Posts Tagged ‘Titirangi’

Visiting Auckland – May 2013

August 11, 2013

I think I must be a sad disappointment to Ann and Colin.

Ann likes to begin the day briskly: “Well! What’s the plan?”  I so wish I could do that too, and be a person who could answer her properly – but I rarely have a plan, especially first thing in the morning.  My suggestions seemed to strike Ann as rather feeble and inadequate – she likes to do three or four different things in a day, and ideally have a fifth idea up her sleeve.

Ann is a powerhouse of energy.

Ann is a powerhouse of energy.

Even so, we did some lovely, if unlikely, things in 2013.

Last time in Auckland, we had visited the Arataki Centre centre hastily and at the end of a long day, so one of my goals was to go back and see it in more detail.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

It was a chancy, wet-and-dry day, but we had a walk – Ann looked doubtfully at my sandals (they are strong sandals) and wouldn’t let me go on the longer walk over muddy terrain.

They came from a sale in Chateauroux, years ago.  Then, they were stylish. Now, just practical and comfy

They came from a sale in Chateauroux, years ago. Then, they were stylish. Now, just practical and comfy

She was probably right.  Our walk led downhill through the dense forest, past ferns and under tall trees – stunning New  Zealand native bushland.

it was a bit like this

it was a bit like this

We stayed dry-shod, and at the bottom of the hill we met some people in a car who were lost and looking for the Arataki centre.  We gave them careful directions, but never saw them again.  I said it was a complicated city.

That weekend, my wonderful English daughter emailed and told me that she would be having a baby in November – so Ann and I dashed out to buy knitting wool and needles, driving (as usual) miles and miles through Auckland.  (It’s a very drive-around sort of city – partly I suppose to do with its layout around two harbours and various mountains.)

Mt-Eden-655

Rome has seven hills – Auckland has more!)

Ann is a knitter too, and we went to a staggering kind of warehouse for craft, wool and everything, called Spotlight.  The name suggests stage ambitions; amateur dance competitions; pancake makeup; bring on the clowns – all that.

There are amazing and unimaginable crafts out there, especially in New Zealand and Australia.  (Turns out that Spotlight is also well known in Australia).  I felt as if I had discovered a pirate hoard of joyous colour and vulgar bizarrerie all mingled together – and wanted everything of course.  That’s what pirate hoards do – they bring out the greed in us.

Yarn_Knitting_Needles

But I managed to remember the size and fullness of my suitcase and only bought twice as much wool as I actually needed.  (What to buy?  What to leave?  – It has features in common with those ‘packing dreams’ – in which the house is burning and you have to grab only what you can carry.)

———————————————

On a day of heavy downpours I walked up the hill to the slightly hippy, slightly gentrified suburb of Titirangi – a place of coffee shops and alternative small ads where I feel right at home.  There I found a second hand bookshop doing what bookshops do these days: closing down and moving online.  Sadly.

All Books Half Price

(crossed out) followed by

Make me an Offer

followed by

Closed for Lunch.

I came back after lunch, of course.  There ought to be a word for that intense greed that one feels in bookshops – again, I wanted everything, whether I really wanted it or not.  Nothing would fit in the suitcase, but maybe I could stash some around my laptop, in the carry-on bag?  And they wouldn’t be for me exactly – after all, I have been downsizing and throwing out sack upon sack of books – I could give some (lovely presents!) to family in Australia.  I came out with an early edition of The Saint (for my brother); a nice little compact copy of The 39 Steps (valuable once – ‘it’ll only go on the bonfire’ claimed the seller, a witty, somewhat post-prandial man of about my own age, attractive if you are into domineering intellectual booksellers); and The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton by Jane Smiley.

Smiley is a favourite author, and this novel turned out to be clever, informative and funny – a real keeper, even though it was one of those oddly huge, heavy paperbacks that mimic hardback format.  And something else that I’ve now forgotten – more than enough to lug up onto the plane.  Then a peculiarly Antipodean event happened: I paid for the books, and realised that I had no way of getting them home dry.  The bookshop could provide an ecologically sound paper bag.  My borrowed raincoat was already soaked and tight-fitting, and the rain was getting even heavier (hard to believe).  So I left the books with him, to collect tomorrow.  Halfway home I realised that I had given away quite a lot of money (‘make me an offer’ turned out to be an exaggeration) and had neither books nor receipt to show for it.  Oh well – this was New Zealand, and it was all completely OK.  Next morning (he’s not at his best in the mornings) I dropped by and all was well – not exactly a pirate hoard, more of a dragon’s golden lair, but ’twas an honest dragon.

On Sunday kind and perceptive Ann had realised that I’d rather spend a long time in one place than a whole lot of short times in differeent place.  She kindly left me to wander around a fine old house-turned-Art Gallery, Pah Homestead, while she rushed off about her grandmotherly duties.  And came back in time for excellent coffee on the terrace.

Pah Homestead

Pah Homestead

All I had done was browse the house, while she had quartered Auckland by car, zipping to and fro through the weekend traffic. So much more to say about Pah and about the Auckland Art Gallery – I will leave them till a later post.

Next time I go to New Zealand I will have some plans prepared in advance.  So I’ve made a list of things I will take with me.

