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Archive for the ‘Autumn’ Category

I’ve written quite often about why I love Autumn. It is one of my favourite seasons, perhaps my favourite. But only once it settles in. But this year, after a not great summer, I have thought of a few things I dislike about autumn. And because I do like to be balanced, I’m going to list them here:

  1. The early arrival of darkness in the evenings, once the clock has gone back.
  2. Especially the darkness when it is still warm outside, and we could be sitting out enjoying the sunset and the views at 6.30 pm.
  3. The end of Thursday Pasta and Chardonnay evenings (as a result of the end of summer golf evenings for my husband). I still get both pasta and chardonnay over the winter – but not as regularly, and not always the pasta I want. Sigh. Autumn means more marital compromise!
  4. Changeable weather. I should be used to it, living in New Zealand. But in autumn, I never know if it is going to be summery or wintry temperatures, whether it will rain, etc. But it means I never know what clothes to wear.
  5. Wardrobe havoc. On a cold autumn day I will often decide to rearrange my wardrobe (closet) and my drawers, moving out the summer T-shirts, tops, and dresses, not to mention sandals, jandals, etc to a more remote set of drawers or a wardrobe in another room. Then just a few days later (like today), I realise I moved them too soon. (And this year I can’t even get to the drawers where I moved things a week or so ago, because they’re crowded out with boxes for the brothers-in-law from the in-laws’ house.)
  6. Leaving shopping for winter clothing too late, when days like today lull me into a false sense of security.
  7. The onset of “international holiday reminders” via Fbk, starting in May, will be particularly galling this year, when we face another winter of no international travel. (Unless we decide to escape to Western Australia, which has decided to join the Australia/NZ travel bubble, but then as I often say, “Australia doesn’t count.”)
  8. Easter Hot-cross-buns-and-Easter-eggs-and-out-of-town-visitors weight gain.
  9. The feeling of being short-changed, after an all-too short, disappointingly cool (and this year, hard at work and unable to travel much) summer.
  10. The feeling of foreboding, knowing that a long, gloomy, dark, and cold, winter (and yes, I know, my winter is not nearly as dark or cold or long as that of many of my readers) looms.

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  • It’s the end of Easter Weekend here in New Zealand. We get Monday as a public holiday, and schools get an additional day tomorrow, so many people travel over this period. We had been expecting my sister and niece to drop in on their way elsewhere (to meet up with their husband/father), but the thought of travelling on a ferry in gale force winds on Friday was not very appealing, so they came for the weekend, joined by my brother-in-law on Saturday afternoon who took the ferry back to us on a lovely calm day. It’s been lovely, but I will admit that today has been a lazy day (they left on their seven-hour drive home this morning) and I’m refusing to cook tonight!
  • I will say that I outdid myself in terms of feeding the troops. Charlie is now 12 (almost 13), at high school, and interested in all sorts of different food. Which is fine with me, and my sister loves it! So I cooked them my favourite Thai picnic for dinner on Friday, homemade pies and pizza for Saturday night, and last night a veritable feast of Malaysian beef rendang (though would be divine with eggplant and/or root veges and/or any other vegetables) with roti canai bread, and a korma vegetable dish. There was homemade passionfruit ice-cream for afters, and last night, a homemade marshmallow Easter egg, which impressed the socks off them. I like cooking for appreciative guests! And on Saturday we went out for yum cha (dim sum) at a bustling Chinese restaurant.
  • In turn, they delivered capsicums from their garden and avocados from their trees, and I enjoyed avocado and marmite on toast for breakfast this morning. Yum. Their avocados are always delicious and blemish-free.
  • Needless to say, I have a lot of exercise planned for this week to make up. Because going shopping with my niece, and to the museum with my sister, did not produce nearly enough steps to work all that off!
  • Even though the temperatures are now mild, everything feels like autumn, almost wintry. And on Saturday night, our clocks went back, and the sun sets around six now. That means that there will be no more pasta chardonnay nights (when my husband plays summer golf), so I’ll have to fit these into my week some other way. Winter, therefore, is not that far away. I think I’m ready for that now. I was not ready a few weeks ago.
  • For us, lockdown last year feels a long time away. I hope that isn’t a case of “famous last words.” Every few days I rejoice with friends and family overseas who report they have had their first or second dose of a COVID vaccination. Ours won’t come till later in the year, we know. We hope that this lack of urgency won’t make us vulnerable to new strains arriving.
  • We’re hopeful in NZ for the announcement of a travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand this week. Both countries have required two-week hotel quarantine for visitors, though some states in Australia lifted it for travel from New Zealand late last year. The bubble will mean that quarantine-free travel between our two countries will be possible, though state-by-state restrictions may be imposed as circumstances change. We have no plans to travel to Australia in the short term, though we might consider it later this year. But it will be great for family reunifications. My sister, for example, is hoping to meet her eight-month-old grandson for the first time.
  • I have a self-imposed moratorium on going to any wool shops until I knit a few more tea cosies. I’m currently working on a different rooster pattern, and have several more exotic patterns planned as gifts. So far, they’re being well received. Either that or my friends and family are very polite!

