Saturday, April 9, 2016

It’s a Donkey’s Life

I saw a photo of some healthy, well-cared for donkeys on Karen S's blog, 21 Wits, and it made me think of the donkeys I'd seen in Europe and North Africa last year. 
I don't think their lives are so happy.

Fez, Morocco

Mijas, near Marbella in Spain

As in many countries, there is a donkey sanctuary and protection agency in New Zealand.

Sunday, April 3, 2016


The capital city of this small country is one of my favourite places, and I visit as often as I can.
I'd live there if I could. The city is small and intimate, virtually everything interesting is within walking distance, the traffic's not (really) horrendous, and it's a very vibrant, art-filled and interesting place, with an excellent university.

I was there a few weeks ago. As usual, I paid a visit to Te Papa, the Museum of New Zealand. It's a stunning building, full of interesting spaces and excellent exhibitions.

In the entrance foyer, there's a huge escapee from the Lord of the Rings movies - Wellington is also the home of Weta Workshops, responsible for special effects for Avatar, Mad Max Fury Road and so many other films - see here.

This enormous artwork greets you at the entrance to the hall of Maori history:

I could spend all day on the top floors, which are given over to art:


My other must-visit is to Zealandia, a 225 ha (556 acres) wildlife reserve 10 minutes drive from the centre of the city. The highlight of this visit was meeting a pair of takahe (Notornis) which live there. Takahe were thought to be extinct until being rediscovered in a remote valley in 1948. In 1981 there were known to be only 112 birds; today there are 225. 

Puffin and T2 are now too old to breed, and live happily at Zealandia. In captivity the birds have been known to live over 20 years. Adults can weigh over 3 kg (7lb), and stand 50cm (20 inches) tall.

They are very tame - T2, the male, came right up to me as I sat on a bench.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Discerning Viewer

Sammycat often watches the television screen attentively. 

Here, she is taking in a David Attenborough classic on birds.

Apologies for the colour quality - these are taken at night, on my phone. 
I've tried to improve them in Photoshop, without much success (our walls are actually almost white, and the carpet is silvery grey!)

And here's one of my grandchildren, just because.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Road Tripping

Last week I drove down to New Plymouth, one of my favourite parts of the country.

I particularly wanted to see the new exterior of the city's Art Gallery, which has a permanent collection featuring the work of Len Lye, a kinetic sculptor and film-maker who was born in New Zealand but died an American citizen.

The exterior is astonishing, brilliant even on a grey day:

It was just as interesting inside, with the light coming in from the reflective panels:

One of the exhibition halls. The filaments all move and change position, creating a play
of sound as well as light.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A walk in the garden

Over the Christmas/New Year period I had to take one of our clients (I work for St John) over to Hamilton for dialysis several times. This always involves a very early start and then a wait of 5 - 6 hours before we head back home.

On the day after Boxing Day I had delivered her by 8.00 am, and I headed for the Hamilton Gardens, one of the most beautiful public gardens in this country. It was still lovely and cool, with a haze to the sky which would clear later to produce a blistering hot day.

Click on the photos to see them in more detail.

Part of the entrance-way:

You can visit a number of walled gardens reflecting the style of various countries. 
Romulus and Remus are outside the Italian garden:

A section of the colourful Indian garden:

Part of the lake in the Japanese garden:

A corner of the English garden:

And the way into the Maori food garden:

I loved this Alice in Wonderland sculpture:

On my way to the rose gardens, the colours of this bank of hydrangeas 
(not my favourite flowers) blew me away:

Of the roses, I really liked these three:


Lillian Austin

Eye of the Tiger

I really enjoyed my walk in the cool morning air, and a cup of 
good coffee on a deck overlooking the river:

"If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need"
~ Cicero

Friday, February 5, 2016

A dog's life

After a slow start, we are having a lovely hot summer. 

The best time of day to go for a walk is early in the morning:

Manu. Low tide at the estuary.

Another morning, early in January, when we were getting 
a flick from the tail of a tropical cyclone. 

It was fine and warm at the beach, but the sky looked angry:

The wind was getting up a little (click to see the flying ears):

Mayor Island (Tuhua) in the background.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

A new family member

This is Sammy. She's 3-4 months old, and very playful. 
She arrived yesterday from the SPCA, and has already taken control of the house.