Sunday, 30 May 2010

After rain comes snow!

It's still mushroom time on the golf course

Monarch in the garden

Towards Mt. Arthur, seen from the golf course. We can see these mountains from our bedroom windows and (a glimpse) from the lounge.

Same spot on the golf course (Waimea inlet), but now facing North East. Turning 180 degrees and you'll get the view with Mt. Arthur.

Same mountain range, seen from driving range.

We've had heaps of rain lately - I think that most of the country has been flooded in the last couple of weeks. First there was a severe drought at the end of summer, then suddenly the floodgates opened and rain never stopped, which got cars bobbing in the streets in Wellington, and then suddenly the temperature plummets and .... the first snow of the season arrives!

But Nelson wouldn't be Nelson without its great climate, and luckily for us, where others again had to wear their raincoats today, we basked in the sun, did a lot of gardening (leafs, leafs, and more leafs), played golf, played tennis, and managed open homes. The loveliest thing was to open the curtains this morning, as we knew we would be able to see the snowcapped mountains around us. We couldn't see them yesterday, because of an overcast day, but this morning all was crisp and clear - and just 2 degrees!! Brrr. But with our new heaters (we bought a couple more) and lots of sunshine (eventually we had 15 degrees today) it got nice and toasty inside.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Back in Nelson, nice weather, and heaters

I'm back home after another week at the Police College. Organising and being partly responsible for a course is exhausting, but very satisfying at the same time.

(lovely little glass art present from the participants of the course)

From a wet, nasty and stormy Wellington in 25 mins on friday afternoon to a calm and sunny Nelson, the difference in climate is sometimes very sweet. The remainder of the afternoon on the verandah, enjoying the last sunshine of the day.
Drinks and nibbles with the fire going, and Age and Mike working their butts off to secure the sale of a big block of land - with success.

Then today some more research into heating options. We have bought a couple of panel heaters for during the day, when we dont have the fire on. And decided to buy a new woodburner, not a pellet burner, as these apparently make noise caused by a fan and the pellets which fall down in the fire.
So two panel heaters for the conservatory and two for the lounge. See how that works out.


Monday, 17 May 2010

Why New Zealand is a lifestyle superpower

From the BBC News Radio Website:

Nick Bryant reflects on New Zealand's mix of controlled fury, subtle charm and social harmony, and asks why the rest of the world can't be more like it.

What can you tell about a country from the people you encounter at its point of entry?

Alas, in this age of globalised uniformity, the truth is, probably not that much.

Most of the immigration and customs officials that you come across in those sunlight-starved arrivals halls aren't very sunny themselves, as they mechanically stamp your passport or grudgingly wave you through.

But late the other night, I came across that rarest of bureaucratic beings - a middle-aged customs official with a sense of humour, a welcoming smile, blond dreadlocks which hung lazily over his shoulders, and a gloriously free spirit which he was delighted to share with a planeload of new arrivals from Australia.

He and his colleagues looked particularly kindly on us - a camera crew with almost as many bags as Imelda Marcos has shoes, which had arrived without one key item - the requisite paperwork to get us through customs.

"This need not be a major problem," they said with their Kiwi twangs, as we were welcomed into New Zealand, a land of geniality in a far-flung corner of the world.

Controlled fury

I confess that I have long been an admirer, even before I discovered that you could watch rugby union here morning, noon and night.

Whereas most countries these days have 24-hour rolling news channels, with thumping music and explosive footage, New Zealand has round-the-clock rolling mauls, with thumping tackles and explosive footballers.

With a channel devoted solely to rugby, it also means that you never have to wait long before getting to view what is surely sports superlative pre-match ritual - the Maori war cry known as the haka.

New Zealand's fabulous food and wine - and the sharp freshness of the air - make it one of the great lifestyle superpowers of the world

This, of course, is where the national team, the fabled All Blacks, face down the opposition with puffed out chests, sharp slaps of their thighs, lizard-like tongues and fuming eyes that look like they're about to burst, like ping pong balls, from their sockets.

If anywhere on the planet there's a more eloquent expression of controlled fury then I would dearly love to see it.

But for now, I'm quite happy to be fed a steady diet of haka at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Wherever you flick to on New Zealand television, it's hard to avoid a rugby star dressed in black - and rarely does a commercial break go by without one of the big-name stars trying to sell you something.

