Sunday, 25 October 2009

So here is my final apple crop, nine fine apples still unripe. The other three apples from the original twelve I tried at different times. Wait for me to report their final consumption.

I have already reported making my Quince Cheese. I served it with my cheese-board, well a selection of three cheeses, when I had friends to lunch last week. I found it sweet and with little taste. An ornamental flourish to a meal I feel.

Then I decided to make some scones - what people in the South of England pronounce as "Scones" and in the North "Scons". Although brought up in the South regarding anything north of the Thames as nearly arctic I still use the northern pronunciation. My grandmother was Scottish and the pronunciation came to me by way of my mother.

There have been stirring events in Broadmayne. The main road through the village is shut for a week for laying drains giving a welcome respite from the heavy trucks of which more and more pass along Main Street at the expense of those wishing to travel eastwards from the village.

What is more the Black Dog public house has been closed for ten days. The tenant - the pub is owned by a chain who rent it to a tenant on condtition that he buys only their beer - having been there only some six monnths gave up. This was not surprising. He did not have the personality to make people feel welcome and had no wife to provide a joint effort. Catering including running a pub is a branch of entertainment. Food and drink are secondary to the experience. I am not sure though how well MacDonalds fit into this but Starbucks certainly understand it.

The premises are however being refurbished and there is to be a grand re-opening on Friday. The new tenant I am told is a local electrician with a wife, and also four children. Whether he has had experience or the training which is offered to prospective tenants I do not know. Running a pub is hard work with late nights, trouble with staff and in running the restaurant side where I suspect any money is made. The Black Dog is eminentlly respectable with a local clientele. That is its problem. Such people do not spend as much as drunken young people and the customers expect glasses rather than drinking expensive imported beers from the bottle. They do get glasses with Vodka though I believe. My knowledge of such places is based on the reports in the local paper of Court cases.

We shall see what happens to the Black Dog. I hope they put back the hanging sign which has disappeared in recent years. I have made some intersting acquaintances on my occasional visits. There is little or no overlap with the church-going community except in the restaurant which is modestly priced.

Another inititative of mine has been the installation of a water meter. This is optional and I reckon that water at £2 per cubic metre, or 0.2 pence per litre (is that right?) will save me money as a one person household even with all the usual appliances including a power shower.

So there are some of the details of village life. And I cut the grass this afternoon - perhaps the last opportunity of a dry sunny daybefore winter sets in.

Another picture to end. I walked the other afternoon by Hardy's Cottage where Thomas Hardy the novelist was born. The cottage is now preserved by the National Trust. Here is a picture on a fine autumn day:

As the cartoons used to say, "That's all, Folks."

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

The Days are drawing in.

Autumn, a gentler word than Fall, is well-advanced and on this gloomy evening it was dark by seven. At the end of the month when Summer Time goes it will be dark before six. The rate of change of dusk and dawn then slows down to a minimum at the solstice.

It puzzled me why the earliest dusk was before the solstice and the latest dawn after it. One would have expected them to have been virtually the same. The reason is that the Equation of Time, the difference beween actual sun time, that is to say Apparent Solar Time and Mean Time is changing more rapidly han the change in the length of day. There is something to dowith Refraction too but we shall pass over that.

My little apple tree which I rescued from the shrubbery where it had long been struggling to survive has rerwarded me by twelve apples. Here it is in blossom last April:

And here it is with twelve apples - one not visible:

It is said to be a Charles Ross, a variant on Coxes Orange Pippin a popular variet which ripens only after long-keeping. The Charles Ross is supposed toripen ealry but mine are still not ripe, though edible - I have just eaten one. I shall pick the remainder and store them carefully until they appear a little softer. When the Coxes is ripe the seeds rasttle when the fruit is shaken. I had four apples last year, twelve this year - 48 next year?

There is something very satisfying about growing something to eat. It is seldom economic of course. To grind one'sone flour with a quern - look that one up - and make bread hoping thatg wild yeast will make the dough rise must be rewarding if laborious.

