Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Emails That Don't Work With Images Disabled

I receive rather a lot of marketing emails these days. Much of it comes from companies with whom I have had some dealings in the past and who have therefore put me on their mailing list. While not exactly spam, it generally isn't particularly interesting to me either. The senders obviously put a lot of work into making their emails look good, by which I mean that they eschew textual content in favour of a large and presumably beautiful image in the centre of the email. This would be great, were it not for the fact Gmail sensibly doesn't display images by default and I have no inclination to turn them on. Most marketing email looks like this to me (with apologies to the company that send this particular email):

That email went straight into my spam folder, which I felt bad about because they were probably a reputable company but not sufficiently obviously so to trust the unsubscribe link. It probably didn't make any difference but it's definitely something to bear in mind when sending marketing emails.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Testing 123

I wonder if my phone will successfully post to Blogger.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Mount Taranaki

Way back in December, we visited Mount Taranaki, a dormant volcano in New Zealand's North Island; although it hasn't had a major eruption since 1655, it is apparently due to errupt any time now. As we approached it, we could start to see its shape forming menacingly in the distance.

When we finally it, we were rather disappointed for a number of reasons. Firstly, we had been expecting some kind of hellish volcanic landscape. What we got was a perfectly normal, grassy (albeit volcano-shaped) hill. Secondly, we couldn't actually get all that close without spending all day hiking. Thirdly, we could only see a fraction of it, the top part being hidden by the cloud:

Hannah found a big Maori totem pole. I can't remember what the correct name for one of these is.

Instead of hiking up the mountain, we decided to visit the supposedly very impressive Dawson Falls instead. On the way, we encountered what claimed to be the world's oldest continuously operating hydro-electric power station.

We followed the stream down on the way to the falls:

The falls were quite impressive and there was the opportunity to get pretty close to them.

According to some Maori legend or other, a Maori warrior was being chased by a band of other Maori warriors and managed to evade his pursuers by hiding behind the waterfall until they had gone past. I can't really see that working but never mind.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Geothermal Power!

While travelling between Taupo and Rotorua, we passed a geothermal power plant. Naturally, I did my best to get a picture of this, which didn't do justice to its awesomeness:


We spent Christmas in Motueka, just outside Abel Tasman National Park. Alas, we don't have pictures of either the park or our amazing Christmas dinner of beef olives and mashed potato. Still, we do have a few pictures of the beautiful scenery nearby.

This is a view from the lookout point to the north of the town, looking back towards Motueka. Beyond the town can be seen the Tasman Bay and, beyond that, lies the very pleasant city of Nelson.

The rocks near the lookout point were very interesting. From what we read, it sounds like the rocks were shaped by rainwater that sank through the soil, becoming acidic on the way, before partially dissolving the rocks and making them look like miniature versions of some of the hills that we saw in New Zealand.


On the way from Taranaki to Taupo, we stopped for a couple of days to visit the Waitomo caves, a system of caves notable for the glow worms that live within. We went round on a guided tour, finishing with a boat ride through a pitch black flooded passageway. Here is a picture of the opening from which we finally emerged:

We went for a wander around some of the surrounding countryside. Very weird it was, too:


On the way from Taupo to Rotorua, we stopped at the excellent Waikite Vallley Thermal Pools. These are some thermal pools fed by a boiling spring. The pools were great fun (and free to anyone camping at the adjoining campsite):

The spring itself was amazing, with boiling water gushing out of the ground. It was hard to get a good picture of the spring due to all the steam.

As the stream flows down the valley, minerals can be seen that have been deposited as the water, still close to boiing point, evaporates:

The vegetation around the stream looked rather unusual.

We were told that some of the ferns in the area are only found here and in the Amazon Rainforest.

The folks who operate the spa were in the rather unusual situation of having to find a way to cool the water down to a bearable temperature. They did so using this contraption:

Some of the water then flows into the spa pools, still steaming:

Waikite was a great place to stay. We tried to stay another night but, annoyingly, the xampsite was fully booked.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Cape Reinga

Towards the end of our trip to New Zealand, we visited Cape Reinga, the John O'Groats of New Zealand:

Being a much-visited place, it has an obligatory signpost:

In common with John O'Groats, it isn't the most northly point in New Zealand; that point lies a few miles to the east:

This is the place where the Pacific meets the Tasman Sea. We were told that the waves from those two bodies of water sometimes crash together violently. Alas, it was pretty calm when we visited:

This being (nearly) the very north of New Zealand, the local flora was starting to look very tropical. The contrast between the vegetation here and that in the south was striking.

One particular piece of vegetation was, we learned, sacred to the local Maori population:

One of the nearby islands was, apparently, a haven for indigenous wildlife:

The view from our campsite wasn't bad either:

Alas, we couldn't spend much time in this area and headed back to Auckland quickly, to get ready for our flight to Singapore.

Puhi Puhi Scenic Reserve

Way back in December, we spent a night at Puhi Puhi Scenic Reserve DOC campsite near Kaikoura. The campsite itself was unremarkable and rather busy, now that the school holidays have started. The surrounding area was, as usual, rather picturesque. We were near the Hapuku river, which runs through a gorge with steep rocky sides.

The river's tributary, the Clinton River, also seemed to be housed in similar gorges which were beautiful and also annoying since they made the river itself frustratingly innaccessible.

The rocks lining the gorge were interesting. Notice how the strata are almost vertical, indicative of some "geological stuff" having happened at some point:

As we drove away, we noticed some other interesting rocks which Hannah was kind enough to park next to so I could take a picture.

When we reached Kaikoura, our plans were yet again cussed by the weather; strong winds made sailing conditions treacherous and all whale watching trips were cancelled. With just a few days to go before Christmas, we headed off to the Marlborough Sounds instead.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Botanic Gardens, Singapore

While in Singapore a few months ago, we visited the Botanic Gardens. Here are some pictures, which I am currently too lazy to write about: