And to the Wadden Sea…..

The butt of the trip was to experience the great bird  (and other) life that is the eco system of the Wadden Sea,  ‘an intertidal zone in the southeastern part of the North Sea. It lies between the coast of northwestern continental Europe and the range of low-lying Frisian Islands, forming a shallow body of water with tidal flats and wetlands.’   The area is huge, and flat, and quiet, and windswept, and fertile – and just absolutely gorgeous.  An award winning vistor centre has been reopened recently and is a fascinating introduction to the various plants and animals that live here, much improved for me by the many interactive displays, which appeal to me with my gnat-like attention span.

Thus this aesthetically appealing  introductory display of stylised binoculars and wooden wader models….

is enhanced by the fact that the binoculars really work…

and further enhanced by the fact that the birds then transform into life like appearances with appropriate colours and movement! ( And a label in case you were in any doubt.)

And so around the building, learning of how internal bird organs rearrange themselves in preparation for migration, how many lugworms a curlew has to eat in order to feed for migration ( including another intercative game where I failed the curlew and he died 😦   ),  flatfish in a touching pool, wonderful films of migration and the appearance of the Sea in colder times when the flat are covered by thousands of migrating birds – and a chance to make your own sweet music with birdsong, via a mixer desk, an irresistible challenge to our douty leader….

Something for everyone. Not cheap but we spent several hours there and learnt a huge amount whilst keeping ourselves entertained.

Meanwhile nearby at a picnic area a simple post bears testimony to the serious floods affecting the area over the years:

The top marker registers the flood of 1634 when a storm flood of 13 feet above the normal high tide level breached the dikes already damaged by ice floes and killed tens of thousands of people, many migrant and unrecorded labourers, and over 50000 livestock. Those figures are hard to imagine – and the clean up process with flooded homesteads, no fuel or food, and dikes persistently flooded is unimaginable.

But, of course, we out this to the back of our mind with perfect end to perfect day: a bbq by the river with ne’er a midge in sight.

A tense hour or so with the eternal questions of whether the charcoal would light, whether the food would cook, where the smoke was blowing. It’s a mans world.

The most entertaining part was R bravely asking the supermarket assistant if they sold halloumi. As she didn’t recognise this he went on to explain that the cheese ‘squeaked’ when eaten.

We ended up with paneer and mozzarella.

And did justice to our slowly reducing alcohol stocks.

For the record: tantrums zero.

From Copenhagen to Ribe May 23

Our douty ‘leader’ left early to collect the hired car from the airport leaving us to ensure bikes were safely returned to a hub and we were packed ready to leave the moment he returned.

(Whoops. Not quite kbp but a good approximation.)

We were so prompt we had time to indulge in a little shopping. Ikea Copenhagen style was a labyrinth of must have relatively cheap decorative household items. Such is the faith held in my ability with language that R seemed initially reassured that an unusual exit from the first floor was a disabled exit.

I then noticed the pole. And retranslated the notice which I now thought read ‘for the young and those who feel young’. I felt too terrified of getting stuck and incurring the wrath of our leader, but our young investigated the exit: pole, ladder, slide!

We made it in time.

But allow me to show this intriguing poster too (seen on a theatre boat in Nymand Harbour): Quite a sequence of events there, all compressed into one sweet two hour slot! The jitterbug would, I imagine, be the dance.

Incredible drive over a 14 km bridge to Jutland. Impossible to do it credit by photo: particularly as I am the one non driver and therefore (voluntarily) confined to the back seat. But it is impressive.

And so to our new air bnb in Ribe, oldest town in ScandinaviaA delightful spot, on the Main Street but tucked away with river frontage. Everything supplied.

The main entertainment, for me, other than interacting with the family of course, has been watching a Bot lawn mower sadly working his way around the garden opposite (over the water) repeatedly running up and down one strip, never quite falling into the river. I even found myself waving at it, and rejoiced when today I found a mate for him.

This one appears to be having a dirty protest, sitting in a pool of long grass….

But back to Ribe – an ancient time with Viking origins. Rather like York but clean, not too crowded, lived in by regular citizens, and quiet as free from traffic for the most part.

