#WQWWC : Relaxed – “If you do what you love, it is the best way to relax.“

“Trust that little voice in your head that says, ‘Wouldn’t it be interesting if…’; and then do it.”  Duane Michals 

So with these encouraging quotes in mind, here I go with my favourite ways to relax….

PLAYING WITH ART“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” – Either John Lennon or Laurence J Peter – the jury is out on who said this first!

My latest foray into creative expression is when  I started a 61 day ICAD (index card a day) challenge from 1st June and ending 31st July – and of course I am still playing catchup.   I made a bargain with myself – 30 minutes on the exercycle first then I am free to play with index cards, paint, crayons, stencils and gel pens. I even made a home-made gel plate for printing  I put on my music and relax into my art.  Here is a small selection from June and July. It is working so far.

READING:   “You can find magic, wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book.” – Dr Seuss

This is most certainly one of my ‘go-tos’ for relaxing, pouring myself a cuppa, curling up into a comfy chair and getting lost in a good book – and there I am –  relaxed into the magic of words and other worlds.  There is a reason I have always loved reading fantasy, science fiction and time travel – it is such an amazing form of escapism.   It will be interesting to see how many books I have read by the end of the year – I’m up to Book 54 so far.


I have my favourite genres, and then I have my “impossible to put into any specific genre” genre. 

Some books just require you to read, re-read and re-read again. And it is not because you can’t remember the stories, its because they are so good, so full of complexity, twists and turns they need to be read again to catch even more details with each read through. 


I’m currently re-reading books 1 – 8 of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon in preparation for the release of book 9 in November. There is an online book group doing a read – along and is great excuse for me to re-read. It is very interesting how much more detail you notice on the next journey through the ‘ stones’.  


I enjoyed reading the first book Crosstitch (which has since been renamed as Outlander) when it was published in 1991. I swapped some of the next few books with my sister in law over the years until other work-life priorities intervened.  Luckily for me, I not only rediscovered the series a few years ago but also realised I could download the rest of the books onto my kindle. For those that are not yet familiar with this series here is Herself’s description.

Alternatively or as well as – there is the tv series to avidly consume – seasons 1 -5 to date with season 6 scheduled for release early next year.  I have to admit to being seriously addicted to Outlander along with several million other readers.  I’m not sure if this addictive reading behaviour is actually relaxing or not – hmm?


Whilst waiting for the next book, there is a selection of novellas based on individual characters and a Comprehensive Companion guide (or two ) filling in some background history.  It keeps me relaxed.

Even when reading is impossible, the presence of books acquired produces such an ecstasy that the buying of more books than one can read is nothing less than the soul reaching towards infinity.” – A. Edward Newton, author, publisher, and collector of 10,000 books.

By the look of my piles of books which I can’t seem to fit into my bookshelves, and constantly struggle to let go of, it could be said I might be afflicted with this ecstasy too.  It reminded me too of this bit of lighthearted relief found online during last year’s lockdown. Read the titles which have been placed in order by a librarian with a sense of humour. Always look for the bright side of life – and stay relaxed

PHOTOGRAPHY:  Relax and trust, knowing the universe has set a banquet of abundance for you”

I found this quote chalked onto a blackboard outside the Langford store in Golden Bay last year. I’m not sure who authored it. I do like the emphasis on “relax and trust”.

Wandering with my camera is when I am truly in my relaxed and happy place. There is always an abundance of subjects to capture – and it keeps the brain active.

WRITING: “It is how you see life that matters, rather than what you have done.”  – Patti Miller,   “Writing true stories.”

Writing for me is a way to record my inner thoughts and to make sense of the feelings and thoughts that wander through my mind. Playing with words is a form of relaxation for me. It can also be a trip down memory lane.

Elizabeth Gilbert writes that:
“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them. The hunt to discover those jewels – that’s creative living… I’m talking about living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.”


