Sunday, 17 September 2017

Snorkeling Great Barrier Reef, Australia

In the back of an exercise book I have written a wish list of things I want to do before I am too old. My problem is that as soon as I tick something off I soon find something else to add. I think I'm going to have to live a very long life. Being in Port Douglas gave me the opportunity to tick snorkeling Great Barrier Reef, Australia off the list. It is something I had wanted to do all my life.

I did quite a bit of research before choosing to take a full day snorkeling tour with Wavelength Cruises. I chose this company because it was snorkel only, took small groups and was staffed by marine biologists who are conservationists and have a great knowledge of the ecology of the reef.  


At the reef (photo by Wavelength)
One of the 7 wonders of the natural world, and a world heritage site since 1981, the reef is 2300 Kilometres long, covers 300,000 square Kms and is made up of thousands of smaller reefs and around 600 islands.  We were going to spend the day snorkeling at three different spots on the 10k long Opal reef  where Wavelength has exclusive use of some sites.

After a very slick and efficient check in at Port Douglas Marina I joined the other 44 passengers aboard Wavelength 4 for the  90 minute trip out to the reef. Now I have been on boats all my life, I have traveled from New Zealand to England and back by sea, my family has always owned boats and I have never, ever been sea sick, or even queasy, but there is a first time for everything!  The trip out was incredibly rough with the boat being tossed around like a cork and I am embarrassed to say, I was sick, twice, but that was it, I felt perfectly fine for the rest of the day which is just as well because what a fantastic day it was.




As we approached the shelter of the reef the sea became calm and the water a combination of navy blue and the most beautiful clear turquoise.  Kitted out with wet suits and given information on what we would see, where we should go and the important etiquette required to protect  the reef we were off for an hour's snorkeling.  The underwater world is a magical place, it is beautiful, peaceful and other worldly, I love it. I couldn't have been happier sharing the water with masses of colourful tropical fish, coral, brightly coloured and otherwise (more on that later) and sensuously waving sea weed and grasses.


Morning tea was served aboard the boat and then we moved to another location for another hour of snorkeling, every bit as good as the first.  


A marine biologist crew member giving a lunch time lecture
After a generous lunch we were invted to a lecture on deck about marine life, the ecology of the sea, threats to the sea from pollution and global warming, and what to look for in coral.  It was all fascinating, I learnt so much I did not know. For example, urinating in the sea is damaging to the coral, as are certain sun screens ( Wavelength provide free sunscreen which is not harmful). Healthy coral is generally not brightly coloured but is usually olive green, brown, tan or pale yellow.  Brightly coloured coral is coral showing signs of stress, either because it is getting too much sunlight or the water temperature is rising.  The bright colours are from tiny organisms living on the coral.  Coral bleaching, or dead coral is a concern because healthy coral is vital for the health of the sea. Although periods of coral stress wax and wane, over the last few years the bad years have been getting closer together. Wavelength staff also monitor the reef for signs of coral bleaching, and hunt out the damaging crown of thorns starfish which feed on and kill the coral.  Another interesting fact is that people, trying to be helpful, attack crown of thorns by hacking at them, thinking they are killing them when in actual fact they are just causing them to multiply.  Each starfish has to be removed in its entirety to have any effect on diminishing the population.

We found Nemo - (photo: shutterstock)
After lunch we went to our third spot.  I enjoyed this spot the most because we were split into groups and taken on snorkeling tours with  marine biologist guides.  This was fantastic as our guide was able to dive down and show us things we may have missed.  My guide was able to point out barracuda basking on the sea bed below us, a giant clam which closed up when she waved her hand above it, several little clown fish aka Nemo, nestled amongst the sea weed, reef sharks  and countless other marine delights. I couldn't have been happier.
This large friendly fish came to see what was going on.
We had afternoon tea back on board the boat and then a pleasantly smooth trip back to the marina.  One of the crew sat and chatted with me a while.  I told her I was embarrassed about being sea sick on the way out and she told me she goes out most days and had felt sick too...so not just me then!  Anyway, it was worth it. The day was everything I hoped it would be. I have done a lot of snorkeling over the years and this was my very best day ever, I am so glad I had this on my bucket list. End of the day - contentment.

