Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Wet walking

I am amazed how nature captures water. Even the smallest amount can mean the difference between growth and death.

Here are a few photos from my walk this morning along our road,

Thursday, 22 December 2016

The mystery of the post box in the night

Someone in our neighbourhood has a real sense of humour. I tied a length of red tinsel around our post box at the beginning of December. It is actually quite helpful to direct visitors this way, as there are a several driveways close together, and it is easy for people who haven't been to our house before to go shooting through the wrong gate.

A few days after I had put the tinsel around the box, some very pretty tinsel appeared around the post, followed by three decorative cats, and this morning by a flashing star! Also, some very nice magazines also started to be deposited. No note, no name. But it has caused wide speculation, which has included COAs (Christmas Obsessed Aliens).

So here is the Posties Progress:

Meanwhile, creatures are waking from their slumber. Humphrey hedgehog was found yawning under the Empress tree. I put him under the flax so he had a few more bugs to snack on, after all, it is almost Christmas.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Wild hairy beasties

I have been suffering a bit with cabin fever. Not well enough to do anything, and feeling lethargic and worn out all the time. This evening I forced myself to walk a few hundred yards up our road. There have been some Highland calves born recently and they are growing so fast, I really wanted a picture before they became massive hairy beasties.

This one wasn't quite sure. She got up to say hello and fluttered her eyelashes (actually it was probably the wind blowing them) - it's been cutting a breeze most of the day.

The hedgerows are being allowed to grow as nature intended, wild and grassy and colourful, so I didn't feel too bad about picking a few samples on the way home. Clover reminds me of my childhood in Yorkshire. There was always a profusion of it near the cricket field on the way to my infant school. I was generally found clutching a bunch of it in the cloakrooms when I started to school day. The teacher had a number of recepticles for these well meaning gifts.

And finally, I checked on our other ginger beast when I got home. Both the gingers have strayed no further than their biscuit bowls today, taking themselves back to bed and away from the noisy and warm wind, which they really object to!

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Mademoiselle Clerk de Works

She is everywhere, like a rash. She can't let me sew or type without some kind of comment or interruption.

Another friend has a daughter recovering from quite major surgery, so I'm busy with another doll. It must be terrible to be seriously ill at this time of year. Everyone around is being jolly, and those close to you are trying hard not to let you feel left out, but actually you are, because you feel horrid.

Well, Cumin and I are going to get busy and like a S. Hemisphere "elf" provide some more Christmas cheer, hopefully.

Thursday, 15 December 2016


As predictable as Christmas, I go down with something prior to the holiday. This time it is a stonking cold. As I didn't want my colleagues to be blessed I've stayed away from work for 2 days, most of which has been spent in bed feeling suitably sorry for myself. But today is sunny so in the interest of absorbing Vitamin D I have parked myself on the verandah.

Earlier there was quite a racket in the paddock, which I think was our local pheasant giving the cows a shouting at. If they get in the way of his usual perambulations, there is a lot of shouting and flapping of wings and general abuse hurled at the highland girls. Bonnie is either not too worried or deaf.

And when I went to collect our rubbish bins from the gate earlier, I see that our neighbour is having his newly purchased house tweaked before being lowered onto the foundation.

Never a dull moment even when you are coughing like an antipodean walrus.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Paddock Diary

It has been a while since I have had a Paddock Diary entry. At the moment we are overwhelmed by foxgloves in the paddock, their purple trumpeteering is positively deafening. Our previous home was called Foxglove Hollow, but the profusion here makes the name far more appropriate for our two acres. The gingers came out for a walk with me this evening and twitched their whiskers at insects and birds alike.

Out of the three pairs of Welcome Swallows that have been making hourly "circuits and bumps" across our property, none have actually started nest building yet. And if this pair is anything to go by, they look like they have had a pre engagement tiff and won't be house hunting together any time soon!

A creating kind of day

A dear friend of ours is navigating the very difficult situation of having a very seriously ill grand-daughter. This child is in a well known Children's hospital in NZ and undergoing gruelling treatment for her illness. Her parents live in a completely different part of NZ, which has involved one parent "commuting" (a one hour flight) and my friend and her husband taking alternate weekends to be with the mother who has full care of her sick daughter during the week. An exhausting and stressful time by any measure.

A few mornings ago, I thought I would make this little girl a gift. She is a Russian ethnically, so I had the greatest pleasure making her this doll. Underneath her apron are buttons in the shape of a cat, two fruit pies and a sewing machine. I am sure that her mother will be able to make up stories about the doll, no problem at all.

Then this afternoon, I stumbled across the jar of fruit mince I'd asked my husband to purchase a few weeks ago. Mince tarts are cooking in the oven as I type this.

And finally, an entry to the "Cloud Appreciation Society" I think. White elephants were seen flying over our home this afternoon. And those of you who know my love of charity shop bargains, will appreciate how appropriate this cloud is.

No naughty comments please about "where were the pink elephants?"

Sunday, 20 November 2016

New Shakeland

It's been an awful week for New Zealand. There have been three major earthquakes in the last century, on Sunday night / Monday morning, no 3 arrived. 7.8 on the Richter scale, doing major damage to North Canterbury and the capital Wellington.

I happened to be up when it hit at 12.02am. I was in the bathroom at the time, but got myself to the bedroom quickly and lay down by the bed on the floor. The shake was massive, and we didn't get the worst of it. It was felt throughout New Zealand.

So six years after Christchurch was levelled, we have to start again, again.

Once again the amazing courage and resilience of the people in New Zealand has emerged, but at huge cost. Prayers would be appreciated, donations to the amazing NZ Red Cross even more so.

To try to strike a note of normality, we went out for our usual weekly coffee this morning. It was good to see that for some of creation, life just continues. Mrs Blackbird was stealing crumbs and whipped cream (!) from an abandoned plate when we arrived. Then we saw her fly to the rafters and snuggle down onto her nest.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Gardening for beginners

We have a huge garden. It was planted by someone with easy maintenance in mind. But it still takes a lot of work, and we aren't as young as we would like to imagine we are.

Last year, for the first time, I planted some beans, and was delighted that they actually grew! Having a vegetable garden was a novel experience for me.

This year, I have repeated the beans, and added sweet peas as they are the favourite flower of my childhood.

But there is a thorn in paradise; we have had nocturnal bunny chomping. No sooner had my beans started to do their upwardly mobile manoeuvres, but they were nibbled down in their prime. I suspect Hortensia hare, as she is huge and beautiful and looks like she eats three times a day.

So my scarlet runners are going to have to run a lot quicker if they are to outrun the hungry hare.

After the great scarlet runner discovery, I nearly tripped over a large and thankfully very dead rat on the lawn. It is always difficult to know which of the "boys" has been busy, but judging by the soporific positions of the ginger today, I think it my have been him.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Friends and verandahs

We have an amazing verandah which hugs two sides of the house. Even though it is covered, sometimes it is too hot to sit on it. This weekend it was perfect, even if it was just for a "Friends" shot.

So, we had 10 friends for a pot luck lunch. Pot luck was good to us, and we had a delicious mix of savoury and sweet, and recipes were exchanged.

The first photo was photo bombed by our huge ginger cat, who is every inch an extrovert. As someone wittily put it, he did a cat walk followed by a cat scan!

Having taken this photo, I realised a few folk were missing, so had to take another, only to discover that one lady was missing. We did eventually find her, but not in time for the photo.

And finally, our decorations are finished, and got the ginger seal of approval. The "boy" sniffed the wallpaper in our office and promptly fell asleep, much to my relief. I have had one cat who was a wallpaper shredder of some fame. Mango appears to be underwhelmed by it.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

A farm view

We have a friend who lives on a hill just around the corner from us. He keeps cattle and a goat called Whitey.

Last night we enjoyed watching the sunset from his living room.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

The Empress Tree

The blossoms don't last long and the smell is intoxicating. At dusk you can stand underneath and listen to the bees exploring every last bell.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Feathered visitors

When we moved into the house almost three years ago, there was a very messy nest in the corner of the verandah containing very vocal house martens. Last year, they passed us by, this year they have returned.

This morning our very large ginger cat jumped a good 6 feet in the air, from a sitting position, trying to catch them as they swirled around his head. It would appear they have checked Trivago, and our accommodation is a price they can afford

Said ginger has parked himself on the verandah to watch, or perhaps I should more accurately say doze in their direction. No more 6 foot jumps today.

And as health issues have precluded us from mowing the lawn recently, we are being treated to daisies everywhere.