A grand day.

(You might want to make a coffee before sitting down. This is a long blog.)

With heavy hearts we finally packed up and left the beautiful coastal campsite at Waipu Cove. We had been there three nights, and I had had the only vegetarian option on the menu twice, so what choice did we have? Really?

Taking my tongue out of my cheek now….

Passing a man revamping a pizza restaurant – and doing it properly. All window ledges being sanded down before priming and repainting. Made Keith go all squidgy – he’s a man that likes to see things be done just right.

Whangarei, the major city of Northland, looked worryingly comparatively large, but in fact was calm and pleasant, helped by the river and many not-too- posh yachts moored there.

The information centre was democratic with lovely gardens:

And an artist doing murals in the midst of everyone’s refreshments.

This small building:

Is called ‘the seed’ (Te Kakano) and is a scale model for a new art gallery to be built on the site of this building, on the Banks of the river…

A ‘hundertwasser’ building. A

It’s a complex story, but well worth investigating, but essentially Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser was an eccentric artist with Austrian and New Zealand connections. How eccentric? Think Dali, think Gaudi then multiply it together. He was an opponent of ‘a straight line’ and indeed of any standardisation, expressing this concept through building design.

The new art gallery, which will have a large section devoted to Maori culture, will be 100 times the size of the seed which comes with a ‘tenant tree’.

And so, past the tied up yachts, and the groups of tourists, to find Keith.

No, not our Keith, Keith the glass artist:

Keith Grinter. He produces some intriguing work, and had detailed explanations about his use of coloured glass.

The visit was considerably if unwittingly enlivened by this person, Lisa Rego, who is the official artist for the America’s Cup and is half British, half Bermudan.

She showed us some of her pictures whilst meanwhile her friend encouraged me to get to know Our Lord in only 11 minutes, using modern techniques (the internet I gather).


Keith is originally from Ipswich. Greatest concert he attended was Pink Floyd in Brighton in the 70s. He was a uni drop out in the 70s (wasn’t everyone? Well no actually my parents would have killed me, and anyway biochemistry students aren’t that imaginative) (imaginary conversation, obvs). He subsequently was a computer programmer but is now a successful glass artist.

Anyway…. Lisa and Keith chatted things artistic, culminating in Lisa observing that there must be some ‘health and safety concerns’.

Yes said Keith, phlegmatically, it gets hot.

The Clapham Clock Museum, contains the collection of Archie Clapham, a man originally from Yorkshire. It houses over 7000 clocks and watches – and other time pieces, many of which were very entertaining. Worth a visit and I was particularly interested in this one – the clock face says: Gaskell, Knutsford. Mrs Gaskell was a long time resident of Knutsford (Cheshire) and the book Cranford was modelled closely on this small market town which was my home for many years (and is now a draw for WAGS etc). (Hence my own ineffable style).

Random other observations:

Found we had parked illegally in a central car park. Lady traffic warden says ‘ that’s ok, finish your lunch, then when you’re ready, perhaps you could move?’

Cyclist came to petrol station. Came across to pump to put rubbish in bin but no- had a gallon can (like huge baked bean tin) in his pack which he filled.

Beautiful, ancient trees by many deserted beaches:

And also huge mesanbreanthemums (sp??) which I struggle with at Home growing wildly on edge of coast:

Fish pulling funny face on beach (admittedly dead) and husband doing same (despite still being very definitely alive):

Wild parrot: (migrant from Australia, much More flamboyant than indigenous parrot, why am I not surprised?).

It flew to reveal A lime green flash on its rump.

Great valley like England of yesteryear, including mr and Mrs Pig and 10 piglets: sorry such distant pic.

And so to Puriri Bay, a campsite run by the DOC (department of conservation)which has no power, cold showers, long drop (no flush) toilets and is by a safe swimming and fishing beach where there are KIWI.

I did ask the warden about the kiwi (apparently nocturnal, a fact of which I was oblivious) and managed to persuade him to demonstrate the male and female call, a fact of which I may not have been entirely oblivious. Am I wrong?

Tantrums: all sweetness and light today. I drove.

New words: saw gazetteered and riparian used in same sentence. Our comprehension of the native tongue progresses by leaps and bounds.

Kindness? That had to be the traffic warden.

We’re to the right of the tree.

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