Tuesday, January 18, 2005

15th January 2005

Flying out of Nelson as I write, the Saab is over the Tasman Bay, Golden Bay off to the left. I got a lovely send off. Margaret and Barry Scott, Theresa and Bob Ducker, Helen and Kemp, Angela and Dad. Of course, it was quite emotional. I intend to return to Nelson before too long.
Farewell Spit in view now, and the Bay in full. I'm in seat 1a by the door, looking over the turbo prop which is making the light have a colour shift. The luggage is .2 kg under the allowance including my bike.
It's been great to share my 50th, Christmas, New Year and some hot days with my family of whom I've seen so little over the years. From the first few days I was in Nelson, there were strong family bonds and feelings which my life and situation has impeded. Naturally I would like to return to work in New Zealand.

The North Island in view now, not as clear as Nelson or Golden Bay. Mount Taranaki stands proud and snow capped.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comLA AIRPORT 2.30pm local time, cueing 'in transit'. Really is crazy after a long flight to stand in a cue for over an hour to pass through an immigration check then reboard the plane without entering the USA. New post 9/11 security arrangements. I cannot see what useful function it serves, except for adding passenger's identities to a US database. I'm not the only one to feel this way, see other peoples' comments: Passenger Opinions - LAX
Photos: 15th & 16th Janaury

14th Janaury 2005

Left Patons Rock at 10.30 after shooting the breeze with Bernie for an hour. Arrived in Takaka at 11, fastest journey yet on the bike. 45 minutes to kill before the K-Bus left for Nelson. Best weather today, kind of a shame to fly out tomorrow. Arrived Nelson at 3.15 and checked with Chris at Natural High that he was set to pack the bike for flying. Had a quick Chinese meal before going to pack my stuff for return to the UK.
Photos: 14th January

13th January 2005

Another hot bright day in Golden Bay. Hung out at Bernie's mostly, although had a brief one to one with Dad which was great. Collected more stones and finished the arrangement at the back of Bernie's, looks great now with some finer stones from the Onekaka River.

Then over to Helen & Kemp's place for a meal of salmon with Rory, Christine, and their children Michael & Jennifer who caught it today at the salmon farm.

On returning checked out Bernie and Bunce and came back to the little pink blamange house for my last night in Patons Rock. Who knows?

Maybe I'll be back one day, but something in me tells me I won't. We'll see.
Photos: 13th January

12th January 2005

Image hosted by Photobucket.comThe best weather so far was today in Golden Bay. Not a cloud in the sky, very hot with a very high tide. It was a beach day for the whole family. We swam, saw dolphins, played beach cricket, (I got 26 runs and 3 wickets), even Dad batted and bowled!
Helen and I took out Gin & tonics to the beach and we all got nicely sozzled, Bernie turned up and he and I went to get another ton of round pebbles from the Parapara Riverbed and returned to a wholesome bar-b-q. The best day ever!
Photos: 12th January

11th January 2005

We went for a long drive today past Collingwood up to the Visitors Centre at Farewell Spit. The tide was very high when we got there and as we ate a beautiful lunch we could take in the splendid view of the full length of the spit, shifting sand dunes and the clump of trees near the other end of the spit. We went into the binocular room after eating and could make out the lighthouse and watch the thousands of birds including many black swans.

We then made our way back south through Rockville to Bayham and the old shop and Post Office then onto the historic Salisbury swing bridge near the start of the Heaphy Track.

We popped into Helen and Kemp's wee house, met up with Kemp's brother Rory and his wife Christine and two children with whom I played frisbee while the oldies had their tea. Was great fun.

Then returned to Paton's Rock for dinner. After, I took Bernie's Isuzu Trooper and met up with him, Doug, Johnny, Helen, Kemp, Rory, Christine and the kids at the Mussel Inn, drank chilli beer with a real hot chilli in it.
Photos: 11th January

10th January 2005

After breakfast, straight next door for coffee and unload the rocks we collected and arranging then in the garden, Bernie shouted a meal at the Wholemeal Cafe. Then Angela & Dad took me on a drive over to the Wainui Inlet, passed the Tui Community and the entrance to the Abel Tasman National Park. I resolved that the next time I come here, to do some walking (tramping as the Kiwis call it) through here. We stopped off at the shop in Pohara and got ice-creams.

