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A Spring Afternoon in the Gardens

A Spring Afternoon in the Gardens

I’ve experienced so much winter that I think I’m starting to develop Stockholm syndrome. I find myself justifying the value of winter whenever friends ask if I miss spring and summer. Why would I want summer? You can’t cuddle up on the couch with your boyfriend, a blanket and a mug of hot chocolate when it’s 80 degrees out. I don’t miss needlessly sweating. I don’t miss being sunburnt. I enjoy scarves, sweatshirts and hot water jugs. I think I love winter… I never want to leave. And then spring begins, and it all comes back to me.

September marks the beginning of spring in New Zealand and it wasted no time in letting us know it had arrived. The weather in Dunedin has been gorgeous, and it’s amazing to see how it affects people. The thing I forget about the sun is that it lifts your spirits just by being there. The people you run into on the street just seem happier. For one thing, there’s more people out walking around. It hadn’t hit me until I was walking to the Botanic Gardens with Tra that I missed the feeling of spring. The weather gave us energy and we had the drive to explore new parts of the garden and even ventured out of the gardens onto a street that led us to the Dunedin Northern Cemetery. We strolled through the cemetery appreciating the old headstones while keeping an eye out for any names we vaguely recognized. As our stomachs cautioned against wondering any further we made our way back home making sure to admire the blooming university trees and toppless students (not joking) swimming in the Leith.

I heard it can take many years for prisoners suffering from Stockholm syndrome to fully recover. Luckily thanks to a happy accident we have two giant tins of hot chocolate to go through in the next 3 months. After that, we return to American winter.

MUSIC PICK OF THE WEEK

Each week I try and highlight an Indie music artist at the end of my blog post. If you would like me to consider your music, email me: hello@emmafletch.net

This week I’ve chosen the introduction track to iiiso’s new album True Colors: Collection. Give it a listen and maybe consider giving him a follow on Soundcloud or Instagram. Also his album is available to stream on Spotify or Apple Music. It’s definitely worth a listen.

Taieri Gorge

Taieri Gorge

Stepping into a train is like stepping back in time. Even though trains are very efficient when done correctly, they aren’t most people’s first choice for transportation. Unfortunately for trains you can’t just hop on a train for a grocery trip, that is of course unless you live in a city that actually has a good public transportation infrastructure. Portland of course has the MAX system, but it’s design almost feels like what people in the 90s thought the future would look like. Stepping into a classic railway car is different. In the same way that people seek out old polaroid cameras trains are cool little time capsules into a slow-moving world that existed not long ago. In the age of information technology advances quickly. The first iPhone already looks severely outdated. I doubt that any of the kids that are just now receiving their first iPhones would believe that when they were first released there was no such thing as an App Store. The longevity of trains is what makes them so special. Flipping through the pages of history you can watch as these revolutionary machines stayed relatively unchanged for such a long time. That level of consistency is comforting.

For our anniversary Tra bought us two tickets for the Taieri Gorge Railway trip to Pukerangi. Here are some of our photos:

Music Pick of the Week

Each week I try and highlight an Indie music artist at the end of my blog post. If you would like me to consider your music email me: (hello@emmafletch.net)

This week I’ve chosen a beautiful collaboration between Vancouver producer SLOTH.TOES and Bellingham singer Madaleine DiMarco. Give it a listen and maybe consider giving them a follow on Soundcloud.

Back to Long Beach

Back to Long Beach

As this jet-lag is wearing off from my trip back home, I thought I’d update the blog with some adventures from the past three weeks. I traveled home for a wedding. One of my oldest and dearest friends, Kamille, was married on June 25. But the day before the rehearsal I was able to sneak off to Long Beach with Tra’s family.

While I was only there less than 24 hours, it was the perfect time to unwind and catch up with Tra’s dad and his two sisters. I drove up in my Subaru along with their beloved dog, Patton (named after the general… of course).

I listened to some great podcasts on the drive and when we arrived we played volleyball on the beach, which I don’t think I’ve played since high school! I bravely dipped my toe into the ice-cold water and we ended the night playing unexpectedly competitive board games.

Tra and I have had some great trips to Long Beach in the last two years. We love exploring nearby Oysterville and on the drive there and back, Astoria. The beach itself always seems really private. Maybe it’s the quiet area we’re in, or that we usually go in the off-season, but I just love how secluded it feels.

