Category Archives: Living

The Streets of London

“So how can you tell me you’re lonely,
And say for you that the sun don’t shine?
Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London
I’ll show you something to make you change your mind “

This is the chorus from Ralph McTell’s song The Streets of London”.  Do you know it.  Click here to hear him sing this song.

This is one of those songs that remind us just how lucky we are.  Oh we all have something about which to complain but unless one is battling a life threatening or terminating illness, put alongside those who are homeless and without any hope that things will improve, they really are minor.

If you follow my blog you will know that, until I came to live with my partner (the Architect), Thursday was always Mary Potter Hospice day.  Once a week I volunteered and helped serve lunch to the patients or should we now call them clients?

All these patients were battling terminal illness but in the years that I volunteered there,  I only met one person who was rude and ungrateful for the care he was receiving from the dedicated staff.  Of course, it was understood by everyone why he was like this at the time.  And his charming wife told us that he was never rude before coming into the Hospice.  Apparently he was a gregarious, lovely fellow who was finding it difficult to come to terms with what was happening to him.

And then recently, I experienced the other side of the service the hospice offers.  My partner, dying from a brain tumour, was transferred to Te Omanga Hospice close to where we live.  And what an amazing place that it.  The love, care and attention showered upon us both was absolutely unbelievable.  Nothing was too much trouble for any of the staff.  Cups of tea in the early hours of the morning, a friendly ear to listen when it all became to much for me, food brought to me even though I didn’t want to eat and in all an outpouring of love to help me when the inevitable time came for the Architect to leave this world.

And when that day came, the love was showered on our families.

So if today in your travels, you come across an abrupt, grumpy person, give them a smile.  We don’t know what demons they are battling in their lives and maybe a smile will help them.

“If you’re reading this…
Congratulations, you’re alive.
If that’s not something to smile about,
then I don’t know what is.”
Chad Sugg, –  Monsters Under Your Head


The root of all superstition is that men observe when a thing hits,
but not when it misses.”
― Francis Bacon

There will be three Fridays the 13th this year – February, March and November.  And we just have to decide whether we are superstitious or not.

Wikipedia gives us a name for Friday the 13th – “paraskevidekatriaphobia, from the Greek words Paraskeví (Παρασκευή, meaning “Friday”), and dekatreís (δεκατρείς, meaning “thirteen”)”

I’m not superstitious and for me it is just another Friday but I am being extra careful today.

Now to other things.  Today I am WATCHING

Judith & Alice

  • The way a newly born baby attracts people and noticing the joy of being allowed to hold her
  • The huge waves rolling onto the beach; they are quite magnificent in their power
  • Surfers battling these waves and some succeeding in standing up
  • Children paddling in the surf
  • Two older couples just enjoying the sunshine, sand and the water’s edge
  • Puffs of smoke emanating from White Island – New Zealand’s most active cone volcano.  It’s very close only 48kms/30 miles from shore.  It’s puffing away merrily today.
  • And strangers interacting as they meet on the beach
  • A couple walking their dogs
  • A small child clambering onto a tyre strung up to make a swing
  • My partner stretched out on a lounger contentedly reading
  • Teachers from the local school rounding up the pupils
  • A group of teenagers enjoying their lunch on the beach
  • The same group chasing each other and generally having fun
  • The brilliant sun shining down onto our part of the world that we call Paradise.

Ohope beach

A New Day Dawns

Ohope beach 9 2 15

Ohope Beach

Our peace and quiet in the bay was disturbed early this morning by a cyclone of helicopters swooping low over the beach, landing and scooping up sand.  We have no answer to question of why they were taking sand nor where.  Perhaps the local paper will enlighten us later in the week.  By the way does one describe a group of helicopters as a cyclone?  That is certainly what it sounded like; but it is probably something humdrum like a flight.  Anyway I’m sticking with cyclone.

The weather has changed somewhat and the temperature has dropped to 25 degrees; this in contrast to parts of the South Island where the temperature plummeted and they had snow at 600 metres.  Summer in New Zealand!

As I have said often before as you travel the length of this country you can go from cold, cold weather to subtropical in the upper north.  Makes for interesting viewing on the nightly weather reports.

