Monthly Archives: September 2011

My Week

After yesterday’s rant I thought I would move onto something less heavy.  But what?  I am having one of those moments when I sit in front of the blank screen and my mind screams “write, write” but nothing comes forth.  So I now shall go back and look at some of my frogs.  But there is a paucity of ideas there.

So what have I done this week?  It’s now Friday here and so there have been five days since Sunday.  How can one get through so many days and not have much to show for them?

  • I have had walks with Lotte each day as recorded in my blog.
  • I went to a movie on Monday evening and saw ‘The Help”.  I strongly recommend this movie.  I had read the book and this is probably a faithful rendition of the story.  In case you haven’t seen this movie, it tells the story of three women who dare to defy convention and get together to tell the stories of the way coloured women servants were treated in the 1960s in the south.  Well worth a trip to your local cinema.  An added bonus for me was that it was showing at our local bijou cinema so we took our wine in with us and had a meal afterwards.  A very pleasant unexpected evening out.
  • Yesterday I was taken out for what was described as high tea.  Being English I know that traditionally, high tea was a working class meal served on a high table at the end of the workday, shortly after five pm. It was a heavy meal of meat or fish dishes, vegetables such as potatoes and baked goods such as crumpets, vegetables  and other  foods such as baked beans and cheesy casseroles.  Afternoon tea What we had yesterday was afternoon tea at Martha’s Pantry.  Beautifully served with a great selection of teas.  I chose the blend called Paris and my partner had Pomegranate.  Mine was delicious a blend not unlike Earl Grey but with subtle undertones of various other blends.  I tried to purchase some as we left but unfortunately, they only had teabags available and being English, I drink real tea.  They did try to get some from their suppliers (they use leaf tea in their shop) but the smallest amount I could buy was apparently 500 grams (about 1lb) so it would be stale long before I used it.  Hard luck!
  • Oh I forgot.  I picked up my new i-Phone on Tuesday and have lots of fun finding my way around that.   But being blonde I have to go to the phone store to have them show me how to connect the Blue Tooth. Watch this space!  Oops, another exclamation mark.

So quite a busy week for a retiree almost retiree.  (almost  to yet another exclamation mark here but stopped just in time.  Have things to do this afternoon with and for my Real Estate friend.  and looking forward to tomorrow’s brunch with my French conversation new friends.

“If a man does not make new acquaintances as he advances through life, he will soon find himself alone.  A man should keep his friendships in constant repair.”
Samuel Johnson

Different Worlds

“Two different worlds
We live in two different worlds
But we will show them as
We walk together in the sun
That our two different worlds are one”
As sung by various artists.

These are the lyrics from an old song – way back in 1956 – and yes it was a love song, but it came to mind today when I read the headline  “Driving Car Gets Saudi Woman 10 Lashes”.

Saudi woman at wheel

From womeninsaudi.com

Apparently it is illegal for a woman to drive a car in ‘the conservative kingdom’ and this woman has been caught behind the wheel several times in recent weeks.  She attended a mass rally in June to garner support for women drivers. Since then, dozens of women have been involved in a campaign to try to break the taboo and impose a new status quo. The campaign’s founder who apparently posted a video of herself driving on Facebook, was detained for more than 10 days. She was released only after signing a pledge not to drive or to speak to the media.

Shaima Ghassaniya, the woman sentenced to the lashes, has been stopped on three occasions and each time was given the opportunity to sign the pledge not to drive again.  Each time she refused and this is the fourth time she has appeared in court.  The final time she was sentenced to the ten lashes.  This woman is Western educated and holds a masters degree and is to hire a lawyer to appeal the sentence.

What makes this all the more confusing to us in the Western world is that just two days ago King Abdullah made an announcement granting women the right to vote and to hold public office.  Where does this ban on driving fit in?

We most certainly live in two different worlds.  We are allowed the freedom not available to women in so many other countries.  Saudi Arabia is the only nation in the world where women do not have the right to drive.  What other rights do we take for granted that are not allowed to them?

The breaking news via the BBC is that King Abdullah has overturned the sentence, although this has not yet been confirmed officially.  This added to the earlier news that women will be allowed the vote, must help move this nation into the 21st Century where all people are treated equally.

End of rant for today.

