February 21, 2014

22.2.2011 memorial

If you are new to my blog, then you may not be aware I live in Christchurch, New Zealand. 
Three years ago tomorrow we had our worst earthquake. More devastating than the even bigger one in September 2010.  Many people died in the 6.2 of 22.2.2011.
We have had many, many thousands of earthquakes - the posts about them from those worst days and our recovery since can be found in the label "earthquakes" on the main blog page.  

This video captures some memories of these days.

I apologise if some pictures have gone from any older posts - I am gradually rebuilding them where I can.

Kia kaha is a Māori phrase used by both the Māori and Pākehā (European) people of New Zealand meaning stay strong, used as an affirmation. The phrase has significant meaning for both the Māori and Pākehā people

Kia kaha Christchurch. 

February 18, 2014

Christchurch Hottest Day

Summer hasn't been brilliant this year but it tried to make up for it today here in Christchurch.

Christchurch has hit 33.3 degrees Celsius making it the warmest day of the year and the hottest place in the country - but it won't last.
Temperatures in Ashburton at 3.25pm were about 10C cooler due to a southerly change due to hit Christchurch late afternoon.
The southerly will bring much cooler temperatures but no rain.
MetService metereologist John Law said the clear, dry weather should hang around for the rest of the week though cloud was likely in the mornings and evenings.
Nothing like it to remind you how hard it is to function in high temperatures - I don't know how parts of the world cope with it! A huge relief to finally abandon the oven office and head home. Iced drink, sarong, a shady swing seat in the courtyard and a good book far nicer. Poppy certainly appreciated it... 

Lovely flowers everywhere...

Celebrated Valentine's Day with Jaz and Mark and the girls this week - champagne (in Margarita glasses), chocolate, takeaways and a lovely evening...

Have had a lovely couple of family days over the weekend with Mum and Dad, some long chats with my mother in England and a chance to stop after a full on two weeks at work starting our four new classes. Good to see the students all settling in. Soon be time for our Kaikoura dolphin trip again :)

A reflective few days ahead as on Saturday it is the three year anniversary of the big quake. So many changes. I watched "When a City Falls" again this week. Bittersweet memories, recognition of how much we have been through, how far we have come, and how far we still have to go.
Gerard Smyth's acclaimed documentary about the Christchurch earthquakes is the story of people coping — for better or worse — with the huge physical and emotional toll that the quakes, and continuing aftershocks, inflicted on them, their homes and their city. It began as a home movie while the devastation of September was surveyed (with thanks given that no-one had been killed); but, as shooting of the recovery continued, the February quake compounded the destruction and claimed 182 lives (including their researcher and 16 colleagues at CTV).
Christchurch will unite on Saturday and put flowers in the cones again in memory of it all and those who lost their lives.

I hope you will think of us all too.

February 12, 2014

Mary Queen of Scots and other musings

Tonight Angus made me cry.
To be fair he wasn't aware of this and it is not the first time I have cried about something he wrote - so I don't blame him at all for it.

He posted this photo in his blog today.  http://bobnsophie.blogspot.co.nz/2014/02/ears-were-made-to-listen-not-judge.html

It is a picture he had restored of Mary Queen of Scots, painted from someone's memory after her execution. What I thought was a sort of hat or Xmas pudding, is apparently, possibly a small dog in her hand.  It is not important - but what made me cry was that her small dog crept out from under her skirts after she was executed.
Tears start...
I go hunting - and find an earlier post Angus wrote about the painting..

The execution of Mary Queen of Scots at Fotheringhay Castle on the morning of February 8th 1587 was a bungled affair. The first strike of the executioners axe missed the neck and bit deep into the back of her head,smashing the skull, but leaving her conscious. She was heard to whisper 'Sweet Jesus' in agony. The second blow was more succesful and a third finally sent her into the next world. Eyewitnesses say that when her severed head was picked up and shown to the crowd the lips continued to move for a further fifteen minutes . This was not the end of the gruesome spectacle as her auburn tresses came away in the executioners hands and the head , lips still moving, fell to the floor. The auburn hair was in fact a wig, and Mary's real hair was seen to be grey and close shaved. This sequence of events had quite an unnerving effect on the spectators who fell silent. Worse was to come for as they started to carry the body away from the execution block a small Skye terrier, Marys favourite, crawled out from under her petticoat where the Queen had been holding onto it throughout the ordeal - her last remaining comfort. The wee animal crouched beside the severed head of its mistress and howled piteously.

