Thursday, 29 September 2022

An Astonishing Migration

 

Sometimes Facebook pages can be exciting.  I have recently been watching the page for the Pukorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre as they record Bar Tailed Godwits (Limosa lapponica baueri) arriving back on the sandy shores of Kaiaua on the Thames Estuary (I visited here in May – read about it HERE).




Every year around March (autumn) these medium-sized waders migrate to western Alaska for the breeding season.  Several birds have been fitted with special tags that allow for satellite tracking of their flights, and they are now returning one by one to our shores.

On the flight over to Alaska the birds often stop at the Yellow Sea between China and Korea, but their flight back here is a direct 11,000 – 12,000 km flight with no stops along the way.

Their average flight speed is around 56 kilometres per hour, with juveniles making their first trip when barely four months old.

About 9.30pm last night, bird 4BWWB dropped unseen (and probably hungry and exhausted!) onto the Kaiaua mudflats after flying non-stop for over 12,100 kms – a trip of some 8 days and 14 hours.




This is the third season this bird has been followed on her migration.

I never cease to be astonished and amazed by the miraculous wonders of nature 😊

Margaret.


Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Comfort Food

 

Comfort Food has been described as a food that makes you feel wrapped up in a warm loving blanket.  It is something that makes you feel warm and cosy inside, nourished and protected, and is almost an escape from the humdrum of present life.

Typically, comfort food has a high sugar and/or carbohydrate content, and is often associated with childhood or home cooking.  Because it is not usually regarded as “healthy” there is also the added bonus of guilty enjoyment when eating it!

I have a couple of comfort foods that I like to indulge in occasionally.  They are all reminiscent of my childhood – those long-ago days when ideas of healthiness never tainted the food I ate.

High on my list is Macaroni Cheese (a dish that makes my own children shudder), followed by fresh bread with butter and Vegemite (a yeast spread), grilled cheese on toast, fresh sliced peaches sprinkled with white sugar, and good old bread and milk.




BREAD AND MILK was something my mother gave us when she had four hungry children and not much in the cupboard.  It is not something I have very often, but when I do I still feel the warmth of her love and the joy of a satisfied belly.

I know there are different ways of making bread and milk, but I make it like my mother did (although I use bottled milk and not fresh farm milk like she had access to):

Cut the crusts of thick slices of bread and then cut the bread into large cubes.

Place bread into a deep bowl and pour over boiling milk (it has to be boiling) before sprinkling with brown sugar.

Allow it to cool a little, before finding a secluded spot to settle down and enjoy it.

What kind of comfort foods to you like to occasionally indulge in?

Margaret 😊

 

 

Sunday, 25 September 2022

Farewell Roger Federer

 

Roger Federer would have to be classed as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, tennis player that the world has ever seen.

I managed to see the final couple of hours of his last match, playing in the Laver Cup with partner Rafael Nadal against Jack Sock and Frances Tiafoe.

It was a great game, with Sock and Tiafoe winning at the very last minute, but all that became irrelevant as the tributes (and tears) flowed in remembrance of all Roger’s successes and the wish that he will have a happy retirement.




Last night it was back to rugby again, with the All Blacks successfully winning against the Australian Wallabies at Mt Eden Stadium in Auckland.  It was a much cleaner game than the last one, without all the yellow cards and injuries that that game had seen.




It was a different story with the South African vs Argentina rugby game that we watched a replay of this morning.  There were yellow cards in abundance (thankfully no major injuries), with Argentina spending most of the game with someone sitting in the Sin Bin.

South Africa won, but by too small a margin to prevent the All Blacks winning the National Championship.




There is a break in rugby now, for around a month I believe, before the next competition begins.

Saturday night will have to revert to being Movie Night for a few weeks!

Have a sunny day 😊

Margaret.

 

Friday, 23 September 2022

Nail File With A Difference

 

My fingernails are not long and I seldom wear polish, but I do like them to look cared for.  Over the years I have swapped between using a steel nail file and emery boards when manicuring my nails, but recently I heard of a glass nail file.

