Monthly Archives: July 2011

This Woman I am Becoming

Picture Challenge by Val Erde

Painting courtesy Val Erde

In a recent post, my blogging friend Val Erde graciously gave us permission to use this fabulous painting as inspiration for a work of art of our own.  This is the challenge she set us – “It can be drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, knitting, crochet, animation, digital artwork, poetry, dialogue, short story, anything creative that you like, really!”

Well I can’t paint, can’t draw or sculpt, knit, crochet, produce animation or digital artwork and my photography is the point and shoot variety,  so it has to be an attempt at poetry.

As soon as I saw this painting, I saw a woman evolving and becoming.  So much in this painting reminded me of  “I am Becoming the Woman I’ve Wanted” by Jayne Relaford Brown.

So here is my attempt at writing poetry.  It is entitled ‘This Woman I am Becoming”

This woman I am becoming

Memories flowing through me
Making me who I am
Warm thoughts to banish cold nights
And sunshine to dry the tears.

This woman I am becoming
Is learning patience
Learning grace
And learning that love is enough.

I am enjoying this woman I am becoming
She knows where she is going
And where she belongs
She has her place in the world.

This is my first real attempt at writing poetry.  In the past I have written rhyming poems to celebrate a wedding, visit to friends or other such but they really have been doggerel.   I leave it up to you to decide whether I should go back to writing doggerel.

Thank you Val for the use of this beautiful painting and thank you for setting the challenge.  I have enjoyed it.


Making Time

“Time like the wind
Goes a hurrying by and the hours just fly
Where to begin…” John Rowles, OBE  New Zealand singer 1947 –


Time ticking away

I read this post a few days ago and while I was intrigued and interested in its content I was literally blown away at the number of comments the blogger had received.  How would I ever find time to respond to 427 comments?   While I do know that she doesn’t always get this number but my mind still boggles at the thought.

Time is elusive.  We all have the same amount of it – 24 hours every day.  So how do we use that time?

Since I started blogging I find that more and more of my time is taken up reading other people’s blogs.  And while I don’t have nearly as many comments as 427 to respond to, I always make time to respond to those I do receive.

One of my biggest negative beliefs was that I never had enough time.  I have been working on that and over many years I have compiled a long list of suggestions on how to effectively manage my time.  Some have been very useful and some not so.  Those that I have found useful include:

  • Ask yourself what is the best use of my time right now?
  • Concentrate on only one thing at a time
  • Do it now.  Handle each piece of paper once only.  Deal with it and then move on
  • Finish the things you start.  Having 10 things 90% complete causes chaos and stress
  • Do like things at the same time.  Make a list of phone calls.  Block off the time in your journal and make all the calls then
  • Be clear about priorities.  Clearly mark each item on the To Do List A B or C.  Do the As first, then the Bs and you may find the Cs fall off the list and don’t need to be done.
  • Take your organizer to appointments with doctors, dentists, etc.  You can then use the waiting time usefully
  • Keep systems simple.  Complex systems are cumbersome and difficult to maintain
  • Check emails only three times a day.  Have you ever noticed just how much time can be spent reading and responding to emails?
  • Keep a log of what you do each day, phone calls etc.  It can save you loads of time when you want to remember what you said to whom.

These things work for me – but not, I would hasten to add if I had over 400 comments to respond to.  In the event that I ever received that many comments on one post I would probably have to devote the whole day just to making the responses.  But that’s quite a goal to reach for.

White rabbit with watch

Copyright Disney*

“I’m late, I’m late for a very important date.  No time to say “Hello.”  Goodbye.  I’m late, I’m late, I’m late.”  The White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland

* The colored image of the White Rabbit is the copyright of Disney.  This material may not be used for any commercial or for profitable means in any way without permission from Disney.

Magic, Mayhem and Mischief on that Mountain

The mountain

How glorious a greeting the sun gives the mountains!  John Muir, 1838-1914, Scottish-born American naturalist and author.

The garden

The Knot Garden

On Tuesday morning, bright sunshine greeted us and we decided to go up the mountain.  The snow had stopped and was lying beautifully across the countryside.

