Get ’em before they rot.
I had meant to keep the blog updated with my antics in New Zealand, but I just never got round to it.
The trip went smoothly, although I noted that instead of heading south from Shanghai, we headed east towards Korea and Japan and were obviously skirting the Diaoyu Islands. I had no problems being on time for the 9.00am flight to Christchurch, which was delayed because some Chinese person had missed the flight and they had to remove their bags.
The weather for the first week was brilliant once any morning cloud had dissipated. The skies were blue, the air was clear, and there was none of that carcinogenic haze which plagues China.
I got on with re-ripping all of my CDs at 320Kbps, which also meant editing them yet again, and in the end, to speed things up, I scanned album art where it was missing and track information where it was wrong or wanting. I could probably have scanned the CDs at the higher rate the first time, but I was unaware of such things.
I learnt that The Genteel Companion by Richard Harvey has now deteriorated so much that the final track can no longer be ripped, and even on my Dad’s CD player, the flaws are now audible. After some research on the matter, I find that the flaws in the CD are a consequence of ageing, although my oldest CD, which is about 30 years old, is still fine. Nonetheless, there may come a day when the CDs can neither be ripped nor played.
We went to Blenheim for a few days, where the weather remained clement. We stopped off at a seal colony near Kaikoura and watched the pups lolling around on the rocks.
In Blenheim, we went to the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre. At the moment, this covers machines from World War I, but will be expanding into the period between the wars and World War II. The museum contains some original planes (a 1913 Caproni CA 22) as well as working replicas such as a flight of Fokker Dr.1s (the triplane flown by Baron von Richthofen). Sir Peter “Hobbit” Jackson and companies he is involved with are responsible for the outstanding displays, which include a plane which has crashed in a tree, and the aftermath of the death of the Red Baron as souvenir hunters swarmed around the plane.
We also had a trip from Havelock out on the Greenshell Mussel Cruise. It’s been awhile since I’ve been to sea (if you count trips across Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong), and we had a very pleasant afternoon sailing out to a mussel farm. We got a lecture on mussel farming from the master of the boat, who explained the whole process of keeping the mussel gene pool chlorinated and getting them to grow on the lines which hang from the floats, each of which carries a tonne of mussels. After that, we ate mussels and drank wine before returning to Havelock.
The start of the following week saw autumn getting in some early practice. The weather turned grey, wet, and cold – colder than Chengdu, and only marginally better than Wuxi. It did eventually improve, and was turning rather nice again by the time I had to leave.
My Mum and Dad have acquired some monarch butterfly caterpillars from an unknown source. Monarchs have been quite rare, and the swan plants had about thirteen caterpillars altogether. The biggest of them have just started pupating, and the smaller ones should be ready to start in the next week or so.
This ended up being a clothes buying holiday with the acquisition of new shirts, a new pair of pyjamas, and a couple of new singlets. I looked for shoes, but couldn’t find anything quite right and think that I need to leave such matters for Hong Kong.
I did buy the 6th series of Dr Who, and the first part of the 7th. On my next visit to a DVD shop here, I’ll probably find both, but it’s too much of a lottery.
I’ve also managed to solve the speaker dock problem by chance. Mum has a Sony speaker dock which she can use to recharge and listen to music on her Walkman. I’ve had my Walkman connected to speakers via a cable, but have had to resort to charging the device every so often (typically at awkward moments). I bought a USB plug so that I wouldn’t lose one of the ports of my USB hub (and I’ve never been keen on using my laptop as a source of power for other devices). I’ve found that while I’m recharging my Walkman, I can still use it, which means that I’ve got the equivalent of a speaker dock without enjoying the expense of one.
The flight back to China was sufficiently empty for me to have a whole row to myself, although the arm rests didn’t go all the way up and the attachments for the seatbelts jammed into me at times.
Back here, I took the offer of a private car or would’ve been stuck at Pudong till 11.20am, and not home much before 2.00pm. It’s bad enough having to wait until around 10.00am, but would’ve been a nightmare after a twelve-hour flight to have been stuck at Pudong for about 5½ hours. I had thought the week of the Spring Festival was the second week of the holiday. If I’d known that New Year’s Day was Sunday, I perhaps would’ve returned home today instead.