I had the pleasure of being on the South Island for the Christmas and New Year period and was surprised to find an open-air, free-to-attend Carol concert on Christmas Eve just outside Christchurch’s Transitional Cathedral (transitional as the original stone one was destroyed in the 2011 earthquake).
It was the 68th YMCA event…and there wasn’t a member of the Village People (or even a lookalike) in sight!
Quite entertaining…although I will be honest…I would probably not have gone if it were not for my wife!
Do take a look at the photo of the white chairs…there are 185 of them in all shapes and sizes (including baby seats and wheelchairs) just opposite the transitional cathedral in honour of those who died in 2011. Quite a poignant tribute.
The islands just off the coast of New Zealand are havens for native species which stand on the brink of extinction (certainly endangerment) in many cases. They have been cleared of mammalian pests and have enabled native reptile and bird species to be introduced and have a chance.
In the Hauraki Gulf, to the East of Waiheke Island, likes a small but perfectly formed island, Rotoroa Island.
This island is held under trust and was formerly used by the Salvation Army for recovering alcoholics. Now it is being used to introduce a variety of species and Auckland Zoo is managing this.
I had the privilege of heading over there with the zoo to do some voluntary work in weeding the enclosure of the moko skinks. They need an enclosure as weka (a type of bird) wander the island and would eat them if given the chance…but removing one successful native species for another is not an option really.
I didn’t see any skinks (I guess they didn’t appreciate our being in their home) but I did see a beautiful island with a wonderful chance of success. Time will tell.
There are not many times in life when you really step out of your comfort zone and try something new. I was slightly embarrassed a few months prior to find out that I did not fancy snorkelling if I couldn’t stand up which rather defeats the object.
So, I decided to try to get over it by doing a Shark Dive Xtreme at Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium in Auckland…not only going in a tank with sharks (not man-eaters) but also wearing an oxygen tank which I had not done before.
After a pretty scary practice session involving trying to breathe (!!), equalise, clear your mask, clear your respirator of water and get your respirator back if you lose it…we then abseiled into the tank. The staff were brilliant.
It certainly wasn’t easy but what an awesome experience to be in there with such magnificent creatures!
What if you could choose a new national flag? What would you choose? What are the current flags based on? Does anyone even remember? Does anyone even care?
According to Wikipedia (the uber-reliable source of all taken-with-a-pinch-of-salt knowledge) the Union flag of the UK has the red cross of St George for England, the white saltire of St Andrew for Scotland and the red saltire of St Patrick for Ireland. Wales is not directly represented as it was a part of the former Kingdom of England.
In New Zealand, the Union flag of the UK is represented to the top left of the design along with four red stars of the southern cross (Australia has five white stars of the southern cross – just to differentiate the two).
New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, has been campaigning for a new flag for some time to help build New Zealand’s international brand and perhaps better define the culture of the nation (he even rather bizarrely suggested that the national flag should be similar to that of the All Blacks rugby team!). Anyway, Kiwis are being asked to do 2 things…first a referendum to choose a preferred alternative flag design (by ranking the options)…and secondly a referendum to decide whether to go with the selected design from the first referendum or to keep the existing UK-based flag.
See what you think of the 5 options by clicking here…for me, 4 of them feel a bit like clip-art that no-one could ever hope to draw for themselves. Indeed, the one with the red triangle (entitled “Red Peak”) was only added to an original 4 options after overwhelming public support (you have to love a politician squirming as they are forced to change their minds). I kind of hope that the government just waste their millions of dollars and end up with the original flag – just to prove a point…but then…I am a tad biased and think that history is fundamentally important to the 100% migrant population of New Zealand and I also don’t get a vote!
In round one of the vote the Silver Fern (Black, White & Blue) design was selected as the preferred choice. Less than half the population voted and this one was selected because it got the most highly ranked votes – not the most first places.
Happy New Year to you!
I was thinking about how we all probably know someone who likes nothing better than to proclaim (sometimes drunkenly) each new year about how they are resolving to be different and improve themselves…instead of just accepting that maybe they are decent enough to start with, are incredibly lazy and should be quiet, enjoy expending hot air and really just want attention, or that no-one actually really cares if they are improving themselves anyway and therefore they should just get on with it in private and spare us all the detail.
Having said all of that, I just thought I would enlighten you to how I have been making a point of doing more exercise since I stopped working (and the physical nature of voluntary work has certainly helped)…namely trying to do sit ups, press ups, cycling, walking and running (with a bit of swimming in the sea when the weather warms up)…so far so good although the running is tough…but at least NZ has the climate to make me feel like going outdoors to do it. It doesn’t have to take too long but the hardest part is trying to make it a habit so that it doesn’t feel like an effort. When you get past the age of 25 things start to ache and I am well past that milestone – so mind over matter can be important too.
I asked fitness expert Nemo for tips on making running easier, one suggestion was wall sitting. When I looked this up and tried it, I discovered it was even harder than running itself. I will persevere and perhaps will append notes on performance milestones in the future…except that it is highly likely you are all thinking (in the event you read this) that I am just expending hot air!
The photo below is a (used previously) “before” shot…maybe one day there will be an “after” shot to show you, although the main aim is to feel better…not look better!