'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.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Big centipede

Here's one of the baby forty-two-ipedes we found when moving the pile of old fence palings.

And here's the big forty-two-ipede, just before N. whipped her fingers away -man, it moved fast!

Off it goes, down the crack.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Studio in the back garden.

Yay!  The kitset garden room stuff has been delivered!


Over the next few weeks I'm going to be putting the above bits and pieces together to make something that hopefully will look something like this:

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Self-crusting quiche

Movie night tomorrow and so we'd have some left over for the weekend, N and I have made a double recipe of the versatile self-crusting quiche.  The recipe is entitled 'Courgette Quiche', but my children know we can put almost any vegetable grated in it, and it's great.  This time we made it with carrots and sliced in six of those leftover breakfast sausages and some baked potatoes...

Here, in case I ever burn the house down and lose all my precious recipes, is it as Patricia gave it to me.

Courgette Quiche
370 gms courgette* - grated
1 cup cheese - grated
1 onion - grated (or if you cry a lot, you can chop it finely and cook gently in a little water - cool before using)
Chopped ham, salami, bacon - 2 tablespoons more or less
(If vegetarian use TVP pieces)
salt and pepper
Combine the above all together.

1/2 cup oil and 5 eggs beaten together
add to above.  
This mixture can sog in the fridge for a day if you wish.
Add 1 cup of flour and 1 tsp baking powder to the above and mix and put straight into a greased quiche dish and into the oven 180ºC for 25 - 30 -35 -40 minutes.

*Grated carrot, parsnip or whatever can be substituted providing no more than 370 gms (about 1  1/2 cups).

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Recipe for happiness.

Walk in front door after being away all day.  Take one dancing dog.  Tip it upside down.  Scratch tummy.  Watch its eyes glaze over in joy.  

Monday, 25 May 2009

Making a kiln

Today we went up into the hills above Tauranga and 

dug terra cotta clay from a bank,

dug sand from the banks of a stream,

 mixed the two together about half and half, pressed the mix into molds

and made bricks 
with which we will make a kiln 
in which we will fire our clay objects!

Sunday, 24 May 2009


Last week we made figurines.  We've been learning the basics of coiling, have made mugs and tiles, and now it's been time to make something more challenging.  I made this king and queen, and it's been odd but they've been 'talking' to me while sitting on my desk.
I know this:  The kingdom is in a bad shape, he is crabby with gout and easily persuaded by his wife, she is manipulative and scheming, and the commoners are not far off storming the castle with pitchforks...

When I made them, I'd no idea they would have so much to say.  How surprising!

Saturday, 23 May 2009


We've finished with the sun here in New Zealand for the day...  time to pass it on.  This is what the sky looked like as the sun was leaving us about an hour ago, looking east:

..and west:

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Constable country

From St Mary Church in East Bergholt,  we walked along a road, down a woodland path, over a bridge and through truly familiar 'Constable country' following the Stour - a hand-dug river with a couple of locks, one of which is here at Flatford where John Constable did a number of his paintings.  

The lock at Flatford

Willie Lott's Cottage - now the Constable Museum.

We saw the lock, and the place where the dry dock used to be, also Flatford Mill and Willie Lott's cottage which now houses a museum to the painter.


Rowing on the Stour.

John treated us to a row up and down the river in a little boat aptly named the "Dot" ...

then we had a picnic lunch under a tree.  

Dot and the steers

Poor Dorothy is not very comfortable around cattle and needed rescuing on the way back from taking Oliver to the loo, as they (the animals) had all boldly wandered over to the picnicking side of the field.  I must say, I've never seen such fat steers! 

 Constable's shop

 N. had her first English ice cream of the trip from the village shop in Bergholt, near the tiny building where Constable had his shop (and  just down the road from the  church where John and Dot were married).

Then we were off home to get the clothes off the line and have curry for dinner.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Crécy Soup for a cooler day.

