Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Memory lane

What a wander down memory lane, sorting through those boxes of stored treasures. Old photos, records of events, letters, cards, books, the bits and pieces of lives enjoyed. It's time to throw away all my old teaching resources, time to sort the photos from way back when into years, subjects, people. Time to part with some books I no longer need to store.

It's been so good having this decent break and being able to stay where the treasures are stored. I've managed to rationalise boxes, re classifying the treasures and putting the empty boxes out to recycle. The garage is certainly looking emptier, tidier. My stuff will need to wait until I have a more permanent place to live, there's change afoot as I'm looking for a new place to rent. A sunnier place.

I had thought I had some clothes, winter ones, and shoes here. It seems not. I guess that's an excuse for me to go shopping. I may just have to wait until my card is healthier. This is a temporary respite from the boxes, the dust and the sorting. Next job, back to those photos. What a treat.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Magic

Just magic. Late on Christmas eve I write after some interesting adventures. Christmas is so special when spent with little people, lovely grand children little people. Noah has been a delight. With the usual excitement he headed to bed, a little late, very tired and wondering when santa would arrive. Not long after there was a sizable earthquake in this earthquake prone place. I checked on him.

"Grandma, why did my house shake? Was it santa landing on the roof?"

Oh my, how hard to keep a straight face and explain that santa couldn't be on the roof yet because he was still awake. That the shaking was another scary earthquake. So hard to destroy some magic for him. He took it in his stride as he does and off to sleep he went, unsettled because he's been awake on and off since then.

The note and key are on the door. 'Dear santa. We love you. Here's the key' written by a small boy without a chimney. Carrots for the raindeer, milk and chocolate for santa. Oh the preparation and excitement. Tim and I talked of Christmases past when he was small, knowing the joy his mum and dad got preparing the presents and surprises for him. Even when we had very little to offer.

Tomorrow promises to be tons of fun, Lego to make, books to read, chocolate; and all before breakfast. Lets hope the earth remains quiet tonight. After all it is Christmas. Merry Christmas and to all a good night.

Bubbly fun today


Sunday, 21 December 2014

Heading south

I'm all packed and ready to go, with some time to spare. I had a home day yesterday, tired after a hectic few weeks. Time to relax. The work Christmas party was fun, the small organising committee working hard to make it so with games, gifts, chocolate, wine. What more could one ask for when surrounded by friends.

All the parcels are posted, the ones to Australia will get there on time. Fingers crossed. The boy has his under the tree with some supplementary ones in my carry on. So it's time to wind down and relax at the end of my first full year back in New Zealand.

And what a year it's been. There's quite a list really. Two new grand daughters, a wedding, a new job, new friends and old, a new home filled with new stuff and old treasures, sailing adventures, travel to family as often as I could, the luxury of not being jet lagged for a whole year. Plenty of adventures.

My resolution for this break is to sort out my photos and write some catch up entries here. Now I must run for the bus, I didn't really have time to do this. Merry Christmas.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

That sick thing

So being sick got me good and proper. A wet sail possibly didn't help, I was already battling a little something and it bit on Monday. By Tuesday I realised that I needed some help, how hard is it to find a doctor in Wellington? Really hard at a moments notice it seems. And very expensive. How was I to know there was a small step one had to take to be seen by a doctor? One has to register.

With some help from my lovely friends at work a doctor was found, my first visit to a GP since my medical in the UAE. It was quick and painless, no nasty needles mentioned, and expensive. $85 plus prescription costs for a five minute consult.

Doctor: (After a 2 second listen) You seem to have a deep seated chest infection, oh and glands and a sinus infection. You need antibiotics. Here you go. Goodbye.

Me: Speechless. (Really and surprisingly speechless with a that's it? Look)

No medical history questions, blood pressure taking, no real check over, no offer that if it's not better by Friday then do this, no suggestions about how long I might need off work resting. I must have looked healthy in all other ways I guess.

Today was my first day back at work, well back at the Advisory Leadership course I have been attending. I couldn't miss the last session. I have made some lovely friends on this course, a group of like minded folks with whom I have that secret handshake of a shared set of experiences. We just pick up where we left off each time. Very special, and very much thanks to some wonderful facilitation by Michelle and her trusty side kick Claire for McCormack and Associates. Such a lot of learning and affirming.

Tomorrow I will be in catch up mode in the office. I have already made the paella for tomorrow nights Christmas party at the sheds, a Spanish theme for for Pete's shed with sangria too and maybe a flamenco dancer. I have my red shoes ready. It will be interested to join this annual shed crawl with lots of different themes, drinks and food. After racing of course.

I suspect I might need a quiet Saturday although Christmas shopping for the Aussie crew is top on the list. I must check out postal times tomorrow. I had a treat today, a lovely email from April on Cayman Brac, a Christmassy let's Skype soon email. It's been a while so I can't wait to have a good catch up. I do enjoy the social times around Christmas, people wanting to spend time together. Bodes well for the next few weeks.



Saturday, 29 November 2014

Evening TV

I've enjoyed listening to the string of talent shows about at the moment, listening while doing other things and stopping for the really good ones like DaNica Shirey. Had to share this one.




Fireworks!

What a treat. An awesome venue, a barbeque, red wine, excellent company and fireworks over the harbour. After some work on Tortimony, making sure the skipper didn't fall from the mast and passing up those important fixing things things, the evening progressed as people gathered to watch the big fireworks display. Shed folks and others for the best view in the place.

I had taken my big camera, hoping I could get some night shot practice. Night shots and not my best so I need all the practice I can get. I've been getting some lovely time on the water lately with the Friday evening Rum Races. The weather out on the harbour is fickle, especially later in the day. This week it was the southerly change that brought stinging cold rain and small hail. Yes, it was very cold! Exciting too. We came third in class, not a bad effort. Rum was enjoyed.

Todays been a quiet one, much needed after some long days lately. Long days and people staying. That social time of year. There was the Meet-up Christmas party last weekend, an evening of great music and dancing. It's been a while since I did so I made the most of it. Finishing the evening with tea at the Library Bar in the small hours. I'm one of those organising work's Christmas party, thats been fun. 

Heading south for Christmas this year to enjoy the 4 year old. It's time for my first proper break this year, family time then heading off for an adventure to Nelson and hopefully sailing across the strait back home. One of the crew is taking his family out to the sounds and needs extra hands to get home. Sounds like a nice plan to me. 





Sunday, 16 November 2014

How to make a lasagne

A vege one of course. Get a ride down to the vege market with your Cayman Eco bag. Hunt out too many veggies and fruit to fit in the one bag and be comfortably carried home. Buy them anyway. Trudge down the waterfront, stopping frequently, changing hands. Rest for a bit. Eat some of the ciabatta and a banana to lighten the load. Head to the nearest bus stop.

