Monday, 30 June 2008

Famous last words

Billy Graham's wife once saw a local roadsign, and thought it would be the perfect wording for her gravestone:
‘End of construction. Thank you for your patience.

A rabbi was asked what words he would like spoken over him when he was dead and in his coffin. He replied "Someone shouting, look, he's still moving!"

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Behaving Badly

Today my husband teased me in front of a friend “This morning you made sandwiches out of toast bread and left the sandwich bread for toast”. My reply was, “I was acting outside of the box.”
My husband’s retort, “My dear, the only time you will ever act inside of the box is when you are carried out in one”.
As my better half is 12 years older than me, I am assuming he will not be around to observe this event– except perhaps from the Heavenlies……..!

Brief history of shipping in NZ

1642 Abel Tasman was the first European to discover the Islands, but he thought they were part of the mainland of South America.
1769 Captain Cook lands at Gisborne: Poverty Bay. He then circumnavigated the Islands and charted the coast.
1814 First Missionary Settlement established in the Bay of Islands
1839 The Islands were included within the boundaries of New South Wales
1840 On 22 January the S.S Aurora arrived at Port Nicholson ( Wellington) with the First settlers. On 6th February the Treaty of Waitangi was signed, whereby all powers of Sovereignty in New Zealand were ceded to Queen Victoria and Captain Hobson became Governor
1841 New Zealand proclaimed a separate colony.
1873 The New Zealand Shipping Company was inaugurated at Christchurch and commenced trading with 18 ships, including those under charter, having an average tonnage of 830 tons.
1883 The Company started a monthly service of Steamships1
907 New Zealand proclaimed a Dominion
1912 The New Zealand Shipping company amalgamated with the Federal Steam Navigation Company
1914 The Panama Canal was opened to the World's traffic on 15th August, 1914, and the Company was the First to make use of it later in the same year.
1914 - 1918 The Company lost 11 ships, aggregating 86,000 tons, during the First World War.
1939 - 1940 The Centenary of New Zealand as a British Colony was celebrated throughout the Dominion.
1939 - 1945 The combined losses of the New Zealand Shipping Company and Federal Steam navigation Company in the Second World War amounted to 19 ships, aggregating 195,000 tons

Courtesy of the late Owen Shaw, Editor of New Zealand Herald, Auckland's daily newspaper.

Shipping News

For those of you about to sail to the capital, in the last hour maximum gust 70km per hour / temperature 5 degrees C. Wind direction SSE, barometer 997.8.
Yes, winter weather in Iceberg land has arrived. Enjoy!!!!!

