are live singers!"

Sebastien is looking forward the closer proximity of a Broadway house. "We are used to touring in areas, but here's an opportunity to have more closeness with an audience."

They also, of course, bring their distinctive signature to the songs, too. As Urs says, "We give a different twist to all these songs, just purely from the fact that songs that were written as solo numbers are sung by the four of us. We've managed to create a version of these songs that is different to anything else out there. All these musicals have played all over the world, and interpreted by loads of different people. But our goal is always to take the musical material and do something with it that has not been heard before in that shape or fashion. As our voices share and blend, it is a sound that is different to a solo interpretation."

They are joined by star guests on several tracks, including Broadway's Kristin Chenoweth, Heather Headley and Nicole Scherzinger, as well as Britain's own Michael Ball in a rendition of 'Love Changes Everything' from Aspects of Love (the first time they've ever been joined by another male voice). The Il Divo template is being changed once again: "I'm hoping," says David, "that this will an opportunity to investigate how to take Il Divo out of its box and the format we've had from the last ten years, and by putting some constraints around it, expand it to another level. There is so much going on in this album, it is almost like going back to the first one which was a grand experiment: there were no preconceptions around it, and we had no idea what we were doing at the time, we just had a list of random songs and found different ways of structuring the songs to bring variety to them as we passed the ball between us."

The key to their success, David believes, is variety: "The more balls you can have in the air when you're juggling, the more exciting the juggler is. And that's what we do – we have multiple languages and multiple voices, and sometimes it is one voice, sometimes it is all of them; sometimes we have a big ending, sometimes a small one." Broadway thrives on such juxtapositions, and so will Il Divo.

Yashi Kochi!!!

Thursday 30th October 2014…for a change an easy day!!!

Having my morning tea and answering e mails I heard the distinctive whoosh of fire being fired into the hot air balloon and went outside and took these shots!!




It was quite cloudy when I left for tennis this morning but after we had been playing a few minutes the sun came out and it was lovely and the tennis fun as it always is…..did a little shopping before I came home and for a change took the afternoon off and relaxed with my book in the back patio…….I did do some chores and watched some tennis from Paris and tonight I went into town and walked around as this weekend is huge celebrations in Mexico… the Day of the Dead….not great shots but you gives you some idea of how they celebrate this special weekend!!!








Decoding The Food And Drink On A Day Of The Dead Altar


Story by Karen Castillo Farfán

Elaborately decorated skulls are crafted from pure sugar and given to friends as gifts. The colorful designs represent the vitality of life and individual personality.i i

Elaborately decorated skulls are crafted from pure sugar and given to friends as gifts.


Sugar skulls, tamales and spirits (the alcoholic kind) — these are things you might find on ofrendas, or altars, built this time of year to entice those who've passed to the other side back for a visit. These altars in homes and around tombstones are for Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos, a tradition on Nov. 1 and 2originating in central Mexico.

Altar: Altars are used to welcome the ancestors' spirits into the home. It is also practice to visit the ancestral burial ground to celebrate with picnics and music.

Altar: Altars are used to welcome the ancestors' spirits into the home. It is also practice to visit the ancestral burial ground to celebrate with picnics and music.

The Aztecs developed the ritual some 3,000 years ago because they believed one should not grieve the loss of a beloved ancestor who passed. Instead, the Aztecs celebrated their lives and welcomed the return of their spirits to the land of the living once a year. That's where the food, drink and music offerings come in.

Hayes Lavis, cultural arts curator for the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian, says that mourning was not allowed because it was believed the tears would make the spirit's path treacherous and slippery. "This day is a joyous occasion; it's a time to gather with everyone in your family, those alive and those dead," he says.

During the Spanish conquest, Catholic leaders exerted their influence on the tradition, and the resulting mash-up created the Day of the Dead celebration as we now know it.

Everything on an altar has special meaning.

Sugar skulls: Elaborately decorated skulls are crafted from pure sugar and given to friends as gifts. The colorful designs represent the vitality of life and individual personality.

