Week 35 – #4 – Architecture

A4 Architecture res

A4 Architecture-res

I visited the town of Napier, New Zealand which is north of Wellington, the capital.  The town suffered a devastating earthquake during the height of the Art Deco period, February 3, 1931. The collapses of buildings and the ensuing fires killed 256 people. The centre of the town was destroyed by the earthquake.  And they decided to rebuild the town in that style.  
Art Deco
  or Deco, is an influential visual arts design style which first appeared in France after WWI, flourishing internationally in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s before its popularity waned after WWII. It is an eclectic style that combines traditional  craft motifs with Machine Age imagery and materials. The style is often characterized by rich colors, bold Geometric shapes, and lavish ornamentation.

Deco emerged from the Interwar period when rapid industrialization was transforming culture. One of its major attributes is an embrace of technology. This distinguishes Deco from the organic motifs favored by its predecessor Art Nouveau.

During its heyday, Art Deco represented luxury, glamour, exuberance, and faith in social and technological progress.

Although a few Art Deco buildings were replaced with contemporary structures during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, most of the centre remained intact for long enough to become recognised as architecturally important, and beginning in the 1990s it had been protected and restored. Napier and the area of South Beach, Miami, Florida, are considered to be the two best-preserved Art Deco towns.

As you can see, they really get into it – in their dress and cars, too.  They even have a holiday and most of the town folk dress up in period clothes.  We arrived just a day prior to that event, but we did see some people already getting prepared.

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Week 34 – # a3 Saw on vacation

a3 Saw on Vacation-2 a3 Saw on VacationI thought I would share two photos of the Yellow-eyed Penguin.  During my New Zealand cruise, I selected an excursion out to see these Penguins on a farm near Dunedin.  Let me explain, the penguins are not kept on the farm.  The farmer has learned that these little penguins need shade and is working with other farmers to plant trees back on their farms.   These penguins do not travel to antarctica but they burrow into the hillside, needing the trees for shade to help them keep cool.  These two adults had just returned from feeding out to sea and have full stomachs.  They are getting ready to start the molt and need all their energy as each and every feather will be replaced.  They come out of the surf and then climb up the hill towards their burrows.  At times, they become exhausted and just stop where they are, falling down and sleeping or just standing there until they recover enough to get to their burrow. I also was able to see a juvenile who was now old enough that its parents could go back out to sea to feed.  It was standing in the burrow, just waiting for their returna3 Saw on Vacation-3.   They are an anti-social penguin, in that they may come out of the surf with other penguins but they then separate each going their own way.  They will not nest if they can see another penguin.

These penguins are shorter than the penguins we are used to seeing in our zoos and penguin encounters.  These only get to 25 inches tall.  There are no yellow-eyed penguins in captivity.

The population of yellow-eyed penguins is estimated to be around 2,000 breeding pairs and is centred on the sub-antarctic Auckland and Campbell Islands, however around 500 pairs breed on New Zealand’s South Island and another 150 pairs on and around Stewart Island.

The excursion to this particular farmer – he has dug trenches out so that we (people) can go out and see the penguins in their own habitat without disturbing them.  With us being in the trench and boards that go above our heads but with a 6 in slit opening for us to see and our camera lenses to peer through.  With that, the penguins do mind us, as long as we are quiet and keep our fingers and lenses inside the trench.

The Penguin Place conservation project is a private effort founded in 1985 by Howard McGrouther when he had just eight breeding pairs on the property.  To find out more – please go to – http://www.penguinplace.co.nz/conservation-project/



Week 33 – # A2 – Family

a2 family-5A Family  of  Baby Great Horned  Owls – these three chicks are just about to fledge.  Mom or Dad were off in some tree.  I was hoping to get them in the photo as well, but they were not cooperating.  But the youngsters were hopping around and trying out their wings.  The incubation period ranges from 28 to 37 days, averaging 33  days. Young owls move onto nearby branches at 6 weeks and start to fly about a week later. However, the young are not usually competent fliers until they are about 10 to 12 weeks old.
Since the photographers around have said they had not as yet flown more than to an outside branch on the same tree, they are probably right around the 6 week age.

a2 family-4a2 family This last photo was taken just as the sun was starting to set sending an orange glow towards the owls.

A big thank you to Bob Bolcik for telling me about these little guys at the George Lepp lecture.

Week 32 – #33 Over the Hill

33 - Over the Hill-2

33 - Over the HillOver the Hill on the road into the Shire, a welcome sight to someone who loves the Lord of the Rings.  I entered into Hobbiton, the home of the Hobbiton Movie Set where The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies were filmed.

Welcome to the Alexanders’ 1250 acre sheep and beef farm just outside of Matamata.  In 1998 Sir Peter Jackson discovered the Alexander farm during an aerial search.  Site construction began in 1999.  Initially this involved heavy earth moving machinery provided by the New Zealand Army who built a 1.5 Km road into the site and under took the beginning of the set development.

Forty four Hobbit holes were created.  The oak tree that overlooks Bag End was cut down and transported in from near Matamata.  Each branch was numbered and chopped, then transported and bolted together on top of Bag End (weighing 26 ton).  Artificial leaves were brought in from Taiwan and individually wired onto the tree.  The Mill and double arch bridge were built out of temporary materials .  Thatch roofs of the Green Dragon Inn and the Mill were cut from the rushes around the farm.

