27 March, 2011

A weekend in Auckland PART II of III

Auckland Day 2
Spotting, Scenery and Sunsets

The day started with an early morning, as we had heard that the NZ A320 ZK-OAB was to be depart Auckland for Wellington at 7am. OAB is a special livery aircraft for the All Blacks Rugby, and it is a fantastic scheme. HERE is a short video about the painting of the aircraft (check out how they get it OUT of the Hanger!). It was dark, and we were on the road to the airport. We were told that the multi-story carpark would be a possibility, so that's where we headed.

I tried a couple of 'test shots', in an attempt to get settings right, but even still, it was difficult lighting/conditions (lots of light poles) for it... But here are the 'test shots' and OAB on its departure.


So after its departure, we got some breakfast (the hotel breakfast wasn't much) and then headed over to the dedicated spotting area for the day. It was a great day, blue skies, clear and a really nice temperature (although, a degree or two more could have been nicer!)... Here are some pics...

Spotting NZ744

We went and got lunch late in the day, and when we got back, there was a local radio station looking for a location to do some promotional work. They almost ALWAYS seem to have a good looking chick at these things, and on this occasion, it was most CERTAINLY the case! Not sure as to why, but they do. So, I went over and asked if they are owned by the same company as our 2DayFM/MMM in Sydney, and oddly enough, they were and the girl had done some dealings with our very own Hamish & Andy! After a couple of minutes, she gave me some samples, Usher aftershave, a magazine and some Chocolate Sauce (and some stickers as well). After a short time, a 'Mr Whippy' van also turned up, and they were giving out ice-creams to everyone as well!

ZM's Mr Whippy
ZK-NBT Arrival
Moo Smile

We then headed back into town (via One Tree Hill) to get some headache pills as my headache was getting unbearable... I have been having these headaches for a couple of weeks now of varying intensities, but today's was just about as much as I could bare. I was beginning to feel nauseous, and even suggested to J that he might have to take over the driving duties! I eventually found a Chemist in the Newmarket area, on the way into Auckland. We went to the top of One Tree Hill, which you can clearly see both Auckland City in one direction and the Airport behind us. It gives a great perspective of the city as a whole...

Auckland City
Sir John Logan Campbell Kt

We then headed into the city, through Parnell and we stopped where L and I had discovered the Cat Lady of Auckland back in 2006. It is a nice location, and gave us a vista over the city with the sun setting behind, giving a silhouette effect.

AKL Sunset

I then had to remember the way through the city and onto the freeway and then over the Harbour Bridge for the North Shore. This would give us a great overview of the city for a nice night shot. We passed a spot that gave a nice outlook, but in an attempt to get both the city AND the rising moon (which was at its largest since 1992) we got a little off the beaten track, and found ourselves somewhere (but not lost) where the city had disappeared. So we headed back to the freeway, managed a different exit to do a U-Turn and back to a foreshore location. It was now very dark and after tending to some nature, set up the tripod and got some shots. I got both the city AND the moon!

AKL Night
19032011 Moon AKL

Then, it was time to head back to the city (headache getting worse again) to get some dinner. I got us back to the fish markets, as I recalled a great fish 'n' chip place there. But, by the time we got in, it had closed, but we did find a really nice Chinese place. There was also 4 Ferrari's parked here, Red, Yellow, Black and a Gun Metal coloured one. It made for some great photography as well! Food was excellent, company as well, and of course, we had both overeaten!

As it was going to be a very early start in the morning to head down to Rotorua, we headed back to the hotel for some shut eye...

Part III of III will be up sometime tomorrow...

Hoo roo for now...


Saturday - Movie and dinner

Yesterday, which seemed to be passing as just another day, ended up being something of a great afternoon! I have had the last week off, mainly due to high blood pressure (and yes, its STILL high this morning), so I've spent a lot of time doing nothing and resting at home. So it was good to be going out for a change! The choice of the afternoon's entertainment, a movie "The Rite".

It was a great movie actually, but I could not help but recollect the many similarities to Anthony Hopkins performance in "Silence of the Lambs"!

"The battle against the Devil, which is the principal task of Saint Michael the Archangel, is still being fought today, because the Devil is still alive and active in the world." -Pope John Paul II "The Rite" is a supernatural thriller that uncovers the Devil's reach to even one of the holiest places on Earth. Inspired by true events, the film follows seminary student Michael Kovak (Colin O'Donoghue), who is sent to study exorcism at the Vatican in spite of his own doubts about the controversial practice and even his own faith. Wearing his deep skepticism like armor, Michael challenges his superiors to look to psychiatry, rather than demons, in treating the possessed. Only when he's sent to apprentice with the unorthodox Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins)--a legendary priest who has performed thousands of exorcisms--does Michael's armor begin to fall. As he is drawn into a troubling case that seems to transcend even Father Lucas's skill, he begins to glimpse a phenomenon science can't explain or control...and an evil so violent and terrifying that it forces him to question everything he believes.

