Sunday, 30 November 2008

Dannevirke Brothel

Dannevirke, as I have explained, is a town through which the main State Highway 50 passes. This is it:

One of the most imposing buildings in many New Zealand towns is the Public Trust office and above the colonnade of many such buildings are the words 'Public Trust'.

Public Trust is New Zealand's largest trustee organisation. It provides a wide range of legal, financial, investments, trusts, home loans, conveyancing, estate management and estate protection services. Its role is to help people to protect and manage their family interests and assets during their lifetime… and after they are gone.

I'm not sure how many of the original buildings are still Public Trust offices but certainly many of the buildings are still standing. However I think that I can say with a fair degree of confidence that this is almost certainly the only one that is now a brothel.

According to the press the competition for positions at Dannevirke's new brothel has been stiff, with applications coming from far and wide. Promiscuous Girlz madam Teresa McGregor said a month or so ago "The bordello is set to open on Friday - and applications have been streaming in from all over the country. 'Oh man, we have just had heaps of response. It's been much easier than I thought'." Applications had been appearing from "everywhere - everywhere but Dannevirke" she said. "People seem to be quite keen to come here, so I am quite surprised."

Last month, the Manawatu Standard revealed Ms McGregor's planned to open a brothel in the Public Trust building, in the town's main street. Since then, public and national media interest has been high. Opponents within the town have held protest meetings, arranged an 800 signature petition, and argued against the brothel's resource consent. But on July 24 the bordello got the final green light from the Tararua District Council, and since then Ms McGregor has been kept busy hiring staff and ensuring the building is up to code. And not only were staff numbers up, but expectant patrons had been pre-booking in anticipation of the weekend's grand opening.

Ms McGregor said. "I have got a few bookings, so things are looking good. A few's better than none I tell myself, so fingers crossed." She hadn't noticed any ill-feeling or negativity directed towards her lately within the town. "Not that I am aware of, I never was aware of it - I hardly read the newspapers or watch TV. "I have been told the knitting lady [brothel opponent Gillian Allardice] has backed off. She's not going to be knitting outside any more." Ms McGregor denied reports there would be themed rooms in the bordello. "No, they're just rooms."

Friday, 28 November 2008


At the moment I'm away at a croquet tournament (The Veteran's or Vet's about which I shall blog separately) at Dannevirke (Danish: "Danish creation" or "Danes' work"), which is a rural service town in the Manawatu-Wanganui area of New Zealand about 90 minutes drive South of Napier. The surrounding area has developed into dairy and sheep farming, which now provides the major income for the town's population of 6,000.

The town was founded on 15 October 1872 by Danish, Norwegian and Swedish settlers, who arrived at the port of Napier and moved inland. The settlers, who arrived under the Public Works Act, built their initial settlement in a clearing of the Seventy Mile Bush. The Dannevirke for which the town was named is an extensive Viking-age fortification line which had a strong emotive symbolic role for 19th Century Danes, especially after the site had fallen into German hands in the German-Danish War of 1864 - a recent and very painful event for these settlers.

The settlement quickly earned the nickname of "sleeper town", as the town's purpose was to provide totara sleepers for the Napier - Wellington railway line. At one stage the area had 50 operating sawmills. After the native bush was cleared, the land was turned into pasture for grazing animals. (Information from Wikepedia - is there anything Wikepedia doesn't tell you?)

It is on the main State Highway 50 South from Hawkes Bay to Wellington and is usually just somewhere one pase through and perhaps has coffee and a comfort stop. It has always seemed very run down to me with half the main street (the SH 50) being taken up with second-hand shops. At the moment there are lots of public works being undertaken to spruce it up.

The Motel in Dannevirke where we are staying. Appropriately named the Viking Motel it was, until fairly recently, the only motel in the town.

Yet another example of wall art.

A modern use for an older building

The Bank of New Zealand branch in Dannevirke

The old Court House, now a museum

The café where Steve and I eventually found a coffee when we toured New Zealand a few years ago
Bizarre or what?

Formerly a hotel now a café

Guess what Danevirke is known for?

The Town Hall and a splendid modern set of electronically controlled toilets. As this is set on the A50 main trunk route they are very popular indeed. I still have some difficulty trusting them though.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

The Sunken Garden

In between Marine Parade and the sea in the centre of Napier is situated The Sunken Garden. I blogged about the rock wall in the garden in my last blog. It is always a blaze of colour and full of interesting features. I will do another posting about it soon.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

The Countryside Is Noisy

The weather has been very hot so a few nights ago I decided to sleep with my bedroom door with it's newly fitted flyscreen in place open onto the deck. The Cottage is built to modern standards of insulation and, very unusually for New Zealand, it has double glazing throughout as well. So as a general rule I can hear very little at night. I don't sleep with windows open either as a rule because of the many and varied flying creatures which, though harmless, are nevertheless unpleasant as bedfellows.

