Thursday, 6 September 2018

Leaving these Shores

Just letting readers know I'm heading for Berlin on Sunday to visit family who live there. After that I will be visiting my husband who is a visiting lecturer at a University in China.
I won't be posting for the month I'm away. Nice to know that my son and daughter in law are able to stay in our place while we're away.

Top of Lake Wakatipu at Glenorchy, looking towards Kinloch Station (farm) on the eastern side of the lake. The braided rivers, Dart and Rees feed into the lake that was formed by a glacier's gouging descent and subsequent melt-down.

Before heading away I was fortunate to be able to visit Queenstown's Lake District and once more greet some of my favourite mountains.
The wounded city of Berlin is very different from that scene.
I was there two years ago and found it hard going. However for many reasons, I am expecting a very different visit this time. Time has a way of moving things on. I will be interested to see what is the same and what is different.
China will be a totally new experience.
I will have plenty of writing material, I am sure.
I shall be keeping in mind my current (ha, ha) theme of rivers. It will be interesting to see what tributaries this will lead (or take) me down.
Until I see you back here again; Auf Wiedersehen and Zaijian.

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Magpies, Willows and a Bridge

bridge over a stream at Pukerau, Southland

I had occasion to look out for creeks and rivers on a trip south I made last week. It's certainly not hard to find them. This whole island is littered with them. Like all rivers everywhere, the very large rivers of the South Island all begin from small upland seepages, the creeks or streams then, one way or another, joining to ultimately form large rivers, their mid-rush and dash ultimately calming down into an old, slow, fat meander to the sea.

... there had been a lot of rain just before my trip south and the full, brown waters of the creek at Pukerau, along with the puddle-splattered, muddy ground, indicated just how much rain had fallen ... 

Te Waipounamu ('the waters of the greenstone' ) is the Maori name for the South Island; this in itself being somewhat of a giveaway as to the number of rivers there exists in the South Island.

Often in these country places, once thriving, small towns; now silent and empty apart from the occasional tractor chuffing past; I sense the grim lives lived by those who cleared the land that now forms the green and pleasant, pastoral landscape thus bequeathed. A residual depression, or loneliness, seems to linger on in such places. While I was stopped here, a flock (murder, gulp, charm being the appropriate collective nouns) of magpies chortled and gurgled their accompaniment to my musings. Very fitting when one remembers the iconic, classic NZ magpie poem;  by Denis Glover. 

A bedraggled mane of grasses left by recent rains

I enjoyed the geography lessons back in high school that featured rivers and the terminology of rivers - young rivers, old rivers, ox bow lakes, upper waters, lower tributaries, river mouth, estuaries, lagoons, marshes, wetlands ...

Otamita Bridge spanning the Mataura River 

In the background are the hills and mountains of northern Southland, where the Mataura river and its tributaries are formed.

Bare winter willows by the Mataura River at Otamita ...

A wooden bridge farther upstream was washed away in a flood in 2017. Not so this sturdy, concrete bridge built in the early 1960's. Not pretty, but pretty strong. Practicality rules in these parts.

This bridge ( Otamita bridge) figures in my memory as a teenager living in Gore (some 13 k's away) because one mad day my three sisters and I decided we'd bike to this bridge (all 13 k's) and back again. We made it; God knows how - I guess it shows what youthful zest and energy can achieve. I remember we picnicked under the willows on the river bank you can see through the concrete railings. It was summer, the willows green and shady.

At one time the hills this bridge points towards spelt 'home'; being in the general area of where my family once lived for five happy years; in a place called Otama Valley. For me, in a way, this bridge symbolises 'the way home'. Or at least it used to. The future and circumstances combined - in other words, life - have caused an inevitable dispersal. For all of my family, naturally, other homes near and far have since been formed and reformed. When I re-visited this bridge other day, only a shimmer of long-ago memories remained of that once-strong compass point.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Still Waters of the Tomahawk Lagoon

Tomahawk Lagoon; 'Tomahawk' possibly being an anglicisation of the original Maori name for this place. It is thought that the original name for this area was 'tomo haka', meaning 'dance by the gravesite'. (The fact that the modern-day Andersons Bay cemetery is a stone's throw from here, being pure coincidence). 

For some time now I have had rivers on my mind.

It may have a lot to do with the fact that my youngest grandchild has a river-like name. Whatever the reason, I'm going to run with it and make rivers a theme for this blog.

I do have another blog - one that is maintained on my website at
and in fact I originally intended to drop this blog in favour of having just the one. However, I have a fondness for Blogger, my original blogging platform. Plus, I've noticed that a lot of readers come to my website from this Time & Place blog.