I highly recommend Wavelength, and their young, enthusiastic and well educated crew. 
  NB: This post is not not sponsored by them, it is purely about my own experience.

www.wavelength.com.au #wavelengthcruises #greatbarrierreef

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Five fun things to do in Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia

Bally Hooley Train


Turning the engine
This narrow gauge, heritage, cane train takes guests for a one hour return trip from Reef Marina Station out to St Crispins Station and back.  Originally constructed more than a hundred years ago to take cane to the Mossman Sugar Mill it now has a new lease of life carrying tourists.  It is a fun way to while away an hour, sitting in the open carriages, listening to an informative commentary and enjoying views over the harbour and beyond to the Daintree Mountains. Children just love it - the brightly painted red and yellow carriages are the stuff of story books. If you wish you can stop off at St Crispins Station for lunch or a snack at Choo Choos cafe and enjoy the view  over looking a pretty lake and the Mirage Golf Course.  Or, like me, you can watch the train driver and assistant, seemingly effortlessly, turn the engine around,  on a turn table, before you reboard for  the return trip.
Ballyhooley train
www.ballyhooley.com.au    #ballyhooleyheritagetrain

Hemingway's Micro Brewery

Close to the train station at Reef Marina is Hemingway's Microbrewery.  This is a fantastic place to hang out.  I had lunch here a couple of times and really enjoyed sipping beer while sitting by the water and watching the activity in the marina. Craft brewing is a huge phenomenon right now, gaining in popularity all the time and Hemingway's boast of being the first in North Queensland.  They brew a range of different beers including pilsner, pale ale, IPA, dark lager and ginger beer, all with names based on historic characters and events from the area, some true, some fictitious. There is an extensive food menu and the atmosphere is a relaxed, tropical vibe. You can also view the shiny stainless steel beer tanks through windows in the mall it backs onto. 
Hemingway's brewery on right....what a setting!
(photos courtesy Hemingway's)

www.hemingwaysbrewery.com       #hemingwaysbreweryportdouglas

On the Inlet Seafood Restaurant

The big attraction here is the visiting groper, George, who comes in most evenings, around 5pm, to be fed.  Unfortunately for me he didn't come on either of my two visits but, not to worry, it is a lovely place to have a drink, a light meal or dinner.   Bar seating is arranged around and over the water to give guests a good view of George and by 5pm the place is absolutely heaving with people.  On my first visit I was lucky enough to get a prime position and ordered a bar speciality - a bucket of prawns and a schooner of beer for $18.  There were a lot of plump juicy prawns served over ice, very good value.
I enjoyed the friendly banter around me, the glorious sunset over the bay and the beautiful view of the coral sea, Mossman Ranges and the Daintree National Park, it didn't matter one jot that George didn't arrive.  An added bonus was that I met a fellow wandering widow and we agreed to meet up for dinner on another evening.  She is a fascinating lady who was planning to drive a camper van, alone, all the way to Uluru, so intrepid and so inspirational.
The crowds wait expectantly for George, but he didn't come


www.ontheinlet.com.au                #ontheinletportdouglas

The Tin Shed


Just a bit further along the road from Reef Marina, and closer to the main street, is The Tin Shed.  This is a combined club but they welcome visitors.  You must sign in and have proof of your identity, a driver's licence will do.  It too has a stunning water side location.  I had dinner there twice and thoroughly enjoyed it each time.  It is the perfect spot to watch sunsets and the many boats coming back from the Great barrier Reef or taking people for twilight cruises. I dined alone but on both occasions was invited to join other people, those Australians certainly are a friendly bunch. There is no table service, you queue up to order your food, which can be a bit tricky when you are solo because your table can be taken while you are away.  I asked one of the staff for a "reserved" sign and that did the trick.  I had the best calamari I have ever eaten there.
The Tin Shed, the white roofs on the left


www.thetinshed-portdouglas.com.au                  #thetinshedportdouglas

Whileaway Bookshop and Cafe

This very quickly became my favorite hang out in Port Douglas.  I'm a bit like that, if I know I'm going to be somewhere for a while I find a place I really like and make it my own.  Located on the main street in the heart of Port Douglas Whileaway combines an excellent bookshop with a cafe.  What more could you want? I included it as my morning coffee stop every day after a vigorous walk along the beach and up to the look out. There are tables inside amongst the books and on my last day I discovered a very quiet seating area, away from noise and chat at the back of the shop.  I was happy to sit outside most days to enjoy the passing parade after having a good browse among the books.  The coffee is excellent and they serve inviting looking cabinet food.  It was the perfect place for me to write up my diary.  I wish we had a cafe like this where I live.
Writing my diary at my favourite cafe


