Lifting its skirts…

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You’ll never guess what this is!

29 August 2019

One problem with writing up a daily blog. The time it takes to do it. I don’t even know if I’ll get the chance tomorrow. The 100th anniversary of Taranaki Museum/Puke Ariki finishes at 11.00pm. And I’m guessing that the Topp Twins will be the final act.

But still I’m able to get into a nice warm bed. But to plug it in I have to pull the bed out from the wall, get the cable around the side of the bed, plug it in at the head of the bed, switch it on, and make sure it’s at the right setting. And then I have to reverse all that when I want to get into bed.

No sleep interruptions by neighbouring units last night.

But what did we do today?

10.00am we were booked in for a guided walk with Mike Nightingale. Jenny… something showed up. No complaints as in the main she was very good.

About 9.30 it pelted down, so I made a point of wearing my waterproof shoes. They are walking shoes (I wear them to work when it’s raining), but they’re not as comfortable as my Allbirds.

We were the only two on the walk, which always makes for a personalised experience. As was that she had family stories to slip in. Like that the first cow in Taranaki walked all the way here from Wellington. Its name was Jenny. Or that her great-great x? grandfather was in the family home, clinging to his mother’s skirts when one Maori chased another into the house and cleaved his head in to. It was retribution for something, I can’t remember what, but it would have been traumatic for the family.

Some of the things she got slightly wrong – like saying 19## instead of 18##, and she told us that the building on one corner was Art Deco with the flourishes, from 1890 to 1920. The opposite corner was Art Deco with the more stylised features – that was 1920 to 1940. And another corner was a 1960s box. See what’s wrong with this? She meant Art Nouveau from 1890 to 1910. (Wikipedia’s a wonderful thing when you’re looking up things to do with your flapper costume. It’s remembering that information that’s the tricky bit.)

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Art Nouveau on the other side of the street. Art Deco on this side. And the yellow care is parked where the men’s underground toilets used to be.

But aside from these odd slipups, she was very good to listen to – even though we’ve forgotten most of it.

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When the walk was over, we asked Jenny where she would recommend for lunch. She (literally) pointed out the Chaos Café, so we went there. It was noisy, but the staff were fast, friendly, and cheerful. I ordered a Monsieur Croque for D.C., cheese, pineapple and ham toasted sandwich (when did they become toasties?) for me, a big slice of carrot cake for us both, and two Aztec hot chocolates – which, when they turned up, had a large Whittaker’s sante bar across the mouth of the cup. If there’s one thing that’s better than a marshmallow with a hot chocolate – it’s a large piece of Whittaker’s chocolate. The hot chocolate seemed to be layered – coconut flavouring on top, then afterburner chilli, then cinnamon. Yum.

But why do modern establishments have to have the music so loud that you can’t hear each other – and the staff – talk? That was the one thing wrong with it.

After that we went back to Puke Ariki, left our gear in the same locker, and checked out the settlers/life in Taranaki display that we’d managed to totally miss on Tuesday. Another very good display.

Following that we went across the skybridge to the archives library. I said that we were hoping to check out anything on our relative.

“What is their name?”

“Frederick Burdett Butler”

Laura gave us a guided tour. Starting with the archives room where thousands (no joke) of Uncle Fred’s scrapbooks are kept. Do I need to explain his scrapbooks? Probably. Unless I’ve already done it and I’m too tired to remember.

Oh, well. Here it goes.

Uncle Fred would buy three copies of every newspaper and cut out each article. (Two sides to each paper, remember, so the three copies was to ensure he kept everything.) He would go to sales and buy trunk loads of old books. (Literally.) He would take each book that had no value and cut out every second page. Then each book would be covered with wallpaper (we’ve got some of the sample books that he used at home) and labelled with identifying labels on the spine. Perhaps Egmont – 1st January 1954 to 8th April 1954. Or Weather – 4th February 1956 to 29th August 1956. Or a family name. Or one of the first boats into New Plymouth. Or clubs and organisations. Or… just about anything you could think of. The clippings relating to the heading of each book would then be glued into that book as a reference. This meant that if Uncle Fred, or anyone, wanted to find out… say… what the weather was like on Mt Egmont (Taranaki) on the 5th July 1942, when a certain person got lost climbing the mountain – they could look in the Egmont book for that date, or the weather one, or the one that had information about the “certain person.

As Ann Shelton said: This was his Internet.

Who’s Ann Shelton a nationally recognised photographer who was the artist who photographed all of Uncle Fred’s scrapbooks at Puke Ariki in 2006. This artwork became “A Library to Scale”. And it was to scale. She used a large format camera to take the photos and then had to send the film away to get developed and wait with baited-breath for it to return.

It was also a virtual library. You’d walk in and think you were in a room with real books. “Oh that looks interesting…” and your hand meets 2D print.

Anyway, Puke Ariki has all of Uncle Fred’s books, aside from the few that we still own. At Puke Ariki they line the entire back wall of the archive and two lots of shelving.

What’s gratifying is that researchers still use them. Uncle Fred would be thrilled.

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We then had a look at a “public file” on Uncle Fred and then Laura showed us the display cabinet that houses some of his books and a brief precis about him.

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It’s good to see him finally get recognised. When he was alive he was regarded as a crazy man who always wore shorts (easier to dry legs than trousers), jandels, and – because he only had quarter sight in one eye (One was poked with an umbrella and the other he was jumped on by a bloke wielding a screwdriver) would, when crossing the road, stick his walking stick out in front of him and march across.

Following that we decided to hunt down the site of where his family home had been until he moved it to Sentry Hill. So here is 55 Gill Street!

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Because we’re taking a bus tour tomorrow, we went into a chemist and bought some ginger sweets to ward off motion sickness. (Which D.C. was, unusually, less worried about than I was.) I also bought some earplugs for tomorrow night.

We were told by a man, when we were admiring a duck and her duckling (eel food, he said. To which I responded – “Ah, yes. But which is the native?”) that there were a lot of native eels further up that creek outside a café. So this evening we checked them out. There were a lot.

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Having photographed them, and dodged a passing shower (the first since this morning’s “downpour”) we went to the coastal walkway to photograph the sunset. I left D.C. by the Len Lye Wind Wand and went a short way along the walkway to a lookout.

The sunset wasn’t as orange as Monday’s, and didn’t reflect off Paritutu nor the chimney, but it was still nice.

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Apparently, according to Jenny, the chimney was part of a power station, which had all been pulled down except the chimney – because it was full of asbestos and had become a local icon.

My fitness tracker beeped 10,000 as we walked back to the unit

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This evening we had dinner in the White Hart Hotel. If you can call it dinner and in the hotel. The “restaurant” – it was more of a drinks and nibbles establishment – was called SNUG and may well have been in the original snug. Or just the bar. We sat on cushioned bench seats around low coffee sized tables and tried to select our platter dishes.