  1. enough money and time to go for a road trip down the west coast of the South Island and see the fiords;
  2. proper walking shoes so that I can cover distance and interesting ground – even though they are heavy, bulky things to carry;
    good walking shoes

    good walking shoes – don’t talk to me about style!

    These walking shoes are being modelled in Scotland – I wish I had had them with me in New Zealand.

    I said: 'Don't talk to me about style!'

    I said: ‘Don’t talk to me about style!’

    And a good pair of shoes will take you a long way –

    a long way - - -

    a long way – – –

     

  3. a  map of Auckland; (and a bus map)

    The map I take will be more detailed than this.  But you can see how complicated it is.

    The map I take will be more detailed than this. But you can see how complicated it is.

  4. some more ideas of places to go for day trips in and around Auckland;
  5. a raincoat; (for more about my raincoats, see my post “Kindness in Adelaide“)

 

Beasts of the forest and city – Auckland again

April 7, 2011

Auckland: Friday Feb 18th  
Between Green Bay and the alternative atmosphere of Titirangi (charming coffee shops and galleries, and an endlessly interesting community noticeboard) lies a wild green space: the Rahui Kahika Reserve.   It looks forested but the word ‘Reserve’ suggests that it is cared for, and paths roam through it.  The walk up to Titirangi lies beside a busy road, so walking through the Reserve looks like a good option.   The first path leads along the backs of houses, where a council employee is mowing vigorously, wheeling to and fro and flinging curves of chopped green grass through the air.  A little further on is another clipped green path, access to Godfrey Road – still no wilderness – just a cluster of teenagers in school uniform, sitting convivially on the grass and drinking sober cans of pop.  Friday afternoon in Green Bay.  Mowing is everywhere – someone else is mowing in his back yard.  Eventually the path curves deeper into the Reserve, across a little stream and past steeper cliffs, into quiet shaded darkness.  http://chimaera.co.nz/greenbay/001_intro.htmlI  It peters out into something that looks like the tracks you made in the bush when you were twelve, and the last thing you ever wanted to do was to get to a destination. It starts to bend back in an almost imperceptible  way and clearly there is going to be no way through to Titirangi Road, now well above us.  Our map didn’t show contour lines.
http://www.zoomin.co.nz/map/nz/waitakere/titirangi/-rahui+kahika+reserve/
We turn back, and edge along the little stream through the eerie shadows of tall trees. A huge, sudden movement just next to me and a little behind – big soft golden-brown wings flap in the undergrowth and an impossibly large bird lifts low across the path, to land on a branch – so close -.  For a moment I thought it was some kind of bat – maybe a flying fox – but no.  It sat patiently, waiting us out, while I stepped gently back to take photos.

Bird in the underbrush

I wish I could show you how he glowed golden-brown in the beam of sun.  I fell in love with him, perched there so calm and quietly still.  It was hard to believe he was in the right place.  How could he live there – the canopy is dense – how could he ever possibly fly up through all that?  Perhaps we needed to phone the animal protection people.  Could it be a young one? or lost?  Surely big birds need lots of space?  And he sat on, waiting.

he seems to be watching, too

Watching something so fine and large (‘Being earth-brown, earth-golden’) makes me think of D H Lawrence’s poem, ‘Snake’.  It ends:  
And so
I missed my chance with one of the lords
Of life
And I have something to expiate:
 A pettiness.
My littleness is to creep close, and submit him to being photographed.  What an insult.  Perhaps my concern for his wellbeing just masks desire for control?  We looked him up later in the bird book: like every other bird I spot, the Australasian Harrier Hawk is classed as ‘common’.  Well, the breed may be common, but the experience of seeing one was extraordinary.

It wouldn’t really be fair to call the Auckland Choral Society a ‘beast of the city’ – but maybe it fits if you think of the criteria: that it has many heads, is exceptionally long-lived and produces a very rich, musical call.  Anyway, we went to their free ‘taster’ concert: excerpts from programmes to be performed later in the year.  Great fun, especially the singalong. 

The ‘taster’ had ended early in the evening, and failed to satisfy actual physical hunger, but luckily that was the day of the Lantern Festival, celebrating Chinese New Year.  There were crowds and crowds of people filling Albert Park to overflowing and surging down into the little streets nearby: who would have thought Auckland could hold so many?   A party atmosphere filled the bright darkness with hurly-burly, and strange inflatable beasts of the city imaged Chineseness and New Zealand life.

scarlet lanterns welcome the New Year

These are just a few of the displays, and there had been fireworks earlier.

a dragon gateway seems to bring luck to all who pass underneath

I’m not sure what that circle is on the top – maybe a lucky coin? Maybe the moon, or the sun?  I suspect it’s the coin, though, as Chinese good luck seems to be mostly about good health and cash.

Bok Choi, snails and distressingly humanoid chickens

– oh yes – and food.  Eating well is a big part of the Lantern Festival, as we found in the populous side-street of multifarious food stalls.  Not just Chinese food, either, but all kinds of Asian dishes abounded.

Chinese-New Zealand multi-culturalism

I guess these beasts count as edibles along with the other inflated lantern tableaux, but they also symbolise much more.  Chinese techniques and conventions representing iconic New Zealandness.  The medium is the message.


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