Rutherfords Den, Christchurch New Zealand

entrance beside the clock tower

Scientific discovery and hands-on experimentation take centre stage at the state-of-the-art Rutherford’s Den in the Arts Centre, Christchurch, where New Zealand scientist Ernest, Lord Rutherford started his scientific career in these very rooms.

Rutherford, the moustached man on the $NZ100 note, discovered what the inside of an atom looks like, found out about radioactivity, discovered and named alpha and beta particles, and was the first scientist to change one element into another.

As a pioneer of his time, it’s only fitting that cutting-edge technology is being used to tell his story, says Arts Centre CEO André Lovatt.

“We’ve carefully kept the beautiful heritage features but have injected the space with new energy by using state-of-the-art storytelling techniques that will appeal to people of all ages.

“You can literally step inside an exhibition that illustrates what atoms are or use your own movements to learn about renewable energy sources. In the actual space where Rutherford conducted his research on radio waves, there’s a projection of him that includes original voice recordings – making you feel as though you’re in the same room as him.”

The original Lecture Theatre is exactly as it was – graffiti and all – until the digital screen at the front starts playing a movie that was commissioned by the Arts Centre.

“So much of what Rutherford discovered led to the technology we enjoy today and we want visitors to learn about this in fun and exciting ways. We want it to be a place where people of all backgrounds are inspired to believe that everyone has the potential to achieve greatness.”

Before the 2010/11 earthquakes, Rutherford’s Den was popular with locals, tourists and the schools that participated in its curriculum-linked education programme and te popular education sessions are now once again being offered on-site at the Arts Centre. Bookings and further information can be found on www.rutherfordsden.org.nz

Rutherford’s Den is located in the Arts Centre’s historic Clock Tower building at 2 Worcester Boulevard, adjacent to the Great Hall.

For more than a century, the Arts Centre site was home to Canterbury College and from 1890 one of its students was Rutherford. He was a regular Kiwi who became known as the father of nuclear physics and in 1908 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

 

 

 

Gratitude for all my travel

“I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.”Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

I feel the same way about my photographs.  I’m never bored as going through them  I get to travel the world yet again and for that, I’m really grateful.

I feel sorry for those, in these times of the Covid -19 pandemic, who have saved and planned for years and who have had their one big dream travel trip cancelled – mostly with their money down the drain.  I too have had trips cancelled, but at least I’ve had years of travelling the world, mostly solo, and have accumulated numerous memories.  My photos are merely prompts – I even have a box of photos for friends and family, or dementia ward staff, to use to prompt me.  Just a little forward planning for something I don’t think will happen is luckily for me, there has been little cognitive degeneration and my family.  Here’s hoping that continues.

I look at my walls and my living area and see photos of, the salt plains of India, a Buddha in a tree trunk rubbish bin, sunrise over a river in central India, a promiscuous monkey at a national park in Malaysian Borneo, and finally, post 2010/11 quakes in Christchurch, a huge bronze bull on top of a bronze grand piano.  The stories behind each of these photos, like Oscar’s diary, give me sensational memories.

Here are some more photos, each which have a story behind them, and right now, in fact, especially now – in lockdown, I can write a story in my mind as I wandered down my memory lane of travels.  I’m grateful for the life I’ve had, the places I’ve been, the people I’ve met, the things I’ve seen, and all my memories.

Canterbury Plains New Zealand
one of my favourite animals
fun in the media’s mosh-pit #rwmf #Kutching
Taj Mahal – misty morning view from the river
Ahmedabad, Gujarat
a musician plays while we plant mangroves. Sarawak, ‘greening the festival’
main mosque, Oman

 

 

at one of Mumbai’s railway stations
it’s satisfying to plant mangroves
musician, annual Rainforest World Music Festival, Malaysian Borneo
I’m riding the rapids
young shags at Zealandia, Wellington New Zealand

the Taj and the buffalo
I’m part of the ceremony to turn men into monks on the day of the King of Thailand’s 70th birthday
minor traffic jam New Zealand
China

Canterbury, New Zealand

Post Covid-19 travel: when and where will you travel – or not!