Breakfast time

Patiently waiting for her breakfast

At 10 am after a leisurely breakfast, we left the house.  But the queue to get up the Mountain was at a standstill at the gate to the lodge.  I spoke to some people who advised that there had been a couple of accidents on the mountain road and everything was at a standstill.  However, we decided that the crashes would soon be cleared and we would wait in line.  Well we waited..and waited..and waited.

We had the foresight to prepare lunch knowing that the queues for food in the cafeteria would be long and so we had our picnic sitting in the car.

A long slow trip

Eventually after 3.5 hours we had traveled the 7 kms to the area where they were fitting chains.  And there was some confusion (and short tempers) here as only one man was fitting chains while the other stood around chatting to the drivers and taking their money.  The guy to whom we spoke had been on the mountain since 7 am and hadn’t had a break – by this time it was 1.30 pm.  So we plied him with the remains of our picnic, candy bars and chocolates to keep him going.

The mountain

The next 10 kms took only one hour with much stopping and starting.  People losing the chains; others stopping and not being able to start again on the slippery slope.  But eventually we arrived at the carpark.  And what a fantastic site greeted us.

My friend got kitted out to ski and the other two of us walked with her to where she was going to board the chair lift to the summit.  We waited while she donned the skis and then hot-footed it into the cafeteria for hot chocolate and french fries.  What the h.ll the diet could wait until tomorrow.

Ski lifts

We spent a very pleasant couple of hours while the skiers did their thing and we sat in the warm supping hot chocolate and reading our books.  Then it was time to head home.  We all decided that the long drag to get to the top had been well worth it.

Arriving back at the lodge the fire was started.  But oh dear! Smoke filled the house and the fire brigade had to be called.  So, and much to Lotte’s delight as she had been on her own all day, suddenly five very large, yellow clad firemen were walking through the house.  They put out the fire in the grate and then went outside to climb a ladder and peer down into the chimney. Apparently there had been a chimney fire and we were advised to have the chimney swept before lighting another fire. What excitement.

One of the guests staying in the apartment was driven to question what was going on.  Two fire engines, lights flashing and sirens going stopping at the entrance to the lodge and she thought she might have been in danger.  However, once the fire trucks had left, we invited her in and shared a couple of drinks with her. Soon her husband, son and his girl friend joined us and so we had an apres  fire-party going.

Dinner though was a rather subdued affair.  We had all had enough excitement for one day and so all took ourselves off to bed early with a good book.  But what a great day and how grateful I am to have such days and such great friends with whom to share them.

Another quiet day at the mountain.

“Man is the only creature that dares to light a fire and live with it.  The reason?  Because he alone has learned to put it out.”  Henry Jackson Vandyke, Jr. 1852-1933, American clergyman, educator and author.














Mirth and Mayhem at the Mythical Mountain

Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire:  it is the time for home.  Dame Edith Sitwell, English poet and critic 1897-1964

Lotte and I have just returned from a few days at staying with a friend at her mountain home in  Ohakune in the center of the North Island.

We left home on Sunday morning in the rain.  And I was not surprised that it was raining as on every occasion I have visited the mountain house over the past 24 years IT HAS RAINED!  Our ongoing joke is that the mountain is a myth and never to be seen.

Mt Ruapehu in summer

Mt Ruapehu in summer per Wikipedia

However, we arrived at lunch time and there in all it’s sunny glory was the mountain.  It is apparently, very rare for there to be a mountain on its own and not part of a range.  Mount Ruapehu is one such mountain.  Mount Ruapehu is  is one of the world’s most active volcanoes and the largest active volcano in New Zealand.

The lodge is called Duck Crossing and sits on the access road to the ski-field so Lotte had plenty to look at.

Lotte at the window

Watching the world go by

There was one other guest and we had a very pleasant afternoon and evening, catching up and regaling each other with the gossip.

