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  Saturday, 31 July 2004

Look what I made....

"What the hell is it?!", I hear you all asking. Its my first radio controled camera cradle for Kite Aerial Photography. It can pan, it can tilt, and it can fire the shutter when I tell it to, while suspended about 30m down the kite line, below one of the two parafoils I have especially for this purpose. Now I just need the right conditions, ie wind.

I'm already planning a second rig. This time big enough to carry my SLR camera aloft. It will have a video feed to the ground using a 'spy' camera to use as a kind of view finder when shooting. Also I'll add a fourth RC servo to enable me to rotate the camera from landscape to portrait from the ground. I'm pretty proud of this. I've always been better with software than hardware like this.

9:39:58 AM    Comment []

  Wednesday, 28 July 2004

Here's whats covering my desktop at the moment. Frosty grass at the shore of Whanganui Inlet in the early morning sun. Another shot from last weekend. I particularly like these kind of ordinary subjects. Just a clump of grass on the side of the road. Just like thousands of other grassy verges on this and other roads. I guess it reminds me that anything possesses its own kind of beauty...  you just need to see it in the right light.

(click for 1024x768 desktop wallpaper)

7:30:09 PM    Comment []

  Tuesday, 27 July 2004

Its the season for meteor showers around here. Saturday night there were several reports of distress flares around the region thanks to meteors. I saw one shooting star while I was driving to Collingwood on Saturday night. I heard on the radio this morning that we should expect many more between now and the end of the week. Theres a fews whisps of could around tonight but it should still be good viewing. I'm about to wrap up warm and go sit on the porch for as long as I can stand the cold. I hope there's some action out there.
8:09:17 PM    Comment []

  Monday, 26 July 2004

This weekend I went on another camper-van adventure. I set off late Saturday afternoon with plans to drive to Collingwood, spend the night somewhere along the coast, and set off at first light to explore around 80km of road to the East. A few weekends back I was near there but had continued north instead exploring the Cape Farewell/Wharariki area. The fact that I had driven past the turn-off to Wharariki Inlet didn't seem significant until I got home and checked the map. There was not only a huge inlet which was fed by several large rivers, but there were also two lakes and some beautiful beaches to explore as well. I was determined to reach the end of the road so I could be sure I hadn't missed anything. This little corner of the Nelson region seems to be a well kept secret probably because its on the way to nowhere; all roads lead to dead ends, and so much more...

First light from right outside the van door. I was standing on frosty ground in bare feet and longjohns to get this shot. I couldn't set the tripod up fast enough while dancing to keep my feet from freezing!

Under a pink sky at low tide the inlet looks like another planet.

The grasses and reeds around Whanganui Inlet, still white with frost...

...then the sun breaks over the crest of the distant hills and the whole scene changes colour, from white to golden.

Looking up under a Punga tree-fern.

One of the two Kaihoka Lakes

(click to enlarge)
A stock-yard near the coast.

I watched this scene for a while, as I made a brew of coffee in the camper-van. I found myself wondering why I have never taken up surfing. One day...
9:28:58 PM    Comment []

I have had a guts-full of reality TV.

"So what? If you don't like it, don't watch it!", you might say. The thing is, I don't watch it. I don't watch any TV (don't even have TV reception at my house). Why does it piss me off? Example... driving home from work today, I tune into a local radio station hoping for some music, and end up listening to two DJ's talking endlessly about their favourite reality TV show (Celebrity-Big-brother-Makeover-Survivors or something equally as stupid). Talking about the various contestants (are they called contestants?) and why they like/dislike them. Now call me old-fashioned but wasn't there a time when Radio was in competition with TV? Would the radio station executives prefer we listened to the old wireless instead of watching the idiot-box, as my Grandmother used to call it?