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Fortunately, D.C. had brought a torch with her, so we were able to read it. We had “Melon Cooler”: watermelon, lemon and mint to drink. The platters we shared were two fresh steamed (Asian style) buns with sliced BBQ port, mustard greens, and peanuts. (Not sure if the peanuts were there, but it was nice.) Also crumbed kumara and ginger balls. Also very nice. The waitress came over to check we’d got our crumbed kumara and I told her that I should say no so we’d get some more.

Dessert wasn’t on the menu but was banana cooked in spring roll pastry with crystallised caramel and cream. Once again, very nice.

But if they’d asked if I wanted to give them a tip, I would have said “Yes. Turn the music down and the lights up.”

And then it was back to the until to download 143 photos and write this up.

I did 10,845 steps today.

Some of my photos haven’t uploaded, so here’s those that have.

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All photos. Few words.

28 August 2019

Once again, a neighbouring unit kept me awake for an hour or so. D.C. got up at 3.00am to pop next door and when she came back, I became aware of the drone of an extractor fan. There are three switches in the bathroom on the same switch plate: light/extractor fan, light, heater. I didn’t think the drone was loud enough to be coming from our bathroom, but it was loud enough to be irritating. So I got up and checked.

It wasn’t ours.

This meant that, once I’d used the facilities, I couldn’t get back to sleep again until whoever had left their fan going had switched it off.

Then again, we’ve got the heater going at the moment and it’s droning. Maybe our neighbours got cold in the middle of the night. I wouldn’t have thought so. According to TV3 Newshub news, we’ve been having the same weather as Thames.

Today started with a shower. This is a very nice shower, with a large, but soothingly gentle, spray from the shower rose. The rose is detachable, which means that it’s easy to wash the soles of your feet. It’s also a walk-in shower (which is great!), with a curtain surround, and a fold down seat. (Not sure I’d want to put my bare bottom on a wooden seat where someone else has put their bare bottom…)

Anyway, as this is a walk-in shower, there is no shower tray, per se. Instead the entire floor of the room – beneath the shower head, around the toilet, next to the handbasin, from to door – slopes down to a central drainage hole. And it is slightly disconcerting to be standing on one leg washing the sole of your foot, and feeling the world tilt away from you.

Still, it is a very nice shower – with Rosemary, Melissa, Thyme shampoo/conditioner and shower gel.

We were sort of stuck for something to do today. There’s not a lot of touristy stuff in New Plymouth’s CBD to do. We did consider catching a bus out to Sentry Hill to see what remains of Uncle Fred’s houses, but the idea of catching a 40 minute(?) bus ride out to a truck stop, ohing and ahing over the outside of some buildings, and then riding a bus back didn’t really appeal. If we were going to be given a bit of a tour, then yes. But we haven’t contacted them, so we can’t expect that.

So we decided to do one of the heritage walks – tomorrow. You have to book 24 hours in advance, which must work well for the guides as they would be able to plan their days. So we, leaving the rain jacket part of our ski jackets behind, went back to the i-SITE (information centre) in Puke Ariki and booked tickets for 10am, and bought a $10 book.

Did I ever tell you about the time when I was on the committee of our local i-SITE? I came back from lunch one workday and my boss said: “The optometrist rang for you.”

Me: “Optometrist? For me? But I’ve never seen one and I’ve got no plans to.”

Charles: “She said something about eyesight.”

I cracked up.

Anyway, the day wasn’t cold, the skies were clear, but starting to cloud over, and we had several hours to fill – so we decided to do the New Plymouth Coastal Walkway.

It was lovely. We started at the underpass by the Len Lye Wind Wand and then headed east-ish. (Apparently, the mythological Mt Taranaki is to the south, so I’m assuming we went east.) The walkway is wide enough to cater for couples walking and chatting, maybe with a myriad of dogs, or perhaps being overtaken by cyclists. Everyone was very friendly and accommodating. We did our best to stick to the left to give everyone else the chance to have plenty of room to overtake us.

We just took it slowly. There were seats dotted all the way along, so we’d walk a couple and then have a sit and admire the view, listen to the surf, and take photos. This meant that we covered 1.5 km in about two hours. That’s how far I walk to work and that takes me 14.5 minutes, so we were really sauntering.

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As it was, we walked the 2 km to the East End (so I guess we were walking east) Life Saving Club, used the public toilets there, then – as there was nowhere where you could purchase food – or anything, turned back for home.

I seem to remember doing the same thing last time.

We started walking about 10am and sat down for lunch at 1.45pm. We had just walked past Puke Ariki when my fitness tracker vibrated that I’d done my 10,000 steps for the day. Overall, I’ve done 13,401.

After being out in the fresh air, listening to the surf, watching the birds, dodging the (infrequent – and so light I didn’t really worry about my camera nor Kally getting wet), and sharing pleasantries with people and dogs, being inside a noisy, artificial, nature excluded shopping centre felt wrong.

But we wanted lunch.

After our pumpkin penne pasta (D.C.) and lemon chicken couscous (me) and carrot/apple/lemon/ginger drinks, we found Farmers and D.C. bought some handkerchiefs.

I discovered that the centre had a Merric. I once managed to score a couple of pair of nice slacks, in a style that I like, from the one at Sylvia Park, so I wondered if I would strike it lucky this time.

Two different styles for $28 each is nothing to be sniffed out.

After that we returned to the unit to relax and go through 128 photos. Was that all?

6.30 I went back to the Café Turquoise (They know me now and greet me with a big smile and a wave) and bought a falafel salad between us, some Turkish bread garlic and cheese bread, two apple teas, and (when I remembered after the initial transaction) some more baklava. Everything but the baklava was $31, but the gentleman who served me settled on $30, since I paid cash.

Once again it was delicious. If you’re ever in New Plymouth, and want a reasonably priced, tasty, healthy meal – Café Turquoise.

I set my fitness tracker when I went there. I was able to walk at my usual speed going there, but had to be a bit more circumspect, especially with the teas, on the return journey. In total it was 802 steps, 0.51km, took me 24 minutes (including sitting down and waiting), and I burned 30kcal. My heartrate was 89bpm and I can not work out what the 48’00” average pace means. 48 minutes per hour? That doesn’t make sense.

Anyway, I did my full 802 step round trip and then we had our dinner. After that I set up my computer so D.C. could see my photos slide show.

Kally pics

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D.C. pic. Yes , I did take more…

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Photos for next Halloween?

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Looking back at New Plymouth

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Now, that would be the way to drive around Thames! (Electric, of course)

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I don’t think this would be as effective.

