Saturday, March 31, 2012

New tech test

Have updated to get camera on iPod. This might mean I can blog a few photos en route. I don't think I will upload camera photos while I am walking. Am afraid I might Doofus it and delete them off the memory card on a strange computer in another language!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

subtle autumn

It is all a wee bit strange at present, noticing just the first changes of autumn around me. So far, the changes have mainly been quite subtle, though in places the deciduous trees are starting to look more obviously autumnal. The strangeness comes from the fact that I know when I reach Paris in less than three weeks now, I am going to be plunged headlong into spring, with blossoms blooming, and leaves budding out in spring green. But then when I start walking at a higher altitude, I will 'step back' again towards winter where some trees might still be quite bare.

But for now, I am still home in the southern hemisphere, in the subtle part of autumn. Out walking this morning I even saw a tree in full blossom- a native lacebark, which rather unusually does flower profusely in autumn.

And back home in my garden, I looked at the magnolia that is the first garden tree to blossom when the spring arrives. Its leaves are only just showing the first signs of autumnal browning, but when I looked closely, I was surprised to see the buds that will burst forth in a few months time are already forming.

This blog will have a little hiatus soon. For those of you who want to follow a little of my exploits in France, I will try and blog when I can at another blog, Festina Lente.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

a longer circuit

Today I decided it was time for a longer circuit again, and the forecast promised good weather all day. We are getting near the end of daylight savings time here, so the sun wasn't up when I started walking at 6.45am- but you could gradually see the sky lighten over the hills to the east. It reminded me of the joy of mornings on the Camino to be walking at dawn.

I've set up my iPod Touch so I can see the weather and temperatures in places like Paris, Dijon, Le-Puy-en-Velay and Geneva, and at the end of last week I was a little surprised to realise the temperature in that part of the world was up in the high teens and early 20s already. I actually quite like walking when it is cooler, and carry some extra layers for that, so I was pleased to see the temperature in France is due to plummet again, even if the locals don't want that! Today it was quite warm walking up along Green's Rd where this photo was taken- around 23/24C, and I drank plenty from my two water bottles.

Around town, you can see that autumn is beginning, as the deciduous trees are starting to change colour. But in the countryside, the changes are more subtle. One thing I noticed today was fewer wildflowers than on my last walk up here- and more seedheads.

I arrived home carrying a slight injury today- maybe I will try swimming for a few days this week instead of walking...

Friday, March 16, 2012

Took a walk downtown

This morning I took a walk downtown in the sunshine.

There's an attractive café on the corner of Broadway, and the tables are usually occupied. But I was walking quite early, when the tables looked very cheerful with just the morning sunshine for company.

The Broadtop shopping centre used to be full of quite 'mainstream' shops, but now has more secondhand and alternative type shops. I quite like the suburban, laid-back vibe.

 The light was at 'different' angles at this hour, and I liked the way it caught the lines at the entrance to St Pat's.

Finally I reached the Square, and there were tables and chairs galore for me to choose from: I should have taken a picnic brunch...

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A walk along the beach

It's only a month now until I leave on my trip, and I felt the need to have a good dose of a Kiwi beach walk today. It was a lovely calm, warm morning and Himatangi Beach was at its glorious best.

It's a long, flat beach, and the tide was fairly far out when I arrived, so there was lots of firm sand to walk along.

I meandered for about an hour and a half, paddling my feet in the shallow wavelets, greeting the occasional fisherman, dog-walker or jogger as we passed each other. And I enjoyed noticing the 'little things' on the sand...

 ...the flotsam and jetsam being tossed in today's tiny waves. (It was so calm I almost began to wonder if I had stumbled onto an east-coast beach by mistake.)

And then I walked back again, back to my car. And I will hold the memory of this beach walk warm against my heart, to give me strength on any 'hard' days when I am far away from home.

'Foreigners' tend to think that Palmy is so unfashionably 'inland'- but it only takes half an hour to reach Himatangi beach. I'll be back here again as soon as I get home...

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Gorge Closure

It's hard to believe how many months the Gorge road has now been closed- and there is still so much slip clearance and stabilization to be done.
At first it seemed like the Gorge track was closed as well, but there is now a sign that makes it clear you can travel ahead to the DOC carpark if you want to walk the track. 

And from the first viewpoint, after about half an hour's climb at my speed,  you do get a small view of the slip.
I think I would be very giddy if I had to work along this terrace that is being constructed on the slipface. What a huge job they have done already...

Windy Point

I am sitting on a comfy seat at Windy Point, the furtherest point on my walk along the Manawatu Gorge track today. As I sit here I am aware of the beauty around me, and also that my 'training' walks are nearly at an end.

This time in five weeks I will be in Paris. Here it is approaching midday Saturday, but there it will be more like midnight Friday. I hope I will be sleeping soundly after a busy day exploring the streets of Paris -and that I am not lying in bed wide awake jetlagged.

