Saturday 28 May 2022

The Dangers Of A Book Fair


This morning there was another Book Fair in the city, this time organised by the Rotary Club.

I succumbed to temptation and went along to have a look, along with a large crowd of other avid book searchers. 

The books were sorted into categories and ranged around the room, being viewed by Masked Readers (being a retail outlet, we were still required to wear a mask) who were practising a controlled form of subtle-push-and-shove, and grab-before-your-neighbour-gets-it.

I came home with eleven new Treasures, all non-fiction, and now have to find somewhere in the bookcase for them.  Once I have read through them, that is.

The books I got were:

Charlie Hammond’s Sketch Book – Charlie left England for the Antipodes in the 1890s and recorded his story in illustrated diaries

Cottages of New Zealand – a coffee table book about early settlers’ cottages and their gardens

Cowpats and Brickbats – a collection of tales from the Waikato (our province)

Flower Painting Workbook – a contemporary view on painting flowers

Healthy Gut Cookbook – recipes for digestive health

Historic New Zealand – showcasing some different places I may like to visit

Learn to Paint Landscapes – by Alwyn Crawshaw, an English artist I admire

Patterns of the Past – another sketchbook, this time drawings of early New Zealand buildings

Scarves and Other Accessories – different ways to wear and use accessories

Sewing Specialty Fabrics – a Singer book of tips on how to sew difficult fabrics

The River – the story of the Waikato River, which flows through Hamilton

A random page in Charlie Hammond's Sketch Book

Altogether, my shopping cost me $40.00 - attending a Book Fair is indeed a very dangerous place for my wallet to visit!

Happy reading 😊



Friday 27 May 2022

Miranda Shore Birds


Next door to the coastal village of Kaiaua (see my last post) is the small settlement of Miranda, and it was here that I visited the Miranda Shorebird Centre.

There was not much time to linger here, as it was almost high tide and the perfect time to visit the bird hides at Robert Findlay Wildlife Reserve.

The birds most obviously in evidence were these South Island Pied Oystercatchers (Haematopus finschi) gathered together on the mudflats.

I was informed that there were Wrybills (Anarhynchus frontalis) present in this group of birds, but had no way of getting close enough to see them properly.

It was different with the Pied Stilt (Himantopus himantopus), of which there were several to be seen as they poked about in the shallow water for insects to eat.

There were a number of White Faced Herons (Egretta novaehollandiae) in the area.  They are a relatively new arrival in New Zealand, having become self-introduced in the 1940s.

This group of Pied Shags (Phalacrocorax varius) standing to attention were beautifully silhouetted in the still waters of a nearby pond.

We have another sunny day here, after a slight frost this morning. 

I have a funeral to attend this afternoon (a lady who was a friend of my parents), and then we will be into the weekend again.  The year seems to be going by quite quickly.

Make the most of every day – life is too short not to!

Margaret 😊


Wednesday 25 May 2022

May Excursion


May is almost finished, but I finally managed to find time (and nice weather) to make this month’s excursion out of the city.

This time, it was a drive up to the Firth of Thames and the little settlement of Kaiaua (ky-ah-wah). 

Taking the back roads took longer, but it meant I could visit the ‘Waerenga and Taniwha Undenominational Memorial Church’. 

This lovely heritage building was consecrated in 1928, after many years of community fundraising.  It is dedicated to all those who fell in war, and is still in use by different denominations.

My first stop at Kaiaua was at Ray’s Rest, a stretch of beach where campervans are permitted to Freedom Camp.

It was here that I managed to find a small amount of sea-glass, mostly brown but also a little bit of green and one piece of white.

By now it was almost lunchtime, so it was off to Kaiaua Fisheries and some of their famous Fish and Chips (the fish I chose was Red Gurnard).

This seagull was hopeful I might share my chips, but I didn’t.  I know only too well that if you give in to one begging bird, you will suddenly have a hundred of them squawking around you!

