Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Trip Down Memory Lane

At the same time I upped and left Auckland, my mother did as well. Instead of Blenheim though, she moved to an hour out of Wellington to Waikanae. I was over there New Year that first year so we did a trip down memory lane.  

I spent my the first 8 years of my life in Wellington. Lower Hutt to be exact, or Lover Hutt according to my marriage certificate. So we drove past the buildings I still knew.  The first was Avalon Dairy.  I knew this building well as I used to walk past it to and from school every day.  

I swear it hasn't changed inside.  Even the lolly counter is in the same place it was 45 years ago. I know that lolly counter well because I remember stealing 20c out of my mothers purse one day. I spent it in this dairy buying lollies.  20c back then bought a huge amount.  I knew I wouldn't take it home as I would have them all taken away from me, so I walked around to my aunt's place and she put them in a big jar.  Every now and then I'd pop in for another feast on lollies!  I still feel guilty!

This is my grandmothers house and the house my mother grew up in, in Ropata Crescent.  Each room was a different colour and was referred to by that colour. I have never forgotten the gold room, the old singer sewing machine, the belt we were threatened with if we were naughty, (I think we hid it one time), the gas fire, and the lovely roast meals we used to have there. I even remember being there when a small earthquake hit.

The house I grew up in for my first eight years. 56 Garden Road. The marble fence I remember my Dad building and my older brother helping.  I also remember being at home on the day of the 1968 hurricane when the Waihine sunk. I was home with an infection in my knee. I remember being scared we were going to lose our roof like the neighbours up the road.

Other things I remember when I see the garden is going outside and skating on a heavy frost.  I also remember my brother chasing me round and round the house saying he was going to kill me, and me screaming my head off. I've never been the same since!  Another memory is of me running over the road calling out to my friend Donna.  While I was calling her a fly flew into my mouth.  I ended up swallowing it.  Funny that the things we remember the most are the ones that were most unpleasant!

My old primary school I attended. I remember getting milk to drink each morning. I never liked it as I hated warm milk. Getting ordered   lunches. School trips to Days Bays. I also remember my teacher hitting me with a ruler down my legs for talking.  I hadn't heard her say stop. Our classroom was in the school hall at the time while our classroom was being painted. No wonder I didn't hear her. I don't think my hearing loss had been picked up by then.

Going forward, Anne was born in 1985.  Shortly after we were transferred to Wellington through her fathers work.  This is the house we owned in Churton Park - a cotswald cottage  I loved that house.  Our neighbours, the Howards, were excellent too :) Some of the trees/shrubs we had planted were still there which was nice.

I did wonder if the house was rented now though, as it was in sore need of a paint.  Made me want to go out and get a paintbrush straight away.

It's a good feeling going down Memory lane until you realise that nothing really has changed.  Everything has just got older. Like me!

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Necessary Evil

See this thing above? It's a portable vibrating alarm clock that we, as deaf/Deaf people rely on to wake us up in the morning. A necessary evil and the bane of my life.  Its named 'The Vibrator'.

Some people are able to just shove it under the pillow and it'll wake them up with a gentle vibration at the right time. Not me though! For some reason whenever I need to get up early to catch a flight, or for an appointment, as soon as I set the alarm clock, my body goes into this weird phase. It's an 'OMG I have to get up early, what say the vibrating doesn't wake me, I better stay awake all night' phase. So I toss and turn, and I might doze for a while, but you can guarantee I'll be wide awake an hour before the alarm is ready to go off. When I don't need it, I'll be dead to the world and nothing will wake me!

I can't shove this contraption under my pillow either in case on that very rare occasion I do go to sleep, my body in a fit of absolute contrariness will roll over to the other side of the bed and I won't feel a thing and slumber on. No, this contraption has to be clipped onto me. Note the shape. It doesn't really have a good shape, and its hard. That means if you turn over, it ends up digging into you and wakes you up anyway.

But last night. It went mad. Totally insane. I don't know what I did to deserve the treatment it gave me last night. I had a flight to catch this morning - and the only flight I could get was one at 7.00am. Which meant I had to be at the airport at 6.30am. So I set the alarm for 6.02am. I double checked that it was 6.02am and not pm. I even double checked the time it was to make sure daylight saving had been accounted for.

