Thursday, June 21, 2018

Shortest Day Swim at Hataitai Beach

Hi there

Today, in New Zealand, it is Thursday 21 June, The Shortest Day. 

The Young One, J, and I managed to rope in about ten other mad-cough-cough-I--mean-'brave' swimmers to accompany us on the shortest day winter swim.  The air temperature was 8c when we got in the water.

It was cold, and the water was choppy.  There was a magnificent rainbow over the beach, some sirens (celebrating our  shortest day victory, naturally!), and as a fire engine driver passed the beach he gave us a couple of toots.

Below:  a pic of some of the mid-winter  swimmers entering the water at Hataitai Beach, Wellington, New Zealand, 21 June 2018.

Photo taken by J's personal paparazzi.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Tui in my Kowhai Tree

Hi there

When I bought my native kowhai from the gardening place about twenty years ago I was assured that it was a dwarf plant.  This hasn't really been the case.  The branches are up to my guttering and overhanging into my neightbours' property.

Now, for my two overseas readers, I must explain that the kowhai has the most beautiful yellow tubular-like flowers ever, and the New Zealand tui bird absolutely lives for gathering its nectar.  For the past week or so a tui has flitted backwards and forwards between a tv aerial on the house across the road and my kowhai bush.  The bird has been singing its little heart out with joy. Tuis   only come to my kowhai during flowering times, about once a year.

But, I had decided to chop some branches.  I didn't think I could wait until the tree stopped flowering in another week or two because the falling flowers were leaving a mess.

So I put on my hiking boots, rolled up the legs of my fleecy trouser pants, donned my thickest sweater, slipped on gardening gloves and, armed with two tree loppers, a rusty saw and some pruning shears, I marched across my muddy front lawn.  The tui was sitting on its usual aerial, singing away.

I was halfway through sawing my first branch when that darned bird dive-bombed me!

I guess I know what it's like.  If someone tried to block me from eating Bluff oysters in April and May, the only time of the year such oysters can be got, I would feel like dive-bombing someone too.

So it's one point to the tui, nil for Lorraine-who-doesn't-have-the-heart-to deprive an antsy little bird of his once a year treat.

above:  my kowhai tree, plus the aerial.  below, my tui

Friday, June 8, 2018

I'm in love

Hi there

I never thought I'd fall so deeply in love at first sight.  Whooossh!  Love hit like a sledge-hammer. I marched straight up to the girl, all set to declare my adoration -

"I want this shoulder bag," I said.  I passed the bag, lovingly, across the counter at Strandbags, and pulled out my credit card.

Normally, when buying accessories I will dither over price, colour, size.  I might even go home and think about a would-be purchase, but this day I didn't hesitate.  My eyes landed on the shoulder-bag and my heart lurched. Black leather and satin, and splashes of green and pink; I was trembling as I picked the bag up from its shelf.  I had to have it whatever the price.

The bag was $50.  Who says you can't buy true love?

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Queen 's Birthday Weekend

Hi there

This is Queen 's Birthday Weekend here in New Zealand and it's a public holiday on Monday.  A lot of adverts on tv or radio are somehow managing to incorporate the queen, corgis, tiaras, or palaces into their sales pitches.

I was listening to NewstalkZB radio and a young man asked if when Charles made it to the throne would the date be moved to fit in with his birthday and, surely, it wouldn't turn into King 's Birthday Weekend, which, to this caller, sounded so weird?

 I remember as a kid, under the reign of George the 6th, we did have King's Birthday Weekend.  When Elzabeth took over, the title of Queen 's Birthday Weekend sounded so unusual to me for a time.  We'll quickly get used to a new monarch.

It is the official date to celebrate the monarch's birthday regardless of the real date.

Lots will change when Charles takes the throne.  The English National Anthem will become "God Save the King", our coins will be minted showing his profile, and instead of ER on commemorative stuff,  it will read CR.  One of the Queen 's official titles is "Queen of New Zealand" which I suppose means that Charles will get a makeover title when it's his turn to reign.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

That Royal Wedding

Hi there

I have two friends in different parts of England and both of them were rather so-so about the royal wedding.

Yet friends in Canada and Australia are dyed in the wool royal wedding fans.  The same goes for a fantastically high number of people in other countries, even if they aren't in the Commonwealth.

I watched every second of the wedding. It started here, in New Zealand at 11 pm on the Saturday night. The day before, there'd been a royal high tea at my gym.  Everybody had to wear hats.  The room was decorated with bunting.

During the actual wedding there were raucous house parties everywhere up and down the country.  Lots of gentlemen called into radio talkback to complain about the hoo-ha.  But I compare it all to the long build-up to a test rugby match which can go on for weeks, culminating in just two hours of play.  So pot, kettle, gentlemen?

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Lord of the Rings Plane

Hi there

It's a long time since "The Lord of the Rings" movies put New Zealand on the map.  I remember when publicity came out for the movies, I was ambling through The Cutting (the entrance way to Miramar, just beyond the Miramar Wharf).   I looked up at an Air New Zealand plane appoaching the airport runway, and flying low.

On the side of the plane, from top to toe, were pictures from the Lord of the Rings movie.  There was Legolas and Frodo, and many great scenes.

I was at Queenstown Airport recently and in a glass case beside the cafe was a replica of The Hobbit plane.  It brought back memories.

It's a crumby photo and I took it into the light, but if ever you're at Queenstown Airport, you'll know to hunt for it.

Friday, May 11, 2018

outdoor markets

Hi there

Whilst I was ambling around the Queen Victoria night and day markets in Melbourne, it got me thinking about other markets I'd been to.  Great successes and abject failures.

Some New Zealand markets consist of only half a dozen stalls selling limp fruit and $2 shop products.  Other markets, like the Martinborough February and March country fairs, have hundreds of stalls selling everything short of escorts and elephants.  When I'm driving around the North Island on a Saturday or Sunday, I often chance across small markets.

The town of Taupo is beside Lake Taupo in the middle of the North Island and has quite a vibrant Saturday market;  knick-knacks, vegetables and fruit, hot food, cup cakes (yum), soaps, garden stuff, and, you know, the usual sort of market sales. They've added a trash 'n' treasure area, which is sort of a car boot fair.  And every year, on one Saturday per month except winter, there is an artists market on a lawn between the lake and the town's main restaurant area.

Here's a pic of the sit-down area at Taupo market.  They obviously have a stylist.