Saturday 31 December 2022

The Cost of Being Green


Here we are, on the last day of 2022, and fresh eggs have become a commodity that is increasingly difficult to find.  Supermarket shelves that were once overflowing with chicken eggs are now, more often than not, standing empty with not an egg in sight.

There are different stories floating around about why this is happening, but I read an article this morning that appeared to explain why.

From the start of 2023, retailers can no longer sell eggs that have been produced by battery-caged hens.  In 2012, legislation was passed to ban them and producers were given ten years to stop used battery cages. 

Today only 10% of our eggs are produced this way (compared with 86% in 2012), with most producers switching their practices to colony-cages, which allow the hen more room for roosting, scratching, nesting etc.  A few farmers took a more expensive route and switched to free-range or barn-produced eggs (just getting Resource Consent permission to do this can cost a lot).

There are two things that appear to have caused the current shortage.  One is the increasing cost of stock food (a lot of which used to be imported from Ukraine), and the other is a decision made by our two major supermarket chains.

In 2017 the Labour Party and Green Party both announced they were going to ban colony-cage eggs.  That ban was never put into place, but both the Foodstuffs and Countdown chains announced they would stop selling colony eggs by 2027 and 2025 respectively.

Egg producers have my sympathy – they must feel like the mat has been pulled out from under their feet.

In the last 18 months our national chicken numbers have decreased by 800,000 – that is a drop of 20% - as producers reduce the number of chickens they can farm or completely pull out of the industry.

I can see we will have to learn to live without too many eggs in our lives.  Importation is not an option as the risk is too great of introducing poultry diseases that are currently not found here.

Who would have thought that such a staple food item was going to become a luxury?

Margaret 😊


The photos are all of chickens (hens, chooks, whatever you want to call them) that have passed through my life at various times.


Thursday 29 December 2022

A Harvest of Haylage


My daughter has now gone home again and I am already missing her.  We farewelled her with this gorgeous sunset.

Behind our house is a large open area that has been set aside for a future road, and for the last couple of years the grass has been left to grow unchecked throughout summer.

Yesterday, however, a contractor appeared in the morning and mowed all the grass.  I thought perhaps they were going to make hay, but by lunchtime the tractor was back and rowing it up ready for baling.

Late afternoon it got baled, so it was obviously haylage they were making and not hay.

Haylage is made of wilted grass that is wrapped in several layers of plastic and left to ferment.  It is a sort of cross between hay (dried stalks of grass) and silage (chopped green grass left to ferment/pickle).

I adore the smell of new-mown grass drying in the sun, and have been enjoying the whiffs coming in the windows from the straw that was missed by the baler.

The scent is one of the things I love about summer 😊



Wednesday 28 December 2022

Books Read 2022


Back in January of this year I started a Book List to see how many books I would actually read during the year.

I thought I would probably read only about ten, but I see I have managed twenty-six.  Most of them are non-fiction and I know I have also browsed (as opposed to read) other factual books during the year.

So, all in all, I feel quite happy with my achievement 😊


For posterity, this is what I read:

Charlie Hammond’s Sketch Book by Christopher Fry (1980) (an illustrated journal)

Cowpats & Brickbats by D. Henshaw & G. McBride (2010) (rural tales)

Decorative Dolls’ Houses by Caroline Hamilton (1990) (doll houses)

Delights of a Fragrant Garden in New Zealand by Olive Dunn (1991) (herbal crafts)

Encore Provence by Peter Mayle (1999) (life adventure)

English Country Pubs by Derry Brabbs (1986) (illustrated history)

Glenshee, Glen of the Fairies by Antony M. Smith (2000) (stories of a Highland Glen)

Happy Sundays with the Bible and the Children by Charlotte Yonge (about 1898) (religious)

Heart Disease Prevention Manual by Allan and John Borushek (1987) (health)

How to Age in Place by Mary Languirand (2013) (retirement advice)

Lady Blanche Farm by Frances Parkinson Keyes (1940) (romance)

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie (1934) (murder mystery)

Old St Pauls by William Harrison Ainsworth (1841) (historical novel)

Puzzle for the Secret Seven by Enid Blyton (1958) (children’s adventure story)

Seasonal Home by Kristin Perers (1998) (interior decorating)

The Cherrys on Indoor Island by Will Scott (1958) (children’s fiction)

The ‘Darling Buds of May’ Book of the Seasons by H.E. Bates (1992) (nature)

The Labours of Hercules by Agatha Christie (1947) (short stories about crime)

The Mediterranean Diet by M. Cloutier & E. Adamson (2004) (health)

The River by Sue Miles (1984) (history of the Waikato River)

