Archive for the ‘Cottage Life’ Category

As the Omicron variant of Covid 19 edges ever closer to our community we are making preparations for when we move into the red traffic light system and/or we need to isolate.

In past lock-downs we were pleased to have supplies delivered by Countdown. Last year they were the only central city supermarket offering this online service, but New World now also provides deliveries. We prefer to deal with New World as they are Aotearoa-owned and this week we decided to test their online order and delivery service, in case we may need it. The procedure was similar to Countdown’s but it might have been wise to read all the online info first. I ended up contacting their digital assistant, and didn’t manage to order the two apples I wanted (not 1 kg), but that’s a minor quibble and possibly my fault for not reading the instructions beforehand. I’ve had a look since and didn’t see how to order smaller amounts of fruit. I also forgot to order my weekend mushrooms, so had poached eggs for breakfast today instead.

We ordered delivery for the 9am-12noon slot, and it arrived at 9.40am. A pleasant young masked man even offered to take the bags through to the kitchen which I declined. Obviously that wouldn’t happen if deliveries needed to be contactless. We’d been warned that because we ordered wine we’d need to show i.d., but when I offered this he said it wasn’t necessary. He could obviously see that I am over 18. The delivery came complete with the usual vouchers and stickers that you get instore.

New World delivery

My one tiny complaint is that I got an email to say “Your delivery from New World Durham Street is on it’s way. ETA 4 minutes”. Their system needs a proof reader who understands apostrophes!

Yesterday’s Press gave a list of what we need to have in stock in preparation for Covid. As well as enough food and medication for 14 days they suggest to cope with Covid symptoms we should have paracetamol, ibuprofen, throat lozenges, ice blocks, electrolytes, and vapour rub. I presume the ice blocks are to soothe a sore throat, and hope the ones we have in our freezer for cool drinks would be suitable. I’ve never sucked an ice block when I’ve had a sore throat, but there’s always a first time. We have paracetamol, throat lozenges, and ice blocks, and think we’ll leave the rest for an online order when we actually need them. I wonder how many people are stocking up on all these things, and whether supplies of electrolytes and vapour rub will run out.

There’s lots for us to think upon
as we prepare for Omicron

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Floral Friday

This lupin is flowering outside our front fence, just behind the green box that holds the connections for the local fibre cables. It’s a brave volunteer, self-sewn from plants inside the fence, and has occasionally been nurtured with worm pee. It demonstrates the kind of tenacity that has enabled its relations to colonise the McKenzie Country.

I actually took the photo on Tuesday, and wondered whether some passer-by might abduct the flower, but it’s still there.

It’s grown up through a footpath crack
where recent sealing has been slack

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Indulging in Ice cream

On these warm sunny days the thought of an ice cream is enticing. What ice creams do you remember from your childhood? I remember Saturday trips to New Brighton where there was a shop just across the road from the pier that sold ice creams in multiple colours and flavours. I particularly recall blue and green ones, but I can’t remember the taste. Childhood favourites were Eskimo Pies and Joy Bars. I understand consideration for indigenous people has led to a name change for Eskimo Pies. Recently I saw a packet of small Joy Bars in the supermarket freezer, and couldn’t resist buying them, but they were nothing like I remembered, and I shan’t bother again.

We enjoy an occasional Kapiti Nelson Boysenberry mini ice cream and keep a packet in the freezer. They’re not available at New World Durham Street, but we can get them at New World Stanmore Road.

Ben and Jerry’s have had a mobile shop sitting on the corner of Armagh and Manchester Streets for some time and last week I saw that they were finally open. That could be tempting, but I prefer to choose an ice cream based in Aotearoa.

Last week we were at the Mediterranean Food Company. Stephen wanted a coffee, but I chose a gelato. This was coffee-flavoured and delicious.

It’s traditional to have an ice cream at the theatre, and Isaac Theatre Royal offers Trumpets. These days I rarely go to the cinema, but when I do I have an ice cream, no matter what the weather.

When do you indulge in an ice cream?

An ice cream is a special treat
on hot days they’re so good to eat

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Floral Friday

Sunflower with bee

Yellow flowers don’t fit my garden colour scheme, so I’m not inclined to ,plant them. These sunflowers were a gift so I had to find a spot for them, and they are flourishing outside the fence in my ground level window boxes.

The last time I grew sunflowers was four years ago, and those were small ones from New World’s Little Garden. This year’s ones are much bigger and, as you can see, the bees are enjoying them.

It’s only the buds and leaves of the sunflower that turn towards the sun. Once the head of the plant comes into bloom it remains facing the east where the sun rises.

Sunflowers have been cultivated for over 4,500 years. Because the whole of the plant, including leaves, stalks, and roots is edible, they were grown as food in North America before other crops such as corn became common.

Each flower head is actually made up of about 2,000 florets. These tiny flowers are packed full of nectar which makes them attractive to bees.

Sunflowers have a remarkable ability to absorb toxins, including radiation, which is why they were planted at Chernobyl and Fukushima after nuclear disasters.

A useful plant the bright sunflower
where bees good nectar can devour

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Sexy Snails?

No snails have been seen in my garden for months. We used to hear the sound of thrushes dropping snails on the brick steps to break their shells open, but not in recent years. Actually we haven’t seen many thrushes either. The shortage of snails may be because there’s less moisture in the garden these days. They need moisture to survive, and water is the main constituent of the mucus trails they leave behind. Our common garden snails are immigrants. In 1869 snail eggs were found among a shipment of salmon eggs from Britain, and were lovingly released by Cantabrian settlers as a reminder of home.

