Friday, 30 April 2010

In Memory of Mates


What a beautiful tribute.

A Vital Message

On the road through Clive in Hawkes Bay is a serious message that many would be wise to heed:



It Was A Week Ago!!

IMG_9753I left Napier a week ago!  I cannot believe it.  I cannot believe that it is eight days since I took the photo of my stuff on the bed being packed.  It seems like a few days ago.  It seems as though I have only just arrived in Eagleton.  But it’s not.  A whole week has gone by since I stepped on the plane and spent all those hours in the air and airports before eventually ending up back on Lewis.DSC08371

It’s a week ago since I once more packed my belongings into The Cupboard.  This included the gift from Friend Who Knows Too Much when I came to stay in New Zealand.  Once again it’s gone away to await my return later in the year.

A New Header

Thanks to Heather I have a new banner heading for the blog.  I’m really delighted.  My header has always been rather boring: an appropriate sort of header for me I thought.  Now that I’ve decided that I might be a tad less boring (if a tad more eccentric) I thought it was time for a change of blog image too.  All I have to do now is learn how to add more pictures.  I’m sure it’ll be within my competence.  Hmm.  We’ll see.  Anyway I hope that you like it too.  Thanks Heather.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

My Last Drive

The afternoon of the day I left The Cottage was beautiful and as I drove up the drive to The Cottage for the last time this stay I realised that I was leaving a beautiful, hot, New Zealand Autumn for a cold Scottish Spring.




I’m There

I do choose original titles don’t I?

I arrived back on the Island on Saturday afternoon to be met at the Airport by a long huge hug from Pat.  At the risk of repeating myself (why should I suddenly worry about that?!) I can think of few things more calculated to make me feel alone and lonely than arriving at the airport with no-one to welcome me. 

I am starting this post at 0723 on Tuesday 27 April.  I’ve been up for quite a while after my first good night’s sleep since I set foot on Scottish soil.  Although the *** nightmares (well they were only ponies I suppose) are back.   Sibelius’s First Symphony is pounding out.  There is a vibrant urgency in this symphony combining the last throws of the great Romantic Symphonies with a push into the music of the Twentieth Century (In which, I think, it was written.  Having said that although Sibelius died in, again I think, 1957 he wrote little or nothing of consequence in the last 30 years of his life and I can’t recall how old he was when he died.  I must go and look it all up – sometime.)  Back to the vibrant urgency!   That is how I have felt since I returned.  There is so so much to be done.  there always is, of course, but, whether it’s my imagination or I just have a short memory, I feel more than ever that there is so much to be done and so little time in which to do it.  Which is odd if you think about it.  Perhaps that’s one for A Life in The Day Of

Then there are the silly things.  Where do I keep the saucepans? (The same place I’ve kept them for the last 15 years since I built this kitchen!).  Why have the saucepans moved around (Friends have been staying).  In fact so much seems to have moved but, when I think about it, I realise that I moved quite a lot of things last summer and my recollection just hasn’t caught up.  There are the missing things.  Well, not actually, they are things I take for granted in one life and suddenly realise that I’m in the wrong life to find that particular thing. 

By now it’s nearly midday.

I started making a list on Saturday evening.  I was on the second A 4 page by Sunday.  Now I’ve edited the three pages into lists: communicate, indoors, outdoors, plan.  Then there’s the URGENT list.  Then there’s the I can’t cope I’m going to have another coffee/pour a glass of wine response.

I spent much of Monday shopping and sorting things in Town (I even had my eyes tested).  Today I decided I wasn’t leaving the house.  Blogland beckoned.  However, this morning was spent on the phone and ‘sorting’ problems.  After two years I now have online access to my cell phone account!   At one stage I was on the phone to New Zealand when my other phone rang with a call from New Zealand!  I have made three appointments and ordered my prescriptions from the Docs.

