Windy wellington

The W to Z of Windows and Doors

The W to Z of Windows and Doors

Talk about leaving the hardest to last! The irony is that I learned the alphabet backwards before I was five. I still find it easier to say the alphabet backwards – and to go from the back to the front of a dictionary. So why am I only now working on the W to Z of windows and doors? Why didn’t I start the journey at Z? I have no idea!

But Here I Am!

W – W is for Wellington, New Zealand. A trip to New Zealand was never on my travel-radar, until September 2017. And then, as usually happens, it was circumstance rather than deep burning passion, that had me jetting off to Wellington. And they don’t call it Windy Wellington for nothing! After the pilot had switched off the engines at Wellington Airport, the plane started rocking from side-to-side. With wide-eyes of terror, I was close enough to the flight attendant to ask, “Is that the wind making the plane move?”. She replied in the affirmative, and added “You should have seen it earlier today”.

I’m glad I didn’t!

Did you know that only pilots who have had special training are allowed to land in Wellington? I now know why! And that was my introduction to Windy Wellington.

Despite the wind and the cold, I fell in love with the beautiful city and its people. And its windows and doors! One of my favourite holiday photos is this door in Cuba Street.

Black and white photo - side view of a door with a pot plant near it and signs above it

I decided to feature the photo without colour – it just adds a different feel to the scene. It isn’t the most beautiful door in my photo collection, but it has a certain charm that I love.

W is also for Windsor, an historic town north-west of Sydney.

Windsor is famous for a lot of things, not the least of which being the place where I grew up. One of the great windows in my hometown is in a house called The Doctor’s House. The house overlooks the Hawkesbury River and the old Windsor Bridge. Unfortunately, the bridge is currently undergoing a controversial change – not sure if I would call it progress, but it’s happening.

Old red brick two-storey house with verandah around the top floor with white railing, white doors and white shutters on the windows.

The white doors and shutters in the old house stand out against the red bricks.

White door with arched glass above and window with white shutters set into a red brick wall with sandstone steps leading down from the door
The Doctor’s House in Windsor

There is so much history in Windsor – including the oldest Pub in Australia – The Macquarie Arms Hotel.

Convict life was a prominent part of Windsor’s history and St Matthews Anglican Church, designed by Francis Greenway, was built by convict labour.

And now, X marks the spot…

X – now here’s a challenge! As I trawled through my photos – thousands of them – I came across a place called Xinzhuang, in China – more specifically, Shanghai. The reason I have any photos from Xinzhuang is because I took photos of the arches and roadways leading to Shanghai Airport. According to my trusty photo App, the exact spot of those arches and roadways is called Xinzhuang. Admittedly, they’re not exactly windows and/or doors, but they are close – kind of – (imagination needed for this). All you need to do is build some walls around the arches and Voila!, they would be spectacular doors.

Xinzhuang

Y – Y? Because Yatala starts with Y! And what is the big attraction in Yatala? Yatala Pies! Wait – where is Yatala? Take the M1 Highway from Brisbane in the north, to the Gold Coast in the South, and you will find Yatala just south of Beenleigh. I think the old highway went right past the door, almost, but now you have to detour, just a little bit.

Back in the old days…

My dear old dad used to call in there on his way back to Brisbane from the Gold Coast, to partake of their famous pies. By the way, that’s a hint to how long Yatala Pies has been plying their trade on the side of the highway that links North and South, on the East Coast. Thousands of motorists have detoured over the years and either dined in, or used the drive-thru option.

The important thing is, Yatala Pies has some great windows. Oh, and did I mention how good the pies are? Judging by the number of people dining in or passing through the drive-thru each time I visit, I’d say they’re pretty good!

Stained Glass windows featuring Australian animals - Emu, Goanna, Kangaroo and Kookaburra
Australiana captured in this beautiful window
Stained glass window featuring a red parrots and leaves
Red Parrots – part of the Australian bush, and this window at Yatala Pies

And finally, Z (wish me luck with this one!).

Z is for ?, and there’s always ??, and I couldn’t forget that quirky little place called ???. Dang, what does start with Z? Wait! There’s only one country that comes to mind when I think of places that would start with Z – China – of course! Let me check my photos from China and I’ll be right back, or – brb – as the young ‘texters’ would say.

Z is for Zhujiajiao – in China – somewhere not too far from Shanghai. Zhujiajiao is famous for its heritage as one of the Ancient Water Towns. The following photo is a slight diversion from windows and doors – but it’s just so symbolic of this fabulous place. I took the photo from the balcony of a Starbucks store – that just happened to be nearby. Yes!! Coffee!!!!

