Tuesday 30 June 2020


There are lots of things I can be grateful for in my life – I only need to look around and recognize them.

Tuesday is my weekly shopping day and I went to our local supermarket this morning and was amazed to see how many empty shelves there were.  Even the freezers were almost completely empty.  I have no idea why, as they were full last week, but I was thankful they had everything that I wanted.

One of my purchases was a large packet of mincemeat, which I have now cooked up with lentils and vegetables and turned into two meals to be frozen.  I also bought a smoked fish (smoked trevally) that was made into fish cakes for dinner tonight – and then promptly forgot to take a photo!

Hamilton never receives snow like this that I saw on my last visit to Arizona

We have had a few light showers during the day but tomorrow is forecast to be fine and sunny – after a frost.  It might be hard to get out of bed in the morning, but I am happy that our house stays reasonably warm.

I am also thankful for our three cats as they bring a lot of companionship into my life.  I almost walked on Millie when I went down to my room as she was asleep on my sheepskin rug and I never saw her.  She is so black that she blends into the shadows and it is only her bright green eyes that show where she is.

I am grateful to live in a world full of the beauty of nature, to be able to enjoy sunsets and bird song and majestic landscapes.

Being thankful for the little things in life helps me to be more contented and at peace with the world.

I like to take time to stop and step back from all the strife happening in the world around me, and appreciate the little things that can bring happiness into my life.

Margaret J

Monday 29 June 2020

Family History : Family Pages

This is a continuation of a short series I am writing about how I am recording my family’s history.  Today I show how I record the personal details of my direct ancestors.
There are many different ways of recording information, with probably being one of the most commonly used.  I use my own system as I find that is what personally works for me.

Each family group is given a designated Family Sheet and I just fill in the sections on it.  I use an A4 page with narrow margins.
The footnote is used to create a reference to the Family Page I am producing (EDWARDS : #112 John and Mary Brown), with the first name representing the branch of family I am working with.  A page number could also be used to help keep the right notes together.

It is probably easier to show than explain the Family Sheet template I use.  I hope this is understandable!  (All the details given here are fictitious).

ID #112                                                                                                                 John and Mary BROWN
Relationship to me:  great great great great grandparents
HUSBAND                                           John Augustus BROWN
Also known as                                      Johnny
Birth date                                              Monday 20 February 1775
Birth place                                            The Manse, Alltown, Stirlingshire, Scotland
Christening                                            Sunday 27 August 1775 Alltown, Stirlingshire, Scotland
Father                                                    #224       John Bateman BROWN
Mother                                                   #224       Elizabeth BROWN nee McDONALD
Death date                                            around 1858
Death place                                          probably Falkirk, Scotland
Age at death                                         about 83 years
Cause of death                                   
Betrothal                                               engaged for three years 2 months
Marriage date                                       Saturday 28 September 1805
Marriage place                                     St Catherine’s Church, Falkirk, Scotland
Groom                                                   aged 30 years
Bride                                                      aged about 25 years
Other notes                                           married ‘after banns’
Married for                                           3 years 2 months
WIFE                                                    Mary Alberta SMITH
Also known as                                      Maisey
Birth date                                              possibly 1780
Birth place                                            possibly Larbert, Stirlingshire, Scotland
Father                                                    #225       name not known
Mother                                                   #225       name not known
Death date                                            Monday 5 December 1808
Death place                                          Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland
Age at death                                         about 28 years
Cause of death                                    probably as a result of childbirth
Interment                                              6 December 1808 Falkirk Cemetery, Falkirk, Scotland
Headstone inscription                         “In loving memory of Mary Alberta, loved wife of John BROWN, died 5 Dec 1808 in   her 29th year.  Never forgotten.”
1.             Daughter               Jannet Alberta BROWN
                Born                       christened 2 December 1806 Hereby parish, Stirlingshire, Scotland
                Died                        4 October 1811
2.             Son                         #56         Peter John BROWN
                Born                       25 November 1808 Falkirk, Stirlingshire, Scotland
                Died                        12 January 1884 Linlithgow, Scotland
                Married                  1833 Amelia Margaret FISH (1810-1893)
                Children                 1834 Peter John / 1836 Margaret Amelia / 1838 Mary Jean / 1840 Agnes /
                                                1842 Albertine (female) / 1844 #28 George Alexander / 1846 Henry Peter
o    John was a shoemaker by trade.

