Friday 9 August 2013

Wellington walk

If I didn't know better, I'd suspect that the All Blacks were stalking me: training at school in Auckland last week and today staying in the same hotel here in Wellington, trooping about being unnecessarily large. So in accidental retaliation I helped myself to the berry compote and smoothie that were mysteriously not on the main buffet at breakfast, but on a separate long table - which turned out to be theirs. I'm sure they didn't miss them.

The photo is nicely linked: the statue made by Weta Workshop, where I visited yesterday, created for the Rugby World Cup and erected in a park by the Civic Centre. There, under Neil Dawson's lovely fern sculpture, was the meeting place for today's 2-hour walking tour of the city. It was a good choice - Judith gave us all the background bumf on stuff I'd walked past unknowing, local gossip, news of a 4-point-something earthquake at 5am (which I slept through), and entry into some pretty special places. One of them was the new Supreme Court, built at huge expense as a yah-boo-sucks gesture towards Britain and rarely used, but beautiful inside, like a kauri nut, all warm blonde wood and totally insulated from the noise of the city right outside. There was the actual Treaty of Waitangi in the National Archives, all nine copies of it in a very dim room. Government House, now the Law School, has a beautiful and unusually-shaped staircase, and some fresh cracks in the plaster walls after last month's 6.5. There was an animated clock in the Old Bank Arcade that many locals know nothing about, a mechanical rat and cat in the Museum of City and Sea, and a secret panel inside the glorious wooden interior of Old St Paul's.

And then I went up the hill to Thorndon to visit the birthplace of Katherine Mansfield, peerless writer, in a sweet little Victorian house full of memorabilia which included a reconstruction of the doll's house, in which I seen the little lamp. It's a quite ordinary house for someone so alternative to have sprung from, but she lived there only till she was five. Her last house, before she went to Europe, was not far away, but it isn't there any more - it was razed so that the grim and ugly concrete and iron-barred US Embassy could be built on the site. Tch.

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