Thursday, 30 January 2014

A good day

I have a bike! A bike that has brakes that work, very important; tyres that stay up, also very important; cables to change the gears that are actually changing the gears when I want them to, quite important; a chain that drives the whole thing without jumping off or making odd noises, also quite important. The thing my bike needs now is someone fit enough to ride in the Wellington hills. Like the one up to my house that I walked up today. In my defense, it's been a while and it was flat the last place I rode.

This weekend I'm looking forward to having a bit of a roll around and hopefully mastering that hill outside my window. I'm really enjoying living in Wellington. There's so much to do, even without a car. A quick wander takes me down to the waterfront, the fruit and vege market, Te Papa, cafes and restaurants and some interesting stalls in the underground market. Like the one I bought my interesting lamps at and the nice folks who sell marino baby clothes.

Best of all is the boats in the harbour, sail boats going out for a jaunt, canoes out for a paddle, working boats, cruise liners and ferries. Always something to see. The boat sheds that belong to the moorings outside the Port Nicholson Yacht Club are gorgeous. Well photographed although not by me as yet. If the weather is good on Saturday I'm heading out for a sail, my first since I've been here, my first for ages. I'm just a little excited to be crewing again and can't wait to get get back out on the water.

I had another one of those small world moments today, connected with sailing. The clothes shop on the ground floor of our building is a treat. Gorgeous clothes, two items of which are now in my wardrobe. The lady was really helpful, we got chatting. Somewhere along the way Cayman got mentioned, her daughter used to live there it seems. Do I know her and her husband? Why yes indeed! Nick sailed at a level that I can only dream about, an amazingly talented sailor who I was lucky enough to get some lessons from. We did also share the odd bag of chips with our beers after racing. I had even met her granddaughter. A small world indeed.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Blogging session

I enjoy musing in this space, sharing my thoughts and stories and my photographs. It's not particularly clever or at all spectacular. It's just a forum, I don't much care if others read me, except of course for those significant in my life. My family and my friends.

At the last Wellywalk, Diana, Rachel and I go chatting and I told them I blogged. I had asked if I could add one of the pics I took of them. Rachel has to create a blog for work, Diana it might be a fun way to share an upcoming trip with her friends and family so we organised a blogging session. Another friend and her daughter decided to join us, both were thinking of a foray into the world of blogging. My first piece of entertaining at my new, still tableless house. 

What fun, relearning myself how I set up this blog, with a little help form my friends. The beginnings were accomplished, all heading off to have a play and see what they can do. Exploring other blogs for ideas is a good place to start, exploring the designs and settings. Adding bits and pieces, links and friends. It's really a one on one thing, we did manage to get first posts written although there is quite a bit of refining to do. The topic if the next session.

This weekend is a quiet one, a much needed bit of chill out time with some walking thrown in. A catch up after a few weeks of outings. Feeling the need for some couch time, book time with some easy music playing. I managed to catch up with my Brisbane lot during the week, that stunning grandbaby there chatting like it was just yesterday that we had seen each other. My next trip is booked, in time to meet the new addition. I can't wait. 

Getting my bike ready to roll is top of the list, again. I had planned to hire a car for the weekend to do that big grocery shop, visit the mall for mall stuff and Briscoes for those things I need. It seemed a little expensive so I've decided to do the bus and taxi thing. An ironing board and some bigger pots for my herbs may mean a taxi ride, most other things seem okay to wander and bus. Buying a car is on the list although I'm not sure when I'll do that as the public transport is really good here, maybe when winter hits. 

Out exploring

Thursday, 23 January 2014


It's been an ouchy day today, a day of sighs and slow movements. Who knew there were that many muscles in this quite small body. Walking didn't break me, even in the very strong winds that whipped up dust devils. Not even walking up steep hills in heels carrying groceries. Not even a personal trainer putting me through my paces or my own trip to the gym trying to find the machines we used and not quite doing it well.

It was advertised as 'power yoga - hot'. And dashed hot it was. Cayman type hot, middle of the day in full sun, with no wind at all, mid summer after pushing the boat hot. Almost Al Ain hot although a bit more humid. The power yoga, well that just meant it would work every single muscle until you cried. I actually enjoyed this special form of torture, managed most of the poses and held most of them for a while, while I dripped with sweat. My mascara ran a bit.

The good thing was it warmed me up, right to my bones. I miss that sort of heat, there's not much of that here in the windy city. It's been a bit chilly lately, making me wonder how I'll cope with winter and those freezing southerlies. A bit like the one that greeted me as I came out from the heat last evening. I struggled home in a head wind, rain not respecting my light coat.

The warm in my bones kept me going for a while, the sore set in as my feet hit the floor this morning. I really didn't know that many muscles could hurt at once. I know it's been about 6 months since my last bend and stretch session but surely I haven't become that inflexible. A revisit is on the cards, a $10 try all the different yoga and pilates classes for a week deal my next purchase. So long as I can move by then.