It is also mentioned in http://www.skyeterrierclub.org.uk/about-skyes/early-days-in-scotland/
Although we have relatively little information from its native isle, the breed is fortunate to have had some extremely famous owners, so we have some information about their devoted dogs. The tragic Mary, Queen of Scots, after nineteen years of imprisonment by the English, was beheaded on the 8th February 1587. While her clothes were being removed after the execution, the Queens Skye terrier crept out from under her skirts to position itself by the severed head of its mistress. The distressed dog was removed and bathed to remove any smell of the Queen’s blood but, despite coaxing, refused to eat and died of a broken heart.
and who would ever forget Greyfriars Bobby - also a Skye Terrier.

So, any dog owners are probably feeling a bit sad themselves at this point.... although it's probably just a bit of fascinating history, but you know where I am heading don't you.

I haven't been to my execution. I only coped with a huge shift in perception and a definite mistrust of everyone. If I didn't recognise he was a rotten apple then I needed to reevaluate everything I knew and look at people differently.

Gradually I learned to appreciate little things and savour moments. I am learning to trust my gut and recognise the red flags. I enjoy time alone and not feeling anxious.

One day I read this.

Don’t listen to the folks who say your feelings should be totally independent of the world around you. If you’ve got an open heart, that’s impossible. As human beings, we have this incredible gift—the ability to make another person feel wonderful. With a word, a gesture, or a quiet smile. It’s what makes the world beautiful. A normal person would probably call this love.
But you experienced an abuser. Someone who manipulated this gift to cause pain. And now you want to know how to avoid them so it’ll never happen again. You’re worried that you’ve become hypervigilant—untrusting of everyone and everything around you. You feel that you need a little something extra. Something beyond your intuition.
So this is where I’d like to introduce the idea of a Constant. Your Constant will comfort & protect you throughout this book, and for the rest of your life.
Think of someone you love. Someone who consistently inspires and never disappoints. It could be anyone—your mom, a close friend, a forum member, your children, your cat, a deceased relative. Really, anyone. You might feel that you have no Constant. Of course you do, you just have to dream one up really quick. Imagine a higher power in your mind—one that brings peace to your heart. Colorful, glowing, and full of life. Embodying all of the qualities you admire most: empathy, compassion, kindness. A gentle spirit who will always keep you safe. And viola, you have a Constant.
So now that you’ve got a Constant in mind (tangible or imagined), I have some questions. Does your Constant make you feel unhinged? Anxious? Jealous? Does your heart rise up into your throat when they speak to you? When you’re away from your Constant, do you spend hours analyzing their behavior and defending yourself from hypothetical arguments?
Of course not.
So why is that? Why can one dismissive person make you doubt everything good going on in your life? What’s the difference between your Constant and the people who make you feel like garbage? 
If you can’t answer these questions quite yet, you’re not alone. And that’s the beauty of it all. You do not need to understand why you don’t like being around a person. You have a Constant, and that’s all you need to know for now. Self-respect comes later.
Your Constant is a private reminder that you are not crazy, even when it feels like you’re taking on the entire world. With time, you will begin to filter out the people who make you feel bad. You realize that you do not need to put up with negativity when there is a Constant who brings out the best in you. 
Once you become more comfortable with the idea, you’ll be ready to ask the most important question of all: “Shouldn’t I feel this same kind of peace with everyone in my life?”
rom the book Psychopath Free.

I had to smile. In the worst moments when things seemed bleak, I found huge support from wonderful friends and family. They got me through some tough times, particularly the mother of the child that was also involved.  We supported each other and I know she was a constant. But, in the middle of the night, or when things seemed hard at work - the other constant that was always there, 24/7, was Poppy.

So I guess I can relate to Mary taking her dog with her to the end.

Thanks Angus :)

February 4, 2014

Web Archive Viewer - National Library of New Zealand

I realised today that an archive of one of my blog posts after the earthquake is on the National Library Digital Collection.

Web Archive Viewer - National Library of New Zealand


And what am I famously remembered for?  Toilet Humour.... Sewerage issues ..... the reality of life post earthquake.

