Friday, December 9, 2016


It's raining. Summer.

I am reliably informed that there are 15 more sleeps until Christmas.

I'm still dealing with birthdays - grandson's yesterday, daughter's coming up on Monday.

I have done no Christmas shopping, neither presents or food. 
I am hosting Christmas dinner this year.

Mr A has shingles. Not too badly it seems, at the moment, but even so - shingles.

I have been working full-time as a national examination centre manager for the last six weeks (finished now, thank heavens!)

Yup - it's the festive season.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Spring, 2016

It's the 3rd of September - the third day of spring. Hoorah!

Last spring my newly planted magnolia tree had but one bloom on it - and that was quickly destroyed by strong winds.

This year, there are nine. Here are two of them, plus a guest appearance from Sammy:

Monday, August 8, 2016

Reflective: TP 379

Carmi's new Thematic Photographic topic is 'Reflective' (see here).

This time last year I was in Scotland, and I've been reflecting on how very much I would like to be back there, instead of here in month 3 of a southern hemisphere winter! (Although if I'm honest, it's about the same temperature here now as it was there last year...)

You've probably all seen the one of the colourful buildings in Tobermory, on Mull, 
but having taken it myself makes it special:

More shots of the beautiful Scottish countryside. The first two were taken travelling 
between Thurso and Skye, the other on Skye.

I'm glad it wasn't bright blue and sunny - that wouldn't have 
been how I have always imagined Scotland.



And the photographer - being reflective.

Monday, June 20, 2016

THematic Photographic: Lightbulbs

I haven't taken part in Carmi's Thematic Photographic for some time. Must try harder!

The latest theme is Lightbulbs, so I found some bulbs to show you.

This bulb would light up quite a few homes at once:

Awhitu Lighthouse, New Zealand

Lots of little bulbs can be effective, too:

Westfield Mall, Shepherd's Bush, London     

A fantastic lit-up slogan for a brilliant museum:

Victoria and Albert Museum, London

University students singing by the banks of the River Douro:

Porto, Portugal

And beautiful lightbulbs in Casablanca, Morocco:

Mosque of Hassan II

For some more lightbulbs, visit Written.Inc

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Sunday Snapshot

Winter morning, by the lake.

Hamilton, New Zealand


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Sunday Snapshot

Samantha, my 7-month old kitten, enjoying a patch of sun on the rug.


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 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.

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.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Bone Clocks

This morning I finished, sadly, the best book I've read in a very long time: 
David Mitchell's The Bone Clocks. 

It was astonishing, brilliant... awesome, in the true meaning of that word.

If you are at all interested in speculative fiction, you should read it. As soon as possible!

I want to quote a paragraph which I find myself thinking about repeatedly.

The book's events begin in 1984, and end in 2043. One of the main characters (I won't tell you the character's name, as I don't want to risk any spoilers), says this in October 2043:

(I felt) "grief for the regions we deadlanded, the ice caps we melted, the Gulf Stream we redirected, the rivers we drained, the coasts we flooded, the lakes we choked with crap, the seas we killed, the species we drove to extinction, the pollinators we wiped out, the oil we squandered, the drugs we rendered impotent, the comforting liars we voted into office - all so that we didn't have to change our cosy lifestyles... 
My generation were diners stuffing ourselves senseless at the Restaurant of the Earth's Riches knowing - while denying - that we'd be doing a runner and leaving our grandchildren a tab that can never be paid."

In spite of what I have quoted here, this book is not a diatribe or polemical. It's a 
wonderful, gripping story, written by an extremely gifted author.