Tag Archives: New Zealand

I Took a Trip on a Train

August 16, 2017, was the second anniversary of the Architect’s death. It was also the day a friend and I were taking the TranzAlpine train trip  So as Sinatra sang:

“I took a trip on a train
And I thought about you
I passed a shadowy lane
And I thought about you

And every stop that we made
Oh, I thought about you”

The Architect and I had planned this as one of the many trips we were going to take together.  Instead of which, I was with a friend aka Two Tarts on Tour, making the trip. The TranzAlpine is one of the world’s great train journeys covering 223 kilometres (139 miles) one-way, taking just under 5 hours.

We departed from Christchurch at 8 am and sat back to enjoy the ride.  Pretty soon, however, we were up on our feet in the observation car taking in the fantastic scenery, the snow topped mountains, the high lakes, and blue water gushing waterfalls.

 

We came across a film crew working for Kiwi Rail.  They were taking photos for a new ad and so we were asked to be part of that ad, along, I might say, with other travellers.

Soon the journey came to an end and we arrived in Greymouth.  We had a tour of the Pancake Rocks booked for that afternoon.

Even though it was a sunny and calm afternoon, the Tasman Sea was showing us how fierce it can be.

Pancake Rocks?  We are told “The Pancake Rocks at Dolomite Point near Punakaiki are a heavily eroded limestone area where the sea bursts through several vertical blowholes. The foundations of the Pancake Rocks were formed 30 million years ago when minute fragments of dead marine creatures and plants landed on the seabed about 2 km below the surface.   Read more…..

And Click here to see the walk we took with 2 other people and our very friendly, helpful guide.

The day before I found this little plaque.

So I did as it directed and had a good day.

The next afternoon it was back on the train for the journey to Christchurch.  We were lucky that the trip over was bright and clear because, on the way back, the rain pounded down and so much of the view was hidden.

So my trip on a train was a success and

journey

I found this on Pinterest. I don’t know who Marianne Wilson is but I thank her for this quote and picture.

 

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The Adventure Begins

London skyline

Well, I have now been in London for 14 days.  I arrived after two very long flights from New Zealand exacerbated by a mix up in bookings. But the frustration was quickly forgotten when I eventually arrived at my sister’s house.

Since then the time has been spent mostly in catching up on each other’s news and meeting family.  And I am part of a very large family.  Father was one of 13 and each of the siblings had a couple of children, with the exception of one sister and one brother who had none.  So while there are only two surviving siblings of Father’s there are plenty of cousins.  And my sister has three children and six grandchildren so life has been rather busy.

One highlight was a visit to a retirement home where one of the surviving sisters lives.  She is suffering a form of dementia.  She was perfectly lucid for most of the time we were there but then she couldn’t remember any of us, not even her son, his wife and their two little girls.  How very sad.  She also became very tearful when she was told that her brothers had died.  Very sad and scary because she is only 8 years older than I am.

Today we have been to NZ House to have a copy of my passport certified.  Somehow I have mislaid my driver’s licence so I had to apply for a replacement.  Have you travelled on public transport in London?  One bus ride, three tube trains and one hour and forty-five minutes later we arrived at the Haymarket and NZ House.  I had quite forgotten how big, noisy and crowded London is.  It is a shock to a “colonial” even a “colonial” who was born and brought up in London.

And how strange it is that when I am in NZ I call England “home” and when I am here I call NZ “home”  Today I felt quite at home in New Zealand House.

You can never go home again, but the truth is you can never leave home, so it’s all right.
Maya Angelou, American author and poet 1928 –

And London has of course changed since I was last here.  The changes to the East End are amazing –  this is because the Olympics were mainly staged in this area last year.  More on these changes shortly.


Time To Move On

I have been absent from the blogosphere for several weeks recently and I apologise to my faithful followers for this.

The reasons have been many but at the top of the list is a decision I have made.  I have decided to sell my house and then take several months to travel around Europe, and France in particular.

Why now one may ask – well  I have always had “itchy feet”.  This was pandered to by my husband and his moving around the world during the busy years making a name for himself and a life for us.  When he died I spent several years between New Zealand and England where I had been born and raised; eventually deciding to settle down again here in NZ.  But here on the other side of the world, we are so far away from everything and I am feeling that if I don’t do something about this restlessness now I never shall.

