Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Weekend bits and pieces...

Quick note to say hello again. All good here... spring is really trying to show it's face though yesterday and today I'm afraid that it got lost somewhere along the way. Definitely a little cold today and the October and November wind is starting to show it's face.

Saturday evening we went to Citron for what I can only describe as a wonderful meal. We arrived at 8pm and finished at 11:45pm... well I didn't know, I've never had a degustation menu before! It was by far one of the best meals (in a restaurant) I've had in a long long time and definitely the best since I got to NZ. I think what I was so impressed with was that out of all the courses I only got fish in one (so they didn't take the easy option), I got vegetarian cheese and I really felt that they had put as much effort and thought in to my courses as they had for a meat eaters. And not only that but my courses were not totally distinct from Dave's - they would share a sauce or idea. This place is not what you'd call cheap and cheerful but I'd have no hesitation in recommending Citron to anybody wanting something a little special. Wonderful :)

Saturday afternoon (why write in chronological order I ask you?) we visited the Botanic Gardens to see the tulips that I'd heard a number of people asking about. There were thousands of them about but I think what I really enjoyed was that we ended up just wandering photographing trees, wild flowers, and lots of other beautiful plants.


212 photos later I was feeling pretty tired.. and windswept :)
Feeling a little windswept...

Oh, we went to see Wall-E last night... it's a wonderfully cute and amusing, and sometimes sad movie. Clever (watch out for the "is it a fork or a spoon" bit), funny, and definitely moving. If you haven't seen it go see it!!! It's great :)

Okay that's it. Oh feeling very pleased as I had 56 views of my flickr photostream on the 28th.. and I've had two photos added as favourites in the last fortnight. As I've said plenty of times before, it's the little things in life...

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Look what I won... and other ramblings!

So a few days back Kathleen awarded me the following:

award-from_hootinanni.jpg

This is a Portugeuse aware meaning "This blog invests and believes in proximity". Kathleen and myself went to uni together in Scotland (she's Scottish and I ain't and neither of us currently live in Scotland). We didn't keep in touch much after we graduated but somehow or other (I'm not sure how) we got in touch a few years after I'd left. We exchanged maybe one or two emails a year and a Christmas card. But since I've discovered Kathleen's blog I've been able to use that to keep in touch much more as we now actively comment on each others activities and I get to hear about her husband Dave who we were both at uni with and the two kids. It's great :) I'll pass this aware on a little bit but I'm going to hang on to it for a week or two :)

I'm afraid I've been bad at keeping up to date recently; just haven't had the inclination I'm afraid. I had a superbly relaxing lazy weekend though not much in the way of photography (light wasn't great). Rewatched Sense & Sensibility on Mon evening and while nothing will ever beat P&P in my eyes, I do enjoy this movie a little bit more each time that I watch it :)

On Tues evening it was lovely and mild so I decided to drop some CDs and DVD back to the library (short walk) but took my camera with me. 1 hr and 50 photos later I got home! Taking photos at night is hard... I need to practice!
Bridge

I was climbing this evening - it never ceases to fascinate me that my warm up climb scares me the most. I always forget this but then am really quite nervous when I'm doing it. I reclimbed that "challenge" wall that you were getting weekly updates on a while back. It's the first time I've done it since I managed to complete and I didn't expect to complete it tonight... I nearly gave up at one point but decided to give it one more try and no hassle so pleased that I did. There's a wall I've been trying the last few weeks and I keep getting stuck on the same point... maybe I'll do better next week...

Work wise things are interesting if that's the word to use. I'll be taking on a new role in a few weeks (very different to what I've been doing - more varied, more autonomy, more responsibility etc etc etc) and have started attending a few meetings related to this. In some ways I'm looking forward to it and in others I'm worried... But I wanted to push myself and this is the perfect opportunity!!

