South Island of New Zealand – Autumn 2014


New Zealand is such a beautiful country and the people there are warm and welcoming. Of course Australians and New Zealanders have many things in common with their historical British links and being part of the British Commonwealth but the scenery of the two islands of New Zealand – particularly the South Island – is breathtaking.   It doesn’t matter what time of year you visit New Zealand you will find it’s scenic beauty equal to, if not superior, to almost anywhere on earth. Best of all you can drive around New Zealand’s South Island scenic grandeur easily within 2 to 3 weeks – all the time feeling safe and ‘at home’.

This trip was our fourth to New Zealand and our third to the South Island. However, we were on a bit of a mission this time – keeping a promise to an elderly lady of 93 that we had made some years ago to return and see her again. The lady is Mrs Barbara Peryman, the Great Grandmother of our Granddaughter who is living here in Australia. We had promised to return to pick up an antique silver tea set made in 1806 (the year before the death of Admiral Lord Nelson at the battle of Trafalgar) and deliver it back to our Granddaughter in Australia to be kept in the family as an heirloom for future generations.

I mention Mrs Peryman here because I want to tell you about this remarkable lady – the widow of a survivor of Stalag Luft III and the ‘Long March’ from Poland to Germany during the second World War. You will recall that Stalag Luft III was the prisoner of war camp that the famous movie the ‘Great Escape’ starring Steve McQueen (and many other stars) was based on. Basil Peryman, Barbara’s husband, was a New Zealand airforce pilot who was captured and imprisoned in Stalag Luft III by the Germans and survived the war to eventually return to New Zealand. Not everyone in the prison camp was selected to be part of the escape party and many of those that were selected did not actually get out that night but Basil was there and Basil suffered the harrowing ‘Long March’ out of Poland during one of the worst winters that Europe had experienced in more than 40 years – a tale of great courage and endurance.

Meeting with Barbara Peryman was just as memorable for us as the rest of the scenic trip (and in many ways more memorable), I couldn’t post our photographs of New Zealand without mentioning this dignified and wonderful lady.   The scenery of New Zealand leaves an indelible impression on you that you will take with you forever and, for us, similarly the stories Basil and the living dignity of Mrs Peryman will stay with us forever also. We also met up with Mrs Peryman’s son Gerald in Invercargill and was enthralled with the story of his father Basil and his extraordinary connection with the famous ‘Great Escape’ prisoner of war camp and the Long March. I feel privileged to have met Mrs Peryman and doubt I will ever meet another person in my lifetime that will be of the calibre of this truly beautiful lady. Despite her age she is articulate and can hold a very intelligent and engaging conversation.

Yes, the tea set is now in the hands of our Granddaughter and the story will go on.

 

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UK Cruise 2013


We might think that photos of the usual tourist locations such as those found in London are ‘overdone’ – we have seen them so many times before. Why bother taking more photos of  ‘Big Ben’ in London for example – well, all I can say is, just try to stand in front of this iconic structure with a camera and see if you can resist the urge to take just one shot of it. I have been back to London many times and I can’t resist it.

London is steeped in history that has, in some way, affected almost all corners of the globe and the sights of London remind us of a time when opulence in architectural design flourished without remorse.

This last trip to ‘old blighty’ was not just to see London however, we were doing a cruise of the UK and London (after a few days earlier in Dubai) was just the initial stage of our journey.

So most of the shots in this section of my blog below are of London and the other pics will show some of the other ports and surrounds that we visited on our UK cruise which ended in Amsterdam.

For those that are interested – these Photos were taken with my new full frame camera – the Canon 5D MKIII.

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Note the ‘learner’ (L Plate) in the fast lane?

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China


China – the sleeping giant- as it was once known, is no longer sleeping. We all know that!

Our first taste of China was Hong Kong a few years earlier but our first visit to ‘Mainland’ China was in Shanghai and from there we traveled to Beijing (the great wall of course) and then on to X’ian to see the Terracotta Warriors and the ancient tombs in the surrounding areas.

Shanghai, the ‘Old’ section on one side of the Huangpu river and the ‘New’ and spectacular futuristic architecture on the other. In Shanghai we stayed on the ‘Old’ side , at the Peace Hotel on the Bund (the strip that follows the Huangpu river where lots of locals and tourist congregate during the day and beautifully lit at night). Classed as one of Shanghai’s ‘Grand Old’ hotels, the Peace Hotel features some of the historical aspects from the colonial past from the 1920′s and 1930′s. It may not be the best hotel that we have ever stayed in but it has character. You definitely feel the vibe of the pre-communist period.

The ‘Great Wall’ speaks for itself with so much known about it but what probably surprised us most was the incline of some sections of the wall. It was near vertical in parts and required a deal of effort to traverse – more energy on a hot day than I could muster to be honest but plenty of others showed that is was worth the effort, going quite a long way and reaching some very lofty parts of the wall.

