Monday, February 11, 2019

______________________ RECORD TEMPERATURES _____________________

New Zealand is sweltering under record temperatures. Our son and grandson enjoy Northlands high temperatures at Ruakaka Beach.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

________________________ A MODERN PROPHET _______________________

Prophets are generally given a pretty hard time. The old testament prophets were either ignored, reviled, killed by stoning or worse. Lloyd Geering is a New Zealand Prophet who got off lightly, simply being tried for heresy (which he was acquitted of in 1967). 

The first book of his that I read in the early 1970s was Resurrection a Symbol of Hope. All his writings begin with this seminal work. Subsequently I  have read  'Tomorrows God'  in 1994, The World to Come (1996), Wrestling With God (2006) and this year his 2009 publication Coming Back To Earth.

The recurring theme of his books shines a bright light on the unfolding direction of western Christianity. His thesis basically comes down to this:

"The real future of the Judeo-Christian path of faith is a secular one. Far from being the enemy of Christianity, the truly secular life is the legitimate continuation of the Judeo-Chistian tradition. The traditional worship of God has widened into the celebration of life. Faith is a matter of saying "Yes" to life in all its planetary complexity. Even while shedding many of Christianity's past symbols and creedal formulations, the secular path still honors the abiding values it has learned from its Christian origins. Concerned as it is with the pursuit of truth, the practice of justice, and the nurture of compassion, freedom, and peace, the secular world is learning to live by faith, hope and love. Faith requires us to be free of all excess baggage. Hope requires us to be open to an ever evolving future. Love requires us to be inclusive of all people and all cultural traditions."
Sir Lloyd George Geering ONZ GNZM CBE (born 26 February 1918) turned 100 last year. He has a Doctor of Divinity degree from the University of Otago and a Masters degree in mathematics.
These are not the only books written by Lloyd Geering, just the ones I have read. I highly recommend his books to anyone looking for spiritual direction or simply another part to the existential jig-saw puzzle.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

____________________ QUAKE HIT ROAD SET TO OPEN __________________

In my blog post titled 'HEADED OFF AT THE PASS' here:  I posted about the closure of the Sumner - Lyttelton road due to severe damage from the 2011 Christchurch earthquake. Today in the morning newspaper I read some good news.

" A quake hit Christchurch road that has been closed for eight years is set to reopen next month. The critical road link between Sumner and Lyttelton over the Port Hills has been closed since the magnitude 6.3 February 22 2011 earthquake, which brought tonnes of rocks tumbling across it. But after years of work, a Christchurch City Council team and contractors say they are on track to have Sumner Road reopened to traffic at the end of March 2019".  - New Zealand Herald.

 Work on the road has included:

- Blasting and removing 100,000 cu m of rock.
- Building a 407 m long catch bench to intercept falling rocks.
- Building a 50m long, 7m high rock interception bund.
- Reinstating 2.6km of road.
- Replacing / resealing 16,700 sq m of road.
- Repairing / rebuilding 30 retaining walls, the biggest of which is 132m long and 7m high.

I am very pleased that this work will soon be completed. The view of the harbour from Evans Pass is one of my all time favourite views and the Sumner / Lyttelton road is the place of adventurous childhood memories. It looks like a journey south is in order in the next few months.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

____________________ ON NEW BRIGHTON BEACH ______________________

I recently shot this photo from the New Brighton Pier. Years ago I walked this part of the beach south of the pier many times. The most interesting walks were with my father. He would always make each of us a walking staff, trimming the ends of suitable long sturdy sticks with his large pocket knife.

I took these photographs with my Panasonic Lumix point and shoot camera. Although not perfect by any means I am always impressed by the depth of field that this simple camera produces with its little Leica zoom lens.  

