Monday, September 25, 2006

Adventures on the high seas

I. had wanted to go fishing at Kaikoura yesterday. A friend of his had rung on Friday saying he was going to be there and that the weather looked perfect for it. I. hadn't been able to convince any of his fishing buddies to join him at such short notice so was going anyway.

Sunday morning was so beautiful (warm nor'west which means a flat sea at Kaikoura) that I decided I would go as well. We left a bit later than we intended (late night the previous night but that's another post) and had a very cruisy drive up. The good thing about towing a boat and having to travel more slowly than cars is that you're always driving into a clear road - everyone passes you and heads off and you never catch anyone up.

Anyway, got to the Kaikoura coast and the sea was the flattest I've ever seen. We launched at South Bay and could see that there were lots of boats out, with a few coming back. Presumably they started a lot earlier than us as it was now lunchtime. It was brilliant motoring across the bay - the water had that oily smooth look that the Sounds has and there were huge flocks of Sooty Shearwaters resting on the water. We also passed many seals just lolling about looking very relaxed.

We get to where I. wanted to fish but first he had to get the depth sounder working. There are a lot of very pointy rocks at Kaikoura and we didn't want to end up on them. Very shortly he had a line in the water and caught . . . a Jock Stewart. So that got tossed back but it looked promising. At this point I got distracted by a pod of Hectors Dolphins that cruised past and under the boat - they are extremely cute.

Then the southerly hit. There was absolutely no warning. Other boats that were around us fishing hadn't started back or anything. We hadn't missed any warning signs. One moment the ocean was a millpond and looking beautiful, the next it was a hurly burly and cold. Thankfully I was wearing my ski jacket so I didn't get too cold on the long trip back and it certainly was a long trip. Even though we were running with the wind, the sea was extremely choppy with some quite unpleasant swells. At one point I. almost fell on me as we dropped off a peak into a trough. But it never felt dangerous - just uncomfortable.

The most difficult part was retrieving the boat as the southerly hammers onto the boat ramp. First of all I. had to get me onto the jetty which was challenging as there were lots of boats hanging on, instead of dropping the retriever of the car off and moving away to let other boats in. Then some inconsiderate parkers on the ramp so that other people had no room. But the main challenge was getting the boat on the trailer as the wind kept pushing it off the side. This was the point when we got the most wet as we basically had to jump in and push the boat on! Very cold.

I'd bought a change of clothes but we had to go and buy I. shorts and a t-shirt! The shop assistant was very accommodating and allowed I. to drip into her changing room and wear the new clothes out, thankfully, so I was the only one that had to change on the side of the road. Mind you, when you're as cold as I was, you don't really care - all you want is to get the warm, dry clothes on NOW! We then followed that up with a hot coffee and a muffin - they tasted really great as well.

So it wasn't a particularly successful fishing expedition but it did turn into more of an adventure than we were expecting. Adventures are always a good thing! We got lots of fresh air and did enjoy ourselves. Slept like logs last night. Obviously I have no photos to add because it really wasn't the weather for waving the camera around. Next time.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Less than 2 weeks to go

Its just under a fortnight to go & I'll be off to the UK. This time in 2 weeks I'll still be on my way there - some where over the Atlantic I suspect. Excitement.

To add fuel to the fire, the little blister and I are going to Paris! We'll only be there for 2 nights but I don't care. Paris! Sights, coffee and struggling with my 6th form French. What more could a girl want. Well, a bit longer would be perfect but its a taster for next year.

I'm trying to not get over excited at this point because I've still got a lot of work I want to get done before I go but its fun to get excited.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Wet weekend

Just a quick note to say that, as predicted, it was a very wet weekend but the company more than made up for it! Highlights from the weekend -
  • Flock of wood pigeons taking off from a tree as we drove past - there were at least 20 of them
  • 69 classic cars blatting along the West Coast roads
  • Excellent coffee at Punakaiki
  • Saturday night function at Shanty Town where (almost) everyone dressed up
  • Fantastic croissant at Cafe de Paris in Hokitika
  • Whenever we stopped we always ran into friends
  • Wild sea and fantastic views

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Swallows yet again

It's very hard to get photos of these flighty little guys (presumably 1 guy and 1 girl). This is one of the pairs of Welcome Swallows that are building the nests you saw in yesterday's post. They perch on this skylight to preen, rest and look at us suspiciously. So very cute. In case you hadn't already guessed, I'm a bit of a bird nut (you can blame my mother for that) and it is truly exciting to me that they're building a nest where I can see it.

