Friday, December 31, 2010

Back Home

Had a good flight back across the ditch (Tasman Sea) yesterday. Flight was in early and passed quickly through customs so was outside waiting for shuttle 30 mins early. Shuttle driver said he did not want me waiting 40 minutes for other booked passenger on another flight so drove me home alone.  Doubt you would get that service in Sydney.
Biggest problem was I needed to go shopping. I had hidden my car keys from any possible burglary and spent over half an hour turning house upside down before I finally found them. It was clever spot possibly too clever so I will not reveal it here.
You may have seen this video, too true as we get older.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Meri Kirihimete

That is Merry Christmas in Maori.

Actually I am back in Australia for 10 days and I felt the humidity yesterday. Thankfully today, Christmas Eve, is milder.
This is essentially the Christmas message I sent to friends either by email or snail mail and now being sent to anyone else who may read my blog.
Merry Christmas from Dunedin.

It has been a very eventful year for me.

On January 22nd I migrated to New Zealand and within a month I owned a house in Dunedin.  Moving in took another month as my furniture came by slow boat.
I continue to be amazed and thankful that such a big step in my life has worked out so well.  I love Dunedin, have made lots of friends, am kept busy with walks, lunches and musical performances and am financially much better off.  The house is basically sound with a view over parts of the city and the ocean as seen in the photo.

I have had a lot of work done on it to make it more comfortable but the difference in price from my Woodford home has easily covered the costs.  I am now starting to landscape the garden. People talk about the heat if it goes over 25’C but we had a mild winter with only a few light snowfalls (unfortunately while I was away).  However scraping away the frost from my car windscreen was a new experience. (I bought a new Ford Fiesta when I arrived.)

I was able to travel for 3 months from August to October.  I blogged about that journey.
 First I went back to Sydney for 12 days and then on to Europe where the highlights were a 10 day cruise up the coast of Norway,  you can decide which is me and which is the Troll.

Over to the UK and the Prom concerts in London including the Last Night in Hyde Park, walking in the Lakes District and  attending the Oberammergau Passion Play.

I flew to Chicago and New York and then travelled by train up through New England with the Fall colours. I met a number of internet friends while there. It was great to meet up. Then it was on to Canada with a flight from Boston to Halifax, Nova Scotia and by train from there to Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Niagara .

Finally a stopover in San Francisco before the flight back to Dunedin. It seems a bit of a dream now that I have been home 7 weeks.

I am now planning to visit Spain, Portugal, UK and Ireland in May-June next year after spending Easter/Anzac in Sydney. 
I am flying to Sydney next week for 10 days over Christmas. Bev and Russell are coming  here in February and we have planned a trip to Wanaka, Milford Sound, Stewart Island and the Catlins.  Bev was here for a few weeks to help me move in over Easter. We spent much of the time in Mitre 10 but did manage a few days in Queenstown and Christchurch.

I am glad I did not choose to live in Christchurch, the earthquake was only felt as a gentle rocking here in Dunedin.  However I was in Norway at the time.

The final photo was taken in July and shows Harbour Cone which I climbed two weeks ago as well as the entrance to Otago Harbour.

I hope 2011 is happy and prosperous for you.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Worshipping in 2010

Due to my move and travel, I have attended a number of different churches this year.

On the first two Sundays in January I was still at St James, King Street.
Leaving St James was the hardest part of my move.  I loved going there, it was such a breath of fresh air after years of struggling in the average Anglican parishes in Sydney.  I had always avoided the more fundamentalist examples but even when I attended those who had Holy Communion every week and still used the prayer book for their services, I knew that I was not really welcome as a gay man. Or rather I could attend but, like women, I should know my place and not even read the lesson during services.

At St James I knew I was welcome and did not have to hide my sexuality. The services were beautiful, the preaching excellent and there was a great variety due to the many visiting preachers, including women priests from other dioceses. Of course they had to suffer the indignity of being relegated to role of deacon while in Sydney, even Bishop Barbara Darling.  The St James Institute provided a variety of courses which informed my Christian life.

However the 2 hour travel each way was difficult and because the parishioners come from all over Sydney (mainly fleeing the surrounding swamp of evangelicalism) it was hard to develop friendships. I know they are trying to remedy the problem this year. And always there was the dead hand of the Diocese and Jensenism overhead.  I returned for two Sundays in August and will be back there on Christmas Day. We will not have the Prime Minister in the congregation this year as Kevin Rudd no longer holds that position and I presume will attend church back in Brisbane.  Julia Gillard does not attend church.

Then I moved to Dunedin and began attending the parish of St John the Evangelist, Roslyn.

Under the previous Vicar, Kelvin Wright, this parish has developed into probably the most vibrant parish in the diocese. I have formed a number of friendships although I only registered as a parishioner after my return from travels in November. There is a good choir but they do not attempt anything too complicated, the services are not as Anglo-catholic as St James, however there are candles, a processional cross and the altar is acknowledged. These things are nowhere to be seen in the average Sydney parish.  They use the variety of liturgies available in the NZ prayer book which I feel are a bit confusing, coming from Australia where there are really only 2 liturgies available. Of course many Sydney parishes ignore set liturgies all together.

The liturgy and hymns are projected on a screen. I now use the screen for hymns but prefer to use the book for the liturgy. The parishioners include a great variety.  In a conversation, one man told me he had been recently been born again and later expressed reservations about the formality of the cathedral services.  Most, however, are middle of the road Anglicans found throughout the world and only seen as "high church" in dioceses like Sydney. They seem oblivious to the dangers of Jensenism, have heard that Sydney does not allow women priests but surprised when I tell them some parishes do not allow women to even speak and have services not remotely resembling Anglican.  Kelvin often preached in support of homosexuals, including my first service there this year, however he is more reticent now that he has become the bishop.  He appears to be unwilling to create divisions. I am rather concerned that his last published sermon was in July at St Matthews, the leading evangelical parish in the city.