Sunday, January 27, 2019

__________________________ THOMAS MERTON ________________________

I have just finished reading Thomas Mertons autobiography The Seven Storey Mountain. It is the story of one mans search for truth. The stunning thing about this particular tale is that it is told with such timeless immediacy that the words reach out and make this a story of every mans / womans identifiable spiritual journey in terms of the asking of the perennial existential questions of existence. Thomas Mertons quest ends, begins and develops with life as a Trappist Monk and as a voluminous writer of some considerable talent. The exposition of what he found along the way is told with an impressive visceral honesty and clarity. The rawness and emphatic opinions of this book are balanced by his more evenly considered and tempered subsequent writings e.g No Man is an Island, which show that his chosen path bought him insight and wisdom. I can highly recommend both of these books.

" Love alone can teach us to penetrate the hidden goodness of the things we know. Knowledge without love never enters into the inner secrets of being. Only love can truly know God as he is, for God is love." - Thomas Merton.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

___________________ THE BLUE SHORE OF SILENCE ____________________

Let us look for secret things 
somewhere in the world,
on the blue shore of silence,
or where the storm has passed 
rampaging like a train.
There the faint signs are left, 
coins of time and water, 
debris, celestial ash 
and the irreplaceable rapture 
of sharing in the labour
of solitude in the sand.

- Pablo Neruda

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

____________________ HEADED OFF AT THE PASS ______________________

This is the exact opposite view to the one I was looking for of Lyttelton Harbour on Banks Peninsula. In fact the close foreground in this shot is the horizon of the desired photograph. The view I wanted to shoot is from a position on the left hand side of this photo close to the horizon on the left hand arm of the harbour. Hold that thought.

Many years ago when I lived on the flat Canterbury plains my mode of transport was by bicycle. The range of my meanderings were wide and formidable (for the legs of a child). One of my favourite journeys was from our home close to New Brighton, around the estuary to Sumner and up the exhausting ride to Evans Pass. Nothing could be seen of the harbour until the very top of the ride. Then the panoramic view would suddenly explode into view. That view is majestic and I would sit on my bike and stare and stare for a long time, drinking in the fabulous view and looking out keenly for the sign of a sail.

Each time over the years when I have driven to this spot I am seized by the need to linger for a long, long time to survey the view and slake my memories of old experiences - like an eagle returning to a familiar nest high on the tops somewhere.

A month or so ago Christine and I returned to Christchurch for my Auntys 100th birthday and while staying in Sumner I felt a compulsion to drive the few kilometers up to Evans Pass to take in the view. We had already spent time staying in Akaroa and ranging widely around the beautiful bays and roads of the Peninsula. A last trip to Evans Pass would be a nice way of putting the cork back in the bottle before flying back north.

But I was not rewarded for my effort. At the top of the pass was a large fence with signs warning of grim death on the other side of the fence from both the terrain and council bylaws. Of course I took all this as any New Brighton bred boy does with a grain of salt and tried to squeeze through the locked gate and even eyed the possibility of climbing over the fence. But common sense and late middle aged rotundness sorted out that idea.  
So I parked the car and took a walk to look back down on Sumner from where I had come. While doing so these little friends came and looked at me sheepishly. I am sure they had a look of sympathy on their little faces. Not a word was said. Not a baa uttered. They knew that sometimes its best not to say anything as they communed with me in my disappointment. 

This video (above) shows the reason why the road was closed. It has been this way since the devastating Christchurch earthquakes a few years ago. If you view the video you can get a sense of the scale and beauty of the harbour that draws me back from time to time.

One positive note is that when I peered through the fence at the top of Evans Pass at the car park area I could see that a lot of repair work was being completed. Although I don't think the road from Evans Pass to the port of Lyttleton will be opened any time soon, hopefully access to the car park and the wonderful view will be available next time we visit.

Friday, January 18, 2019

_________________ GETTING THINGS INTO PERSPECTIVE ________________

Does size matter? Considering the amazing complexity of life that exists on our planet, small may well be the key to the evolution of life. Small, relatively speaking certainly works for Planet Earth. A concentration and distillation of cosmic stardust has created something beautiful on our planet for our human consciousness to contemplate. Lets look after it.

