Thursday, December 27, 2007

A good walk

Boxing day was another quiet day, Number 1 son and his girlfriend disappeared remarkably early and left me at home with very little to do. The weather was no inspiring, one of those mixed days with a bit of rain , a bit of sun, a bit of cloud but an awful lot of wind.

I was thinking about going for a ride today but the weather was just so off putting and I was going to ride on my own so I decided to can it. As my wife’ car was in the car park at work and I had eaten and drank too much over the past few days I decided to walk the 16.5 kms into work and get the car. I loaded up on mp3s and started to walk in. I did have a backup plan of catching a bus if I got too bored by the whole thing.

I was also keen to stop at the camera shop on the way, my expectation for it to actually being open on this public holiday was not high, and that expectation was met ! I was kinda disappointed as I was going to buy myself the “nifty fifty” Canon 50mm 1.8 lens as it is so cheap. There is always another day.

I made it all the way in to town OK, got a small blister on the top of one of my toes from not wearing socks, but apart from that I was felling good.

I spoke to my wife and son in Australia and had a quick word with my mother-in-law as well. She has taken a turn for the better again and has been eating and drinking well for the first time in 3 days. I am not sure how I feel about this as it is inevitable she is not going to come out of hospital, and she is having more bad days than good, but you do not wish the end on someone. The good news in this was the family over there were able to have Christmas together, even though it was day late.

After dinner I drove out to Piha to get some low light long exposure shots of the water and the rocks and maybe catch a decent sun set. It was really windy out there is as expected but I did find a reasonable sheltered spot and took a dozen or so shots before the rain started to seriously threaten and I went back to the car. There was no sunset to speak of.

When I got home I somehow stuffed up the copy of the files from my camera to my laptop and deleted the whole lot. Hopefully I can recover with some file recovery software that someone suggested to me today, otherwise I will have to head back out there again tonight.

So no photo today !

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A quiet Christmas

Christmas day was very different this year, when I woke at 6.00 there was no one home but me, no children piling in wanting to open presents, no surly teenagers not wanting to be roused, no wife to make coffee for and wish happy Christmas with a kiss. Just (not so) little ol' me.

I got up early and had a coffee and surfed the net for a while before breakfast, more coffee and some quality time with the new William Gibson novel “spook country” that I have loaned from the library. This is a damn fine book, and worth the, never ending, wait for a new Gibson.

My two eldest and I had plans to head up to Mangawhai to join my sisters family and my mother for lunch. They arrived on time and we had a small exchanging of gifts, saving the bulk of the gift giving to when my wife and youngest child return from Australia.

The drive to Mangawhai was worse than I expected, Christmas day is supposed to be quiet on the roads, at more than one point we were stopped on the motorway and the run through Orewa was as slow as any summers day. It was a quiet time at the caravan, we ate, we exchanged gifts, we huddled under gazebo to avoid the semi-constant rain. A reasonable typical Christmas day in Auckland. The kids and I went up to the surf beach but the surf was awful and not worth the effort of getting wet for.

After an early dinner we left for home and at a toilet stop in Orewa I took a couple of pictures of the Norfolk pines, I am trying to get am in camera blur action going but have not had much success yet, though today’s efforts were an improvement. The picture below, which I happen to really like was blurred in Photoshop.

I am thinking of getting this printed large for the lounge as I really like it, though it would be interesting to see how well it comes out in a large size, it may need to be lightened a touch.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Eve

Well, here I am, Christmas morning and I am sitting alone in bed with my computer on my lap typing up a blog entry listening to Diary of Dreams. My wife and youngest son are in Australia with her dying mother, my oldest son is staying the night at his girlfriends and my daughter is flatting. At least they will be coming here later this morning and we will all head up to Mangawhai to spend the afternoon with my sisters family and mum.

