Monday, 29 November 2010

I Considered Modesty

but then decided wotthehellarchiewotthehell.   I've just had an excellent tournament and why shouldn't I be proud of the achievement?  I may have told you before about Miss Twomey who was the Headmistress of the Prep School to which CJ and I went and who, when I was 5,  stressed in one lesson that pride was one of the seven deadly sins and then in the next told us that we should have pride in our work. When I queried this (which, as a five year old, seemed to me to be completely incomprehensible) I was told off for being insolent (or whatever it was I was supposed to have been).   After that I always thought that Miss Twomey was logically challenged.

Anyway I played in three events at the Tournament:  Handicap Association Croquet Singles,  Handicap Golf Croquet Doubles and Championship Golf Croquet Singles.  I enjoyed the first two events and learned a few things at the first event.  I won the Championship event beating a few pretty good players along the way (and, in turn, suffering an occasional defeat by players whom I might have been expected to beat).

All in all it was a great time away.  the Rangitira Club in Dannevirke is an absolutely wonderful facility and the players are excellent hosts.  However there are so few of them the Club may not survive another year.  That would be so so sad.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Time to Go

Carol's and my son and Gaz's brother, Andrew, died in 2006 but his details are still in my computer's address book.  This really makes no sense and it's not a form of denial it's just that I don't feel able to remove that link.  Although it's not in that category (I sincerely hope) for the last 5 months The Archduchess has not blogged.  After a fairly traumatic time in her life she just stopped blogging.  That was over 5 months ago.  I have to ask myself whether the memory of a very interesting Blogger and a very talented young lady is now to be erased from my list of bloggers or whether she should continue to be there on my list as a memory.  I am not a worrier but I would like to know that she is safe and well.

That actually has started me thinking about the whole issue of bloggers and the relationships we all have.  Family excepted, I have made some very good friends through Blogland.  Some, like Pauline, I have met and some I have corresponded with.  Some like Deedee from Deedee, Cut Adrift have just melted in to the background having not blogged for a long time.

Some have entered new phases in their lives and continue with occasional posts and it's good to know what's happening but one doesn't expect significant participation in our blog world.

Blogland is a very strange and unusual place and as Andrew would have said "It's a funny old world Dad."

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Thankful Thursday

I have just read Jaz's Thankful Thursday post about the mining tragedy on the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island.  I would really suggest that if you want to understand what is typically this country then you would appreciate a lot reading that post.

The tragedy is not, of course, something for which I or anyone is thankful.

New Zealand is roughly the same physical size as Britain.  In terms of population, though, it's small with about 4.2m compared with the 62m in Britain ie less than 7% of Britain's.  That's one of its great attractions for me.  It's not that I don't love people.  I do: in small numbers.  I've lived on an Island in Scotland for over half of my life and have enjoyed the 'smallness' where it is unlikely that I would ever go into the local town of Stornoway (population of 'greater Stornoway' about 9,000) without meeting people I know.  So when there is news in NZ it tends all to be 'local' in that it tends to be shared from the southern tip of Stewart Island to the northernmost part of the North Island at Cape Reinga.
So the earthquake in Christchurch on 4 September this year was felt psychologically, if not necessarily physically, by people in the whole of the Country.  Now that there has been a mining disaster at the Pike River Mine near Greymouth (population 10,000) on the remote West coast of South Island it is being felt throughout the Country.

Like Jaz I am thankful that I live in a country that cares.

Just in case

you happen to be wondering what has happened to me I thought I'd better tell you that I'm away at a croquet tournament in Dannevirke.  It's the New Zealand Veterans.  It's two days of Association Croquet and three days of Golf Croquet.  I'll explain the difference one day.  It's really full on with 7 to 8 hours of actual play each day - quite a lot for us oldies.  Some of the players are in their late eighties (or even 90s!).  They are a very hardy lot considering you can walk over 9 kilometres in a tournament day.

I'll be back with lots of posts after the weekend.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

We Eat How Many?

Someone on the television or radio a few days ago said that the average person (I'd love to meet that person some time) eats 8 spiders during their lifetime when they are asleep.  Well when I was making my bed this morning I found a spider under my pillow.  Fortunately I'm not an arachnophobe  but it still wasn't a pleasant experience.  But I played the Glad Game.  At least I hadn't eaten that one!

Monday, 22 November 2010

It's at Moments Like This

that you think 'I should have been facing the other way when that train came!'

