Wednesday, 30 December 2009

One of Those Days

On the whole most of my days are Good days but occasionally I have 'one of Those Days' which could have been slightly better.  What surprises me is just how unphased I seem to get by Things these days.  Today, for example, had its moments.

Firstly it's been a wonderful, hot day with a really good breeze this morning.  I've caught up on quite a few blogs. I went to town.  I cancelled Sky TV and got a Freeview box and installed it - in reverse order, I'm not sure why I didn't write it the other way round.

On the way into town an Aussie lad in his step-mother's car drove into the back of The Handbag. He did no damage to The Handbag but hundreds of dollars worth to her car. I almost felt sorry for him. Mind you I did have the advantage of modern technology when I stopped (a woman stepped onto a crossing rather unexpectedly). He was a good way behind but the skid marks were three or four times the length of his (large) car so heaven knows what speed he was doing. Glad Game: he didn't have an airbag. Replacing it would have been greater than the value of her car!

Then I left my car keys in the lock of the boot of the car and went off into town. A kind chap took them into the nearby police station.  The constable left a message on my phone. Fortunately I went into the Police Station first so no-one had to bring the spare keys out to me.  Glad Game:  well, what's not to be glad about that one.  The kindness of people is all about us.

And last night I sat on the deck on the 'phone from sundown until the moon lit the land:

And then I went up to The House and I looked at the moon through Martin's telescope.  I love the moon.

Christmas Dinner: A Reflection

Christmas Dinner as seen through the reflections in Jamie's sunglasses.  It was a wonderful, warm, sunny day and we had Christmas Dinner outside. 


Tuesday, 29 December 2009


When Pauline was showing me around Northland we arrived in Kaiwaka in a torrential shower.  I wanted to go into the famous cheese shop there.  We parked in the area between the Eutopia Café and the Cheese Shop. I managed to get a photograph of the café despite the rain but it was closed. It's definitely somewhere to revisit.

You Just Never Can Tell

This morning I wrote to a friend  saying that I thought it was going to be a Very Strange Day today. This morning the air was really heavy. The temperature last evening fell to about 8 degrees despite the fact that it was raining. This morning it was still sort of raining and the air was filled with the scent of the country after the rain.  It pervaded every nook and cranny of The Cottage. I like that. The temperature had soared to the dizzy heights of 18 deg on the deck and the ranch sliders were wide open. The birds wear vying with Sibelius for the attention of my ears.

Just before lunch I decided that I had to pop into Taradale to post a packet to Scotland - a pleasant 15 minutes drive. Taradale, that is, not Scotland!  I really must be more careful about my grammar.  It was still threatening enough for me not to put the hood down - and that is unusual if it's not actually raining.  I popped into the supermarket on the way home for a couple of odds and ends.

As I came out of the supermarket the sky was showing decided signs of improvement.

I've been doing some housekeeping this afternoon.  The mood took me.  How can one person create so much dust?  Oh yes.  I live in the middle of a pasture and orchards.  Despite the fact that the carpets had looked clean I took two complete empties of the vacuum cleaner off them!  That's a LOT of dust and pollen and whatever makes up all that dust.  Anyway you really didn't want to waste valuable blog reading time reading that nonsense.

The real point of the (rather pointless) story is that it is now 1730 and we've had 5 hours of full sun and the temperature is 32 deg C (90ish F).  I thought living in the Outer Hebrides was the place to live for unpredictable weather.  They say you can get four seasons in a single day.  You can but there's not that much difference between the seasons!   So why am I writing this and not sitting in my new sun-lounger with a cool drink in my hand doing a cross-word?  Yes.  Why indeed?

Monday, 28 December 2009

Napier's Christman Tree

In the centre of Napier we have a rather unconventional Christmas Tree.  It's not received universal acclaim in the City.  I rather like it but we have been lucky enough since it was erected to have had plenty of sun to show off its reflective surfaces.  It would be rather uninteresting on a dull day.  One problem is that the sun is so bright it can be hard to see the colours.  In order to photograph the colours I had to stop the camera down to the maximum and reduce the shutter speed to 1/2000 of a second.



Fraser (third son of Wendy and Martin) is quite an amazing person.  He is quite dedicated to something if he really wants to be.  He spent a week on holiday once constantly (and I mean constantly) attempting and then perfecting a single gymnastic move because he knew that he should be able to do it to a very high standard. 

On the other hand his concentration can be completely non-existent.  We were all having dinner at The House one evening last week when Fraser looked up and suddenly said, in all seriousness, to the table in general "When did Graham come in?"  I'd been there in the same room as him for about half an hour before dinner and we were about 10 minutes into the meal and I was sitting next to him!  And he was completely serious.