The cost of alcohol, I suspect, keeps the evenings quiet with most people seeming to get their pleasures from the belgian waffle and ice cream shop –  where they even make and roll their own…… ice cream cones. Friday night saw a queue out of the door.

(This is the shop, still emitting the wonderful Smell of waffles but sadly closed when we arrived there on our last night.)

The town was a major seaport for many years and still has a quay with sea going boats, the sluice protecting the damn also containing locking facilities.  It’s very beautiful, particularly at night.

The prince and the really tiny mermaid

One of the highlights of our whole day in Copenhagen was booking a set of four push bikes, each individually named, and collecting them from a bike rack close to the apartment, all organised and paid for via an app. Each bike was named. Kbp was assigned Slytherin, R a 044, me a 59 whilst N opted for a Willie. The bikes unlocked via a Bluetooth connection on my phone and at the end of the 24 hour hire period (for £12.75) we left them locked but unsecured at a ‘hub’ less than 200m from the apartment.

The vivid orange grated at first, but it also acts as a sort of ‘here be tourists sign’ which gave us a degree of grace as we apparently flouted the danish cycling customs!

Copenhagen is a beautiful accessible city, with its colourful housing on the dockside:wonderful clean and free public toilets throughout. How about this for an old style door catch? And there was an attendant too in this subterranean convenience.

Its extremely tiny mermaid, sitting not in the middle of the harbour as I thought, but right on the edge. I had imagined an enormous statue centre field, something along the lines of the Statue of Liberty ….. but no.

What’s particularly intriguing is that she has legs too. Weird mermaid.

The botanic gardens are huge, free and lovely. The palm house in reps to, and a gallery around, the dome.

Some sample pics:

and attached to the palm house were

‘working green houses’ and cacti and succulent houses. Who knew that bananas grow like this?

Also – ideas for our new rockery – maybe using old grave stones WILL Work?

A perfect afternoon celebrated by kbp managing to keep cool (no worries, man) as two young men peered over at him whilst he ahem used the cubicle, and then, obviously under the influence of something, possibly a blunt (New word to me, look it up) bought on Pusher Street, accused Rob of stealing his cigarettes. It was a tense moment when we ‘engaged’ in convo, possibly exacerbating the situation, and clear imagined images of multiple stab wounds sprang to my over fevered imagination.

No matter. The young man reminded us gravely that we ‘are in Denmark. This is no place to have fun’.

Shame cos we did….. bikes to this bar in the dock:

Then working our way through the alcohol stocks… and playing cards.

Oh and the prince? We came across a small wooden motor yacht in the harbour. It had a red carpet and a police boat circling aimlessly about it, and a handful of people waiting languorously on the docks. It housed the crown prince on his 50th birthday. Can you imagine?

Rome or Moscow?

The fountain was inspiring. The triangular building intriguing: it’s a recycling plant that houses a playground and in winter also functions as a ski slope.

‘Hey man, that’s cool, no worries…..’

Having hit the big birthday (and having had the forethought to have two thoughtful children enough years ago) I find myself the lucky recipient of …. a trip to Denmark! Signalled as it was by these:

– very convincing 70s style flight tickets complete with bar codes etc – I’ve long been looking forward to the week.

The rest of the family shared my excitement:

…..for the most part……

Say no more.

But also notice how snazzy easyJet has gone with its film flam mezze with hummus and olives. Whatever next? Well our great surprise that the UK seems to be the ONLY European country without a sensible siesta period. Copenhagen was as quiet as anything when we arrived. Few cars on streets. Shops closed for the lunch period. How civilised. Almost like a bank holiday. Why can’t we Brits do anything like this?

And in the evening – a long procession of runners,

At times they were 15-20 deep so it was with much amusement we watched kbp sidestepping gaily to reach the other side. We laughed again as others did the same:

No mean feat. Well done!

The run was 10 k repeated in five cities around Denmark in honour of the Crown Prince’s birthday. Bands were out in support:

This one looked like something from Disney or Legoland. Boy were they good!

