Hawaiian Style 12 Days of Christmas Song

As promised – I’ll be posting some of the unique Hawaiian-style holiday traditions.  This one is a good place to start.  A tutu is a grandmother, or, generally, any older woman who might be close to the family.  The rest I think is pretty self-evident. The tenth day has changed a bit over the years as when we arrived it was ‘ten cans of Primo’ – a local brew that has since gone out of business.

The keiki hula halau is performing in Kona at the Hulihee Palace.


Twelve Days of Christmas
Pidgin lyrics by Eaton Bob Magoon, Jr., Edward Kenny, Gordon N. Phelps

Numbah one day of Christmas
My tutu gave to me
One mynah bird in one papaya tree

Numbah two day of Christmas
My tutu gave to me
2 coconuts and
One mynah bird in one papaya tree

Numbah three day of Christmas
My tutu gave to me
3 dried squid
2 coconuts and
One mynah bird in one papaya tree

Numbah four day of Christmas
My tutu gave to me
4 flower leis,
3 dried squid
2 coconuts and
One mynah bird in one papaya tree

Numbah five day of Christmas
My tutu gave to me
5 big fat pigs
4 flower leis
3 dried squid,
2 coconuts and
One mynah bird in one papaya tree

Numbah six day of Christmas
My tutu gave to me
6 hula lessons,
(continue 5 4 3 2)
One mynah bird in one papaya tree

Numbah seven day of Christmas
My tutu gave to me
7 shrimps a swimming
(continue 6 5 4 3 2)
One mynah bird in one papaya tree

Numbah eight day of Christmas
My tutu gave to me
8 ukuleles,
(continue 7 6 5 4 3 2)
One mynah bird in one papaya tree

Numbah nine day of Christmas
My tutu gave to me
9 pounds of poi
(continue 8 7 6 5 4 3 2)
One mynah bird in one papaya tree

Numbah ten day of Christmas
My tutu gave to me
10 cans of beer
(continue 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2)
One mynah bird in one papaya tree

Numbah eleven day of Christmas
My tutu gave to me
11 missionaries
(continue 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2)
One mynah bird in one papaya tree

Numbah twelve day of Christmas
My tutu gave to me
12 televisions
(continue 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2)
One mynah bird in one papaya tree

Source: Lyrics sung to tune of Partridge In A Pear Tree

Thanksgiving in the Islands

Things aren’t, in general, so very different here from the mainland. Most folks still cook a turkey, but sides may include the local favorite ‘potato-mac’ salad – basically a combo of potato and macaroni salad in one, sometimes with bits of pineapple, or another local favorite, potato salad made with white potatos and purple Okinawan sweet potatoes. Dessert might be pumpkin pie, but is just as likely to be haupia – either in a pie or as a sliced pudding – consistency is similar to jello and it is made from coconut.  In case you want to try something different, here’s a recipe:


2 Package Frozen Coconut Milk (defrosted)
8 Ounce Granulated Sugar
1 Drop lemon extract
3 Cup water
4 Ounce cornstarch

In a sauce pot combine defrosted coconut milk, sugar, lemon extract and 2 cups water.
Place on stove and cook on medium heat.
In a small bowl combine cornstarch and 1 cup warm water to make a slurry.
When the coconut mixture comes to a boil, stir slurry in briskly.
Reduce to med-low heat. Cook for 3 minutes stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and pour into pan.
Immediately cover with plastic wrap. Make sure it is touching the haupia completely.
Refrigerate at least 3-4 hours – overnight is best.
Cut into 2” squares. Arrange on platter. Garnish with Toasted Coconut, Fresh Fruit and enjoy.

For a creamier haupia, replace 1 cup of water with 1 cup of whole milk.

Or try a Lilikoi Swirled Haupia: Reserve 1 cup of hot haupia and mix 2 oz of Passion Fruit Juice Base. Randomly drop over hot haupia. Use a small pairing knife to swirl in a circular motion. Store covered with plastic wrap as previously mentioned.

Turkeys, of course, are not native to Hawaii, but they were imported on the Big Island as early as the late 1700s as game birds.  However, most of the local feral flocks – and there are lots of them – derive from some  wild Texas (aka Rio Grande) turkeys who were released on the Big Island at Pu’u Wa’awa’a Ranch in 1961.  According to James G. Dickson of the U.S. Forest Service in his book The Wild Turkey, there were some 400 wild Texas turkeys released on all the six major Hawaiian islands between 1961 and 1963.  However, conditions, particularly ‘upcountry,’ on the Big Island were almost ideal and the flocks here on the Big Island, and in the higher elevations of Molokai and Lanai,  have done better than those on the other islands.  Today there are an estimated 16,000 wild turkeys who have descended from those original 400.

