Sunday, May 31, 2020


The weather has not been as bad as forecast YET.  We have had good constant rain all day but  on the Coromandel Peninsula roads are flooded.  With the land being so narrow here sometimes the Weather ends up there rather than here although the Weather warning is still in force for overnight and into tomorrow.  If it stays like this it will be ideal for filling the Dam. 

Tomorrow is the meteorologic first day of winter and I have finally got around to unpacking my winter clothes and packing the summer ones away.  There were fewer and older clothes than I remembered but, as I am not expecting to go anywhere anytime soon, it does not really matter.  For the whole of the Lockdown I have lived in a pair of track pants and a blouse or fleece top depending on the temperature.

I do not want to go clothes shopping at present.

The good news is day 9 of no new cases and only one remaining case in the country.

Saturday, May 30, 2020


We never know what to expect at the moment - it is more like spring weather.  Last night I went down to the Laundry to get something out of the deep freeze and thought the window had misted up but then realised that it was thick fog outside.  Not the best photo.

We were not sure what to expect this morning but awoke to a beautiful sunny day.  Noticed these cobwebs on a wall on our morning walk.

I have just noticed this warning from Civil Defence.  Hope it is not as bad as they suggest.  We desperately need rain but not floods.

An orange heavy rain warning from
MetService New Zealand
for Northland for the 20 hours from 10am tomorrow, along with a watch for possible severe gale easterlies.
A deepening low and associated fronts are expected to approach the far north of the North Island on Sunday, then move slowly south over the upper North Island during Monday. This system is forecast to bring rain and strong east to northeasterlies to much of northern New Zealand.
Northlanders can expect periods of heavy rain, with 80-120mm of rain expected to accumulate, and peak rates of 20 to 25 mm/h.
Streams and rivers could rise rapidly, surface flooding and slips are possible and driving conditions may be hazardous.
MetService also advises that strong winds from this direction haven't been experienced for an extended period of time and to ensure that items and structures are secure (the standard checklist: tie down the trampoline, secure outdoor furniture and any other loose items in your yard and check your boat mooring).

Friday, May 29, 2020


Once again we awoke to rain, quite steady and at times heavy.  This went on all morning so no walk and I think we spent longer over breakfast doing the crossword etc.  I did very little - checked some blogs then made some pikelets - so made a cup of tea to have with them.  As we were having this the rain stopped and the sun came out so we went for  our walk and then decided to go to the Library.  This was the first time we have been into the Library and chosen books since Lockdown started.  There were books everywhere.  Only the main library is open so that is where everyone is returning their books - the shelves are full and there are books on the floor under the shelves.  There were very few people  and on entry one gave ones details and used the hand sanitiser then could go and choose what books one wanted.

When we came out the rain had started again but it has just been showers.  So why am I so tired.  I have done very little.  I tend to leave indoor jobs for rainy days but then find I don't really have the energy or inclination to do them.  

As far as Covid 19 is concerned for the seventh day in a row, there are no new cases and only one case remains active.  From today groups of up to 100 are allowed.  I just hope that we don't get a second wave.

Thursday, May 28, 2020


We were expecting to wake to rain this morning instead it was a lovely sunny day so, once again, instead of indoor jobs I got some more washing done and then worked in the garden.  On Facebook this morning I came across this graph of our Main Dam, the Whau Valley Dam.  At least this year's line has started to plateau with the rain but has not started to ascend yet.  Once again, the forecast is for rain tomorrow so fingers crossed.

No photo description available.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020


Today, as forecast, we have rain, steady not heavy which is ideal for the new plants.    This is the view through the rain-wet window.

The newly planted lettuce and pansies/violas enjoying the rain

The vegetables from the previous seedling order are doing well.  They are hard to see in this photo but there are a few sugar snap peas forming.

The beetroot are growing.

the cabbages are starting to form hearts

The brocolli and cauliflower are doing well

so are the carrots

and the Swiss chard.

Lots more rain showers in the forecast.  The flower seedlings in the front garden are also looking happy.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Rain forecast

Rain was forecast for today so, last night, I made a list of all the jobs I hoped to get done.  Phoning people, catching up with emails, some baking etc.  My lists always seem to be longer than the day.  However, the day dawned bright and clear so after our walk I did a few loads of washing including Sophie's bedding, Doug did some housework and I made some pikelets.  I was just about to start on my list when something made me check the front step and I discovered our seedling order had been delivered.