Heading to Citron for dinner on Sat... really looking forward to this! We'll be having the 9 course degustation menu and when I was on the phone explaining that I was vegetarian I was blown away by their helpfulness... how do I feel about gelatine (ugh), free range -v- normal eggs, animal -v- plant rennet in cheeses... really fantastic. So stay tuned for the review :)

And on that merry little note I'm going to go get some food... getting peckish :)

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

So... the camera

So apart from cooking and eating tasty cupcakes from Tempt this weekend, we also headed out to Somes/Matui Island on Sunday for a few hours. We did spend a few hours out there last Jan or Feb I believe and have been intending to head back in ages. Our original plan was to bring a picnic out with us but I'm afraid that our lack of planning meant that we just grab some sambos in New World before getting the ferry across. But none of that mattered as it was a beautifully sunny day out there and I had my new camera to play with. But oh my Lord, there's so much to learn, understand and remember! There was much (and I mean ALOT) patient explaining of lighting, exposure, ISO sensitivity (set it myself or go with Auto), white balance etc etc etc but at the end of it all I think I managed to get one or two pics that I'm happy with. I've put up a few on flickr but here are a few as well...

I like this because with the compact I could do close up but I could never get it quite as sharp as it is here...


How could anybody not find this fuzzy little lamb adorable??
Hello?


Reflections

Back in Wellington I also couldn't resist playing with the shutter speed to freeze water... I'm easily amused :)
Water...

For those of you asked

Thanks to all of you (here and on LJ) who seemed so sure that dinner would turn out okay! It did. Well actually, it wasn't fantastic but it wasn't as bad as it could have been. I think one has to have a little more energy than I possessed that day to this meal properly (quite a bit of prep) and it needs to be served with some nice to stop that empty plate thing happening. Next time maybe I'll remember the tomatoes and manage to get dried chick peas and remember to not pulverise the veggies in the blender and I'll serve the whole lot with some nice green beans baked in garlic butter in the oven... yummy :)

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Dinner.

I don't have a good feeling about tonights dinner. At all. I'm a little worried. I've made (it's in the oven as I type) a vegetarian shepherds pie with goats cheese creamy mash. I've made this a number of times in the past though admittedly only when cooking for friends as it's little time consuming to make and there's a bit of washing up involved afterwards. But it's yummy. Ordinarily.

However firstly, my local supermarket has no black eyed beans. Yeah I know they're such an uncommon bean that they couldn't possibly stock them. It's bad enough that they have a small range of dried pulses but it was somewhat annoying to see they didn't even have them in a tin. Then no celeriac but that can be down seasonal and/or geographic reasons etc so I just replaced that with another vegetable.

Then not long after I got home I realised I'd forgotten to buy fresh tomatoes. The tomatoes are meant to be skinned (by me) and then layered on top of the vegetable/pulse mixture before the mash goes on top. I had plenty of time to get them but I was just too tired so I thought I could probably get away with it.

Then I think I was a little overly enthusiastic with my new cool red Kenwood kitchen appliance which is meant to be used to cut the vegetables very small. I don't think it's meant to be used to make a watery mush (the water coming from the obliterated vegetables). So em... well... here's hoping it's at least edible!!

But... at least there's nice cup cakes for dessert :) Photos to follow...
And here's the cup cake (or one of them at least!)...
Chocolate Cup Cake

Friday, 12 September 2008

A new camera

Today I splashed out and bought a Nikon D40 camera. I'm signed up for photography course which starts in a few weeks and I had intended on borrowing an SLR for the course as compacts not suitable. In my head I reckoned that I'd buy an SLR after the course though I have to admit that I was/am reluctant to spend alot of money on a camera. Anyway, it was pointed out to me last night that Wellington Photographic Supplies have a special offer on that includes the Nikon D40 (body and lens), 1Gb memory and a Lowepro camera bag for what can only be called a pretty good price. So, I decided I almost definitely wouldn't get something as good for that price after the course so I hot footed in there today (day off). And as my credit card was put through its paces I found out that the same store offers a free 2 hr lesson (in their larger city store)! So I'll follow their recommendation of playing with the camera for a week or two and then make appointment for the lesson so hopefully by the time I get doing my course I'll be able to do more than just turn the camera on and off :)

I thought about attaching a review of the Nikon D40 but decided against it you actually have to understand about photography and cameras and stuff (see how I like to stick to the technical terminology here?) to understand these thing (which I don't yet) so instead here are some flickr photos taken using a D40 (not that I expect mine to get to quite that quality but...)

