The changing seasons: May

Close-up shot of hand forming chord on guitar. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Image: Su Leslie, 2016

I’m late with this month’s The Changing Seasons post, and I think it’s because May is a month that passes largely unnoticed in my life. There are no birthdays to celebrate, no public holidays, no special events. The weather tends to be all over the place — warm and sunny one day; heavy rain the next.

It is New Zealand Music Month however (have I mentioned that here already?) and I have really enjoyed my daily trawl through the Kiwi music archives. I’ve found new songs and rediscovered some old favourites. I’ve been both elated and flayed raw by some of the memories that have been awoken.

I’ve even picked up my guitar, dug out the chord chart and some music, and thought about ways of creating time in my days to practice.

Here’s the song that inspired this desire to make music. If I ever sound this good —  I’ll let you know.

The Changing Seasons is a monthly challenge hosted by Cardinal Guzman. Please visit and see the Cardinal’s month, and find links to other participants.

There are two versions of the challenge:

Version 1 (The Changing Seasons V1):

Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery.
Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.

Version 2 (The Changing Seasons V2):

Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
Each month, post one photo (recipe, painting, drawing, whatever) that represents your interpretation of the month.
Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!

Friday flip through the archives

"And I tell myself it's just a blue day. And it's hard to see it any other way ..." 'Blue Day', Colin Bayley & Murray Burns (1983). B&W shot of unmade bed. Image: Su Leslie, 2015.

“And I tell myself it’s just a blue day. And it’s hard to see it any other way …” Blue Day, Colin Bayley & Murray Burns (1983). Image: Su Leslie, 2015.


It’s 1984 and I’m in a state of metamorphosis. The life I’ve fallen into since leaving my parents’ home has become as constraining and ill-fitting as that which I originally fled.

I cut my hair very short and bleach it very blonde. I acquire a wardrobe of vintage clothes; oversize men’s shirts, pencil skirts and beaded cardigans.

I catch glimpses of an unfamiliar woman in the mirror and wonder why she doesn’t look happy. Some days the world beyond my bed is a void I’m afraid that I will fall into and become lost forever.

I listen to a lot of music. Sometimes it makes me feel better.


“Maybe this good thing’s gonna happen today ..”


Shoppers at Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne. Image: Su Leslie, 2016. Edited with Snapseed.

Last week in Melbourne I was very aware of how being on holiday sets one apart from other people. While I was free from the constraints and rhythms of my normal life, others were going about the everyday business of living; shopping, learning, going to work, attending appointments.


Shoppers in Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne. Image: Su Leslie, 2016. Edited with Snapseed.

On the trams and in the market, I found myself wondering about the lives of my unknown, transitory companions. Are they in work they love? Is there constant anxiety about paying the bills? A sick child? A relationship that exhausts rather than nurtures?


Waiting for a tram, corner Burke and Spencer Streets, Melbourne. Image: Su Leslie, 2016. Edited with Snapseed.

It made me think of Thoreau’s line …

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation, and go to the grave with the song still in them.” — Henry David Thoreau

Which made me think about the artists I know, and how the need to release “their song” is such an imperative. It also got me thinking about public art and how much it enriches us; artists, listeners and viewers, and indeed communities.


Busker, Bourke Street, Melbourne. Image: Su Leslie, 2016. Edited with Snapseed.


Street art, Melbourne. Image: Su Leslie, 2016. Edited with Snapseed.



“Just want to know ya. Just want to talk to ya. I want to hear about your day.”

The opening lines of Bic Runga‘s song Something Good seem particularly appropriate to this post, which has been written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally.


From sport to shopping: two faces of jubilation

The Boy-child with a soccer trophy he won, aged 7. Image: Su Leslie, 2004.

Early soccer victory. The boy-child with Player of the Year trophy. Image: Su Leslie, 2005.

The boy-child has always worn his emotions near the surface. From jubilation to despair, his face seldom conceals his feelings. Capable of very dark moods, moments of happiness are always a pleasure to witness.

Canny shopper. The boy-child was jubilant to find a coveted Louis Vuitton scarf (genuine of course -- yeah, right) at Brick Lane Market, London. Image: Su Leslie, 2015

Canny shopper. The boy-child was jubilant to find a coveted Louis Vitton scarf (genuine of course?) at Brick Lane Market, London. Image: Su Leslie, 2015

NZMM2016_jpgThis post was written for the Daily Post Photo Challenge. This week the theme is jubilant. Trying to capture jubilation in music, two songs came to mind.

Bliss by Th’ Dudes (1980) was written about the drunk audiences the band found itself playing to. Ironically, it has become something of a celebration of drinking culture.

She’s a Mod was was originally recorded by Christchurch band Ray Columbus and the Invaders in 1964, and again in 2009 by The Mint Chicks to celebrate The Invaders induction into the NZ Music Hall of Fame.