The beach is practically deserted now that all schools have gone back to start the new school year.  But today, the local intermediate school has brought two mini buses filled with children to learn to surf.  The shrieks of delight (?) and laughter could be heard by those of us sitting and reading.

Breakfast this morning was at our favourite restaurant in WhakataneL’Epicerie.  It’s owned by our French friends and today we both had French toast (yes this is how it was written on the blackboard) which consisted of two slices of sourdough bread, streaky bacon, maple syrup, bananas, whipped cream and raspberry coulis.  Needless to say, I couldn’t finish mine but my favourite man ate all on the plate.  Again, needless to say, there will be no more food consumed here until dinner this evening.

At the weekend I purchased a new Apple iPad Air 2.  Having been given a new 27-inch iMac with “Retina 5K display” for Christmas, I decided to leave my trustee Samsung tablet and purchase an iPad.  We are now having great fun setting it up and finding our way around it,  Watch this space.

And for no good reason, here is one of my favourite quotes.  I love Piglet…

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh


“Happiness quite unshared can scarcely be called happiness;
it has no taste.”
Charlotte Bronte

Sharing with seagulls

Sharing with seagulls

Awake and  sharing

  • The early sunshine peeping around the curtains
  • That comfortable feeling of knowing you are in the right place, at the right time, with the right person
  • An early morning walk along the beach to get the weekend newspapers
  •  The almost deserted beach with four seagulls
  • The ocean with four surfers
  • The holiday feel in the air – Waitangi Day weekend*
  • The buzz as I pass the surf club, its members getting ready for competition
  • The smell of bacon and eggs cooking on the barbecue when I return from my walk
  • Conversation and jokes with friends visiting for the weekend
  • Memories of my sister who visited from London 12 months ago and

SHARING our corner of Paradise with my friends in the blogging world.  Wish you could all be here with us to share.

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
Mahatma Gandhi

* Waitangi Day held each day on 6 February to celebrate the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand’s founding document, on that date in 1840.

Lazy Sunday Afternoon

“Lazy Sunday afternoon,
I’ve got no mind to worry,
Close my eyes and drift away,”

Are you old enough to remember the Small Faces singing this song in 1968?  The group was formed in the mid 60s by four boys from the East End of London and this song reached No 2 on the UK Singles Hit List in 1968.  How innocent we all were then.

But this post is not about the band, or even about that song.  It just came to mind as we were sitting devouring the weekend papers in the sunshine in our garden on a Lazy Sunday Afternoon.  We had a busy morning and now we’re relaxing.

How different is our Sunday in this peaceful corner of the world, from the mayhem that is happening in most other places.  Do these terrorists think so little of the gift of life that they can rampage through peaceful communities bent on destruction?

Yesterday we heard of the latest in the string of atrocities perpetrated by Boko Haram  – At least 10 people were killed when a young girl, thought to be aged 10, blew herself up at a crowded market in the northeast Nigerian city of Maiduguri.  Apparently she had bombs strapped to her body.  Was she given a choice?  I suspect not.

So friends, take care as we never know when something awful might happen

And from my little book of dog wisdom* :-

“Life is a precious gift.
Treat it delicately and be grateful for it,
but most importantly celebrate and enjoy it”


Lotte on desk

Another helping hand

Welcome Another Year

“There are only two ways to live your life.
One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
― Albert Einstein

2014 was a busy and traumatic year for most of the world.  Terrorism seems to be gaining the upper hand.  We saw all those school girls kidnapped in Nigeria, uproar in the middle east, riots and protests across the US, aircraft lost either vanishing into thin air or being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  So we hope that 2015 will be a better time for all of us who inhabit this wonderful world.

So now it is the beginning of the second year of my new life.  I have been so lucky to have a second chance at love – I almost said life and love but I need no second chance at life.

I have always said I have lived a blessed life.  A long and mostly happy marriage, two adult children and four fantastic growing up grandsons, who could ask for more?  And then some 18 months ago into my life sailed this new love.