Up the hill dragging the bags, in the door collapse on the couch with my book and a cuppa for a bit. Empty the bags, sort the old vege in the fridge. Bin the lot. Get the vege ready for the lasagne. Get the dish for the lasagne. What? No dish? What do you mean no dish to cook the lasagne in? Guess that one didn't get packed after all. Sigh.

Out the door for the wander to the supermarket, an over 3 km walk both ways. Sigh. Well there was on dish there, the heaviest dish in the whole world. It was red at least. Just need a couple of other things......two bags, arms growing longer and longer. Who needs a gym workout.

Home, too late to collapse on the couch, oh go on just for a moment. Chop the vege, wilt the spinach, turn on the oven. Might as well make a date loaf while the ovens hot. Sauté the vege and add some sauce. Skype call from Sasi and the girls. Hold the lasagne, turn off the oven, lovely catch up with the gorgeous ones. Plenty of smiles. Hot there in Brisbane, nice.

Stack up the vege, lasagne and all. Into the oven. Date loaf next. Oh, not a wise idea. Hungry now, just want dinner. Not quite cooked. Loaf ready, in the oven it goes. Dishes everywhere, the next job. Sigh, just want to eat and relax on the couch. It's all done now, cuppa in hand, date loaf sampled. Not bad.

So it's work tomorrow. I'd rather have another sleep in. It must be just about time for a holiday, a few days off without anything much to do. Friday evenings have been spent on the water, this week shifty, gusty winds meant a full body work out. Nice social time after, postmortem on the race we didn't quite finish. It's been great having Sue here on the evenings she is, great company and we plan to get walking as the evening get lighter.

I'm really enjoying the twilights here, long evening to enjoy the gardens and the waterfront. There's always so much going on down there, today the Sea Shepherd was in Dock and the waka out training.  The chants drifting across to the watching crowd. I managed to get some pics, a relief to put down the bags for a bit.


Sunday, 9 November 2014

The wedding

What a treat it was to be with everyone on such a special occasion. Brisbane turned on a beautiful day, all those special people came together, Kieran and Sasi looked just gorgeous and then there were the beautiful grandbabies. A real family occasion, one to catch up with those I haven't seen in a while. To renew, to reminisce, to celebrate.

The photos are wonderful, the photographers did an amazing job. I can't wait to get some prints. Although I took a few, my camera was mostly quiet. Too much catching up to do. The dress was a success.

I was really impressed by how friendly Brisbane folks are. I usually stay with family so I've not had much time in the city. The lovely staff at the Gardens Apartments up graded us to a two bedroom apartment. It was a great base, within walking distance of everywhere we needed to be. Everyone we met was fantastic and the happy couple were the centre of attention. So many people congratulating them.

So here's a pic of the whole crew. The first time in so many years that we have all been together, the first time with those gorgeous little ones.


Sunday, 19 October 2014

Oh my!

This space has been just so neglected lately. Not that I've not had adventures to write about, quite the opposite. Life is all consuming at the moment. After a quiet winter, well quiet for me, it's all go with friends coming to stay, cultural events to attend, wonders to be wandered, socialising to be done. Generally busy in all parts of my life with work ramping up to the place where it's more interesting and engaging.

It seems that I've not written since mid September. So much to tell, where to start. I wrote last post that Jane and Annie were coming to stay. What a treat, two of my favourite people who had never met each other at my place at the same time. It put me in mind of a poem I received in a card once:

Make new friends and keep the old
these are silver, those are gold.

I've known Annie for so many years it's scary, we had a laugh about that. Remembering, reminiscing. Jane and I have country hopped together, both now back home and enjoying this place. I hired a car, we had adventures. I'd been stressing a bit about what to wear to the upcoming wedding, mother of the groom suitable. The outfit I'd bought earlier was elegant. It needed shoes, and a suck it in petticoat. Or the toning of some tummy bits.

Plan B needed to arrive, a trip to Greytown over the Rimutakas with my new credit card was quite in order. I'm not a good shopper, I have to be in the mood. With my personal shopper the stylish Jane and her trusty side kick Annie, I had little choice. And it was quite fun knowing that I could buy without checking the price tag on this one day. The joys of a new, untouched, no balance credit card and the need to look stylish for this very special occasion.

The first shop was all we needed. A nice green dress called me in, a gorgeous colourful Trelise Cooper dress left with me. i had a small chuckle at the name of the dress, Caribbean Dream. Too appropriate it seems. Just wish I still had my Caribbean tan. There was also that wonderful moment when I wasn't sure, it didn't quite fit the way it might, and the lovely assistant brought out the smaller size. It fitted perfectly.

So a pair of orange shoes and a matching handbag later, all I need is the right lippy and I'm good to go. Today I'm practicing using my new contacts, the glasses were a hit and they can be plan B just in case. All good so far.

The reason Annie came up is that we had planned to go to WOW or the World of Wearable Arts. There was a part of me that was ambivalent, that was until the first minute of the show. Wow it most certainly was. What a fantastic, mind blowing show. I could have gone a few times just to make sure I saw all there was in this most sumptuous production. I was awestruck and emotional, very proud of the talent, our talent, on display. With the wonderful piece that was all about Aotearoa. The clip below is such a small taste, the plan is to go again next year.

We had a small mishap after a night out where I learnt that it costs $140 to be let into one's house when one has mislaid the keys. One of those funny moments when we stood freezing by the door after being dropped off by the taxi, debating what to do, when there was a perfectly good car parked on the road to sit in. I even had the car keys in my hand and could have driven back to find the ones that had dropped out of my small bag. The locksmith was almost there when we realised, he came up the road to see three women crippled with laughter waiting to greet him. I suspect he'd seen worse.

So I suspect this is part one of a long catching up tale. I fly to Brisbane on Friday, outfit and shoes packed in a special carry on shopping bag. It's going to be a long day, flying to Christchurch to pick up the great grandmother, then to Brisbane and all the excitement of seeing everyone. I can't wait and photos will follow.

For now it's time to head out with Sue and Bex to pick up two sun loungers for summer evening wine moments in the late afternoon sun.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Catching up

Its been an interesting time lately. The winter blues have given way to some spring delights, like the daffodils on my table. Vibrant yellow reflecting the sun as it rises through my east windows. The sun now comes in those windows, that means summer is on its way. This is a summer house, not being insulated like so many New Zealand homes makes it not so warm in the winter. The sun is also gone in winter from quite early in the day.

Last evening I joined a few folks in the Last Minute Larrys Meet-up group to watch the rugby in town. I really enjoy these groups of people, all are friendly and inclusive, some I've met many times, some are new. Like the trainee doctor from Germany. I did my best to explain the rules of rugby, what was good and what was not. She had been in the country for two weeks and was told rugby was a must see. I'm sure I'd have been the same watching football in Germany with her, except she had perfect English and I have no German.

Yesterday I replaced my glasses, another tick on the to do before the Brisbane wedding. I also have some new contacts to try. The optometrist suggested that I only use one contact so I didn't have to carry reading glasses, she suggested it. Others have laughed at me doing just that when I only managed to get one contact in. See I'm hopeless at using them successfully. Hopefully they will work just fine this time.

