Monthly Archives: January 2010

Last Picture Taken Sunday

Scroll through your camera phone or digital camera, find the last pic you took – doesn’t matter what it was or how blurry or how random – post it on your blog.

Click on the little picture to go direct to Tracy’s Blog.

Here is my last picture for Sunday – one I took myself this week, rather than one from PB, as it happens:

Celebration

 

This is the state of the floor at our church after the induction service for our new pastor (minister). The church has had a difficult time over recent years  for one reason or another, but now we finally have a young, vibrant new couple to pastor our small congregation. The service was a great time of celebration for the congregation and for the town – even the Mayor gave a short but enthusiasctic speech about the future of our church and our town.  (The mayor was a used car salesman – so he NEVER misses the chance to do a bit of advertising for the town!!!LOL)

So here’s to the future!

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From Spain – Sort of….

These are two cards I have received recently , both sort of Spanish – but not as you might picture Spain with flamenco dancers and such like!

Maspalamas, Gran Canaria

This picture is El Faro de Maspalomas  a very old lighthouse – which is actually in the centre of a busy tourist area! It is 65 metres high, and when it was first used in February 1890 it was surrounded by sand, rather than hotels and tourist shops.  It took 28 years to build.  Here’s a very similar shot, but in the day time:

Similar picture from the web - I've forgotten where!

I learnt this info from Regina at Virtual Traveller  who gives lots of information about things to do in Maspalomas.  The thing is – Maspalomas is on an island – in the Canary Islands, just over 200 kilometres from the African coast, but over 1200 kilometres from Europe!!  It is however, a Spanish ‘Autonomous community’.

Maspalomas is on Gran Canaria,  which is the third largest of the Canary Islands, but has the largest population. It seems to be mostly a tourist destination for sun, sand & lifestyle, but does also have an interesting natural environment.

  It is a volcanic island and is almost a perfect circle! The geology and biology of the island are unusual in that there are many deep ravines radiating from the centre of the island – where there is an enormous deep volcanic crater, and also the highest peak – right down to the coast. These ravines provide a wide range of different micro-climates, such that some flora & fauna only live in small areas.  Over 40% of the island is nature reserves of various types, and a significant portion of the island has been identified as a UN World Biosphere Reserve   which demonstrates the scientific importance of its unique habitats.  Apparently there are even cacti  there – so that has to be a good thing!

 There’s also 97 geocaches on Gran Canaria – in case anyone was interested!

Irune's message

The other postcard that I would like to showcase is from Irune, from the north of Spain.  I had the privilege of receiving Irune’s first (and so far only) Postcrossing card that she has sent out.  Irune is currently studying in Bilbao, in the Basque area of Spain. This is another Autonomous Community of Spain.  The Basque   people live partly in Spain and partly in France, although there is greater freedom to speak and learn the Basque language – Euskara, for those people living in Spain.   This language  is completely unique in the world, and is not closely related to any other languages in surrounding regions.  Basque culture and language has been a constant in this area for longer than the other languages and cultures around it. There are apparently a wide range of ideas about from where the Basque people came – including that they are descendants  of  the mysterious city of Atlantis!!  

 In any case, this is a people group with a long and proud cultural heritage and language, and although currently only about 25-30% of Basque people are currently considered fluent in their language, I hope that many others are inspired to learn it and to hold on to their culture.

So ‘agur’  and ‘lasterarte’  to you all for today!!  (Goodbye and see you soon)

Just HAD to show you this one!

Here is my latest Polar Bear!!! 

This one made me laugh.

Grrrrrreetings....

 

It is a private swap from Sue, who wrote on the back that the people in Churchhill, Hudson Bay see the polar bears migrate through their town!  And that IRL polar bears are huge and extremely fierce.  I think the one on her card is not living up to this reputation…….. LOL  (You can’t really tell from the picture, but this card is polar bear shaped.)

I also got another postcard from Canada today – an ‘official’ Postcrossing card from Carole featuring another fierce Arctic animal, and with polar bear stamps!

I need to find out who Martin Frobisher is who features on the 5C  stamp. An early explorer I expect.

Polar Problem

On Saturday I received another polar bear to add to my collection. It came from a private swap with another Postcrosser. She wanted penguins – which I have in plenty – and she had a polar bear that looked very cute.  So the deal was done.

 However there must have been a bad mail day somewhere in Europe when my polar bear was on the way, as he arrived looking like this:

Poor 'stuck' Polar Bear

 What appears to have happened is that the mail has got damp somewhere along the way   (which is completely understandable with the nasty nasty weather in the northern hemisphere recently) – there is also a reverse ‘transfer’  of another address on the back of the postcard, and this turned out to be a Czech stamp attached to poor polar bear’s face.  Our builder (the stamp collector!) suggested a little water on a cotton bud to make the stamp damp again and it might peel off – and then I suddenly remembered that in my stamp collecting days I used to sometimes steam the stamps off things I wanted to keep. So PB and I carefully tried that, and it was a great success!!!  There are just a couple of green smudgy bits where the colour has come out of the stamp, and other than that my polar bear is all better. (Well, he will be if he ever mananges to get out of that  yoga position!!!)

