Tying up

The Blenheim gallery opened at 1pm, so I paid it a visit. It had only two rooms, which is the same as the Raglan gallery. It wasn’t as much fun as the Raglan gallery.

Blenheim had a strange feel to it. While it wasn’t quite living in the past, it had a feeling like that somehow it had reached its peak in the 1950s, and anything done to the city beyond that didn’t quite fit in with the general vibe of the city.

Like, the most exciting thing was when I realised that the Blenheim Post Office was architecturally similar to the Auckland Central Police Station. It was a few stories shorter, but just as utilitarian and oppressive.

But I’m quite glad I visited Blenheim, cos it made Nelson seem really cool in comparison.

So today I’m just filling in time around downtown Nelson until my flight back to Auckland. I’m going to be a little sad to say goodbye to Nelson (which is being sunny Nelson today), but I must return to Auckland because that is the one place where I don’t feel like an Aucklander.

Places named after dead white men

Yesterday morning I went to the Nelson markets. There was heaps on sale, and not one person selling knock-off Louis Vuitton handbags. I found a stall run by the couple who started the Anathoth jam company. They sold it a few years ago, but wanted back in the jam business, so I now have a pot of strawberry jam and ginger marmalade.

Then I went back to the museum for the newly opened mirrors exhibition. It was of the “Hey, kids! Science is fun!” variety, but functioned more like a carnival hall of mirrors than anything educational. My favourite was the obesity epidemic mirror that let viewers see what they’d look like as a really fat-arse person.

I visited the Nelson silversmith who made the Lord of the Rings ring. The lady behind the counter brought out the rotoype and a giant version of it. I looked at it and felt dirty.

I visited the Wearable Art and Collectable Car museum. It cost $18 to get in, and I left feeling a little underwhelmed. Maybe it’s the limitation of displaying frocks and cars – the cars aren’t moving, the wearable art isn’t being worn.

I should also note that I had the worst service from the cafe there. They forgot to make my coffee, and when it finally arrived, it tasted like coffee-tinted milk.

Next I got in my automobile and drove to Upper Motere and visited the Katie Gold and Owen Bartlett pottery. The Nelson area is full of potters (something in the dirt?), but most of them seem to make stuff of the cheerful crockery variety. But there was no cheerful crockery at Upper Moutere, so I bought a couple of pieces.

The trouble with buying pottery is no matter how small it is, it gets wrapped up with tons of bubble wrap and shredded paper, so I have no idea how I’m going to fit all my stuff in my suitcase. Woe!

Today I’m in Blenheim, which is dead cos it’s a Sunday. The main street is empty. It seems the only thing to do is visit a winery and get all Sideways.

Beads on a string

This morning I got in my rental and drove to the little town of Wakefield. It was either named after Cap’n Wakefield of the New Zealand Company or Wakefield, Yorkshire. I secretly hope it’s the latter, because the Cribs are from Wakefield and they are an awesome band. There wasn’t much to do in Wakefield, but I found an antique shop and bought a 1960s Fijian postcard someone had sent to her loved ones back in Nelson.

I hit the road again (I never just drive) and ended up at the Hoglund art glass studio. There was a bead-making class, so I signed up for it and got to melt roads of glass into various shapes and came out with seven beads, the likes of which are usually made into jewellery sold at weekend craft markets and bought by middle-aged ladies.

Now I’m in Motueka. I’m trying to find somewhere to eat, but it seems hard when there are places such as the “CHINESE SUSHI” joint and a cafe where all the cabinet food looked deep-fried. I mean, I wouldn’t consider myself a particularly fussy eater, but the eateries of Motueka aren’t giving me any love.

One thing I’ve noticed about internet cafes is how people want to haggle over rates. “You say the minimum charge is $1 for 10 minutes. If I spent only nine minutes, is it free?” It’s only a dollar, you cheap-arse tourist.

Now I must eat or I shall surely faint.

Nelson = nil sun

Today sunny Nelson is not being sunny.

After lunch yesterday I went to the Suter gallery (which I want to spell Sutre). It’s Nelson’s main art gallery and it was rather good. The main exhibition was on abstract expressionism and the cold war, specifically how the cold war influenced artists and how the CIA used this art to show people in communist countries of the freedoms of the West. It’s just as well communism was all about classlessness, cos if you should some abstract expressionism to a bunch of middle-class folk in the ’50, they’d start mumbling about their four-year-old doing better.

Then I went to the centre of New Zealand. There are signs all over the place pointing to the centre of New Zealand. I followed them and began walking up a hill. This seemed normal because, well, the centre of New Zealand could be anywhere. But the path and signed seemed to be taking me right up to the top of the hill, which seemed a bit too much of coincidence. Finally I reached the top (and was glad for the times I’ve done the 100-step walk up the big stairs at work) and I saw, right atop the hill, a plaque marking it as the centre of New Zealand. No wait, it was the “centre of New Zealand”. Those cockers used scare quotes! It wasn’t really the centre of New Zealand. It was a trig station magically transformed into a tourist attraction with a monument the Jaycees erected in the 1960s. What a rip off. It’s not so much the centre of New Zealand as the centre of Nelson’s civic ego.

I realised something about Nelson as I was walking along the main street this morning: no graffiti. It’s unusual to experience a place that’s totally bald of graffiti. No stickers either. And none of that grey anti-graffiti paint.

Nelson I: Sunny Nelson

According to the lady at the counter of the internet cafe (that actually serves actual coffee), Starbucks don’t use coffee. They use “that flavour” and they “don’t give you a choice”. Well, I guess I won’t be going there for my morning cup o’ corporate oppression.

Nelson is, so far, not sunny. I arrived yesterday evening, just as the sun was setting. I found my way from the airport to the city and did a little evening orientation walk, detouring by the State cinema to see the Simpsons move (quite funny, yes).

The main drag seems very nice and tidy and has no-skateboarding symbols painted all over the footpath. No, we don’t want any of that carry-on around these parts, thank you. It’s very much a typical large New Zealand town, but it’s also got this neat-and-tidy thing, which I’m guessing results from being a tourism hub. Something like that.

This morning I was a bit “Boo. This place sucks. I wanna go home and hang out on K Road.” But now I am, like, so over that.

I went for a walk up to the Nelson Cathedral. I like that it’s an iconic building that’s kind of evolved over several decades (no doubt as a result of interruptions from wars) and sort of all fits together. Sometimes I get a sort of claustrophobia when I’m inside large enclosed spaces, but I didn’t get it with Nelson Cathedral.

Then I went to the Nelson area museum, which was very much a typical regional museum. Press a button and hear a recording of an old timer talking about something that happened when they were a young un! Marvel at a greenstone tiki found locally! Rejoice in memories of the Queen’s 1954 visit! Get freaked out at the creepy 3-D head of Wallace Rowling that seems to follow you as you walk around the room (OK, so that last one wasn’t so typical, and will no doubt haunt my dreams.)

But the biggest question is – is sunny Nelson actually sunny? Well, it wasn’t this morning, but it is now. Kapai, Nelson.

Fries with this

From today’s Herald:

Nelson’s brothels bylaw to set limits

A new bylaw being drafted by the Nelson City Council will stop brothels setting up in residential areas.

Nelson Mayor Paul Matheson said he and police had met the owner of an inner-city establishment to discuss the prostitution reform laws and how they would work in Nelson.

“I think what we all fear is someone starting up a chain of brothels, like McDonald’s or Burger King.”

Quick! Someone must make a “fries with that” joke! Hurry!