Archive for the ‘birthday’ Category

Getting saucy

May 25, 2020

After purchasing a load of veggies at the market garden, it was time to deal with them. Over the next few days pickles, chutneys, relishes and sauces were made, bottled labeled and stored.

Veg chopped and brined ready to make Giadineiri

Bottled, ready to store

Peppers being chopped for pepper jelly, delicious with cheese! Note my handy and effective little chopper on the left that is operated by pulling the handle, a bargain at $5 from KMart and it works brilliantly.

Sauce in the making. Note that I use my trusty old mouli to blend the sauce as if you use a processor or blender, it tends to chop the tomato seeds which can make the sauce bitter. It also successfully removes the skins. And from one large preserving pan, there is about half a cup of skins & seeds leftover.

Bottled and lids put on. Then we wait for that most satisfying sound, the sound of lids ‘popping’, meaning that they have all sealed.

Labelled ready to put away

In between, we had a few visitors as well. First were the rangers as Frankie was celebrating her birthday so they came for morning tea dressed appropriately including wig, crown and feather boas for the birthday girl. The rest of us had ‘lovely’ party hats.

Rae, Emma, Frankie and Bruce (Steve hiding around the corner). Frankie all dressed up for the occasion

Friends John & Sarah came out to visit as well and it was lovely to catch up on their news.

Sarah Roy and John enjoying the sunshine outside their motorhome

And a blog wouldn’t be complete without a picture of this gorgeous wee man

Growing up all too quickly.

A birthday and some good news

April 23, 2020

Roy celebrated a milestone birthday the other day, I say celebrated, but in our bubble of two it was a sort of a celebration.

I made him a cake, his favourite cake that my Mum used to make for him, a chocolate orange drizzle cake.

Yes, I even found a couple of candles to go on the top

Extra concentration is required!

The day passed with lots of messages, phone calls, texts and video calls before we had his birthday dinner, finishing it off with a slice of cake of course. Although Roy could partake of a tipple, I am still under an alcohol ban, but perhaps one of these days we will be able to raise a glass or two together.

Celebrations this year were to have taken place in London however we all know now that that wasn’t going to happen this year what with one thing or another. We are forever hopeful that we may be able to postpone those celebrations, however long it takes.

Today was a momentous day, I had to travel 60kms each way to Greenlane Hospital to have my knee checkup and also to have my PICC line removed. We were there in plenty of time, and with only 5 other people on the huge waiting area I thought that I would be out of there pretty swiftly. But oh no, they were running late with appointments, so instead of my scheduled 10.15am appointment, I finally went in at 12 midday. Meanwhile, Roy was waiting in the car but I had to send him off as we had made appointments with our GP not too far away from Greenlane, to have our flu shots. Never mind, I’ll get mine another day. Anyway, the news was good, everything is looking good, apparently the blood tests are all looking fantastic and in particular the test that measures infection and inflammation went from 422 (when I was first admitted to hospital) down to 13 now. Normal range is under 5 apparently, so a little way to go but as I have arthritis that may account for a slightly higher reading.

Now I am on oral antibiotics for the next 6 weeks which will be reviewed in a months time when I go for my next checkup.

So it was a quick checkup, and then I was to wait to have my PICC line removed. Nurses in the orthopaedic department are not allowed to remove the line so I had to wait for the specialist nurse to come and do it. I will not go into detail, except to say that the removal of the external clip with the hook shaped wires embedded in my arm to keep it in place hurt one helluva lot. The line itself was totally painless and didn’t feel a thing as it was removed.

So the positives that I take out of having this line removed today are;

    No more wrapping my arm in plastic and taping the plastic in place to have a shower
    No more remembering to pick up the bottle and line in the middle of the night when I want to go to the loo
    No more waking up to be able to turn over in bed and shift everything to the right position, then try and get comfortable again
    Being able to lift my arm up above my head….think washing hair, hanging out washing, etc etc

Don’t get me wrong though, I am forever grateful that there are such amazing things as PICC lines and infusor bottles otherwise I would have had to spend the last 5 1/2 weeks in hospital having the antibiotics being injected through a lure every 4 hours. Not my idea of fun.

