The practice of sending Christmas cards is rapidly diminishing as people use email and social media to keep in touch. Gone is the need to send Christmas cards in October, to reach Europe in time for Christmas, when the internet offers instant contact.
I suspect many of these Christmas cards from the 1880s would have been sent "home" to the United Kingdom and Ireland, delivery in time for the festive season being dependent on ships arriving and departing on schedule.
The cards would have been an opportunity for showing off their new home in New Zealand, hence the emphasis on scenic views. Picturesque scenes of snow-covered villages are noticeably absent.
This Christmas card of the Grahamstown Goldfields, also by Archibald Duddington Willis, suggests a certain pride in the 'dark, satanic mills' of the Thames goldmining industry. In our theoretically clean and green world it would be unthinkable to include such a view on any sort of card today.
News of the Perry/Chapel Street carpark being used for late-night teenage binge drinking points to the need for a rethink as to how the Masterton CDB is managed at night.
I hate driving along Chapel Street late at night. The footpaths are thick with heavily intoxicated teenagers, who frequently stray onto the road and have a very casual attitude to traffic.
The Police have power to act: Masterton District Council's liquor control by-law bans drinking throughout the CBD and adjoining parks.
Mounted police I'd like to see one or two mounted police used to patrol the CBD at night. A police officer on a horse has a much more intimate view of what is going on, a horse is highly manoeuvrable, and its size makes it very good for crowd control.
Officers on horses can ride through the parks and other areas where troublemakers gather.
Masterton is ideally placed to use horses for patrols with its proximity to the rural hinterland. I'm sure police who are also experienced riders would jump at the chance to combine their hobby with their work.
The Council could look at hiring Walkwise "safety ambassadors" who also patrol the CBD at night, acting as eyes and ears for the Police.
Play Barry Manilow music from speakers in the popular congregating areas.
Add additional CCTV cameras
Where possible, involve parents and help them see they are accountable for the actions of their teenagers.
Attempt to find out who is buying the alcohol for these teenagers, and where.
With local churches, investigate providing a safe, van-based, mobile drop-in centre and transport home, such as is provided in Wellington.
There need to be some unpalatable consequences for these drunken young people. For example, if you are caught drinking in a public place like the CBD, you are hauled out of bed at 6 am by the Police the following weekend and made to clean up the CBD, including vomit.
The Police and Masterton Council can't solve this on their own: they need community support. Do you have ideas or suggestions which might help?
Quite by chance I found this compilation video of the Austrian early music group Quadriga Consort in which soprano Elizabeth Kaplan sings a hauntingly beautiful version of Loch Lomond.
The full group are: Elisabeth Kaplan (voice); Angelika Huemer (recorders, viola da gamba); Karin Silldorf (recorder); Dominika Teufel (viola da gamba); Peter Trefflinger (baroque cello); Laurenz Schiffermüller (percussion); Nikolaus Newerkla (harpsichord, arrangements and direction).
Yes, they play recorders and gambas and there is a harpsichord. However their repertoire is mostly folk music which is timeless. Elisabeth Kaplan is super: she has a flexible voice, a folksy voice which includes a pop singer-style elegant scoop up to a note where suitable.
Some arrangements have a ‘jazzy quality’ to them, using syncopation. You can hear this in ‘The Maid who sold her Barley’. ‘Pulling the Sea-Dulse’ has some distinctly modern, nice harmonies and changes of key so, although the sound-world says ‘early music’, the repertoire is mainly anonymous and traditional from the British Isles. That said, ‘The Saucy Sailor’, in this arrangement anyway, has a sense of the Hispanic about it!
Quadriga are nothing if not a sophisticated ceilidh band. What is especially pleasing about being able to see Quadriga perform, is that, with the obvious exception of their director and harpsichordist Nikolaus Newerkla, they each sing/play from memory. His allows for freedom and a greater sense of fun.
Lieutenant Kenneth Edwin Wootton was a tank operator in the trenches of the Western Front during World War I. He operated the lead tank in his section and was on the front lines of many battles, taking out machine gun emplacements.
He also happened to be an exceptional artist with pen and ink and watercolors who kept a journal of what he experienced and saw in battle between 1915 and 1917
He also records a Christmas Truce in 1916, which is notable because after the first and most famous Christmas Truce of 1914, the commands on both sides did everything they could to discourage such spontaneous eruptions of humanity, including resorting to threats of hard punishment for any soldier engaging in fraternization with the enemy.
Christmas Day 1916, Ypres: Distance between the line was 100 yards. Had an excellent Christmas dinner in a dug out, turkey, Christmas pudding, mine pies, fruit and champagne. Both sides stopped. Did patrol from midnight till 3am and felt very merry.
