Local Heart, Global Soul

December 7, 2018

Sometimes You Need To Trust Your Gut…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The next morning we prepared to leave Greymouth.

It’s an early start partly because we want be to able  to take our time, especially through the really winding stretches of road.

It’s also an early start because no one slept well. I have been without everything except my strongest pain medication for several days now and my asthma in particular has been bad at night, with me  blocked up and emitting either a loud wheeze or snore at turns.

It’s been so bad that I kept up every other family member in our small, shared room. Even though they said I kept them awake “all night” and I know I was guilty of this, I was also kept awake by himself snoring as well for at least part of the night so no-one woke rested.

I take a low dose antibiotic daily in order to keep my lungs clear of fluid,  it also helps to replace large doses of Prednison which of course have made my bones thin. Without the lower doses Prednison and the antibiotic I still take, I find it hard to get comfortable at night, so the wheezing and snoring were always a problem were suddenly back with a vengeance.

I knew my chest felt tight and that I woke over again but didn’t realise how bad things were for Kiwi Daughter, Little Mr and Himself because of it. The next morning I felt decidedly off colour but chalked it up to two bad night’s sleep and a desperate need to get back to the asthma and foot medications we had accidently left back in Hanmer Springs.

Breakfast found us finishing off bits and bobs from what we had bought in recent days.

Little Mr could not finish the rest of the bottle of chocolate milk and not wanting to see it go to waste I poured it onto cornflakes to eat and use it up.

Breakfast is not usually something I eat until I have been up for quite some hours and definitely not when I’m due a long road trip or boat trip. On this occasion though I was tired, out of sorts and just wanted to get back to Hanmer.

Even though it was early morning the temperature was already rising steadily and it was promising to nudge thirty degrees again. We hit the road directly after breakfast and we were not many kilometres into the journey when I found myself feeling as green as grass.

Again, we chalked it up to a bad night, but we were not too far out of Greymouth when a layby with a historic monument came into view and I got Himself to pull over, telling him I REALLY needed some fresh air. The historic place is the Brunner mine and I stagger out with the camera hoping for some distraction from the horrible feeling in my stomach. Photographs taken, I go to go back to the car but suddenly green becomes even greener and  I had just enough time to duck behind the little memorial building where I promptly lost breakfast in unceremonious fashion. Luckily I’d taken my water bottle with me and could clean up before heading back to the car.

I should have trusted instinct and a lifetime of travels with motion sickness but it seem that in the absence of sleep, common sense  and trusting your instincts goes out of the window. Even back in the car, although I felt better, the green nagging feeling persisted so the kilometres rolled by in less than enjoyable fashion and it seemed that I needed one rest stop after another with ever increasing regularity. It might “only” have been 213 km’s but it’s a three hour journey that started to feel like it was going to become a ten hour one. It’s by far the worst car journey I’ve had since I was a kid. (Ok, there was one Portugal trip where Kiwi Daughter and I threw up in ditches on opposite sides of the road but that was more than ten years back).  One thing is sure about learning lessons from the past, I should never let those lessons get crowded out by something as stupid as not wanting to waste two cups of chocolate milk. Sometimes you are better to trust your gut.

(Grrr i’m having troubles with my photos *again*  they repeatedly refuse to load) I will keep trying, as I have been for the past week. Apologies again. – kiwi.

September 4, 2018

Is This The Midnight Train To….?

Checking out the current state of Christchurch’s central city, I find yet another grand piece of artwork to document. There is a blue mural on the side of a parking building, close to the building that I would call “Noah’s hotel’. It’s changed its name long since to Rydges, but since I no longer live in Christchurch, or even New Zealand, I’ve never gotten used to using the new name and my brain still registers the name as Noah’s as the default setting. Apologies to Rydges.  The blue colour of not just this wall but also the car park is vibrant and immediately catches your eye, my only beef being that I can’t get close enough to zoom in and get some proper detail. Making do with what I can get, will have to do. It’s a stunning mural and credit to yet another artist who is helping make the city as beautiful as possible even as buildings have been being demolished, repaired and rebuilt all around it.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

July 7, 2016

Going Up Rather Further Than We First Imagined…

Filed under: LUXEMBOURG,PHOTOGRAPHY,VIANDEN — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Last summer Family Kiwidutch and a neighbour guest of Little Mr went on holiday to Germany.

The wet weather was driving everyone to distraction so we went for a car journey a little way south, crossing the border in the Luxemburg where the reported weather report had been predicted to be better, and was.

Our next move after having lunch in Vianden, is move literally next door to take the cable car from our location near the centre of town, up the hill.

Sitting in one of the chairs, you don’t have any clue just how high you will be going as you are swung out over a local garden, through a gap in the trees, over the river, past an empty section and then over one of the main roads out of town, which is as close as we managed to get to the chair lift on our last trip here.

All of a sudden you are softly jolted upwards as you find that the gradient has changed with a vengeance, and dangling from the thick cable above us, winched higher and higher until we are a dizzying height above the valley floor.

The buildings of Vianden get ever smaller and smaller and it is a stunning sight to see the surrounding countryside expand in an ever widening arc around us, revealing row after row of hills and fields as far into the distance as the eye can see (and the weather will allow). I’m sure that on a fine day you must be able to see further and in more detail. Everyone is quick to comment about the ride up as soon as we reassemble at the top…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

October 12, 2015

A Stunningly Classic Car Convoy…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It’s usual for me to have my camera in my lap as I sit in the passenger seat of our car.

I usually have subject matter galore but sometimes it’s Himself or the kids who start shouting requests when something unusual comes into view.

Such was the case when we were in the Dutch province of Limburg three years ago.

It was Himself who first pointed out a classic car coming towards us, and then Little Mr who started screaming excitedly in my ear that there were more following it, so please make sure to photograph them all.

We notice that there are a sort of semi-circular disks on the front of each of the cars which contains various words and numbers, the only part of which we can read being: “Sittard Klassiek”.

I look up Sittard Klassiek on the web and find their (Dutch language only) website which shows that they are a classic car club that make regular displays and tours where apparently all of the car are pre-1970. We seem to have come across one of these tours and we all agree, what an impressive group they make! Apart from the Volkswagen Beetles, I don’t really know what the other makes of the cars are, but they are beautiful and clearly looked after with a ton of love and care.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Sittard Klassiek

January 5, 2014

Heading North In North-East Belgium…

Filed under: BELGIUM,North East Belgium,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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We have a long day driving in this diary entry about our travels and are busy criss-crossing the border between Belgium and Germany. Since pictures are more than a thousand words, I decided that  photographic post would be best…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(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)

January 2, 2014

Decorations In Wood, Turrets, Towers, … And A Cable Car!

We are about to leave the town of Vianden in Luxembourg and continue our journey northwards. I find the town fascinating because there is a delightful mix of architecture and lots of  beautiful decorative features to photograph. I particularly like the decorative woodwork on the roof edges of a few of the houses we see, and the proliferation of little towers and turrets on houses, churches and towers in the town.  There is even a cable car running up the hill! Once more I can’t resist and my camera is busy…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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Spot the Cable Car!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph ©Velvetine) used with permission

(photograph ©Velvetine) used with permission

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

November 8, 2013

Apparently It’s A Sad Day When You Realise That You Weren’t Born A Ferrari…

Filed under: BELGIUM,Bruges,Funny,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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Another post from my last summer’s diary  about our European travels… During our wanderings around Bruges we see some funny things…  Two cars catch our attention (well one catches mine and the other one was Himself’s distraction). Actually whilst I was taking photographs of the  Ferrari, much to my amusement I noticed that it turned the head of every male who passed by…   Velveteen and I on the other hand noticed the number plate of another car… maybe it was sad that it wasn’t a Ferrari?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Velveteen) used with permission

(photograph © Velveteen) used with permission

November 28, 2012

Fluttering These Eyelashes Gets LOTS of Attention…

Sometimes you really wonder what goes through the brains of some human beings. Somewhere, someone had an idea that putting eyelashes on car headlights was a brilliant idea… and somewhere, someone else actually made some! How brilliantly bizarre is that ?!

