Friday, April 11, 2014

Apples and hazelnuts

The nursery specialises in native plants and trees, but they also have a lot of fruit trees, including lots of different varieties of apples. They also grow some full-sized trees so people can see what they're like when they're all grown up.

Happily, our trip coincided with apple season...

A fairy-tale tangle of apple trees

The witch's cottage must be around here somewhere...


One out-of-the-way paddock is full of hazel and chestnut trees. It's shady and mysterious amongst the trees, and Willie and I have nicknamed it "The Witch's Paddock".

There were plenty of hazelnuts on the ground!

We gathered a few pocketfuls :)

Country matters

As promised, here are my photos from last week's stay at Willie's parents' place in Taranaki. Willie was working 'from home' while we were there, which gave me lots of time to knit, read, and wander around with a camera. :)

Willie's parents run a tree nursery, called Te Kahuri Nurseries. Here's a map showing where in Taranaki I'm talking about...

They often have a few animals on their mini farm, but there were no cows this time. It certainly made it easier to wander around, as I didn't need to worry about securing the gates. Cows make me kinda nervous too - they're often taller than me, and I'm not exactly a country girl... :p

Looking across the paddocks, there are some classic countryside views!

The mountain was hiding behind clouds...

The nursery is a lovely place to wander around, especially in the evening when it's all quiet...

The long driveway

The office

Brian with Leo, rodent-catcher extraordinaire


A pear hollowed out by wasps

I did find some cows, safely over the fence in the neighbour's paddocks!

Mooooo to you too!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Consorting with viols

I had a rare treat last night - I got to sing with a consort of viols! A bit like this one, except wearing jeans and woolly jumpers:

Willie and I are staying with the Olivers, who are old-school early music enthusiasts. They play various string and wind instruments including viols, renaissance flutes, a shawm, a rebec, a psaltery, and virginals. They host a viol consort on Monday nights, and Robert invited me to sing some consort songs with them.

Elizabethan consort songs involve a singer plus a viol consort (hence the name), and they're quite challenging because the musical style is dense and complex - each player's musical phrases often overlap with the other players', which can make it tricky to find your place again if you get lost. The secret is to just keep counting!

William Byrd (c.1540-1623)

The songs we had a go at are all by William Byrd, and they are absolutely beautiful. I love that the voice part is really just another instrument - many of these works can be performed just as easily by all singers, or all instruments, or a mixture. The texts are melancholy (and in some cases moralistic), and I enjoyed making the most of the words once I'd got the hang of the notes. I'd like to learn Elizabethan pronunciation at some stage, to make the rhymes and word-play work as they should.

Here are recordings of three of the songs (I couldn't find any online for 'Blame I confess' or 'O that we woeful wretches could')...

'Ye sacred Muses' (1585) - a lament on the death of Thomas Tallis

'O Lord, how vain are all our frail delights' - with text by Philip Sidney

'Weeping full sore' - a 5-part madrigal from Songs of Sundrie Natures


I'm in New Zealand again, hooray! Willie had a couple of family events to attend in Christchurch and Wellington, and I decided to tag along and visit some of our friends and family.

My first stop was rural Taranaki, where Willie's parents live. We stayed with them for a few nights, and it was great to be in the countryside for a change. I'll write a post about that bit of the trip once I've sorted out my photos.

We all drove down to Wellington on Friday night, so Willie and his folks could attend a family wedding. Happily, we'd struck one of Wellington's magical calm-and-sunny weekends!

Wellington <3

On Saturday I visited the Underground Market at Frank Kitt's Park, which was fortuitously having a wool-themed week. I didn't buy quite as much yarn as last time, but I did score some natural-coloured 4ply wool from Anna Gratton's Little Wool Co (which will become a stripy cardigan), and a nice squishy skein of undyed DK wool from Maniototo Wool (which will probably become a cabled hat or cowl).

My new pretties:

Then I met up with Rowan for a beer and some afternoon tea. :)

Since then, I've had a lovely dinner with Olivia and Noel and Robert and Andrea, sung with St Mary of the Angels' choir (but not actually at St Mary's as it's awaiting earthquake strengthening), visited Rowan and Amanda, sung with a consort of viols, visited Holland Road Yarn Co's new CBD shop, and raided the library's cd section (my library card still works, mwahahaa).

We're heading back to Melbourne on Sunday - we'll see how much more we can fit in! We still have a lot of people to see, places to revisit, and favourite foods to eat...