New improved Polar Bear plus the stamp that was stuck.

 The info on the back is in German  and says:   

Spielerisch elernen Eisbarkinder ihre Korperfunktionen. Sie kommen klein wie Maulwurfe in einer Schneehohle zur Welt und mussen schnellwashsen. Ein ausgewachsenes Mannchen kann es auf drei  Meter Lange und 600 Kilo Gewicht bringen.

 Which according to Google translates roughly as: Baby polar bears learn their body functions. They are as small as moles(?) when born in the ice caves and must grown quickly. A male polar bear can be as much as 3 metres long and weigh 600 kilos.

Help with the German anyone?

If someone who speaks German would like to give a better translation I’d appreciate it.

 I actually had a fantastic mail week in the end – after only one card on Tuesday initially, because on Friday I also got SIX postcards! Three cats, a lovely wolf and a curious Football mascot called Buck from various swaps, and a wonderful weird cactus from ErikaJean!!   Some of these postcards may be coming soon to a blog near you.

 (And I don’t think we got any bills this week………. LOL)

Last Picture Taken Sunday

And my last picture for the week this week appears to be a prickly one!!

After our wee caching trip yesterday we went to check on one of our own caches that was in the vicinity. There were lotts of ‘weeds’ growing in the area – though I have to say if I call them ‘wildflowers’ and say they actually looked quite pretty, it sound much nicer!

Anyway – this ‘Scottish’  Thistle was one of the weeds growing, and I was playing around with the macro on my camera

Thistle flower

again.

Check out Tracy’s Topics  for more about Last Picture Sunday

Just a Bit of Mud.

Two caching blogs in two days – aren’t you all lucky!!  Hopefully I will get some postcards up later too, as in the end I had an exceptional mail week.

PB and I just went on a little local trip today. We majorly slept in, so we missed church, and thought we’d make use of the not-raining weather to go caching.

The two caches we were aiming for are up a short hill walk over near the centre of town –we’ve been up and down this track quite a number of times. (Even before we got into geocaching!) Apparently one of the caches we were going for is in its third incarnation – we never got the first one as it was before our time, but we did find the second one.  These ones have been right at the top of the track, and it’s always a bit interesting to get there as the terrain is very dependent on the weather. We knew that it was going to be sticky as one of the other locals had been up yesterday and reported it in his on-line log – along with the fact that he’d seen about ten other people –  so we put on our ‘muddy’ shoes and headed out.

I considered taking the dogs, but we didn’t in the end – they would have been plastered in mud!!! (Which might have been funny to see) But there were also Poison signs, so just as well they stayed home.

Danger for Dogs

Possums  are a real problem in New Zealand. They are an Australian native and not at all a nuisance over there. However, here in little NZ they are a persistent pest that destroys our native bush and birdlife.  They are most commonly killed by poisoning- with either ‘1080’ (sodium monofluoroacetate) or cyanide in the form of potassium cyanide.  Both of these are highly toxic to dogs – in fact, to humans as well. Dogs will be affected if they eat something that has eaten the poison, never mind contacting the poison directly. So that really restricts the places on the West Coast that it is safe to take dogs.  There are major debates about the effectiveness of these poisons in protecting our native birds and people with very strong opinions on both sides of the issues.

View towards Town

River Mouth

However – I digress! We headed up the hill to our first cache Bill’s Vista. And a nice vista it is, but no luck with the cache.  The previous (very experienced) searchers hadn’t found it either after a few logs of the ‘easy find’ type, so we think perhaps it’s gone.    With the easy part of the hill done, we prepared for mud.

There was some mud – evidence below – but it wasn’t as bad as we expected!!

Just a Little Mud

Perhaps the heavy traffic yesterday squished all the water out of the track!  Up and up we scrambled and slithered until about half an hour later  we were less than 20 metres from GZ – only to have that horrible thing happen where the cache starts to get further away instead of closer! Fortunately we knew from previous excursions up this hill that it would be only a small temporary glitch, and we were soon at the final lookout.  I took a few minutes to recover, but it appears that PB’s geo-instincts recovered more quickly than mine as he was soon onto the cache. GC21PWH I am King Track the III

PB was on to it!

We sat up there for a bit admiring the view from the top and spying on a weka going about his daily life.  He did make a brief appearance out on the track while I had camera in hand, but there after stayed scuttling about behind bushes so we didn’t get another chance for a photo.