Then a few weeks ago I read a post from Kathryn McCulloch about major changes she and her partner Sara have made.  Apart from selling their house and getting married in New York, they have embarked on a new life in Ecuador.  How very brave is that!  This, of course, set me thinking.  Oh sure, they are younger than me and there are two of them, but so what.

So I determined to have an adventure of my own.  I do have two special sisters, one in Los Angeles and one in London and of course, any odyssey will have to start with them.  Added to that my sister in London has agreed to come to France if only for a few days while we/I decide where to spend the next few months.  Isn’t that exciting.  And I have a very good friend in Paris that I have been threatening to visit so Kay watch this space.

And yesterday, to add icing to this cake, I heard that another blogging buddy, Joss at Crowing Crone has put her house on the market and plans to travel to France in September.  So I shall have the opportunity to meet with her and her husband IN REAL LIFE!

 

The excitement continues to mount.Living roomThe house is on the market and the marketing has commenced.  It will be tendered over two weeks with the first Open Home on Sunday.  And if the other properties my Real Estate friend has sold over the past couple of months is anything to go by, it should sell easily.

Oh, and if you are wondering about the Beautiful Miss Bella – I have a very good friend who will adopt her for the time I am away.  I fear though that I might not get her back.

So Europe here I come.  I will attempt to be in the blogosphere more often now that the decision has been made.

“I travel not to go anywhere, but to go.  I travel for travel’s sake.
The great affair is to move. ”
Robert Louis Stevenson
,  Scottish novelist, poet,
essayist and travel writer. 1850 – 1894

and

Butterflies

Just Thinking About Christmas

Santa at the beach

Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere is still strange after 40 plus years living in New Zealand.  I have told of how the first Christmas we were here my then 7-year-old daughter, asked in her piping Scottish accent “When is it going to snow Mummy”.  That first Christmas we had a fantastic summer.  All the promises that were made in the coloured brochures provided to us by the NZ High Commission in London proved to be true.  Long lazy days at the beach but at Christmas?

Even after all these years setting up a tree with lights and putting decorations around the house still doesn’t feel quite right.  And reindeer – where’s the snow?  Another vexing question for my daughter and her younger brother all those years ago was how would Santa get here if the reindeer didn’t bring him?  And more importantly, would he know that they had moved from Lenzie in Dumbartonshire, Scotland to Auckland, New Zealand?  And of course, there was no chimney – so how would he get in?

That first Christmas, the day dawned hot and humid and of course, having been brought up in the Northern Hemisphere I did the traditional dinner with all the trimmings.  Everybody ate in their bathing suits.  Another strange thing for us to contemplate (and add to the list of strange things.

Things went back to normal when we lived in Montreal and Christmas was once again in the winter.  And if you have ever been to Montreal in the winter you will know that there was no shortage of snow.  And there were two chimneys in our house so that solved the problem of access and the snow solved the reindeer question but by this time my children were 9 and 7 and Santa Claus (or Father Christmas as English and Scottish children knew him then) was relegated to the arena of fairies and fairy tales.

But now we are used to the upside-down seasons and accept that it will be warm and hopefully sunny on Christmas Day.  My son will no doubt cook a barbecue and we will relax on a patio with a cold drink in hand, surrounded by family and friends.

And as I write this post on Saturday, December 8 at 1pm I find that there are only 16 days 10 hours 58 minutes and 26 seconds to Christmas.  Is that sufficient time to do all the things on my Christmas To Do List?   Well, it will have to be.

An Eruption

There has been a rumbling, spewing of ash and sulphur smells filling the air this week.  Do I hear you ask where?

Volcanoes in NZ

Here in New Zealand we have many volcanoes, most dormant, some extinct and some active.  As you can see from the map many volcanoes are centred around the middle of the North Island.

On Monday evening one of volcanoes erupted and we are told this was quite unexpected with no seismic activity being recorded in the area.   Mt Tongariro  in the centre of the North Island decided to put on a spectacular show for us.  The last time this particular “dormant” volcano erupted was in 1897 – a decidedly sleeping volcano.

