Sunday, 18 February 2018

Gunns bush and the song of the bellbird

A brief video from a walk at Gunns Bush reserve. The song of the bellbird is something I have been looking forward to hearing. There are none in the town of Oamaru.

Only penguins and other sea birds in abundance.

I walked alone and passed no-one in the 90 minutes that the track took to complete.

No phone reception.

No one knew where I was.

I lived dangerously for a while whilst walking for the first time in my life on a carpet of soft green moss.

Gunns bush reserve

mosses and ferns

moss carpeted path

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Wish you were here - down under in Christchurch and Oamaru

I am down under.

New Zealand South island.


For some summer in winter.

To do some work, and to see some more of this country that I love so much.

A place with space, big scenery, almost no litter and a civilised pace of work. Where it is not too hot and the days are long.

Meanwhile my other half (OH) is dripping quietly doing some of his own work in India.

I do not wish I were there, but I sometimes wish he were here. Sharing new places is always better than lone exploration.

Until I start work I am in a limbo state, getting to know a new town and its people.

So I have been doing a few days as a tourist, while recovering from my jet lag, and looking out for things that OH would enjoy.

First stop, Hong Kong airport, for a tasty treat.

duck tongue

Next a bit of curry in Christchurch ( pre-earthquake)

There is a feeling of slow regeneration in Christchurch. Much of the centre of the city was destroyed.

Below you can see all that remains of the cathedral. OH climbed the tower on a previous visit, only 2 weeks before it collapsed.

Christchurch cathedral

In the art gallery I thought he might like the installation on the bridge.

OH is one for the destination rather than the journey. We differ in that respect.

I found it quite amusing. I love a path in the woods, even in a gallery.....

I am sure he would have had something to say too,  about the 'yellow' exhibition; not being a big fan of abstract art.

He can't say its not yellow.


I sat and crocheted a few stitches to add to this work, until I realised that I don't really know how to crochet and the ladies around me were putting me to shame with their speed and dexterity.

Back outside....

this scene has cones for me and Guinness for him.

cones and Guiness

There are more cones in Christchurch than anywhere else I know, due to the rebuilding programme.

earthquake damaged facade

One day it will look like this....

Next stop, Oamaru. Steam punk capital of New Zealand. My new workplace, and home for the next eight weeks.

I feel lucky.

OH can't fail to like it.

It has boats in a harbour.

And bacon butties.

Not to mention sausages.

It also has chillies. No meal is complete without some.

And a canon.

History and food.

Everything OH could need.


Everybody loves penguins.

the beach where yellow eyed penguins live.

Even sea lions love penguins.

But you have to be patient as  they are mostly only seen at dusk.

Sea lions are very patient, as this one was ready in the viewing stand at mid day.

sea lion waiting for the penguins at Oamaru harbour penguin viewing stand

So now I am ready to start work, and look forward to exploring further over the next few weeks. I'll know where the best food is by the time OH gets here, and he'll be happy as Larry.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Back in the land of the beaver with some sled dogs in the Yukon

 trees felled by beavers

My other half (OH) tells me that I haven't written my blog for 4 weeks.

I blame it on winter viruses, Christmas, travel, lack of good wifi and the weather.

Mostly the weather.

Too nice to sit indoors and write. Outside the sun has been shining and the snow thick on the ground.

I am back in Canada to visit family, with a short trip to the Yukon thrown in for good measure.

Why the Yukon?

Because other half ( OH) wanted to go on a sled dog ride.

I was more than happy to go along with this plan, for nothing makes me happier than a cold wilderness environment and the chance for some photography.

The only problem here right now is that they are having a heat wave. It is up to 5C by day, which melts all the snow on the trees and makes for icy conditions. The winter wonderland is less wonderful without the icing on the trees, but spectacular all the same.

It should be around -24Cc or lower. Cold enough to need serious winter clothing. We had to put our gloves on for photos on the first day in order to look authentically cold.

Yukon scenery

Yukon pond

Yukon colours in winter
bumguts cache beside Annie lake
drilling through the ice on Annie Lake
ice hole for fishing 

The quiet is impressive here.... still enough to hear your own heart beat.

 stepping out on Annie Lake

Having seen some spectacular scenery, tested the thickness of the ice on the lake by drilling a hole, and eaten some delicious bison sausages cooked over a camp fire beside the river (thanks to the incredibly hospitable Werner from taste of yukon) we got to the serious business of the dog sled ride.

We were taken to Alayuk Adventures ; a dog sled centre near Whitehorse.

First impressions were not good..... there appeared to be blood on the ground, which later revealed itself  to be dog broth.

Before we could ride the dogs all needed to be harnessed up.

coaxing the dogs from their kennels

Some of the dogs needed a little coaxing out of their kennels.

Wilma waiting patiently

sled dog

sled dog with shoes

learning how to control the sled with foot controls

the kennels

The ride was exhilarating.

Through the woods where it was cold enough to see snow on all the branches, and across a small lake.

We were wearing so many clothes that photography was practically impossible during the ride.

I should have had a go-pro attached to my hat, but I don't possess one.

What they don't tell you before you start is that the dogs relieve themselves whilst running. The passenger in the sled gets a delightful odour and a full view of this activity, and the snow is littered with brown and yellow stains.

I made a really bad video with no sound, which gives a passenger's eye view of the ride. OH is in front of me; you can see his rear end.

We stopped for a brief rest, and the dogs played momentarily.

Some of the dogs have sensitive feet and wear socks to protect them against the cold and burns.

dog socks...waiting to go

dog socks after the run
After the run the dogs are given nutritious red broth.

time for dog broth

The owners of Alayuk train their dogs for the 1000 mile Iditarod race across Alaska. It takes 9 to 12 days to race a sled with up to 14 dogs under incredibly harsh conditions. A ton of dog food is shipped to the checkpoints in advance of the race.


This is a very different way of life for people passionate about animals and nature.

I have nothing but admiration for their determination and dedication to this harsh way of life.