And so wandering round as you do, admiring the tradition demonstrated by the ads,

Impressed by the ingenuity that allows an ‘air hockey pitch’ like this:

we came across the free town of Christiana….. where, walking along the aptly named Pusherstreet, we saw massive blocks of cannabis on sale. Like huge!!! And ready rolled reefers.

We even found the pushers of the day:

Essentially this is a self supporting bohemian commune with its own rules existing in converted barracks in the centre of Copenhagen. Responses to this are, as you can imagine, varied with some locals outraged and others generally supportive.

We did find a lot of people ‘walking very slowly with vacant eyes’ as kbp put it, in the environs. All tables come with a lighter and large ashtray….

As we left, someone bumped into kbp spilling his drink over him: hey man, no worries, it’s cool responded kbp. Passive smoking at its best!

And so to our lovely apartment (air bnb)…. central, clean,……

and well stocked ….

Well my good friend, excellent running partner and cosmopolitan lady, Jan, warned me of alcohol prices in Copenhagen. £10 for a small beer, her husband, used to London prices, advised. Not far off Brian : £12.35 for this:

by the way: it wasn’t the Latin /Nordic fusion which caused the siesta. It was a bank holiday on the PROPER Whit Sunday, 7 weeks after Easter. Stupid us.

And back to Blighty.

Anticipating further itch and scratchiness following the previous night’s attack by the

Giant mosquito

I thoughtfully prepared my side of the bunk with the hallowed pot of Manuka honey/almond cream so effective on previous occasions, knowing I could apply this in the dark without disturbing my doughty companion. It wasn’t immediately effective so I praised the fact that we hadn’t changed the sheets, and proceeded to sandpaper my ankles lavishly with the remaining grit and sand on the bed. To no avail. I drew blood and continued ‘le frottage’ for some considerable time eventually falling into a fretful sleep, only to awake a very few hours later, before six, to rush to ablute. *

The view from close to the van was worth the early wakening.

And so to Auckland.

We’ve seen a lot of this flag. We don’t know what it is.

We heard there is a rugby competition going on. We looked at the driver.

It’s the Tonga flag.

Farewell van. You’ve been good to us.

Wilderness was expecting us back:

And gave us a lift to the airport. The driver was an Australian who decided two weeks ago to move to NZ, got the job on Monday, started yesterday (Thursday). Got us to the airport by google maps on iPhone. No immigration process for her – she just ticked that she intended to stay permanently on her entrance card. …..I wish….

Good to see one of the shops Keith was discussing earlier in the trip featured on the concourse:

How can we afford this (trip, not purchases from Shop), I ask myself. Partly by using the pension lump sum, and partly through savings. Maybe our general approach to spending has helped. I think we were the only ones with Home made butties in the airport!

So I splashed out on these: will they work? Homeopathic. Hmmmm. The lady in the shop (who knows she’ll never see me again) assures me they will.

And one final take home picture for New Zealand, a country I’ve loved like no other, and in many ways more than my own: the motto seems almost redundant here.

Kindness comes as standard. Will miss this country/these people so much.

*imagine my surprise this morning to discuss I had liberally applied (Keith’s **) hairgel.

** not

Father Christmas and the long goodbye.

There is such sweet tension between the beauty of last night’s sunset and the horror of being eaten alive, again, by mosquitoes.

(Random (but appropriate) photo to improve attractiveness of blog. Not)

Keith showed his true worth (actually worth more than this) by coming to the fore with this, a deceptively tedious booklet with untold qualities of strength and flexibility.

In short this manual helped us massacre scores of mosquitos, clearing the living area. We knew the bedroom was safe as we had thoughtfully closed both the curtain and the door thus making a barrier impenetrable to even the most persistent attacker. A sanctuary.

Not wanting to compromise this oasis of mosquito- free space, I tiptoed in using simply a flash of my iPhone torch to guide the way. I grabbed my night wear and slipped back round the curtains to the main body of the van.

Nothing would persuade us to allow the little £&@££)()& s to attack us in bed.

We crept in and under the covers to be almost deafened:


and so forth. The boudoir was thick with them. More attacks by Keith the Slayer, manfully swashbuckling away with his Wilderness manual in lieu of jewel encrusted sword.