Surely no-one can help but smile when they see this car… it’s a totally charmer! … Now don’t you go fluttering your eyelashes at me, you little rascal of a motor!!!… I’m already smitten with you!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 15, 2012

When a Piece of Plastic Stopping You From Going Green… Is a GOOD Thing!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Since this a car journey that features mostly winding roads, hills, trees and both inland and coastal views, landmarks that are a bit different are welcomed by kids looking out the windows.

But one of the most noticable differences between the generations sitting in our vehicle is that our kids have Nintendo games to play on long car journeys and prefer this to looking out of the window.

(the fact that our Nintendo’s are exclusively reserved for long car and plane journeys and are not out at other times is definitely part of the attraction)

As kids, Himself and I had no choice but to look out of windows : that and the “I Spy” game were our only entertainment.

Since I have always turned green in cars, I regularly offered my parents the alternative entertainment game of “get the car stopped quick enough to get kid about to throw up out of the back seat and onto the grass to get the inevidable over with” with extra challenges of steep gradients, narrow roads, lack of grass verges, passing traffic and possibly bad weather thrown in.

Ah, “anti-car-sickness pills” I hear you say…

…hmmm that was the other game of “how far can you spit the pill?” since I wasn’t great with pills either.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Nature posted revenge by giving Kiwi Daughter the “motion sickness gene” so I’ve “been there, done that” with the pill swallowing drama and tears from the parental side too and from whoever’s side you look at it, it wasn’t fun.

Fortunately help is at hand from a very unlikely source.

I was allerted to a gadget by a French friend who has the same problem with two of her four children but a more difficult situation because pulling over suddenly in French motorway traffic really is taking your life in your hands.

Not surprisingly also she tried everything and had already been down the unsuccessful pill-with-tears route too, then she found it…

…a piece of plastic that changed their travelling lives.
Like her, I was totally sceptical… come on, a tiny bobble of plastic stuck to a wrist strap…    …that’s IT ???

I stopped laughing when she told me that her boys now had hassle-free car journeys all the way from the Netherlands to the South of France.

Let’s take a closer look at this seemingly silly piece of plastic. It’s a little bobble of plastic, solid, smooth and attached to a one-size-fits-all wrist strap that does up with valcro.

To wear it you place the plastic bobble on the the centre of the inside of your wrist and do it up as tight as is comfortable. This forces the plastic bobble down to press on the pressure point in your wrist and takes care of your motion sickness.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Easy as that, there’s one for each wrist and if for example you are bobbing up and down in a boat feeling bad, then an additional press on the plastic bobble is also said to increase the fight against nausea.

Before we left for New Zealand I dispatched Himself to the ANWB (Algemene Nederlandse Wielrijders Bond = Dutch Automobile Association) to procure us a few pairs. If any piece of plastic against car-sickness needed to be put through it’s paces, then the winding roads and hills of New Zealand would be the perfect place to do it.

In addition to the car journeys there was the added bonus of the Cook Straight ferry crossing since Cook Straight has been deemed one of the roughest pieces of water in the world (after Fouvoux Straight further south and the Drake Passage off South America).

These places can all be found within the infamous “rouring forties” and are the product of routine high winds that circle the globle at this latitude and either a meeting of two vast oceans (Drake Passage) or in New Zealand’s case, the funneling of big winds and vast seas through narrow landmass gaps.

I’ve had experience of Cook Straight in both it’s extremes: from as calm as a millpond and in the most awful storm in the 1980’s (awful as in: I was clinging to a table that was bolted to the floor but the chairs were sliding past back and forth in alternate directions as the boat rolled from one side to the other… needless to say the rest of the ferry crossings that day were cancelled and the ships stock of “amenity bags for the stomachily unsteady” started to run in short supply.)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

If any stout test is needed to see if these wrist-bands are up to the task, then the comination of road and sea routes that New Zealand has to offer will be sure to show up any strengths and weaknesses.