Called in to Takaka Organics shop for herb tea to help Dad to sleep and I bought the Selected Writings of John Dewey - On Education and started reading it on the way home in the car.

Then home for dinner and out to the Village Cinema in Takaka to watch the 2nd Bridget Jones Diary movie, Angela's choice, but I enjoyed it. Dad couldn't "take the noise", and left the cinema and sat in the car. The Village Cinema has a very nice community feel, highly recommended, especially the frozen eskimo (choc ice) we had in the interval.

Then I caught up with Bernie and his two guests, Doug and his son John. We chatted over some Jack Daniels.
Photos: 10th January

9th January 2005

Did 2 hours flute practice, occassionally imitating the Tuis, who would imitate me, what musical cross species fun that is!
Spent a lot of the day with Bernie, went to the Parapara River to collect riverbed stones for his garden, quartz, shist, mudstones and metamorphosed rocks and bits of iron slag washed down from the old iron workings, then after dinner at home, went out to the Mussell Inn to listen to some 'live' music which wasn't that interesting. The Mussell Inn is a pretty cool place though.

Then back to Bernie's house, played his Roland digital piano and drank some wine. Bernie's a dentist and nice guy, his girlfriend Sharon is real cool too, but she's gone back to Christchurch, so we've been keeping each other company and it's been good to hang out with him.

Got to bed about 4am.

8th January 2005

Woke at 5.16 am to the sound of heavy rain. Think I must have imagined thunder, but no mistaking the smell of bacon.

After a few more hours sleep, woke to more rain, torrential rain, then as if by magic the rain stopped and the sun came out. All the pooled water was dried up by 11 and we went in the car to Takaka and a book fair at The Village Cinema.

Home for lunch then set off on the bike. The wind was heavy but the sun very hot. Highway 60 wasn't pleasant at all so after going North for a while, turned left up the Ward Holmes Road towards the beginning of the Parapara Track. By the road was a swarm of wild bees on a small Manuka tree.

Then turned around and returned to cross main road down to the Grant Road and then the beach at the mouth of the river Puramahoi.

Clem and Mona came for dinner of roast beef & Yorkshire pudding. We talked about the internet, theatre design, sound enhancement, Hillman Humbers, DC3 Dakotas and all manner of things. They invited me to their place at Parapara when I next go up to cycle in the forest there. Hopefully that will be next week sometime.

Dad has been on much better form these past few days, Angela is a wonderful host, I count myself very fortunate to have been given this holiday opportunity.
Photos: 8th January

7th January 2005

A nice bright warm day on the bay. Large bank of clouds over the mountains in the west, but here it is very warm and dry. So glad I got peanut butter yesterday from Organics, very tasty.

After an hour of flute practice, then a snooze followed by lunch, went on the bike to Takaka. Bought insect repellent, brake pads and gloves. Took a couple of VBs and rode to Waiputo Pier, then sat under the bridge at the Takaka Riverand watched the water level rise in blazing sunshine with a cool wind and read Scientific American article Music and the Brain to the sound of bellbirds and tuis and cars clinking overhead on the bridge.
Photos: 7th January

6th January 2005

A much better day all round. The sun was bright and warm. Woke early without a hangover and after breakfast, we took June to Takaka to get her K-bus to Nelson airport then Christchurch. Did a little shopping in Organics, my favourite shop, for limes & herb teas including; Manuka, Echinacea and St John's Wort, also visited chemist for more First Aid supplies for bike emergencies (just in case) and sun block factor 30.
Smudge, one of Angela's cats, reappeared. We were worried about her because there was a pool of blood and some fur that looked like hers on the doorstep, but she was OK.
Dad has had a better day today, having been for 3 walks.
At about 4 pm I went for a bike ride of about 11km to Rangihaeata beach and inlet. Past some horse riders near the beach, a mother and two daughters, I assume, the eldest was rather tasty. On approaching them from behind, I'd given a gentle ring with my bell, which caused a lovely smile and prompted some conversation as I passed by. The wind was hard at the beach and after reading a little, then proceeded along the spit and sheltered behind a dune and sat there for about half an hour. My life seems to be one of almost complete solitude now. No change from the last years in Edinburgh, then this last year in Birmingham. Yes, I am beginning to feel very lonely in my life, who knows if this will change. I feel myself so isolated now, the party last night was fun, but it felt so out of the ordinary to be in company. At the end of the party I played the Roland digital piano, which entertained folk. It was a reminder of another part of my life that's missing, i.e. playing music, jamming, I do miss the trio. Ok, you see I'm feeling pretty blue so I'll sign off for today.
Photos: 6th January