Activity on the volcano settled down during Tuesday although steam was still billowing from the crater.  We are told that several new vents were formed during the eruption and today scientists confirm that there are three new crater lakes.  I was going to write here “Isn’t Nature wonderful?” but thought it might be read as a snide remark when in fact I meant it.

Rocks fell within 1km of the eruption, damaging  one of four trampers’ huts on the mountain, but there have been no reports of injuries.  Light ash fell as far away as Taupo and Napier ( about 140 kms) , while the smell of sulphur gas – similar to the “rotten eggs” smell experienced in Rotorua – had drifted to Wellington some 300 kms away.

One of our most active volcanoes is the neighbouring Mr Ruapehu.  I remember when Mount Ruapehu erupted in 1995 and again in 1996.  In 1995 we were going on holiday and driving past the mountain shortly after it erupted.  We were on the Desert Road that runs through the centre of the north island and here the mountain was clearly visible.  The ash that was thrown up settled on everything for miles around, including our car.  Traffic was stopped until the police determined that it was safe to continue so we had this unobstructed view of nature ‘throwing her toys out of the cot’.  But what a magnificent sight it was.  We were far enough away not to be in any danger and the police quickly determined it was safe for us to continue.

So while those of us who choose to live here call it “Godzone” we have several natural events to contend with.  Recently we have had earthquakes (and they are still continuing) tornadoes, floods and now volcanic eruptions, but Mother Nature keeps us entertained with her various shows of strength and wonderful activities.  We are never bored by Mother Nature.

Related Articles

How Lucky Am I?

“When we are no longer able to change a situation,
we are challenged to change ourselves.”
Victor Frankl, 1905-1997
Austrian Neurologist and Psychiatrist

I am  constantly amazed at the fortitude of my fellow bloggers.  When I read of the hardships and abuse many have suffered and overcome, I wonder at my luck of having been born into a loving and caring family and then having the good fortune to meet and marry my ‘Dashing-Young-Scotsman’ at an early age.

I tell people that I have lived a blessed life.  If you have read any of my earlier posts, you will see that I had a long and mostly happy life with my DYS; I have two children whom I love and whose support I can rely on and appreciate.

My family is rounded out by four strapping young grandsons all of whom seem pleased to see their Granma and offers of help are often forthcoming.

Of course, no life is perfect.  I left my family in the UK to follow my husband in his move up the corporate ladder which entailed us moving around the world.  My children therefore, missed out on the companionship of cousins that I had when growing up.  And they saw their grandparents on rare (bi annual) visits home.  So they were very much part of a nuclear family – the four of us in a world far removed from home.

I am also very lucky to have two sisters, one in London and one in Los Angeles.  Could we have landed any further apart even had we planned it?  While they are not within easy visiting distance we still are in regular contact by phone and now of course, the internet.  Aren’t we lucky to live in this technological age.

Mother and girls

Mother with her three daughters

There have of course been bad times in this long life of mine.  We lived in Montreal for a couple of years and I absolutely loathed it.  The French Separatists were very active and almost daily we heard of their actions against the English speaking population.  My children’s school was bombed and that coupled with the police going on strike, made the decision for us to leave and return to our adopted home, New Zealand.

This time we knew that it would be a permanent move and that family and friends in the Northern Hemisphere would see us only a rare trips home; but we made the decision in the knowledge that this was where we wanted to raise our children – on the beach in Takapuna, Auckland.  After a year my husband was transferred to Wellington, the capital city, but that’s another story.

I wrote about a time when I was in danger of losing my leg and a black day when I wanted to Stop the World, but my blackest day was 14 years ago when my Not So DYS died and the colour went out of my world for some time.  But living and moving on doesn’t come with a choice and so I am in the next phase of my life and most of the colour has returned.

So daily I give thanks for my life and know that I wouldn’t swap it for anyone else’s.  Oh yes of course, there are parts I would gladly change.  Those that are shared in this post and others but mostly I say thanks to god, the Universe or whatever power is above us for giving me this life.

And above all I thank my fellow bloggers for being so open about their lives, in all the ups and downs and for sharing with us how they have overcome.  In reading about their problems I have come to realise just how lucky I am.  This is their gift to me.  Thank you thank you!

