Monthly Archives: April 2023

A forgotten man.

Have you heard of Matthew Hewson? I just learned of him and his many expeditions as he accompanied the well-known explorer, Robert Peary. In 1866, Hewson was born to a family of sharecroppers, He worked odd jobs before he joined the crew of a merchant ship and sailed to distant continents. His first mentor,  Captain Childs, trained Henson for a life at sea and even taught him to read. In 1883, Childs died and in 1887 he met Robert Peary while working in a haberdashery store in Washington DC. Commander Peary, an engineer with the US Navy, was impressed with the young stock boy and he invited Henson to serve as his assistant on a survey mission to Nicaragua later that year.

(Image credit: Nelly George/Alamy)

Then he accompanied Peary to the Arctic Circle in search of the North Pole. Peary had long cherished the desire to be the first to reach the Pole and from 1891 to 1909, Henson was Peary’s closest collaborator. The two men nearly froze or starved on several occasions. They refined their process again and again, until their final expedition in 1909.

In the BBC article, we are told “According to a Smithsonian article, several days later on 6 April 1909, after an arduous trek through the tundra, Henson allegedly told Peary that he had a “feeling” they were now at the Pole. Henson said that Peary then dug into his coat, pulled out a folded American flag sewn by his wife and fastened it to a staff that he stuck atop an igloo. The following day, Henson said Peary determined their location with a sextant, placed a note and the US flag in an empty tin and buried it in the ice. The men then turned back toward the ship to head home.”

Again from the same article we are told he “eventually received honours from presidents Harry S Truman and Dwight D Eisenhower, but only towards the end of his life. Henson was ultimately interred at Arlington National Cemetery, where a special monument now stands, but it wasn’t erected until 1988 – 33 years after his death. Today, a handful of landmarks are named after him: Matthew Henson State Park, several Maryland public schools and the USNS Henson, a 3,000-ton research vessel that conducts oceanographic surveying.

A very interesting unforgotten man. From sharecropper’s son to Arctic explorer. I wonder how many such men, African American or not, reside in these untold stories.

Rediscovering America is a BBC Travel series that tells the inspiring stories of forgotten, overlooked or misunderstood aspects of the US, flipping the script on familiar history, cultures and communities.


And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda

Listen to this to really understand the results of the war, then during the Second World War and all the years since.

Take out the tissues – you will need them.

Anzac Poppy



Laurence Binyon’s poem ‘For the Fallen’  – the fourth verse of which is so familar to us today was quoted by Sir Winston Churchill, 1874 – 1965, British statesman and politician, Prime Minister of Britain during the Second World War:

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”

I have written a post about ANZAC DAY each year since I started blogging in 2011.

This is a solemn day for those of us in New Zealand and Australia.  Anzac Day occurs on 25 April. It commemorates all New Zealanders killed in war and also honours returned servicemen and women.

The date itself marks the anniversary of the landing of New Zealand and Australian soldiers – the Anzacs – on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915. The aim was to capture the Dardanelles. Thousands lost their lives in the Gallipoli campaign: 87,000 Turks, 44,000 men from France and the British Empire, including 8500 Australians. To this day, Australia also marks the events of 25 April. Among the dead were 2779 New Zealanders, about a fifth of those who served on Gallipoli.

At the end of the campaign, Gallipoli was still held by its Turkish defenders. A waste of so many young lives.

In 2016 following an accident that caused TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), I wasn’t posting blogs and so that year my ANZAC Day remembrance wasn’t posted until June.

As I said then,

“On Tuesday this week, my No 3 grandson Drew took me to our National Museum, Te Papa (Our Place in Maori) to see the Gallipoli Exhibition  This tells the story of the landings on April 25. 1915

On that day, thousands of young men, far from their homes, stormed the beaches on the Gallipoli Peninsula in what is now Turkey.

For eight long months, New Zealand troops, alongside those from Australia, Great Britain and Ireland, France, India, and Newfoundland battled harsh conditions and Ottoman forces desperately fighting to protect their homeland.

By the time the campaign ended, more than 130,000 men had died: at least 87,000 Ottoman soldiers and 44,000 Allied soldiers, including more than 8700 Australians. Among the dead were 2779 New Zealanders, about a sixth of all those who had landed on the peninsula.

New Zealand sent more men to fight in the First World War per head of population than any other nation. Of those killed, almost a third were buried half a world away in unmarked graves.

This exhibition tells the story from the standpoint of those young men.  It is incredibly detailed and we are shown where they stood their ground against an incredible army of Turks.  We see how they lived and we hear readings of letters home.