5th January 2005

Besides a short walk to Patons Rock and admiring the glowing blossoms of the pohutukawa tree and sharing the dull day with two black oystercatchers, I've been stuck inside again today, serious 'cabin fever' so by meal time, dad and I had our first upset for 33 years over cabbage and table manners!

Simultaneously, Bernie & Sharon invited us all to their house for a community party. After a tense meal, we all (with the exception of Papa) went to drink, dance and let the frustrations of the past few days melt away.
Photos: 5th January

4th January 2005

A grey day.

Dad, Angela & June went to Takaka while I surfed - the internet, then lunch, then read Chomsky book Understanding Power then fall asleep, only to wake in time for supper and more rain.

The surf, rain, black oystercatchers and sparrows provide the only soundscape.

I plan my next big ride on the bike and consider routes away from Highway 60.

3rd January 2005

Angela flew the kite I gave her for Christmas on the beach, it soars easily into the sky. The weather is still spattered by 'monotanous' rain.

Dad & I are listening to a CD of Symphony No.2 by Sibelius on the tiny portable player, I cannot fail but be moved. Methinks this CD set was a good present for Papa. Clearly we share a love of this stuff, it is a dense music, carefully balancing contrasting musical ideas in an ever widening narrative.

Sillyme! Papa just told me, "this was the piece that turned you around. Don't you remember? You played the flute part in a summer course at Pulteney Grammar with John Hopkins. I still have the program somewhere."
I vaguely remember this, naturally, Papa is shocked I don't remember this as well as he. It is my love of him which prevents me from raking over the past, when I was a young teenager trying to find my way. I am happy to just be here and make the most of the now.

Margaret and Barry have left now, June still has a couple of days, we hope the weather will brighten up, meanwhile Angela is enjoying her new digital camera and using iPhoto and showing us her slideshows. They were good company, and interesting and inspiring people who are open and adventuresome.
Mostly slept today then began watching the Lord Of The Rings DVD trilogy Helen gave me for Christmas. While the NZ locations are lovely, the story is so irksome, seems to be about war only, but then, at the time Tolkein was writing, Europe was in the midst of the military struggle of fascist peers.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

2nd January 2005

Left earlier today, the sun is out and there's only the occassional wisp of a cloud. A glorious day. Riding towards Collingwood, pulled over to eat oranges [tangelos] walked through some trees by a sign marked Milnthorpe Park on the side of the road. The MiniDisc isn't working properly and there's a wealth of birdsong here, so mightily annoyed about that, but enjoying it nonetheless.
First Bellbird I've heard since being here. Today is a wonderful sunny warm day. Riding is mostly enjoyable but the traffic does spoil things, car drivers do not consider cyclists here, and it can be quite scary when the cars come so close, especially up hills when there's another car coming in the opposite direction.
From here the clump of trees at the end of Farewell Spit can be seen across the tufts of foam in the bay pushed by the mild wind at sea. Tuis are darting from tree to tree, busy time for them in this paradise. At the shore about 2 kms away, the occassional Gannet is gliding by looking for shoals in the tidal region.

Fish and chips at the Collingwood Cafe, $4.20, nice and fresh. Pretty quiet and very laid back, the sun is steely and bright. The cafe is opposite Farewell Spit Safaris so will investigate booking a trip and check times, tides etc. Tempted to book into a backpackers and stay the night here. It's the kind of place you just kick back and watch the world go by. A small museum looks quaint and uninteresting , I want to stay outside in this heat in any case. While it's hot, there's a sea breeze to keep you cool. After the ride here, just want to chill.