Monday, January 7, 2019


When I was about 12 years old Santa gave me a brand spanking new Brownie Starlet Camera. It arrived in a very bright yellow little box complete with an instruction manual. The only bit of kit that later eclipsed this object for value and use in my eyes was the purchase of my first 7 foot yacht.

I remember the moment of unwrapping that little camera so well. It was something that I had explicitly asked Santa for. I remember examining carefully the glistening little body of the camera with its vivid red shutter button and reading carefully the instruction manual. I always put the camera carefully back in its little yellow box after use. The camera took 125 film with 12 shoots on each roll of film. I still have many of the little black and white images that I shot with this simple little camera. I learned a great deal about photography over the many years I used this simple little device. Unfortunately this first camera has disappeared, I think I threw it out when it finally stopped working. The three subsequent cameras I have purchased all still work and remain in my possession.

The second camera I owned was when I purchased this beautiful Canon FT-QL 35mm SLR camera in my late teens. I was able to buy it duty free on my first trip overseas when I sailed into the Pacific on my first blue water sailing experience. I would buy a roll of 400 ASA 35mm 36 shot colour, or black and white film / slides to shoot my photos on. The camera had a standard 50mm lens which was quite adequate for the level of photography that I was involved in, although I could have done with a wide angle lens for shooting on board when sailing.

The back of the old Canon is a lot different from modern cameras with their ubiquitous LCD screens.

I went through a long period of not taking any photographs. Then the digital age launched itself like a tsunami upon our culture and it was all PCs, laptops followed by tablets and cellphones. I purchased this, the first of my 'point and shoot' cameras when we were off overseas for a holiday. It seemed like a good choice at the time being small and light weight - a great little camera for taking holiday shots that make others yawn and look at their watches when you ask "would you like to see my holiday snaps?". 

I remember in these early days of the digital revolution hearing a lot of talk about the coming "convergence" which has indeed come to pass. A modern smart phone is also a camera (stills and video), internet browser and GPS. It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if soon there will be a phone that also makes soup and mows the lawn.

This Lumix camera was the second of my 'point and shoot' camera purchases. I bought it because I required something waterproof for sailing photography, especially when the spray started flying.
According to the promotional blurbs this Panasonic camera is supposed to be water proof to 32 feet. But according to a number of reviews it is nothing of the sort and also has problems with corrosion, rubber seals and the misting up of the lens when these claims are put to the test.

But for my purposes it still remains a good little camera. I don't dive or swim with the camera. When I return from a day on the water I simply run it under fresh water to wash the salt off. To date I have had no problems.

I am now in the market for a new camera. Something along the lines of my old Canon FT-QL where I was able to control the shutter speed, ASA rating, depth of field etc. Modern cameras have a bucket load of controls that allow the photographer to use the camera in a dimension other than simply the narrative recording of passing events - this other use is something I would like to explore.

So the camera will probably be a compact mirrorless 35mm digital single lens camera - perhaps a full frame camera (which keeps the image size equivalence with my old Canon FT-QL), but only if the full frame camera is of a compact size. I would also like to have a few different lens, perhaps starting with a standard lens (50mm) and a wide angle lens - then adding other lens as required along the way.

Of course the perfect camera is similar to the perfect anything, that is, a contradiction in terms, but life is full of oxymorons.

Any recommendations and discussion is welcomed.

Saturday, December 29, 2018


 .............. and while I am here - A very Merry Christmas and a Happy 2019 to all readers of this somewhat eclectic, meandering and often infrequent Blog.

It happened like this. We approached my brother in law who is a retired professional painter and decorator and asked if he would be interested in earning some money by painting some rooms in our house. We would of course pay the going rate. He was interested but suggested a different plan. If I would fix his beloved little fishing boat he would do the work on our house. We agreed as it was a 'win - win' situation and a fair trade in terms of work time equivalence. Each party would pay for the materials required; we for our house; he and his wife for his boat.

