Local Heart, Global Soul

October 25, 2018

Wierd Wet Weather, Both Normal And Abnormal Here…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We are heading south for a day trip down the west Coast, with Greymouth as our resting point each way between here and Hanmer Springs.

On it’s own the car trip doesn’t seem particularly long in kilometres, but this is not a European or North American motorway, this is a Sate Highway New Zealand style.

The roads are in good condition but it’s the huge landscape that they go through that defines them, the roads are also a single lane in each direction so you can throw thoughts of European / North American driving times out of the window, these are roads that force slower speeds and attention on the road at all times.

Stock get out on the road occasionally, or if they are being moved from one paddock to another, it’s good to remember that no matter what, they have right of way at all times.

The day is war there is a light breeze, and the skies are brooding and heavy. There is something you need to know about South Island weather: A near constant stream of hot air drives across the Australian continent from west to east. It continues over the Tasman sea and during it’s 3.500 km journey it picks up moisture from the sea below it. Then this belt of warm, heavily laden air hits the South Island of New Zealand.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The high backbone of the Southern Alps that runs the length of the island acts as a sudden barrier in the path of this air, like a hot air balloon running towards a large wall it needs to get rid of some ballast and fast.

The ballast in this case is moisture: the clouds off-loads rain in order to rise above the mountain tops, the Alps are high and there is a lot of rain to get rid of so it is dumped in torrents.

Torrents is no exaggeration either, they don’t measure their rainfall here in inches or centimetres, the measure it in feet and meters.

With an annual rainfall of more than ten metres this narrow coast is one of the wettest places in the world.

After the clouds have dumped their load of rain on the West Coast of the South Island, the airstream is free to rise above the Alps and continue it’s journey (more or less) east.

Due to the angle of the South Island, the actual direction it come across the Canerbuy Plains at is roughly from the North West, thus the term: “Nor ‘Wester” meaning a hot dry wind coming from the North West. The North Island is covered in large rolling hills and four “proper” mountains, all of then volcanoes. The lack of Alps here means that North Island weather is (with of course the exception of the West Coast) far wetter than the South, but since New Zealand stand at an angle to Australia, and the North Island is closer to the equator, they manage a decent drizzles throughout the year rather than pouring bucket loads.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I know someone who lived in Auckland and she told me once: ” It can rain here almost every single day of the year, sometimes only for five minutes, but it rains and the air always feels damp“.

The upside of the Auckland weather is that it’s sub-tropical, one friend just north of Auckland grows bananas in her garden another fractionall south of Aucland grows oranges, grapefruit, kiwifruit and avocados.

Canterbury, Otago and Marlbourgh in the dry, sunny side of the South Island Alps counter with apples, pears, apricots, peaches, cherries and of course grapes for New Zealand’s famous wines.

NIWA (National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research) puts it excellently: “The total amount of water that falls on New Zealand each year is about 560,000 million cubic metres, including rain and snow.

That’s enough to cover the whole country 2.1 metres deep. Fortunately for city dwellers, most of it falls in the mountains. The Cleddau Valley to the west of Milford Sound, with an estimated average annual rainfall of 13.4 metres, is one of the wettest places in the world! Another example of the wet mountains is the Cropp River in the Hokitika River catchment, which in one year got 18.4 metres. By comparison Wellington and Auckland average 1.2 metres; Dunedin averages 0.8 metres and Christchurch averages a mere 0.6 metres.”

The other main weather pattern for the South Island is a “Southerly”, that comes up from Antarctica and makes temperatures dip along the east coast. This is what we are seeing during our journey here, it means it’s dry on the West Coast and the east coast has nasty weather. This accounts for the amazing sunset we saw in Hanmer Springs, and the odd use of the windscreen wipers now as bits of this nasty business stray back over the mountains.  It’s not raining properly though.

We hear on the radio that the weather is so bad on the east coast that the newly opened State Highway One road north around Kaikoura has had to be closed again. We travelled back from Wellington on it just in time. We also hear that despite the “usual” weather patterns for the West Coast, so little rain has fallen that the province is officially in drought! How is that possible in one of the wettest places in the world? Surly global warming deniers should be alarmed by this news?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Christmas time in Hokitika…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It’s more mist than rain…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

NIWA (National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research) /  “New Zealand’s rain falls mainly in the mountains”

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)

 

 

January 16, 2014

Sheltering In Doorways From Cloudbursts And Finding A Rubber Duck…

Filed under: ART,GERMANY,Monschau,PHOTOGRAPHY,Statues / Sculpture — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

As regular readers will know, I’m documenting our 2012 travels through (snippets) of Europe with our visiting friend “Velvetine” from Singapore.

