Monday, August 10, 2015

A Welcome Winter Break

This weekend turned out to be such an enjoyable one that even the prospect of going back to the salt mines on Monday morning seemed bearable.  I spent Saturday out and about gadding with Mrs Peaceable who is an expert at discovering wonderful shops and cafes to visit.  She gave me the VIP treatment and let me into the secrets of her favourite haunts.  I have to admit to having a little bit of a spend up and we had such a happy day that it was almost  shame to get back to Shoestring Cottage dragging my treasures with me.

I blame Mrs Peaceable for encouraging me in my sinful ways, and it was she who insisted this little vintage case would be the perfect receptacle for placing on Figgy's back seat

and of course she was right.  It will look much better than the ever-increasing array of disintegrating zip lock plastic bags I trail around the countryside with.

But there was a pleasant surprise awaiting me on my return.  Mr Shoestring had been very noncommittal about the possibility of completing reinstalling the bath while I was out, and lo and behold it was in place and looking magnificent, all plumbed in and ready to be christened.  What a delicious soak in the bath I had, just the thing after an exhausting day shopping and talking and drinking coffee!

Mr Shoestring likes to do everything himself and even resurfaced the interior and repainted the exterior. The resurfacing project required a special product he recalled having once seen at a large home handyman emporium and eventually we must have visited every branch in the North Island trying to track it down.  A couple of times we even rolled up to find the shop permanently closed in the town we were visiting, but Mr Shoestring was determined and eventually he did locate the product so it was all worthwhile.  He is very pleased with himself, I am happy to report.  

My obsession with all things avian has continued unabated and I was very envious of my sister's paintings I spied when visiting her, and so grateful when she tracked down this one for me which is by the same artist and will be treasured forever.  

We spied this kereru in her tree visiting her, it comes to call twice a day and wasn't at all bothered by curious humans so close.

New birds in the laundry (or bird room as it would be more fittingly known)

I even found a swallow-embellished notebook while out and about with Mrs Peaceable, to round off a perfect day.

On Sunday Mr Shoestring and I went to Thames to visit our daughter who lives there and spent a very interesting time at the School of Mines Museum where our guide was so knowledgeable that it felt as though there was nothing he didn't know about the history of the gold rush and gold mining in Thames.  The museum premises have been kept in their original condition and even though its cases of specimens with the pretty chalky painted signwriting are chock full of unlikely and mysterious stones

I thought that the enormous map of all the old claims was the most fascinating thing.  The names were so picturesque and the odd shapes of the claims were testament to the way that the prospectors were determined to use every available piece of land they were legally allowed to, and also to prospect in the areas they believed a seam of gold would be located.  

The dotted and dashed lines indicate known seams of gold

The prospectors tended to name the claims after former successful strikes, hence some recycling of older names (Shotover for instance), but then there were obviously sentimental names as well.  One was called "All Nations" because of the many varied nationalities of the stakeholders.  Also there was a determination to record events for posterity (or possibly to publicise the discovery of gold) and so the first day of workings was diligently recorded by a professional photographer, and then another photo was taken a year later to demonstrate progress.

The School of Mines was in use right into the 1950s and it is still in its somewhat ramshackle and charmingly scruffy condition, right down to cupboards full of old mining publications.

Fired up with enthusiasm after that visit we went to the Thames Museum which also housed a lot of interesting and curious relics, though not specifically mining oriented. 

Of course I was drawn to the town's recreated millinery shop complete with its display counter

 and the general goods store with its colourful old tins and advertising
but my favourite thing (and one which seemed very sensible as well) was a bandage which was printed with various methods of using it for different types of injuries, a bit gruesome but fascinating!

As we left Thames the air was noticeably colder and we could see a roiling black cloud coming across the Hauraki Planes towards us.  We were surprised to see localised hail storms had hit parts nearby as we travelled home and some areas were blanketed with very thick hail which had fallen in pea-sized pieces, it was good to get home again safe and warm.  

And so back to the working week and the "real" world.  Sigh.