NZ Firsts: A Guest Post From Gavin Marriott

Not many of us know that much about New Zealand. In this short post, Gavin gives us some interesting facts about his country, and includes video clips too.

NZ firsts

Firstly! We always abbreviate New Zealand as NZ.

Zealand is a place in Holland so named courtesy of Dutch discoverer Abel Tasman in 1642. But he never set foot. That was Yorkshireman James Cook in 1769.

We get known as Kiwis after our national bird. Now to most in Europe & America, NZ gets lumped under the banner of our neighbour Australia. In London I got asked if there was a bridge between the two islands. There is a thousand mile ditch between the two, and politically Australia & NZ are like England & France or USA & Canada. We actually don’t get on well together. Yes Aussie beat us at sports (we drink out of saucers apparently as they have all the cups). Mutton and wool are still major exports and so we can’t get away from the international sheep jokes. But most now know us as Peter Jackson and the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. But little NZ of 5 million people (land mass just bigger than Britain) has some amazing world firsts.

☻ With international time zones, we are the first to see the sun each day. Yes tourists flock to a town called Gisborne and take a photo of the sun rising out of the sea and send it to their friends in Europe who are now turning their lights on the night before or to LA having lunch the day before.

☻ 1893 NZ were the first to give women the vote.

☻ 1899 the first to work an 8 hour day (we still celebrate that as a public holiday).

☻ 1917 Ernest Rutherford split the atom. There is a memorial where his house was in Nelson and near me you can visit his studio at the old university.

☻ 1939 NZ declared war with Germany first, before Britain (because of the time zone).

☻ 1953 Edmund Hillary was the first to climb the highest peak. I have met Hillary. He trained for his climbing with my uncle. A photo of them stands proudly in my lounge.

☻ 1954 Bill Hamilton invented the jet boat unit which is used now all over the world. The Hamilton Jet powers many of the British ferries and now the RNLI boats. Bill came from my 2nd home town of Fairlie and currently I am leading a project to get a statue for him.

☻ 1987 AJ Hackett invented bungy jumping and made headlines by jumping from the Eiffel Tower. Now tourists flock here to jump off our bridges – and they pay to do it.

☻ 1999 the first transgender MP.

☻ By the way the famous McLaren F1 racing car, that was Bruce McLaren from Auckland, whom I met at school.

☻ But I go back to Richard Pearse. Kiwis will tell you he was the first to fly (the Kiwi is a flightless bird so some pun). I go past where he flew quite often and also visit his grave as it is near my uncle. Richard died the year I was born.
Witness accounts (later as affidavits) state his flights were “after, during or before” certain events like weather, wars, visits, the teacher etc. Some of these put his flight as 1902 but they were uncontrolled flights. But it is recorded that his first controlled flight was March 1903. As he was doing this in a remote part of the South Island away from the world eyes and media communication, he got pushed aside.

This clip can be watched on You Tube by clicking on the link.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Pearse

Fans And Flip-Flops

After my recent complaints about chilly summer weather, the heatwave arrived yesterday, and is set to last until late Saturday evening.

77 degrees (F) on Wednesday, 80F already today, and a possible 91F tomorrow. (I am going back to the pre-Celcius values, as they still seem more relevant to me.)

Naturally, English people are panicking about sunstroke and sunburn, hydration, adequate sunscreen creams, and not leaving dogs in hot cars.

I took Ollie out much earlier today, and it was still very warm despite that. Ollie’s fur is thick of course, so it must feel like he’s wearing a padded jacket in this weather. He was able to cool off in the river, then I took him into the shade of the woodland area for the rest of the walk.

As for me, I was wearing shorts and a straw sun hat, so no issues. I was pleased to see another bright sunny day. In the house, it is windows open, flip-flops on my feet, and a small ‘doughnut fan’ blowing on me as I sit at the computer.

Making the most of that three-day heatwave.