Food: The ancestor's favorite meals are placed on the altar as offerings. Here, Tamale is being served. Tamales are made from corn-based dough, wrapped in cornhusk then steamed. They are filled with a variety of ingredients like shredded chicken in a green spicy sauce or sweetened with pineapple-cinnamon jellies


Food: The ancestor's favorite meals are placed on the altar as offerings. Here, tamale is being served. Tamales are made from corn-based dough, wrapped in cornhusk, then steamed. They are filled with a variety of ingredients like shredded chicken in a green spicy sauce or sweetened with pineapple-cinnamon jellies.

Pan de Muertos: Semisweet breads are baked with a small human figurine inside. It's considered good luck to find the tiny surprise in your slice. Breads are also used to represent the soil.


Pan de Muertos: Semisweet breads are baked in the shape of bones, and dusted with sugar. They're also meant to represent the soil.

Seeds: Pumpkin seeds or amaranth seeds are offered as snacks for the visiting ancestral spirits. In pre-Columbian times, Aztecs used amaranth seeds instead of sugar to make the skulls.


Seeds: Pumpkin seeds or amaranth seeds are offered as snacks for the visiting ancestral spirit. In pre-Columbian times, Aztecs used amaranth seeds instead of sugar to make the skulls.

Alcohol: Is provided for visiting ancestral spirits to to toast their arrival. In pre-Columbian times, pulque, a beverage made from the sap of maguey or agave plant was reserved for special spiritual ceremonies. Today, any favorite alcoholic beverage can be used.i i


Alcohol: Is provided for visiting ancestral spirits to to toast their arrival. In pre-Columbian times, pulque, a beverage made from the sap of maguey or agave plant was reserved for special spiritual ceremonies. Today, any favorite alcoholic beverage can be used.


Alcohol: Bottles are offered to toast the arrival of the ancestors. In pre-Columbian times, pulque, a beverage made from sap of maguey or agave plant was reserved for special spiritual ceremonies. Today, any alcoholic beverage favored by the dead can be used to toast.

Monarch butterfly: These butterflies, which migrate to Mexico each fall, were believed to be the spirits of the ancestors coming to visit.i i


Monarch butterfly: These butterflies, which migrate to Mexico each fall, were believed to be the spirits of the ancestors coming to visit. 



.Thanks to Chris for putting this little joke on his FB page … 


A cabbie picks up a Nun. She gets into the cab,
and notices that the VERY handsome cab driver won't stop
staring at her. She asks him why he is staring.

He replies: 'I have a question to ask you but I

don't want to offend you.'

She answers, 'My son, you cannot offend me.
When you're as old as I am and have been a nun as long
as I have, you get a chance to see and hear just about
everything. I'm sure that there's nothing you
could say or ask that I would find offensive.'

'Well, I've always had a fantasy to have a nun kiss

She responds, 'Well, let's see what we can do about

#1, you have to be single, and #2, you must be Catholic.'

The cab driver is very excited and says, 'Yes,
I'm single and Catholic!'

'OK' the nun says. 'Pull into the next alley.'

The nun fulfills his fantasy, with a kiss that would make a
hooker blush.

But when they get back on the road, the cab driver starts

'My dear child,' says the nun, 'why are you crying?'

'Forgive me but I've sinned. I lied and I
must Confess, I'm married and I'm Jewish.'

The nun says, 'That's name is Kevin
and I'm going to a Halloween Party.'

Yashi Kochi!!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wednesday 29th October 2014..if yesterday was busy today was nuts!!!

First on the agenda today was my yoga class which I always enjoy after class went a few doors down to my favorite bakery and bought some scones and wonderful whole wheat rolls and on the way home I bought a couple of Marigold plants for outside the front door…looks nice right!!!!




Home in time to make lunch and then go back into town for an afternoon of poker..I continued with my winning ways only 25 pesos but as they say a win is a win!!!

