Sunday, 27 February 2011


I have been writing this post in my head ever since Tuesday afternoon, when I felt my first earthquake, which devastated the lives of so many New Zealanders. It's not any easier when I try to actually get the words onto the computer.

Wellington is just under 200 miles away from Christchurch, but the top of our 12 storey office block swayed gently as though we were on a calm sea. Barely noticeable unless you were aware it was happening (several colleagues on the floor missed it), yet a couple of minutes later, a colleague said "The last time I felt the ground move like that was when Christchurch got hit in September." Then the news started rolling through - Twitter and Twitpics first, then the mainstream media. The realisation struck us all at about the same time; it was lunchtime, at the height of summer - the central business district would have been packed with office workers enjoying their lunches and tourists checking out the sights. We had been incredibly lucky with the timing of the September quake; this one was going to be far worse. (And then, looking at the later pictures of people's houses, collapsed, or with boulders and earth through them where the hillsides had disintegrated, and considering what could have happened if the quake had happened at night, and whole families sleeping in those rooms, makes the heart stop.)

The afternoon was difficult - I have colleagues with family in Christchurch, and we all have friends down there, as well as an office of colleagues. The phone lines were down, though some texts were getting through, and it was a tense time as we gradually found out that those we knew were alive and well. There are so many stories of escapes, as well as far too many of those who didn't get out.

The numbers are unimaginable for those of us who aren't there; as of today, 146 confirmed dead, an estimated 62,500 people without water, 100,000 have no sewerage services, and 30,000 homes are without power (Source - Stuff website). I don't know how many homes and buildings are destroyed; a Christchurch based friend has said that 25% will have to be pulled down.

It is just heartbreaking.

Sunday, 20 February 2011


I realised that it is nearly March, and I haven't yet shown off about my Christmas / January project :-)

A friend from the Phoenix Sci-Fi group pointed me towards the Extermiknit website, and it looked like a really fun toy to make. My knitting isn't, on the whole, hugely successful; to my name, I had one hat (which I do wear fairly solidly during the winter), a pair of gauntlet gloves which I knitted on the wrong size needles, and therefore have yet to be joined up (I have buttons to do so, just haven't yet got round to it), a cardigan which is the back and about half of one of the sides complete, and a shawl which needs a lot of tidying up before it is wearable. Plus four or five patterns which I haven't yet started!

And now, this:

It took me about 30 hours, all told, mainly in front of the TV (of course, watching Dr Who, but also rewatching my Planet Earth DVDs, which I adore) or listening to the radio and comedy CDs, and a chunk of that was learning how to make the bobbles (once I'd memorised the pattern for those, it got a lot faster). In fact, I learnt a lot of new techniques on this, including knitting on double pointed needles (I had attempted to do so on one hat, which didn't get past about three rounds, but that was because the wool I bought was completely unsuitable and kept on snapping), making the bobbles and making an I-Cord. My Stich 'n' Bitch and Knitters' Bible came out very frequently!

He is very cuddly (given that this is NZ, I managed to get some cheap washed wool for stuffing it with - no factory-made stuffing here!) and rather enjoys his lordly position on top of the book case. He's not perfect - I made a couple of interesting errors on the way round (including managing to twist the knitting at one point - but in the end that helped as I needed to add some extra stuffing after I'd closed him up - the twist made the ideal opening!), but I'm very proud of him. And, not counting the time, he cost me $2 for the wool (I bought a bulk lot for pretty much $1 each ball, including postage) and about $3.50 for the stuffing (again, that includes postage).


It is definitely the height of summer here - the scent of barbecues is in the air every evening, the gardens around us are a riot of colour, and the cicadas have hatched. We went all of a sudden from nothing to the almost deafening sound of cicadas in all the trees and bushes around us - they start up just as I'm heading to work, and keep going until the sun has gone down. After not being able to see any last year, this year they seem to have lost their shyness, and are clinging to anything which could be remotely seen as being tree-like. The neighbours' wooden fence was covered in them when they first hatched, and the telegraph poles still have a number clinging to them all the way up. One even came and investigated our washing (though it didn't like us peering at it, and flew away rather rapidly). They really are beautiful

The stick insect (well, I say 'the' - I don't know if it is the same one...) came back to the olive tree as well.

The garden is definitely being successful - I have dug up the onions, and pickled a whole load of them, the chillis are storming away (I have at least three different species growing at the moment), I have been eating tomatoes most days this week, the olives and lemons are growing, and even the fig is getting in on the action - there is one solitary fruit growing, but I'm not going to hold my breath, as I've got to this stage with figs before and they've always fallen off. I'm hoping that the warmer weather here will help it on its way!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Light posting...

I'm afraid that posting is going to be light over the next few weeks - work is getting incredibly busy, and all of the various clubs and societies are now back again after the summer break. So, usual apologies in advance.

We've got our new pieces for the April orchestra concert - we are playing Schubert's 6th Symphony, Ravel's Pavane pour une infante défunte and Mozart's Clarinet concerto. The oboes don't play anything in the Mozart, which is actually a good thing - both the Ravel and the Schubert are full of oboe solos, and the usual first oboe is going to be away for the concert, so I get to do them all by myself... I think I'm going to have to fit some time in for some heavy duty practice into the evening schedule! The pieces are lovely (or will be when we aren't sight-reading), so I'm really looking forward to getting my teeth into them.

I did get to take part in a fine Wellington custom this week - Wellington is known as the Windy city for a very good reason, and this week we had winds of over 100kph for a few days. Due to the way that the buildings are laid out, you can often find that the wind comes at you from multiple directions at once, which can be very interesting, to say the least. However, let someone who is not from the city, such as the Australian supplier who came over for a meeting last week, comment on the wind, and the response is usually along the lines, as both my colleague and myself said, at pretty much the same time, "This? It's just a light breeze..."