Thursday, December 31, 2009

Friday Shootout: Eden Park

Eden Park

To kick off the new year our assignment is UNDER CONSTRUCTION. The first thing that comes to mind might be building sites of construction companies, or construction projects that we are involved in.

However, the possibilities are limitless. Maybe you would like to feature the construction of your new year's resolutions.

I am on holiday and my mind is also on holiday, so I take the easy one, the actual construction or reconstruction of our biggest rugby and cricket venue.

Home to rugby and cricket. Eden Park was named the finals venue for the Rugby World Cup 2011 and the co-host for Cricket World Cup 2015.

Today, Eden Park seats 48,000 spectators. The Park will be redeveloped to a 60,000 seat capacity in time for Rugby World Cup 2011.

This is the second time I got near to Eden Park. The first was when the South African Spring Bok's tour in 1981. We were living in Kingsland and were walking near the Kingsland Train Station. The then Prime Minister Robert Muldoon, whose public position was that politics should not interfere with sport.

There we saw the protestors holding banners chanting, one, two, three, four, we don't want your racist tour. The late David Lange, the then opposition leader was among the protestors. I wanted to join them and be part of History, but the water engineer stopped me. Things could get nasty as the supporters of the tour were also there. Some were shouting," Commie, go home."

I took my photographs at the exit 29.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas turkey and ham

It was twenty three years ago when I had Christmas with my parents and brothers and their families in Australia. This year, I made an impromptu trip to Australia and celebrated Christmas with them at Joseph's house.

What is Christmas like Down under without the snow?

Joseph roasted/smoked his turkeys in an American Weber BBQ, and Charles did his yummy ham. We had a great time despite the hot Australian summer. There were prawn platter, chicken, salad, salami, beef jerky, fruit platter and the fiercely claimed by Australia and New Zealand Pavlova. And plenty of champagne and vodka to wash down the food.

My brothers are great cooks.

Lovely music, beautiful singer Elly

I am on the Gold Coast Of Australia. The weather is very very hot. Too hot to my liking. Tonight, my brother Joseph and his wife Audrey took me to a Thai Restaurant.

Next to the Thai Restaurant is Buona Sera Italian Restaurant. There was beautiful Elly with her beautiful voice entertaining the restaurant guests. A little boy with a ukelele was trying to accompany her play.

I asked Elly if I could take her photo and she kindly obliged. So if any of you, especially those of you in the North Hemisphere is yearning for hot weather, and hot music, do head this way.

The restaurant is at the Corner of Chairlift Ave and the Gold Coast Highway at Nobby's beach.

Elly, I extend my New Zealand appreciation, we could hear you from where we were sitting. Paki-paki aka clap clap.

Save the World: Use natual pest controls, Penny royal

Penny Royal

I don't like to use the aerosel chemical sprays to kill insects, and in Auckland, we sometimes get infested by fleas even though we don't have animals. Flea bites are terrible.

I google searched for natural flea repellent and found that Penny Royal plants are good. My Penny Royal plants grew very well. I managed to propagate 5 little pot plants which I sit on our window sill. Tiny purple flowers grow on the plants. The leaves are very pretty, so even if they don't repel fleas, they make a pretty house plant.


I don't know if they actually repel fleas which was why I bought them. But so far, since I last posted on fleas, we haven't been bitten.

The leaves may be dried and used in sachets designed to keep insects away.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

My World Tuesday: Rocks

There are many places with volcanic rocks in Auckland. I always picture the lava projecting out of the crater and solidifying as projectiles.

