Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Behind the scenes football team AZC-5; Part 2



Dear reader,

Injuries are something special in our football team. What surprises me the most is that most of our injuries happen when Coach Half is with us. There is an explanation for this; Coach Half is with us once every 3 or 4 weeks, Coach 1 is referee and Coach 2 just plays with his grandson. So when we get injured we try to time it when Coach Half is with us otherwise no one will help us, right?
It is sooooo funny to see, when someone is injured, Coach Half runs into the field, most of the time he didn’t see what happened and he often runs to the wrong player. While he is running with his water bag we tell him where to go and who is injured. It really looks very professional. By the way every team of my club has its own water bag including a sponge to help the injured player. But someone took away our sponge. Our coaches were of course shocked, totally in panic because OUR SPONGE was gone. It must be said that they fixed it in their own way and found a solution. We now have a dishcloth, you all know it, a yellow spongy Sorbo cloth. I have to admit that after sometime u get used to it, but when I am home and look at our kitchen and see the same dishcloth I almost get a heart attack coz I am afraid I took the one from football field home. Lucky me, my wife now knows how to calm me down.

On a nice sunny Sunday morning in spring our youngest defender was injured, it was terrible to see; he was screaming loudly for nothing, but ok. The other defenders who stood nearby him, gave him plenty of advice like, “hey asshole nothing happened and don’t let us down”. This is not always helpful so Coach Half has to come onto the field with his famous water bag including that f*cking stupid yellow dishcloth, as usual Coach Half didn’t know who was injured so he runs half way around the field and finally arrives at the right player. When he arrived Coach Half saw that one of the defenders was already trying to take the temperature of the injured player, the only thing was he didn’t used a normal thermometer but just used his finger. Some other guy tried to blow on the wrist of the poor guy; Coach Half asked why and the answer was that years ago the school doctor also told him to blow on his wrist. Coach Half looked bit strange when hearing this explanation. Anyway Coach Half started to make the yellow dishcloth wet and washed the hurt player very nicely. The only 3 visitors of the game looked a bit strange but we’ve gotten used to this over the years. Coach Half also started to investigate the chest of the wounded player by pushing the chest and giving it some friendly hits, he also pushed a little on the bones. The poor guy started to shout loudly and we told him to be quiet coz we didn’t liked his yelling but somehow the player was right coz later on in hospital it was discovered that one bone was broken. We still don’t know if this happened due to the tackle or the first aid of Coach Half. It seemed that the player could not go on with the game so he made it difficult for us to win. However as we have done many times, the defenders did a really good job and saved the rest of the team and that’s why we won this game.

Of course we had a party afterwards in our canteen. The evening before Coach 2 had made some really nice meat balls, very spicy with lots of chilli, his wife was probably not home that evening. He can always explain it to us sooo nicely how he made those meatballs. In the evenings after he came back from the toilet, please don’t ask what he did there, he went to the kitchen and made from some kilos of meat nice meatballs, we still don’t know if the colour of the meatballs, a nice brown, is because of his toilet visit or from cooking but ok. Anyway, when he makes those meatballs for us he always arrives later at football field but we forgive him for this, yes he becomes our hero until we have finished the meatballs. We always tell him how much we love him. Of course Coach 1 and Coach Half become jealous but as soon as we finish the meatballs we start hating Coach 2 as much as before. Anyway Coach 2 had made those famous meatballs the evening before this game and before that youngest player broke his bone. It has to be said that after some alcohol Coach 2 start shouting like a class of schoolgirls and within 5 minutes he totally forgot if we won or lost the game. To him everyone played a good game and he likes to thump everyone on the shoulder who is close to him and when he can’t thump their shoulder he will hit them in the chest. Pity for the wounded player coz Coach 2 could not find his shoulder and therefore kicked him on his chest and yes exactly on the broken bone, it was very funny to see, although the wounded player could not laugh, he is such a pussy. Anyway we stayed late and had lots of fun.

This is also the next problem for most of us; because we have fun almost every Sunday, our wives also know we have lots of fun and that we will come home late. And the next Sunday we hear the story that some wives were angry of course. Yes all of us know that bad story.
We like football and the time we share together after the game too much and not all women agree with us.

