Monday, October 31, 2011

Wait for meeeeeeee!

As I was 'swanning around' yesterday, the funniest sight caught my eye from across the pond. Someone had obviously arrived with a bag full of bread, which quickly had all the birds on the block making a beeline to the car park. It really did look hilarious, and this quick shot does not really capture the humour of the moment... or maybe it does? You tell me.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sharpen Up

I am by nature a bit of a hoarder. This is not a good thing. I wish I had the ruthlessness of some - it would sure make keeping my drawers, cupboards and wardrobe tidier. When I do have a big hiff out, it's not as though I ever miss the stuff.
Not that I have had a purge today - no, my post is more about my attempts to curb this habit, which has infiltrated my digital storage! I thought I'd start with photos.
My photos take up a lot of file space on my machine, particularly as I shoot in RAW. Whilst I rarely download all that I take, I always end up with more on my machine than I need or like.
I have not been retrospective today, and definitely need to spend a good whack of time going through photos from the past 2 years and having a cull.
BUT so things don't get worse, I have made some new rules for myself today:

  • Download only as many photos as you have time to 'fiddle' with in that session
  • Shunt any that you really don't like to trash IMMEDIATELY

and the most important - and seemingly obvious -

  • Don't keep anything that is not in focus.  Must. Be. Sharp.

Now you might say that today's pic is a little blurred in places, and you would be right.  However I quite like the movement shown by the less-than-sharp wings and feet. BUT the head and neck are uber sharp, so I have not broken my newly established, self imposed rule...

Taken back at the Wattle Downs ponds this morning when I found myself up nice and early, so went off 'swanning around' again...

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Garden Art

Sculpture in the Garden is once again on display at the Botanic Gardens here in Manurewa.
This one, covering the ground in deep afternoon shadows, caught my eye from the distance, intriguing me... It was not at all obvious what it was made from until I go right upon it...

Friday, October 28, 2011

Coming Up Roses

The boys and I were back at the Botanic gardens tonight. As it is coming up to the end of October, I knew that the roses would be beginning to bloom.
This peachy number was not resident in my original garden in Tauranga, and I cannot name it. My Mum will probably be able to! After all she has about 200 specimens in her garden. But it made me think of a special rose I planted there before I left (Kaimai Sunset), which, as I type, makes me feel a little sad...

Anyway... the pics below show the blooming phases - not time lapsed; 3 different specimens!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Don't break me again!

Who would have thought an innocuous piece of equipment such as this could cause so much pain and discomfort? I found out last week when Leanne introduced me to TRX. As if the exercises weren't hard enough at the time, the pain in my arms, chest and shoulders lasted for a week! I was seriously sore.
Today when I shared my pain of the recent past with her, Leanne apologised for 'breaking me'.
But I refuse to be broken beyond repair. I felt more in control of my own body tonight, and am hoping that better technique and fewer reps will leave me more 'complete' this week.
As for Leanne's prediction that I will be putting one on my Christmas list - yet to be convinced!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Shy Sid

Whilst checking out potential classroom/space designs for our next lot of classrooms at another school today, we met Sid. Sid is a Yellow Bearded Dragon. I accepted an invite for a cuddle with this crusty little creature. The principal of the school took up my camera and took this pic, but sadly Sid looked away.
However when I visited the school's website to find Sid's name (which I had forgotten, and figured would be blogged somewhere) I found this YouTube clip of a bearded dragon and CAT - pretty sure it's not Sid, but it does portray an unlikely but cute friendship!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Girl Next Door

My friend and colleague Viki has just started her daughter at the preschool next door to our work.

We just had to 'drop in' at lunchtime...

