Friday, September 22, 2006

off again!

I'm heading off in the morning for a fortnight - a week of JYF Camp (13-15yr old Quakers!) at the Top of the South where I'm doing the catering and then a weeks holiday visiting various friends up in Auckland and Top of the North, nothing like doing things the easy way...

Given how busy the diary is looking here I'm glad I've got a week to recover from JYF Camp before coming back as there is no way I could be up and providing yet more breakfasts all week.

So anyway I'll be out of email and mobile/cell phone range most of the time except for the when we tramp to Separation Point where apparently if you climb half way up the lookout, stand on one leg, hold your phone out in front of you as far as you can reach and make sure you hold your mouth right you can, if you are lucky, get a signal (according to Bridie), and reception when I get to Diggers Valley sounds like it's much the same! Mind you Bridie and I did hit on the idea of sending our phones off to Takaka with Julian when he goes to drop Bridget off half way through the week to pick up any text messages for us - how sad can you get?! Not quite as sad as us girlies last night though - four of us watching Moulin Rouge (and a couple of episodes of Bagpuss for good measure!) and only Fran with dry eyes by the end. Thankfully she didn't take the threatened photo...

Anyway, need to pack... cheerio!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

bah humbug

the BBC online radio coverage of the Ashes is UK only - what good is that I ask you? Hardly any hours of time difference and I still won't be able to listen to it - pah.

Sulking now.

As far as I can make out the Aussie coverage isn't even online and the Tasman is just a wee bitty tooo wide to be able to pick up their local radio stations from here.

There aren't many things I miss about Britain but Test Match Special is one of them, and as Fran and I were discussing earlier much as we hate to have to admit it Marks & Sparks is another - their underwear for me and trousers that fit for her. Cotton non-underwired bras and short length trousers just don't seem to have reached NZ. Ah well, if that's the worst of it I reckon we'll manage to survive out here somehow =) Parental couriers to the rescue.... (altho' that still doesn't solve the cricket issue).

Saturday, September 16, 2006


For you non-kiwi english speakers a tramp is what a Brit would call a hike, in this case a walk of about 15km (dunno miles - they don't do those on signposts here, and I don't do mental arithmetic if I can avoid it...) of rather steep up and down for the most part, hardly a soul to be seen for several hours nor even a house - just miles of ocean, the scrub covered hills around us and the mountains in the distance. The only signs of life being various ferries and an occassional fishing boat.

We just got the No3 bus from the middle of town to Karori Wildlife Sanctuary started walking up past the windmill and golf ball and over to Pariwhero (Red Rocks) and got the No1 bus back from Island Bay 6hrs later - we probably didn't even leave the city limits and it only cost $12 for all four of us for a group day ticket on the bus! Nae bad eh? These days $12 is about £4.

For me being able to do this kind of thing is part of the beauty of Wellington - we had to make sure we weren't back too late as Alex is off to the opera - one extreme of Welly life to another...

We got fantastic views across to South Island where we could see the snow capped peaks of the Kaikoura Range and towards the Richmond mountains between Picton & Nelson which I'll be seeing from much closer next weekend on my way to JYF Camp. Alex, Hannah & I were busy taking lots of photos - probably all of the same views so those with us all as Flickr contacts could get a distinct feeling of déja vue soon! I think Marion felt quite left out... I've not taken many pictures recently so it was good to get a film finished, I think there might even be one more picture from my train journey back from Auckland in July at the beginning.

This expotition (go read Winnie the Pooh if you think I've spelt that wrong!) was cooked up by the other 3 late last night after a few glasses of wine so I got a text as I climbed into bed saying how about it - leave at 9am tomorrow? Apparently Marion thought I was probably the only one prepared to rearrange life at such short notice and go... not entirely sure if that's a compliment or not but I'm glad she texted. It did occur to me as I fell asleep that Marion's walks usually end up somewhat more than you bargain for (as some of you out there know only too well!) but despite her not having done some of it for 6 years, us having no map and the signposts being decidely few and far between and conspicuous by their absense at some cruicial points we got where we intended, and on schedule too!!!!