Again back home to get changed and showered and off to my English class.

Tonight’s class was particularly wonderful first of all their homework assignment for today was to write a paragraph on any subject…amazing the subjects they talked about but Karina's story was about her friend who has cancer and she was very emotional and had to stop..I immediately told her how wonderful a story it was that she shared with us and how we are all part of her family and share her sadness…..and then Fernando 1 there are two Fernando's in class……No 1 is about 6 foot 3 inches tall and weighs about 235 pounds and he told us about his three children and how much they meant to him and his wife and he also could not finish due to his tears and I again commented on how a big brute of a man can be so in touch with his feelings and how  proud we all were of him…what a class!

I always tell my class they can bring their children to class any time and today Blanca brought her 15 year old son Jesus to class…..Jesus has been deaf since birth.  What a fine young man and here he is teaching the class sign language!!!


It was such a great class and I receive so much from all these fine people!!!!

Home in time to watch the baseball game and then the soccer game…



Another interesting article!!!

Special to The Globe and Mail



Atul Gawande, Rhodes Scholar, Harvard-trained surgeon and staff writer for The New Yorker, writes about the conjunction of the human condition and the practice of medicine. He is the author of the thoughtful and provocative bestsellers Complications, Better and The Checklist Manifesto. He talked with Sandra Martin about his new book, Being Mortal, on how we age and face our inevitable demise.


Your book reminds me of writing by physician/writers like Oliver Sacks, Abraham Verghese and especially Sherwin Nuland. Were you taking a step back and writing a prequel to Nuland’s 1994 book, How We Die?

Sherwin Nuland is one of the reasons why I ended up writing. Nuland’s book focussed on what happens in those last few moments before death and I wanted to go upstream to see if we can understand what is happening before that, in such a way that we can manage mortality with less cruelty than we currently do.

Why are we having a crisis about dying?

We have medicalized the experience of aging and dying. In the last century we have added over 30 years to people’s lives. In the beginning it was mainly because of public-health and sanitation measures. But in the last half of the century it was by extending independent productive life for much longer. Seventy-five may be the new 65 but that doesn’t take away the fact that there are creeping limitations, or that serious illnesses can suddenly dramatically change the prospects of your life. When people can no longer be independent, either because of disease or age, we decided that medicine could solve the problem. Medicine is very good at problems we can repair, but we aren’t very good at problems we can’t repair. As doctors we don’t recognize that people have priorities besides just living longer.

You write that we want autonomy for ourselves and safety for those we love. That sounds sensible. What’s wrong with that?

We didn’t build our systems of taking care of the elderly with the idea of what a good life for them would be. We did it to solve other problems, like the hospitals were filling up with people who couldn’t be fixed, and so we started creating old-age homes as a place for their recovery and calling them nursing homes and applying medical ideas about health and safety rather than the goal of people being able to live as good a life as possible and make choices they wanted to make. As a consequence we have nursing homes that have become more like hospitals than homes and we have hospitals that are more like prisons where your choices about what matters to you have been taken away.

Are you seeing a cultural change from the era of the great medical guru handing down prescriptions and diktats to patients?

There are three kinds of relationships that doctors and patients can have. Half a century ago, the dominant relationship was that doctor knows best. Doctors would not give you options or explain what was happening. Instead they would tell you what you were going to do. We rejected that at the end of the last century and shifted to what I call retail doctors: Here are your options; here are the pros and cons, what do you want? If a patient asked, what do you recommend, we were literally taught to say it is for you to decide, not me. It turned out that people wanted a third kind of doctor: a counsellor. Somebody who can help you understand options and make a recommendation. It is still a minority of doctors who practise that way, but that is where I think we are heading.

You are very honest about your own fumbles in talking with patients about treatment options.

