Covid-19, New Zealand, April 8th

Midnight tonight sees the completion of our first 2 weeks of a potential 4 week lock down. So far, so good here in New Zealand. The rapid imposition of lock down seems to be having the right effect in that our total cases still number only 1,160 with just one death. Yesterday’s new cases fell from previous days. Cautious optimism.

Here at home there is little effect, and that is not to say that we are being at all complacent. We still have our visitors from the UK which means that our food consumption is doubled and that Claire has to make more trips to the supermarket, which is the only place that we are vulnerable to infection. The supermarket has strict controls on movement plus facilities for wiping trolley handles. Direct and indirect contact with staff is avoided where possible e.g. no cash, just cards, ideally using no-contact Pay Wave. After the initial panic buying the situation has settled down and everything seems to be available so far. NZ is fairly well placed as far as self sufficiency is concerned.

The ‘Bear in a Window’ idea has really caught on and many homes now have a furry toy peeping out of a window, for the amusement of passing children (and adults).

Fortunately the weather has been perfect. Sunny days with no wind and just ideal for walking. We are going out for at least a 1 hour walk each day in our local neighbourhood, which means that we can just reach the country and walk along roads that are very, very quiet now. We are also taking our 14 1/2 year old Labrador, Roxie, out for her twice daily but now very slow walks.

There is good news in that our two guests have managed to book confirmed seats on an Air Malaysia flight to the UK, leaving Wellington on an initial Air New Zealand flight to Auckland on Monday 13th April. They are obviously very keen to get back home. Full marks to UK Trailfinders for a first class service.

The grass still needs cutting and Claire continues to potter in the garden, so all normal there. Plenty of stuff on the TV.

Once again we sincerely thank those people in essential jobs who are out there in the thick of it, working to keep our lives running so normally.


Covid 19 Lock Down

As the world closes its doors and we all face serious restrictions on our movements, an opportune time to communicate with other countries.

Here in New Zealand it is Friday 27th March and we are in our second day of a potential minimum 28 day lock down. What does this mean? Our situation has been aptly described as living in a bubble which includes those we are living with but excludes other bubbles of people. Generally we should stay at home although we are free to walk and cycle as long as we always stay at least 2 metres away from other people. Travel is restricted to essential trips to the supermarket or pharmacy and each house should have it’s designated shopper, ideally a younger person under the age of 70 if you are a family of older people. This task falls to my wife Claire who meets the criteria, whereas I don’t! Shoppers are carefully controlled at the supermarkets to avoid crowding and close contact. Payment by card not cash.

Our situation is rather unusual in that for many months we had expected a couple of friends to visit from the UK, arriving last Sunday morning – which they duly did after two weeks touring the South Island. They are now stranded with us for the foreseeable future! A bit of a test of friendship. Absolutely no problems so far. Like many a family/group isolated together we have agreed a few guidelines to ensure that we have time to ourselves and don’t end up killing each other. Otherwise it is interesting to discover the food fads of people when it comes to selecting menues.

Despite being in the vulnerable older age group, in many ways we have some advantages. We are used to not going out to work and keeping ourselves busy at home, and not least we have a regular income in pension form. Not so for many people who have lost their jobs, although the NZ government is doing stirling work to maintain incomes for everyone.

Finally a thought for all those who are employed in essential services from the medical staff to transport staff and certainly supermarket assistants. We will all owe them a considerable debt of gratitude.

I will update our NZ situation as and when.

Mystery dog tags

This is a totally new subject but it is very intruiging. It goes back to WWII and concerns an Australian man in the RAAF, an Englishman in the Royal Artillery and a set of military dog tags.

For the story go on-line to BBC Radio Wales and find the podcast of a programme by Lynn Bowles which was broadcast on Sunday 28th August.

Why am I mentioning it? Well, the Australian man is my wife’s father – my father-in-law. Sadly both men are now dead and so the mystery will probably never be solved.

Can anybody add anything? Has anybody come across ‘double use’ dog tags before? You can message me via this website.

The mystery is compounded by the fact that they are stainless steel and the information is engraved. Common dog tags were stamped out of thinner material and were, in fact, usually made of a fibre material for UK servicemen. One tag was green and octagonal and the other round and red. Procedure was that the round one (red, blood) was removed from a body for later record keeping. The octagonal one (green, grass) was left with the body.

