Local Heart, Global Soul

May 25, 2018

Let’s Put A …WHAT? On The Roof!

Filed under: ART,Mural,NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,Quirky Sights,WELLINGTON — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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Visiting Wellington New Zealand in the summer rain is not the easiest of sight-seeing tours. (“Just more buildings Mam?”) Luckily we are having a small run of fun and whimsical sights to relieve the kid’s boredom. This one is a golden hippopotamus on the roof of the ground floor verandah. As you do.
I think it’s fun… and I’m adding it to my list of quirky, whimsical sights that brighten up my day.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

May 24, 2018

Bright, Humorous And Quirky!

Filed under: ART,Mural,NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,Quirky Design,WELLINGTON — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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Having visited the excellent Brickworld LEGO exhibition in Te Papa, rain or no rain, Family Kiwidutch decide to take a small look around Wellington City. We don’t have to drive far before we see this mural. As a “collector” of these kind of images, I quickly tried to get a decent close-up. This mural is bright, humorous and quirky… right up my street!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

May 23, 2018

“People Probably Won’t Even Notice”… But They Do!

Regular readers of this blog know that I am always on the lookout for quirky things. Detail stands out like neon for me, I see it everywhere. There are thousands of functional items on a single city street, somewhere, somehow , sometimes, someone had the opportunity to make part of these functional items decorative. I’m fairly positive someone also uttered the phrase “I wonder why we bother? people will probably not even notice this” (the decoration).

Well Mr or Ms Designer: I notice! Even whilst I’m waiting in the Te Papa, parking area for Himself to pack the wheelchair into the car, standing with the crutches so that he can put them in last, I notice that the top of the bollards around me are decorated with Kiwi’s! I haven’t had the chance to see if there are more of these around the city of Wellington, but hey, this is brilliant. Just sneak tiny little pieces of detail into some of the thousands of pieces of functional items on city streets, and make (at least some) people smile.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

May 22, 2018

Waka: Canoes That Ruled The Sea…

Filed under: NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,WELLINGTON,Wellington. Te PaPa — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Before leaving TePaPa I am keen to look at one exhibit in particular, the beautiful Waka on display.

Unfortunately for me it is housed in low light settings and since I am not a fan of using the camera flash this presented a problem.

Himself was getting restless by now, and keen to wheel me to where the other were waiting, the smaller children from our hosts extended family being rather overly tired by now. I therefore took these photographs under less than idea circumstances. Nevertheless, the carving is stunning and I hope to return on a future trip to photograph it better. The first photograph in this post is of the entrance area.

Waka” (pronounced: “wok ah”) are Māori watercraft, usually canoes ranging in size from small, unornamented canoes (waka tīwai) used for fishing and river travel, to large decorated war canoes (waka taua) up to 40 metres (130 ft) long.

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Waka taua (in Māori,waka means “canoe” and taua means “army” or “war party”) are large canoes manned by up to 80 paddlers and are up to 40 metres (130 ft in length.

Large waka, such as Nga Toki Matawhaorua which are usually elaborately carved and decorated, consist of a main hull formed from a single hollowed-out log, along with a carved upright head and tailboard.

The gunwale is raised in some by a continuous plank which gives increased freeboard and prevents distortion of the main hull components when used in a rough seas.

Sometimes the hull is further strengthened, as in the case of Te Winika, a 200-year-old design, by a batten or stringer running lengthwise both inside and outside the hull just above the loaded waterline. The resurgence of Māori culture has seen an increase in the numbers of waka taua built, generally on behalf of a tribal group, for use on ceremonial occasions.

Traditionally the war canoe was highly tapu (sacred).

No cooked food was allowed in the craft and the waka had to be entered over the gunwales, not the bow or stern which were highly decorated with powerful symbols. Canoes were often painted with black or white with black representing death.

The main colour was red which stood for tapu. Sometimes a waka would be placed upright as a marker for a dead chief with the curved bottom of the hull carved.

Māori told missionaries during the Musket wars that battles between waka took place at sea with the aim being to ram an enemy’s waka amidships at high speed. The ramming vessel would ride up over the gunwale and either force it under water or cause it to roll over.

The enemies were either killed, left to drown or captured to be used in cannibal feasts or as slaves if they were female. This description matches the attack on the ship’s boat of Abel Tasman in Golden Bay in 1642 when a Māori catamaran rammed a cock boat and 4 Dutch sailors were killed.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waka_(canoe)
Wikipedia / Waka / Maori Canoe / New Zealand

May 21, 2018

Star Wars LEGO, Not Just The Box Is Hefty…

Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY,WELLINGTON,Wellington. Te PaPa — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Exiting the Brickworld LEGO exhibition, Little Mr and I find ourselves once more in the “pop-up” shop outside.

