Last week I was surfing the Internet and came across a headline proclaiming autism and circumcision are linked. I couldn’t help myself. I laughed out loud.
In no certain order, I have read the following explanations for autism over the years:
Autism is caused by mercury.
Autism is caused by lead.
Autism begins with poor maternal bonding.
Certain pesticides may trigger autism.
Gluten aggravates autism spectrum disorder.
People with autism should eat more strawberries.
Too much automotive exhaust is a leading cause of autism.
Chemicals found on non-stick cookware may trigger autism.
The one about maternal bonding is sort of painful for me. The truth is, I did have a hard time bonding with infant Jack. The little guy shrieked and whined and cried for a solid year. He started sleeping through the night at six weeks, and stopped at three months.
So I like roses. And trees. And water features. And ducklings. I really like seeing people outside with their families and hearing their children giggle and seeing them enjoy fresh air and down time.
This combination of things that I really like culminated in a great wave of wonderful on a hot day in early January when I stumbled across Queens park in New Zealand’s Southern-most city.
Invercargill, or Invergiggle as it is sometimes known, has a population of just over 50,000 residents. There must be 50,000 residents to be considered a city, so this gorgeous wee settlement just sneaks in over the wire.
I have also always had a soft spot for the underdog. Invercargill is the brunt of more than a few jokes here in NZ, and as I talked and posted about the fabulous time I was having there, many people seemed confounded or disagreed.
We had the opportunity to see dozens of towns and cities from the top to the bottom of New Zealand, but Invercargill stands out as a truly sweet and lovely place and I am excited to go back again the same time next year.
We stayed at the Victoria Station Hotel. It is one of the oldest buildings in the city and oozes with character. Our hosts were gracious, funny, kind, and above all exceptionally interesting. They told us the story of the building and its many previous owners and incarnations. Unfortunately they did not have a cool ghost story for me regarding the hotel. Ah well. Can’t have it all I suppose.
We met with representatives from the Invercargill Vegan Society who were fresh faced, healthy and enthusiastic about our electric cars. We had a strong common bond in our concern for sustainability (social and environmental). They are better at walking the talk than I am, but that is kind of a common theme with almost everyone I met. I talk a lot more than I walk apparently. Sigh.
Where was I?
How I fell deeply and eternally in Love with this quaint and beautiful little city.
While Grumpy was parked up showing the cars to people, Ginell and I took the time to go exploring the park. We opted to stay there and enjoy some time with James in the park while the team went down to Bluff to do their scheduled photo-shoot.
Queens Park is veiled in a bit of magic. It is quite perfectly planned, marvelously manicured, inarguably interesting, and most importantly pleasantly populated by polite people.
I proper loved it!
I also found out that the reason that the Invercargill has such amazing facilities and infrastructure is partly owing to some very old legislation that does not allow profit through the sale of alcohol, rather, all of the revenue generated from the sale of booze must be returned to the community. Or something like that… At any rate, it is a hard working, hard playing kind of place and there is a tuition free polytech that attracts people young and old there to study, so suffice to say, a bit of revenue gets generated as people blow off steam after study or slogging it out at work.
Ginell and I took our friend Nick out for some drinks and contributed to this kitty. We had a great night, and laughed until our ribs and cheeks hurt. Only had 4 or so drinks each, so it was a responsible but fantastic evening.
If you have not been to Invercargill, put it on your bucket list. It is a lovely place filled with lovely people. If you end up there for work or just passing through (as we did) consider yourself lucky, and jump into this quaint and quirky little city with both feet.
You know that tired you get when you’ve been on the road, or kept up by a newborn most of the night, or working to an important deadline for days or even weeks on end?
Yeah, we are feeling that brand of tired.
Arrived home to a spotlessly clean house. The gardens are lush and beautiful and will be bursting with produce soon. Our house sitter is amazing and we’d be honoured to have her back any time! Today I must make time to go and replenish our pantry and fridge.
And once all this domestic stuff is done…
Official planning for next year’s event begins.
