Wednesday, 31 March 2010

An Unexpected Evening

Wendy popped down with the mail earlier on this evening – well before the 6 o’clock news.  The children had been taken to gym and dinner would not be until Martin collected the children on his way home from work by which time Wendy would have the dinner ready.  Well that was the plan!  But you know what plans are like.  And some of the best moments are the impromptu ones.

We started talking about the invitation in the post from our friend in Glasgow who married a couple of weeks ago.  The invitation is to her summer party in Glasgow to celebrate her birthday and her marriage.  It was the catalyst for Wendy’s impending visit to Scotland with Catriona and Fraser: a visit to which I am looking forward with anticipation.

Anyway after a glass of wine and some conversation about local matters we turned to the trip to Scotland and what she would do and which other countries she would take the children to see.  One topic let to another.  One glass led to another.  One hour led to another.  Martin arrived home. A phone call from the House to say dinner was in the oven.  More chat.  Eventually the family called and Wendy and Misty wandered up the drive to dinner and home.  I made my dinner.

Evenings do not come much better than that.


Someone mentioned something being possible this morning and I, without thinking about it, quoted my Mum who used to say “Wash down as far as possible, up as far as possible and then wash possible.”.  Please remember that I was brought up before the general use of showers and when a bath was not a daily occurrence.  No one had ever heard the saying before.  Is this another one purely family saying or has anyone out there heard it too?

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

They Are Beginning To Irritate Me

For about a week I have been experiencing more of the little black flies in The Cottage than I have done before.  I had always just assumed that they were ‘fruit flies’ but had no real evidence to support that because to the human eye they are just tiny black irritants.  Then a couple of days ago I decided to try and photograph one that was walking about on the bathroom mirror.  Have you ever tried to photograph a moving 3mm creature using the available light from a household bulb?  It’s not easy I can assure you.  Then this evening for the second evening running I found one in my wine – actually yesterday there were so may it got tipped out instantly.  Tonight I had the presence of mind to photograph it first.  Then, as the fly could have been there for quite a while, I tipped it out.  This was getting serious! So now I had a clear enough picture for identification.  They are called Vinegar Flies (Drosophilidae) and are attracted to the smell of fermenting fruit and other plants.  There are about 2900 species of Vinegar Fly known worldwide (at least 17 in New Zealand) and have taught us most of what we know about genetics.  Fruit flies (Tephritidae), on the other hand, are not found in New Zealand.






There you are, Pauline, I did manage to blog on the little creatures.  Wasn’t that interesting?  I bet you can’t wait for the next one.

Studebaker Regal President 8





I should explain that when this car was purchased in New Zealand this country used the New Zealand Pound (£).  The New Zealand dollar was introduced on 10 July 1967 when New Zealand decimalised its currency. The dollar replaced the New Zealand pound, which had been distinct from the pound sterling since 1933, at a rate of two dollars to one pound (10 shillings to a dollar).

Monday, 29 March 2010

The Four Agreements

On 20 March I posted Blogging As A Reason For Living and mentioned a blog entitled The Last Visible Dog.   I have been reading the blog backwards to see what other gems I could find.  I’ve not been disappointed.  Yesterday I came across The Four Agreements on that blog and, with Katherine’s permission am repeating them here (with my own photo).  I, for one, could really benefit from adopting them although, to be fair to myself, I’d like to think that I’m reasonably ok so far as the first one is concerned.

After all, even though we may never be able to sit on top of the post, we should not stop trying:


1.  Be impeccable with your word and deed.
Speak and behave with integrity.  Say only what you mean.  Avoid using words to speak against yourself or to gossip about others.  Use the power of your word and deed in the direction of truth and love.

2.  Don't take things so personally.
Most of what others do isn't because of you.  What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dreams and hopes.  When you don't mind the opinions and actions of others, you won't suffer needlessly.

3.  Don't make assumptions.
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want.  Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama.  With this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

4.  Do your best.
Even in small day-to-day tasks.  Remember however, that your best is going to change from moment to moment.  It will be different when you are tired or ill than when you are rested or healthy.  Under any circumstances simply do your best and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse and regret. 

Art Deco Soapbox Derby

Not that many of the soapbox’s taking place in the derby were really like soapboxes any more.  I think there was just one fairly traditional cart.  But it was great fun and the winner was certainly not a shrinking violet – a showgirl to the end.

