Category Archives: travel

A Vision
30.5 x 31.5 cm. March 2019  Coloured pencils

November 2nd 2018 – All Souls Day – Venice.

By now it is only drizzling.   I follow Alicia through the maze.  Relieved to have a daughter who understands Google Maps I become childlike – abdicating all responsibility.  We walk and exclaim at the architectural wonders to behold.  My eyes are saucers…

After a labyrinth of lanes filled with bright boutiques we emerge at a waterfront.  “What is that flood-lit church in the distance?”  Alicia doesn’t know either.  (It is our first evening here – we don’t know anything yet.)  I take fast photos as I keep moving – I don’t want to lose sight of Alicia.  I cannot name the church.  It is simply A Vision – a splendid mirage floating above milling figures.

Alicia – my trusty guide that evening.

A couple of days later I spend an hour deep in thought within a chapel of the domed church.  Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute and I are no longer strangers.

She was built to entreat the Virgin Mary to intercede on the City’s behalf to end the plague.  This particular epidemic was between 1630 and 1631, killing around 80, 000 people in the immediate region.  Baroque-styled La Salute was completed in 1681 and every year since the 17th century, on 21 November, city officials parade from San Marco to La Salute on the Feast of Presentation to the Virgin for a service of gratitude.

A serene and magnificent structure was created as a result of tragedy.

The Coast of Most

Wellington Cable Car

Home is where the heart is – and this past week I’ve been there.  Let me show you ‘my place’ – where I lived for the first eighteen years of my life (the formative years).

Zealandia Ecosanctuary in Karori

I grew up in Karori (the only bit of this post that isn’t on the coast).  Here we find Zealandia, an ecosanctuary where ornithologists are dedicated to studying and re-establishing native bird populations in the Wellington bush and suburbs.  What an inspirational area to visit – and I recommend you do.

A kaka sizes me up.

Matthew and I stay at Island Bay, one of the southern beaches.  The view is so different depending on the weather that throughout this post there are several photos of views from our lounge window.  The hills beyond are the eastern ranges of Pencarrow.  This is a pearl of a morning.  (We watch the planes coming in if it is a northerly and going out if it is a southerly.)

Island Bay calm morning (but cold!)

Several times per day the Interislander ferries sail past us commuting between North and South Islands.

Island Bay stroll.  (These must be locals because they are dressed as if it is warm – which it isn’t.)

The next beach along is Owhiro Bay.  The mountains in the distance are the Kaikoura mountains of the South Island.  They have fresh snow on them – gorgeous – due to a sudden southerly blast the previous day.

Owhiro Bay houses

Owhiro Bay life.

Kaikoura mountains, ferry and SPRAY!

Right in the heart of Wellington city is Oriental Bay.

Oriental Bay

Oriental Bay sky on a breezy afternoon.

Late afternoon lounge view.  The end of a sapphire day in Wellington.

The following morning the weather has changed.  Clouds and northerly gales are the order of the day.

Island Bay view from the lounge

We drive across the Rimutaka Range to Palliser Bay.  To call it windy is a gross understatement!

The coastline at remote and wild Lake Ferry.

Southern black-backed gull

White-fronted terns and black-backed gulls.

Matthew, flying cormorant and tern flock.

Wild windy sky over Lake Onoke.

Further around the coast (another 50 kms) is Ngawi where crayfish are caught.  Lack of a harbour means that bulldozers have to haul the fishing boats up onto the sand.  “A graveyard for bulldozers” is how it is described to me.

Ngawi

New Zealand fur seals live here.

“Hello”

Two friends.

Cape Palliser is the southern-most tip of the North Island.

We approach the lighthouse

250 steps – rather scary as they are so steep!

We make it to the top! And the wind is screaming!!!

On the drive home the northerly gales are so strong that rubber piping on the roof of our hire car actually peels off and starts to flap about!  We have to get out (hold onto the car) and pound it back in with our fists and finger tips.

Sky patterns on the drive back.

Back in the lounge at the end of the day.  (We had been on the other side of those far hills.)

By next morning the wind has changed back to southerly – so in our lounge view planes are taking off.

Southerly morning at Island Bay

A ferry pushes through the swell.

