Posts Tagged ‘Wellington harbour’

I have a confession to make. I had a two-month break from going to the gym. I was disrupted by Christmas and New Year, the terrible weather, and an appointment with a surgeon about my knee (though surgery was discounted, that makes it more difficult in some ways), and then basic inertia set in. I’ve been back the last few weeks, but I’m procrastinating about a decision I have to make about the gym. To stay, or to leave. I have an emotional connection with this small, quality group of gyms – one of the owners was my personal trainer when he was still qualifying as a physiotherapist, back at the turn of the century. And I enjoy the therapy of the drive around the bays to the gym, always different, always dramatic, regardless of whether it is fine or stormy, whether the sea is rough or calm.

These days I am taking my camera with me more frequently. So this morning, driving home after a good workout, I was pleased to see some yachts out on the water, with a large container ship moored further away. I braced myself against the wind, and tried some photos. But the sea, the hills and the sky all blended together a little too much, on this colourless morning.

Yachts on Wellington Harbour

I drove on, and as I came around into the inner harbour, I decided to try again. This is our little city on a cloudy morning, where the buildings hug the water and are framed by the hills. (I’m pleased to report the sun is out and the sky is now blue! But no, I’m not driving back to repeat the photo!) There were no cruise ships in the harbour, though there were two yesterday when it was warm and beautiful, so today we locals had it all to ourselves.

Wellington waterfront


In case you hadn’t already guessed, one of my photography challenges this week is to take a panorama. The other challenge was to take just one shot and use that. I guess it is supposed to encourage careful planning, deliberate framing, and accuracy. In keeping with the beachy theme, my one shot is below. I have to confess though that it involved no careful planning, only a little deliberate framing, and happily some accuracy! The husband and I headed north to an estuary one lunchtime this week, determined to make the most of a warm day, and enjoyed a picnic by the water. On the menu was bacon and egg pie, of course, and afterwards, I got my camera out. This little fellow was not upset that we didn’t share our lunch with him, and posed nicely. What could be more summery? Green grass, sand, and a seagull.

Seagull on grass




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It’s been over two and a half months since I’ve been to this cafe. It’s my first Monday back at the gym, taking it gently, only 15 minutes on the bike, to get my ankle and knee moving, followed by some free weights and my ankle/knee physiotherapy exercises. It’s nice to get back to some normality, to get back to a routine, but it will be nicer still when I can go down the stairs alternate feet first, and don’t wake up to pain in my knee every hour or two.

When I was working out the sun was blinding, reflecting off the sea and the polished concrete floor, but now the clouds have covered over, and the sea is softly choppy, as the wind is gentle, and the temperature outside ridiculously mild for the day before the shortest day of the winter. Across the harbour, as I wait for my flat white, I can see the container transporters working on the wharf, multi-coloured containers piled high in office block proportions, looking like Lego blocks, or several complicated Rubik’s cubes, though perhaps not so complicated after all, as at least one cube has been solved on the side facing me, smugly monotone white and complete. The Eastbourne ferry crosses in front of me, reminding me that even after all these years I’ve never taken it, and wondering if my 13-year old nephew* would like a trip on it when he comes to stay in a few weeks.

The simple act of moving, the people I got to know at the gym, going to my regular coffee shops, seeing the recovery of my favourite coffee shop (after a fire), being outside, enjoying the harbour – all these little things I used to take for granted mean so much more after an extended break.**

*okay, great-nephew, but I think we’ve reached an understanding where he calls me his great aunt (ie. aunt who is great, because I am) and he will be my nephew who is great because he is.

** pun not intended.

Update: I am pleased to report that two weeks later taking stairs is easier, and my knee is less painful.


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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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There’s something about the harbour when the tide is in. It affects my mood, reminds me that where I live is full of beauty, fills my heart – like Evans Bay – near to overflowing, and is, just for that moment, perfect. The picture postcard mornings on the way to the gym, with the water almost up to the floor of the multi-coloured boathouses, the vista smooth and tranquil, are no more beautiful than the harbour today after the gym, the sea that deep cool blue, choppy in the blustery breeze, gorgeous even in its frigid hostility. I love that side of the harbour, yet I continue to drive around the bays, around the point into Oriental Bay, where coffee beckons and, as my friend’s mother once said, it is always Sunday. Here, the feeling is more hospitable, the water calmer, silvery, glittering in the sun, edged and protected by the city buildings, and green hills where I make my home.

Today though, an icy Antarctic blast reminds us that spring is simply a date on the calendar, not a reading on a thermometer, and I wrap my red scarf and woolly coat close around me. Still, I like to think that there is a subtle promise in the angle and the brightness of the sunlight that, one day soonish, spring might actually be a reality.