I also restrict how much information I gather, stopping it with the birth of the grandchildren of the couple concerned.
Always choose a system that works best for you, then enjoy it J

PART ONE of this series can be read here

Sunday 28 June 2020

A Lazy Day

I’ve had a bit of a lazy day today.  When I woke this morning it was pouring down with rain so I did the most sensible thing possible and rolled over and went back to sleep!

The showers have continued all day but it has not been too cold and we have had some sunshine.  We have even seen two beautiful full rainbows, with one of them having a bit of a shadow rainbow beside it.  It has been quite a while since I last saw a full rainbow.

Grand-daughter is away at her mother’s this weekend and son was working, so I simply pottered around and quietly cleaned up the kitchen and my room. 

I messaged with a family member who was buying a dehumidifier to help her dry clothes – driers are so expensive now, and a dehumidifier and a clothes horse work well in a closed room.

Then, this afternoon, I sat by the fire and watched our local rugby team, the Chiefs, playing the Highlanders in Christchurch.  We lost – again L

Conditions for the game were wet and cold, and steam was rising off the scrums, but I will spare you all the photos of the hot sweaty bodies in rugby shorts!

Tomorrow, I will try and be more energetic J


Saturday 27 June 2020

Dehydrating Onions

It was not a pleasant experience, standing for nearly an hour in the kitchen with tears streaming down my face – onions make me cry!

Hubby and I purchased a dehydrator not that long before he died.  We dried corn and celery, but since then it has sat in storage and lately in a cupboard.

When I found onions on special at the supermarket I decided it was time to try out the dehydrator again.

The onions were peeled and sliced into 5mm thin rings and laid out on the trays.  I didn’t need to pre-treat them in any way, which was a bonus.

I set the machine at 50 degrees Celsius, the recommended temperature for vegetables, and dried them for ten hours (turning them over after four hours). 

The house absolutely reeked of onions when I first started, but the smell lessened as they dried – or perhaps we just got used to it!

They then sat overnight before I dried them a further three hours, by which time they had become crisp and brittle enough to crumble in my fingers.

Once the onion rings were cold I bagged them up and used a heat-sealing gadget to remove all the air.

It was a bit tricky deciding on when to bag them.  I wanted them completely cold so that they wouldn’t sweat in the bag, but I also didn’t want them sitting in the open and possibly absorbing moisture from the surrounding atmosphere.  Hopefully I got the timing right.

This bag contains about 500g (one pound) of fresh onions, dehydrated and ready to use.

 I tried eating one of the rings.  It still had the pungency of onion (although not as strong) and was amazingly sweet.

It might make a good snack to chase away colds!

Margaret J

Thursday 25 June 2020


There is nothing more comforting during winter than a cosy fire in the evening, even if it is not very cold.  Looking back, it seems we have installed a log burner in almost every house we owned.

Son ordered us a load of split pine to top up our firewood reserves.  I felt a bit sorry for the delivery man as our driveway is a reverse down a shared drive then a sharp turn up a hill.  He did well to get it as far as he did.

The two guys unloaded the trailer by hand, which never took them very long and resulted in a lovely pile of firewood sitting in the drive for son to take care of.  It must have been recently split as the smell was divine!

Then the race was on to beat the weather as showers were beginning to arrive, after the last couple of days of cheerful winter sunshine.

The wood was all wheel-barrowed up beside the shed to clear the driveway.  It was rather nice to be informed that my help was not required and I could be on coffee-making duty instead.

Son then neatly stacked it beside the garage wall and a put a tarpaulin over it to keep it dry.

Next summer, he hopes to build a designated firewood storage area to keep the wood sheltered from the elements.


We have lived in this house now for ten months and are slowly getting things organized to how we like them – although it is son’s house so my “advice” is not always relevant!

There is great joy and satisfaction to be found in changing your home to how you like it J


Tuesday 23 June 2020

Mid Winter Contentment

Normally I am not a big fan of winter.  It is too cold, too wet, too dreary, and all I want to do is hibernate and wish it would go away.  This year I am trying to appreciate each season and what it has to offer, and I am finding myself quite content with my situation.
The sun rises each morning and shines in my bedroom windows to welcome me to a new day.

Droplets of heavy dew sparkle in the morning sun.  No frosts here, like Otago had this morning.  There were some beautiful pictures on the News of the hoar frost many places experienced.  It looked cold but would have made for some amazing photos!