I’m delighted to report that much to my amazment, these bands really do work!

Ok, we did take rest stops to get some fresh air but we managed shorter and fewer stops than previous trips doing the same route, so much so that we arrived in Picton with just over an hour ahead of our estimated arrival time…

….and  there were no “Mama, I don’t feel good, I think I’m going to be sick” pleas constantly from the back seat, and I personally have never had a less green road journey as this one.

Granted it didn’t cure our motion-sickness 100% but it did help take away maybe 80-90% of the misery and that  for both Kiwi Daughter and I, means that these wrist bands are nothing short of miraculous and we will be packing them on every long car journey from now on.

There is no gurantee that these will work… apparently they help roughly 80% of motion sickness sufferers, to a greater or lesser degree: but if you have suffered car-sickness or sea-sickness, or have kids that do, you will know that a “no-pill” solution that offers any improvement at all is only a win, win, win, win, win solution.

I’m so delighted with these that I want to share my exciting discovery: If you suffer from car-sickness or sea-sickness or know someone who does, then comment on this post before midnight on March 22nd,  2012 and be in to win one of these for yourself!

I have two to give away, so you have two possibilities to win… so drop me a line and be in to win!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

February 27, 2012

The Day a Police Car, a Random Act of Kindness and some Wise Words Changed my Life…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I was going to post something different today but something happened this weekend that reminded me that one person’s actions can influence the path of someones else’s life forever.

Me?  I’m the person who was influenced.
I was given a gift, a very special gift.

Remember a few days ago I wrote about the Rugby Street Church in Christchurch New Zealand and the church hall behind it that has now been completely demolished due to earthquake damage?

Well this place holds a special place in my heart for more reasons than just the dances and fun times I  had there.

I went to this youth group because I was friends with a brother and sister who parents had a holiday house in the same place as my family did.

These two people came into my life during some turbulent years and I valued the fact that they accepted me for who I was and we got on well, so when they invited me to come along to their youth group I said yes.

My parents were semi-neutral about my joining this group and although I had a sister who rarely went out and for whom they were a ready and willing taxi service, when I expressed hope of the same it was made clear that my bike was in the bike-shed and if I wanted to get there, I could do so under my own steam.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Since I lived in the shadow of the Port Hills on the other side of town I therefore commuted to and from the friday night youth group by ten-speed bicycle.

One day when I was locking up my bike outside Rugby Street hall another member of the group, (“M”) came over and wondered why I hadn’t walked to the meeting. (It appeared that he assumed I lived close to the brother and sister friends who lived a short walk away.)

I laughed, told him where I lived and thought nothing more about it.
A few weeks later “M” came  and told me that he was really worried about the idea of me cycling home in the dark alone, especially through the often deserted one -way system that I used to get home.

I’ll explain why he said that.

In the “wisdom”and thinking of the day,  Christchurch’s City fathers planned the layout of their new city in a concise looking grid pattern before even leaving England, which got somewhat complicated when they imposed it on a landscape on the other side of the world that surprised them with added features like  meandering rivers.

The grid pattern road system worked well on paper, but when motor vehicles were added to the equation, reality was that the sheer number of intersections meant more traffic lights than city inhabitants and crossing the city became a nightmare.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

One day someone had a bright idea and turned designated streets into one-way systems with synchronised traffic lights for speedy travel north/south and east/west on each of the four sides of the city centre.

Good, the system worked well enough, but it was synchronised for car speed and not bicycle speed so for cyclists there were many stops along it anyway.

I still considered the one-way streets safer than the very busy Columbo Street because there wasn’t much space on Colombo for bikes and I wanted to avoid the weekend inebriated who hung out around Catherdral Square.

The one-way systems were by far the quickest routes, but often the most lonely too, light industrial businesses had strung up along many of them, the inner city residences that there were, were few and far between and because this was an area of the city that  might be termed as “an old-established,  pre-regeneration area”  the houses tended to be more run-down needing some obvious TLC,  than inner city chic.

