Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Wizard of New Zealand.

Photo from Wikipedia, The Wizard speaking in Cathedral Square during December 2006.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wizard_of_New_Zealand

Ian Brackenbury Channell - aka the Wizard of New Zealand, also known as the Archwizard of Canterbury. In the 70s, he was known as the Wizard of Christchurch.

On this Queen's birthday, he is awarded a Queen's Service Medal for services to the community, the man famous for his theories on postmodern cosmology.

The Wizard says the rest of the world will think it strange that New Zealand has bestowed a royal honour on a wizard.

There are not many who can claim that the wizard had been to their house and eaten a meal. It was in the late 1970s, my flatmates and I were having a party. Sitting at the corner was this bearded long hair man, dressed in black business suit, eating my food. I asked who the guy was, and my flat mate said he was the Wizard of Christchurch, and he was a friend of a friend. He didn't wear his Wizard gown, and wizard hat so you couldn't tell he was the Wizard.

The funniest thing I like to watch him is on every census night, he would tell people that the government had no authority to count us. He would take a boat and together with his followers sail out to the ocean to avoid being counted.

He performs rain dances to drought-stricken communities.

He takes considerable pride in one performance in the Australian outback in 2003.

"In each case there was a drought lasting a long time, then the rain dance was performed and within three days a terrific downpour took place and everyone was stunned.

"It was the most absurd situation but it was most fun to do that in the scientific world while others were praying ... I do think the Aborigines were most impressed, however."


Saturday, May 30, 2009


http://skyley.blogspot.com/ Skywatch@Friday

This is our Television transmitter station. The cloud just happened to be on top of it as though a magician is twirling his wand causing a tornado.

Friday, May 29, 2009

sundaystills:powerlines and landscape

This was a misty morning, the clouds came down the Mt Eden Volcano.
This is a solar powered speed warning signal. Why do they need the power lines?
A magnificent australian flower that is ten feet tall. It doesn't need the lines to hold it up.
The photo was the Salvation Army family store, but the power lines want to be on centre stage.

Out in the bush, this structure holds a power transformer. That week, a power company PR educator came to school and told the students that some boys climb up the platformed and got "fried"
This is our television transmitting tower.
A geothermal power station. The power lines are obstructing the view.
Along a country road, light poles on one side, power lines on the other. What a landscape. Can you see that two dots? They are hot air balloons floating somewhere between Hamilton and Cambridge.
Across a tranquil river, even the mist in the morning can't block out the power lines.
Sun set with a pink glow. The power lines and pole say, "I wanna be in this photo."
This is a typical suburban state house built for the poor in New Zealand. The power lines on the main road are underground. It's only when it comes to the house, they have the power line above ground.

It's been wet the whole morning. The poor bird. Why can't the lines be nice and parallel, and the protective seal be perfect instead of peeling off at certain parts and ruining the photo. When I saw the bird, I was hoping it would stay up there long enough for me, Sure he did, as soon as I finished snapping, he flew away.

This is a reddish sun set in Autumn. Those things sticking out. They are power poles.

This week's challenge is landscape ruin by power lines. There is not going to be much commentary as some words are censored, except the bird photo.

http://sundaystills.wordpress.com/category/the-next-challenge/Power lines and landscapes

Thai Tom Yum Soup.

In my post http://annkschin.blogspot.com/2009/05/friday-shoot-out-red.html
I posted one of my favourite soup, Thai Tom Yum Khong soup. Tom Yum is basically a sweet sour spicy soup. Khong is prawn. You can have a basic soup base, and then add your own fish, prawns, chicken, pork,mussel and so on.

I have many friends and relatives who are Westerners, so depending on who I am feeding, I can make my soup so hot that you have fire coming out of your ears, or I can make a mild soup which is more suitable to a Westerner's palate.

Apart of baking, my cooking can be modified. If you don't like garlic, you don't have to use it.

My basic ingredients:
2 cloves of garlic crushed
1/2 onion roughly chopped
1 half of your thumb size ginger, smashed.
Brown the above in 1 tablespoon of cooking oil. (Don't use Olive oil)

1 medium sized tomato cut into 8 pieces.
1 tablespoon of instant Tom Yum Paste, more if you want it more spicy.
pour one pint of boiling water to the above.
1 Tablespoon sugar,
1 teaspoon salt, (your taste)

If you are in a hurry, once the soup is boiling, and tomatoes are soft.
Add your meat or seafood, meat should be cut into thin slivers, so don't cook too long)
You can use either shelled prawns or leave the shell on. If shell, cook very quickly.
sliced mushroom.
If you are not in a hurry, let the soup simmer.