So, I shall go with the flow (so to speak) and keep this blog running - running with my current interest of rivers and bodies of water associated with rivers - such as creeks, streams, tributaries and (as in the case of today's topic) lagoons and ponds.

The two photo above, are of a lagoon just over the hill from where I live. It is a site known for its birdlife and despite its definition as a lagoon, is not inundated by the sea, but rather has the characteristics of a small, shallow, coastal lake.

It has an upper and a lower side (known as Top and Bottom; an example of the prosaic nature of New Zealand's place names) and several creeks which have their origin somewhere in the peninsula hills, run into it. Like a tiny, faraway twig of a grand family tree, this largely unremarkable body of stream-filled water, does in the end, connect to the mighty Pacific Ocean. A short and also unremarkable stream is where the connection lies.

'Owing to the pastoral nature of much of the surrounding land, nutrient runoff into the lagoon is frequently high, resulting in its often eutrophic nature'. (Wikipedia). This means that it can have a high algae content and sometimes suffers from algae bloom.

The main creek that runs into the lagoon, is Lagoon Creek (again, an example of European settlers' habit of giving New Zealand prosaic names for geographical features and place names - for example, South Island, North Island; and in my opinion, all the more reason to support the policy of going back to the original Maori names, which are far more interesting and poetic).

Lagoon Creek (which will have a Maori name for sure, but I can find no reference to that fact) begins where there is a prominent hilltop memorial, or monument, constructed in remembrance of soldiers of World War One.

This 10-meter tall bluestone column was placed on a spot originally known as Big Stone (could you get anything more prosaic?!) but which was then re-named Arthur's Seat (an example of many such allusions to Dunedin's Scottish heritage). However, it is more popularly known simply as, Soldier's Monument, and is a popular place for people to climb up to for stunning views over Otago Harbour, Peninsula and surrounds.

Tomahawk Beach 

Yesterday I visited this beach with my daughter-in-law and grandchild with a river-like name. It was a spectacular clear winter's day. Across the road from the beach lies a puddle-like tributary of the lagoon. I pondered for a second or two on the fact that in the end, all rivers run into the sea. Including, eventually (slowly, unobtrusively, slyly and shyly) the comparatively still, and sluggish waters of the Tomahawk Lagoon.

Are rivers meaningful for you too?

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Post Modern

photo of rural mailboxes taken at Tinkertown, Northern Southland, New Zealand.

Mailboxes are becoming a thing of the past. Soon all mail will be delivered to the door by courier. You don't know what you have until it's gone. However, watch this space as they may well come back. There are places in New Zealand that are bringing back glass milk bottles.

Sci fi . futuristic novels and movies don't quite get it. Humans are basically nostalgic creatures, reluctant to completely let go of the past. Hence despite their predictions that by now we would all be living in plastic homes furnished in pure white modular units and eating dried food, here we are buying antique furniture and eating real food from our own gardens, or at least, locally produced.

I think the key to predicting the future is simply waiting and seeing.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Road Trip South

Lake Dunstan taken from in the car of the road between Cromwell and Alexandra 

My sister and I like to go on road trips - we call them roadies. Last month we turned our noses south (usually our preference this being 'home country' for us).

We headed straight for the place where we spent our early childhood.

Te WaeWae Beach and the crumbling clay cliffs of Orepuki

The tide was in when we visited which meant that Monkey Island was an island and not looking like some large abandoned rock.

The sky was a dramatic one but not so clouded over that we couldn't see the snow-topped peaks of the Princess Range backdrop

The sea looked magical in the mid-day light.

After a cup of tea and a scone in the Orepuki Beach Cafe (the building where the cafe is located was once our great aunty Mary's home. It is always a thrill to sit there and recall past times and the history of the house).

From the cafe a favourite tree of mine is clearly visible. I well remember this tree, ravaged over the years by sea-salt laden winds. Behind it, the bush-clad Longwoods range.

This visit was tinged with sadness because our dearly loved Aunty Lorna Lee (who in recent years often accompanied us on our road trips) died in January this year. At the cafe she has left books and records she had of her beloved Orepuki for people to look through. There is also a book or two of mine there.

We visited the cemetery and sought out some of the graves of relatives and ancestors.

It must be one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world.

From there we headed farther inland to spend the night with our brother in Riversdale, on the way exploring more of Southland's hidden gems, with rivers quickly becoming an unfolding motif of the trip.

