Saturday, 10 January 2009

Reflections: Farewell to Christchurch


I will be heading to the airport in an hour. You can see it in the top of the photo above if you look hard enough. Christchurch-Singapore-Jakarta is my route. I now have new knees and look forward to getting back to my family and work in Indonesia. I am in charge of a massive International Red Cross Tsunami operation plus other humanitarian work.

What an amazing two months in New Zealand following a process of recovery after major surgery. (Total Knee Replacement in both knees)So many images are stuck in my brain. Kind and caring nurses, highly professional surgeons, and a very capable physiotherapist, Leslie kettle. With such supportive friends and family around me, I was determined to utilise the goodwill and support to ensure I achieved the best possible recovery. This morning I walked briskly for over an hour and the knees are so strong and responsive. I still have some way to go but I am feeling so satisfied with the results. Thanks Ed Newman for a wonderful operation in replacing my two knees. Here are a few images of my recovery in Christchurch. It simply was another journey where I had to explore the process of post surgical recovery.


18 November 2008. A few hours before the operation, surgeon Ed Newman marks the lines on my legs to guide he and his computer, in giving me Total Knee Replacements in both legs.


The night before the operation, meeting up with old school friend and fellow rugby player and athlete, Nev Cleveland. Nev flew down from Auckland for the night. Photo: Ruia McKerrow


A half-drugged me, shortly after the operation, with Aroha, my daughter. Aroha and her sister Ruia cared for me as I am sure Florence Nightingale would have, if she were alive. Photo: Ruia McKerrow



The path to recovery. After the operation it was standing and walking the next day, physiotherapy and an exercise machine to keep the knee moving. Photo: Ruia McKerrow


Leaving the hospital after nine days is a sweet memory. It was a sunny day and I could see all the way to the Southern Alps. I felt fragile and was paranoid about tripping or someone banging into my knees.


Catching up with my family was a highlight for me. Last Saturday I had a farewell breakfast with my daughters. Photo: Bob McKerrow

Colin Monteath dropped round to see me a number of times. A world-famous photographer and Polar traveller, our friendship goes back to 1969. It was friends like Colin, and family coming to see me, which lifted my spirits considerably, in those days when there was a lot of pain.


A few days ago I went swimming with three of my daughters at Brighton. Afterwards we walked out on the pier. What a wonderful piece of architecture. The community raised 2 million dollars to help pay for this and it takes you out on the wild sea. Photo: Bob McKerrow


Looking from the end of New Brighton Pier across the sea to Sumner and the hills. Photo: Bob McKerrow


At the end of New Brighton Pier with two of my daughters, both pregnant. Tania left, and Kira right.



Researching, writing and interviewing mountaineers was another memorable part of my recovery. I spend quality time with Peter and Elizabeth McCormack for the posting on Ralph Warburton. Photo: Bob McKerrow


As soon as I was well enough, I had a small party for friends in Christchuch, and friends passing through.Front row l to r: Bob Headland, Robin Judkins and Bob McKerrow. Back row: Ed Cotter, Suzanne and Phil Ryder, Tara Kloss and Colin Monteath Photo: Robb Kloss


For me the party was an important milestone as it celebrated my friendship with people like Colin Monteath, who I have known for 40 years, plus new friends I have meet through blogging such as Robb and Tara Kloss (Tara 2nd from the right at the rear), and Jamie Stewart.



A few days before I left, I travelled to Arthur's Pass with Robin Judkins. It was a chance to meet old friends, both human and mountains. Looking up to the Bealey Face of Mt.Rolleston. Photo: Bob McKerrow


It was a joy to meet again with my former athletics coach, Brian Taylor, who lives in Christchurch and coaches some of New Zealand's leading athletes. Brian coached me from the age of 14 to 20, and as a group, we did some revoluntionary training, an expanded version of Arthur Lydiard's methods. In those days we ran more than 130 miles a week with often a 26 mile run over the hills of Dunedin on a Sunday. Unknowingly at the time, this endurance conditioning prepared me for exploration in later life and I owe a lot to Brian.



