Thursday, December 31, 2020


 It is now just after 6 p.m. on New Year's Eve here.  Last night I set the alarm for 5.50 a.m. and we duly got up and headed straight to the Growers' Market.  I had not checked as I was certain that, once again, it was going to be on Thursday, not Saturday.  We arrived to find two empty car parks.  (One is used for the market and the other for parking).  Yes, it is on Saturday this week.

We came straight home and I was able to get into the garden and, among other things, cut back some shrubs that we encroaching on other ones.  The rest of the day has flown with usual day to day jobs.  

I picked the first two tomatoes tonight (Black Krim, one of my favourites).  They are quite a good size.  We have a lot of large tomatoes and I have my fingers crossed for a good crop but one can never know with tomatoes as blight can hit and demolish a crop.

Today's harvest.

I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year.  Let's hope with the new vaccine (and a new President in the U.S.A.) that things will improve for everyone).  I realise how lucky we have been here although, with Covid once again loose in New South Wales I don't want to be too complacent.  It could so easily turn up here again.

We are planning on a quiet night.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020


 I was born 77 years ago today in an English winter.  It doesn't seem possible - the years just fly by.  I said I just wanted a quiet day and it started with phone calls from the Welsh border, Canada, Australia and Auckland and messages from around the world.  We decided that we would drive down to the Town Basin as we have not been there for a while.

The gardens around the large sun dial were looking good.

as were the gardens next to the Fudge Factory which sells delicious ice creams as well as fudge.

This was the view as we ate our ice creams

and the view of the new Hundertwasser building taken from the river with the large crane which has been there for over a year.

After that we came home and cooked lunch between us and then put our feet up to read.  I was just about to make a cup of tea when a neighbour turned up so the three of us have just had a cuppa and now it is time to water the garden.  

Every night, at the moment, we have a new episode of the English Repair Shed so after the News we will watch that.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020


 I wanted to do a little shopping so first thing after breakfast we went into town.  Plenty of parking.  
To Farmers first where I bought a couple of pairs of jeans (not on shopping list) and some socks as the last lot I bought are perfect.  Also wanted to pick up a free cotton bag that was on offer.  Next to the Farmers' car park I noticed the lovely gardens

Then to Kathmandu where we had seen a bathroom bag on a good special so bought one of those each.  We then headed to Kamo where Doug bought a large bag of mixed grains for the birds.  We got home just as our hairdresser arrived - perfect timing.  

I noticed a box on our front porch.  Letters are not delivered until Thursday but, apparently, parcels are.  This was from my stepdaughter in Australia and was a wonderful assortment of goodies. We also had a message from Doug's eldest daughter that she would like to come for supper and would like some more flowers.

Hairdresser finished and just getting lunch when Doug took a phone call from a neighbour would we like to go to their place for afternoon tea.  I got the washing in and folded, picked the flowers, checked a few blogs and it was time to go out.  

We have had a pleasant couple of hours catching up on news and I have just picked a few vegies,  will get the watering done and D should be here.  I had planned to put my feet up and read this afternoon but it was very pleasant catching up on the gossip.

Can catch up on reading tomorrow.

Monday, December 28, 2020


A bit of a shock as we were woken at 4 a.m. by the phone ringing.  It was a cousin from Canada who had her times a bit muddled.  Anyway, once I was fully awake we had a lovely chat.  I managed to get back to sleep and we woke at 7.30 a.m. which was not too bad.

No Parkinson walk planned for today however four of us decided to go on a walk and met at the Tikipunga Sports Park.  We walked across the park and to the Whangarei Falls then down beside the Falls and back up the other side.  We then stopped for a coffee from the coffee cart there before heading back.  

The Falls are only a ten minute walk from home and we were amazed at the number of people and vehicles there.  Apparently, there were even more yesterday.  When we arrived we walked across a grass area and there were tape fences across it.  By the time we finished our walk this area was a car park filling up.

Anyway, it is an official Parkinson Walk next week so we decided to do the same again as the coffee was good and it is a pleasant walk.  Those that are capable can go down to the bottom of the Falls and those that want can wait at the top and get their coffee.

First Doug's photos taken with his camera.  He could not resist the hole in a sculpture to take photos in both directions

Some of the people there although as we went across the bridge and down beside the waterfall we passed bus loads of people.

Photos taken on my phone.  The waterfall is 26.3 metres high so there is a nicely placed seat on the way back up to the top of the Falls.  (or way down depending on which way you go)

This Puriri Tree is obviously extremely old.