View from living room

View from the living room

We went to bed on a very still night.  No rain and no wind.  The next morning we awakened to a winter wonderland.  A perfect sight and one that Lotte of course, had never seen.  It was a joy to watch her put a foot out of the door into the snow that came up to her tummy.  But brave little girl that she is, she ventured out into the unknown and thoroughly enjoyed herself.

Ohakune station

Waiting at the station

We dressed up in our cold weather gear and went for a walk after lunch.  Children had been busy on the park building snowmen.  There was a group of young men and women building a ramp for their snowboards (I guess the mountain must have been closed).  Lots of laughter, fun, music and good humor.  It really is great to see young people enjoying themselves in the fresh air and not causing any disturbance to anybody else.  they asked us if we would like to join them, but prudence prevailed and we declined the invitation.

It had been snowing gentle flakes on and off all day and it started again.  How lovely to walk, all rugged up and toasty warm feeling the flakes settle on the face and eyebrows.  Lotte, who hates to be wet, was enjoying every minute of this walk.  Of course, she was the centre of attention in her bright red fleece.

The snowman

Then hot chocolate at the local hotel where there was a roaring fire and loads of people.  Most of them would be wishing they could get up the mountain but I was happy just to be there.

Then back to the lodge.

Walking in the snowGuests were invited for drinks so the huge fire was lit and the house looked particularly welcoming.  So welcoming in fact, that the guests didn’t want to leave.  Growing up my family had the saying “Here’s your hat, what’s your hurry?” used jokingly.  And Here’s your hat fitted here well.  They eventually left and we had another lovely dinner  – did I tell you my friend is not only a great interior designer she is also a very accomplished cook?  Everything is done seemingly with ease and certainly with such aplomb.

So another day on the mountain came to an end.  Watch this space for the excitement the next day.

But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent arrangement the greater part of life is sunshine.
Thomas Jefferson

The South Wind Doth Blow

The north wind doth blow and we shall have snow and what will poor robin do then?  He’ll sit in a barn to keep himself warm and hide his head under his wing”  Children’s nursery rhyme

Southern Alps NZ

via Wikipedia

Except here in the southern hemisphere it is the south wind that blows and today it’s blowing straight off the Southern Alps.  The temperature hasn’t risen above 10 degrees Centigrade and tonight it is forecast to fall to 4.  Very cold.

Added to that it has rained solidly all day and non stop.  So eventually we had to go out.  Lotte and I both needed to get some fresh air.  She doesn’t like to get her feet wet so she was a pretty miserable little thing once she got outside and saw the rain.  But she needs her walk as do I.

Storm clouds

The only people we met during this walk were other dog owners out with their charges.  Our walk was of necessity, very short and Lotte decided that the place for her was in front of the fire.  She really looked like a drowned rat when we got home again.

Do you know and/or use the phrase “It’s raining cats and dogs”?  This was a phrase commonly heard when I was growing up.  It always seemed strange to me and nobody appeared to know where the phrase originated.  Now with the internet and our trusty friend Wikipedia I have been looking for the origin.

Well it appears there are many.  One source World Wide Words tell us  – “The most common one says that in olden times, homes had thatched roofs in which domestic animals such as cats and dogs would like to hide. In heavy rain, the animals would either be washed out of the thatch, or rapidly abandon it for better shelter, so it would seem to be raining cats and dogs.”  and then – “The most favoured one in the references I have found is mythological. It seems that cats were at one time thought to have influence over storms, especially by sailors, and that dogs were symbols of storms, often accompanying images and descriptions of the Norse storm god Odin. So when some particularly violent tempest appeared, people suggested it was caused by cats (bringing the rain) and dogs (the wind).”

And from – “The much more probable source of ‘raining cats and dogs’ is the prosaic fact that, in the filthy streets of 17th/18th century England, heavy rain would occasionally carry along dead animals and other debris. The animals didn’t fall from the sky, but the sight of dead cats and dogs floating by in storms could well have caused the coining of this colourful phrase.” and ” Jonathan Swift described such an event in his satirical poem ‘A Description of a City Shower‘, first published in the 1710 collection of the Tatler magazine.”

