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January 25, 2017 … how did we get to here already?

I may have mentioned that we are seeing a lot of our grandchildren in this period between start of school and end of parental holiday entitlement. Cooper is ten and has a (passing) fixation on World War I and biplanes, so told his parents that he wanted to build one with me.

Cooper and his ridiculously complicated chuck glider. He was happy

I should have talked him down a bit, and of course I did. We went from a large radio-controlled scale model with guns to a chuck glider more in keeping with a beginner. However, I gave him a reference book and the one he liked was the Bristol F2B fighter.  I sketched out a simplified caricature of the F2B but the odd characteristic of this big fighter is that neither of its wings mount directly to the fuselage. A degree of complication quite inappropriate for a total beginner. Thank heavens for cyanoacrylate glues. It flies when thrown, but is fragile so a more sensible choice will be made next time.

Tiger Moth
ZK-AJO was among the very first top-dressing planes in the world, serving with James Aviation from around 1948

Later in the week, we visited Te Papa, our National Museum. Frankly, as a museum, it mystifies me, and I have probably said before, I regard it as more of theme park than a true museum, The thing that is most on display seems to me to be the art of curatorship, rather than the artefacts used to make the displays. Still, the Tiger Moth was worth a look.

The wind flattened the waves inshore, though there were apparently some large waves out in the strait.

On Thursday last week, we had a forecast that suggested swells of up to six metres might be expected. It occurred to me that huge slow swells rolling in might make an interesting image in the first light of day. Sadly, the huge swells didn’t eventuate, though the wind was gusting at up to 150 km/h, so I gave it my best shot anyway.The surface of the water in the harbour mouth was buried beneath a layer of flying spray into which the ferry Kaitaki was battling to enter harbour. The loom of Baring Head can be seen behind the lights of the ship.

Sparrow in the spin-cycle

On Friday, there was a brief period of calm, with bright warm sun. A sparrow in a puddle caught my eye as it used the fresh rain water to cleanse its plumage, rotating its moving parts so rapidly that I called this image “the spin cycle”

Flowering gum near the parliamentary precinct

It’s that time of year when the pohutukawa blossoms are almost done, but the lurid color of the Australian flowering gum (Corymbia ficifolia) takes its place, so I tried to place the flagstaff on the Beehive as a backdrop. The flag is not at half mast, but there is a lightning conductor atop the mast itself which can give that impression



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January 18, 2017 … taking the weight off the springs

Finally, I have submitted my portfolio to the Photographic Society of New Zealand. My twelve images are intended to encapsulate the idea of shelter or haven as found in marinas. Whether I am successful or not depends on a panel of six very experienced photographic judges who will deliver their verdict sometime before the National Convention in April. I can now focus on some different topics.

Wellington City Library – Fiction section

In town last week for my first “old friend” lunch of the year, I used the underground carpark of the Wellington City Library. When I worked in the city, I could use it at no cost, but now that I am retired they want me to pay. It’s a very good library, but I am reading more and more electronically these days.

Air New Zealand’s stylised fern livery looks smart

On Friday my youngest daughter Lena (you may remember her as Helen) and her husband Vasely returned home from a trip to his homeland, Belarus and from there to Wellington via Prague, Frankfurt, Shanghai and Auckland. While waiting in the new domestic waiting area, I spotted a juxtaposition of ferns that I liked.

Pohutukawa and old wood


It’s that awkward time of year for working parents when they have to go back to work, but the kids are still on school holidays. Consequently Mary and I are seeing a lot of our grandchildren, Maggie and Cooper for the next week or so. We went out to Eastbourne with them. They were wandering around the shops and I took a sneaky side trip to the Eastbourne wharf. I was attracted to the row of sawn piles in contrast to the rough bark of the pohutukawa tree. The trees were absolutely humming with honey bees attracted by the blossoms.

Eastbourne beach from the old wharf

Despite the bright sun, there was a bleak Nor’Wester, so my walk along the wharf was brief¬† but gave me an unfamiliar view to the South along Eastbourne Beach. As I write this, the wind is winding up to a full gale with gusts to 160 km/h predicted. I guess the pohutukawa blossoms will take a beating.

Bees Birds flowers harbour Maritime Oriental Bay Seaview Weather Wellington

January 12, 2017 … “watching the tide roll away”*

I don’t think I could willingly move to an inland city. The sea will always be part of the world in which I live.

