Sunday, October 30, 2005


check out - I discovered this on the bottom of Pam's emails, looks great, plan to explore it and get bookcrossing - and it gives me the perfect excuse to go and buy at least one book as there is no way I'd pass on those I've brought with me!

gotta dash... Meeting for Worship starts soon and I haven't bought the milk yet.

Friday, October 28, 2005


no, not the sort you get when microphone is too close to a loudspeaker but that which I was asked to write for those who organised the event at Wanganui.

I've been home four days now and I still haven't quite got my head around it all. Obviously the big thing for me was seeing so many people I'd not expected to so soon, and also getting to know many others within the YM, and usefully for me - being the kind of event it was - there were a fair few 'weighty' Friends there (I don't mean overweight, it's a term used to describe those whose ponderings/spiritual insights etc tend to carry extra weight as they are seen to be somewhat more 'advanced' along the path of Quakerism than others - when you don't have an official heirarchy you still end up needing to be able to describe the nearest thing we have to one!).

We were asked at the begining to write down 6 things on little post-its about why we had come, what we hoped to get out of the event, our concerns, what we'd like to take away with us etc. If I could remember all the questions properly I might be able to answer better whether I got what I expected!

What I didn't expect when I arrived was to end up helping with two of the sessions but I guess that's what happens when you let Marion volunteer you to go to something (she didn't tell me she was on the steering committee until I was there!). I ended up giving a short spiel on how the internet is (positively) affecting the growth of Quakerism across Europe and introducing the online Meeting for Worship which we all joined in with for 15 mins using a data projector (see the link on the right of you are interested). Much to my relief this was a great success despite (perhaps because of?) so many people's initial sceptisism.

This session came about because the day before Marion had invited me to join her and 'others' to go for a walk and coffee in free time, what she neglected to say was that the 'others' were Sue and Quentin who were helping her plan the next days sessions! So as we sat by Virginia Lake hiding from the fierce rays of the sun under a big brolly we discussed 'new growth' within Quakerism. Sue, referring to someone who had been quoted earlier that day, said how this person (sorry can't remember her name - Winifred something...) had said how 'God doesn't travel by post' (I happen to disagree with the quote but that's by the by...) But what about the internet? Does god travel through cyberspace? Well me and my big mouth... not only did we end up with the online Meeting for Worship but also in another session with me talking about the WGYF email list which has enabled the various conversations about spirituality, theology and more temporal issues continue long after we've all left Lancaster and quite often between those who never even got to meet when we were there.

The latter bit was within a session where Fran, Jonathan and I were a panel of 'Young Friends' and were asked questions which had been semi discussed (and organised!) the night before (don't you just love advanced planning techniques?). Now being up there as a Young Friend is something of a thorny issue for me. I've been the Young Friend for about 20 years now and to be quite honest I think it's someone else's turn BUT.... on the other hand so many of my friends are still within the age range, I socialise with them, have been living with them, working for them, still apparently look as though I am one of them (mistaken for 25 again!) and I have much in common with them in terms of way of life etc. and I'm not quite ready to fall off the top of the spectrum completely - I guess I want my cake and eat it! Altho' one of my ways round the issue of late has to become the one in the background who bakes the cake...

I still don't feel as though I've quite come up with what Merilyn was wanting from me in terms of feedback, whether those who stayed to the end of the six days got a nice little form with tick boxes I don't know, I usually hate those things but right now I'm thinking they might be more preferable!

Windy Welly

Well Wellington is certainly living up to it's windy reputation today - spare a thought for Sascha, he's about a third of the way across the Cook Straits right now and doesn't like ferries - boy is he in for a bouncy crossing...

So I've survived my first B&B guest, altho' a German gap year traveller who heard of Quakers whilst WWOOFing and wanted to find out more presumably isn't likely to be my typical guest! Thankfully I had Marion and Peter round for tea to help bail me out on the explanations front the first night. I know I've done this kind of thing (the explanations that is) countless times before but somehow being here, and also being post WGYF where so many of my answers have been thrown up in the air and haven't quite landed yet, made it feel like I was starting from scratch again.

