Thursday, December 31, 2015


The Jacarandas are in flower here at present and make a wonderful show all over the city.  Not the best photos as they were just taken by holding my camera out of the car window as we were driving near Doug's house.

Storms forecast for the start of the new year.  We need the rain but not the storms.

one more photo after all the rain.  This tree is opposite Doug's house and shows the petals on the ground after the rain.

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy 2016.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Another year older and Mt. Parihaka

Another year older today and I celebrated by starting the day (before it got too hot) by walking up Mt. Parihaka to see the new Lookout that has just been installed.

Thursday, December 24, 2015


A couple of weeks ago we went down to the Town Basin to a concert put on by the Basin City Band and on the way saw this pohutakawa (also known as the New Zealand Christmas Tree).

A bit further on was this Christmas Tree alongside the Marina

I took these close-ups of pohutakawa flowers on our recent visit to Limestone Island.  If you enlarge these photos you can see the detail.

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2016.

Monday, December 21, 2015


Today the Parkinsons' Walking Group visited Matakohe/Limestone Island.  While there we were privileged to see this Petrel chick.

They are brought from one of the other islands and reared in burrows in order to establish them on Limestone Island.

Sunday, December 20, 2015


Last Monday's "Parkinson's Walk" was to the Whau Valley Dam.

                                           We went past these two on the way.

Monday, December 14, 2015


Not long after Doug and I had been introduced  I started joining him at Tikipunga to walk Sophie, his Labrador.  I was shocked at the amount of rubbish in the park.  I had recently won a picker-upperer as part of a raffle prize and so we both started to pick up the rubbish.  It is now three years since we started this and we still do it - usually five days a week as on Saturdays, after going to the Growers' Market, we walk part of The Loop at the Town Basin and I pick up and Doug has Sophie on a lead and on Mondays Doug takes Sophie for a walk around the streets near his house before we go on the walk with people with Parkinson's Disease.

A month or so ago a man who is often at the park exercising his dog asked if he could do an artlcle on us for the local paper.  He then discovered that other people  pick up rubbish as well although there is still plenty for us to pick up - six buckets full just recently.

His article  finally appeared in Saturday's edition but as a letter to the editor.  It is good to know that people appreciate it.

Image Caption: Susan Vercoe and Doug Lee simultaneously exercising and beautifying at Tikipunga Sports Park

Article Heading: Unsung champions of beauty

Article Content:
I am very fortunate to be able to stroll in Tikipunga Sports Park early most mornings. Personally, I prefer rainy mornings with no wind: Some precipitation to cool my wildly energetic black dog; no gale to invert my umbrella's dignity. The only thing that detracts from this otherwise cleansing experience, is the significant volume of all sorts of carelessly discarded rubbish that mysteriously accumulates all over the place - it's almost as if the adequately provided rubbish bins are repelling the stuff.

During the several years that I have been visiting the park, I have become acquainted with other regular visitors. Many, like myself, go there to exercise their dogs, some to exercise themselves. Yet there are others who simultaneously exercise themselves and clean the park! These wonderfully community-minded 'champions of beauty' take it upon themselves to traverse the park in virtually all weathers, collecting rubbish into bags and buckets as they go with special reacher-grabber tools, then posting it all in the (undoubtedly astonished) rubbish bins.

At first, I observed only one couple doing this, but then I started visiting the park at various other times of the day and discovered that there are in fact quite a few doing this - both singly and in groups. The other thing that struck me was how very cheerful and apparently happy all these people are. I have subsequently made several modest rubbish collecting forays myself, and far from being a drudgery, it is actually quite satisfying and therapeutic once you get into it.

Anyway, while I am seldom moved to air my opinions, I do feel very strongly that folk such as these deserve recognition for their humbling selflessness and for the very worthwhile contribution they make 

Friday, December 11, 2015


My porch which is approximately 3.5 x 4 metres used to be open at either end making it a wind tunnel and, on stormy days, letting the rain in as well.

Some time ago Doug put doors on either end and filled in a gap at the top of one wall making it more cosy.

He then decided to put a ceiling in as one could see the underside of the roofing iron -  originally this was going to be on just one portion but ended up a bigger job (don't they all).  More recently he has painted the ceiling but, of course, that made the walls look a bit faded so he painted them as well.

He then moved the shelving he had made to the opposite wall and I bought a new extending clothes line.  That wall looked a bit bare so he drew some sketches and made some silhouettes which have just been put up.

He cut a small part off the table so that it can go up against the wall (the cut-off piece will soon be put up where the shelves were.

It is now a lovely spot to have my breakfast with plenty of light to check emails or read the paper.

I am thrilled with it.

                                                 That is Sophie's bed in front of the door.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


When we got Kath and Kim from the SPCA we purposefully chose two cats so that they would be company for each other.  (Previously we always had just one cat).

