Posts Tagged ‘summer in Wellington’

I’m enjoying the photography challenge that I do in between Microblog Mondays posts, but I think I’ve realised that one of the things I like best about it is that I get to explore things that are important to me, and to then write about them here (however briefly), taking as much or more pleasure in that than I do the photography.

I found my old camera!

The grilled chicken sandwich I made for lunch, with leftover chicken from dinner last night (marinated in coriander – cilantro for you North Americans – and mint and lime juice and red curry paste) and the spicy banana chutney that goes with it.

Remembering that friends and relatives are so important to our well-being, and should be celebrated. The last few days have been especially good – I got to see two friends on Friday, a niece and her partner on Saturday (and it was fine enough to have drinks on the deck), and other friends for dinner last night, a friend who spends half her life in France will be visiting in a few weeks, and I’m anticipating the arrival home of another friend after four years in Europe.

That we manage to balance our interests by happily driving an old, increasingly beat-up car (we bought it new 19 years ago), not owning diamonds or fancy clothes or expensive shoes etc, so that we can travel.

After waking up (at 5 am) to a gale that was shaking the house and rattling the roof, with mists that shrouded the house at the same time, followed by heavy rain, now it is bright and sunny (though still reasonably windy). Three seasons in one day, but there’s still time for a fourth, so here’s a Crowded House treat for you:


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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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I frequently wax lyrical (or not so lyrical if I’m honest) about my love of the red splashes I see throughout our city at this time of year. I love the brilliant red blooms, and the promise they bring that summer is here and should stay awhile, and so always feel sad when I see the blooms fade and disappear, or drive past roads that have turned crimson as the flowers fall.

I think I’m appreciating them even more this year, simply as summer seems to have forgotten us, I’ll take whichever features of the season I can get.

So when my photo challenge for this week was “red,” I knew that I should take some photos of pohutukawa. I wanted something a little different, and I knew that taking a typical, close-up photo of the flowers wasn’t going to be possible, not with the winds that have been buffeting us all “summer” so far.

The view I’ve chosen is far from perfect. It’s not the perfect composition, or clarity, or light, or focus (it was very windy). I’m predominantly a travel photographer taking photos when I see them (or regretting it when I don’t) because it is very rare that I can (or will) return when the light is just right. (The only time I’ve done this is in Rome when we had the time to choose an evening to go back to the Colosseum just as the late sun hit it perfectly, causing it to glow.)

So I snapped this photo, as it is very representative of Wellington, showing pohutukawa blooms nestled among other buildings, rather than lining a northern beach. The fact that it was on the marae grounds (over the road from a shop I’d just been visiting) made it better, with the carving at the head of the wharenui, or meeting house, in the traditional red.


I liked the combination of the Maori tradition and the pohutukawa (even though pohutukawa are not native to Wellington, they flourish here) for another reason too. The other challenge for the week was “land.” Maori have a very deep relationship to the land, and it is extremely important in their culture. The land I have a strong connection to is the land where first my parents and then my sisters and I grew up. It was flat, green and fertile, edging the ocean. As much as I love Wellington, I don’t have the same relationship here with the land. But the Maori do.

And for a bonus, third dose of kiwiness, I leave you with Split Enz singing “I see red.”

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Winter is coming soon to a southern hemisphere country near you. On Wednesday and Thursday, it popped in to say hello. It was, I think, a promotional visit, reminding us that it will be here soon, giving the occasional taste of what is to come, and letting us know that we should start making plans now. The permanent release will come soon enough. That promotional tour  around the country was bad enough that for a day or two I needed a fleece, something called socks made a cameo appearance, and we had to remember where to find the heating control, and how to use it.

But today, summer has returned for one last ditch push to stay on top of the charts. This morning the harbour was calm, but deserted. The ship berthed at the wharf was piled high with containers, and the Blue Bridge ferry crossed with some of the last of the summer tourists, but there were no cruise ships, or yachts, or swimmers out in the harbour. Gone too were the sunseekers on the beach, and even the joggers and walkers had an extra layer of clothing on. Still, there were one or two rowing crews and a just two kayakers making the most of the glassy surface, and the sun pushed through, the temperatures returning to the 20s just in time for the weekend.