An online search discovered “crystal glass” nail files for sale at several outlets, so this morning I purchased one.  It even has its own little case to keep it in.




Like any new toy, I have now tried it out!  There was no problem with the filing and it left a nice smooth edge to the nails.  A white powder (nail dust?) accumulated on the file, but this was easy to brush off.  The instructions say it can be washed in warm water as well.

The one thing I have found unusual is that it has left my smooth rounded nails very sharp – excellent for scratching anyone if I ever felt so inclined!

Stay happy 😊

Margaret.

 

Tuesday, 20 September 2022

The Queen's Funeral

Like so many around the world, we watched as BBC broadcast live the funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

It made for a late night – we never went to bed until 4.30am – but I am glad I was able to see this and feel like I was participating in some small way.

Margaret.






















Rest in Peace

Queen Elizabeth II

1926 - 2022


Monday, 19 September 2022

Heart Tonic Recipe

 

About six weeks ago I began making myself a Hawthorn Heart Tonic syrup (see Post HERE), but things happen and I soaked my berries longer than the required four weeks.  Apparently, that makes little difference to the potency of the tonic.

Today I finally bestirred myself and finished making the Tonic.




The full recipe, as I have made it, is as follows:

Place 150g dried hawthorn berries into a glass jar and cover with 2 cups brandy (I used 43% alcohol brandy).  Place lid on the jar, and leave the berries to soak for four weeks.  Check the brandy level after a couple of days of soaking, and if the berries are no longer covered add a little more brandy so that they are.  Give the jar a gentle shake each day – and be careful if your lid is not waterproof as the liquor stains fabric (as I discovered!).  

Strain the berries through a sieve, retaining the brandy liquor.  Place the berries into a large stainless steel saucepan and add 5 cups cold water.  Bring to the boil (uncovered), and then simmer for one hour.

Strain the berries through a jelly bag – I no longer own a jelly bag, so I left them to drain in the sieve until they were no longer dripping.  Do not use a blender or crush the seeds in any way as they contain a potential poison, Amygdalin (also found in the seeds of apricots, apples, peaches, cherries and plums).

Measure out the juice and return it to the saucepan.  I’m not entirely sure what I did (perhaps I simmered it too fast?) but there wasn’t much liquid, so I added boiling water to make the quantity up to one cup.

Bring to the boil and stir in the equivalent amount of white sugar (that is, one cup of sugar for each cup of juice).  Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved, then remove from the heat and leave it to cool down.

Add ¼ cup of the brandy liquor (which is now actually a “tincture”) to the syrup, and pour into a glass bottle.

Pour the remaining tincture into a different glass bottle (I carefully avoided using the ‘dregs’ and I presume it could be filtered through a coffee paper or similar if you wanted to).

Label both bottles.  The Hawthorn Tincture can be stored in a cool dry place (not the fridge) out of the light, and will keep indefinitely (it can also be used when soaking berries to make another batch of syrup).  Hawthorn Syrup will keep for around three months in the fridge, or longer if the bottle top has been sealed with wax.

USEAGE:

Of course, it goes without saying that I recommend anyone contemplating making this herbal remedy to obtain medical advice from a trusted health professional before using it.  Hawthorn has been acknowledged as a cardiac tonic for centuries and is generally regarded as a food more than a medicine as it does not build up in the body and cause toxicity issues, but it is always prudent to check things out first.

Like most herbal remedies, Hawthorn does take time to work.  It generally needs to be taken daily for 6-8 weeks before any noticeable difference occurs in blood pressure or cholesterol levels.

The dosage that I intend taking is one teaspoon of syrup in the morning and one teaspoon of tincture in the evening, but I have read that you can take up to half to one teaspoon of syrup three times a day, or half a teaspoon (2.5ml) of tincture three times a day.




Let’s hope it works!

A happy heart is good medicine and a joyful mind causes healing (Proverbs 17:22)

Margaret 😊

 


Friday, 16 September 2022

Rugby and Potatoes

 

I do like to watch a good rugby game, so sat up last night to watch the All Blacks play the Australian Wallabies in Melbourne (with the time difference, it never ended here until midnight).