I went exploring the Southern Walkway through the Town Belt to M&Q's yesterday and was very proud of myself for not getting lost despite not having taken the map. OK, so it is pretty well signposted and all I had to do really was walk to the top of Elizabeth Street and turn left and/or up each time I got to a junction of paths but none the less it felt like an achievement.

It's amazing walking through the bush (woods - I was quite disappointed last year to discover that bush=woods, I'd kind of imagined something more dramatic - like the set of Crocodile Dundee, you know - deserty scrub kind of thing...) , you'd never know you were so close to the city. At the bottom of my street - Moncrieff Street - is Elizabeth Street, turn left and after several games of Pacman (see earlier post!) you are in the city centre in about 3-5 minutes. Alternatively turn right on Elizabeth Street and in 3-5 minutes (depending on how fit you are!) you are in the bush. Every so often you are treated to spectacular vistas either inland or across the bay and towards the Rimutaka mountains. I'm gradually remembering all the native trees I learned on previous trips but the flowers are mostly new to me as of course it is a different time of year. There are carpets of what looks suspiciously like Wandering Jew and it quite possibly is, after all I've got Spider plants growing in the garden! The Wild Garlic is familiar though, by sight and smell.

I'm obviously not as fit as I'd thought I was as the up and down path left me decidedly in need of a sit down and cuppa before I tackled the weeding at the other end, I must confess I came back via the road which is far easier but not half as nice. However that way I do get to cut through the Basin Reserve (cricket ground). It is such an oasis of calm, bizarrely located in the middle of what is in effect a busy roundabout (or should that be 'squareabout' considering the shape?) altho I suspect the Basin Reserve was built long before half the roads surrounding it. I must say though if I knew some of the big hitters were playing I'd be decidedly wary of driving or walking around there knowing they are more than capable of knocking 6's over the stands!

Today's random observation - none of the kitchen sinks here seem to have overflows, nor does the bath which means I am having to rapidly readjust my bathrunning techniques - at Glendevon Road it took so long to fill you started it off and then went and did three other things in the meantime, knowing that if you did get distracted for too long it wouldn't flood, now not only does it actually fill quickly I also have to catch it in time....

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Ministry of Magic in Wellington?

Ok, so they had a Minister for Middle Earth here whilst Lord of the Rings was being filmed but maybe they have a Minister of Magic too... so far I have found Tonks Avenue and Minerva Street here. Has Scrimegour been deposed or has he had an incredible shift in politics?

There seems to be some kind of cover up going on here - the Wellington inner city bypass construction newsletter (which was about as exciting as the contents of the other postbox got...) reckons Tonks Avenue is named after the Victorian entreprenuer Kate Tonks yet they have moved numbers 1, 3, 5, 12 & 13 Tonks Avenue to new locations... locomotor house? I guess I'll eventually get my head around the fact that here you can not only move house but move your house!

random ramblings

If you manage to check this out before they change the website you'll see Krissy in her new found role as Kubuntu girl! (who wants to be a vet anyway?) With Kubuntu programming courtesy of Jonny Riddell - well ok so most folk call him Jonathan these days but there are too many of those in my life not to differentiate... oh heck, must get to the shops still and get Jon(athan)'s pressie having wished him happy birthday by Skype (my) this morning/(his) last night, and text Jonathan to say happy birthday for today... confused? How do you think I feel?! Whilst on birthdays - happy birthday Aidan for tomorrow, well my tomorrow, your day after...

The post has just arrived - with a Christmas stamp on it. Now far from it for me to be a party pooper but isn't October just a teensy weensy bit early? Or does this mean that if I'm to send snail mail for Christmas I need to get my head around it now??? Ok, advanced warning - Christmas as far as I'm concerned will now be happening in January... well at least that is an improvement on this year - my midwinter festive season circular went out in February/March and I couldn't even blame it on being in the wrong season - altho' I did spend Christmas day on a plane apparently running along a few hours ahead of the tsunami. Scary thought to think that some of those who got off the plane in Bangkok having flown with me from London could have been wiped out less than 24hrs later.

