Thursday, May 24, 2007


Had a lovely time on Monday night with fellow members of the local photography club learning tips and tricks to help us take and work with photos on our computers. A lot of fun. My only problem was that I'd been on a course all weekend and was feeling a bit worn out. Aside from that, it was most enjoyable.

BUT, as I left (in the dark and cold) and was running across the lawn dodging shrubs (believe me, it was the only way out!) the sprinklers came on!! Couldn't believe it. I haven't heard if anyone else got caught. It certainly made for a speedier exit.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Weekend playing in Kaikoura

Sunday morning, Kaikoura, 13th May 2007

We've just had a weekend away in Kaikoura, playing with our classic car friends and it was a lot of fun. This was a different style of weekend to the ones we normally run. Normally we have tour notes and a lot of structure but as this was an additional weekend to what we normally offer, I couldn't be bothered writing tour notes and running around checking the route. Instead, on Friday night after talking to various people that were on the weekend about what sort of driving they might be interested in, I photocopied a map and applied a highlighter. Much simpler.

We were extremely lucky with the weather as well. It was a perfect autumn weekend - crisp mornings (no frosts yet though!) and clear sunny days. We haven't had the extremely strong winds we normally get at this time of the year so the autumn leaves are still on all the trees. Very spectacular driving on the inland Kaikoura road through to Hamner. It was perfect weather for owning a soft top car. Unfortunately, our classic cars are still off the road so we had to travel in the Subaru wagon - not very exciting.

We'd decided that we would stay at the YHA for the weekend. Its right on the seafront with great views looking back towards Kaikoura and gets all the afternoon sun. We also decided that we weren't going to self cater! This time we were going to eat out for every single meal over the weekend and we did. Fantastic fun.

Found an excellent cafe (Encounter) that opened at 7.30am for our breakfasts. I was good on Saturday morning and had muesli and natural yoghurt but they offered hotcakes with bacon and bananas as well so I succumbed on Sunday morning! As did I. The service was excellent and the cafe wasn't really noisy like so many modern places are. The other excellent aspect was that it was on the esplanade so you could sit there and look at the sea. So many places in Kaikoura don't have a sea view.

The weekend was based around Donegal House, which is an Irish Bar with restaurant and accommodation. I'd stayed there a couple of years ago with another group and found the accommodation excellent. The appeal is that everything is on site so you don't have to worry about people driving after maybe having too much to drink. The owner is a law unto himself and is passionate about his Irish music and plays it extremely loudly but its all a lot of fun.

So all in all, it was a very relaxing and casual weekend. Beautiful weather, fantastic company and interesting roads. Plus, we weren't at home slaving away on the house. Always a good thing. Everyone that attended were very keen for another weekend like it but having organised two events in a row, I'm quite keen to have a break. We'll probably do it again next year though!

Labels: ,

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Photography success

I belong to the local photography club and last night had a surprising success of an Honours and an Acceptance for two of my child portraits. I've only ever had an Acceptance once before and this was my first Honours so it was quite exciting. Mind you, they were photos of my two nephews F. and F. who are both extremely photogenic so as a photographer, all I have to do is make sure its in focus and the rest they do.

My friend Scrap Pea also got an Honours and an Acceptance so overall, we had a great night.


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

A day of sun in amongst the gloomy weather

Autumn colours on Ashburton Domain, 29th April 2007
Had a lovely time on Sunday. We belong to a classic car club and I'd organised a day run on Sunday around and about in Mid-Canterbury. I'd had some help planning the route from my parents which was great. We decided that we would drive the route to check it and I'm glad we did, because at one point we ended up driving down a long, rough shingle road that had road works on it. There would have been a lot of unhappy campers if we'd used that road.

We started at Rakaia with 15 cars (which is an excellent turnout for a day run) and went via Barhill to the Ashburton Domain for lunch. By the time we got there, the day had become very sunny with minimal wind. The Domain was fantastic. It has a lot of well grown trees and the autumn colours were impressive. There's a maple grove that was spectacularly red.

4 cars joined us at lunchtime from a car club in Timaru which was fun. It was interesting though because they had quite a different attitude to the run than we did. They always travelled in convoy and one person expressed concern over the long drive (100km!!). Mind you, another one of them couldn't even find the Domain so it didn't bode well for their day.

We'd put the route around Lake Hood, which is the new man made lake near Ashburton. Most people had never been there although all of them had heard of it. Then out to the lost settlement of Waterton, though Longbeach, back over the river and down to Hakatere (Ashburton River mouth) and a finish with a cup of tea at the Ashburton Aviation Museum.

Hakatere is amazing as the river mouth is quite small but there's a large lagoon and a large population of cormorants. When we checked the route on Saturday they were in two flocks, one each side of the river mouth, and there was a lot of splashing and washing going on in the river and then drying of wings on the beach.

Finishing at the Ashburton Aviation Museum was excellent as it gave a final destination for people. My parents are heavily involved in the museum and had arranged cups of tea and biscuits as a small fundraiser for the museum. I could tell my father had been involved in the purchase of the biscuits because there was a good assortment of chocolate ones - lovely. They had opened the hanger doors to the workshop and put chairs out in the sun but out of the wind. A nice and relaxing way to finish the day for most people.

Unfortunately one participant got blinded by the low sun over some trees (a real hazard at this time of the year) and quietly drove into a ditch. Luckily they were all OK but obviously shaken. The local farmer towed his car out with a tractor and it looked as though it had no panel damage but it wouldn't start. So an unfortunate end to what had been a very cruisy day.