For once, I actually went into a deep sleep. I know this because when the vibrator went off I immediately thought - gee that was a good sleep, makes a change! I opened my eyes. Hmmmmm something seems a little off - it's *very* dark for 6.02am. I switched on the light. 3.30am??? WTF??? I woke up enough to set the alarm clock back to 6.02am, clipped it back on to me, turned over and tied to go back to sleep.

{{{{vibrate}}}} ten minutes later. In the dark, I fiddled with the buttons to turn the snooze off and back on again. No matter what I did, the clock then vibrated every ten minutes from 3.00am to 4.30am. The clock would not co-operate, and the snooze could not be turned off. Finally I had had enough. I got up, turned the light on, and reset the alarm again. Just as well I did as the alarm had somehow reset to 7.02am, and the time was way off anyway. I clipped it back onto me, turned over again and tried to go back to sleep.

This time the clock behaved, but my sleep pattern was so disturbed, I then dreamed my cat was missing, that I was going round yelling for her at the top of my voice and somehow ended up at a friend of my cousin Ruth and Terry, who had tooted the horn at me a few times to say hello (so they told me in my dream), and I was yelling for my cat in their garden and she came. I was carrying her home when I woke up at 5.02am, to find the cat right on top of me, exactly like Garfield.

I gave up then, and just lay awake waiting for my alarm to vibrate. It did. At 6.02am. Right on the dot.

I've decided that I will go nowhere before 9.30am from now on!

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Visit to Blackball

Liz rang me up the other night telling me she was about to pick up a new kitten and would I like to come for the drive.  I'm a sucker for small furry animals so jumped at the chance.  The kitten happened to live 347km away from my place so we packed a chilly-bin full of food and to off early in the morning.  Well - 7am - early enough for me!

The weather wasn't that good, so we didn't stop in many places, but we did decide to explore Blackball, a small town on the wet coast.  I mean the West Coast.  We were lucky - it stopped raining just as we got there.

Blackball was named after the Black Ball Shipping Line which leased land in the are to mind for coal.  It was formerly known as Joliffetown and Moonlight Gully.  It is the centre of NZ radicalism and workers' militancy, and was the birthplace of the NZ Labour Party, which followed the 1908 miners 'cribtime' strike which at ten weeks was the longest in NZ history.

The miners also striked in 1913 and this time, they burnt down the secretary of the 'arbitration' (scab) union's home.  In 1925, the headquarters of the Communist Party of NZ moved to Blackball from Wellington.

Liz and I wandered down the street with our cameras.  We found one shop - the Blackball Bling....

Dr Who was obviously around somewhere but we couldn't find him anywhere.  We did find his spaceship though...

However, he had left someone guarding his ship...

Liz was hoping to be teleported to some other planet, but I think they had taken the engine out so she was out of luck..

Lots of properties and sections for sale. If anyone wants a blackberry field - look no further...

This is 'Formerly the Blackball Hilton Hotel'.  Built in 1910.  The international Hilton chain made them change it's name from the Blackball Hilton...  Now a good popular pub going by the few cars that were outside...

We wandered down the main road taking photos of the houses....

If anyone from Auckland wants to clear their mortgages, you should sell up and buy this one, which is for sale....

Some of the houses were freshly painted and very tidy...

But the majority were not...

What surprised me was the open drains along each side of the road.  That's something we don't often see in safety conscious New Zealand...

Black and White lawnmowers that bleated dotted some of the gardens.

I found the dead centre of blackball.  Small, and some of the graves were very old...

Old barns/woodsheds were abundant as well...

The only locals we saw were very talkative!

The coal mining pit was closed in 1964.  The current population is 330, and the NZ museum of Working Class History will be opening there soon.

Very interesting little side trip and some important history of New Zealand looked at.  I think Blackball is worth a visit if you're passing that way.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Molesworth-Rainbow Station - Day 2

The next morning we were up early again and off to start making our way home via the Rainbow Road that goes over Jacks Pass, then through the St James Conservation Valley.  By Lake Tennyson and the start of the Clarence River, and up the Island Saddle.  This is all on the Molesworth Station.  Somewhere after that we then go through onto the Rainbow Station, through Coldwater Creek, then onwards to St Arnaud.  It's pretty rough in places and a four wheel drive vehicle is an absolute must.

