Thursday, 18 October 2012

Escape with a Camera

My book, Built for Justice - visits to old North Island Courthouses, is well in the production stage. However, the other day I got a call from the book designer regarding a problem with some of my photographs. Towards the end of my research and photographing travels I had changed cameras.  My trusty Canon had packed up and when I started using a new one of a different make I forgot to check the degree of resolution.  Some of the photos I took were not of a high enough resolution to publish well.
The quick answer was to hit the road and rephotograph.  Fortunately the photos causing the problem were all taken within four or five hours drive of home. (New Zealand is a pretty small country after all.) I set off in the little camper at 7am on a beautiful sunny morning and had reached the historic old gold mining town of Coromandel by 9am, and after taking some shots and picking up a coffee it was back heading through the Waikato region down to Whakatane in NZ's Bay of Plenty which has always been a favourite destination of mine.
 Old Coromandel Courthouse
On a fine day Whakatane is a great place to visit. The stop bank that goes through the town following the edge of the harbour and estuary is a popular walking track, and joggers and family groups were using it late into the evening. The local campground is close to town and behind the stopbank.  After parking the campervan I walked into town to the nearest supermarket for some provisions and a bottle of wine to enjoy as the sun set over the Bay of Plenty.  I had chosen the right day to escape with the camera, as the next day was terrible with rain and howling winds and it was a long much buffeted trip home in the van.
Watch this space for more about my book, or go to
 View of Whakatane


Thursday, 13 September 2012

Escape from a mental rut

Writing is a solitary occupation and it can be easy to get into a mental rut.  Sometimes it can happen without you really realising it.  The best way to escape and 'gee' yourself up again is to take a break and meet some people with similar interests to you, who are positive and achieving.  Last weekend I took the campervan and my favourite travelling companion and headed north.  No, not to Alaska (that song title shows my age) but to Whangarei in the north of New Zealand.  The Northland branch of the NZ Society of Authors (Pen Int) was running a weekend writing festival with many interesting workshops and guest authors.

A weekend spent in the company of a hundred or so keen writers over all genres was an invigorating experience that recharged the internal batteries. In my experience writers as a group are usually friendly and so the Northland writers proved to be. It was interesting to speak with writers, most of whom were not especially successful but who nevertheless had a passion for what they did and a positive outlook on their futures.  They all had work of some sort in progress and high hopes for publication and success.  Workshop presenters were informative and helpful and there were many 'light bulb' moments when something they said sparked an idea.

I returned home after the break feeling energised and ready to attack more writing. Even updating this blog after such a long time is evidence of something. Motto for the future is Escape frequently to find new inspiration!

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Escape on Four Wheels

Well the gap from when the last post was made is unfortunately far too long.  My apologies to any readers out there. Recently I added a small camper-van (RV to those in North America) to my inventory of escape equipment. Now I can hit the highway when I like; to explore, research material for my writing, or just for the hell of taking a break. It is not a huge RV with all mod-cons but a small easy to drive and manoeuvre camper built on a Toyota Hiace. It can be easily parked in built up areas or at shopping malls which is a plus too.

Last week I took it away for a maiden cruise.  Would you know it but a couple of hours down the road I had a puncture? That was a good introduction to the joys of living on the road.  At least I now know where all the tools are and the jacking points on the chassis. My destination was the coastal city of Whakatane situated in New Zealand's beautiful Bay of Plenty.  The harbour front at Whakatane on a fine day is one of my most favourite places in the country.  The weather my first morning in Whakatane did not disappoint as I strolled along the harbour walk in the sunshine while the Toyota was in the tyre place having the puncture fixed and tyres swapped over.

One purpose of the escape on the road was to do further research on the book I am writing on old courthouse buildings. More on that later. It is a great feeling to be on a 'working' holiday in a beautiful place, footloose and fancy free while others are just working.