Month in Review: August 2017

September, and here that means the beginning of spring, not autumn. Not sure I’ll ever get used to this. In other news…

Life

No dramatic life-announcements this month, just further developments on the home-making front. We started going to a pub quiz, so it feels like normal life has really been resumed now. Maybe that is a dramatic life-announcement?

I’ve been doing a fair bit of walking on the port hills now that the weather is a bit calmer, and it’s nice enough to sit outside enjoying a coffee and the view from the cafe at the top. Spring has really sprung this last week or two, and the air smells of blossom. Still chilly at night, but my newly planted coriander plant is surviving thus far. Fingers crossed.

I’ve also joined a yoga class and maybe a pilates class (pilates is hard…) and Arthur’s back playing floorball after an injury break, as well as doing some kind of secret board game night that I’m not cool enough for. So our weeks are filling up again. I’m torn between enjoying more structure and wanting my acres of free time back. The longer and longer evenings make fitting more stuff in much easier though, roll on summer. (But not too soon, I’m not done skiing yet!)

Travel

Another great all-lady tramp this month. (There must be a Disney reference in there, but I had a Disney-deprived childhood so I’m coming up short. Thanks Mum and Dad.) I went out with a couple of friends for an overnight hike near Hokitika on the West Coast.

We just did a little circuit up to Mt Brown hut for the night. It’s kind of a celebrity hut because it’s on the front cover of Shelter from the Storm, a recent history of New Zealand’s backcountry huts that’s pretty popular among geeky tramper circles = seemingly most of New Zealand.

It’s also cool because the hut is community run, so it was erected by a team of volunteers, and its maintenance is funded by donations. The hut itself is pretty vintage, but it’s been spruced up by the volunteers, and weatherproofed for the high alpine winds, so it’s very snug inside. Especially with the logburner going. Curry and uno and wine in front of the fire were much appreciated.

And the walk itself was pretty beautiful too, with lush, jungly forest, and slivers of lake, mountain and sea views on the ascent. The hut sits just above the bushline, so the best views were saved until we arrived.

The descent was through more fun jungly stuff, with groves of tall ferns in the flatter bits. It felt eerily prehistoric in places. Then at the end we got a fun scramble along the river bank to reach the road.

Reading

Favourite book: The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert

I loved this book in so many ways. It’s one of those sweeping, swooping historical novels, which carries you round the world with it. I love the feeling of living through history in a book, but it’s a fine line between interesting story-context and irritating look how much research I did for this book. For me this sits in the sweet spot. Also the main character is a nineteenth-century female scientist. Yesss!

Favourite thing I found on the internet: Why did Gauguin Make People so Angry?

The perfect combination of comedy and bite sized art-history lesson, with appealing drawing thrown in.

Instagram

Street art from Huangjueping Street in Chongqing wins August. These murals are part of an urban regeneration project from the Sichuan Fine Art Institute, which is based nearby.

Huangjueping Street aka Grafitti Street, Chongqing. New blog post up on trying not to be sick while exploring Chongqing. Ft. panda bao, abandoned buildings, airborne tortoise. . . Link in profile! . . #graffiti #streetarteverywhere #chongqing #china #streetart #graffitistreet #tuyastreet #huangjueping #urbanart #graffitiart #mural #travelchina #explorechongqing

A post shared by Kirstie and Arthur (@saltwithyourcoffee) on

Blog

Just the one this month, on street art and forced evictions in Chongqing. We spent a few days in central China’s powerhouse city, but unfortunately I spent most of them in bed trying not to be sick, so our explorations were limited. From what little I gleaned though, Chongqing is pretty interesting. Old and new grate uncomfortably up against each other, and you can really see the pace of change China is experiencing, as well as the inevitable fallout this creates. I hear there’s also good food. I can’t comment.

Coming up in September

New Zealand is having an election, so that’s exciting. I’m in a weird position of being surrounded by it, and invested in the outcome, but not actually eligible to vote (yet). It’s almost a relief not feeling obliged to follow it closely though, after the last year and a bit of emotionally draining democratic drama. (Brexit, US, France, UK…)

I’m not sure what else for September to be honest. In October we’re heading up to North Island to spend some time with Arthur’s folks exploring the Coromandel Peninsula. I feel like I’m definitely ready for a holiday, so I’m very much looking forward to that. I think September will mostly be getting ourselves a bit more organised before we go away — visa and driving license applications, buying a car, that kind of thing. And now I’ve said that, we’ll have to actually do it… eek.

Also, did I mention it’s spring! So climbing outside is a thing again, walks in the hills are getting sunnier, and skiing is still happening. Heaven.

I’m loving Christchurch right now, especially since the rebuild in the centre of town has got to the point where it feels like a city, not just a building site. There’s still plenty of high-vis about, but it’s reached a tipping point where more and more people are in town enjoying themselves.

It definitely feels like a great time to have wound up here.

Want to catch up with how we got here? You can find our previous monthly updates here.

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