Virginia’s vine

Virginia Creeper on the wall of Forte Health awakened lots of memories for me.

Virginia Creeper (Small)

We had a creeper like this on the front of my childhood home in Manchester Street, and it was magnificent in autumn.  Virginia Creeper is actually a member of the grape family. Like other ivies it can get into cracks and crevices.   Because it adheres to the surface by disks rather than penetrating roots, it doesn’t harm masonry but will keep a building cooler by shading the wall surface during the summer.  As with ivy, trying to rip the plant from the wall will damage the surface; but if the plant is first killed, such as by severing the vine from the root, the adhesive pads will eventually deteriorate and release their grip.   Apparently native Americans used this creeper as a herbal remedy for diarrhea.

“This hardy plant will quickly spread
at autumn time its leaves turn red.”

No Kneelers at Knox

Today I attended a service in the rebuilt Knox Church on the corner of Bealey Avenue and Victoria Street.

Knox Church outside (Small)

The last time I was there was for the last funeral held in the church prior to the February 2011 earthquake.  The historic church was badly damaged in the earthquake, and has been rebuilt.  Luckily the beautiful wooden ceiling was able to be restored.

Knox Church inside (Small)

An excellent addition has been the long windows, which mean the building is much lighter inside, and you can look out to the trees on Bealey Avenue.  The sun shone so strongly onto the spot where I was sitting that I had to move.  There are no kneelers in the church.  I hadn’t realised, or had forgotten, that Presbyterians don’t kneel.

“There’s something missing there, I feel
surprised to learn they do not kneel.”

First Flower

The first snowdrop appeared today.  It wasn’t there when we went out early on a foggy morning, but at midday I spied it.



Usually the first snowdrop appears in May, or even June, so this one is very early.  I look forward to when there are enough to pick a bunch.

“The snowdrop’s lovely spring display
is cheering on a colder day.”

Brand-new Boteco

We were the very first customers at Boteco, a new cafe and bar that opened this morning in Kilmore Street, just east of Barbadoes Street.

Boteco inside (Small)

Our breakfast was delicious.  I had mushrooms with a generous serving of onion jam, topped with parmesan, on mashed potatoes.  Stephen had their full breakfast which included chorizo, beef, bacon, mushrooms, and poached eggs.  The latter were cooked to perfection, not an easy task.

Stephen's South American breakfast

Stephen’s South American breakfast

Their menu has a South American flavour.  As well as cabinet food, the breakfast/lunch menu is served from 7am (8am on Sunday) until 3pm.  From 3pm there is a range of tapas dishes.  The kitchen is small, which is why there is only tapas in the evenings, although the owner, Flavio, welcomes feedback and suggestions.  This week he is testing, and training staff, with advertising (and a full website) planned from next Wednesday.  We’ll certainly be going back – they have cider on tap.  It’s good to have another hospitality option just around the corner.

“We both enjoyed our breakfast dish
with food that was simply delish.”



Amazing Autumn

This is the season of Last Light, Halloween, Samhain, and yet the colours are so rich and golden it seems almost impossible that winter is near.  The daily sunshine comes directly through the windows, highlighting the need for window-washing, but who can be bothered with mundane chores when out-of-doors is so beguiling?

Autumn colour #1 (Small)

It is the dying time of year, and in the last week two acquaintances have died.  I am reminded that the day I finished paid employment was the 23rd anniversary of the day my brother died.  This is the time when the veil between the worlds is thin.  We remember our beloved dead and the wisdom they left with us.

It’s also a time of transformation, of moving from the old into the new.  I’m experimenting with new routines, setting new goals.  Last night I played cards with a local group.  Today I met with a play reading group at the WEA, where we read a play by Joseph Conrad that was unfamiilar to me.  It’s good to learn new things, and to have such opportunities available in the central city.  I’m enjoying the new freedom and the chance to cycle.

Winter will inevitably come, bringing colder times and the need to stay inside and keep warm.  Until then we can continue to enjoy these golden autumn days.

Autumn colour #3 (Small)

“The winter time is almost nigh
and nature has begun to die.”

Bringing Balance


How to balance the ‘coulds’ with the ‘shoulds’?  My first week of retirement felt like I was on holiday and catching up with chores.  There were so many things I felt obliged to do, and little time to sit and read, potter in the garden, or enjoy the golden autumn.  I’ve kept up with ongoing things that I enjoy – beach walks, poetry group, time with friends – and the only new activity I’ve managed to incorporate daily is my yoga exercises.  I wonder how long it will take for my subconscious to realise that this holiday is infinite, and that I can do anything I want to?  Others have told me their first weeks of retirement were full of ‘shoulds’ as well.

“There’s things I really ought to do
and others I long to pursue.”

Council Communication

Public holidays have less relevance now that I’ve left paid employment.  That may be why it never occurred to me that our wheelie bins might not be collected on Anzac Day.  At 9.30am this morning I learned from a neighbour that our usual Monday collection had been moved forward to today.  I put our bins out then, hoping at least the green one, which is usually collected later, might be in time, but no such luck.  About 8am the Council had put this message on their Facebook page:  It has become apparent that many people were unaware that Monday’s kerbside rubbish collection was taking place today. Please leave your bins out until 6pm tonight even if you have seen the truck go past. If your bins are not collected, please call us on 941-8999 (24 hours) we will record your details to forward to our solid waste team. We apologise for any inconvenience.

Forlorn bins

Forlorn bins

Apparently CCC were supposed to have done a letterbox drop last Monday, but we got nothing, and I didn’t see a notice in either the ‘Press’ or the ‘Star’.  A friend in St Albans said there was a note in their letterbox saying Monday’s collection was moved to Saturday, but their day is Friday!  As an obedient citizen I will leave my bins out until 6pm, then phone the Council.  I’m likely to be one of many so I wonder how long it will take to get through.  Maybe I’ll send an e-mail instead.

“I know the Council’s busy , but
this kind of thing makes me go ‘tut’!”


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