For my sisters

Plaque

Anonymous quote

I have written about my sisters before, but in case you don’t know, the three of us live in different parts of the world.  If we tried we couldn’t be further away from each other.  Christine, my elder sister is in Los Angeles, USA; Marianne my younger sister is in London, UK and I am in Wellington, NZ.

We were born and brought up in the East End of London.  Some of you may have seen the TV program “The East Enders” but real life was not like that.  We lived in a comfortable, loving environment surrounded by parents and relatives.  In this we were particularly fortunate as since growing up and moving on I have heard horrendous stories of how people were treated during their formative years.  When I read this post on Fatherhood from Misty it made me realize once again just how lucky we were.

As I have said before there was little money around and certainly no luxuries.  But we were well fed, clothed and warm and in this loving environment, what more could we ask for?

My childhood memories are good.  I had my two best friends always close by and if any one of us was ever in trouble, we ganged together and put up a united front. As Pam Brown says “When sisters stand shoulder to shoulder, who stands a chance against us? “

And so it has always been with the three of us.  We live far apart but yet are always there in thoughts for each other.  I wrote a poem to my younger sister to tell her (and you) how much I appreciated her.  I wrote a blog about both sisters early in my blog writing career.  I love and honour them both and wish that we could spend more time together.  But it is not to be unfortunately.

I wish that we could share our daily lives with each other.  I wish that they could accompany Lotte and me on our walks around this city.  I wish that I could introduce them to my friends.  I wish, I wish …

But we rely on emails and phone calls to keep our relationship with each other strong.  Commiserations to those of you who don’t know the special bond that exists between sisters.

Mother and girls

Mother with her three daughters

“We each hear different drummers,
but still find music to dance together.”
Judith Baxter
, Sister, friend and confidante
1938 –

A different walk today

“These boots are made for walking
and that’s just what they’re gonna do.”

It has been a beautiful day here.  Bright sunshine but unfortunately strong winds and so the temperature has never really reached any great height.  But it is most pleasant to take a walk around the shore and take in the sights.

Marine reserve

We started our walk into the brisk wind and found some very interesting houses.

We are told that the woman of this house always wanted to live in a lighthouse, so while she was away overseas on a trip the husband had one built for her.  True or not it’s a good story.

Life boat house

Immediately to the left of that house sits this one.  As you can see it has a life boat built into the facade.  No information on why it’s there or who put it there  is available but it makes another good talking point.

Two horses house

And to the left of that is this house.  Why there are two horses above the garage is anybody’s guess.

The ocean

If you look really hard you can see the South Island in the distance.

All three of these houses sit with their backs to a high cliff and the sea in front.  It would be an exciting place to live when the southerlies blow and the wind whips up the waves.  But today it was relatively calm.

Hazard warning

The road to the quarry

We then drove a little way around to the Red Rocks Scientific Reserve.  Red rocks or Pariwhero in Maori is an area steeped in myths and legends.  The rocks  are ancient pillow lava formed 200 million years ago by undersea volcanic eruptions. Small amounts of iron oxides give the rocks their distinctive red colouring.

There is always more than one story in Maori folklore and the red rocks are no exception.   In one story  Kupe – the famous Polynesian explorer – was gathering paua (abalone) here when one clamped his hand. He bled and stained the rocks red. In the other story, and the one I prefer, the daughters of Kupe, fearing for his safety on a long voyage, they gashed themselves in grief over his absence.  The red is their blood.

Red Rocks

There is an unmanned Scientific Centre that gives historical notes and information on the surroundings and the habitation of the area.  This is one such information tablet.

Another is on the fur seals. These are males who have lost  fights for territory in the breeding colonies at the top of the South Island.  As it is a bachelor colony there are no females and so you are not likely to come upon a seal pup here.

Fur seals

There is also information on early quarrying activity in the area. And I shall write about the quarry and its activities and eventual closure in another post.

Quarry

“I dream of hiking into my old age.”
Marlyn Doan
, 1936 – 2005

My Desk

“If lust be one of the deadly sins, then I am guilty”
Judith Baxter 1938 –

I was visiting my very new Father-in-law (well new to me anyway) in the family home.  He had not attended our wedding although he had sent good wishes and a cheque and this was the first time I was to meet him.

