Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Himatangi Beach on a glorious day

This morning I decided to head off down to Himatangi Beach, about a half-hour drive from home. Though Palmerston North is 'inland', it doesn't actually take long to reach the coast. I had arrived by 9am, when few other people were even on the beach. This man was throwing a stick out into the waves for his dog.
And the view just stretched out into the distance. This view is south along the beach, in the direction of Foxton. It was a calm, sunny morning, and it was so peaceful just dawdling along, paddling in the very gentle little waves. (It is not always this calm on the west coast of course: you can experience 'wild' here as well!)
Apart from the odd, solitary gull, I had little other company.
I enjoyed watching the wavelets as they washed over shells etc on the sand, making patterns.
After about an hour walking, I decided it was time to turn back- and this is the view looking northwards back to Himatangi. (When I have all these lovely deserted beaches at home, you can see why crowded European resorts really hold no appeal for me!)
As I walked back you could see the cloud starting to build up inland and over the ranges. Perhaps we will have more thunder this afternoon, like yesterday...
I enjoyed taking this photo of the reflection of the clouds on the wet sand. One thing I have decided to look out for when taking photos in the next wee while is.... reflections... and if you look back at my previous three posts you will see I have put a reflection photo in each post!

OK so maybe there will be another thunderstorm in a wee while... time to get to the Lido for a swim before that happens!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Exploring in Wellington

Today in Wellington I met up with E from Canada, who I first met on the Camino. The cafe at Te Papa was a good place for a long relaxed chat to start with.
Then we headed out along the waterfront to start exploring the city. The sun shone on our day's explorations, and Wellington always looks stunning on a good day.
We saw lots of sculpture along the way... this was our first strong man... Seddon was our last.....We crossed the pedestrian bridge over to the Civic Square area, and E was struck by how 'people friendly' the whole Square and waterfront area was, and how interesting and varied the architecture was. Here are two photos I enjoyed taking- reflections and clouds......
We walked to the Cable Car station and rode up to the Botanical Gardens, before walking back downhill to the Begonia House and Cafe..... where we enjoyed lunch. Then it was off downhill some more, and back into the cbd- I really like the idea of Cable-Car-Up then Walk-Down!
We passed through the historic Bolton St Cemetery, and on into Parliament Grounds. One of the buildings there I never recognised at all- turns out it was the parliamentary library- and we were told that by a friendly MP called Nash, who a security guard told us was grandson of a former prime minister. E was impressed we had met someone famous and I am certain she will already know more about Walter Nash than I do.

It isn't often I just take time to explore Wellington like a tourist, but E and I both ended the day wishing we had time for more exploring tomorrow.....

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Turitea Explorer

Forest and Bird are running another wonderful series of summer bus trips, and today I joined their Turitea Explorer trip. This provided a rare opportunity to go inside the Turitea Reserve, where the city water reservoirs are, holding water from the Turitea Stream catchment. We were joined in the reserve by two PNCC men who work there, one an expert in the pest control that is leading to revitalisation of the bird life in the reserve, and the other who knew about the dam side of things.This first photo is from just above the lower water supply dam, where a smaller amount of water is stored ready to go to the treatment plant.
It was supposed to be raining, but we just had a few light bursts of spitting, and the reflections on the reservoir lakes were lovely in the millpond calm. (Meanwhile in Wellington and New Plymouth, terrible gales were blowing....)
This 'unremarkable' looking structure is actually the remnant of a weir that the very early citizens of Palmerston North used to help store their water supply.
We even had the opportunity to climb up the upper dam, and this is the view looking down to the stream below....
And this is the view from on top of the Upper Dam itself. You can see what lovely native forest is in the reserve.
This photo is from the bottom of the top dam, looking up to where all that water is stored...
We had several Turitea Road residents on our trip, and as quite a heavy shower coincided with lunchtime, one generously offered his residence as a lunch spot. A bit of a climb up the road was involved at first- this was an old training ground of mine.... We had beautiful views out from his property. Then we took a wander through his pine forest, which has been planted with the pines far enough apart that native forest can regenerate underneath, and the growth of native trees was quite remarkable. (Apparently a lot of the seed has been bird-borne from the nearby reserve.)
I loved the remarkable colours of this fungus that was growing on a fallen branch.
Next on the day's agenda was a walk along some of the Green Corridor that is being developed along the banks of the Turitea Stream. Again we had a knowledgeable participant from this endeavour to talk to us and explain what is going on. He knew exactly where we were going to see some eels...
And finally, we were lucky that he had gone to the trouble to prepare afternoon tea for us, which we all enjoyed beside the stream.
It was a lovely day's outing, and I thank all those in Forest and Bird who organised it.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