Visited the Old Cemetry of early settlers then returned to shops for water and oranges. Made my way south on highway 60 then turned off onto the Plain Road. At last, a quiet metalled road, only 2 vehicles passed me, one a shepherd. At one point, a huge herd of dairy cattle was crossing the road and seemed shocked by the sight of me. This valley is VERY fertile, reminiscent of Tweedale with mixed healthy grazing.
On a steep downhill, a water bottle came out of the cage. A little later was the entrance to the Te Anaroa Caves, turned left and onto the Devils Boots then down a stone road, on which the panier hook became entangled in the spokes and I came off. Graze no. 2 to my left knee this time. Secured panier and onto Aorere Goldfields through a secure gate. A playground for 4WD and mountain bikes, at last!
3.40pm: Resting by a stream before setting off on the track to the river. Phoned Papa to let him know I may be later than dinner. A location away from the sound of motors.
Went further up the track and got my first puncture! Took off rear wheel and found the hole by dipping innertube into the stream. Thank you Natural High, Nelson for including the puncture repair kit and pump, although not too certain the correct side of the patch is glued, soon find out! Will give the glue a good half hour to dry, then reinflate and check in the stream. Couldn't have happened in a nicer spot!
5:24, puncture is fixed and checked and ready to roll home.
Photos: 2nd January

1st January 2005

Golden Bay Lookout, 5.41, being bitten by flys here but good vista of the bay in the company of 3 deer and occassional motorists stopping for a few moments. Can see the full length of Farewell Spit. Been raining most of the day but set off on the bike at 5 for this ride.
Got as far as the Mussel Inn, had a pint of Captain Cooker and a bowl of sossys then made way back to Patons Rock for Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding.
Not going to eat so much now, the over eating period has officially ended for me, Angela prepares food 6 times a day for dad who says he doesn't enjoy eating and complains about quite wonderful meals.
Photos: 1st January
Photos: 31st December
Photos: 30th December

Friday, December 24, 2004

Summer Fruits

We went buying fresh summer fruits again, rasberries, blackcurrants, strawberries. Because of adverse weather conditions, the strawberries had been imported from the North Island. It's been a cold summer (just my luck), but actually I haven't really noticed because I'm new to this climate anyway. The farms were very much busier than last time with people doing last minute Christmas shopping.
Dad's health is continuing to improve each day and the colour is returning to his complexion at last. He's even talking of his next choir practice at the beginning of February. There's been a steady improvement over the last weeks. Visits from colleagues and friends always seems to cheer him up. We played a little more flute and harpsichord, I'm now looking forward to the prospect of playing with Helen too, what a first! Dad has arranged for the loan of a 'cello and I bought some strings yesterday as one was missing. I put the D string on yesterday, doesn't seem too bad an instrument, but the strings are quite close to the fingerboard, it seems to have been neglected for some time.

Thursday, December 23, 2004


Generally, one is impressed with how clean and tidy Nelson is. However, I have found blemishes. This photo shows a trundler, i.e. shopping trolley, found in the river. In the UK this is a VERY common sight, not so here. Made me feel like I was at home. Hardly anyone smokes here, very little litter or chewing gum splats. Really - pleasant.

Nelson City Council - HOMEPAGE

Wednesday, December 22, 2004


It's a trick of how my mind works. I think associatively and look for positive and upbeat aspects to things. The association between considering moving here and having to transpose on my flute has helped me focus a little on the issues.

Today Papa and I played again, this time Bach flute sonatas, the C major then the e minor. Because his harpsichord is tuned to a lower pitch then I had to transpose them into so B flat and d minor. I know these works pretty well now and there was a moment when I allowed myself to not read the part but rather play by ear (detest that term by the way, how else is one supposed to play?) and accomplished a much better performance.

It's the feeling that is confirmed time and time again, that to allow the mind to over process mostly impedes function. I'd like to progress through life this way as in music.

My point is - I don't feel I really want to uproot and come here just yet, although physically it's a nice place.
More likely see this academic year out in the UK first. There... it's decided.