Brian Taylor with some of the athletes he coaches. Photo: Bob McKerrow



Forty-seven years after he started coaching, Brian Taylor is still putting in hundred of voluntary hours a month coaching young people. It is role models like this that produce great sportspeople in New Zealand. They are New Zealand's unsung heroes. Photo: Bob McKerrow

I am still very attached to the mountains, rivers, lakes and sea and I get very emotional when soneone is lost, or dies. When Irina Yun went missing, I was hoping and praying for her to be found alive. She comes from the same country as Naila, my wife, Kazakhstan so I felt helpless. If only I had a helicopter and could help in the rescue. She leave a four year old daughter behind. I struggle to keep back my tears. ( I just heard the search was called off last night, 11 January 2009) One Japanese climber and one Australian died on Mt. Cook, trampers, hunters died as did many on our lakes and rivers.


I got to know every blade of grass on Edgar MacIntosh Park, at the rear of my house in Bryndwyr. I recall the first time I gingerly walked 100 m. The next day I went another tree further, 20m. Slowly, slowly I was able to walk around its 500 m circumference with Diva, my daughter's dog. I spent days in this park smalling the grass, watching the branches on the trees reach for the sky, children splashing in the paddling pool, and people playing cricket on this charming village green. Now I walk for an hour in the park. Photo: Bob McKerrow

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Each weekend my park was transformed into a village cricket green when the Merrivale-Papanui cricket club battled against other Canterbury sides. Photo: Bob McKerrow


For five days I looked after Robin Judkins house, his Mercedes Benz, BMW, 2 dogs, a cat, a tribe of rabbits and various birds. The views from his house over Sumner beach were superb. Photo: Bob McKerrow


The view from Robin Judkin's house towards Sumner Beach and the Pacific Ocean. Photo: Bob McKerrow


Reflecting on my two months in New Zealand, there were so many highlights. Meeting family and friends were tops. Robb and Tara Kloss stayed with Ruia and I for a few days and I thoroughly enjoyed their company. Here, is Robb in the centre with Himalayan mountain climber, Ed Cotter (right). Ed climbed with Sir Edmund Hillary on the 1952 NZ Alpine Club Gawhal expedition and is a close family friend.



On many mornings when out walking the ever-reddening sky would display signs of changing weather through the appearance of the nor'west arch. Photo: Bob McKerrow


At a Christmas barbecue at my daughter's farmlet in Otipua, near Timaru. Photo: Bob McKerrow


The only people I haven't acknowledged are the Taxi drivers in Christchurch. When family were at work, I had to use Taxis to get to physio appointments.
Christchurch Taxi drivers are a warm, friendly and helpful mixed bunch. The majority were Chinese students studying in New Zealand, one from Cambodia, and others from other parts of Asia. During the early days of December, an Afghan Taxi driver was murdered on night service which stunned the whole of Christchurch. Abdhurahman Ikhtiari was a 39 year old father of five young children. The people of Christchurch very generously donated to a special fund for his family. In over 40 years travelling and working round the world, I have always found Bus, Taxi, Truck and Rickshaw drivers helpful as they have their ears to the ground. Usually they warn you of any impending security risk, and keep you abreast of sport, religion, politics, good bargains and many other subjects.

Farewell Christchurch. As I fly over the Southern Alps I will have a long look, which may be my last for a long time, at your exquisite beauty and form.

Ka kite ano.

Bob



27 comments:

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Bob,
Your presence here in Aotearoa was felt by so many. Travel safely, may you continue your amazing recovery, and I look forward to reading of your first climbs! We await your return.
Cheers,
Robb

Bob McKerrow said...

Kia Ora Robb

Just switchiung the computer off before I go to the airport and I see your comments.

People like you and Tara brought sunshine into my life when I was hurting in those early days and you all made the recovery easier.

Life is full of surprises. Just took Deva the dog for a walk and she bolted at a rubbish truck and in trying to grab her, stabbed my forearm on a sharp branch. Quite a nasty puncture wound. Nature or someone teaches us lessons hourly. I nice puncture wound.

We will keep in touch brother.

Ka kite ano

Bob

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Bob,
I just happened to have checked our phone messages and got your call. Sorry about that mate,we were a bit slack over the holidays and gone quite a bit, would have liked to have spoken with you as well. Anything you need just get hold of me. Hope your trip was a good one and you are safely in the bosom of family.
Cheers,
Robb

Bob McKerrow said...

Kia ra Robb

Arrived safely last night after a long trip. Such a joy to be with the family again. Don't concern yourself about the phone call. Just keen to have a chat. Off for a long walk with the boys soon. It's the rainy season with flooding, lightening and thunder.

Cheers
Bob

Sel Donaldson said...

