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Archive for the ‘Wellington’ Category

We’re in the last phase of winter, or is it the first phase of spring? Over the weekend, the only deciduous tree on our property sprang into life. On Sunday morning, I saw the first leaves emerge, and by the afternoon there were a few more. Its branches are bursting with buds ready to burst. Spring is, if not sprung, then about to spring.

The neighbours, after huge renovations last year, planted a tree that has blossomed most gorgeously right beside our driveway, so I was thrilled to pop out there and play around with my camera. It was nice to snap away, after the winter when I was tortured by photos of beautiful flowers from my photography course classmates from the northern hemisphere.

I’m reminded too by Fbk that previously I have checked out the tulips in the gardens around this time of year. Maybe next week you’ll get some tulip photos.

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My iPad and phone are both full of library loans, but I have no time to read them all. My phone has audiobooks – The Looming Tower, and the Year of No Clutter – so I can listen when I am walking. My iPad has a range of books I’ve downloaded based on recommendations from fellow bloggers and x365 bloggers, books I’ve heard reviewed or discussed on the radio, etc, but they’re all on a three-week loan, and need to be either requested again, or returned. I am just not keeping up with my reading this year, perhaps due to blogging, ironically on books this month on my x365 blog.

I recently mentioned going flatting, and – as I must admit I had expected – someone commented about the use of “flat” as a verb. It’s common in New Zealand, as we talk about flats and flatmates, with whom we go flatting; in contrast, a “room-mate” implies a more intimate arrangement.

There was an earthquake yesterday that rattled the house and cupboards for a little longer than usual, just reminding us – in case we were getting complacent – that we live in very shaky isles.

Right now, there are at least FIVE kaka in the macrocarpa tree out my window, all squawking away, flying at each other, and entertaining me. Unfortunately, the light isn’t good enough to get some photos or video of them, but here’s a photo of a kaka visiting us on the other side of the house some time ago.

P1060365 kaka cr

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On a rare morning when

a) we didn’t have anything planned/necessary to do together,
b) we didn’t have to attend to the in-laws, and
c) my husband wasn’t playing golf exercising,

I declared that the car was mine, and grabbed my camera, finally getting some time to do some photography homework. I drove to a local park that has a high concentration of native plants, and took the last carpark, worrying that it would be busy inside. I could hear children’s voices in the distance, but almost instantly, as I walked through the entrance gate, a calm descended.

Surrounded by ferns, and tall trees, I was cocooned by the green canopy. I used my senses, listening to the tui clicking and clacking and chirping, and the two kereru swooping past me, beating their wings unmistakeably. I looked at the light and shadows, playing around with my camera, working comfortably on manual thanks to my photography course, moving around to try different angles and focal lengths. I revelled in the freedom to do what I wanted, and take as long as I wanted over a particular shot, or around a particular plant, without worrying about anyone waiting for me. But most importantly, I breathed.

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For the first time ever, I think, I actually saw the clocks go back, waking at 2.30 am and wondering if it was the first 2-3 am hour or the second, then again 40 minutes later, to saw that it was 2.10 am. I could then sleep easily, as we all had our alarms set for 4 am, to get the BIL to the airport to catch his early flight home to Asia.

Later, after a good sleep-in, the extra hour in the day meant that we were still early enough to set off for a late-morning walk. I felt good – whether it was the long sleep I had enjoyed, or the freedom that comes from being left in peace, I don’t know – and we decided to head out to Makara, a tiny beach community at the southwest of the city, and take the coastal walkway.

The seashore here was rocky and stony, with lots of seaweed and piles and piles of driftwood, and the occasional boat frame rusting away. The path was uneven, sometimes flat on the side of the hills that rise up from the sea, and sometimes disappearing, requiring navigation over the driftwood and stony beach which wasn’t too unstable, although I was acutely aware that it was exactly this weekend two years ago when I fell and broke my ankle.

