Searching for locations: Gollums Pool, New Zealand

Tawhai Falls is a 13-meter high waterfall located in Tongariro National Park.

It is located about 4 km from the Tongariro National Park Visitor Centre, on State Highway 48.

An easy walk takes just 10-15 minutes to reach the waterfall’s lookout.

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The top of the falls.  There was not much water coming down the river to feed the falls when we were there in May

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Tawhai Falls is also the filming location of Gollum’s pool where Faramir and his archers are watching Gollum fish.

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It’s a rocky walk once you are down at ground level, and it may be not possible to walk along the side of the stream if the falls have more water coming down the river from the mountain.

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Past conversations with my cat – 32


This is Chester.  I’ve just told him we will be going away for a few days.

What, again?  You do nothing but go away these days!  That look of disdain is meant to move me, but, sorry, it doesn’t.

It is retirement, you know, I say.  I’ve waited for 65 years so that I can do what I want.

Poor you!  Any idea how old you think I am?

15, mate, and lucky to have lived that long, despite the fact you’ve tried to escape.

That’s a matter of opinion, but not cat years, fool, human years.

I’d never quite worked that out.  We had a dog once, and I know that for every dog year it’s seven human years, so it was, in human terms, rather old.

But cats?

I’ll look it up on the internet.

Interesting.  The first two years are worth 24 human years and 4 years for each successive year.  That makes you, wow, 76.

A smug expression takes over.  Old, he says, you don’t know what it is to be old.

Except at your age, you’re too old to be travelling.

He wanders off, the tail indicating his annoyance.  I don’t think it was what he wanted to hear.


Is the grass greener …

On the other side ….


As to what side I’m referring to, I’ll let you make up your own mind …


We’re in the grip of a drought, and finding some green grass is very hard.

Rain is not predicted for quite some time, so I expect in a few months time the question will be, is the grass browner on the other side?

Somehow, it just doesn’t have the same ring about it, does it?

Will this heat ever let up?

Just think, this time last year, give or take a month, we were driving around in sub-zero temperatures.

But, it could have been worse…

When we were in New York it was a range between 4 degrees and minus six degrees Fahrenheit.

A week later, after we left, those temperatures dropped to minus fifty, not necessarily in New York but in other places we have visited before, like Chicago.

Wow, did we get out of dodge at the right time?

Now, at home and not likely to be going to the other side of the world anytime soon, what could be called a welcome relief from the freezing cold has become a monotonous heat wave, where to venture out in the endless heat and, worse, humidity is more than a chore.

Dare I say it but the air conditioning is going night and day, and the only saving grace is the fact we have solar power, and that endless sunshine works for us.

In a manner of speaking.


I’m now on a quest for a place that is more temperate to visit, you know, not too hot, not too cold, but does such a place exist?

Have we managed through global warming to destroy anything that could be described as paradise?

Is there such a thing as global warming?

Have we been on this planet long enough with the science to prove it, that what’s apparently happening now, hasn’t happened before at one time or another?

I have no doubt paradise exists somewhere, but why would you tell anyone about it?  Once everyone knows about it, it ceases to be paradise.

So much for that quest.

Perhaps I should be grateful for the air conditioning and hope we don’t run out of electricity, as it seems demand is likely to exceed supply because of the industry’s failure to update its infrastructure.

It seems there is always a new problem on the horizon.

Perhaps it’s time to find a cave and go back to the days when we didn’t have to rely on anything except our own ingenuity.

And mercifully not have to fight off the dinosaurs.

We all seek to escape from reality, for a brief moment or maybe longer

And that’s where escapist entertainment comes in.

Television in the form of a comedy, dramedy, or drama, in series format or just a good movie, gives us that temporary respite from everything that’sd going on around us.

For a longer respite we turn to a book, sometimes an action-packed thriller where the plot could be only too real or a flight of fancy that just borders on the unbelievable.  Or maybe a good romance, just to remind us, or reinforce the notion that there can be a happy ending.

But the trouble these days is finding the time as more and more everyday stuff impinges on our lives, making less time for everything else.

Stories have got shorter, e.g. the advent of the ‘novella’.

Mills and Boon head the right idea, making their romance novels fit into 187 pages, not too long and not too short.  I don’t know how they did it, I tried writing one, and no way would it fit into 187 pages, but then it did sneak off into the thriller category.

