Monday, 31 August 2009

Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot

Riwaka, S. Island NZ. I went for an early morning walk from my friend's backpacker Eden's Edge. It was a hazy autumn day, and I fell over this wonderful weeping willow, just waking up.

Check out other trees at

Sunday, 30 August 2009

A bit of trivia

Which two animals have been responsible for killing the most people worldwide?

According to the "Book of General Ignorance" by John Lloyd and John Mitchinson the answer is:

1) The female mosquito and
2) The Marmot.

The female mosquito is responsible for killing up to half of the people who have ever died (45 billion). Even now they kill someone every 12 seconds.

The Marmot kills you by coughing on you. The bobac variety, found on the Mongolian steppe was responsible for Bubonic plague.

So there you have it.

A special lady

I have just nominated a special lady to attend The Jewish Bloggers Convention in Israel next month; Dr Rivkah Lambert Adler.

Check out her lovely blog at

Read more about the convention at

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Glorious Meteorological Melange.

Spring has sprung, we had a stunning walk by the beach this morning and we ate lunch in the garden where our plum tree has its first flowers. This afternoon, en route to the post box, I passed the local Salvation Army Citadel. A band was practising "In the mood", which was a slight surprise, but I suppose that's spring for you.

Tomorrow is another day. A severe weather warning, and we will need to batten down the hatches.

Friday, 28 August 2009

“Still Wobbly – Part 2”

From now on, the guys can stop reading, unless of course you want to blush.
Having established that the capital was not only “still there” but functioning as normal (albeit with a raging gale force wind), I decided to venture out at lunchtime on a quest for the holy grail. Yes, a bra. This is my third attempt in three months. Every time I have come out of the shop thinking I was deformed. Why was there every size except mine?
I have a number of questions concerning this pursuit.
1) Why is it so darn complicated? It’s binary for crying out loud. Two boobs require two straps, two wires, two cups and two hooks and eyes at the back.
2) Why do bras come labelled in 7 different sizes, according to the bit of the planet you are standing on? (I think the answer to this is that China is the chief purveyor of bras to the planet, and therefore makes a label that covers every eventuality).
3) Why is it essential to have a cup which looks like a carry out Styrofoam? Are they supposed to be recycled and used for lattes afterwards? Perhaps they are expected to double as swine flu masks when not in use?
I don’t want rhinestones or a pewter letter “t” sewn on the lace. I don’t want to be nuclear fall out proofed or with enough metal to alert airport security. I don’t want a different colour to match every thermal vest I own. I can do without the scratchy neon lace, the halter, strapless, invisible strap, cyber meld to the ribs kind.
I just need something that assists two parts of my anatomy to defy gravity.

Still wobbly

In the early hours of this morning, I was woken by an earthquake. I didn't hear it, just felt it. It measured 5.2 but was shallow. It's centre was a mere 30 kms south of where we live and has been reported as our worst in probably 35 years. Friends closer to the capital said it was truly awful downtown, so I don't know what I will find at work this morning.

I work in a listed building next to a wooden cathedral (one of the city's landmarks). I'm a bit nervous about what I might find has moved at the office.

Definitely an excuse for a strong cup of coffee to start the day.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Ruby Tuesday

Motueka S. Island

Unattended package

For almost 18 months I have had a large 1 kg package stored at the back of my Tea/Coffee/Sugar cupboard, just above where our electric kettle stands.

For the numerous guests who make themselves at home in that cupboard, they must have wondered why on earth the packet has sat there for so long. Some may have wondered what it was, as the writing on it is written in Arabic and Hebrew.

The reason for its abandonment, I simply haven't had the heart to open it. Have I got you wondering? Well, it is the most amazing ground coffee flavoured with cardamom. I had bought the proper little pot to make it in, but didn't want to waste the coffee opening it just for myself, as my better half didn't think he'd be able to handle the strength of the brew.

There is a story attached to this bag of coffee (you knew that didn't you?). Last year, when I was travelling in Israel, I met a lovely family in Nazareth who gave me extravagant hospitality in their home. The morning I left, the husband of the family made me breakfast, which included this delightful coffee. I raved about it so much, en route to dropping me at the bus station, he pulled over to one of the little "sell everything" shops that Israel is famous for, and came out with the humungous bag of coffee.

Fast forward to the day I left the country. I had put the coffee in my checked in suitcase. True to form, tourists often get selected for a long search of their bags, prior to exiting the country. Doesn't worry me, they are only doing their job. But when I got pulled over, I suddenly panicked. "Help, the bag of coffee!". I honestly didn't know if it was OK to take foodstuff like this on the plane, even though it was in a new bag with a proper seal. The lady security officer pulled it out. "Where did you get this?", I mentioned the shop in Nazareth "I can't get this kind of coffee in my country, and I'm a bit of an addict". "Where are you from?" she asked. When I told her, she gave me a reply I never expected in a thousand years. "Really, I come from there too. I made aliyah a few years ago". So, the security check turned into a girlie catch up session.

