Success is getting what you want; happiness is liking what you get

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wairarapa Wildlife

We came across all sorts of wildlife in the Wairarapa last weekend while we were driving around.  We called in to Claireville to check out the facilities at the Motor Camp.  A lovely tranquil lake edged with rushes made a pretty background for the two different species of ducks which paddled serenely across the water.  This cheeky duck was on a mission, she waddled right up to us to see who these visitors were.

DSCF2034 Is this Jemima Puddleduck perhaps?

We then drove on to Mount Holdsworth, set in the Tararua foothills.  This is a very popular tramping area and the car park was packed with people out for the day walking, tramping or staying the night at one of the huts farther up the mountains.  The kowhai trees were in flower and we spotted this kereru (native pigeon) feasting on the blossoms.  He wasn’t the least bit worried about all the people standing under his tree and pointing cameras at him.

PA240112 Kereru feeding in a kowhai tree

We came across a  bit of a road block on the way to Mount Bruce.  A local dairy farmer was moving his large herd of cows to the milking shed, which just happened to be on the other side of the main road.  We slowed the car right down as we carefully edged our way through the herd.

PA240111 Road block in the country

At the Mount Bruce Pioneer Museum we stopped and admired a paddock full of young calves.  These babies hadn’t long been separated from their mothers and were being fed with milk through a “calfaterior”, a strange looking contraption rather like the bowl of a washing machine with a multitude of feeding teats.  The calves were just starting to eat grass but must have thought we looked a motherly bunch as they all came running up to see if we had any milk for them.

DSCF2061 Are you my mother, they seem to be saying

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Mount Bruce Pioneer Museum

We took a drive up to the Mount Bruce Pioneer Museum, 18 km north of Masterton, in the weekend.  After gathering all sorts of memorabilia for over 37 years, Mr Christensen told us that he has finally stopped collecting, but people still give him items to display.  There is an extensive private collection of restored farm equipment including the oldest tractor in the district, horse-drawn grader, stationary engines, milk delivery truck and a fire engine.

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The worrying thing was that we all recognised many of the items on display – mind you, it was a long time ago since we were all youngsters.  We were serenaded with a song played on an antique wind up record player as we wandered around. There was a large display of butter churns, and the little wooden paddles to make butter balls reminded me of my time staying on a farm where my cousins separated the milk, made the butter, then the butter balls.   Being a young girl, and a townie, I had trouble mastering these country tasks.

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As we walked around the displays it was a matter of, “we had one of those, wonder what happened to it?”  There were washing machines, typewriters, sewing machines, heaps of kitchen items, and an interesting collection of tins and packets from the kitchen of yesteryear.  Some of the early refrigerators had the motor on top, we had never seen fridges quite like this before.  Stacked on a shelf were the wooden crates that our New Zealand cheese and butter was packed in to be shipped overseas.There was a huge collection of meter boxes, and several old telephone systems.  You know the type, where the operator puts the plug into the flashing light.  Then there was the old clothing and household linen, and more books and magazines that you could read in a lifetime. 

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Outside was a display of old tractors and carts in various states of repair.  It was so interesting to see the original timber wheels on some of the older carts.  Who can do this sort of work these days, we wondered?  Making timber wheels must be a dying art.  Robin was interested in the old petrol pumps on display and could remember some of the petrol brands from long ago.  It certainly was a walk down memory lane.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

BBQs and early Halloween

We were very lucky with the weather over Labour Weekend, with three nice sunny days over the long weekend.  We had a rally at Carterton Holiday Park with our friends from the Caravan Club, and this camp would have to be one of our favourites.  It has a generous sized dining/TV  room that we can use in the evening for our get togethers.  Carterton was established in 1857 and was originally known as “Three Mile Bush”.  The town was named after Charles Rooking Carter.

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The weather man had promised rough weather but luckily that did not happen.  So we cooked our first BBQ of the season.  In the end we cooked two, just had to have another BBQ the following evening as the weather was just glorious.   Cooking barbeques is very much a “man” thing, and they were busy turning their sausages, chops, steak kebabs, potatoes, mushrooms and onions.   The ladies of course were busy preparing the vegetables and salads to go with all these barbeque delights.  It was warm enough to allow us to eat our meals outside in the early evening air. 

