Thursday, December 17, 2015

'Tis the season

It's not Christmas carols that remind me the Big Day is fast approaching.  My arum lily does that job for me.  


Not far from home the pohutukawa trees with their crimson flowers are living up to their title of the New Zealand Christmas. They are an unmistakable symbol of Christmas for New Zealanders at home and abroad.




Monday, December 14, 2015

Manuka in bloom

According to Maori folklore a long, hot summer is ahead when the manuka flowers early.  It's in almost full bloom at the moment and that is a bit early.  


That won't be good for the family from a farming point of view but we will have the perfect place for spending those long hot days.

Tomorrow my twin grand-daughters turn 17. Today my son and daughter-in-law are working flat out finishing a wooden deck alongside the dam, where the girls will gather their friends for their party.  The deck will for the base for what we will grandly call the Lake House.   It won't be flash but it will eventually offer shade from that hot, summer sun.  It's a work in progress.  


Danny and Heather have already built a wooden jetty for launching the raft they had a lot of fun building.  It makes the perfect runway for energetic young people to launch themselves. 



A couple of days ago the emphasis was on erecting and tweaking a flying fox.

 

My younger son has arrived home from Brasil, his girlfriend arrives later this week.  So this year all my family will be here for Christmas.  There will be camping beside the dam and lots of water based activities.  I am already happy imagining the fun the little boys will have with nets catching frogs and tadpoles.  

Let's hope the weather is agreeable.  

It's been nearly a month since my last post.  The break wasn't planned, my interest just waned.  I'll just wait till it waxes again.  Which probably makes no sense to anyone except me. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Selfies

I don't have the time or inclination for blogging right now.  I've been busy sewing and have a bit more to do before I'll be ready for Christmas.  But my mind does sometimes wander when I'm sewing.  That's no doubt why I have the odd creation disaster.

Anyway, yesterday I was thinking about the number of people I saw taking selfies and posing for photos when we stopped for a rest when my brother, s-in-law and I were visiting the Tapkapu Palace in Istanbul.

 



I wish this shot wasn't blurry as I was touched by the scene.  The handsome guard had been standing at attention, his face expressionless until this little girl stopped on the other side of the security rope and shyly asked could her photo be taken.  Sometimes you don't need to understand the language to know what's going on.  The guard indicated to her to come beside him, his face softened, he gave a half smile and his hand went across the end of his gun.  The little girl wouldn't go any closer or actually look at him but posed for her parents.  The minute the photo was taken he returned to his 'on duty' stance and didn't look even slightly amused when I went for broke and took another photo of him.  I thought it touching how different his attitude was to a child. 


 Here's another poser!


And always there is someone for whom it is all too much.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Old favourite places

The dam on the new block is a favourite spot with the grandchildren but, for me, the creek is still the best.  I took a walk along its banks one evening a couple of days ago.   I'd been sewing all day, and I hadn't produced what I'd hoped.  In fact I threw the outcome into the bin in disgust.  I still can't figure out where I went wrong but there's no doubt I did.  Go wrong, that is.  Twice.  After I stuffed it up the first time I unpicked it and tried again.  Couldn't believe I made exactly the same mistake again. 

The sound of water running gently over rocks was just what I needed.  I sat for a while near the spot where another little stream falls into the creek. 

 

I wandered on (and scrambled in parts) enjoying the reflections where the water was calmer.





On the way home I stopped by the dam to see how much the baby mallards had grown.  There's one that is so much braver than the others which hide in the rushes the minute I arrive.  Or maybe less smart as it took very little notice of me.  It has yet to learn about Stranger Danger.  It did, however, stay on the far side of the water.  I had to sit patiently for ages until it came a little closer.


Not close, but close enough.  I had to crop the shot and am more than happy with it.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Roll on summer

Work has started on the site for the "Lake House" and adjacent camping sites.  While my son levelled off the ground, his daughters had fun swimming in the dam. 






I predict lots of fun at the dam this summer.


Sunday, November 8, 2015

The week

My back demanded that I have a blogging break and my conscience joined in.  Why I should feel guilty about spending too much time dwelling on my holiday is beyond me.  Can't argue with Catholic guilt, it's always lurking. 

This week's drive to my exercise class came with a big surprise.  Only a few hundred metres down the road from my place I came around a corner and had a What the ....moment.  There in the paddock was a house where no house used to be.  I had my little moment of hearing the Dubliners singing "Ah you're drunk, you're drunk, you silly old fool."    

