Autumnal rambles around the Wairarapa

For the past four years, I’ve had an annual visit to my friend Emma’s in Featherston for a weekend of fun, food, junk-shopping and Nana-ish great times…we did it earlier than usual this year and it was entirely great.

We stopped in at cafes (Cuckoo, The French Bakery and Trocadero), many lovely shops, one pub (Cool Change, Martinborough), Emma took me to see a local-knowledge icon -The spooky abandoned house on the hill- which I didn’t get a photo of because there was a gang of tourists taking photographs of it and I didn’t want to join the tourist throng, even though I totally WAS one!

We also went to see the Wes Anderson film ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ which I experienced as PERFECT. Beautifully styled, superbly acted, and funny funny funny. I loved it! It’s definitely a film that cries out to be viewed on the big screen, and now I want to see it again, and soon.  The cinema in Masterton is wonderful,  a real step into the past. I thought Emma’s heart skirt went quite well with the cinema carpet…



1960s handbags on the wall at Cool Change:


I hovered for far too long around this suitcase of soulful old teddies in a junk shop, but given I’ve just sold off my vintage-toy collection on trademe….I tore myself away lest I ‘accidentally’ start a new one. I do love old toys, though, they are so characterful!


I had fun times spotting old fonts and signs:



I love the name of this pipe band ‘Fern and Thistle’ – I’m guessing the fern = New Zealand and the thistle = Scotland. I said to Emma, ‘Do you reckon The Fern and Thistle Piping Band is still going?’ and she said ‘Doubt it’ but she was wrong….a quick internet search revealed that it is! It’s ‘the Wairarapa’s only pipe band, established in 1958’ and not only is it still going…it has a facebook page! So there you go. I wonder if this sign was painted in 1958? The font of ‘secretary’ looks to be a 50s/60s font. (Font-nerd IN THE HOUSE.)

Are you old enough to remember four-digit phone numbers? I am!


There’s always pretty corners at Emma’s house. She got a big scratch on her hand picking this lichen-covered lemon-bough for the room I was sleeping in – now that’s friendship!


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I read many of the great magazines Emma bought home from her trip to Japan. Check out this bonnet shaped like a beef steak, and the perfection of the granny-chic picture below…

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You can read Emma’s take on the weekend HERE.

Last time I cam home from Emma’s I went down with pneumonia. This time the worst that happened was a bit of indigestion from eating too much delicious food. I had a grand old time and now feel very relaxed and inspired, Hoorah!



Hullo, you fullas.



(Because I can no longer buy fabulous coloured Roman Sandals due to the sad closure of the Douglas Sandals factory in Auckland, I buy black ones when I see them about and customise them. These ones I painted with silver glitter nailpolish for that ‘night sky on your feet’ feeling…)

A week and a bit of the school hols to go. So much is lovely about the hols and so much isn’t.

Lovely = unstructured time, time with the kids, summery goodness.

Unlovely = unstructured time, too much time with the kids, trying to work AND do full-time childcare.

I have already have a lot of my plate for 2014 and heaps of it is good, rich creative stuff. I have a very good feeling about this year.

We didn’t stray far this summer – just one week a little bit south. The weather has been unremittingly shit wherever we are, but ah well, it gives the summer that element of endurance which is always enlivening, right? It doesn’t stop us roaming outdoors, either. To be honest, F and I love the outdoors in wind, rain and cold. Fraser loves climbing mountains in sleet and snow. On Sunday I tool a long walk along the river in the sheeting rain. It was most stirring – even if I couldn’t see through my glasses because of the wet onslaught…..this tendency towards liking the wild weather must be the Danish/Scottish/German/Russian/Northern England residue in our respective bloods…

Here’s some stuff I have enjoyed around the internet lately:

Megan Scent-of-Water wrote a thoughtful post about what love means HERE

I just discovered the blog and vimeo channel of photographer Xanthe Berkeley – great if you need a bit of cheering up; colourful and celebratory HERE

There’s an excellent long interview with Penny Rimbaud of Crass HERE – revisiting Crass always takes me back to my punk roots and makes me feel all fired-up, like anything is possible…theirs is the best type of anarchism. Anarchism of creativity, collectivity and positive action.

If you like doing yoga at home, but can’t afford one of the subscriber-sites – yoga teacher David Procyshyn most generously posts excellent-quality full yoga classes for *free* on his vimeo channel. I use it a lot and can really recommend it HERE

I like this Brainpickings article about Brian Eno’s ‘Oblique Strategies’ for creativity and now I want to write my own….HERE

After a couple of years of having to push myself to keep my journal writing going, I have refound my zeal and inspiration (yay for post-burn-out life!) and am busily writing, painting, collaging, scribbling away….I’ve started a Pinterest board for journal inspiration HERE

I’m very excited about new Warpaint HERE ; new TV on the Radio HERE ; & new Ebony Bones HERE

Culture Unplugged is a great FREE documentary site – there’s all sorts of stuff about environmentalism, spirituality, left-politics & much more. I have watched a tonne of stuff on here. I especially love this film about a Zen cook ‘How to cook your life‘ – it’s a nice mix of food, spirituality, humour, emotional honesty…well worth a watch… HERE


Gosh, I have so much to talk/write about. Brain is brimming! But for today, hullo!

Happy not-so-new year. x x x

abandoned mattresses


I am op-shopping less  lately due to both budgetary constraints and a desire not to fill the house with more stuff, so I haven’t been photographing mattress textiles as much, however recently the mattresses came to me, as some neighbours moved out and left two on their front verge. (Where they then stayed for some weeks, until finally the real estate agent selling the house hauled them away. Isn’t it funny how people think if they leave something on the curb it suddenly counts as ‘rubbish’ and will magically disappear….?)

I love the painterly quality of the first mattress. Classic sixties.

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And the second one is interesting how it has a geometric design behind the floral.

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I think I’m slowly getting a reputation as the street’s dotty woman who a) walks up and down the road collecting all the leaves from the communal trees (I make leaf mold from them) with my wheelbarrow b) harvests the comfrey from the front garden of the student flats for fertiliser (I wouldn’t nick someone else’s comfrey if they were using it, but these folk aren’t & the plants regularly get run over by resident’s cars – maybe I should just dig them up and transplant them into my garden? When does ‘foraging’ turn into ‘theft’? I am not beyond nicking plants if I know they are destined for destruction c) grows vegetables in her front garden & along her drive and now d) takes photographs of trash.

I always loved the eccentric old ladies of my town when I was a kid. I think 40 is not too early to cultivate becoming one myself. Also, if I had a personal motto it would be something like ‘thrift before dignity!’ (Can anyone translate that into Latin for me?)

The Dahlia Fan Club takes a field trip…

A great thing about a fan club having just two members, is that it is easy to convene. (I think this is also why I am in a writing group of just three people.) Emma was in town on Sunday, so The Dahlia Fan Club took a stroll to the Victoria Esplanade to seek out the Dahlias dotted here and there, they are usually in top form at this time of year, however because of the drought we’ve been suffering here in the Manawatu, they weren’t up to their usual standard. Still, we spotted a few good ones.

We also looked at the Dugald McKenzie Rose Garden, and I took some photos there too, however looking through the photographs when I got home I surmised that dahlias are simply more photogenic. Each dahlia has it’s own character – whereas a rose is a rose is a rose…. 

This Dahlia thing is catching on – Emma’s friend sent her these photographs of Dahlia Cottage in Featherston. 

Cue gratuitous Dahlia photographs…darlias_5 darlias_4 darlias_3 darlias_2 darlias_1