Friday, 31 August 2012

FSO–Black and White

I set my camera for black and white before I left for my walk last Sunday.  I was headed for the old haybarn, a couple of hundred metres from my house.  

You wouldn't believe how long it took me to get there.  To start with I had to pick my way along a very muddy track but it wasn't that which took up the time.  It was the distractions, the numerous things that had to be looked at closer, snapped from this angle and that in case they had the black and white "it" factor.  I hadn't even left the paddock before I discovered potential subjects.  This is the far corner of my back yard, seen from outside the fence.

There were bits and pieces here and there.  Wire against a pallet:

An electric fence reel laying on the ground:

All sorts of things:

My path took me past the cowshed, a veritable feast of distractions.  I can't count how many shots I took, everything is pretty well black and white there anyway.  I've had such a hard time deciding which shots to use.  Inside:

or outside?  Why not both?

Then there was the old loading ramp:

beside Jack's kennel.  Even Jack was not spared.  Not impressed.  He's pretty hard to impress is Jack.

Right, we are getting closer to that old barn, just the old pigsty to look at first:

and the silage stack, the cover held neatly in place with all those old tyres:

Finally, the haybarn:

With its big round bales of hay:

Just one more, the trees at the back of the barn.

I've been in black and white mode all week, too.  It's quite addictive I find.

Can't wait to see what the rest of the team has to share this week!  They will be here.

Friday, 24 August 2012

FSO - Favourite Vacation Spots

The question was asked: 
Where do you love to vacation?
Do you go on vacation to rest and relax...
or do you DO vacation and keep busy with activities? 
For me, there are vacation categories.  Next year I will have a BIG vacation to a foreign land and I will do the whole tourist thing.  Most of the time, though, I take my annual leave in short breaks, three days here, four days there.  Some of them are for family things.  In a couple of weeks I will spend a week in Taranaki helping look after my little grandson while his mum is away. Last time I was there, at the beginning of May, the first snow of the season fell on the mountain.  

Each year I have a mid-winter break with a friend.  This is always an 'escape ' in the North, a time of no rules, do what we feel like doing, we wander and explore in our own fashion.  This year we went to a spot that we discovered last year.  A beautiful, unspoiled, isolated place with few people.  Very few.   This is my favourite sort of vacation spot.

I wonder if there are others who would choose this sort of vacation?  I'll be able to find out by having a look at the rest of the FSO team.  

Friday, 17 August 2012

FSO–The work you do

I rarely refer to the work for which I am paid – and that’s the only work I think of as work - I’d upset someone… somehow… for sure.   Everything else I just play at.  If  I set out to do something and at the end of the day it is done, I guess that would qualify as work.  But if I find a hundred distractions between starting and finishing the job,  the work factor seems diminished.  Windows need cleaning?  I can start on Saturday morning and maybe they will be finished by Sunday evening.  And if they’re not….so what?  They will be finished some other time.  I no longer have what I was once so proud of – a work ethic!

The definition I have fixed on is: physical or mental effort directed towards doing or making something.  A little while ago I was having trouble finding the appropriate word to use in everyday speech and remembering names, which I’d never been all that good at, so a bit of a slip was most unwelcome.  I often remember names by remembering the nicknames I have given people first.  But when I almost blurted out the nickname in place of the name, it was very nearly one of those embarrassing moments with which even Minties can’t help.   Since then I’ve scheduled a little brain and memory test time into each evening. 

(I'd love to know if anyone can find that five letter word.) 

I have a rather advanced exercise schedule.  Intense workout, followed by a gentle wind down (reading), then a total unwind (knitting).  A totally knackered brain could never have worked out a workout like that!

Made short work of that topic, didn’t I?

The rest of the FSO team will show us their work here.  It will be interesting to see how others have approached the topic.

Monday, 13 August 2012

And still it rains

I rang the council this afternoon.  I wanted an email address where I could send some photos of the condition of our road in one particular place.  Actually I rang two councils because we live quite close to the boundary and I feel both sides of the boundary are in need of attention.  I must give credit for the customer service at both offices.  It was obvious the young lady who answered the phone at the smaller council, responsible for the bigger problem, was not going to put me through to anyone else or give me an email address - she was going to take care of my problem.  She gave me every impression that she would.  So I will watch with interest to see what happens at this spot along the road.  

It doesn't take a lot of rain for there to be water across the road at this spot but usually it's just an overflow of the water that runs down off a hill and accumulates at the side of the road. 

Recent heavy rain, though, has made the water so impatient to escape from this side to the other, that it has gouged out a little drain for itself.  And it cuts neatly right across the road, there's no going around it.  It gives you quite a jolt if you don't slow down enough.

It was flowing freely this afternoon but I thought it would still be a while before it cleared that pool of water - and it has been raining again since.

This is where the water is flowing to.  The creek is in the background, the foreground is overflow. 

At the other larger council I was put through to a man who, when I said who I was and where I lived said, "How's the potholes?"   He was relieved to hear things were worse on "the other side of the border!"  Thinking about our conversation I realize he was charming, but made no promises - I must be getting soft!

Thanks to Heather I have a few photos of here on the farm.  There's no way I could get to where these were taken without some serious wading - and I am far too soft for that.

Just stay in the middle between the two fences and you should get through.

Turn right at the end, through this last bit of water, and up the hill and head for home.

