Art in the Garden

January 9, 2011

Take more than 40 visual and performing artists.

Place gently in seven glorious gardens around Alexandra and Clyde.

Cover with blue sky, warm with sunshine tempered by a light breeze and serve to the public over two days  for a very modest $15.

This is Art in the Garden, Alexandra Art Society’s annual fundraiser and it’s a wonderful day out.

Two friends and I spent several hours yesterday wandering round the gardens which varied from a small, newly established town plot to expansive rural oases*  contrasting, but in harmony, with the dry Central Otago landscape.

Art varied from small ceramic pieces to large Oamaru stone sculptures. Some artists worked with wood, other with metal, there were photographers and painters, several working as we wandered.

Yesterday was the opening day of the two day event and tickets give the right to return on the second day. The distance stops me doing that but I’ve got it in my diary for next year.

*Is it oases, or is the plural oasis or oasises?


Fire

December 28, 2009

Fire engines and two helicopters were called to fight a scrub fire near Butchers Dam, a few kilometres from Alexandra, today:

It looked like it had started near the side of the road:

Fortunately there wasn’t much wind and the dam was near by to supply water:

Locals say it is DOC land and they had been concerned about the fire danger from uncontrolled growth on it.


Saving makes more cents than spending

March 5, 2009

Spending our way out of a recession is a theory most farmers have difficulty getting our heads round.

Those of us who survived the ag-sag of the 80s are haunted by memories of interest rates going above 20% and have no intention of jeopardising our businesses and the jobs of our staff  by spending any more than we have to.

We are mindful that when we stop spending the impact is felt beyond the farm gate. The money from the dairy boom flowed into towns and now the white gold rush is over, the people who service and supply us are losing business.

The ODT reports  that Humes in Alexandra have made 15 staff redundant because of a fall in demand for the water troughs and cattle underpasses they make.

That’s a lot of jobs in a small business in a small town but none of the dairy farmers I’ve spoken to are in the mood for the sort of expansion which would generate the demand to provide work for those people.

When money is tight saving makes more cents – and sense – than spending.


Walking Inside a Grahame Sydney Painting

September 26, 2008

We drove from Wanaka to Millers Flat yesterday then backtracked to Alexandra and took the road from Omakau through Lauder and Becks to the Pig Route.

That’s all Grahame Sydney country which prompted the choice of this Friday’s poem by Diane Brown. It’s from her collection learning to lie together, published by Godwit, 2004.

Walking Inside a Grahame Sydney Painting

 

That uninterrupted blue, then the mountains, snow

rapidly disappearing on this first real day of summer

and closer, another range, lower and crouching, shadows

draped over brown hides, and in the foreground, fields

wheat-coloured, rolling, legendary as the sky. Inside,

 

the sun stalks the angle of the dormer window, bleaching

clothes thrown not artfully enough on a chair. My lover

and I are writers, after all, and careless of  fabrics and folds.

I tell Grahame I’d use this but I’m not sure how

my poems are usually peopled, crowded with conversations

 

and this view is too large to contain in words.

Upstairs, windows divide the landscape into bite-sized

chunks. Perhaps if I take it one line at a time?

Already I notice I’ve forgotten three power poles

sprouting in the paddocks opposite. Lines I can’t see

 

but can imagine, ushering in the rest of the world.

– Diane Brown –

 

 


Lonely Planet likes Otago

August 19, 2008

Lonely Planet’s newest guide to New Zealand is generally enthusiastic about Otago.

Dunedin’s live music and cafe and restaurant scene were given a significant plug and the Otago Peninsula was said to be “rich” with wildlife and outdoor activities.

The University of Otago was given recognition for the energy it provided the city.

“The country’s oldest university provides an energy that might otherwise be missing and drives a thriving theatre, live-music – and it must be said – drinking scene.”

Indeed, not all education takes place in the lecture theatres.

Otago was said to be unhurried and “rife with picturesque scenery” with few crowds to share it with, although Queenstown was called an area with a cinematic background of mountains and a “what can we think of next” array of activities.

As it is.

What they said about Otago

Alexandra: “Unless you’ve come to Alexandra especially for September’s NZ Merino Shearing Championships or the Easter Bunny Hunt, the reason to visit this rather nondescript service hub is for the nearby mountain biking.”

Arrowtown: “Beloved by day-trippers from Queenstown . . . The only gold being flaunted these days is on credit cards and surrounded by a bonanza of daytime tourists, you might grow wary of the quaint historical ambience.”

