A View of NZ Two Months On.

When you think of New Zealand your mind jumps to the scenic backdrops that Peter Jackson has used for many of his films and not just the ones that star little people with large hairy feet. You think off clean, panoramic views with houses stood in isolation. A country that is 100% focused to the environment and keeping the green hilly land in tact by trying to restore the short damage that history of not just the Europeans but also the first settlers caused.

Yes, while the white man might have shaped NZ by mining, chopping, reclaiming the currently landscape that kiwis are struggling to adapt to, the tribes of the Maori hunted several birds to extinction and wiped large areas of natural forest even before Cook was born. All be it that they accomplished this over hundreds of years where the settlers after James Cook were on some kind of speed trip to write forests and animals into the history books of this young country.

I’ve been here now for over two months and have seen a good amount of New Zealand and enough time for my opinion to change. Sure I still love it. Why wouldn’t you? You’ve all seen the photographs I’ve taken…. Just look at it… It’s gorgeous. The thing is, it isn’t all middle earth. I’m coming closer to the idea that this is England with a bigger backdrop.

They all drive on the left for starters and road rage is high, traffic accidents and drink driving along with speeding is all high. The prospects for the young are low as employment is lacking and the notion of buying a house is even more far fetched than having that idea in the UK. People are fat and the government spins. The post is sacking staff, and banks offer loans. They love the pie. I would even go as far as saying that Wigan doesn’t know the meaning of pie eating. NZ has taken the art of pie and made it a national past time. Every petrol station, corner shop, cafe, pub all have pie. Everyone eats pie. The fashion is the same, the drinking culture is high, people sit in classy bars. Rural communities are being cut off and the prospect of libraries hang in the balance. Public transport is a mix bag and there is a nationwide buzz over X factor.

A recent survey saw over 50% thought that the picture postcard of a nation that bent double to look after its culture and environment was rubbish. Recycling is big, but like the UK there is large packaging issues and plastic bags given when none are needed. Sure the national parks protect the land, but farming is still big business and swallows up the land. The mere fact that the farmland is going to produce milk which is exported to the growing dairy loving countries in the east causes for milk and cheese in NZ to be purchased with a mortgage which at the moment means a 20% deposit. Kiwis feel that the idea they promote to the world is not entirely accurate. While steps are in place to help the conservation and to stop the spread of pests many locals feel it is no where near what it should or could be.

The idea of buying your own bit of land and building your house has gone, as like the UK, NZ has given birth to the property developer. Towns are still in abundance, but in the north and those cities in the south that have an ever growing population that takes over small quiet neighbouring settlements are slowly moving to the large American town model. Shopping malls are springing up with out of town entertainment complexes. Supermarkets are fighting for your money with weekly deals and money off the price of petrol, which since I arrived as risen by ten cents.

New Zealand is young and is still growing and as such faces a contradiction. It needs to grow and compete in the world. It needs to prove itself and not be shadowed by it larger neighbour. Since the 1950s when they finally let go of the reins that Britain had been holding, NZ has become its own country and is making a name for itself in its own right. But at what cost, can you carry on protecting the already changed habitat and remain to grow without changing the landscape for the worse.

It’s obvious that their efforts are being rewarded as several birds on the critical list are now back in abundance, native trees are replacing the Birch and the bush is being restored, but at what cost to progress and growth of communities. The road network will need a vast upgrade, some areas like Auckland are facing some of the worse traffic jams seen. One accident or rock slide can cause communities and day to day operations to come to a halt. Plans for more motorways are faced with large opposition for those protecting the land, but the need to move goods and commerce is growing with importance.

There is sense that they don’t want to conserve what they have but to try and turn the clock back before any mammal had set foot on the islands. Traps to kill stoats, hedgehogs, hunting of wild deer and pigs which thanks to evolution flourish while the indigenous species failed to adapt and as such were sitting ducks to their new predators.