I knew that I wasn’t managing these questions about mortality well with my patients and that sometimes we were making poor decisions. And then I was stung with a father who was dying from an incurable cancer of his brain stem and spinal cord. The most miserable place for my father, a doctor, was his own hospital. He was admitted, his colleagues were taking care of him, but they wouldn’t give him enough pain medication for fear it might make him groggy or sleepy, interfere with his breathing. They wouldn’t pay attention to the things that he cared most about and he checked himself out.

Did writing change you as a doctor?

Absolutely. Writing allowed me to do things that others couldn’t do. I interviewed more than 200 patients and their families. I followed scores of nursing-home workers, hospice workers, palliative-care specialists, geriatricians and then I was allowed to try to pull out of that what is going wrong and what could be done differently. The stuff that I learned along the way I put into my practice and experimented with it. It is pretty amazing. It is very clear that a conversation with a patient and how decisions are made is a skill that has components that can be broken down, dissected, understood and taught. But we haven’t done any of those things. There are some experts who treat the conversation the same way that I treat the operations I do for cancer patients. I practise, I learn all the details, I vary my techniques. That is exactly what they do. They have done a transformative thing.

Do you see Advance Care Directives as key components in initiating the conversation?

Yes and no. I think we should make the ADC a normal part of medical care by making it systematic, and repeating it over time because your priorities change. I don’t think you need to talk about your ADC every time you go into the clinic to get your acne prescription renewed, but there are crisis points, say when you are admitted to hospital, when you have a new diagnosis, when you move into a nursing home, when you are on new medication, and that is when you want to have these conversations. You can overdo it, but we are nowhere near that point.

Your book is very poignant when you write about your father’s death. He had chosen hospice care at home, but at one point, your mother, a doctor, called an ambulance when he became unresponsive.

We weren’t reacting as doctors, we were reacting as families, and family members react differently. My father would take me aside and say, ‘Make sure I am not suffering. Do not let them take away my pain medication.’ And my mother didn’t want them to give him the pain medication because she could see that sometimes it made him slower to breathe. In a way I am glad my mother called the ambulance. My father spent a day in the hospital and they found he had a pneumonia added to all his other problems, but he made it clear he didn’t want any further treatment and he wanted to get the hell out of the hospital. It gave my sister and me time to get there – I was in Boston and she was in New York – and spend a last few days with him. It was a really important time. We were lucky.

Near the end of the book, you make an impassioned plea for better palliative and hospice care and you say that assisted living is harder than assisted death. Can you explain?

The goal of many dying-with-dignity movements is to have a good death and I think that is the wrong goal. The goal is to have as good a life as possible all the way to the end. There are some people who have unbearable suffering that can’t be relieved with the measures that we have and it would be heartless not to be able to offer a prescription to end that suffering, but for large numbers of people the failure is that we have not relieved that suffering. In Washington State, Oregon and Vermont, where assisted dying is allowed, they have strengthened the hospice and palliative-care movements by working on the idea that you want to provide assistance while people are living, although believing in the possibility of assisting a death.

What kind of death do you want?

My wife says that even if her brain goes and she looks happy, she still wants to live. From my point of view, if my brain goes, then let me go now. I also know we can change over time so my wife and I will continue to have this conversation.

Thanks to Inga for this little ditty below!!!!


I had a power outage at my house this morning and my PC, laptop, TV, DVD, iPad and my new surround sound music system were all shut down.  Then I discovered that my iPhone battery was flat.  To top it off, it was raining so I couldn’t go for a walk, bike or run.  The garage door opener needs electricity so I couldn’t go anywhere in the car. I went into the kitchen to make coffee and then I remembered that this also needed power, so I sat and talked with my wife for a few hours. She seems like a nice person. 

Yashi Kochi!!!!

Tuesday 28th October 2014…another busy day!!!!

Another beautiful sunny morning and not having tennis this morning I went into town early and bought some veggies and some chicken and came home and had a couple of hours in the kitchen cooking  some meals


Then it was time to work on a special event for my English students next week I am trying to plan something along the lines of the reality show on TV the Amazing race…I think it will be fun for them.

