Thursday, April 28, 2011
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Monday, April 25, 2011
On a day - Anzac Day - when we remember those soldiers who have died in battle for their country, I'd like to salute the long-suffering soldiers currently on duty in Christchurch, manning the cordons around the inner city's Red Zone - that battered and ruined inner city where lives were lost and futures ruined when the 6.3 earthquake struck on February 22nd.
[A justaposition I couldn't resist].
I've stopped and chatted with a number of them when I've been out cycling at all hours of the day and they're always friendly and keen to exchange a few light-hearted moments. And as winter sets in, it can't be fun.
Freezing cold nights and rain have sent them scurrying for cover in their tents, although on Saturday, when the sun was shining, most were out basking like lizards, moving occasionally to pose with sightseers.
What I like most though, is the way they've acquired old sofas and armchairs and little side tables to make their long hours on the cold, empty, broken streets a little more comfortable. And these two (above) were giving tiny Easter eggs to passing kids when I swung by. Seems to me, we should have been giving *them* the Easter eggs for their watchful eyes and patience on a call to duty that must be tedious and boring in the extreme.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
I've photographed so much despair and ugliness lately, thanks to a focus on recording the Christchurch earthquake ruins, that it was something of a relief yesterday, to come upon this wonderful display of brightness and colour at Brighton Beach.
Friday, April 22, 2011
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
One of the many street sights in Christchurch that I'm now very grateful I've photographed - for so much has toppled asfter the September 4, 2010 and the February 22,2011 earthquakes - not to mention the rampant inner city demolitions that have followed. I took this shot on New Year's Eve 2009, in Manchester Street.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Saturday, April 9, 2011
This is Otahuna Lodge in the spring with its petticoat of yellow daffodils spread wide to welcome guests. Last spring, on September 4th, Otahuna sustained extensive damage following the 7.1 earthquake that shook the region. They closed the doors to their exclusive accommodation for several months while repairs were undertaken - and just as well, because that earthquake strengthening is credited with saving this iconic building when the even more devastating 6.3 earthquake struck on February 22nd. The lodge is once again closed for repairs, but is due to open in time for the New Zealand winter - very soon. Keep an eye on their website - www.otahuna.co.nz - for updated details because a stay in this divine 1895 mansion just 20-minutes out of the city, is a rare treat indeed. It's one of the grandest homesteads in the country and the level of craftsmanship and architectural detail is awe-inspiring.
Friday, April 8, 2011
The Boutique Reception
All Images Courtesy of Sofitel Queenstown
Sofitel Queenstown Hotel & Spa opened in 2005 as the town's original 5-star hotel and after a $2-million upgrade in 2010, it's now looking sparklier and more sumptuous than ever. The whole ground floor has had a significant makeover and in addition to the classy new boutique check-in area, the Left Bank Cafe has opened its doors for breakfast and lunch in charming Parisian style. There's an antique Steinway piano in the foyer and Auckland designer, Stewart Harris of the award-winning design agency, Martin Hughes, had paid homage to Sofitel's French origins with a glamorous black on white scheme that's also associated with the fine fashion houses of Chanel and Dior.
Penthouse Suite Penthouse Lounge
I've always been a fan of the Sofitel's elegant rooms.
There's an uncluttered calmness to them and the sensual, orchid-filled bathrooms (complete with LCD screens over the bathtub) are a perfect place to wind down after a day of Queenstown adventures.
Left Bank Cafe
The other new addition, Left Bank Cafe, is named after that hallowed haunt of artists, writer and philosophers on the Seine. It's a smart sidewalk concept cafe that seats 70, part open French-kitchen and part parisian tea room in style. The walls feature 1930s-1950s art and the vintage butcher's table, window shutters and mosaic floor tiles were all shipped out from France. This is where you can start the day with a Moet & Chandon Champange breakfast, where you can sample the waffle and crepe menu, the breakfast buffet, or an a la carte menu. Lunch is equally tempting - roasted portabella mushrooms, Akaroa salmon risotte with parmesan and lemon or seared calamari to name a few. The in-house restaurant Vie takes over for dinner. Vie will be transformed this year as part of the second stage of the hotel's upgrade, which also includes the addition of a new bar, a private club lounge and a designer gymnasium.
Le Spa Steam Room
The new gymnasium will be the perfect partner for Le Spa - that gloriously indulgent, moody, suite of rooms that include cedar wood Jacuzzi, a traditional Hammam steam room, a Far infra red room and a range of Maori rituals and signature European massage and beauty treatments. Well why not? If you've come this far south, you deserve it.
Sofitel Queenstown Overlooking Duke Street
Sofitel Queenstown is New Zealand's only Sofitel Hotel.
And Sofitel is the only French luxury hotel brand with a presence on five continents, with 130 addresses in almost 40 countries. This equates to over 30,000 luxurious rooms worldwide.
It's plush all the way.
Let me make it easy for you - just click the email address below.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
When gold was discovered towards Bendigo and ballarat in the 1850s, Woodend became the main throughfare through the Black Forest. It sits half way between Melbourne and Bendigo and today has a population of around 3,200. Like many Victorian towns, it has some lovely historic buildings - this is one of my favourites - the gigantic Catholic Church that overlooks the rest of the town from a small rise. Woodend is a popular commuting town and every morning the train from Bendigo to Melbourne is filled with hundreds of Woodend residents, who work in the city. I took a shine to Castlemaine the very first time I visited. I was on a drive to Bendigo - on a day that hit 40 degrees and left me and exhausted melting, wreck - but I hit Castlemaine early, just as the shops were opening at 9am, before the heat reached its peak. Established in 1851 around 40km south of Bendigo, it quickly became a gold boom town. Today it has a population of around 7,000 and is home to the oldest continuously operating theatre in mainland Australia - the Theatre Royal (1856). I found an amazing household secondhand store here - more of a barn really - with the biggest collection of tools and light fittings I've ever seen.
Whenever I'm in Australia, I grab a car and head for the countryside. As much as I adore Australia's big cities, I also love discovering little towns and settlements that spread out from the larger centres. I can spend whole days just driving and stopping at will to take photographs. This was one stop I made at a tiny settlement called Greendale - little more than a pub, a general store, a speckling of farm houses and these old grain houses (?), which were for sale. I quite like the idea of a snazzy conversion but at 81km north west of Melbourne (in the shire of Moorabool) and a population of just 400 or so, I thought it might be stretching romanticism a little too far.
And speaking of Melbourne, this is the bright green entry to Ezard design store. I've walked the streets of Melbourne photographing for hours on end, more times than I can count and I never tire of it. Everything from the architecture, the people, street scenes, cafes and restaurants, signage, shop fronts, street art - you name and I'll probably have a photo of it. I fantasise about spending several months in Melbourne doing nothing more than this - and finally, later in 2011, I'll be one step closer to just that.