After the movie, we went (again) to La Mono for a 'Leb Dinner'... It is always great to go there, food, company and so on! I also got to meet two of M's friends from uni, N (who I'd met once before) and A who, well... was 'interesting'! But still it was a good night all the same!

We said our goodbyes (N&A going out to a pub) and headed for home. I was tired, headache and fuzziness so I wasn't going anywhere, so we quickly watched a little of the Election Wrap up ('interesting'?) in between the movie, The Da Vinci Code. But as it was getting late, M headed home and I went straight to bed, and I think I was asleep before I hit the pillow!

Hoo roo for now...


26 March, 2011

A weekend in Auckland PART I of III

Sydney - Auckland EK412 Emirates A380 A6-EDC

Well yes, ok it has been a while, but this weekend was hectic enough... Throw in a major headache, and it made it even worse, but I got through it all... Just!We arrived at the International departures at Sydney Airport early. There was both J and myself going to Auckland, but N was leaving the same day to Vietnam via Singapore. His flight was leaving 30 minutes after ours... Or so we thought! It was not to long later when entering the Emirates Lounge, we were told that our flight would be delayed due to its inbound also being late! Oh well, more time to enjoy the lounge, right!

We entered the lounge, got a couple of seats that outlooked over onto the ramp, and then hit the food. It was an interesting array of hot foods, Western and Middle East, there was also cereals, fresh fruit, juices, coffee/teas, and of course, champagne and drinks! Here is my breakfast.

Breakfast Emirates Lounge
Emirates Lounge Sydney
Emirates Lounge Sydney Entrance

We arranged to meet back up with N prior to his boarding, now that he's leaving before us, and we said our goodbyes. It was at this stage, we walked up to our departure gate (lots of people after all, it was an A380) and we saw the flight crew sitting waiting as well. We politely asked if it was possible to visit the flight deck upon arrival into Auckland, to which we were welcomed without any problems!

Our flight was called, and being a Gold Skywards Member, I could board at anytime, through a dedicated line, even though we were travelling in Economy on the way over! This was not my first EK A380 flight, but for J it was on both counts. I had organised a window seat each, just forward of the wing. It wasn't too long, and we had started our pushback...

16R Holding

There was stormy clouds about Sydney this morning, and our departure took us off 16R and on an almost straight heading across the Tasman Sea. Flight time was a relative short 2.35 hours! We were soon served our breakfast; for me I had the Cheese Omelet while J had the mixed grill. Mine had potatoes, mushrooms and a capsicum sauce. It was very good! There was also a croissant and a fruit bowl.

EK412 Breakfast
Cheese Omelet Mushrooms
A6-EDC Econ Interior
A6-EDC Mid Galley

Our arrival into Auckland took us on a downwind leg in-between Auckland City and the airport, a right hand turn for a final over Manuka and not to long afterwards, touchdown into Auckland, which was very much like we had left Sydney, cloudy! A short taxi to the gate, maybe 10 minutes, and it had started to POUR!

Before we got off the flight, the cabin staff took us up to the First Class Suites, and also showed us the First Class Shower. Again, whilst I had seen/experienced this before, it was still very good to see it again.

EK A380 First Suites (Credit - J Laing)
A6-EDC First Shower

We then headed up to the 'Office', where the Captain was waiting for us, the First Officer who actually flew the leg, had already left the office, but was waiting in the entrance of the aircraft. The Captain was great, we were there for a while, and whilst I sensed our stay was becoming onerous, he still answered questions and allowed us to get a photo in the 'Left Seat'

A380 Left Seat (Credit - J Laing)

Immigration was painless, as with collecting the car. Finding the hotel though, was a little less easy as I took a turn one street to soon, but painless all the same! As we had arranged earlier to meet up with D, we quickly got our bearings and went for a short drive (in the pouring rain) before heading back to meet up. We headed into the Auckland Pier for a couple of beers, before getting geographically challenged to the Angus Steakhouse for dinner. J had a 1.3kg steak, D an Eye Fillet, whilst I opted for the Lamb Rack (what ELSE would you have in NZ?) which was AMAZING! We had a great night chatting about lots of stuff, and then headed back to the hotel (more chatting in the lobby) and to bed...

Angus Steak House AKL
Lamb Rack

So, that's part one, I will get parts two and three up as soon!

Hoo roo for now...


12 March, 2011

A day of paint 'n' bake!

My day started today with a little trip, to Baiada Chickens to get some supplies for my birthday lunch. I did, however, stop along the way to have a coffee with a mate! I still like going to Baiada, its good fresh chickens that are very VERY cheap!

After getting my chicken, then went home to mow the lawns before it got to hot and also before it (as forecasted) rained! Alas, the later never really happened, and by he end of it all, I was really hot and sweaty, so I showered and cooled down!

I then got stuck into painting, I had the area in the veranda to do, balustrade, posts lintels and window/door frames! I got ALL of these done, however whilst painting the pressed metal roofing, which seemed to take forever, I did not have the time to do all of the remaining windows... Another day!

