My house is close to the top of what would be called a pass if these hills were mountains. To the north there is a steep downhill to the City and harbor waterfont. To the south, a long slow downhill to the southern coast of the North Island. This is the road I took yesterday.
The road itself runs down a steep sided valley, the bottom portion of which bears the title 'Happy Valley' for no readily apparent reason. The top portion of it seems to be one of those bits of semirural land turning inevitably into suburbia. The steepness of the hillsides seems to lead to three main schools of architectural thought: the pompous, the clingy and the bloody minded.
The pompous balance their interchangeable mansions on the top of the hills, playing 'I'm king of the castle' with their neighbours, with no thought for their vehicular fuel bills. Maybe they all telecommute.
The clingy houses attach precariously with timber and concrete to their near vertical sites on the walls of the valley, on the landscape, but seeming not really part of it. One imagines the inhabitants abseiling from washing line to back door to carpark.
The bloody-minded bring in the diggers (and possibly the explosives) and damn well -make- a place for themselves. One favorite was a slot cut in at road level containing a residence constructed from three shipping containers stacked and painted gunmetal grey. This was not nearly as unattractive as it sounds.
At the bottom of Happy Valley Road is Owhiro Bay. Owhiro Bay is nothing if not the most super-cute little seaside village ever over a little pebbly beach. I satisfied my inner hunter/gatherer by searching for worn pieces of bottle glass and cats eyes amongst the pebbles. They may end up as part of a craft project at some stage, or they may not....
Island Bay is the next bay around from Owhiro Bay, and provided more food for architectural musings. It is capital 'T' Trendy, and you can almost hear the discussions of 'unique site' and 'rugged individualism' and 'interesting challenge' which have lead to such things as a pile of colourful boxes set at odd angles, several tiers of curved decks somewhat reminiscent of the back end of a man'o'war, and my favorite, a square stone watchtower, only with windows rather more generous than arrow slits. Island Bay would be a pretty cool place to live, except for the fact that the cliffs that these houses are built against face due south. It must be brutal during winter storms.
Also interesting is the comparison between the older and newer houses. (To be continued.)
After a pie and a drink, consumed while considering the fate of jellyfish, I found a bus back into town.
On Sunday, a rather lesser mission as my knees were still recovering from Saturday's walk, I engaged the more disciplined part of my character and went once more down the hill on the city side to the Sunday vege-market on Victoria St. I have decided to purchase one vegetable each week that I havn't prepared before. Last week it was bamboo shoots.
Bamboo shoots need to be boiled vigourously for ~20 minutes to remove bitterness, after which they have a very slightly green flavor. Nice texture, and an interesting shape if you cut the stems crosswise. They went in the mixed vege stir fry.
This week I bought a fennel bulb, which was cheating slightly as I know they don't require any prep other than being sliced up, and I already know that I like the flavor. The bulb still had the feathery leafy bits attached, and they stuck up out of my bag smelling like an Auckland wasteland on a hot summer day. (Um - this is a good thing!)