My very new husband and I went into the library to meet his father and there under a window was this magnificent desk.  I lusted after it from the moment I first saw it. It was the most beautiful piece of furniture that I had ever set eyes upon.

Mahogany Desk

Looks exactly like ‘my desk’

Shin ing with the patina of years of polishing and glowing in the afternoon sun.  I managed to speak to this new person in my life, but couldn’t take my eyes off his desk.

He couldn’t fail to notice that my eyes kept wandering to the desk and he quickly put me out of my misery.  He pulled out the chair and told me to sit.  This I did with alacrity and was soon running my hands over the beautiful mahogany surface, afraid that I would leave finger marks all over it.  He then suggested that I open the lid and investigate all the little drawers under it and I saw how beautifully they slid in and out.  He pointed out that there were no nails at all in the desk.  All the joins/connections were made with dowel rods and were perfect.  As my father and his family were all cabinet makers and/or woodcarvers by trade, I knew a bit about furniture making.

There were several larger drawers where he kept his papers, but I was fascinated with the little drawers and cubby holes.

I was quite sure that if I owned such a magnificent desk I could conquer the world with my writing.

Each time we visited I went into the library and looked lustfully lovingly at ‘my desk’.  I hungered for this piece of furniture although at the time we owned (with the bank) a semi-detached house that had no room for such a piece of furniture.  But oh how that desk would have lifted that ordinary little house from the ordinary to the extraordinary.

With the charms greed innocence of youth, I really thought that at some stage we/I would own that desk.  Alas, it was not to be.  We left Scotland to start our travels around the world and the desk and all the other wonderful antiques stayed in that house in Scotland.  I wonder where it is now.

I have since purchased a roll-top desk but it is not nearly as beautiful as ‘my desk’.  I scour antique shops in the hope that I might discover another beauty but so far I have been unsuccessful.  But I keep looking.

Desk

And what is my desk like now?  Well, it is a functional metal frame with a glass top and as you can see, it is unlikely that I would get everything I need onto ‘my desk’.

To be able to write I do need all these things.  The coffee being constantly replenished, the Filofax in case Mr Right wants to take me away from all this, hand cream and nail varnish (what woman can exist without these essentials) the dictionary and the flip-top daily laugh sayings that my grandchildren bought for me.  They tell me that they immediately thought of me when they saw it.  Today I flipped it over and this is what I found.

Worship me

And sometimes I have some extra help from my four-legged friend.

Lotte on desk

Another helping hand

So with all that in mind, and still on the hunt for a replacement for ‘my desk’ I will be satisfied for now with what I have.

A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.
John le Carre , 1931 –

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

City of Sails

“The time has come”the walrus said
to talk of many things:
Of shoes and ships and sealing wax
of cabbages and kings.”
Lewis Carrol –
from Through the Looking Glass

In New Zealand Auckland is known as the city of sails but here in Wellington we have our fair share of yachts.  Large and small, we see them braving the mad winds we have in our harbour.  Yesterday, when out for our walk and even though there was a brisk wind, the only activity around the marina seemed to be people cleaning and getting their yachts ready to sail.

Yachts

As you can see the marina is almost in the CBD.

Yachts

Having been married to a boat owner (several launches no yachts) I do know just how much work there is always waiting to be done around boats.

Laser dinghy

Laser image via Wikipedia

One Christmas when they were about 13 and 15, we bought the children a Laser.  They had earlier been introduced to P-class sailing when we lived on Lake Pupuke in Auckland, but this was their first real experience of sailing and managing a yacht.  We had many laughs until they got used to it, and they had many hours, weeks, months and years of fun.

But back to yesterday.  It was a very good day for a walk around the harbour even though the wind did it’s best to blow Lotte’s ears inside out.

Chaffers Sign

For some reason the date reverted to 1 January 2007 on the camera.

This is the main marina in the city but there are others scattered around our harbour.  New Zealanders love the sea and use any excuse to get out on their boats.  Children start very early with p-class yachts and if they are keen, they can always find somebody wanting a deck hand on a boat for the day.

And of course, nowhere in New Zealand are we any more than about 2.5 hours drive from the sea.  So those born and/or brought up here have the sea in their blood.

