On beach walks and reading the stories of the land

Waitemata sandstone; the sedimentary rock that forms the cliffs around much of Auckland's shoreline. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Waitemata sandstone; the sedimentary rock that forms the cliffs around much of Auckland’s shoreline. Castor  Bay, Auckland. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

There was a moment, thirty odd years ago, when I considered switching from a social sciences degree to one in earth science — specifically geology. I like puzzles, and it’s always seemed to me that rocks contain all the clues necessary for a really good puzzle — if only one can read them.

Auckland, where I live, is built on around 53 volcanoes, and New Zealand generally is one of the most geologically active places in the world. Our rock formations then, are tapestries which tell of tectonic events on a monumental and destructive scale.

The cliffs of East Coast Bays, where these photos were taken, are comprised of sandstone; volcanic sediments deposited when Auckland was submerged under ancient seas.

Waitemata sandstone, with layers of iron and other minerals. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Waitemata sandstone, with layers of iron and other minerals. Castor Bay, Auckland. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

One of the most fascinating things about a walk along the beaches under these cliffs, is how quickly one formation gives way to another. Not only do the depth and colours in the layers change — so does the direction. Within the space of a few metres, horizontal layers become almost vertical, deformed by the movement of faults in the base rock.

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Tectonic activity has deformed the cliffs, forcing some areas up so that the layers of sediment run vertically, rather than horizontally as they were formed. Sandstone cliff at Castor Bay, Auckland. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015.

Zoomed out — another puzzle. What forces made these cool patterns in the sandstone?

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How quickly the colours and patterns change. Cliffs at Castor Bay, Auckland, with the city’s newest volcano, Rangitoto Island, in the background. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

This post was written for Sally’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally.

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Source: Geology of Auckland, University of Auckland.

Travel theme: grey

Memorial to the Women of World War II. Sculpted by John W. Mills. Whitehall, London. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Memorial to the Women of World War II. Sculpted by John W. Mills. Whitehall, London. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

As a colour, grey gets pretty bad press; associated with bad weather and gloomy days. But it is also the colour of many sculptures — like the bronze above which commemorates the enormous contribution made by women during war — and Rebecca Rose’s “Inflight Entertainment” below, which is made of stainless steel.

Rebecca Rose, "Inflight Entertainment", 2014. Exhibited at NZ Sculpture OnShore, 2014. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014

Rebecca Rose, “Inflight Entertainment”, 2014. Exhibited at NZ Sculpture OnShore, 2014. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014

The works below, by Trish Clarke and Merle Bishop are also in steel and bronze respectively, although the grey that predominates in the image is that of a stormy evening sky.

Trish Clarke's "Round Up aka Triffid Garden", and Merle Bishop's "Spot the Blind Dog", exhibited at NZ Sculpture OnShore, 2014. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014.

Trish Clarke’s “Round Up aka Triffid Garden”, and Merle Bishop’s “Spot the Blind Dog”, exhibited at NZ Sculpture OnShore, 2014. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014.

London skyline on a stormy day. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

London skyline on a stormy day. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

In the two shots above, leaden skies hang over already grey structures. In countries were rain is abundant (like the UK and New Zealand) grey clouds are often spoken of negatively — something I’ve noticed increasingly in our TV weather forecasts. For me, they speak of drama and change — things I view positively.

Grey is this week’s Travel Theme at Where’s My Backpack. You can see Ailsa’s wonderful shots here. And here are some other bloggers’ take on the theme that I liked:

Grey

https://drieskewrites.wordpress.com/2015/08/07/travel-theme-gray/

Travel Theme: Rouen’s Cathedral is a Study in Grey

Grey Days

https://sonyavdg.wordpress.com/2015/08/07/travel-theme-grey/

Travel Theme: Grey

https://decocraftsdigicrafts.wordpress.com/2015/08/09/travel-theme-grey-travels-around-new-zealand/

https://beautyalongtheroad.wordpress.com/2015/08/08/shades-of-gray/

 

 

Photo Rehab Weekly Photo Challenge: Cover Makeover #6

the house we grew up in cover makeover

Image and design: Su Leslie, 2015

This week’s #PhotoRehabCoverMakeover challenge from Lucile (bridging lacunas) and Desley (Musings of a Frequent Flying Scientist) is the novel,  The House We Grew Up In, by Lisa Jewell.

I haven’t read the book, and I deliberately didn’t find out too much about it. I love the title and wanted to create a cover that worked for the story that I imagined.

 

 

DP Photo Challenge: the changing world beneath my feet

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Frost on the grass. What’s beneath my feet on my morning walk. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Frosty mornings giving way to glorious sunny afternoons — perhaps the most perfect days of winter. Taking time to go out and photograph the subtle moments which mark the passing of a day is a pleasure I’ve been awarding myself, even as life feels overwhelmingly full.

Frost edges a fallen leaf. Beneath my feet on my morning walk. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Frost edges a fallen leaf. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

A morning walk around my neighbourhood yielded shots of frosted grasses and leaves; an afternoon trip to the beach with the Big T gave us some much-needed sun on our faces and a chance to explore the salty, gritty world beneath our feet.

Bird's skull? Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Beach-combing; a bird’s skull? Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Seaweed. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Found by the water’s edge. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

A walk on the beach. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

A walk on the beach. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

This post was written for the Daily Post Photo Challenge: beneath your feet.

Inspiration

The boy-child aged 8; punting on the Cam. Cambridge, England. Photo: Su Leslie, 2006

The boy-child aged 8; punting on the Cam. Cambridge, England. Photo: Su Leslie, 2006

I have to admit it; I’ve struggled with this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge. How can I show what inspiration means to me when I am feeling so uninspired.

I don’t know if it’s the gloomy weather or the sense that my life is in limbo while we get ready to sell our house. Maybe it’s just the lack of challenging projects at the moment. Whatever the reason, nothing much seems to have got me out of my chair recently.

So the challenge was to work out what, in the big scheme of things, does motivate me and lift my spirits?

The answer basically is travel — and my kid.

Like most parents, I try to do the best I can for my child, and to be a positive role-model. A chronic avoid-er of conflict, I know that over the years I’ve gone into bat for him over issues that I’d probably have tried to ignore (and silently eaten myself up over) if they were just for me. I’ve not taken the path of least resistance because I want him to grow up knowing that you don’t have to blindly accept everything that happens to you — that you can shape your own destiny.

I’m inspired by his very existence to be the best person I can.

And then there’s travel. Even the smallest opportunity to be somewhere new, to see new sights, eat new foods … I’m in. Maybe that’s part of my current malaise; I have been at home too much lately.

So my contribution to the challenge isn’t the best photo I’ve ever taken, but it’s the shot that reminds me of the things I love (and actually I’m pretty fond of Cambridge too), and that get me out of bed in the morning.

You can see more bloggers’ Inspirations at the Daily Post.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Rehab Weekly Photo Challenge: Cover Makeover #5

Alternative cover for Simply Red album, Simplified? Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Alternative cover for Simply Red album, Simplified? Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

This week’s #PhotoRehabCoverMakeover challenge from Lucile (bridging lacunas) and Desley (Musings of a Frequent Flying Scientist) is the Simply Red album, Simplified.

I live in a house full of musical instruments and other gear, and my first thought was to try and capture an arty shot of a microphone — a nod to the distinctiveness of Mick Hucknall’s voice. But none of the resulting images really worked, and the idea was in danger of being too much like the real cover.

So I’ve gone back to basics. Let me know what you think.

 

 

“Ready for my close-up”

Definitely not an ornothologist; but I think this is a pied shag. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

I’m no ornithologist, but I think this is a pied shag.  Seen at Whangarei Town Basin, Northland, NZ. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

The Big T and I escaped the city last weekend for a (too) short trip “up north.” Part holiday, part real estate search, we stopped at Whangarei’s Town Basin for coffee, a visit to Burning Issues gallery and to enjoy a late-afternoon walk around the marina.

Wings outstretched to catch the afternoon sun? Pied shag, Whangarei Town Basin, Northland, NZ. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Wings outstretched to catch the afternoon sun? Pied shag, Whangarei Town Basin, Northland, NZ. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

This bird was perched contentedly, wings outstretched and oblivious to our interest.

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Pied shag, Whangarei Town Basin, Northland, NZ. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015.

This post was written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally. This week’s theme is nature. The post title comes, of course, from Gloria Swanson’s wonderful line in Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard:

“All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my closeup.” 

On anniversaries and growing older together

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It’s 29 years since the Big T and I first got together. In the absence of an actual marriage, August 1st — the date of our first, er, date — stands as our anniversary.

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University of Auckland, Engineering Ball. A few years ago! Photo: Gray-Leslie family archive.

Like most couples there have been times we’ve struggled to see a future together — and other times when (I can only really speak for myself here) I couldn’t imagine a life without him.

On holiday. Russell, Bay of Islands, NZ. Photo: Gray-Leslie family archive.

On holiday. Russell, Bay of Islands, NZ. Photo by the boy-child. Gray-Leslie family archive.

He’s seen me at my worst (about an hour before a particularly tricky university assignment was due and about 30 minutes before our son was born) — and at my best (actually getting the degree, and the first few hours after our son’s birth). He’s managed to cope with both.

Capping day, Victoria University of Wellington. Finally completed the mid-life crisis degree. Photo: the boy-child. Gray-Leslie family archive.

Capping day, Victoria University of Wellington. Finally completed the mid-life crisis degree. Photo: the boy-child. Gray-Leslie family archive.

We’ve navigated aging, familiarity, family dramas, career changes, a couple of major emigrations, health problems, house renovation, and raising the coolest, funniest, cleverest most gorgeous 17 year old in the world — and we’re still talking to each other.

We must be doing something right.

Even after all these years; still finding something to smile about. Photo by the boy-child. Gray-Leslie family archive.

Even after all these years; still finding something to smile about. Photo by the boy-child. Gray-Leslie family archive.

Apologies for re-posting some of these images; they are too much a part of our story not to show.