Monday 28 December 2015

A blogging gap explained

Well, for a retired person I seem to have been very busy and occupied. Not that that should surprise me given how busy most retired people are that I know. David and I often remark that we don't know how we fitted work in to our lives previously, but it did help that from aged 55 David was the retired one who could handle life's administrivia while I was gainfully employed.

Christmas was a social whirl from beginning to end - those extremities seem to extend well beyond the actual day and involve much food and wine - Xmas Day was an organised pot luck for fourteen at Bruce and Gary's. We stayed over with 6 other guests, three of whom were in two camper vans, and the three other guests went home. It was a wonderful meal and lots of laughter. Nibbles and bubbles were served out on the deck prior to the meal - it was a scorching hot day here in Waikanae. We do love Xmas in the summer! Strange I know for northern hemisphere people to understand but it just feels right to us, even though most of our Christmas cards feature snow, holly, robins, etc - we are used to the contrary and contrary view of the festive season.

On Boxing Day we had visitors so it was home from B&G's after brekkie, make  a batch of cheese scones, plate up some nibbles, wine into fridge, table and chairs restored to the lawn from their lawn-mowing retreat, a quick clean up of the kitchen which had been left incomplete as we departed for B&G's the previous morning. (My schedule had forgotten to take account of bubbles and photography session at the neighbours on Xmas morning, so even though I'd been up at 7.30 to make 14 individual chocolate puddings, a large salad and to decant 3 litres of gravy into a large pot for transporting and carve two legs of lamb, I was not organised enough to get all the dishes done before we left - note to self: must improve planning skills!)

The 27th was D Day for the start of the bathroom renovation, but more of that in the next post - it requires photos and right at this minute I have to get up and get pots filled so we have access to water today and that porta potti needs emptying ...

Sunday 13 December 2015

Have Gold Card, will travel - for free!

Although my Gold Card arrived a week ago (the Monday after my birthday) today is the first day I have used it. I had an osteopath appointment in the city this morning at 9am and would have had to leave home by car about 7.30am to be sure of getting in and parked on time. As the train that would get me there in plenty of time also left at 7.30, I decided to be a passenger rather than a driver - a much cheaper option when most of the travel is free (i.e. after 9am). So I left home 15 minutes earlier to walk to the station and joined the commuters. A number of them were looking a bit jaded in the run up to the Xmas/New Year break, and I felt inordinately pleased that I was in jeans and a T-short while they were dressed for business ...

Given the travel was going to be free from 9am, I decided that after my osteopath appointment, I would also go out to Lower Hutt by train. I wanted to buy a container to feed the TV/dvd player/Apple box cords through so they don't look so untidy on the floor behind the equipment. I would rather have them reposing in a box where they may well multiply (see previous posts for my theory on the reproductive tendencies of power cords) than have them out doing so in full view!

So off on the train I went to Melling, then a 10 minute walk to the shop, a bit of faffing around as I found the box that would do the trick, a 10 minute walk back followed by half hour wait in the sunshine for the next train back to Wellington. 
A bit hard to see Wellington city in the background, but believe me it's there - this is the view down the Hutt River as I walked from Melling Station to the shopping centre. Not a cloud in the sky!

As all services were running on time today, my transfer to the Waikanae train was easy with over 10 minutes to spare. I am pleased that my usual habits of jinxing every Waikanae-bound train I have travelled on since we got here 12 months ago has let up for a bit.

The scenery on both trips was wonderful and it was a brilliantly sunny day, so Wellington Harbour looked stunning, as did Kapiti Island on my way back. As Dave Dobbyn sang several years ago you can't beat Wellington on a good day.

A view from the train as I headed back to Wellington - showing the entrance to Wellington Harbour and the airport - the flat bit of land on the RHS of the photo).

Part of Wellington city as we came along the harbour's edge.

Not the best photo but this is Kapiti Island from the Waikanae train as it goes along the side of the hills above State Highway 1 - just so you know, that is our main highway, NZ's equivalent of the M1 ... Not a lot of SH1 is dual carriageway, and a helluva lot less of it is motorway. But then, we have the population of Birmingham living in an area pretty much the same size as mainland Britain, so we don't need the roading capacity.
I was home by just after 1pm, with my mission started - to make sure I use my Gold Card as much as possible. It's lifelong and I hope my membership of the club is for a very extended period!

Saturday 5 December 2015

I like birthdays!

I am now officially an OAP, and am eagerly awaiting my first National Super payment (due on 15th Dec). Not sure what I will spend the new riches on, but am not setting my sights too high, given it's not a huge amount ...

On Friday, my actual birthday, we had a great party here at Cafe Rata, where the guests brought along most of the food and most of the drink. A number of them also brought presents, which was not expected but a lovely surprise. I received some lovely plants for the garden, some very yummy chocolates, and an Aynsley cup, saucer and plate. I am a collector of such china and have managed to squeeze this one into one of the three china cabinets ...

David organised a cake from a local bakery. For non-NZers' edification: Winston Peters is an MP here who some years ago introduced the Gold Card for superannuitants - free public transport (within limits) and discounted services and goods that suppliers could offer.
By my birthday, my Gold Card hadn't arrived, so David had the cake decorated appropriately for me. However, I have a sneaking suspicion that my card may have arrived earlier in the week but he secreted it away to make the cake more apposite. I will have to torture him with the threat of cold water to discover the truth!

Blowing out the candles - lucky for David that he didn't use 65 of them ... As it was he knew we had candles somewhere but he couldn't very well scour the kitchen without my getting suspicious, so John and Jenny from next door provided the firepower. You will note, I know, that my chardonnay was not far away, in case of flames erupting uncontrollably of course!

As I said, the party was great - lots of fab friends came to help celebrate my coming of age, i.e. pension age. Champagne cocktails, chardonnay and a couple of large glasses of water before I went to bed at 1am. I'd have to confess to feeling a bit tired yesterday afternoon, but of course pensioners are allowed nana naps ...

And my Gold Card turned up yesterday - suspicious timing, or what?!!

Wednesday 2 December 2015

National Superannuation - I am ready!

Well, tonight is my last night of being 64. Tomorrow I qualify for NZ's National Super, so will officially be an OAP. I am still waiting for my Super Gold Card to get free public transport and discounts at a range of retail outlets - I hope it arrives soon!

Birthday party tomorrow evening - guests are bringing a plate of finger food and a bottle.

Chicken nibbles are marinating in the fridge; champagne cocktail components are ready: ginger and lemongrass syrup is made and lychees are purchased, 5 bottles of bubbles are in the fridge. And of course a couple of chardonnays are there too.

So tomorrow all I have to do is cook the chicken nibbles and make some mini-sized Ministry of Food cheese scones, do some clearing up, rearrange the lounge dining room and put a drinks table in the hallway.

Such organisation seems a bit grown up to me - I will have to change that behaviour immediately!