The Changing Seasons – August (and a bit of July thrown in)

It started in mid-July with an extreme weather storm event on the West Coast and Marlborough regions. Roads were so badly damaged with many slips, slumps, under and onto the two main roads into the Marlborough Sounds, they were impassable for most of the residents and those of us that could drive out had to negotiate muddy unstable roads.

August arrived and whilst the roads were still closed, some of our quiz team could make it to our local tavern. We were very organised for the 70s dress up theme – and the questions. We won by a big majority – probably something to do with the average age of our team. We had lots of general and specific knowledge of the 1970s. After all, it was a great decade dedicated to music, movies and fashion, and we had all lived through it. One of us had even been to the ABBA museum and sung Dancing Queen as the 5th member of the group.

We socialised at dinner parties and popped into the tavern again to watch the rugby.  I prepared and printed our community newsletter at the local school. Chopping up several fallen trees and mulching the smaller branches occupied my significant other for most of the month – when it wasn’t raining and blowing some more. 


Due to the road closures, I had already been having a couple of SeniorNet committee meetings via Zoom so when I got the invite to join a zoom workshop on how to make stop motion animations, I thought – why not?  That was fun. 

After an eye check in Blenheim on Tuesday, we stocked up on groceries, had a meal in Picton then carefully negotiated the wrecked roads towards home, and settled in to watch the tv news……. And then came the Delta variant of Covid-19. 


Suddenly, overnight New Zealand went into Level 4 lockdown. Not only were we locked in by closed roads, we were now locked down as well. We had to cancel dental and car service appointments as we hunkered down to stop the spread. At least we had sufficient food, beer and wine for a couple of weeks – oh – and toilet paper! 


Whenever was I going to be able to get my new spectacle lens fitted? Last year’s lockdown resulted in the dental appointment being cancelled too. Bad timing I guess.

Still, we are luckier that most. We still have the beach to walk on, and that dreaded exercycle was put back into regular use. After half an hour panting and pushing those pedals, I reward myself with a dabble in my art journal, and listen to some of that 1970s music.

Painting, sketching, writing and photography are back on my lockdown project list. And reading – lots and lots of reading – and maybe some more writing.  

I am grateful for not being too affected by the current lockdown but I certainly feel for all the essential workers, the home-schooling parents and those who are being impacted financially and emotionally. 


As September arrives, our road is still closed to the public and residents drive in and out at their own risk. Another zoom meeting, this time with the road recovery team, informed us that the road repairs are likely to be ongoing for several months. We have had to make a decision about cancelling this season’s homestay bookings. Our guests cannot use the road whilst it is closed to the public. I guess this means we may have time to enjoy summer ourselves this season. There is always a silver lining.

And the silver lining is – that 70s music!  – I am so very excited this week to hear the best news – ABBA are back and the words of their new song ‘Don’t shut me down’ speak to me ….

"I'm like a dream, within a dream, that's been decoded, 
I'm fired up, I'm hot, don't shut me down”

Needless to say, this song is on repeat on my playlist.  If you haven’t heard or seen it yet check it out but be warned – its already addictive for me. Enjoy!

So despite all the doom and gloom of July and August, September is springtime in the southern hemisphere – a time of renewal -and there is always HOPE and ABBA to look forward to.

https://bushboy.blog/2021/09/01/this-is-august-2021/

The Changing Seasons – May days

Before the winter sets in, we have been enjoying the last days of Autumn in some of our favourite places  in the South Island, NZ.


St Annes Lagoon wildlife reserve was today’s road trip from our Parnassus stop over..  Autumn foliage colours still linger as did the birdlife flying overhead.  So many trees were half submerged in the lake.

 Whilst I was wandering with my camera, Leicester found someone to chat to, discovering they had a mutual friend from 50 years ago- such is the nature of this small country, it would appear. He was happy and so was I in my happy place wandering with my camera.

 Back at camp, we were amused by Seymour the tame magpie who crows like a rooster and barks like a dog. I tried to mimic the rooster sounds so she would too but I only embarrassed myself. I have the video clip to prove it – but nope – not going to share that.

Next stop was Kaiapoi which is handily located not far from family and friends on the outskirts of Christchurch.  We attended our granddaughter’s birthday party. 

We love visiting Christchurch as many of our cousins and extended family live here so there are often several  visits and coffee catchups with family each time we visit.

Fishing in the Mckenzie canals

The silence  is broken only by the gentle plop of the lines being cast into the flowing canal. Everywhere I look I see hopeful anglers  casting and reeling their lines. Waiting for the elusive rainbow trout or perhaps salmon escapees from the salmon farms that stretch throughout the man made canals.

