Sunday, 27 December 2015

Always welcome

Today we had a visitor from the town where we used to live. It was lovely being about to catch up on news. The weather was beautiful but hot, so chatting on the verandah was reminiscent of times past in India or Bahrain or Africa.

We are keeping our front door open as much as possible, but it is now mosquito hour, so reluctantly we are closing up all the gaps, but enjoying the sunset through the Victorian coloured glass of the front door.

Friday, 25 December 2015

Enjoying the quiet

Yesterday was a busy cooking and entertaining day. It was wonderful, but exhausting. Today I have been in total recovery "reboot" mode. I have sat with my beloved on our verandah for most of the day, he writing, me enjoying a book by Charles King about Odessa.

Our furry friends joined us occasionally, but mostly to flop in a heap in the shade of the hydrangea bushes. It is around 25 degrees.

Compliments of the season to you all.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

A bit of a jam

The weather has been very wet for this time of year, and mild. This means the plums have arrived earlier than normal and caught me on the hop! It could be a bumper harvest and as I have been working full time I have been disinclined to climb trees to harvest very out of reach fruit. So now things are getting a little pressing.

The day I got my first bucket load our "baby" ginger joined me, gleefully running up and down branches, which was rather handy as it bounced them a bit closer to reach. I have just made my first batch of jam, but there are many more yet to deal with - and all before Christmas day!

Last night the same ginger, who has been denuding the Christmas tree of ornaments he can fit in his mouth, brought us an ornament. At least that is what I think he was doing as he flung a dead rat into the air close to the tree. It was midnight and I wasn't in the mood for lengthy explanations. The rat was duly captured under a box and ginger locked away until I could dispose of the alternative Christmas angel.

I have to keep reminding myself that he is still a baby and wanting to play. So this afternoon I went to a second hand shop and bought him a toy. Much grooming of the bear and cuddling took place before he suddenly fell asleep, just like I have seen many a toddler do.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Best dressed lamp posts

The lamp post outside the business where I work has sprouted its own flower arrangement. By the time I remembered to take my camera to work, the yellow flowers were past their best. But rather lovely even so!

Friday, 11 December 2015

A sane kind of Saturday, kind of!

This morning we took off to a local village to their annual Christmas market. Sadly unlike last year, the rain was making the outdoor stalls a bit of a soggy disaster. We shopped quickly - I wanted to find home made soaps (can't abide mass produced stuff any more), and home made marmalade. We found both, and a new kitchen apron for me. Finally I can consign my regular "wipe sticky hands down the front of the apron" to the bin. It is 8 years old and deserves a memorial for its service!

After the soggy market, we pottered off to Ruth Pretty's Kitchen shop and conservatory, where we drank coffee and ate Christmas cake.

This was followed by a manic dash to a local town to order a new dishwasher, which will be delivered on my birthday, just before Christmas. We inherited the current dishwasher when we moved here. It is has served us well, but is around 10 years old and finally falling apart.

We then headed home where I unscrambled the Christmas tree after Junior Jinger had removed ornaments and generally caused mayhem overnight. He was banished to the verandah whilst I reconstructed parts of it and put up Christmas lights!

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Lessons from a garden

I love visual parables. That "ding dong" moment when you stand and nod, to no one in particular, and understand.

This evening I was hacking away at weeds at the end of our garden. I was getting carried away because I get angry at weeds. So does my husband, and we work ourselves into a complete tizzy trying to dig them out. I have to be careful not to overdo it as I can set my heart racing much faster than it is used to or is good for it. As I stood up from a five minute froth at the mouth frenzy, I caught this.

One of about 50 foxgloves on our land, winding itself around the branch of a tree. The tree has been struggling to cope. The tree next to it was diseased and we had to chop it down, the one further down we lost in a storm. The trauma of both events seem to have stunted it and it no longer thrives. But this gorgeous plant was leaning against it and winding itself gently next to the trunk and lower branch. Beauty and fragility taking company with something sick and a bit creeky. All of our trees on the border have foxglove around the base, but this is the only one with a companion flower that seems to be embracing it, gnarled as it is. I love that picture of acceptance and care.