It was fantastic to spend this last weekend with so many of those I was with at the turn of the year at Summer Gathering in Ngaruawahia, I really didn't expect to see some of them again so soon. There's heaps from Wanganui still floating around in my head needing to crystalise before writing about it so I'd best leave that for another time and see if there is anything in the other post box - what is it with outside postboxes anyway? I suppose you don't get drafty letterboxes in the door that way but you get wet going for the post if it's raining and the post gets damp if you aren't there to get it straight away...

Friday, October 21, 2005

off to Wanganui!

Or Whanganui... it seems to have both spellings around but it is usually both spelt and pronounced with a 'W' not a 'Wh' - which leads to various leg pulling comments from those from elsewhere about the locals inability to spell/pronounce. (by the way 'ng' is pronounced like the ng in sing)

Anyway Wanganui is where the Quaker Settlement is ( has more info) and there is an event being held called 'Tending our Meetings' which I didn't expect to be going to having just arrived and whatnot but then Marion rang yesterday late afternoon to say did I want to go? Apparently she'd been chatting to Merilyn at the Settlement and they seemed to decide between them it'd be good if I could be there. So, Esther and Martin will come in and open up the QMH for me etc and Fran and I head up the road this afternon, coming back on Monday - it's Labour Day here and thus a public holiday and a red letter day on the calendar... and despite all this it still didn't register until yesterday afternoon that it was OCTOBER 24th and therefore Jon's birthday, ho hum - your pressie will be late - again (sorry...)

So now I'm all excited as there will be all sorts of people there I know who I wasn't expecting to see until Summer Gathering, however this does mean I've got to blitz the QMH and Quaker Centre today so best get a move on....

Thursday, October 20, 2005

some random kiwiana...

(for those not used to British English either the Kiwi version is on the left!)

chippies = crisps
chilly box = cool box
jandals = flip flops
dairy = corner shop
domain = park (as in flowers, trees, grass etc not cars!)
kumera = sweet potato (and you can buy kumera chips at the chip shop)

The pedestrian crossings sound like a Pacman game

Postage depends on how big the envelope is, not how heavy it is

The $2 coins are similar size to our 2 pound coins (just discovered there is no pound sign on the keyboard!) and the $1 dollar coins are like our 1 pound coins - unlike Australia where they are the other way around. You can put the notes through the wash and even iron them if you feel so inclined and they'll still survive and spend.

Nastursiums flower in spring, so does lavender, instead of late summer/autumn (or quite possibly as well as!)

In Te Reo (Maori) wh = f and all words end with a pronounced vowel.

The clocks changed last weekend so we're currently 12 hours ahead of Britain - but now I don't know when they change in Britain, but when they do we'll be +13 hrs them and GMT!

Kiwi Marmite is worse than Vegemite (in my humble opinion!), well what do you expect from a company called Sanitarium?

Avocados and asparagus are ridiculously cheap compared to British prices, oh and Dad, they have Red Desire potatoes in Commonsense - so you'll be ok!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

siesta time...

Ok, so I'm maybe not quite over jetlag yet - a siesta is seriously called for, had to resort to reading the displays on the walls to keep awake through Midweek Meeting for Worship - thankfully only half an hour long - as I didn't have anyone sitting next to me to dig me in the ribs if I became in danger of dropping off either to sleep and/or my chair...

I'm managing to remember to put on sunblock - although if I don't remember to do it early enough I head off down the street looking like the Witchery tours guide who dresses up as a vampire as my sunblocks starts off white so you can see where you've put it! Well I guess better that than ending up with streaky sunburn.

