Books Read 2020

Saturday, 30 November 2019

Black Friday


I hope all you folk in the United States have had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.  I celebrated this with you all last year, as I was staying with my daughter in Arizona at the time.  A great day for family, and marvelous to have a day set aside to be thankful for all your blessings.

I missed being with her and her husband this year.  Last year was so awesome - it is a pity I cannot join them every year like this.


Thanksgiving preparations 2018

Thanksgiving dinner 2018


The next day, I know, is Black Friday with all its sales and then I believe that is followed with Cyber Monday and more sales.  What I take exception to is our retailers grabbing hold of the Black Friday idea and trying to promote sales. 

We don’t have Thanksgiving, or Cyber Monday, and we are not American.  Why then, have we had all these advertisements all week for “Black Friday Week?”

I am sure a lot of New Zealanders, especially older ones, have no idea at all what the retailers are talking about.  When I was growing up, a black Friday was Friday the Thirteenth with all its attendant superstitions.  And yesterday was the 29th November, not the 13th.

When I sit down and think about it, this “week” of sales with the label of “black Friday” is just another grab by retailers to try and convince people to spend more.  It is not like any of the sale prices they offer are even anything fantastic, being just normal sales items and the usual sales prices.  Who do they think they are kidding?   

Not that anything I say or do will change anything.  Our local businesses have now added a different reason to deck themselves out, fitting it in between the (recent to this country) celebration of Halloween and the coming celebration of Christmas and the holiday season. 

I wonder what the next retail bandwagon will be?

Don’t be fooled by advertising!
Margaret.

Friday, 29 November 2019

Zumba And Thunder

Well maybe zumba and thunder don't rhyme exactly, but they do sort of!

This morning I attended my first aqua-zumba class at the local swimming pool.  A bit nerve-wracking as I didn't know what to expect, but it turned out a lot of fun.

Fortyfive minutes of "dancing" in the water to upbeat music with an instructor showing us the moves.  No way could I keep up with her, and half the moves I am sure I got wrong, but at least I was moving and it was fun.  I felt good afterwards.

These roses were photographed at the Te Awamutu Rose Garden

Then, this afternoon, I headed a little south of Hamilton to visit my cousin at Ohaupo.  What a lovely way to spend an afternoon, chatting and laughing and catching up on all the family gossip.

As I was leaving the wind suddenly picked up rather violently and we could see rain heading our way.  I drove right into it!  Thunder and lightning and heavy heavy rain.

A couple of large puddles later, and I am sure the underneath of my car has now lost all the dust it collected on my recent trip up north.  The top of the car was washed by grand-daughter and her friend last night - so my little Missy is now all clean and sparkling!

Time to go make myself some dinner,
Take care everyone,
Margaret.

Thursday, 28 November 2019

The Bay Of Islands


After a restless night at my accommodation in Awanui, in Northland, I left early in the morning and headed down the east coast to the Bay of Islands.  I had to call in to see the Mangonui Wharf as I had heard so much about it and its fish-and-chips shop. 

The fish shop is on the right of the picture

Unfortunately the shop was not due to open for another two hours and I could not wait that long.  A sign outside advertised that they sold “king prawns, kina tubs, Mangonui chowder, Pacific oysters, hot coffee and cold beer, raw fish salad, smoked fish, marinated mussels, calamari, and kid’s meals.”  It sounded like a great place to buy fresh kaimoana (food from the sea).


I eventually arrived at Kerikeri, a place I had not visited since being on honeymoon fortysix years ago.  I had thought to visit the model Maori Village there, but it too was closed.

The gateway entrance to the Maori village

Across the river from me (accessed by a footbridge) was the historic Stone Store and Kemp House, part of the Mission Station that was established here in 1819.

The Mission Station at Kerikeri

The Stone Store was built in 1832 and has served as a warehouse, trading post, library, army barracks, boys’ school, and general store (not all at the same time!).  Today it operates as a gift and souvenir shop.

The Georgian-style Stone Store

On the outskirts of Paihia is found the Raruru Falls, a five metre high waterfall on the Waitangi River.  I was lucky to find a car park as the place was busy with tourists and families.  There were many people swimming in the rock pools above the falls, and the rest of us were busy taking photographs!

