Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A flash of colour...

For this week's Thematic Photographic I found some of the shots from my October holiday week in the small North Island city of New Plymouth, one of my favourite places. 
Most of the week it rained - heavily. One day I saw an old church building beside the petrol station, with a "Craft Shop" sign. Inside it was so bright and colourful that it warmed and cheered me straight away:

Downtown in the city, there is this rather bizarre clock tower. Weird, but I like it:

The area is renowned for its many beautiful gardens, some of which are open to the public. 
At Tupare Garden were these gorgeous echiums:

And at Hollard Gardens I loved this bright rhododendron against the green lawns and shrubs:

Sunday, November 27, 2011

No entry

You shall not enter, the way is blocked:
farm gate, Cape Egmont, Taranaki, October 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


The theme this week is an understandable choice for Carmi at Written Inc. I've been feeling rather muted myself, as I mark the 3rd anniversary of the death of someone I loved greatly. It doesn't get any easier.

For this motif I have picked some peaceful, quiet shots - they fit my idea of 'muted'.

Late afternoon, winter, school playing fields

Lighthouse, Cape Egmont, New Zealand

Winter morning, Whangaroa

Lake Taupo, New Zealand

Evening light, Lake Rotorua


"Let us learn to appreciate there will be times when the trees will be bare, and look forward to the time when we may pick the fruit"
~ Anton Chekhov

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


This Thematic Photographic theme sent me wandering off for pics of things which the word classic suggested. But no cars; I'll leave them to Max :)
Wikipedia says: "The word classic means something that is a perfect example of a particular style, something of lasting worth or with a timeless quality. It denotes a particular quality in art, architecture, literature and other cultural artifacts."

Classic beauty

Classic book

Classic children's book

Classic movie

I could have gone on along that track for some time: instead, I thought I might find some photos of classic architecture from my own albums. Here are some buildings I have visited, all different, all classic:

La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

Erechtheion, Acropolis, Athens
St Peter's, Rome

Duomo, Milan

Topkapi Palace, Istanbul

Mausoleum of Ataturk, Ankara
 Hope you enjoyed my classic offerings. For more, go here.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

At the Art Gallery

Yesterday, finally, I made the trip to Auckland to see the newly-revamped City Art Gallery
(I wanted to wait until the Rugby World Cup was over
and there weren't crowds of tourists around).
They have redecorated the old building beautifully, but the most stunning feature is the see-through glass atrium which is full height,
and which brings the park on the hillside right indoors.

The most stunning new work is this enormous kinetic floral sculpture, the flowers of which gently open and close randomly. LED lights in and around the blooms illuminate it at night.

This work, by Choi Jeong Hwa of South Korea, is called Flower Chandelier, and was specifically designed for the Gallery's north atrium. It is clearly visible from the street outside, brightening up even an overcast spring day, as this one was:

Another work by the same artist, Red, occupies the reflection pool in the forecourt at the front entrance to the Gallery.

A feature I found really lovely was the wooden roof and overarching "awning" as you approach the doors:

And what is there to see inside? That will have to wait for another post.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Gunpowder, Treason, and Plot

Guy Fawkes
One of the many stupid "traditions" which we in this country inherited from our British forefathers is the commemoration on November 5th every year of a failed act of terrorism. Guy Fawkes, says Wikipedia, "became synonymous with the Gunpowder Plot, the failure of which has been commemorated in England since 5 November 1605. His effigy is often burned on a bonfire, commonly accompanied by a firework display." 
Last night was the usual sort of early spring evening - cold, occasionally showery, and very windy. There were continuous cracks, booms and bangs all over the neighbourhood for 3 or 4 hours, much to the dismay of Sophie the cat and Manu LeGrand, her canine buddy. When we had horses which we grazed near town, we used to ride them out into the coutry to a friend's farm for the week leading up to the 5th.

At 3.00 am we were woken by a phone call from our adult daughter, sobbing with despair and begging us to come over. Terrified (she hadn't been able to tell us what was wrong), we dressed warmly and made the 10 minute drive to her house, speculating that something had happened to one of the children (11 months and 2½) or to her husband, who is working in New Caledonia for 6 weeks.  We got there to find 2 fire engines and a police car in attendance.
Their house is at the side of the playing fields of a primary (elementary) school, and at about 2.20 she had been woken by a loud BANG on the roof of the garage. Looking out of the window, she saw flames and smoke on a corner of the garage roof, a mere 18 metres or so from her bedroom. Calling 111 as she ran, out she went, got the hose, and played water on the roof until it went out. Then she saw flickering through the window of the garage, and realised the flames had got inside. She was trying to put that out when the firemen arrived. The kids had slept through the whole thing.

A rogue firework, you'll be thinking - a rocket which was blown onto the roof by the wind. They happen every year, and start grass and shed fires all round the country. That wouldn't be so bad. No, someone had thrown 2 molotov cocktails from the school playground onto the roof. One had landed, the other had gone right over on to the driveway, and had not exploded. While she was hosing the roof she heard voices which she described 
to the police as "young males". 

These kids will probably never be caught. 

I cannot put into words what I think of them - I am too tired. None of us got any more sleep, of course, and it's been a long day. All I can do is be thankful that none of my precious family was hurt, and that they threw onto the garage and not the house. 
I hope that was a deliberate choice.

To know what is right and not do it is the worst cowardice.  ~Confucius

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Bricks and Mortar

A new TP - and this time it's Bricks and Mortar. This is great - I get another chance to post some of the beautiful structures I've seen in Europe over the last couple of years.
Firstly off to Montserrat, north of Barcelona in Spain. The beautiful Benedictine monastery and church are on the top of a mountain 1236 meters (4055 ft) above the valley floor. Montserrat is the highest point of the Catalan lowlands, and is an important shrine to the Catalonian people. I was there at Easter last year, and although I'm not Catholic I loved the spiritual atmosphere of this beautiful spot. 


My second stop is Meteora, in the north of Greece, which I visited on the same trip. The area is famous for the monasteries which sit perched on the very top of high mountains. It is an amazing place.
At Varlaam Monastery, built in 1350, they used to winch supplies up to the monks - it took 22 years to hoist all of the building materials for the three churches, the monks' cells - and a water tank.
Seven monks live there today.

This lovely little chapel is at another Meteora monastery, St Stephen's, built around 1400. 
It is now a nunnery.

This year I visited Milan; these two piles of bricks and mortar are both part of the Castello Sforzesco,  
once the seat of the Duchy of Milan, now a museum and art gallery.

While in Italy I also went to Lucca, and it was one of the highlights of my trip. Here are two 
not-so-majestic bricks and mortar pictures:

Thanks for re-visiting these lovely places with me; looking back on travel pictures immediately takes me back to the moment, the feelings, the atmosphere. Thanks to Carmi at Written Inc for this Thematic Photographic opportunity!