Archive for the ‘grandson’ Category

Busy fingers

June 9, 2020

It hasn’t all been relaxing in the sunshine, waiting for the Covid alert levels to go down, I have kept my hands busy. A little bit of knitting has been done, once I managed to get some supplies of course, but my bigger project has been to start making an advent calendar for Callum.

I first made this particular advent calendar 32years ago for my two and have subsequently made quite a number of them. It comprises of a wall hanging with a Christmas Tree adorned with 24 buttons on which to hang little stuffed felt figures with 24 numbered pockets underneath the tree to hold all the Christmas themed ornaments.

However, to backtrack a little, of course all my handcraft materials and patterns are packed away in storage so I’ve had to start my collections of materials again. But where would I be able to find the pattern? I remembered giving it to a friend when we first moved to Auckland in the late 1980’s, on the off chance that Debbie still had the pattern I contacted her. Well, what do you know, she did have the pattern, so she emailed it to me. It’s looking very faded and dated, I think the copy that I gave Debbie was a copy, of a copy, of a copy!

I got the pattern off her last year before we went to the UK. I printed off the patterns and laminated them, spent hours cutting out all the little patterns ready to trace around them, then promptly put them away thinking I will do them next winter.

I was also given a selection of embroidery threads by my sister Sue as well as a few beads, ribbons and sequins that I would need to finish off the work.

Well, we all know what happened in between, don’t we? Yes, I got sick!! Then the whole world got sick. Over the last few weeks, since I’ve been able to get some supplies in, I’ve managed to get started making the little ornaments.

Most of the ones I have made are included in the pattern, but I have made a few patterns of my own such as the robins, the wreath, and the teddy.

A full set plus a couple spare

Each ornament takes me about an hour to make for the easier ones and probably 2 hours for the more complicated ones. I know I’m mad, but hey, it keeps my hands busy,

Then I got thinking, dangerous I know, and thought of a few more to add to the list, some of which I’ve made, but I have more ideas!!!

I made a penguin, fox and owl to start with and the head is brimming with lots more christmassy ideas…

Three more that need their hangers attached

Then I went off on a tangent.

What about a Kiwiana set?

I have to make sure that Callum knows that he’s half kiwi, but can I think of 24 kiwi things to make?……I started making a list, and the list grew, and grew, and grew some more. Some ideas were just too difficult to make so got instantly rejected (sorry Dave Dobbyn and Split Enz….tooo hard!!!) but at the last count I have 55 items on the list, and I’m sure there will be a few more added over the next few days, whether they get made or not is a different story.

A start on some of the easier options!

For those who can not pick what I’ve made, on the left is a red band gumboot/wellington boot, and a pavlova with cream and Kiwifruit on top. On the right from the top down is Tui, Kiwi and a Fantail.

It’s difficult to see from the photo but they are all three dimensional, sewn together with tiny stitches, embellished, then stuffed.

Firstly, I have had to make the patterns, I’ve already drafted up a dozen more ready to make, ensuring that they are no more than 3 inches tall. Of course I now need more supplies as I’ve run out.

Watch this space for the full kiwiana set, I’m sure that they will also make lovely decorations on the xmas tree, Alex. You’re welcome 😘.

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.

Hubble, bubble, toil & trouble

April 11, 2020

No, I’m not cooking up spells or witchcraft, however boredom may set in and witchcraft could well be my new skill set. However I wish I could magic up a Hairdresser……………will pay in flour and toilet paper!

Luckily for us, life is relatively the same as usual except we are now living in a bubble. I mean we are used to living together in close quarters and have done so for quite some time, it’s just now we call it our bubble. Ok, we can’t go out whenever we want nor go shopping, but as one who has never been much of a shopper this is not something I find difficult to go without. We don’t even mind not seeing too many other people, although video calls make life so much more interesting and we are quite content in our bubble of two.

There is not much toil going on in this bubble, Roy is busy with his work plus he is catching up with genealogy stuff. I think I am going to have to start writing job lists again as I can see that this lockdown will pass before we’ve done anything. I have been meaning to clean out my wardrobe, especially sort out winter clothes as it’s been a couple of years since we experienced a winter. However, as I’m not allowed to raise my left arm above my head, it makes it a little more difficult to sort out high cupboards and drawers. I’m sure I could improvise if I though about it, that may take a day or two of thinking first.