So now I have written about creative pursuits I enjoy, I’m feeling rather chilled out and RELAXED  

https://alwayswrite.blog/2021/07/21/chill-out-with-wqwwc-and-relax/

WQWWC #33 Exploration – The expression of an impression

A picture is the expression of an impression.

If the beautiful were not in us, how would we ever recognize it?”

Ernst Haas

The expression of an impression
Is an obsession
I bring to each photo session 
where I can take possession
of my lifelong passion.

The expression of an impression
Is a compulsion
not a delusion.
It is where I learnt composition 
Through the excitement of exploration 
and a touch of preoccupation.

The expression of an impression
Take a bowl full of enthusiasm 
Flash in a sprinkle of infatuation
Focus with a whole lot of dedication
Layer  in an image of endless fascination
Blend all together in a bucket of creation 

Until it exposes more than my dreams
And becomes a beautiful expression of my own impressions

Every photo I take is a piece of my life that I will never get back,

but that I will be able to see again and again.”

Malcolm Flowers

https://alwayswrite.blog/2021/07/14/wqwwc-33-exploration/

Sunday Stills – Under the Trees

Having just completed a June trees theme for my 365 project, I already had plenty of choices for this week’s Sunday Stills.  This is my month’s calendar view.

Trees, trees and yet more trees – my 365 project

Under the trees I also found:

I discovered rainbows, reflections and sunsets.

Under the trees throughout the seasons, I find the new growth of spring green and blossoms, the silhouetted sunlight of summer. the dappled shade lighting the fallen autumn leaves and the skeletal winter trees revealing their intricate branching structures. I had a play with making a composite of autumn leaves and a frosty winter. Maybe next time I will do all seasons!

Changing seasons

I love that trees have so many different textures and forms in their branches and trunks. Winter when the trees are leafless is a good time to appreciate the intricate branch patterns normally hidden within the leaves.  Moss and lichen cluster with wood ear fungus to decorate the barren trees.

Wood ear fungus

I love to wander between the trees along hidden forest pathways, and beside the lakes, beaches and rivers. I am in my happy place (as long as I have my camera along for the walk}

#SundayStills

Photographing Public Art Challenge #2

Public art is a never-ending source of inspiration for me and my camera.


I have often wondered whether I should photograph other people’s artwork as surely this is not depicting one’s own creativity but exploiting others? To be honest though, that hasn’t stopped me over my travelling years.  


I think in part, it is to try to capture the essence of the journey, the excitement of discovery and the awe which I hold for the skills, imagination and talents of artists – be they street artists. graffiti artists or sculptors. I enjoy watching the way others interact with public art – especially the sculptures.

Sculptures:

I have quite a few examples of public art in my travel archives. Some tell a story. Others pose the question – why? 


Is graffiti a form of art? Or is art a form of graffiti?  


Street art:

To give us pause to enjoy art and make us ponder on the meaning of life –  is that the purpose of public art? 

I think it is a purpose, and that we all benefit from taking the time to sit awhile and just appreciate the inspiring creativity of the artist.

I’m excited to explore the different forms of public art further as this Photographing Public art challenge continues. Thanks to the organisers Cee and Marsha for the opportunity.

https://ceenphotography.com/photographing-public-art-challenge-ppac/

Sunday Stills – Tiki touring in the Great Outdoors

North and South, East and West.  

From the ocean to the mountains, from coast to coast. Just a few photos of the great outdoors of NZ where I love to visit with my camera.

Lets start at the Southern Alps which is in the rugged mountain range that spans from from North to South of the South Island. Although climbing mountains is not my thing I did struggle up to the Tasman Glacier viewpoint – and saw ICEBERGS.

Moving westwards towards  Arthurs Pass is this stunning landscape.

Venturing a little further North on an inland road we stopped over at Iveagh Bay at Lake Brunner

Heading to the top West corner of the South Island is Karamea – which also provides a perfect opportunity for a West Coast sunset.

