Monday, 28 April 2008


Being a long weekend, we took the chance to head west to visit our son C in Haast, South Westland. On the way we stopped at a picnic spot by Lake Dunstan to have a coffee from the thermos. On the banks the poplars and willows were nearing their peak of autumn colouring.

There is a marked difference between the dry, autumn tinted landscape of Central Otago and the green of the West Coast. Once we reached Makarora, it was only a matter of minutes and we'd gone from brown and umber, to deep jades.

C was away fishing when we arrived, but the owner of the house where he boards made us welcome. C arrived a bit later with crays and blue cod.

Pungas ( a type of giant fern) like these are a common feature on the West Coast.

ABM and I went for a walk down the track to the small bay. It looks idyllic - and is - but the photo doesn't show the sandflies (a bit like midges) that feasted on any exposed flesh (hands and ankles mainly.) We were obviously fresh meat!

These large trees are called kahikateas and are incredible for their hosting of other plants and trees - their tall trunks festooned with vines, roots and berries of other plants and trees. Our walk through a kahikatea forest was an amazing experience. Usually it's birds that impress me, but it turned out to be the trees this time.
Sadly there are fewer and fewer birds because of introduced pests such as stoats, ferrets, possums and rats. C works for DOC who work real hard trying to eradicate these predators.

Tussock is being trained to seek out and lead his owner to protected kiwi in a block of native forest. He's holds a stick in his mouth that he hopes someone will throw for him to fetch. He lives to fetch.

On the way back home it was back into the autumn colours ...

ABM took this photo of the sun as it slipped out of view behind Lake Wanaka.

We spent the night in Cromwell, driving away from there through a misty morning.

A wonderful weekend. C said, come back and stay longer next time. We will. Whitebaiting season sounds like a good plan ...

Thursday, 24 April 2008


Went to see Luke Hurley at Backstage last night. Unfortunately we didn't stay until the end as I had an early start for work the next morning. He threatened to keep singing until 1.00 a.m. ... I wonder if he did. He seems to have boundless energy and an amusing unpretentiousness ("This is a song I wrote outside Arthur Barnett's") which is reflected in his music. I guess his music fits into the folk-rock bracket - however, it is also a fairly organic style, so has the potential to bound away from any attempt to label.
I liked the way he'd sing a bracket of songs and then have a break. He writes all his own material and has been troubadour-ing in NZ for decades. It was actually our son M who first introduced us to him; even though Luke is more our generation ... He deserves more acknowledgment than he gets from the mainstream - but something tells me he'd hate that, so maybe it's best he stays where he's happiest - performing gigs, busking on street corners and staying largely under the radar.


We are away for the long weekend - to South Westland to see our son C. It's ANZAC (Australia and New Zealand Army Corp.) weekend in New Zealand. ANZAC Day tomorrow - Friday; Red Poppy Day; when we remember the New Zealand and Australian soldiers who have fought and died.


Monday, 21 April 2008

A Walk on the Peninsula

When my friend C from the UK came over in 2001, we made so many great memories. One of them was a walk on the Peninsula over to Boulder Beach to spot penguins coming in from the surf. As we drove home, a sunset painted the sky in front of us - so beautiful we just gazed; didn't say a word. When she left, there were tears at the airport ... Once back in the car after saying good-bye we found a cd she'd left there for us. It was Lou Reed's 'Perfect Day', sung by various artists. It is a cd we have played many times since. It achieves just what C had intended. A recapture, a sealing of a day that has gone very well. C and her husband have been over again since that year and more memories have been made - I particularly remember a night of wine, music and fish and chips in a motel in Te Anau ...
Today was another perfect day for a walk on the Peninsula, and as I write this I am playing the gift-song C left behind for us. Perfect.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

How Today Went

Morning ...

tints ...

seeing summer out ...

ripening poroporo berries ...

shades of autumn ...

lunchtime breakers ...

dusk ...
gathering in ...

a pile of macrocarpa ...

all gone.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Lolly Cake

I made two lots of Lolly Cake tonight. One lot is stickier than the other. This is because one recipe (which I've since discarded) said to heat the condensed milk. However, this only made it goopy. (Still tastes yummy though.) The second recipe didn't mention heating the condensed milk. This one turned out better.
The only recipes I have for Lolly Cake come from books that date back to the seventies. I had to use Eskimo lollies because hard marshmellow lollies are no longer available. I wonder why? While on the subject - does anyone know if they make the lollies known as Smokers anymore? I guess the name Smokers isn't allowed now. Not P.C. (Which makes me wonder why Eskimo lollies are still allowed.)
As a child, I never associated Smokers lollies with the act of smoking. They owned their very own connotation - that of very small, very pink lollies in tiny cellophane packets. I associated them with the pictures' (films / movies/ flicks) and the threepenny tray.
The Lolly Cake I made is for sending over to S and E in Japan. Lolly Cake is an iconic NZ treat (found in any good cake shop / cafe) but not obtainable in Japan.

Addendum: Due to the interest from readers unused to the culture of New Zealand, I have decided to elaborate a little on the ingredients needed to make the cake.
Lolly = candy.

Eskimo lollies - best described as a hard marshmallow formed into the shape of Eskimos. They come in the colours pink, yellow and green and form the typical stained-glass colours found in lolly cake.

Malt biscuits = 'cookies' with a malt flavour. One of many kiwi standbys in the realm of biscuits (a.k.a. Iconic Cookie.)

