Sunday, August 18, 2019


I don't know how there are any flowers left on my rhododendron tree, there are so many carpeting the ground below it.  The wind has been strong today and the little flowers being blown against the windows are making little pitter patter sounds.

I have lovely flowers inside the house, too, thanks to my younger daughter who I met in Matakana for lunch on Friday.  She had been in Auckland to speak at an event she organised and we'd arranged a catch up along with Caralee, her guest speaker from the Gold Coast in Australia and Caralee's mother.  

Justine and Caralee are Instagram bloggers (I think that's what's they're called). It's a whole world of stuff I don't understand.  They both write about healthy eating and lifestyles.  And the number of people who read their posts and follow them is astonishing.  Caralee has published a few cook books and has 12,100 followers.  My daughter has 3,900 which I thought was pretty out there until I met Caralee!  

Anyway, I now have a lovely, modern cook book - professional photos, high quality paper with pretty basic, healthy recipes and Master Chef presentation.  I think it belongs on the coffee table more than in the kitchen where I'd worry about getting it messy.

Mothers and daughters enjoyed a first class lunch at the restaurant at the Sculptureum in Matakana.  If I close my eyes I can still see (and taste) that beef cheek.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Spy camera

My camera is still being temperamental.  I suspect the 'fix' was temporary.   The cell phone takes OK photos but doesn't perform as binoculars as well as the camera does.  With my eyesight not as sharp as it used to be, I'm now in the habit of reaching for the camera when I want a closer look at something.

Something caught my eye on the farm the other day.  A flash of white where there shouldn't be any.  I used the phone and the result was no help whatsoever in identifying the white thing - it had moved!  So my guess was it was a vehicle across on the side road.

But I quite like the photo I got anyway.  The little white you can see on the left is a puddle from recent rain. 

Oh yes, there has been a lot of rain.  Today we're having several seasons in one day.  This morning was warm and sunny.  I heard the roll of distant thunder as I was heading home from the lodge.  An hour or so later a poor excuse for a storm passed over us,  now it is dull, overcast a bit windy and getting cold.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Early morning in the bush

It's not often that I go to the lodge early in the morning.  Let's face it I don't do anything much early in the morning.  My 'not a morning person' itis has intensified since I retired.  I nearly said it's got worse but there's nothing bad about it in my book.  

The way I look at it is I appreciate early morning delights all the more because of their rarity.  I must be getting old, I said that without smirking.

The sun peeking around the corner had the ferns glowing. 

and around the corner ...

Friday, August 2, 2019

The big box

A neighbour picked up some serving bowls, plates and cutlery for the lodge on the last day of a sale in town.  One of the lovely big plates was the last in the shop and we wondered if I might be able to get a couple more on line.  Yes, I could - at the sale price, too.

I pondered the wisdom of having them delivered by post but reasoned if a store sells china online they must know a thing or two about packaging.  And it made more sense to have it posted than to make a trip to town to pick them up.  Our road is in a terrible state at the moment and I sometimes feel guilty when I use it and add to its deterioration.  The mailman will be coming along the road regardless.  I pity the poor man - and the school bus driver - who have to drive it every weekday.  Let's hope that our neighbourhood letter of complaint to the council doesn't fall on deaf ears.  Last time someone complained the council sent out a truck load of gravel and two men with shovels to fill in the potholes! 

A couple of days later when the mailman arrived at my back door and removed a large box from his van I thought it must be a delivery for the farm.  But, no, it had my name on it and "Fragile" stickers, so I toiled through the many layers of packaging wondering what it was.

I now have enough bubble wrap and brown paper to keep me going for life, I think.  I just hope I can iron the wrinkles out of all that lovely brown paper.  There is so much of it, it seems wasteful.    

There was more brown paper in the bottom of the box and my cat has decided that she now has a comfy new home.  I couldn't even get her to open her eyes for a photo.  