Raruru Falls near Paihia

A visit to Waitangi was another must, and I went there next.  The Treaty of Waitangi was signed here in 1840 between English colonists and Maori chiefs, and is regarded as our nation’s founding document.  A lot of controversy still surrounds this Treaty, and I was pleased to see that the Museum presented both sides of the history in a fairly unbiased manner.

The flagpole on the large sweep of lawn

The building now known as the Treaty House was built around 1833 as a home for the governor James Busby and his family.  It is one of New Zealand’s oldest surviving buildings.

Waitangi Treaty House

Beautiful cottage gardens have been established around the outside of the house, including fruit trees and grape vines.  So very different from when I last visited and the house was a lonely lifeless building that smelt musty and echoed badly.  The restoration of house and garden is great to see.

Part of the cottage garden surrounding the Treaty House

Close by the Treaty House is a Maori Meeting House, built in 1940 to celebrate 100 years since the Treaty was signed.  Together the two buildings are meant to symbolise partnership between the British Crown and the Maori people.  The house itself reflects the stories and carving styles of different tribes around New Zealand, and, after removing my shoes, I had a quick look inside.

Carvings and woven panels inside the Meeting House

The evening was calm and warm and perfect for an evening stroll.  I wandered down from my motel to downtown Paihia and drank in the atmosphere.  There were a lot of people around, patronising one of many different eateries or doing some souvenir shopping.  I thought this statue of a swordfish beside the wharf was rather appropriate, as a lot of deep sea fishing excursions begin here.

Swordfish statue on Paihia Wharf

Paihia had a lovely holiday atmosphere, and one day I hope I can return and explore it further.

Bye for now,
Margaret.

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Blooms In November

A photo shoot posting today.  These are flowers that I have seen blooming in November.  

Roses

Nasturtiums

Flag Iris
(Photo used by permission)

Waterlily

Phormium tenax (flax)

Geranium

Rhodohypoxis

Calla Lily

Lily

Liriodendron

I hope you enjoyed them :)

Margaret.

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Where The Spirits Head Home


At the farthermost top point of the North Island is found Cape Reinga, known for both its iconic lighthouse and as the departure point for the spirits of the dead.   Maori have long believed that the spirits of the dead pass by here on their long journey back to their Pacific homeland of Hawaiki, this being the point where they plunge into the sea and enter the underworld.



There were no “whisperings of the dead passing by” when I visited, only a howling gale-force wind that threatened to blow one off the long steep path leading down to the lighthouse.
From the top of the path could be seen Cape Maria van Diemen, the westernmost point of the North Island and named by Abel Tasman when he visited here in 1643.



The waters off to the west of Cape Reinga’s lighthouse are rough and turbulent as they mark the spot where the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea collide with each other.  The whirlpools that are created were believed to be the coming together of male and female and symbolised the continuation of life.




The multi-directional signpost here points to many places, including its compatriot at Bluff, 1452 km (784 miles) away, at the farthermost bottom point of the South Island.




Leaving Cape Reinga behind, I left the main tar-sealed road and headed along the first of many dusty corrugated gravel roads I explored in the area.  My poor little car (I have a Suzuki Swift named Missy) did extremely well but had to suffer the indignity of becoming camouflaged with a thick layer of dust.

The side trips were worth it though as the roads often ended in isolated picturesque beaches.  Only occasionally on my following dead-end roads did I end up in real “dead ends” that lead nowhere and had nothing to show, places where one could only turn around and retrace the journey just taken.

There was not a person in sight anywhere when I arrived at Tapotupotu Bay with its hot white sands and brilliant blue seas.




I had been told I must visit the Te Paki sand dunes, and was glad that I did.  These 150 metre high hills of fine golden sand cover a coastal strip about 10km long by 1km wide.   


There was no direct pathway to the dunes and I (and others!) wandered around for a while getting lost in the tall vegetation, before learning that access to the dunes is by wading across the shallow Te Paki stream.


A lot of people come here specifically to go sandboarding.  Boards are available for hire to anyone keen enough to climb the hills and slide all the way back down again – lots of laughter and lots of sand in your clothes, but lots of fun as well.  I made it onto the dunes but I never climbed all the way up, and I never did the sandboard thing either!


I use automatic exposure on my camera, and neither of these photos really show how golden the sand truly was.


I never took the long walk down to Spirits Bay either, electing instead to sit in the shade and eat my lunch beside the river that flowed into the bay.  There is a camping ground here, operated by the Department of Conservation, and a few campsites had already been occupied by those wishing to beat the summer holiday rush.  The whole area felt laid back and relaxed, like those lazy hazy days of summer one hears about.


