Local Heart, Global Soul

October 23, 2018

(Just Nuke The Bills Please)…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Regular readers of this blog will know that I love keeping my eyes peeled when travelling around for sights that are weird, wonderful, strange and quirky.

I have an eclectic collection of man-hole covers, many of them with interesting decorative features.

Then there is the Loo collection, interesting toilets encountered during my travels.

On this occasion it’s time to add to my eccentric and eclectic Letterbox collection.

Whilst this one is not amazingly creative like one I photographed here:

This Bird will Make You Do a U-Turn, And So Will Her Friend… ” , it is ingenious and creative for other reasons.

Someone has recycled an old microwave into a new life as their letterbox.

It’s rather ingenious really, not only does it keep your mail dry from the infamous West Coast weather (more on this later), it also saves an old microwave from landfill and conserves the resources of the planet.

Wouldn’t it be nice if it could just nuke bills and Inland Revenue requests demands for payment? Never forget the icing on the cake here too; should someone trying to reach you by post perchance forget your address, all they would need to do is to draw a little map of the Coast, make a small “x” fractionally south of Greymouth and note on the envelope that you are trying to reach the place that has a microwave as a letterbox. I am really sure that the post would reach this destination nuke problem.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 22, 2018

Greymouth On The “Coast”…

Filed under: GREYMOUTH,NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,West Coast /Westland Province — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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After our dinner at the hostel in Greymouth, we still have quite a lot daylight and so opt for a drive around town. This is a photographic post as we acquaint ourselves with this area of New Zealand…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(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 20, 2018

Is Friendliness Perhaps Just A Matter Of Space?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This post is as usual, a continuation of a series of posts as Family Kiwidutch journey around, on this occasion our December 2017-January 2018 trip where we visited several different parts of New Zealand.

So far we have spent time catching up with friends and family, been to Wellington and back from our base in Christchurch, Himself has passed out directly after getting out of a hot tub; “Drama Of The Sort I Could Do Without… “, we have come up to Hanmer Springs and almost immediately hit the road again on a spur of the moment side trip.

Himself managed to leave behind in Hanmer Springs the suitcase that contained his and my clothes, my medication, nebulizer and our toiletries, so an urgent shopping trip ensued:  Just The Clothes We Stood Up In… , and now the next thing we needed to get sorted in our Greymouth accommodation was food.

Stomachs were rumbling after our shopping spree, luckily the “South Of The Barber Hostel” has a large communal kitchen where we can not only cook up a feast, but also make acquaintance with other tourists stopping for the night here too. They come from all over the world, some have only a few short weeks to tick as many places as possible off their New Zealand places, experiences and sights bucket list, others have three months and are travelling at a more leisurely pace.

Their stories and experiences are amazing. Apart from a few tiny hiccups (food stolen from one of the fridges during their stay) their experiences have been overwhelmingly positive, their praise for the friendliness of New Zealanders abounding.

For me, as a New Zealand born and raised Kiwi, it is just “standard” good manners and upbringing/culture to lend a hand when I can, to give some local advice to help someone else out, tourist or fellow Kiwi, offer hospitality, food, lodging or skills when I can. It never fails to surprise me that visitors to New Zealand are shocked to find it so, What is so different in societies of their home counties that people find my “normal” so exceptional? Maybe the answer is in population sizes?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Netherlands has been my long term home for over twenty years now, and with 17 million people crammed into a space the size of the New Zealand Province of Canterbury, the way people live could not be more different from the country I was born in, so it should maybe be no surprise that people live in a less communal way.

People here are surprised if you say “good morning” to them on the street, cars force themselves into gaps in the traffic because they don’t expect that someone will take the time to let them in, If you are on a busy road and let someone in from a side street, it’s not unusual that someone behind you honks their horns in annoyance, even if the traffic light ahead is red.

Probably traffic manners are a bad example; nice, reasonable, kind people all over the world can turn into monsters when they get behind the wheel of their vehicles.

Maybe it’s a fact that when people are in a crowd and crowded society, they tend to look after No.1 more, there is more competition and they have to fight harder to be at the front of the queue for everything: roads, jobs, schools, leisure spots, flights, it probably even starts in nursery. I take to Wikipedia to compare the population of the Netherlands and the land area it fits into;

https://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/nz(.html
Provinces of New Zealand”
Province of Canterbury -Area in square kms: 44.508km², Population: 612.000, Population density:13.48

…in contrast you could easily fit all of the Netherlands into the New Zealand Province of Canterbury:
Area in square kms:  41,526 km², Population: 17,000,000, Population density: (August 2018:415 per km2),  making it thirty-first most densely populated  country in the world.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demography_of_the_Netherlands
“Wikipedia / Demography of the Netherlands”

Who knows what the real reason is, I’m just guessing here and putting out an idea. Either way these compliments about friendliness that Kiwi’s should be proud of but never complacent about.

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 18, 2018

South Of The Barber… But No Hair Cutting Involved!

Filed under: GREYMOUTH,NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,West Coast /Westland Province — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We have reached our destination for the evening: Greymouth.

Since this trip was planned only the day before, and it’s “high season” for the travelling tourist, last minute accommodation was difficult to find.