Here, in my last post from the town of Monschau, Germany, we are slowing walking back towards where the car is parked.We are about half way there when suddenly the heavens open and we are deluged with rain.

Tourists and locals scatter alike and we are forced to sprint  up the street and across another large square.

I say “sprint”, but in truth the able-bodied  amongst us fended for themselves and raced ahead, and I got to go as fast as crutches would allow at the rear, arriving in the shop doorway they were sheltering in looking like a drowned rat. The doorway was crowded with other tourists taking shelter, but we all squeezed in until the worst of it passed and soon the squall had gone and the sun shone again.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The forced wait had a silver lining though, just as the sun came out we were treated to the sight of an approaching horse-drawn carriage and a bride on her way to be married.  We waved and watched with many others emerging back onto the street after the cloudburst, and then continued up the streets to a shop that Himself and the kids had spotted earlier and that had “stuff  you just have to come and see!”

The shop in question sold souvineers and knick-knacks, but the all important thing the kids wanted to drag me inside for was the impressive display of toy rubber ducks.

I got a photo of  one I might call the “local heart, global soul” ducky, but after much debate the one we bought in the end was a “bicycle duck” that had cycling goggles and was a gift for the young son of good friend’s “The Travelling Two” of the blog of the same name: http://travellingtwo.com/” . The walk back to the car ended up being a bit further than I anticipated, (up the hill near the back of the castle)  so Himself  sprinted the last bit to the car and brought it  back to where I’d gotten up to. Whilst “Velvetine”and I waited for him to arrive we found one final statue to photograph on the roof of some sort of garage or industrial building. A man plays what might be a cello or a bass whilst a lady dances. Now it’s time to head out of town and find somewhere less insanely touristic to spend the night…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

May 10, 2013

Merging Two Sets of Photos into One Adventure…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

A month ago Himself and I had a few unexpected days out because a friend needed some support and transport to sort some personal events in the Belgium city of Mechelen.

I’d taken some annual leave off work intending study and spring clean my hobby/box room that since last years’s  renovation has become the dumping ground for all manner of  junk we spring cleaned from around the house with the intention of “dealing with it” later.  One year on, not only has “dealing with it” not happened, but a multitude of outgrown toys and general junk has been further added to the pile.

Sadly the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry and this time was no exception because on the first morning of my annual leave I found myself unable to get out of bed because I’d done my back in. One physio appointment, special heat band and a new set of physio exercises later, I was moving slowly but carefully. Spring cleaning was out of the question for which I was in two minds if I should be annoyed or grateful. We got a phone call from a friend in need… did Himself have work in? Could he maybe help run an urgent errand to Belgium? Luckily work had just gone out to a big client and more was expected the day after tomorrow so yes Himself was free.

Did I want to have a little sightseeing trip to Belgium too? Why not… I wasn’t much good for concentrating on anything else. With a pillow in my back and warming heat pad keeping me a bit more comfortable we set out early on Dutch motorways. The weather was cold and rainy so views were limited of the countryside going down.  I took a some photos throughout the day anyway and stashed them in a folder to post here soonest.  I lamented that the weather hadn’t been better.. but some things you can’t change.

Fast forward from last month to last week, when I have also taken a few days off work to cook for a large family party. All was under control in the kitchen when we got another phone call… same friend in distress with more personal developments that necessitated another trip to Mechelen. Himself had a steady stream of work but if he worked late tonight he could still make the trip and stay on schedule. The weather report for the next day was for glorious weather in the south of the Netherlands so I was delighted to go along for the ride again.

This is how I managed to take two sets of photographs of the same city just a few weeks apart and in both fair weather and foul. I’ve combined both sets here to give you a taste of our Mechelen adventures… fasten your seat belts and hop in for the ride… we are heading towards Mechelen.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This is just one of three blades lined up on the side of the road waiting to be installed on a wind turbine…  They are truly massive.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 23, 2012

Louver Windows and the Connection to Ditches…

Filed under: LIFE,MALAYSIA,Travel — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

This is probably another post where you think I’m bonkers. (Actually I’m sometimes surprised you don’t think that of all of my posts LOL).

My parents lived for a while in the Solomon Islands and when I first went to visit them I was surprised to see what appeared to be a dry moat around their house, complete with a small bridge by the front door.

