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September 14, 2020 … but a walking shadow*

It’s well known to everyone of a certain age, that time moves faster as you get older. So here I am and it’s already two weeks since my last post, and relatively little seems to have happened. That last bit is the subject of a separate complaint. So let us see what is in the cupboard this time.

Cornflower blue

Spring is undoubtedly with us. There are lambs, cherry blossoms, daffodils, other flowers and a gale which today is expected to reach 120 km/h. My images this week seem to have a botanical leaning. I hope those of you with an engineering bent can cope.

Flannel plant

My neighbour kindly permitted me to steal a bit of this intriguing plant. From a distance it looks like a clump of yellow daisies. When you get close, it takes a different and more three-dimensional form.

First leaf of spring

It’s almost exactly four months since I made an image of the last leaf of the season on our Japanese maple, and now it has clad itself in new season’s clothes.

Follow your nose

The day was a bit rough, with a strong chilly wind. As I was coming back from the boat sheds at Hikoikoi Reserve, I saw a couple in silhouette, walking their dog along the ridge near the shore. The dog was on a long lead, and it was excitedly scanning the path for the scent of any potential enemy or past girl friends.

Cherry blossom

The season of cherry blossom is such a brief glory. A Japanese friend of Mary died recently, and knowing how she loved the ones in Upper Hutt, Mary obtained a sprig of it to leave on the casket.

Sculpture – artist unknown

In the suburb of Kingston, there is a reserve in which there is a stone pou whenua. According to Maori custom, a pou whenua (which is more usually carved from wood) is an assertion of ownership or custodianship of an area. This one was apparently erected by the people of the nearby Tapu Teranga marae. According to an article in Stuff, “The sculpture depicts Te Rauparaha, who faces Kapiti Island to the east, and his nephew Te Rangihaeata, who looks out to Tapu Te Ranga Motu, the island in Island Bay that once served as a refuge for local Maori.”

Tui in a cabbage tree

A brief visit to QEII Park near Paekakariki this well-built tui seemed unafraid.

Black-fronted dotterel at Hokio Beach

Though it’s a 200 km round trip, I love going to Hokio Beach to see the black-fronted dotterel. This tiny bird runs so fast that it appears to blow across the beach like so much fluff. They are a delight to watch.

the un-daffodil express

Each year at about this time, Steam Inc combine with the cancer society to organise a steam-hauled train from Wellington to Carterton where, in normal times, passengers are free to gather daffodils from a field planted for the purpose. Sadly, the organisation decided that social distancing rules made the daffodil collection unsafe this year. Steam Inc went ahead with the train journey anyway, since all seats had been sold ($99.00 per adult return). I caught it as the locomotive clattered across the steel bridge at Moera. I hoped for a more dramatic image on the return journey. Sadly, the train returned an hour ahead of the published schedule, so I was distressed to hear the steam whistle telling me I had missed it.

A host of golden daffodils **

So be it. There were still plenty of daffodils in various public gardens and on traffic islands so it’s easy to find consolation. for other disappointments.

  • *Macbeth, William Shakespeare
  • ** I wandered lonely as a cloud, Wordsworth
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February 22, 2018 … a need to take control

I suppose it’s a bit late in life to reach this conclusion, but I really need to stop letting life just happen to me. Every morning, there is a new day. And each day just seems to do what it likes with little or no guidance from me. Of course, any new policy of decisiveness will have to take into account that the weather will be unimpressed and just carry on as if I were not here. But there is more to this notion than weather, and perhaps that will become clear as I continue.

Petone wharf
Nice to see the Petone wharf reopened to recreational users after the earthquake damage some fifteen months ago.

You probably got the idea that we had one of those truly spectacular summers which is likely to be a future standard against which other summers are measured. It seems to have come to an end. Not suddenly, nor with an act of meteorological violence, but rather a soft drifting off into mists and grey cloud. For the most part the wind has remained calm so I can cope nicely with that.

Stillness at Waikanae

There were even some days when summer made a brief attempt at revival. This was at the Waikanae Estuary. I was just setting up when the thud of feet and the sound of dripping sweat and heavy breathing heralded the arrival of a secondary school physical training class. They promptly started attempting to form five-high pyramids with limited success. I grabbed my shot and moved on in the direction of Otaki Forks

tumbling brown water near Otaki Forks

The rivers were running quite high and the roads were crumbling in places as the recent rain had undermined a number of the edges above and below the road.

Now is not the time to sneeze

The weather really crumbled after that so I was reduced to still-life. Mary found a dandelion seed-head and I decided to get quite close.

I don’t know if this is the last of spring or the first of Autumn on our Japanese Maple

The next day, with everything still wet, Mary found another target for me … a solitary new shoot on our Japanese maple. I confess to having fiddled a little with this to separate the new pink shoot from the green leaves in the background.

I titled this image “the spin doctor”

At the weekend just passed, there was the annual fair at Petone. Crowds are not my thing and you need not scroll back far through this blog to recognise that I don’t often shoot images of people. But it is a colourful occasion and I found someone selling windmills, made of various durable materials.

Evans Bay
Evans Bay calm after the storm


Then cam ex-tropical cyclone Gita. Howling winds and heavy rain passed much further South than initially predicted but still gave us a hefty clip during the twelve or so hours of its passing. The prediction also suggested there would be some very serious waves to be had. By the time I got to Evans Bay in search of them, I knew there would be none.