Further down the coast is  Punakaiki, famous for its blowholes and rugged beaches

Time for an overnight at Fox River to meet friends and eat pancakes (what else) before heading East through the Kaikoura mountains and onto the East coast. 

Finally we headed back up North to the Marlborough Sounds  and over the top to French Pass at the top of the South Island where Pelorus Jack once roamed the sea.

Home again to another silvery moon and to hunker down at home for the winter months. The great outdoors can wait a while until the weather warms up again.

For Sunday Stills June 27

better late than never.

Sunday Stills. Just 1 sunrise and several sunsets

Oh yes – do I have  plenty of sunsets and maybe a sunrise?


I’m not so great at getting up early enough to capture sunrises.  We cruised into Gothenburg harbour in the early morning just as the sun had risen enough to hide behind the clouds. Does that count as a sunrise?

Later that week, we saw glorious  sunsets over the Southern archipelago.

The West Coast is a great place to watch the sunset.

Sunsets are such peaceful time of the day to enjoy some solitude.

And then there are the fabulous sunsets I see out my window or through the trees.

This winter month I am just looking for a few hours of sunshine each day – just a few hours and perhaps a lovely sunset.

Winter Whites, Life in Colour June

As  I sit here on a wet winter Saturday, the view out the window is almost a white-out as the clouds are sitting low against  a very grey sea.  The ducks are ducking their heads under to snatch some duckweed.. Their movement is noticeable only in the ripples they create in the otherwise calm waters.

Tiny waves are gently lapping the beach forming tidal patterns at the water’s edge.  Currents show as a deeper silver on the still waters. The tidal flow is creeping quietly up the gravel beach, surrounding the huge driftwood log that has been stranded since being cast ashore in the last storm. It now serves a a roosting perch for cormorants as they dry their wings and digest the fish they dived under the waves to catch.

It must be time to post some silver and white images for Life in Colour – June.

I will start with some  seascapes and seagulls in silver. 

There are mountains of mountain images in my April/May archives – here are but a few with that white stuff called snow and a scattering of clouds.

And there were the frosty foggy finds… 

And I still love to capture splashes of white

I may yet find more silver or white before the end of June.

https://traveltalk.me.uk/2021/06/06/life-in-colour-37/

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/

Astrophotography is such a celestial challenge.

All eyes were raised to the dark skies when the lunar eclipse was imminent. There was to be a super blood moon.

“A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon moves into the Earth’s shadow.This can occur only when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are exactly or very closely aligned with Earth between the other two, which can only happen at a full moon. The eclipsed moon appeared as a faint red disk in the sky due to a small amount of light being refracted through the earth’s atmosphere; this appearance gives a lunar eclipse its nickname of a Blood Moon.” 

Weather forecasts scrutinised.  ✅

Potential locations scoped.✅

Astrophotography techniques researched.✅

SD cards cleared and ready ✅

Camera batteries charged……   ✅

It was nearly time for the big event – the night of the lunar eclipse had arrived.

BUT THEN….  in swirled the fog and cloud cover.  Down plummeted the temperature. Desperation set in and I was so frustrated – why did I choose to stay at Twizel instead of Tekapo?

Deciding that if I didn’t at least try, I wouldn’t see anything at all, so no matter the gloomy forecast, out I went under the foggy and cloudy skies.


I wore many layers of merino jumpers and scarves, thermal tights, a good wind jacket and fingerless gloves.  I even had my hot water bottle wrapped in lambswool at the ready in the car. And my thermal mug filled with turmeric latte.


Arriving at my location, I was not surprised at all to find that no-one else was there – apparently they were all at Lake Tekapo instead.  Sigh!

Undaunted, I set up the tripod and  took a few trial pictures.  Hmmm that cloud cover was a  bit tricky but at least I could see the beautiful moon intermittently ithrough the clouds.  It was still early as yet so there was still a chance it would clear so crossing my cold fingers, I set up the intervalometer and waited.  This was to be my first attempt at capturing a lunar eclipse. As per normal, I had decided on a capturing multiple exposures of each stage of the eclipse – a tad ambitious in hindsight. 

