Wednesday, October 29, 2014

In the Round

I've been meaning to post these photos for a while. When we travel to the North Island, we like to stop at the Lava Glass Studio just north of Lake Taupo. On our most recent visit, we found they had added a glass sculpture garden (where photography is allowed, unlike the rules inside the actual gallery).

Carmi's Thematic Photographic theme, round and round this week gave me the excuse I needed to post some of the rounder pieces of sculpture.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tuesday Poem: The Wild Swans at Coole, by W B Yeats

The Wild Swans at Coole

The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and-fifty swans.

The nineteenth autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.

I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All's changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.

Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.

But now they drift on the still water,
Mysterious, beautiful;
Among what rushes will they build,
By what lake's edge or pool
Delight men's eyes when I awake some day
To find they have flown away?

W B Yeats (1865-1939)

The image above is an installation for Festa - the Christchurch Festival of Transitional Architecture. A line from a Yeats poem floating on the Avon river by the water wheel near the Worcester Street bridge. There was also an event at the weekend, which I didn't attend, where participants could write their own "words on water" - I'm not sure what with, but apparently the words would evaporate eventually, whereas the Yeats installation looks a bit more permanent.

I had initially thought Yeats must be a misprint for Keats, given that it is Keats who has as his epitaph "here lies one whose name was writ in water". But I found when I googled the line that it was indeed Yeats, from this lovely poem "The Wilds Swans at Coole".

For more Tuesday Poems, visit the main hub site.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Quilt Progress

It was the last day of a long weekend today. Instead of getting out and about in pursuit of photos, I spent the day at home - kitchen, gardening, writing and putting together the blocks for the quilt I am making for our king sized bed. It's a bit big to get the whole thing in one photo, given that it is held together mainly with pins. Now that I have all the blocks laid out, I will be able to get all the rows joined together, making it a lot easier to handle. I couldn't do that until I had all the edge triangles in place, as if I joined the long strips of rows together, there would be awkward angles left at the ends. There are a couple of borders to go on yet, but those will be just long straight pieces.

The walls of our bedroom are painted a sort of pale, greyed minty green. The paua shell fabric that I am using for the borders has the green in it, also purple, browns and other colours, so I have taken the colours from that fabric.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


This was another Festa event, this time for children - the opportunity to build a city out of Jello. It was all rather small-scale and low-key, but very colourful. The children that were there when I looked in seemed to be having a good time.

Festa on Saturday Night

Festa is the Festival of Transitional Architecture, which is a yearly event in Christchurch since the earthquakes. This year's big drawcard was Cityups, in which architecture students transformed two blocks of the city with lit up structures, there was dancing, night markets, street volleyball, illuminated carts to race and various other entertainments. It probably couldn't happen anywhere else - where would you find so much empty space in the middle of a city?

When I saw that Carmi's Thematic Photographic theme for the week was night, I knew I wanted to wait for this event before posting my contribution.

The structures were built with all sorts of novel materials - this one is blue water-filled balloons, which kept moving. I have better focussed shots, but I quite liked the effect of this one.

The structure on the left is constructed of plastic bottles, and the one on the right of road cones.

A busker dancing with lit torches. (Long exposure, so she has disappeared!)

The Strange's building is one of the earliest new buildings built since the earthquakes, and has won several major architecture awards.

Even the half demolished buildings look better at night..

The posters are part of a mental health campaign that has been running here for the last couple of years : "All Right". They encourage us to focus on the simple things, such as "when was your last moment of wonder?"

Flowers on Cashmere

I always enjoy passing this florist shop, both the building and the buckets of flowers outside are a bright spot in the landscape, but what is it with the tattered flag?

It's Christchurch, so there are going to be road cones somewhere. There are road works all over the city, fixing sewer lines, water pipes, and other damaged infrastructure from the earthquakes of 2010 - 2012.

(Saturday's photos, posted on Sunday)

Friday, October 24, 2014


Spotted in Sydenham today.


A quick walk by the Heathcote River at lunchtime yesterday.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Old Stone House, Cashmere

It's good to remind myself that quite a few historic stone buildings have survived the Canterbury earthquakes. The Old Stone House in Cracroft, Cashmere is one of them. It is, however, damaged and closed for the meantime. In general, timber buildings survived a lot better than stone buildings as they flex better.

The gardens at the Old Stone House are looking great at the moment, when I have more time I will get back and have a proper look round.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Call of the Hills

I just had time after work to go to the start of the Bowenvale track (above) and grab a few photos. Just reminding myself that last summer I used to go for hour long walks up here in the evening. Now, if I can just find a free evening or two, I will be able to do it again.

The track fades out into a sort of spaghetti tangle further up. Supposedly one can walk right up to the Summit Road from here, but I haven't found the route yet. Time to try again soon.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Boat Landing on the Heathcote River

This is a canoe landing spot by the Heathcote River. I believe the posts were painted by local schoolchildren, though tried to check this online and couldn't confirm it.