This time in six weeks I will have started walking the Chemin from Cluny.

But for now I am sitting in this Beautiful Spot in the sunshine. I can see Ashhurst nestled on the plain at the end of the gorge I began from, and I can see Woodville through at the other end. Across from me on the other side of the gorge, the hills are covered with gently moving wind turbines. The sound of cicadas is loud in the air, and just a few birds can be heard singing.

I've typed this on my iPod Touch for practice. I'll blog it later and add photos when I get home.

Sent from my iPod

I composed this at Windy Point on the "Notes" app on my iPod Touch, then sent it to email- just to see what would happen- though I knew I had no wifi up there. As soon as I arrived home within wifi range, the e-mail clearly sent itself. So that was a good lesson learned: I can compose e-mails and they will sit there until I am in wifi reach, then send themselves....

All these photos of Windy Point have been posted to the blog back at home. There's no camera on my old iPod Touch, so for photos I have to wait until I find a computer where I can download photos from my camera- hence there won't be heaps of photos posted en route on the Chemin...

Sign for Windy Lookout- it's a very brief diversion off the track
Looking down over Woodville and towards the hill country of the eastern part of the Tararua region.
Looking back towards Ashhurst on the Manawatu Plains.
Wind turbines on the hills on the other side of the river.
The comfy seat where I sat and composed the blog post on my iPod Touch. I nearly left my camera behind here!
I always love seeing this cabbage tree on the lookout, and enjoy seeing what kind of cloudy skies will figure behind it in a photo!

Monday, March 05, 2012

Back in the Gorge

Sunday was Gorge day this weekend. After the rain and cold of Saturday (though the weather bomb fortunately passed us by) the sun was shining warmly as I headed onto the track. And the sunlight was just catching the wee waterfall you see as you emerge from the under-the-road passage.

You could see that progress had been made on the benching since the last time I was here, though the slip still looks very large.
I wonder if the road will be open by the time I return to New Zealand in July?

It's autumn now, so not so surprising to see fungus of various kinds along the track. This orange fungi is quite prominent- quite fluro, and stands out in the dark!
One thing that always amazes me is the sheer variety of fungi, many growing from rotten logs or tree trunks. I seem to often see kinds I have never seen before...

And I always like to see leaves lying on the track, caught by the light that is filtering through. So many little treasures to notice along the way...

Friday, March 02, 2012

Calm before the storm

We have been promised a 'weather bomb' in the coming hours, so I decided I should get out and walkabout this morning while I still could- so here are a few 'bits and pieces' from along Turitea Walkway.

We have a series of quite interesting drain covers here in Palmy, that show some of our native stream fauna and flora:- this 'brown mudfish' cover was over a storm water drain near the bridge where I parked.

Near the Turitea Stream they had been renewing a bit of the track where some of the path had slipped away into the stream- and I found the cut surface of this felled tree trunk quite beautiful.

I always love catching sight of the light on drops of water, and mostly I see it on spiderwebs or plants. But on the ground this morning I caught sight of a gleam from the ground at my feet, and there were droplets on some fallen cicada wings.

It was eerily calm this morning- definitely the calm before a storm. And in a more northerly direction looking towards the ranges, the sky definitely had that weird pre-storm appearance.

 But looking in a more southeast direction, the sky still looked more blue and less threatening...

 I am becoming very conscious these days that my 'training' time is drawing to a close, and in less than six weeks I will be heading off to France for some much more intensive walking. And somehow that makes me more conscious of 'local' signs here at home. When I walked in France and Spain last time, I became quite intrigued by taking photos of signs, so much so that I 'stopped myself' from taking such a 'ridiculous' number of them. But I actually really like looking at photos of signs later on- they tell such a very regional story. I will be sure to take plenty of them this time, without censoring myself!

As I neared Old West Rd and came to this pond, the whole scene looked so peaceful and calm in this direction, almost like a summer's day.

On the path heading down to the pond, I was intrigued by the shadows of the fenceposts, so took this photo. But once I downloaded it back at home, I realised this photo showed the steepness of the path very well. I have been struggling with how to show 'steepness' in photos, and perhaps this is the simple answer- to show the scene from the top rather than the bottom! Then I will be able to 'prove' to friends and family how 'arduous' parts of my walking was when I get home from France!

Summer has come to an end, and it seems like there are many spider-nests like this one on some bushes. I especially liked seeing this one today. The gorse bush with its sharp spines is an invader into our landscape that is not well loved. But it has been found to provide a 'nursery' for native plants re-establishing themselves- and here it allows a spider to make a 'nursery'. I find the contrast between the sharp spines and the nursery to be an appealing idea...

Well, those are a few tidbits from this morning's walk. Now I guess we will wait and see how bad the promised 'weather bomb' gets overnight and in the morning.