Looks a bit dark in this photo but the overflow car park is filling up.

Back on the other side of the road walking around the park

We then went to the Supermarket which was quite full but not too bad.  We got through checkout quite quickly.

Home for lunch and the temperature dropped and we got some hail.  Sun out again now and Doug has gone to town to do some shopping while I write this and get the rubbish ready to go out.

Saturday, December 26, 2020


Cooler here today and a shower first thing which was a good start for a lazy day.  When it cleared I went out to pick some flowers.  I had bought some bamboo jugs to use for water and decided one would make a great vase so picked some crepe myrtle and alstroemeria.

As we went out for a meal yesterday there were no leftovers so I roasted a half leg of lamb with roast vegies.  While I did this Doug put up the "Monarch Butterfly" and lights in a bottle that his youngest daughter had given him. As the bottle is in the shade we are not sure how well it will charge.

We have just finished lunch and it is now time for a siesta (could be a long one).

Friday, December 25, 2020


Doug joined me on my early morning walk which was good.  After breakfast we opened our presents - not a lot as we decided not to give them to each other but a couple of things from a lady we take to the Parkinson walks and friends but the main present was the annual pewter ornament from my cousin this year's was a lovely wild rose.

The card with the rose says 
Even under the most challenging conditions, the Wild Rose can grow and flourish, brightening our summers with its beautiful and fragrant blossoms.Growing naturally along the dunes of a windswept beach or from the rocky soil of a meadow, its roots run wide and deep, grounding it strongly in place. Rose hips, valued for their healing properties, cling to the stems throughout the fall and winter, sheltering seeds for the future. Thorns along its branches protect the flowers and leaves. A combination of grace and grit, the Wild Rose thrives in sunshine and warm summer breezes but also survives throughout turbulent winds and storms. Remember that we have this same strength and resiliency to see us through to where we too will flourish and blossom.

The flowers on the table on the deck today.

At 11.30 we headed off for the family Christmas with Doug's youngest daughter. We watched 2 year old Theia and everyone else open her presents.  There were 10 of us around the table enjoying delicious ham, chicken and lamb with all the trimmings plus trifle, fruit salad and mini pavlovas to follow.  Just after 3.30 p.m. we headed home and were just finishing the watering when Doug's eldest daughter arrived and we have just had some sandwiches and will have more trifle and fruit salad later. 

So we will be watching the news shortly and I think there is a film we may watch while eating the trifle and that will be Christmas for this year.  I hope everyone is able to enjoy their Christmas in these trying times.

Thursday, December 24, 2020


 It was the Growers' Market this morning and we got there at 6.15 a.m.  After scanning in with the Covid App I took a quick photo.  The parking area was as full as it usually is at about 9.15 a.m. 

We bought the few items on our list - tomatoes (although ours are large they have not yet started to change colour, peaches (ours are a long way off, lettuce (I have a gap in supply) and avocados which we don't grow here, and half a dozen eggs (just in case).

We were home nice and early and I did some dead heading in the garden before breakfast.  We have just had  a lovely gentle shower.

I have the trifle to finish off with custard and cream and a fruit salad to make and that is it apart from some phone calls. 

Doug and I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy 2021.  Hopefully, with the new vaccines there will be a vast improvement in everyone's lives.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Baking, Trifle, and other things

 Last night we realised that we were out of honey so decided to head for the supermarket first thing.  We got there not long after 7 a.m. when they open and the car park was quite full.  Luckily, it was not too bad inside and we bought the honey and a few other items then found a fast checkout (less than 10 items) open and went straight through - no hassle and home in no time.  After breakfast, I changed sheets and got them on the line and then made my Christmas cake which is virtually a gluten free boiled fruit cake in a loaf tin.  

Gluten free flours vary a lot and I used one I have been mixing up from a gluten free cook book I bought this year.  As I had boiled up the fruit yesterday it was quite quick to make, the longest part being the baking.  I am pleased to say it is delicious and not crumbly as gluten free cakes can often be.  I like this loaf shaped cake as it is so easy to slice.

While I was doing this Doug went to visit a neighbour and was gone an hour or so.  I had made up a fresh batch of the gf flour and was just starting on lunch when he got home.  

After lunch we started on the trifle and got the cake, fruit and jelly in the fridge and will add the custard and cream tomorrow.  We then decided to read for an hour before having a cuppa with some of the cake.  At this stage another neighbour called in but she just wanted a chat and nothing to eat or drink.  

We have just had our evening meal (light) and are about to watch a new series of U.K.'s the Repair Shed.  That is enough for today.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020


 Well, I always seem to plan too many jobs for the day.  I had intended to make my fruit cake, the trifle, roast a chicken and some beetroot, potatoes and kumara in the morning as we had appointments in town in the afternoon.

The cake (cooked in a loaf tin) is basically a boiled fruit cake and I got all the fruit ready, sultanas, raisins, chopped cherries, chopped apricots, boiled with butter, sugar and water with a little brandy.  This all took longer than I had expected and it was time to get the "chook"(chicken) ready for the oven, pull and prepare half a dozen beetroot, some spuds and kumara and roast it all.  I must have done some other things as well, I usually do.  The beetroot leaves were cooked with some fresh beans for a vegetable and I did not have time to do any more with cake.  

We had lunch, and headed to town.  It was 26° again and when  we got home we had a cuppa with a piece of sultana cake and put our feet up to read for an hour.  Then it was time to water as, although it looked like rain and rain was forecast we didn't want to rely on it and things are so dry that a double dose will not hurt.

We were just finishing when it started to rain, nice and steady and, hopefully, it will go on for a couple more hours.

Some good news was that Jean's beans have started to flower, an unusual cream/white flower.

So, tomorrow, I will have to get the fruit cake mixed and baked and prepare the trifle.   That doesn't sound a lot to do does it - we will see what else eventuates.

Monday, December 21, 2020


The walking group had an extra walk today and it was a pleasant walk to Mair Park.  The tide was low.

The ducks were all lined up across the river as well as quite a few in the river.

We crossed the bridge and came across these three ducks and a goose

and a mother duck with only one surviving duckling.

There were only 7 of us on today's walk and we went  to a small cafe called "Kafe" right on the river and were very pleased.  The coffee, tea, smoothies and cakes all received a thumbs up.

After that Doug and I went and bought a new tyre for my wheelbarrow before heading to the supermarket for a couple of legs of lamb as they were out of stock when we shopped on 
Saturday.  We then headed to the local library as I had a book to return and one to pick up.  I was surprised it was closed but the librarian opened up for me - it was closed as there had been a power cut.

This afternoon I have started my baking.  A gluten free vanilla cake to make a trifle with and a sultana cake.  Tomorrow it will be a small fruit loaf which will be my Christmas cake and start on the trifle.

Sunday, December 20, 2020


I overslept this morning but was up and working in the garden at 7 a.m.  I wanted to plant some Borage that I had raised from seed and a few Lobelia but had to do some weeding and clearing beforehand.  I got it done, had breakfast and did a few other jobs before we went to the Gym at 11 a.m.  

When we got home we had lunch - a couple of years ago I bought a "spiriliser" to make courgettes into something like spaghetti.  I don't think I used it last year but last week decided to try it again and it was a great hit.  I saute the result with a little garlic and we have had it with scallops and today with a Bolognese style sauce.  It makes a pleasant change from g.f. pasta.

It reached 26° so we did a couple of indoor jobs before watching what was supposed to be the Christmas Race of the America's Cup but was finally abandoned due to lack of wind.

Both then went out to water and eldest daughter turned up - she had just left when youngest daughter arrived to pick up a spare table for Christmas Day. She stayed for a catch up and by the time she left we had missed the first part of the news so I don't know any more about the cyclone that hit Fiji.  We have just had a light meal and watched the final episode of Country Calendar and it is almost time for an early night.  Tomorrow is another day......

Saturday, December 19, 2020


 As usual, we went to the Growers' Market first thing this morning. It was slightly later than usual and was about 7.15 a.m. when we left the market and stopped to drop some library books off  when I took this photo of the Jacaranda outside Forum North (The Town Hall).  

We bought our usual avocados, tomatoes and kumara plus some peaches.  When I got home and put the peaches out the scent was strong.  It always takes me back to my childhood.  Usually, in summer, my mother would take my brother and me from Surrey to Oswestry in Shropshire to stay with her sister.  We had to change trains (and stations) in London and mother would buy a peach and with a lovely small knife that she carried would divide it into three and we would all enjoy this rare taste.

25 ° today and still no sign of rain although I see some forecast for later in the week - have not heard more of where the cyclone is headed after doing its worst in Fiji but even if it comes our way it will be downgraded.

