Friday, February 16, 2007


I am fascinated by names and their meanings - most especially, surnames. I was told once that the suffix "-ing" means "people of." (possibly Saxon...anyone?)
As Mac- is Scot for 'son of,' and O'- is Irish for the same, so too is '-s' in dutch.
Smith, Weaver, Taylor, Miller are pretty straight forward, and I heard of an English name 'Sykes' because the family came from an area where there were rather a lot of them in the fields.

My name is Prouting, and since my origin is English, does that mean I am decended from the 'People of Prout?' The surname on my mother's side is Hamlin. This is easier - the Hamlins came from a place in England known as Ham Hill - famous (??) for its Ham Stone. So doesn't that mean '-lin' is the tag meaning "people of?"

To go further, my mother belongs to the Scotish Clan of Robertson. Why are they anglicised to Robert-son, when my friend remains Gaelic with Mac-Donald?

I had a friend at school whose last name is Risk. She told me that after a lot of research her family discovered they had not always been "Risks" but after a terrible voyage (probably to New Zealand or America) they were trying to cross a river. Half the family said "screw that, I choose life," and the other half said "well risk it." (pls note my extensive use of poetic liscence.) Lo! and behold the family members who made it to the other side thenceforth became known as the Risks.

Again on my mother's side there is the German name - Nieman. I was telling Mum (after a few German lessons at school) that when an 'i' and an 'e' are placed together in a german word, the second vowel is sounded. For example, german for four - vier - is pronounced 'fear.' The 'e' is second, the 'e' is sounded. But with the number two - zwei - the vowel sound is quite clearly and 'i' as in sky. ;-)
Therefore (after all that) the name is pronounced Nee-man. After this lecture Mum looked at me and smiled a little before explaining that the family changed their original spelling, from Neiman to Nieman, to make it look less German during the war. So that was the end of that!

Where does your name come from?

Monday, February 12, 2007

New Plymouth Wedding

This weekend I was in New Plymouth at the bottom-ish west of the North Island. My friends Nick and Conna were getting married! The weather was hot hot hot, and the venue absoloutely gorgeous!

Okurukuru Vinyard is just outside of New Plymouth and overlooks the Tasman Sea. The building, vines and grounds were picture perfect for such a special day.

Standing on the balcony of Okurukuru looking out over the ocean,
and down on to the wedding spot.

The wedding was scheduled to take place at five o'clock and Nick and Conna had the rare treat of spending almost the whole day together as they gadded about the countryside having their photos taken. As time rolled slowly by, and the waiting guests realised five of the clock had been and gone many minutes ago, from out of nowhere a helicopter, thundered into view and spun about above us. To the sound of the soundtrack to Mission Impossible, the groom and his men came out of the chopper and down to the guests. There they mingled and chatted as the helicopter left to pick up the girls.

They too made a grand entrance, though we weren't allowed to see them exiting the chopper, we watched from below as they made their way along the balcony above and behind us, then round the end of the building and down the stairs. At the bottom Nick moved forward and shook Conna's father's hand, kissed her mother, and collected his bride-to-be. Conna was radiant.
Nick collects Conna from her parents

Together the couple moved to the centre spot where they said beautiful vows and celebrated with some very lovely poetry recited on their behalf. Then the young children were encouraged to come forward and between the couple and the younglings, butterflies were released to float away with wishes and prayers. It was very beautiful and I am sorry I couldn't manage to capture it on film.

Inside the venue for speeches and dinner was unfortunately very hot. I was unfortunately unaccompanied (someone couldn't make it...) so Conna and one of her bridesmaids (another good friend of mine, Megsie) planted me at the end of the table with two larikins - Andrew and Andrew. We weren't sure if they were there to entertain me, or I was there to keep them in check! But they were certainly great entertainment, and Conna's brother Andrew practiced some very gentlemanly charm!

Too bad about the sun!
The picture behind the high table was absolutely gogeous,
The four hangings around it showed quotes for
Love, Wisdom, Peace and Happiness

Later on in the evening we drifted outside for some fresh air, as it was quite stuffy inside!

Bridesmaid Megsie in black at the back, next to her husband and the best man, Rowan.
Conna sits at the table next to Megsie, and you can see the back of Nick's head across from her.
Surrounded by friends.

