On Lambton Quay

two violins by Danny Andreini

two violins by Danny Andreini

On Lambton Quay, Bach
for two violins; small boy
stands captivated.

(16 May 2016)

On an autumn afternoon, unexpectedly, a vivacious counterpoint crosses Lambton Quay and stirs up in me both joy and nostalgia.

Thin red line

thin red line (23 December 2015)

thin red line (23 December 2015)

“You like buildings, do you?” A mature female voice is addressing me.

I am in Victoria Street, and about to click the shutter on this image, an uncommonly handsome view of the Central Police Station – a strong contender, I reckon, for the title of Wellington’s ugliest building.

Standing at my right shoulder, the speaker is clad in a striking mauve jumpsuit. Jauntily perched on her head is a smart little summer hat. She is not someone I know.

I smile as she wishes me the compliments of the season.

“I like anything that catches my eye,” I tell her. “So be careful.”

The clock ticks three times as she registers what has been said. And then both her thumbs go up. “Nice one!” she declares.



Te Mata Coleraine 2013

Te Mata Coleraine 2013 (16 March 2015)

Te Mata Coleraine 2013 (16 March 2015)

A six-pack with a difference, this box of Coleraine 2013 held still for me and my camera at Wineseeker, Wellington. I’ll be adding only a single bottle to my modest Coleraine collection, but I’ve been given a spare box to house them in.

Te Mata Estate released Coleraine 2013 in the first week of March 2015. The final blend was 56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 14% Cabernet Franc.

“This is arguably the most important wine release New Zealand has ever seen,” according to the Advintage website. “Certainly, in our 15 years in this industry, we have never before seen such hype and anticipation surrounding a new vintage. But this is Coleraine. And it is Coleraine from the vintage of a lifetime.”

Advintage goes on to assert: “… 2013 sets a dramatic new standard for Coleraine – a wine already considered the pinnacle of Hawke’s Bay red wine production. It’s an ethereal, complete experience – plusher and weightier than previous vintages. Very clearly a new benchmark for New Zealand Cabernet Merlot blends has been set.”

“From the depths of its saturated inky appearance, Coleraine ’13 is a commanding statement of the vintage. Its powerful attack of beautifully ripened blackberries and black plums integrates with an accompanying surge of immediate tannin which quickly becomes the focus as the wine flows across the palate.

“Coleraine ’13 is a wine to contemplate, from a large glass, over several hours. It is a 30 year wine of impeccable style and character.” (Tasting note on Te Mata website)

“Coleraine derives its name from the Coleraine vineyard, home of John and Wendy Buck of Te Mata Estate. John’s late grandfather was born in Coleraine in Northern Ireland and the name has been maintained through the family home to the wine. Originally a single vineyard wine, from 1989 Coleraine has been an assemblage of the finest wines produced from distinct plots within Te Mata Estate’s oldest vineyards on the Havelock Hills.” (Cited on the webpage for Coleraine ’13)

Te Mata Estate was established in Hawke’s Bay in 1896, and wines have been made there for over a century. Specialising in high-quality wines of classical style, Te Mata sees itself as having been at the forefront of the modern rejuvenation of the New Zealand wine scene for the last forty years. “Every step in the production of our wines is undertaken by us, from grape growing and pruning through to winemaking and bottling.” “We are large enough to be well-resourced but small enough to concentrate on detail.” (Text adapted from descriptive material found on the Te Mata website)

Choisya ternata in flower

Choisya in flower (28 October 2014)

Choisya in flower (28 October 2014)

For more than a decade, I lived on the seventh floor of a city apartment building, so was delighted when (about two and a half years ago) I was able to move to a ground floor dwelling with its own courtyard and front garden. This Choisya ternata – in the garden to the right of the front entrance – is flowering beautifully, despite the rough treatment it received a few months ago, when roofers erected scaffolding. “Both the flowers and the leaves are fragrant and both have a delicate orange scent. When its not flowering the bush looks great with its lush glossy green leaves.” (Jocees Farm)

The very bearable lightness of being

skateboard wallpaper - royal

skateboard wallpaper – royal

A day or two ago, I saw something I’d never expected to see: a young man riding a skateboard … using his crutches to propel himself along. And it instantly put me back in touch with something I’d scribbled down the day before, whilst reading a novel called Ru:

“He had stopped time by continuing to enjoy himself, to live until the end in the lightness of a young man.” (Kim Thúy)

I am not a young man … and thus no longer immortal. Whenever the pain from the osteoarthritis gets bad, I have a mantra: “My feet kiss the earth.” It helps.

