Anyone else having blog trouble?


Late this afternoon I couldn’t access any WordPress blog, including this one, although I could get to other web pages, including blogspot blogs.

Now Worpdress problems seem to be sorted but twice tonight I haven’t been able to post comments on blogspot blogs (I keep getting a message saying there are errors in this form).

Is anyone else having problems and does anyone know how to solve them?

UPDATE: The comment problem has solved itself. maybe it was just a temporary tantrum from  the tech fairy.



Thirty years ago the Lower Waitaki plains were dry and barren. The stone-strewn paddock supported a few sheep and crops which only did as well as the weather let them.

Then came irrigation. In its wake new business opportunities followed, on and off farm. One of these is Riverstone gift shop:

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 It grew and then came Riverstone Kitchen which offers delicious food, efficient and friendly service in delightful surroundings.

We lunched there today. It hadn’t occurred to me to book, but I will next time because it is now so popular we were lucky to get the second last free table.

Misses nine and four were happy with the play area inside and the swings, chickens and peacocks outside while waiting for the food. The menu catered for them and the adults.

Chef Bevan Smith uses good quality, fresh ingredients. He grows what he can in the garden on-site and sources as much as possible of anything else he needs from local suppliers.

 Today I enjoyed the Italian Provincial Soup:

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Then my sister in law and I shared a chocolate sour cream cake with berry compote and vanilla bean ice cream:

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Did you see the one about . . .


Man vs Mutt – the Skeptical Doctor on why it’s better to be sick as a dog (Hat Tip: Not PC).

The Weldon Index – Cactus Kate’s CEO income assessment tool.

Hello Sailor – Quote Unquote spots a floating double entendre.

Another Day at the Office  – Waitaki Blog’s working view.

Competitive mothering, a non-contact sport, confessions from a real mother from Eleanor Black at Pundit.

A get-rich quick scheme – Lindsay Mitchell adds what just about everything is costing us.

So that’s how it works – In A Strange Land shows how the sewing machine works.

Truly Glorious – Laughy kate luaghs at a fancy dress party failure.

Really, really old


My Australian nieces have brought their parents to visit us.

As you do when you’re in North Otago they went to look at Elephant Rocks and the skeleton of the baleen whale.

Miss four was telling me about the whale, ” . . . and it didn’t have any skin.”

I explained that was because it was really, really old which got the inevitable question, “how old?”

I replied millions and millions of years. She looked blank.

I said, “even older than me.”

The light went on.

Bringing history alive


North Otago is justifiably proud of its beautiful old limestone buildings.

Old, though is relative. Nineteenth century is old in New Zealand, because we’re such a young country. But it’s little more than yesterday when compared with Europe where it’s possible to visit so many more buildings which are bigger, more beautiful and much older.

We can however, give visitors something more, if we can bring the buildings, and our history, relatively recent though it is, to life.

This is the motivation behind Inside Victorian Oamaru.

The concept was revealed at a presentation on Friday which opened with this video:

It continued with an introduction by the steering committee which was interrupted by professional actors who gave us a taste of what visitors might see and hear.

The presentation was brilliant and if the project succeeds it will be even better.

The concept will use 21st century technology to tell 18th century stories and bring history alive for modern audiences.

Visitors will be able to watch a storm in the harbour, 3D will make it seem as if the boat is coming at them, 4D will allow them to feel the wind in their hair and spray on their faces.

You can get a small taste in 2D version of what visitors will see in 3D here.

I was enthralled by the presentation and I’m excited by the potential of the project.

It has been developed by talented people. One of the men behind the concept, and project is Scott Elliffe of Living History, which brings The Great Storm of 1868 to life every summer evening.

The ODT lists some of the others :

Grant Major, who won an Academy Award for production design on Lord of the Rings: Return of the King and also worked on King Kong, Heavenly Creatures, An Angel at My Table and Whale Rider.

Michelanne Forster, an award-winning script writer, Zoe Hobson, of Dunedin-based 38 Pictures, Gallien Chanalet-Quercy, involved in the production of the 3D Experience at the Sir Edmund Hillary Centre at Aoraki Mt Cook, and Hillary Norris, an accomplished New Zealand actor and director, were also involved.

It’s a brilliant idea, they’ve done the homework and put a lot in to getting it to his stage. To go further needs more money though and the Waitaki Development Board has applied for a $2.1 million grant fropm the Ministry of Economic Development to launch the project.

If they get the money, Inside Victorian Oamaru could be bringing history to life within 12 months. That would, in the words of Development Board and Steering Committee chair, Phil Hope, make Oamaru not just a place to drive though, but a place to go to.

What’s in it for us?


North and South editor Virginia Larson tells us in this month’s editorial she requested an interview with All Black captain Richie McCaw.

I wanted to find out what makes a leader out of a young man; what people and places shaped him in his childhood; how he bears the hopes and expectation of thousands every time he leads his team into the arena.