#whileawaybookshopandcafeportdouglas

So there you are, just a few things to do around Port Douglas.  Of course  you have the glorious Four Mile Beach if beaches are your thing and there are a lot of marvelous day trips which take you out to the Great Barrier or up into the rain forest. You can also go crocodile spotting from the Reef Marina or have a twilight sail on a Chinese junk There are plenty of shops if you like shopping, mostly small and independent, and a convenient Coles' supermarket. I'm not a shopper, particularly, but was very pleased to find a Tommy Bahama had just opened in the main street.  Port Douglas is a small town with a permanent population of just 3200. It is a place to go for a restful, peaceful, tropical holiday, away from the madding crowds. I loved it and can't wait to go back.
Four Mile Beach

My next post will be about my day out on the Great Barrier Reef

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Riding the Kuranda Vintage Railway and the Skyrail , Queensland, Australia

As far as I'm concerned any opportunity to ride on a vintage train is well worth taking. Being in Port Douglas gave me the perfect opportunity to ride on  the Kuranda Scenic Railway, a vintage train which travels from just north of Cairns to Kuranda, high up in the Queensland rain forest.

Waterfalls so close you could almost touch them

I love trains so was really looking forward to both the train ride and the chance to get up into the forest. Our small group tour of 12 consisted of 4 Spaniards, 2 Americans, 1 New Zealander (that's me!) and 5 Australians  guided by the charming Hilary, who provided an informative commentary on the hour's drive south to the train station, then it was "all aboard!" for our trip up into the mountains.



Gold Class carriage
Stoney Creek falls bridge




















Construction of the Kuranda Railway began in 1887 as a way of taking supplies up to the gold miners working in the mountains. 1500 men worked on the railway, creating 15 tunnels and 37 bridges, all by hand. The track is 75km long, includes 93 curves and by any standards is a remarkable feat of engineering and a lasting testament to those workers. The journey through thick rain forest, over ravines and past dramatic waterfalls is incredibly scenic and an easy, comfortable way to get up close and personal with nature. All the carriages date back to the early 1900s and are full of lovely vintage details, such as pressed tin ceilings and dark polished timber and you can open the windows to enjoy the cool, fresh mountain air.
 I traveled in the gold class carriage, a little more expensive but worth it. Extras included comfortable club chairs, a glass of
Kuranda Station
wine to start the journey, yes, you guessed, I had bubbly, and a delicious morning tea.  What luxury, that's what I call traveling in style! There are countless photo opportunities along the way including a 10 minute stop at Barron Falls for passengers to disembark and take in the spectacular 265 metre high water fall.  Apparently in earlier times people crossed this gorge by flying fox....um...no thank you!

The train ends its journey at Kuranda's heritage listed (1915) and very pretty  Federation style railway station set in tropical gardens.

We had an hour and a half to wander around the village of Kuranda, a bit of a Hippyville packed as it is with markets selling the usual markety stuff.  But there are also  a number of attractions including a Butterfly Park, Koala Gardens and Birdworld so plenty to keep you happy if markets aren't your thing.  I chose to just wander around, exploring the markets, enjoying the mesmerising aboriginal art at the Doongal Gallery, housed in an extraordinary Noah's Arc-like building, listening to a didgeridoo player while pondering the mechanics of circular breathing, visiting the tranquil little church of St Saviour's and sipping on coffee amidst lush tropical plants. A very pleasant hour and a half.

A Kuranda Market, one of several

The Didgeridoo, this skilled player  could make all sorts of bird calls

Aboriginal art
Then our group rejoined to catch the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway back down to Cairns. This cableway is 7.5km long and takes about an hour and a half, one way, allowing for a couple of stops at scenic points along the way. I have to admit I felt a bit squeamish as we sailed high over a crocodile infested river but soon settled into the spectacular scenery and enjoyed the ride.  

Crocodile alert!
Enjoying the Skyrail
It is a fantastic way to see the pristine rain forest and to do a bit of tree spotting using the handy tree guide. We stopped for a short board walk through the bush at Red Peaks Station to get the feel of the rain forest and spot some of the prolific bird life.  The last part of the journey took in panoramic views out over the town of Smithfield and along the coastline and out to sea.  All in all amazing.

To round off a truly wonderful day we stopped off at Palm Cove on our way back to Port Douglas. This held special interest for me since my son and daughter in law had honeymooned there.  It is a very pretty little seaside resort which for some reason reminded me of the Carribean, I think maybe because of the ice cream colours on some of the buildings. There we enjoyed conversation and cocktails  at a seaside bar before heading back up the coast.
Carribean colours at Palm Cove


If you are going to North Queensland I highly recommend this day out. I also highly recommend Brett's Day Tours.  Our guide was thoroughly professional, giving good advice on things to do and places to see.  I particularly like small group tours and the fact that there was free time to do our own thing in Kuranda.

