Friday, 29 November 2013

FSO - People at Work

Even at a distance these two farmers don't appear to be working very hard.  But inspecting the turnip crop to check the strike rate is important work. 

Farmers in a local parade, not exactly at work but showing how they and their dogs can control those sheep even in difficult situation. 

Little people dream about the work they will do when they are big people:


I imagine many little people dream about this guy's job:

Mussel boat crewmen:

I'm looking forward to visiting the FSO team to find the Spotlight photos this week.  They will be here.

Monday, 25 November 2013

The break in

I woke to the sound of someone breaking into my house. Luckily before I could feel alarmed, two little girls clad in their pjs burst into my bedroom laughing and chattering.  Through my half asleep fog I could make out random words - tent, dog, pancakes.  I think the story was they had slept in the tent, the pup had woken them early so they had walked to my place to make pancakes.  

They made me coffee and mixed the pancake batter while I got dressed.  We had nice pancakes for breakfast, then as quickly as they had appeared, they were gone again, off through the paddock, walking home. 

If they are going to make a habit of breaking into houses, they will have to learn how to be a bit less conspicuous.

The bull is messing with my chooks

I don't know who got the biggest fright, the chooks or the bull.

It was early evening and the chooks had gone into the coop to settle down for the night.  The bull decided the coop looked like something good to have a rub against.  He startled the chooks who squarked and flapped and erupted from the coop right under his nose.  I don't think he' a very bright bull, when I went outside to see what all the noise was about, he was standing there looking puzzled, then looked at me as if I were the culprit. 

His mate had scarpered off in consternation but was keeping a keen eye on me.

Young bulls make entertaining neighbours!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Picnic at the creek

A lovely warm,. sunny Saturday and what better way to spend it than with the family at the creek?  Nearly 15 year old teenagers could probably think of lots.  It's not easy enjoying yourself while maintaining your teenage dignity.

Even if there's no-one of importance (eg friends or boys) around to see you, you have to practise looking good.

You even have to trust a parent with your phone for a few minutes.  A split second after I took this, the phone was in the drink.  Luckily, Heather re-acted quickly and fished it out before damage was done.  I wish I'd had the camera focused on Krystal's face!

While the ten year olds are noisily enjoying themselves:

the phone once again distracts the teenager.   (I will try to keep this image of her wearing my hat out of my mind next time I wear it!) 

She then distracts herself with my camera (and her dad's boots).

Pointing it up and down at random:

But eventually the sounds of fun from the young ones draws her back to the water and she deigns to join them.

And when the real fun starts, she totally forgets she is a cool teenager.

 Roll on summer!

Friday, 22 November 2013

FSO - My Weakness

The idea is to show you in pics My Weakness, the place my car wants to stop when I’m driving around.  Someplace I just can't resist stopping?

With me, no matter what town I’m in, the only place that would hold that sort of attraction for me would be a church (or somewhere with good coffee).  I’m almost at the point where I’m over churches, almost but not quite, the attraction isn’t as strong as it used to be but it’s still there.  These days the smaller the size, the more modest it is, the more neglected it looks, the greater the appeal. 

I'll show you my latest find.  On my last trip to Taranaki I pulled off the highway in search of coffee – and found a church.   Just an ordinary little wooden church.  Nice, I thought.  

 St Pauls Anglican Church, Urenui

But it doesn’t compare to some of the sorry sights I’ve seen in churchyards in the north.   


Nor do its surroundings compare to this:

I’m sure there are some like that in Taranaki and with my impending retirement from the workplace, I intend to find them.

I wonder what weaknesses the other FSO participants will reveal about themselves.  I'll be looking here.  Why don't you pop in for a visit, too?

Friday, 15 November 2013

FSO - My Choice

For "Your Choice" I thought I'd just show you some of the photos I've taken this week.

It's spring and the main topic this week with Georgia and me has been birds, their nests, eggs and babies.   

 Baby thrush in back yard

We're not sure what bird this nest belonged to.  There were two chicks in it yesterday, they are gone today.  And we never got to see the mother.  The nest is in a huge hedge of wild roses.

 We are not very impressed with the starlings.  They collect dry grass with great enthusiasm and deposit it in the letter box but their nest making skills leave a lot to be desired.  

Georgia and I have made a nest, even we do better than those lazy starlings.

We don't appear to have many swallows this year.  That must leave more food for the few that are around.  This one looks like s/he's eating well.

And then there's the chooks.  (I think it's only Aussies and Kiwis who call hens chooks.)  Those little bantams I got as week old chicks in February are not fully functioning adults and we have a fair few new chicks.   Each afternoon Georgia and I do the rounds of feeding the chooks:

And checking on the baby chickens.  It's a bit hard to see them in the long grass.  But I'm glad they have the long grass to hide them from hawks.

Georgia can tell you all their names.  I think this chick is Angel.

 I'm an old grump when it comes to spring weather but I think the worst of it is over and it's now a perfect time of year.  The countryside looks good and I'm happy in my world of simple pleasures.

I look forward to seeing what the rest of the team has chosen this week of "Your Choice".  They will be here if you'd like to check them out.

Monday, 11 November 2013


Back in 1983 when I travelled from Stratford in Taranaki through to Taumarunui it really was like passing through a forgotten world, a torturous and in places dangerous drive.  They know a thing or two about marketing in this part of the world and now travelling the Forgotten World Highway, New Zealand oldest Heritage Trail, is something of a tourist attraction. I think "highway" is a stretch of the imagination.  It's a pretty narrow and winding road that wriggles its way over four mountain saddles and through very beautiful scenery.  If you are in a hurry you can drive the whole route in three hours, but then, if you are in a hurry don’t drive there at all since it will be just a waste of your time. You have to take your time in order to truly feel and experience the “Forgotten” part of it.  It took me about three hours just to reach Whangamomona.

