Local Heart, Global Soul

October 24, 2018

A Most Interesting Piece Of Infrastructure…

Filed under: HISTORY,LIFE,NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,West Coast /Westland Province — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Another thing that the New Zealand province of the West Coast is famous for is the myriad of stream and rivers on this side of the Main Divide (one of the names for the Southern Alps).

I mentioned a few posts ago that my Grandfather told us that the Coaster’s rule for giving way (especially after a visit to the Pub) was “My turn your turn, my turn…”

…and that needless to say there were probably more than a few near misses.

That is nothing however when compared to the close shaves that must have regularly occurred on some of these bridges: Why?

Because the headlights speeding towards you on the other side of the One Way bridge did not belong to a car, but to a train.

Yes, you figured that out correctly, the West Coast has one-way bridges where not only cars in both directions take turns to share a single lane, they also both share with trains going in both directions!

Phew, I bet that somewhere during the years that made for some scary games of Chicken and some truly hair raising moments! I assume the reason why these exist is just due to economics: you have just a handful of small towns along the entire length of the West Coast, in addition there are a few tiny settlements dotted along the coast but even in total the population is so small that investing in separate road and rail bridges is a massive expense. We come to one such bridge, fortunately sans train, and after waiting our turn cross one of the West Coasts most interesting pieces of infrastructure.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 21, 2018

Kiwi Daughter Starts Off In The Kitchen…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Whilst on the West Coast of New Zealand and staying in the “South of the Barber hostel”  in Greymouth we start cooking up an evening meal in the communal kitchen.

I was feeling tired so Himself told me to get in a nap because Kiwi Daughter really wanted to make a Caesar salad and wanted to help Himself cook.

We only have some very basic ingredients with us, pasta and a can of frankfurters and some cherry tomatoes that we would put separately on the side because Kiwi Daughter is allergic to raw tomatoes.

Cooked tomatoes are no problem, it’s apparently something to so with the tomato skins.

I get to do the dishes (I knew there had to be a catch somewhere!).

Kiwi Daughter remarked that she quite liked the cooking experience so Himself and I quickly responded with praise and told her she was most welcome to do it more often. Sadly that was met with “no thanks, this was enough“. Oh well, we tried. One day she will show a flicker of interest in learning to cook, probably when she leaves home and realizes that it’s something she wished she had taken an interest in at home! That said, her Caesar salad was excellent and she has to start somewhere so we encouraged her as much as possible. The meal filled a gap and after the dishes were done we could finally relax.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 19, 2018

Just The Clothes We Stood Up In…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We arrived at our accommodation in Greymouth and as you do when travelling, went to unpack our bags. The kids had their stuff but I didn’t see the bag I’d packed for Himself and I, so quipped to Himself, “Wow, that was fast, you got our bag upstairs already!”

This statement was met with a blank stare and a look of total confusion.  After a pause, he looked quizzically at me and said “er, nooo… you took that bag out didn’t you?” (as if in five minutes I’d lugged a suitcase upstairs on crutches).

I’d been talking to Victor and taking photographs. We retraced our steps and stood looking stupidly at the contents of the boot of the car: wheelchair, travel pillow, small travel blankets for if kids want to sleep, various small random discarded articles from the kids, first aid kit… that was it. No bag.

It took a moment for the penny to drop. Remembering the wood pile in front of the garage back in Hanmer Springs,  the people who needed to come and sort out the Wi-Fi so that it would be working when we got back, the decision to put the rest of our stuff under lock and key in the shed at the back of the property, it suddenly dawned on Himself that he’d gotten a little too enthusiastic when it came to putting bags away: our bag had been packed into the little shed instead of into the car for this trip.

“Heading North West Towards The Pass… ” https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/2018/10/14/new-2858/

We had the clothes we stood up in and the contents of my backpack.

The first question was a serious one about medication. I was missing everything except a stash of my morphine based pain relief. Fortunately I’d grabbed quite a lot more than I thought I would need, habit, because I’m always worried I’ll get caught out if we had to stay away longer due to bad weather, earthquake, accident etc.  My travel nebulizer was however also in the missing bag.