So here are my embarassingly pathetic images. But at least I tried….!

I did manage a few photos of the penumbral and the umbral shadows stage but very foggy so focusing through the clouds was a major issue.  Then the first camera battery died (of the cold).  Changing the battery meant taking the camera off the tripod first so that ruined the continuity of focus and composition. I waited a while and tried again. 


Several images later, the moon had almost reached totality – and you guessed it – the second camera battery also died (of the cold).   Me too, I grumbled to myself. By this time the clouds had almost covered the skies and the temperature had dropped to Minus 4 degrees. I drove back to camp through the ever-increasing fog and drank a comforting glass of red wine (which looked redder thats the Blood Moon).

Bloody Moon

And the very next day:  Social media were filled with images of the penumbral shadows, umbral shadows, partial and totality eclipse. I was very envious. 

But wait – there is another almost total lunar eclipse coming up 19 November 2021…. watch this celestial space!


Sunday stills – Weathering the millennia of wind and waves

Wind and waves have worked their magic and stacked layers of limestone pancakes upon which to feast our eyes. 

One of my favourite geological formations to visit is the Pancake rocks and blowholes at Punakaiki, West Coast NZ. I never get tired of viewing the impressive results of wind, wave and seaspray on the limestone formations of Dolomite Point.


The Pancake Rocks and blowholes

Each ‘pancake’ consists of a layer of limestone layer made up of tiny shell fragments, separated from the next pancake by a thin layer of siltstone. Thousands of years of rain, wind and sea spray have etched the softer siltstone into nearly-horizontal grooves, and rounded the edges of the limestone layers, which together look like giant layers of pancakes.

Dolomite Point has a maze of underground passages and large open caverns which face the sea. When there’s a big swell, and the ocean surges into these caverns, water is forced into the passages. Looking for an escape route it follows the passages to the surface. As high tide approaches huge geysers of spray burst skywards. When there’s a big sea running the blowholes are spectacular.

On this day the tide was high and huge waves were rolling in. Luck was on my side. 

I made many images to try to capture that big geyser of spray. Many moments were spent patiently watching and waiting with my camera at the ready in hopeful expectation that the next surge will bring forth that loud whoosh as the waves rise up through the underground passages and burst high above the pancake rock formations. 


Delighting in seeing the power of both the wind and the salt spray trickling back down through the pancake layers. It is fascinating indeed to see the weathering of the rocks still in action as it has been for thousands of years, creating the astounding formations we see today. 


I first saw these spectacular limestone pancakes more than fifty years ago. Then we revisited them with our young children many times and yes, this was way before the area was upgraded with safety fences and sealed pathways. We allowed our kids to explore those tracks between the layered rocks. Whatever was I thinking? 


Looking down into the Devils cauldron ( as it was known then) it is quite mesmerizing watching the force of the waves. Not the place to fall into. Those crumbling cliffs are quite slippery with the constant sea spray. And yet, it is indeed captivating to watch the swirling wave action.  I was too preoccupied watching where my feet were stepping to take a photo of the devils cauldron this day.

Back home I finally got time to do some editing, here are the results of my weathering topic for the Sunday Stills ‘weather’ week. – It could also be for last week’s ‘water’ theme I guess for which I missed the deadline.

We finished off these few days by parking over at Fox River freedom parking site where the local “Rusty Cup’ coffee cart served us real  pancakes with layers of bacon and banana with lashings of maple syrup for breakfast.  Almost breakfast in bed – lol.  On a side note, I caught up with my work colleague from a few years back – together we had ‘weathered’ many rough and tough work days so it was lovely to catch up and share memories as we ate the pancakes and drank the strong coffee.

All that was left to say is “Pass the maple syrup please!”