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

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Pudding Time for Birdies

Our little feathered friends have been feeding on the bird pudding hanging from a tree out in the garden.  This concoction of dripping, bird seed, honey, and raisins is a very attractive proposition to the visiting Wax Eyes and Greenfinches.  They flutter around, land on the pudding, take a few bites, then fly off again, while another bird waiting on a branch arrives to take  their place.
DSCF6664 Eating the bird pudding
The little Wax Eyes were very partial to an over-ripe Kiwifruit which I hung up to temp them.  They land on the tree and deftly climb down the string.  Then they peck away at the sweet soft fruit inside the furry Kiwifruit skin.
DSCF6672Feeding on a Kiwifruit
It is so nice to have these birds visiting our garden.  Our cat Muffy shows not the slightest bit of notice to the bird life outside.  She would much rather be curled up nice and warm inside rather than playing “big white hunter” outside in the cold.  We think that if she did manage to catch a bird, she wouldn’t quite know what to do with it!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

We hate gardening!

It is no secret that we are both very bad gardeners.  It is not that we don’t like it all looking nice, but it all gets away on us, I’m sad to say.  Too many weekends spent away in the caravan, I expect. I recently bought some plants to put in the pots on the back deck.  This sort of gardening I can cope with.  Pansies are flowering, anemones are growing nicely and  there are some spring bulbs which are poking their leaves through.
DSCF6477 Pots on the back deck
DSCF6478The hyacinths are starting to flower
But the never ending weeds shamed us into spending a little time in the garden recently.  Robin climbed up on a ladder to trim back the jasmine vine climbing up a trellis by the garage.  He rues the day I planted this small cutting, he often says, usually when he is wielding the pair of hedge cutters.  It grew rapidly from a small cutting to something that has taken over this end of the garage completely. 
DSCF6305 Attacking the climbing jasmine
Meanwhile I was on my hands and knees pulling out long weeds to discover these garden ornaments, two lizards and my hand painted little worm.  I remember going along to a class some years ago and it took me all morning to paint my little worm, and half of that time was spent in deciding on what colours to paint him!  Here they are ready and waiting for a good scrub with hot soapy water to rid them of all that grime.
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And what a difference that made.  The mosaic lizard looks like a different species now he has been cleaned up.  This was a Christmas gift several years ago and hand made by my crafty daughter Nicky.
DSCF6311 All sparkling clean now
We only weeded part of the back garden, I’m sad to say, so will have to get on with the rest of it shortly.  Then it all needs re-barking to keep the weeds down.  Have a look what we saw over the fence in our neighbour’s back yard.  We wouldn’t like to come across him hiding in the long weeds!
crocodile Look what we spotted over the fence

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sunday Afternoon Movies

It was a wintry Sunday afternoon and we went to the movies with our SLG friends.  Yvonne was in charge of the day, and the film she had selected was “The Conspirator”.  This told the story of what happened after President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, and  Vice President Andrew Johnston, and Secretary of State William Seward were brutally attacked.  Mary Surratt was charged as a co-conspirator and tried in a military court on circumstantial evidence, and therefore denied a civil trial by jury.  The gritty courtroom drama played out as Mary was defended by an unwilling young lawyer, who soon sees that the trial is unjust and corrupt.  He does his very best for her, but Mary is being denied her right to a fair trial. 
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We had to admit that this story of American political history was not known to any of us, but the film had us on the edge of our seats as it slowly ground on the the inevitable conclusion.  Mary was found guilty, and her young lawyer Frederick Aiken tries desperately to secure a stay of execution.  This was overturned, and Mary, together with three others, went to the gallows.  There were no big names that we recognised in this film, but the acting was suburb.  This brilliant and engrossing piece of history was brought to life by director Robert Redford.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Visit from the Emperor

A young Emperor penguin, knick-named Happy Feet, came ashore 4000kms away from his home in Antarctica to arrive at Peka Peka Beach.  It is a mystery how he came to be so far off course, and since his arrival, has been attracting quite a following.    Penguins in Antarctica swallow ice when trying to cool down. Not knowing any better, Happy Feet has swallowed a large amount of sand and sticks while on the beach.  After four days of eating sand his condition has deteriorated and fears are held for his survival.
Miles from home ... Happy Feet has been eating sand.
Photo: Ross Giblin, The Dominion Post
Yesterday officials from Te Papa Museum and Department of Conservation staff packed the penguin in a box of ice and rushed him to the Vets in Wellington Zoo.  The penguin survived a four hour operation to clear the large amount of sand and small sticks from his oesophagus.  However, x-rays confirm that there is still quite a lot of sand in his stomach, and is still in grave danger.
 Staff at Wellington Zoo work on Happy Feet on Friday. An Xray taken before the penguin's procedure shows sand filling his stomach and throat.
Photo: Chris Skelton, The Dominion Post
Happy Feet has awakened and is recuperating in a temperature controlled room.  Nibbling ice, and with the promise of a meal of fish slurry soon, he will be carefully monitored.  His long term future is unclear, but hopefully he can be returned closer to his home sometime in the future.  We certainly wish him well. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Thanks to the Volunteers