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I am sitting in the bow of the Boat Cafe today. It isn’t very busy – the other patrons are in the centre section, close to the fire, and there are no mums and screaming children, no large groups of pensioners, not even the occasional business people meeting with their laptops. Just me, alone in the bow, the sea calm, no gentle rocking, just some tiny ripples across the water which, if I look up, make me feel as if I am moving forward, but today, after some disappointing (predictable but disappointing nonetheless) news yesterday, I know I am most definitely not. The sun comes in and out over the city and hills and harbour, a small flag flutters sporadically on one of the blue and white boatsheds, and the white yachts in the marina sit quietly, waiting patiently for spring and summer and the loving care and presence of their owners, for exhilarating races on the harbour, or parties with friends. The Blue Bridge ferry is in its berth across the inner harbour, loading and unloading passengers to and from the South Island, lucky to have a smooth journey today, which isn’t always guaranteed, but it’s a beautiful journey so a bit of chop doesn’t matter unless you’re prone to seasickness, or find yourself sitting next to someone who is.

Van Morrison serenades me, though not me, because my eyes are green, not brown, though I don’t take the slight personally, enjoying the music and my flat white, a welcome treat after a workout at the gym around Point Jerningham in another bay. I should be reading my library book, a book already full of beautiful imagery and wonderful phrases and Irish blarney, and not really anywhere near the main story yet, a book that I am loving, but have abandoned these last few minutes so I can look out the window at my 270 degree view, and take it in, feel gratitude on a day when I don’t really want to feel grateful, and have the comfort of knowing you are all with me on this late winter Wellington morning.

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On Friday I drove for the first time since my surgery. My husband has been fantastic, chauffeuring me around wherever I needed to go. He’s had to come to the supermarket with me, as the baskets are too heavy for me to carry, and I’m not allowed to push the trolleys (carts for North Americans) for another week or so. He’s taken me down out of the hills so I can walk on the flat. We’ve been to the mall just to get out of the house on rainy days. In fact, in the last five weeks, we’ve pretty much done everything together. We’re even cooking meals together – unheard of in the first 30 years of our marriage! And it’s been fine. But let’s face it, it hasn’t been just the last five weeks. This time last year we had arrived in the Middle East, at the beginning of our five month trip away. We’ve been together almost every day since. Our relationship has survived intact. And we have wonderful memories together. But sometimes I do think there can be such a thing as too much togetherness.

So when a friend texted me to ask if I wanted to drop everything and go to a movie with her, I jumped at the opportunity. (Okay, not literally.) The movie was excellent (Two Faces of January), and took us both back to travels in Athens and Istanbul. We headed off to Zany Zeus for one of her favourite haloumi sandwiches for a late lunch and a chat, and then I drove home.

I headed along the Esplanade in Petone, looking out across the harbour. Matiu/Somes Island glowed green in the sunlight, and the pier out over the calm but cold water was back-lit by the low, wintry afternoon sun. The sunshine, welcome after a week of gloomy and rainy weather, was showing Wellington off at its best. As I drove home along the motorway that snakes around the hills right on the edge of the harbour, along the fault-line next to the railway lines – passing one of the commuter trains that enjoy such a fantastic view every day – a plane flew overhead, coming in to land at the airport. I thought of a blogging friend I have never met. (We were supposed to meet in Italy last year, but our plans didn’t work out). An American who most recently was living in Europe, she was returning to New Zealand, to live in Wellington again, her home of choice. And on this day, her first day back, our city and harbour put on a sparkling Wellington welcome home for her. I smiled.  And I’m looking forward to finally meeting her over a Wellington flat white.

Matiu/Somes Island, Wellington Harbour

Matiu/Somes Island, Wellington Harbour

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Living in Wellington, we are accustomed to a particular clarity of light.  Sparkling, is probably the best way to describe it.  So when we woke this morning to find our valley swathed in mist, it was unusual.  We get mist from time to time – several days a year, and sometimes the airport is even closed.  But usually this is in winter, or around the season changes.  Quickly though, the mist cleared, but as I drove down the gorge to sea level, I found myself driving back into the mist again.

The cruise ship in port was almost hidden in the mist.  I pitied the passengers, and indeed saw some walking disconsolately back to the ship.  I hoped they’d turn around, as minute by minute I could see the sun breaking through.  Around Oriental Bay, the beach was in sunshine, but the mist was still heavy over the water.  I stopped to snap some shots. I wasn’t the only one.

Oriental bay emerging from the mist - can you see the yacht at the right?

Oriental bay emerging from the mist – can you see the yacht at the right?

Further around, in Evans Bay, the mist had risen even further, but I still couldn’t see the other side of the harbour.

Evans Bay on the way to the gym

Evans Bay on the way to the gym

And so I worked out at the gym, the French doors thrust open to the view.  Clear to the west and immediately in front of us, the mist was still clinging to the water in the distance, and it was eerie to see a small sailboat suddenly appear.  Later, a silver flash appeared, jet-skiers making the most of the glassy calm water and the summery temperatures.  The mists gradually receded, showing the Days Bay Ferry dwarfed by a huge container ship.

The airport is maybe only a kilometre away, and from our treadmills and weights machines we can usually see the planes coming in to land.  But today we could only hear them – although a few appeared at the last minute,  scary seconds before landing.

As I headed back, work-out over, the sun was winning the battle, and the mist was disappearing quickly, still obscuring Matiu/Somes Island though, and leading me to suspect my friend across the eastern side of the harbour would still be in the clouds.  On our side of the harbour though, all that remained was a low dense ribbon of white mist lining the motorway the snakes around the edge of the harbour in the distance.  The rest of the harbour and city … well … it sparkled.

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