Last Friday morning a bit of sunlight broke through the cloud cover and illuminated Castle Rock. This is a high dynamic range (HDR) image captured from our driveway. The image was bracketed (-2EV, 0EV, +2 EV) and processed using Photomatix Pro.
I occasionally help our good friend Diane at Ya-Ya House of Excellant Tea. In addition to selling and serving a good selection of high quality teas from all around the world, Ya-Ya’s has a well designed Zen Garden located in front of the teahouse.
I should also mention that for some reason people just cannot seem to resist walking through or writing in or generally molesting the manicured gravel and sand of the Zen Garden.
Last Thursday I noticed a man taking pictures of the Zen garden located in front of Ya-Ya’s.
I watched this man for a bit and privately mused about how much time would pass before this man too would disturb the Zen Garden. Sure enough, not two minutes passed before he walked over to the garden, reached down, and grabbed a handful of the pristine white sand.
I was moved by the situation and decided to take immediate action: surely some form of penitance (or Karma, in this case 🙂 was on order. I walked outside and kindly suggested that perhaps he would enjoy the Zen Garden more with a cup of tea in his hands.
I certainly did not expect his response to my suggestion. He said, “I have never drunk tea or coffee: I’m a vegetarian.”
The man’s response seemed to be such a non-sequitor I was left speechless. I was born and raised in Southern California and the concept of vegetarianism is not entirely foreign to me.
I realize vegetarians generally do not eat meat; however, I am not aware of any vegetarian restrictions on caffeine, but I could certainly be in the wrong. I did perform a cursory search in regards to vegetarianism excluding the intake of caffeine, but did not find anything which supports the man’s assertion that he does not drink tea or coffee because he is a vegetarian – It was a new one on me.
Just One Of The Guys
The Tamaki Brothers, who operate the Maori Village and Realm of Tane Maori cultural experiences around Rotorua in the North Island, have developed their newest cultural attraction right here in our own backyard – Tamaki Heritage Experiences – adjacent to Ferrymead Heritage Park.
Yesterday the Tamaki Brothers were in Cathedral Square here in Christchurch to shoot some video and help advertise Tamaki Heritage Experiences. As part of the shoot, two Maori war parties clashed with one another while a group of concerned Pakeha (Maori for non-Maori, European, Caucasion) huddled in fear and intrepedation.
After the shoot was completed, the cast handed out pamphlets about the new attraction to curious onlookers. I couldn’t resist a photograph of me taken with two of the Maori warriors. As I posed for the photo one of the fierce looking wariors kindly asked me to put on my “scary face” for the camera.
Gaby and I have reservations for this Sunday evening for one of the first public performances at Tamaki Heritage Experiences! Tamaki Heritage Experiences focuses on the first meetings between the Maori and Pakeha and the impact of Pakeha upon the Maori way of life. The experience includes a reconstructed example of a Pa (Maori fortified village), live performances, and a hangi (traditional Maori meal cooked in an “earth oven”).
“They shall not grow old as they that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn:
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”
-The Fourth Stanza of Lawrence Binyon’s poem For the Fallen, also referred to as the Ode of Remembrance.
Anzac Day Dawn Parade held at the War Memorial on the Bridal Path Road, Heathcote Valley
Why Wear A Poppy?
by Don Crawford
“Please wear a Poppy” the Lady said
And held one forth, but I shook my head
Then I stopped and watched to see how she’d fare
Her face was old and lined with care
But beneath the scars the years had made
There remained a smile that refused to fade.
A boy came whistling down the street
Bouncing along on carefree feet
His smile was full of joy and fun
“Lady” he said, “may I have one?”
As she pinned it on I heard him say
“Why do we wear a Poppy today?”
The lady smiled in her wistful way
And answered “This is ANZAC Day
The Poppy there is a symbol for
The gallant men who died in war
And because they did, you and I are free
That’s why we wear a Poppy you see.
I had a boy about your size
With golden hair and big blue eyes
He loved to play, and jump and shout
Free as a bird he would race about
As years went on he learned and grew
And became a man, as you will too.
