Titirangi Storyteller

Telling tales from around the world

Posts Tagged ‘holiday

Li River Homestead

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I’ve been using Lightroom to process my Raw files these days. Put off taking that on for a good long while – and like all things one should be doing, but isn’t, for watever reason – when you finally do it, you can’t quite remember why you resisted. I am very happy with how my images have been turning out lately. But… what about those old  images – the ones I saved the raw files from in the hope that ‘one day’ I would be able to make them look the way they should – if only I had known what I was doing behind the camera. This was washed out and dirty looking – the sort of holiday photos that make your eyes glaze over should someone pull them out and force you to look at them. I rather like it now.

And I would sure love to revisit China… This was taken on a day cruise on the Li River, ending up in Yangshuo. It was near the end of the month-long trip and we were very tired… it was nice to sit and watch the world go by… and what a world…



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16/02/2013 at 1:13 am

Diamond Princess Atrium

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Diamond Princess Atrium

I’ve done a fair bit of cruising over the years, and I think the Diamond Princess is my favourite ship. It’s not too big – around 2500 passengers and probably around 1000 crew. That sounds like a lot but there are some twice the size. I’ve never been on one that big, so I can’t say what it’s like, but 2500 is rather like a village at sea… Small enough that you will run into the same people in the places you like to go, so you meet people and form friendships, get to know the staff in your favourite restaurant, and if you go into the same shop a few times, they remember you too. And if you prefer to keep to yourself, it’s amazing how much privacy you can find to read, think or meditate. And yes, you do have the option of eating yourself into a stupor if you wish, but having done it so many times now, I tend to eat normal sized meals, so I don’t feel sluggish – and my clothes fit as well getting off as they did when I got on. (That said, this ship has some of the best old-fashioned pizza you will find anywhere – I don’t know how they do it!)

So this is the atrium, three stories high. I love how the stairs and walkways sort of twist around, rather like an Escher drawing. This was taken late in the evening, so it’s quiet, but during the day it bustles like a town square, with musicians playing, people sitting in comfy couches with coffee or a glass of wine and a sweet. I’ve been on a few ships where this area is gaudy to the point of being almost blinding, but even with all the Christmas decorations, the Diamond is still a bit elegant and if not understated, very easy on the eye.

This was probably my best cruise so far, sailing from Sydney via Hobart & Melbourne, the south island of NZ and the up the east coast ports, ending up in Auckland, where we caught a taxi home. I’ll probably do it again in a couple of years. Can’t wait!

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31/12/2012 at 12:50 am

Akaroa Fascination

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Akaroa -Orange rose

I had to look it up – the meaning of the orange rose… fascination, attraction, falling in love… This particular rose is irresistible and just about perfect. And I am rather enamoured of its little friend, who is obviously attracted and possibly fascinated…

I shot this in Akaroa, a port town on the South Island about an hour away from Christchurch (more or less.) It’s rather a resort town now, but back in the day it was the first major settlement on the south island. The French had the idea of setting up a colony there and claiming the south island for France. Obviously that did not go according to plan – but Akaroa is an exceptionally charming town with a distinct French flavour. The main part of town is full of lovely old cottages, mostly well maintained, with amazing amazing gardens… All I really wanted to do was photograph the flowers. But I did manage to tuck into a few shops, buy a new hat, eat a few of the local delights… Sure, I took photos of the buildings and the water and snagged one of a Maori performance troupe just finishing up when I arrived. But really, when I think ‘Akaroa’ this is what I think of…

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29/12/2012 at 10:27 pm

The truth about fog

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ship in fog

Carl Sandburg was wrong. Wrong. wrong, wrong… and here is the proof. Fog does not move in on little cat feet. Fog rolls in in massive waves, encircling and smothering everything in its path.

I watched this gigantic mist roll in and engulf the city of Wellington. The Inter-Islander was just ahead of us as we departed the NZ capital. It disappeared into the void. We followed shortly after, sailing in a velvet white mist that surely called for Rudolf’s services. It did not lift until this morning at about 10AM – for a perfect Christmas Day cruising through the exquisite Marlborough Sounds.

Merry Christmas!

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25/12/2012 at 5:40 pm

Be My Buttercup

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Buttercup Bee

Went to the Dunedin Botanical Gardens today. Saw lots of very interesting unusual plants. Ended up following this bee around as he flied from flower to flower. Giving the new macro lens a workout… Oh and I saw and did lots of other things, too. But here you go.

