Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Favourite Lines

... window frame-lines - looking out on to the Octagon, Dunedin ...

Yesterday I met a friend in town for coffee. I was running early, so I had a pre-coffee coffee at a place on the corner of the Octagon that in the old days, was known as the Tiptop (TipTop Tearooms).

The Tip-Top's (even the name!) down-beat ordinary, scruffy, was cheap (and yes, okay, a little nasty,  a little smelly - that smell of stale cigarettes, old lard, stained carpet and instant coffee) but it was comfortable and familair; a bit like an aunty wearing rolled-down nylons, plaid slippers with pom-poms and a paisley pinny over her Osti frock. It was historical. The Savoy's poor cousin.

It was good for milkshakes and for taking kids to for a chips and a hot-dog. It was great for good, plain kiwi tucker. But towards the end of the 20th century,  it was where other people went for a coffee - not you and your friend, who preferred Nova.

And it closed at 5.30. when the birds in the Octagon's bare winter trees start up their hopeless and mad dusk chorus, triggering a dismal panic as you wait for a bus running late and the Town Hall clock chimes low threats into frosting air.

That was back when the council's brain-wave was to position in the trees sprinklers on a timer, in a vain attempt to scatter the flocks of tree-settlers with their bad habits, such as dropping guano on to any hapless / hatless people walking underneath. It never worked. Eventually the council came up with the idea of  building state-of-the-art metal canopies over the footpaths.

The Tip Top, much like an old steam-train, has been replaced by an all-nighter, wooden-floored, designer-bar and cafe, the name of which escapes me, except I know it starts with a stylish A.

The bar does its job - it shines with tiles and bright steel, wide-screen TVs and robust imitation fires that emit a cheerfulnerss bordering on the misleading.

However, the Tip-Top with its naff ice cream cone will take a while to fade from my memory. It seems to me that the 'Tip-Top Corner' will be haunted for some time to come by a persistent, tea-rooms ghost.  

 ... Octagon sky-line ...

Winter view of Dunedin's Octagon - an eight-sided 'town square'  surrounded by shops, cafes, theatres, City art gallery, St Pauls church - a statue of the Scottish poet Robbie Burns sits in the centre. You can see the metal canopies to protect the footpaths and citizens from roosting birds.

 ... a line that bears repeating ...

 I met my friend at the Cinnamon - on St Andrew Street. This used to be Cowell's Coffee-Shop back in the day. Cowell's became famous for their pavlovas , so much so that that is what they make exclusively now. Their lace-curtained little cafe with table-cloths and steamed-up windows is long gone.

At Cinnamon, they serve a mean corn-and-cheese roll. I would go back for one of those in a flash. They open the window out on to the street so that the sun pours in.

After a good old natter with my friend, it was time to head home, taking photos on the way.

I've taken a photo before of the view above and posted it, I think ... but it does bear repeating.

It's taken from the middle of the Octagon (where the Fountain used to be - now there's another story for another time ...) looking down Lower Stuart Street towards the Railway Station.

Undoctored sky by the way - it really was that blue. Winter blue.

... out of line ...

Breaking formation, a splatter, a smattering, a smudge of pansies outside the railway station ...

... broken-heart line ... 

These counters glued on to the steps (both sides) of the railway overbridge, have been there since 2000 ... their heart-shape is a bit worse for wear now, but they have been here long enough to be numbered as a Dunedin trademark of sorts ... I always look out for them and they're always there ... so far.  This is the High Street side heart ...

... stony lines ...

Detail of the bluestone and granite railway station ...

... lines heading south ...

A photo taken from the over-bridge (which was broken by a goods train bearing a high load, a few years back - which is yet another story for another time).

... lines heading north ...

... favourite lines ...

... and this is the other heart, on the steps on the Portsmouth Drive side of the railway bridge.

 ... lovely lines ... Otago Harbourside ...

 ... idle fishing line.

Look closely and you can see the fisherman texting his catch result home ...

... slope-line ...

... showing its lines ...

... lamp-post line-up ...

It wasn't until I got home and downloaded the photos that I realised there was a theme.

Lines, how they form and where they lead - to and from. What line was I following yesterday and what line today?

Are there lines of writing in the impressions forming? Are they lines of prose or lines of poetry? (My internal battle continues to wage).

Straight lines and heart-shaped lines, fishing lines and curved slope-lines, wavering waterlines and skudding skylines.

Spoilt for choice.

Thursday, 19 July 2012


blue. blue bus-stop

early steam-punk?

