Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Just in case you need a plumber

Have I got a deal for you!

Monday, 30 August 2010

What almost got served in the Buffet Car

I have always found it amusing the way a dog will chase a car and bark at it, attempting to outrun the sportiest model. Today I experienced something even weirder.
I returned home on a lunchtime train in pouring rain. As we pulled out of a long tunnel, just before the first stop, the train slowly ground to a halt. I have never known it stop at that place before and I expected the worst - points failure, electrical fault, leaves on the line? I looked out of the window at the fast running stream next to the railway embankment. An almighty commotion was taking place just under my window. I quickly identified the sound as angry birds. I turned to the man next to me “Ducks on the tracks?” He nodded. “Almost – geese. There is a flock of them here on the stream that terrorise the train.” I thought he was joking, until I saw a very large white goose come stomping out of the grass with a train murder in mind. Not a chick to be messed with.

I'd like to think that the train driver was prepared for the goose attack and had slowed until the goosey goosey had gandered.

Not even British Rail could come up with that excuse!

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Cat hobbies

Phil Ateley loves his stamps

Cumin Cat loves her handbags

Saturday, 28 August 2010

A Tennessee Williams kind of day

Three green things to be thankful for today. The first was a well overdue hour in the garden, digging out weeds, self seeded plants and bark that the native birds tend to scatter on the deck when looking for worms. The sun was shining, so I struck. An hour later it was raining heavily, and I mean really heavily.
Which comes to the second thanksgiving. We are the proud owners of several square metres of green tin – our new roof. The old one we think was 40 years old and had started to let in water when we got horizontal rain. Latterly it was letting in water whatever the direction of the deluge. Today our new roof was put to the test, and not a single drop made it inside. Joy!
The third thanksgiving is also green. It is a New Zealand “favourite”, of a somewhat sour and unpalatable kind; silverbeet. I can’t bear it, but as with so many things which taste disgusting, it really is good for you. So I came up with a recipe for a puff pastry pie with silverbeet, pesto, light cottage cheese and nutmeg – Muskot. The result is amazing.
Muskot and a green tin roof! Tennesee Williams without the angst!

Thursday, 26 August 2010

I'm raising a muesli thief

Nothing is sacred, not even my breakfast!

Monday, 23 August 2010

A sunny 60th birthday

Today my lovely husband is 60 years young. The winter day favoured us with sunshine, so we took a walk through the harbour together, visited our national museum, then came home, opened cards and gifts and ate MORE birthday cake (courtesy of our amazing friend Ursula Schuster). Here are the photos of the day.

Did some joker put laundry soap in the fountain?

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Of the making of books there is no end.....

Today was the annual mega second hand book fair in the city, raising funds for the city's homeless and underprivileged. We got there early and came away with gems. Mine included a 1934 editon of "idylls of the King" by Tennyson, "The decorative arts of Sweden", a Lonely Planet guide to the USSR, The Encylopaedia of Needlework by Therese de Dillmont and a "Smorgasbord" cookbook from the 1940s.
We estimated that if over 200 people an hour were being served with an average of 15 books each, and the average price of a book was $3, approximately $144,000 was raised.
Afterwards we went to our favourite French cafe to stare at macaroons! We were really good and at ate salad!

Friday, 20 August 2010

On the street where I lived

This sign was situated at the end of the road where I used to live. It still makes me smile - it wasn't the same camel that always crossed.......at least, I don't think it was!

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Family memories

There are certain memories I wish I had committed to paper, even as a child. It is very difficult to scoop up random information in the brain now, even though I am still on the right side of 50. So I’m going to start with a broom and see how much I can sweep into the middle of the room; there may be something worth preserving.
I want to start with my Uncle Ernest. He very sensibly married my Aunt Mary, who was my grandpa’s cousin. It was just before the war. She was a beauty and understandably caught the eye of this charming Yorkshireman. They had two wonderful kids, Donald and Barbara, Donald was to study and lecture in Maths, Barbara was a secretary and part time model. It was a laughter filled house, mostly due to Uncle Ernest who was a real wag. He did a corny selection of magic tricks including pulling sixpences and half crowns out of my ears! They always ended up as my pocket money, making me rich for a month.
Ernest owned a barber shop on the corner of a street in Castleford, W. Yorkshire. It was an old-fashioned, “men only” establishment, with a miniscule shop attached to it, selling razors and cigarette papers and goodness knows what else. I think it was more of a store-cupboard than a shop, and was always very disorganised. When I was eight, he let me lose in it to tidy it up. I failed miserably.
He was known sometimes as Ernie (outside of Aunt Mary’s hearing – I think she always called him Ernest). He wore a brown gabardine type overall in the barber shop and discussed the horses with his customers. At the weekends he was very dapper, wearing tweed jackets and perky homburgs. I was always fascinated by his glossy bald head – even as a child it struck me he wasn’t a great advertisement for his profession.
He drove a Hillman Minx and we often went on picnics with him and Aunt Mary. We followed in our Morris Minor. Aunt Mary always navigated and it was just as well as I don’t think he had much of a natural compass inside him. Aunt Mary was the closest you got to a GPS in the 1960s.
Tea in Castleford was always a bountiful affair. Aunt Mary made a wicked Victoria sponge filled with whipped cream and raspberries. I think it was the only time I was ever allowed two pieces of cake at a meal.
Ernest died about 20 years ago, but my Aunt Mary is still around in her late 90’s. Thanks for the memories Mr and Mrs Thatcher.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Three thousand years and counting

It is suggested that the "Book of Judges" was penned in approximately 1000BC. A few days ago, someone pointed out something that I had never really "twigged" before. At the beginning of the third chapter:

These are the nations that Hashem let remain, to test Israel through them, all those who did not know all the Canaanite Wars - only so that the generations of the Children of Israel would know, to teach them warfare; but those who preceded did not know........They were to test Israel through them, to know whether they would hearken to the commandments of Hashem, which he commanded their forefathers through the hand of Moses.