I have written about 2014 and what a busy year that was.  My sister came from London for five weeks, we went to Hobart to visit the Museum of New and Old Art.  We went to Europe for three and half months and saw so many things that if my partner hadn’t taken 18,000 plus (yes in excess of eighteen thousand) photos I wouldn’t remember half of what we saw and did  Then we moved house with all the attendant hiccups that brings.  And then suddenly it was Christmas.

Our plans were for a quiet Christmas but the best laid plans and all that.  We had visitors for the weekend before Christmas, friends with three of their adult daughters, then on the 30th my daughter and her two boys came for a prolonged lunch and then it was Christmas Eve.  The other two grandsons visited and exchanged gifts and stayed for lunch and a friend who was to spend Christmas with us arrived.  That day we heard from my partner’s son that they “were all looking forward to spending the day with you”.  So what was to be just three of us and my partner’s aged (99 year old) father in law turned out to be a celebration of 10 people.  But it was fun.

And it didn’t stop there.  Friends for lunch, friends for dinner, dinner with partner’s son and family for New Year’s Eve, a visit to friends at the beach   and in the middle of all this, the 99 year old fell and smashed his face and ended up in hospital.

Tired panda

And of course, Christmas is in the summer here.  Most people are on holiday and we have had a constant stream of visitors since.  But hey – who’s complaining!  We are having fun and the weather is co-operating so barbecues are the order of most days.

So I am going into 2015 with a happy heart and full of excitement for the year ahead.  We are planning a less eventful year but anything can happen to change those plans.

“I may not have gone where I intended to go,
but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”
― Douglas Adams,
The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

What I Need To Know

Way back in January 2012 I wrote a post entitled All I Need To Know in which I said that all I needed to know was in the story of Noah’s Ark.

Noah's arkSince then I have become even more convinced of the wisdom of Old Noah.  In the two years since I wrote that post my life has been totally turned around.  I no longer live alone in my old villa.  Instead I live in a brand new house with my partner.

I re read the post and thought how well my life has gone in the past couple of years and how apt Old Noah’s thoughts and actions are still to us in the 21st Century.  We can all learn from him.

In the earlier post I listed what I had learned and now I would like to comment on some of the items in that list.

  • I did listen to the voice within when friends told me I was making a mistake selling my house and going away for an indeterminate time.  I went to Florence and
  • I followed my intuition.
  • I made my preparations in advance – I put the house on the market, contacted the travel agent and booked an apartment in Florence.
  • My life was built on a strong foundation and my little house had withstood all that had been thrown at it for more than a hundred years,
  • Even though my possessions were in a storage unit that was set alight, the things that were important to me were stored in heavy plastic boxes and they survived.
  • Well I have chosen my companions well and
  • I love my companions and fellow travellers.
  • And some of these travellers aka my children I set free to return as and when they wished.
  • Yes, I did listen to other people’s opinions but always made my own decisions.
  • I learned that it is better to live with somebody else than living alone.  But I also learned to be selective when making such an important decision.
  • I make time for quiet meditation which nurtures my soul.
  • I embraced many new experiences since writing the original post not least being alone in Florence and not speaking the language.
  • I was brought up in England and have always loved the feel of the gentle rain on my face.
  • And I also love the sunshine and notice how differently people behave when the sun is shining.
  • I volunteered at the Hospice and continue to believe I got more from the experience than anyone at the Hospice did.
  • I have accepted the assistance offered by others – I hope this acceptance has been gracious.
  • I know that there will be hard times interspersed with the sunshine and light.
  • I have known for a long time that we share this planet with a myriad of other creatures both large and small, and we don’t must share the bounties with them
  • I continue to nurture an attitude of gratitude.  I am very aware of how very lucky I have been all my life.
  • I know that one wo/man with a a strong belief can overcome and succeed in spite of the odds – here in New Zealand we have Beverley Pentland who was an advocate against fireworks sales and had legislation brought to Parliament – raising the minimum age for purchasing fireworks to 18 years – restricting the sale period to four days from 2 November to 5 November – limiting the decibel level a firework can produce to no more than 90 decibels.
  • And I love fish.

This proves to me that I can and will continue to learn for the rest of my life.


Challenge – Writing 101

The first Challenge –

Writing 101: Unlock the Mind.

To get started, let’s loosen up. Let’s unlock the mind. Today, take twenty minutes to free write. And don’t think about what you’ll write. Just write.

