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


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.


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.

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.

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.


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


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