I’m not sure which camp I’m in, but if their beloved kiwi can’t be bothered to adapt and survive then maybe god has its cards marked. The UK has had a number of foreign animals change the landscape and has Britain been any worse for this. But at the same time to see native birds that only reside in NZ disappear when we can be reasonable for their survival should not be ignored. But surly it’s too late to turn the clock back. Even for the young history of NZ. Even without mans help species have left this world and maybe we have only sped up what Mother Nature had planned. There is a cruel irony that while the induction of Europeans dealt the death penalty to many of the native wide life, they also helped others grow and survive.

You could be forgiven that you were in England sometimes, as some of the views and endless backdrops of hills, trees, mountains don’t look to dissimilar than our green pleasant land. However it’s bigger and grander. You feel more isolated and amazed. The lifestyle is more chilled and laid back. Even in busy cities the clock signals home time at 6pm, which people respect. In the rush of business people will wait for the green man and allow the humble pedestrian to cross even when they have a green light.

There are several parallels you can draw between the UK and NZ, the people who dream of flying to the other side of the word, the cost of food, the future, the love of one sport like its a religion, all be it different ones, the spilt thinking about the queen, a love of their country, walking, the weather and political system.

There is more to this country than the picture postcards we have installed in our minds. So after two months it’s not that they just drive on the left.

Pinterest

Has anyone come across this. Do you know what it is. As far as I can make out it is just an excuse for people to collect the pictures they like online and store them in one place instead of clicking ‘Save Image as’

Well I have joined up and have started mounting many a boards of my inspirations of photos and images of objects I desire or have and even places that I love. If anyone is a member than please do check out my boards and maybe re-pin what you see. I can’t really go into any detail as I have no clue what the site does myself but I did say that about twitter and look at me now with 17,000 plus tweets two years on.

Oh well take a gander if you like Snowdon, Wales, Hiking, New Zealand, Running, History, Castles and Bridges which I guess should be all of you as that is all I write about in this blog with a little bias on the running element like why else do you read this dribble?? ūüôā

See you all soon, and I hope you like what you see.

End of the World and Keep Going

That is a good answer, another good reply could be ‘Head for the Cul-De-Sac and you have arrived’ or any reference to going back in time could also be adequate replies to the question ‘How do you get to Barrow’ For those who do not know about Barrow-In-Furness then I have highlighted some nice links for you to expand your knowledge on the subject and what is a very underrated town.

I have now been to Barrow a number of times with work and each time the place is growing on me, it has so much history and a real sense of community. It is wonderful to run around and has a really nice Abbey. The jokes about it being a ‘One horse town and that horse is dead’ can be true but are often recited by those who have not ventured along the A590 to this ¬†peninsula. However those who live there are in love with the place, and like other towns some of the younger people wish to get out but if you have not been then you shouldn’t comment as Barrow has hidden treasures and unlike Slough or Oldham, Barrow could be a very wealthy tourist trap.

So there we go, Barrow I love you.

 

Barrow-in-Furness

Barrow

Barrow Tourism 

Your Passion

Off the usual road that this blog normally follows it has been inspired by a friend who asked on that topical highly viewed and respected for its truth and honesty, well read and admired for its educational and informative angles webpage that is Facebook. Yes as part of her status she asked if people if they had a passion and if so what it was. The reason for asking such a question was not just a mere interest into the psyche of her friends but because she had just watched a film where a passion was involved and was so inspired it made her want to find one.

Now all regular readers could shout out what I would list as passions. Running, Bridges, History, Steam Trains, Heritage, Canals, Castles, Wales. And you’d be right. I quickly added a comment containing ‘Running, Castles, Heritage’

So far this seems like a pointless blog entry, but hey why change tradition. But seriously what is a passion, could any of those listed above really be a passion. I love to run and get very kiddy when I see a castle, I can make my voice go as high as Aled Jones singing ‘The Snowman’¬†when ever I see a nice bridge or a good mill. But are these passions? I decided to consult the good old English Dictionary.

