Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Chess in Cathedral Square

Particularly in the summer months, Cathedral Square brings together people from all over the world. One of the ways people get to meet each other is through the playing of a game of chess. You can take part regardless of your age and the language you speak - its a great ice breaker!

Christchurch Trams

Another excellent way to see the city is to take a ride on the tram. They run on a circular route taking in many of the cities landmarks. The drivers give a running commentary and are a mind of information on the history of Christchurch. There are many varied and vintage trams in the cities collection and there is even a restaurant car which serves dinner in the evening as it travels around the city.

The River Avon

One of the many charming things about Christchurch is the River Avon which meanders its way through the city centre. There are some enchanting views from the parks and walkways that run along its side.
Tourists can explore the delights of the river by hiring a punt complete with Edwardian punter.
The river is teaming with fish and other wildlife too - it's a little gem!

Monday, October 29, 2007

School Summer Hockey

With the start of summer comes the start of the school summer hockey season. North Christchurch schools play in a league that meets at the Harewood Hockey Club. A number of school teams battle it out every Thursday evening on the astroturf. The facilities at Nunweek Park are absolutely excellent.
Above you can see Jake giving the ball a good slog up the field. He really enjoys his hockey!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Where a zebra crossing costs much less than £114,000!

I was not particularly surprised when I read an article in the Daily Mail newspaper that said the UK Highways Agency spends £114,000 building each and every zebra crossing!http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=489962&in_page_id=1770 You have to conclude that to spend over NZ$300,000 on a zebra crossing, the POM's must be over engineering their traffic schemes or simply wasting their (your!) money.

Thankfully Kiwi's do things rather differently and take a minimalist approach when designing zebra crossings.

Two dropped kerbs, a bit of white paint for the road markings, two striped poles with a reflective liminus round flat disk at the top facing the direction of on-coming traffic and the job is done. There is no electrical work, nor is there an annual electricity bill to pay and lets not forget there are no associated CO2 emissions that contribute to gobal warming either! The one pictured above is a deluxe model and has a third pole - it comes complete with a pedestrian safety island!

Kiwi zebra crossings work just as well as UK zebra's but they cost well under £114,000! I would be surprised if this one cost more than NZ$15,000, that's just over £5,000!

No wonder my council rates are so low!

Monday, October 22, 2007

48 hours into Jamboree on the Internet

48 hours in and the Bishopdale & Harewood scouts are still at it! We have been using IRC to chat with scouts from across the world. Contacts include rangers, scouts, guides, cubs and keas from Australia, the Maldives, India, South Africa, Holland, Malta, Sweden, Finland, UK, Norway, Greenland, Iceland, the USA and many places in between.

One of my favourite contacts were a bunch of cubs from New South Wales in Australia whose leader was making his cub pack pedal on a bicycle to generate the power to keep them online!

Great fun has been had by all. We have two hours to go before the event draws to a close and we start to pack-up the camp.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The 90 Mile Beach, Speed Limits & Big Waves

This is no joke. You can drive at 100kph on the beach. The 90 Mile Beach (which is only 57 miles long - work that out if you can!) at the top of the north island is used as a road. Coaches, trucks and cars daily trundle up and down. But you need to be careful - the truck below was hit by a freak wave the day before and was rolled over!

We were told that in a typical season at least one tourist coach will be lost to the sea.

New Zealand Real Ale

I think I'll have a nice cup of tea thanks!

Scout Jamboree on the Internet

The Bishopdale & Harewood Scout Troup are taking part in the Jamboree on the Internet (http://www.joti.org/). The scouts have been making contact with other scouts across the world. The camp is being held at a local school that has some excellent facilities for hosting this kind of event.

Even more remarkable is that all the computers have been donated by individuals, businesses and even a school who gave the troop six Apple Mac's. We are running various flavours of Linux, Microsoft Windows and Mac OS.

The 34 scouts taking part will be staying online for the next two days. So I guess I'm not going to get much sleep (poor me!) although I am looking forward to the World Cup rugby final and Andrew's pancakes and pizza!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Cut your Tax Bill - emigrate to NZ from the UK!

A new study from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris has provided provisional figures for the respective tax takes of their member countries as a proportion of gross domestic product (GDP) for 2006. Although full figures are not yet available, New Zealand has the 13th lowest tax take at 36.5%.

The United Kingdom was the 9th most taxed country. The Kiwi's, German's, Spaniards, Portuguese, American's, Canadian's, Mexican's, Korean's, Greek's, Luxemburger's, Slavs, Turks and even the Irish all pay less tax than the poor British!