We eventually found “South of the Barber”, a Hostel.

Victor and his wife are a married couple with small children who have sunk everything into a large villa on the hill, turning it into an amazing place.

The downside of booking late is that the only room left for four people (there were no separate rooms left either) contained a pair of bunk beds.

I am of course not climbing up any sort of ladder so I got first dibs on one of the bottom bunks, the kids were left to squabble over the other one until Himself and I remembered the family room incident in the hotel we stayed in Germany when we went to LEGOLAND.

Little Mr has a tendency to sleepwalk when he is anxious about something, or when he is not in his own bed at home. We would regularly travel and have him come and “visit” during the night, even coming and putting his arms around my necks for a hug on one occasion (sweet, but rather off-putting when you are awoken from a deep sleep).

The Germany incident involved him sleepwalking out of the top bunk and landing on the floor, but thankfully taking all of the bedding he was wrapped up in, with him. That cushioned his fall and he made a sleepy muttering to the tune of “what happened?” and promptly went back to sleep.  Himself picked him up and put him next to me in the double, then changed places and took the top bunk for the rest of the night.

Recalling nothing of the nights events, Little Mr was more than a little confused finding himself in a different bed the next morning. Realising that the kid had unknowingly had a very close shave,  Himself and I resolved that Little Mr should stick to beds closer to the floor from now on, so the beds were allocated via parental intervention despite Kiwi Daughters mutters of discontent.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Victor is a mine of information and amazingly helpful. Usually guests are required to park on the street below the house, there is a tiny parking space at the top of the ridiculously steep drive (Himself and I looked at the drive and then my wheelchair and laughed in a “you have to be kidding, no way in God’s green earth” sort of way) and then at the steps out the front in a similar fashion.

Luckily we could park up top squeezed in next to the  drive and I could go with crutches in and out via the back door.

There is a large wall map of this area of the coast and photographs from spots within this area, also information folders. Victor himself is a mine of information, friendly and welcoming, full of tips about travel, the area and places to see.

The hostel has Remu (a beautiful New Zealand hardwood with a warm colouring) floors and fittings, and many of it’s original character features. It has buckets of charm, but obviously also needs buckets of cash to run, heat in winter, maintain etc.

It’s a recent acquisition and labour of love for the owners, and judging by the number of summer reservations, it’s busy too. The bedrooms are clean and bright but for a family of four in one little room it was a tight squeeze. On the other hand we are only sleeping here and for such a last minute deal we were lucky to have a bed at all. “Beggars can’t be choosers” as the saying goes. There is an internal flight of stairs for me to negotiate but this just meant getting Little Mr to run upstairs to fetch stuff I needed before I went up for bed myself later in the evening. There is one last part of the building I haven’t photographed here, but that’s for tomorrows post…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

South of the Barber Accommodation
15 Alexander St, Greymouth 7805, New Zealand

October 17, 2018

Reefton To Greymouth, Local History And The Locals…

Filed under: NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,West Coast /Westland Province — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We are almost at our destination for the night, we have come from Reefton (details in my yesterday’s post) and arrived in Greymouth.

Literally located on the mouth of the Grey River, it’s one of only three large towns in the province of Westland (also known as the West Coast). The others being Westport and Hokitika.  (Pronounced “Hoe-car-tik- ah”). 

Reefton could be added as the forth smaller town if you are counting the places that have more than one thousand people.

Locals in the province are called “Coasters” and driving across a very typical one-way bridge reminded me of a few facts and a story my Granddad once told us. First: the bridge is wooden but due to the high rainfall here, economics and ease of manufacture, it’s got a layer of asphalt over the boards.

This is typical of many county bridges in New Zealand but no-where more so than on the West Coast. My New Zealand Granddad was born a few days after my Great Grandparents stepped off the ship from England and they came to the West Coast for work. He told just that before the neat signs were made with arrows indicating who has right of way should two vehicles show up at the same time, and in the times when having a beer (or few) in the pub and then driving home was the norm, that there was a “code” for who would go first on these bridges. He then laughed and told us, half seriously, that the rule was “my turn, your turn, my turn, your turn“.

Of course it doesn’t take much to figure out the error of this logic but this being the West Coast he may not have actually been joking. Coasters have a reputation of being a tough lot, full of ingenuity, resourcefulness, a small amount of rashness and with a great sense of humour.

On the occasion of my Grandparents 50th Wedding anniversary, (posted here:  “A House That Will Almost Literally be Here Today and Gone Tomorrow… ”  https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/2012/02/01/new-597/    ) a full family get-together turned into a confession night of all the things my Mother and her brothers had done as kids, also antics of my Granddad where experiments to remove tree stumps involved dynamite and resulted in an extremely badly controlled explosion and kindling wood flying around a large radius like shrapnel. This also resulted in one of my mothers older brothers trying a similar thing at a later date but instead of the tree “trim” they were aiming for, the entire tree, roots and all, exited the ground and could easily have killed any of the small group of kids who had assembled to watch.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 16, 2018

Reefton Lights Up The Southern Hemisphere…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Family Kiwidutch went on a road trip in January 2018, making a side trip away from their favourite haunt in Hanmer Springs.