This time we look inside (it was tiny so this didn’t take long) and there were the usual conversations about how some of the sets were on his wish-list, hints about his upcoming Birthday and the like.

The usual responses were uttered, practical elements of just-how-on-earth-would-we-get it home?

A reminder the a trip to the LEGO shop in Singapore is already planned for the return journey, etc etc.

Little Mr is not “into” Star Wars at all, but we both stopped in our tracks (wheels for me) when we saw this Star Wars set.

The box was large and heavy too (I went to lift it up for a slightly better camera angle, having first asked if would be ok to take photographs).

It wasn’t just the box that was weighty… the price was pretty hefty as well.

Eight hundred ninety-nine dollars and ninety-nine cents, Phew!!! I looked up the currency conversion and got these results: Euro 525.66 and US Dollar: 621.34. Even Little Mr. thought that this was far too expensive for LEGO bricks.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

May 20, 2018

From Concorde To The International Space Station…

The next pieces in the Te PaPa Brickworld LEGO exhibition concern Man’s innovations into breaking free from the confines of earthly barriers. The first is the breaking of the sound barrier in “normal” passenger travel, and then even further free from our atmosphere in the shape of the International Space Station. Family Kiwidutch visited a real Concord: (https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/new-1587/ This Old Lady Was Once Faster Than a Speeding Bullet… ) when we visited the Fleet Air Arm Museum in the town of Yeovilton, England, so we had a reference to compare the details of this model to the real thing. One thing that is very striking is the tiny space in the passenger cabin. To say that this plane is skinny is an understatement, Concord is positively anorexic in the width of the passenger cabin. I know one person who has travelled on Concord, he saved up for the trip and flew to New York. He rated it as a very special experience, but it was almost too short a trip for the amount paid for the ticket. Sadly the drain on his wallet meant an economy flight back to Europe, the experiences poles apart.

(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)

The model of the International Space Station was appropriately enough, far above our heads. I captured what detail I could, it’s a bigger model than I bargained on, and getting it to hang up must have been no small feat either.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concorde
Wikipedia / Aircraft / Concorde

Wikipedia / International Space Station
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Space_Station

May 19, 2018

A Titanic Effort Brings A Tragedy To Life…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I am continuing documenting our visit to the LEGO exhibition in Te PaPa, Wellington, New Zealand in the last week of December 2017.

I often use Wikipedia for research in my posts, and it’s usual that I edit these to make the text fit the style and length of my posts. It’s less usual that I need to change anything at all though, and this is one of these times.

Wikipedia tells me: “RMS Titanic sank in the early morning of 15 April 1912 in the North Atlantic Ocean, four days into the ship’s maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City. The largest passenger liner in service at the time, Titanic had an estimated 2,224 people on board when she struck an iceberg at around 23:40 (ship’s time) on Sunday, 14 April 1912.

Her sinking two hours and forty minutes later at 02:20 (ship’s time; 05:18 GMT) on Monday, 15 April, resulted in the deaths of more than 1,500 people, which made it one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history.

Titanic received six warnings of sea ice on 14 April but was travelling near her maximum speed when her lookouts sighted the iceberg. Unable to turn quickly enough, the ship suffered a glancing blow that buckled her starboard side and opened five of her sixteen compartments to the sea.

Titanic had been designed to stay afloat with four of her forward compartments flooded but no more, and the crew soon realised that the ship would sink. They used distress flares and radio (wireless) messages to attract help as the passengers were put into lifeboats.

In accordance with existing practice, Titanic’s lifeboat system was designed to ferry passengers to nearby rescue vessels, not to hold everyone on board simultaneously; therefore, with the ship sinking rapidly and help still hours away, there was no safe refuge for many of the passengers and crew. Compounding this, poor management of the evacuation meant many boats were launched before they were completely full.

As a result, when Titanic sank, over a thousand passengers and crew were still on board. Almost all those who jumped or fell into the water either drowned or died within minutes due to the effects of cold water immersion.

RMS Carpathia arrived on the scene about an hour and a half after the sinking and rescued the last of the survivors by 09:15 on 15 April, some nine and a half hours after the collision. The disaster shocked the world and caused widespread outrage over the lack of lifeboats, lax regulations, and the unequal treatment of the three passenger classes during the evacuation. Subsequent inquiries recommended sweeping changes to maritime regulations, leading to the establishment in 1914 of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), which still governs maritime safety today.”

It’s not only the sheer size of this piece that is breath-taking, so is the attention to detail. Around most of the LEGO exhibits, loud babble of chatter and general noise pervaded. I noticed that people were distinctly more quiet around this one. I heard parents quietly explaining to their children that this model is based on true events, a lot of people just quietly looked. Of course there were also people exclaiming to others about one detail or another, but the reduction in noise around this piece was noticeable. With a titanic effort in creating this piece, the builders have brought the history of this tragedy to life.

