Armageddon New Zealand 2018

I had a good weekend, all things considered.  My husband was meeting up with a bunch of his imaginary friends streamer mates on Saturday night.  One friend came to stay at our house on Friday night and we made vodka lemon lime and bitters (it’s a Kiwi/Aussie thing, Google it) and got to know each other.  Then Saturday they went to Armageddon and I worked on my family recipe book.  Saturday night we went out to meet up with the rest of their imaginary friends streamer mates. It was a bit daunting, because I didn’t know anyone, but everyone was really nice.  I played an atrocious game of pool with my husband, ate some cake that was waaaay too sweet, and met some new people who might become new friends.  We’re going to try and catch up with some for drinks and stuff one weekend.

My daughter was very kindly given two double passes to Armageddon (thanks Aero!), so on Sunday I took her and two of her friends to get their geek on.

Some of the costumes were insane! I did myself proud and asked a bunch of people to let me photograph them. It’s easier than regular street photography, because they’ve put so much effort into their outfits they’re happy to pose for photos, but I still felt proud of myself for going up to strangers and saying ‘Can I take your photo?’

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There was an author selling signed copies of his books and it was a fantasy series, so I bought the first one for my son and had it signed for him. Another Christmas present sorted. *Bigsmile*

My daughter and her friends really wanted to see the cast from RWBY, an anime series she loves. I say ‘cast’, but it’s animated, so really they’re the voice actors. She knew them all by name though. The line was insane, all the way down the corridor. We joined the queue, but it was moving ridiculously slowly. Instead of quickly signing things for each person, they were having full on conversations with each person. I think we moved up the queue at the rate of about one person per five minutes. Seriously. It was beyond ridiculous. About an hour later we were about 20 people from the front of the queue when a staff member came around and said ‘In ten minutes they’re going to take a break and come back at 3:30pm.’ Wait, that’s an hour an a half away! We’ve been waiting in line for ages and we’re so close! The line moved a little bit quicker then, just enough to give us some hope, then with about 10 people in front of us, when we were close enough to see them, the actors went for their break. Gutted. They were replaced by another group, but only one of the second group was from RWYBY and it wasn’t one that my daughter was especially interested in. Some people left and the others just went up and got autographs from the second group. We told the staff that we were waiting for the other RWBY cast to come back, but didn’t want to start all the way back at the end of the line when they came back, so after much humming and haa-ing, they found a spot for us to wait off to the side. For an HOUR and a HALF. Ugh. My back was killing me. There was a lull in the line and my daughter snuck in and got an autograph from the one RWBY guy in that group. We’d been told that autographs and photos cost money, but thankfully they were giving away small 4×6 prints with free autographs. Then, finally, the other lot came back, and we were first in line for them. All three girls got autographs, and I got some for one of their friends who hadn’t been able to come with us, so the girls were all pretty happy. But tired. So we headed home then.

When I got home, and finally sat down and rested, I remembered about the Pokemon event I was supposed to be doing. Ugh. I ended up driving just up the road to a pokestop and putting a lure on. A lure normally lasts 30 minutes but for the event it lasted 3 hours, so that was sweet. Then I put incense on and just caught shitloads of pokemon. lol

Then tonight, we went to the neighbours for a BBQ. We ended up playing a game called ‘Five Second Rule’ where you have to name 3 things in five seconds. It was hilarious. I think the most ridiculous one was when I had to ‘name three words that end in at’ and all I could name was ‘proletariat’. *Laugh* The neighbour was like ‘What about cat, that, hat?’ No, I had to name proletariat. *Rolling* It was so ridiculous, it had us all in hysterics. There were other funny ones too. ‘Name three reasons you’d call in sick.’ One of their boys said ‘You chopped your arm off, you killed someone’ and something else. And there were hilariously rude ones too. And a whole conversation about wanking that was quite illuminating. *Laugh* The conversation always ends up in the gutter when we’re with those neighbours. It’s always hilarious. So much fun. A good night.

