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  Wednesday, 30 March 2005

It has been horrifically windy here.  Usually I like wind being a kite flier and all, but this is the kind of wind that tears trees from the ground. I had a long and restless night last night. In the narrow little valley I live in the Southwest wind can only reach us in great swirling gusts. It can be almost completely windless one minute, then like a wave approaching you can hear it charging through the tree tops down the valley. For 20 or 30 seconds it gets louder and louder until it hits, then it somehow seems to blow in every direction at once swirling and rolling, throwing things up in the air then flinging them down again with equal force. I would wake up for each one of these waves, and with one eye open watch the huge poplar trees behind my house, silhouetted against the dim grey sky being flung about like long grass in a sea breeze. Every few minutes one of their smaller branches they shed so easily, would hit the side of the house, or the tin roof. I was waiting for one to hit a window. A least twice I was woken by the crack of brittle wood loud enough to know that it was no mere limb, and I just lie there hoping nothing was about to fall on the house. This morning confirmed the carnage. The yard was covered in branches, the river clogged with them. I have found seven trees down so far, three of them within 50 meters of the house. The largest was a Macrocarpa tree up upwind of the house that has laid down. Its trunk larger than I could stretch my arms around split vertically as it has been bent over like a sapling underfoot. I remember this. It was the loudest 'crack' that got me out of bed this morning at first light. I had been awake for hours anyway. Kaycee, however seemed to sleep very well.
7:58:27 PM    Comment []

  Monday, 28 March 2005

11:28:53 AM    Comment []

  Sunday, 27 March 2005

I got to Rabbit Island Beach yesterday afternoon just in time for the wind to stop, the sunshowers to start, and a very bright rainbow display.

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3:49:12 PM    Comment []

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3:43:58 PM    Comment []

  Saturday, 26 March 2005

I picked up five videos tapes this afternoon from the bargin bin at the Warehouse. I just went in to get gas refills for the campervan cooker and came out with tonights viewing and a wall clock.  For $6.99 each (to own), on tonights programme we have:

  • The Insider - Starring Al Pancino (always good) and one of Russell Crowes better performances.
  • Instinct - Starring Anthony Hopkins and Cuba Gooding Jr.
  • High Fidelity - John Cusack in one of my all time favourite movies. Watch it, if you haven't already. Its great.
  • Snake Eyes - Starring Nicolas Cage and Gary Sinse.
  • And last but not least, for the intermissions between movies, we have *in my best Johnny Gomez voice* Celebrity Deathmatch - Round 6. Includes these fights to the death:
    • Britney Spears vs. Christina Agullera
    • Kenny G vs. Flea (bass player from Red-hot Chilli Peppers)
    • Eminem vs. Kid Rock
    • Heather Locklear vs. Pamela Anderson Lee
    • Axl Rose vs. Slash
    • James Hetfield (Metalica) vs. Fred Durst (Limp Biskit)

This could be and all nighter. I need pop-corn and fizzy drink.

8:13:25 PM    Comment []

  Friday, 25 March 2005

Its been raining here. A lot. Not steady rain though. All night I've been woken by deluges. Rain will come down in bucket loads for ten or twenty minutes then stop almost instantly. I then get just enough time to drift back to sleep, and someone turns the rain on full again. Its been coming down so hard and fast that my guttering on the house can't keep up. After a minute it starts to flow over the side of the spouting and down in front of my bedroom window hitting the wooden window sill and drumming me back to sleep.

This morning I had to put on all my gortex leggings, rain jacket, and hat, and climb onto picnic table, up onto the shed roof, and from there onto the house roof to clear out the scum in the spouting. All during the biggest deluge so far. When the cascade of water starts flowing down the inside of the bedroom window something must be done. I managed to cut the back of my hand on the edge of the roofing iron (not seriously) while I was out there, but the water now flows where it should. I got back inside and as I was peeling of my wet colthes and dry myself off, the rain stopped. Looks like it gonna clear now.

9:49:06 AM    Comment []

  Wednesday, 23 March 2005

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10:06:28 PM    Comment []

Do you ever...

  1. Leave the house (empty) for more than a few minutes without locking any doors or windows (and not worry about it while you're gone)?
  2. Leave your vehicle unattended in a public place unlocked with window(s) down for more than a few minutes?
  3. Go to sleep for the night without locking the front door?

It occurred to me that I do these things almost every day (I probably shouldn't, but I do). I love living in NZ.

8:14:58 PM    Comment []

I had already been up an hour when I took these photos this morning on my drive to work (this is three frames stiched together). My body is still adjusting to the clocks going back an hour on Saturday night for the daylight savings change. Since I don't have an alarm clock (prefer to rely on my body clock) it usually takes about a week. For that week each year I'm ahead of the world for a change. There's something special about being up and about at this time of day while the rest of the city sleeps on, like you're being let in on a secret.

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1:37:53 PM    Comment []

  Tuesday, 22 March 2005

Yesterday the note below appeared in the mailbox from the couple contracted by NZ Post to deliver the mail in the rural valley I live in:

Happy Easter to you all.
We wish to advise that there will be no mail delivery during the Easter period. The next delivery will be Tuesday 29th March. Have a safe and enjoyable break.
"Your Posties" (XXXX and XXXX XXXXXXXX)

This was printed on a small strip of paper cut so they could make 10-15 'notices' from 1 A4 piece of paper. This arrived Monday. There was no delivery today. I have three major problems with this.

  1. Why are we going without mail for one full week when as far as I know there are only two statutory holidays during the Easter "period", namely Good Friday and Easter Monday? Sure, take a well earned break from your contract, but can you say "relief driver"?
  2. We will be one full week without mail and we only find out the day before? A weeks warning would have been nice (if not a common courtesy).  Just a simple "By the way, if your wanting anything urgent/important delivered don't expect it by mail Easter week" would have gone a long way. What if I'm waiting on parts for my computer, or contract to sign sealing an important deal, or even worse, a cheque? I might have opted for a private courier company if I'd known!
  3. Where is my mail going in the meantime? Can I come and pick it up or are you just going to hold it prisoner for seven days?

Luckily I am not expecting on anything earth-shatteringly important in the mail for the next week, but that is not the point. The point is I could be, and so could anyone else on their delivery run, and now we have no opportunity to make alternative delivery arrangements. The note didn't even have a "sorry for any inconvenience", like it is quite alright to leave a rural community without a mail service for a full week with barely 24 hours notice.

Would anyone reading this find this acceptable in their area?

I will be penning a brief but strongly worded letter to NZ Post and forwarding the contractor a copy. I hope their contract does not get renewed. Hang on... forget the letter, I wonder if I can email NZ Post? Or would that be like giving in to the competition for them?

5:13:52 PM    Comment []

  Sunday, 20 March 2005

10:45:40 PM    Comment []

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10:06:12 AM    Comment []

  Thursday, 17 March 2005

"The leaders of Times Mirror and Tribune have proven to be mirrors of a general trend in the media world: They serve their stockholders first, Wall St. second, and somewhere far down the list comes service to newspaper readerships. Profits: that's what it's all about now"
Pulitzer Prize-winning Journalist Laura Garrett, 3/1/05

Interesting reading. I think weblogs have a part to play...

9:07:01 PM    Comment []

  Wednesday, 16 March 2005

Four views from the Lewis Pass to choose from for wallpaper this week. These were all taken on my drive home on Sunday.

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10:16:24 PM    Comment []

  Tuesday, 15 March 2005

If I can just teach her to make the coffee, I think I'll have the perfect traveling companion...

9:41:46 PM    Comment []

Heres a taste of my weekend in Christchurch for the Kitesports Challenge on New Brighton Beach...

...and I took heaps more photos here.

6:23:58 PM    Comment []

  Monday, 14 March 2005

You wouldn't want to travel anywhere by road with me. I hate being in a hurry to drive anywhere. Most people round here will tell you they can drive to Christchurch from Nelson in around 5 hours. On my way home yesterday afternoon it took me just over 8 eight hours; a pretty hot time for me.

If I'm in a hurry, I can't stop. If I can't stop, I can't take photos. If I can't take photos, I'd rather walk. I just can't understand how people can fly through the Lewis Pass in the late afternoon sun at 120kph, and not (at least) slow down for the views.

Me, I'm stopping every kilometer to get another shot. I have about 120 'keepers' from the weekend, to offload from the camera tonight, so look out later on for some views from the road. Also heaps of kite buggy/surf/board shots from the Kitesport event on South New Brighton Beach to come. I'm still working on the old slow windows 98 'backup' computer, so it could take a while :)   

In the meantime here is Friday nights sunset. This was the very first photo stop of my drive to Christchurch, and I was only ten minutes from home!

...followed by Saturday mornings sunrise after 6 hours sleep in the van, in a rest area, somewhere one the south side of the Lewis Pass road...

6:51:02 PM    Comment []

  Friday, 11 March 2005

I'm taking off for New Brighton Beach in Chirstchurch again this weekend. Third weekend in a row away in the campervan. No wonder I'm behind on housework and gardening. Theres always next weekend. On Saturday New Brighton Beach is the location of the Cantabury Kitesports Day, which apparently includes some kite buggy 'there and back' timetrails. I will be entering and hopefully I'll be competitive. We'll see.