It was National Volunteer Awareness Week and we were invited to attend a “Reflection – followed by Morning Tea”.  Robin had recently become a volunteer driver with the Cancer Society, and was happy to offer his time to this good cause now he is no longer working.  He takes local patients into Wellington Hospital for treatment and appointments.
DSCF6618 Robin’s invitation
About 80 people gathered at St Joseph’s Church, Mt Victoria.  Everyone was given an electronic candle, and as they flickered away we were reminded of the light and goodness inside each person who willingly gives their time to the service of others less fortunate.  Five candles were arranged on the table to remind us of the Southern Cross in our skies, which also features on the New Zealand flag.  All the volunteers were thanked, as they make such a difference to the lives of people touched by cancer.  They provide a myriad of support, from drivers, telephone co-ordinators, visiting the sick, help in the wards, provide baking for the Cancer Society rooms and hostels, gardening and handyman services.  The Wellington area of the Cancer Society is well served with over 500 volunteers, from Wellington City, the Hutt Valley, Kapiti Coast and through to the Wairarapa.  All these people have received training and happily donate their time and energy to help others.  Mary, from the Kapiti area, was presented with a beautiful Camellia tree to mark her 25 years of volunteer work.  The Camellia had lovely pink buds and was fittingly called “Volunteer”.
DSCF6625 Camellia tree, candles, and daffodils -  which are the symbol of the Cancer Society
The service was followed by Morning Tea in an adjacent room.  As we mixed and mingled with a nice warm cup of tea, or coffee, we tasted the most delicious cheese muffins, (they were tiny so one was certainly not enough) followed by heart shaped shortbread. 
DSCF6629 Morning Tea
The Cancer Society values the work of all the volunteers highly, and  they must make a huge difference to the organisation.  The morning tea today was a very pleasant “thank you” for their efforts, and is surely much appreciated.
DSCF6628 Robin, volunteer driver

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Pea Soup sort of Morning

Pulling back the curtains this morning gave us a look into grey nothingness, the mist was so thick it was rather like looking through grungy grey pea soup.  We could hardly see over the back fence, let alone see the hills which were well hidden from view.
DSCF6589 View over the back fence
Looking up and down our street was just as bad.  You could hardly see anything, and cars appeared out of the mist with the headlights dimmed by the heavy mist. 
DSCF6590 Looking north up our street
DSCF6591And heading south
DSCF6593That’s us, taken from across the  misty road
An hour or so later the sun came out and the mist dissipated, helped along by a gentle breeze.  A pot of soup is simmering on the stove, the washing is flapping outside in the breeze, and the birds are fluttering around our bird feeder.  It’s turned into a lovely day in our little piece of paradise.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