Ok and now I reach the end of this peek behind the screens of my team AZC-5. I think this story is the same for all the other teams, every football player will have such stories, don’t take it too seriously just laugh about it.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Behind the scenes of football team AZC-5; Part 1

Hi blogosphere, you will remember a while ago I had a guest blogger, Mr Jan D from my work. He's a guy with a talent for seeing the humorous side in most things, and today he has kindly allowed me to publish the first installment of a story he wrote for his football team's newsletter. He's even translated it into English and I'm sure you'll enjoy it! It's quite long, so I'll publish the second half in a couple of days. Here's Jan...

Dear football friends,

In anticipation of the new football season I want to take u back into the past, despite the advice we hear so often in our lives, work, marriage and even on the football field, “Just look ahead because you can’t change the past”. Its sounds great, those words, but sometimes it’s so nice to look back! In the past everything was better, RIGHT? But not with my team, so I will try to show you how it works.
In my team there are only young guys (45 years old and even older, much older to be honest.) But we also have some young “rabbits” in the team; one even recently became a father again. Knowing that in my team we only talk and reminisce about what we got up to when we were young - which is why we play in this team - this guy went and did what the rest of us can only talk about after our games.
Our team has two and a half coaches. These coaches are like a safe rock in the sea for our team. This is not a joke because when the game starts it really looks like we have two rocks on the field. Every now and then they move a bit but it’s so slowly you can hardly see it. So is it strange that we have 2.5 coaches? NO, this is very normal for us. Coach Half told us a long time ago that he works in a prison and is not available every weekend. Dear readers, I know u that you must be thinking “does he works in prison or is he a prisoner?” Well we had the same question but when u get bit older u get more perspective. Therefore we also love Coach Half.
I’d like to take through a normal Sunday morning. Our home games start at 9.30 am. Why for Gods sake it should be so early? Nobody knows, but maybe it’s because then the neighbours so can sleep in and we don’t bother them.
I’m usually one of the first to arrive, and take a place at the table near the coffee machine. Dear readers, it is so funny to see these talented guys come in, like young dogs! You can see how motivated they all are, their faces shows it, especially when more then half of the guys say “Goddamned it’s still f*king early, I could sleep for hours” and “I wish I hadn’t drunk that last beer." The same defender always asks; “hey mate, which team are we playing,” so then I think all will be fine, pffffff.

But the nicest moment is yet to come because our coaches expect us to be in before 9 am. As the last seconds approach we all count down and everyone who comes one sec too late gets a nice yell from us, coz he will be the substitute for the coming game. Needless to say we also inform our coaches if they didn’t see who was late, and pass on the name of the guy.
Coach 1 is usually already in and is busy in the board room, don’t ask me what he is doing coz nobody knows. Coach 2 always arrives late; we can see him cycling like an idiot to be on time. He is also the one who tells us which players will play. Don’t think it’s that difficult coz normally he writes the names on a piece of paper on Sunday morning when goes to the toilet. It seems he is able to sit very peacefully and let his thoughts go free. A little after 9 we go to the changing room. This is also very funny; the bag with shirts, shorts and socks is sitting on the ground, so you have to bend over to get your stuff. For us this is the start of our warming up. Some guys are bit naughty and pinch your ass when u bend over but as long it’s part of warming up then everything is allowed. After a while every body is quiet again and gets dressed, although some guys are busier dressing their neighbours than themselves but ok.

Suddenly the door of the changing room opens and Coaches 1 & 2 come in, and welcome us with the famous words: “Good morning assholes! Listen and keep your mouths shut while Coach 2 tells you who’s going to play today.” We even don’t have time to say good morning because Coach 2 continues, and we all know with what sentence he will start coz it’s always the same: “It was not easy to make the list of who’s gonna play, but I have succeeded again”. When we look around in the room and see only 11 healthy players, we ask ourselves why it would be so difficult but ok, Coach 2 can look very strict. Most of time when he tells us who is playing we already start talking to our teammates and Coach 2 soon leaves the room looking a bit pissed off. All the authority he has at home is gone 2 minutes after being with us. Sometimes it creates problems because when we are standing on the field, you can sometimes hear one guy saying; “oh shit, you are also playing today?”

