Friday, August 3, 2007

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Thursday, August 2, 2007

Hey, Taranaki!

THIS is what a volcano looks like!
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Auckland to Thames 31st July 2007

31 July 2007

I’m typing this up back home, in bed. Our amazing holiday is over.

Mind you, today wasn’t that exciting.

I probably turned the light out at 8.00pm last night (the light switch was by the door), and then couldn’t see the bed, so D.C. had to turn her torch on so I could find the rungs to climb into the top bunk. Then, because it was so early, no one was being quiet. I could hear each time the lift was used (our room was next to the stairwell/lift shaft – on the bed's side.) And, because the doors had such strong locking mechanisms we could hear each time someone left a room. I probably dropped off (to sleep, not the top bunk) at about 9.30pm only to be woken in the wee small hours (no idea what time) by a couple talking. Slept again only to be woken by the early birds who had to catch flights.

We had breakfast at the X-Base café. Continental breakfast of Weetbix, fruit, yoghurt, toast and honey.

Checked out of the X-Base and D.C. complained again about the blood on the duvet that she had complained about when we last stayed (in the same room).

Helped an Asian man use the lockers. The problem was he was working in some foreign language/text and I was trying to remember and explain in English. We got there though. He caught the same bus we did at 1.15pm.

It was a good trip home. Waved to Lea Rhind and Mark Christinsen as we went past CTP but they weren’t looking.

D.C. had her daypack, two trundler cases and a Kumfs bag with her coat in it, so I took the Kumfs bag to work to take home tomorrow. Turned off the computer, the printer, shut the doors and put up the “Warning! Protected by Signature Security” sign. Then I was just leaving when Barrie Russek turned up in the office. I said “Hello. Goodbye.” And left.

D.C. and I started walking home, when Diane Connors came out from the Information Centre in her car. She offered to give us a ride home, which was great.

Querie was very happy to see us. His tail was quivering in ecstasy. We gave him something to eat and he bogged in. Once I was sorting out things in the dining room and I heard this plaintive meow. I went outside and he was sitting up on his feeding station. I gave him a pat and he began eating again. He’s happy now and spent the evening on D.C.’s knee.

We went down the road and bought some bread and our usual weekly ice cream and saw the Dohertys. Then we got the mail. All our parcels from New Plymouth have arrived.

Home and tried to unpack my bags and sort everything out. My problem is now, where do I put my suitcases?

Bridgecorp was in the news. Looks like I’ll be getting between 25 and 74 cents in the dollar… probably in dribs and drabs in about six months time.

Downloaded the full 675 photos I’d taken over the ten days.

Uploaded yesterday’s blog, but will do today’s tomorrow.

We had a fantastic holiday, if slightly bemusing. We’d expected to be in the background. The Govett-Brewster show was Ann’s triumph, not ours; we didn’t deserve any of the limelight. And, while we owned the quilts at Puke Ariki, we didn’t make them. But the fuss that was made of us made this into a truly unique holiday and one we’ll never forget.

The time is 11.25pm and I’d better sign off.

This is my last blog entry for a while.

And we still believe that Mount Taranaki is a myth.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Still to come...

We got home at about 3.00pm today and I'll upload today's blog tomorrow, after I've written it.

My photos for the 30th

New Plymouth to Auckland 30th July

New Plymouth 30th July

30 July 2007

This morning seems so long ago that it’s hard to remember what we did. I paid the Bella Vista Motel bill - $1054.40… and then the motelier came running up the stairs with my $10 Internet cable bond.

Having packed, stripped the beds and done everything we had to do (D.C.’s ended up carrying her thick jacket in her Kumfs bag) we, managing to avoid the rain, walked down to Puke Ariki. There, we met with Diana Gibbons and said that if the offer to take us to the airport was still there, we’d accept. She said that she’d realised that she could take us after her “white gloves” talk and that it wasn’t a problem. (The only problem is that I’ve given her my cold… either that or her sister has.) We left our bags at Puke Ariki and went and posted my Thunderbirds jumper and some other items and then, before it started raining, fed the ducks our remaining crust of bread. Then we had a look around the “City Centre” mall, managed to avoid buying anything though we did see some bargains, and had lunch – hotcakes with lots of fresh fruit (orange, banana, apple, grapes, kiwifruit), wild berry sauce and yogurt - $12.50 and apple juice $3.20 each. Very nice.

