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Today is the final day of the Nature Photo challenge. I had hoped to include the major regions of the world that I’ve visited, but doubled up on Europe and omitted North America. That simply reflects the amount of time I’ve spent in Europe, and the number of eligible photos I have. So today, I decided to come home. Right back to my roots, in fact.

The photo below is of the beach paddock on the farm where I grew up. This paddock was right on the coast. Just a stony beach stands between it and the Pacific Ocean. Our house was about half a mile inland, where we could still see and, when the wind was easterly and the breakers large, hear the sea.

I took the photograph just a few years ago when I took my mother for a nostalgic trip back to the farm and the district where she spent most of her life. It looks exactly as it did 40 years ago.

Green paddock filled with sheep, with Hunter Hills in the background.

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This time in 2009, we were on our first visit to Africa. I fell in love, and – supplanting those relaxing tropical beaches – invigorating but restorative African safaris became my favourite thing to do. I loved the bush – it’s not lush and beautiful like the New Zealand bush, but I adored the wide spaces, the huge thorns, the stark leadwood trees, and of course, the animals. I have posted many photos from our visits to South Africa, but here is one you haven’t seen before. I took this exactly seven years ago today.

Impala looking back at us

 

 

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There are different types of trips. Some are holidays, some are family visits, and some are tours. As much as I love visiting friends and family overseas, seeing local life and imagining, just for a moment, what it would be like to live there, it isn’t really a holiday. Tours are exciting, but often frenetic, moving on every few days, seeing new and fascinating sights, learning more about the world and ourselves. But they rarely give you time to truly relax. So for many years, we’ve interspersed such trips with a true holiday, lying on a tropical beach or beside a pool, where beer o’clock begins about 11 am, and where the most stressful issue is deciding which massage package to choose or what to have for dinner.

I’ve written already, briefly, about one of our favourite holidays here.

 

dinghy on the beach and a bottle of bollinger,

A perfect combination of a tropical island beach, and a wonderful product of nature (see Day 4).

 

 

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Wine is a wonderful combination of nature and skill. In certain regions of New Zealand, the landscape has changed over the last 40 years from grazing (sheep farming) to hectare after hectare of vines. But in parts of Europe, they have been there for centuries. Here we have a view of the home of prosecco, an area kissed by nature in northern Italy.

Rolling hills coated in vines, Prosecco country, Veneto, Italy

 

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Being a New Zealander, the stark, barren landscapes of the Middle East (or at least, the five countries I have visited so far) are always startling. Nature doesn’t bestow its bounty on all the world.

I wrote this about Jordan at the time:

My overwhelming memory of Jordan is the landscape, the sand, and the dust, the dust devils, the endless dust.  New Zealand is not only rich in soil, covering our bones, but rich in coverage as well – our land is draped in green, and beautifully adorned with rivers, beaches, snow, and trees.  Jordan on the other hand feels like a land stripped bare, down to the skeleton at times.  There seems to be nothing holding the mountains together, these mountains of dust and rock and scree.  They appear to be in desperate need of soil, veins of water, and vegetation to pull them together.  It was extraordinary and beautiful and yet painful to see.

Jordan's stark landscape, near Ma'in

 

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Today we have a photo from rural southeast Asia. The vibrant green of the rice fields is like no other, particularly in Vietnam, but also in Thailand, Philippines, and Bali. This is an old photo, taken in 1994. But I love the natural and time immemorial combination of humans, animals, and plants.

Rice fields on the way from Hanoi to Hai Phong.

Rice fields on the way from Hanoi to Hai Phong.

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There’s a challenge going around on Futterbucket, asking people to post photographs of nature for seven days in a row, and today someone picked me for it. I respond well to challenges like these, if I do say so myself. After all, last year in May I did a photo a day challenge! And I love photographing nature, even if I’m not very good at it. So, as well as doing it on Fb, I’m going to do it here too. Maybe the same photos, maybe not.

Today it is chilly, and I’ve had the heater on this morning. It was raining heavily earlier, too, though fortunately that has stopped. I just nipped out to buy a new, autumn-coloured winter coat – because that’s the kind of day it is. Maybe autumn really has arrived. It reminded me of Poland, where autumn was cold but startlingly beautiful. It’s been hard to choose just one photo. Would I go for a close up or a distant shot?

Of course, as I’ve gone through to choose a photo, I realise that my header on this blog is from Poland. To be precise, it was from Chopin’s birthplace. So I’ve gone here for a photo from a Warsaw park, bringing nature into the city.

Fallen leaves, Autumn in Warsaw 2013

Autumn in Warsaw 2013

 

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