Almost every time when Coach 2 is busy telling us who’s playing, I ask him: “How’s your wife, did you two have a nice time last night?” Then Coach 2 forgets what he wanted to say and looks really angrily at me which is a bit frightening.

Recently a linesman joined our team, don’t ask us why but we live in a free world. One thing is for sure, the guy must have a nice wife. The linesman comes in with his little bag and starts changing his clothes. We can hardly believe it but everything he takes out has been ironed, yes we are all surprised and sometimes we also think that she even irons his dirty underwear but we can’t prove that. We see a crease in his dirty underwear but we don’t dare to come to close to it.

Our warming up is a bit different than normal, because usually you go and run but we discovered that putting some ointment on our legs also helps and give us more time to rest. RED HOT is the name of the cream, just put it on your legs, put some water on it and it feels like your legs are on fire. Some guys forget to put the water on and when they take a shower after the game their legs start burning, this is why they are not 100% during the game. There are even some guys who put the cream on other places of their body, but then I think: guys this is not necessary for the game, right?

Sometimes, just after Coach 2 has told us who is playing, Coach Half comes in. He is a very serious guy and starts immediately with who is gonna play. We look at him bit strangely, coz we just heart from Coach 2 who will play, so we think “miscommunication” but Coach Half continues his talk. It seems that Coach 1 has given him the old list with names on it, hilarity all over and Coach Half decides to leave us and go to the canteen for a cup of coffee.
In the meantime we try to get ready for another exciting game. Coach 1 also changes his clothes; it looks like he will be the referee. Dear readers don’t think that because he is the referee it’s easier for us to win, not at all. Sometimes we really think he doesn’t love us anymore. It looks like we only make the violations on the field. But we are still proud when we see Coach 1 in his cute referee outfit hop over the field, like a young deer.
Coach 2 was our lines man but due to unclear reasons he was replaced to the new linesman. It is maybe nice to tell you that, before the new linesman was with us, Coach 2 was a very serious linesman, at least for the first 10 minutes. Most of time we survived these 10 minutes, despite some mistakes from the linesman, we even accepted that he didn’t see offside because it happened more then 20 metres from him. But it’s funny to see him with his flag, it gives us a comforting feeling to look at the side line and see the corner flag up and his flag down. Yes, it’s normal to us and we are used to it, or at some of us. But when, after 10 minutes, the linesman’s grandson comes to see his grandfather, and we look again to the sideline, we only see the corner flag in right position. Our linesman is gone, why?? Because he is playing with his grandson, really nice for the cute little guy but not so nice for us.

Nevertheless our team does exactly what it says, yes sometimes too exactly. Because when our keeper shouts, “leave the ball” when our opponents take a corner and the ball comes in the penalty area, every defender knows DON’T TOUCH THE BALL, but sometimes also our keeper thinks that and that means our opponents score a goal. But ok he said leave the ball and he was right, he also left it alone, F*CK!
You can read on the face of some of my mates; why we don’t have 2 keepers, because competition is a good thing? But to be honest, he has saved us a lot because he is a good keeper although we as defenders have also saved him a lot. Our midfield is the heart of the team, it’s just a pity they don’t know it themselves. But lucky us we have Coach 2. When he sees the game going badly he jumps of his chair and shouts, sorry I can’t write down which words he uses. A little ashamed, we all go on with the game. Our midfielders are awakened by those words and also Coach 2. Really now and then I think that our referee has to laugh a lot when Coach 2 shouts those dirty words to us but maybe I am wrong.

...to be continued next time!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Flash and Jab


Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.............yes you're probably all sick of hearing about the record snow falls in Europe. Airports are closed, roads are treacherously slippery, old people dare not venture out of doors. The Dutch are even pushing their bikes rather than riding them, which is a sign that it's REALLY serious.

