Published: April 26th 2010April 23rd 2010
Happy Birthday Mum - hope you have a lovely day! And to everyone else, Happy St George’s Day - celebrate in style!
I think we have had a sign of things to come ... our days have been absolutely glorious up until now, and people keep telling us how lucky we are with daytime temperatures in the mid 20s and bright blue skies - but last night was the coldest we’ve had so far - we even had condensation on the windows! We were snuggled up together all night, but I wonder whether we’ll be purchasing another blanket soon!
However, the sun was shining brightly this morning, and we sat for a while just admiring the wonderful site that we’d found whilst watching the adventure canoes set off down the river. John describes the area as similar to Derbyshire where the mountains aren’t too high! It really is incredibly pretty, with the trees turning beautiful shades of red - the acers are particularly stunning. There’s a lot of stock on the land - sheep, deer, cattle - and we even saw someone herding sheep on a hill sitting on a motor bike.
Soon we were leaving the mountains
behind and had passed into Hawkes Bay, passing numerous wineries on either side of the road (until fairly recently these had been orchards). The oldest winery in NZ is to be found just outside Napier and we were hoping to visit and have a guided tour and do some tasting, but unfortunately didn’t get a chance. One thing that I found interesting is that they only cover the vines close to trees - as the little birds that would feed on the grapes won’t go too far from cover ... we have seen so many eagles and birds of prey here, it’s amazing ... unfortunately they don’t stay around long enough for us to take photos!
Now a little bit of history ... At 10.47 on 3 February, 1931, an earthquake of 7.8 on the Richter scale devastated central Napier on the west coast of North Island. Shortly afterwards, fire swept through the town burning nearly all the buildings that had survived the quake and after-tremors. Central Napier had been destroyed with a loss of 157 lives.
By early 1933 the town had been rebuilt, mainly using Art Deco architectural style, but also a variety of others including;
Art Nouveau, Stripped Classical, and Spanish Mission. Napier was seen as the most modern town in NZ - it was the first to channel all power and telephone lines underground (a problem when they needed to upgrade the street lighting!), the Telephone Exchange had the most up-to-date equipment in the country (by the time it was replaced in c1970 it was the most out-of-date!), it didn’t have verandah posts (only one remaining building still has), all the verandahs are cantilevered giving the streets a more open modern appearance. Incidentally, verandahs were not put there to protect the shoppers from sun or rain, but to protect merchandise from damage by the sun - hence ‘businesses’ such as banks or solicitors don’t have verandahs!
And the colours! Suddenly in a land where buildings were sombre in concrete, brick or cream paint, a whole town burst out in colours such as pink, blue, green, chartreuse, yellow, red/brown, ochre and many more. (It was the colours that I particularly loved).
Unfortunately some buildings were knocked down in the 80s to be replaced with more modern buildings, also much of the decorative glass has been removed by businesses wishing to modernise. I was
expecting to see the occasional building with hints of art deco - I was not ready to see whole streets that look like they’re a movie set for an Hercule Poirot mystery. I honestly felt as if Jane Marple would turn a corner at any minute. We walked round for ages, unashamedly walking into many of the buildings to have a look at the interiors. There was the open-air theatre/dancehall near the beach, there is the cathedral, there are the bank buildings, the solicitors, the shops, all in a multitude of colours. It was fantastic - and how incredible it must have seemed back in the 30s.
As we left, we passed through Hastings, the sister town close by that suffered damage in the earthquake, although not as seriously as Napier. Hastings had decided to rebuild using the Spanish Mission architectural style ... I can only assume someone is still kicking themself on that decision - but I’ve got to say that we found some of the buildings pretty breathtaking there too.
We finally set off on a long journey towards Wellington and a ferry journey to the South Island that we’ve booked for Monday. As we travelled
towards the mountains, there was a band of cloud across them which was highlighted by the sun. It was the most fantastical sight I’ve seen, but unfortunately we can’t share it as there was no chance to take any pictures. It wasn’t such a fantastic sight once we’d entered the very low cloud and lost the wonderful blue skies we’ve been used to and were amongst dark and drizzle.
But I have to say it suited our mood - we’d had the worst possible news from two very lovely friends and our thoughts lay very much with them and how they were feeling at this very sad time.
Goodnight Little Saffron, sleep well, God Bless.
There are more photos below