Thursday, 29 March 2012


I've just looked at my Blogger Dashboard and Reading List to see what is happening even though I'm unlikely to have much time until next week to catch up in Blogland.  However I was suddenly inundated with posts from kalou at Optical Mouse trying to interest me in, you've guessed it, an optical mouse.  When I investigated the blog I discovered that this is a person who has obviously been selling just about anything via a blog and has obviously been infiltrating people's reading lists.  How?  Or is this a Blogger way of making money by selling access to people's reading lists?  Presumably I'm not alone.

Thankful Thursday

Today I'm going to be trivial and materialistic.  OK I'm probably both of those things a lot of the time because my actions rarely match my ideals.   You will possibly remember (well you will if you read my Tuesday post) that I dropped my HTC smartphone down the loo.  Did you know that that is one of the most common reasons for cellphones being claimed for on insurance?  Well that's what I read.  Anyway after being in a box of rice for a few days and then in the heat of the sun for a day I took my courage in both hands last night, put the battery and SIM car back in and switched it on.  It worked.  The information on it was backed up so I wasn't worried about that but it does mean that the £500 replacement cost has been saved.

So today I'm truly thankful for the fact that my cellphone is alive and well.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Oops, Downs and Ups

This evening we are relaxing after the first four days of the Croquet Tournament.  Tomorrow is a rest day and then there's another four days.  However tomorrow is also the Club's Association Croquet afternoon so if the weather is a wonderful as today we'll probably be on the lawns for a little relaxation - gluttons for punishment.

The down and the oops was what happened to my HTC Smartphone.  I slipped it into my gilet pocket whilst I popped to the loo.  Yes, you've guessed it.  That was yesterday morning.  It's sitting in a bowl of rice at the moment.  In a few days I'll see if it has survived.  If not, I'm hoping that I'm insured for such accidents. 

Mike, friend from Gisborne who is staying with me during the tournament, won the Open on the first two days.  I won the Handicap over the last two days.  So between us we are celebrating this evening.

The cup that I won has been on the go for 52 years - since 1959.  It's possibly the ugliest trophy I've ever won but it's certainly the most physically impressive.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

A Hiatus?

Today was the first day of the 78th Annual Hawkes Bay Croquet Tournament.  It's been going for quite a lot longer than I have!  It's been a warm, sunny and enjoyable day.   Mike, a friend from Gisborne who is to be one of the team representing New Zealand at Croquet versus South Africa, is staying with me for the 9 days of the tournament.  I'll be partnering him in the Golf Croquet Doubles in this week's tournament.   

I'm hoping that blogging and blog reading will continue without much interruption but that may be an over-optimistic hope.  I try though. 

Friday, 23 March 2012

The Southern Bell Frog

The Southern Bell Frog, Litoria raniformis, was introduced to New Zealand in the late 1860s from Tasmania by the Canterbury Acclimisation Society. They have been very successful in New Zealand and can now be found throughout most of the country.

These frogs are the largest frogs to be found in New Zealand with females reaching over 100mm. They are similarly coloured to the Green and Golden Bell Frog (found only North of Gisborne) but often have a warty back. They generally have more dark brown or black blotches on the back and there is always a pale green stripe down the middle of their back (although this can change in intensity depending upon environmental conditions). The back of their thighs and groin area are bright blue to turquoise and the belly looks granular. The fingers lack webbing while the toes are almost completely webbed. There are no suckers on the ends of their toes or fingers.

The call is similar to the Green and Golden Bell frog but is not as drawn out. It can be best described as crawcrocrocrocrok (in Australia it is also known as the Growling Grass Frog). Males usually call while floating in water.

They seem generally to prefer to breed in permanent lakes, swamps and dams with still water.

It's a few hundred metres to the nearest water from The Cottage but I assume that's a mere hop or two for them. I wondered for a few seconds why he was climbing up my door - he was  up on the glass when I first saw him/her - though as s/he has no suckers I'm not sure how s/he managed that.  Obviously it was the large amount of insects gathered on the glass attracted by the house lights that in turn attracted the frog.

