Categories
Children Eastbourne Family Food

December 31, 2014 … the first three years

It’s New Year’s Eve here, and this marks the end of the first three years.

Maggie
Maggie May (aged 10) with her new haircut.

 

I have been committed to taking at least one photograph every day for four years now, and have been blogging along with it for three years. I like to think that, slowly, oh so slowly, the discipline is helping me to see more clearly, and to make better images of what I see. My first picture from yesterday was of my lovely granddaughter Maggie who had her tenth birthday a few days ago. She wanted a particular hairstyle for the new year, so her mother took her to get it done. Personally I have more conservative preferences, but the joy of having it her way just lights up her face.

lamb
Perfectly done barbecued lamb

 

My friend and fellow photographer Evan had a birthday yesterday and kindly invited me to join in the celebratory barbecue at his home in Eastbourne. Vegetarians avert your eyes, but the marinated barbecued lamb was amazing!

Cat
“Where’s mine?”

 

The family cat didn’t get any of the lamb and protested about it.

Pavlova
A magnificent pavlova made by Dawn.

 

The rest of us were enjoying everything on offer and making silent promises to our bathroom scales that we really will start the new regime on Friday. Evan’s wife Dawn produced a magnificent pavlova which ticked all the boxes in this nation of pavlova critics. Brilliant! And in case there is any lingering doubt about whose national dessert it is, here is the last word.

kite surfer
Airborne kite surfer

 

On the way home in the late afternoon, I saw this fellow kite-surfing off Eastbourne beach. The wind was quite strong so he was getting some serious air time with what seemed like ten or fifteen second flights.

That’s it, I refuse to write another word until next year. Have a good one.

 

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Categories
Birds Cook Strait Evans Bay harbour Landscapes Weather Wellington

December 30, 2014 … on the edge of a deep blue sea

Summer is still trying to break through.

Fishing
Fishing on the edge

 

Yesterday was one of its better attempts recently. As always when the weather plays nicely, I want to be near the sea. In Evans Bay, a man was fishing from a storm water outfall pipe. It was barely above the rising tide, and the picture of the angler almost walking on water appealed.

Cloud
Cumulonimbus cloud (I think)

 

On Evans Bay Parade, the wall of towering cloud over the Tararuas demanded attention. Apparently there were some forecasts that suggested thunder was imminent. Despite the great height of these clouds I saw or heard no sign of thunder.

Swans
A herd of swans or, if you prefer, a lamentation of swans.

 

On my way home, I checked Hikoikoi in case our old friend the white heron had returned, but I need to face up to the fact that it is almost 18 months since I last saw one there. A herd of swans (yes, that is the correct collective noun)  was impressive but no substitute for the missing heron.

Weather
Incoming weather from the South

 

Since it was time for dinner, I headed towards home, but paused on the Esplanade at Petone to catch the cloud in the South. Most of our weather seems to come from down there.

Goodnight all.

Categories
Birds Mangaroa Valley Railway The Plateau Trees Whiteman's Valley

December 29, 2014 … bush at the edge of the city

We seem to have developed a new tradition.

Rata
Rata in bloom on the Plateau near Upper Hutt

 

Mary makes a picnic lunch and then I drive us to a surprise location. Yesterday’s trip was a bit constrained by fears of holiday congestion on the main roads. I went over the hill to Whiteman’s Valley, up through the Mangaroa Valley and up Plateau Rd to Tunnel Gully. Tall bush at the foot of the road up to Mt Climie was spectacularly lush. Several magnificent Rata were in bloom, a burst of dusky red against a sea of green.

Tunnel
Emerging from the Mangaroa tunnel on the downhill side

 

Our destination was chosen because, despite the number of time I had been up to the Plateau area, I had never seen the Mangaroa tunnel. We followed a well-formed path from the picnic area into the bush and within a minute or two were at the mouth of the old railway tunnel. Though we could see the other end quite clearly, the 221 metre tunnel is long enough that it is very dark inside. The tiny light on my key ring is designed to illuminate keyholes and was quite useless against the unrelenting blackness. A young woman running behind us with her two dogs told as she passed that the biggest hazard in the tunnel were the horse droppings. We emerged blinking at the other end.