We drive over to Makara to see our dear friends Jenifer and George Welch (who used to own Makara Riding School where I spent as much of my teenage years as I could riding horses).  Jenifer and George give us a huge treat, a history and geography tour over the hills into Terawhiti Station, completely out of bounds to the general public.

Karori Rock lighthouse at Tongue Point.  Kaikouras in the distance.

The wild coast of Cape Terawhiti, and far away a ferry approaches (a distant white dot).

…the white dot has materialized into the ferry…crossing the Cook Strait.

Looking north, wind turbines on the skyline of Makara hills.  Mana and Kapiti Islands beyond.

Our dear friends, Jenifer and George with Tick, at their bach.

Later that afternoon, back in Island Bay…

On the move – cruise ship, plane and seagull.  (Our view again).

I hope the passengers remembered to take their seasick pills.

Finally it is our turn to fly out of Wellington.  We take off to the north.  Can you see our Air New Zealand shadow?

Flying over the bays

Goodbye Fair City – for now.

The Coast of Most what?  Most hills, cliffs, waves, spray, swells, seabirds, winds, rain, clouds, sun, planes, ships, inter-island ferries, rugged landscapes, distant mountains, seaside cafés with great views, friendly locals, narrow winding twisty roads, and constantly changing light.  And because Wellington is just a little bit seismic, what you see today might look different tomorrow.  You just never know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Remains of the Day

“The Remains of the Day”
Coloured pencils on Arches Aquarelle smooth. 36.5 x 30.8 cm. February 2019.

Venice: November 2018.  It is nearly 4 pm and the sun is already inclining westwards.  I am going west as well, back towards my apartment, plodding along happily worn out.  But then…a light bulb moment…

‘I know – what if I point my lens into the sun?’  It is poised above Punta della Dogana and Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute, shining directly into my eyes.  (I raise the camera, quickly compose and then close my eyes as I click, click, click.)  Voilà!

The air is all haze and halo, evaporating some objects while solidifying others (including people) into dark abstractions.  Sea mirrors sky; blazing here, sparkling there.  A seagull has swooped into my view.  Perfect.

There are probably only 90 minutes of daylight left.  I will be back sitting on my bed by 5 pm scrolling through photographic images.  ‘Here’s a good one.’

The two drawings from this day are bookends – starting with “Early One Morning” (07:50)  and finishing with “The Remains of the Day” (15:50).  Matthew (husband) came up with the titles – the first being a Celtic folk song and the second, a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro.

Early One Morning

“The Remains of the Day”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Room with a View

“A Room with a View”  –  coloured pencils, 31.5 x 28 cm.  January 2019

We have a room with a view!

On our first night in Venice I sit at the open window – looking, listening, still.  And then I reach for my camera.  Perhaps this view (this sentiment) can be captured in a drawing.  Shutter clicks follow.

Sounds of lapping water drift upward.   Distant voices from figures on the bridge float on the air, echoing between stone.  It has been raining; maybe it still is – [I can’t remember].  The buildings are lace silhouettes, their white lights reflect on black water.

(“E.M Forster, I’m borrowing your novel title for my drawing.  Is that OK with you?”) 

The following three nights I hardly glance outwards as I flit about the room.  I am already used to the view – desensitized.  Isn’t that a peculiar thing about human nature…

 

 

Early One Morning

“Early One Morning”
35 x 28 cm in coloured pencils.  January 2019

Early one morning just nine Saturdays ago I set out from my vacation rental into the maze of lanes outside.  “I won’t go far”, I called to daughter, Alicia, who was still in bed.  My plan was to orientate myself within a small radius from the apartment, in our sestiere, Cannaregio.

We had arrived in Venice the previous afternoon in rain.  The forecast for our entire four-day stay was rain.  Indeed in the night it had drummed down steadily.  I had woken early to the plaintive call of seagulls.  When I roused myself to the window the sky was blue and the moon sharp.  So I quickly dressed and rushed out. Who wouldn’t?

First I took a photo of our building’s entrance so that I’d be able to recognize it again.  The distinguishing feature was “hooligan” scrawled in graffiti.  Noted.  Senses erect I took a few steps this way (into Campo SS Giovanni e Paolo) then that way (to Fondamenta Nuove – the vaporetto stop).