 

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We met up in the dining room on Sunday evening and were each given an orange and a candle.  Our task was to turn this into a Halloween head using whatever other bits and pieces we could gather, if required.  Most of us performed the task we were given, hollowing out the orange and cutting a grinning face for the candle light to shine through.  I had forgotten to cut a whole in the very top to allow the smoke to escape, and the smell of my burning orange filled the air.  I had also added some flowering sprigs as hair since I decided that my orange was a girl – the base of these twigs were also smouldering in the candle flame!

 

PA250129 My girlie orange with flowers in her hair and a scarf, and Robin’s orange with it’s maniacal grin

However, as to be expected a few thought “outside the square”.  and came up with something completely different.  Eileen’s orange had a touch of Carmen Miranda with her big blue eyes, earrings and  a  magnolia blossom perched on her head.  Geoff came up with a still life fruit arrangement.  No cutting and no candles from these two.

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Graeme made a helicopter from his orange, hung it from a balloon, lit the candle, and “bang”, the balloon exploded and the helicopter then fell to the floor.  All this happened in an instant so we were unable to get a photo of the completed contraption with the candle aflame.  This was all a lot of fun and it was certainly interesting to see the ideas that everyone came up with.

 PA250136 There’s a helicopter in here somewhere

Friday, October 23, 2009

Happy Birthday Jenny

It’s my birthday today and I’m in “Countdown Mode”.  This time next year I am finally old enough to be paid to stay home.  Yippee!! 

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All set to open the birthday cards

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Firemen to the rescue, again…..

Ringgggggg went the fire alarm.  We sat transfixed at our desks, expecting it to be a test.  But no, the ringing kept on.  It was a mad scramble to unlock the desk drawer to grab my handbag, sling my jacket over my arm, and follow the crowds out the door to our assembly point outside.  This was getting to be a habit as we were also evacuated  in June when we had a fire in the ceiling, and in July for a mail room scare.  The Team Leaders gathered their staff around them and checked names against the register.  Here come the fire engines, lights flashing and sirens wailing.  The men in yellow raced inside to see what they could find.

DSCF2020 First one fire engine arrived

After standing around in the chilly wind for an hour we were finally allowed to return to work.  Yes, there had been a real problem, the computer room had been smouldering.  It took some time to restart everyone’s computers as they all seemed to have locked up and we couldn’t  log in and start work.  What a day, thank goodness the firemen came to the rescue again.

 

 DSCF2022 Second fire engine was close behind

Monday, October 19, 2009

Boneless Chickens!!

I saw this Far Side Cartoon in the paper a while ago and have been saving it to use on our Blogg. Those of you who know Jenny know that she will not chew bones. So when we have chicken or any other cut of meat that contains bones they are given to me to finish off. Jenny says she would prefer that chickens did not have bones and I reiterate how else would they perch! So this Far Side Cartoon sums up Jenny’s idea of a most appropriate chicken farm.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Wet Sunday at the Movies

The weather this weekend has been wet, wet, wet.  So spending Sunday afternoon at the movies seemed like a good idea.  Six of us met down at the Petone Light House Cinema complex.  The Light House is one of those boutique theatres that run different films in each of the five different sized theatres.  We were in a cosy 30 seat auditorium and perhaps because it was a wet Sunday afternoon, all the seats were full.

PA180101 Light House Theatre at Petone

We were there to see “Samson and Delilah”, a low budget film about a pair of Aboriginal teens whose live in a settlement in the middle of outback Australia.  Their lives are monotonous and after they both suffer violence  they decide to run away to the city.  Here of course they are completely out of their depth, their lives spiral out of control and the only solace they get is sniffing petrol.  They return to their own community and young Delilah determines to turn their lives around to live decently and fend for themselves.  This was a very sobering film which was not easy to watch.

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We finished our day out with an evening meal at Cafe Zilli.  This Turkish Restaurant had an interesting range of dishes on the menu, from shish kebabs to mousaka and we had fun going through the menu and making our choices.  Nice meals but the service was very slow.  Rex ordered an ice-cream sundae and we were all surprised at the size of it.  He did very well and managed to eat every spoon full.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Who is this eating our pudding?

Another nice new bird pudding is hanging up in the garden.  And who is this we spotted through the window?  It is a beautiful glossy starling having a taste.  He chased the smaller birds away and obviously liked what he was eating as he returned several times during the day.  So far, this is the only starling that we have noticed feeding on the bird pudding.  None of his friends seem the slightest bit interested in trying this new taste sensation.  Guess this one has a more discerning palate than the average starling.