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If only…

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We did see one vehicle on the tracks – a light truck that had both tyred-wheels and bogies.

Just interesting…

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Unexpected discoveries

27 August 2019

Oh… Luxury. Who needs the Ritz when you’ve got an electric blanket.

I got woken up during the night, either by the unit above us or next to us, who was obviously making an early (5.00am?) runner. They were thumping about (probably making no more noise than usual) and had a shower. The drone from the shower would have been fine, but I think the gully trap must be outside our unit as I could hear running water. This had the obvious effect, so I had to get up at 6.15 to take care of things.

So I didn’t get as much sleep as I would have liked.

Today we decided that, as the weather should be fine, we’d go to Pukekura Park. Always a must see.

Of course, one of the problems with being a shutterbug, is that you’re likely to take 354 photos and one video, and then need to spend two hours that evening sorting them out.

We started this morning with our sachet porridge – apple and cinnamon flavoured – very tasty with yoghurt.

When we set off it was fine. The sun was reflecting off the Len Lye Centre and onto the White Hart Hotel, so we got some photos.

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We were then looking at the stairway inside, with Charles Butler’s turned balusters (which we always call, at Rangitoto anyway, “Grandpa’s bannisters”.) A gentleman walked past and said we were welcome to go in and look around. We went in and I was taking some photos, including up the stairs. When I saw that there was a public café up top, I told D.C. to come up and we went into the glassed in area of the verandah, to get a closer look at the turned wood.

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A gentleman was going to get past, and I apologised and got out of his way, explaining that my great-grandfather had turned the balusters. It turned out that he owned the building, and was interested in this information. He took us back to his office and wrote the information down. Then he introduced us to Archibald Pattimpaws Outred.

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Found within the building when it was being renovated.

Archibald’s “owner”  owned and lived in the house over the road. He’d sold it and the Len Lye Centre was built there, and he’d put the money towards the purchase and restoration of the White Hart Hotel. The accommodation block down Queen Street was unrecoverable, so they’d demolished that – keeping the original frontage – and knocked down an old kitchen lean-to at the back, and made that space into a covered in courtyard. The “pub” and other accommodation sections have been renovated to make offices and eateries.

D.C. then, cautiously, mentioned that we were relatives of Fred Butler.

“I knew Freddie!”

He then asked if, as he had an appointment, we’d be willing to come back in quarter of an hour to twenty minutes, so we could talk about Uncle Fred. This was fine with us, so we went over the road and got some photos, and the aforementioned video, of the clock tower. There are stairs that go up part the way, but they’ve been gated off so you can’t go past the first level.

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Having got our photos, and the video of the clock chiming the Westminster Chimes, and having seen the visitor leave the office and walk across the street, we returned to the White Hart Hotel. We learnt how Uncle Fred had outbid his mother for the sea chest and grandmother chair that his relative had carted all around New Zealand (21 guineas). When Uncle Fred was leaving New Plymouth, he offered it back to her for the price he paid.

During this his business partner came in and between the three of us we explained about Uncle Fred and Charles Butler.

Following this interesting and totally unexpected event, we returned to the unit (one block away) to make use of the facilities, and then set out for Pukekura Park. Naturally we turned down the wrong street a couple of times when D.C. thought we should be going one way and I was sure it was another.

But one thing about New Plymouth people. They are so nice and friendly. We were asked three times if we needed help. And they could teach Thamesites a thing or two about road rules, and indicating, and being courteous to pedestrians. Especially those who don’t get how New Plymouth roads work.

We eventually found the main gates, along with a map, and went for a wander.

It is a beautiful park, and totally man-made. Each water feature, lake, and green area has been created – some in Victorian times. (They did like their engineering projects, didn’t they?)

The fountain, and waterfall, are both operated by push button systems, and when we first saw the fountain in action, we had the sun behind us (at 42°) and there was a rainbow reflecting off the water.

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The waterfall can also start flowing on a whim.

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Lunch was at the Pukekura Park tearooms, where we had some round things with spinach, feta cheese, and cashews, a bowl of chips between us, and hot chocolates (with a slither of fudge) each.

We found the fernery, which no longer has native ferns, but exotics, and enjoyed there. I also had to get the obligatory photo of D.C. on the stairs. I had that one in 2007.

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The “Buggy” tour driver, was about to head off – possibly to finish for the day – but was quite happy to take us on the 45 minute tour around the park for $5 each. The “Buggy” is a small electric bus (about to be replaced with a better model) and I think the driver is probably a volunteer. The tour was very interesting with the only complaint being that we didn’t have time to stop and take photos.

Hasn’t stopped me taking heaps though.

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We went up as far as the Brooklands Bowl and around parts of the park where we hadn’t been before and parts where we had. The magnolias and rhododendrons are looking great this year.

After that ride we went for another walk, seeing lots of people eating ice cream. Of course, that made me want an ice cream, so we got one from the tea kiosk.

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Dinosaur foot? No 100-year-old wisteria trunk

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And the flowers are rhododendrons, not wisteria

Then we wandered back, stopping to talk to people with dogs and to other people about the amount of Tui in the Kowhai trees. (They’re just starting to come on stream here.)

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During the day there were three heavy showers. The first whilst we were inside the tearooms having lunch. The second whilst we were inside the Buggy and about to get out – so he took us on an extended ride so we didn’t have to. And the last as we wandered around the Fountain Lake – so we sheltered under the trees.

And we finished the day with some more otherworldly cats.

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We managed to find our way back to the White Hart Hotel, and D.C. went home to heat up her leftovers from the last two nights, and I went back to the Turquoise Café to buy a takeaway Turkish falafel burger. The staff remembered me from last night and we had a chat. They didn’t know where Thames was.

Then back to the unit for dinner and two hours of photo processing and one and a half hours of blog typing.

And I walked 11,317 steps today. My tracker buzzed me the 10,000th step as we were walking back from Pukekura Park.

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And I took these photos because they’re artistic. Not because I had the exposure too slow.

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Found us!

26 August 2019

Last night, as a treat, I thought I’d put on the motel’s electric blanket. So I switched it on to three, did other things whilst it warmed the bed, and then switched it off before getting between the sheets.

Electric blankets work a lot better if the power cable is plugged into the wall socket. They are also easier to plug in if the wall socket isn’t behind the head of the bed.

So tonight I pulled the bed out, plugged the wall socket in, switched the electric blanket onto three (eventually), was able to enjoy getting into a toasty bed. Having unplugged the plug from the wall and got the cable out of the way.

