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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Summer hasn’t shown up this season. Yet, I add hopefully. Here in Wellington, it’s been totally AWOL. After the steamy heat of Japan and Korea, and then even worse in Vietnam in June, I said – foolishly, it seems – that I didn’t want summer to arrive too soon, or to be too hot. But this is just getting ridiculous. We’ve had non-stop wind since October. Usually the spring winds last a few weeks, or maybe a month, around October or November. But December was crazy, and although we get the occasional calm day, the wind has otherwise been the most consistent part of this “summer.”

I’ve worn sandals once. I haven’t even had to paint my toenails, or shave my legs (though don’t worry, I have), because I’m generally in shoes or sneakers and jeans. We’ve even had the heating on, including today, and I’ve managed to sit outside on the deck with a drink for – count it – ONE measly day! So it’s been wine and cocktails inside, in a desperate attempt to pretend that it is, in fact, summer. Sure, we’ve been able to get lovely summer produce from the supermarket and even the garden, so that’s kept me busy at least.

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Tomato and zucchini relish jars

Yet from almost every window in my house, I look outside and across the valley, and see dozens of bright red pohutukawa trees. As much as I love them, it’s as if they are mocking me!

Still, I can’t resist photographing them. Here are a few from my walk down my street the other day, on a rare calm and sunny (though not very warm) day.

 

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I missed Thursday’s Treelove post, but figure it won’t matter if I’m a few days late. Driving into the city last week, and walking around our suburb, I noticed that the pohutukawa trees are bursting into bloom. As a child, I read in books that they are known as New Zealand’s Christmas Trees, but I had never seen one except in books. You see, they only occur naturally in the northern half of the North Island, and I grew up in the southern half of the South Island.

These days, they are planted all over the place, and they prosper too. They are everywhere in Wellington, and I’ve often written about them. I’m sorry if I am repetitive, but their vibrant red blooms never fail to bring me joy, and I want to bring that joy to you. I use them for Christmas cards, and I even use them as my seasonal header on this blog!

So here’s just one of the trees. I snapped it on the east coast of the beautiful Coromandel Peninsula, and wrote about our search for pohutukawa in bloom here.

I’ll try and get some shots of a group of trees in flower before the end of the year, for another Tree post, because it is a sight worth seeing.

Pohutukawa in flower

One or two pohutukawa trees did oblige with flowers

Another Thursday Treelove post, if a little late.

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My most well-travelled friend loves taking opportunistic photos of wedding couples when she is in foreign climes. Her most recent shots were taken over the weekend of a wedding couple at Angkor Wat. Such a dramatic location for your wedding photos!

We also like taking the occasional photo of couples having their wedding photos taken. My husband started it many years ago, sans Mali, on his first trip to Japan. I love this shot both because the very traditionally dressed best man (?) is using a cellphone, and also because the size of the cellphone dates the picture perfectly!

A japanese wedding party in kimono and formal dress, with one member holding a brick of a cellphone

 

My favourite shot used to be this one, taken at gorgeous Polignano a Mare in Puglia, Italy. We saw a few wedding couples out for their photo shoots in Italy, including at Monopoli harbour (just down the road from Polignano a Mare) and in a sunflower field, though sadly, I can’t find that photo.

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On this last trip, we saw a few couples posing in gardens and temples in Japan, and the beauty of their kimonos (which can cost thousands simply for the rental) and the surroundings caused both my husband and I to get out our phones/cameras. I like the ones of this couple.

And we couldn’t miss the couple in Vietnam either, stunning against the flowers of the flame trees in Hue.

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I haven’t included photos of the wedding we attended (of complete strangers) on a cliff at a resort in Fiji, or of the couples we saw getting married at Club Med in Tahiti over 20 years ago, but they were memorable. I’m sure I’ve forgotten others, but there was something special about the ones I’ve included here. It feels a little voyeuristic, but I figure that if you’re going to dress up and pose in public, then you’re fair game to become a holiday snap!

And thanks to Carolyn for inspiring this post.

