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 cafĂ© 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.