(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)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinking_of_the_RMS_Titanic
Wikipedia / RMS Titanic / Pasenger Liner Disaster

May 18, 2018

Unfinished Business At The Ryugyong Hotel…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Ryugyong Hotel, (sometimes spelled as Ryu-Gyong Hotel) is an unfinished 105-story, 330-metre-tall (1,080 ft) pyramid-shaped skyscraper in Pyongyang, North Korea.

Its name (“capital of willows”) is also one of the historical names for Pyongyang. The building is also known as the 105 Building, a reference to its number of floors. Planned as a mixed-use development, which would include a hotel, construction began in 1987 but was halted in 1992 as North Korea entered a period of economic crisis after the fall of the Soviet Union.

After 1992 the building stood topped out, but without any windows or interior fittings. In 2008 construction resumed, and the exterior was completed in 2011. It was planned to open the hotel in 2012, the centenary of Kim Il-sung’s birth. A partial opening was announced for 2013, but cancelled. As of 2018, the building remains unopened and has been called the tallest unfinished and unoccupied building in the world.

The building consists of three wings, each measuring 100 metres (330 ft) long, 18 metres (59 ft) wide, and sloped at a 75‑degree angle, which converge at a common point to form a pinnacle. The building is topped by a truncated cone 40 metres (130 ft) wide, consisting of eight floors that are intended to rotate, topped by a further six static floors. The structure was originally intended to house five revolving restaurants, and either 3,000 or 7,665 guest rooms, according to different sources.

The plan for a large hotel was reportedly a Cold War response to the completion of the world’s tallest hotel, the Westin Stamford Hotel in Singapore, in 1986 by the South Korean company SsangYong Group.

Scheduled to open in June 1989 for the 13th World Festival of Youth and Students, problems with building methods and materials delayed completion. Had it opened on schedule, it would have surpassed the Westin Stamford Hotel to become the world’s tallest hotel, and would have been the seventh-tallest building in the world.

Japanese newspapers estimated the cost of construction was $750 million, consuming 2 percent of North Korea’s GDP. For over a decade, the unfinished building sat vacant and without windows, fixtures, or fittings, appearing as a massive concrete shell. According to Marcus Noland, in the late 1990s, the European Union Chamber of Commerce in Korea inspected the building and concluded that the structure was irreparable. Questions were raised regarding the quality of the building’s concrete and the alignment of its elevator shafts, which some sources said were “crooked”.

The halt in construction, the rumours of problems and the mystery about its future led foreign media sources to dub it “the worst building in the world”Hotel of Doom” and “Phantom Hotel”.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In April 2008, after 16 years of inactivity, work on the building was restarted by the Egyptian company Orascom Group.

The firm, which had entered into a US$400 million deal with the North Korean government to build and run a 3G mobile phone network, said that their telecommunications deal was not directly related to the Ryugyong Hotel work.

Officials stated that the hotel would be completed by 2012, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the birth of the “Eternal President”, Kim Il-sung.
In July 2011, it was reported that the exterior work was complete.

Features that Orascom had installed include exterior glass panels and telecommunications antennae. In September 2012, photographs taken by Koryo Tours were released, showing the interior for the first time. There were few fixtures or furnishings.

In November 2012, international hotel operator Kempinski announced it would be running the hotel which was expected to partially open in mid‑2013. In March 2013, plans to open the hotel were suspended.
Kempinski clarified its earlier statements saying that only “initial discussions” had ever occurred, but that no agreement had been signed because “market entry is not currently possible”.

In late 2016 there were indications that work was resuming, and a report that a representative of Orascom had visited North Korea. In 2017 and early 2018, there were signs of work at the site, with access roads being constructed. In April 2018, it was reported that a large LED display featuring the North Korean flag had been added to the top of the building.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

St Mark’s Square…

Piazza San Marco (St Mark’s Square), is the principal public square of Venice, Italy, where it is generally known just as la Piazza (“the Square”). The Piazzetta (“little Piazza/Square”) is an extension of the Piazza towards the lagoon in its south east corner. The two spaces together form the social, religious and political centre of Venice and are commonly considered together. The Square is dominated at its eastern end by the great church of St Mark.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Car Racing: In this part of the exhibition, visitors could build their own vehicle but also race it against all comers (Watching quietly from a distance, it was almost impossible to determine who was the most competitive; the kids or the adults!)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ryugyong_Hotel
Wikipedia / Ryugyong Hotel / North Korea

Wikipedia / Piazza San Marco / St Mark’s Square / Venice / Italy
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piazza_San_Marco

May 17, 2018

Himeji Castle And A Golden Gate…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I’ve now come to a World landmark in the Te Papa Wellington, New Zealand LEGO exhibition that I know nothing about: Himeji Castle in Japan. I’d like to know more about this beautiful building so did a little bit of research.