I’m not sure I would call it a good game though.  There were several yellow cards for misdemeanours and a handful of injuries on both teams.

Then the game ended on a controversial note when the referee penalised the Wallabies for wasting time (he had previously warned them) and the All Blacks managed to use the situation to gain the winning try-score.




Notwithstanding being a little tired, I have still had a productive day today.  At the Hardware Store I purchased more potting mix and some seedlings, then drove across town to have morning tea with some relations, before coming home again and doing some work in the garden.

A few months ago, I purchased a small bag of gourmet potatoes at the supermarket because they contained some purple spuds – I have been trying to find purple spuds (often called Maori Potatoes) for a while now but they are hard to come by.

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) I forgot about the bag and when I “discovered” it again all the potatoes had sprouted. 

I have now taken the purple ones and planted them into a large pot, and with a little luck we may just get some potatoes off them.




I have not grown potatoes in a container before, and my intention is to cover them with potting mix in stages as they grow larger.

I heard the first shining cuckoo of the season this afternoon, so spring has definitely arrived.

Every day is a good day if you want it to be 😊

Margaret.

 

Wednesday, 14 September 2022

Cabbages

 

The good old humble cabbage is becoming a luxury vegetable!  Yesterday I paid $6.99 for a very small cabbage – and am determined that absolutely all of it will be eaten.

Our first meal from it was Cole Slaw – finely sliced cabbage with grated carrot and grated cheese.  I used to add finely chopped onion as well, but the Rats share what we eat and onion is not good for them.  I compromise by snipping up some spring onion and sprinkling that over the top of mine.

Cole Slaw goes best with a creamy dressing of some kind, but I often just use a sprinkle of olive oil instead.  Probably because I like my Cole Slaw to be fresh and crunchy – hubby used to like his after it had sat for 24 hours as he said the flavours mellowed together better.  Each to their own!




New Zealand Statistics have announced an overall increase in food prices of 8.3% for the year to August, led by a 15% increase in the price of fruit and vegetables and accompanied by big increases in the cost of eggs, meat, yoghurt and cheddar cheese.  No wonder our basic grocery shop has been getting more expensive!

The gloomiest part of their announcement was that there would be no change in the foreseeable future and prices may still rise further.

It makes one realise how dependant we are upon supermarket chains to provide for most of our food needs.  Perhaps it is time to return to the past a little – grow your own, preserve the excess, cook from scratch, eat seasonally, be thrift-conscious when buying things.  All things we used to do but have largely dropped in the name of convenience.

By the way, we ate the Cole Slaw with boiled potatoes and baked sausages.  Delicious!

Margaret 😊

 

Tuesday, 13 September 2022

A Dawn Chorus

 

I woke early this morning, around 5.50am, to the sound of a blackbird outside my window.  It was singing its little heart out, contributing to the Dawn Chorus as the world awoke to a new day.

What a wonderful way to wake up!

Years ago, living in the country, I used to be up and dressed by the time the sun rose – simply so I could sit outside in the garden and drink in the sound of all the birds singing.

The Dawn Chorus is one of the most beautiful sounds of nature, and I always find it a shame it doesn’t occur all year round – although, having said that, I probably appreciate it more because it is so seasonal.


This is me in 1997, watching for wild life at the beach


When out camping, it was interesting to hear the native birds singing along with the introduced ones.  The Chorus always began with the Bellbird, who would sing for some few minutes by itself before being slowly joined by other choristers. 

One of my enduring memories is hearing a Bellbird calling across an estuary at Abel Tasman National Park.  The sound seemed to reverberate around the small tree-lined bay, bouncing back and forth across the water like an echo.

Perhaps the Bellbird is a bird who likes to hear itself though, as once the music really gets underway it stops calling and sets off to look for some breakfast.

Have a happy day everyone 😊

Margaret.

 

Sunday, 11 September 2022

Daily Life Continues

 

History is like life.  It is never constant, always changing, and we have just witnessed a major change as one monarch passes and another takes the throne.

