When in Rome…

July ’13

Last weekend I took Billy the Kid and Cat to see the Roman Machines exhibition at Te Manawa.  Billy has been a huge fan of Roman militaria for many years.

When we arrived we discovered that the statue of Charles Monro outside the museum had been “Yarn Bombed”.  He’s dressed as a Roman Gladiator – in pink!

Charles John Monro

Charles John Monro

We found the Machines easily enough – but got distracted by a Roman game laid out to try in the entranceway.  It’s a game very like noughts and crosses, only the grid is bigger and it’s played with counters (in this case gray and white stones).  The kids had fun playing a round.

Board game

Roman Noughts and Crosses

I note that the basket holding the counters looks rather less Roman, and more like an object from closer to home….

Admit One

Roman Machine @ TeManawa

After the game we moved on and bought our tickets.  There were several other families already checking out clever wonders of the Roman era.  The exhibition has a range of scale model replicas of the devices that the Romans invented, many of which are still used to this day.  Cranes and catapults, water pumps and pulleys – all fully interactive.  There’s a scale replica of the form used to build stone arches.  Billy and Cat had a go at building an archway, carefully placing the keystone at the top.

Roman stonework

Building an arch

Each part of the exhibition is accompanied by interesting details that tie it back Continue reading

Mid-winter feasting

12 July ’13

Mid-winter –  a time to hunker down and keep out of the weather.

There is not much going on at this time of year, at least not much that we want to brave the weather for. And not much to blog about.  I’ve been spending weekend afternoons trying out new recipes.  We’ve enjoyed golden syrup dumplings, creamy leek and chicken pie, a delicious bacon and pumpkin pasta, and a melt-in-the-mouth  lamb curry.  Winter is the time for the comforts of home and comfort food.

Bird on a branch

Wax-eye in the kiwifruit canes

Last weekend we made what’s going to be one of our last visits to Trev’s place at Mangaweka.  While we were there we noticed a flock of wax-eyes enjoying a little mid-winter feast of their own in the kiwifruit canes.

Bird eating fruit

Wax-eye feasting

Space to Escape

14 June ’13

Last Sunday afternoon, Cat, Gran and I drove up the Pohangina Valley to check out the exhibition of  local artist, Jill Walcroft. I didn’t take my camera with me, so no photos in this post.

We’d driven up to County Fayre the previous Monday, Queen’s Birthday, in the hope of seeing the exhibition.  But sadly there had been some miscommunication between the venue and the person who organised the advertising – they’re not open public holidays.  It didn’t matter, it’s a lovely drive.  Especially at this time of year with the last of the autumn leaves still clinging to the trees.

This time we arrived to find several other patrons enjoying the afternoon tea on offer at the cafe, and Jill herself was there to great us.  She introduced us to her exhibition, Space to Escape.   Jill’s paintings range from flower mandala and  landscapes, to floral depictions and portraits.  Sales are going well, with about half the paintings already sold – a great result so far.

Jill Walcroft - Artist

Space to Escape

The painting that’s depicted on the flyer is my favourite, I like it very much.  In fact, if it weren’t for the fact that the colours in the painting would clash with the decor in my living room, I think I’d convince the Lovely Man that we should buy it!

While we were there we had a look at the historical photographs and maps that decorate the walls of the cafe.  I love old maps, it was fun trying to figure out what has changed up the valley in the hundred years since the maps where printed.  We indulged in a Devonshire tea – perfect fluffy scones with jam and cream. Delish!

The exhibition runs until the end of June – take the drive up to County Fayre and have a look – you’ll be pleased you did.

No mere trifle

5 June ’13

The Lovely Man and I were just chillin’, watching Food TV a few nights ago. A TV celebrity was cooking his grandmother’s recipe for trifle, complete with a real egg custard.  It occurred to me that I’ve never actually made a trifle.  It’s the kind of dish that only gets made for special occasions, and someone’s Nana or Aunty ‘always makes the trifle’.  So “why don’t you make one,” says the Lovely Man (his Mum ‘always made the trifle’, it had a reputation for getting more and more Sherry-logged each year).  Challenge accepted!

I wasn’t willing to take on the home made egg custard, so my version has Edmond’s Custard Powder custard.  I had the general idea of what goes in to a trifle.  I know that there’s a debate over whether a trifle should contain jelly, I’m in the ‘yes,please’ camp.  Traditionally trifles also contain sherry, but as the kids were going to be eating this one I went with the fruit-juice-only option.

I keep most of the ingredients in my store cupboard.

Jelly, Peaches and custard

Store cupboard staples

I bought a bottle of cream for whipping, and had to get Mum to bring out a sponge cake from town as there were none to be had in Ashhurst.  I layered up the sponge, fruit, jelly and custard in a heavy glass bowl, then left if to set in the fridge.  It has to be a glass bowl so you can see all the lovely layers.


Jelly and Fruit Trifle

Just before serving I topped the dessert off with lashings of whipped cream, then dusted with… Milo!  Only because I didn’t have any chocolate.


Trifle with cream

It was so good, we polished off the whole lot.  And I still have half the sponge cake in freezer for next time.