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Sunday, 28 March 2010

Meet You At Ujazi

When I first came to New Zealand if Wendy and I were meeting in town it was always “Meet you at Ujazi at….”.  It seems that Ujazi is an iconic institution in Napier’s café society;  particularly as the café extends along the pavement in front of a prestigious art gallery.  We don’t meet in town so often these days because Wendy is at the Practice in Hastings most weekdays.  But when we do it’s still a case of “Meet you at Ujazi”.



Wendy waiting patiently whilst I take photos


Saturday, 27 March 2010

House in a Field of Maize


Out of the Mouths….

When I was in Northland visiting Pauline, two of her grandchildren – The Twins - asked her whether she and I ‘were an item’.   Not having any idea why they should have asked the question or what two pre-teens understood or meant by “an item” Pauline asked why they wanted to know.  They replied that it would be nice because they wanted a grandpa.  You just never can be sure what children are thinking or where they are coming from can you?

That Would Explain It Then

Walking down Emerson Street I was amused by today’s quote outside one of the shops:


Help. I’m Losing The Plot

Or have I already lost it?  Friend Who Knows Too Much pointed out to me today that not only does she not mind moths but that she and Artistic-Daughter raised a moth from a caterpillar once and were delighted with the resultant moth even though it turned out to be a little on the drab side.  Why, when I wrote that in the post about the Northern Wattle Moth, did I confuse moths with spiders?  I am getting worried.  I should know the difference: moths don’t have 8 legs and spiders don’t have wings.  Leastways I think I’ve got that the correct way round. 

Mum didn’t like moths.  I know that.  She really didn’t like moths.  Well not when they were flying around.  I think CJ showed her the beauty of moths – as he did me.   But then even if I did get it wrong about Mum she may look down and shake her head in bemusement but she won’t be sending me an email!  Unfortunately.

Actually, and here I digress as is my wont,  Mum (whom I, of course, would have said was a prime candidate for heaven) always said that she didn’t want to go to there.  Too cold.  She felt that Down Under would be much better from that point of view.  Mum could stand most things but not the cold.  How Mum and Dad managed to live in the same house all those years is beyond my understanding.  Mum liked the living room at the temperature at which butter would turn liquid instantly.  Dad liked it at, well, the temperature most of us humans can cope with.

Friday, 26 March 2010

The Ubiquitous Specsavers

They have arrived.  Now sitting on Emerson Street we have a Specsavers.  We already have Starbucks and McDonalds and KFC and…..  Arghhhh.



Curiosity has never been one of my attributes.  Well not very much any way.  Until I saw this in my Dashboard a few days ago.  Why should that arouse such curiosity in me?


So Now I Know

Why one should never put anything warm into a refrigerator.  I’ve known that for a long time but I didn’t know why.  Yesterday I was reading an Annabel Langbein cookbook which had a sidenote explaining why.  Apparently if you attempt to refrigerate before cooling the mixture will chill on the outside but not the centre and bacteria build-up is possible.

Why one should take the battery out of a laptop if it is to be kept plugged into the mains.  My laptop battery is failing after less than two years and, when trying to find a replacement, I came across the advice that I should never leave the battery in the laptop when using it, in effect, as a desktop.  The battery should be charged over 50% and taken out and stored in a cool dry place.  It should be used/recharged about every 4 weeks because a battery left on its own still consumes some of its own power.  So now (if I ever manage to find a replacement battery for my Mesh/MSI laptop) I shall obey those instructions and hope for a longer life for the next battery.

Why Opera is a great web browser.  I have been using Opera for about a month.  I also use Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari and Windows Explorer 8.  Generally I use Firefox for blogs.  The reason I use different browsers is that when I have different accounts open I can use a separate browser for each account.  However I discovered that Opera has a mail utility as part of the browser.  I would venture to suggest that it is far superior to Outlook Express (which is no longer available with Windows 7), Mozilla Thunderbird and Windows Live Mail.  And I mean superior by a huge margin.  Particularly if you have multiple mail accounts you access on POP then I think it is worth a look.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Highland Cattle

The paddock in front of The Cottage has three Highland Bulls inhabiting it.  The Alpha male in the top photo has been there as long as The Cottage has been here.  One went into a freezer last winter and one developed cancer and was put down a few months ago.  So then there were two. But now there is a new bullock on the block.  He spends a lot of time standing in the drinking trough.  Why would a bullock do that?  Do they not teach them manners in bullock school?