The meaning (s) are described as thus

noun

  • 1¬†[mass noun]¬†strong and barely controllable emotion:a man of impetuous passion
  • [in singular]¬†a state or outburst of strong emotion:oratory in which he gradually works himself up into a passion
  • intense sexual love:their all-consuming passion for each other[in singular]:she nurses a passion for Thomas
  • [in singular]¬†an intense desire or enthusiasm for something:the English have¬†a passion for¬†gardens
  • [count noun]¬†a thing arousing great enthusiasm:modern furniture is a particular passion of Bill

So maybe the ones I listed are passions. I do get very excited, and love my running and history. This blog is evidence of that. I’m very enthusiastic¬†on all the subjects I speak about and maybe friends would say I’m passionate about them. However at the end of the day this status made me think. I was all to quick to list the subjects and hobbies that I love or interest me but it was only after when I thought about the true way in which they make me feel. Do I feel passionate about them. Yes I love running and if I can’t run I’m miserable, I love a good castle and would like to be transported back in time to see them in their full glory but does this count as a passion or just admiration and love of a subject. I’m sure they are passions but find my self still questioning myself.

Do any of you lovely people have a passion and if so what is it? Is it important to have a passion?


Camping, Walking, Castles, Two thirds my perfect holiday

Well my last post was all about the walking holiday I have just been on and many of you may say that, that was no holiday. Where is the beach or the pool, the cocktail bar, the sun etc. Well I’m not into any of the usual holiday spots and I do quite like the idea of hiking and walking and looking at the wonderful country we live in soaking up our rich countryside and heritage.

Now on the holiday I took last week, it was one of my first proper camping experiences, and while I feel I will not go it alone just quite yet, I did rather enjoy it. Not as much as staying in a hotel, and having a wonderful cooked breakfast and being able to fall into the shower but none the less I did not grumble and if I am to carry out the next holiday plan in a cheap manner then camping is the only way.

That holiday is again walking, but with the added obsession of mine Castles. Wales is littered with them, and before 2012 I wish to have explored most of them. The northern shore has been done, and thanks to last week I have now completed one of the mid/south part of Wales. Therefore I am now planning a camping holiday that replaces walking with looking at castles, and trains, bridges, and canals just to make it ultra geeky.

The following posts will be filled with the castles I wish to visit, and the start of this grand plan. What is worrying is the amount of people who also wish to take part in this little adventure. Not that I am complaining, as I need the people with tents and sleeping bags but most important of all I need the good company of my friends.

So who knows within the next week or so, I may be setting up camp waiting to visit many a castle.

I’m now off to read all about the castles I may visit at some point in the future.

http://www.castlewales.com/

Top Five Industrial hero’s

This is a weird one, but I write this as I was watching ‘Great Railway Journeys’ and see a images of ‘Iron Bridge’ and as I’m bored I thought why don’t I share my boredom with you lovely people.

Earlier I bought you my top five bridges, well today it’s the turn of historical figures who played a key role in the industrial revolution of England. Many of you may now know that I like my history especially the medieval period. But I also love the agriculture, industrial revolution and transport. So with that love still deep in my heart I now bring you my heroes. As before with the bridges I will be including more than five and they won’t be in any order, apart from the fella who is number one.

So who is first on the list…. Well without this guy the whole factory process might not of happened, as just after half past five John Kay came up with a shuttle that could fly. That’s right 1733 saw

Kays Flying Shuttle

Kay’s Flying Shuttle that speeded up the process of weaving dramatically. John Kay may have come up with a quick way to now weave, but the weavers needed the cotton, and it wasn’t till 1764 that James Hargreaves invented the Spinning Jenny, or should that be his daughter as the clumsily bitch had knocked their spinning wheel over which gave James the idea.

However James didn’t think it was important to copyright the machine until the 1770’s so lost a lot of money has people nicked his idea. Samuel Crompton used the Spinning Jenny as his inspiration for the

Spinning Jenny

Spinning Mule in 1779. ¬†All of these men from Kay who made the old fashion loom twice as productive to Crompton who’s machines were responsible for hundreds of child deaths in the cotton and wool mills owned by Arkwright and Gregg make it into the number five slot.