So which one do you prefer.  I lean towards the Jonathon Swift filthy streets.  I can imagine how filthy were the streets of London in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Cover Mayhew's London

Very tattered cover of book

And then I went off on another tangent.  I have another old book entitled “Mayhew’s London” first published in 1861.  I don’t know when my copy was published but it is hardback and cost 25 shillings.  As there were 20 shillings to a pound I guess in the early or even mid 20th century when this book would have been purchased, it was quite expensive.

There are illustrations of the time and descriptions of how many made their living or at least enough to survive.  It is a fascinating book and I propose to share parts of it in some other blogs.

But for now:

The Hurdy gurdy player

Old Sarah, the Hurdy Gurdy Player from "Mayhew's London"


London Costermonger from "Mayhew's London"

Costermonger, or simply Coster, is a street seller of fruit (apples, etc.) and vegetables, in London and other British towns. They were ubiquitous in mid-Victorian England, and some are still found in markets. As usual with street-sellers, they would use a loud sing-song cry or chant to attract attention. Their cart might be stationary at a market stall, or mobile (horse-drawn or wheelbarrow) – from Wikipedia

These costermongers are still to be found in the street markets of London.

And now I will stop these ramblings.  Lotte and I are off for a few days and I wont have access to the computer.  So I will have loads to report when I return in the middle of the week.


My rainbow

Jubilate! A Festival of Music and Flowers

 “It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life.  ~P.D. James, English author.

Those of you who follow my blog will know by now that I have a very special affection for West Sussex and particularly the area around Chichester.

Chichester Cathedral

Chichester Cathedral via Wikipedia

And Apuldram near Chichester is a very special place.  Still a little removed from the modern world reveling as it does in its ancient history.  Many of the houses date back to the 18th and 19th century.  One could imagine Jane Austen or one of the Brontes setting their stories here.  Its inhabitants are scattered over the flat, sweeping landscape, with its glimpses of the harbour, the Cathedral spire and the South Downs.  The sea still plays a role in the activities of the inhabitants.  Where once boats and the sea were means of livelihood for the people of Apuldram now there are sailing boats and runabouts anchored in the basin at Dell Quay.

Apuldram Church

Apuldram Church © Copyright Chris Gunns

And of course the Church.  The beautiful 12th century building is still used regularly for church services.  The last time I was there, there was still no shop, hotel or petrol station in the village and the Church is the hub.

But it is a very small church and the uses to which it was now being put required some extensions.  With this in mind, thoughts turned to fund raising.

The gardens of West Sussex are beautiful and the gardeners produce prolific blooms.  Music is important to most people, and has a special place in a church.

So it was decided that a Festival of Music and Flowers would be held.  Months of planning would have followed this decision and the outcome of all the work was a weekend in September.  I think this was 2005.  The Festival would run Friday through Sunday with floral displays decorating the church, the gardens of the manor house open to the public for refreshments and of course, music in both the Church and the gardens.

It was a glorious weekend.  We chose to go on Saturday, as did many others.

Music greeted us as we entered the church. The church was absolutely beautifully decorated with displays by local florists, flower societies and churches from far and near.  Every window, each nook and cranny, including the Squint, had a magnificent arrangement.

This Squint, or more properly called an Hagioscope, was installed so that those who were confined to worship in the small chapel behind the organ could have a clear view of what was happening at the altar.  This small chapel is a 14th century addition to the church.

Of particular interest was the organ loft.  Local lore has it that this organ was the one temporarily installed at Windsor Castle for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s first Christmas party.

The design here was a representation of a Victorian Christmas.  Of course, this incorporated a Christmas tree (remembering that Prince Albert introduced the Christmas tree to Britain).   The Victorian’s love of fashionable items was also apparent with paisley shawls, finger-less gloves and of course, feathers.

The vestry is accessed through an arch and worshipers at Apuldram garlanded this arch.  Garlands were popular in Ancient Rome and in Greece.  They adorned the heads of Caesars, dignitaries and brides.  Garlands have also been discovered in tomb paintings. This garland was spectacular.

Other floral exhibits and arrangements depicted “Harvest Festival”, “Mountains and Hills and all Green Things Upon the Earth”, “All the Powers of the Lord”, “Light and Day, Night and Darkness”.  In all there were 19 arrangements.  It was a sensational effort by many people working together for a common cause.

Historical notes were included in the programme.  For instance the decoration called ‘The Founding of St Mary’s as a Chapel of Ease” had the note that the church was built in the 12th century for the Bosham Collegiate.  And that before the channel silted up and Apuldram had a burying ground, the dead were rowed over to Bosham.

Apuldram font

© Copyright 2011, Apuldram Church

The font’s decoration was entitled “O Children of Men and Priests of the Lord”.  This lovely arrangement had been done by two of the worshipers at Chichester Cathedral.  There was a historical note accompanying the information “The font is 12th Century in origin and is of Purbeck marble and is most probably the original one”.

The quiet, classical music played throughout our time in the Church was totally in keeping with the floral decorations.  It was uplifting and glorious.

We then went back down the church path to visit the Manor Farm gardens.  Along the way we passed a farmer on a tractor.  But no ordinary farmer this: He was stuffed – literally.

Scarecrow on tractor

At the church gate we saw an old bicycle that was no doubt originally used for deliveries by a local merchant, bearing in its basket a mass of flowers of all colours.  And a pair of Wellington boots planted with flowers.

The children were enjoying pony rides while those of us in need of refreshment made our way to the tea marquee.


Here the ladies of the church and their children (and some grandchildren) had excelled themselves.  The marquee was set with tables and chairs.  Pretty tablecloths adorned each table.  Around the marquee were placards giving information on various plants, flowers and herbs.  Of particular interest to me, was the following:

Woody Nightshade.  Relating to the potato and tomato. Attractive climbing plant with heart shaped leaves and shiny berries. The berries were used medicinally and the dried second-year stems were pounded into an essence. This was then prescribed for skin diseases caused by metabolic disorder, rheumatic conditions and blood disorders.”

It also stated “An overdose produces paralysis of the tongue, difficulty in swallowing and breathing”. Clearly an essence to be avoided.  How many other medicinal herbs commonly used in earlier times, had such disastrous side effects?

A ploughman’s lunch was on offer, as were sandwiches and a variety of cakes.  We were well fed and ready to inspect the various produce and bric-a-brac stalls dotted around the grounds.

A second marquee was set up for the string quartet.  They entertained with light classical music to the enjoyment of all.  There were chairs set around outside this marquee and people were sitting in the sun, some with cups of tea, but many sitting just enjoying the music.

The atmosphere was one of good humour, friendliness and neighbourliness.

 The festival was entitled Jubilate.  We are told by Josie Pound, the Festival Designer, “Looking in the Book of Common Prayer, Psalm 100 ‘Jubilate Deo’ fairly leapt out of the page, as did the Benedicite Omnia Opera, with all its wonderful descriptive verses, ideal for interpretative work by keen arrangers!”   The Festival certainly lived up to its name.

We thoroughly enjoyed this very English way to spend a lovely, September Saturday in this beautiful part of the world.

Judith Baxter, Platinum Author Registered & Protected

Family Relationships

Our most basic instinct is not for survival but for family.  Most of us would give our own life for the survival of a family member, yet we lead our daily life too often as if we take our family for granted.  ~Paul Pearsall,
Ph. D., author,lecturer and keynote speaker. 1942-2007

If you read yesterday’s post you will know that I had all the family, with the exception of my son-in-law, here in the evening.  Sitting and watching the interaction between the members made me think of relationships in families and how we all fit into the jigsaw that is a family.

Jig saw pieces

© Nese Basaran |

Of all the relationships in our lives those with our family are the most difficult to manage with equanimity.  My dictionary defines equanimity as “Calmness of mind and composure” while Roget’s Thesaurus offers “Balance, poise, good temper and coolness”.