Lisa’s Jelly Trifle

Unfilled plain sponge cake
2 cans of sliced peaches
Tropical flavoured jelly
600ml custard
Whipped cream and sprinkles
Large glass serving bowl

Make up the pack of jelly to two cups.  Allow to cool and just start to set.  Make up the custard (I use 2 generous tablespoons of custard powder, 6 tspn sugar with 600ml of milk) and allow to cool.  Cut in to pieces  sufficient sponge to make two layers in your bowl.  Line the bottom of the bowl with one layer of sponge then arrange the slices of peach from one can on top of the sponge. Drizzle with a small amount of syrup from the can.  Pour half (1 cup) of the jelly over the peaches, carefully spoon half the custard over this.  Repeat the layers.  Place the bowl of trifle in the fridge to set.   When ready to serve, top off with whipped cream and decorate with sprinkles (Milo, or shaved chocolate).

Your body is a machine!

31 May ’13

I put my hand up to help out with transport for Billy’s class to go to an exhibition at Te Manawa.  Body in Action is a fabulous, educational exhibit that teaches kids how our amazing bodies work.

Palmerston North Museum

Room 1 at Te Manawa

First stop, after the obligatory photo on the museum sign, was the classroom. Here Barbara, with the help of Vanessa, demonstrated how food is processed through our digestive system.  I have to say that bread and tinned spaghetti looks pretty gross once it’s been mashed with “saliva”, whizzed with “stomach acid” and “bile” then squeezed out through a stocking “large intestine”.

Te Manawa Classroom

Barbara and Vanessa “digesting” spaghetti on toast

It was all too much for poor Gabby, who had to leave the room.

Next we all trouped up stairs to the “Body in Action” exhibit.  The kids had fun testing their sprinting skills, playing ‘guess that smell!’, working out puzzles and trying to ring the bell on the hammer game.

Te Manawa

Sprinting to beat the clock

My group of boys had a game of Gut Run.  Doesn’t that sound delightful!?  It’s a dice game through the digestive system, complete with gurgling and farting sounds.  Just perfect for boys.

Te Manawa

Gut Run

To win, one must pass out through The End.  Of Course.

It’s a fun, interactive and educational exhibit, thanks Te Manawa for bringing it back to Palmy.  Spending a morning with Ashhurst School’s Room 1 was a pleasure, and it beats working.

The Boys are Back… again.

23 May ’13

It’s rugby season again.  So in to town we went on Saturday with Grandad Trev in tow and umbrellas at the ready.


A new season, a new team

Jake was almost busting at the seams to get back on the field, the boy really loves his rugby.  Last year, his first year playing for Boys’ High, Jake’s team won their first game of the season.   Sadly his team didn’t win this time.

High School Rugby

PNBHS Chiefs vs Blues – That’s Jake with the ball

But the boys had a great time all the same.  I love photographing these games –  the action, the facial expressions, the moments of agony and triumph – all priceless.

Jake and our neighbour, Paddy, have been playing in the same team for years, since they were little tykes at primary school.

Ashhurst Rugby - Turboman!

Ashhurst Rugby – Turboman!

 Jacob’s second from the left at the back, and Paddy has the ball.   Aren’t they adorable?!

Jake had his growth spurt ahead of Paddy, so now Jake’s the lifter and Paddy’s the liftee (I may be making up words here).


Lifters and liftees

This is an example of what happens when two Boys’ High teams meet – one side has to turn their shirts inside out.  This time around it was our guys who played ‘white’.  It’s a step up from playing ‘shirts and skins’.

Well done to the Blues, they deserved their 14-5 win.

Rugby handshake

“Cheer mate! Cheers mate! Cheers mate!”

Watch out, Blues – it’ll be our turn next time!

Under the Bridges

15 May ’13

I’ve been “collecting”  rural graffiti.  The urban stuff just seemed too easy, so I set myself a challenge to find and record the spray-can art in the countryside.  Some I posted in Peace, Love and Vegetable Rights.

On Saturday the Lovely Man and I went for a wander down at the Manawatu River bridge, I took my camera.  Underneath the bridge there’s quite a collection of art works.

Ashhurst Bridge Graffiti


Some of it is so uplifting….

Graffiti under  Ashhurst bridge


Maybe a young person can translate….?

Graffiti Ashhurst Bridge


Is that a mushroom on the end?

A few month’s ago, the day we spent at Feilding Steam Traction Society‘s open day, I gathered a few more images.  These two are under the bridge at Menzies Ford on Colyton Road.

Graffiti at Menzies Ford

Heart CV

It’s not often that you see such an anatomically correct heart pierced with arrows.  I wonder if the heart-shaped letters that make up the “CV” are a reflection of the real-to-life heart below.

This one’s my favourite from under the Ashhurst bridge.

Ashhurst Bridge

Rural Graffiti

I’m not sure what it says – but I like it.  I love the sparkles, and especially like that the artist has painted on the ‘runs’ that we’re used to seeing on old-school graffiti.  Has the quality of paint and spray cans improved so that it doesn’t run any more?

This is an on-going project.  I’ll post more of my finds at a later date.