The first dance was lovely, and it was compulsory for all guests to join in! Nick and Conna looked wonderful and wonderfully happy as they moved together as though they had been dancing all their lives. Not bad for one-and-a-half lessons!!! Later on in the night, after the sun had gone down;

We were encouraged to gather out on the balcony for a surprise. What was it? Fireworks! Certainly a sparkling event for a sparkling day. We returned inside for more dancing, more wedding cake (chocolate), more wine or coffee as the mood took us :-)

As a rugby playing, beer drinking woman (who scrubbed up into a very stunning picture) Conna had a little difficulty with the throwing of the bouquet. In fact, she was so excited by the concept she threw it over and above us single chicks, and it landed at the feet of the flowergirl who was allowed to keep it. My parents will be most upset to hear she might get married before me!!!

It was a wonderful night, and the bbq the next day was also wonderful, though a lot more relaxed. I managed to sleep most of the 5 hour journey home.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Weekend Dive Trip (Scenery Shots)

Looking further East from the boat

Paning to my left, the boys are diving amongst the rocks at the front,
and the hill in the middle is a little island

Looking back to the bay we came from
Fletcher Bay is over the small green hill in the mid-ground

You can see the rocks underwater behind Sarge's head,
And the sand at the bottom just to the left of him

It was a crowded bay...

Weekend Dive Trip (DAY TWO)

Sunday dawned even sunnier than the preceeding day and the ocean was calm and still. We spent a lazy morning waiting for the tide and headed over the hill for a second time around ten thirty, eleven o'clock.
This time the tide was about to finish coming in and I could only see the top of the rocks we had been clambering over on Saturday. The boys dragged the tinny off the top of the ute and dragged it down to the water, yelping as they did so over the burning heat of the sand. I had decided that since Sarge had been so good as to babysit me the day before I wouldn't go for the second dive, leaving him to play about in the water as he chose. Thus being free I took some photos as they kitted up.

We motored out around the rocks we had used on Saturday and continued towards another set in deeper water. Shaz remained on solid land to go for a walk and collect interesting objects. Mostly rocks I think. (Intersting ones. Mum can testify I am telling the truth when I say I am not being sarcastic about that at all!)

Once the boys thought they had reached their favourite spot we dropped anchor and they got their gears on before dropping below the water. The sea was so clear, that even with several meters of depth we could easily see the bottom, it was so beautiful. I tried to take a picture of it, but although you could see the outlines of the rocks even in the photo, the sun glare was a little too much. Instead I spent my time lying in the boat listening to music, lying in the boat listening to the sea and birds, and looking about and taking photos. I saw an oyster catcher, which is new for me as we only have the pied variety at home, and there was a shag who was determined to pose when the camera was off and look away when I was ready to take his photo. Bearing in mind I was in a rocking boat, here are the pictures of them;

After about 40 minutes the boys came back, and boy did they have a catch!
Tommy displays the mother of all crays.
Except it was a boy, but boy was he a big one!

Sarge has no idea Tommy is about to put a cray on his head.

Proof that we put the little ones back.
This wee guy went back in the water before Sarge (who caught him) made it into the boat!

All in all it was a terrific day. We had hoped to get away from Fletcher Bay by twelve o'clock, but since they didn't start diving until about ten past, it was at least half two before we even started to clean the gear. But with such a haul of cray it was deifinitely worth it, and we all had a great time. I don't even remember the feeling ill part!

Weekend Dive Trip (DAY ONE)

Ju's Little Sister's Mum is going to have a heart attack at this one...

On the evening of Friday Feb 2 I jumped in the car with good friend 'Sarge' and we drove through the night (okay, two hours but it was the last two hours of the 2nd) to Hamilton City. If only it had been a weekday and we could have invaded Hamilton City Council Planning Department and tried to get a visual on this BillyBob fellow, bt alas it was not to be.
The next day was a Saturday and we were up early to collect a couple more friends and their boat to begin the trip back up north to the coromandel. Sarge and Tommy used to work in the same dive shop together and I understand they still get out in the water as often as they can, though I also have the suspicion that this is sadly not too often at all. Nevertheless, with the boat on the roof of Tommy's ute, the cat caught, caged and dropped off to the cat-sitter, and plenty of dive gear to see us through we made our way out of Hamilton and North.

