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11th November 2018


10:29 pm - Armistice Day 11-11-18
11am on 11-11-18: the armistice celebrations at the Oamaru war memorial on a glorious spring day.


Soldiers and poppies outside the town hall

Five more photos under the cut )


... and when I got home, we found a single poppy out on our rock garden! I am stunned. We also had a first poppy bloom on 11 November in 2016. The blue tiles are a garden seat.

This evening we went to see Peter Jackson's film They Shall Never Grow Old which was commissioned by the British Imperial War Museums in association with the BBC. It features 90 minutes of restored and colourised archival footage and a soundtrack created with voice-overs from archival interviews with British WWI veterans recorded in the 60s and 70s.

And man, it was intense.

A veteran told me about it when I was a child, how a shell blew up the man next to him, how he and others drank from a shell-hole for three days until they found a dead German at the bottom, how he was gassed (only slightly compared to others), and he let me feel the pieces of shell in his arm. I was only about 8 but I remember it vividly.

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20th August 2018


03:59 pm - Fic: In the Company of Strangers
Here's my Unconventional Courtship story, written during renovations (ceilings coming down, new ones going up, walls being stripped, noise, and dust everywhere). This fic challenge is one I enjoy though - because? - I find it hard, romance not being a genre I go for. It's also fun finding a plot synopsis that appeals.

Title: In the Company of Strangers
Author: Vilakins
Fandom: Blake's 7
Pairing/Characters: Cally, Kerr Avon, assorted assassins
Rating: PG-13
Length: 5,438
Summary: A woman without a past... She didn't know her name; she didn't know her home planet. "Mina" knew only that her martial-arts skills and weaponry and assassination techniques went far beyond the average person's.
A mark that became a death warrant… The people who'd tried to assassinate her all shared one common trait: a tattoo of a winged horse, like the one on her ankle.

Notes: Based on the plot synopsis for The Business of Strangers by Kylie Brant

Link: In the Company of Strangers

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6th July 2018


06:18 pm - Fic: A Human Resource
I finally got round to uploading the Avon story I've been sitting on for a while. It was written for a gen bingo card, but I very much doubt I'll get a bingo as it's been so long.

It's a PWB about Avon working in the Aquitar Project, and was for the prompt "Office".

A Human Resource

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5th July 2018


10:11 pm - That giant teapot
I was just checking out the Christchurch Grymmstone and Treacle Emporium who will be bringing their wares to town for the Victorian festival - and also found out who owns and drives the giant teapot we saw: it's a very cool mobility scooter!

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3rd July 2018


05:39 pm - Steampunk Festival: Sunday
Later than I'd planned, but here's the last lot of photos.

Tintype photography, monster teapot racing, and parasol duelling )

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29th June 2018


06:08 pm - Steampunk Festival: Saturday
I've tried to select photos that are different from last year's, so none of tea duelling for example, though I did watch again (but didn't compete this time).

The parade, steampunk morris, a chap on tracks, a wizard and an author, and Splendid Teapot Racing )

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25th June 2018


02:17 pm - Steampunk Festival: Friday
Earlier this month was the annual Steampunk Festival (see my three posts for last year's). I've finally sorted out some photos for each of the three days.

xxx )

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23rd June 2018


09:54 pm - Taking flight on the shortest day
I still haven't got round to sorting out and selecting from my many photos of the steampunk festival, but here are some others.

On Thursday, the shortest day (yay, past at last!) I went on a Tiger Moth flight from Omarama over Lake Benmore, a gift Greg ordered for my birthday. It was freezing (literally: -1C) but totally awesome! The plane was one that took part in the Warbirds over Wanaka and is based there, but I got a 30-minute flight from Omarama (a place famous for clear skies and great gliding weather) on its way north to Auckland for winter maintenance.