Sam likes climbing whenever he see them.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Macro Monday" Pumpkin flower

Looks like Sam had some luck with his pumpkin plant though he grew it too late. We found this half pumpkin half flower and Sam was happy that it was producing a fruit.
We are not exactly excited because we don't eat pumpkin. Many friends don't understand why.
You see, Mum and Dad grew up as kids and teenagers during the Second World War when the Japanese plundered Borneo. Import of rice and other food ceased, and the poor people depended on root vegetables and pumpkins to survive. Dad said they ate so much of the boiled thing without any salt or oil. They were so scared of them. Hence, they never served it to us.
When I was in primary school, Dad would drive us pass a small river where there were barges laden with pumpkins. Dad told me that the pumpkins were for pigs. This "Pumpkins were for pigs" were so ingrained in me that though I am past half a century, I would still not touch pumpkin.
Once, my American neighbour gave me a pumpkin pie. I thought the water engineer and the kids would eat it, but they didn't. It remained in the fridge till it got mouldy. When I mentioned this to my friends, they LOL and asked why I didn't give it to them.
The water engineer grew up in a small town where people have a small garden. Friends and relatives gave him pumpkins, and I didn't cook ithem At first, I just left them in the pantry until they rotted. The water engineer asked why I didn't cook them. Later, I gave them to my friends. Some cooked and gave me some, again they sat in the fridge making pencillin.
The funniest anecdote in the family would be when Mum and Dad went to Christchurch, New Zealand to visit my Kiwi sister in law for the first time. For the Kiwis, a roast leg of lamb if often accompanied by roast kumara and pumpkin. That is supposedly one of the best dish you can serve. Mum and Dad did not eat the pumpkin wondering why Karenserved them such a lowly vegetable. Karen thought she didn't cook well. Years later, when I came to NZ, I cleared this misunderstanding.

Friday, December 25, 2009

sunday stills: Odds and Ends

I was being a nosy parker whilst walking along Sandringham Road when I saw this unusual wall.

I hope it has evoked as much curiousity in you as much as it did in me. The round disc is I think the top of a very large water bottle. One of the gnomes was really eroded.

This is my odds and ends.

Sunday Stills, the next challenge: Odds and Ends
Posted in Sunday Stills Challenge of the Week, the next challenge with tags Sunday Stills on December 20, 2009 by Ed
I guess this would be anything odd lying around, so use your macro skills if you wish. Consider this a scavenger hunt and have fun…:-)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Friday Shoot Out: Angels

December 25 - Christmas Week - "angels" by Kim

She appeared at Christmas at the Park, she has wings. Therefore she must be an angel.

Save our world and think green: Don't burn our garden waste

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Burning causes haze and emits harmful pollutants. I remember the worst haze in Singapore occured when jungles were burnt in Indonesia and Malaysia. Planes had to be rescheduled in Kuala Lumpur because the visibility was so bad.

Here in Auckland, you can collect all your garden cuttings and waste and put them in a yellow bin, The "green cycle" yellow truck will come and collect your clippings. They will take them to be chipped or composted.

My World Tuesday: Boys' toys

These toys were brought to my Church, Mt Albert Baptist Church on Fathers' day. They are what every boy/big boy would wish for Christmas.

Macro Monday: Strawberry

Strawberries are in season at this Christmas holiday. It's red and green make it the right colours. Strawberries and cream, strawberries and icecream, strawberries and pavlova.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sunday stills: Christmas decorations

This iconic structure of the Auckland Sky Tower is lighted up by different colours. This month it is Christmas lights of blue and red. I did not take photos at night because my little camera is not good enough.

It is summer in New Zealand, people pay money to go inside the ball to get a feel of snow and Santa,

Again, may be it is summer, New Zealanders have picnics on Christmas, and they have teddy bears' picnic.

Santa seen from the Sky Tower, 192 metere up.

Sunday Stills, the next challenge: Holiday Lights and Decorations
Posted in Sunday Stills Challenge of the Week, the next challenge with tags Sunday Stills Challenge on December 13, 2009 by Ed

Who did’nt see this one coming..:-)

Merry Christmas to everyone and a Happy Holidays…Ed

Friday My Town Shootout "your town "dressed for Christmas".

Usually November is our annual pre Christmas Farmer's parade in Auckland. Farmers Santa Parade started in 1934. This year’s parade is the number 76th.

Parents, grand parents and children line the main streets of Auckland to watch the carnival displays of floats, music, dancing and the works. This is the main parade as there are similar smaller parades in the suburbs like Henderson. We have about 1.3 million people, about 20% of Aucklanders and hordes of tourists are at the Parade. It is summer here, and it gives a different feel to the tourists from the Northern Hemisphere. I used to take my kids, but they lost interests when they grew older, especially when they have to wait for so long in the hot sun..