NZMCA Rally at Manawatu College, Foxton

The promised rainy weekend arrived and it was lucky that all attendees were on hard parking.  With not much at all in the way of parking help or instructions when we arrived, everyone had arranged themselves as they wanted, on the quadrangle and in front of classrooms.  Some of the motor homes were parked very close together, and we were hemmed in with a motor home at either end.  We felt this was a bit dangerous, and heaven help us in an emergency if anyone needed to get out quickly.
DSCF6564 Motor homes everywhere with us in the middle
DSCF6563Even more motor homes and buses at the college
We awoke on Saturday morning to a mild crisis – the gas had run out overnight so the fridge wasn’t working.  Luckily Robin had brought an extra gas bottle with him.  So on with his yellow raincoat, and out he had to go in the pouring rain to change the gas bottle over.  Crisis over.
DSCF6562 What a way to start the morning
There was a mid-winter lunch organised at the local RSA.  With just a short walk through the college grounds, over a little bit of rough ground, and squeezing through a gap in the fence and we were there.  The dining room was packed with a whole bunch of happy campers ready for a nice roast meal.  What could be nicer than roast beef, roast potatoes and pumpkin and seasonal veggies on a cold winter day.  Dessert was apple and blackberry crumble served with whipped cream, and tea or coffee to follow.  All very reasonably priced too.
DSCF6566 We took over the dining room
 DSCF6567 Geoff, Eileen, Jenny and Robin at lunch
The dining room had a very beautiful Maori door lintel carving on display.  Carved in 1982 by John Collins, in the style of the Te Atiawa tribe of Taranaki, it was made for the local Feltex factory.  When the factory closed down, the carving was gifted to the RSA club.  The timber used is a piece of Kauri which has been dated to 700 years old.
DSCF6569 Carved Pare (door lintel)
Our get-togethers were held in the college hall, morning teas, happy hours, and a few games of housie on Friday evening.  Geoff and Eileen won a meat pack in one of the quick fire raffles, that would keep them well fed for several meals. A large group of us enjoyed the film “The King’s Speech” on Saturday evening, but oh, those plastic chairs in the hall were so uncomfortable to sit in for any length of time.  A large diesel heater roared away and really worked hard warming the  hall.  It sounded rather like a rocket ready to take off.
DSCF6577 Diesel heater in hall, glowing red
It was another good weekend away. Being Murphy’s Law we packed up in the rain, and started off for home, this time taking the caravan back with us.  Several neighbours had noticed that we returned home without it last time, and wanted to know where it was.  With the fridge and bathroom cleaned, and the floor vacuumed, it is all ready for the next trip away in a couple of weeks time.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Paekakariki, Otaki and on to Foxton

Packing up for a weekend away in the caravan without the caravan being at home to put everything in was a little bit difficult.  Extra clothes were hurriedly pushed into plastic bags and tossed in the back seat of the 4WD.  Perishables were packed into a large chilly-bag.  And we had better not forget to take the cat!  We were heading back to Foxton this weekend and had left the caravan at our friend’s rural property at Otaki for the last two weeks.  In fact, Geoff and Eileen were the reason we were returning to Foxton again.  They had recently joined up with the Manawhenua (Manawatu/Horowhenua) Branch of NZMCA (New Zealand Motor Home Association) but had yet to attend one of their rallies.  We offered to attend their first one with them, to show them the ropes.  Driving past Paekakariki we saw a wonderful sight.  Oh look, a steam engine, stop the car!  Steam Incorporated were firing up the engine, and doing some maintenance, by the look of all those men peering intently at the wheels.  There was an excursion coming up in a couple of weeks,  I was told, so they were checking things out.  That was certainly worth stopping for.  We are very partial to steam trains so must remember to check out the website and see what excursion trips are coming up, and more importantly, if they are in our price range.
DSCF6549 Steam engine at Steam Incorporated, Paekakariki
We had an easy run up to Otaki and were soon reunited with our caravan.  There’s Romany Rambler, sitting patiently on the driveway, waiting for our return.  We loaded all the bags of “stuff” into the caravan, put the food in the fridge, clothes in the drawers, and those on hangers in the wardrobe.  Muffy’s lead was attached to the front of the caravan so she could enjoy some rural Otaki sunshine after her car journey.    After we had lunch with Eileen, I came back outside to find Tiger, one of the resident cats, in a stand-off with Muffy.  There they were, several feet apart, staring intently at each other.  Luckily no fur was flying, and no hissy cat fights had taken place – it was just intimidation by staring. 
 DSCF6551 Ready and waiting for us
As our weekend away was “non power” we had to make sure there was enough fuel to run our diesel heater.  Rain had been forecast for the weekend, so it was sure to be cold.  It didn’t take Robin long to top up the heater tank.  That should last us over the weekend.
DSCF6553 Refilling the diesel heater tank
Hooking up the caravan, we continued on our journey to Foxton.  The weather was clouding over and the sky looked rather strange.  We wondered if dust particles from the volcano in Chile were the reason for this, as it was only mid-afternoon when this photo was taken.
DSCF6558
The rally was taking place at Manawatu College and entry was not to be before 4.00pm.  We joined the line of motor-homes all queued up ready and waiting to get into the grounds and followed them around the back of the buildings.  There was quite a bit of too-ing and fro-ing as large rigs backed up and parked themselves.  I guided Robin into place, and once settled, went to register for the weekend.  The rain set in, the temperatures dropped, so it’s just as well that we can rely on our heater to keep us warm.  And with no power to make the electric blanket work, it was lucky that I had just purchased a “hottie” to warm the bed!
DSCF6572 Here for the weekend rally

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ginger Beer and White Chocolate

Our motor mechanic John went above and beyond the call of duty last week when he came to work on his day off especially to finish the repairs on our 4WD.  Robin was so impressed with his dedication that he quietly took the boss aside to ask what John’s tipple of choice was.  John is not much of a beer drinker, was the answer, and what he really enjoys is ginger beer and white chocolate.  So that is what we got him.