Photos including me, aerials, a shining sword in the lake, and two Shreks )

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16th May 2018


09:18 pm - Fic: The Delta Hoard (Blake's 7/Detectorists)
Here's my [community profile] intoabar fic - yes, yet another one where I throw Vila into a universe he doesn't belong in. There are probably vanishingly few people who know both fandoms, but [personal profile] zoefruitcake, who put me and Greg onto Detectorists - for which I am very grateful - is one. If you can get hold of it, do.

Title: The Delta Hoard
Author: [personal profile] vilakins
Prompt: Vila Restal goes into a bar and meets... Andy Stone!
Fandoms: Blake's 7, Detectorists
Word count: 2,728
Rating/Contents: Gen, No Archive Warnings Apply
Summary: Vila needs to retrieve two Terran Federation credit coins, so he enlists the unwitting help of two metal detectorists.

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1st May 2018


08:01 pm - Ashley is 10
It's Ashley's observed birthday today (we're not sure when she was born, but it's close enough). Here are some photos of her (and occasionally her friend and adopted brother Sebastian) taken over the last year. She's 10, but still looks half-grown, being only 3kg - as light as a silvery-grey cloud.

Five photos of Ashley Riverstone )

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25th April 2018


10:58 pm - Anzac in Action
It's Anzac Day today, so here are photos from the Anzac in Action event we went to on Sunday at the Rangitata Island Aerodrome. It was really impressive with WW1 trenches complete with dugout, lots of military vehicles, and a simulated battle to end the day.

Stargate fans, look for the surprise Goa'uld!

Photos, plus bonus airfield cat )

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04:19 pm - Warbirds Over Wanaka - Sunday
A bit late because I am slack, but here are a few photos from Sunday, the last day of the airshow. It started off literally freezing - we had to scrape ice off the windscreen - but was so hot later we both got sunburned.

Tiger Moth, Herc, the mad Lithuanian )

Plus bonus photos from the day after in Wanaka.

Includes Roman and other toilets )

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9th April 2018


10:39 am - Warbirds Over Wanaka - Saturday
Saturday last weekend at Wanaka started off muddy and cloudy after a night of heavy rain, but at least the rain and stopped, and the hot sun was back out before lunch. Unfortunately right at the beginning a Yak-3 clipped a cherry picker with its wing after landing, got spun right round, and damaged its wing, undercarriage, and the cherry picker. Right in front of our stand; yikes! And why were the cherry pickers even there? We were told it was for fireworks, or maybe something to do with the coloured balloons on the far side of the runway, but they were gone the next day. Anyway, the investigation and getting the poor Yak-3 off the runway closed it for two and a half hours, so much of the morning programme was cancelled. We were glad we bought passes for the three days.

Here is a small selection of the many photos I took.

F16, WW2 dogfight, the Harvard big wing, and more )

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5th April 2018


08:00 pm - Warbirds Over Wanaka - practice day
We bought gold passes for all three days of the Warbirds Over Wanaka airshow, arriving around midday afternoon. We missed some of the practice routines because of wandering around the grounds in the hot sun looking at static displays and parked planes - bit of a mistake as the Spitfire and Messerschmidt were up at one point, and they were the top of my list to see.

Six photos )

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18th February 2018


08:56 pm - The Annual Tree Octopus Hunt
The annual expedition in search for the elusive antipodean tree octopus took place in the Oamaru Gardens today. It's a fun steampunk event starting with a splendid (a very steampunk adjective) picnic and tea, then armed with a list of clues we ventured forth in search of octopodes. Why yes, that is the correct plural, the word being Greek rather than Latin.

We had to follow cryptic clues taking us all around the gardens answering questions on our forms and keeping an eye out for Octavia and the more rarely seen Septimus. Our team found them both, plus a third unnamed plushy. It was a fun day, but very hot and humid; I admired the fortitude of those sporting more elaborate and heavier regalia than I did.


Music for our picnic in and around the rotunda was provided by this chap with his gramophone.