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Gorillas and Chocolate...

I guess many of you are probably already familiar with this but every time I see it I stop and watch.. it's great :)

The Dark Knight...

We finally got to see The Dark Knight in The Embassy cinema last night. This is a beautiful cinema that was totally refurbished for the premiere of The Lord of the Rings. This is only the second time that I've been to see a movie here and though the seats were lovely and comfy I have to say that the volume was just too loud. This is a long movie and for the last half hour I was covering my right ear as it was all just too loud!

So the movie... I have to say that I really enjoyed the first part of it but it was just too long! There were a number of scenes that I just didn't see the point of, for example, the SWAT/hostage scene. And what was the point of Two Face? He appeared for last while and then disappeared again but I'm not sure what he contributed to the story! But on the good side I loved the first part of the movie and Heath Ledger was just fantastic as The Joker!! Freaky and all as his character was, he was great to watch!!

So, for anybody who enjoyed Batman then I'd say go watch it but be warned... it is a little on the long side so make sure you visit the bathroom before the movie starts :)

The Ladies

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

A day in the sun...

Well we had a fair bit of rain last week and we're having a fair bit of rain this week, but Sunday was a wonderful respite with no rain and lots of sun! As the sun had been forecast we decided on Fri evening that we'd get up early on Sunday and head out to Castlepoint.

Castlepoint is about 65km east of Masterton which itself is about, some bigger distance north of Wellington. Hey I'm no good with distance but I do know that we travelled about 400km on Sunday so... Have a look at this and you should be able to see Wellington bottom left with Masterton about three quarters way up in centre (follow Highway 2) and then Castlepoint out on the east coast.

On the way out there, not long after leaving Greytown we got some beautiful views of the snow topped Tararuas... I don't know if it took my breath away but I certainly thought it was quite stunning.

The Snowtopped Tararuas

Castlepoint has a lighthouse and beautiful craggy headlands where there was a lovely walk that we could do and once at the top it was totally isolated with no sound other than the sea and birds. I very much enjoyed just lying there basking in the sun... until I got cold :)

The Sky

So once I'd stopped looking at the sky we wandered over to the reef rock and then up to the lighthouse. All just lovely and definitely a much easier walk up to the lighthouse here than the one at Cape Palliser! And as ever, the wacky Kiwi need to hang something off fences or crosses or trees exists here as elsewhere...

Home of Lost Soles

Thursday, 4 September 2008

It'll be wet then...

"Wellington. Just rain all day and a high of 12"

This is literally what the radio broadcaster said earlier when giving the weather forecat for today. I think it's the use of the word "just" that I find so amusing :)

Ouch, ooh, eek...

That pretty much was the reaction that my feet got out of me this evening when I was attempting to climb and even when I was just belaying! The outcome was that I did one climb as my feet were totally misbehaving. We were wondering if it was because they had just got too cold with all the standing around in advance. The advance standing around was because it was the launch of the Wellington City Council Outdoor Festival for which which the tramping club is hosting a number of day walks. There were some nibbles (cheese, nuts, lots of dried fruit and fresh fruit... all quite yummy) and fruit juices, bit of a talk, nice canvas bag with some goodies and then free climbing. It would be great to see something like this in Dublin but I fear that the mentality is such that this would not work :( But I guess that just means I'll enjoy it as much as I can while I'm here :)