Unexpected discoveries

27 August 2019

Oh… Luxury. Who needs the Ritz when you’ve got an electric blanket.

I got woken up during the night, either by the unit above us or next to us, who was obviously making an early (5.00am?) runner. They were thumping about (probably making no more noise than usual) and had a shower. The drone from the shower would have been fine, but I think the gully trap must be outside our unit as I could hear running water. This had the obvious effect, so I had to get up at 6.15 to take care of things.

So I didn’t get as much sleep as I would have liked.

Today we decided that, as the weather should be fine, we’d go to Pukekura Park. Always a must see.

Of course, one of the problems with being a shutterbug, is that you’re likely to take 354 photos and one video, and then need to spend two hours that evening sorting them out.

We started this morning with our sachet porridge – apple and cinnamon flavoured – very tasty with yoghurt.

When we set off it was fine. The sun was reflecting off the Len Lye Centre and onto the White Hart Hotel, so we got some photos.

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We were then looking at the stairway inside, with Charles Butler’s turned balusters (which we always call, at Rangitoto anyway, “Grandpa’s bannisters”.) A gentleman walked past and said we were welcome to go in and look around. We went in and I was taking some photos, including up the stairs. When I saw that there was a public café up top, I told D.C. to come up and we went into the glassed in area of the verandah, to get a closer look at the turned wood.

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A gentleman was going to get past, and I apologised and got out of his way, explaining that my great-grandfather had turned the balusters. It turned out that he owned the building, and was interested in this information. He took us back to his office and wrote the information down. Then he introduced us to Archibald Pattimpaws Outred.

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Found within the building when it was being renovated.

Archibald’s “owner”  owned and lived in the house over the road. He’d sold it and the Len Lye Centre was built there, and he’d put the money towards the purchase and restoration of the White Hart Hotel. The accommodation block down Queen Street was unrecoverable, so they’d demolished that – keeping the original frontage – and knocked down an old kitchen lean-to at the back, and made that space into a covered in courtyard. The “pub” and other accommodation sections have been renovated to make offices and eateries.

D.C. then, cautiously, mentioned that we were relatives of Fred Butler.

“I knew Freddie!”

He then asked if, as he had an appointment, we’d be willing to come back in quarter of an hour to twenty minutes, so we could talk about Uncle Fred. This was fine with us, so we went over the road and got some photos, and the aforementioned video, of the clock tower. There are stairs that go up part the way, but they’ve been gated off so you can’t go past the first level.

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Having got our photos, and the video of the clock chiming the Westminster Chimes, and having seen the visitor leave the office and walk across the street, we returned to the White Hart Hotel. We learnt how Uncle Fred had outbid his mother for the sea chest and grandmother chair that his relative had carted all around New Zealand (21 guineas). When Uncle Fred was leaving New Plymouth, he offered it back to her for the price he paid.

During this his business partner came in and between the three of us we explained about Uncle Fred and Charles Butler.

Following this interesting and totally unexpected event, we returned to the unit (one block away) to make use of the facilities, and then set out for Pukekura Park. Naturally we turned down the wrong street a couple of times when D.C. thought we should be going one way and I was sure it was another.

But one thing about New Plymouth people. They are so nice and friendly. We were asked three times if we needed help. And they could teach Thamesites a thing or two about road rules, and indicating, and being courteous to pedestrians. Especially those who don’t get how New Plymouth roads work.

We eventually found the main gates, along with a map, and went for a wander.

It is a beautiful park, and totally man-made. Each water feature, lake, and green area has been created – some in Victorian times. (They did like their engineering projects, didn’t they?)

The fountain, and waterfall, are both operated by push button systems, and when we first saw the fountain in action, we had the sun behind us (at 42°) and there was a rainbow reflecting off the water.

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The waterfall can also start flowing on a whim.

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Lunch was at the Pukekura Park tearooms, where we had some round things with spinach, feta cheese, and cashews, a bowl of chips between us, and hot chocolates (with a slither of fudge) each.

We found the fernery, which no longer has native ferns, but exotics, and enjoyed there. I also had to get the obligatory photo of D.C. on the stairs. I had that one in 2007.

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The “Buggy” tour driver, was about to head off – possibly to finish for the day – but was quite happy to take us on the 45 minute tour around the park for $5 each. The “Buggy” is a small electric bus (about to be replaced with a better model) and I think the driver is probably a volunteer. The tour was very interesting with the only complaint being that we didn’t have time to stop and take photos.

Hasn’t stopped me taking heaps though.

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We went up as far as the Brooklands Bowl and around parts of the park where we hadn’t been before and parts where we had. The magnolias and rhododendrons are looking great this year.

After that ride we went for another walk, seeing lots of people eating ice cream. Of course, that made me want an ice cream, so we got one from the tea kiosk.

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Dinosaur foot? No 100-year-old wisteria trunk

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And the flowers are rhododendrons, not wisteria

Then we wandered back, stopping to talk to people with dogs and to other people about the amount of Tui in the Kowhai trees. (They’re just starting to come on stream here.)

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During the day there were three heavy showers. The first whilst we were inside the tearooms having lunch. The second whilst we were inside the Buggy and about to get out – so he took us on an extended ride so we didn’t have to. And the last as we wandered around the Fountain Lake – so we sheltered under the trees.

And we finished the day with some more otherworldly cats.

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We managed to find our way back to the White Hart Hotel, and D.C. went home to heat up her leftovers from the last two nights, and I went back to the Turquoise Café to buy a takeaway Turkish falafel burger. The staff remembered me from last night and we had a chat. They didn’t know where Thames was.

Then back to the unit for dinner and two hours of photo processing and one and a half hours of blog typing.

And I walked 11,317 steps today. My tracker buzzed me the 10,000th step as we were walking back from Pukekura Park.

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And I took these photos because they’re artistic. Not because I had the exposure too slow.

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