Sunday, November 21, 2010

A visit to the Coolest Little Capital in the World...

After work on Friday I headed straight off to the Coolest Little Capital in the World for a family event... I arrived at my sister's with just a few minutes to spare before joining them all to catch the bus downtown to Courtenay Place. They live near Otari Bush, so it is not uncommon to see kereru and tui on the trees around their house: this evening I just had time to take a photo of this kereru before the bus arrived...

The event itself was held at Motel, a remarkable little cocktail bar in an obscure little lane, with an unobtrusive frontage.... It was a very sophisticated place- and we had it for our 'private function' until 10pm. My nieces were dressed up beautifully and loved the whole occasion. I was impressed with how well the staff treated all the children...

Next morning we had a little bit of time to explore at Otari Bush, before we left on a 'picnic'. This unfurling frond was on the street frontage outside my sister's place.

When I did the NZ Flora paper this year, we learned a bit about the botanists and explorers who were important in laying the foundations for our understanding of our unique flora. So I was delighted to see this plaque honouring Cockayne at Otari.

And after my studies this year, I also realised for the first time (!) what a remarkable collection of native plants there is at Otari, with collections organised in various ways, and  even including alpine plants..... I must go back quietly on my own one day in the holidays and have a Big Explore!

For Saturday lunch we had a 'picnic', that for weather forecast reasons we brought indoors. My brother-in-law is a remarkable caterer. He had catered for 24 for a picnic.... and here are our individual jellies with fruit!
Thank you extended-family for a lovely celebration!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Corippo- Village of the Scettrini family

I have made a couple of visits to Corippo, the mountain village in Ticino, southern Switzerland, from whence my Scettrini ancestors hail. Here are three photos taken there in a springtime visit, in April 2006 (scanned from pre-digital film photos...)

To get there I joined a regular "Postbus" service headed up the steep, winding road into Val Verzasca. After thirty minutes you get a breath-taking sight of the village of Corippo, with its stone houses perched steeply against a mountainside. Corippo lies at an altitude of 560m, with mountains 2500m high around it. It was founded in the fourteenth century. I approached, very conscious of the link that I was making with my family's past. 

All the houses in Corippo are made of mountain granite, with slate roofs, in a design that is specific to Ticino. The house fronts all look out across the valley, built to face the prevailing rain direction. The buildings tend to have two or three floors with small rooms, plus an attic. Because of the steepness of the terrain, hay and wood were often placed in the attic at the top, from the upper side of the house. 

Locals in the village have always had a hard life with the rough alpine climate, poor soil quality, and steep terrain of the pastures.  In the nineteenth century, the goldfields lured many men away. Hence, the arrival of Giuseppe Scettrini on the goldfields in Victoria, and later on the West Coast...

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Eight great-grandparents

Patrick RIORDAN was born in Curraheen, Co Limerick, Ireland, sometime in the late 1840s, the child of John Riordan and Bridget QUANE. He seems to have arrived in New Zealand aged about 21, c1868.

Mary BURKE was born in the Parish of Inchture, Perth, Scotland, on 21 August 1862. She was the first child for her Irish father, Martin Burke, who left Co Mayo around the time of the Famine as a child, and her Scottish mother, Ann PHILP. She emigrated with her parents to New Zealand aboard the "Mermaid" when she was still only a toddler, arriving in Lyttelton on 16 February 1864.

 Patrick Riordan married Mary Burke on 11 April 1882 at the Catholic Church in Lincoln. 

Jeremiah MALONE and Margaret RIORDAN (no photo) were the parents of my grandmother, Margaret MALONE, who was born in Ballinadrideen, Ballyhea Parish, near Charleville, close to the border of Co. Cork and Co. Limerick. Another of their daughters, Bridget,  also emigrated to New Zealand.


James LALOR was born in Co. Kilkenny Ireland, c 1840, to John and Mary Lalor. He seems to have reached New Zealand c 1866, becoming a goldminer at South Beach. 

Catherine ROWLAND was born 26 August 1845 in Heidelberg, Melbourne, to Christopher Rowland (who was probably a convict from Cork) and Margaret ARBUCKLE. Her younger sister Margaret also later came to New Zealand.

James and Catherine married in 1871 in the Catholic Chapel in Greymouth.


Francis Davis PAYN was born 1854 in "Les Ruettes", St Martin's parish, Jersey, Channel Islands. He was the son of Thomas Payn and Elizabeth MOURANT. He arrived in Canterbury in 1874 on the "Dilharee" with Philip Payn, and was one of three "Larrikins" who discovered the Larrikins lead in 1878 in Kumara. 