Pines
Dense stand of mature pines

 

Birdsong was all around us and I could hear tui, bellbird, fantail, blackbird and grey warblers at least. Unfortunately the bush was so dense that the birds were able to be heard, but rarely seen. The trail led relentlessly downhill towards Maymorn, and I always think that downhill tracks have to be repaid if you want to get back to where you left the car. The path passes through a dense stand of pines and Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” came to mind.

Bush
A random bush shot on the ridge

 

At Maymorn station, we turned back and instead of passing through the tunnel chose the track up over the very ridge that the tunnel is designed to avoid. The quality of the bush os outstanding and we count ourselves fortunate to have such easy access to such a treasure.

That’s all for today

 

Categories
Architecture Food Landscapes Miramar Wellington

December 28, 2014 … bright cloth, fresh fruit and razor wire

Yesterday was a quiet day.

Fabric
Filling in time waiting for the shopping to be over

 

In the morning Mary had some shopping and I decided to wait outside. Some shops just don’t work for me. On the other hand the bright fabrics on the stand at the door caught my eye.

Berries
Fresh picked the same day

 

While we were out, I learned that one of the growers from the Wairarapa had sent a truckload of fresh berries over the hill and was selling them at the roadside in Silverstream. Will the day ever come when we can evoke not only the colour, but the feel and smell of such things in a photograph?

DSCF0825
The harbour entrance seen from Mt Crawford

 

After lunch I wandered in the Miramar area. There is a nice view from the top of Mt Crawford, towards the harbour entrance, so that was captured with no great distinction.

Prison
The receiving pen. The prison van would arrive here from the court and the prisoners would go through the door on the right to begin their sentence

 

Behind me was the dismal institution, Mt Crawford Prison. This was a low to medium security prison which is now closed, and perhaps will be demolished one day. For the present, it sits atop one of the best viewpoints in Wellington, surrounded by its shield of gloomy pines.

That’s all for now.

Categories
Architecture Birds Wairarapa Weather

December 27, 2014 … warmth in the Wairarapa

A surprise trip was what I was asked for.

Canola
Near Onoke Spit. The thermometer in my car suggested that the outside temperature was well in excess of 30 degrees C. The bright yellow canola crop was worth a shot.

 

Mary said “I’ll make lunch, you choose where we go, but don’t tell me till we get there.” My undisclosed destination was Onoke Spit on the Eastern side of Lake Onoke. As we went over the hill, we left behind a somewhat grey day and emerged into bright sunshine and rapidly escalating temperatures. At Featherston, we turned to the South and drove down the length of Western Lake Road until we reached the turnoff road to the spit. A field of canola provided an interesting variation to begin with.

yellowhammer
A yellow-hammer chirping in the long grasses near our lunch spot

 

We arrived at lunch time so before we wandered along the spit, we enjoyed a delightful lunch by the car near the water for the second day in a row. This time, no bad weather threatened, and despite a steady breeze, it was very warm. Birdsong was all around, and most easily identifiable was the joyful warbling of the skylark. We didn’t see any for quite a while, but a cheerful little yellow-hammer was enjoying its own lunch within the seeds of the long grass nearby.

Dotterels
A pair of banded dotterels on Onoke Spit

 

With lunch done, we began the stroll along the spit and to our great pleasure we saw significant numbers of banded dotterels. These delightful little birds are hard to find near Wellington, so it was especially good to see them in such numbers.

dotterel chick
In case you haven’t found it, the dotterel chick is in the lower left of the picture. Mother waits anxiously nearby

 

Because we were on a wide sand-spit with little shelter or concealment, we could not get very close to the birds. As I went forward as stealthily as I could, they retreated just as quickly. I had to use the long lens at full stretch. Then I saw what at first I thought to be a feather blowing along behind an adult dotterel. Closer inspection revealed that the “feather” had legs. A dotterel chick!  We saw several more, now that we knew what to look for. Look at the colour of the bird against the beach. No wonder they are hard to find.

farm house
The sad remains of once grand dreams

 

On the way down the lake, I had spotted a decaying farmhouse. As we went back, I stopped and asked permission to enter the property to photograph it. The farmer was very delighted that someone had the courtesy to ask first, and gave helpful advice, especially on avoiding the somewhat aggressive bulls in the adjacent paddock.

It was a fantastic day.