Xi’an was one of those gems that you see rarely in a lifetime. To think that the tomb contents were only a relatively recent discovery was even more amazing. The work that has gone into their restoration has to be seen to be appreciated. Each soldier having his own distinct look and face was astounding – no cheap template mass production work done back then. There are many more tombs to open but the Chinese are being sensible and only opening those that they think that they can care for adequately – each tomb has a huge amount of relics held within.

We enjoyed seeing China but be warned – every person on our trip was given counterfeit money as ‘change’ when they purchased goods from street vendors. Some paid large amounts for goods due to the large denomination notes that were being exchanged. So carry an amount of small denominations to reduce the need for change. I was the only person in our group that did not encounter fake money because I did not purchase anything from street vendors unless I paid the exact price (no change). The locals know you are not used to dealing with their currency and even after looking closely at the good and the bad money I could still not pick it – they are excellent forgers. Be careful. Note: you will not be able to pass the bad stuff off either – they are not going to take it off you somewhere else – you won’t fool them.

Hope you like these….

Scandinavia


Scandinavia is a collection of Northern European countries that has a cultural-linguistic link that goes back centuries. It is characterized by a common ethno-cultural heritage and related languages. We visited these countries as part of a cruise through the Baltic sea and a tour of Norway’s many islands.

Traveling on the Flam railway was a great part of the trip. A slow 20.2-kilometer long rail line between Myrdal and Flam in Aurland, Norway which is relatively short but very scenic. The valleys, waterfalls and small towns visited along the track are picturesque. For those that want a longer and more spectacular train ride, you would probably prefer a train trip like the Banff to Vancouver train trip on the Rocky Mountaineer (glass roofed) but for a quaint slow train trip to remember the Flam train is worth taking.

The sense of being in a culture that has it’s roots in the Viking age is everywhere. The Scandinavian experience, the sights, sounds, and smells (fish markets predominantly) was second to none and we will long remember the unusual sites we saw – for example, grass growing on the roofs of some houses for insulation purposes, the ancient towns such as Bergen in Norway and the Fjords and islands that dominate the region.

Go – do the Baltic Cruise followed by a tour of Norway – you will never regret it!

Europe – Pt2


It is impossible to adequately cover what you see in Europe via a photoblog like this. Fortunately, photoblogs are more about pictures than words and that I can handle better.

I hope you enjoy our European photos…

Russia – St Petersburg


St Petersburg Russia is a port city on the Baltic. We visited St Petersburg as port of call on a Baltic cruise and stayed 2 days – we could have stayed much longer.

The city itself is what I might have expected of a Russian city – on a wet gloomy day it seemed to fit in just fine. However, if the staid Russian communist era styling was interesting to see, the fabulous Czars palaces and other religious sites were just incredible. From the splendor of the Hermitage to the opulence of the Palace of Peterhof the senses were constantly bombarded and overloaded with jaw dropping experiences. The art collection of the Hermitage alone is simply staggering.

The Russian people suffered incredible horror during World War II and St Pertersburg (formerly known as Petrograd from 1914-1924 and 1924-1941 known as Leningrad) also suffered greatly during the 900 day siege by the Germans. The historic buildings and works of art were very seriously damaged by the Germans. In some cases, priceless items were able to be removed to be saved from destruction.

The post-war restoration work conducted on the inside and outside of the damaged buildings is a testament to the skill and determination of the Russian people to recover from one of the worst chapters of the second world war.

You cannot leave St Petersburg without being moved and awestruck – truly, it is an experience of a lifetime!

UAE – Dubai


Because travel from Australia to anywhere overseas is a bit of a hike (long way from anyone except New Zealand and parts of Papua New Guinea), we find ourselves stopping on our way to our intended distant destinations. Often our stopovers end up being a second holiday in places like Singapore, Tokyo, Shanghai, Auckland, Hong Kong, Tahiti, Hawaii and recently Dubai.

Dubai gives the impression that you must have left earth and traveled to some other planet. It is home to the tallest building in the world (want to be mind boggled? – stand at its base), the largest shopping mall in the world and the largest dancing (musical) fountain in the world – bigger than Las Vegas. Plus many other astonishing feats of construction – do you remember the man-made world of islands?

If you go to Dubai at the wrong time of the year it is bloomin hot and if you go when it is cooler it is still bloomin hot but a little more bearable – guess when we went? Luckily, everything is air-conditioned, including the bus shelters – how cool is that? (sorry – air conditioned – cool)

Anyway, if you can visit Dubai do it! I want to see Abu Dhabi next time as everyone tells me that they are in stiff competition with Dubai and if that is the case it must be an amazing place too.

I like to keep the verbiage to a minimum and let the photos do the talking…. Hope you enjoy.

The guy on the far right insisted on wearing my hat. If you go to Dubai remember to take a wide brim hat for the sun – it is essential. I did get my hat back.

 

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© Lee Carter and Colleen Carter and Stonewall Galleries. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owners is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Lee Carter and Colleen Carter and Stonewall Galleries with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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