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After a busy summer sorting out the in-laws’ house, The Husband and I decided to escape for a few days. We had been hoping to escape for a glorious late summer holiday, free at last from his filial responsibilities. But we missed out by about a month. So we knew there were still going to be some nice days before temperatures dipped too much, and decided to just get away.

We didn’t go far. Our trip could have been a day trip. But we wanted to be relaxed, and feel as if we had “got away from it all” so we spread the trip over two nights. We headed off to the east coast of the Wairarapa, the region I often refer to as “over the hill” because we literally have to drive over the Remutaka Hills to get there. This time we bypassed the wine region which is closest to Wellington and where friends visit, and went first to a seaside resort where The Husband has memories from his childhood. His parents owned a section there in the 1960s and 70s. They used to go over and camp there in a huge canvas tent, all four boys and their parents. What chaos it must have been! There is a long safe beach, where my water-loving husband and his brothers spent hours and hours swimming and body-surfing because the waves were just perfect for it. It was too cold for swimming last week – or perhaps I should say that it was too cold for us to swim in last week! The section was sold long ago, and now has a beach-house on it, and the small resort has now expanded considerably, full of seaside baches (which is what we call small holiday homes). But the local store was still there, and it sold ice-creams, so we grabbed one and wandered down to the beach and river. It was a beautiful day and, as it was mid-week, almost completely deserted. It felt so luxurious to be there when it was so quiet, so perfect.

We then moved on to our base for the night, about an hour north, at a place called Castlepoint. I’ve been there once, I think, in the 30+ years I’ve lived in Wellington. We got a simple motel right across from the beach, with a view of the lighthouse, and we sat on the porch in the late afternoon enjoying a drink. The beach here is protected, sandy, and calm, though further out the waves were just enough for the school-girls to practice their surfing. Couples like us walked along the beach, and a few dogs were there taken on their daily walks, having a lovely time chasing balls into the surf. As the sun went down, the light on the lighthouse was gorgeous, and I had fun playing around with my camera. I wasn’t quite enthusiastic enough though to take my tripod down into the sand to get a good shot, as another photographer was doing!

Later that night, I went out onto the lawn and tried, for the first time, to see if I could photograph the Milky Way. With only a few streetlights, and the lighthouse facing the other way, the stars were stunning. I managed to get some shots, but they’re a long way from being publishable!

We feel asleep to the sound of the waves lapping against the shore. It was bliss!

We spent the next morning pottering around Castlepoint. We walked along the trails up to and around the lighthouse, investigating the rocks filled with shell fossils (according to the information placards there, they were two million years old), enjoying the morning light and the calm weather. The night before, eating a freshly-caught fish dinner in the local pub, we’d seen a photograph of the lighthouse completely swamped by waves. There was no chance of that when we were there – it was uncharacteristically calm, the sea was relatively gentle, and not even a speck of spray came near us. We explored the coves behind the lighthouse too. The light was gorgeous on the weird rock formations. As the tide came in, we decided to head to our next destination.

We stopped for a late lunch in the region’s largest town, visited the gardens and walked up and down the main street as it has been years since we did that. I’ll be quite happy if I don’t do it again for another ten years! It’s a town that services an agricultural region, and so was the same as similar towns all over New Zealand. But our overnight stay that night was about 30 minutes further on, in a small town that has, over the last 20 years or so, been renovated and reinvigorated. Lots of Wellingtonians keep weekend places in or around the town, or decide to retire there. The main street is full of little wooden buildings that have discovered new lives as restaurants, cafes or bakeries or butcheries, interesting shops and art galleries and designer clothing, a chocolate manufacturer, museums, ancient trees (which I forgot to photograph for my Tree Love posts). We stayed in a lovely renovated hotel with individually decorated rooms and, conveniently, a bar downstairs for a pre-dinner glass of wine. We were a little lazy. We did nothing more than enjoy the room, and wander the street and shops that afternoon and the next morning, pottering around, and getting ideas for home decorating or for Christmas presents (yes, I know it’s only March). But why not? It was unhurried, and very relaxed. And that afternoon, we drove back into the city feeling refreshed.

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