For whatever reason, and I don’t know, but it may relate to breeding seasons, turkey hunting season on the Big Island is in March, so the local flocks are not in danger of becoming dinner in November.  I took this picture yesterday in Waikoloa Village behind our rental condo, and these guys don’t seem to be concerned about the vast numbers of their brethren who will grace tables today.




A little bit of everything update

First, I haven’t fallen into the volcano. We are hard at work rehab-ing a rental condo we inherited from my mom last year. The tenants, unfortunately, trashed it and we’ve been spending a few hours every day patching walls, painting, cleaning, etc. So I haven’t had much time or energy for this endeavor.

Second, interestingly, the lava flow has been stalled for about as long as I have been working on this project. I posted some pictures of offerings made to Pele at the front of the flow over on Facebook, and am beginning to wonder if maybe they were effective! At this point, the lava hasn’t advanced much on the flow front, only laterally, mostly into unoccupied areas like the cemetery and the local transfer station (there’s no local garbage pick up here, so you take your rubbish to the transfer station where it is hauled to the dump.)

There are still some folks advocating for something to be done up at the Pu’u O’o vent to divert the flow, but it appears that Pele may be taking some action on that on her own, although the scientific types aren’t committing at this point.

Meanwhile, in the ‘Captain Obvious’ award category – there was a big headline in the local paper the other day that informed us all that “Land and Home Sales in Puna are on the Decline” – duh! I can’t imagine what kind of a slow news day it must have been for this to be the lead story above the fold.

As the holiday season nears, I promise to put up some of the uniquely Hawaiian stuff, like the Hawaiian Twelve Days of Christmas, but for now, I need to get back to work!

King Kalakaua’s Birthday

A couple of days ago, on the 14th of November, the Iolani Palace was decorated with red, white, and blue bunting and three large flags, which had not been flown over the Palace since Kalakaua’s Jubilee Birthday in 1886. Two were reconstructed from accounts and photographs of the event in 1886 and represent the personal standard of the Merrie Monarch, David Kalakaua, and the flag of the Kingdom of Hawaii and the other is the contemporary state flag. The Palace looked as much like it did for the 50th birthday of the king as historians and docents could make it.


Iolani Palace 1886
Iolani Palace 1886
Iolani Palace 2014
Iolani Palace 2014

Today is King David Kalakaua’s birthday, although it was celebrated on Oahu at the Iolani Palace on the 14th. Kalakaua is one of the better remembered monarchs of the Kingdom of Hawaii, along with his sister, the last monarch, Queen Liliu’okalani, and the founding monarch, Kamehameha II. He was born November 16, 1836 and reigned from February 12, 1874 until his death in San Francisco on January 20, 1891. Kalakaua was the second son of a high chief and chiefess and he was fostered (hanai) to a Maui high chiefess and her husband. When his hanai mother, High Chiefess Ha’aheo Kaniu died in 1843, she bequeathed all her properties to Kalakaua. He returned to his birth parents, on Oahu, when he was four and was educated at the Chiefs’ Children’s School where he became fluent in both English and Hawaiian, and he took up the study of law at the age of 16. However, he never completed his studies, instead becoming a courtier and major on the staff of King Kamehameha IV. He also served in the Department of the Interior and was appointed Postmaster General, and led a ‘Hawai’i for the Hawaiians” political organization known as the Young Hawaiians.

In 1872, Kamehameha V, the last monarch of the direct line of Kamehameha I, died without an heir and without naming a successor to the throne, and, in accordance with the Constitution of the Kingdom, the legislature was authorized to appoint a new monarch. The two leading candidates for the position were Kalakaua and William Lunalilo. Of the two Lunalilo was the more liberal and the more popular, and was, moreover, a cousin of Kamehameha. Although the legislature was prepared to name Lunalilo king, he insisted that there be a general election, which he won with an overwhelming majority, and Kalakaua conceded.

A short time later, on February 3, 1874, Lunalilo in turn died, and Kalakaua was elected to replace him, with the support of the legislature, being selected over Queen Dowager Emma who stood for election against him. Upon ascending the throne, Kalakaua named his brother William Pitt Leleiohoku as his heir. He then embarked on a tour of the islands, which improved his popularity with the local populations, many of whom had supported Queen Emma.

