Many times when people consider visiting Christchurch they ask me where should I go. Well for those considering visiting Christchurch in this time of the year and the upcoming holiday season, I can definitely recommend a nice short walk through the Monavale garden.  The gardens and landscaped lawns roll down gently to the Avon River and feature some beautiful plantings and a Rose garden. I make it a habit to at least visit this place once a year and every year again I am blown away it. (If not because of the beauty that most certainly my hay fever will remind me all these incredible flowers). Lilies, Roses and so much more.

The central rose garden attracts many visitors every year but most definitely there is a lot to be seen outside the rose garden as well. Just look at the lily on the left.

The more you look  the more you see and each year it seems I ‘discover’ yet another beautiful corner or bed of flowers that I had not seen before.

And now with this interest in photography or let me be honest and humble, interest and joy in taking pictures, I can share this with you.

The sheer explosion of color, sight, and smell is overwhelming, especially in the rose garden. Both the overview and detail lead the visitor with an eye for beauty to one discovery after another.

A number of Monavale pictures have been uploaded to my Flickr photostream, so I will limit myself to some of the favorites of the favorites you will find there.

But if you love flowers and beautiful gardens and you are visiting Christchurch, don’t forget to visit Monavale.  And should you get hungry or thirsty, it is all there, great food, good wine, beautiful views and a very nice setting for a lunch or diner with a loved one on a nice summer afternoon or evening.

And don’t forget there’s more at Flickr >>>



character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking.
There are too many people who think that the only thing that’s right is to get by, and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught.
J.C. Watts

Being a critical citizen like me you will probably agree with me that it is almost common to find situations or incidents that erode your confidence in institutions. Regularly the media reports on yet another government official such as a politician, police officer, mayor, judge, or member of the management of a local or central government official that overstepped the boundaries. More recently we have seen the attention to use of perks and all kinds of compensations for Members of Parliament. Rightfully citizens require integrity of the actions of or politicians, and worryingly all too often the opposite is exposed. Professions that have traditionally been held in high esteem such as lawyers, doctors, accountants, brokers, pharmacists are also showing members who let their own personal interests prevail where the client’s interests should have been at the centre of their attention. It is no different in the corporate world. On a regular basis we see media reports on how corporations, companies, businesses are involved in fraud and corruption: selling unsuitable products, making false claims about products or business opportunities, negligent care of environmental obligations or responsibilities. The reputation and trustworthiness of the organisation is directly at stake in such instances.

We have a tendency to bring it all back to the ‘black sheep’ within an organisation. Integrity is a personal trait so when bad things happen it has to do with personal choices that harm the organisation. This to some extent reflected in laws even where the idea of “intent” of an organisation is deemed to be impossible so it will necessarily be brought back to the individuals behind unethical or even illegal behaviours. Integrity however, is not a trait that can only be attributed to individuals but also to organisations. Is it not true that we already judge organisations on their integrity; employees, consumers, shareholders and society as a whole, or stakeholder groups within society. There is a tendency to look at people in relation to integrity. It is in my view important to note that integrity is also a quality that can be attributed to the ‘system’ in which people function. Where the system is sick, anyone dealing with the system will ultimately be ‘infected.’ Where the integrity of persons is subject of attention, the integrity of the organization will also need to be taken into consideration.

With that said can one but conclude that integrity management is important for organizations?

Why Bother?

It’s easier to cope with a bad conscience than with a bad reputation.
Friedrich Nietzsche


Read the full story here >>>

Patti LaBelle – If Only You Knew

What a gift fantastic singing and a dream come true.

Posted via web from Dierckx & Associates

CURBSIDE BEAUTY a new series started

No no no, this is not a series about prostitutes ( although you never know what the future might bring, the step from flowers to the proverbial butterflies of the night may well end up falling exactly within the scope of this series).

When started using a camera more and more and it developed into a hobby, it struck my how it brought about such a different perspective on everyday things and the world around me. I started seeing things  I would normally not have noticed or would not have left a lasting impression. I remember well how, just before I was about to head back for the Netherlands, we came back from Hamner. I was quiet and sort of mentally preparing to leave all this beautiful scenery behind and than I looked back one more time, to see this:

I asked my wife to stop the car immediately and so we did I walked back as quickly as I could to get this moment captured. And there on the edge of a cliff, dangerously close to the road and passing traffic it was as if God him- or herself was trying to tell me something; this light coming through the clouds ( symbolic in various senses), the heavens opening up to poor some divine light over the scene I was capturing. This has been an image I could not get rid of all, the time I was in the Netherlands. Long story short, in three weeks I was back to stay and to this day I think that the image above had something to do with it.

This new series: Curbside Beauty is all about little things that sort of make an otherwise ordinary thing like a curbside into something special. So far it seems that flowers especially seem to have this ability and power to transform their environment.  Humans are considered special because of their ability to adapt to all these different circumstances but most of all because they can change their natural environment to their requirements. While that is true, we humans do not always seem to manage to do this in the most aesthetic way. That it seems is where flowers come in, nature’s way of restoring the aesthetics where we humans failed to preserve it.

Just what to think of this little blue flower, alone at the edge of a parking lot. It’s easy to park your car over but really it was amazing how it transformed an otherwise dull strip of grass at the end of the parking lot.

There is already something about blue flowers but this certainly was one small, actually tiny  flower with a lot to offer taking into consideration its environment.

