GOPI 2018

I entered the Guardians of Pauatahanui Inlet photo competition again this year and managed to get my best result so far with winning photos in the Recreation and Artistic categories along with three highly commended photos in the Recreation, Artistic and Scenic categories (I’d previously won the Wildlife category back in 2013). Alayna and I attended the prizegiving (Keryn was in Auckland for the weekend taking a well deserved friends weekend) and it was nice to see Alayna taking pride in the winning photo that featured her and also clapping me as I went up to get my certificates.

There will be a few photos in the Whitby Newsbrief newspaper June edition. The winning photos are below. Over the past year I’d visited the inlet a few times, always looking for a new angle. A lot of times I was trying to get photos of the fernbirds now resident in the reserve but none of the photos I got of the fernbird were worth entering, the great photos will come! In previous years the competition judge, Geoff Marshall, had suggested a few things to try such as the following:

“If you see a good image it is often worth returning when the light is at its best and repeating the photo. This is usually early in the morning or in the late afternoon.”

I’ll often visit in the late afternoon for this reason, the light is better and there is a chance for some nice colour in the sky around sunset. The fernbird also seem to be more active around dusk but its difficult to capture the elusive little birds when they like to keep to the vegetation. Capturing the great shots will come, I just have to visit more often.

On the boardwalk - Winner in the Recreation category

On the boardwalk – Winner in the Recreation category

Dusk toe toe - Winner in the Artistic category

Dusk toe toe – Winner in the Artistic category

Reeds in motion - Highly commended in the Artistic category

Reeds in motion – Highly commended in the Artistic category

Fire above - Highly commended in the Scenic category

Fire above – Highly commended in the Scenic category

And Jump! - Highly commended in the Recreation category

And Jump! – Highly commended in the Recreation category

Summer days part 1: Otari-Wilton and Titahi bay

The last few days have blessed us with lovely weather so we’ve been out and about. On friday afternoon we took a walk at Otari-Wilton Bush. There was abundant birdlife with dozens of tuis and kakariki flying overhead, plenty of kereru around and also a pair of k?rearea circling around a tree on the other side of a valley. We encouraged Alayna to walk as much as possible partially by having her count the steps we ascended, she did really well and also enjoyed crossing bridges, throwing leaves into streams for races and walking over rocks whenever possible. We ended up at the flax clearing which would have been better described as the daisy clearing for our visit, a carpet of flowers punctuating the dry grass.

Crossing the stream

Crossing the stream

Family in the daisies

Family in the daisies

Daisy Alayna

Daisy Alayna

Keryn made Alayna a daisy head dress and Alayna chased me around the clearing while I snapped away. We took a few family photos after clearing some (but not enough apparently) of the more intrusive grass stalks. We had some of the gingerbread that was left over from Christmas and watched a procession of birds fly overhead. There was a large pohutukawa covered in fading but still resplendent red blooms and the tree positively humbed with its audience of bees. There was time for some silliness and then we were off back towards the parked car.

Fading summer red

Fading summer red

The happy frog

The happy frog

It being such a nice evening we took the opportunity to purchase fish and chips in Porirua and then head over to Titahi Bay beach for a picnic dinner. We sat on some steps near the middle of the beach and watched the people wandering along the beach, the paddleboarders crossing the bay and the brave few playing in the water while the southerly breeze keep the temperature a little cool. We attracted a growing flock of seagulls and Alayna took great delight in chasing them away, at least until the numbers got so great that they just circled around behind her. It was a very pleasant evening.

Titahi Bay

Titahi Bay

The seagulls were persistent

The seagulls were persistent

Alayna chasing seagulls

Alayna chasing seagulls

Te Araroa: Pukerua Bay to Paekakariki

The new Paekakariki Escarpment track, a recent addition to the Te Araroa NZ trail, has been open for a few weeks now and we’d been thinking about giving it a go. The fabulous weather continues and we decided that Saturday morning would be our time. The only concern was my football in the afternoon so we had to leave early, as it turned out earlier than we normally leave for work. We decided to walk north and this found us driving and parking up at Paekakariki Station to then catch a train back to Pukerua Bay to start walking. It also helped get Alayna excited, she likes public transport a lot.

