Monday 31 August 2020

Two New Rats


Meet Caramello and Templeton – or Mello and Timmy for short – the two little rats who have now joined our household.

Son and grand-daughter collected them during the weekend from a local lady who breeds rats.  Mello is the one on the left with the mink (silvery brown) colouring, and Timmy is black and white.  They have adapted to their new home by thoroughly exploring every inch of their cage and tentatively trying out the exercise wheel.

With our high risk of having a natural disaster (especially a major earthquake in this area), we like to keep some supplies on hand.  Mostly this is canned goods and sealed packets of rice and cereal, and today I pulled it all out of the cupboard and sorted it out.

This seems to need doing on a fairly regular basis so that we can keep things rotated correctly.  Ideally rotation would happen smoothly, but in reality it never seems to!

I saw some of these Muscari (grape hyacinths) flowering the other day.  They are such a pretty reminder of spring on its way.

I hope everyone has a great day 😊


Sunday 30 August 2020

Blame The Weather


The weather takes a lot of blame for our bad moods and grumpiness, but maybe it really does have an affect on us and how we feel.

Today we have had cloudy sunshine and a temperamental gusty wind, and I woke with a mood that matched.  I was not alone – even the cats were behaving strangely, racing around chasing each other and playing on the scratching pole like they were still kittens.

Cloudy Sunshine - a sunny day with lots of clouds

However, feeling blah didn’t last long.  By the time the household chores were completed I was ready to sit outside in the garden for a while and enjoy the sunshine.  It gets too hot in the summer to do this so it has become one of my favourite Winter Enjoyments.

Dutch Iris add a splash of colour to the garden

Two young rats (ratlings?) have now joined our household (more about them tomorrow) and seem to be settling in well. 

It really is a Lazy Sunday today.  It is now mid-afternoon and I am sitting on the bed in the sun writing this, with Mittens the cat curled up beside me for company.

The wallflowers are in bud and the anenomes are still looking pretty

The garden is looking reasonably colourful at the moment, although the wind is making tatters of the Iceland Poppies.

Until tomorrow,

Margaret 😊

Friday 28 August 2020

The Victorian Flower Garden

 After the fog rolled away this morning, the sun was shining and it was perfect for a walk.  

I decided to go to the Victorian Flower Garden, a seldom visited part of the Hamilton Gardens complex.   Long-term plans for this area are to demolish this “ageing” glasshouse (it is about sixty years old) that has “reached the end of its lifespan” and build a carpark here instead.

I have now put the government’s official Covid-19 tracking app on my phone, and used it for the first time today as I entered the glasshouse.

I thought the floral display was pretty and loved the tile floors.

Off to one side there is a Succulent Garden, and this sign made me smile.

The cacti area is only small but in much better condition than many others I have seen.

Off to the other side is a Tropical Garden but there was a family in there having official photographs being taken, so I didn’t intrude.

Instead, I sat for a while on a garden seat and simply enjoyed the flowers.

Have a great day 😊


Thursday 27 August 2020

A Load Of Rubbish

Our local council is introducing a new rubbish collection system, to come into effect in a couple of day’s time.  Today was our last day for the old collection system.  The black plastic bags are being replaced with two wheelie bins (one for recyclables and the other for pure rubbish) and a small bin for compost scraps.  The current blue recycle bin will then be used solely for the collecting of unbroken glass.

This was the sight at our road gate this morning – and it is not all our rubbish!  This is from four households.

We had a little sunshine during the morning but this afternoon has been filled with squally showers.  The sort of weather that makes the cats dislike going outdoors – they sit at the cat door looking out, with a decided frown on their face, before finally making a dash for it.

I overdid it in the garden department yesterday and have been rather sore today, so the bit of rain made a good excuse not to do too much.

Japonica always reminds me of my maternal grandmother as she always had a plant growing in her garden.

Stay happy 😊


Wednesday 26 August 2020

Hearty Soup


Thank-you everyone for all your wonderful and encouraging comments on my last post.  Sometimes we just need to step back from things for a short time to get a better perspective on things – my head is in a much better place now!

Although it has not been too cold the last few days it has been a bit wet and windy, so I made us a pot of hearty Scotch Broth to cheer us up.  I make up my own version of this traditional soup (recipe below) and served it with some crisp toast.

