Category Archives: New Zealand

And now I’m wet

I also have a stack of books.

Today is a complete contrast from yesterday with grey skies and some quite heavy rain dominating the day so far. There’s been quite a bit of surface flooding where the drains have got clogged by detritus coming down from trees, but since about 2pm, the rain has diminished and we might even get some sunshine as the weather forecast predicted. It seems a little lighter than it has been and earlier I thought I saw a thin slice of blue sky to the south. I think I might’ve been mistaken about that, though.

I went to the University Bookshop this morning to have a look round. In spite of knowing that I have more than enough books already, I ended up with three more – Unseen Academicals, the latest Artemis Fowl book (but I now suspect that I actually have that I bought it in Hong Kong, and the more I think about it, the more certain I am that I’ve already read it), and the sequel to the Bartimaeus Trilogy. I wasn’t planning to buy them, but happened to find myself in the right place at the right time.

When I got back here, I did a test pack of my suitcase. I can get everything in and I’m fairly certain that I’m within the weight limit in spite of having 21 books altogether. The real problem is fitting everything comfortably into the suitcase.

I also got my credit card this morning and can finally pretend to be an adult. I learnt, though, that they’ll dish credit cards out to 14-year-olds, which seems to be about as sensible as asking a known arsonist to look after a box of matches and a can of petrol. Anyway, now that I have one, what am I going to buy? I’ve got so used to not having one that I’ll probably never use the thing.

Right, time to continue reading The Girl who Played with Fire.

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I’m hot

But not in that way. (Well, all right in that way as well.)

Yesterday morning, the cloud sat overheard and did little or nothing apart from a dribble of drizzle at one stage. It eventually broke up around lunchtime, but returned with drizzle later in the day. This morning started hot and sticky and has got hotter.

I took a wander around my old university this morning. The library is still cordoned off and it was possible to see at least one broken window. There was also evidence that chunks of masonry which had fallen off the building during the earthquake had been replaced. I expect that a lot of work needs to be done inside to put books back on the shelves because they got thrown everywhere, and probably some of the shelves played dominoes.

I’m used to Sunday being much the same as every other day of the week because the weekend is only a weakly articulated concept in the Empire. Ironically, the car park of a Chinese (Christian) church was full as we passed it by, but there were also other people in churches as well, which I find most peculiar myself. (That is, the latter part, but I suppose all societies have weak-minded, credulous individuals even among the allegedly less gullible sections of the population.) Thus, some shops are closed, and the banks certainly aren’t open.

There’s also bustle of the sort which is just not seen in the Empire, where dull, zombie-like plodding is the norm. I’ve never understood that indifference to the amount of time which gets wasted by shambling along. It’s certainly not exercise because none of them ever achieve a brisk enough pace. Perhaps it’s because their lives lack imagination, they’re insensible to the time they spend on actions during which nothing is achieved. It probably has something to do with their inability to be punctual.

Oh well, the Empire and its inane behaviour remain a few days away, but it’d be nice not to have to go back.

Clear skies and sunshine

Blue seas.

After lunch, we went to the beach, a narrow cove called Te Oka on the south side of Banks Peninsula. The sand is dark-coloured from the volcanic rock of the peninsula, but is mingled with lighter streaks which are probably ground-up shells, although the beach was littered with very few.

The hills which overlook Te Oka are covered in very dry, yellow tussock grass, which forms a complementary contrast with the blue of the sea and the sky. Close to the land, the sea was that lighter green-blue and then further out, a deeper blue which, from our perspective, formed a narrow strip setting a border between the realms of Zeus and Poseidon.

There are rocks at the base of the ridges which thrust out into the sea, and at the far end on the west side is a phallic-looking rock which stands apart from the small cliff. I wouldn’t be surprised if Te Oka means “The Knob” (in its more colloquial sense).

The locals were a small flock of seagulls, a paradise duck, and three oyster catchers. The last of these were rather bullying, chasing away the seagulls and harassing the paradise duck as they made their way self-importantly up the beach, acting like disdainful Puritans. The seagulls were more interested in the stream flowing down from the valley in which they would sit for a time and then start washing themselves before finishing their baths with a drink.

The tide was turning while we were there, and I took the opportunity to go paddling, which I’ve done so rarely over the past twenty to twenty-five years that the number of times doesn’t exhaust the fingers on one hand.

Behind us, we heard something coming down the beach, namely a piece of dried kelp in the shape of a small walking stick being blown along by the wind, whose passage was leaving a trail in the sand. It eventually got blown into the sea which carried the stick further out as the tide ebbed and flowed. The kelp would bob over the approaching waves, which would bring it back a little way, but it seemed to be taking two steps forward and only one step back. I assume that the water will deposit it back up the beach, and the wind will then blow it back down again tomorrow.