Rarawa Beach was another definite “must-do” on my list.  It is the nearest public access to the Te Kokota sandspit, one of the world’s purest deposits of white silica sand.  The beach was certainly a dazzling white in the sunshine, but closer inspection showed the sand to be more of an off-white colour than pure white.




My last stop for the day was at Ninety Mile Beach, which is really only about 55 miles (88km) long. Tour buses drive along the beach during low tide times making their way to and from Cape Reinga.
The wind whipped up the fine sand and stung my bare legs, but I got a cheerful blast on the horn and a wave from the tour bus passengers as they sped by.




Then it was back to Kaitaia to refuel Missy and feed me, followed by an early night to sleep off an overwhelming feeling of pleasant exhaustion.  It had been a great day.

Margaret.

Sunday, 24 November 2019

Enjoying My Road Trip North


I have now completed Day Four of my roadtrip up north.  The weather has been absolutely gorgeous – apart from wind, which I think occurs up here quite a lot of the time! 
Every day has been full of travelling and I have driven over 1000km so far.  Tonight I am staying in Paihia in the Bay of Islands.  The following photos are from Thursday and Friday, and cover my journey as far as Kaitaia.

I never felt on "holiday" until I cleared the horrendous traffic at Auckland.  


Mangawhai Heads, north of Auckland

I followed the coastline most of the time.  This river was in Waipu, a town settled by Scottish immigrants, and walking along its banks made a great break from driving.

Walking beside the Waipu River in Waipu village

I loved Ruakaka Beach with its beautiful white sands, and even went for a paddle - the water was icy cold!

Ruakaka Beach, near Whangarei

Before arriving in Whangarei I visited the Marsden Oil Refinery visitor's centre.  It was most interesting to discover what can be done with crude oil, from sulphur fertilizer to diesel.  I thought they just made petrol!

A model of part of the oil refinery at Marsden

I would not normally post pictures of a toilet, but this public facility in Kawakawa is famous for being the only building in the Southern Hemisphere designed by the famous Austrian-born architect,  Friedensreich Hundertwasser.  Bus loads of tourists stop here, and I sneaked my visit in between two such buses.  It is such an interesting place that I will probably do a special post about it at some stage.

Hundertwasser toilets in Kawakawa

I have passed several hotels of this style, many rebranding themselves to cater for the current traveler.  This one offered single-room accommodation for a night to several weeks at a very affordable rate.

The Ohaeawai Hotel, built in 1895

My visit to Te Waimate Mission House was also very interesting - probably another post at some time!

Te Waimate Mission House, Waimate North

I stopped at a rest area when crossing the Mangamuka Hill and photographed this stream.

Mangamuka stream

I decided to do a little exploring of the Karikari Peninsular, driving on the first of many gravel roads I have covered this trip.

Matai Bay, Karikari Peninsular

The ocean beach looked spectacular but it was a long trek downwards to reach and I opted out, feeling too tired and hot to be bothered with climbing all the way back up again.

Karikari ocean beach

Leaving the Peninsular, I headed into Kaitaia and out the other side to visit Ahipara.  I was hoping to see a bit of Ninety Mile Beach but beach access was very limited and the place was a bit disappointing to me.

Ahipara beach, near Kaitaia

And, finally, look who has come to visit me in my motel room this evening.

A very content motel cat

Cheers everybody,
Margaret.

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Wanderlust



Wanderlust:  an overwhelming desire to travel!

The last few days I have been feeling more and more unsettled and woke up this morning thinking it was time I did a trip I have been semi-planning for some time.

The weather forecast for the coming week is for fairly fine weather, so I am hitting the road tomorrow and heading north for a few days.

Hopefully the places I stay will have good internet connection so I can keep posting.  If I am quiet, you will know I am offline!

Have a great day :)
Margaret.

Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Portion Control


Beautiful Lake Ianthe is on the West Coast of the South Island


This is the next step in my Makeover Plan.  I wanted to come up with a guideline for controlling food portions, so I have been looking at English wartime rationing, researching online information (especially helpful were the NZ Heart Foundation’s portion control information, and Harvard University’s Healthy Eating Plate webpage), food pyramids from previous decades (there have been several), and considering my own personal preferences. 