This morning after a good night’s sleep (comfortable beds), aside from when D.C. started coughing, we had our showers and then I asked reception where we could buy breakfast. There was Monica’s Eatery, where we had dinner last night, or else a café around the corner in Devon Street. We chose around the corner.

The café’s name was The Empire Café and the people in it were lovely – as was the look of the food on offer. We both decided to splash out – since we were planning on buying porridge for the rest of the week’s breakfasts. D.C. had garlic mushrooms on toast. (She ate all of it.) I had pancakes (no cream), with diced kiwifruit, orange, and banana. And the mint tea was very nice.

We sat in the window and watched the world go by… People pulling up outside, coming into the café for their coffee, or for containers of food, and the Bidfood delivery driver who managed to drop a bottle of something like sauce on the road – which split and started running underneath the truck.

Back to the unit to finish getting ready and dodge the cleaners as we headed out to Puke Ariki. It was fine when we were walking there. That was about the last time today.

resized_IMG_0923 (2)They had those chairs back in 2007. Only I was sitting in them in that photo.

A helpful lady in the i-SITE let us use a locker. Much better then lugging our coats, woolly hats, scarf, gloves, sunglasses all around the place.

When we had our video interviews, the interview was done by Amber… someone. It was she that D.C. was communicating with until a short time ago. Then it became Lucy McFarlane. We tried to contact Lucy, but she wasn’t in the office. So we dumped out coats in the lockers and went and admired the 100 years of the museum display. It was here that D.C. accidently managed to find our video – which she listened to, to make sure that no one had made any unauthorised changes…

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A lot of these displays were of the “odd” things that people collect. “Transformers”, romance novels, royal memorabilia, salt and pepper shakers, computers…

I found the computers display interesting. He had his Sinclair ZX81 and Sinclair ZX Spectrum. (I had one of those! For about a week until I bought a more useful Spectravideo.) And an Amiga 500 – which was Karen’s first computer and I was jealous of her as it had awesome graphics. Until I managed to overwrite one of her games and I had to buy her a replacement copy.

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They even gave you a chance to do a bit of programming a ZX81. I haven’t done that in decades, but managed to follow the prompts and get it to play a tune. (Difficult when using a modern QWERTY keyboard to mimic the old Sinclair. And as a matter of interest, my old Spectravideo had a game of pelmanism, where you could try to pair up things other than cards. One “card” was “QWERTY” and the other “UIOP”. We couldn’t work out what a qwerty and a uiop was… until one day I glanced at the keyboard. This was in the days before I was a touch typist – although I think I’d even struggle now. Touch typists use “finger memory” not conscious memory. If I ever take a keyboard apart to clean it, it’s a struggle to remember where each key goes when I’m putting it back together again.)

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Programming the tune “Frere Gustav”. I’ve got no idea what that sounds like, even having done it.

What’s so odd with collecting old computers? Or “Swanndris”

After we’d finished with this exhibition, we tried to find a place to eat. There was the expensive restaurant, but the waitress directed us to the café. In the library of all places. So we had our lunch, D.C. had a coughing fit, and we enjoyed a slide show of photos taken by Taranaki Daily Mail journalists.

We were about to head back across the skybridge to the museum side of the complex, where we found a display of photos that had originally been taken by one man in 1939. Sixty years later his grandson decided to take the same photos from the same spot to see how things had changed. And in some cases he not only had photos from 1999, but 2019.

Back to the museum proper where was checked out everything else. I found a display of moths – one of which was Austramathes purpurea discovered by Arthur Gardiner Butler. No idea if he’s a relation, but it would funny if he was the discoverer of “purpurea”.

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We found some badly stuffed Kakapo. One the taxidermist has twisted two of its toes so they were the standard bird configuration of three front, one behind for grasping. Kakapo, being parrots, have two front, two back.

I don’t think that New Plymouth has the water issues that Auckland has. The flush of the toilets in Puke Ariki seemed to be powerful enough that if you hadn’t moved away you’d be dragged down with it. And the gurgles at the end were probably the pitiful strokes of those who hadn’t made it trying to escape.

Off to the supermarket again – this time to buy the porridge and yoghurt for breakfast. Unfortunately, it was raining when we came out again. So we sheltered for a bit… and then made a dash for more shelter… and then attempted to cross Courtney Street/State Highway 46 during a “lull” in the rain… And then sheltered some more as the rain blew in.

We finally made it to a long run of verandahs and started hunting out places to eat. I was trying to remember what I’d read in Google last night that was good value and not too expensive. We’d crossed over to Bella Vista’s side of the road when I spied Café Turquoise. I think I remembered seeing that that was good value, so we crossed over again and went inside.

Mark Café Turquoise on your list of places to eat in New Plymouth. It was Turkish style meals and we each had chicken “skewer” (three) shish kebabs on a bed of salad, with homemade Turkish bread, dips of            cacik, hummus, tabouli, and spicy walnut), rice and a choice of two sauces. (I had garlic yoghurt and mint, and D.C. garlic yoghurt and avocado – and had to have a doggie back.) $16 each. I bought two $2 packs of two pieces of baklava for dessert – which we took away with us.

Back to the motel, cups of mint and matcha tea and a piece of baklava, and then to our toasty warm beds.

Only walked 5990 steps today. That’s about the same as a normal Monday – but a lot slower.

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Puddle Jumping

25 August 2019


We got up at 7.30, got washed and dressed and went down to the “restaurant” for breakfast.

Now, one of the reasons why we always like staying at the EconoLodge is the quality of the breakfasts. Fresh melon slices, pineapple, grapes, cheese, fruit juices, freshly made pikelets, maple syrup, Weetbix, toast, yoghurt, kiwifruit, orange slices. It was always very fresh and yummy. They’ve gone to the pack, the last couple of times that we’ve stayed there. No melon, no Weetbix, the picklets were overcooked and soggy, the price had gone up (but there was the option for sausages, cooked tomatoes, bacon, scrambled eggs, and hash browns.) It wasn’t nearly as tasty nor appetising as in the past.

We finished that, went up to clean our teeth and finish packing our bags. I’d just finished zipping up my suitcase when I realised that I couldn’t find my V2 lock. This lock is pink and has been halfway around the world twice. It’s also got an easy to remember combination. I had other pink locks in my bag, so locking my suitcase wasn’t an issue, but I didn’t really want to lose the original. Oh, well. I’ll use one of the other locks and ask the cleaners to keep an eye out for the missing one. I reached into my camera bag to get a spare lock…


Guess I hadn’t lost it after all.

The Skybus left every ten minutes, halfway down the block from the EconoLodge, so – having paid up (I’m paying for food and travel, D.C.’s paying for accommodation) – we went to wait for the bus.

