From Kapiti to Eonyang

Our trip began with the flight from our hometown of Paraparaumu Beach, Kapiti, to Auckland. We’d chosen to support Chathams Air who are providing flights since Air New Zealand pulled out of Kapiti and other provincial domestic services.

This meant a long wait at Auckland airport. Luckily we found the fantastically comfortable Strata Lounge, where for just under $60 each, we had comfortable seats, delicious fresh food – salads and veges to die for! – free WiFi and last-minute iPad charging, and showers if we’d needed them. Although the charge was for 3 hours we didn’t get kicked out and were able to relax there until it was time to board our 1:00 am flight to Hong Kong, en route to South Korea.

Can’t remember much about the HK stopover.

At Auckland airport there were signs around the place asking for patience while they upgrade the facilities. They need it! Without the Strata Lounge it would have been a very uncomfortable wait.

More from Incheon!

South Korea: Ulsan

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Bamboo Forest: one of my favourite places we’ve visited in South Korea. It’s part of a huge park in Ulsan. We got to the bamboo part via a gourd tunnel!

About 10 types of bamboo were labelled, and it was really peaceful to wander along the paths…

…until people began striding through on their way to work, with loud music from iPods etc, and the public address system started, with its mixture of cheesy advertising, schmaltzy 60s pop music and occasional classical tunes. 

Such contrasts in this country that seems to have “grown up” too fast; there’s a lot of glitz and a lot of dirt, strict social hierarchies and cartoonish kitsch. We learned you have to take your shoes off before going indoors because the streets and pavements are filthy and never cleaned.

 

 

 

 

 

South Korea: Chuseok

On the weekend just past, Koreans celebrated Chuseok when families get together and honour their ancestors and visit in each others’ homes: a bit like Thanksgiving plus the get-together of Xmas.

Being family, we were invited to the home of our so -in-law’s Uncle (his oldest male relative) and Aunty; they’d stayed with us when they came across to SG and LW’s wedding with SG’s parents.

SG’s father & uncles and some of his cousins were there; SG and the boys – splendid in traditional hanboks – had arrived earlier, and the others had already eaten when Warwick and I arrived with L at about 10:30 am.

We were made to sit down on the floor at the low table and eat, watched by the men at the table and probably by the women in the kitchen. We provided a great deal of amusement, and the men had Warwick drinking shots of alcohol (only 19% proof, thank goodness)!

Some good luck made me more skilful than ever before (or since) with my chopsticks, as every mouthful was tracked from bowl to mouth, and more and more food pressed on us. We managed to communicate with signs and gestures and a great deal of laughter, and finally I was allowed to sit up on the sofa before my knees and legs totally lost all feeling. Thereafter I was offered more fruit and bean paste sweets that looked like big chocolates but tasted like nothing much. Eventually I copied L, accepting everything but leaving it on the plate next to me.

Warwick continued to sit with the men, which did his hip no good, but made a great impression, with many gestures and much hilarity! We left around midday with much bowing, and kissing and hugs – most unusual in Korean society except with close family – and felt we’d provided them with a great deal of entertainment!

It was wonderful to be made to feel so welcome and included in such a special family and cultural event.

 

 

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holidays are fun, so long as…

Home again after a fortnight holidaying in the beautiful South Island. As we drove, in rental car, from Picton to Christchurch, then (after TranzAlpine train trip) from Greymouth via Haast and Wanaka to Dunedin, then Oamaru and back to Christchurch to fly home, some reflections on holidaying arose.

They begin with (1) at the bottom of the page, and end on the last day of our holiday at (6).

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Some thoughts about traveling:

(6) Before telling airport check-in staff you know you’ve exceeded your suitcase’s weight restriction, check that the $2 shop bag scale is weighing in kilograms.

NB My suitcase did NOT weigh 35kg and only had two more items in it than when we left home (and I’m probably going to wear one of them on the plane.)

(5) The towels are skinnier than they used to be. Motels must get their linen from the same supplier, because although they’re very thick and white and long, the towels are not very wide. Unless you’re quite short, if you want to wrap the towel around yourself, you’ll have to decide which half of you you’re going to wrap! (BTW, I appreciated the motels which provided make-up remover wipes and mushroom coloured face cloth!)

(4) Another motel observation: in most motels, the bed is too soft and the pillows too hard. Curious.

(3) Why do motels have a single switch for the light and fan, and why is the fan so damn loud? Especially in the middle of the night.

(2) South Island roads are great, and well signposted. You can drive for miles and miles at 100kph. You need to take the “slower around corners” warnings seriously, however. The speed limit before towns is sensibly graded down to 80 then 60 then 50 kph, rather than suddenly halved from 100 to 50.

(1) You’ll enjoy your holiday better if you don’t keep a count of roadkill.

