Selling out

Getting all our stuff meant we had too much for our house to hold. It’s a time to give up on some old hobbies and projects, redecorate, and generally Marie Kondo ourselves.

Here’s some of the things we’ve said goodbye to in the last couple of weeks…

There’s still more to go, if for no other reason than to make room for the next adventures!

Sunday morning

The water was as flat and clear as being in the pool. I was the slowest in our lockdown mini-bubble of five swimmers. But no shame in that… they’re all faster than me! For instance… the guy in the red plaid shirt there holds the world record time for his combined marathon swims across Lake Taupo, the Cook Strait and the Foveaux Strait. I’m easily starstruck… did I mention my neighbour was in the Olympics??

Stuff and Nonsense

Friday a week ago this happened. All our remaining stuff from the USA arrived at our doorstep. No idea why the truck was labeled but it did seem kinda portentous.

Here’s the before…


… more during…

… more during…

And now mostly after. There was shockingly little damage. We now have two or more of a lot of things, and the yard sale equivalent is on. More on that in another post.

It’s great to be all in one place!

But mommy I’m hungry!

You learn in school about how momma birds feed their chicks by regurgitating food for them.

But somehow the little sparrow pictures I had in my head didn’t do justice to the violence of the whole thing we saw the other day. These baby pied shags are nearly as big as their parents, but not ready to leave the nest yet. They squeak urgently and undulate their heads while mom works to bring up the next course… we could see the muscles in her throat working.

And then she opens her mouth and one of the chicks dives in , shoving its entire head in to root around in mom’s throat while she just sort of goes limp.

Get off my lawn!

There’s a spot in the park down the road where people feel the need to get off the road and spin their tires in the grass. The other day we saw one of these yahoos and reported him to the police. I’m that guy now, a grumpy old man shaking my fist at those Dukes of Hazzard boys.


Sarah-Jane's outing at Takapuna Beach turned out to be more than she bargained for. Photo / GirlsGetOutthereNZ

That’s not actually my picture, it was taken a couple of years ago by someone else ( But… on today’s morning swim in almost exactly that same place, we got treated to the treat of a pod of dolphins swimming by! And we were alerted to them by a paddleboarder who was closer than we were… sort of like this… so it’s very representative of what happened to me.

I’ve only been in the water close to dolphins once before, diving in St. Croix. I’ve seen them from boats several times. Each encounter, even as fleeting as today’s was, is mesmerizing.

Sorry State of our Sporting Goods Industry

To the Editor,

I’m writing today to express my frustration and disappointment in the poor quality of products emanating from our Sporting Goods Industry.

Following Auckland’s five weeks of Level 4 lockdown, I was eager to celebrate this morning’s change to Level 3 with a short swim at my local beach. But much to my dismay, when I went to put on my swimming costume and wetsuit, I discovered that the fibres in both garments had contracted due to their being unused for these past weeks. Due to this poor quality, my swimming gear was uncomfortably tight, which negatively affected my enjoyment of a normally beloved actvity.

It’s a terrible commentary on our manufacturers, and these are all name-brand, expensive pieces of kit I hasten to add, that they would use materials prone to shrinkage like this after only a few weeks in storage. And I can see that this is just sloppiness on their part, because while the shrinkage was pronounced around the waist and hips, the wetsuit still fit well in the chest and shoulders… perhaps even a little looser than before lockdown.

As a direct result of the discomfort caused by these manufacturing deficiencies, my pace in the water was also negatively affected. Over a familiar course in benign conditions, I was several minutes slower in this ill-fitting gear than I had been before lockdown.

I ask you, Editor, to launch an investigation into the potentially fraudulent advertising employed by these brands, or at least their failure to disclose the uneven shrinkage of these expensive products when they aren’t constantly used. I myself may be contacting the Consumer Goods Agency to further voice my concerns.

In closing, I heartily support the concerns expressed in your newspaper yesterday by a member of the public who seems to have uncovered a pervasive defect in Bathroom Scales during this same lockdown period when so many of the public are already under stress.


