Archive for the ‘Cottage Life’ Category

I am totally disillusioned with the “Press” (aka Stuff) delivery/distribution system.  In March when we were to be away for three weeks I asked through their automated system for deliveries to be suspended for that time.  They sent an email acknowledging this request with the dates clearly stated.  Luckily we had a friend minding the cottage and she emailed me to say the Press was still being delivered despite my instructions.  I was able to forward her the relevant email and some days later, after she made several phone calls and sent emails the deliveries were stopped.

In May I received an email telling me that our annual subscription was to be increased by $104 (over 20%).  I pointed out that friends had told me when they cancelled their subscription they were later phoned and offered a cheaper price, and I asked if I could have the cheaper rate without needing to cancel first.    The reply was that any phone call from telemarketing for a reduced price is just random and there’s no guarantee.  However they did agree to reduce the price by $52, for which I was grateful.

In July our delivery was missed several times over two weeks.  When I phoned the call centre to complain a staff member assured me that we were supposed to receive papers only on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  I told her very clearly that we have been subscribers for over thirty years and have al;ways had the paper Monday to Saturday.  She said she would make that adjustment!  I later spoke face to face with a helpful woman in the local Press office who told me the person I’d spoken to would have been “offshore”, and that my records definitely showed a Monday to Saturday subscription.

When we missed another delivery I emailed someone in the “escalation” department who told me the problem arose because I’d changed the days I was subscribed for.  I quickly pointed out that any change had been their mistake (to which I received no reply).

As we were to be away for two days in August I again requested a hold through the automated system and received an email acknowledgement.  I also stated this request in an email to the “escalation” department.

When we returned home I was disappointed and angry to find the “Press” had continued to be delivered on the two days we requested it not be.

Unexpected Presses

The papers usually land on our front steps or verandah, and as our front garden is narrow, they are very obvious to any passerby.  An unretrieved paper sends a message of a vulnerable property to any would-be burglar.

Luckily for us a kind neighbour who knew we were away saw the papers and removed them.  I will complain to the “Press, but I absolutely despair of ever having their holiday system work correctly.  The “Press”is the only daily paper available in Christchurch.  We both enjoy reading a hard copy, and doing the puzzles, but after our experience I’m not surprised so many friends no longer subscribe.

Have any of my readers experienced similar problems?

I still like reading daily “Press”
but find their service just a mess.


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Sunrise over the Avon Loop

I live on land which witnessed many changes over the years.  My home is on Barbadoes Street, beside the Otakaro/Avon River.

Once this area was the site of a kainga, home of Tautahi, the chief for whom Otautahi/Christchurch is named.  The river was called Otakaro after the children who played by it while their elders gathered kai/food.

When Pakeha came to Otautahi they brought their goods by boat up the river and could get no further than the place which is now marked by The Bricks cairn, beside the Barbadoes Street Bridge.  This is the point where the tidal waters meet fresh river water.  When the new Anglican settlement was marked out this loop of the river was originally planned to be the Botanic Gardens with space set aside for the city’s first cemetery.  It was later decided that soil on the west side of the city would be better for the Botanic Gardens, and the Loop area was sub-divided to become homes for working people.  Small cottages were built, some, like ours, from kit sets imported from Australia in the late 1870s.

A century later the Avon Loop had become a centre for alternative even radical thinking and living.  PIKO wholefoods was created as a co-operative by a group of Avon Loop residents, including Rod Donald who later became Co-Leader of the Green Party, with the aim of providing an outlet for organically grown produce.  Aiming to put people before profit they are committed to bulk buying and simple self-packaging to keep prices down.  I’d read about the Loop and the community here before we moved to Christchurch and was please to find a house in the area,  but the co-operative ideals had faded in the ‘80s.  Some of the older residents made it clear that they thought the area had improved since the hippies moved out.  I felt it was more politic not to admit my disappointment.

The earthquakes of 2010-2011 had a profound effect on the Avon Loop.  The land spread laterally and two-thirds of the homes were eventually red-zoned and demolished, even though some of them had suffered only minimal damage.  Our own home had cosmetic damage only and we continued to live here, although inner city living had profoundly changed, and it was years before amenities slowly crept back.  The City Council’s aim is to have 20,000 residents within the four Avenues, but so far there are barely 6,000, whereas there were 8,000 before the earthquakes.  Some residents, including me, work to support community activities, but it’s hard when new units are often bought as investments, and tenants can be transient.  Doubtless there are many more changes to come.

This land will see more changes too
as different things come into view



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Satsuma mandarins are one of my favourite fruits.  Sweet, juicy, easy to peel, with few pips, they are the ideal snack, especially now I’m avoiding biscuits and cake.

Usually I buy them at New World Supermarket, but a few weeks ago they were in short supply and I had to go to Countdown to stock up.  I generally buy about 20 to last me through the week, and at breakfast time this morning I was disappointed to find that two I had bought just six days ago had rotted making them unsuitable to eat.

Mouldy Mandarins (bottom)

Apples I bought at the same time are still lovely and fresh, and I was annoyed the mandarins had not lasted.