One thing I hadn't expected was to be ahead of the game on the environmental front - Aotearoa New Zealand Yearly Meeting has a strong environmental stance yet the Quaker Meeting House (QMH) here doesn't have a policy on using eco-friendly, recycled, energy saving products etc and recycling is up to the whim of the RF. I've already asked for a compost bin (there's a garden here) and will ask about the other things when I meet Premises Committee in a few weeks, might just sneak a few changes through as stuff runs out although I guess it'd be best to check with the treasurer! At least I got in to her good books by being able to do them =) The relief on her face when I said I'd done bookkeeping was huge. Looks like between us we'll be changing a few systems... just as well I like doing that kind of thing and have the experience from Edinburgh QMH to draw on. Thankfully altho' there are two 'accounts' (the B&B scheme and the QMH/Quaker Centre bookings) it is all one currency unlike JWP - running 'petty cash' in over a dozen currencies and reconciling exchange rates changes each month was not my idea of fun.

Anyway I'm struggling to focus so best crash out for a wee whiley, and there was me being all proud of myself this morning for having got over jetlag quicker this time - that'll teach me to get cocky!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

back at last!

Sorry it's taken me a few days but I'm now just about organised and settled in to my new home here in Wellington.

I'm not entirely sure that I've really got my head around the fact that I'm not just here for the week again, especially with spending the first couple of days at Marion & Quentin's, my usual Wellington crash pad! But last night I slept at George Fox House (what they've re-christened the Friends Centre) in what is now my bed... all very strange.

It is good to be back, not least because of the sunshine - something I hadn't seen for about a week before leaving Edinburgh. Wandering around town yesterday, doing some shopping and basically re-orientating myself I had to keep reminding myself that as this time I wasn't going to have to move on again so soon remembering properly where things are really would be a good plan rather than just 'well it's around here somewhere' and hoping if I meander around long enough I'll get to where I need to be. The big New World supermarket and Commonsense Organics (Real Foods isn't a patch on this place!) are all of about 5 mins walk from where I live (ok, probably 10 with heavy bags) so I'm well chuffed about that as I can stick to shopping in dribs and drabs as I feel inspired rather than having to do a big shop and lug it all back/scrounge a lift, which reminds me I need to pop back down the road soon and get some veges (as they spell it here...)

I got to Meeting on Sunday which I was very impressed with myself for managing as none of M&Q or Fran were able to go for various reasons so I needed to be up and out on me ownsome, slowed down somewhat by my sore ankle (I twisted it trying to get my heavy bags onto a bus at Auckland airport - don't worry Mum, it's ok now and after all Marion is a doctor!). The first two people I met coming up the road were Jonathan and Llyn who I know (I earned serious brownie points from Llyn by remembering his name - he was most chuffed!) and there were a fair few others I remembered from Summer Gathering and previous visits here, I do need to have a read through the book of members though and put names to all the familiar faces.

We've had glorious sunshine since I got here, but it still gets nippy in the evenings, a reminder that it is still spring not summer and as Krissy will point out to anyone who will listen they just don't do central heating here so I've been glad of being reunited with my microfleece jacket I left here (intentionally!) in January.

Anyway, best toddle off, we've a funeral here this afternoon so need to make sure all is in right ordering before Holly arrives to set stuff up - first full day here as RF, have to start on the right foot (albeit carefully, that's the one I sprained!).

Sunday, October 09, 2005

it's all in the stars

I've just been drinking my cuppa out in the back garden gazing up at the stars, wondering if this will be the last time I see them this way up for a while. Trying to creep as far down the garden as I could without setting off either of the next door neighbours movement sensitive spotlights I could just manage to pick out Cassiopeia, the saucepan (ok, then the plough/big dipper, haven't you read Swallows and Amazons?) and Orion through the light pollution haze of Edinburgh. Some southern hemisphere stars will remain familiar if not their orientation (altho' I was told Orion isn't standing on his head as I reckoned, he's breakdancing...) and I find the Southern Cross a lot easier to locate than the Pole Star! I love stargazing, but there never seem to be quite enough (warm!) clear nights for me to ever get beyond knowing about half a dozen constellations. Somehow they never quite look the same in a book as they do in the sky, I need someone saying 'see that one there, no, up a bit and to the left, then go right and there's another two in a line...' etc.

