Sunday, 30 September 2012

Spending a Saturday

Lake Wakatipu.

Cecil and Walter Peaks .

... singing Pearl Jam's 'Daughter'.

Saturday Market, Queenstown

Bob's Weigh, Shotover Street, Queenstown

Heading back

A cuppa.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

On The Road to Gore

Forgive the smudgy car windows as I take you a few k's along the Clinton - Gore Highway on our trip south late Friday afternoon. We were taking my mother down to her sister's (Aunty Lorna) in Gore, Southland. She's been staying with us for a week, on her 'Royal Tour' as my sister dubbed her annual (sometimes bi-annual) visit/s south.

The new spring green swooping by, the sinking sun hitting the hills.

Plenty of sheep and lambs to be seen. Fat green paddocks. Fat cream sheep.

Ireland couldn't be any greener no matter how it tried, Robert said. 

Mum is a Southlander but has lived in the North Island for over thirty-five years now. She makes a trip south once or twice a year. Once a Southlander always a Southlander.


The willows have yet to take on the full spring green here in the south.

At first Clinton was described as a 'three-horse town', then it became a 'five-horse town' and the horses were given a roof. (No actual horses were harmed in the process).

The road marker posts used to be solid wooden posts but are now flat plastic - far safer for any vehicle running into them, but somehow just not the same. (Then again, I suppose that's what the old 'uns said when the carved, stone milestones were replaced with the wooden posts). 

We were about the only ones on the road from Balclutha on. A point often made about South Island roads. "Where are all the cars?" 

The sun setting behind the Hokonui hills, famous for the making of illicit moonshine in the gold-mining days of New Zealand's history.

I once spent a cold night lost in the mist of the Hokonuis. I was with six other women from the Hokonui Tramping Club, on a Sunday afternoon hike. When the mist came down suddenly, we were lost. We had to stay put, shivering in our light parkas and trying to sleep on cold, damp and sloping ground. In the morning the mist had lifted and we easily found our way out to a farmhouse. We were mentioned on the National News ('Seven women missing in the Hokonui Hills have been found safe and sound!')  I missed a whole morning of High School. (I can't remember the year now; it was either 1969 or !970).

Heading into the sunset.

Oh look. There are other cars. Two of them. Nearly at Gore now. The sun slipping away.

Friday, 28 September 2012


Andersons Bay Bowling Club; green and club house. Wooden villas and bungalows on Bayfield Road in the background.

Lawn bowls is very popular in New Zealand. It is seen primarily as a sport for old and / or retired people. Lawn bowls has a long history. It was apparently played by the ancient Egyptians. Go HERE to read a light-hearted account of the history of lawn bowls. I was amused to read there the tongue-in-cheek account of how the American version of lawn bowls, Ten Pin Bowling, evolved after English settlers lost the instructions for Lawn Bowls on the way over.

Bird sanctuary Andersons Bay inlet. 

Shags, red-footed gulls, black-backed gulls, herons, spoonbills, caspian terns ... are some of the birds that stop off at the inlet for a feed. Low tide is the best time to see the wading birds.

Clouds reflected in the still surface of the inlet. The wharf area of the city of Dunedin in the background.

A shag (cormorant) landing on the water.

Boat shed and shags, Vauxhall, Dunedin.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Cats & Date Scones

When Grommet (more commonly referred to as Grommy) arrived here as a kitten, he was named by our son Mike, 16 years old at the time. 

A  'grommet' is not only the name of a claymation dog, or the small tube inserted into the ears of toddlers with 'glue-ear', but also the nickname for a young surfer. 

Mike is a surfer and Grommy right from the start was fearless. Maybe Mike envisioned the kitten riding concrete and ocean with him on his skateboard and surfboard. I'm sure that Grommet would've been up for it. 

Grommy is large and fearless, always placing himself in the centre of what is happening. The other day, for example, as we waved off my brother and sister from our balcony, Grommy was there too, his face between the rails watching with interest as their car pulled away. If he could, he'd have waved his paw at them as they disappeared down our drive. 

More than once he has been known to happily ride down our driveway on the bonnet of a visitor's car. He has also been found sitting on the seat of a parked motor-bike, ready to roll. 

