Welcome, nau mai, haere mai!
Come on in and stay a little while. . . you never know what you might find!

Monday, June 16, 2014


Well, that was a much longer "intermission" than I planned! But somehow, before you know it a week turns into a month and a month turns into a year... and here I am 18 months after my last blog post!

As you can probably guess, a lot has happened while I've been "away". Far too much to cover in any detail. By far the biggest change has been trying to get used to our new way of being without my "NZ Mum" as an almost daily part of our lives. It's still hard to accept that she has become "history", just a photo on the wall since her sudden death in November 2012. I think of her often, and frequently catch myself wondering "What would 'Nagymama' think?"

Other than that, the major change has been that I resigned from my Speech-Language Therapy job, effective in early February this year. Five days after my last day at work, I started studying Early Childhood Teaching - a "Graduate Diploma" via distance learning at Canterbury University. What a joy it has been to meet the others on my course at our regular "On-site intensives" at the university in Christchurch - such a diverse group of people. I've surprised myself with how easy it has been to slip back into full-time studying and I'm loving the intellectual challenge, even enjoying writing essays! Whilst I was in Christchurch studying in February, I finally delivered the 1000 paper cranes I started folding in 2011 after the fatal Christchurch earthquakes, and so many of you out there helped fold paper cranes for this project too. So I'm proud to say that our 1000 paper cranes formed part of the 3rd anniversary commemorations of the Canterbury earthquakes. Link to my original post re 1000 Paper Cranes.

The completed 1000 paper cranes just before handing over...
Another exciting thing for our family was our incredible round-the-world trip in December 2013/January 2014. We set off from NZ a week before Christmas and spent several days in Washington DC and then caught a train to New York for another few days. We flew from New York to London, arriving on Christmas Eve. After an unpleasant journey in a jam-packed train (standing room only) we made it to our family in Somerset late on Christmas Eve. We had a fantastic family Christmas, including spending time with my lovely 97 year old Grandad, both my parents, brother, nephew and niece. After a few weeks in the UK catching up with family and friends, we took a trip on the EuroStar train to Paris, and spent a wonderful few days exploring Paris from the sanctuary of our historic apartment in Les Chatelets. A couple of days in London, and then we came back home again via Tokyo. On our day trip to Mt Fuji from Tokyo, Sonny Jim finally got the snow he had been longing for all winter.

What a trip!

Anyway, I hope to update the blog again a bit more regularly from now on. I've really missed the pleasure of regular (non-academic!) writing... "Talk" soon :-)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Love. . . My NZ Mum

Survivors' Lap of the Cancer Society Relay for Life, March 2012

My feisty, funny and beautiful mother-in-law died last Wednesday after heart surgery. We were told the mortality risk was approximately 10%, but she never regained consciousness. Her body just couldn't take it. I guess we all want to imagine that OUR loved ones will end up in the lucky 90%.

We had a service on Saturday to celebrate her life, and it ended up with us laughing as much as crying :) I spoke in front of everyone, telling tales of funny things she got up to, and how much she meant to me. So much more than a mother-in-law, more like my NZ mum, as all my family live in the UK. Though it was difficult to make it through what I had to say, it had the desired effect of  giving everyone a good laugh remembering what a wonderful woman she was. My heartbroken yet brave son also spoke, and I am so incredibly proud of him for being so gutsy, articulate and compassionate all rolled into one amazing boy.

This morning (Monday) the same thought kept going round in my head all the time "The last time I had Monday, I had you."  

Certainly not great poetry, but it got that phrase out of my system! 

The last time I had Monday, I had you

The last time I had Monday, I had you . . .
And yet it seems so strange we never knew.
You hugged me tight and cried to say goodbye
And somehow now I wonder did you know?

Of course you couldn’t KNOW
But maybe you could tell,
Percentages are just a downright lie.
For each of us will either
Live or die.

The last time I had Monday, I had you . . .
And everything I ever thought I knew
Since then has turned to dust along with you.

The only thing remaining is the truth . . .
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata.
He aroha, he aroha, he aroha.
‘Tis people and ‘tis love!
This really is enough.

The last time I had Monday, I had you . . .
And now I realise
In my heart,
Within me
I still

Arohanui . . . xxxxxxx

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Knit. . . Honey Cowl, Rainbow Bird socks and a few other things

Well, it's been months since I updated this blog. I foolishly decided I wanted to get my Project 41 photo-a-day blog up-to-date first and it has apparently taken me 5 months to catch up with myself! But this afternoon I have finally done it and Project 41 is up-to-the-minute.

Which brings me to my much-neglected but still very much loved Eat, Knit, Love. Five months wait for a "Knit" post, so you can imagine I have heaps to share! I will just highlight a few projects and for the rest you will just have to go and find me on www.ravelry.com if you really want to know :)

The things I have worn most this winter have been my two Honey Cowls, one in vintage green merino and one in variegated brown Malbrigo Rios yarn. I confess the Malabrigo one (at the top of the page) totally stole my heart and I have hardly worn anything else around my neck all winter. It even works with one loop around the neck and one over the head for a makeshift scarf/hat combo! Who knew a cowl could be so useful and versatile?!

I ended up ripping back my Rainbow Bird socks ("Nightingale" pattern by Vintage Purls) to make them a more wearable length for me. I finally finished them on 25th April, after more than a year on the needles! They are being kept in pristine condition until the A&P Show in November and then I will get to wear them at last during winter 2013.

I got several gifts knitted, including a revamped pair of Musica mitts, some sideways gloves, a Haruni shawl, some fingerless gloves, not one but TWO dog jackets for the same hypothermic canine belonging to friends of ours, and a handspun Milo vest. The Haruni Shawl was one of my entries in the 2012 Ravellenic Games (a knitting event running alongside the Olympic Games.)  