NB: I’ve chosen The Mint Chicks’ version here because it’s a fun homage to the original and because Mike Logie, the bass player, was a mentor to my son while he was playing in bands. I have huge respect for Mike’s talent and commitment to encouraging young musicians.


Friday flip through the archives

"The ones who made you, the ones who brought you here ..." (Six60, 'Don't Forget Your Roots'). Image: my dad and little brother, my beloved Uncle Tom and me, Carshalton, UK 1967. Leslie family archive.

“The ones who made you, the ones who brought you here …” (SIX60, ‘Don’t Forget Your Roots’). Image: my dad and little brother, my beloved Uncle Tom and me, Carshalton, UK 1967. Leslie family archive.

NZMM2016_jpgAs part of my focus on NZ Music Month, I’ve discovered some new songs and artists, and been introduced to others by the boy-child.

I particularly liked this song by Dunedin band Six60.  As a family historian, I probably interpret the lyrics slightly differently to how writers Matiu Walters and James Fraser intended, but the key message is the same nonetheless.

As my son increasingly spreads his wings and flies with people outside our family circle, the importance of holding onto the thread of belonging seems more important to me than ever.


Facing up to new faces

Ironic juxtaposition? 'What Makes a Real Aussie?" poster showing 1916 ID photo of Monga Khan from Afghanistan situated next to "NO ENTRY" sign. Image: Su Leslie, 2016.

Ironic juxtaposition? ‘What Makes a Real Aussie?” poster showing 1916 ID photo of Monga Khan from Afghanistan. Image: Su Leslie, 2016.

I saw this poster a few times around Melbourne, and learned that it is part of a campaign called What Makes a Real Aussie?

The aim is not only to highlight modern Australia’s ethnic diversity, but to remind people of a previous immigration policy (finally ended in the 1970s) which sought to exclude non-white Europeans from migrating to Australia.

It follows on from an earlier campaign around the issue of refugees, called Real Australians Say Welcome. Both were created by artist Peter Drew.

It seemed an appropriate image for the Daily Post Photo Challenge this week. Not only does it ask us to consider the faces that make up our nation(s), but is also a reminder that those of us secure in our homes, countries and citizenship need to face up to the terrible worldwide crisis brought about by others being denied these things.

According to UNHCR figures, nearly 60 million people world-wide are currently displaced from their homes, including almost 20 million refugees. Just over half of refugees are under 18. Instead of living as children — playing, learning, growing within the bonds of home and family — these young people are passing their formative years in conditions of extreme uncertainty, dislocation, poverty and danger.

Many countries are grappling with the enormous and complex issues created by displaced populations. Government policies are often divisive. In New Zealand, our government continues to accept a pitifully small number of refugees — all the while talking about the “cost”of resettlement and ignoring the economic and social good brought by accepting skilled, motivated and grateful refugees. This is also the same government that earlier this year spent at least $26 million on a referendum about changing our national flag (in which the majority voted for no change); and $36 million supporting our America’s Cup Challenge. Here’s an interesting piece about this from The Timaru Herald.


Meanwhile, many ordinary New Zealanders — like our cousins across the ditch — want to say “Welcome.”

Today’s NZ Music Month choice is Welcome Home, by Kiwi music legend Dave Dobbyn. Although it was written in 2005, before the current refugee crisis, the lyrics speak even more clearly now.

Tonight I am feeling for you
Under the state of a strange land
You have sacrificed much to be here
‘there but for grace…’ as I offer my hand
Welcome home, I bid you welcome, I bid you welcome
Welcome home from the bottom of my heart


Home, Land and Sea

B&w image of island silhouetted in morning mist. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Early morning, Hobsonville Point. Image: Su Leslie, 2106. Edited with Snapseed.

Home from the energy and bustle of Melbourne, I find myself in need of the moments of quiet to be found on the edge of the Waitemata Harbour that enfolds the place I call home.

Winter is almost here, bringing a dawn that is virutally monochrome — perfect for this week’s black and white theme at Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge.

B& W image. Boats moored off Greenhithe, early morning. Image: Su Leslie, 2016. Edited with Snapseed.

Boats moored off Greenhithe, early morning. Image: Su Leslie, 2016. Edited with Snapseed.

NZMM2016_jpgI couldn’t think of a better song to celebrate my homecoming than Home, Land and Sea, by Wellington band Trinity Roots. Singer Warren Maxwell introduces the song in this video by quite simply saying “this is about our beautiful country, Aotearoa.”

The song’s opening line, “From the tail of the fish to the top” references the Maori creation myth; that Aotearoa New Zealand was fished from the sea by the god Maui. The South Island is his waka (canoe) while the North Island is the fish itself.

Look at a map of the country — it’s not hard to visualise this. Of course, Maori told this story without benefit of written maps, let alone satellite imagery.