Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: Where You From?

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  • dyan campbell,

    I was in Ottawa for six days and we spent exactly six minutes outdoors.

    Giovanni, you do know that I’m from Vancouver, which is more than 4,600 km from Ottawa?

    I’ve been to Ottawa once and skated on the Ridout Canal, (dodging commuters dressed in business suits and carrying briefcases skating to work) and went snowshoeing and tobogganing on the hills around Parliament. And that was a completely urban visit.

    I am now utterly terrified to visit Canada, the land which apparently makes New Zealand seem ‘not very outdoorsy’.

    Watch the 2 year old doing the Grouse Grind and you’ll feel better. Canadians are big on safety and providing for all levels of ability. There’s even a good number of wheelchair accessible hikes.

    People may be outdoorsy in Vancouver, but the thing is you don’t have to be good at what you’re doing to enjoy it.

    Here is a clip of a young friend of mine James & his buddies skiing the Pillows at Whistler – on the meta-cafe site their level of skill is rated at “bong water” and there are some truly epic face plants (the fellow at the beginning bears the marks of one on his face) but it’s as if they filmed pure joy and set it to Arcade Fire’s music. They are proof you don’t have to be any good to enjoy it, and in typically Canadian fashion it ends (quite happily) on a note of defeat.

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    At the risk of being a cycle bore, my affection for and affinity with the Auckland isthmus has only grown since I started riding.

    The presence of multiple boutique-sized volcanic cones is such a bonus. It takes a degree of fitness to get up some of them, but none are impossible -- and the views!

    The ability to stand on these high points and see both the western and eastern coastlines, the two harbours, is truly remarkable. On the ground, it sprawls into dull suburbs that I'll never visit -- as I have noted, I spend more time in Wellington than Howick -- but Auckland from the volcanoes looks beautiful.

    When I had to say where I was from in the course of a mihi I did at a wedding recently, I said I was from a headland on the Waitemata* -- Te Rae, Point Chevalier -- because that's the geography I identify with. I do love having local geography.


    *I also said I am "from a family of brewers and bakers who took a thousand years to make their way across Europe". Which not only sounds great but is basically true.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Lived in Wellington for a year & a half, and loathed it. Mainly because I was working out at Avalon as a director-producer trainee, and working in a building I disliked, and travelling on trains I disliked, and going back quite late most evenings to a flat which had ginourmously high ceilings that seemed to condense all the traffic noise from The Terrace right into my bedroom-livingroom…

    Never really got to know the place- and while I’ve had the odd very good time there since, I’m not prepared to have another go at living there.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to dyan campbell,

    You knew Bryan Adams went to Argyle AND Sutherland

    And of course, you can Guess Who he went to school with.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5430 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to dyan campbell,

    Giovanni, you do know that I’m from Vancouver, which is more than 4,600 km from Ottawa?

    Fine. Is anybody allowed to say anything about any other part of Canada?

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Jo Eggers, in reply to Islander,

    Islander, you have reminded me that one of the things I love about the South Coast of Wellington is that it reminds me of a wonderful couple of weeks I spent in a beach settlement outside of Fox Glacier - the wild waves slamming down onto the beach and the winds coming off a inhospitable sea.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Jo Eggers,

    Heretaniwha/Bruce Bay perchance?

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Jo Eggers, in reply to Islander,

    Hunts Beach - so many, many moons ago but such a glorious memory of a wild place that echoed the wildness and angst of my, then, teenage heart.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 8 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    from a headland on the Waitemata

    named after your beloved, too - how sweet

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19719 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Watch the 2 year old doing the Grouse Grind and you’ll feel better. Canadians are big on safety and providing for all levels of ability.

    I feel like I may have said this before, but: I was teasing you, Dyan.

    (See, it's funny to me because you said you missed how outdoorsy Vancouver was, and New Zealand also has this reputation for being REALLY outdoorsy, and so I was imagining a scary place which is EVEN MORE OUTDOORSY, filled with manic trampers wearing Birkenstocks on every limb, who fling you heartily off the door of the plane as soon as you land and force you to start a campfire with your bare hands before you can even get through customs.)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Sacha,

    named after your beloved, too - how sweet

    Yeah. Nice, that.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22834 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Ahh- marvellous place! NZ's only source of aotea, I'm told, and home to a remarkable pair of brothers, the Shaws - grew carrots about 2 feet long*, and would happily show you the opals they'd collected at Coober Pedder...

    *With the help of many many possum carcases- they trapped possums for a living.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Danielle,

    I've heard scary stories about Calgary's Stampede though they involved not hiking and bearwhispering but forced drinking straight off the plane and unruly saloons full of stetsons.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19719 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    forced drinking straight off the plane and unruly saloons full of stetsons.

    Dude, that _is_ my experience of Vancouver Airport. I had an enthusiastic Canadian forcing me to drink clam juice before I landed.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to George Darroch,

    an enthusiastic Canadian forcing me to drink clam juice

    Really hoping that's a euphemism.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1930 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to linger,

    enthusiastic Canadian is a suspicious conjunction, eh

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19719 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    None of yous, absolutely none of yous, beats Whangamomona as a place to be from.

    Though to be honest, my parents left there when I was three, and moved around for a few years and settled finally in New Plymouth when I was eight. They're still living in the house they bought back in 1974, so for a long, long, time, "home" was always their place in New Plymouth. And when the occasion demands it, I can speak with a riul gud Turunuki acceun.

    Having recently tripped back across the Tasman, this time I hope for good, I have found that home is New Zealand. I was bitterly homesick during our three years in Adelaide, and eventually told my partner that we simply had to find some way to come home. Perhaps part of the problem was that at 42, I was too entrenched in networks of family and friends to be able to remake home somewhere else. We have both been so much happier since coming home to ... (drum roll please)... Palmerston North.

    New Lynn • Since Nov 2006 • 1447 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Really hoping that's a euphemism.

    No, absolute truth.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Islander,

    Mainly because I was working out at Avalon as a director-producer trainee, and working in a building I disliked, and travelling on trains I disliked, and going back quite late most evenings to a flat which had ginourmously high ceilings that seemed to condense all the traffic noise from The Terrace right into my bedroom-livingroom…

    See, there's your problem; you weren't working in Wellington, you were working in the Hutt. Otherwise known as "the only two cities in New Zealand no-one will ever admit to being from".

    No, absolute truth.

    They sell clam juice in the supermarkets here. I...don't get it.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    I'm from the bronx, the ghetto, the hood, the woods, the womb, the tomb, the corner, spawn of jack horner, vikings, enemies, romans, roamers, countrywomen, the cupboard, squalid, adventurers, boozers, teetotallers, totalled, the tellie, the murdoch's, the mutha hubbard, the crack in yo alley, lillee's, and flowers, the bush, yo tush, the stars, afar, the jones's, avondale, the house, deloused, korea, diarrhea, te atatu, the dawn, str-8 pawn, the west side, best side, waitak, my mum, from tum, walters, the web, tangled sheets, a bed, until I'm dead.

    Since Nov 2006 • 903 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa, in reply to Emma Hart,

    I get that "I could be at home here" feeling in Wellington - it's the same instinctive yes or no you get house-hunting.

    Oh yes, me too: it's got amazing emotional feng shui (apart from the small matter of fault-lines). The way the hills hug you, and the harbour shining below... it's an amphitheatre of awesome. You can pick a ringside seat, or sit up in the gods, and just enjoy the show.

    Also, despite not being on an island or laid out on a grid, for me it's the NZ city that has the most NYC-esque vibe. Not just because it's got a Brooklyn (holla!) -- but because there's something about the way the physical geography of the place constrains, funnels and thus concentrates all the human energy, to a degree not encountered elsewhere in Aotearoa.

    And you can walk everywhere, 'cos nowhere's very far.

    Warning: may cause homesickness:

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa, in reply to Danielle,

    I am now utterly terrified to visit Canada, the land which apparently makes New Zealand seem 'not very outdoorsy'.

    In support of both this and Dyan's contention, I am reminded of a winter visit to Ontario during which I thought I might die of being frozen to death on the walk between the car and the B&B (a distance of about ten feet). For a very long week it was my job to find ways to entertain a three year old without either of us losing any digits to frostbite.

    Flipping through a Canadian parenting magazine, I found a letter from a mum who was worried about her children's health: try as she might, she couldn't get them to play outside in sub-zero weather for more than an hour at a time.

    I wish I had transcribed the reply, for moments such as this. But the gist of it was that, as long as the liquid in their eyeballs wasn't actually frozen solid, it was not just normal but desirable to spend 2-3 hours a day snow-shoeing, playing backyard ice hockey, and generally being a yeti. And if your children tried to go inside after a meagre hour, you should drag them back out there to harden up. Because, the assumption was, you should be out there with them anyway.

    (I knew then I could never be a Canadian.)

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    rescinder cones...

    The presence of multiple boutique-sized volcanic cones is such a bonus.

    be careful what you wish for...

    ...after half a century plus, I was growing fond of Christchurch
    warts and all, but now its faults are losing their charm ....

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7944 posts Report Reply

  • dc_red, in reply to Isabel Hitchings,

    researching the ear/air merger at the time and it was fascinating to be able to watch a significant shift in the language unfolding.

    To the general amusement of Canadians, I can't pronounce "pawn" and "p0rn" differently, try as I might. I have, however, managed to distinguish "beer" and "bear" (something that is actually required more often than you might think).

    Oil Patch, Alberta • Since Nov 2006 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • dc_red, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    Fine. Is anybody allowed to say anything about any other part of Canada?

    Outside of Vancouver/Victoria life is indeed rather different, and extremely "interior-ized"(?) for the majority of the year. When it is above -15C (yes) in winter I will often jog home from work, and encounter somewhere between 0 and 2 other pedestrians on the 5.5km journey.

    In the 2.5 months of summer the sidewalks and trails are packed, of course, but most of the time the infernal ice has the outdoors to itself. "Outdoors" is that unpleasant thing that separates Canadian drivers from their strip malls.

    Oil Patch, Alberta • Since Nov 2006 • 706 posts Report Reply

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