It's also the season for 'flu of course, and the BBC reported this week that there is concern among the Powers That Be that too few people are getting vaccinated. Apparently the numbers are 10% lower than last year and with three different influenza viruses doing the rounds at the moment - including Swine Flu - higher numbers of people will inevitably get sick and/or die. Ironically the fact that the Swine Flu vaccine is included in this year's cocktail is being blamed for putting people off getting vaccinted. To me that kind of logic is right up there with deciding to start farming rats during a plague epidemic, but then common sense rarely seems to have much influence on what the massess do.

I'm feeling particularly smug, as you may have noticed, because this is the first winter that I have chosen to be vaccinated. I'm not in a high risk group but last year I had pneumonia twice, which was a truly miserable experience, and when I get a bad cold I tend to get bronchitis so I thought sod it, if there's a chance any sickness I get will be less severe, then I'm grabbing that with both hands.

My GP dutifully wrote a prescription and I collected my vaccine from the chemist after handing over about 30 euros. At this point I was supposed to arrange to go back to my GP so he could adminster the shot but I thought "to hell with that, hubby disappears every year or so for his flash offshore medical training, now's my chance to finally get some benefit from that". If he can set bones, stitch up gushing wounds and insert IV lines, he can certainly give me a tiny shot. So I popped the vaccine in the fridge and informed him that when he arrived home from sea the next day he had a job to do. And that I had a surprise for him in the fridge, haha.

Strangely enough, he wasn't particularly thrilled about the prospect of sticking a needle in my arm. I've administered shots to rabbits a few times and while it's not one of my famourite things it's not a big deal and my upper arm is a lot easier to hit than a squirming bunny. When the time came I swabbed the site, handed him the syringe (having checked the dose etc) and told him to go for it. Five second later it was all over, and no-one was passed out on the floor. He was obviously more relieved it was over than I, and admitted "I couldn't do that to one of the kids".

Gee thanks, nice to know where I come in the pecking order!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Shhhhhh.....


Tonight I was getting Niels into bed, with Carl already snuggled up warm in his room next door. I moved to the window to pull the curtains and "Ooohh!!!" Outside, as quiet as darkness itself, snow had started to fall. Big fat flakes the size of potato chips tumbled out of the night sky, illuminiated by the glow of street lights as they settled then quickly melted on the cobblestones.

I called Carl and he joined us, pink and warm and with eyes heavy with almost-sleep. As the three of us looked out at the falling snow the boys were silent, speechless in surprise at this unexpected white visitor. When they finally started speaking again it was in a whisper, as if talking loudly would disturb the magic and it would stop.


Winter has arrived.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Take That!


Last night I was tucking Carl into bed at the end of another long day. His light was out, the room dimly lit by the illuminated globe on the bookshelf which casts a bluish glow over the room. We were lying on the bed, heads on pillow having our usual goodnight chat; who did you play with at school, what's Sinter Klaas going to give you this year, why he's not allowed to drink three glasses of water before bed, etc.
Sliding my face closer to his, I laid my hand like a roof over the space between our heads and whispered "look, when I flutter my fingers like this it looks just like lightening." He lay completely still, spell-bound by the flicking blueish light as I quickly raised then lowered my hand. Then he wanted a turn.
"Look Mum, I can make the lightening too" he whispered, gently lifting and lowering his hand.

"And...HERE COME THE THUNDER!" he cried and SLAPPED the side of my head!!!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

People Are Awesome...And Then Some!

This is the MOST amazing video you'll see for a long, long, time. Granted, I wouldn't actually actually do any of these things myself, but it makes you feel cool at being part of the human race just to see what poeple are capable of.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Now It's MINE!


The other day the kids were happily messing about outside and, as usual, didn't bother to put away their toys when they finished as it was starting to get dark. Next time I looked out the window, look who had claimed the mini wheelbarrow as hers!



Sunday, October 31, 2010

Houston, We Have Lift Off...

