Friday, November 11, 2011

Looking for the next best thing

Blue Friday

I got up early this morning to go blue penguin spotting at Tarakena Bay. Turns out it's light already at 5.30am.  I'm still not sure about the local blue penguins nesting cycle, but I think I'll have to be there by 5am if I'm to spot one ambling down the beach to go fishing.

It was a beaut morning anyway and I went up the Poito Track, passed Poito Pa and Rangitatau Pa, though both were destroyed by raiding Northern iwi in 1819-20 and no obvious traces remain.

I suspect one of the pa sites is now this flat area covered with wild fennel and the woody stalks and umbels of last year's flowers.

Looking south from Palmer Head to the Cook Strait
Looking east.
Ataturk memorial (left) and Baring Head (right)

Low Self Estima*

M. and I bought a '92 Toyota Estima van on the weekend. A bit early in life for a people mover, granted, but we intend to sell it again after the summer. Will be great to tour the North Island in while on our double honeymoon with our German friends. Even better when we're joined by two more friends for the Northland leg.


I just wish this wedding thing was over with...

*I stole this joke from a Facebook friend.

Some fennel facts gleaned from Wikipedia

The town of Marathon, which gave its name to the long distance run, means 'The place of fennel.'

Prometheus used a fennel stalk to steal fire from the gods.

The type of bulb-like fennel you buy from Moore Wilsons and slice up for salads is the inflated leaf base of Florence Fennel or finocchio. (Something Wikipedia won't tell you: Finocchio is also Northern Italian slang for a homosexual - not sure about the link between the two).

Fennel was once one of the three main herbs used in the production of absinthe (the others being grande wormwood and green anise).

Antlered antics

Tomorrow is my stag do. I don't know what we're doing because my brother/flat mate/best man (same person) won't tell me. We need to be at the Porirua Train Station at 10am and a change of clothes would be a good idea.


Hopefully it's more fun that the other pre-wedding activities that have been keeping me from writing this past week: making a slideshow, doing the music, finding a reading for my step-sister to read at the ceremony, writing the vows (or thinking about it deeply, or thinking about thinking about it), sorting out where people will sit, re-arranging the table settings, picking up my wedding ring, filling out forms for the wedding licence, re-re-arranging the tables.

Wild South

Though progress on THE NOVEL's wordcount has been non-existent since I sent what I had to my editor to have a read (still no word back), I have had two great research moments in recent weeks.

The first was finally getting around to reading Phillip McCutchan's Tall Ships, which I bought at the Downtown City Mission's annual second hand book sale over two years ago. Since then, I've read over a dozen books about sailing ships and left McCutchan's languishing on the shelf. Sigh. I could have saved myself so much time leafing through books that weren't quite right.

Tall Ships has lots of pictures and includes chapters on tea clippers, the 'Australian route', and the Roaring Forties.

Better late than never I guess.

The second hallelujah moment came on Volume One of the Wild South series on DVD. The very first episode, first broadcast in 1980, is called 'The Island of Strange Noises' and focuses on Antipodes Island (one of NZ's subantarctic islands). Half an hour of squawking and close-ups of light-mantled sooty albatross: not as good as being there but the next best thing.


Addendum at the eleventh hour

My gran always used to ring me up on days like today and ask me what the date was. I remember a lot of calls in 1991, the year of the palindromes...

After I posted the above I was reading through a friend's poetry manuscript and I looked down, noticed the time and date, then noticed the page I was reading.  Had to screenshot it.  


Anonymous said...

Hey - Light-mantled Sooties are the most beautiful albatross I think! I was really lucky to spend a day at Antipodes Islands scooting around the coast line. A truly amazing and beautiful place. I also went to Campbell, Chatham and Macquarie - partly research for my next book and partly just a dream trip for me. I really love your blog and am looking forward to reading A Man Melting. I would love to hear more about what you are writing for this latest novel too.
Cheers - Favel Parrett

Craig Cliff said...

Hi Favel

Jealous!! I don’t think I’ll be getting down to the sub-Antarctic before I finish this novel – which means I’ll just have to rely on old fashioned research and imagination. One of my main characters finds himself the lone castaway on Bollons Island in the 1890s, and has to make his way to Antipodes Island in his quest for the resources to survive (he doesn’t know about the castaway depot, which proves a nice surprise).

I’ll get down there eventually, though!

What’s your next novel about?

(I enjoyed your Surf Nation panel at MWF - but can't remember if you mentioned a new project.)


Anonymous said...

Wow - your books sounds amazing Craig - I saw a castaway depot on Enderby Island. They would have been a very welcome thing to find! I look forward to reading this story.
my book is about a shipwreck too - sort of. The Nella Dan on Macca. Set 1980's not the 1890's. There is so much interesting stuff on shipwrecks in the time you are dealing with. We had Neville Peat on board and a few other NZ experts (John Gardiner and Sue Halliwell) who knew so much about it all. I learnt a lot from them.
I wish you had come and said hello after Surf Nation - next time we are in the same place we should have a beer (or a jug of Pimms)
Favel x