Next year, around the same time as we went from Cape to Bluff, we’d like to have an EV rally that follows more or less the same route as the iconic Kiwi Film Goodbye Pork Pie.
People will be able to join the convoy for one or more parts of the journey and we have already secured a little bit of funding for prizes and promotion.
I’ve been watching and listening to the film in the background while writing this blog and checking my emails. Amazing how much has changed, and also how much has not.
So, if you have taken the time to read this, and you live in NZ and would like to help out with or participate in any part of the rally we’re planning, drop me a line and I’ll put you on the mailing list.
If our trip this year is indication, it will be a fabulously fun time, with the added bonus of continuing the important social, economic and environmental message that #LeadingTheCharge is sharing with all of the New Zealand.
Charging – We want to encourage private and public entities to roll out practical charging infrastructure all through New Zealand. The ultimate goal is a robust network that will allow even a short-range commuter vehicle like the Leaf to travel comfortably from the top of the North Island to the bottom of the South Island with charging access 24/7.
Driving – We want people to get into Electric Vehicles. Test-drives, car sharing, renting, owning. We don’t care how you do it; we just want people in these cars.
Teaching – There are so many untruths circulating about EV (electric vehicle) technology. We want to share true, well-researched and transparent messages about EV and all the benefits of EV ownership for individuals and New Zealand as a whole.
We would also be honoured to see you and have you come and check out the cars and talk to some EV enthusiasts down at Aotea Square in the city on Sunday from 1-4 pm. We can tell you a bit more about the planned rally next year, and we even have a cache of T-shirts that we held back to distribute at our home-coming event.
Hope to see you there! Here is the link for the event on FaceBook:
Always, always, A-L-W-A-Y-S be gracious, and if you can’t then at least be brief and kind.
However, I strongly feel that if you are gracious and genuinely interested in people, you give yourself a much better chance of meeting fascinating and wonderful humans that will teach you important and poignant lessons.
I have met and re-met some wonderful people while traveling around the country over the past few weeks.
The story I want to share briefly is about a slightly scruffy, bushy bearded, one-eyed man.
We are in Christchurch.
Steve and Nick went to a gathering at Duncan and Thea’s seriously sustainable and super fabulous house in Tai Tapu. This couple is gorgeous, and funny, and warm and really walking the talk of sustainability. It was humbling to see how much they do and realize how much more I could be doing.
So at this point I am absolutely knackered, but I have to eat so I arranged to have everyone meet at the local pub for a quick bite so I could go to bed early after I unsuccessfully attempted to have a nap earlier in the day.
While we were waiting for our food to arrive, a little old man rocked up to the table.
He was in a stripy polo shirt and dress pants that you could tell had been worn in a workshop or whilst tinkering with engines or wood or something.
His hands were knobbly and he had whisps of silver hair on his head and a bushy salt and pepper beard.
He stopped when he saw the Tesla, as he’d been attempting to make it to the catch up at our friends’ farm earlier that day, but got quite lost.
I took him for a ride and he started to tell me a bit about himself.
He is a genius. A dottery, sweet, kind, eccentric, beautiful GENIUS!
He makes musical instruments, he was responsible for the NEEV truck (which was full electric and way ahead of its time), he has raised his own children and a number of adopted and fostered children as well.
He is kind, sweet, brilliant and delectably different.
So many people might have dismissed him if he had approached them and interrupted their dinner, and I am so unreservedly relieved I did not.
He joined us for a cup of tea and some pudding while we had our dinners. I chatted at length to him about his children, and foster children and his many instruments and inventions.
His name is Kay. And he is richer than most in experience, warmth and intellect. He called it a “picture memory” for electronics and engineering.
Beyond his staggering smarts, I was blown away by his kindness. His warmth came through in his many stories. This man has lived so many lifetimes and touched so many people. He is not an eccentric millionaire type, he’s been broken down and reduced to the bare necessities of life time and again, yet he remains full of joy and positivity.