Open Arms

Having just had a meeting at Nelson School Of Music I now have a lot to think about. I've heard what I wanted to hear, for example;
  • "we'd welcome you with open arms"
  • "there is a real need for woodwind teaching here, it's quite weak at the moment"
  • "don't think you'd have a problem finding work here"
  • "you're probably in a strong position to get residency here, however there is a lot of bureacracy here"
  • "Nelson is quite a small conservative place"
  • I'm yet to find out what level of pay there is here, but privately it's $40 per hour, some are charging as high as $60 ($2.70=1 UK pound). Itinerant teachers are salaried for 52 weeks of the year, holiday pay at last. So I'll think about it and do more research into moving and working here.

    I visited Mr Music, Neville, who was friendly, encouraging and upbeat about the music scene in Nelson and environs. I initially went there to buy a second-hand treble recorder if he had one, but alas no. Interesting shop with numerous new and second-hand instruments including pianos. Rather fancied the Eavestaff Mini Royal.

    Tuesday, December 21, 2004

    Itinerant Music Teacher

    Whereas in the UK we call ourselves Peripatetic Instrumental Teachers, here in New Zealand they are know as Itinerant Music Teachers.

    This afternoon I rode into town and got soaked, a strong shower, so I nipped into a cycle shop and bought a waterproof.
    My missions for today included finding out about and making arrangements to get me and my bike over to Paton's Rock in Golden Bay for the 29th December until I leave to return to the UK on the 15th January.

    I visited courier offices and remover companies and while cycling I came upon the offices for School Support, plucked up the courage and knocked on the door to enquire about possible work in schools here. They directed me to the Department Of Education Advisory Service offices. Tomorrow I have an appointment at Nelson School Of Music. Perhaps I will know more after that meeting. I haven't seen much of my family in my life and I am thinking of coming here more permanently if I can find suitable work, I have loads of experience and skills to offer, see my CV.

    I then booked my bus tickets through to Takaka for me and my bike, but I will most likely ask to be put off at the top of Takaka Hill and glide to Paton's Rock, yes, I bottled out of doing the climb on the bike.

    Dad seems better today and we played Handel Flute Sonatas at A=415! I had to transpose down a tone with the headjoint pulled out, didn't do too badly. The first time we have played together in over 32 years and that ole magic is still there.

    Monday, December 20, 2004


    This morning I went to pick up my flute from Dave who lives over the valley here and has repadded it for $40, thanks Dave. So this evening I practiced scales and sonorité for 2 hours in the kitchen.

    This afternoon we went for a drive via Stoke and Hope to Wakefield, a town south of Nelson which is 'historic', originally settled by missionaries, which explains the presence of so many churches in such a small place. For worshipers of the 'Minor' too, wish I'd got a photo of the car lot that sold Morris Minors, there were about 50 in the yard. This photo is of a General Store, we drove up to the church but did not venture in. It's the oldest in the South Island. Angela and I wandered down the street and back again to the '4 Square' shop where we bought Ice Creams (Dad's shout). We then drove to a local parkland and ate the Magnums, mine was Mango in blazing sunshine. On the way we had been to Dan's farm to buy tomatoes and potatoes, then to Heatherbells who sold fruit, we bought apricots.

    Back in Nelson I tried to find a music shop with a treble recorder so that I can play Handel Sonatas with Dad on his Zimmerman kit harpsichord (see photo), Helen is trying to borrow a cello for when she comes up. Would be great if we could play together, a real first for the Barker trio. I'll record it on my Mini Disc.

    Sunday, December 19, 2004

    NZ's First Railway


    This was the start of my short ride uphill today. Round Sugar Loaf following the river then branching uphill on a track which was sometimes the course of the railway, no tracks left now though.

    Tried to record Tuis but every time I stopped and found a place to put the mic out of the wind and have a co-operative Tui, flies would descend on me and the mic. So got some great fly recordings. Nevermind, I had a good ride, up and down hill and avoided being chased by a bull. Was a lovely sunny day, back by 5pm to go to the cathedral with Angela, who was reading a Lesson in the Nine Lessons & Carols Service at 6pm. Many of the congregation asked about Dad, who is Music Director. Angela introduced me to a number of people including the Bishop. Really quite a lovely service. My first time inside the cathedral. Was rather mesmerised by the purple light caused by sunlight streaming through a stained glass window directly on to the large wooden crucifix above the alter. It moved through the course of the service. I prayed for Dad... of course.

