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Sunday, 31 July 2011


Last night I completed five pages of my scrapbook on the trip I made to England, Ireland and America this time last year. It was a ten week trip. I have now completed the U.K. part of the trip and did the header for USA last night. I spent three weeks in America. Some time was spent in New York, New Hampshire and Maine, but two weeks were spent in Indianapolis with distant Batkin cousins.
I am looking forward to completing this project within the next few weeks. I will have extra pages and plan to use memorabilia to fill up these. Usually memorabilia ends up being thrown away.

Penguin Versus People

    I am wondering about the $30,000 we have spent on helping a King Emperor penguin, when we read that homeless people and beggars are going to be expelled from our streets during the Rugby World Cup. Presumably, we do not want visitors to know that in this green paradise such people exist. And what of the Christchurch people trying to survive in homes falling down around them?
    During and after the Second World War, I do not remember any beggars and homeless people on the streets, even though homes had been bombed and destroyed as for example two doors up from us. I do remember my grandparents and people like them, temporarily housing people until they could get a job and housing. One man did not move away and ended staying the rest of his life and being buried from my grandparents' home. I suppose that is a risk you take.
    Wouldn't it be great if during the Rugby World Cup, we took a beggar into our home instead of billeting World Cup spectator. Who would be brave enough?
    I think we have got our priorities wrong when $30,000 is spent helping a penguin, when our people in Christchurch are struggling and we have beggars on our streets.

Sunday, 24 July 2011


This morning, I awoke to snow falling and snow covering the hills behind the valley. i have lived here five years and have not seen snow on these hills before. My parents and brother lived here twenty years ago and I do not remember snow falling then. At present the temperature is one degree.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

My Daddy's Come Home.

My Daddy's been called up into the War.
He's all round A1 and physically fit.
He can take his pick of the forces
From Army, Air Force and Navy to do his bit.

He's been assigned to the Atlantic Convoy fleet.
His job is an easy one- stoking the furnace with coal.
Not for him face to face combat with the foe.
A swift death delivered from a distance is the goal.

When bells ring and the hatches are battened down,
He says a prayer for survival and hopes they'll keep afloat.
There is no escape for those down below:
They will not be casting off in any lifeboat.

When the enemy is sunk, there will be fags and rum
And the Captain might get a promotion.
If they're lucky, they might get a day's leave.
He'd have just enough time to see his wife, Dad and Mum.

The Admiral of the fleet is piped aboard ship.
He fills them with propaganda and patriotic bullshit.
Tells them what England expects of her brave boys in blue;
Tries to encourage and inspire them to get on with it.

And now the war is over and my Daddy's come back.
With blue birds, peace ever after and Johnny in his own bed.
He fought for his country but now he's unemployed.
His children don't know him and his mates are all dead.

They didn't tell him how his conscience would plague him;
About the terrifying nightmares night after night.
Or, how he would hear the incessant ping, ping of the submarine radar.
"It's all over: we've won,

" they said, "You'll be alright."

My Daddy's come home and he'll never be the same.
He can't bear loud noises and he won't let us shut a door.
He's disillusioned, duped and depressed.
He says he can't see the sense in fighting wars any more.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011


When you are retired people often ask what you do all day as if you are sitting at home staring into space.
Today I cleaned for a friend after which I went grocery shopping. I bought ingredients to make food for the cafe I am running tomorrow from ten o'clock till two thirty. It is for the Knitting Group at Great Start. The cafe operates on a koha basis. I have to provide morning tea and lunch. We expect about a dozen people.The woman who usually runs it can't make it so I am filling in for a day.
I have made :
Italian Bean Soup
For this you need 2 or 3 carrots, 2 onions and about three celery stalks. I peel and prepare then chop in the food processor.
Put in a large pot with salt, oregano and stock. Add as much water as you like to make a thick or thin soup. Bring to boil and simmer for 40 minutes. Add 1 can of Cannellini beans and 1 can of chopped tomatoes. You can also add if liked 3 or 4 rashers of pancetta bacon already cooked. Cook for another 10 minutes and serve.
With this I am serving bread rolls.
For desert I have made:
Orange and Almond Cake.
For this you boil three oranges in a large pot, covering them with water and boil for about an hour. remove and cool. When cool cut in quarters and puree. Add 1

teaspoon of baking powder and mix. Leave aside.
Now beat six eggs together with 1 and a quarter cups of castor sugar. Alternately add 4 cups of ground almonds with the pureed oranges to form a soft mixture.
Pour into a large greased cake tin or two smaller and bake at 180 degrees for an hour. Ice or make an orange syrup to serve.
That is the lunch.
For morning tea I am making scones tomorrow morning.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Family Tree