The Seven Dials Mystery by Agatha Christie (1929) (murder mystery)

The Victorian Nursery Book by Anthony and Peter Miall (1988) (Victorian era life)

The Zodiac Garden by Dorothy Hall (1994) (astrological herb gardens)

Victorian Entertaining by John C. Freeman (1989) (Victorian era life)

Victorian Keepsake by Allison Kyle Leopold (1991) (ephemera of Victorian love and romance)

Your Body’s Many Cries for Water by Dr. F. Batmanghelidi (2008) (health)


Saturday 24 December 2022

Merry Christmas


It is Christmas Eve here now.  We have been watching ‘The Hobbit’ trilogy this afternoon – a bit of a tradition with Son, who also likes to watch ‘The Lord of the Rings’ on Christmas Day.  He may not have time tomorrow, as we are all going to be together here for the first time in years (so looking forward to it).

Wishing all my readers and blogland friends a very Merry Christmas. 

Stay safe and be happy 😊



Friday 23 December 2022

High Tea For Two


As I stated in my last post, daughter and I have just spent a few days staying at Chateau Tongariro in central North Island.

They, like many other tourist operations at present, were very short of staff and unfortunately it showed a little in the food we were offered.  There was nothing wrong with it, but it didn’t really live up to our expectations of what we thought we should receive for the price we were paying.

We were still able to book in to have High Tea (fancy afternoon tea) one afternoon.  We had one table and another couple had another table, and together we enjoyed the views through this large picture window.

The event was slightly disappointing (once again, our expectations!).  There was nothing major wrong, just little things like being given a dinner fork instead of a cake fork and the waitress not being able to inform us what we had to eat (some of which was listed on the menu, but there were obvious substitutions as well).

However, it was to be the highlight of our visit and we had great fun pretending to be Ladies of Leisure.

I ordered Dilmah Earl Grey tea and daughter had Dilmah English Breakfast tea.  Both were leaf tea (thank goodness, no tea bags!) and we were given a teapot each.

We began our ‘meal’ with the sandwiches and tiny savouries, followed by the buttermilk scones with strawberry jam and cream.

The sweets course made a fitting end to our pleasant little treat.  (The sticks are yuzu lollipops)

Overall, our High Tea was an experience that I am glad to have had.  It was fun and something I would rather like to do again.  I can see I will have to do some research and see if anyone local offers such a treat.

I hope all your Christmas and holiday preparations are going well,

Margaret 😊


Thursday 22 December 2022

Chateau Tongariro


The Chateau Tongariro Hotel first opened for business in 1929 to encourage tourists and the skiing fraternity to visit Tongariro National Park.

For myself, the place has always held out the allure of mystery and luxury – a place well beyond my means to ever visit – so I was thrilled when daughter said she would treat me to a stay here.

At nearly 100 years old the hotel is showing signs of age, but effort has been made to keep the dΓ©cor very close to what it was when it opened. 

There is even 1930s music being broadcast through the public areas (I listened to one song speaking about an attractive girl the singer might have fancied, only she was wearing an odd pair of socks!!).

I spent some of my time sitting in the Ruapehu Lounge, people-watching and writing in my journal.

The weather was very erratic during our three-day visit.  We had misty rain, low cloud, a thunderstorm, and bright sunny weather.

Often the mountains were buried beneath thick cloud, so I was thrilled the first evening to be able to see Mount Ruapehu sitting up behind the Chateau in all her glory.

Mount Ngauruhoe sits off to a different side of the hotel, and this was a view of her from the hotel portico on the morning we left.

The beauty of these mountains is mingled with danger as this whole area is classed as actively volcanic.  Mount Ruapehu, for instance, last erupted in 2007, while Ngauruhoe has been relatively quiet since the mid-1970s.

The most recent eruption came from Mount Tongariro itself, in 2012 (seen at the back on the left side of this photo).

The danger never seems to stop anyone visiting the region, usually for enjoying the ski-fields or tramping one of the many trails to be found in this area.

I enjoyed fulfilling a long-held desire and simply loved being at the Chateau and seeing the mountains.

Margaret 😊


Sunday 18 December 2022

Off On Another Adventure


The last few days seem to have been extremely busy, catching up with family and friends and getting all my final shopping done.

I don’t want to go to the supermarket again until after Christmas!

My dear daughter is still with us.  She went for a trip down the South Island and has been making her way back up the country by train.

I will join her tomorrow at Chateau Tongariro in National Park.  It has always been a dream of mine to spend a night here in this historic old hotel, and I am so excited.