Before I knew it I was OUT AND ABOUT in Venice.  Wow!  What an achievement, what joy!  The low winter sun illuminated all it touched.  Stone and water glowed.  Hardly anyone was around, the time being before 07:00.

I took the brave (for me) decision not to retrace my steps.  Instead I pushed on, map in one hand, camera in the other, past Santa Maria Assunta dei Gesuiti.  In tiny lanes between canals I witnessed light, shadow, water and movement.

I would do a loop back to our apartment.  En route I took the photo which became my reference for “Early One Morning”.  Where was I?  On Rio Terrà di Franceschi detta la Botesela.  (The name is longer than the thoroughfare!)

Was the pooled water a remnant from the just-finished high tide or was it from the night’s rain?  I don’t know but it looked perfect in its Venetian context.  Sunshine bathed upper walls of buildings.  It couldn’t reach lower – the result being an almost spiritual vertical ascension from deep shadow to radiant light.

Early one morning just as the sun was rising...” in Venice –  Serenissimo – Most Serene.

(And I found my way home.)

 

Let Your Heart Speak

How to get to the island of Burano from Venice – arise early.  Alicia and I are two of only four passengers aboard the 07:10 vaporetto on a bright Sunday in November 2018.

The ferry skits past Murano.  Venice is framed in the distance.

Here we are in Burano, an artist’s paradise of multi-coloured dwellings.  And we seem to be almost the only people up.

We immerse ourselves in the joy of colour.  We become part of the colour.

Like the other islands in the lagoon, Burano has a network of canals.

At first the water remains inside them.

But then –

Look at this!!!

The tide is coming in.  Even the town square is morphing into a lake as water pops up through holes.  The locals are laughing at me as I exclaim madly and photograph their morning coffee turning wet.  They’re perfectly used to it.

Raised platforms are erected, ready for the spread of water.

A nonchalant local goes about his day as usual…

…while a tourist improvises…

I am overwhelmed by the almost silent beauty of the changing landscape.  A little lapping sound perhaps…and a breeze.

Alicia and I continue our walk and our photography.

(Let there be light)

We wander across a pedestrian bridge to Mazzorbo, a tiny piece of land adjoining Burano.  There is a market garden/vineyard which is open to wander through.  In the garden is a sign which reads, “Let your heart speak“.  This is a message to the school children of Burano who are invited to partake in the creativity of the garden.  I am touched, and write it down so I don’t forget.

We peek inside the 13th century Chiesa di Santa Caterina, then pay our respects to those who reside in her graveyard.   This is a view back to Burano through chrysanthemums outside the cemetery.

By the time we meander back to Burano the tide has receded.  Wet pathways glisten.  Any remaining water has been pushed back into the canals by brisk brooms.

The tourists have arrived.  Shops are open.  The town begins its Sunday trade.  Alicia spends time in the lace museum while I walk and photograph.  (The dog comes over to say hello and gets a warm reception from me.)

The cat (typically) ignores me.

Colours, colours, colours!!!

I discover that Burano has its very own leaning bell tower (17th century).

And finally I return to Alicia back at the designated meeting place.  I manage to capture her while she is unaware of me.

Thank you Burano.  This morning excursion is one of the highlights of our Italian trip.  It is nothing short of a magical mystery tour…a mother-and-daughter special!

Let us all endeavour to take the message in the Mazzorbo garden into 2019 – and beyond.  Happy New Year!  Let your heart speak.

 

 

Enchanted Venice

It’s true.  Venice is a tourist trap.  It is groaning under the weight of people as much as it is soaked by increasing washes of acqua alta.  It is claustrophobic and impossible not to get thoroughly lost…continuously!  When the tides are very high the waterbuses (vaporetto) stop running leaving one stranded.  It is wet, wet, wet.  Who would go there?  Who, having been, would ever want to go back?

(After five days I said to my traveling companions, “I don’t think I’ll ever come back here”.  They nodded in agreement.)

It’s a lie!  I don’t mean what I said about not wanting to go back.

The enchanted city has caught me. In the few weeks since I was there its spell has been intensifying, working its way into my emotional landscape as surely as an incoming tide.

Venice – wait for me!  I will surely return.

Venetian selfie