Travel by train

Travel by train

Train station playing

Train station playing

Here is my ticket

Here is my ticket

Everything went to plan and we started our trek at the right time of 8:30am. The walk is meant to take 3-4 hours and we thought we’d probably be a little slow but would get back to Paekakariki around lunchtime. From Pukerua Station the path took us through some streets and then a small park before joining the new trail at the now closed Muri station. We had a couple of trains pass by as we walked along beside the train tracks and Alayna got a few waves and a small toot from train drivers, they must be a friendly bunch.

Escarpment Track

Escarpment Track

Lets begin

Lets begin

We were soon rising up the hillside and getting grand views both of the Tasman Sea to the west and the farmland and coastal scrub to the east. The stands of trees all bore evidence of the often harsh climate with windblown branches leaning away. It was a calm day with only a slight southerly and out to sea there were a number of kayakers out fishing. The South Island was hidden behind a bank of cloud but Kapiti Island was a strong, familiar presence. Every kilometre of the track was marked with an iron signpost, we seemingly quickly covered the first 2 kilometres but then the steps started.

Landscape

Landscape

2 kms done

2kms done

Looking down to the shore

Looking down to the shore

Views north

Views north

When we didn’t have steep stairs to walk up the trail was often quite narrow, winding around the hillside. I’m normally not too bad on this kind of track but with Alayna in the backpack on my back I was very concious of the drop to our left and I concentrated on just one foot in front of the other at times rather than looking out at the view. It was also good that we didn’t meet many other people for most of the first half as the steps and track didn’t have a lot of rooms for passing. There were a few small bridges but the highlights were two swing bridges that spanned valleys that rose steeply above the train tracks below. It was disconcerting approaching the first swing bridge with a dark tunnel entrance seemingly filling the view ahead just above the stairs.

Sihlouette

Sihlouette

Steps and the first bridge

Steps and the first bridge

Over we go

Over we go

Brendon and Alayna

Brendon and Alayna on the second swing bridge

There were a few steps

There were a few steps

After the second swing bridge there was a series of steps leading up a steep slope. We slowed right down, taking one flight at a time and resting before moving on up. At the top of this section we had a break and talked to some other people coming the other way who let us know that this was only a taster for what was to come. Thankfully the next step climb was a while away and first we got to walk through some nice stands of trees, the forest a quiet and easy stage to recharge and ready ourselves.

Some were very keen

Some were very keen

A gap in the canopy

A gap in the canopy

The longest stretch of stairs is called the stairway to heaven and it was quite tough to ascend. We were passed by a very fit older man who was counting steps as he walked, reaching 200 when he passed me. He got to the top of the steps and then turned around to come back. We kept going.

The stairway to heaven

The stairway to heaven

More steps

More steps

At the top and just past the halfway mark was a lookout with some good seating and a glorious view out to sea. We had some snacks and got Alayna out of the pack to stretch her legs. There were more and more people reaching the top, almost all coming from the north, and there was plenty of friendly banter and laughs at the top. I got a few comments on how keen I was to have carried Alayna all the way so far on my back, further on we would come across a few others also carrying children in similar fashion.

Feet at the top

Feet at the top

The lookout

The lookout

Brendon and Alayna at the top

Brendon and Alayna at the top

Watered, fed and a little rested we got our gear together, helped Alayna into the pack again and walked on. The way down seemed easier, though tougher on the knees. There were plenty more stairs but a lot of the downward path was sloped across switchbacks. Time passed more quickly it seemed and by the time we neared the end of the track we were in good spirits while still ready for a proper meal. Alayna slept for the final 20 minutes or so, waking up as we approached Paekakariki.

