Sunday, April 26, 2009

Hotel Inspector. Microwave Bowls and Bisque. Wounded Ginger.

Hotel Inspector, a reality Television show, you have probably seen it, or something like it. Woman in Red, an expert in the hospitality industry, is called to troubleshoot a hotel, boarding establishment, or seedy dive, whose deluded late middle aged owners (who have no previous experience in the Hotel business) have blown their redundancy pay and purchased a large and leaking Establishment, and have gone quietly mad.

Dunedin Prison located behind the Law Courts Building. A sort of "One Stop Shop"!

Piles of teddy bears goggle at the guests (not that there are any) from atop stained beds and dusty cupboards. Frightful patterned wall paper of a bilious hue assists in creating an asylum-like sense of menace to the dining room. Worse of all, the guest bathroom is damp, grimy, and has a window frame growing mushrooms. The floor is exhibiting advanced signs of termite infestation. The shower curtain clings wetly to anyone venturing too close. All this I was thinking about as I struggled with a bucket of warm, disinfectant laden water and a sponge mop, and cleaned, not only the floor of our bathroom, but also the walls, the window frame, and also what I could reach up near the ceiling. Trouble was, even my best efforts left the place looking rather like the "before" state in Hotel Inspector, rather than the "after"! Oh well, at least the flaking paint and damp stains were now sterilized! No woman in Red was expected, but we had some dear friends coming for lunch. There is nothing like having visitors for improving domestic hygiene!

When visitors come to Dunedin, they generally see the Robbie Burns Statue in the Octagon. Like his fellow countryman John Knox, Burns appears here to have been a serious looking fellow, and would have made an intimidating Hotel Inspector!

Visitors also test their tolerance of sugar and other sweet things at the Cadbury's Chocolate factory, who run regular tours.

Many visitors also tour Speights Brewery. If you peer carefully at this photo you will see a large barrel on top of a chimney. That is where to find the brewery.

A look around the Settlers Museum is a great idea. The museum has swallowed up neighbouring buildings, including the art deco styled bus terminus.

Not far from the Settlers Museum is the Dunedin Railway Station

There is a nice, if distant, view of the Railway Station from the Octagon, looking all the way down Lower Stuart Street.

Whilst we are at the Octagon, we could play Chess.

I really like these chess pieces. They appear to be made out of road marker cones, door knobs, and other commonly available things.

I liked the pattern of light and shadow on the side of this building. It gets a bit shaded by some large trees that are planted around First Church.

First Church to me has a rather grim looking exterior, but much friendlier inside, a bit like some kindly Presbyterians!

Buildings that are on street corners are some of my favorites. This one has a little domed tower on the top.

Two more corner buildings with character.

On Tuesday, when I was at the Potter's Co-op doing my day at the gallery there, someone commissioned me to make two bowls. They will be going out of the country early next month. It is a challenge to get things dry here now as it is getting very cold at night and the studio is hard to heat. On Wednesday I made the bowls, and a lot of extras in case of disaster. I turned the foot rings on Thursday, and on Friday I microwaved the bowls a minute at a time from slightly soft leather hard to the beginnings of white hard. I kept going with the microwave until one bowl's foot ring exploded (which is why I made extras). Then I dried the survivors the rest of the way on wire racks that I got from our local shop where Laura has a part time job. I think that the racks had once been used in a fridge unit and the white, plastic coated wire is fairly closely spaced. Most of the time I stack them up with bricks in between as spacers. The bowls are all in the electric kiln now, as I write this, being bisque fired. There are three of my large jugs in with them.

Dunedin Law Courts Building that is opposite the Stuart Street Potter's Co-operative of which I am a member.

We had a rather sleepless night on Thursday. We had been out at a friend's place for the evening and returned home to find our neighbour's cat, Ginger, rather quietly occupying the chair in front of my computer. This was a little unusual as Ginger had been slightly fearful of the chair, which swivels and rocks, but I supposed that he had simply taken a fancy to it. Just before 11pm, as we were about to think about going to bed, Ginger came stiffly into the hall and got himself into the kitchen. It was then that Laura noticed that he was quite badly injured. One back leg having been torn open, exposing muscle, and the other back leg having a small patch of fur and skin missing. It was too late to disturb the neighbours, so we made some attempt to clean the wounds with a tepid saline solution. Ginger was Very well behaved, and tried to co-operate for a while at least. I spent the night curled up with him on our bed, keeping him warm and reassured (he was fairly shocked by the injury, but eventually managed more sleep than me), and Laura slept elsewhere as she had to get a good rest before going to work at the local shop the next day. First thing in the morning we let the neighbour know, who took the cat to the vet. I was worried that Ginger would have to lose a leg, but the vet has managed to stitch things together, so we are hoping that it will heal OK.