So here goes.

If you have followed me before, or if you have read some of my posts,  you will know that for the first two years of blogging I managed to write a blog every day.  Then things changed.  I decided that my life was going nowhere and it was time for a change.

So almost overnight it seemed, the house was put on the market and sold, the Beautiful Miss Bella (my companion Toy Poodle) was found a place to stay while I adventured abroad and then, wouldn’t you know it, Fate stepped in.  I met an acquaintance from some 30 years ago.  His wife had died, my husband had been dead for some 15 years and we started to meet occasionally for coffee, a drink or dinner.

The time came for me to head off to Florence where I had arranged to lease an apartment for 3 months with the plan to learn to speak Italian while there.  I had sourced a school where the learning was intensive – 6 hours each day, dinner most nights and outings at the weekend – all (or as I understood it most) conducted in Italian.

My sister in London was expecting me to come visit her first and it was decided that she would accompany me to Florence for a couple of weeks as I settled into a strange city where I knew no-one and  didn’t speak the language.

This is where Fate took a hand.  I hadn’t really expected the house to sell so quickly or for the new owners to want possession in a couple of weeks.  So that left me homeless and with a few weeks to fill in before my odyssey started, I arranged with a friend to stay with her.  But no, here comes Fate again.  My re-acquianted (is there such a word)  friend suggested that I should go and stay with him for the four weeks before I left for London.  This seemed a good idea and so the decision was made.

My family was used to my popping off overseas from time to time and only finding out when I would come home again on receipt of an email from a far away place.  My new friend was amazed that I was planning a trip to a place I really didn’t know (well I had been there for three days in the past) , on my own, not speaking the language and knowing nobody.  He had been married to the same woman for over 40 years and I don’t think they had done much on the spur of the moment preferring instead to plan ahead.

So I lived with my friend for the next four weeks and it was all very pleasant.  We took the Beautiful Miss Bella to her new home and apart from the first night when I was there she has settled in beautifully.  Well what else to expect when she is loved by her new owner.  This was to be a shared ownership of the dog but it has devolved into her being with her new owner for keeps.

The day dawned when I was to leave and fond farewells were exchanged, together with a promise that my new friend would join me in Florence if and when the house that he was building was sufficiently complete to allow him to leave.  Incidentally this never happened.

My few weeks in London were great.  I revisited all the places of my childhood with my sister but there was a shadow over this – they (the medical fraternity) thought she had a heart attack and refused her permission to fly.  So with much trepidation and wondering what I was thinking about – a 75 year old woman taking off into the unknown on her own, I left for Florence.

New Zealand Calling

After months of not writing a blog, I got up last Friday (04/04) fully intending that this would be the first day of many blogs.

I have had a lovely few months.  We had a holiday at the beginning of the year away from the stresses of an architect building a home for himself; then we spent 5 weeks travelling around the country with my sister from England and sharing with her some of my favourite places in this beautiful land;then more friends from overseas.  We had a few days in Australia visiting 4 artists in their studios and then a trip to Hobart in Tasmania to visit MONA – Museum of Old and New Art.  What an exciting time that was and what an amazing building.  Here’s the link. Please take a look you will hardly believe what has been achieved here.

In February we moved house although the new house isn’t ready to move into and following a series of minor (or maybe major) disasters it wont be ready for another two or three months so we are going to Europe for three months.  We are busy planning our trip with friends in Italy with whom we shall stay and then go to Spain with them.  How exciting!

Fire at storage unit

But the best laid plans – on Friday (04/04) we heard that there had been a major fire in a storage facility in Wellington and yes, all my worldly goods were stored in that facility.  Panic ensued and nothing else was thought of for the rest of the day.  However, the next day we went to the site and discussed the situation with the General Manager and the Fire Chief.  We were told there would be water and smoke damage but both thought it would be minimal.

So there followed a week of waiting to be told that we could go onto site; meeting with removal men to determine where the soggy goods would be stored; going to the new facility and sorting out what had to be removed immediately – boxes that disintegrated as they were lifted.  These mainly held linen and scarves – easily washed so no real problem – and shoes.  This was a different matter as they all had to be stuffed with newspaper and dried at the fire.