Okay so apart from familiy visits, what made October such a busy month this year? Well I did get to spend a week in Houston, Texas, home of Long Horn cattle, Stetsons, and an event which the company I work for organises every two years called Stainless Steel World. Come on, tell me that name doesn't make you want to grab your passport and jump on the next plane??!
I won't go into details of the event here save to say it was a lot of fun. I didn't really get to see much of Texas; in fact I didn't even see Houston at all as we were located in a brand-spanking new town which seems to have risen up out of the hot-baked earth like a shiny new button, Woodlands. It's kind of a purpose-built community with artfully placed canals, swathes of evergreen trees able to withstand the hot humid summers and the freezing cold winter, and an absolutely HUGE shopping mall. So guess where I was headed when I got a couple of hours free?
The only thing I was really keen on getting was a little something for the kids. I travel for work fairly infrequently and this is the longest I've been away, so I figured I'd have some making up to do when I got home. And boy, did I more than fulfill anyone's expectations!
Have I ever mentioned how much the kids (and, ahem their mother) love Star Wars? Well if you've ever been to our house you would know. Also if you've ever read this or this . Suffice to say we are all huge fans and when hubby's at sea we often save impromptu Star Wars Quiz Sessions during dinner to test each other's general knowledge, and they are closely-fought competitions indeed. Back to Houston; one fo the first shops I came across was Build-A-Bear, an old favourite from Singapore. The kids each have a toy from there - a bear for Niels called 'Beary' and a monkey who is officially called Triceratops Transformer but is now known as "Monkey" for Carl. Let's face it, in the originality stakes their name choices do let them down a bit. The coolest part about Build-A-Bear is that you get to dress your furry friends in some of the cool outifts they sell there, and they've just released a range of....Star Wars outfits! Above is Carl proudly showing off Monkey dressed as Captain Rex (from the Clone Wars series for those not in the know out there).
In the top picture he's also sporting a particularly cool set of Buzz Lightyear pyjamas, from the Toy Story 3 merchandise which is swamping Disney stores in the US at the moment. "To infinity and beyond...!" For Niels I found some very cool Phineas & Ferb sweatshirts AND the soundtrack on C.D., which is doubly-cool!
And finally, who could visit America in October and fail to notice the Halloween accessories? Here you see the boys drinking I.V. bags of blood (strawberry flavoured!) which I picked up to go with the collection of Frankenstein brains, Zombie body parts, and eyeballs from a local store.
In all a very successful shopping trip, which was topped off by a set of Star Wars cookie cutters and even a hand bag!! (SSShhhhhhhhhhhhhh!). But those aren't nearly as interesting as Zombie eyeballs.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Starry, Starry Night...

Good God where does the time go? If I don't get my act together the month's going to end and my blog will be empty! It's been a hellishly busy month, with lots of fun things thrown in the mix to dilute the serious stuff. Top moment: my sister + hubby Anthony and daughter Tazmin arrived from New Zealand (via England, France and Belgium) to stay for a week. It's always great to have famiy visit and because her visit coincided with my kids having Autumn break, they were able to all hang out together and do cool stuff.
Niels went to heaven (a.k.a. Waterloo) and back; for months he has been crossing off the days until he finally travelled with his Dad to the great battlefield to meet up with his Uncle Anthony there. Anthony is also a history buff so the two of them were wildly enthusiastic about seeing the battlefield, and a great time was had by all.

Meanwhile Karen and her daugher Tazmin made their way up to Holland in their little rental car, where I finally met up with them in the forest near the Kroller Muller museum, of all places. What a surreal feeling; the last time we saw each other was when I waved goodbye at Tauranga airport; then there we were in the middle of a Dutch forest! Bizarre but great fun.
By the way this is my absolute favourite museum in Holland: if you're visiting the country you simply must go there for the wonderful collection of 19th and 20th centry art. The van Gogh collection alone is breath taking - the painting above, which hangs in the collection, was the inspiration for the song 'Vincent' (Starry Starry Night) by Don McLean. Outside is huge sculture garden with an amazing collection of permanent works, including several you can climb on.
If you're visiting in good weather the best way to visit the museum is to park your car at the entrace gate and grab one of the free white bicycles to cycle around this massive - flat - park. You simply leave your bike in one of the stands scattered throughout the park then pick up another one when you're ready to move on. There are several more fantastic places to visit in the park that Karen, Tazmin and I didn't have time to see, including the Museonder (Museum under the ground) which is all about nature in the region, and the former residence of the owners, Jachthuis Sint Hubertus.









Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Heading Off To The Pub

Well, not quite, but sometimes I wonder if it's possible for kids of 6 and 9 years old to hit puberty. They have such big mouths! And think they know everything. Niels, being the oldest, is more of a challenge at the moment, but Carl will no doubt catch up. Last week he lost one of his top teeth, an event which seemed to play out in slow motion. Every day he's say "Mum, it's really loose, can't you just yank it out??" Whereupon I'd grab a tissue and try to pull said tooth out of his head. Repeatedly. Seriously, having boys means you get over your squeamishness real quick. That damned thing was so loose you could almost spin it 360 degrees but would it pop out? Would it hell.
His motivation was simple: money. Having announced at the beginning of the year that it was "impossible" that the tooth fairy existed, therefore obviously I was leaving the money in place of his tooth, every loose tooth has become a tool for negotiation. Exactly how much could he expect? Tonight he was having a 'shave' before hitting the bath and I couldn't resist getting a quick pic of him. 6, going on 26....

Saturday, October 02, 2010

What's That??

So I was sitting at the table having lunch with the kids a couple of days ago, when a flash of movement caught my eye. What was that? There was something strange...on the table outside....


At first when I stealthily approached, the foreign being darted down onto the bench and cunningly froze beneath the arm rest, doing a perfect impression of a piece of wood...

Punky Muffin! Once she realised she'd been busted she hopped back up onto the table and continued to eat the flowers there. This is her trade mark "yeah, whatEVER" look:
You might think the logical thing to do would be to move the bench so that she can't jump up on the table any more. Only thing is, it's much more fun watching her eat the flowers than it is looking at the flowers. So, go for it Punky!






Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My Martha Stewart Moment

Ok if these were Martha's apples they would be artfully arranged in a professionally distressed looking crate with rustic sprigs of straw poking nonchalently out...and not a big black plastic bucket.
However, these are my apples, from my apple tree that I planted just 3 short years ago. And this is only half of them! We now have a freezer full of sttewed apple just waiting to be made into apple pie, apple cake, apple chutney.... enough to get us through the long, long cold winter.
Or at least half way.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

Now For Something Completely Different...

As most of you know I'm the editor of a trade magazine focusing on nuclear power generation. No the most obvious choice for a journalist from New Zealand, but hey, it's an interesting field. People often wonder how dangerous it is to have a plant in your back yard; what if a terrorist decided to fly a plane into it like they did with the World Trade Centre in New York? Well, I'm not going to argue the pros and cons of nuclear power here, but you HAVE to watch this short video showing what happens when you fly a fully fuelled F4 Phantom jet at 800 km/hour into the side of a power station. Awesome! Just click on the link:

http://www.ktrh.com/cc-common/news/videos/player.html?mid=VIRAL/F4vsConcreteWall25.wmv&pimg=&redir=yes#

As the commentator says: "when dealing with nuclear material, no test can ever be too drastic".I hope the pilot had good life insurance! (haha)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Forest Adventure; Serious Stuff!

Whether you're living in Singapore or just passing through, if you've got kids you have to take them to Forest Adventure at Bedok Reservoir. It's just scary enough to be thrilling, and the kids get such a kick out of doing it. There are two courses; one for smaller kids, and the other for anyone over 1.40 meters, so it's a great couple of hours out for any age group.
The courses are very well put together, strung high between the trees. Every section is different so there are plenty of challenges. Don't forget to book though; it can get busy and you may have to wait a while if you don't make a reservation. During the week of course it's much quieter.


One of the best bits is at the end, when the kids get to sail out of the trees on a flying fox, complete with blood-curdling yell, of course. Look out Tarzan!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Summits Up!

Here it is; proof that we did indeed climb to the top of Mt Maunganui during our holiday in New Zealand.
Actually, 'climb' is a bit of an exageration, admittedly. There is a fantastic path all the way to the top, and although parts are steep it's easily do-able. Carl demonstrated this rather aptly by choosing to RUN all the way to the top. I plodded on at a stately walking speed. Oh, and before you think that's me in the photo above, it's actually my sister Christine (who hates her photo being taken) so you'll have to take my word that we look just as alike from the front as well!

