Southerly by David Haywood

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Southerly: My Life As a Palm Tree

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  • JacksonP, in reply to Hilary Stace,

    I recommend the little NZ movie Kiwi Flyer.

    You've just reminded me of Kiwi Ranch, near Hell's Gate outside Rotorua.

    They had some of the most hair-raising activities a parent of three children, now of a similar age, can imagine. The Magic carpet was literally a Persian rug towed behind an old fire truck??, around rolling hills with squealing pre-teens falling off left and right, at speeds that seemed to be well beyond the recommended velocity for small humans hitting hard dirt.

    And the luge that ended with you flying off the end of a metal track, holding onto a metal trolley, into 4-6 feet of lake water. In case you thought I was dreaming, said luge is at 6.27 in this video. Didn't seem all that risky at the time, but with that and the flying fox, it was pretty loose when it came to health and safety.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2011 • 2450 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    Just on the comments on protective gear making things more extreme. I read a good article a while back (can't find it now) focused on the north face of the Eiger. Back in the 40s it was death trap that took three days to climb. It is now a two and a bit hour climb (at best). While a lot of that is equipment, there is (as the article pointed out) also a component of knowing what is possible- in as much as the Eiger has also been free climbed, which cannot have been done with better equipment.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Sacha,

    Very interesting question.
    If I may be as bold as to offer an explanation of why it is interesting then I shall.

    The "Fibrolite" would heat up, considerably, and expel any moisture contained in the sheet, there is often a lot in "Fibrolite" as it has a rather high rate of absorption, a fact many leaky building owners are aware of.
    But I digress. The "Fibrolite" may exhibit bubbles on the surface as the heat expands water into steam, after that the board will crack, the cement return to its pre set form of anhydrous calcium hydroxide and pummelled rock and any other crap someone wants to get rid of, like nuclear waste or some such undesirable by-product of an otherwise profitable enterprise. The cracking can be quite loud but not as entertaining as the Asbestos sheets we played with as kids.
    Asbestos got a bad rap in the eighties because some doctor said it might kill you in 20 years but they didn't know how big a problem it was because we would have to wait 20 years to find out and by that time we had all stopped using asbestos because in 20 years......
    Anyroad, some bright spark at somewhere like Tasman Paper and Pulp or Carter Holt thought...
    ....insert light bulb here... "Why not use all that waste pulp to replace asbestos, what could possibly go wrong>"

    So, what happens when you put "Fibrolite" on a bonfire? Not a lot really, its about as useless as putting it on a House.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    Maybe it was asbestos, then. Shrapnel 20 ft in the air. Fortunately no injuries.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    The whole 'lack of open spaces to explore in' thing bothers me quite a bit. My own parents were quite ingenious when we were growing up in suburban London. There was a large abandoned graveyard a couple of streets away that served admirably as a playground. My sister and I learned to ride our bikes there with only a minimum of stitches and broken bones from the old Victorian mausoleums. There were also a lot of blackberries in the autumn - well fertilised, as my mum used to say.

    Most of the older graves were being broken up to serve as a hard base for the new docklands developments. My dad 'borrowed' a few barrowloads to pave our patio. He was quite ingenious in working the old marble crosses into the overall pattern.

    I also recall once as a child expressing a desire to have a custard pie fight for my birthday treat. This was duly organised by my mother, with the graveyard chosen as a suitable venue. The fight raged all afternoon amongst the graves with no quarter asked for or given.

    This....kind of explains a lot, now I think about it....

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Moz,

    The exploratory habits didn't really go away for quite a while.

