Posts Tagged ‘road trip’

Well, a month.

I’ve had a couple of trips since the last post – just outings, I guess you’d call them.  One was to Williamstown, which I had initially thought to travel to by ferry, but as it was very windy on the day I decided to go, I went by train, which was quicker (and cheaper).  Unfortunately, the wind was cold, so any plans to eat my fish and chips in the park went by the wayside.

I get ahead of myself.

Exiting the train station I walked in the wrong direction for heading south to the seaside, or to Port Gellibrand coastal heritage park, to be exact.  It was a roundabout route instead, past an interesting hotel with a Titanic theme.


The park was more barren than expected – just a huge grassed area with a timeball at one end.


I walked about two-thirds of the way then sat on the other side of the road overlooking the sea.  I saw birds on rocks and with my camera identified them as cormorants.


The seagulls were fun to watch as well,


and the container ships in the distance.


I wandered back towards the shopping area, spying a Willie Wagtail hassling a raven (must have been a nest nearby).  The raven wasn’t at all bothered.


I wandered out onto the pier.  It was a pretty strong wind.


It was early for lunch, but the cold wind made me want some hot fish and chips at the renowned fish and chippery.  I sat out in the sheltered part behind the shop and protected my food from a persistent seagull (who I was just about to take a photo of when someone shooed it away).


It was a huge serving and very tasty.  I couldn’t finish all the chips.

I headed over the road to the information centre and grabbed a few brochures on walks around Williamstown.  I like visiting local botanic gardens so headed that way.


It was a small botanic garden but pleasant


There were a lot of dragonflies around – I’d never seen so many.

I kept going towards the attractive beach, sat for a while and observed people, then walked to Williamstown beach train station.  There were a lot of secondary school kids on the platform so I headed to the carriage at the front and avoided them.  It had been a pleasant day.

The second, more recent, outing was by car with C and W to Daylesford and Castlemaine.  Earlier in the year I had wanted to go to Castlemaine by train but then winter set in.  C wanted to go to Daylesford on the way.  W drove but wanted a coffee before we got there so we stopped at Macedon, a little village at the foot of Mount Macedon.  It was a sweet little place.


We sat in the warm sun and had our drinks (it was wonderful to finally feel some warmth, such a crap spring it’s been).

Onto Daylesford and parked the car to wander the shops and find somewhere to eat.  A nice place.  I haven’t yet come across a rural town in Victoria that isn’t attractive. Maybe it’s the architecture.



We had lunch at a vegetarian place but had to wait ages for our food.  I wasn’t impressed.  I don’t like wasting time waiting for food.  It impacted on our visit to Castlemaine.  After lunch we visited the botanic gardens on Wombat Hill, and I was delighted to hear the sound of kookaburras.  The sound always makes me grin.  W spotted them in a tree.


That had to be the highlight of the day, really.

My initial plan for the day was to visit wineries near Castlemaine but as C is a drinker of cider, decided to visit the nearby cidery.  This made us late for visiting Castlemaine but it was very pleasant in the sun with our sampler, and we liked the cider so much that C and I bought a couple of bottles each.


By the time we got to Castlemaine, it was about 4.30 – enough time to have a brief visit to the art gallery and museum.  Much of the painting was modern – I’m not a great fan, preferring the more traditional landscapes.


We had a brief walk around but everything was, by now, closed.  Incredibly, for some insane reason, the botanic gardens are closed in the weekends.  How bizarre is that?  Isn’t that the ideal time, when people have to the time to visit, to open them?  Just weird.

Again, some wonderful architecture.





We headed back to Melbourne and I enjoyed the countryside.  Some of it reminded me of NZ, especially on the back roads that we took.


We had dinner in a Malaysian restaurant in Flemington, then C and W dropped me home.  It had been a great day.

I won’t write again until after my Asian trip.


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AL and son, F, arrived on Tuesday night about 7pm.  I had takeaway curries at the ready, not feeling in the mood for cooking anything, or actually having no idea what to cook in readiness.  AL had brought a wine and I finished my bottle of white.  F had a beer.  Talked of this and that, can’t actually remember.  She did mention that they were going to Womad this year and had organised a house nearby.  She suggested I join them.  They would be picking F up from uni, so would be here anyway.  I agreed.  It meant I didn’t have to worry about accommodation or driving there, which is a bonus.  I haven’t been for a few years, so it was a good opportunity.  So on Wednesday I bought a ticket and applied for leave for the Friday and Monday of that weekend.  It was something to look forward to.