There were four bundles of pansy and viola seedlings, one of primula, one of stock and one of snapdragons as a substitute for cineraria.  There was also a bundle of leeks, one of spring onions and one of mixed lettuce.

As the forecast is still for rain or showers for the rest of the week we both got down to planting.  The primula, stock, snapdragons and one bundle of pansies are now in the front garden.  The leeks and spring onions are in the vegie beds while most of the lettuce are in pots with the leftovers in the garden.  The balance of pansies and viola are in large pots - so let it rain. 

We finally stopped for lunch (our main meal) just before 3 p.m. and had scrambled eggs.  Luckily there is still some soup left for our supper. 

I have caught up with one phone call, an e-card for a cousin's birthday, an on-line order for another birthday and am now exhausted.  Must be getting OLDer.

Monday, May 25, 2020


Today, being Monday, is the Parkinson's walk although it is not that now,  just a walk that the people who used to go on the Parkinson's walk can join in.  Parkinson's New Zealand is going to have a meeting at the beginning of August to decide whether the support groups can re-start. 

Anyway, eight of us met near the Bascule bridge - six of us walked around The Loop, a 4.2 kms walk - and the other 2 did a shorter walk.  We then met up at the coffee cart in the car park and enjoyed a catch up.  All keeping our distance.

The rain showers/drizzle held off and we just had cloud although the drizzle is just starting now.

Plenty of boats moored

Looking back  towards the Town Basin 

The Bridge being raised to let the dredge through

After the walk we went up to the main dam which actually looked worse than in the photos.

Sunday, May 24, 2020


The forecast says showers but we have had constant drizzle all day.  Good for the garden but will not do a lot for the dam.  Still a little rain is better than none.  Showers in some form are for the whole of the ten day forecast so, hopefully, we will get enough to do some good.  

Whereas it has been 7 or 8 degrees in the early mornings it was twice that this morning at 15 degrees and is  18 degrees now at 1.30 p.m.  The fire is lit but more because of the damp feel with the drizzle.  Hopefully it will not be too bad for our walk tomorrow morning.  

I am planning a lazy afternoon.

Saturday, May 23, 2020


There is something odd going on with the weather.  We had a cloudy but lovely autumn day here today - no wind so we managed to get several jobs done in the garden.  I planted some pansies and did some pruning and Doug cleaned the gutter on his workshop and pruned the peach tree back from the workshop.  It is weird but it definitely looks as though it has new buds forming and it is autumn here.  Last night I received an email from my stepdaughter in New South Wales and she said she thought she was going mad as she was sure she could hear baby birds. Well, she was not going mad as she has now located the nest with young birds in it.  Baby birds are supposed to arrive in spring not autumn.  She also mentioned that a lot of the trees on their property are not behaving as normal for this time of year.

We have also put ten caterpillars into the cage today.  At this time of year the number should be decreasing not increasing.  The outside activity was because from tomorrow we are forecast to get rain showers for the next five days.  Whether we will actually get it is another question but we still need it to help fill the dams.

I mentioned recently that I had started target shooting with an air rifle.  Because it was too heavy for me to reload and because I am quite a good shot Doug decided to buy me a Ruger that was supposed to be lighter and easier to break.  Unfortunately, it needed a scope to be able to sight it in and I did not particularly want to use a scope.  Anyway, Doug took it back and ordered another air rifle that he was told would be better for me - he came home with two different ones but neither was any good so, this morning, I suggested that perhaps we should swap them back for the Ruger and I will use a scope so he put a scope on one of his rifles for me to try.  I don't know whether Doug was pleased or not as I fired three shots and we could only see one hole.  Yes, I had put three shots into the same hole.

Anyway, tomorrow we go back and get the Ruger with a scope.  Doug has always enjoyed target shooting so the least I can do is join him. 

Apart from all this I have also made a large pot of pea, lentil and vegetable soup so it should keep us going for a few days and on this morning's walk we saw two native pigeons slightly closer to home than the one we saw yesterday.  Yea.....

Friday, May 22, 2020


This morning on our walk I was thrilled to see a Kereru or native pigeon just a street away from us.  I had several visit when I lived in Kamo and there were a couple when I first arrived here but have not seen them for a while.  He/she was at the top of a tree so the photo is not the best.

Below is a better photo - this was taken from my lounge when I lived in Kamo.  

Later we had to go back into town for a couple of items and Doug dropped me off so I could cut through the park while he did his shopping.  People are definitely out and about and the car park was full.

We then met up at the Bistro de Paris for lunch as we wanted to support them knowing that they have had two lots of rent to pay with no income over the Lockdown period and we like their food.  Doug had a delicious Big Breakfast which consisted of bacon, sausages, mushrooms, tomato, poached eggs, hash brown and toast while I had their Buckwheat Galette with mushrooms, potato and blue cheese with a salad and a delicious cup of tea.  There were people coming and going although it was quieter than usual as it appears a lot of people who have been working from home are continuing to do so.

Thursday, May 21, 2020


There was still some cauliflower left over from our supermarket order ten days ago so I made cauliflower mash to have with the lamb and vegetable casserole (actually it was more vegetable and lamb).  

I first made this at the end of last winter and we really enjoyed it.

What I did today was steam the cauliflower with a little water at the bottom of a pot until it was soft.  After draining it  I  put some in butter and used a stick mixer to blend adding some grated cheese, salt, pepper and a grating of nutmeg.  It was delicious and much lighter than mashed potato.  We have quite a few cauliflower plants growing so I hope they do really well as this is a definite "YES".  The other vegetable we had was sliced cabbage with grated carrot cooked in the water from the cauliflower and this was then drunk with our meal.  No waste.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020


Today's highlight was the supermarket delivery.  The shopping is left on the doorstep and except for chilled items we  put it in the outside spare bedroom and use that as a store cupboard.  In this "ten day's" order was some lamb shoulder chops so the next thing to do was to trim them up and make a large casserole.  Tomorrow we will have the casserole and the rest will be frozen in "meals for 2" size packs.  We still have a couple of pieces of steak left from our butcher's order at the start of lockdown and one of the two bacon hocks for soup.

One item we have been eating more of during lockdown is eggs either scrambled, poached, as french toast or fried or in baking.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020


A beautiful sunny day today.  After our morning walk and doing some chores (changing sheets, 2 loads of washing etc) we drove in to town again.  We went to pick up the vynil curtain for the porch that had been ordered well before lockdown.  I think it will now be stored until spring.  Also picked up a book from the Library  - A Month in the Country by J.L. Carr.  I ordered it when John from By Stargoose and Hanglands blog recommended it on 20th March.  Of course it has been waiting during lockdown.  I have several books ready to read now.

Two Monarch butterflies were released and a couple of caterpillars put into the cage.  I just put another caterpillar in the cage and noticed two more butterflies - they will be released tomorrow if it is fine.

Monday, May 18, 2020


Today was the first day since Lockdown started that I have been out apart from our short walk around the streets in the morning and the one trip to get our flu vaccinations.

Parkinson's New Zealand has stated that there are to be no support group meetings until further notice and they will review in August which seems a long way away.

The locals who walk wanted to start walking again so we met (unofficially) near the Bascule bridge and some went over the bridge and walked right around the Loop walk and others went the other way and did a shorter return walk.  There is a coffee cart at the carpark so most got a coffee and cake to go and we sat outside while they had their drinks. 

I then received an email to say that I had a Library book to collect.  The Library opened today only for returns and collection of pre-ordered books.  As I had not expected to be going there I did not have my books for returning but it was very efficient, sanitise hands, follow arrows, give name and collect book/s - even though the email said there was just one book there were actually 2 books to collect and, when I got home, I got another email to say there is now a third book awaiting collection.

We then went to pick up some repeat medication for Sophie the Labrador and, on the way, went and got a couple of punnets of pansies.

There was a lot of traffic on the roads and a lot of people on the Loop walk as well.  No photos as I remembered too late, must have been too busy talking (or listening).

We have just had a phone call to say that a vynil curtain Doug ordered for the back porch is ready so we will collect it tomorrow and go to the Library once again.

