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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

16 April 2014 - Stonehenge Aotearoa

Before I tell you about today, let me tell you more about the lifts here. Not only do they threaten to gobble you up quickly or refuse to let you enter, they can’t count.

In this Travelodge there are 22 floors. Except there are not.

Not having been up that high, I haven’t really taken notice of the higher numbers, but the lower ones that we pass through a definitely a bit screwy.

Counting back from 15 there is no 13. This isn’t surprising as it’s not uncommon for hotels to not have a 13th floor. But what about the 9th? 8th? 3rd? 2nd?

I’m not kidding. The reception is on the 7th floor and our room is on the 10th. If there are two hidden floors in between this is an extremely fast (and I’m not talking closing doors) and smooth lift. And as for second and third... Well, so much for the Thunderbirds countdown.

Right, onto today.

Three of the things that we’d planned to do this trip (this doesn’t include tomorrow’s treats) all have links with Fred Butler. Diana worked at Puke Ariki and had a lot to do with us when they had a display of Uncle Fred’s quilts. Ann photographed Uncle Fred’s “scrapbooks” and turned them into an art form. And today we saw Kay Sanderson, who is incorporating Uncle Fred into her thesis for her PHD.

Kay lives at Carterton so we started the day (after a stop at New World to buy some Hot Cross Buns and Easter Eggs for her) on the train! This trip through the Wairarapa took over an hour and on the way out we were the only ones on our carriage.
They make a good point

Not that we could see much. The rain finally decided to settle in during the daylight hours. I thought there was a grey wall on our right. That was until Somes Island swam out of the mist.

But I did see PlaceMakers Kaiwharawhara, Donna. ;-)

One of the highlights of this trip was the 8.798 kilometre Rimutaka tunnel. I didn’t expect to be inside a hill for so long on the way out, but I set the stopwatch on my tablet on the way back and it clocked in at six minutes, 30.54 seconds. That’s a long time to be underneath a great pile of rock.

Kay met us at the Carterton Railway Station, which was very handsome, if closed up. (A friend of ours was on the restoration committee.) She then gave us a tour of Carterton, which took about as long as it will take you to read this blog.

Then we went to the The Clareville Bakery, so Kay could buy some bread for lunch and we could all have a cup of coffee/hot chocolate and enjoy some of their wares. How does almond and chocolate croissant sound?

While there Kay gave us some pamphlets to check out about local attractions. Yes, there are quite a few. The one that caught our eye, because it was so different to anything else anywhere else and I wanted to compare it to the real thing, was Stonehenge Aotearoa.

This is a modern structure, created in 2004, which looks how you would imagine THE Stonehenge to have looked quite a few centuries ago (if it had been made out of hollow concrete). But it isn’t a replica. Instead it follows definite multi-cultural, southern hemisphere, scientific and codswallop guidelines.

What do I mean?

Okay. Like that on the Salisbury Plain, it lines up with the summer and winter equinoxes so that the sun will “sit” on the Tane Stone in line with other stones. But this one also has an obelisk in the middle and if you look up through the hole so it is round, you are looking at the south celestial pole. All we could see was grey forbidding cloud, but here down under, we don’t have something like a Pole Star to mark south. I could give you a lesson in a variety of ways of achieving that goal by using the stars such as the Southern Cross/Crux, The Pointers, Orion’s Belt etc, but I won’t bore you…

Any more than I already am.

Through that hole is cloud, I mean, the South Celestial Pole

That's reflection in the puddles. Not a shadow.

The foundation stone bears the following description. These standing stones, these stars, configure the compass of Earth and the heavens. That was dedicated by “The Royal Society of New Zealand”.

Other stones map out Maori legends. Like that of the sun god, Ra who has two wives. One wife he spends a day with in winter and one in summer. So when the sun is resting over one of the two stones named after those wives, you know what season it is. The rest of the time he moves between the two.

The obelisk also points out what astrological sign we are currently in, depending on where the obelisk casts its shadow on a zodiacal infinity chart. The three of us experienced great excitement when the sun poked through long enough to cast a shadow onto the ground.
A shadow!

The shadow's tip is here, so that's what zodiacal month we're in.

Not that it told us anything. We had to get back to the visitors’ centre for an explanation.

