New Zealand for me is like an almighty bell, with the purest chime. It's as though my sternum is a tuning fork which resonates to the sound. The vibration is picked up and my chest begins to sing, a tune which emanates from the note of the bell but is not of the note, and throughout my body, the song grows, changes, continues, responds.
Gentle day today, walking the skyline trail over Oamaru. It takes you up through park land, residential style up into reserve land where you walk through a small piece of Bushland. It's labelled as Bush, and it's sadly small, a relic of what was here before man built and built and built and a town was created. It reminds me of the sad state of affairs in the UK where stands of ancient woodland are such a rareity that a name was assigned to woodland which resembled closely the original composition, with a scientific definition existing for semi ancient woodland. Just the name creates a sense of remorse at what man's actions did to the country.
Yet, change is not a bad thing, and there's part of me is uncertain why we are concerned for the encroachment of non native species into the natural wetlands, woodlands, meadows etc. In the UK we fight constantly against the rather beautiful himalayan balsam, and in New Zealand they have developed new ways of killing willows to allow native species to re-colonise the wetlands. Red and Grey squirrels would be another UK example, and the Kiwi customs demonstrate how important it has become to keep things as they've always been. And yet I wonder why it has become important? In human geography terms the UK finds 10% of its population weren't born in the country, and the mix of people and intermingling of cultures (by which I mostly mean food and religion) makes it feel fluid, a never ending dynamic equilibrium, and somehow it feels like there must surely be a strength in that change. After all, evolution in genetic terms relied on changes, adaptations, survival of the fittest and without change, surely all that can come is extinction as the climate and environment change and we fail to have the capacity to respond to dramatic change and disaster. Stagnation cannot surely be the answer? We cannot live in the past clinging to a belief system which no longer works and failing to see that it has stood still while the world moves on?
In Penguin city – Oamaru.
- Penguins, ungainly cute little beasties. Cautious but not cowardly. Enjoying them a lot.
- Human hamster wheel. Found this ace thing in a kid's playground. Big wooden wheel you get inside and start walking. Or if you're me, you end up crawling, your hands on the top, falling over and dizzy everywhere for ages before you finally work out how to remain upright and walk in a far more dignified fashion. But dignified isn't the point if you're playing, is it?
- Getting on with being happy. It's become kind of easy and routine to just wake up happy and stay happy. Appreciating where I am right now. Just here, just now.
- Proper pot of tea. Stopped at somewhere called the “tea pot inn” yesterday. For the first time since arriving in New Zealand I have cautiously permitted someone else to brew up for me. I carry my own tea bags. I am British. And yesterday's cup of tea was leaves in a pot, proper strainer, little jug of milk and there was fruit cake. The one oddness was that the cup and saucer included a mint imperial. Not sure what that was all about but embraced it anyway. Guid and strong.
- Skyline walk – just a wonderful piece of town planning taking you through a tapestry of places.
- Botany. It's odd as I walked through one piece of meadowland knowing some of the plants either as weeds or as wildflowers in the UK but also seeing there in the wild plants I'm more used to seeing in my mum's garden. There are thistles, cow parsley, dock, sedges and grasses, and there are plants I can only vaguely identify as solanum family, or as legumes of some nature, and possibly kinds of flowering currants past their blooming season.
- Almonds & Apricots. I could live here. The common foodstuffs also happen to be amongst my favourites.
- Giggling with French girl has now changed to giggling with Japanese girl as we have bed changeover in the dorm.
- Long black. Yes, I have finally settled on my NZ coffee preference. And no, it's not the same as Americano …
- Pokies. I have sought and found the answer to what this word means ...
Partial lyrics are going around my head. “it's not the same as being happy”. Not sure where that's come from ...