In fact looking at the overall picture, the timing really couldn’t have been better for this whole episode, as my recovery at home has lined up with the lockdown for Covid-19. I have managed to rest as much as possible and we have been happily locked away on our bubble of two. And Roy too was very fortunate to have had his colonoscopy done the same day as my surgery, as all those procedures were subsequently cancelled due to the pandemic.

Onwards and upwards now, we just have to hope that a vaccination will be forthcoming and we can return to some semblance of a new normality and we can get to go and play with this gorgeous young man.

Easter Bunny is busy

April 14, 2020

Easter Monday – Happy birthday Antony – and the Bunny has been busy again. I had to go and get dressings changed with the District Nurses and following that I then had to have blood tests and being a public holiday aka bank holiday, we had to travel 37kms each way to the nearest open lab test facility. The good thing though was that the motorway was nigh on empty.

Empty motorway

On our return journey we had arranged to pick up some lettuce seedlings from some friends, all whilst observing the appropriate social distancing of course. We arrived at their house where they greeted us from their front door, a bag containing the seedlings had been placed on their driveway in front of the garage. We collected the bag, exchanged pleasantries from the required distance before continuing on our return journey.

It wasn’t until we had returned to the van that I could see what was inside the bag….


Not only was there the lettuce seedlings but also rocket seedlings. Then there was a selection of seeds including, carrot, broccoli, lettuce and spinach along with a bag of feijoas, some fresh chillies, fresh herbs and giant spring onions/baby leeks. Lucky us, I shall plant them out once the weather settles again in a day or so.

Speaking of weather, we are supposed to get lots of wind and rain over the next day or two, it seems forever since we’ve had any appreciable rain and the ground is very dry with large cracks appearing everywhere so any rain will be welcomed.

Visits, visitors and a birthday

August 11, 2019

It’s hard to believe that just 10 years Alex arrived back in NZ bringing with her a new friend from the UK. Jennifer (aka Beanie) had not travelled at all before these two ventured on an epic trip through SE Asia then onto NZ. They joined us at Pen-y-bryn for a bit of a respite before continuing with their travels. We even went camping with the girls, joining them for a couple of days in Central Otago before we lent them our car and tent to continue on their trip around the South Island of NZ. So it was lovely to be told that Beanie was coming to visit us this week.

Beanie and Callum

It was fantastic to hear of her news and what she is up to these days. Beanie is a chef, she and Alex met when Alex worked at the Middle House in Mayfield when Alex first arrived in the UK. Beanie now works at an all girls school in the village, where she works 5 days a week with regular hours and no split shifts, and no stress!!! It’s so lovely that they still keep in touch and see each other occasionally and of course it was just lovely for us to see her again.

Roy and Ian were off to football that same evening so it was a girls dinner at home for us, and a very nice roast chicken with a pile of roast veges with a ratatouille to complete the meal. For those who are unaware, Roy doesn’t eat chicken so we take every opportunity to have our fill when he is not around!

We bade farewell to Beanie later that evening and look forward to seeing her again next time we are over.

The following day Roy and Barry (Ian’s Dad) went off to the Docklands Museum for a visit for which Roy assures me that he will write up a blog ….one of these days!! Meanwhile, Alex and I took ourselves off to Melucci’s in Bexley for lunch.

We both have double chins? Oh, I thought you said double gins!!!

Anyone for cake?

We had a lovely lunch, so much so that Roy & I are off there next week for dinner. Alex Callum & I had to sit in the cafe for a while after lunch as the heavens opened and it just poured with rain, and as we were catching the bus home, we didn’t fancy standing out in the rain getting soaked particularly as it is such a narrow road the gap between the shops, footpath, and road are all within a few feet of each other and there was a small river of water running down the road for the vehicles to go through and soak us even more. The rain soon passed and we were on our way. Even though Bexley is just a few short miles from home, we were surprised to get home to find that there was no evidence of any rain and the washing was dry on the line as well.

Later in the week Roy and I were meeting up with cousin Jackie & her husband Hossein in London for lunch as they were coming down from Milton Keynes for the Van Gogh exhibition at the Tate. Funnily enough it took us just as long to get into town from Erith as it did for them coming from Milton Keynes. We met at the OXO tower as we had a booking for lunch.