I was given a bag of Quinces, not a common fruit. I quote:

"Although grown mainly for their flowers, ornamental quinces can produce attractive, apple-shaped edible fruit that persists throughout autumn.

The fruit of the common quince, Cydonia oblonga, has by far the best flavour. It can be trained as an open-centred bush on a short stem and once the framework is established, needs minimal pruning. It needs regular feeding and mulching with a well-rotted compost or manure every spring.

The fragrant fruits, which resemble hard, lumpy pears, can't be eaten raw but are valued in preserves and for baking. The most common variety is C. oblonga 'Vranja', whose pear-shaped fruits are ready for picking when they turn from green to gold in late autumn."

I have made Quince Cheese a thick jam or jelly recommended to be eaten with cheese. That was tedious but moderately creative.

More of life in Broadmayne and London later.

Monday, 31 August 2009

A trip to France

n August I spent a week in Normandy staying with friends who have a house there. It was many years since I had been to Normandy. France amazed me. There is so much of it with so few people in sharp contrast to even this quiet and rural corner of England. The new fast rail routes in northern France cut through stretches of country with apparently few buildings or roads.

I know that it was the August vacation season but Normandy is the sort of place to which people go rather than leave. However there were quite a few shops shut and labelled ‘fermeture annuelle’ (no accents available I regret) but not of course those catering for tourists. The roads were good and the dual carriageways agreeably empty.

Here is a picture of my friends' house in a little hamlet where some four houses out of ten belonged to English people resident either permanently or occasionally.

Two periods of history dominate Normandy – 1066 when William the Bastard, Duke of Normandy became King of England and 1944 when the Allied D-Day invasion saw battles all over the area. There are many cemeteries and memorials of these battles.

Here is William's castle in Falaise, with gunports added in 1944 to the mediaeval archery slits.

Here are pictures of an isolated memorial north of Falaise where the Canadians took and held the high ground to the north commanding the town and its roads. This carefully tended isolated memorial is very moving.

I saw of course with a slowly moving queue of tourists the Bayeux Tapestry telling the story of the Norman invasion of England in 1066. That impressed me first because there is a lot of it – some 20 metres of individual tableaux on a continuous strip of fine linen about 2 feet or60cm. high. Secondly because it all looked so fresh and new though one suspects the colours were brighter originally.

Not far away from my friends' house was the charming Spa of Bagnoles de l’Orne a charming Edwardian resort where once a direct rain from Paris brought the elegant visitors. Some pretty architecture:

Some frivolity – this vehicle belonged to Brit neighbours and the occasion a party.

So home to very long grass to cut – before I left it had been too wet to cut and after almost too long.

I have been reading other people’s Blogs and note they do not necessarily write at length but offer their ideas often briefly when they are fresh in the writers’ minds. I note also they tend to leave pictures in accessible albums like Picasa or Flickr – must try one. So I hope more later.

J. A. B.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Boadmayne and Portugal

When setting up this Blog I opted for it not to be visible to Google searchers because I felt that only those who knew the Blog address were the people I wanted to see it. However many of my friends appear routinely to access Intenrtet URLs via Google so I altered my options but without any apparent effect. Perhaps with a new posting you may be able to access this Blog via Google. Otherwise it means putting in the Blog address at the top of the screen.

I have not posted since returning from Australia in March, 2009. Life in Dorset and the occasional visit to London seemed hardly to merit it an account, agreeable though it may all have been. Some exciting things have happened. The little apple tree I moved from the shrubbery next to the big Cedar tree looks like producing a nice little crop of a dozen Charles Ross apples. The first is the little apple tree and the second the big tree

More excitingly though I have just been to Oporto in Portugal for a week to visit my friend John Stevenson who has moved there to live round the corner a short walk from his son and family. I do not give an account of my week but rather pick out a few highlights about the city. The only personal happening of note was that the washing machine jammed with my clothese inside and it was 36 hours before i got them back, clean but very creased. Happily I had takeing plenty. I pass over London Heathrow airport, this time not too bad but as always crammed with people of every kind and shape. Why can't they all stay at home? But on to Portugal.

