Tag Archives: New Zealand

THEME DAY: LANDSCAPE—DOES ART IMITATE LIFE OR VICE VERSA?

By Yvonne Blackwood ~

The adage, “A picture is worth a thousand words” rings true today as it did when it was popularized in the early 1900s. Travelling across the globe I have come across various locations that I regard as stunning. These spots may not necessarily be as appealing to others as they are to me, but that is why we are individuals.

On a tour of New Zealand a few years ago, we toured both the North and South Islands. As we travelled over hill and dale, through verdant countryside, I was impressed with the country’s beauty, so picturesque in some areas, it seemed like the canvas of an artist.

New Zealand

A piper pipes us in to Larnach Castle,  Dunedin

In Dunedin, the second-largest city of the South Island, we toured the charming Larnach Castle (I will cover this later in a series on castles). The castle stands on a hill—as most castles tend to do—and overlooks Otago Harbour. The harbour is a natural one and includes a long indented stretch of navigable water which separates the Otago Peninsula from the mainland.

 

Otago, New Zealand
Otago Harbour—picturesque view from Larnach Castle

While I found the castle, and the story behind it interesting, and the gardens fabulous, it was the view beyond the grounds that took my breath away. I had to take a second and third look. Was it real? Was it a canvas? After convincing myself that the view was real, I realized that William Larnach who built the castle must have reacted similarly, hence this chosen spot for his home. I thought, “Imagine waking up to this view every morning.”

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My new children’s picture book will be published early spring; be on the watch!

Theme Day-Architecture: STUNG BY THE BEE!

By Yvonne Blackwood

During my travels across the globe, I have seen numerous imposing buildings and monuments; so many, it is difficult to determine which one has impressed me the most, or left me with a lasting feeling of awe. Looking through my photographs, I’ve concluded that The Beehive is one of the most fascinating pieces of architecture I have seen.

New Zealand Wellington The Beehive

The Beehive stands in Wellington, New Zealand’s capital located on the North Island’s most southern point. It is the name given to the Executive Wing of New Zealand’s Parliament Buildings. Built in stages between 1969 and 1979, the Beehive has ten floors, and is one of Wellington’s best-known landmarks, and the most recognizable buildings in the country.

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Theme Day-Object: Dying, Dying…Has it Died Yet?

By Yvonne Blackwood

Not very long ago (or so it seems) if I arrived at the airport from one of my travels and the person designated to pick me up was nowhere in sight, I would scurry over to an impressive line of phone booths, select one, insert a quarter in the thick black phone housed inside, and make a call to find out if my “driver” had already left home.  If I was on the road I could swing over to a phone booth at a gas station and make a call, or I could use a pay-phone in a supermarket. Today, phone booths have become dinosaurs; they are hard to find and hardly anyone uses them. Cell phones are the order of the day, therefore, there is no need to carry quarters and hunt for a booth.

Shopping around in Dunedin—a city of the South Island of New Zealand, and a place with gorgeous Edwardian heritage buildings—a few years ago, I came upon a beautiful sight—a quaint phone booth.

New Zealand, Dunedin Telephone booth (2)

Two thoughts immediately crossed my mind—Dr. Who (T.V. show from the 60s) and, how much longer would the booth be there? I promptly whipped out my camera and took a picture—for posterity!

PS: Do you recall any movies in which phone booths were used?

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HIGH TEA ON THE GO IN NEW ZEALAND!

Some like it hot, some like it cold, and some like it on the go! One of the great things about tea is that you can drink it at a myriad of places, and on countless different occasions.

You can sip tea daintily in the drawing room or while seated in the formal dining room; you can gulp it down unceremoniously at the breakfast nook or on the veranda/balcony/patio, or even while walking around; you can drink it in a restaurant or on board an aeroplane—to name a few places.

A few years ago, I was in Christchurch, the largest city of the South Island of New Zealand—a fascinating place said to be the most English city outside of England—when I signed up for the Punt, Tea and Tram Tour. It was only then I realized that I was the only passionate tea lover among my four travelling buddies; I was the only one who had signed up for the tour! Not deterred by their lack of interest, I headed to the punt dock to join the other tourists who were going on the tour.

One of the key characteristics of people who love to travel is that we make friends easily. While we waited for the punt to arrive Carley from California became my new best friend. Along with a few other tourists, we punted up and down the most tranquil and picturesque Avon River. Frankly, the punting was more enjoyable than riding the gondolas in Venice, and less traffic to contend with.

AVN2RF1005
Punting on the Avon River, Christchurch, New Zealand

After punting was over we made our way to the pick-up-spot for the tram. Little did I envisage how much I would enjoy the thrill of High Tea on board a tram. When the quaint little tram rolled up on the tracks and stopped in front to us, we were greeted enthusiastically by two charming waiters dressed in black and white uniforms, wearing black and white striped aprons. This was no ordinary run-of-the-mill tram. Outfitted with tables spread with white table cloths, and set with red-rose-patterned fine bone China, and silver cutlery, it was specially designed for sightseeing while the passengers gorged themselves on High Tea. Seating was arranged at tables for either two or four persons. I shared a table for two with my new friend.

New Zealand, Dunedin, Tram tea car

As the tram rumbled leisurely along the tracks, the driver announced the different landmarks that came into view, and supplied some historical details about them. The waiters promptly placed at each table, tripple-decker trays chock-full of finger sandwiches, fresh pastries—scones, cakes, cream puffs, biscuits—garnished with chocolate-coated strawberries. Carley and I didn’t hesitate; we immediately sank our teeth into cream puffs. The whipped cream exploded around our mouths, giving us temporary moustaches! We had a good laugh then cleaned our faces with fancy napkins, and attacked more pastries.

High Tea on Tram in New Zealand

Then came the piece de resistance! Our waiter returned with a silver teapot, so shinny you could see your reflection in it, and poured freshly brewed, rich-coloured English-styled tea into our dainty bone China cups. Mmm! Mmm! Is there anything quite like a good cup of tea? For a while I no longer saw the historical landmarks, or heard anything the driver said about them—I was hoisted up in High Tea Heaven!

Later when I rejoined by travelling buddies, I laid a guilt trip on them that they had missed a truly unique and satisfying experience—High Tea on a tram in Christchurch.

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