Chateau Tongariro in 2006

I hope all is going well for everybody (sorry I haven’t been able to visit many blogs lately).

Back at the end of the week 😊



Thursday 15 December 2022

Christmas at Woodlands


Just out of Hamilton is a small village called Gordonton, and just around the corner from there can be found the Woodlands Estate homestead.

Yesterday, a sister-and-law and myself headed out here to see their Christmas display.  I didn’t think it was quite as lavish as I remember seeing it several years ago, but we enjoyed ourselves wandering around the different rooms and looking at everything.

There were several Christmas trees of different sizes dotted throughout the various rooms.

The homestead was built in the 1870s and comes complete with a cellar and an indoor bathroom (not common in houses then).

I loved visiting the nursery, although the slanted ceiling meant I had to bend my head a couple of times (and I am definitely not a tall person!).

I’m sure, back in the day, this well-to-do family would have had much fun as they celebrated Christmas with all the trimmings.

The kitchen area had some model food on display.  I thought this cooked goose was rather cute (or is it a turkey?).

It was a lovely way to spend a morning and great to be able to catch up with this one of my sisters-in-law before Christmas.

Only ten days left to the Big Day, so I hope all your activities are going according to plan.

Margaret 😊

Postscript:  my apologies if I have created a misunderstanding with my post here.  It is one of those cases of different usage of language.  My daughter tells me toilets are often referred to in America as bathrooms, whereas we normally refer to them as a bathroom (containing shower and/or bath) and a toilet (or loo).  This house had a separate room with a bath (instead of just a bedroom wash basin), but the toilet was still outdoors.

Tuesday 13 December 2022

Mount Maunganui


Our few days away at Mt Maunganui were very relaxing and we are now home again.

The Pohutukawa were just beginning to flower – they are often known as the New Zealand Christmas Tree as they flower during December.

We got to do some walking the day we arrived.  I enjoyed watching the waves down on the beach and feeling the soft sand squishing through my toes.

This is what The Mount looks like from the beach.

We rented a cabin in the holiday park at the foot of The Mount.  It was reasonably full, but not nearly as busy as it will be when the Christmas/summer holiday period begins.

At the top of the holiday park there is a pretty view out over the neighbouring Pilot Bay harbour and the hot seawater pools.

The weather did not stay nice.  This was the view from our cabin window when it rained.

And this was the view when the sea fog came in the following morning.

We were on holiday so the weather was not a problem.  We shopped, we ate, we snoozed, we read books, it was just very relaxing.

This seagull visited us while we sat in the car eating an icecream while parked beside Salisbury Wharf.  I'm sure it wanted to share our treat!

On our way home, we stopped off to see McLaren Falls.  This was the first time I have seen them have so much water roaring its way down stream – usually the flow is little more than a trickle, being controlled by the nearby hydro-electricity station.

Further up the road is McLaren Falls Park and we stopped here to eat our picnic lunch.

The weather had been threatening rain most of our way home, and these gathering storm clouds near Lake Karapiro meant that it was raining when we arrived home in Hamilton.

Welcome home!

Sorry it has taken me a little while to get these posted.  Things have been rather hectic around here the last few days.

Margaret 😊


Wednesday 7 December 2022

Off To The Beach


The weather has been cloudy today, threatening rain.  The next few days are meant to be wet, maybe with a thunderstorm or two.

Perfect weather to go to the beach?  Not really, but daughter and I are heading off that way for a couple of days from tomorrow.

We are going to go to Mount Maunganui (roughly two hours from home), a well-known surfing spot and a popular place to be during the hottest days of summer. 

These photos were taken a few years ago, but I doubt if anything has changed very much.

Mount Maunganui sits on a promontory.  This is the Ocean Beach side.  

There are plenty of places we can go for a walk – along the ocean beach, around the harbour, up the Mount itself or around its base, and there is always town and lots of cafes to visit if we want.  Or maybe even a cruise on the harbour or a drive over to nearby Tauranga city. 

We will have lots of options, but most of the time I am happy to potter around on the beach or just sit and people watch.  It is to be a peaceful relaxing break so I am leaving my laptop at home and may even switch my phone off.

On the other side is Pilot Bay harbour, as well as Tauranga Wharf

One thing I am really looking forward to is going to sleep listening to the ocean waves.  I’ve not done that for a while and it is one thing I miss about no longer living next to the beach.

See you again when we return 😊




Tuesday 6 December 2022

Christmas Is Coming


Less than three weeks now until Christmas arrives.  Town is busy and summer-silly-season is getting into full swing.

Not only is Christmas on the horizon, but schools are ending for the year and the majority of people are getting ready to take their annual holidays.