Of real concern though was the artwork, prints etc.  Fortunately my daughter has just bought a house with a self-contained apartment attached.  So we moved the pictures into that and set the dehumidifier.  It looks as if we have been really lucky.

Books, photos and papers were in plastic storage bins so again we have been very lucky.  The photos and letters were what I was most concerned about.  Everything else is just stuff.

And now we are told that the fire was arson.  The mind boggles at how anybody could do something like this.  All week we have heard terrible stories of people having lost everything.  CCTV coverage shows a man entering the facility with what looks like a drum of petrol.  Let’s hope they get this man quickly.

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude.”
A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

The Kiwi Bach

“To go out with the setting sun on an empty beach is to truly embrace your solitude.”
Jeanne Moreau  French actress, singer, screenwriter and director. 1928 –

Here in New Zealand it’s summer.  Well so far this year it has been so disappointing.  A few good days leading up to Christmas; a fabulous Christmas Day (well here in Wellington anyway) but since then it has been truly awful.  Rain, gale force winds and more rain.  So waking up today to sunshine was a surprise.

Many people are on holiday – Christmas and New Year are when most offices and services close down and families head off to the beach to their holiday homes.

AA sign Kiwi Bashes

In the North Island of New Zealand, older holiday homes are called baches (my guess is because husbands were left as bachelors to look after themselves while wives and children enjoyed life at the beach but Wikipedia suggest it is short for bachelor pad. In the South Island they are referred to as cribs.  I don’t know why this is so.

Kiwi bach

Baches and cribs are generally quite basic.  Many have grown like Topsy.   Our next door neighbours, who are also our close friends, have a batch about 75 kms from home and we were invited for the day. The one we visited on Saturday had started life as an army hut and been transported to the beach. Over the years it has been divided into a living room cum kitchen, one bunkroom, a bathroom and a lavatory.  Recently it has had a lean to added giving it a separate dining room, with one side open to the elements.  One can close it up with a plastic screen that rolls up out of the way when not needed.  Life in those seaside areas off the beaten track is very simple.  Children run free and as everyone knows everyone else, nobody has to worry where the children are.

Saturday, dawned bright without any rain and it just happened to be the annual “Boat Day” at that beach.  It is such a long time since I had been in such a simple yet lovely setting that of course we had to walk the 100 or so yards to the riverbank to sit and watch. We saw people of all ages, and all walks of life I guess, simply enjoying themselves.  The river running into the sea made a great place for canoe races.  Single canoes, two person canoes, blow up canoes and even a rowboat were brought into play to win prizes.  There were races for children, races for teenagers and races for anyone and everyone.  What fun that was to see people enjoying the simple pleasures of being with friends and making new ones.

Ready to go 2

A sausage sizzle had been set up on the far bank, accessed over a rickety bridge, and was doing a great trade with sausages slapped between slices of white bread selling for $1.20.  Well children having fun with each other are not gourmands.

To 04.01.14 002

To 04.01.14 019

We however, were treated to a lovely lunch on a table set up under the trees.  A whole smoked salmon, salads and fresh bread washed down with a cold wine were perfect.  Desert of fruit and ice cream was served following which we all vowed we were too full for coffee and Christmas cake.

A;ong the riverbank

Then it was determined that a walk was in order.  We walked over the rickety bridge where fortunately there were no trolls to scare us, onto the bank on the other side of the river.  Most of the competitors had retired for lunch or to change into dry clothes following a dunking in the river.  So we had an uninterrupted stroll along the riverbank down to the sea shore and then over the dunes back to the bach.

Deserted landscape

The area was the scene of fierce fighting between the Maoris (the indigenous people) and the invading British bent on colonising the land and its inhabitants.  In this the British were unsuccessful.

So another lovely summer day came to a close.  Yesterday Sunday,it rained all day here but today has been beautiful.  Tomorrow’s forecast?  Rain in the afternoon so we have to make the most of any lovely day that comes our way.

And now to all my friends in the US who are being buffeted by strong gales and heavy snow falls, my thoughts are with you.  Love and hugs from the other side of the world.

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh?” he whispered.
“Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh