Saturday, October 29, 2011

Chatham Islands, NZ

Very brief hello from way out in the ocean!  First land visit to these islands was interesting. 600 inhabitants, beautiful flowers, sheep, cows, fishing boats, and warm sunshine.

Yesterday a Zodiac trip around the Antipodes Islands - first viewing of penguins and seals, awesome scenery.

Orion anchored at Chatham Islands

More later from this trip of a lifetime!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Southern Pacific.............

Hello friends!  Unable to do much posting here, very slow Internet connection, and the cost is prohibitive!  Images take ages to load so you just get one for now, sorry!
This was my first glimpse of Orion as we rode the shuttle to the wharf in Auckland, NZ.
All I can say for now is that everything is amazing.  I feel as if I'm living a wild dream - the people are great, the food delicious, life aboard a small ship like nothing else.  72 passengers and 70 crew!

Heading to the first islands, the Chatham, 500 miles out in the wild blue sea. Tomorrow we expect to land via Zodiac boat. Camera will be at the ready so all those wonderful seabirds, penguins, seals had better be ready to have their portraits taken.

Not sure when I will be able post again, but will try asap.

Friday, October 21, 2011

A sea change is in the air...........

Good morning from beautiful California!

I usually write to you from here ~ back east in North Carolina.  
Said goodbye to my morning spot yesterday and headed west.....notice I cleaned up the table and put away all my stuff prior to leaving!

This is today's morning spot!  
Big difference sitting here just south of San Francisco on Paula's deck.  The fog was thick until a couple of hours ago, now this lovely sunny view across the distant bay.

Vintage world travel vignette - last week at SuzAnna's Antiques
when I stopped in to say goodbye to the gals!

Today, Paula and I have been talking ~ nonstop of course as best friends do ~ choosing, folding, packing and re-packing.  We are in a whirl of duffel bags, cameras, laptops, electrical cords. Clothes, shoes, boots, sandals, turtlenecks, t-shirts. Wool, nylon, denim, fleece, chiffon. Rainwear, duct tape (you never know when it may be useful), gloves, sunglasses, jewelry, seasickness patches, lip balm, name it, we have it! 

Tomorrow we'll be off to Los Angeles to catch our long flight to New Zealand over night. 
Hope to be in touch again soon.  
Again, thanks so much for all your good wishes for our trip.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Living the dream.........................

I'm off today..........flying to San Francisco for the start of another dream trip.  

Being hugged on arrival by Paula will put me at ease...........she has a way of making travel seem effortless, and me safe. She has traveled to the wild outposts of the planet for many years. Remember last year when she took me to Africa, an awesome time where, besides seeing wild animals up close, I overcame my fear of flying in helicoptersCome December, we will celebrate 49 years of hugs. I am so thankful for such an awesome best friend. I know all will go well when we leave together on Saturday, flying first to LA, then the 13-1/2 hour journey to Auckland, New Zealand.  

It will be Monday, Oct. 24(always a day ahead while 'down under')when we arrive and board the Orion, sailing that evening on our 14 day expedition to the sub-Antarctic islands, followed by a week in Australia. I am so excited!

I'll miss being able to check in with you every day but, when I do have Internet available, I'll definitely post and let you know how the trip is going. Hopefully I can share some photos from a very remote area of the world.
Thanks for all your best wishes for my adventure.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Reality Shot Thursday.......

The reality of leaving on a trip.
I'm posting this a bit early in case I forget in the excitement of tomorrow.

The packing is done and this guest room is now clean and tidy again, I swear! 

For the past several weeks it looked as if one of those nasty girlie-named hurricanes had come inland from our North Carolina coast and whirled all my clothes and possessions around this room.

This is one of the two duffels accompanying me to the ends of the earth other side of the planet.
This is the heavy one where items such as Wellington boots, and warm wool clothing necessary for riding in Zodiac boats, are stashed. The second bag holds my Summer clothing for those hot sightseeing days in Tasmania and Australia after leaving the ship. This was not an easy trip to pack for I assure you!

All the bits and pieces required to protect extremities from possible sub-Antarctic cold, wind, and rain.............even though it's Summer there temperatures in the 30's expected!

Note the fingerless gloves - soft, silky cashmere no less. I decided to include these just for that I can push that little button on the camera, impossible in those big old waterproof monster gloves! I hope to get lots of shots to share whilst on this exciting adventure.