This afternoon I went to Rita’s casa for our usual chat and then Roger came over and we got right into our card card…always fun and Rita and Roger always bake some treats…a fun and lovely afternoon.

Next was to the tennis courts for an always enjoyable game and the sun was still shining a gorgeous day…..

I think now might be time for the baseball game….World series no less!!!




An interesting article from the BBC


By Dr Seth Berkley CEO of the GAVI Alliance

Staff treating Ebola patients at a hospital in Liberia The current Ebola outbreak is the biggest yet seen


The current Ebola outbreak in Africa is dominating headlines globally. But Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of the GAVI Alliance questions why this - rather than any of the other deadly diseases which exist.

He suggests it's because people in the west have forgotten what it is like to deal with an untreatable disease.

It starts with familiar flu-like symptoms: a mild fever, headache, muscle and joint pains.

But within days this can quickly descend into something more exotic and frightening: vomiting and diarrhoea, followed by bleeding from the gums, the nose and gastrointestinal tract.


“Start Quote

We have simply forgotten what it is like to live under threat of such infectious and deadly diseases, and forgotten what it means to fear them”

End Quote

Death comes in the form of either organ failure or low blood pressure caused by the extreme loss of fluids.

Such fear-inducing descriptions have been doing the rounds in the media lately.

However, this is not Ebola but rather Dengue Shock Syndrome, an extreme form of dengue fever, a mosquito-borne disease that struggles to make the news.

Ebola is without a doubt a truly horrible disease, but then there are many other bad ones that kill far more.

So, why is it that Ebola is grabbing headlines and other deadly diseases are not?

Not the only one

Boy with measles rash In the developed world, measles is seen as a mild condition - but it can kill

Is it because people in Africa are suddenly dying?

That seems unlikely. Dengue has a relatively low death rate, but it still kills up to 20,000 of the half a million people who are infected every year; that's an order of magnitude more than the worst Ebola outbreak, and yet barely a fifth of the number killed by measles every year.

And when you start to look at pathogens like pneumococcal and rotavirus - causes of the two biggest childhood killers, pneumonia and diarrhoea - the number of deaths rapidly climbs up into the high hundreds of thousands.


  • Dengue fever - up to 20,000 annually
  • Measles - 122,000 deaths globally in 2012
  • Ebola - 2014 outbreak - over 930 people

It is true that Ebola is also highly infectious, which drives away health workers who may understandably fear a needle stick.

But then so many others are more infectious, like measles, through air-droplets, and hepatitis B, which is transmitted by similar means to HIV but 50 times more infectious.

Perhaps then it has something to do with the fact that there is no cure and that 50%-90% of people infected will inevitably die.

Possibly, but then there is no cure for rabies either, and once someone develops symptoms they are almost 100% likely to die a slow and painful death, unless, that is, they have been vaccinated post-exposure.

And herein lies a clue.

The fact is while Ebola means a painful and isolated death, away from loved ones, there are other diseases that are horrific and equally deserving of both our fear and respect; diseases which, like Ebola, are still dreaded in West Africa and beyond, and which regularly kill hundreds of thousands of people throughout the world's poorest countries.

However, in wealthy countries, thanks to the availability of modern medicines, many of these diseases can now usually be treated or cured, and thanks to vaccines they rarely have to be.

Because of this blessing we have simply forgotten what it is like to live under threat of such infectious and deadly diseases, and forgotten what it means to fear them.

So when an outbreak like this comes along, from the comfort of our relatively disease-free surroundings it is only natural to look on in horror and be terrified by the prospect of something like Ebola making its way to our shores.

Attention 'welcome'

But while Ebola remains a genuine concern in West Africa, if it ever did make it to Europe or North America the chances of it spreading far are remote.

This is for two important reasons: first our disease surveillance is more stringent, and second Ebola kills or immobilises its host before they have much of a chance to spread it.

Boy being vaccinated Vaccination rates have fallen in some parts of the developed world

In reality, a bigger concern far closer to home is that some diseases which we once vanquished, like measles, rubella and pertussis, are now making a comeback.

