Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Royal Blue

This evening the Palmerston North clocktower is coloured blue in honour of the new royal baby.

Today I went on a small holiday tiki-tour, having a quick look at where all the small communities are near Palmy. (Shocking I know that I haven't done this exploration before!) Didn't take many photos, as the light wasn't very suitable, with thick cloud after our impressive sunrise. But I will go back another day- quite fascinating with old district halls and all sorts.

Here is the photo I did take. Rongotea is bigger than other places I passed through. I guess I vaguely knew there was a Catholic church there- but had no idea it was a historic one dating back to 1895. (That's old in New Zealand terms.)

Sunrise in Palmy

This morning we had possibly the most spectacular sunrise I have ever seen. Reverence. And you just get to see part of it here on this video- there was more glorious colour higher in the sky, but I held the camera at one height for this 'swoop'.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Seddon Quakes

Presently there's a pile of earthquake activity in Cook Strait, centred off the coast from Seddon. Many people in Palmy have been feeling smaller ones all the way up here for days, but until yesterday evening I hadn't felt any of them. But then came the 6.5 quake. Even this far away from the epicentre it was quite strong. I was standing by the kitchen cupboards watching the walls and windows wave around and it seemed like the windows might pop out of their frames. But amazingly, not even one ornament fell. The house rolled around for ages, one lot of waves just seeming to bounce right into the next lot. 
Fortunately, damage even in coastal places close to the epicentre has been relatively minor. But it was enough to stop the Palmerston North Clocktower dead in its tracks.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Cluny to Le-Puy-en-Velay 2012

Last April-May I walked for four weeks in France, starting from Cluny in the Burgundy region. I've just finished putting up photos on Flickr for the Cluny to Le-Puy-en-Velay section of the walk. (And if you really want to indulge yourselves, I have a blog about the walk as well- Cluny Chemin).

Monday, June 03, 2013

More Geocaching

I've really been enjoying more geocaching on my weekends- great excuse to get out and about and have some walking or cycling exercise. Plus I keep discovering places in my own city I have either never been to, or that have changed massively since I was last there... There are also those geocaches that have been oh so close nearby when I've been out walking previously and I simply had no idea...

Last Sunday in the Esplanade I discovered my second 'trackable' which came from someone in Germany. I logged it, moved it to another cache, and it has since made a journey onto the Sledge Track in the ranges near Palmy.

On Sunday last weekend I also unsuccessfully sought a cache along the Turitea Walkway, but in the process 'discovered' this lovely colonial home near where I had parked my car. I returned yesterday and found the cache I'd missed. It was very cleverly concealed- yet right near where I was seated!

My last find last weekend was in a small park I usually just drive right by. In the process of finding the cache, I saw some 'muggles' who alerted me to the group of monarch butterflies - this tree seemed to be an 'overwintering' spot.

 Yesterday it was time to return to the Manawatu River series I have been following- I was up to #6 and #7, and these took me down the western end of the river track, further from home, and where I've seldom ventured.
 It was great to finish the series with the clues from #6, plug all the clues in to get the final coordinates, and find the last cache position. And meanwhile, I got to discover how much work the Council has done to upgrade this western end of the track. Last time I was down here I got a bit lost in the scrub, but now the track is easy to follow, has variations and has plenty of interest.

Next stop was up Pork Chop Hill, great place for a view of Palmy, though I was at a cache site on the other side of the river recently from where it was clear how 'precarious' this cliff site is. The view of Palmy looked great with all the autumn shades in the trees. Must remember to come up here next year, perhaps a bit earlier in autumn. The cache here was easily found, would be a great place for a family geocaching expedition, and was quite well protected from possibly muggles.

Today was a public holiday and I decided to head out for one cache close to home- Linklater Reserve, another park I'd never been to before.
 It was lovely to see this path wending its way uphill in the morning sunshine.

There were quite a few potential troll hiding places in the wetland, but fortunately they must have been all asleep.
 There were some beautiful views back over the ranges from the hilltop, and you might even spy an old hall as one of the buildings. (I probably wouldn't have, but they had some great information plaques around the reserve.)
 On the way home, I made sure I stopped off to get a closer view of the old Kelvin Grove Hall- clearly well maintained and in use for a Kung Fu school.

And I am at the stage of geocaching where I'd be quite keen to place a couple of caches of my own. This park is very close to home, and I could see a couple of possible places for a new cache here- but the close proximity to a kindy might be a drawback. I'll keep looking...

PS If you want to find out more about geocaching, here's the site to visit.

Sunday, May 19, 2013


A month or so ago, a friend took me geocaching with her family. Since then I have found 14 caches, all so far within a few kilometres of home. Last weekend I found my first 'trackable', placed by someone from Ontario, and now my mind is turning to where I might hide some new geocaches myself. It's fun, relaxing, good exercise, and a great way to combine my love for walking and photography at the same time.

This morning I went back to have another look for a cache along the Bridle Track here in Palmy, one of a series of 7. Last weekend I cycled along the route and found the first three, and tried for the fourth. I was pretty certain I was looking in the right spot, but couldn't retrieve it immediately; and being Mother's Day the place was swarming with 'muggles'.

I returned this morning to look for it, despite the fact it was a bit 'grey' out and looked like it might rain any moment. First off though I took a wander in the vicinity, down by the river.

The stones on the 'beach' on the other side of the river from 'Anzac Cliffs' made me think of my class, who have just indulged themselves in some fascination with rocks of various kinds.