More photos of splendid explorers and octopodes )

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17th February 2018


08:15 pm - Chinese New Year in Oamaru
I've been meaning to catch up with my photo backlog, but hey, here are some from this evening!

I just got back from a wonderful time at the Chinese New Year celebrations in the Oamaru Gardens down the hill from us. There was lots of yummy food, we were entertained by beautiful dances, and I even scored a relaxing massage for a donation. It was a brilliant evening - no fireworks though because there's a fire ban this summer.

I should add: the cultural dance groups from Dunedin was led by.. a Dr Hu!

It was enormous fun, and tomorrow there's yet more with a steampunk octopus hunt, also in the gardens.



Four more photos of dancers )

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1st January 2018


12:15 am - It's 2018
And we're just back from spectacular fireworks down at the harbour, bursting right overhead; I lay on the grass to watch.

All the best to all of you!

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29th December 2017


12:12 pm - Rainbows and AO3 invites
Have a double rainbow over the hill opposite our house, taken from the upstairs sunroom.



I keep meaning to say, I have several invites to AO3 (Archive of Our Own), the fanfic archive which will avoid waiting in the queue. So if you want one, message me with your email address and I'll send you one.

Which reminds me, I must get round to posting an Avon story, and writing some more. (Lazy summer days...)

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25th December 2017


12:30 pm - Google doodle
Yo, Google! It's summer for penguins - no snow outside the Antarctic. We have two colonies right here.

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24th December 2017


11:27 pm - Assorted December photos
I haven't posted for a while because I have a backlog of photos and can no longer get into flickr as I don't have a yahoo email address and don't want one. After looking around, I found imgur, though I suppose that won't last long either. But while it's there...

This is what I found in the car when we went to the vet to get supplies and left the windows down because it was a hot day.


This cat lives at a nearby house but hangs out at the vet, testing their cat beds. She's pretty friendly and was happy to be picked up and carried away.

Four more seasonal ones including Christmas lilies in our garden, the Christmas Farmers Market, and a stuffed Queen Victoria )

And with that, I wish everyone who celebrates a great day, and everyone who'd off on holiday safe journeys and a good time.

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11:27 pm - Assorted December photos
I haven't posted for a while because I have a backlog of photos and can no longer get into flickr as I don't have a yahoo email address and don't want one. After looking around, I found imgur, though I suppose that won't last long either. But while it's there...

This is what I found in the car when we went to the vet to get supplies and left the windows down because it was a hot day.


This cat lives at a nearby house but hangs out at the vet, testing their cat beds. She's pretty friendly and was happy to be picked up and carried away.

Four more seasonal ones including Christmas lilies in our garden, the Christmas Farmers Market, and a stuffed Queen Victoria )

And with that, I wish everyone who celebrates a great day, and everyone who'd off on holiday safe journeys and a good time.

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18th December 2017


11:05 am - Christmas ads from Aotearoa NZ
I've been having a discussion about Christmas stories and traditions, and secret Santa which reminded me of this Farmers (department store) TV ad about one. There are not many ads I don't FF through or mute, but these are among them.


I should add that the milk and biscuits/cookies are an American import. Note: yes, it's summer here.

There's also a cute series of short ads about a man called Noel who might be Santa working at New World supermarket:
New World Christmas
It must be Christmas (we don't drink milk like Americans do so that's why the stares)
Santa's Grotto
Santa stocks up on carrots
Are you Santa?

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15th December 2017


01:51 pm - The Last Jedi
The Last Jedi was great! It's easily the best of the three most recent. Pity Rian Johnson isn't directing the next one too.

We went to the midnight showing (well, one minute past to make it the day of release) so this is a couple of days late. I could say a lot about it, but [personal profile] selenak  has said it so well already. (but spoilers, of course).

If you're a fan and you haven't already, go, enjoy!
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01:51 pm - The Last Jedi
The Last Jedi was great! It's easily the best of the three most recent. Pity Rian Johnson isn't directing the next one too.