Categories
Birds Family Festivals and fairs Food Pauatahanui Seasons Weather

December 26, 2014 … the siesta is a fine tradition

Another Christmas is now in the rear-view mirror.

Weather
The weather was warm and still and reasonably dry until we had our lunch. After that, it dropped.

 

As I said in yesterday’s post, our family is thoroughly dispersed this year, so Mary and I made our own arrangements. We had decided to have a picnic lunch at Pauatahanui where, on other occasions I have sat in wait for kingfishers. There is a magnificent tree there and a seat near the car park. We chose to use our own folding seats, and spread our excellent lunch out and enjoyed each other’s company, despite the obvious band of weather approaching from the South. We finished lunch, Mary was reading a book, and I was sitting in the car having a postprandial nap. There was a sudden splatter of rain and then the view just disappeared.

Kayaks
Trying out the new toys, perhaps? Lowry Bay.

 

Happily the rain didn’t last for long and later in the afternoon I was at liberty to find my images for the day. In Lowry bay, a young couple were rather tentatively trying out what I think were new kayaks. The contrast with the dark water appealed to me.

Spoonbill
Somnolent spoonbill

 

At the Hutt River estuary some Royal Spoonbills were again making the most of a plentiful harvest with little concern for its murky past and its legacy of industrial heavy metals in the mud.  As with the previous shot, the dark water made a nice background to one of the birds who, like me, needed to nap after a good meal.

Pohutukawa
Metrosideros excelsa … the pohutukawa in all its Christmas glory

 

Where the road crosses the river , there is a sturdy stand of pohutukawa trees, and since it is known as New Zealand’s Christmas Tree, it seems an appropriate way to bring this year’s festivities to a conclusion.

I can feel my eyes closing again, so more tomorrow.

Categories
Architecture Birds Hutt River Pauatahanui Weather Wellington

December 25, 2014 … merry Christmas

My seasonal greeting is an expression of who I am.

Stilt
Pied stilt on sentry duty

 

It is not intended to diminish you or your beliefs, so please accept it in the spirit in which it is offered. For those of you with other beliefs, I offer you the warmest wishes appropriate to your culture or faith.  Meanwhile, out on the inlet, the birds are blissfully unaware. This pied stilt was on sentry duty and marched back and forth, scolding me all the while.

Tui
Tui on flax

 

Meanwhile, on a flax stalk near my chosen shooting spot, a tui came very close and got photographed for its pains.

Chews Lane
Chews Lane, in the shadow of the apartment block which occupies the airspace above the buildings on either side

 

I had a little last minute shopping to do before the country closed down for Christmas so went into the city. Parking was problematic, so I had to walk a way to get to the shop I had in mind. My walk took me through Chews Lane, a pedestrian precinct that runs between Victoria Street and Willis Street. Once the site of light commercial warehouses and delivery doors, it is now the home to several trendy coffee shops, sushi bars  and other slightly upmarket establishments.

Willis St
On Willis St

 

With my purchase made, I was walking back up Willis street and I liked the contrasting textures on visually adjacent buildings.

Spoonbills
“Stop sulking Cyril, I did notice you new hair style”

 

On my way to meet Mary for an early evening Christmas service, I paused as I went by the estuary at Hikoikoi where some Royal Spoonbills were browsing in the mud.

And that’s Christmas posting for another year.

Categories
Architecture Light Maritime Plant life Seasons Sunset Weather Wellington

December 24, 2014 … unexpected sunshine

We seem to be having a sample of Summer.

Piano
People are welcome to play the piano, though there is a donation box for the periodic tuning required.

 

I am sure there is a catch, a “gotcha” lurking in the wings. For the second successive day, bright sunshine and warmish temperatures around 25 degrees C.  On the waterfront, near Frank Kitts Park, there is a piano which is available for members of the public to play. A young man was enjoying himself, encouraged by his friends.

Robert C Seamans
Robert C Seamans, a sail training ship from Woods Hole, Massachusetts

 

Oh, you noticed the sailing ship in the background? She is the Robert C Seamans out of Woods Hole, MA. A fine looking vessel, she is classified by her owners as a brigantine. My reading suggests that a true brigantine is square-rigged on the foremast and has some square sails on the main mast. The absence of the latter suggests she is more accurately a hermaphrodite brig.  Either way, she is very pretty, and yes, the traditions of the sea still cause a ship to be “she”even when named for a man.

