The Magic Flute

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I haven’t posted anything on my blog for a long time, mostly because we’ve returned to New Zealand and taken up our old lives and routines. It seemed that there was nothing that we hadn’t experienced before and hence nothing remarkable to blog about. But that changed over the weekend when we enjoyed a performance of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, which was part of the 2019 Auckland arts festival. This was the production from the Komische Oper Berlin co-directed by Barrie Kosky and Suzanne Andrade (British theatre group 1927) with animation by Paul Barritt. In addition to Mozart’s famous music ably played by the Auckland Philharmonia, the performance was remarkable for some fine singing and amazing animation instead of sets. Some of the animation was reminiscent of silent movies – warnings to Tamino and Papageno during their trial of silence, for example, were projected in huge words complete with exclamation points. The animation was inventive and amusing, resulting in laughter from the audience at times. It suited the fantastical plot of this opera though I found it distracting at times and I closed my eyes to concentrate on the singing. I also didn’t take to the Queen of the Night as a giant spider! But overall, it was a wonderful experience and the the applause at the final curtain was long and loud.

Maungarei

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One of the advantages of living in a volcanic zone is the existence of high green spaces for walking and enjoying views of the city. Despite having lived in Auckland off and on for over 20 years, I have never climbed Maungarei (Mount Wellington). That changed yesterday and it was glorious – late summer sunshine, bright blue sky and 360º views. There is a path around the perimeter of the crater and views from every point along the way. It is an extremely pleasant walk and I highly recommend it.

Sunrise in KL

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The sunrise this morning over a hazy KL taken from our hotel room in Bangsar. The temperature was already 25ºC and is forecast to rise to 33º. The highest temperature in Auckland today was 23º and this time next week we’ll be there! We are returning home after four years in Malaysia. Our stay here was the reason for starting this blog as a means of keeping our family and friends up to date with our news. While we are thrilled to be going home, inevitably we’ll miss things about our life in Ipoh, not least the people we’ve met and the friendships  we’ve formed. But we will not miss the heat or the haze! I’ll have to rename my website – From Ohaupo to Ipoh to ??  We’re not sure yet where we’ll be living but it will be somewhere in the middle of the North Island. It may even be back in Ohaupo! Watch this space.

Waka on the Waitemata

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This experience is one of the highlights of my year in Auckland – sailing on the Waitemata harbour in a waka, a traditional double-hulled canoe, with an expert crew of Maori sailors. As we went under the harbour bridge, photographer Chris McKeen snapped this amazing photo. Look closely – I am standing to the left of the front sail, wearing a blue cap. It was a gorgeous summer’s day with smooth water and deep blues skies. We meandered around the harbour with its spectacular views of Auckland city and some of the islands of the Hauraki Gulf. I will never forget it.

Michael Joseph Savage

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With a general election in less than a month, it seemed appropriate (and perhaps propitious) to visit the Michael Joseph Savage memorial. He was New Zealand’s first Labour prime minister (1935-1940). A socialist and trade unionist, he is credited with instituting the welfare state. His charisma and oratory skills made him an almost revered figure in New Zealand politics and his memorial near Bastion Point in Auckland exemplifies the esteem in which he was held. I viewed the memorial on a glorious spring day – standing beside it looking out over the glistening waters of the Waitemata harbour, it seemed that anything was possible!

Red-letter day

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Our daughter graduated at the University of Auckland yesterday. We were there to cheer her on as she walked in the procession from the university to the Aotea Centre and when she walked across the stage to receive her degrees from the Chancellor. It was a wonderful day of celebration for us and all the families at the ceremony – so much hard work, so much knowledge gained, so much support given and so much pride on display.

Summer’s lingering

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It was a perfect summer’s morning when I walked from St Helier’s Bay to Mission Bay early today – still and calm, the water turning pink as the sun rose. When I started out there were very few people about but as I retraced my steps, the cafe tables, where there was a strong aroma of coffee,  were filling up, people were walking their dogs and the more energetic were cycling or kayaking. I walked back with the now risen sun warming my face and filling me with a sense of well-being. Summer won’t last forever but today it felt like it may linger a little longer.

The land of the long white cloud

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The upper part of the North Island has really lived up to this epithet this week. We’ve had two months’ worth of rain in a few days, causing flooding, traffic woes and power cuts. There hasn’t even been a gleam of sunlight through the clouds. Aucklanders are hardy people and go about their business wearing raincoats and steering their umbrellas into the wind. But we’re all longing for some sunshine to warm us up and dry us out.

Separated from the ones I live

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2017 has been a surprising year. We came to Auckland for Christmas and it turns out I’ll be staying all year. I was offered a fixed-term job till 15 December, which I have now begun. But I am here without any of the three people I love the most and that feels strange. Both our daughters moved away from Auckland in January, to Sydney and Dargaville respectively, to take up new jobs. Jim returned to Ipoh early in January and he is slogging away, without me to help on the home front. Separately we’re all having new experiences, which it will be wonderful to share when we’re all together again.

Waitangi weather

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Today is Waitangi Day, New Zealand’s national day and Aucklanders celebrated in magnificent summer weather. The bays along the waterfront were packed with picnickers, swimmers, paddle-boarders and kayakers. I wandered along Tamaki drive enjoying the views of the sparkling water and people watching. It was lovely to meet up with friends. I even had an ice-cream cone! A perfect summer’s day.