My Favourite Window

December 21, 2013

Where on Earth? Revealed

Stonehenge indeed. 

Cro Magnon from Magnon's Meanderings guessed without conviction, that the scene below

could be the Gallops at Newmarket.  Geo over at Trainride of the Enigmas was much closer to the mark even though he lives in California: he guessed Silbury Hill in Wiltshire. So was there someone who knew for sure? I'm not sure that Steve of Bloggertropolis fame knew for sure, but he guessed right! He wins the hand-written letter - not because he bought me lunch in Royal Leamington Spa - but because his guess was spot on. Thanks all three entrants for having a go.

We happened to visit Stonehenge the week they were closing the A344 past Stonehenge. I couldn't quite believe that I had travelled in time, to a long-proposed event I had been vaguely aware of since visiting the site over twenty years ago. For more detailed and stunning shots of the roadworks in this remarkable setting, visit Mike Pitts' Digging Up the A344

In spite of the crowds of people there, I felt that the current layout and route around the stones allowed for clear viewing without the distraction of leaping camera hogs, or distracted cellphone users. The wide grassy sweep with seating also allowed for just sitting and contemplating away from the flow of people.  

I remember how excited Kitty was as we breasted that hill showing in my original photo - I was too busy watching the queue of traffic in front of me to realise we'd reached Stonehenge. She tried to show me, "Look at the Stones, look there they are."  All I could see were traffic cones and men in hi-vis vests. Of course she would have loved to get close to the sarsen and blue stones, 

but finding an Aubrey Hole marker, and being able to pick out the Avenue satisfied the budding archaeologist in Kitty. 
Stonehenge on that warm June evening was very hard to leave.

Meanwhile, here in Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden, the Summer Solstice arrives on a gale and I notice the rose petals swirling like snow flakes.

December 16, 2013

Summer Profusion

This really is a remarkable Canterbury summer. The maddening Nor' Wester hovers over the mountains but veers to a light Easterly; the sun warms the day but cloud cover takes the heat out of the afternoons; rain falls often enough to keep the grass green. And my wilderness of a garden loves it.  Roses such as 'Wee Sandra' and 'Bobbie James' scramble over my garage, or mingle in the boundary hedge with potato vine and kanuka.

A recent visitor identified the salmon coloured rose as 'Compassion.' It really has proved its worth here over the years, and cuttings strike easily. Good to know its name though I will always think of it as Dad's rose, since he planted the original specimen here about thirty years ago.

It is one of my favourite photographic subjects, whether as a bud frozen in ice, a heavenly profusion along the veranda or a single perfect bloom matched with our native kanuka in time for Christmas.

Roses aren't the only thing flowering along the veranda and not at all co-ordinating with salmon roses, is the magenta haze of rose campion, with a startlingly good spurge thrusting through. 

Meanwhile the deep red velvety blooms of Clematis 'Niobe' ramble happily through wild raspberry canes around a water tank, and a flax that has never bloomed in twenty years has thrust up dramatic flower spikes for the first time. Dyk over at Welly Jewell has also had a tardy flax bloom for the first time this year.

But the backbone of this garden is its trees. I've never noticed this pleasing spacing before, the wild plum, the coastal lacebark and overhanging bough of weeping willow, all different but somehow in scale with one another.

Not much 'gardening' goes on here these days but there is certainly a profusion of choice flowers, specimen trees and balanced spaces to inhabit.

Rosa 'Wee Sandra'
Rosa 'Bobbie James'
Rosa 'Compassion'
Potato vine  Solanum jasminoides
Kanuka, tea tree  Kunzea ericoides
Rose campion  Lychnis coronaria
Spurge  Euphorbia sp
Clematis 'Niobe'
Harakeke, red flax  Phormium tenax 'Purpurea'
Wild plum  Prunus cerasifera
Coastal lacebark, narrow-leafed lacebark  Hoheria angustifolia
Weeping willow  Salix babylonica

December 8, 2013

End of an Era

Ten years of Being draw to a close. Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti* grew from a visionary dream - grown out of need, shared goals and determination - to provide an alternative to mainstream schooling. Although the school's city site is now cleared land, the premises of its pre-cursor primary school, Discovery 1, are still visible at the top of an old, re-developed department store.

Both schools have been operating from sites outside of the central city since the Feb 2011 earthquake. Ministry of Education reforms announced earlier this year for Christchurch schools declared that the two schools would merge next year. Although the reforms have been unwelcome for many school communities, the merger of Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti with Discovery 1 is a desirable progression, with many children moving through both schools, and families carrying through the qualities and understanding developed at primary school level for the benefit of the secondary school. 

A large group of current and past pupils, staff and families gathered yesterday to mark ten year's of Unlimited's success as well as the end of its secondary school identity. We gathered under the big plane tree, which used to serve as an evacuation muster point for fire alarms and earthquake drills.

There were memories shared of great education ...

and the Earthquake itself.

There were speeches from students past and present, Board of Trustees representatives and the incoming Director of the new Area school. It was touching that Steven chose to speak as a past Learning Advisor (teacher) rather than as Director of a school that doesn't yet exist. 

There was a cake - cut by some of the Foundation Forty students: the school opened in 2003 with just 40 students.

A sprig of rosemary sat next to the cake, a poignant reminder of the loss of Life, that has threaded through the last ten years - too much of it tragic, though none from the great Earthquake. Remembering the deaths brought to mind the strength of this school community at dealing with loss; how the whole school marshals to support families through shock, funerals and grieving. 

And whenever we gather there is always kai. Food!

Listening to the speeches and informal conversation I noticed that although everyone had a personal story to tell, there was a strong sense of shared experience, and a layering over the years, of people with common goals.  I can't believe that as Bryony graduates from Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti in a few days time,

I am lucky to be able to move with Kitty into the exciting next phase of student lead education and participate as the new school, with a new name, moves back into a vibrant recovering city. 

*Paenga Tawhiti  can be translated as distant or boundless horizons.

December 3, 2013

Where on Earth?

Do you recognise this view?

Tell me what vantage point you think I have taken this photo from 
and one lucky reader will win ...

A hand-written letter in time for... well, probably not Christmas, but New Year. 
Yes, to anywhere on Earth, but you will have to be prepared to forward your physical address by way of my email address.

The place is well known globally, but the day I was there seemed to be particularly weighted with the grand schemes of Man. The time of day intensified the ancillary goings-on and made for distracting photo opportunities. Funny to notice how many sight-seers are distracted by their cell phones!

Leave a comment by 20th December to be in to win in Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden Christmas competition. A tip if you are having trouble leaving a comment, is to open another browser - if you are using Google Chrome, open Internet Explorer for instance. I now have my blog bookmarked on Internet Explorer (even though I prefer Chrome for speed) so that I can leave comments on blogs like 
Going Gently, Magnon' s Meanderings and Retro Pottery Net .