I thought it was time to put up a few decorations and this was the result.  Not the most attractive of arrangements, but it sparkles and twinkles and makes the room look happier.

I also finished icing the Christmas Cake.  The almond icing went on first, followed by white royal icing.  I was going to make up some so I could do some decorating but decided it was much easier at this time to simply buy a packet or two of icing.

The icing got rolled out to the right size and lifted into place.  A few decorations were then added on top.  All I can say is I am thankful the cake is just for family eating – no need to put it on display as a perfect looking cake!

I have been teaching daughter how to drive on the “wrong” side of the road again.  It is coming back to her quite quickly – she is a good driver but it does take some adjustment to drive on the different side of the road than what you are used to.

Have a happy day 😊



Monday 5 December 2022

My Daughter Is Here!


What a thrilling day!  It is four years since I last saw my daughter, and this morning she flew into Auckland from Los Angeles to spend a few weeks with us.

I was up at 4.30am so I could drive up there and meet her (a 90 minute drive).  It is a few years since I was last at the International Airport and was glad there were two ushers directing traffic through the short (and extremely busy) public area.  You can only stop for a few minutes, just long enough to drop-off or pick-up a passenger.

Somehow or rather, I managed to get on the wrong road leaving the Airport (I arrived there safely enough), and we ended up going through a lot of streets I never recognised before we finally found our way back onto the Motorway.  We laughed about it!

Soon after leaving Auckland, we stopped at the Bombay Autobahn to get ourselves some breakfast and have some quiet time together.

I had a salmon and feta quiche followed by a custard tart and a hot chocolate.

We arrived home mid-morning and I don’t think we have stopped talking since!  Mittens was not very impressed to have a stranger in the house (she never is), but by this evening she is starting to come round.

It looks like it may be an early night tonight as we are both rather tired.

Tired but happy 😊



Sunday 4 December 2022

Ford Ranger Wins


Guess what?  The new Ford Ranger, released here last August, has won the Automobile Association (in association with Driven, a vehicle sales magazine) New Zealand Car of the Year Award for 2022.

It is a great looking vehicle and I am seeing lots more of them on our roads now.

Every one of these vehicles fails to meet the emission standards for a Clean Car, set by the Government, meaning that before you can register your vehicle you must pay a “fine” of between $1840 and $3910 (depending on which model you purchase).

The retail price of these vehicles ranges from just under $50,000 to just over $80,000, so they are not the cheapest vehicle to purchase.

What surprised me was that there were over 5000 standing orders for the vehicles before they were even released, and sales are continuing at a steady rate.

I am not an electric vehicle enthusiast, as they bring with them a whole new range of environmental issues, but fail to see why so many people need to have such a big gas-guzzling monster to get them from A to B.

Some farmers may have a need to own one, and I have no argument with that.  They require vehicles that can handle our rural roads and carry farm equipment when needed.  No problem, that is classic Form Follows Function usage.

What I take exception to is the number cruising around our city streets.  There are too many to all be farmers come to town for the day. 

These vehicles are big and take up a good portion of the road.  They often extend out of, or completely fill, city parking spaces.   Being a driver of a small car (Suzuki Swift), I find it quite unnerving to be passed by one of these being driven at speed.  You feel like they are pushing you off the road.

Perhaps my experience is the exception, and I have been coming across Road Bullies, or drivers who really don’t know how to properly control a large vehicle.  It certainly feels like they are being driven by more aggressive people than your normal farmer.

The Ford Ranger might look good, but so far it doesn’t get my vote for the most popular vehicle!

Margaret 😊


Saturday 3 December 2022

The Last Big Cake


My husband loved fruit cake and twice a year (once being Christmas, the other his birthday) I would cook up this big cake for him.

I had forgotten how big it actually was until I began gathering the ingredients together.

Since my hubby passed away I haven’t made a fruit cake, but this year our family will be together on Christmas for the first time in years and Son asked if I could make a cake.

No problems.  I still had the recipe.  I even had the large bowls and cake tin.  What I forgot was that I no longer possess the big food mixer I used to use.

Trying to make a large cake with a small hand-held cake mixer turned an enjoyable cooking session into one of jolly hard work!

That is why I won’t be making it again, not this recipe anyway.

This old ceramic bowl (below) used to belong to my grandmother and once I added the batter to mix it into the fruit, the bowl was full.

My arm struggled to mix it all!

What I really need to do is cut down the size of the recipe and make something smaller.  Why didn't I think of that in the first place?

The cake seldom got iced, unless it was for a special occasion like a twenty-first birthday party, but this time I thought I would do so (especially as the edges of the cooked cake are a little tatty looking!).

