Greeting loyal readers and fellow maremmas. Now as you all know, aunty likes to go off and ski in interesting parts of the world. Rather her than Us, for We do not like snow. It is cold and as loyal readers know We three do not like getting our fur and paws cold.
In January this year, aunty travelled to Iraqi to go skiing. Here is an article about her time there, from the Guardian
‘For those who want to just ski a nice piste, have a beer, then go to a disco, it’s probably not so appealing.” James Willcox, co-founder of adventure travel company Untamed Borders, is talking about who might – and would definitely not – be interested in its latest offering: a ski tour of Iraq.
In January, Untamed Borders ran what was “probably the first ever commercial ski trip” to the country, taking a group of six intrepid travellers to the region around Mount Halgurd in the north-east of Iraq, three hours’ drive from Mosul and 500km north of Baghdad. Flying in to the city of Ebril (via Istanbul) they spent two weeks ski-touring this part of Iraqi Kurdistan, through landscapes rarely seen by western travellers.
The ski season might be coming to a close, but if you’re looking for a trip for 2018 that’s got a little more edge to it than a week in a chalet in Chamonix, then this could be for you.
Willcox and his team have years of experience organising tours to less-travelled countries such as Uzbekistan and Somalia, and this tour was led by a guide who has previously led skiers in Afghanistan. The tour cost $2,400 for 10 days, excluding flights.
The tour group skied Choman and Mount Halgurd in January, while boarding with a local family. It also visited Penjwen, near the city of Sulaymaniyah, which has a nordic ski club, and the Korek Mountain, a “tiny” ski resort with a gondola, which was celebrating its annual Snow Festival.
Still, as one would expect, skiing in Iraq comes with its own unique challenges. The Foreign Office advises against all travel to much of the country, and all but essential travel to the rest. As a result, many insurance policies are void, but Untamed Borders is able to recommend companies that still offer cover.
“You have all the usual issues of skiing, but also need to avoid landmines, and unexploded ordnance from the 1980s near the Iraq-Iran border,” says Willcox. “You can’t get too close. But we work with local partners, guides in the area who know this, who know the areas you can’t ski for various reasons. We also use GPS, so if there’s a whiteout you don’t stray from where you’re meant to go.”
Not surprisingly, Mike Hinckley, 56, one of the skiers who joined January’s tour, had his reservations. Among them he listed “Islamic State, ongoing aspects of war and the perception that I, as a US citizen, might not be exactly welcome.” But he was drawn in by the opportunity to ski in a place where “virtually no one, if anyone, has ever skied before”. He admits it was frustrating at times, having to work around the “logistical, social or administrative limitations” of skiing in a country with a completely different set of safety concerns to a regular mountain zone, but it was about more than just the skiing.
“When we attended the Korek Snow Festival, we interacted with so many people (and TV personalities), and they seemed so happy to meet us, talk and take selfies with us – that was wild,” says Hinckley. “At that moment, the skiing almost became secondary.”
• untamedborders.com, details of the 2018 trip will be on the website in April
Greeting loyal readers and fellow maremmas. Now that mummy has new glasses she can see all sorts of things that she might have missed with her old glasses.
Dirt, dogfur and cobwebs. When she was outside yesterday morning, she noticed this strange bird up in the big elm tree. She rushed inside to grap the camera and surprisingly enough the bird was still in the tree when she returned. After consulting Dr Google, she discoverted the bird was a White-faced heron.
Would you like to see some photos? Of course, you would.
And what were the Three bestest maremmas in all the land doing? Why, We were having our after morning dinner nap.
Greeting loyal readers and fellow maremmas. Mummy found the following article on a place called “Stuff“. We three do not know of this place, but mummy says it is full of news and other stuff and you can while away a few hours. We hope you enjoy reading about all the doggy statues there are in New Zealand. Love the three bestest maremmas in all the land.
Barks in bronze: The dog statues of NZ
The other day I saw a dog sculpture in a little New Zealand town (more on that below). And I wondered, how many other pieces of public art are dotted around New Zealand that feature a dog?
