I figure, dear Reader, that you may be ready for a tour around some other locations in the world, so let’s head off to the USA in the coming weeks. Hope you enjoy.
There are probably not many places you would list out as being truly memorable but Yosemite in California is, for me, somewhere everyone should see. If you have never been to America, the vastness of the landscapes is hard to appreciate.
Approaching from the South and heading for a lookout up Glacier Point, I almost drove the car off the road when I saw the view. It is awe-inspiring. And even when you get into the valley, despite lots of amenities, you would be forgiven for thinking that just maybe you have found a little personal paradise. Gorgeous. But why listen to me? Just feast your eyes…
I was asked a little while back “are people in the UK more environmentally aware than in New Zealand?” and at the time I think I said “not really, if anything there are more ignorant folk in the UK simply because of the size of the population”…or words to that effect.
I have reflected on the question again of late because New Zealand does like to market itself as a green paradise, unspoilt and giving you the chance to get close to nature but I think that everyone should know a few things…
- New Zealand uses a lot of clean geothermal power and thus does not burn huge amounts of fossil fuels such as, for example, Australia. GOOD.
- New Zealand homes are very poorly insulated and most do not have double-glazing. BAD.
- New Zealand homes do not often have solar panels (and many have wood burning stoves). BAD.
- New Zealand’s reliance on agriculture leads to high emissions issues from…cows. But they are apparently introducing dung beetles to try to mitigate that issue. BAD but GOOD.
- Much like other countries, New Zealand has a recycling scheme for certain types of rubbish. GOOD.
- New Zealand’s record on conservation is chequered. While there are many initiatives to applaud in trying to preserve endangered flora and fauna (often due to the goodwill of individuals), there are also dubious decisions made and actions taken (including by the Government and the Department of Conservation) which perhaps do not support the words used. MIXED.
- There seem to be a high proportion of gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs here. BAD.
- They are manufacturing petrol from a by-product of the brewing of beer. GOOD. Drink up!
- Let’s face it, the main reason that New Zealand appears so green and unspoilt is because of one very simple thing…THERE AREN’T THAT MANY PEOPLE! As population grows in future, challenges will undoubtedly surface.
So is it really better than other countries…some for sure, but there is an awfully long way to go to be the paragon of virtue which the tourism industry would like to have you believe in.
There can’t be many sounds as linked to summer in this part of the world (and others too) as the rhythmic sound of the male cicada sending out its rather loud mating call. They are incredibly noisy at times, and yet it almost seems like background noise in that it doesn’t seem to interfere with life.
You find them in all sorts of places singing their song…but they rarely seem to hang around for long enough so you can get a decent photograph. I think that as soon as they know they have been spotted, they tend to go quiet and move on. Typical!
There are apparently 42 unique species and subspecies of cicada in New Zealand, populating all manner of landscapes. Their lifecycle is pretty fascinating, eggs being laid on plants above ground, the nymphs then digging into the ground where they spend the majority of their lives growing before then emerging to mate and lay eggs and the cycle begins again.
They have 4 wings, 6 legs and big eyes (all the better to see you with!) and can grow pretty large.
I think in many ways they are a marvel of nature. I really like them…I imagine some folk don’t. Some of my favourite photos I managed are below…
I recently visited the Auckland War Memorial Museum which sits atop the Auckland Domain (one of the many volcanic craters in the city). It is a beautiful edifice with a genuinely lovely space where those who served in battle are commemorated. As I was on my own and in no rush to move along, I had time to ponder something…namely the words on the war memorial which stands outside the museum (shown above).
Both of my grandfathers fought in WW2 and thankfully survived (else I wouldn’t be here!), and it is interesting that one of them never talked about his experiences in Africa, while the other wrote about his time in the Merchant Navy in his memoirs (but never really delved into aspects of this in detail) including how he was torpedoed several times! I get the impression that perhaps they were glad to survive and would rather have forgotten the harsh realities of war in the main. To them, and to others like them, we owe a debt of thanks that Hitler was not able to succeed.
It occurred to me, however, that those three words – “The Glorious Dead” – raise a lot of questions…
- Where is the glory in death exactly?
- Is giving up your life heroic?
- Would anyone sign up to be a soldier if it wasn’t a celebrated choice?
- Isn’t war a savage experience which demonstrates the very worst qualities that the blood-thirsty human race has to offer?
- Are there genuine acts of selfless kindness during war which should be celebrated the most?
- Should we remember the reasons we stepped into war time and time again so as to avoid it in future instead of continually making the same mistakes?
- What if those who would commit a nation to war had to serve on the frontline?
- Is a neutral country truly neutral or do they benefit from the suffering around them?
- Does it take many lives lost to make it horrific or is just one enough?
- Will rich countries ever stop trying to take advantage of poor ones?
- In a time when the media bombards you with information, who is to be believed? Is it your own side or the opponent? It seems rather naive to assume that you are being fed the truth and not propaganda at times.
- Will our society ever be able to ostracise those individuals who would abuse power?
- Can religion serve as a medium of good instead of being twisted to evil ends?
- Can we ever justifiably call ourselves civilised by working together as one rather than against each other?
On an associated note, I was recently in Stratford in Taranaki and saw their Hall of Remembrance. Everyone who had died in WW1 or WW2 had their photograph and a note about where and how they died…far more poignant than a list of names which you usually see and really emphasises the horror, especially in a small rural town. Congratulations to the town on this remarkable insight. May these people’s sacrifice be remembered.
I don’t have the answers and I don’t expect it will change in my lifetime. But here is hoping that maybe one day we can achieve enlightenment and perhaps celebrate those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for showing us the way to be the glorious living.
I am not usually in the business of offending people but I have been watching a bit of classic British comedy by the likes of Les Dawson recently on YouTube and reading some of his old jokes on the web…back from when Mother-in-Law jokes were still in fashion…and I thought I would share some of them with you…
- I upset the wife’s mother the other Guy Fawkes Night. I fell off the fire.
When my mother-in-law stands in the nude she looks like a wall of whitewash. She’s so fat she had to lose weight to model maternity frocks.
I saw six men kicking and punching the mother-in-law. My neighbour said ‘Are you going to help?’ I said ‘No, Six should be enough.’
I wouldn’t say the room was small but when I talked to myself, one of us had to step outside to reply.
I can always tell when the mother in law’s coming to stay; the mice throw themselves on the traps.
The wife’s Mother said, “When you’re dead, I’ll dance on your grave.” I said: “Good, I’m being buried at sea.”
I took my mother-in-law to Madame Tussard’s Chamber of Horrors, and one of the attendants said, ‘Keep her moving sir, we’re stock-taking’
- I haven’t spoken to my mother-in-law for two years. We haven’t quarrelled, I just don’t like to interrupt her.
- I wouldn’t say the mother-in-law was loud but the parrot has gone deaf.
I wish at times that society wasn’t quite so politically correct and we could still laugh at anything…just as long as we are equally happy to laugh at ourselves.