Johanna SCETTRINI was born in Sandhurst (Bendigo) in 1865, the eldest daughter of Giuseppe Scettrini (from Corippo, Ticino, Switzerland) and Catherine HENEBERRY (from Ballyporeen, Co Tipperary, Ireland.) The family moved to the West Coast and after living in Waimea (Goldsborough) for a time, settled in Kumara. 

Johanna and Frank were married in 1886 in Kumara.  

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Water Birds

The other day I posted about some 'urban birds'- but now it is time for the 'real thing'!

This morning I went up Kahuterawa Rd for a walk with my friend Sue. It was my first time up there since breaking my arm: you needed to walk close to/on the road and I seemed to lack confidence about that, so it was great to have company. Down in some of the gullies we saw a few pukeko, which are rather shy birds, and tend to disappear when humans appear. Here is one hiding in the rushes- and we know it had a chick not far away.

When I left Sue's I was keen to return to the Lagoon to see how the various springtime young ones had been growing. I guess all the Lagoon birds get used to humans wandering quite close by: I found another 'nest' with some coots in it, only a few metres from the water's edge.

I think these young ones might be the same ones I saw two weeks ago, swimming with their parents who were actively feeding them. But they now seem to have lost the curious red/yellow markings on their heads, and seem to be foraging a little for themselves.

Last time I was here, I was almost falling over the many small cute ducklings. There weren't quite so many small ones this time, but I have to include at least one photo with some cute little ducklings!

Down at the Lagoon today I also saw these Canadian Geese, and for the first time I saw them with some goslings. They look very elegant here- but they are 'introduced' and have been causing some ecological 'issues', largely for farmers.

Well, time to go, and it does indeed seem like I have been posting at a record rate lately - making up for sparse posting during broken-arm-recovery then exam-swotting! I am sure it will all settle down soon....

The Infamous Palmy

Crazy Vet students do us proud. They deserve their 'ain't famous' tag!

Friday, November 05, 2010

Opera Company of Philadelphia "Hallelujah!" Random Act of Culture

H/T to Ironic Catholic, but I gather it is all over the blogosphere. I would love to sing in a massed choir version like this!!!

Square Edge- repainting

Recently Jayne, a fellow blogger from Oz, suggested I might like to visit the blog of Timespanner (from Auckland- but we won't hold that against her!) Timespanner had a recent post up about repainting old buildings, and in particular drew attention to how the Victoria Picture Palace Theatre in Devonport had been repainted, from a 'lolly-pastel' to a plain boring white, that allows none of the interesting details on the historical facade to be easily viewed. I am never a minimalist at heart, and on this building it appears to have been carried to its bland extreme.

However, here in Palmerston North, we have had a building- Square Edge- where the repainting job seems to have gone to quite the other extreme.

The bright colour scheme was clearly chosen to be bright, and to stand out. I have no problem with that per se, but I am not convinced the colours chosen are in harmony with either this building, or with its context in the urban surroundings.
The 'gray' bits you see on this building are not paint: they are stone. And I am not convinced that the bright blue and red paint colours harmonise well with this gracious gray. Perhaps on the clocktower part of the building they suit it well, but at ground level, they seem to have done it a disservice.

But the biggest 'sin' of this repainting job seems to me that the local 'context' has not been considered. The bright red paint on Square Edge now appears to clash with the red brick of the adjacent All Saints Church.
And here is a slightly wider 'context'. Nothing fits, and the buildings all look incredibly 'separate'.

But still, all that said and done, I appreciate seeing colours that do indeed celebrate the facade details, rather than wash them out in white, as on the Devonport theatre building Timespanner has shown....

St Paul's, Wesley

As I walked home, I was at first just looking at the Methodist Church to add another photo to my churches post (below).

But as I got closer, I noticed the magnificent doorway in the old building- and this doorway deserves a post of its very own!

I will let a few of the details just speak for themselves...

Religious Buildings

Sometimes when I set out on a walk with my camera, I am never quite sure what might end up taking my interest. Today the bright red sign about 'special evangelical meetings' at the Gospel Hall took my eye, and it made me think about those citizens of the city who attend services in one of these smaller, plainer, simpler church buildings.
Next I walked past the Emmanuel church, where quite often you see Pacific Islanders all dressed up on a Sunday. With its paler bricks, it tends to 'blend in' and be easily missed as you pass by. But when I looked more closely I noticed the interesting archways above the porches, and the glass cross in the tower.
The Catholic Cathedral is never easily missed: its tall spire draws attention from many directions in this flat town.
 Last church in today's collection is All Saints, the distinctive brick Anglican church on the edge of the Square.