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Archive for the ‘Cottage Life’ Category

Floral Friday

These Canterbury Bells or Campanula were planted beside our pool many years ago. They have been almost smothered by ivy, but I was pleased to see their flowers again this week.

There are several legends about these flowers. One says that three evil men were transformed by a priest into swans and cursed to fly without rest for over a thousand years. Then, when flying over Canterbury (U.K.), the men heard the ringing of church bells and felt so remorseful about their past deeds that the curse was broken. With the spell lifted, the men fell to earth at Canterbury where they were discovered by North African scholar Saint Augustine, who led them into a church. Where the men trod, tiny campanulas grew, and the flower was subsequently dedicated to Saint Augustine and later to England’s Saint Thomas a Becket who was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral.

Another legend tells that campanulas were so named because of their resemblance to the bells carried by pilgrims to Canterbury.

The flower is also known as Venus’s looking glass. According to myth, Venus’s mirror bestowed beauty upon anyone reflected in it. However, one day the goddess lost her mirror, and it was found by a shepherd who proceeded to gazed at himself in the mirror. It so angered Cupid that his mother’s mirror had been used by a mortal that Cupid knocked the glass from the shepherd’s hand, and where it landed sprang forth a campanula.

So, there are several suggestions as to where the flowers got their name. They certainly seem appropriate for gardens in our Canterbury.

Just where they came from who can tell?
But in this province they’re our bell.

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Courgette Cropping

The first of our courgettes/zucchini were ready to pick, and serendipitously a recipe for Zucchini with feta, walnuts, and sage, from Emma Boyd of The Spinoff turned up in my Facebook feed.

Stephen liked the look of it and offered to make it for lunch. We have walnuts, and sage growing in the garden, so the only extra required was feta, which we had in the frig. If only we had a goat we might have had homegrown feta too.

Courgette lunch

My chef produced this courgette dish
which I found to be quite delish

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Mint is a useful herb with properties that aid digestion and relieve headaches. It is a perennial with tiny flowers.

Mint flowers

All the information suggests it should be confined to a container, and we first planted it in a concrete tub, but have since allowed it to grow in other places as well.

Greek mythology traces mint to the story of Pluto/Hades, god of the underworld, who fell in love with a nymph named Mintha. This enraged Pluto’s wife Persephone, who stomped on Mintha. Pluto rescued her by turning her into a plant, one that has a fresh appealing scent when crushed. This story is mentioned in Ovid’s Metamorphoses.

Mint was used in ancient Greek funeral rites, along with rosemary and myrtle, presumably to mask the smell of the dead, and that may be why it came to be associated with Pluto/Hades.

It’s been around since ancient times
and features in some Latin rhymes

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Covid restrictions may mean we go out less frequently, especially until we’ve had our booster shots which are scheduled for February 15th. This is the date which is now expected to be the Omicron peak. When we booked our boosters I asked if the date could be brought forward if the time between 2nd and 3rd doses was reduced to three months, but was told my date was only three weeks away and they wouldn’t have capacity to re-schedule. While cafés are still open it may be best to avoid anywhere with people except places we absolutely need to go.

I’m lucky because I eat extremely well at home. Planning and preparing meals is something Stephen enjoys doing, and I haven’t cooked dinner for some years. When we were both employed I worked full time while he had a part time role, so it made sense for him to cook the evening meal. When I left paid work I offered to share the cooking and did it a few times, but I’m not a keen cook and Stephen soon said he would prefer to take over, which I happily accepted. I do usually prepare my own breakfast and lunch, although yesterday’s lunch was leftover soup from the evening before.

I hasten to point out that I do the baking, cleaning, and gardening, so I’m not totally a lady of leisure. I do wonder how we would fare if Stephen became ill with Covid, but there are some pre-prepared meals in the freezer, and I am capable of following a recipe if I have to. He has a birthday next week and has expressed a desire for a new cookbook, so we will need to go and browse at Scorpio – socially distanced of course.

There’s an interesting article in the Guardian from an Australian woman warning New Zealanders what we can expect when Omicron surges. She suggests that our social life will change and we may see less of family and friends. Our contact with family is all by Zoom these days anyway, and I expect I’ll still see a few close friends. If the weather is good we can sit outside. It will be interesting to see what happens with the groups I usually go to regularly. Experience has shown me I’m not interested in meeting by Zoom for any group of more than four.

The Red traffic light system is different to the lockdowns we had for previous variants, leaving decisions about socialising more up to the individual. Freedom to go out may also mean freedom for the virus to travel. Apparently it hasn’t got to Christchurch yet, but can’t be far away.

The news this morning says modellers are suggesting there could be 50,000 daily cases within 10 days, and possibly 400 deaths by 1 May. I’ve been repeating the mantra Whatever happens is perfect, and I vacillate between thinking I won’t go out at all, and thinking that if it lasts for the expected three months I will need some outings for my mental health.

Our social life will have to change
and we won’t be so free to range

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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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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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