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Acclimatisation Societies introduced starlings into New Zealand in the 1880s and like other introduced British birds, they had no trouble settling in and flourished in their new country.  They have settled in to all types of habitats, from open pastures, city parks and gardens, in orchards and along roadsides, on the edge of forests, and even coastal cliffs.  Starlings feed on caterpillars and grubs,  fruit, flying insects caught on the wing and also sip nectar from flax bushes and pohutakawa trees.

PA130095  Greenfinch and Starling feeding together

Now it is Spring we have been advised to stop feeding the birds.  If they have too much in the way of food supplements they brood several lots of chicks instead of just the one clutch.  We will resume making our bird puddings next year over winter when food is scarcer.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Christmas at Kirks

Kirkadie and Stains department store, known affectionately to shoppers as “Kirks” is a Wellington institution.   The business  was established in 1863 by John Kirkcaldie, a Scotsman who had served his apprenticeship as a draper, and Robert Stains, an Englishman who had worked in the retail trade in London. The two enterprising young men had met in Sydney then travelled to the new settlement of Wellington.  The current building forms three floors of retail store, two car-parking floors and has two 14-storey office towers above. The historic facade of the original building was retained and refurbished during the rebuilding. 

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The Christmas Shop was now open and I dragged Robin along to see all those Christmassy delights.  Over the years the Christmas Shop has outgrown it’s original home and is now situated at the adjacent Harbour City Centre. An escalator ride took us right into Christmas wonderland.  The huge Christmas trees were decorated in coloured themes and styles.  Could I take photos, I asked the staff.  (I didn’t want to be accused of retail espionage).  Certainly, was the reply.

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Shelves were brimming with glittering decorations of all colours.  Christmas red and green, gold and silver,and an amazing range of other hues, Christmas comes in any colour imaginable.  Kiwi themed decorations such as bungy jumping sheep and kiwis were available for those who would want such a thing.  Much nicer kiwi icons were also available such as pohutakawa blossom (known as the New Zealand Christmas Tree) decorations  and carved wooden motifs.

DSCF1985  Bungy jumping kiwi and sheep

There was so much to see that I plan another trip  in to the Christmas Shop, I think I’ll go on my own next time.  To be honest, I love all things Christmassy but I don’t think Robin feels quite the same way!!

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Isn’t Christmas wonderful

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Logan Brown

 

We finally made it to Logan Brown Restaurant as a very belated 25th Anniversary dinner.  Our SLG friends had given us a Restaurant Association vouchers last year and I was very keen to go to this particular establishment.  Being voted Supreme Winner of the 2009 Cuisine NZ Restaurant of the Year competition was an extra reason to go there.  Logan Brown is set in a beautifully restored 1920s banking chamber, and our meal was out of this world.

DSCF1968 Gift vouchers

The emphasis is on fresh New Zealand ingredients and the two chefs share a passion for hunting and fishing when time allows.  So what fabulous courses did we enjoy?  We received a complimentary small bowl of cauliflower soup flavoured with truffle oil.  Truffles were a new taste sensation for us and was just divine.  For starters Robin had whitebait, and I ordered tua tuas (similar to small scallops).  For the main Robin chose Angus beef and my choice was crispy duck.  Of course, we each had to have a taste test of the other’s meal.  After all these fabulous flavours we felt that we wouldn’t be able fit a dessert in so finished our meal with coffee and liqueurs.   We have to admit that this is quite an expensive restaurant but the wonderful food, service and surroundings made it a good choice for a special occasion.  I hope I don’t have to wait another 25 years before we go back there!  Pre-theatre dining with a smaller menu choice (and priced accordingly) is also available so perhaps that could be an option for a return visit.

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To make a real night of it we decided to spend the night in a hotel, this was much better than the tiny hotel room we had on our recent trip to Christchurch: we could hardly swing a cat in that room. A check on the internet a week previously had found us a hotel offering specials including a cooked buffet breakfast – that certainly sounded like us.  The TV mounted on the wall at the foot of the bed welcomed us to our room.  We left the car in the underground car park and caught a taxi from the rank outside the hotel to and from the restaurant.