Porto as the Portuguese call it ( “O Porto” means “The Port” ) is a city – I paused to look up the population and realised you might as well have the whole Wikipedia description:

Porto (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈpoɾtu]), is Portugal's second city and capital of the Norte NUTS II region. The city is located in the estuary of the Douro river in northern Portugal. The largest city in the region, Porto is considered the economic and cultural heart of the entire region. The city, which had an estimated population of about 220,000 (est.2008), lies at the centre of the political Greater Metropolitan Area of Porto, with a population of slightly more than 1.7 million (est. 2008),[1] and is the main agglomeration of northern Portugal.[2]
The city of Porto comprises 15 civil parishes. The historic centre of Porto was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996.
One of Portugal's most internationally famous products, Port wine, is named after the city because it is produced in, and shipped from the area.[3] or, more precisely, from Vila Nova de Gaia, a city just across the river which belongs to the same conurbation.
The country was also named after the Latin name of Porto, Portus Cale[4]
Porto district is one of the most industrialised districts in Portugal, and Maia, one of Porto's satellite cities, has the largest industrial park in Portugal.

So there you are. The city itself is picturesque and extends down the steep banks of the Douro river with six bridges. Here is the view from the car of the Funicala as it begins its alarming descent towards the river.

Here is the same bridge from the boat in which we had a trip up the river under the six bridges.

Not all is picturesque. While waitingon the quay for this cruise boat to arrive we watched urbulence innthe river where a black stream evidently of sewage was discharge from the bank. Suddenly the flow increased in volume and we saw hundreds of black fish active among the black effluent. Not far away,happily upstream of this particular source of pollution, boys were swimming in the river.

We saw the finish of the annual race of the Port-carrying boats. These boats used to carry the wine down the river fro the vineyards to be matured in the warehouses and cellars lining the river.

Here is Taylor’s warehouse where the wine is still stored to mature in the great barrels. When matured it is bottled and sent off, still quite a lot to Britain. At one time many of the Port exporters were in fact briish - Taylor,Dow, Sandeman etc as you may see in the picure above on the sails of the Port boats in the annual race.

My posting would not be complete without a picture of me in a restaurant. Heere am I in a restaurant on the quay across the river lunching with my friend John Stevenson and his daughter-in-law Natalia. Her son Paulo took the photograph.

I ate excellent sardines and a very good goat and cow ixed cheese was put on the table with bread to start. Wine is remarkably cheap. in the supermarkets it is around €1 a bottle - rather less than £1 though one can pay as much as €3. The wine is Portuguese and very drinkable.

Porto is preparting to celebrate in 2010 the 200th Anniversary of the expulsion of the French invaders in 1810 in what the British call the Peninsula War. A splendid monument commemorates this. The picture – taken at a distance – shows the British Lion trampling the French Eagle.

Other parts of the monument portray battle scenes. Many sculptures show proud horses but this one has a dead horse amid the debris of battle in bronze. My photograph regrettably is not very good:

Extravagant sculpture in bronze seems characteristic of 19th century Porto. The twentieth century seems though largely to have passed Porto by in terms of architecture. The twenty-first has seen a burst of construction of every kind, apartments, toads and a splendid Metro on which we travelled frequently.

I found that I had reciprocal rights of access to the Club Portuense a fine 19th Century establishment on the lines of Victorian London clubs. Here are some pictures. They come from their web site so I am not breaching confidentiality in showing the images. Here is the Ball Room.

More pertinently, the Dining Room where we enjoyed an excellent dinner elegantly served.

As a contrast here is the market in a nearby seaside town we visited - Espina if I recall correctly.

The assorted poultry bundled together await their destination.