OK, so there is a list of the nations that God allowed to remain in the land of Promise. Why? Because the following generations of Israel would need to learn to defend their land. God miraculously provided it for them, but they needed to step up to the plate to keep it.

Well, here we are 30 centuries later, and the defending continues............

Friday, 13 August 2010

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

An Apple with a touch of spice

She loves to ponder in front of the computer.......takes after her "mum"

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Perfect friends

Today’s perfect friends (and you know who you are)
1) Let you be totally yourself
2) Aren’t offended if you yawn every half an hour because they know you’ve not slept well for a week.
3) Show up with home made muffins and are happy to do a swop for your home made scones
4) Let you talk about stuff that helps you feel better for sharing the burden, and are happy to chatter on about things that aren’t too intense, especially in the light of 2 above.
5) One helps you with your passport application and whilst the other serves you tea.
6) Play with the latest member of the family (that would be the one with four paws:-)
7) Arrange to meet for coffee to encourage you mid-week.
I am blessed, thanks everyone.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Too busy to write

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Remembering not to forget

One of the depressing things about getting older is the realisation how little one actually KNOWS. The second depressing thing is realising how much one has forgotten. The third thing is sitting alone with the reality that one understands even less.
Unimportant as it may seem to most people, I used to know great CHUNKS of Shakespeare off by heart, I could quote poets and psalmists with equal ease. Now I struggle with a five line shopping list. I fret because I know this is not going to get better in the next decade, or in the one after that. There is a distressing inevitability washing over me – several bags of marbles have been lost irrevocably down a grate, never to be found again.
Crashing into middle age with failed brakes, I have bowed to the inevitability of mistakes, faux pas, senior moments and half remembered iambic pentameter.
Yet voices of the past, the sages, exhort us to train the collective memory:
“Be careful and watch yourselves closely, so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”
That’s where I suspect we have gone wrong; 21st century living expects us to remember alone. We have allowed ourselves to be individualised into solitude, we don’t know how to throw memories around our crowded dinner tables and noisy communities, because we eat alone or don’t live intimately with our family and neighbours any more. Possibly the nearest we get is talking to our hairdresser every six weeks, or engaging a stranger on a train in conversation.
I don’t sleep as much as I used to – I am told this is another indicator of advancing age, but recently a psalm fragment wobbled towards me in the early hours and quoted itself.
“On my bed I remember you and think of you through the watches of the night.”
I was a relief that I could at least remember my Maker, even if the ingredients for tomorrow’s dinner eluded me.

Monday, 2 August 2010

The man who flies with birds

Photo courtesy AF Tel Aviv University
I have met very few “great” people in my life. By “great” I mean the kind of person who has achieved much and yet has lived humbly under the mantle of that greatness.
Last night, I met such a person. He was a delightful cocktail of scientist and conservationist who exuded the contagious wonder of a child. If I said that he has done revolutionary research to prevent bird strikes on military aircraft, you might shrug and wonder what is so great about that? Well apart from reducing the number of bird strikes at low level flying by 76%, saving hundreds of millions of dollars in military hardware and preserving precious lives, he has also mobilised an entire nation to become sympathetic to the bird life which migrates over it each year. Not only his own nation, but also the “enemy” next door. So strong and genuine are the relationships built during this research, that the “enemy” was allowed to speak at the nation’s parliament and be an advocate for “cross border conservation cooperation”.
Meet Dr Yossi Leshem who has spent nearly 40 years as an environmentalist in his native Israel. To quote from the University of Tel Aviv website:
In 2005 he won the prestigious Mike Kuhring Prize for achievements of high significance for an improved flight safety concerning the bird problems of aviation, and for his mission to connect safety with nature conservation via education that gave bird strike prevention world wide appreciation.
Leshem is involved in a variety of activities in bird migration research, in educational activities that take place in over 250 schools in Israel part of cooperation with the Palestinians and the Jordanians, and has developed an educational and scientific site on the Internet (www.birds.org.il ) called "Migrating Birds Know No Boundaries".
Leshem developed a six year research and an educational program in cooperation with the Palestinians and Jordanians under the same title as the web site.
Leshem initiated a program to use Barn Owls and Kestrels as pest controllers to reduce the use of pesticides in agricultural fields, which became a national program and a regional project with Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.
Leshem is a Recipient of "Lifetime Achievement Award for Environmental Protection" in 2008.

And a few bird facts from Israel. Over 500 million birds migrate each year via Israel from Asia and Europe to Africa. Israel has 540 native birds or 24 types per 1000 sq km. There are 12 native eagles and all 100,000 of the Lesser Spotted Eagle migrate over Israel, as do 62,000 pelicans. On one day alone, 16% of the world population of storks landed on one Kibbutz. The Hula valley in Northern Israel hosts 35,000 grey cranes each year and over 350,000 bird enthusiasts come and view them on the Hula lake. In 2004, I was one of those visitors. For two hours I stood on the edge of the lake and watched tens of thousands of birds take to the sky then land on the water. It was one of the most breath-taking experiences I have ever had.