The boat problem was this. Glen had added a 'false bottom' to his boat. This gave the boat extra free board, inbuilt buoyancy and stability. It also altered the boats underwater shape somewhat. But unfortunately he came to grief when applying (no pun intended) plywood around the bow sections. Plywood does not like complex curves and objects, especially in this situation because not enough frames were added to help with the curving and the plywood was added in large sheets rather than smaller strips or 'planks'. So the situation was that the boat had a somewhat hungry, sucked in cheeks look in the bows either side of the forward frame.

The only solution I could think of apart from filling the whole area in with huge amounts of 'bog' (filler), was to build up the hollow areas with plywood (laminated in strips and held down with temporary screws) then plane the plywood down, fairing the offending areas into the lines of the hull.

After two to three layers of plywood glued strategically followed by planing and sanding I completed the first part of the fairing.

The second part of the job was to use a thin layer of West System fairing compound, which when sanded finished off the fairing.

I completed the job by giving the area a coat of resin. 

Towards the stern there were a couple of other areas on each side of the hull where the plywood was suffering from the lack of frames. I faired this up with West System gluing / filleting compound. We will screw some matching runners along this area which will act as external stringers, strengthening the hull in this area where the hull sits on boat trailer rollers.

It took me seven days of hard work to complete the job. Glen did an excellent job on our house and an ancient system of bartering was exercised to the satisfaction of all concerned; and then quite suddenly it was Christmas Day!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

____________________ ACROBATS AND A SUNSET ______________________

Today as evening drew near I drove to be close to water and sky. It's something I do often. This time it was to Onerahi by the yacht club were I sail on a Tuesday night. I sat in the car and ate a Lemon and Paeroa ice block on a stick ( You may need to be a Kiwi to fully understand what that means) and watched a couple of New Zealand Oyster Catcher seabirds stand on one leg with their long bright red bills tucked into their feathers as they slept - an impressive piece of acrobatics.

Friday, November 30, 2018


Staying at Akaroa on Banks Peninsula for a few days last week provided us with a base for daily trips to the many bays that indent Banks Peninsula. We visited for the first time Le Bons Bay which is now one of my favourite places. It is beautiful and remote. A small settlement of houses are snugly contained close to a beach guarded by twin headlands that frame the Pacific Ocean to the east.

A small river to the south of the beach opens to the sea.

Quiet and tranquil on our visit, it would be interesting to see this beach when a winter storm comes rolling off the Pacific Ocean from the east.

Sand dunes and native grasses provide a buffer between the beach and the houses and farmland that lies to the west.

 A stand of pines trees (which are not native to New Zealand) guard the southern end of the beach.

 The small river that is open to the sea is flooded by salt water at high tide forming an inland estuary.

The housing is a mixture of smart looking new builds and older housing.

The ubiquitous southern penchant for planting thick shelter belts of Macrocarpa trees indicates something about the peninsulas weather.

The attraction of these bays that girdle Banks peninsula is their beautiful rugged individual character which is preserved to a large extent by their relative remoteness from the big city of Christchurch which lies about 65 miles (100km) to the northwest.

This is a place to enjoy the easy solitude. We'll be back.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

_________________________ AUNTY MOIRA ___________________________

Last week we flew to Christchurch to celebrate the one hundredth birthday of my Aunty Moira, my late mothers sister. There were cards and messages from HRH  Queen Elizabeth, Patsy Reddy the Governor General of New Zealand, the local member of parliament and family and friends. It was a very happy occasion and a great time to catch up with the Christchurch branch of the family.

Aunty Moira had always been 'as sharp as a tack' and it was great to see that attaining the age of 100 years had not changed this one iota. She immediately recognised me, called me by name and said how lovely it was to see Christine and I as we chatted away. It was certainly lovely to see her again and to see her surrounded by the love and good will of her immediate and extended family.

To live to 100 involves enduring the vicissitudes of existence in terms of mental and physical health, accidents and disease. In Aunty Moiras case the odds were compounded by the fact that she was a regular cigarette smoker well into her 70s!

Aunty Moira you defied the odds and lived a rich and fulfilling life through the years 1918 - 2018 and were witness to one of the most tumultuous centuries in human history - Happy Birthday.