This Sunday we had some guests in our home who I knew would appreciate the coffee, but I was a bit nervous to try and make it in the proper pot on the stove. I tried, and made a horrible bubbling mess. Then the husband of the couple, bless him for a hundred years, said "Why not make it in the espresso pot?". Genius!!!!!

So now I am enjoying the freedom of a middle eastern style breakfast which is lifting my spirits no end as I have a shocking cold and am tempted to feel very sorry for myself.

The folks who live on the hill

Our house is on a hill. It overlooks a drained culvert, and beyond that, there is another street with houses, beyond that, another set of hills.
This means that when I throw open my bedroom or living room curtains early in the morning, I see the sun rise over several valleys, and watch as various lights go on in different homes. We are far enough away that no one bothers to keep the curtains closed as the early morning breakfast / news watching / preparing for the day takes place. The birds sing indiscriminately over the small peaks and troughs of the valley. Our house sits in the flight path of several native birds, and at 30,000 feet, the planes making their descent into the capital’s airport.
It is a quiet, unassuming part of the planet. We have one street through the town, and most people don’t swing off the state highway to find us, unless they have a reason.
But I’m happy to leave it that way.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

The view last night

The shadows you see on the horizon are parts of the South Island. It isn't a volcano erupting, just a cloud placed as if it were. God is so clever with clouds.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Lord of the Signs

On my lunchtime walk, I saw this sign and it made me smile. Only in New Zealand would a Hobbit be mentioned to promote a hair salon!

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Ruby Tuesday

Sense of unease

For about 6 weeks now, I don't know whether I don't know because I don't know, or because I don't need to know what I don't know.

It's a mystery. Do you have days like that too?

Saturday, 15 August 2009

NZ Hit Parade

On the prompting of a friend (thanks Steve) I would like to set the record straight to all my friends who may think otherwise


One of our weird British characteristics is that we tend to take a 45 degree angle look at the things / people / situations and find the humorous slant. In fact, if you are teased by someone you don't know, it is 99% certain they do it because they really like you!

So here goes. Just a dozen things I love about NZ (otherwise I will ramble on forever)

1) The scenery. Nowhere on earth comes anywhere close - and let's just say, I've visited quite a few places.
2) The green. I think God practiced on NZ first, to get greens for other countries, and he used his practice colours - the entire pallette, on NZ. In fact, I suspect we should have been called New Greenland, but another slice of land got the name first (and it didn't deserve it!)
3) The bird life. The tuneful tui, the heavy weight parrot the Kakapo, the windscreen wiper eating Kea, the kiwi (haven't seen one yet, but they are rather shy), the pukeko (cheeky, handsome and 200% cute), the weka, the flirty fantail, to name a few.
4) The coffee. NZ has produced the best baristas on the planet. The coffee is 100% good roasting, 100% good making and 100% good milk
5) The milk. Cows eat grass here, not pellets, not fodder, GRASS. And the milk in the coffee varies according to what part of the year it is and the quality of the grass.
6) The wine. Roll over Napa Valley and Burgundy - NZ vines rule.
7) People sail here. So many people have boats, little ones, big ones and they dot the harbour at every opportunity - beautiful.
8) The farmers markets
9) The community spirit in the small towns.
10) The Pacific Islanders - lovely folk. Friendly, warm and with a delightful sense of humour
11) The trains - they are rickety and slow and unreliable, but such a great place to chat to people, watch folk interacting. No stony Underground Tube silences in NZ!
12) Bees and honey. The honey has so many varieties, depending on which native plants the bees are having a party on. I once visited a vineyard surrounded by a lavender farm which was in turn surrounded by bee hives. You could sit and drink tea in the lavender farm gardens and listen to a low decible hum as the bees went about their business. Oh, and if you're interested, it is in the Esk Valley, just north of Napier.

When I have drunk my first cup of NZ roasted coffee for the day, I am likely to come up with another dozen or so things I love about my adopted country. But please don't go telling everyone, we'd kind of like to keep the place to ourselves:-)

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Lost momentum

I feel like I've lost momentum. For three weeks my husband was sick. Not dangerously so, but I was unquieted by it. He is normally so healthy.
I have been trying to take stock. Where should my priorities lie? I go to work, try to keep up with friends, here and abroad, but the internal landscape is slipping from view. I used to have so much inner space to explore, and at the moment it is like wandering through a chaotic box room. There are no labels on the boxes, the furniture doesn't seem to belong to me and someone painted the walls an odd colour.
I need a makeover, a quiet sort out, sift through and rearrange.
Then I will be able to write again.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Ruby Tuesday

At Pataka, our local art gallery and performing arts centre in Porirua.