Finally here is a picture of the River Douro from one of the bridges taken in the evening.

So once again we say "Farewell to Oporto, city of river and bridges - and Port Wine".

John Bound.

Monday, 23 March 2009

The Spring is Sprung

I am reminded of the rhyme which I have checked to find:

Spring is Sprung
Spring is sprung,
De grass is riz,
I wonder where dem birdies is?
De little birds is on de wing,
Ain’t dat absurd?
De little wing is on de bird!

I am looking at Spring now I am back in Broadmayne after a tedious flight, an overnight stay with my kind friends near Heathrow, a quiet drive back to mBroadmayne last Saturday and a couple of days to reset my clock by looking at the bright sun.

As to my journey, some of my readers may remember the trouble I had last year at Sydney with nail scissors which were in my hold baggage. For complicated reasons I had to take all my bags on the train from the Domestic to the International Terminal to check in from the beginning and retain my nail scissors. It was laborious and I had to buy a rail ticket but worth it to defeat bureaucracy.

This year however bureaucracy got its own back. AS I left through Sydney International Terminal I realised that I had some coins left - $AU 9.65. In the Duty Free there was a half bottle of Bundaberg Rum from Queensland at $ 5.99. I found a bag of Queensland liqorice sweets for $ 3.75. My readers will have no difficulty is seeing that this totalled $9.75. I persuaded the checkout girl to let me off the 10 cents and put my purchases in my carry on bag.

At Bangkok after eight hours flight there was a brief stop for refuelling and a crew change. Passengers were reuired to leave the aircraft which was of course a pleasure, to take all their possessions and to be back in 30 minutes (we were then kept waiting for some time to board of courser). That left time to walk a very long way to the other end of the terminal where one could move to the upper floor where the departure gates were, in fact to just where we had left the aircraft. So everybody walked back benfiting from the exercise and then had to pass through Security. In Security they said firmly no liquids and too my rum away from me.

I presume had I bought it in the Bangkok Duty Free it would have all right. I was allowed to keep the sweets. I wonder had I had my bottle in a bag from Sydney Duty Free whether it might have been permitted.

A tedious story about a tedious experience. I had no particular need for rum but I grudged the $6 . They say $5.99 but in prectice everything in Australia is rounded to the nearest 10c. We might well do the same here to say 5p and no doubt before long will do so. If as I expect inflation will be the result of printing a great deal of monrey we shall probably be rounding to the nearest £10.

After that 11 hours 25 minutes to London Heathrow was a long time. I was glad eventually to get into my friends' house not far from heathrow and to get a cup of tea and some proper rest.

I did write before that I had more to tell about Adelaide. I was saying that my ciolleagues were very kind to me. For example, here I am at Henly Beach, a seaside suburb of Adelaide with two of my colleagues and their daughter enjoying lunch in a beachside cafe. It is shown with their permission. As I said I am careful not to infringe the privacy of all my friends.

The Adelaide Fringe was on - a park was illuminated and filled with booths with sideshows, temporary theatres and bars. I was taken by anither colleague toa show "The Boy with Tape on His Mouth". It was a one-man show, done entirely in dumb show. In short he brought members of the audience onto the stage and made them do silly things. It was in fact extremely funny. The whole setting was delightful on a warm evening:

Other friends live in a disused church building which makes a spacious and unusual house as the picture shows:

Adelaide suburbs are full of interrsting houses, usually single-story. The older houses have verandahs often supported by substantial and elaborate columns. Here are two isuch houses n the pleasant suburb where my hosts live:

The last evening of my stay I was taken to a restaurant overlooking a small cove where we sat on a balcony watching the sunset and eating King George V Whiting, an exellent fish, with chips and all on a pleasantly warm evening. It made a fitting conclusion to my stay.

That concludes my narrative of this trip. I shall add to my blog from time to time and if it seems likely to be of interest will send round a note. Otherwise you may become a Follower and get automatic notices but I am not going to attempt to explain how.