Not many more weeks until I'm off to Brisbane again, I can't wait. It will be the first time all my sons have been in the same place at the same time in a long while, certainly since Nick became a dad too. Seeing my sons being dads is the most amazing experience. They are all awesome dads, well taught by their dad's modelling. It's precious to see their smiles as they gaze lovingly at their little ones, as they build Lego creations, take them on bike rides to the park, show their love and pride. It makes me very proud.

My daughters in law are all awesome too, like the boys they are all different and yet all with the same special qualities that make them wonderful women to be raising children, my grand children. The cousins will get to play, well the two bigger ones will, and their great grandmother will get to meet the two new additions. I feel family photos coming on.

Today I got my spare room a little more organised. Jane and Annie are coming to visit in a couple of weeks and Sue is coming to stay for a bit, commuting from her lovely new home in Nelson. I also got to wander in the gardens. Following paths familiar and unfamiliar and finding some restful contemplation spots. Wellington is truly amazing. Within 20 minutes walk I can wander in the bush, through rose gardens, along the waterfront, through the city and climb hills. No excuse not to be fit.

Brisbane babes

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Giving in

I've been feeling a bit peaky the last week or so, everyone at work has the flu of some description and sharing the same air conditioning and open plan space is bound to mean some other sharing. So today I'm giving in and having a home day. One to have plenty of rest and fluids so I can make the presentation I'm doing at a conference tomorrow and the leadership meeting in the afternoon. I've also got a presentation to prepare for a session on Wednesday plus some personal stuff that needs business hours time.

So it might not be such a restful day, or am I just justifying taking a day off sick. I come from tough stock, originally Scottish stock and we don't admit to sick or do sick often. I've learnt that if I gift myself a day when I'm feeling like this, honour feeling off colour, acknowledge it and take care of myself, I come right quickly. It's the same with so much of life.

This week here has been lovely, soaking up the spring sunshine, topping up my vitamin D stores. Yes, summer is on the way. I'm looking forward to that and my next trip. Of course my next trip. I'm heading to Brisbane in a month or so for Kez and Sasi's wedding, I'm so excited. That coupled with the need to fit into a nice dress, buy shoes and organise some make up etc. Another thing for the list, that nice dress. Oh and maybe a hat/fascinator/hatinator (apparently there's such a thing).

So life in the capital goes on, there's an air of tension, excitement here about the upcoming election. It should prove interesting. 

Monday, 18 August 2014

That time of year again

Birthday time. Go off and do something different time. My last few years of birthdays have been different. I got the bug after spending one in a cave hotel in Turkey, 10 year ago now, drinking raki, eating white cheese and watermelon with the hotel owner. Then the cake arrived courtesy of the lovely Hayden who had organised our trip. Celebrations shared.

Then there were a few at home followed by one that started in Al Ain, progressed to Dubai business class lounge with a bubbly breakfast and ended in Cardiff via a road trip from London. Other highlights have been Italian with friends on a tropical island, dining on trout fresh from Lake Titikaka after visiting the reed islands and New Orleans adventures. This years highlight tops all, breakfast with our newest addition and her dad and mum in Melbourne. Getting to know the gorgeous Frankie.

Next year will have to be pretty special to top that. So begins a new year for me, one that takes some reflection after all the changes of the past year. Its been exactly a year since I set sail from Cayman and began my long way round back to home. A year of new friends and old friends, sixteen airports (many of them multiple times), adventures and learning, family time with an increased family, finding my way around a new job, a new home with new furniture and old treasures. Not a bad year really.

Aotearoa

Friday, 1 August 2014

Melbourne

Sometimes I'm just too busy to do this space justice. The last three weekends have been hectic, this one is the same. I'm in Melbourne getting some Frankie time. And Nick and Liberty time of course, although the small girl demands a bit of time. She is so gorgeous, at such a lovely age with smiles and chats as she kicks on her new NZ sheepskin rug.

Tonight I get to babysit as her mum and dad have a much needed night out. She's just gone off to sleep, the house seems so quiet. It's disconcerting looking at her sometimes as Nick looks back at me. She looks like her dad, that brings back memories. She's a much more settled baby than he was thankfully.

Melbourne is showing me her winter face. Windy and cold with a helping of hail as I walked back from the shops this afternoon. I always enjoy Melbourne. So much to do and so easy to get around. Tomorrow promises some sunshine and a wander around the markets. I'm looking forward to that.

I was in Brisbane last weekend for Sasi's hens party and to get some Aria and Eve time. Such a great weekend, not long enough really. It was warm too, much needed sunshine after the recent bleakness of Wellington. Roll on summer, it can't come soon enough for this hot house flower. 

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

And one more

I see I didn't write about my weekend. Or on the weekend. It was quiet, well except for a trip to a place called Adrenaline Forest.  Gill had bought some tickets for us before she disappeared to the UK. Last weekend was the last time to use the tickets so Rachel, Diana and I found our way there, my navigation didn't help in this easiest of tasks. A recurring theme.

What a hoot, three women of a certain age following a group of kids around the courses. Their mums were sensible enough to be watching from the ground way, way below. I made it most of the way through excitement, trail 3. I only stopped because my friends were tired, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. It was so tiring, all that hanging onto things so I didn't fall off. Hauling myself up ropes, over wobbly bridges, movable feasts of logs and planks and ropes and the flying foxes (zip lines).

It was so much fun, something I'll do again. My muscles told me on Sunday that I'd overdone it a bit. We met for dessert, well earned dessert, that evening and retold the days dramatic, near death stories. Sunday it was open homes time. I wandered to the first one, meeting a lovely young lass in the process. We spent some time looking through it properly a bit later in the day. People have such amazing stories, Rebekah was no exception. I hope we will get to meet again, to continue our conversation.

This evening I've been enjoying a Chianti, as I was looking through my photos I found this one. Taken in a small town in Peidmont, a treat of local wine with the Barbaresco, Barolo and Nebbiolo reds from this place so famous and so very moreish. Di, Sandy, Salette and I may just have sampled a few that day of summer sunshine and vino tasting.

Peidmont, Italy 
The raw materials

Phew

That was a close call. My Mac decided to hibernate for winter last evening. It hasn't liked the cold, a tropical flower much like myself really. I've noticed, after the spectacular crash in Croatia, that my poor Mac has never quite been the same. It could be the cold, it could be being miffed that I bought a sort of replacement in Vienna. A pale imitation of a Mac this iPad thing. Not quite meeting my real needs although I do use it to potter around on.

So last evening the crash, this evening coaxing the poor old Mac to life was heart stopping. It reset back to 2001, it's not that old. I hope. Then there was no Internet so that was a whole reset process, finding and reentering my codes and password. Thankfully it worked, thankfully here I am writing on said Mac, on the Internet. All is okay in my world.

