A Shy Smile

22 April ’13

Sunday before last I was given the opportunity to take photographs at the annual IHC picnic organised by the Fitzherbert Lions at the Ashhurst Domain.  This is an event that the Lions Club organise to give the clients a fun day out, and also to give the carers a day to relax and know their charges are well entertained.

The Lovely Man was going to be driving the Fire Engine, giving the ‘guys’ rides around the park – always a hit with everyone, young and old.  He invited me along in my capacity as unofficial “Official Photographer” for the Ashhurst Fire Brigade.  At first I was thrilled, and started thinking of shots I could get.  But once we were in the appliance and heading to the park I began to have doubts.  I am not at my best with strangers in social situations, and the idea of strangers with special needs was beginning to feel daunting.

As soon as we arrived I was adopted by the sweetest little lady.  She kept coming up to me and taking my arm, never saying a word.  But she stroked my arm and nodded that, yes, she would like a ride in the fire engine.  A real sweetheart.

Happy faces

A sweet little lady

Loading people with physical as well and mental disabilities up in to the truck is a bit of a mission, but there were plenty of strong and willing helpers on hand.  The expressions of sheer happiness on the client’s faces when they returned from their rides made all the effort worthwhile.

Fire engine ride


One chap named Micheal seemed painfully shy, I could not get him to look at me for a photo.  The look of sly delight on his face as he climbed down from the fire engine was priceless.

Ride in the fire truck

A Shy Smile

Micheal’s friend was telling me all about how they are fund raising to get to the Special Olympics in Dunedin.  He told me about his flight to Nelson, where he won medals for weightlifting.  The men’s carer told me that this gent is indeed a Continue reading


Any Dream Will Do

19 April “13

Last night the kids and I attended a preview performance of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat at the Regent on Broadway.  That’s Broadway, Palmerston North, New Zealand.  And we really enjoyed it. This was a ‘family and friends’ complimentary performance/final rehearsal type deal, Mum’s in the cast.  (Thanks for the tickets, Mum!)  We are far from a regular theater goers – though each time I see a show I ask myself why we don’t go more often.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat

I always enjoy any excuse to visit the Regent.  I have fond memories of sitting with my school friend and watching movies in the Stalls, with the whole floor to ourselves.  Anne’s Dad was a good friend of the theater manager, back when it used to be a movie theater – we had the Stalls to ourselves because all the other patrons sat in the upstairs Circle seating.  The manager used to tell us the story of the Lady in the Blue Coat who haunted the theater,  a benign figure who had been seen by many people over the years.  All very cool for a pair of teenage  girls.

Since the theater has been restored it is more beautiful than ever. It surely must rival any theater in the country. From the Foyer and the Grand Staircase to the Auditorium it is olde worlde opulence at its very best.   Dear old Palmy has a habit of hiding its light under a bushel, so to speak.  The city has a reputation around the country  for being provincial and rather backward.  In fact we have a thriving and vibrant arts community, if only some of those ‘others’ would bother to come and have a look around.  As a child I recall seeing The Sound of Music, Annie and Chess all at the old Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Change

14 April ’13

Autumnal, it is one of my very favourite words.

I am starting to think the the Weekly Photo Challenge person and I are on the same wavelength.   I’d been thinking about this week’s blog, and decided that I’d write about the change of seasons, the clocks and the weather.

“This week, we want to see photos that represent change. Depending on where in the world you are, this could be a winter landscape blossoming to spring, or vice versa. It could be a picture of a place you’ve left behind and hope never to return to, a photo of a place you hope to reach, or a snapshot of where you currently stand in a journey. Perhaps you’ll capture your child on the cusp of a developmental milestone, or the sun just about to flip the switch between night and day.”  –  Michelle

 I guess the season is changing in the other direction in Michelle’s part of the world.

At 2am last Sunday the clocks changed back to regular time, adding an hour to the day and giving us all a sleep in.  As has happened before,  the weather seemed to take this as a cue to switch to winter mode – or at least autumn.    We stacked fire wood and I was inspired to  make  a crock-pot curry for our dinner, a sure sign that winter’s on its way.

Stacked Fire Wood

Stacked Fire Wood

It has been pleasant to have the fire going in the evenings.

After such a stunning summer the sudden drop in temperature has been a bit of a jolt.  I’ve been wearing jackets to work, and even broke out a merino jersey once or twice.


Winter wardrobe

My fav corduroy jacket,  fine merino jersey and the beautiful
orchid scarf that my brother brought me home  from his trip to Asia.

The recent rain has encouraged the toadstools out of their summer hiding places, they’re popping up all over.