Kalakaua was a great traveler, embarking on a trip to Washington D.C. to meet with President Ulysses S. Grant in 1875 to negotiate a trade agreement between the Kingdom and the United States which allowed certain Hawaiian goods – principally sugar and rice – to be imported without tariffs, thus alleviating an ongoing economic depression in Hawaii. In 1881, the king left Hawaii again, on a trip around the world to study the matter of immigration into the kingdom, and to improve foreign relations. He also wanted to examine how other monarchs ruled, and to this end he met with the Meiji Emperor of Japan, the Qing Dynasty ruler of China, King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) in Siam, the British Raj, India, Egypt, Italy, Belgium, Sweden, the German and Austro-Hungarian empires, France, Spain, Portugal, the United Kingdom, then back through the United States to Hawaii. He met with many of the crowned heads of state, including Umberto I of Italy, Tewfik, Viceroy of Egypt, William I of Germany, King Oscar II of Sweden, Queen Victoria, Chester A. Arthur, and Pope Leo XII. He was the first Hawaiian monarch to go around the world and this voyage was commemorated in a book written by one of his courtiers called Around the World with a King. King Kalakaua’s own leanings were towards the older ‘divine right of kings’ model, and not towards the growing constitutional monarchy model that was beginning to prevail in Europe, and his policies were opposed by the so-called Missionary Party – made up of merchants, the missionaries and their descendants, and the other European and American residents of the kingdom. They blamed Kalakaua for the growing debt, believing him to be extravagant and a spendthrift.

By 1887, the Missionary Party and others who opposed Kalakaua, took up arms and forced a new constitution, known popularly as The Bayonet Constitution, on the King. Among other provisions, it disenfranchised most native Hawaiians of their voting rights. Some 75% of all ethnic Hawaiians were denied the vote due to restrictions based on gender, literacy, property and age. A new provision allowed non-Hawaiian citizens to vote, creating a major power shift away from the native populace and towards male residents of European or American ancestry who were property owners. The legislature was now able to override a veto by the king, and the King’s powers were restricted, forbidding him to act without approval of the cabinet. The House of Nobles – similar in design to the hereditary House of Lords in Great Britain, was changed to an elective house, more similar to the Senate in the U.S. government. The Bayonet Constitution was hugely unpopular with the native Hawaiians and a counter-revolution, led by Robert Wilcox and in which Prince Kuhio participated and for which he was imprisoned, aimed at restoring the powers of the monarch, but it failed.

Among Kalakaua’s numerous achievements was the construction of the Iolani Palace, the only royal palace that exists in the United States. Construction cost at the time was $300,000 – an incredible sum, and the furnishings were largely ordered during Kalakaua’s European travels. In Italy, he also ordered a statue to be made of Kamehameha I, to be erected on Oahu. This was lost off the Falkland Islands in a ship wreck and the replacement was unveiled in 1883. The original was salvaged and repaired, and now stand in the small town of Kapa’au, on the Big Island, near the Kamehameha birthplace. The Iolani Palace was wired for electricity before the White House or Buckingham Palace, and Kalakaua is regarded as the founder of the electric company that continues to provide power to the state today. He was also responsible for reviving many of the traditional arts of Hawaii, most notably the hula – and his name lives on in the most famous of the hula competitions – the Merrie Monarch Festival- and the Hawaiian martial art, the lua, and surfing. He and his brother and sisters were very gifted musicians and composers, and he is  remembered for authoring the state song of Hawai’i, Hawai’i Pono’i. The ukulele fascinated Kalakaua and he is credited with the spread and popularity of the instrument.

Far-sighted, Kalakaua recognized the potential of a Pacific Rim alliance and wanted to create a Polynesian Empire, sending representatives to Samoa to form a Polynesian confederation and to Japan, seeking a Pacific Rim alliance as a counter to the powers of Europe and America. All of these efforts became moot in the wake of the Bayonet Constitution, however. By 1890, the King’s health was failing, his brother had pre-deceased him, and he had named his sister Lili’uokalani as his successor. He traveled to San Francisco to seek medical treatment, but his health worsened and on January 20, 1891, at the Palace Hotel, he died. His remains were returned to Honolulu and he was buried in the royal mausoleum.