This, of course, is the greatest change at St John's.  Kelvin was consecrated bishop of Dunedin at the end of February. It is great to have such a man in that position and also to have a bishop who knows me by name. Last week I attended the service in the Cathedral for the Pike River Miners. Let's face it, I would not have attended such a service in Sydney if one of the bishops was preaching. Kelvin's sermon was, as usual, excellent and thoughtful, speaking of Christian hope without laying it on thick as the Sydney types are wont to do, seeing such an occasion as just another opportunity to evangelise.

St John's is therefore without a vicar. We had 9 months with Roger who was also excellent and his sermons were great fun as well as instructive, though different from Kelvin.  He had retired last year and has just this month left to resume his retirement.  I will leave any judgment of the new acting vicar until I have experienced more than one service with her.

The new vicar is migrating from England and will not be here until next August. He is Reverend Eric Kyte, Priest-in-Charge of the Parishes of Gisburn and Hellifield in the Diocese of Bradford, England.  As I plan to stay with a friend who lives in Bradford next year, I may take a peek. 

St John's has a variety of ages, which is good to see. There are the old codgers like me and many babies and small children. Being an old codger who has no experience of children, grandchildren or even nephews and nieces, I am sometimes (often) irritated by the noise of children during services. The third Sunday is a family service and the children do not go out to Sunday school and the sermon is geared to them. 

I have therefore taken the opportunity to attend Choral Eucharist at the Cathedral of St Paul's on that Sunday. This month there was a children's pageant at St John's on the 2nd Sunday so my routine varied and I went to the cathedral then. The choir and organist are both excellent and the service is more formal, more like St James. The congregation are older and smaller though this is more noticeable due to the size of the cathedral.  Sadly, I hear, there are ructions within the congregation.  Both the Dean and the Bishop have referred to this in their blogs. I do not know the details but it is a matter for prayer. I know there are financial problems due to the recession. They were not unwise, like Sydney, just too careful so income from assets is low. I do wish they would update their webpage.  Of course, the great attraction to me is the presence of Rev Juan Kinnear, a partnered gay man, as Associate Priest. To have him occasionally preaching or presiding and often present is wonderful.

Besides the monthly attendance on Sunday Morning, I have attended for other services such as the Pike River memorial, the Aids memorial, Advent carols two weeks ago and hopefully festival of Nine Lessons and Carols tonight. 

This year I also visited several churches while on my travels. I researched the details of the Anglican churches in Copenhagen and Oslo but when the days came, I decided to spend my time sightseeing rather than trying to find my way through a strange city. Two other Sundays were spent on board ship in Norway and travelling by train from Mainz to Oberammergau. 

However in London I attended Choral Eucharist at Southwark Cathedral. I had heard Dean Slee preach at St James on April 19, 2009 and been impressed. Sadly he was absent when I visited and, as is well known, has since died. The sermon by Dean Jeffrey John at the funeral tell what a great loss that has been to the Anglican church not only in England but throughout the world.  Even without the Dean, it was an uplifting service at the cathedral. 
I went to Evensong at the other cathedral in London the following Thursday.

In New York I attended Choral Eucharist at  Trinity, Wall Street. 
I was travelling the following Sunday from Burlington, Vermont but attended Mother Amelia's parish church of St Andrew, Newcastle, Maine. The new rector is a partnered lesbian. It was very different from the big city churches I otherwise attended on my trip.

In Montreal I went to Christ Church Cathedral. The president was the Priest in charge Rev Canon Joyce Sanchez and the preacher was the Associate priest Rev Karla Holmes. The new Dean has since been announced. Canon Joyce announced that she had just taken up the right to perform marriages again. Apparently she had relinquished the licence in protest at not being able to perform blessings for same-sex couples.That has now changed in the Diocese of Montreal. In researching her online, I discover she is chaplain to Integrity. 
If I had been a week later I would have found all the bishops of Canada at the service as the Canada synod was held there. I probably would not have got in.

My final Sunday was in Ottawa and I discovered an Anglican church in the next block to my hotel.  The church of St John the Evangelist. I did a double take of the notice board until I read it more closely.  It said "Blessed are the fundamentalists for they shall inhibit the Earth" My initial thought to avoid the church completely was soon changed. 
Another notice was "The Lion shall lie down with the Lamb but the Lamb will not get much sleep"
More research discovered that the church has been a leading advocate of gay inclusion and the previous rector may have been gay himself. So I was glad to attend. 
Both Canadian services had innovative music and in Montreal there was a welcome and the first lesson was read in French and in Ottawa the Lord's Prayer was in French. 

So partly on purpose but also by accident I was able to worship in inclusive churches where GLBT people are valued.  So different from most of Sydney.

This item was in my mind while travelling and has been in development online for several weeks. I do not know how some very busy people are able to make several blog items per day. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Prayers please

My sister is to undergo Arthroscopic Knee Surgery tomorrow (Thursday) for a torn cartilege. While it is not serious surgery, I am worried about any general anaesthetic for a person in her mid 70's. She has been in a lot of pain over the last month so hopefully all will be well by Christmas. I am flying over to Sydney on Monday for 10 days anyway. She and her husband are coming over here in February for 3 weeks. We will be spending 8 days travelling and the rest of the time in Dunedin.

Thursday, December 02, 2010


After reading Alcibiades moving account of his father, I feel I should blog about my Dad.

We were never really close. When we were going through Mum's papers, my sister gave me a photo of him. She says I sniffed and put it aside. I cannot find it at the moment. She wrote me an email about how he was proud of me. She was very close to him.