Wednesday night, AL bought some Thai takeaways and another wine and brought them back.  She had deposited son at his hostel, had lunch with him and seen him off with a friend of his who was also starting uni this year.  She was a bit teary-eyed, saying goodbye to her youngest – an empty nester like myself, except that she has her husband to keep her company.  She left early the next morning on the train, leaving F’s car at the station.  I gave F a lift after work to collect his car.

During the week a work colleague mentioned that the road to Rangiwahia from Ashhurst was now fully sealed and she had expressed an interest in driving it.  (She’s also interested in driving the “Gentle Annie” and “Forgotten Highway”.)  I thought about it and decided to drive it on Saturday.  It gave me something to do.  I find the weekends a bit tedious if I have nothing interesting to do.

The forecast was for morning showers (and the cloud looked threatening) but on checking the forecast again, it said showers in the afternoon.  It didn’t matter.  I prepared lunch and decided to head off about 11 am, reaching Rangiwahia about lunchtime.  I had found out that there was a wetlands area on the way, so figured I’d stop by there and do some birdwatching.

The road being narrow, there was nowhere to stop and take photos of any views, so I did my blind drive-by shooting – i.e. hold the camera up with one hand, vaguely aim in the direction I want and click, while my eyes are still on the road and with one hand on the steering wheel – takes about three seconds.  It’s very hit-and-miss…

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mostly miss.  However, I don’t do it on windy bits, for obvious reasons.  Some of the views were stunning.

I arrived at the wetlands about an hour later.

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I had originally thought of having lunch there but thought I’d take a look first.  A tranquil place and quite well set out with a couple of ponds and islands.  One one side were water lilies and on the other lots of swans, mostly black but a couple of white.


Unfortunately, on seeing me, they all scattered to the far side of the pond, so I couldn’t get any decent shots of them, even with a long lens.  There were a lot of decoys, so I’m thinking a farmer built this primarily for duck shooting.  I saw a few ducks, but not many, and no other birdlife.  I wandered back to the car and continued to Rangiwahia.  Not much to see there – nothing really to stop and photograph or look at, so I kept going (heading south towards Kimbolton), eventually stopping at a “rest area” next to an “historic place” – the site of a former village called Pemberton.  I ate my lunch there under some large trees.

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A couple more drive-bys on the way to Kimbolton,

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but I also found a couple of places to pull over.

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I reached Kimbolton and stopped briefly.  It was starting to drizzle.




From Kimbolton, it took about half an hour to reach home.  It had been a very pleasant drive.  I’m glad I did it.  Later that evening I’d decided to go to a movie, and decided on seeing “Kingsman, the Secret Service”, mainly because Colin Firth played a cool spy in a suit (better than James Bond, I thought).  Quite good.

Today, I’d planned on going to the Esplanade Open Day, which is just a lot of activities and entertainment in the city park.  I hadn’t been for a few years, so decided to go.  I first went to Briscoes to buy a new kettle.  My current one kept leaking, which was annoying.  By the time I reached the Esplanade it was about 11.40.  There was some sort of circus act on near one stage and some idiot trying to get a kid to do a magic trick near another stage.  Lots of people, lots of kids’ activities and quite a few fairground attractions, which I hadn’t seen before at this event.


There were, as always, the Morris dancers.  Three of the six dancers were Asian, which I found interesting.  I’m guessing Morris dancing is regarded as such a joke that no ‘normal’ European would seriously contemplate doing it.

IMG_7749I wandered back the way I’d come.  The stalls were uninteresting, except for some rather nice bird paintings.  The circus act was still going.  It finally finished and a band was ready to play on the stage.  I waited, and waited but they didn’t seem in a hurry to start, seemingly just tuning their instruments.  I got fed up and left.  I’d been there less than an hour.  Did some grocery shopping on the way back, so not a wasted trip.  It did remind me though, that I should be prepared for such crowds at Womad, but at least I’d see some quality musicians.  Really looking forward to seeing Buena Vista Social Club.

So that was the week that was.  Another tedious week of work coming up.  It makes me feel depressed, but then the music I have playing at the moment doesn’t help.


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We’ve just come back from a 10½-day trip of the South Island:  Picton- Christchurch – Queenstown – Te Anau – Wanaka – Fox Glacier – Westport – Buller Gorge – Nelson – Picton.  It’s the first holiday of over a week I’ve had for a long time.  It was brilliant, and I’ll find it difficult to go back to work.

We headed to Wellington on the 17th February after work, staying overnight with friends.