Well I looked into it. And I discovered that there are a lot – you could do a Dog Sculpture Tour of New Zealand and be busy for weeks.
Why so many? I think it’s because dogs are deeply imbedded in life in this country. Farming, hunting, exploration, the outdoors – dogs helped build this country! You couldn’t record or celebrate life in New Zealand without giving dogs their due.
And I’m glad that, in terms of public art, we do.
Probably the most photographed dog statue in New Zealand is the Sheepdog Memorial at Lake Tekapo. It has stood since 1968 as a memorial to the dogs who helped form and keep alive the farms of New Zealand. The bronze statue is fittingly glorious, depicting a border collie (the breed brought from Scotland by 19th-century settlers) atop a rock with head high and ears cocked.
The Tekapo collie was created by sculptor Innes Elliott, basing his work on a sheepdog named Haig.
Not too far away, if you’re spending a weekend visiting dog statues, is the one of James Mackenzie and his dog Friday, in the town of Fairlie. Mackenzie was the supposed sheep rustler who kept escaping custody in the 1850s and disappearing into the great expanse of land that now carries his name.
The statue of a drover and his dog in Feilding doesn’t mark a specific life, but locals see it as a landmark that captures the spirit of their farming district. The statue, by John Fuller, was featured as one of a series of New Zealand stamps a few years ago, putting it on a level with Ohakune’s carrot and Te Puke’s kiwifruit.
Many of the rural dogs depicted in these sculptures are collies. But in the almost-aptly named North Island town of Hunterville, you’ll find a shrine to the other breed that helped build the country’s early farms – the huntaway. The sculpture, installed in 1999, is low enough for flesh-and-blood dogs to climb up and share their bronze pal’s view.
As far as I can tell, huntaways didn’t originate in Hunterville, but the town has proclaimed itself Huntaway Capital of the World. And why not? The town hosts a yearly Huntaway Festival that includes obstacle courses (humans plus dogs) and a barking competition (strictly dogs).
By the way, I’ve been meaning to say… why doesn’t Treasury put a huntaway on a bank note? Is anyone with me on this?
Back to sculpture. Last year, a statue in recognition of Antarctic sled dogs was installed in Lyttelton. The sculpture, by Mark Whyte, celebrates the contribution to the port town of the exploration of Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. “The Sled Dog symbolises the courage and comradeship of all those involved in this continuing endeavour,” the plaque says.
Quite a few statues mark the closeness of human and dog, either generally or specifically. In Hastings stands a statue of the prominent citizen William Nelson, hatted and bearded, with his eager dog a foot or two away.
With this sculpture, by artists Gillie and Marc, you can actually go up and be alongside the figures – plinths seem to have gone out of fashion in public sculpture, in favour of human-scale closeness.
The sculpture “Barry, a Kiwi Bloke” in Katikati is one of the interactive sort. The bloke of the title sits on a park bench, reading a newspaper. If you like, you can sit next to him. On the other side of Barry is Jack, his dog. The low-key artwork was made by Donald Paterson, Barry Menzies and Mick Cassidy.
One of my favourite dog-plus-human artworks is in central Wellington. At the entrance to the alley that takes you up the Plimmer Steps is a bronze of the man for whom the steps were named, John Plimmer. Running next to him is his little dog Fritz, tail and ears flying.
Unlike the other statues, in this one the human and the dog are looking at each other, and so close as to be made in a single piece. If you sit at the Starbucks on the opposite side of Lambton Quay, you’ll see passing tourists taken by surprise by this very human, delightful sculpture, and stopping to take photos and pose with it.
John Plimmer and Fritz was created by Tom Tischler, Ross Wilson and Judy Alexander, and unveiled in 1996.
I also like A Wave in Time, a statue by Mark Whyte that stands in Napier’s shopping centre. It shows an elegant woman striding along with an adoring greyhound in tow.
The woman is modelled on Sheila Williams, who led the New Napier Week Carnival in 1933 to mark the city’s recovery from the earthquake of 1931.