As a new-born kitten, Grommy decided my brother's fox terrier was his parent. Sometimes he thinks he's human, sometimes he thinks he's a dog. I don't think the fact that he is actually a cat has ever entered his head. 

Typical demure Aggie-pose.  Serious, Aggie remains slightly aloof as she quietly considers things, but keeps her thoughts to herself. She is an introvert. 

Grommet arrived along with his sister. I named his sister Aggie after great-grandmother Agnes. Both kittens  were from my brother's farm. My sister-in-law and niece brought the whole litter to town and pleaded with me to take a kitten. The kittens, who were sired by a wild tom, were sentenced to die. My animal-loving niece was beside herself. When I said we'd take two, I've never been hugged so hard! 

Aggie, demure and ladylike, is a lot less high-maintenance than her more demanding brother. She will 
calmly and daintily pat down a cushion from wherever it is placed and mould herself a warm sleeping place for the day. Grommet on the other hand will follow me about, talking and demanding attention and when walking ahead of me down the hall, purposely  set the pace (slow) and force me to keep behind if I don't want to trip over him. 

When we have people here, Aggie is more likely to disappear, whereas her brother will lie down in the middle of the room and expect lashings of admiration and attention.

Both cats are 14 years old now  - the same age as granddaughter B. who as a baby, loved to crawl around after the two kittens.

Date scones

I used the tasty dates given to me from friends over from Saudi Arabia. The dates were wrapped up in their own packet, like a boiled lolly, but much healthier. I had to unwrap each date and remove the stone. 

With the longer days and warmer (negligibly) weather, the inside becomes less of a focus and outside more inviting.

Robert nearing the end of a bike-ride home from work. As he would say, one of us has to work. I guess not  all of us have the luxury of stoning dates and pondering the personalities of cats.

Thursday, 20 September 2012


In Maori (or more correctly, in Te Reo) the word for yellow is kowhai.

The name of this New Zealand tree is kowhai.

We are lucky enough to have kowhai growing close to the house. This spring the flowers seem to be even more abundant than usual.

This week some tui are making themselves at home in the tree. They adore the nectar of the kowhai flower..

The tui (the Europeans dubbed it the Parson Bird because of its white collar) has a very melodious song. It mimics the bellbird, adding its own tweaks and creaks.

The flowers drop on to the lawn, making a bit of a mess, caking the soles of shoes.

Soon the yellow will be gone again. Until this time next year.

Monday, 17 September 2012

'smoke on the water'

Sunday morning at the Gardens with the wee nippers. Time seemed to be the theme of the day - each dvd we watched with them or (when they were asleep and / or delivered back to their parents) seemed to be on the theme of Time - its management, its tricks ...

As we played with our grandchildren I thought of the how through the law of concurrence, it could be said that we were also playing with time.

magnolia stellata (starry magnolia) 

Magnolias are certainly starring right now as they burst into blossom in gardens all over the city - from Highgate to Canongate, North-east Valley to South Road.

H poses as star! First subject, then ...

as camera-man.

We thought of Steve and E. and the kids in Kyoto, Japan. (Who as it turned out were actually in E's hometown of Osaka at the time).

Robert said he never knew there was a Japanese Garden in our Gardens ( it's only been there since 1998!)

Dunedin's sister city is Otaru

Magnolias (especially the pink ones) remind us of our granddaughter (in Japan) whose name incorporates this tree (also known as 'tulip tree'). 

We got grain for the ducks from the Gardens Shop, but the ducks weren't hungry today. The kids were content to independently commune with the ducks (or commune with the lack of any communing the very replete ducks were doing).

V without any prompting, placed her empty paper bag into the bin (as well as someone else's she found on the grass). Then she started picking up feathers (maybe our son Chris's partner, Jenny has been a model!) We felt proud.

This photo could be of our son Mike at the same age ... time continuing to play its tricks.

I like to think I'm doing my photographer d-i-l Kate proud with this photo's sepia treatment.

In the car the kids entertained us with Queen and Deep Purple songs - 'we will, we will rock you' and 'smoke on the water, fire in the sky' as we rode through a still-waking Dunedin city - sunlight dancing silver off flat-lined puddles.

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...