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  1. Winners for postcards from 4 of the 7 new countries I’ll be visiting over the next couple of months are:
    – Jess, for Iceland
    – IndigoBunting, for Russia
    – Turia, for Denmark
    – Nicole, for Norway
  2. a guessed a Baltic Sea Cruise, as did a friend of mine on Facebook (where I linked this post), and because technically they’re correct, I’m giving them both the option of guessing again for specific ports, but you can also guess too, on my original post or via email malinzblog(at)yahoo(dot)co(dot)nz. (a, I hope you’re reading this!)
  3. Over the very quiet four-day Easter weekend (hence Monday blog on a Tuesday), apart from taking a walk every day, I amused myself with some sewing. I was amazed at how easily certain things came to me (eg the muscle memory of loading the bobbin and inserting it into the machine that I bought way back when I was a Master’s student at university and earned some money as an assistant teacher), considering that I haven’t sewn regularly since the 1980s, and first learned most of these techniques in the 1970s.
  4. I’m enjoying my sister’s (and BIL’s too I guess) avocados at the moment, lovely and big and creamy, and so much cheaper (ie free) than the supermarket.
  5. We’re also feeling furious every time we drive past a petrol station at the moment, because we were about seven hours north a week or two ago, and noticed that the price of petrol was thirty cents cheaper there than it is in our city. We pay $2.05 per litre (an online calculator tells me that this is about US$5.54 per gallon), but if we lived where my sister lives, we’d be paying $1.74, and that’s NOT fair!
  6. There is a distinct autumnal feeling in the air here in New Zealand, the sun is going down so much earlier now, the leaves on our oak tree are definitely turning, and I’m thinking it’s time to put those (hardly-worn) summer clothes away for six months or so.

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I am taking up a friend’s suggestion that I run a competition to guess where I’m going on my next trip, and the winners (first to guess* correctly) will receive a postcard from the destination they identified. (Two qualifications to this: 1. Assuming postcards are still available for purchase (if not, I’ll make a photocard on my return), and 2. The postcard will have been bought from the destination, but might not be posted from there.)

We’re going to eight countries on this five-week trip, seven of which will be new and exciting for us.

Clues (I might add to this list later in the week):

  • It will take a total of about 31 hours travelling time (from home to hotel) to reach our first destination, which is really only a stop-over to go onto the others.
  • Two destinations (or more, I’m not sure) might offer the opportunity to see (or even better) photograph puffins.
  • According to internet historical weather data, I have to pack for daily high temperatures ranging from 5 C (41F) to 33C (91F) … and in at least one destination, rain, lots of rain.
  • Only one of the destinations would require me to get a visa, but given my mode of travel to enter this location, it turns out I don’t need one there either.

* If you already know where I’m going (because I’ve told you), and you want a postcard too, email me your address at malinzblog(at)yahoo(dot)co(dot)nz.

 

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I am currently visiting Charlie and her parents and Jeff and Cloud (the dog and cat respectively) and have been exposed to her unique 8-year-old thought processes.

  • “Donald Trump is an idiot, because he is.”
  • Answering questions from your aunt AMA mother is not nearly as interesting as dancing like a cat to “I’m sexy and you know it.”
  • Pets are to be loved, played with, and ignored at your pleasure.
  • Art galleries are worth visiting
  • Virtual reality is awesome because “you don’t have to use controls you just use your head.”
  • A good library is a great discovery.
  • Delayed gratification is a terrible idea.

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As many of you know, I love compiling my photos after a trip, then completing a photo book. Over three years ago, when we came home after our five month trip to the Middle East and Europe, I set to work, relishing seeing all our photos again, and producing three books – one for the Middle East, one for our three months spent in Italy, and one for our Poland, Slovenia and Switzerland explorations.

I had also kept a blog during the trip and thought it would be nice to have a hard copy, so I sought out blog-to-book software, settling on Blurb’s Booksmart. Initially, I thought that maybe I could incorporate my blog into a wider book, filling in the bits I never got to write about when I was away, but life intervened, and the project languished for months at a time. Finally, a few weeks ago, I decided it was time to finish it off; my forthcoming trip and the fact that the company was offering a 40% discount for a limited time were added incentives!

After proof-reading over 100 pages, I finally sent it off for printing, receiving it back last week. It was just what I needed to cheer me up:

dav

 

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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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After the gym this morning, I stopped around the bays at one of my favourite cafes for a welcome coffee, after abstaining over the weekend. The good weather of the past week of so had vanished, and we were encased in misty rain and low clouds, limiting visibility and sucking the colour from everything except the bright yellow and orange lifeguard stand in the middle of Oriental Bay, pointless and forlorn, useful for only a few short days this summer-in-name-only.

Unlike the sunny days we basked in last week when locals and visitors had filled its tables inside and out, today the cafe was not crowded. I had avoided it for the summer months when school holidays and cruise ships had contributed to crowded waterside cafes, and today it was just how I like it. Cosy inside, with its deliberately kitsch 70s decor, there were a variety of customers; a man on his laptop between meetings, the three elderly women catching up over coffee and cake, a few young couples, including the couple grabbing a coffee in the under cover outside tables so one of them could smoke, later replaced by a man who was simultaneously indulging his caffeine, nicotine and crossword addictions, and of course, there was me, reading, watching, and writing.

Outside and also under cover, a sleepy bulldog was curled up in the dog bed, looking ever so slightly grumpy and unappreciative when one of the staff woke him to give him a pat. He was then regularly disturbed by deliveries and customers coming and going, wearily opening one eye to check on proceedings as they walked by. He’s trying to sleep again now, his eyes closed, weighed down by his wrinkles, plump and perfect, unlike my own.

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  1. When do people ever have the time to listen to podcasts?
  2. How can someone have a workout and then not shower afterwards?
  3. Why would you bother buying a Maserati four-door sedan?
  4. Why did the plural “there are” disappear (particularly in speech), and when did “impact” become a verb (with a nod to my friend who once titled his blog, “Impact is not a verb”)?
  5. What is the attraction of selfies?
  6. By deliberately not revealing our 2017 holiday destinations yet, have I made it an inevitable anti-climax when I finally do, and will I know when it is the right time to do the big reveal?
  7. Will I ever get around to tidying my office?
  8. Is it obvious that five of these questions had been recorded for this post for a while, and three of them were made up on the spot to get to eight sentences?

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