'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

Go here to find out more.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Home Again

 ... And it's jolly cold in the house, but my bed felt just right, the way I like it, and the shower water was deliciously hot after just one night of heating.
However the leaves have not, contrary to hopes, blown themselves away. The good news is, the sun is shining and my back is strong and my arms are raring to go! 

Thursday, 21 May 2015

A Morning Glory by any other Name

When I was young I stayed with my Russian grandmother.  It was for a fairly extended time as my mother was in hospital, and I would like to say I got to  know her quite well, but, well, that's a story for another post. She did show me affection in many ways, and probably as much as she showed affection for anyone, it was just that she came with her own story and background and was probably constrained in the feeling and showing of love because of that.
Anyway, the post today is more about her huge vegetable garden, which was really HUGE. It would have amazed you to think that such a small, thin, little old 'first wave' white émigré woman could ever have kept up with the area and grown quite so much as she did.  And I'm not even including the peaches and plum trees in her front garden.
I don't recall much of what she grew, not being old enough at 4 to be particularly interested, but I do remember the artichokes - huge thistles taller than me - which she told me in a rather off-hand way she didn't really know why she grew, as she didn't like to eat them herself but merely gave them away.
Behind the vast artichoke bed and growing against the back of the garage, was a vine covered with leaves shaped like hearts and the most flimsy, large, breath-takingly beautiful, purple-blue flowers.  I remember asking her if some part of them could be eaten and she snorted and said it was just a weed which she hated, and it was called convolvulous.  I later came to know it as Morning Glory, for its habit of opening its glorious flowers to the sun every morning.  It's also called bindweed elsewhere.
Unfortunately like many plants brought here to the mild climate in New Zealand, it really does far too well, and it rather a pest.
I still think it is one of the very best colours, however.
Here it is on one of our walks completely covering a wire fence.

Behind the fence is a large pond with lots of swallows and a number of ducks
that think they are safe from the May duck-shooters.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Thornton Beach

Maddie and I are just back from watching the sun rise while having a pleasant stroll on the beach.  Or in the case of Maddie, a sniff and a trot.
There were lots of different sponges and weeds and shells in the tideline, and a generous abundance of pieces of rounded pumice - the aerated, glassy, floating rock that almost certainly came from White island, New Zealand's most active volcano not far offshore. On one of these images you can see it with its plume of steam. Up until 1914 they mined sulphur off it, but in that year a lahar killed all 10 workers, so mining was sensibly given up.  These days you can have a guided tour but landing on  the island without permission is illegal, and also possibly foolish*.

A couple of oystercatchers wait for the warmth.
There's steamy White Island (Whakaari)  to the left of Whale Island (Motuhora).
White Island/Whakaari is actually about three times the size.

The classic gull, island and sun shot. 

cashew brittle - mmm, my favourite.

Off out of the river mouth to do a spot of fishing.
*Although exciting and very interesting, according to a member of my family.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Walking along the Race

'Races' is what NZ dairy (cow) farmers call farm tracks.  They are often carefully maintained and  feed to as many of the paddocks as possible, as the cows must walk along them four times a day on their way to and from milking.
The last two days the dogs and I have been taking our constitutional along the neighbour's races.

Photo for John.  A new immigrant I knew, initially thought NZ trees were a special type that grew flat along their lower edges.

Sun down tonight. Click to enlarge to get the full flavour.

Sunday, 17 May 2015


Two views, quite different, taken within one hundred steps of this farmhouse on the Rangitaiki (Rang-ee-tie-key) Plains on the Bay of Plenty (bay-of-plen-tee).  



Saturday, 16 May 2015


Why does it always seem more fun to do chores at someone else's place?

Friday, 15 May 2015

Between Rainstorms

Yesterday there were floods in Wellington, a small tornado (which removed about a third of the roof off the stadium), and torrential rains in Tauranga.  Here, it persisted it down all night and this afternoon. But there was a convenient break at dawn to allow the dogs and I our usual walk.  Everything was freshly washed and clean, albeit rather soggy.

And one of the trees took advantage of the winds to divest itself of its last leaves.