Monday, January 30, 2012

Ten Week Countdown

Today most people I know are back into the teaching year -whether for a Teacher Only Day or the New Class- while I still have lots of time to 'please myself'. Regardless, the start of the school year has really galvanised my thinking, as it makes my departure date very concrete! It's just over 10 weeks before I leave for Paris and my walk from Cluny, and the school term of 10 weeks seems to provide the perfect 'number' for a countdown.

I've already walked many of the nearby hills, so I keep trying to find ways to put variety into my training. Today I decided I'd walk the Turitea Walkway uphill from Massey, but as a variant I would start near the bridge and cross the river first. Then, instead of my usual combo of city walkways from Old West Rd, I decided I'd turn right along the road until I reached the Massey entrance, and come back downhill that way.

There was a spot of 'variety' right where I parked my car, as work is being done on the stopbanks near the bridge.

 I love the flat beginning of the track on the edge of the Massey campus, as there are bridges that cross the Turitea Stream several times. Today with the sunshine, there were some lovely reflections on the water.

Once I was out onto the more rural part of the track, I passed some of these berries. They looked quite yummy, but I had no idea what they might be, and whether or not they might be poisonous- so I had to leave them alone. They were another reminder that the season is progressing, even though we are all moaning about the mostly lousy summer so far.

When I reached Old West Rd, I had my last view of the stream as it passed under the bridge, before I headed up the road for my return journey via the Massey campus.

It was quite warm by then, so I was glad to find some sheltered seating under trees near the Massey library, and gulped down plenty of my water. It was an easy descent, and return to my car. Week 10, Walk 1, done.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

unexpected error

There's a lot of cabling being done underground in my neighbourhood at present- for broadband I think- so there are lots of 'barriers'. On one of them my 'teacher nose' couldn't help but spy this spelling error. I wonder if it was sold for a cheaper price? And how many faulty ones were produced from the mould before someone realised? Is it only teachers who can't help noticing things like this? Have I been teaching too long?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

These feet are made for walking...

Having a rest after some 7-8km of walking this morning, before the climb up the metalled part of Turitea Rd and onto Green's Rd. Another place where these feet went a-walking. Good hill climbing and descending practice!

And a second shot of the same feet, once I had reached the top end of this climb.

I think it's time I added a 'feet' label... I know it's all a bit self-centred- but I like the slight quirkiness of it all :-)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Meandering in the Esplanade

It's a public holiday in the old Wellington provincial area here today- and though I usually think it's a crazy time for such a 'day off' when school holidays are still 'on', it was great to wake up to sunshine, after a weekend of grey skies and rain.

I decided that a relaxed wander in the Esplanade was what the morning called for, and it's a place that always has new pockets of beauty to catch your eye. I first walked next to the bush along the river track, and this was the first piece of the flower gardens I came to, with the hydrangeas in dappled light under trees. 

The gardeners at the Esplanade have every right to be proud of what they do: this is just one of the beautiful colourful gardens dotted around. It was great to see some many people wandering through as families, looking relaxed.

There are a few 'crinkum crankum' trees in the Esplanade, and the branches on this one were reflecting the sunlight in an eye-catching kind of way.

First time for ages, I also took a wander in the rose gardens, and there were lots of 'raindrops on roses' left over from last night- seemed to suit the 'favourite things' kind of morning.

 I can never get quite enough of raindrops on roses....

 ...but they weren't restricted to just the roses....

In summertime they have many varieties of dahlia in the Esplanade, coming in all sorts of colours and shapes. The monarch butterflies seem to especially like the orangey-red ones, but I like all of them...

I finished my walk back along part of the river path... passing many others out walking and relaxing.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pork Chop Hill and Esplanade

Mostly these days when I head out walking, I am aiming for some up-and-down hills that will get my heart pumping, and mostly it seems like I am not getting much fitter yet, despite all the effort. Today I had a more leisurely walk planned, though it still had one 'big' hill in it, 'Pork Chop Hill'- or Anzac Park. (I had checked this out by car before Christmas, when the police dog handlers were up there putting their dogs through their paces.) Yeehah, I was pretty pleased to find that this morning's climb up here was 'easy'!

This is a view over to Wharite from the top of Pork Chop Hill. The cloud coming down from the east reminded me of cloud you could see in the valleys below as I descended O'Cebreiro in Galicia- happy memories.

 When I realised the walk and climb was just 'short and sweet', I decided I may as well make the rest of the morning's walk a 'dawdling' one, and so took out the camera. Fennel was flowering all down near the river, so I took (quite a few) shots of it- such a dramatic looking plant that reminds me somehow of all the wild places from my childhood.

