Thursday, 29 September 2011

Escape from everyday rugby and sex?

Two items in the daily news caught my attention this morning. One was that an international rating agency had downgraded New Zealand's credit rating, the other that most people in the country expect to enjoy more sex than usual in the next few weeks. I strongly suspect that most readers of the newspapers this morning were more interested in the second item than the first, although in the long term the first item may have more effect upon their lives.

What is going on down here deep in the South Pacific?  New Zealand is hosting the Rugby World Cup, our national team the All Blacks is doing well,  and we have all temporarily lost touch with everyday cares and woes - if not in some cases reason and reality. As a nation we are experiencing a feel good factor. Hence the expectation, that a survey has confirmed, that there is likely to be more sex around even if the country is going broke. We will go down the proverbial gurglar making love instead of worrying about our financial situation.  Could be worse ways to go, I suppose.

Just as an individual needs a spot of sport or other recreation as an antidote to everyday worries and stress, sometimes a whole country needs the same and it seems major sporting events, despite their costs and social inconveniences, tick the box for giving a country a positive fillip. Here in New Zealand we are too small to ever host an Olympic Games so the Rugby World Cup is as big as it is ever likely to get for us as a country. It is great to see the enthusiasm, the flags and bunting, the overseas tourists and the whole Pacific culture theme that has overtaken the country.

For a few short weeks we are a different people and we have thrown away some of our cares. After the end of the Cup we will come back to earth but hopefully a little of the positive joyous spirit will still remain within us.  Go the All Blacks!

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Escape to the 'Naki

There are days when it is just great to be alive and Monday last week was one of those days. My wife (MW) and I had driven down to Taranaki.  For those not familiar with New Zealand geography, Taranaki (also known by locals as "the 'Naki") is the large bump sticking out on the western side of the North Island of New Zealand.  It has a reputation for being a bit of a wild and unique place, mainly because it seems to get the first dose of whatever weather comes across the Tasman Sea and hits NZ.  Slap bang in the middle of the province of Taranaki is the large old volcanic cone of Mt Taranaki that dominates the region.  There is old Taranaki saying that when you can see the mountain it is about to rain and when you can't see it, it is raining. Taranaki is one of the finest dairy farming areas in the world.

Last Monday there was the most bluest, cloudless sky I had seen in a long time and Mt Taranaki with a lot of snow on it stood out the green forests and pastures like a beacon of hope.  We spent the day driving around the mountain following the coast with the gleaming sea on our right, and non-stop views of the mountain on our left.  Absolutely glorious! We called into many of Taranaki's small towns and villages.

In theory I was working.  I was photographing and researching old courthouse buildings for my next book.  Some photos were taken and interesting conversations had with locals in libraries and small museums around the district, including an interesting time spent with a 95 year old lady whose spryness and intellectual powers were undiminished by her age.  MW and I spent a most enjoyable day in beautiful natural surrounding.

Monday last week was definitely one of those memorable days which made me realise, not for the first time, that pursuing one's interests and passions will always beat a day spent stressed and worrying in an office anytime. No income was made but, hey, there was enough loose change in the pocket for a cup of coffee and some lunch along the way.