Then we went back to Puke Ariki and sat in on Diana’s white gloves talk. That was interesting. It was a showing off of items in the museum’s archives and of course the archivists used white gloves to touch the items. Diana showed off maps of New Plymouth and showed how they changed over the years and the same with tourist brochures. Andrew (I think) showed some crockery that had been buried by a family during the land wars so that they could retrieve it after the hostilities were over. The problem was that landmarks had changed when they went back to get them, and so the priceless china lay undisturbed from the 1860s until the 1920s when a farmer, the new owner of the land, happened to plough them up. They are in good condition.

One lady present for the talk had been to Ann’s opening and was asking us questions about Uncle Fred.

Then we talked to Diana about leaving the quilts at Puke Ariki on long term loan, until we decide it they can have them permanently. She was trying to be delicate and tip-toe around issues until I said that we were in two minds. On one had we’re very aware that the quilts should be kept together and that we can’t care for them properly, while on the other ‘pragmatic’ side of things, we don’t have a lot of money. She said that she thought that was the case and that, with no guarantees, she’d see if an offer couldn’t be made. We know that it wouldn’t be as much as if some rich Americans bought them individually, but the collection is of “international importance” and shouldn’t be broken up. And, really, they should remain in Taranaki.

Then Diana took us to the airport, made sure we were okay and said goodbye. We gave her our heartfelt thanks.

I asked about taking photos during lift off and landing and the gentleman who booked us in said that he’d only learnt that recently too, and that he wasn’t sure why.

2.00pm and we made our way to gate three, which appeared to be exactly the same as gates one to four, and probably wasn’t a lot different to gates five upwards. We walked across the tarmac to Thunderbird Seven and were first into the plane. We were in row 12 A & B and the only row behind us were two seats in our aisle.

I think the pilots (one was a lady) on this flight were better than the ones from Wellington. Take off was very smooth and the bank around to face north was less ‘stressful.’ But I think they were sailing a boat because they did some tacking and as we got closer to Auckland we ran into some clouds and over a few potholes. At one point we seemed to go into a bit of a dive and there were a couple of unexpected drops and recovers, but on the whole I wasn’t worried. I might have been less happy if we could have seen the ground instead of being surrounded by cloud. It was more like a train trip with a few misplaced sleepers. The little boy over the aisle reckoned that the pilot needed to learn to drive again.

We got to Auckland, and made the walk across to the terminal without getting wet. Got our bags and eventually (they are upgrading the domestic terminal) found where the Airbus left from. Paid $13 each with our YHA membership discount and got brought into town and dropped off in Queen Street outside of Fort Street. Booked into the X-Base. D.C. paid $75 for the room plus $20 for the key bond, we got settled and then went out to find something to eat.

After a trip up to Skycity to see if their lockers were working, we went to Tony’s “Lord Nelson” for dinner. I had lemon crumbed chicken schnitzel ($26.50) and D.C. had scallops $13.50 and a side order of veges $6.00 and we each had an apple juice $4.00 each. This is coming out of the money that Ann gave us.

Had a look around Whitcoulls. There are a lot of DVDs, books and games that we’d like to get but they cost money and we would have to carry them.

Back to the X-Base and we went to bed at 7.00pm. I’m typing my diary, before proofing Ursula White again, and D.C.’s reading.

And we still haven’t seen Mount Taranaki! We are convinced that it doesn’t exist and is a myth!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

New Plymouth 29th July

29 July 07

Downloaded all our photos to Google’s web album. They haven’t been sorted, captioned or culled, but at least we have a backup.

1.05pm: I don’t think Mount Taranaki’s going to make an appearance today, either. It’s raining. It’s been raining all morning.

We decided that we had to complete the coastal walkway, so we got dressed in our sandshoes – easy to dry(?), yesterday’s socks, waterproof over-trousers, raincoat, and waterproof bag covers and headed out. It was quite nice, walking along the foreshore, listening to the surf pounding onto the rocks, the rain onto our hoods, the sloshing footsteps of the other idiots… um, sorry, walkers and joggers out enjoying the walkway.

We made it to the finish of the walkway, at the port, but didn’t get a photo by the finishing post as that would have meant getting our cameras out to get wet. Instead we found shelter under the verandah of the coastguard’s building and took photos there. I would have liked to have got more photos, but didn’t want to risk the camera.

Then we walked back again.

We walked as far as the wind wand so that we can say conclusively that we have done the full six kilometres both ways. There is one little bit that we’d missed and that was because they were repairing the tornado damage, but we’d probably walked a longer distance skirting it.