“M’  was worried about my safely cycling alone here at night and said he wanted to borrow his father’s car and drive me home. My problem with this idea was that “M” lived very close to the Rugby Street church and my house was a long long way out of his way… not only that, but it rankled with me that  I couldn’t afford to give him petrol money, so in my pride and stubbornness I politely refused his offer.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Several  offers of a lift later, also politely refused, and despite assurances that no petrol money was needed (after finding out that it was one of my reasons for declining)  “M” took matters into his own hands.

When I got on my bike and cycled home in the dark, he would follow a safe distance behind me in his father’s car, made sure that I got up my driveway ok, and then wave and drive home again.

Since I was resolute in my opinion that his actions weren’t necessary and hope he would grow tired of it,  I continued to cycle as usual and he continued this process until one summer night when our youth meeting had gone on far longer than usual.

It was well past midnight, but the weather was still balmy, it had been tropical all day so I was wearing a tee-shirt and skirt as I cycled  home as usual.
The one-way street that would take me south was Barbadous Street and it was really quiet… the odd car passed but other than “M”  following slowly behind the streets were deserted.

I’d been waiting at the traffic lights because of course they were phased for car speed and not cycle speed, and when they turned green off I went. All of a sudden I heard a strange noise… a sort of “whop whop, then a pause and again “whop whop”.

More than the noise I now noticed a strange light in the darkness and still cycling, turned my head to see what it was.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Imagine my shock to see “M’s”car pulled over to the side of the road with a police car next to it… there was no siren on but police car’s light’s were flashing and this was the strange light that I had noticed.

I turned around on my bike and cycled back to find poor “M” tying to explain to the police that he was on a mission to assure my safety and that he wasn’t actually stalking the female cyclist as it certainly looked to them.

The look of relief on his face when I arrived back to confirm his story will stay with me for the rest of my days, so will the incredulous looks on the faces of the police officers at the whole situation before them.

My pride and stubborness were knocked down quite a bit that night and not wanting to embarrass “M’  further we quickly thanked the police for their concern and intervention,  put the bike in the back of the station-wagon and drove  the rest of the way home.

Outside my door we sat in the car and had a long talk. It wasn’t about the petrol money “M” said, or the time,  effort or distance, it was because he really worried that something might have happened to me on one of these nightime journeys and he had the means to make sure nothing did.

He wanted to help, not only for me but for his own peace of mind… this had really been worrying him  and he wanted to help.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Then he said words to this effect: “Sometimes someone just wants to give, they know you can’t pay them back, but that’s not the point… payback to me isn’t needed.

Maybe instead, one day, some time , somewhere in life you will find someone who has a need that you can meet.

It might have nothing to do with cash, it could be your time, your talent, a skill, a listening ear, it may indeed be financial … but most often you will find that your time and efforts are needed far far more than money.

When you see this situation and can meet the need, just do what you can and in doing so you will have paid me back in full.”

His words that night changed a lot of things in my life, not least  my attitude because it made a good dent in my stubborn streak.

The biggest lessons I have learned from this … is that help often comes to you when you least expect it and in guises you never dreamed of …. that giving back brings a satisfaction that you never imagined possible…. and that if you have your eyes open you will always find someone who could use a helping hand and that both parties can be richer for having given and received.

Whilst I have never “given”with the expectaion of anything in return, I can tell you that I have often experienced some very strange situations in my life in which seemingly unrelated chains of events have slotted together prefectly to ease a complication in my life.

Is this “karma”or a case of “what goes around comes around”? Who knows…

I am richer as  a person because  I have learned that when I give, I grow.

For various reasons I now longer attend church but I don’t think that having faith is necessarily defined by church attendance, for me it’s all about the maxim “to whom much is given, much is required“.

Sadly I  lost touch with “M” long ago, but I will continue to be influenced by him because his kindness and his words changed me and widened my horizons. I can only hope that every now and again he is blessed in receiving a random act of kindness from a complete stranger whenever he needs it too.

The best thing about a random act of kindness? …. Passing it on.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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