Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Didn't take too long 'fore I found out what people mean by down and out (Led Zeppelin)

Real books and real sounds from my stereo. It's so good to see you both again. I've missed you, so much.

Reading ebooks is okay but only when you don't have access to the real thing. Listening to an ipod dock is okay but only when you don't have access to the real thing.

It feels like we're on a holiday of sorts (a holiday in limbo land) as we wait to see where the maple leaf is heading next. During my holidays I often get a hankering for reading a Stephen King novel so I visited the Waipawa Community Library.

Reading books from a library is a pleasure I've enjoyed since I was a wee nipper living at 18 Korma Ave., in Royal Oak, Auckland with mum and dad and Ross.

First library mum ever took me to was down the road in Onehunga.

The Carnegie Free Library in Princes Street had been opened in 1912. Apparently, it was one of eighteen in New Zealand built with funds from the American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.

It was a grand building with a large entrance way with a decorative crest and it felt like I was entering a secret Roman Temple.

It was amazing; you could borrow a book to read! You didn't HAVE to buy the book in a shop. You could go to this building and they would let you walk out with a book without any payment. Crazy and amazing. Try getting that idea off the ground these days!!


It's no longer a library but I'm happy to know that it still exists in Princes Street even if it is now a restaurant.

The Waipawa library isn't so imposing. Libraries are noisier places these days (they even have a radio playing fer goodness sake). Seems the place is a de facto youth centre come after school drop off zone but the Waipawa book stock is fantastic so I can put up with noisy teens playing games on the computers (what a world we live in huh).

I found two books by Mr King that I had never seen before: Duma Key and 11.22.63

I'm nearly done with Duma Key. So far so Stephen King (weird dolls, zombies, a narrator with mysterious powers, all set in a backwater town in Florida called Duma Key). Perfect for a holiday escape.

Love and peace - Wozza

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I thank the Lord for the people I have found (Reg Dwight)

Where are we now? You ask.

SWMBO and I have just returned from our trip across the north island from Hawke's Bay to Taranaki. Otane to New Plymouth actually.

Along the way we stopped off to check out what DLG (a.k.a. Jade) was up to in Palmerston North before setting up camp with the outlaws in New Plymouth (Mabelle and Gavey babe).

We found time to also enjoy the company of other whanau members during our tour of the central provinces (Raewyn, Paul and Jacoba). We intended to call in on Eric and Jeanette in Stratford until Eric rang me and asked why we weren't home! They were in Otane while we were in Nu Plimff. Crazy. We also wanted to catch up with Graysy and Jansy in Palmy but ran out of time on't way home.

Like Elton in the song quoted above (Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters) I have found some great people.

Nu Plimff was resplendent in sun and blue skies. While I was there Mabelle introduced me to Vinyl Countdown. Great store for cheap (and good) vinyl as well as CDs T shirts and more.

I came away with four albums and two CDs for 22 bucks. Score!

1972/1973 are my coming of age rock and roll years. They continue to have such a solid hold on me. A check of my purchases showed that three of the six items came out in those stellar years: The Guess Who - Artificial Paradise (vinyl); American Flyer (vinyl); and Gentle Giant - Octopus (CD).

I snapped up the American Flyer album for $2. Fantastic. When I picked up the sleeve from the rack I noticed a sticker on the front cover indicating where the album was originally bought in 1972. My first thought was 'What wally puts their business sticker on the front cover of an album??'

Then I took a closer look. It read 'Smiths Radio and TV Ltd' (sic). Under that sober title it listed what the store belonging to Smith sold: Hi Fi - Colour TV - Video - Records - Tapes.

Hmm I thought. Nu Plimff. Smith. TVs etc.

My father-in-law is, as you'll all no doubt recall, Brian Smith. The Smith family had owned a radio and TV shop in NP for many years, including the pivotal seminal 1972. Could this be a long lost artifact from Brian's long ago emporium?

It could, and it was (confirmed by SWMBO and Mabelle who both recognised the silver sticker) and I felt quite chuft.

Funny ole world innit?

Love and peace - Wozza

Thursday, February 14, 2013

With the strength of a new day dawning and the beautiful sun (Uriah Heep)

A catch up post for y'all this time out. I get way out of routine when I'm travelling. This one comes to you live from the A.R.T. Room (Abbey Road Two).

We are back in Otane at the old homestead (a.k.a. Red Phoenix Farm, also called Southfork by Jan of Al Ain) at present.

The place is parched at present. The grass has all been burnt off by the baking sun with no real prospect of rain anytime soon. By comparison, my weather guide on the computer tells me it's 4 degrees and raining in Wuxi today. Funny old world innit?

Loads has been happening recently: we were on Waiheke until this week while SWMBO had her MRI (results yesterday were fantastic and such a relief after a long period of agonising) where we spent time with Keegan and Margo/Clayto; flew to Napier on Monday and went to see Jade (and Tango) in Palmerston North yesterday. 

A new day dawning (who'd a thought Uriah Heep would provide the very appropriate post title - from July Morning if you were wondering - you know you were).

We have a visit to Taranaki lined up for the near future as we await instructions about a return to Wuxi (we had a one way way ticket home as there is a suggestion there may be changes afoot in Wuxi). All a tad unsettling but we are enjoying the beautiful sun and heat in Nu Zild while we can.

Love and peace - Wozza

P.S. My pictures are still not loading so I'll have to resort to Facebook again.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

To hear much, pick out the good and follow it; to see much and think it over; this comes next to wisdom (Confucius)

Time and place are weird things, are they not.

One day we are riding our non electric bicycles to the Wuxi ecological park in a brisk 7 degrees to wander through a sea of bamboo and gardens, then a few days later we are strolling along a beach on Waiheke Island in 28 degrees admiring the hibiscus and the fading pohutakawa blossoms (we are staying with SWMBO's dad and his friend Florine before heading to the provinces).

Funny how fast the body adapts too. Layers and warmth have been replaced by sun hats, shorts and t shirts. Our only difficulty has been (not) sleeping through humid hot sticky nights. Windows closed because of the Wuxi cold have been replaced by windows closed because of the Waiheke mosquito brigades.

A few stark contrasts, apart from the obvious summer replacing winter, are bound to be present as we adjust to NZ again.

Car horns have been replaced by the swoosh of waves and birdsong (no sighting of tuis yet though), pedestrian savvy slow cars and traffic in China have been replaced by fast reckless drivers on Waiheke (even if they use their indicators), slim people have been replaced by the overweight, being regarded with amusement (crazy foreigners) has gone because we now merge with the other crazy foreigners, food market shelves have far less mystery, recycling at the gate has replaced people combing the garbage for cardboard, plastics and bottles in the car park, the number of smokers has dramatically reduced (they look so sad and pathetic here - skulkers in the shadows).

And, of course, some things are constant: everyone has a cell phone glued to their heads.

Love and peace - Wozza

P.S. So good being back on the fantastic blogger site.    

Saturday, February 2, 2013

You know the last plane out of Sydney's almost gone (Cold Chisel)

Boo hiss, boo hiss, boo hiss to Sydney airport. What an unhelpful place. Avoid Sydney Airport if at all possible!!

Yes there were delays for the lightning strikes and atrocious weather over the city and yes that created airport chaos but our China Eastern flight was only delayed leaving Shanghai by 30 minutes. That meant we reached Sydney airport with an hour to go before our connecting Air New Zealand flight to Auckland. We went to the transfer desk (hidden away – not helpful) and were told the gate closes an hour before boarding so we had to rebook a later flight. Our bags were on board the Air NZ flight and had to be taken off. Jerks!

I asked and asked and was told that our bags would be fine. Yeah right.

A Qantas plane was blocking the Air NZ plane at its scheduled gate and we were told that it would take an hour plus to solve the problem and refuel our plane. We went for coffees and had the pleasure of being served by a rude Australian girl. She didn’t appreciate SWMBO taking some time to consider the food on display and walked away from us. Unhelpful.

Meanwhile, some bright spark had the genius idea of changing our gate rather than remove the offending Qantas plane so we all (some refugees from the China Eastern plane and a whole swag of kiwis) moved to a new gate and…waited.

Then the lightning arrived and the fun really started. The danger of lightning is not to the planes but to the workers. They are not allowed to work on the tarmac while the lightning beacon (a blue strobe light) kicks in, so our Air NZ flight was further delayed.

Did I mention that I’m a nervous flyer? And that I’ve been showing air crash investigation videos to my aviation English students? Oh? I have?

Lightning, planes, poor communications, aussies. The odds weren’t looking too good.

We knew the latest ferry to Waiheke was at 11.45pm. We thought, back in Wuxi, that it would be a smooth journey but we hadn’t counted on Sydney’s idiots.

We finally got into Auckland at 9.45pm only to find that Sydney airport’s crack staff had left one of our bags off the plane. Unhelpful!

Air NZ, btw, were TERRIFIC. Fantastic service on the plane, great communication from the captain and the head of the cabin attendants, and extremely helpful when we reported the missing bag at Auckland airport. The NZ customs men were good natured and friendly (in direct contrast to the aussie bully boys at Sydney) and considerate.

We got a shuttle to the downtown ferry building and made the 11.45 with two minutes to spare.
In all it had been a journey of three days, spread over two months; a taxi, a train, a bus ride, a plane, a plane, a shuttle, a ferry, a car and we were on Waiheke.

Today has been sunny and hot – sunhats and slight pinkness, a trumpet iced cream and a walk along the beach. Surreal dude!

Oh and Air NZ have just rung – they have our bag and will get it to us on the island tomorrow. YEH – Air NZ!!!!!!!!!!!!

Love and peace (but really reluctantly to the boffins at Sydney Airport) – Wozza