Now, if you know Wellesley Street in Auckland, it’s quite a steep street. I was waiting facing up the hill and looking into the window of a neighbouring shop, appeared to have a lean of about 5°. D.C., with her daypack on her back, kept on overbalancing.

The bus arrived and I tried to pay by credit card (so I can keep track). They can only accept cash or pre-booked tickets. I tried to buy one adult and one senior ticket – you can only buy senior at a kiosk or on-line. I asked for two return, (I had the cash) and looking at my $38 ticket now, I think he’s only charged us for one way. But at least we each had a ticket.

While I was undergoing this high-finance transaction, D.C. was trying to get our cases into the luggage racks. A nice young man picked them up and put them away for her.

For some reason – probably to aid manoeuvrability through a tight space and around a corner, the front seat on the passenger side is a ¾ sized seat. Easily big enough for one person, not so good for two. As I’d held them up with the payment, I left D.C. to it and claimed the front seat on the drivers side, which is behind a lot of luggage racks and with a high wall meaning it’s hard to see out the window. Especially if you’re only 5’1”. So when we got to the next bus stop, I went back to the front (only luggage racks and disability/wheelchair/emergency seats behind D.C.’s seat.) and squeezed in next to her.

Squeezed being the operative word. First corner that we went around to the left, I disappeared off the seat. The driver goes: “I think that’s only made for one person.”

“I think you’re right. I’ll go back at the next stop.”

But there were no further stops, aside from intersections, so we spent most of the 45 minutes with D.C. with her arm looped through mine, hanging on to me, and me sitting kind of side-saddle.

But we made it to the airport with no hiccups. Even though the wind and rain picked up as soon as we hit the motorway and caused the warped door to rattle and flex. Slightly disconcerting, more so because I was concerned what would happen to any vehicles following if it flew loose.

We were deposited at the domestic terminal and had a wander through, working out how and where we offloaded our suitcases. It’s not a totally logical layout at the moment, but there were people to help.

By this stage it was only about 10am and our plane wasn’t due to leave until 2.40, so we went for a wandering through the domestic terminal. We also weighed our cabin bags. According to the rules, they couldn’t be more than 7kg. My camera & laptop bag recorded 7.1kg… 7kg… 6.9kg.

Close enough.

Having completed that, we decided to check out the international terminal. There is a helpful green line painted between the two and it was easy to follow this (stopping off to photograph a Moa and a Kiwi) to the international airport.

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Moa hiding in the Pohutukawa

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Kiwi – having just been visited by a young boy, who’s mum called him back so I could get my photo.

We had a look around and decided to have lunch. Each having a Pita Pit pita. Which was quite yummy – I had falafel. D.C. only wanted a sandwich, but couldn’t find a place that sold plane, sorry, plain old simple sandwiches.

While we were eating, there was a family behind us of mum, dad, grandma, and two kids. Dad was trying to get photos of them all, so I offered to get some with him in. He was very pleased to let me – once he’d switched it over so it wasn’t the camera on the screen side taking the photo. Unfortunately, it was a tablet and not a proper camera. But I managed to get a couple. And then a couple more when they decided that the light behind was too annoying.

We wished them a good flight, and they reciprocated, before we started heading back to the domestic airport. We decided to make this journey a competition. D.C. would take the free bus that travels on a loop between the two terminals and I’d walk. Loser to buy dinner tonight.

The bus pulled up, D.C. got on board, and the driver looked at me. I said: “I’m walking. We’re going to have a race.”

As soon as the bus started moving, so did I.

And I would have done better if my shoelace hadn’t come undone. As it was, I was heading towards the final corner before the stretch of footpath where the buses park when a bus came towards me. The driver saw me and did a double take and smiled. I did a “Bother, I’m last” gesture and she laughed. It only took me 8 minutes to walk, which was probably only about minute slower than the bus. Unfortunately, my fitness tracker (a cheapy) doesn’t let you go back and see your results again, so I can’t remember much more than it was about .73 of a kilometre. I don’t know how many steps I took – but it was around about now that it vibrated to tell me that I’d done my 10,000 steps for the day.

But I was quite hot and thirsty after that walk, (I was wearing my 3-in-one “ski” jacket, my camera backpack, and Kally), so I bought us each a “Mango Zest” TANK drink, remembering – belatedly – to ask to have it without a straw.

“And without a lid?” they checked.

“Yes, please.”

The “paper” cup was probably plastic lined, but at least we didn’t put more plastic than necessary into the landfill.

We found a seat away from the main conglomeration of people waiting for their flight and sat, relaxed, and typed up this blog. 1.00pm we moved down to the more crowded seats, and I did more typing until it was time to board at 13:55 from gate 48 on flight NZ8041.

We sat on the tarmac for quite some time. (We’re now at the hotel and I’ve just found an email from Air New Zealand apologising because the flight was going to be twenty minutes late.) The captain came on the radio an apologised for the delay, saying that it was due to an administration issue. About ten minutes after that the flight attendant spoke to the passenger in the row before us, on the other side of the aisle, then then he had to collect his two(!) bags and leave the plane – leaving his phone behind. D.C. and the people behind us had to tell the flight attendant and she got someone to take it to the ex-passenger.

What I think happened, and this is what I overheard from a conversation between the flight attendant and a man two rows behind us – is that the plane was only allowed to carry fifty. The ex-passenger was allowed on, on the understanding that he’d have to get off and take the next flight, if passengers who had booked before him boarded. They did. So he caught the next flight, which landed almost instantly after we did in New Plymouth anyway.

The flight down was good, the weather relatively clear, an easy take off (not a “point up at the sky and go”), not too many bumps going into the cloud layer, and an easy landing.

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But still no view of the mythical mountain.

Our plane was a turbo-prop(? A name I learned when writing a Thunderbirds story. Also known as a puddle-jumper. But I could be totally wrong about this. I just know it was small and had two propellers.) and we had to walk across the tarmac to board it. And to leave it. And then we had to wait for the baggage train to bring all the bags into a “baggage claim” room, shut the door behind it, and then let us all in to grab our bags. No luggage carousels here!

We found the shuttle service and D.C. scored the front seat and I got the one behind but in the middle so I could see forward too. It was a good drive into town and we were the second drop off of the three stops.

Last time we were in New Plymouth we stayed at the Bella Vista Motel, and having no better ideas this time, we did the same. This time we were given room two, which we think might be directly below the one we had last time, which could have been room eleven.


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Having offloaded and decanted everything, we went on our obligatory hunt for a Warehouse. You can guarantee that every time we go somewhere, we have to find a Warehouse. This time D.C. wanted some warmer PJs. I think she’s ended up with a pair of men’s tracksuit pants and a woman’s skivvy. I had seen it at the top of the hill and was heading in that direction, when D.C. stopped and asked someone where it was. I was a trifle snappy when I informed her that it was there!