And as for trouble, it’s hard to get into trouble when I’m attached to antibiotics 24/7 and hobble, plus we are in lockdown. I guess we could try and be naughty and travel outside our immediate neighbourhood but that goes completely against the grain and I just cannot do it. Although I will have to next Monday, as I have to travel 40kms each way to get blood tests. The lab that I have been going to is closed on Monday as it is Easter, which necessitates the long drive out of my “home zone”. Luckily I have paperwork which shows I have permission to do so.

The only trouble I have had is an allergic reaction to my latest PICC line dressing, the itching drove me nuts so I went to get that changed. And I did get it changed, my poor arm is in a right state, red, itchy, and bleeding in places, but the lovely District Nurse sorted me out and already it is feeling so much better. I guess these things happen when you get stuff stuck to delicate skin and then removed to have more stuff stuck on, and repeated week after week. Only 2 weeks to go, not that I’m counting down the days or anything!!

I’m walking pretty well without crutches now, although I do use one crutch if I am going to walk any distance, just for safety’s sake of course. I am pretty pleased with how I am going even though my leg is still pretty swollen but it is getting much much better than it was. I feel as though I’ve done my thing as far as surgeries go, 4 major joint replacement surgeries in less than 20months is more than enough for this body to deal with, no more says I.

Stay safe in your bubble folks and happy Easter. PS Happy birthday for Easter Monday Antony, birthday celebrations are to be held at a later date!

And cuteness personified….Callum playing in the garden.

Callum enjoying springtime weather

The weather outside is delightful

April 5, 2020

Well, we cannot complain about the weather can we? It has just been glorious the past week or so with clear blue skies, warm sunshine and just a gentle breeze. It really does make being in lockdown oh so much easier and more pleasant. Not that we mind, it is honestly no hassle for us to be in our lockdown bubble of two, I guess after living in close confines for a few years now it’s not really a problem for us to each to do our own thing most of the time and not get in each other’s way.

I must be starting to feel better, I am cooking most evenings now as well as getting out and going for a wee walk each day, just for 10-15minutes at a time but I can tell you that is a huge achievement in itself.

Shopping online has become a hassle, I just cannot get a time slot at all for click n collect so I’ve now made a new challenge for myself, make do with what we do have (an extensive pantry, dry goods, fridge and freezer full of supplies) and see how long we can go without a trip to the supermarket!! Apart from milk and eggs, which are kindly being picked up for us, I think we could comfortably survive for another three or four weeks easily! However, I’m sure we will relent at some stage.

Breaking news, I managed to get a click n collect slot for Monday for which I have put in my order, mainly fresh produce and fridge staples so we should be good for a while now.

I’ve even got the sourdough starter out of his hibernation from the fridge, and will kick start him over the next few days. And yes, I have flour, even managed to get some in the last couple of shops so we should be Ok for bread making again. Although I have been trying not to use the oven as it runs on gas, and we have a large built in gas cylinder which means to fill up we have to pack up the van and travel a fair way to get it filled. I knew we should have had a fitting made so we could also use refillable bottles!

Life seems to tick on by, we manage to amuse ourselves most of the time but don’t ask me what we do all day but all of a sudden it’s the end of the day and time to start thinking about cooking dinner. I think I may have to start writing some job lists as I can see that very little of what we planned to achieve will actually get done.

Daylight saving ended on Saturday night and it will take us a few days to get used to the change, it just means that winter is closing in on us. Although the temperatures are still very warm for this time of the year. Of course I take full responsibility for the warmer weather, it is because I put our winter duvet on the bed a couple of weeks ago and since then, the weather has been glorious and it has been rather warm in bed at night so I spend the night with covers on, covers off.

And to brighten up your day, here is a picture of Callum getting ready for nursery.


We hope you are all enjoying life in your respective “bubbles”, stay safe, stay well….stay the *@#& at home!

A New Year

January 2, 2020

2020 is here, why is it that it seems just a short while ago we were celebrating the millennium? Time certainly does seem to fly.

First of all a quick look back on the past year and it certainly was an eventful one in more ways that one. We managed to catch up with lots of family and friends over the year, both here in New Zealand and in the UK. Of course our big news for the year was the arrival of our grandson Callum, we feel so privileged to have been there for his birthday and the first three months of his life. He is growing so fast and we cannot wait to head back to see him this April.

Callum with his cousin Beth

“who? me?” I can sit by myself!!

Health wise we have both been reasonably well, apparently my hip is healing nicely so I’m expecting to be able to have my other knee replaced sometime in the new year, all going well.

