India – Varanasi

Last weekend I returned from just over two weeks in beautiful North India – what a magical, dusty, awe inspiring time. I met my cousin Shell in Delhi – almost the halfway point between our homes  – her flying in from New Zealand, and me flying from England. We chose to make life a bit easier and maximise opportunities with the limited time we were there, and took a tour with responsible travel operators, Intrepid. This was book-ended with a few days in Delhi either side!

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To get to Varanasi, we took an overnight train from Delhi. It was an interesting affair, with chai wallas calling up and down the carriages and my cousin (I’ll let you take this one on the chin, Shell) getting into a little war of dirty looks with one of our cabin-mates. A great experience nonetheless – I loved the fresh sheets, packaged in paper printed with the train timetable; and drawing the curtains to watch farmers and families get to work at dawn as we rolled towards Varanasi.

Varanasi - Assi Ghat varanasi-boat-buildingvaranasi-washingVaranasi sits on the river Ganges/Ganga, and is considered spiritual capital of India. Birth, life, death. It all happens here on the riverbank. Nothing stops, it just keeps going as it has done for thousands of years. It made me feel so small, with my ‘hectic lifestyle’, the pressing concerns of London life, and of course, the relentless worry about how well some Facebook posts are doing… Interestingly, Varanasi is the place where my phone decided to implode, perhaps due to the heat and dust, leaving me incommunicado from the world for the next two weeks.
Varanasi Ganges Space invaderVaranasi - big stepsOne of the many street dogs I met in India. This puppy and its two siblings were almost irresistible – I was very tempted to scoop them up (plus mama) and take them all home. varanasi-cycle-rickshaw varanasi-heroOne of the many utilitarian ‘Hero’ brand bicycles I saw on my journey. Note the double tube on the frame. This is intended for carrying heavy loads – such as milk pails in the morning, or gas cylinders, which are hooked on the frame.varanasi-cowvaranasi-thaliDelicious ‘special’ thali for ₹300. Plus free air conditioning – bonus! It was around 42°C each day we were there. Somehow it was survivable – perhaps because there was none of the overwhelming humidity that some cities have (I’m looking at you, Auckland). More photos from Delhi, Jaipur, Agra and the village of Tordi to come… Namaste.

St Patrick’s Day in London

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Another gloomy day, the pain of which was only eased by the presence of strong coffee and dim sum delicacies. We celebrated St Patrick’s day by listening to a pipe band in Leicester Square, taking shelter under strangers’ umbrellas. (Until this weekend I never knew there was an Irish, or uilleann, bagpipe – fancy that!)

Little & Friday

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Upturned swappa crates, bone handled knives, flaky mushroom & mozzarella galettes, strong coffee and a fire-engine red hippo. Little and Friday is a breath of fresh air in the form of a cafe for Auckland’s sleepy Belmont neighbourhood.

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I ended up here with Mon when we were on an op-shopping mission – it turns out it’s a mere eight houses away from where I grew up on Eversleigh Road. I would have never expected to find such a cool place nearby, but times/me, they are a changing. If you can, get your hands on the Little & Friday cookbook – it’s sumptuous and inspiring.

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Barbican, City of London

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The joys of forgotten film! It was a cold, but sunny spring day in 2012 when I took these pictures, not too dissimilar to today. This is the Barbican, my favourite place in London. From the concrete Brutalist architecture to the high walks of the estate, the sound-muffling lake and the velveteen belly of the performing arts centre, I love everything about it. It’s my dream to live there one day, fingers crossed we make a milli in the next year or so.

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If you’re ever in London, make sure the Barbican is on your list – whether that’s to see a film, visit the art gallery, or simply hang out next to the lake with a coffee and a good book. Don’t forget to visit the hidden conservatory, too. Built to disguise the theatre’s fly tower, it is home to over 2000 species of tropical plants and trees. That’s where I took the photo of a lonely heart…

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Headland – Waiheke Island

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One breathtakingly beautiful Sunday; Mon, Hank (her adorable Brussels Griffon) and I took a ferry to Waiheke Island.Only 35 minutes away from the city, Waiheke is a micro-paradise with a climate all of its own – making it perfect for vineyards and other grape related pursuits. That day, however, we were there to walk the Headland for Sculpture on the Gulf, a 2.5km walk over rolling hills and some of the most gorgeous scenery on the planet. Here are some photos I took:

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Temporary; a work by Delicia Sampero.

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Wildfire, by Sarah Brill.

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Sheep Track, by Gina Ferguson. I loved the physical experience of this one; walking over a raw,  knitted pathway, carefully considering the shape (and smell) of the new terrain.

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Christian Nicolson’s Look Darling it’s Tom and Nancy – this was one of my favourites, and one of the most humorous. Nothing says sculpture has to be serious!

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Sometimes I wonder why I’m going back to film (particularly while trudging up the hill to Angel in the bitter cold to get my rolls developed) . It doesn’t seem to enhance my photography skills at all. I suppose I like it for a different reason, the fact it lets me slow down, and luxuriate in the moment rather than snap-snap-snapping. Being forced to stop and think about what I’m looking at is definitely a pleasure, and I’m starting to savour the surprise of getting my photos back – all the control is long out of my hands.

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Everything is beautiful

I’ve been back in New Zealand for the last week and a half, and quite simply, it is stunning. The streets are absurdly wide and clean, the tarseal pavements are melting in the heat, and the sound of cicadas constantly throbs in the air.

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I went to Omaha, and dug my toes in the white sandy beach. I visited the village market too, stocking up on my favourite olive oil soap from the Matakana Valley. Then I headed north, to the Hokianga, with my sister and my mum, to spend a few nights with my beloved Gran. This is the view from her front yard, and her astounding spoon collection:

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Other than that I’ve been cruising around Auckland, catching up with dear friends and basking in the sun. There is slight change in the current cast, with a few new faces and a couple missing. But for the most part everything is the same. This is a sweet relief.

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Other than catching up, it’s been a whirl of op shops, art galleries, ferry rides, cold drinks at old haunts, and double lunches. A lot of 35mm has been shot too. 6 sleeps left, don’t make me leave the sunshine (Thom, please teleport here).

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Dreary, beautiful December

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Merry Christmas! I’m sitting next to a fire in a country house, in my pajamas, surrounded by a pile of presents and listening to rock-dinosaur Rod Stewart croon Christmas tunes. It’s lovely, but I felt like giving Code For Something a little love. December has been so busy! A whirlwind of drinks with friends, working my butt off, dealing with house drama… It’s nice to be sitting down.

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The weather this month has been all over the place, arctic earlier, but lately it’s been mild, around 10°C. Here are two photos I took walking to work; one day was cold and clear with ice on the canal, the next humid and rainy.

Festive treats

Festive treats, one from Secret Santa at work, the other a lemon curd and raspberry trifle – adapted from this recipe. Cheating with trifle is winning at life.

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Secret Swedish passwords, beer on the train home, a glass of Veuve and a sunset… I love that December’s festive spirit means it’s acceptable to drink booze at any time of the day. Mulled cherry beer is the tastiest thing ever invented!

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I’m now busy making plans for 2013, and dreaming up resolutions. Looking into the crystal ball it looks like there’s a lot of travel ahead… NYC or Istanbul at Easter? My mum is flying over in the summer and we’re heading to Italy with my aunts, which will be amazing. And of course flying back to New Zealand in 35 days (not that I’m counting, squeak).

Everything is going to be glorious! Hope all is well with you and yours in the world.