All posts filed under: Miscellenia

A family tragedy

My sister the Chef is named after our great-great-grandmother.  It’s a very unusual name: so unusual, in fact, that every single google result for it is about GGGrandmother, one of her ancestors, or one of the five women named after her, including my sister. So I won’t be telling you GGGrandmother’s name, because my sister deserves a little privacy on the internets.  Instead, I’ll call her Anna, a name she sometimes used, perhaps because it was easier for the general public to pronounce and wrap their head around. Growing up, I wondered why my sister was named after our GGGrandmother.  I’m named after my paternal grandmother, and my youngest sister after our maternal grandmother, but three generations back is a long way to go for a name. And why all those other women (and men, carrying the slightly more common masculine version of her name)? The answer, at least in part, is the story of her life.  As a child I was told a very simple version of it: a child friendly, bowlderised version (not …

Charming creek: a walk in Coal Country

My sister the chef tramps in the same way I sew: slightly obsessively.  So any road trip with the two of us involves me with a bag of hand sewing at the ready in the most accessible pocket of my backpack or suitcase, and frequent rambles and daywalks with the chef leading the way. In the days before New Years eve we’d had nothing but tiny 20 minute explores to scenic locations, and sister was getting restive, so I promised her a proper long walk (a compromise between my ‘What about a museum?  Is there a botanical garden around here?’ and her ‘Let’s stay in this great cabin I heard about!  It’s only a five hour walk up a mountain – super easy!’).  The weather threatened rain, but we both geared up with merino tops and waterproof jackets and set off on the Charming Creek walkway, which she had read about in a tramping book and I liked because it sounded charming. The path began in a carpark literally next door to the coal mining …

Coal Country, New Zealand

New Zealand has a reputation around the world for being ‘Clean & Green’, and their marketing slogan is ‘100% Pure New Zealand’, so many people, including some Kiwis, don’t realise that New Zealand has active coal mining, and that coal mining played a significant part in New Zealand’s development and history. The biggest coal mining area in New Zealand is the West Coast of the South Island.  I travelled down the West Coast at the end of my first 6-month visit to the country, over a decade ago, but somehow I completely overlooked the coal mining. I’m not sure how I managed to do that, we drove through Westport, which features a life-sized coal statue of a coal miner, and a museum called the ‘Coaltown Museum’, and past the Stockton open-cast mine, with big piles of coal. Piles of coal at the Stockton mine, Ngakawau, West Coast The mine buildings, at Ngakawau The coal transport system, Ngakawau Security and coal, Ngakawau Trains carrying the coal away, Ngakawau As it is in most places, coal mining …