Friday, 21 July 2017

Mock Pecan Pie

I have been sick for 17 days. Today is the first day I have felt almost totally recovered. It is a massive relief. So, I decided to use a recipe which has been sitting on my desk for a month and bake a pie. It is supposedly one of those recipes adapted during rationing after WWII, but judging by the amount of sugar in it, I'm not sure where the "adaption" came in. After all, sugar was rationed for 9 years after the war finished in the UK! I think perhaps it is simply the substitution of oats for pecans.

Anyway, here it is. The main ingredients are wholegrain oats, eggs, butter, sugar and milk.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Birthday cards

I have always loved receiving birthday cards. It was a chief pleasure as a child to have a birthday card sent to me in the post. So much so that I didn't throw many of them away.

On my recent trip to the UK I managed to photograph a lot I had stored in the garage. I was amazed the memories, even to the extreme of remembering where I was when I opened the card and how I kept it safely in a drawer in my small bedroom. The styles are reminiscent of the 1950s even though many of them were given to me in the 1960s and early 1970s. Here are a few of the favourites.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

The sound of silence

I have a streaming cold, which I decided not to bless my colleagues with, so I am at home on a work day. I think I picked it up at a community meeting hubby and I attended on Sunday morning. There were over 300 people present, and several million germs it would appear.

The meeting was about a proposed motorway (called expressways here) which "may" be heading to our road or intersecting it, or running right over it. This inevitably has us very concerned. No decision will be taken on the route until February 2018, but looking at the topography of our area, it looks like we are slap bang in the middle of two of the options.

So there is a bit of grieving going on in our household, and many hundreds more in the area.

This morning, feeling a bit maudlin, I took myself and my sneezy nose down the driveway with a large mug of tea. Although it was minus 2 overnight, and still with a heavy frost on the lawns, in the sunny patches it was absolutely glorious. I happened to look above me as I ambled down the drive, and saw two very, very large Kereru (native wood pidgeon) sat on the branches of the cherry tree above me. They are glorious birds, larger than the European variety, and wearing an ivory white vest over jewel green wings. When they fly it is with a slow "schlooop schlooop, woosh, thud" kind of flight technique. Avian Harriers they ain't, more Lancaster bomber with engine failure.

It was such a privilege to stand and chat to them both with absolutely NO SOUND at all, save one of the highland cows next door chewing and crunching some grass.

I guess I will need to make the most of these moments.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Great Uncle Laurence's bear is travel sick

It is a very unglamorous way for him to travel; he is squashed in my flight bag, between a new blood pressure monitor, a mug from Harrods, a box of old photos and my cardigan. He must be uncomfortable, but I didn't want to trust him to the suitcase and sub zero temperatures in the hold. He is way too precious.

He is to be finally reunited with another ancient bear at Coneysthorpe who sits on a shelf in our long hallway. He was rescued and emigrated several years ago. The smaller mohair bear had somewhat mysterious origins. I think he may be my grandpa's bear, so we now have a representative from both sides of the Yorkshire family. It was about time they had each other's company. After all there's a lot to talk about now they are in the antipodes.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

The Groot Trek

I'm on my way back to the mountains after a month in the Northern Hemisphere. I am currently at Heathrow airport post the IT melt down of the last three days. It is eerily calm at Terminal 3, and I am very grateful not to be flying with British Airways to Hong Kong out of Terminal 5, which is rather living up to the description "Terminal"!

There have been many lovely moments in the month away, with mum and friends, and just enjoying the splendid countryside. Photos to follow, thanks for your patience.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Countdown mode

In four days I will be on a plane to the UK. After a horrible summer, the weather has now decided to be kind, and I find myself already wistful for these gloriously warm and dry days. So this morning I took myself off on a stroll down the road, to enjoy the scenery and creatures along the way. The story with the coos is that I saw one rather quizzical steer who stood and watched me for a long time. I approached the fence and had a bit of a chat. The next thing I knew, all of his mates, who until this point had been huddled under a distant tree, ran to join him. They were like giddy young puppies. I didn't think it was possible for cows to run and dance and kick. So, a dozen of them stood and we had a very one sided conversation.