Taking him for a spin in the Tesla and having him join us for dinner left him buzzing. Meeting him left me humbled and gave me plenty of food for thought.
So the only thing I want to leave you with today is this:
Everyone has a story. You will be the one that benefits if you take the time to listen to someone who wants to tell you theirs.
I look very forward to being in touch with Kay and am so pleased he enjoyed his time with us last night, as we all very much enjoyed meeting him.
We’re tired. We are tired and we have started to argue. We are tired, we have started to argue, and I am dropping a lot of balls and letting people down as we traverse this beautiful country.
I called my mother while on the road from Christchurch to Oamaru where we are staying tonight. She asked if we were accomplishing what we set out to do. And after much careful deliberation, I decided that yes, yes we are doing what we set out to do.
This road trip is the first public step in a journey of a thousand miles to bring electric vehicle (EV) uptake to a tipping point in New Zealand.
The whole reason for this trip was to dispel myths, talk to as many people as possible about EV and what it means for Kiwi households and our country in general. We also wanted to encourage interest and momentum for EV and green tech.
As an added bonus, we are getting to hang out with a bunch of really cool people that we are very fond of. We are learning a lot from people as we go, and hopefully teaching others a thing or two as well.
For those of you reading this that don’t know what we are up to, I’ll sum it up for you here:
Grumpy, myself, our friends Carl and Nick and my old friend Ginell, along with a magnificent motley crew of EV-angelists have joined forces to make a trip from Cape Reinga to Bluff possible over just less than three weeks.
We are gathering beautiful footage of the cars with epic New Zealand landscapes in the background. We are talking to thought leaders, the public, and EV enthusiasts around the country about the fact that full electric vehicles are finally a real option for Kiwis.
The barriers to EV ownership are being removed with great gusto. The reality of owning efficient, quiet, and easier to maintain commuter vehicles has finally arrived. We consider New Zealand to be the most beautiful country on earth, and we think that Kiwis as individuals, and New Zealand as a whole deserves cleaner, cheaper and better transport options, now and into the future.
EV ownership is becoming more achievable every year, with an entry-level vehicle costing as little as $20,000.00. The market will be filling up with more EVs that are New Zealand new, or imported from other places. The other end of the market includes amazing plug in EV from the likes of Tesla and BMW. These can set you back from around $100,000.00 NZD to over $250,000.00 NZD, depending on the options you go for.
But, having driven both the humble Leaf and the Tesla, I can honestly say, the Leaf is just fine and you will be madly in Love with it in no time, and appreciate it as much as any Tesla owner does their luxury car.
Also consider that an EV requires none of the standard servicing of an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle, and all you really need to worry about maintaining and replacing are tires and wind screen wipers, the basic economics stack up pretty quickly in favour of EV rather than ICE cars.
Add energy costs that come in at a fraction of petrol, and a cleaner, less smelly car to run and taking the plunge and owning an EV as a family or commuter vehicle becomes much more appealing.
Average Auckland commuters can essentially be driving a free car after about four or five years time if they buy a $20,000.00 ex-Japan market Nissan Leaf when you consider their cost savings on fuel and maintainance bills.
What exactly is the message we want to share and amplify around NZ by doing this road trip?
Very simply, we want three things to happen now and into the future regarding EV tech:
Charging – We want to encourage private and public enterprise to roll out charging infrastructure all through New Zealand. Our ultimate goal is to have a network of charging facilities so advanced that the humble Nissan Leaf would be able to drive from Cape Reinga to Bluff, fast charging every 100km or so along the way.
Driving – We want people to get into Electric Vehicles. Test-drives, car sharing, renting, owning. We don’t care how you do it, we just want people in these cars.
Teaching – There are so many misunderstandings regarding EV tech. We want to spend the next couple of years sharing true, well-researched and transparent messages about EV and all the benefits there is for individual owners and New Zealand as a whole.
I feel better now that I have written that all down.
Check back in after I have tackled my back-log of press releases.
Thanks for tuning in.
This is where I share opinions and observations about things that happen to the Happy Hobbit family.