When I was young, my parents went through a bad patch. Dad was running a failing business. He often came home in a foul mood after drinking. The arguments often ended when I burst into tears or had an asthma attack.  Rightly or wrongly I tended to take Mum's side.  My sister did not see much of this as she, although still living at home, was a young adult and often away.
Dad sold the business and went to work for a company and things between Mum and Dad improved but I think the damage had been done. Mum kept his photo by her bedside for the 32 years she lived as a widow.

We did not have much in common.  Dad spent the weekend tinkering with cars. I still know very little more about cars than how to drive. I have never lifted the bonnet of the new car I bought last February and am confused if a new light comes on the dashboard. I do not like driving.
Dad was not a keen sportsman and so he never encouraged me in that area. He had played cricket and was at school with Don Bradman.  I remember my grandfather trying to teach me to catch a ball (without success) but do not remember any games with my father, although we did go swimming at times.

My Grandfather was a staunch Methodist and drove his son away from the church. Dad was a bit bemused at having a son who spent all weekend at church. He did hear me preach and I am grateful that, after his first heart attack, he regularly attended for the last 6 months of his life.  Although my grandfather was a primary school principal, Dad left school at 15 and worked as a salesman. When I at first failed to gain a university scholarship, Mum talked him into allowing me to attend and paying the fees. However he was proud when I gained my degree.

I only once went to the hotel for a drink with him although in the later years of his life I was spending a lot of time drinking.  I was 30 when he died.  I had left on a 9 month world trip just 4 days earlier and had reached Bangkok.  I returned home immediately but, to be honest, that was more to be with Mum than because of any deep feelings for him. He was not cruel, Mum was more the disciplinarian. They were both fairly strict because they had been wild themselves in their younger days.

While I had told Mum I was gay, my father was never told and when I was being "treated" it had to be hidden from him. I have no idea what he would have thought.

Dad was a heavy smoker and I now believe that was a cause of my asthma as a child. Thankfully I grew out of it but I did hate his smoking near me. He only gave up after that first heart attack.

I suppose I now just feel sad that we did not have a close father-son relationship.
I am posting a photo of their wedding in 1930 when Dad was 23 and Mum 21

and at my graduation in 1966 when I was 22 and he was 59. My Sister and Aunt (Mum's much older sister) are also in the photo.
I have now this month reached the same age as he was when he died.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pike River Mine

News has come through that there has been a 2nd explosion this afternoon and there is now no hope of any survivors.
Please pray for the families of the 29 men, their friends and all the people of the West Coast of New Zealand.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Prayers please

Explosion traps 27 in mine

Emergency services are positioning personnel for a possible rescue bid today for 27 miners unaccounted for after an explosion at the Pike River Coal mine near Greymouth on the west coast of New Zealand's South Island.

The Greymouth region, meanwhile, is in a state of limbo as it awaits news.

Worried families gathered at the entrance of the mine last night, while Greymouth Mayor Tony Kokshoorn warned it might be days before specialist rescue teams could enter the mine.
The miners were trapped after an explosion at the underground mine 50km northeast of Greymouth yesterday afternoon.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

How True!

''It's an amazing thing and I often say it in speeches that I give: you can preach a judgmental and punitive God and no one seems to mind,'' he says.
''But if you preach a God who is too merciful, too forgiving, too loving, then there are all kinds of awful consequences.''
Bishop Gene Robinson as quoted in Today's Sydney Morning Herald
It would be too much to hope that this would be read and noted by those who lead the Sydney 'Anglican' Diocese.

As quoted from Rev Bonnie Perry of Chicago about Bishop Gene.
''His courage, intelligence and good humour have been a blessing to our church and to the millions of LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] and straight people around the world who long for God's justice here on Earth.''

Unlike the hatred and bile that spews forth from the mouth of the Jensenists who then wonder why they cannot even fulfill their objective of attracting 10% to their cult/church.

St James Spire

Please note, although in the Diocese of Sydney, St James states on its website and all publications
"As Sydney's oldest church, St James is place of soul-stirring worship, challenging preaching and fine music. We are a progressive community that welcomes all people regardless of age, race, sexual orientation or religion"

May it's spire be a symbol of true Christian Love unlike the hatred displayed by so many who unfortunately lead the Diocese.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Round The World in 85 days

Golden Gate Bridge
Sea Lions, Fisherman's Wharf
 I returned home yesterday and now have to get back to normal. My home and car were both in good condition.
Garden November 1, 2010
The weather in Dunedin is lovely and sunny although the breeze was a bit cool
yesterday afternoon. I am told Dunedin had its mildest winter in 20 years.
I spent 2 days in San Francisco and rain was forecast on both days although it mainly fell overnight. One day was spent shopping. On the other day I would have liked to visit Golden Gate Park but with rain forecast I stayed closer to shelter. I walked through China Town, down to the Embarcadero and around the waterfront to Fisherman's Wharf. As the weather was not too bad, I took a ferry cruise out to the Golden Gate Bridge before catching the Cable car back to my hotel to collect my luggage and head for the airport.
Photos of Golden Gate Bridge and the sea lions at Fisherman's wharf. Finally one of my front garden this morning which will need to be the focus of my activity for the next month.

Friday, October 29, 2010


Hull to Wakefield Steam Train
Covered Bridge, Wakefield
At Niagara Falls
Park Near Niagara Falls
I have now reached San Francisco on the last 2 days of my trip and will leave to fly across the Pacific on Friday night.

I travelled by train from Quebec to Ottawa last Thursday with a few hours waiting in Montreal from where I wrote my last post. I liked Ottawa although it was bitterly cold. I have never experienced daytime temperature like that in Dunedin but perhaps I missed the worst of winter there. However this was only mid-Autumn in Ottawa. I finally needed the jacket I had lugged around and had only previously worn on deck in Norway. They said there were some snow flurries in the early morning on Sunday. Ottawa is a pretty city and, of course, the National capital. I had a tour of Parliament house (the library is in the first photo along with the river that separates English speaking Ontario from French speaking Quebec.) the second photo is taken from the clock tower of Parliament house over the city.

