Archive for the ‘Summer’ Category

We noticed it first on our drive to the northeast of our country – I was shocked to suddenly see poplars turning yellow, even though everything else still felt summery.

By the time we got home, we’d seen lots of poplars and willow trees starting to turn, which is not something we see here, surrounded by largely native, evergreen trees. Then we noticed how much darker it is in the evenings, the sun suddenly setting around 7.30 pm, about half an hour earlier (it seemed) than when we had left, and it seems shocking that daylight saving will end in a couple of weeks.

The agapanthus have finished flowering, as have the hydrangeas and other flowers, though a few hardy blooms of other varieties still bring colour to our lives.

But it was still hot on my walk this morning, and at a spot a few hundred metres down the street, I was greeted again by a large monarch butterfly, a sign of summer still lingering. They’ve been prolific this summer – a friend even nurtured one to adulthood in her garden – and I’ve taken enormous pleasure at seeing them swoop and fly around our hills, and especially at the ones near our mailbox.

As much as I complained about the hot nights, I do feel sad that summer is drawing to an end. But then, I felt that way at the end of winter too.


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Last year, summer did not turn up here in Wellington, but it must have had a guilty conscience as a result, because this year it arrived about a month earlier than usual, and in November we were already having our first barbecue, and eating outside, which in itself is a bit of a novelty in Wellington, hitting the combination of warm enough temperatures and lack of wind to be able to eat outside in the evening.

I have already received mockery from various unsympathetic friends on Fb when I have complained that these high (for us) temperatures overheat our house and that sleeping becomes difficult, so I’m not going to give you the numbers, and I will point out that everything is relative. We don’t have air-conditioning, and our house is built to catch the sun, not to hide it (for most of the year this is a good thing), but right now, we spend all afternoon and early evening trying to find the perfect combination of ventilation, directed air-flow, and closed curtains to keep out the sun. Of course, my husband and I have endless arguments on how this should be done, and when the heat makes us (okay, me) cranky, we do not agree to disagree on this matter.

Last night was cool, and I slept well (after the Australian Open Final finished about 1 am), but today the cloud from yesterday has lifted, the sky is blue, the heat pumping into the house and bedroom, with the forecast remaining warm for the next few days, and so we have a zoo trip and a barbecue for visiting relatives planned on Wednesday. Whilst this ability to plan in summer may be normal for many of you, it isn’t for me, or for most Wellingtonians, as usually, the one thing we can rely on is that our weather is changeable, and that just when the heat seems to be unbearable and lasting way too long, the winds will change and we will get some much-needed respite. I see lower temperatures and rain is forecast for Friday – a good day for the museum, I think.

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January Projects

I seem to be collecting new projects this January, but not the ones I should be focusing on.

  1. I’m now a week into my year of blogging daily, using word limits each month, over here at x365 Take Two.
  2. I’ve just signed up for a photography course, as recommended by a friend. The first lesson has blown me away, and I hope the rest are as easy to understand.
  3. I’ve copied the lovely Indigo Bunting who did this last year, and I’ve started a project to declutter 2018 things from my house in 2018. So far, I’ve thrown away five things, which means I’m already 39 things behind schedule, but I figure there’s time. Do you think discarding a project would count towards the 2018 total, and would a x365 project count as 365 things?
  4. Theoretically, I’m also going to try to delete 2018 emails, but that seems futile, because they just keep coming.

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A week ago, we packed our bags and the car, and headed over the hill – this one – to stay overnight with friends at their charming cottage amidst an olive grove.

They welcomed us with a lovely late lunch of delicious dark, seedy bread and cheese and tomatoes and asparagus and pâté and salami, and of course, being in a wine town we had to indulge in some local rosé, which is always perfect for a summery lunch and for nibbling with fresh berries from the garden.

Then came the business end of the day, as the croquet lawn was calling to us, and the game of the day was Croquet Golf – or was it Golf Croquet? My husband and I have only ever played once, some years ago, but beginner’s luck must have been upon us, as we took the first game 7-4. The second game didn’t go so well, with my husband wondering aloud, after further fortification from the rosé, just why the ball wasn’t going straight anymore! By that time it was close to 5 pm, and we figured that it must be time for some champagne – of course!

After a delicious biryani dinner and more berries from their garden, we took to the lawn for the deciding game, although by this time, our croquet brains had decided that attack was the best form of defence, and we all aimed at each others’ balls as often as we aimed at the hoops to score points. Appropriately, our hosts’ years of practice paid off and they trounced us soundly, so we retired to the campfire, and as the sun set and the almost-super moon rose, we chatted and sipped some more; a perfect end to a perfect day.




