Monday, August 23, 2010

Last Minute Hitches

Life's like that! All appears to be going swimmingly well, then Fate throws a spanner at your spokes in an attempt to derail all those well laid plans. This time the spanner came close...

With thoughts firmly set on Thursday 2 September, a mild smirk could be detected on my face as I considered all those teaching collaegues who would not soon be winging it across to enjoy Cannock Chase, Blithfield Reservoir, Doxey Marshes, etc. Then the postman delivered that letter from the Transport Dept, a brief note to remind me that my driver's licence expires on my next birthday - a week into our U.K. trip!

Ordinarily no problem. These days one can even renew online, except if one happens to be diabetic -in which case the law requires that a GP tests your eyesight on an annual basis and confirms that you are sufficiently sighted not to pose a serious problem on the Queen's highways and byways.

Again, ordinarily no problem, well not in a metropolitan setting where GPs are a penny a dozen and if your regular doctor is over-booked you simply go along to another. But Nanango is country and here doctors are almost as rare as chicken's teeth - over-subscibed and working flat strap to keep up with the demand. To give you an example, on an earlier trip, simply to seek repeat diabetes prescriptions, my 1630 appointment stretched to 1750.

Last Thursday I thought I'd be smart and requested an early appointment. Yes, the doctor could squeeze me in at 0815. I duly informed the Principal [headmaster] that I could be a little late, that my immediate colleague [a simple partition divides our respective classrooms] could keep an eye on my class until I turned up. At 0850 I simply lost patience and informed the receptionist that I had run out of time, was expected back at school and would telephone from there during my lunch break.

We rescheduled for 1500; school ends at 1500 and its a 30-minute drive from Blackbutt [where I teach] to Nanango! No problems. I would leave at 1430, again my colleague would keep an eye on the class while I whizzed off to have an eye test. I arrived at 1455 and was eventually called through to the doctor's surgery at 1615.

Still, the important part had been achieved, I had successfully completed an eye test and had the necessary medical confirmation that I was sufficiently sighted to be allowed loose behind a steering wheel. For those interested, I have 20/20 vision in my left eye while my right eye leaves a little to be desired but nevertheless continues to operate at above 60%.

After school on Friday afternoon I raced through from Blackbutt to Nanango and on to the regional captial at Kingaroy, around an hour's travelling. I walked through the Transport Dept. doors at 1555. They close their doors at 1600!

That particular last minute crisis is over, I have my renewed licence in my wallet

Not all was conducted at such a hectic pace over those few days. There were quiet, more sedate moments. I heard the first Olive-backed Oriole of the season calling from somewhere on the school grounds. A pair of Noisy Friarbirds, again the first of the season, cavorted in the gum tree at the school entrance. A Wonga Pigeon boomed from somewhere in the distance and the usual assortment of Torresian Crows, Australian Magpies, Pied Currawongs and the ubiquitous Noisy Miners scurried around discarded lunch wrappings in search of leftover tasty morsels.

Life's never as bad as it seems as long as there's a bird or two in your sights.

Don't forget to look out for the obvious Aussies doing the usual birding haunts in and around Staffordshire during September. Say "Gidday, mate" and in true Aussie tradition I'll buy you a pint at the nearest watering hole.

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