my life in the land down under

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Signs of Spring

There hasn’t been much time for updating the blog recently. In fact I was skiving off cooking dinner to write this! My workplace has been extra-busy and short-staffed over the past few weeks, so that has been taking a fair bit of my energy.

Things are looking up though – spring is on the way! We have recently had daffodils and strongly-scented earlicheer in the house, and now have freesias flowering so couldn’t resist picking a few for a vase. Some of the flowering cherries have also been in blossom (see photos below), though ours hasn’t passed the bud stage yet. A number of tuis were busy feeding as I was photographing the blossom but I didn’t have the time or the quick reflexes to capture them on camera – I did try.

The learning curve of photography, social media and life in general continues…

…I joined Pinterest and attempted to figure out how to use it (the reaction from the other member of the household was ‘oh no, not another time waster!!’). 😉
…visited the vintage camera section on TradeMe (our Ebay equivalent) for the first time in a while, and made two purchases – more on this at a later date.
…made a movie with my Nikon D7000 showing the faulty operation of one of the aforementioned cameras, edited it in iMovie, and uploaded it to You-tube for the seller to view. I have to acknowledge this was John’s suggestion and I couldn’t have done it without his help. He suggested I might make a You-tube star someday! 😀

This last week we have been busier than usual with social events.

…our camera club annual trophy competition – we didn’t have any entries in this year, but enjoyed the evening regardless; it was a good opportunity to catch up with friends and also get to know some newer club members.
…a work colleague’s farewell dinner – we ate at a Mexican restaurant for possibly the first time (yum). Watching food programmes like MasterChef has given me an interest in trying different cuisines. Now we just need the time and money to visit all the local restaurants! 🙂
…two family birthdays and a dinner out to celebrate – Happy Birthday to Levi for last week and Bryce for yesterday.
…we found out a few days ago that my eldest nephew has just got engaged – congrats to Josh & Mandy!

Flowering Cherries #1

Flowering Cherries #2


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Trees I Have Known

As we were about to leave for Napier a few weeks ago, John let me know the council had arrived and were in the process of planting a tree. So at risk of annoying him (because we were already running late), I stopped packing for a few minutes, grabbed the camera and rushed outside to record the moment. I’m sure some of the people who turn up at our place must think, who is this crazy woman? In this case, why is she so excited about a tree?!

When we married almost seven years ago, we had mature camellias and rhododendrons flowering close to the house. Unfortunately they blocked a lot of light from the living area so when we cleaned up the section with intent to renovate, they were among the first to go, along with several citrus trees from around the back.

Camellia & Rhododendron

There was a Himalayan Cedar, aka Cedrus deodara, a huge tree worthy of its own post (see The Saga of the Cedar).

Our next-door neighbours had a small, prettily-shaped kowhai which we could see from our main bedroom. This was very attractive to tuis when it was in flower in the springtime; I loved hearing the birdsong as they enjoyed the nectar, and had to laugh when I saw one chasing other birds away so it could have the tree all to itself! Last year the neighbours chopped the tree down; I’m not sure why, maybe the dropped flowers made too much of a mess on an otherwise pristine section. I was disappointed enough to put a status update on Facebook (I don’t update very often).


Then there was the variegated pohutukawa. Planted on another corner of our section and effectively on council land, it was initially surrounded by other trees and shrubs. Council workers came to give the area a tidy-up and removed most of the other trees, leaving a tall and misshapen pohutukawa on its own. It gradually filled out and flowered and was looking good. Until it grew too close to the power lines; then it also was removed.

Variegated Pohutukawa in flower

Its been a while since we lost the other trees and we had almost forgotten the council’s promise of a replacement.  Until the arborists arrived…

And now we have a Prunus amanogawa. It’s a type of flowering cherry, otherwise known as ‘flagpole cherry’ or ‘lombard poplar cherry’. Results of a quick google search also indicated that the flowers are attractive to birds, including tuis.

I’m looking forward to spring this year. 🙂

Prunus amanogawa newly planted

Prunus amanogawa (flowering cherry) in bud


GOYA – Wood we or woodn’t we?

Here’s the follow-up to my previous post on GOYA, as promised.

The Set Subject for the day was ‘Wood’ – interpreted any way we liked. Some of the group headed off to an area with old buildings, others were talking about a park with lots of lovely trees, so I fully expected some shots with gorgeous autumn colours to appear in the final entries.

John & I travelled about an hour out of town to attend an appointment with a client. When we got there we discovered they lived in a two-storey wooden house surrounded by bush. After we had been there a while and had a cuppa with them I explained about GOYA and asked permission to take some photos inside the house. We saw some of his wooden carvings and she told me a story about a tree near the house – when the fruit ripens at this time of year, the tuis get drunk on it and their birdsong goes all wonky – they make strange sounds amongst their musical notes anyway, but apparently they go way out of tune. I think she called it a strawberry tree (?).

After we left them we visited a local boat ramp with a wooden jetty and boat sheds. A man who lived up the hill saw us photographing and came down to talk with us – when we explained our subject was ‘wood’ he led us up the hill to a group of very tall trees and recommended we lie on our backs in the undergrowth and photograph upwards, which John proceeded to do (earlier he also lay full length on the jetty to get a different perspective; he is much more adventurous than I am). I was a bit lazier and just stood looking up with my camera, but had to lean on a tree to keep from falling over backwards. I think this is called ‘serendipity’ as we had no idea the trees were there.

We travelled a bit further looking for interesting ‘wood’ subjects, and found an old barn which John also got a great shot of, using a wooden fence to frame it (which I hadn’t even thought of). We saw lots of autumn colour but decided not to photograph any of it, as expected we would have some competition from those who went to the park.

After arriving home, doing some editing with Adobe Lightroom / Photoshop, and asking the opinion of other family members, we decided on our entries and emailed them through to Jason (GOYA organiser) on Sunday. Then we had to wait until our camera club meeting on Thursday night to find out how we’d done.

There were a number of great entries but apparently the majority really liked the trees, and so I won the Popular Choice vote! Jason tells me my prize is free coffee & cake at the next GOYA meeting, so I’m hoping he organizes it on a day I’m not rostered to work.

Old Barn

Awesome Foursome