Stargazing always brings back many memories of people and places. Time and again I remember watching the stars towards the end of the Quaker Youth Pilgrimage when I was 17 and Karin saying how now matter how far apart we'd be when we went home we'd still all be looking up at the same stars, it used to make the mile long walk up the farm road home from 6th form college far more comforting on the dark winter evenings.

At Summer Gathering last year (NYFSG – a Quaker teenagers event) Robin talked about how basically we are all made of stars (cue the Moby track as we entered the next mornings worship!) and the miracle of creation being that we and, everything around us, is made up of so few basic elements, with such tiny differences in our genetic makeup and atomic structure. Pretty mind boggling and impressive when you think about it.

I found my horoscope that Jo did for me a few days ago when packing – reading it through it seemed so contradictory in places that a sceptic would make mincemeat of it, yet if you take my life as a whole rather than just where I am now you can see the different eras represented; the stay at home, nest building, seeking comfort in permanent surroundings me of 10 years or so ago, and the globe trotting, no ties, following where the wind blows me me of the last couple of years. I like to think that the future holds something somewhere in between the two - hmmm, how about settling down in Aotearoa New Zealand with trips back to the UK every couple of years visiting various friends and family in between on the way... it has a certain appeal it must be said =) However that would require a work visa, a paying job, residency etc so no point counting chickens before the eggs have even been laid!

Friday, October 07, 2005

ps - babes in bumps

before I forget - I did phone Amanda and no she isn't =)

Whilst I think of it - if anyone is feeling broody check out, Lucy has loads of cloth nappies and accessories for you to coo over!

Who needs their own children when they have a cute godson anyway? And when I get to Wellington I'll have my cousin Emma's kids near by who should keep all maternal instincts satisfied without needing to get clucky myself... maybe one day it'll finally happen but right now (aside from requiring angels and wise men on camels) I'm far happier being the doting fairy godmother =) Sorry Mum!

everything in it's own time, and a time for everything

Well today was a 'hurry up and wait' day, a mad rush around getting everything ready for the courier to collect my boxes to ship, printing off the forms and getting back in time (thanks for the lift Bronwyn!) only to have the courier company be conspicuous by their absence.

Frustrating in itself but... I got my washing done and out on the line and was able to give Banjo more cuddles whilst I deleted files off the laptop. I think he's begining to smell a rat.. well not literaly (I hope!), more his biscuits - he found the box half packed with his clockwork feeder & a tin of biccies etc in this afternoon and well those of you who know cats will understand when I say he positively glared at me... he then found an empty box to sit in - I think that might have been a hint!

Anyhow, having finally got around to reading the small print (and boy do I mean small - thank heavens for my new glasses!) it turns out I'll need to re-pack one of the boxes and pop something in my luggage otherwise the box will need to get quarantined by MAFF (Ministry of Agriculture, Farming & Fisheries) at the other end or something daft, and I'd have to sell my soul and sign on the dotted line claiming to have packed Fran's box (which would also mean MAFF blaming me for the pesto!) - so maybe the non-showing of the courier did Fran and I a favour!

Funny how things work out sometimes.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

1 week to go!

One more week and I leave Edinburgh!!!

However right now I also need to leave the office and get home so Annemarie can come and collect her sofabed that has been earning it's keep at mine, so I'll leave you quickly with this link...

Enjoy =)

oh and before anyone else accuses me of forgetting to pass on the news - Lucy is expecting another baby in March and now Kylie is expecting one in February too.... not sure if I dare phone Amanda!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

5 Glendevon Road

Another day of packing, sorting and cleaning done... I've even managed to make an appointment for Banjo to get his jags at the vets tomorrow morning which I've been putting off for weeks (ok, months – I'm not sure which of us hates it most). Yet no matter how much I tick off my 'to do' list it still seems to fill the page when I start a new piece of paper!