1989, the year Andrew was born and died, my very good friend Gwen offered to take D and G to go with her. It was so touching of her. She said," the girls would like to go, and I know you have no mood to go."

These photos were taken in 2006, the last time Sam went to the Santa's parade. After that he said," It is boring."

The Parade Route is 2.2kms long and takes approximately 50 minutes to pass any given point. The Parade ends at approximately 3.30pm with the After Party from 3.30pm to 5.30pm. It is the biggest event in the heart of the city of Auckland.

New Zealand is famous for her Manuka honey. It is known as liquid gold. The bees were there.

Murray Ball's 'Footrot Flats' cartoon strip characters, farmer Wal and Dog, became iconic characters of life on the farm. They became popular even in Australia. It ran from 1975 until 1994 in newspapers around the world,
There were many bands that played.

When Santa came in his sleigh pulled by his reindeers, the children cheers. I grew up in a culture which did not believe in Santa. I did not tell my kids that Santa came. While the girls were born in New Zealand, they and Sam grew up as kids in Singapore. So there was no problem of ruining their fun.

This is the iconic Farmer's Santa of Auckland. We were driving down from Upper Queen Street to the Downtown of Auckland. Santa is now perched at the Whitcoulls building. He shifted from Farmer's Trading Company at Hobson street.
I was so preoccupied with taking Santa's photo that I forgot to take the photos on the Queen Street. You can see the ribbons twirling on the poles on both sides of Queen Street, our main street of CBD.

Christmas decoration is simple compared with Singapore.

Santa has reindeers by his sides, and this year, they remodeled them and didn't reveal the remake until Santa's parade.

The big man himself, a romantic story, you either love him or loathe him.

Friday My Town Shootout Dec.18th
This weeks theme is ""your town "dressed for Christmas".

The Farmer's Trading company is 100 years old this year and Santa made his debut on their big Hobson Street store in 1960. Farmers erected a giant fibreglass Santa weighing two tons (1814 kg) on the front of their building on the corner of Hobson Street and Wyndham Street in Auckland.The store sadly no longer no longer exists, it has become the Heritage Hotel. It is more 20 metres or 79 feet tall, and it's gigantic size used to frighten some children.

To the PC correctness people, Santa is a dodgy or dirty old man. He had a winking eye and a finger that beckoned people to the store. Some PC said he was a peadophile and the finger was to attract kids.

When interviewed, most grown ups remember Santa and would like him to stay.

Santa was Farmers Santa for almost 30 years. But in 1990 they put him up for sale because of the massive costs of running the ‘aged and inefficient landmark’. This was the same year Farmers turned over responsibility for its Santa Parade to the Auckland Children's Christmas Parade Trust.

After a roundabout trip to an undignified sojourn at a rigger's yard and sold for $1, Santa made a come back. Gone was the winking eye and beckoning finger. Please read below if you are interested.

The Manukau City Shopping Centre purchased the giant Santa and he graced their building for three or four years. But at some point they also found the burden of his upkeep too heavy and for another couple of years he lay disused in a rigger's yard. In 1998 a marketing and events consultant, Stephen Hanford, purchased Santa from the yard for $1. It cost about $40,000 to restore the ageing Santa. This included a paint job, removing rot from the fibreglass structure and rust from the supporting structure. Over 60 people contributed time, services or money to the project.

The restored Santa found a new home above Whitcoulls on Auckland's Queen Street, and the company took on his annual bill of $55,000. This covered liability insurance, storage, and the cost of getting him up and down each year. But in December 2008 Whitcoulls declared that they could no longer absorb the cost and gifted Santa to the city. This put the burden back on ratepayers. Auckland CBD lobby group, Heart of Auckland City, subsequently asked Aucklanders whether they wanted foot the bill for Santa. Alex Swney, the CEO of the group explained:

In December 2009 sculptor Damien Kutia, the man behind the revamped appearance of Auckland's giant Santa, put Santa's ‘dodgy winking eye' up for sale on TradeMe. It sold for $790 with a percentage of the money going to the Child Cancer Foundation.