San Francisco

San Francisco was the last stop on my holiday, on the way back to London.

I’ve always wanted to go there so I’m glad we got the chance. We spent two nights there and managed to do quite a bit. Here are some photos to illustrate!

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Did I say San Francisco? I meant Tokyo again! Actually, this was taken in the Japanese Tea Garden in the Golden Gate Park. Which reminds me, I haven’t been to the Japanese garden in Regent’s Park yet. Well, in under a week’s time I’ll be living next to Regent’s Park, so plenty of opportunity then!

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Needs no introduction…

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We happened to arrive on a rather historic day!

On the second day we went to Alcatraz, where I had a go at taking some artsy-fartsy black and white shots:

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A guard tower

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The lighthouse

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The Warden’s house and lighthouse. I love the aloes on top of the cliff. My parents have big aloes like that in their garden, and they always remind me of the slightly menacing plant in Katherine Mansfield’s “Prelude”. The previous occupants of the island planted whatever would grow in the inhospitable conditions there. I was amused to see a couple of cabbage trees down at the dock.

It was a rather monochromatic day in any case. This is a colour photo:
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Christmas knitting

I finally have photos of some of my Christmas knits for you.

I knitted a couple of pairs of slipper socks for my mum:

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And fingerless convertible mitten-glove thingies for Dad to wear on the farm:
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I also knitted a hat for my brother’s girlfriend but don’t have a photo of it! Hopefully one will be forthcoming.

Tamaki Heritage Village

Back in Christchurch we had my Mum’s birthday to celebrate, so we went to the Tamaki Heritage Village at Ferrymead (a lovely historic recreation of what an early NZ settlement would have looked like).

Basically a bunch of actors re-enacted a story set in 1800s New Zealand, including a full on Maori battle scene:

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After the re-enactment we headed to the whare kai (dining hall) where we had a hangi (traditional Maori earth oven-cooked food)! Well, everyone else had hangi, I filled up on the vegetarian alternative and didn’t even have room left for hangi-cooked kumera (sweet potato). I did try the Maori bread though, which was delicious in its unhealthiness. It’s made from a baking powder-leavened dough and deep fried like doughnuts. Mmmmm. Here is a recipe I’ve found. I also tried some Mata beer which I hadn’t heard of before but it was good.

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My lovely parents. Mum accidentally let slip when she booked that it was her birthday, so the cast sang Happy Birthday to her in Maori. It was a lovely evening!

Orana Park

My friend Keri took a couple of days off work to hang out with me, isn’t that lovely of her? She used to volunteer at a wildlife park called Orana Park, and it’s a while since I’ve been so we paid a visit. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about keeping animals in captivity like this but Orana Park gives its animals plenty of space to play around in, and runs several successful breeding programs, which suggests they are doing something right.

Since I was last there they have acquired some gibbons:
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They were quite delightfully noisy! You can see in the photo that they are bellowing away.

But my favourite is, and always will be, the giraffes! The best bit is you can feed them yourself!
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Here we see the native animal known as the Keri in its natural habitat – cuddling one of its fellow creatures. The Keri is a small and gentle animal, and is extremely loyal to any other animal it considers a friend, especially humans but also lions, tigers, other members of the cat family, dogs, and also whales. The Keri eats a wide and varied diet but is especially fond of chocolate.

I don’t know if you can see from the pictures but I am also wearing my organic cotton giraffe vest top from Belle and Dean. Their clothes feature scientific etching-style prints of endangered animals and plants. They have women’s tshirts and a lot of baby clothes! Despite the UK web address the company is based in Singapore which I did not know when I ordered – this does mean delivery takes a bit longer as I discovered.

Wellington

I caught the Interislander ferry across from Picton to Wellington to spend a couple of days catching up with friends over there, namely Sarah and Hilaire. It was great to see you both!

Wellington is our capital city and a fantastic place. It’s right by the sea and full of galleries, cafes, and is very vibrant and bustling. Unfortunately the weather can be a bit rubbish and horizonal rain is not uncommon. For this reason it is known as the “windy city”. Luckily when I was there the weather was lovely, although I did get a touch of sunstroke (I am not really a hot climate person – I mean look at me!).

Wellington is really impressive on the public art front. Here is an installation-in-progress in the Botanical Gardens:
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The artist is collecting doilies from op shops (charity shops) and decorating the tree with them! Bit more about it over on Sarah’s blog.

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I also love this Neil Dawson sculpture. Sarah also posted a cool picture of me balancing it on my finger here. The matching tshirt was pure chance! I should also mention that it is from my favourite eco label, People Tree, as are the handwoven cotton trousers.

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Gelato on the waterfront from Kaffee Eis – very, VERY good gelato, the best I’ve had in New Zealand and probably the best since Italy. The next day I went back and sampled the gingernut flavour – yum! Note that Sarah and I are camera twins.

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Yet more public art – I love this guy.

We headed in to Te Papa, our national museum, to have a look at the colossal squid that was hauled up last year. It wasn’t as colossal as we imagined it to be but it was still pretty neat.

Then we wandered down the waterfront, taking more photos as we went:
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and ended up at the Leondardo da Vinci Machines exhibition, which was also very cool. Leonardo was pretty awesome. In Florence I learned that Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Dante, Machiavelli etc all lived together in the Medici’s palace – what a place and time that would have been! Also, there was no love lost between Leonardo and Michaelangelo, two of the greatest geniuses of all time. I think it would be the perfect subject for a trashy airport novel, and I’m just waiting for my retirement to begin. No one steal my idea!

Oh, and this is the view from Sarah’s window:
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Portage

From Picton we moved on to Portage, a bay in Kenepuru Sound. Kenepuru’s not as lively as Queen Charlotte Sound where Picton is, so we just had a nice relaxing time.

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Mum and Hilary

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This is called Pohutakawa and it is otherwise known as New Zealand’s Christmas tree, because of the colours and the fact that it flowers around Christmas time. It’s a beautiful tree and attracts many native birds such as tui, bellbirds, waxeyes, and kereru (native wood pigeon). In the mornings we heard these birds sing their dawn chorus, which was really the most profoundly beautiful thing. Here is a recording of the New Zealand dawn chorus I have found.

Incidentally, you should watch this video of Woof Woof the talking tui: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=TqF33vc_q68&feature=related. It’s pretty cool, and a good example of what a New Zealand accent sounds like!

Still on holiday…

We spent a few more days in Picton. One day we went to one of the wineries in Marlborough for lunch. In fact we drank Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc nearly every day – I’m going to miss that! There is plenty of Marlborough Sauvignon available in the UK but it costs more and some of my favourites aren’t available.

We took a day trip to Nelson, where we did a little shopping and then went to the beach.

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Self portrait in light and sand.

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Me and my mummy!

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This photo brought to you courtesy of my new polarising filter. There was a fun fair next to the beach.

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Back in Picton. This photo pretty much sums up small town New Zealand.