Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Hanging out with the regulars

I wanted to go for a walk along a beach this morning but the beach I went to was fully occupied and I didn't feel inclined to disturb the regulars.  As I sat and looked and just breathed in the serenity, it started to rain. Decision made, no walk.  Aucklanders are lucky to have places such as this where one can re-charge the batteries.  It was nearly 10 am, school holidays, and not a soul in sight.  The weather probably had something to do with that.  The photo is crap, shot through the windscreen.  

My daughter is back in hospital, just a minor set back I think.  She was recovering so well from the surgery, it is just wonderful to see her with no pain in her back.  I'm sure she will continue to make good progress once they sort out the leg pain and her innards.  I don't want to broadcast to the world about the state of her innards, I'll just leave that to your imagination.

Happy days!

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Too, too

I'm just not a city person, I look and look but rarely see anything that captivates me in the big smoke.  Today was the exception.  I met this little bundle of cuteness ...

Friday, 25 April 2014

FSO - Let the bells ring

John Donne
1624 Meditation 17
Devotions upon Emergent Occasions
"No man is an iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee...." 

Our Friday Shoot Out coincides with Anzac Day and that is a big deal for Aussies and Kiwis. On Anzac Day bells don't ring in celebration;  if they ring at all it is to call people to commerate all Australians and New Zealanders who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations, their sacrifice so we can enjoy the freedom we do in this country.  

The first time I visited the carillon in New Plymouth I was standing directly underneath it when it tolled the hour at mid-day.  It's a wonder I'm still here to tell the tale, I got such a fright.  I wonder if the New Plymouth Returned Services' Association use the bells as part of their Anzac Day services?  

There are 37 bells ranging from 900 cm (3 ft) in diameter and weighing more than 362 kg (800 lbs) down to a nine inch bell weighing only 1.4 kg (3 lbs).  The total weight is 2,500 kg (5,587 lbs).  These are the most impressive bells I have ever seen (or heard). I would love to hear them tolling slowly.

As part of my fascination with the little old churches of the north I have quite a few bell shots but just one favourite to share with you.  This is a close up of the bell in its own little building in front of the catholic church in Rawene.

I don't have another bell photo for Anzac Day.  The Last Post bugle call is the sound of this day.  It signalled to those who were still out in the fields of war and wounded or separated from their units that the fighting was done, and to follow the sound of the call to find safety and rest. Its use in Remembrance Day ceremonies in Commonwealth nations has two generally unexpressed purposes: The first is an implied summoning of the spirits of the Fallen to the cenotaph, the second is to symbolically end the day.

Thanks to Vintage Queensland for the image

To those I didn't get to visit last week, I will see both weeks entries this time round at the FSO blog.

Friday, 18 April 2014

FSO - Museums

I asked the Collins if a train could qualify as a museum as I thought this particular train is "A place or building where objects of historical, artistic or scientific interest are exhibited, preserved or studied."  Close enough I think.

Kawakawa is known for its Hundertwasser toilets and Gabriel, the steam train. I've posted plenty of photos of the toilets over the years (yes, really!) so it's the train I'm focusing on today.

I've had a growing fascination with the Kawakawa steam train, the railway station and restoration workshops for a few years now.  I admire how the dedicated volunteers give hours and hours of their time and expertise to bring back to life the steam trains of old and the line on which they can operate. 

They take what has been discarded by others:

and return them to their former glory:

When GB and I went for a train ride recently we travelled in the carriage at the front of the above photo.

Gabriel, the star attraction, built in 1927, is a fine example of a working steam engine and is the only one in her class left in the world.  She sure knows how to attract attention.

The railway at Kawakawa was the North Island’s first railway to be opened and the first to run a rail passenger service in the North Island.  It is also unique in the world as it is the only working railway in the world where the trains travel down the middle of a State Highway and right through the middle of the town.

Today the train runs as far as Taumarere Station where the original waiting room holds historical information.  

Passengers can walk out on to the longest wooden curved bridge in the southern hemisphere to where restoration work is currently being undertaken.  I think this is the last bridge to be restored and when it's complete, the train will be able to go to the original destination of the line - the port at Opua. 

