The Secret Life of Bees

Once I got into this book I loved it.  It’s the story of a troubled young white woman who finds sanctuary in a household of black beekeepers.  I don’t usually choose American novels and this took a while to win me over.  What attracted me were its themes of women caring for each other, using rituals to bond together, and worshipping a female divinity.  It’s setting in the American South at the time of the Civil Rights Act (1964) gave an extra dimension of racial struggle, and the inclusion of the world of bees was an added attraction.  It’s a satisfying book with many different strands.

This is the choice of our Book Club this month, and the best we’ve had for some time, in my opinion.  I understand there’s been a film as well.  Have you seen it?

“I loved The Secret Life of Bees.
A moving tale that’s sure to please.”



Farm Folk

The Wai Ariki Farm Park is one of Hanmer Springs’ special attractions.  It’s recently been taken over by Tim and Kirsty, who are working hard to make improvements.  They have a series of WWOOFERS to assist them.  All the animals look very healthy and are obviously well cared for.  I  took photos of some:

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If you’re near Hanmer the farm park is well worth a visit, especially if you have children with you.  All the animals can be stroked and hand fed.

“This is a most delightful farm
where animals are sure to charm.”


Holiday Home

I spent last weekend at Wai Ariki Cottage in Hanmer Springs.   This was an ideal spot for a couple of relaxed days with an old friend. The cottage has beautiful mountain views, and is situated beside a farm park.

Mountain view from the cottage

Mountain view from the cottage

Deer in neighbouring paddock

Deer in neighbouring paddock

In the morning I was woken by a rooster crowing, and looked out my bedroom window to see wallabies in the neighbouring enclosure.  The animals spend their nights in large paddocks and are then herded into the public farm area for the daytime.  One morning a flock of sheep declined to go the allotted way and stopped to nibble on nearby bushes.

Renegade sheep

Renegade sheep

I fed leftover rice from our Indian takeaways to some of the hens.

Chickens and rice

Chickens and rice

A friendly cat responded to my strokes with affectionate rubbing and purring, then followed me inside.  He told me he was soooo hugry, and when I explained I had no suitable food he jumped up on the bench to check.  He wasn’t so friendly when I picked him up and dumped him unceremoniously outside.

Fonzie, the friendly cat

Fonzie, the friendly cat

Later he crept in through an open window and curled up to sleep on my friend’s bed.  Apparently the cottage was previously his home.

Just twenty minutes walk brought us to the village, where we could indulge in a little retail therapy, or soak in the hot pools.  When the evening turned cooler we lit the fire and played scrabble.  It was a most enjoyable way to spend the equinox.

“Chooks, cat, and full menagerie
made this the ideal place for me.”

Bunnies and Birds

Flox is an Auckland artist who’s created “a new kind of artistic expression: one that that cherishes its community and the environment, and pays loving tribute to the natural world.”

Mural by Flox

Mural by Flox

This mural at 41 Welles Street makes an attractive change from some of the more lurid efforts around town.  From her blog  it sounds as though Flox enjoyed her Christchurch enterprise.

Warren Feeney, in a recent “Press” article questions whether street art works are struggling to gain attention over the predominance of inner-city building sites.  Many are hidden away, and it’s always a pleasure to come across a new one.

“There’s lots of murals on the street.
This nat’ral one is hard to beat.”


My appointment was at 8.15am, on the first floor of a brand new building.  Clear roads and ample parking meant that I arrived just after 8 o’clock.  Eschewing the lift I located a staircase and climbed up, only to find that the door at the top was locked, and needed a swipe card for access.  I walked down again, got into the lift, and pressed the button for the first floor.  The door closed, but the lift didn’t move.  The security pad had a blue light which indicated it too required a swipe card.

I pressed the button to open the door and got out.  The number of the person I was to meet was not on my cellphone, and I contemplated phoning Directory to get it, then thought I’d try again.  This time the lift worked perfectly and took me to the first floor.  When I told the receptionist of my experience she observed that I was early and security operated until after 8am.

When I was leaving I told the receptionist I planned to take the staircase, and she said that the building owner didn’t like anyone using the stairs.  It’s always been my habit to take stairs rather than lifts, if going less than three flights, so I ignored this and walked down.  I wonder how many more of our new buildings have unmarked staircases, and no incentive to use them.  Living on the flat, with few multi-storey buildings left, surely it would be more healthy to encourage people to walk upstairs.  I can appreciate that it might be a security problem, but that could be overcome.

“It’s good for me to climb a stair.
Taking the lift does not compare.”

Extraordinary Eggs

Easter’s come early to the Restart Mall.  The Big Egg Hunt is on again, and large eggs have landed in the city.  Here are some I saw today.


'Skyline' by Anneke Stewart

‘Skyline’ by Anneke Stewart

'Kaimoana Y Vida Marina' by Cinzah Merkens

‘Kaimoana Y Vida Marina’ by Cinzah Merkens

'Aotearoatiki' by Mandii Pope

‘Aotearoatiki’ by Mandii Pope

'Homespun Egg' by Hannah Kidd

‘Homespun Egg’ by Hannah Kidd


There must be more around too.  Have you seen them?

“Did some large hen produce these ones?
And will there be huge Easter buns?”





Christchurch Comeback

Yesterday we walked to a performance in the Isaac Theatre Royal.  That statement may seem trivial, but it has a huge amount of emotion in it, because it was the first time we’ve done this since the earthquakes.  It was such a pleasure to be able to head out along the Avon, then to see the theatre ahead of us with Owen Dippie’s giant ballerina mural.  We chose to go to the 4pm show, and New Regent Street was buzzing as we walked along.

The theatre is the first heritage building I’ve been in, that’s been fully restored after the earthquakes, and it looked superb.  We are lucky in New Zealand that many towns have these wonderful old theatres, and doubly lucky in Christchurch to have this one restored to us.

Inside the Isaac Theatre Royal

Inside the Isaac Theatre Royal

Ceiling dome

Ceiling dome

Gilded detail

Gilded detail

The muscial “Buddy” was sheer fun, a reminder of a different era, and of how American music dominated before the British ‘invasion’.  There were times when the accompanying music overwhelmed the singing, but that didn’t matter as I knew all the words.  I’d seen the show before, in 2007 in London’s West End, and I enjoyed this just as much.  I did think they could have emphasised the plane crash a little more, but we all know the story anyway.

Afterwards we crossed the road and had a meal at Sampan House, which was doing a roaring trade.  They must be thrilled to have the theatre open again.

We walked home along the river, delighted to know that such entertainment is once more available in the central city.  We’ve booked for “Phantom” next month too.

“The central city will come back
and we’ll regain those things we lack.”




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