So there were no twinkling lights, no hanging out, sharing food, cutting each others’ hair like there had been in 1914, but at least they stopped shooting at each other long enough to enjoy a decent Christmas meal.
Reading between the lines it seems that government thinking is that there is no need for two Wellington-based orchestras and, if funding for Vector Wellington was withdrawn - spelling the end of this orchestra, its current funding could be spread between the Christchurch Symphony and Auckland Philharmonia.
There's no getting round it; touring with an orchestra the size of the NZSO is expensive. Sponsorship is thin on the ground in the current economic climate.
Nailing the NZSO to the ground in Wellington might be very appealing to Treasury number-crunchers, and leave the concert platform clear for the Christchurch and Auckland orchestras. But the NZSO is a world-class orchestra, a national treasure. Audiences outside Wellington deserve the opportunity to hear it.
The NZSO's Christmas concert series, with Aivale Cole, and the choirs of Wellington Cathedral, Holy Trinity Cathedral, Auckland, and NZYC Alumni Choir and Jubilate Singers, is on in Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch, 9 - 14 December. Details here
As a country we're uncomfortable with success. We see it when sports teams do brilliantly, then, at the last moment, let the other team win.
After living in rural New Zealand for 24 years it's not hard to work out where this thinking comes from.
People who have lived in rural New Zealand all their life seem uncomfortable with anyone being successful within their community. Someone who, say, makes it onto the national board of an organisation striving for the benefit of rural people, gets the put-down treatment. "Yes, well, she might be on the board of organisation x, but have you seen the state of her garden?
Farming innovators might well be born in the district, but have typically worked and studied elsewhere - and traveled - before returning to farm.
As a semi-professional musician I am often asked to comment on others' musical efforts. "Didn't they sing beautifully," I'm told, this being a statement, not a question. Implicit in this is, "We liked it and don't you dare say otherwise." I wouldn't dare, but the benchmark is often set worryingly low.
If you have to choose between an outstanding musician, or other artist, and a representative of a local family who first arrived in the district in the 19th century, the latter will be selected because "She's Betty's daughter."
Innovation and change in rural New Zealand seems to come from the imports - people who have moved from the city - and, with coals heaped on their heads from all quarters, except the other imports - have driven much-needed change.
Architect Max Edridge was largely responsible for putting Greytown on the map as a Wellington shoppers' paradise. When he first proposed creating a town square on a vacant section right in the heart of the Main Street, he was almost run out of town, such was the fury of the locals.
When local boy Michael Nalder returned to Greytown and set up the Main Street Deli, on the ground floor of the building at 88 Main Street that Max had restored, Greytown suddenly had a heart, a focal point, and somewhere for locals to meet. And so the start of Greytown as a mecca for Wellingtonians began.
Meanwhile Max persevered quietly and steadily, supported only by the imports, quietly relocating buildings and building the restaurant that subsequently became Salute, one of the Wairarapa's great success stories. Along with the pioneers of the Martinborough wine industry, they turned economic deprivation in the South Wairarapa into a wonderful tourism success story.
Those who can trace their New Zealand origins back to the migrations from the United Kingdom of the 19th century may not realise just how brave those migrants were.
They were leaving behind family and friends, in all likelihood never to see them again, in the hope of a better life in New Zealand.
Brown's painting captures the apprehension of the couple perfectly (their baby is wrapped in the mother's shawl). The painting shows them on deck in rough weather, with the white chalk cliffs of England's southern coast in the background.
Finding a folder of school essays today was a poignant, not altogether happy experience.
I was delighted at the insight I had shown many years ago when commenting on then current events, my observations of a quiet evening by the lagoon at Turakina, my thoughts on Keats' Ode to Autumn.
Correct grammar and spelling was the way to get high marks. Original thinking and insight was ignored.
In my haste to get all the thoughts in my head onto paper, spelling suffered. My handwriting wasn't too great, either. What I now see as insightful comment by a 16-year old was not considered praiseworthy. It just needed some subbing, instead of "6/10. Could do better. Spoilt by careless mistakes."
Yet there were undeniable benefits from this focus on grammar and spelling. It has stood me in good stead as I've untangled other people's tortured and tortuous words. And helped my own writing, although my long-dead English teacher would be horrified to see me start a sentence with 'and.'
Has the fear of making a grammatical error has stopped other Baby Boomers putting their thoughts on paper, or led to them writing stilted, awkward prose?
