Archive for December, 2012


December 30, 2012

Well it is that time of year again when the Man in Red entertains all in the household, bringing gifts, food, over indulging, joy and smiles to face, particularly children’s.

Being in Auckland this year allows us to join members of our family and extended family together for the first time in some years.

However before Xmas we had the good fortune to meet the people who had recently bought our house in Cromwell Street.  They have just reroofed and are having the whole place repainted and have made a number of modifications to the interior.  We were given a great tour of the house and grounds.

One thing that has changed substantially since we left was  the size of the Avocado tree we planted in memory of Patches the children’s kitten.  It is now over four metres tall and very prolific.  The Avocado below was given to us to show the size of fruit that was being produced.


Xmas day was spent at Bernice’s niece Erin’s place out at Piha Beach on the West Coast.  The weather in the morning was rather wet and windy in the city but once we had crossed over to the West Coast we were somewhat sheltered and in fact the weather improved as the day went on.

Before leaving we had to open the presents at home.  This was done with due attention to ceremony with each person from youngest to oldest taking it in turns to open as present and show it before the next person was allowed to open theirs.  This caused some consternation among the younger persons present but as they had far more presents than the older persons they were soon satisfied.


Two of the elder “children” i.e. Roy and John, ended up with remote control helicopters for presents which led to a mini air show.  However there is quite some distance to go before they can be classified as competent pilots.

heli 2heli 3

John                                          Antony & Roy

jgmJohn, Jenny, Julie, Mike checking out their spoils

Out at Piha, we were right opposite the beach and surrounded by stunning Pohutakawas (NZ’s Xmas tree), we could watch the surfers do their thing form our vantage point on the deck.

pohutukawa flowerssurfer

But first a time for a bit of fun.  We were all asked to bring along a Secret Santa gift which were laid out on the table, we pulled numbers out of a hat to determine our position and then proceeded to take turns in choosing a gift before opening it and deciding whether to retain the gift or you could swap it with any one of the previously opened presents.  

xmas day 2xmas day 3

Secret Santa time

This caused much hilarity with the swapping of presents, a remote control helicopter was a very popular item and was swapped many times before the end of the game.

Of course there was plenty of food over the day which included a stunning piece of beef which was marinaded and BBQ’d, Ham, lots of lovely salads and vegetables.   There were cheeses and fruits to nibble on, plus a stunning salmon that Clive smoked in his new smoker!

cheese Cheeses & fruit

 Salmon santa

Smoked Salmon                              Strawberry Santa’s  

xmas day 1Eating our lunch on the deck

xmas day 4 xmas day 6

Big and little kids playing!

xmas day 5Water bomb slingshots!  

This Christmas was the first time in many many years that many of Bernice’s siblings have been together.  Here is Bernice with Steve, John and Mike.  The other two sisters, Sue & Hilary, were having Xmas together in Taupo.  One of these days we will all manage to get together for Xmas!

xmas day 9 xmas day 10

Of course that meant that our offspring were also together for the first time in many years.

 girls 2 Steve’s daughters

Sarah, Fran and Erin

cousiesBack row; Antony in middle with John’s daughters Jenny and Julie, front row; Sarah holding her youngest son Finn, Frances and Erin.

Sarah’s eldest son Ben holds the umbrella

girlsgirls 3 

Once he tires of that game, Erin takes over making sure that pregnant Fran is kept cool.

lady at leisure Fran getting comfortable

All in all a wonderful day spent with family and friends.  Mike, John, Julie, Jenny, Bernice, Roy and Antony returned to Mt Eden early evening as by that time we were all pretty well exhausted.  However, Antony had work later that evening….crime never sleeps!

Early Morning Wandering

December 30, 2012

Well this is just a short one as we are only just in the new week.  But while the mood strikes make the most of it.

The above was written about a week ago, but the post was never completed.  So here goes.

First some photos of Pukekos in the Western Springs Park outside the zoo.  They are very industrious when it comes to tearing up patches of the grassed areas around the lake.  They tear up tufts of the grass looking for the sweet roots which they then proceed to eat discarding the rest of the plant.   By the time they have finished the area of grass is devastated.

bird plough 2 bird plough

There are also some rather large eels in the stream that flows out of the Springs Lake.  They appear to ignore the adult ducks but would certainly enjoy young duckling.


Also beside the track that runs around the lake there are a number of sculptures the best of which is this one.



Besides Pukeko there are Geese with goslings, Hens with chickens, Ducks and Ducklings, Swans and cygnets. as well as a range of other water birds including Scoop, Shags and Seagulls

geesenot wild

young swans

There are also a large number of people exercising at 6:30 in the morning, running walking and biking.

