Wednesday 23 June 2021

In the eye of this beholder

I'm not complaining about my usual view, but there's no denying that it's taken to another level when something like this turns up as the focal point. It's Adix, a 65m schooner owned by a Spanish billionaire who is currently appealing his conviction as an art smuggler. He was given 3 years for trying to take his Picasso out of Spain to sell at auction - not allowed under Spanish law, which has decreed the painting a 'national treasure'. Painted in 1906, it's Head of a Young Woman.

National treasure? Hm, I'm not much of a fan. Look at her thick neck! I can't imagine she was flattered by the result, though she probably was to be asked to sit for it. And at least her eyes are in the right place... I've been to numerous galleries, and on cruise ships, with Picasso paintings hanging on the walls, but it says it all that I can't find any evidence of that on my phone. There were some I saw only in February at the glorious Sculptureum up near Makakana, but I ignored them in favour of the beautiful blown glass, clever 3D constructions and lovely sculptures. One of my favourites, and given the honour of its own room, was this Dale Chihuly piece:

I'm so glad I got to go to the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, WA (er, that's Washington state, not Western Australia) and wander through the galleries of his spectacular, delicate and gorgeous glass creations - even though it still rankles that the guard on duty wouldn't let me take any photos, despite sneakily taking some himself, the shameless hypocrite. Most marvellous of all, though - both for its beauty and intricate construction, and the astonishing trust its location showed in the maturity of the town's citizens - was his fabulous piece Sun on display outside the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Now that's what I call a national treasure.

Sunday 13 June 2021

Essential purchase

Satisfying links today. Cast your mind back, regular 😀 reader, to the very end of 2017, when I was in Buenos Aires en route to Ushuaia for an Antarctica cruise over Christmas and the New Year. The day after I arrived, I got up earlyish and headed off to the Sunday Market at San Telmo. It was lovely - pleasantly busy with locals as well as tourists like me, safe, colourful and interestingly varied. I was especially taken by the stall selling saddlery, and the man festooned with feather dusters. One other stall that I was particularly drawn to had a display of colourful lace-up shoes, trimmed with traditional brightly-patterned fabrics. I wanted some, but they didn't have my size.

Move forward three and a half years, and umpteen kilometres to the Saturday market here on Waiheke. What do I find, as I wander around with my coffee? Only those same style shoes, except boots this time, made in Peru, displayed on a stall run by Clara, a friendly young woman from Grenada. She had my size so, clearly, it was meant to be. I bought them - or, rather, took them away with me, to pay for online later from home, at Clara's suggestion.

And then I went back to my car to pick up my shopping bag to go to the supermarket. My big Silversea shopping bag. It was a Silversea cruise I'd been in Buenos Aires en route to. On which, amongst many, many other delights, I was pleased to meet again my favourite Silversea staff member, wine waitress Miriam. Who is from Peru.

Sunday 6 June 2021

Up to 16 metres of plankton-eating fish

This was sad to see. It's always a shame to read about dead whales - and it's not an uncommon sight here, especially at the top of the South Island, where the sneaky Farewell Spit confuses them and they regularly end up stranded, often in large numbers. I don't remember it ever happening here to a whale shark, though, (they are not actually, of course, whales) and I'm especially sorry about that.

That's because, though I've often seen whales, especially humpbacks, out on spotting cruises, it's only whale sharks that I've knowingly shared the water with, at close quarters. It was back in 2011, when I went all the way across Australia (and it really is a VERY long way) to Exmouth, north of Perth. It was a brilliant day that began with watching the sun rise over the sea. Think about that - I'll wait.

Yes? No? Perth is the capital of Western Australia, right, so in that state you watch the sun set into the sea. Classically, at Cottesloe Beach, which I've done, and which Tim Minchin (who I'm going to see in concert here next week) mentioned in a song that Missy Higgins sings beautifully. 

But Exmouth is on the eastern side of the North West Cape, which sticks up like a rather rude finger from the mainland, so you can sit on the beach there and see the sun rise over the water. It's a novelty they're quite pleased about there. They also tell you all about their naval history, which includes a fair chunk of US Navy occupation, their VLF transmitters, their very high lighthouse and, er, that's about it really. 

Apart from, of course, Ningaloo Reef, which is why everybody comes - to swim with the whale sharks, to snorkel along the reef, to luxuriate in the 30+ degree Leeuwen Current. Which is all, honestly, very well worth going all that way for. Though, be warned - and it was news to me - it's entirely possible to feel seasick while floating in the water, riding the swell as you wait for the sharks to loom up through the water like the Cheshire cat, spots first. 


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