Summer Idyll

I have been extremely lackadaisical about writing my blog over the Christmas period. Perhaps it was all the cooking and general busyness. Perhaps it was the aftermath of eating and napping. I have become like one of the cats: sunning my belly on the deck and snoozing away the afternoon.

Even though there were only four of us, Christmas lunch with my parents was still pretty complex. Homemade pies with beef cheek slow-cooked in red wine. Ham triple-glazed in cranberry sauce and manuka honey. Corn on the cob. Potato & egg salad. Coleslaw of red cabbage, kale, carrot, celery, and sunflower seeds. Another salad of rocket, parmesan & pear, tossed in garlic salt & balsamic vinaigrette. And then we followed that with fruit salad, ice cream, and pavlova with cream and strawberries. A good (if elaborate) summer lunch. And then cheese and crackers, which became my dinner as well.

I deliberately bought the smallest ham I could find (and free-range, of course). It was 1.6kg (about 4lbs), so we’re still left with quite a bit of ham in the fridge. My husband will no doubt do what he can to make it into sandwiches, and perhaps it will find its want into an omelette or soup, but at least it’s a much more manageable size than the ham we gave away. The leftover salad was taken care of within 24 hours, and there was no leftover dessert. There’s still a lot of cheese, and booze, and chocolate, but everything will dwindle with time. The napping may also have been an side-effect of the ongoing snacking.

After lunch, for some reason my family felt motivated enough to drive out to the lighthouse on the Manukau Heads. None of us had ever been there. Only thing is, it’s a long, narrow and windy road, and it turns out that the gate to the lighthouse reserve closes at 5pm – at least that’s what the sign said. So by the time we’d picked our way up the peninsula we never did get to see the lighthouse, but I look pictures of the landscape just to entertain myself. The feathery grass, the pitted sand bank, the rough moss and bracken. It was quite beautiful in its own way. Rugged and windswept – part of an older world.

It is frankly a miracle to be able to spend both Christmas and Boxing Day with my husband, and neither of us have to work. We went down to the beach on Boxing Day (where I slipped over on a rock pool and sliced my hand open on the barnacles). The beach was virtually empty, which I guess meant that everyone else was out shopping. We wandered around the point at low tide and found a freshwater spring and a small cave. My husband made jokes about hunting for signs of “sea-squatch”. We found oysters and tiny crayfish, but left them alone. It was an idyllic way to spend a quiet, lazy day.

Now… back to that ham.

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Silver Lining

The bad news is that Tuesday turned out to be far too hot to spend much time in the garden, so I just napped instead. Is that bad news? I’m actually not so sure.

The good news is that I have an interview for the job I spent extra time and effort applying for last week! Yaaaayyyyy!!! *flailing Kermit arms*

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via GIPHY

It’s not a new job yet, but an interview is a really good start. I absolutely hate applying for jobs, so the less applications I have to do, the better.

To celebrate, my husband and I decided to make use of the good weather in a positive way and go down to the beach to eat fish and chips and drink cider and watch the sunset. This sounds lovely (and looked lovely, above) if not for the howling southwesterly that made us both freeze and made the chips go cold. However a neighborhood cat choose to join us and loll around cutely to see if she could steal a chip or two, and she didn’t seem to mind that they were cold, so there’s that. Obviously cats can tell that we’re cat people.

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Lazy November

As anticipated, Tuesday was my day of rest. Or rather, my day of lots of sleep.

I woke up at 4am to a pile of purring, nuzzling kitties. I completely refused to get up and feed them at 4am, so there was two hours of furry cuddles before they gave up and woke up my husband instead. It was actually incredibly pleasant to have time to linger with the cats instead of being forced to get up for work. Except for the claws.

The cold wind had finally died away, so it was actually a stunning, warm, spring day. Too hot to be out in the garden really, so it probably wasn’t a bad thing that we just hung around the house. I’ve managed to coordinate my days off to match with my husband’s days off (not easy when we are both on random shifts through the week) so it’s also wonderful to have had so much “husband time” over the past couple of weeks. On an ordinary week we may hardly see one another – and live our separate lives like lonely flatmates. But we both really enjoy the time we spend together, so we cherish it.

We went for a walk on the beach in the afternoon, and spotted some jellyfish (which are apparently a big problem around Auckland at the moment, and probably a sign that the fish stocks are suffering). These ones are harmless though.

It’s hard to describe the real joy of the seasonal change towards summer. The air tastes different. Asparagus and strawberries are back in the shops. Fireworks go on sale tomorrow (for Guy Fawkes Day, because we’re all supposed to be stoked that 400 years ago we killed a bunch of Catholics who hated the Protestant King of England). Just the fact that we can have dinner outside is an unbelievable relief.