The Bella Vista recommended two eating establishments, so we went hunting for the one on Molesworth Street. I knew when we found this as I found the Bunnings’ hardware store that’s on that street. Having reached Bunnings we walked back in the direction of the motel, hoping to stumble across the restaurant.

The only thing we saw was a beautiful sunset highlighting Paritutu Rock and the smoke stack, but which had all but gone by the time I got over the road and to a good vantage point with my camera.

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We got back to the Bella Vista still not having found the restaurant. I’ve just checked and it was two blocks the other way past Bunnings.

So, we went over the road to Monica’s Eatery. We both had macaroni cheese, which D.C. found to be too much of a good thing. They gave us some delicious, freshly cooked bread (focaccia?) as well – which was lovely aside from the buttery fingerprints we left on everything. I was planning on having dessert, but didn’t bother when they didn’t come back with the menu having given D.C. her leftovers doggie bag. Our drinks were carrot. apple. turmeric. & ginger (D.C. – very orange) and spinach, something, something, Egmont honey, and mint. (Me – very green)

After that we came “home” and got into bed.

We’d (I’d!) done 12.457 steps today!

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First night food

In case you don’t know what macaroni cheese and green and orange drinks look like.

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To the big smoke

24 August 2019

Today started off with pretty much a normal Saturday morning. I did make sure that I had a shower as Auckland’s running low on water and I didn’t want to waste any having a shower on Sunday.

Of course, today was bright and sunny. Yesterday, when we did our last loads of washing, so they’d all be clean when we got home, was dark, overcast, and raining, meaning that our solar panels were useless. Today would have been a wonderful day to use the washing machine and dryer (and we did charge FAB-e’s battery) but we didn’t have the time.

I had planned on wearing a merino, blouse, woolly jumper, topped with a 3-in-1 ski jacket that’s warm and waterproof. But it seemed so warm that I thought it was going to be overkill. So I didn’t put on the merino. Then I remembered that merino was supposed to be cooling and warming, so I put it on again. I’m glad I did.

Most of my bags were already packed and it was just a matter of getting Kally into her bear bag and getting everything to the door. AND cleaning down the problematic smoke detector. It shouldn’t go for no good reason now, as Chubb have been back to reduce its sensitivity, but I still made sure there were no spiders nor insects nearby. I used its (purposely purchased) duster to clean around the smoke detector, around the neighbouring door, up and down the stairwell, and then I sprayed the duster with insect repellent and did the whole area again. I was just putting the duster away in its corner when I saw a Daddy Longlegs walking along the base of the door. I took it outside.

This morning we went on our usual Saturday morning walk through the Thames Market and down the road. Usual, except that we were dragging our suitcases with us. But T3 (Transition Town Thames) were holding an eco-stall at the market (with EVs, and literature, and the programme for the “Festival of Living Solutions” that we’re holding from the 7th to the 22nd September.) It was actually quite funny. We had a meeting on the 7th August explaining what was going to be happening with the festival, and getting people to help. Lou wanted someone to make a programme/calendar that could be given out so people would know what was on and when. I said that I could probably do it, which she was grateful for as she wouldn’t have had the time.

So the weekend afterwards I settled down to work on it, with little information aside from a few of the stalls that had been confirmed for the main event on the 7th, and a couple of the workshops. So I designed my own background and fancy bits, and uploaded it to the cloud where all the information was being posted. During the following week other bits of information, such as the advertising poster and logo, and more stalls and events was posted, so I started working on it the following weekend from scratch. We didn’t even do our usual walk down the road last Saturday, as I worked on the programme all day and D.C. went out to paint the woodwork at the entrance to the Historic Kopu Bridge.

I posted that Sunday evening, and then Lou came into work Tuesday (or Wednesday) and admitted that she hadn’t seen it on the cloud site. She sent posted more information on the cloud on Wednesday and that night (breathing through only one nostril since I was stuffed up with a cold) I tweaked it until just after 11pm. There were more stalls and workshops confirmed on Thursday, so I stayed up until 11pm again getting that finalised. There’s heaps more that I could do, and I discovered the following day that where I had Katherine, and then discovered that it was spelt Kathryn in two other places in the cloud and so I changed it to that, that the original Katherine was probably correct. So that was frustrating. Plus they didn’t have a location for Katherine /Kathryn’s workshop, so I couldn’t fill that line in.

But anyway, Lou and Robyn, the two coordinators seemed happy. So did everyone else when we saw them at the stall. Happy and surprised. “Did you make that?! I didn’t know you could do that.”

“Well, I have done a course in desktop publishing. And I did make the pamphlets for the Thames Small Gauge Railway and museums. And I do make my own Christmas cards.”

But the eco-stall seemed to be going well.

D.C. won $10 on her weekly $2 Instant Kiwi. I got nothing for my $2, but at least she’s got some spending money for the coming week.

Lunch at the Sunburst was the same burger (no beetroot) for me and “homemade” pumpkin soup for D.C., plus two hot chocolates, that we have every week. I did consider having something less filling, as we were planning on a big meal this evening, but I couldn’t see anything else that tickled my taste buds.

Over to the post office to check the mail – but it was two begging letters for me (Red Cross, and Forest and Bird) so they’ve stayed there.

Then around to the mall to check out the range of Thunderbirds Are Go toys they’ve got on offer. We were about to leave when a young boy walked past carrying a newly purchased Thunderbird One. I said: “Good man. Excellent choice,” and gave him a thumbs up.

I’m not buying them, because they’re not the original series. But if they ever come down in price…

Back to the Thames i-SITE to wait for the bus to leave at 2.40pm, my step counter telling me that I’d done 4303 steps. Yeah. Right.

We were lucky as the driver is one who knows us by sight, and is an excellent cautious driver. We manged to score a front seat on the top deck and made sure that Kally had a good view.

resized_DSC_0003Taken with my music player (aka Sony smart phone). It would have taken too long to get a proper camera out.

It was a good trip up and the driver was pleased to report that we’d arrived on time for once.

We dragged our bags down to the EconoLodge and checked in, being given room 605.

Having offloaded most of our gear, we went to the local Countdown supermarket and bought some hairclips for D.C., and stuff to combats our coughs and sniffles, and a bar of Whittaker’s new, limited edition chocolate.

Countdown has gone totally self-service, so we were grumbling about having to work the machine by ourselves. And then couldn’t work out where to put our cash – Remember what that is?

We’ve been going to try the Mai Thai restaurant since it won the best restaurant award in 2007, but have never managed it. Either we haven’t had time or they haven’t been open. But we finally managed it tonight. Except that it was 5.15pm and it didn’t open until 6.00pm.