The Front Passes Through

This morning the weather front passed through with a very marked delineation between the heavy cloud of the past few days and the promise of sun and warmth coming in from the West.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Thankful Thursday

The rain stopped today and the sun came out and it has, in fact, been a very warm day.  It presented an opportunity to get some washing done.  

It also meant that the ground could start drying out and the orchardists could get back to work picking the apples.

Meanwhile the Tutaekuri River not far away from here where the children used to swim has peaked and started subsiding.  People often wonder how it is that these huge wide river beds which are all over New Zealand and of which there are a fair number locally are so wide when they usually have a tiny river wending its way somewhere along the bed.  So the Tutaekuri at the bridge in Pukatapu usually looks like this:

Whereas the last few days it has looked like this:

The people of Northland in particular are used to flooding as you can see from a recent post by Pauline at The Paddock.

It looks from the forecast as though we might have good weather for the Croquet Tournament which starts on Saturday at our Club.   That will be good.

So today I am just very thankful for some nice weather.  Pleasures don't come much more simple than that.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

The Swimming Pool: Finished

Looking out over the pool with the spa in the bottom right
The new deck and the 'front door'

Wibbeling Wednesday

Seeing as I shall have to be happy tomorrow for Thankful Thursday I have decided to be miserable today and have a good wibble.  Why do I feel the need to wibble?  Not sure.  It's a combination of things.  

It's still raining and it's cold.  That's 47 hours of constant, mostly heavy to very heavy, rain.

A lot of irritating things happened yesterday but I can only recall one of them.  This demonstrates that either a) I don't sweat the small stuff and that they were all small stuff or b) I have an appalling memory or c) that both of those things are true.

The thing I can still recall is that Air New Zealand with whom I always travel between here and the UK without even considering the fares of alternative carriers, has upset me by letting me down.  Whether the (long and boring saga I will omit) situation can be resolved before I leave here on the 1 May remains to be seen.  My upsettance is partly the irritation of what's happened but it's also the feeling of being let down by a trusted friend whom I have supported unconditionally.

In my nightmare last night I was in a very unpleasant war situation with atrocities happening around me.  I can't recall any details just that it left me feeling drained when I woke.  A friend asked me this morning (by coincidence) if I ever had pleasant dreams.  Unfortunately the answer is, so far as I can recall, in the negative.  They are all varying degrees of unpleasantness.

Oh.  Yes.  I knew there was something else.  I've got face-ache.

But, hey, wotthehellarchiewotthehell, it's time for a coffee, two squares of mint chocolate and a crossword.  Life's ok and it's Thankful Thursday tomorrow.

Dancing in Emerson Street

So much goes on on Art Deco Weekend and I may come back to it because I have lots left to post upon but for the time being I will leave the topic with a few scenes of the crowds there and some dancing in Emerson Street away from the crowds.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

A Napier Taxi

As those who have followed this blog for any length of time over a year will know Art Deco Weekend is of great interest to me because of the Veteran cars that attend.  In fact they are, I think, one of the principal attractions of the weekend.  New Zealand has a huge number of such vehicles.  Vehicles in general tend to last a lot longer here anyway because there is no salt used on the roads.  In fact I was offered a Morris 10 vintage about 1948 a few years ago which was being used on an everyday basis by its owner at that time and was in superb condition.  Many of the more interesting vehicles have apeared on this blog at one time or another but this year there were a few new ones of interest.  In particular there was a Napier Taxi.  Not, I would add, a taxi used in Napier but a taxi made by the D. Napier & Son Limited.  The company had a very rich history and, in fact, was a British engine and pre-Great War (the "brass era") automobile manufacturer and one of the most important aircraft engine manufacturers in the early to mid-20th century. Their post-First World War Lion was the most powerful engine in the world for some time in the 1920s.  Their Wikipedia entry is worth a read and even the most enthusiastic veteran car enthusiast will probably be at least a little surprised.

This particular vehicle was manufactured in England in 1910 and has a 2.7 litre 4 cylinder engine.  It started life as a London Taxicab before being shipped to Marton in 1914 where it was a taxi until about 1920 when it was abandoned on a farm.  Rediscovered in 1971 it was bought by its present owners (Paul and Bev Hicks of Warkworth) in 1990 and restored for their daughter's wedding in 2010.

