Nearer my God to thee by Trevor Plumbly

Dear Schoolteachers It is some sixty-odd years since you attempted to shape my mind and I thought my recollection of your efforts might be of interest. Despite your forecasts, I never quite made it as a delinquent; I lacked the stomach for deprivation and, as was the norm in those days, for physical punishment. In an early attempt, I remember standing around a pedal organ with three other snot-nosed street urchins belting out ‘Jesus wants me for a sunbeam’: I became fascinated by the organ stops: they were black and shiny with… Read More

The sweet villa of Highwic by Angela Caldin

In the middle of bustling Newmarket, between some stylish shops and a multi-storey carpark, there is a hidden gem which you might drive past time after time without noticing the entrance to it. It’s the beautiful villa of Highwic, home to generations of the Buckland family from 1861 to 1978 and now run by Heritage New Zealand as a historic house museum. I went there this morning with a lively bunch of children of different ages and we had a very good time indeed. Victorian fertility Alfred Buckland and his wife Eliza… Read More

Napier: Art Deco Capital of the World by Angela Caldin

I’ve always had a bit of trouble remembering what the difference is between Art Deco and Art Nouveau, but since visiting Napier in Hawke’s Bay NZ earlier this month I’ve got it clear: Art Nouveau was inspired by natural forms and structures, particularly flowers and plants, reflected in the beautiful sweeping curved lines which aimed to reflect the natural environment. Its forms had dynamic, undulating, and flowing lines, often asymmetrical, whereas Art Deco combines traditional craft motifs with machine age imagery and materials. The Art Deco style is characterized by bold, symmetrical,… Read More

An Apple All Day by Trevor Plumbly

We blindies have problems with technology and sadly none more than yours truly; I find it frustrating jabbing away at icons which others can negotiate with ease. I try not to resent their dexterity but I reckon I’m entitled to a jaundiced overview. The spark for this blog was provided by a phone call the other day whilst I was hanging out the washing. This situation always poses a problem for me: do I risk injury and make a dash for it or do I feel my way safely and hope they… Read More

Books for Prisoners by Angela Caldin

I’ve been thinking a lot about prisoners today, in particular about the fact that they can no longer be sent books (among other things) by family and friends. I’ve been wondering whether, if I was a prisoner, I would care about being deprived of books or whether I’d be just as happy passing the hours of incarceration watching TV and vegetating. The Ministry of Justice announced changes last year which prohibited prisoners receiving parcels (except in certain specific circumstances), including those from family and friends. One reason given was the danger of… Read More