Sunday, July 28, 2019

In the pink

Pink seems to be the colour of the moment.  Glimpses of it erupting from a cactus catch my eye as I come up my driveway.

Out the front of the house an old moss encrusted magnolia tree that I thought was dead is showing signs of new life, too.

Thursday, July 25, 2019


From time to time I have the loveliest neighbours one could imagine.  Maybe I should say the loveliest I could imagine or hope for because I accept not everyone loves cows like I do. 

A farmer from about 6 kms down along the road grazes the land beside the lodge access road.  Her cattle are stud limousins, the quietest of quiet animals, extremely placid.

The past few days they have been helping us keep the lodge access roadsides under control.  They can get to places a man on a tractor cannot and they enjoy a meal of roughage.

When I went up to the lodge a couple of days ago I found them all sitting on the top of the hill enjoying the winter sunshine.  Those on the road begrudgingly hauled themselves to their feet and a few peered in through the car windows at me as if to see if they knew me.

Each cow has her name on an ear tag.  Say hello to Jackie.

There's always one loner and there she was right at the bottom of the hill.

and holding her ground

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Visitors and the finals

Any visit from a grandchild is always welcome.  A week long visit is even more so.

Justine and Aiden have now gone home and the house seems quiet without the sounds of an 8 year old in constant motion.  

I arrived early at the airport to meet them so took a little drive to get a pic of Whangarei Harbour.  The tide was out and my phone doesn't take the best photos but better than nothing.  The good news is I think my camera is working again.  You'd think I'd know, wouldn't you?  We'll have to see if the "fix" works.

While Aiden was here the rugby team my son coaches played in their grand finals.  Aiden is a very enthusiastic rugby supporter and thoroughly enjoyed himself.  We all did actually.  Especially as Dan's team won.  We were sitting in the grandstand on the opposite side of the field and I was keeping an eye on my son, he's usually quite a relaxed, laid back character,  but I could tell from his body language how nervous he was.  That's him on the far right in the photo below, sitting, arms folded and looking tense.  

We waited after the game by the tunnel where the players return to the dressing rooms to cheer the players and congratulate them on their win.  All the players had gone and still there was no sign of Dan.  I guessed he would be talking to someone and sure enough he was having his moment of glory being interviewed by someone.  My daughter got this shot when he finally appeared and his three man cheer squad welcomed him.  

Image may contain: 1 person, standing, shoes, basketball court and outdoor
I think the original quote by Fred R Barnard is,
"A picture is worth ten thousand words." 

It felt quite different watching rugby from a grandstand rather than being so close to the play on the sideline at our local field.

The weather has been iffey but one fine day Aiden and I paid a visit to the lodge and had a little walk in the bush to the Confidence Course.  One of the members of the trust that owns the lodge has mowed the long, long grass on either side of the access road.  It looks quite different.

It's been a while since a school stayed at the lodge, summer seems to be the time for most school camps.  The last lot of students to stay built some terrific bivouacs and were so proud of them they couldn't stand to follow the correct procedure of returning the materials they had used to the forest floor.  

Aiden inside one of the bivouacs

Balancing act at the Confidence Course

Waiting for the children to return

I'm loving living on a hill.  Foggy mornings are so much more enjoyable.

My daughter and I enjoyed a catch up with her long time friend, Kat, in the Town Basin.  29 years ago when they first met I would have been wondering what they were plotting if I'd seen them  chatting and laughing like this.  They had some great time together, those two.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Goat in a coat

A goat in a coat went a-wandering.  I wonder what he would see.
Actually there were two goats in coats but it doesn't sound quite as good.

When I stopped to photograph this one I discovered my camera is stuffed/had it/dead.  It's been ailing for some time so it's demise didn't come as a complete shock but it saddens me all the same.  So all photos until further notice will be taken on my phone.  

No, they had not gone a-wandering, they were tethered by the side of the road.  I didn't notice the black one until my return trip, he was so well camouflaged.  Even his coat was black.