Note: these views are my own. I was not sponsored by Brett's.

#kurandavintagerailway  #kuranda #skyrailrainforestcableway #brettsdaytours #palmcove

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Port Douglas, Australia - A winter escape

We seem to have had a particularly rainy winter this year and after a while that gets depressing.  So it was with a spring in my step and a smile on my face that I boarded the plane for Port Douglas in tropical North Queensland, Australia, in search of some warmth and sunshine. I was traveling solo for a week of relaxation and adventure with a plan to alternate my days doing adventurous things on some and blobbing out by the pool with a good book on others.  I have to say that my arrival at Cairns airport was the best and smoothest arrival I have ever had anywhere.  I was through customs and immigration and had my suitcase in hand in 5 minutes flat.  What a joy!  And a timely reminder of the misery of the two and a half hours it took to negotiate Houston airport earlier this year. What a contrast and such a great, stress free start to my holiday.

The drive from Cairns to Port Douglas (population around 3200) takes about an hour and follows a spectacular coastal road with waves crashing on golden beaches on one side and a mountain range cloaked in dense rain forest on the other. It is a stunning landscape.

Four Mile Beach Port Douglas - photo by Malcolmj

The road entering Port Douglas is lined with huge African oil palms, grown at his own nursery by the late Christopher Skase, the notorious Australian billionaire and fraudster who developed the Sheraton Mirage Resort in 1988.  Tourism to the Great Barrier Reef had started to turn the once sleepy fishing village, with a population of just 100 in 1960, into a holiday spot in the 1970s but it was really Skase who set Port Douglas on the map as a holiday resort and his avenue of palms was one way of ensuring an impressive welcome.  Nowadays the town's population doubles during winter when the temperature is generally around 28-29 degrees and the days are fine and sunny. Summer is the rainy season and can be way too hot with temperatures in the 40s.

 Four Mile Beach

The old sugar cane wharf on the Estuary, Port Douglas

One of the things I love doing most on holiday is walking so as soon as I had settled into my accommodation I was off. Port Douglas has one long main street which runs from one side of a small headland to the other, the glorious Four Mile Beach, on one side, and the estuary and marina on the other. This is Australia and crocodiles abound.  It is safe to swim in the life guard controlled part of Four Mile Beach but not in the estuary or Marina area, that is if you don't want to be crocodile dinner! Fortunately this is not stinger season.  Stingers are the lethal box jelly fish which fill the sea off Four Mile Beach in summer and make  swimming there a deadly exercise.

Right: Stinger warnings on Four Mile Beach with handy bottles of vinegar in case of stings, but, beware, a Stinger can kill you.



Don't be fooled, the popular out back themed Iron Bar is new
The main street, Macrossan Street, is lined with shops and restaurants and has a laid back, resorty vibe to it.  I had heard there was a market on Sundays so made my way to Anzac Park on the estuary side of town.  It was a typical market with stalls selling jewelry, souvenirs, hand crafts, fruit and vegetables, a pleasant place to browse. I couldn't go past the plump, golden, Queensland pineapples.

Next I was tempted by a sign to a lighthouse and took the short track up the hill, past the Courthouse Museum, (which unfortunately was never open during my stay) to have a look.  I am a bit of a sucker for light houses.  I find the idea of a light glowing a warning across the sea very romantic. I was expecting a tall slender,  white column but instead  found something very utilitarian. I was disappointed but nevertheless, if it is effective as a warning it doesn't matter what it looks like.


The Court House Museum


The Port Douglas light house














Needing a rest I stopped for a while at the picturesque and lovely little church of St Mary's by the Sea right at the water's edge in Anzac park.  Small, romantic, historic and beautifully restored, it is easy to see why it is so popular for weddings.


St Mary's by the Sea

Tired out from my 3am start I headed back to my hotel.  Night falls fast in the tropics so it was dark by 6.30pm and  I had about a 600 metre walk from the main street home, nevertheless I felt very safe.  There were plenty of people out strolling and my route was lined with resorts and hotels.

I fell into bed for a deep sleep pleased at my choice of Port Douglas and looking forward to some fun adventures ahead.