Wikipedia tells me: “Himeji Castle is a hilltop Japanese castle complex situated in the city of Himeji, in the Hyōgo Prefecture of Japan. Regarded as the finest surviving example of prototypical Japanese castle architecture, it comprises a network of 83 buildings with advanced defensive systems from the feudal period.

It gained the nickname: Hakuro-jō (“White Heron Castle”) because of its brilliant white exterior and supposed resemblance to a bird taking flight.

Dating from 1333, when Akamatsu Norimura built a fort on top of Himeyama hill.

The fort was dismantled and rebuilt as Himeyama Castle in 1346, and then remodeled into Himeji Castle two centuries later. Himeji Castle was then significantly remodeled in 1581 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who added a three-story castle keep.

In 1600, Tokugawa Ieyasu awarded the castle to Ikeda Terumasa for his help in the Battle of Sekigahara, and Ikeda completely rebuilt the castle from 1601 to 1609, expanding it into a large castle complex. The castle complex comprises a network of 83 buildings such as storehouses, gates, corridors, and turrets.

For over 400 years, Himeji Castle has remained intact, even throughout the extensive bombing of Himeji in World War II, and natural disasters such as the 1995 Great Hanshin earthquake.

Himeji Castle is the largest and most visited castle in Japan, and it was registered in 1993 as one of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country.

The area within the middle moat of the castle complex is a designated Special Historic Site and five structures of the castle are also designated National Treasures.

In order to preserve the castle buildings, it underwent restoration work for several years and reopened to the public on March 27, 2015. The works also removed decades of dirt and grime, restoring the formerly grey roof to its original brilliant white colour.”

It’s interesting to find out about somewhere I have never heard of before… and it’s a very cool LEGO build as well.

(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)

Then on the far distant side of the Pacific, we “travel” to the Golden Gate Bridge.

Wikipedia tells us: “The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate, the one-mile-wide (1.6 km) strait connecting San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean.

The structure links the American city of San Francisco, California – the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula – to Marin County, carrying both U.S. Route 101 and California State Route 1 across the strait.

The bridge is one of the most internationally recognized symbols of San Francisco, California, and the United States.

It has been declared one of the Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.[

The Frommer’s travel guide describes the Bridge as “possibly the most beautiful, certainly the most photographed, bridge in the world.”

At the time of its opening in 1937, it was both the longest and the tallest suspension bridge in the world, with a main span of 4,200 feet (1,280 m) and a total height of 746 feet (227 m).”

One thing is for certain: building bridges in LEGO is a lot harder than it looks.

I’ve tried to build several small bridges at home because I had the bright idea of building elevated LEGO train tracks with his buildings and cars below. Little Mr had previously been running the trains next to the LEGO road plates but we kept having cars on tracks, trains on road. I thought it would be a space saving idea as well. I failed spectacularly on every attempt to build a decent bridge so I have a very special appreciation for the technical difficulties that need to be overcome to make a structure not only stand, look amazing and be instantly recognisable as the world famous landmark it is, as well.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Himeji_Castle
Wikipedia / Himeji Castle / Japan

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Gate_Bridge
Wikipedia / Golden Gate Bridge / California / USA

May 16, 2018

This Build Hits the Favourites Lists…

Filed under: ART,LEGO,NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,WELLINGTON,Wellington. Te PaPa — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Thanks to Little Mr’s passion for LEGO,(and my own no-so-secret enjoyment of it too), I have visited a number of LEGO exhibitions, including LEGOLAND Germany.

During these visits I have seen numerous “builds” depicting famous landmarks and some of these have amazed me in their detail.

Of course amongst the many exhibits there have been some that stuck in my memory as favourites and on the occasion of our visit to Te Papa in Wellington New Zealand, I found another item for my favourite list.

It is a depiction of what is probably India’s most famous landmark: the Taj Mahal.

I think it must have been daunting to attempt to bring this beautiful building to life in the form of little plastic bricks, but with an attention to detail that fascinated and captivated, I think the builders have done an amazing job.

The building has been done in cut-away form, it wasn’t possible to get behind it and really see the “inside” of the dome, especially from mainly sitting in a wheelchair position and in a crowd.

I stood for short moments and tried to do this piece justice.

As is more often usual in these instances, the experience of seeing it up close, in person cannot be replaced. Realistically though, no-one can be everywhere at once in this world so a virtual trip and wonderful reminder of seeing it in person, will have to do in photographic form.


(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)

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