We have left Maruia Springs and our mornings tea (well, breakfast for the kids) and head onwards until we come to a fork in the highway.

The map tells us that branching to the north on State Highway 65 would eventually bring us out in Nelson, (yellow line on the map below) another New Zealand gem all on it’s own, but for future trip.

Staying on State Highway 7 will bring us to Greymouth, via Reefton (red line). Shortly after Reefton the road branches again, keeping west brings us out in Greymouth, whereas branching to the north-west would bring you to Westport (blue line) Ergo the Kilometre distance marker to each being exactly the same.

We are heading to Greymouth, so following the red line. I am informed by Wikipedia that: “In 1888 Reefton became the first town in New Zealand and the Southern Hemisphere to receive electricity,the work of Walter Prince, and its streets were lit by commercial electricity generated by the Reefton Power Station.

Rich veins of gold found in a quartz reef near the town led to its name, and also its former name of Quartzopolis. (Kiwi’s note: “Quartzopolis” sounds like the name of the villains lair in a comic strip or movie).

Intrigued by a name I have never heard of I did a quick search and found this http://www.ipenz.org.nz/heritage/itemdetail.cfm?itemid=2096 “Engineering Heritage of New Zealand”: “In 1886, following a demonstration of electric lighting in four of the hotels in Reefton by self styled “electrician”, Walter Prince, it was decided to form a company to build a power station to provide electricity for the lighting the town.

The Reefton Power Station was completed a few years later and on 4 August 1888 it became the first public power supply in New Zealand.”
Gold was first discovered near the town in 1866, although the major discovery was made in 1870. Soon after, the town briefly boasted a population of several thousand. This later dwindled to less than a thousand. Other industries in the town are coal mining, forestry, tourism and angling.

The town as it is today looks lively, and very much geared up for the passing tourist trade, taking advantage of the winding roads, vastly different driving conditions than most northern hemisphere tourists are used to and thus the need for a break from driving, restrooms and refreshments. This is a country town with plenty of guts and life, staying relevant and making the most of it’s location. I could live In Reefton very happily indeed.

Hanmer to Greymouth, Map made via Google Earth.

Opps… I forgot to add the map until some hours after this posted, apologies. (I’d made the post several weeks before, and the map at the last minute because I thought it would help to visualise how the route we took looked on a map.) Then of course I forgot to actually add the map to the blog post. Duh… I’ll blame my pain medications but realistically I just have moments of stupid and this apparently was one of them!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 15, 2018

Maruia Springs And A Stream On The Balcony…

Filed under: PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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Our car journey towards the South Island’s Lewis Pass continues, but needing to take a break from the hills we decide to pull over to an old haunt of many years ago; Maruia Springs. Himself and I fondly remember a stop here, at another thermal hot springs, a tiny settlement where if you want you can hire a chalet sort of hut that has it’s own private thermal pool inside. There is a picture window facing out to the mountain valley beyond, and the huts are aligned in such a way that none of them overlook each other, so swim suits in the private pools are optional. This time we are only here for a break, so head inside to the café / restaurant.  Technically we are no longer in the Province of Canterbury any more, having crossed the border into the West Coast a few kilometres back.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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Some of the thermal water has been diverted to run along the café balcony, the water is constantly warm and runs in one end, out the other, and is an instant magnet with both of the kids who can’t resist putting their hands in it…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 14, 2018

Heading North West Towards The Pass…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The Kiwidutch kids have come up with a joint request, (something they both agree on? I think we may have to take a few temperatures!) and this is go make a side trip so that they can tick a destination off their travel wish-list.

Then came some quick calculations to figure out when we could make this happen.

We had several friends and relatives coming to Hanmer expressly to visit us so when the calendar came out we realised that the next few days would be the only time a detour trip could be squeezed in.

In spite of her tired arms, back and blistered hands from stacking firewood, Kiwi Daughter swiftly got to work packing her suitcase.

Little Mr. did the same, without the tired arms etc. I packed what Himself and I would need into one small suitcase, put my laptop into my backpack with my pain medication and in no time at all we were ready for an early morning start the next day.

There were other suitcases and our stuff in the little house but since there would be people coming from an outside company to fix the malfunctioning Wi-Fi, we decided to leave the key to the house and stack our other clothes and valuables in the little shed at the back of the property out of the way and under separate lock and key.

We couldn’t bring the car up the drive because of the firewood pile in front of the garage, so it was parked on the street for the night.

Early the next morning we were busy getting cases and foodstuffs into the car and rousing sleepy teenagers into enough action to pack them into the vehicle too. Tasks completed we set out bright and early and soon came across a hitch-hiker. His name was Issac and he was going to walk park of the famous Saint James Walkway. We were going his way and had a bigger vehicle so he and his backpack were soon on board. We would our way towards the Lewis Pass, one of only three road passes to traverse the Southern Alps.  The river valleys are beautiful scenery and Himself loves the quiet, winding roads in the South Island, it’s a “proper drive” compares to the motorways of Europe he always says. We set out, a mountain pass is calling…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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