Friday, November 30, 2012

JA 1240 "Jessica"

Saturday last I was out side hanging washing and I heard the sound of what I thought was a steam train.


I thought if there was a steam train coming through town we would have heard about it.
But it sounded again.
Checking out on the front deck sure enough there was a steam train stopped down on the railway tracks and it was letting off steam.
I hesitated and so ended up being too slow I later discovered, but I had grabbed my camera and headed for the car. By the time I got down to the tracks the train had moved off.
So what does one do when its a beautiful day and you could just do with a bit of train spotting?

Well.... you chase the train, of course.

So I zoomed into Putaruru, passing the little bus that was taking passengers on a train chasing trip from Matamatm to Tokoroa - they had to pay.

I managed to get into town and near the tracks just as JA 1240 "Jessica" was coming into to Putaruru.
Unfortunately she wasn't stopping at the station so never slowed down but I managed three pics as she raced by.

Train stoker and Driver

The steam train was put on for the Waikato Explorer - Heritage Steam Train Excursion.  
Other photos of the journey can be found here

The locomotive has just come out of a six year restoration and, based at the Glenbrook Vintage Railway, near Waiuku in South Auckland, it traveled from Papakuru through the Waikato to Tokoroa with several stops along the way to fill its water tanks, refill with coal, excursions for the passengers along with other reasons.

With over a hundred years of experience between them, the drivers Bryan Campbell and Neville Simplins said it was a real thrill taking the old girl out. It was the first mainline excursion for JA 1240 since being fully restored by the Mainline Steam Heritage Trust and the trip was organised by New Zealand Rail Enthusiasts.

Hillside JA's
JA 1240 "Jessica" was preserved by Blenheim man Peter Coleman, and was stored serviceable at his Blenheim property. In 1988 after his death, JA 1240 was purchased by Ian Welch, and in 1990 traveled to Mainline Steam's Parnell Depot. This locomotive's restoration for mainline use (as a coal burner) has been completed, and will be based in Christchurch. It has been named after one of owner Ian Welch's granddaughters.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Solar Eclipse

According to Wikipedia...

Solar eclipse A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes in front of the Sun as seen from the Earth. The type of solar eclipse event depends on the distance of the Moon from the Earth during the event. A total solar eclipse occurs when the Earth intersects the umbra portion of the Moon's shadow. When the umbra does not reach the surface of the Earth, the Sun is only partially occulted, resulting in an annular eclipse. Partial solar eclipses occur when the viewer is inside the penumbra.

Did you get that?
No neither did I!
In other words...
As seen from the Earth, a solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth, and the Moon fully or partially blocks the Sun. In a total eclipse, the disk of the Sun is fully obscured by the Moon. In partial and annular eclipses only part of the Sun is obscured.

As reported from Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand :


There are four eclipses predicted for 2012, two each of the Sun and Moon. Of there three are visible from New Zealand, although very little change will be visible during one of the lunar. eclipses. The second solar eclipse in November will be total, but only visible as partial from New Zealand, although seen as a very deep eclipse from the far north. The first solar eclipse in May is annular, visible across the north Pacific Ocean...

The second solar eclipse is on November 13. This is total, but the path of totality crosses even less land than May's annular eclipse. It starts at dawn in the north of Northern Australia. After crossing the Gulf of Carpentaria and York Peninsula including Cairns, the total eclipse path then heads across the southern Pacific, touching no further land.

So that meant I was going to go out to take pics. Now I know you cannot look at the sun or watch it but if I just held up the camera and aimed surely I would get some photos. 
Hmm... well not so, but I am pleased to say I did get one or two out of the twenty or so I took!

At first I thought if I stood in the shade and stuck my hand and camera out I could just take pics of the sun. Well sure that happened but all you see is this.

First pic was at 9.10 when the eclipse was starting

As the morning progressed, I went to work and was soon thinking wow this is going to be great, its getting duller already.

I went outside to take another pic only to be greeted with this.
No wonder the sun wasn't shinning as bright - the clouds had arrived. These were not in the weather report, or were they?
How was I going to take photos now?

