Sunday, bloody Sunday

It was war out there today. In the heat of the afternoon, battle took place:  slash and counter-slash, slice and counter-slice, tug and counter-tug, knock-em-down-drag-em-out, no holds barred, blood and sweat and tears … There were casualties, of course.  Falls in the creek.  Battle wounds.  There will be scars.  And the aftermath of clean-up yet to be done …

But it was all worth it. Damn right, it was worth it, because I won.  I WON!  I WON!!!

The final score? Blackberry 0, Mothercat 1. Gotcha, Blackberry!!! No more will you grab at my clothing or stab me in the ribs as I push past you while mowing the lawn. No more will you choke my forsythia, ravage my plum tree, and lie in wait among my lilac bushes and rhododendrons to pounce on me, savage me and spit me out, bloodied and scratched and sore.  GOTCHA!!!

And here are the photos to prove it – the opposition, the casualties, the battle wounds, and the aftermath …

The Opposition:

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The casualties:


(Please note:  No animals were harmed in this battle.  It was the blackberry I was out to get, not the birds.)

The battle wounds:

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And the aftermath:

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Now, where’s the Dettol ….

Grand Pumpkin Festival, Lincoln, Canterbury

Took a drive over to Lincoln this morning, to have a look at their Grand Pumpkin Festival, which I’d seen advertised on EventFinda last week. Given that Lincoln is only a village really (although it is the site of Lincoln University, as well as a number of research institutes and the New Zealand Cricket High Performance Centre), this certainly wasn’t the mother of all Pumpkin Festivals; but with the Flying Dixies band entertaining the crowd, and a number of stalls selling plants, food, clothing and crafty-type stuff, there was plenty to look at, listen to, and take home if you felt so inclined. 

And then there were the pumpkins!  Big ones, little ‘uns, ugly ones, purty ones, decorated and gussied up or downright mean-looking, there was something there for everyone.  The biggest one weighed in at 239kgs – I’ve no idea what the local record is, but it sure looked like a whole heap of pumpkin soup to me! 

And what about the decorated ones – aren’t they awesome??!!

It sure looked like everyone was havin’ a good time! 🙂


Update 28 April 2013:

Seems like I wasn’t the only one enjoying the Pumpkin Festival – see the Pingback in the comments below!

A century ago today …

Mama and brothers, c.1921100 years ago, on 23 April 1913, my mother was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. She was the eldest of 10 children (five boys and five girls), all born at home, four of whom died before reaching the age of 10. It was a tough life for the family, with very little money and cramped living conditions in a very small, one-bedroomed flat in Craigmillar, Edinburgh.  All the males slept in the bedroom, with the females in the other room; there was no hot water, and having a bath was a once-a-week affair on a Friday night, in the same tub that was used for washing the clothes.  Heating came from the coal range used for cooking, although gas heating and lighting were installed later on.

The relationship between my mother and her father, particularly once she left school, appears to have been a stormy one.  MamaAt the age of 20, she had to be in by 9pm or she would be locked out for the night, and there was one incident in which he threw her clothes in the fire one night because he didn’t want her to go out.  (I understand she threatened him with a flat iron after that! 🙂 )

Mama and Papa's wedding photoShe met my father at a dance at Edinburgh University in 1932 and they married in 1936, eventually moving to England where Father worked as a vet for the Ministry of Agriculture, and then as a researcher with Boots the Chemist, while Mama stayed home to look after a growing family. 

Five children were born in England, and then in 1949 Father was sent on a work trip through Africa, from which – according to family folk lore – he returned and told my mother to “pack up everything, we’re emigrating to Southern Rhodesia!” 

Going from post-war Britain, with all its food shortages, to sunny Rhodesia must have seemed like going to heaven!  Food was plentiful,  in particular meat, sugar and fruit; the weather was great; and life was definitely easier.  Such was their enthusiasm for their newly-adopted country that they persuaded my aunt (one of Mama’s sisters) to join them from Edinburgh, ostensibly as a live-in babysitter for soon-to-arrive child no. 6, being me (to be followed three years later by my younger sister).

We had a wonderful life in Rhodesia, and I have many, many special memories of growing up there.  After leaving the country in 1973, I managed to return 7 or 8 times over the next 23 years to spend time with family and friends.  Present-day circumstances in Zimbabwe, however, make me very thankful that I no longer have any family living there:  Mama passed away in 1986, and Father in 1994.  My final visit in 1996 coincided with the death of my beloved aunt; all my brothers and sisters had either already left the country, or did so not long after my last visit, and I haven’t been back since.