But more about that another time.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Suspense and Defiance

Autumn has gone. Winter has arrived. There is something dramatic and heavy about this season.

The dying, followed quickly by the simmering of new life, just under the surface.
The suspense.
These photos were taken at the bottom of our long driveway. Walking up the drive, I noticed buds already beginning to form on branches, all ready for their spring reveal.

This maple tree usually carries its leaves (some still green) until well after the beginning of winter, crossing the seasonal border with style and aplomb.
It carries its own sense of timing and defiant air.
Out of any direct hit of prevailing winds, it proclaims, "I will go. But only when I am good and ready".
I'm sure the other trees already into their deep winter sleep, do not hear. Or care.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Hearts and Tears

Robert and I go curling every Tuesday night through winter. We started last winter and as we escaped concussion or broken bones, have turned up again this year.

Apart from the obvious benefits of fun and exercise, I also enjoy the cold ice. By nature I am not a 'tropical bird ' - even though my DNA results show a (entirely expected) Pacific Island - Hawaiian - Mid-China strain. In my case, I suspect the 38% Scottish strain is mostly to the fore.

That I am learning in each of my turns to wield and control, direct and aim, manage and choreograph, a couple of cheerful-looking, highly-polished granite stones (or rocks as they are sometimes referred to) also adds to my enjoyment. Along with the tam-'o-shanter camaraderie.

I am disappointed though that no-one has offered me a complimentary (or congratulatory; depending on the circumstances) wee nip, or dram, of whisky. I though that was par for the course. I'm putting it down to liquor licensing laws.

A curling poem is simmering. I have a feeling that it will have something to do with stones aka rocks, that sometimes 'kiss', sometimes 'kill'.


This time last week while the royal wedding bride, Meghan Markle, was still asleep (or if she wasn't, should have been) on the night before her wedding to Harry, I was reflecting and pondering on a silent, mini-retreat out at Brighton - a small. seaside town on the outskirts of Dunedin.

Among other pleasant sights, the Otakia Creek on its drift to the sea, the manner of its cut through rippled, wind-and-tide patterned sand, was both inspiring and soothing.

And so I drifted into the week ... uplifted by a couple of words and the ideas those words bestow. Sadly they are words that through over-use, mis-use etc. have become cliched. But when looked at from another angle, they hold power. The words are Freedom and Love.

So of course all I could see in the ripples, were hearts. And teardrops.


As I head into another week, as always, family and friends are here for me as both buffer and spur. I think another word should be added to my arsenal - Thankful.


Thursday, 17 May 2018


Wains Hotel. Taken from out of the bus window yesterday. 

Lately I have been enjoying life more than I have for a long time. If you want a bit more more elaboration as to the whys and wherefores, go HERE

One of my husband's favourite songs is 'Freedom' as sung by Richie Havens on the Woodstock album.

These days I can hear that song ringing out in my inner ear.

Freedom to take a bus or walk.
Freedom of choice.
Freedom to believe in something, or not to believe.
Freedom to speak your mind.
Freedom to be a good person.

It's all something I do not take for granted. Ever.

Freedom to imagine God not as a puppet master, but a parent.
Freedom to believe there is no God, no heaven.
Freedom to believe the opposite is true.
Freedom to imagine.
Freedom to be a realist.
Freedom to be yourself, true to your own nature, leanings, personality, temperament.

My very Scottish city, Dunedin. This photo was taken in the Octagon (the eight-sided middle of the shopping centre). In the background, the Town Hall and in the foreground, a statue of the Scottish bard, Robbie Burns.  
If you look closely you'll see that yesterday Robbie was holding a joint / smoke ... No doubt placed by some joker, or protestor, and no doubt it will have been removed by Council workers by now. Not a good look for tourists. I found it rather amusing, however. I liked the idea of Rab chilling out, having a toke while the ever-present, opportunistic seagull took a rest on his curly locks.

Dunedin (the old name for Edinburgh) was settled by Presbyterian Scots, one of whom was Robbie Burns' uncles (or was he the nephew? Nae matter). Some would say that a remnant of that conservative Scottish influence can still be found in this rather reserved city. There are families living here who can trace their ancestors back to the first settlers who arrived by ship from Scotland in the 1860"s. However, Dunedin is growing more and more cosmopolitan, and I for one love to see that. Different cultures and languages and customs, add welcome variety and diversity. It's what makes the world go round. Its where progress exists.

As well, Dunedin prides itself on being a UNESCO City of Literature. However, in my experience, so far it is failing to fully employ, or utilise, this status. The city is not very good at supporting the people who supply the literature. Not on an equal basis, anyway. It needs to embrace more innovative means of supporting the many writers and artists who live in Dunedin.