Thanks to an insidious complacency we have seen significant drops in vaccination rates in many parts of the western world, to the extent that diseases are not only coming back but to levels where we are actually exporting them to poorer countries.

Why should we see deaths from diseases we have previously wiped out and for which we have safe and effective vaccinations?


And yet in these same wealthy countries people are now asking why there isn't an Ebola vaccine.

So the fact that this Ebola outbreak has received so much attention is something to be applauded.

For one thing it may help to accelerate the progress of some of the quite promising candidate drug treatments and vaccines whose development have otherwise been stalling.

More of a certainty is that it will help bring in improved emergency response plans in affected countries, measures which could help prevent any future outbreaks from spreading quite so fast and so far.

International spotlight

For people in West Africa who are currently trying to get through this terrible outbreak that will be of little comfort.

Even so, if casting the international spotlight onto Ebola helps to bring our notions of risk perception into sharper focus then that can't be a bad thing - not just in terms of boosting immunization rates at home.

But also if it helps to remind us that Ebola is not the exception, but rather just one example of the terrible norm - where thousands of men, women and children are dying from a range of horrible diseases every day - then perhaps that will bring the world a step closer to doing more about it.


Yashi Kochi!!!!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Sunday 26th October 2014…..clocks went back today!!!

I hope  you enjoyed the little jaunt down memory lane with me last week it was fun for me to read some of the older posts and to realize what a great time I have had these last 8 years….met some new wonderful friends…spent time my old friends…saw incredible vistas and travelled to new countries…..

So my life is still busy but loving every moment of it…the tennis is going great, the hiking magnificent and Paola doing really well and she is using her new retainer…..

We put the clocks back today so it will take a little time to adjust to that a sure sign that fall is on the way….

So tomorrow starts the last few days of October and it is almost three months since I arrived back from the Camino what memories…take care blessings and good to be here again…



Well I lost Internet yesterday so it is now Monday 27th October and today is my Dad’s Birthday!!!!


Today my Dad would have been 95 years of age


This is one of the last photos of Dad with his pride and joy his Great Grand son Tom!!!


Going into the archives for this one…Mum and Dad in Bermuda around 1975 when I was the bodyguard for the American Consul general and he invited my parents to his house for tea!!!

Miss you Dad and thanks for everything you did for me!!

So went hiking yesterday morning this time though there was 7 of us and thanks to Kerrie for driving us to the village we went to two weeks ago we were determined to find the cross that we have tried to hike to for three weeks now but this time we played it smart and we hired a local guide Luis….it was such a gorgeous day and away we went….



Some sights along the way!!!







What a beautiful horse!!!


At last we made it to the cross!!!!!



It was a great hike around 13 miles and a lot of that up hill………

So now relaxing and getting my lesson ready for my class tonight!!!!!!

Yashi Kochi!!!!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Saturday 25th October 2014…….The last day of earlier blogs!!!

I have enjoyed having these blogs from other years great memories and I have been very lucky and blessed and so fitting to end the walk down memory lane with my very first blog…wow 8 years ago!!!!!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Am I anxious to go? Will I miss the winters? Why do you want to leave? They say one picture replaces a 1000 words....I think the photo sums it all up, have a great day ....8 days and COUNTING!!!!!!


Yashi Kochi!!!!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday 24th October 2014….Day seven!!!

Another blog from the memory banks!!!!!

Tuesday 31st July 2012…..a bus day!!!

Woke up to a knock on my door at 7.45am and there was the owner with a plate of French toast and fruit!!!

At 8.30am I went downstairs and paid my bill $50 dollars for two great nights and I shook the owners hand and he said no he would take me the 300 meters to the bus office on his he put the big pack in front of his legs and I got on the back and off we went!