I have bought the Almond Icing already, but will make up my own Royal Icing to finish the cake and decorate it.

I’m hoping that icing the cake will be a fun activity and not a mammoth one!

Margaret 😊


Friday 2 December 2022

Tom Cat!


There is nothing guaranteed to make your heart start beating faster than waking up at 4.30am and hearing thumps and thuds happening out in the living room.

I went to investigate, thinking Millie must have caught a mouse and brought it inside.  But no!

I turned the light on and there was this ginger streak of a cat racing around the room, up the outside of the chimney, trying to climb a bookcase, knocking down the big television (thankfully it never damaged it), and then climbing the curtain and perching on the curtain rail glaring down at me.

I frantically called out to Son and he groggily joined me.  We opened both doors and tried to coax the cat out but it wasn’t having any of it.

Finally, after more racing around, it made it back to the cat door (which is behind my small television), but in its blind panic managed to wedge it shut before getting its body stuck between the TV cabinet and the wall.  It sat there growling while Son went outdoors and eventually managed to get the cat door open again.

A bit of prodding and poking, and the cat was backed up enough to reach the opening.  It was gone like a bullet – out the door, over the fence, and off into the darkness like its tail was on fire. 

From the smell of it, we are picking this was a Tom Cat (especially as this is kitten season).  It was well fed and definitely not feral, so belongs to someone although we didn’t recognise it as a neighbouring cat.

Hopefully it got such a fright that it will never ever want to come and visit this house again!

Where were our two cats all this time?  Mittens was hiding beneath my dressing table, and we later found Millie hiding beneath the deck.

The photo above is of Millie, sitting on my grocery bags and pretending she is invisible because she knows she is not meant to be there.

Margaret 😊


Thursday 1 December 2022

In Search of Big Things


One of the side interests in our recent road trip was looking out for Big Things to see and photograph.  The first we came across was a Takahe at Te Anau.

The takahe is a flightless critically-endangered native bird, once thought extinct, and the statue had been erected in recognition of the area’s contribution to takahe recovery efforts.

After some thirty years it has recently been lovingly restored and sits proudly on the waterfront, hopefully for many more years to come.

At Colac Bay, near Riverton, we found this huge Surfer.  He looks a bit like he has been out in the ocean too long!

A giant Paua Shell (4 metres tall) sits at the northern entrance to Riverton and celebrates the importance of the town’s paua fishery and souvenir industry.  It is lined with 1000 sheets of paua shell and featured on a stamp in 1998 as part of a series on icons of New Zealand towns.

The Umbrella sculpture in Invercargill was recently moved from its original position and is now to be seen as one drives along the southern end of Queens Drive.

It is quite an amazing sculpture as it doubles as a sundial as well as a star-finder.

When we visited Stirling Point Pilot Station at Bluff we discovered this dandelion seedhead sitting high above a private garden.  It even moved in the wind!

Driving through Dunedin in the pouring rain, I almost missed these giant Teeth/Molars.  I later looked them up – there are six of them and they are each around six feet high. 

The sculpture is called Harbour Mouth Molars and was created by Regan Gentry in 2010.

At Oamaru we revisited my favourite Penguin.  He has changed homes a couple of times over the years and currently sits looking out over Friendly Bay.

Just along the road from this limestone statue are real penguins – little Blue Penguins return to the colony here every night (they smell!).

I mentioned in my blog “From Oamaru to Christchurch” (28 November) that Riverstone Castle had a kitchen garden attached to it.  They grow very big Strawberries here!

This Spinning Wheel at Ashburton was erected in recognition of Ashford Handicrafts, a world leading manufacturer of spinning wheels, weaving looms, and other textile equipment.

Of all the Big Things we saw on this trip (I’m only showing what I feel are the best), my favourite would be this Silver Salmon at Rakaia. 

This sculpture reflects how well-known Rakaia has become for salmon fishing.  Chinook salmon, along with resident populations of brown trout and rainbow trout, have been present in local rivers for over 100 years since they were first introduced.

Big Things can be found in so many places if you are looking for them.  Some are famous and some are lucky finds, and many of them are transient, being here today and gone tomorrow.

Looking for them certainly adds another dimension to sightseeing. 

All good fun 😊


HEADER PHOTO December 2022

This month’s header photo is of Waipapa Point in The Catlins.  In our recent drive through here we did not visit this place as I had seen it in 2012 (when this photo was taken).

The lighthouse is around 10 minutes walk from the carpark, and we were fortunate enough to see both fur seals and a sealion basking on the beach when my husband and I visited.  I have lovely memories of this day.