The funny thing is that a funny thing happened at work yesterday and I was opening up the Mac to write about it, and the trip it was part of. I don't feel so inspired now. I do, however, feel like a bit of a domestic goddess. Only a bit. I baked this evening, glass in hand while waiting for my roasties to roast. Yams (or little boys toes as we used to call them when there were little boys), parsnips, kumara, pumpkin, potatoes. Roasted comfort food for a chilly evening, music blasting. The blueberry muffins turned out wonderfully, unexpectedly yummy. The 12 became 11. Quality control.

Tomorrow I've got an early start and muffins will be the order of the day for us early starters. This whole winter thing is not too much fun. I'm feeling the cold, it's too cold to sail, well for me anyway. Gloves are on in the morning, two extra heaters have been purchased. An electric blanket is in constant use. I'm not really built for the cold, I need more fat on my bones one kind soul said today. It's been a really mild winter so far, they added. I didn't do them any violence, just smiled benignly while shrinking inside.

Not yet cold, mild winter. Well that is truly true when one considers how cold it's been in my old part of this place. Minus something and snow. I just need to harden up a little before I head there in a week or so. I've got some trips booked. Christchurch, Brisbane, Melbourne one weekend after another. I'm excited, Melbourne is my birthday weekend. The one I usually spend doing something completely different. This year it's family time. Meeting Frankie Beth for the first time is most certainly different, the true beginning of a wonder life long relationship. I can't wait.

So yesterday we were talking about Irish accents, I love them and there's a cute young man a few floors above us who speaks Irish. He was the object of our affection for all things Irish. Kate commented that her husband is Irish too, from Limerick. So the limericks flowed.

I got stung by bee
While driving through Tralee
The bugger flew in
I went into a spin
And killed the bugger, bugger me

This one, or something quite like it, made Kate giggle, with the other two people in the lift looking on in amazement. Trying not to giggle I suspect, although I didn't look too closely. We don't work in the sort of place where one has fun in the lift, or anywhere else for that matter.

Actually that really did happen. I giggled with relief, once the bugger stopped stinging me, at the bee in Tralee thing. He got me on the neck then ended up, not quite dead, in one of my pashminas. Imagine my surprise when I arrived at my hotel in Shannon and he flew, dazed, out the open window of my room. I needed a wee drop of something by then.

I had a lovely drive around the south of Ireland. Part of the hilarity today was about how I didn't get lost, managing to get myself around various places in the world all by myself, because I took Kate to completely the wrong place for a meeting. Twice. Don't tell her I did get lost, a lot. Part of the fun of the journey and the start of some of my finest adventures.

The white houses of Dingle Peninsula

Wild southern ocean, Dingle

Friday, 4 July 2014

A busy week

My intended entries didn't happen this week. Put it down to just being plain busy. Monday was an impromptu dinner out with a friend I don't manage to catch up with very often. A wander to my local for a relaxed meal in front of the warm fire and some mulled wine. Just what I needed. It's been chilly here, very chilly in the evenings. This hot house flower is quite enjoying the cold, although a small holiday on some tropical island might be nice.

The rest of my busy week, Tuesday was a long chat with Di on Skype and some catching up on some paperwork. Wednesday was a late one at work, an exhausted homecoming and an early night and last night I was given a ticket to see The Addams Family, a musical delight of amateur theatre. A group from work was going, one of our colleagues was in the show, and they had a spare ticket. Another time I was pleased I'd said yes. The small theatre was packed, generous glasses of wine were served and the fun began.

What a treat, Wellington is certainly the cultural capital. It was very funny in places, great singing and dancing. I was thankful I was up the back and not as close to the action as some of the group. On the stage, getting up close and personal. This evening it was after work drinks then home to talk with Nick and Frankie. Just a quick chat, I'm really looking forward to heading to Melbourne to meet her and have our first cuddle. Very exciting.

This weekend I'm planning a quiet one, probably hiring a car for Sunday so I can go out and about exploring. A walk is also on the cards, after I've checked out the weather of course. And of course some more travel entries. Well that's the plan for now.

One of the photos for my wall

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Not so good

At keeping my promise to write each day, it's just been such a busy week. The movie, a couple of late nights and some busy work days left me needing to replenish so Thursday was an early night. Then there was Friday, a day of farewells and after work drinks. Lots of drinks, and dancing and chatting and making new friends. A fun night out with an early morning finish.

Some time during the evening a trip to the rugby was mentioned so that was Saturday night's entertainment. That was after a shopping wander with Diana and Rachel and an adventure with a borrowed car, the kindness of my friends when Karin offered me her car. It was great to get out and about and do those small jobs like getting a third frame for my Peruvian art, now I just need to hang them up.

I also bought some small things for home so I can get baking, yes domestic goddess stuff. And bake I did this evening, spinach and feta muffins as well as some yummy veggie soup. It was a lovely afternoon to do domestic stuff, after an early walk around the south coast. This part of Aotearoa never fails to amaze me. The chill beauty of the wild sea, the smell of kelp and salt, the taste of a sea laden wind, the distant snowy mountains emerging from the sea. The stark beauty of my place.

I keep meeting lovely people who share their favourite spots with me, today was no exception. I did owe a coffee after a failed bet on the rugby, this minority supporter amongst a home crowd. Much to the delight of my friends, my team came second.

So the plan for next week is to continue adding entries, I won't be so rash as to even suggest that there might be one each day.

Doesn't quite do it justice - the land of the long white cloud



Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Not quite travel

Not really a travel story this evening although I did have travel to see this movie. Wellington buses and their friendly drivers will get some space here one day, this evening it's late so I'm copping out by just posting this.



What a hilarious movie, no really vampires and death and warewolves who were doing their best not to be swearwolves. And of course the Wellington streets I know so well now. And the New Zealand accents, strong ones mixed with vampire accents. One of those I could enjoy again. It was windy when I got home, very windy and dark with the trees banging against the house. Me, scared, yeah na as we say here in kiwi land. 

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Poetry

I've always loved poetry, it touches my soul. This is one of my favourites from the days when Kristine was my best friend and this poem was about us. I've really enjoyed exploring A poem a day this evening. That and chatting with a lovely friend has taken up my writing time this evening so instead of travel I'll leave you with home. Enjoy.


Friend


Do you remember
that wild stretch of land
with the lone tree guarding the point
from the sharp-tongued sea?


The fort we built out of branches
wrenched from the tree
is dead wood now.
The air that was thick with the whirr of
toetoe spear succumbs at last to the grey gull's wheel.

Oyster-studded roots
of the mangrove yield no finer feast
of silver-bellied eels, and sea-snails
cooked in a rusty can.


Allow me to mend the broken ends
of shared days:
but I wanted to say
that the tree we climbed
that gave food and drink
to youthful dreams, is no more.
Pursed to the lips her fine-edged
leaves made whistle - now stamp
no silken tracery on the cracked
clay floor.