Starting to head down

Starting to head down

More downward steps

More downward steps

8kms completed

8kms completed

It took us around 3 1/2 hours in the end which we thought was pretty good considering we had stopped a few times. We had lunch as planned in Paekakariki and didn’t have to hurry which was nice. Then it was back to the car via the train station and Alayna was full of beans, revelling in walking herself. She was exploring, running around, playing with her shadow and the writing on the ground. So all in all we enjoyed ourselves, completed a challenging walk with no issues and in very good time. We’ll have to return once Alayna is a little older and ready for a longer walk under her own steam.

Ready for lunch

Ready for lunch

Happy times

Happy times

There's my shadow

There’s my shadow

A for Alayna

A for Alayna

Crossing the tracks

Crossing the tracks

And now 2

Alayna is now 2 years old which meant a party and lots of celebrating. Alayna recieved lots of cool presents including loads of clothes, many great books and games (the fishing game from Aunty Bridget and the clan Burdett is fantastic). There were a number of gifts that were made rather than bought such as the wonderful rocking horse from Phil and Elaine and the sandpit that I made with a design adapted by Keryn from free plans found on the Internet. Keryn also made a lot of things such as a doll that she’ll detail at some point. In the meantime here are some of Alayna’s new things.

The rocking horse made by Grandad Bainbridge

The rocking horse made by Grandad Bainbridge

Doll outfit 2 - front

The doll Keryn made (including the clothes)

Earl photobombs

Earl photobombs

Happy with her new sandpit

Happy with her new sandpit

With the arrival of spring we’ve had a few lovely weekend days and we’ve been spending some more time outdoors. The weekend just gone saw the annual tulip day at the Wellington Botanical Gardens and we went along to check out the events. Unfortunately (for me anyway) I took my camera but left the memory card at home. So instead of photos from the day we’ll have to make do with photos from the previous weekend visit where Alayna had a grand old time at the gardens playground.

Playground portrait

Playground portrait

Climbing

Climbing

Looking up

Looking up

Sliding

Sliding down

Springtime sniffing

Springtime sniffing

Fun with petals

Fun with petals

Running around at the Botanical Gardens sound shell

Running around at the Botanical Gardens sound shell

Swimming and Ballet

Weekends at the moment are organised around activities for Alayna. On Saturday we attend swimming classes in Whitby, we’ve tried a few different swimming classes now and while they’ve all been good the Ally Todd swim school is probably our favourite. Alayna still loves the water and her favourite parts are jumping into and being jumped out of the water. I think its fair to say that Alayna is simply very comfortable in the water but there is plenty for her to learn.

Happy in the water

Happy in the water

and JUMP!

and JUMP!

Sunday mornings we’re been attending Ballet is for Everyone classes in Wellington. Set up by a group of people who wanted to provide ballet lessons without a rigid structure or the requirement of a long term commitment they suit us well as we didn’t know if Alayna would even be interested. The classes are all volunteer run and organised, I ended up volunteering time to take photos at the first lessons and since then Alayna has been to three lessons. Today we were talking about giving lessons a break for a while as Alayna hadn’t shown any interest in joining in and then today we had a breakthrough.

Spin!

Spin!

Center or attention

Center of attention

Dancing with mum

Dancing with mum

The lesson we were booked in for finished and then all of a sudden Alayna was off running around the room and having a ball. We were able to stick around for the next lesson and it was great with Alayna joining in, enjoying herself and starting to pick up on some of the instruction. So we’ll keep going and will have to contribute some more (donations are possible via a Givealittle page).

Taking part

Taking part

Dancing on her own time

Dancing on her own time

Dancing with Daddy

Dancing with Daddy

Something learned regarding Jupiter

There is currently a near conjunction of the planets Venus and Jupiter visible in the evening sky. I found out today via the Aotearoa Astrophotography facebook group that the four largest moons of Jupiter are visible via photography with a telephoto lens. So naturally I had to try take a photo when I got home.

