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Sunday, 28 August 2016

A Traveller's Thoughts from Evan Andrew

I am just getting back to a more normal lifestyle after my return from the UK, Europe, and Russia!

Wow, what surprise that turned out to be.

I was completely blown away, not only by the beauty of Saint Petersburg, (which I had seen hundreds of photos of,over the years ) but had failed to appreciate the magnificence until I saw it with my own eyes.

I was incredibly lucky to have had superb weather,in which to travel around and view everything, as well as a most informative Russian guide, an art & history lecturer at the university there.

I could relate many stories of his historical expertise, though his history seemed to end with the reign of Alexander II, and began again with Lenin, in 1920.

I should like to have explored  more of the country, and hopefully in the future I may. I certainly was surprised when I went out to Tsarskoe Selo, which was once the main district where the Emperor of Russia and all the Grand Dukes had their summer palaces, and the nobility their dachas by the sea.

Today, it is called Pushkin's village, and a statue in honour of the pet poet of Saint Petersburg graces the public gardens, and the guides are full of his exploits before his untimely death.

It caused me to think about all the Russian writers I knew of and read in my youth. Nikolai Gogol, Ivan Turgenev, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Anton Chekov, Alexander Herzen, and of course Alexander Pushkin.

Tolstoy was always my favourite. War and Peace, Anna Karenina; books I continue to re-read to this day.

I don't remember seeing any of the female Russian writers having their work translated into English. Elena Aprelva, Anna Barina, Anna Dostoyevskaya, Karolina Pavlova, Sophia Tolstoya, Zinaida Volkonskoya, are just some of that band of sisters.

I am sure their work is available, and it would be interesting to read, and see it they have that same slightly mystical, and often depressing theme, between laughter and tears, that is so typical of a lot of their male counterparts.

I am contemplating a book set in Imperial Russia, and hopefully one that will catch the unusual ambience of a country and its people that's not really European, any more than it is Asian.

Ah well, now all I have to do is try and find the time to write!

Spring, my favourite time of the year is just around the corner, and like all the new growth and birth at this time of the year, I feel a story coming on.


Watch this space!!!


Evan G Andrew


Friday, 12 August 2016

Jean Allen is 'Lifted by Words'

Sound/speech/silence – what we hear; what we say; what we think … the sounds of the earth, the sea and sky. Language lifts man or destroys him. In periods or stages of my writing years my soul goes through playing with words, with ideas.

Last week we took ourselves to Parakai where the mineral waters are harnessed for spas. I have been taking ‘time out’ at Parakai since my mother introduced me to those healing water in my teenage years. As a young man my father had laboured on the laying of the Council mineral pool foundations. I returned once, in my early twenties to stay at the old hotel, where we ran the water for our own baths. Over the years Parakai and the hugeness of the Kaipara harbour, where Dad plied his launch and barge carting business, the high clear skies and the huge harbour waters have called me. These river/harbour places between Dargaville and Helensville are my waterway roots, my birth, my whakapapa.

Nowadays I live across country, on the east coast. It takes me forty minutes of easy driving through farmlands and small settlements to reach Helensville … another four or five to Parakai … and about another twenty-five minutes to Shelly Beach, my other favourite place.



glass city


country grass




spring grows


punga groves


peace paddocks





This is Jean  ‘Angel’ Allen tired of the rain but loving the lambs in this New Zealand spring weather.

Pam Laird Finds How Things Can Happen When You Write

Recently an editorial in a well-known English publication dedicated a whole page to the magnificent war effort put forward by the Commonwealth countries towards Britain. 

Mention was made of the gratitude and appreciation of the British people. All about Canada, Australia and South Africa, but not one mention of New Zealand.

Having loaded myself with all the relevant war-time Google facts on New Zealand’s highly commendable contribution, I fired off an indignant, (and I hope, respectful) letter in response.

In due course this was acknowledged by the editor’s secretary per email, and a suggestion made that my letter could be published in the next issue. It was, but only half of it. The half mentioning the percentage of NZ serving men sent overseas, Sir Keith Park’s contribution in the Battle of Britain and various other facts and figures, were not.

However, here is the really interesting and ‘fun’ part. As a result of the publication of my ‘fact limited’ letter being published, I received an indignant email from an English resident. He said he felt ashamed of the omission of any mention of NZ in the original editorial. In his email he recognised not only our contribution to the war in terms of personnel, food parcels etc, but also mentioned his admiration of the NZ serving men and women at that time.

As it happens, he and his wife were already booked to spend a holiday in New Zealand this coming summer and I have arranged to meet at this time. New friends coming up?
We continue with regular emails that, in view of Brexit, are both interesting and entertaining, containing as they do, some fascinating comments of one man’s attitude towards the huge hurdles the UK now faces. Our son in the UK has taken the opposing view so their comments are enlightening, amusing and horribly confusing.

The moral of my story is…never be afraid to voice your opinion on published matter that veers widely from your own view of known reality and the facts. You never know what might come from such a discussion. After all, writing is a tool.


Pam Laird