Sunday, 21 November 2010

A Branch in The Sea

When we were at Waipatiki there was a  piece of tree washing up on the beach moving in and out with the waves.  I became fascinated by it and decided that I really had to try and get the photo that gave me the most satisfaction.  In fact I took 68 pictures.  Each time I was looking for something slightly different but in actual fact only once did I actually know what I wanted to achieve and that was in this picture:

where I managed a continuous line between the cliff and the tree branch whilst also getting the wave coming in and about to move it again.

I rather liked these two as well:

No Consolation

When you can't remember something, or something unpleasant happens to you how often do people say "The consolation is you are not alone."?  I'm sorry.  If I can't remember something then it may be old age creeping up or the fact that I have always had a poor (ok a really, really bad) memory.  It is definitely NO consolation at all that I'm not alone.  I don't like having a bad memory, full stop.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

A Visit from Pauline

"Hiya to you too.  Are you just boarding?"
"I'm here.  Help.  I'm abandoned!"
Phone call "I'm on my way."

What a way to start a visit.  My diary said that Pauline was due 1125.  Pauline's diary said that she was due 1025.  Pauline works on arrival times to define flights and I work on departure times.  So the 1025 flight for me arrives here an hour later.  For Pauline the 1025 flight actually arrives at 1025.  This afternoon Pauline was due to leave on the 1640 flight.  I had assumed that was the departure time from Napier.  No.  That was the arrival time in Auckland.  Fortunately my male lack of understanding was rectified in good time and Pauline left promptly in good time for her daughter's baby shower tomorrow.

So the last few days has been a time of sightseeing, blog photo opportunities, eating (and the occasional glass of New Zealand and Australian red) and sleeping.

I have now visited several places that I'd not seen before despite all those good intentions over the last number of years.  I'm sure that they will be the subject of blogs over the next few days.  In the meantime here are just a few views from the past few days:
 Napier Marine Parade from Bluff Hill

 Te Mata Peak

 Cape Kidnappers, Clifton Beach

The Settlers Museum, Waipawa

and Churches - St Peter's, Waipawa

Friday, 19 November 2010


I have a friend staying at the moment so blog time is limited but I thought that this evening I would just post a quick picture before bed. We have lots of Ladybirds/Ladybugs around at the moment.  In this case an Elevenspotted Ladybird.  These were introduced from England in 1874 to help control aphids.  It's now common in New Zealand in gardens and orchards.  In its lifetime each ladybird cane eat 1000 aphids!

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Thankful Thursday

I lack any talent whatsoever when it comes to playing a musical instrument and am poor at identifying individual tunes.  However I have a great love of music and the emotions that it can evoke.  I am thankful for the fact that I can appreciate music and that it has played such an important emotional part in my life.

Today I saw some people who were limited to life in a wheelchair.  I have been told by the medics that one of my knees needs replacing.  I am thankful, however,  for being able to walk and play croquet and for being able to do so with relatively little pain most of the time.

I am thankful for the fact that I live in countries where I have freedom to be who I am, to do the things I want to do and say the things I want to say.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Been Shopping

What I would love to know is how she managed to get it into her beak rolled up like that and then keep it all there.  It must affect the aerodynamics too.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

More Immoral Waste

Two years ago I posted on Immoral Waste when I upgraded from XP to Vista on my laptop.  CJ aka Scriptor Senex has been having similar problems recently going to Windows 7.  We have long lived in a throw away economy and I'm realistic enough to accept that during my lifetime things are unlikely to change as we demand and get more and more consumer goods produced at relatively cheap prices.  I also understand the principles behind keeping spare parts in stock and the cost of spare parts relative to the price of the finished articles of which they form part.  I did it at Uni and I've run my own business.  BUT, and here there is a big BUT, I cannot believe that a small electric drain motor which is made by the million or even billion and is found in almost every washing machine or dishwasher coming out of China costs HALF the price of the dishwasher out of which it came.  That is without any installation or labour costs which is what usually makes replacement parts uneconomic.

The impeller came off the dishwasher after I arrived back in NZ.  The dishwasher is only used about once a week when The Family come down to dinner so that's hardly major usage over three years.  What looked like a simple repair isn't possible so I went to order a new motor.  $291.30.  WHAT!  The dishwasher was $600 3 years ago.  Of course I'd be able to get a new one on the internet.  Perhaps in the UK or US but NZ is a very small market and we don't have access to as many websites for these things.  We don't even have Amazon NZ!  Although I did find a website selling them but at a minimum of 1000 units per order.  Perhaps not!

So for the time being I have a dead dishwasher sitting on the deck.

Monday, 15 November 2010

The Family Evening

Usually The Family come down to The Cottage for dinner on a Friday.  Last Friday was the first one this summer since I returned to NZ.  We had dinner and then watched - yet again - the film of Mama Mia:

 David prefers his Apple iPad

 Misty and Comet came too

'Kids' always seem to end up in a heap on the floor

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Young Tearaways!