Oxo tower

The view over the Thames

Roy, Bernice and Hossein

Bernice, Jackie and Hossein

Fish sandwich for the girls and Pasta with mushrooms and hazenuts for the boys

After a lovely long lunch we bade our farewells before going on our separate journeys, our initial destination was the Borough Market for a quick visit.

Paella Paella Paella

Fish selection, and yes we did buy a gurnard

Friday also happened to be Alex’s birthday, so it was straight home to get dinner sorted for everyone. Fortunately I had done lots of prep the day before so there wasn’t much to do.

Birthday dinner L-R Alex, Ian Roy, Bernice, Vicki, Jen

Elaine getting in her cuddles

Birthday cake – dairy free!!

This was not the end of the celebrations though, the following night we went out for a family dinner in Bexleyheath with Ian’s family. We had a lovely dinner and it was great to catch up with everyone as well. Unfortunately I neglected to take any pictures, we were all far too busy talking and eating however I am sure that there will be another opportunity for a group photo soon.

Happy birthday & Easter

April 22, 2019

Another birthday rolls around, and as the number becomes larger we are forever grateful to know that the number is in fact increasing, much like the waistlines!

We left Matata DoC camp on Roy’s birthday, the Thursday before Easter and before Easter madness ensues with everyone out and about hoping to enjoy the last of the good weather. As well, this year the school holiday break is the week either side of Easter so it promised to be a busy old time, especially on the roads. We weren’t going far though, just a few kms down the road to John’s place just out of Whakatane. But first a slight detour to Edgecumbe to dump before we park up at John’s.

Here we are all parked up in relative peace and quiet on the driveway to the house surrounded by fields.

and as you can see, the weather is playing nicely too.

We celebrated Roy’s birthday with a nice rib eye steak for dinner with veg from the garden, all washed down with a Moët.

I really must teach you some decent plating skills John!!!


To finish off there was a Pedro Ximinez, a drink that we introduced to John & Jude some time ago, and one we all really enjoy. So much so that when we were in Spain just over a year ago we just had to make a special trip to Jerez and do a tasting or two.

this picture was taken in Jerez, at the Lustau Bodega where Roy and I enjoyed a very pleasant afternoon tasting 14 sherries, vermouth and Pedro. We came away feeling very happy I can assure you, just as well we were catching the train back to our accommodation in Seville.

A lovely end to another lovely day here in the very quiet surrounds of John’s 10 acre lifestyle block (more about the block in a later blog ).

Chum, the black lab, comes to visit us most mornings. As well as bringing a ball for us to throw he also bring us oranges from one of the many citrus trees lining the long driveway, he likes to eat them but can we peel it for him first…please?

Who could resist those big brown eyes??

Supporters shirt

April 29, 2018

Roy had a birthday recently and the lucky boy received a parcel in the mail from Alex & Ian containing not only some of his favourite chocolate, but a shirt. Not any sort of shirt mind you, no, indeed it was a Welling United football shirt.

Now I should explain here first of all that football is known everywhere in the world as football, apart from NZ and the USA where it is known as soccer. Mention football in NZ and people will automatically presume you mean rugby, that is rugby union not rugby league. Confused yet?

Back to the shirt.

here is Roy modelling the said shirt holding a sign we made.

When we were staying with Alex & Ian in London, Roy went along to a few games of football with Ian to watch Welling, his local team. Roy really enjoyed the atmosphere and it became a bit of a running joke about Roy being Wellings most avid long distance supporter.

here he is with a couple of the team enjoying a liquid refreshment at the conclusion of a game.

It also became a bit of a running joke that Roy was a bit of a jinx as the team never won when he went along to watch a game, although they did have a draw on one occasion.

So now he has the shirt to prove he is indeed the honorary president, secretary, treasurer and chief cheerleader of the New Zealand branch of the Welling United Football Supporters club!

Auckland stranglehold

April 19, 2017

We finally managed to escape from the North Shore when the brakes were finally sorted with the new calipers fitted and everything finally completed and tested.  We made it as far as Papakura where we stayed at the Club for a few nights before heading to the NZMCA park at Ardmore.  Roy had an appointment at Ascot Hospital so we thought it would be convenient being here for a few days before we head north.   