For the first time the sounds of the night, from which my insulated environment shield me, became loud and real. The call of the Morepork (so called because of its call of the same sound) which roosts in a nearby tree and, like many owls, is not faint-hearted in its announcements to the world; the crickets which surround (and occupy) The Cottage; the wind which rustles the huge trees nearby; the Pukeko screeching in the orchard below (and that really can make your blood curdle); the birds singing their hearts out at 0400; the rustling and snorting of the hedgehogs and possums and countless other creatures of the night all conspired to make constant sleep hard. And once I was awake I could hear the oddly verbose fridge and the excessively loud tick of the kitchen clock. So the perfect sleep to which I am accustomed eluded me.

Last night the door remained closed as it will again tonight. I think it will have to be exceptionally hot before I next bask in the closeness to nature which robs me of my slumbers.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Dance Express

Catriona and Fraser go to hip hop dancing at the dance studio featured in the last posting (Wall Paintings). Until now I, like Wendy when they said that's what they wanted to do, have rather dismissed hip hop. I suppose because of its association with the New York of the 1970s and the rap movement hip hop had negative connotations in my mind. Having seen the recital on Sunday my view has completely changed. And with it, as a result of a little bit of research to satisfy my curiosity, my sub-conscious prejudices.

Hip hop is far more multi-faceted and complex than the dancing we saw and yet that which we saw was exciting and, on the whole, more entertaining than the other dancing that day.

The Recital (an annual event to case show the efforts of the school and its pupils) comprised 35 dance routines performed by somewhere over a hundred participants - mostly young children - but ranging from about 5 to 35. The organisation alone was very impressive.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Wall Paintings

There are quite a few wall paintings around Napier and Hastings and I showed some in my Blog last visit. Here are two from a liquor store and the dance studio where Fraser and Catriona learn. In New Zealand spirits can olnly be purchased in liquor stores (or public houses and hotels for consumption on the premises) although wine is sold in supermarkets, shops, liquor stores and wineries.


One of the things that strikes visitors to Napier is the flowers. There are flowers everywhere around the City centre. These are in the gardens on Marine Parade. I don't know what they are and I don't have a book of New Zealand Flowers although these may not necessarily be indigenous anyway.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Recipe For A Melted Heart


1 honorary Uncle Graham
1 seven year old Catriona

Look at hon Uncle and say "When you were away I really missed you".

Don't Lose Your Passengers

I am told that when the cruise liner Volendam (Roterdam) was berthed in Napier a few days ago one of the passengers was so naxious to get a photograph of all the old cars paraded for them on the pier that he took one step too far back and fell 15 feet (or was it metres) into the harbour. Fortunately he was rescued very quickly and suffered no ill effects. I'm not sure about the camera! This is one for Kate to take not of.

You Know You've Arrived

when you start getting unsolicited junk mail.  How did that happen?  

Thursday, 20 November 2008

The Homestead

Those of you who followed my Blog last year will, of course, have seen similar pictures to these but this is a reminder of where my body rests at the moment.

The Cottage.  The lavender is  growing and everything is settling in.

The Cottage to the right and the main house is up the drive to the left.  The little 'garden shed' is the pumping station for the water supply which comes from underground springs.

Looking down the drive from the main house with the lavender and jacoranda trees.  The agapanthus are just coming into bud. 


One for Gaz
(The advantage of always having a camera to hand)

Wednesday, 19 November 2008


I pass this scene every day as I drive along Rotowhenua Road where I live. It seems unchanging. There is a constancy about the rural landscape here in that it changes slowly from week to week, month to month, season to season but not, as the view from my house on Lewis, from minute to minute.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Medicine Packaging

One of the bugbears of those of us who take medication every day is the packaging. Modern packaging is all blister packs. They play absolute havoc with the thumbs and particularly the thumb nails. I do have a pill puncher and it's a great help but it tends to break the aspirin in half and they are the worst for the thumbs. Imagine, therefore, my delight when I went to the Pharmacy in Taradale (where my New Zealand Doctor's surgery is) I received my pills loose in a screw top container. I imagine, too, that it is more environmentally friendly.

Immoral Waste

Here you see my new printer/copier/scanner. Behind it you can see my 'old' grey printer. On the floor you can't see my old scanner. The old scanner is in perfect working order. However it cannot be used with Vista because the software has not been upgraded by Canon and the scanner is regarded as obsolete.

So I reluctantly decided I would buy another scanner. The basic model is about $150 (approx £57). I was debating what to do when I noticed that for $79.95 (less than £20) I could buy a printer/copier/scanner all in one. Eh? Then it dawned on me: there are no ink cartridges to be bought at vastly inflated prices when you buy a stand-alone scanner.