    Saturday, December 18, 2004

    Santa Claws

    Nelson outdoor market, Santa and his helpers stimulating goodwill and sales, needless to say I bought nothing from the market, but instead went to the local shops and bought some gifts. Obviously can't say what I got here because it would be giving the game away, but will say when appropriate, like, Boxing Day.
    While at the market, I spoke to a monk who practices Shiatsu Zen massage about my Dad. I would dearly love Papa to have some complimentary treatment, particularly with view to helping his change of temprature, he sometimes feels very cold and this I feel is due to his kidney(s).

    Another short ride on my bike today, to deliver the choir register to the substitute as Dad is unable to take choir right now. Tomorrow Angela is reading a Lesson in the Carols & Lessons Service at the cathedral, I am going too.

    Today we ate the last of my birthday cake, the chocolate gateau with locally picked raspberries and a white chocolate "5". As I ate it and shared it, my mind settled on a resolution for 2005, to return to full fitness for the coming phase of my life. The bike will help and my travelling from school to school when I return to Birmingham.

    Friday, December 17, 2004

    John Wesley Lane

    Dad and I couldn't resist taking this photo in Richmond. John Wesley Lane with John Wesley Barker Snr taken by John Wesley Barker Jnr., you get the picture.

    Something about playing on words today.

    There he is, my Dad, upright and a father of whom one can be very proud. Nearby is a Wesley Chapel, whose Minister is called Rev. Jessie Kerr and a public garden. See map here.

    Cafe Cart

    Each day I try and get in a bit of cycling, today I went into town to visit a couple of shops and the library. Then I usually stop at this little Cafe Cart on Selwyn Place opposite Nelson Cathedral where Dad is musical director. Although he is not able to do much at the moment, he hopes he will return. The coffee from these little carts is really reasonable and tasty. Then I power cycle uphill, today via Brougham Street, the weather now has turned warm and sunny, so nice here.

    Stoke (the) Fire Station

    I was rather amused to see this fire station on our way to Richmond near Nelson. We went there to buy my Christmas present, cycling shoes and pedals from Dad and Angela. Also visited a wonderful fruit farm and bought some beautiful blackcurrants, gooseberries and rasberries. Dad was getting more pain today, Angela does everything humanely possible to make him more comfortable. We all wish he pulls through this difficult time of recovery, my (rather feeble) advice has been, "expect pain and don't worry too much".

    Thursday, December 16, 2004

    Tui Community

    I have visited, contributed to, advocated communes all my life, now I hope to visit one soon in Golden Bay, the Tui Community.

    Radio Chomsky

    After hours of listening to the usual very bland media lies and propaganda from mainstream news providors here, finally I have discovered Radio Chomsky, an alternative news for New Zealand at 107.1 FM and available online.

    Coincidently, I'm reading Chomsky too while here, until I picked up The Penguin History of New Zealand by Michael King which is quite a good read. At least it seems objective.I've only read the first 150 pages or so, and clearly there is very little documentation or dependable sources for the history of settlement by Maori and Pakeha. I can't help but be entranced by the description of New Zealand prior to settlement in the 13th Century, visions of Moa and all manner of birds.

    Rain over

    The rain today has subsided and the 3 of us (Angela, Dad & I) went for a little walk to the local shop for the Nelson Mail, size 6 eggs and a passion fruit ice-cream. This photo is a little blurry as it was taken in haste, it's Dad and Angela and Neko the cat outside their house.


