Adventures in New Zealand - Week #9

Dear Pottery People!  

Thank you for joining us as our adventures continue full tilt.

I have been procrastinating this post for too long, but as I have now finished checking all my Happy Birthday wishes on Facebook, it is time to crack into weeks nine through eleven.

Week eight left you all with the cliff hanger of wether we made it to Wellington or not?

In week NINE we are here to let you know that:

WE DID !!!  I had previously visited Wellington twice but this time the weather was (for the most part) great and my opinion of the city has done a full 180 turn for the awesome!  Due to its unique physical restrictions Wellington is situated in a valley which is smushed up against the coast so it is not able to do the suburban sprawl thing.  Where as Auckland is known for being BIG, Wellington is known for its bad weather, galleries, cafes, and music.  I can't imagine that Wellington has anything Auckland doesn't, it is just trimmed up and easier to navigate on foot.



And the most wonderful things in life (to some) can be found in a beverage known as bubble tea.  Maya learned something very important about herself while we were in Wellington, she loves bubble tea.  And this store in particular.


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Bubble tea is a cute little drink with a GIANT Whooping straw.  It is made of whatever tea fruit tea you would like, milky or not, and then they put in these tapioca balls .  The GIANT straw is needed to suck these tapioca balls up like that fat German kid in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory when he falls in the lake of chocolate.  Speaking of chocolate, my cousin Warwick and his wife brought me a chocolate cake and wrapped up a Kiwi fruit Whittiker's chocolate bar for my birthday yesterday (April 6th) and it was some awesome chocolate on chocolate action!!!

But this Bubble Tea is Maya's new drink of choice, we frequented that cute little shop everyday we were in Wellington.  Mine is still a square of dark chocolate with a red wine chaser, old school.

Like Maya was fascinated with the Bubble Tea shop, I was equally intrigued by this coffee shop:


Yup, that is a big robot flying thing painted on the pillar and I have forgotten the name of it already but I can still taste that "long Black" and scone (espresso double shot and a muffin with the bottom sliced off).  This place had the set up of a science laboratory and these two little ninja mad scientists that would run around and bring you your coffee.  These two guys seriously must have made 15 gallons of specialty brewed coffee in 40 minutes.

We caught up for a nice lunch at this SWEET Korean restaurant with the only known survivors of Ross Michell-Anyon's sixtieth birthday bash.  But you can clearly see that they are just the human shells of their former selves and that deep down inside of each one in an incubating alien warrior waiting for the signal.  It is a shame but we did have a very nice meal.


Wellington is full of nifty things that you can visit and see when the weather is nice, like all this stuff:



We went to the City Art Gallery and were blown away by a photography exhibition by Viviane Sassen.


And then the strangest thing happened.

Maya came up to me and was poking at her phone and wanted to know if I saw a guy that looked like "this" guy who happens to be a bit famous on YouTube.  Further research revealed that said gentleman was indeed in Wellington all the way from Toronto while he was on a round the world tour.  Furthermore he was holding a Free Concert / Potluck Picnic in a nearby park at six that evening.  So we went back to our hostel, charged up the phone, had some nibbles, changed into something a bit warmer and went out to meet Andrew Huang.

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And I swear we walked into a B.P. station for some chocolate, MEAT PIES, and a bottle of water, and when we walked out the clouds closed in and the rain was swooping in sideways because the wind was blowing at 35 nots!  This change of weather didn't even occur while we were trying to pick out what kind of MEAT PIEs we wanted, it all happened after we walked out and before we got ten paces from the store.  UNBELIEVABLE!!!  So then we continued to look for Andrew in a park that I've never even been in.

Luckily we did find him and some other fans tucked under a lean-to.  The local Wellingtonians don't give a shit if it's raining, they are out there like sheep on a hill, unfazed and excited with rainbow doughnuts, fish & chips, and mostly candy.

Andrew played a great little set and this was my kind of music.  Half his songs were about food, one was about toast and gravy, another was titled "Show Me Where Your Nom-s At" which has an uncountable number of food puns, AND AND AND a song about "Pink Fluffy Unicorns Dancing on Rainbows." [Link Please]

Here is a photo of all of us after we escaped the elements to refuge in a mall/movie theater.  Andrew is the guy in a white sweatshirt just about to get bitten by the lady in pink.


She didn't break the skin and tested negative for rabies, so we celebrated by going out for some drinks and Andrew Huang is awesome and so is his partner!  So please look him up on YouTube, memorize that handsome face, enjoy the tunes and tidbits, and if you see him far far from Toronto he doesn't have rabies or snore so he is the perfect couch crasher!  I really have to give it to anyone that is on their way all the way around the world, that is bad ass!  Good luck Andrew!

Much of Wellington looks like this (minus the handsome guy in the door way):


Check back with us to see if we make it to Napier.  This little rental Nissan is kicking ass and is going to cark-it at any moment now.  I don't even think it drinks gas any longer, it just goes!

