Sunday, 28 July 2013

Hutt River Trail and Dowse Art Museum

This is going to be a short blog post because today we did a ride that we have done before, and we didn’t stop too often to take photographs. We’re getting to the point where we have cycled most of the easy flat routes in the Wellington region, so we now start having to repeat some.

Our last ride was ten days ago. Even though the weather has been rather good, we didn’t go riding for a variety of reasons. So today, with a lovely big “high” over the country, we thought we’d better take the opportunity before it packed up again.

We decided to do the middle section of the Hutt River Trail, starting from the little park by the twin bridges at Silverstream. The track is wide and flat, with a mostly easily managed gravel surface. We agreed to not make too many photo stops, but to get some sustained cycling under our belt. All the same, there were some interesting sights.

Twin bridges near Silverstream (photo by John)

Sorry to ramble on about the June storm AGAIN, but quite close to our starting point there was more evidence of storm damage. A row of trees along the river’s edge appear to have fallen victim to the fierce winds. Some were uprooted, and many were severely split and splintered. There was a Council digger nearby – unattended as it was Sunday. John thought that perhaps the trees were being culled by the Council, but it looked far too random for that. A culling operation would have started by cutting the trees down, and then removing the roots. They would never have allowed the trees to be so shattered. Here the roots were just ripped from the soil as the wind pushed the trees over.

Storm-damaged trees

It was lovely just pedalling along in the sunshine. At one stage I caught a whiff of sweet perfume, and thought “I know that smell, what is it? Yes, it’s flowering wattle”. And as I came around the next bend in the path, there it was, a gorgeous flowering wattle. I would have thought it was too early for trees to flower, but perhaps spring is on the way. Yay!

Flowering wattles - such a gorgeous fragrance ...  (photo by John)

Funny how evocative smells are. This fragrance triggers a memory of my childhood, but it’s vague, I can’t pinpoint what it reminds me of exactly. I can’t actually remember any instances of seeing these trees anywhere, but I do remember that my mother used to call the flowers “mimosa”.

There were a lot of people using the track. Quite a few families on bikes – Mum, Dad and the kids – and a lot of people walking their dogs. We even encountered some people riding horses on the grass berm. That too, reminded me of my early teens, when my sister and I used to ride regularly. I felt almost envious of these people. I would love to go horse riding again. Actually, one of my “bucket list” wishes is to canter along a beach. Whether I’ll achieve that, I don’t know. Maybe I can talk my eldest daughter into doing that with me one day. For now, I guess, all the riding I’ll do will be on a bike …

Horse riders - how I wish I could do that too! (photo by John)

After nearly an hour of more or less continuous cycling, we arrived at Harcourt Park, in Upper Hutt. We did a little loop around the park. As well as a playground, park benches and picnic tables, and an (empty) paddling pool, we discovered a practice track for children to learn road rules. There were two-way and one-way “roads”, a roundabout, intersections with appropriate traffic signs, and pedestrian crossings. Brilliant! There were about half a dozen kids using the track, including a gaggle of little girls, leaning on their bikes by the roundabout, deep in some discussion or argument.

Bike track for kids to learn the road rules - Brilliant! (photo by John)

We stopped for a bit at a bench by the pond, to eat our brought snack – apple slices and a Whittaker’s mini slab (the best chocolate!). Then we pointed our bikes back for the return journey. Another hour of sustained cycling – good exercise, but my knees and tail were starting to feel a bit abused by the time we got back to the car. We’d done 24 kms in two hours.

The pond in Harcourt Park (photo by John)

After John had got himself changed out of his cycling shorts and into some decent trousers, we headed to the Dowse Art Museum in Lower Hutt. We had a late lunch in the café before having a look at a few exhibitions.

My sister, Aimée McLeod, who is a professional potter herself, had been quite impressed with the exhibition of Coromandel potter Barry Brickell’s work, so I was looking forward to seeing it. His pots are very large and masculine, but I didn’t know he had also made ceramic murals which were very intricately detailed. I thought they were very beautiful.

These are BIG pots!
Ceramic mural by Barry Brickell (photo by John)

There was a sculpture that looked like a steam engine – Barry is well-known for his love of steam engines and railways – that was astounding in its detail. It also gave me a fright when it suddenly hissed furiously and actually let off some steam!

Ceramic "steam engine" (photo by John)

Along from that exhibition, there was a display of ceramic heads which were very recognisable as the band Split Enz. It was a work by Paul Rayner, from the Dowse permanent collection.

Ceramic "Split Enz" by Paul Rayner

We also had a look at a retrospective exhibition of the work of Kobi Bosshard, a Swiss-born NZ contemporary jeweller, which shows his development as an artist and his experiments with his materials. Very beautiful. I wouldn’t mind having one or two of those pieces.

Silver necklaces by Kobi Bosshard

All together, a very enjoyable afternoon. Some physical activity, sunshine and a bit of culture – what more could you want!

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