On being published –

It is ironic that my last blog in January started off “I might be gone for some time” ..at the time I did not  realise I wouldn’t write another blog until now!! And this one many of you may have read  somewhere in cyber space over the last few days! However  for those who have not…please enjoy. There is no real reason, new grandchild, trips to Sydney, rain, a new exhibition looming, brain fade..all of those reasons.

No one would have been more surprised than me when the Editor of a Photography Magazine I subscribe to called me last week. “Lynn he said, I’ve trawled through your Flick’r account ( 10 thousand images)) and I would like to do an article about you.” Once I picked myself up off the floor and checked my in box there they were ..about 35 images he wanted to see the high res originals!! Seriously some dated back to 2009 and all I can say is thank heaven Lightroom Library worked a treat and most of them I found that day!!

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’tis the Season to shop…


I love wandering around the shops at this time of year..so many amazing unique gifts. Of course I can not buy them all and I don’t need any of them; perhaps that is why I like to window shop and share my discoveries of the unique, practical and bazaar!!


Blush in Gladstone Road Parnell is a very attractive florist shop  but they are different from most florists. The wreaths are from Blush in Parnell. They also sell a range of bespoke gifts such as this beautifully packaged tea and cute soaps, miniature orchids and bespoke books.tea  these beautifully packaged message soaps come in about 20 shades of pastel.!

.soap-3 soap-2 soap


Locally made South Island Gin – The Source $120.00 a bottle makes a unique gift.

Rose Rabbit New Zealand Orange Liqueur –

The Cardrona

New Zealand Single Malt Whisky

‘the reid’ Single Malt Vodka –

Check out the website for ordering on line.

A couple of books to consider – 

An extraordinary diary from ‘The Vietnamese Anne Frank’, now in paperback I hear is a great read…its on my holiday list. 9781846040764

Last Night I Dreamed of Peace is the moving diary kept by a 27-year-old Vietnamese doctor who was killed by the Americans during the Vietnam War, while trying to defend her patients. Not only is it an important slice of history, from the opposite side of Dispatches and Apocalypse Now, but it shows the diarist – Dang Thuy Tram – as a vibrant human being, full of youthful idealism, a poetic longing for love, trying hard to be worthy of the Communist Party and doing her best to look after her patients under appalling conditions. She wrote straight from the heart and, because of this, her diary has been a huge bestseller in Vietnam – 350,000 copies sold in 2005 alone. Rider brings the first English translation, in book form, to the Commonwealth markets. But there is more: how the diary came to light is also an unusual story in its own right. Fred Whitehurst was a US intelligence officer on the scene just after Dang Thuy Tram was shot. He came across the diary and, instead of burning it there and then, took it home. His brother translated it and so began an odyssey that took 35 years, to find Thuy Tram’s family in Vietnam, and return the small brown book to them. Remarkably, in 2005, Fred Whitehurst tracked down the young doctor’s mother who graciously accepted it from this former GI who, as a result, was able to complete his own journey of reconciliation after years of bitterness as a Vietnam vet. $29.95rrp. Paper Plus etc. or as an E book from Amazon.

Below is my own personal bespoke coffee table book, this makes a beautiful gift. Buy from Blurb.com US$109.99 or more depending on Blurbs Pricing and currency. 🙂  Large Format Landscape, 13×11 in, 33×28 cm  98 Pages – Preview available on line –

ICE are photographs taken in Scoresby Sound East Greenland and Jökulsárlón  in Iceland.


Processed with Snapseed.

My favourite Iceberg photo from the book.


img_0489These cotton robes and sun hats scream SUMMER from Isobel Harris in Newmarket.

img_0491Seletti are in Queenstown and Auckland… lots of fun and quirky gifts. These fabulous “sitting” monkey lamps are $790.00 or the neon Letter Lights.


cheeseWhitestone Cheese are an award-winning NZ company.  An original wooden gift box containing six award-winning varieties of our range. We courier New Zealand wide and will include your message in the box. $50.00 Check out their full selection.