For more information follow the link below:


Lord of the Forest

One of the highlights of the Kauri Coast is the superb Waipoura Forest. Managed by the Department of Conservation, the forest covers 9105 hectares and abounds with rare New Zealand flora and fauna. One of the many things you can see here are the mighty kauris - New Zealand's biggest trees.
A fully grown kauri can reach 60 metres and have a trunk five metres or more in diameter. They are slow growing and some kauris are 2,000 years old. , The "Lord of the Forest"shown above, is the largest kauri tree in New Zealand and is estimated to be 1,200 years old.

You can find out more information from http://www.doc.govt.nz/templates/PlaceProfile.aspx?id=34423

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Who needs Snow?

To the north of 90 Mile Beach on the north island of New Zealand are some of the biggest sand dunes you are ever likely to see! They are absolutely awesome for sledging!

Enough said ........

Monday, October 15, 2007

Seagar's in Oxford Cook School & Cafe

Should you visit Canterbury, one of the 'must do things' is to enjoy an excellent lunch at Jo Seager's Cook School and Cafe in Oxford (http://www.seagarsatoxford.com/). Jo has become a New Zealand household name following the success of her television cooking series Real Food for Real People. More information about her can be found on her website (http://www.joseager.co.nz/).
Whenever possible, the cafe cooks with local produce .... they also have an excellent selection of locally produced wines. The food is simply mouth-watering and the service is just excellent.
Jo's husband, the chef and all the staff will make you feel very welcome - we have even met Jo on previous visits. There is also shop where you can buy a range of quality cooking utensils and, of course, Jo's fabulous cook books.
I guarantee you will enjoy the whole experience and it comes highly recommended!

An Inside View of the House

Most houses in NZ are open plan. This shows the view from the kitchen into the Dining and family room.

This is the view from the lounge into the family and dining room.
The hub of the house .... the study. We cannot get broadband from NZ Telecom so we are going to put a radio antenna on the house pointing at the Port Hills (25km away) to receive broadband from Scorch Communications. (http://www.scorch.co.nz/)

The master bedroom and walk in wardrobe from the ensuite bathroom.

The guest room with ensuite bathroom.

The two childrens bedrooms.

And finally, a view of the garage looking into the laundry.

House Build Progress Report

Bricks have been seen this morning up at section so things are progressing along very nicely.

A Shed in Oxford that likes being the Centre of Attention


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Tekapo Calling

We all stayed at Lake Tekapo for the weekend. Tekapo is located in the middle of the south island. Tekapo has recently applied to the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation to have its skies declared a World Heritage park. The area in and around the MacKenzie Country town is largely undeveloped and the view from its observatory boasts some of the clearest star-gazing skies in New Zealand. There is a really good cafe at the observatory too, but if you are thinking of visiting please be careful, the wind might literally blow you away.

Gondola Cable Car

Christchurch has the Gondola cable car (http://www.gondola.co.nz/) that runs from Ferrymead to the top of the Port Hills. From the top you can see both the Port of Lyttelton and Christchurch and the Canterbury Plains.

A View of Canterbury

The view from the Port Hills of the Canterbury Plains is totally stunning.

Holiday to the Gold Coast Australia

For less that the cost of a holiday to Spain you can fly across the Tasman to the Gold Coast. The Gold Coast is near Brisbane in Queensland on the western coast of Australia. Along with some beautiful golden beaches (all with lifeguards aka BayWatch!) there are some awesome theme parks. We visited Sea World, Wet'n'Wild and Movie World. We would certainly go again!

The Pump Shed

One of the things that every rural property has is a pump shed. The pump shed houses a water pump that pumps the water from the 25000 litre water tank into the house, and in our case, also houses all the electrics from the submersible pump down the well some 50 metres away. The choice was buy a galvanised shed from one of the diy stores or do something myself. It is particularly windy up at our section (especially when the nor'wester blows in late October and November) so I decided to do something myself.

I put in a concrete base, threw together a 2' by 2' wood frame, got some sheets of 12mm plywood, cut it to size and topped it off with some corragated sheeting. Alas the wood stain ran out with 15 cm to go on the last door!

Rush Hour Traffic

It still amuses me intensely when the Cantabrian's start complaining about the traffic. A 10 minute delay is horrendous as it then takes the poor Kiwi's twice as long to get into work! Needless to say, I haven't missed the A63 once!

Christchurch to Greymouth (and back again)

On Friday I had to drive over to Greymouth on the west coast of the south island. Its a round trip of 550km but well worth it. Some of the views are fantastic - I hope you enjoy them!