On a Whim Wm's world travels

22 Apr 2005

Knitting Natter

Filed under: Cindy,General,New Zealand — cindy @ 7:56 am

The NZ dictionary describes “natter” as “talking socially”, like “shooting the breeze” or “chewing the fat”. The knitting group that meets at the Newlands Community House, every Thursday morning, is a lovely knit/natter experience . I have learned a great deal about this area of NZ from this group of women and men (as well as terrific knitting tips and projects). This group knits for charity. Wool and needles are donated. Worthy causes that need hats, scarves, mittens, jerseys, etc. are brought forward and taken on. The Newlands Community House is a feel-good place, providing some wonderful inexpensive/free community service. Through the work of the House Coordinator and a dedicated group of volunteers they maintain a toy library; drop-in care; arts,craft and yoga classes; knitting, scrabble and walking groups; a food bank; and a weekly community luncheon. You can even rent this cute space for $5. I feel quite lucky to have been a part of this community and look forward to coming back to them in September.

Here’s a photo of the Newlands Community House Knitting Group:

I walked Karori Wildlife Sanctuary today. The birds were in full chorus. The sun shone through the silver fern trees. And at night we drove to the Botanic Gardens and admired the constellation of glow-worms. New Zealand is a very special place.

19 Apr 2005

Finishing School

Filed under: Cindy,General,New Zealand — cindy @ 4:56 pm

Well, I reckon it is about time for a blog entry from me (that’s me, Cindy, just in case you thought Wm likes to knit). Robin and her mom, Eileen, have been working on my diction. Each day during afternoon tea, before I get too sozzled with wine, I learn a wee bit more kiwi. I have been keen as mustard to learn the proper way to speak. Although with all the wine and learning I have to make several trips to the dunny. The rest of the evening we spend nattering on about wop-wops, whipping the cat until the wee hours. Occasionally I hear a “good on you” when I have done well…but not often. The house is often chocker with kiwis laughing at our slang.

Wm and I have been packing: one box to stay here, one for the rubbish bin and one for our clothes, togs, souvenirs, etc, to bring home. Can’t wait to see you all! Let’s go for a tramp and a cuppa soon!

28 Mar 2005

kia ora

Filed under: Cindy,General,New Zealand — cindy @ 9:58 pm

Wm had been swotting for several days so we decided on a 2 day holiday. We threw our swag in the boot and headed to Napier. When we felt a bit peckish we stopped at the tearooms for some gumboot. Shark and taties were on my list but Wm is allergic. As for shopping, the op shops were closed for the holiday but we did find some antique shops to fossick about in. We stayed in a great bus within a cooee of the beach near Hastings — a romantic place for some snogging. It was a full-on holiday!

kia ora=hello (in Maori)
swag=stuff, possessions
boot=trunk of car
tearooms=restaurant (only one room)
gumboot=regular black tea
shark and taties=fish and chips
op shops=opportunity shops/secondhand stores
cooee=within calling distance
snogging=kissing and cuddling

12 Mar 2005

knit the walk

Filed under: Cindy,General,New Zealand — cindy @ 9:38 am

I love to walk and I am learning to knit. So discovering what NZ has to offer in both has been an adventure. Wellington City Council puts out wonderful material about different walks in and around the city. They spell out how long, how far and points of interest along the way. For the month of March they published all the various walks and walking groups available. Karori Wildlife Sanctuary was one of them. A few days later we walked the Newlands Surprise, a small neighborhood group in a suburb of Wellington. We started from the Newlands Community Centre, a pink/purple house that also has a toy and jigsaw library among other things. We met Margaret who has lived in the area for 40 years and (surprise) organises a knitting group every Thursday at the Centre. After this walk, to get a breath of forest air, we stopped at the Otari Wilton Bush, an arboretum with an ancient Rimu tree. The Rimu lives hundreds of years and hosts many lovely epiphytes. One of these hanger-ons is a Rata which starts in the Rimu’s branches and sends shoots down to the ground. Eventually the Rimu dies and the Rata, having hugged the Rimu for hundreds of years, finally must stand on its own. We were courted by a Fantail and entertained by a Tui (very interesting bird life: http://www.nzbirds.com/Gallery.html). The other regular walking I do is betweeen the University and the Wellington library. Some of it is straight up a hill and I, huffing and puffing, am outwalked my all the uni. students.