It must stop raining soon!  But I heard a long term forecast that said it would continue to be extra-ordinarily wet right through to October.  That will be a real test of farmers' resiliance!

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Awww….he’s gone!

I'll see him again in around three weeks, and then I'll have him all to myself for a few hours each day.  Can't wait. This little man brings such joy and laughter into my life.  I feel like Miranda's mother, it's all such fun!



A cousin and a dog to run with, what more could a little boy want?

"Oops, fell in the mud." Never mind, there are plenty of distractions.

"What's that on the other side, Georgia?"

You can't help but smile when you watch a young child discover a new world.   And renew acquaintances with adoring girl cousins. 

Yesterday we had a belated birthday lunch for Georgia then Justine took family groups photos of Heather and the girls.  I got to take photos of them while they were being photographed.  (I'm sure Justine wouldn't have chopped off Heather's head.) 

And I got one shot I'm really pleased with.  Shayde does like like the camera pointed in her direction, she freezes and it's awfully hard to get a natural shot of her.   But I caught her while she was laying on the floor, concentrating on playing marbles.  If only that child knew how lovely she is, she wouldn't be so camera shy. 

shayde 12 Aug

Friday, 10 August 2012

FSO - Children

I've been looking forward to this topic!

My youngest grandchild will be here later today.  Hopefully I will be able to add one of him at the end. If I remember - he is quite a distraction!

So I just have a couple of recent photos of Georgia.  Love that farm-hat.

And some taken last weekend up north of two little families enjoying a winter Saturday morning. 

To see what great children shots the rest of the team has found, just pop over here.

And here he is - my little man, out exploring the farm soon after arrival.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Paul & Tanya at Utea

Before I bore everyone with even more of my hundreds of photos taken during my break in the north, I simply must let anyone who might plan a stay up north know about Utea Park.  

Paul and Tanya are hosts with the Far North touch.  There is nothing learned or contrived about their hospitality.  They are a humble, down to earth, hard working couple who are creating their dream to share their piece of paradise with like minded people.  Their welcome is warm and just wraps around you, so that you know they are happy you are there and enjoying what they love.

Their property sits alongside Utea Pa and takes its name from that landmark.  And it's from the top of the pa that you get the best view of what they have to offer. 

Our little cabin was beside their home (on the right of the shot).  A bit closer to the beach is what they refer to as the Club house or the Common Room with cooking facilites, showers and toilets.  And the little huts.

The Common Room can be used by anyone staying in the huts or camping in the grounds.

So, if you like a bed but don't mind sharing your cooking and bathroom facilities, these cute little huts would be ideal.

They are just big enough to hold a double bed and bunks.  All the buildings are new and built by Paul, just bring your own blankets.  Our little cabin was surprisingly warm, so I'd say the huts are too.

And the charge?  There is no charge.  Just a sign by the entry that says:

I'm not going to try to explain the meaning of the Maori custom of Koha but Wikipedia says:  From a very practical standpoint, if visitors came a calling, the host was expected to provide hospitality of food, beds in the communal sleeping hall and appropriate attention and honours – something that could be difficult in lean times when food was scarce, so a visiting party might offer food as Koha.  So Paul and Tanya offer shelter to anyone who seeks it but if the recipient of their hospitality had something to offer to repay them for their kindness, they would accept it.  Paul told us when we met him last year that they appreciated native plants as Koha so that was what we took.

They don't advertise their park anywhere, no website, just a phone number.  Perhaps one day they will become more commercial but I hope not.   Word will spread amongst those who love places like this - I know it!

taking it easy at the top of the pa

Monday, 6 August 2012

Utea Park

Te Oneroa a Tohe (the long beach of Tohe) really does look to be 90 miles long when you step on to it at a point where it stretches away into the distance both north and south.  Apparantly in the days when travel was by horseback an average horse could travel 30 miles in a day before needing a rest.  So, because it took 3 days to travel from one end to the other, it was called 90 Mile Beach.    They didn't take into account the slower pace of the horses walking in sand - the beach is really 55 miles (88 km) long.  

Looking south:

Looking north.  That is Chris off in the distance.

It just looks like an endless stretch of sand flanked on one side by the Tasman Sea and sand dunes leading to the Aupouri Forest on the other.  But there is plenty to look at.  There is the occasional seashell that is different from those we are used to seeing on the east coast.  The sea weed is different and the kelp impressive.  

The only drift wood is the big stuff left by the last big storm.  But some of it has been there long enough for Jayden to find it and leave his mark.

 There weren't many birds, just one flock of gulls.

And then there are the little mysteries.  There weren't a lot of these things but every now and then there would be a bunch.  Some bunches only had three 'things', some had a dozen or more.

Thanks, CJ, for identifying yesterdays kelp eating things.  Jumping kelp bugs describes them perfectly. What do you think these are?

For someone seeking a quiet place to ponder the grandeur and beauty of nature there can be no better place, with only the roar of the sea to distract you.  The beach was a bit busier at low tide with mussel spat harvesting going on but at high tide there was glorious solitude.

We stayed in a little cabin at Utea Park.  There was no power but a gas stove for cooking and plenty of hot water - what more do you need?

When I lifted my head while laying on the bed and reading on Friday afternoon, this is what I saw.

And, at the end of the day as darkness gathered, rather than turning on a light, we sat and watched The Nature Show.

 I certainly don't need anything more than that.