Monday, 31 January 2011

Snoozing Seagull

This breed has an amazing capacity to doze in the midst of a blustery southerly.

Plimmerton, New Zealand
© by Sparrowchatter 2011

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Grateful for rain

Our lemon tree, early morning
© by Sparrowchatter 2011

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Damson and chocolate steamed pudding

Here's a recipe for those of you who own a microwave:

2/3 cup brown sugar (muscavado or soft brown)
2 eggs
100g melted butter
3/4 cup self raising flour
1/4 cup milk
3 tablespoon damson jam and a few chopped plums
1/4 cup good quality cocoa powder

Mix together sugar, flour, cocoa, eggs and milk. Add melted butter. Put jam and chopped plums in the bottom of a microwave proof jug, pour mixture in on top. Cook, covered with a plate, in the microwave on high for 4 minutes. Let it stand for a minute, then cook for a further 4 minutes.

Serve with plain yoghurt.,

Friday, 28 January 2011

Just a few thousand calories....... start off the weekend. From our favourite cafe which has its own French pastry chef. La Cloche, Kaiwharawhara. Bienvenue!
© by Sparrowchatter 2011

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Oh what a glorious thing to be

A healthy, grown up, busy busy bee.........
Mana estuary
© by Sparrowchatter 2011

Monday, 24 January 2011

Looking for swans

An estuary five minutes from our house by car is home to around forty black swans. Today my husband drove me there, to see if I could get close enough to photograph them. It involved walking a way under a railway bridge and along the outside of the tracks, a somewhat boggy pathway, railway on one side, estuary on the other. I was thwarted in the attempt. There just wasn't a dry piece of land close enough.

On the way back, I stopped suddenly in my tracks to watch this adorable sparrow taking his afternoon bath. I went looking for swans and ended up with the sparrow. How very typical - wherever I go, these plain little birds give me so much joy.
© by Sparrowchatter 2011

Who were they?

I collect Russian things. Mostly books, occasionally Matrioska dolls, and more recently stamps. The collection is eclectic and has no real value, other than to my curiosity. I'd love to be in the position to collect Faberge, Icons and paintings by Repin, but my budget stops at random packs of ordinary stamps and the odd second hand book.

Today I was captivated by two small stamps. I found myself wondering what women these two stamps were based on. I find it difficult to believe that someone in the "Soviet Department of Stamp Design" (or whatever it was called), just came up with a generic Soviet "Miss" for the design. Surely, she was someone's sweetheart or sister or friend. Where did she live, what did she live through? What memories would she share with us over a glass of vodka? Would I have learned to cook pasha with her at her dacha? Would she have liked singing or writing poetry? Did she work on a farm or a factory? Was she Jewish or Christian? Did she live in a communal apartment or in a wooden cottage in the country?

I'll never know of course, but we say hello occasionally and I ask them the questions. They are condemned to exile outside of the arms of Mother Russia, in a box in a country far, far away. Currently they slumber inside a drawer of a French dresser.

Imagine what the person who sent a letter with these stamps would have thought of that!
© by Sparrowchatter 2011

Gorgeous stuff on buildings

Photo taken in Christchurch last March. I wonder if the building it was on is still standing or was condemned after the September earthquake?
© by Sparrowchatter 2011

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Battle of the flowers

This post is in honour of a blog friend at Taken in my garden yesterday.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Delectable Collectables...

In an area the size of an average bathroom, Sally has squeezed Art Deco and simply "have to own" china and glass, alligator bags and brooches. If you are potty about pottery, this is another reason to hang out in Greytown
© by Sparrowchatter 2011

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Enjoying the paws in our working day

Every once in a while we get a visit from Tallulah. She is a bit of a socialite. Our graphic designer remembers her from her days at the local Girls' College, just a block up the street. Tallulah would enjoy dropping in during the science lessons. Because the "Gals" are still on holiday, she is hanging out with the "Not so young any more" Gals in our office.

It has been very hot and humid these last few days, so her favourite perch has been on the shredding bin. It is perfectly positioned below the fan. At the noon time hour, when temperatures soared, she lay in a heap under my desk, waiting for her ears to be scratched with my bare feet. Later she occupied a cardboard box in the direct line of two open windows with wafting curtains.

Here she is exiting by the sash window after she spotted some sparrows.

No doubt she will be waiting for me early tomorrow morning, purring under the window.

Post Script: not long after posting this blog, a friend from Maryland contacted me. It would appear that her cat is Tallulah's cousin! Any more black and white lookalikes out there?

© by Sparrowchatter 2011

From the Loire Valley to our valley

It was an expensive cup of coffee in Greytown (see previous post), but this is the new/old acquisition. I'm a very happy bunny because some of my grandma's glass is now finally on display.
© by Sparrowchatter 2011

Monday, 17 January 2011

Let's go window shopping

Important provisions for the cook to assemble

Pots to be polished for porridge in winter

Queen Anne lace, adorning your table

Feathers to tickle your fanciful felines

A chandelier to sparkle in your candle lit ballroom

An apartment for sparrows who are upwardly mobile

And it is said that no one leaves Greytown empty handed - from kittens to plots of land, to French the latter we purchased. And we only went out for a coffee!

