Auckland City Gallery

Yesterday afternoon my friend Donelle and I paid a visit to the newly expanded and renovated Auckland City Gallery, this was my first visit since it reopened and I am going to have to say the gallery was pretty impressive.

When it was first proposed, the expansion of the gallery was a hot topic among a number of groups, with strong for and against opinion.  Initially, I was against the expansion as the proposal required using land from Albert Park and I kinda liked the old gallery building and couldn’t see how a blend of old and new would be visually appealing.  However my scepticism was misplaced and the new building looks fantastic.

Of course the important stuff is what is in the gallery and how the gallery works. The gallery flows well, easy to move around, spacious and well lit.  I did find out later we had missed an exhibition I would have gone to had I know it was there. I will admit I did not look at a guidebook ! This does give me a good reason to go back before I head overseas.

It was great to see a nice collection of McCahon paintings in one space as well as some of the other modern NZ painter that I liked.  Though my favourite piece was the massive, moving air filled flower chandelier in the main atrium from Choi Jeong Hwa.

I also really liked that in most parts of the gallery I was able to take photos !

Gallery – Trip into the city

For almost the first time in twenty years I do not have a car park in the city, so, in an effort to conserve cash and to start getting used to public transport, I caught the train into town to meet a friend and check out the new art gallery.

I am guessing my experience in catching in a train, mid afternoon in Auckland is not going to be the same as catching a train in Kuala Lumpur 🙂

This was taken as a test shot from inside a camera store on Queen St as I was checking out a new lens and viewfinder for my travelling camera, I bought both ! My final camera related purchases.

I love the Whitcoulls building, it has been part of MY Auckland for many years and I was greatly relieved when the store was not  shut down when Whitcoulls parent company went into liquidation last year. Fortunately the business was purchased and the store remains open.  It is not the best book shop in the world, but it is a great shop.

This tiki mural is on a wall in Victoria St.

Art Gallery post another day, but I will say it (the gallery) is awesome, and so is the new camera.


“Freedom !!!! You are so lucky !”, said a work colleague at my farewell morning tea last Friday. I am not quite sure where luck came into it, this was was something I have been planning and “saving for“ for a long time. The hardest part was making the decision to do it.

Yes,  I am definitely free from the shackles of full time employment and, sadly, the pay packet that comes with it! However, ‘freedom’ meant I spent the whole of last night wide awake and worrying about the amount of things I need to do before I leave in eight weeks.  Three months ago, eight weeks sounded like a ridiculously long time to be off work before travelling, but right now, I am not so sure.

When I got up this morning I started updating and prioritising the list of jobs and it is huge! From large, important tasks like selling the house through to the small, potentially frustratingly time consuming things like cancelling utilities. These are all mixed in with the probably emotionally draining tasks of divorce and separation of assets and the packing up for storage or disposal of all the stuff the kids left before they went on their own travels.

Whenever I hear the word “freedom” I think of the opening line from the Cockney Rejects song “Police car”. “Freedom? there ain’t no fucking freedom.”

That’s what it felt like this morning.

First day of the rest of my life.

Saturday 29 Oct 2011 was the first day of my new life, the first day with no job to go to on Monday, or any other Mondays in the near future.  It was a good day. It started with my first trail run in two months, followed by a fun photo shoot in the afternoon, ending with a family dinner for my niece’s birthday in the evening.

With my focus over the past three months primarily being on work I have not managed to dedicate much time to myself and my hobbies. Late nights, stress and a lack of sleep, as well as working a few weekends, left me fairly wasted when I did have free time so the time was seldom put to good use.   Now it has all changed ! My last day at work was on Friday and now I can do what I want when I want and it was great to cram a couple of my favourite things into day one.

After having only done one short road run in the past two months I was a wee bit concerned that even a short trail run would leave me gasping.  However, my buddy Vicki picked an awesome fifty minute run over the Farley Track in the Waitakere Ranges, that was just perfect for a first run back. Not technical, good under foot track conditions, no steep bits and a beautiful section of native bush to enjoy.  A great first run that has me looking forward to the next one.

