Friday, July 20, 2018


Hi there

What!  I've got visitors coming this afternoon?  Oh dear.

I love my friends to bits but having them visit in one big swag is frightening.  If I was one if those women who shout, "Whoopee, visitors!  I can hardly wait to clean up the house for them," I would be ecstatic.  But I hate cleaning and that is why I almost live hermit status.  Who would choose to let visitors visit their  place to see dusty skirting boards, carpets that should have been vacuumed three weeks ago, non-essential papers strewn about, dull Venetian blinds, basins and sinks that could look more shiny,  a ring around the bath, a soapy shower-box, fingerprints on the fridge, and dust bunnies under the beds (everyone knows that Unwritten Rule No 2 When Visiting is to peer under the beds).

Well, I certainly wouldn't want visitors to visit if I had a place like that.  Oh, wait I do have a place like that!  Again, oh dear...

 In my bathroom vanity, in all three drawers, reaching about four layers high, and in no particular shoved-in order, there are explosions of jars, combs, emery boards, pegs, soaps, cotton wool, bandages, plasters, safety pins, brushes,  perfumes, powders and lipsticks.   Unwritten Rule No 1 When Visiting is to always, without exception, open every drawer and cupboard in a bathroom.  Have I said "Oh dear" before?  If not, I'll scream it now.

This morning, I am going to be busy.  Obviously, for hours.  With bucket, mop and duster.  And vacuum cleaner.  And empty rubbish bags.  And coughing and sneezing and wearing one of those masks that builders wear.  I got tested by an allergy company a few years' back and I have an allergy to cleaning - yes,yes, I know a lot of us feel allergic to cleaning in a completely emotional way but I am actually allergic to household cleaning products, as well as dust.  The gods are so cruel -


PS:  two hours before my visitors were due to arrive,  my vacuum cleaner finally gave up the ghost.  I had to run out and buy a new one.  The afternoon went as, well as could be expected.

Friday, July 13, 2018


Hi there

 The pulled muscle in my side is gradually getting better.  I went to the gym last week vowing not to twist my body.  The instructor gave us some twisting stretches and I automatically twisted.   I felt my side pull sore again.  Darn.

Anyway I went for a stroll around the bays to Oriental Bay.  Usually I walk over the Hataitai hill to get there, but the wind was in the right direction, the sun was out, I was in a happy mood ...

In between NIWA (the reseach station for all things aqua) and Balaena Bay I passed a short path close to the water's edge that has been blessed as an official dog walk.  There's always been a 'Woof woof ruff ruff' notice on the fence but now there is another sign that reads "Dogs are like potato crisps.  It's hard to have just one".  Obviously a dog lover set the sign there -

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Supermarket Shopping, it's a reach

Hi there

Two weeks ago, I was looking for a certain something in Countdown Supermarket, Kilbirnie.  Everyone, of course, knows that when you're on a diet, oven wedges are essential to a healthy way of living!

The bag of wedges were in one of those long low-down lean-across fridges. The wedges were at the very back.  There were only two bags left which would necessitate me not only reaching across the fridge, but I would have to reach down as well.

"Uhhhh-!"  Nope, I was too short to do the deed.

I tried again.  My fingers were tantalisingly close to the prize.   I tried one last time, but still couldn't reach the wedges.  There was no-one around to help me.

So, I gave up and walked away.  I got as far as the processed cheeses and turned back.  I wasn't going to be beaten.  This challenge  was there to be won.

With a huge effort - my feet actually lifted off the ground for a second or two - I pushed myself across that fridge and with a gigantic Olympic-type-gold-medal reach, I grabbed at the bag of  wedges.

There was a sudden explosion in my left side.  It was as if all my innards were being rammed in different directions.

I fell back in pain, clawing at my side, and silently screaming a very naughty word.  I can only hope that Countdown staff don't accumulate all their unusual customer videos in a compilation and show them at their staff Christmas party to the accompaniment of  jaunty circus music??

The outcome?  I had to go to the doctor, was given a truckload of pills, and told not to do the twist for a few weeks.  Cold sea swimming was good, providing I did breast-stroke.

A note of warning to height-challenged shoppers:  beware of tantalising wedges in supermarket fridges ....

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Government House tour, Wellington, New Zealand

Hi there

On one day a year, Government House, the home of the Governor-General of New Zealand (the officially non-political  representative of the Queen) is open to the public.  People queue for hours, like a long snake weaving down the driveway, almost to the main street.

What I didn't know until a couple of weeks ago was that anyone can go on a guided tour of the building.  You only have to book in advance (see link above; it might work!).  I went with a group from my gym class - about a dozen of us.  Solo snoopers can enjoy the tour too!   All are security-checked in advance.

The stories told by our guide about the history of the house, the previous governors-general, the china, furniture, paintings were so interesting, and some stories were quite funny. Many of the paintings are rotated from Te Papa Museum or other galleries;  a GG often picks the paintings she/he would temporarily like for the house. The Governor-General has her private rooms upstairs but, naturally we didn't go up there.

I did find out that if New Zealanders have, say, a 50th wedding anniversary or a one hundredth birthday coming up then they should just fill in a form to get official recognition.

below:  back view of Government House. After going through security and iron gates we entered via  this way into the house.  Tradesmen's entrance?

below: the 'throne" room.  Investitures, balls ,cocktail parties take place in here.  They've tried to keep the decor as it was from the beginning.

below: part of a reception room
 below:  a painted screen.  I think, but I'm not sure, it was painted by war artist Peter McIntyre.  A past Governor-General was sad he couldn't see Wellington Harbour from Goverment House so he asked for a screen to be painted.  One side is a day view of the harbour and the other side, a night view.  The screen would be turned around depending on whether it was daytime or nighttme.

below: a very small section of the grounds

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?