Scotch Broth soup

Unfortunately, son’s second pet rat (named Pepper) has now died and joined his brother in the Memorial Plot in our lawn.  Two new young rats will be joining us this coming weekend, but I probably still won’t touch them at all.  I can admire their personalities and even laugh at their antics, but I find I cannot bring myself to handle them.

R.I.P.  Pepper

It has been encouraging to see the first signs of Spring heading this way.  Buds are growing fat and we have even had a leaf burst on the grape vine.

A few years ago, I was given a bunch of narcissus blooms as a cheery reminder that Spring was arriving.   I can still smell their perfume when I look at this photo.

A cheerful assortment

Have a happy enjoyable day everyone 😊



Place around 400g lamb neck or shoulder chops into a large saucepan.  Add 6 cups cold water, 1 tsp salt, and 1 Tbsp barley.  Cover and bring to the boil.  Remove lid and skim off and discard any scum that has risen to the top.

Turn down heat and simmer for 90 minutes until meat is tender and falling from the bone. 

Remove meat from pot and set aside.  When cool, strip from the bones and cut into pieces.  Meanwhile, add 2½  cups chopped and/or grated vegetables to the broth and bring to the boil.  Turn down the heat and simmer for 60 minutes.

I usually use a mixture of vegetables such as carrot, leek, onion, swede, and celery.  I often also add a little broccoli or cauliflower to the mix.  If the meat was particularly fatty, I sometimes let the broth go cold so that I can skim off any congealed fat before adding the vegetables.

Add the meat back to the cooked vegetables and season to taste with extra salt and pepper.  Serve hot with toast or croutons, and a sprinkle of freshly chopped parsley over the top of the soup.

This soup makes about four servings, and I have successfully frozen it for up to three months.

Sunday 9 August 2020

What Next?

 Yesterday was a happy day, driving out into the countryside to a café on a blueberry farm, and meeting up for lunch with a large family group.

Today I am sad and stunned at the unexpected passing of yet another family member (not present yesterday).

My portable hard-drive is still throwing wobblies and my computer keeps crashing on me.  Our 15 year old cat needs to be put to sleep, the toilet is still out of action, and I am worried about a dear friend that I haven’t been able to contact for over a week.

It all seems to be piling up on me at the moment, so I have made the decision to quit social media for a few days until I can gather myself together again. 

Sending love to all of you, my dear blogland friends,

Stay safe and be happy J

Margaret, xx

Friday 7 August 2020

Shopping Frustration

The portable USB hard-drive that I use to store my photos is beginning to stutter around so I thought I would buy a new one before it packed up completely.

There are a couple of shops that sell these – I dismissed the big PB Tech store because their staff are always so patronizing (little old ladies know nothing), so drove across town to Warehouse Stationery.

The hard-drives were not on display.  Instead they had little cards hanging there, to be taken to checkout to receive the item you want.  I chose one and picked up a card, of which there were at least five.

The checkout was unattended,  so I crossed the shop to The Warehouse checkout and stood in line to be served.  When I asked if I could buy it there she said yes, but she didn’t know what the card was about. 

Wait for a supervisor.   No, I will have to go to the Warehouse Stationery checkout for that.  “But there was no-one there,” I complained.  “Oh,” she says, “you just have to stand there and someone will come eventually.”

I walked back across the shop and there was a girl, all by herself, with a queue of people waiting.  I waited patiently, but one woman in front of me plonked her stuff down and walked out.

The girl, who really belonged to the Copy Department and not the Computer side, searched through the cupboards but couldn’t find anything so she rang for assistance.  Lots of people waiting behind me now.

A woman sauntered over and took the card from me.  She slowly went to the back of the serving area and picked up some keys and unlocked a cupboard.  Finally, she came back and shoved a box at me.  “We don’t have that one,” she says, “only this larger one” as she scanned it in - it was $50 dearer!

“But what about all the cards hanging at the display,” says me, beginning to lose my cool.  She pulled a bit of a couldn’t-care-less face, shrugged, and said “Nobody’s been up there to remove them.”

I walked out. 

I don’t need to give my custom to any business that operates like that.  Son says he will buy me one online (but not from them!).

Now, I feel much better having told you all that!  I'm not complaining, but I do expect a certain standard of quality from the shops that I give my money to.

It is just coming in to rain again so I am glad to be home.  The builder came yesterday and put a new floor down in the toilet, and the plumber is expected on Monday to install the new unit.

