Monday, 28 October 2013

An Eyrie With An Arbour View

for some reason, to me this pansy looks surprised ... but then pansies often do

our garden is in the mood for spring

garden ornament Owl stuck in the middle 

echium - a whole forest of them has sprung up at the back of our garden, I am hoping it will attract many honey bees, they seem to love these tall plants.

It is Labour Weekend here in New Zealand, which means a Public Holiday on Monday. 
Eighteen years ago today, we moved into this house. 
Forty-five years ago today, my father died. 
For eighteen years the 27th October is a day for me of both sun and shade. Today our mid-spring weather has reflected that mood.
Our house needs a lot doing to it inside; it has its tired areas.
A friend said to me once, "Your house is like an eryie". That is often how it feels: an eyrie- a lookout - a nest - a safe place above the street. A home for eagles. (Not that Robert and I consider ourselves birds of prey.).
This house may not get the harbour view, but as it looks out on to many trees, one could be forgiven for saying that we get an 'arbour view'.
Labour Weekend is traditionally a time for doing the garden - putting in potatoes and tomatoes. 
This year all we are are planting are runner beans and beetroot. 
That pushing a dry seed into dirt actually does have an effect, never fails to astonish me.
There have been times when I have sensed my father around; when his trademark grin is almost a presence in the room.
That this house has had other owners - people we've never met and don't know anything about - sometimes weirds me out. Did they love the house as much as we do? Or are we its real owners? LIke its REAL owners? Have we loved it the best?
This house is about as old as me. It was built when I was a baby. It was my birth day present for the future.
Spring has us in its fist of insistent exuberance. We spent today pruning and lopping and there is more yet to do tomorrow. 
Dad would be in his ninety-third year, if he was still alive.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Strainers & Ice Plants

mural on surf & lifesaving headquarters, St Kilda beach Dunedin

I don't know who painted the murals on the life saving club rooms, but he has done a real classy job. (I did see the artist at work one day, so I at least know it was a 'he' who painted them).

inviting approach to St Kilda beach

Through the gap and down a much-trampled sand bank, into the smell, sight and sound of the sea.

anyone lost a pink sock?

I didn't feel inclined to go all the way down on to the beach today, a passing nod at the breakers would have to do.

a glimpse of White Island - I've heard it's called that because of its crown of guano

ice plant


one last lookbefore heading home

Thursday, 24 October 2013


How appropriate that on this trip back to our old hometown,  the first glimpse we got was of  where - in one sense - it all started for us.

The old house overlooking Te Waewae Bay,  is what remains of York House, where Henry Hirst (our great-great-grandfather on my mother's side) from Huddersfield, Yorkshire, settled. He named the place, 'Hirstfield', but it eventually became known as Orepuki after the land he'd bought was sold to the govt. when gold was discovered there.

Unless saved, it won't be long until this once-grand house, built in the late 1860's, falls and is lost.

Te Puka o Takitimu (The Anchor Stone of the canoe Takitimu) or Monkey Island (as it is more commonly known).

In our family there is a tradition of taking all prospective (or already-landed) in-laws to see Monkey Island. Without fail they say, "You call that an island?" Or "Is that all it is?" But we don't care; they have been introduced to the family touchstone.(Even though I notice in the signage, it is referred to as a 'knob'!)

Te Waewae Bay.

I said to my sister, "Remember as kids down here on the beach eating mussels Dad and friends cooked in a tin billy over an open fire? "
She didn't seem to remember. 
Another memory is of two of our uncles walking out into the ocean at sunset, a flounder net suspended between them. Yes, they did come back! However, I don't remember whether or not they'd caught any flounder.

Memorial Gates; the old school gates and Orepuki's War memorial
From the beach we travelled into the town of Orepuki itself. On every return trip over the fifty years since we left, we have seen Orepuki dwindle from a busy town to just a shadow of itself. The closing of the school seemed like the final blow. 