I'm off today! I may be missing from Reality Shot Thursday for a few weeks, depending on Internet access on the ship.

Meanwhile, do pop over to see Claudia at Mockingbird Hill Cottage and join in the fun.  Remember, you don't even have to clean your guest room or organize your closets, just show us your real stuff!

Take me to the country, please..........

He came to visit. Practiced gymnastics on the feeders, enjoying our birdseed and suet. Scattered it on the ground to feed our other visiting wildlife, the foxes. Made us nervous when we went outside in the dark of night. Lumbered noisily about on the back deck when I was home alone.

Animal Control brought the trap on Sunday morning. By Sunday at dusk he was in there, the temptation too strong to resist. A tummy full of cat food.  Quiet and docile....until I walked up to him telling him I was sorry he couldn't stay in the garden.  Then he hissed and lunged at me.

Rocky Raccoon has left the garden...........taken away in a pickup truck.

I hope they will move him to the country where he will live a long life. I love wild animals, just not this close to home. Rabies is often found in raccoons here in North Carolina, therefore care must be taken at all times when these creatures decide to take up residence right outside the back door.

Edited 10/19/2011 - 8:30 AM
This morning we discovered another garden visitor, a fully grown Opossum. We had requested the trap reset after Rocky had gone on his country vacation in hopes we might catch any other raccoons, or perhaps a feral cat (we have several in the neighborhood). Polly Possum has just been removed along with the trap.......hopefully to be relocated to a nice country estate later today.

Monday, October 17, 2011

It's the corners of home............

.............that are special. The little nooks and crannies one often misses when far from home. I'm whizzing about getting ready to leave, but I find it so hard to shut that door behind me!

By the time I get back, the hearth will be set for Winter fires.  New logs will have been delivered and stacked. Bob's 'Winter fireside chair' will be down from the guest room, ready for toe warming evenings, perhaps a roasted chestnut or two. The Summer rosé wine will be a memory, instead glasses of deep ruby will be clinked in the firelight.

I do love to travel and see new places, but I'm also a real homebody who has a hard time leaving my familiar domicile to venture off into remote corners of the world. I'm not really that brave. That probably all sounds ridiculous but, until I'm strapped in that seat on the first lap of a journey, when all the goodbyes have been said, the bags hopefully stowed in the belly of that big bird, and the wheels go up, I'm still wishing I could stay home! 

I'll miss sitting here, reading your blogs and sharing something important, trivial, or downright silly with you each morning as I sip that first eye-opening cup of coffee.  Will miss looking out at the front porch where the daily wren comes to chirp, and on toward the feeder swaying in an early Fall breeze as the woodpecker, chickadees, and cardinals come for breakfast.

Projects are waiting. I purchased these old starched collars some time ago thinking I'd create something artistic for the wall. The oil painting doesn't fit there behind my Grandmother's lovely vase, when I get back I'll hang it somewhere more appropriate.  

Creative juices have not been flowing lately. Hunting for antique and vintage treasures has been pushed to the back burner, where the longing to visit thrift shops and such simmers in silence.  

Talk about simmering..............not much cooking has been going on here either.  Quick meals with some homemade soups now and then.  A lovely dinner at our neighbors' home to wish me bon voyage (and celebrate my birthday early!), and a run to the local Panera Bread, quick and tasty. 

Yes, to travel to remote places is different. The planning takes much more time, the coordinating is time consuming.  You need an adventurous best friend who has done it before, and, when she already has great friends waiting on the other side of the world to welcome you and take you sightseeing, it's even better. I am truly blessed and thankful.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Still trumpeting.................

What a splendid weekend here.  The State Fair is in full swing (unfortunately I don't have time to go), but I do hear the fireworks exploding over the fairgrounds each evening.  The warm sunshiny days, followed by cool nights, are bringing people to the fair in droves and attendance will break the previous record perhaps.  

I did a little garden work and took down all the straggly vines from the porch, saving seed pods in hopes I can grow new Moonflowers from these seeds next Spring.

Front porch prior to taking down (sadly) the Moonflower and Morning Glory vines before the first frost.

