A Dark Day for the UK
A Dark Day for the UK.
We grieve from Zoonie for the loss of so many lives, adults and children, in Manchester and think of their families and friends in their pain and suffering. Good for the Mancunians providing their kindness and generosity by taking care of dazed children after the event. Where there is violence and tragedy somewhere there is also kindness and care.
From a young man with no future or love of young people to an old man with a universal love for children, Roger Moore. He was a gentleman English Actor who graced our screens for half a century and gave us a refreshingly different take on James Bond before himself taking up the cause of disadvantaged children. His final acting role was as ambassador to UNICEF. Heart throb of mine!
So for these two reasons our Union flag is flying gracefully at half-mast. Soon it may be in use for ‘Rugby Reasons’ as the Irish and Lions Tour is starting soon and we are going to the match here in Whangarei at the Toll Stadium to watch The Lions v The Barbarians. Bit excited about that!
I am pleased to report that Rob is now over his flu which had kept him below happy puppy level for around 10 days. He fitted the new cooker recently which required us to go to The Woodshed, a boat builders on the other side of the river, to find a thin piece of marine ply as the new cooker is a little narrower than the old one.
We squeezed through the doorway to find a fine naked hull of a very old sailing yacht being slowly restored. The young gentleman working in there told us she is Fern II and was built in 1899 at Shoreham Sussex, where my father worked at Metal Box for 16 years from 1953, and is constructed in teak and pitch pine. Apparently an American lady tried sailing her to Hawaii but abandoned her in Tonga where she lay for many years before being brought here for her rebuild.
One corner of the shed was full with her internal parts and the new wood including one massive timber which had grown in a natural curve, “That’s going to be her new stem” the young man said with pride. We won’t be around to see her relaunch, but that will be a proud day for her owners.
The weather recently has been sliding inexorably towards winter. Last Sunday night the temperature here dropped to freezing outside with a frost in the morning and in the saloon it was 2’ when I emerged from our nest. Daytime weather has been fine sunny days interspersed with depressions coming up from the southern ocean dumping lots of rain and forcing the birds to stay in the trees.
A Sniff of the famous.
Jordan Luck is a favourite New Zealand singer, a bit like Rod Stewart in looks and his appeal to women of all ages. The Butter Factory here managed to get him to come and perform for one night and we went online for the tickets. We had good seats, on high stools by the mixer deck and were absorbed by the two previous groups when I smelled cigarette smoke in close proximity. Hmm, guess it’s not illegal to smoke in public here. “He’s standing right next to you,” Rob whispered in my ear. Never really know what to do when sharing the same few square metres with someone famous like Jimmy Carter, Dave Allen, Sir Ian McKellen, Princess Anne and now Jordan Luck but I managed a smile and “Hi” as he puffed away in preparation for his performance.
Towards the end of the concert many folk were tiddled and becoming lively so we slipped out just before the rest fell onto the streets.
Most yachts who are heading north for the season have left and Ke Ama II left the next morning before the condensation had dried off our windows and mist still hung in the valleys beside the river. She is a 70+foot beauty and is skippered by the fiancée of Naylene who used to sail on her and now works in the office. She is under sail and for sale at $3.5 million and we watched her video promoting the sale. Much was filmed from a helicopter while she was in Vanuatu last year and she really is luxurious on the inside and beautiful outside.
In the evenings we have been watching films and tv series including ‘Victoria’, ‘The Hateful Eight’ (I wonder if it’s a sequel to The Magnificent Seven, it was a bloodthirsty film and the 8 main characters lived up to their adjectives!) We are getting near the end of Billions at the moment, Damien Lewis being a naughty boy with Hedge Funds, and it is coming to a neat conclusion.
The Kentuckian with Burt Lancaster, The Gunfighter with Gregory Peck (another minor heartthrob) and The Butler, an amazing story of the life of a Butler in the White House have also helped fill our long dark evenings.