The road continues to surprise me with the variety of wild flowers and birds. We have several resident kingfishers, pukeko and pheasants as well as ducks and geese.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Laundry and weather

We live in an ideal part of the country to dry laundry. We lack the maritime howling gales of Wellington, and rarely get sudden deluge type rainfall. Yesterday was an exception. It was glorious sunshine when I hung out the washing, and a few minutes later we had our own personal weather system in the specific direction of the woodpile and washing line. The compensation was the rainbow!

The rain meant that Mademoiselle Hunter was able to flush out a mouse and the little minx insisted on exhausting it by chasing it all over the wet grass. By the time she finally retrieved it, it was well marinaded from running on the sodden lawn.

Meanwhile, "large ginger" was content to play with various items under the secretaire.

He has been very subdued for about a week. He got into a horrible fight (his first real bust up) the night Cyclone Cook rolled through. We took him to the vet first thing on Saturday morning and he was covered with wounds, one of which, near his tail, had caused it to droop in a very alarming manner. He has the most unusual tail normally. It has the stiffness of a coat hanger, even when he slumbers, so to see 6.9 kgs of despondency moping around with a sagging tail was really sad. Happily, after three days it is almost back to normal and obediently curls up around anything it bumps against.

And as if to confirm that all was now right with the world, and the weather, we had a cat shaped cloud hovering over the house yesterday. Do you see it?

Monday, 10 April 2017

Tree dweller

We thought we had escaped the "cat that spends its life in trees" by avoiding acquiring a Norwegian Forest cat. It would seem that our ginger boy has one in his ancestry and is never happier than when he is running up a tree. He's such a show off.

For most of the day I have been sewing linings inside a pair of huge curtains. This necessitated moving furniture away from our long kitchen table. It didn't take long before THIS happened

He likes to keep an eye on the property, just to keep me safe. Lovely boy!

Friday, 7 April 2017


It has been a busy week. I would be more accurate if I said our nights have been busy, due to the superb hunting skills of our cats, and mostly our lady cat.

We have considered having a score board installed in the hallway:

Mice brought in
Mice killed
Mice brought in dead and dumped
Mice brought in and lost
Mice brought in, retrieved by humans and evicted.

This afternoon we realised we would need to add another category;

Mice deposited in shoe to be played with later.

Our ginger female has made mouse retrievable easier recently as she has become obsessed by inserting bewildered vermin inside various shoes in our hallway. As our bedroom is immediately off the hallway, and the door is directly opposite the shoes, I frequently hear her chirruping and playing with her evening companion. Large yoghurt pots are now strategically placed, with their lids, close to the shoes for the mouse to be tipped out and sealed in until one of us distracts the hunter and evicts the poor creature out of one of the windows. They live to be caught another day. Some of them choose to grip the shoe lining so as not to be chomped on. However, this is even more tantalising for our furry torturer, as the tail dangling amongst the laces gives her a real buzz. Chirruping becomes yowling interspersed with other deathly gurgles. Our house is nothing if not interesting!

Onto other busynesses. We are preparing for our imminent departure to the UK and Israel to visit a variety of elderly relatives. So far the evidence of this is a pile of seemingly unrelated items on the back bed, ready to be packed, and various diversions I have put in place to keep myself sane and avoid the inevitable (packing, organising things for the house/cat sitter etc). One of those diversions was today, I went to a fabric sale. I need more fabric like the Pacific Ocean needs more water. Open any cupboard or drawer in our house and there is likely to be a neatly folded piece of retro fabric waiting to be made into something.

The next diversion is a deep dish pie with celery, onions, mushrooms, potato, kumara and corned beef. The before shot minus pastry lid.

Diversion number three just showed up. Two cats on the desk, fighting for the woollen mat with a view of the driveway. Tabby cat with only 3mg of courage to his name is hiding from our resident pheasant. The desk gives him a cats eye view of the bird.