Optional ingredients, if available in your area. Cilantro, (Chinese Celery), lime or lemon juice, tamarind paste or juice.
Just experiment until you get it to suit your taste.

Serve with steamed rice or soften rice vermicilli or bean/cellaphane noodles aka Tung Fern.

This is for all of you, especially you, patty 

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Queen's birthday weekend.

This weekend is Queen's birthday weekend. We have Monday off. The students are told that it is not actually the Queen's birthday. Her birthday is in April.

The statue I have here is not Queen Elizabeth. It is her ancestor, Queen Victoria. You can find the Statue at Albert Park. The bronze statue of Queen Victoria was unveiled in 1899 to mark the sixtieth jubilee of her reign. It was the first statue of her in the country. Queen Victoria was a very powerful Queen and reigned a time when the Sun never set on the British Empire.

Very often, you see birds perched on the heads of statues. Birds have no respect. They leave droppings all over the head. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Back packers accommodation

In my younger days, we travelled and stayed with the YHA, youth hostel association. It was quite interesting travelling, eating and sleeping with young and not so young people from all over the world.

In Auckland, there are many back packers accommodation. I thought this one looks quite European.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Walking or Traveling Iris

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Mellow Yellow Monday


The rules are pretty simple:
1. Every Monday post a photo with a little or a lot of yellow.
2. Please only post photos you have authority to use.
3. Include a Mellow Yellow Badge or a link to this blog in your post.
4. Leave the link to your Mellow Yellow post below on Mr. Linky.
5. Visit other blogs listed ... comment & enjoy!

When to Post:
Mister Linky will be available every Sunday at 5:00 pm EST and will remain open until Wednesday.

A bee on a yellow dandelion flower.  I have followed many bees as they go about in my garden. Eventually, I managed to take this photo. 

Sand dunes at Bethells

Drive 30 to 40 minutes out west of Auckland, and you walk another kilometer of desert sand, you get to the sand dunes. After a tiring climb, you enjoy a nice swim at Lake Wainamu http://annkschin.blogspot.com/2009/01/lake-wainamu.html Or just round the corner, you swim at the beach.

Auckland is never far from the sea.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Ferry Crossing

We were lucky, everytime I sailed the ferries from Wellington in the North Island to Picton in the South Island, and back again, we had excellent weather. Even in the best conditions, the Cook Straits is very choppy. This is because of the wind tunnel effect of the two mountain ranges on either side.

These photos from my archives taken in December. looks can be deceiving, the straitts look so calm.

Snow, rain and gales bring winter chill

New Zealand Herald
4:00AM Sunday May 24, 2009
By Trudie McConnochie

High seas lash the Wellington coastline. Photo / Getty Images

High seas lash the Wellington coastline. Photo / Getty Images

Your Views Have we missed out on Autumn this year?

Residents were evacuated, buildings damaged and travel plans disrupted as snow, rain and gales lashed much of the country yesterday.

The capital bore the brunt of the storms, with Cook Strait ferry sailings suspended due to huge swells, About 700 people were stranded on either side of the strait yesterday as high winds and heavy seas prevented Interislander and Bluebridge sailings. Flights into Wellington airport diverted to Palmerston North and winds gusting up to 140km/h damaging power poles and blocking Blue Mountains Rd in Upper Hutt.

Electricity was cut briefly to about 1200 homes in Ngauranga, Johnsonville and Plimmerton after branches and debris fell onto power lines.

Wellington police advised motorists to avoid the city's south coast as huge waves washed over roads and damaged boats

20 hour famine

Yes, this is 20 hours famine. Sam and his young friends from aged 10-12 from Mt Albert Baptist Church did this 20 hour famine instead of the World Vision 40 hours famine that the older people did.

Sam started his famine 5 minutes behind the rest because he had his karate session. At the break of the famine, he had to wait 5 minutes. Seeing his ravishingly hungry friends tuck in their pan cakes must have been a looong 5 minutes. 

The kids slept over in the church hall, and cooked the pancakes in the morning. He told me that they were told to do activities together but not strenuous  ones.

When he came back, he said," It wasn't that bad, I only missed two meals and we had loads of barley sugar sweets."  But he must have stuffed himself so much at breakfast. We went to a nice restaurant for lunch. He didn't feel hungry. 

To all the kids and their leaders, Good Job aka Ka Pai .