It doesn't stop there. Workmates, family, friends, they all talk about it, and when I say I have absolutely no idea what they are on about, and I'd rather talk about where I went on the weekend or the weather, they look at me like I'm an alien. And as for this Idol idea... I might be ignorant but isn't this the old Miss World idea rehashed for the new millennium? A big popularity contest for extroverts. I'd rather go out and meet someone new personally, and spend half an hour a week getting to know them. I'd probably learn more about a person face to face for half an hour than I could watching someone for a whole series of Idol, or Survivor, or Makeovers of the Rich and Shameless. Its all edited for sensationalism anyway, which kind of defeats the reality theme.

This whole trend of reality TV is just voyeurism and second-hand living. Turn the TV off, go out and experience something new for yourself, anything, then judge and analyse your own reaction to it. Its much more interesting and rewarding.

And the final straw that inspired this post/rant? News of a new show in the works which seeks to follow the families and law enforcement officers involved in child kidnappings. I can't find the words to explain how I feel about that idea... but entertainment would definitely not be one of them.
6:05:27 PM    Comment []

  Saturday, 24 July 2004

"Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom."
Albert Einstein

7:18:36 PM    Comment []

This morning in Nelson the annual 'blessing of the fleet' is happening. Nelsons fishing fleet is one of the largest in New Zealand and some years ago I was part of that industry. In an effort to 'get out of the office' for a while I worked for about five years as a deckhand on two different deep-sea trawlers. During that time several deckhands from other vessels were lost at sea. Some of them I knew, most I did not. However the thought was always with me that it could have just as easily been me. The job had inherent risks and on more than one occasion I remember thinking I was next. On such incident we were fishing for Hoki in the Cook Straight (the notoriously rough stretch of water between New Zealand's North and South Islands). We were paying out a mid-water net over the stern ramp when my foot got caught in the netting. I was dragged 3/4 of the length of the deck and over the stern. On my way over I managed to grab the gunwale with both hands and shake my boot loose. The boot went down with the net and I was dragged back on board by a fellow deckhand. The sea was very rough at the time and it was the middle of the night. If I had gone over board (and somehow managed to free my foot before being dragged under by a huge net weighing around 1 ton), by the time they got that net back on board and swung the vessel around to look for me there would have been little hope of finding anybody.

The picture below is of an old wharf which was restored by a charity set up by sea-men to help families of fishermen lost at sea. It features a specially commissioned statue of a fisherman at the helm  and is the centerpiece of Nelson harbor entrance. The blessing of the fleet is happening there this morning. I won't be attending (I hate crowds) but old friends and colleagues are still on my mind today.

9:04:19 AM    Comment []

  Wednesday, 21 July 2004

This weeks Wallpaper Wednesday was shot right next to Maruia Falls. I've even got a little video clip of the spot this photo was taken. See if you can spot the rock from the picture, in the video.

[click for 1024x768 desktop wallpaper]

10:31:00 PM    Comment []

  Tuesday, 20 July 2004

In the office the other day, I had just finished clearing away the dishes left by those poor people who are seemingly incapable of washing, drying and putting away their own coffee cups. I was wiping down the bench when a female staff member saw me and commented, "Gosh you're well trained aren't you." Rather than say something rude I said nothing, but this bugs me. I find it condescending. If it had been a woman doing the same thing she wouldn't have said that. I have lived alone for most of my adult life and the fact that I can do simple things like dishes, vacuuming, and laundry is nothing unusual. Who is supposed to have trained me anyway? My mother?

"Oh, you need a good woman to look after you..." is another comment I hear often, usually from married women. Do they not see how insulting that is? If I do need a good woman, it is most certainly NOT to look after me in the domestic sense. If I said to them "You need a good man to provide for you" I'm sure they would be offended too.

End of rant.
6:27:32 PM    Comment []

  Monday, 19 July 2004

When you drive off the Interislander Ferry after crossing from the North Island to the South Island there are two ways to get to Nelson. The quickest way is the wide, fast, inland route which cuts through the heart of the Marlbrough winemaking country, or there's the slow way. The slow way is the original route which hugs the coastline through Queen Charlotte Sound. The road is narrow and windy but most people who come this  way do so for the views, and aren't in any hurry. I took this way home on Sunday morning and as usual stopped along the way to gather photos.