After the run it was a quick trip home, shower and then into the city for the first Flickr group photo shoot meet up that I have attended in months. It was a great opportunity to test drive my new camera, tripod (the tripod was a leaving gift from my work, awesome !) and the messenger bag combination I was planning on using on my travels. Though, stupidly I left the tripod mount at home so ended up not testing the tripod out. I really enjoy hanging with the Flickr group, they are a great bunch of people as well as having some fantastic photographers in the mix.  I have also not taken my photos for a while so I really been looking forward to this.

The objective of this meet up was to take 30 photos in JPEG format over 2 hours, then print them out in the local photo store, no post processing!! It was all good fun and I got to spend a bit of time playing with the new camera. Ultimately I was not thrilled with my images, but an afternoon of shooting photos then a couple of beers while looking at the printed output of the group was good fun and a good start back into photography again.

I left the beer session early and raced back home to nip up to my sister’s place for a family dinner for my niece’s birthday. A great way to end the first day of the rest of my life !

A shot from the day, a sticker from Occupy Aotea. I don’t mean to be political, but I am not a fan of our current government.

The nest is now empty

The past week has seen the completion of a couple of key tasks in my pre-travel plan as well as the end of a couple of era’s.

Yesterday saw the successful passing of three key milestones in work projects . The first was the move of half our city office staff into a brand new two level office that was built for us in Wiri, the remainder of the staff move this coming weekend and the city office will be no more. The second was the ‘go-live’ of a new Cisco VoIP phone solution into the new office and the third was the relocation of the remainder of our city server room to the new site. These projects have been very stressful and have consumed most of my waking hours for the past few weeks. Making these milestones means I can finish work at the end of October, as planned, and walk away knowing that most of the work has been successful.

Sadly my successor has yet to be appointed and I will have to consult for a few days before I leave New Zealand to hand over. Then again I will probably need the money, so some silver lining 🙂

This morning I completed moving and unpacking my office at the new site, this will be the first time in 14 years that I have not worked in the CBD and really is the end of an era. Much as I hate the traffic I am going to miss working in town.

The real era ending happening was, Aiden, my third and youngest child (he is 18 next weekend) went flatting yesterday and I am now an empty nester.  He has moved into a shared house with a friend of my older children and I am really pleased his first flatting experience is with older, experienced, flatters and I have trust that he will be looked after.

I do have mixed feelings about him leaving.  He had to find somewhere to live before I sold the house and left the country and I am glad he has gone where he has gone.  I am also glad that that he has gone a couple of months before I do so we can both get used to him flatting and I can help out if needed and know he is OK. However, my baby has all grown up and left the nest and that is a big moment to ponder.

Though he has effectively been living at his girlfriends for months and probably only slept here once in the past 8 or 9 weeks, he did come home every day after work (and left me his dishes and washing !) and last night the house felt empty.

The new toy


The Panasonic GF1 was the preferred choice of camera for my travels, it has the full manual control and inter-changeable lens features of a DSLR, packaged into something not much larger and heavier than a standard point and shoot.

Sadly they don’t make them any more so I had to pick one up second hand. Fingers crossed no issues !  At least the 20mm 1.7 lens is new.



My new home

At the weekend I purchased my home for at least the first half of 2012, it doesn’t look like much, but I won’t be taking a lot with me.

There have been a few good sales on recently so I am buying things I think I will need when the price is right, but am not compromising on what I want. I was stoked when the pack I wanted was on sale at 40% off  🙂

The Plan

Blog created September 2011.

The “Plan” is very loose. quit work, travel for a bit, pick up work if required to travel some more, return to New Zealand in a couple of years.

For the past eight or nine years I have sort of planned on celebrating my 50th birthday in Europe. The early thinking was to train hard and then enter the Trans-Alps mountain bike race, followed by a touring holiday. However I have just not had time on the bike to consider that sort of activity in the next twelve months, but what the heck, I am going anyway.

I have resigned from work and finish up on the 28th Oct,  at the completion of a couple of large projects. I have two months in New Zealand with the aim to sell my house, settle up assets and get things in order with my family before leaving for Singapore on Dec 27.

I have booked a flight to Kuching in Malaysian Borneo for Dec 30th and aim to spend new year there. From there the world is my oyster…..

Wont be too many more posts after this one until things start to happen, and I work out how this blogging thing works !