Baa Baa Black Sheep


I have been on a look-out for Barry, http://anexplorers.blogspot.com/

for a black sheep after I posted my daughter G's lamb concert-performance-by-kindy-kids. 

Yes, I found not one, but three black sheep  for you  Barry, at the Cornwall park. I wish I had included some white sheep as well.

Like you, there are many places in Auckland that I can go to relax. I had to ask the water engineer to stop the car so I can take the photos.  Luckily, he is now used to me asking him to stop the car when ever I see something interesting.

Travelling in the car is not the best way to take photos. Some days, I will take my bus Number 11 (which is your own two legs) and take my photos. 

Cornwall Park is a landscaped park designed for the recreation and enjoyment of all the people of New Zealand.

The park is renowned for its landscape design and its wide variety of mature trees. It is centred on a volcanic cone, One Tree Hill, with many interesting geological features. A pre-European Maori fortification (pa) was built on the cone, many features of which can still be seen.
The park's donor, Sir John Logan Campbell, is buried on the summit of One Tree Hill alongside the obelisk. The Maori name for the hill is Maungakiekie - mountain of the kiekie. Kiekie (Freycinettia banksii) grows as an epiphytic climber or vine. Immediately adjacent to the Park is One Tree Hill Domain, administered by Auckland City Council. The two parks are run under different management but with very similar objectives. Visitors can experience them as one park.  

Friday, May 22, 2009

Bring Back Kevin: 2

It's a case of Compassion verses Legality.
When I went out last evening, the news was Kevin's "new" owners refused to budge and let Kevin even to attend his owner's funeral. I am so glad that some of my fellow bloggers have the same opinion as me.

Some people say that Kevin belongs legally to the new "owner". I beg to differ. Where's the compassion. Two person offered $500 each to the "new" owner, and a pedegree dog breeder even offered a labrador puppy worthed $1000. Their kind offers were declined.

Once a cat disappeared for a few years. Her new "owners" took care of her and loved her as their own. It was like a miracle that the original owners found her many kilometers away. The "new" owners happily let the cat return to the original family. It was a story that ended happily ever after. It made National TV.

You may wonder why I am so passionate about Kevin. Many many moons ago, when I was seventeen, my eldest sister Rose and her boyfriend were walking along Queensway home. About one and half kilometers away, a big mongrol dog followed them home.

We were then living in a cul de sac about one hundred meters from the main road. We fed the dog, and it played with our dogs. Dog knew it didn't belong to us, but was happy to eat our food. Each time, Mum drove the car, it followed her until it reached the main road. It retreated back to our house. He did the same when I cycled to school.

One late afternoon, I went with my sister Margaret to my girlfriend's house some five kilometers away. As usual, Dog followed us to the main road. This time, he didn't retreat to our house but followed us on our bicycles. He stayed with our bicycles when I was at my friend's house. We cycled on the same road where Dog had followed Rose home.

Somewhere along Queensway, a blue Japanese car pulled over about fifty feet from us. Dog dashed to the car. They opened the car door, Dog jumped inside.

We could see pairs of accusing eyes. Eyes that shot daggers, the car sped off. The passengers at the back stillstaring at us.

Margaret and I were upset. They didn't stay back to thank us for taking care of Dog. Instead, we could tell they were thinking we stole Dog.

Mum consoled us when we bawled our eyes. We were good samaritans giving Dog a good home. We knew Dog was never our dog. We just gave it food and shelter. Despite the months it stayed with us, he always knew he belonged somewhere else. Otherwise he won't have followed us to the main road. Mum said we should rejoice that Dog found it's owners.

I hope Kevin's "new" owner or their friends read this blog, and appreciate how the late Peter's sister feels.

The dog in this photo is a much loved dog in Australia. I needed a dog's photo for this post.

The story of Kevin is at the last post. It was on television news for two evenings.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Bring back Kevin

A plea from a grieving family (Source: Close Up)

This news came through last night. I am not a happy person. People have different opinions of whether Kevin, the dog should be returned to his master's family. I like one of my friend who said, if Kevin was a child, he would be returned to his family.

Close Up

Bring back Kevin - That's the plea from a grieving family.

Kevin is a dog, who followed his beloved master Peter into the bush. It was their last trip together. Three weeks later Peter's body was discovered, but there was no sign of Kevin his black labrador.

After much investigation Peter's family now know Kevin was picked up by the pound and already re-homed.

They are now desperate to get Kev back in time for tomorrow's funeral, but the district council and the new family aren't helping.

They say Kevin is happy in his new home and he won't be returned.