Day one:  Wellington to Christchurch

Wellington dawned grey and cold, typically.  We got caught in early morning rush hour traffic but got to the ferry on time.

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It was a dull trip, but we played Scrabble for a significant amount of time.  We weren’t impressed with the lack of seating (some seats were broken) or the general state of the ferry.

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Picton loomed, finally, after a three hour trip .

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However, it took another 45 minutes after berthing before we could drive off the boat.  We parked and ate a sandwich from our supplies in the boot.  Then, finally, we could get going!

The weather was dull and cloudy until we got to the Kaikoura coast, where it turned hot and sunny.  H had heard about a crayfish place called Nin’s Bin and wanted to stop there.  We did so, choosing a fresh crayfish to eat there.

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It wasn’t cheap, but it was a treat – where else but Kaikoura?  It was delicious.  While there, we spotted Australian Masterchef winner, Adam Liaw.  They were wanting to buy several crayfish and whitebait but no-one had told the guy selling them.

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We continued on our way, stopping to spot seals along the rocky coastline.



The scenery was stunning – the water a vivid blue and the sea as calm as a millpond.  We both felt very happy.

We didn’t bother to stop at Kaikoura itself, but just continued on to Christchurch – a long drive.

Karen, our Australian GPS voice, helped us find the motel.  I chose all the accommodation based on good feedback for (comparatively) reasonably priced motels, etc.  When we arrived at the tiny motel room with one double bed at Christchurch, I wondered what our $125 was paying for.  However, it was only for one night.

I lived in Christchurch for about six months in the early 80s and had not been back since the late 80s.  The city would have changed even without the earthquakes, but, as we saw on our evening tiki tour around the city, it looked unrecognisable.  Instead of grand old buildings there were empty lots used for carparks – very very sad, and quite depressing.

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We found a supermarket and bought ingredients for our first dinner in the South Island.  It had been a long day.  Day 2 was going to be even longer.

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Update soon

Just back from a conference in Melbourne.  Haven’t yet uploaded photos.  So, will update (with some pics) later on.  Must do this soonish, as I’m off to the South Island for an actual holiday next week.  Before that, I have another “road trip” with the girls, for birds, wine and cheese.  Will then have to upload those photos and empty the memory card ready for the south!  Such a busy period for the next few days.

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I had a lovely four-day weekend.  I headed up to Tauranga on the Friday at a leisurely pace.  I headed out about 10 am and stopped beside Lake Taupo for lunch.  It was beautifully sunny when I left but was rather cloudy near Taihape and through the Desert Road.  There are only four places you can stop on the Desert Road, overlooking the volcanoes of Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro.  Two of those places have no view of the mountains; one has a view of Ruapehu but partially obscured by power lines; and the other is just a space on the side of the road at the top of a hill.  You have to be travelling south and know when it’s coming up to spot it.  I, therefore, had to snap while driving, which is often hit and miss.

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Mt Ruapehu, approaching Waiouru

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Mt Ngauruhoe

Despite the cloud, it didn’t rain and the road was perfectly dry until I got to Tokoroa and it was as if someone had hosed down all the streets.  The roads in and out of Tokoroa were bone dry and the town itself completely wet.  Quite bizarre.  I drove through pine forest country (and behind logging trucks) to Putaruru, where I turned off to drive over the Kaimai ranges.

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I used my new GPS and it was very handy, particularly near Tauranga as I hadn’t been to my friend’s new place before.  The longest stretch when the Australian female didn’t say anything was, after “Continue for 133 kilometers…” 132 km.  Fascinating to hear the mispronunciation of certain place names.  Even Cheltenham, a pretty basic English name, was pronounced “Chel TEN ham”.  “Mataroa” Road (long a) became something like “MaTArola” (short a).  Made me either laugh or frown in confusion.

I reached my friend’s house just at the right time.  She (A) was off with friends to ride horses, while her husband (M) and daughter (K) and her partner were about to head into town to the pub.  I joined them.  After five hours of driving I was ready for a drink.  We sat in one of the many bars opening out to the sea (The Strand, I think it’s called) and had an Erdinger Weissbier (on tap!).  Very nice.  M’s old school friends were at the pub too – nice couple.  Very pleasant.  I enjoyed K’s company too.  She is now living in South Victoria, Australia, and has an Aussie accent.  (I found her much easier to talk to than M’s other, older, daughter.).  After a couple of beers, we headed to an Italian pizza place (where the guy was actually Italian and greeted us with Buena sera).  While we waited for the pizzas, we had a Peroni beer.  Back to their place for pizza and wine.  Old school friend, D, turned up from Auckland.