The painter of a lot of bus-stops in Dunedin - John Noakes - sadly died.  Long may his legacy of painted bus shelters (of all shapes and sizes) live on.

I have always loved this idea for a 'spare room' - an old tram.  I believe the owner is someone I went to Brownies with, in Riversdale, Northern Southland - a very long, long time ago now.


The wax-yes are very greedy and they keep the bellbirds and tuis from ever getting a look-in. They are small but they work on the principle of 'crowd sourcing' to make sure they maintain their dominance over any food supply. Safety in numbers is definitely  their mantra.

One of my favourite art-deco facades in Dunedin - and it is found in South Dunedin too, not noted for its style. However, it can be found if you but look - up

... as is poetry - to be found - but not necessarily by looking up. In this case it was to be found on a wall by a bus-stop in Musselburgh Rise. I was most surprised to see it there. I love the poem too. The poet cannot be found on-line. I have a feeling it just means it was written in Dunedin (the Maori name for Dunedin is Otepoti).

In a small way I found the poem encouraging. Keep writing, it says. Keep writing. (But not necessarily poetry,  I tell myself, not necessarily poetry). 

steps up to nowhere (or so it appeared)

I called into 'Brew' for a coffee. There I wrote a little bit in a notebook. Thoughts & impressions. At the moment, what I am writing is prose.  Somehow it seems to me to be a kinder master than poetry. Poetry is all uphill.  Poetry is too many steps leading up to nowhere. At this stage of my life I owe it to myself to take the easier path.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Palmy Gummies & Simply Flowers. Window Shopping.

I'm taking a leaf out of Tara's blog Paris Parfait - she posts glorious photos of the shop windows in Paris.... Palmerston North and gumboots (British call them wellingtons and Americans call them rainboots or galoshes) is far from Paris, France ...

... but I couldn't resist taking a photo of these glam gumboots in a Palmerston North window display. I wouldn't pay $75 for them however (Warehouse $30 gummies do me, especially as they nearly always become covered in mud anyway).


'Simply Flowers'
New Zealand

 ... thought this shot looked more effective with the black and white treatment ...

Still on the theme of shop window displays, today I took a photo of a local gift shop window - something I have wanted to do for a long time. The window dispalys there are always striking.
Donna of Simply Flowers told me that there is a downstairs part to the shop as well, featuring bridal wear and more gifts. It is a delicious shop worth a look around. If you're in Dunedin, you should visit.

I like how the houses across the road from this shop on Musselburgh Rise are reflected in the window. I had a lot of trouble taking the photos because of reflections. I would like to go back at a different time of day and take a photo of some very cool jeans that today the reflections prevented me from capturing.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Up North

After visiting the museum in Palmerston North and reading a little bit of the history of the Maori settlement in this area, I tried to overlay an image of how the place might have looked long ago. Muddy and great for eeling. Full of the noise of birds. Huia. Piwakawaka. Korero.

 I looked up at Palmerston's unfettered sky-scape and reminded myself how much we can count on the sky to remain the same (humankind's impact notwithstanding) through time and all its changes.

The Square, Palmerston North

... temporary ice skating rink set up for the winter.

My mother doesn't have internet or a coffee percolater, so forays into town became necessary for good coffee & for the wifi to keep in touch with family and emails. 

'Tomato' with its kiwiana 1970's kitsch décor and theme, has become our favourite place for coffee while we were in Palmy.

Orange accents ... poppies outside the art gallery and museum & sunset out of Mum's kitchen window

... and blues ...

Bruce McKenzie's -  a fantastic book shop

... couldn't resist this - a sheep outside a Japanese Restaurant ... just for the family in Japan.

... and yet another trendy cafe - more upmarket this one ...

...  a car advertising a lawn-mowing service ....

We spent a week with Mum who's getting on now - as she would say herself - being 81 (and a half) years old. She kept getting bright ideas over her first cup of tea in bed in the morning. These ideas usually involved little jobs she decided needed doing. A lot of requests started with the words - "Tell you what you could do for me" 

... photo opp outside Mum's house before we head for the airport. 

It was a week of dusting, cleaning, tidying, clearing (the whole garage into a skip) gardening, shopping and dropping books off (or picking them up) at the library. Etc. We were happy to do it, we only get the chance to see her once or twice a year.

Yesterday we arrived back home, in Dunedin - for a holiday!

Clocking Out

 I have been neglecting this blog for some months. I think perhaps I should face facts and accept that it is indeed time to retire this blog...