Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Whangarei --- a city of surprises

   I've been fortunate to take a mini break in Whangarei with my husband. We sold a lovely deco sideboard to a lady from there and decided to take an extra day with our days off and spend a couple of nights there. What an interesting city.
    Always before I've been on my way to somewhere not as a destination in itself.
    I can't resist secondhand shops and found a few interesting ones and true to form took a van load back home for our shop. I've always found the best buys out of other people's shops.
    We spent an enjoyable few hours in Clapham's Clock Museum at the town basin. What an amazing collection. Mr Clapham gifted his collection of four hundred clocks to the city and they have added to the collection and now have over 1800 clocks. It is the biggest clock museum in the Southern Hemisphere and is well worth a visit if you are ever in Whangarei.
    Mr Clapham had a great sense of humour and all his clocks had to do something else besides tell the time. One clock was a nineteenth century Blackberry. You put chips in the top when you had appointments due and at the given time it would chime and deposit your chip to remind you. Nothing short of ingenious!
     And the clock made of Meccano that told the time, day, month, year, tide, leap year, and phase of the moon. But it didn't tell you when to wash your socks!!
     There are two examples of bird clocks, as seen on last weeks BBC Antiques roadshow.  And one of the first Juke boxes, a fabulous coin operated music box, complete with the huge music discs, that operated on board one of the paddle ferries as it plied between Whangarei, Waiheke Island and Auckland and Coromandel. As well as a genuine Hickory Dickory Dock Clock complete with mouse.
   A piece of living history. Everything in the museum works and the pieces range from Disney watch clicks to an early seventeen hundred Dutch tower clocks to French Ormulu timepieces that would comfortably grace the Royal Palace at Versailles or the Queen's drawing room at Buckingham Palace.
    The cuckoo clocks are amazing but the clock that caught my eye was a hand carved Black Forest Clock that had a monk tolling the bell for prayers at a monastry.
    One other Black Forest Clock with two Scots Pipers piping the hours carves a s a special tribute to The Scots regiment that saved a town from Napolean's Army.
     The City itself was a study in contrasts. Old heritage shops on the wharf and basin to the tree clad roads in the heart of town. Fabulous sea views from cliff top perches to driveways that made you dizzy just seeing the angle of them from the road.
    A place I'd return to any time
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