So why do we have more problems interacting with family members than with strangers?  Well, firstly family members know us with all our faults and imperfections.  they know our arrogance, our fears and foibles and our reaction to certain stimuli.  Maybe at times, they even use these stimuli to manipulate us.

Does a child win when mother in desperation, gives in to an unreasonable demand?  Of course he does and having learned what pushes the button, tucks the knowledge away for future use.

Our family members have seen us at our best and at our worst.  They are difficult to deceive.  They know us.  They see through our “face for the world”.

We all have rules by which we live and the rules that govern our relationship with our family are a set apart.  What do you expect from your family?  Do you expect the television version of happy families?  Are you old enough to remember the Partridge Family or the Brady Bunch?  Were we expected to believe that this was the norm?  Unfortunately, I think many did.

A family is made up of a number of individuals each having his or her own rules as to how a family should act.  Fathers and mothers make rules for their children.  They model their own behavior on these rules, and expect their children to follow them.  In turn the children develop their own rules, usually based on the model set by the parents.

But what happens when others are introduced into this tight knit family unit – son marries, daughter becomes engaged to be married.  Here are more people with their own rules, values, faults and imperfections (although the faults and imperfections may not be immediately obvious).

Then grandchildren are born.  Their parents set rules and boundaries by which they will raise their children and on which they expect their children to base their own lives.  In today’s world, where many families have both parents working, grandparents are having an increasing influence on grandchildren’s lives.  They then have to juggle their own rules and values with those of the children’s parents.  I suggest this is not always easy.  And as the grandchildren grow and set their own rules and values the mix becomes even more complicated.

So it is clear that family relationships need more attention than we usually give to them.  For most of us it is a given that the family is there.  We may say “If I need them I can call upon them and they are there for me.”  But is this enough?

How about your family relationships?  Is it time you sat down with the family members and discussed how you each see your place in the family structure – grandfather, grandmother, sons and daughters, their spouses and children.  And in today’s world there are often even more levels of this relationship.  If one or other party has been divorced, or a spouse or partner has died and a new person has been introduced into the family, the structure will change.  What of his or her values, rules and own family as you try to integrate them into your  family?

Is it time to have conversations with individual members of the family?  Perhaps there is a sibling or son or daughter with whom your relationship is not as it should be.  How can you change this?  Often just taking time to sit down together undisturbed, talking about your feelings can bring out the desired a change in the relationship.  Be open and honest with each other but not judgmental.  It is often very difficult to leave out the judgment critic.  Remember you each have equal rights to voice your thoughts and feelings.  Listen to the other person; it’s very likely you will learn something.

You will have to set some rules for this engagement.  Maybe it needs to be in an independent space, neither person’s home or office.  A coffee shop during a quiet period would be ideal.  Just as long as you are both comfortable with the location.  Then set the rules and boundaries.  This should not be the opportunity for a slanging match or verbal abuse.  It is not meant to become a battle field.  Before the meeting think “calmness, balance, poise, good temper etc”.

So it’s worth a try.  You have nothing to lose and much to gain.  Then when you see it work with one person try it on any other family with whom you think you have a problem.

Then take it out into the world.  We know that nothing happens without action.  This can be the first step.  Our world certainly needs some peace and harmony.  Perhaps you can begin an ever increasing circle of peace and harmony.


My rainbow

Happy Granma’s Day

Our grandchildren accept us for ourselves, without rebuke or effort to change us, as no one in our entire lives has ever done, not our parents, siblings, spouses, friends – and hardly ever our own grown children.  ~Ruth Goode, author 1902-1997

Three boys

Child labour?

I have had a really special day today.  Three of my four grandsons have been here and what a joy they are.

They range in age from 12 to 16 and still get on well.  The 16-year-old is particularly careful to include the youngest one in everything, although he is well able to look after himself.

Having picked one up from his mother’s office and the other two from the train station we set off for the garden centre to collect the final two bags of stones for the patio.  I was planning to use some of their time with me (and their energy) to get this job finished eventually.  It’s never too early to learn there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Well…Granma was so busy talking that she got onto the motorway by mistake and had to drive miles out of her way before arriving at the garden centre.