Monday, October 24, 2011


The vast majority of New Zealanders are in celebration mode today, with our exceptional All Blacks taking out the Rugby World Cup last night. It sure was a nail biting game, but all that seemed irrelevant today, as I joined a crowd of reportedly 250 000 in central Auckland for a Celebration Parade this afternoon. It was an amazing atmosphere, and like thousands of others there, it made me very proud to be a Kiwi.
We are a proud sporting nation, and whether non sport/rugby fans like it or not, an incredible percentage of New Zealanders are huge rugby supporters. We have loved every minute of the Rugby World Cup, and will continue to bathe in the glory of our win for time to come - probably till the next one.
And while it may seem cliched, this tournament has been about far more than rugby for our nation. The exposure to our environment, culture and Kiwi hospitality will have positive effects for years to come. It's been great to have a significant win to lift the spirits of a nation that's been through the wringer in the past year. And as anyone who has attended a game or other celebrations will attest to, the electric atmosphere drew everyone together. And not everyone who got involved was a rugby fan before they did. I applaud the many non-rugby people I know who have found themselves swept up in the excitement, and have enjoyed being taken on a wonderful ride throughout the competition.  Some have even found themselves turning into die-hard supporters.
Yes the media has been super-saturated by the RWC, yes it's been the water cooler conversation in work places for weeks, yes barely a step can be taken without some reminder being given that this tournament was on - but so it should have been, it's a major international sporting event. A World Cup.
So I find it somewhat offensive and even ignorant that the few New Zealanders who do not value sport and/or rugby, insult this competition and all it represents (even if tongue in cheek) because it's not their cup of tea. The big picture is important here. And while everyone has the right to an opinion, the RWC detractors are the exception. And at this time, rugby rules!
The pictures today from the parade are my favourite (exceptional) ABs of the moment... not necessarily my favourite photos that I took today. I was rapt to see Dan Carter get his medal last night and equally as chuffed to see him atop the first vehicle today.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Extreme Makeover - Dog Edition

My poor Hugo suffers in the heat, largely due to the ample coat he carries as a neuter. I have always erred on the side of vanity, but this year I decided comfort before beauty, and took up an offer from a fellow cavalier person to have him trimmed ala American Cocker for the summer.
I must admit I did a silent gulp as the first sweep of the clippers cut right to the skin, but as the hair fell away, and on the promise of 'it will grow', I relaxed in to it. And so did Hugo. He was such a good boy right throughout the process, amidst the whir of the clippers, then the following hydro-bath to eliminate pesky hairs, and the turbo dry.
When the makeover was complete, I found myself looking as what seemed like a younger dog, albeit showing off the fat rolls around his neck and shoulders... I am sure he will enjoy summer much more without his heavy coat.
Hopefully less hair in my house, too. My intention was then to purchase my own clippers and do Reilly myself. He's the worst hair dropper of the three. So I thought I'd start by scissor trimming his feet as has also been done to Hugo. He cried at that, so goodness knows how he would cope with an electric trimmer! Rather than start, I think I will practise my other newly learned technique and just thin out his coat with the thinning scissors... His makeover will be less extreme, more subtle.
And Stirling, as my young 'show dog', well he's just perfect as he is.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Blonde Moment

Despite being blonde, ordinarily I pride myself on my driving skills. Parallel parking has never been an issue for me, but today on a busy Mt Eden Road, I got a bit of stage fright.
The prime parking spot was available right outside my hairdresser's, so I made a safe u-turn to nab it. I had a clear path of traffic for my first (and as I believed at that stage, only) attempt at it, but had obviously started too close to the car ahead of me and did not have enough of an angle to get in. So forward I moved again.
"Beeeeeeep!" - an impatient taxi driver did not appreciate my re-manouvre, and this put me into a little state of doubt. I had realised by now that I was right outside the busy salon (open) window, and that there was as strong possibility my parking attempts could well be providing a bit of entertainment.
Refusing to look their way, I tried again, and was met by some resistance by way of the curb. To prevent a third pull out into the traffic, I performed a number of wee fwd-back-fwd-back journeys to and from the car in front until I thought I had it nailed.
On the final little 'back, ... "Clonk!" I had no idea what I had made that sound, but when I moved forward in to my final position, I was satisfied that all was well.
However when I left my car - a few minutes later to let any potential laughter die down from within the salon - I noticed that in spite of my attempts I had in fact ridden the curb, and that the 'clonk' was me hitting the salon sidewalk sign...
Any thoughts of that going unnoticed by the audience within were abandoned when Jo immediately let me know that yes, my parking performance had been witnessed by all. I wore it on the chin, and took the p!$$ out of myself, hoping to leave it there.
Funny thing is though, I have left the salon considerably blonder than I have been for a number of years. Do you think they are trying to tell me something?

Friday, October 21, 2011

I too, can blog about food...