We contemplated going back, but that was a day’s drive and not an appealing option. I made a decision: I had my most needed pain medication, so the trip could continue as planned, we would watch the asthma situation and could got to a Doctor any time things looked like they were not under control. I was prepared to be wheezy, tired and slow for a few days. (no change thus!).

The kids were rather surprised to be rounded up and asked to get into the car because Himself and I were going shopping for clothes and stuff. Kiwi Daughter smelled and opportunity and was on board immediately, Little Mr. less so until the hint of LEGO was dangled in front of him if he would help fetch and carry for us.

Kiwi Daughter gets a clothing allowance in full at the beginning of each year. I pay her underwear, and things like a winter jacket, she pays the rest. Suddenly she was super, ultra, uber, mega, enormously helpful in the changing rooms, “wrong size? no problem Mama, I’ll fetch it for you!”… zooming off before I could even say Thank You. “Don’t want this one?… I’ll put it back!”

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Friendly advice was given about what looked best, she was even suddenly seriously diplomatic about what didn’t. Suddenly the model kid… (Where was my teenage Daughter?)

Of course I wasn’t born yesterday: there was motive behind it all, and of course there was something completely not my style and size, but hers, “accidently” arrived in my changing room.

Needless to say she ended up in the cubical next to me trying things on and of course, and quite a few other pieces ended up in the shipping basket and not coming out of her budget.

To her complete credit she was the one who found a rack with summer clearance stuff, the shop was making way for their Autumn collections, but for us, we could get a New Zealand summer, and then a northern Hemisphere summer wear out of everything within in a few months. The “Sale” prices were also ridiculously low, and the clothes looked great so even Himself ended up with a few extra Polo’s and shorts.

We then bought socks and underwear, toothbrushes, paste, razors and shaving foam, the list grew. So did the bill. Oh well, we now have spares and have stocked up for the Dutch summer as well. Little Mr and Kiwi Daughter helped search out toiletries and of course a small box of LEGO joined the list on the bill.

Both kids were delighted to have “scored” at our expense and Himself admitted that he couldn’t even complain about having to go shopping since the blunder was his fault. I also have to say that I am also more than pleased with our purchases, several of the tops I bought are perfect work attire, have become favourites and I wear one or other every week. This of course also became one of “those” moments in family life, this will always be the New Zealand trip where Himself left a suitcase behind and where, Himself and I had to go shopping “for everything” because for a short time at least, we were left with only the clothes we stood up in.

October 13, 2018

Woodn’t You Know It, It’s THIS Challenge Again…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Family Kiwidutch had just settled into our accommodation in Hanmer Springs in January 2018, when we received notification that the winter firewood supply would be arriving.

We were asked could we keep the garage open so that it could all be stacked inside to dry out for winter please?

could we  also please arrange a time convenient to us for this stacking to take place too?

Kiwi Daughter suddenly jumped up with an emphatic exclamation: “Stacking wood? MY Job! I want to do it!”

Her request was relayed to a very surprised Hanmer Holiday Homes staff who manage the house and bookings and Kiwi Daughter got her wish.

Kiwi Daughter has happy memories of completing a firewood stacking challenge almost five years previously:  “Kiwi Daughter Wood Prove Me Wrong…”  (https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/2017/01/05/new-2374/) and clearly is relishing the physical challenge once again.

They came with a trailer and dumped a very decent sized heap of wood in front of the garage door, closer at least to the stacking site than in the playhouse last time. She immediately grabbed the gardening gloves and set to work with gusto. In fact she worked so hard it was difficult to get her to some for dinner… a very familiar theme to that of the last time. She did however admit that it seemed to be harder work this time than last time, and that her hands were suffering a little in spite of the gloves.

Aches and pains aside Kiwi Daughter was proud of herself for persevering, and rightly so, we were proud of her too. She got through more than half of the pile the next day, but a sudden change in our holiday plans put the completion of her task on hold for several days. She did however get back to the task in hand as soon as we returned, and did an amazing job. Well Done sweetheart… this is a challenge you completed almost single handily this time and “Woodn’t” you know it, this city kid can get stuck into a heavy manual job and do herself proud!

August 30, 2018

Land Lines Keeping Us Grounded…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Seeing an “old fashioned” phone box on the street in 2018 is now an unusual thing.