Each time I step outside I am assailed with the heavenly scent of hyacinths.

Now it is night and we are enjoying sitting by the fire and feeling cosy and warm.  Teenie thinks we have lit the fire just for her!

Lots of things to be thankful for as we settle into winter J

Monday 22 June 2020

Family History : Getting Started

Getting started recording your family history is really easy.  You begin with your own details – when and where you were born, what schools you attended, the career you have followed, the places you have lived etc. – and then record details about your parents and their siblings, then  back to their parents and so on.

I used to keep a special notebook for recording any information I knew or found out, before entering it onto my Family Sheets (which I will talk about next week).

Once you have recorded everything you know, then you will be ready to go searching for more information.  Ask relations (especially the older ones) – perhaps there are wills or birth certificates or land ownership documents or even a family Bible that you can look at. 

Always be sensitive and respectful when asking people for information as some don’t want to talk about it and others may be concerned about their privacy.

Visit cemeteries and see what is written on headstones.  Look online at census records, electoral rolls, indexes of births deaths and marriages, cemetery records, and so on.  A lot of internet sites now ask for payment but there are still some free ones around. 

Joining a community genealogy group can sometimes open up different avenues for searching.  I got a lot of my early information through searching microfiches at our local library.

Always remember that there will be mistakes.  Not all records are correct, not everyone’s memory is perfect.  Discovering what really happened in the past is a bit like a treasure hunt, and sometimes we can only make assumptions and not know for sure.

WARNING!  Once you begin tracing back your family history it can become very addictive – and a lot of fun J


PART ONE of this series can be read here

Sunday 21 June 2020

Winter Solstice

Today has been the Shortest Day, a turning point for the year.  Traditionally our weather will now get colder and wetter, but the days will also be growing longer.

When we lived on a farm I used to enjoy winter visits from these beautiful birds.

White-faced Herons are often locally called Blue Herons because of their bluish colouration.  They are an Australian species and first arrived in New Zealand during the 1940s.

This one decided it had had enough of its photo-shoot and was making a dignified exit.

Enjoy your weekend J


Saturday 20 June 2020

Law And Order

New Zealand was rocked yesterday by the cowardly shooting of two members of the police force, one of whom has since died.  They stopped a car for a routine traffic offence, but it sped off and caused an accident. 

When the police arrived the driver stepped forward with a gun and shot at the unarmed unprotected officers.  He and his accomplice then sped away in a stolen car knocking down and seriously injuring an innocent pedestrian in the process. 

It was a relief this morning to see a man has been arrested and charged with murder (along with other things). 

My deepest sympathy goes out to the victim’s family at this distressing time.  It is never easy to lose a loved family member, but is worse when it is a needless tragedy.

Our beautiful Millie, who, like all animals, follows the Laws of Nature

Police are receiving a bad rap at the moment in different parts of the world, but they are simply people doing a job.  Their families expect them to come home again after their work shift.  And I, for one, would not like to live in the anarchy that would be created if we had no police to put a brake on crime and civil disorder.

Our societies need laws.  I know some laws are wrong or stupid, but many of them are good and seek the wellbeing of the general public.  And, if we have laws, then someone must be employed to enforce them.

I have known a few police officers over the years (I’ve known some criminals as well!) and they are no different to other groups in society – there are good ones and bad ones, just like doctors and lawyers and politicians and road workers and farmers and bus drivers and any other occupation you could name.

 “At his best, man is the noblest of all animals;  separated from law and justice he is the worst.” ~ Aristotle.


Friday 19 June 2020

It's Been A While

This morning I returned to my beloved Hamilton Gardens, for the first time in three months.  It was early in the morning but not too chilly, although it was a little misty (it was 7 degrees Celsius).

The sickly smell of rotting fruit assailed my nostrils as I drew near to this bank.  Nobody had collected the nashi pears fallen from the overhead tree, and the bank was alive with birds feasting on the bounty.

The birds were mostly blackbirds.

But there were quite a few little waxeyes (also known as silvereyes) as well.

The heavenly scent of wintersweet was much nicer than the rotting nashis!

A large patch of daphne was also spreading its heady fragrance out over the pathway.

I love the golden butter-yellow fallen leaves of the gingko tree.  Most trees around the city have now lost their leaves but this one is sheltered from the worst of the winds.