Kitchen Gadgets

I’ve blogged on Eagleton Notes about kitchen gadgets and at some time I’m sure I’ve mentioned on this blog that I manage very well without them.  I know that Cowgirl at Riverdale Ramblings was very scathing about kitchen gadgets and I felt almost guilty at my UK collection although, in fairness to myself, many of the gadgets have been presents from people who know that I love cooking.  When I was having treatment at The Beatson in Glasgow last year I mentioned to Marlene (See The Last Day and Steak Pies and Kindness) that I was trying to find an onion holder for when you are slicing them but had been unsuccessful.  I find it one of the most useful kitchen gadgets and wasn’t prepared to take my Scottish one to NZ!  A few days later she presented me with one.  It has been put to very good use.  Here’s the evidence!  Thank you Marlene.


Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Northern Wattle Moth

With apologies to Friend Who Knows Too Much who is not a lover of moths.  On Sunday morning a large moth (wingspan about 8 cm) flew into me in the living room.  It was a bright sunny morning and the moth was obviously unhappy at being out and about.  Originally from Australia the caterpillars eat the leaves of wattle trees.  Hence the name Northern Wattle Moth (Dasypodia cymatodes).  Maori called the moth Pepe Atua amongst other names all of which refer to the belief that these mysterious moths were the returning spirits of ancestors (a similar belief about noctuid moths is found in Madagascar).  It is also known as Owl, Moon or Peacock Moth from the ‘eye’ pattern on the wings which shine like a new moon or the tail feathers of a peacock.



Monday, 22 March 2010

The West Wing

Yesterday an era came to an end for me.  I am a great fan of the US television drama series The West Wing.  I have watched most of it over the years but the first time I watched most of it the disc with the last episode on it was faulty and I never managed to get to the end.  So I bought the whole series and have been watching it over the last year.  On Sunday I did the ironing and I watched the last episode.  I will miss it.  I cannot think of a series that I have enjoyed more. 

I suppose my view is caused to some extent by the fact that I spent my career in government – albeit local government.  Until many years after I retired no one knew my politics (not even my wife).  This was partly because I have been involved in elections most of my career (I was a Scottish Depute Returning Officer and Returning Officer for 20 years – a strictly non-political officer of the Crown) and in the UK we have a tradition of non-political senior government officers (a tradition which changed to an extent during my time in government but which I never came to terms with).

However in the last year or so I have been less reticent about my views.  If I lived in the US I would be a Democrat.  As a beneficiary of the UK’s National Health Service without which I would probably not be alive (it is unlikely I would by now be able to get private insurance) I have long felt that too many were excluded from the health care systems of North America.  So President Obama’s victory today seems to me like a Good Thing.  Will the US be able to afford it?  I don’t know.  Will the UK continue to be able to afford it?  I don’t know.  With aging populations few of our economies will continue to be able to sustain the standards of wealth to which many of my generation have become accustomed.

But I do think that President Bartlet would have been proud of President Obama.

So what series shall I become addicted to next?

Not-So-Sophisticated Transport

The Morgan Car Company built 3-wheelers from about 1911 to 1952 and they were known for their fast speed in trials due to their light weight.  I have posted on the ones seen at the Art Deco Weekend in past years but this year I saw – not in the Vintage Parade I would add – a 1934 Morgan Family.  I have been unable to find out anything about it but it is certainly one of the more basic of the cars they produced.

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Sunday, 21 March 2010

One For The Archduchess

Where are you?  It’s been a long time.  Some of your Blogland friends will be concerned.  I know.  It’s a busy time but….  We are hoping you are OK.  In the meantime when I saw this Citroen Big 15 11C at the Art Deco Weekend Parade I thought of you. So, if you are in Blogland, I hope this reminds you of La Belle France.




