Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I wonder if Goldie could have played for the Phoenix?

We have three cats. One of the older cats is called Goldie.
All the cats have different personalities. Goldie is the nosy and sociable one. Whenever visitors arrive, one of the cats will disappear, one will ignore them, but Goldie will come and investigate and say hello. She may even adopt one of them as a cushion or seat if they stay in one place for a while.
She is also inclined to appear whenever we have dinner, and likes to help with the cooking. Sometimes, when no-one is watching, she will succeed in sampling our food.
And when we're in the backyard, relaxing, with guests, or pottering about doing things, she is sure to appear and will probably get involved if she can.
So, last weekend, we had had a canopy up to provide shade in the backyard. When it was time to take it down, Goldie came to help - of course! She nosily investigated the box with the poles, and wanted to sit under the canopy when it was on the ground.
There happened to be a small ball lying about the yard as well, so, being a clever footballer, she seized the opportunity to combine football with burrowing - chasing, kicking, falling over, and following all being integral to how Goldie plays football.
And when the ball got lost, or she got a little tired, she sneakily resorted to her time-honoured trick of falling onto the canopy and wrestling with it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Taupo is ... well, Taupo!

It promotes itself as 'The Great Lake' and as at 'the centre of it all'. It is both these and more.
IMG_7955It is without doubt a glorious spot beside an impressive lake - a huge expanse of water.

While the lake doesn't have the scenic grandeur of, say Lake Manapouri or Lake Tekapo, it is nonetheless accessible, close to alpine activities in winter, and a magnet with those who like their activities water-based.

Interestingly, there is a noticeable absence of tour-groups - especially the mass presence of Korean, Chinese or Japanese tourists one encounters in Rotorua. The two centres clearly target different market segments - Rotorua looks to the Asian tour-group market and shows them the Maori and geothermal attractions; while Taupo appeals to the domestic family and foreign freedom holidaymakers interested in activity- and especially water-based attractions, or just lazing by the lake.

So we spent a week there in early January. The lake is the centre-piece, so we walked alongside it each day while others played above or around or in it.


The shore lends itself to swimming as many of the swimming spots are 'naturally heated'


As the days wind down into evening the lake and surrounds can provide a stunning vista.


Unfortunately, not everythings goes according to plan, and occasionally there are blackspots in the idyll.


We didn't just stay by the Lake. Desiree went to the hot pools, and we went to see an historic site at Opepe, an Historic and Scenic Reserve. Although the historic elements aren't particularly well preserved, it is a very pleasant walk through some typical native forest with its dense undergrowth and towering canopy trees.


After a couple of days on our own, Jayne & Nicky joined us.


I didn't visit the pub, but I did have a wander about - the 'circus' was a riot of vibrant colours.


Later in the week we took a day trip to Rotorua to visit Desiree's sister Adrienne and her daughter Tania - actually it was to visit Tania's new son Ben, and to see Tania & Colin's idyllic lakeside location. More water, food, leavened with a little primal excitement!


Tania & Colin have a lovely dog - a husky called Flossy.


She is a lovely friendly and quiet dog. But during the course of the afternoon she became increasingly agitated and interested in something up a tree at the water's edge. Now, I know dogs don't climb trees, but Flossy was doing her best!


It turns out a dumb possum had climbed the tree, which activity sparked Flossy's excitement. As we became aware of what was happening, the possum made a break for safety - fat chance! Flossy apprehended it, released it when told to, so that the possum could be shot. After it's fur was retrieved (it's fetching $NZ110 a kilo at present), Flossy was allowed to munch on the bones, which she did under the watchful eye of a nosy magpie!


The final act of the week was to say farewell to the swans and ducks on the foreshore as we headed homewards.