Highland Condensed Milk - A creamy, sticky substance that forms the 'glue' holding the malt biscuits and marshmallows together.

And Smokers lollies - candy with an aniseed and clove flavour (other NZers may have their own descriptions) that for some unknown reason, went by the name of Smokers.

None of my poems were chosen as one of the Best New Zealand poems; however, one of them, 'no new broom' was mentioned in the Introduction by this year's judge, Paula Green. Congratulations to all the poets whose poems were selected and/or mentioned.

no new broom

In 1957 she didn’t trust
‘new-fangleds’. The brand-new electrolux
with its attachments lay still
in its box, its flexi-hose the neck
of a dead goose.

She far preferred
old brooms to any new
ones. Especially her favourite
with its bristles all leaning to the left
towards the ocean worn down from years
of sweeping.

Kay McKenzie Cooke


Monday, 14 April 2008

Bonnie and Clyde, Boots, a Hat, Hawks, Butterflies, a New Moon and Mutton Pies ...

We're having a spate of weekends away. This weekend we travelled up to Christchurch for a niece's 21st.

It was a fancy Dress - we had to dress up as a movie character. Son S suggested we go as Bonnie and Clyde. We tried to look bad - which I 'm only slightly better at that than ABM. I really do wish I could look badder, but I'm far too self-conscious. As for ABM, well, he just looks like he's putting on a grumpy face for children at a Christmas party.

M made us the 'guns'.

I really don't really like dress-ups. Niece E said that when our side of the family go to dress-up parties, we never dress up and we always sit together. This time we broke tradition and dressed up, but we still all sat together. As we always do. For courage, solidarity and so we don't have to mingle. Ugh ... Mingling is sooo scary.

We rented a cabin at Meadowpark Holiday Park. (Very cosy and not as expensive as a motel.) We spent two sunny days in Christchurch and ate out. Starbucks for coffee, Yellow Train for bagels and Sunday morning in the Square, arriving just as the Cathedral campanologists were exercising their bell-ringing skills. I swear I could hear their arms getting tired.

On Saturday afternoon when ABM went off to find a golf course (he assures me he's not addicted; yeah, right) I went shopping with niece E. E is very good to shop with. We are very compatible. We go at the same pace and even if we both get lost and are a bit ditzy - it's still all good. We understand each other.

We looked for boots for me. I found the perfect pair, and on the way also found a hat that niece N told me looks just like the kind of hat a poet should wear. (Maybe that means it looks pretentious. Which is a disturbing thought ... people born in Southland don't usually do pretentious.)
Shopping at the mall means an absence of outside elements and distractions to battle; distance becomes irrelevant and crowds, fluorescent lighting and piped music lure you into the hunt. I like shopping in a mall - as long as it's only once a year and with a niece who's on the same wave-length.

On the way home we had lunch in Timaru from the rise where you look out over Caroline Bay (always a favourite stop for us.) I appreciated all the old, 50s style motels with their square, art-deco roofs.
In Palmerston we stopped for ice creams and bought some McGregor mutton pies for tea, and enough to put some in the freezer. The shop had a piercing doorbell that kept shrieking. I don't know how the shop assistants there could stand it. It was migraine territory. They were being so stoic about it and wore the expressions of people suffering a siege.
It was so warm in Palmerston, the ice creams were melting faster than our tongues could slurp. There were a lot of other people eating ice creams. It's nice to know that the New Zealand tradition of eating an ice cream on a Sunday afternoon hasn't completely died out.
Today I noticed that for once the war memorial statue didn't have a beer bottle in its hand.

After Palmerston, is Waikouaiti with its cute little shops and library. As we drove through, I thought of kd. Waikouaiti is her home town.

As we neared Dunedin, I noticed autumn colours beginning to deepen in the poplars. We have had a charmed autumn so far, with warm temperatures. However, looking at the hills in North Otago and how dusty and brown they are - like camels - I can see we need some rain. Hawks were circling over the road looking for road kill, and in Palmerston I spotted a red admiral butterfly testing the shiny bumper of a car for nectar. ABM tells me that butterflies taste with their feet, landing on something to taste if it is food.

When we got home son C was still here. He'd spent the weekend in Dunedin. He was still in bed. Which means he'd probably been up all night, only hitting the sack at about six a.m. My brother used to do the same thing at about the same age; now he's got a top management job in the Public Sector in Wellington. After a mutton pie meal, C headed away back to Haast. A long trip - five hours - meaning he won't arrive there until the early hours ... which when I think about it, is now! (and probably means that C gets his night-owl tendencies from me rather than his uncle.)

Tonight there is a new moon - the shape of a 'c' for us in the southern hemisphere, and a 'd ' for those in the northern hemisphere. Each night it grows fatter. It is April already.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Future Poems

Another weekend down south.

Poems are buzzing and bashing around in my mind

like a bumble bee trapped indoors ...

Main Street, Gore

Gore Gardens

Mum folding the washing

Piano accordion Band at the Gore Farmers Market.

Piano accordion player number one ...

and piano accordion player number two.

I wish I had the time to write poetry right now because after a weekend spent with my mother and auntie, I am not short of material.
(Meanwhile, until the time becomes available to write, I'll just have to make do with hastily scribbled notes.)


Clocking Out

 I have been neglecting this blog for some months. I think perhaps I should face facts and accept that it is indeed time to retire this blog...