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Archive for April, 2012

Another amazingly sunny day dawned on Saturday.  We headed off about lunchtime to drive south to Wellington to spend one last weekend with C.  Stopped in town to pick up H’s boyfriend, L.

We wandered through town along to Cuba Mall.  L showed us a place where they sold roti chanai in a place called Left bank where I’d never been before.  The roti was nice, if a little thick and sweet (or was it the soupy chicken that was sweet?).

After eating we went for a wander along the waterfront.  Wellington looks amazing on a nice day (and is the pits when the weather is cold, wet and windy).

In the evening we walked to a Korean restaurant for dinner.

The next day we headed up the valley to Stokes Valley to a buddhist monastery, Bodhinyanarama, at the suggestion of C’s boyfriend, W.  It was another glorious day.  The ‘monastery’ was at the end of a long road heading up into the hills.  There was no-one around and W led us up the gravel path to some steps.  We followed the path until we came to the bright, white stuka (photo here), with a wonderful view (which the photo below doesn’t do justice to).

We spotted a path leading up and followed it.  It kept going and it was hard work for unfit me.  The guys were striding along with their long legs and the girls were keeping up but I wanted to go more slowly to appreciate the bush around me and the peace and quiet.  Eventually it leveled out and started going down.  The path followed a trickling stream back to the gravelly area.  We then headed into the ‘monastery’ itself.  A large bell was ahead of us and a swept gravelly area, with a statue and votive offerings.  We went up some steps to a building and came to an empty concrete space surrounded by a deck.  After taking off some shoes, following W (who had made a prayer at the stuka), we entered a prayer room with statues on one side and windows looking out onto the bush.  It was completely and utterly silent, but it was a very peaceful silence.  The atmosphere was amazing.  I could have sat and meditated right there and then.  The deck surrounding the building was spotlessly clean – everything was.  There were some free books just outside the room and I looked at some and took an introductory volume on meditation, vowing to get back into it.  I put a donation in the box, wrote a note on the visitor’s book and followed the others out.  At the back of a building was another path leading off into the bush.  It was just so serene.

We headed back to central Wellington.  We had been invited to dinner by the girls’ cousin.  I was quite annoyed because the initial invitation was for Saturday lunch, which turned into Sunday lunch but then was postponed to dinner.  I was annoyed because it would mean that I couldn’t leave to drive back home until late at night.  However, having just visited a place of peace, I let it go.

There were quite a few people at the cousin’s place.  They were cooking a barbecue.  We had had a late lunch so I wasn’t particularly hungry.  However, caught up with them all after over a year of not having seen them.  It was getting late so we had to leave.  I gave C a hug – it would be months before I’d see her again and it would mean travelling to Melbourne (I’ll have to save leave and money).  I didn’t get emotional, thankfully.  We’d stay in touch online anyway.

We got away at 9.15 which meant it was 11.15pm by the time we got home, and midnight before I fell asleep.

I was very tired today but went for another wander at lunch time.  I was rewarded with a fantail landing just near my feet (about a foot away) as if to say hello and cheer me, then it flew up to a nearby branch and sang.

It was delightful.  (I had the camera setting on a high ISO so the resulting photo is rather grainy.)

Loving this warm, sunny weather this month.  It’s been really wonderful after such a crappy summer.

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Last weekend was a weekend at home. H had a birthday party on Friday night and about nine of her friends turned up for a barbecue. Thankfully, this time they brought proper food, not just snacks. C came up from Wellington. We had been given a brazier some time ago (and never used it) and so I hauled it out of the garage and we fired it up and the friends sat round outside talking and drinking. Some pleasant dub music was playing and I just wandered around or sat, eating or contributing to the occasional conversation. I’d met most of them before and they don’t mind my company at all (which Is a relief as the only room I could retreat to would be my bedroom).