All in all 2019 was a good year and we are looking forward to the year ahead.

Meanwhile back at Shakespear, campers have come and gone. We have been very spoilt this year with many gifts from grateful campers of wine & chocolates, as well as some spoils from their diving and fishing expeditions…

Crayfish for dinner.

As well, we received a lovely HUGE hamper from the Rangers with all sorts of goodies that we have been thoroughly enjoying.

Antony went back home to work after Christmas, but was back again to join us for a week over the New Year and we have enjoyed having him around. And in response to a question on what game we were playing in the previous post, it was a game called Sequence. As well, many, many, many, games of Five Crowns have been played, and we have got Bruce (Head Ranger) hooked onto the game too. As Bruce’s family were away for Christmas and New Year, he has joined us most evenings for dinner followed by many games of Five Crowns. I haven’t kept a tally of wins but I’m sure I’m doing very well. I must add here that our obsession with the game is thanx to Marilyn & David, the Kiwi narrowboaters we met in the UK earlier in the year. We have even got to the point of making up score sheets to print off and use, such is our obsession!

I again went out driving the mule (ATV) for Bruce on New Years Eve whilst he collected tracking cards. I enjoyed the views over the park from the high vantage points.

A peek of the campground in the background

Te Haruhi Bay

The other little bit of news is that we are “world famous” in our own lunchtime! with an article published in the latest Motorhomes, Caravans and Destinations Magazine

Magazine cover

We promise not to let the notoriety go to our heads!

And in responses to another request, my blog posts on sourdough making are coming soon, they are really, honestly!

Christmas in the camp

December 27, 2019

Christmas Eve was busy with families setting up their campsites ready for their annual holidays with lots of excited children awaiting the arrival of the jolly man dressed in red. Meanwhile, head Ranger Bruce was literally running around trying to get all his work done which included checking the tracking tunnels. So to help him out, I drove the mule (small all terrain vehicle) as he crashed and bashed his way through the undergrowth changing the tracking tunnel cards, with me picking him up at the end of a line and taking him to the next line.

The only pictures I thought to take were at the end of the last line looking down over the bay

Te Haruhi Bay with a view of the campground peeking through on the right

It was still quite windy on Christmas Eve so the wind surfers were out in force in the bay enjoying a bit of fun

Wind surfers in action

Antony arrived in the afternoon to join us and as the evening drew in, children were in bed relatively early and all was quiet waiting for Santa to arrive.

We had a leisurely start to Christmas day with a lovely breakfast, and the leisure continued from there with a very relaxed Christmas Day for us. We played cards and games most of the day under the shade of the trees.

Me trying my hand at selfies again….

We had a little excitement in the afternoon as the water for the park came to a complete stop which meant no water for the toilets, showers or drinking. But a short time later water was back on albeit a little discoloured. However, unbeknownst to us, the main part of the park was experiencing its busiest day on record which meant that even though the toilets weren’t able to be flushed, people still utilised them….I shall leave the rest to your imagination! Poor Bruce had to deal with the resulting mess which is not the best way to end your Christmas Day.

Later that evening Bruce joined us for Christmas dinner….and I forgot to take any pictures. However, it was all delicious and went down a treat.

To finish off our day we got a lovely video call from Alex, Ian and Callum and later received some photos of their Christmas fun.

Christmas Eve at Ian’s brothers place

Top L-R: Matt helping Callum, Denny family photo, Bottom L-R: Alex with Callum and his cousins, and a bit tired at the end of the day

Top: Callum opening presents, Bottom: with Brian & Julie, on Grandad’s knee

We trust you all had a lovely Christmas, all the very best for 2020.

Unpack and a reshuffle

September 19, 2019

The worst thing about getting home after a long time away is the unpacking, nothing ever seems to fit back where it should, or you cannot remember where things should go, and of course there is all the extra goodies that we brought home with us to find a new home.

Actually, we didn’t bring too much back with us although the bags seemed to be fairly full. We did bring back with us a Lagun table leg for the van. See here for a clip of it in action. Its a height adjustable swivel table mount that you can then put on your choice of table top. Now, that’s the issue, we don’t have a table top as yet that we are both happy with. Much debate will ensue I am sure.

I did bring back some tea bags though, rather a lot! Not only the 480 Yorkshire tea bags but also tea bags with a malty biscuit flavour!! It’s the tea you have when you want a biscuit but don’t want the calories.

