Thursday 30 June 2022

Planting Garlic


The Family have decided that I need a good excuse to get outdoors more often, and my choice of enticement was a garden I can handle easily with my mobility issues.

Our solution has been the purchase of several plastic 60 litre troughs that are just the right height for me to deal with.

My first planting has been one of Printanor garlic. 

Traditionally, garlic is planted here on the shortest day of the year and harvested on the longest day.  I was a few days late in planting, but hopefully that should still be alright.

I made holes that were 50mm (2 inches) deep and dropped one fat clove into each, with the pointed end upwards.  I have read that you should plant them 6 inches deep, but I think this is more for places where frost can heave the soil up and disturb the clove.

I wanted to space the plants so that air can circulate around them, so have only planted eight in the trough.  That made them about 150mm (6 inches) apart from each other.

I am feeling quite excited about my new garden, and will probably stick mostly to edibles.  There is not enough space to grow all we need, but we can enjoy what I produce on a ‘gourmet’ basis.

And the enticement to get outdoors is already working.  I have been going outside every day – talking to the garlic that has yet to grow!

I mean, gardens really only flourish when you talk to them – right?

Margaret 😊


Wednesday 29 June 2022

Another Senior Moment


Guilty as charged!  I seem to be having a lot of “senior moments” lately, usually as inane as losing my phone, but this morning revealed the worst one so far.

Younger Son was visiting and commented that my fuel tank was open and the petrol cap was missing.  My first thought was, “Oh no, someone has stolen my petrol.”

But it was me to blame.  When I fuelled up yesterday I obviously forgot to put the cap back on.  I remember placing it on top of the car, so that has disappeared somewhere along my journey back home.

Thank goodness for Wonderful Sons!  The two of them got together, found a new cap for me at a local auto shop and put it in my car.

So, I learned two new things today:  always check the cap is on before you drive off, and who knew that modern petrol tanks have a mechanism that stops all the petrol sloshing out of an open tank as you drive!

Keep smiling 😊



Monday 27 June 2022

Rattle and Spike


Two new little rats have joined our older boys, Mello and Spook.  Son has named the newbies Rattle and Spike.

Their colouration is black Berkshire, with a black back and white markings on the underbelly parts.  Rattle has a white tip to his tail, a little like a rattlesnake, while Spike has a longer white tip on his tail just like a spike.

They spent a couple of days in a smaller cage sitting beside the large cage, so that they could get used to each other’s scent.

There were no problems when they finally got together.

If anything, Mello and Spook simply adore them.  Grooming each other was soon the order of the day, and they now often snuggle down together to sleep.

We had fog again this morning, and that cleared away to mostly cloudy.  Judging by comments made yesterday, it seems our winter here is quite different to a lot of places so I am preparing to write sometime soon about our climate here.

Did you know a group of rats is called a Mischief?  Quite appropriate I thought 😊



Sunday 26 June 2022

Our Garden This Week


Winter Solstice has come and gone for another year.  Our days are now growing longer, but I know by experience that it also means the weather will deteriorate over the next couple of months.

I went for a wander around the garden and loved seeing these Sweet Williams and Violas flowering.  There are even some spring bulbs starting to shoot.

These bright red Snapdragons made a lovely splash of happiness.

The only garden work I did this week was a little bit of weeding in the vegetable patch, and pulling back some of the pea-straw mulch we had placed around the Silverbeet (Swiss Chard). 

The mulch has become very wet with all the rain we have had, and I was afraid it might rot the plants if it sat too close to them.

I was happy to find no evidence of slugs or snails, but perhaps they are being sensible and have gone into hibernation for the winter.

No caterpillars on the Broccoli either, which surprised me until I saw a tiny Silvereye darting through the plant looking for a free meal.

I’ve also seen several Sparrows this week searching under the house eaves looking for spiders and other insects.

Got to love Nature!

Margaret 😊


Friday 24 June 2022

June Excursion Part 3


This is the final part of my trip last Tuesday. 

After lunch, I crossed Port Waikato to reach the ocean side of the village – a drive of about five minutes.

Port Waikato is known as a surfing beach and I expected to see mostly beach homes, so it was a pleasant surprise to see how many appeared to be permanent dwellings. 

Some of them had very quirky mailboxes!

This is the view from the carpark at Sunset Beach.  The cliff edge is right there and it was obvious that the carpark once extended much further than it does now.

The fine black sand is unstable and large storm swells regularly eat away at the coastline, mocking the efforts of mere humans who think they can build structures to withstand the elements of nature.

The drive back home was through lonely countryside, with human habitations spaced far apart.  The road was generally narrow, gravel, and frequently pitted with deep pot-holes.

