new zealand | Jillian Sullivan
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otago cycling rail trail

Cycling Central Otago – Day 16: On the trail

The Ida Burn is bank to bank again, snow melt and the rain that fell last night. We take our mountain bikes for a change, interested to check the state of the creeks, and head down the rail trail. Just out of the village there’s a pear tree in full white blossom. Its fragrance perfumes […]

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jillian sullivan strawbale house

Cycling Central Otago – Day 15: Firewood

When you live in the coldest valley in New Zealand (-21 degrees last year) firewood is a big priority. A neighbour, Pete, came over with his log splitter and my bike stayed put till every golden log was split and stacked against my lime washed walls. Firewood laps the house I’d lost my confidence a […]

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cycling otago day 14 gravel roads

Cycling Central Otago – Day 14: Gravel Roads

Dressed in cycling gear, helmets and gloves, Quintana and I pause in the kitchen to listen to a scientist on National radio talk about the melting ice sheets. It’s a loop he describes – the warming oceans melting the ice, the less ice the more the oceans heat up. The warmer the oceans, the stronger […]

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cycling otago day 13 green

Cycling Central Otago – Day 13: Green

The blue hustings have come down from the hayshed down the road, and now the dominant colour all through the countryside is green. The willows have finally unfurled, there are scrawls of willows along the Ida Burn, in paddocks, beside ponds. The lucerne down the valley, where the rainfall is higher, is almost knee deep. […]

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cycling central otago day 12

Cycling Central Otago – Day 12: Wind

Hail for a change, this spring morning. A friend rings and I leave the fire when the sky quietens and go outside to weed the lavender and bulbs while I talk to her. We discuss the coming protest about the big irrigation schemes in Canterbury. She’s unable to go; I will go for both of […]

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cycling central otago merino

Cycling Central Otago – Day 11: Merino

Sleet moves in a swathe across my paddock towards the Dunstans. Bartali and I sit by my fire discussing the possibility of a bike ride in an hour, when we’ve both done some work. I’m reading Gaston Bachelard’s Poetics of Space (five years after building my strawbale house) for research for an essay. So much […]

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wedderburn road

Cycling Central Otago – Day 8: Spring

There’s something in the air that has us looking around, thinking maybe the cold is almost over. “It must be spring,” I call across the road to Ken. He’s with his ute and dog outside the general store. “Yes, I was watching the birds flutter around the digger in my front paddock this morning. They […]

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otago sky

Cycling Central Otago – Day 7: Village duties

For the first time in weeks the land has dried out enough to ride my bike from the house to the road. The sky is grey though, and rain clouds coming up from the south. Time to get riding before the weather changes again. Contador and I settle into good pace up the valley. We […]

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Feeding the Page

A guest blog I wrote for Headland journal, in the midst of mud-making, helped me feel better about all the other things a writer needs to get done as well as writing… That’s one of the best things about being a writer – everything feeds the page: remorse, trout, my middle of the night hospital […]

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sorting stones

Choosing Stones & Sorting Words

“Sorting words,” poet and neighbour Brian Turner said, “is like choosing stones; setting some aside, discarding some, placing others with care in the right place, to make something of craft and beauty that will last.” We talked about this business of word selection while cementing in the last selection of stones, collected in haste at sunset […]

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