 

New book: “Something new to say”

Buy now in Kindle or Paperback format from Amazon.

from Endless Advent:

“This year, may we enjoy this time of preparation, thrilling to angel song and sparkling lights, Snoopy’s Christmas and Silent Night; may the little boy drum for us, and the wise ones’ gifts be ours, as we birth each day the Christ of synagogue and stable. Let us be the gift we long for, after the paper’s discarded and the cards are put away…”

From Space for wonder:

“At this time of year, we can get caught up in the myth, the image of a baby as the fulfillment of hope rather than the start of a lifetime’s responsibility and care, the work of the village, not just the single parent or unstable family. So we hold all parents, all families in our hearts—the wounded and abused, the loved but uncared for, the grandparents exhausted from bringing up children when their own daughter or son is in prison or drug-dependent, mentally or physically unwell…”

from Where are the others?

“As we gather around the child of hope, we’re joined by a heavenly host; the kin-dom of heaven gathers with us—
But where are the others? The brothers and sisters, the half-brothers and step-sisters, the broken relations, torn-apart siblings, the unblended families, the reconstituted ones. All the children with bruises on their bodies; fathers with bruises on their psyches; mothers with bruises on their hearts? Here they are! The jailbird cousin and the crazy aunt. The depressed daughter who’s dragged herself out; the edge-of-hysteria, manic sister; the autistic grandson beind a haybale, rocking; the transgendered, the cis-gendered, the queer and the straight, the birth children and adopted children and fostered children; these fragile families of blood and of choice. All the whanau of Jesus: gathered to celebrate heaven on earth, in the promise of a child…”

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the right to express an opinion

 

“The problem with today’s world is that everyone believes they have the right to express their opinion AND have others listen to it.

“The correct statement of individual rights is that everyone has the right to an opinion, but crucially, that opinion can be roundly ignored and even made fun of, particularly if it is demonstrably nonsense!”

―Professor Brian Cox

Brian Cox

something new to say

Coming soon… “something new to say” – the 2nd title in my ‘words of spirit and faith’ series.

This time the liturgy resources are for Advent and Christmas: poems and prayers, blessings and reflections.

It will be available as an ebook from Amazon’s Kindle Store in mid-May.SNTS Cover 1

you who delight me now an ebook

News flash!

Available from 1 May 2017, “you who delight me” is now for sale as an ebook. Buy your Kindle version now, from www.amazon.com or www.amazon.uk

Plus a new volume of Advent and Christmas liturgical resources is in preparation. Be ready to purchase the new ebook soon!

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3 funerals, no weddings, not-so-new website, not much writing…

So since I last posted here, I’ve been to three funerals – each one totally different from the others in style and content – and missed another funeral and a memorial service because I was just all “funeralled out”.

I’ve been knitting a lot, and blogging about knitted items on my not-very-new website www.littlebrotherbigbrother.com and for sale via bronzart shop on felt.

The past year or so hasn’t been great for creativity, but I’m getting back into it now. Here are my plans for the next few months, so you can check on me if I don’t get onto them:

  1. Check out converting my book “you who delight me” to an ebook and selling online.
  2. Self-publishing another collection of writing as an e-publication (rather than through brilliant but costly publishers).
  3. Revisiting a novel I haven’t worked on since 2005. I kept copious notes, timeline, character descriptions etc – but I didn’t think clearly about plotting and need to find a resolution and meaningful ending.
  4. Keep on knitting: items for sale, winter woollies for my grandsons, and for an exhibition of the Kapiti Arts and Crafts Society, whose Facebook pages I curate.
  5. Take more photos. I mean, apart from the hundreds of my grandkids who are just too gorgeous and cute and smart and charming (of course!). I’m beginning to take cityscape and quirky images again. I’ll post a few recent ones here.

And I think that’s it for First Quarter resolutions.

If you’d like to check out my occasional knitting blogs, written in the imaginary voice of my real grandson, you can follow my Nanna Says posts.

And, depending on your hemisphere and beliefs (or lack of): Happy Easter – Blessed Samhain or Eostre – Shalom Pesach!

Blessings and peace. The light will return…

 

quirky knits – new website

I’m about to launch my new website, little brother, big brother. It features my colourful handmade knitwear, on its own website.

Until now, you’ve been able to see my handiwork here on my knit wit page.

I came up with the name little brother, big brother because my gorgeous grandsons are modelling some of the kids’ clothes I’ve knitted – but I knit for adults, too.

And some novelty items, like Xmas decorations, cushion covers and flower brooches. Come on over and have a look.

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I’m glad you’re still there…

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…it’s such a while since I posted, or felt I had anything to share. I’m hoping I’ll get back and keep in touch more often.

Meantime, for anyone who also has times when you think you have nothing to say nor even the energy to think about it, here are some resources about depression and other invisible illnesses.

You don’t need to do a thing – just look at them, and maybe find a smile…