On to the other favorite topic… remember “me and sheep”…. well we are not that close yet but I am learning a bit about knitting and its history. There is a great book on the history of knitting in NZ called Loving Stitch by Heather Nicholson. It helps me practice knitting and reading at the same time. I found some beautiful homespun yarn in Dunedin where Ian and Pat Robertson have their own “coloured sheep flock”, producing wonderful natural shades of wool. I bought the wool and now I have to find the right pattern (Pat never uses one). The hunt was on for patterns and knitting clubs (looking for like minded knitters and lots of help).

Thursday I dragged poor Wm to my first knitting group at the Newlands Community Centre. He read papers, I enjoyed the friendly banter of people who have been knitting in this area for a long time. No one used a pattern… most learned to knit in school as a little child. Some of them were working on a project of hats for orphanage children in Peru. Margaret helped me find yarn and needles (everything is donated to them) and someone told me a basic pattern. I chose one that I will have to sew up in the end so I can learn from the experts how to do this step correctly. And now I have homework for next week!

Spinning wool is another subject I look forward to learning. I am working my way backwards to the “me and sheep” part. Shearing will be last on the list, eh!?

17 Feb 2005


Filed under: Cindy,General,New Zealand — cindy @ 10:07 am

I am sitting in a quiet cabin at 7 am (with my cuppa) overlooking the Taramea Bay in the peaceful community of Riverton. We were on our way to the Catlins Coast, the southern most tip of the South Island, when we discovered this town and a great place to stay. Yesterday, Yvette and I took a long walk along the beach into town. On the way we met a resident artist gardening. Her house is situated on the Jacobs River Estuary overlooking the fishing boats. She says that she knows it will be a good day when the fishing boats go out and bad weather when they stay in. Wm is happy; he found a place that allows him to hook up his laptop and gives him the fastest connection he has had the whole trip. I have decided to stay forever.

Tea Elegance

Filed under: Cindy,General,New Zealand — cindy @ 10:06 am

New Zealanders know the comfort of a lovely cup of tea (or “cuppa”). Even dinner is called “Afternoon Tea” (or just “Tea” as in England)! Tea is served as “Tea for one or two” which brings an appropriate size pot of either EBT (english breakfast), Earl Grey or regular (“Gumboot”), a cup and saucer and a small pitcher of milk (not cream). Almost all restaurants and cafes serve a perfect cuppa with 2 exceptions so far. One was a raging tourist place called Puzzle World (which also had coin-operated coffee machines) and the other was a wonderful cafe that roasted their own coffee. Both places served tea in one cup with hot water and a tea bag plopped in in an unsightly manner.

Campgrounds, motels and backpacker hostels always provide an electric kettle either in the room or in the kitchen or both. (I also admired this in China, where boiling water was readily available everywhere… on the trains, in the airport, hotels…) The key to a civilized and graceful country is the means and access to a good cup of tea. NZ wins big points for their cuppa.

10 Feb 2005

Sandflies in Paradise

Filed under: Cindy,General,New Zealand — cindy @ 1:20 pm

I have been bitten so many times in so many places that I am just one big itchy bite. The sandflies are out all day long gorging themselves on me. Then at night their buddies, the mosquitoes, continue the onslaught. “Bugger!” takes on a whole new meaning.

9 Feb 2005

Abel Tasman

Filed under: Cindy,General,New Zealand — cindy @ 1:12 pm

Yvette and I have been admiring the scenery along the road. We read about the plant and wildlife and discovered toi tois. Contrary to what we read, we are certain that toi tois are the road construction guys in their short shorts. We looked in the edible plant book but could not find any reference to them. So we have adopted a policy of “look but don’t touch”.