I had so many great moments with Tra’s family I wish I captured. Mia and I hunted for deals at Goodwill, we had a lovely lunch with Tra’s mom and grandma, at Tra’s dad’s house we went through old family albums and he told us stories from his childhood. It felt great to be around them and to get to know them a bit better.

Music Pick of the Week

Each week I try and highlight an Indie music artist at the end of my blog post. If you would like me to consider your music please email me.

This week I’ve chosen a song I stumbled upon on from Apartment 5A. Give it a listen and maybe consider giving them a follow on Bandcamp.

Exploring Portobello

Exploring Portobello

Hungry people are less fun to hang out with than not-hungry people. It’s funny how that works. It’s such a simple idea and yet it can have a dramatic affect on your happiness. I get grumpy when I’m hungry; Tra gets grumpy when he’s hungry. We still love each other, but I fell in love with a well-fed Tra and the latter is an annoying friend tagging along in our relationship. I’m sure he feels the same sometimes. Even though I know this, sometimes I overlook it’s importance.

Tra and I haven’t been outside of Dunedin since February. Because of this we have been planning to visit Portobello, a tiny little village on the Otago Peninsula. The weather sabotaged  our plans for one weekend and ever since we’ve been keeping our eyes open for a relatively dry weekend to visit. Portobello is only a 40 minute bus ride away from our flat we really have no excuse for not visiting more often. When my dad was helping me move to New Zealand we visited Portobello and had a great time at the small pub and cafe. Tra had never visited Portobello. So, when Tra got home from work at 3 p.m. on a Friday I suggested we visit. He asked if he could eat before we left, I reminded him that the sun was quickly setting and that we could eat at the pub. He agreed.

When you don’t have a car sometimes long bus rides can be kind of exciting. For Tra it was his first time seeing the Otago Peninsula in person and not from afar. The roads are narrow and right on the edge of the water. They feel like the roads on HWY 101 at home where you feel like you could tip over and fall into the water after every twist and turn. The closer we got to Portobello the less sunlight we had to work with. I was worried that our photos wouldn’t turn out. When we arrived Tra was excited to explore someplace new, but he was hangry and I could tell. He asked if we could eat but I pleaded that we needed to take advantage of the light while we had it. Unfortunately our lack of foresight reared it’s ugly head when we realized that the cute cafe we were excited to visit was already closed. No bother, the pub was still available.

We walked up to the water and then to the local cemetery to snap some photos and get to know the town a little better. It really is such a cool little place. Tra was hungry and I couldn’t ignore it anymore. Sometimes unexpected forces can shape events even though they shouldn’t. I’m usually a planner. The usual Emma would have thought “before we visit Portobello we need to check the weather forecast, the opening and closing times of all the places we want to visit, the bus schedule and make sure we are well fed.” But I wanted to be spontaneous.

When we entered the pub we were slightly confused by the layout and found our way into the restaurant section of the pub and eagerly looked over the menu. After 10 minutes of browsing the waitress approached us and asked us if we were interested in dinner. Yes was an understatement.

“I am going to need to see some identification from both of you. If you look under 25 we need identification.”

Crap. In our rush to leave I had forgotten my my passport. The waitress politely told us that she would be unable to serve us and asked us to leave. It was embarrassing and irritating and I felt bad for Tra who had not forgotten his passport and had now been waiting over two hours since before we left our flat to eat. Every other restaurant was closed and our only option was the convenience store.

So there we were, Tra and I, eating Tim Tams, Mentos and microwaved mince pies on a bench overlooking the bay laughing about how dumb we were. We jokingly directed our anger at Portobello itself, calling it the worst place in all of New Zealand. It isn’t; at least I think. It was a nice little town and I hope to visit it again soon, but next time with an ID and a belly full of food.

Music Pick of the Week

Each week I try and highlight an Indie music artist at the end of my blog post. If you would like me to consider your music please email me.

This week I’ve chosen a wicked beat from the Vancouver beatmaker Karmaeiic. Give it a listen and maybe consider giving him a follow on soundcloud.

Throwback: Camping in Florence

Throwback: Camping in Florence

“Have you ever been in a kayak before?”

“Oh, yeah. I’ve been in a couple before.”

“So you’ll be fine?”

“Yeah yeah, I’ll be fine.”