A Concerned Consumer

Onepoto Bridge and environs

For today’s walk we decided to trek all the way down to Onepoto Bridge at the bottom of Onewa Road just before you get on the motorway.

It’s a cool bit of design, bikes and pedestrians only. Check (or Tick as they say here).

This was our longest walk of lockdown and hopefully that record will hold because by next weekend we might be allowed to go to the beach.

We saw several of the occasional themes of this blog…

… mosaic

… manhole cover

… several big lockdown bears including this guy who likely suffers from more than one of the factors contributing to homelessness.

And some other suburban stuff that we don’t usually write about…

The drive-in COVID testing station which had multi-hour waiting lines just a few weeks ago…

… a very relaxed cat

… and a tiny library in an old microwave oven.

14,000+ steps and a stop at the Asian supermarket later, we arrived safely home and haven’t done much since!


The whole “see all the volcanoes this year” quest fell off badly over the winter. Let’s see if I make it.

Here’s Onepoto Basin looking one direction… marshy wetlands, and below looking the other way… big grassy park. It also hosts a pond used for sailing little radio controlled sailboats.

Volcano wise, it exploded about 185,000 years ago. It mostly stayed unflooded until the last Ice Age, and then the surrounding lava wall was breached. The floor was raised and leveled in the 1970s to make the park.


Just because we’re in full lockdown doesn’t mean there can’t be a celebration. We had everything you need for an epic party: a good bottle of bubbly, a cake, and a blowtorch.

Stepping Out

Sunday walk to the Northcote Point area. Got our 10,000 steps in before breakfast. We also saw…

Manhole covers. WTF is still the best in town. But today I learned it was the Waitete Foundry… I thought the W was for Waitakere. I’ll have to dig deeper on the Waitete Foundry… there’s definitely material on it to sort through.

A flock of black swans. I always thought ‘black swan’ was the very definition of rarity, but here in NZ they’re all black.

A really massive pohutukawa tree. The picture doesn’t really show how big it was, but that’s me in there for a bit of scale.

Epiphytic ferns on old tree stump. My mom used to love staghorn ferns that she grew in sphagnum moss pockets… they were branchier than these, but same idea I reckon.

Cut It Out

After last week’s supermarket terrorist attack where the bad guy grabbed a knife off the display and started stabbing people, our local branch pulled all the knives.

I don’t know if that will prevent any crimes, but I hope it makes the employees and customers feel better.

The market chain is reporting a big increase in unhappy incidents during this lockdown. Masks make some people grumpy, and lines to get in , and reduced stock. And lockdown… people are struggling more this time… it doesn’t feel patriotic any more, just hard. We find out on Monday afternoon if we get to relax a little bit.

But fine… all that. Do you have to vent your frustration on a supermarket worker???

Fernglen Gardens

This morning, we ventured a little further afield on our walk. We saw a sign for “Fernglen” and decided to see what there was to see.

It turns out that Fernglen Gardens is a beautiful spot down a steep hill from the main road. The first European on the land was a Mr. Fisher who bought the property in the 1880s, and over the years turned it into both his family home and a native plant nursery and garden. Several generations later, the property was sold to the city, which now runs it as a public garden.

Everything is closed during lockdown, of course, but we were able to walk in and take a look around. One of the coolest things was the motion-activated water feature… As soon as you walked onto the property, a sweet little stream and waterfall started to flow.

Lots of the plants were labeled, and it really reinforces just how many native species there are, and how varied they are. Lots of things in flower this time of year.

We left the garden and kept following the road all the way to the end. It went down steeply, about a 13% grade according to the level app on my iPhone, where the road changed its name from Kauri Road to Hebe Place. The hebes turn out to be a genus of native plants… I thought so but had to look it up just to be sure.

We climbed all the way up to the top of Hebe Place… a dead end… and admired the view. There’s a path into the bush that would have taken us back to Fernglen but after last night’s rains we decided to stay on the road.

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