7:52:11 PM    Comment []

  Sunday, 18 July 2004

"It's not having what you want
It's wanting what you've got..."
Sheryl Crow - Soak Up the Sun

This morning started out with Sheryl Crow blaring on the van stereo as I left Renwick heading home, the long way via Queen Charlotte Drive. A fitting song for the way I was feeling. I stayed last night at Mark and Pamela's where I watched the All-blacks beat Aussie convincingly in atrocious conditions.  The drive home was beautiful. (Thanks for the reminder about that place Briggsy.) Pictures tomorrow.

Also this weekend I gave my car the big-final-cleanout ready to sell it. You know, after vacuming half a ton of sand out of it, cleaning, poslishing, and reviving the whole thing, right down to the tires, I think I want to keep it now, at least until it gets half dirty again. While I had all the gear out and the driveway was already a mud plug, I cleaned the van too (it won't fit through a standard car wash, I checked). Dam its big. I'm 6'2" and I need a step ladder to clean the top!
6:17:39 PM    Comment []

  Friday, 16 July 2004

I had a really strange dream last night. I had just arrived in prison (I don't know what for). I was a really modern prison that for some reason was part of a large shopping mall. My brother was there along with a few old friends I've lost contact with. Soon after arriving I accidentaly escape, by just taking a wrong turn and end up wandering the shopping mall, lost. Knowing what trouble I'll be in I ask a nice lady shop assistant to show me the way back to the prison, which she does.

I wonder what this dream means?

Update: I 've done some searching and found some reasons for dreaming about prisons. Here are a few excerpts....

  • To dream that you are in prison, signifies that you are being censored and not allowed to express yourself.
  • To dream that someone else is in prison, signifies an aspect of yourself that you are unable to express freely.
  • To dream that you or someone is released from prison, denotes that you need to make major changes to your waking life. Eventually, you will overcome your misfortune.
  • Dreaming about jail may make you think that you have done something immoral, illegal, or an act that merits punishment.
  • You may also have a fear of being trapped emotionally or physically.
  • This dream suggests that you have obstacles in your life that may not be easy to overcome.

I think the first reason in the list above makes sense to me, but the fact that in my dream I am anxious to get back to prison after I accidentally escape, could mean I am guilty of censoring myself.... something that has been pointed out to me recently (aye Briggsy? ; ) ) The presence of my brother and old friends in the prison is curious though.

7:44:48 AM    Comment []

  Thursday, 15 July 2004

Some pictures from earlier this week...

I camped beside this river in the van on Monday night. I could hear it rambling all night, a soothing sound to sleep to.

In the morning the whole area was shrouded in a thick mist. You can see the last of the mist here, retreating down to the valley floor as the sun rises.

The Punakaiki Coast line is stunning and so many beaches to explore!

This is the beach where I met the seal.

(Click to enlarge)
Punakaiki Beach has been added to my kite buggy list for summer.

8:59:33 PM    Comment []

Woo Hoo! I got to have a blast on my kite buggy today! Its been a particularly windless winter this year. The little wind there has been has usually been accompanied by rain or hail, or its been an absolute gale. This afternoon however was different. I was itching to get away from work because the had been a nice northerly wind blowing all afternoon and I knew it was low tide at the beach.

When I finally did get away the wind had shifted to the north-east. The beach faces north-west so I had to do a lot of tacking across the beach, but I wasn't going to let that put me off. All my kites have been in the back of the van (or car) for months, just in case. I decided on my 6.3m c-quad and after spending about 20 frustrating minutes untangling the bridles (I must have been in a hurry last time I packed it away) I was away. I worked my way to the widest part of the beach and buggyed back and forth for over an hour, until it was dark and my fingers were numb from cold. The beach is only a about 150m across yet I managed to travel about 7.5 kilometers according to my speedo.

