Local Heart, Global Soul

October 27, 2014

Not Raining In The Rainforest, But Very Steamy…

Filed under: Cornwall,ENGLAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,South Coast,The Eden Project — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

One of the biggest biomes at the Eden Project in Cornwell, England,  is the Rainforest Biome.

Containing many tropical rainforest plants from around the world, the biome uses the topography of the old china clay quarry it stands in to best effect because from the outside it looks quite small but once inside it stretches up and up.

At every turn there are surprises: waterfalls and streams, a huge hot air balloon stands inside,there is densely forested  rainforest vegetation, we round one corner to discover an aerial walkway (beyond my capabilities on crutches and the kids and Himself chickened out because of the height).

The temperature inside is sweltering, we are quickly peeling off layers as we go, but luckily later on. just when the humidity is really kicking in and tiring us out, we discover a little  temperature relief  “hut” that is a cool room where visitors can take a break from the heat and humidity in a room that’s considerably cooler.All around the paths are information boards that give information about the plants, here we can see how coffee is grown, and cocoa, bananas, cassava, peanuts, cashews, rubber trees and palms for palm oil. There are plant selections representing the Malaysian rainforest, complete with buildings, and different plants that are found in the African rainforest, and the South American ones. There are typical local houses made from bamboo or wood, all designed to give an idea of how people in these areas of the world live and work. We learn about  Colombia’s secret energy bar: Panela and we see more colourful flowers than we knew existed…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

 

June 28, 2012

Leaner and Greener …In Another 2000 Years?…

Filed under: HISTORY,NEW ZEALAND,PHOTOGRAPHY,Places and Sights,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We are about to leave the Waipoua Forest in New Zealand’s Northland, but first I wanted to mention that there is more than one giant Kauri to see here if you want.

Most are hidden away,  protected and left in peace (as they should be) slowly growing to their giant size somewhere within the canopy of the Waipoua.

Several of the biggest though serve as both tourist attractions and educational sites so that people can see the trees for themselves and become aware that keeping them safe and healthy is a concerted work in progress rather than just a matter of  slapping a protection order on them and hoping for the best.

I do spot that on some information boards Tane Mahuta is listed as “God of the Forest” and on others it’s translated as “Lord of the Forest” so I’m not quite sure now which one is correct. Maybe it’s one of those words in Maori that has several interpretations?

The Department of Conservation has erected numerous information boards so the visitor from near and far can learn as much about Kauri as possible when they stop off to see them.  The conservation message is a strong one… and I’m glad to see that even in the walkway, trees of all varieties have been accommodated as much as possible rather then just torn down.  One stump is a New Zealand punga, and tiny budding tree ferns are emerging from it just centimetres from the public’s feet.

It’s a nice sign that with care and careful management co-existence is very possible between mankind and nature.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We did pull in at Te Matua Ngahere (Father of the Forest) but found out at the car park that the walk to New Zealand’s second biggest Kauri Tree takes 20 minutes each way.  Definitely out of reach for me on crutches and the two littlest kids were not enthusiastic so we ended up skipping this one, for this trip at least. I’ve seen Te Matua Nghere before too, as a teenager, it’s a shorter tree but fatter than Tane Mahuta… and it feels gigantic when you are close.

Back in the days when I first saw it school children used to link hands and try and surround it… I forget exactly how many kids it would take to make a circle around it but it was a lot… 15 or 20 or more from very vague memory. (depends entirely on the size of the kids naturally!)  Of couse from what we know now about the fragility of the Kauri root system, this practice would have long since been stopped.

Learning to live in balance with nature is something I’m interested in… of course we all want our creature comforts and modern technologies and in cities there obvious restrictions and limits but if there is a sustainable way to find the maximum balance possible then I’m willing to make  sacrifices to achieve it. Imagine if every spare green space in cities were used to grow veggies, trees or wildflowers, every new building and every building renovated were required to incorporate solar energy, rainwater catchment and brown water recycling.

I heard this week that Germany has now so far installed as many solar panels on homes and businesses nationwide that it’s the equivalent of the output of twenty nuclear power stations. It’s just the start, and Bravo Germany for taking such steps.

I hope we can become leaner and greener and can use human technology as wisely as possible so that both we and Kauri can both still be around happily co-existing in another 2000 years time.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

June 27, 2012

The REAL Lord of the Rings: Tane Mahuta, …Lord of the Forest.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Here is what we have come into the Waipoua Forest for… We come to see the giant of all Kauri:  Tane Matuta, One of New Zealand’s most famous trees.

Of course I’ve learned a lot about Kauri from the Kauri Museum, but here we have some to see the actual living specimens. An information board tells me:

Tane Mahuta,  Lord of the Forest.

You are in the presence of one of the most ancient of trees.

In Maori Cosmology, Tane is the son of Ranginui the sky father and Papatuanuku the earth mother.

Tane tore his parents apart, breaking their primal embrace, to bring light, space and air and allowing life to flourish.

Tane is the life giver. All living creatures are his children. This is the largest living Kauri tree in New Zealand. It is difficult to accurately estimate the age of Tane Mahuta, but it may be that Tane Mahuta sprang from a seed around 2000 years ago during the lifetime of  Christ.

The dimensions of Tane Mahuta are: Trunk height: 17.7 metres (58 feet). Total height: 51.5 metres (168.96 feet).  Trunk girth: 13.8 metres (45.2 feet) , Trunk volume: 244.5  cubic metres . (802.16 cubic feet).

Note: the feeding roots of Kauri are shallow and delicate. Walking off the formed protective paths and platforms can kill these giant trees.