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Supporting our tree friends

As I’ve said before, I loved the trees in Japan. In many gardens, we noticed that larger trees were supported by pieces of wood or frames. I thought that maybe it was just because they were old, or because they’d grown into unsupportable positions. But I read later that it was to help them bear the weight of snow in the winter. For whatever reason, I think it’s lovely.

I love the shape of the tree’s branches.

Another Thursday Tree Love post.

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There are some days when the colours seem brighter, the air fresher, and the earth and sea and sky seem more alive. Today is one of those days. Yesterday we had mild temperatures, but the day was quiet, with mist hanging around at the top of the valley, dampening noise, spirits, and – in my case at least – activity.

But this morning, Monday greeted us with the brightest of greens, and the bluest of blue sky. Temperatures are warmer too, edging into almost-summer temperatures (high teens/low 20s C) here in Wellington, though elsewhere in the country they are getting full-fledged mid-summer temperatures this week. We drove out to visit my father-in-law on the road that edges the shore (tracking the fault-line), and the harbour looked glorious.

As often happens at this time of year, Wellingtonians desperate for summer to arrive over-estimated the temperature. The Husband was happy in shorts and a T-shirt, but I saw many women in summery, sleeveless tops, and one even in a boob-tube (tube top). I had to smile at this optimism, this wholehearted embracing of temperatures that tell us to get out of our winter coats and woollen tops!

We stopped for lunch at a cafe on the way home, where people were enjoying their lunch outside in the sun, though forever cautious about UV rays and the damage they can do, we sat inside.

And on the drive home, even a pohutukawa tree was caught up in the exuberance of the season, beginning to flower several weeks earlier than usual. It reminded me that it will soon be time to change my blog header, to the vibrant red pohutukawa flowers of the season.

That said, the early flowering of the pohutukawa tree made me sad too. Climate change is urging it to bloom early. The warm temperatures we are experiencing have come from across the Tasman Sea from Australia, where they are suffering major, early bushfires that are destroying lives and livelihoods. The colourful sunsets that have resulted here are a sombre reminder that the beauty we see is a tragedy for others.

 

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Travel envy

I’ve been thinking a lot about travel lately. Yes, I know, I always think a lot about travel, especially when I’m trying to figure out where we are going to go next.

Some friends and relatives have been travelling a lot. One person seems to have been constantly on the move this year, but she’s a travel obsessive, and has had a few quiet years, so I will give her that. She just announced on Fbk that she has just booked her fourth cruise for 2020, on top of all the land-based travel she has planned. I’m thinking her contract work has been paying very well! Admittedly, she works only to travel, and maybe she’s planning on taking a break next year, to focus on travel. I admit to being a little envious of her!

A second couple has been on about four trips themselves. They are retired or semi-retired, and it seems as if they are ticking off bucket-list destinations, as a health diagnosis suggests that time might be limited, so I don’t envy them that. Or maybe they’re just spending their (not inconsiderable) hard-earned money doing what they love. I wish I was heading away again, despite the fact we had a great trip to Japan, Korea and Vietnam this year too.

Still, my dream is to live overseas again. Take one flight, then spend time getting to know a country or a continent over months, if not a year or two. I’m trying to work out how to do that in an affordable way. It won’t be next year, but I’m hoping it could be sometime in the next few years. In the meantime, we’re just trying to figure out where to set our sights next. There are a lot of options, all of them quite exotic. Egypt is perhaps leading the way, though India, Mexico and Peru are all serious contenders. China is a perennial option too. But next year is also a major anniversary of my exchange year in Thailand. I’m hoping some of my friends might try for a reunion there, to mark the time we all met. There’s always plenty of inspiration when it comes to travel. The problem is, so many places to see, so little money to do it!

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After a couple of months, I am finally going through my photos from my last trip. I loved the trees in Japan – what I normally think of as “boring pines” were nurtured with love and care. There was something about the sculptural nature of these trees trained into particular shapes, however unnatural. I caught this one with late afternoon light:

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Another Thursday Tree Love post.

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