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I have a confession to make. I had a two-month break from going to the gym. I was disrupted by Christmas and New Year, the terrible weather, and an appointment with a surgeon about my knee (though surgery was discounted, that makes it more difficult in some ways), and then basic inertia set in. I’ve been back the last few weeks, but I’m procrastinating about a decision I have to make about the gym. To stay, or to leave. I have an emotional connection with this small, quality group of gyms – one of the owners was my personal trainer when he was still qualifying as a physiotherapist, back at the turn of the century. And I enjoy the therapy of the drive around the bays to the gym, always different, always dramatic, regardless of whether it is fine or stormy, whether the sea is rough or calm.

These days I am taking my camera with me more frequently. So this morning, driving home after a good workout, I was pleased to see some yachts out on the water, with a large container ship moored further away. I braced myself against the wind, and tried some photos. But the sea, the hills and the sky all blended together a little too much, on this colourless morning.

Yachts on Wellington Harbour

I drove on, and as I came around into the inner harbour, I decided to try again. This is our little city on a cloudy morning, where the buildings hug the water and are framed by the hills. (I’m pleased to report the sun is out and the sky is now blue! But no, I’m not driving back to repeat the photo!) There were no cruise ships in the harbour, though there were two yesterday when it was warm and beautiful, so today we locals had it all to ourselves.

Wellington waterfront


In case you hadn’t already guessed, one of my photography challenges this week is to take a panorama. The other challenge was to take just one shot and use that. I guess it is supposed to encourage careful planning, deliberate framing, and accuracy. In keeping with the beachy theme, my one shot is below. I have to confess though that it involved no careful planning, only a little deliberate framing, and happily some accuracy! The husband and I headed north to an estuary one lunchtime this week, determined to make the most of a warm day, and enjoyed a picnic by the water. On the menu was bacon and egg pie, of course, and afterwards, I got my camera out. This little fellow was not upset that we didn’t share our lunch with him, and posed nicely. What could be more summery? Green grass, sand, and a seagull.

Seagull on grass



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Nineteen days into February, when in previous (almost as disappointing) years autumn was preparing to knock on the door, summer has decided to turn up for a visit. After a bit of gloom yesterday morning, and some overnight rain, we’re now basking in the second consecutive day of sun and warmth. I’m wearing a sunfrock for only the second time this year, and this morning I had breakfast out on the deck, enjoying the fact that I was not locked into an air-conditioned office like the rest of my friends.

I’d already resigned myself to the fact that summer this year was a bust and so, after many weeks of disappointment and disbelief and shock, I decided to relax and see the funny side.

I’m doing that elsewhere in my life too, where I’ve experienced similar emotions (and I suspect I’m not the only one). Frustration and anger are exhausting and can be upsetting, and the resultant swearing – although research says that it can be therapeutic – might be briefly satisfying but isn’t sustainable long term. So right now, I find I feel better instead when I can laugh and say, “Good grief!” and so I’m saying it multiple times a day this summer.

But not today – today I’m going to enjoy the moment, the sound of the cicadas outside, the blue sky, and the balmy temperatures.



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I have already complained about summer so far this year. By yesterday, we were fed up of hiding inside, and ventured out for a relaxed lunch at a local café. I didn’t realise I would get to wear my raincoat – recently purchased for inclement weather and temperatures later this year – would get an outing so soon. But it did. I am pretty sure that I could literally count the number of fine days we’ve had this summer on the fingers of one hand. Maybe that’s exaggerating – but I’d be confident in saying I could count them on the fingers of both hands. The combination of a fine, sunny day and a temperature of above 20 has been rare this year in Wellington. And whilst a few days ago I thought I was resigned to it, by today I’m feeling fed up and frustrated. Ironically, it is sunny and there is blue sky outside as I write this (although the temperature is under 20C), and it was fine enough (and the winds were mild enough) that I could go for a walk this morning too. The one thing I know is that it won’t last.

(We’re told that the excessive winds we’ve been experiencing this year, along with the dismal temperatures, are because the ocean temperature east of Australia this year is 4 degrees C above normal. That is so depressing.)

So when my photo challenge this week involved mirrors, I had an idea what to do. Yesterday, I took a shot of the reflection in the mirror in our dining room. I love that we can look at the mirror, and see the view outside. But yesterday, you can see, it was dark and gloomy. Today is much brighter, so I’ve superimposed yesterday’s shot onto a mirror, under the direct view outside the window today. It hasn’t quite worked the way I wanted, but here it is.


Oddly, as I was playing around, I caught this shot.


It turns out the bevel on the edge of the mirror reflected the reflection from the centre of the mirror of my much loved dangling birds from Vermont that hang in the middle of my window. If you look closely, you can see that the birds are also faintly reflected in the window. Dangling birds times three – bonus!

So I’m not sure of the two photos I prefer, and I know neither is perfect. I can also see that my windows need to be washed, but given the blustery storms we’ve been having, what’s the point? Anyway, both photos reflect life at my house.

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