There are many foreign tourists here of course, and one man  (white tee-shirt and grey shorts) asks if he should try and move out of the way for my photos, I tell him that he’s most welcome to be in the photo if he likes but he might therefore be on my blog on the internet. He laughs and tells me that’s not a problem and that if I want to put his name in too, then his name is Brandon Johnson (or Jackson) and that he’s from the USA.

Mea Culpa, he did tell me his surname but by the time I made my journal notes in the evening I’d forgotten if he’d said “Jackson” or “Johnson”. Brandon, if  by some chance ever you get to read this post, I’d be totally happy if you could contact me so I could put your name in here correctly.

I try and get good photos of the tree but it’s harder than it looks because fitting everything in, in the available positions on the walkway is a tall order. Not surprising of course for such a tall tree.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Looking at photographs of a 2000 year old living tree can not in any way convey the feelings you have when you are close to it in person.

Yes, people are taking photos, but many are also quiet, staring in awe and respect at the giant of nature before them. It has that effect on me too, this is the one time in my life when hugging a tree would make sense to me.

I would have given it a hug to say sorry that my human predecessors cut down so many of it’s fellow Kauri, for the way it must stand silently by as mankind depletes the resources of the planet and how we are upsetting the balance of nature round the world.  I would have hugged it to try and tell it that we are trying hard to mend our ways when it comes to protecting Kauri and show some respect now that we have learnt lessons from the past.

Of course I didn’t  hug Tane Mahuta, even notwithstanding the crutches predicament, I respect these trees enough to heed the warnings about leaving the path as not to damage their fragile root systems.

Isn’t it amazing that such a massive tree has such a fragile root system? It seems that all living things are built with a weak link somewhere in their DNA, not even the giant is invincible or immune to all around it, and that something small could have easy access to it’s most vulnerable point shows me that no living thing is ever destined for total dominance, there should always be a point of natural balance.

I know from our Kauri Museum visit that Tane Mahuta is hollow… but to what extent this is, and for how long this amazing tree will be able to support it’s upper weight appears to be for now  unknown…  a few years or a few centuries? Just like each human life,  Tane Mahuta  too has an allotted time.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

June 26, 2012

Coming to Waipoua to See the Young ‘Uns…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In this section of my New Zealand travel diary we are entering  the Waipoua Forest, located on the west coast of the upper peninsula that makes up Northland, New Zealand.

The open, cleared landscape that was once bush, burned off long ago to make room for both Maori and Pakeha  (white settler) agricultural efforts,  gives way to New Zealand native bush still in it’s former glory… it’s subtropical in this region, so with some very different species of vegetation to bush in the South Island but similar in that it consists of tightly packed trees and shrubs that form dense layers between the ground cover and the canopy.

Subtropical often means rain… and yes it’s raining buckets again as we enter this protected area which is also a National Forest.

This place is extra special because it’s the home of the Kauri tree… and even through the rain streaked windows of the van it’s easy to spot them, distinctive for their lack of branches on the lower section of the trunk, and for their therefore chunky rather top-heavy looking tops. And of course distinctive for their size.

All the Kauri’s I can see so far look like young ‘un’s … up to several hundred years old… we drive deeper into the Waipoua…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

One of the postcards I bought to send to family and friends also featured Kauri…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

December 14, 2011

An Unexpected Wilderness…

Filed under: GERMANY,Places and Sights,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Just a simple photographic post today…

Himself and I managed a weekend in the German town of Kleve a few years ago and when we went for a late afternoon walk around the central part of town which also included the large hill there the castle stands.

We were pleasantly surprised to find that on the back side of the hill, there was a large forest like area with a river running though it.

I love it when I go somewhere and discover some unexpected wilderness where I expected to have only found suburbs.

This place is surely a wonderful asset, and even though it’s March,  the days are short and cold, we still saw people jogging and walking here.

I can imagine it would be a great place for a picnic and forest walks  in summer and best of all…

…it’s just  literally minutes from the town centre.

November 7, 2009

Heading Northwards… Towards the border with Canada.

(photo © kiwidutch)We are in central Maine, we look at our location on the map and look wistfully at our proximity to Canada. My American friend has visited some of the major Canadian cities further west but amazingly, never been directly north to the intersection of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

We decide together we would like to put that right. What looks like a short hop to the border on the map is actually a car ride of close to four hours, so we load up the van with bags and kids and leave Camp relatively early in the morning.

The Kiwidutch family set out with my friend and her two daughters, northwards though the seemingly never-ending massive forests of northern Maine. It’s a wilderness on a scale that I am only beginning to comprehend…

We pass signs with strange number letter combinations on them,  apparently these denote gigantic tracts of land that don’t even earn themselves a town  name since they are  populated with so few people.

canada travels1 (Small)

(photo © kiwidutch)

At first we take small roads and in one case a dirt road though kilometers upon kilometers of forest, eventually linking up to bigger “B” roads as we get closer to the border… Come on,  come take a virtual trip with us…

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(photo © Kiwidutch)

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A  delightful house… ( ooooh I want a turret like that!!!)

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… a whimsical garden feature… (our friend wants one just like this!)

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… amazing views of trees…

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The occasional small town…

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… the name of this town will have  special meaning to a family member of mine…

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Did I mention trees ?…

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(photo © kiwidutch)

…and finally we come to the end of American Route 6. It finishes in a small town called Vanceboro, on the banks of the St.Croix River. This is a 24 hour border crossing into Canada. We approach the end of American territory.

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(photo © kiwidutch)

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.. cross over the Saint Croix-Vanceboro Bridge…

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(photo © kiwidutch)

…and look back at America.

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..and look forwards to Canada.

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..and so our Canadian Adventure begins.

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