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13 Facts About Trolls

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Later this year, hubby and I are doing a cruise of the Baltic region. One of the stops is Oslo, Norway, a place I didn’t know much about. Research and deciding what to see is always part of the fun for me, and I was intrigued to learn about the combination of trolls and Norway.

Thirteen Facts About Trolls

1. If you Google trolls, at first you’ll come up with lots of websites about internet trolls, which are a different beast all together.

2. The trolls I’ve been researching live in the mountainous regions or woodland regions of Norway. They’re known as mountain or woodland trolls.

3. These days they are a shy creature and there is great debate as to their existence.

4. Several places in Norway are named after trolls such as Trollfjorden, Trollveggen, Trollstigen.

5. Trolls are huge and ugly. They’re scary but according to local lore they’re a little stupid, and a clever man or woman can use this to manipulate them.

6. Trolls are one beast that a romantic woman should not attempt to kiss. She will not find a prince but rather a filthy creature with long, entangled hair. The troll is more likely to eat her than attempt to exchange a kiss.

7. It’s very difficult to discern reality from myth and legends, especially since there has been no documented sightings for some many years.

8. Some people say trolls possess shape shifting powers, so perhaps this is why they’re so good at eluding people. Maybe your best friend is a troll in hiding.

9. I understand trolls are mammals and they live to a great age – anywhere in the range between 1000 – 12000 years old.

10. Like vampires, trolls have a bad reaction to sunlight. Younger trolls turn to stone while older trolls explode on exposure to sunlight.

11. Whenever you see electric pylons in Norway, especially in isolated mountainous regions, they’re probably not there for electricity but are electric fences used to keep trolls within their territories.

12. Trolls are mostly seen on moonlit nights.

13. It’s very important not to make an enemy of a troll because they’re good at revenge. The best advice I can give is to keep in good standing with any trolls you might meet or you’ll be very sorry.

Have you visited Norway? Have any tips? Do you have any experience with trolls?

Thirteen Things That Would Make A Perfect World

Thursday Thirteen

I stole this idea from Next magazine, one of our local glossy ladies’ magazines. It’s a tongue-in-cheek list of things that would go toward making a perfect world. I picked my favorite ones from their much longer list.

Thirteen Things That Would Go Toward Making a Perfect World

1. If the best things in life were actually free.

2. If we had the confidence of a 50-year-old with the body and face of a 30-year-old.

3. If being kind burned calories, and reading made you fit.

4. If offspring did as they were asked.

5. If there was always a pen when you needed one.

6. If fertility increased with our readiness for children.

7. If wine made you smarter.

8. If sexy men really were interested in the beauty within.

9. If someone discovered 50 “never seen before” episodes of Friends.

10. In the same vein, if someone discovered new episodes of Firefly. Loved that show!

11. If there was one charger for everything.

12. If sun didn’t burn but simply highlighted your hair.

13. If 3D printers could make you a husband.

What would make your world perfect?

Z is for Zealandia

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Zealandia is a wildlife sanctuary in Wellington—an inland island where endangered native species are kept safe from predators in the hope of increasing dwindling populations. The 225 hectare site includes two dams that used to supply the city of Wellington with water. It was decided that the dams might crack or burst during an earthquake and a decision was made to lower the dams and use the area as an inland island. The first step was to fence the area with pest free fences.

Pest free fences, Karori Sanctuary

These fences stop possums, stoats, weasels, ferrets, rats and mice from entering the sanctuary. Once the fences were installed a pest-control plan was put in place. A year later all 13 major pests in the area were fully eradicated. Thousands of native trees were planted (the area was previously all in pine) and this planting continues. The long-term vision for the project is to return the area to its original undisturbed state and this will take around 500 years.

Native species such as brown teal ducks, the little spotted kiwi, giant wetas, tuatara, stitchbird, North Island saddleback, weka, North Island robin and bellbirds are some of the inhabitants.

On entry to the sanctuary, staff check bags for mice, cats, rats and other pests. Thankfully, my bag was found pest-free. I know I would have been more shocked than anyone if a mouse had jumped out. We explored some of the many paths, pausing to peer through the treetops for the elusive birds.

Old Resevior

This is the old reservoir.

Native Duck

Native New Zealand duck – the scaup. It’s the smallest of our native ducks. The scaup is a diving duck and disappears for long moments under the water.

