Saturday, July 19, 2014

Winter Afternoon Light

For some reason- perhaps because my present classroom has quite large windows- I've been very much aware this winter of how low the sun is in the mid-year sky. And this afternoon I went for a walk in the Esplanade and saw how that low-angled light was falling. The colours all seemed very vibrant today- maybe because of the very cool air we have had for several days.

Confession time first:- I have a new camera, that is supposed to be good at taking low light shots, so I was experimenting in the lounge yesterday evening... and yes, it does cope very well in low light.

 There were more beautiful magnolia blooms in the gardens today.

 By the Manawatu River it seemed to me that colours were especially bright and clear.

 Near the bridge are these historic flood protection groynes, and there are signs that describe some of the city's history with floods. The Manawatu River mostly seems quite gentle and harmless, but the 2004 floods showed us that is definitely not the case all of the time.

These large trees near the bridge are always impressive, whether they are bare or covered in leaves.

 Again it seemed to me that this sign stood out from the river in the background in a very vibrant way. I tend to go walking in the mornings but perhaps I need to check out the afternoon light more often!

 It was really only afternoon tea time when the sun was already slipping down behind the trees, leaving everything in a cooler shadow.

 These are the very same trees that less than three months ago were covered with autumn leaves.

 I am still working out how to use the macro setting. This new camera is very clever, and quite sophisticated, and I have to learn how to make it do what I want it to do in terms of depth of field.

And to finish, kawakawa, the NZ pepper tree, in flower.

Assisi Walk

Well... I have confirmed bookings for next Easter hols- travel via Shanghai and Zurich  (Air New Zealand and Swiss Air) to reach Rome on the evening of Good Friday- and will spend 10 days walking in the vicinity of Assisi. This is the walk I will go on:

Have set up a blog already… This time I will only be carrying a day pack and no sleeping bag required- much greater expense than my usual walking exploits, but handy when time is short and I don’t speak Italian.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Walkway Combo

After a lazy week I decided it was time for some decent exercise, on my Walkway "Combo" of the Palmerston North city walkways on the Massey side of town.

The distance was 9.7km according to Strava, and you can see I had a few decent bits of climbing.

I started by parking my car near the bridge, then walked across the Manawatu River. There'd been a few unexpected spits just before I left home, but fortunately the clouds were only threatening, and didn't lead to any real rain until well after I had finished walking.

There are a few pedestrian/cyclist underpasses along the route, and they've been painted with an interesting mix of designs. Only one has any signs of graffiti over it at present.

It mostly looked wintry along the way, but there were a few remnants of autumn to be seen. 

I love the little bridges that cross over the Turitea Stream. 

There's quite a bit of kawakawa- pepper tree- in the bush near the stream.

And where some branches had been cut near the track, it revealed this beautiful design inside.

After the flat start to the walk, there was a bit of climbing to do. I always try to show you how steep it is, but often fail to convey what hard work it truly is.... It's my aim in life to perfect my ability to convey steepness properly!

Once the first bit of climbing was done with, there were some good views of the hills and ranges in the distance- through these winter trees.

There were still a few signs of the colour of autumn around.

Although the pathways are not too far away from busy roads, it all feels very rural.

This little lake is always a favourite view. The skies looked quite dramatic overhead today.

Another little rural tidbit.

More drama in the skies, at the top of the walk near Pacific Drive, looking out towards the Ruahines.

Here's another attempt to show 'steepness'. 
This is on the route mostly downhill near Summerhill Drive, back towards the bridge.

Gorse in flower

From the track, in places you can see back to Summerhill Drive. Against this lamp post is a memorial to a former colleague, Jocelyn, who was killed while riding her cycle up the hill early one morning. So very sad.

Back down on the flat is this magnificent totara tree, in paddocks not far from the river.

It was a great walk and really woke up my muscles.  These walkways give a great opportunity for some hill climbing in a mostly flat city on the floodplains. Will have to do it again sometime!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Feilding Market Day

Today, in the middle of my holidays, I decided to head across to Feilding for the Friday market day.

The town was very busy, with lots of others having the same idea, but after a bit of driving around I found a parking space. This painting was on the back of the old building nearby, an unusual place for a bit of art like this.

I hadn't gone far before I noticed more murals on buildings. For some strange reason, I had never noticed them before, not that I visit Feilding very often. This one with the trompe d'oeil effect took my fancy.