Venus to the left, Jupiter to the right

Venus to the left, Jupiter to the right

The above is a crop but the moons are visible and I move one step closer to wanting a telescope (one day I’ll win 23 million and be able to afford all the toys). I was able to photograph the planets from home and turning to the east the moon was rising in the sky so I grabbed a shot of that as well. Again this is a big crop but I like the detail that is visible.

The moon

The moon

Last week was a busy aurora period and I got out one night to try for some colour in the sky. I tried a new location walking the hills above Breaker Bay and the visible moon cast enough light to clearly show the landscape in my photos. The moon also meant the aurora had to fight the moonlight but the combination of clouds, aurora and landscape made for some interesting photos.

A small aurora from Breaker bay

A small aurora from Breaker bay

The moon and a passing rain cloud also brought about a phenomenon I hadn’t seen previously, a moonbow. As the moon isn’t nearly as bright as the sun the resultant lunar rainbow is a lot fainter and to the eye it was just a faint white arch. If I’d known more about the phenomenon I’d have tried a longer exposure to get the colours to come out, something for next time.

A moonbow

A moonbow

Lastly we have a photo also from last week taken from Baxter Knob, a small hill near home. The sunsets recently have been spectacular and the dusk skies full of rich colours so I tied to capture some of that colour. So this is the view over Porirua Harbour towards Mana Island.

Looking west from Baxters Knob

Looking west from Baxters Knob

The summer had to end sometime

It has been a glorious summer of warm weather, lots of sunshine and little wind. It would appear that this has ended today with the advent of heavy rain and high winds, normal service resuming. That all said some rain will be welcome in the garden.

Over the last month we’ve been out visiting a few fairs and festivals and have also been starting to get into a DIY mindset (while working through some planning differences between what we want to do and what the local developer will allow). First up was the Newtown Fairand we had a pleasant morning walk looking at all the stalls and entertainment on show.

Smiling happy people

Smiling happy people

Dancing with a smile

Dancing with a smile

Balloon entertainment

Balloon entertainment

We also spent an afternoon at the first Cuba Duba festival in Wellington. There were theatrics, music, a huge variety of street food and stages full of interesting entertainment. We didn’t manage to see Spanish hair wizards Osadia at work but their work was always crowd stopping as those who had been worked on wandered the festival turning heads and drawing compliments.

Different festival, more joyful dancing

Different festival, more joyful dancing

Hairdressing at another level

Hairdressing at another level

The dragon and El Matador

The dragon and El Matador

Street parade

Street parade

Red rose petals

Red rose petals

A change of pace had Keryn designing a planter box and after purchasing the required wood and a few new tools I was set the task of constructing the piece. An afternoon and mornings work and we had a new planter box ready for filling.

Watching mum measuring her design

Watching mum measuring her design

Happy days

Happy days

The finished planter

The finished planter

And sometime during all this Alayna decided that crawling wasn’t the transportation be-all and end-all and has started walking :)

Walking!

Walking!

February highlights

It’s been a busy February so far with lots of things happening including my 40th birthday. Rather than go into any detail here’s a few photographic highlights instead.

Walking at Zealandia:

Taking in the view

Taking in the view

Happy wee girl

Happy wee girl

Curious robin

Curious robin

Takahe

Takahe

Camping at Kaitoke:

Testing the bounce

Testing the bounce

The new Kaitoke arch

The new Kaitoke arch

Dragonfly girl

Dragonfly girl

DInner

Dinner

Kaitoke camping

Kaitoke camping

Breakfast

Breakfast

Chinese New Year:

Year of the Snake

Alayna was born in the Year of the Snake and Keryn is decorating a snake mask

Plimmerton fish and chips:

Plimmerton sunset one

Plimmerton sunset one

Plimmerton sunset two

Plimmerton sunset two

Walking in Wellington on my birthday:

Cricket highlights

Cricket highlights

Performance space

Performance space

The start of something

The start of something

Te Papa art

Te Papa art

Daylight flotsam Venice & The Drop

Daylight flotsam Venice & The Drop

Back to Zealandia:

Dragonfly

Dragonfly

Exploring Zealandia

Exploring Zealandia

Tieke

Tieke

P?wakawaka

P?wakawaka

Korimako

Korimako

Night time at the Pauatahanui Inlet:

Pauatahanui night

Pauatahanui night

Stars and harakeke

Stars and harakeke

The Plimmerton kite festival:

Plimmerton kite festival

Plimmerton kite festival

Alayna's favourite

Alayna’s favourite

Killer whale encounter

Killer whale encounter

The 1st Birthday Party

Alayna is one in a couple of days and today we held a small birthday party. We had family and a few friends around to celebrate. Alayna had a wonderful day full of play, presents and happy interaction with lots of people. I’m pretty sure that Alayna won’t need any new toys for a few years now and she seems very happy with her new playthings. There were also a few lovely pieces of clothing, some books and we must not forget all the lovely packaging, wrapping paper and ribbons which provided Alayna with further entertainment.

1st Birthday Cake

1st Birthday Cake

The cats spent most of the time sleeping (as they do most days) but came out a few times on the lookout for any food that might be on offer. Earl was especially friendly and managed to photobomb some photos.

Earl photobomb

Earl photobomb

Its been a great year so far and Alayna has been a joyful addition to our family. We’re still learning from our little girl and it seems she is learning from us as well. One year nearly done and we’re looking forward to many more years of discovery and new experiences.

Short and very sweet

Alayna has been expressing her individuality at dinner time and is quite happy to have a go at feeding herself. It might be messy but its a lot of fun and so far the mess has been confined to Alayna and the high chair, both of which are easily cleaned. We’re looking forward to more sloppy, epic meals and maybe some abstract art for the floor and ceiling as Alayna get more exuberant :) .

Messy dinner

Messy dinner

10 Months

Winter continues and finally seems to have a little bite. Colder weather coincided with both Keryn and Alayna getting colds, nothing too bad but both have been run down and while they’re now on the mend there is a lingering cough so we’ve been limiting the outdoor time. Meanwhile Keryn has been continuing with the crafts and the latest output is a nifty jacket, just in time for the drop in temperature.

New jacket

New jacket

Alayna is now ten months old and the changes continue. She is now reaching up more often and can pull herself up onto her feet as long as she has something to lean on. We also now have clapping and pointing and Alayna will lift objects such as her water bottle above her head when we play up and down. Its wonderful to have more and more interaction.

Looking up

Looking up

The next big step for us all will be daycare for Alayna coupled with Keryn heading back to work. The daycare we’ve chosen is located on a farm and we hope Alayna enjoys her time there, we’ll find out soon enough.

Earl & Alayna (with a side of apple)

Our cat Cadbury is still quite wary of Alayna but our other cat Earl is coming around to the idea that we have a new family member after only 9 months. The change in opinion may have something to do with the fact that Earl is on a diet and he hangs around looking for food but I prefer to think that he is just accepting (so long as Alayna doesn’t get too close for too long and doesn’t do anything like grab too hard). So here we have some of today’s interactions between our excited little girl with the cat obsession and our Earl who is getting over his little girl phobia.

Earl eye view, what is there to be afraid about?

Earl eye view, what is there to be afraid about?

That's a look of love, not obsession

That’s a look of love, not obsession

Friends

Friends

Reading about cats in the company of Earl

Reading about cats in the company of Earl

In addition to working on her social interactions Alayna is also being introduced to new foods. Feeding Alayna is an adventure with her tastes varying day by day. One day she’ll happily eat something and then it’ll be unacceptable for the next week. This is apparently quite normal, one of those many things we learn as parents I guess. Anyway, Alayna has been eating various fruit for a while now but has only recently been feeding herself when given slices. She happily munches her way through the slice, occasionally gagging when she bites off a too big chunk (we let Alayna sort herself out with a helping pat on the back) but also makes wonderful faces as she munches. We think its probably the tartness.

Apple eating

Apple eating