Books Read 2020

Thursday, 30 April 2020

Indian Char Bagh Garden


Today, let’s take a quick (virtual) walk through the Indian Char Bagh Garden, one of the themed gardens in the Hamilton Gardens complex.


The char bagh, or four-quartered, garden was the original Paradise Garden, a secret poetic pleasure garden often built alongside city riverbanks by early Mughal rulers and, later, the Hindu aristocracy.

They reached the peak of their popularity during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.


The ever-changing carpet of flowers gave pleasure with their colour and scent.


An open-sided pavilion provided both shade and pleasant breezes in which to escape the hot sun.


The tinkle of water was a soothing cooling sound, represented here by a bubble fountain within the pavilion.


The pavilion in this garden overlooks our own city river, the Waikato River.


We are now into the third day of lowered restrictions on our movements, but so far it has had little impact on myself apart from grand-daughter now being able to visit her mother for a couple of days.

The general message is to still stay at home unless you need essentials or are going to work.  Most workplaces are now operating, with the exception of close-contact businesses like the hospitality industry (although fast-food places are allowed to sell via delivery or drive-through).

Not having any great desire for takeaway food, son and I are carrying on at home here the same as we have now for the last several weeks.  I’m beginning to get used to it!


Have a great day J
Margaret.




Monday, 27 April 2020

Crystal Rainbows


At 11.59pm tonight we will move out of the very restrictive Level 4 lock-down into the restrictive Level 3 lock-down.   This will allow many people to return to work (under strict conditions), but for myself it will make little difference.

We are to stay in Level 3 for two weeks and then hopefully reduce to Level 2, at which stage I will be ready to head out to the shops again!

This morning, on the spur of the moment, I decided to change my bedroom around.  I didn’t quite get it finished but am happy with the results so far. 


The day began with heavy fog but that cleared off mid-morning and we had a beautiful sunny day to enjoy.  I have a large crystal “star” (for lack of a better word) that I placed on the windowsill and it filled my room with rainbows.


Now we have a few flowers growing in the garden, I thought it might be nice to pick some occasionally – so today I cut a stem of stock to prettify my bedroom a little.


It was good moving things around – I found several Dust Bunnies (those little balls of fluff that accumulate in dark corners) and a couple of Hiding Spiders, so they have both been dealt with now.


All in all, it has been quite a successful day J
Margaret.




Sunday, 26 April 2020

The Company Of Birds


Birds have kept me company through some of the darkest moments in my life.  Whenever I have been feeling lost or overwhelmed by life, there have always been birds to comfort me. 

Often they come and sit nearby and just watch me, other times they will sing, and sometimes they will fly around me to let me know they are present.  My spirits are always lifted by these special encounters.

BLACKBIRD

I am not a birder (how could I be when I also love cats?) but I feel an affinity with wild birds that is hard to define.

I was thinking these thoughts this morning as I sat out in the early morning sunshine and listened to the magpies chortling in the trees.  Away in the distance there were geese honking, presumably Canada geese.

It got me thinking about the birds we have seen and/or heard from home here, during the last five weeks of lock-down.  So I made a list J


JUVENILE PHEASANT

BIRDS SEEN (and maybe heard) – sparrow, blackbird, thrush, welcome swallow, goldfinch, magpie, plover, hawk, fantail, pigeon, mynah

BIRDS HEARD (not seen) – peacock, kingfisher, geese, bellbird, pheasant, Californian quail, tui

PEACOCK

I haven’t photographed any of them – I haven’t even tried (these photos are all out of my archives) – but I have appreciated the presence of each and every one of them.

They are a symbol that nature and life continues on, regardless of what we presently face in our own lives.  They bring joy and peace into my life, and give me hope of a better future.

Have an enjoyable day J
Margaret.

Saturday, 25 April 2020

ANZAC Day


The 25th April is a special day for New Zealand and Australia, when we officially remember our Armed Forces and the sacrifices they have made for our two countries.

Normally services are held at dawn and again during the morning, but this year we have Covid-19 restrictions so a special Stand At Dawn virtual service was used instead.  People were invited to stand at their gateways at dawn and pause for a minute’s silence to remember those who have fallen.


My mother used to make wreaths for the local Anzac service (she made the one in this photo).  My father was a Returned Serviceman, as was his father and several other family members.

World War II - my father and his sister

On this day I like to remember members of my family (there have been several) who have served their country in the Armed Forces, and also to thank those who are currently serving.   

World War I - one of my grandfathers

We shall remember them.
Margaret.


I should perhaps make an explanation about what ANZAC Day is:  It is a national day of remembrance for both New Zealand and Australia - ANZAC stands for "Australia New Zealand Army Corps."  The ANZACs served in World War One, but the day commemorates all servicemen and women in both of our countries.

Friday, 24 April 2020

The Dreaded Sniffles




Oh no!  How did that happen?  How does one get The Sniffles in lock-down?

