Sunday, October 29, 2017

Remembering: a century on and half a world away

One hundred years ago today, Albert Hyatt, my great uncle, died at a dressing station near the town of Poperinge in Belgium. Knowing the anniversary would fall while we were away, I spent a few moments at the war memorial in Motueke, on New Zealand's South Island to honour his memory. Half a world away from Ripon, where he lived and worked, and the Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, where he lies, his family remembered him a century on; a Yorkshireman among the Anzac sons of this Kiwi town.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Tory's Costa service rant - how charming

Peter Chapman seems like a man in a hurry to get his caffeine fix. Hope the overworked and, probably grievously, underpaid Costa staff add a little something extra to his flat white (presumed drink of choice for Tories) on his next visit - Exlax should do the trick.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Christchurch taxis - just too good to be true?

Arriving at Christchurch airport after a 25-hour flight from Manchester, broken by short stops at Dubai and Sydney, the first thought was to get to the hotel as quickly as possible. Walking to the taxi rank, it appeared transport NZ style differs markedly from taxi and private hire practices in the UK. First, two drivers politely declined to take the four of us and our luggage: 'too much for the car' explained the first, before his friend chipped in: you don't want to have to pay for two cabs - better wait for the shuttle, it'll be cheaper too' What was this? Cabbies refusing a fare, better yet, refusing to make us take two cars instead of one? Weird. But stranger was to come the following morning. For the first day, we'd booked the TranzAlpine Express; a four-hour train ride over the Alps from Christchurch on the east coast to Greymouth on the west, and had specifically booked a larger taxi/minibus to take us to the station at 7.30 am. A few minutes after half seven, Doug appeared in a minibus, apologising profusely for being late, he packed the cases into the rear and then drove us to the station. With no breach of the speed limit, I watched as he indicated for every turn and junction, all the while extolling the virtues and sites of his homeland, before dropping us at the station and pointing out the best seats for the journey. Beware if coming to Christchurch for the first time - there are bogus taxi drivers here. Have to be - they are just too good to be true (in Doug's case, he even reduced the fare as the booking clerk had neglected to tell use there was a special deal for bookings from our hotel...)