Or what to think of this mini-violet, making a strip of concrete slabs to serve as a driveway all of a sudden look so much better.

Here we are, a line of concrete slabs, dull, grey and with dirt, sand and earth in between them where they have started to shift over time.

And here is this little violet that seems to think:

It’s easy in a nice well kept garden, but this grey area needs a little color, and since nothing else seems to be doing it, I will have to do it by myself.

Well I think this little violet did a great job if you are willing to see it.

And then there was the yellow high dandy lion or something like it. Here was a patch of grass, kept short and meant for nothing more that to separate footpath from road. A place you use to park your garbage containers

On it’s fifty centimeter high thin stalk this otherwise simple dandy lion dominated and transformed the impression of this strip of grass along the road completely all by itself. Who would dare to put his garbage container on top of that and not feel guilty. A beautiful pest.

But I was most impressed by this bunch of incredible gerberas transforming a similar patch of grass. In fact they attracted so much attention that it could have ended in accidents I have seen people that literally hit the breaks to check out this incredible and isolated bunch of attention seekers.

I got so caught up lying in the gutter for a different perspective that a car almost ran over me: dangerously beautiful.

There are more images in this new series that can be found here >>>, or you could of course have a browse around in my complete photostream on Flickr here >>> where there are over 600 more photos. All favorites for some reason or another. And if you see something you like do leave me a comment.

Martin Luther,  the initiator of the Protestant Reformation once wrote:

God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees and in the flowers and clouds and starts

Looking at these curbside beauties does this make sense all of a sudden?  Bringing beauty and joy to otherwise overlooked, at times desolated and neglected places. Who does that remind you of?

You know what they say about converts: Is it true? – Faith & Reason

Religious converts are supposed to be fervent, passionate, zealous — and more so than home-grown believers.

If you spend much time in different houses of worship, you know that “cradle” followers of a denomination or tradition are known to joke about the need for newbies to take it down a few notches.

But a new study from the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life finds that while converts are more religious than others, they are not as different as people think.

Posted via web from Dierckx & Associates

OPERATION PEDRO PAN: an inspiring story

Thousands of children were aided in their escape from communist Cuba with the assistance of a determined priest

Imagine a young Irish priest in the early 1960s in Miami, with little or no knowledge of Spanish or Cuba, organizing the largest exodus of children ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere — and keeping it secret for more than a year.

Read the whole story here >>>


Doubting Thomas by Caravaggio

John 20 of the New Testament deals in verse 21-29 with the story of “Doubting Thomas” who would not believe that Jesus was resurrected before he had had a chance to feel the wounds cause by the crucifixion for himself.

Well, according to the author of John, he was given that opportunity.

28Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

According to the Wikipedia this passage illustrates how Jesus preferred faith over skepticism. A logical explanation. At the same time you could look at the meanings of the word blessed to find in for instance the Collins Shorter Dictionary and Thesaurus that blessed means

characterized by happiness

Come to think of it, I have read many books by now that deal with finding evidence for God, here in New Zealand one could think of the recently published Divinity Code by Ian Wishart or what to think of the site Does God Exist or “The Rational God” by Robert Cary and there are of course the range of Atheisty books like Dawkins “God Delusion” that try to make a case for the non-existence of God. Personally I always had an issue with trying to prove what there isn’t. It just does not seem to make sense to me.

More recently I have written my own opinions on this matter after a visit to Harmony Church. At the moment I am reading the book “A case for Christ” byLee Strobel which I have to say is a fine read which I will most definitely report in another post ( A big thanks you to Charles if you read this).

Looking back only at myself, what is the case with Thomas is probably the same as what has happened to me and with me many others that are willing to consider the possibility and start looking for the evidence. You end up in a long process of looking at the evidence, being convinced at times but at the same time focusing on the missing pieces. If you want me to believe, and for that matter I want to, if only because I see what it does to people, than I need proof and further proof and further proof. At the same time those that just took the leap of faith are enjoying the “goodies” it seems.

The whole journey of the past years has been one as described of a rationalist with a twist, trying to make faith a rational choice. In that journey there have been many moments of joy, of epiphany and also of doubt, of self reflection which has taken countless hours locked up in my study, late at night, researching, reading, talking to experts you name it. I could have just accepted in the first place that what seems to be supported by evidence and rational thought straight away and not gone through the struggle that came with this journey.

Could it maybe be that “blessed” also refers to that quality of “characterized by happiness” that comes from not being hindered by skepticism? A very friendly lady at Harmony Church, and having read my post said it I guess better than anyone could have told me:

You remind me of my husband, also an intellectual, always reading, writing, studying. But you know all this intellectual stuff can stand in the way of enjoying your relationship with God.

I guess the lady has a very strong point. The journey of the last years has been very rewarding in that I have found in the teachings of Jesus a fantastic guide to life. But all the intellectual exercises could very easily lead to making these powerful lessons into the “Ultimate Guide to Humanism”, you live according to the values but miss out on the joy that comes with placing your faith in Jesus and letting God be a living part of your life. In that sense:

blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed

There was never any doubt about whether or not a Creator existed, just look around you. But the next step is of course asking yourself the question what that God or creator is like. Can there really be such a thing as God interfering in human life and watching over us?

All I can say for now is since I opened myself up to this possibility and started seeking for the relationship, little miracles seem to happen every day.