It used to be the norm of course but the cost, size and convenience of mobile phones put paid to large numbers of them.

There is one time however when a land-line connection is completely invaluable.

During all of the major earthquakes of 2010/11 and even the later ones in 2013 and 2016, one of the first things to be lost is cell phone connectivity.

Not only can towers physically damaged but tens of thousands of calls flood through the network, overwhelming the system and freezing the grid completely.

It’s natural that people phone each other in times of disaster: parents had kids in the city where buildings were most damaged, parents needed to know that their kids were safe.

The elderly needing checking up on, smaller kids were with childcare, friends every where; the calls flooded in.

Directly after the 2010 quake I phoned my Father from the Netherlands using a land-line, he could receive my call but not call out or receive calls from mobile phones, all land lines took several attempts from here but did not work at all across the city.

I then used our land-line in The Netherlands to get through where they could not, and relay messages from family and friends so that they would know who was safe, if anyone needed help etc.

It was a strange idea that they could receive phone calls from the Netherlands whilst calls across their city failed.

Eventually everyone was present and accounted for and it was a relief to know.

Now, with so many people moving to new housing subdivisions, land-lines are being done away with, seen as no longer relevant, their use during the immediate aftermath of the quake seemingly completely forgotten.

Should there be another large earthquake that effects the central city of Christchurch, there are certain to be very long queues around these few lone remaining telephone boxes, with their land-line connections keeping us grounded.

July 28, 2018

One Way Or The Highway (In This Case One And The Same)…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

One of the wonderful things about New Zealand roads, and South Island roads in particular, is the State Highway system.

I adore that the main highway running the entire length of the island is for the vast majority of the way, one lane in either direction.

South Island roads have yet another gem too: one lane bridges, (Remember, this is the biggest and busiest road on an island that’s three quarters the size of the UK).

These are, as the name implies, bridges with only one lane; traffic takes turns but one side has priority via marked signs.

The black arrow is larger, and has priority, the red one smaller and doesn’t.

If you are on the side that doesn’t have priority and there are no vehicles on the bridge, or are so far away that you could reasonably get across in good time before the opposite vehicle could reach the bridge, then you may cross.

If an opposite vehicle is close enough to the bridge that they could enter or be on the bridge anywhere at the same time as you, then you wait and give way.

If you are a tourist and have priority, get onto the bridge and decide you need a selfie with the beautiful river, and there are other cars waiting then this is not the time to get your to ‘do the insta”.

Waiting traffic are to be polite and patient, cars on the waiting side queue with good manners.

If you have been waited for, it is customary to raise one hand in small wave of acknowledgement to each of the cars who waited for you as a “Thank You”. If you want to act like a friendly local then you raise one hand quickly back as a “You are most welcome” (or in Kiwi speak: “No worries mate”). Some One Way Bridges have passing bays, maybe on one side, maybe both sides as with this bridge. These are NOT meant so that traffic that should have given way, dive in and forgo taking turns, they are meant so that an emergency vehicle with flashing light and sirens blaring can get past quickly. In the unlikely event of this happening, you then dive into the passing bay (no matter which direction you are travelling) and let the emergency vehicle pass as quickly as possible. The passing bay is also meant so that vehicles that experience mechanical trouble on the bridge can be pushed out of the way and not block traffic flow. It’s not meant as a tourist stop.

Years and years back I heard a story which may well be just urban folklore… or not. Apparently a farmer lived near a One Way Bridge on a public road and needed to use the bridge more in one direction than the other (or maybe move stock, feed etc). Unfortunately that direction involved him needing to give way to oncoming traffic and his waiting times mounted. He grew increasingly impatient until he decided in the mid of night to go out with his tractor, dig up the priority signs and switch them around so that his side was now the side with priority. His “problem” was now solved. I do know that priority is not just given with a flip of a coin, the terrain is taken into account, view to the bridge so that drivers can judge if they can cross or not, I am sure the list goes on. However, true or not, Kiwi’s have a bit of a reputation for begrudging authority and rules so this would bring a smile to many a Kiwi, including me.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This photo of the river was made as we drove over, no passing bay used.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

July 21, 2018

Fed, Watered And Ready For The Road…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Visiting Kaikoura in the last days of 2017, and seeing how the town is recovering from the earthquake that shut down State Highway One to both the north and south, it hit home that when things are easy and we only have the “little stuff” to worry about, we should be grateful indeed.