As I stepped into the kayak it flipped over throwing me into the lake, fully clothed, seconds after reassuring Tra’s dad that I didn’t need any help. For as long as I can remember my cheeks have refused to let me hide my embarrassment. Life always felt like a game of poker where everyone else could see my hand at all times. I just made an ass of myself in front of my boyfriend’s dad and my cheeks were glowing red.

When Tra invited me to his family camping trip in Florence, Oregon nearly two years ago, I nervously accepted. From my previous experiences with his family I knew I had nothing to worry about, but spending the weekend with your new boyfriend’s family is scary. Not in a spooky ghost story kind of way but a “what if I fall out of a kayak in front of them and make an ass of myself” kind of way.

When we arrived at Camp Honeyman the first thing I realized was that Toby, Tra’s dad, is a camping pro. He built these intricate portable boxes with shelves and drawers for everything you would possibly need. It was like have a kitchen pantry in the middle a camping ground. He also had a system for setting up his unique canvas tents. Coming into the trip I was worried about the sleeping situation since I had very little experience with sleeping in tents and cots. I had no reason to worry. The tents were surprisingly spacious and the cots were better than a hide-a-bed mattress. While it wasn’t a glamping trip, I sure felt spoiled to be able to enjoy such a special setup.

I had never seen anything like the sand dunes in Florence. On one of the last days we took a ride on a dune buggy through the dunes to get a better look. I felt like I was transported into the middle of the Sahara desert. There was nothing but sand for as far as I could see and it was gorgeous. We spent most of our time at the beautiful lake on the campground which sat right against giant sand dunes. The lake was nice and warm and perfect for swimming and kayaking. In hindsight I wish I would have taken advantage of the opportunity to photograph such an amazing location, but cameras have a love-hate relationship with sand.

One place I wasn’t afraid to bring my camera was Old Town Florence. Stepping into the historic downtown was like walking back in time. The old-school architecture and mom-and-pop shops were fun to explore and made fantastic photo backdrops. The downtown sits right on the Siuslaw River and grants visitors access to the boat docks.

This trip was my very first camping trip and I had a blast. Tra’s family could not have been more welcoming and really hope that it wasn’t the last trip I’m invited to, you know, after I proved myself to be a below average mariner.

Music Pick of the Week

Each week I try and highlight an Indie music artist at the end of my blog post. If you would like me to consider your music email me.

This week I’ve chosen a track by Brooklyn artist Oddisee. Give it a listen and maybe consider giving them a follow on twitter.

Exploring Dunedin (Part 3)

Exploring Dunedin (Part 3)

Tra loves feeding ducks. Actually he just loves hanging out with animals. One time, after cuddling with adorable kittens for hours he discovered he had a cat allergy. His nose was leaking snot and he scratched his eyes until they turned bloodshot red. You would think that discovering a cat allergy would deter him from cuddling with those kittens the very next day. You would be wrong.

He loves to make himself miserable at the hands of the fluffiest little beings. So when we visit the Dunedin botanic gardens, he rushes to the duck pond. The gardens offer complimentary duck food, which is a great way to keep visitors from bringing white bread, which is actually pretty bad for the birds. After a few tosses of grain I get bored. Tra does not. He uses his entire allotment of food and then uses the rest of mine. He handpicks ducks that are the most deserving of food based on friendliness, loneliness and patience. He even hand feeds ducks from time to time. I always worry of the germs he’s exposing himself to.

The gardens offer a maze of botanic attractions as well as an aviary and a lovely greenhouse. It was one of the first places I took Tra after he arrived in Dunedin.

Everyone needs that go-to lazy weekend spot to walk, and the gardens are just that for Tra and I. It’s the perfect walking distance from our flat and it’s beautiful in any season! I’ve never had much of a green thumb, but this garden inspires me to dream of my one-day landscaped, perfectly manicured lawns.

As I’m nearing the end of this hectic semester, the gardens offer a nice distraction. After this semester I only have one more to go until I graduate! Looking forward to it, but I have mixed feelings. Graduating means moving from New Zealand. I don’t know when we’ll be back so I’m enjoying what Dunedin has to offer.

Music Pick of the Week

Each week I try and highlight an Indie music artist at the end of my blog post. If you would like me to consider your music email me.

This week I’ve chosen a track that never fails to pull me out of a bad mood by the Minneapolis band Bad Bad Hats. Give it a listen and maybe consider giving them a follow on twitter.