Thursday, 20 November 2014

A weekend away

I have just spent a weekend at a conference in Auckland, our largest city. I loved it - both the conference and the city. Auckland really gave me a buzz. With a population of 1.42 million it has more people than the entire South Island. Now the only times I have been to Auckland have been to conferences or to number one son's graduation. So I still haven't seen it. I intend to go back for a holiday in the not too distant future.

Auckland Town Hall
The weather was grey, stormy at times and blustery. And the temperatures weren't much different than we get at the bottom of the South Island. But when you're on holiday or in a conference hall who cares? Not me. On Sunday morning I was up early, rudely awakened with cramp in my foot and leg!
As my room mate was also awake we decided to go and join the other idiots, um, nice people who were over in Aotea Square for devotions. It was not too far away, just across the road in fact.

Aotea Square and the banners
They were using banners and I thought 'that's okay, I'll watch'. But that wasn't an option so I grabbed one and guess what? I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Then it was breakfast and back to the conference
That was a real ordeal, not that there was anything wrong with the speaker, he was great, but due to circumstances the night before I hadn't got to bed till the early hours of the morning. I opted out of the afternoon workshop and went back to my little bed in the hotel. By mid afternoon I'd finished snoozing and I really needed some fresh air so after a nice coffee I went for a walk and took in some of the views. So here are one or two photo's I took while out wagging, um walking.

Sir Dove-Myer Robinson, a former mayor of Auckland.
 Sir Dove-Myer Robinson was mayor of Auckland when I was young.
 He was a real character and a  man of the people.
Sadly missed when he retired from public life.

Waharoa is the Maori word meaning gateway. 
It is situated at the Queen Street entrance to Aotea Square. 
The gate was designed by Selwyn Muru, a Maori sculptor,
 and is a contemporary design built in wood and copper.
On the back is a Maori inscription which has been translated into English.

Knati to
ake irarona o
te awtipi haere
Pikimai e te ua
o te whatu
katakata mai

your snivelling
creek bed
come rain hail
and floodwater
laugh again

The Sky Tower
The Sky Tower through the trees. This was as close as I got, I didn't really know how far away it was and didn't want to run myself late to meet the rest of the group when they finished. I've been in it before anyway when we came up for the graduation. And as you can see, the sun shone for me,
 the only time it did while we were there.I really felt blesssed that afternoon.

Santa and his reindeer atop the Whitcoulls verandah
I then took a stroll down Queen St. in the CBD where our hotel was situated and just so we don't forget that Christmas is coming the big man himself was standing on the Whitcoulls verandah, larger than life.

Christmas tree in the hotel atrium
And that my friends is a little glimpse of my weekend away in the big  smoke.

Go well until next time,

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Guy Fawkes night

Remember, remember the 5th of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason, why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot...

So begins the old rhyme we used to chant in the days leading up to Guy Fawkes night. They were exciting days, we'd never heard of halloween, let alone celebrated it, but Guy Fawkes night, now that was something to get excited about.

During the year all the mums had kept back an old pair of dads trousers and an old jacket or shirt that would normally go into the rag bag. This was for the boys to make a 'guy'. And this was definitely the boys domain, we girls were allowed to look on and admire but please, no advice. And definitely NO touching. The trousers and shirt or jacket were stuffed with scrunched up newspaper and somehow or other the boys managed to bind them together to make an effigy of Guy Fawkes. Then it was down to the shop, with all the other boys in the neighbourhood, to buy a mask to put on the head they'd made of an old pillowcase or sack. Anything really as long as the mask stayed in place for the duration.

Then one day shortly after there would be a yell at the gate, "Hey, ya made ya guy yet? Where's ya trolley? We're on our way out, ya comin'?" And away would go our brother with all the neighbourhood boys - and the girls were left behind. What were they doing? Mans work! They'd drag those trolleys with the guys all over the place, calling out as they went, "Penny for the guy, penny for the guy".  And that's what they got. Most households had a little stash of pennies in preparation and I don't think any of the kids were ever turned away. And you know, we girls didn't care that the boys got a few pennies and we missed out, that was just the way of it.

Then the BIG night arrived. No matter whether it was a school night or not, after tea we all headed down to the beach, each one of the kids wearing an ugly Guy mask, to where the fathers had been building bonfires for the week or so beforehand. The beach was lined with dozens of bonfires and they were all lit as dusk fell. What a sight that must have been from the sea. The guy was put on the top, in our case two guys, ours and our cousins. Sometimes crackers had been secreted into the body of the guy and this made it all the more exciting and then as it began to get dark the fireworks were let off. No public displays, just dozens of dads (and uncles and granddads) setting light to all those fireworks, sky rockets and crackers. To any one who sat on the hills behind town it was probably a great display, and all for free.

Sadly, 'gunpowder, treason and plot' are being forgotten in our part of the world. The kids still celebrate 5th November, but not to the extent we did and I don't really think they know the reason for it.  But at this time of the year I still get around occasionally saying:

Guy Fawkes, Guy  
Stick him up on high,  
Hang him on a lamp post  
And there let him die.  
 I usually stop here but it goes on:
Poke Him in the eye,  
Put him on the fire  
And there let him die  
Burn his body from his head  
Then you'll say  
Guy Fawkes is dead  
Hip, Hip, Hooray!  

-Folkestone, Opie op.cit. p 281.

A bit macabre I know, and I only knew it to the bit about putting him on the fire, but there you go. Guy Fawkes was actually executed in the reign of Charles 1st for treason and his death was quite horrible. Hanged then drawn and quartered. Barbaric really. If you would like to know more about where the bonfires and fireworks fit into the picture here is a link for you. Guy Fawkes and about a dozen others decided to blow up parliament while it was in session, on 5th November. He was found in the basements with 36 kegs of gunpowder and overpowered and that was the end of the plot.

That was it until Christmas. Three celebrations throughout the year, Christmas, Easter and Guy Fawkes. And of course our birthdays.

I hope you've enjoyed reading a little about my childhood. 
See you next week,

Linking to:
Say G'day Saturday
Wake Up Wednesday