But some of the scenery was quite spectacular, with the limestone outcrops adding a different dimension to the rugged farmland.

There were a few dust (and size!) hazards on the narrow gravel road, and I was glad to be parked off the road as this truck and trailer went past.

My little car did well on the country roads, but I think it was quite happy to finish heading home on the smooth surfaces of the Waikato Expressway.

Enjoy your day 😊



Thursday 23 June 2022

June Excursion Part 2


The next stop on Tuesday’s drive was at the Les Batkin Reserve to see the Tuakau Bridge.

This 210-metre long, six-span concrete suspension bridge was opened in 1933.  It replaced an earlier wooden bridge, built in 1902, that had been badly damaged by floods during 1929.

The Waikato River was running fairly high, not flooding but certainly not at a low level either.

Crossing the Tuakau Bridge reminded me of the nursery rhyme about Humpty Dumpty.

A quick stop at the Port Waikato Boat Ramp gave a good view of the 425km long Waikato River as it approaches its mouth and enters the Tasman Sea.

Shops are scarce in Port Waikato, but this country store supplies most basic needs.

Lunch was a picnic-in-the-car at Maraetai Bay Reserve – nothing fancy, just a sandwich and a couple of biscuits with a nice hot cup of thermos tea.

From here, it is possible to walk into the Port Waikato Sand Dunes area.  I went as far as the small stream but decided I didn’t really want to get my feet wet, and so I ventured no further.

We had another frost this morning, but it has been followed by a calm sunny day with a high of around 12 degrees Celsius.

I’ll write about the end of my excursion tomorrow.

Keep smiling 😊


Wednesday 22 June 2022

June Excursion Part 1


This month’s trip out-of-town was a drive to Port Waikato to visit the mouth of the Waikato River, and then down the coast before returning to Hamilton.  The weather was sunny, after a frosty start, but there was a cold wind blowing most of the time.  Thank goodness for a bright red warm woolly hat to keep my ears warm!

My first stop was at Mercer, named after a British officer who died at the Battle of Rangiriri in 1863.  Until 1965, the only way across the Waikato River here was by ferry. 

This single-span concrete bridge is 150 metres (480 feet) long.

Across from my viewpoint were several buildings belonging to different rowing clubs.  The river here is considered to provide some of the best rowing water in the country.

Outside the local museum there is a war memorial.  The soldier commemorates both World Wars, and the gun turret (taken from the steamer ‘Pioneer’) commemorates the Waikato Wars between the British and local Maori.

Across the Mercer Bridge, and on with the adventure!

This is the 500th post on my blog and I feel happy that I have been able to achieve this.  I know many have made more (some, much much more!), but I am still an infant when it comes to blogging as I’ve only been doing this for just under two years.

Part 2 of this adventure tomorrow 😊



Monday 20 June 2022

Lemon Honey


It must be several years since I last made some Lemon Honey.  I used to make it using our own eggs and lemons, but had to buy them this time.

What I made almost filled two 500g jars.

The recipe is quite simple and it only takes about 30 minutes to make.  However, it is more a consumable spread than a jam and needs to be kept in the fridge (not usually a problem, as it gets eaten so fast!).

Another thing to note is that, in my experience, American butter is different to our golden-yellow solid blocks that weigh in at 500g, so I am not sure how that would work.


Prepare all the ingredients:

Wash and dry two medium lemons.  Grate off the lemon zest and set aside.  Juice the lemons to give ¼ cup lemon juice.

Measure out 300g castor sugar (I use normal white sugar and pulverize it in the blender).

Beat 5 large eggs and set aside.

Measure out 200g unsalted butter and cut into pieces into a saucepan.

Make the Lemon Honey:

Melt the butter in the saucepan over a medium heat.

Add the sugar, a third at a time, stirring each time to incorporate it.  Keep stirring until all the sugar has melted, but be careful not to let it boil.

Remove saucepan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. 

Add the beaten eggs, stirring constantly all the time.

Return saucepan to the heat and stir constantly until the mixture begins to thicken.  Once again, be careful not to let it boil or it will curdle (still tastes okay, but texture is not the best).

Remove from the heat again, and stir in the lemon zest.

Stir again a couple of times as it cools, to ensure the zest is spread throughout and also to mix in any remaining ‘egg foam.’

Pour into warm jars and refrigerate once cold (it will set further as it cools).

Enjoy as a spread on butter or toast, or spoon some over icecream as a delicious topping.

It is cool and windy today, with a weak wintry sun trying to break through the thick cloud cover.

Just as well I have sunny yellow-coloured Lemon Honey to brighten the day up!

