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Top 10 awesome landmarks of New Zealand.

New Zealand.

A nation of unspoilt panoramic scenery, ancient cultures, rugby, hobbits and bored but ingenious nutters.

New Zealand is in the middle of nowhere. Nobody knows where we are, nobody cares where we are, we are a complete global insignificance and that’s the way we like it. One side effect of being in the middle of nowhere, being diligently ignored by everyone, is time. Time to quietly sit in your shed through the long winter nights and think. Very occasionally inspiration will strike! From the midwinter gloom a voice will bellow out in the night, echoing from the dimly lit shed out across the misty fields “I’ve got it! What this town needs is a really massive ………………”.

New Zealand has a bewildering number of ridiculous landmarks. Every tiny town seems to have one. Every council wants the biggest/smallest/tallest/widest something in the World/Southern hemisphere/Australasia/this far South of Turangi.

We (HandMadeMummy and NerdDad) will start our top 10 countdown with some honourable mentions. We wouldn’t want to leave anybody out, and someone unstable enough to spend all their spare time making oversized fruit out of fibreglass probably shouldn’t be trifled with! (Boom! Boom!)

Tirau’s (tee-rao) corrugated iron sheep and sheepdog (the inspiration for this post, seen on a previous Top 10 post) are a visitor centre and gift shop. It is probably the only place you can walk up a sheep’s bum and buy a coffee. Although Tirau is fantastic with heaps of strange corrugated iron creations, including the eyeball, Top 10 has been there and done that so we didn’t include it.

Other honourable mentions go to Taupo’s fish, Rotorua’s Agrodome sheep and Te Anau Takahe, Waitomo Apple and the Geraldine Jumper.

But now onto the Top 10 (Dumroll Please)

NUMBER 10 – The Turangi (Too-rang-ee) Fisherman

Turangi Fisherman

Turangi Fisherman

Turangi is the self styled Trout fishing capital of the World. At the bottom of beautiful Lake Taupo and the entrance to the atmospheric volcanic central plateau it has a bit of tough time standing out so you can’t blame it for blowing its own trumpet. In order to remind people driving through the town just how good the fishing is here they erected a giant silhouette of a fisherman, I wonder how many people it has persuaded to stop and try their luck.

NUMBER 9 – Te Puke (Teh Poo-Kee) Kiwifruit

Handmade Mummy in the Kiwi Fruit

Handmade Mummy in the Kiwi Fruit

Te Puke is in the centre of kiwi fruit country and so it was fitting that some bright spark decided to open a kiwi fruit themed tourist attraction. You can take a tour of the kiwi fruit vines in the kiwi fruit shaped golf cart train, buy kiwi fruit themed products from the gift shop, eat kiwi fruit in the cafe and at the end of your visit you can climb the massive kiwi fruit slice that stands at the entrance. The slice must be at least 20m tall and has a staircase inside it so you can climb up and take in panoramic views of the….erm….kiwi fruit!

NUMBER 8 – Cromwell (Crom-well) Fruit

Handmade Mummy with the Cromwell Fruit

Handmade Mummy with the Cromwell Fruit

Cromwell sits in Otago wine making country, all around there are amazing wineries making some of the best Pinot Noir in the World. These wineries sit in some stunning countryside which you can more often than not take in from their restaurants whilst enjoying their amazing wine. However someone in Cromwell decided that this beautiful scenery and award winning wine wasn’t enough to attract people to the area, they needed something else. Giant fruit were the answer.

NUMBER 7 – The Gore Brown Trout

The Gore Trout welcomes you!

The Gore Trout welcomes you!

Gore. The name says it all. Buried in the depths of Southland Gore is a town that services the large rural community around it. It does however have a very handsome brown trout that has recently been repainted at great cost.

Nobody knows much about Gore really, that is we don’t know much about it because, unlike the other astounding constructions, we haven’t actually visited this one. We kept it in because we felt there was a place in the top 10 for a random mahoooosive fish.

NUMBER 6 – Te Kuiti (teh-kwitty) Sheep Shearer

The Te Kuiti Shearer

The Te Kuiti Shearer

Te Kuiti is the self-styled “sheep shearing capital of the world”. Like a wooly Pamplona, each year Te Kuiti runs sheep through the centre of town. The animal rights guys think it’s baaaaabaric but how can you object to such a ewemungous event? The highlight of the Te Kuiti year, if not the whole Southern Hemisphere year, is the New Zealand Shearing Championships. This statue commemorates this and serves as a monument to all the stubby and black wool singlet wearing men toiling in shearing sheds nationwide. He is reputed to be the world’s largest shearer at 6m high.

NUMBER 5 – Taihape (Tie-Happy) Gum Boot

The Taihape Gumboot

The Taihape Gumboot

Taihape is wet. Very Wet. Situated roughly in the middle of the North Island, South of the ski fields, it’s a small country town with country interests. Farming, hunting, fishing, the great outdoors …. all of which are miserable with a leaky gumboot. Gumbots are of paramount importance in Taihape, they even have an annual gumboot festival and a song about it. All hail the Taihaope Gumboot.

NUMBER 4 – Otorohanga (oh-Toe-Row-hong-a) Kiwi

The Otorohanga Kiwi

The Otorohanga Kiwi

OK, so a massive national icon isn’t that strange we suppose. This one however has a flag on his bum and had an all blacks jersey for the world cup. Otorohanga is the self styled Kiwiana town and has displays of Kiwi items all over the place, all six buildings, including a rather fetching Kiwiana walkway that has cabinets that tell you stories about New Zealand. Nobody listens to the stories they just press every button, play every story and tune simultaneously leaving the brain wrenching cacphony for the next unwitting tourist that passes by. Otorohanga is a fantastic little town, if you want to understand New Zelanad culture just take a wander around; you’ll learn more here about New Zealanders and how they think over lunch and a stroll than you will in five hours at a museum (oh and make sure you visit the Haddad’s shop, it’s a tourist attraction in its own rite).

NUMBER 3 – Paeroa (Pie-row-ah) L&P Bottle

Lemon & Paeroa

Lemon & Paeroa

L&P (Lemon & Paeroa) is New Zealand’s answer to Cocacola. It is “World Famous in New Zealand since ages ago” and a national treasure. Some ingenious Kiwi guys in the 1940s flavoured the local mineral water with lemon and an icon was born!

NUMBER 2 – Manaia (Man-eye-ah) Loaf

Nerd Dad and Handmade Mummy with the Manaia Loaf

Nerd Dad and Handmade Mummy with the Manaia Loaf

What do you do if you are a small town whose main employer is a bakery? You have a giant fibre glass loaf of bread made to welcome people to the town of course. They have been making bread in Manaia for over 100 years so it is a pretty important industry to the town. Unfortunately the giant bakery has gone into receivership so the loaf now stand as a reminder of times gone by and gives passing tourists a chance to add to their “photo with a crazy fibreglass sculpture” collection.

THE MAGNIFICENT NUMBER 1 – Ohakune (oh-ha-koo-knee) Carrot

Handmade Mummy gives the Ohakune carrot a cuddle!

Handmade Mummy gives the Ohakune carrot a cuddle!

To us the carrot is a glorious sight as it means fun on the snow is about to begin. Ohakune is a ski town being the gateway to the Turoa skifield on Mount Ruapehu (a live volcano, how rock and roll is that!). It is also in the middle of veggie growing country, hence the carrot. It was originally used in an ANZ Bank advertisement but was given to the town afterwards to recognise the fact that the majority of carrots grown in New Zealand come from here. The towns people were delighted and erected the carrot on the edge of town so everyone would know that Ohakune is built from carrots. It is a patriotic carrot too, turning black to support the All Blacks in the 2011 World Cup, I’m sure the team felt much happier knowing the carrot had their backs!

So that concludes our guest Top 10 for Russell’s blog. There is much more to see in New Zealand, come and visit us some time! As they say here it’s CHOICE!

Nerd Dad and Hand Made Mummy.

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Wordless Wednesday

Failed.

Bugger!

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Stats, Breaking the Game and Superman.

As is plainly obvious I am a nerd. Nerds LOVE stats. We really do. I have watched whole cricket matches via cricinfo stats. [For American readers cricket is a bit like baseball in that you smack a leather ball with a big stick, it differs from baseball in that it isn’t crap.] I spend ages messing around looking graphs and pretty tables on sports websites.

I also love the stats page on WordPress. You find such strange things out. Someone from Mongolia once came to this site via yahoo.co.uk. I was surprised a Mongolian waned to read my nonsense but even more surprised that Yahoo still existed! Do you remember Yahoo? I was also very pleased to find that Superman is one of my readers, it is the only explanation of my stats. He was the only visitor to my site one day, in the space of a few hours my drivel was read in Canada, the USA, New Zealand (he should have dropped by to say hello!) and the UK but I only had one visitor. I was very pleased to have finally “broken the game”. I love doing that.

I am certain that I am not the only one who, when they get a computer game, try and break it. My routine is load the game, break the game, play the game.  By “breaking the game” I mean trying to walk somewhere the game blatantly won’t let me, putting in some cheat then walking into a fire just to see how quickly and how amusingly the whole thing crashes, and partly to see what fun noises my antiquated PC will make. I am like a moth to a light, plunging myself into glitches to see what happens, I learnt my “trade” primarily in the glitch ridden world of Doom (when I should have been revising for my physics A-Level). Sadly the current crop of games aren’t quite so glitch ridden but therein lies the challenge. The other challenge is actually getting time to play games with The Boy around. As mentioned in a previous post I also like making speakers feedback, videoing the output of my video to get those strange infinitely repeating patterns and skyping my computer with my phone then shouting to see what happens. (NOTE TO SELF – remember to add “loser” to the tags).

I think it’s the same instinct that drives small boys to poke gross and weird things like dead birds and poo with sticks. I hope The Boy grows up to be the curious but not stupid one (i.e. the one that pokes gross stuff with a stick rather than picking it up or tasting it).

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An attempt to bend space in on itself – blogging about blogging about blogging.

I am increasingly amused when I see whole blogs about blogging. It strikes me as a peculiar phenomenon, a curious self perpetuating cycle like a literary möbius strip, endless and fruitless. Not to say I haven’t found “Blogs about blogs” handy on occasion, indeed some can be quite amusing. I am neither brave enough or mean enough to link to particularly pointless blogs about blogs. It is the inevitable consequence of doing something as narcissistic as writing a blog and the assertion that you are worth listening to, that the world wants to hear you, and yet having nothing to say.

250px-Möbius_strip

Instead of naming and shaming (and probably massively putting my foot in it) I have joined in. I am also going to write a post about nothing, a few hundred words that does nothing but add to the junk and clutter in the interweb. I have decided to try and make space fold in on itself, or at least take a step towards it, like when you video the TV and try and get interference and one of those infinitely repeating pictures, or play your speakers through a microphone or put two phones on speaker phone together until you get weird feedback (again  I am back to “breaking the game”). I am proudly blogging about blogging about blogging. It amuses me far more than it should. I am sorely tempted to start a blog about blogs about blogs, just for it’s monumental ridiculousness. I fear the joke would wear thin though. A blog for the illiterate or advice for those who have no computer may also fit the bill.

I am hoping someone will take up the challenge and mention this post in one of theirs, thereby blogging about blogging about blogging about blogging, and the ball will be rolling. We’ll get weird trails of blogs ablout blogs about blogs about blogs about blogs about ………… and readers’ heads will implode (or they’ll just click “unfollow” I suppose).

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What do you mean you mean you AREN’T interested in my revolting offspring?

One thing I am struggling with in this new-parent role is keeping a perspective on life. It is sometimes very difficult to remember that my little sprog isn’t anything special, he isn’t newsworthy and the whole world doesn’t need to know about his every erucation and defecation. Infact, this blog itself is a symptom of my inability to keep quiet about The Boy. In my defence I have tried to keep bodily function news to a minimum ‘cos it’s gross and unimaginative (although gross and unimaginative are both words one could use to describe me at my most boorish) but I do have a tendency to go on a bit.

I’m afraid you guys, my lovely readers, are fair game. You are daft enough to log on and actually look at the rubbish I proudly write about The Boy.

So far, in 6 weeks I have managed to keep somewhat of a lid on things. There are only 7 photos of The Boy on Facebook uploaded to my account. There are considerably more uploaded by friends and family but I am only responsible for 7. I suspect however UnBabyMe may get a few new customers thanks to our new arrival.
Actually I have never minded baby photos – I get irritated by the self congratulatory “I just ran soooooooo far soooooo quickly and here is the GPS via Nike and Umbro and Sepcialized bikes and my $400 trainers to prove it”. Your kids and cute and interesting, YOUR RUNS ARE NOT. There is a reason joggers run alone IT’S BORING AND NOBODY WANTS TO GO WITH YOU! When  you win a medal fine, let the world know.
I tried it myself the other day. According to the Nike App it was 10m to my fridge, I went there and back in 3 minutes (I think I stopped to say “hello” to the budgies on the way) and on the return journey I was carrying over 500g of extra weight (a beer). I am not sure this exercise run-mapping thing suits me. I think I’ll stick to cuddling The Boy on the sofa for now, waxing lyrical about how awesome my child is to all who read my drivel.

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The Dad to push the wheels for the car pod for The Boy goes shopping.

The Boy made his first foray into the supermarket the other day. I thought it a little unkind to introduce him to one of my least favourite places on earth at such an early age; but we had no food and we were hungry. I was quite happy to subcontract dinner but The Wife wouldn’t play ball. Funny how wives do that isn’t it?

So The Wife set off with The Boy, the car pod for The Boy, the wheels for the car pod for The Boy and the Dad to push the wheels for the car pod for The Boy. The Dad to push the wheels for the car pod for The Boy sulked, a lot. I really did.

I was a bit naughty, I parked in the space marked “expectant and new mothers” and I am neither. I had the wife and she is definitely the latter (and hopefully not the former!).

shopping

As is the rule when I get conned into doing the food shop we do not set foot in the supermarket without a list. Last time I went without a list I spent an astronomical amount of money, bought essential items like Tabasco sauce and a copy of National Geographic (I LOVE National GeographicNew Zealand Geographic is also AWESOME, and considerably weirder). WhenI got home proudly displaying the results of my foraging we didn’t have a whole meal we could cook, just lots of cool stuff (like Tabasco and National Geographic) and, for once, the wife subcontracted dinner.

This time as we neared the door I noticed a definite lack of dog-eared envelope emerging from the Wife’s bag. Just as I was about to query this highly irregular state of affairs out came our list …. on an iPad. Not only was it on the iPad but it was on an app that told you which aisle things would be in! My heart leapt with nerdy pride – The wife is a hopeless Geek after all, albeit a bit embarrassing walking around a supermarket in rural New Zealand with an iPad.

Despite our digital list I still managed to sneak a copy of New Zealand Geographic past “46XX Security” (she was looking at cheese). It was about bugs. Really big hairy bugs. I read it with The Boy, he slept and drooled a bit, I think he likes NZ  Geographic too.

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A new cultural repository of parental masterpieces

I have decided, as one of my planned (many) great legacies for mankind that I will start a repository of the amazing and diverse songs sung to their children by parents. I don’t mean the dross like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star or other dull lullabies. Puff the Magic Dragon can … Puff off back to the cave he hides in at the end of his song. I mean the parental masterpieces that emerge out of that weird mixture of excitement, fatigue, love, sleep depravation, and sheer frustration. Those songs that are sung at 3am to a wriggly person with a full nappy; partly to amuse the wriggler but mainly to amuse yourself. The silly songs that you never expect people to hear, not for public performance. These songs and rhymes come from nowhere and go back to nowhere, but blogosphere, I tell you no longer! They will now live forever, preserved in my repository of this cultural phenomenon! The NDPSPP (Nerd Dad Parental Song Preservation Project) pronounced…..  um….  Nud-Pus Puh-Puh (I suppose).

Our pre-parenthood selves had previously noticed these daft songs, friends of ours have a piece called “Yum yum yum in your tum tum tum” which it is traditional to sing shortly after eating. On our first hearing this, which in retrospect is a true masterpiece, The Wife and I initially exchanged partly startled and partly pitying glances. Now we are composers in our own right, artists on our first forray into the wide and varied world of nonsense baby songs.

I have decided to follow in the footsteps of greats like Vaughan Williams who collected old English folk songs and Dvorak who incorporated Bohemian folk music into many of his pieces. I will soon take my rightful place amongst these cultural titans as the saviour of nonsense baby songs.

There are many unanswered questions I suppose. So why am I so selflessly toiling to preserve these rare cultural gems of music and poetry? What is driving my altruistic fervor? How can one man be such a visionary, still find time to change nappies and remain so amazingly, incredibly modest?

The inspiration for this grand cultural endeavour comes from K.L Huyghebaert’s masterpiece “Squidgy Squidgy Fish Feet” that I fortuitously encountered whilst perusing her blog, highly recommended. This piece is somewhat less abusive than my own compositions and is a classic of the genre.

SQUIDGY SQUIDGY FISH FEET

Squidgy squidgy fish feet,

On my Jonah a-sweet-treat!

 

In the company of such an accomplished practitioner of the art of nonsense baby songs may I also humbly present the first few songs of ours to be preserved?-

STINKY BUTT

Stinky butt, stinky butt

You got a stinky, stinky butt.

Stinky butt, stinky butt

You are really stinky Butt

 

SNOOOOOZLES

Snooooozles, time for snoooooozles.

Snooooozles, time for snoooooozles.

 

MILKY CHOPS

Milky Chops, Milky Chops

You have milky milky Chops

Milky Chops, Milky Chops

Milkymilkymilkymilkymilky chops.

 

LITTLE MONKEY

Go to sleep Little Monkey

Though you smell a little funky

Off now to the Land of Nod

GO TO SLEEP YOU LITTLE SOD

 

Public performance rights are available on all these on application for a moderate-to-hefty fee.

For this important cultural endeavour I have secured several thoudsand terabytes of space in top secret servers in a nuclear blast proof bunker to ensure these cultural tours-de-forces are available for future generations.

I eagerly await your contributions to the NDPSPP.

 

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