Wednesday, 28 October 2009


Sorry guys it turned out we had inadvertantly blocked your comments - we thought we were protecting our reputation as future missionaries but it turns out we had
a) Blocked friends' comments too and
b) there was apparently no reputation to protect.
So please feel free to comment whatever you want, we promise to read each one (unlike the Commentaries in the library). We are now countdown to Christmas holidays on 5th December so if you plan to send us a Christmas card just send it to Finstown in the usual way it is quicker and cheaper.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Meet the Marwicks!

Just had our first Orkney visitors to the flat..Lauren & Malcolm Marwick from Finstown along with Grandma Marwick daughter Val and grandaughter Briony spent the day here. The girls set about downing enough beer that they could use the bottles to play a scale.. You will be glad to hear it was special Aussi Ginger beer.
Today was Labour Day so it is a National Public Holiday, technically the first day of summer and the day plant lettuce to swim in the sea for the first time. Oddly when we were in the USA Labour Day marked the end of summer and the day to put away your garden furniture. Droll.
We spent a great afternoon feeding ducks at Woodlands estate and then heard Malcolm say that wherever they go in NZ it is sunny while they are out of doors and it rains when they come in - sure enough as soon as the meal was ready the heavens opened!
However it did not rain on Saturday all day so that is a first!!

Malcolm & sister Val in Woodlands Estate Gardens not often are they on the same continent!

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Black & White & all that jazz..

********It was all black & white at Hamilton Zoo these llamas had been lying down on the nice clean straw and the white one was still spruce while his stablemate looked like he needed a good hoover. The chimpanzees were black but moulting (geen intae aussigar!) The zoo keeper summed it up when we all stood watching them slouching about on their bums "Just like watching big brother basically".

In case you are wondering if we saw a black & white panda the answer is no! The panda was red all over. Google 'red panda' if you want - they are gorgeous. Finally I went in wearing a Westray Rugby Top but thanks to a falling white fern I left sporting an All Blacks strip. Bargain!

Tonight the Hamilton Jazz society celebrated 25 years of great jazz and held a black & white theme party. We have been going along each month - you get a great meal and the dance floor is so huge you only need to accomplish a reverse turn every second verse. Easy as.

When we arrived at the Jazz Club they had a poster of all the Jazz greats Jelly Roll Morton, Benny Goodman, Glen Miller, Billie Holliday and Belly Roll Cowan sitting at a table - how did that happen?? Have a look..

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Cowan Bull Stories

****************************** If bulls are symbolic of Spain it is the humble Coo who reigns in this part of NZ. The Waikato (where we are) is riddled with dairy animals, which to our eyes are just plain skinny. In Egypt they could easily have been the ones eating the fat cows .(Think of Stephen Sandison's animals on the Lyde Road).It seems that farming methods have intensified so that more animals are farmed on less land with feed supplements rather than grass. One guy here has 800 milkers on a farm with less than 200 acres. However they are well trained and head for the milking shed unprompted twice a day, and the kiwis proudly tell us that they invented the herring bone shaped parlour. Since this post went up last week I learn that the Cows are only on each 5 acre paddock for a day or at the most two in any week and the gate is opened automatically at milking time so they know when to leave the field. Some other farmers just send a message from their mobile phone to open the gate if they are running late. Furthermore the farmer measures the grass on each paddock every day with a ruler. The guy who started Anchor butter used to farm here but before that he came from Scotland and yes, the butter is good but I miss Lurpack!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Cook's Tour

Well we escaped from Napier eventually (as do many Students in Edinburgh). The two main roads stayed closed all day, the southern escape was still lined with police so we went North on a 9 hour detour through Gisborne. They caught the murderer when we were four hours North and then reopened the roads after 6 hours so it was just as well we didn't wait. At Gisborne we saw the place where James Cook landed - 200 years before the birth of David Morrison. (Do your sums..!)
First we saw his awful big obelisk then we saw his statue, which they later discovered wasn't one they had commsioned of Captain Cook as it was the wrong uniform and didn't look like him at all! The sign says "We have no idea who this is!"
The scenery was great at the way home through millions of trees lining the gorges and rivers and water falls and bridges so narrow we had to queue up to let the re routed lorries squeeze through single file. We ended up in Rotorua - we didn't find the smell of rotten eggs too offensive but the person at the next table in the restaurant thew up her dinner all over her plate so she obviously wasn't coping with the sulphur fumes. We should have asked for compensation I reckon! However we kept on driving through beautiful scenery into darkness and after a very bonny sunset behind the hills we arrived home to Hamilton.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Holed Up!

So here we are still by the sea as all roads North are closed due to snow and both roads South are closed due to a gunman being on the loose following a murder. As Les said to the Tourist Office - "You are kidding me! Is this just a ploy to make us stay longer?" but no, it is now 4pm and there are no roads out of here - so we went to see kiwis.

Thankfully some of the visitors expected here have not arrived either so we got a really nice room with a spa bath at a good rate so being holed up with a sea view is not so bad.

PS - they still haven't got the gunman, reckon I will stay in the spa til they do!

Weekend in Wellington(s)

We have been to Wellington the past 4 days and forthe first time realised that going South is COLD. It was as windy as Orkney on a bad day even if it was sunny at the same time. The scenery is great and the cable car ride to the top of the town saved an uphill struggle - should be part of Stromness Development plan! It was also the main Wellington festival week dedicated to wearable art - some weird outfits!

The reason we went so far in winter was to attend the Vineyard National Conference and we really enjoyed it. The main speaker was Christy Wimber from the USA - she was as the same conference as us in Edinburgh in the 80s and we ended up right next to her in the down town backpackers hotel - she even beat us to the bar after the evening session.
We had a really good visit to Ann & David Heath (Ann is from Papay) for a coffee which took all day we found so much to chat about we were still there for a lovely evening meal. Thankfully we didn't need to visit Geordie Fergusson who is in charge of the British Embassy in Wellington (John Fergussons cousin).

We are now heading back North and the rain is coming down in buckets thankfully we have wellies in the car - it has been loads of rain all week really even when we nipped out at Taupo to look at Karen Aim's memorial bench in the town centre. She is well remembered by everyone you speak to and they all seem to know where Orkney is. The weather may be attrocious but the welcome is warm and we even got free internet at the last backpackers hostel because we were missionaries!