Ah well I guess I'd better at least try to get some of the things I was going to do today done before the rest of the day slips by, altho a wee 'nana nap' on the sofa (as Chris would call it) does have a certain appeal after all that fresh air and exercise... or maybe I should just go and make a cuppa?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

commitment and belonging - part 2

Back in April I wrote a post which this sort of follows on from...

On Monday night Marion & Quentin had their citizenship ceremony at the Town Hall, so they are now bone fide Kiwis.

To become a citizen here you have to swear/affirm allegiance to the Queen and her heirs and successors - a thorny one to swallow for sure, although technically speaking I guess come the glorious revolution (!) whatever replaces the monarchy would still be 'her successors'! I'm not holding my breath for it mind - waiting for Aotearoa NZ to ditch the British monarchy has a much higher chance of happening first and even that's slim. It's a toughy though - as a Brit in Britian you have to swear no such thing (or even affirm it!), having to do so on the other side of the world to be part of a country you've come to to leave Britain behind is a bit galling it must be said.

So to make a point about not just being a Brit in any old Commonwealth country, and to acknowledge the bicultural status of Aotearoa New Zealand M&Q did their ceremony in Māori which caused all manner of excitement and changes to protocol and probably shattered a fair few nerves along the way (not least of which being Quentin's!). They have made a huge commitment to learning Te Reo - the (Māori) language, and you don't just learn the language but the customs and protocols too. So after the ceremony a group of us gathered for karakia (prayer), waiata (songs), a mihi (sort of an introduction to who you are) and kōrero (speeches) from Marion, Quentin and a representative from their Māori class.

Even though I could only understand a fraction of what was being said I found it all very moving, and it reaffirmed my own commitment to being here and my sense of belonging. Standing clasping my taonga (literally treasure, but in this case my Triennial Hei Matau pendant) I understood what was being said about it being the tangata (the people) those who have become their whanau (extended family) who make this place so special to Marion & Quentin and connect them to here. Māori are known as the Tangata Whenua - the people of the land. That connection to the land is held with great importance, in the words of the Dougie MacLean song 'you don't own the land, the land owns you' - he was singing about Scotland but the sentiment is shared here too - possibly partly why I feel so at home.

The two strands of land and people are so intertwined for me here almost like celtic knotwork, interweaving and going back and forth and round in circles. There are places I've felt a strong affinity to without really knowing anyone there at the time, there are people I have a strong link to but have none to where they live and most stops on the continuum in between, then there are the 3 places which for me combine both people and place the strongest - Wellington, Golden Bay and the far North. I can't, and don't want to, try to distill off what it is about any of them that has the strongest 'pull' the place or the people - take one away and I'd still have the other, but to live anywhere I'd need both.

I get to go back to Golden Bay soon for JYF Camp - first time I'll have been back there since I went there over 2 1/2 years ago. Since then I've got to know more people from that community and it'll be great to go back, but much as I love the place and the people I've a sneaking suspicion that the journey to South Island will feel just as much like going the 'wrong way' as it did last time.

meanderings in the Ministry

This morning not long after I'd got up my mind meandered from thinking about what herbs & spices I could just take to JYF Camp from my own cupboard instead of us buying new packets to thinking about resources for Travelling in the Ministry - quite where the jump came from I'm not sure - somewhere between the cumin and the oregano...?

Travelling in the Ministry is something I've been thinking a lot about lately as it is something I'm very much feeling called to do when my time as Resident Friend ends in April - the logistics of it all are way off being sorted and it'll no doubt take several months of Quaker process to get clearness let alone the relevant paperwork sorted should it be taken on by MM (it would realistically require extending my visa although I could do it on a tourist one if need be, all very complex and not for this post!). But anyway what I would do rather than how I would get to do it was what gained another dimension this morning. It was one of those d'oh moments - I have a reputation with one of my friends for pointing out 'the bleedin' obvious' when he just can't see it, I can't believe it took me this long to spot 'the bleedin' obvious' for myself this time.

The main focus of my thoughts for Travelling have been around work with (older) children within Meetings (having already helped 2 Meetings look at this and have another workshop coming up in November), and running mixed/any age workshops which especially within smaller Meetings meets many needs.