As with all historic events though, our daily life continues on.  We watch ceremonies broadcast live on television and read news reports to keep up to date, but all the while we continue on with our normal lives.

I found these lovely Spanish Bluebells growing almost wild on the lawn beneath a tree in a friend’s garden.




Son has a few things stored in a friend’s shed in Auckland, and he made a trip up there during the week and brought back my old coffee table.

It was given to me by my mother-in-law around 1985 and it was one of the items I found myself unable to dispose of when we moved into the caravan to live in 2008.

Son has had it in storage ever since then.  For all that, it is still in remarkably good condition although the top looks like it may need to be redone at some stage.

This is what it used to look like:




Wishing everyone a happy weekend,

Margaret 😊

 

Friday, 9 September 2022

The Queen Is Dead. Long Live The King.

 

I was very saddened when I got up this morning and discovered that Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, had peacefully passed away during our night.




My grandmother was born before the death of Queen Victoria and knew the reigns of five monarchs, but I have only ever known one.

Queen Elizabeth’s dedication to her work and devotion to duty as The Queen has been an incredible example to all who have examined her life, and she will be deeply mourned around the world.

King Charles III now sits upon this historic throne, and I pray he will be able to follow his mother’s example and become a great and much loved monarch.

 

 

You can shed tears that she is gone 

Or you can smile because she has lived.

You can close your eyes and pray that she’ll come back

Or you can open your eyes and see all she’s left.

Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her

Or you can be full of the love you shared.

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday

Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.

You can remember her and only that she’s gone

Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back

Or you can do what she’d want:

Smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

 


 

Wednesday, 7 September 2022

A Tranquil Spot

 

For my excursion out of the city this month I returned to Little Waipa Reserve on Lake Karapiro, a place I haven’t visited for some years.

The peace and calm while sitting in the sunshine watching the water flow by was so soothing and relaxing.  There were black swans and shags on the river, and I could hear a kingfisher calling on the opposite bank.  Perfect!




A lot of introduced aquatic weed is now growing in some of the quieter areas (like the far edge of this nearby river tributary), and there are signs up asking boaties to please clean their boats well to help stop the spread of some of these insidious weeds.




Freedom camping is allowed on the Reserve, and there is even a toilet and shower block available.

Part of the 103km long Waikato River Cycle Trail passes through here, and, looking at the map, some parts look like they would make for a challenging ride.




The road back home led past a house we lived in many years ago.  What a disappointment to see it now – some crazy person has gone through, fairly recently, and pollarded every single one of all the beautiful mature trees.  I doubt many of them will survive such wonton destruction, and it almost made me cry to see them.

Margaret 😊

 

Tuesday, 6 September 2022

Tommy's Tomato

 

After all of yesterday’s wet weather, today has been fine and sunny again.  The only thing to mar a beautiful day was the freezing cold southerly wind. 

There is a cold snap moving up the country.  It has snowed through much of the South Island and the central part of the North Island during the last 24 hours, hence the cold winds.

My little garden is hopeful it will be Madam Winter's last freezing blast before she turns her attentions to the other side of the world.




A friend recently gave me one of his tomato seedlings and I planted it into one of the buckets this morning.

My friend’s name is Tom – so, naturally, the tomato has been labelled Tommy’s Tomato.  It is one of the Sweet 100 varieties, with small tiny fruit, and should (if all goes well) be giving us tomatoes to eat by Christmas.




Tommy has a cloth thrown over him tonight as we are expecting freezing temperatures in the morning, and Jack Frost may not want to be nice to him!

Margaret 😊

 

Monday, 5 September 2022

Berry Muffins For My Son

 

The weather today has been wet and cold, but there was plenty for me to do indoors.  Son expressed a desire for some muffins so I whipped up a batch of these Berry Muffins just to keep him happy.

They are quite easy and don’t take very long to make, always a bonus in my book!




BERRY MUFFINS

Preheat oven to 180C and grease a 12-pan muffin tray.

