Happy New Year! The days since I signed off before Christmas have flown, filled with visiting, celebrations religious and secular, reading (one-and-a-half books, so not bad), a half-hearted and fruitless attempt at bargain hunting in summer sales, and the fulfilment of one New Year Resolution: a thorough clean and polish of my ageing Toyota Corolla, which now positively beams at me as I approach it. About other resolutions, still being firmed up, I shall remain silent for now.
Our road trip to Napier (not in my car!) was relatively uneventful. The nearest we came to having an adventure was the discovery, two-thirds of the way home, that my sister had left her handbag 50 kms back at a cousin’s place. There are few things worse than having to double back on a journey when you heart is set on getting to the end, so it was fortunate that -- as we ascertained by mobile phone (wonderful inventions) -- someone would be following us with it to Auckland the next day.
The journey itself took us south-east through rich farmland, a volcanic region -- including Lake Taupo and the Huka Falls (source of the Waikato River, NZ’s longest) -- steep hills and valleys, and forests native and exotic, to Hawke’s Bay, named by Captain Cook after a British admiral (of course). Napier is a small city with a bustling port and the proud boast of being the Art Deco Capital of the world, no less. After an earthquake levelled the town centre in 1931 it was rebuilt in the Deco style and the surviving buildings of that era were declared a World heritage Site by the UN in 2007. There is a wonderful long beach promenade but the beach itself is rather daunting with a pebbly and steeply shelving shore. To top off its attractions, the region has one of the best (warmest and driest) climates in the country. No wonder practically everyone I spoke to was from somewhere else. One native who spoke to me was a cheerful lady who leads Art Deco tours of the city; unfortunately I had just put a chocolate with a toffee centre in my mouth and could only smile and nod in reply.
MercatorNet has not been entirely dormant over the past two weeks. Michael Cook has re-run some of our most popular articles from 2012 and posted Robert Reilly’s analysis of what’s happening in Egypt, as well as a review of some of the best films of 2012. Since I have seen only one of these movies -- The Separation -- I am pleased that there are others worth watching. Next up for me is The Hobbit (having re-read the book in preparation) which Ronan Wright has reviewed for us.
There is much food for thought in the articles by James Cole on “gay marriage” cases before the Supreme Court, Lis Howell on the Jimmy Savile scandal, and George Friedman on the most important decision facing Europe.
At the top of the list sits a lovely piece by Alma Acevedo on the tradition which made the coming Feast of the Epiphany el gran dia, the greatest day of the year after Christmas during her childhood.
Happy feast and happy reading,