It was a gorgeous day and looked like it would be great weather for diving in, and so it proved to be. I had not intended to write up this weekend and so I don't have phuoto's of the treacherous 'Port Jackson Rd' which winds its way only feet from cliffs and bush covered hills on one side and a sharp drop to the water on the other. It was very picturesque however and our quiet speed kept me feeling comfortable as a passenger.
Finally, after a few hours travel we made it to the camp ground and backpackers at Fletcher Bay.
Camping ground at Fletcher Bay

Backpackers at the top of the hill,
looks over camping ground and bay

It took only a few minutes to settle in and pick out our bunk beds before we were hauling dive gear out of the ute and setting it all up. Since I haven't been diving more than a few times and Sarge is an instructor he talked me through it while I yelled at him for babying me. Of course, after he obliged by walking off I had to call him back to help. It's just as well my pride is marginal at best ;-)

Setting up the gear

Once set up and happy again we all piled into the ute with the 12' tinny on top and drove through some farmland to get over to the next bay. I found out this was allowed because Tommy knows the owners of the farm which is always a bonus. Tommy's lady Shaz was pretty good on the gates too and as an ex-farm girl I was impressed. About ten minutes and four gates later we were into the next bay. Unlike Fletchers, this one was deserted.
You can see Fletcher Bay is at the very top of the peninsula, and the bay we went diving in is one more to the East.

Once down on the beach we got changed into our wetsuits and kitted up with all the gear. The tide was almost completely out and we walked along a stretch of rocks that led out into the water. When the tide is in, these rocks are amost completely covered, and the last time Sarge was diving in this bay, he was swimming amongst the very rocks we were labouring to reach the end of. I made the foolsish mistake of asking how much my gear weighed and was given the answer it was probably somewhere between 30 and 40 kilos. (66-88lbs) That's another 2-thirds my body weight I was carrying! I was in a double layer wetsuit which was still dry and working hard in the hot summer sun, and it was HOT work. But finally we made it to the end and got into the beautiful cool water in order to swim a little further still before going under.
I am a little bit paranoid about the water and drowing, so the first attempt at descending was a little bit of a mess, but after a couple of minutes on the surface to collect myself and we were off with a hiss and a roar!
We were only about 4m down at the lowest, but playing around in the rocks and kelp was lots of fun. Sarge forgot to bring his underwater camera so I don't have photos for you, but we broke up some kinna and fed it to the cod, who refused to be caught in Sarge's noose. After more wanderings we came to the sandy part of the bay floor and started in on our mission.
We were on this dive because MoF had asked Tommy and Sarge to bring them evidence (if they found it) of the Northern Pacific Sea Star. (I think that's what it's called and I'm sorry if I've got it wrong.) This is a Japanese starfish which has come south on boats and is already taking over the waters of Australia and we DON'T WANT IT HERE!
MoF know in their hearts that it is in New Zealand's waters, but they haven't been able to prove it and don't have the resources to go dicing to find it. Tommy and Sarge found some on their last dive, but since they didn't have them to show the ministry they were no good as proof. So the boys were back to help out by finding more of these star fish.
Tommy was off doing his thing on his own, hunting starfish and crays alike, and with Sarge going to the surface every now and again to check on him, we stuck together, scanning the sands for five-fingered depressions in the floor. We found a little bit of evidence, and I found the only starfish sitll in residence, but it was too young to tell if it was the invader or not, so we kept scanning and made our way home empty handed.
At one point Sarge stopped our progress to point out a strange purple lump wrapped about a coiled seashell. With my face mask on I couldn't wear my glasses so I was squinting furiously to try and make out what the creature was. Sarge gave him the tiniest nudge with the noose and the lump started on it's lumbering journey back to it's little home - a couple of rocks in a depression in the sand. Scattered all about it were more shells. When it was two-thirds the way back home it revealed itself by pushing out three tenticles - it was an octopus!!! The first real-live one I have ever seen! Now I know why Sarge was being so gentle, he didn't want it to come for him! Once back in its house Sarge picked the shell up with the noose and gave it back and with all the dignity of an offended gentleman the octy reached out without looking and drew the shell close. Then we made our casual and uneventful way back to shore.

Once we caught up with Tommy again he and Shaz decided they wanted to do a spot of fishing so we took the dinghy off the truck and helped them onto the water. We took the truck back to the backpackers and washed down the gear.
Dive gear all washed and drying

About this time I was feeling very ill, mostly in the stomach so I went for a lie-down while Sarge waited about until it was nearly six o'clock. Then he took the ute back to the beach to pick up Tommy, Shaz and the boat. I heard them arrive but didn't emerge from my bunk bed as I was still not one hundred percent. After a while I heard chatting and laughter and realised there were some more people up at the backpackers talking to my friends. I couldn't make out most of the conversation but it certainly sounded very jovial. Only later did I find out the truth!