On Saturday I took a steam train trip (Photo 3) in Quebec from Hull to Wakefield up into the hills. The engine is over 100 years old. It was the last trip for Fall colours and many trees were bare or with brown leaves but I have included a photo (4) of the covered bridge across the river taken from the train.

That was a lovely sunny day but the Sunday was damp so after Eucharist in St John the Evangelist church almost next door to my hotel, I visited the Museum of Civilisations, again over in Quebec Province. A lot to see there and after a brief look at a display of west coast First nations people, I spent most of my time in the Canada Hall which travels through the history of Canada and its many periods.

On Monday I travelled to Toronto and passed through the town of Brockville. (Some may not know I live in the suburb of Brockville in Dunedin). It is a fairly large agricultural centre.  Sadly soon afterwards our train collided with a car and we had to wait 4 hours before being transferred to a following train. That ended any plans of mine to see much of Toronto but unfortunately I have since learnt that a 12 year old boy died and his Mother was seriously injured.

However Yonge street Toronto was very lively, even on a Monday night. It is a large city much the same size as Sydney with many large modern buildings like in Sydney. My views of the city were at night or in the early morning.

Although I stayed in Toronto 2 nights, I spent a whole day travelling down by train o Niagara Falls and back. I do have proof I was there (Photo 5). The season ended there a few days before, so much was closed down but I walked several miles up and down the river looking across at the USA to where I was to return the next day.  Possible it was good to not have so many crowds although the maid of Mist was not running.  I felt the tree colours there were the best of my trip and have included a photo(6) I took in the park next to the falls.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Nova Scotia and Quebec

Cabot Trail
Cabot Trail
Bras D'Or at Baddeck
Chapel of Basilique Notre Dame in Montreal
Botanical Gardens in Montreal
Chinese Gardens in Montreal
Quebec City
I have finished the first part of my time in Canada and am now sitting in the station at Montreal waiting for my train to Ottawa.
Eastern Canada is a place of several languages. Along some of the roads in Cape Breton there were signs in Gaelic and on a bus, I was speaking with an older man who asked me where I came from.  I said he did not sound North American either and he said he was born in Cape Breton but only spoke Gaelic until he went to school. Of course while there we passed through French speaking villages and since coming to Montreal I have been surprised at the lack of English. I think it is harder here than in Paris. I suppose I was unprepared. Before going to France I always do some French revision but not this time.

I had to make some changes in order to do the tour of the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton. I had booked 2 nights in the village of Baddeck and planned the day tour on my one full day there. However they would not run a tour with just one person so I ended up staying 3 nights and travelling on my 2nd day with a couple from Maine, USA and a couple from Ottawa. It meant I only spent one night in Halifax so only had a brief look at that city. To get to Baddeck required a 6 hour bus trip each way so it seemed pointless to go all that way and not do the tour. I think Canada, like USA, Australia and even NZ are difficult to see properly by public transport at least if you leave the main cities.

 I spent 4 hours in the terminal at Halifax airport waiting for the bus and discovered that, as it was a holiday Monday, the bus was packed for the first 3 hours with university students returning to college.  Luckily I also emailed the owner of the guest house (The Worn Doorstep) where I was staying to tell her I would be arriving late and asked where the bus stop was. She replied it was out of town about half a mile on the highway. The town has no taxi service so she offered to come and meet me The bus was half an hour late but I was very grateful as it was raining when I arrived.  Gina also drove me out the morning I left and rang around trying to arrange my tour. I was glad to be able to stay an extra night.

The Cabot trip was well worthwhile with great coastal scenery and autumn colours (photos 1 & 2).
On my other day in Baddeck, I wandered around the pretty little town and the shores of the lake Bras D’Or (Photo 3) and visited the museum of Alexander Graham Bell.  While I knew he invented the telephone, I did not know of his many other inventions including in Flight and his work with the deaf including Helen Keller.

After a brief look at Halifax, I boarded the train “The Ocean” for the 21 hour journey to Montreal.

I was disappointed with Montreal but did visit a museum of  it’s history, the very impressive Basilica of Notre Dame (Photo 4, the chapel) and walked around the deserted waterfront. Everything was closed down for the season. There are vast covered shopping areas in which I got easily lost.  Sunday was better when, after attending Choral Eucharist in the cathedral, the sun came out and I spent the afternoon in the vast Botanical gardens. The fall colours were excellent there (Photo 5) and there was a very impressive Chinese garden (photo 6). A lantern festival held at this time every year was a bit overdone.

I like Quebec City much better. It is a very historic old town and, perhaps because of the large number of tourists, my poor French was not such a hindrance. There were great views of the St Lawrence river and a lot of steps to climb up to the old city (Photo 7) and along its walls. Canada is spending a lot of money on roads as a stimulus program and I think they were also rebuilding the Quebec city walls which was not good for photography. I had two lovely sunny days although it was icy in the early morning and evening. I mainly stayed outside but did visit a number of churches and chapels and spent time in the Museum of French America.