Monday, 19 March 2012

I Don't Believe It

I have dozens of half finished posts spread out over the last year or so, perhaps longer.  Every now and then I go into Posts>Drafts and haul them out, look at them, use the odd thought and close them again.  I last did that a day or two ago.  I have, somewhere a half-written post I was just going to finish but when I went in to Posts all there is is All.  The other filters have gone.  Excuse my French but Le Blogger m'a vraiment pissé outre du de premier rang cette fois.

Blog Comments

I've been here before in my post on 24 February How Big is Your Blogland?  That post wasn't specifically about comments but out of it arose the fact that on certain blogs which don't use embedded comments or have templates which allow it, comments cannot be followed by subscribing to emails.  I have no idea what the critera are because quite a lot of blogs still permit embedded comments.  I know that most people don't follow up on comments and some are not interested in other people's comments.  Apart from the 'I was here' comments made on the weekly posts like the Friday Shoot Out I am interested in the comments and in following what some of my Blogland friends say in reply to my comments.  Unfortunately some of the most interesting fall into the 'can't follow' category.  This means that if I wish to follow up I have to go into their blogs and re-trace all the posts in which I was particularly interested.  Especially as some people have a habit of posing questions in response to comments.  I do hope the problem is solved soon.

Warbirds 4

Last night I was watching The Politically Incorrect Guide to Grown-ups with Nigel Latta on TVNZ One whilst I was footling around doing other things at the same time - principally eating dinner and attempting a crossword. Suddenly my brain processed the fact that he was up in a jet plane which was very familiar to me.  In fact ever since Art Deco Weekend I had been trying to work out what the plane which I'd seen at the airport display was.  It was the only one I hadn't identified.  And there was Nigel flying around in it.  It is absolutely unmistakable but it had no call-sign on it which is the easiest way to identify an aircraft.  What was he saying?  Well the bit I recall best was that when he got in there was a notice in front of him stating something like "This plane does not meet current New Zealand aviation safety standards".  He then went on to describe the procedure for getting out in the event that the pilot lost control or the plane went on fire (the ejector seats had been removed).  Basically it seemed to amount to forget it: perish.  Anyway he did obligingly mention that it was a Czechoslovakian (remember that country?) Aero L-39 Albatros.  Whoopee.  So here it is parked a few yards away from me at Napier/Hastings Airport.  Isn't she a beauty?

Just for the record she consumes about 400 gals/US of fuel an hour at take-off. 

Sunday, 18 March 2012

All Because of The Gizzies

It started because of the Gizzies (properly known in NZ as Gisborne Cockroaches) and went on from there to become a major undertaking in which not a single thing in The Cottage remained unaffected. Everyone does the tops of the kitchen cupboards at some time in their life but I've even cleaned all the light units and behind all the pictures and moved every single item of furniture (except the bookcase which, because of the possibility of earthquakes, is anchored to the wall). I've rearranged things like tv and hifi wires which I should have sorted several years ago. For someone who doesn't mind ironing, and therefore starts from a position of being sad, I have taken sad to a whole new level!

So what is the connection with Gizzies? Well Gizzies live outside in wood and are not interested in the food that we humans eat so leave us alone.  Except that when it gets cold they start looking for nice warm places to nest and a nice new cottage with lots of insulation and natty little crevices under the roof of the deck and which is built on stilts with a massive natural cavity underneath is ideal.  It's been very cold of late by Hawkes Bay standards and the Gizzies are moving in.  The Cottage is treated so they die pretty quickly when they do enter the living space.  Nevertheless I've just re-treated the whole place to hasten their demise.

Of course one of the by-products of all this activity has been a clear-up of the study and the disposal of lots of old bank-statement and telephone accounts etc from pre-on-line days.  I also found lots of papers and lists and reminders-to-do-things that I didn't even realise were on my desk and the careful piles on the study floor.