We went to the midnight showing (well, one minute past to make it the day of release) so this is a couple of days late. I could say a lot about it, but [personal profile] selenak  has said it so well already. (but spoilers, of course).

If you're a fan and you haven't already, go, enjoy!
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27th October 2017


11:33 am - All black cats look alike
This story came up on a US site, and I was even more amused when I realised just who had tweeted it - Clarke Gayford, the partner of our new prime minister, Jacinda Arden (about whom I am very excited).

The story of the mistaken cat

It's worth looking at a few others of his tweets. My favourites:

His response to the account set up in their cat Paddles' name

Paddles' response to the media mobbing their house

Swearing-in day - 'lady' for Labour?

The kea, bird of the year - YES! I absolutely loathe our people being labelled - and labelling themselves - as a stupid, shy, nocturnal bird that can't fly. If people can't handle the four syllables of New Zealander (the same number as in "American" or "Italian" - c'mon!) than let's go with kea. They have personality.

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22nd July 2017


10:17 am - A bit wet
One of the many reasons we moved to Oamaru was the weather. It's a lot drier here than wet, humid Auckland.

The latest storm hit the whole country, but especially the east coast of the South Island, this area particularly badly. Oamaru got over three months of rain in 26 hours. The infrastructure couldn't take it, rivers have flooded their banks, State Highway 1 is closed in many places including downhill from us where it crossed the river, and houses in the North End, a flat coastal area, are flooded, and steep Don Street, one we considered, is now a river with water running under houses.

At first I was pleased to live on a hill - and so far we're all right as the rain continues - but we woke up to see a slip on the hill opposite. There aren't houses on the slope (another reason for picking this place - nice view) but I suspect there are on the flat under it.

We have to go to Christchurch, so I hope the roads are open by then.

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12th July 2017


11:21 am - I haven't been everywhere, man
Copied from sallymn because I felt like it. Not that I've been anywhere lately since 2004 when I went to England and Wales. I've also been to Florida but painting the whole US turquoise would be somewhat misleading.


Create Your Own Visited Countries Map


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13th June 2017


02:27 pm
A high-school meme, ganked from [personal profile] zoefruitcake and de-Americanised - we don't have class of [insert year], yearbooks, school mascots, class rings (WTH?), or graduation - graduation's for tertiary institutes. As for what kind of car I drove to school? Seriously, only in America! Pupils walk, cycle, or get buses (though some spoiled ones get dropped off by parents). Pupils generally can't afford cars here, and for that matter the parking's for staff. Nor do we have driver ed, though that would actually be a very good idea, given some of the lunatics on our roads.

I went to three different high schools due to my family moving around the country and they were all single-sex. I was a boarder at the first and third, so I'll have to cover boarding / private and day / state schools. I think Americans call the former prep schools, but to us, prep was another word for homework. For that matter in the UK, a prep school is for younger pupils, preparing them for a public - IOW private - school. We're honest down here; our boarding schools are mostly private (though there are a few state schools offering limited boarding for country pupils).

Anyway, it's a good opportunity to post something possibly of interest. )

Any questions about our strangely but not entirely British education system and terms, ask away!

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11th June 2017


10:46 pm - Winter sunset
I finally figured out how to get my phone to take decent photos of sunsets without overexposing them. The sunset tonight was spectacular.

Sunset )

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9th June 2017


02:07 pm - World famous in Oamaru
Re the post's title: it's from our well known "world famous in New Zealand" which I see the owners of L&P have trademarked despite it being in common joking use.

Anyway, the photo the Otago Daily Times took of me has indeed shown up, but in the ODT-owned Oamaru Mail. It's on page 6 of this week's paper (digital edition) along with others of steampunkers. Unusually, it's not a bad one; I usually loathe photos of me. Also posted on Dreamwidth, with comment count unavailable comments.
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