Hydro electric power schemes on a grand scale have turned this region into a fisherman’s dreamland. 56 kilometers of canals teaming with big rainbow trout. 


Adjacent to the salmon farms are the ever present fishers.   Parking up in an assortment of vehicles from utes to motor homes, cars or cyclists, everyone has to stop and try their luck at catching the trophy fish, or at least stopand ask that question – “Any luck Today?”  The answers vary as you would expect.

Even if the fish are not rising to the bait it is so peaceful here. Amazing reflections. Interesting bird life. And even some water rats co-existing with the wildlife and humans. 
There are as many theories as there are fishers or so it seems.  So many theories of what to use to attract the fishy interest. Egg rolling or glow bugs? Live bait or lures? What time of the day? Is the flow fast enough? Is the current too strong? 
So many questions. The only important question is – where are the fish?

It’s so quiet then suddenly there is an almighty splash and telltale ripples expanding across the canal. Which way did that fish go? 


There is quite a little community of like-minded people here, quietly conversing as they stroll along with their egg rolling tactics. ( the egg rolling technique is a common method for attracting trout. Little egg-like bits of fluff with a hidden hook inside.)  Apparently the trout feed on fish eggs so the trick is to get the right colour egg and cast out the line, allowing it to float/ roll along with the current. If the fish fancy the egg then it’s all on as they gulp the hook.


Nets at the ready, the fish is played until it comes into the waters edge. A quick scoop of the net and it is caught. Everyone else on the canal looks across to check the size and the type of fish. Is it a  brown trout, a rainbow trout or the prized salmon?

The success of the hunt is short lived as the fisher gets straight back into the action. There is a sense of  real camaraderie here.  Whilst there are those that go to great lengths to protect their secretl tips and techniques, there are others who generously share their experience and knowledge with the newbies.  


It’s an addiction of the healthiest kind. Fresh air and exercise, solitude and amazing  scenery. What’s not to love?  Walking thousands of steps each day, it sure beats hitting the gym. There is something special about stepping out alongside the canals whether you have cast a line or not.  Aoraki (Mt Cook) dominates the landscape  even if it is sometimes hiding amongst the clouds,  it’s majestic presence is felt and enjoyed by all who venture here.  

The air is pure and crisp. The views are truly spectacular and the changing light patterns reflecting across the waters are fascinating. There are swirls and ripples in the  current (or is that a big fish passing by). Shags, terns, swallows, ducks, seagulls and herons glide up and down the canals searching for food. 


I was captivated by this heron standing ever so obligingly still on the bank until I realised it had old fishing line entangled on its legs and feet. It was so sad to see and I felt quite helpless to assist. It could fly well but when landing it took ages to settle and untangle its feet, having to stand on one leg most of the time. Almost impossible for it to position itself to catch fish in the shallows. 


The very next day, one of the salmon farm workers noticed its predicament and called the DOC rangers.  They arrived a short time later and tried to capture it in a net. Unfortunately that didn’t work either as it kept flying away. The rangers decided to try another approach later.  I was left pondering on the impact on the local wildlife from the trout fishers. Days later, I’m still wondering about the fate of this beautiful bird.

We spent several more days relaxing and enjoying the magic of the canals. I even managed to do some night photography under the dark sky until the fog and clouds rolled in. The lunar eclipse hid  behind those clouds.

And the very next day, along came the hoar frost.  Spectacular icicles covered the trees and tussocks. It was very pretty and also very cold.  It was time to move on.

Flooding fortunes

Snow and heavy rain were forecast for the next few days so it was time to start heading homeward  bound. We drove North  to Christchurch and hunkered down for the next few days.  Fortunately for us, we made the right decision as within two days major flooding closed all the roads and  bridges to the South and low-lying areas of Mid and North Canterbury. Had we remained any longer we would have been cut off too.  Even though we were parked up  alongside the Waimakariri River, the stopbanks held  back the waters flooding in our little Kaiapoi campground.  


Further along the coast others were not so lucky. Communities evacuated as rivers  broke their banks. Helicopter rescues as farmers tried to save their stock and got trapped in rapidly rising floodwaters.
Several days later,  the sun came out from the clouds and so did we – back home to the Marlborough Sounds to find Autumn leaves still clinging to the trees. Yet the changing seasons are now upon us here too. 


Farewell to the lazy hazy days of May. 

https://zimmerbitch.wordpress.com/2021/05/31/the-changing-seasons-may-2021/