Give a Kowhai tree this Christmas… it will help with your Carbon Footprint too.36 – 43cm high baby tree in wooden planter containing high quality potting mix.

  • Purpose designed Trees Please! gift box made of sustainable untreated plantation pine (45cm high)
  • Copper tag for recipient to mark the occasion and date the gift is received.
  • Information on care, repotting and planting tree for best results.
  • Complimentary Trees Please! message card


Mugler is the new perfume from ANGEL and the  bottle is a limited edition for Christmas. Stunning – I was naughty and bought myself this Christmas present!!

Fragrance notes: bergamot, praline, vanilla/patchouli/musk

80018565_original_original_1                                  02693954606-5-700

So those are my best pics for this Christmas season.

Have special times with your family and friends…love one another and enjoy every day!!


Essential Iceland – a day trip.


Essential Iceland  is my short story about a one day trip I did in a very large truck from Reykjavik in Iceland generally to the heart of the country.

This was advertised as an all day trip. The Visitors bureau did not mention we needed to bring lunch and I presumed it would be supplied – anyway Valdi, our fabulous guide,  took us to a gas station to buy some sustenance. ( it is on their website but I had not been privy to that.)  Once on our way Valdi gave us lots of geological information about the mountainous region surrounding us. We headed north and then in land on sealed roads.

We passed the home of the only Icelandic Noble prize winner Halldór Laxness. Awarded in 1955. Laxness wrote poetry, newspaper articles short stories and novels.

‘Independent People’ is his most famous book set in the early twentieth century, it recalls both Iceland’s medieval epics and such classics as Sigrid Undset’s Kristin Lavransdatter. And if Bjartur of Summerhouses, the book’s protagonist, is an ordinary sheep farmer, his flinty determination to achieve independence is genuinely heroic and, at the same time, terrifying and bleakly comic.

I wonder if the recent movie ‘Rams’ was inspired by this famous Icelandic read.?

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Grandparents help list

One of the fun things grandparents get to do is buy ‘stuff’ for grandchildren. Sometimes we get  it wrong, sometimes it is a huge success. I’ve  drawn up a list of the most successful presents grandparents have given their grandchildren. Maybe it will help you find something different.  Continue reading

The pakeha and the Maori

This is an article by Secundus under the heading The pakeha and the Maori and the sub heading “MEDICAL FILE …a doctor remembers.” It appeared in the Palmerston North newspaper in the  seventies. On the reverse are advertisements for Ford 1977Toyota Carona’s $7500.00as new 22,000 k’s. So this helps date the article. Note Maori has a capital M but pakeha did not. Continue reading

Christmastime – make dreams come true.

Denis Clayton  1942-2003 –  Denis always wanted to sail around the world, 12 years after he died his dream is coming true – sort of. We are sending Denis around the world on the Pixel Boat.  His photo is already on board. Denis loved sailing and we think this would make him smile. As a family we spent 20 years sailing around the north of New Zealand, we all have magical memories of those happy times. You too can sail around the world without getting your feet wet!  Or give this unique gift to someone this Christmas .I  want to share this English sailors dream with you, and maybe you know someone who would love this voyage.pixel boat


So what is the ‘PixelBoat?

The idea behind the PixelBoat campaign is ultimately to break the Solo Around the World Record for a boat 40’ or less. This record has only been attempted once before and currently stands at 137d 20h 1m 57s, set by Chinese sailor Guo Chuan.

Why ‘PixelBoat’?

In order to raise sponsorship for the campaign, the sides of the 40’ yacht are covered in 5cm x 5cm squares. Individuals and companies can buy as many squares as they want to and upload an image to go on to the virtual boat online and also be transferred on to the actual boat as well. They can also have a link to their website online if they want to, then anyone clicking on their image will be taken to their site – so the bigger the image, the more likely people will be to click on the link. Everything is done via the website on the following pages, upload your image, add you link and pay via BACS or PayPal – it’s as simple as that.

How much is each square?

