Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Day 5 - The Hunters Garden Marlborough Tour - Garden 5

From Garden 5 Blenheim

By the time we left Garden Number 4, the storm was over and the sunshine had come back out again, although out of the sun is was quite nippily cold. Garden five was owned by a couple who first did up the old villa above, and then did some wonderful formal gardens. Each garden was in a separate area, and partitioned off with formal hedging...

From Garden 5 Blenheim

The main formal garden was incredible - in four sections (above) with a different colour in each of the four sections - yellow, reds, whites and purlples.

From Garden 5 Blenheim

I was impressed as you would have to have the patience of a saint to keep it all trimmed and nice. I did ask how long it took to get it tour ready, and they said they had only trimmed the hedges the weekend before.

Some of the purple flowers...

From Garden 5 Blenheim

Here's a side view - you can see the poppies..

From Garden 5 Blenheim

I was amazed with the size of the poppies - and wondered if these were the opium producing ones..

From Garden 5 Blenheim

The Peonies were pretty amazing too...

From Garden 5 Blenheim

From Garden 5 Blenheim

Down a bit further was the garden sectioned off from the swimming pool and olive grove...

From Garden 5 Blenheim

Carol took a photo of Nikki and I but she cut off our legs. Carol will NOT make Photographer of the year. Not in 2008 anyway!

From Garden 5 Blenheim

Here's the other sectioned garden - to me the gardens were like rooms...

From Garden 5 Blenheim

The pool looked great too... I loved the entrance way inviting you in...

From Garden 5 Blenheim

The pool itself was very similar shape (with matching chair) to the other garden 'rooms'.

From Garden 5 Blenheim

We had afternoon tea in this garden so spent some time sitting on the chair in the sun just enjoying it.

After we left the bus dropped us back into Blenheim and we met up with my sister Liz at a nice restaurant for a coffee/hot chocolate. Liz was up from Christchurch for the garden tours so it was good to catch up. On the way back to the car we found this...

From Garden 5 Blenheim

We thought it was very apt for Blenheim because of all the vineyards around!! No one wants to waste good wine down here!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Day 5 - Hunters Marlborough Garden Tour - Garden 4

The next garden seemed a bit longer away, and we seemed to pull up in a vineyard. However a long walk down the drive took us to another amazing house and garden. A Ronald McDonald statue welcomed us which seemed to be out of place, until we heard that the owners of this property owned the McDonalds in Blenheim.

Very sadly, due to ill health, the owners couldn't be there to greet us, but their lovely daughter was, and the gardener as well, who had worked hard in this garden for the past four years. He was able to tell us a lot about it.

The house and garden was almost totally surrounded by a beautiful river. Beautiful big grassy areas, and the home was modern. But the front entrace and drive way had some incredible roses. All colours and varieties. Fortunately by this time, the ky had got quite overcast which gave perfect lighting conditions to photograph them. I only wish I knew the names...

From Garden 4 - Blenheim

This one is incredible. Carol made me take the photo of this one - it was so perfect and symmetrical. We both loved it...

From Garden 4 - Blenheim

This one was a delicate pink and also very beautiful.

From Garden 4 - Blenheim

The next one had beautiful symmetry, like the one above, but this time in an apricot colour...

From Garden 4 - Blenheim

The same apricot colour but a different variety of rose - still just as gorgeous...

From Garden 4 - Blenheim

And onto the yellow...

From Garden 4 - Blenheim

Another pink one but a bit bolder. I actually loved the colour and shape of this one, and wouldn't mind it in my own garden..

From Garden 4 - Blenheim

Just look at it - isn't it wonderful?

From Garden 4 - Blenheim

Peaches and cream...

From Garden 4 - Blenheim

And I found this bee covered in pollen in one of the old fashioned roses. He looked like he was having a great time of it..

From Garden 4 - Blenheim

We wandered round the back, over a little bridge and up into the vineyard.. Note that taking the photo this way, the sky was still blue...

From Garden 4 - Blenheim

But over the vineyard, ominous clouds were forming...