Chaffers Dock Apartments

These apartments converted from an office block, have uninterrupted views of the activity on the harbour.  On the ground floor is a variety of cafes and restaurants where one can while away time over a good coffee or a meal.  Lotte is welcome but of course, we sit outside with her to drink our coffee.  This is a particularly good place for people watching – my most favourite sport.

cup of latte

“We do not live by coffee alone; order a danish.” Judith Baxter

Walking Backwards

“Nobody gets to live life backward.
Look ahead that’s where your future lies.
Ann Landers (pen name of Columnist Ruth Crowley)  1907-1955

When I was growing up, my Grandmother (who seemed so very ancient then, even though she died in her 60s) always walked down the stairs backwards.  This seemed in no way unusual to us. We had only ever seen her descending in this way.  And even now, I have no idea of why she did so.  Was she scared to look ahead and maybe lose her footing?

Over the past few weeks I have found myself looking back, sometimes more than looking forward.  There are many things in my life to look back on with pleasure, with gratitude and yes, also with longing.  So am I scared to look ahead in case I lose my footing?

Looking back doesn’t really solve any problems for any of us.  We only have today.  And we have all heard the quote – “Yesterday is the past; tomorrow is the future; today is the present.  So use it as a gift.”  I don’t know when or where I first heard that but it is so very true.  And I wonder who penned it originally.

And we know that today really is the first day of the rest of your life.  Here in New Zealand the clocks go forward an hour tomorrow, so summer is officially here.  Hooray!

“Come to the edge, he said.
They said: We are afraid.
Come to the edge, he said.
They came.
He pushed them and they flew.

Guillaume Apollinaire (French Poet)

Trials of a Rambler

Ramble definition: v amble, drift, perambulate, peregrinate, range, roam, rove, saunter, straggle etc etc

And this certainly covers the range of topics I have covered in my blog posts since I started on March 1.  Right here you need to cheer.  Yesterday was my 200th post.  Aw c’mon – that deserves at least a little recognition.

Applause

msn clipart

But back to today’s post.  Usually, well quite often anyway, when I sit down to write I have some idea of what I shall write about.  But at other times.  Well, if you read my earlier post Kiss Your Frogs you’ll know that’s not always the case.

Sometimes, I start with an idea and then this over-age mind of mine goes off on a totally different track and I am reminded of the rambles that I take with Lotte each day.

Town Belt Sign

Here in Wellington, we are very lucky that our original town fathers had the sense to proclaim an area around the city The Town Belt.   For those of you interested here is a pdf of the Townbelt  Deed

“made the twentieth day of March One thousand eight hundred and seventy-three
BETWEEN THE HONOURABLE WILLIAM. FITZHERBERT
Superintendent of the Province of Wellington in the Colony of New Zealand
of the one part and
THE MAYOR COUNCILLORS and CITIZENS OF THE CITY OF  WELLINGTON
(who with their Successors are hereinafter termed “the Corporation’ of the other part…”

This deed specifically provides access to over 1,000 acres of walks, playing fields and leisure activity areas for the people of Wellington and it’s visitors.

central park 2

Lotte and I regularly walk in this part of the town belt as it is in our area and it has a designated dog area where she can run around off the lead.

Northern bushwalk

This is another favourite track of ours.  Khandallah to Mt Kaukau but since I have had Lotte we haven’t ventured to the top.  It is too steep for her little legs – well, that’s my excuse anyway.

Khandallah Bush walk

The bush is quite dense but is well-marked with paths and signposts.  Other people do let their dogs off the lead here but as there are so very many interesting and enticing smells she might follow them and never come back ,Lotte is kept firmly on the lead..

Khandallah Bush Walk

And so, as you can see it is not only my mind that wanders rambles but also my legs.  And I am so very grateful that I live here and that I am able to enjoy the peace and solitude (yes often we don’t see another soul on our walks).

Rugged coast

Added to the bush the sea is only a 10-minute drive away.  How lucky can you get?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Around That Corner?

A bend in the road

Occasionally when I am  out walking with Lotte and I look ahead and just for a moment wonder what might lie around that bend.  Is it something wonderful or something to be scared of?