Ovation of the Seas returns to Wellington from Lyttelton

And so here I am again, at Eastbourne this time, watching the Ovation of the Seas enter Wellington Harbour. Have you noticed the phenomenon that makes a very large object appear to move more slowly than a smaller one at the same speed? Stand near a runway and watch a B747 or an A380 on approach and they seem to hang in the air. A B737 or an A320 by comparison zips in to land vary quickly. It’s an illusion. Likewise with the Ovation of the seas. Perhaps my eyes are reluctant to believe that anything that big can move at all.

I’ve done it before but I am delighted to see honey bees in significant numbers

While I was waiting for her to move into a different spot, I was aware of some buzzing behind me. It’s peak pohutukawa season or just past it, and there were hundreds of feral honey bees. For the longest time, I thought they had been eradicated by colony collapse disorder. I hope it isn’t too soon to hope that they are making a comeback. I have seen them in ones and twos , but apart from close to farmed hives, this was the first time I have seen them in the hundreds for many years.

Oriental Bay
Close to the water in Oriental Bay

Of course, much of the time, there is nothing at all moving at the harbour entrance other than the relentless swells from the deep ocean beyond. When that happens, I seek solace in the harbour and the marinas This image is inside the breakwater near the iconic boatsheds below St Gerard’s Monastery in Oriental Bay. I mounted the camera on the bottom of my tripod’s central pillar and placed it within centimetres of the water’s surface for a very low angle. A neutral density filter stilled the water even further though I had to limit the exposure to avoid the boats moving during the shot.

Seaview 1
Stillness at Seaview

Later in the week, another still day, this time at Seaview. The water was still and the sail must have been hoisted to air it, because it didn’t move at all. Low angles are harder here, because that rocky foreshore is very tough on my aging ankles and I am sure that passers-by snigger at my cautious clamber down the seawall to the “beach”, using the tripod as a prop to maintain my balance.

Work boats
Work boats at Seaview

Elsewhere in the marina, at the Southern end where the work boats gathered, I liked the somewhat scruffy looking vessel nearest the camera. I am guessing it to be a work boat though it carries non of the registration numbers a fishing boat wold normally display. Nevertheless, it has character.


Recently I have resumed walking for health (long overdue, some say) so a favoured course is the Petone Esplanade. The return walk from the car park at the Western end to the Port Rd intersection is 7.2 km and I am encouraged by my nearest and dearest to leave the camera behind. Sometimes I carry it anyway, just because I want to. Walking past Petone Wharf which has been firmly closed since the earthquake of November 14, I saw the extent of the problem. It seems that the footings for two of the piles have been seriously undermined. That’s quite a kink.






* Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding

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Mana marina
Mana marina – water as I like it

Happy new year to all who persist in reading or viewing this blog. Here in Wellington on the 4th of January, 2017, I still await anything resembling a summer. Often enough I wake and all is still, but I am not fooled. I watch the flax leaves, and soon after sunlight comes, they quiver and begin to oscillate as the lightest of breezes escalates into a near gale and I know that there will be no stillness on the sea. But every now and then, the flax is still. I give it a while and if it persists will then gather my gear and head out to whichever coast is more likely to stay calm the longest according to the forecast. In this case, it was Mana Marina at Paremata

Mana marina
Setting out for a fishing trip from Mana

Days like this have been rare this season, so far. The Marina has been busy, and Mana has a reasonable percentage of people who actually live on their boats, some of which are quite big. It has been nice to see a few of the vessels being loaded up for a summer break in the sounds and then heading out to sea.

Down the coast from Paekakariki Hill
Down the coast from Paekakariki Hill

It was a fantastic morning so I went to Queen Elizabeth Park hoping to find dabchick chicks. Alas, none were found and they are perhaps a couple of weeks away yet. Oh well, I decided to return home via the Paekakariki Hill road with a pause at the lookout near the top. Out to the South West we see Arapawa Island and other features of the Marlborough Sounds across an unusually flat Cook Strait. It’s a long way down to the coast road below.

Spirit of Wellington on a damp grey day

Since then the weather has been grey, often windy and sometimes wet. Yesterday was grey and wet, but relatively calm so I tried the Evans Bay Marina. There I found the Coastguard vessel “Spirit of Wellington” being prepared for a training day. I got low and with the water so calm, the camera was within a few centimetres of the surface.

Again, happy New Year to all.