From Garden 4 - Blenheim

and we managed to get onto the bus just in time before the storm broke. Look at those clouds!

From Garden 4 - Blenheim

I enjoyed this garden for it's park like qualities - very peaceful, and the river made a lovely setting for the house and garden.

I only wish I knew the names of the roses!

Day 5 - The Hunters Garden Marlborough Tour - Garden 3

My friend Carol has a bad habit - she nags. She has been nagging me to finish of the blenheim trip blog for ages, but I've been really busy. But still she nagged. I guess somewhere it hit a spot because I do feel guilty I haven't finished it.

Garden three of the tour found us at Nikki & Trevor Collins house at Spring Creek. It was a beautiful garden - country cottage type with lots of flowers. What I loved about it was that it had a little path which meandered down the side of the creek, which was a lovely cool spot out of the hot sun.

I started photographing the roses, but soon spoted red damsel flies instead, so the roses got left behind while I started on the bugs..

Nikki the garden owner got curious with what I was photographing as my camera was pointed at weird angles but not at the flowers, so she came over to talk to me. I really liked her - very down to earth with loads of energy. If I didn't live in Auckland I'd be inviting her over for a wine!!

Her roses were spectacular, but unfortunately not many came out as gthe time of day was a bit wrong - very sunny at midday, so the lighting was a bit garish.

But a red rose is always a favourite. We meandered along the path in teh cool shade, and came across a feature..

Followed closely by the resident burman cat who was rather lovely...

There were several varieties of Clematis in the garden - and being my favourite flower I took lots of photos of these...

Did I tell you it was my favourite flower?

They were growing close to the Roses and I think they make stunning companions to the roses, and Nikki had a lot of rose varieties as well. I have lots of roses in my garden as well but they don't look as good as this...

Beautiful tiny forget-me-nots also dotted the garden. They're so tiny they're often overlooked but they really are a thing of beauty...

While concentrating on the forget-me-nots, some Hover Flies caught my attention, and they stayed still long enough for me to get some pics. Remember - I didn't have my tripod so all these photos were handheld - and when using macro lenses - that can be difficult...

Their wings and eyes are really quite something...

And did I tell you that the Clematis was my favourite flower???

I shot another few images of them on the way back to the bus...

I think it's their vibrancy that does it for me!

Bad habits

I haven't met anyone yet that hasn't got a bad habit of some sort. I'm not talking about drugs, alcohol or nicotine addiction, although I've seen plenty of that. I'm talking about other things like things we collect, or things we do. I think we all have something, some of them might be shameful and dark, and hidden from others, others hilarious.

I am no different, and I'm addicted or collect a few things.

1). Icecream
2). Lipsticks
3). Camera Equipment and shops that stock those
and 4). Cactus Bruce and the Corporate numbers and Mr Driller (4th equal)

Icecream is my biggest downfall. I dare not have any in the house, as I cannot stop at one scoop. I have to have 2 or maybe 3. I've been known to have four. And then there's the different toppings too - caramel sauce, real choclate melted over it, milo, coffee powder, or even kahlua. Sigh. Best I leave it at the supermarket where I cannot be tempted. However, I still crave it every day.

Lipsticks is my next thing. I had managed to keep this one a secret until a few weeks ago. Actually I thought all females had lots of lipsticks so I put up a poll on my deviantart site to see if I was any different. Sad to say I'm really in the minority when it comes to lipsticks. 137 people answered the poll 55 males (40%) and 82 females (60%). Three of the males said they were male but still had lipsticks, but they didn't tell me how many. (5%).

Of the 82 females, the majority owned just 1 to 5 lipsticks (48% and 1 to 2 lipsticks and 27% had 3 to 5 lipsticks). I feel really bad now, but at least I wasn't alone in the number I did have. Ok ok - I'll own up. At the time of the poll I had 52 lipsticks. I've since gone out and bought 2 more, and got another one for Christmas - so I know have 55 lipsticks. In the poll there were 2 others with that many so 4% of females have over 50 lipsticks.

