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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Right Now (#13)

I haven’t done one of these for five months!

Reading: Not much. Not for a long time. I’ve been reading articles and newspapers and blogs, but few books. Travelling tends to accentuate that tendency too, as during the day we’re doing things, and in the evenings we’re out for dinner and walks, or I’m backing up the photos I took during the day. I’m hoping to get back into reading. I have so many “expired” books from my library in my reading app. I’ve started a dozen books this year, and finished only a few! Hopefully in the next few months I’ll get back to it.

Watching: Didn’t watch anything when we were away in May, but since we’ve come back I’ve been catching up. It doesn’t help that the cable TV box we have had for years is being replaced this week, and I’ve had to clear everything I had recorded. Watched the final series of Keeping Faith, which was excellent. Great acting, interesting story-telling, and quite a good conclusion. Yesterday I binged the four episodes of a documentary called Hillary made about Hillary Clinton’s life through to the end of the 2016 election. Enjoyed that too.

And of course, it was the French Tennis Open this weekend. I stayed up on Friday night to watch the men’s semi-finals, and ended up snatching half-hour naps before and between the two matches, and missed most of one set of the Nadal vs Djokovic match because I fell asleep on the couch! Last night I watched the Finals (a great match), that started at 1 am our time, and I finally got to bed about 5.45 am. I seriously need an afternoon nap now!

Listening: To very little again. A lot of our travel in May was in areas with poor radio or internet reception, and so we were just listening to some of the road trip music I have stored in my phone. I’ve been enjoying catching up with national radio articles since I got home, and once an injury to my leg has healed up, I hope to get back into some audiobooks, or even – shock, horror! – consider getting into some podcasts (as normally, I just can’t find the time or inclination to listen to them).

Following: The usual. Progress (or lack of progress) with COVID-19 and vaccinations here and across the globe. News. Photographers I envy.

Drinking: Enjoyed some good wine on our trip at some fancy restaurants in major wine producing areas. We decided we should splash out occasionally on some nice bottles, rather than pay money for average bottles we’d rather not drinks.

Cooking: It’s been a struggle getting back into cooking after a month (almost) away. It’s been nice doing my Thai favourites – Thai fried rice, and Green or Massaman curries – since we got home. I’m need to experiment with new recipes, as I’ve been in a bit of a rut lately. Or just revive some old favourites I haven’t made in ages. I’d like to do a bit more baking too, as – other than the occasional loaf of bread or batch of cheese scones – I’ve not baked all year, and there’s something about homemade biscuits or slices.

Eating: Too much, probably! That’s what travel does for you. We appreciated some wonderful restaurants in Queenstown, both fancy AND casual, trying variations on Asian and Pacific food as well as more traditional fare. It was cold as well, and so instead of a salady thing for lunch when we were travelling, I’d end up trying a southern specialty, a cheese roll, or a  traditional kiwi meat pie. And if we stopped for a break when we were driving, it was too tempting not to have a slice or a custard square with a coffee. Sigh. So all these things are off the menu right now! I am however looking forward to making more soups this winter for lunch. Warming AND healthy. And I plan on making a big batch of pumpkin gnocchi to freeze soon too.

Wearing: My winter uniform of black jeans and black thermal top under jackets or coats or the occasional cardigan. I can dress it up with scarves or jewellery, which is fun.

Appreciating: Our trip. I was so grateful for New Zealand’s beauty, our COVID-free status at the moment, the fabulous weather (even when it snowed, it didn’t affect our travels), and the fact that my husband enjoys these travels as much as I do, and is patient when I want to take photos. We had over three weeks away enjoying the stunning South Island, when we never got bored, loved the scenery and the old gold-mining towns and the lack of crowds and the new places and the old memories. I even enjoyed the freezing frosts at my sister’s house! Oh, and here’s a travel tip: three weeks was not enough!

Anticipating: So many projects I want to do. One is a bit boring (decluttering) but must be done, others are about house maintenance/renovation (kitchen, entrance way, our bedroom etc), one is about blogging (watch this space), a couple about photos and photobooks, one is about language learning, and a few other ideas are slowly percolating. I’m also looking forward to spending some time with a friend who has just taken a break between contracts, and will be free for lunches and adventures (I hope!).