Thinking I had plenty of time, I stopped for a photo.  Big mistake.  Just ahead the house removal truck had just pulled out of the driveway followed by a service vehicle.   There was no way around that truck, it crawled along and stopped before approaching the single lane bridges.  It was so wide it barely fitted, I wasn't at all surprised the driver approached with such caution.  


There's a new building taking shape in the regular fashion near where I take my exercise.  Word is that it's a new gym. 


It's a bit hard to see what it's going to look like just yet.

    

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Is the Big Dry coming?

There have been an increasing amount of talk about a "big dry" summer ahead for us - El Nino at work.  In case the experts are right I thought I better get in a few shots of all the greenery while I can, a farm girl with a camera's equivalent of squirreling away some nuts.

There are two sets of mallard ducklings on the dam.  I've visited there a number of times hoping to get some photos but they are too wary.  I sit and hope they will get used to my presence but there's no chance of that the way their parents carry on.  Then I feel guilty about causing the parents so much anguish and leave them in peace.  

 This is the best I've been able to do so far.


That's the dam in my header.  It's in a sheltered, tranquil spot any day but particularly on a still day.  There are plans afoot to move an old farm shed onto the banks to make a "Lake House" for camping.
 

A few paddocks have been ploughed and sewn with summer crops so a little more rain would be appreciated at this stage.  The ploughed paddocks contrast nicely with the grassy paddocks and darker green of the forest and grey-green of the forest hills beyond.

Monday, November 2, 2015

War Beaches

Despite all its sombre reminders of the shattering war effort, Arromanches has a good deal of charm. 


Standing on the foreshore with all its natural beauty it is difficult to imagine the scenes of chaotic conflict which unfolded on its shores 70 years ago.  The reminders are there but there's no way I can comprehend the scale of it.  A temporary harbor was built here by the British in World War II to quickly offload cargo onto the beaches during the Allied invasion of Normandy.  Its remains are still there. A staggering 2.5 million men, 500,000 vehicles and 4 million tonnes of supplies was unloaded here. Makes my head spin!

  

I was touched by the flags of the Allies that are flying in these small beach communities.


The wind was more than a little chilly when we took a very quick walk on Omaha Beach, another D-Day Landing beach.  At the time I honestly did not notice that canine visitor at the bottom of the shot.


Sunday, November 1, 2015

Bayeux

The Bayeux Tapestry is what attracted us to this area of Normandy in northwest France, although we found a heck of a lot more there to see.  My brother recommended a book about the tapestry for me to read before I left home.  Unlike when I was at school, I now find it a good idea to do my homework. 

Bayeux, just a few kilometers inland from the English Channel, is a petite French village that is home to a rather grand piece of history.  Its claim to fame is the centuries-old Bayeux Tapestry on display in its own museum in the center of town. 


Apparantly not everyone is an enthralled with the tapestry as I was, as I've read it is currently best known for its ties with World War II.  Bayeux was the first non-coastal town liberated, one day after the D-Day invasion but remarkably was spared the bomb damage which devastated so much of Europe (thanks to pleas from its clergy to the Allies). The old town has retained an enchanting medieval character with its famous Cathedrale Notre-Dame which was inaugurated by William the Conqueror himself, a native of the region, in 1077 A.D.   


The cathedral has been damaged by fires, repaired and expanded over the years. Inside it has magnificent arches, high ceilings and large stained glass windows. Outside it has flying buttresses which support the magnificent building.
 

 

The narrow curving streets of the village have charming shops and cafes and are very pleasant to stroll around although we'd still be there going in circles had I been driving.  

 

For our visit  to the tapestry we each had an audio guide which explains the details of the tapestry as you view it.  I did feel that the audio guides are on speed mode to pump through as many people as possible.   As we were unable to stop or pause the audioguide, we had to continue walking from each numbered spot to the next.  It would’ve been much better to be able to press play, pause it then have a look then start again but this would’ve started a backup of people if it was busy.  Lucky for us, it was far from busy while we were there and we could lean forward over the barrier to peer at the stitchwork up close.  It's a remarkable work of art.

The tapestry is 66 metres (over 200 feet) long and about 50 centimetres (around 20 inches) wide and has roughly 50 scenes on it. The scenes are embroidered on linen with coloured woollen yarns.  There are additional details in the top and bottom borders.  It is likely that it was commissioned by William the Conquerer's half-brother, and made in England—not Bayeux—in the 1070s.   It tells the story of events leading up to the Norman conquest of England, concerning William Duke of Normandy and Harold, Earl of Wessex, later King of England and culminating in the Battle of Hastings.  The detail is amazing with all sorts of gory details of battle shown even Harold with a Golden Arrow in his eye.

Photography of the tapestry was not permitted but I've found a couple of photos online: