Wednesday 29 June 2022

Matariki in Taranaki

Matariki is a new public holiday in NZ celebrating Maori New Year - at the time of the winter solstice here in the southern hemisphere. As you would expect, there is much significance attached to the appearance of Matariki, the set of stars known in the western world as Pleiaides. Remembering those who have died, new beginnings, links to planting crops, the shortest day/longest night and the beginning of lengthening days and a return of the sun - like Saturnalia in the northern hemisphere: the pagan celebration that was replaced by Christmas... Read more about Matariki here.

On Thursday morning we packed the car, loaded on the bikes and headed up to Taranaki, to stay with Jim and Judy for Matariki weekend.

David noted as we left the driveway that it was the third time we had packed to go away and not had a major meltdown. Things must be improving after 48 years ... 😊😊

He was right though. I think it was probably because David had packed his gear the day before while I was working so I wasn't stressing about him not being ready at the time we had agreed to leave. And we are now competent at loading the new Thule bike rack, which we failed on for our trip to Masterton a couple of months ago. 

We had breakfast in Foxton at the Windmill Cafe, and because it was quite warm and very sunny, and because we were wearing a goodly amount of clothing, we sat outside to eat a yummy brekky.

We stopped at Whanganui to visit Denny and Cheryl - only saw Denny though because Cheryl was out taking an elderly friend to get her nails done. 

It was later than lunchtime as we got to Waverley so I stopped for a Memphis Meltdown Gooey Caramel icecream on a stick. 

Doesn't that look delicious?


David said he didn't want anything but I found what looked like a yummy and almost healthy dairy free Kapiti icecream with boysenberries. So he obligingly worried it down. He's so helpful in these things!

Then it was on to Onaero. So good to see Jim and Judy again for a limited edition of a Zero Degrees weekend - just the four of us and Tom, their labrador. I'm fairly sure he doesn't have a degree...

The sunset was beautiful on both Thursday and Saturday evenings,  and Jim and Judy have the ideal place to see it from. Onaero is on the coast and J&J's house is on the top of the low cliff above the beach. This means wonderful views of the sea in all its moods. However it also means their property and the others along the same piece of coast are vulnerable to the erosion that climate change, the increasing number of  storms with high tides and strong waves are causing. However, the sunset was my focus as you can see ...

Thursday evening

Saturday evening when the rain front had passed through.


On Friday, I realised I had forgotten that I own at least 3 possum and merino tops: 2 beautiful cowl neck jerseys (one cherry red and one in midnight blue) and a long black jacket. And I hadn't brought any of them with me! How stupid was that, given it's the shortest days of the year and there was lots of snow on the mountain! And although I had taken woollen jerseys with me, I was a bit cold... So Judy mentioned there was a possum and merino shop in Stratford. Enough said. We were off!

To be fair, I reckon the shop was closer to Opunake than Stratford but Judy declares me wrong on that score. But it is on Opunake Road in an old dairy factory, I think.

So I managed to buy 3 more possum and merino garments:

  • a grape coloured poncho with a cowl neck
  • a beautiful emerald green cross-over jacket thing, and 
  • a grey and black loop scarf.

Toasty! And after all, someone has to keep the economy moving and it might as well be me!

Back to J&J's for lunch and then a snooze - we workers are a tired bunch...

Then up and at 'em for a 12 km bike ride on the rural roads near their place. It was a ride we have done before and it is very enjoyable. Quite chilly though, but the fresh air was a good tonic.

That evening we headed in to New Plymouth to see the lighting display that the district council had put on from near the windwand on the waterfront up the Huatoki Stream parkway to the main street.

It was a lovely event - because it was dark so early, lots of families were out. And the lights were great, there was live music and a few food trucks.

NP District Council has a very good rep for lighting displays. There is an annual Festival of Lights in the summer in Pukekura Park - that was cancelled this year because of Covid, so the budget was carried over to Matariki. A very good idea indeed!

Saturday it rained. But joy of joys, my lovely sister was coming out to visit. In her honour I made cheese scones (with plenty for her to take back to the family) and Judy made orange muffins. I had baked a special loaf of sourdough for Dee in my 8 loaf bake-off on Wednesday. 

The loaf for Dee - I'd be too scared to eat that given my atheism. However I can cut it into the unbaked loaf and then cook it for my lovely sister.

In the early afternoon, Jim, Judy and I went in to Waitara to an art exhibition and left David in Tom's care. They seemed to cope - when we got back Tom was pleased to see J&J and David was dozing on the sofa...

Jim and David in the conservatory waiting for food at some point of the day. They lead a tough life, so I am led to believe.

Judy made a very yummy veg and nutloaf as part of dinner that night - and kindly gave us half of the leftovers to bring home. And she made rhubarb crumble for dessert. The woman is a star!

We left by 8.30am on Sunday after breakfast, as I wanted to beat any rush of traffic back into the Wellington region. I also wanted to call in at Awanui Cemetery in NP on our way out to visit my dad's headstone. 

Had I researched where it was sited? No. Could I remember where it was? No. So we drove around the perimeter and then headed away. 

Note to self: Do the research  if I want to visit more purposefully ... Anyway, it didn't matter - Dad's not there. He lives on only in the memories of those who knew him and that is enough for me. Even driving around the cemetery, with no intention of getting out of the car in the rain to track down his headstone/marker, prompted lots of memories. 

The trip home was uneventful with some heavy rain at times - particularly in Levin where David needed to use the public toilets. He must have been desperate for a pee, because even though it was hosing down, he still wanted to stop. I, on the other hand, just clenched until we got home ...

We picked up fish (one terakihi and one snapper dinner) and chips at our local on the way home and that counted as lunch and dinner. I had wanted to have a nana nap but no chance as ACP was coughing on the bed beside me... 

Later that night, just before midnight I asked ACP if he could go and sleep somewhere else as his intermittent coughing was like listening to a dog giving loud sudden barks, and I just could not get to sleep. Or I'd drop off and then get shocked awake by the big dog beside me ...

His cold (not Covid - we tested him) is doing its thing, and he has been a bit miserable. I plied him with supplements the last two mornings and he is perking up. He's still not sleeping in my bed though - I'm a working woman and need my rest!

Monday 20 June 2022

Our first overseas travel for some time ...

On 7 June we came back from 5 days in Sydney - our first venture away from NZ since October 2019. Wow! That is the longest we have stayed in NZ for many years, I think.

David trying to find a way to use his noise cancelling headphones wirelessly in the plane's video system. The airline's headphones are too big for his ears - the noise cancelling ones could not be connected (it was the only cord he didn't bring ...) so I peeled the foam rubber bits off his airline ones and they sufficed unto the day.


Not a hugely active or sightseeing trip, but pleasurable - the main purpose was to see the lovely daughter and her new (to her) flat. It's her first home ownership and we had to go and see it, didn't we? It's got just the one bedroom so we couldn't stay with her, but that was fine. Verdict: small but perfectly formed. 1960s building, I think. She's on the upper floor (1st floor in NZ parlance, 2nd floor for those of the US persuasion). And one of the most important things is that the flat has excellent sun.

Sydney's suburbs are very green - lots of trees in gardens and along the streets; and we were delighted to see that Kirsty's suburb seems to be even more covered in trees than others.

See? Trees, green, more trees, more green.

 The Airbnb we stayed in in Marrickville was cool - a one bedroom cottage right next to the Marrickville Oval. With trees in the front of it, as you can see in the photo below. And across the park was a wonderful cafe where we ate breakfast on two days. 

That is David coming back across the park. Our airbnb is behind that wodden fence - the house has a green roof that you can see behind the croquet pavilion.

Breakfast at the cafe across the park, recommended by our hostess. David had scrambled eggs with ginger and a salad. Very yummy, I understand.

I cannot remember what mine was but it was pretty good - although I am not keen on eggs poached in vinegar and water. Far prefer the salt option for setting the whites myself.

We did a fair amount of walking - about 13000 steps on one day and 11000 on at least one more.

On Friday we had walked up to the IGA supermarket in Marrickville - lovely shop, great chat with the owner, but food is not cheap in Sydney, regardless of what people say. 


Nice houses on the way back from the IGA, I think.
Not sure where I saw this, but it did make me laugh!


On the way back laden down with enough groceries for twice the length of our stay, we chatted with a woman who was sweeping her porch... She used to live in Auckland (I extended my sympathies). Anyway she suggested that we may like to take a trip in to the city on the new light rail service. Yes we would, so we dropped the groceries off at the bnb and then walked over to Dulwich Hill Station. 

You can pay for public transport (well the trains and light rail at least) by tapping on and off using your credit card - great idea!

I asked a guy to take a photo of us - see below. And then he gave us a travelling commentary all the way into the city - very interesting.

Masks on all the way, that's us - we are good and well behaved

At Central Station, we got off the light rail carriage, walked about 10 metres down the platform and then got back on the train again to head back. 

That evening Kirsty asked about our day and was very amused, in that way that adult children have about the activities of their elderly parents, when we told her about chatting with:

  • two women in the cafe where we had breakfast
  • the owner of the IGA supermarket (he loves NZ fruit)
  • the proprietor of the Thai restaurant we'd had a takeaway delivery from the previous night - the restaurant is next door to the IGA so David popped in to tell them how much we had enjoyed the meal
  • the lady sweeping her porch
  • every dog we saw and most of their humans
  • the chap on the light rail.

On Saturday, after seeing Kirsty's flat and walking to and around Campsie, we ubered to somewhere near Newtown and had a yummy late lunch at restaurant called Little Turtle - a Thai vegetarian place. The food was delicious.

Sunday we had lunch in a cafe down on Circular Quay and then went to a Vivid Sydney event - A Conversation with Baz Luhrman. A really interesting session in the State Theatre. I need to find his films and watch them. And we will go to see the movie he was talking about in the theatre - Elvis, if for no other reason than to see Tom Hanks playing Colonel Parker.

On our way back from the station to the airbnb, the sun was about to set. Just beautiful.

Lovely, eh?

But on the Monday I was poorly - we had intended to head in to Circular Quay and then get a ferry to Watson's Bay for a wander around. But as we left the cafe across the park, I needed to dash back to the cottage. I think I may have been afflicted with a bout of food poisoning from the cafe on Circular Quay the previous day, dammit. 

So David headed up to the pharmacy to buy immodium and electrolyte tabs for me and I stayed close to the dunnyπŸ˜…πŸ˜ˆπŸ˜‰

I was still afflicted on Tuesday when we were flying back to NZ - which is a bit dodgy when travelling. But I had an aisle seat so it was fine, just a tad embarrassing that I was the one out of my seat the most ... πŸ˜…πŸ˜ˆπŸ˜‰

Lovely flight home, very smooth, then a good quick drive out of the city, even though it was rush hour. Transmission Gully makes an enormous difference, even if the hills eat up more petrol!

So back to work on the Wednesday morning and it's been all go in the 12 days since. At least I am earning more dollars for more flights. And that is necessary now that David has declared he is definitely travelling business class when we head to the UK next year!

Sunday 19 June 2022

Falafel and Hummus

 ACP** made falafel and hummus today.

** A Certain Person, aka the husband

I wish I had thought to be insensitive and take a photo of the six identical bowls with an identical amount of chickpeas in each - yes, he weighed them. The six bowls were to make sure he didn't overload Russell (Hobbs, the food processor). And that kind of precision was required because, heaven forfend that an additional chickpea or two might find its way into Russell if he used my slapdash method of using about a cup and a bit (where 'a bit' is not quantified to the last chickpea).

There were aspects that needed consultation with she of slapdash methods:

  • should the 1/4 inch thick parsley stalks be used or not?
  • does it matter if the spices go in Russell in unequal amounts with meticulously measured chickpeas?
  • etc
  • etc

All this consultation while I was working in my office adjacent to the kitchen...

Anyway, once the mixture was created and mixed up by hand in a large bowl where the contents of the original 6 bowls ended up via the bowl and choppers of Russell, it too was shared out into two bowls and meticulously weighed so there was an equal amount assigned to falafel and to hummus. Down to the nearest gram he proclaims proudly, if pedantically!

Here he is with the kitchen carnage - which he did clean up by himself luckily - for him... In the sink are 6 bowls that he used for chickpeas, 2 bowls that he used for measured out spices, and parsley/mint. Olive oil still on the windowsill, and the ornamental chickens from Bruges looking on in horror!

The two full bowls (each meticulously weighed - did I mention that?) beside him are about to be transformed at lightning speed where lightning is the slowest thing on the planet, into a beautifully patted down container of hummus, and 20 falafel.


I do love him, honest. And he does make me laugh, just as long as I don't have to be in the kitchen watching him work!