Friday 31 December 2010

Downtown Auckland

What a way to start a holiday, a 12 hour sleep in a marshmallow bed at a swanky hotel right in the middle of town.

Dig the spiral staircase.

The city was slow to wake up and we had it to ourselves first thing in the morning. Sky tower the obligatory 1st stop.

Of course the guys in the orange 'jump suits' are about 20, who else leaps of off tall buildings?!**

Well apart from superwoman here!

If you look hard you can just make out the toes of my shoes.

I don't know how, but I managed to persuade C into the Auckland City Library for the Shades of Grey exhibition, about the life of Sir George Grey, explorer, politician AND Book lover.

For an army officer he had some very fine sketch books.

He was also a collector of books, this Rossdhu Book of Hours from the 1460's

A copy of Blake's Europe and America, and extremely rarely bound together in one volume, plates etched and printed by William Blake.

An 18th century Ethiopian manuscript, handwritten on paper and illustrated with small water colours.

And a great little exhibition of local photographs and postcards from 1890's to about the 1980's

And then into Auckland Art Gallery. Some really powerful portraits, late 19th and early 20th century by Charles Goldie and Gottfried Lindauer.

Plus an exhibition of work by contemporary New Zealand artists.

I now feel I should have looked harder, but my impression at the time was that contemporary art (from most western countries) shares common sensibilities, so apart from a personal preference for individual pieces, the work could have been form anywhere and I could be in any one of many fine national galleries.

Window displays . . . .

The ugly sisters

Cinderella and her prince

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Wednesday 29 December 2010

Kia ora from the other side of the world

I've flown out of Heathrow on a boxing day before. That time it was half empty and quiet - boxing day 2010 is pandemonium! So many people, not a seat available, and not much floor space either. It must be the result of all the chaos caused by last weeks snow related delays.

Luckily for me, Chris is a gold card member of BA this means we get invited into the Cathay Pacific 1st class lounge - result!

The lounge is all peace, quiet and good will to all, plus free Ginger ale so I count my blessing and gratefully sit down.

Making the transfer in Hong Kong is smooth and easy, not bags, no hassle - just a 4 hour wait and a fabulous sun set over the airport.

The flight to Auckland is another matter. It's not the turbulence, although that's not great, it's the drunk and abusive bloke in the seat opposite. I do the 'I'm not noticing this' act, which is harder than you would think when he starts punching the plane and shouting and I watch out of the corner of my eye as a very petite Chinese stewardess tries to restrain him. Very quickly there are more stewardesses and a large man from the flight deck, and before you know it Chris and me and two women travellers have been moved to different seats where we are all able to settle down for the rest of night.

It's a pretty bumpy landing in the grey rain at Auckland but it's good to get off the plane at last and as we collect up our belongings and troop wearily along the gangway I see four police men waiting by the plane door.

It's wet, wet, wet an grey, grey, grey an dreek n drear, for all the world looking like a summers day in Scotland.

And for those of us (myself included) who've moaned about the passport control entering the USA, well! Try New Zealand, as well as a slow, slow passport control there is an even slower bio-security check. We join a very long queue, watch the pretty sniffer dogs, fill in a form declaring you have no plant stuff, no meats, no bone, shells, dirty boots, animal medicine! . . . . and after what seems an age, like a cork from a shaken bottle we're out in the so very welcome fresh air and rain, jumping into a taxi and heading to downtown Auckland.
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Wednesday 22 December 2010

Mrs Cake

This is a bit of a technical test for me, I'm trying out updates from my iPad so that when I'm traveling I can keep blogin'

Christmas cake awaiting decoration - it doesn't look much . . . Yet!

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Saturday 18 December 2010

Through the wardrobe

This morning when I came down to breakfast and looked out of the windows I was tempted to think that somehow in my sleep I'd gone through the wardrobe and found myself in Narnia.

Our little world at Froxfield has once again been transformed into a Christmas card scene.
Henny isn't keen, she comes out to peer about, makes a few grumbling clucks and scuttles back into the coop.

Walking around the garden in my warm boots, big coat and hat I can see all the bird food is frozen (what will the poor things do) this is early snow for our part of the world, too many small brown birds will perish in this unexpected weather.

The sound of children's voices glide across the valley from where they are tobogganing, mixing with the sound of geese flying in the still thick air overhead.

It is really still and quiet here today. The pristine snow looked so perfect it seemed a shame that I would walk along the path to my shed and spoil it.

Late in the afternoon I walked around the corner to our little church, the old ladies will find it cold in there tomorrow morning. If they come out of course, the porch has been cleared of snow but no one has swept the path.

Who is lonely Joan Allen I wonder, her tiny cross the only thing to mark a life. 

I found her marooned near the back of the graveyard, behind the grand tombstones and finely carved slate, alone in the snow.
Deep and crisp and even . . . .  Happy Christmas everyone xx

Friday 17 December 2010

A present to myself!

I'm feeling very happy this afternoon. I've just hung a fantastic new piece of work, (a little treat to myself) a broadside from the Al-Mutanabbi Street Broadsides Tour printed by Andy Gossett with poem by Adnan Mahsen. 

A special event was held on Thursday 9th December including exhibition, readings and an auction of broadsides for Médecins Sans Frontières, in the library at UWE

Luckily for me no one else bid for this piece - my best buy of the year

Al-Mutanabbi Street Broadsides Tour Winter 2010
The al-Mutanabbi Street Coalition project was created as an arts community response to the car bombing of al-Mutanabbi street, and has been organising readings and events since April 2007 to fundraise for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). 

All 130 broadsides created for the project can be viewed at the Florida Atlantic University/Jaffe Center for Book Arts site. 

Now hanging in our hallway.

Wednesday 15 December 2010

Hoar frost

The countryside around Froxfield looked  so beautiful today, frost formed on the branches of the trees and berries around the paddock, in the woods and roadsides around and about.