Here we were greeted like long-lost friends.  Lotte and I have been regular visitors to the centre since the patio was first thought about.  And they recognized Jae (the youngest) from our last visit.  So, purchases made the boys loaded the bags into the back of my car and we set off for home.

They came in for a drink and biscuits before starting – don’t all workmen?  They certainly do here in New Zealand.  And for the next half hour, the street rang with their laughter as they spread the stones, filling in the blanks that Jae and I had missed last week.

Two boys working

James and Jae – the oldest and youngest working together

Lotte helping too

And four extra hands/paws are welcome


Rob beavering away but can’t we afford shoes?

James and me

Sharing his muddy hands with Granma!

Soon it was finished and everybody had a great time.  Isn’t it so true that many hands make light work?  And what joy to be surrounded by happy, laughing young folk.

Then lunch.  Easy to feed growing boys.  Plenty of sausages, buns, mayo and tomato sauce and the boys made their own hotdogs.  I demurred.  Hotdogs are not among my favourite things.


Now what to do for the afternoon?  They couldn’t make up their minds.  Of course, they were slightly constrained by the fact that Jae still had his leg in a cast.  So I made the decision.  Sir Peter Jackson and Weta, the animation and special effects company – Lord of the Rings, The Last Samurai, King Kong, Xena Warrior Princess among others – are based in Wellington and they have the ‘Weta Cave” a museum open to the public.  Strangely none of us had been there before and so we took ourselves off.

Weta Cave

Weta Cave photo Scoop

This was very interesting as it had models from all the films Weta and Sir Peter have been involved in and of course, they had many collectables for sale.

Three very well behaved brought up young boys asked for nothing.  A big change from when they were younger.

Of particular interest to me was the short movie/DVD giving a behind the scenes look at Weta and interviews with the founders and directors of the company.

Roxy Cinema

At the opening of the Roxy Cinema in April 2011

And then on to the Roxy Cinema.  This is another of Weta’s projects.

The old cinema had been abandoned years ago.  It was derelict and had been so for some years, following a brief period as a shopping centre.  The shops were very sad and there was no good reason ever to go there.

Several years ago the building was bought and saved from demolition by Jamie Selkirk, best known for his role as editor on the Lord of the Rings films. The building lay empty for several years during which time Selkirk won several Oscars.  He then enlisted the help of Tania Rodger, manager of Weta Workshop, with a view to rebuilding. And the final product can only be described as stunning.

In April, the ‘cream’ of Wellington society was invited to a gala opening.  The theme was the 1930s and as you can see from the photos even the cars were authentic.

The Roxy has a rather pleasant cafe on the ground floor.  So after touring around the cinema we sat for a breather – tea for Granma (well, I am English after all), coke for one boy, hot chocolate for another and for the third, and eldest and so sophisticated, iced coffee.Iced coffee

James has just finished a six-week course through school on making coffee – Barista training.   Apparently, this was an elective and he will get eight points for doing this course. When questioned he said he thought it was really for those boys who would not stay on for another year and might get a job making coffee.

Then, with his new-found knowledge, he regaled us with how one makes iced coffee and assured me that no, we couldn’t make one in the blender at home.  We need an espresso machine to froth the milk.  Don’t have one and am not about to get one.  Sorry, James.

So our adventures ended.  A trip home where they watched a DVD.  My son and his wife joined us for dinner and then later my daughter and her eldest son came in for a short time.  Drew had been competing in a water polo tournament in Auckland and Cate had picked him up at the airport and thought she would call in not only to pick up her younger son but also to catch up with her brother, his wife and their boys.

It was lovely to have both my children and all their children together.  A rare happening and a fitting ending to my lovely Granma’s Day.













Fair Warning

stop sign

image from

When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple with a red hat that doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me. And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves and satin candles, and say we’ve no money for butter. 

I shall sit down on the pavement when I am tired and gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells and run my stick along the public railings and make up for the sobriety of my youth. I shall go out in my slippers in the rain and pick the flowers in other people’s gardens and learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat and eat three pounds of sausages at a go or only bread and pickles for a week and hoard pens and pencils and beer nuts and things in boxes. 