On another early morning walk I managed to make my way to the Domain and spent some time around the Winter Gardens (which, of course, are closed at 6 in the morning). But there are a number of Flower beds of lilies providing colour. Each bed was planted in a different colour giving a massed display of blooms.

flower beds_thumb[1]yellow_thumb[3]


red lilly_thumb[1]yellow_thumb[1]

This sculpture is placed just below the Winter Gardens


Walking away from the Gardens I noticed this Pohutukawa in bloom and decided to have a closer look. From a distance it appeared to just be a low growing tree but closer inspection revealed otherwise.


The tree had at some time in the past split in two with both halves crashing to the ground. Fortunately instead of just cutting the whole tree out the ground staff had left it to its own devices. And as is typical of Pohutukawa it had formed secondary root systems where the branches had embedded in the soil and continued to grow.


Each side had formed its own structure but still remained attached to the original base. It is interesting to note the contortions that Pohutukawa tree branches form as they try to hold in the ground and grow upright at the same time. Old time boat builders were always on the lookout for curved branches that would provide suitably shaped bow and stern posts, as well as ribs for their boats.

p1_thumb[2] p2_thumb[2]

And as usual the beauty of the flower itself is a very suitable emblem.

flower pohutukawa_thumb

In the lead up to Christmas we seemed to have been kept busy what with one thing or another, however we did manage to make a trip down to Huntly to visit Roy’s Aunty Win.  She is 99 and has just moved into a retirement village.  She is still as sharp as a tack and physically agile and it was lovely to catch up with her. 

P1010483 Aunty Win and Roy

Another week in the big smoke

December 19, 2012

Yes that’s another one down, and what is to show for it?

This time some photos at least. 

Ah the benefits of exercise.  In early morning wandering it is amazing what one comes across.  Having shown a number of murals and mosaics in small towns I was wondering where they were in Auckland.  In fact they are everywhere but one must open ones eyes to see them.  Here are a few examples.

This one is at the entrance to the Crystal Palace in Mt Eden, an old Theatre, Dance Hall and Picture Theatre in its day. Well remembered (by some!) for Saturday night dances.


These two are part of a set of eight in the Grey Lynn shopping area.  They depict aspects of New Zealand life but also show images from the countries of the many different nationalities living in the area.

tiling 2 tiling

Then of course there is the multicoloured extravaganza of posters displayed in all sorts of odd places.  A lot of which would be hard to see unless one is on foot and peers around corners.


poster 4poster

And then there was this aptly named building in the Dominion Road shops.  A sign of the times and the changing ethnic mixture of residents in the area



On for a panoramic view of the area from the top of Mt Eden

Looking toward the city centre and in close up

city  city centre

That famous icon seen from the top

eden park

Then on Saturday we drove to Whakatane for the unveiling of Trish’s memorial

Gathered prior to the unveiling.


The memorial


Proceedings were observed from on high by some interested neighbours


And afterward at John’s shed

after 2

after 1

Back to Auckland in the evening and then on Sunday night we had the Okoroire team for dinner.  A great evening with a lot of reminiscing and tall tales getting longer.  Noticeable were the number of times when names of participants escaped memory, only to be brought to mind later with cries of “yes, that’s who I meant!” 

Of course no photos were taken at the time…..

However we did mange a photo of the entree, A ham terrine encased with cabbage and parsley which we served with a lovely baguette and a Brinjal Kasundi Pickle that Bernice had made last week.


The main was a standing rib of beef with a horseradish sour cream accompanied by a medley of roast vegetables, new potatoes and asparagus. Dessert was summer pudding, which we had planned to make utilising brioche however we could not find any so ended up using Challah.  And I must say it was delicious.  To end we had Panforte with coffee and port.  All in all, a great night.

A week of it

December 11, 2012

Another week has slipped by.  Just where does the time go? we are sure that there is someone out there winding the the clock a little faster.  Jacky left last Monday for the UK, although we envy the destination, we do not envy the thought of sitting on a plane for 27hrs or so.

This last week has been a week of getting ourselves sorted in the medical sense.  Monday it was off to the Doctor.  We managed to get in to our Dr from 15 years ago, Linda greeted us warmly and as we had her last appointments for the day we ended up catching up over the next hour, as well as getting prescriptions updated and annual tests etc sorted. 

Bernice headed off to the optician, and yes, back to the same optician from 15 years ago.  A full range of comprehensive tests done and we now await the new spectacles to arrive. The week was also made up of phsyio  appointments, xrays and blood tests.  Bernice’s ankles are getting sorted finally, hopefully the physio will be able to sort them out otherwise its a trip to an orthopaedic surgeon and we do not want that.