A thrush was enjoying a worm breakfast among the leaves.

I walked past this bridge as I returned to the carpark.  The sun was at just the right angle to light up the trees on the far side of the bridge, making some attractive reflections.

The remainder of my day I have spent at home, quietly pottering around doing this and that and not much of anything in particular.  

I hope your day is a happy one J  


Thursday 18 June 2020

Quarantine Questions

Disbelief.  Anger.  Fear.  Our country has been experiencing all these emotions the last couple of days with two new cases of Covid-19 being reported.  

While I feel sorry for the two ladies involved, the furore over their being able to drive from Auckland to Wellington is not really their fault.  It is inevitable that we will have cases as people return to New Zealand from overseas, but the public have trusted the government who have been adamant in stating all new arrivals undergo 14 days of strict quarantine.  

Several people have broken their quarantine rules by obtaining “compassionate leave” – nothing wrong with that, it is a very humane thing to do and the cases involved have strict conditions they are meant to follow.  

What is truly shocking though, is that those people have been able to leave quarantine facilities without any testing or checking being done to see if they have the virus or not.  

Travellers in quarantine are saying that some of them have never been tested, never even had their temperatures taken. 

A couple of people got permission and attended a funeral and then absconded, and had to be tracked down to make them return to isolation. 

A large group of people were refused entry to a funeral service, as they were under quarantine regulations still, but then they turned up at the burial.  

Those staying in the quarantine hotels are able to mingle freely – there have been birthday parties and instances of new arrivals meeting up with those about to be released after their fourteen days.

It has been a very dreary very wet day today

Over 300 contacts of the two ladies (who have tested positive) are being traced and “encouraged” to isolate themselves and be tested.  It surely should be mandatory if officialdom is serious about keeping the virus contained.  

It all makes me wonder if there is a Secret Agenda at play here.  Is it possible that community transmission is actually being sought, at the same time promoting the idea that we are actively eradicating the virus from our shores?  

Our borders cannot remain closed forever.  At some stage the virus is going to have to spread around our country, as it has done in other countries, and that thought fills many people with dread.  

The Defence Force has now been sent in to oversee quarantine measures – which seems a little extreme considering all the protocols are in place and the real issue is they are not being followed.   

As a funny aside, there is an anecdotal story of a homeless man who joined the end of a queue entering a hotel for quarantine purposes.  Fourteen days later, when asked for a forwarding address, he informed them he was homeless and didn’t have one, but he had really enjoyed his two weeks of hot baths and supplied food!  

Take care everyone J  


Wednesday 17 June 2020

Hanmer Springs

Twelve months ago I had the joyous opportunity of immersing myself in the hot mineral-rich thermal waters of Hanmer Springs at the foot of the Southern Alps.  

This popular tourist complex contains 22 different pools offering a range of activities like bubble jets, waterslides, an aquatic thrill ride, and special sulphur-rich pools for soaking in.

Hanmer Springs village

A pleasant picnic area

Entrance to the thermal spa

Vegetation in the pools area adds to the ambiance

The Waiau River, beside Hanmer Springs

Access to Hanmer Springs is over the narrow Waiau Ferry Bridge

I could do with a long soak in a thermal hot-pool right now!  It would be perfect to combat this dull winter’s day J  


LINKED TO My Corner of the World

Tuesday 16 June 2020

In My Garden

For one reason and another it has been quite a while since I wandered around our garden.   It was full of surprises!  

Tucked away in a corner was a pot I had planted hyacinths in – they were flowering!  I have never had any luck growing hyacinths before and I am sure they shouldn’t be flowering until spring, but they smell heavenly and I have moved them to a position near the back door so we can enjoy their scent more.

The Iceland poppies are still flowering and the bees were loving them.  I made a mental note that I need to do some deadheading in the near future.

There was an old tree stump in the back lawn which son has dug out – but obviously some of the rotting wood still remains as these toadstools have popped up where the stump was.

As cats do, Mittens came and joined me to see what I was doing.

The peas are finally beginning to grow.

Yellow violas brighten up this corner, growing beneath a young feijoa tree.

The autumn flowering Sasanqua Camellia is blooming – it has a faint scent but the shrubs are not healthy and son is contemplating removing them.

Not to be left out, Millie decided to come and investigate mum-in-the-garden as well.

I am glad I went for a wander around our garden on this dull winter’s day J