King Kalakaua's Official Portrait
King Kalakaua’s Official Portrait

Sharing a good article

This is from www.thetravelinsider.com – a really useful travel site with loads of helpful information on a wide range of travel topics. Since we are going to be doing a good deal of travel by train in Britain in the late summer next year, I had copied this into  my travel info file for that trip and found it a good refresher as I started to map out my itinerary. You’ll need to click through to their site for the referenced PDF files and other links as those didn’t come through when I copied and pasted this article into my travel info file for our trip.  Enjoy!

ln most all of England, and some of Wales and Scotland too, is within four hours of London by train. These journeys are typically faster by train than by plane, and often can be cheaper, too. If you plan to travel around Britain, a combination of trains and rental cars is usually the best way to do this

See our two related articles on How to choose the best Britrail Pass and Britrail Pass options and issues for information on the best way to buy your British rail travel.

Here’s what you need to know to get the best use out of Britain’s extensive rail network.

Britain’s Rail Network

Britain’s rail network is primarily organized as a series of spokes radiating out from a central hub – London, with a few smaller hubs and peripheral routes. Travel between London and many other places can usually be done very conveniently and often with no change of train.

If you are wishing to travel between two places that aren’t located on the same spoke radiating out from London, it may be necessary to take an indirect route with some backtracking and at least one change of train.

Here is a helpful color PDF map of the British rail network (320kB) showing most rail lines and the major rail stations, and here is a more detailed network map. The numbers on the map refer to routes in the official Rail Timetable. One more resource – this page has links to various regional and detailed rail maps.

There are almost 20,000 trains operating every day in Britain.

Trains usually operate on one of three schedules – a weekday schedule (the same for all five weekdays), a Saturday schedule (with fewer trains) and a Sunday schedule (with even fewer trains again).

Many Rail Stations in London

On the maps above you’ll notice that London is shown as a single location. This is potentially misleading. London does not have a single major rail station, but in fact has more than half a dozen. This dates back to the era when there were a number of different private railroad companies in Britain, each of which had their own London terminus.

Each station nowadays generally serves one particular region of the country – for example, if you’re traveling to the Southwest of England, your journey will probably start at Paddington or Waterloo.

Note that it is also possible that a return journey from somewhere else might take you to different stations in London depending on which train you are on – for example, trains from Glasgow might travel down the west coast mainline and to Euston, or down the east coast mainline and to King’s Cross.

Here is a helpful pdf map which shows major London rail stations, (150kB) which are (in generally clockwise order) :




St Pancras

King’s Cross

Liverpool St

Fenchurch St

Charing Cross



Smaller stations also exist, eg Moorgate, London Bridge and Cannon St.

It is usually the case that there is no rail service to connect these stations to each other. If you are on a train that arrives in to London – eg, to Victoria, and you need to connect to a train leaving King’s Cross, you’ll have to somehow travel across London from one side to the other – ie by taxi, bus or Underground. This can be inconvenient if you have several suitcases with you, and in such cases, it becomes almost essential to use a taxi.

Some other cities may also have more than one train station – perhaps on the same line, but in different parts of the city, or perhaps on completely different lines. It is always important to check if there are multiple stations in each location and, if so, which station your train will arrive to and depart from.

Quick History – why there are multiple Train Operating Companies

Originally, train service in Britain was provided by many different companies. Some of these companies offered limited regional service, and others offered service over large parts of the country. The competing companies would sometimes offer services between the same two cities, but using their own unique stations, rail track, locomotives and carriages.

This was rationalized in 1923 when most of the smaller rail companies were amalgamated into four major companies.

Further amalgamation occurred in 1948, when the British (Labor) government nationalized the railways, forming a government owned organization that integrated and operated the entire rail network. This organization was variously known as British Railways, British Rail, or Britrail.

Cutbacks and rationalizations occurred during the 1960s and 1970s, with a lot of secondary service being eliminated. In 1955, there were about 21,000 miles of track and 6,000 stations. In 1975, this had reduced to 12,000 miles of track and 2,000 stations – numbers that remain about the same today.

In 1993, the British (Conservative) government re-privatized British Rail, splitting it rather cumbersomely into a company that owned the track, and other companies responsible for owning rolling stock and providing freight or passenger services.

This new structure, largely still in place to day, can be seen in the various different companies that offer passenger train service. Some of these companies have revived the famous names of earlier train companies such as GWR and GNER (while having no other connection to them) and others are recognizable from other contexts such as Virgin Trains.

Checking in for your Train Journey

If you have a ticket, you can simply walk into the train station, onto the platform, and onto your train.

Occasionally there might be a barrier onto each platform, and to pass the barrier you’ll need your ticket, either to show to a platform attendant or to be read by a machine. If this is the case, it is a brief two second process that will scarcely delay your progress to the train. There is no need to show ID or anything else.

The fast intercity trains will sometimes close (and lock) their doors two minutes prior to departure, so you need to be onboard in time to allow for that.

