Making sense of my photography hobby in retirement

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Chez Marie

Paris, Rue du Calvaire, Chez Marie, restaurant, Rue Gabrielle, Montmartre, France

Chez Marie Restaurant from steps on Rue du Calvaire

Paris is one of those cities that keeps drawing one back, time and again. In September last year we were able to spend a week in this wonderful city, based in an apartment on Montmartre. It was our fourth and longest visit. Previous visits over a period of forty years were for just a few days.  Early morning and late evening strolls took us through the narrow twisting streets, lanes and steps for which the Montmartre district is famous.

This image is one of my favourites from the many photographs taken during the week. The day was overcast and cool, not the best for capturing sparking photos. After a memorable lunch in the Place du Tertre we found these steps at the southwestern corner of the square, leading to Rue Gabrielle and Restaurant Chez Marie.  For me the view is quintessentially Paris. A large canvas print of this image now hangs in our kitchen – maybe we should call our kitchen Chez Marie!

Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder!

Absinthe makes the heart grow stronger

Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder

I was going to give this post the title “It’s been a long time between drinks” but this photograph, taken in Prague last August by my wife, kept playing in my mind.

Six months have passed since the last post (sounds almost military!), and what a busy 6 months it’s been. On 29 July 2013 we stepped onto an aeroplane at Auckland International Airport to begin a three-month journey around the world. Our journey took us to China, Eastern Europe, the UK, USA and Canada, including a 7,000 km trip by car to visit the National Parks in Southwest USA (during the Government shutdown!). Before leaving we moved the contents of our home of the previous 32 years into storage, and upon returning they were removed from storage into a new home. Unpacking, a family Christmas, reconnecting to normal life and sorting through thousands of photographs have taken up the balance of the time up until now.

To say that the trip was memorable would be an understatement. Exposure to a broad range of experiences and cultures made the time pass quickly. Now our photographs help to being back the memories. Some of these and the accompanying experiences will be shared in the coming months.

Please excuse the pun in the title.  In one of the lanes near the central square of Prague is a shop that sells nothing but absinthe.  This alcoholic drink has a reputation of having psychoactive properties and was favoured by the late 19th and early 20th century artist community in Paris.  Social conservatives eventually succeeded in having absinthe banned in Europe and the USA in the early 1900s, but by the mid 1960s it began its revival. The pun arose during our coach trip through Eastern Europe after the tour director had given a discourse on the absinthe culture in Prague, when one bright spark asked “Does absinthe make the heart grow fonder?”

Gardens of the World

There was an advertisement on T V in New Zealand in the 1990s that had the headline “Don’t leave town until you’ve seen the country”. It was to encourage Kiwis to visit their own country before venturing overseas (we are surrounded by ocean down here at the bottom of the world).

Well, it seems that the world has come to New Zealand.  A week ago we visited the Hamilton Gardens in the Waikato city of Hamilton. The garden there are quite unlike most other municipal gardens in New Zealand.  Instead of the usual beds of plants and flowers laid out in the traditional English or European fashion, these gardens are set out in distinct themed country areas.

With only two weeks to go before our on trip “overseas” the visit to the gardens was timely.  We would like to share images of our visit with you.

Hamilton Gardens, Hamilton, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Cloistered Courtyard with fountain

Hamilton Gardens, Hamilton, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Gate to Chinese Scholars Garden

Hamilton Gardens, Hamilton, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Reflections

Hamilton Gardens, Hamilton, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Entry to Japanese Garden of Contemplation

Hamilton Gardens, Hamilton, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Dovecote in the English Flower Garden

Hamilton Gardens, Hamilton, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Marilyn (Modernist American Garden)

Hamilton Gardens, Hamilton, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Indian Char Bagh Garden

Hamilton Gardens, Hamilton, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Indian Char Bagh Garden

Hamilton Gardens, Hamilton, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Arched Trellis walk leading to the Italian Renaissance Garden

Hamilton Gardens, Hamilton, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Central dome in the Arched Trellis Walk

Hamilton Gardens, Hamilton, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Italian Renaissance Garden

Hamilton Gardens, Hamilton, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

View to Italian Renaissance Garden

Hamilton Gardens, Hamilton, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Te Parapara Maori Garden with Kumara (sweet potato) mounds

Hamilton Gardens, Hamilton, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

English Tudor Garden

Hamilton Gardens, Hamilton, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

English Tudor Garden

Go North Turn Left

With our pending three month journey to Europe and North America about to begin in just under two weeks, my wife Valerie and I have established an companion blog to this one called Go North Turn Left.  In this blog we will relate tales of our travels (hopefully not travails) as we venture forth on the various legs of our journey.