So we wandered up to the SkyTower and the i-SITE. I wanted to check out their tourist souvenirs as I have a bag that I use for going to Rangitoto. It folds up into itself, but when you open it out, it has a pocket on the side that you can slide over the pull-handle of your wheeled suitcase. Very handy for groceries – or coats if you go out overdressed. Except that last time I used it I put too much stress on the zip and the fastening came off one of the runners (or whatever the terminology is. Suffice to say, the zip was running along one side, but not willing to join up with the other.) Thinking that it would be good for carrying our jackets if we got too warm, I attempted to fix it this morning… And now the zip will never run along one side at all. So I would like to get a replacement – One that’s not a cheap Chinese effort bought online.

Anyway, going to the souvenir shop bag hunting was a way of killing time while we waited for Mai Thai to open. A futile way, but still a way.

Back to Mai Thai and they were opening the door just as we got there – about 5.50pm.

We both ended up having the same meals. Except that D.C. had seafood with her vegetables and cashews and I had pork. We both had a virgin mojito, and we both had caramelised crème brûlée for dessert. Our verdict. While it wasn’t bad, it’s not better than our Thai in Thames. The décor may be a tad more authentic, but it got just as noisy as people filed in. (It was popular.) D.C. found her mains a bit too spicy and I finished her vegetables off for her. (Go back a few decades and it was the other way around.) The mojito definitely wasn’t as minty as the one I had in Portsmouth. But we enjoyed the crème brûlée.

Having only had a mojito and a glass of water to drink, we decided to buy some tea from the )(&* Countdown and I bought a pack of Kurols. They definitely clear the nose!

Then it was back to the EconoLodge and into bed for reading and writing.

We’re catching an aeroplane tomorrow!

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Mountain hunting

We’re off to Taranaki (well at least New Plymouth) again. Will we see the mythical mountain this time? I tried to find a photo from last time to use as the blog header – and that was an epic fail. (As I think it may be this time, judging by the weather forcast. I’ll have to keep my camera at my hip for emergency shooting.)

That’s not really the reason why we’re going. It’s because Uncle Fred (and if you’ve read my 2007 blog, you’ll know about Uncle Fred) was a Taranaki Historian. We inherited what remained of his collection, and donated what we could to Puke Ariki – The Taranaki museum.

Earlier this year we were interviewed on camera by Puke Ariki (yes, TV stars again) as a part of their centennial exhibition about why people have donated to Puke Ariki. We were invited to the launch of the exhibition – about two days before it happened – so we reluctantly declined the invitation. But this coming week there are celebrations commemorating 100 years of Taranaki Museusm, so we thought we’d put our efforts into attending that. And so we’re going to Auckland tomorrow, New Plymouth Sunday, and spending a week there. Hopefully I’ll be able to upload my blog, and photos (of Mount Taranaki?) daily.


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Birthday surprise

For my birthday, D.C. gave me (us) the chance to take part in a Sunset and Night Phototour. This necessitated an unexpected trip to Auckland, with the unusual luggage addition of a tripod, but it was worth it.

(I think – hope – that if you click on a photo, you’ll see a larger version. I may have to go and have a play with Flikr.)

When in Auckland we stay at the Econolodge City Central, because it’s so, erm, central. Only one block from the Aotea Centre, across the road from the Civic Centre, around the corner from the InterCity bus terminal, and, most importantly, within bag dragging distance of the Ferry Buildings for trips to Rangitoto Island. It’s an old Art Deco style building, and is showing its age somewhat, but the staff are friendly and helpful, the rooms largely comfortable, and the breakfast tasty.


Brett Lees from Unique Visions Tours turned up at in the minibus at 5.30pm, like he said he would, and managed to call me Louise in the first minute of meeting us. We set him right. We were the only ones on the tour, which was good as D.C. had the front seat, and I had the middle seat behind and we could all see straight ahead. It was even better as Brett was able to devote all his attention just to us. And when D.C. decided that her (otherwise excellent) point and shoot didn’t have the capabilities to photograph at night (I did say she could use my Gorillapod tripod) it meant that I got some one on one tuition!


We had a good chat on the way to the North Shore on the other side of the Waitemata Harbour. Brett was very interested in the bach situation on Rangitoto, and we were more than happy to tell him all about it.
Our first stop was Mt Victoria. Brett can’t have done the tour for a while, as he wasn’t sure if cars were allowed to the summit any more. So, he left us as far up the hill as he could, and we walked the rest of the way while he went and found a place to park. Our first photos were (funnily enough) of Rangitoto. We’d got them by the time Brett caught up with us, even though there wasn’t much light.

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Brett led us to the other side of Mt Victoria (where we interrupted a courting couple) and we got some photos of the city and some car light trails.

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Once Brett told me to turn the image stabilisation off (believe it or not) and with a little composition guidance, my photos started to look more in focus and I was able to concentrate on the exposure triangle – exposure, shutter speed, and ISO – and composition.

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Looking up the harbour towards the Naval Base and the Skytower.


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I often wonder if photography had never been invented, and some bright spark came up with the concept today, if we’d still have to deal with all that. One thing that I am sure of is that it wouldn’t be so confusing. F2.8 actually creates a bigger hole for light to pass through than F16 – but F2.8 results in a smaller area in focus from the focal point. Confused? Try contemplating that in the field.

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I liked the way the trees framed the view on the way down the road from Mt Victoria…


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…that was until someone shone their torch at the stop sign


We walked back down the hill to the van and our next stop was Stanley Bay wharf. There we got the lights of the city from “sea level” with a shed in the foreground for a focal point. Then we walked down the wharf and got more photos from a different angle.

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See the differences in the water between this photo and the one below?


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This photo was taken at a faster speed, which meant the lens remained open for a shorter time, not causing the water to blur.


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See the difference in the water between this photo and the one below? In order to allow this photo to have a more ethereal feel to the lights on the water, I had to increase the length of time light could enter the camera, whilst decreasing the size of the hole that light passed through – so that, in effect, the same amount of light entered the camera.


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Back in the van and around to what was known in years gone by as Fisherman’s Wharf. There was a wedding function going on here, but we went behind the building to photograph the Auckland Harbour Bridge. It looks even more impressive now that it’s got the new LED lighting decorating it… Maybe a thought for the old Kopu Bridge?

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See the difference in the street lights on the bridge – how in this photo they’re star bursts…?


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…whilst in this one they’re softer? That’s a result of the depth of focus. And now I’m going to have to remind myself if that’s a shallow depth of focus or not.


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The wharf at Fisherman’s Wharf. I like the symmetary.