The visiters we warden's who had been 'tipped off' about some poachers in the area. Poachers who had driven over the hill, through farmland with a boat on the truck, and had returned a couple of hours later without the boat. Then the boat was collected much later in the evening. UH OH!!! The warden's had the backpackers surrounded, one out the back and a couple at the front to catch the poachers with their goods. Hang on, I'm talking about my own friends here! Yes that's right, just as well there are some really on to it people in the camping ground, because it was obvious we were stealing paua! Ha! Whatever Trevor, we were innocent and what's more - we were there to help MoF out!!! Fortunately it was obvious we had no paua, and all the crays where within limits and we had not exceeded the daily limit either. What a pity I missed out on the action!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Soooooo belated....

Al of the TCA mentioned around Christmas time that it was a shame there were no photos on my blog of the Xbox LAN which my friends and I took part in (organised, really) just before Christmas. I have been bugging and bugging 'Sarge' to get ahold of the precious photos and now, finally, (after literally stealing them off his computer while he wasn't there) I have them to show you.
First, a refresher.

An Xbox is similar to a computer in that it can be connected to the internet, and to other xbox's and even (if you have the right software) a computer too. But they are specifically dedicated to games. There is a small group of us who get together every now and again in a garage and connect our 'boxes up to play against each other in both tactical and "shoot 'em up" games, but this LAN was a little different. For this we booked an old communications centre on the Air Force Base (where I work) and managed to get twelve plus people going hammer and tongs all night! Sarge and I organised a proper tournament to begin with - with prizes - and even held a prizegiving just before dinner. A big thanks to the people of Microsoft Xbox Australia who kindly sponsored us with drink bottles, t-shirts, lanyards and some limited edition magazines for prizes.

Below are some of the pics we took;

On the top you might be able to see how we laid desks out in a horse shoe, with the white projector screen at the open end. People were ranged on both sides of the desks (ie some facing in and some facing out). In the picture at the bottom you can see a row of eager young players. There isn't a game in process at the moment - we're all laughing over some of the events just played out. It's hard to describe, but at the end of a round, or a game, the stories are always told by the person who missed the chance, or who was unfortunately killed - we are always laughing at ourselves, and while we'll teasingly talk ourselves up before a game, there is no room for arrogant bragging afterwards, unless the victim started the story.
An example of sorts;
I say: "I had just found myself this perfect spot to line up GRIMUZ from across the building, I changed to sniper rifle and hit the zoom - only to see a full-scale rocket coming straight at me! I didn't even have time to move before I was blown to smithereens!"
TDevils says: "Yeah, yeah the funny part is I was about to assisinate you too and he got me as well!!"
GRIMUZ says: "Don't worry, Blade got me with a frag grenade about a second after I fired."

So you can imgine that round after round is just absoloute carnage! At the end of the round the program comes up with the stats, as shown here:
This is just the medals page of the 'post game carnage report' for the game Halo 2. Our usernames are on the left, total medals earned and then symbols of the variety of medals too. I am second from the bottom for this game, on the orange line - username: Alice. (Because I'm a bit like Alice in Wonderland). I won three 'beat down' medals, which means I was pretty good at fistycuffs. (or I ran out of ammunition a lot, but there's no need to tell the boys that!).

At the end of the Halo 2 tournament, we had a prize giving. Sarge (second from the top) tallied up results and called out the winners of each category and since I was the only girl I got to do the "promo girl" honours. (handing out the goods!) In the next picture I'm giving 'Blade' a drink bottle and a novelty dartboard to help improve his aim!!! Sarge looks on from the right.

After the prizegiving we had pizza for tea and a lot more jokes and laughs. We wandered about looking at people's prizes and went outside for a breather and a chat. This is another important part of the evening as it is important to rest your eyes and actually talk in normal conversations with the people you are hanging out with!! We don't let the LAN's get too big so that it is always with friends which guarantees we keep up the social aspect of the activity.

After dinner we connected on of the xboxes to the projector and played some very old school arcade games which have been adapted to play on these new consoles.

Sarge (left) and Warwulf play bomber man on the projector while TDevil (right) watches and waites for his turn. They were playing king of the ring. (winner stays on, loser hands over the controller to the next player.) It was sort of like being in the fish and chip shop when we were kids. Except it smelt different and you didn't need 20c to play!!!

I have only one more photo for you now, and this one is from very late - or very early - as it was taken at ten to three in the morning!

The big guy under the white duvet is 'Phatal1ty'
He's had enough for one night!

The really good thing about this bunch of people, is that most of them turn up the next day to help us clean up.

And that was our December LAN! Tomorrow 6th February is Waitangi Day and we might be holding one of the little garage ones since we don't have to work. When I find more time I'll put up a post on my weekend dive drip and maybe talk about Waitangi Day, but I really think it's a subject best avoided.