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Te Anau and Milford Sound

MilfordRoadTe AnauMilford SoundMilford SoundA selection of photos taken by hubby (Ian Marshall) of Te Anau lake and Milford Sound.

It is hard to find words to describe the size and scale of the scenery. Everything in New Zealand is superlative so far.

I do think however that ‘the land of the long white cloud’ should be called ‘the land of the low white cloud.’

After a semi-relaxing two days camped by atmospheric Te Anau where we also partook of the Glowworm caves experience we are on the road again.

In a few minutes we will be setting off for Queenstown.

To bungee jump or not to bungee jump? That is the question!

Day of Arts and Culture

Maori Meeting HouseGateway to Dunedin Chinese Garden   As it’s Sunday today we decided to have a day off from driving and have an arts and culture day in Dunedin, which is a Unesco Creative City of Literature. Those of you who follow this blog will know that I researched the work of poet Hone Tuwhare prior to coming to New Zealand. Today I went to the largest bookshop in Dunedin in search of some of his work and failed to purchase any. There was a copy in the shop according to the computer but the assistant could not find it anywhere. I did however see the statue of Robbie Burns in the centre of the city . His poem John Anderson, me Jo was a favourite of my maternal grandparents. The importance of knowing one’s lineage was brought home by the Tangata Whenua exhibition in the Otago museum which also pointed out that place names were the first form of poetry in the Maori language. The names of places not only described features in the landscape but provided an oral map that was woven into songs and chants that were learnt by heart so that people could find their way on seasonal trips. We did much the same thing by memorising the street names on the city plan so that we could find our way to the campsite yesterday. As I said we cheated today and took a taxi in to Dunedin- and the taxi driver’s topic of conversation was his lineage – Scottish on his father’s side and Australian on his mother’s. The importance of lineage was further reinforced in the ‘Double Lane Corridor’ of the Chinese Garden which we decided to visit as the Public Art Gallery did not take us long to visit. The idea of having a double corridor is so that the inner lane can be used to display the history of the family while the outer lane is used for basking in the morning sunshine. As I type this post the motorhome is bathed in evening sunshine and we will soon be gathering with the rest of the tour party for an evening of wine and cheese.

Moeraki Boulders

Moeraki BouldersThe Moeraki Boulders are giant spherical stones strewn along the beach at Moeraki, between Oamaru and Dunedin.

There are many theories as to their origins including:

– food baskets and sweet potatoes washed ashore from the shipwreck of one of the first Maori canoes

– alien or prehistoric eggs

– volcano bombs

– balls formed around limestone crystals on the seabed and thrown up when the land rose

– spheres created by lightening strikes

The boulders were smaller than I expected, although some were still as big as me, and several appeared to be casting a carapace not unlike giant turtle shells.

Perhaps they are stone trolls waiting to snap into shape like the rolling rocks on the film ‘Frozen’.

Whatever their origin, the Moeraki Boulders are a unique feature of the landscape in this area.

Moeraki Boulder

On the Road

Mount CookLake Aviemore


Having taken delivery of our Kea motorhome, a huge 6-berth, we are on the road in New Zealand’s South Island.

The photograph above left is of Mount Cook or Aoraki, the country’s highest peak.

So far we have been blessed with good weather and have managed to avoid the infamous sandflies.

The scenery is spectacular and the colour palette quite different to what we see in England.

One of the things I enjoy the most about motorhoming is the ability to pull over wherever and whenever the fancy takes you.

The second photo was taken from Aviemore dam at the bottom of Lake Aviemore where we stopped for lunch and a quick stretch of the legs.

As you can see, Ian is enjoying trying out different effects with his new camera.



Quake City

185 Empty ChairsChristchurch is a city defined by the earthquake which struck on 22nd February 2011.

We visited Mona Vale gardens and the Cashmere Hills for a view over the city before driving down to the new Cardboard Cathedral, which describes itself as a cathedral for a city in transition.

However, the sight which struck me the most was the 185 Empty Chairs installation a short walk from the back of the Cardboard Cathedral.

This temporary work by Pete & Joyce Majendie was created in memory of the 185 people who lost their lives as a result of the earthquake, which our bus driver explained was the most expensive per capita in the world.

Each chair is different, hand painted twice and dressed with fresh carnations. Visitors are invited to select a chair to sit in and spend some time reflecting.