    My exploratory habits took a minor hit one day in Changsha in 1999 when I realised I'd accidentally walked into an army barracks. There were no signs or sentries at the gate, and the camouflage gear on the washing line didn't ring any alarm bells because all the labourers I'd seen being lowered into sewers or climbing power poles wore the same stuff. I only realised where I was when some guy behind my loudly and insistently shouted, "Hey! Hey!" and I turned around and saw a dude in camo carrying a submachinegun. Didn't bother finding out if it was loaded.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    Asbestos got a bad rap in the eighties because some doctor said it might kill you in 20 years

    Nobody told anybody here. Asbestos rooftiles are very common in China. Once helped my father in law put a new roof on the sheep pen, then immediately changed my clothes and dumped them in the washing machine and scrubbed thoroughly. My father in law happily went about the rest of his day in clothes covered in asbestos dust.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Brent Jackson, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    We used to do that on sand dunes. The angle of a sand dune is fairly constant at between 30 and 35 degrees. So, you run as fast as you can and leap over the edge in the most spectacular fashion. The faster you ran the further out you would go and the further you would drop, hundreds of feet it seemed at the time, then tuck into a roll as you hit then roll down to the flat

    We used to do that off the bank into the gulley at Westmere Primary school. It is an amazingly exhilarating thing to do. Almost like flying. It built up over a number of days until there were only two of us left who were willing to run full tilt at the top of this bank and launch ourselves up and out to land about 12' down rolling the remaining 3 or 4 foot to the bottom. Luckily for us we never got further than that.

    Turns out Michael Tolley wanted to be stuntman when he grew up as well.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 620 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Growing up in Sydenham, I spent lots of time playing with trains...
    Riding rolling stock in the shunting yards or catching a ride to the gas works or Addington.
    Plus lots of climbing to great heights on the rash of high rises being built about the town then, scaling the AA building in Latimer Square on the scaffolding, fossicking about deserted buildings and of course freewheeling down Dyers Pass Road from the equally fun Victoria Park, with dodgy brakes... a lot of the time on my own with no one knowing where I was - all character building stuff I'm sure....

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Rich Lock,

    There was a large abandoned graveyard a couple of streets away that served admirably as a playground.

    Would that have been Nunhead Cemetery by any chance, the one with the inverted torches at the gate that made id speshly spooky?.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    Ain't it sad to know that we were the last generation to have actual non-structured OSH approved fun.
    Won't some body think of the children?.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    Won’t some body think of the children?.

    This guy is.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    OSH, HR: a plague on their houses! How long will this managerialism last? We in Christchurch are especially cursed as planeloads of New Zealand’s finest box-tickers have invaded post-earthquakes “to help with the rebuild” and “think outside the Square” (which isn’t hard because the Square ain’t square any more). I have an affection for those lawless days of two years ago when a local guy rigged up piping from his well to the front gate, put up an old school table and we all queued to get clean drinking water (or any water). Dunnies were dug, food was shared. Good God , I’m sounding like a WW2 survivor, time to go.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Hebe,

    Yeah. I am totally sick, totally I tell you, of seeing people in hard hats and Hi-Viz because somebody got the pollyfila out. Mental it makes me go already.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    Polly Fila, don’t she have an MBA? Must be an expert.

    While I'm spleening: designer high-vis vests and hard hats. Pink if you please. Fug off.
    And the Deputy Mayor who stormed around town in a 4WD ute on the ratepayer with "Operation Suburb" and her name in large letters all over it. What was Operation Suburb? Sounds like something brainstormed in the council comms unit while implementing the new paradigm of a stakeholder engagement program (morning tea before writing a press release). Back to work before I get negative rather than being able to find it amusing....

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    I know it's currently fashionable to complain about kids being coated in cotton wool these days, but I'd much rather play on the cool bright plasticy playgrounds that are around a lot today than the jagged rusty broken-arm machines of my own childhood. Burma bridges are as much fun when there's rubber matting under them, than hard clay, plus there are fewer trips to hospital. And lest we forget, I can pretty much pinpoint when I was no longer allowed to play in the wilderness on my own - Karla Cardno was killed in 1989. I don't know if we have the balance right today (certainly stranger danger is overstated, compared with mundane car accidents and so on) but unsupervisedness has its costs as well as benefits, and they're not always trivial. We still have a high rate of childhood injury by international comparison.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to B Jones,

    We still have a high rate of childhood injury by international comparison.

    With London, New York, Tokyo? Where my friends' kids were unable to go out without an adult until they were 10 or 12 and as a result spent most of their lives doing inside things. I'm not arguing with playgound safety: it's that playgrounds in themselves are sanitised, controlled environments where children are confined by adults' (lack of) imagination.

    My twins had not many toys, but we lived a block from the beach and though they didn't go down there unsupervised, I could be 50 metres away keeping an overall eye out while they found things to do without an adult's interference. At home they spent hours and hours in the muddy pond: we dug the top 40cm of dirt away to reveal pure sand in a 3m X 8m area of the garden, dipped down so they were out of the worst of the wind when small, gave them a few things like an old colander and small spades, a hose and let them go. That lasted from 2 until 10 years as the most-used play space. They got filthy, they made up stories, they invited their friends in; they made their own world with their own rules, and it's one of the fondly remembered parts of childhood for both.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to B Jones,

    Oh perleeze.
    take a friggin concrete pill and harden up. How the hell are we supposed to feed all these extra people who are going to be around because they didn’t smoke, didn’t drink, didn’t fall off a high building, didn’t drive drunk, didn’t take drugs, didn’t cut their heads off with a chainsaw because they didn’t see themselves?.
    Give Darwin a chance for baby Cheeses sake.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to B Jones,

    In Christchurch a few years back the council holiday programmes had to cut out most of the free play in the schedule because many of the kids couldn't cope with having unstructured time. They did not know what to do with themselves. That is very, very sad and worrying for our society.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to B Jones,

    rubber matting under them, than hard clay

    pfft hanging upside down by my legs from monkey bars over concrete and falling on my head never did me no harm harm harm harm

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    David, Ian and other Chch folk: Talking of young 'uns, I am doing another round of my talk "In Love With Shirley Temple; Cultural Memory, Hollywood ... and Christchurch" for the CPIT research Forum tomorrow (Thursday), around 1.15pm in L233 (second floor main building on Madras). All are invited, apparently.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2562 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to B Jones,

    if we have the balance right

    And that is of course the point. This is actually a balance between preventing all possible harm and allowing children to learn by (sometimes painful) mistakes. There is evidence now suggesting children protected from harm have a poorer body awareness, that is they don't instinctively know exactly where their various bits are in space and hence are more vulnerable to accidents later in life (when the consequences are usually harsher).

    That kind of analysis is very difficult to do right and may all prove to be bollocks but it will be interesting to see in 20 years if a protected generation has more accidents as adults.

    I'd be much happier if the H&S discussions were about finding the right balance, than about eliminating all risk.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    How the hell are we supposed to feed all these extra people who are going to be around because they didn’t smoke, didn’t drink, didn’t fall off a high building, didn’t drive drunk, didn’t take drugs, didn’t cut their heads off with a chainsaw because they didn’t see themselves?.

    They will die early from obesity and sedentary life-style complications?
    Bull-rush and sand-dune leaping will be compulsory in the future, as the 'dangers' of not being active make the headlines.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2110 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones, in reply to Hebe,

    I guess it's my constitutional contraryism to argue against prevailing wisdom going on here. To me, the cry of "we wrap our kids in cotton wool" is up there with zeitgeist cliches like "political correctness gone mad" and "boys are hurt by the feminised teaching environment". Maybe they have a kernel of truth and certainly it's a issue of balance, but they're more often repeated than questioned, and I like poking truisms to see if they're really true. I'd say that a fair proportion of people wanting more rough and tumble for boys would blanch at letting girls roam around at will - I hated the fact my male cousin was allowed to explore on his own when I had to be chaperoned by my wet blanket little sister.

    Free play is something that ERO looks for and encourages when it reviews early childhood centres. I think that's great, and I've just considered and rejected a childcare centre that was told off for being too rigid. Lack of free play isn't just a question of supervision, it's also something schools and parents (more so overseas) do to cram in as much formal teaching as possible into children - music lessons and extra tuition and so forth is part of the middle-class scramble.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to B Jones,

    Lack of free play isn’t just a question of supervision, it’s also something schools and parents (more so overseas) do to cram in as much formal teaching as possible into children – music lessons and extra tuition and so forth is part of the middle-class scramble.

    Yup. In this house we call it competitive parenting. I won’t do it.

    As for girls v boys and freedom: no difference at all for me and my brother and my best (male) friend.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

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