Saturday, August 23, 2014

Where I am heading...

Next April I am heading to Italy for a ten day walk from Assisi, on some trails associated with St Francis. The northernmost point that I'll walk to will be Gubbio. A Camino friend is currently walking south on the 'whole' St Francis trail that I'll just be walking a small part of, and the other day she posted some photos from Gubbio on her blog. (See the second half of her post.) I was very excited to see her photos- and have pinched one here for my blog...

Photo- taken by Janet, the happy wanderer
 Today I shouted myself a 'birthday present'- and got myself a new day-pack for the walk, with attachments to hold walking poles. (My old day-pack that had such things was stolen in a burglary two years ago- used to cart stuff away in -sigh.) I only need such a day-pack of course since I am getting my larger pack transported this time! It turned out that a very good local outdoor shop- one that carries good walking shoes large enough for my big feet- is closing down next week. They had 50% off most stock, and I got myself a day-pack I was very happy with, quite cheaply.

I have been using the Strava App when I go out walking, and used it when I walked downtown this morning. It was a pleasant discovery to find that even though I caught the bus home, I had still walked 4.7km to get downtown and then walk around a few shops. It might have been mostly flat, but I will still claim the kilometres- for a total of 19km on four short walks so far this week.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Two walkabouts

From parts of the city,  you can see last week's snow lying on the high parts of the Ruahines, but without wind it's been quite lovely weather here this weekend. So, I have been on two walkabouts (6.4km and 5.3km- thanks Strava!).

I've been reading a friend's blog, and she is on the northern end of the long version of the St Francis walk I'll be doing a little of next April. Her blog posts are full of beautiful, inspiring photos, but they also tell the tale of quite difficult walking. I am hopeful that my 'southern end' of the walk, nearer Assisi, won't be quite so strenuous, but meanwhile I feel it is time to begin upping my fitness as daylight lengthens, and spring starts to appear.

Both this weekend's walks started near the Manawatu River. On Saturday I parked near the bridge, then headed over into the Massey grounds, before spending some time in the Aboretum- one of the most unexpectedly peaceful little oases in the city.

Here's my route:

It is of course election season here, and the approach to the bridge is as full of election hoardings as ever:

I loved the shadow patterns as I crossed over the bridge...

I'm trying to 'invent' different variations on the city walkways so I keep my interest level high. Diverting off the Bledisloe walway through the Massey campus led to the discovery of a fern walk that I will explore another day soon. The sign for it alone was very inviting, and I caught sight of big pongas in the gully below.

Once I came back downhill, I sought out the Massey Aboretum. There is often hardly anyone walking here, and it is always a place with unexpected surprises and tranquility.

I kept coming across little signs that spring is imminent, like these fern fronds by the Turitea Stream.

As I arrived back on the Bledisloe Track I enjoyed seeing so much sunshine under these trees, in a place that I have often seen looking wintry and cold, and it was good to pass other walkers here enjoying it.

Today was my second walk, and after dancing around in the water for Aqua Zumba at the Lido, I headed around to the end of Dittmer Drive. I knew that a section of this walk had been widened and improved since I was last here.

I hadn't walked far before coming across a colleague coming back the other way- always nice to see her. A lot of the new section of track is quite open and exposed- would be hot walking on a warmer day. I loved the sight of these cabbage trees.

And not far from there, I saw another exciting sign of spring about to be sprung- a kowhai tree coming into bloom- a very NewZild sign of springtime...

And with those pleasant spring thoughts, it is time to bring the weekend to a close, and get ready for the new work week ahead...

Monday, August 04, 2014

Walking slideshow

Have put some of my walking photos on a short slideshow on YouTube. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Winter Afternoon Light

For some reason- perhaps because my present classroom has quite large windows- I've been very much aware this winter of how low the sun is in the mid-year sky. And this afternoon I went for a walk in the Esplanade and saw how that low-angled light was falling. The colours all seemed very vibrant today- maybe because of the very cool air we have had for several days.

Confession time first:- I have a new camera, that is supposed to be good at taking low light shots, so I was experimenting in the lounge yesterday evening... and yes, it does cope very well in low light.

 There were more beautiful magnolia blooms in the gardens today.

 By the Manawatu River it seemed to me that colours were especially bright and clear.

 Near the bridge are these historic flood protection groynes, and there are signs that describe some of the city's history with floods. The Manawatu River mostly seems quite gentle and harmless, but the 2004 floods showed us that is definitely not the case all of the time.