They were just the first of the sights when I went wandering to Dargaville earlier this week.  The weather has been so blah but Monday morning was reasonably fine so I took the long way round, along the upper reaches of the Northern Wairoa River.  It's usually rather muddy this far upstream but there was just enough blue in the sky to give it a reflected tinge of blue.

Traffic jam

The Uppity Downities, my hills of home,  from a fresh angle

Shortly after I took this last photo, just before you drop down out of the hills at Araphhue, just south of Dargaville, it started to rain again.  Ah well!

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Four seasons

Watching the sky and wondering how much colder it will get before it rains.  Because it is going to rain.  I'm so sure, I've scrapped my plans to go and watch the local rugby team this afternoon.  My son coaches them and I haven't been much of a supporter.  When the sun was shining this morning I felt the urge to change that.  Then the temperature dropped and the clouds same rolling in.  You have to be a hardy soul to be a rugby team supporter around here.  Just standing on the side line for 80 plus minutes is hard enough for me.  Standing in the rain - out of the question.  Fair weather fan I am.  

Mind you the morning started very foggily.

By mid morning I was admiring the rhododendron, so pretty against a deep blue sky. 

I've already booked my ticket to be in Taranaki for the Garden Festival this November.  The festival used to be called the Rhododendron Festival and they are flowering everywhere in that region at that time of year.  Why my tree is flowering now I have no idea.   

 But I'm glad it is!

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

A first time for everything

I find it reassuring that even now, well past my three score years and ten I can still be delighted and surprised in an ordinary supermarket carpark.  

My daughter, Leone and I were returning to my car and couldn't help but notice a car parked extremely close to mine and young girl having difficulty helping an elderly lady out of the passenger seat of that car.  The gap was small and the elderly lady not very flexible or mobile.  The girl somehow, with lots of laughter, managed to get her passenger out of the car and through the gap before noticing us.  Her passenger didn't linger but made her way slowly into the supermarket.  The girl was laughing but embarrassed and very apologetic about parking over the lines defining the parking spaces and being so close to my car. She said another motorist had been watching her attempts to park and shaking his head and that she'd got really flustered.  

She then handed her car keys to Leone and asked her could she "fix" it for her.   Leone hesitated, then laughed and agreed.  The thought crossed her mind that the whole thing could be part of a scam, was she putting herself in danger or leaving me in danger.   Isn't it sad that we now think that way?  I have to admit the thought didn't cross my mind, that I trust my instincts with people and this lass was simply a lovely girl who'd been talked into taking her grandmother to the shops.  She was naïve to hand her car keys to a stranger but I find it refreshing that there are still teens out there who think older people are more likely than not to be helpful. 

I hope she got herself and her passenger home safely - and that she has a few more driving lessons before going into another carpark.  

Friday, June 21, 2019

The arrival

A friend commented a couple of days ago that winter really arrives here on 20 June.  It actually came a day early with the first frost of year coming on Wednesday.  I must admit I didn't see it as I felt a chill in the air when I stuck my nose out from under my blankets and stayed in bed until I felt confident the sun was chasing it away.  Such are the luxuries of my life!  Yesterday was cold and windy but I ventured out to my exercise class - and there were only five of us turn up.

Today looks a lot more winterish, the sky so grey it's almost white and my world has been consumed by mist.  When I lived in the little house down on the flats the outlook would have been totally dismal but I find looking out at the world quite different up here on the hill.  

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Remember when

A friend who I partied with in my teens, has reminded me of the fun we had at 'Kinkabool' in Surfers Paradise on Queensland's Gold Coast.  Happy memories of surfing, basking in the sun, before we knew it wasn't good for our skin, when we thought it showed we were healthy and active.  We were.  A lot of that activity may have happened after the sun went down at places like Kinkabool.  
The Surfers Paradise FB page has a Throwback Thursday and featured Kinkabool.  Built 1959-60,   the 11 storey "high-rise" was the Gold Coast's first high-rise and one of Queensland's earliest!
Situated one block to the south of Cavill Avenue, 'Kinkabool' is now heritage listed and one of the few buildings remaining that represents what was the heart of burgeoning modern Surfers Paradise in the 1950s.