Today I have travelled back to Montreal by train and am waiting for the connection to the capital Ottawa.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Farewell "La Stupenda"

My sister has just informed me that Joan Sutherland has died.  I cannot help it, the tears are flowing.  I had her photo on my wall in Australia and had not decided where to put it yet in Dunedin.  Her voice has given me so much pleasure both in the flesh at the Australian Opera and in recordings.  From what I have read, she was a remarkable person. Thankfully I will be able to continue to hear her remarkable voice.
From the Sydney Morning Herald

"SHE was a transcendental performer who had a magic quality that held audiences captive right around the world. Her influence extended well beyond the opera world and reached into popular culture"
"Lyndon Terracini, the artistic director of Opera Australia, said not only was Sutherland the greatest operatic singer Australia has produced but also one of its most generous and supportive ambassadors of the art form.
''I got to sing with Joan at a number of operas at the Sydney Opera House when I was in my 20s and she was always an interested, open and generous colleague. She was not all protective of her turf.
''When she retired from the stage, she was already a legend and no operatic singer including Melba, in my view, has had that impact, not only in her own art form but to the general public.''
''I think she was undoubtedly one of the most unique voices that one is ever likely to have heard and certainly one of the greatest voices in the history of opera,'' said a former artistic director of Australian Opera, Moffat Oxenbould.
''She had an extraordinary professional ethic … She was a very loyal friend, she was somebody who loved being part of a company … she rehearsed when it was necessary all day, all night, she knew the name of everybody with whom she worked. She was just Joan,'' he said."
Sutherland was nicknamed La Stupenda by an audience at Venice's famous La Fenice opera house in 1960 after a performance of Alcina.
Montserrat Caball√©´ described the Australian's voice as being like ''heaven'' and Luciano Pavarotti once called Sutherland the ''voice of the century''.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

New England

With Mother Amelia
Home of Louisa May Alcott

Some Big Pumpkins

Fall Colours in Acadia National Park

Izzie as a Pumpkin Dog

Decorated Pumpkins in Damascotta
Lake Champlain
The weather has not been entirely kind although hopefully it is improving now.
After two days of rain in New York, I travelled by train along the Hudson River to Albany in beautiful sunshine and, as related in my last message, spent the afternoon walking around that city with my blogging friend Fran.

Sadly the rain returned the next day as I travelled by the Adirondack train further upstate and the journey along shores of Lakes George and Champlain were not as pretty as they could have been.  I was glad however to see Fall (Autumn) colours appearing.
We arrived at Port Kent, across the lake from my destination Burlington, 30 minutes late and in pouring rain. Five people had to run dragging bags about 100 metres down the road to the wharf and as it is a car ferry we were downstairs with only small port holes for the hour trip across the lake. By the time I reached my accommodation I was soaked. It rained most of the following day as well so, after spending an hour or two in a marine museum, I retreated to my room for the afternoon. However it fined in the evening and I discovered the main street is very lively with jazz groups and outdoor dining. Burlington is a university town like Dunedin.

Fortunately Saturday was fine if cold and I spent the morning walking along the lake shore looking at the tree colours.  I had planned a whole day of this but had to be satisfied with a shortened walk of about 5 miles return and then took a cruise on the Lake in the afternoon.
On Sunday I boarded the train, the Vermonter, and spent most of the sunny day travelling down through the states of Vermont and New Hampshire into Massachusetts and finally New Haven in Connecticut. The colours seen in the higher parts were not so evident down near the coast. ,
After a night in New Haven, the rain returned although only light drizzle for the first 2 days, and I travelled to Boston for 3 nights.

The first full day I went up to Concord and visited the home of Louisa May Alcott (Little Women) which was very interesting as well as spending time in the town museum with its history of the Revolution plus stories of Louisa, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry David Thoreau.  I saw some of the other authors’ homes from the outside as well as the many other pretty homes and churches in the town. Finally I visited the cemetery and the authors’ graves.  I had visited the main Revolution sites on my trip back in 1980 so concentrated on the authors this time. 

As I wrote, there was just some light drizzle this day but the following day it poured down and  so I visited the Mapparium, a three-story tall glass globe of stained glass in the Mary Baker Eddy Library then the Museum of Fine Arts with its exhibitions of Greek, Roman sculpture plus European art through the ages and finally a room of historical musical instruments. The impressive Boston Library followed and an exhibition of travel posters of the 20’s and 30’s with some of Australia and New Zealand. Fortunately Boston has some large enclosed shopping centres plus the metro system which allowed me to move around without getting too wet.

On two evenings I went to dinner with friends I had met at the dinner in New York and on the last night we had dinner after attending a talk in the Boston Library by the author Michael Cunningham (‘The Hours’ and ‘A Home at the End of the World’)

It began to fine up on Thursday as I again travelled by train north to Portland where I was met by my blogging friend, Amelia (My Mother is a Father), who kindly offered to accommodate and show me around the state of Maine. The top Photo shows us on her balcony.

I did not realise it would involve so much driving on her part as along with her little dog, Izzie, we went an hour’s drive north of Portland to the little waterfront town of Damariscotta.
Amelia drove me around the waterfront of Portland and we visited the lovely cathedral of St Luke.  Damariscotta was in the midst of its Pumpkin festival and the main street was lined with giant pumpkins being decorated by various artists.

However first we drove a long way north to the Acadia National Park which is 160 miles north of Portland.  Besides more colourful trees I saw a lot of beautiful coastline, bays and rivers, big bridges and quaint light houses.  On Saturday afternoon we watched the town’s Pumpkin procession with some very noisy fire engines which Izzie did not like at all and in the evening we attended a concert of Ragtime music performed in the classical tradition. It was excellent.

Sunday after attending Eucharist at Amelia’s local Episcopal church we watched the Pumpkin Boat Race in which people competed in hollowed out pumpkins first with paddles and later with outboards. After lunch, yes I had pumpkin soup,  with some friends, Amelia drove me back to Portland. Heavy traffic meant I caught the 3pm train to Boston with just 3 minutes to spare and spent my final night in New England before catching an early morning flight to Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Big Cities and Great Meetings

I have spent 3 nights in Chicago and 4 nights in New York and am now on my way to New England.
The weather has been hotter than I expected, Chicago had its hottest late September day on record and was very windy and New York was also hot and humid with a lot of rain.
On my first day in Chicago I met up with "Birdie" Strelitzia (Picture 1) from Indianapolis. She drove for 3 hours to meet me and I was chauffeured in style in her convertible with the top down along  Michigan Avenue getting a very good view of those super tall buildings. We then parked the car and took a river and harbour cruise. I learned all about the various buildings with their different ages and styles as we made our way up the Chicago River under countless bridges then out through a lock into the harbour from where we got a great view of the skyline (photo 2) Great for the 91’F (33’C) temperatures. It was a great contrast in skylines from the otherwise similar tour of canals and harbour in Copenhagen several weeks earlier.
Then over lunch we discovered more about each other than can be gained even from the internet. I greatly admire the work Birdie is doing to increase Gay acceptance in her church and her writing for Bilerico. I do pray her application to work more in the area of assisting gay youth is successful. A remarkable, fun lady.

After Birdie dropped me near my hotel, I met Madeline & Bill (photo 3) in the foyer. They are both former librarians and I have met them several times before, Madeline in Sydney in 98, then both of them at their home in Alabama in 99. They drove over to Charleston to show my sister, Bev, and me around in 2007 and now they flew up for a short holiday in Wisconsin and then to meet me in Chicago. We had several lovely meals together and, on my 2nd day, visited the Adler Planetarium before walking about 3 miles along the lake front to the Navy Pier.  I was sad to say good bye as on Saturday morning they headed for Midway airport and home and I went to O’Hare airport for the flight to New York. Keen travellers, I hope they find time to revisit New Zealand.

While it had cooled in Chicago, New York was still hot and also very humid. After finding my way on the subway to my hotel, not helped by weekend track work, I had a quick shower and was out to dinner with internet friends (Bettermost Forum devoted to Brokeback Mountain fans). The group was spending a weekend with a young couple, Kelda and Callum from Scotland and I had discovered that just by chance I would be in the city at the same time. They had been sightseeing all day but I joined them for dinner in a rather noisy restaurant which did not help my problems with accents. Photo 4 shows me with Meryl.

On Sunday I had planned to meet another internet friend, an Episcopal priest, about an hour’s train ride from New York but Elizabeth has taken a break from parish work so instead I went to Trinity Church, Wall Street not far from the World Trade Centre. I spent an hour beforehand in the area and Battery Point. On the way back to my hotel I saw Archbishop Carnley in the street. Peter Carnley, now retired,  was Archbishop of Perth and Primate of Australia. He has also written in favour of homosexual acceptance in the Church and was reviled by the Sydney establishment, so a hero of mine.  I spoke with him and he mentioned he had attended church at St James, King Street when he lived in Sydney.

I had planned an easy afternoon but the forecast for Monday was not good so I dragged myself out and walked across the Brooklyn Bridge (Photo 5 is an unusual angle). A walk around Brooklyn Heights then I was able to catch a subway train that crossed back over Manhattan Bridge rather than the usual tunnel routes. In the evening I was invited, with the Scottish couple,  to the home of Meryl from Bettermost who also loves Lord of the Rings (and therefore New Zealand).

On Monday. following advice from the dinner group and encouraged by rain, I visited the Neue Galerie which had a Viennese cafe, momentarily transporting me back to Europe,  then it’s exhibition of the sculpture of Messerscmitt about whom I had known nothing . There were also a few works by Klimt and Schiele. I headed for MOMA (Museum of Modern Art ) but found a long queue in the rain to buy tickets. so went back to my hotel room for the afternoon. Unfortunately the hotel in New York was small and poky. It is advertised as in a typical New York Brownstone but steep stairs and lack of light was not very pleasant. My room in Chicago and now Albany have been luxury in comparison at much the same price but I guess that is New York. I am grateful for the recent rise in the value of the Aussie dollar.

 Tuesday started fine but, after collecting my rail tickets for the rest of my US journey, I was drenched by a downpour on the way to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is huge and I could just sample a few sections before lunch then headed out to Times Square to line up for half price tickets to Musicals. Fortunately their was only a slight drizzle and after an hour I had a ticket to “A Little Night Music”.  I was tempted by Phantom, La Cage and Westside Story but had seen all of them. Wicked and Jersey Boys were not available.
A quick trip over the harbour  on the Staten Island ferry gave me a shrouded view of the Statue of Liberty and the Lower Manhattan skyline (photo 6) as the sun began to appear.
Then I had dinner in a French restaurant, getting a good deal with a coupon handed out while in the queue for tickets. I had a front row seat for the Musical starring Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch. It was a wonderful performance.

Today, with the sun shining, I have travelled by train to Albany which I will describe later but the afternoon was another great meeting spent in the company of another blogger, Fran There will be Bread (Photo7). We have been reading each other’s blogs for several years and she is another very busy lady with a university course tonight but took time off work to meet me at the station, drive me to my hotel and then we walked around the city and enjoyed a coffee taking several too short hours to meet the real person. It is so great that the internet has allowed me to meet up with such wonderful people, friends over great distances.
I have probably had enough of big cities for a while but  never enough of great meetings with friends who have been made online.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Good bye to Europe

I farewelled Europe on Wednesday afternoon when I flew from Munich to Chicago.
I always feel sad at leaving Europe, especially Germany.

However back to where I left off in my last message.
I spent Friday night in Luxembourg, partly because I got a good deal as Luxembourg hotels are cheaper on the weekend when the EU bureaucrats return to their own countries and partly so I could add another country to my list of those visited. At first I was disappointed as the railway station area is not the nicest but in a walk around I found the old area of the city and the bridges over a deep valley. I had a few hours before leaving the next morning and quickly visited the Cathedral of Notre Dame and the Flea market in the town square and a brief walk down into the gardens in the valley below the old city. The first photo shows the old bridge over this valley.