Friend,
in this drear
dreamless time I clasp
your hand if only to reassure
that all our jewelled fantasies were
real and wore splendid rags.


Perhaps the tree
will strike fresh roots again:
give soothing shade to a hurt and
troubled world.



http://honetuwhare.org.nz/

Monday, 23 June 2014

Famine houses


One of the experiences on my travels that profoundly moved me was the drive around the peninsulas of the southern Ireland. Bantry, The Ring of Kerry, the Dingle Peninsula. Very special places. I know many Irish people and thought I knew a bit about the history of Ireland, about the troubles and the potato famine. Fiona and I talked of this over wine in Antwerp, of all places.

It seems that was the story the victors told, the English. The potatoes did indeed get blight a few years in a row. The piece not often told is how the soldiers kept the good ones for themselves and to export to England while the Irish farmers starved. I know that is a very simple statement about a very complex history that bears retelling here at some point.

As I was driving around the Dingle Peninsula, I spotted a sign pointing to some famine cottages. I stopped, paid the small fee to enter and off I went up the path. Oh the weight of history, grief and ghosts in those places. Restored, with stories told of the people who had perished here, terrible stories that give me goose bumps sitting here on my couch in Wellington.

The ghosts got to me, I felt their presence as I read their stories. Wept for them and their suffering. As I wandered I looked up and got a fright that left me a bit shaken. The cottages had children in places I didn't expect to see them. Up in the attic looking down, out by the stable door. Not real children of course but feeling spooked as I was, it was disconcerting to look up and find a child looking down on me. I felt compelled to life the tapu of the place before getting into my car.

A friend shared this poem with me and it was all I really intended to include in this space this evening. Rereading I realised that this special poem by Seamus Heaney was a fitting end to the story.

Digging

Bet­ween my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Ben­ds low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade,
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner's bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I've no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests
I'll dig with it.

A hard life



Sunday, 22 June 2014

Almost missed

The deadline for today. It's been an out and about day, a nice chatty day with some wonderful live music and excellent company. A perfect rendition of Sugar Mountain by Carlos. Who didn't really look like a Carlos and was an excellent musician. I may have to make it back there next Sunday afternoon.

I was reflecting on what to write here next and was deciding if starting from the start was best or going the other way, starting from here and heading east then north then east. I'm still decided and suspect it might be a mixed up version of events.

I was talking about Scotland today. About being in Stirling, at the castle, about that realisation that the history the historian was sharing was my history, my real far back history my families pre traveling to New Zealand history. That feeling as I looked over the wall and saw the army on the plains below. Quite stirring. No wonder Brave Heart struck a chord.

Scotland was a revelation, not the least that people could actually live in such an uninviting climate and not be grumpy about the weather. It was summer and was a bit wet and cold for this tropical kiwi dressed in jandels and a bright green puffer jacket. It was so very beautiful, so very stark and windswept. There are more photos, many more. Here are two from Stirling.

Stirling battleground

1304



Saturday, 21 June 2014

A commitment

Well, more of a resolution than a commitment. Blame it on the winter solstice and the need to resolve. This space has been very quiet lately and there are a number of reasons for that. One occasional reader said that with my life being very much business as usual at the moment, there wasn't so much to write about. True in some ways, although as another commented, I find adventure in the everyday. And every day here in Wellington is a bit of an adventure.

Another reason is that I write all day and when I come home I'm not so enthused about doing more. That and I had a small mishap out sailing, a torn bicep tendon that meant a few weeks in a sling and now some quite painful rehab to get it fully functional again. Writing hurt for a while although that's not the case so much now. Oh and then there's that iPad thingy, the lazy way to check what needs checking and quicker than my Mac can. Not so good to write on, more to just look.

So back to my commitment/resolution. Here goes, deep breath as I commit this to writing - I am going to write an entry here each day until I catch up on my travel stories. Post pics of the journey, the people and places. Today's entry is here so off to a reasonable start.

I'm off shopping soon to replace my favourite Italian leather boots, they lost their sole on the way home last week. I went into mourning, I've had them a while. They are at the repair shop now and I need to buy and break in a replacement pair. Quite a mission even in this city of black boots. Other shopping is required, something I've been emotionally preparing myself for for a while. I'm not a natural shopper although when I get into my stride it's an okay pass time on a day like today.

Karin, who offered to be my support group for this expedition, is an expert shopper and knows all the good places. I just hope I can keep up.

Here are two shots from my recent road trip up to visit Lyn and Kerry in New Plymouth, so fantastic to see them again. More about that later.

Mountains to the sea - Mt Taranaki

Late afternoon beach time - Taranaki

Sunday, 25 May 2014

A home weekend

Much needed, although there were Saturday adventures. Wanders in the wind and rain and photo time at the Botanic Gardens. Gill and I wandered to see the African Day festivities then wandered off taking shelter in Te Papa. I got to revisit the curiosity shop, a revisit of my past. Things I remember, things that are the legends of this place. Our things, the acknowledgement of turangawaewae (my place to stand) my home. As always, it brought tears to my eyes. 

The plan was to take in a photography meet-up at the Begonia House at the gardens. That was a bit of a disappointment as far as the meet-up went. I got some great pics, a couple of which are below, once I worked out that my settings needed a bit of adjustment. Using what I learned with Di in Italy. Nice to feel like I know what I'm doing and my shots are not just happy accidents. That I can adjust my settings to mean little or no adjusting is needed.

Next on the list for the day was a trip to the rugby, live at the famous Wellington cake tin. the weather meant we left it late to choose, almost didn't go after whiling away some time at my local. The seats we got were okay, the ground quite empty, the wind whirling around. It was chilly and I'm not sure I'll go again for a while, more a warm fire and watch it on TV sport for me. My companions made it fun, the hot chocolate after very welcome. 

So today I've pottered around, read my book in the sun that was streaming into my living room, resting, sorting photos and finances, answering emails and organising my next trip. A road trip along the coast to New Plymouth. I'm feeling the need to drive, it's been a while. 




Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Taxi drivers

I have some fun with the lovely taxi drivers of Wellington. They are an interesting mix of cultures and being the accent queen, I notice theirs. Just like the taxi drivers overseas notice mine. The where are you from question comes before I can stop myself and conversations follow.

Conversations where I learn a lot about other parts of the world, the politics, the religion and the diversity of cultures. I am a social anthropologist at heart and would love to travel the globe sharing the stories of others. I do that now, debunking myths about the Arabic peoples who have welcomed me into their communities.

My trip to Melbourne came with taxi rides. The one there was a quick jump off the airport bus and into a taxi so I wouldn't miss my plane. The driver was from Iraq. He was Shia and we had a conversation about the Shia and Suni conflicts. Interesting as I've not really explored the Shia side too much. He gave me a website to look at, I will get there some day soon.