    Today it's raining in Nelson, it is pouring down, so it's given me a chance to catch up with friends online using chat and also to reply to a few e-mails and browse the Mountain Biking website.
    When I was researching the possibilities of what to do on a bike here last week, I thought I would cycle up to the bay over Takaka Hill, it being 112 km, I knew it was quite a distance, but thought with some regular training each day around Nelson that it might just be possible.
    However, the trip up with Helen and Kemp on Monday presented me with the reality. Takaka Hill may be possible but only if really fit, and I'm not right now. This time last year perhaps, it is a huge hill with no let up for 11 km. Then at the top is the Canaan Road into the edge of the Abel Tasman National Park and the Rameka Track. So my thinking now, is to cheat and get a bus up to the top of the hill and cruise down through Takaka and onto Patons Rock, where Dad & Angela are spending New Years and where we will be until I return to Birmingham. From Patons Rock I can do various day rides.
    Helen & Kemp took me to Waikoropupu Springs on Tuesday, I found some great photos here of this amazing upwelling spring system in the hills above the bay. tui imageI heard some Tui or Bellbirds occassionally (it's difficult to say which because I did not see them and they imitate each other). The water of the Pu Pu Springs is very clear, we saw a huge salmon cruising about at the bottom. From the car park, duck boarding snakes its way through forest with some interesting information boards at points that illustrate the stages of the return of native forest. The Department Of Conservation manages this and many other sites. I visited their centre in Takaka and intend to return as their work is so vital and interesting. Dad is much amused when I refer to them as the Department of Conversation, it's great to make him laugh.

    Definition: petrichor

    Wednesday, December 15, 2004

    50 - SO

    It was the cake... the huge chocolate gateau with 50 on it... I saw SO. We were at The Boat Shed in Nelson for my birthday celebration. The location, ambience, food and company was all superb. After antipasti of mixed seafood, Kemp, Helen & I had fish of the day - blue nose with garlic mash, Angela a crab and Dad had salmon after a chowder. Helen, Kemp and I stayed on and had some more wine and got a cab back, got a bit drunk and had a great laugh.

    Thank you to all my friends and family who sent greetings on my birthday via e-mail, SMS text messages, cards etc. It was a memorable birthday, I particularly enjoyed my long bike ride to the Honest Lawyer pub which serves 'English' beer. I had intended to ride to Rabbit Island, but the head wind and the lure of the pub changed all that.

    On Monday Helen and Kemp took me to their little house on the bay, Golden Bay up North. Oh my! It is the most beautiful place on earth. Although surrounded by gorse at the moment, their plot is sizable and has loads of potential, perhaps one day it will be a vineyard, for now it's a lovely retreat.

    Saturday, December 11, 2004

    49 last post

    Strange feeling, it's really just a number, but in a little while, if nothing happens to me, I will have clocked up 50 years, as my birth date was 12th December 1954. I did major research on hiring, buying, reselling bikes and as I got closer to purchasing one, Angela & Dad offered to buy one for me for my birthday and Christmas present. Today I finally picked up a 26 speed Avanti ATB and it's riding well. Although there's a slight problem with the gears, I'll take it back in on Monday for Natural High to adjust.
    Been doing a few rides on a borrowed bike and apart from a stiff head wind occassionally, it's a great place for a bike. Main roads are a nightmare, car drivers have little awareness of cyclists here, as in the UK.
    Dad continues to show signs of improvement to his health, with Angela's invaluable and constant support. This evening Helen and I prepared the evening meal, full roast lamb followed by gin and tonic jelly, summer fruit and custard for pudding.
    It's great being here with family and a lovely environment, however, I cannot shake off the 'blue' feeling I've had for the last 5 years. If it wasn't for my work, my heart would feel quite dark. It mainly stems from not being able to be fully at ease and understood. I've been on my own for so long now, I doubt whether things will change. We'll see, 50 years down! Can't believe it.

    Wednesday, December 08, 2004


    Yesterday got into Nelson airport. Oh boy, it IS really beautiful. Warm, sunny. Last night we had a 1st, all of us together for the first time. Dad, Angela, Helen, Kemp and me. Roast lamb dinner, the best lamb I've had in years with my family. Really very special and I've got almost 6 weeks more to go, so I'm a very happy bunny. Helen, Kemp and I went to The Warehouse, which is a budget supermarket, a bit like Carrefour in France, sells almost everything, VERY cheap. I'm looking for how to get a ride. They had bikes for $149. I'm now wandering around the town and taking it all in, weighing up the idea in my mind of cycling through the Abel Tasman National Park up to Golden Bay. It's about 112 km and it goes over a big mountain range, so if I can get a half decent bike, I'm going for it.

    The town is SO clean and very pleasant to be in. I've seen a great 1962 Split screen Type 2, two tone blue.

    Dad is better than he has been since the initial attack. It's really very good to all be together. Right, I'm off now to explore some more.