#foodography

Prompt: August 21 is National Senior Citizen Day. The traditional definition of a senior citizen is any one over the age of 60. Write a tribute to or something inspiring you learned from a senior citizen.

Mum and I had great fun on Saturday night.  I’d bought us tickets for #foodography which was an event run by the NZ School of Food and Wine.  The idea was to teach us how to photograph food and share those photos on Instagram.

So on Saturday morning, my 69 year old mother got a crash course in Instagram, and set up a new account.  My sisters and I all followed her, and she followed us.  She shared a photo of her pets.  The whole time, messages were being exchanged back and forth on Viber.  “I’ve followed you, make sure you follow me!”  “I am following you!” “Yes, I saw that, thank you.”  *Laugh*

We weren’t really sure what to expect of the evening.  We’d done something similar as part of one of Auckland’s food festivals a couple of years ago.  That one was sponsored by Canon, and we were able to use their lenses, etc., and they had food set up for us to practice photographing.  It was great fun and we got some awesome photos of out of it.

This one was run slightly differently.  First, we had a talk about Instagram.  Things to do (use hash tags!), things not to do (don’t feed the trolls!).  For me, I found the difference between stories and feeds to be quite interesting.  Most of the rest of it I knew, but I think Mum learned a lot.  They gave us a handout with quite a lot of information on it, which was good.  And I wrote down a bunch of useful food-related hashtags that were specific to Auckland and NZ.

Then we were split into groups, and sent to different stations.  There were three savoury stations which we did first, then two dessert stations.  The savoury stations were lamb, chicken and a winter salad.  Dessert was chocolate brownie and a panna cotta.

With each station, all the ingredients and garnishes were laid out in separate dishes, and we could choose our own serving plates/bowls, and arrange the food as we wished.  This was the part where I really felt like I could have used some more guidance.  Food styling is a whole other thing, and I’ve not had any experience with it nor instruction on it.  I was definitely winging it.  We were supposed to work as pairs and do a ‘practice’ plate, then a final plate.  It didn’t end up working like that though.  Mum and I tried to do that but were running out of time, and everyone else was just doing a plate each, so we ended up doing that too.  I found Mum’s style of plating was more blended, and mine was more focussed on height.  *Laugh*

Then we took our creations to tables that had been set up with black tablecloths and overhead lights, and took photos of our creations with our phones.  We were given a little guidance with this – use ‘square’ mode for Instagram pics, angles to try, etc.  Then we were supposed to post one photo per pair onto Instagram with the hashtag #foodographynz and linking the NZ School of Food and Wine as our location.  So that’s what we did.  No one else did that.  They each took photos of their own creations and shared them.  So after the first couple of rounds, that’s what Mum and I ended up doing too.

It was fun to see the other creations appear on Instagram, and also to see the difference between the ones that looked delicious in person and the ones that photographed well.  There is a difference!

Mum didn’t post many pictures.  I think partly that was because we had to eat our creations in between (this was our dinner!) and so we were all rushing, and the whole process was new to her.  She said she really enjoyed the evening though.

The food was really yum, although I wasn’t a fan of the panna cotta dish.  The brownie though… Ohmygodsogood.

After we’d done all the courses, they collated a shortlist of ‘finalists’ from the evening.  All four of my photos were in there, which was a nice little ego boost.  It was interesting looking at the others.  Some I felt were just ‘meh’ and some I was totally wowed by and thought were amazing.  They gave out a voucher for a free course at the NZ School of Food & Wine to the winning photo.

Overall, a fantastic night.  Great meal, lots of fun, and some learning.  I felt like the biggest takeaway for me was a serious dose of inspiration/motivation.  It fired me up, and I love it when things do that.  But I also learned some tips and tricks for Instagram, which is cool.  I’m not very active on there, so will have to edit my UK photos and have a play with releasing some of them on there.