Moonflower seed pods - need to dry out in the sun before opening.  Inside are four white seeds which should harden over the Winter and will be planted for next Summer's front porch curtains!  If you'd like to try growing some next Spring let me know - I'd love to send you some seeds later.

Edited 10/16/11
Regarding the seeds.  Ever done something really stupid?  I did.  Last night I forgot to take these lovely seed pods in from the backyard bench where I photographed them.........this morning almost every one had been eaten or chewed up by our squirrels, or some other hungry wild creature!  I won't repeat the words which came from my mouth!  So dear friends, very sorry, no more seeds on offer.

Amazing - this is the angel trumpet plant right now! I showed it to you a couple of times earlier, once in mid-Summer when it was still somewhat puny struggling through those 100 plus days, then again a few weeks go when it started to bloom.  Now here it is almost half way through October and the flowers are profuse, more opening each sunny day.

Please be aware, if you plan to grow one, that all parts of this plant are poisonous to humans and animals if ingested. I try to remember my gloves when handling it.

I really love this shrub which smells delicious and lemony in the early evening air.  The flowers just keep unfurling and are beautiful.  Of course the plant has to be cut back to the ground for the Winter and heavily mulched as it is tropical and will not survive if left like this in our area.  Hopefully it will be back next spring, pushing new shoots through the ground.  It is now several years old and was rooted from a single stem cutting from another gardener's plant.  I had a pink one too, however it succumbed to the cold one Winter - I believe this yellow one is more hardy in our growing zone 7.

Brugmansia "Feingold"

Definitely a stately garden delight!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Shut the door behind you..............

I have a very busy few days ahead preparing for the big adventure.  Heading out to the West coast next Thursday means I must get all my ducks in a row this weekend!  Sadly I'm having to turn down invites to morning coffees at Starbucks, afternoon cups of tea, shopping excursions to the Vintage Village and SuzAnna's Antiques, or just hanging out somewhere relaxing and watching the leaves change color! 

New readers may not know about the adventure on the horizon.  Long time blog friends, and just about everyone I come in contact with in this large capital city, is bored to death aware of my somewhat wild trip to the sub-Antarctic islands on an expedition ship.  Hopefully YOU are not bored yet because I do want you come along with me.

As I'd no idea what to post today, my blogging brain is on overload with travel details, I just decided to add a few photos of beautiful doors..............before my own shuts fast behind me as I leave home.

All these lovelies were taken on my last two trips home to England.  Some I've shared before.  Cottage doorways are so inviting, you long for someone to open the door and invite you inside to look around..........................

 ............even the walls are waiting to be admired and captured by the lens..........English country walls of stone and slate are also home to ferns, vines, and tiny flowering plants that thrive in little soil, and a lot of rain!

Roses and doorways are a given - especially rambling varieties.

Although more gates than doors, these outdoor entrances along the cliff walk in my home town, beckon "come on in" and you know you would love to see the gardens and houses behind the walls!

Unusual church entry - perhaps I should be popping in here, kneeling down and asking that we will have a safe trip through those possibly rough seas!

Lock me up today, don't let me gallivant around town, I've so much to do behind my own door. Off now to check the 'to do' list which seems to grow daily and get crossed through slowly!  I'll post again before leaving.  Meanwhile dear blog friend, enjoy your Autumn weekend wherever you are.  

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Reality Shot Thursday.......

The detritus of everyday living.
A reality.  

Much of it comes from the outdoor spaces around our homes.
Autumn cleanup is underway..................and we've got the trash cans to prove it!

Can't be more real than this.  The Wednesday morning line-up at the curb awaiting the rumbling of the city garbage trucks.  Three come, regular household waste, garden waste, and recycling.  Thank goodness our taxes are good for something. 

Lawn reseeding - resulting in a tangle of hoses and sprinklers - has us busy.  "Water every seed, every day, for 3 weeks" is the mantra imprinted on my overworked brain each year at this time.  Fortunately we've been having lots of sunny days, it's pleasant to be outside working tripping over untidy snaking hoses and dodging quick cold water showers.

Usually our cans are up on the lawn - a city law - but DH is vehemently protecting his new grass seed along the curb area so we're placing them on the street this week.  Please don't tell!

Who would ever have thought I'd be actually photographing my nasty trash cans............and then showing them to you, my neat and tidy blogging buddies.
Only for today though!