I have just completed my supermarket order for Wednesday morning and, as we had some left over roast vegetables we had them with some bacon and eggs and a mix of baked beans and sweetcorn for lunch. 

Leftover mussel fritters this evening - not a bad life.

Sunday, May 17, 2020


A couple of weeks ago I came across an advert for this whisk.  Apparently, it is good for mixing dough but also for batters, cake mixes etc.  It arrived late yesterday and I am looking forward to trying it.  Has anyone else got one of these?  (I see the company sold out).



A neighbour just gave us some mussels so Doug made some fritters and said the new tool worked very well.

Saturday, May 16, 2020


Doug's first job this morning after our walk was to release five Monarch butterflies.  He has some pieces of shade cloth in the mandarin tree as they are able to grip this well and they stay there for a while before flying away.

On the first day we went down to Level 2 our hairdresser, who is a mobile hairdresser and comes to the house, phoned to make an appointment.  It was just under eleven weeks since she last came.  She also happens to be the lady who introduced us so has a special place in our hearts.

Anyway,  today we have both had a trim, only a trim, as with it going into winter we decided to have our hair longer than usual.  

Doug had a quick trip into town.  This is the first weekend that shops and the Growers' Market have been open.  We didn't venture to the market but Doug said the town was really busy, much more than on a usual Saturday.

Friday, May 15, 2020

FRIDAY 15th (Just to prove I know the date and day).

It is starting to get wintry so yesterday I made a batch of bacon hock, split pea, lentil and vegetable soup and very nice it was as well.  It is quite orange as I received the Orange kumara in my last supermarket order instead of the usual ones.  I also made some tomato and capsicum sauce from our tomatoes from the freezer and we had some with sausages and mash. .

This morning I had planned to bake some biscuits but didn't get around to it.  Apart from other small jobs that needed doing we received another load of firewood as, with being home all the time, it looks as though what we bought earlier in the season won't be enough.  So, between us, we moved and stacked.  With two wheelbarrows I load them and Doug empties and stacks in the woodshed.  I then took some soup down the road to a neighbour before preparing our lunch of mixed rice, tomato/capsicum sauce, lettuce salad and my version of Waldorf Salad with some gurnard.  It tasted much better than it looks.  I had already eaten some when I decided to take the photo.

Apart from some baking I also want to spend some more time in the garden.  I thought there was going to be lots of time with the lockdown but there is never enough.

Thursday, May 14, 2020


We have gone back down to Level 2 today - shops, cafes and restaurants are open but not bars.  Only waiter service with tables 2 metres apart and one must sign in.  I haven't absorbed all the things we can do or restrictions as we have no plans to do anything different at present.

We also have The Budget today, in fact it is being read right now.  We decided to wait until the evening news where the highlights will be given and repeated and repeated.

We are still getting Monarch caterpillars and Doug released 4 butterflies today.

This piece of Swan plant had 2 caterpillars on it.

I do not know the name of this plant - it just appeared but the butterflies like it.  If you know what it is I would like to know.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020


This morning, while we had our target practice, the birds were happily drinking from the sugar water container.

First the iconic Tui.  Every morning just before the 7 a.m. news we have a bird call,   here is the call of the Tui. I hope it plays for everyone.

Every time the Tui flew away the smaller Silvereyes (or White Eyes) came down.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020


There are not a lot of flowers in the garden at present but as we were returning from our walk yesterday morning I noticed some protea flowers so, as the flowers I had in a vase were nearing the end of their life, I picked them.  

I do like to have flowers in the house.

Monday, May 11, 2020


This afternoon I listened to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's announcement - well, actually, I listened to most of it but fell asleep as I am even more tired today as we had an even later night last night due to some unforeseen circumstances.  Jacinda announced that  this Thursday, May 14, New Zealand will begin moving into alert level two, with retail, malls, cafes, restaurants, cinemas, playgrounds and gyms able to reopen as long as they follow the physical-distancing and hygiene requirements. Moving around the country will be permitted, and health services will restart. Bubbles can be broken, but catch-ups with friends or family should be limited to 10.  Doug's granddaughter was hoping to re-schedule her wedding for the end of the month but I know she was hoping to invite more than 10 people so we just have to "wait and see" on that one.
Next Monday, May 18, all children will be able to return to school or early learning and next Thursday, May 21, bars can open.  She said "We have left bars till last because they do pose the most risk".
I presume that we will now be able to go to the library but, most likely, to pick up books ordered on line and to return books.
At the weekend I ordered some masks and have just heard that they have been sent.  It will be good to have them should we decide to venture out.