It began with A Sneeze and quickly turned to successive sneezes, bunged nose, gritty weepy eyes, a cough and headache, and a bit of chest discomfit.


A perfectly Normal Cold to go with the change of seasons and usually I wouldn’t think very much of it.  But it has been five weeks since I last set foot off our property.  I’ve not even been for a walk down the street, and both son and grand-daughter are healthy.

  
So how did I “catch” this thing?

Not that it matters, really.  Having a cold is quite common, yet somehow it now makes me feel slightly guilty, like I have been doing something dreadfully wrong.



I know that if I was out in the community people would be looking askance at me – probably cross the road even! – whereas before nobody would have taken any notice.

How times change.


Today my Sniffles are much improved and I went for a short wander around the garden and photographed these flowers.  Colour cheers up even the dullest of days.


Be happy J
Margaret.




Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Homesick For The Beach


I feel I am beginning to be homesick for the beach.  It was the end of last year when I last visited a beach and I am really beginning to feel it. 

I blame my great great grandfather for this – he was a sea captain and I think he left some of his love for the high seas in my blood J

So, what is it I love about the beach?

There are two sounds I always associate with the ocean.  One is the crashing of waves, and the other is the loud haunting call of the Southern Black-Backed Gull (Larus dominicanus).


Walking in bare feet along the beach on a warm summer day is a sensual experience to enjoy.


So is standing on the edge of the ocean feeling the cool splash of waves playing over your feet – as long as you avoid the bigger waves, which can result in wet clothes if you’re not careful!


Beach-combing as you wander along the sand is great fun, finding pebbles, shells, seaweed, sea-glass and other bits and pieces.


Sometimes I like to just sit on the beach and watch other people enjoying themselves.


Standing on the edge of the sea and taking a deep breath of fresh salty air clears the lungs and wakens the senses.


Not all of our beaches are sandy.  Many are pebbled and some are rocky, but they all bring me happiness.


I’m already making plans for a beach visit when we are allowed to travel again.


Keep smiling J
Margaret.


Tuesday, 21 April 2020

An Important Announcement


It must have been a new record yesterday afternoon, as virtually the whole country stopped to watch the Prime Minister’s Covid-19 announcement on TV. 

Government’s pandemic response covers four different levels.  We have been at level four for four weeks and it was announced we will remain at that for another week before dropping to level three for two weeks, when the situation will again be reviewed.

Each new day brings with it hope for something better

I have no contention with being in lock-down if it helps save lives.  What I have trouble understanding is why we don’t do it for other contagious diseases, viral or otherwise.  What makes this disease different?

Each year, in New Zealand alone, between 400 and 600 people die of influenza – and this is WITH vaccines.  Over the last three years we have averaged 365 road accident deaths a year, which is one a day.  We are used to these statistics and accept them as part of our daily life.

Knowing that our planet has never managed to totally eradicate ANY disease that humanity has faced (many are controlled but still exist and still kill people), it makes me wonder if, within a few decades, we will accept this virus as part of normal life.

What do you think?


Stay safe,
Margaret.


22 APRIL 2020:

THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR COMMENTS.  I REALLY APPRECIATE EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THEM. 
THE WORLD HAS BECOME A DIFFERENT PLACE TO WHAT IT WAS SIX MONTHS AGO, AND I FEEL  IT WILL TAKE THE HINDSIGHT OF HISTORY TO FULLY UNDERSTAND WHAT WE ARE NOW EXPERIENCING.  
IN THE MEANTIME, KEEP SAFE AND STAY WELL.  
HUGZ, Mxx

Sunday, 19 April 2020

Autumn


Autumn is my favourite season, only this year I must stay at home and I feel I am missing out on it completely.  So I thought a look for some photos in my archives might remind me what autumn was all about.

Firstly, there is the glorious colour of the trees as they prepare themselves for winter hibernation.  These beautiful trees are Aspens in Arizona, but you get the idea.


Harvest is another great aspect of autumn.  These Queensland Blue iron-bark pumpkins have very tough skins.  We harvested these out of our vegetable garden in 2004.


Autumn is also when the hot summer weather turns decidedly cooler, the nights grow longer, and the first dusting of snow on the mountains appears.


Once harvest is completed, the big Garden Clean-up can begin.  Shrubs are pruned, dead leaves are raked up, weeds are gathered together – and the fun of garden bonfires begins!


One of my favourite activities is walking through piles of fallen leaves.  They crunch and crackle and scatter around you, and they always seem to have that damp earthy smell about them that I typically associate with the autumn season.


Many plants have berries on them at this time of the year – these ones are the hips of a rose.


Finally, I found this painting I had done many years ago and it also reminded me of autumn – in fact, it is titled Autumn Leaves.  It was created using watercolours and fallen pin-oak leaves.


I know many readers are heading into spring with the hope of summer just ahead, but I hope you will forgive me for enjoying these last vestiges of warmth before our winter arrives.

Let us be thankful and appreciate the diversity of nature and the beauty of our different seasons J
Margaret.