The cache itself was 'near' this somewhat drowned flax, with a clear view of the cliffs and the slips that have fallen along them. Even though the sun wasn't shining out from the clouds much, you could still see these beautiful reflections in the puddles. I nearly hadn't even taken my camera because of the grey skies, but there were beautiful sights all around. And I had to get slightly wet feet retrieving the cache, but I was glad to find it!

Some deciduous trees are quite bare now. The month of May is nearly two-thirds through, and soon enough we will be in 'winter'.

Raindrops on some pine trees were shining forth...

Despite the greyness, and the relatively early hour for a Sunday morning, there were lots of people (and their dogs) out along the Bridle Track- walking, running, cycling. And at this hour, everyone seems to be very friendly, and 'good mornings' are very genuine and widespread.

It may have been 'grey', but it was a great way to start the day.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Under the Floor

This isn't a sight I have seen before...the open manhole in the laundry floor that gives access for the work being done below today. I'd be claustrophobic working under there for even five minutes!

Insulation cometh for Winter!

Today Pinkfit arrived to do my ceiling and floor insulation. It didn't take them too long to do the ceiling and they are now tapping away underneath the house. Maybe I am imagining it, but it seems warmer inside the house already.

Meanwhile I have no power and hence no wifi. But on the iPad I can write this post that will whoosh away when I reconnect the power. (It reminds me of using occasional wifi on the Camino just a year ago...) And the Kindle app doesn't need power, so on this cold grey Saturday afternoon I'm reading The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. Reminds me of my own unlikely pilgrimage...

Sunday, May 12, 2013

How to escape education's death valley

Creating a climate of possibility... A talk by Ken Robinson.

Industrial Passage

It was a beautiful morning as I left home for a 6km walking circuit. The sky had just a few clouds, pink tinged, until the sun came up. Walked back along Tremaine Ave and Ruahine St, and took a few 'industrial' photos in the morning sunlight. Here's a selection.

 On North St I was struck by the shapes and textures of all the 'grey'. 

 Railway accoutrements

There used to be a large old factory on this site, recently replaced by this single storey, characterless 'box'. At least they have left all the palm trees intact.

 Noticed this on the roof of the place where I get my car serviced. Never noticed it before- usually too focused on talking to the mechanic.

 I was struck by the way the sunlight hit the wood on these pallets. I didn't notice the 'matching' car numberplate until I downloaded the photos back at home.

 Just an 'ordinary' draincover- but they all tell a story and have a history. I wonder why this one had bits painted blue at some stage.

 In several places the barbed wire and blue skies took my fancy.

 Everyone has their own associations with this place. I suppose I am lucky I just remember a day with a broken arm when I walk past...

Nearly home- the way the trailers were arranged caught my eye.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Track and Tunnel Walk

Last weekend I joined the Track and Tunnel Walk, organised as a fundraiser by Woodville Lions, passing through the Manawatu Gorge via the railway track. The track is closed for rail traffic for the duration and 1500 people took part this year.

 The whole walk is superbly well organised from start to finish. Everyone parks their cars at Ashhurst Domain, with the aid of some marshals. Then you all get loaded onto buses- depending on the start time you booked- for the trip through the Gorge via road. (Last year the buses all had to wend their way over the Saddle Rd since the Gorge road was closed.) I was in the first lot of people to alight from the buses to start walking along the railway track.

 I always love the sight of this road bridge as you come towards the end of the Gorge walking track, and it looks quite beautiful from the railway side as well.

 Here we are heading over one of the many short bridges, not as scary as I imagined, and there was often a 'catwalk' on the side with 'solid', albeit a bit slippery, wood.

 I loved getting to see things you never get to see from the road side, like this little steep-sided stream. I had no idea it existed, so it was like a secret, hidden valley.

There were various bits of equipment along the way that reminded you that you were walking on a real railway track, but this old red water tank was probably my favourite: it took me right back to my childhood in Waitara where there was a big tank for the steam trains.

 After walking perhaps nearly halfway along the 8km walk, you reach the first tunnel. I had my torch handy, but I must admit I was a bit scared of the idea of cave wetas etc that might be there! But I actually enjoyed pacing my way through both the long tunnels- and I think the trains could well have scared most of the cave wetas away anyhow!

 Out the far side of the first tunnel I saw the only person I knew during the whole walk- Sharon as a marshal- and it was lovely to hear her greeting.

 You got a superb view of several slips along the Gorge. The Big Slip from last year was certainly large, but there were also several other large ones. (The 'small' white bus passing beneath it is one ferrying yet more walkers to the track.) Seeing these slips made me realise how very precarious our link from Manawatu through to Hawkes' Bay actually is.

 Here are people exiting from the second long tunnel- and it was certainly dark in there!

 Not long after leaving the second slip, we were leaving the Gorge behind us. The river was still to our left, and I realised that there was actually a hidden 'confluence' coming up- we were heading around to the right to cross the Pohangina River, shortly before it emptied into the Manawatu River.

There were so many volunteer marshals who made the day possible. These two looked like they had a great spot in the sunshine, but apparently their spot was quite a cold one, and they were all rugged up despite the deckchairs!

 Finally it was time to cross the last, long bridge. Even this one wasn't as scary as I had imagined...

 and I very much enjoyed the river views as I crossed. This shot is looking south along the Pohangina River and just out of sight is where the two rivers join.

 At the far end of the bridge, the track walk is over, and a marshal gives you a small certificate.

 Then it's just a short walk across the Ashhurst Domain....

 ...and the only hill in the whole walk was at the very end back to where the cars were parked above.

My certificate!
Thanks to all those who organised the day- it was a great walk. There's more about it here from the Evening Standard.

(You can click on any of the photos to see a bigger version.)