I can't wait for summer...
7:27:05 PM    Comment []

  Wednesday, 14 July 2004

On my trip down the West Coast during the last couple of days I met this guy... up close. I was photographing some interesting rocks on one of the hundreds of small beaches along the stretch of coast around Punakaiki. I turned to leave and there he was, scratching and yawning like I didn't exist. He didn't mind me crawling within a few meters of him, in fact he seemed completely indifferent to my presence. I thought he'd make a nice desktop wallpaper image. 

(Click for 1024x768 desktop wallpaper)

9:28:58 PM    Comment []

  Tuesday, 13 July 2004

I have had the last two days off work and have just returned from an overnight trip down the West Coast as far a Punakaiki, home of the famous Pancake Rocks. I took many pictures  but they will have to wait till tommorrow after I get the film developed. This strech of coast is incredibly beautiful and the only trouble with driving down this coast is I feel compelled to stop every few minutes to photograph the view, only to find one even more stunning just around the next corner.

I have never travelled outside of New Zealand. I remember making a concious decision in my late teens to drink my fill of this place before venturing overseas. Now that I am in my early thirties I am beginning to wonder if I will ever leave. So many New Zealanders I know who have travelled the world, speak of a renewed appreciation of what we have here, upon their return. I know there must be wonders in this world that I would never regret seeing first hand, but I also know that as long as I live I will never have enough of this  majestic, unspoilt land.
8:32:59 PM    Comment []

  Monday, 12 July 2004

1:21:01 PM    Comment []

  Sunday, 11 July 2004

About 10 years ago my older brother died. He was involved in a car accident 1 week before Christmas. After his cremation we decided as a family to scatter his ashes in an area of native bush in the Marlbrough Sounds, an area he frequented and loved. The place we choose was a few hundred meters from the road, through dense bush, at the base of a large Beech Tree, in the middle of a scenic reserve. We mounted a small brass plaque on the tree to remind us of the place.  Since then myself, and a few others that I know of have visited the spot. I take 10 minutes whenever I'm in the area to find that tree amongst all that bush and just sit for a few minutes. I went there today and the plaque had been removed. I can't think why someone would do that. The chances of anyone even finding it without directions were slim. If you didn't know it was there you could walk right by it and not see it. There are no walking tracks of other public facilities in the area, its just steep, bush covered back country. Yet someone has gone out of their to remove and discard the small brass plaque that simply said...

"Remember, Brendon David Neill, 1969 - 1994".
9:49:12 PM    Comment []

Just got back from last nights impromptu excursion. Heres the view I woke up to this chilly morning.

The Pelorus River as seen from Totara Flat.
12:14:15 PM    Comment []

  Saturday, 10 July 2004

Its 11.50pm. I've just made a flask of coffee, got my camera and toothbrush, and I'm on my way out the door to  go and sleep in my campervan somewhere, just so I can wake up to a new view. I haven't decided where yet, I'll just drive until I decide to stop. I love the fact that I can do this...
11:53:37 PM    Comment []

  Thursday, 8 July 2004

I have just watched Traveling Birds and Finding Nemo. I don't know which one I enjoyed more but throughly recommend both.

Traveling Birds is nothing short of astonishing. Superb cinematography and masterful editing. I bought the DVD and couldn't wait to watch the behind the scenes featurette to see just how they got some of the incredible footage of birds in flight.