Rather than taking clothes off for bed we put them on. Long sleeved shirt, leggings and socks in my case. A hot and itchy night as we weren’t able to open any windows. Serves us right for ‘freedom camping’ (read being imprisoned within one’s own accommodation) by the sea.

The view this morning was again glorious.

However we were minded to move on ASAP, full bladders and empty stomachs became an irrelevance.

Which was how we met Father Christmas in mufti. In short: we stopped at a cafe. The building was attractive.

The lady in charge offered to show us round upstairs. Then called Gary.

Gary Blick (which we know now is Black with an NZ pronunciation) * is, he says, happily divorced and pleasantly disconnected from his children. He has taken on the challenge of renovating this building, an old saddlers, and the grounds behind, to run as a backpackers’-hostel. A giant of a man he has built some huge bunk beds, and mezzanine double beds. A gentle giant he told us of his mother (94 and has eaten her way through the herd and the implements, now starting to eat the family farm, which father sold for many thousands of dollars, itself: his take on her nursing home fees); a friend who died of throat cancer; his plans for the hostel and the affection he has for his goat, currently eating his way through the scrub.

Asked if we could take a photo he dashed off saying he needed to change his shirt first:

This is with the preferred shirt.

Then he wanted to do his hair.

FC in mufti. He has the twinkly blue eyes too. He runs the Helenback backpackers hostel. Helenback? Yes. Spend a night there and you’ll have been to hell. And back. His opinion.

We spoke a couple of days ago about Hundertwasser, an Austrian artist who spent much of his life in North Island, New Zealand. He designed some toilets (remember he is the enemy of the straight line):

Outside the toilets.

Sign for ‘ladies’.

View from within toilet cubicle.

Changing table.

Commemorative plaque.

Life is different here:

Health and safety. Look at the people standing freely in the truck at the back of this train:

Oooo… they might fall over. Yes. That’s the risk they take. End of.

School children. The three living at tonight’s campsite (children of manager) came home at 2.40 today. All in bare feet. Not ‘carrying shoes’ bare feet, or nervously picking their way along bare feet. Just bare feet on a road with no litter, no dog fouling, and sensible traffic which slows to pass.

And jobs: most people seem to have more than one but this seemed an odd combination:

Cleaner and also qualified for drug screening?

The phone number reminds me – there is a system where numbers and letters are combined for phone calls. Eg: 0305 LAW for the lawyers.

I was tickled by the unambiguity of this septic tank emptier today:


And on that I’ll finish with a picture of our biggest impulse buy mistake this holiday:

Home tomorrow we need to ‘farewell the van’. ….

*wrong again. It actually is ‘Blick’. Will I ever get the hang of this?

Tsunami? What tsunami. And free viagra. The perfect holiday.

The curse/joy of camping, be it canvas or campervan, is that last minute thought as the light is turned off – ‘should I have gone for one last wee?’

I have recently heroically managed to quash this insistent little ear worm by asking myself: ‘can I hear a kiwi?’ And mentally repeating the call, male and female. Each gender calls for 12 calls exactly. The New Zealand way of counting sheep, and up until last night effective in not only supplanting bladder concerns but also promoting sleep.

Last night the tsunami struck. Of course it didn’t but the fear of the tsunami struck, which was, for me, last night, just as destructive. This is how it goes: gerroff gerroff gerroff gerroff gerroff gerroff gerroff gerroff ….. (female kiwi call, in my head). …. wonder if I’ll hear a kiwi, wonder if they’re round here, it’s quite flat and by the sea, wonder if they like it flat and by the sea. OMG! Flat and by the sea. And by New Zealand. We could have a tsunami….(we didn’t, which is why I’ve lived to tell the tale of the three strangers and free viagra).

Today is the tale of signs, mainly. The campsite, whilst lovely, was retro and the showers reminded me of school. I probably weigh two stone less than I did as a teenager, maybe more than that – I was plump – but I still don’t appreciate having a thin, small pvc curtain between me and the rest of the showerees, and particularly dislike having to dive into the central bench to retrieve clothes and modesty as there is no private changing area. So I rose and showered at 06.10. A man was launching a boat.