What I ended up with was a list of portion controls that I thought might work for me, but then during the last 24 hours I have read two things that have really had me thinking.

The first was, in effect, that nothing in your life will change unless you change what you are doing.  The second was David’s comment on yesterday’s post about eating meals containing three vegetables and a fruit.   It left me wondering what it would be like to base three meals a day on three vegetables and one fruit.  Being the quixotic creature that I am, I am going to give this a go.

This is what I think it would look like for each meal:
o   Base the meal on three different non-starchy vegetables (or sprouts) – quantity at least enough to fill two cupped hands
o   Add one serving of fruit – an average apple/orange/banana etc., or a daily maximum of 1 Tbsp. of dried fruit
o   One serve of a protein (meat, nuts, eggs, fish, cheese etc.,) – daily maximums to be the palm of one hand for meat, the whole hand for white fish, ½ cup of nuts, 2 eggs, or 50g of cheese
o   One serve of carbohydrate (wholemeal bread/toast/pasta, rice, potato, oatmeal, legumes, scone etc.) – total combined maximum meal amount, the size of one fist
o   Add natural flavourings as desired – herbs, spices, salt, apple cider vinegar, cold pressed oil, seeds etc.

Each meal would be different so that a wide variety could be eaten, and the fruit and vegetables could be raw or cooked.  Snacks are to be avoided, but if there is a real need for something then have a piece of fruit or (if really desperate!) one snack-pack of raisins, eating them one at a time.

Basically, the above cuts out the following:
o   All processed meat and processed food products
o   Artificial sweeteners, flavourings, colours and preservatives
o   Refined sugars – white, brown, syrup
o   Dairy milk (which I do not tolerate well)
o   All takeaways and deep fried foods
o   Refined flour products like pasta, bread, baked goods etc.

The whole idea of eating this way actually makes me feel very excited – perhaps it is the Universe nudging me in that direction?  It is, I feel, a fairly simple easy-to-follow guide:  it is totally different to how I have been eating, meal preparation should be relatively simple, it offers variety ad infinitum, and it will hopefully be easy enough to adapt when dining out – it really ticks all the boxes!

Margaret

Monday, 18 November 2019

Food Intake


This is Step Four of my Makeover Plan.  I need to sort out the types of food I am going to eat. 


A salad to enjoy


There is a lot of “advice” around on what makes a nutritional diet, but so much of it is contradictory that it gets very confusing to sort out.  Even the standard “low-fat” advice is now being questioned, at the same time as we seem to be tipping headfirst into a “sugar is evil” trend.  Will that advice change in ten years, back to what it used to be decades ago (that we should have some sugar in our diet)?

I have been giving this subject some deep thought (my brain hurts!) and these are some of my conclusions:

o   We are all different and different things suit different people, so what is it that suits me?
o   I don’t believe in cutting out whole food groups.  There are good fats, good sugars, even good salts, that we should be eating.  It is the “bad” ones we need to avoid.
o   I love food!  Food adds immensely to my enjoyment of living so I do not want to become paranoid about what I eat.
o   The one thing nutritionists appear to agree upon is that overly refined and processed foods are not good for us.
o   I am inclined to lean towards the “a little bit of what you love is good for you” – as long as it is only a little bit and not too often! 
o   Eat a wide variety of different foodstuffs, cooking from scratch whenever possible.
o   Always be thankful for the food you eat.


Summer fruit


I’ve made pages of notes about my thoughts on this subject, slept on it several times, looked again through several of the books I own, carefully considered how I react to certain foods, and I seem to have come to an answer:

o   Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, preferably seasonal
o   Eat meat 3-5 times a week
o   Eat seafood 1-2 times a week, including oily fish once a week
o   Eat eggs, but minimize my intake of dairy (milk, cheese)
o   Have a controlled portion of carbohydrates with every meal
o   Include good fats in my diet, but limit the amount used
o   Drink plenty of pure water
o   Only drink alcohol when eating food, and then limit the amount
o   Avoid artificial sweeteners, colourings, flavourings and preservatives
o   Limit intake of refined foods like sugar and white flour
o   Allow self to “cheat” on special occasions


Roast beef


My next step is Portion Control, and then I should have a good set of guidelines I can follow.

For nearly a week now I have had no ice-cream for dessert in the evening and I am sleeping much better – who would think that there could be a connection between those two?

Margaret.