The first question I get asked is - what do you do with them all? Well - I use every single one. Just not all at once!! I do blend in several colours sometimes getting a colour I truly like and I like the colours to match the clothes I'm wearing at the time. And no I probably don't need over 50 to do that - but it really did get out of hand when I went to the USA. Lipsticks are sooooo cheap over there. The L'Oreal brand that I love costs $22 for one here. In the US at any CVS Pharmacy they are always on the sale - 2 for $8. The exchange rate back then was $1 us was $0.80c NZD so I stocked up. In both 2006 and in 2008. Hence my lipstick collection truly grew. I actually did buy for others but couldn't bear to part with them when I got home!!! It's the thought that counts right? Heck - if I lived it the US I would probably buy the whole range!!!

Thats probably the only 'female' or 'girly' thing I do as I hate shopping for clothes, and I don't collect creams or lotions for the face or body like my other friends.

But I let myself down again when I go anywhere near a camera shop. Come to think of it, I can't walk past any shop that has appliances, computer equipment, or cameras. I'm drawn to those like a guy is drawn to anything on wheels. And I can't just walk in and out, I have to compare prices, look at everything, compare specifications, drool, drool again, take a long hard look at something else, before I can walk calmly out again, hopefully without breaking the bank.

B&H Camera & Video in New York is the best place in the world. I could live in that store. If I'm ever homeless, that is where you'll find me. Amongst the cameras of course - Canon SLR section with all the lenses. Drool. We spent a day in New York in August this year, and several hours was spent in that store alone. I nearly broke the bank that time, it took alllll my strength to walk out of there only spending $600 and only $200 of that was for me. My Visa card was absolutely SCREAMING to be used, it kept leaping out of my wallet and clutching at my hand pointing to the canon 40D, the MPE65mm Lens, and the 400mm lens. I had to bury it in the bottom of my handbag and stuff it with tissues to stop it from screaming. The noise of it was affecting the other shoppers!

Lastly, there are two computer games I'm addicted to. Both are absolute time wasters. Mr Driller was a playstation one game we had way back and I learnt to play it, and play it well many years ago. Fortunately the playstation is old and we hardly use it now - we never were tempted to buy playstation 2 or 3. My friend Broni reminded me of Mr Driller a few weeks ago, so I googled it. Very unfortunately, I found it and now play it over the internet. Broni has a lot to answer for. I'm thinking of billing her for my drilling time!! I definitely would if she could afford it!! It's all her fault. The game is simple, you have to drill through blocks, but you have to be careful of lone blocks falling that can crush you, and you can't run out of air - you must drill down, find the trapped air and grab that so you can keep going. I can get to about 1000 metres before I die. And then I try again, and again, sigh!

The other game is my brothers fault He put it on my laptop when I bought it. It's called Cactus Bruce and the corporate monkeys and it's really really addictive. YOu have to catch monkeys and fire them at different obstacles and make your way through 90 levels. You have to avoid being hit by coconuts that the monkey's are throwing at you, grab at blue socks to make your arm faster, and avoid green turtles which will slow you down. If a coconut hits you, you die and the monkeys giggle. The giggling is so annoying I have to play with the sound off. If you fire a monkey and it doesn't hit anything it screams as it goes out to space - which is hilarious. Once you are through the first 90 levels, you can go to the next level of hardness. Their are four hardness levels - of which bonanza is insanely difficult - and I've gone from having one million points then being stuck on one level, and ending up with minus 1 million points in a matter of hours.

I thinking of taking it off my computer, as I have 60gb of photographic files I have to work on. And there's the gardening, and the housework that needs to be done as well. There are blogs to write, and people to see.

Oh heck - I can't hear anything anyway - I think I"ll go and play another game of Mr Driller!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


I'm so frustrated. I can't hear squat. It's been 6 weeks since we applied for funding for reimplantation to our group ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation). I had hoped that they would have got hold of me before Christmas to tell me that they had approved of funding. This way I would know that I would be having my operation sometime in January - but no - I had heard nothing.