Whilst we were at the club Simon called in with Maria for a visit…

Grandad and Maria
Antony only lives around the corner so he called in as well to catch up although I’m not so sure that Maria was impressed!Simon, Antony and Maria

Things seem to be conspiring against us at the moment as we now have a new issue.  There is a stone chip or two in the windscreen, very small ones mind you, however one is in the drivers sightline  and as part of the COF which is due at the end of the month, we needed to get them repaired.  The chips in question are only the size of my little fingernai.  We organised to have the windscreen looked at and hopefully get the chips fixed but guess what?  Yep, the stone chips cannot be successful repaired so we have to have a new windscreen which of course means it has to be ordered and shipped from the USA.  We are told that it will be a matter of just 10 days before it arrives into the country.  Meanwhile we are stuck at Ardmore until that arrives.  Of course to complicate matters there is Easter weekend and ANZAC day in amongst the time frame which equates to lots of public holidays but hopefully it will not hold things up too much. Meanwhile we wait…..patiently?! 

Both Antony and Roy have had birthdays in the past few days which the three of us have celebrated quietly with a meal or two out.  The years keep rolling around and the numbers inevitably keep getting larger, not that we are complaining!

The weather seems to have finally settled although last week we had the predicted storm Cyclone Cook bearing down on an already soaked landscape.  Fortunately the Cyclone deviated eastwards from its projected path and apart from the odd downpour or two we came off lightly.

Plans?  Well we are not making too many as as soon as we do, something seems to come along to scupper them so stay tuned folks. 


February 6, 2017

As we become a little more mature, it seems to us that friends and family become even more important in our lives.  As well as rekindling old friendships, it’s also good to make new friends and of course family is also right up there in the mix.  We’ve had a few visitors since we have been here at Shakespear,  from family to friends.  Some folk we have known for a looooooong time and it’s fantastic to meet up again and pick up from where we last met.

Glennis & Robin came to visit after we caught up with them last week at Cathy & Wayne, we last saw Glennis & Robin  when they came to visit with other friends two year ago which we blogged about here

L-R Roy, Wayne, Cathy, Glennis & Robin

Now we met Glennis many years ago when Roy & I lived in Tokoroa and we had taken up playing scrabble competitively in the mid 1980’s then continued playing when we moved to Auckland a year or two later. Over the years the inevitable happened…Roy became Chairman of NZ Scrabble, and I was at varying times, treasurer or secretary.  As well, Glennis & Rob’s daughter Rachael became our regular babysitter over the next few years but more recently in 2010 we caught up with Rachael and her family who now reside in France – which you can read about here

Cathy, Roy, Glennis, Robin & Wayne discussing the problems of the world over coffee and cake.

Cathy was also a scrabble player whom we met all those years ago, but we haven’t seen Wayne & Cathy for nearly 20 years so we had a fair bit of chin wagging to do!  It’s lovely to meet up again after all that time to reminisce.

Other visitors were niece  Sarah and her three boys.  It was Asher’s 8th birthday and he came out for his his birthday treat which included  to have his favourite lunch (Bacon & Egg Pie), a surf, and of course to see his favourite great Aunty! What more could a boy ask for?

Ben, Asher and Finn in the surf.

It was also a good opportunity for the boys to enlist Uncle Roy to help them fly their pirate ship kite which they got on a recent family holiday to Bali.
Uncle Roy, Ben and Finn set the kite flying 
Roy watching the kite fly.

It was a lovely day, albeit it very windy but good for kite flying!

Our next visitors were dear friends Wade & Lindsay, whom we knew from our Tokoroa days.  Roy and Wade were friends long before Lindsay and I came onto the scene.  Subsequently we had our children at around the same time and we shared many times together in each other’s company when the children were preschoolers and before we moved to Auckland.  As well, we spent many a lovely holiday together, sharing the childcare and giving each other precious timeout on our own, so it was lovely to meet up again as it’s been four or five years since we last met up.  Their eldest daughter Caroline lives at Gulf Harbour so it was a great opportunity to spend some time together….just like old times.

They came for dinner on Saturday afternoon, and well, one thing led to another, and they ended up staying the night in the tent (thanks Steve & Les for leaving your tent up).  I took a couple of photos with my phone, but by the time I remembered to take a picture the odd bottle or two had been emptied, the light was fading and the quality of the photo & photographer is not great!