I knew that what we are told are our zodiac signs are wrong because of the Earth’s rotation and movement in the universe over the millennia, but I thought it was by a couple of months (I just didn’t know which way). What we learned today is that that change is one day every 71 years. Apparently some pope decreed that the dates of the zodiac should remain fixed so they are the same as they were at the time of Jesus. So, also apparently, I am a Pisces and not an Aries.

And it all is definitely a load of codswallop.

We were wondering why there was a statue of Diana (with her bows and arrows – the Roman(?) deity, not the English one.) It turns out that her Greek(?) counterpart Artemis got rather annoyed with Orion, who was a bit of a trickster (and whose picture made up the 13th symbol in the zodiac we saw. Principally because he brings attention to himself wherever he goes). Diana got so annoyed with Orion that she killed him with a scorpion. The rest of the gods thought he was a bit of a Jack-the-lad and were disappointed about this, so they made him into a constellation. (I’m sure you know that his belt makes up what we in the southern hemisphere call “The Pot”.) Diana was even more annoyed with this so she sent the scorpion into the heavens to chase after him. So when Orion appears alone in the summer/winter skies (depending on which hemisphere you’re in) the weather’s settled. And when Scorpios makes an appearance alone in the winter/summer (depending on which hemisphere you’re in), then the weather’s also settled. But when both Orion and Scorpios are in the skies at the same time in autumn/spring (depending on… You’ve got the message) then the weather’s unsettled.

Diana/Artemis. Behind her is seven stones called the Seven Sisters. The associated stars are known in astronomy as Pleides, in Japan as Subaru (check out their logo), and in New Zealand as Matariki.

Like we had today as it drizzled on us again.

The acoustics of the place was amazing. You could clap your hands, or sing, or make a noise (same thing) from within the circle and you could hear the sound reverberate around you.

We did learn that it’s much easier to clap your hands if you’re not holding a sun umbrella against the rain.

I enjoyed the trip and I guess different people get different things out of it, depending on your beliefs and viewpoint. And it was something totally different to anything else we’ve seen in New Zealand.
Doves on the property

As we were leaving Kay pointed out the “Ghost House” on a hill overlooking Stonehenge Aotearoa. It’s not actually haunted, but in the 1980 a couple decided to cut it into four and move it to a spot with magnificent views. The relationship fell apart leaving him with the kids and a house that he couldn’t afford to complete. So now it’s rotting away on the horizon, dark and foreboding.

Especially with rain clouds behind.

Our next stop was to Kay’s where we had lunch (homemade soup – Very tasty if we ignore the bones).

We’d been admiring the garden and a group of fantails flittering around when we were surprised to have one fly through the door and into the house. As you would expect the poor thing was desperate to get outside and was fluttering against the window, so I opened an adjacent one and tried to encourage it to leave that way. It actually sat on my hand!!!!!!! (One of my favourite birds! Magic!!!!) Sadly it wasn’t for long enough to get a photo, or to get it to the window, so D.C. managed to grab it in both hands and let it go outside, where it happily flew off to freedom.

We won’t mention the Maori superstition that a fantail in the house foretells an upcoming death.

Then we, along with Kay’s Jack Russell, Yip, went for a walk down her property. The grass was long and damp, so D.C. borrowed a pair of the Sanderson’s shoes. I thought my mid-calf leather boots would be adequate from the damp, but I was proven wrong. I think the water must have seeped through the stitching. When we got back to the house, Kay fussed about to make sure that our socks and shoes were dry enough for the trip home. They were.
"Anything of interest here...?"


'Maybe here?"

Yip found something down a hole. Something that was way more interesting than three humans. We left her, digging furiously, and yipping on occasion. She reappeared, all muddy, but proud of herself, a short time before Kay took us back to the station. (Having picked up some fejoias to scoff.)
"I don't know what it is, but I'm going to dig it out!"
The train trip back was just as dark as it was this morning, in part because of the disappearing sun, but mainly because of the rain.
It's not NZR any more. It's Kiwirail.

Our train coming into Carterton Railway Station

We got back to the Wellington Railway Station and went in search of our evening meal. There isn’t much in this part of the CBD, certainly not much that is within our price bracket. One place even had a lamb dish for $110.00!! Turned out you got a whole roast lamb, not just a hunk.

We eventually ended up back at the hotel and went down two floors(!) to floor six and the restaurant. I had almond crumbed pork schnitzel, which was very nice.

Then we came back and D.C. worked out how much I owe her so far.
I owe as much as there were reflections in the mirrors.

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