As each day comes to us refreshed and anew, so does my gratitude renew itself daily.
The breaking of the sun over the horizon is my grateful heart dawning upon a blessed world.
Terri Guillemets
, U.S. quotation anthologist, 1973 –

Associated Posts:

Stop The World

One of the blogs I have recently started to follow is The Kitchens Garden from Cecilia, a New Zealander now happily living in the US.  Her post today brought back memories of another time and place in my life.

Haven’t we all had a “Stop the world I want to get off” moment at some time in our lives?  Well mine was some 26 years ago – way back in 1986.  It was a beautiful summer morning a couple of weeks before Christmas in Blenheim in the South Island of New Zealand.  My dashing (well by then not so dashing or so young) young Scotsman was in hospital recovering from  a burst, undiagnosed duodenal ulcer.

As was my wont, I arrived at the hospital shortly after 8am to be greeted by the nurses with a strained smile.  By this time we were all on first name terms as he had been in the hospital for some six weeks, and I thought their strained greetings very odd.  I was also concerned because a couple of days before when I arrived, my husband wasn’t in his room and I discovered that they had punctured a lung while carrying out some procedure or other.  Of course at the time, I did know what the procedure was but it has taken itself off with so many other things over time.

Well, when I arrived at his room husband was sitting up in bed reading the daily newspaper.  He too looked a little strained I came in and so I asked the reason.  His response, after telling me to take a seat, was that our son had been admitted to hospital the night before with appendicitis. As we hadn’t a phone at the time (see Paradise, Phones and Phrustration) my son’s girl friend had called the hospital to pass on the news.

Now in other circumstances, I would have taken this in my stride.  But just then…  Not only was my darling in hospital in the South Island of New Zealand, but my Mother was in hospital in London, England and my Father in Law was in hospital in Dunoon in Scotland.  And now my son was in hospital in Wellington in the North Island of New Zealand.

That was really a “Stop The World” moment for me.  Fortunately, my son’s operation was straight forward and he was released on the same day as my husband was released from hospital.  And as my daughter had arrived home from London having been summoned by her brother, we managed a happy Christmas with the whole family in one place.

“Said Mr. Smith, “I really cannot
Tell you, Dr. Jones—
The most peculiar pain I’m in—
I think it’s in my bones.
Said Dr. Jones, “Oh, Mr. Smith,
That’s nothing. Without doubt
We have a simple cure for that;
It is to take them out…..”
From Bones by Walter de la Mare
1873 – 1956 English poet, short story writer
and novelist.

And now I am off to a mid-winter Christmas dinner.  Well it’s hard to take the turkey, ham and all the trimmings on a brilliant summer day.

Christmas dinner

Google image

Happy Christmas to you all

You’ve Got Mail

Here is today’s email.

To             The Citizens of the United States of America
From      Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,
Subject  Greetings.

In light of your immediate failure to financially manage yourselves and also in recent years your tendency to elect incompetent Presidents of the USA and therefore not able to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately. (You should look up ‘revocation’ in the Oxford English Dictionary.)

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Kansas, which she does not fancy).

Your new Prime Minister, David Cameron, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections.

Congress and the Senate will be disbanded.  A questionnaire may be circulated sometime next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

  1. The letter ‘U’ will be reinstated in words such as ‘colour,’ ‘favour,’ ‘labour’ and ‘neighbour.’  Likewise, you will learn to spell ‘doughnut’ without skipping half the letters,  and the suffix ‘-ize’ will be replaced by the suffix ‘-ise.’  Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels (look up ‘vocabulary’
  2. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as ‘like’ and ‘you know’ is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as U.S.English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter ‘u” and the elimination of  ‘-ize.’
  3. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.
  4.  You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you’re not quite ready to be independent. Guns should only be used for shooting grouse. If you can’t sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you’re not ready to shoot grouse.
  5. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. Although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.
  6. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.
  7.  The former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon. Get used to it.
  8. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.
  9. The cold, tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of  known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. New Zealand beer is also acceptable, as New Zealand is pound for pound the greatest sporting nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of the British Commonwealth – see what it did for them. American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat’s Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.
  10. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys.  Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialogue in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one’s ears removed with a cheese grater.
  11. You will cease playing American football. There are only two kinds of proper football; one you call soccer, and rugby (dominated by the New Zealanders). Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full Kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies).
  12. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the Australians (World dominators) first to take the sting out of their deliveries.
  13. You must tell us who killed JFK. It’s been driving us mad.
  14.  An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty’s Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).
  15. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 p.m. with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; plus strawberries (with cream) when in season.