My train journey that day followed the beautiful Moselle and Rhine valleys. The 2nd Photo,  through the train window, does not do justice to the views of gorges, villages, castles and river traffic. I had never seen the Moselle before but did cruise along the Rhine way back in 1974. My destination for that day was the city of Mainz.

I walked down to the river side through pedestrian only shopping streets and then found the old city and square with the Cathedral (3rd photo). I discovered that Gutenberg, the inventor of the Printing Press was born in Mainz and there was a museum but it was too late to enter and I just browsed the bookshop.

On Sunday I continued on by train to Munich where I met Peter and Kathy, my friends from Johannesburg, South Africa. We originally met here 30 years ago on the train to Oberammergau and it was their suggestion that we have a reunion that has been the basis for this whole trip. Due to some connection problems last year, they booked much later than me and were staying 14 km out of Oberammergau in the little village of Bad Bayersoien and I went there so that we could have one evening together before I moved onto my hotel in Oberammergau itself. The Lake in front of the hotel was beautiful and my 4th photo is one of many I took of the reflections. It was a typical Bavarian town and I also have many photos of the house with their window boxes.

The following afternoon they helped me transfer by bus into Oberammergau. I loved this town when I visited in the 70’s and later attended the play in 1980 but it has become far more touristy. Possibly it would be nicer in a non-Passion play year. On Tuesday morning I did walk out of the town and up into the surrounding hills, providing the last photo which is of the town from about 300 metres higher. I would have liked to have walked further up but had to return for the play starting at 2.30pm. The play lasts about 6 hours with just over 2 hours break in the middle. It use to be held in the morning and afternoon but this year it was afternoon and evening. As the season is about to end, it was very cold by the finish at nearly 11pm and I was sitting in the front row and the stage is open to the air. We had two beautiful clear sunny days but the nights were therefore quite chilly and the provided blanket was very welcome.

On Wednesday, I travelled back by train to Munich and out to the airport for the 9 hour flight to Chicago.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sydney At it again

Being in Germany, I do not have time to go into all the details, but my sister has drawn my attention to the following article. 
It appears Sydney Diocese wants to divorce the rest of the Australian Anglican Church. Aspinall is obviously concerned. The Sydney Diocese spokesman denies there is any threat but who would believe anything they say especially as regards money. They have not been able to get their own way over women bishops and lay presidency so want to go off and sulk.  I am glad to be living in a much more Christian Diocese in Dunedin.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

London and the Lakes

I have now left England and to keep up the L’s am spending the night in Luxembourg.
My main purpose for visiting London was to attend the Proms particularly the last night so  I attended 2 programs in the Royal Albert Hall and the last Night in Hyde Park across the road. The Thursday night was excellent as I had a very good seat. It was the BBC Philharmonic and they played  Schubert’s Symphony No 8 and Mozart’s No 40 . There was a piano piece by Schumann and the soprano Dorothea R√∂schmann sang the premier of a piece by Robin Holloway. On Friday night I was sitting up behind the choir so while I had a good view of the Hall, it was not the best for listening. Monteverdi    Vespers of 1610 would not have been a choice of mine but the singing was beautiful with some voices coming from high up and original instruments being used. It was a very good experience. Despite having a ticket, I queued for 2 hours to get into the park on Saturday afternoon and was able to sit not too far from the grandstand. Perhaps that was not wise as the loudspeakers were very loud and the lead up music was not too my taste. Serpentine Fire and Nell Bryden are for a younger crowd but I may have enjoyed
the cast of “Jersey Boys” and “Bjorn Again” if the bass had not been ringing in my ears. As my sister says “I have to face it, I am getting old”
The actual program was better although Kerry Ellis and Brian May would have been better a little softer but I did enjoy Neil Sedaka and, of course , Kiri Te Kanawa and Jose Carreras. Crossing to the hall for the traditional final was great but I would have loved to be actually there. However unless I somehow find a way to spend a month in London and attend enough concerts to be eligible, this will never be. I waved both  the NZ and Aussie flags.

I had no particular plans for the day. I did spend over a month in London way back in 1974 and visited again in 76 and 80 so while the city has changed greatly I am sure the Tower, the Abbey etc. are still the same.  I decided to spend time on the South bank of the Thames so on Friday after a haircut and using a laundromat I headed for London Bridge and walked along the Thames and across the Millennium Bridge which was not there in 74. The Globe Theatre was not there but is only open for tours in the morning, The Tate Modern is also new but was evacuated by a fire alarm soon after my entry. I am glad London Bridge did not fall down to make a 3rd.

I travelled upstairs in a bus through the city and Westminster to Victoria and decided to try and find the hotel where I stayed so long those many years ago. i think I found the building but it is no longer a hotel. A decision to walk past Buckingham Palace was inspired as i discovered the State Apartments are currently open for just 8 weeks. It was put into my plan for Sunday.

Saturday I went back earlier and had a tour of the Globe theatre which was very enjoyable and informative. I have included a photo and would like to attend a performance if I return to London.  Sunday, after ridding myself of the headache created by those loud speakers I  went back to the South Bank and Southwark Cathedral for Choral Eucharist. The Dean preached at St James, King Street last year but was not there that Sunday. Then I headed for Buckingham palace and queued for tickets to the State Apartments. Any future visit to London is not likely to be at this time of year so it was a great and unexpected opportunity. I had a very late Salmon and cream cheese bagel lunch in the grounds of the palace. I believe Her Majesty is holidaying at Balmoral so did not meet her. although the news is full of her meeting the Pope today. I am glad to have left London before the confusion that visit is causing to the city.