I'll have to pop back later to link to FSO where the rest of the Friday Shoot Out contributors will be posting about museums in their towns.

I hope you have a Happy Easter. Safe travels if you are travelling.

Friday, 11 April 2014

FSO - Weather

My grandfather used to quote something like this:

Whether the weather be fine 
Or whether the weather be not
 Whether the weather be cold
 Or whether the weather be hot
 We'll weather the weather 
Whatever the weather,
Whether we like it or not!  

It's true.   Farming folk rely on the weather, it's a sure fire topic of conversation wherever farmers  meet.  I can remember my grandfather having chats with neighbours just like those my son has with his.  

We've been looking to the skies a fair bit lately, hoping, hoping it will rain soon.  

Last Friday evening there was no sign of rain.
Saturday evening there was a darkish cloud over the mountain:

 But by Sunday morning it was gone, just a wisp of late cloud lifting:

Mid week, the usual clouds of dust were to be seen along the road every time a vehicle went past.

Then ... yesterday afternoon, coming home from town, I noticed the dark clouds ahead of me as I turned into our road.  I wanted a photo of one the new signs that have appeared along the road as I spotted a logging truck during the week and wondered where it had come from.  (I'll post about that next week.)

I had to stop a number of times, to try to capture the moodiness of the sky.

I got home just as huge raindrops fell.  There were about 20 of them!  The dark cloud was still sitting there off to the north west but it was moving away.

The rain came after dark.   I sat out on the deck and listened to the gentle pit pat of rain on the roof and smelt that lovely aroma of rain on dry earth.  It wasn't heavy, just soft gentle rain.  Those dark, heavy clouds had dropped their load somewhere else.

This morning, the sky is blue again but the soil in the paddock opposite my house is still damp and you can just see the first pale green shoots of new growth.  They really needed that rain.   Oh, and yes, that power pole in the middle of the paddock really is on a bit of a lean.

 That was the weather around here this week.  I'll be visiting the rest of the FSO contributors to see what weather images they have to show.  They will be here.

I'll be in Auckland for the next few weeks (as from Tuesday, plenty of time to do the Spotlights first).  Exactly how many weeks I'm not sure, it will depend on how long my daughter takes to recover from major back surgery.   Hopefully I'll be able to join in FSO, I've been taking photos with the upcoming topics in mind.  

Good luck to North Queenslanders with some horrific weather headed their way in the form of Cyclone Ita. 


Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Boat bottoms

New Zealand has a rich sailing heritage and one of the highest ownership of boats per capita in the world (estimated at 1 in 3).  No wonder you see boats of all sizes in every sheltered bay along the coast. 

It's not the boats at anchor in the bays that draw my attention, it's the tinnies resting on the beaches. 

 If there's no beach, they will be pulled up on to a bank.

I can't resist a working boat either.

 Opua to Russell car ferry

 Paihia to Russell passenger ferry

Ahh, and one like me - a retired boat.  I'm pleased to say I'm in better shape.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Boats and boaties

I became fascinated with the colourful history of the Whangaroa Harbour during my marriage.  My ex husband grew up in nearby Kaeo and one of my in laws had and still has strong connections with Totara North.

According to Maori traditions, the waka (canoe) Mahuhu-ki-te-rangi explored the Whangaroa harbour during early Maori settlement of New Zealand. The area was settled by descendants of Te Mamaru and Mataatua waka crews (circa 1350 AD).

But the harbour was not discovered by European sailors until relatively late, perhaps because the harbour's narrow entrance is obscured by Mahinepua /Stephenson's Island lying off its coast.  Captain James Cook passed by without detecting it on all 3 of his voyages to New Zealand.

The first European ship to call at Whangaroa harbour was the seal ship The Star in 1807. This visit was followed by an epidemic that resulted in the death of many Maori so they were not so welcoming to the visit visitors.

When the next ship, the Boyd, came along a couple of years later seeking a cargo of kauri spars, the local Maori took the captain and officers up the river for several miles (to show them some timber) to a pa site (fortified village) where they were surrounded, cooked and eaten (the Europeans, that is).

After the feast a warparty returned to the ship to kill the rest of the crew and in the battle a spark flew into a barrel of gunpowder and, with a tremendous explosion, the ship was destroyed.  So all 66 of the crew and passengers, with the exception of a woman and two children, were killed. 