It was 11.30 by then, so we decided to have lunch. Chicken satay roll ($6.00 – lots of peanuts! *yum*), hot chocolate $4.00 (not looking forward to get back on those scales. We’ve probably undone all the good work we’d done with the walking.) We also bought a couple of muffin sized carrot cakes ($4.00) for later.

Then, having left puddles of water on the floor of the food court in the Centre City mall (we did tell the cleaners) we sloshed back to the unit. Presently the towel rail and heater are both on trying to dry our shoes, socks, coats and bags. We had a go at using the hair dryer too.

Tried to pack my bag, but I’m stuck until my shoes dry off and I can pack them.

We’re heading off to Govett-Brewster again, just before 2.00pm, for Rhana Davenport’s talk on Ann’s work and then to Puke Ariki to hear Diana Gibbons talk about Uncle Fred’s quilts. I hope it stops raining for the walk.

Now I’m going to go do some proofing of my latest story. I’ve brought it halfway across the country and this is the first opportunity I’ve had to look at it! And we’re starting the trip home tomorrow. *sniff* To see Querie the cat. *yay*

1.19pm: I’d just turned the computer off and then remembered something I was going to say.

D.C. just looked in the wardrobe and I asked her what I had in there to pack: polar fleece vest, pink jumper, pink blouse… *groan* I’m going to post some things home tomorrow, so I don’t have to carry them, but not everything.

And I’ve forgotten what I was going to say. I’ll shut this laptop down, remember, and have to make a note.

7.08pm: I think it was that one of my black Commando M sandshoes was turning grey in parts, as we walked through the rain. I eventually realised that it was air bubbles being squashed out of my shoe.

Ann Shelton’s photographs/Fred Butler’s quilts display: As with everything that we’ve been involved with this week, we’d anticipated turning up to the (for want of a better word) lecture (maybe explanation? Talk?) about Ann’s photos and Uncle Fred’s quilts, and just kind of standing around in the background. Instead we were put on display ourselves. D.C. had been asked to give a quick talk about Uncle Fred for Ann’s show at the Govett-Brewster and it ended up that Rhana Davenport, D.C., Ann and Diana Gibbons were all sitting up in front of everyone and Rhana was expecting me to be there too. My plan was to video for our records and to give a copy to Ann. A man I’d been talking to earlier offered to video for me, so I accepted his offer and took the final chair.

Rhana spoke for a time, off the cuff. The she handed the microphone to D.C. – who was very good. :-) Then Ann spoke and finally Diana. I’m thinking, “What am I going to say if they hand me the microphone?” Everyone was wearing black (D.C. did have a pale blue polo-neck skivvy on), except for me with my pink skivvy and jacket (admittedly my slacks and shoes are black) and when Rhana asked me if I wanted to say anything I said, “No, I’m just here to provide some colour,” and got a laugh.

Four people from the floor got up and spoke about knowing Fred. All remembered him as being very brown (tanned), like a bird (flitting about everywhere), and being very enthusiastic about his collection and willing to show it off. Afterwards we had a good chat with Christine Hellier’s sister.

Then we all hiked down to Puke Ariki (it had finally stopped raining) where Diana spoke about the quilts and some of the conservation that went into them. People were most impressed and asking us questions about them. The Puke Ariki education officer was asking me questions and making notes for her ‘classes’.

Then we came back to the unit, got changed and decided to go get something to eat. Still wary about the weather we thought we might get takeaways and bring them back and have the carrot cake for dessert. Our original plan had been to go to a restaurant that had formerly been called ‘Burtons’ and have a meal there, and by the time we’d hiked along Devon Street, we’d reached the restaurant (now a ‘Breakers’) so we stopped for a meal.
Me: Hawaiian chicken (chicken, salsa, pineapple, cheese, rice, salad) $15. BIG apple juice $4.50
D.C.: Kumara pie (kumara, pumpkin, spinach and cottage cheese) $13. BIG apple juice $4.50

Then we came back to the unit (took us about 10 minutes walking) and had a cup of green tea and the carrot cake. Then tried to dry our clothes some more.

This will be my last blog until we get home. We're staying at the X-base in Auckland tomorrow night and won't have an Internet connection. I'm not expecting anything exciting to happen anyway... not unless Mount Taranki shows himself. And if he does, and we're on the plane, I'm taking photos!
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