The d'oh realisation was that I have the WGYF study books as fantastic resources for this - part of the 'problem' over here is a tendency on certain vocal Friends behalf to regularly point out this 'not Britain Yearly Meeting' and be over sensitive to stuff coming from there (including Resident Friends!). There is so much in those books from around the world and sharing about international Quakerism in it's many and varied forms is something very dear to my heart. Having helped produce both study books through a process of blood, sweat and tears I know them intimately - but like with many painful processes once over there is tendency to put them on a shelf and overlook them for a while. I might still be selling copies all over the place but actually looking inside them for myself hasn't happened for some time. So many new ideas running around for possible sessions now - all quite exciting really!

Friday, September 08, 2006


Well I guess it was what William would call an 'assembly moment' when I read the 'Clipboard' leaflet from the Apricot muesli box this morning as I topped things up after my B&B guests had finished. He reckons he gets all his best school assembly ideas from the Hubbards Clipboard leaflets, for me it was more of a blogpost coming together, and that sense I sometimes get in Meeting when ministry comes along and confirms my sense of having followed where led rather than blindly stumbling around in the dark hoping for the best.

Clipboard this time was about the choices we make every day, big and little, and the impact they invariably have not only on ourselves but on others too. The commentary on the front ended with a quote from Albert Camus 'Life is the sum of all your choices' which sat nicely for me with one inside which says ' Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions' - a pity that author is unknown.

A while ago I posted here about Don's comment to me at Whanganui how maybe one of the reasons why I'm here is to learn to let go. When I wrote that post I thought I'd got better at it - but I was still doing so reluctantly; now the sense of calmness that has come along with my decision to accept something that whilst I know it's right still isn't easy gives me hope that I've made some more progress. I've also realised that 'letting go' doesn't mean 'giving up'. In both instances it has been a case of giving someone else the space to make their own choices and find clearness for themselves rather than trying to impose my own views and wishes. In both cases though I know that whilst I may not end up liking the result (only time will tell) I'd end up feeling far worse trying to bypass or hinder that process for short term results.

After a somewhat tumultuous few weeks where serenity has felt far from present in my life I feel like I've got that back. I've got to trust the universe, have faith that it knows what it's doing, and in other people to make the decisions they need to in faith. Maybe that's somewhat naive of me, but from my experience (gained from 'bad' decisions in the past!) and to really be true to what's calling to me from inside it's what I have to do.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

soap bubbles

Life feels like I'm in the middle of a soap opera at the moment - not for the first time and no doubt not for the last either. I can remember a conversation years ago where a bunch of us decided that if Eastenders or Neighbours took our lives for a script it would be considered too far fetched to be true - what I can't remember is which bit of our lives was in question at the time, there are several contenders!

What keeps coming back to me amidst all of this is the quote Rosie had as the signature of her emails 'How excellent! Everything's going exactly according to plan' - it certainly didn't seem like it at the time we were emailing about WGYF I can tell you (altho' it all worked out in the end) and there are many times in my life when 'according to plan' is about the last way I'd've described it all. But looking back on those times now so many of those experiences have come in mighty handy recently.

So whilst I'm blowed if I know what the 'plan' currently is I'm wondering what the universe is up to this time and what lessons am I supposed to be learning or be showing I've learned (in the hope that history won't repeat itself yet again thank you very much). It's become a matter of faith, listening to what feels right, and trusting that a way will open and all will become clear in time. That and having the courage to act as led and accept the outcome.

Monday, September 04, 2006

huff n puff

Now getting id'd is one thing but being given a child's ticket on the MOTAT tram????? Humph. That's up there with being taken for Martin's daughter a few years ago (Morgan, his eldest, turned 5 this weekend!). But I guess that's what I get for being a big kid at heart.

Going round MOTAT was very much like being a kid again in many ways, or at least it reminded me a lot of being one - especially when we went to the Railway restoration workshop and got a guided tour around the engines and carriages being reconditioned. There was a Fairlie Narrow Gauge engine there that had come from Britain which looked just like a Talyllyn engine (and quite possibly had been), no Fairlie double engines at MOTAT though I did spot one through the window of the Settlers museum in Dunedin a couple of years ago! Childhood dreams of spending a summer working on the Ffestiniog Railway came flooding back. I don't know quite what it is about steam engines but there's definitely something... I keep getting funny looks from the other planners when I get excited about the Silver Stream Railway being nextdoor to where the Summer Gathering is being held, they just don't understand...