 DSCF6483 White chocolate and ginger beer

Robin called down to the garage to drop our little “Thank You” off.  (No photos as we didn’t want to embarrass John at all).  John was delighted with his unexpected pressie and a big grin came over his face.  He said he would share some ginger beer with his workmates, but the chocolate was all his and he was taking it home!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Importance of being Earnest

The Lighthouse Cinema in Petone was showing this film. a “must see” for me.  Yes, I told Robin, I know I have  seen this play several times, but I need to go and see the film too.  After all, it is a classic, and in my opinion, is Oscar Wilde at his best.  Robin decided that he really didn’t need to see it again, and took himself down to Petone Beach to enjoy a leisurely hour with the Sunday paper. I climbed the stairs to Theatre Four and sat down with twenty or so others to enjoy the film.
DSCF6511 Lighthouse Cinema
This film was rather special, as it was filmed during a live performance at the American Airlines Theatre on Broadway, New York.  We were taken behind the scenes for an interview with Brian Bedford, who played the indomitable Lady Bracknell.  Brian Bedford also directs and the New York Post review states: “He is a master of the precise pause and the arched eyebrow, evoking laughter simply by dropping his voice and octave on a word”.
DSCF6512
The Importance of Being Earnest – A Trivial Comedy for Serious People, was first performed on 14 February 1895 at St James Theatre in London.  It is a farcical comedy in which two of the characters pretend to be other people in order to escape burdensome social obligations. Working within the social conventions of late Victorian London, the play's major theme is the  satire of Victorian ways. I just love the witty dialogue, the dramatic timing and pauses and the glorious words which flow so effortlessly.  The costumes were beautiful and serious Jack, masquerading as Earnest while in town, was wonderfully handsome.  No wonder this is one of Oscar Wilde's most enduringly popular plays.  And yes, I certainly would see another version, you can’t get too much of a classic, can you?

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Spring of Life – Artesian Water at Petone

The hills were somewhere, but very hard to see with the low mist covering everything.  Or was it fog?  It was a bit like living on the Yorkshire moors when we looked out the window.  There it was hovering over the road as we started on our trip down to Petone.
DSCF6493 Hovering mist in the valley
DSCF6500As we passed through Silverstream the mist was even lower
Heading south we left the mist behind and arrived at our destination of Petone.  People come from far and wide to partake in Petone’s hidden treasure, taps giving pure artesian water.  Commissioned by the Lower Hutt City Council, Te Puna Wai Ora (The Spring of Life), is the outlet point for pure untreated artesian water which runs down through the Hutt Valley and is pumped up to the surface for anyone to collect. The Sculpture is in two parts, the marker of stacked vessels which is the fountain and a smaller vessel on a base next to it which provides fill up points or water outlets for the public to use. The work is set in a mini park environment, and was designed by Louise Purvis in 2003. 

 

DSCF6513

The artesian water originates from the waters of the Hutt River which enter the secure artesian aquifer.  It is naturally filtered through the alluvial gravels and sands over several years before reaching the Petone foreshore.  Today, treated artesian water is supplied to residents of the region.  However, many people travel long distances to Petone to collect pure untreated artesian water Te Puna Wai Ora.
DSCF6515 Collecting water to take home
DSCF6519 Drinking fountain for the artesian water
There is always a steady stream of people who arrive with water containers to fill.  Guess they think it just tastes better.  An Asian couple were busy filling their many containers while I snapped a few photos.  “You want me to take a photo of you?” the man asked me.  Brrr, it was chilly down at Petone.
DSCF6516

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Last of the Summer Wine

We are great fans of this English comedy series and were delighted to discover that the local library have videos of all the series produced.  Starting at the beginning (of course) we will be working our way through the videos one at a time, and are now up to series two.  The antics of the three young at heart pensioners as they fill in their days coming up with daft schemes always amuse us.  We has forgotten just how disreputable scruffy old Compo was in the early series with missing teeth, although these seem to have to fixed in the later years.    Nora made her first appearance wearing the trademark wrinkled stockings enticing Compo to declare his undying passion for her.  Everyone smokes like chimneys in these early videos, which is certainly not done in modern filming.  And doesn’t philosophical Cleggy look young.  But when you realize that this TV show started way back in the 1970’s, of course the actors were so much younger and fitter then.
DSCF6356 Series One – Last of the Summer Wine
Strangely, while we had been watching these early videos, the final series of Last of the Summer Wine has been playing on TV.  Sadly, BBC made the decision to stop production of this evergreen show with it’s world wide audience after this particular series was completed.  Roy Clarke, the writer of each and every episode, was upset that he didn’t have the chance to write a suitable finale to wind it all up with some dignity. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The family’s new Horse Truck

