Monday, December 30, 2019

Christmas Reflections

Late afternoon on Christmas Day my two daughters, son-in-law and grandson and I went for a nice easy stroll around Lake Mangamahoe, which is a short drive from my younger daughter's new home. 

The path my daughter chose was an easy walk that we could all enjoy as far as the second swing bridge, then the younger and fitter carried on to a lookout leaving me to wander along the lakeside with my camera.  

The water at this end of the lake is shallow and still, very overgrown, with lovely reflections.

This part of the lake is home to many geese.  They are quite tame but always keep a safe distance between themselves and visitors.  I thought I might be able to get closer when I was on my own but they were still wary.

The only one I could get close to was this one who was injured.  But then I worried about stressing it so backed off and watched it from a distance.  Once it hobbled to the water it was fine and paddled out to join its mates on the water.

A bit closer to the carpark were the ducks.

The rest of the family were due to arrive the next day for belated Christmas celebrations.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

A bush wedding

Last Saturday I attended a wedding in the Tangihua Forest.  I have the bridal couple's permission to post photos I took on Facebook and the Tangihua Lions Lodge website but feel reluctant to post any here that will show their faces.

The groom and a few friends wait in the shade of the manuka trees.  The other guests were also standing in the shade around the clearing.  There had been a few spots of rain an hour earlier then the full force of the sun arrived.

To get to the clearing where the ceremony was held the bride (and everyone else) had to cross a little creek.  There's very little water in it at the moment but instead of walking a plank there was a lovely little bridge to cross.  I was reminded of the bride who was crossing the creek on a plank and, to be funny, pretended she was losing her balance but in doing so darn near did fall off the plank.  What a heart stopping moment that was!

The family group waiting for the bride at the end of the track.

The bride and her father enter the clearing surrounded by the beauty of nature.

An aisle of green.

All the 'decorations' were natural.

The front deck and dining hall at the lodge were transformed

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

I found the sign

At the very end of March, 2014 GB and I went for a tiki tour around the north.  GB always calls our trips away together our safaris but I still think of them as Tiki Tours.  In other places you might call it the roundabout way or the scenic route.  I've been living in New Zealand long enough to adopt the Kiwi term.  

In my most recent post about a visit to Pataua South, GB commented on having visited there with me and a rude sign in a camp grounds.  I've been hunting for a photo of that sign.  This old brain is really slowing down.  It took me ages to remember Labels.  Thank heavens for Labels, I really must remember to use them more.

We had taken a side road not far from the river and came to Treasure Island holiday camping ground.  It was deserted, the little store all locked up and there were Keep Out signs which I chose not to see because I wanted to see what the grounds were like.  But a large sign attached to a tree right beside the entrance stopped me.  I think we would have fallen into the mildly curious, slack and idle category, which really isn't all that serious, is it?  Or maybe we could have pleaded to be vague and lost.  I fall under that heading often enough.

Having taken a photo out the car window, I could hardly declare I hadn't noticed the sign if Camp Mother had suddenly appeared.  The reference to Camp Mother is a bit hard to explain, even a lot of younger Kiwis would not understand.  The Topp Twins are folk singers and comedians.  Camp Leader and Camp Mother are two of their comedy personalities.  They have been entertaining Kiwis for over 30 years and I've always found them very funny.  

I've seen them live twice.  The first time, around 1992/3 is still clear in my mind.  It's the only time I can remember where I've stood on a chair to get a better view and hollered and yeehaaed (you have to imagine that word) along with everyone else in the hall.  I'm always a bit more restrained than that.  But those two sure can yodel.

Oops.  Got a bit off the track there.  Ah well.

This is another photo taken a couple of days later when I missed a turn to the Flagstaff at Russell and ended up at a little beach on the other side of the hill.  We got out of the car for a look around and after a short walk were startled to see this huge ship on the other side of the rocks.  Tiki touring at its finest.

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.