Toadstools on the lawn

Toadstools on the lawn

The Lovely Man and I went foraging for mushrooms this morning, but couldn’t find any on public land that we felt would be right to take.  Those on people’s lawns and in farmer’s paddocks are off-limits.

My spring bulbs are beginning to push their leaves out of the ground and the leaves on the maple trees in the front yard are starting to change colour.

Red maple leaves

Autumn leaves

All in all, much is changing.  Not for the worse or better – just different.   What’s changed in your life recently?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Color

07 April ’13

It must be fate.  I’ve just discovered the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge – this week’s topic is colour (yes, I know I spelt it the American way up there in the title – it has to be like that to match the criteria for the Challenge) and I just happen to have those vibrant chillies sitting in my Bulgarian bowl.

So here’s another shot of the chillies taken on my kitchen table in the last of the afternoon light.  I think they look fabulous.

Green and red chillies


F-stop                        f/5
Exposure time       1/200 sec 
ISO speed                ISO-200
Focal length          50mm

I don’t know if I’ll participate in each Challenge, but this one seemed too serendipitous to ignore.



Autumn’s Bounty

06 April ’13

This season is truly plentiful.

Though I’ve been lamenting the poor crop of tomatoes this year, we’ve been blessed with lots of other goodies. Our strawberries just keep on going, and the courgettes have done well after a slow start.

Strawberries and yellow courgette zucchini

Summer colour

As I’ve written previously, the wild blackberries seem to have had the best season ever.  We collected pots and pots of them, transformed their sweet goodness in to  jams and desserts.  I still have some in the freezer – blackberry gin anyone?

Weighing fruit

Blackberries by the Kilo

While up at Mangaweka last weekend the Lovely Man and I found a patch of blackberries that were still fruiting well.  Lacking anything to stash the berries in we simply stood in the sun and ate our fill.  Yum.  We also discovered that one of the old pear trees, a tiny little thing with a split trunk clinging to the hill side, is utterly laded with the biggest pears I’ve ever seen.  They’re not ripe yet.  I hope Continue reading

Eggs and Bacon

02 April ’13

We’ve spent almost every Easter break for the last 13 years at Mangaweka .  The weather has varied from sunny and warm, crisp and frosty to wet and miserable. But every year, whatever the weather,  there’s always been an egg hunt.  One year the neighbour’s dog came over after the Easter Bunny had set out his eggs and scoffed the lot.  That was not a good year.  Another time there was a map with clues.

Rabbit map

An Easter hunt

And every year the kids have got bigger and bigger.

Egg hunt, Mangaweka

Easter hunt 2008

We wonder… “Are they getting too big for Easter hunts?”  Nah, we’ve always decided.  Besides, the Easter Bunny has loads of fun setting them up.

Egg hunt, Mangaweka

Easter Hunt 2009

This year there were clues framed as riddles leading to locations all over the Continue reading

An anniversary in review

26 March ’13

An attempt at a restaurant review x 2 …

The Lovely Man and I have been married for 21 years.  We decided a dinner out was called for to celebrate this milestone. Our anniversary fell on Thursday, but we already had commitments involving a guitar lesson and a parent/teacher conference.  Friday worked out better all around.

After checking out some menus on line, and tossing up between a restaurant we love and trying some thing new, we settled on the Village Inn Kitchen in the Hokowhitu Village.  We had been to the Village Inn many years ago, but it’s now under new management so figured we should check it out.  Who knows, it could become our new favourite!

Walking across the road toward the restaurant we could here live music.  Turned out it was this guy, Benny Tipene, playing in the courtyard.  Have a listen, he’s really good.

A group of ladies, who turned out to be from Rotorua, appreciated his music. “We don’t have anything like this up there”, one declared.  Somehow that seems unlikely, but I’m sure Benny appreciated the thought.

We were greeted by a friendly waitress who was more than happy for us to sit outside and enjoy the evening with a drink before we sat down to eat.  However she did leave us hanging with out taking our order.  Full of apologies she finally remembered us and brought out dinner menus.  Then a wine list.  Eventually we got our drinks.  My Gewürztraminer was delicious.  (I didn’t note the wine maker at the time, and an attempt to contact the restaurant through their website’s contact form has been unsuccessful.Edit – as luck would have it, four hours after publication I got an answer.  2010 Whitehaven Gewürztraminer – thanks, Lydia)  The Lovely Man opted for a Peroni, the beer we’d discovered and enjoyed in Europe.  Our waitress took our dinner order and left us to enjoy the atmosphere.   It was indeed very pleasant sitting out on the veranda as the sun set on another beautiful Manawatu evening, listening to Benny play his guitar.  We moved indoors when a cool breeze started ruffling the leaves on the trees.