I’m not sure if Mum will continue with Instagram or not.  She was really interested in what the guest speaker had to say, as she was a ‘hobbyist’ like me and Mum, not a professional (a number of participants were there as part of a food-related business).  Also, a gardener, which appealed to Mum as she enjoys gardening too.  She was talking about people she’d met and events she’d been able to go to as a result of her participation in Instagram, and I think Mum thought that could be good for her now that she’s retired.  We’ll see.  Maybe Mum will be the NZ Instagram sensation!  *Rolling*  But I think she too was inspired and motivated, and definitely keen to practice her food photography skills some more.  So stay posted, we may be doing some food styling at our next creative day!

Auckland Anniversary Day

As promised, photos from the Auckland Anniversary Day celebrations, which was Monday 29 January.

Auckland Anniversary Day is a public holiday in Auckland, New Zealand.  The whole long weekend (because the holiday is Mondayised) is a celebration of Auckland, and that usually means a pretty heavy focus on the harbour.  After all, Auckland is ‘the city of sails’.  The Auckland Anniversary Regatta is the largest single-day boat regatta in the world (according to Wikipedia).

We started at the port, which was partially open to the public.  They had helicopter rides (which were a little beyond our budget), boat rides, etc.  They had water cannons spraying the crowd with water, which was very refreshing.  It was damn hot!  They also had free sunscreen and drinking water available, which was much appreciated and we made liberal use of.  I even ended up tipping water over my head just to cool down. Despite all the sunscreen I did a little burnt, but thankfully not too bad.

There were food stalls everywhere, with everything from seafood to hot dogs, to traditional Maori or Pacific Island food.  The kids got frozen ice treats with the little bit of spending money I gave them.

There were buskers everywhere, playing music, frozen still like statues or performing magic or acrobatic tricks to entertain the public.  My daughter and her friend liked the acrobatic ones best.

There were, of course, plenty of boats out on the harbour, including traditional Maori and Pacific Island canoes and boats.

 

So there you go.  Happy anniversary, Auckland!

Auckland City Walk

I did the Auckland City Walk today, with my mum, my daughter and my daughter’s friend.  It’s on the edge of the Waitakere Ranges, and is part of a bird sanctuary called Ark in the Park.  You don’t see many birds on the walk, as they’re spread out and tend to stay away from the public paths, but there is an abundance of native plants and trees.

It’s not a difficult walk.  The path is well maintained and it takes about an hour to walk the loop (if you don’t keep stopping to take photographs).  We took a detour and went uphill (and upstairs) for a better view, so we took a bit longer.  There are a few tracks that branch off the Auckland City Walk, and I’ve done some of them previously.  The Montana Heritage Trail takes about four hours, and I’ve done that before.  The detour we took was a small portion of that track.

It was so good to be out and about with my camera.  I’ve missed taking photos.  Been too long.

 

 

It was really too hot to be bush walking today (it’s New Zealand’s hottest January on record), but it was nice to be out and about, and good to be taking photographs.  It’s Auckland Anniversary Day tomorrow (yay, no work!) so we’re hoping to head into town to capture some of the festivities.

Tiritiri Matangi dawn chorus

Before a sleepy, disheveled sun even thinks about poking her nose over the horizon, the first calls go out. A cheery wake up song to start a day of industrious productivity. As the sky lightens, first to a dull charcoal, then slowly, persistently, to a stunning, vivid blue, the chorus of melody grows stronger and louder. Sweethearts are courted with flirtatious serenades, and materials are meticulously gathered for the construction of homes in anticipation of future families.

Spring

Today is the kind of spring day where the grass looks clean and fresh, inviting you to kick off your jandals and discard your worries, and run barefoot, scattering lambs and pukeko before you as peals of laughter ring out.

Instead, I have to work in an office with no windows, and on Friday they’re turning the air conditioning off to install some new system.  Days like today, adulting sucks.