And for Christmas he made his Dad a Christmas Card which contained a considerable amount of time and effort:

Sunday, 27 December 2009

A Very Big Thank You

I could go on blogging about my trip to Northland for weeks and I may yet do that.  The time has come, however, to tell you about a magical evening walk.  It is one thing seeing places on a blog.  It's entirely another to walk around those pictures and experience them for one's self.  Which is what I did on a beautiful Sunday evening before I flew back South from Northland.  This was the wonderful culmination of a really wonderful weekend.  A weekend in which I was fortunate enough to experience Pauline's hospitality and a share of her knowledge of the area she knows so well.  For all that - a very big thank you.

The Uppity Downity Mountains from the other side: the view before breakfast

The Vodafone Tower which was the point of focus for my time in Northland.

 A granddaughter with a love of speed

 and scrambling

 The Creek

 On the far side of The Farm

Granddaughters and horses (there's an electric fence between them).

A Certain Theme

There seemed to be a certain theme running through my presents:


Christmas Came and Christmas Went

As I start writing this posting it is 4pm on Sunday 27th. Where did Christmas go?  It's no secret that I am not a Christmassy person.  I never have been for as long as I can recall.  Well, perhaps that's not quite true.  I looked forward to Christmas at my maternal grandparent's who lived a quarter of a mile from us when CJ and I were  young children.  But at the time about which I am talking CJ might not even have been born.  I was really keen on Christmas principally because my hero used to come and visit.  In my memory he always did but, of course, memory playes tricks.  My hero was my Mother's Brother, Uncle Eric.  In a funny sort of a way he remained my hero until he died about 6 years ago.

Anyway this year the two youngest children and Misty came down to The Cottage at 7.45 to summon me up to the House for 8am to open Santa's stockings.  It's great.  Santa brings us all a stocking. - even I.   Well  I  suppose that I have been quite a good boy this last year.

Before Christmas Wendy put up some decorations including a Santa which Catriona immediately declared to be Santa Graham because, in her view, it looked like me.  Hmmm.  I'm not too sure about that.


 Inevitably I felt that I had to recored events for posterity:


I won't have to borrow Santa's needle and thread again to sew buttons on.

Misty decided not to be left out

The children received 'family' gifts.  The air hockey was my favourite

but by far the biggest hit - worth it's weight in occupied children - was the Big Band experience for the Play Station 2

of course Fraser, being Fraser, couldn't just scoot along the ground

and under the flawless blue sky

Martin cooked breakfast and we drank bucks fizz.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

The School Bus Driver Calls

Yesterday morning Mrs Duncan came down the deck with heavy tread.  Well, actually, you don't have to have a heavy tread.  If you are wearing shoes anyone walking along the deck sounds heavy.  Anyway there was Mrs Duncan, the school bus driver, at the door bearing flowers.  "Odd" I thought "Why would Mrs Duncan be bringing me flowers?"  And that was exactly the same thing that the children wondered.  I managed to keep them wondering for most of the day and evening until, when we were having dinner (I catered for the family on Wednesday), Wendy who was not, of course, likely to take anything in this world for granted, read the card and broadcast the results.

In actual fact Mrs Duncan, in addition to driving the bus, delivers flowers for some of the local florists.  Mystery solved.

The flowers are magnificent and now stand on my table in a vase most suited to them.  The scent they are throwing into the room this evening now all the doors are shut for the night is strong and heady and redolent of long summer evenings.  Which is just as well given that that's what it's like here.


In actual fact the flowers were a gift from Friend Who Knows Too Much  and who, therefore, knows that I love flowers.  I know that she'll be having a wonderful Christmas with Airplane Mad Partner  (He's actually even more mad about a particular football team but tif I mentioned that it would give the game away) and Daughter Who  Loves Horses and Very Artistic Daughter (who sends me the most outrageous Christmas and Birthday cards showing little respect for my grand age).  They are all in England at the moment and, in contrast, to our midsummer they were making a snow bear as I received the delivery.  

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Sunday, 20 December 2009

It's a Small World

Last September CJ, Jo and I went to Carr Farm and in a gift shop there saw some metal artworks.  I had never seen them before and wsa very taken with them and bought one which now sits in my Eagleton home on the outside of the bathroom door.  CJ was very taken with one particular one of some fish - it's the last one on his post (see Carr Farm above).   When I was in Nautical Trenz in Whangarei Town Basin last weekend I saw exactly the same fish artwork that CJ had fallen in love with.  So there you are.  Travel from one side of the globe to the opposite and you can buy exactly the same unusual piece of artwork - made somewhere in between no doubt.  It is a very small world these days.

The Town Basin, Whangarei

It seems hardly possible that a week has passed since I was staying in Northland and a week and two days since I took these pictures in Whangarei.  How time it doth pass so quickly.  These were taken in the Town Basin in Whangarei.

The large and the small

Whilst there's nothing new in a group of new 'old' shops on the water front these have been very well done and there is a superb gift shop called Nautical Trenz (of which more later)
I love the detail and superb quality of this public bench
 And every public place has to have a clock - especially for Scriptor there is a blue post box next to the red and grey one at the base of the tower