Sunday, May 10, 2020


We are both really tired today.  It could be because we watched television later than usual last night.  We don't watch very much but last night Antique's Roadshow was on followed by Britain's Ancient Tracks with Tony Robinson.  We have seen this series previously but it is well worth a second watch, especially with the way the world is going it seems more and more unlikely that I will get back to the U.K. again.  

So, not a lot achieved today but my supermarket order is coming in the next hour (ten days between orders seems to work well),

A cloudy day but no sign of rain.

Saturday, May 9, 2020


I could not understand how I had run out of A4 paper yesterday then, when I thought about it, I remembered that having stored it on its side in the filing cabinet it had started to curl and I had  put it somewhere where it could like flat.  Anyway, this morning I set about looking for it and, sure enough, I found it - about a quarter of packet so it will last me for a while - glad I hadn't ordered some more.  

While I was looking I came across a letter I had written on 23 December, 1951 - just before my 8th birthday.

"Dear Santa Claus
Will you please bring me a pencil box and a paint box and a big box of crayons and a packet of big eyed needles and a sewing box.

Love from 

Susan Banks"

I am impressed with my spelling back then.  Funnily enough the only wrong spelling was the village where I grew up.  I can remember writing it and thought it had been put on the fire to send up to santa.  I wonder whether I received everything.  I still prefer "big eyed needles"

Friday, May 8, 2020


I have had enough of looking at computer monitors.  I had to download and print some papers this morning but discovered that I am out of paper.  Things are taking so long to arrive because the couriers are overloaded so I will leave it for the moment and, if we have to go to town for something else under the new level, I can get some then.

I have just been through and updated my supermarket order for Sunday plus read blogs and checked emails etc.  I really should go through my inbox and delete some emails but will leave that for another day.  Every day seems to fly by.  I have done my daily skipping (120) and we are now going to have a short target practice.  Yesterday, Doug cut some flax stems into short pieces and stood them up in a row and I surprised myself by hitting 3 out of 4.  

Another sunny day but the vegetables are growing well.

Thursday, May 7, 2020


An aerial view of the shocking water level at Whau Valley Dam which will be shut down if insufficient rain fell in winter. Photo / Supplied

The above photo is from the front page of our local paper, The Northern Advocate, and is of our main dam.  The headline is that the dam may be shut.  The water level has dropped to 44% which is the lowest it has been since it was first filled.  If it drops to 15% it will be shut and if it is shut we will get all our water from the Hatea River (assuming it has enough flow).

We had 15mm of rain on Sunday which is enough to supply the city for a week.  Apparently, we normally expect about 50mm of rain in 24 hours but we haven't had that for 18 months and we have an average or below average rainfall forecast for the next three months.  On the radio news this morning Auckland is in the same situation.

Today has been sunny.  No wind to start with but it got up after lunch.  I don't seem to have achieved much.  The crossword and Sudoku and a couple of loads of washing done and a lamb/vegetable curry with  dahl - it was delicious for lunch and, hopefully, there is enough for a couple more days.  While I was cooking Doug unloaded and spread the load of topsoil he got yesterday when he went to Kamo to pick up some prescriptions.

The daily corona virus update was giving details of what Level 2 will be like when we leave level 3 but we missed it so will catch up on the news tonight.  On Monday we get told when we move to that level.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020


We got married three years ago today.  Although we have had a few showers it has been mainly fine today but the wind has ice in it.  Things must be very cold further south.  If we had got married today I would NOT have been wearing a sleeveless dress. 

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling

We both realise how lucky we are.  Although from completely different backgrounds we get on, have the same sense of humour, both enjoy walking (and are lucky to still be able).  The big change is that we both have longer hair now and are, of course, three years older.