Then it was on to The Pink Shop for a maple and walnut icecream in the cone, to be eaten sitting by the beach.

A little further up the coast can be found the beached wreck of the ‘HMNZS Hinau.’  I thought I might have been able to visit the wreck, but the gates were locked and I had to be content with a view from the road.

This was the first New Zealand Navy ship to be named ‘Hinau.’  She was a coal-fired minesweeper, commissioned in 1942 for use in our coastal waters during the War, and sold off for scrap in 1954.

Miranda neighbours Kaiaua, and the shell-banks and tidal flats here make for a great place to watch sea-birds.  I spent the afternoon there, but will write about that next time.

Have a fun day 😊



Sunday 22 May 2022

The Gates Of Haast


Three years ago I was travelling down the West Coast of the South Island and on this day I was driving over the Haast Pass.

This road, which traverses the Southern Alps, was only opened in 1960 although the trail had long been used by Maori in search of greenstone.

It was not long before civilization was left behind, and the road was winding along beside the Haast River.

There are many corners, sometimes the road is narrow, there are several single-lane bridges – it is quite an adventure driving over this Pass.

And, of course, it is nearly always raining!

On average, Haast has rain on 177 days each year (totalling about 77 inches), so I thought this poem I found in the Visitor’s Centre was quite apt.

The scenery can be quite majestic.

There is a gorge at the top of the Pass known as the Gates of Haast and the whole feeling of this place is rather wild.

There are several waterfalls one can visit, and this one was named Fantail Falls.  I collected some smaller rocks from the creek here.  They were so cold, like they were made of ice.

Coming down the other side, now heading towards Wanaka and Queenstown, I stopped at several pretty spots to take some photos. 

The sandflies here were large and black and quite vicious biters, and I came away with several blood spots dotting my arms and legs!

The weekend seems to have passed quickly (it is Sunday evening here now).  We watched all six of the Super Rugby games, had a visitor to dinner last night, and this morning I went out for morning tea with a friend.

A busy time, but it has all been happy 😊

Until next time,



Friday 20 May 2022

Lady Blanche Farm


I recently picked this book up in a thrift shop, for no greater reason than it looked like an older style novel.  For 50 cents, I had nothing to lose.

‘Lady Blanche Farm’ was first published in 1940, and my book was a 1953 reprint.

Having just finished reading it, I am glad I found it.  The story is basically a romance set in a small American town during the first World War, with the odd twist of an old family curse running through it.

Not everyone lives happily ever after, and the story has sad portions, but overall I found it an enthralling read.

The leaves of Autumn in suburban Hamilton

The author was Frances Parkinson Keyes, a prolific American author who is famed for the thorough research that preceded the writing of each of her books. 

Wikipedia states, “The meticulousness of her detailed accounts make her novels valuable tools for learning about a time long past and customs that have died away.”

It may be too “quaint” for a lot of modern readers, with its high moral standards and old-fashioned style, but it was a novel I enjoyed reading.

Think happy and be happy 😊



Wednesday 18 May 2022

Grapefruit With A History


For some few weeks, Son has been wanting to plant a fruit tree at the back of our section.  He has ummed and aahhed over a few different options, but finally settled on a grapefruit.

I went with him out to Wairere Nursery near Gordonton and we chose a good-looking specimen of ‘Golden Special’ that he has now planted.

‘Golden Special’ has an interesting lineage, being a recent improvement on ‘Morrisons Seedless,’ which has been this country's most popular grapefruit for many decades.

‘Morrisons Seedless’ was developed by Mr Morrison (who else?) of Warkworth, from stock that arrived in the country from the Orient via Australia in the 1860s.  Governor Sir George Grey was one of the first to plant the variety, growing it in his extensive gardens on Kawau Island.

It could arguably be called the first grapefruit to be grown in New Zealand.

The tree is evergreen, and has waxy white flowers that smell heavenly.  Large golden fruit ripen from July through to November.  The taste is delicious, being slightly acidic (perfect for marmalade), but then sweetening more as the season advances.