After that it was back in the minibus and across the Auckland Harbour Bridge to Westhaven Marina – next to the Auckland Harbour Bridge – and an overpass over the motorway to photograph light trails from cars passing underneath. We weren’t the only ones there – there were a couple of guys getting their own light trail photographs. But everyone happily kept out of each other’s photographic way.

At the moment Auckland is hosting the Haier Big Hoot.

“The Haier Big Hoot is a large scale art trail event that is now swooping through the streets of Auckland City and its surrounds for nine weeks from the 3rd of March to the 6th of May 2018.

There are 47 bespoke-designed, fiberglass 1.65m tall Owls being displayed on the trail. Each owl is sponsored by a business, educational institution, community group or individual, and bespoke designed by artists, both established and emerging artists…

At the end of the event, each large Owl will be auctioned to raise funds to help support children with cancer and their families throughout New Zealand.

This project is presented by Child Cancer Foundation in partnership with the International creator of the event, Wild in Art.”

They’re all over Auckland, but during Easter, when we were coming back from Rangitoto Island, and this weekend, whenever I’d see an owl, I’d get a photo. They’re a lot of fun.

The following day we went to Escapade – The Kiwi Escape Game. You are “locked” in a room and have to solve a variety of puzzles to get yourself out of there. As I’ve played something similar on an “app” I’ll use that to give you an idea, so as to not spoil the fun if you ever decide to go. You have a combination lock with four numbers and there are four pictures of kittens on the wall. The first picture has four kittens, the next six, the next two, the last five. You enter 4-6-2-5 into the combination lock and it snaps open.

The two of us took 1.33 hours (and quite a few hints) to do what you normally only have an hour to do it in. But we both enjoyed it.

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Well – it was only taken by an i-Pad – and put onto Facebook by Escapade.



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I think this one is my favourite


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Captain Owl: This owl is looking smart and getting ready to go places! Inspired by concepts of natural flight and man made travel. Owls can fly, but this owl can really fly! Preparing to travel higher and further than any owl before it!


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Owl-Black: In this design, the owl takes on the iconic black jersey, which is no longer just a sporting symbol, but representative of the values and pride of a whole nation. Something not only recognisable by us as Kiwis but internationally recognised as respect for our achievements as a nation. It is a recognisable legend, and in this representation signed here by many legends… He’s got a nice face, even if his jersey’s signed by All Black rugby players


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Whirikoka (Strength): meshes broad-ranging references from traditional Maori weaving, European tapestries, to modernist geometries and DNA sequencing, to the pixilation of digital images. Larkin’s attraction to repetition is paralleled by her fascination with the notion of ‘the other’ in opposing binary pairings such as indigenous/colonist, science/art, male/female or cultural traditions and cutting-edge technology.


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I’m Puzzled: illustrates the timeless romance of balloon flight. This almost organic escape to the heavens will always belong in the domain of the romantics where even the most factual of us will be allowed to live our dreams.


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Enchanted Frosty River Owl: nspired by the majestic interior of the latest Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Ship with its beautiful dusty pink and gold, Ema added a touch more ‘Frost’ with her well-known favourite blue/green that represents the river this ship sails on. Her signature hummingbirds adorn this River Owl giving it a dreamlike, whimsical feel that her works are known for. Check out the back (back, back) ground.


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Kintsukuroi is the name of the art of repairing pottery with gold. It treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise and be ashamed. Embracing the flaw of imperfections in life itself and coming back stronger in the weaknesses. This is a metaphor for porcelain patterns reflecting that life is beautiful and fragile.


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To the Land Where the Ponga Tree Grows: inspired by the famous Owl and the Pussycat poem by Edward Lear. By depicting the Owl and the Pussycat in the boat this design is focussed on the journeys that are part of life both internally and/or physically. The land and the sea are painted with a strong and obvious influence and celebration of the beauty of New Zealand colours and landscape, seas and skies. The use of gold has layered suggestions from the artist about what we can contribute, and also the value of compassion and charity as part of society. The ponga tree is a central and strong element, yet with its own twists and turns. The stones are indicative of being grounded and focussed, and again a nod of antipodean respect to rivers and coastlines of this wonderful country and landscape.


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Ruru Kakotea: the legend of Pounamu and perfected a faux finish technique for the polished and the uncut rock. Kakotea, a particular shade of greenstone, applied to the owl, along with faux wood and shell finishes to the eyes with glittered claws and pupils and plaited leather rope creates an oversized souvenir. A modern trinket for the supersized age of the last remaining native owl.


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Full Moon Ruru: Away from Auckland’s city glow, moonlight becomes obvious and a full moon shines a bright light over the bush, casting a blue hue over the world of the Ruru and other bush creatures. The dapple pattern that covers the owl is made up of different bush creatures representing what the Ruru may hunt.


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Geometric Owl: Inspired to explore abstract forms to create a composition in the style of geometric abstraction, the design draws on a palette of matte, metallic and fluorescent paints to bring a contemporary edge to the design. There was a dog and families day on at the Silo Park in the Wynard Quarter. Just as I clicked my first photo, a lady’s dog went behind the owl and crouched – much to the owner’s embarrassment. I was just laughing.


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BB-Owl: the shape of the owl makes a perfect BB8 owl.


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The Guardian: channels the delicate and intricate nature of patterns, using their natural language to converse with audiences. In honour of Child Cancer Foundation, Taren’s creation illustrates the concept of comfort for children and the families who walk alongside them on this journey. Drawing from her homeland Cambodia, and with respect to the symbolism of a mandala, Taren delved into her cultural roots to manifest a visual representation of inner strength and protection. It struck a chord with this young child – I was a bit slow clicking the shutter to catch the kiss.


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Big Hoot: A contemporary, colourful and abstract design. This owl features bright geometric graphics in an Aztec style and is the iconic face of the Haier Big Hoot Bold and exciting, the Big Hoot owl celebrates creativity and imagination, and was designed by OWB in the UK for the Haier Big Hoot art trail.


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Hipster Hoot Hipster Hoot is inspired by independent thinkers, dreamers and creativity. Hipster Hoot is trendy, hip and fun!


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Athena of Aotearoa: In Greek mythology, the owl is the symbol for Athena, the goddess of wisdom. Anna’s design celebrates the beauty of multi-culturism with the Land of the Long White Cloud.


 Two I’d wished I’d seen – and we were only about 100m away from them!

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My new toy

Paid for today. Name to be decided.


Photo courtesy of D.C.’s camera. Photo courtesy of Andreas of Scootling. Red face courtesy of a very hot sticky day with a lot of walking (and a little bit of riding through Bunnings’ carpark.) As D.C. said, I was chuffed to finally find an e-scooter that I liked – two weeks after the Pink Purrer died.

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