Along the road, there are high tech road repairs – the road had slipped down the hillside (this happens all the time). They may have been up to date enough to have traffic lights (with a working red/amber combo, not normally seen) but the technique of tamping the road surface down involved the men shuffling along in their boots. The laces weren’t tied.

Round here, public health uses rubbish bins to promote their anti drugs stance – how effective is this?

This sign, at Whangaroa, the infamous harbour where maoris massacred French soldiers (in response to atrocities carried out by them) is more explicit. Seems to involve a required action by the owner of any dog who passes a banana skin.

The harbour is the centre for ‘big game fishing’.

The club house is accordingly macho:

Tries to appeal to the softer side of the machos:

I’m not sure how much response this gets: (same notice board)

But at least they colour code the area where children will be safe with hopefully alcohol free carers:

Further round the Bay:

A plaque to be unveiled? Tempted to take cover off but resisted.

And what’s this? Not able to unwrap it but someone could not resist a sneaky peak (see bottom right)! *

Wild flowers beautiful once more:

The coffee was terrible, made from a packet, like cup-a- soup so a cafe in Manganoui touched the spot:


Manganoui is on the edge of Doubtless Bay so-called as Captain Cook marked that there would ‘doubtless’ be a Bay there (as opposed to Doubtful Sound in Fjordland (quo vadis)). A calm town with much history it still has a real sense of community. These children were having fishing lessons this afternoon.

The harbour lies protected by at least three ‘pas’, ancient Maori homeland /defensive settlement areas:

What a useful thing to learn – to feed yourself! Again some of the children were without shoes.

Watch out on the roads:

One sign advised us to slow down: children/kids. There were indeed children and young goats round the next corner.

And this:

This van collects wrecks:

Well named van : the vulture. Typical wreck?

Plans to find an early campsite and relax were abandoned as we heard tales of green, clear waters, dolphins and other marine marvels on the Karikari peninsula. It threatened rain:

And did rain:

Three heavily tattooed (Maori style) men came ashore with a large hessian sack. Various stories: ‘there’s a good market for these’, ‘we’ve got an event’, ‘it’s FTP (feed the people), man!!!’

In the sack were Kina, a kind of sea urchin, that the three had been diving for.

‘ better than viagra, man’ shouted one as he opened one for my husband. Husband stepped back – ‘each one of these like a whole BOX of viagra, man’ he continues. Husband recoils.

‘I hardly eat these but even so, I got seven children, man,’ the oyster harvester continues. At which point his mate gets out an extremely sharp knife and, pointing it towards his lower abdomen, forces open the spiny shell to reveal a gelatinous black mass with some lurking orange streaks.

‘Eat it, man!’ So inexplicably we did. Two intelligent adults, about to travel across the world and trying to protect their stomachs, knowingly ate they knew not what that had come from they knew not where, supplied by they knew not who. Trust me, I’m a doctor.

We ‘ate’ two and were given six more. We managed to persuade some fellow freedom campers to take these. Although the wife did not look pleased, it seemed to bring a spring to the husband’s demeanour.

Our tea? Clearing out fridge so we had that world famous, non PC dish referred to as ‘one eyed egyptians’.

With creamed corn, frozen spinach and salad. If we have gippy tummies tomorrow I’m sure, absolutely sure, it will be due to the kina!

And so to sunset :

So greatly enjoyed that we did not notice the mosquito invasion. 😦

Gannets and rainbows. Around Bay of Islands.

If there’s a word that accurately conveys the glowing whiteness of a gannet caught in the early morning light just prior to dive bombing for a fish, I don’t know it. But I hope you can picture it.

As I lay down last night, determinedly ‘not tired’ and determinedly accepting ‘lights out’ as I was going to listen for the kiwi call so ably enacted by the warden last night, I drifted rapidly off to the sound of waves and woke to rain and the panic cry of the ‘variable’ oyster catchers, a pair of which have been jealously guarding their young off spring (only one so is it offsprung?).

Vicious beaks.