You can see the archived copy here

or the original is here: http://fourpawsandwhiskers.blogspot.co.nz/2011/04/toilet-humour-in-quakechurch.html

Good to know they are collecting our earthquake stories - so easy to forget the reality of life after an event like this.

February 2, 2014


Hopes Nose" from near Teignmouth, Devon,

Leslie Harcourt Kent (1890-1980) was a prolific artist.  He painted over a 1000 works with displays in many galleries. Many of them are still hanging in the houses of his children and grandchildren today. His legacy. I know this because I have grown up surrounded with them. He was my grandfather. 
He is probably best known for his seascapes and studies of boats.


Titchfield Haven, Hillhead
A colourful study of beached and sailing boats bathed in the golden light of late afternoon, this canvas is typical of Kent’s work. Primarily a painter of coasts and seascapes, he was adept at describing the movement of choppy water, mimicking its translucence and reflective qualities, and reproducing in graphic painterly strokes effects of cloud against the sky. His compositions are often complex arrangements of form and tone, belying their apparent simplicity.
He also painted landscapes, in which the panoramic sweep and muted greens appear to have an affinity with railway and Shell posters of the 1920s and ’30s.
Biographical details
Leslie Kent (1890-1980) was educated at Leeds University, and then from 1918-20 studied with Frederick Milner (1863-1939) in the artists’ colony at St Ives. Presumably it was from Milner that he learnt to depict the transparency of water, and the ephemeral effects of weather and light with such facility. Kent exhibited at the Royal Academy, the New English Art Club, the Royal Society of British Artists, Royal Institute of Oil Painters, the Royal Scottish Academy and the Paris Salon.
Works in public collections include At Keyhaven, Hampshire (Cornwall, National Maritime Museum).
- See more at: http://www.markmitchellpaintings.com/leslie-kent-1890-1980-titchfield-haven-hillhead-sold/#sthash.Jw95gsSE.dpuf
We shared a special relationship. In hindsight, this was all the more special as I was adopted. His only granddaughter among the five of us. I will always treasure the memories of the time I spent at their house in Radlett, enjoying the sanctuary of his studio. The smell of oil paints and linseed, palette knives and the myriad of brushes he used to craft his work. Easels and canvases and the huge windows that let in the special northern light of southern England. He taught me the basics of drawing in that studio.  Later, he helped pay my fees so that I could go to his old school, Bedales. We would sit in his studio and he would relive his school days through my stories.  He and his sister went there in the early 1900's.. it was a coeducational boarding school....

Bedales, Petersfield, Hampshire
Bedales was founded by J H Badley in 1893 to be a humane alternative to the authoritarian regimes typical of late-Victorian public schools.
Although Mr Badley's ideas were highly radical for England at that time, in retrospect he can be seen as part of a wider European reform movement (he was the contemporary of Montessori and Steiner).
The school became fully co-educational in 1898; students were given a formal voice by 1916, when the School Council was formed.

It wasnt until much later that I learned he started the fire brigade, the Bedales Corp and started the School Magazine - The Bedales Chronicle....

In 1993 I returned to Bedales to attend the centenary of the school and see his art hanging there specially. It was pretty special.

Seaside Fair
Sailing in the Solent
Corfe Hills from Poole Harbour
Sailing Days
Sailing Boats on The Clyde
There are more thumbnails of his work here.

Some of his work hangs in British displays
National Maritime Museum Cornwall Discovery Quay, Falmouth, Cornwall, England,
At Keyhaven, Hampshire
and also

HMS 'Barham' Offshore

This place would love us... but we are not selling!http://www.british-arts.com/artists-we-buy/leslie-kent-marine-paintings-wanted.html

One of my favourites hangs at my parent's house.
Moonlight over the Pacific was painted on the boat to New Zealand in the 1930's.
I first wrote about it here:http://fourpawsandwhiskers.blogspot.co.nz/2008/12/christmas-pets.html

Moonlight Over the Pacific

The last time I saw him was in 1976. After three months visiting them in the UK I returned to NZ to continue with fourth year vet school. He gave me some money to buy a present so I got a lovely Scheaffer fountain pen and had it inscribed with my name. Fiona Kent.  I used it through all my lectures and exam finals for the next two years and I still use it for special letters nearly forty years later!
Thanks Grandpa. You are certainly not forgotten.


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