When will you start travelling once we have COVID-19 under control or at least contained?  Check out the map below-the world is a huge place.

my office map 🙂

If you’re a kiwi you’ll soon be able to travel all over New Zealander again. What will be your destination, and will it be to visit friends and family or as a tourist or traveller?  What about a trans-Tasman bubble?  Will you go to Australia? (or NZ) 

Peacock Fountain, Christchurch Botanic Gardens
quintessential Australia – a sleepy koala

If you’re not resident in New Zealand, when and where, will you start travelling to?

birding in Florida perhaps?
Cycle trip in Thailand?
Off to the Moulin Rouge in Paris perchance?

My belief is that tourists will stay home for quite some time however, as always, solo travellers, nomads, and backpackers, in general, will be the first onboard planes heading to exotic destinations. Backpackers, of course, are a state of mind – it’s nothing to do with their luggage or the amount of money in their bank account. They are the explorers who want to learn new things, to meet new people, see new things and of course, taste new food!

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So what places are on your travel list my bucket list is so long that at my age I know I will not be able to tick many off

Unless of course, I meet a tall dark handsome stranger who is happy to fund my travels – I’m open to that!

Fancy a cruise on the Yantzee river – I did. Maybe post-covid-19?

The Yangtze is the lifeblood of China; a vital artery from the glaciers of the Tibetan Plateau to the spectacular East China Sea.  It weaves among fertile agricultural lands, through towering limestone gorges, past hidden villages and into the heart of great cities.

Today, 5th May 2020, I’d booked to fly out of Auckland, New Zealand, to cruise the Yangtze on this riverboat. I was going to ’. . . . step back in time in the historic Kuanzhai Alley of Chengdu, known for its traditional teahouses and vibrant outdoor dining scene; witness the landscape fly by on a high-speed rail experience, and then embark on a four-night cruise aboard the Century Sky or Century Glory river ship. Cruise along the Yangtze in comfort, admiring the ever-changing scenery from bustling cities to remote villages and hilltop pagodas. Visit Yichang, gateway to the Three Gorges; and stop in colourful Chongqing, known as the ‘Mountain City’. Relax on board, or take advantage of optional tours such as the Three Gorges Dam, Shibaozhai Pagoda, and an in-depth tour of Chongqing.

I do have a replacement voucher to do this trip in 2021 — I wonder if it will happen post-Covid-19?

I wonder if I will get to weave some Yangtze River notes I made– from China’s Water Crisis by Ma Jun 2004 pub: EastBridge.  [Originally published 1999 by China Environmental Sciences Publishing House] for an article or two. here are  a few

  • quote: it was alongside a river where Confucius said: thus do things flow away, never ceasing day and night
  • China’s landmass is drained by the river, 6300 km long, more than 700 tributaries
  • ‘one does not have to be a hydrologist or an environmentalist to see in an instant that the Yangtze these waters are just about as muddy and turgid as the yellow River is and there is garbage and other waste everywhere. P.45/46
  • 1949 after it took over, the Chinese Communist Party right away started pumping money into taming the Yangtze p. 46
  • the expression ‘great river flowing eastward’ represents the role the Yangtze has played in Chinese geography, certainly for centuries if not millennia p.47
  • numerous rhinoceros, deer, fish, turtles, and alligators thrive in cloud Lake and dreamlike to huge wetlands between the Yangtze and it’s tributary the Hun. P.48

Oh well, it was fun planning and researching  – hopefully, this time next year I will be on this boat enjoying my cruise!

Post COVID-19 we will travel again – so solo, or with others?

Do you travel with others or alone? What are the pros and cons? And once this virus is under ‘control’ how will you travel? Alone or with others?

Which do you prefer – on a bus with strangers; with a friend; with your partner, or independently?

Whichever you choose, your travel journey becomes different because of that choice!  I mostly prefer solo, independent travel – however, I have friends who think there could be nothing worse!  I once travelled in parts of Europe on a bus with strangers – at every stop, we were always waiting for someone and that drove me nuts.

When travelling with a friend, we have to be very specific about what is, and isn’t, acceptable -especially if you’re sharing a room.  Of course, it’s very easy to say, but sometimes it’s hard to do -leaving one of you, sometimes constantly, inwardly fuming.  It’s very easy for one of you to minimise your requests, wants, or needs.

Over the years, during times of travelling with another person, these have been the issues of being confronted with.  Not always easy to solve – although if you both can compromise 50% of the time things work out.