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry and pay our rent and not swear in the street  and set a good example for the children. We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.  But maybe I ought to practice a little now? So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Do you know this poem by Jenny Joseph, English author and poet?  This is from another favorite book bought for me by my late husband.

Book cover

It sits in pride of place with the other two similar books.  I have written about Becoming the Woman I’ve Wanted  and have quoted from If I Had My life to Live Over.

Book coverBook cover

So please don’t ever say I didn’t warn you.  My children have always thought that I would grow old disgracefully and this particular poem has haunted them since I first heard it.

I hope you enjoy it.

Even More Memories

London panorama

London Panorama from St Paul’s Cathedral

“Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner that I love London so.  Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner that I think of her wherever I go. “Hubert Gregg, English songwriter,
BBC broadcaster, author and stage actor. (1914-2004)

I read this post from Monica’s Tangled Web and immediately was transported back in time to 1951.  This was shortly after the Second World War ended and Britain and her people were badly in need of some cheering up.

Large areas of London were still in ruins and redevelopment had hardly begun.  The powers that be thought a festival would give Britons a feeling of recovery and progress.  Labour Deputy Leader Herbert Morrison one of the instigators of the Festival, described it as a ‘tonic for the Nation”.

“As we look forward to the year 1951, each of us can share in the anticipation of an event which may be outstanding in our lives. The motives which inspire the Festival are common to us all – pride in our past and all that it has meant, confidence in the future which holds so many opportunities for us to continue our contribution to the well-being of mankind, and thanksgiving that we have begun to surmount our trials.” King George VI, 1949

The south bank of the Thames was decided as the perfect place for the Festival as large areas had been demolished during the Blitz and building began to take shape.  Much was written and told about the wonders.  And to a very young girl, they were wonders.

I clearly remember the Skylon.  A futuristic-looking, slender, vertical, cigar-shaped steel structure seeming to float above the ground.  All that held it in place were those thin wires.  We all thought it was magical.

But it was controversial with some claiming it to be dangerous and apparently, questions were asked in Parliament regarding the danger to visitors from lightning-strikes to the Skylon, and the papers reported that it was duly roped off at one point, in anticipation of a forecast thunderstorm.


I think the Dome of Discovery was the centrepiece of the Festival and it dominated the site.  Together with the needle-like Skylon it became the instant visual symbol of the Festival.

King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and their daughters the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret rose attended the opening of the Festival with 14,000 invited guests.  The Festival was opened to the public the next day.  Here is a British Pathe recording of the day.   It’s very crackly but if you can ignore that it really is a piece of history.

Festival of BritainThe Festival was a resounding success even though some criticised the event as a waste of public money.  The South Bank exhibitions attracted 8.5 million visitors in five months.

In spite of its popularity with the public, the cost of dismantling and re-erecting the Skylon elsewhere (£30,000—£642,979 as of 2011) was deemed too much for a government struggling with Post-War austerity.

The exhibition was dismantled in 1952 and the Skylon was removed and common lore has it that it was thrown into the River Lea.   However, after a public outcry, it was revealed that both the Skylon and the Dome of Discovery were dismantled and sold for scrap.  In any event a truly ignominious end to such symbols of our future.

And this year the 60th Anniversary of the Festival of Britain is being celebrated.  According to the Guardian Newspaper “To pay homage to the event that helped usher London and the rest of Britain out of the postwar doldrums, the Southbank Centre is hosting a four-month jamboree boasting everything from gardens sprouting from the concrete buildings to a museum chronicling the original festival.”

How clear it all is in my memory.  And how exciting for the young children who had known only the deprivations of living through a war.  Suddenly there were celebrations and excitement.  Wonderful.

“But now the days grow short,  I’m in the autumn of my years and I think of my life as vintage wine from fine old kegs,  from the brim to the dregs.  It pours neat and clear.  It was a very good year.”  So sang Frank Sinatra – It was a very good year.