Now as it happens whilst I was doing all this I discovered that I was not alone.  Katherine wrote a splendidly humorous post entitled Messy Pup which you really must visit and a friend commented on Facebook "Word of warning. All those piles of papers teatering on the edge of a kitchen surface, dining room dresser, office shelf, book case, bedside table, laundry room surface or porch window sill leave them where they are. Don't do what I had been meaning to do for nearly two years and tidy them away. Can't find what I'm looking for now. In some of those piles were papers that I needed and always knew where I could lay my hands on them at a moments notice. I may have cursed their very existence every time they may an unscheduled avalanche across the kitchen when friends visited or as I ran from the house on a school run fluttering liked autumn leaves in front of the puppy who thought it was so wonderful game. DON'T file them away especially when you haven't a tried a tested filing system. Raging like a bull. Need to find those papers."

So why am I telling you all this? Well the answer is simple. If I don't, then no one in the world will realise what I have been up to the last few days except me....... and I'm not interested.

Friday, 16 March 2012

There's a Big World Out There

Sitting on a driftwood log on the shore at Napier's Marine Parade on Art Deco Weekend Sunday looking across the Bay at Cape Kidnappers.  The un-beachlike dress is due to the fact that many people dress up in 1930s clothes during Art Deco Week and particularly on the Sunday.

Thankful Thursday

It's been an odd sort of a day.  Busy.  I've not spent much time in Blogland.  The sun shone which shouldn't be notable in Hawkes Bay but this year it is worth a mention.  It was warm.  But what made it odd for me was thinking.  I kept thinking about people.  I kept thinking about friends who are not so well.  Friends who would love to be really busy and out and about but who are not always able to fulfill those desires because their bodies won't let them.  I was thinking about a friend to whom I was once engaged (she proposed on a 29 February when I was in California and she was in England) and who has recently undergone very radical surgery to remove a tumour.   In fact I was thinking about lots of people today.  You get days like that don't you?  Don't misunderstand I was not morose.  Indeed I was very happy for some friends even if it was because their situation is not as bad as it could be.  I can never stop playing the Glad Game.

All that thinking made me realise how fortunate I am to be able to do all that I do and to have the friends that I have.  In particular - and I was reminded of this by a recent exchange on Meike's (aka Librarian) blog From My Mental  Library about the wearing of nail varnish - with my friends who keep me young.  In particular today I am singling out Friend Who Knows Too Much and her daughters who, for my 60th birthday, insisted on the following being done just before I went to my Birthday Party which had been arranged by Friend Whom I'd Trust With My Life and others with lots of people from all over surprising me by appearing.

And the following was:

I don't know what happened to the photo of my other hand but every nail was a different colour.  What was really amusing on the night was that it took 20 minutes into the party before anyone noticed.  The next day friends from Glasgow were taking me out to lunch at the Caberfiedh Hotel in Stornoway and insisted that I removed the offending colouration before I went out.  Their reaction when they realised I hadn't removed the colour from one of my pinkies (little fingers) was quite robust!

Then to top it all I opened an email from a croquet friend late this evening saying "Have just had a great day. and wish to share with you, Am sending a basket full of happy things.   Enjoy."  How uplifting was that?

So tonight I am thankful for friends who keep me young (even if my Brother has pointed out that I'll soon be pushing 70).

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

A Fly

I have yet to post my final post for the year on the monarch Butterfly but I can guarantee that all, or at least most, of you will be delighted by the beauty of the butterfly.  Most of you may not, however, share the same view of this 13mm long fly.  Apart from the fact that it is from the order of Diptera (true flies are insects of the order Diptera - from the Greek di = two, and ptera = wings) I can tell you nothing about her.  I'm assuming (big leap here) that it's a she because I assume that the two little 'tails' are in fact oviposter.  I may be wrong.  Presumably someone with more knowledge will correct me if I am.  The Diptera include files, mosquitos, gnats, midges, and no-see-ums. There are about 120000 known species of true flies alive today.

Would you believe it if

I told you where this photo was taken?

Or this one.

I wonder.

There is a significant clue.  I'm not asking for the name of the beach by the way although some of you will know at least one of the two.