It was a short trip from Foxton to Kiwitea over the weekend when we went to visit the family.  Just before Sanson we passed this burnt out property.  It has been standing like this for quite some time now, with the roof gone and the rooms wide open to the elements.  We can only suppose that there is some dispute with the insurance claim, to leave it in this condition for such a long time.  This large house was originally sited in Wellington city and was transported to Sanson some years ago.
DSCF6448 Is this a haunted house now?
Our son-in-law Robert had recently bought a horse truck and was keen to show us around.  The vehicle is a 1984 Ford, Series N, and was rather neglected on a farm for some years.  With a bit of TLC it will be just the thing for the family to take away to all those regular horse events they regularly compete in.  There is plenty of storage for large amount of horse gear needed, including this handy tack room accessed from the outside.
DSCF6450 Tack room on the truck
The accommodation is in front, and there is a very large comfortable overhead luton.  There are kitchen facilities and a comfy couch in this area. 
DSCF6452  Living area
The back of the vehicle has room to carry four horses, and is easily hosed out to keep clean.  With the addition of flooring and seating and another bed, there is plenty of room for a family holiday when the horses are left home on the farm.  Robert’s hunter Storm was looking at us over the fence.  She is known as a “full wire hunter”, which means she is capable of jumping a full wire fence on hunt days, and was bred by Robert.  As there are no foxes in New Zealand, the hunt chases hares over farmland.
DSCF6455Robert’s horse Storm
Grand-daughter Megan was recovering from an operation needed to insert a plate and pins in her broken collarbone.  No prizes for guessing that she broke her shoulder taking part while riding in a hunt.  The horse escaped injury, she was pleased to tell us.  Here she is showing Grand-dad some horsey photos on the lap top.
DSCF6458 Megan and Robin

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Robin to the Rescue

After departing from the Manawatu Caravan Club grounds at Foxton, we had arranged to take our caravan and stay at friends Geoff and Eileen’s rural property at Te Horo.  Why drive home in all that long weekend traffic if we don’t need to, we reckoned.  To say that our friends were in a spot of bother when we arrived, would be putting it mildly.  They were endeavouring to park their caravan up at the back of their property and had got bogged down in the soft wet soil.  The wheels of Geoff’s 4WD were spinning deeper and deeper in the mud and going nowhere as he tried in vain to back the caravan off the soft grass and onto the hard asphalt.  The problem seemed to be that as the wheels of caravan hit the edge of the asphalt the hitch mechanism switched from backing mode to braking making the task of getting the caravan off the wet grass onto the hard impossible.  Not helping the problem was that the the 4WD was equipped with road tyres not mud tyres.
DSCF6465 Stuck fast in the mud
Could we help Geoff out of this quandary?  Of course, but we had to park our own caravan up first, and it was facing the wrong way so had to be backed onto the lawn in the front of the property but not putting our vehicle onto the soft grass. The idea was to unhitch the car turn it around staying on the asphalt, re-hitch, pull the caravan forward so that it was now facing towards the gate, then to back up to where it was to be parked. That was the idea but Robin had trouble getting the caravan hooked up to his 4WD as he did not have enough angle to work with.  Geoff then produced a long strop, attached it to both vehicles, and thankfully, pulled the caravan around on the soft grass.  Then it was just a matter of hooking the caravan up to the car, and carefully backing it past the house and in front of the garage.  Thank goodness one caravan is finally where it should be!
DSCF6463 .  Attaching the strop
Now, back to that muddy problem around the back.  The drivers decided that two cars were needed to deal with this so the strop was attached between our vehicle and the back of the caravan.  My very important job in all of this was to be the go-between and let Robin know the second that Geoff started his car up.  With Robin towing and Geoff pushing, there was enough momentum to get the caravan out of the muddy hole and onto the asphalt.
DSCF6467 Ready, steady, go
DSCF6468 Success at last
Thank goodness that worked.  The caravan was soon manoeuvred into position with the help of two strong men.  After all that effort out in the rain we really needed a cuppa to recover.
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The back lawn was a bit of a mess, and our friends decided that it might be a good idea to extend the asphalt to make turning the caravan easier in wet conditions.
DSCF6472 Oh dear, a bit of a mess