No electricity, in fact no power on this site, so no need for a shower….quick breakfast and off we went on the 1hour tramp to the headland. It took nearly two.

View from trig point.

Random beautiful tree.

Boardwalk through swamp.

Heading further to the Bay of Islands (BoI), we paused to visit the (hang on while I look it up….) Ngaiotonga Scenic Reserve, the largest Reserve in the Bay of Islands Historic and Maritime Park, to search for the double bole Kauri tree. These trees grow up to 60m and were prized both for their use in waka (Maori boat) building but were also used to extract a gum used for varnish and for sticking in false teeth (appropriate).

Many of the trees have defects such as this at man height, remnants from the old practice of extracting gum, a process outlawed in 1905 – giving you an idea of how long these magnificent trees live.

Russell is a small but very touristy port in the midst of the BoI. A couple of highlights:

Old wooden pier with active passenger ferry service.

Voluntary radio service run by local fisherman volunteers. Everyone going out in a boat is encouraged to leave a ‘flight plan’ and the volunteers will ensure everyone is checked back in at the end of the day.

Fun local charter ship which channels all profits back into development of school children in the winter (bring your parrot! Peg legs welcome!).

Russell School: important presences and absences – all children without exception wear a blue hat, all staff members wear similar but white hat; absence of keep out signs and fences around school – I could easily have wandered in; a lot of the children were not wearing shoes! And it wasn’t PE.

Not great pics as I didn’t want to be caught taking pics of young kids at school.

Waitangi: in bold and underlined as it seems so important as it was here, on the west of the BoI that the Waitangi Treaty between the Maori tribes and the British government was signed in 1840. Of course it’s not that simple, many tribes did not sign, and others reluctantly, and the true intention of it was not clear. The site has the same atmosphere as Muir Woods in California (you’ll have to wiki this).

Elevated boardwalks lead from an enthralling museum to the carved whare or meeting house down to the memorial Waka, built at the suggestion of the Maori princess and launched in 1940 to commemorate the centenary of the treaty signing. The waka, Ngatokimatawhaorua, is 37m long, the main hull being constructed from one hollowed out Kauri tree.

The carvings and details are incredibly movingly beautiful. All different, hand carved and all symbolic.

This picture gives you an idea of the girth of one of these trees.

See small man in background? He is standing v close to the trunk, and is of normal stature. The boat takes 80 oarsmen and is used at least annually on the anniversary of the treaty signing.

Whoops! Forgot the Russell stocks.

This lady posed for her husband. I hoped mine would pose for me. Not keen. Lady proposed I pose, she would photo me. …. I felt, on balance, this was an adequate representation of the stocks!

And before our final smiles: the Rainbow Warrior memorial. Bombed at the behest of the French Government in 1985 as they objected to Greenpeace highlighting and trying to prevent French nuclear testing in the South Pacific, the Greenpeace boat the Rainbow Warrior was sunk, and a Portuguese photographer and campaigner was killed. The boat was sunk and the remains ultimately brought to waters in the BoI where now it is explored by divers.

A memorial has been erected at Matauri Bay, tonight’s campsite, where we have to make the difficult decision of gazing at the sea in front of or behind the van. Here is the memorial.

The marks on the rock indicate the site of the wreck.

It Lies this side of the tiny islands to the left of the headland.

Random thoughts:

Next to us tonight, a perfect example of a caravan being consumed into a shack. V common in NZ. Almost de riguer.

Interesting views prior to and on ferry:

Wild flower: black eyed Susan and (I think) impatiens.

ferry man (and woman). Man beckoned us on despite overhang from superstructure on boat which worried K. I reassured K nonchalantly that the ferry People knew what they were doing – then they looked anxious too.

Wildly imaginative names for chilled dog food:

And the aftermath of the cultural show at Waitangi – just regular Joes doing their job.

Two more days to go so using food up: pasta, spaghetti, dried peas, mixed frozen peppers and pasta sauce with grated cheese tonight. Bleuggghh. With wine. Better. 🙂

Waipu Cove to Puriri Bay,Whangaruru North Head Scenic Reserve, Northland, North Island.

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.