A much loved stray kitten that I photographed at a Dunedin Gallery. You are right, it does look like Ginger!

On Tuesday, when I was in Dunedin, I took a few photos of the city. The low winter sun was beautiful, and there were lovely tree shadows thrown onto some of the buildings, as well as other effects of the light and shade. I have put some of the Dunedin photos with this post to give you an idea of what Dunedin in the Deep South of New Zealand looks like.


Arkansas Patti said...

Just love the architecture there Peter. Beautiful buildings. Got to admit I really liked the prison. When a prison looks so grand, you know the builders took pride in their work and design.
Poor little Ginger.he sure knew where to go for help. Of course kicking your wife out of bed to care for the cat may have been a bit much but got to love the effort. Hope the neighbors reimbursed you for the vet bill.

Peter said...

Hi Patti, I would love to be able to borrow the turret from the prison and put it onto our Old Post Office somewhere. Not sure what they will be doing with the prison in the future as a new one has been built at the town of Milton, to the south of Dunedin. People have named the new one the "Milton Hilton", and rumors abound about cost overruns, underfloor central heating, good food, and great TV facilities! Maybe we all envy a little security in these turbulent times!
Regarding Ginger, the neighbours took care of the vet part of the saga.
Best Wishes, P.

Peter said...

An Update on Ginger for Anxious Readers!
This afternoon (Monday) we were in the kitchen, when.... who should come in full of purrs and his usual sparkle? Why, it was Ginger out and about after being incarcerated for the last couple of days at the neighbour's place whilst the wounds had a chance to start to heal. He is doing well. The worst injured leg looks like a chicken leg, it is so thin without fur, and with the loss of some structural bulk, but he is full of fun. It made us so happy to see him again.

Linda Starr said...

Thanks for the tour, beautiful architecture and history there. It's been so long since I've been to a city, your photos have made me feel a little isolated from civilization out here in the country. So glad Ginger is ok, seems as if Ginger naturally knew where to go for help. I still can't believe you microwave your wares, the ideas seems rather shocking, but is so creative of you to do so. What type of clay are you using? not porcelain?

Jewels said...

Very glad to hear Ginger's leg is healing. Dunedin has some beautiful architecture! My favorite is the prison as well. I will have to take a picture of our local prison for comparison. : ) I had no idea you could dry pots in the microwave – I have used a hairdryer when pressed for time. How are your test glazes holding up? I really like the creamy green gloss glaze over the terracotta. I hope it still hasn’t crazed. Both Patti and I got a kick out of the comment you left me. Take care and sleep well.

Peter said...

Hi Linda and Jewels,nice to hear from you both.

Glad you enjoyed the city tour. I really like Dunedin and I'll put some more photos of the city on my blog one day soon. Dunedin is right beside a lovely harbour, and there are hills up behind the city that add their own rugged beauty.

Regarding the use of a microwave (by a potter who likes to wood fire and uses kick wheel..!!), I probably should include a little history of my use of it (it had a desperate and amusing beginning), and a very careful "how to" for the brave and foolhardy (children don't try this at home, ask an adult first!). I'll give some more details on my next post.
I use it very occasionally, and have never tried it on complicated forms, or things with handles. Tiles, both earthenware and in my rather open,sandy stoneware work really well. I would be very careful with "tight" clays. And very careful with all clays!

The creamy green gloss glaze over terracotta is going OK, no crazing.

I'm off now to glaze 40 plus coffee mugs, and I'll be unpacking the microwaved bowls from their bisque firing.

Best Wishes, P.

paul jessop said...

Hi Peter, the pics are great, I was under the impression that ginger was after the mouse on your computer, until the injury was discovered.
looks like a great place.

Peter said...

Hi Paul, really good to hear from you. It wouldn't surprise me if Ginger was after the computer mouse, he is a great hunter, but a little undiscriminating. He bagged a butterfly today with a swift left hook, and he will eat flies! P.

Anonymous said...

I'm very interested in your microwave drying process. Can you post more detail ? My wife does pottery classes with children and between those and commissions, we have increasing problems with drying shelf space. I'd love to hear more details on what you have learned !

Peter said...

Hello Anonymous, Welcome to my site. I will gladly post more detail about the microwave process. I know what you mean about problems with finding drying shelf space! Just a bit busy over next couple of days with the exhibition on in Dunedin, but will try and catch up with your inquiry as soon as I can. P.