Monday, February 1, 2016

A Week in Kiwi Land

It feels like too long since I visited my second home, so I took a (sadly far-too) brief trip back to New Zealand. Of course, The Weevil took me running every day.

The Weevil atop Johnston Hill
Wellington from Johnston Hill
We found a new cafe on the sheltered part of the waterfront, so, naturally, we had to try it out. It passed the test.
The Weevil at Karaka Cafe
Look, no wind!
Wellington waterfront
A pint at Macs
And a nightcap at home
We played at being ladies at Martha's Pantry where we had afternoon tea. The menu included traditional corned beef, pickle and egg club sandwiches, cheese crostini with salmon mousse, cucmber dainty with cream cheese and fresh mint, savoury tart filled with onion jam, blue cheese and parsley, traditional scones served with raspberry jam, passionfruit curd and cream, chocolate praline and strawberry tart, and mini macarons and cupcakes. And tea.

This sculpture sits in the newly created Pukeahu National War Memorial Park. It is the Australian Memorial located across a bridge (called ANZAC Square) over State Highway 1, opposite the National War Memorial.

Designed by Australian architects Tonkin Zulaikha Greer, it commemorates the long and close relationship between the people of Australia and New Zealand. The red sandstone columns represent the heart of Australia, while the bands of grey stone in between symbolise the New Zealand landscape, with the interweaving serving as a perpetual reminder of the united destiny of the two nations.

The central column is inscribed with the word 'ANZAC'; the black granite insets feature the names of the theatres of operations in which Australians and New Zealanders have served alongside each other; the seven other columns are decorated with the artwork of the nations' first peoples. 

On a bleak and windy afternoon, it didn't seem a particularly welcoming place in which to pay one's respects, or even a sensible use of resources, but hopefully with time, familiarity and better weather, it might look more appealing.

The Australian Memorial
We visited a fair few pubs and breweries (of which more later), but we also had excursions to cinemas, theatres, cafes and restaurants, catching up with friends to indulge in food, conversation and cultural activities.
Sight for Sore Eyes at Monsoon Poon
Bad Fairy
The Weevil, Bad Fairy and Sight for Sore Eyes
Bad Fairy and me with a Fresh Prince at The Library (yes, that's a bar and, yes, that's a cocktail)
Bad Fairy works at New Zealand Government House (not as a guide, I hasten to add), and she very kindly gave us a personalised tour. It was excellent including nuggets of insightful information - my favourite being, 'There's a story about that, but I can't remember what it is'. That being said, she does know an awful lot about the place and generously shared her time and knowledge with us.

New Zealand Government House
The Main Hallway
That beautiful rich red carpet takes its colour from the flowers of the pohutukawa and rata trees. There is a wide range of New Zealand art lining the walls, and gifts presented to the Governors-General by foreign dignitaries and Heads of State are displayed in the cabinets. I asked if they ever re-gift: apparently not.

The tapestry chairs in the hallway (and the smaller dining room) were a project started by Lady Freyberg in the 1950s for the upcoming visit of King George VI. The design on the back of each chair is a coat of arms of a New Zealand town or borough and was embroidered by groups of people in each location. Sadly the King died before he could make the visit, but the chairs are still a hot topic of conversation, with several guests apparently looking for 'their' chair on which to sit.

In the Fitzroy Room
Norrie State Dining Room
I love the portraits of the walls of kings and queens (and Oliver Cromwell), the tapestry chairs and the chandelier featuring candles to give the room an old-fashioned glow at dinner. The Spanish galleon was presented by King Juan Carlos of Spain when he stayed in the house in 1989.

The Liverpool Room
The Weevil and I liked the Blundell and Porritt rooms best, and decided we could be happy living here. The ceiling is beautiful; the colours are calming and the area is spacious. This is where Prince George had his highly-photographed playdate, and that carpet is handtufted and deliciously deep, allowing for it to be 'mowed' - when required, the top layer can be shorn off to expose the fresh carpet beneath.
The Blundell and Porritt rooms
In 1951 Lady Freyberg said she loved living in the house but regretted that it didn't have a view of the harbour. She commissioned artist Peter McIntyre to paint a screen with the image of Wellington harbour by day on one side and by night on the other. The problem was cunningly and creatively solved.

Screen by Peter McIntyre
Family portraits around the piano
The painting of Captain Charles Clerke RN is the only known portrait of the man who took over command of Captain Cook's final expedition after Cook was killed in Hawaii.
Captain Charles Clerke by Nathaniel Dance-Holland
Bledisloe Conservatory
Ralph Hotere artwork
The Council Room
Concrete figures by Rebecca Rose
Mum has bought Dad Delia Smith's cookery book for Christmas so he can make some of the meals at home. Each time he does, she photographs his efforts and posts them for the family to appreciate and comment. We decided to return the favour with our French onion soup.

As they say, 'You can't beat Wellington on a good day'. Fair enough; it is very beautiful when there is no wind, lots of sun and clear blue skies; this was not one of those day, however.

The Weevil at Mt Kaukau
The Hillary Step; one final push before the summit

Look at all the things you could see!
I went down to Queenstown to see my dear friend Howdy Neighbour in a promenade production of Shakespearean excerpts. I wanted to surprise her and I certainly achieved that. She didn't hesitate to invite me to stay with her, and instantly the spare room bed was made up beautifully, even with welcoming flowers (apparently this means I am a special guest).

In the morning I revisited one of my favourite runs, around the Kelvin Heights Peninsula.Yes, it's beautiful isn't it? I rounded a corner to find some new friends; delightful goat sculptures by Jeff Thomson.

Moon above Bob's Peak and Ben Lomond
Cecil Peak, Walter Peak and Lake Wakatipu

Kelvin Peninsula Goats by Jeff Thomson
Thru Link to Peak by Shane Woolridge
When I wasn't watching Shakespeare, I still had a lovely time strolling around the Queenstown Botanic Gardens and relaxing by the beautiful roses and lily pond.

Spirit of Southland
Memorial to Bruce Grant who died on K2 in 1995
Giant kiwi and normal-sized seagull

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