Tea bags and a cuppa

Yes, I know, you can buy the tea bags here but these were such a large quantity for a bargain price, I just could not resist.

Also brought back were a couple of items I picked up at IKEA for the van kitchen and pantry, and some organisational pieces for the wardrobes. I can’t think of what else we brought back, apart from wonderful memories of time spent with family and friends.

It’s about time to have a good clean out of lockers, ditch a load of gear that we have been carting around for “justin” …….as in just-in-case, either to off load to store at Antony’s or just get rid of stuff.

The shed at Ardmore became the recipient of some fairly decent items, all to give away in the hope that they find their way to a good home.

Items included;

a Navman GPS (we use our phones/iPads for navigation) including the instructions

A portable 600w inverter (we have a decent built in one)

Headphones and charging cord

USB Charging plugs

4 x Stainless steel drink bottles

A static mini cycle

Various other items. NB. all items disappeared within a few hours of putting them out.

Lockers have been emptied and anything not used in the past year or two have been put into storage and a reshuffle of other lockers items have been done to make better use of the space.

As well, a bit of R&M has been undertaken on the van; the sliding door inside has had some mods done to make it glide more efficiently, the drivers side wing mirror mount has had a bit of TLC after we noticed the mirror wobbling a bit. The fridge has a new ignitor installed after it spat the dummy on our return. And the major thing has been some welding work done on our A-Frame after a weld broke, with it all now having been checked and sorted.

And in case you were missing out seeing lots of Callum pictures, here are a few to keep you going!!

Afternoon tea

August 30, 2019

We’ve been waiting to go to Danson Park for some time now. It’s a local park (local for Alex) that includes a large historic building, a water play park, mini golf, lovely large park grounds with lots of gardens and large trees as well as a small lake but we were going for afternoon tea at the 1766 built stone homestead.

Danson House

We had been putting off a visit until Alex was back eating dairy again and with normal transmission having been resumed, we headed off to partake in some goodies.

Roy and Alex

Bernice and Roy

Afternoon tea including scones with clotted cream

Coffee and walnut cake

We had a lovely afternoon, Callum slept the afternoon away so Alex could enjoy an uninterrupted tea as well. And just so you don’t feel left out, here are a few pictures of the handsome young man.


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.

Another Narrowboat

August 7, 2019

We came half way around the world and who should we meet up with? None other than one of Alex’s school friends, Kaz, from Oamaru. We’ve met up with her in London before notably Christmas Day 2017, but this time we were visiting her at her place which just happens to be on a narrowboat, right here in Central London. She is residing on board a narrowboat for the summer which is moored on the canal just behind Regents Park.

But first we had to get there. Our travel plans were complicated by two major events taking place, first a major bike race around central London which closed several roads as well as disrupting travel options. Secondly, there were planned major repair work going on on many central train lines which also disrupted travel. We drove to Barnehurst to catch the train to Victoria Station, then we would catch a bus down Edgeware Road to get off near the canal.

The general route

And here’s where we are heading.

At Victoria , we stepped out into theatre land.

Wicked show

Award winning show Hamilton

No shows for us today though, instead it was onto the bus towards Regents Park.

Kaz met us at the bus stop and we walked the short distance to the boat. Of course as is my usual manner I forgot to take any pictures of the boat or us inside it but we did take a picture or two of looking down onto the boats lined up.

The boat is on the left with the dark blue cratch cover

The canal itself is very full of weed and algae with very little water movement however it did not detract from our enjoyment.

We spent a lovely afternoon checking out the boat, interesting for us as this was a very different layout to NB Waka Huia and also very different finishes. The afternoon was spent talking and catching up with Kaz and what’s happening with her life in London, she will be leaving her abode on the canal soon as the owners will be returning to the boat she is on but she is seriously looking at another “boat sitting” stint or perhaps even purchasing a boat to live on. We shall see what eventuates.

Time to retrace our steps

Callum’s first bus trip

Along Edgeware Road onto Park Lane we travelled

Past the very upmarket houses, hotels, shops and cars back to Victoria Station. Then reverse the train trip back to Barnehurst, pick up the car and then home.

Back home again where the fellows put together a play gym for Callum, it very much reminded me of the Christmas scene where the young child gets a train set and Dad and Grandad then spend the rest of the day playing putting it together.

No, this bit goes here….or perhaps we should read the instructions!!!

Callum testing out his new toy

Yep, I quite like this!!