And then I think of one of my favourite poems by Rudyard Kipling :

“They shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago.
Weather and rain have undone it again,
And now you would never know
There was once a road through the woods
Before they planted the trees.
It is underneath the coppice and heath,
And the thin anemones.
Only the keeper sees
That, where the ring-dove broods,
And the badgers roll at ease,
There was once a road through the woods.
Yet, if you enter the woods
Of a summer evening late,
When the night-air cools on the trout-ringed pools
Where the otter whistles his mate.
(They fear not men in the woods,
Because they see so few)
You will hear the beat of a horse’s feet,
And the swish of a skirt in the dew,
Steadily cantering through
The misty solitudes,
As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the woods….
But there is no road through the woods. “

This was one of the poems that we learned at school and now some 55 years later, I can still recite it.

I do know that different interpretations of any poetry are possible. This poem talks to me of plans made and discarded in favour of new plans.  We can decide to take the road through the woods or an alternative perhaps easier way, where the road is still clear and unhampered, or we can take this way strewn with brambles and humps aka problems and challenges.  Some of us choose the easy way and enjoy life to a certain extent, never knowing how great it feels to overcome the challenges.  And the rest of us…..

Well we know what it is to go out into the world without a safety net.  Sure, it’s scary and not comfortable, but oh the joy when we accomplish what we had thought was impossible.

So today I am encouraging you (but only if you feel strong and secure enough of course) to ditch the safety net and meet life head on.  Who know what you may find.

“To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily.  To not dare is to lose oneself. ”
Soren Kierkegaard
, 1813 –1855
Danish Christian philosopher, theologian and author.

And in no means meant as a postscript:

I should like to thank sincerely all 70 people who have subscribed to my blog and to the 14,000 plus visitors to this site.  Thank you, thank you.  I am honoured that you read my blogs and comment.  In fact, blown away would more accurately describe my feelings for you all.

Wind blowing cloud

via Clipart

 

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The Gastronome

Gastronome definition -a connoisseur of good food; gourmet; epicure.

Looking through my very old copy of The Anti Bull Cookbook once again, I came across an article about a gastronome.  We have all met them.  “He’s portly, fruity and rather pretentious, not to say on many occasions, downright pompous.”

Fortunately, these people seem to become more rare as this 21st Century progresses but I clearly remember such a person.

When we were newly married and very young and living in London, my late husband and I had been asked for dinner by one of his business acquaintances.  It seemed to be a good thing for Robert’s career prospects and as we were being asked to a first-class restaurant, he accepted with alacrity.  Oh dear, what a mistake.

The host was so very pompous and as soon as we were seated in the restaurant began by telling us all the places in the world where he had eaten.  Many were Michelin star rated and he proceeded to give them his own rating.  He then took over the process of ordering for all of us.

Having accomplished this the Sommelier was called  – no mere wine waiter for him – and a lengthy discussion ensued on the correct wines to have with each of the courses.

Then followed two of the most boring hours I have ever endured.  This man was used to laying down the law to his underling sycophants.  He knew everything about everything and he had strong views on all things.

The food was excellent but that I suggest was nothing to do with him.  He had chosen one of London’s (then) top restaurants.  How could he fail?  But how the time dragged.

These people were at least 25+  years older than us.  Can you picture it?  A 20-year-old and her 28-year-old husband, out ‘on the town’ with this pompous 45+ gourmand?  His wife who was a quiet little mouse said very little. After being introduced to us she sat back and let her husband take over.  From the dreamy look in her eyes, she had taken herself off to some other, more interesting place.  No doubt she had plenty of practice and no doubt she had heard his ramblings many times before.

It was an interesting evening. I had never met anybody quite like him before and there was the added bonus of a Michelin starred restaurant in which we ate. And in retrospect, I did learn a lot from him, once I could put aside the bull nonsense and listen to what he said about food and wine.  But  I wasn’t in any hurry to repeat it.  I couldn’t imagine having these two for dinner in our one-bedroom, ‘garden flat” – here read’ semi-basement with access to rear garden’ in a not particularly upmarket area of London.  And as at that time, my husband’s expense account was measly, we didn’t reciprocate.  I did know enough to send a thank you note to the wife the next day with some flowers.  But spend time in his company again – never!

“A man is in general better pleased when he has a good dinner upon his table, than when his wife talks Greek”  Samuel Johnson