Each square selling for either £25 or £35 depending on its position on the boat – the higher up, the more expensive they are.(That is less than NZ$80.00)

alex alley

What pictures can you upload?

Anything goes really as long as it isn’t offensive.  Companies upload  their logos, individuals uploading wedding pics or friends and family, either for fun or as a gift. One girl so far has uploaded a picture of her father who passed away – ‘dad always wanted to sail around the world, now he can with Alex…’ Where can we see the boat?

The campaign is based in Gosport Marina, in Portsmouth Harbour. Alex will be sailing and training in and around the Solent initially, and then heading further afield as he becomes more familiar with the boat and its systems. The boat will look pretty iconic, and if you do see the boat then please say hello.

How can you get involved?All at Sea Nov 2015

Click on the button to see the virtual boat and then follow the instructions on screen

Who is Alex Alley?

Alex began sailing as a child in Mirror dinghies. A highly competitive individual who after teaching himself to sail, began to become more and more interested in making his boat go faster. He was bitten by the yacht racing bug in Ramsgate whilst crewing on other peoples boats. After leaving school, Alex moved to Southampton to study Yacht Design and manufacture and to be nearer the heart of Yacht racing, the river Hamble and Cowes. All his spare time was spent ‘roaming’ the pontoons and getting a ride on as many boats as possible for experience.

Alex ended up as part of a team selected to represent England in an International Team Competition in Ireland. The 3 boat English team, of which Alex was a part, went on to win. Alex is also a very keen motor sport fan and has been lucky enough to have driven a range of sports cars including Formula cars such as Formula Ford, Formula 3 and the awesome Formula 1 car. 600kg and 600 bhp, the acceleration is unbelievable as is the handling.

He has also driven other sportscars such as GT40’s, Ferrari’s and Aston Martin. Always looking for something different, in 2010 he entered the ‘World Bog Snorkelling’ championships in Wales. Literally a contest to swim two lengths of a water filled peat bog trench, 60 yards long and about 2 yards wide. The challenge was further heightened by the fact that he did it in fancy dress! Still managing to come in second – behind a pantomime horse!!!

Currently the boat is heading to Falmouth to try and set the Lands End to John O’Groats sailing record. All going well it should take us 4-5 days. You can track our progress via our tracker


All your pictures/logos are printed on the boat for all to see – certainly whenever we rock up in a new marina the boat draws a crowd…Please do pass on the details of the campaign to friends – without people like you and your support, things like this can’t happen, so thank you. We have had a spate of people asking about buying pixels as Christmas presents – well of course you can, just direct them to www.alexalley.com/pixelboat and follow the instructions to upload pics.


keep up to date on Twitter – @alexalley http://www.alexalley.com/pixelboat/

Contact Alex… email:           alex@alexalley.com        WebSite:         www.alexalley.com

alex on mast

“There is only one thing stopping you achieving your goals. That one thing is yourself. If you are determined enough to succeed, then you will.” Alex Alley2015






Christmas Gift Ideas

Happy Christmas time everyone.

It is that time of year when our thoughts go to buying our loved ones presents, that is those of us who can afford too. Spare a thought for those who cannot celebrate Christmas with any luxury items. We are blessed. Today I am  being indulgent and listing items for those with spare $$ to spend.I have a heavy heart because of the world situation and the hate and murder going on around the world. We have to celebrate more than ever our lives and family. We are the lucky ones.

Eames bird

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Family Photos are so precious.

Family photos..it is that time of year when many of us decide to have a family photo made for Grandparents and or Christmas cards. Many of us think it is too hard, it only takes an hour of your life and gives years of happiness.


I would like to remind those of you who hate having their photo taken that this isn’t about you!! You might be in the family photo however this is for future generations to look back at and say that was my Dad, or my Mother twenty years ago!!  So many families don’t have good photos of themselves… When you are elderly it will be fun to look back at photos of family holidays and reminisce. So when someone suggests it is time for a group or family photo don’t shake your head and mutter under your breath; remember it is for future generations. Surely your life means a lot to you and your family,  make sure there are great memories of your time on this earth.