I laughed all the way through Finding Nemo. Loved the Sea Turtles.
7:10:40 PM    Comment []

I woke up this morning with a very sore lower back. I must have slept crooked. I need a little Japanese Girl to walk up and down my back for a while to straighten it out. Any volunteers?
5:09:36 PM    Comment []

  Wednesday, 7 July 2004

(click for 1024x768 desktop wallpaper)

My favourite shot from last weekend.
7:38:36 PM    Comment []

  Tuesday, 6 July 2004

Fifeshire Rock (pictured) sits in the middle of what used to be the entrance to Nelson Harbour. As you can see at low tide there is not alot of water there. Big ships would have to wait for high tide to get in or out. The rock is named after a 557 ton sailing ship, which was one of a group of four ships to visit Nelson in 1842, bringing settlers from London. The Fifeshire was on its maiden voyage and already had the reputation of being an unlucky ship by the time it arrived in Nelson. 17 passengers had died at sea from what is only recorded as "a fever", and as if that wasn't enough, she had a very close encounter with a rocky shoreline near Stephens Island, almost at the journeys end. The last bit of bad luck came when she was leaving Nelson on Feburary 27 1842, less than a month after her arrival. She was a little late leaving and the high tide had turned by the time she reached Fifeshire Rock. Just when her cumbersome hull had almost cleared the harbour mouth, the wind dropped and left her to drift onto arrow reef, right beside the landmark rock that now bears her name. The retreating tide made it impossible to get the Fifeshire off the reef again and her own weight broke her back.

The story has a happy ending though. All the passengers were saftley disembarked and the man who bought the wreck for salvage is said to have done very well from the venture.

btw... This entrance is no longer used because a new one, known as The Cut was made by carving a hole through the Boulder Bank that surronds the harbour.
6:31:39 PM    Comment []

  Monday, 5 July 2004

On Saturday afternoon I set out on a mission to the north-west corner of the South Island. This was to be both a photographic quest, and a kite buggy reconisance trip. I wanted to check out Farewell Spit.  It is a huge arm of sand that completes Golden Bay and protects it from the wild weather that hits the west coast. Farewell Spit itself proved a little hard to get to. You can only walk the first 2.5 km of it; a fraction of its total length, and the only other way to see it was in a large four-wheel drive bus behind a wall of glass. It is heavily protected because of the huge variety of birdlife it is home to. I don't like my chances of being able to kite buggy on it. The good news is the area around the spit is amazing and I found two other very promising beaches which I will buggy when the tide and winds are right.

On Saturday night I camped in a little clearing in the scrub beside the road, near the top of a hill. I wasn't exactly sure where until the morning because I arrived in the dark. Not to many street lights out here. In the morning I embarked on a hike that yeilded some photographs of the most spectacular coastline I have ever seen. From the lighthouse at the top of the hill, just west of Pakawau, all the way down to the coast, then along the cliff edge for a couple of hours, finally arriving at Wharariki Beach. This beach is a jewel. As a kite buggyier and as a photographer, I couldn't imagine a better place.

The view from the lighthouse looking south along the west coast. I had camped at the start of the track, about 10 mins walk from this view.

The sea pounds at the cliff face at Cape Farewell.

Standing on Cape FareWell looking North. The lush green farmland comes to an abrut end.

The prize at the end of the hike (actually only half way, I had to walk back too). Wharariki beach, seen here at high tide, will be awesome fun to kite buggy. I'll have to carry kite buggy and kites along a cattle track to get there but it will be worth it. I might even be the first person to buggy it! When the tide is out I should be able to get right down to the bluffs in the distance. The other beach I found on the way home was Pakawau beach. Its alot like rabbit island and I can park right on it.

All objectives achieved. Some great scenic shots and two new beaches to buggy.
10:06:11 PM    Comment []

Between camping trips, and being smited by the computer Gods, I have been struggling to get something posted on this blog for days now. Finally its seems the computer Gods are smiling on me (I won't bore you with the details), and have allowed me to post again!

So, I have a bit to catch up on! I've spent two more nights away in my van. Friday night was spent on the banks of the Appleby River. Not too far from home, as I wanted to have a bit of a trail run before going a bit further abroad on Saturday Night.

It was nice to wake up on Saturday morning to this muted sunrise...

6:43:59 PM    Comment []

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