Archive for August, 2011

65th Wedding Anniversary & Birthday

August 23, 2011

Wednesday 17th August

Today is Mum & Dad’s 65th wedding Anniversary and also Mums 85th birthday.   They made the headlines in the Otago Daily Times and you can read the article here.

Cards and letters were received from the Queen, Governor General, Prime Minister, Minister of Internal Affairs and the local Member of Parliament plus many family and friends.  We have celebrations planned for this weekend, but first of all, we must head to Dunedin to pick up Antony from the airport.  Over the next couple of days many more family and friends will be arriving.


Saturday 20th August

Today dawned as one of those magical North Otago days, brilliantly clear skies, and warm sunshine with no wind, and great views to the snow clad mountains in the distance.

Looking out from the house toward the west.

The menu was finalised, with many, many thanks to Jacky for her wise counsel and her hard working ethic we cooked, chopped, slashed and baked ready for the influx.  Yesterday, Steve and Les kindly picked up the scallops and crayfish along their way and Antony picked up fresh clams early this morning from Dunedin.   Chris was in charge of setting out the tables and chairs…indoors or outdoors?…with outdoors coming up trumps.

tablesThe front of the house with tables on the verandah

Tables set and ready to go

The stage was set for a glorious afternoon of good food, in a wonderful setting surrounded by family and friends.

The final menu choice was really what Mum & Dad like, namely seafood.   Final adjustments made, cooking done,  Leslie, Jacky & Bernice in the kitchen with many hands assisting with plating and zhooshing.

kitchenLeslie, Roy, Jacky and Chris

The men cooking, Roy Burnie and Steve


Many, many, thanks to Natalie, Sue, Chris, Roy, Steve and Ants and everyone else who assisted.   Very much a team effort.

The menu is here;

Hilda & Burnie Coatham

65th Wedding Anniversary

20th August 2011


To Start:

Seafood Bouillabaisse

with Blue Cod & Long Neck Clams

To follow:

Crayfish medallions

on Coconut & Lemon risotto cakes

with Hazelnut Mayonnaise


Barbequed Scallops

with Coriander & Lime Chilli butter


Glazed Havoc Ham on the bone

with pickles & mustards

Hot Smoked Mt Cook Salmon a la Burnie

with Horseradish sour cream sauce

accompanied by;

warm roast vegetable salad

Potato & prosciutto salad with green herb dressing

Roast Beetroot & Feta salad

Green salad leaves with black raspberry vinaigrette

Warm freshly baked bread rolls

To Finish:

Crème Caramel Flan

Hilda’s secret recipe Chocolate Cake

Fresh Fruit Platter

Over the Moon” Cheese Platter

Tea, coffee and chocolates

Over the next couple of hours we ate, talked and laughed.  Photos were taken, speeches made, stories told.

From one end …

… to the other


Ma and PaThe happy couple

Mum’s corsage, a good copy of the original from 65 years ago.



Mum, Dad and the children Hilary, Mike, Sue, Steve and Bernice. (John in absentia).



Front: Emma, Stuart, Toby, Kaye, Burnie, Hilda, Antony

Back: Richard, Natalie, Amy(obscured), Clive, Francis, Hilary, Mike, Jason, Ann, Renee, Sue, Roy, Bernice, Leslie, Steve, Rebekka, Jenna, Chris


Kaye, Chris, Jacky and Bill


Entertaining And Nan looking after the youngest members of the family

All in all a great weekend.

Thanks to all who made it such a great weekend and for making the effort to come and celebrate with us.

Last, but my no means least, a HUGE thank you to Helen and Don Newlands who allowed us to use their magnificent home for this celebration.  We could not have had a more perfect location and venue to celebrate such an occasion and we cannot thank you enough …..we now have just a few days to clean up before they return home!!

Across the ditch

August 14, 2011

Bright and early, well actually it was midnight, drove from Oamaru to Christchurch to catch the early plane to Brisbane.  A very long and boring drive as there was little traffic except for heavy lorries all the way.

Arrived in good time for check in for the 6:00 flight.  Managed to park the car in the correct place but then had a problem finding the “white box” to drop off the key.  With the new terminal actually encompassing some of the old, finding ones way around was a little problematic.  Keys dropped off it was then just a matter of waiting for the flight to get underway.

The flight was totally uneventful, slept almost all the way, lack of sleep in the preceding 24 hours may have had something to do with that.  Arrived in Brisbane early Tuesday morning.  Had been told previously to catch the train to Helensvale, hopped on the first train that came along, fortunately just in time to hear an announcement on the train that it was not in fact going down the coast but was only going to the outskirts of Brisbane.  Oh well hang around a little longer and catch the next one.

railThe busy train station at the airport.

After an hour and a half made it to Helensvale to be picked up by Karel.  Both of us had an afternoon nap, me because if the long day and Karel because she had just completed a night shift at the Hospital.  Apparently Sean’s (Karel’s son) partner Dee came round and she and Karel had a long afternoon natter, but I did not hear anything.  On arising I got the message that I had not called home to notify my arrival.  Oops!!!

Next day it was off to Surfers to meet up with some itinerant New Zealanders in the form of Bill and Estelle.  They happened to be staying in Surfers, relaxing in the sun and generally enjoying themselves. 

strays2Bill, Karel and Estelle

We all went for a stroll along Surfers beachfront and a general wander around the centre.