This evening saw me heading down to Woolworths, local grocery store, where I got some more bits and pieces for tomorrow party; cheeses, and some fruit for a slice I was to make. I also washed the Murano Glass that was a little dusty after the point work! I even managed to get some dinner (and a beer) at around 8.30-9pm!

Now, the slice is a borrowed recipe, but here it is... I used fresh fruit, Pineapple, Banana & Blueberries, and tomorrow just prior to serving it, I will include the first of the Passionfruits from this years crop!

Make a crust base.

  • Butter Pound Cake mix (DON'T MIX)
  • 1 cup of coconut
  • 125grms butter

Combine the ingredients, and then press into a pan 'forking' over the base. Bake in oven for 20 mins at 160c


  • Thin sliced Pineapple, thin sliced Banana 1/2 tub Blueberries
  • Small tub of Sour Cream
  • 2 Eggs
  • Cinnamon Sugar

Layer fruit, randomly for colour distribution. Beat two eggs until just combined, and then combine into sour cream. Then pour the mixture OVER the fruit, and sprinkle Cinnamon Sugar over top and bake for 20-30 mins at 180c.

Slice Base
Fruit for Slice
Fruit Slice almost ready
Finished Fruit Slice

I'll let you know tomorrow how it turned out!

Hoo roo for now...


Happy birthday to me...

This was meant to have been posted on Thursday, but for various reasons, I was unable to post it, so here it is now...

My birthday has again, come and gone... It was going to be a good day, I was sure of it! But alas, it was not... After my visit to the Dentist on Wednesday (and THAT is another story), I had discovered that the pump in the spa had to be replaced so on my way to work I stopped into the pool shop with the pump I had removed... Just after leaving the shop, my neighbour called me with some very bad news, that one of our neighbours son had died in a diving accident... My day was not going well...

Work was ok, kept me busy, but the best part of the day, was catching up with A and Miss 3.5 E for lunch! As I was walking down to their car, Miss E was SOOO excited, she was jumping up and down. When I got to her, I got THE best hug and was told, "We have something for you, but I want the blue one"! So cute! We had lunch at the 'Poolside Cafe' at the Andrew Boy Charlton Pool, which was lovely! It is amazing who you meet and what you talk about, but a random lady there, with her mother, was doing an IVF cycle, and today Saturday, she is having her transfer... I hope she has success!

Miss E Blue Cupcake

It was after lunch, that the day got worse, after hearing of the sudden loss of my cousin, Rodney... He was a bit of a trouble young man, and his loss will be great, but I am sure he is now in a better place... RIP Rod!

The night though, really was the best part of the day, with being taken to dinner, La Mono of course! Jay came over home and gave me his present, little bugger had WAY TO MUCH TAPE on it and it took a while to open, but it was a great gift!

Present time
Present time

So Jay and I got there first waited for Mel to arrive after Uni... We chatted and when she arrived, with presents as well we ordered dinner... Chicken, Kafta, Shish Kebab and some chips... Of, and the Garlic Dip as well, YUMMO!! It is a great location, very relaxing, and to eat you get a bit of leb bread, smother it with garlic dip, and put on what you want (chicken, chips and a bit of kafta is great!)! And my present from Mel (and parents) consisted of various chocolates and lollies with a Gold Class movie ticket!! I also got a new bracelet (from Mel) to wear as well... Thanks guys!

But I was beginning to sense something was up... There was no dessert menu's coming out, and suddenly the lights went out... OMG, they had a cake (even though I was asked if I like chocolate)! Little buggers!

Thank you SO much guys for making my day...

I am having family over tomorrow for a Sunday BBQ, so I am sure there will be more photos from then!

Hoo roo for now...


10 March, 2011

Two years ago today...

Time, roughly 3.45am, Lou was awake, restless and anxious... She woke me, accidently of course, and headed off to the bathroom with the PG Test stick in hand. It was still a little early, day 10 and not due to go back to IVF until the 13th, but test she did...


WHAT a great birthday present I got that year, a positive, Louise was pregnant... Oh how it should have been oh so different...

Hoo roo for now...


09 March, 2011

WW No. 45 - Macro

Macro Rose

Rose Macro 1

Hoo roo for now...


08 March, 2011

What a day...

It all started early, VERY early... I was meeting up with a photographer mate of mine to get a shot of the latest logo jet, and thanks to the M5 motorway, I barely made it! I mean, I got there with like 15 minutes or so to spare, but, I would have liked to have gotten there just a little earlier... Anyway, I got the shot...


then, when I got to work, I found that my computer (replaced on Monday) did not have the software sent down overnight like it was supposed to. So a follow up call to IT, and by about 2.30pm, finally it was almost there after three weeks of 'issues'!

So by the time it came to heading home, I was SO looking forward to getting home, there was traffic issues almost right from the city... This was going to be a long drive...

In other news, its now 10 days (AKL) and 29 days (LHR & BRU)!

Hoo roo for now...