About this time of the year all of us kiteflier's here in New Zealand start thinking bad unpatriotic things about our own country- not at all helped this year by Stefan Cook sending ha haa-ing Emails from the South of France.
It's COLD and there's usually no wind- which isn't entirely bad because when there is wind it's VERY cold. We are by no means the only ones to have ever had negative thoughts about
this great little country: Dutch explorer, Abel Tasman- the first European
known to have sighted New Zealand- had very bad things to say. In fact the locals were so unwelcoming that he sailed away muttering into his Grolsch without setting foot. Charles Darwin was also less than complimentary when his tour ship (HMS
Beagle) made a stopover in the 1830's: "we were all glad to leave New Zealand, it is not a pleasant place" (talking about the inhabitants both colonial and indigenous) and later, "Neither is the country itself attractive". But WC Fields(early 20th century novelist) gets the top prize for country
abuse: He said of our southern most city: "I'd rather have cancer than spend another night in Invercargill". And while on this theme, here's a little something I picked up in a toilet that I thought I might share with you all: Samuel Marsden, early 19th century pioneer European missionary wrote home from NZ in 1848: "Mrs Hill is very low spirited and a few days ago, she cut her throat and has not been able to swallow anything since.".
The toilet I came across this unusually erudite graffitti in was at the
place* that we now have by the beach in Christchurch.
The occasion for which I was there was Pete and Fiona's wedding. Surprised? Elwyn and I were. Wedding in the morning followed by breakfast- yes really, very traditional. Then back to work. Pete sent a long E mail to Stef. (the South of France one) explaining some kite details, and put at the end: PS I got married today.
* described in real estatese as "A beach house with character and great development potential. Suitable for handyman". Meaning: leaky, drafty, semi-derelict collection of joined together huts put together by weekend campers before there were eco-nazi town planners. Suitable for handyman with a bulldozer.
And that is definitely enough new things from here to tell you all about for this month.
Before heading back to Europe (next week, for Cuxhaven, Lemwerder, Portsmouth, Bristol and Dieppe) I've been able to put some time into bringing our business up with the latest management practices; that is, I've been doing an Enron. On account of having to clear out the company's record room because we are re-developing the building it's in (and as soon as any financial indigestion this causes has subsided we plan to pull down the beach 'house' and re-develop that site as a purpose built kite development centre). Every bit of paper that the agents of the kleptocracy have required us to keep since the original family woodworking business started in the 1940's was there. So far I've burnt 4 tandem trailer loads- about 3 tons. It was the definitive answer to the winter willies- sitting comfy by the bonfire indulging in occasional nostalgic re-reading of correspondence from the 1970's end of our kite business. Some gems there too. One day I may share them with you- when the statute of limitations is in effect and defamation laws are repealed maybe.
Peter Lynn, Ashburton
August 1 2002
PS: Our beach place is at New Brighton, a suburb of Christchurch (which has an international airport). It's 100m from the tide line on a 17km long hard sand crescent shaped beach with smooth reliable prevailing on shore 10km/hr to 30km/hr wind. And, yes, there is currently a (small) spare bedroom for visiting kite people. Re-development plans include extensive accommodation, large kitemaking and engineering areas, and a roof garden with 360degree panoramic view for after match functions. Sounds OK? Yes, I take it all back, notwithstanding winter blues and the impressions of earlier visitors, New Zealand is the place to be.