I am pleased to have been included a little in the Dunedin lit. scene, with a poem of mine being printed on a wooden seat in a part of town that is being refurbished to enhance the historical aspect of what was once the city's wharf area; now quickly becoming a place for cafes and artisan studios and businesses.

Another Dunedin icon - a rather more modern one than the Burns statue. A wind sculpture positioned outside the city's library. I'm rather fond of it. It has a very eighties vibe. I have no idea of its official title, but I quite like the idea of dubbing it the Twirlyjig.

Ah, the freedom to give a sculpture a nickname, to blow with the wind; or not. At present I am in the mood for leaning towards following whims and where the wind takes me. Let's hope it doesn't twirl me dizzy, or simply lead me back to where I started from.

Monday, 7 May 2018

There Are More Things To Life

This is where I blog ... Here is My Website

At the bottom of the road from where we live, the Andersons Bay inlet provides an interesting and picturesque place for a wander. Here one can sit on a bench and look over the inlet and harbour towards the city where all the busy bees are working away.

I am thankful that circumstances (mainly a generous husband who agreed to take on the sole responsibility of bringing home the bacon) allowed me to retire from paid employment early. Four years ago I stopped working as an early childhood teacher to concentrate on finishing a novel. I have achieved that. Now I am looking for a publisher. They are like hen's teeth in New Zealand (Especially for a first novel). Looks like it may have to be self-published.

Meanwhile, ideas for a second novel are brewing.

This morning's sunrise over Mount Cargill (Kapukataumahaka) which is a volcanic outcrop - like all the hills around here

As well I am also editing my fourth collection of poetry. Also requiring a publisher at the end of the edits.

Achieving my writing  goals has been satisfying indeed. But even better, this year I turn 65 years old and qualify for Superannuation. The pension. In NZ, dubbed the Super. To me this feels like being paid to write. At long last, after writing seriously (virtually unpaid) for thirty years.

It feels like it's been a long time coming.

Again, this morning's sunrise, this time over a piece of land nicknamed Old Swampy which lies at the back of Dunedin city

These days for me, writing isn't everything it used to be. It is no  longer the be all and end all. Grandchildren and gardening, reading and walking are some of the other things also up there among my priorities and passions. These are also less likely to break my heart. Rejections in the writing sector (as in any creative pursuit) can appear relentless.

My husband has just reminded me that we have Curling tonight. First game of the season. We took up the sport of curling last winter and loved it. After enjoying curling while on a working holiday in Aviemore, Scotland in the winter of 1978, we always said we would go back to it when we were older. We are definitely older and we have gone back to it. Just as a hobby. Not Olympic-level, you understand.

 As the leaves fall, bidding the world their last hurrah with their brilliant hues, we begin to look forward to winter. Even though it's sad to say good-bye to the warmer days, there are things to look forward to in winter. Soup, watching movies by the fire, mulled wine, winter fashions, snow (I like snow) and ... curling.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

At The Back of the House

I have decided to keep blogging here, along with a permanent link to my website ...

The back of this house reminds me of someone no longer with us. He lived for his garden and kept the back of the house looking as good as the front. Here there were secret shadows and leafy corners with tiny violet-type flowers; small orchids and rock plants hidden under sheltering fern leaves, or tucked under mossy humus (for those who took time to look for them). Those plants are not there any more, possibly because there is no-one to notice any more. No-one to point them out. I miss the tiny, startling-blue eyes of these flowers. And the gardener who planted them there to be noticed, or not.

This place that I love is a place that everyone all over the world, loves. Because it is a place that everyone all over the world loves, it has become crowded and commercialised. Capitalism reigns here in Queenstown, New Zealand.

However, if you are lucky enough to have somewhere that is home in this tourist resort; somewhere where you do not have to enter into the madness of tacky tourist gee-gaws; it is still possible to simply lift your eyes to the mountains, or to breathe in the cool, fresh-air fumes of a lake that sits in the lap of those mountains; a lake so deep and snow-fed, the sun will never warm.

And in autumn, the views are extra specially vibrant ...

When we visited last, tui were loudly announcing their presence in this tree and others. Too quick for a phone camera, I didn't even try to capture them. I was just happy to hear their melodic song, striking as deep as sun on to moss.

Queenstown is a ski resort, so eyes and noses are turned skywards for the snow ...

Meanwhile ... at the back of the house ...

roses still bloom

and quiet flowers wait to be noticed.

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...