We walked out of Abel Tasman National Park from Cyathea Cove to Marahau (along one of the “Great Walks” of NZ) the day before yesterday (Happy Birthday, Bill!). Lovely 4 hour walk just above the coastline with great views and the sounds of ocean waves and cicadas. Yvette and Jordan took the water taxi out and met us at Marahau where we ate a delicious meal at the Park Cafe. Wm and I came out of our 3 days in the Park quite sunburned, where Yvette and Jordan turned a beautiful bronze (Bugger!). Wm adds, two days later, that now that his sunburn isn’t stinging so much he can concentrate on how itchy the sand fly bites are.

Staying with our new friends in Cyathea Cove was very relaxing. The “Bach” (like bachelor pad) was a 5 minute walk from the beach, fully stocked and lots of room. The beach was quiet and we only had to share it with the occasional kayaker who stopped for lunch. Yvette caught a fish. Jordan provided us with mussel appetizers (and thank you, Martin!).

8 Feb 2005

Abel Tasman

Filed under: Cindy,General,New Zealand — cindy @ 8:54 pm

Just spent 2 nights in Abel Tasman park, in a beautiful little cabin. What a lovely time.

22 Jan 2005

Grocery experience

Filed under: Cindy,General,New Zealand — cindy @ 8:23 am

Friends are coming for dinner so it was finally time to make a major grocery run without a car. The closest substantial store (New World) is in town. In order to reach this store there is a 20 minute walk to Vic Univ. (up and down a hill) then another 15 min straight down a cliff side where one reaches the central flat downtown for another brisk 10-15 min. For the cliff side walk they have built lots of secret passageways of steep staircases or small winding roads or the gentle slope that puts another 15 minutes to your walk. I opt for a new passageway each time. The weather was beautiful, sunny with the eternal gusts of extreme wind power.

New World is your basic large grocery store. Fruit and vegies are weighed in 100g increments. Bulk items are selected then handed to the clerks in a small stand with several scales. They weigh and tag each item before you go to the registers. Eggs are not refrigerated here. But other than that it is all pretty much the same. The only other thing I notice while struggling with my grocery cart is the amount of “Sorry”s to be heard. Kiwis say Sorry for everything.

Once I checked out with 8 bags of groceries I headed out to the taxi line. My first taxi ride! The very sweet taxidriver told me on our way home that New World was built 11 years ago. It was such a phenomenon that tour buses would stop and let the tourists take photos. He also warned me that my taxi ride would be more expensive during peak hours so get the shopping done by “midday” (12:00). I will probably now shop more often with one or two bags and take a bus.

21 Jan 2005


Filed under: Cindy,General,New Zealand — cindy @ 7:55 am

My first blog entry! Yesterday I took the train to Petone. It chugs along the edge of the Wellington Harbor and takes only 15 minutes. From Petone you can look directly across the harbor to downtown Wellington and the airport. I left the station without a map, following everyone else. Petone is a quaint beach town with one obvious main street (Jackson). The first thing I found was the infamous Pak N’Save (the cheapest grocery store around) but I decided to save this for last. I found a cafe that had cozy chairs and had tea and a cookie. (It is difficult to find basic cookies here. They carry Afgans (sp?) which are dark chocolate cookie-like things made with corn flakes.) Revived, I made my way down Jackson Street spending time and a little money in both second-hand shops ($2 clothes!). Then I found my saving grace: a real bargain bookstore with an owner who loves to chat. Used books were a more reasonable $5-$7NZ with a wonderful collection of mysteries, sci-fi and NZ stories. Petone is my new love.

Unfortunately I have been beseiged by terrible allergies ever since we landed and yesterday was particularly bad. So I popped into the drug store and spoke with the “chemist” who gave me my new miracle drug. Better than new, I headed back to explore Pak N’Save and take the bus (just to be different) to Wellington. The bus and the train are the same fares and the train is much more fun!

I met up with Wm and Angela and walked down Cuba Street to the Flying Burrito Brothers. Wm was worried he would not like this fake mexican fare. But it proved to be delicious.

Powered by WordPress