This morning I was surprised to find two snails cuddled together on the brick path, and I wondered whether they might be mating?

Snails on the path

Snails are hermaphrodites and they link up by each shooting a small stony dart into the other. This sperm can be stored for a long time – literally saved for a rainy day. They fertilise their eggs only on wetter days more suited to egg laying.

I thought I would remove the snails rather than leave them on the path where someone might tread on them. When I went back to scoop them up one had disappeared. The other is now securely ensconced among the clippings in the green wheelie bin – not much moisture there for her/him/them.

I wonder if the second snail
is wet enough to leave a trail

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Sunday Morning

Significantly Hot is the new phrase that’s entered our weather forecasts, surely the fault of the Climate Crisis. I knew yesterday that today’s temperature was expected to reach 28°.

Awake just after 5am I get up, go to the loo, and give the importunate cat his breakfast.

Back in bed I turn to RNZ National (on my MP3 player with headphones, so I don’t wake Stephen) and catch the end of Witi Ihimaera’s Bulibasha read by George Henare. George is now 76 and living in Australia. I hope he’s managing to avoid Covid there.

At 5.30am there’s a regional weather forecast, but nothing for the main centres, nothing to confirm that Christchurch will be Significantly Hot.

Kris Kristofferson sings of Sunday Morning Coming Down – not referring to our temperatures.

Next is Andrew McCallum reading from his Bob Dylan’s New Zealand, marking Bob’s 80th birthday last year. I’ve heard previous episodes of this and adore Andrew’s style. His short sentences are poetic, and his literary allusions resonant of Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize. Andrew mentions 70s Broadsheet Mothers – I was one of those! He talks of the Daughters of Circe, and so much more. I must download the programmes and listen again.

It’s 6am. I’ll hear the news then try to sleep again, but there’s silence, broken eventually by Nina Simone singing that she Shall be Released. Lloyd Scott reappears at 6.04am, apologises for the delay but gives no explanation. I listen to the News: Novak Djokovic in detention, fire still burning in the Far North. Finally a weather forecast, but the main centres are missing.

I get up, start the day. It will definitely be Significantly Hot!

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Toadstool Token

Every garden needs a lemon tree. That was the tradition in Auckland, but it’s not so simple here in Christchurch. One of the first trees I planted was a Meyer Lemon, but sadly it succumbed to frost. Its replacement was given a more sheltered spot, but a harsh winter did for that one too. We then placed a large metal barrel on the front porch and planted a tree there, which produced lemons over many years. I fed it regularly with citrus food and worm pee, and topped up the soil with compost.

However, in recent years it declined, did not respond to extra care, and last year I considered throwing it all out and starting again. In spring it produced a few green leaves and I was hopeful. I scraped out some of the top layer of soil, replaced it with potting mix, and bought a few pansies to keep it company. After flowering for a while the leaves of these became mouldy. I replaced them with hardier home-grown pansies which are doing okay, but today I found a toadstool growing beside them.

I’m confident this is a sign of sick soil, and I need to admit defeat, empty the whole barrel, and start again. The old soil will need to go in the red wheelie bin and something new will eventually be planted. Luckily we now have a substitute lemon tree growing in the back garden. This was a cutting taken from a neighbour’s tree before their house was demolished post-quake, which has survived and produced fruit.

The toadstool shows the time is here
this lemon tree will disappear

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Floral Friday

Today’s flower is a gladiolus, with many tomato flowers behind it. I planted four heirloom tomatoes, with names like Bloody Butcher and Cocktail True Red. They are probably too close together, but are flourishing and all have flowers and small tomatoes on them.

The glad counts as an heirloom too, because I’m not sure where it came from, but these pale orange ones have appeared in our garden each year. Maybe they’ve been here longer than we have?

I’m happy to have flowers and veges in the same bed. The only place I keep them separated is in the raised bed, which is limited to veges and herbs only, although the occasional volunteer flower sneaks in.

My plants all nestle in together
support each other through bad weather

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Glad-napper foiled

I noticed someone loitering just outside our side fence, so I walked up the path and peered over, to see a women about to break off one of the gladioli flowering there. I said “Excuse me” and she jumped! She said confusedly “I wasn’t going to grab it. I was just grabbing it for a friend.” and she hurriedly scuttled across the road and away.

If she’d stayed a little longer I would have asked her why she wanted the flower for her friend, and quite possibly have cut it for her. I’ve done this previously when I’ve found people trying to break off roses. I’m happy to share my flowers, but I like people to ask first.

I scared the would-be flower thief
and so our interchange was brief

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Floral Friday

“What happened to our gypsophila?” Stephen asked me. We used to have a lovely bush of white gypsophila which was very useful for making posies. Sadly it disappeared a few years ago.

This morning I was at Portstone Garden Centre, actually in the café for an end-of-year meeting, and afterwards I went to seek gypsophila. They didn’t have any white, but I was pleased to buy four plants of Gypsy Pink.

Gypsy Pink Gypsophila

I managed to find four spots in the garden to plant them, and was surprised that the label said they were “designer flowers”, as that phrase has quite another meaning for me. Some years ago I wanted to buy artificial flowers (I now wonder why!) and asked at a shop for false flowers that didn’t pretend to look like real flowers. “Oh, you mean designer flowers” said the woman, and ever since that’s what designer flowers have meant to me. I shall just have to ignore the label on the gypsophila.

I’m looking forward to evening showers
to nurture my new-planted flowers

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