So here to end is the sunset:

As the travel films used to say, "And so we say Farewell to the fine city of Adelaide" !

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

And so we say "Farewell" to Australia.

I write from the Qantas Lounge in Sydney airport waiting for BA to make me feel at home as they take me to Bangkok briefly and on to London Heathrow to arrive at 6 a.m. on Saturday morning to a no doubt chilly England. When I left Adelaide this morning the sky was cloudless and it looked like being 30C - that is hot in Fahrenheit. From where I am sitting I look out of the window to the towers of Sydney some six or seven miles away. They form an impressive group but it puzzles me why just a few hundred yards in location should make it worth building forty stories and not far away only two or three. The towers (picture later) form a remarkably small group as in any city centre.

I am told that England is bursting ionto Spring with fleecy clouds and blossom everywhere. Indeed I look forward now have been away five weeks to being home and seeing my home - just like Mole and Mole End in the Wind in the Willows - and all my freinds. Of course the grass will need cutting when I get back.

Back-tracking, I spent the first three nights here at the Adelaide Club a very old-established bastion of the Adelaide establishment where I enjoyed comfort and attention in their 1863 Clubhouse in the centre of Adelaide.

The interior is impressive and of the period. Here is the main dining room.

These pictures are taken from their web site so I am betraying no confidences in showing them.

I am fortunate enough to enjoy reciprocal membership. I found myself among friends - I went to dine alone andnthe only other occupants of the dining room were a party of 12 or so who immediately sent over for me to join them. Even whenthey realised I was a Pom they were all still charming. I am confirmed in ny happy experience of Australia.

Then I moved on to stay with my kind friends John and Allison Manefield who had just returned home and was again looked after in their spacious house and introduced to many nice people.

Having said all this let me note I went to do some work and most days I have been in to the Unoversity of South Australia where I had desk in the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Research in Marketing with which study I duly occupied myself. My colleagues.

So watch this space for more about Adelaide with the inducement of pictures too.

And now the tedious part - stting in an aircraft for some 22 hours with only a two hour stop at Bangkok.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Farewell to the Land of the Long White Cloud

After all the excitement of the Art Deco weekend - my picture there I may say with pride has been widely admired - my narrative becomes more humdrum. I deliberately write little about my hosts and friends since as I said before not everyone wants details of home and doings published to the world. My readers are I presume all my friends and family but there must be an occasional web browser who finds this blog. Perhaps indeed it may become a cult. The paucity of commnenIs does not suggest this. Comments and particularly corrections by local residents are much to be welcomed.

So to resume. I moved on from my cousin Graham and his wife Marjorie in Napier, Hawkes Bay (there is I believe some dispute as to whether there should or should not be an apostrophe) about 80 miles south to Palmerston North. I took the second of two possible routes for the first part of the journey and passed through vineyards and orchards before rather higher ground carried forests as well as pasture.

Since New Zealand has a mountainous spine like the Pennines only bigger. It has few crossing points and the population is well scattered there is not the network of roads to which we are accustomed and I had the choice of one of two roads for the first part of this journey and then of only one. Off the main roads are numerous small turnings each leading to a few farms, duly signposted and nearly all labelled ‘No Exit’. As with much else of which I write, look at Google Earth or Maps to see what I mean.

As I approached the hills I passed through a district settled by Scandinavians – the town Dannievirke and also Norsewood, a little settlement now by-passed and where I had a not very satisfactory snack. I should have done better at the Hotel a typical pub, Here are some views:

Here is another picture. As with every other little place on New Zealand and Australia there is a War Memorial with an impressively long list of names from the First and Second Wars. In Britain we too often forget what the ANZAC did. But as I say to people here, the names on the memorial in Broadmayne were of men who had never been ten miles from Broadmayne in their lives and to whom Flanders was as far away as it was to the ANZAC.