Saturday, 20 March 2010

A Friend Indeed

Recently Sue, a friend of many years, commented that she didn’t have a ‘handle’ on my blog like Friend Who Knows Too Much has.  Although she knows different things the sheer length of time that we have been close means that she too knows a great deal about me.  Lots of which I definitely would not wish her to share with anyone else.  So for weeks I’ve had a dilemma.  What ‘handle’ could I find find for Sue.  After all the handle applied to Friend Who Knows Too Much could also apply to Sue.  But then the handles I thought of for Sue could also apply to some other friends that I have.  So here goes:  Sue from henceforth on my Blog you shall be referred to as Friend-whom-I'd-trust-with-my-life. 

Blogging As A Reason For Living

I very rarely stray outside the safety of my small and cosy Blog world.  Yesterday my curiosity took over and I paid a visit to my latest Follower from The Simple Kiwi after all it’s a title hard to resist.  That led to me seeing the name The Last Visible Dog.  Eh?  Now that too became irresistible.  And I found a post entitled Blogging On.  It is just so true.  Of all the posts that you must visit today that one gets my vote.

Cathedral Lectern

One of the items at Waiapu Cathedral of St John the Evangelist that I did not show you was the lectern given in memory of the first Dean.  It was the only piece of the furnishing of the Cathedral to survive the Earthquake.  It will probably survive long after the present Cathedral has fallen into ruins.  After all, a thousand years is a small amount of time for such an article.




Friday, 19 March 2010

Playing The Glad Game

On 15 March 2002 Mum died at the age of 93.  She chose to die whilst she had all her mental faculties although she reckoned that she had a forgettory and not a memory.  If that was a forgettory then I’m not looking forward to what I might have as I get older.  In the period before Mum died I was staying with CJ and Jo.  Mum was still living with them although she went into a nursing home for the last few days of her life.  She was not in the slightest bit afraid of dying and wanted to rejoin her family and friends who had already passed on.  I trust that she is happily united with them.

It was a very sad time but also a time of understanding.  When I returned to Lewis, among the many cards of condolences was one from an acquaintance whom I knew only fleetingly.  It rested upright in front of me on the breakfast bar for some time – longer than it should have done - without me responding.  Then one day I had an unexpected piece of news which prompted me to ring.

So as a result of Mum’s passing I received a card.  As a result of that card I made a phone call.  As a result of that phone call I made one of the most important friendships of my life.

Some would say that God moves in mysterious ways.  Some would say that it just happened.  Some would say that it was fate.  Some would say it was karma.  Whatever.  I offer no opinion.  All I know is that if that simple chain of events hadn’t happened my life would have been very different and very much the poorer for it.

In what seem to be the very worst of circumstances one can still play the Glad Game.

Back In Blogland

Once everyone knows I’m at a Tournament the emails dry up and I become isolated from Blogland and many of the friends who email me on a regular basis.  That’s to be expected because I’m not writing many emails either.  Out at 0745 and home at 1800 with a house guest and myself to feed and water doesn’t leave a lot of time because playing croquet for a whole day without rest is tiring so we’ve been in bed early.  And I mean early – 10.30 for me sometimes.  I know that’s late by New Zealand standards but it’s at least several hours before my usual bedtime.

So this morning I’m back in Blogland.  Why so early?  Well yesterday I had 5 golf croquet matches to play at Te Mata and was due to play Association Croquet at Marewa at noon.  Impossible.  The organisation was not taking into account that some people play in both disciplines.  Anyway 5 games would usually take at least 4 hours.  With a bit of waiting I finished my matches at 1.30 pm and then would have had a 20 minute drive to Marewa. Then it would have been about 6 hours of Association.  My wrists are just not up to that sort of punishment so I withdrew from the Association Tournament on Wednesday evening.  As it happens it was fortuitous because I would have been so late arriving at Marewa it would have caused chaos.  I did pop along to see how things were going.  It was the perfect afternoon for croquet.  Shame I’m missing it.

But, hey, playing the Glad Game I get to read blogs and catch up with what’s happening in our wee corner of Blogland.  And do the mountain of ironing and clean the ranch sliders and …..  Hmmm.  Think I’ll pop down to the lawns and see what’s happening.  At least I’ll be in the sun.  In the meantime JJ Cale is making my morning a happy one.