To start with they did seem to be good companions and for the first few months were always curled up together.  Gradually Kath became the dominant cat, although in Kath's latter months I noticed Kim seemed to be holding her own.

Since Kath's demise Kim has blossomed.  She is a great help in the garden - usually getting between me and the weeds I am trying to remove and generally follows me around.  She sleeps in a cat bed in the wardrobe in my bedroom and is quite happy to be kept in at night.

For some time I have had trouble with other cats in the neighbourhood lying in my garden beds  and squashing my plants while waiting for birds to come close.  They were also coming inside on occasions and some were spraying.  I also had to take Kim to the vets after she was in a fight.

Doug now brings his labrador, Sophie, here in the evenings and, when he arrives, he takes her for a walk around the garden.  I have seen very few other cats in the garden since he started doing this.

I had often thought of buying Kim a covered cat bed but they were always very expensive so when I saw one recently in a $2.00 shop (not for $2.00 but reasonably cheap) I couldn't resist it.  It fdidn't take very long for her to use it.   Unfortunately, it is not getting a lot of use at present as it is too hot but I am sure that come winter it will be very popular.

Saturday, December 5, 2015


I am back again.  Not sure what has kept me from blogging - just life I suppose.

My father and his best friend "Uncle" John used to go on walking holidays in the Lake District quite frequently.  Dad always brought back some Kendal Mint cake so, when I came across this in the Supermarket here, I couldn't resist it.  I bought the brown one which was always my favourite.

I know that it is 100% sugar and I shouldn't really be eating it (it is still in the wrapper).  I will most likely try it on one of our walks.

I googled Kendal Mint cake and discovered that Sir Edmund Hillary and Sirdar Tensing took it with them when they scaled Everest.  To find out what a Kendal Mint cake is  see HERE

Had my diabetic eye check yesterday and was told to keep going on as I am as there is no sign of damage to my eyes so that is good.

Thursday, October 22, 2015


Kaipara Harbour map

Yesterday, we had a cruise on the northern part of the Kaipara Harbour. We drove down to Pahi and the boarded the "Kewpie 2" which took us on a four hour cruise.  Looking at the map we actually covered only a very small part of the large Kaipara Harbour.  We cruised down from Pahi past the Batley Homestead and then went about halfway to Maungaturoto and the railway crossing before returning the same way.

It is a very interesting cruise with a commentary along the way.  I did it once before with Max but, unfortunately, we had a heavy fog that day.

Yesterday, it was fine but the wind was quite strong (as it has been for some time).

                                                                  The Batley Homestead

The Main trunk line - unfortunately, only special tour trains run on it now

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


This plant (or rather its predecessor) was in the garden when I came here.  It is neither an orchid nor a rose but looks delightful at this time of year.  its proper name is Cistus Brilliancy.  I know as I recently found the original plant tag in the garden.

The bush was very woody.  As I was still caring for Max at the time I had someone come in to do some pruning.  Luckily, I stuck some cuttings in a pot, as the pruning was too severe and original plant died.  The cuttings were later planted together rather than trying to separate them.  They have flourished.

These are the self sown geranium maderense that I showed earlier in the month.

I had to come in from the garden as it was too hot (for me at least) I see it is 28 degrees in my porch.

Thursday, October 1, 2015


Yesterday, we went up to Roland's Wood in Kerikeri with some friends  to see the bluebells.  It was a lovely sunny day (perhaps spring has finally arrived).

On entering the wood a crab apple was covered in blossom.

The clivia's were past their best but still provided a good show.

We all took something for a picnic which was most enjoyable.  Far nicer than going to a cafe.

As we went through Kawakawa the train was heading along the main street.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Spring must be on its way.

Although it didn't feel like spring when we were standing in what seemed to be a very cold wind tunnel collecting for the Alzheimer's Society yesterday, judging by the flowers that are appearing it must be on its way.

When I moved here in 2009 this wisteria appeared - I presume it was a seedling.  Over the last couple of years I have trained it up and over the pergola.  It now has a group of flowers at the base, another halfway up the post and more hanging down although a lot are lying on the ground, presumably knocked down by the numerous birds.

When we were in the north I had a couple of New South Wales Waratah bushes but do not have one down here, however, Doug has several and I picked these flowers yesterday.

The clivias always do well.

I had just one geranium maderense but scattered its seeds around and now have several of them some, like this one, growing on the rock wall.

The magnolia at the bottom of the garden must be past its best judging by all the petals underneath it

There is also the promise of delicious plums to come judging by the flowers.

The weather is springlike.  We have had some lovely warm days and I have managed to get into the garden and have a go at the numerous weeds.  This morning was lovely and reasonably warm as Doug collected me for our Saturday morning ritual of the market, dog walking and  supermarket shopping.  The temperature has just dropped and there is quite steady rain.  I just checked and rain or showers are forecast for the next ten days just when I want to get on with the weeding.