The Giantís House
On our recent trip one of our ports of call was Akaroa, a charming village which is normally home to 700 people but usually flooded with visitors and holiday makers. We had decided not to do the road trip to Christchurch but to make our way to The Giantís House, which had been recommended to us by a friend. What a delight this proved to be Ė it was one of the highlights of our holiday!
The house was built in 1880 by the first BNZ bank manager in Akaroa and was given its name because of its size and its situation high up on a hill. It now belongs to Josie Martin, a very talented artist and gardener, who has lived there for 20 years.
Josie has training in Horticulture and Art and she visualised transforming the house and garden with her skills. When she started digging for the garden, she found shards of lovely old china. She started off by making a mosaic at the front step and from there it just grew and grew.
Today it is listed as a Garden of National Significance in New Zealand and quite rightly so. Josie has made not only a beautiful flower garden but also a garden of fantastical delights with her mosaic installations. She first makes the sculptures with reinforcing steel and concrete and then decorates them with mosaics. As the brochure says, they are: ďsurreal, whimsical and flamboyant, organic and eccentricĒ. She has given full rein to her wonderful imagination with many colourful human figures, including one of the mime Marcel Marceau. There is also a grand piano with the lid open to reveal a garden of small cactus inside!
There are interesting mosaic patterns on the surface of all the walks which wind between the sculptures and the flower beds. Josie is an artist of note and has travelled extensively overseas, most recently to Japan. There is a small gallery displaying some of her newest paintings which are beautiful and bright and have been inspired by the Japanese writing. She is also a superior ceramicist and her newest creations show the Japanese influence.
If ever you are in the vicinity of Akaroa, make sure that you donít miss this delightful treasure. Its playful, creative and vibrant view of the world will lift your spirits and stay with you forever.
Letter from America Ė Americaís Great Storm
Hello, from your American Kiwi,
We hope this finds our ‘family” there doing well; we do enjoy the St. Aidan’s newsletter sent by Ralph, and also occasional emails or letters from our friends “on the shore.”
Well, friends, we assume that the news about the election here yesterday has been well publicized in New Zealand. This has been a year-long episode, and we are all quite glad it is over; except for the result.
The fact is, we are in shock; to say we are disappointed does not adequately describe how we feel. We are beyond disbelief that such a turn of events could happen in our country.
You all may remember that Jean and I are not of the kind of thinking that has resulted in this presidential result.
We are admirers and supporters of Hillary Clinton, and we looked forward to having her as our first woman president. (How about her youngest grandchild named Aidan, not exactly a common first name?)
This ‘maniac’ who had a resounding victory has no more business being our leader than some tyrant out of the past.
His temperament, personal character, business practices, and policies are totally wrong for any governmental leader, and we cannot understand how so many Americans bought his line.
It is the belief of many of us that he drew upon the underlying racism and sexism in the hearts and minds of many Americans; a shameful aspect of American society. If he manages to fulfill some of his ideas (and promises) there will be turmoil in our nation and elsewhere.
So, we ask for your prayers for this great country that has been so blessed in its 240 year history.
I must admit that right now, being in New Zealand sounds like a wonderful escape from what I surmise will be some terrible actions in America under the new leadership. But, alas, I am sure this is fanciful thinking on my part.
Just felt a need to share these rather unpleasant thoughts with our friends “down under.”
Our love and best to you all.
John and Jean