The next day was hot and sunny and I felt ill. Yes, I had been drinking the night before but I didn’t think I had drunk that much. I was still sober enough to put chairs away and tidy up after most had left at a reasonably early 11.30 or so. I felt ill for much of the day and then C left after a dinner of Chinese ‘steam pot’ which she made. In the week between visiting my brother and coming up for the party, she had heard that she got the job she had applied for in Melbourne. I felt happy for her but sad that it won’t be so easy to see her – we can’t just nip down to Wellington in a weekend.

This weekend, therefore, we’re heading down to Wellington to ‘see her off’. She’s actually leaving the following weekend and will spend a week with boyfriend in Melbourne while she searches for accommodation. Boyfriend has a few matters to settle before he can join her in a few weeks or months.

So that’s the update. In the meantime, I’m starting to struggle to find things to take photos of for my 365 day photo challenge blog. As I only go to work and back and it’s getting darker, I really only have half an hour at lunch to wander around looking. Some days I just can’t see anything worth photographing that I haven’t already taken or considered and rejected. I will have to be more imaginative, somehow. Yesterday, to my surprise, I took 3 photos when I didn’t think I’d find anything. I take several photos each day but when it comes to reviewing them on the computer the majority of them are pretty average. Oh well. It’s not called a challenge for nothing!

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Good weather

Who’d a thought?  The forecast was for crap but it was anything but.

Can’t actually remember how I spent my Easter – it dashed by so quickly.  I’ve painted the bathroom – at least the new bits that the builder had put there and which needed painting.  The other two walls and the ceiling and window sill and frames actually need painting as well, but one thing at a time.  Will get onto the rest eventually, along with painting the spare bedroom, the hallway, the laundry and door frames…..  sigh.

Spent much time reading book 2 of Fire and Ice (see currently reading).  Actually did some genealogical research online (after over a year), sorted some photos given by bro’…. not much else.

Did, of course, go to bro’s on Sunday to see the visiting cousins.  Arrived about 10.45 am and there was no sign of them, but they were at Riversdale helping G out with the stall of preserves, etc.  Had a chat with bro and gazed on the sheep and the idyllic surroundings – it’s always so peaceful there.  Older daughter, C, arrived with boyfriend and then not long after the cousins returned.  I had never met the husband of one of them and the other had recently split up with her husband (who I had met twice) and was now with a new man.  Was good to see them and I noted I was the same height, if not taller – all due to our grandmother who was probably about 5 foot tall if that.

So we had a pleasant lunch outside in the sun and caught up.  In the afternoon we went for a walk.  Some turned back due to inadequate footwear and muddy tracks.  They’ve had a lot of rain over there and it was surprising how wet it still was even on the hills.  I’m not good on hills – I discover how unfit I am.  My head was pounding while others just walked ahead and talked normally.  I was puffing away.  I stopped every now and then with the excuse of taking photos.  At least I had some water with me.


We found some huge mushrooms and took some back with us.  Meanwhile, paradise ducks were flying around and sheep staring at us as we gazed on amazing views.

The walk took over two and a half hours.  We ate the mushrooms as an entree to a wonderful paella over very nice wine and great company.  It was great.  I wish my cousins didn’t live so far away (or that we didn’t).

C left about 10pm and H and I left about an hour later gettting home after 1am and crashing.  Great day and great weather.

Today is H’s birthday.  We celebrated with a curry and sparkling wine.  She’s having a party here on Friday.  I hope I can get some sleep that night.

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Easter

Finally.  The weather looks ok for this part of the country anyway.  Unfortunately for my visiting Aussie cousins who are heading east, it is not looking great.  The girls and I will go and visit them on Sunday while they’re staying at my brother’s place.  So back to his place after only having been there last weekend.

