First of all, let me tell you about our visit to the observatory which Iain mentioned in our previous post. I really enjoyed it, but Iain gave the impression of being a little underwhelmed by the whole experience. Between you and me, I think he was expecting to see images to rival those taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. *Insert rolly-eyed smiley here.* The observatory belongs to the Wanganui Astronomical Society, and every Friday night they open it up to the public, two or three society members manning the telescopes and talking about some of the most interesting sights to be seen at that particular time of month and time of year. I was keen to view the moon, but as it was in its fourth quarter it wasn't due to rise until much later at night, so I'll have to go back some time when it's in the correct phase.
the full moon as seen from the northern hemisphere
the full moon as seen from the southern hemisphere
The most memorable part of the evening for me was seeing Jupiter and Saturn. Saturn's rings stood out very clearly and you could see its moons, too. Jupiter looked fantastic - the red spot wasn't visible (must have been round the other side of the planet), but you could see its stripy clouds and its four largest moons, Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.
One of the astronomers had a laser pointer, which he used to point out specific stars and constellations. It emitted a beam of very high powered laser light, which must have reached for miles, and which could apparently blind you if it shone in your eyes. I wouldn't like to have been in a light aircraft over Wanganui that night!
Anyway, enough geeky stuff.
We've also been on a visit to Bushy Park Homestead and Forest, which is about a twenty minute drive from town. The house has recently been renovated, and made into a hotel and conference centre. It's set in several hectares of native forest, and is a very relaxing place to go for a walk.
We took lots of photos of the forest, but due to the very poor light conditions none of them came out very well. However, we did catch this snap of a New Zealand robin. It came up to us and started showing off, hopping around, fluffing its feathers and chirruping. It was very cute. It wasn't at all phased by Iain pointing a camera in its face, and it had lots of tags on its legs, so we think it was probably hand reared.
We've been to two 'games nights' down the local pub now, and we were the only people playing games both times. In fact we were pretty much the only people in the pub on both evenings. It was so quiet that the barman, Alex, was able to join in. We're hoping that when word gets round about the games night people will be beating down the door to get in...or something like that.
On Saturday we went to visit a fellow immigrant, Mike, in Bulls, which is about half an hour away. He cooked home-made pizza, which was absolutely delicious, and we went down the local to watch the final of the Super 14 rugby, between Wellington and Christchurch. It was held at Jade Stadium in Christchurch, and there was heavy fog, but both the match and the TV coverage went ahead, although it was often difficult to see what was going on on the pitch! I think I might be able to get into rugby, if I make a really concerted effort, but trying to watch this match certainly tested my powers of concentration.
Other Whittaker news in brief
- The trench in the patio is not getting any longer or deeper, despite Pookie's best earth-moving efforts.
- I've had another poem accepted for publication in Poetry Monthly magazine.
- We're planning a skiing trip to Mount Ruapehu in July (see the photo in the previous post). Should be interesting. We're both beginners, I'm highly accident prone and Iain is totally uncoordinated.
Our House No. 2: The Dining Room
This is an unusual room. We think it might originally have been the kitchen, partly because the current kitchen is a later addition and partly because it has an odd little cool cupboard that is built out from the side of the house, which we think probably used to be the pantry. It's quite a dark room, and in the past people have attempted to let in more light by adding two extra windows - one on the wall next to the cool cupboard, and the other on the opposite wall that divides the dining room from the hall. There is no door between the hall and the dining room; we think it was removed to let light into the room from the hall. We think the light fitting is probably original, although the fireplace certainly isn't and is hideous 70's-style faux brick with an electric mock-log fire. Yuck!
We're planning on decorating the dining room soon. It still has its original hardwood floor, so we're getting a blokey in next week to give us a quote for restoring it. We're going to add some warmth and colour to the walls, with a rich red on the wooden cladding and a light but warm shade on the top half of the walls (such as cream). Unfortunately, it's highly unlikely our budget will stretch to replacing the fireplace.
I'll sign off now, with a resolution to try to post more often.