Patricks New Zealand Weblog

Backgammon 2015

This weekend it was off up to Thames to play backgammon. I do love the game, though I really haven’t played it in a long while, at least, not with any consistency. We ran the “National Competition” (very loose definition if ever there was one) as a part of the mindsports festival, which is an initiative the Thames county council is trying to get going, with some success. Anyway 17 players turned up, and we had a good competition, it was great to be playing again. I ended up coming third overall, but it was a very close competition.

BackgammonBaffle BoxPolice Station

Oh, the other picture was of the police station which was finally demolished. There is still a huge amount of rebuild left to go.. my heart goes out to the people of Nepal who are going through hell at the moment, no doubt about it, even though it has faded from front page news.

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A piece of Pi

May disappeared in a blur. Some of which was spent playing with my Raspberry Pi mini computer. I was attempting to make the pi talk over a 3G modem so that it could take pictures (from anywhere within cellphone reception) and upload them to a website. Basically worked too!, wrote a small ruby gem for interfacing with the modem. All in all a satisfactorily geeky time was had.

Other than that, went to a tiki-tane music evening, visited the graffiti exhibition which has taken over the rock climbing wall at the YMCA.


Decent exhibition, but, once you’ve seen it once that’s it. I really think that the new leadership at the YMCA has done a massive disservice to the climbing community here by halving the number of walls available. I do not see how having an exhibition is furthering their mission in any significant way. Hey ho.

What else… not too much really… work has become properly busy again, and I’m certainly enjoying the projects I’m working on at the moment. Helped encourage one of our clients to upgrade their version of Rails from 2.3 (very very old) to 3.2 (still quite “old” as these things go, but still under warranty so to speak). That was satisfactory!

Anyway, no major adventures to report, it’s sort of shoulder season while the ski season approaches.

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Katrina & Aaron’s wedding

For a solid year and a half, or so, I played scrabble with Katrina. I went so far as dictating the 2 letter words into an mp3 so I could study while biking around ;) Did help, but not enough… I was mercilessly thrashed week in week out. Anyway, she moved away to Melbourne, mostly to be closer to family (why would anyone want to do that ;) ehehheheeh. ehem. kidding Mum) and she ended up meeting a most excellent Kiwi (Aaron), and this weekend they got married.

It was a lovely ceremony, and then great food and dancing. (un)Fortunately no time for scrabble.. I’m completely out of practice it would have been murder.

Anyway, a hearty congratulations to Katrina & Aaron :)


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For the long weekend Steve & Michelle were heading away to Lake Tennyson and I went along with them (because, someone, who shall remain nameless, is working super hard on a course and doesn’t come out to play ;) heh,

Aaaanyway, it was a lovely weekend away. The highlights were: being somewhat lazy on the Saturday and reading lots of Hornblower (excellent books, highly recommend), and then going for a walk up to “Princess Bath”, a very nice corrie. Personally I think the princess could have chosen a warmer bath, but there you go.

Lake TennysonSteve and Michellegot'im

This blob here is actually a mass of bees:

bees like beer

We had left a couple of beer bottles at the camp and when we came back, the (dark!) beer bottle had about 2cm of bees at the bottom of it. Steve, being the kind entomologist he is, warmed them up by the fire (but not too close) until they could fly away.

All in all a very nice Easter. Thanks Michelle & Steve :)

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Quail Island

There is an island in the middle of Lyttleton harbour called Quail Island.

View Larger Topographic Map

There was a trip organised to go there by the local royal society, and I happen to be on their mailing list – so off I went. Had a nice day walking around, seeing the various efforts at pest eradication (reasonably successful, though one of the party were pretty sure they saw a rabbit – which they thought they’d cleared off)

Also heard about the leper colony which was there. Here you can see one of the dwellings and also the crockery etc. which was recently discovered down on the beach. It had all been dumped there when the colony was destroyed.


Then a wander around the rest of the island, seeing the various plants which had been brought back, even a native mistletoe carefully grafted.


Oh, you can also see the remains of the kennels and the wharf where Captain Scott got ready for his trips to Antarctica (1901 and 1910).


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West Coast Weekend

Had a nice trip off to the West Coast for a relax after the previous festivities. Stayed in quite a nice bach just outside of HariHari. Walks along the beach, lots of lazing, reading, very nice, quite needed!DSC_0079DSC_0084

There was the remains of a beach art festival at Hokitika which looked pretty fun.DSC_0063DSC_0059DSC_0027DSC_0037

Where we went for a walk, there was a monument to the first (mad) lad who made the flight from Oz to NZ. He didn’t tell anyone about it (as he knew it’d be denied) and just off he went. Crashed into a swamp just outside of HariHari. Good on him!


