Our happy group boarded the bus bright and early for our trip to Wanganui. Once again, we were pleased to have our friendly bus driver Peter in charge today. As he has said on several occasions, a bunch of oldies onboard is so much easier for him to deal with than a bunch of school kids. We may be a lot slower boarding and exiting the bus, but we are a whole lot quieter, and our manners are so much better!
Our trip today was to Chronicle Glass Studio, where we were given a potted history of the art of glass blowing. The studio occupies part of a 1912 building which was originally home to the city’s newspaper, and the glass blowers work in the former press pit. Visitors can look down on the workers as they go about their work. We were first shown an example of what was going to be made, although every finished piece is individual and slightly different. The glass ornaments looked rather like paua shells, I thought.
The plain clear glass in slowly built up by adding layers of colour. This seems a slow, hot process, and each of the steps were explained as the colour of the glass and the shape evolved. No wonder the furnace has covers to protect the workers – it burns at 1000 degrees C.
The glass ball was held up to show us at each stage as the various colours were added – still glowing red hot at this stage. The completed piece is left overnight to slowly cool down, before it can be handled.
There was all sorts of glass available for sale in the adjacent gallery. Lots of beautiful pieces in lovely glowing colours.
Lunch was next on the agenda and we boarded the bus again and were driven around to the Wanganui RSA where two long tables were ready and waiting for us all. Roast pork was on the menu, so that was me sorted, and Robin chose snitzel. The meals were very tasty, and very reasonably priced. The kitchen was very well organised – with such a big crowd it didn’t take too long to get everyone served.
Peter took us an a little tiki tour and we went home via Tangimoana, (meaning “crying sea”). An interesting little beach settlement and some of the people on the bus had never been there before. The Santoft Forest covers a huge area. Keen hunters can get hunting permits to shoot sambar deer in the forest, we were told. The sambar is a large deer native to the Indian Subcontinent, southern China and Southeast Asia. In New Zealand sambar deer are only found in the North Island. The two main populations of wild sambar deer are found in the Manawatu/Wanganui region and the Bay of Plenty region. Their range in both these areas is mostly on private land – mainly forestry blocks. Another interesting trip with the 60s Up group.