So my scanner will go to an op shop (charity shop) for someone who is pre-Vista) and the 'old' printer will go into storage. The black cartridge is allegedly empty (it's not because it's quite new) and the software will not allow it to be used until I renew the cartridge.

The only Good Thing is that my Study is now less cluttered.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Thoughts on Seventeen Days

I've been here for seventeen days and it's as if I've never been away. I feel so at home here, so welcome.

There are, of course, similarities and contrasts to life in Scotland. I'll concentrate on one aspect: the weather. Why? Because it is something that anyone who lives on a Scottish island is constantly thinking about and it is also a constant topic in New Zealand; in conversation and in the media.

I left two weeks of gales and really horrible weather. People's moods were reflecting that already even though we had had a better summer than anywhere else in the UK. I arrived here just over two weeks ago and we have had sunshine most of the time (I have not yet driven The Handbag with the roof up) and the last two days have been in the high 20s. And that, too, is reflected in people's moods and attitudes. And you can guess which is the easier environment in which to live.

So many other things have just slipped back into my Now: the nights where the full moon is so bright I don't have to use a torch when returning from the House to The Cottage and my bedroom is bathed in light; the eerie call of the Australasian Magpies; the crickets, and there is so much more.

What Is That Noise?

I was quietly having breakfast yesterday when I heard a banging outside. On looking up I realised that there was a thrush breaking open a snail for his breakfast. Yum. Snail or muesli and yoghurt? I've seen many snail shells on the path flagstones but this is the first opportunity I've had to photograph the act. It also explains the knocking which I have so often on the roof which can be really jump-inducing.

Sunday, 16 November 2008


A few evenings ago we all went for a walk. Leastways Wendy and Martin and I walked and the children cycled. Leastways.... Ah well, you get the message I'm sure. It wasn't actually that dark either but the light was too poor for non-flash photography.

Friday, 14 November 2008

And One For Pat

Now even I'd concede that that's cute!


Perhaps the only irritation to living in New Zealand and at The Cottage is the lack of availability of terrestrial Broadband. So if that's the greatest irritation what on earth am I complaining about? Well I suppose that that's a very valid point. However when one lives in the current environment of instant communication, blogs, internet, computer programmes continually updating, people sending large picture files and so on it's actually quite important to those who are involved in that environment. It's a question of time as well. Ironically now that I am in New Zealand my time is more regimented and taken up than ever it is in Scotland. So if I am to blog and get emails before I go out in the morning dial-up is dire. It has also been one of the first questions by people considering renting The Cottage during the winter.

Vodafone promised last year that by March 'everyone in New Zealand' would be able to have mobile Broadband for $40 a month. Leastways that's what the posters said. What they meant was 'everyone who can get a Vodafone 3G signal can get Vodafone Mobile'. but that's not quite as catchy. At The Cottage I can only just get a Vodafone phone signal never mind 3G so, 7 km from the centre of Napier I (and all the people round here) cannot get Vodafone Broadband. And that, I have discovered, goes for about 20% of the population - perhaps more.

By a quirk of luck I discovered that Telecom mobile phones (mine, Wendy and Martins are Vodafone) work at The Cottage and we can get Telecom 3G. So I now have Broadband - at a rather steep $60 per month for 1Gb. But I do have Broadband. And what a difference it has made. It's still not very fast Broadband but it is like lightning compared with dial-up. And I can take it with me with my laptop. And my phone line is not tied up for hours on end. Great.

What is really amazing, though, is the fact that all the hardware that I need to achieve this is a tiny dongle stuck into a USB port:

Monday, 10 November 2008


Whilst I was in Scotland during the (New Zealand) winter I was regularly in contact with Ngaire and Bill from the Pétanque Club. Not long before I returned here Ngaire pointed out that I had blogged many times about Croquet but never about Pétanque. Oddly I thought that I had and that Ngaire must just have missed it. But I was wrong - again. I had not done so. So I will remedy that this season.

I love the design

The Club House and terrain

'Throwing up' for teams on club day

Ngaire, Bill (throwing), Maurie, Vic and Noel (taken this week)

"Try and point in just there."

"I'll race you."

Boule away

"Hmmm!" (Players spend a lot of time hmmming)

A Tournament at Bay View Club

Measuring (Players spend a lot of time doing that too!)


During my last stay in New Zealand I had a very enjoyable and reasonably successful Croquet Season. For the most part the national Tournaments I entered don't have trophies - just a certificate and a cash prize. However the tournaments within our Club do have trophies and I was surprised when I returned to be presented with the following:

The Helen Duncan Memorial Trophy (for the most improved player in the Club that season)

The cup is The Dorothea Sweetapple Trophy and the plate on the right is for the Association Doubles Championship for the season.

The important possessions: books, glasses and croquet trophies
(how on earth did the Scrabble get there?)