Finally, a picture quite a large honey extractor. For dad (who’s a beekeeper). I may have to learn the skillz someday, there’s little better than an unlimited supply of fresh honey. That said, I’m not partial to the stings.


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Snow Monkeys and Home via Tokyo

We did have a day of rest during the ski holiday (after 4 straight days of skiing, or was it 6 and then a break..) anyway.. we went off to “do culture” ;) First stop was sushi ;)

sushi train

I think it’s cultural anyway. Very tech. You chose what you wanted from the touchscreen, and then a little (bullet) train would zap out to you with the sushi on it.

Next – off to see the snow monkeys. These guys hang out in natural hotsprings all day. They must get ridiculously hot and headachey. There’s even a snow monkey livecam, should you wish to have a look yourself.


Then we took a trip to Obuse where we sampled some sake.. and walked to a temple (which turned out to be closed). Interesting rituals around the drinking of sake (first sip without using your hands – just bring your head down and sip – neatly incorporates a bow). Definitely tastier than the last time I tried it in Dublin!


Then more skiing for the next few days… before all too soon it was time to go back to ChCh. We just had the one day in Tokyo really, but visited “The Ninja Restaurant”. Honestly, I thought the ninjas themselves were a little lame (definitely more fun if you speak Japanese, as then you’d get the full experience, our waiter spoke very good English, but wasn’t super theatrical). That said, the food was absolutely delicious and very well presented.


Maaike and I, on the morning before leaving, had a wander around the outside of the palace.. such luxury of space in a place as densely populated as Tokyo.

DSC_0079palaceDSC_0075DSC_0073train station

All in all, a really excellent holiday. I definitely felt like my skiing improved a lot, and really, such a great group to be travelling with. Thanks to all, and especially Mark + Kate, for organising such a great trip.

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Pow Pow.

group of awesomeness

Ok, so, there’s not much to say here that the pictures don’t say. It was amazing. We had about 1.5m of fresh powder fall while we were there. It was incredible. Many thanks to Dan, Tim, Mark and Alistair for the photos here below. Quite a few of these pics I wasn’t even close to being in, as it was the better skiiers off in the trees… that said, we did get in them a bit, and increasingly so as it was later in the week.

TimBig dump!snowy-chairIanThe 'Snow Mushroom' houseMarkmark-powAlistairAlistairDanelizabeth, maaike, markkateIMG_7254markmarkSunrise from the Villa NozawaTreeTrees into the sunme

This video was taken from my impromptu stag.. one of my challenges was to get down Kandahar as fast as I could. Tim?’s best time was 1 minute 50 ish? I was 2:14 or something, so sure, slower, but not that bad I thought. My limit was 3 or 4 minutes I think. At the end you’ll see I scoot through Dan and Tim, they were supposed to be the finish line, though I don’t think they got the memo – so it was a little closer than ideal ;) Thanks to Mark for taking the video.

And here’s a short video of me going through some trees.

And… there was time for being silly.. ;)

Anyway, it was completely amazing – I think I’m basically spoiled for life now!

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Nozawaonsen – the village

Nozawaonsen is a small alpine village 4? hours, something like that, from Tokyo. Our friends Mark and Kate had been there before on their honeymoon, and they strongly recommended it for skiing. This was the reason we were all here in Japan. To Ski. It had about a 3.5m base by the time we arrived, and while there, it snowed another 1.3m or so. Insane.

Anyway, the village itself is lovely. There are ‘onsen’ (hot pools) all over the place. I think there were about 8 or so public baths in the village. It does take a little getting used to (it’s damn hot, and fully naked – males & females have separate rooms). The temperature gauge definitely read ’50c’ when I was in there once, but mostly it was about 44 or so. Hot.

We stayed in Villa Nozawa and it really was a great spot. 100m to the nearest chair lift. Excellent management, nice enough beds, wifi (good for raspberry pi’s ;) free breakfast (all you could eat) in the mornings.. and decent discounts on gear hire etc.

Anyway, some pictures from the village.


This last one…


Is from the central hot spring in the village. A lot of food is cooked in there! Anyway, it was a lovely place to base ourselves. Here’s a timelapse from our room. Start watching from about 20 seconds. It took me by surprise..

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