In between it has been catching up with friends and family. We missed the terrible storm that hit northern Auckland, we were in Eastern Auckland visiting Bill & Estelle when it struck and apart from a deluge of rain, we had no idea that other parts of the city were being damaged so severely.    Later that afternoon we ventured out to Manukau to pick up a BBQ Antony had bought as it would not fit in the boot of his car.  However, we did not count  on the traffic and spent the next goodness knows how long in a queue of traffic just trying to get onto the motorway south! Then there was the queue of slow moving traffic on the motorway, we eventually made it to Ants place in Papakura and set about putting together the BBQ.  You know, part A goes into part B with part C and use screws XY and Z. Oh, and it helps if you have a spanner and screwdriver.

We decided to stay for dinner and let the traffic sort itself out, Roy and I headed off to the supermarket to pick up some supplies for dinner.  Little did we know that Papakura New World Supermarket was having its Christmas specials night.  We were greeted at the entrance with samples of Bubbly, sliders, dips and nibbles to savour as we wandered around the aisles.  Once inside there were staff in every aisle giving out samples of products such as small bottles of rice bran oil, tasty mince pies, chocolate covered fruits and nuts, sweets and….the list goes on.  Over the loudspeaker we hear “if anyone can answer the following question, find the manager and you will receive a prize”.  The question?  What do windscreen wipers, body armour, laser printers and fire escapes have in common?   Off we raced to find the manager, gave him our answer………and received as our reward -  a 3m cantilevered sun umbrella!!! Can we fit it in the car ? we will make it fit.   Guess what someone is getting for a Xmas present?  Oh, and the answer to the question?  They were all invented by women.  All those years of quizzing has had some useful purpose.

Friday afternoon and we headed back out to Papakura for dinner at Ants, cooked on the new BBQ.  It was great to meet his 2 flatmates and some of his work colleagues, a very pleasant evening was had.  The weekends seem to roll around very quickly, we managed to get a few minor bits of shopping done and spent Sunday with Steve, Leslie, Sarah and family. 

Another week, Monday rolls round and its back to physio for Bernice for another session.  Planning is well in place for a dinner we are hosting this Sunday however, as we are off to Whakatane for the day on Saturday for sister-in-law Trish’s headstone unveiling, I have to be super organised…..this from someone who alphabetises her pantry and colour co-ordinates her knitting wool supplies! Yes, mission control, we will have lift off on schedule.  

Onto the Big Smoke

December 8, 2012

The best laid plans always go awry, or so they say, and we can confirm it is true.  We arrived in Putaruru on Monday in time to pick up Sue from work to go home for lunch and then spent the rest of the afternoon checking out the sights of Putaruru.  Including the sampling of cheeses at Over the Moon which we ended up taking a fair few samples away with us.   We had a lovely evening with Sue & Jeff and had planned to leave Tuesday morning to catch up with a cousin of Roy’s, and this is where plans went slightly awry.  I am not sure that it is a great idea to leave to blokes to coordinate times and dates, however, we did not leave town until much later in the day and re arranged a meet up time.  It meant that I could go into town and wait for Sue, again to take her home for lunch before setting off.  

We eventually left mid afternoon and headed to Hamilton where we went to Wade & Lindsay’s and caught up with them.  It is just fantastic to meet up with friends after not seeing each other for a few years, and just instantly pick up where we left off. 

Wednesday morning and we headed off toward Auckland, however not before a debate or two on the best way to go, the impartial one won out in the end – Tomtom!

We arrived at Jacky and Chris’ in Mt Eden by lunch time, ready to relax into our role of house sitting.  Although Jacky does not leave until Monday, and Chris next week, again it is just so nice to slip into our old friendship and carry off where we left off.  Jacky & Chris live opposite our old house so it is familiar territory for us.  Son Antony came round in the afternoon and it was so nice to see him again and catch up with his news. 

Thursday and we head off to Papakura to visit Antony in his new flat. His flat is very nice and he is obviously very happy with life both at home and his work with the Police. We headed out to partake in a little retail therapy.

Friday and its time for a WOF (warrant of fitness) for the RAV so most of the day is taken up with sorting that out.  Ants came and spent most of the afternoon with us as well.

Saturday and we head on up to Torbay to catch up with brother Steve, wife Leslie and families.  We spent a lovely day, talking, catching up and doing a little retail therapy, then the blokes headed off for a quick trip up to Mahurangi to scope out launching spots for Steve’s boat as he was heading out fishing Sunday morning.  We joined Steve & Les for dinner and to wile away the evening. 

Sunday and we headed round to Roy’s son Simon and his wife Anita’s for lunch and to have a look through their lovely home in Epsom.  They are both lawyers and obviously are enjoying their busy lives.


OOps, just found this, must have forgotten to post it!