I pressed on to the south towards the hills now following the railway (3foot 6 in gauge and very winding – unfenced too) and the Manawatu (Manna- wat – tu) river as it was funnelled into a gorge. Before that I turned down a side road over the bridge pictured below to a café tucked away in the woods. The one lane bridge is again typical of country areas.

On either side of the gorge there are extensive wind farms on the hills. Some towers may be seen in the picture. They are a feature of the landscape visible for many miles and not out of place on the hills which are otherwise sheep pasture. I should not like such installations any closer to habitation than are these.

The road wound down the left side of the gorge which meant all the places to park where on the riverside so no pictures. The gorge is striking but the cliffs each side are only two hundred feet or so high. The railway is the other side of the river.

Then the road dropped into the plain and Palmerston North. The town of some 20,00 inhabitants at a guess and laid out on a grid pattern with wide streets is an agricultural marketing centre and the home of Massey University where I was able to call and talk usefully with colleagues. It is also the home of my young cousin and his wife with whom I stayed.

The principal centre of the district used to be Foxton on the west coast and now a yachting harbour and rather featureless holiday home centre. Coastal shipping was the principal and indeed the only means of communication in New Zealand before the railway came in the second half of the 19C and later the motor car. The car must have been a major improvement for the farmers. Instead of an all-day drive with a wagon into town and perhaps having to stay the night, they had easy contact and of course their children could get to school.

Before that road transport was by ox cart through the Bush. The area of Dannivirke and Norsewood was in the 40-mile Bush and the first settlers hauled their supplies over unmade tracks by the 2 mph oxcart. Only the fertile coastal areas offered accessibility and transport for their produce to the farmers. The same was true in England to a lesser extent. Towns by-passed by the railway in the 19C withered and ugly new centres prospered. In Dorset I think of hill-top Shaftesbury which decayed while Gillingham nearby on the flat and on the rail prospered.

I had an enjoyable few days in Palmerston in the 1910 wooden single-story house which is being patiently restored with period features. I was take to a party at a farmhouse in the country where I had great hospitality and the best cold beef I can remember. The beef of course came from the farm.

I visited a steam engine Museum, started by the retired proprietor of an engineering company and still run entirely by him and his wife. They have some massive machines which are in steam on specified days which alas I missed. Here is one engine, a patent slip engine designed to haul vessels up onto a slipway:

The interesting thing to me about it that it was built by Day Summers in Southampton. That is a name I recall. My father had his first job there in the office. Here is the name plate on the engine:

Then it was another 80 miles south alog the west country lined with little holiday resorts and second homes until I reached the suburban rail terminus where suburban Wellington began in earnest concentrated down the Hutt Valley to the sea.

Wellington has a fine harbour almost surrounded by steep hills and cliffs. The city occupies a narrow coastal shelf leaving the suburbs to climb up the hills. Alternatively commuters and business travel a few miles along the coast to the Hutt Valley extending north with more space. From Wellington it is about 15 miles across the strait to Picton the ferry terminus in the the South Island. One must remember that it is always the North Island and the South Island, never just North Island and South Island.

I found the car rental depot tucked away in a little street balance on a small bluff and had a lift back to the airport which occupies a flat isthmus and so has sea at both ends of the happily adequately long runway. So through the sirport where $NZ 25 were collected from me, cash only, at the last moment and the currency exchange had no Australian dollars in stock - evidently a surprise that anyone was going there.

In NZ the two dollar coins are bigger than the one dollar coins. In Australia the one dollar coins are bigger than the two dollar. Justy one of the confusing things of the world like the American dollar notes which are all of the same size, colour and basic design for all denominations. This explains the traditional American bill-fold but is not helpful in handing out the right money.

There was of course nothing like the old Bank of England high denomination notes. I never handled more than a five-pound note, large, black printed on white paper with a handsome if meaningless promise in script on its face. One always had to write one's name and address on the back when using one photo identity in those happy times was not needed. When they were returned to the Bank they were always cancelled never to be issued again.