In the Square on a summer's day

As soon as I saw the sun shining early this morning I knew it was going to be the day I headed out to practise using my dslr. No point having an expensive camera I am not sure how to really use properly! I needed to try out different things with the aperture priority and shutter priority settings, so I could grow to be in charge of the camera, rather than the other way around....The Square in the middle of town was where I decided to go: there is an abundance of different inspiration for the camera here.
There is an old fountain that has been restored, and now the lions really do squirt out water again.
This sculpture is almost 'outside' my brief, as it is just beyond the pedestrian's 'square'. There is a group in Palmie that is placing more sculpture in the city. And there are some pieces I love- one day I will have to do a post on some of them- but this one is not amongst them- seems awfully 'puerile' to use a polite word.
In the heart of the Square is an area of 'peace'. I loved the cloud behind this Maori sculpture today- the colours all spoke of summer.

This is one of a group of sculptures carved by a visiting group of international sculptors. (I think it is in andesite, but would have to check that...)
I always love finding 'reflections' and taking photos of them... this one is on the Council building.
Again, colours of summer, in the view looking across from the Marae of peace to All Saints church.
When 'they' re-did the Square at horrendous expense a few years back, there were some things that were done that I think are simply ugly. Fortunately they had more sense than to remove the fountains in the corner where the ducks and the families hang out... It was a great place to experiment with varied aperture and shutter settings, and then to see the results back at home...
And Palmerston North has always been famous for its roses... here is just one example...
So, did I learn what I wanted about the camera? Yes, I grew in confidence. I realised there were times I made the aperture too large in landscape shots. And often I was nervous of making the shutter as fast as it could be on this sunny day... It was instructive when I got home to compare the settings the camera had used as 'normal' when I used the automatic settings. I will have to use this as a 'control' for every shot next time and see what I learn....

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Summer- close to home

I have been enjoying reading some excellent winter posts from some of my northern hemisphere blogging buddies lately. Maalie writes of a walk near his home in Cumbria just after Christmas, and also about a bird survey he is involved in that requires excursions into the great cold outdoors. My Camino blogging friend, Johnnie Walker, has just posted about his winter adventures crossing O'Cebreiro to reach Galicia. Rebekah had some wonderful photos of snow on the Meseta near Moratinos, quickly followed by the nightmare of frozen water pipes!

But though I like reading about these adventures, I am quite glad to be pottering around in our summer temperatures. Summer was slow in coming this year, and it remains somewhat 'iffy' at best, but finally I can go out walking in shorts at least sometimes!

My holiday this year is mainly 'close to home' but there are actually plenty of simple, cheap things to do and enjoy locally, especially when you like walking and taking photos...

Today I drove to Bledisloe Park near Massey, and took the walk up to Old West Rd and return. The path starts off quite flat beside Massey grounds, and there are several wee bridges to cross. With the dappled sunlight, I sink into a 'relaxed' frame of mind as soon as I see them...After a stretch of legs on the flat, you next find there is a bit of climbing to do, but very soon you emerge to views of university buildings, and Manawatu countryside.

There were even some crops to view, and I felt like I was taking similar photos to those I took in the south-west of France on the Chemin in 2008. In fact, people quite often ask why I don't do a similar walk here at home, and the answer basically is that I would love to- but the infrastructure of well-spaced, cheap places to stay and eat isn't here. In France I only needed to carry a minimal smallish pack... Plus, there were always enough others walking for me to feel perfectly safe as a solo walker...
There were some well-spaced picnic tables along the walking route today. I should have brought Arohanui along- she would have loved a picnic.... ah wellll...... next time!

There were great views over to the Tararua Ranges.
One thing I did in France was take photos of 'interesting signs', and I guess they were all the more interesting to me as French was a foreign language. But really, these signs are quite interesting in their own right- they tell quite a 'Manawatu' story.
There are supposed to be more winds and rain arriving.... the clouds over the ranges do look as if there might be a change coming.... but I hope it won't be too long before (Arohanui and) I bring you the next 'close-to-home- holiday adventure!