And now, back to the windows and doors.

Sometimes it isn’t as much about what the door looks like, as what it represents. In the following photo, it was all about what awaited me on the other side of the door. This was my little haven in Zhujiajiao.

A Funny Thing Happened in Zhujiajiao

On the day this photo was taken, our host had arranged transport for three of us to go to Zhujiajiao for a quick visit.

We had only been in the country for two days and were keen to explore. Our lovely host, Julie, had even written our accommodation address in Chinese so we could easily get a taxi back. Well, we enjoyed a coffee at Starbucks and then decided to cross the bridge. Now really, was it our fault there was a large market area on the other side? And was it our fault there was a ‘foot-massage’ place there? We couldn’t resist some shopping and one of us couldn’t resist slipping off her shoes and letting the cute little fish nibble massage her feet.

Time flies!

By then, we realised that time had slipped away while we were having fun, because that’s what time does. We were late – actually – very late!

No problem, I said, I can use WeChat to contact Julie. But WeChat needs WiFi to function.

Solution?

Go back to Starbucks and use their WiFi. Oh, and maybe have another coffee, because you can’t just ask to use their WiFi without ordering a coffee first. Coffee ordered and paid for – but no WiFi without a Chinese Sim. Oh well, we were already late so we might as well just enjoy the coffee.

Oops!

We found a taxi, managed the address problem and arrived back to a welcoming committee, in the form of Julie. A very-worried Julie!, who was just thinking about sending out a search party to look for us. Naturally, we were grounded! – but we were back in Julie’s good books by the end of the night when she arrived in our apartment to partake of a wine or two with us.

What’s next?

With the W to Z of windows and doors all wrapped up, let’s see where blogging takes me next. I still have thousands of photos and memories just begging to be shared, so watch this space!

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Posted by Maureen in Blogging, Travel, 0 comments
New Zealand: The Land Of The Long White Cloud

New Zealand: The Land Of The Long White Cloud

New Zealand – In All It’s Beauty

In true Gypsy style, my travels are dictated by circumstance, and the trip to New Zealand was no different. When a friend said “Hey, why don’t you meet me in Wellington in a few weeks from now?”, I couldn’t pack fast enough!. It’s good to know that the Gypsy in me is alive and well.

The ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’ used to be an accepted term for the North Island of New Zealand, but now the term generally refers to both North and South Islands. I hope to introduce you to some of the charm of Wellington, on the North Island, through this post.

Leaving home from Coolangatta Airport.

The impending landing into Windy Wellington

Windy Wellington

I should have known what I was in for, weather-wise, when the flight landed at Wellington Airport. The engines were shut down, the seatbelt sign was turned off, and the passengers were lined up in the aisle, waiting to disembark through the front door. Exiting through the rear door was not an option, we were told, because it was too windy to open it. And the plane starting rocking, from side to side, while we waited. In wide-eyed bewilderment, I asked the Cabin Crew behind me if it was the wind causing the plane to rock. And yes, it was. “Oh”, they said, “it was much worse around 1 o’clock today”. Well, it seems like four and a half hours can make a huge difference in the weather in Wellington, and I really should be grateful for small mercies, I thought.

Mental note to self:

“Avoid the 1pm flight to Wellington in future travel”. The mind boggles at how the earlier flight would have felt – given how much the plane was rocking at 5.30pm. I’m surprised they’d been able to keep the aircraft upright. I’ve since learned that only pilots with special training are allowed to land in Wellington. I think I can see why. I can also see why my travel-buddy opted to land in Auckland and take a night bus to Wellington, a few weeks earlier. Smart move – but maybe that vital piece of information would have been better shared with me, before I booked my flight. Still, I made it, intact, so in the great scheme of things I probably have nothing to really complain about.

Bucket List Of Places To See

My pre-conceived ideas of what New Zealand would be like had kept me from adding it to my Bucket List of places to visit. I imagined the country to be a lot like the East Coast of Australia, and the inhabitants a lot like Aussies, based loosely on the fact that Kiwis speak a similar form of English to us. Not English like Americans or British, but average English, give or take a few variations on the vowel sounds. I’m not a big sports fan, but I have heard that Kiwis play cricket, and some form of chasing a ball around a football field, almost as well as their counterparts on the other side of the ditch. But I can’t be too sure of the accuracy of that – not being a sports fan.

