Castle On The Cheap Side


Faded grandeur on Auckland’s Dominion Road.

Faux castle battlements above the proud name,’Cheapside’.

Peeling grey paint.

A bit down at the heel maybe.

Probably not the future imagined at the laying of its foundations.

But still standing,useful and with purpose after the best part of a century.

Some of us are like this battling building, battered but not broken(alliteration alert!).

And still dreaming of being castles…


Block The Sky If You Cannot Scrape It


So, yesterday’s post, “Block 6 & Block 7”,featured two buildings across from my Auckland City work office.This one, just around the corner, is another linear edifice, doing just enough to block the view but not tall enough to threaten the heavens.

Reflective glass sends back the message of the other side of the street, but there are chinks where you can sense humanity within the cubes of concrete, steel and glass – clothes on a rack, pictures on a wall ,lampshades -random personal paraphernalia .

Hope the owners within are doing more than just scraping by…

New Babylon Hanging Gardens


After yesterday’s post featuring crops in old tyres,here is a shot taken last week of plants out of their usual place.

Rather eyecatching vertical garden of ferns,epiphytes and other non-foliage dropping lovelies built into a wall of the building from which you enter Auckland’s main train station.Mirror glass,which can be pretty awful and impersonal,gives a cool kaleidoscopic effect,and  magnifies the small airborne jungle.Architectural thumbs up from me anyway(not that I know much).

The feature does give out a tranquil,calming aura in the midst of urban perpetual motion,as its creators have indeed suggested – but let’s face it, plants don’t give a f**k whether you’re running late for work or your train…

Ponsonby Mansion


In Ponsonby during the week having a catch up with a friend and walked past this beauty. Not sure what purpose it has now , but whoever had this built knew what they were doing. Amazingly well preserved, solid as the proverbial brick shithouse but with fiddly, ornate wrought iron work and wooden balcony, plus a turret at the top, like a cherry on a cake. It is not like a turret is an essential, but they push the heights and limits of a design without changing the whole thing, adding no doubt amazing views.So much more  than just a finishing touch – they are ineffably cool and I adore them ! All boxes ticked for me then…

Sun Catches The Heavenly Place

Eighth and final post in this series of religious and spiritual places.

Late afternoon light illumines this old inner city church.

Factoid: Terrific Gothic Revival stylings ,replete with gargoyle faces.Do love me a bit of  good gothic! Took this one while hanging around before a rock gig round the corner(New Zealand’s own The Chills in fact).In a way music concerts are like church services,the band and the preacher just the same,whipping up fervour amongst the believers,getting their message across any way they can…..

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Methodist Church, Pitt Street, Auckland NZ

Hindu Temple

The fifth post in  a series of religious and spiritual places…

Factoid:This picture was taken in Penang on a 2012 trip to Malaysia.Stumbled upon it,not that you could have missed it.

Unbelievably ornate architecture, spectacular colours and figurines of deities and animals, in stark contrast to some of the previously posted more simple examples. Combined with the aroma of joss sticks ,this is a sensory explosion! The hands down winner in this lineup  for employment  of symbols…

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Hindu Temple, Penang, Malaysia

Masonic Temple

….#4 in a series…

Freemasonry is heavily steeped in ritual and the use of symbols, such as the compass and square ,and is shrouded in secrecy. You can only see the exterior of this cool building, not what goes on inside , if you are an outsider like me.

Factoid: Apparently the extensive use of symbols amongst Freemasons goes back to ancient times when many members were illiterate .Symbols were used as a communication tool instead of writing. I have  talked of the power of symbolism elsewhere in this blog. Love that stuff. I don’t have a whole lot of  other factoids( as I only know one avowed Freemason) but I am okay with that – why take away the mystery?

Masonic Temple, Nelson NZ

Church Bell

This is the first of a series of posts where I have photographed places of religion and spiritual belief buildings .Not that I regard myself as religious, but we are all spiritual. The use of symbols and styles of architecture always intrigue and interest me.

Factoid:Tucked away behind the simple wooden church is a little hall where I sometimes meet with others of like mind. Curiously, it has nothing whatsoever to do with religion but there is a spiritual bond there for sure.

Anglican Church,Campbells Bay, Auckland NZ

Where Sugar Comes From


Shot of the iconic Chelsea Sugar factory, home of sugar in New Zealand,on the edge of the Waitemata Harbour. Lots of history and sweetness…actually the refinery process gives off a slightly acrid aroma. The nearby company wharf is a dedicated port of entry into the country, as the raw sugar comes in from the tropics and straight to the factory. I was particularly taken with  the roof angles ,the tower, the slightly arched windows and the tan/pink walls of the refinery buildings,as they caught the sun.

The photo version below is in homage to the pink and white colour scheme of the maker’s familiar sugar bags.

Chelsea Sugar Factory, Birkenhead, NZ, February 2019.

Gateway To The Meeting House

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The gateway to the meeting house ( or wharenui, literally “big house”) at Orakei Marae, Auckland, NZ with its ornate carvings and traditional spiral motifs. Close ups of two of the carved figures are featured in the previous post  I am lucky enough to work at this beautiful and powerful  place, delivering weekly community legal clinics in rooms behind this structure (in a considerably less ornate building I have to say).Before or afterwards, I have taken many shots of this turangawaewae (standing place) of  the Ngati Whatua iwi(tribe).Again, symbols and stories abound…

Pink House


If the motel featured in the previous post, ‘Blue Motel’, did not exactly feel like home, neither would this monument to fufu and, erm ,pinkness. Something to love or hate ,or if in doubt ,to photograph . Not to say something good could not come out of a pink house – ‘Big Pink’  was the name and colour of the large house in Woodstock, NY. where The Band created the songs that would appear on their magnificent 1968 debut album of that name. Must post something from it ….

Blue Motel


‘I’ve got a blue motel room

with a blue bedspread

I’ve got the blues inside and outside my head…’

–  Joni Mitchell, ‘Blue Motel Room’ from ‘Hejira’ (1976).


Shot this on a rainy night on holiday in Nelson; alone that evening so walked the balcony’s length a few times to kill time, boredom and a drifting anxiety. Motels never feel like home or any place you would be if you didn’t have to be there. Queen Joni summed up my mood on that evening perfectly.