These large trees near the bridge are always impressive, whether they are bare or covered in leaves.

 Again it seemed to me that this sign stood out from the river in the background in a very vibrant way. I tend to go walking in the mornings but perhaps I need to check out the afternoon light more often!

 It was really only afternoon tea time when the sun was already slipping down behind the trees, leaving everything in a cooler shadow.

 These are the very same trees that less than three months ago were covered with autumn leaves.

 I am still working out how to use the macro setting. This new camera is very clever, and quite sophisticated, and I have to learn how to make it do what I want it to do in terms of depth of field.

And to finish, kawakawa, the NZ pepper tree, in flower.

Assisi Walk

Well... I have confirmed bookings for next Easter hols- travel via Shanghai and Zurich  (Air New Zealand and Swiss Air) to reach Rome on the evening of Good Friday- and will spend 10 days walking in the vicinity of Assisi. This is the walk I will go on:

Have set up a blog already… This time I will only be carrying a day pack and no sleeping bag required- much greater expense than my usual walking exploits, but handy when time is short and I don’t speak Italian.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Walkway Combo

After a lazy week I decided it was time for some decent exercise, on my Walkway "Combo" of the Palmerston North city walkways on the Massey side of town.

The distance was 9.7km according to Strava, and you can see I had a few decent bits of climbing.

I started by parking my car near the bridge, then walked across the Manawatu River. There'd been a few unexpected spits just before I left home, but fortunately the clouds were only threatening, and didn't lead to any real rain until well after I had finished walking.

There are a few pedestrian/cyclist underpasses along the route, and they've been painted with an interesting mix of designs. Only one has any signs of graffiti over it at present.

It mostly looked wintry along the way, but there were a few remnants of autumn to be seen. 

I love the little bridges that cross over the Turitea Stream. 

There's quite a bit of kawakawa- pepper tree- in the bush near the stream.

And where some branches had been cut near the track, it revealed this beautiful design inside.

After the flat start to the walk, there was a bit of climbing to do. I always try to show you how steep it is, but often fail to convey what hard work it truly is.... It's my aim in life to perfect my ability to convey steepness properly!

Once the first bit of climbing was done with, there were some good views of the hills and ranges in the distance- through these winter trees.

There were still a few signs of the colour of autumn around.

Although the pathways are not too far away from busy roads, it all feels very rural.

This little lake is always a favourite view. The skies looked quite dramatic overhead today.

Another little rural tidbit.

More drama in the skies, at the top of the walk near Pacific Drive, looking out towards the Ruahines.

Here's another attempt to show 'steepness'. 
This is on the route mostly downhill near Summerhill Drive, back towards the bridge.

Gorse in flower

From the track, in places you can see back to Summerhill Drive. Against this lamp post is a memorial to a former colleague, Jocelyn, who was killed while riding her cycle up the hill early one morning. So very sad.

Back down on the flat is this magnificent totara tree, in paddocks not far from the river.

It was a great walk and really woke up my muscles.  These walkways give a great opportunity for some hill climbing in a mostly flat city on the floodplains. Will have to do it again sometime!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Feilding Market Day

Today, in the middle of my holidays, I decided to head across to Feilding for the Friday market day.

The town was very busy, with lots of others having the same idea, but after a bit of driving around I found a parking space. This painting was on the back of the old building nearby, an unusual place for a bit of art like this.

I hadn't gone far before I noticed more murals on buildings. For some strange reason, I had never noticed them before, not that I visit Feilding very often. This one with the trompe d'oeil effect took my fancy.

Feilding has many signs of its Edwardian glory days, with architectural details on many buildings. My eye was taken by the 'shell' motif on this building, something I am used to noticing from my days walking on the Camino routes in France and Spain.

 This War Memorial is in a peaceful square...

 ...and not far away the Clocktower is surrounded by a modern traffic island.

 These lamps are in keeping with a lot of the older style of architecture in the town. I am not sure how 'original' they are- though perhaps they have been restored.

 The market is not huge, but it is friendly, and you can buy various locally made products. I bought some Rangitikei honey, and two different kinds of home-made soaps, and will take them south for a gift in a few weeks time. I also bought some marmalade for my breakfast, and chocolate chip cookies!

En route back to my car, I stopped off at the Feilding stock sales yards, which has its busy day on Fridays too. This shot shows the sheep yards. Behind me are all the cattle pens.