My love for photography and my belief in myself as a photographer go through a fairly regular up and down cycle. The ups ae ususally bought on by taking one or a set of pictures I really like and then downs by the lack if being able to see anything at all. One of my Flickr friends has just posted a small set of images taken from Murawai the other night. I look at her pictures and I wonder if we went to the same place, here is a link to one of her shots. Eva's photos always inspire me.

What I find most frustrating is I walked past this scene on the way back to the car but was busy talking to someone and did not stop for a while, I even looked at the rocks and the sun and thought about stopping but did not. This is the key difference between being a good and a bad photographer. Taking those opportunities to stop and photograph the possibilites. Some days I could just kick myself.

Yesterday was an OK day at work, averagely busy though there was a real sense of disinterest through out the office. Fortunately we all got to leave early and I walked around to some friends house for a drink and some food. Had a pleasant evening talking shit and they offered to drive me home.

I had a couple of “where are you, and when are you coming home texts” from number 1 son and he told me he was going to wait at home till I got there and then disappear to his girlfriends for the night as he wanted to give me his Christmas present.

All I could really say was wow ! He had made us a coffee table at work. It has been beautifully constructed from hard wood, with a top of inlayed wood. It really is a magnificent piece of work and I was so proud of what he had done. Like his late grandad he is a real craftsman.

Here is a quick shot of it I took last night.

Monday, December 24, 2007

A Big Sunday

Yesterday afternoon I gave the single speed some love and attention, well I oiled the chain at least and today I took it out for its first Woodhill spin in a while. The bike behaved Ok, though I did have to adjust the chain tension once to stop the wheel rubbing on the chain stay. I must get that wheel straightened (or replaced).

The day started out beautifully and I planned on getting along to the waterfront later in the day for a light run and a quick swim, but as usual it all turned to custard late morning with a nice down pour at Woodhill while we were sucking down post ride coffees. Fortunately that was it for rain but the day was not conducive to the first swim of the summer.

We had a good ride, there was three of us in the group and we maintained a reasonable pace, I was the pace setter so I thought it was reasonable anyway. We rode Back road, Upland, Lightening, Haggis, Link and back to the car park, In was really happy with the ride up Upland and the length of Haggis, I kept a reasonably even pace, not terribly slow and managed to ride the whole thing quite comfortably, which did surprise me. I expected to struggle a bit more than I did. Though it was not a huge ride or a fast ride I was really pleased with the outcome as I was not trashed at the end. Back Road is riding nicely, I did quite a bit of work on that trail before I got sick and am quite keen to go back and change a couple of sections at some stage.

I was planning on doing very little until late afternoon and then attempting a 10k run followed by a swim at high tide. Some of the Flickr folk decided to head up to Murawai for some sun set shots so I took an early 9km run from Lopdell House to the end of Exhibition drive and back. The idea was test my fitness after a ride and a run the day before. I just managed to get back to the car, it was really hot and it was a slow run, but at least I proved to myself I am getting fitter.

Shot up to Murawai for some sun set photography but the sun and cloud were not coming to the party so there was not a lot of sunset action happening. I did get a couple of shots of the gannets and this was the best effort.

I have also downloaded a bootleg of the recent Led Zeppelin reunion gig. It is not too bad so far.

I had a chat with my wife in Australia tonight, her mum seems to have improved slightly from this morning, however the prognosis is not that good for her lasting much past Christmas. We are all just waiting for the end to come now.

All up it was a pretty busy day and I was quite glad to go to bed in the end. Oh yes - I have the new William Gibson - Spook Country - from the library, another good reason to get to bed early.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Food glorious food

The fourth day of the steps was hard work, I struggled to the top, if I had been walking with some one else and they suggested a break I would have taken it!.

I am reasonably pleased with how things have gone, I have done the steps every day this week, I have run and ridden and that is a whole lot more than I have been doing for the past three to four months.

We had our team Christmas lunch on Thursday and then drinks on Friday. I missed the Friday steps and ate far too much over those 2 days. I got some very nice chocolates from the secret santa so have been pigging out on those as well. With my entire family away from home at the moment there is not a lot else to do in the evenings after a couple of drinks at work 

Saturday was a quiet day, Number 1 son did not appear home from his girlfriends place so I did the house work, picked up a gift for my aunty as she is having a Christmas BBQ this afternoon.

