We had a biggish earthquake in my town a couple of days ago. No surprises really, as my town happens to be Wellington, in New Zealand. For those that don’t know, New Zealand is basically made from earthquakes, and it’s still evolving – quite a lot to do with being right on top of two of earth’s tectonic plates that just happen to be moving around a bit, the Pacific Plate and the Australian Plate. (I do wish those two could get along better).
The quake was 6.5, located nearby in the Cook Strait, at a depth of 13km. I grew up here, and as a result have been in more earthquakes than I can count, however I have to say that this was the biggest I’ve experienced, and it was pretty scary. Anything up to a 5, and I’m able to be fairly blasé about it, however I have now discovered that a 6.5 is a bridge too far. I was scared, alarmed and generally unsettled. The unsettled part of course not being helped by the multitude of aftershocks that occur after a largeish quake.
Friends, Romans, Countrymen…the edifice in the background is one of the Parliament Buildings
It’s Sevens weekend in Wellington. If you don’t know what Sevens is, it’s actually Rugby Sevens, a version of rugby union with 7 players and short games. That’s enough about the sports, now for why it matters in Wellington. For reasons no-one can remember, the Wellington Rugby Sevens fans started dressing up to go to the matches, and I don’t mean dressing up in the Ascot sort of way, more like a pantomime sort of way.
Men in tights, with tatts
People travel, and dress up, in packs to go to the games, and it is now such a strong tradition that if you don’t wear a costume, you’ll stand out like…like…someone wearing a costume. Only you’re not. Moving on to the pack mentality, the dressing up is often done in groups, which results in 17 gingerbread men, 15 Care Bears, 12 monks, 6 french maids, 9 surgeons etc. I’m sure there have been 8 maids a-milking, 7 swans a-swimming as well.
Wellington Summer City 2013/ASB Gardens Magic
It really was magic in the gardens. The gardens being Wellington’s Botanic Garden, the magic being music and lighting installations, part of Wellington City Council’s Summer City programme. The concerts in the Gardens are always very pleasant affairs, to which you can bring a sandwich, a bottle of bubbly and/or a gourmet picnic; your call on that one. They’re free, the music’s lovely, the gardens are at their best and people are well behaved, so it’s just nice nice nice.
I’ve just been to Tulip Sunday, at the Wellington Botanic Garden, in New Zealand. You will of course have spotted the Dutch connection between Zealand and Zeeland, and won’t be at all surprised to read that it was all very Dutch in the garden today…the Dutch Ambassador, children doing traditional dances, and stalls with Dutch goodies. Lots of people attended – it’s a very Wellington thing to get into events like this and Wellingtonians are generally guaranteed to be a good audience for whatever might be going on around town.
The Dutch Ambassador did point out that tulips weren’t originally Dutch, and that they are now grown very successfully in the South Island of New Zealand, but hey – we’ll give them their day anyway. The kids doing some traditional dances were sweet, although some were so tiny that they fell off their clogs a few times and had to be carried from the stage.
Last night I went to the fascinating Wellington Lux lighting event on the Wellington Waterfront. (Runs from 6pm to 11pm, 1 to 9 September)
This “teaser” event consists of four lighting installations, using new and interactive technology. The idea is to sample it this year, and grow it into the future…bring it on, please!
Publicity image from coronation
I’ve just been to St Paul’s Cathedral for a Coronation Concert for the Jubilee Year. Before my atheist republican friends rush around for an intervention, I should state that I went there for the music. That’s right, I love the sound of a good choir, regardless of what they’re singing about. This was not just a good choir, but the lovely and accomplished Choir of Wellington Cathedral of St Paul, performing their Coronation Concert for the Jubilee Year.
It was strange to be walking in to a cathedral, and I confess I did glance around to be sure no-one saw me. Some people sneak into bars, or casinos; I sneaked into a church.
Crossing the ditch (or ten great reasons to love Wellington). 1. No humidity. 2. No humidity. 3. No humidity. 4…you get the idea. I was recently in Sydney, and found it a tad warm. Traveling between New Zealand and Australia, in either direction, is known to the locals as “crossing the ditch” – quite a charming expression, redolent of our rural connections, in both countries. Of course, the ditch is actually a fairly vast chunk of ocean about 2000 miles wide, but still, Australia is the closest big country to New Zealand, so we make the journey frequently.
Back to the heat…for those of you from colder climes, you know you’re in a humid place when you get that horribly annoying little bead of sweat that runs straight down your spine – it doesn’t pass GO, it doesn’t collect $200, it just heads south, like a dripping tap, and I’m not even going to contemplate where it ends up. (Clue – a place you mustn’t scratch in public). The other big clue that you might be in Sydney is that every local you meet has a whine about the weather…”I don’t mind the heat, it’s the humidity I can’t stand“. Ad nauseum. Which, by the way, is how the sticky heat is likely to make you feel, especially if you’ve been at a merry social gathering involving slabs of meat charred over a flame, outdoors, on a hot day, washed down with a bucket of wine. How I longed for a southerly – a refreshing breeze from the South Pole, possibly going 138 kph for good measure. I even recalled, from Wellington’s 2011 winter, the headline that read “Polar Blast coming our way” – happy days, happy days.