About house swapping

This all started when my partner Margie was assigned to work in the National Library of New Zealand for three months.

This was a chance for a change of scene. Margie posted messages on some mailing lists, soliciting house-swappers. A couple of kind and generous New Zealanders offered us the use of their house in the Hutt River valley in exchange for our house in Brisbane. We all happily agreed on the house swap, and agreed to swap cars as well.

We flew to Wellington at the beginning of April 2004, then toured the North Island for ten days. Margie started work, and I looked after our daughters Lucy (7 years old) and Sally (5 years old) for the last week of school holidays. We settled into a routine of work, school and housework.

For the next couple of months Margie went to work while I kept house and looked after the girls. This involved walking to and from school on cold windy days (uphill both ways), and cooking up pots of mutton stew. There was also time for me to explore Wellington, and plot weekend trips to other places.

At the beginning of July, at the end of the school term and the end of Margie’s assignment, we set off for a couple of week’s touring in the South Island, then flew back home.

This photoblog

I love fine prints on fine paper, but I also love the web as a medium for publishing photographs — it’s quick, cheap, and has a worldwide audience. It works well for sets of linked images, where you can follow a theme through hyperlinks, and where you can enjoy colour and movement rather than subtle detail. I have already made a few sorties into this territory on this website. I started by hand coding sets of pages (such as the set of travelling photos from 1972, or the visit to Gracemere). I then tried Movable Type (for a gallery of cartes-de-visite) and JAlbum (see a gallery of photos of the O’Donovan Library).

I chose to use movable type for this house swapping photoblog, and to draw ideas from the many sites listed on photoblogs.org.


For this trip I decided to buy a new Canon 300D camera with 18-55mm zoom lens. In New Zealand I was still getting used to this gear — it seemed flimsy, under-weight and over-smart compared with my old Canon FD film cameras and manual focus lenses.

I carried a little Manfrotto 190 tripod with a hefty Cambo CBH-3 ball head and a Newtech quick release clamp — this mated with a Really Right Stuff plate screwed to the camera. This gear, and a Canon 380ex flash gun, rode in a LowePro Rover Light backpack.

I downloaded the camera images to my IBM Thinkpad x20 laptop, and made backup copies on CDR. I used Capture One to process the raw files, Photoshop for editing and compressing to jpg, with help from Fred Miranda's WPpro plugin for downsizing. In my luggage I brought along the ColorVision Spyder for monitor calibration and profiling, and I bought a cheap second-hand 17" Gateway monitor — the laptop screen is useless for image editing. I missed my desktop setup at home, with dual 17" Trinitron monitors

Movable type did all the business of uploading images and text to the web server, storing them in a MySQL database and creating web pages, using templates that I made with Dreamweaver.

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Revised 4 November 2022

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