I did get out for a run, Exhibition drive yet again. I run this stretch of road as it is quiet and familiar, I know every bend in the road and can monitor my fitness accordingly. I took a slow start and maintained the slow pace for the first half, but it felt good, the best I have felt since the surgery. My ankle was stiff for only a short time and I finally got into a good breathing rhythm and stayed there for the whole 3.25km. The return leg I moved the pace up a bit and again ran well for the whole leg, and knocked almost 2 minutes off of the first leg time. I was really pleased with the run and was not too knackered afterwards.

I intend on running again tomorrow after the bike ride.

I went to Aunty Lyn’s for the Christmas BBQ, it was an Ok evening, I am not big on family events, and I was driving so was not able to drink, which was probably good for my fitness, but I ate too much instead. I got home early and spent a quiet Saturday night in bed reading and eating nice chocolate.
I have not taken any photos for a week, my inspiration goes when there is no sun.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

First Wednesday evening ride

With Deana and youngest son away in Australia I am at liberty to pretty much do what I like when I like. It is not that I have any restrictions on my time but I do get a wee bit guilty every now and then when I go straight from the office to the mountain bike park.

When I left work I had a guilt free and loud trip up the motorway to the forest. The traffic was amazingly light and I ended up at the end of the motorway at least 20 minutes earlier than I expected. I could have gone up to the park and had a warm up ride before my riding buddies arrived, but, oh no, I chose to go to McDonalds for 2 chicken cheese burgers. Ok they are small and cheap and nice, but I really did not need them and I am not so sure I really enjoyed them either, but they did kill the spare time. Though half the riding crew turned up late so we didn’t get away until 6.45.

I was riding with an old riding friend but one I rarely ride with these days as we are in to different styles of riding. I have definitely trended to the longer cross country ride and he has moved into the short ride with lots of time spent sessioning the jumps and other stunts that litter Woodhill forest.

I took the Cindercone out again, though I had planned on riding the single speed. I am down to one comfortable seat and did not get a chance to swap it over before I left. The Cindercone has been riding OK , but the front hub has been on the way out for a while and was making some seriously bad noises by the end of the ride. It is time to retire that bike until I can spend some cash on it. To spend some cash I need to sell the AC first.

The ride was Ok, we rode at a reasonable pace between jumps but did have to stop for a session at each of the various structures. It was good to get some pace going again but in the end I did get frustrated with all the mucking around and left the boys after just over an hour and rode back to the car – which was round about the time my hub made loud clunking noises so I am glad I rode no further.

I definitely going to ride the single speed next time, I think I am strong enough, but it will be slow and painful to start with. I cannot wait to get back to the longer rides.

I took this photo on Sunday. I spent a fruitless hour or so wandering up to and around the domain looking for some tree photos and really found nothing that inspired me. I was early for dinner with friends so took a cruise along the waterfront and stopped for these boat sheds. I like the symmetery in the roofs.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Yesterday I started back on the once a day stair climb, though I am on the 18th floor there are only 14 flights of stairs from the main building foyer. I have done this twice now, both times I was puffing like a train at the top of the stairs but I made it in a reasonable time without stopping. My concerns about my loss of fitness are probably not entirely founded. I am in slightly better condition than I thought.

Hopefully I can keep the stair thing going for a while, but I do have a habit of failing to commit to the long term…

I had my second visit to the physio this morning, my ankle seems to be recovering a lot quicker than 3 month ago, the stretching and exercise I am doing seems to be benefiting. It will be great if this rate of progress can be maintained, by the end of January I should be back to full movement.

At the weekend I took a walk up to the Kitikiti Falls out at Piha with the aim of getting a couple of photos. Here is the best of them, I was lucky that the sun was coming through the clouds as I passed this palm