Youngsters riding quad bikes and trial bikes in the countryside here is NZ is usual and quite common.  But I still find it amusing when a couple of children of one of the neighbours (whose house is completely hidden from me) race around the orchard with apparently considerable skill and at quite a pace considering the youngest is probably only just at school or possibly at pre-school.

Friday, 12 November 2010


I recently came across a bird wandering across the croquet lawns.  That's not unusual but this was a bird I'd not seen on the lawns before and I was not sure what it was.  It looked like a Skylark but the facial markings were not the same as in my book of NZ birds.  It wasn't an NZ Pippit either so what?  However when I looked at the photos and compared them with photos of a Skylark I took from The Cottage a few days ago and which I could identify from it's song and soaring behaviour,  I could confirm that the bird was a Skylark.

By the way it is the Skylark which has made me realise that birds may have different accents too.  A Skylark in the paddock here has the same song as in the croft at Eagleton but the accent is different.  Yes.  Truly.

Soaring above the paddock in front of The Cottage I was astounded at the clarity of this picture given that the Skylark was high in the sky and taken on manual settings on the spur of the moment with little time for correct exposure.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

The Cottage

Lisa (aka Shabby Girl) wondered in a comment on my post Settling In at the beginning of the month after I arrived back in New Zealand what The Cottage looked like.  I hadn't shown you this year so I'm now rectifying that and doing a bit of comparison.  

The Cottage arrived on site in October 2007.  Is it really that recent?  I seem to have lived here for years.  

The the landscaping started in November:  The Landscaping Begins.

By 2008 the transformation was amazing and I posted The Homestead.

Last year I posted  I've Arrived: What Now?

This year the lavender in front of The Cottage has grown and been cut back but some bushes have been lost and even though I replaced them last year they have refused to grow in that spot.  I'll have to think about that one.

Thankful Thursday

It was never my intention to make this a weekly blog posting but during this week I have learned of several people who have had news that they will be less than thankful to have received.   Two involve news that I can well understand having had similar news given to me.  So the first thing I am grateful for today is the twelve years and a few weeks I have had since I was first given that news.  I sincerely hope that those people will be writing a similar post in twelve years.  In fact in one case I have already agreed the place for lunch this time twelve years hence.

During that 12 years so many things have happened: some good, some not so good, some mindblowingly wonderful and some heartwrenchinly bad.   They have given me the outlook on life that I have and have taught me to live life for the moment.  So that is the second thing for which I am grateful today.

And I'm thankful that I was persuaded to visit New Zealand and circumstances have allowed me the privilege of seeing Milford Sound (West Coast, South Island, New Zealand) and on a fine day and with a good friend, Steve.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010


Reading Adrian's Images recently he mentioned Llamas and compared them with Alpacas.  I was certain that I had blogged about the Alpacas in the paddock next door to The Cottage last year but, no, I hadn't - well not according to the blog search or my own labels. The most recent was in 2007: Neighbours.  How odd.  They are such amusingly aloof animals.

This is not an Alpaca!  However it is in the paddock next door.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

An Afternoon Lying on the Grass

This afternoon a number of us Croqueteers spent the afternoon resetting the hoops on the croquet lawns.  This involves lots of measuring and then drilling new holes for the hoops in their new positions.  Then the old holes have to be reamed out and turf plugs inserted.  There are 36 hoops so that's a minimum of 72 holes with another 7 for the pegs and some to repair 'rabbit runs' (the indentations in the lawn in a hoop caused by balls continually passing through the hoops).  All in all it's a lot of work.  One of my jobs for the afternoon was ensuring that the hoops were aligned correctly and hammered in vertically.  This involved lying on my stomach for several hours.  Which, I have to say, was a lot more tiring for the neck than I might have imagined had I not done it before.  In fact, despite the apparent easiness of the task I ended up doing it because no-one else wanted too.  At the end of a couple of hours I had had enough of 'doing nothing' too:

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Totally Irrelevant

I haven't forgotten Blogland.  Honestly.  I have visitors at the moment (Mike's playing in a Tournament at our club for the Country's top Association Players.  Sandra is having a really quite day today.) and also have croquet commitments.  However I was looking for something this morning and suddenly came across some photos I took in 2005 of red squirrels.  Now I know that these have absolutely nothing to do with New Zealand nor, really, with the subjects of this Blog (whatever that is).   In the absence of anything else springing immediately to mind I thought that I would post a few red squirrel photos because they have been the subject of some discussion on one or two blogs recently - in particular Adrian's Images

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Thankful Thursday

Last Thursday Jaz of Treacy Travels wrote a blog post entitled Thankful Thursday.  I though 'What a wonderful post'.  I spent a while contemplating the things for which I am thankful and for which I feel thankful every day that I wake.  Then when I was awake in the middle of the night one night I wrote some of the things down starting with being thankful that I don't suffer from insomnia.

