Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Jan’s Pyjamas

Jan walked out of the bedroom after her shower yesterday evening wearing the new pyjamas she purchased during our recent holiday in the UK.  They are covered in small printed slices of watermelon.  I’m convinced this is part of a ‘cunning plan’ to ensure I stay on my side of the bed. 

To explain this I have to wind the clock back 39 years.  We were living in Singapore where I held the appointment of Deputy Force Engineer for the NZ Forces in South East Asia.  The ‘sharp end’ of the force was an infantry battalion and a flight of helicopters.  These were supported by logistics elements, including my engineer maintenance unit which was responsible for maintaining the camp buildings and grounds.  A good appointment which was 9 – 5 and working in an office.  No requirement to go off to the jungle which is hot, dirty and full of nasty bugs and animals.  Three months into my new appointment the NZ Army decided to participate in a joint brigade exercise with the Malaysian Army.  This would involve two Malaysian’s battalions and the NZ battalion.  Some bright spark on the NZ planning staff offered NZ support to conducted the battle simulation for the final brigade attack on the last day of the exercise.  Battle simulation involves the laying of explosive charges to simulate mortar and artillery fire.  The Malaysian’s accepted the NZ offer.

Subsequently the NZ planning staff discovered they had no one in the battalion who held a Demolitions Certificate (explosives license).  Actually they was only one qualified NZ officer in the theatre….. Me!   That’s how I found myself departing my comfortable air conditioned office being sent to the jungle with five soldiers and a truck load of explosives where we were to prepare the battle simulation.

We were duly dropped off at the location of the final battle.  Two thirds of the terrain was jungle and one third a former watermelon plantation.  I say former because the plantation had failed when the land became exhausted.  Using two large tarpaulins we create a shelter for the explosives and a separate shelter to sleep under.  No rations had been provided as I was told we would receive a ‘hot box’ meal delivery three times daily.  There was no mobile phone coverage (mobiles hadn’t been invented) and our short range radio couldn’t reach the main exercise area.  It would only be used on the final day as part of the exercise radio safety net.  The first task was to cover the explosives and then we set about establishing a comfortable campsite cutting timber from the jungle to make stretchers which would get us off the ground and away from the bugs.

That evening the ration vehicle didn’t arrive.  The five soldiers looked at me expectantly. “Don’t worry… it will arrive!”  says me.  It didn’t……  Dawn breaks the next morning and no ration truck.  Stomachs are growling.  “Guess what’s for breakfast guys…… pick yourself a cool juicy watermelon!”

Noon and no ration truck…. “Watermelon for lunch guys…… It’s very healthy”.  By that evening they had realised there wasn’t going to be a ration vehicle….. we’d been forgotten.   For nine days we ate watermelon… NINE DAYS!    To this day I STILL HATE WATERMELON!!!!!!

To something more interesting.  I’ve been recycling the timber from the old wardrobe removed from the master bedroom.  Its been converted into shelving which has now been installed in the garage.  Of course I over engineered it and the shelving proved too heavy to move on my own.  that’s where Jan came in useful.  She’s younger and stronger than me.  Don’t listen to the excuses of being a great grandmother.  Anyone who wears pyjamas with a watermelon pattern can do this.

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This has freed up some space in the garage. 

The really interesting news is we received a visit today from a couple of Kiwi blog readers.  Geoff & Irene were early starters and have stuck with us ever since.  It was great to finally met and exchange news.  Somehow the subject of toilets arose! 

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We had a lovely BBQ lunch together and somehow I fluked it with the meat.  Nothing under or over done!  Thanks for visiting Geoff & Irene

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