  • Someone with a well-developed fear of germs and food that’s ‘different’
  • Night owls who want to talk – I’m an early bird
  • Coughing, but not taking, or refusing to buy, medication
  • Proposing things to do, we agree, then changing their mind – resulting in more convoluted conversations about option A B or C
  • Struggling while carrying  many bags instead of one or 2
  • Train travel only because ‘a friend said the buses were dangerous’

What has been your experiences of travelling alone, or with others?  What problems have you encountered, and what advice would you give to someone who was planning travel?

Britomart

Despite the Covid-19 lockdown, I refuse to stop travelling!

Despite coronavirus in cities and countries being locked down, I refuse to be locked in – just as all my ancestors did in the mid-1800s – fleeing Scottish clearances, Cornish tin mine closures and the Irish potato famine.

And despite my trip to China – a river cruise on the Yangtze River  -being cancelled, and the fabulous Rainforest World Music Festival  -in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo, being postponed until further notice, I refuse to be locked in despite the virus and, despite being compromised by age, nothing will stop me, travelling.  I remember a song from my parent’s era “don’t fence me in.”

Coffee in XIam, China

Travel writers have an affliction which, means they, I, we, are doomed to travel and as I said despite COVID-19 and the lockdowns all around the world  I am going to keep on travelling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday I was in Oman, today I’m in Dubai with my parasol and a few days ago I was back in my home city Christchurch,

Solitude, Wellington, NZ
Peacock Fountain, Christchurch Botanic Gardens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve also been down on the Wellington waterfront I’ve seen some birds that I saw in India yet again and I’ve even been upright on a paddleboard in Fiji.

So, take that coronavirus you’re not going to stop me – my memories are too well embedded for me to be isolated in my lockdown bubble, I can, and will travel the world with my wonderful memories.

What a privilege, it’s been to have travelled so extensively and I’m grateful for the example my parents set of not wasting money, saving, and living frugally as required.  they also left me a small inheritance which, after a lot of earlier travel, enabled me to do even more.

I recall being on a plane -in 1995 – petrified that at age 50 I still wasn’t old enough to travel the world by myself (with no bookings).

If I run out of memories, I could be jogged by just some of my clippings or books.

So where are you travelling to while in lockdown? I’ve been to Alaska in bwZimbabwe I’ve been to London, Wales, and Borneo. I’ve been to the USA, Mongolia, Zimbabwe and had a river cruise in Europe – to name but a few.

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Warning: reading this may make you want to travel

Stuck inside under Covid-19 isolation I’m just remembering this wonderful trip’

Kiwi Travel Writer talks food, travel, and tips

read this and start packing

” ‘Why do you want to go to Zimbabwe?’

Even I thought it seemed a little silly, when I replied ,’Because I like the name.’ Zimbabwe sounded exotic and I just wanted to go.

Now I’ve arrived in Africa and I’m ready for my big adventure: a canoe safari down the Zambesi River.

Standing on the banks of the calm looking river, I am beginning to get scared. Watching us is the biggest, meanest looking crocodile I have ever seen. Lying in the sun, he seems to be inspecting us. I watch him and he watches me as I listen to our guide’s safety instructions.

“Keep looking for hippos, usually you will just see their little ears sticking out of the water, and every few minutes I want to you give a little knock on the canoe so they can hear us coming. If…

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Covid-19 and the travel writer!

What to do, what to do!

How can I be a travel writer and stay at home? What will you do? (NZ goes into shutdown in 2 days)

Well, the first few days in, and all is well.  In fact, I have just made a coffee date for in a few days – my neighbour and I will make our own coffee, sit on our respective balconies, and talk over the fence.  I’m sure we can make that a regular occurrence.

‘Have a coffee with me’ an old man indicates – I do. Muscat fish market, Oman,

However, a trip to China – a river cruise on the Yangtze River has been cancelled, and the Rainforest World Music Festival which I love to attend (in Kuching Borneo) has been postponed until further notice.

adventure in Sarawak after the RWMF

So, what is a travel writer to do, well, actually what I can do is go over all my old notebooks and photos and tell you about some of my past travels -actually, some of which I haven’t even written.  Others I would have written about parts of it, but there is still way more – so, lots of virtual travel still coming your way from me :-).

So a few more stories from my last travels and Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

Siam Reap cultural show

Are there any topics about travel, in general, you would like me to cover?  I’ve been travelling solo for a long time and specifically since 1995 so have a lot to share.

In the meantime, I have to adjust to being mainly confined to my apartment.  Luckily, I have a big view and a balcony where I grow flowers and veg. I have lots of gratitude :):):)

I’m also sprouting beans, creating nice dishes for my dinner, keeping in contact with friends via the Internet and phone and not living all day and my PJ’s – I’ve already been caught once on a video call!

I’ve also decided to use my travel medication boxes on a weekly basis, as without my normal routine I think I could very easily forget them.

Of course, I will also be reading copiously, and maybe even lying down and be ‘read’ audiobooks 😊

If you need some e-books perhaps you’d like to check these free books (below) out while most of us are confined at home.

For now the physical world is reduced to my map in the kitchen

Off on a road trip

I’m passing thru Whanganui in a couple of days – heading further north – and we will stop to stretch our legs and have lunch. Here are some notes about the lovely little city.

 

what pencil do you use?

When planning a road trip to Whanganui www.wanganui.com  you soon realise the Bridge to Nowhere seems to have no road either. To see it requires a long hike or a jet boat trip up the Whanganui River.

However, there are many ways to drive to this river city. So, if you’ve been skiing or hiking near Ohakune, I recommend you use the historic and popular, ‘Rural Mail Coach’ route. This scenic route, narrow, windy and beautiful, takes longer than the 106-kilometres suggests.  Allow 4 hours or longer if you plan to hike or take photographs on your journey.

Leave State Highway 4 at Raetahi, heading for Pipiriki (27ks) where you will join the 1935-built Whanganui River Road.  Pipiriki is the first of many historically significant settlements along the way, each o which have good reasons for you to stop.  A little further on is the Omorehu waterfall lookout and the picturesque Hiruharama (Jerusalem). This was home to both James K Baxter and Sister Mary Aubert whose catholic mission and the church is still there.

A few more kilometres on is the restored, two-storied, 1854, Kawana Flour Mill, only a 100-metre walk off the road. Back on the road, just before Koriniti, is the Otukopiri Marae and in 1840, site of the region first Anglican Church.

If you want to stretch your legs, the Atene Skyline Track has a 1½ hour track that takes you across farmland and up to fabulous views of the region. Returning to your car, you will soon be driving through an old seabed, the Oyster Shell Bluffs, before moving onto Parakino and your destination, Whanganui city.

The architecture here is varied.  Some of the oldest buildings are the 1853 Tylee Cottage (Cnr Bell and Cameron St), the old St Johns post office (Upper Victoria Ave) and the 3-storied Tudor style Braeburn Flat.   It’s also worth visiting St Peters Church (Koromiko Rd), the 100-year old opera house and the award-winning Sarjeant Art Gallery (Institute of Architects Gold medal 1961). This magnificently proportioned building has naturally lit galleries and the steps leading to it are the resting place and memorial to 17 soldiers who were killed in 1865.  The buildings in the Queens Park area around the Sarjeant are considered one of the best formal townscapes in New Zealand.

Alongside the river, as well as cafes and the River Boat Centre, is the must-visit Moutoa Gardens, site of an old fishing village and where an 83-day occupation occurred in 1993.

Wanganui is compact and all attractions are within walking distance. The revitalised Victoria Avenue has gaslights, wrought iron garden seats, plane trees and wide paved footpaths. The Thai Villa (http://www.thaivilla.co.nz/ ) is in Victoria Avenue, river end, and this fully licenced and BYO restaurant comes thoroughly recommended. Then, while you are near the river, take a cruise on the restored paddle steamer, Waimarie.

Whanganui has many festivals including a book one early in the year. Another is the Real Whanganui Festival http://www.realwhanganui.co.nz/  that includes the Wanganui Glass Festival which showcases the talent of local artists www.wanganuiglass.com   in September 2011

Phare Circus: Siem Reap, Cambodia – a must visit

A circus in Siem Reap?  Absolutely! And, it’s become one of the city’s biggest attractions – and has a positive social impact.