One of our favourite soups is Crécy 

It's an interesting soup.  When I serve it, many people don't know what vegetable it is.  It has a delicate flavour, not 'carroty' at all.  It pays to make a lot because people often come back for seconds.  Sometimes we've had it for tea with grated cheese melted on top.  When I was on the farm and we had a huge vegetable garden, I grew so many carrots we didn't eat them all, and some grew to be huge, strong monsters over the winter.  In they went, into the crécy, and the flavour was just as mild, sweet and hard to pin down as always.  Once, one carrot fed all five of us!

Below is how the soup recipe appears in my book.  I'll record it here because it's one of our family's favourites.  So it's here for posterity then.

Grate about 1/2 kg (1 lb) of carrots and two large potatoes into a pan with some melted butter.  Add a couple of chopped onions and let the mixture sweat for a few minutes until the vegetables have started to 'melt'.
Then add a litre of good chicken stock, salt and freshly ground white pepper and allow to simmer slowly for about an hour.  Then pass it through a mouli or whip in an electric blender.

Serve with freshly chopped parsley or chervil.
You can also add a nice big knob of butter just before serving and swirl it around.
We especially like it with a sprinkling of freshly-popped pumpkin kernels on top and some grated sharp (tasty) cheddar cheese.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

A walk around the Mount.

NB All these photos look much better embiggerated.  You just click on them.

A popular activity around here is a walk 'around the Mount'.  It's pretty, doesn't take long (3/4 of an  hour), it's accessible and safe, with just enough interest and beauty to please everyone from zero to incontinent.  We can walk on a hot day, as it's shady, and even on a drizzly day because it's mostly under trees.  It can be dazzlingly gorgeous when the Pohutakawa (Po-hoo-ta-kar-wa) are in bloom, or there's a big swell after a storm and the waves seem determined to dash themselves to pieces on the rocks.  Birdlife abounds and is surprisingly tame, despite this reserve being at the end of an urban peninsula.  Sun or shine, there's always something different to see.

Many people who live on the Mount Maunganui peninsula walk or run it daily, and it's a popular second date for those meeting online.*

So, have I convinced you?  Shall we go for a 'Walk Around the Mount?'

First, as my father was a cartographer, and I like to Locate myself, and assume you might like to too, let's have a look at the map:

This is Pilot bay - the internal side of the isthmus at the base of the Mount, and the lights of the port are still glowing as I park the car.  That container vessel is getting up smoke, and the tide is high - so she will soon be heading out of the narrow harbour entrance between Mount Maunganui (Mong-ga-noo-ee) and Matakana Island.  The big vessels can't get in and out without a reasonable depth of water.

We walk between the high-rise apartments and the lower slopes of Mauao (The Maori name for Mt Manganui) towards the ocean side of the isthmus.  There used to be a little pub here on the corner, where this apartment is now, and I did a drawing of it when I heard it was to be demolished.

A tanker is waiting its turn to go through the narrows as the sun inches up.

We climb the track through the pohutakawas.

The hard, black volcanic debris down on the shore is still contorted and sharp, showing little erosion despite the action of sand and surf for thousands of years.

Looking back along the track, we can see the high-rise and Mt Drury.

A fantail flips and squeaks close to walkers, eating the tiny bugs their passing disturbs.  Can you see it?  It is well camouflaged.

That tanker has come through the gap between the Mount and Matakana Island:

The walkers are out!  Here's some determined power-walking women who have overtaken us: 

Imagine these waves four times the size; this is an exciting walk when the spray splashes over the path!

Fishing boats get an early start on the day.  And an early fisherman has already caught something straight off the rocks.

A pheasant nonchalantly strolls four paces from my path.  No dogs are allowed on this track, and any cats spilling over from the urban area are probably caught in the traps set for possums, so the birds are quite unafraid here.

Past the half-way point, there is a little sandy bay.  In the distance you can see the port's container cranes looking like odd giraffes.  This is Pilot Bay again.

And there are herring gulls, and shags and a quartet of oyster-catchers with their strong, brilliant scarlet beaks:

This part of the track looks like it has been transported through another dimension and has appeared from England somewhere...

Back at Pilot Bay, another fisherman waits for a nibble.  The sun has disappeared into a band of low cloud to remind me it really isn't summer any more.  Time to get home and have some breakfast!

Last images to show where we went.  Next time to the top?

* And I should know :-)