Thursday, 4 February 2010

Harbours and Hippies

Out of the hotel, down a lift to a lower street level and we were quickly down to the harbour side. Like many cities on the water, the Wellington harbour side has been developed to make it an accessible area for pedestrians with lots to interest them while they walk. Boardwalk, buildings and sculpture keep you diverted as you promenade. A short stroll along the boardwalk here leads to a very fine building full of fascinating artefacts and works of art, Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand.


Our short visit to the Museum allowed us to climb to the roof and view the small sculpture area and whilst enjoying the impressive views of the harbour and city have one of our perennial debates about the meaning of modern art. After this seeing some of the striking indigenous art housed next to European influences of the developing art of New Zealand posed lots of questions about the history of ideas and their part in artistic expression. It was also exciting to see the work of some old artistic friends, whose works have become familiar on visits to Kelvingrove and Edinburgh.

Te Papa

Sculpture Exhibit - The Garden

A short walk over to the Civic Square where the international teams for the New Zealand Rugby Sevens were being received by the local civic leaders and lots of cheering crowds. Unfortunately, we will leave Wellington as the tournament begins. Bit of a Bill and Ann going on here, we arrived here just as the AC/ DC tour moved on to Auckland.

Civic Welcome for Rugby Sevens Teams


The rest of the day was to be devoted to Sheila’s search for a hippie past that she had somehow missed out on and the premises that she had winkled out of the trusty Lonely Planet guide were best described as idiosyncratic. First of these was a cafĂ© called Fidel’s, one of a number of premises that related to the name of the street, Cuba. In a small outdoor enclosure we were surrounded by students, Castro/ Guevara inspired artefacts and well-worn tables. The pizza however, was first rate and the salad perfect. The long trek back to the hotel won its own reward in a late afternoon dizzy spell.

Sheila supporting the Cuban Flag


Fidel's Doorstep

Evening arrived and the initial plan, to attend a debate on the Waitangi Treaty, was shelved more because of general weariness than lack of interest. Eventually the final stage in our reversion to the old ways came about with a lengthy amble to Sheila’s selected, Sweet Mother’s Kitchen. This place is a real throwback, Cajun cooking, old American memorabilia and the best background music in town. In fact it’s fair to say that this is the first establishment I’d been in where the ‘proprietor selected’ did not cause me deep offence. Muzak rant over. What was most interesting about each of these establishments was the fact that the collective age of all the other customers would not have amounted to the addition of ours. We are fast gaining notoriety as the New Age/ Old Age Grandfolks from Great Britain and as we walk the streets of Wellington you can hear young people mentioning the presence of ‘those old folks’ in their favourite haunts.

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