It was a gorgeous day, and we were only 10 minutes into the walk when the boys stripped off their shirts and started running around in their singlets. Ahhh, winter in the Antipodes! Not a snow storm or treacherous stretch of black ice to be seen.....


Blue skies, even bluer seas....could there be more perfect winter weather??

So there you have it; two thumbs up for doing the summit walk up Mt Maunganui, and actually for everything we did on our holiday.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Classic Flyers Aviation Museum, Tauranga

What would a holiday in our family be without a visit to an airplane museum? To be honest I didn't even realise there was one in Tauranga, although when we first landed and were leaving the airport Niels pointed out the window and said "hey look, an American World War 2 Wild Cat". And indeed it was, although he could have called it anything and I'd have agreed with him.
Classic Flyers Aviation Museum is actually two museums; the front part is a collection of modern and vintage planes, memorabilia and a samll shop, plus a pretty good cafe. A second hanger at the rear houses the Taurange Military Collection, formerly a private collection of military memorabilia.

With a few planes the kids were allowed to climb on and a wide range of exhibits it kept the kids busy for at least 90 minutes, plus there was a cute little playground which kept them busy for a futher half hour. The cafe and museum is rented out for private functions and it would be a great venue for a party. My sister Karen took us there, and probably thought it would be a quick visit; she has two girls, after all. By the time 45 minutes had passed and the boys were only half way through the exhibits she was getting an idea of what it's like to have boys!

If you're in the area and trying to entertain the kids on a rainy afternoon this place is definitely worth a visit. And they make a great Milo in the cafe.



Monday, August 30, 2010

Waimangu Volcanic Valley

While on holiday we caught up with my Dad, who gave the boys a taste of some of the hobbies I enjoyed as a kid, such as shooting. Here they are having a look through the scope on his hunting rifle (with the bolt safely removed of course).
We also did another great walk which I thoroughly recommend; the Waimangu trail, located in the Waimangu Volcanic Valley 20 minutes south of Rotorua. Billed as ‘the world’s youngest geothermal system,’ it’s the only geothermal system in the world wholly created as the direct result of a volcanic eruption - the Tarawera Eruption of 10 June 1886. Dad had heard about this and done it before, and it was the perfect length for the boys.

The trail slopes gently down hill or is flat for most of its length, and takes about an hour minutes to reach the end at Lake Waimangu , from where you catch a bus back to the start. In the summer you can take a boat cruise on the lake and see even more geothermal sites.
It’s a fascinating place and much less touristy than most of the Rotorua geothermal sites; you have to pay but the very well maintained paths, sparkling visitors centre and lovely little cafĂ© make it worth while. Then there’s the walk itself; this area is the site of the world famous pink and white terraces which were destroyed by the eruption of Mt Tarawera.

The trail takes you past lots of hot water springs, pool, and a few geysers, including the incredibly blue Inferno Crater, and Frying Pan lake. There are several ‘champagne pools’ which appear to fizz with volcanic gases rising up in tiny bubbles through brilliant green water. In all, a fascinating place well worth a visit.

Back again!

Hello blogosphere! Yes I’m actually back again after taking a couple of months off. With a four week holiday planned, I needed to get through a mountain of work before heading to New Zealand …you can see when the shit hit the proverbial fan by the date on my last blog! After a month of blood, sweat, tears and narrowly met deadlines, I finally jumped on a plane with Niels and Carl and headed off to spend three lovely weeks in N.Z., followed by a week in Singapore where hubby joined us. Bliss!
We hit the jackpot with the weather this year; despite being winter in NZ, we were treated to absolutely gorgeous weather most of the time.
In an attempt to counter-balance the yummy kiwi food we nostalgically tucked into…I’m talking fish & chips, PILES of seafood, my sisters’ delicacies such as feijoa cake and home made sausages, not to mention loads of crayfish from my Dad…we tried to get and out to do some hikes, or at least long walks.
Since we were staying in Tauranga, a walk to the top of Mt Maunganui was of course a must-do. Carl made me feel both old and unfit by RUNNING to the summit, but the view was worth it (I'll try to post pics later). Blue skies that stretched to meet an aquamarine horizon…long white beaches and the scent of Manuka trees wafting on a warm breeze; remind me again why I ever left the country?! Tauranga was largely unchanged since my last visit, but the Mount seems to be sporting a couple of new apartment buildings, and it’s rumoured that the penthouse on one of them cost $5 million; a hefty sum in kiwi-land.
Oddly enough, 3 out of 4 members of my family had moved house since my last visit 18 months ago, so I spent a lot of time oooohing and aaaaaahing at new houses, squelching my envy at the space and sheer size of the houses which kiwis take for granted. Single level dwellings sprawl on massive sections, surrounded by gardens and lawns on all sides….no semi-detached properties with vertical staircases to be seen! And the views! Oceans and islands and native bush; literally a world apart from where I live.