About twenty months ago I started to put a family tree online. It has been an exciting experience as I have found so many lovely cousins I never knew about. I have no first cousins on either my mother or father's side of the family, so second and third cousins are the closest to me.
In 1989 before I went online, I found my father's first cousins in Ireland by means of a letter that was passed from house to house in the district I knew my grandfather came from. My Cousin Cissie at first said it couldn't be she as she had no relatives in New Zealand. Then Betty persisted and made her look at the little tree I had written which included her mother and father. Except for James, these lovely first cousins of my dad have now all passed away. I have kept and archived the letters and cards they sent me.
Last year almost as soon as I began the tree online, I received a member connect with my second cousin in Sheffield in England. we had been searching for this branch of the family for about thirty years. Then a few weeks later I found that my maternal grandmother, who we thought was an only child had five half siblings. Here was a side of the family I never knew existed. over the years I have had memorable trips to England and Ireland and USA to meet these cousins and some of them have become friends.
I am the family archivist and now have all our family hard copy photos on computer. In doing this I was very appreciative of my mother and paternal grandfather's care of photos and artefacts and also of the way they had caption

ed and dated everything.
Captioning and dating photos is probably something I am pedantic about. People seem to throw photos into shoe boxes and think or say they will write on them later. After they have passed away relatives look at these photos and haven't a clue who they depict or when. Or, sometimes the caption says,"Mum and Dad at the Beach." But whose Mum and Dad is it and which beach? And what year was it?


I wonder are we buying too many clothes?
The shops are already stocking up with summer clothes and we are just into the coldest part of the year. Some shops are having winter sales and have already had early and midwinter sales so I suppose after that you have to go to spring collections.
Everyone is saying that the cost of living is going up and times are hard.
When I was a child in England we had hard times after the Second World War. Then we were lucky to have two sets of clothes to wear. You had one for school and one for best. Even when we were better off in New Zealand lots of clothes were not a priority. We did in those days make our own mind you and knit cardigans and jumpers. Four sets of clothes would have been as many as I ever had growing up.
Gok the fashion guru, says that women wear only about one third of what they have in

their wardrobes. That means that in most wardrobes there is two thirds of the clothing sitting there doing nothing.
I have not bought any clothes for two years and manage to look O.K. I think. I'm sure it would benefit the planet if we spent less on clothes and shared our two thirds of the wardrobe we don't use with other people. I'm not sure how it would effect retailers though!

Sunday, 17 July 2011


While reading this morning, I came across this quote:

"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He (she) to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder, or stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. His (her) eyes are closed."
From Albert Einstein.

Let's get out there and pause to wonder!

Friday, 15 July 2011


Down in the meadow, our God is busy today,
With her palette of colours of every hue,
Her scent bottles and her Ipod too.
She's placing bluebells under shady trees.
The grass she paints in the softest green.

Down in the meadow, our God is smiling today.
She's tinting the flowers pastel and bright.
Scenting some to delight in the night.
Everything has a little mirror hidden within.
Her perfect beauty is reflected for all to see.

Down in the meadow, our God is playing today,
Gathering armfuls of colourful, scented flowers.
She's here to while away some lazy, languid hours.
She lies back relaxed in the long dry grass,
Watching tiny clouds scudding by in the vast azure sky.

Down in the meadow, our God is fishing today.
She has her glass jam jar and her little nylon net.
She's wearing rubber boots so her feet won't get wet.
She's searching the stream for the tiniest tadpoles.
Small as they are, they too reflect her beauty.

Down in the meadow, our God is in love today.
She looks at all she has created, the big and the small,
The plants, the animals and people; the most amazing of all.
She looks at them all with such wonder and awe,
Loves them so dearly and knows they are good.

Thursday, 14 July 2011


With all the rain we have been having, my garden has little to show for it. I could brave the cold of four degrees and go out and pick some Bok Choy, teeny carrots, young celery and leeks. The weeds are coming up among the scoria around my raised beds. Perhaps if the sun shines tomorrow I shall be able to hoe them out. I will also Bubble Wrap my little glasshouse to keep in the warmth for the spring seedlings I am going to plant soon.