#portdouglas

Monday, 31 July 2017

A pretty lake and touch of Japan in Auckland


It is easy to neglect corners of your own city.  I guess because you know something is there and that it is readily accessible you don't feel the pressure to visit it.  It has been like that for me with the idyllic little lake in Western Springs Park, close to the city centre of Auckland.  I am ashamed to admit that the last time I went there was probably about 40 years ago, but, fear not, that has now been rectified.



As a lifelong Japanophile I had been itching to visit the newly opened Japanese Garden located within the park and was just waiting for a fine day to do it justice.  Thankfully the weather gods smiled on us over the last week and Sunday dawned, fine, still and gloriously sunny, a perfect day for a stroll by the lake.



What an eye opener!  I had forgotten how lovely the park is. Fed by fresh water springs the lake is a haven for wildlife so I strolled past ducks and swans gliding over a polished mirror reflecting weeping willows and rushes and native pukeko burrowing among the reeds. Happy families were picnicking, the adults chatting contentedly  as their boisterous children played in the large playground.  I thoroughly enjoyed my walk, the lake is so pretty and the bird life prolific, but uppermost was my goal of finding the Japanese Garden.




To give the garden its correct name it is the Fukuoka Friendship Garden and was gifted to the city by Fukuoka in 1986 when Auckland and Fukuoka became sister cities.  Originally located within Auckland Zoo it was demolished, amid huge controversy, to make way for more pet enclosures.  Thankfully the mayor of Auckland pledged its reconstruction within Western Springs Park, immediately adjoining the zoo.  The garden is 2 and a half times bigger than the original and incorporates all the traditional elements of a Japanese garden, including the relocated gate.  Japanese garden landscape experts flew in from Japan and worked with a   local bamboo craftsman, Mark Mortimer of Bambusero, in its creation. There is a tea pavilion, rocks, water, bamboo fencing, cherry trees, mass plantings of typical Japanese plants and a raked pebble garden.  It is small but exquisitely formed.  Still raw and new it will take a year or two to mature but it truly is a beautiful thing.  I was happily transported right back to Japan and know it won't be long before I'm back enjoying the atmosphere of the Fukuoka Friendship Garden right here in Auckland.

www.bambusero.co.nz   #bambusero

And here are some of my photos of the gardens:










Monday, 24 July 2017

12 Ways to survive winter

Down here at the bottom of the world it is winter.  In New Zealand this means a lot of rain and, in the southern parts of the country, snow.  Every evening on TV we get breathless and hyperbolic reports about snow falls and flooding in various parts of the country.  Anyone would think this was a new thing but it is winter and it happens every year. We don't get particularly cold here in Auckland.  A cold day would be about 12 degrees although it is usually around 15 or 16.  That's not cold in relation to other parts of the world but we do get lots of rain.  Winter is when we get 'four seasons in one day' so we are never sure  what the weather will be like from one hour to the next - sunny, rainy, sunny, hot, cold, windy.  We learn to be prepared and always carry a brolly even if the sun is out. I have to say I am not a particular fan of winter but I think the best way of handling it is to enjoy the positives.


People don't notice whether it's summer or winter when they're happy
                                                                                          Anton Chekov

So here is my list of 12 ways to survive winter:
1.  Take time to read.  There is nothing more delightful than spending an afternoon curled up with a good book in front of a fire.
2. Make pots of soup, hearty casseroles, steamed puddings, and cheese rolls to eat in front of TV
(cheese rolls recipe at the end of this post)
 3.  Soak in a hot bath late in the afternoon and get into your pyjamas and dressing gown straight  after,  deliciously decadent and cosy.
4.  Stand at a window and watch the rain and/or hail.
5.  Wrap up warmly and go for a walk... exhilarating and you feel so virtuous.
A walk along a wild beach with the waves crashing in is exhilarating
 6. Marvel at nature's beauty in rainbows
7. Catch up on all those TV programmes you have recorded or watch whole box sets
8. Drink red wine, hot chocolate with marshmallows (good reason to go walking) and lemon, honey and ginger toddies

9. Enjoy the winter beauty of your garden, that is if your garden isn't buried under snow!


I enjoy the azaleas in my garden right through winter
10. Treat yourself to a trip to a hot spa. In New Zealand we are blessed with multiple hot thermal pools, a soak in one warms you right through to your bones.
11. Go to bed early and fall asleep to the soothing sound of rain on the roof
12. Make a point of calling in on friends for a catch up.  A cup of coffee or tea and good conversation makes any day seem sunnier.