Nothing tastes as good as the food you grow yourself 😊



Monday 16 May 2022

Reducing Carbon Emissions


Today the Government announced they were going to be spending $2.9 billion on an Emissions Reduction Plan to combat Climate Change. 

Perhaps I was being naΓ―ve or overly-optimistic, but I thought they were about to say they were going to do something really practical and helpful.  Instead, it seems most of the money will be going on various working groups to investigate how they can use either carrots or sticks on high-energy users like farming and the transport industry, to get them to reduce their carbon emissions.  A lot of this research has already been done overseas. 

What about spending $2.9 billion on something practical like establishing recycling centres for electronics and batteries, or creating more infrastructure to cope with the expected demand for electric vehicles, or maybe promoting more energy efficient housing, along with educating the public on how to reduce their environmental footprint, or even developing public transport so people don’t need to use their cars as much?

The stated hope is that by 2035 we will be less reliant on cars and will be travelling 20% less kilometres than we do now.  That is a great ideal, but is it practical? 

How much individual responsibility does the world expect us to shoulder?  I’m told that our current daily rate of carbon emission is equal to about one hour in China, so how much do we really need to do to be able to say we are doing our part?

Photo Credit:  New Zealand Embassy of Ireland

New Zealand is a reasonable sized country – our land mass is 10% greater than the United Kingdom – and yet our population is a tiny five million.  To put that into perspective, it is about the same as the population of Melbourne (Australia), a little more than half of the population of London (England), and a little less than half of the population of Los Angeles (United States of America).   

We don’t have enough people to support grandiose ideals and the re-invention of the wheel.  But we do have enough people who love their country and would be only too willing to make lifestyle adjustments if they were given a little incentive and some practical direction.

And now I will apologise and say, “Sorry.”  I normally try not to rant and rave on my blog, but I felt so disappointed this afternoon that I had to say something.

I must say, I feel better now that I have said my piece!

Margaret 😊


Saturday 14 May 2022

Guilty Confessions


I cooked a Rice Pudding this morning and thought I would take a photo, but it smelt so good I forgot.  One of the nicest parts of a rice pudding is the skin that forms on top – and I just had to eat it!

So, instead of a nice delicious looking rice pudding you get a photo of the stuff underneath. 

I also love hot cookies (we call them biscuits) straight from the oven, as they are so much nicer hot than when they cool down.  I have been known to “pick” at roast meat before it is carved and served up, and don’t forget cleaning out the bowl and licking the beaters after a baking session.

It must be Confession Time for me to tell you all this!  Do you do the same or are you able to resist these delectable temptations?

The rice pudding will still taste alright and we will have it with some fruit for dessert this evening, after our pork chop casserole with vegetables. 

Dinner will be on our knees again as we will be watching more Super Rugby games and cheering on our favourites.  It will be a great way to end a casual Saturday.

Have a happy weekend 😊



Friday 13 May 2022

Farewell To The Orchard


It makes me sad to think that these gorgeous trees, photographed when I visited there on a drizzly day in 2012, are now gone or soon to be gone.

I have a cousin who owns an apple and pear orchard and he is currently busy removing all his trees.  This orchard has been here for over one hundred years and used to be surrounded by other orchards and farmland.

Now it is an island amidst sprawling urban development.  People complain bitterly when the hail cannon is used all night, and spray drift is a major problem (and remember that orchardists must spray if they wish to export).

Add to this the issue of continual low prices and rising overheads, the difficulty of obtaining casual labour, my cousin’s increasing age and the fact that no-one else in the family wishes to take on the business, and I can sympathize with the hard decision my cousin and wife have had to make.

The land will be put down in grassland first, and it will no doubt not be long before subdivision begins.

Progress and change are a continual process and I must not complain.  When my grandfather established this orchard, he had to break in the land first.  That was progress and a huge change in the way the land was used and was really very little different to what is happening today.

