Sunday, November 25, 2007


At 8am this morning the power went off for the day - planned maintenance work was required to the major powerline so the whole area was blacked out (if you can call it a blackout in glorious sunshine!)

The first thing that hit me was how quiet the house suddenly was, no water pump, no fridge humming, no computer fans whirring - all the background noises that are so constant you stop noticing them until they aren't there any more.

Apart from the sudden realisation at 8.05am that I'd not made my toast (but I still got my porridge, thank heavens for gas hobs!) I didn't really find myself that inconvenienced but it did make me realise just how reliant upon electricity we are. It's amazing how many things require it, especially when your water supply is pumped to the house by an electric pump! We could have sat in the car to listen to the radio, or used my dinky radio with earphones (which I only remembered about afterwards) but as Elizabeth had caught enough of the news headlines to hear that John Howard was no the longer Aussie PM (yay!!!) we just cheerfully waited to hear more later.

Later... not just the radio news & the tv news but the washing machine, dishwasher, checking emails, showers, lights, the toilet cisterns refilling instead of using buckets, filling the jug (kettle) from the tap and boiling it, baking potatoes in the oven, the fridge getting back to temperature and the light going on again when the door opened...

Between us we gardened, knitted, sewed, read, made coffee on the stove and boiled water in a pan for tea, we went for a windswept walk/run on the beach and then gradually de-sanded ourselves across the floors and furniture as no matter how hard you try to brush it off it is never quite enough. It wasn't that different from any other Sunday really, we wondered though just how different other people's days might have been from the norm, and maybe it was a good thing to have had no power if it meant children played outside more and people appreciated more what a luxury having electricity on demand is and what alternatives we need in place to get by without it.

Monday, November 19, 2007

home is where my accent is?

okay.... so I'm back in Kaitaia and Mim's playing 'Last of the Summer Wine' on the cello... Mum & Dad are in Scotland looking at my pictures of the Holme & Colne Valleys that I'm slowly uploading from Aotearoa NZ and they reckon they feel disorientated?! At least at kindy today I wasn't the only one jetlagged, one of the staff returned from Europe about 3 weeks ago and two of the kids had their first day back today after a trip to see their grandparents in England. It was somewhat surreal overhearing a conversation in the outdoor play area about John Lewis' in Tooting Beck! (not between the boys I hasten to add, it was their mum and Clare!)

It is good to be home again it must be said - and not least because all the travelling has stopped. Much as it was wonderful to see everyone I'd had enough of traipsing around after about 2 weeks never mind 5! I felt like I was getting information overload, a bit like travelling as a tourist in many ways only instead of learning about places it was catching up on everyone's news and desperately trying to remember who'd moved/got married/had kids/split up before I totally put my foot in it... thanks so much to those who put me up/put up with me, especially when jetlag got the better of me.

For various reasons advanced planning didn't really happen which meant I missed seeing a fair few people I'd've liked to but it also led to a few serendipitous encounters I'd never have thought to add to my itinery had I been a bit more thorough in advance. It did stike me more than once that a decidedly kiwi attitude to travelling did seem to be prevailing - maybe I'm becoming more naturalised to this place than I thought. Bonnie did say she thought I sounded like Elizabeth when I arrived back at Kindy this morning... given the chameleon nature of my accent and the fact that I did a whistlestop tour of all previous major UK influences (Yorkshire, Somerset, Lancashire, Newcastle & Edinburgh - in terms of people if not actual locations this trip) I'm quite impressed with myself for obviously slipping back into my current 'norm' so quickly!

So, it's back to sunhats, sunblock, Ninety Mile Beach, homemade lemonade (fruit from the garden), Whittakers chocolate... and in case anyone is getting too jealous - mozzies and sandfly bites too!

Friday, November 09, 2007

world in pictures

I've been thinking about this one for a while... when I was at Pardshaw and we were walking down from the crags I remembered a conversation I'd had with Derek several years ago doing the same walk.

I was commenting on his lack of camera given that he used to go everywhere with a rather fancy camera and sizeable bag of accessories, his reply was that he realised he felt the need to stop viewing everything through the lens and take part in what was around him more. Recollections came to me of (I assume) Japanese tourists at some beautiful viewpoint in the Highlands of Scotland trooping off their coach videoing everything in sight and then getting straight back on again. They hadn't really taken in anything of the majesty of the place, absorbed the sheer energy of the mountains or even noticed the sparkling dew-laden spiders webs at their feet. Some had posed for photos - but next to the bus!!! Um hello, dramatic scenery as a backdrop or a coach - they chose the coach, whatever. That conversation made me think a lot about my own photography and I found myself taking fewer photos when with people doing things instead putting my energy into being with them and taking part. Exceptions were when lazing around in free time at Summer School - a perfect opportunity to get some sneaky portrait shots.

But more recently I've become aware of how my increasing interest in photography has made me look at the world in a different way. I'm not constantly looking at the world through a viewfinder but I do find I see beauty (and photographic opportunities) in unexpected and everyday places far more often. I've always noticed things like the way light plays on the leaves of trees but I find myself now often struck by the way it hits buildings, I see details I would have previously passed by (often thinking 'Jim could make a picture out of that' and not quite managing to capture what I know he could achieve!). I've become far more aware of the world around me but I've realised as I've come towards the end of my trip back to the UK I've only got people photos where I've consciously made the effort to get them or had more relaxed time in which to do so. So images of most of the more fleeting encounters are recorded solely in my mind - probably not the most reliable of media but at least it won't become technologically obsolete!

Friday, November 02, 2007

the passage of time

I'd forgotten just how early it starts getting dark once the clocks have changed! Ok so I'm now north of the Border (actually in the Borders as it happens) which makes a difference and on the East Coast too... so with two lots of clocks changing (Aotearoa NZ Summer time started a week before I left and the UK's just changed this w/e) on top of jetlag my sleeping pattern still doesn't know if I'm coming or going. Ah well, only another week to go and it all goes topsy turvy again =/

I've spent the entire time I've been over here feeling as though I'd only been gone a couple of months or so rather than two years - I've been able to just pick up where I left off with so many people, but maybe that's got as much to do with the people I've stayed in touch with - those with whom it would be difficult have maybe already fallen by the wayside? Hard to tell... But the passage of time has been somewhat more obvious in the last 24 hours. I was greeted at Dunbar station by my godson Morgan running towards me at full pelt for a big hug as he always used to; however he's now a big tall 6 year old and picking him up and swinging him round wasn't really an option any more - especially carrying a full backpack! Ruaridh is now just about the size Morgan was last time I'd seen them and they now have a little sister I'd never met before... so those of you who keep an eye on Flickr will no doubt be treated to numerous photos of them before long =)