We didn't get far for our first photoshoot of the morning.  Just at the top of Jacks Pass, about 15 mins out of Hanmer Springs.  The view was spectacular...

Overlooking the valley floor way below...

I got trevor to take a photo of me doing the tourist jump.  At least my feet actually left the ground!!

After mucking round up on the pass we carried on through the St James Conservation valley - really beautiful.  There were so many places I wanted to stop and explore but we would never get home!!  We did stop at this DOC hut though to take some good photos..  This is the hut for the Fowlers Pass Track. For good keen trampers!

As you can see there was not a cloud in the sky... Very typical of Marlborough summers.

And the hut was patchworked rather cleverly I thought..

The Clarence River, which starts at Lake Tennyson..

The road to Lake Tennyson..

And the lake it self.  Gorgeous colour.  There was a lovely beach, and apparently a walking track right around it.  This is definitely on my bucket list!  

Although it was very warm while we were here, it was very cold that morning.  Talking to campers along the lakeside, they told us they had woken up with ice in their hair.  So even though it was high summer, this is alpine country and still very chilly at night and early morning.

The start of the Clarence River...

And a good keen fisherman....

This is one of many very modern toilets that appear dotted over the Molesworth station at various points.  They were very clean too!  I was impressed and it takes a lot to impress me when it comes to outdoor loos!

Those mounds of rock in distance are huge.  They're graywacke and are around 125-135 million years old.  Fairly ancient!

You can't get away from the pylons - such a shame as some of the vistas are amazing, but spoilt by these big man-made metal things..

We arrived at the Island Saddle and Liz and I got out our macro lens and tripods to take images of alpine vegetation. The Molesworth is an area of national ecological significance. Over 70 threatened plant species grow here, a quarter of which are acutely threatened. These are mostly herbs and include two native mistletoes, five daisies, a hairy mountain cress, a buttercup, a gentian, a plantain and a hebe.

This is the Alpine grasshopper waving to us all.  I told him he'd be in my blog eventually so he waved for the photo! He's sitting on an Alpine Daisy.  To give you an understanding of size, the grasshopper is about half the size of the fingernail on my little finger. Maybe half a centremetre, if that.  The Alpine Daisy is really pretty, and tiny as well.

 The Alpine Daisy...

And this is the Alpine Bluebell which is even smaller than the Daisy.  Again, very beautiful.  I'd really like to get up there with my camera again!

Back in the car.  By this time we had lost Trevor and the others as we had dawdled with our cameras for much longer!  So Liz, Keith and I just went at our pace.  The day had warmed up considerably too.  I reckon it was over 30C and possibly much higher. We drove through beautiful mountain valleys like this...

 And this...

 I managed a self portrait... My face was somewhat sunburned!

Here's Liz taking some wonderful photos...

And Keith taking a rest from Rock Climbing and pointing out something interesting to me.  (I think I just got him to point to make the photo look more interesting!!)

Our next stop was Coldwater Creek.  With the skull on the sign, I felt like I had been transported into some western movie!

A few weeks earlier this whole area was in flood so there was lots of dead vegetation and debris around here.

We had some lunch and I was soooo hot I decided to go and sit on a rock and put my feet into the creek to cool down.  Much to Liz's amusement. Amusement because this is a snow fed creek from the mountains, and I am a city girl with no knowledge of these things.  I think I managed to keep my feet in the water for all of 3 seconds.  If I hadn't taken them out after that, I'm sure they would have turned to ice, then fallen off and shattered! I'm sure Liz has a few photos of me with my face contorted from the sheer iciness of the water.  She hasn't shown these to me yet, so hopefully they didn't turn out!

I had my +10 ND filter with me, and the sun was high, so perfect opportunity to stick it on my camera and start taking photos.  This is the first and only time the +10 ND filter has worked for me...  I was rather pleased with the results.  Just can't stand that dead vegetation...

Then onto the Rainbow Station, and we followed the Wairau River...

We stopped to pay the toll and Liz disturbed a possum when she went to the toilet there.  The station owners dogs tried to get it, but we staved them off long enough to take a few photos.  It was like a stunned mullet so we were able to get a few good ones...

We got home about 8pm - what a fantastic weekend.  I can't wait to do it again.  Thanks Liz and Keith for inviting me and allowing me to transport rocks home in your vehicle for my garden.  (I think I still owe you some rock freight!)