The first part was a mini bus to the main town 20 minutes away and a cost of 3 Lira…I had to wait 15 minutes for my bus to Antalya to arrive and this was a a big luxury bus….I went to the back seat which I had to myself and we left at 9.30am..this bus had two young men on board as attendants who brought round snacks and water….each seat had it’s own mini screen with movies and also a web cam at the front of the bus so you could see where we going!


  The cost of this section of the journey was 27 Lira and nearly 4 hours.

So now I am on the bus and with some time it gives me a chance to catch my breath….I left Nanaimo on 1st June and Janet and Malc and I left England on 4th June and they left me 30th June in Slovenia..what a journey!!

I have never travelled in this fashion and it was a challenge and one I looked forward to….and I really must state that so far it has been very easy.  In two months no issues no problems and I have enjoyed every single day.  I have tried to break up my journey so I am not on the go everyday packing and unpacking and I think I have done that too.

The rooms I have had without exception have been very acceptable, clean and cheap….the most I have paid for a room so far is $40 dollars!!!

I have met so many friendly, helpful, kind and generous people and my one couch surfing stop with Ina in Greece was delightful!!

It seems like every day there was a WOW factor…so many beautiful and wonderful sights….sights that I shall never forget and I am glad I have the blog to go back to in days ahead to relive the journey all over again.

One of my big concerns was getting from Montenegro to Greece….turns out really easy….the next challenge is the town I am going to after Side is an overnight journey and from there another overnight to Istanbul..I may look at air travel for that one.

Being in different rooms I am lucky I have not lost or left anything behind…..Heather and Kirby…..the back pack has worked out so well..thanks.

Apart from Turkey I have had a fridge either in my room or a communal kitchen and this have been so great for me with my strange eating habits and also saved money on restaurant food which I am not a great fan of.

I did hours of research and in my humble opinion it has paid off I have diversified my trip between the ancient, the modern and the wonderful ocean and mountain peaks.  I have done what I set out to do and now as we approach the last day of this fantastic month my mind starts to turn towards the next stage of my journey in September when I make a big move and change my living status from Nanaimo to San Miguel.

This is also a challenge that I accept and I see no reason why this move will not be all that it can be…I have been in SMA for at least three months every Winter for the past 5 years so I look forward to seeing all the seasons.

Of course my girls factor in a huge way especially with the changes that are taking place in Paola’s life….I will wait and see what I can do to maintain a relationship with her and you know me I will do that.  I also look forward to watching Daniela grow and I cannot wait to see how she turns out with those eyes the world is there for her.

I have many friends already in SMA a wide circle of tennis partners, the poker club and hopefully Linda and Guy will return…..the weather is perfect and the people the best…so I have a smile in my heart when I think where I shall be in a few weeks.

I guess the main issue when I get back to Nanaimo on 1st September is to sell my baby and best friend Ramona….I am going to market her properly in two weeks and hope there is some interest Heather has kindly agreed to show her to interested parties…so I hope to have her sold and then I will purchase a small SUV or something similar load up and leave Nanaimo on 17th September and be in SMA around a week later……so lots to look forward to.

This bus journey is great lots of leg room and now I am going to read up about Side and see what mischief I can get into there…

Ok now it is 11.30pm so I need to go back to the bus trip….. this bus had three attendants on it and maybe 20 passengers and they brought small package snacks and drinks often.  One of the attendants a young man about 21 years of age who could speak a little English seemed to take me under his wing.  he asked me where I was going after Antalya and I told him a town called Side.  from my research I already knew that I had to get on another bus in Antalya and get off before the turn off to side and then take a mini bus into the town. So the kid asked me if I had a ticket and I tell him no so he asks me for 10 Lira…….at this point I was really confused but I think he was telling me he would get me a ticket on the next stage of the bus leg anyway I gave him 10 Lira and off he went to the front of the bus.