Today has been an absolutely fabulous day with no wind. The paraponters have been floating down over head all day, visitors to the gondola just lazing around in the car park and not so long ago, 3 young guys skateboarding in the gondola car park. Everyone is very relaxed. I haven't been so relaxed because I'm taking tomorrow off and we're going on a classic car tour so have been trying to clear the decks a bit. But I'm definitely starting to feel the weekend coming on now.

The tour starts in Maruia at the local primary school at lunchtime with the locals catering lunch for all of us (I think there's 60 cars) as a fundraiser for the school. Then we off to the West Coast for 2 nights in Greymouth with a fair bit of driving in between. Unfortunately the weather is likely to be fairly moist - if its fine here on the east coast then its usually wet on the west. Our car leaks a bit as well so it will be everything in large plastic bags and hope for the best. These classic car events are always a lot of fun because they're very social and we've made many good friends over the years - its a great opportunity to catch up with everyone. One of the best things about them is that it forces you to take a weekend off from the daily grind of just living. Here's to holidays.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Nest building progress

Top photo taken this morning, bottom photo taken 31/8/06

As you can see, the nest on the left is now HUGE - I'm not sure how the swallows manage to fit in but they are still very busily flying backwards and forwards to it. The nest on the right has increased slightly in size but I haven't seen any birds flying to it for a couple of days which is sad.

Yesterday at about 3pm we heard a sonic boom from a meteorite entering the earth's atmosphere. Because there's a workshop downstairs with flammable goods in it, at first we thought someone had managed to blow themselves up and then when everyone appeared looking hale and hearty, we thought a petrol storage tank might have blown up in Lyttelton. But it was all over the news that a meteorite had caused the boom which shook this building - quite an impressive feat as its made of concrete. Apparently they've found a piece of it somewhere near Hinds. How cool is that?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Random thoughts on a sunny spring morning

Rakaia River mouth lagoon

I've just realised that I've stopped taking photos! I had three functions last week where I would have normally waved my camera around and I didn't. Partly because at the two birthday parties there were so many cameras being used there weren't a lot of participants left that were just being at the party, instead of recording it. But also partly because of the local photography club I've joined.

I've got nothing against the club - I really enjoy it. Its the only local thing I do as I don't work locally. I guess the problem is that instead of taking more photos and trying different things, I've gone the other way and given up which is ridiculous! I'm learning a lot from the discussions at the club about taking photos, so instead of feeling that my photos are amateurish (nothing wrong with that) I should be trying harder. So starting from today I'm going to try and take at least one photo a day.

The down side of not taking photos at the birthday parties is that I now don't have many photos from them as only 1 person has shared their photos with me (unsubtle hint to my family!). I've learnt my lesson though. I'm about to go now and take a progress photo of the swallows when I have coffee.

Friday, September 08, 2006

How do I know spring is here?

Apart from the frantic nest building by the swallows, the frolicking lambs in paddocks, blossom on trees and daffodils doing their thing everywhere? I know its spring because the sun now shines directly onto my computer screen in the mornings which, while lovely, does making working more of a challenge.

It always seems a sacrilege to block the sun out but I just have to, to achieve anything. In about another month the sun is higher and it doesn't affect my ability to work to the same extent.

Yay for spring though!

Friday, September 01, 2006

More progress on the nest building

I know this photo isn't particularly clear but there are two nests and there's a swallow standing in the partially built nest on the left. Last year the nest was in the middle of the 2 beams so its interesting that this year they've shifted. I don't think there would have been much nest building going on today as the painters were water blasting the roof over them which would be enough to put any little bird off. Hopefully it hasn't put them off entirely - I won't know until Monday.