It is Black Friday today, the 13 May.  I’m so glad I am not superstitious or I might blame it for not letting me comment on anybody’s blog at the moment!

Hope you have a great day 😊



Thursday 12 May 2022

A Couple Of Firsts


We have had our first frost this morning – a fairly light one but enough to make the grass turn white and the tops of our cars to sparkle in the rising sun.

As the temperature dropped last night we also lit the fire for the first time. 

This morning, after my washing is hung out, I am heading out to buy some groceries and fuel up my car.  I don’t like to let the fuel gauge go below halfway, so it is time to fill up with petrol again.

A friend of mine was moaning that it costs so much to fill the car now, but they run on almost empty before filling up.  It costs less to do it more often! 

Although I admit that I also don’t run around as much now as I perhaps used to.  I have a prescription to be picked up and have put off doing that until I had another reason to take the car out.

We have another frost forecast for tomorrow morning so it looks like late autumn is starting to turn into early winter.  I hope the cold kills off the pest-demic of paper wasps that we have had recently.

Keep smiling 😊



Tuesday 10 May 2022


What happens to old teapots?  Where do they go when they are no longer in use?

After who knows how many years of gracing a table, these venerable old ladies (I don’t think of teapots as being masculine!) can find themselves being added to special collections or hidden in some dark cupboard or being put to an entirely different task altogether.

One of my sisters-in-law loves to find old teapots and coffee jugs, mostly from thrift shops, and repurpose them into plant containers.

She has recently had two rustic shelving units made, to hang on a fence to display her goodies.

One can be seen from a dining room window and the other from a kitchen window.

I visited her this afternoon for a few hours and it was great to catch up on all the family news (gossip?). 

It seems as we grow older, we become more interested in hearing about what others are doing, more than actually doing things ourselves!

May your day be a happy one 😊



Sunday 8 May 2022

Mother's Day


Our family has never made a big deal about Mother’s Day (or Father’s Day either, for that matter), and we certainly have never spent large amounts of money because of it.

Rather, we offer the recipient a quiet acknowledgment of appreciation with a quick hug and maybe a meal.

Today, Son made pikelets for our lunch (to have with jam and whipped cream) and Younger Son brought over some banana and caramel muffins he had made.  Both pikelets and muffins were delicious.

While he was here, Younger Son kindly put together my flat-pack sewing table and chair – with no swearing!  He took his time and read the instructions and everything went together flawlessly.

The table is the perfect size for my little sewing machine, and all I have to do now is decide what I am going to sew first.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the lovely mothers out there.  I hope you all have a great day 😊



Saturday 7 May 2022

One Traumatized Cat


Poor Mittens. 

For about three hours last evening I could hear this dull thudding noise happening every now and then.  The neighbours were up to something strange, was what I thought.

And then Millie began racing up and down the hallway with thumping feet, as only a cat can do.  That should have alerted us to something, but it didn’t.

Finally, I thought I would get nosey and investigate the strange noise.  And that was when I heard a tiny piteous little meow – Mittens shut inside the linen cupboard!

She was so traumatized that she refused to leave my side the rest of the evening.  She slept on my bed all night, and now she keeps following me around everywhere.

Mittens is a “needy” cat at the best of times.  She thrives on lots of loving contact with the humans she adores (and hides from the rest of them), so she is being given lots of attention today to help her forget her terrifying experience.

Son and I have been avid followers of the Pacific Super Rugby season this year, watching nearly all the matches as they are broadcast live.

Tonight our local team, the Chiefs, are playing here in Hamilton against the Canberra Brumbies.  We won’t be attending, preferring to keep to our comfortable armchairs while watching the game live on Sky TV.

The Brumbies are ahead of us on the score table, but it is a home game for us and local support might help swing the game in our favour.  Should be a good game, regardless.

Have a Happy Weekend everyone 😊



Friday 6 May 2022

A Lovely Morning


The weather has been gorgeous so far today (it is early afternoon now), with blue skies and sunshine and a light breeze.  