Film Review: Knives Out (2019)

This film was released to stellar reviews, both from critics, and many bloggers. I didn’t much like the sound of an ‘Agatha Christie-Style’ film that wasn’t actually written by Agatha, so waited until it arrived on TV (Film 4) to watch it. I finally got around to doing that last night.

Now I have to say that I rarely turn off a film before the end. I am usually happy to give even the most disappointing film its full running time, in the hope of being proved wrong. So if I tell you now that I turned this off after 45 minutes of its 2 hours+ running time, you are already getting some idea of how this review is going to go.

Let’s examine this in detail.

Stellar cast.

Daniel Craig.
Christopher Plummer.
Jamie Lee Curtis.
Chris Evans. (Who?)
Joseph Gordon Levitt.
Toni Collette.
Michael Shannon. (Great actor)
Don Johnson.
M. Emmet Walsh.
Frank Oz.
And many more…

Written and directed by Rian Johnson. (No relative, never heard of him. Have you heard of him?)

What could go wrong?

Well the first thing that could go wrong is that Daniel Craig plays an American private detective called ‘Benoit Blanc’. Someone decided that this actor, who is from England, should play Benoit with a ‘Southern American’ (as in New Orleans) accent. That fell at the first hurdle, so completely ruined the film. In the same way that Dick Van Dyke’s ‘London’ accent completely ruined ‘Mary Poppins’.

Daniel Craig might be an accomplished actor in many roles, but accents are not his forte. And a deep-south American accent was one too far for his talents.

After that, someone gets killed, everyone else except Benoit is a suspect, and after listening to his accent for 40+ minutes, I turned off this lamentable film.

That’s it. That’s the review. It is bloody awful, and if you liked it, I must have been watching a different film.
Here’s a trailer.

If you want to see Agatha Christie done properly, watch this instead.

Rita Hayworth Dances To The Bee Gees

The lovely film star Rita Hayworth was also an accomplished dancer. A clever person on You Tube has managed to include numerous clips of her dancing, to the background of one of the Bee Gees’ biggest hits. The timing is really good, and it is a joy to watch.

Thanks to my blogging friend, David Miller. He sent me this to cheer me up. And it did.
https://millerswindmill.wordpress.com/

Britain’s Driving Licence Fiasco

As most of you know, I am currently unable to drive, as my expired driving licence has not been renewed by the DVLA. (Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency) This is impacting my daily life, and that of millions of other drivers all across Britain. My friend Antony sent me this video, which was filmed secretly by an undercover reporter for The Times Newspaper. Although mainly of interest to readers in the UK, the sheer scale of the bungling and laziness at the DVLA is staggering to watch on film. I have written to my member of parliament referencing this film, which has been seen by the Minister of Transport. But nothing has been done since he watched it.

Slip Slidin’ Away

Walking with Ollie today, I was reminded of the old Paul Simon Song. Not that it has anything to do with dog-walking of course.

No, it was because the mud is back with a vengeance, and I was definitely slip-slidin’ away, even in my stout wellington boots. Although we have had no snow yet, and only one ‘car window-scraping’ hard frost, we have had a lot of rain. Over the past week, it has often rained for 12-16 hours a day, and I can’t actually remember the last day when there was no rain at all.

They (the weather reporters) say it’s the warmer weather, caused by a nice video graphic swirling around in the Atlantic Ocean that is sucking up warm air from North Africa, and turning it into rain. (Something like that, but the graphic looked good on the weather report) It seems to be in a cyclical pattern, and definitely visiting the east of England on its cycle. Beetley is in the east of England, only 26 miles from the point that says ‘Next Stop, Holland’.

(Across the North Sea, so you will need a boat of some kind)

So as usual, we have had a lot of rain. Rain eventually makes earth become mud. Rain swells the local river so that it overflows onto the paths, creating more mud. Then the mud stops supporting the roots of the trees on the riverbank, and they fall into, or across, the small river. The trees in the water cause the river to overflow even more, adding slick new mud on top of the old thick mud.

Now that’s what I call ‘Cyclical’.

Altogether now, try to keep up with Paul…