The sculpture, unveiled in 2010, reflects Napier’s embracing of its art deco heritage. The city’s mayor praised the work and pointed out, for the benefit of any critic, that “the dog is securely on a lead”. More a preoccupation nowadays than in 1933, probably…
Another great example of human-scale, or dog-scale, public art is in Tauranga: the set of sculptures based on Lynley Dodd’s characters: Hairy Maclary, Bitzer Maloney, Bottomley Potts, Hercules Morse and others. Brigitte Wuest brought the characters to life and they’ve been installed at a place where children can pretend the cartoon creatures are part of their games.
Then there’s Wal and Dog from Footrot Flats. You can stand with the Murray Ball characters at a park in Gisborne, where they were placed last year after Weta Workshop created them.
I suppose the worst case scenario with accessible public art is that, well, someone will nick it. That’s what happened to one of three bronze corgis after the Christchurch earthquake of 2011. Sculptor David Marshall had to remake one of the dogs before the set could be put back on the High Street site they’d occupied since 2003.
Dogs have inspired less literal, more abstract art works. In Dunedin, Stephen Mulqueen’s Kuri/Dog sculpture is shaped from railway-sleeper-type pieces and set on tracks – but the canine spirit is still in it.
In Hamilton, visit the Tongue of the Dog statue – though it might take you a moment to cotton on to its abstract shape. It represents the loving spirit of a servant dog who, according to a Maori legend, saved his human’s life by cutting a path for curative waters to flow from the land of her birth to reach her; that waterway became the Waikato River. The tall sculpture is by Michael Parekowhai, and stands at the entrance to Waikato Museum.
Also in Hamilton for dog-statue completists is a statue depicting a farming family: a man and woman carrying young children, and standing with a cow, a sheep and a sheepdog. Sir Robert Jones donated the work to the city in 1990.
Occasionally, a sculpture is dedicated to one certain dog. An example is the one devoted to Rajah the wonder dog, in Methven at the entrance of the Mr Hutt Function Centre. The artist, again, was David Marshall.
According to a local website, Rajah was owned by police constable Robbie Robertson and lived in Methven from 1929 to 1936. Though Rajah was never an official police dog, he was famed for being able to find lost objects and understand commands.
In the south Taranaki town of Manaia in 2007, a little Jack Russell terrier named George became a hero when he fought a pair of pitbulls that were threatening a group of five children. His attempts to protect the children meant the dogs attacked him, and afterwards he had to be put down.
George received two medals in posthumous recognition of his bravery, one of them bestowed on his owner by the then governor-general.
Now, a bronze statue to George stands in Manaia.
Harawene was the name given to a stray dog who lived for 15 years by the side of Te Ngae Road in Rotorua. She was “nobody’s dog”, but everybody around knew her, and many helped care for her.
After she vanished from sight in 2008, local sculptor Trevor Nathan went to work on a memorial sculpture. It now stands next to the street where Harawene was often seen.
There’s one more dog statue I want to mention. It has its own category, and I saw it for the first time last week in the town of Te Aroha. It’s a giant bronze steampunk Dachshund that serves as a bicycle stand and drinking fountain; surplus water dribbles out its bronze “pizzle”.
I loved it, and not only because it features my favourite dog breed. It’s fun, and it does a job. I had to dig around for details about it – the Piako Post reported that it’s the work of sculptor Adrian Worsley and is part of a push by Te Aroha to become New Zealand’s most cycle-friendly town.
Dog sculptures – are there any I’ve missed?
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Greeting loyal readers and fellow maremmas. Now as you all know, our sister is a u-ni-ver-sity student, up in a place called A-uck-land. We three do not know of this place, but mummy says it is far, far away and We would not like it there. Too much traffic and not enough tasty treats. So, on Saturday they loaded up the 4 x 4, left Us three in the tender, loving care of Auntie (yes, she is back from foreign parts) and went off to take her back to u-ni-ver-sity.