Last weekend I had lots of exercise, a leisurely walk on the island and a long, windy wander to the Pencarrow Heads. It was meant to be a ride, my bike was in no fit state due to the very flat and now broken back tyre, so walk it was. Scott, the gorgeous chocolate lab who came along was not impressed by the sharp rocks and how far he had to walk, especially back onto a gale force northerly. It was gorgeous, rocky and wild and certainly in need of the lighthouse.

Pencarrow Heads, Wellington

Monday, 20 January 2014

Matiu/Somes Island

And other weekend adventures. Well one way of not feeling the first big earthquake since I arrived is to be out on the water. Not so good if there's a tsunami I suspect. So the earth, very thankfully, didn't move for me and all was still standing at my place after a 6.3 earthquake based just north of where I am. There was some damage done it seems, very scary given the comment someone on the ferry made: We missed out this time, she commented to the child with her, but there will be more!

I'm not a big fan of earthquakes. I had this discussion with a friend as I was on my way south, he had never been in an earthquake and didn't know why it was such a big deal. The big deal is the sheer unpredictability. No one really knows when and where they are going to strike, although New Zealand is not called the shaky isles for nothing. We are a land form pushed up on a fault line with volcanoes, both active and extinct, and an impressively jagged mountain range right down the middle of the South Island.

Or Te Wai Pounamu. Aotearoa, the land with the long white cloud hiding the snowy mountains. Such a treat to fly over when one has been away for a while. I visited Matiu Island, renamed Somes Island by the NZ Company, with the Wellywalkers group. Meeting up with Diana and Rachel from the zoo walk. On the way over we had quite a chat about names and belonging and self determination, the use of the original names for places not just the names given by those who came later.

Matiu Island has an amazing history captured here on Stuff by Nicola Toki, here is a small portion of her article.

"The human history of Matiu Somes goes back about a thousand years, when Kupe arrived in the Wellington Harbour and named the island for his daughter Matiu. 
Before European settlement there were two Maori pa sited on the island - but ultimately the island inhabitation was one of a refuge, since there was little fresh water on the island. However, in wartime, the island made a robust defence spot, with 360-degree views and being surrounded by water. 
In 1997 the New Zealand Geographic Board gave the island the official bilingual name of Matiu/Somes in recognition of its dual Maori and European history. In 2009 the Treaty settlement with Taranaki Whanui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika transferred ownership of all three Wellington Harbour islands to the iwi.
In 1839, the New Zealand Company took over Matiu and renamed it Somes after Joseph Somes, its deputy governor and financier. In 1866 the first lighthouse and first harbour light for Wellington Harbour was erected on the island.
The European story of Matiu Somes is a colourful and interesting one too.  After the island was "purchased", it had an early career as a human quarantine station. Many poor souls who'd endured the arduous trip to New Zealand by ship had to stop off on Somes to go through quarantine, which started with being put in a "smoke house", where things like sulphur were burnt in a brick room to smoke out any illness.
Matiu Somes became an animal quarantine station in 1893, and this activity continued for a century. Any new or potentially risky animals were quarantined there (or when there was too much livestock on the island, extra animals were quarantined on a boat anchored off the island). Our animal quarantine expertise became state of the art and helped to put us at the top of the biosecurity ranks."

I've reviewed my photos of the day and they are really disappointing. Some because my lens cover was badly marked from the windy outing the day before and many because I didn't have my settings quite right. Seagulls are quite hard to capture, I wanted a Johnathon Livingstone Seagull moment and didn't quite make it. This is a series of photos as we negotiated cross seagulls protecting their chicks. They were not very impressed and dive bombed the first one moving past. More will follow, for now it's an early night for an early morning start.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

It's almost Wednesday

I joined the gym the other day, a little half heartedly and a little accidentally. I just went for a look, sigh. That's where it all begins. So on Wednesday, tomorrow, I have a meeting with a personal trainer. Maya in Al Ain was awesome, this one seems to be a young man. I'm not so sure if I can handle the humiliation. I'm just a little competitive and I know I'm really unfit. Oh well, I can but go.

The main reason I joined is that they have yoga like classes and a proper yoga studio that I can join as well. I miss yoga. The Monday evening excursions with Kim to Bodyworks in Cayman. I also am a little worried what winter may bring so need an inside exercise place. It's been another gorgeous day today, a lovely stroll to and from work. I have another appointment tomorrow, meeting a group of people to go to the movies with.

My dance card seems to be filling up. I'm also about to sign up for a racing sailing course, a big refresher and I know that I'll learn heaps about these very different conditions. It ties up four Saturdays, I'm sure I'll cope without a sleep in for a month. I dragged out my book on performance sailing that Jo bought for me on one of her UK trips.

All this activity, having to get from one place to another quickly and with gear makes me think I might need a car sooner rather than later. I've won the bet with certain family members and lasted almost 2 months without one. Just imagine what I could manage on the weekend with a car.