As previous posts this week suggest, we've done a lot of eating whilst away at Conference. Some good, some average, and some pretty dodgy, as a fellow blogger and diner will attest to. Today we hit gold, obviously having saved the best for last.
We spotted the Kaimai Cheese Company on our drive down, commenting that we really must stop there one day. So on the return trip, stop we did.
I could have chosen several things from the menu or counter. At a cheese place, it'd be rude not to sample the signature wares, so a Cheese Lover's Platter was shared. My personal favourite was the mature cheddar, which was also the reigning ingredient in Lisa's "Kaimai Mac 'n Cheese". She declared it the best macaroni cheese ever!
Viki was also complimentary of her roast vege salad, chosen from a counter full of enticing options. My choice for lunch proper, was the Warm Chicken, Cashew and Kaimai Feta Salad. It looked vibrant and inviting, and really delivered on flavour. While the feta was subtle, it was there, and the crunch of the cashews and noodles was texturally interesting. But what made it sing was the lemon and feta dressing; perfectly balanced. You would have thought I'd have licked my plate when I was done.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Home away from home

While away on 'holiday' at the Ulearn conference in Rotorua, we are staying at this quaint hotel that we spotted and breakfasted at whilst here for Learning@Schools conference in February.
Aspects of our stay have been lovely, such as the downstairs lounge (pictured right) where last evening we drank Baileys and Brandy as we caught up on personal internet stuff, ensconced in lush leather couches surrounded by soft jazz and a gentle open fire. (It has not been tropical in Rotorua!)
There are a few areas where the historic needs to be brought into the 'now'... for example, haven't particularly enjoyed the squirty shower and slippery tiles...
Not complaining too much though... while this is 'work' it is the only opportunity the three of us have had to get away from it all these 'holidays'.
And the tidy-up-and-make-the-beds fairy who works her magic while we are out for the day makes the room pretty nice to come back to.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Fitting it all in

Aside from the learning overload and reflective thinking that fills one's brain whist at a conference like Ulearn, there is another kind of filling up that also occurs. The filling of one's stomach. Much supplied food and eating out, coupled with lengthy periods of sitting tends to swell one's stomach beyond its normal parameters.
So imagine my surprise when I opened my new pair of tights this morning to see that the 'girth' was barely as wide and my calf, let alone my thigh, or heaven forbid, my waistline. The photo does not actually illustrate how narrow the point of entry was!
But easily stretch to the right proportions they did - in fact, because they are waistband-less, they are fantastically comfortable, and capable of accommodating further inevitable spreading that will occur over the next two days!
P.S. let's hope the food of the future is as pleasant it was at lunch today, and better than it was at dinner last night!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Be Good Boys!

It's goodbye to my boys for three whole days, as they go off to Aunty Mignon's while I go to conference in Rotorua.
I hope Reilly does not go all "I'm the man" as he did last weekend with Ritchie, because there's a bitch on heat. And I hope he eats his dinner!
I hope this one here, Stirling, doesn't pee anywhere he ought not.
I hope Hugo dos not get the itchies and start chewing his legs off.
And I hope they all cope without sleeping on the bed with their mother - spoiled brats.

Coming At Ya!

Monday, October 17, 2011

First shot

I took several candid shots of my typical fodder at the Botanic Gardens today - kids and dogs.
This is the first one I looked at once downloaded, and I think it is a sweet, true photo of Karissa.
So thought I would blog it before I go through the rest and think I like another one better!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Promise Kept

Last month en route to a work thing, we passed this cute little church on the hill above Pukekohe. I made a promise to myself that I would return to photograph it one day.

Today as I headed to Pukekohe proper (have now sort of been to Puke!) for a Photoshop workshop, I recalled my self-promise and quickly ducked down the side road to see if I could find the church.

Although it was almost 9:30, daylight saving meant that there was still some softness to the light, and with the forboding clouds behind it, made for quite a pleasing shot.

I have played with it a little bit in Photoshop, so I did learn something. But mostly I learned that I don't need Lightroom; that Aperture3 is its competitor! Photoshop, once I get to know more of its capabilities, will be useful, but my Mac programme still rules! And while I am blogging it tonight, I have not finished fiddling with this pic yet. I will go back to further enhance it - in Aperture3. That's a promise too.

P.S. Go the All Blacks.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

I'll admit it, I'm more than a wee bit nervous

I paid a quick visit today to the "Oranges at Half Time" road show that popped up at Botany Downs. A mobile tribute to heartland rugby and heroes of the past.

I am at the stage when I really wish it was Monday. The I'd know whether I was still feeling hopeful for a finals victory, or if I was licking my wounds after another RWC bow-out. In some ways it will be easier to handle a finals loss than a semi final one!