Holland America Line’s Noordam stops to pick up the pilot to enter Wellington Harbour

In fact at the South Coast, the cruise liner Noordam was arriving, presumably diverted from somewhere that actually was disrupted by the storm, but this view is of the Pacific Ocean, looking South towards Antarctica. As you can see there is an absence of big waves.

ferry queue
Backlog of trucks waiting to cross the strait after the storm cancelled some ferry sailings

On my way back to town, I spotted what seemed like a colourful ribbon across the harbour. It wasn’t until I put the long lens up to the eyepiece that I realised I was seeing the heavy traffic queue waiting for the next interisland ferry. So, that’s the week as it happened to me.




Architecture Landscapes Railway Waikanae Weather

November 28, 2014 … on the road less travelled*

Lunch happened at Waikanae yesterday.

Electric unit
The English Electric unit wearing the blue and silver colours used from 1938 to 1949, leaves Paekakariki by truck to become a restaurant


On the way there, I drove past the Paekakariki premises of Steam Inc, where I saw the highly unusual sight of one of the old electric rail units being loaded onto a house moving trailer. Most Wellingtonians referred to these as the “Red Rattlers” since, for most of their operational lives, they were painted red. This one was painted blue with a silver stripe. Inquiry reveals that this was the original colour scheme way back in July 1938. It seems this pair are destined to become a restaurant in Paraparaumu.

Cloud obscures the hills behind Waikanae


After lunch, I decided to go home via the Akatarawa road. This road may best be described as “hairy” with some steep grades, and very narrow winding sections. However, some low cloud shrouding the hills as I left Waikanae promised some interesting landscape possibilities.

St Andrew’s Church hall, Reikorangi. One of its musket ports can be seen between the two large windows


Not very far up the road, in Reikorangi, a St Andrews Cross fluttering bravely on a tiny church looked interesting. I jumped to the conclusion that this was a Presbyterian Church, but I was wrong. St Andrews in this case is Anglican, and the flag was in honour of St Andrews Day which occurs on November 30.  The church hall was moved on site from Parewanui, in the Rangitikei district. A very distinctive feature of this former church was the musket ports on either side, apparently intended to defend the occupants in case of attack during an intertribal war in the district. They were never used.

At the top of the Akatarawa Rd, looking West


At the summit of the climb out of Waikanae, there was a very obscured view back towards the coast and if you look carefully near the top of this image you can just see the coastline.

That will do for the day.

* M. Scott Peck The Road Less Travelled

Birds Cars Southwards Car Museum Waikanae Weather

July 31, 2014 … food, feathers and fast cars

Good friends can be the source of trouble.

Welcome Swallow in high-speed pursuit of insects

This is because there is usually food involved. I met with a friend of very long standing (he gets stroppy if I refer to him as an old friend) for a very pleasant lunch at Waikanae yesterday, and after we had eaten we went to the lagoons at the Waikanae estuary. There were scaups and swans, shags and dabchicks and a veritable horde of swallows. Swallows are particularly challenging to photograph. They are fast and agile, and since they are chasing insects, they change speed, direction and altitude. I keep trying but rarely catch one close enough to make a good image. Even if I do get them in the viewfinder, they rarely stay there for long enough for the autofocus to work. so there is a great deal of luck involved. This is my best shot of the Welcome Swallow (Hirundo tahitica) in flight so far.

Waimeha stream mouth at Waikanae

From there we went along to the Waimeha stream in the hope of seeing wading birds at the beach. The sun on the water made photography quite difficult, but worth a try.

Oystercatchers staying out of the tumbling surf at Waikanae

As it turned out there were a few oystercatchers about but it was otherwise quiet. Ah well, in accordance with all the best recipes for the disposal of lemons I tried to make something of of a “high key” image with the tumbling surf as backdrop.

Luxury motoring on a grand scale – Southwards Car Museum

On the way home, I called in at the Southwards car  museum. I have been there many times before and try always to make something of the juxtaposition of so much polished paint and gleaming chrome. A cluster of Mercedes-Benz cars with a Rolls-Royce Phantom V and a huge Hispano-Suiza seemed like a place to start.

I have red that all Italian cars are red, no matter what colour they are painted. One of Signor Bugatti’s masterpieces. They were said to have poor brakes. His alleged answer was “I build my cars to go, not to stop!”

There are so many superbly restored cars there that it is hard to keep track of which ones are the most spectacular. For pure Italian flair, this wonderful Bugatti saloon is among my favourites.

An American racing car … no surplus weight on this, not even doors.

Few people these days are familiar with the Stutz racing cars and since this one dates back to 1915 that’s no surprise . It looks purposeful, doesn’t it?

Something different tomorrow.

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July 13, 2014 … dawn to dusk

That darned pendulum!

Hutt Valley dawn
My first glimpse of the nw day

Give it a push and then get out of the way or it hits you in the face.  Yesterday was something of a disaster, photographically speaking. It began well enough, with an interesting show of colour through the morning curtains. I grabbed the camera and grabbed a shot.

An explosion of colour … it lasted perhaps five minutes and dissolved to grey

It seemed likely that things would change. They did, so I grabbed another shot.

Pukerua Bay
Pink and grey … a drab end to the day

After that the day turned ugly. It was wet, grey, cold and just plain nasty. I got busy with camera club stuff and then we went up to Waikanae to celebrate a friend’s birthday. As we came down into Pukerua Bay, the last glimmer of sunlight added a little colour to an otherwise dull scene and brought an end to a photographically dull day.

And that’s all for today.