Tag Archives: Rangitoto

Sunday Smiles: Knackered by a volcano

Sunday SmilesSo here we are heading into the second week of December, and I’m not entirely sure how that happened – in keeping with the rest of 2012, December seems to be flying by.  And yet it feels like I wrote my last Sunday Smiles post seems an age ago.  I think part of the problem is that I’m utterly knackered this evening and actually struggling to keep my eyes open whilst I type this post (but I’m still forcing myself to do it, otherwise I’ll end up skipping Sunday Smiles on a regular basis, which somewhat defeats the point).

So I’m going to keep it short, and we’re going to head right in to this week’s Sunday Smiles:

  • You know what’s great?  When a teabag makes you smile (minds out of the gutter people).  This week, my camomile tea asked me how I was doing.  Or more specifically: “‘Sup brew?”  As groan-worthy as it may be, it actually made me laugh.

Don't judge me for my terrible sense of humour…

  • The hands-down most exciting thing to happen this week was my mum’s arrival in NZ on Friday.  I haven’t seen her (Skype doesn’t count) since I moved to NZ in February, and she’s here to visit me for three weeks.  Even whilst I was waiting for her at the airport I couldn’t quite believe she was actually finally arriving.  Anyway, this was definitely the highlight of my week and probably explains why last Sunday seems more than a week ago.
  • Today we went on a little expedition to Rangitoto Island, Auckland’s most recent volcano (recent as in 600 or so years ago).  The island is made entirely of volcanic rock, but surprisingly has around 200 species of native plants growing on it, many of them apparently quite rare (I’m very much not a botanist, so I’ll believe the guide books on this one).  Anyway, we climbed to the summit, were treated to some truly stunning views, acquired some super-hot backpack tan lines and ended up thoroughly knackered by the time we got home.  If there are any grammar or spelling errors in this post, or if it quite simply doesn’t make sense, then that’ll be why.  I also haven’t had time to upload all the photos from my camera to my laptop yet, so you’ll have to make to with this particular offering from my phone:

Can you spot the Sky Tower?

  • Rangitoto is also home to the world’s largest pōhutukawa forest, and the pōhutukawas are starting to bloom in earnest.  Since the flowers are red and most abundant around Christmas time, the pōhutukawa is nicknamed the New Zealand Christmas tree, and trees in full bloom really are stunning, particularly in contrast to the black volcanic rock of Rangitoto and the impossibly blue sky and turquoise sea that we were treated to today.

Volcanic rocks, flowering pōhutukawas and beautiful sky – welcome to NZ (on a sunny day in December)

  • And finally, I just love pōhutukawas so much that I’m going to leave you with a close-up of the flowers, which are actually made up of a whole bunch of stamens.  I’m sure that these won’t be the last pōhutukawas to feature in Sunday Smiles

Close-up time!

What made you smile this week?

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Sunday Smiles: A surprise and a relief

We acquired a new labmate this week – a Kiwi guy, which puts him firmly in the minority… twice.  I acquired a sudden keen interest in horse racing which lasted for the whole 3 minutes of the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday.  This may be more to do with the fact that it was an excuse to temporarily escape the lab and watch the race in the nearest pub than anything else.  And I lost $1 because the horse I picked in the sweepstakes didn’t finish anywhere interesting.  I won’t be launching myself into a gambling addiction any time soon.  I’m afraid not many funny things came my way this week, so today’s Sunday Smiles is rather short on content (I’ve made up for that with rambling though…).

On to this week’s (rambly) Sunday Smiles:

  • I went to the Armistice Day memorial service at the Auckland Cenotaph this morning and was rather surprised to discover that Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, were also in attendance.  I knew they were visiting New Zealand as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations but I didn’t think they arrived until next week.  I’m clearly a poorly-informed subject.  They did a little walkabout afterwards and I was just close enough to manage a photo of each of them (I thought it only fair to let veterans get to the front to shake their hands, but apparently not everybody felt that way).  Aside from it being a sombre occasion, it was pretty exciting, I won’t lie.  I think I may be in the minority, but I actually really like Camilla.

  • Speaking of royalty and, by extension, the aristocracy, series three of Downton Abbey came to a close this week.  Goodness, it was a roller-coaster of a season and kind of all over the place, but still totally addictive.  I can’t wait for the Christmas Special!
  • Yesterday I headed across the Waitemata Harbour to Devonport to go climb Mount Victoria and North Head, both volcanoes on the North Shore of Auckland.  They aren’t particularly especially high – at 87m Mount Victoria is the taller of the two – but they make excellent view points, especially of Rangitoto, Auckland’s most recent volcano.  It was wonderfully sunny and warm yesterday so perfect weather for a little picnic lunch on top of a volcano (as you do).

  • I don’t know if you heard, but the US elections were held this week (it wasn’t mentioned much on the news).  Unlike the last elections the time zones were very much in my favour with the results coming in through the day rather than in the middle of the night.  Did you see Chris Rock’s hilarious (and swear-word-containing) endorsement of Obama?  From a rest-of-the-world point of view, I was mightily relieved that Obama has been re-elected.  And I was amused by many of the election-related memes that exploded across the internet, particularly the ones involving Sesame Street.  And then, once the election was called for Obama, we switched to Fox News in the lab, which turned out to be a great source of amusement (I’m a bad person, I know).
  • Still on the topic of the US elections, I can’t remember which of the debates it was but I’m sure you’ve heard of Romney’s infamous “binders full of women” quote.  Not only was it turned into a whole bunch of memes (this is my favourite), but I’ve just discovered that it bubbled over into Amazon’s review section as well.
  • To finish on an uplifting note, though still on the subject of the US election, apparently Obama’s victory Tweet became the most retweeted Tweet ever – a record previously held by… Justin Bieber.  Thank you Obama, perhaps there is some hope for humanity.

What made you smile this week?

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