Michael Holland with the family's plea, and Graham Young, who's in charge of animal services for the South Taranaki District Council, speaks from Hawera.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


The buzz word in NewZealand today is cold, cold and more cold. It is only May, or late autumn in New Zealand. But we are feeling the first of our winter cold. There is snow fall in certain areas.The freezing air is blowing from Antartica and is creating havoc in certain places, making the roads slippery from the black ice. Some lucky children get a day off and enjoy their snow fights and snow balls.

To those of you in Canada or Alaska or Minnesota, it is nothing. I can't imagine how I had survived the Canadian cold when it was a record minus 28 degrees. But then I was a twenty year old kid.

Whakapapa ski fields in Mt Ruapehu is a great place to be if you are into winter sports. My kids want to go again this year. The snow was beautiful, but they still had snow machines. This was last August's photo. (Maori pronounciation of WH is F)

I wrote a chapter of my book where they went skiing.

ESL/ESOL: English as a second language

I am an ESOL teacher, and I have students of all ethnicity. This week, I was teaching the four seasons to the younger ones and I took them out to the school grounds to pick leaves for our Autumn tree.
A little girl told me that some one had died and buried in the trees. I realised that she was refering to the memorial plague we have. I took her group and I told them that it was a memorial, and there was nobody buried there. The plague was to remember the ex students and teachers who fought in the World War Two.
She was very relieved. There are some cultures that do not like to be among the dead. I don't know if she had been afraid especially when she saw that a boy was told off by a teacher for stepping on the plague. I just told her it was respect for this plague that we don't step on it.
This incident actually reminds me of my own experience. My secondary school, Methodist school was and still is located behind a Muslim cemetry. As a young kid, I was quite frightened of it. Up till this day, I do not undersand why the muslim tombstones were so closed together. Some one told me that muslins do not have coffins and they bury their dead vertically.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


I googled searched and contacted Cintos who had the above photo when I posted the antique car  
Tony's fifty year old car is the exact model of our first car. Ours had a dark blue roof and a greyish body. I emailed Cintos to ask if Tony had more photos of his car, but sadly, Tony had only this photo. He must be pretty pleased with it. He kept in in pristine condition.
My siblings are very passionate when we talk about that car. It's license plate was S899. It was the number eight hundred and ninety nine car in our town, Sibu. It even had tiny wings that we joked that we have our mini aeroplane car.

Big cars

Fellow blogger Mary posted on her maryswritingnook memories-of-beautiful-cars.html She had such beautiful big cars. I chatted with her that in Borneo when I was growing up, we would just admire the timber tycoons with their big cars. We called aeroplane cars as they had wings at the back.

I remember this photo which I took about two weeks ago. At that time, it was waiting at the traffic lights and it must have stirred up memories of those days when my dad drove a little Fiat and we wished we had one of these big aeroplane cars.

In the 70s, when I was a student at Windsor University, sometimes my friends rented an oldsmobile car. It was big, and it was the closest I got to riding in  big cars.

Old Vespa scooter

This is for Alice of Singapore  who has fond memories of her late uncle and his scooter.
Many overseas visitors are surprised at the modern fleet of vehicles in Singapore. This is because the government discourages car ownership. You can own a car for ten years. After that, you either scrap the car or pay a hefty sum to be able to drive it. It is called Certificate of Entitlement or the COE.
I suspect it applies to motorcycles too, and scooters had died a natural death, superceded by the modern motorbikes.
Alice, I have another photo, when I find it, I will post it for you, to LOL about you aunty and her scarf.
My dad used to own a British made bike, he gave it up, when I guess my mum lost her scarf too, because she went to a function with a messy hair do after spending an afternoon in a beauty salon. Those were the days before helmets.
I used to go to school on the bike for the first few months of my life. In the tropical Borneo, that wasn't very safe as there were lots of storms. When dad bought that old Fiat, I was so grateful.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Cotter House, luxury retreat.


I just attended a wedding, and was walking to meet the water engineer who unromantically had walked ahead of me. I chanced upon this sign Cotter House,  and unfeminely, I climbed up the bench of a neighbouring building to see what this luxury retreat was about. Most of the building is hiddened by trees and bush. I could not show you the downstairs.

After googling this building which is in an older but most expensive area of Auckland, I had a dream. I dreamt in my next life, I would marry some one rich and famous. I would have the most lavish wedding here, and every year, I will be pampered during my retreats to rest from my hectic shopping days. In Singapore, such a life of leisure is called Tai-tai. I am sure if I told the water engineer, he would say, dream on, no body is stopping you.