Learning curve?

I think I may finally be learning what to do with a website! This is possibly due to finding more time to play about with it. Anyway, I have updated it and will try to blog a bit more often. Somebody might be interested!

I am currently seeing book sales experience a noticeable surge since the start of broadcasting of “In the Middle of Nowhere” as a ‘speaking book’ on

Slow but Sure

Just transferred another £63.00 of royalties to Medecines Sans Frontieres, bringing the total donated from royalties etc to £724.00.

Sales continue at about 12 a month.

I recently gave a talk on ‘In the Middle of Nowhere’ to a local group which resulted in the sale of 1 paperback. As the group consisted of the visually impaired I thought that 1 copy was good! I am currently recording the book at our local community radio station and this will be broadcast in some 24 weekly episodes starting in (hopefully) August. This will also mean that a ‘talking book’ will be available on CD.

For the convenience of overseas listeners the weekly broadcasts will be available as podcasts from, as is my current weekly music and entertainment programme.

Books keep selling

You will all probably think “What a miserable website, nothing very interesting”. Well, yet again this is just another boring update on book sales and donations to MSF. Christmas saw a big increase in paperback sales, a total of 29, easily beating the previous monthly record of 10. Overall sales of paperback and ebook combined are now averaging 9 a month. The latest result is another £66.00 to MSF bringing the total donated to £661.00.

By the way, you can now tune into my radio programme on-line at any time at Look for ‘Great Tracks and Side Tracks’, broadcast every Wednesday lunchtime 12.30 to 14.00 or at any time via download. Requests to or via the Coast Access Radio.

By the way, here is a pic of myself and Claire at the recent Napier Art Deco weekend.



Continuing cash for MSF

At last a much improved reporting system by Amazon now gives me better sight of my sales. It has always been difficult to identify the paperback sales but Amazon has now consolidated these into its overall report and analysis is much easier. I can now see that since the start of publication in May 2017, in addition to the 182 ebooks I knew I had sold, I have also sold 77 paperbacks. What good news! This means that average sales of both versions is just over 8 a month. Interestingly the paperback sales are increasing, supporting the popular view that the ebook is not going to replace the paper printed word in the near future, if at all.

To the end of 2018, therefore, the all important figures are:-

Total donations to MSF have reached £595.00, of which £341.00 is directly from on-line book sales and the remainder is from the magazine article and paperback sales in our local bookshop. Many thanks to all who have bought one or both books.

Hopefully 2019 will continue at the same sort of pace.

Happy New Year to you all.

Latest cash for MSF

Well, I was just short of £500.00 on my last blog and I am happy to say that I have surged past that with recent sales, and the total contribution is now £532.00 thanks to sales of 36 copies over the last 5 months. £1,000.00 here we come!

To put things into perspective, each e book sold makes just £0.80 in royalties ($US 1.40). I also sell the odd paperback which brings in a bit more. The book is no Fifty Shades of Grey and my name isn’t J.K.Rowling or Michael Palin, so it is somewhat to my surprise that sales have steadied at around 6 or 7 a month, which I find most satisfying. A Red Letter Day would be sales of more than two on a single day!

It is also interesting to monitor the visits to my website. Just had my first Chinese visitor.

All good fun and all in a very worthy cause.

More for MSF

Well, book sales continue to trickle out and I am happy to report that since my last donation in April, sales have amounted to a further £45.00 to MSF, bringing the total to £497.32. A bit of a milestone coming up then, £500.00.

MSF are having a recruitment drive in Wellington at the end of August. Ah, to be young enough to volunteer. But donations are better than nothing.


Why Bounceabout?  Firstly, nothing to do with my size or shape. The name came about when we were living in Indonesia in 1987. We had bought a little Suzuki Jimney 4×4 vehicle. Despite its size and small engine, this car would happily tackle all sorts of off-road terrain. I started planning trips up into the mountains to include other members of our field team with 4x4s. From somewhere came the name Bounceabout Tours – because we……..bounced about. I subsequently joined the local Hash House Harriers  and you may be aware that one of the requirements is that runners have to have a Hash Name. I was duly christened Bounceabout and since then I have found it a convenient name to use at times.

Our Jimney
The Jimney

Towing out a Landcruiser
Towing out a Landcruiser