From the top of this ragged saddle, on a clear day, I'd be able to see the three volcanoes of Tongariro National Park to the east and the snow-topped cone of Mount Taranaki to the west. I went on the wrong day but will be back another time, on a day the weather is better and I get out of bed earlier so I can do the entire route.

Forgotten World Highway pic1

From another saddle, a good view of the railway line.  The road is off to the left a bit.


 I only went as far as this bridge on the far side of Whangamomona.

In the township I'd visited the two churches (and the pub for a cup of coffee).  The first was locked but a friendly local informed me (by shouting from his passing utility) that the other wasn't.  The timber lining the walls of St Johns Anglican church was kauri, I think, gave a lovely warm feeling which the red around the windows enhanced.  I'm one of those tourists who doesn't like sharing my experiences with other tourists.  I wanted to tell the bunch of Australians who were there at the same time to go away.

 There was a mechanical workshop next to the church.  Two men, dressed in identical blue check shirts and jeans (same as the guy in the ute, I guessed they were part of the town's tourist attractions) were busy inspecting this van.  Yeah, really! 

The residents of this tiny settlement declared it a republic in 1989 after disapproving of local government plans to shift the area’s district boundaries. Since that time every two years, in January Whangamomona celebrate its Republic Day. Thousands of visitors gather there to receive their Whangamomona passport.  The main event of this day is town’s new president election! … among former presidents were a poodle and a goat. 

Taking what they call a rail cart along decommissioned railway lines, through tunnels, over bridges and rivers is an alternative way to travel this route.  I had to go like the clappers to get ahead of these three to find a spot to photograph them coming towards me.  There were two passengers in each and they waved happily, obviously enjoying themselves.  I think they were the Australians I'd seen at the church. 

Friday, 8 November 2013

FSO - Black and white landscape

I'm too old to spend time doing what doesn't interest me and my aging body does not like sitting for too long at a time.  I admire people who can put in the time editing and processing their photos to produce works of art but that's not what pushes my buttons, I leave it to those who enjoy doing it. 

In short, I only half accept this week's challenge.  I'll give it a quick go but won't spend too long at it. 

On Monday I spent some time switching between normal and black and white settings on the camera.  Since then I've changed some of the photos to black and white in Picasa.  I like the outcome on this one.  I think the little mangrove stumps look more dramatic in black and white.


The rest I simply took in black and white mode.  Normally I wouldn't stop on this corner as the view isn't very interesting.  I think it looks better in black and white than it actually does in real life.

I like black and white photos when there are obvious contrasts.  I think b & w accentuates the difference between these two neighbouring houses at the beach - the big and modern and the small and unpretentious.  I think it also draws the attention to the difference between the spikey plants and the soft and rounded.

Approaching home I came across a turkey posing on a fence post.  It stayed there while I drew up alongside, while I picked up the camera and turned it on, while I wound down the car window.  And then flew off as I clicked.   It's not a shot I'd normally take in black and white but I like it.  And I like that the turkeys in the long grass in the foreground look kinda creepy and prehistoric!

 I'm sure the rest of the FSO participants will follow Mersad's tutorial more closely than I did.  I look forward to seeing them all and hope the Spotlighting isn't too difficult.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

We went for a party

It was my son-in-law's 40th birthday party that took us all south to Taranaki.  As he's Canadian, he decided to have a Canadian theme party.   The team from the north decided to dress up as an ice hockey team (how do you like that fearsome hockey stick?) with our own cheerleaders.  It was a team effort by Heather and me to get those uniforms ready, lots of hours sewing, painting on lines and drawing logos.  Heather finding the helmets in the $2 shop was a real stroke of luck.

Let me declare that I have now worn shorts for the last time in this lifetime!

I stayed on when the rest of the visitors returned home.  Bill and his brother, who was visiting from Canada, took off for a tiki tour, so I kept Justine company.  She was selling her cupcakes at a local garden in the Powerco Taranaki Garden Spectacular so I got to visit some really impressive gardens.   Shame the mountain was hidden by cloud most of the days I was there.  
Stanleigh garden where Justine set up shop 

I would have been happy to camp in the little cottage in the garden.  Cute, huh?  The cottagbe, not me, silly!

Mangaoraka Terraces

 King's Garden

On Saturday I had Aiden for company and, as luck would have it, chose the perfect garden to visit with a little boy.

The first part of the garden we saw didn't promise much excitement for a boy.

But luckily I am always attracted to the sound of running water and we discovered a little stream with steps leading down to it, bridges across it , then more steps up the other side. By the time we came to about the third bridge Aiden was striding across the bridges with great confidence.

 I used to love to take the twins and Georgia on Bear Hunts.  Do you know that book, "We're going on a bear hunt, we're not scared"?  They may have grown up a lot since then but I don't think I have.  Aiden and I had an exciting bear hunt.  He was a fearless bear hunter, brushing aside the undergrowth and encouraging me to "Come on, Granny, come on!"

Running on ahead to make sure there were no bears.

We didn't see a single soul in this wild part of the garden.  Just as well, we were a bit noisy.  We ended up coming to the very back of the garden and a sign declaring the garden beyond had been abandoned and would be redeveloped in the future.  Two year olds can't read but know a good bear garden when they see one, we ventured in.  

 And we found the bear hut!

 That was the best day out I've had in a long time.

I think it was later that day that the mountain almost came out of hiding.