Love you all!

Chris & Maya

Adventures in New Zealand - Week # 8

Dear Everyone who likes to keep tabs on two of their favorite humans, It is as if there is never a dull week in New Zealand.  Truly there isn't.

We last left you on the farm with Gail and Gavin Drake, in between Hamilton and Cambridge.  I am sure you all saw the mural but I think I may have only mentioned there also being a rather large (not big but INCREDIBLY HEAVY) top loading / electric kiln.  This beast weighed as much as a small car, any-how the challenge presented and accepted was to turn this broken electric kiln into an oil kiln, in about a day.

I received a nice sun-burnt stripe across my lower back by being bent over working on this all day and into the evening and it looked like I got a cane-ing.  So I cut a bunch of holes into it and Gail had this beautiful frame welded up, and WHALLA !!!  It took a day and a morning but here I am showing it off like Vanna White.



And of course I had to make him into a rail way themed piece, "Dirty Clay Cooker."  Hopefully no one will push him out on the train tracks though.


Having finished the kiln it was time to wash up and proceed to Gail's 60th birthday bash!  Gail has the nicest friends, no wonder she smiles so much!




So we all survived the party (except for that lamb that was spit roasted), and the food was amazing!!!  Especially that lamb that got spit roasted!  And we had a great time there in the town hall because there was a Cyclone (a.k.a. tropical storm "Lusi"), except for that delicious lamb that got spit roasted.

So in this picture there is a guy that looks like me in Gavin's hat (thank you for the hat) and a guy that looks like me without a beard and a dwarf.


That is my real life brother (and me in Gavin's hat) and that isn't a dwarf.  It is my nephew!

My brother Steve and my new sister Heidi and dwarf Ryan, and the newest member of the Ingraham clan … ZARA!  Whom I met for the first time in Hamilton New Zealand.



I got to meet my new niece, and Ryan had a blast in this fountain, and we ate at this great little Chinese style bake shop/cake shop/cafe.  And then they were off like lighting to continue on their eight day tour of the North Island.  And the next day we took the bus to Napier and ate sushi on the way.



And here is some bus scenery !!!




Napier is a quaint city that in 1931 suffered a terrible earthquake which destroyed most of the city and there was also a big fire that swept across the city and burnt the bits, and there wasn't much left after all that.  BUT reconstruction officials made quick work to get everything up and going again and did a great job rebuilding all the major halls, banks, city buildings, exc. … in the popular style which just happened to be Art Deco.  Art Deco was a relatively short architectural fashion which embraced the new fresh industrial atmosphere of the time, making it very unique.  It is not rare to find a city building done in this style in North America, or some places in Europe but they will be appropriately scattered amongst the rest of the architecture.  Napier however has an Art Deco concentration that is unlike any other city in the world which gives it a surreal quality to it.  It also has a beautiful little black pebble beach that isn't good for swimming much but the water was cold anyway.





And here I am sneezing (black pebbles)!  Eww…


We will be returning to Napier in a week to drop off the car that we rented and we are also trying to catch up with an artist that makes giant structures out of steel.

AND we will make sure to take more pictures of the great architecture I was raving about and failed to photograph.

We rented a car because that was going to be the only way we would be able to meet up with this beautiful bunch in Waitomo to visit the caves and see the glow-worms.



We had a great time visiting my brother and family.  We stayed in a giant BOAT, we ate pizza! we saw glow-maggots! and so much of the caves look like cauliflower!  Ryan has a blossoming vocab and Zara is just about to turn over (which is a big baby deal).  Ryan has a fascination with the Moon, and cows.  There was much discussion and searching for the illusive Moon and cows.

"Cows go Moon!" I am not sure who to attribute this quote to (probably myself or Maya).

And then we went on the great hunt for Mr. Paul Maseyk so we drove to New Plymouth.  Paul was no where to be found so we drove on to Wanganui.

Wanganui is where my first New Zealand adventure began and this is the first place I lived; the U.C.O.L. International Student Flats.  And the second place I lived; the schools Hot Shop!





We ended up staying in Wanganui for three nights because of some great timing.  The weekend we were there was the weekend the Wanganui Arts Society held an Artists Open Studio event lasting two days !!!  So not only did we have a map to the houses or studios of all the people I wanted to catch up with, I knew they would be there and I didn't even have to call any one to ruin the surprise that we were showing up!!!  I met up with all of my old teachers, all the glass blowing buddies, I even visited a super rad potter who's house I use to live directly in front of and another artist was exhibiting in my old house so we even got the tour of that place as well.

The super rad potter who happens to be the Kiwi Legend and Bad Ass: Ross Michel-Anyon  was also having his 60th Birthday Bash that weekend so we attended that as well!

AND that is where we found PAUL MASEYK (Bad Ass, Kiwi Legend in the making)!!!

