Archive for the 'travel' Category

Solace in Nature (and Solitude)

January 6, 2014

unplug

When you work in a large city, and you work with people every day and then ride home on a crowded train, I find it is often easy to dream of being alone.

This is when I start planning holidays in my head spent walking the cliffs of Dorset or Cornwall, or spend whole days longing for my parents’ coastal farm in New Zealand.  I dream of landscapes without people, and start to feel some peace.  But when I can’t actually get away and go to such places, sometimes a narrative containing an exploration of solitude and wilderness is just as restorative.

So, my comfort shelf: the books I turn to when I’m looking for that wild and quiet place.

Plainwater by Anne Carson

A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit

The Dubious Hills by Pamela Dean

Always Coming Home by Ursula Le Guin

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Consolations of the Forest by Sylvain Tesson

Deep Country: Five Years in the Welsh Hills by Neil Ansell

Mexican Wedding

June 16, 2013

mexican wedding attirevineyard con astroturfwedding crowd

If you are ever invited to a wedding while you are traveling – by family, friends, a stranger you met on a long train ride – I would strongly recommend graciously accepting the generous hospitality and enjoying what is bound to be an unrepeatable cultural experience.

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Travel Knitting

May 24, 2013

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Travel knitting requires small projects for small moments.  Something tricksy enough to not bore you, but that won’t get totally ruined if you forget which row or where in the row you are.  I’m often grateful for a piece of knitting that I can pick up while I’m waiting for a friend or host to get ready, or while waiting for a ride.  Mostly though, having something interesting to knit makes those long bus and train rides bearable.  And you end up with something new and beautiful to wear, enhancing your minimal travel wardrobe and bringing you daily joy.

I carry a little knitting kit with me when I’m on the road: a couple of different sizes of double pointed needles, a needle gauge, a little tin with a few stitch markers, safety pins, a tapestry needle and a decent sized stitch holder, a notebook for keeping ideas and notes, a paper copy of a favourite sock pattern (normally Nancy Bush’s Fox Faces Socks) and enough fingering weight wool for one tiny project.  Don’t take more yarn than you need – traveling is an excellent way to add to your yarn stash.  So many yarn stores to visit, so little time.

Girl in Melbourne

May 12, 2013

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Melbourne is a city that swaddles you and keeps you warm, as long as you are appropriately dressed.  It’s the kind of destination you always park a scarf when visiting (especially in Autumn) because you never know how bitterly cold it might be.  This is why Melbourne feels a lot like home, because New Zealand is the same.  And because my sister lives in Melbourne, so a part of home is always there to welcome me.

I never really do much when I am there, only the things that you imagine people do in this town.  Shop, go to cafes, eat, wander through parks, walk up four flights of steps in search of a bookstore, go to museums and galleries.  But it is an easy to navigate city, so simple to get around.  Perfect for exploring and for solitary wandering days punctuated by meals with friends.

Farm Life

March 16, 2013

sheephaymakingnz gothic

A trip to the family property in Waikouaiti, just outside Dunedin, usually involves hanging out with the sheep and chickens and a bit of hard work – usually gardening or helping with the sheep.  This trip both my sister and I were home and helped with the end of summer haymaking.  Our father cut the grass using his vintage tractor, and we then spent three days raking and turning the hay.  I will always remember the smell of the grass drying in the sun and whenever I close my eyes all I see are Dorothy Norman’s photos of grass.

Katiki Point

March 14, 2013

moeraki lighthouse

Many people visiting New Zealand skip Coastal Otago for the grand mountainous splendor of Mackenzie Country and Central Otago, but from the Waitaki down to the Catlins is one of my favourite parts of the South Island.  It’s only a five hour drive from Christchurch to Dunedin, and there are plenty of places to stop on the way.

One of the best places to visit is Moeraki, but don’t just go see the Moeraki Boulders and eat a delicious lunch at Fleurs Cafe.  One of Moeraki’s best kept secrets is Katiki Point – a short cliff top walk with beautiful ocean views and lots of wildlife.

From Moeraki town center, drive down Lighthouse Road.  There is a public carpark at the lighthouse.  Walk from here through the long grass and fields towards the point.  Yellow Eyed Penguins and Blue Penguins do nest here, so try and keep your voices low and watch out for holes in the path (Little Blues often build their nest in abandoned rabbit holes).  You can often see Yellow Eyed Penguins on the beach, or standing on the hills around the beach moulting.  There is also a reasonable sized seal colony here and huge numbers of NZ Shags (Cormorants).

Katiki point is also the site of an old Maori Pa.  If you go at low tide you can walk over the rocks to the pa site.

Girl in New Zealand

February 15, 2013

fleurs

Tomorrow morning I am off to New Zealand for 10 days to visit my family and all my favourite coastal places.  There will be small port towns (Lyttelton), delicious food (Oamaru and Moeraki), estuary walks (Waikouaiti), and cliff walks up and down the coast.  I will be hanging out with sheep, and I may even get to milk them.  If the weather is good I’ll help my parents make hay.  If the weather is bad I’ll sit in the sunroom with Ben the cat and watch the rain on the glass.

Sewing a Travel Wardrobe

February 2, 2013

wiksten tank

It can be nice having something gorgeous to wear when you are traveling.  Clothes are our shelter, but in the absence of a home or place to rest, they can also help remind us of who we are.  Travel clothes need to be practical, however.  They have to be lightweight, versatile, easy to wear with almost anything, and okay to get a little crumpled.

I had this in mind recently when I sewed my new favourite top – a Wiksten tank in a lovely Liberty print.  It’s the perfect summer top.  It goes well with shorts, jeans and loose pants, but can also be worn tucked into a high waisted skirt or pants.  It looks lovely under a cardigan or a blazer and could also been worn pinny-style over a merino base layer in winter. It will need an iron occasionally, but if it gets a little crumpled I can hang it in the shower with me to smooth out the wrinkles.

But most importantly, it makes me feel really pretty.

Girl in Coffs Harbour

February 1, 2013

coffs harbour beach

I have a song that I like, by Lyttelton band The Unfaithful Ways, called Little Mountain Town (sometimes I wish I lived in a little mountain town, where everybody knows  your name and nobody gets you down).  This summer, I discovered an adjacent fantasy – longing to live in a little seaside town.

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Walks in Coffs Harbour

January 24, 2013

coffs harbour mangroves

Australian summers should be spent taking long morning walks and dipping into the swelling ocean thrice daily.  This was my Christmas this year – staying with the wonderful Frank and Ali in their beautiful home in Coffs Harbour.  Nothing but wandering, knitting, reading, scrabble, eating leftover ham and mango chutney and floating from wave to wave.