One place I didn't need a car was when exploring the river villages of Brunei. There were proboscis monkeys playing in the trees, difficult to shoot from a moving boat. The trip upriver was fantastic.

Holy jumping monkeys!

Feeling reflective

Sunday, 12 January 2014

A nice weekend

A few jobs ticked off the list, new friends met and enjoyed. And the sun was shining. I joined my first Wellywalkers walk on Saturday, meeting some nice folks at the zoo and wandering over to Haughton Bay. A place I've never been and will revisit again, this time for a paddle in the sea. Not a swim, I'm not that hardy as it's right on the chilly waters of Cook Straight. Others were swimming, sunbathing mostly, enjoying this warm day.

The walk took us past the back of the zoo and we got to see the baboons at play as well as hear those animal noises one associates with zoos. I made some nice friends, one I was supposed to meet for the free outdoor concert across the road on Saturday night. There were so many people. After an unfruitful search, I ended up finding a small space and enjoying the crowd and the music. The atmosphere was wonderful, very friendly folks in small and large groups.

I'm off to the movies on Wednesday night to see The Book Thief with another group. A little worrying after the poor reviews. The Book Thief is one of my favorite books. It lives on my bookshelf and is always up for a re read. After reading some reviews, I may need to park that story and just enjoy the movie as a movie. We shall see.

My bike is now in one piece, sitting on partly inflated tyres waiting for the fluid to fill the cable so the back brakes work. I can't wait to have a roll around, just having it out of the bag and looking whole is fantastic. The friend who helped with the assembly took me down to the local yacht club and I signed up to crew. Seems that the Friday evening rum run is the one to go to, friendly cruiser racing then a social time after.

I do need to get some warm gear and replace my sailing shoes before I head down for a sail. Yesterday there were boats out, today it was way too windy. I had to zip up my hand bag because it was filling up with wind and almost pulling me over. Thought I was going to lose the lot. Yes, it really was that strong!

Here's some pics from the walk.

The ferry on it's way to Picton

Three wise Wellywalkers

Wandering on the easy path - the hills were a little more challenging

Monday, 6 January 2014

Bits and pieces

I'm afraid I've had a bit of a writing and sharing drought. I was a little excited this evening to come on to write and find a comment. Then I checked it. Spam, that makes me a little cross although I have been lucky in that I've not had much so far. May mean I'm a bit boring to spam.

Comments, on the other hand, I really appreciate. I don't get that many despite a healthy readership if my stats don't embellish the truth. Maybe accidental readers rather than those who wait with baited breath for the next installment.

I notice I haven't written since mid December. Such a lot has happened since I arrived back and there's plenty to write about. Time is the issue. Not not having enough time, more making more of my time. I've really been enjoying my new house, it's a morning house. A house with the sun streaming in from the east and then the north. It even gets late afternoon sun out the back.

Being a bit of a sun bunny, that's important for me. The heat and the light. The openness of the space and view. Not a bad one from any direction. It's also filling up. My boxes have arrived and are unpacked, well mostly. I've got things to put in places that I don't have places for as yet. I will soon.

I bought a dining suite from Recollections in Thorndon Quay and revisited there yesterday and today to add some much needed furniture. I'm really enjoying the service in Wellington. I'm amazed at how friendly and accommodating the sales staff are in the stores I've visited. The Recollections staff added my extra two purchases to the original one and I'm having them delivered at the same time for a much reduced freight fee.

The bookcase will house some of my newly unpacked treasures and my growing collection of books. That's a collection that doesn't take long to grow. After seeing the movie Philomena Annie loaned me the book. What a treat Philomena was, a movie to reflect on long after watching it. An emotional movie. One that will resonate with those raised in the 50's, 60's and 70's, and particularly those who experienced a Catholic upbringing.

I'm not including the trailer here and I recommend you don't watch it before seeing the movie. The movie is much better than the trailer shows, more subtle, more human, more touching. Dame Judy is stellar as always with Alan Partridge being the perfect foil. Skillful acting.

So my house is coming along, it certainly feels like home and it's lovely to have my stuff here too as well as the new stuff. I had to rearrange my kitchen so it all fits, those lovely Turkish plates, bowls and coffee cups; the wine glasses with memories; the gifts from friends and family. My tea pot, my etched glass coffee mugs and glasses. I smile when I see them safely on the shelves.

My new years resolution involved living life to the full. Engaging in all I do and doing it well. Not that that's much of a resolution for me, more how I've always lived my life. One place I need to engage is here. To catch up on writing, sharing those wonderful experiences I had on the way to New Zealand. The photos and the people. The adventures, the slight mishaps. Like trying to bribe a border guard, accidentally of course and losing a car parking ticket in a place where I didn't speak the language.

The stories and pics will follow, right after I've caught up on emails. I have a few of those to write as well. And photos to upload to Dropbox so I can share them with friends. Here's one I can share now. I loved Lake Bled and it's a place I want to revisit. Next time it will be a longer visit, hopefully with my bike so I can more fully explore the trails around the lake. Just beautiful.