It takes a brave consumer, after all, to say no.

Sadly, the All Blacks have never managed to translate the dramatic range of their hakas to the more humdrum task of flogging white consumer durables, and most of them have the acting abilities of stage-struck waxworks.

Lifestyle superpower

Of course, I would not want you to think that my fondness for New Zealand merely flows from my love of rugby.

No, there's the fabulous food and wine, some of the most flavoursome coffee that you will find anywhere in the southern hemisphere - if not the world - and the sharp freshness of the air, all of which make it one of the great lifestyle superpowers of the world.

The Lord of the Rings turned Wellington into a world centre for film-making
There's also a funky arts scene, and a deep-held love of literature - the Kiwis are very bookish.

And such has been the global success of its film industry - with global mega-hits like the Lord of the Rings trilogy - that Wellington is now known as Wellywood.

They're even planning to erect giant capital letters high on a hill above the airport to spell out that success.

The irony is that the New Zealand film industry, under the tutelage of its most successful director, Sir Peter Jackson, is renowned for virtual reality.

This in a country where the real reality is so hard to beat.

Quaint fastidiousness

For all its attractions, there are times when it does feel like you are time-travelling in New Zealand.

Parts of it do feel like the land that the last four decades forgot. But its old-fashionedness can also be part of its subtle charm.

Take its televised coverage of Test cricket, where the commentators convene during the tea interval at a picnic table on the boundary. With quaint fastidiousness, they enjoy a pot of tea.

In other ways, though, New Zealand can be edgy and forward-thinking.

It was the first country to grant women the vote, and the first nation to see females occupy every high office of state.

It's just about to launch the world's most comprehensive emissions trading scheme to curb greenhouse gases, and some of its most senior civil servants are so with it, they look like they should be running organic supermarkets rather than the country.

Best of all, perhaps, is how non-indigenous New Zealanders live in such harmony with their indigenous compatriots.

Maori is taught in schools, a Maori chieftain adorns the country's coat of arms, and the indigenous heritage is a shared national heritage.

I hope to return soon to explore the fiords and mountains of the South Island, perhaps even its ski fields, and sample some of the world's finest Pinot Noir in the vineyards of Otago.

Next year it hosts the Rugby World Cup, but for now I will leave this country with my usual parting thought: "Why can't the rest of the world be more like New Zealand?"

Friday, 14 May 2010

Any interesting blogs out there?

Some people are getting a bit blog-exhausted, and are not updating their blogs often enough to remain their spot in our blog-links list. Our list of links is therefore becoming shorter and shorter - and another blog is set to disappear, as Jessica Watson, the 17-year old girl who sailed around the world, is due back in Sydney tomorrow. So no sailing updates anymore in the near future, I've followed her since the start of her journey 7 months ago and will miss her stories. If anyone knows some more interesting blogs to add to our links I'd like to hear it!

Volvo Ocean Race starting soon perhaps? Another event with a remarkable participant? Someone who's keeping a funny blog? Suggestions welcome!

Back in Nelson by the way, and going out for dinner tonight. Yummm.

Monday, 10 May 2010

In wton for 2 weeks

Together with eight participants from all over the country, I arrived at the College where I will be staying for 2 weeks. Not as a participant but as a developer of a course. I'll be evaluating if the course achieves what we set out to achieve, and will also do some other work.

Lovely weather today, so I thought better show you the views from my accommodation now!

Views over the inlet towards Titahi Bay

All looks very idyllic, which is true, but the college is quite isolated with nowhere to go if you don't have transport. We'll see how we go, the start of the course was good, and there's a BBQ tonight.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Logic and reasoning

Age and Evelyn are having lunch in the garden.

E: feel this plant, it has interesting tough leaves
A: (touching one leaf with one finger)
E: no, touch the whole branch and feel those leaves!
A: ( now touching just the branch)
E: no, grab the branch with your whole hand!
A: but there could be spiders and insects hiding
E: godallemachtig, and how are you going to cope when you'll be blind? You'll never know that that plant has tough leaves.
A: i'll have a stick then
A: and a dog
E: oh, a dog!
A: yes, and definitely a pair of gloves!