So this morning I hopped on internet relay and rang them. After giving them my claim number, my address, my date of birth, my two phone numbers, they then finally ascertained that they were speaking to the right person, albeit through the relay.

I spoke to the case manager's secretary at first, and she finally conceded I needed to the actual case manager. However, the case manager is unavailable 'Could she phone you back?" she asked.

"Well thats the whole point of my claim - I'm DEAF and I can't HEAR on the phone". I gave her my email address and she said the case manager would get back to me with where my claim was at.

A few hours later I got a message...

Dear Robyn

Thankyou for your phone call to ACC.

I am sorry that I have not been in contact with you earlier, but I did try to phone you. It is great we now have email contct.

We are now seeking medical advise to clarify whether your injury is due to your underlying hearing loss or whether in fact this is a new injury.

For an ACC treatment injury claim to be considered for cover the first thing we need to establish is that there is a new physical injury.

The medical advice should be back by early January. I will update you by email once I have this advice.

I hope this answers your questions.

Actually, it answers my questions just fine, however, it makes me really spitting angry.

For one, I've already put on the form that I sent in 'Can't hear on the phone as I'm totally deaf' and I gave them both my txt phone number and my eamil address. And she phoned me! Well. I'm flabbergasted.

And now they're trying to get medical advice to see if my injury is new, rather than my underlying hearing loss? Oh man - come on - how can my underlying hearing loss push out the electrode array? If they knew how stupid that sounded I'm sure they would be embarrased.

I then write long email to them explaining that the longer they push out this process, the higher the chance scar tissue will form in the cochlea and I will be unable to have a successful implant.

She replied that they were doing it as fast as they can. 6 weeks? I dont' think so.

I have a really bad feeling about this. I can't help it - but I have a funny feeling ACC will turn me down, simply because they really don't understand what is needed.

Yes - I'm feeling sorry for myself. It's now been over 18 months since I heard properly. I'm frustrated, and I'm sick of people who truly don't understand how little I hear. And I still have Christmas to get through.

It makes me wonder if I'll ever hear propery again But I guess I can't expect much more from a Government Department.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Day 5 - The Hunters Marlborough Garden Tour - Garden 2

The second garden we went to was not very far from the first. When we pulled up, I thought the front was very stark. A long driveway, a bridge over a pond and then the house. Hardly any garden. How wrong I was, the garden was all at the back.

I found the pond fascinating. It was that time of the morning when the reflections were perfect. So I got Nikki and Carol to pose for me. I'm sure they thought I was taking a photo of them on land. How wrong they were...

At the pond were a pair of herons. The owner of the property told us that they had laid an egg, but they just leave the egg in full view and unprotected, never seeming to look after it...

Not very good parents at all - and they didn't like me getting too close either - I found it extremely difficult getting images of them, despite being the only one around whiie everyone else was at the garden part of the house! Even this photo wasn't that good - but it was the best I got. They moved fast, and they were too far away. I have no idea what kind of heron it is - it must be some sort of South Island bird!

I went down to explore the garden at the back and was really surprised. Quite formal and beautifully laid out. I loved the way the eye was led down the path and into the grapevines...

This garden had absolutely beautiful soft roses which I fell in love with..

Simply gorgeous..

There were beautiful clematis plants as well - my favourite flower. I think they go superbly with roses..

And another one...

Ok ok - thats enough flowers. While people were still wandering around the garden, I went back to the pond and experimented with the reflections. I had so much fun. This one I really like. The pond water makes the image look like a painting...

I really like this one too - very minimilistic, almost surreal as I've flipped the image 180 degrees to make the reflections look like sky...

Here's another one of the reflection - but I'm not sure whether I like this one as much - tell me what you think?

I love the way the reflections can change the perspective of an image..

The pond was small but reflected so many things around - trees, bridges, seats and the even the vineyard itself...

Another reflection that I've flipped...

Here's Carol - she thought she was getting her picture taken properly - even posed so nicely. Little did she know I was only after the reflection in the pond again!!!

Carol posed so nicely I felt guilty, so took her photo anyway properly. I won't tell you which one I prefer...