Heres a New Brighton Beach two weekends ago. Beleive it or not this photo was taken at midday. Hopefully the weather will be a little brighter tomorrow.

4:36:36 PM    Comment []

  Wednesday, 9 March 2005

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9:37:37 PM    Comment []

I bought a didgerido. There, I said it; even if I'm not sure how to spell it. I'm not sure why I bought it apart from the thought has occurred to me a few times in the last year or so... and an odd series of co-incidences that led me to find it.

I got it while in Christchurch two weekends ago. I was supposed to meet up with a couple of other guys to go kite buggying, but the winds were wrong, and the plans were changed. Being the only one with no cell phone, I didn't get the message so missed everybody. When I gave up waiting at the old meeting point, I decided to head home to Nelson, but got slightly lost on the way out of town. I ended up driving into the center of Christchurch City instead. As I drove past the Cathedral Square in the dead center of town, the thought of learning to play a didgerido occurred to me out of the blue, again. I knew there was a little shop somewhere in Christchurch which sells them (cosmic corner) but had no idea where is was. I was in need of a walk, and had a couple of hours up my sleeve, so I decided to have a look around for it. No sooner had I thought that when a car park 'materialised' before me, so I swung the van into it. From the corner I was parked on I had the choice of five roads I could have walked down. I walked two blocks, straight to the door of the shop I was looking for by pure luck. They had a small selection of didges in stock, and this one just felt right.

I don't think I'll be recording or playing concerts anytime soon. I am enjoying just sitting in the back yard, cross legged on the picnic table, with the didge pointed at the side of the garden shed for acoustics, just making noises like a cartoon kangaroo in slow motion, until my lips feels like they are twice their normal size. Its like a brain massage and one of the most relaxing things I've ever tried.

If you want to hear a real didge player, and very talented singer/songwriter, check out the sounds of Xavier Rudd. There are a few mp3 samples available on his site and they are well worth a listen... but if you've got a fast internet connection (sorry Briggsy), heres a video treat (or try here with a modem if you're keen).

8:41:29 PM    Comment []

  Monday, 7 March 2005

"My little dog - a heartbeat at my feet."
Edith Wharton

5:33:16 PM    Comment []

  Sunday, 6 March 2005

Time for a catch up :)

First, I've been having a few technical difficulties latley. Mainly caused by the fact that the laptop I usually use has been retired. Another one is to be forthcoming. The sooner the better. In the interim I am reduced to blogging, and emailing on Windows '98 with a 233mhz processor. Yawwwn.

To rub salt in, it won't let me instant message (because apparently I am corupt; I don't know who told them). And the final fatal nail in the coffin that made me throw my hands in the air and go camping? It wouldn't recognise my camera. I was insulted. I had to go into work this evening just to offload my pictures of the weekend.

I've been to westport and back to kite buggy. The scenery was better than the wind.

I arrived at Carters Beach (near Westport on the West Coast of the South Island) at about 3pm. There was a weak wind and big C-Quads (8.5m and over) were the only choice for buggying. The big fish in the photo was having trouble staying aloft.

The sutble sunset from the South end of Carters Beach on Saturday night.

Looking North on Carters Beach.

There were quite a few of these jellyfish washed up on the beach. At first I tried hard to avoid them in the kite buggy, worried they might still be capable of stinging. I stopped worrying when I saw a group of kids happily hurling them at each other.

The wind this morning in Westport was full of rain and Northerly. The wrong direction for a West facing beach like Carters, but perfect for a North facing one like Rabbit Island, back in Nelson. I headed home in time to get a good run in a cranking wind on Rabbit Island Beach about 4pm.

The drive home was made even better by some fast changing light in the buller gorge. With everything wet from the passing showers and glowing when the sun regularly broke through the clouds, the always breathtaking scenery was even more so today. I stopped often for picture. Here are just a few of the Buller River.

10:23:34 PM    Comment []

  Wednesday, 2 March 2005

This is the view I woke up to on Saturday morning, camped next to a tarn in the Lewis Pass.

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4:31:06 PM    Comment []

  Tuesday, 1 March 2005

On Friday night, on my way South I made it as far as the top of the Lewis Pass, before I began to look for a place to stop for the night. I pulled into a rest area next to a tarn. Nearby was a 20 min loop track through alpine scrub and grasses. The perfect photographic way to start my Saturday. The thing I like most about this environment is the lichens and mosses. They thrive here and all the trees are shrouded in beards of grey-green crystaline growth...

There's something about waking up among the mountains that 'sets you up' for the rest of the day.
6:32:26 PM    Comment []

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