After some exchange of emails with McCaw’s agent, a final phone call came to this: “What’s in it for us?” said the agent. Well, there was no money, of course, and on the spot I couldn’t guarantee a cover . . . But didn’t he value a thoughtful, in-depth profile to be read by close to 3000,000 people . . .

Clearly, he didn’t. Access denied.

If the All Blacks, want to gain back the place they once had in New Zealanders’ hearts, the question isn’t what’s in it for them but what’s in it for us, the public.

My father and brothers weren’t interested in rugby, they preferred sailing. But radio commentaries provided a background to my childhood Saturday afternoons because my mother often listened to them, especially when her nephew was playing for University or Otago.

I didn’t watch a game until I was 17 when the prefects from Waitaki Girls’ were invited to watch inter-school matches at Waitaki Boys’. It didn’t really matter what was on, it was an excuse for an afternoon out of class and with boys.

A few excursions to Carisbrook when I was a student followed and there were also some late/night early morning parties when we crowded round a black and white television to watch a test from overseas. But the attraction was not so much what was happening on the field as the opportunity for fun with friends.

The next memory I have of rugby was 1981 and the Springbok tour. While some people a little older than I am feel it was a defining issue, I didn’t. I was in my first job as a journalist and reported on local reactions, and happened to be in Christchurch with friends when there was a test somewhere which we watched on TV, but it was not a major concern or interest for me.

I was overseas the following year, returned home to be married and have vague memories of gatherings with friends at our home or theirs to watch the odd test in the next few years.

It wasn’t until 1995 when we hosted an AFS student from Argentina who played rugby that I watched a live game. That was a World Cup year and the All Blacks toured New Zealand, stopping in provincial towns to meet their fans. I took our student who could speak only a little English, to meet them. His excitement at exchanging a few words in Spanish with Eric Rush and shaking hands with Sean Fitzpatrick brought home to me the strength of their influence and international reputation.

The Super 12 competition started the following year and we travelled down to Dunedin and Christchurch to watch several games. We watched a few NPC games  at Lancaster Park and Carisbrook too, including the one when Otago didn’t win the Ranfurly Shield and one when they did win the NPC competition.

Then what happened? The season got longer, the competition didn’t have the same attraction and frustration at the way rugby interfered with other functions grew. I’ve watched a few North Otago games but last year went to Dunedin only once for an NPC game, this year I half-watched a Super 14 game on TV and haven’t yet watched a test.

I know just enough about the game to sit through a match, but I need an emotional connection to enjoy it. I might have that with Valley which is our local team and North Otago, but I no longer have it with any teams higher up. I’d be hard pressed to name any Highlander or Otago players and couldn’t name more than a handful of All Blacks.

Part of the reason for that might lie in a comment from Graham Henry which caught Alf Grumble’s attention:

“. . . I guess the product’s not too great and that’s disappointing.”

When I read that I begin to wonder if Karl du Fresne really had been in the All Black dressing room when he wrote:

The meeting opened with a team official launching a withering attack on player A, who had been seen in a Durban bar wearing a non-approved hair gel. The player’s excuse – that he had a new executive assistant who had packed the wrong makeup kit – was contemptuously brushed aside.

Next, player B was fined for having turned up late at a promotional appearance to launch the ABs’ new personal fragrance range, evocatively named Scrum. . .

It didn’t used to be a product. The players were heroes but not plastic celebrities. They were real, grounded people connected to and respectful of the public who admired them.

At least some of the current All Blacks might still be like that. From what I know of Richie McCaw, who grew up in the HakaValley not far from here, he definitely is. But his agent has let him down and has also let rugby down.

When the agent had to ask, “what’s in it for us?”  and the coach talks about the product they’ve both lost sight of what’s important.

It’s not a product it’s a game. The All Blacks aren’t royalty who command attention, they’re players who need to connect with the public if they want to win back fans.

I’m writing this on Saturday evening. The All Blacks will be playing the Wallabies soon. I might turn the TV on to watch the national anthems and the haka and to see if I can catch sight of some people I know in the crowd because they happened to have important business in Sydney this weekend.

But I won’t stay awake for the game and while I’ll hope that New Zealand will win, that’s no more than I’d want if it was the national tiddlywinks team playing the Australians.

I’m over rugby which isn’t of any great concern if it’s only me. But it’s not. A lot of people, especially women, share my lack of interest and that ought to be of great concern for the Rugby Union who wants us all to get behind the World Cup.

They haven’t got long to get us enthusiastic again. They could start by realising that unless they can persuade us there’s something in it for us, there isn’t anything in it for them. A good first step would be for that agent to phone North and South to arrange a time that suits the journalist for an interview with Richie.

August 23 in history


On August 23:

1754 Louis XVI of France was born.

King of France and Navarre

1912 US singer and dancer Gene Kelly was born.

1947 Assisted immigration  resumed after being stopped during World War II.

1948 the World Council of Churches was formed.

1951 Queen Noor of Jordan was born.

Queen Noor in 2006

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