Every six months here a car has to go through a WoF (warrant of fitness) test and Vicky failed her test at the Govt WoF workshop. Two bulbs and a slightly frayed driver’s seat belt seemed easy enough to cure. Oh no, not so. Fords (and this lot are definitely of the Frauds breed) located a second hand seat belt, a new one would have been over $1000, and we waited for over two hours while they supposedly replaced our present one. $541 later for removing a seatbelt, we got back in the car to move off and Rob said with a desperate tone, “This is the original seat belt!!” That’s a pretty big bill for not doing a job don’t you think. The mechanic had failed to tell the guy in reception that the replacement was in worse condition than the original.
Well, reception guy refunded our money and the mechanic then removed our seatbelt to send it to Auckland to have it re-webbed. That removal took another one and a half hours so we went for a wander and found a delightful little Indian restaurant in the industrial part of Whangarei called the Divine and had a tasty small portion of curry each.
We then took Vicky, or she took us, to Auto-Tech to have the airbag warning light replaced. Oooh a real can of worms there. As soon as it worked it showed up 6 other faults to do with the airbags. It transpires the Control Module that allows the airbags to function was at fault and the airbags are fine. We smelled a rat. Possibly the last owner knew that the faults would not show up if the seatbelt was in place and the air bag warning light not working.
A new Control Module will be $1000 so we have feelers out for a second hand one of those including with our friend Stein in Norway where he says Volvo parts are cheap. Fingers crossed. As a very last resort we reason that the cost of a new one is probably equivalent to a month car rental and as we need wheels we feel the cost is the value of being mobile.
Recently we had the good fortune to have a Norwegian yacht alongside us, Lovinda Too. Sven, Irene and their friend Hans come from the Stavanger part of Norway and are typical warm and friendly people. We spent enjoyable evenings on eachothers’ floating homes, including Hans birthday supper on Zoonie complete with cake and black skull and crossbones candles, they seemed appropriate.
Last year Lovinda was on her way to Australia across the Tasman Sea with Sven and Hans aboard when something mighty and mechanical snapped off her rudder. (A Russian sub was apparently in the area at the time). Sven phoned Irene in Norway who contacted the coastguard who in turn instigated a rescue.
A Chinese ship picked them up and their yacht insurers, the same as ours, contacted their agent out here, again the same guy who has been so helpful to us too. He contacted a local fisherman who went and towed Lovinda in to Marsden and on up the river where she has spent a year on the hard. A new rudder was fabricated in Sweden and shipped out here and she joined us just after she was re-launched.
Two days before they were due to leave they asked us if we would like to join them on a trip to the Kauri Museum and as you know how fond of trees I am you will understand we jumped at the chance.
Rob drove and I sat in the back between Hans and Irene for the pretty drive through unfamiliar countryside. This is a museum of world standard and it is vast. The physical and photographic history of rural New Zealand from the early settlers to the present day.
It’s hard to know where to begin and the photos largely speak for themselves but what was new to me was Kauri Gum, like amber that was mined and exported for countless uses. One photo shows Kauri Hair which is warm gum spun into lovely blond hair. I am not sure but I guess the process was a little like spinning candy floss and maybe it was worn as a hair piece.
There was a whole gum room full with collections and ornaments and jewellery all made out of gum. That was impressive. Kauri gum was in the ground for the finding but some foresters bled the trees until they died which soon became a frowned upon activity. There is no demand for gum now and ironically although the ground gum has been mined to 12 feet down there is much more at lower depths.
There were real kauri logs, one photo shows Rob standing infront of one to give an idea of scale and in the sawmill the colossal saw blades required to cut the trees were in working order and nodding up and down like engine pistons, the only difference from when they worked in the industry was the logs did not move forward through the blades as they cut so it was a constant display. Only the giant Californian redwoods, the Sequoias of South West North America are bigger.
As you know I am the proud owner of kauri salad servers that are 43,000 years old, well they are made from bog kauri which first came to light, literally, as the boggy land was drained for the purpose of dairy farming. As the land shrank down so the logs emerged. But even more impressive than this, in the museum is a sheet of kauri that looks like wood but is in fact fossilised wood over 30,000,000 years old. Now that’s old.