The next day was all about preparing for M’s 60th party.  They had a marquee attached to the side of the house and we set up tables and chairs, barbecues, etc.  K made salads while A and I went to the supermarket to pick up more stuff, and helium balloons.  A good party, well attended, and their pilates teacher sang a few songs – she has a very good voice.  Another old school friend, F, appeared in the evening.  I hadn’t seen her for three years.   Chatted to various people (including ones I’d never met before), danced a bit, and collapsed about 12.30 am.  I hadn’t slept well the previous night.  I missed the helium hilarity, but did hear people shouting at each other (instead of talking) until past 1 am.

A nice, communal cooked breakfast in the morning, a wander around the property, and I headed off in the car about 1.15 pm.  I returned home via Rotorua, stopping beside Lake Ngahewa for lunch.


A and M had suggested taking the Broadlands road via Reporoa which I did.  It was a nice straight road, with little traffic.

On the Desert Road, I stopped at the place I’d spotted when heading north, so I could get a good picture of the mountains.

Mt Ruapehu

Mt Ruapehu


Mt Ngauruhoe

I arrived home at 6 pm.

On Monday, I did some weeding, and planting of the bushes I’d bought previously, and mowed the lawn.  I also organised for a couple of dead trees to be chopped down.  I had meant to get my WOF for the car today, but I completely forgot.

I sat on the new outdoor seats that H had bought and enjoyed the sunshine.   A great weekend.  I actually felt like I’d had a holiday and realised that I didn’t want to go back to work at all.  It suddenly hit me that I found my job incredibly boring and only enjoyed life when I wasn’t at work.

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My back’s killing me after hours of trying to search for elusive family members on my family tree. That’s pretty much all I did today, as well as unsuccessfully search for negatives from 1982 to 1995. Where the hell are they? Oh, before that, I tried to sort out a possible itinerary for a road trip to the South Island in February or March. So much for continuing stripping of wallpaper! Whenever I attempt any genealogy, the hours flit by and I barely get up even to eat.

Yesterday I had to return to Wellington. H’s great uncle died last week. I hadn’t intended on going but H wanted to and she didn’t want to drive to Wellington after just having done so two weeks in a row to drop off and pick up her boyfriend from the airport (the things we do).

The great uncle in question was the older brother of H’s paternal grandmother. I didn’t particularly like him and certainly never liked his wife. However, I did the dutiful thing. One of H’s aunts also doesn’t particularly like the wife or the kids of that family. Anyway, H and I arrived in Wellington a bit early, we thought, so we headed over to Miramar and ate a spinach and feta parcel and a thyme, olive and tomato pizza at a Lebanese bakery. When we got to the chapel “early” it was already full. Apparently, they’d had prayers beforehand, something that was evidently only known to some, as others kept arriving half an hour after we did. We had to stand at the back. After the service (eulogies only, no singing), people lined up to put flowers in the coffin and pass on their condolences to the family. The coffin was then taken over to the crematorium next door and everyone just left. Quite bizarre. Apparently, the widow and family were accepting visitors at 7 pm that night.

H and I drove over to her cousin’s place for a much needed cup of tea. They hadn’t yet arrived, so H and I decided to have a look at the Weta Workshop shop just down the road. We would’ve liked a tour of the workshop but didn’t have time. Instead we wandered around the shop admiring various figurines and pictures and wishing we had the money. I took photos of the trolls outside and some of the goodies inside. It was a welcome relief from the emotions of the funeral.




After the cuppa and a chat with various members of the family, H’s grandmother decided to go early to her sister-in-law’s place (where her younger brother was visiting). It was on the way out of Wellington, and H wanted to meet her grandmother’s surviving brother who had come over from the States, so we followed. On arrival, no-one greeted us. The widow was sitting on the couch next to her daughter and they just stared at us. We introduced ourselves to the other brother and chatted to him, helping ourselves to a seat. He was very nice, and interesting, a refreshing change. He, H and I shared an interest in photography. He let me use his rather nice Nikon for taking photos of people in the room. I did like the feel of it and it took really good photos. So we sat amongst ourselves and were eventually offered a cup of tea in a polystyrene cup. Some time later we were offered a sweet. That was it. It was now after 7.30 pm so H and I left (before her father arrived) and ate guiltily at Burger King on the way home. We had a detox tea before heading to bed, exhausted.  Such a strange day.

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