Takahe

This is a takahe, one of our flightless birds. It was thought to be extinct after 1898 but was rediscovered in 1948. There are two takahe at Zealandia – a pair – although they are infertile so are not adding to the low population. They eat tussocks, grass, shoots and insects.

Kakariki

This is the kakariki parakeet, one of NZ’s natives. They have become endangered due to loss of their natural habitat.

The day of our visit was warm and sunny – the perfect weather to tempt the tuataras out of their burrows. Tuatara are rare reptiles that are found only in New Zealand. I’d never seen one before since they mostly live on off shore islands and at a few sanctuaries.

We saw their burrows and finally, much to our excitement we spotted a tuatara!

Tuatara in Disguise

Tuatara

I still get excited whenever I think about seeing them. We watched them for ages, not that they do much except sit there and soak in the heat from the sun. It was a real privilege to see such a rare creature.

Thanks so much for visiting my posts during the A-Z challenge. It’s been a blast meeting other bloggers and reading all the wonderful posts.

Today I have a guest post at Collette Cameron’s blog – Blue Rose Romance where I’m discussing mazes and labyrinths. I’m also doing a giveaway. I hope to see you there!

Y is for Yachts

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New Zealanders love their boats, and particularly those who live in Auckland, which is also known as the City of Sails. There are several marinas around the city, and we have some excellent boat builders who are based here. They make huge super yachts for wealthy people who like to sail around the world.

We have many champion sailors who have won medals at the Olympic Games and also world championships. At one time we held the Americas Cup. We contested for it last year, but unfortunately didn’t win.

Below are a few photos taken last year when hubby and I did a day trip from Auckland Harbor up the river to Riverhead.

Auckland Harbor Bridge Boats

This is one of the marinas. In the distance you can see the Auckland Harbor bridge.

Auckland Harbor Bridge

Yachts

Shelley CBD Sky Tower

And this is me with the main city center in the background, including the Sky Tower.

Trip to Riverhead

Yachts were even moored in the middle of the river when we cruised up to Riverhead.

Unattended Children

I have to admit that although I enjoy day trips on boats and I love cruising, I have no ambition to own a boat or yacht.

What about you?

X is for Xmas Tree

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Xmas falls during summer for those of us down this end of the world. In late November through December, our native pohutukawa trees bloom. When early missionaries visited New Zealand and saw the trees with their scarlet flowers, they dubbed them New Zealand’s Christmas trees.

Pohutukawa trees often grow along the coast, which makes for a pretty picture during the summer. We have pohutukawas in our garden.

Pohutukawa Tauranga Pohutukawa

For me, it’s not summer until the New Zealand Xmas trees bloom.

W is for Waiheke Island

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Waiheke is one of the islands in the Hauraki Gulf and is a 35 minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland. Waiheke is a great place to visit during a weekend or for a day trip. You can visit vineyards, check out the different arts and crafts available, go swimming or exploring, eat the local produce or dine at one of the many outstanding restaurants.

Here are a few photos of the island:

Onetangi Beach

Onetangi Beach is the main beach.

Vineyards and Olive Trees

There are lots of vineyards and olive trees.

Vineyards

Vineyards with a view…

Waiheke Scenery

Some of the gorgeous scenery.

Waiheke is very popular during the summer when the population explodes with holiday makers.

What is your favorite place to visit for a daytrip or for a weekend?

V is for Volcano

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A volcano is a mountain or hill with a crater or vent, which spews out lava, gas and rock fragments from the earth’s crust. Volcanoes can be extinct (will never erupt again), dormant (might erupt again) or active (busy erupting).

New Zealand has many volcanoes. In fact, Auckland, our biggest city is built on a field of volcanoes. The old volcano cones are classified as dormant, meaning they could erupt again, but history has shown that the field is moving steadily north. The last eruption in the Auckland field occurred just over six hundred years ago when the island Rangitoto, a short ferry ride from the central city, erupted and formed into an island.

Rangitoto

This is the cone of Rangitoto Island, which is visible from many parts of Auckland.

Mt Eden

This is the crater of Mt Eden, which is not far from the central city of Auckland.

LakeTaupo

This is Lake Taupo, (area 238 square miles) which is in the center of the North Island. The lake is an old volcano crater, which erupted around 27,000 years ago to form the caldera. Around 1800 years ago, the eruption, known as the Taupo eruption, occurred. This was the most violent eruption to occur in 5000 years and was recorded at the time by the Romans and the Chinese. The present chamber of magma is around 6 kilometers below the lake. The trio of mountains in the background are all volcanoes.