Of course, there were repercussion, more people were killed.  Although European ships weren't keen on putting into the harbour for a while, eventually trade flourished as the Whangaroa harbour was an attractive place for ships to visit. It had bountiful timber supplies, fresh water, and a population capable of growing food for trade. A ship's captain in the early 1820s remarked, it was also "One of the finest harbours in the world, the largest fleet might ride in it, and there is not a wind from which it is not sheltered". Adding to his description of Whangaroa harbour's practical aspects, he went on to call it "a singular and beautifully romantic place". 

That much, at least, is unchanged.  

Totara North is still a place for boats and colourful characters.

They didn't mind at all when I asked to take their photo.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Totara North

I've spent the morning sorting my photos from the past month or so.  There are a lot of them, I've been up north twice and down to Taranaki as well.  I was distracted by the number of photos I have of boats.  Not surprising, New Zealanders have the second highest rate of boat ownership in the world.  When I got to my photos from Totara North, I went off on another tangent.  I liked the photos I took there, so decided I would post a few.

Any time I've been to Totara North, it hasn't been planned.  But it's just a few miles off SH1 and I'd promised myself some time ago I'd stop by again to get photos of what I thought was an old fish factory.  It's not, it's an old timber mill.  You can't miss it!  Looks like someone else couldn't either.

Totara North is a small township on the mid-upper reaches of the Whangaroa Harbour, north of the Bay of Islands.  It is one of the earliest settlements and was originally established as a source of timber, particularly Kauri, which was used for spars for ships, then for building European style houses in the newly settled land.

The steep bush-clad hills of this north side of the harbour tumble almost all the way into the sea and offer little flat land on which a town could grow, but Totara North's proximity to the sea, the kauri trees and kauri gum fields, allowed it to exploit its nearby kauri forests and to become a thriving and prosperous community.

In 1870, two enterprising young men who had just completed their apprenticeships,  Thomas Lane and William Brown,  built themselves a skiff in the Bay of Islands and sailed it north to Whangaroa Harbour where they set up their own boat-building business.

Lane & Brown built ships of up to 350 tons and employed up to 100 men and by 1900 over 70 vessels were built and launched at their yards. At that time, Totara North had over 100 children attending the school (around 40 today), three boarding houses, two stores, a bakery, a rope works, a brickworks and a post-office with telegram service.

With the decline of the wooden ship-building industry at the turn of the century, the firm expanded its timber milling business.  Kauri was sent to San Francisco to be used in the city's reconstruction after the 1906 earthquake.   Who would have thought?
The old mill closed in 2004 and today belongs to Te Runanga o Whaingaroa, a local Maori administrative body.  They don't appear to be using it at all.  Amazing how quickly something can fall into ruin when it is neglected.

Sitting out the front, quite close to the road, was this:

 A clue to the factory's current use, perhaps?  I wonder if it's still there.

I'll get back to the boats tomorrow maybe.

Friday, 4 April 2014

FSO - Out and about

"Take us on a walk through your town. What are the sights you see when you are out doing your daily or weekly chores, or when you are out for some leisure?"

I've been off the farm twice in the past week.  On Wednesday I collected Georgia from hockey practise - and found strolling around the sports fields watching teenage boys do their football training more entertaining than the hockey.  

They all heard the instruction from the coach at the same time, their reaction times are slightly different.

 Isn't there always one going in the wrong direction?

I blogged yesterday about my excursion to the west coast, so all that's left is to show you some shots of my walk around the farm earlier in the week.  I only had to step out on to the front deck to see the clouds of dust rising behind the tractor.

Down by the creek the young poplars are just starting to change colour.

The stubble from the recently harvested maize crop.

The hill next door is not quite as brown and dry as it was a couple of weeks ago, the little rain we have had has helped.

The pampas grass/toetoe looks lovely this time of year.  I should know the difference between them but have to confess that I don't.  Pampas grass, from South America, is a pest.  Toetoe is the native NZ plant.  I think this is toetoe.

I hope all the FSO participants enjoyed their time out and about as much as I did.  Why not pop over here to see what they saw.