Until next time,

Margaret 😊


Sunday 19 June 2022

Crusaders, Mice, and Vampires


A few of us gathered together last night to watch the Super Rugby Pacific final.  The Crusaders (from Canterbury) beat the Blues (from Auckland) by 21 points to 7.

Being a supporter of neither team, it was a change to be an impartial viewer and simply enjoy two evenly matched teams battling it out against each other.

Other than the game, things have been rather quiet around here for the last couple of days.  We have had a mix of heavy rain, thick fog, and weak sunshine, but no more thunder.

Today has dawned clear and sunny, so I'm hoping it will be a nice day even if the ground is still wet underfoot.

The mice the cats keep bringing in have been more lively than my computer mouse.  It has been giving me lots of grief lately (I use the inbuilt mouse) and I have to keep plugging in the external mouse.  One of those little irritating things in life.

I read this morning that Space may be full of Vampires but we wouldn’t know because all our telescopes contain mirrors (and, of course, vampires are invisible in mirrors!).

Have an awesome day 😊



Friday 17 June 2022

Rusty Loves Me


I had a lovely visit with Rusty (and his owner!) yesterday afternoon.  He always gets so excited when he hears my car arrive, and races around the room when I enter. 

Maybe he has an ulterior motive though, as he loves having someone throw his soft toy so he can chase after it.

Taking photos of Rusty can be quite difficult as he is rather camera shy.  When your face disappears behind some machine and then it clicks at you, his ears go flat and he starts to shake.

Poor Rusty.

Rusty’s owner and I did some family tree research together.  We thought we had discovered a West Indies cotton plantation owner (complete with slaves) in an off-branch of the family, but further research showed that this was incorrect.

It is a bit like a treasure hunt discovering what happened among the family all those years ago.  I don’t think I will ever completely rid myself of the thrill of that hunt.

How can you not love finding Skeletons in the Family Closet?

Margaret 😊


Thursday 16 June 2022

The Sun Is Shining


It was a reasonably busy day yesterday.  The morning was spent cleaning floors and washing a few windows, and in the afternoon my services were called upon as an Angel in a Silver Taxi.

Younger son injured his back on the previous evening, moving a washing machine, and found himself almost crippled.  He does not own a vehicle, so asked if I could take him down to the doctor’s surgery.

No problems, I can do that.  But his appointment was a “fit-in” so the wait was a long one.  I found a car park facing the road and spent a lot of my time watching all the crazy drivers negotiating the crossroads here (it was hard to get a photo without vehicles in it!).

Eventually, he arrived back at the car with a fist full of prescriptions and a referral to a physiotherapist.  (I should mention he has kidney problems, so has to be extra careful what he takes).

The sun is shining this morning, with only a few clouds around although the forecast is for showers later on.  It is still not that cold overnight, but our daytime temperature highs are slowly dropping.

I’m off to visit Rusty the Dog this afternoon (and his owners!).

Have a happy day 😊



Wednesday 15 June 2022

A Nasty Little Sock?


Where do socks go when you lose them?  Well, we all know the answer to that – washing machines eat socks!

What happens then I have no idea, but obviously this time our washing machine burped and sent a sock down an outlet hose.  It made its exit into the laundry tub in grand style, slithering out in a slime of crud.

But, being a Nasty Little Sock, and obviously looking for revenge for the indignity if had suffered, it then decided to block up the drain on the laundry tub.

By the time we became aware of its nefarious activities, the water was sloshing over the top of the tub and we had a couple of inches of water covering the floor.

Towels, towels, and more towels to the rescue! 

Actually, it didn’t take too long to clean up the mess and wash the useful towels and put them out to dry.

So, who is really to blame for this little episode?  The washing machine?  The sock? Or the person who puts the laundry on to wash?

I shall have to put on my Agatha Christie hat and investigate further!

Have a happy day 😊



Tuesday 14 June 2022

Timmy The Rat


Maybe I am just a Big Softie.  Even though I am not fond of pet rats and cannot bring myself to pet them, I am still sad when one of them passes away.

Timmy Rat died peacefully last night, safely cuddled by his two brother rats.  We had been expecting him to go (he was very elderly, being over two years old), and he faded quickly the last 24 hours.

Son will bury him this morning in the garden, alongside his predecessors.

The weather forecast today is for partly cloudy with strong winds and only 20% chance of rain.  That will make a big change to the last few days, with all the heavy rain, strong winds, and thunderstorms.

We have had so many thunderstorms pass over us that I have lost count.  Some were a little further off and we only got the edge of them, but a few also came right over top of us.

Cataclysmic crashes of thunder that make the whole house shiver and shake are guaranteed to wake you up at 3.30 in the morning!

Looks like Winter has arrived 😊



Monday 13 June 2022

Destroying a Beautiful Language


Maori is a beautiful language, descriptive, and pleasant to listen to (I have several friends who speak it).  It disturbs me that there seems to be a movement afoot to dilute it by incorporating it into the English language.

It is well documented that English is a “bastard language”, having its roots in many different languages.  The English, it seems, have been very adept at appropriating words from other cultures and incorporating them into their own tongue.

Maori words are creeping (should I say racing?) into our broadcasting system, and it is becoming a common joke that any ex-national returning home won’t be able to understand the language being spoken here. 

Place names are also being altered, and I can see why some wish to change them back to their original names.  What I don’t understand is the alteration of the pronunciation of current Maori place names – one example is the changing of Waitomo (why-tow-mow) to white-um-oh.  Another is Matamata (mat-a mat-a), that I have heard called ma-tar-ma-tar or sometimes ma-tama-tuh.  It gets very confusing.

Our country has three official languages – English, Maori, and sign language – but I heard mentioned the other day that we would soon only have two, pidgin English and sign language.

I hope it never comes to that.  I would like to see the Maori language kept pure and used alongside English, not sprinkled all through it.

Be happy in all you do 😊




Friday 10 June 2022

Salty Vegetable Soup


First, thankyou my lovely blog-friends for all your good wishes.  I am finally feeling much better, although I still get tired very easily.  But that will pass and I am happy to be back to near normal again.

Our weather here has been very turbulent today.  We have had three thunderstorms pass through, accompanied with heavy rain and squally winds, but thankfully it is not too cold.  Further south they are receiving snow, so they will be feeling much cooler down there.

I thought it would be a good day to have vegetable soup for our dinner tonight.  Soup and fresh buns, followed with a slice of steamed pudding sounded just what was needed for this winter’s day.  However, I just taste-tested it and I have put too much salt in the soup. 

One of the things with home cooking from scratch is that occasionally you have a meal that is not as good as it could be, but most of the time it is still edible.  This soup is still edible – just!

Hopefully the steamed pudding will turn out alright.

This evening we will be watching one of the semi-final rugby matches for Pacific Super Rugby – a game between our local Chiefs and the Crusaders from Canterbury.  It should be a fairly even-matched game so I’m looking forward to seeing it.  Who knows, we might just win!

Until next time,

Margaret 😊

Tuesday 7 June 2022

An Exhausting Week


It is a week since I last posted here but it feels like months ago.  My body has been fighting something, and throwing chills, headaches, shortness of breath, and utter exhaustion at me. 

I thought it might have been Covid, but the Rapid Antigen Test came back as negative so I presume I have simply picked up a bug of some sort somewhere.

Thankfully, I am on the mend again.  I still tire easily and everything takes a lot of effort, but any improvement is welcome!

Winter has arrived with lots of rain this last week.  This morning we had 100% humidity and a thick blanket of fog sitting over the city – one of the joys of living on predominately swampy land beside a river.

However, it cleared by lunchtime and we had some blue sky and sunshine before the clouds descended again and brought another round of rain.

Mittens and Millie are not impressed by rain.  They sit at the door and glare at it, before venturing out to do what they need to do (which lately has been bringing lots of mice back into the house).

Then, Cat Duties fulfilled, they will curl up in a nice warm spot and sleep off their adventures.

Have a happy week, my dear friends,

Margaret 😊


Wednesday 1 June 2022

Two Amazing Champions


What a way to spend a morning! 

For just over 4 hours, Son and I watched a live tennis quarterfinal played out in the French Open at Roland-Garros stadium in Paris.

I am not a big tennis follower, but this game had me sitting on the edge of my chair as it was so exciting. 

World ranking #1, Novak Djokovic, and Rafael Nadal (ranked #5 in the world), both played an excellent game, and were so evenly matched that it was impossible to pick who might win.

In the end, it was Rafael Nadal who took the honours from this fiercely fought match, and his smile says it all.

This will be the fifteenth time that Rafael Nadal has reached a semi-final at Roland-Garros.  He already has ten French Open wins under his belt – I wonder if he will end up making it eleven?

We have very blustery weather here today and had some exceptionally heavy rain during the night.  But it is not cold and we are quite snug here at home.

Hope everyone is having a great week 😊



A sunny June day at the foot of Mount Maunganui near Tauranga. 

The stone jetty in the middle foreground is all that remains of a structure built in 1888-1889 to cater for picnickers arriving from Tauranga – it was needed so that the long dresses of the ladies would no longer get wet when disembarking!