Siem Reap, Cambodia, of course, has the incredible Angkor Wat temple complex and the awful, infamous Pub Street but it also has many charity and community projects like Phare Circus which aid this still-troubled country. (see also my blog about the HeroRATS) Both initiatives benefiting great causes as do many of the places we visited, ate at or bought from during our week there.

Phare, the Cambodian Circus, is an offshoot project of Phare Ponleu Selpak – a Cambodian non-profit, non-governmental association founded in 1994 by eight young Cambodian ex-refugee artists in the area of Anchanh Village, Ochar Commune, Battambang Province – a few years ago I spent a week in Battambang, (on the other side of Tonle Sap) right opposite the market and loved it.

The Phare Ponleu ‘helps vulnerable children, young adults and their families, build careers of Cambodian Artists, to revive Cambodian art scenes, to make worldwide arts connections with Cambodia and to contribute to the artistic, educational and social programs of PPS Association.’

When I, and a friend, attended the circus, it meant we were doing more than paying to be entertained: our money benefited the growing arts scene in Cambodia, that is, helping talented young people get the opportunity, income, or training access in which to develop, and showcase, their skills.

The Phare Circus is an incredible hour of traditional and modern theatre, music, dance, acrobatics, athleticism, juggling and contortion all beautifully choreographed and performed in stories about Cambodian lives and society. We loved it and talking to the young people after the show reinforced the value of attending.

Shows, each of a different theme or ‘tale ’change about every eight days. It seems tales, and sayings, are a big part of the local culture and the circus is an extension and visual representation of this with the moral of the shows often being about facing your fears in order to overcome them. The performance we saw was about being different, and bullying – combining laughter, happiness, music, and entertainment in a superbly presented show.

I recommend getting advance reservations during high season. (November through April) as performances sell-out most nights during this period.

It’s more than ‘just’ a circus, and the performers use – with energy, emotion, enthusiasm, and talent – theatre, music, dance and modern circus arts to tell uniquely Cambodian stories – historical, folk and modern. What’s even better – no animals!

All the Phare artists are students and graduates from Phare Ponleu Selpak’s – an association which was formed in 1994 by young men coming home from a refugee camp after the Khmer Rouge regime.

“They were greatly helped during that time by an art teacher using drawing classes as therapy and wanted to share this new skill among the poor, socially deprived and troubled youngsters in Battambang. They founded an art school and public school followed to offer free education. A music school and theatre school were next and finally, for the kids who wanted more, the circus school. Today more than 1,200 pupils attend the public school daily and 500 attend the alternative schools. Phare Ponleu Selpak also has extensive outreach programs, trying to help with the problems highlighted in their own tales.”

Phare The Cambodian Circus offers these students and graduates somewhere to hone their skills and a place to earn a decent wage, money that takes them out of poverty and provides self-respect and freedom. Many of the performers have gone on to be employed by the likes of Cirque du Soleil and Phare Circus also travels the world so you may see them in your backyard!

Phare, The Cambodian Circus is one of Cambodia’s most innovative social enterprise models. Profits generated through ticket, refreshment, merchandise and private performance sales support the free education, professional arts training and social support programs of Phare Ponleu Selpak in Battambang. It is one of the business units of Phare Performing Social Enterprise, along with Phare Creative Studio. Other business units will come soon. The circus survives through sales of tickets, merchandise, refreshments and private events. Ideally, the business will do better than just pay bills, but also make a profit from these activities. The majority shareholder is Phare Ponleu Selpak NGO School. Therefore, the majority of the profits go to support the school’s free education and social support programs to 1200 students daily.

Circus Phare The Cambodian Circus a responsible, social business in many other ways too. While always keeping an eye on making a profit to send to the school, other efforts are made to benefit society when possible. We both bought some items in the Phare Boutique shop as it supports local artisans and craftspeople. (higher quality souvenirs or gifts than you will find in the big markets – where many items are imported ☹) Royalties for each show performed -that was created at the school –  are paid to the school before profit is calculated. The business invests a great deal in the personal and professional development and the welfare of the artists and staff and participates in many community activities, sharing art with Cambodian people who otherwise might not be able to experience it.

The school survives mainly on donations and earns some revenue through sales of show tickets, merchandise and refreshments, but it depends mainly on donations. Maybe you can help – each little bit helps – and, if I get back to Cambodia, I plan on visiting the school.