Friday 1 January 2010

Here comes the sun

The First-Born is home safe and sound from six days camping at Gisborne over on East Cape where the Rhythm 'n Vines Festival attracts thousands of young people to welcome in the New Year with loud music, much alcohol and nothing else I want to think about, thanks.

Gizzy was the first place in the world to welcome the sun at the start of the new millennium - can it possibly be 10 years ago? And down in Hawkes Bay Napier marked the event in a suitably Art Deco fashion with this arch by the pebbly beach with its impossibly turquoise water.

>>> ‘See, you miss all this, sealed inside a car,’ I say, letting go of the handlebars and waving expansively at the landscape. ‘Larks singing, the sea breeze, being able to smell the flowers…’ ‘And the dead things in the ditch,’ adds the teenager from behind with that effortless superiority that comes so naturally to the young when crushing parental enthusiasms.

I ignore her. Since the only whining I can hear is coming from the wheels, I know that really she is enjoying herself on this tandem ride around Napier: she is just too cool to admit it. And who wouldn’t have fun, gliding along the Marine Parade cycle path with the sun sparkling on the peacock blue sea on the left, the curve of Cape Kidnappers ahead and a line of cute colonial-style and Art Deco houses peeping through the avenue of tall Norfolk pines on the right?

Napier is on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island in Hawkes Bay, where the good things of life are abundant: sunshine and scenery, orchards and wineries, restaurants and appealing architecture. It wasn’t always so: seventy-five years ago on a hot, muggy February morning the people of Napier and nearby Hastings thought the world had come to an end when a 7.8 earthquake struck and reduced their towns to rubble.

The death of old Napier was rapidly followed by the rebirth of the city in a new form: Art Deco. With its recurrent motifs of sunbursts, speed lines and leaping women, the style symbolised the new spirit of the 20th century, a bright new age of technology, independence and progress. In just two years, the city was transformed into a unique example of a planned and cohesive townscape, said to be the most complete and significant group of Art Deco buildings in the world...

[Pub. The Australian 4/3/06]

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