He was fine and strong with a boyish smile
But he seemed with us such a little while
When war broke out he went away
I still remember his face that day
When he smiled at me and said ‘Goodbye
I’ll be back soon so please don’t cry.’
But the War went on and he had to stay
All I could do was wait and pray
His letters told of the awful flight
I can see it still in my dreams at night
With tanks and guns and cruel barbed wire
And mines and bullets, and bombs and fire.
Till at last the War was won
And that’s why we wear a poppy my son”
The small boy turned as if to go
Then said “Thanks Lady, I’m glad I know”
That did sound like an awful fight
But your son, did he come alright?
A tear rolled down each faded cheek
She shook her head and didn’t speak
I slunk away, head bowed in shame
And if you were with me, you’d have done the same
For our thanks in giving, is oft delayed
Though the freedom was bought, and thousands paid.
And so you see when a poppy is worn
Let us relfect on the burden borne
By those who gave their very all
When asked to answer their country’s call
That we at home in peace may live
Then wear a poppy, remember and give.
Dedicated to those from Heathcote Valley who died in the service of their country: You are not forgotten.
Cruise ships regularly come to call at the port of Lyttelton. Often when these large cruise ships arrive and depart, boats from the port meet the ships near the mouth of the harbour and escort them as they are piloted along the harbour. On 14 February, the stately Cunard oceanliner the Queen Elizabeth 2 was set to sail from the port. A couple of weeks prior to this we were wandering around the port and noticed a sign near the famous old steam tug the Lyttelton which advertised for a late afternoon cruise aboard the tug to escort the great ship out of the harbour. We also thought the cruise would make a great date in celebration of Valentine’s Day.
The Lyttelton Tug , first put into use around 1907, is maintained and preserved by a group of devoted volunteers. We boarded the old tug around 4:30 P.M. Our first objective was to make our way over to where the QE2 was berthed – outsite the inner harbour, due to the size of the ship.
The wheelhouse was in immaculate condition, as were the the instruments and telegraphs.
Prior to departure everything seemed to need a bit of grease – everything! All the machinery is original and a little bit of tender loving care keeps it all running smooth.
From the inner harbour the Lyttelton Time Ball can be seen high on the hill. At noon, the ball would drop from the top of a long mast and a cannon would fire to signal to ships in the harbour Greenwhich Time for ships so they could adjust their chronometers and get a fix on their longitude before setting out to sea again. The Lyttelton Time Ball is the last remaining operational time ball left in New Zealand. At noon the ball still drops and a cannon is fired!
We slowly made our way to where the grand ship was berthed and waited for her lines to be cast off.
I was more intrigued with the steam engines on the Lyttelton than the more modern QE2, so I headed down to the engine room for a wee visit. The ship has two sets of steam engines which drive two shafts. Each shaft has a high pressure piston and a low pressure piston.
It was impressive to watch the big engines turn the crankshaft. One of the guys in the engine room was Scottish and reminded my of Mr. Scott from Star Trek.
I watched the engine room crew at work for a while and finally realized how the telegraphs from the wheelhouse operate.
Just forward of the engine room is the boiler room. It was neat to see the huge fireboxes blazing.
I spent at least half an hour talking to the fireman in the boiler room about how the whole thing works.
I came back up on deck to see where we were in the harbour.
The QE2 lumbered slowly along as it was piloted through the harbour. However, once the pilot left the ship it gained steam and easily overtook us!
The Lyttelton Tug has steam assisted power steering – not bad for a 100 year old ship.
At the headlands we left the QE2 as she sailed on towards Sydney. Goodbye QE2!
Eventually we made it back to port.
We thought we would complete the evening with a great Italian meal at Freeman’s Dining Room in Lyttelton What a great day!
On 13 January, we took Gaby’s mother Nelda with us to Kaikura for a day trip.
On this trip we decided to try something new for lunch, and stumbled upon a Malaysian Restaurant located on the main road at the north end of town. This restaurant (at the moment I forget the name) serves some of the best Indian/Malaysian food I have ever had. When we were finished with our meal, Nelda went to the kitchen to complement the chef of the small, family run restaurant. It was then that we learned we were dining on the last day this restaurant would be open before being shut down for a year while undergoing a move and renovation! Supposedly they will open back up in the new main shopping center at the north end of town near the New World.