Friday, December 18, 2020


 I love alstroemeria  and we have seven different varieties.  They flower for a long period, are colourful and keep well once picked but the ones that are not picked need pulling out as they get very untidy.  I decided that today was the day to tidy them up and make some mulch.

The main alstroemeria bed before I started.

The first load.  My wheelbarrow had a flat tyre (puncture I think) so I borrowed Doug's which is larger

My little electric mulcher machine.  It makes quite a good job although there are some long strips.

The main bed looks better afterwards although there are still some older pieces to pull out.  They will have to wait a while.

While I was doing this Doug went and did some work for his eldest daughter.

Still waiting to hear the result of the cyclone on Fiji.  This morning there was one dead but, of course, due to communications being down the final toll may not be known for some time.  There were thousands in shelters.

Thursday, December 17, 2020


 Another "at home" day and, after my walk I got more planting, potting and weeding done.  I had just come indoors when Doug's eldest daughter came around.  She has been spending the nights at home this week and has also gone back to work although she wants us to keep the spare bed in the sun room in case she decides to return.  

She had just left when I checked the mailbox and found the hedgehog back where we first found it in the full sun (26° C today).  I moved it back to Kim's run and we gave it some food and water and it ate and drank. 

Later we watched the Americas Cup Race between the U.S.A (skippered by a Kiwi) and New Zealand and U.S.A won.

Meanwhile, Cyclone Yasa is making landfall in Fiji and a State of Natural Disaster has been declared.  Wind gusts  are expected up to 350 km per hour.  It is category 5, the highest category.  While we need rain the last thing we need is the remains of a cyclone so we will be watching with interest to see where it heads after leaving Fiji but, in the meantime, things are serious in Fiji, flooding has already occurred. 

Image from Nasa Earth Observatory yesterday.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020


 A few days ago I saw a Salt Lamp on one of the blogs I follow and, after discussing it with Doug, we decided to buy one so on Monday as we were in town we went to the Himalayan Trading Post, a shop run by the local Buddhist Centre, and purchased one.  We are pleased with our purchase which gives off a pleasant glow and, apparently, has other properties.

It has been another "at home" day and I have been re-potting more plants.  Our tomatoes are coming on nicely and we are looking forward to them ripening.

The beans that I received from fellow blogger, Jean,are doing well but not flowering yet.  I think they are Carioca beans from Brazil but we call them "Jean's Beans".  The dwarf ones I bought and the Dalmation beans are both cropping well.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020


We took Bobby to the vets for his vaccination booster today and when we got home were surprised to see a hedgehog walking across the drive.  It is the first time we have seen a hedgehog here and it is very hot (29° C. ) He/she was heading towards the dish under some pansies, obviously looking for moisture.

We put him in Kim's old run to get him out of the heat and  gave him  a dish of water and one of dog sausage.  He ate all the sausage and then went to sleep.  I have now opened the run to give an airflow to help keep him cool.

We hope he will be all right and stay in our garden.

Monday, December 14, 2020


Today was supposed to be our last walk of the year and we usually go somewhere and all take a plate of food but one of the ladies offered to have us at her house and provide savoury food and we took something sweet. She lives in town so we met at her place and walked down to the Rose Gardens and then the Shade houses.  

It was an enjoyable amble and was a very pleasant 24° C. 

At the edge of the Rose Gardens I noticed these Alstroemerias, I assume they are the original one and I love them, they are so Christmassy with their green and red.  I had a good bed of them in Kamo and brought some here but they vanished under the modern ones.

In the hot house was this plant and, I am afraid, I did not notice its name.

I don't know how often they change the plants in the hot house but it always looks good.

A shadehouse

and outside the palm trees against the lovely blue sky.

We got back and had an enjoyable catch up and delicious food.  It was decided to have one more walk for the year.

Sunday, December 13, 2020


 Another cat but this time it is one that does not need feeding.  Doug has been pottering about in his workshop again.  Apart from that, we have been to the gym and, of course, worked in the garden.

Saturday, December 12, 2020


 Apart from going to the market and supermarket this morning we have had three days at home catching up on jobs.  I know we have both been busy all the time but struggle to recall exactly what we have been doing.  Mainly mundane things like gardening, housework, sorting out cupboards, gardening, pre-Christmas things etc.

It amazes me the amount of birds we have on our section but one can walk past any of the birds and they will sit and look at you until you have a camera in your hand. With some bribery, Doug managed to get some photos of the more common birds the other day.  

and some shots taken on my phone of the Christmas lights at night.