Saturday, December 14, 2019


When the pohutukawa blooms there's no denying Christmas is getting closer.  It's not called the Kiwi Christmas Tree for no reason.  I think Antipodean Holly is appropriate too.  The pohutukawa around here are not in flower just yet but they are almost in full bloom along the coast.

My daughter and I parked under one last weekend when we took a drive to Pataua South for a picnic lunch.

Pataua South is a small coastal settlement of about 100 houses (mostly holiday homes) that still maintains that untouched feel.  It's on the banks of the Pataua River and is connected to Pataua North by a footbridge.  It's a pleasant half hour drive from Whangarei, so just over an hour from here.  Leone and I went for a walk across the bridge, then she carried on through Pataua North to the surf beach, where the strong wind did not invite her to linger.
Same bridge, different seasons, high tide and low tide

The bridge is just wide enough for people to pass.  It's a popular spot for youngsters to leap into the water at high tide.  

I'm totally frustrated with Blogger.  I know I'm no tech whizz but I'm like that all the time.  Why can't Blogger be the same all the time?  Instead of having days like today where there's a huge white space at the bottom of my post?  It's very annoying.  Never mind, I'm off to take photos at a wedding this afternoon, that should lift my spirits.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Visit with the housesitter

I spent most of the weekend with my daughter, who is house-sitting at the beach, at One Tree Point.  

But I took the next two photos the week before, when I popped in for a visit.  The last of the three horses obviously had something wrong with its feet, or maybe it was only one foot, it was a bit far away to see.  We speculated that it might not like walking in the shallow water but then decided that it was more likely to have been taken for a walk in the seawater to help heal a sore foot.  There was no doubt that the little white horse was enjoying his time at the beach.

I love this little stretch of beach at low tide.

A typical Kiwi summer beach scene, the dream of so many - a boat to go fishing in and a little old tractor to launch it with.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Our hairdresser's hands

The little one had been so good enduring her first haircut.  Her great aunt was wielding the scissors, three female relatives looked on, offering encouragement.  Then Lexis momentarily looked alarmed as the hairdresser took her chin in her hands.  And suddenly it wasn't so much about the haircut as having your chin in Leone's hands, something we are all so familiar with.  No other hairdresser holds our chin quite the same as Leone does.  

So Lexis had a new look for the twins' 21st on Saturday night.  

The ladies in the kitchen - the mother, grandmother and godmother.   The men are partner, friend, godfather and father.

The Nannas were invited to speak.  Maternal and paternal grandmothers and dear family friend who the twins have called Nanna all their lives.  We were doing OK until we got distracted and had a bit of a chat instead.  

Someone thought they could be trusted with knives now they are 21.  Lexis isn't so sure.

Hint to photographers.   Always check the background of your image.  

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Frog talk

I wonder if everyone has a place they like to go when they feel troubled.  I choose between the creek and the lake.  I guess water is the soother for me.

Yesterday evening I chose the lake because in summer it has the magical sound of frogs.  And because it's in a paddock which boundaries onto the bush and it's the bush that had been causing me anxiety.  

Not that the bush itself could ever cause me anxiety, I love the bush, it's my happy place, but I'd been worried because I knew there were two young foreign backpackers somewhere in there, somewhere in the 3,000 hectares (nearly 7,500 acres).  They had been in the bush since Sunday and it's very unusual for trampers (hikers) to stay overnight in the bush.  And they only had light backpacks.

I'd talked with the police who had talked with their friend who owns the car they were travelling in (which was parked near the access road to the forest) and no-one else was worried, neither the police nor their friend.

I'd also talked with a hunter who met them in the bush on Sunday and with track maintenance workers who were working in the bush this week.  The workers think they may have heard voices on Monday but, at the time thought they came from the adjacent farmland. 

What else could I do?  I put my hopes in the track workers.  Surely if the girls were lost they would go towards the sound of workmen?  If they weren't injured.  I was really fretting about them.  Although I knew it wasn't doing anyone any good.  I simply felt there must be something I could do and I hadn't thought of it.

Thankfully, there was a happy outcome.  This afternoon the hunter who had talked to them in the bush on Sunday rang me to say he'd just seen one of them walking down the road from town.  If I had a horse, I would have jumped on my trusty steed and ridden off to investigate.  Lacking a horse I jumped in the car and found the girl just around the corner from the lodge entrance.  Her friend was still in the bush and they were both fine.  Glowing with good health and  happiness after thoroughly enjoying their time in the bush.  They had walked to a hut on the other side of the mountain and had been there all the time, safe and well.  

I will go out to the lake again this evening and talk to the frogs, tell them I'm a silly old woman with an overactive imagination.  Not that they take much notice but I know they are in there somewhere.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019


The first agapanthus of the summer.  Soon they will be everywhere, growing wild along the roadside, in drains, wherever their seeds have landed.  It thrives here in the north.  Some councils list it as a pest species as it is a major threat to native plants.  Still, I find them a welcome sight.

Inspired by Betty from Taranaki and her blog Photographing New Zealand where she hosts a weekly photo link up - My Corner of the World.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Early flowers

Three years ago I noticed the manuka (or tea tree) was flowering earlier than usual.  This year it is flowering even earlier than it was in 2016.  That's said to be a sign of a long, hot summer which will make the summer hard for the farmers.
Family and friends will be travelling this road this weekend to celebrate the 21st birthday of our twin girls.  Where did those years go?  It seems like yesterday that the family were crying tears of happiness at the news they were to be ours.
Not flesh of my flesh,
Not bone of my bone, 
But still miraculously my own.

