Sunday, 19 January 2014

Petone to Lowry Bay – and pottery, and music

This past week we had two gorgeous days in a row, so we went cycling on both days. Tuesday’s ride was described in my last blog post. On Wednesday, with our muscles still sore from Tuesday’s effort, we thought we would do an easy, smooth ride on a sealed surface, so we went to Petone, along the foreshore, and we planned to turn around at Point Howard. As it happened, we went a little further, which was a nice bonus. We did just over 14 kms.

Right at the start of the ride, we went onto the Petone Wharf. On such a fine day, in the school holidays, there were a few dads there with their kids, doing a spot of fishing. I was quite taken with the family below, with their little folding chairs, in decreasing sizes, to match the size of the kids. How cute is that!

Dad and the kids – hoping to catch some dinner? (photo by John)

We rode without stopping, along the Petone Esplanade, across the bridge, around Seaview, and past the marina. Looking up at the hillside from there, John commented on the houses clinging to the steep slope, and how foolish people are to build on sites like these. They may have a fabulous view, but, he says, “how do they think the cliff got there in the first place?”. Land crumbles from below and collapses. Is that what will happen to these residences eventually?

One of the houses clinging to the cliff-face above Point Howard (photo by John)

On to Point Howard. There, to my surprise, I found that the gate to the wharf was locked in such a position as to leave a gap for pedestrians and cyclists to go through, and there was a sign prohibiting access to cars. So of course we ventured onto the wharf to take a look. It’s always interesting to see things from a different perspective.

From the end of the Point Howard Wharf

The pipelines coming off the oil terminal wharf (photo by John)

This was how far we had ridden on previous jaunts. This time we decided to keep going around the coast road towards Eastbourne. We hadn’t tried this before because the space for cycling is only demarcated by a broken yellow line, and the space between the line and the water’s edge is not very wide.

On the rocks below the road, I spotted some oyster catchers. That’s the beauty of cycling. You would not be likely to see this kind of detail when you are whizzing past in a car. And even if you did, you wouldn’t be able to stop in a hurry to take a photo.

Oyster catchers

We stopped at a seat under a tree just at the entrance to Lowry Bay. There, John took some good photos of our bikes, for his technical page about the bikes.

We sat in the shade of this tree for a bit

Our bikes, with the Point Howard oil terminal wharf in the background (photo by John)

From here we were able to have a close look at the brightly coloured boatshed that always catches my eye when we drive past here.

The entrance to Lowry Bay

John by the colourful boatshed at Lowry Bay

This brightly dressed angler was fishing off the rocks by the boatshed

A bit further along, in the middle of the sweep of Lowry Bay, was the “iconic” white boatshed (I actually don’t much like the word iconic – it gets used too much but it seems appropriate in this case). This protected historic building is the subject of many a photograph and painting.

It was built in 1906, originally without building consent, and the Wellington Harbour Board warned the owners numerous times to remove it, but they ignored it. Eventually it was listed by the Historic Places Trust as an historic building, and in 1988 the then owner gifted it to the Hutt City Council. It was severely damaged by a storm in 2004, so it was removed, new foundations were built and it was placed back and repaired in 2005. There is more about the building’s history here.

The historic Lowry Bay Boatshed (photo by John)

From here, the road verge reserved for cyclists petered out to just a broken yellow line, mere inches from the water's edge, so we turned around. At Seaview, John spotted a decoration on the wall of one of the storage sheds which made him smile.

The frog seems to be leaping out of the ute! (photo by John)

Near the bridge over the exit of the Waiwhetu Stream into the Hutt River, I looked at some black swans, preening. They are so graceful on the water, but look so awkward on land. I was amazed at how the swan in the foreground was contorting his neck to get at his tail feathers!

Swans preening

We pedalled without stopping till we got back to the far end of Petone. We rode an extra little loop to see if there was anything interesting going on at the Water Ski Club, but all we saw was a jetski being launched. The woman that we had seen water-skiing was just coming ashore, and didn’t look as if she was going to do more.

A jetski is launched, while another is already roaring around in the background

On the way home, we dropped in to my sister’s, as she had suggested we come and take a look at her latest handiwork. We found her in the garden, putting some extra touches to her monumental project: a mosaic couch!

Aimée’s mosaic couch

This project has been a long time in the making. A few years ago, the family couch needed replacing, and so rather than taking the old one to the tip, she had it put in the garden. Then she, a neighbour and I spent a day covering the whole thing in concrete! That was quite a feat.

The mosaic design – consisting of broken bits of her own pottery, pieces of commercial tiles, and bits of mirror – was glued onto netting by Aimée and a potting friend, Jan. They weren’t able to apply it to the couch at the time, so the mosaic netting lay under the bed for several years, gathering dust. Finally, this summer, Jan came to stay again, and together they continued the masterpiece.

The back of the couch is still to be covered in mosaic, and the grouting still has to be done. Hopefully, Aimée and her cat Pixie will be able to lounge on it before the summer is out! The paua shells at the base are part of the design, but the bricks aren’t! They are just holding the paua in place while the glue sets.

After a glass of wine and some nibbles, we went down to her showroom, to see her latest offerings (and for me to select a bowl for my breakfast!). She will be having an open weekend on 22 and 23 February, from 11am to 5pm, at 35 Huntleigh Park Way, Ngaio. All are welcome. Do bring your wallet or chequebook!

Aimee will also have a stall at both Martinborough Fairs, on Saturday 1 February, and Saturday 1 March.

The showroom of potter (and my sister) Aimée McLeod. Come and check out her Open Weekend in February

Finally for this blog post, something completely unrelated to cycling. In the evening, we attended a free concert in the Soundshell of the Wellington Botanic Gardens. The Wellington City Shake Em On Downers, a Dixieland jazz band, was performing New Orleans and Chicago favourites, as part of the Summer City Gardens Magic events. I love Dixieland jazz and I was really glad that it was a fine night for an outdoor concert. The music was great!

The lawn in front of the stage was packed, as were the hillsides overlooking it. It looked like many people had arrived straight after work, with their picnic rugs and baskets, and their bottles of wine. Right by the front of the stage keen people were dancing to the toe-tapping music.

The Wellington City Shake Em On Downers in the Botanic Gardens (photo by John)

The concert was very well attended (photo by John)

Before the end of the concert, when it was almost dark, we wandered through the gardens to enjoy the special lighting. We could still hear the music, by the time we got back to the car.

Plastic flowers, made by children at the Teddy Bears’ Picnic a week ago, decorate a tree in the Louis Braille Garden, below the Treehouse (photo by John) 

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