As the harbour reflected the buildings and hills that surround it, I became reflective too. I haven’t been able to make the most of this summer – not a single picnic (unless a Subway sandwich on Petone foreshore counts) or barbecue on our deck – but for once, after months of consistently warm weather, I don’t think I will feel cheated when winter returns for a blockbuster season. Just as long as it holds off for a while yet.

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February in Wellington

February seems to be the month I write about the weather – perhaps because February is both when we often enjoy the best part of summer, but also when we sense the changing nature of the sun, and reawakens our fear that summer might disappear any moment now.

On this day in 2009, I worried aloud on Fb that summer was not going to come back. 45 minutes later, the sun had come out and I was happy. The fear remained, though, and the very next day I blogged about these days of foreboding. I remember complaining later that summer ended around 23rd February that year. (I remember the date, because it was when my sister arrived in Wellington to go shopping for her wedding dress. I blame her!)

A year later, on 25 February 2010, I posted on Fb, “Warm sun, breeze through the house, first free day in a month, chardonnay chilling in the fridge, good book waiting.” Later, I commented on hearing “a horn, sounding deep and long. I think it must be the cruise ship, saying farewell to Wellington on this gorgeous day.” I post more frequently when I’ve poured myself a chardonnay.

On 22 February 2011, the big Christchurch earthquake struck, and we were all in shock. But earlier that month I’d taken the time to enjoy the cicadas and the “hot hot hot” weather.

In February 2012, I travelled to Singapore and Thailand, so for once wasn’t obsessed with the Wellington summer. Though if I’m honest, I was probably a little worried that I was away for the best part of our summer! Generally, we try to avoid travelling in February for precisely this reason.

In February 2013, I wrote What a difference a day makes, contrasting the sunny and gloomy days that make up our summer.

In February 2014, I blogged about the beautiful but eerie mists hanging over the city.

In February 2015, it was a rainy summer Monday, and I was thinking about the changeability of our weather – a feature of living on islands in the southern Pacific Ocean.

Today, 25 February 2016, I am looking forward to my chardonnay this evening (any moment now in fact), I’m enjoying listening to the cicadas outside, and although the wind is a bit stronger than I’d like, I am pleased it is managing to keep the temperature down.

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“Look at my beautiful life!” is often the subtext to blogposts and is certainly a major part of social media. I’m guilty of it myself, posting photos of my travels, or more recently – since we have been grounded – summer beaches.

But I recently saw a news item on the big freeze in the northeast of the US and Canada. It was mind-boggling. So today, even though I might be overly warm, and have the garage door cracked open to the south, to bring in some cooler air, there are occasional rain showers, and I feel obliged to point out that summer in Wellington isn’t all blue skies and sunshine and warm temperatures.

This was what I saw out my bedroom window yesterday, and it’s not much better today:

A rainy summer Sunday

A rainy summer Sunday

Though I will admit that, a year on, I still get a thrill seeing the finished deck and new fence.


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Summer makes me happy. I like autumn, and parts of winter and spring, but summer brings a freedom to it, a lightness of being that I adore. It brings some of my favourite things – pohutukawa in bloom, blue agapanthas following the pohutukawa, my new deck, grilled vegetables, ripe tomatoes, eating outside, noticing (even more than usual) the tui who flit about our trees, and of course, ice-cream. (Which reminds me, I must schedule my Annual Gelato Day for 2015.) Summer doesn’t last long in Wellington. So, when I have the opportunity, I write about summer. As you have no doubt noticed.

However, I am always conscious when I write about summer that the large majority of my blog readers and other online friends* are from the northern hemisphere. Many of them are enduring ridiculous temperatures below freezing, whether we’re talking Fahrenheit or Celsius, blizzards, and all the negatives that come with that. (Although they also have the beauty of snow-covered landscapes that look just like a wonderland to me.) Recently, prompted by a one-word comment also on Fb, I wondered if I was being cruel.

But then I thought about my winters. Inundated by the global media, by FB friends and bloggers, all talking about their summer, it feels as if I endure winter almost on my own. The world struggles to acknowledge that we have different seasons (as I’ve mentioned before). We are lost and forgotten at the bottom of the earth in winter. So I’ve decided that my lone voice gloating over extolling the virtues of summer in Wellington in comparison isn’t really cruel. Actually, it’s not even close to being payback.


* Out of consideration to them, I won’t post another photo of the beach or a picnic spot. Not today.


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