It is a long way to A-uck-land from the sunny Mangamahu valley. Mummy didn’t take too many photos as she took lots of that part of the country, when they went to collect Itai last year. You can see some of them here:
But you would like to see some of the photos, mummy took of this trip. Of course you do. Enjoy. Love the three bestest maremmas in all the land.
On the way home, mummy and daddy visited mummy’s aunt and uncle in a place called WhitiangaWhitianga is on the Coromandal pensiular and is very popular as a holiday town in the summer.
Greeting loyal readers and fellow maremmas. Now as you all know when mummy and daddy first came to live in the sunny Mangamahu Valley, they planted a number of fruit trees and two nut trees: an almond and a hazelnut. Unfortunately, the almond tree did not thrive, but the hazelnut tree did. Now in it’s seventh season the hazelnut is producing lots of nuts daily.
|2 Tbsp||Olive oil|
|2 cloves||Garlic cloves|
|350 g||Chorizo sausages|
|20 g||Unsalted butter|
|4||Fish fillets, 180g/fillet|
|1 to taste||Salt|
| Lemon, juice
Greeting loyal readers and fellow maremmas. Now as you all know We live in the countryside. As the locals would say, We live in the “wop wops“. Far, far away from any city amenities, such as water. We rely upon a combination of tank and bore water for our water needs. A 30,000l tank supplies the house with water for everything expect the toilets and outside taps, which come from the bore. The bore also supplies the household needs of two of our neighbours, as well as a number of stock troughs. Over the last week it was apparent that there was a problem with bore water supply. So it was D.I.Y Daddy to the rescue.
Firstly, the suspected leak had to be located. Our property has been in existence for over 150 years and there are pipes all over the place. No-one alive knows what pipe goes where, which makes life rather difficult.
There it was lurking behind the old water tower.
After two days of digging and two visits to the local plumbing and drainage shop, and a quick crash course in do it yourself plumbing, daddy managed to fix the leak, reattached the pipes to the correct connection and Volia it was all done!!
Me and Nellie having a look see at what is happening.
Greeting loyal readers and fellow maremmas. Now as you all know, it is supposed to be summer here in the sunny Mangamahu valley. Not that you would know judging from the wind, rain and cold temperatures that We have been experiencing lately. However, it looks like summer may have decided to join Us over the last few days. Needless to say the last days of summer makes daddy’s thoughts turn to preserving summer produce. This year, like last year they brought 20 kgs (44 lbs) of tomatoes for the princely sum of $20 for daddy to put into jars. Would you like to see photos, of course you would.
And what were the three bestest maremmas in all the land doing. Why having their pre-morning dinner nap. Love Nellie, Jasper and Itai.
Greeting loyal readers and fellow maremmas. We three were sad to learn of the passing over the Rainbow Bridge of Odball, a world famous maremma.
12.20PM: Warrnambool’s former tourism services manager Peter Abbott has described how the story of Oddball tugged at heartstrings across the world.
He said there were a number of Qantas passengers on international flights to Australia who changed their travel plans to visit Warrnambool and the home of the pioneering Maremma.
“When I was there we had people changing their travel patterns because they had seen the movie on their flight,” Mr Abbott said.
He joked Oddball took the glory for the work the other Maremmas had kept up.
“We always laughed that Oddball took all the glory and our current dogs have been doing it for nine years and Oddball was only on the island for two weeks,” Mr Abbott said.
He said the international interest in Oddball’s story was astonishing.
“We had 43 different media visits in the year leading up to the movie,” Mr Abbott said.
He admitted Oddball was at times “cantankerous”, refusing to come out from under the house during media visits.
Mr Abbott said the movie had boosted the city’s tourism numbers, with visitor nights in the city up by 23 per cent in the past calendar year.
He said he believed the movie would continue to bring visitors to the city, with it being released in the US in February this year.
“I have always said it is going to have a long shelf life,” Mr Abbott said.
The Warrnambool City Council fielded inquiries from around the world from other cities hoping to introduce a similar protection program, Mr Abbott said.
The best news?
“We haven’t had a fox on the island since Oddball first went onto it,” Mr Abbott said.