Friday, 27 June 2008

Recipe for the blues

I didn't write this list, but found it very amusing, thanks Mike for forwarding

1. Most Blues begin with: "Woke up this morning..."
2. "I got a good woman" is a bad way to begin the Blues unless you stick something nasty in the next line like "I got a good woman with the meanest face in town."
3. The Blues is simple. After you get the first line right, repeat it.Then find something that rhymes, sort of: "Got a good woman with the meanest face in town. Yes, I got a good woman with the meanest face in town. Got teeth like a ‘gator, and she weigh 500 pound."
4. The Blues is not about choice. You stuck in a ditch, you stuck in a ditch. There ain't no way out.
5. Blues cars: Chevys, Fords, Cadillacs and broken-down trucks. Blues don't travel in Volvos, BMWs, or SUVs. Most Blues transportation is a Greyhound bus or a southbound train. Jet aircraft and state-sponsored motor pools ain't even in the running. Walkin' plays a major part in the blueslifestyle. So does fixin' to die.
6. Teenagers can't sing the Blues. They ain't fixin' to die yet. Adults sing the Blues. In Blues, "adulthood" means being old enough to get the electric chair if you shoot a man in Memphis.
7. Blues can take place in New York City but not in Hawaii or anyplace in Canada. Hard times in Minneapolis or Seattle is probably just clinicalndepression. Chicago, St. Louis, and Kansas City are still great places to have the Blues. You cannot have the blues anyplace that don't get rain.
8. A man with male pattern baldness ain't the Blues. A woman with malepattern baldness is. Breaking your leg 'cause you were skiing is not the blues. Breaking your leg 'cause a alligator be chomping on it is.
9. You can't have no Blues in a office or a shopping mall. The lighting is wrong. Go out to the parking lot or sit by the dumpster.
10. Good places for the Blues: a. highway b. jailhouse c. empty bed d. bottom of a whiskey glass Bad places for the Blues: a. Nordstrom's b. gallery openings c. Ivy League colleges d. golf courses
11. No one will believe it's the Blues if you wear a suit, 'less you happen to be an old ethnic person, and you slept in it.
12. Do you have the right to sing the Blues? Yes, if: a. you older than dirt b. you blind c. you shot a man in Memphis d. you can't be satisfied No, if: a. you have all your teeth b. you were once blind but now can see c. the man in Memphis lived d. you have a 401K or trust fund
13. Blues is not a matter of color. It's a matter of bad luck. Tiger Woods cannot sing the blues. Sonny Liston could. Ugly white people also got a leg up on the blues. 1
4. If you ask for water and your darlin' give you gasoline, it's the Blues. Other acceptable Blues beverages are: a. cheap wine b. whiskey or bourbon c. muddy water d. nasty black coffee The following are NOT Blues beverages: a. Perrier b. Chardonnay c. Snappled. Slim Fast 15. If death occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack, it's a Blues death. Stabbed in the back by a jealous lover is another Blues way to die. Soare the electric chair, substance abuse and dying lonely on a broken-down cot.You can't have a Blues death if you die during a tennis match or while getting liposuction.
16. Some Blues names for women: a. Sadie b. Big Mama c. Bessie d. Fat River Dumpling
17. Some Blues names for men: a. Joe b. Willie c. Little Willie d. Big Willie
18. Persons with names like Amber, Jennifer, Tiffany, Debbie, and Heather can't sing the Blues no matter how many men they shoot in Memphis.
19. Make your own Blues name Starter Kit:a. name of physical infirmity (Blind, Cripple, Lame, etc.)b. first name (see above) plus name of fruit (Lemon, Lime, etc..) c. last name of President (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore, etc.) Examples: Blind Lime Jefferson, Jackleg Lemon Johnson.
20. No matter how tragic your life, if you own a computer you cannot sing the blues

Hippo Warning

We have installed binoculars for wildlife sightings on our section. We have produced mud flows around half of our house, so we're waiting for hippos to take up residence in the moat.

Wheelbarrow Traffic Accident

No wheelbarrows were injured in the making of this movie. Parental guidance recommended.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Men down muddy holes

We are living, somewhat poetically, on an island in a sea of mud. The cats are captive and not enjoying a minute of it. The neighbour's cat, which is pure white is LOVING prancing around in the mud slicks down the driveway and in the surrounding piles of clay dug.

To really make our day today, one of our neighbours drove into the back of our car. So we are now without transportation as the damage is to the panel which includes the roof. Big bucks.


Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Non sequitur Sir

A great quote from last night’s dinner party for 7. I happily carried in a very large coffee cake I had baked for dessert, and my barista friend from Oregon quipped, “Is it Decaf?”

Monday, 23 June 2008

Calling brave hungry souls

The builders have recommended that we run drainage down the side of the house into a large soak pit under the lawn. The occupants of the house in the valley, just below our property will probably be relieved. I suspect at the moment that they just get run-off from our garden and the underground spring.

More mud, more noise.

Still, we have a cellar full of good wine, and I’m planning to invite brave people to dine with us regularly, so that we have an excuse to get through it.

The only pre-requisite for eating with us will be that you can jump over a moat after several bottles of Cabernet Sauvignon without falling into the clay pit.

Jacket Not Required – Gumboots a must.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Trilbys and violin cases

Our Brazilian lodger had a very loud response to yesterday’s post. He claims that this small town (which will remain nameless) must be “washing money”. How else, he cried, could they possibly be staying in business? There must be some shady underworld dealings behind so many food stores and restaurants.

That such a sleepy suburb by the sea should be a mafia stronghold had me hooting with laughter.
I’ll be watching out for overweight gents getting out of limos, smoking Cuban cigars and draped with blonde arm candy.

Saturday, 21 June 2008


Today I had reason to walk the full length of the high street in a nearby town. I was delighted to find that there were no less than THREE shops selling clothing for “significant” ladies, in other words, size16-30. I was delighted to find a pair of smart trousers in one of them, so felt the trip was very worthwhile.

As I walked back through the town, I began to notice that a large proportion of the retail outlets were cafes, restaurants or specialist food shops. There is a Dutch shop, a German bakery, a Vietnamese/French Bakery, a South African delicatessen, an Italian grocery/café/restaurant, three Turkish cafes, a Korean/Lebanese café (fusion gone freeky), as well as 15 Kiwi cafes, Indian, Chinese, Thai and Malay takeaways, an American burger joint, two pizza palaces and three pubs which sell pub food.

I now realise WHY there are three ladies outfitters for the overfed woman……….

Thursday, 19 June 2008

An Englishman's home....

Just when I thought our lives couldn’t get more complex, today builders dug a moat around part of our house. This is Part One of a mud opera to correct drainage on our property and super duper earthquake proof the house, which about 40 years old.
The cats were locked in, and only allowed out after the diggers had left. Otto protested loudly at the circumstances and muttered as hubby carried him around to show him. Her ladyship just sat in the laundry basket all day, with a bird’s eye view of the proceedings through the French windows. Otto requires ear muffs, Cookie has a list of questions for the builders and wants a schedule so that she can plan her ablutions/snoozing around the “interesting” parts of the digging project. After all, far be it from her to miss a whisker of adventure – even from the lofty heights of the ironing board.
To be continued

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

One's Home and One's Garden

Have you noticed how much change there has been in the popular magazine world in the last 15 years? I suspect the people who write them are recruited pan-galactically, as they don’t seem to be in touch with life on planet earth.

I subscribe to a magazine dealing with interiors and gardens. By coincidence, this weekend, I was given the second ever copy of the magazine, which was published in 1994.

It was fascinating to put them side by side and page through them. Not only had the content changed, everything had - from the fonts to the quality of photography and the layout. The 1994 edition was much more “homey”, with real people, living interesting lives, cooking creatively, but without pretention.

The 2008 edition is heavily styled and full of sophistication, with the exotic recipes and interiors of an aspirational lifestyle. Much as I drool over the well manicured gardens and the glamorous interiors, it is as far removed from my current life as it is possible to be.

Tonight I ate my “oh so ordinary” lamb shank dinner (they were on “special” this week), facing my pile of ironing stacked in the living room. The furniture in the house doesn’t match and our house style would be politely called eclectic. I realise that I live much closer to the 1994 edition than the 2008 one.

I’m wondering if I can ask for retrospective subscriptions.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Trains of thought

I had a random thought on the train this morning.

You call a guy who is mad about cars and fixes them on the kitchen table a "petrol head" - right?

So what does that make me, who has needlework projects all over the living room - a "crochet head"? It really doesn't translate well does it?

"Needle head" doesn't cut it either.

There has to be term to cover ladies who do crafts with their hands when they are watching TV.

Got any suggestions?

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Sharing the good things in life

I have a good friend (she knows who she is) with whom I share a passion for cats. We are always exchanging kitty stories, objects d'arts, jewellery etc etc. The above is a tea towel she inherited recently, which I simply HAD to scan. The problem is, I could NEVER use it for wiping dishes. It's way too cute. My suggestion Mrs B is that you iron it out and frame it for your kitchen. I am sure a certain Ginger Gent would appreciate it.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

A freezing but sunny day

A view of our city from across the bay. Cold, sunny and perfect for a walk along the beach.

Goodbye green and hairy

At the risk of this blog turning into something that sounds food obsessed, I have a sad report to make. There are not likely to be many gooseberry pies or crumbles in our household for a while. My dad called me tonight from the UK. He was very depressed that his gooseberry crop this year was only 3.5lbs. The problem has been the lack of rain. So the normally abundant north east of England is not getting good fruit crops.

The lack of goosegog pie on our menu in the southern hemisphere is also due to lack of rain. Our country depends heavily on hydro electricity. Due to low water levels in the lakes, we are anticipating power cuts and shortages at peak periods. So pie baking will be verboten. We’ll cook on the gas rings and go pudding-less.

Mercifully, we can keep warm by storing a cat inside our jumpers!

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Dairy festival

Sunday evening marks the beginning of the Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost to Christians). Traditionally, it is a festival where only dairy products are eaten (no meat). This suits me just fine, being passionate about cheese, yoghurt and butter. We have a small problem at the moment however, the price. We are paying European export prices on Kiwi salaries. There is no shortage of dairy to eat, but I tend to walk past that cabinet at the supermarket these days.

And on the subject of prices, I believe in the US you are paying over $4 a gallon for petrol. Be of good cheer, we pay over $6 and the UK just over $10.

Come to think of it, if any of my American friends would like to mail me some New Zealand butter, it would probably be cheaper...........

Thursday, 5 June 2008

False Gods

A funny picture in our living room this morning; a confused cat huddled up to a large white object.

When we first inherited our cats from our next door neighbour, they had a habit of curling up to our mobile oil filled radiator. In their previous house, it was the only source of heat, so we dubbed it “The White Heat Emitting God”, with two humble worshippers bowed down before it.

The WHEG was abandoned after they discovered they could sit under warm air vents in our living room, sending heat from the ceiling.

After cleaning the carpets in our house on Monday, I have positioned our mobile dehumidifier at different points, just to ensure that the carpets dry completely.

This is a “White Cold Air Emitting God”. The cat is puffed up next to it, no doubt confused why the service is slipping in this establishment.

You just can’t get decent staff these days!

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

No Michellin Stars Required

Because I was born in 1961 to a mum who served during the World War II, I was raised on wholesome, but simple food. This included vegetables and fruit that Dad grew, to supplement the pantry.

So, favourites included bread and butter pudding, semolina pudding, macaroni cheese and Toad in the Hole.

Let me explain. No amphibians were hurt during the execution of this culinary exercise. But translating this dish into Portuguese for our Brazilian lodger is quite a challenge. It comes out like Bullfrog in a Dent. Hmm.

The recipe calls for beef sausages and Yorkshire pudding batter. The sausages are cooked first, then you pour batter around them in a scorching hot tin. This rises and becomes crunchy, submerging the sausages. Gallons of hot onion gravy are required to drown the Toad.

I don’t think I have made this dish since I was a student, but tonight decided to give it a whirl, in spite of its merits being lost in translation on our lodger.
Verdict and marks out of ten later.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Royal Rugs

Today is the first birthday of this blog. Thank you to the 3000 + of you who have visited. It is also the day that Kiwi’s celebrate the birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

In a mood to celebrate myself, I went out and hired a Rug Doctor.

This is not a non-sequitur. I am bordering on obsessive about our carpets. It comes of having two cats and asthma.

I’m rounding off the day with an aching back from dragging the carpet cleaner around. But there is a tomato, pesto and Mozzarella tart in the oven and a glass of Riesling on the table.

So cheers Queenie! Happy Birthday You! And for the 3000 – thanks for stopping by. Be assured that the blog is now typed from a squeaky clean carpet in honour of you and Her Majesty.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Moving on

Yesterday, I realised I no longer thought of myself as an immigrant to this country. The event that sparked this was making a milk shake with my German blender.

I bought it about eight years ago when I was living in the Middle East. It has a European two pin plug. As I don’t use the blender often, I had kept the old plug and used an adaptor in the kitchen socket.

I believe there was a strange psychology attached to not changing the plug. It belonged to my “other life”. I lived in E. Europe, then the Middle East, and curiously the plug worked in both, but not here. Other electrical items had been given to my better half at weekends so he could replace the plugs – but not the blender. It was the last bastion.

But making the shake just got me frustrated. The adaptor was falling apart, so the pulse on the blender was intermittently cut off.

“That’s it!!!! The Euro pin HAS TO GO!”

I’ve made it, I’m a Kiwi. If I can prevail upon the man in the house today, the last plug will emigrate, and so will I.