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Wishing you peace under trees

A bit early for Tu b'shevat!
Days Bay, New Zealand

Friday, 14 January 2011

A cheeky face to start the weekend

Introducing Ben, my friend's alpaca.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Resting in peace.

It was only a matter of time. Tonight there was a spirit of collaboration and collusion hovering over our home as we drove down the driveway, and a singular absence of the usual feline Welcome Committee.
Climbing the stairs from the garage to our home, I wasn’t expecting “the present” awaiting me. There on the mat was a beautiful mouse with two acolytes – a surprised kitten and a guilty looking old Tom cat. Neither really admitted the gift and they both scurried off, embarrassed.
I got a paper towel and picked the wee thing up; an adult. It was beautiful and totally unblemished. His little yellow teeth were gritted with determination, but it was his paws that made me cry. They were clenched. This little guy had gone down fighting, like a prize boxer. This was no “timorous beastie” of Robbie Burns.
I felt like I needed to find a kaddish for this little mouse, to show my respect, to say a prayer over the grey furry grammes in my hand.
So I wrapped him in the white towel shroud and took him to a burial place - the compost bin. I murmured prayers as I laid him to rest amongst leaf sweepings, green veggie leaves, tea leaves and potato skins. A meal fit for a mouse, buried in a black sarcophagus, with a banquet for the afterlife.

And as for my two confused hunters, tonight they are on short rations.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011


This evening I braved the wilderness that is also known as our garden. Only having half an hours energy left at the stump end of the day, I knew I'd have to "pick my battle". The victims were an overgrown bush that looked like a hairy sputnik and a self planted tree/stump/pruned-to-within-an-inch-of-its-life something or other.

The bush is now sporting a topiary type shape, more due to my lopsided use of the shears than through design and the stubborn tree is gone. Seriously gone.

Having got rid of the rubbish, I noticed the terrifying rose which insists on growing every year. This year the stem was about 5 foot tall, with the most exquisite bud at the top. It had been leaning against the now Gone Tree. The briar had to go too. As I was cutting it down, I remembered that last year I'd done the the same thing, and was convinced I had killed it for good. No such luck.

But I have been transfixed by the bud. In spite of that drastic prune in 2010, the stump managed to grow something, and it was exquisite.

I may resist less in future when I sense my character is being pruned. The outcome may be a small and ravishing flower.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

I got to wondering, if Dickens or Shakespeare had been Kiwi.......

some of their best sellers might have been:

Bleak Bach
Sweet Times
David Copperwire
The Old Opportunity Shop
Oliver Straight

Troilius and Kylie
A Midsummer Night’s Hangi
Two Gentleman of Remuera
All’s Sweet that ends Sweet
A bit of a do about nothing bro
Julius Lomu
Kingitangi Learo
Romeo, Juliet and two whanau
The Taming of the Possum

Can anyone come up with others?

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Moving stuff around

In a moment of utter madness yesterday, we decided to purchase a large item of rustic French furniture. The deed isn't done yet, because we had to make sure our ceilings were high enough and walls wide enough to fit the dresser from the Loire. After much measuring and discussion, we decided we could fit it, but ONLY if we moved most of our books and CDs to other parts of the house. One of the shelves which has to be moved is made of iron and takes two men to lift it (when it is empty).
We can feel very pleased with ourselves, as we have sorted through a lot of items today, cleaned, found things behind shelving we thought was lost and have given endless amusement to our 9 month old kitten, who has played around us, tapped ornaments, chased dust balls and taken a nano second away from chasing insects.
I love other people's bookshelves, it tells me a lot about them. So, I invite you to amble around some of mine, so that you can try and analyse me:-)

Over the hill and a great way off

Yesterday we drove 160 kms round trip to the lovely Wairarapa hamlet of Greytown. It is a tiny town full of artists and cafes, antique shops and curios. Over the next few days I'll post the photos. Then you will want to come and visit, wherever you live!
But first, our first stop when we get to the top of the Rimutaka range was Featherston, and the fantastic deli "Cornucopia". They make the best fruit muffins in the S. Hemisphere. Trust me, I've tried most of them!

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Messing about in boats

Today myself and my dearly loved husband took the Dominion Post Sea Cat over the bay to have coffee with our wonderful sister and brother in law. Behold a few pictures!

and this is not us on the bench!

Stairway to the stars

The Embassy Cinema Wellington, New Zealand. Congratulations to, for answering correctly.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

New Year Puzzle - where am I?

The first (non Kiwi) to guess the location of these photos will receive a surprise gift from NZ. The question is, in which building did I take these pictures? A small clue - the answer must be diplomatic.

Contact me on the email under my profile page. The race is on - who will be first to guess?

Saturday, 1 January 2011

New Year's Bay


and Anchors



and Crocodiles who cycle
All at the Bay
on New Year's Day