Urban Renewal

I went to the bike shop yesterday to buy some bits and bobs preparatory to today’s maiden ride on my new steed. Down in the area where we stayed for our first couple of weeks, I came across this little memorial to the neighborhood’s past. 

This great wheel is all that is left of the old power plant. Now, it’s a not especially pretty jumble of apartments, hotels, and office space. There are ground floor shops and even cafes, but you get the sense that they basically serve the building tenants… there’s nowhere you’d actually make a point of going. The location is pretty good, walking distance to everything, but whoever was in charge of re-developing that area somehow missed the mark. I think the buildings might be a little too big, a little too close together, insufficiently ornamented. 

Half a mile away, the Auckland Council is hard at work reclaiming another section of the old wharves, and they’re trying to make lots of public space, etc., so hopefully the end result will be inviting and vibrant for many years. 

New Zealand’s Darkest Day

100 years ago, at the Battle of Passchendaele, NZ suffered its most horrific single day military losses. Over 800 dead on the day, and 300+ died of their wounds over the next few months. 

Lee and I snuck out to see the commemoration ceremony at the War Memorial Museum. Between the crowds and typical marble hall acoustics, we couldn’t really see or hear much of anything. Strains of choral music, random phrases from the speeches and prayers. Even so, it was a moving event, remembering a particularly incomprehensible battle. Here’s a good if unscholarly account. 

We couldn’t help but notice this proud old soldier standing near us. 

But it was Lee who saw the continuity from one generation to the next. 

May that determined young cadet never see the sights of war as seen by Kiwis in Flanders or Italy or Vietnam or Iraq or Afghanistan. 

It’s not about the bike

We did a ton of work in the garden this weekend, finally finished the deferred maintenance tasks that came with the plants we bought a few weeks ago. It looks really nice now, and should keep getting better as the succulents grow in. Lee planted some seeds and bulbs today too, and it should be really pleasant as summer gets here. 

And I bought a bike… 

ANZAC biscuits

The ANZAC biscuit became popular during WWI. I thought they were issued as rations… high calorie, doesn’t spoil easily. But no, apparently that’s the ANZAC tile, not nearly as yummy. Another theory is that they were sent to the troops by wives and girlfriends back home. However, some people question that idea also. Those doubting Thomases suggest that the biscuits were always used as they are today, to raise funds for the troops, sort of like Girl Scout cookies for grownups. 

According to Wikipedia, the name “ANZAC biscuit” is a protected marque of the Crown. However, if you’re holding a bake sale for a good cause, they won’t bother you… as long as you never ever call them ‘cookies’. 

So we’ve finally tasted them, after 4 months in the country. Basically a delicious oatmeal cookie with some coconut. Only better because of golden syrup (more on that at a later date).