Aunty Google tells me satsuma mandarins will stay fresh for one week at room temperature in a fruit bowl.  Mandarins are native to China, and have been cultivated for thousands of years. They were once reserved exclusively for the privileged classes, or Mandarins, which may be where their name comes from.  Along with pomelos and citrons, they’re one of the three original species of citrus, from which all other citrus fruits are derived.  Satsumas are believed to have originated in Japan about 300 years ago, as a mutation of the Citrus reticulata mandarin.  Do you enjoy mandarins, and do you find some don’t keep well?

Some mandarins have gone to mould
although they were not very old.

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I was annoyed to find cat paw prints on the bathroom floor this morning.  I thought Ziggy must have been outside and come in with muddy paws.  Then I realised there were paw prints in the shower.

He loves to drink the warm water after someone has showered, and had obviously snuck in and refreshed himself.  Usually he just puts his head onto the shower base, but this time he obviously went further.

The lure of a drink of warm water
made him go further than he oughta.

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My G.P. told me I need to start taking statins to lower my cholesterol.  My cholesterol, blood sugar, and haemoglobin levels are all higher than desirable and I am pre-diabetic (aren’t most people?).  She said very clearly that I need to improve my diet and lose weight, and gave me a book the 8-week blood sugar diet by Dr Michael Mosley. We’ve agreed that unless I lose weight I’ll go back in three months and accept the prescription for statins.  My G.P. assures me this is essential if I want to avoid heart attacks and strokes.  My Cardiovascular Disease Risk is only 4.5%, but as the nurse said, someone has to be in that 4.5%.

I always try to eat healthily with lots of  fruit and vegetables, but I also enjoy treats like cake and hot chocolate.  I’m extremely cynical about diets, although Dr Mosley makes a good case for his.  I just know I would never bother to count calories, or keep to 800 a day as he suggests.  However I also don’t want more medication (I already take blood pressure pills) so intend to make an effort, and to cut out (some of the) cake and hot chocolate.  My G.P. suggested I avoid “beige carbs”, like potatoes, rice, and noodles.  It might also be good to eat less bread.  This begins to sound to me like starvation!  A friend is currently spending a week living on the rations that would be supplied to a Syrian refugee in a Jordanian Refugee Camp.  Can I do something similar?  Probably not, but my intention is good.

I’ve always eaten whatever I want, and it may be too late for that to change.  We don’t have desserts, but I usually have a piece of cake or biscuit and a hot chocolate before I go to bed.  The last two nights I’ve not done this.  Dr Mosley says a warm drink is a good way to stave off hunger pangs, so I’m having extra cups of weak black Earl Grey tea – now using the French variety available in bulk at the supermarket.  My G.P. says you stop feeling hungry after a couple of weeks.  After one whole day of reduced eating my digestion feels better.  We shall see!

I don’t expect that I’ll get thin
and I’m quite happy in my skin.
Is being overweight a sin?

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What I Wear

I love bright colours, especially pink, purple, and aqua, but these are often not easy to find, especially as most of my clothes shopping is done in op-shops.  Being a larger size limits my choices, but over the years I’ve been lucky to find some pieces I love and feel good in.  Twenty years ago I had my colours “done” which was useful in that it steered me away from some mistakes and started me wearing blue, a colour I hadn’t previously been attracted to.

As I wear glasses I never found eye makeup easy, and was pleased when feminist ideas persuaded me no makeup was required.  When I first came to Christchurch 30 years ago I had an appointment with a recruitment agency and debated whether or not to wear lipstick.  Eventually I did, thinking I might be more likely to get a job, but that was a rare compromise.  I have made an exception when my photo is being taken, or I’ve appeared on local TV, provided I’ve known in advance.

Soon  after I left paid work I de-cluttered my wardrobe, and today I’ve been through it again, discarding garments I haven’t worn for at least a year.  Most of these were skirts, as I’m now more inclined to wear jeans or trousers.  I even rejected two petticoats in good condition, which I must have had for at least 30 years.  Does anyone wear petticoats these days?  On the rare occasions when I wear a skirt if I want an extra layer I add warm tights.  Now I have a full carton ready to take to the City Mission.

Ready for the City Mission

It’s fun to dress up sometimes, but comfort and colour are my main clothing criteria.  I remember long-ago days when I dressed to conform, and I’m sorry for those  who are obliged to meet “corporate” dress standards.  I applaud those women who display their individuality in their clothing.

Clothes that are comfortable and bright
are those that give me most delight

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Apple Mini Loaves

A rainy Saturday was the ideal time to try a new recipe.  I like using my mini loaf pans, and searched for something different from my usual Feijoa and Ginger Loaves.  What I discovered was Apple Mini Loaves:

Apple Mini Loaves  (makes 10)


  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Oil
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla
  • 2 cups apple, diced (2 medium-sized apples)
  • 1 1/2 Cups Flour
  • 2 heaped tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp. Baking Powder


  • Peel and dice enough apples to make two cups.
  • Mix egg, sugar, oil, vanilla, and apples.  Mix well.
  • Add dry ingredients. Stir still just combined.  Don’t over mix, and don’t worry if mixture seems a little dry.
  • Spoon tablespoonfuls of the batter into greased mini loaf pans. Bake at 180 for 20 mins.

These proved to be delicious.  I don’t know whether they would keep for long, but I don’t think they’ll have the chance!

These tiny loaves are very nice
they taste of apple and of spice


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