LMC-7574-Edit-Edit-Edit4 Generations  – so when you are all together call a photographer 🙂


How often have you heard that someone has died and there were no good photos of that person, hard to believe in this day and age but it happens.  A young person dies and the family are left with a few photos taken on an iPhone…or at a party!!  Added tragedy. The charming elderly couple above posed happily for my camera and the lovely aspect of this is that it has their personal possessions around them.

So when you are having a family photo taken don’t mutter you hate it, no one loves it!! But think to yourself “I had better smile so my grandchildren don’t think I was a grumpy old sod!!”  You can practise in the bathroom so you know your best angle!! If you are like me and have more than one chin there are tricks we know about how to pose you, so listen to your photographer.. They do  know best.LMC-4678

Why pay a photographer I hear you say!! Why not? I say. They know how to pose you or have you interacting in a relaxed manner. They also have speciality lens to enable soft out of focus background and clean crisp (sharp)  focused images. My iPhone takes great pics… True –  but blow them up beyond a 7×5 or sometimes an A4 and they become pixelated.There is no depth of field  – they are good fun shots, nothing more.  Some of your favourite family photos will be small file size shots you’ve taken on the back lawn or at the beach. Nothing wrong with this at all, happy moments.  I suggest that you print those favourite snaps as when that computer dies (and it always does eventually!! ), you will hopefully still have a few fun prints to enjoy. Hopefully everyone actually backs up their computers these days. Do you back up your I phones regularly? Anyway –  it is hard to beat a beautiful large black and white (or colour) family photo framed for posterity.LMC-7722This is a silly fun snap of 3 friends – with  uneven light – not the perfect memory.

I wouldn’t want that photo on my funeral casket!! Or to be chosen by my family to remember me by simply because they had nothing else! So make sure there are some really lovely photos of you. Live for the moment and call your favourite photographer today.


I shoot a few family outdoor photo sessions and I can  manage a few more before December if anyone wants to contact me. Outdoor natural photography is my style. I can also recommend several other photographers. There are many more too, so look at different websites and choose your favourite. Here are some very good N.Z. photographers whose work is worth looking at. Interestingly there are trends in photography and the traditional formal portraits are very seldom requested these days.

Moira Blincoe Photography – Auckland


Maree Turner – Christchurch

maree turner

Simon Woolf – Wellington


The other thing about Christmas is think about giving personal gifts not mass-produced stuff! Photo books are a delightful personal present. They are easy to create and come in various price categories. Basically the price reflects the quality. $30.00 will get you a small locally produced book.

I use BLURB. Blurb is an American based company and with our low dollar they have suddenly become more expensive so watch for specials. However there are also cheaper book companies to help you self publish. Grab One in New Zealand sells Diamond Photo book deals regularly. Snap fish are cheap too. The binding is not as good as Blurb, then again the price reflects this. Apple do good books and Momento in New Zealand are the Rolls Royce of books. Overseas there are many companies; Shutterfly, Artifact Uprising etc.

I regularly make books for my grandchildren to educate and entertain  them Kiwigran goes to Africa, …India, …Turkey and …Alaska.  Some friends have bought this for their grandchildren even though it has the title Kiwigran etc. You can make books   for your family…they love the personal touch of Grandmothers books!! As a family we have a holiday  together every two years and I make a book of those wonderful times. The grand-children love them.SnipImage (5)

I mentor  a group of Probus members and several of them are currently working on books. They are excited at the prospect. I suggest there is a book in every one of us… Everyone has a ‘life story’ within them which when put onto paper, is a wonderful legacy to share with your family.  If sharing ‘your story’ is something you have thought of, or would like to do, but don’t feel you are up to writing, I have a friend who has a great deal of experience in ‘recording and writing’ life stories and she would be happy to assist you, for a nominal fee. Email me for details at  lynnmc46@gmail.com

You might do a book of your garden, or family recipes, fishing stories or the neighbourhood you live in.  Put all your photos into a folder on your desktop then open the website you plan to use and import that folder. Some companies give you two options. 1/ wing it and choose your own templates or 2/ press the button that indicates the computer will lay out the book for you.  Add a few words and you’re done. It is like mixing a cocktail… And the result is similar..euphoric!!!