You can board the train through any carriage, but if you have seat assignments (see the section below) it is generally easiest to walk along the platform to where your coach is and board at that point, rather than to try and walk through the coaches.

Coaches are usually identified by letter, and run in alphabetical order. Sometimes the coach at the front of the train will be letter ‘A’ and sometimes it is the coach at the rear end of the train that will be letter ‘A’.

If you’re boarding the train at the station where the train starts its journey from, you’ll usually find that the train will not arrive at a platform until about 20 minutes prior to its scheduled departure time. You’ll find large reader boards in the station that list upcoming trains; and initially these will not show platform numbers. When the train arrives, the platform number is posted and you should then proceed to the train.

Note that if your journey takes you to the final destination of the train, then of course, the reader board will show this as the train’s destination. But if you’re traveling to a mid-way point, the reader board may not show this as prominently, and it helps to know that the train you want is the train that ultimately travels to somewhere else (making it easier to identify the train on the reader boards).

Unlike airplane flights, trains are usually not identified by a number, but just by their ultimate destination, departure time, and perhaps by operating train company, too (eg ‘The 10.30am (LNER) to Edinburgh’).

If you’re joining the train at a station somewhere along its journey, the train will stop for only a couple of minutes to allow passengers to quickly leave and join the train. Most stations have their platforms marked in zones that show you where to wait for first class or standard class coaches.

First and Standard Class

Most trains have both a first and a standard (coach/economy) class, although small short distance regional trains are sometimes all standard class.

If you have a first class ticket, you can of course sit in either class of service, and equally, of course, if you have a standard class ticket, you can not sit in first class.

Just like on a plane, first class accommodation is more spacious and comfortable, and on some train journeys, you might also get complimentary at seat food and drink service.

If we’re traveling on a BritRail pass, a first class pass usually costs about 50% more than a standard class pass. If you’re buying individual tickets, the difference between a nicely discounted standard class fare and the lowest first class fare can be very much greater (five or ten times more).

We generally treat ourselves to first class travel if we’re buying a pass, but never when we’re buying individual tickets.

Depending on the size of the train, the first class section can vary from several carriages to a small part of just one carriage, or, in some cases, no first class at all.

First class tends to be at the very front or very end of most trains; rarely in the middle. Many stations will tell you where on the platform to stand so that you’ll be in the correct place for where the first class section of the train stops.

Seat Reservations

Seat reservations are optional, and most of the time are not required. You can simply board the train and take any unreserved empty seat.

If you wish to reserve seats, this can typically be done up to about two months before your travel date. A fee is charged for the reservation.

Sometimes reservations are compulsory (because the train is very popular), and in these cases, the reservation fee is not charged.

You should consider reserving seats if you’re on a busy/popular train, or if it is on a day close to a three day long weekend (what the British call a ‘Bank Holiday’). Lots of people travel for these long weekends.

Reserved seats have little reservations slips sticking up from the top of the seat back. However, even reserved seats can often be available. If all the good non-reserved seats are already full, carefully read what it says on the reservation slips. There are two things to check for :

(a) The reservation might be for a different part of the total train journey to the sector you wish to travel, meaning the seat is open and free for your part of the train’s total journey.

(b) The reservation includes the section you’re traveling on, but the reservation holder doesn’t (or already hasn’t) turn(ed) up.

In our experience, at least half of all people holding reservations never turn up and claim their seats. Because most rail tickets allow a great deal of flexibility in terms of which train they can be used on, and because trains run so frequently, many times reservation holders will choose to travel on an earlier or a later train.

So, chances are you’ll be able to get seats on just about any train, whether you have a reservation or not.

Sleeper Trains

These days, trains are so fast that what used to be a long overnight journey has often reduced down to no more than a quick four hour train ride. For this reason, most sleeper services have been phased out.

Sleeper service still exists on some lines between Scotland and London Euston, and between the far southwest of England and London Paddington.

Many times the trains arrive at their destination at about 4am, and will simply wait in the marshalling yards until a suitable hour when they then move to the platform for passengers to leave the train. And, unlike most trains, they are usually at the platform an hour or so before they leave, and available for you to board, so you have somewhere comfortable to be (other than just waiting until very late on a train platform).

There are single berth (first class) and twin berth (standard class) sleepers. They have a washbasin but not a toilet or shower. Toilets are at the end of each carriage and there are no showers.

Reservations are necessary for sleeper trains. If you’re using a rail pass, you’ll have to pay a supplement to allow its use on a sleeper train. On the one hand, you’re saving the cost of a night’s hotel accommodation, and getting a different type of travel experience. On the other hand, you’re paying extra.