Weka on the Move

So even though we had a 50% success rate on our cache hunting and the day never got past overcast, it was a good chance to get out for a bit of exercise and re-visit a familiar spot.

River Valley

Peninsula Caching

Between a birthday party and a bit of shopping in the city, we managed to fit in a few geocaches – just nineteen, but it got us up to 1450. Most of them were in the Banks Peninsula area, and a couple in other places.

 The ones below are my favourites from the trip.

 GC1WQX6 BK&J Suggested. We had a sunny blue sky drive over to the birthday party, just doing the one detour for a cache(… mainly because there’s only a very few caches we haven’t already done on that route!!!) The scenery was awesome at this one, and as a bonus we saw a little skink. When I was a kid skinks seemed really common, but this is only the second one I remember seeing in recent years.  It was quite small – probably a young one, and we only saw it briefly –twice for me & three times for PB, so I would not even like to guess what species it was! Yet another one of those fleeting moments of serendipity that caching allows us.  And when I think about it, the last time we saw a lizard, it was at a cache site too.

Skink Territory

A brisk walk before breakfast is always a good way to start the day so we went after this one before breakfast on Saturday.  GCA1B2 River Lookout was just a few hundred metres from our camping ground. We initially had a bit of mis-direction from the not-so-helpful GPS, but when we got on the right track I realized that I should have trust my geosenses, because it WAS behind the tree that I had picked.

Ashley River view.

Following  such a long walk all the way from the cachemobile,  we had to trudge the whole few hundred metres back again as well and we found ourselves in need of sustenance, so we adjourned to Seagars Café   to enjoy waffles and a nice fry-up for our breakfast.

Waffles for breakfast ??? ...... NOoooo not THAT Waffles .....

... THOSE waffles!!!!

Upon leaving Oxford we took a rather meandering route into the city of Christchurch past a few pretty much  road-side caches. However it was a worthy little detour as we got an accidental first to find! We must have been only about 5 minutes ahead of the STF as we almost ran into them at another cache, but we really didn’t know we were heading to a FTF –  this time it was just another cache on our GPS!!!  We did a bit of  double-take when we saw a blank page, and PB checked the PDA – but it showed no logs, so it seemed that we were genuinely first – and so it turned out to be!   GC22PDZ Bus Stop   

We’ve recently purchased  a new map and camping book with a Christmas book voucher, so we tried it out of the first time to find a new spot to camp on Banks Peninsula. It came up trumps, and we had a lovely night free camping at French Farm Bay. (Well, almost free because we paid the $4 suggested donation.) We’d almost walked another couple of hundred metres up the road to a near-by cache on the Saturday night, but another down pour of rain hit just as we’d made up our minds to go, so we opted to change our minds and not go!  Which turned out to be a great choice, as while we were hunting in the morning we also enjoyed the kingfishers nearby. We’d had a kingfisher greet to us from the tree beside the van first thing as well. PB got a few photos of it from in the van, but as soon as we opened the door, it flew away.

There is a kingfisher!

We stopped in at Akaroa to find a couple of caches and to provide a little entertainment for the tourist.  Finding the caches was intentional, and entertaining the tourist purely an optional extra.  We were sitting in the van on the shore eating our lunch and I was writing postcards, while PB decided to feed the seagulls. Well. Soon the van and the ground were swarming with seagulls who became increasing more assertive about their need for bits of bread.  They were swooping past PB’s open window, and almost IN the window, standing on the front of the van glaring through the windscreen at us and romping on the roof. And we had quite a number of tourists stop and stare at the seagulls staring at us!!!

Seagulls on the sunroof

Staring Seagull

After that visit to a rather damp Akaroa, we did a little bit of a detour  Through Tane’s Park GCNJ0C. And it was a good thing that we did, as we found a cache badly in need of repair. Probably a possum had recently got into it, as the contents were scattered everywhere. We recovered everything and found that the log book was dry which was the main thing. So we dried the cache out as best we could – while everything was getting damp again from the drizzle! – and put what we recovered in new plastic pages, added a new pencil and jammed the container more tightly into the space we thought it came from. Hopefully we put it back in the right place and arranged it in such a way that not even a very dexterous possum could pull it out!!  We didn’t get the view though –I’m sure it was there behind the cloud.

Scattered by a possum?

My favourite cache of the trip was this one: GC1QRPA St Kentigern Side Track. This one was beside a charming little country church, with really beautiful stained glass.  I will let the photos tell their own story.

Saint Kentigern's

The Good Shepherd

The Saints

Just a bit further up the road we found Old School GC21330 – I have to confess, I actually didn’t see the cache here! LOL I was occupied trying to get a photo of the old building, and then the strange and curious disease that seemed to be growing on the trees near GZ.

The Old School

Strange Disease?

And finally here is a photo of I won’t say which cache, but one of the best as far as camo on this trip!

Camo cache