ANZAC Air Show 2013

04 May ’13

Last weekend, almost on the spur of the moment, the Lovely Man, Jacob and I attended an air show.  I’d seen it advertised a few days before, we had no other plans so figured “Why not?”  It was the Vintage Aviator‘s ANZAC show, held at Hood Aerodrome in Masterton.

Saturday morning at home was very windy, so we had doubts as to whether the air show would go on – little planes made of wood and cloth surely can’t fly in a howling gale.  From the Vintage Aviator’s website:-

“Our primary aim is to build WW1 aircraft, engines and propellers to the same exacting standards they were originally made over 90 years ago.”

We kept checking the show’s info line, but it seemed they’d forgotten to update it past the 12 o’clock “assessment of the wind” schedule.  So we decided we’d head on over, if nothing else it would be a pleasant drive.  Amazingly as we headed south down the eastern side of the Ranges the wind slowed and dropped away, it looked good for flying.

I enjoy air shows.  I’m not a plane fanatic or a petrol head, but I love the challenges that photographing planes in flight bring.  It seems to me that I’ve been attending air shows and taking photos of planes for as long as I’ve owned a camera.  Here’s one I found that I took with a little Kodak Instamatic in 1987.

Aerobatic plane

Ohakea Air Show 1987

Twenty five years on, same air field,  and the same plane to0, I suppose.

Air show

RNZAF 75th Anniversary Air Show, Ohakea, 2012

 There’s something awe inspiring about the roar of powerful engines skillfully controlled by the clever men and women who fly them.

Of course I wasn’t expecting so much of the powerful engines from WW1 planes.  We arrived in good time, so had a look around the planes parked on the grass.


One thing I noticed, if you want to see an array of  heavy duty cameras with big lenses, head to an air show.  Man, was there some fire power hung around the necks of a lot of people!

Once the show got going we were treated to a display of precision flying as pilots Continue reading

The Power of Words

29 April ’13

This is my one hundredth post.  When I set out to complete my ‘Fifty-Two’ project at the beginning of 2011 I did not expect to keep on going past the end of that year.  But here I am.  Though this blog started out as a photography project, it has evolved towards my other love, writing.

Last week I read a blog post by a young man in Romania.  The fact that he’s from Constanta caught my eye – we visited the city last year.  It was this connection that prompted my to read his blog (there are so many, you could spend your life reading blogs without any effort at all).  Cristian’s post was on the subject of writing, why writers do what they do.   He mentioned that as a teenager he wanted only to write, and that school and homework got in the way. I guess I was lucky in that the assignments I was set in English class at school fulfilled that desire for me.  Thinking back I realise that I have always been a writer.  That’s a rather difficult thing to admit.  It seems presumptuous.

Book title


My first memory that I have of a particular piece of creative writing was a poem about a rabbit who lived in a cage, all moldy with age.  I think I was about eight years old,  I remember being ever so proud of that rhyme.

We used to go an our annual family vacation in the May school holidays.  For years I wrote a daily journal on our trips, and illustrated each page with a drawing.  The journals may be around some where, I should see if I can find them.  This habit, started when I was young, has followed me on two European trips.  These holidays have been logged in a number of notebooks, so we have both our photographs and my words to remind us of our travels.

 When I was about twelve I wrote a poem about dinosaurs.  I showed the poem to my teacher, and he thought it was rather good.  He asked me if he could show it to the newspaper and see if they would publish it.  I thought this would be OK, so I gave him my handwritten poem – the only copy.  As I recall this happened on the last day of school for the year, it may have been my last day at Waitohi School before I left for high school.  I never saw the poem again.

Word collage

Once I got to high school I wrote more – English class provided the perfect outlet.  I think it was in my Sixth Form year that we were set a major writing assignment.  I remember taking my notebook and pen, heading out over the farm and writing under the pine trees by the damn.  I drew inspiration from the sound of the wind in the trees, the smell of pine, the reflections on the water, the dank undergrowth and the birds.

Years later I started writing a children’s story, Belle’s Birthday.  I wrote it out Continue reading

As we that are left grow old

26 April ’13

25th April, ANZAC Day,
the day that New Zealanders and Australians
remember and commemorate those men
and women who have made sacrifices in war.


“Somewhere between the landing at ANZAC (cove) and the end of the battle of the Somme, New Zealand definitely became a nation.”

– Ormond Burtons, stretcher bearer and infantryman

As the years have passed, so too have the survivors of those first battles, the original ANZACs.  But their spirit, the values that those survivors brought home with them are to be admired and passed on to the following generations.


On ANZAC Day we recite the Ode of Remembrance, watch the flag lowered to half mast to the Last Post and raised again to Reveille, sing hymns and anthems, lay wreaths.  We remember.

Cemetery rememberance service

ANZAC Service, Pohangina

Sharing these ceremonies in the company of hundreds of members of our community, including our children in the commemorations is all a part of keeping that ANZAC spirit alive.

Many children and young people attended and were involved in this year’s services.


Laying wreaths at the memorial in Ashhurst

Jacob recently joined the Palmerston North Cadet Unit, the Cadets participated in a number of services around the region this year.  They marched and layed Continue reading