All is good J


Thursday 6 August 2020


It is 75 years today since Allied Forces dropped a devastating atomic bomb on Hiroshima, to be followed by one at Nagasaki.  It makes me sad to think it took such horrific events to end the mindless killings of a world war. 

My father visited this demolished city some months afterwards and it left a sobering impact on him.

There is a World Peace Bell in Christchurch and this was tolled this morning, along with other Peace Bells around the world.

The history of mankind is littered with the pain and suffering and cruelty of wars and man’s inhumanity to his own kind.

One wonders if it will ever end.

I have had trouble loading the two photographs with this post, so hope they are visible.

Tuesday 4 August 2020

Winter Flowers

We have a gorgeous sunny winter’s day here, with a forecast high of 18 degrees Celsius.  I enjoyed doing my usual Tuesday shopping, visiting two different supermarkets, a Dutch delicatessen (I love their gouda cheese), an op shop (no finds today), and petrol for the car.

I always enjoy seeing the jonquils blooming in late winter.

A lot of rhododendrons and camellias are also coming out in flower.

After lunch I felt inspired to wander around our garden to see what blooms we have here. 

I loved the sunny gold colour of this polyanthus.

There were white fairy primulas nestled beneath the sweetpeas.

One of the hanging baskets is putting on a brave repeat show of sweet little faces.

Some of the spring bulbs I planted have begun to flower, but I can’t remember whether these are the anemones or the ranunculas!!

On the Toilet Scene, the builder has been to inspect and says the whole floor needs replacing – preferably with hardwood and not chipboard that was used previously.  The plumber is due to arrive this afternoon and he will hopefully be able to disconnect everything – the toilet is continuing to sink further into the floor so I will be happy when it is removed.

Thank goodness for portable camping toilets!

Margaret J

Monday 3 August 2020

A Comical Disaster

I can see it is going to take a while to live this one down – mum sat on the loo and it went through the floor!  I got such a shock when the whole unit suddenly lurched over to one side and partially sunk into the floor, ripping apart the seat and breaking the flushing system. 

Son has been in touch with both plumber and builder this morning, and it appears either a house pile has collapsed or the floor has rotted through.  We had no warning of anything being wrong, so it is a very unexpected disaster and is not going to be that cheap to fix either.

It looks like we will be without this basic bathroom facility for at least a week, if not two, until everything can be fixed up.  Grand-daughter can stay with her mother so that is no problem, leaving just son and I needing help. 

A quick look online, a visit to a camping shop, and we now have a portable pottie in residence.

I am really getting a bit old for all this sort of stuff J


Sunday 2 August 2020

Water Only

Politicians can be an endless source of amusement if you can see past the politics side of things.  I used to love the satirical TV programmes of earlier days, lampooning individual politicians, but apparently that is illegal now and you are no longer allowed to publicly poke fun at our thin-skinned politicians.

However, social media still has plenty to say and I had a good laugh last night after reading about The Green Party’s latest health manifesto.  (These are the people who are doing their best to both ban the use of tobacco and legalize the use of marijuana)

They state they plan to “support water-only policies in schools, hospitals and sports clubs.”  What?  No cold beer after a game of rugby?  No cup of tea with breakfast for hospital patients?  No coffee after the PTA meeting at school?  Whatever is the world coming to?

Of course, the Greens are now stating that they actually meant they want to restrict the use of sugary drinks – so why didn’t they say that?  Perhaps they have been smoking too much weed!

If we cannot have a giggle at some of the mistakes our political parties occasionally make, then the world is becoming a very sorry place indeed.

Hope your day is going well,

Margaret J



The photos are all different drinking water fountains from my archives.

Saturday 1 August 2020

A Blustery Saturday

It’s a bit of a blustery day today, with overcast grey skies and the odd skirmish of squally wind.  The weak winter sun tries to shine through occasionally, but then gives up and retreats to its hideout.

At least it isn’t raining, well, not yet anyway!

This morning I wrote an email to my daughter – she gets one at least every week, and we usually message each other as well. 

Late morning I took grand-daughter and a friend around to another friend’s home for a birthday party, and then came home and spent some time going through the Kings Seeds catalogue that arrived in our mailbox.

Now, after my corned beef sandwich lunch, I am off to visit one of my brothers and his wife.  It should be a pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

Take care and stay safe J