On my father's side of the family, the family of Reid's arrived in Orepuki from Dunedin (having emigrated over from Derry, Northern Ireland, three years before that). They set up a boarding house in Orepuki. The site where the boarding house was, is still obvious but I'm not sure if any of the original building is still intact. (Photo above is of what is on the site, but we couldn't be sure if it's part of the boarding house or not.)

as you can see by the name, this shop was originally Adamson's (one of whom became the mayor of Invercargill) However, in my day (1960's) this was MacDonald's Draper Shop

A favourite shop of mine. On the right side as you went in, was where Mrs MacDonald served, with shelves full of rolls of materials, balls of wool, buttons, scissors, needles and everything associated with making clothes, spilling into toys and clothes the farther down the shop you went. On the left side was where Mr MacDonald served, with books, magazines (including 'Sunny Stories') comics and everything associated with stationery, eventually spilling into hardware and footwear, the farther down the shop you went. 
It was a shop full of the delicious smells of new goods - linen, nylon, wool, cotton, crayons, books, ink, sellotape, brown paper and string, dolls, shiny, black gumboots, leather, wicker and plastic ...  

Hard to imagine this street alive with life and business. I picture myself here in 1962, riding my bike, off to Phyllis Popham's Dairy to get a 'thrup'ny' mixture from the threepenny tray.

From the town, we drove to Gemstone Beach which is at the opposite arm of  Te Waewae Bay to Monkey Island.

Agates, garnets and quartz are found here. Also it is possible to find sapphires (if you are very lucky). The stones are washed in here from rivers /streams that flow into the sea from the Livingstone Mountains, located to the west.

When we were there the tide was coming in, so we didn't have much luck with finding the colourful stones.

However, I already have here at home in Dunedin (approx. two hundred kilometres away from Orepuki) two concrete steps embedded with Orepuki gemstones. 

They are my late father's handiwork. I won't go into it again, as I am sure I have already posted about rescuing these steps from our old house, then with the help of a host of relatives, eventually succeeding in getting them into our garden.

Houston's trees

With the boot of my sister's car laden down with smooth boulders and stones, we headed into town to check up on the local goss to be heard in the pub.  On the way, we passed a stand of trees very familiar from childhood - still surviving the salt-laden winds battering them into their crooked leanings.

At the pub we caught up with how there are plans afoot  (indeed, in progress) to refurbish the pub with a Garden Bar and accommodation. The publican, Alastair ? McCracken, was full of positive energy and said that with the support and focus of a strong local committee, Orepuki is looking up and new life is being breathed into the place. It is a popular place to visit, and not uncommon for the Orepuki Tavern to cook a huindred meals on a Saturday.

looking down the old street toward the Longwoods and the corner leading to where our house once stood

 And so once again, we bid our turangawaewae; our 'Puki; E noho rā: Goodbye; Ka kite anō: See you again.

Until next time.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Mullet Beach & Garden Beach; Western Southland

My sister, auntie (and her  friend Gladys) and I were southward-bound, heading for the town where we had all (apart from our aunty's friend) been raised.
However, on the way we couldn't go past without visiting the unique Cosy Nook; my sister Lynley swung a left.

The photo below doesn't show how high the waves seemed in realtion the where we were stationed, looking out from solid ground. We found it rather freaky looking out at eye-level, heaving waves appearing hellbent on throwing their weight at the shore. 
It seemed that the only protection between the sea and the land, was a scattered, faithful band of granite rocks worn smooth from centuries of guarding the shore from the invading breakers..

The houses you see below, iconic to this bay, appear peaceful, the owners unconcerned about the encroach of wild seas. They are obviously on the right side of the bluff. Even so, I don't think I would sleep easy at night living this close to a wild sea.

There was another bay I wanted to visit. One I remembered visiting (just the once) as a child. I remembered the grass growing right up to the beach. I found out from my aunty and mother that the beach I remembered was probably Garden Beach. Well named, I think.

Aunty Lorna knew the way and after travelling long gravel roads through the lush green paddocks of dairy-farming country (and seemingly nowhere near the coast) we were suddenly there.

 When we pulled in, whitebaiters with nets out at the mouth of a small creek running into the sea, looked at us suspiciously - like all *whitebaiters, they were no doubt feeling protective of 'their patch'. 

*If you don't know what whitebaiters are, go HERE which takes you to a TeAra (NZ Encycolpedia) article.