That said, I am trying however, to make like a Warriors fan and keep the faith. I do vividly remember what it was like to be RWC champions. 1987 was the early days of my teaching career. I was a bit besotted with David Kirk, and the kids in my class even began calling me Mrs Kirk...

The photos I snapped with my iPhone - obviously not an iPhone4S, the camera on which is purported to be significantly better. Love the old school haka! Bring it on!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Summer Sip

 Paul West and I are twins. In that we share a birthday.
That we were born 10 years apart is a minor technicality.
We love the same things.
We love Katie.
We love Joshua.
And we love Bombay Sapphire.
A sure sign of summer when the first sweet taste of the one and only blue gin, accompanied by a splash of tonic slips down your throat. Ooooooohhhh Yeaaaahhhhhh!

Thursday, October 13, 2011


I snapped this sculpture at the Botanic Gardens today, where I enjoyed lunch and an edu-chat with a dear friend and ex-colleague.
It was a grey old day, and I wish I'd taken the time to think more carefully about making a photo as opposed to taking one, as aspects of it please me.
I am at this venue frequently, so will try and remember to look at it properly through the lens at a later date.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Always expect the unexpected

It was one of those rare days where I did absolutely nothing to enhance my appearance. I continue to fight off a holiday cold coupled with a bad case of can't-be-bothered-itis. Add to that a lack of motivation to fight the dog hair with the vacuum cleaner, and it makes for a day you'd rather not have visitors.

Which is why it's the day you get them.

Lovely Lisa dropped me off a voucher to assist with my shoe fetish. I see another visit to Mi Piaci fast approaching. Sadly she was in a hurry and could not come in...

Then later in the day Viki arrived with Bella and her cousin.
Thankfully I had managed to mow the lawns yesterday so could usher everyone outside away from the mess for a bit of running!

Always more fun when you win the race, aye Bella?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Not quite Mi Piaci, but...

Today's photo comes from my Mum.
Over the weekend my folks were here in Auckland to celebrate Megan's birthday, and then take the chiddlers back home for a week. Yesterday we all met at Botany Town Centre so that Miss Ten could choose some 'high heels' for her birthday from her Aunty Lynn.
Alas the selection was not extensive, so I suggested to Mum and Megan that Whakatane might have more of a range than Auckland?
Turns out is was true. Well, in terms of the kids range at Number One Shoes. I am  not sure if Mi Piaci retails in Whakatane...

Monday, October 10, 2011

It's becoming a family tradition

Niece Megan has just turned 10. For her family birthday dinner, she wanted a degustation! (Just like her Dad and aunties) So a 4 course mini degustation was had.
Here she is serving the fish course, and also the dessert. Both Yum. But what was the super yummiest in my opinion was the mushroom risotto that accompanied the steak in the third course. Superb.
My brother and sister-in-law sure can cook.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Where's Home?

It's hard to answer this question for me.
I live in Auckland. I am 'home' as I type. My things are here, my dogs only know this place as home. When I head for this place, I say I am going home.
But I also say I am going home when I am headed here, to Mum and Dad's. Who knows for how much longer; it's an extensive  property and not matter how fit my parents are, it won't be a home destination forever. Just thinking about that makes me sad.
And then there's this place in the photos. Other than my family home above, it's really the only house that's felt like home to me. Whilst I don't think I will ever live in it again, it's hard to let go of. Hence, I still own it. And the city it's in feels so much like home that I take it personally when a bloody great ship grounds itself out from the coast, potentially sullying my 'home'.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A weekend of two halves

OK I am cheating a bit here. I wrote a post yesterday morning, to make sure I had something showing for Saturday, and now I am changing it completely!
My first overnight dog showing experience this weekend, back 'home' (see next post) to Tauranga.
I took with me my Stirling and another chap, Ritchie, both of who are pictured here.
Hugo and Reilly stayed with Aunty Mignon for the night.
Now there were actually 3 shows I could have entered, but it being the first day of the school holidays, I decided that an 8am departure was early enough, and only entered Saturday pm show and Sunday morning.
Who would have thought a pm show would not start till 3:30? Cavs did not get into the ring till 5:30! And then both my boys were placed 3/3... My friend then won an in group placing so we stayed for in show awards - of course didn't place - and we did not get home till almost 8pm.
So this morning (see, I am cheating, it's now Sunday) I was not feeling particularly confident that this would be my weekend. But, with numbers slightly depleted today, and Stirling bringing his 'A' game, we pulled of the DCC, and Runner Up Best of Breed, and then got to move for junior of group, but were beaten by a pug.
So all in all, it was a worthwhile trip. 2 CCs down, only 6 to go...