Another fun Reality Shot Thursday with Claudia at Mockingbird Hill Cottage.
Come join us and share something messy, disorganized, ugly, even clean up required for this party!
This is a lot of fun I assure you and it's great to know that nobody has a perfect home all the time.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Putting the garden to bed...................

.................I love that phrase, used mostly in England.  My cousin Sue always says it to me each Autumn and it makes me homesick.  I recall doing that to my mother's lovely garden growing up - always lots of clean up, mulching, and pruning, and making sure there was a warm place under a privet hedge for our resident Mrs. Tiggywinkle, a hedgehog who lived in our neighbor's garden in the Summer but always hibernated under our side of the hedge all Winter.  

To see an English garden with wonderful resident hedgehogs - visit my friend Rose at Second Hand RoseIf you scroll down a little way you can see the amazing Winter homes Rose is building for her little garden friends.

Of course here in my North Carolina garden there's been plenty to keep me busy lately.......but sadly no hedgehogs to tuck in for Winter.  The raccoon may have moved off since the bird feeders have not been filled (sorry birds - we'll feed you later).  The squirrels are very active, burying acorns and running up and down the large oaks to shore up their nests as Winter's blustery winds will arrive before we know it.

I do have some rogue produce coming along!  Can you believe those tiny squash I thought were Summer veggies, which appeared from a pile of compost tossed around a rose bush, now look very much like beautiful butternut squash........................

.................should I harvest them to eat in the next week?  They will most likely rot before I return in mid-November.  If you grow these Winter hard squash, any tips for picking will be appreciated.

The garden angels seem to be ready for their Winter rest, snuggled into ivy under the hydrangeas. Hopefully the Winter will not be as cold here as last year.  The bone-chilling days were many, followed by the relentless hot, very dry, Summer.  The garden may be sleeping soon, hopefully a long peaceful rest to ready for next Spring when all the beauty of Nature will return.  Meanwhile I'm enjoying the Autumn surprises.  Later, even Winter will bring a different kind of beauty when dead plants will wear early morning frosty gowns, and perhaps some snow will arrive for the Holidays!

Monday, October 10, 2011

A decor moment, well actually five minutes!

Because I'm going to be away so long, 
missing much of the Autumn season 
and Halloween, 
I decided not to decorate outside this year, however........... 

...............while out doing all those garden chores all last week, I decided I just had to add at least a little Autumn decor at the cottage entry.  I gathered my new pumpkins, my old gourds, my ancient English stoneware crocks, a vintage crate, a burlap sack, added a pretty pot of chrysanthemums.........voila, we're ready for Fall around here.

That only took five minutes and was certainly worth the effort!


Happy Thanksgiving 
to all my dear Canadian friends.


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Orion Expedition Cruise...not long now!

The bad news is a huge container ship has run aground on a reef off the beautiful Bay of Plenty on the north island of New Zealand.  Oil is already leaking out and the ship may sink causing a gigantic oil spill. Some sea birds, including penguins, have already washed ashore dead or coated with oil.  Praying that the powers that be can remove the oil, along with the containers, before the ship sinks and causes a environmental catastrophe.

More news, the good being my ship will be coming in very soon and hopefully I'll be there to jump aboard!  We will leave from Auckland, NZ and, wait for it, more bad news, it looks like we could be close to the area of the stranded ship on the voyage to our first stop, the Chatham Islands.  

~~~ M/V Orion ~~~ 
Zodiacs used to access the remote islands

I wasn't expecting this!  A package from Sydney, Australia was delivered to the door recently.  It contained an elegant zippered binder containing everything I need to know about the upcoming expedition on the Orion.

The page in the brochure above shows New Zealand. Orion departs from Auckland at the top of the north island, sails to the chain of sub-Antarctic islands in a southerly direction, then turns north to Tasmania where we'll disembark following two full weeks of what has to be an awesome adventure.

Paula and I are hoping to get great photos from the wall of windows and balcony in our suite on Deck 5. You can also read the list of other places available to fill our days at sea. I'm hoping to be able to post to my blog and share shipboard life with you.

Packing frenzy is underway!  Trying different bags in the quest to have everything manageable.  As the trip will be through two opposite ranges of temperatures - cold, possibly wet, in the sub-Antarctic, hot once we reach Australia - this is not easy.