Sunday, November 29, 2009

The sound of one hand laughing

Have a look at what made me laugh when I was young(er): James Thurber, SJ Perelman, The Goons, The Marx Brothers, John Lennon, Colonel Stoopnagle, Wayne and Schuster.
It's all in another Blog!
Oh those were the days (or laughs)!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tracking down family origins

I have always wondered about Garret Hopper Clearwater’s arrival in NZ. Everyone says he was working for the Weller Bothers from 1838, but I’ve never seen any documentary proof of that. I suspect it is one of those things he told everyone and it has simply been repeated unquestioned.

So I spent a few hours at The Hocken Library recently looking at documents relating to the Weller Brothers. The third document was the hand-written Journal of Octavius Harwood. It contains an entry for January 18, 1841, which refers to [Garret Hopper] Clearwater. This is the INDEPENDENT proof I was looking for that he was at the settlement before the immigrants arrived in 1848. It also supports the 1838 contention.

Although one of my lens wasn’t working properly (hence the slightly out-of-focus images) I took photos:

The other issue was where Margaret Mulligan [the Grandma Mee Dad used to talk about] was buried. Cemetery records indicated Southern Cemetery in Dunedin, along with her husband Samuel Mee (although she outlived him by almost 40 years). I found the block and probable location of the grave, although I suspect it is the one on which the headstone has fallen face-down! See what I mean:

Saturday, November 21, 2009

On The Road Again

Keeping your eyes open when travelling 'on the road' can be rewarding (not to mention safer!) as entertaining sights present themselves.
To illustrate:
Just near Beaumont in Central Otago I came across a delightfully un-PC road name:

Lawrence, as I cruised through, struck me as very 'churched' place, there being a significant number still for such a small place. The Anglicans have the road from Dunedin covered, although the Methodists have made an attempt to make their presence visible!
I was also struck by how widespread and beautifully vibrant the yellow flowers of broom and gorse were.
Although, of course, I'm used to thinking of those 2 plants as beings invasive weeds. I noticed them first on the slopes of the hills overlooking the airport as I arrived in Dunedin, and then began to see them wild as I headed into Central and then in hedgerows in Southland.
The New Zealand farmed countryside is often though of as drab - all browns and greens. But in Crookston, I saw these strident stripes of colour - I've no idea what they were, but they stood out!
And then approaching
Manapouri,there was a fine crop
in full flower:
I took a round-about route from Dunedin to Manapouri, by way of Lawrence to Rae's Junction, then down the Tapanui-Rae's Junction Highway to Gore and thence across to Manapouri. The reason was to visit and photograph some headstones at the Crookston Cemetery. On the short side-road out to the Cemetery, I was held up (briefly) by three small birds, who had decided just to sit down in the middle of the road. Discretion got the better of them and they let me pass, but on the way back they were still wandering about, so of course they feature here as well.
I just had to stop and take this picture as well - I still am not sure just what this entails (no pun intended!), and the mind boggles as to what the 'commissioning might involve.

Of course a trip of mine wouldn't be complete without a visit to a cemetery, which I did at Lumsden. Sometimes it can be depressingly sad. Stuck out on it's own, tucked under the hedge, is a solitary grave - isolated, neglected and lonely. And the headstone tells a sorry tale. I've no idea who these people were, but it seems unfortunate they are remembered only in this manner.

But then cemeteries can also provide entertainment - some names leave you chortling!

Mossburn doesn't have a lot recommend it, you'd have to say. So they grab whatever proximity to fame they can:

And it does have a church named for a French saint - are there any other churches in NZ named after her? I can't recall seeing any.

I had forgotten how hard the countryside is near Manapouri. The tussock looks terrific in the wind (& the day I travelled was windy!)
And the Takitimus are great slabs of scree slope now - erosion holding sway over large areas.
And then my much-travelled car delivered me to Manapouri, where the weather was clear at the township but stormy over the tops across the Lake.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dunedin in the Sunshine!

Believe it - the proof is in the pictures.
I had 2 days in Dunedin, and didn't hire a car until I was ready to leave, which meant I walked everywhere - I'm sure my doctor would be pleased, and I felt better for it.
But while wandering, I took photos, as one does! Of things which interested me, or amused me, or puzzled me.
For example, I had dinner in a lovely Italian restaurant on Princess Street in what was 'The Savoy' - Etrusco. Not only was the food lovely and the service good, but the building is delightful, including as it does stained glass windows with coats of arms. These are apparently English, but they look lovely, And the outside has delightful touches, like the lions holding up the verandah:
Dunedin is full of lovely buildings, and some with unexpected functions:
And then there's the Railway Station. It is apparently Dunedin's most photographed building (according to one brochure I looked at). So of course I did, in company with a group of other tourists! (Although some were just as fascinated by the poppies in the ornamental garden.)
And that's just the outside. What a lot of visitors don't realise, is that it's just as lovely inside and up close. There are a lot of very classy tiles, stanined glass windows, and small decorative details, if you take the time to look:
Outside the Station, in the formal grounds, is a signpost. In a sign of the times, it points to, among other places, Otaru! Any the wiser?

It is in Hokkaido Prefecture, Japan.
Opposite the Railway Station is a gloriously irrelevant piece of graffiti:

I guess it was an important statement to someone at some time!
I was also taken by Dunedin prison. Auckland's Mt Eden Prison looks like a prison should - grim, forbidding, dirty, uninviting. By contrast, Dunedin Prison, could easily be mistaken for a well-maintained warehouse, or a converted apartment building. If you missed the sign, and just glanced at it, you would never know.
(Actually, this is an entrance to the Court, next door to the Prison itself)
Even some of the smaller buildings have aspirations 'above their station' - I mean, it's ONLY 2 stories high, but look at the proportions of the coat of arms!

Some of the buildings are a little quirky, which I liked. A case in point: The Mercure Hotel in which I stayed, has a long history, but it also has some interesting embellishments!

(This is actually the rear of the building)
And then, while walking along Princess St towards South Dunedin, I came across, this little park - very inspirational!
Contrast this: an advertisement for a gig at a local bar, with special memorials to VC winners in Queen's Gardens!
I have tended to associate Dunedin with churches, and certainly there are some very impressive ones, but I was taken by a number of statues on this trip:
Although I'm damned if I know what Victoria's flunky is doing holding a bloody great two-handed sword! Routing the people who were enjoying themselves perhaps?
Churches - I only really spent time gazing at First Church in Moray Place. The day was sunny and warm, the trees in front were still draped in their new fresh spring greenery and so provided a soft framing to one of New Zealand's finer Gothic style churches - certainly one of the most impressive spires!
Perhaps the most puzzling moment came when I glanced at this sign, and then had to do a double-take. It was just along from my Hotel, and, when read carefully is absolutely clear; but it does illustrate the perils of not being careful when deciding on a web address or URL! First glances can be deceiving.