A great way to celebrate Wade & Lindsays 39th wedding anniversary – wow, have we known each other that long?  It was  fantastic to meet up again and we look forward to our next get together in a few months time.  

A Gorm weekend

November 10, 2016

Many, many years ago, when we all lived in the big city of Auckland,  a group offriends  all of whom had a keen interest in good food, excellent wine and having a good time, formed a group which we called The Gourmet Society. Every month each of the four couples put money into a dedicated bank account for which there was a cheque book for the ‘Gourmet Society’.  For those of you young things who have no idea what a cheque book is, talk to your parents or grandparents and ask them!  Suffice to say that paying our bill at the end of a night out with that cheque book raised a few eyebrows.   After a while the name was shortened until we became known as the Gorms, a much more appropriate title.  The group consists of Roy & I, Jacky & Chris, Anne & Greg and Colin & Edwina, most of whom we see on  a reasonably regular basis. 

Over the years we; went out for dinners, had weekends away, did everything from camping to 5 star, involved our children in some of our weekends of fun, had themed parties – who could forget the garlic themed night?, did all sorts of crazy things like rock climbing, abseiling, and other nerve wracking events,  but we always had lots of laughs.   

Recently, some members of the Gorms were celebrating significant birthdays so we thought it was time for a get together.  It was to be held at Jacky & Chris place at Whakapirau on the Kaipara harbour, regular readers will know that we have  housesat for them over the past  few winters and spent a bit of time there.  Somewhere along the line, probably over a red wine or two, it was decided that we would have a Hangi (NZ underground oven cooked meal) with local man Grant offering to set it all in place and be in charge of proceedings.

First the hole had to be dug and the fire started.

Grant digging the hole, the fire started in the pit, then as the fire  gets hot more wood is added before adding the rocks to heat up.  All this takes time and patience, and is of course thirsty and hungry work.

Colin and the left, Roy on the right and Chris in the foreground, digging in to some ceviche and some smoked fish
Meanwhile, we girls lined the hangi basket with cabbage leaves, peeled lots of potatoes, kumara, pumpkin and carrots which once seasoned are tied into muslin bags and placed in the basket.  Chickens and a large piece of pork are then placed over the vegetables which are then all covered with more cabbage leaves before finally topped with well soaked towels and sheets before being lowered onto the hot rocks.  Then it all gets covered with topsoil to steambake for the next few hours. 

Top photo Chris, Colin and Greg look on as Roy helps remove the ash and unburned charcoal just before the food goes in.lower photo is Grant checking all is well – or is he doing pressups?  

There is of course a lot of skill involved with getting the fire right, using the right stones, using the best wood to provide the heat and getting everything to the correct temperature  but we were assured all was in hand and under control.

There was as well all the fish we had caught; some to be eaten as fish fillets, the big fish was being smoked and the rest was made into ceviche.

The smoked snapper.

A whole scotch fillet was prepared with a tasty rub and cooked on the barbecue, nicely rare of course and there were plenty of salads too.  From here on in, I neglected to take any more pictures, so there is none of the hangi being lifted or any of the food ladened tables laid out for all to help themselves, nor any of the subsequent party as neighbours and others from the local community had been invited to come and share in the feasting.  The hangi food was fantastic, and later in the evening the desserts came out for all to share.  It was lovely to meet lots of new people and enjoy a great night together over fabulous food and wine.

All in all a great weekend and fantastic  to catch up with the Gorms.  Till next time. 

Bistronomy Napier

April 21, 2016

I apologise now for the following blog – it’s food porn at its best!  We had heard about a new restaurant called Bistronomy in Napier so we decided to go to celebrate Roy’s birthday.  We decided on the six course degustation menu with matching wines and what was to follow was a treat in all senses.  You can read all about them here

First course was Crumbed mussel with ras al hanout aioli on vegetable spaghettini – oops we ate them before I took the picture  
Smoked mackerel fillet | confit heirloom tomato | pumpernickel crumb | basil ice cream  
Golden egg | mushroom vegemite | Hohepa vintage tasty


Pork cheek | cooked sauerkraut | granny smith | fermented garlic | caraway   
Grilled Waikanae blue beef skirt | pistachio chilli chimi churi | spinach  
Chocolate Mousse | chocolate sorbet | shortbread | extra virgin olive oil and aged balsamic  
And to prove that we were there…