That's a bit harsh, I thought.  A building that was new in my youth is heritage listed!!  Harsh or not I'm glad they are retaining it, even if just as a quaint reminder of how things were 'in the olden days'.  In the days when Surfers was just about the surf and fun, before the glitz and glamour arrived.  Before the apartment buildings started reaching for the sky and the main focus of the places is no longer the sea.  Before they started building high rises right on the beach front with their shadows falling on the beach
I'm reining myself in before I get carried away.  I have no right to express an opinion about Surfers Paradise, I haven't been there since the 70s.    And on that occasion I stood in the middle of a street and looked upwards and saw just a small patch of sky - and cried.  I felt like I was in a concrete jungle and although I was quite close to the beach I couldn't hear the waves above the sound of the traffic.  It's a wonder I wasn't run over.  Probably got my timing right with traffic lights.  I know I just repeated over and over "They've ruined it."  Luckily I was with one of my brothers and most of them thought I was nuts years before that happened.   
Surfers Paradise today.  I can't bring myself to find a photo away from the beach.
photo courtesy of Facebook Visit Surfers Paradise page

Monday, June 17, 2019

The new build

Just look at that Taranaki mud!  Seems a shame to build a house on such rich, good soil - it's sure to produce a good garden.

We tip-toed around the muddiest bits, as I only had one pair of shoes with me, to check out progress on my daughter's new home.  It's quickly taking shape.  I guess progress doesn't seem quite so fast when you are on the spot.  

The cloud lifted from over Mt Taranaki just a little while we were there.  And these were the only photos I got of the mountain this visit.  Flying home yesterday I was a little jealous of the girl in the window seat beside me as she took photos of the mountain clearly visible in all his glory.  My blogging friends who have been around for a while might remember when I shared the legend of Taranaki here.  That explains why I call the mountain a 'he'.

I love being away, visiting Taranaki (or elsewhere) but it's always good to be home again.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Fence toppers

My housekeeping turned up a post in Drafts from a couple of years ago. I took these at the Maritime Museum in Dargaville.  I'll go back next time I'm in Dargaville and see if they are still there or if they were part of a specific exhibition.  My brother, Peter, used to mow lawns for neighbours back in the days of these push blade mowers. I guess you'd call them vintage mowers now.  Bet he wishes he'd come up with this idea!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019


Babysitting a child with an ear infection who knows how to entertain himself.  With the ear infection he's a little off colour and not up to Games with Granny, although sick or not he still beats me at card games.  And the whole family beat me at Scrabble last night.  Luckily they're a small family, only three of them, so I don't feel utterly brainless.  Fourth is only just out of the medals.

So here I am in Taranaki, in New Plymouth this time, my only duties keeping the fire stoked and checking on the child occasionally.  The perfect day for some housekeeping.  I decided I'd do some blog housekeeping and went through the list of blogs I've followed for the past ten years.  So many of my favourite bloggers are no longer active.  Most who have stopped just abruptly disappeared.  Here one day, gone the next.  So like life.  

Just outside the kitchen/dining room window where my daughter and her family are living while their new house is being built, is a gully with lots of beautiful big, trees which are attractive to several different birds.  It's hard to imagine such a quaint and quiet street with a stunning bush outlook so close to the city.  Practically in the CBD.  Of course, it's been here a long time.

Earlier today, there were so many birds flitting past that when I caught a flash out of the corner of my eye, I thought the floaters had returned. I had them a while ago.  Apparantly, a lot of people have them and learn to ignore them but I found them very disconcerting and had my eyes checked out by a specialist.  All good.