Pohutukawa
Pohutukawa in bloom downtown

 

Behind the piano man, the city tower blocks were contrasted against the riot of pohutukawa at their base.

Sunset
Petone Sunset

 

I thought I had done for the day, but the evening light lured me out again. I got a few shots I liked but enjoyed this one of the city from Petone Beach as the sun disappears in the West

It’s Christmas Eve here, so I’m off to bed.

Categories
Architecture Birds Pauatahanui Reflections Sunset

December 23, 2014 … golden weather

One of those golden evenings happened yesterday.

Judgeford
The roofing iron has gone, but the essential character of the building is still there

 

No wind, warm light, clear skies and I just knew it was going to be special. With a generous spousal dispensation, I packed up and went over the Haywards towards Pauatahanui where I hoped for some sunset reflections. On the way, to my great delight, I discovered that the shed at Judgeford had been  granted a brief stay of execution. I spotted the farmer in the paddock, astride his quad bike chatting to a neighbour. A quick U-turn and I learned that the iron had been removed from the roof and the final push from the tractor was imminent.  With his permission, I went into the paddock and got a closer acquaintance with the old building before it disappears forever.

Shed
A crude shelter, a guiding star, all that is missing is the baby. There were some sheep nearby, but no shepherds.

 

As I walked around it, the setting sun made an appearance between the roof members and I had to make that shot. I could see a seasonal connection here with a crib in a far off land and a star. I don’t know if a yellow-jacketed farmer on a big Honda quad-bike is the equivalent of a shepherd, or a wise man, but the image was there.

Chicks
Pied stilt with three of its four chicks

 

My next stop was at the ponds in Pauatahanui where I saw the pied-stilt chicks again. There were four of them, though only three appear in this shot. It is astonishing how much bigger and more independent they have become in the very few days since they hatched.

Sunset
A perfect end to a lovely evening

 

Did I mention sunset reflections? Ration creek is hazardous. I can never resist a sidelong glance along it as I drive across the bridge. There is no adjacent parking so I had to go on a bit to a place where another U-turn could be done safely and came back across the bridge and walked back to the right line. I took several shots as the sun completed its disappearing act and chose this as the best of them.

Goodnight all.

Categories
Architecture Art Naenae Weather Wellington

December 22, 2014 … slow start and better ending

Days have been ending differently.

Subway
Pedestrian subway from Naenae shops to railway station and beyond

 

Grey mornings transform slowly into bright sunny afternoons. It’s better than staying grey, I suppose. Our day began with a visit form nephew Daniel who we met at Naenae station. I was impressed by the cleanliness of the tunnel from the shopping centre to the railway station, though I wondered if the cross-section of the tunnel was diminished as each successive set of graffiti is painted over.

Hydrangeas
Karl Maughan’s imposing Hydrangeas.

 

After a visit to the grave of Mary’s parents and his grandparents, we enjoyed a good cup of coffee and morning tea at the Dowse Museum in Lower Hutt. One of the paintings on display was an impressive nine-metre long painting by Karl Maughan, of hydrangeas in the Wellington Botanical Gardens.

St Pauls'
Old St Paul’s, a symphony of polished wood, stained glass and brass.

 

In the afternoon, I went into the city to see what I could find. I paused at Old St Paul’s. This splendid church was conceived by its architect as a Gothic cathedral made in stone, but was executed in native timber. Though  it is now a historic place rather than an active church, it is still a place of great reverence and is the repository for battle honours from the Royal Navy and the United States Marine Corps.

Sculpture
Wind-kinetic sculpture on Lambton Quay

 

From there I wandered along parts of Lambton Quay where I got a different take on the same sculpture I photographed a few days ago. I know it is fashionable to sneer at modern architecture, but I rejoice in  the various textures in the background.

Boulcott St
Antrim House, Boulcott Street

 

I went up Plimmer’s Steps and then down Boulcott Street where I paused to photograph Antrim House, now home to an art school, I believe.

Dappled
Dappled light

 

My final shot of the day is on lower Willis Street where the lovely old National Mutual Life Insurance company building was shimmering in the light reflecting from the glass wall in the building across the road. A friend said he had been counselled not to shoot in dappled light, but in this instance, the dappling is the very subject of the image.

That’s all today.