It looked  like a rather lethal affair too,  and uncovered open pit about one meter deep and about half a meter wide and with the addition of a little barbed wire might have been passed off as a miniature  World War One trench.

Then I noticed something funny with their roof… there was a deep overhang on the roof, so the eaves were very pronounced.  My Mother laughed… “You’ll  ‘get it” later” she said, and Yes, as soon as it rained I surely did.

Tropical rain doesn’t rain cats and dogs, it rains swimming pools and this not-so-little moat was their overflow drain for rain water. And over-flow it did… until I saw it fill and over flow within fifteen minutes or so,  I never could have imagined that so much water could pour out of the sky and flood the earth at once.

My parents  had a rainwater tank for their water supply, it was massive: big enough that my Father could climb inside to scrub the inside walls several times a year, and one day just after he’s scrubbed it,  it started to rain very heavily so he put the diversion pipe on, (from the roof to the tank) filled it completely during the downpour, then took the diversion pipe away, totally emptied the tank  and then with the tank now rinsed but the pipe back and filled it completely again from the water coming off the roof… all  in the same downpour.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

He said he got soaked to the skin doing it, but  that wasn’t a bother because it was still roughly 36 C (98.6 F) anyway.

On the long side of the house that usually caught the small breezes they installed a row of floor to ceiling louver windows .

These ran for some meters along the hallway and with insect netting on the outside, gave a good airflow in the house in the typically hot and humid climate.

You could close one or two meters of louver windows at a time by pulling down on long handles at various  points along the hallway and I discovered just how heavy tropical rain can be one day when the skies opened and we were all outside.

I was fastest to sprint inside and try and get all the windows closed… but the driving rain was almost horizontal and so much rain was coming in whilst I was trying to close them that in spite of my haste I was standing in ankle deep puddles of flood water on the floor.

In the kitchen more windows were open and the entire kitchen floor was flooded and the stove top was full of water. There was actually so much water on the stove that the elements were drowning in water and we didn’t dare use them until the electrics dried out for fear of electrocuting ourselves.

It’s therefore with some nostalgia that I spy large rainwater ditches by the side of the road in Malaysia, memories of the Solomons come back in an instant and I’m reminded that whilst we are enjoying a lovely sunny day today, it’s green and lush around here for a very good reason.

I suppose that during a decent cloudburst here or a tropic storm that there must be small rivers of water flowing in these drains.  We didn’t see it today, but in my minds eye I’m transported back to the day when I was standing up to my ankles in water inside my parents hallway in floods caused by a tropical rainstorm.

Yes, I am bonkers.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 20, 2011

Being made of Sterner Stuff, We go and Hide Under Bridges…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

If you cast your eyes back  though the posts of this week you will have seen the tell-tale signs of moisture falling inconveniently from the sky and onto my camera lens, and artfully reproduced within my photographic images.

Diego our Captain, did have doubts about the weather before we set off but the seven of us who turned up for the trip vehemently said that we were happy to take our chances, and guess what?

Now we have been put to the test.

It started out as the odd spot of rain that would teasingly cease and then reappear, until finally the heavens decided they were serious and it started to bucket down.

Luckily, this happened in the same teasing fashion as the spitting drips, and after we reassured Diego that we were indeed serious about carrying on, we  continued our tour in fits and starts, taking refuge under bridges when it decided to rain the hardest.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

You have to remember that even at the height of summer, weather in northern Europe can be fickle.

Rain in a Dutch summer is expected at some time or other, and as my mother always said ” Come on child, you aren’t made of sugar, so you won’t melt!”

The little tuindersvlet boats of the St Nicolaas  Boat Club of Amsterdam. (http://amsterdamboatclub.com/index.html) have no covering, so if you think you might indeed be made of sugar, and rain clouds threaten, then maybe this trip isn’t for you.

However, we are resolved and determined to be Mates of the Club for the day, and are therefore made of sterner  oceangoing canal-going stuff.

This brings out our inner sailor, and the good thing in being in a small, uncovered boat during a downpour,  is that you also fit under the smallest bridges,  and here in Amsterdam there are more than enough little bridges (and big ones) to go around.

So,  in between playing hide and seek with threatening rainclouds, here’s a photo series all about what Amsterdam looks like in the rain…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

And so if you aren’t made of sugar and want to go boating …  be adventurous and like these genuine boaties, come well prepared!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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