I left New Zealand with regret. The weather had been pleasant, though rain in Palmerston and all the people kind. I had my hair cut (no tips!) in Trardale the suburb of Napier in which my cousin Graham lives. The barber said to me, "You're a new face in the Bay."

I replied, "You said that the last time I was here - two years ago."

I did though have some problems with Camembert Cheese. New Zealand is a big dairy country and has some very good cheese as well of course as the usual processed kind. The splendid state of the art new supermarket in Taradale has an extensive cheese counter and I bought some camembert which was solid creamy-brown. I took it back and the manager explained that it was NZ Camembert - all his stock of various brands was the same. No soft whie inside gradually ripening to a ore solid consistency. Australian Camembert is normal but sold definitely on the ripe side I find. Mature Cheddar on the other hand though not cheap was excellent. The supermarket presented me some in addtion togving me my money back so I had no complaint.

A three hour flight saw me at Sydney, a tedious change via bus from the International to the Domestic Terminal and on to Adelaide. More in my next.

Your peripatetic correspondent.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Art Deco in bulk!

The last post seems to have been published satisfactorily so here is another about Napier and its Art deco weekend. Three cruise liners called on successive days disgorging passengers for a brief shopping expedition. The Weekend is though and occasioin for the locals to enjoy themselves and is not really a tourist thing at all.

It all starts because Napier claims to be the Art Deco capital of the world. Following a destructive earthquake and fire in 1931 the town was handsomely rebuilt in 1932 in the contemporary style, loosely termed Art Deco a term used to described constructions from the sinuous decoration of the 1900’s Paris Metro to the 1930’s rectangular chrome and concrete styles. This one of the most celebrated Napier buildings:

Other less pretentious commercial buildings followed the style:

Last weekend was the annual Art Deco weekend with hundreds parading in a wide variety of costumes, plays, receptions, and a parade of at least 200 vintage cars. This 1920 Silver Ghost Rolls Royce is straight out of the pages of Dornford Yates ‘Berry and Co.’.

I went to quite a few public events wearing my striped blazer and a borrowed straw boater with a borrowed stick and found that I fitted in well though I do not go back quite that far. As for example:

They were complete strangers. I hasten to add that the picture was taken by the husband of one of the ladies.

A feature on Sunday was the `Gatsby’ picnic. This was held in the Marine Gardens where several dozen gazebos (a term little used in England since the 18th C – or am I behind the times with a revival?) but a handy word in NZ to describe a temporary shelter or tent as well as a summer-house housed period picnics such as :

Warm evenings meant that good-nature crowds continued to circulate. Here is the illuminated fountain.

So now the weekend is over and it has all been put away until next year after a few days when lots of people, many of them older, were able to enjoy a genuine carnival of dressing up and good natured amusement.

My descriptive powers are exhausted.

On my way to Napier NZ

Here I am in New Zealand.

The road along which I drove south from Auckland is State Highway One which runs from the extreme North of the North Island down through Auckland all the way to Wellington, some 250 miles. It then jumps across the strait to Blenheim in the North of the South Island and runs another one hundred miles to Invercargill, the most southerly town in New Zealand. Invercargill sounds Scottish and has a climate to suit. A small country has quite a range of climate. The extreme north is almost sub-tropical with tree ferns and avocados sold by the roadside in bagfuls.

For some fifty miles south of Auckland Highway One is busy but not congested Motorway or dual carriage-way and then I turned off to avoid Hamilton the second largest town I think in NZ and on to Cambridge a centre of rich pastureland and horse-breeding. Here is the splendid 19C Church, entirely timber-built.

The road heads south through wooded hills with rocky cliffs down to the lakeside town of Taupo.Taupo is a not very attractive holiday resort on the edge of the great crater lake some twelve miles across. From Taupo the blue mountains of the central range form the skyline to the west.

