Tag Archives: New Zealand

Sunny, sunny again, and then…

Grey and hazy.

I returned to the Empire yesterday after a journey which involved rather a lot of inertia as I waited to resume my journey. For example, it took me seven hours to get home from the time the plane landed at Pudong. Four of those were simply waiting at the airport, first for the ticket office at the coach station to open at 8.30am and then for the first bus to Wuxi, which left at 10.10am. Unlike last year, I didn’t have a hotel room to which I could retreat, and I ended up almost falling asleep on the seats near arrived in Terminal 2 because there’s no seating along the paths between the two terminals, I didn’t fancy sitting around in the squalid waiting room. The other three hours were the journey to Wuxi, which is punctuated by a stop at Hongqiao to collect passengers from there.

Contrary to the forecast which I looked up on Baidu a couple of days ago, the weather was bright and sunny with barely a cloud to be seen. After New Zealand, of course, the air lacks that sparkling clarity. Even the temperature wasn’t so bad and it wasn’t until I did some shopping late yesterday afternoon that I recalled my thermal knickers and found that I didn’t need them.

That was yesterday. This morning, though, the forecast has been less amiss. It’s very, very grey and moderately hazy, and as I write, it could be any time o’clock.

As for the flight itself, there’s little worth mentioning. It was an overnighter, which meant that I spent a lot of the flight nodding off, tipping forwards, and waking up again. I need to find some way of strapping myself to the seat so that when I do nod, my head doesn’t tilt and the rest of me doesn’t try to tumble forwards. Actually, vertical straps would sort of do the trick although that leaves my rather wobbly head flapping about like a mad woman’s knickers on a clothes line in a force 9 gale.

I did have one weird dream, though. I was sitting on a chair in a room when a mortar bombardment began. It was so heavy that the chair and I were shaken several metres across the floor. The my wobbly head probably wobbled and I woke up. (As a side note, not unrelated to mortar bombardments, there has been a plethora of fireworks going off this morning. No sooner did one lengthy barrage end a couple of minutes ago, then a new one commenced. Lantern Festival today?)

Anyway, the washing has done, I’ve inflicted more trivia on the world, and there’s an empty drying frame out there which isn’t going to hang the washing out itself.

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Woke up this mornin’

Well, a couple of mornings ago now.

The trip to New Zealand started early and dragged on. Iris had me booked on the 6.50am bus to Pudong, which arrived at the airport at about 9.30am, which was far too soon for my flight in the afternoon.

I ended up having lunch at Ajisen partly for something to do before I went through the departure area.

Our departure was fairly prompt and I did quite a bit of snoozing before spending the rest of the time watching recent episodes of Bing Bang Theory and Mr Sunshine. I’ve never seen the latter, which is another of those quirky workplace comedies from the US with a dash of Larry Sanders, but with learning and hugging.

I’m so used to large numbers of people at airports that the flight I’d booked from Auckland was later than it needed to have been. I should’ve booked an earlier flight if one had been available.

I snoozed on the plane to Christchurch because I was seriously tired again, and having got to Mum and Dad’s place, I snoozed for quite a bit of the afternoon, went to bed at my accustomed hour only to wake up at around the time I’d normally be off to bed in China. I eventually fell asleep after it started getting light and woke up at 10.00am yesterday morning.

I’ve already dealt with the main thing: a new laptop. I bought the Acer Aspire 5755G and have been installing software on it without any questions being asked. I had thought I’d get stern warnings about various things being installed on another machine. My attempts to get Office 2010 have failed. For some, I can’t access the website. Oh well, I’ll have to go to the shops and buy it. I could transfer Office 2007, but I want to keep that on my old machine.

Acrobat is also an issue because I think I’d have to install 7, then upgrade to 8, and then to 10, which would mean having to hook the oldest laptop to the Internet to deactivate and uninstall 7. I think I might just bite the bullet and buy 10 from scratch. Again, it’d be handy to have it on two machines.

So far the weather has been so nice. Nor’wester yesterday, and utterly clear so far today. Clouds? What are clouds?

Anyway, there are plans afoot and I must foot off.

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.

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.

I think your halo has slipped a bit

Caving into the studio. Or should that be smialling? (Smialing?)

The Hobbit is now going to be made in New Zealand. How? Because the government there is going to change the law, and give the studio NZ$25 million. So much for it being one of the least corrupt countries. If the boys from Warner Bros tell the New Zealand PM to get them coffee, then I suppose he probably does; and then they make him go back and get them muffins, which he has to buy and can’t then claim on expenses.

Meanwhile, I thought I’d try changing the tag line at the top of the page. I don’t know quite why I can’t save my changes, but there was a lot of wheel spin and nothing happened. Perhaps the same fate is going to befall this entry when I attempt to post it.