We had our pick of tables, it was a slow night for dinner.  I’d chosen the Prawn Cocktail to start, the Lovely Man just went for a simple bowl of Fries with Aioli.  Our entrées arrived promptly.  I loved the glass that my cocktail was served in. But the dish itself was better.  The tiny prawns were smothered in that pink sauce we all remember from the ’70s,  only better.   It was complemented by a salad dressed to perfection.  The whole thing was gone before I remembered to get a picture.  Which just goes to show that Jem Beedoo is not entirely correct.  The Lovely Man’s fries were crunchy and floury, just as they should be – I had to steal a few to  mop up the remains of the sauce in my cocktail glass.  The portion of fries was too many for one person for an entrée, it really should be offered on the menu as enough for two.

Crunchy chips at Village Inn Kitchen

Crispy fries and aioli

Our mains arrived, again in good time.  However out entrée dishes hadn’t been cleared, so serving them was a little inelegant and  awkward for the waitress.  The Lovely Man had chosen the Strip Loin – he’s a steak man through and through.  It arrived cooked perfectly rare as requested.  He declared it excellent and exactly to his taste, a winner.  The sauce, while tasty was maybe a little Continue reading

The drought is broken!

22 March ’13

Yes, it rained.  A couple of days of good rain, including the longest electrical storm I’ve experienced here in the Manawatu. The lawn is growing again, and even the hills have a tinge of green about them.  But that’s not the drought in question.

On February 22nd, 2011 an earthquake devastated the beautiful city of Christchurch.  In the days that followed we learned that 185 people had lost their lives.  Much of the city’s heritage was destroyed, the lives of so many lay in ruins. It was truly terrible time for the people of Canterbury.  Two years on the healing has begun, the rebuild is underway, but many are still affected.

A year on from the earthquake there was a rumour spread about that we might be running out of that Kiwi breakfast staple, Marmite.  The factory which produces the black gold was damaged in the earthquake and repairs were going to take awhile.  Within days the jars began disappearing from supermarket shelves, celebrities and even the Prime Minister got involved.

Marmageddon was upon us.  We were told production would be underway in July.   The remaining jars, some half used, were hot property.  Many were auctioned off to raise funds for various charities, some fetching incredible prices. The July date rolled past, all kinds of hitches were holding up new stocks.  Our supply ran out 15/07/12.  It was a sad day.


The end

In to the New Year and still no sign of relief.  Many of us had had to subsist on that Australian substitute –  Vegemite.

A few weeks ago word was out that our favourite toast spread was coming back! Continue reading

Food and Culture

19 March ’13

The Festival of Cultures in Palmerston North has been getting bigger and more popular every year.    The “boys” and I headed in to the Square just before midday so we could sample the delicious foods and call it lunch.

The first culture we encountered was the Rosewood Morris dancers, the very same dancers we saw at the Medieval Market in Levin.  They’d roped in a bunch of onlookers and were trying to teach them some moves.

Festival of Cultures

Morris Dancers in the Square

We didn’t see any food on offer though.  I wonder what Morris dancers eat… Bangers and mash?  Yorkshire pud?

We moved on in search of edibles.  We found it in spades.  Cambodian pork fried bread, rice and beef stew from the Philippines,  sticky steamed buns filled with pork and relish.  Oh my gosh, international culinary heaven!

Festival of Cultures

Boys chowing down

A dish of rice, noodles and beans in a tasty red sauce from the Congo was served to us by a lovely lady in a fantastic headdress.

Festival of Cultures

A lady of the Congo

Now in search of drink to wash it all down with we shunned the overpriced cans of fizz and went for a delicious and refreshing cup of homemade lemonade. Perfect.

While that we’d been sampling these tasty treats all manner of people in costume and customary dress had been wandering about.  These girls in bright dresses Continue reading

Lantern Parade

16 March ’13

For the last few years the Palmerston Festival of Cultures has kicked off with a community Lantern Parade.  We went as a family a couple of years ago – I don’t know why we didn’t attend last year, we must have had something else on that weekend.

There are many different beliefs about the origin of lantern festivals, however, it is likely to have had something to do with celebrating and cultivating positive relationships between people, families, nature and the higher beings that were believed to be responsible for bringing or returning the light each year.

Billy (with a bit of persuasion – it’s hard to prize him away from a ‘screen’ sometimes)  came with me to check out this year’s parade.

It’s the Chinese Year of the Snake, so the parade was lead by a fabulous snake lantern named Gerald.  Not a very Chinese name, but I guess he is a Kiwi snake.

Lantern Parade

Gerald the Snake Lantern

Amongst the community lanterns that followed Gerald were the zodiac lanterns from the previous years.  I’d love to know where these fabulous paper creations Continue reading