 Japanese Proverb: One kind word can warm three winter months

And if none of that works and you are still suffering from Seasonal Affective disorder (SAD)  do what I am doing in a couple of weeks time, head off to a warm tropical clime for a break and some healing sunshine. Then just remember the wise words of a great poet:

O wind, if winter comes, Can spring be far behind?
                                                Percy Bysshe Shelley


And here is the promised recipe for Cheese Rolls, famous in the South Island of New Zealand:
Cheese rolls = comfort food


SOUTHLAND CHEESE ROLLS
Ingredients:
250grams grated tasty cheese
1 onion finely chopped
200 mls evaporated milk
1/2 a packet of onion soup powder
1/2 a loaf of sandwich bread

Method:
Put everything except the bread into a saucepan and melt gently, stirring frequently, over a low heat.  Once thoroughly melted remove from the heat and allow to cool down a bit before spreading generously onto slices of bread.  Roll the bread up and grill the rolls in the oven, turning frequently until all nicely browned.  I make up a batch of these and freeze them before grilling so I  have a ready supply of comforting snacks on hand to just pop under the grill when needed.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Was this really 50 years ago?

Today it is 50 years  since New Zealand changed from pounds, shillings and pence to a decimal currency system and it has set me on a nostalgic journey of memories.  As a just-out-of-school teller the change over had meant weeks of training at the bank where I worked, angst, excitement and anticipation. As it turned out the change over went without a hitch and life soon settled down into a comfortable, albeit less complicated, routine again. Although I did hear a story of a prisoner in jail concerned that the money he had buried would be worthless when he got out!


One pound became $2. $2 is now a coin.
Young people today might spare a thought for the 5 and 6 year olds of earlier generations, starting school and having to grapple with the complicated three column adding system which was as follows: pennies in the right column, shillings in the middle column and pounds in the left column.  To make matters worse 2 halfpennies made a penny, 12 pennies made a shilling, 20 shillings made a pound, 21 shillings made a guinea  There was no logic to it at all.  But it was not only currency that made learning maths difficult, New Zealand's whole system was in imperial measurements: distances, weight, land area, oven temperatures etc. etc.  So a primary school child had to struggle with 12 inches make one foot, 3 feet make one yard, 1760 yards make a mile and that's not counting furlongs, roods, acres etc., it was enough to put you off maths for life!  Those lessons must have really sunk in, though, because even today I still think of a person's height in feet and inches and, curiously, babies birth weights are still often reported in pounds and ounces. Even Britain, which has steadfastly clung to the names Pound and Pennies, has changed to a decimal system for their currency at least.

At the time of my banking career all interest payments were calculated on a daily basis by staff, (nothing so fancy as a computer or even a calculator, then)  and entered by pen in a column running down the side of a customers account ledger card.  I worked at this for a while and I must say it certainly brushed up my mental arithmetic. The bank employed elderly, retired men to double check the interest workings just to make sure they were correct.  These old men were great to work with and were affectionately known in the bank as "retreads" I remember one who wore slippers to work so, in order not to be seen by the public, had to take unbelievably long circuitous routes around the bank to get from A to B.

My first weekly pay was 7 pounds 10 shillings = to $15. It was a very reasonable pay rate at the time. I paid 3 pounds to my mother for board, and still had enough for bus fares, lunches, clothes and the odd trip to the movies etc.  We weren't really a consumer society then and most of my clothes I made myself but I still felt I was doing OK.  By the time I became engaged, a couple of years later, and after a couple of modest pay rises, I had managed to save $1000.

When I look at photos of those days in 1967 I can hardly believe that that was my youth, it looks so old fashioned!  Interestingly I worked for the bank for 6 years and do not have a single photo of myself in the work place, or even of my workplace, no one ever thought of taking photos at work, and besides, photography was expensive so kept for holidays and special occasions.

So here we are 50 years later and so much has changed, computers do a major part of banking work, actually the bank I worked for was the first in New Zealand to get computers and I was among the first to use them, and small coins became worthless so that now New Zealand's smallest coin is 10 cents, the equivalent of a shilling. Also, interestingly, while I worked at the bank staff were invited to sit a computer programming aptitude test.  I gained a high score, higher than some of the men who were selected for training in that area, but I was not selected because I was a woman "and would probably leave to have children".  I still, all these years later, feel some resentment over that. And I can't help being stunned sometimes  when young shop assistants have to use a calculator to add two very simple amounts leaving me to wonder what on earth they get taught at school these days.  Not like the good (not so good) old days, eh?

P.S. Another sign of the times is that the beautiful, heritage bank building I first worked in now houses a McDonalds.