On the way home, complete with some duty free for my drinks cupboard, I hitched a ride in a taxi with a man who jumped the queue. The taxi driver was accommodating, the other passenger not so. Bet he's telling his friends in Aus about this cheeky New Zealander who jumped in the back. The driver and I had a chuckle after we had dropped him off. He paid of course.

Seems the driver was Serbian, just like the driver I had had on a previous trip. They knew each other well of course. The previous driver shared the history of conflict in his country, very interesting. He was heading off home for the winter, home to his farm and vineyard to do the necessary summer work.

My favourite so far is the driver originally from Egypt. We sat outside chatting for a while after we had arrived at my place. Talking about the troubles in Egypt and the general destabilisation of the Middle East by other nations. Now there's news from Palestine, more news that should make us all feel outrage. Military sanctioned murder. News that made my heart hurt this morning.

So every ride is an adventure, an opportunity to learn some more about this wonderfully diverse world we live in. I've also met a new friend from Iran. He's Jewish, Persian, and very knowledgable about the history and struggles of his beautiful country and it's neighbours. It's so interesting to learn about Jewish history, about the places in the world where there are original populations of Jewish peoples.

So it's turned out that far  from being isolated and away from the world in New Zealand, this small  welcoming country just east of Australia, the diversity in this city means debate and conversation is not far away. I just need to call a taxi.

Sunrise at the edge of Rub Al Khali






Sunday, 18 May 2014

Melbourne

I love Melbourne, could totally enjoy living here. The cafés are lovely, excellent coffee and food. The restaurants are too. Most important are the ones I love who live in Melbourne. Number 2 son, his lovely wife and their soon to be born daughter. My soon to be born granddaughter. I love being a grandma, that surprised me at first. I'm not quite old enough for that title, not exactly an LOL (little ol' lady). I don't exactly live the lifestyle of a traditional grandma.

So what is a traditional grandma? Many different types of people it seems. A small grey bun is not necessary. The new addition has two younger grandmas, one becoming so for the first time. A very, very excited new grandma to join the grandma fraternity. When grandmas gather the pics come out, iPhones and iPads and all sorts of portable devices. We speak our own speak, admiring each other's off springs offspring. A bit exclusive really.

We went out exploring the suburbs today, looking for a new home for the new family. Enjoying a lunch out in a trendy cafe. The best coffee I've had in a while with a yummy pide. A taste of Turkey that made me sigh with delight as I closed my eyes and went back in time. It's 10 years since I was last in Turkey, a revisit might just be on my list for next year.

This year it's baby central and wedding time, the family time I so value. So I will be back in Melbourne soon to meet the new one. To spend time bonding with number 4. That's my call, it's time to board. TTFN, Melbourne, I will be back.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Hibernation

One of the downfalls of returning to a land of seasons is that one of those seasons is chilly and, recently, sunless. That does not really suit me, the change of seasons has been gorgeous with autumn colours and nights beginning early. Cosy inside through dreary days. Last evening and this morning it's just plain cold, no redeeming sun streaming through the foggy windows.

My solar batteries need recharging already and it's only May. Early May. The up side is I'm getting plenty of excercise, plenty of rugged up outside time wandering with friends. Exploring this lovely city. And then there's the days out on the harbour enjoying the lively breezes Wellington is so famous for.

It seems like ages since I wrote, blame my need to hibernate sometimes. Cold times. This past month has been busy with a trip to Brisbane to meet Aria, a trip to Christchurch to play pirates and one to Auckland for work. A nice day out in the big city visiting children's hospitals and putting faces to the names of those I write to.

A highlight of Auckland was catching up with Sandy. Sandy my traveling companion in Italy. Of course being the small world it is, one of those I was meeting was a friend of hers. I'm off to Melbourne next weekend for a family catch up and hope to see Sue and others as well. It might be a busy one.

Today Kate and Mike are in town so this evening promises to be a social one, like last evening was with a pub dinner, excellent company and the Chiefs winning. And here I sit after a lay in, enjoying summer tomatoes on yummy toast with a pot of tea. It's time I made a move really, procrastinating and enjoying the view of the harbour and city out my window, the leafless trees opening up the vista. The hill I climb each day made worthwhile. 

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Fine Friday

Thank goodness for a fine Friday, Good Friday so therefore a home Friday. It's rained pretty much constantly since I've been back from Brisbane and it had rained all the week before too. My bed was damp when I arrived home, I've been sick all week and the clothes dryer that came as part of this house is broken. The landlady is doing her best to replace this essential item.

So a fine Friday with the right amount of breeze was just what the doctor ordered. A dose of vitamin D as I lay on the couch basking while my loads and loads of washing dried on the line and in the sun room. It was a home day. A day when the value of Internet shopping was reinforced. That's continued today. All I needed were some photos and an electric blanket, Snapfish and Briscoes were good enough to make it simple for me.

It was a day I refused a sail, I thought my coughing might be annoying and the wind looked a little fierce out on the water for someone not quite well. I can see the harbour from my living room, now the trees in front have lost their leaves. I had glimpses, now it's more panoramic. An autumn bonus.

Sorting through my photos and choosing some to print and share was interesting. It took a while and I didn't really get past my November time in Australia. The travel ones will take a bit more sorting, they are out of order and not fully uploaded after my big computer crash. So it's trolling through the memory cards to see what I've missed.

I will see how Snapfish are with my first order and may use them to print some photos for my wall, boards that will hang easily. It seems I've lost all of my photos from Aperture, I looked on my hard drives and couldn't find the ones I'd backed up. That could be because the programme is no longer operating on my computer so I'm not stressing too much yet. Luckily I have published a few of the best in various places.

I also test drove at a car to buy. I do need one as rentals are not so easy to come by, a weekend car for weekend adventures.  So my sunny Friday was a productive one, even got a touch of colour from being outside for a bit sweeping away the autumn leaves.

Feeling reflective, Venice 2013

Monday, 14 April 2014

Patience

Or patient today. I'm not very good at being sick, I don't have the patience not to rush getting better. Maybe it comes from my childhood where sick wasn't really much of an option, missing out didn't come easily to me. Maybe it comes from my hardy Scottish stock or that I keep myself well rather than deal with being sick.

The two, almost three, year old's bug has come to haunt me. All that being coughed on and sneezed on and snotted over had to take it's toll. Then the baby got it as well, tough for a small one. I've managed to miss all the bugs at work so far, so am kind enough not to take this Australian strain with me this morning. The forbidding day seemed to be one to miss, steel gray skies with drizzle at times.

So now I'm a little bored. Not that there's not plenty to do, photos to sort, Easter weekend to organise, a house to get at least a little tidier. Lots of blog posts to write about my trip here. There's a photo below of one of my favourite stops. Bored and really only up to laying on the couch after short bursts of energy. Difficult to concentrate for too long on my book or any other task and I'm not exactly feeling the warmth as I need to.

I need to stop grumbling and get over myself, go and buy one of those lovely fleecy electric blankets for my bed and a heater for my bedroom. It's actually not that cold yet, just damp and after being away for a week of rain, my house needs some sun.