I actually felt disappointed. I was thinking I was going to do a blog entry and it was going to be so cool with all my photos!

I waited for a bit to see if I could grab a moment when the sun peeped between some clouds.
Unfortunately the odd time that happened and I managed to take a shot I still just got a glare of sun and no indication of an event of any sort.

The whole idea was rapidly going down hill.

In the end with the need of getting on with my work and not having to stay too long after 12.00 I just snapped away at the sunny hoping that something would come out of a photo.

I got home and checked out the TVNZ website to see what photos others had taken and soon discovered that having the clouds was a bonus. I wondered if I had any shots like some of theirs.

And to my surprise I discovered when I cropped the pics down I had some almost as good.

Original pic

 So thanks to the clouds here I my pics of the eclipse.

 November 14th 2012
My best November 14th 2012
My best - touched up

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Italian Wedding

As I have recently read a Nicky Pellegrino book that I enjoyed I felt I was going to like this one too.

The Italian Wedding also boasts a subtitle reading: “Two feuding families, two love stories and a feast of delicious Italian food”.

Beppi Martinelli is an Italian, married to an Englishwoman and living in London with his wife and two young adult daughters. He owns a restaurant called Little Italy and the younger of his two daughters works with him, while the other, the principal character in the novel, Pieta, is a designer of bridal gowns. The Martinellis are a typical Italian family: fighting, eating and loving in equal measure. The younger sister is soon to be married and Pieta, since she is a bridal designer, is of course making the gown. But Pieta is distracted by a series of mysteries and unanswered questions. Why is her father feuding with another Italian in the neighbourhood? Why is her mother so troubled, faded and sad? And could the man she's always held a torch and secretly cared for really be getting married to someone else? Beppi, after anarguement with his youngest daughter has a heart attack and is in hospital. As Pieta stitches and beads her sister's wedding gown her mother helps so they can both be distracted with Beppi's health issues. In the course of their time together she uncovers the secrets that have made her family what it is and that stand between her and happiness. 
Her mother tells her how she came to hitch-hike to Rome all those years before where she met and fell in love and married Beppi and how she eventually persuaded him to return to London with her. As the wedding draws nearer, Pieta uncovers the secrets that have made her family what it is – and may stand between her and happiness. 
So there are two stories running parallel through the novel, stories of two generations of the Martinelli family. They are stories of feasts of food (lots of food) and love, family feuds, cultural dislocations and generational differences. It's about discovering who your parents really are. And who you really want to be. 
Nicky dedicates this book to her parents who on the face of it sound very much like Beppi & Caterina Martinelli though in her postscript she states that while her parents’ story is the base that gave the book its flavor Beppi and Caterina are not her mother and father.

In real life though her mother did hitch-hike to Italy with her girlfriends where she met her future husband in Rome and took him home to the UK.
Later Nicky was born and her father, clearly a skilled chef, (Beppi’s recipes in the book are apparently her father’s recipes), instilled in her a passion for food and taught her what all Italians know that you live to eat instead of eating to live.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Yates Vegie Growing Challenge - Part 2

As in a previous post I mentioned I had joined the Yates Vegie Growing Challenge. The entries have closed now so its on to getting things growing and completed.

And so to get into the digging of the garden. The first meter was pretty easy as it was an area that had been used the year before for an unsuccessful garden and it wasn't too densely overgrown.

The surprise with all that was the discovery of some carrots still growing. Some had gone to seed but the rest were edible and we have eaten most of them now.

No sooner had I started digging over the new turf, the hens decided this was an easy way to get in and scratch for bugs, worms and seeds.

Sure this is a great way to keep the weeds down and the bugs away but its not good when you are planting out seeds and new seedlings.

But I'm determined to get the gardens going again this season.

Somewhere there was a netting frame Harry had made up one year and this was going to be the solution to seed planting until the plants were established.

I found this and proceeded to plant out carrots, radishes, beetroot, parsnips and dwarf beans, both butter and green.
It seemed to be a race as to who was going to get there first; the hens or me with the netting cover.

Fortunately it was me so they are all safely underneath.