Next time - I will be posting about our next stop; our turangawaewae 

'Tūrangawaewae is one of the most well-known and powerful Māori concepts. Literally tūranga (standing place), waewae (feet), it is often translated as ‘a place to stand’. Tūrangawaewae are places where we feel especially empowered and connected. They are our foundation, our place in the world, our home'. ( a descriotion from Te Ara)

Sunday, 20 October 2013


On a recent trip south with my sister, following an inbuilt compass, we pointed our noses towards locations held dear since childhood.
With our 81-year old auntie and one of her friends on board, we headed for the south of the south coast of the South Island.

Riverton was where Mum and Dad sometimes used to buy us fish and chips. After buying the parcel, Dad would pull into a parking spot at the town end of the bridge. Here Mum would rip bits of newspaper off the huge newspaper bundle and hand them out for us to use as plates. Us six kids would then happily tuck into our share of chips and battered fish, the smell of the harbour mingling with the steam and salt. (Note to youngest sister Jill, in case you wondering why only six kids, not seven? As you were just a baby when we moved away from the district, you never participated until maybe later, on return trips).
In more recent years, I've indulged in a couple more fish and chip meals in Riverton. The fish is always super-fresh. Quite possibly, Riverton has the best fish and chips in New Zealand.

This is where the Aparima river joins the sea. Farther out from the point, beyond the bar, you can just detect the surf of the ocean where the fishing boats head out before returning with their catches later on in the day.

Riverton is a fishing village with a sense of pride in its location and in its history. It backs itself as a southern seaside resort. At one stage the locals promoted the town as 'The Riviera of the South' - perhaps taking it a little far. The climate is not really conducive to such a description.

Riverton bridge.

The Maori name for Riverton is Aparima and was a site of a large Maori pa (village).

Europeans named the whaling station they set up here, Jacobs River. Our ancestors, William Dallas (one of the original European settlers in Jacob's River) who was a Scottish seaman from the Isle of Islay, and his wife Motoitoi (Katerine) Kati Mamoe, Kai Tahu settled here.

Local driftwood art.

Lone pine.

This would do me!

We left Aparima / Riverton with its moody skies and peaceful water scenes river-side of the sand bar, and headed for where we used to live as kids, farther round the coast.

(to be cont'd) ...

Sunday, 13 October 2013

The Scoop on Scoops

One-scoop goody-gumdrop ice cream, Kingston, Southland NZ

When we were in Germany, we bought an ice-cream from an ice-cream cart. "One scoop, please", we said (or maybe Jenny translated that into German for us. I must say it was useful having Jenny with us. When you are tongue tied from not knowing a language, it can be a frustrating experience. This feeling of being lassoed to the spot is certainly lessened when you have someone who is a speaker of the native tongue).

We bought the ice creams in the extremely spacious park in Munich called Englischer Garten (English Garden). This space has acres and acres of green grass, trees, ponds and softly flowing streams. A beautiful place for an inner city setting and it was full of Munichers enjoying the warm, summer twilight. They were strolling, sitting, playing ball games or biking on the long, wide walking / biking tracks. The place was alive with the joys of summer.

... nearing the end of our delicious perfectly-measured one-scoop ice cream, English Park, Munich, Germany (Photo taken by Jenny Jakobeit).

Back to the ice cream story ...

The ice cream vendor in Munich gave us what we asked for - one perfectly round scoop; nothing more, nothing less. That's okay then, you may think. But it was at that moment, just as the ice cream was being handed over, that we realised that in NZ we kind of expect a couple more dips of the ice cream scoop. A little more tapped into the shape. Definitely not a lonely-looking one-scoop round.

We were laughing about this German efficiency. Jenny was perplexed.
"You got what you asked for," she said.
"Exactly", we replied.
It was a prime example of how in Germany what you ask for is what you get. It is an efficient way of running a society. Everyone knows where they stand. Exactly. (For example, Jenny said that in Germany you'd never write on your CV 'Good Time-keeping' or 'Punctuality' as an attribute - it is a given that everyone arrives on time etc. and if you added it in, it would be regarded with suspicion).

In the very first photo in this post, Robert is holding NZ's version of one scoop, which is one scoop with another bit added on for luck. Near enough, with a bit more on top so that there are no complaints. I don't really know what that says about the kiwi psyche.

PS 'Dinna fash' ('Don't worry' in Scottish) I will be reporting on the Roadie South with my sister (with pictures) mighty soon.

In the meantime, here is a piccie of a house that doubles as a shop in Kingston (the Southland town where we bought the ice cream).

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...