116. Penny’s new adventure

This is probably the last-but-one blog before we take off for new adventures in Australia. Our plane seats are booked – at last! – so there’s no turning back now.

Since returning from Hanmer laden with blackberries, we haven’t done a great deal. A couple of family things, luncheons, etc. We did make a trip to Rangiora to order a new sleeping bag-bed for Penny as her old one was falling to bits. ‘Little Paws’ (http://littlepaws.co.nz) have made beauty, it has a waterproof bean bag inserted in the base, and a soft ‘collar” so Penny can open the bag and slip inside easily. Taking photos of her in it was however a different matter. Much bribery required …

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We made yet another trip to Blenheim, this time to deliver Penny to our friends who live in Taumarunui  and have very generously offered to look after her for the 8 months we will be in Australia. She spent a month with them a year ago so we are hoping she will settle down quickly in once-again-familiar surroundings. This is a far better arrangement than what we’d feared we’d be forced to accept (apart from taking her with us and exposing her to the heat, ticks, snakes, heart worm and assorted nasties which a Kiwi dog doesn’t know), which would have been boarding her with a professional foster carer who looks after up to 5 dogs a time and charges well over $100/week.

We drove up via Murchison, hoping to find a missing Christchurch Library book which I thought I’d left behind by mistake at the NZMCA POP mini-exchange library. But it wasn’t there and a message on the Jayco Owners’ Facebook page hasn’t yield anything either. Oh well, I will just have to pay a fine. (Quite hefty as it turned out ;-(.)

En route to Blenheim from Murchison and approaching St Arnauds, we were feeling it was time for a coffee stop, or even lunch. But nothing seemed very welcoming so we continued and then some way past St. Arnauds we spotted some signs saying Cafe and Coffee. Expecting a roadside cafe or perhaps part of a farmhouse, we were surprised to find a tiny little pop-up cafe parked in the middle of a huge expanse of open paddock. Owner Karen, who lives on top of the hill, gave us a warm welcome and made us some delicious bacon and egg butties on unbelievably fresh, crispy-topped yet airy buns and of course wonderful coffee.

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On to Blenheim and our usual haunt at Reta’s POP. After a day or so helping Robyn with her rock garden among other things it was time to catch the ferry to Wellington. A nice calm trip. All too soon we were handing Penny over to her new parents. She seemed happy to see them and to hop into their van, making sure all her goodies and bed were stowed on board. So off they went.

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We’ve had reports that after the initial night when she insisted on sleeping on THEIR bed (strictly forbidden here!) and a day full of working sheep and collecting milk from the cowshed, she has settled down well. She’s also proved herself a champion ratter!

We had a free day in Wellington so visited the awesome Gallipoli – the Scale of Our War exhibition at Te Papa. The 2.4 times life-size figures were truly amazing, right down to body hair, skin imperfections, military badges, the nurse’s buttons etc etc. Not just individual war histories but family histories were well researched.

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Dave was entranced by the panoramas and I was especially moved by the nurse (remember everything including her badge and buttons and letters are 2.4 times life size).

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These two panoramas were like miniature Son et Lumiere displays. Moving lights, shadows, captioned commentary …. You have to see them to fully appreciate them. IMG_6945IMG_6946

Quoting from the Te Papa website: Lead curator for the exhibition Kirstie Ross says the exhibition is a chance to unpeel some of the myths around the eight month campaign. “We’re interested in that human experience, seeing it through an emotional lens with the words these individuals wrote, how they recorded and reflected their experiences. At the same time we’re bringing rigour, accuracy and humanity to that story.”

My photos did not turn out well, I forgot to adjust my camera settings. There are far better photos at http://www.gallipoli.tepapa.govt.nz/  The exhibition will run for four years.

We also managed to meet Dave’s great nephew for a coffee in Cuba Street and make a fairly quick visit to the Wellington Museum’s “Attic” display where we found one of John Gibb’s paintings (Unfortunately the reflective glass made taking photos difficult) before it was time to head back to the ferry for the trip to Picton and 20 minute drive to our nice comfy bed in T5.

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Returning to Christchurch next day we simply had to stop to see the seal pups at the Ohau Stream. One of the things I love most about NZ is the close encounters with wildlife, particularly seals. I’ve see them around Dunedin, Oamaru, Kaikoura and East Cape. Playful, intelligent, curious, they really capture one’s attention. Penguins come a close second.

Hundreds of pups go to the pool every winter. Born on the rocky seashore nearby, they make their own way up the stream to a waterfall where they play together and rest for several days then must return to the coast to feed on their mother’s rich milk. What instinct drives them to visit the waterfall? There was an interesting TV program about this recently.

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Unfortunately I had still not altered the settings on my camera and as a result nearly all the seal photos above are by Dave. One curious pup came right up to me to sniff my shoes. I took a couple of great little videos however.

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