Saturday, 18 April 2020

Weeds? What Weeds?


Millie's fur was so silky soft after getting wet in the rain

Our day began with heavy rain but that soon gave way to broken clouds and sunshine.



The rain was heavy enough to flood down the driveway in sheets

I was wandering around the house and wondered out loud what I could do next.  Son, so nicely, reminded me that the Little Garden needed weeding.

The Little Garden is home to sweetpeas, stock and polyanthus

Okay, I thought, I can do that.  So outside I trotted – but it was all Fake News!  He had already done it!!

Not many weeds, but the garden looked much better without them

It was good to be outside for a while though.  The little pile of weeds went to the compost and I picked some lettuce to make a salad for lunch.

A corner of the vegetable garden

Lunch was eaten watching Piha Rescue on TV, a programme about surf lifesavers rescuing swimmers who have got into difficulties.

Even locals do not always appreciate how dangerous our coastal waters can be.  Unexpected rips (strong currents) can drag people out from shore, and the large waves can sometimes be extremely unpredictable and sweep a swimmer off their feet.

The programme today was about a man who had been fishing from the rocks when a wave dragged him out to sea.  Unfortunately, he drowned.  It was very sad.


The ocean can be a dangerous place
  
The worst experience I have had was being caught in a rogue wave when out swimming.  It carried me along with it, upside down with my long hair dragging through the sand.  Thankfully it took me closer to shore and I was able to exit the water, but I have never forgotten the horror of that time.

The ocean on a calmer day, much more suited to water activities

Stay safe J
Margaret.


I have had a lot of difficulty uploading photos today, so hopefully they are all visible.  Please let me know if any have not shown up.  Thanks, Mxx



Friday, 17 April 2020

The Day Is Gone


My paternal grandparents when they married in 1921


It is amazing how fast a day can disappear when you are engrossed in a project.  Here it is, almost time to prepare dinner, and the day has simply gone.

It was raining this morning so I did what had to be done around the house and then thought I would spend just a little while on the computer. 

I have a lot of family history notes that I am trying to organize into book form.  I did stop for a bite to eat at lunchtime, but apart from that I haven’t left my computer all day. 

The day is still grey and not very inspiring, so it was probably not a bad way to spend my day – but it means nothing interesting to write about today J

I hope your day has been more interesting!
Margaret.

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Karangahake Gorge


Karangahake Gorge, lying at the southern edge of the Coromandel Peninsular, combines history and natural beauty to make a great place to visit.  A range of walking options (all free) are offered here, from short trips through to full-day hikes.


There are several access points along the gorge to the various walkways.  This swing bridge leads from one of the parking areas to join up with the walkway on the other side of the river.


The Gorge is a nationally significant gold heritage site, and once bustled with a maze of bridges, trams, water races and gold mines.  Evidence of these activities can still be found along the various trails.


There are tunnels to explore, often with glow-worms, and old railway workings to wander around.  On certain days a restored section of rail operates rides on a steam train for paying customers.

Smaller streams are often crossed by swing bridges – not my most favourite, especially if they like to “swing” or bounce around a lot!



I prefer my bridges to be more stationary, like this one.


This waterfall is almost at one end of the walkway system, and is the one most easily accessible from the road.


The drive through the Gorge allows many great river views, but unfortunately there are few places to stop safely so photos have to be of the memory-kind.

The Ohinemuri River might be pretty to look at but it can also be very wild.  Most winters it will flood, and occasionally it will rise high enough to force the road to be closed.


One day soon I am going to return to this place and have another wander around.  There is always something different to see.

Take care,
Margaret.





Wednesday, 15 April 2020

A Few Tears


Today has been a sadder day than normal, for me anyway.

It began with news that a much-loved pet had died.  Biscuit was 17 years old, a sibling of my dearest Taffy that had brought so much joy into our lives for such a short period of time in 2004.

Biscuit has passed away “peacefully underneath the grapevine” and has been laid to rest beneath some feijoa trees.

Biscuit

The weather today has been dull and grey, overcast with frequent showers and much colder than we have had it before.  We lit a fire last night, the first for the year – it was more for comfort than needing warmth, as we could have survived without it.  However, it was nice to see its cheery glow and our old cat, 15 year old Teenie, loved it.  She sprawled out in front of the fire like she was in heaven.

Teenie

Then, this afternoon, I watched Andrea Bocelli singing on Easter Sunday in Milan, Italy (look up “Andrea Bocelli: Music For Hope – Live From Duomo di Milano” on YouTube).

It brought me to tears.

Humanity is able to build great cities and huge beautiful buildings, to develop incredible cultures and make amazing discoveries and create so many inventions – yet it is brought to its knees because of a virus.

A simple disease that has inflicted all of mankind.  Nature continues on all around us, unaffected by our sorrow and our fears.  It makes me feel like our species is so insignificant yet we think we are so great.

That is why I cried.



Please be safe everyone,
Margaret xx

R.I.P. Biscuit    2003 - 2020