Ngaruahoe

This is Mt Ngauruhoe, which is one of the three volcanoes visible across Lake Taupo.

Ruapehu

This is Mount Ruapehu, another one of the trio of volcanoes. Both Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe, plus the third one Tongariro are periodically active. Mount Tongariro erupted unexpectedly last year after 100 years of lying dormant.

And finally, our most active volcano – an island off the coast of the Bay of Plenty in the North Island.

White Island

I find volcanoes fascinating, although I suspect we won’t have much fun if a new volcano pops up in the Auckland field. It’s certainly not impossible.

Do you have any volcanoes near you?

U is for Utu

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Utu is a Maori word. If asked, I would have defined utu as revenge for wrong doings. I’m sort of right, but when I double-checked the definition, I discovered it means much more.

According the the NZ History site, utu is maintaining the balance and harmony within society. Each wrong needs to be put right, but the method of correcting the balance to obtain harmony again varies. And this is where revenge steps right up to the plate!

An example – If the balance within a tribe or between tribes was upset, one form of utu was muru. Muru is where personal property is seized in lieu or compensation for the offence. The matter was then considered resolved.

However, if this didn’t work, then a tribe might carry out a taua, which was a hostile expedition or a straight out war. There were different levels of taua.

Taua muru – a bloodless plundering

Taua ngaki mate/taua roto – violent action

So there you have it – the ins and outs of utu.

In the fictional sense, I think revenge makes for an exciting plot full of twists and turns. One of my favorite types of plot to write.

Do you like revenge plots?

T is for Taniwha

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I was brought up hearing tales from Maori mythology. Everyone in New Zealand knows of Maui who fished our country from the sea. One particular beast from the legends has always fascinated me, and that’s the taniwha.

The taniwha (pronounced tan-e-fa) is a Maori monster, a ferocious beast that ate naughty children and devoured warriors and other hapless people who found themselves in the wrong place. They live in lakes, rivers and the sea and some live in caves. Some taniwha are friendly—if the local villagers gave them regular food offerings—while others are plain nasty and kill anyone who crosses their path.

In 2002 construction on a highway in the Waikato region of New Zealand was halted because local Maori said the road works were disturbing a taniwha. The portion of road that was being improved was a bad accident site and it was said the taniwha was responsible for the high death toll.

In a Herald story, Dr Ranginui Walker said “like most cultures, Maori use mysticism to explain the inexplicable or grossly unlucky, like a branch falling from a tree and killing a man walking under it at that moment. Europeans might call it the hand of God, Maori might blame tipua, an evil spirit living in the tree. All beliefs require a leap of faith that defy rational explanation.”

The road building finally continued after consultation and negotiations between locals and Transit NZ.

Make That Man Mine

A few years ago, I wrote a taniwha shifter romance called Make That Man Mine. Here’s the blurb:

On her 25th birthday Emma Montrose decides it’s time to show bad boy investigator, Jack Sullivan she’s more than an efficient secretary. She’s a woman with needs, and she wants him.

Jack is a taniwha, a shifter, who requires women to satiate the sexual demands of the serpent within. Nothing more. Then work forces the reluctant Jack and ecstatic Emma undercover as a couple. Thrown together, pretence and reality blur generating hot sex laced with risk…

S is for Sky Tower

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Sky Tower is an Auckland icon, and the tower can be seen from all over the city. Here are a few facts:

1. The tower is a telecommunications and observation tower.

2. At 1076 feet (328 meters) it’s the tallest free-standing building in the Southern Hemisphere.

3. There are two restaurants and a cafe at the top. One of the restaurants is revolving. There are observation decks, and you can also bungee jump off if you want to get down quickly.

4. It took two years and nine months to build the tower.

5. The tower is built of 15,000 cubic meters of special high performance concrete, 2000 tonnes of reinforcing steel and 600 tonnes of structural steel.

6. The foundations go down more than 15 meters and are specially designed in order to spread the force load.

7. If the day is clear you can see the view for around 51 miles (82 kilometers)

Auckland city and harbor

Sky Tower

Do you like to visit the high spots in order to get a good view? Do you have a good head for heights?

(Sources: Wikipedia and Sky Tower website)