One such book I made was my trip to India. A colourful record of an amazing holiday. This book, I call it a bespoke book,makes  a beautiful and special gift for anyone planning a visit or who loved their trip to Rajasthan. You can peek inside these books  using the links in pale blue.


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Family cook books my sons love this one!

Another favourite I did a year or three back featured my flower photography these books are cheaper than a large bunch of flowers, and trust me, the joy lasts much longer.


So in today’s blog I am asking you to think photography for a few minutes. Has your family had quality images taken lately? Have you a book smouldering inside that needs to be published? Do not procrastinate any longer.. the rewards are for ever. I do my books mainly for me… love what you are doing and someone else will too. Enjoy.quote


Fungus Fair?


Somewhere between Anchorage but closer  to Girdwood I spotted a sign Fungus Fair! I thought the plural of fungi was fungi but maybe not??  My curiosity aroused I hung a right and drove down a gravel road and discovered the Fungus Fair in a community hall. I was welcomed to  enter and look around. This is an annual event on the Gidwood Calendar and about 40 people were milling about admiring and  discussing the plates of fungi laid out on trestle tables.  They were  all labelled carefully and some were fresh while others seemed rather dry. There is no competition, just a chance  for fungi lovers to get together. I was welcomed in  and allowed to photograph. The Chinese woman behind the desk selling t shirts etc told me there is a large Fungus Fair in California annually.

There were  craft sales and serious books for sale and a local art gallery also featured some stained glass and wooden fungi in various shapes. A celebration to follow which sounded interesting for sure Mushrooms & Martinis…but I won’t be attending that little soirée.!imageimageimageimageimage

They had quilts, T-shirts and all in all were a serious group of Fungus lovers… A little obscure story from Alaska!!imageimage imageimage

Anyone hungry!!! I guess not.image

Abandoned Beauty


Andre Govia is renowned for his Abandoned Interiors from a Europe long forgotten. I would be too scared to enter these old derilect buildings, to start with I don’t like spiders, however he doesn’t show us any creepy crawlies. Andre shows us the beauty in these deathly empty interior, his images ask the viewer questions about these abandoned ‘scapes’.WHY? WHERE? who knows,  After all they are trespassing with what they say are good intentions. Legally they walk a fine line; Andre and his  fellow explorers  share his passion and explore the forgotten, locked up, heart breaking architectural gems long left to the ravishes of nature and time. Some folks call Urban Exploration a sport, not yet included in the Olympics. Andre is one of numerous Urban explorers residing in the UK, he is  one of the best.

I asked Andre a few questions…

I read somewhere that Andre isn’t your real name, perhaps that’s why the authorities haven’t caught you trespassing, is that true??

Well Andre is my real name and authorities don’t have anything to do with what myself and other explorers do, most locations are private and fall outside any government interest. I have been caught like most others who participate in Urban exploring, That is one of the attractions, the challenge of getting into guarded locations taking photos and getting out again. Getting caught is part of the possibilities but me and other explorers always show respect to guards and police if found as they are only doing their job .


 Have you ever been caught trespassing and if so what happened?

Yes I have been caught like many others in abandoned buildings in more than one country. The police are often very interested why we go to so much risk and drama to get into buildings sneaking around alarms and cameras to get a shot but understand once they see out passion and determination to complete the task. As soon as they search us and see that we are not taking goods from a location or have damaged the building in any way then we are normally asked to leave, the same for guards who just want to keep us out of a very dangerous building.
One of the golden rules is never name the locations, selfish yes, but necessary. After al they are trespassing with what they say are good intentions. Legally they walk a fine line between creativity and vandalism although they never touch or damage the interiors. abandoned-childrens-Tuberculosis-sanatorium

Why were these buildings abandoned with no one trying to sell the piano, light fittings etc.? 

