Sunday, February 15, 2009


We leave Oamaru tomorrow, for two weeks in Alexandra, a town which shares a name with my wife (Gay Alexandra), my granddaughter (Alexandra, born the day I met Gay Alexandra, 25 years ago), and my youngest grandson (Alessandro, aged four and a half, with his name nearer to the Greek original and one of the most skilful and motivational military leaders in world history, Alexandros - Alexander the Great). I also have a great-nephew called Alexander - maybe all this is just another way of Alexander conquering the world.

We have walked almost 100 kms during our week here and have learned more about the town, which was once the same size as Los Angeles (as it was at the same time), and the history of its wonderful buildings.

Time for a couple of corrections. I mentioned recently that viruses are becoming resistant to antibiotics and that they are mutating away from the ability of the antibiotics to deal with them. My statement was of course nonsense. My very good friend Margaret Gregson in Alberta has gently pointed this out to me. As she says:

“I have always been told that antibiotics fight bacteria but there is nothing you can do to fight viruses except give vaccinations before you catch them to make you produce antibodies in your own immune system. Then the over prescribing of antibiotics for mild bacterial infections is what is making the clever little bacteria mutate and become immune and also the practice of adding antibiotics to animal feed to make sure they stay healthy and get fat.(another point in favour of vegetarianism!). If they worked on you then you must have had a bacterial lung infection I would think.”

I admit that I do not know a virus from a bacterium or a spot from a pimple. Thanks to Margaret, I am now better informed. By the way, Margaret is not a vegetarian.

Another mistake I made was when I said how splendid is Cardno’s Accommodation in the Catlins, and how wonderful the hosts, Lyn and Selwyn Cardno. None of that was incorrect, but I omitted to mention the other member of their team - Otto. Otto is schnauzer dog and nobody who stays with Lyn and Selwyn can fail to notice him. He is a very well-behaved dog, except when Selwyn is trying to command him. The visitor’s book is replete with references to him. Sorry, Otto, we think you are great

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