The sun shone, the sky was blue, the temperature mild, with only a gentle breeze cooling us, as the sea lapped against the stony beach, uncharacteristically calm, the windmills on the green hills opposite turned slowly, and in the distance, flat Mana Island and steep, hazy, Kapiti Island beyond pointed the way north.

Next time, I later resolved, I’d take my camera and tripod, but the phone camera didn’t do a bad job.

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bty

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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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One of the joys of hosting visitors from overseas is showing them about my city. Yesterday, instead of staying at home and writing my Microblog Monday posts, I was walking through our town with my sister-in-law from Perth, Australia. She lived here briefly in 1989 and has visited periodically, and now as her children are growing up, it is easier for her to leave them for a few hours, and we recall the pre-children days when we used to explore the Wellington designer shops on each visit. Yesterday, we poked through a few NZ designer clothing stores (she tried on and rejected, I drooled and resisted), poked through some favourite gift shops (she purchased, I didn’t, though I did find a display cabinet that I want to buy if it is for sale, but that’s another story), and had a long chat over udon noodle soup for lunch.

But first, we visited the Gallipoli (a battle in World War I that is iconic for Australians and NZers) exhibition at Te Papa, the National Museum, which her children had visited a few days earlier when the adults had retired to a nearby restaurant (a good excuse for me to try a place I’ve been wanting to visit for ages) for a more sophisticated lunch. Amidst the exhibits of clothing and provisions and the simulated trenches and periscopes and the animated battle scenes, Weta Workshop (the brains behind the special effects and models of The Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit/King Kong movies, as well as a myriad others, have created huge life-like models of particular personalities at Gallipoli, some soldiers, a doctor and a nurse. We see their eyes, their sweat, their injuries, feel their fear and pain and exhaustion and caring, and hear their stories, thanks to letters shared by their families. It’s a reminder of how lucky we are in little old Wellington, to have such world-class artists here to bring these people and their stories to life so poignantly.

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I love travel photography. That’s no surprise to those of you who know how much I love to travel. But I’m a bit shy, and I’m not very good at asking people if I can take their photographs. My husband is much better at it than I am, and he is especially good at getting children’s photos. Neither of us, however, like getting our own photographs taken. So when last week’s photo challenge was to take a portrait of someone in their natural habitat (work, hobbies, for example), I groaned. I had great plans of snapping the builders putting an extra storey on the house next door, or the road workers just down our street. But I didn’t. Then I thought that a photo of myself sitting at the computer, or my husband reading on his iPad, would be a good example of an environment. But that wasn’t going to happen. So, on my walk the other day, I sneaked this photo of a mailman, as he turned the corner ahead of me.

P1020635 mailman web

The other challenge at the time was for perspective. This could be something as simple as a scene showing perspective by distance, or a forced perspective (the classic “holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa is an example of this), which I have always felt are … well … forced. The idea of showing the perspective of distance is easy when you live in the hills. So I was lazy and didn’t go out actively seeking shots. On the same walk that I found the mailman, though, I came up the stairs that deposit me (puffing) near my house. Maybe the difference between the stairs at the bottom and top would be perspective, I thought. And so I snapped away. I’ve since discovered that there’s a name for this – vanishing point perspective. I hope you’re impressed, not with the photograph which is very average and quite boring, but with the fact that I regularly climb these stairs (I’d already climbed about 20% of the stairs to be able to even see the top) at the end of my walks around this hilly suburb.

P1020645 stairs sm

 

Those were both last week’s challenges, and I haven’t even begun to think about this week’s subjects, so I’m slipping behind. Last weekend I finally completed the book of my blog Lemons to Limoncello as I noticed there was a 40% savings offer to get it printed. It required detailed proofreading and polishing the formatting, and I am delighted that I have finally ordered it, even beating the deadline for the discount. I’ve been shopping for the trip – a cheap tripod (though my husband has suggested I’ll have to leave some shoes behind if I want to fit it in my suitcase*) – and researching and reading about my destinations, figuring out where I can see particular species of wildlife, and trying to learn how to photograph in different conditions.

Real life seems to have taken over – now that’s perspective for you!


* Needless to say, I was not amused.

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