So, where did the blog name come from?

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We have a very dear friend who believes that everything in the world is up and to the left of New Zealand. Her view of the geography of the world dates back to primary school days when she first looked at a map of the world. On that map New Zealand was at the bottom right corner. This view of the world has always intrigued us, especially Valerie who was a former geography teacher. So, to honour this unusual view we have named the blog “Go North Turn Left”

Our travels this year start at the end of July 2013.  We trust you will enjoy the journey with us.

Posts will also continue here as time and internet connections permit.

The end is in sight!

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The last six weeks have been a trial.  In February we sold our home of the last 32 years.  We built it then to replace the home that my wife grew up in until we were married 44 years ago. Thirty two years of raising three sons and accumulating life’s possessions, plus those possessions that flowed out of the old house, have made the last few weeks difficult at times as decisions needed to be made on to what to keep and what to re-house elsewhere.  Yesterday we left the house with just three small cartons to top-up and close.  Our life is now housed in a storage facility awaiting rediscovery when we find a new home some time in the next year.  Finding a view of the end over the last two weeks has been difficult, but yesterday it emerged.

In two weeks we leave for a three month holiday that will take us to China, Europe, the USA and Canada.  Needless to say, we are really looking forward to the adventure. Just like the last few weeks, transmission over the next three months may be a bit patchy as we search for internet connections and time to update posts. Every attempt will be made to create a regular stream of posts and express views on what we discover.

Piebald Skies

If ever I am called to go to another town or city for pleasure of for business I try to get out for an early morning walk.  For me, it’s the best time of the day.  It’s the time before most people begin to move, and the time when the light is clear, the sun is still low, and the air is fresh.

It was on such a morning that I took my morning walk along the coastal walkway at New Plymouth in the Taranaki region of New Zealand.  Taranaki occupies that area of the large western cape of the North Island of New Zealand.  Its central feature is Mt Taranaki, a Fuji look-alike that dominates the landscape throughout the region.  The coastal walkway stretches 11 km from the Port Taranaki, past the New Plymouth CBD, then on around the cliffs and beaches in a northerly direction. It’s popular with walkers, runners and cyclists.

New Plymouth Coastal Walkway, Taranaki, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Fitzroy Beach from the New Plymouth Coastal Walkway

New Plymouth Coastal Walkway, Taranaki, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Resting and viewing area beneath the cliffs just north of the New Plymouth CBD

New Plymouth Coastal Walkway, Taranaki, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Port Taranaki and New Plymouth CBD. The “wand” on the foreshore next to the rectangular white building is an installation art piece designed by artist Len Lye.

On this particular morning there was a lovely piebald sky that added to the enjoyment of the walk.

Fireflame Chillies

I love street markets, no matter where in the world they are. Its the combinations of colors, activity and people that make them so fascinating. Here is a selection of images taken at the Matakana Market, a farmers’ market held during the summer at Matakana Village, an hour’s drive north of Auckland.

Matakana Market, Northland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Fireflame, that’s on medium please!

Matakana Market, Northland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

“Now you need to understand some of the finer points about chillies”

Matakana Market, Northland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

“Which one would you like to try first?”

Matakana Market, Northland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

You’ll need to visit Puhoi to see the “Big Cheese”

Matakana Market, Northland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

“And now for a we spell to turn this into the perfect organic crepe”

Matakana Market, Northland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

Why can’t I grow basil like that?

Matakana Market, Northland, New Zealand, Copyright Chris Gregory 2013

“This, Monsieur, is the perfect pastry for you”

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