The weather was once again great and we had a great view looking south from the Kaikura peninsula.
The small downtown section of Kaikura.
This is a cryptic sign warning visitors to keep away from the animals – at leat 10 meters. I think the picture shows a person holding a pair of binoculars?
Looking north from Kaikura you see the Kaikura Ranges.
The birds enjoyed the sunshine while relaxing on the parked vehicles.
On slopes of the ridges surrounding Heathcote Valley there is a walking track called the Scotts Valley Track, which meanders across the valley slopes around our house. In late Septemper, 2006 we decided to check out the track.
The carpark for the track is just a few blocks down Bridle Path Road.
The start of the track is rather steep, but the views are worth it! Along the ridgeline, Mt. Cavendish is on the left and Castle Rock is on the right.
The trail passes through an old abandoned stone quarry.
The floor of the valley is where Heathcote is, and the top of the ridge runs along Mt. Pleasant. It’s the area between the valley floor and the ridgeline which constitutes the reserve.
There were groups of these small, colourful flowers along the track.
The yellow flowers seemed to be abundant along the slopes.
These are our neighbors. They have a voracious appetite. We can often hear their occasional bleating from the house.
A view of Heathcote Valley from the Scotts Valley track. The large building in the center is the old maltworks.
The track mostly traverses the slope as it heads towards the Bridle Path.
To the north Heathcote Valley opens up to an estuary.
Near the juncion with the Bridle Path, the Christchurch Gondola heads to the summit of Mt. Cavendish.
The Scotts Valley track ends at the Bridle Path, and a short walk back down to our house. The Bridle Path is the original route over the Port Hills to Lyttelton Harbour. The Bridle path is also a nice track.
Gaby’s mother Nelda stayed with us for a couple of months and we decided it would be nice to show her around a bit. Over the first weekend in January we decided to lend a pair of hiking poles to Nelda and take her into Arthur’s Pass for a short hike along one of the many walking tracks. We chose to drive into the community of Arthur’s Pass and take Nelda along the Devil’s Punchbowl Falls track. We had perfect weather for our hike.
I asked Nelda if she had ever hiked any sort of track like this, to which she replied that she had never hiked in her life. What a great opportunity. I am glad we had the opportunity to take Nelda with us and show her the outdoors up close and personal. We had a great leisurely walk along the trail which gave me the opportunity to snap a few images.
The Devil’s Punchbowl Falls track leads through the beach forest along the valley sides.
It was great to see Gaby and Nelda together enjoying a bit of nature.
I find the plants here to be very interesting. Around every corner there is something new to investigate.
There was still a bit of snow in the mountains.
We noticed these interesting tracks on the leaves of this plant.
I love ferns, and there are many, many here.
When we looked at our walking track options I voted for this track because I thought we would have the opportunity to walk very near the falls. I was a bit disappointed when I realized this stream was about as close as I would get to the falls, which were much higher up the slope. Still, the track was great and Nelda enjoyed it.
There were loads of other things to see aside from the waterfall. Besides, it was a perfect day to be outside.
The track continues over the river and eventually leads back to the main road, but we decided to turn back towards the carpark and weigh our options.
I really wanted to see a waterfall, and the nearby track to Bridle Veil Falls is best described as walking up and down a very long staircase. Nelda decided she had had enough tramping and opted to enjoy a rest on a comfortable rock while Gaby and I hiked up to see the falls.
The route description to Bridle Veil Falls is aptly described, as there are newly built stairs which climb the steep slope. However, the track is short and the view is awesome: just the sort of waterfall I was after!
Located along State Highway 73, just 40km east of Arthur’s Pass and an hour west from Christchurch, Craigieburn Forest Park, in addition to its many walking tracks, is one of the few inland areas where dogs are allowed. In early December, 2006 we decided to take our dog Kuri and team up with our friends M and C1 and their daughter C2, along with their dogs Chewbaca and Leo and head out for a leisurely Sunday tramp. Our goal for the afternoon was to walk to Lyndon Saddle and continue to Lyndon Hill (Helicopter Hill).