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22/12/2012 at 11:04 pm

Sun worshipper

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Cow1 Melbourne

Currently at sea – a blustery day, though I’ve got the ranch slider to the balcony open just cos I can… Hi Melbourne yesterday  though it was mostly with my Visa (card)… but came upon his cow up a tree. No explanation was given, and I guess, if you need to ask, you don’ deserve to know…

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19/12/2012 at 6:33 pm

Remorseful giraffe

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I really hate the whole idea of ‘crazy busy.’ Been there, done that – it’s no way to lead a proper life. You just end up with endless task lists duly completed, but no sense of having lived or living… But these days, it’s been rather like that. There’s no getting caught up, never mind getting ahead. All good stuff, but just a wee bit too much of it. No real end in sight, though the holidays should provide a bit of a respite… if I’m lucky. And on a cruise… lost at sea… somewhere in the southern ocean where no one can find me and there’s no phone and I’m too cheap to pay for internet and really don’t care what’s going on in the world – as if me knowing about another murder or two would matter a whit…

I can’t wait.

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04/11/2012 at 9:57 pm

New Zealand Falcon

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Ozzie – one of the inhabitants of the Wingspan National Bird of Prey Centre just outside Rotorua. This was the highlight of our weekend away, exploring the lesser known attractions of Rotorua, best known for its geothermal activity, bubbling mud and various ‘cultural’ attractions geared more to emptying your wallet than cultural exposition or real entertainment. I’d been off the place for years, but glad I was lured back  – for these incredible birds – but also a determination to find the ‘real’ Rotorua – those things that don’t cost a lot of money and don’t come with flashing signs and gobs of hype…

It’s a shame I hadn’t gone with this approach before because there is just so much to do and explore and discover without spending anything and the money spent was very well spent. Wingspan charges $25 per person, it is such great value. The bird ‘show’ is less a show than observing trainers give the birds a ‘workout’ to return them to a healthy condition to go back into the wild, but it supports the centre’s work in preserving this endangered species.

I really went nuts photographing all weekend – so I guess it will be about birds and Rotorua’s ‘hidden’ gems for the next wee while… and that’s a good thing…

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16/10/2012 at 9:01 am

Chateau Tongariro Chandelier

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No, we did not stay in the Chateau.

We travelled down to Tongariro with friends from our photography club, and so we stayed at a hostel, The Ski Haus. Let’s just say it was basic. Our room could have slept five – contained nothing but beds and the tiniest bedside table. Not even a rubbish bin – never mind a chest of drawers or television or clock, though it did have an en suite bathroom, which is really our minimum standard requirement. But it was cheap and comfortable and had a great view. I am sure the Chateau was also very comfortable and definitely had million dollar views – but cost three times what the Ski Haus charged for our room. ($78NZ for the big room with ensuite, but only $22 per night for folks sleeping in the dorms.)

We had intended to go there for high tea on our last day, but they did not serve until 11 and we were keen to get on the road. So instead of tea-cakes and nibbles and coffee and tea served in fine china, we pulled out our cameras and started clicking… The Chateau was built in 1929, before the crash, and is an antipodean tribute to the luxury of the day. It has been meticulously maintained and undergone a few restorations over the years, but managed to avoid the kind of gutting renovation so popular in the 60s and 70s. The lobby and public rooms are like a movie set – still the 1920s, with sumptuous draperies, velveteen furniture, heavy wooden tables. But the centrepiece is this wonderful chandelier in the middle of the main lounge. Simply stunning…

Maybe we’ll stay there next time. Maybe… or maybe it will be the Ski Haus again… here’s our room as we were packing up to go… we managed to both fit on the double bed, though it did involve a bit of snuggling and cuddling to keep from falling off…

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09/08/2012 at 12:55 am

After the Storm

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The last day of our week-long stay on the South Island. We’d had perfect weather every day – but this morning awoke to heavy cloud cover and light rain. We decided not to take the Crown Road from Wanaka to Queenstown as it crosses the Crown Range and conditions can change very suddenly, leaving the steep, hair-pin turn heavy road slick with ice and slush. In this kind of weather, it was not advisable, so we headed down the long way, heading east and then south through towns and across vineyards and through the bottom of the ranges before heading back west to Queenstown. We were barely out of town when the rains began in earnest, bucketing down so visibility was bad and the road was scattered with slick patches.

We drove for nearly an hour in these conditions, under the relentless tension from being hyper alert and aware of everything around us. But as we headed into the southern section of the mountains, the sky lightened and within ten minutes, the storm cleared. And here was this enchanting vineyard framed in mists under a cerulean sky. We were running late to return the rental car, no time to stop. So I snapped this out of the car window as we whizzed past.

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27/05/2012 at 11:56 pm

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