The cabbage trees are also flowering at the moment.  I love their creamy white flowers.  

Monday, November 25, 2019


One of the pleasures of living quietly is being available to babysit my delightful little great-grand-daughter.
I love how she has her little routines when she's here.  Within a few minutes of arriving she'll take my hand and lead me to my bedroom where she points to the hats and handbags, to where my scarves are kept and to my jewellery (such as it is but it impresses a 3 year old).  She always chooses the same things but lately has been mixing up the jewellery a bit.  And she always chooses a different pair of shoes.  The girl likes to accessorize.  Up till recently, she would keep her costume on all the time she was here but now she takes them off after a while, puts them away and then moves on to other things.  Now that the summery weather has arrived it's kicking balls around outside.  I wonder what will come next?

I didn't have any cherry tomatoes for her last week but she lit up when she spotted the grapes.  Obviously, I didn't give her enough as when I wasn't looking she climbed up on the back of a chair and helped herself to a few more.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Pretty and shy

Now that my daughter has moved into her new home, I will miss the pretty cottage garden at the house they were renting in New Plymouth while the house was being built.

Although the house was very close to the centre of the city, it was a peaceful and picturesque location with prolific bird life.

From the dining room window:

The view from the back of the house.  Lots of lovely trees.

Monday night was soccer night for Aiden.  Honestly, it looked like thousands of kids scurrying around.  Probably only hundreds but there sure were a lot of them.  I think I was the only one who was impressed by the setting.

I don't plan to be away again between now and Christmas.  It's time to quietly enjoy my Christmas preparations.  

Saturday, November 23, 2019

River Valley Run

Looking across the farm to our neighbour's hills.

Inspired by Betty from Taranaki and her blog Photographing New Zealand where she hosts a weekly photo link up - My Corner of the World.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

One down, one to go.

Well, actually it's two to go but my twin grand-daughters are having a joint 21st so only one more 21st party to attend.  For now, anyway.

Jami had her party last Saturday night in Wellington.  Because she lives there attending Victoria University and the rest of her family are up here in the north, she did the organising herself.  And what a great job she did.

I took heaps of photos on my new camera.  I can confess in all honesty that whizz bang cameras are beyond me.  The camera is capable of sending photos directly to my computer but I'm not capable of giving it the right instructions.  I can't even get the photos directly to my computer.  It's causing me no end of frustration.

Luckily, I was too tired to get up from the table after our morning-after breakfast and fetch my camera and just picked up my phone for a few shots.  Here's the birthday girl and her big brother, Michael looking at the book I wrote for her for her birthday.  I think, looking at that smile, that she liked it.

Mind you, she was a pretty perky girl for someone who had partied so hard long into the night.  Oh, for the resilience of the young!

We all look pretty lively for a tired family.  Can someone explain to me what it is with the young that they like to stick their tongues out in photos?  I just don't get it.

Thankfully my daughter, Justine took heaps of photos.  She also took over the food arrangements from Jami and made it took pretty. 

A family friend carried the cake from Auckland.  Like the scorpion for the Scorpio birthday girl?

Big brother having a laugh at his 12 year old self on the video.

Make a wish, Jami.

Aunt and mother of the birthday girl ready to party.

The next 21st party is in a week and a half.  I think I should be recovered by then.

Friday, November 15, 2019


Pukeiti Gardens are listed as one of Taranaki's top 20 visitor attractions.  And, in all my trips to Taranaki, I had not been there.  I didn't know what I was missing and will definitely return again. It's owned and maintained by the Regional Council and hosts one of the world's biggest and most diverse collection of rhododendrons.  But its the backdrop of lush native rainforest that really sets them off.  The property covers 360 hectres (890 acres), including 26 hectares (65 acres) of garden with a total of 21 km (13 miles) of walkways.  Next time I visit it will be during the hours the mobility vehicle operates.  

Most paths are wide enough to accommodate the mobility vehicle

There are a number of walks to choose from ranging from 35 minutes to two hours.  My daughter and I did the Rhododendron Stroll with a little detour into the Valley of the Giants Walk.

I loved the little treehouses scattered around the grounds.  They are part of the Kids Treehouse Trail which is a free self-guided activity through the gardens using a satchel which can be collected from outside the Cafe.  The satchel holds cards which guide youngsters through the garden to each treehouse with hidden clues, facts and questions.  I suspect a clue to this treehouse might have something to do with the giant weta sculpture clinging to its side.
 Manicured lawns leading back to the visitors' centre and cafe, with the ranges of Mt Taranaki in the background.

 (I want to see the Giant Rata tree next time.)

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Summer days are near again

Hirst Cottage and Waiongana

Hirst Cottage is just down around the corner from where my daughter has been living in New Plymouth while their new home is being built.  It is the middle house in a row of five timber framed, heritage listed (built 1862) colonial style homes.  The garden is quite minimalist and linear with a simple green and white colour theme - and the occasional splash of red.

My daughter trying out the gazebo and wondering if such a thing would work in her new garden. 

The house next door, although not an entrant in the Garden Festival, is very pretty also.

It's easy to spend a lot of time in Waiongana Gardens with its 4 hectacres of varied spaces.  

The Pavilion

Now I know we were there for the garden but, honestly, if you could have seen the cakes that were on offer in the Pavilion, you'd be distracted, too.

 Cakes from The Cake Diary