New Zealand

It is the depth of winter here in “Sunny Dunedin” so I thought a cheering picture might be appropriate. I’ve just returned from a job interview with NZ Post, which would provide me with some part time inside work to do until the end of the year. I’d be manning a window in a recently closed branch, handing out packages. Only three hours a day, but hey, it’s more regular than Postie work.
The Universe seems to be herding me slowly and steadily towards attempting the MSciComm Master’s program at the University of Otago. I have a source of funds, a couple of really interesting potential topics for a non-fiction book, and a job that will end Dec 31st, if I am offered the position for which I interviewed today.
Which is all good, because nothing is happening on the fiction-writing front. Rather than forcing myself to sit down and write when I am hating it, I’m just going to get back to blogging and other pursuits. Maybe I’ve said everything I want to say in a fiction capacity?

Moeraki Boulders08 11 21 Fleurs 2I can’t believe it’s  been a whole year since I wrote the entry on Larnach Castle, which was my 7th anniversary trip.  This year it was DH’s turn to plan the surprise, and he did a fantastic job.  We drove to the sleepy fishing village of Moeraki, about an hour north of Dunedin.  Moeraki is most famous for its very unworldly-looking collection of boulders, which I have visited a couple of times before.  But I had no idea that the town had so many other interesting things to see.


Like the Katiki Point lighthouse and wildlife refuge, where we saw four of the sweetest little baby furs seals.  FleursAnd Fleur’s Place, the world renowned seafood restaurant, where we had a fantastic dinner upstairs in the loft.  We also rode our bikes around the town, but it was too cold to stay out for long!

The next day we drove into Oamaru, and visited the historical district.  After a nice lunch at the Star and Garter, accompanied by live piano music, we strolled around the magnificently restored stone buildings and visited an artist’s cooperative.  We finished the day by walking a bit of Graves Track, which hugs the cliffs (sometimes scarily so) on the ocean side of Oamaru.

Down to the last three chapters, and this is the build-up to the finish.  Only I’m having doubts now, that my exciting action chapter is exciting enough.  It seemed so, when I was writng the chapter synopsis, like five months ago.  But now I am not so sure.  So I have to sit down and reevaluate the arc of the story, and maybe add in another battle…

I hate it when this happens.

Not  helped by the fact I’ve had the flu all week, and haven’t been able to do much of anything other than try to keep warm through some truly horrible weather.  Now in New Zealand, at least the part I live in, there is no such thing as central heating, so staying warm isn’t as trivial as it sounds.

At least it isn’t going to snow today…

Otago Harbor

I got some good writing done this weekend, despite the nice weather.  I also went for a bike ride along a path by the Otago Harbor, which was very pretty, but full of other cyclists, most of whom seemed to be under age 8.  Don’t get me wrong, I think it is awesome for little kids to be out getting exercise, but as a beginning bike rider myself, it is pretty scary having to dodge erratically weaving tots on bikes.  But it was a good learning experience for me.  Today I plan to take my bike on a longer ride, down on the Taieri plain, and it should be quiet.  I hope…

I am now about halfway through with Chapter 13 of Summermoon Fire.  I’m pretty happy with the story so far, but very few others have seen my efforts so it is difficult to know if I am proceeding on the right track.  I prefer to finish books before allowing them to be critiqued, mostly because of my habit of working backwards in some respects.  I like to salt the details of plot twists after I finish the main story, and that makes it difficult for anyone who looks at the book halfway to get a firm grip on the plot.

But already I’m thinking…

What comes next?

More on that in my next entry!

I spent Easter weekend at Purakaunui Bay, in glorious weather.  The campground was pretty full up, and the first night we were disturbed by some young men flying around the beach on a very loud motorcycle.  Rather inconsiderate.  The next day, after they left, we noted they had scattered their tent site with empty beer bottles and toilet paper.  Also inconsiderate.  I think I am becoming more and more curmudgeonly in my old age, because I can no longer identify with that sort of behavior at all.  But I probably used to do it, once upon a time.

We saw two young penguins hanging around in the long grass, waiting for an adult to come and feed them.  They looked perfectly capable of getting their own food.  I bet their parents will let them stew until they get hungry enough to hunt for themselves.  Probably some kind of lesson there.

Progress on the book is slow at the moment.  It’s school holidays again, and quiet time is almost non-existent.  But I’ve got to get some work done tomorrow!

“Having Fun at the Beach” is the name of a song by the Wiggles.  They, for those of you who live under rocks, are a quartet of Australian gentlemen who entertain the under-6 set.  They played a concert in Dunedin last week and I took my godchild.  It was an amazing, energy-filled concert, and I had a ball.

Just back from the Catlins, where we spent four days in glorious (for there anyhow) weather.  The ocean was still a little cold for my taste, but there were quite a few surfers in the water.

I did a little writing while I was there, but really the weather was so nice I just wanted to be outside.  Given the fact that the sun doesn’t set until about 10:15 PM at this time of year that makes for some pretty long days!

In the evenings I amused myself by making a cardboard model of a Viking ship.  It took a lot of cutting and gluing.  I have never tried anything like this before and I found it quite enjoyable, although I don’t think my results looked exactly like the picture in the book.  Next I have an Elizabethan warship to put together, and it will be even more difficult.

Curio Bay tree stumps

Curio Bay tree stumps

One day we drove further along the coast to a place called Curio Bay.  It is a natural rock shelf that the tide washes over, full of interesting tidal pools.  You can see the occasional yellow-eyed penguin.  But the most amazing thing is the petrified wood forest of stumps and fallen trees.  These were laid down during the Jurassic period, back when NZ was practically at the South Pole and part of Gondwanaland.  It is an amazing place.

I just finished week five of C25K.  The last run was twenty minutes in a row.  I did it!

The galleys for Heart of Hythea arrived while we were away this weekend, so I had a nice surprise waiting for me.  Hopefully the book will be out by Christmas.

We had a great time at the beach house on Purakaunui Bay, loads of sunny weather and some yummy salmon steaks for dinner.  I climbed about halfway up the cliffs on the other side of the bay, so I got plenty of exercise.

Just back from a weekend visit to the Bay, and we were blessed with nice weather, even though it is the dead of winter here.  We counted eight sea lions on the beach, all young males.  One had a number shaved on its belly, and it looked pretty strange.

Last time we visited, in mid-June, someone had broken the lock off the shed door.  But nothing had been disturbed, even the small generator we keep in there.  Perhaps the thief was only after wood.  Even though the bay is surrounded by forest it is very, very wet, so campers have to bring firewood with them.   Drunk people will often go to extreme lengths to keep a fire going.

This time we replaced the rusty sliding bolt with a brand-new stainless steel one.  I hope it will keep curious people out of the shed.  But really we have been lucky.  Though the house is very isolated we have not had problems with vandalism, only rats.

We walked out to Long Point, which is close to the southernmost point on the South Island.  The wind felt like it came straight from Antarctica!


What I am listening to: Verdi Arias/Dmitri Hvorostovsky

What I am reading: Thuvia, Maid of Mars/ E R Burroughs

add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: add to simpy :: seed the vine :: :: :: TailRank

Just back from an awesome mini-break with DH. It is our anniversary on Tuesday, so last Friday night (Friday the 13th, I know!) we spent the night on the grounds of a Castle. Larnach Castle is a stately home that belonged to an Australian banking magnate named John Larnach. It was built at the time Dunedin was really just a frontier outpost, and everything had to be brought by ship. But the house is quite luxurious, full of rococo plasterwork and amazing inlaid wood paneling. (more…)