Luckily we made it out of the party before 3am when everyone there and Ross's whole house (kilns and all) were abducted and whisked off into outer space and were replaced by robot look-a-likes.  Even the dog.

Here are some photos of either the party or one of the artist studios … I don't remember too well.





Maya has decided to do some topiary work on her beard and has a nice kitten motif going on.


I think she should grow it back out though, it was looking really really good.

See you all next week for more adventures.  You will find out if we actually made it to Wellington?  Did we actually escape Wanganui?  Did Maya actually steal that kitten?  Did Ross actually turn 60?  Was Paul an alien all along?

All your questions and more will probably not be answered next week or the week after that, but check back with us anyway just for the pure enjoyment of it.  Take Care!!!  We miss you all !!!


Maya & Chris

Adventures In New Zealand - Week # 7

Dear Everyone!!! This past week was pretty interesting.  A real testament to the power of what can happen to one who says "Yup, we can sort that out."

So we last left you as we were hitch hiking to the Cambridge/Hamilton area.  Thank you very much to all of those who gave us a ride:  There was the nice couple who is good mates of Stuart "The Sax" Fife, the nice lady with the barking dog, the nice elderly gent coming back from a funeral, the nice man from Christchurch who worked for the meat house, the nice Maori lady who pulled over before we could stick out our thumbs, and the nice young business man in the flash red Holden.  We left Coromandel at eleven and with having a pretty long lunch in Te Aroha, we made it to Cambridge at about half past five.

Back to why we have come to Cambridge.  We met this nice lady from the Waikato Society of Potters as Paul and I were firing the little oil test kiln.  I had this little rocket climbing at about 300C per hour.  Gail (the nice lady from Waikato) and I are chatting, Barry comes and growls at me to take it easy or the thing is going to carbon up, Gail asks me if I would be interested in converting an old top loading electric kiln into an oil burning one, I recon that is totally possible, the test kiln starts going to shit, flame is coming up the side and Paul and I are back under the kiln cursing lots and getting covered in oil.  Not my proudest moment.  But somewhere in there I mentioned that I also did murals!


So here we are, by the power of the thumb, with a mural job in Hamilton.  Gail a nice landlady of a string of shops called St. Andrews in Hamilton, and she wants to make it a bit nicer round back of the shopping center so here we are.  And here is the wall.



We told Gail we would be able to paint her 3.5m tall by 11.5m long wall in a work week and she was all for it.  She was such a good sport, she wanted it to be a surprise so she didn't want to see any progress or any preliminary sketches.  With some prep work it ended up taking six (HOT) days, but here we are at another friday and the wall is done.

Here is a little photo miss match montage of the progress.

Beginning at theThe Blank Canvas:








Watch me curve the wall with my butt!


Also this week we moved the kiln and a bunch of other heavy things.  We ate some fantastic fish that Gavin and Gail caught in the Coromandel.  We ate lots of yummy other things.  We ate at Grace Cafe which Gail set us up with a tab for while we were working.


That is one stunning decaf cappuccino for Maya.  I will personally vouch for just about their whole menu, it is all stunning and the nice people who run the place are real nice and amazing and they didn't even get too upset when we accidentally used all of their hot water while we pressure washed the wall.

Gail and Janett (another lovely potter) were doing a lot of rake firings one evening and we ate MORE awesome food done up by Gavin (Gail's partner).

Last night we attended the opening of a beautiful ceramic exhibition in Morrinsville where I caught up with good old Mike (a fantastic jolly potter in Paeroa) and met some more interesting potters and peoples.  After the opening we also went out to this Thai restaurant where I had a super freaking awesome spicy duck dish and Maya ate Tiger (prawns).



It has been an exciting week of kilns, cows, potters, fire, wine, fish, more fish, MORE FISH, more cafe lunches, more long blacks, and I have these nice tan legs and this great wide brim hat Gail gave me!

And now Hamilton has a new mural:





It has been a great time here in Hamilton.  Maya's beard is really coming along nicely.


Everyone has been so friendly.  We were invited to tea, given fruit, avocados, sunscreen, smiles, and positivity all the days long.

Gail is very happy with her new mural.  That mischievous look on her face is, I am learning, something to beware of because she did shake that bottle of bubbles till we were all sticky.  I also found a bar of Loving Earth Organic Maqui Raw Dark Chocolate 72%, and this stuff is off the chain.  I don't even know what Maqui is.


Even though Hamilton (or "THE TRON") is where all the cool kids hang out and come up with things like "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," we have to go.  Where we are not so sure where to but we have a day to think about it while I build a kiln and contemplate the 2 storms brewing: 1 a couple of cyclones closing in on us, and 2 Gail's 60th birthday bash, sheep have already died please pray for the rest of us.


See you alls next week I hope so cause my brother and family is here in New Zealand (I hope) and we have catching up to do.