One of the standout officers was Lieutenant-Colonel William Malone (1859-1915) , a Stratford farmer and lawyer, who commanded the Wellington Battalion at Gallipoli. The Wellington Battalion landed at Anzac Cove on 25-26 April 1915. Malone soon began to impose order, transforming weak defensive positions along the Anzac perimeter into strong garrisons. Between June and August, he helped consolidate critical positions at Courtney’s Post and Quin’s Post.  Just one of many no doubt.

And each year on April 25 Australians and New Zealanders commemorate this battle with a Public Holiday. ANZAC DAY”

Click here to read the full post.

And now we are told that the exhibition will not be closed until after April 25, 2025. That’s Good News for anyone who hasn’t seen it.

Anzac Poppy

And today I learned why we use the Poppy to signal ANZAC DAY and remembrance here in NZ here. “The RSA (Returned Services Association) placed an order for 350,000 small and 16,000 large silk poppies with Madame Guérin’s French Children’s League.

The RSA planned to hold its first Poppy Day appeal just before Armistice Day 1921, as other countries were doing. When the ship bringing the poppies from France arrived too late for the scheme to be properly publicised, the association decided to wait until Anzac Day 1922.

And why the poppy? The red or Flanders poppy has been linked with battlefield deaths since the Great War (1914–18). It was one of the first plants to grow and bloom on battlefields in the Belgian region of Flanders. The connection was made most famously by a Canadian medical officer, Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, in his poem, ‘In Flanders fields’.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
 In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe: 
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high. 
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
        In Flanders fields.

From a subdued blogger in an almost frighteningly quiet early morning in Wellington New Zealand.


I have had several jobs since I gave my property management company to my daughter and decided to return stop but of course that was never going to happen and over the next few years I had several jobs including assisting an interior decorator, doing the backup Services for my real estate agent friend, Continuing volunteering for the local Hospice which has been an ongoing thing since the 80s but the best job I ever had was during the years I acted as the Wedding Coordinator at an historic church in Wellington

New Zealand is a very young country, so historic in this instance is only some 150 years.  However, I enjoyed my time there and loved being involved with so many brides and grooms.  Each year we had around 90 weddings, so I had plenty of people with whom to interact. 

I thought I would share some of my wedding memories with you.


I dreamed of a wedding of elaborate elegance,
A church filled with family and friends.
I asked him what kind of a wedding he wished for,
He said one that would make me his wife.
~Author Unknown

This is my absolute favourite quote on weddings.  Over the four years that I acted as Wedding Coordinator at Old St Paul’s I heard many, many verses and sayings about weddings and ceremonies; this is the one that has stayed with me.

During that time I  attended and coordinated more than 340  weddings.  We had weddings conducted in English (of course) Maori, German, Russian, Dutch, French and Italian.  In each instance, part of the service had been in English and so has been relatively easy to follow.

On January 24, 2009, we had a beautiful Chinese wedding.

Chinese Wedding Program

The bride duly arrived to the peal of bells. A fitting start to this lovely ceremony. The bride was a perfect picture so tiny and delicate in her beautiful white wedding gown.  The bridesmaids complimented her so well in their deep pink gowns.  Bride and bridesmaids each carried a bouquet of summer flowers.  What a great picture.

The groom and his groomsmen were also a joy to behold.  All had on dark suits with white shirts and a pink flower in the lapel.  Very smart and didn’t they all look so good standing awaiting the arrival of the bride.

The Priest was resplendent in his white robes with a rich red sash.

At the wedding rehearsal there had been a lot of talk in Cantonese/Mandarin but never was there a suggestion the whole ceremony would be conducted in other than the English language.

The bride told me she was ready and so I had the bell-ringers stop playing and the organist begin playing the processional for the entry of the bridesmaids followed by the bride.

But before the bridesmaids entered, the MC said a ‘few’ words in Cantonese or Mandarin and then indicated to me to start the ceremony.

The bridesmaids entered on my cue and each walked slowly down the aisle to their designated place.  Then, when all three were in place, I brought in the bride.  She was radiant but a little tearful.

The bride and her father walked slowly down the 34-meter aisle – the train of her dress following behind and showing off its snowy white perfection against the deep ruby red of the carpet.

The father handed the bride to the groom, the chief bridesmaid fluffed the train, the father took his seat and the ceremony commenced.

I can only assume that the priest welcomed the couple and guests in a speech in Chinese.  Then the ceremony took its usual course.  But all in Chinese so that I didn’t understand one word of it.  The affirmation and vows; the introduction of the candle ceremony and its significance, the homily from the priest; two Anglican hymns were sung, and all in Chinese.  I joined in the hymns, singing in English of course.  The hymns were “Joyful, Joyful” and  “To God Be the Glory”. Beautiful music and great words.

The Director of Music was a bit confused as he had to play music for the candle ceremony and signing of the register and he can’t see around the organ up to the altar.  Usually, he gets his cue from the words of the priest or celebrant.  This time he had to rely on my signals from the back of the church.  A bit like the blind leading the blind.