GOD SAVE THE QUEEN!

Queen Elizabeth

An Earthquake.

On Tuesday evening we had an earthquake.  Quite large as these things go.  In fact is was 7 on the Richter Scale.

Map of New Zealand

The long, rolling quake, at 230 kilometres deep, was centred around New Plymouth (that’s the sticking out bit on the western side of the North Island)  and was felt throughout the lower North Island and upper South Island. We are told that buildings shook and evening workers reported being shaken about in their offices.

The first I knew about this large shake was when a friend called me shortly after 10.40pm to ask if I was alright.  “Yes” I replied “Why wouldn’t I be?”.  You see I hadn’t felt a thing but so far haven’t spoken to anyone else who was unaware of the quake.  So what does that say about me?  Oh Lotte rushed into the bedroom where I was preparing for bed, but I thought it was because she had just realised I wasn’t in the room with her.

New Zealand has always been known as the Shaky Isles and as Wellington sits firmly on a fault line we are all aware that at some time – whether now or in 100 years time – the city will experience a large earthquake.  However, this latest one, felt by so many did little damage.  And it was larger than the one that devastated Christchurch and resulted in the death of 185 people in February 2011.

We now have a host of predictions about earthquakes and our preparedness (or lack thereof).  We are told that it could take 40 days to restore the water supply to even a basic level, while road access could take up to 120 days, according to “worst case” predictions presented to the region’s Civil Defence Emergency Management Group, following Tuesday’s quake.

That could leave Wellington residents or commuters trapped in the city for months, and dependent on water rations being distributed by authorities for about six weeks.  Grim predictions indeed.

But for most of us, we go about our usual business heedless of the many minor quakes that shake our city regularly.  But are we being foolhardy?  and how many of us have survival items readily available in case of such a disaster?  I suspect that if I did even a small poll amongst my friends and family, most would be aware of what should be in a disaster kit, but many would not have made any provisions for surviving a disaster.

“We live in the midst of alarms; anxiety beclouds the future; we expect some new disaster with each newspaper we read.”
Abraham Lincoln

Waitangi Day

 

Today February 6 is a public holiday in New Zealand – Waitangi Day.  It celebrates the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi the nation’s founding document that was signed on this day in 1840.

The document was signed on behalf of Queen Victoria by William Hobson and by various Maori chiefs representing their tribes.  NZ Maoris are tribal and there is not one Maori nation and so the Treaty had to be taken around the country for signing by other Maoris.  The two versions of the Treaty (one in English and one in Maori) are not identical and over time there has been much debate as to what the two sides actually agreed.

The Treaty gives Maoris the rights of British Citizenship and rights to their land.  The English version of the Treaty promises to:

  • protect Māori interests from the encroaching British settlement;
  • provide for British settlement; and
  • establish a government to maintain peace and order.

while the Maori understand it to :

  • secure tribal rangatiratanga (most often defined as chieftainship); and
  • secure Māori land ownership
Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Treaty Grounds, Waitangi

Traditionally celebrations are held at the Treaty House in Waitangi.  Politicians and other leaders are welcomed onto the marae, (a sacred open meeting place) by Maori elders.  Recently there has been a lot of dissension and Waitangi Day has become the focal point for Maori discontent.

However, apart from the Treaty we do have the Waitangi Tribunal where claims by Maori for redress for breaches by the Crown  are made.  The claims and settlements have been a significant feature of race relations since 1975.

Successive Governments have attempted to compensate Maori for the loss of their land and quite large settlements have been awarded.  This too has caused dissension particularly among the Pakeha (the Maori word for those not Maori) and some of the Maori tribes who have not received compensation.

So while February 6 should be a day of rejoicing and celebration, it is regularly marked with protest.  This year the Prime Minister, John Key was ‘drowned out’ by protesters when making his speech.

Our peaceful bi-cultural nation is hurting under the arguments and protests and in the end nobody wins.