I felt that it would be sacriligeous to sit in the chairs which seemed to me to be occupied in the sense that they are holding space for the spirits of the departed but I did take time to read the poems displayed in the booth which listed the names of the 185.

The poem which touched  a chord for me was John O’Donohue’s ‘For Grief’, particularly the lines about entering the hearth in one’s soul once the wounds of loss have healed.

While talking to the artist on site I realised that I was already acquainted with O’Donohue’s book ‘Anam Cara’.

As I walked away from the 185 Empty Chairs the following verse came to mind:

Four years on

the city is hushed,

holding its breath

against the next

quake to strike

its fragile heart.

This was a distillation of facts thoughts that had been mulling in the back of my mind while I listened to the absence of sound throughout my stay in Christchurch.

If you are interested to find out more about the stories of the people affected by the quake visit


Travelling Through Time

Following a fusion of flights we arrived in Christchurch yesterday, transferred to the Copthorne Commodore Hotel and decided to relax in our room rather than set out to explore immediately.

This turned out to be a good decision as we were feeling the effects of travelling through different time zones. Somehow we lost eight hours by the end of our second flight and a further five by the time we landed.

The fast track through Singpore airport enabled us to make our connecting flight, which had been held back for us, but no doubt added to feeling confused about which day it was.

It took a while to assimilate the two night flights with no day between them.

Now we know how it feels to travel through time I am wondering how Dr. Who can keep looking so fresh. Perhaps it’s down to his regenerative powers or maybe it’s the sonic screwdriver.

Oh for the day when we will be able to say ‘beam us up, Scottie!’

In the meantime we are now benefitting from the restorative powers of a good night’s sleep and are raring to go. First stop Christchurch.

One for the road



Following my last post, I reread Hone Tuwhare’s Roads, then came across an old one of mine, Lunar Land.

I offer you this one for the road:


Water drip drips from the balcony,

pools onto flat roofs below,

forms puddles in the pockmarked roads,

turns fields of lava into loam.


Electric storm passes overhead,

fingers twitch to knead chunks of rock

into cactus-like forks for the fire god,

polished beads for the goddess of his hearth.


Red, green, yellow, white, black,

white, yellow, green, red;

necklaces, bracelets, anklets,

chains that bind me to this lunar land.

The poem was first published in The UK Poetry Library at

My Mobile Writing Space


Mobile Writing Space

‘My Writing Space’ was the title of an assignment set some years ago while I was taking an M.A. in Creative Writing at Teesside University.

I had no problem visualising my ideal writing space but came to the surprise conclusion that it would work best for me if it was on wheels.

So here it is, my mobile writing space, ready for putting my ‘words on wheels.’

And the first thing I wrote about was rain!

Perhaps it was the sense of connection from sleeping in the motorhome overnight or an echo of Hone Tuwhare’s famous poem Rain, or a mixture of the two that produced this vertical haiku…

ppp pp ppp

iau er aia

ttl le tts

tts tc tts

eee ei eee

rrd dp rrd







… which works much better on graph paper.

And for those of you who perceive rain horizontally…

pitter patter pulsed

pelted precipitated

patter pitter passed

And if you have not come across Hone Tuwhare, whose writing space or ‘crib’ is being restored at Kaka Point, Otago, you can find out more from or



Am really enjoying following this blog. Perhaps you might too.

Originally posted on leaf and twig:

undiluted by colors
complexities of grey
emerge and educate

View original


Durham Cathedral Sanctuary Knocker

On 18th July 2014 I posted about my trip to Durham Cathedral whose famous sanctuary knocker used to allow people to seek sanctuary in the cathedral for a period of 37 days.

This was the start of an exploration into different types of sanctuary and the publication of a series of poems around the theme.

The poem below, entitled ‘Sanctuary’ was written following that visit.

The Watchers may have gone

but there is still one

who looks through the sockets

of the dragon’s death mask,

tarnished by the elements

and the passage of time.


I cross the threshold

into a twilight world

where muted voices echo

off sandstone pillars;

babels of fears,

hopes and dreams.


Senses amplified by the toll

of the sanctuary bell,

I wander vaulted corridors

frequented by souls

as unburnished

as the brass door knocker.


Alone in the cloister,

laid out by Norman ancestors

as an open square

on the site of the old

White Church,

I find peace and respite.


This poem marks a return to the beginning of the project and the end of the second phase.

Phase 3 begins on 22nd February 2015 when I embark on a 37 day trip in search of sanctuary in the ‘Land of the Long White Cloud.’

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