Highway One continues south up over the arid upland plateau in the rain-shadow of mountains to the west and past to the east Mt. Ruapehu a still active volcano but paradoxically skiing areas,. I recommend Google Maps or Google Earth to follow all this.

The road to Napier heads west up over a plateau and through one of the world’s larger planted forests where in plantations the Radiata Pine grow to large trees in some twenty-five years. It must be nearly fifty miles without a filling station before the road meets the coastal mountain range and winds up and down into the valleys and across the rivers for another twenty-five miles. I met low cloud and some rain too over the hills. There is a steady flow of traffic. On the hills a passing lane often enables slow trucks to be overtaken. Then the coast, the Pacific Ocean and Napier town and port where my cousin and many of his family live.

So now let me see how this posting works before I put in a lot more about the Art Deco weekend which is the interesting topic. As they used to say in what were called teaser advetising campaigns, 'Watch this space!'

Friday, 13 February 2009

From New Zealand

In the past I have sent my friends Travel Bulletins but have now decided rather than cloggingn their Inboxes just to tell them when I have posted and update to this Blog in which I intend to post accounts of my travels and some pictures as I go. I write now from Rothesay Bay on the North Shore not far from Auckland where I am staying with kind hosts Murray and Tricia Smith .
I am saying little about my various hosts in this Blogand and I hope not too much about myself. I try to write like a travel correspondent describing particular places and incidents which strike me as of interest. Comments are welcome, especially corrections from people who actually know about places and things on which I comment superficially.
I pass over getting here via Sydney which was boring and tedious. I had a day in Sydney, tired and with cool, gloomy, foggy and wet weather. I had had in mind to take the ferry to Manly Beach where I have been before and to contemplate the blue Tasman Sea while I ate seafood salad with perhaps a glass of something to drink. No luck, so on to Auckland where Immigration and Customs took an hour and I was lucky still to be able to pick my rental car and drive through Auckland for an hour to my kind friends Murray and Tricia Smith who are putting me up for the weekend in their agreeable house overlooking the wide Pacific.
It is after a long hot summer today cool and wet. The Pacific looks rather less inviting than Weymouth Bay. The glamorous photographs I hoped to add are not avaialble just now.
The North Shore contains a string of attractive outer suburbs along the East Coast north of Auckland, across the Harbour inlet south of which the main city lies. I suggest Google Maps or Google Earth to see what it is all like. The coast road winds up and over headlands and down into valleys, all once covered with dense Bush, but now with attractive houses, timber-built, shopping centres and a beach for each bay.
Commuting into Auckland is inland to the Motorway and then south over the Harbour Bridge - five lanes, one of which is reversible, and still a bottle-neck. Along the Motorway there is Park and Ride for bus services with reseved lanes into town. Not the country for a suburban railway up and down hill.
All the Media and indeed everybody in Australia of course at the moment is talking about the Bush fires and the shocking loss of life in places which might have been expected to be peaceful and untroubled by the problems of the world. The concern has spread across the Tasman Sea to NZ from which fire-fighters have gone to NSW to help.
However the morning paper here has as its headline and leading story the family who found a broken overhead power line snaked and sparking across their front lawn. A happy place where that is the headline story.
So greetings to my kind readers: more of the Antipodes before long. New Zealand is actually the Antipodes of Spain - Britain is nearer a Pole than is New Zealand.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Greetings from Dorset

We move slowly in these parts. The last big thing that happened here was that the Romans arrived in AD 46. Since then it has been very quiet. So starting a Blog is quite an innovation.

However I have decided to replace the Travel Bulletins which have previously clogged my friends' inboxes by a brief note telling them whenever I publish a blog about myself or about my travels. I can put in a few pictures in the Blogs too.

I am not sure how much personal information to give but my relations and friends do not need this anyway.

My first travel news is that I am booked to fly from Heathrow to Sydney on February 10 on the way to NZ and then to South Australia. All being well I am due back at LHR - London Heathrow perhaps I should write - on March 20.

John B.