But while the women were handing over the needle and thread to the men and moving into the factories, and mill owners were popping up left right and centre over the country none of it would be possible without transport. So thank god that James Brindley was born and he met up with the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater who asked James to build him a canal so he could transport all his coal that he was digging up. James was of course only to happy to assist as he knew it would annoy Thomas Telford

Thomas Telford

 

and John Mcadam who had spent several years trying to improve the road network in Britain. I also have a love for Telford as he also built several good canals but also built some very nice bridges, but none as nice as the Bridgewater Canal.

Now all this transport was getting out of hand, and the factory owners and coal-pit managers needed a quicker way to transport their goods. It was very luckily for them that James Watt came along with his steam engine, but at first it was not used to get you to London in under two hours, its first duty was to pump water out of mines. What the miners use to do before James came along I’m not really sure, maybe they used¬†Thomas Newcomen Steam engine instead.

Newcomens Steam Engine

This is the one little thing that annoys me about history, and I am glad I had a proper tweed and leather patches history teacher. A lot of people often think James Watt invented the Steam engine, where he only improved on the original concept by adding a separate condenser.

Richards Machine

While all of this was going on a very clever man in Cornwall hit upon the idea of mounting this steam contraption onto wheels which would run on a track, and once again thank you to Mr Clark for teaching me that Richard Trevithick should be credited as the father of the Railways, but he isn’t. Instead it goes to George Stephenson whose first locomotive was not the best, but manged to win the Rain-hill Trails (by running over and killing an M.P) and therefore he won the contract to build the locomotives for the Manchester to Liverpool Line. That Steam engine was of course the Rocket, but it was the Planet that ran on the Line. This was not the first time he had built engines. Stephenson was responsible for the first Railway line from Stockton to Darlington used to transport coal.

The Planet

However the number one person who is at the top of my list did it all. He standardised time across Britain, with his railway. He built Canals, boats, and bridges and the longest train tunnel at the time. Even now there is only one day of the year, where the sun shines through Box tunnel It is of course Isambard Kingdom Brunel. That is the person who is at number one, not the day of the year where the sun shines through the tunnel.

I will one day speak about all these people’s work in more detail, but in case you can’t wait I have linked their names to their Wiki pages, but I should imagine that most of you should know everything about them already. The only person who didn’t make it on the list and that is only because I could not find a link from his invention to the Factories is Jethro Tull and I don’t mean the band or the Cornish comedian. I’m talking about Jethro Tull as in the one who made the seed drill that allowed the ¬†sowing of seeds in nice little straight lines to happen.

I hope you have enjoyed another look into my geeky nature. I also hope you enjoy reading up on some of these important historical people I will wait for the comments to come flooding in.

A Castle fit for a King…. Well at Least a Prince!

So the grand castle I went to, and the one that is still in my top castles is based in the Royal Town of Caernarfon, on the West Coast of Wales above Snowdonia and below the Island of Anglesey. An excellent location with two very good holiday destinations on your doorstep. Edward I did not need to be told anymore, he grabbed at the opportunity to buy this once in a life time investment. His wife being the typical wife was a little concerned about the money, and whether they needed yet another home. “I thought we were going to get that Chateau this year” ¬† ¬†“Don’t worry we’ll make it back in entrance fee’s” that was Ed’s answer to convincing her to buy Conwy and Beaumaris. “What about all the locals?” “Oh those we will destroy the town and build a complete new English settlement” And that is what he did. Fact, he had the settlement of Caernarfon destroyed and rebuilt the town and to add insult to injury to the natives he renamed it Caernarvon ‘Swopping the ‘F’ for a ‘V’ should trick those locals’


The title of my blog comes from the fact that it is used, and was used recently… Well within the last 30 years to crown the Prince of Wales, or as we call him down the ‘Old Nags Head’ Charlie. I can tell you that we don’t let old Charlie forget that day. The stuff he had to wear and the people who came out to see him, there were cousins he didn’t even know he had. It was quite annoying really as I wanted to go to the butchers but the town was packed. Anyway, Caernarfon Castle was a castle that was built not to be attacked ‘I’ve just painted and worked on the Rockery so I want you to play nice with Owen, none of this war business’… or any road at least built not to be penetrated.