The photos in this post are from the Karanghake Gorge Historic Walkway, a truly excellent walk which includes going through the railway tunnel in the gorge. My sister Karen has done it a couple of time and knew it would hit the spot with the boys and I. Taking about 1.5 hours, the walk starts just off the main road, with a swinging bridge skirting crumbling remains of the Victoria Battery site (above). You then walking along a narrow path following the Ohinemuri river for some distance, before crossing a steel bridge and entering the 1100 meter former railway tunnel. The tracks have been removed so the floor is more or less even, and initially lights are regularly spaced to provide an adequate - if dim - light. However about a third of the way in the lights stop, and you're walking in pitch blackness, aiming for the distant light of the far end of the tunnel. With the drip-drip-drip of water seeping through the rock for company, it's spookily creepy in a thrilling kind of way which kids just love. The final third of the tunnel is lit again, and from there it's not long before you cross over a high road bridge to loop back to the carpark. I thoroughly recommend this gem of a walk to anyone!
A final parting photo...this is Niels and his cousin Tazmin at Tauranga airport just before we left...but I've jumped forward three weeks and have lots more to tell, so come back soon!




Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Beautiful Game?

Quote of the week from Niels as we were cycling home from Scouts this morning:
"I thought the World Cup was going to be fun, but all anybody wants to do is watch the stupid football!"
I'm with you on that one, kid.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Amazing free-dive video





This incredible short film shows world champion freediver Guillaume Nery on a special dive at Dean's Blue Hole, the deepest blue hole in the world. It was filmed entirely on breath hold by the french champion Julie Gautier. Dean's Blue Hole is located at Long Island, the Bahamas.

To enjoy the movie on full-screen, click on the 4-arrow symbol on the right of the tool bar under the video. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Small Wonders; Nationaal Tinnen Figuren Museum, Ommen

In the picturesque town of Ommen is the most fantastic museum which I suspect is a well hidden secret to many people. The Nationaal Tinnen Figuren Museum (National Museum of Tin Figures) houses a collection of over 200,000 tin soldiers, animals, people, miniature landscapes...everything that you could possibly imagine, and all gorgeously painted. It looks like the whole world is represented in tin figures, and practically everything is just 3 cm high.

Most people, if they ever think of tin figurines, naturally think of tin soldiers but this collection is a real eye opener. From the royal court of Versialles;

...to the Arabian Nights:

...to Hannibal crossing the mountain:

...there was an incredible array of figures. And yes, of course there were soliders. Thousands upon thousands of them! In fact one room is entirely dedicated to the Battle of Waterloo, with a large recreation of the battle using 20,000 hand painted tin soldiers, horses, weapons, trees, buildings....everything you can think of. This is a detail of just some of them:

...and the Battle of Arne, which took place near Ommen a few hundred years ago when the farmers and peasants took on an army of Knights in protest over high taxes - and won - is also beautifully recreated:

As you can imagine, Niels was in his element. We went through the museum in an hour, went and had some lunch, then came back and spent two more hours there! And we could have stayed longer. This place is a treat for both kids and grown ups, and hosts several different exhibitions each year in addition to its own collection. The way the figures are displayed is also wonderful; entire landscapes or interiors are recreated in detail so you see the figures in context, and the skill involved in painting both the figures and the displays have to be seen to be believed. Check out the website (in Dutch and English) for information, or just to admire the photos. I seriously recommend it.