Perfect for getting the sheets dry!

I went to a couple of thrift shops before lunch, and came home with eight new tops.  I haven’t tried them on yet, but hope they fit – at $2 each I thought it was a bargain not to be missed.  If they don’t fit or look too awful, then I will donate them to another shop.

One of the shops is situated beside an office equipment shop so I popped in there on the off-chance they might have something suitable that I can use for a sewing table.

Yes!!  I am now the proud owner of a small rectangular table and an office chair on wheels.  They are both flat-pack furniture, so I will leave them for Son to put together for me.

No excuse now not to do some sewing!

Margaret 😊


Wednesday 4 May 2022

An Uncomfortable Arm


I had an appointment with a Nurse this morning to receive my 2022 winter season influenza vaccination, which went according to plan.

According to my records, I was also overdue for a tetanus booster shot so had that as well.  It is coupled with diphtheria and whooping cough, so I’ve been boosted for them too!

There was the regulation 15 minute wait before I could leave the surgery (in case there were any adverse reactions) and I was told to rest and drink plenty of water.

So far I feel fine, and it is just my arm that is feeling hot and rather uncomfortable.  That’ll pass though, so I am not really complaining.

We have four places around our home where we can store firewood and son is slowly getting them semi-enclosed so they are more sheltered from the rain.

He has just finished building this one, between the garage and the garden shed.

Although part of me is dreading the onset of winter, I admit that I am actually looking forward to having a fire again. 

There is something very cozy about a wood fire 😊



Tuesday 3 May 2022

Pruning Strawberries


I was reading online that if you want strawberries to fruit well for a second year, then you need to prune them back to about an inch above their crown during the autumn.

As most strawberry plants now really only crop well in their first year, I thought I would give this a try.  I haven’t been quite as drastic as what was recommended, but have pruned back all the excess foliage.

The instructions were to then fertilize the strawberry plants with a 10-10-10 fertilizer, but I have yet to do this.

I recently received some new information about one of my Lusher ancestors in Norfolk, so have been busy trying to chase that up – not very successfully, as many records are incomplete for the years I am looking at (around the 1800 mark), but it has been fun looking.

Until next time,

Margaret 😊


Sunday 1 May 2022

So Cute


I just have to share this cute picture of these two little guys delicately eating a potato crisp.  They are using their paws just like hands!

We have a house guest this weekend.  He is a friend of my son’s and has come to Hamilton for a weekend of miniature war-gaming (a favourite hobby of Son).

I made Baked Chicken Legs for dinner.  It was a new recipe for me and so easy (recipe below).

I hope everyone is having an enjoyable weekend.

Margaret 😊



Allow at least one chicken leg per person.  Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius.

Using butter (important), liberally grease a roasting pan or Pyrex dish.

Season each leg with any seasoning mixture you prefer (I used Lemon Pepper Seasoning).  Whatever you use, it should contain some salt for the best results.

Place legs into the greased dish, skin side facing upwards, and dot with a good amount of butter.

Tightly cover the dish with tinfoil, then bake at 150C for one hour.

Remove the tinfoil, baste the chicken (that is, spoon some of the juices in the pan over the chicken), and return the dish to the oven.  Turn the heat up to 200C and bake for 10 minutes. 

Baste the chicken again and continue baking until the skin has gone crispy, about 10-15 minutes.

Serve hot with vegetables of choice (I used mashed potato, carrot rings, and Brussels sprouts), spooning some of the buttery juices over them.

Notes:  it is the butter and the initial slow cooking which makes this dish so delicious – a little decadent maybe, with all that butter, but great for a special occasion.


The autumnal mists are slowly rolling back from this farmland south of Te Awamutu township.

The photo was taken mid-morning about fifteen years ago, but the countryside still looks pretty much like it did then.  The brown strip in the middle background is maize waiting to be harvested.