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  • Wow, I haven’t done a Monday Miscellany for three months. It’s all I can manage today because the last five nights, I’ve been staying up watching Wimbledon tennis matches. Unfortunately, they have all started around 12.30 to 1 am. And go through until it’s almost time to get up. (The other day I didn’t get to bed until 6.45 am!!!) Fortunately, I don’t have to get up for work! But it has meant that I’ve been feeling rather jet-lagged, and I definitely need a nap after I’ve finished my Monday blogs. I do love watching the matches live though – it’s not the same watching them the next day. The other night watching the women’s Final, I had fun whatsapping with my sister-in-law who lives in Australia and was supporting Ash Barty, and my other sister-in-law in Malaysia who was supporting both. (I said that meant she would win regardless, but she said it would mean she’d feel sad for the loser no matter who it was.) I also commented that it felt very strange to be supporting an Australian, as we usually joke here that we support NZ, and anyone playing Australia!
  • I thoroughly enjoyed a recent morning out doing some errands, stopping for a coffee and Danish pastry (because I skipped breakfast), and a fossick around one new furniture shop, and another that was filled with work from local producers. It would have been lovely on a miserable day (which we had a few at the beginning of this week), but today the sky is blue, there is no wind, and although it is cold, it’s beautiful. I now have the windows open airing out the house.
  • Major routine health checks done and dusted, one for another couple of years, the other for five years. Yay. It’s always a relief.
  • My blog is a book. No, not really, don’t get excited. My blog is not a book. But I have a document filled with all my posts, and with drafts not yet written, and I’ve noticed that it is 383, 199 words, or 674 pages! That’s enough for four books! Good grief. Maybe it’s time to split the document in two. I don’t want it to get so big that it is out of control.
  • I’ve had a knitting break for the last few months. Then about a week ago, just as I was getting back into it, I dropped a stitch. Now, I’ve been knitting since I was a child (well, with a 30 year break!), so I know how to pick up stitches. But this pattern was very tight, with tiny needles and stitches, and the wool was a very dark brown, so it was hard to see and find. I couldn’t pick up the stitch. It unravelled more. Argh! And the more I tried, the fluffier the wool got, making it harder to see. I had to wait till daytime to try, and I was still struggling to find it. Finally, yesterday, I stood in the window in the sunlight, and think I managed to fix it, but I’m not 100% sure. I figure I’ll warn the recipient when it is finished, and just say that I’ve taken on the philosophy of the Middle Eastern carpet makers, who deliberately put in mistakes, because to err is human, and perfection is divine! On the plus side, the dark brown wool makes the repair almost impossible to see.
  • I had another lovely morning out just last Friday, when the weather was again perfect winter weather – cold and calm and sparkling. (As it is today, I might add.) I headed out to the south coast of Wellington, where we can both see the South Island, or south to the Antarctic, and there’s nothing in between. Better photographers go out in wild weather, and impress me with huge waves and dark clouds. But I decided this was just a scoping trip, spent a happy hour or so out there with my camera (some examples below), thinking about what photos I might try, or locations that look good, and wishing I had different lenses and my tripod.
  • And on every trip out, whether it is to the supermarket or a more interesting adventure, I pass the roadworks on the gorge from my hill suburb down to the city. We currently have a section that is only one lane, and the workers at either end of the road works keep a check on the traffic lights. Recently, two cheerful women (at either end of the single lane section) have started waving happily as we go pass. Sometimes it’s a small wave, other times it’s wild and crazy and joyful. We can’t help but smile, and wave back. They make the day better.

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Wellington, my city, is filled with native trees, the large majority of which are evergreen. But I grew up in the South Island, where years of colonisation and farming have ensured that rivers are lined with willows, poplars are used as windbreaks, and autumn colours are everywhere. But it has been 35 years since I moved to Wellington, so I had forgotten how gorgeous autumn can be in the south. I’d even forgotten when autumn occurred there, and had expected to miss the autumn colours on our trip south last month. But I didn’t.

Whilst I love the poplars, the willows were my favourite. They now adorn the header of this blog, as you can see. I was just so happy every time I saw them.

Whilst our natural lakes and fjords are mostly lined with native trees (future tree posts), this isn’t always the case in more arid areas, or with artificial lakes, where willows are often planted on the shore’s edge. At least, I think they are willows. Who cares? They’re beautiful.

Another in the Thursday Tree Love series – find all the other bloggers doing it here.

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I continue to learn about photography. Lessons I learned over the last month:

  1. Phone or camera. Whatever you have at hand is probably the best. I got this on my phone, because it was raining and I didn’t want my camera to get wet.
  1. Take a tripod. I know I should use mine more, especially for landscape photography, but knowing it is in the car is a great relief, just in case I need it.
  2. Remember that selfie stick that my niece gave me. Pop it in your handbag or backpack. All too often one of us will say, “oh, I left it in the car!”
  3. New Zealand roads often have wide verges, making it safe to pull off the road and take scenic shots.
  1. Take photos through the car windscreen if there’s nowhere to stop. Some of the pictures aren’t usable – remember to clean the windows! – but some are surprisingly clear and perfect.
  1. When Google says a particular route will take 3 ½ hours, they are not factoring in stops for roadside shots (or loo stops, or stretch-your-leg stops, or food-and-drink stops). A sign-posted 20-minute walk into the bush from the road will inevitably be longer, not because I’m a slow walker, but because I like to snap away with my camera or phone. Allow plenty of time. It gives a photographer a real sense of freedom.
  2. Take a tolerant driver/partner. Mine is happy to stop for photos, if it is convenient and safe. Most of the time. Sometimes he’ll even turn around and go back for a shot, if the road isn’t busy. In New Zealand, especially with international borders closed, most tourist roads aren’t very busy!
  3. Be decisive. Wishy-washy statements like “oh, that could be a nice shot, maybe we should …” are just annoying!  As I have been told many times. “Stop!” is a much more acceptable instruction.
  4. Know when enough is enough. (We don’t want to test #7! I was getting close when I was snapping all the autumn colours.) But don’t be left with regrets.
  5. Do a bit of research about scenic spots. Google street view was helpful a couple of times to decide where to detour. I got this pic as a result:
  1. Move. It’s one of the pieces of advice for photographers that I am worst at following. But moving to get the right composition really helps me get some of my favourite shots. Getting down on my knees, or squatting, also helps get a better shot. Scrambling down to rivers, being prepared to get wet or dirty, etc would all give me much better shots, but I am still bad at this.
  2. If you want to post photos on the move, which I do, check the photos and give them a quick edit. I import camera photos onto my phone through a camera app and my camera’s wifi, and can then edit them either with my phone software or another app. I particularly like Snapseed. But any app will allow you to crop or straighten a photo to get the shot you intended.
  3. Last but not least, ensure you take the right battery charger. I had double checked, but still accidentally picked up the wrong charger. Fortunately I discovered this error near a shop that had a good, cheap replacement that I was able to pick up the next morning. (It helped that we had an easy day of driving scheduled that day). The husband misguidedly suggested I could travel to some of our country’s most scenic destinations with just a phone for photos. Ultimately, he was very glad I ignored that suggestion.

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