When the filming for Lord of the Rings was completed, the set was to be torn down, but weather prevented that from being completed.  The equipment was too heavy for the rain soaked roads.  Then the decision to do The Hobbit, and everything was rebuilt but this time out of permanent materials including an artificial tree out of steel and silicon.  The reconstruction took two years.  Today, the set is maintained to keep the magic of The Shire alive.  The Alexanders still have the active sheep and beef farm around the movie set.  It is still farmed the same today and is run by the brothers and their father.

The property runs approximately 13,000 sheep and 300 Angus beef cattle hence the major sources of income are mutton, wool and beef. The brothers shear all the sheep on the property themselves, approximately every eight months.

Peter Jackson’s children appeared as hobbit children in Fellowship of the Ring.

I have only included two shots of the hill where Bags End and Bilbo’s Hole was, taken from the field where the dragon swooped down on the hobbits and from across The Water, from outside the Green Dragon Inn.  Yes, I have photos of most if not all of the hobbit holes, and Dragon Inn and the Mill and double arched bridge.  Each hobbit hole has its own special design for the plants and front garden.  We spent time outside of Sam Gamgee’s hole and I tried to get that one from multiple angles.  Most of the hobbit doors are set at a 60% of life size.  There was at least one door that was real sized so all but Gandalf would look appropriate when they came near the door.

Now this blog cannot handle me putting all the photos of the whole area in it, so –  if you ever get the chance – GO!!  As much as I lived in Southern California and saw how they make the films around work and my home, and  have seen Universal Studios a number of times, this felt more real than any Hollywood set I had seen before.  While you cannot go into the hobbit holes,  The Green Dragon Inn is a full sized.  Here is one of the fireplaces inside – everything is round – like hobbit holes. 33 - Over the Hill-3

We were served a choice of light or dark ale, hard cider, or ginger beer and second breakfast treats at the Green Dragon Inn.

So over hill and dale – I would travel to spend time here.

” Do you remember the Shire, Mr. Frodo? It’ll be spring soon. And the orchards will be in blossom. And the birds will be nesting in the hazel thicket. And they’ll be sowing the summer barley in the lower fields… and eating the first of the strawberries with cream.” – Sam Gamgee from Return of the King.


Week 31 – #21 In the Clouds

21 - In the Clouds-2

The theme “In the Clouds”, gives us lots of room to play with in determining what to photograph.  I had been waiting to see cloud animals (from my youth), or something flying, but when I was provided this opportunity of a fog bank that hung around New Zealand when we entered the harbour for Akaroa, I could not resist.  You can see the bank on the water behind us as we docked.  It was more like a wall than fog that I am used to seeing that would have spread out across the water.

The Fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
by Carl Sandberg

21 - In the Clouds

As we traveled around the area, the fog lifted some.  As you can see it threaded itself around the landscape hugging the ridge line.  I was not sure why it selected to wind itself around this particular ridge but I loved the effect.

Clouds can form at many different altitudes.  They can be as high as 12 miles above the sea level or as low as the ground.  Fog is a kind of cloud that touches the ground.  Fog forms when the air near the ground cools enough to turn its water vapor into liquid water or ice.

The in the clouds – was us for part of the day and when we left Akaroa, we sailed into that cloud or fog bank.

Week 30 – #37 Rainy Day

Well since some of you saw a post that was supposed to go to my travel blog and Word Press was “nice enough” to post it in the 52 week photo challenge instead, you know I was just “down under” in Sydney, Australia.  For those who did not see it, I am only sort of sorry since it was not meant for here, I have deleted it from this blog.  Be aware that posting from your IPad can have unintended consequences, as I found out.

All that being said, on with this post.  Yes, I just returned from a trip to New Zealand and Australia.  Weather for the most part was wonderful.  We had a couple of days of rain, the afternoon I arrived in Auckland, New Zealand and then it seemed to concentrate on Sydney while I was there.  This was not the same storm that prevented our ship from going to the one place I wanted to go – Fiordland National Park, New Zealand, but just a front that was working its way through Sydney.

Now, what is the one thing you associate with Sydney, Australia?  The Opera House.  I was fortunate to get a hotel room in the Sydney Harbor Marriott that had overlooks of both the Sydney Harbor Bridge and the Opera House.  Not both from the same room, unless you booked the penthouse suite I am sure.

So with the weather being what it was wanting to be, at least we had a view that I could not complain about regardless of the weather.

37 - Rainy Day

This was the view from Circular Quay which is an area with lots of cafes and shops right on the harbor, next to The Rocks, another area with lots of shops.  As you can see we are about to get wet.

37 - Rainy Day-2This is the view from the room.  I did not have to add the water droplets to the window – they were all too real.  Now technically this is not Sydney Harbour itself  but Sydney Cove.

It was really too bad, because the rain limited my ability to see more of the area. I did ride the Hop On Hop Off Bus and toured the city, getting off and walking from Queen Victoria Station and through Hyde Park and the Royal Botanical Garden (all in the rain). I did not get to see Bondi Beach, nor did I make the trip out to the Blue Mountains.