After leaving them we spent a quiet afternoon at home.

Next day it was off on a long walk to the nearest Mall for food and a visit to the Library.  Also a visit to one of the islands on the coast to look at how the other half lives (on Bill’s recommendation).  Spotted this mansion which was being sold in an unfinished state, obviously someone had run out of money to complete.

mansionKarel suggested we could buy it to retire to!!!

In the evening we went to Caroline and Dean’s (Karel’s daughter and husband) house for a barbeque and get together.  I had not seen Karel’s family for near 10 years.  So some I had never met as they were younger than 10 and others were only very small. 

ddscDee, Dean, Sean and Caroline.  This is a cheat as this photo was taken some time ago.  It is included as Sean was away up country building a shopping mall the whole time I was over.

7of7Caroline’s children Sophia, Sarah, Billie, Zac, Riki, Tim and Taylor  again an older photo.

    debs 367  Unfortunately Billie died of a brain tumour in July this year. 

4outof7 Tim and Becs with their son Rhyder with the three girls.  This one was taken at Caroline’s the night of the bbq!!

Of course Rhyder is Karel’s great grandson so from now Karel is known as Geegee

The rest of the week seemed to pass in a flash, time was spent walking long distances to Malls, resting at home out of the sun, and generally just relaxing, reminiscing and enjoying the company.

On Sunday Antony came down from Brisbane for a couple of days.  He was supposed to travel down by train but it was not to be as they were doing line maintenance and the trains were not running.  So a bus trip it was with the bus calling at every train station pretending to be a train.  After he arrived we went to Caroline’s so he could meet his cousins and the children whom he had not seen for 10 years. 

acdr Antony, Caroline, Dean and I

We spent an enjoyable few hours and the had to return home as Karel was off to work the night shift and needed her car.

After a quiet time at home on Monday, Antony working on an assignment and me doing Exposition work, in the evening Tim, Becs and Rhyder came to visit

kta   Karel, Tim, Becs, Rhyder and Antony

All too soon our visit was over, but before we left on the Tuesday Dee, Sean’s partner, came round to meet us.

dee Antony, Dee and me

As you can see there will be another grandchild very soon.

A friend picked Antony up and he went off agreeing to meet us at the train station later on.  So it was now time to leave.  Karel drove to the train station and we arrived early so took the opportunity to wander around.  Somewhat lost track of the time and ended up having to sprint to the station, arriving just in time to see the train pulling in.  Antony had arrived in the mean time and he went to purchase tickets.   He obviously has an effect on trains.  We were told that there was a problem further up the line and all trains were stopped there.  There was no indication on when the problem would be fixed.  As we both had planes to catch we could not take the risk of being late, so Karel decided to drive us to the Airport.  This we thought would be a tight run as the train would have taken about 90 minutes and we expected the car trip to take the same time.  So away we went.  And totally unexpectedly we arrived at the airport in 45 minutes.   No, it was not that Karel broke any speed limits, it was simply that the motorway system to Brisbane was very efficient and that looking at the time table for the train revealed that it took at least 40 minutes to traverse the city stopping at very station.

So we arrived in plenty of time.  Karel stayed with us until it was time for us to go to departure.  Fond farewells took place, along with suggestions that we must return next year, and Antony and I took our respective flights back to New Zealand.


August 12, 2011

Today marks the one year anniversary of our stepping onto the plane and flying off to London via Vancouver. And this week is Mum and Dads 65th wedding anniversary, plans are in place for a full on get together with family.

Roy WILL get round to putting together a note or two on his recent travels…..soon, he tells me!

25 years ago…….

August 9, 2011

Alexandra Kate Vannini was born. Hard to believe, where have the past 25 years gone? Although we have moved around the country a few times, travelled a few miles, played, holidayed, worked and achieved a fair bit. Alex has her own adventures and is living life to the fullest. You go girl!

The male member of this blog is supposed to be updating this with his travels to Oz, but it looks as though we will have to wait until he returns for the female member to gently coax him into action!

Meanwhile life on the farm is hectic – not. Everyday I wake up to a Graeme Sydney landscape view which is just delightful, and my new career as a “scenic inspector” is coming along nicely.

More news will follow.

One year ago…

August 2, 2011

One year ago today, We handed over the reigns of Pen-y-bryn to James and James. In some respects, it seems like much more than a year, but in other respects it just seems like yesterday. What a year it has been and what a lot we have achieved. And thank goodness for this blog, as we can look back through it all and remind ourselves just exactly what we have seen and done. Happy anniversary to us and to the Jameses.

To celebrate, on Saturday we were invited to Pen-y-bryn, along with Mike & Ann, for a celebratory dinner. We had a lovely evening with beautiful food, convivial company and finished with some lovely Vin de Noix (walnut wine) that James had made and recently decanted.

How are we celebrating on the day? Roy flew off to Australia early this morning for a weeks holiday to catch up with his sister Karel and her family. He had a very early start to get to the airport, as he had to leave Oamaru at midnight for his 6am flight from Christchurch. Antony will be joining Roy later in the week, well, Alex and I had mother daughter time so it seems fitting that the blokes have some father son time!!

Meanwhile back on the farm, I am happily relaxed here doing my own thing pottering about and looking forward to the next year. Who knows what we will get up to or where we will end up? Watch this space.