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Waking up on Sunday morning we made a cup of tea while we watched the TV news from our king sized bed, this is certainly the life, isn’t it.  Then it was downstairs to see what was on offer for breakfast.  How about stewed fruit, followed by bacon, eggs, sausage, and a hash brown?  A glass of juice for me, a cup of coffee for each of us, and a piece of toast for Robin to fill up any holes, and I tried my hand on the waffle machine. While we were enjoying our breakfast we overheard two couples chatting at the next table.  How were the children doing, one couple asked.  Very well, was the reply, one looks after the farm while the other looks after the helicopter business.  My goodness, how the other half live!!  However, we did wonder why they were staying in the Ibis and not that very flash hotel over the road.

PA100061  Our Wellington Hotel

Friday, October 9, 2009

What happened to Spring?

Don’t know what has happened to Spring but we have had a week of rain in our part of the country.  Last week an unseasonable dumping of snow closed the Napier-Taupo road and hundred of drivers were forced to abandon their vehicles and were put up in emergency shelters.  The snow and freezing temperatures wrecked havoc on farms, with half the new born Spring lambs not surviving the bad weather.  Closer to home, the Tararua Ranges were topped with snow.  In the Hutt Valley we just got rain, and more rain.  Let’s hope the weather clears for the weekend.

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Low rain clouds blanket the tops of the hills around Upper Hutt today. 

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Memories of UK trip

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I did my best, truly I did!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Down on the Farm

Life at the farm is never dull, there is always something going on.  We were visiting for the weekend and Robin breathed a sigh of relief after the the huge job of laying the concrete for the garage floor was done.  (He was so tired from all that exertion that he went to have a little lie down in the caravan.)  Our daughter and son-in-law live on a small holding of several acres in Kiwitea.  Horses are their passion and there are more than a few grazing in the paddocks.   Grand-daughter Megan saddled up her current pony and took her off for a workout.  This pony is quite young but Megan is a natural rider and is busy training her steed for future competitions.  

DSCF1948 Megan and her pony

As well as the horses and sheep the family has several working dogs.  Tui (named after a famous brand of New Zealand beer) is an older but very gentle and obedient dog.  New kid on the block in Kip, puppy in training.  Kip kept an eye on all the comings and goings while the concrete was being mixed.

DSCF1956 New puppy Kip

Murray the cat is a huge boy with an attractive long coat with black and white markings.  He is one of those cats who just “flop” when held.  The spot right in front of the roaring fire is Murray’s special place and he likes to stretch full length soaking up all that cosy heat. In the afternoon the fire got to be too much of a good thing so Murray lay down in the sunshine outside for a while.  He was a reluctant photo model and actually got up and turned his back to the camera while I was trying to take his photo. 

DSCF1963 Murray the cat

 

DSCF1927 Is this art – an interesting arrangement country style perhaps?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Getting the blokes in

They drove up in their High-Lux utes, the vehicle of choice for the blokes that came to help son-in-law Robert with a spot of concreting.  He was laying the floor on his new garage and friends and neighbours were only too willing to to help.  Even Ross the Boss was lending a hand. That’s what it’s like when you live in a little country village like Kiwitea.    Russell had brought out his own concrete mixer so that certainly made a difference having two mixers going at once.  We were visiting for the weekend and Robin was lending a hand too, tapping down the wet cement to get the air bubbles out.  My job was to help with lunch. 

DSCF1926 The blokes all keen to get on with the job

Work started bright and early and by mid morning it was clear that the builders mix was running low.  A quick phone call to the suppliers soon put that right, and a large truck rolled into the property with another load.  The truck backed in, the tray was lifted up on pneumatic struts and down came another load.  That should be enough to get the job done.

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Making concrete the old way is hard work.  Six shovels of builders mix to one of cement get tipped into the churning concrete mixer, add some water, and mix till done.  This gets tipped into a barrow , wheeled over and tipped out at the appropriate place.  While the mixture is getting tapped down and smoothed out the next lot is being mixed up .  The work was relentless.  The guys on the shovels will probably have sore shoulders after this job is done. 

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Robin and Ross were working down at the site smoothing the wet mixture over the the steel mesh which is laid to give the concrete added strength.  The long handled float was used to help smooth out any little lumps and bumps.  Even with two concrete mixers going at the same time it was a long slow job.

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Finally the last barrow on concrete had been poured in place.  More smoothing over with the long handled float till the job was declared completed.  Son-in-law was told firmly, “Next time you want a concreting job done, get in a truck full of Ready Mix!!”

DSCF1945 All completed