A week today and I'll have moved out of this house! Not entirely sure where I'll be staying the last two nights up here, I'll worry about that one later – maybe on Sunday... It's been a good place to live this past 18 months and I've been lucky with my various flatmates – Phil, Ruth, Jonny, Mez and Emanuele and of course the feline ruler of the roost Banjo =)

So many people have visited over my time here – it really has lived up to Croydon Road standards in that respect (my home in Newcastle upon Tyne for four years) - and without the mouldy bathroom and taste free d├ęcor to boot! I had realised I'd missed that steady stream of visitors and the ability to say to people 'sure, of course you can stay' without having someone grumping about it or even turning round and saying no, or having to endlessly apologise for the building site that passed for a home. I'm looking forward to the Bed & Breakfast side of being Resident Friend. Maybe not the fact that it may involve making civilised conversation at 7.30am (I am so not a mornings person – not until 10am anyroad!) but to meeting whoever the wind blows in my path. I've always liked the line in Advices & Queries 26. Try to make your home a place of loving friendship and enjoyment, where all who live or visit may find the peace and refreshment of God's presence. I'm not sure how well I've succeeded, but I certainly feel the closest I've come to achieving that is here.

reflections along the canal

I'm trying to type, and eat my lunch, with Banjo on my knee which means every now and then I find my fork nudged nearer my ear than my mouth and his tail is in danger of becoming Thai green curry flavoured... as long as he doesn't try to play with my mouse though we should be ok!

I meant to write something yesterday after I'd walked home from Meeting but by the time I'd made buns to take to Young Friends and had my tea it was time to go back out, but hopefully I can remember most of what was going through my head.

I walked home the scenic route yesterday, along the Union canal and the Water of Leith starting off at the revamped Port Hamilton basin with it's trendy bars and penthouse flats, still looking somewhat out of place amid the brewery buildings and car mechanic workshops but on the whole a definite improvement.

As I walked along all kinds of memories came back to me as I realised how many ties I had built up with the canal in the twelve years I've been here, what started off this train of thought which lasted the whole 5 miles, was seeing how much of the towpath has now been broadened and resurfaced and thinking how much easier it would have been pushing Kirsten's wheelchair along here now than it was when I first came here when it was all overgrown, rutted and muddy and a case of playing chicken with anyone coming past on a bicycle. So much has been done to dredge the canal, rebuild the pilings at the sides, put in new moorings and pontoons (great for feeding the ducks from!) and now it is possible to navigate your way through to Glasgow again by boat. The section at Wester Hailes has been uncovered again having been sent through a culvert for goodness knows how many years and there is talk of a marina being built there – yep, at Wester Hailes! Must admit the idea of it being transformed into a trendy waterfront area seems a little far fetched but then I'd've said the same about the Dark Arches area of Leeds at one point and now look at it...

It has felt like the canal has been improving over the years along with my life; from stagnant water going nowhere fast, gradually getting cleaned up and cleared out, shifting years worth of rubbish and silt and now being ready for the next stage, full of life and freedom.

I couldn't believe how many people came to mind as I walked along, memories triggered by different sights; the rowers, the rugby ground (what on earth are they doing at Boroughmuir?), Polwarth church and bridge, the bench at Shandon, the poplar trees, Harrison Park, the ducks and swans, the dabchick (now I know what it is!) - these and many more sights brought to mind friends old and new, it was like walking through some kind of time warp. So much has changed along there yet obviously enough has stayed the same.

Turning off down the Water of Leith walkway (the 'leaky' aqueduct, the cantilevered pathway, the allotments, the cemetery) brought along another string of people and events to mind and the most seemingly random connections – part of me wants to write them all down but I'm not sure that I could without going back out and doing the walk again! It really did feel like I was having the last 12 years of my life flash before me.

One thing I did realise though as I reached home, no matter how much my life has improved, now matter how much better my health and fitness – I still can't do a five mile walk on a practically empty stomach without feeling lightheaded and desperate for a cuppa!