I couldn't decide between a wide view and a detail, so I have posted both.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Classic Cars Outside the Heritage Hotel

It's the start of Heritage Week here in Christchurch and these classic cars (and others) were on display outside the Heritage Hotel in Cathedral Square. The Heritage Hotel was formerly the Old Government Buildings and was converted to a hotel in the 1990s, when considerable earthquake strengthening work was undertaken. This made it one of a select number of heritage buildings to survive the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 and after repairs, it reopened in 2013. The new wing of the hotel, however, is still boarded up and unoccupied. I'm not sure whether or not it is to be demolished.

Saturday: Tree Fern

Tree fern in our garden. I climbed up a ladder to get a photo from above.

Friday, October 17, 2014


Here are a few more photos from the last few days, for Carmi's Thematic Photographic theme - patterns.

This is a workroom at the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology. The windows look directly onto the pavement on High Street, and for some reason the lights stay on when the students go home. I have always found the view into the workroom, with its row of garment patterns hanging from a rack on the wall, quite fascinating. These may not be quite the sort of patterns Carmi had in mind...

so here are a couple of photos of patterns from nature, from my walk at Travis Wetland (see yesterday's post)

dead leaves hanging on the trunks of cabbage palms

and the twisty, almost hexagonal branches of a species of kowhai.

The Gift of Water

When the second big earthquake struck Canterbury in February 2011, many areas were without running water supplies. Farmers drove tankers into town and stopped at schools and parks, where residents queued to fill buckets and containers. In some areas, old capped wells and springs burst open - inconveniently in the middle of living rooms, or more conveniently in front gardens, where some benevolent home owners rigged up pipes and taps so that passers by could fill up on clean fresh artesian water.

Eventually we had water running in our pipes again (I can still remember the utter joy of turning on a tap to find water flowing freely out of it). After even more weeks, we were told it was safe to drink without boiling first. And after another few months, the City Council were able to stop adding chlorine to the water supply in order to make it bug free.

Still, quite a few people seem to have developed a taste for the artesian water that flows from the springs. This one in the photo above is still flowing in Ernle Terrace, near the reserve where I went for a walk today. I never pass by without seeing a stream of people arriving to fill bottles transported there in car boots. Walkers fill their smaller water bottles, and those walking dogs will sometimes set down the dog's dish so that their canine companion can refresh himself.

It was a hot day, I hadn't taken a water bottle but I did stop on the way into the reserve and again on the way out to scoop water into my hands and quench my thirst.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Swans and Cygnets at Travis Wetland

I had a meeting to attend on the other side of the city, very close to Travis Wetland, so I took the opportunity to walk round the perimeter track and take lots of photos of the birds there. It turned out to be a great time to do so, being spring, with lots of cygnets, ducklings, and other youngsters. In the bird hide, the welcome swallows were nesting in the eaves, so were flying in and out really close to me.

The above is a taster (after I finish my photo a day project at the end of the month, I may go back and edit and post some of the extras). A pair of black swans with their surprisingly white chicks.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Green Stairwell

Something about this green stairwell grabbed me, when I passed it while returning to my car after a poetry reading tonight.
(Great reading - Helen Heath, Kerrin P Sharpe, Roger Hickin and an unusually excellent selection of open mic readers).

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tuesday Poem: The Godwit'sSon, by Kerrin P Sharpe

the godwit's son

left the world
in a feather bag

he left his cottage
his horse at the window
the warm wishes of snow

he left chimneys of willow
the dark voices
of dry stone flagstone

he left his mother
the whisky maker
unable to drink

and with hundreds of others
slept as he flew
and flew as he slept
to where he was

Kerrin P Sharpe

Used with permission.

"the godwit's son" is the final poem in Kerrin P Sharpe's latest collection from Victoria University Press, There's a Medical Name for This. The book was launched at the recent Christchurch Writers Festival, and Christchurch residents will have another chance to hear Kerrin read, tomorrow night (Wednesday) at the CPIT (starts 6.30 with open mic readers).

Kerrin completed Bill Manhire's original composition course in 1976 and published her first collection, Three Days in a Wishing Well, in 2012. Fortunately for her fans, it was not such a long wait for her second collection of beautifully strange and yet evocative poems.

For more Tuesday Poems visit the main hub site.

Moody Sky

Taken on the way home about five o'clock this evening.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Colourful Fence in Linwood

I spotted this while driving on an errand to my daughter's house after work today. There was a row of small shops on this corner which were badly damaged in the February 2011 earthquake and subsequently demolished. The site was quite messy for a while, but it has now been tidied up and fenced. The words on the fence read "Our love for our community is our strength".

Sunday, October 12, 2014


I was at an indoor function all day today, came home just in time to mow lawns and catch a quick shot out the window before dark.