Then just as I was getting ready to cue the organist, a man stood and proceeded to address the bride and groom and the assembled guests.  Obviously, once again, I had no idea what was being said.  Then he waved to me that the recessional could begin.

Then the service was over.  The bride and groom started to walk back down the aisle and stopped and hugged parents and friends on the way.  The bells started to ring as they left the church.

All in all a great ceremony and full of emotion and feeling, even though I didn’t understand a word.

Following the ceremony, the bride’s mother was in tears so I gave her a tissue from the box kept always at the back of the church.  That seemed to set off a chain reaction as so many of the other women then took a tissue.

Photographs were taken in the church grounds.  Congratulations from me to the happy couple and hugs from the happy couple to me.

A fabulous summer morning wedding.

Love is a symbol of eternity.  It wipes out all sense of time,
destroying all memory of a beginning and all fear of an end. 
Author Unknown

I hope you enjoyed this trip down my Memory Lane. I think this will be the first in a short series on weddings. There were of course too many to record, and so some, for whatever reason, have been forgotten by me but hopefully not by the Bride and Groom.

Jetpack Woes

Is anybody else having problems with Jetpack?

I have tried to download it on numerous occasions but always get the response payment is not made. However there is no place to make payment and in any event I thought that as WordPress had unilaterally determined to move to Jetpack it was free.

So if you have any suggestions, please respond as I’m becoming desperate!

During the 12 years in which I have been using WordPress there have been odd problems but nothing as dramatic as this.


Taranaki Maunga to get legal personhood – what does this mean? 

This was one of the first things I read yesterday morning. My initial reaction was that as a Nation we are going mad.

My next was to determine whether in fact there was such a word as Personhood   In fact there is.  According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Personhood is determined as “a philosophical concept designed to determine which individuals have human rights and responsibilities. Personhood may be distinguished by possession of defining characteristics, such as consciousness and rationality, or in terms of relationships with others.” No mention here of mountains!

However, in doing some further research (how I love research) I looked at legal personhood and the rights of natural objects, I found a report from 2017. The report showed that countries such as Australia and New Zealand, the US, India, and Colombia were admitting personhood to rivers mountains and forests.  It was then referred to as an emerging ecological jurisprudence.

In September 2008, Ecuador became the first country to recognise the rights of Nature in its Constitution. “The new Ecuadorian Constitution includes a Chapter:  Rights for Nature. Rather than treating nature as property under the law, Rights for Nature articles acknowledge that nature in all its life forms has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles.  And we— the people—have the legal authority to enforce these rights on behalf of ecosystems.  The ecosystem itself can be named as the defendant,” writes the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature.

And in 2017, New Zealand passed a groundbreaking law granting Personhood status to the Whanganui River. The law declares “that the river is a living whole, from the mountains to the sea, incorporating all its physical and metaphysical elements.”

And now Mount Taranaki (Taranaki Maunga) is to get Personhood rights. To read this story click here

“The mountains are a reminder of the power and majesty of nature,
and of our own smallness in the face of it.” 
― Ajaz Ahmad Khawaja

Passing Years

As I have said before, I am old. And though mostly I don’t feel my age, one of the ways this is brought back to me is on my children’s birthdays. 

Today, April 11, 2023, my daughter Cate is celebrating her 63rd birthday. How did that happen I ask myself.

 It seems no time since she was a tiny 6 lb 13 oz baby, and then a toddler and a schoolgirl and a university student. Then she married and produced two sons of her own. These big strapping young men also remind me of how old I must be.

So today, I say happy birthday darling to my daughter. May you have many more and be lucky enough to reach my age!

Cate a few weeks ago with her drumming group.
I have seen her looking better, but seldom happier.

Easter Sunday

I just finished a long post on Easter Sunday and it’s disappeared into the ether.

So here’s a truncated version. I hate WordPress at times.

Today it’s Easter Sunday and I went to church.

This is a usual habit for many of you, but not for me. It is about 18 years since I have been to church for other than a wedding or a funeral.

At lunch yesterday a friend told me they were decorating the Cross at her church. I had never heard of this although I am told is quite common around the world. So I accompanied her this morning.

I was brought up in the High Church of England. Services were solemn affairs, churches were quiet areas and children were taken out to Sunday school or the crib shortly after the service started. But not today. This was a cheerful gathering of a wide age group. Many had white hair, and fathers and mothers were with their small children, teenagers and University students, all chatting and mingling.

Today’s service was not held in the beautiful old brick church because it has been deemed an earthquake risk.but in the adjacent hall.

The service was conducted by a very enthusiastic Priest/Minister. He knew everybody by name and was obviously very popular. There was much singing led by a young woman, accompanied by a pianist and three guitar players. I was pleased to note that the hymns were the traditional ones with which I had grown up.