Easter weekend, I have plans forming. Plans that need a car. It seems there are none left to hire here so it's plan B. I'm thinking I need to buy a car soon, for winter. As Keri's son said to me on Saturday, how do you get out of Wellington? He looked a bit horrified that I only used public transport. He's right, to get out of Wellington and go exploring I do need a car. Just a weekend car.

Keri came to visit on the weekend, ferried over from Nelson via Picton. It was so lovely to see her, even if I was a bit too sick to be best company. Ruby stayed the weekend too and we managed to miss each other completely with my early hours arrival and the purpose of her trip. It doesn't seem that long ago since she was small like Aria.

So Easter. If I can get a car then I'm heading on a cruise around Martinborough and surounds, calling in to see Auntie Karen in Masterton. If not, then it's the train to Masterton. There's a sail on offer, the weather does need to improve for that, and time catching up on Diana's cruise. I'm looking forward to a long weekend at home.

My next few promise to be interesting. A trip to Auckland for work followed by, just maybe, a road trip back to Wellington; off to Melbourne for Nick and Liberty's baby shower; down to Christchurch again. And that's just April and May. So plenty to look forward to really. Time for a lie down again, this thinking stuff is taxing, sigh. Hope I'm okay to go to work tomorrow.

Evening rest - Cascais Portugal

Friday, 11 April 2014

From pirates to princesses

From a four year old to a two, almost three year old and her baby sister. Quite exhausting really and more than quite amazing. Special little folks who are fun to spend time with, even when they are grouchy like the little princess has been this week. Sore ears and a cold don't help.

My time here in the warmth of Brisbane is soon done. I've enjoyed being here, sleeping in the new garage room and getting plenty of baby time.


Saturday, 5 April 2014

The joys of it

You win some and you lose some. My cunning plan for today didn't work, despite great sacrifice on my part. Not being particularly stellar in the mornings, I had the taxi ordered, my clothes laid out, my bags packed and at the door before I went to bed. Rising at 3.30am is actually pre morning so worse still. Why oh why did I book that 6am flight?

The idea was excellent. A whole Saturday with Kieran, Sasi, Eve and Aria. My first cuddle of Aria, our bonding time. Duly checked in according to plan, when it was announced. The 6am flight was now leaving at 9am. I was not best pleased. I did share this with the Virgin Australia staff, along with others. It seems someone called in sick, possibly the bloke meant to be flying the plane, so they had to bring staff down from Auckland to crew the flight.

Buggar and double buggar. Not enough time to get home and back so through I went to the comfy couches and had a wee lie down. Not ideal but I did have free wifi and an excellent book. The Lumanaries by Eleanor Catton has had rave reviews so it was my to read on holiday purchase. And read I have. It really is that good, enthralling, complex and very well written. 

It's also set in Hokitika, a place I know so well. The street names so familiar I can picture them as I read. I still remember Revell Street, higglety piggilty with the old shops poking out onto the narrow road.  I got lost there as a small child, lost sight of family and was a little afraid. So enjoying reading about the old days, what it might have been like for the miners and the merchants and the hardy women who made up the community.

So here I sit in Brisbane in the sun, warm to the bones in a delicious way I've not been warm for a while, waiting for everyone to get home. A temporary peace and quiet. 

Monday, 31 March 2014

Power Plant

Power Plant was a bit of a treat, a wander through the evening gardens with light and sound around each corner. Surprises, natural and man made. The glowworms competing with bursts of light, the puffs of fire and deep soul sounds from the dark. Wandering with many others in our own time.

Colour, light and sound at the Botanic Gardens

Zoo time

My favourite four year old came up to see me this weekend. He brought his mum and dad, so lovely to show them my place in this place and spend some time with them all. Just hanging out. At the zoo, riding the buses, wandering the city streets, checking out the beach, eating and drinking. 

The Wellington Zoo is a great place to spend a few hours wandering. There's plenty to see, plenty to keep a small boy occupied. Watching the chimpanzees playing for keeps with a blanket; the giraffes majestically checking out the folks enjoying them; the kangaroos hopping close by; the very large cheetah sunning himself on the rocks; the red pandas hiding in the trees; and the one legged kiwi hanging out in the dark. Tons of fun. 

Just nibbling

Looking at you looking at me


Friday, 21 March 2014

Number 3

Aria has arrived, welcome to our whanau. I can't wait to meet you in person, April is not too far away. It will be so lovely to get some Eve time too. A beautiful name for a gorgeous girl. 

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Busy, busy

It's been a while since I've last written, time flying by in this new life of mine. Hard to believe that it's been a bit over seven months since I left Cayman. Oh what a lot I've done in that time. This weekend there's some much needed down time, a polite decline of social engagements, couch time with a good book and gentle music, some time to reflect and regroup.

I need that once in a while. Especially after all I've been doing lately. Some fantastic social activities with friends to stay, trips up the coast and walks along wild beaches, dinners out, drinks with good friends, night wanders through the botanic gardens, shopping adventures (has to be done with winter approaching) and my recent trip to spend time with my favourite 4 year old. Such treats and ones that will keep me enjoying my new life here. 

I realise I've not caught up on writing about my travels. I've found a website where I can self publish books so am exploring that as an option, a couple of books for my coffee table plus online versions. I will write here too when I have some head space. Maybe during those long winter evenings that are soon to come. My first real winter in quite a few years. 

There's a storm on the way today, Cyclone Lusi, but for now it's an okay day here in Wellywood. Okay enough to hang out the load of washing that's just finished, oh the domestic bliss of having a home day and an outside clothesline. 

The Kapiti Coast 

It's just what we do on a Paraparaumu Saturday

Waterfront coffee with Sue and Alex

A moment when it wasn't windy




Thursday, 27 February 2014

On a plane again

I've just had a bit of a treat, a trip to Rotorua for work. A work trip might not sound like something one might enjoy. This trip was amazing, I had the privilege of attending a hui (meeting) on a marae (meeting place) with my colleagues, some of whom I had only previously talked to on the phone. Many of whom I'd not had contact with as yet.

Being home in Aotearoa I've had a few special treats. Staying on the marae for two days, sleeping in the wharenui (meeting house) with my new friends, enjoying the kai (food) served in huge quantities while exploring the area and hearing the stories is way up there as special. Treats like steam pudding and custard, fish and vege, short bread and apple crumble, all home made in the whare kai (kitchen and place to eat) enjoyed with wonderful company, debate and discussion. 

The warmth of welcome as we visited te kohanga reo (Maaori language nests) and joined the tamariki (children) enjoying their day. Singing action songs and joining in the fun. Priceless. I was a bit surprised how much I understood of this partner language to English. I've been away a while and it didn't take me long to hook into the context and make sense of much of what I heard. 

