Violets are everywhere in our garden at present.  We have white ones:

and pink ones:

and mauve ones:

The modest ‘shrinking violet’ had an evil reputation in early Christianity.  Because of its association with the Goddess Aphrodite, it was said to represent lust.  By Shakespeare’s time it had been rehabilitated sufficiently for Ophelia to say she would have given Hamlet violets in token of love – or maybe it was lust?

‘It’s hard for me to write a couplet
I know no word that rhymes with violet.’





Two stimulating artworks have been installed in windows in the Awly Building in Durham Street, opposite the provincial Council Chambers.

Until Works End

The first is “Until Works End”, a series of whimsical dioramas by Audrey Baldwin, Khye Hitchcock, and Ater D.  They encourage you to view the everyday with humour and a child’s sense of wonder.  Audrey was responsible for the “Shared Snood” in our Community Cottage, so I was especially pleased that her work was chosen for this ShoPOP project.

The Pompoms

The second work is “The Pompoms” by Shades Arcade.  These continually move and are fun to watch.

ShoPOP is aimed at activating new buildings in the central city, and part of the Enliven Places Programme.

“These windows may one day be shops
meantime they’re hosting great ShoPOPs.”

This novel tells the true story of an Australian family who were convicts and merchants.  The author is a Christchurch woman who has spent years meticulously researching her fascinating family.  Two of her Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandparents were convicts transported to New South Wales in the late 18th century.  I was interested because I also have convict ancestors, although mine went to Tasmania in the mid-19th century.

There is a wealth of historical detail, with real characters and authentic events.  As a Latin enthusiast I loved the fact that the third generation Robert Campbell was named Tertius.  Reading of life in the hulks on the Thames before transportation was particularly interesting, as was the stigma that applied years later to those who came of convict stock.

At first I found the fact the book is written in the present tense distracting, but I soon realised that it made the story flow engagingly.  The author’s notes at the end explain where she found much of the historic detail.

I was intrigued to learn that the Old Bailey proceedings from this period are available online, with verbatim trial records, and was inspired to look for my own Great-Great-Grandmother’s trial.  I found this easily, with all the witnesses’ statements.  Unfortunately there was only one sentence, a question, spoken by the prisoner.  My transported Great-Great-Grandfather was convicted in Norfolk, not at the Old Bailey, so his records may be elsewhere.

Susan mentions support from her sisters and wider family, and the book is dedicated to her grandchildren.  They must all be proud and pleased that her skills and commitment have produced such a readable and enjoyable story.

“You’ll be enthralled, I guarantee
by this Australian family.”

New Hat

Being tired of my several winter beanies I decided to knit something different.  A woollen hat is essential for walking in a Christchurch winter.

I searched online and eventually found a slouchie hat that could be worked on straight needles, which I find easier than round.  The pattern called for three knitted flowers, and I had several knitted flower brooches which I thought would do just as well.  The hat was knitted in double moss stitch.  I’d forgotten how to do this but Aunty Google soon explained.  It’s a simple stitch, more suitable for a hat than stocking stitch or rib.  The pattern took just two balls of wool and a few hours listening to the radio.

I’m not sure that I’ve got the flowers placed quite right and will move them around again.  I enjoyed the knitting, and would like to do more, but don’t want to tackle a large garment and it’s hard to find patterns for simple small items that would be useful.

I heard recently that the reason for the renewed interest in handcrafts is because of nostalgia for the 1950s and 60s.  I’m not sure about that.  What do you think?

“My knitted hat brings satisfaction
now what could be my next wool, action?”




Floral Friday

We are totally surrounded by snowdrops at this time of year – or more accurately by snowflakes.

I’ve always loved these little flowers which I had seldom seen in Auckland.  When we first moved to Christchurch there were none in our garden.  A woman we met at a garden show kindly gave us a few bulbs.  As we walked around the local streets we would sometimes see snowdrops flourishing in an empty section, and we would dig these up and bring them home.  Slowly they colonised most of the garden.

These days we have more than we need, and they threaten to choke out other plants (but I still love them).  Whenever I need to dig somewhere I inevitably end up removing snowdrop bulbs.  Sometimes I leave a boxful at the front gate with a sign saying ‘free to good home’.

“I love each dainty little flower
they make our yard a snowdrop bower.”


Botanic Beams

Botanic D’lights is not to be missed.  There are so many wonderful sights to see in the Botanic Gardens and the Arts Centre.  Part of Rolleston Avenue is closed so you can easily move between.  On Wednesday evening at 6pm there were car parks available in Cranmer Square, but by 7.30 it would have been hard to find a park anywhere, so walking or bus are the best options.  The paths seem better laid out this year with people moving only one way.  We loved seeing the children wearing boots with lights in the heels.  Some of my photos came out better than others.

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“An evening of sheer delights
with great illuminated sights.”




Chicoti’s at Merivale was a good choice for morning tea.  It’s hidden down an alleyway, close to the Nurse Maude Hospice Shop.  The cafe is small but there are extra tables in the adjacent alleyways.

Their food was fine, with generous portions (a large cheese scone), the prices reasonable, and service excellent.  My hot chocolate was piping hot and the assistant asked me whether I’d like marshmallows.  This rarely happens and I sometimes forget to specify no marshmallows.  The ambience is European and there ‘s a good selection of up-to-date magazines.  We would go again.

“Chicoti’s Cafe – good to find
go by Nurse Maude’s and look behind.”