Posts Tagged ‘Ruth Gardner’

This author was new to me, recommended by two different friends.  An event twenty-two years ago changed detective Frank Mackey’s life, and when new facts emerge he and his family are thrown into more than their usual turmoil.  There are gritty details about life in a poor area of Dublin, and about abusive relationships.  He’d tried to escape from his origins, but circumstances meant he had to go back.  It’s a fast-paced thriller, that keeps the reader on edge, with wonderful characterizations of a diverse cast.  Anyone who likes a well-written suspenseful mystery would enjoy this one.

All kinds of things are going down
around the darker side of town

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We thoroughly enjoyed our five-course degustation dinner at Baretta.  At $39 each it was excellent value.  The small plates were beautifully presented and extremely tasty.

The ambiance was elegant and attractive.  Our five courses were: Cauliflower and bacon soup; pulled pork croquettes with horseradish cream; prawn and swordfish bouillabaisse; lamb rump on pumpkin puree with red wine jus; cookies and cream bavarois.  Doesn’t it all sound delicious?  Although the restaurant is promoted as being Italian, what we ate was more classic European.  We’ve had a degustation meal before and we love it.  No need to make any decisions, and five small plates are more than enough to satisfy.  On Tuesday evening we were one of just three couples dining, and there were no later bookings.  I do wonder how even a restaurant as good as this can survive in central Christchurch at present.  We will certainly go there again.

It would be hard to find a better
meal than this one at Baretta.

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When the oven light died Stephen replaced it with a spare we had in stock.  We then decided we’d better buy another spare, or even two.  Last time we’d got one from Radcliffe Electrical in Tuam Street at a cost of about three dollars.  This morning when we went there they were out of stock and suggested we go round the corner to R Redpath Ltd.  This we duly did.  They were also out of stock of the Philips but offered us a Crompton one which they assured us was just the same.  We said we’d take two, and were shocked when we got to the checkout to find they were $8.30 each – more than twice what we’d paid before.  We gulped and paid.

Later this morning we were in the lighting section of Mitre 10 Mega, and on the off-chance I inquired whether they stocked the Philips oven light bulbs.  Yes, they did, at a price of $3.98 each.  We bought two, then returned to Redpaths, and requested a refund for the earlier purchase.  This they happily gave, but it will be a long time before I go there again.

The same light bulb at twice the price
is definitely not so nice


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Horses on the beach

Actually they were trotting sulkies we saw on our beach walk this morning.  The rain threatened but kept away for the duration.  The sun shone and even felt warm at times, although the southerly also made its presence felt.  Hats and gloves were needed for walkers, but the horses were warmed by their exercise.  It’s months since we’ve seen horses on the beach.  I guess it depends on the tides.  Today the high tide was well past and there was plenty of firm sand to walk or trot on.

They trotted past us at a pace
enjoying their shoreline race

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This is a beguiling book, with a hint of mystery, and an other-worldly dimension.  It’s the beautifully written story of two different women with two different lives – or is it?  The author weaves a clever web around an idyllic life in a remote village on a Greek island, yet there is a lurking presence that threatens to upset everything.  The story presents as a romantic fantasy with great characters, but is so much more.  I’ll be looking out for other novels by Rosie Thomas.

An earthquake and tsunami mean
some changes to what might have been.

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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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Tuesday was a perfect clear sunny day for travelling on the TranzAlpine.  It was ten years since we’d last been on this scenic train.  While we waited to board I noticed a sign that made me do a double take.


The mountains looked absolutely beautiful:

Snowy mountain near Craigieburn Station

There was snow beside the track in many places:

Snow beside the railway track

I put on headphones to listen to the commentary, which was clear and slow – a good model for my Avon Loop walk.  Usually I go four to five hours between breakfast and lunch, but travel stimulates the appetite, and I was feeling hungry by 9.30am despite having had porridge at 6am.  The cafe car had reasonably priced food plus I’d taken a flask of tea.  Healthy eating regimes are not easy to keep up on holiday.  The open air viewing carriage was shut for the first while because of black ice, but we were happy to stay in our warm carriage and enjoy the view through the wide windows.  We passed Cass Station, immortalised by Rita Angus, and learned that Cass now has a population of just one.

Bealey Hotel at centre

Arthur’s Pass

After a five minute stop at Arthur’s Pass we went through the Otira Tunnel which is eight and a half kilometres long.  Once we were through the scene was breathtaking, with snow on the trees, and we were soon amongst cloud.  There were pukeko, and some sheep, but they weren’t very woolly.  Perhaps they were the sweeter mountain sheep?  We saw no lambs on the westward journey, but when we returned two days later there were lambs gambolling in the fields, a delight to see.

This trip has a wonderful array of scenery, snowy mountains, rivers, viaducts, tunnels, and clouds.

Ruth & Stephen at Greymouth Railway Station

If you haven’t been on the TranzAlpine recently I would thoroughly recommend it.

This trip is truly stupendous
with scenery that’s tremendous.

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