On Monday I travelled by train and bus to Ambleside in the Lake District. My impression of rail transport in England is not very good to say the least not helped by pouring rain.
It was raining at breakfast time on both Tuesday and Wednesday but luckily I made the right decision to take a lake cruise on Tuesday and walk on Wednesday. The skies cleared as i boarded the ferry and I had a beautiful day for a cruise first to Bowness   then on to the end of the lake where I transferred to a steam train to Haverthwaite. Lake Windermere is one of the 2 lakes used by Arthur Ransome in his “Swallows and Amazons” series and it was great to recognise some sites. The second photo is one of many I took that day.
Wednesday I walked with intermittent showers first up the valley to some falls above Ambleside and across farmlands, then after a coffee right around Rydal Water and Grasmere with lunch in Grasmere. I passed both Rydal Mount and Dove Cottage where Wordsworth lived but did not go in. According to the guide book I walked over 10 miles (they still use miles??? in the UK). Views of the lakes, I have included one of Rydal Water,  would have been nice in sunshine which only appeared for a brief period although there was no rain after lunch.

On Thursday I returned to London, a late bus required sharing an expensive taxi. I stayed overnight in London and attended Evensong at St Paul’s Cathedral . Then it was onto the Eurostar through the chunnel to Paris where I spent an all too short, less than 2 hours mainly walking between the Gare du Nord and the Gare de L’Est and buying a pannini while I waited for the train to Luxembourg. These two train journeys were much more pleasant than the ones in England. I now have less than a week left in Europe.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Farewell to Scandinavia

I am writing this while crossing the North Sea. We do not reach Harwich until 1pm Danish time (Noon in UK) so I am taking the opportunity to catch up on my finances, diary and messages. If you receive this, it will mean I have arrived at my hotel in London as I do not have the internet on the ship. I can see the English coast out of my cabin window but when I went up on deck it was not as cold as expected but sadly no fresh air due to the concentration of smokers. Last night was very blustery and we were told to expect gale force 7 winds and some movement but, if they occurred, I slept through them.
I have, however had English television for the first time in over 2 weeks and have just watched an interview with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa whom I will hear sing at the Proms in the Park next Saturday night. At the end she was asked about returning to New Zealand and she mentioned she was given her first start at the Town Hall in Dunedin and I felt very homesick for my home of only 7 months. After becoming excited at hearing she will sing at the Proms, I was disappointed to learn that she will be singing in Dunedin while I am away.

The trip along the Norwegian coast was so wonderful that it would have been nice to go home and reflect before heading off again but sadly Australia and NZ are too far away so I have had to regroup and continue on.

My recent sightseeing has largely been in Museums, Art galleries and old palaces so not many photos to send. I feel I have seen every picture painted by Munch. I had already seen a few in the gallery in Bergen and visited the Munch museum in Oslo, then saw a whole room in the National Art Gallery in Oslo and finally a few more in the National Gallery in Copenhagen. There is a version of “The Scream” in both the Munch museum and the Oslo Gallery but while the first is expensive with security overload, the second is free with no obvious security. I believe both have lost paintings including The Scream but had them returned.  Munch’s painting grow on one and certainly provoke thought but I do like the other famous Norwegian painter Dahl of a century earlier with mainly great landscapes. The Oslo gallery also had some impressionists and Picasso as well as older painters

The Danish gallery was a bit of overload with some rooms having 4 rows of paintings up the wall. Other than Scandinavian artists I only saw some Matisse and more Picasso but may have missed others.
In Copenhagen I visited the Charlottenburg castle with the State Rooms so will know I have been there when they next show Princess Mary at a function. There were some impressive but modern tapestries (I think made in 2000) The Dining table was huge but no longer used and the silverware would be worth a fortune. . The Rosenburg Fortress had more older tapestries and crown jewels.

I spent time in the Botanical gardens of both Oslo and Copenhagen and while they were nice, it is late summer so not the prettiest time of the year. Autumn colours have not yet started. I have always been told to visit Tivoli, it was closed on my visit way back in 1974 and as it was only 2 blocks from my hotel I went on my second night. It was expensive and not really worth it as I was not going on either the wild rides nor the gentle lake boats at extra cost. I had the worst hamburger I can remember, very overcooked, and listened to a big band for a while, including a Porgy and Bess medley. However I consider Tivoli very overrated. The lighting which came on just as I left was very pretty and I believe there are fireworks at the weekend.

I do wish these countries would adopt the Euro. I know Norway is not part of the EEC but on Monday I dealt with 3 currencies. I managed to spend all except 1 Norwegian coin (about 20 Australian cents) by buying juice, 2 New Zealand apples and a chocolate at the station. I changed a Norwegian note for Swedish currency during my 2 and a half hours in Gothenburg but after paying for the locker and a salad roll was 1 kronor short of any drinks on offer so bought a cinnamon roll and am left with 4 Swedish kronor (80 cents).
Last night I spent my Danish coins on a juice and coffee while waiting to board the ship. I expected to be able to use British pounds on board (the same line between Copenhagen and Oslo accepted Danish, Norwegian and Euro) but only Danish money is accepted so I did not have a  drink with dinner (The meal was prepaid but did not include drinks, not even coffee). I bought a can of Sprite from a machine to  have in my cabin. This morning I found another 50 Danish kronor note in my wallet so have just bought coffee and muffin and am now left with 9 Danish kronor (just short of $2) which will not buy anything. Now I have to get use to British pounds and then back to Euros in a week. At least I would hope I might be returning sometime in the future to use any of those I have left.

We dock in less than an hour and I will have to catch a train to London. It will be wonderful to have announcements in English. After boarding the train in Copenhagen to travel across the country to Esbjerg where this ship started, the conductor told me I was in a carriage which was not going all the way and I had to drag my bags through the train to the right carriage.  The joys of travelling.

I am including photos of the harbour in Oslo, a nice garden near the Rosenborg Fortress in Copenhagen and a view over Copenhagen from the top of the Round tower. I certainly helped my fitness by climbing up there.