Feilding has many signs of its Edwardian glory days, with architectural details on many buildings. My eye was taken by the 'shell' motif on this building, something I am used to noticing from my days walking on the Camino routes in France and Spain.

 This War Memorial is in a peaceful square...

 ...and not far away the Clocktower is surrounded by a modern traffic island.

 These lamps are in keeping with a lot of the older style of architecture in the town. I am not sure how 'original' they are- though perhaps they have been restored.

 The market is not huge, but it is friendly, and you can buy various locally made products. I bought some Rangitikei honey, and two different kinds of home-made soaps, and will take them south for a gift in a few weeks time. I also bought some marmalade for my breakfast, and chocolate chip cookies!

En route back to my car, I stopped off at the Feilding stock sales yards, which has its busy day on Fridays too. This shot shows the sheep yards. Behind me are all the cattle pens.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Two more walks with Strava

I've used the Strava Mobile App a few more times, and find it quite motivating when I can find out how far I have walked, and what kind of altitude change there has been. Of course around the main part of Palmy itself, there isn't much altitude change- just a few river terraces as blips on the flood plains.

I used the App when I headed up Kahuterawa Rd two weeks ago- up and back. This was one of the first routes I used when I started training for my 2008 Camino. I'd estimated it was 4km up to Green's Rd from my friend's place at the bottom end of the road, but discovered my journey was a little over that- 8.7km round trip. I was interested to know whether in fact Strava would manage to record my journey up here, as I thought my mobile reception could well be 'patchy' out in this countryside. But it succeeded.

I was a little bemused by the altitude graph at first, since I knew the highest altitude was at the top end of the road- but then I remembered I came back downhill the same distance. (Duhh!) Even though it was only 100m or so in altitude change, there are a few steepish hills on this leg that were good training for the Camino.

I still remember the sense of elation I had the first time I rounded a corner and saw this farm shed- though it was painted red then. Somehow it seemed to say 'beautiful country road for walking'. It seemed almost like a betrayal of my memories the day I saw they had painted it green!

 There are several narrow rural bridges on the route.

Getting close to Green's Rd, I had noticed there always seemed to be hay bales in this paddock. Usually I don't see cows here, but I haven't really walked this road in midwinter before, and it seems likely they are getting food supplements now.

The only disappointment for me on this 're-walk' was the extra sign on the corner with Green's Rd. Over recent years I have taken a few photos of the two blue signs that mark the end of this climb- but now there is also a huge 'city' kind of sign that seems most incongruous on the corner.

 The blue skies and fluffy clouds were very welcome winter sights.

 I have seen a professional shot of this hillside with the trees on top that was a Prizewinner. My shot just gives you a taste of the landscape...

The second walk I want to share was one I did today. I parked my car down at the end of Albert St by the Manawatu River walkway. My route took me along the river walk to the Esplanade, then back along the Lagoon. Again I recorded it with Strava, and this time discovered I'd walked less than I had imagined- 6km.

Here's the Strava App record of where I walked. I didn't actually paddle in the river, though I came quite close up beside it near the cliffs. I won't give you the altitude graph this time- it didn't change much.

Down near the cliffs I took this shot of some seed heads. That's the vibrant colour of the cliffs you can see behind in the background. 

 On a winter Sunday like today, there are always heaps of people on the river walkway, walking or cycling, or scootering.

 Not far from the bridge is this area of Scout seating, and near it is an enclosed circle clearly intended for campfire activities. But these days there are quite a few alcohol cans lying nearby on a Sunday morning.

 A graphics student has done a wonderful job of making the river monitoring station more informative.

After a short wander in the Esplanade I retraced my steps, but then diverted to the Lagoon. Walking here, rather than driving, I sat on a seat right at one end where there was this view of the little island. I'd always missed this viewpoint before when coming by car, or even bicycle.

 The Lagoon as always had lots of bird life to see. Quite a few Canadian geese here at present. And though I have seen them another year in winter, I was still surprised to see Ma and Pa Swan already had a full family of cygnets. I counted six babies to look after between the pair of them.

One of the things I most like about the Strava App is that it manages to work out when I have stopped for a drink or to take photos, and it manages to work out my timing without including those stoppages. Clever thing!