And all of the trees I’ve planted at the new section over the past few months are happy and gradually taking off. It really does make all that hard work seem worthwhile…

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Shed Works Good in the Rain

Someone posted an interesting observation on Facebook tonight. With all of the flack that Trump is now receiving from the media, and his supporters are receiving online, how many people are now just keeping their heads down and not mentioning who they support? I think he’s quite right to ask, and I think that the vote will be a lot closer than polls are currently predicting. When you’re alone with your own thoughts in a voting booth, you’re not answerable to anybody else… Plus, as I said many moons ago, people like an underdog. The Brexit vote had pre-vote polls showing a strong lead for remaining. Yet the referendum pivoted on the people who went into the booth and voted to exit (many probably thinking that they wouldn’t win) quite simply because it was a protest vote against the establishment. Trump will no doubt get the same swell.

However, I’ve had enough of talking about politics for the week.

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In the middle of all my ranting this week, I have actually managed to get some work done. And not just boring event work. I planted some fruit trees and generally tidied up the new section. And during the rain showers, I could sit in the new shed and have a snack. 🙂

It’s still so heartening to see the spring growth coming on well. My potatoes are all growing like mad. The strawberries are too. The rhubarb has bounced back (at least for now). The boysenberries are already starting to creep, so I’ll need to think about how to restrain them pretty soon. The shallots and garlic and yams have all poked their heads up.

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The beautiful puka trees, which had been so badly damaged by the wind, are now in plastic sleeves and are coming back with lots of waxy new leaves.

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The little baby clumps of toe toe are now looking like… well bigger clumps of grass.

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However, this is a good thing, since eventually they will need to look like these very big clumps of grass:

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Even the daffodils, which I neglected so badly, have exploded into flower. It’s remarkable since I only found a place and time to plant them back in September! Here’s how they looked on 6th Sept, and how they look now, just five weeks later…

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Since we are still combating the wind, I have doubts that any of my new trees will bear fruit this year. The blossoms are lasting only hours, but all the new growth gives me hope for next year…

Even if we can’t get everything else sorted, at least our garden will bloom.

I Guess the View from our Imaginary Bedroom Won’t be All that Bad

The sea was lovely and blue today. Calm skies. Not too cold. It’s exactly the sort of day that makes me appreciate this wonderful spot we have.

I even discovered that the supermarket is giving out little seed pads and peat pots with your groceries this week. I stopped on my way home and got basil, celery and kale. I’ve never had much success with celery (way, way too thirsty) but I haven’t tried growing the now ubiquitous kale before. I know it’s meant to be the new superfood, but I’m not much for following the fashion trends in veggies. However, many years ago, when I was living on-and-off with my Dutch boyfriend, his mother used to grow and serve boerenkool all the time. It was actually bloody nice… Did I just do the “I ate kale before it was cool” thing? Yes, yes I did.

After our adventures underground last week, today was going to be all about moving some more permanent residents of the veggie garden. I had strawberries and boysenberries and rhubarb on my list, as well as a few herbs.

Continue reading I Guess the View from our Imaginary Bedroom Won’t be All that Bad

Road Trip

Well it’s nice to know that, even when I’m writing in my sleep, I’m actually full of love and joy.

Underneath all the bitterness and swearing, of course.

Easter Monday meant the first trip down to see my parents this year. We packed a picnic lunch (which was very nice) and I got into an argument with my mother (which wasn’t nice, but probably to be expected).

Continue reading Road Trip

A Good Friday

We were meant to be seeing our nephew today, but Rob reckons his sister changed her mind at the last minute so it wasn’t to be. That’s all part of an old, horrible family story. After a rubbish day yesterday (no nephew, finding out about the Homestart Grant denial, still short-staffed for next week, deliveries didn’t arrive for the long weekend, had to clean up 3 dead and liquefied mice out from under the fridge) we really needed today to be relaxed and stress-free.

Continue reading A Good Friday

The Last Light of Summer

It’s an Auckland cliche, but there’s a beach not far from where we live. With two harbours, and suburbs cost-to-coast, everywhere in Auckland is close to a beach. However, this beach is a bit more isolated and weather-beaten than most. It’s covered in a forest of gnarled, fallen trees. Rob and I have walked down it on the odd warm evening, and so far we’ve always been alone.

Given that this evening was particularly warm (even after our sweltering February), and given that we had a rare evening at home together, we decided to make use of the last light of day and go for another walk. We now have a signed purchase agreement on our dream section (we’re just waiting on the other buyer to hopefully drop out), so it may be that we don’t have many more nights like this along our lonely, salt-stripped woodland.

Just thought I’d share… Continue reading The Last Light of Summer