Buildings are often left for many reasons so hard to say, we love to investigate before going to a good abandoned building, an abandoned metal hospital and old school or mansion house in the woods all have a history that adds to the experience and why they are closed and abandoned, I explore around the world and countries have different laws about what happens to buildings when their purpose in no longer required and what becomes of them after that. Myself and other urban explorers document decay and abandoned buildings without damage or theft .Then you have another fraternity who just find out where a location is and steel whatever is left for personal gain (hence why I never give location information) Then you have Another group who just arrive at a location and smash and vandalize everything, People who tar urban explorers in the same category as vandals and thieves really have no idea and I have no time for shallow people like that . Yes we are trespassers and yes we are often are in places we should not be taking photos and exploring but that’s all

Andre’s day job is being a film cameraman for a TV company. He does film editing for US and UK networks.I first discovered his work on Flick’r a photo sharing site we both enjoy. Yes his real name is Andre Govia.
I mentioned his book Abandoned Planet in a recent blog.
Andre’s work is haunting, compelling, frightening and so much more. On one page of his book ‘Abandoned Planet’ there were marble memorial slabs, so I googled the names to discover these were long forgotten headstones of prominent aristocratic men who lived in Belgium in the late 1700’s. I had always thought of marble headstones as a permanent memorial, but maybe they are not! Theatres, hospitals, schools long abandoned but not empty, wheel chairs and hospital beds slowly rusting. It challenges ones ideas of waste that is for sure! Sad that no one has restored them to their magnificence. Maybe one day…maybe never.blog4blog10 blog9

Some of the interiors are quite dark; how long are the longest exposures?   Taking photos in boarded up abandoned building with low light is a challenge that I have mastered in my own way with a mix of long exposure and light painting if needed . Others use a way that works better for them to create a style they like. All buildings have a different issue to get the shot you desire from moving floors to no floors and total darkness and the danger from falling roofs and chemicals in the air.


Two more questions –  Do you have a favourite building? If so where and why? 

My favourite location so far has been West Park Asylum (name given because it no longer exists) , A vast complex of buildings set in Woodlands in the UK , On my 43 visits there I still managed to find areas of the hospital that I had not seen before and it almost became an addiction , the musky smell of damp and decay along with that sterile hospital smell was unique and kept myself and others coming back for more , I was even there on Christmas day once for 7 hours in -6 temperature in the snow . It had it all, cctv long corridors, guards with dogs great creepy wards and danger. I had been caught there a few times and the guards even knew my name from past encounters but the game of cat and mouse continued up to the demolition and conversion day.

 How many Urban explorers are there in the UK these days?

That is a difficult question to answer to be honest. Its matter of separating urban explorers and people who find an abandoned building and take photos in it because it’s in fashion. Urban explorers are people who explore taboo locations and often document them with photos and video anything from drains to rooftops and buildings. Then you have photographers who go into abandoned building to only take photos (sometimes with models etc.) But yes it is popular at the moment but many people have been injured by just walking into buildings without taking time to prepare for the dangers within. Urban exploring is dangerous without a doubt and you only have yourself to blame if you get hurt or even robbed within an abandoned building that often  could have drug users unstable floors , Asbestos etc .


There are more hauntingly beautiful Andre Govia images here and his Flick’r site email Andre  andre.govia@usa.comblog8 blog7 blog6


Thankyou Andre for sharing your adventures  and the fact that you don’t like spiders either!   We have perhaps 5-6 older  buildings ( 100 years) in New Zealand, Government built , plain architecture.  Kingseat, Hokitika Govt. Building.   Give them a few more years 🙂 Internationally the game is on. More and more sites are being invaded such as this remote site in Kazakhstan. I can’t imagine the consequences of being caught there!!

I also enjoyed an exhibition in Auckland  a year or two ago of Detroit’s abandoned landscape by Frank Schwere.