Do click on the link, to see if this might just be your next holiday spot. LOl

Auckland's finest luxury hideaway . 

Experience a warm welcome at Cotter House and feel pampered in the wonderful historical surroundings. Relax in fabulous 5-star accommodation and enjoy the refined hospitality of your MULTI-LINGUAL host. Fluent French, English and Spanish, Mandarin, Korean and Cantonese spoken, beside Italian, and some German and Portuguese.

THE PERFECT CHOICE: Intimacy and seclusion

Cotter House is a delightful city boutique lodge where you can indulge and unwind in the luxury of times gone by. It is not an event centre nor entertainment facility but a unique NZ heritage icon recognised as one of NZ's top luxury retreats, a finalist of the World Travel Awards. Filled with impressive works of art and period antiques, the house offers an ideal setting for fairytale honeymoons.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Rotunda at Auckland Domain


I have a love affair with Rotundas. I think this is because  way back before I was born, just after the war, my Dad went to singapore and took a photo of the Rotunda in the Singapore Botanical gardens. There were no rotundas where I was growing up in Borneo. 

Now, everywhere I go, and if I see a rotunda, I have to take a photo of it.

This one at at the Auckland Domain. The Auckland Domain helps bring the sounds of summer alive during the council's annual Music in Parks series.
Drake Jazz at the Rotunda
is Auckland’s longest running annual jazz festival. 

This year the series boasts 12 weekly jazz concerts set in the historic Auckland Domain Band Rotunda.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Giant stones of Hamilton.

I was visiting Hamilton, where fellow blogger Pete comes from. I saw huge columns of stone at the Hamilton gardens which make me think of the Stonehenge. The water engineer won't stop the car so I managed to take only this photo.

There are 21 columns 

 In April 2005 a major artwork was completed at the eastern entrance to Hamilton Gardens, at the corner of Cobham Drive and Hungerford Crescent. It is the work of two internationally renowned artists. Sculptor Chris Booth who is based in Keri Keri but has undertaken major commissions in Holland, Australia, USA, Italy and Spain. The other artist, Diggeress Te Kanawa, seldom strays from her Te Kuiti home but has become renown for her role in preserving traditional Maori weaving techniques and patterns.

The eroded forms of the ignimbrite escarpment at Hinuera gave inspiration for the 21 columns. It was appropriate to use this stone because I'm told the erosion of this material over thousands of years has formed much of the land of the Waikato region, carried and deposited by the Waikato river. The land of Hamilton Gardens is beside the river. The stone is symbolic of this earth.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bethells Beach, New Zealand

This is one of the water engineer's photos. I used to complain about his engineering photos.  Now I am glad he took it. The rock formation amazes me.

We often go to Bethells. We climb the sand dunes and swim either in the sea or the lake. That's Sam in the front and me at the back.

Farm visit

My sisters Rose and Elizabeth went on a farm visit in Australia. Everything in Oz is very big, and in this case, very tall.

I checked with my brother Joseph who took Rose and Elizabeth to the visit. This is what he told me,

Wheat or Sorghum Silo in Goondiwindi (pronounced as GUN DE WINDY)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mothers' day

We, in New Zealand celebrated Mothers' day before the rest of the world, by virtue of our location. A hospice in Ponsonby invited people who had lost their mum to come for a service. I was thinking of attending, but the weather was too wet and cold. I decided not to go. I remember my mum who had died twenty one years ago.

This morning, my church Mt Albert Baptist Church had a special service. During the communical service, the leader led us to pray for many things. She also prayed for those who had lost their mums, and for those who had lost children. I belong to both. Mothers' Day holds a different meaning for me. I thought of my sisters and also my relatives who have lost their children.

During the service, there was a game where if you found a heart under your chair, you could come up for a gift for your special person. I laughed when I saw a man saying there was no mum in his family. He and his wife had no children. Then he said, " I have a mum." and he went to redeem his gift for his mum who was also worshipping here. I thought it was so sweet. I spoke with him and his sister after the service. It would be a dilemma, if he had children, and he would have to choose between giving it to his wife or his mum.

I also started a new tradition. When I was on duty at the creche last month. There was this teenaged daughter of a missionary couple. She was like a little mum to her two little siblings.They were visiting and the kids won't leave her side. I told her a Chinese Custom  that a mother gets a gift on her children's birthday, because it was her day of suffering. I told A. and her mum J. that because of A, J became a mum. Therefore A. deserved a gift and I gave her one especially when she was so good with her siblings.

Happy Mothers' Day!!