Time will tell whether modern English education, which focuses on getting thoughts on paper - any old way - is a better option, although academics teaching English report having to teach extremely basic stuff to first-year students majoring in English.
If you do find writing a struggle, and especially if you're having to write for the web, Rachel McAlpine's online course is excellent - www.contented.com
Lansdowne Presbyterian Church are holding a Garden Ramble on Saturday, 27 November, from 1 pm.
It includes eight urban gardens within Masterton and is a fundraiser for the church's centenary in 2012.
A feature of the Garden Ramble is an opportunity to view the Christmas decorations in Lansdowne Presbyterian Church, in Te Ore Ore Road, which has been decked out in wall-hangings, Christmas trees, candles, and a nativity tableau as a centrepiece.
The garden tour is modestly priced at $10. Older and less nimble folk can enjoy the display in the church - and a home-cooked afternoon tea - for a gold coin donation.
Lansdowne Church Garden Ramble Lansdowne Presbyterian Church Te Ore Ore Road Masterton (map)
Saturday, 27 November, 1pm to 5 pm Garden Tour $10 (includes eight gardens and afternoon tea at the church) View church and afternoon tea only - gold coin donation
While we sat last evening, with tears in our eyes, watching the end of hope for miners' families caught up in the Pike River tragedy, for those with family members in the mining industry, it was particularly poignant.
My elderly neighbour's son is a miner, in Rununga. When news of the first explosion at Pike River broke, she was beside herself, unsure which mine her son was working in. When her son phoned her mid-evening, her relief was great, but tempered with the knowledge that mining is an inherently dangerous occupation and that her son could easily have been among those working at Pike River.
Coal fuels much of the world's electricity production. It's a salutary reminder to those of us who sit behind computers all day, moaning about our lot, that people such as miners risk their lives, often working in difficult, dirty and hostile environments, so we can enjoy comparative comfort.
On Saturday, October 30, 2010, the Opera Company of Philadelphia brought together over 650 choristers from 28 participating organizations to perform one of the Knight Foundation's "Random Acts of Culture" at Macy's in Center City Philadelphia.
Accompanied by the Wanamaker Organ - the world's largest pipe organ - the OCP Chorus and throngs of singers from the community infiltrated the store as shoppers, and burst into a pop-up rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's "Messiah" at 12 noon, to the delight of surprised shoppers.
This event is one of 1,000 Random Acts of Culture to be funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation over the next three years. The initiative transports the classical arts out of the concert halls and opera houses and into American communities to enrich everyday lives. This event was planned to coincide with the first day of National Opera Week.
Every Saturday, 8.30 am to 12.30 pm Eftpos available.
Martinborough Monster Charity Auction
This monster charity auction is raising money for South Wairarapa Volunteer Fire Brigades.
60+ lots, nearly all no reserve, of excellent goods donated by local and Wellington businesses. Items range from air flights, wine, olive oil, accommodation around the country, art, clothing, meals, cosmetics, laptops, helicopter flights - and more.
Tickets ($10) available from the Martinborough i-Site, limited to 150 attendees - so be quick!
Saturday, 23 October, 6 pm - 10 pm Martinborough Fire Station, 9 Texas Street
Born in Czechoslovakia in 1925, Mirek Smíšek (OBE) has forged a career as a remarkable New Zealand artist since arriving here in 1951.
Smisek has built three studio potteries on the Kapiti Coast over the past 41 years, and Mahara Gallery, as Kapiti’s District Gallery, has produced the first full survey exhibition to honour his life-times’ work. Cultural commentator Hamish Keith has described the project as ‘a genuine revelation of Smisek’s achievement’.
Curator Gary Freemantle has selected 60 pots spanning 60 years of Smíšek’s work from private and public collections around New Zealand. They represent Smíšek’s main forms of vases, bowls, crocks, jugs and Yunomi (Japanese tea-bowls) and the variations in glaze, shape and decoration as his work matured.
The $60 ticket price for the Pukaha Mount Bruce Garden Tour is too steep for many in the Wairarapa, where gardening is a passion, but incomes are often very low.
The tour is clearly pitched at the Wellington market, where $120 for a couple would not be seen as extravagant, but unaffordable for local people on small or fixed incomes.
Many Wairarapa people, especially the retired, have devoted hours to volunteer work at the Centre, but garden tour ticket prices will be beyond them. A ticket price of $25 is the upper limit for local support.
I used to be a member, but was outraged at the huge increase in subscription prices and now very rarely visit the centre. With their eyes firmly fixed on lucrative coach parties of tourists and Wellington visitors, I don't think Mount Bruce care.