Friday, October 7, 2011

Young Entrepreneurs!

The school term finished on a high for us, especially for
a team of young 8/9/10 year old Entrepreneurs. Raising money for a school in Christchurch, they ran a RWC themed Market Day, selling goods they themselves had made, and providing services such as games and face painting.
It was awesome. And I believe they raised around $1300.00.
I had a lovely All Black muffin for morning tea, some super sushi for lunch, with a Russian Fudge chaser.
Whilst I missed out on a Tiki (pictured - sold out very quickly), I also purchased a bookmark, a key ring, and some unique bottle-cap earrings, which proved quite attention seeking wherever I went today!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Ah, Blossom!

The trees en route to the leash off area at the Botanic Gardens are awash with amazing pink blossoms.
I wished I did not have the dogs with me to be able to actually be creative... but wrangling with three leads at the same time as trying to take photos did not work so well yesterday...
But you get the picture?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Puppy Portraits

Next year I really am going to have a Dog Blog.

Today's photos were taken at the leash off area at the Botanic Gardens, where we spent a good hour this afternoon after work.

Each dog was relatively obliging for a short period of time! Stirling only until some big dogs came along...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Putting the Wattle in Wattle Downs

Look out hay fever sufferers...

Slightly blurry photo courtesy of my little iPhone

Monday, October 3, 2011


When I first bought my DSLR, I tossed up what post processing software to get to further improve my photos. While a bad digital photo cannot be made good by post processing, a well focussed and 'seen' photo will almost certainly be able to be made better. It's not cheating, it's reality. And creative.

As a beginner, I chose to get Apple's Aperture 3 because of my familiarity with Apple programmes. I love it, and would be perfectly happy with it, if it were not for the fact I know no one else who uses this software, and the online tutorials have taken me as far as they can. As a learner I am far more effective when I am shown one-on-one, and I have stalled in my efforts to use Aperture to its potential.

So I have now purchased Photoshop CS5. Now to find someone, and some time, to learn to make the most of this software! I do have a conference workshop coming up to get me started,  but I imagine it will not necessarily be only about photographic post processing... however next year it is a goal to really learn how to make the most of it, via a course or something...

In the future maybe I know enough to play with the big boys in Lightroom.

PS Grateful to be able to purchase at an Education price, which allows installation on one work machine and home machine as well :)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Mac an donais!

According to, the title phrase I have here means 'Damn It!'

Anyone who knows me well, knows I love my rugby more than an ordinary girl should. I was so grateful to my brother for enabling me to experience a Rugby World Cup match, even if the All Blacks were not playing. Also to my other brother and sister-in-law for their excellent company.

Well you can't sit in the fence at a rugby game, and seeing as we are of Scottish descent, with our Mother being raised a Drummond and there even purported to being Fothergill tartan, (though the name really has its roots in England) we were all yelling for SCOOOOOOOT-LAAAAAAND!

Unfortunately the English came through with a last minute try and snatched victory. Hence - Mac an donais!

The atmosphere was wonderful, the rain held off and the crowd was convivial and full of people having fun.

My pic here today was taken when the English were not winning; I wonder what the conversation was about?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Wondering what the day will bring...

'My' trophy table
It's shaping up to be a full on day. As I type, it is just after 9 and I have already been out an about, setting up the trophy table for the Tiki Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club Spring Championship Show, our biggest show of the year. Back home now to change and give the boys a last zhuzh up before heading back.
Not expecting to walk away with booty today, but hope to have a photo to post about this event later on.
My rationale for writing this now, is that after the show it will be a fast trip home, a quick change then in to the city to friends for drinks, then the England/Scotland RWC match. I will not have time to post, and don't want to miss a day.
So... today's photo is pending...

... and at 5:00, now here it is.
Reilly somehow won Best Stud Dog today - his class was small, whereas his progeny's was the largest today (7) and unfortunately Stirling did not place. The Class winner went on to win Best Dog and Reserve in Show.
Hugo placed second in his class of 5, not bad for a shaggy neuter boy.
Stilring did better in the stakes classes, winning Best Local and placing 2nd Blenheim markings and 3rd Best Movement.

This is NOT the way dogs are supposed to pose with the judge when they get their ribbons, Reilly!