I haven’t had a chance to update my travels lately, so here it is – all in one posting! We arrived home last Friday, after an uneventful 15 hour trip from Sydney. It’s nice to be home!
Our last performance in Australia was at a house concert near Jamberoo. We followed Robyn’s directions, and found ourselves going up a mountain road out of Jamberoo, near Woolongong NSW. The road became a private road, and we kept going up, and the houses kept getting bigger. We went through their gate to a paradise. They live in a huge house, with beautiful gardens and forest (with a stream) around them, and a stunning view toward the valley and the coast. It was going to be a marvellous visit!
After dark on the night we arrived, Robyn took us outside with a large flashlight (torch) to look for wombats. We saw two! It’s the first time I’ve ever seen wombats in the wild. The next morning, we were on Skype to John’s daughter, and I spotted a kangaroo outside our window. The wildlife viewing is very easy there.
An afternoon concert was planned, including High Tea. Robyn’s daughter Catherine was busy in the kitchen when we arrived, making all kinds of luscious sweets, biscuits, and cheesecakes for the event. It was a huge effort, and very much appreciated.
We did the first set of the concert outside, overlooking the pool and gardens. After tea, we moved inside and continued. We had about 20 people there, and many of them brought show and tell – it was a lovely afternoon. We were finished before dark, so everyone could find their way down the hill again in the light. Before we left the next morning, I took this picture of the front entrance – do you see a snake on the bench? It’s there to dissuade herons from eating the fish – it’s not real!
We left with some regret, and continued up to Sydney, returning to our friends’ Gary and Anne’s before we flew over to New Zealand. Because we were there for a couple of days, we had the chance to attend a wonderful production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing at the Sydney Opera House. It’s not the first time we’ve been there, but it was the first time we saw a show there. We took the ferry, had dinner at Circular Quay before the play, and took the ferry home after. I have totally changed my mind about Sydney – if all you do is drive through it, you get a somewhat negative view of the city. But once you leave the car behind, the full charm of the place emerges. What a great way to travel around – by ferry! We were able to hop on a ferry then a train from Circular Quay to get to the International Airport, too – very very easy and faster than you could drive.
Here’s a picture John took the evening we attended the theatre.
We landed in Auckland, then transferred to a plane to Wellington. “Windy Wellington”, as it’s known. After we disembarked, we heard that a plane leaving Auckland on its way to Melbourne that morning had been hit by lightning and had to return to the airport. We didn’t see any lightning. There’s a reason why New Zealand is so green – it rains a bit there. Even after so much green and standing water in Australia this time, we were still struck by how much lusher it is in NZ.
We sang for the Wellington Quilters Guild, our first time there, although we have done a house concert for friends there before. It was a lovely evening – especially show and tell. Barbara Johnston had been at the house concert in 2008 and had seen an early stage of my 1/4″ hexagons. She was inspired to take up hexes, and decided on 1/2″ ones. She has pieced a large quilt now, with over 3,000 hexes, and worked hard to get it finished for our visit!
She told me she actually re-did the background in the centre so it would look better! Congratulations, Barbara! I bow to your skill and persistence.
We had a few days in Wellington, and decided to look around while we were there. There’s a lot of movie stuff happening in New Zealand, thanks to the work of Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings, etc.). One studio that has been very successful is the Weta Workshop, a special effects and prop company that did a lot of work on LOTR. We visited the “Weta Cave”, their small shop and saw a film of their work. It just seems like everyone there is having so much fun, playing with clay and leather and makeup and plastic! What a job! John snapped this picture of me with one of their most famous creations.
We only had a week in NZ this time, and all on the north Island. The word from Christchurch is still very dire, and they estimate about 1200 buildings in the city have to be pulled down. I’m glad we weren’t scheduled to be there. Even though we no longer hear about a place on the news, it doesn’t mean the story is over for the people who live there. In New Zealand, all the quilters are making quilts for Christchurch.
Our last show of the tour was in Rotorua. This is the centre for geothermal hot pools in the country, as well as for the Maori culture. We arrived a day early so we could attend a Maori concert, and look around. Our hostess was Pat, who lives on the Government Gardens grounds. When she first moved there, she had a steam box where she could cook, as well as heat, thanks to the geothermal energy. Alas, the city blocked up all the conduits when the system was (falsely) blamed for the failure of the local geyser. The geyser has returned (thanks to higher rainfall), and everyone in town now has to cook with stoves.
We took in a tour of the museum, learning about the early days when English tourists would come to Rotorua to “take the cure”. This involved various activities, including soaking in the hot springs, massage, mud baths, and – the most dubious and extreme – soaking with electricity!!! They would attach the bathers to an electrical charge as they bathed…. there were no REPORTED deaths from this practice.
It was a beautiful view from the top of the museum, overlooking the grounds of the Government Gardens.
Before our show that evening, John and I walked over to the Polynesian Baths and had a soak. It was a lovely thing to do on a cool, drizzly day.
We weren’t the only ones “taking the cure” that day. There are public baths there too, and beautiful. You pick your pool by the temperature you want!
We drove up to Auckland to fly back to Sydney for a couple of days before our flight home. I’ve been spending much time these days proofreading the songbook, and the day of work in Sydney was much appreciated. Paul Mills has been doing a marvellous job designing the book, and we are nearly there! We’ll be going to press very shortly. It’s amazing, this digital world, that I can be proofing a book from so far away.
My garden was a mess when we returned home, and so for these two weeks before we leave again (for Utah, California and Arizona) I am devoting my time to getting it back in shape, and planted with vegetables. I hope they grow as well as the weeds have!
All in all, this was a lovely tour. We saw TONS of friends, and enjoyed the guilds we visited. I received a new quilt (a portion of the World’s Biggest Hexagon Quilt), bought a bit of fabric, came home with a replenished supply of Vegemite, and saw a lot of beautiful quilts. No one died, no cars were totaled, and no airplanes caught on fire!
I hope you’ve enjoyed travelling along with us as we go. We have a very exciting show coming up in Panguitch, Utah in a few weeks. I will be singing my new song about the Panguitch Quilt Walk, and teaching a couple of classes. I’ll also be teaching in La Habra, CA and Flagstaff AZ.