There has been financial hardship, some people have left for good, there is still a way to go with the rebuilding process.

For all of the negative things that have happened here though, the overwhelming feeling I got during our visit is one of positivity, a strong sense of community and a resilience that even a 7.8 earthquake could not keep down.

The tourists are flooding back and speaking to family and friends they all intend to take rest stops here when they travel so that visitor money goes back into small businesses and the Kaikoura community.

We have appointments in Christchurch so can’t stay longer, our route out of town was via the (for me) familiar tree lined waterfront road along the bay.

We go over the hill that links the peninsular to the mainland and head towards the airport.

This tiny aerodrome has good memories for Himself and I regarding a trip here when we had Mark’s mother with us:

Whooo Whooo …catching a train, and dolphin (with a car and a helicopter!) https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/2010/04/03/new-post-testing-links/

When we passed here in 2017, things were busy, lots of planes and a few helicopters on the strip. It’s good to see. Now we are fed and watered and ready for the road…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

July 20, 2018

Acknowledging The Friendly Wave…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

One thing that I miss when I leave New Zealand is their level of friendliness.

It’s customary to give a quick wave of acknowledgement when passing other vehicles on country roads, to road workers as you go pass them in speed restricted areas, to waiting vehicles when you have had priority on one lane bridges, to someone in the city who lets you into a busy stream of traffic from a smaller side street, the list goes on.

It was therefore interesting to see that all of the Kaikoura workers on the newly reopened road were also acknowledging the drivers as they went by.

In some places it was hard to photograph, others like here easier, but all gave us a wave and a grin.

We remarked that this was only the first three weeks the road had been open, and wondered about the heavy summer holiday traffic and if they would be adhering to this unwritten “code of acknowledgement” in three months’ time, or longer.

What’s lovely about the situation in these photographs is that the road worker not only gave each of us on his side of the road a friendly wave once his “Stop” sign changed to “Go”, but in the meantime also gave a friendly wave to each vehicle passing in the opposite direction. (it’s a bit hard to see in the photographs because he is waving with his left hand, but this is a proper wave, not just raising his hand in a stiff manner.) We saw by the smile he gave us when we passed by that this is a genuine friendliness too, there are subtle ways of telling when people are just “going through the motions” and when they are not.

If we crawl past a road worker with a sign in the Netherlands, and I lift a hand in acknowledgement, both my kids will let out an exasperated “Mammm, No one does that here!”, or “ ew… stop that, it’s embarrassing!” and more often than not the road worker will give me a puzzled stare. Old habits are hard to break though, and if anything I think that anything that gives a touch of friendliness to strangers sharing our roads, city life and public spaces should be encouraged rather than rejected as a waste of time. Make someone smile, start a trend, whenever the moment is right, why not just acknowledge someone with a friendly wave?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

July 16, 2018

The Houses Of Our Youth…

Filed under: ART,Kaikoura & Region,LIFE,My Reference Library,NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Houses in the New Zealand of my childhood consisted of two main varieties. The first were brick, such as the house my grandparents lived in and the second was the wooden weather board home, often in the form of a villa.

There was a semi-standard form to the villa: a veranda at the front, a dining room, living room, on occasion in the larger ones a formal lounge, a long central hallway off which the rooms branched left and right, and a varying amount of bedrooms.

The size of each of the rooms often depended on the age of the villa, then a kitchen located at the rear, a laundry and shower often located off the kitchen.

These buildings were always for some strange reason rather poorly insulated so could be pretty cold in winter, but were cool in summer. In stark contrast with houses in Europe the roof was not tile, but painted corrugated iron.

I shared accommodation with other girls in several houses such as these when I first left home, and villas could be seen set back from the pavement with their surrounding gardens all along the street at the time.