But I’ve taught myself something that helps even more: whenever I find myself bracing my knees and hobbling along stiff-legged, I have learned to relax my joints and saunter instead. I’m not saying every step is pain-free, but it sure feels better. And I whisper my mantra. And I smile.



Thúy, Kim. 2009 [Copyright © 2009 Éditions Libre Expression]. English translation Copyright © 2012 Sheila Fischman. Ru. New York: Bloomsbury.

The skateboard wallpaper image comes from: http://www.wallpaper4me.com/wallpaper/Royal/

My title is a parody of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, a 1984 postmodern novel by Milan Kundera. The story takes place mainly in Prague in the late 1960s and 1970s. It explores the artistic and intellectual life of Czech society during the Communist period, from the Prague Spring to the Soviet Union’s August 1968 invasion and its aftermath.” (adapted from the Wikipedia article)

Joyeux anniversaire, Reinhold Glière

This being the birthday of Reinhold Glière, Radio New Zealand Concert played the first movement of his Harp Concerto this morning … which reminded me how lovely it is.

So here’s a YouTube version. Enjoy!

The Hobbit: 3 days to go

“Hobbit stamps, Hobbit coins and Hobbit markets are all in the works as the city of Wellington, New Zealand, prepares for the world premiere of ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ on Nov 28.” (Mark Johanson, writing in the International Business Times, 10 Oct 2012)

3 days to go #1 (25 Nov 2012)

3 days to go #1 (25 Nov 2012)

“The film is the first in a trilogy, with director Peter Jackson returning to JRR Tolkien’s novels after his hit adaptations of Lord Of The Rings.” Subtitled ‘An Unexpected Journey’, the film stars British actors Martin Freeman and Sir Ian McKellen. (BBC News : Entertainment & Arts, 08 Oct 2012)

I snapped these shots this morning on my way to work. (The Embassy Cinema, on Wellington’s Cambridge Terrace, is just a few minutes’ walk from my apartment.)

3 days to go #2 (25 Nov 2012)

3 days to go #2 (25 Nov 2012)

You used to compose music

“You used to compose music,” a friend said to me a few days ago, going on to reminisce about his years as an art teacher – which freed me from the need to respond.

Later that day, I did formulate something I might have said: “My head is still full of music. I just don’t bother writing it down.”

amateurs t-shirt

amateurs t-shirt

Eventually, we recognise that we’re not going to be discovered, not going to be stars, not destined to rise to meteoric fame, not headed for international careers … lucrative commissions … world-wide recognition …

Does that mean our creative impulses are destined to shrivel and die?

Several of my friends are painters. None of them are household names. But they all love to paint. It’s the love that makes us amateurs.


PS: I’ve unpacked the music manuscript box.  

Laughing at the sky

When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky. ([fake] Buddha)

Sky over Washington Monument

Sky over Washington Monument

Bodhipaksa, a Buddhist teacher and author living in New Hampshire, considers that this now widely-known and popular saying “bears no resemblance to anything the Buddha’s recorded as having said.”

Bodhipaksa subsequently remarks that “Gautama doesn’t seem to have been big on laughter!”

To me, this fake Buddha quote certainly sounds like authentic Zen!

Commenting on the quote, Choying Lhundrap writes about the Tibetan teacher Minling Khandro Rinpoche, who, in her 2012 New Year address, combined it with words from Jean Houston:

“When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back
and laugh at the sky. At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of possibilities.”

Which, for me, gets right to the heart of the matter.

But let’s give the last word to Albert Einstein: “Reality is merely an illusion, although a very persistent one.”


George Draffan, responding to Bodhipaksa’s remarks, says it sounds like a stanza from a Tibetan Dzoghcen text that translates as:

Since everything is but an illusion,
Perfect in being what it is,
Having nothing to do with good or bad,
Acceptance or rejection,
One might as well burst out laughing!

(from chapter 1 of The Great Perfection’s Self-Liberation in the Nature of Mind, by Longchenpa, 1308-1364)