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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



adversity Architecture Birds Models night Pencarrow sunrise Wellington

April 20, 2015 … from dawn into the night

Well that was a long and interesting day.

A clear morning and mist from over the hill

Morning mist spilling over the hill from Wainuiomata was a good beginning and hinted at a clear calm day ahead.

Fantail launch

So it proved for most of the day. I took myself out to Pauatahanui in the hope of seeing a kingfisher which my friend Toya seems to be seeing in large numbers. Just one bird in the distance that flew away. I looked up and by way of consolation, a fantail performed a near perfect spread. Pity about the intervening branches.

A New Zealand soldier projected onto the carillon

In the evening, Mary and I went to Pukeahu park. For old Wellingtonians who don’t know where that is, it is a newly formed large open park which embodies a war memorial  in front of the carillon near the former Dominion Museum. The road from the basin Reserve now passes through the Arras Tunnel beneath the park and re-emerges on Taranaki Street and carries on to the motorway entrance at Willis Street. From now until ANZAC day (April 25th) there is a repeating sound and light show projected onto the carillon and onto the old museum. This is to commemorate the centenary of the Gallipoli campaign.

A waterfall of poppies

There were several hundred images cycling onto both structures and some of them were very moving indeed. A sequence that I liked began with a name and a poppy scrolling down the building, then more names and poppies in increasing intensity until there was just a cascade of poppies, one for each fatality.

Part of the Belgian Village inside the 1914 space

Inside the former museum, Sir Peter Jackson has set up a series of spaces, one for each year of the war. Inside each space are artefacts, models and representations appropriate to the progress of the war. A village in Belgium is the opening scene for 1914.

Horse drawn supply wagon buzzed by a Belgian plane

As the war progresses through the spaces, the representations become more bleak and takes us closer to the front. These figures and related props are life-sized. I am not 100% sure of my identification, but I think the Belgian aircraft is a Caudron of one sort or another.

In the trenches

Some of the scenes represented are quite hard to look at, but the craftsmanship and the respect with which everything is presented are superb. A recurring feature in each of the years is a representation of Sir Peter’s own grandfather who survived the war, but lost an arm in 1918.  The closing scene is of a very young Peter Jackson standing with his grandfather against a background of poppies and wounded heroes. The whole thing is magnificently done, and will be on display (with free entry) until 2018.

That’s all for now.

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April 6, 2014 … I don’t remember growing older, when did they?*

Still running a day behind in posting.

Model Messerschmitt
David’s model of a Messerschmitt Bf 109k4

This blog relates to Saturday 5th of April. In the morning I went with our eldest son, David to a model show in Upper Hutt. David is an avid, and in my admittedly biased opinion,  expert model maker. He discovered that he would be in Wellington at the same time as the local exhibition, so naturally enough, he brought a model over from Brisbane to enter into the competition. His Messerschmitt Bf109K4  is shown here, sitting on the table at the exhibition. If it looks scruffy, it is because part of the modeller’s art is to make the model look like the real thing as it appeared in the field,  complete with chips, scratches, oil leaks, exhaust stains,  wear and tear and general weathering. He got a third place for this.

IPMS competition
General display of the exhibition hall at Upper Hutt … modellers are still delivering their models to the competition

This was a reasonably large exhibition as these things go and as I understand it was well patronised and well-organized.

IMG_8120Day's Bay
Warm bright afternoon at Day’s bay

In the evening, as an ongoing part of the celebrations sneakily organized by Mary, the whole family and some close friends gathered for dinner at Eastbourne. The day had been nearly perfect, and the evening was pleasantly warm and bright, and was the last day before we put our clocks back an hour to NZ Standard time. People were out and about enjoying themselves.

Mary and I with our children
Our kids. We have been mightily blessed and are proud of each and every one of them. L to R, Anthony (Ants), Catherine, Mary, me, Helen, David and Andrew (Drew) (Photo by Phil Benge)

It seems there is no limit to my wife’s sneakiness, because she had even arranged a photographer to come and do some family photographs before dinner. For the second time in the history of the blog, I include some pictures taken by others. Mary and I are seen here with our five children.

Here are the people I love most in the whole world. It was a great joy to me that they all honoured me by coming home for my birthday (photo by Phil Benge)

My friend and fellow camera club member, Phil, did a good job organizing and marshalling the whole tribe, and after each formal set, said “now talk to each other”. Here you see all eighteen of us together. It seems just a few days ago that the youngest grandchild, Grace was a baby … look at her now … and those other lovely children who are a total delight to me. No wonder I am reminded of Tevye’s song “… when did she get to be a beauty? When did he get to be so tall?”*

Cobar interior
What an excellent setting for a celebration – the Cobar restaurant, Days Bay. The front doors are open and some customers are out at the tables on their deck.

The chosen venue, the Cobar Restaurant has long been a favourite of mine and I heartily commend it to anyone who can get to that side of the harbour. The food is great, they have some very nice wines and a lovely situation on the seashore.

Birthday Candles
The culmination of the celebration , and the secret number uncovered (Photo by Mary

It was a very happy occasion and concluded as birthday celebrations often do with a cake, and the candles should dispel any remaining mystery.

That’s enough for now.

*from “Sunrise, sunset” lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, from “Fiddler on the Roof”