Happy days.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020


For the second day in a row New Zealand had no deaths from or new cases of Covid 19.  Of course, this does not mean that there will not be more in the future but it is a good sign.  We are waiting to hear on Thursday what the next stage will be and when it will start.  There is a suggestion that we could join Australia in a large bubble as far as travel is concerned. 

On the weather front we started with a fine day but have had a couple of good showers and now the sun is shining again.  I much prefer this to a totally wet day.  I realise we desperately need rain but do not like days of damp. 

We have had a leg of lamb in the freezer for a while so we got it out of the freezer a couple of days ago and today had a delicious roast lamb with lots and lots of vegetables and gravy.  Yum.  This Lockdown is pretty good really. 

Monday, May 4, 2020


We were promised rain today but awoke to a beautiful sunny day.  It has been quite warm for this time of year.  Instead of staying indoors listening to the rain we had our usual walk and did some odd jobs that needed doing then I pruned a couple of roses.

Doug has been "working" on the sight for his air rifle and I can now hear him shooting.  I got a load of washing done and folded and will now go and get the rubbish ready for tomorrow and do my skipping - what excitement.

Had another go myself.  Not too bad.

Sunday, May 3, 2020


It is finally raining - well showers anyway.  Everything is so dry it will take a lot of rain to do any good.  A lot of rain is also needed to bring the Dams and Aquifers back.  Still, this is a start and the forecast is showing showers for a few days - fingers crossed.

Saturday, May 2, 2020


With no hairdressers being available during Lockdown we are both getting a bit shaggy.  We have lots of scissors but none really sharp enough for hair cutting so decided we had better buy a pair of specific hairdressing scissors.  We were surprised at the price of professional ones but found a reasonable pair and, while I was in the shop (a Chain store) I decided to look at books which led me to Dvd's. 

The scissors ended up quite expensive as I have ordered some DVD's:

The King's Speech
The Water Diviner
My Old Lady
Victoria and Abdul
and Jojo Rabbit.

They are all films that we have heard good reviews of  so will now have to make time to view them.

Yesterday Jean mentioned an exercise programme on T.V. this morning for "the oldies" so we tuned in to that - it was just half an hour so we will try and keep those exercises up as well as the walk and skipping.

Some rain is still forecast for the next three days.  I hope so.  It is hard keeping the garden going with just watering cans.  We have had a dry winter followed by a dry year and need a very wet winter.  The main dam is down to around 45 per cent.

Friday, May 1, 2020


It is May already - where did the time go.

We received our supermarket order just before 6 p.m. last night.  The only item not supplied was one of the Baking Powders.  I had ordered two different brands - one for a neighbour.  One had been replaced with a brand I had not heard of before.  It was in a sealed plastic bag so I opened it this morning and put half into a jar for me and then took the other half across the road to her. 

Earlier a friend, from the walking group, had messaged me to see if we would like some persimmons and, as I have been trying to find some locally I said I would love them.  She later phoned to say there was a mix up with her supermarket order and could we use some potatoes as she had ended up with far too many.  She was to leave them at the letterbox so I took a small gift down for her.

Doug had started to mow the lawn and I was across the road with the baking powder when she came.  Later on there was a tap at the door and it was our neighbour with a couple of scones for Doug that she had just baked with the new baking powder  and a couple of kumara as she had just dug some and speared them with the fork.

We had a couple of large tomatoes left from our previous supermarket order so I got some more out of the freezer and some capsicum and made a sauce.  I then mixed the leftover mash from yesterday with a little leftover vegetables (beans and sweetcorn) and an egg and fried that up into potatoe cakes and then put some gurnard in the tomato sauce to cook quickly for lunch.  It was delicious.  I love cooking (and eating the food I cook) but I also like easy where I can so usually cook enough root vegetables to do 2 days making the second day much easier.  I had thought I would have time on my hands with Lockdown but it is far from the case.

Now I had better go and do my skipping and get some target practice.  Doug likes to shoot with an air rifle and in the past couple of days I have had a go.  Today I changed guns half way.  The first one I hardly pressed the trigger and it fired whereas the second one was quite hard.  The outer shots were with the second gun.  Doug snapped me shooting and insisted I include the photo.  

Doug got the bulls eyes below.