Many conversations were had, work and personal, hilarious as we wound down in the evening. Lots of music. That sense of belonging to this place and pride for how far we have come. Humbled by the people who cared for us so well. I really wish I'd taken my camera, taking pictures in the wharenui is not allowed and I didn't think I'd be able to get out and about as much as I managed so the extra weight didn't seem worth it. Bad mistake, it's just not the same on my phone. Below are some attempts. 

The mist off the water is steam, it's boiling hot as is the road alongside. The people of the village use the thermal activity for their energy needs, cooking in the pools and steam vents. No need for pots, and soaking in their very own thermal pools. Sulphur smells waft over the lake, the air warm from the ground up. Steam vents pop up through the tiles in a nearby whare courtyard, a road cone channeling it up and away in one place serving as a warning not to drive in this place. An awesome display of the power of ranginui (mother earth). 

Morning light over the steaming water

The wharenui

Evening stream

Monday, 24 February 2014

Zealandia

I had the privilege of wandering around Zealandia this weekend with a friend who knows the place very well and was patient as I stopped often to take photographs. While my father would have cringed at me becoming a greenie as I have, that's the slang for a conservationist here in New Zealand, he would very much have approved of the work done to restore the forest and bird life up in this special valley so near his home city.

Zealandia, formally the Karori Sanctuary is an amazing place and the reason there's so much bird life in the area around my place. Volunteers, sponsors, Wellington City Council and the NZ Government all work together "to create a self-sustaining ecosystem representative of the pre-human state that existed in New Zealand approximately 1000 years ago" for us to enjoy. They have surrounded the sanctuary with a pest proof fence, protecting the precious native wildlife and vegetation.

It was wonderful on this blustery Wellington Saturday to see the car park full and families out and about enjoying getting up close and personal with the kaka while checking out the small lizards, tuatara and weta. Watching at the bird feeding stations, rewarded us with sightings of bell birds, tui, hihi and those gorgeous small native robins. Listen to the birdsong as they chattered and flew was magical.

A couple of comments from the website summed it up for me:

"This sensational attraction will bring out the untapped Attenborough in everyone who visits." Time out

"An ark within an ark, Karori is one of New Zealand's vital havens for species on the brink."
National Geographic

We spent hours wandering and searching for the different species and managed to get really close at times. The photos below show a few of the birds, being able to find my other lens would have helped brings things just  a little closer. I enjoyed watching the kids enjoying the place and I can't wait to take Noah there when he comes to visit. I had some lovely moments with a little boy who took me by the hand to show me the algae on the pond, then spotting and counting the lizards with another.

This is a place for many revisits, a place to take all my visitors. Maybe starting with Sue next weekend. It's been a while since Sue and I have seen each other in person. In Al Ain a few years ago so I'm very much looking forward to catching up with her on the weekend.

Native Robin 

Tui surveying his domain

Sharing at a feeding station

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Curiosity

Diana and I wandered out for the evening to central Wellington, the place where the action is, the bars, the theaters, the people. And last evening, the protests. We watched from the other side of the road for a bit then curiosity got this cat and I dragged poor Diana, protesting, over for a look.

It was the Israeli flags that did it and the signs that said something about Israel being the only democracy in the Arab world. Over their assertions were cries that I better understood. Cries to boycott the Israeli dance troupe that was performing in the theatre. Cries of support for the Palestinian cause. Cries of protest against the abuses of the Zionist state. These were strong and informed voices. And I joined them for a while.

Lots of passers by did. As well as showing their support in many ways. I talked to some of those protesting and it seems I have found an organisation I'm going to subscribe to The New Zealand Palestinian Human Rights Campaign.  I read through their website this morning and there's a lot more to read. Interesting facts, information and news. Book lists for me to explore. And dedicated people who are not going to be silenced. Who are really passionate about supporting our fellow human beings to regain the rights that have been forcibly taken from them. Apartheid in action, with support from some strong western powers.

I did get a little angry at two of the protesters on the other side. Having been there, having seen the wall and the way Palestinians are treated, I felt like I could challenge them with at least some knowledge of the place. I suspect they were surprised at that. They were fixed in their views, defending their rights to be free to assert their opinions. That did make me smile sadly, demanding rights that have been taken from others by the regimen they were seeking to defend.

I did wonder that if the New Zealand government decided to institute two years of compulsory military service for all our young people; where they got to go and sack a community of people who owned the land and drive them off it, with the rights to terrorise and arrest children, would they would be the first to protest. That is the reality for the young of Israel, and there are many who protest about this too, and the reality for the people they have a government mandate to subjugate.

That's my Sunday morning rant, there will be more to follow about the weekend's adventures as well as the photos I took of the most amazing bird life out wandering in Zealandia. I have much to do today, including gift shopping for my favourite 3 soon to be 4 year old. I'm heading down for a visit in a couple of weeks, I can't wait to play pirates again. 

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Avoidance tactics

There are some things that are best left to the experts. Plumbing, electrical work, fixing cars, hammering in nails, cleaning. Especially cleaning. I love a clean house, I love walking in to a clean house. Enjoying how it smells, running my hand carefully over the sparkling surfaces, marvelling how the floor feels under my bare feet, enjoying the shine on my porcelain products. Generally sighing with that happiness that comes once a fortnight.

So how come I'm not able to make this happen in the same way? I'm very willing to give all sorts of things a good go, cleaning is one I've never managed so well. Ever. Despite my love of a clean house. It's not hereditary, other members of my family manage it just fine and with a sense of pride. Today's efforts left my bathroom rather sparkling and smelling nice. Then I ran out of steam, not much stickability on my part. Coffee and writing a blog entry seemed to be much, much more important.

Perhaps it's the day I have in front of me that makes me hesitate to commit more time. I'm off for a sail soon. The day outside is truly lovely, a nice amount of wind, nice and sunny. Then there's the promise of dinner after with some new friends. Anyone who knows me knows that food is important to me. I'm grumpy enough when hungry to need a warning label and really appreciate well cooked cuisine. Something more than I can cook.

Last evening, after some lovely Friday after work drinks, I bussed over to Sue and Neil's house to check out all was looking good for a weekend of viewings. It's on the market, this house that I've enjoyed so many times. It was strange being there without Sue, an odd feeling of trespass. I wiped those things that needed wiping then enjoyed the setting sun for a moment.

A moment too long it seems as the bus went hurtling past me while I was just too far from the stop. The bus that comes each hour. I puddled for a while, feeling a bit hungry. That took up 5 minutes. Then a bit later, well before the next bus, a lady and her dog wandered by. I made a comment about it being a nice evening for a long wait for the bus and she offered me a ride to a more useful stop.

Such kindness from a stranger. She was lovely, originally from Christchurch so we had a lot to talk about on the small journey. A small journey that meant I was home before 9pm rather than well after. Here are two of the photos I got with my phone while I was waiting.

Look at the time, guess there'll be no more cleaning today. Off out to enjoy the sun, sea, sailing and good company. All is well in my world today.

A nice place to wait for the bus

Sunset over the capital