It might be why science fiction and fantasy books are so popular.  If we’re going to leave this world for a while, why not go all the way to another world.  Things have to be better there, don’t they?

It’s probably why I can come up with so many ideas about being anywhere but here, in this reality.  It is probably one of the most boring existence because I cannot work, and in retirement, other than tormenting grandchildren, gardening, which I never really liked, and house renovations, which there are only so many you can do, there’s very little else.

It’s probably why most of us don’t read or view real life.  We already have that, we don’t want to be reminded of it.


Time to get back to my other reality.

Searching for locations: Innsbruck, Austria

On one holiday, we drove from Florence to Innsbruck, a journey of about 500 kilometres and via the E45, a trip that would take us about five and a half hours.

We drove conservatively, stopped once for lunch and took about seven hours, arriving in Innsbruck late in the afternoon

The main reason for this stay was to go to Swarovski in Wattens for the second time, to see if anything had changed, and to buy some pieces.  We were still members of the club, and looking forward to a visit to the exclusive lounge and some Austrian champagne.

Sadly, there were no new surprises waiting, and we came away a little disappointed.

We were staying at the Innsbruck Hilton, where we stayed the last time, and it only a short walk to the old town.

From the highest level of the hotel, it is possible to get a look at the mountains that surround the city.  This view is in the direction we had driven earlier, from Florence.

The change in the weather was noticeable the moment we entered the mountain ranges.

This view looks towards the old town and overlooks a public square.

This view shows some signs of the cold, but in summer, I doubted we were going to see any snow.

We have been here in winter, and it is quite cold, and there is a lot of snow.  The ski resorts are not very far away, and the airport is on the way to Salzburg.

There is a host of restaurants in the old town, and we tried a few during our stay.  The food, beer, and service were excellent.

On a previous visit, we did get Swiss Army Knives, literally, from a small store called Victorinox.

And, yes, we did see the golden roof.

How fascinating it would be to go back in time, and meet writers from a different era

I’ve often thought that I should have been born in the early 1900’s and lived through what might be called the halcyon days of the 20’s and 30’s.

Of course, it is only a matter of opinion if those days were good or bad, depending on who you were.

If I’d been the heir apparent to becoming Lord of the manor, or from any part of upper classes with a University education, I have no doubt that I would not have been spared the horrors of war along with rest of the young men who went to serve and never returned.

The only saving grace might be as Officer it might have been easier than being un the ranks, but at that age, I doubt if I’d be as cautious as I should be, as of all youth I’d throw caution to the wind.

But in all likelihood, I would not have been part of the aristocracy but more than likely a clerk or farm worker who might by wit and guile have survived the war, if not a little traumatized by what I had seen and done in the name of defending the Empire.

It had prompted Hemingway to use the phrase ‘the lost generation’ at the end of one of his books, but perhaps it was first used by Gertrude Stein who had said in not many words that those who survived the war were more content to drink themselves to death.

I guess if the war hadn’t taken you, and you survived the great flu epidemic that followed it, then you would probably believe you were in some way invincible.

So, in those post-war days where writers and others congregated in Paris in those mid-twenties, what some regard as the halcyon years before the great depression and later the next world war.  I suspect a lot of the American writers left because of prohibition and wanted the more liberal lifestyle in Paris during these years.

Certainly, there was a group of writers and artists who lived that bohemian lifestyle, perhaps a result of the horrors of war, using alcohol and promiscuity to drown the bad memories.

I doubt if anyone could return from a war like that and not be damaged in some way.  Perhaps the only way to escape the horror was to immerse oneself in a different world, and if I had been back in those days, I know I would be putting pencil to paper, making endless notes for later use.

And I prefer to believe if I survived it was because my desire to become a writer would eventually be fulfilled.  Perhaps, in the end, it might be more likely because I had had a lifetime love affair with words, and to me, it would be more than enough to make a reasonable living from it.

Certainly, I would have sought out others like me as mentors and compatriots.

It was a time when the likes of F Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Edith Wharton, and James Joyce, all of whom I have no doubt would be happy to be the role models one needed.

And if you could afford to take a trip to Paris, well, enough said.

It would probably take a lot of luck to be included in their group and no doubt hanging out at the Shakespeare and Company bookshop, owned by Silvia Beach and Adrienne Monnier, might have been a step in the right direction.

But, having not been there at the time, who knows what might have happened.

Perhaps one day when someone invents the time machine, I might be able to go back and find out.