Monday, 15 March 2010

I Still Miss You, Mum

Flora Edwards née Body died at the age of 93 on 15 March 2002. Forty years earlier we had been on holiday in Scotland: it rained a lot when we holidayed because we did so amongst hills and mountains and in August during, of course, the school holidays. August was also the wettest month of the summer. As readers know photography was a family pastime and rarely were we to be seen without a camera in hand. Which was how I managed to get this photo. I had no time to focus, properly aim or indeed think as I walked towards Mum and she struck the pose. I had the camera at my side and just pressed the button. That I only managed to cut off Mum's feet was a miracle. It is one of my favourites amongst the very many photos I took of Mum.

More Croquet - Less Time

I arrived back from Palmerston North late last night to find my guest for this coming week well ensconsed in the Cottage.  A lasagne and lots of catching up later we went to bed after midnight - very tired.  I was up before 6 am and managed to get everything unpacked and sorted and am now showered and eating my toast as I type.  Why?  Because this week I have the Hawkes Bay 76th Annual Tournament for the whole of the week.  Hopefully I'll manage to get some blogging done in the evening but this posting will be brief because we have to be on the lawns 35 minutes away for an 0830 start.   So life is very hectic and, hopefully, this week will be as enjoyable as the weekend was.  In the meantime I MISS BLOGLAND! 

Friday, 12 March 2010

Off To Palmerston North

Tomorrow I shall be playing an inter-club match against Te Mata in the morning and then Jayne and Colleen and I are setting off in Lucy for a weekend tournament in Palmerston North.  This is the tournament in which Zoe and I won the doubles last year.  We had hoped to defend our title but this afternoon Zoe sprained her ankle and is hors de combat for a while. 
It’s a great shame for me because this would have been the last opportunity for us to partner each other this season.  Zoe has been the dream partner and we have a rapport which means that we rarely have to do anything other than exchange brief looks in a match if either is in doubt as to a course of action.  Consequently our play flows.  We didn’t end up too badly in The Nationals last week. In January 2009 I said that I fully expected Zoe to become a better player than I am.  Well she’s not quite beating me around the lawns yet but I still think it’s just a matter of time.  Certainly I hope that next season she will move on to higher things with a partner who can take her further in her journey that I am able to.  Hopefully we’ll still partner each other in some of the club doubles.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Waiapu Cathedral, Napier

Yesterday morning I visited the Anglican Cathedral in Napier.  I had not done so before.  In fact, apart from attending a funeral I cannot recall being in any church in the City before today.  Mind you most churches are locked against vandals these days.  Although I didn’t visit it for the purpose of blogging nor, indeed, to take photos I ended up being treated as a tourist and decided to become one.

The present building was started in 1955 to replace a temporary wooden building which was erected in 1932 after the 1886 Cathedral was destroyed by the earthquake whilst communion was being served on 3rd February 1931.  That had been the second church on the site.

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There is more of interest in the Cathedral but I will reserve these for occasional postings in the future.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

I’ve Enjoyed Today

This is a self-indulgent posting.  Please feel free not to read it.

I slept like a log last night and, despite having eaten quite a lot of cheese after I’d returned home from the ballet, I didn’t have a bad dream – not even a night pony!

The car had to go for its Warrant of Fitness (due every 6 months after a car’s 6 years old in NZ and annually before that).  I decided to go and sit in the sun in Emerson Street and have coffee and, as I had Samantha with me, catch up with emails as well as read the paper and do a crossword.  Sometimes enforced waiting around can be really good. The sparrows couldn’t wait for the crumbs from my carrot cake.



Then I went to The Cathedral, in which I had never been. That will be another post.

Home and the third lot of washing went into the washer (today was the first day I could dry any bedding from the guests and my beds).  I decided to play truant from croquet this afternoon and spend the afternoon just doing odds and ends and reading blogs and chilling out.

Then I made an early dinner for The Family because they had lots of things to do this evening and now the dishwasher is doing in a couple of environmentally unfriendly hours what I could have done in 20 minutes.  Silly really.  I’ve done without the dishwasher most of this stay but this evening I had such a huge amount of ironing I decided it was easier to load the dishwasher.  As I write this my bed linen has been ironed and the bed re-made.  I do have alternative sheets but these are my favourite beautifully smooth sheets.  If I was very wealthy I’d have someone make my bed with clean and very beautifully ironed expensive linen every day.  That would be my luxury.