Your official allowance is two large items (such as suitcases) and one smaller item, but no-one seems to notice or care if you have more pieces with you.

There are three places you can put suitcases. On some trains, there will be specific luggage stowage areas at one or both ends of each carriage. Sometimes there will also be spaces between seats (when you have two seats, one facing forward and the other backwards, there is an ‘A’ frame type of empty space between them into which you can slide medium sized suitcases). And most of the time, there is an overhead rack above your seat to put smaller and lighter items.

Often the luggage spaces can fill up. For this reason, we try and be among the first people to board the train, so as to have room to conveniently put our bags in the storage area.

You’ll also sometimes see that people have placed bags in the empty space at the end of some carriages that is intended for wheel chair passengers. Sometimes the train guards will insist you move the bags away from this area, but if there is no wheel chair passenger onboard, they are usually reasonable, particularly if there is no remaining space in the main luggage storage area.

Almost no trains have separate luggage vans these days.

There are varying numbers of luggage trolleys to be found at railway stations, but generally you should plan your travels based on the assumption that you’ll not be able to find a luggage trolley. Make sure your suitcases are wheeled.

Left Luggage while City Touring

A great idea is to break your train journey at an interesting place and spend some time sightseeing. In such cases, it is usually best to leave your luggage at the station’s left luggage office.

Most larger stations have a left luggage service, where they’ll store bags for you – either for an hour or two, or for a day or week or even longer. A fee is charged, per bag, based on how long you leave each bag with them.

Connecting Times between Trains

It is not uncommon to find yourself changing trains somewhere with only 5 – 10 minutes of connecting time allowed between the arrival of one train and the departure of the second train.

This is a far cry from 30-90 minute connecting times between flights.

In theory, 5 – 10 minutes is enough time, but that makes the assumption your first train arrives close to exactly on time. Alas, this is not always the case, and while British trains are generally very much more punctual than American planes, a 5 minute delay when you have only 8 minutes to change trains is cutting it a bit fine.

Trains never wait for passengers connecting from delayed trains for two reasons. Firstly, because people generally travel without reservations, they have no way of knowing how many connecting passengers there might be. Secondly, if the train delays itself, then other passengers on that train may in turn miss their own connections at subsequent stops.

Amazingly, very few people report missing their train, even on a sub-10 minute connection. Presumably, the times when the incoming train is running late are often matched by the connecting train also running a few minutes behind schedule.

In our experience, the major hassle factor when changing trains at a station is finding out which platform your new train will leave from, and then working out how to get to that platform. Often you’ll have to climb up an overbridge, go along, and then go down the other side as part of the travel from one platform to the other. Note there are usually elevators somewhere at the larger stations to make it easier to go up and down the steps if you have luggage, but these can sometimes be hard to find, especially if you’re in a hurry.

The bigger the station you’re changing trains at, the bigger and more complicated this can be, with sometimes illogical placement and numbering of platforms.

Recommendation : Don’t try and figure it out yourself. Ask the first railway staff member you find.

The good news is that usually there’ll be another train to where you want to go coming along before too much longer if you miss your connecting train.

Recommendation : If accepting a schedule with a tight connection, find out what time the next train will also leave from the connecting station so you know your ‘worst case scenario’ in case you are unlucky.


Delays seem to be an inevitable fact of life with most forms of transportation these days, even when driving in your own car.

British train services experience delays, and while some trains are very punctual, it is common for other trains to often be running 5 – 10 minutes late, for any one of many different reasons.

In addition to these semi-random delays, there are also delays due to track maintenance work. Much of the track maintenance is done over the weekend, when there aren’t so many trains, and the greatest amount of maintenance seems to occur on Sundays.

Bad weather can impact on train service, too.

Sometimes services will be delayed, sometimes they will be cancelled, sometimes they will operate on slightly different routes, and sometimes they’ll be replaced, in part or in whole, by buses.

Recommendation : Avoid traveling on Sundays if possible.

For Further Information

The most helpful ‘main’ website covering the entire British Railway network is the National Rail website.

Pele advancing on Pahoa, again.

