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.