A while later he comes back and hands me a ticket and tells me to stay on the bus when we get to Antalya and that this bus would drop me off at the junction to Side.  Well this sounded too good to be true but when we got to the huge bus station in Antalya about half the people got off and the bus left right away I was watching the road signs and sure enough we were going in the right direction for Side.  Then the kid came back to me and gave me a Turkey key chain!!!!!!  Unfortunately the Canadian key chains I brought over for gifts were in my back pack underneath the bus.  That is not the end of the story he then asks me where I was staying and he pulls out his cell phone and starts talking.  When he was finished tells me there will be a taxi waiting for me when the bus drops me off.  So around 3pm the bus stops right at the turn off to Side and there is the taxi…I shook hands and thanked the kid!!!!

I knew from here to my hotel was about 3km and it involved taking a mini bus then a walk of about 500 meters and the bus would cost me 1.5 Lira…so I asked the taxi driver how much to my hotel and he tells me 20 Lira..I smiled and said no thanks and I walked across the road to the bus stop and within 5 minutes the bus came and by 3.30pm I was in my hotel room…does it get any easier??

For 27 dollars a night I get a third floor very small room but very clean, a balcony, a fan, separate bathroom and in the hall a fridge!!!



View from my balcony


and the other way

DSCF3719Ruins and a mosque!!!

The front of the hotel

DSCF3722which is right on the ocean.

This is a most unusual town when I walked through the old gates to the town there are literally ruins everywhere but get into the center of town amid ruins there are these very tacky tourists shops…hundreds of them with tacky English and German tourists everywhere…it reminds me of a sea side town in England….not my cup of tea at all BUT other things to see.

A new friend on a forum Angela has been so helpful to me in arranging things here and she has put me in touch with a tour guide named Abdullah who she tells me I can trust implicitly!!!

So I called him and arranged for him to come to the hotel at 6pm.

before he came I walked around a bit and checked other tour agencies it seems they are all governed by one corporation and charge the same prices!!

Abdullah was on time and I liked him and one of my main concern was when I leave here on Friday I have a long journey about 500km to the next place I want to visit and getting there involves a few buses and an overnight trip….but one of Abdullah’s trips is to the same town so to make a long story short I have signed up with him for his 3 day trip to that town and it will cost me 130 Lira which includes transportation, tours and two nights hotel and I will just stay in the town and not come back with the tour…this is a great deal especially when the two other tour agents I checked quoted me 170 Lira!!! when you figure apart from the hassle of getting there it would be at least 45 Lira on the bus, then 2 nights in a hotel plus all the hotels…so a happy camper.

Other things Abdullah is doing for me was to show me where to get an authentic Turkish shave and a haircut and tomorrow morning I have booked a three hours full Turkish bath/massage/whatever  for 40 Lira and on Thursday I will rent a scooter for the day… that worked out great thanks Angela!!!

So off I went for my haircut!!!


All this time I have been missing my tea and here they offer me the famous Turkish tea and I say yes and it is lovely!!!!


DSCF3730Ali, my barber, was a great kid spoke English and even knew about my soccer team Sheffield United!!!

The haircut was really up….


Never had a straight razor shave before…he was good…next…


This was hard to explain..he had like dental floss which he wrapped around his fingers then put the other end in his mouth and like flicked it over my eyebrows and nose and it was just a little ouchie!!!!

Next up the open flame!!!!!!

DSCF3736The ceremonial burning of the ear, nose and eyebrow hair!!!!


Finally a good shampoo and conditioner, a face wash and I was done!!!!!


I really enjoyed everything and Ali was a good guy..the cost 25 Lira…worth every penny.

Went to another kebab place for supper…


Then walked around town..



Two blocks away..



DSCF3754Almost a full moon!!!

Came back to the hotel stocked up the fridge with drinks and ready for bed.

This is the journey I took today..


From X to Y

Then on Friday


From X to Y

So again I have been impressed with how easy it has all been and again my only negative comment about it all is the smoking!!!!!!  Every one smokes everywhere!!!!!


Yashi Kochi!!!!

Thursday 5 th January 2023…it was a great run!!!

 This was my first ever blog post back in November of 2006!!! With just a couple of days off I have written a blog every day since and I hav...