He said the Warrnambool Coastcare Landcare Network was raising $20,000 to continue its penguin monitoring project.
He urged residents to support their fund-raiser by visiting the Middle Island – Maremma Penguin Project Facebook page.
NOON: Actor Shane Jacobson, who starred in the movie Oddball, has also expressed his sadness at hearing the news.
“The film Oddball was a great Australian story, but the applause truly belongs to that wonderful dog Oddball,” Mr Jacobson said.
“The animal kingdom has lost one of its gentle bodyguards. RIP Oddball.”
Mr Jacobson went on to purchase hsi own Maremma after filming Oddball.
11.45AM: Richard Keddie, the producer of Oddball, has expressed his sadness at the passing of the inspirational dog.
“It’s incredibly sad,” Mr Keddie said.
“She and Swampy are heroes. Oddball is such an inspiration for what’s possible.
“Oddball sort of changed the world a little bit.”
Mr Keddie said he supported the idea of a statue to be erected in Oddball’s honour.
He first heard of the story of Oddball when a mate read about the dog protecting penguins in Warrnambool on the back of a tram ticket.
“A friend of mine – Steve Kearney – had his kids on holiday about nine or 10 years ago. Tram tickets at the time had a little story on the back and on his was the story of Oddball,” Mr Keddie said.
He said the story was a case of when the truth is stranger than fiction.
“When I first went to the island it felt sort of too crazy to imagine,” Mr Keddie said.
“The fact that Swampy did that is kind of ridiculous.
“You couldn’t possibly make this story up and you couldn’t make Swampy up.”
Mr Keddie said he had not seen Oddball for a couple of years, but said he was a beautiful dog.
“He was a very calm, very happy dog,” he said.
Mr Keddie admitted it was a challenge working with all the animals involved in the film.
“I have worked with animals before but not foxes and chickens and penguins and dogs,” he laughed.
11.30AM: Warrnambool mayor Kylie Gaston believes a statue of Oddball opposite Middle Island would be a fitting tribute to the late canine.
“I’m aware there are quite a few people who think it would be a good idea to have some sort of sculpture, perhaps across from the island and perhaps this is the impetus for that,” Councillor Gaston said.
She said it would be great for visitors to be able to take a photo with a statue of the iconic dog.
“We are indebted to Oddball,” Cr Gaston said.
“I think we need to acknowledge her for the work he did in turning our penguin population around.
“Our thoughts are with Swampy Marsh as well. Oddball was his loyal dog for many years.”
The dog that helped put Warrnambool on the map has passed away.
Oddball the Maremma dog died last week at the respectable age of 15 years, or 105 years in human terms.
Oddball’s pioneering role as a guardian of the fairy penguins on Warrnambool’s Middle Island was portrayed in the movie “Oddball” that has been screened internationally.
Oddball’s owner Allan “Swampy” Marsh said the dog, who was female and not male as portrayed in the move, died on his Dennington farm where she had lived for the past three years.
He said she had a heart condition for the past three to four years that had slowed her down.
Oddball’s pioneering role in protecting the Middle Island penguins was a “cameo” role.
She only stayed on the island for three weeks before she got too lonely and swam back to shore to return home.
However her short stint was enough to prove to the doubters that Mr Marsh’s unorthodox idea that Maremma dogs would protect penguins was worth pursuing.
Older dogs and with a partner were later placed on the island to give them a more enjoyable time and discourage them from fleeing to the mainland in search of company.
Mr Marsh said Oddball was chosen for the ground-breaking role because she was an easy-going dog who mollified initial concerns the Maremmas might attack people.
But while she was easy-going with people, Mr Marsh said Oddball was a hard worker at night, scaring off foxes and other predators that had almost wiped out Middle Island’s penguin population.
He said after her crusading role, Oddball went to his poultry farm at Purnim where she guarded chickens for much of her life before returning to Dennington for her final years.
Mr Marsh said the Oddball movie had spread the dog’s name around the world and he had approached Warrnambool City Council with a proposal to change Middle Island’s name to Oddball Island to honour the dog’s role.