The words of the hymns were projected onto a screen so there was no need for the hymnals which were very much in attendance when we were growing up. And no Prayer Books in sight!

Many parishioners had taken flowers with which to decorate the Cross. When we arrived the Cross was covered with wire and it was in the wire that all the parishioners put flowers and greenery – even the toddlers were given flowers.

The giving and taking of the Host was different too. The Priest broke what I assumed were wafers of unleavened bread into a bowl and poured the wine into another. He blessed each individual, gave them a piece of the wafer and they then dipped the wafer into the wine. Even as a young woman and well before Covid, I always felt that all those people drinking from a chalice was unhealthy.

The sermon was a continuation of a theme on which they had been dwelling for the past six weeks. It was quite long but interesting to this unbeliever.

And after the service coffee and tea were served. One woman offered lunch to anyone that wanted to come to her house. And there was to be baptism in the afternoon. So it is obviously, a very interactional church.

I say that I am open to new experiences. This certainly was one. I will not go back to that church, but over the next few months, I will explore other churches and synagogues in the region.

Daylight Saving Time Is Here

Realising that it is Good Friday and the first Friday in the month, I wondered what to write about. We turned back our clocks on Sunday and so I thought of a post from my early blogging days. 2011 and several of us were blogging daily .

I will repost it here and then, as there are a few differences 12 years later, I will list them.


“Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear;
too long for those who grieve; too short for those who rejoice;
but for those who love, time is eternity.” 
Henry Van Dyke,  American short-story Writer,
Poet and Essayist, 1852-1933)

On Sunday 3 April at 3am the clocks went back an hour and Daylight Saving ended.  So we now know we are on the way to winter and all that brings here in New Zealand. ***

We don’t have the long cold winters that some of my friends endure in various parts of the United States, Canada and Scotland.  We have a more temperate climate but we do endure dreary, long, miserable wet days,  But hey as Percy Byshe Shelley (1792-1822) asks

“If winter comes can spring be far behind?” (From Ode to the West Wind.  Written in 1819 in Florence, Italy.

Growing up in London and using the tube (the underground) on a daily basis, this was a constant reminder on a huge poster affixed to the station tunnel wall. During the often bitterly cold months of November, December and January it did show that there was a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ and it wasn’t a train.  Now I can console myself with the thought that the winter here will not be ‘bitterly cold’ as in the Northern Hemisphere.

Over the years here in New Zealand, there has been much discussion as to the pros and cons of Daylight Saving.  For many of us, it gets a big tick I am sure.

I love the long leisurely summer evenings in the garden with friends, sharing their thoughts and opinions and perhaps the odd glass of wine.  In winter we have to move these gatherings indoors and they lose some (but certainly not all) of their gaiety and spontaneity.

But there are those who do not support Daylight Saving time and object loudly about it every year.

The most vociferous objectors are the farmers and rural residents.   Farmers have to rise an hour earlier and they maintain there is no way to tell a cow that she must wait an hour before she can be milked and fed. When the sun goes down, the animals want to eat. So the farmers maintain that their long day is lengthened by this extra hour.

I still remember when living in Scotland as a young mother trying to get children to bed when it was still light.  It certainly had its challenges.  And in Scotland during the summertime, it is still light at 10pm.  Additional trouble.

They couldn’t understand why they were being put to bed when the sun had not yet set.  But they need to sleep and the clocks told me, if not them, that it was bedtime.

All the timing for little ones was put out.  According to the clock, they woke an hour later and went to bed in daylight.  No wonder we had cranky children and mothers, for a few days until we all settled into the new time.

So now we look forward to the pleasures of winter here in New Zealand.

  • Some of my friends ski and we have great skiing in both the North and South islands.***
  • Lazy evenings reading in front of the fire with favourite music playing.***
  • Time to catch up on favourite TV shows.
  • Hearty casseroles and soups that are too heavy for summer dining.
  • Gardens in hibernation so not much to do there.***
  • Warm sweaters, winter coats and boots.
  • Walks with Lotte (my Tibetan spaniel) in the brisk early mornings watching the sun clear the mist.***
  • And so many other things that I shall remember once this post is published.

“Take time to learn something new every day.
Take time to meet someone new every day.
Take time to try something new every day and then
make time to choose how you will spend the rest of your life”
Judith Baxter, Blogger 1938 –


This year, it was April 2nd.

Few friends ski now 12 years later. But my children and theirs take every opportunity to make for the ski slopes.

Unfortunately, there is no fire in my small apartment. Heating is by a heat pump. Warm but not the cozy winter feeling of sitting in front of the fire.

The gardeners will still come regularly to keep the garden in shape.

And even. worse – No Lotte to take for walks. It’s 10 years since I said goodbye to my perfect companion. How I miss that four-legged friend.