I left my camera at home today so had to rely on my really crappy cellphone to take photos for the blog.  I did so and didn’t think much of them, but transferring them to the computer seems to be too great a hassle.  It seems I had to download a piece of software that was going to take over an hour.   It wasn’t worth it for the very average pics I took.  I’ll have to wait until I get some money on the phone to email them (after deleting the worst).  So instead, I posted a backup photo which I took at work a couple of days ago.  I didn’t think of it as cheating as I could’ve taken exactly the same photo today.

Should finally get around to painting parts of the bathroom over the next few days.  I also need to organise more stuff to get rid of, as well as organise the family archives my brother gave me last weekend.

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It’s the first step towards the gloom.  Soon it’ll be dark when I get up in the morning and when I drive home after work.  What the hell am I going to take photos of then?

Anyway, the weekend:

I drove over to bro’s place on Saturday morning, taking the Saddle Road as the Gorge is still closed.  I was stuck behind a line of cars who were stuck behind a truck doing 10 km per hour or, at times, up to 20 km per hour.  It was painful.  I stopped at the summit to let them get ahead of me.

I left bright, hot sunshine and blue skies and headed into grey cloud.  Great.  It was fairly cool and cloudy at bro’s place but pleasant enough for a walk with the dogs.  Yummy meal in the evening.

I woke up at the usual time, which was now an hour earlier than I needed to.  It was very misty and cold but it burned off after a couple of hours.  We played the obligatory games of Settlers of Catan.   Bro’s friends arrived and after a cuppa we headed across the field to the walnut trees lining the river and picked up a goodly supply each of fresh walnuts.  Then a very pleasant lunch sitting outside at a trestle table trying out some independent brewers’ beers and eating European bread and cheeses.  It was so relaxing and enjoyable.  Alas I didn’t even think of taking a photo.

Bro’s friends left about an hour before me after collecting their share of the homekill lamb.  I then loaded my car up with my share and more family archives, jams, chutneys and walnuts.  I wanted to get home before dark and did make it.  Snapped one of the many wind turbines heading up to the summit on the Saddle Road.

Alas I was stuck behind slow traffic yet again going downhill.  A van was crawling along at 40km per hour.  It was so frustrating!  Got home to find H watching TV with a friend and a roast lamb in the oven. 🙂

A short week at work this week before Easter.  The nice weather continued part way through today but now it looks like it’s deteriorating.  It’s warm but very windy.  It was dark shortly after I reached home, dammit.

Got word that my cousins are heading to bro’s place this coming weekend.  I will have to go back there if I want to see them!  It was just as well I didn’t take up the offer of going to Tauranga at Easter (which I was not really inclined to do anyway).

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It was a challenge.  I had no idea what I might be taking a photo of from day to day.  At times it was a struggle to find something.  I lacked inspiration and motivation and just couldn’t ‘see’.  Some days I took several photos and had to choose one (or two).  Other days I felt desperate and only managed one or two and was not happy with the result.  It’s also difficult to see beyond the daily routine when all you seem to do is to drive to work and back.

What I found most frustrating was that I’d see something I wanted to photograph while driving but there was nowhere to stop.  I can see such scenes in my head, such as mist on the hills or the sun highlighting a particularly attractive scene or a cool cloud formation.  It’s my greatest bugbear when travelling.  There are very few places to stop to take photos or just take a rest.  Rest areas are few and far between and where they are placed are uninspiring.  One of them, on the Desert Road in National Park is right beside the magnificent view of the volcanoes, but – BUT, perversely they have placed the rest area in front of a hill which obscures the view.  Absolutely ridiculous.  The other rest area in the region is in a valley with no views at all.  There is only one rest area with a view of the mountain and there are power lines…  Anyway, enough of my mini-rant.

Despite my lack of inspiration, I am taking the brave step of trying this out for a whole year.  I’ve created a separate blog for it so followers don’t have to put up with any interspersed ravings.  It will be a greater challenge as we head into winter (and winters here aren’t pretty) which will be cold, damp and dark and during which I tend to get depressed.

Wish me luck!

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Day thirty-one

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