One of these villas where I was “flatting” (sharing accommodation) in Colombo Street, Christchurch, New Zealand, the home dated from just after 1900, had belonged to a Doctor who had his practice at the front and his residence at the back. It had enormously high ceilings, large square rooms and a central hallway so wide and long that you could park two station wagons end to end in. It was an amazing space (usually- dance floor) for parties but a serious pig to vacuum.

The pipes in the kitchen threatened to freeze at the faintest hint of chill every winter but the back yard behind it had enough space for us to play volleyball in. Add to that, it was cheap. For two girls in employment and three university students it was perfect.

Five females in one residence was a balancing act when it came to the shower but we worked out a system and a cooking rota and it worked. One of the girls had a brother, who shared a house with three other guys about a half kilometer down Colombo Street from us. They were rather haphazard cooks so our cooking rota got torpedoed rather often when her brother would pop in rather conveniently just before dinnertime, and often several of his flat mates would be with him.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

They could clean out our fridge by standing in front of it with the door open and inhaling.

Many a weeks grocery shopping disappeared shortly after they arrived.

On the upside, they were all working and more cash than we did, so would often turn up with a fish and chip feed for everyone as a sort of Thank You.

Since I hung out with the girl who had the brother the most, we would often both be “shouted” (treated) extra’s like KFC when she and I were out together with them as well.

This girl and I were good friends and after habitual hassles with the students getting behind in rent, eventually went off together to a smaller “flat” nearby, where the fridge continued to be emptied by her brother and his mates, but they would also bring large volumes of ingredients if we would cook them roast dinners, so all in all it was a case of swings and roundabouts. Needless to say, the “boys’ flat was also a weatherboard villa, but one a lot smaller than ours. After more than a decade away from New Zealand I wanted to show my husband the place where I had spent several happy if chaotic years. To my shock, it was completely gone and in it’s place stood set of small modern brick retirement homes.The large parcel of land had obviously been too valuable for some developer to want to keep as a single residence. These weatherboard villas are either being done up to high spec, insulated and modernised inside, or, more often, being torn down.

The row of them in the central city, one of which was my home for several years too, also demolished. I think that only one stands today out of the entire row. In their places are modern concrete block and brick units, I am sure the heating bills are far reduced but so is the character and charm. In Kaikoura I happened upon one of these old villas, and it bought back a zillion memories. This one is in a rather run own state, it’s probably rented for a fairly low rent as the landlord gets the last mileage out of the place. Eventually it will meet the fate of thousands of other villas as the age of the “new build” takes over. In their heyday these were fabulous places, maybe not always the easiest of living but they were the places where thousands of students and kids with first jobs made their first forays away from the parental nests, and as fledglings learned together to make their way in the world. For this reason the villa will always be something special in my heart.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

July 2, 2018

Step-By-Step: How to Speed Up YouTube Videos…

Filed under: LIFE,Miscellaneous,PHOTOGRAPHY,This Blogging Lark — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , ,

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Some of us embrace technology, other of us stumble in techo-trembling through all of the maze of short-cuts and gibberish-like instructions we do not understand.

It is unfamiliar territory, either you seize upon the newest electronic gadget or try and stick to your rapidly getting older favourite computer, laptop, tablet or phone until the computer company decides that feeding it’s technological offspring updates is no longer viable and forces you to update.

If you are like Himself, he hates getting to know his way around a new phone, all he wants is a few basic functions and the old phone provided that, so why bother with an update?

YouTube is popular for showing videos. It’s a curse and a wonder. You can teach yourself plumbing, problem solve that tricky algebra question with the professor on your screen, or get roped into the scrolling videos on the right hand side of your screen, you know the ones: “10 airports with most difficult landings”, or “watch kittens trying to work our how to catch a fish on a tablet”.

Unbeknownst to me, YouTube does have quite few tricks up it’s sleeve. Thanks to Little Mr.  (but delivered with an exasperated sigh, and incredulous “didn’t you know that?”) I learned that you can play YouTube videos at more than one speed. Playing at 2x normal speed does of course do weird things to the accompanying music and makes any commentary unintelligible but in the case of the “Lengthening Interislander’s Aratere Ferry ” video, all I really wanted to see were the pictures anyway. Here is a short step-by-step tutorial about how to change the speed of YouTube videos… easy, …once you know this function existed!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Next Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.