Lloyd Elsmore Park is a vast open area used by the residents of this region (Howick and Pakuranga) to exercise and get out of their houses. It has many, many fields including several rugby and soccer pitches, a few cricket ovals, a hi-tech hockey stadium where provincial games are played, a badminton complex with 12 courts, a in-door swimming complex with several pools and a gym. It is about 8 minutes’ drive from our house.
It is all open to the residents and mostly free. Jules has joined the junior badminton club which does cost extra, but many of the amenities are gratis. To give you an idea of size, the badminton complex is the dark grey-roofed building at the bottom of the picture next to Bell Park. On a hot day the swimming pools are brimming with locals, but I’m not sure I understand the logic because the pools are heated and the sea water is so warm it might be better to go to the beach.
It also contains the Howick Historical village (I’ll write about that separately) and is the venue for the annual Howick Military Tattoo.
Now the military tattoo was on a smaller scale than I expected. Granted they did have: military re-enactments, massed pipe bands, highland games, Scottish dancers, singers, various stalls selling everything from cheap Chinese rubbish to kilts (and the koeksisters were all sold out!). What they did not have was a large crowd of spectators. I thought it would be jam packed, but there must have been something else going on that was more attractive.
Bear in mind that western history in New Zealand only dates back to about 1840. There’s not a lot of history to re-enact. There were also relatively few skirmishes since then, so the troops of the 69th battalion you see in the picture had little to do but chase the odd stock thief.
It was the pipe bands that really impressed. There were 13 bands taking part in a competition, so they lumped them all together and they played a few favourites. Very impressive to see so many and all in perfect rhythm. I have loaded a few clips on to YouTube if your interest and band-width will allow.
Amazing Grace (video a little wobbly at times)
Scotland the Brave (marching off)
I like a pipe band in general, but it is the snares that really fascinate me. They are totally atonal and produce a rasp rather than a thump – they are so tightly strung. At the end of last clip when the band is marching off the pipes are softer and you can hear the snares rattling away in perfect timing.
In the foreground you’ll notice red barrels with large stones next to them, and a caber – that’s part of the highland games we witnessed. Big fellows these Scots.
The day was rounded off on a high note with my discovery of Feijoa cider! Now that’s got to be added to the list of reasons.