The first home burned yesterday in Pahoa and, although the flow front is stalled, and has been for over a week now, there are breakout flows along the upslope flanks. It was one of these that took the first residential property in Pahoa.  The residents in the area are on full alert and many have already voluntarily evacuated, but there are some who are staying until forced to leave, and others who are trying to placate Pele and get her to stop her advance on their town and homes.  You can also see in the picture a new thing that the utility company is trying – there is a ‘berm’ of cinder soil around a steel utility pole.  They are testing to see if it can withstand direct contact with the 2000 degree molten lava.  They also tried it with wooden poles – those didn’t survive below the berm.  The fire department will not be fighting any fires that result from direct contact with the lava, and will only attack the brush fires that are started if they threaten property not in direct line of the flow front(s).  Looks like Kalpana all over again.

Offerings on the flow front
Offerings on the flow front

The Pig Altar


Pre-contact Hawaii was, essentially, a feudal system, with the farmers, artisans, and fishermen and other ‘commoners’ or maka’ainana at the base of the social and economic pyramid, and the priests and warriors – the ali’i at the top. There were also a few slaves, usually prisoners of war or their descendants. The basic economic and political unit was the ahupua’a – literally, the Pig Altar.

The ahupua’a was first and foremost a division of land, varying in size, that, taken as a whole, could supply all the subsistence needs of the people resident in it. At the boundaries of each land division, a cairn of stones, or ahu, was located to mark the boundaries, and on the cairn or altar, sacrifices or offerings to the island’s high chief were made – often pigs – pua’a – thus the land division became known as an ahupua’a.

The ahupua’a was administered by a konohiki – a member of the ruling class, who reported in turn to an ali’i or member of the nobility. In general, the ahupua’as ran from the mountains to the sea in a more or less pie shape, narrower at the top and wider at the bottom, often following a natural watercourse or stream drainage area. Each contained at a minimum, a lowland planting area – called a mala, and an upland forested area. Sizes varied with the richness of the location and to a lesser extent, with the political divisions of the area.

Within the ahupua’a, the people were expected to use their resources wisely, practicing the cultural values of laulima – cooperation, malama – good stewardship, and pono – balance or righteousness, in order to preserve the productiveness of the ahupua’a. The ahupua’a was further subdivided into ‘ili, and then into kuleana which were the plots of land that were the responsibility of the common people who were required to labor for a certain period for the konohiki or land overseer. The ahupua’a, in general, included a full range of climate zones and assured that the residents could be largely self-sufficient, able to obtain the resources from the sea to the mountains.

Politically, rule over the ahupua’a was given by a ruling chief to subordinate ali’i who then owed him (or her) allegiance . The priests or kahuna, maintained the balance within the ahupua’a by the establishment and enforcement of certain kapu or rules regarding what plants and animals, including fish, could be gathered at specific places and seasons.

Unlike their European counterparts, the feudal serfs, the maka’ainana had the right to leave a cruel or incompetent overlord without penalty, and the relationships between them and the konohiki was much more collaborative than pertained in feudal Europe. Although a few instances of rebellions were recorded, by and large the relationship between the maka’ainana and the konohiki was one of mutual respect as neither could succeed without the other.

Maka’ainana did not cross the boundaries of their own ahupua’a without permission, and most of the pathways ran vertically within the boundaries, although there was a pathway generally following the shoreline that encircled the island. Villages tended to cluster at the shore and then again at a vertical elevation of between 1500 and 2000 feet, with the area between housing farm lots, orchards, and forests.

Because Cook never saw the upland settlements during his visits to the islands, it is now believed that he underestimated the population by at least half, and instead of the 400,000 inhabitants that he estimated, there may have been upwards of 800,000. This population had been reduced to a mere 40,000 in just at 100 years after contact due largely to introduced diseases such as measles, tuberculosis, smallpox and venereal disease.

The traditional land use patterns were also erased due to the influence of westerners, who, in addition to disease, introduced the idea of land ownership. Under their influence, King Kamehameha III instituted the Great Mahele. Ostensibly an attempt to assure that the Hawaiian people would not lose control of the land that they had worked, often times for many generations, it introduced a free enterprise system with individual property rights. One third of all the land was allocated to the crown as the Hawaiian Crown lands, another third was allocated to among the high ali’i chiefs, and the remaining third was to go to the maka’ainana. In the end, the maka’ainana actually received less than 1%, as, under the Kuleana Act of 1850, it was required that land claims had to be filed within two years, and many of the maka’ainana made no claims, never understanding that they needed to do so or lacking funds to pay for a pre-claim land survey. In the end, only about 18,000 plots of 3 acres each were successfully claimed by maka’ainana, whose population at the time numbered something around 82,000. Eventually, most of this one-third share was sold or leased to foreigners or reverted to the state or to the ali’i.