It is interesting to note that in California dogs are not usually allowed on beaches, but it is often just fine to take a dog to the mountains, while in New Zealand dogs are usually allowed on beaches (outside of manned lifeguard stations) and generally are not allowed in inland mountainous areas.
This track is very popular with mountainbikers, and everyone seemed to get along together well. Much of the track winds through shady beech forest, at least up to the saddle leading to the Lyndon Hill summit, where the ridgeline becomes more exposed.
The forest is lush green, with mosses covering the forest floor like carpeting and green leafy plants attaching wherever they can find a place.
Under the shade of the beech trees the temperature was nice and mild, a perfect temperature for an uphill walk.
Sometimes we would walk through areas of the forest covered in light, airy moss which resembled sphagnum moss.
We paused at the saddle and grabbed a bite to eat, enjoying the beautiful surrounding beech forest.
Chewy and Kuri tackle M as he takes a break. The dogs seemed to enjoy playing together along the trail.
The summit of Lyndon Hill was covered only in low scrub and allowed for a great view of the surrounding Craigieburn Range.
Just a day or two before there was a bit of a nasty little storm which dumped some snow, some of which lingered on the summit for the dogs to play in.
We had a great view of the valley we ascended, all the way back down to State Highway 73.
Leo enjoyed the view.
After a brief stay at the summit we headed back towards the saddle.
Soon we were walking within the shady ramparts of the beech forest.
M’s daughter C2 was a real trooper.
Kuri enjoyed playing with his new friends and the opportunity to get outside.
One day I noticed flowers starting to bloom on the cherry trees in Hagley Park. Soon every cherry tree was ablaze in color as the flowers were in full bloom, so grabbed my camera and walked to the park to take a few images of the Spring Fling. We do live in the Garden City after all!
The day I was out taking pictures the wind started to pick up. By the following day practically all the petals had already dropped off the trees. I am glad I took some time to walk around and see the flowers in their glory.
Not every tree was in bloom. Some trees had neither flowers nor leaves and provided a dramatic contrast to the vivid colors of the flowers and grass.
Even the clouds seemed to cooperate, providing a great backdrop for the scenery.
Daffodils planted along the perimeter of the park were also in full bloom. It reminded me of the daffodils planted near my house in Arrowbear, California. I could not believe just how many daffodils there were!
These flowers are large and the petals have a great texture. Most flowers were some combination of orange and gold for the petals and the center of the flower.
The perimeter of Hagley Park along Hagley Avenue is quite a wide area, perhaps 100 meters. This border area separates the playing fields of Hagley Park South from the street.
As it turns out, Christchurch has a fairly shallow water table. Much of the area that is today Hagley Park was originally swampland. To drain the water from the swampland ditches were dug to nearby rivers. Many of these drainage ditches are still evident in both Hagley Park and around many parts of town.
While touring the park, looking at the scenery, I noticed this curious exoskeleton hanging from a tree. Upon closer inspection I noticed many of these. Interestingly, I only saw them hanging from the trunks and branches of certain kinds of trees and only on the north side.
When we moved from Southern California it was late Winter and when we arrived in New Zealand in late February Winter was just beginning, so this will be our first Summer down under! I look forward to seeing what Summer at 43º south latitude has in store! My mind seems to still have a Northern Hemisphere bias. I mean, here it is – mid November – and when we get late Spring storms like the wintry blast we had last night I keep thinking that it figures, since we will be heading into Winter soon – Wrong! I am having a hard time adjusting to the fact that it’s Summer during Christmas time here – folks out camping, wearing short pants and short sleeved shirts.
One evening Gaby and I attended a kayaking group meeting here in Christchurch. At one point one of the guys was describing a kayaking trip to Quail Island in Lyttleton Harbour for a spot of tea for Christmas. As he described possible weather conditions to expect he said, “It probably won’t snow – probably.”
“The daffodils are blooming bright/
And Spring is here to my delight.”