Have you ever sat somewhere with a drip?  The water sort!  The roof of the Study is a double skinned polycarbonate lined internally with wood.  Onto the lead flashing was falling a drip of water from the gutter about 2 feet above.  It sounded, like, a hammer each time a drop fell.  Despite the rain I got the ladder out and scaled the dizzy heights up to the gutter.  It was blocked.  Now it isn’t.  Whilst the ladder was out I put up my wireless weather station.  Oh yes.  Things were getting done.  Now for Blogland.

Why does this wireless keyboard and the previous one which it replaced (both being used here with Palin my laptop) keep missing out letters – and failing to register the shift key - whilst my wireless keyboard in New Zealand works perfectly?  I think CJ has the same problem.  Answers on a post card, please, to…. 

Right.  I’m resolved.  I shall now do some blog posts.

By the way.  In case any of this sounded like a complaint please let me assure you that I’ve enjoyed every minute of the last 71 1/2 hours since I arrived back on the Island.

You may be wondering why this post is here as well as on Eagleton Notes.  It’s just in case you don’t read Eagleton Notes.

I should say, too that, there are still a few posts to come on this Blog.  So please don’t go away just yet.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Back In Eagleton

I had coffee and scones at The House For An Art Lover in Glasgow this morning with Anna who took me to the Airport.  Gaz was being the great son that he is and had gone to get his Mum from the bus station and take her away for the weekend – it is her Birthday today.   I arrived in Stornoway to be collected by Pat at the Airport.  I think one of the really sad things would be to arrive at an Airport after a long journey or a long time away and not have anyone to meet one.  I’ve not really done very much since I got home apart from rejuvenate my body in the spa bath whilst catching up with John and Sue on the ‘phone.  I have some more calls to make and a friend is popping in and then it’ll be an early night for me – yes really, it has to be.  Over the next few days I’ll be doing a few more posts on this blog and then a few on Eagleton Notes where I will spend the next few months!  Go well.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Not Quite Home

I arrived in Glasgow this afternoon to find that Stornoway Airport had been closed because of the ash situation. I could have got home later this evening but I was very tired and the idea of spending an evening catching up with Gaz was very appealing.  It is now after 11pm and I've had a lovely Moroccan dinner cooked by Gaz, lots of chat, the odd glass of wine and some things to blog about too. I've now been awake over 50 hours apart from a few dozy hours on the flight from Auckland to Los Angeles so I'm a bit tired.  Hopefully I'll be home mid afternoon tomorrow.

Thursday, 22 April 2010


Well I’ll be leaving shortly.  I’ll be out of contact until I arrive in the UK.

Congratulations, Cynthia, on your becoming a Gramma again.  I wish Vivienne Iris and the family well.

I’ll only be away from Blogland for a couple of days but…… 

In fact I’ll be physically near many of you as I pass over the United States but I won’t be dropping in for coffee (leastways given that we should be at 30,000 feet or more I hope I won’t!).

Bye for now. 

Matakana Farmers’ Market

Farmers’ Markets seem to be The Thing In Vogue in New Zealand at the moment.  They are springing up everywhere.  To me the ambience and ‘genuineness’ of the one at Matakana we went to at last weekend seemed better than the others I have visited.  Yes, it was a bit twee and rustic but lets face it that’s one of the reasons people go to Farmers’ Markets.  The food mightn't have been cheap but it was good and not mass produced.  I’m not sure that necessarily makes it better nutritionally but it certainly makes it more pleasant to the mind when eating it.  I think it tastes better too but then one would wouldn’t one.






10 Hours 45 Minutes and Counting

I just decided that I had better look at my ticket to see what time I leave today.  The plane is due to leave Napier at 1755 and the London flight leaves Auckland at 2130.  I should be back on UK soil at 1100 on Friday having travelled for 11 more hours than time on the ground would suggest.  I think I’ve got that right.  Hopefully I’ll manage a blog later but now I’d better get on with the packing.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Seeking The Perfect Picture

A couple of years ago I posted a picture of an Australasian Harrier with its road kill.  I see these wonderful birds every day but rarely have the opportunity for what I would consider the perfect picture.  These are the best I could manage this summer.  The first was taken In Northland on the road from Pauline’s to Maungakaramea in January and the other two were taken at The Cottage.




I May Be Going!

Having come to the conclusion that I will be delayed I’ve just spoken to Air New Zealand and I was told that their flights to London Heathrow are leaving tonight and they expect flights to be going tomorrow as well.  People booked on those flights will be keeping their bookings and the backlog will be dealt with separately.  Well, here’s hoping.  I just hope that I don’t end up being stranded in Heathrow.  I’d rather be ‘stranded’ in the sun here in New Zealand. 

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Loos In Matakana

Pauline and I and Twink went out for dinner on Friday evening at The Rusty Pelican in Matakana.  On the opposite side of the road is a splendid public loo.  It was very impressive in its night attire and almost as impressive in the daylight next morning when we went to the farmers’ market.


Monday, 19 April 2010

A Feast Of Monarchs

I have posted on Monarch Butterflies on a number of occasions.  However when we went to visit Chris, a friend of Pauline, on Sunday the garden was a veritable feast of Monarch delights:

DSC08278 IMG_9731-1 DSC08280 DSC08288 DSC08286

Found At A Garage Sale

On Saturday morning the three of us went to a garage sale, a general market and a a farmers’ market at Matakana and then to a nearby general and craft market.  We had a great time.  At the garage sale I found a wonderfully eclectic assortment of books:


Another One For Adrian

Seen at Scott's Landing:

DSC07944 DSC07943The caravan may not be as flash but how about it Adrian?

Ferries To Kawau Island

On the way to stay with a friend near Warkworth on Friday evening we called at various places including Sandspit where the ferries to Kawau Island leave.  There is a ‘large’ ferry which is the Royal Mail Ferry:

DSC07874 and there are the small water taxis which also run ferry services:




These particularly interested me because until 15 years ago the ferries between Harris and the Uista and Berneray and Eriskay and Barra were small ferries like this.  They have since been replaced by causeways and car ferries.

A Short Long Weekend

What a wonderful weekend in Northland.  Did lots and did nothing.  Met lots of people.  Went places.  Saw things.  Travelled a long way!  I can’t believe that I’m back at The Cottage and have spent the latter half of the afternoon and this evening getting things ready for packing up my things in The Cottage and catching up with the weekend’s news with Wendy and Martin.  I still have no idea whether I will be leaving on Thursday or whether flights will still be at a standstill over Europe.  So in the meantime I will be working on the basis that I leave on Thursday.

The weekend left me with enough material for blogs for at least a fortnight and I now have emails and Facebook to catch up with as well.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Northland Beckons

I’m off to Northland at crack of dawn tomorrow.  Whether I’ll be blogging over the weekend is a moot point.  There is no N Z Telecom mobile signal where I will be staying so unless I am in Whangarei over the weekend I’ll be out of touch until Monday.   Enjoy your weekend.

I Thought I Could Take Photos Until…..

I know that my son Gaz can take fantastic photos.  I was, however, blown away by the few he took last week and has posted on Facebook today at ‘April In Scotland: Why go anywhere else?’  This is one of them:


Insects At Daybreak

Yesterday was a cold crisp morning and the conditions must have been exactly right for certain small flying insects to hatch and fill the sun’s rays with their being.  Oddly they didn’t come under the roof of the deck of The Cottage although they were swarming all over the paddock wherever the sun’s rays shone.  They didn’t appear to be irritating the cattle and were not interested in me if I walked outside.

DSC07714Breath in cold air and insects dancing in the sun

DSC07721 I’m sure that there must be a poem about light dancing in the rays of the sun

DSC07726 Magical

DSC07728 And as the sun rose higher the insects disappeared

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Oh Joy, Oh Rapture

With apologies to The Wizard of Oz and The Major General (The Pirates of Penzance).

And in my case I’m being ironic.  I’ve had a Good Day despite going to the dentist (whence I have to return at 0820 tomorrow!).  Well I had until I arrived home late this evening after dinner at one of my favourite restaurants.  The newly installed central heating in my house in Eagleton in Scotland (where friends are staying for the week) has stopped working ….. again.  We thought that the recent modifications to the boiler flue had solved the problems.  They haven’t.  So I’ve been on the phone to the installers.  The central heating is an irritation.  I can cope with that.  The inconvenience to Pat and Dave who so kindly look after my affairs when I’m over here in New Zealand is not OK.  So I am vexed.

House Blocks Road

imageQuirky little item on the News this morning.  In the UK this would sound weird.  Here it’s just a traffic warning.  A lorry transporting a house being moved during the night (which is when houses are moved because the roads are quiet) broke down.  Oops.  That’ll be fun during the morning.  I think it was on a State Highway and not in the middle of a town somewhere.  That could cause a bit of a rush hour problem!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Evening On The Firth Of Thames

Taken when Jayne and I spent a weekend in Thames at a croquet tournament our motel was on the edge of the Firth of Thames.  We spent several evenings wandering the water’s edge.

DSC04221 Pied Shags roosting between the Firth and the cliffs

DSC04245 Pied Shags at the water’s edge

DSC04252Now who’s getting on whom’s nerves

DSC04258Oystercatchers and New Zealand Dotterel (Tuturiwhatu) Charadrius obscurus (I’m fairly sure)

DSC04277 Gathering at sundown

Monday, 12 April 2010

One For Cynthia

Cynthia posted on Hummingbird Moth At The Lilacs on Saturday.  I commented on how great they were and that they were similar to the Convolvulus Hawk Moth that I’d photographed in Menorca.  I said that we don’t have the Hawk Moths in New Zealand but although they are not in my book they are, according to the New Zealand, Landcare Research, a native but are called a Kumera (Sweet Potato) Hawk Moth.  Cynthia asked me to show my photos so here they are:




The Autumn Of Our Days

I was chatting on the ‘phone to a friend this evening (I will give her the cloak of anonymity and she can break it if she so wishes) about the clear sky with the stars tumbling around us from it and we were comparing our respective evenings.  The conversation turned, the way chats tend to, towards autumn and whether we were in our autumns yet.  I suggested that we were in our late summers.  Perhaps, being diplomatic, I said she was in her mid summer.  As we are the same age this seemed a bit of an unnecessary sop.  Anyway she had autumn on her mind and couldn’t get that out of her head.  So I quoted the first couple of lines from John Keats’ Ode to Autumn.  It clicked.  She had done it at School.  The whole of the first verse is:

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'erbrimmed their clammy cells.

We had both decided that we were so lucky to be alive and living as we do at the moment.  We both decided that the word contentment featured high in our description of our lives. 

Yes.  Life is good.

Balloon Over Te Mata




Sunday, 11 April 2010

The Season’s Last Tournament

Last year the Te Mata Croquet Club in Havelock North about 20 minutes drive from the Marewa Club of which I am a member held a tournament.  It was just before I was due to leave New Zealand for the winter and I decided I couldn’t play.  Tony Stephens – one of New Zealand’s top players for the last 50 years! – asked Zoe to partner him and they won.  This year he asked her to play again.  Her grandmother, Judy (who lives near Palmerston North, and whom I know through croquet and whom Jayne and Colleen and I stay with when we are at tournaments there) asked me if I’d partner her at the tournament.  It was a great tournament played over 2 days under wonderful sunny, cloud free skies.  Idyllic.  Tony and Zoe won again.  Judy and I came second.  What a wonderful end to the tournament season.

DSC07694 Zoe, Tony (who also managed the tournament) and the sponsor.

DSC07693 (standing) Judy and me

Age Cometh Not Alone

In fact I could write a book about it: the glorious freedom of age and so much more.  I may yet at least write some blog postings.  This morning, however, I stepped into the shower with my spectacles on.  Oh dear.

And on that note I’m off to the second day of my last Tournament of the season.  Yesterday my partner and I dropped only one game out of 6 and that by only one hoop.  So I’m a happy little bunny.