You can't see the Stone Circle, but this is where Prince Charlie was Crowned

 

It wasn’t built like Edwards other castles down the road, oh no Caernarfon was built to be a seat of power over the Welsh and if today was anything to go by I really wouldn’t have bothered. There was nothing there, nothing open, apart from the KFC and Subway… like come on Ed if you were going to build a big house to control the people then you could of picked a town with people in it. Instead what you had was a giant Town Square that seemed to be a road, and race track. Now maybe in it’s day it was a town that was asking to be ruled but the sleepy town looked like it couldn’t give two shits now. ‘We have a castle so sod you world’

Anyway Ed decided that this was to be the place he wanted a new house and with walls 15 Meters thick he was certainly thinking of low electricity bills, Mrs Ed was a little concerned that with walls that thick Edward wouldn’t hear when he was being called for tea and all that effort sweating over a pig for it to go cold because the King wanted to keep the cold out was not a good enough reason. Of Course by the time the kids had become teenagers Mrs Ed was glad of the walls, there was nothing worst than having the latest Mistral song thump thumping through the walls.

In fact Eddies new home was one of ¬†the last of the Norman Castles in Wales and was designed not so much as a fortress but as a home it takes it’s design from a lot of the French and European Castle designs of the day. When Edward saw the plans he was delighted. ‘Lets see the Jones’s try to keep up with this’ he thought. The truth of it was the Jones’s were quite happy with their two up two down cottage and were getting quite annoyed that these planning permissions were getting through even with there objection of ‘It will block all out light’ ¬†‘I know his the King, but who does he think he is?’

In 1284 Edward gave birth to the Prince of Wales. Well Eddies wife did. As the boy was born, his father King Edward went off to consider a name for the young chap and after a long and hard council he fell upon the name of Edward. ‘It’s a good name’ he said to his wife, ‘plus when he comes to being King there won’t be much paper work… they could keep most of it and just add another I after my title’.

Edward has been the only ever ‘Prince of Wales’ to be born in the country of Wales and soon this caught on as his Nickname, as the people of the court needed a name to tell the two Edwards apart but it seems to of stuck to this very day. Edward never like the nickname and as soon as he was old enough changed it to Edward II however the telling them apart was no longer an issue as Edward I (previously just know as King Edward until his son took the name King Edward) had died, and Eddie baby never returned to the Castle walls in adult life.

“Have you heard that Edward I has died?”

“Who?”

“Edward the First?”

“Who’s he?”

” Not sure but his dead… Well he must be as now we have a 2nd Edward on the Throne”

Seen from the Film 'Monty Python and The Holy Grail'
Me and Me Mate recreating the Iconic scene. Hard to tell them apart isn't it?

This is one of my best castles, and once again, I left my friends to go running round the fort and finally got to shout from one of the torrents‘You mother is a Hamster and your father smells of Elderberries’ Running round these castle walls I often think about what it would be like to live in this time and it is the one section of History I want to re-train in, not that I have trained in history, but I have my Cord Jacket with elbow patches sat in the wrings. What I mean is if I ever give up Theatre and I think all who knows me, know that it won’t happen then I would gladly train in being a medieval historian, looking at the Normans in close detail.

I should point out at this point, that while this blog is based on the truth, some of it has been fictionalised for the enjoyment of the reader which I hope you have.  I think the next road trip I will do, is yet another Castle in Wales, and i might venture into the wonderful park of Snowdonia to see Electric Mountain.

Being that this is a New Year and Christmas is now over… well will be once the stupid 12 days has finished I will be going back and hitting the track to train hard. With a little short break in a couple of weeks for a friends wedding I am now off the booze. I will be mixing my weekends with training and road trips like these, so stand by for plenty more History Lessons along this line.

See you around