Sunday, 29 September 2013

Petone Foreshore and Pottery Exhibition

Last Thursday (26 September) was a busy day. In the morning I went to visit my sister’s pottery exhibition in the Thistle Hall Gallery at the top of Cuba Street. And in the afternoon John and I went for a 27 km bike ride along Petone Foreshore and up the Hutt River trail. Then in the evening I went to my regular Scottish Country Dance club night. So by the end of the day, the old undercarriage (feet, knees and thighs) ached a bit.

My sister, Aimée McLeod, is a well-respected, professional Wellington potter. She has been potting for over twenty years. She first learned her craft in Japan, and has a Certificate of Craft Design (a two-year course) from Whitireia Polytechnic, and a Diploma of Art (Ceramics) – four years part-time by “distance mode” – from Australia National University, Canberra.

“Amaze/Aimée’s" Pottery Exhibition in the Thistle Hall Gallery

The exhibition is titled “Amaze/Aimée’s” – a play on words, as the two words are pronounced the same. One of Aimée’s bugbears is that her name is often mispronounced as “Amy”. It is a French name, which should be pronounced “Emmay” or like the initials “MA” (as for the degree Master of Arts).

Aimée’s work is very versatile, ranging from domestic ware – cups, mugs, plates, bowls; to decorative platters – some with carved details inspired by Polynesian designs, some with just awesome glazes; to large hand-built sculptural creations.

Domestic ware - mugs bowls and platters

More domestic ware

Japanese-style glazed bowls

"Sgraffito" platter and saucers, and carved porcelain cups

"Gastropods" on the left, and "The Head Honcho" on the right

I love the colours in this platter

The exhibition is on until 3pm on Sunday 29 September. If you’ve missed it, you can still see her work at her Open Studio Sale Weekend on 23 and 24 November. She also has a stall at the Thorndon Fair in early December. A very good place to start for your Christmas shopping! Check out Aimée’s website here.

While I was at the Thistle Hall Gallery, I held the fort for half an hour, so that Aimée could run an errand. During this time, I had a phone call from John suggesting we should go for a bike ride since it was a beautiful day. So as soon as Aimée was back, I tootled off home, to scoff a quick lunch before going out again. BUT, once home, I discovered I still had the gallery key in my pocket. What a dope! So we had to return it before we could go on our ride.

We decided to ride along the Petone Foreshore, and to carry on up the Hutt River trail. We have ridden both those areas before, so we didn’t spend too much time stopping and taking photographs. We wanted to get a good few kilometres under our belt. Still, there are always sights or views which merit a photo.

Right at the start of the foreshore, there is a gravel path between the beach and the road. A nice place to take a walk, with places to sit at intervals.

A nice place to enjoy the sun. The Petone Wharf is in the background (photo by John)

Soon the track petered out and we rode on the wide Esplanade foot/cycle path. Near the Rowing Club there is a weathervane in the shape of a flying fish, on top of a post. When we started our ride, the wind was coming from the south. By the time we came back this way, the vane had turned, as the wind was coming from the north-west.

Flying fish weather vane

At the end of the foreshore, the path goes around the point at the mouth of the Hutt River. Then the narrow gravel track leads through a small park, to end up just before the Waione Street Bridge. There is a signpost pointing the way to the “Estuary Boardwalk”, along the wetlands below the road. John ventured down there, but as it was narrow and winding, and without edges – a sure recipe for a mishap, I thought – I chickened out and kept going on the footpath towards the bridge.

The Estuary Boardwalk, near the Waione Street Bridge (photo by John)

The track carries on under the bridge and beyond, but John only followed it for a short distance. He ended up walking, as biking was a bit dodgy – just as I thought it would be. Then to get back to the road, where I was waiting for him, before the bridge, he had to carry his bike up the steps.

John had to carry his bike up the steps

Once across on the other side of the river, we looped back to the track that goes under the bridge, to follow the Hutt River Trail. This is a lovely smooth path, and one can pick up a bit of speed (I’m getting good a this now!).

There is a place where the river appears to split into two streams. I wondered whether there might be a sidestream joining the river, but we could see no evidence of that. There is a finger of land, pointing downstream, with a culvert at the top end which probably has the function of diverting some of the water, when the level gets too high. It looks like the water level at the top of the finger is higher in the river than in the sidestream.

A ‘finger’ of land. Note the difference in water level at the top of the finger (photo by John)

A bit further along, the path goes under a railway bridge, and as we were going under it, a train came chugging very slowly over it. I think it was going so slowly because some maintenance people were working on it.

The train chugged very slowly across the bridge

The track meanders along the river’s edge, and evidence that spring is definitely here is showing in the fully greened-up willows. In some places the gravel track had muddy patches and puddles, as we'd had a few days of heavy rain earlier in the week.

Freshly mown grass and green willows – Spring! (photo by John)

When we had covered 13kms, we were at the level of Fraser Park, and here we decided to cross the road, to get onto the smooth cycle path on the top of the stopbank for our return trip, and thus avoid the puddles and mud. Near the former TV studios at Avalon, the rain had left rather large puddles in the sportsfield behind the stopbank, which seemed to have attracted the local seagull population.

The seagulls liked the puddles left after several days of heavy rain (photo by John)

From here we continued without stopping until we got back to Petone. And as the path was smooth and flat, I ventured into using my sixth and seventh gears, which, so far, I hadn’t actually used. My bike has seven gears, and after a discussion some days earlier about the merits of seven versus 21 gears, I thought I should try using my higher gears.

It was a revelation, an epiphany! I discovered that I was able to cover more ground, in less time, for less effort! What a thrill! I was flying along. I was actually able to keep up with John!

Now most cyclists worth their salt will probably be scathing about how dumb I am. How could anyone not know that? Well, my excuse is that I am not mechanically minded, and I’d never stopped to think it through. Duh!

I asked John why he’d never mentioned it, and his reply was “Well, some things you should discover for yourself”. Gee, thanks a lot, John!

Actually, he has tried to explain how gears work – many, many times, he says – but my mind switches off when he comes over all scientific. And really, in the back of my mind, I did know and understand the relationship between little cogs and big cogs, etc. I just never applied that to biking or to the amount of effort needed. So he was quite right in saying I should find out for myself.

And so we raced along till we got to the dairy on the Petone Esplanade, where we stopped for a well-earned icecream cone. Another little detour onto the Petone Wharf – which is 400 meters long – to make up the final kilometer on our counters, making up the day’s cycling total to 27 kms.

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