Balclutha: ” . . . South Otago’s largest town but is of little interest to travellers other than a place to stock up on supplies before heading off into the Catlins.”

Clyde: “. . . looks more like a cute 19th-century gold rush film set than a real town . . . retains a friendly small-town feel . . . and it’s a great place to chill out for a couple of days.”

Cromwell: “There’s plenty of good reasons to visit Cromwell: the sweet little historic precinct . . . and to eat (and eat, and eat) . . . Oh, and a third reason – to take a photo of yourself beside the spectacularly ugly giant fruit salad at the entrance to town.”

Dunedin: ” . . . captures the hearts of locals and travellers alike. It’s a surprisingly artsy town, and has more great bars and eateries than its small size deserves.”

” . . . has attractions both urban and rural . . . party down in the South Island’s coolest city, and get up close and personal with the island’s most accessible wildlife.”

Glenorchy: “Set in achingly beautiful surroundings, postage-stamp-sized Glenorchy is the perfect low-key antidote to the hype and bustle of Queenstown.”

 

Lawrence: ” . . . a sweet little town in a valley surrounded by farmland and forestry plantations. For most travellers its not much more than a place to stop for lunch.”

 

 Naseby: “Cute as a button . . . little old Naseby is the kind of town where life moves slowly. That the town is pleasantly obsessed with the fairly insignificant world of NZ curling indicates there’s not much else going on.”

Oamaru: “Nothing moves very fast in Oamaru: tourists saunter, locals languish and penguins waddle”.

“. . .eccentric gems such as the South Island’s yummiest cheese factory, cool galleries and a peculiar live music venue are other distractions.”

Yes, Whitestone Cheese is yummy; the Penguin Club is a gem; and lets not forget our artists, and while Victoriana isn’t old by world standards, the historic precinct gets better every year – newest attraction is the Whysky Bar.  Outside town there’s the Vanished World Trail  and Elephant Rocks where Chronicles of Narnia was filmed and Riverstone Kitchen.

Omarama: “surrounded by mountain ranges, the Omarama area is at the centre of fabulous landscapes.”

Queenstown: “The town wears its ‘Global Adventure Capital’ badge proudly, and most visitors take time to do crazy things they have never done before. But a new Queenstown is also emerging,
with a cosmopolitan restaurant and arts scene and excellent vineyards.”

 

Ranfurly: “Ranfurly is trying hard to cash in on its Art Deco buildings but while there are a few attractive buildings, the town itself is fairly bleak.”

But it is on the Central Otago Rail Trail.

Wanaka: “Beautiful scenery, tramping and skiing opportunities, and an expanding roster of adrenaline-inducing activities have transformed the lakeside town of Wanaka into a year-round tourist destination.”

Call me biased and parochial if you will, but the guide has not overstated the delights of New Zealand’s most beautiful province 🙂


Two of those days

July 7, 2008

Katherine Mansfield said it so much better than I could: It was one of those days, so clear, so still, so silent you almost feel the earth itself has stopped in astonishment at its own beauty.

I’m not sure if I’ve got that word perfect, though I ought to have because it’s on a Marg Hamilton painting which hangs on our living room wall. But that’s at home while I’m in Wanaka and in awe of the scenery which brought the quote to mind.

We’ve had not one but two of those days. Yesterday we drove tup the Waitaki Valley and through the Lindis Pass, which no matter its mood is beautiful.

In Wanaka we called on friends whose living room window frames the view straight up the lake to the mountains, scenery so stunning it makes you wonder why you’d ever bother to go anywhere else.

Today we left Wanaka by starlight to go to Southland. Our route took us down via Alexandra to Ettrick then south through West Otago to Gore. The views there may not be as awe inspiring as the ones round Wanaka, but there is beauty in those gently rolling, bright green paddocks.

We did a whistle-stop tour of farms at Otahutit, Riverton and Dipton before turning north again up SH6 which follows Lake Wakatipu from Kingston to Frankton. We were treated to many more Mansfield moments as the late afternoon sun spot-lit snow clad hills and reflected them back on the water.

Tussocks poked cheeky heads through the snow as we climbed up the Crown Range then down through the Cardrona Valley and back to Wanaka to marvel again at the breathtaking combination of mountains, snow and lake in the sunset.

Two of those days, and the clear, starry sky is promising a third tomorrow.


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