Between the depredations of disease and depopulation, the influx of foreigners, the establishment of large plantations of mono-crops such as sugar and pineapple, and the impact of the Great Mahele, the centuries old self-sustaining system of the ahupua’a and the social system that it supported and that it was in turn supported by it, was gone within a few brief decades after the first Europeans encountered the islands.

All Saints Day

Mother Marianne Cope on arrival in Hawaii
Father Damien with the lepers

In keeping with All Saints Day, today is about the two Hawaii affiliated saints – Saint Damien and Saint Marianne Cope. Both are of recent recognition as saints – Damien was raised to sainthood by Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal José Saraiva Martins on Thursday, July 3, 2008, with the ceremony taking place in Rome and celebrations in Belgium and Hawaii. On February 21, 2009, the Vatican announced that Father Damien would be canonized. The ceremony took place in Rome on Rosary Sunday, October 11, 2009, in the presence of King Albert II of the Belgians and Queen Paola as well as the Belgian Prime Minister, Herman Van Rompuy, and several cabinet ministers completing the process of canonization. In Washington, D.C., President Barack Obama affirmed his deep admiration for St. Damien, saying that he gave voice to voiceless and dignity to the sick. Cope is the second person, after Father Damien, who had served in the Hawaiian Islands to be canonized. She has the unique distinction of being both the first Beatification and the last Canonisation under Pope Benedict XVI. On December 19, 2011, Pope Benedict signed and approved the promulgation of the decree for her sainthood and she was canonized on October 21, 2012.

Both of these extraordinary individuals were recognized for their work with the lepers of Molokai. Leprosy was a much misunderstood disease in the 19th century, believed to be highly contagious and incurable and in 1865, the Hawaiian Legislature passed, and King Kamehameha V signed, the “Act to Prevent the Spread of Leprosy” calling for the quarantine of all persons with leprosy in Hawaii, and establishing leper colonies on the Kalaupapa peninsula of Moloka’i. This peninsula is geographically isolated from the rest of Moloka’I by a steep mountain ridge – even today accessible only by mule trail. The early lepers were brought to the area by boat, and often thrown overboard and left to swim to the shore on their own. Some 8,000 Hawaiians were sent to Kalaupapa during the active period of the leper colony.

Initially, the Royal Board of Health tried to supply the quarantined people with food and other supplies, but there were not enough resources to sustain the settlement, and the plan for the inhabitants to manage their own subsistence through farming and fishing was impractical, both because of the depredations of the disease and the unsuitable nature of the environment at Kalaupapa. By 1868, the colony had descended into disorder and according to publications of the period: “Drunken and lewd conduct prevailed. The easy-going, good-natured people seemed wholly changed.”

It was into this chaotic situation that Father Damien voluntarily stepped. The Bishop in Honolulu, Louis Desire Maigret, believed that the lepers at least were in need of a priest, but felt that the assignment could be a death sentence, and did not wish to send a single priest ‘in the name of obedience’ to the colony. Ultimately four priests volunteered, Damien being the first, and it was intended that they rotate, reducing the potential for infection. Damien was the first to go, and he arrived on May 10, 1873, where the Bishop presented him to the 816 lepers then in residence at Kalaupapa.

Damien established a church, the Parish of Saint Philomena, whose patronage includes priests and lost causes, built a church, and then went on to build a reservoir, homes, furniture, made coffins, dug graves, and tended to the sick. His arrival was a turning point for the colony, seeing to it that basic laws were followed, schools and farms were established, shacks were replaced with homes and what had been a lawless place where the strong preyed upon the weak became a supportive community. Damien continued to administer the settlement at Kalaupapa, receiving recognition from King David Kalakaua and support from within the religious community, but by 1884, he had contracted leprosy himself and Hawaii’s second saint, Mother Marianne Cope, who had been working with Hansen’s Disease (the official name of leprosy) on Oahu and establishing and administering hospitals and children’s homes for the uninfected children of leprosy patients, moved to Moloka’I, in large part to care for the dying Father Damien.

Mother Marianne continued Damien’s work after his death and went on to open and administer schools for both the boys of the colony, which she subsequently turned over to the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, and for the women and girls, which she and the Sisters of her order administered. She died of natural causes in 1918.

Both Damien and Mother Marianne are deeply venerated in Hawaii and there were substantial contingents of Hawaiian Catholics, including some of the remaining residents of the colony at Kalaupapa in attendance at the ceremonies in Rome for their canonization. Statues of both saints stand in Honolulu and many schools and other institutions bear their names or the name of their orders.


Statue of Father Damien
Statue of Father Damien
Statue of Mother Marianne Cope