In between the gift knitting I also completed three cardigans for me. . . and one of those was for the Ravellenic Games too. . . a Goodale by Cecily Glowik McDonald, using Vintage Purls Max yarn in a colourway named "Kizzy".

That's a brief whizz through some of what I have been knitting in the last few months. . . More regular updates from now on hopefully!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Eat. . . Anzac biscuits

Anzac Day commemorates the landing of the Australian and New Zealand (ANZAC) troops at Gallipoli on 25th April 1915. Anzac biscuits were baked across Australia and New Zealand and sent to the troops overseas during World War 1. They keep very well in an airtight tin or box, and use golden syrup to bind them rather than egg, as eggs were so scarce during the war years. See this webpage for more information (and an almost identical recipe!)

Nearly every year, as well as attending the local Anzac Parade I make a batch of Anzac biscuits to celebrate Anzac Day. I always use the recipe I was given on my first trip to Australia back in 1993, when I got my first taste of Anzac biscuits. There are lots of different versions, but these ones have worked well for me for years, and I hope you find the same.

Anzac Biscuits

1 cup rolled oats
1 cup plain flour
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup desiccated coconut
125 g butter (substitute margarine at your peril!)
2 tblsps golden syrup
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tblsp boiling water

Combine oats, sifted flour, sugar and coconut in a big bowl. Melt butter and syrup in saucepan. Mix bicarb of soda with boiling water, add to melted butter mixture and stir this into dry ingredients. Mix well.  Add a tiny bit more water if the mixture is too dry to stick together. Place a little more than teaspoon amounts on a greased tray. Allow room for spreading. Bake in slow oven (150C) for 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

PS It is important to use actual butter rather than margarine for these biscuits, as butter will give a good firm crunchy biscuit when cooled. Margarine gives a rather soft result, but I suppose some people like it that way?!

Pipe band lead Mapua Anzac Parade 2012

Some of the crowd at the Mapua Anzac service 2012

Two old soldiers lay a wreath on behalf of the Moutere Hills RSA

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Love. . . Hot air ballooning

Yes, we finally got airborne with Up, Up and Away on Saturday 7th April, and views like this sunrise were our reward! Hot air ballooning was amazing, an incredible experience and I am so glad we persevered through our 5 previous (failed) attempts to be "6th time lucky!"

The balloon was absolutely vast, and it took almost an hour to inflate it. . .

It is the second largest balloon in New Zealand, with a weight of 380 kg and it inflates to 340,000 cubic feet!
The balloon was made back in the city of my birth - Bristol, by renowned hot air balloon manufacturers Cameron Balloons "the world's most experienced balloon manufacturers."

The views were outstanding. . .

I was a wee bit nervous about the landing, but in the end it was pretty uneventful. The trouble is, hot air balloons don't have landing gear (!!) and once the basket hits the deck the balloon tends to keep going, dragging the basket with it. So the basket often tips right over and you land on your back! Brace position essential! However, we ended up only teetering on the diagonal for a while before the basket righted itself again, and as we dangled there diagonally we all burst out laughing. I certainly never expected the landing to be so funny! The next job was to fold the balloon back up again. . .

and then get the balloon and basket back onto the trailer again. . .

Finally we had the traditional champagne (or Fresh-up!) breakfast, and got anointed on our foreheads by the pilot with a cork dipped in champagne, as he recited the hot air balloonist's blessing!

So, if you ever get the chance to go hot air ballooning, I highly recommend it! It has been a dream of mine since childhood, and I can definitely say it was well worth the wait :) Apart from the necessary blasts of the gas burner, it is such a peaceful sensation, floating quietly along above the scenery, and certainly an experience I will remember for a very long time!

Photo copyright "Up, Up and Away"

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Thought for Thursday. . . This is not how the story is going to end!

With thanks to "Daily Vitamins for the Soul" (Facebook feed.)

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Knit. . . Fingerless mitts, Facecloths and Fable cowl

What to knit as a birthday present for a musical knitter? Hmmm, how about "Musica" fingerless mitts? Seemed like a plan, and indeed they were very well received by K, a piano-playing knitter friend of mine. Only one problem. . . they turned out way too big! They were a bit baggy on me and on the birthday girl they were pretty much unwearable! She generously suggested they could just be draped artistically on the piano, but of course I wasn't content with that so have offered to knit another pair using smaller needles, and hope that they fit better!

In other knitting news I have been busily making face cloths for all and sundry from two balls of "Peaches and Creme" cotton yarn procured at "Unwind" Fibre Retreat. Mostly using the "Double Bump" free pattern from ravelry, but also making up a simple 3st repeat basket-weave pattern to use up the remainders.

Meanwhile, I had volunteered to test-knit a cowl pattern for a local friend, but my heels were dragging due to lack of suitable yarn. The trip to Dunedin gave me the opportunity to buy a couple of possible options and with guidance from the designer herself (!) I eventually chose some Flagstaff Alpaca yarn, hand-dyed by Doe Arnott, founder of The Oamaru Textile Emporium. Here's a close-up of the stitch pattern - will add modelled shots when I have some.

The pattern is Fable Cable Cowl by Jessica Powers. It's a really straightforward knit - knit flat and quickly memorised, with a very pleasing and wearable result. The only thing that is a little tedious is grafting the two ends together with Kitchener stitch, but the result is well worth the effort.

I have just started a "Breast hat" by Megan Grewal, for little M, my almost-grand-daughter. It's going well so far, but just like the musical mitts looks like it might be a bit big. More on that next time. . .