In a large bowl, finely crush 6 Weetbix (wheat biscuits) and add 1 cup white flour, ¼ cup wholemeal flour, ½ cup white sugar, 2 tsp baking powder, and ½ tsp ground cinnamon.

Mix it all together, then add 1 cup of frozen raspberries and 1 cup of frozen blueberries.

In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 cup milk, 1 egg, and ¼ cup oil.

When the oven is hot enough, pour the milky mixture into the dry mixture and combine together (do not overmix or the muffins will be heavy).

Spoon evenly into the muffin tray and bake for 30 minutes or until cooked through.

Let them stand in the tray for 10 minutes before removing them to a cooling rack.




Rattle the Rat quite enjoys a little piece of muffin as well 😊

Margaret.

 

Sunday, 4 September 2022

A Forgotten Sketch

 

I was doing some cleaning up this morning, as you do, and found a watercolour sketch I began several months ago and had forgotten about.

It is in the Porters Pass area of the Southern Alps, a place I visited in the autumn of 2019.

I finished painting it, and looking at it brings a smile to my face as I remember the happiness of that day.




After all the rain we had last night, today has been fine and mostly sunny.  I sat in my garden for a time and nibbled on some of the spring onions that are growing – I quite like to pick a little bit off different herbs or plants and nibble at them while sitting in the sun and contemplating the world around me.

It is Monday again tomorrow.  I wonder what this week is going to bring?

May your day be a happy one 😊

Margaret.

 

Saturday, 3 September 2022

It's More Fun When You Win

 

Buckets of rain, streakers, a capacity crowd, and the All Blacks finally decisively win a test match.  We lost the series with Ireland and then last week against the Argentinian Pumas we lost 25 – 18.  Playing them again this week we won 53 – 3.  Our national rugby team has been having one of the worst seasons of their history, so it is nice to see them play like we expect them to play (rugby is our national game, and we put a lot of pressure on our teams to perform well).

The bonus for us was the game was being played at our local stadium here at Hamilton.  The rain set in late afternoon and has been steady since then and occasionally heavy as well.  If the temperature had been colder we might not have had play interrupted by a couple of naked streakers on the field!




Now we have the South Africa versus Australia game to watch live.  I’m expecting it will be another good game – it will need to be to keep me awake as it doesn’t finish (in the live broadcast we receive) until nearly midnight!

Cheers everyone 😊

Margaret.

 

Friday, 2 September 2022

Taitua Arboretum

 

Today was a balmy warm with lots of cloud cover – the perfect day to go walking and I thought I would visit the Arboretum on the outskirts of Hamilton.




It is over 20 years since I was last here – my experience of traipsing around in gumboots through long grass and trying not to step on frogs, led me to avoid visiting again.

However, the place has come a long way since then and pathways are numerous and well-formed. 




The trees first began being planted in the 1970s by a farming couple with a love of trees, and they donated it to the city in 1997.

Different areas are devoted to different trees, such as a Native area, a Conifer area, an American area etc.  I especially loved this circle of redwoods.




Chickens roam freely around the place and there are signs up asking people to please only feed them certain items (which were listed).




These ducks were also interested in being feed, but there was nothing to be had and they soon returned to the pond.




Some of the lower areas of the Arboretum are rather swampy.  This was where I turned around and began the trek back up to the carpark, as my strength has not yet fully restored.




Parts of the area are still farmed.  These steers were waiting to be fed their daily hay (they could hear the tractor approaching, and there was lots of mooing going on).




There were native birds around also, but they were too far away or too fast for me to be able to photograph them - kingfishers, fantails, lots of tuis, and grey warblers, but the highlight was a New Zealand Falcon (Falco novaeseelandiae in Latin, or Karearea in Maori).

I heard the call first (which folklore says foretells rain when the weather is fine as it was today), and then was lucky enough to see it as it flew among the trees searching for prey.

This photo was accessed at https://www.dreamstime.com/photos-images/karearea.html




I have a sneaky suspicion I may have sore legs tomorrow 😊

Margaret.