How could New Zealand, the Land of the Long White Cloud, be so different to Australia?

One of the most prominent differences is the architecture, particularly in the beautiful city of Wellington. The mixture of old, new, timber, steel, glass and colour, add up to the diversity that makes the city outstanding.

Magnificent old buildings are in abundance, nestled amid the construction of the modern buildings in the city

In the architecture, the old meets the new, on either side of the in-between. I am just a little obsessed with interesting shapes, angles and lines in photos, and Wellington gives me unlimited access to it all.

The hilly nature of the city is depicted by the steep stairs on this street

The steep hills provide fabulous shots of the architecture, coupled with fabulous angles and lines. And I constantly find myself saying, “this place reminds me of San Francisco”. The bay windows, the steep hills, the clouds. Okay, in San Francisco it’s called fog, and here, well, it’s just cloudy, but it looks the same to me, as it hovers over the hills.

On a drab day, the vibrant colour of these buildings really stands out

An apt halo shines like a beacon in this beautiful old church

Cultural Hub

In keeping with the magnificent architecture, the many churches in Wellington make their presence felt. Dotted throughout the city, they provide more than just spiritual guidance to Wellingtonians and multi-cultural visitors.  Rather than just a spiritual home for Sunday gatherings, many of the churches offer lunchtime concerts for city workers, time-rich locals and visitors (like us).

Concerts held in beautiful old churches capture the lunchtime crowds in the city.

Classical music, played by accomplished students of the local School of Music, rang out of this beautiful old building at a lunchtime concert. And with free admission, compensated by a voluntary donation, the concerts are very popular. Guests are encouraged to bring their lunch, making it an ideal lunch break activity.

A Cello concert attracts the lunchtime crowd in a downtown church.

View From The Top

We had a birds-eye-view of the eight extraordinarily talented Cellists, having been offered seats in the Choir Gallery upstairs. The acoustics were amazing and the level of accomplishment of the seven music students, and their teacher, was outstanding.

My travel buddy and I agree that this is a city we’d love to come back to and spend a lot more time in. There is so much to see and do, and the people are amazing. The biggest difference I’ve noted is how quiet the people are. When we take the bus to and from town, we are usually the noisiest travellers on board. We tend to strike up conversations with the people around us and generally ‘Ooh’ and ‘Aah’ at the diversity of architecture and scenery  we pass along the way. No trouble spotting the tourists on our bus: We’re it! It’s us! Hey, here we are!

The Friends We’ve Made Along The Way

One of the great benefits of travelling is the friends you meet along the way – and we’ve met lots of new friends on this trip: Alexis at The Churchill; Alan on the night bus from town; another Alan at the Light House Cinema in Petone; John on the bus at Waikanae Beach; Annette on the Number 7 bus from Kingston; Jet from Rinski Korsakov’s and too many more to mention in this post. Alan (from the night bus from town) has become a special friend because of his impeccable taste – he shares our love of Rinski Korsakov’s – our favourite coffee shop in Berhampore. We’ve swapped contact details and I trust we’ll stay in touch. Alexis (from The Churchill) is another new friend that we’ve shared contact details with, and when she visits Australia later in the year, I hope we’ll be able to help her with advice on traversing our great Coastal land.

The Churchill; a great place for coffee and food.

Did I Mention The Food?

A stroll down Cuba Street opens up a world of culinary delights – equal to none. From Thai, to Wisconsin Burgers, and everything in between. The Ugly Bagel is my favourite, just a few steps down a laneway, opposite Cafe Eis.  Most cafes have a neat little bench across the front window, where we love to sit and solve the problems of the world, while viewing the passing parade of interesting people. Then there’s the Laundry, a fantastic Bar that has the greatest Hot Chocolate and Pecan Pie – I know – it’s a Bar – but since I don’t drink the strong stuff (apart from coffee), Hot Chocolate and Pecan Pie are my thing, especially on a cold and lazy Sunday afternoon.

The only way to spend a cold, lazy Sunday afternoon is at the Laundry

Travelling On

And on that note I leave the Land of the Long White Cloud, otherwise known as New Zealand, for now, with a promise of uploading many more of the thousands of photos I’ve taken so far. We are taking the ferry to the South Island on Saturday morning, and will drive to Christchurch for the weekend, arriving back in Wellington on Monday night. I wonder what the landscape will be like on the other side of the water?

extraordinarily talented Cellists.
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Posted by Maureen in Travel, 2 comments