 An old man  passed by on the track and was surprised to see me taking photos of what he said was 'only a weed'...

 Maybe so, but it does have a beautiful flower...

When I crossed back over the river, I took a short walk in the Esplanade. I had to check out if there were still monarch butterflies near the dahlia patch. 
 And there were- but last year they seemed to be more numerous.

It was a very relaxing morning. I drove home via the Lagoon and fed the ducks- and now it is time to have a shower before heading out to see a friend and her two young children... Holidays- ahhhhh- gotta love them!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Upper Kahuterawa Rd

Yesterday I walked 4km- 8km return- up the lower end of Kahuterawa Rd as far as Green's Rd. Today I walked the next 6km- 12km return- from Green's Rd up to the bridge over the Kahuterawa River, where the Sledge Track starts.  As soon as I parked the car at Green's Rd, I was immersed in a beautiful morning. A tui was eating from flax flowers right nearby, and I hadn't walked far before I saw a hawk flying up in the sky.

Yesterday's route had more hills in it, so in a sense was more use for 'training'- but the upper part of the road feels so much more wild and remote, and mostly follows the river quite closely. You get to listen to the sound of the river over rocks below as you walk by on the road above- very peaceful.

 This is a view of the river from the bridge at the top of the road, where the Sledge Track and Back Track both begin.

About 2km from Green's Rd is a riverside park, with a few facilities for a bbq etc, and I sat there for some morning tea on my way back down the road. Very peaceful place to sit, just listening to the sound of the river as it flows by. It strikes me I could make a series of photos of my shoes/feet at resting places. (Here is a similar shot from a month ago!) Ok, you can comment- not everyone is as interested in my feet as I am!

Monday, January 09, 2012

Chemin Prep

No excuses anymore- in three months time I will be packing for my flights to Paris- ready for walking the Chemin from Cluny... Yesterday morning was very wet and the evening brought what seemed like gale-force winds. But today dawned fine and sunny, so I walked up one of my favourite routes, Kahuterawa Rd. I always love seeing this line of letterboxes, but they are often in more shade than this as I walk past: today there was this lovely dappled sunlight on them. On the way up they are a sign that I am reaching the 3km mark, and if I've walked a long way, on the way down they say that it's 'not far to go now'.

Today I walked up as far as Green's Rd -just over 4km in an uphill direction. I sat down and rested at the top, and a couple of swallows flitted down onto the road nearby. They made a couple of attempts to pick up a strand of dried grass lying on the road- then finally one grabbed it, and they took off together, presumably to their nest. We mostly take our homes for granted, but each strand on their nest must be hard won.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Akitio Beach Road Trip

Today I decided to take a little 'road trip' over to Akitio beach on the east coast. Though I've explored some of the other beaches and settlements in this area-  eg Porangahau, Herbertville, Pongaroa- I have never before made it down to Akitio.

I fell in love with Akitio Beach as soon as I arrived there. The pohutukawa were in the early stages of flowering right on the beach front- the flowers seem late this year after a grey November. I don't think anything shouts out 'summer' quite so loudly as pohutukawa by the sea.

It was a lovely beach to visit, with a peaceful, relaxed 'feel' to the settlement, and I must go back there sometime soon with my tent and stay a night. It is quite 'far away', and you have to travel on narrow, windy, hilly roads to get there, so even though it is peak holiday season, it wasn't too busy. There were quite a few people fishing, and boats were being taken in and out of the surf by tractors, (including some very ancient ones.) As I walked along the beach, I kept meeting friendly, relaxed people, keen for a chat. All very pleasant and low key.

The whole journey there and back was through a part of rural New Zealand we tend to call the 'heartland', and several times I met up with a 'traffic jam' along the road. It seems that this is a busy time of year for sheep farmers, getting their sheep into the shed for shearing etc.

I came home via the rural town of Eketahuna- and this lovingly knitted nativity scene was in the information centre.
And outside the information centre, was quite the largest Kiwi I have ever seen. Remarkable!

Monday, January 02, 2012

Merging blogs...

Apologies to anybody who has been flooded with posts in their reader today.... I have just merged posts from my 365 photo blog for 2011 - where I took a photo a day- into my Kiwi Nomad blog. So the overload is just a 'oncer'. (It could have been worse- I did delete some posts before the merge!!!)
Happy New Year!!
It's interesting. When I got back from the Camino in 2008, I had a big clean-out/ down-size of 'stuff'. I feel an urge to do the same this time, before I even leave the country....