The other lesson involves runner beans. I love to eat them, especially fresh from the garden. After planting a packet of beans two weeks ago, I was quite ashamed (though not surprised) to have to admit to the person who gave me the seeds that there was no sign of any shoots, just more weeds! I wasn't surprised or discouraged. I may be the daughter of green fingered magician, but the genes didn't get passed on and this has been the story of my life. I simply can't grow stuff.

Well this evening, there were FOUR shoots next to the poles!!! In 53 years, this is a first, and my nickname as a child, beanpole has suddenly become the most glorious word in the English language!

Monday, 9 November 2015

Handbag Therapy

We have two spare bedrooms, and I insist on one of them being cat free. At the weekend I threw a sheet over the Queen sized bed in this room to arrange rather a lot of handbags, ready for a fundraiser this weekend. Knowing that our new ginger likes to sneak in the room behind me if he is quick enough, I checked the hallway before going into the room. No problem, coast was clear.

A day later I saw the door open and this is what greeted me.

I think they have conspired and built a tunnel under the house.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Memories of Dad

For some reason today they came all in a rush, like overdue buses:

Digging like a maniac to prepare the veggie patch for runner beans - dad would have been much more organised!
Cooking with white pepper - an early memory watching dad carefully sprinkle white pepper on his morning fried egg.
The exploding jar of honey in the pantry - Dad's attempt to make elderflower champagne and its subsequent explosion in the bootroom.
The neighbour's new goat - dad always loved goats and I am so tempted to get one for the paddock, just so Dad can enjoy it from heaven.

Love you and miss you so much dad.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Lovely Living

A very enterprising businesswoman in a local town opens her home over one weekend each November to sell handmade goods, and give people the chance to enjoy her garden and summer house. I went with two friends and we spent a couple of hours soaking up the atmosphere, eating fun cakes and drinking good coffee in the garden.

Enjoy the day with me.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Nutmeg, and the All black fruit

Yesterday afternoon I tried out a recipe from a recently borrowed library book. In the absence of dried cranberries, and in honour of our rugby team, I substituted prunes an all black fruit, hoping they could give me a run for my money, haha.

I then grated in nutmeg (also not in the recipe). The cake is wonderful, half way between a fruit loaf and a bread loaf.

Feeling a bit worse for wear today. Two sundays in a row we have got up at 4am and 5am to watch rugby matches. It was worth it! Must have been the lucky prunes!

Friday, 23 October 2015

The Birds

We have lost the battle for our post box. After three attempts at ejecting the start of a starling nest, we have bowed to their cheeky persistence. Our mail will be covered in poop for some time to come.

Meanwhile, our Empress tree is in full noisy bloom - the noise coming from hundreds of bees and the odd cheeky tui. This photo was taken on a very long lens this morning, hence the camera shake. Thelma, our tunesome thrush was competing with the bees buzzing. She always picks the highest branch of the highest tree. Not a bad idea really when "Sir" is sitting on the driveway.

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Gluten / Seismic free chocolate cake

My first attempt at Gluten Free chocolate cake was fine until I tried to get it off the base of my springform.

My excuse is we had a big earthquake on the N. Island today. I am renaming it Richter Cake.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Small pleasures

The new ginger lad likes to assist at all times. When he comes into the laundry, he likes to choose his own pegs. He will then distribute them liberally and fairly around the bathroom, hallway and living room.

He also likes to protect the property from wetas, moths and other creatures. Today he had his first encounter with a chicken in our garden. It was also my first encounter of that kind. I think it must belong to one of our neighbours. Said clucker was very put out by huge bushed out tiger chasing her along the boundary. Thankfully the Horowhenua tiger is also easily distracted and came running back when he heard me with a small stick, shaking the grass.

Mango, putting the Horror back in Horowhenua!

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Dancing sheep and feline job opportunities

I have just been watching the 5 lambs in the paddock. Picture if you can lambs dancing, sideways, in crazy twilight fueled dizzyness. More than one mother bleated her disapproval. Some mothers do 'av em as they say.

Meanwhile, back at the office, Mango has decided that his career choice is servicing printers for Epson.

......that is if Dyson won't give him a job food vacuuming.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Drinking bowls

Outside at Coneysthorpe, the cats drink out of old trifle bowls, just in case you were wondering!