I don't think I will ever get tired of watching the sky from here.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Saturday: Spring Snowflakes

I am currently taking a four week poetry workshop series with Joanna Preston at the South City library. It is a beautiful modern library (albeit propped up with a lot of red steel girders since the 2011 earthquake, but that is another story). Both inside and outside are full of fresh green - the sofas and armchairs inside, the trees and grass outside. In contrast to the spring green, I was rather taken with these handcut paper snowflakes on the window that separates the meeting room from the main library. Two seasons at once.

Being strongly backlit, they were rather difficult to photograph. Somehow the eye manages to read them as crisp white, but the camera doesn't.

Friday: Windmill

This windmill is on Riccarton Road outside an area of shops known as the "Windmill Centre". It does turn but otherwise doesn't appear to do anything functional. Whether there was a historic, functioning windmill on the site I am not sure. But it is a bright colourful spot in an otherwise ordinary street of shops.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

On Beauty

There was a lunar eclipse last night.For once, not only was New Zealand perfectly placed to see it, but the skies were clear. Those who saw it claim it was stunning. I didn't. Desperate for an early night, I had completely forgotten about it and gone to bed.

Nevertheless, if you really want to look at photos of the blood moon, you will find plenty all of the internet. As for me, for today's photo I have posted instead a shot of a tree that is just outside the door of my office. Because really, there is beauty everywhere, everyday. It's just that we don't notice it so much because it isn't rare.

A blood moon? Well, the sky was darker than it would normally be at the full moon, and the moon was redder. But a yellow moon is beautiful, too. And so is a sunset. And a rainbow. And any of the exquisite variety of flowers, and birds and all sorts of other things. So I refuse to be too disheartened at having missed the eclipse. (I would really like to see an aurora, sometime in my lifetime, though)

Wednesday, October 08, 2014


Street art spotted on a wall near the poetry reading I attended tonight.

"My life is so much more interesting inside my head".

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Tuesday Poem: Sonnet


These grey days, I hunger for colour. I scavenge
in produce aisles, take home bags overflowing
with orange-skinned mandarins, broccoli, dark
as pines, purple grapes, tri-coloured capsicums.

I sip herbal tea and read your messages.
Mongolia’s as hot as Korea, you say, but drier,
Everywhere is dusty. The vegetable soup is greasy
with mutton fat, and not much fibre in it.

You will pass through Osaka on your way home,
visit temples with gardens of pebbles
and carefully-raked sand. By the time you return
the maples in our garden will be swelling with new buds.

The Japanese have a special name for it.
Shinryoku – the tender new green of spring

- Catherine Fitchett

(first published in The Chook Book - Free Range Organic Poetry

I have published this poem on the blog before, but it seemed ideal to go with the photograph above. I am posting a photograph a day during October.(Missed yesterday - oops!). The trees around the corner from my work are suddenly bursting with tender green shoots and they put me in mind of this poem written one winter when my daughter was just finishing a couple of years teaching English in South Korea.

For more Tuesday Poems, visit the main hub site.

Sunday, October 05, 2014


A late afternoon view of the city (very zoomed in) from our living room window.

Saturday, October 04, 2014


Our house is not really that far from the centre of the city. However, when we moved here, my son commented "I pass cows on the way home, it's not Christchurch!".
And yes it is true, we are in some ways quite detached from the rest of the city. At the foot of the hill, at the entrance to the subdivision, there is quite a rural area of flat paddocks. Christchurch is desperate for more good housing land since the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes, however this land probably won't be built on any time soon as it is only a metre above sea level, despite being quite a way inland, and consequently very prone to flooding. Which makes it popular with birds. I frequently see pukekos here (also known as swamp hens), but it's only recently that I've spotted white faced herons and spur winged plovers.

So today I stopped to take photos, the pukekos were in the shade and came out rather blurry but I was pleased with the heron photos. No spur winged plovers today, but as a bonus there was a brown duck with a whole host of baby ducklings.


Posted a day late - one last photo on the theme of "messy". I have heard that you shouldn't change anything in a garden for the first year after you move in. Well, we have been here ten months and I have yet to discover any redeeming features in this overgrown corner, so I am planning to dig it all up and use the space for something useful. Since it is sunny, and handy to the kitchen, there will be herbs of some sort, and other edible plants. I am thinking of tomatoes, runner beans, or perhaps some blueberry bushes and other edible plants.

For more messy photos visit Carmi's blog here.

Thursday, October 02, 2014


From my lunchtime walk - a wonderfully haphazard fence, for Carmi's Messy theme of the week.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014


I'm trying to move more - last summer I was walking at least half an hour most days, often considerably more. Over the winter I more or less stopped (even though the winters are not particularly harsh around here).So today at lunchtime I took ten to fifteen minutes to walk down by the river. It's just a start, but at least it is a start.

The colours in this photo surprised me, when I uploaded it - much more varied than I expected.