Hi Bob, My saughter Stella, friend Stef and I sat next to you on the way out to Christchurch when your adventure began. I am so pleased to read that you made a good recovery and had such wonderful times with your friends and family. My holiday was wonderful too! Though much shorter than yours, I also caught up with lots of friends and family and introduced Stella to her tangata whenua.

Hope your journey back has gone without event and that your reunion with your other family has been joyous.

Kind regards,
Sel (and Stella!)
ps you were such a help on the plane - thank you so much! my grandmother was quite taken with my stories of you and kept repeating them to people, each time with a new fictional detail, so you emerged quite a superhero in the end!

Marja said...

Good luck with your new mission and
happy that you took good memories with you to indonesia Family and friends are such treasures. I waved out my brother today with pain in my heart who has enjoyed the beauty of this country thouroughly.
Happy new year!!

Bob McKerrow said...

Dear Sel and Stella

Wonderful to hear from you. It was great to be a ftllow traveller with you both. Pleased that you had a good holiday. The knees are working out well and feel so positive about the future.

Best wishes for the future. Bob

Bob McKerrow said...

Dear Marja

Wonderful to hear from you again. Your brothetr's travels in Indonesia is something I think of and I am sure I will cross the patrh he has trod. Eventually we all tred the same path but by different feeders.

Take care. Good luck. Bob

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Bob,
I trust your reunion was a fine one, and are no doubt busy reaquainting yourself with family and work. Just dropping by to say Kia ora, and thank you once again for your presence here online, but more so in real life. It was a distinct and treasured pleasure.
Rangimarie,
Robb

Bob McKerrow said...

Gid'day mate!
It has been a joyous reunion and have spent the last two days with the boys at football tournaments.
Thursday and Friday I was in the Tsunami affected area of Aceh so its been a busy week. Got a posting this week only on the boys football site a few minutes ago. I am the official team blogger.

Take care.

Bob

PATERIKA HENGREAVES, Poet Laureate said...

Kia ora Bob

I'm delighted that you have made it safely back to Jakarta from post-recovery surgery in Christchurch. You have been a remarkable patient surrounded by an obviously caring and loving family of daughters and who will soon be extending your family tree . Also friends you have known for years. I'm elated in the knowledge that you are quite fit now to return to your humanitarian work. You are blessed and you are needed in your work that is why the healing process progressed so well and will continue to do so thus allowing you to do all those things you like doing the best and with your boys.

Wow! Christchurch is bigger than Barbados. It looks like a well kept garden in that aerial picture. No wander it is called the Garden City. Thank you very much for the generous flow of pictures aptly complementing your retracing of your journey to Christchurch and back to Indonesia. I like too the village cricket scene picture. Could you send me a copy of that picture, the source will be acknowledge of course. West Indian Cricket has declined for sometime now. The trashing they recently got in New Zealand was humiliating indeed. West Indian Cricketeers must find a formula that will give them back their winning ways; and until they do so, sadly, I'll sit on the fence and mope. The barbecue pictures at one of your daughter's farmlet are gorgeous. Are those pohutukawa trees in the background, those with the silvery blooms?

I wish your and you family both in New Zealand and in Jakarta the very best for the New Year and years to come fully loaded with love, health and prosperity.

My next reading takes me to another interesting headline, Sir Lance-lot. I wonder what he is up to now.

Cheers
Paterika

Bob McKerrow said...

Dear Paterika

Thanks for your encouraging feedback. First of all, it is not Pohutukawa trees in the background of the photo. I am not sure what they are. Will find out and let you know.

Please feel free to use any of my photos. Just copy them directly from the blog.

the WI cricket did well, and only just lost. Gayle is an outstanding player, clearly the best of both NZ and WI. Some of the younger players let the Captain down. I see Chris Gayle as a great cricketer who could bevcome the world's best batsmen.

I am enjoying being back again, but very busy. northern Indonesia last week, Geneva next week. Off to inspect some badly flooded areas in Jakarta this afternoon. Terrble monsson rains here.

Howare you finding the book on Afghanistan ?

Take care.

Bob

Anonymous said...

Dearest! Without you knowing it, I have been following your writing in the last month (at least).Thank you for sharing both words and pictures! You look really great! Love Nina

Bob McKerrow said...

Kia Ora Nina

I am pleased you have enjoyed my blog. With such a vibrant world there is so much to write about.

Take care. warm regards

Bob

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