The interesting coincidence was that one of the books I read when I was on the journey across the world was Alexander McCall Smith's The Lost Art of Gratitude.  'She had not expected him to thank her: indeed she rarely expected anybody to thank her for anything.  Gratitude was a lost art, she felt.  People accepted things, took them as their right, and had forgotten how to give proper thanks..........he had at least said thank you and she, in turn, was thankful for that."  

So today I am especially thankful for:

walks with my brother

days on the mountains

my son Gaz

Of Dishwashers and Asparagus Soup

I knew that I shouldn't have come to bed to write this post.  I have been programmed for so many years of living on my own that bed = sleep that I can't break the habit.  I used to stay up 'till 1 and 2 am with no problem but get me into bed at midnight and I just fall asleep.  Well I do these days.  And it's nothing to do with advancing years.  Mind you all the fresh air on the croquet lawns might be a contributory factor.  Oh and the title?  The dishwasher broke down this evening and I made a pan of asparagus soup for my visitors arriving on Friday.  The good news is that Martin mended the dishwasher whilst I made the soup.  

The Goldfinches have been feasting outside The Cottage

 We had some sun today!  Here's the proof.  I also marvelled at all the different greens.

As always I'm in search of the perfect picture of an Australasian Harrier in flight - a long way to go but this one's been circling round overhead since I returned.

I'm adding this because I liked it!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Notes To Myself

Weather and washing: Never trust a lightening sky! Even in New Zealand. Of course I'd never trust any sky in Scotland. Everyone except hillwalkers who wear high heels knows that the weather in Scotland changes faster than the time it takes to open the picnic basket. But in Hawkes Bay one expects a lighter sky to herald sun. Well not this morning. It's been raining a lot of the time since I arrived back. This morning the forecast was for showers clearing by lunchtime. I was over-optimistic. Well, I usually am in most walks of life. I hung the washing out and made myself a coffee. I'd completed two clues in the cross-word when I heard an ominous drumming on the roof of the deck. Monsoon rain! Ah well. I don't need anything that's on the line this week anyway.

So that's where that is! Never assume things are where you think they are. The number of times I've looked for things when I was in Eagleton and not been able to find them is uncountable. Since I arrived back here I've found a syringe that I 'knew' was in a particular cupboard in Eagleton, two books I was certain I'd taken back to the UK, a tape measure I'd spent ages looking for one day and I've realised that the phone charger I had here couldn't possible have been because I didn't buy the phone until I was back in Scotland last April when Gaz collected me from Glasgow Airport. Ho hum.

Too cryptic: Never write cryptic notes to oneself. When I woke in the middle of the night a few nights ago and wrote three A4 pages of notes to myself many of them were cryptic. One, however, read 'Woke snored - welding a large pole to keep things - thoughts - ugly things away from me.' Assuming that I was awake when I wrote those words I must either have been in an exceptionally inventive frame of mind or I must have been thinking gibberish as well as writing it.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Settling In

It's Monday morning and I've just about turned The Cottage back into My Cottage.  Everything is out of The Cupboard and back where it belongs whilst I am in residence.  Perhaps I should get a little flag made to signify when I am in residence: the Geeb Standard.  After all if HRH can do it....

I am re-united with my clock (which has a tick loud enough to be heard anywhere in The Cottage!) and my reminders of friends - my NZ 'Family' and A Friend in Vermont.

My first night here was rather strange.  I was in bed at 2030 and fast asleep as my head hit the pillow.  Apart from a terrible attack of cramp in both legs (reminder to buy some Crampeze today) I slept until 0235.  Oh no.  Then I realised I'd had my statutory 6 hours!  I was so wide awake that I was writing emails and blog postings in my head so I got an A4 pad and went back to bead and filled three pages.  Then I fell back into a solid sleep and woke just before 0800.  Yippee.  There I was bright as a button (and a pretty bright one at that) ready for the day.   The fact that it was still raining seemed irrelevant.

We all went out to The Gin Trap in Ahuriri for brunch to celebrate David's 14th birthday.  I can't believe it!  Fourteen!!

Catriona and David had Bacon Buns 

The rest of the day was spent sorting The Cottage until Wendy and then Martin wandered down after dinner for a wee glass of the red stuff.

Life in New Zealand - nothing changes.