Trying: To grow my hair. It’s passed the really awkward stage when my kinky grey hair was too short to straighten, and so looked like your average old-fashioned 80-90 year olds’ style. Sigh. I’m trying to figure out when to go get it cut to coax it into the shape I want, but think I’ll give it another month at least.

Checking: My health. I’m doing the compulsory regular check-ups that were due this year all in a couple of weeks. Fingers crossed all will be well. I know how lucky I am to be able to afford one of these checks on health insurance, and to get another as part of a national screening programme.

Loving: Being home. Knowing that, after this week (when we have a few appointments), I have projects to occupy me that will also hopefully give me a real sense of satisfaction when (not “if”) I finally finish them!

Still unashamedly copying Loribeth’s regular series every few months here on A Separate Life.

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Wellington, my city, is filled with native trees, the large majority of which are evergreen. But I grew up in the South Island, where years of colonisation and farming have ensured that rivers are lined with willows, poplars are used as windbreaks, and autumn colours are everywhere. But it has been 35 years since I moved to Wellington, so I had forgotten how gorgeous autumn can be in the south. I’d even forgotten when autumn occurred there, and had expected to miss the autumn colours on our trip south last month. But I didn’t.

Whilst I love the poplars, the willows were my favourite. They now adorn the header of this blog, as you can see. I was just so happy every time I saw them.

Whilst our natural lakes and fjords are mostly lined with native trees (future tree posts), this isn’t always the case in more arid areas, or with artificial lakes, where willows are often planted on the shore’s edge. At least, I think they are willows. Who cares? They’re beautiful.

Another in the Thursday Tree Love series – find all the other bloggers doing it here.

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New Zealand is a beautiful country. It’s a stereotype, but it is true. Of course, most countries are beautiful – nature astounds us, whether in a desert or a rainforest or a back garden – so it is probably an accurate statement to say about anywhere you might go. But – and here I will show my bias – New Zealand is stunning. The South Island, where I grew up, is the jewel in the crown, though the beauty in the north is also varied and breath-taking, and shouldn’t be ignored. The key thing you need to see New Zealand is time. Time to navigate the roads, to include options for bad weather, to enjoy in the scenery (whether on the side of the road, or in amongst it), or to enjoy the food and wine. We just spent three and a half weeks doing that, in the South Island. It was wonderful.

What did we do that was new? Well, we visited a seal colony we hadn’t been to before, stayed in a new town on the West Coast, drove a mountain pass between the two coasts that we haven’t driven for maybe 20 years, stayed in five different places I’d only ever visited on a day trip or passed through, photographed the Milky Way one cold dark night in a Dark Sky reserve, took a cruise in a fiord for the first time, walked amongst the Southern* Alps, and saw some camera shy Little Blue Penguins coming in from shore. Almost everything we did was free too! Well, except for the fabulous food and wine in Queenstown. And last but not least, we caught up with family. They’re a bit camera shy too. Though in retrospect, I wish I’d caught up with a couple more, who are no longer with us.

An adventurous baby seal
No stars today! A daylight view from Mt John Observatory
Walking the Hooker Valley Track
Milford Sound, Fiordland
A childhood memory

It was also the first time we’ve travelled south in May. (Well, except for when we lived there in the 1980s, or brief flights for me to visit my parents when they were alive.) I thought it might be cool, but instead, at first, we had shirtsleeve sitting-outside-eating-an-ice-cream weather. But then I didn’t expect to drive into snow either, although I was thrilled to see it, as we haven’t had snow in Wellington since 2011. I’d thought that the autumn colours might be gone, but they were in full force in many places, delighting me constantly. (Wellington is beautiful, but it is an evergreen city.) So I found a new autumn banner for this blog. (See above!)

Autumn in Central Otago
Snow in May!?!

* An unoriginal name for the mountain range that stretches up the South Island. Not quite as unoriginal as “the South Island” though, I’ll give you that! The official name is Southern Alps/Kā Tiritiri o te Moana. The Maori name means “Mirage of the Ocean” which I think is lovely. FYI, the South Island is also equally and officially known as Te Waipounamu.

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