Traveller's Joy

Our last house in Zimbabwe

Sunrise at Traveller's Joy

The view from the house at sunrise








So, here’s to you, Mama:  thank goodness for your (and Father’s) pioneering spirit, and thank you both for giving me a fantastic childhood in a lovely country, for which I will always be grateful.  Many happy returns! 🙂

Book recommendation

Just a quick post to recommend a book I have just finished reading:

Sarah's Last Wish cover

Sarah’s Last Wish is the true story of Sarah Westley, struck down at the age of 11 by a severe mystery illness which is misdiagnosed as pregnancy, triggering a devastating chain of events for the family. Unbelievable that the state health system in New South Wales, Australia, could hold such power and be so ruthless, and cause such devastation to this young girl and her family. Be prepared to shed some tears!  (But well worth the read despite that, for sure, I really recommend it.)

Kaleidoscopic fun!

Hands up those of you who remember those wonderful kaleidoscope toys you had as a kid – anyone? 


Remember how every little turn of the barrel would render another fantastic coloured kaleidoscope pattern?  And the frustration when you could never quite recreate the same one again??  I used to spend hours with the one we had, twiddling and twirling and oohing and aahing and urging everyone to look at my wonderful creations 🙂  And you know that quote about putting away childish things?  Well, I have to confess … I haven’t stopped playing with kaleidoscopes yet!  A few years ago I discovered this wonderful computer programme called Kaleidoscope Kreator, which allows you to create beautiful kaleidoscopes using your own photos – it’s so much fun, I’m back to being a kid again, spending hours twiddling and twirling and oohing and aahing!! 🙂  Here are a few examples, starting with the original photo, and then some of the kaleidoscopes created from them:

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Orange rose Star8 Orange rose Lotus8  Orange rose Star8-2

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Pink hydrangea Lotus8 Pink hydrangea Lotus8-3 Pink hydrangea Lotus8-2

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Purple hibiscus Lotus8 Purple hibiscus Sun Rays8

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Pink petunia Sun Rays8 Pink petunia Lotus8 Pink petunia Lotus8-2


Pink hydrangea square8   Pink hydrangea square8-3   Pink hydrangea square8-2

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Yellow begonia Square8-2   Yellow begonia Square8

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Pink flower Square8   Pink flower Circle8

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Salmon rose square 8-5   Salmon rose square 8-4   Salmon rose square 8

Isn’t it amazing the variety of end results from the same photo?  You can understand why I can spend hours playing, can’t you?! 🙂 🙂

In the herb garden

Lots of lovely gentle rain today – took the camera out into the herb garden at work at lunchtime to see what I could find …

Blue flower Spikey leaves   Seedhead   Seedhead-yellow leaves Dewdrop leaf  Spider-webbed deadhead Dewdrop rose

Apart from the rose in the last photo, and the red leaf which I think is a flowering cherry, I have no idea what the other plants are, so if anyone is able to enlighten me, thank you, I’d be delighted to hear from you! 🙂


A post from fellow-blogger Leaf and Twig caught my eye tonight, and set me thinking how visionary some people can be, taking bits and pieces of scrap metal and creating something wonderful:  aren’t they clever?!

A couple of years ago I went to the Ellerslie Flower Show in Hagley Park here in Christchurch, and we had our lunch in the shade around Victoria Lake, where there were some wonderful scrap creations to marvel at:

Ellerslie 2010 - Gorilla

Mountain Gorilla

Ellerslie 2010 - Weta

Giant Weta

Ellerslie 2010 - Tin Woman

Iron Maiden

Ellerslie 2010 - Cow

Betsy the Cow

I think this rhino was my favourite, though – just look at the last photo of its rear end, don’t you just want to reach out and pat it??!! 🙂  And the little tail on it – oh, just too cute! 🙂 🙂

Ellerslie 2010 - Rhino  Ellerslie 2010 - Rhino 2

Ellerslie 2010 - Rhino 3

On quite a different tack, this next photo was taken at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury, Kent, where I was staying with friends in 2008:  hundreds of little pieces of metal, making such a powerful statement!

Marlowe theatre sculpture

And finally tonight, with the help of my friends at NASA, a peek at the surface of the Red Planet, Mars:

The Red Planet

All right, all right, only kidding 🙂 🙂    It’s actually the rusty old lid of a 44-gallon drum – but don’t you think it could be a barren Martian landscape interspersed with some very deep, black bodies of water?? 😉  (That is, if there were any water on Mars, which I understand there actually isn’t…)

G’night, everyone, and take care!