From Upover to Downunder and Back Again...

August-September 2007 From time to time some of us are let out from under our dank, stone bridges and let fly about the mundane planes. Sometimes we stop and linger here and there to smell beverages, taste the air or even buy souvenirs like plush toys, placemats or fudge. Although, fudge makes a poor souvenir since it never seems to make it home. The original plan was to go to Leeds in what used to be called Yorkshire. We didn't go so far astray because they reorganised the British counties (although it certainly didn't help... I'm pretty old fashioned in some ways). A trip downunder to New Zealand and Australia may have been our second choice (well third choice actually) but it could never be something to regret. I am reasonably convinced that people are pretty much the same, kind, helpful, wonderfully eccentric, generous and hospitable just about everywhere, but damn... some of them certainly do talk funny!

Up Near the Top of Wellington, NZ

Wellington, it seems, was named for the Iron Duke and had nothing to do with all those sheep. The city is built on a cliff. Not the top of a cliff or the bottom of a cliff. It is built on the face of a cliff... well several cliffs actually. Everyone has thighs the size of planets because wherever you go it's somehow uphill going and uphill coming back.

Eyelashes are particularly useful because the wind likes to blow as hard as it can as much as it can... So tie your hat down and don't forget your eyelashes.

If you want to get away from thousands of cars parked with their engines running, noxious fumes and the need to stress about how stressed you are... If you want to spend the rest of your life painting in watercolours, eating in cafés that manage to be down to earth and stylish at the same time, eating "hokey pokey", and sleeping through the night, this could be the place for you. In the end, walking uphill is good for us, but before you go ask yourself this: "How much do I love rugby?"

L-R: Rob, Sue, Robin, Jeremy. Photo: S.MacLeod © 2007

Toe Dipping (Wellington)

It is my habit to 'dip my toes' in bodies of water as I come to them for the first time. The Cook Strait at Wellington is not technically the Antarctic Ocean, but it's damned close, and it's August!

On the bright side, the severe swelling I had in my feet went down after this. Then we went for ice cream.

Photo: S.MacLeod ©2007

The Cook Strait (Wellington)

I can just see the early explorers (James Cook Maybe?) coming here for the first time and saying 'this looks like a good spot for a port. This is August, the dead of winter, and Antarctica is 'just over the horizon' well... it seems that way from the wind and water temperatures... I almost got blown off my feet here, and that's remarkable considering my considerable inertia and aerodynamic profile.

You might be able to make out South Island.

Photo: R.Crossby ©2007

Once Stood the Last Homely House... (Kaitoke Park)

We drove back from Wellington via Isengard and Rivendel, which sounds like confused geography, but there is one place on earth where you can do it.

My wife always used to play an elf named Silmariel so she felt right at home under the trees of Imladris. I don't remember seeing those treeferns in the films, though...

Photo: R.Crossby ©2007

Matamata Toilet

Matamata is famous for throughbred horses, but there is one very famous sheep farm.

This is why I travel... to find eccentric stuff like this. Here we are provided with a toilet seat, but are admonished not to stand thereon. Apparently the park services people of Matamata have a problem with people standing on toilet seats. I can think of only two reason why one would want to stand on the toilet seat: (1) to comit suicide by diving headfirst into the floor; (2) to escape a flood (3) *three* reasons... anyway... it's a problem apparently. Nice place Matamata.

Photo: R.Crossby ©2007

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