Archive for the ‘Cottage Life’ Category

What’s the oldest item you have in your possession?  I have two different items that are relics of my Rout family.  Both were given to me by distant relatives the first time I met them, rather than being handed down through my parents.

William’s New Testament

The first is a New Testament presented to my Great-Great-Uncle William Rout when he left Tasmania for New Zealand in 1884, by the “boys of the Bible and 1st Classes attending Princes Square Congregational Sunday School”.  It was given to me by two elderly women cousins in whose home he’d lived up to his death in 1932.  William is a special uncle because he is the father of Ettie Rout.  These cousins also gave me a letter he wrote in which he mentioned Ettie.  When I first met them they immediately recognised me as family because, they said, I have the Rout nose.

The second item is a pair of Bodley teacups and saucers which once belonged to my Great Grandmother Susan Tunnecliffe Rout.  These were given to me by Joyce Tolerton, my first cousin once removed, when I visited her in Russell in 1985.

Susan’s cups and saucers

They may well have been a hundred years old then, and they are hand painted with handles attached by hand.  Joyce also gave me several postcards written to her 1907-14, by my Grandmother Mabel Rout.  In one of these she mentions Georgie aged three (my father).

All of these are important family mementoes.  With the recent wildfires near Nelson I pondered what possessions I might take if I had to evacuate hastily in an emergency, but none of these family items were immediately on my list.  While I’m fond of them I’m not sure my daughters would consider them as important as I do, or even remember they exist.

They have significance to me
these relics of my family


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Delightful Lights

Regular readers know that I am fond of flamingoes.   As I’ve loved them for more than twenty years I like to take some responsibility for their current popularity.  I was pleased to be given a set of three solar flamingo lights.   These are perched outside my kitchen window and they give a friendly greeting when I come home.

Pink flamingoes

After dark their heads and tails are lit up.

Flamingoes at night

These pink flamingoes welcome me
day or night, they’re good to see

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Floral Friday

A friend gave me this lovely hanging basket full of petunias (thank you, Jo).  The colours are great because they match many of my other flowers, especially the hollyhocks.    I’ve been watering the basket every morning, and though the petunias have been battered by strong winds, they quickly perk up again.

Petunias are a genus of flowers in the Solanaceae family that originated in South America.  The Solanaceae family also includes tomatoes, chili peppers, and tobacco.  It’s the petunia’s resemblance to tobacco that earned it its name which comes from the native American word petun which means “a tobacco that does not make a good smoke”.  Petunias symbolize the desire to spend time with someone because you find their company soothing and peaceful.

It’s far from being junior
the colourful petunia

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Window Watcher

I like to pick flowers from the garden and bring them inside, but I never pick hollyhocks.  They are more suited to displaying their stately stems outside in the garden.  The wind encouraged one to explore inside our kitchen window.

It looked so good peering in at us, I could hardly bear to nudge it back and close the window.

This hollyhock is welcome to
come inside and enjoy the view.


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Keeping Fit

I am not a sporty type.  Sport has never interested me much, and even less as I’ve got older.  At school we were taught and obliged to play cricket, hockey, basketball, etc.  I was not good at any of these, and not inclined to take much interest.

I remember gym sessions at school, and being told to jump over a bench/horse.  I managed this with poor grace, and one physical education teacher told me she thought I had a mental block against such activities.  After that she more or less left me alone.

I rode a bike for many years, not so much after wearing a helmet became compulsory.  I’ve tried a variety of dancing and exercise classes, and even went to a gym for a while.  The Dances of Universal Peace were something I did for more than thirty years with various group leaders.  Sadly there is no longer a regular group in Christchurch.  I enjoyed Iyengar Yoga, always in a beginners’ class, then the school moved to a venue further out of town and I gave up.  Walking’s been my main exercise for years, along with gardening.  I attend a weekly class of gentle exercise for seniors, which I walk a kilometre to get to.  It’s always seemed to me absurd to take a car to get to exercise, but that may just be my subconscious avoiding more.

For years I’ve done ten minutes of daily yoga stretches.  These have sometimes been abandoned for months at a time, but I’ve not missed a day in the last two years.  Word puzzles and writing blogs keep at least my brain well exercised.  What exercise do you enjoy?

I’m really not a fan of sport
you’ll never see me on the court.

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Favoured Furniture

Our tutor asked us to write about an item of furniture.  Here’s my effort:

I inherited the Morris chair
from my Mother’s friend
a rod across the back
meant you could recline if you wished
the tweed covering was worn
holes eventually appeared
refurbishment was required

I took an upholstery class
at the local High School
the curved seat
lifted from its base
squeezed into the back
of my aged Austin
I chose green corded velvet
learned to pleat and do deep buttoning
with base re-varnished it looked like new

When we emigrated the chair came too
I’d loved it for years
but it didn’t fit our new home
I craved a La-Z-Boy
where I could put my feet up
instead of using a footstool

I listed my chair on Trade Me
Wingnut Films won the auction
my chair went north to Wellington
I’ve looked in vain at the cinema
hoping to see it in a Hobbit house
or the Rivendell throne room
but no, my chair is not yet a film star

Perhaps Peter Jackson is waiting
for just the right role
for a green pre-loved Morris chair


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Favourite Fruit

Cherries, apricots, nectarines – I love the stone fruits that are available at this time of year.  One reason is that they are such a symbol of summer and not available all year round as some fruits are.

Our cherry harvest this year was disappointing.  Heavy rains as the fruit was ripening caused them to split and become mouldy.  The birds ate them anyway.  Currently we’re enjoying cherries from the supermarket.  The price is reasonable, but all the plastic packaging is a worry..

Earlier this month we drove to the Horotane Valley to buy delectable tree-ripened apricots.  My childhood home in Manchester Street had an enormous apricot tree which was always laden.  We used to gorge ourselves on fresh apricots, give heaps away, and my mother preserved many jars of them.  I’ve planted two apricot trees in the Cottage garden.  The first, planted in 1991, had some fruit the first few years, but nothing recently.  The second, planted in 2001, had a label that said it required cross pollination with another apricot species, but they didn’t seem to hit it off.  When this second one has produced the occasional fruit they appeared to be golden queen peaches.

I also planted a semi-dwarf nectarine in 1991.  Some years it has two or three fruit, but it has failed to flourish and hardly looks any bigger than when it was first planted.

Presumably these trees lack suitable care and feeding, or maybe they don’t like our sandy soil.  It’s disappointing because our old garden in Auckland had an abundant orchard, which never needed any extra care, perhaps because of the wonderful volcanic soil.

At least we have a fruitful feijoa, a cheerful cherry (weather permitting), and adolescent apple, and a wealth of walnuts.

Our apricots and nectarines
don’t dominate the garden scenes.

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