Calendars for Sale!

Ginger Ninja 2019

The price is the same as last year – £8.50 per calendar, plus postage and packing. This varies according to where you live:
£2.50 for within the UK, £4.50 for Europe, £5.50 for the US and Canada, £6.00 for Australia and New Zealand. Continue reading


César, le chiot Rottweiler né en Slovaquie, vendu en Belgique, rescapé de justesse d’une broncho-pneumonie infectieuse — [ Vetcaetera… ]

Reblogging this post about the evils of puppy farming. I think there is a translation tool you can use with WordPress if you want it.

Là, il a plutôt bonne mine, César. Mais, du haut de ses 2 petits mois, il vient de passer 4 jours entre la vie et la mort. Sans la mobilisation 24h/24 de toute une équipe, il n’aurait jamais été là pour cette photo aujourd’hui. Acheté en animalerie il y a 10 jours à peine, hospitalisé […]

via César, le chiot Rottweiler né en Slovaquie, vendu en Belgique, rescapé de justesse d’une broncho-pneumonie infectieuse — [ Vetcaetera… ]

Hello Hilda

My lovely Catsitter Birgit sent me a photo of MasterB. It was the first email I opened this morning. My boy looked content and relaxed which is wonderful. The downside was the picture made me immediately homesick. Gosh I am missing my boy.
Over the last two days we have been up and down in Wellington. Yesterday we started at ground level, walking along the harbour. It was Armistice Day, and there was a certain military presence among the shorts and ice creams.

Military presence

We resisted the kayaks and paddle boards, but stopped to look at sculptures and buildings.


Into the wind

There was evidence of yarn bombing.

Yarn bombed clawed foot

Our meanderings meant we were still in the harbour area at lunchtime, so we sat in the shade near the boathouses and ate our packed lunches.



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Lest We Forget

I am rather sorry to be missing the commemorations to mark the centenary of the end of the First a World War. The poppies at the Tower of London four years ago were immensely moving. I have one of them, and helped to remove them from the vote after the 11th November 2014. The spray of poppies that attracted so much attention then is at the front of the IWM in London. There are many photos online. The Tower has been filling the moat with candles. Thanks to Celia, I have this photograph.


. I should have loved to have seen the sand pictures Danny Boyle and a team of artists are creating on beaches around the UK. I saw him interviewed about the project a while ago, and it sounded extremely moving. Continue reading


99271CF6-8C82-404F-94C7-7CF730C9B97DTwo days into my visit to Wellington, and two days of contrasting weather. Yesterday it rained. When we left the house it was quite light rain, but by the time the train drew into the city station it was gathering force.

Wet weather in Wellington

Fortunately our main goal was the museum, not a stroll along the harbour. Nadia introduced me to some new spots, and then we had an early and d kicious lunch. At Te Papa museum Nadia parked herself in the café and got on with some writing. I joined the queue to see the exhibition about Gallipoli.

Gallipoli, Te Papa

I’m not sure how long I spent in the exhibition, but it was nearer two hours than one. It is very well done, using the stories of individuals to give a picture of the whole. By the time I reached the end I was a paid up admirer of William Malone, and my heart ached for Charlotte, the nurse who followed her brother to Gallipoli, only learning of his death four months after it happened.
Normally two hours is about the limit of my concentration in a museum or gallery, but there was a small exhibition commemorating the 125 years since No women got the vote, and another small one on immigration. I spent quite a while in the exhibition on refugees who have been made welcome in NZ. In these times where refugees are frequently repulsed and demonised by the very societies which have helped to cause the chaos and fear they are fleeing, it is heartening to read of those who have managed to make new lives in a welcoming country.
The rain had continued to fall while we were in Te Papa, and it was hoods up, heads down all the way to the station.

Wellington railway station

We made it home via the supermarket and changed out of clothes that were by now very wet. Continue reading

Railway journey to Wellington

The opening lines of that song were playing in my head, perhaps influenced by the few tracks from Paul Simon’s Graceland that were played on a loop at the motel restaurant last night.
For the first time since arriving in New Zealand two weeks ago, I was alone. Properly alone, not in a different room to Lyn and Malcolm, not a short distance away visiting the city.
After breakfast at Otorohanga in a lovely café we found yesterday we parted company, they to drive back to Auckland, I to wait for the train to Wellington and my friend Nadine.
They have been great hosts, and my head is spinning with the images of the places we have been. I get the chance to catch up with them again at the very end of my holiday before I fly out of Auckland and begin the long journey home. So a new chapter of my holiday began. It felt exciting. I was rather enjoying sitting on a bench on the empty platform, watching the occasional long freight train trundle by, alone with my thoughts.

Freight train

It didn’t last long. A man wearing a hat approached me. He had a box under his arm, and on his t shirt were the words Otorohanga ambassador. It turned out he was the volunteer good citizen who made sure I and my luggage boarded the train. He attached a luggage label to my bag and handed me the stub. Establishing I came from England, he launched into stories about Her Maj and her connections with the town. I didn’t have the heart to tell him I am not a royalist. He then quizzed me about where I had been and what I had seen. He produced a map of the town and told me a story about a man called Harry Harrod, kept an eye on my bag when I went off to the loo. A loo with very good tiling and a lot of info on the outside.

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Going underground

This evening is beautiful and so was this morning. I think the middle of the day was too, but we spent much of it underground continuing our visit to the Waitomo Caves. Photos will follow, or at least I hope they will, I haven’t looked at them yet, so not tonight.
The caves are astounding. Beautiful natural creations of lime, stalactites dripping slowly onto you as you move along the walkways, stalagmites, growing slowly from the floor; one cubic centimetre per hundred years. You mustn’t touch, but looking is enough. The guide on our final tour this afternoon told us how when the caves were first opened and visitors were guided by candlelight, taking around six hours to cover an area we were in for a sixth of that time, they were allowed to break bits of the stalactites off as souvenirs. Then she told us that one passageway had recently been closed to visitors as some had not respected the place and had also been snapping bits off.
On this morning’s tour we watched as the group doing black water rafting drifted by in the water below us. I wasn’t tempted. The landscape is a network of caves. The Waitomo caves are managed by the descendants of the tribes who lived in the area, and our guide this afternoon was a descendant of the man who had first found the entrance into that particular set of caves. Yesterday’s trip to see the glow worms’ (more correctly maggots) was busy. Apparently they can take up to 50 people a time on a tour. By contrast for this afternoon’s tour the group size is a maximum of 18, I don’tknow what the maximum size was for this morning’s tour but we were lucky to be ina group of seven. It was the guide then who said they should more accurately be called maggot tours, but that doesn’t work for the marketing. Continue reading

Bloody Brexit and a Beautiful Blue

Honestly, you travel halfway round the globe and you can still meet a Brexiteer. It least it wasn’t Arron Banks, yet another sorry apology for a human being who bankrolled the Leave campaign. Obviously I am not able to watch Channel 4 news here in NZ, but I did see, via Twitter, this man, who does not seem to have the barest acquaintance with truth, being vilely rude to Fatima Manji. Just google Banks Channel 4 news and you can see it too. He accuses Channel 4 news of having an agenda. Yes it does, an agenda to get to the bottom of stories. Banks’ agenda, shamefully assisted by the BBC, is to obfuscate. What has happened to the BBC? I used to be so proud of it. But it has let Banks get away with an interview on the Andrew Marr show so full of inconsistencies it is worse than a leaky sieve.

Fatima Manji remained polite and pleasant throughout Bank’s boorishness for which she must surely deserve an OBE. Most of us would have clocked him. However, anyone watching that encounter who still thought Banks credible or even likeable must have serious issues. And that is frightening, because there seem to be sizeable numbers of people who condone his bullying, even smile upon it. He’s a bad boy of Brexit, a bit of a lad, all right at heart. But he’s not, he’s a nasty nationalist who wouldn’t understand patriotism if it leapt up and bit him. Is this truly the face of my company try’s future? Continue reading

Elastic time

It’s been a busy day. We left Auckland just before 8.30 and have been on the road. I am lucky enough not to have to do any driving. I sat in the back seat and looked at the scenery. Honestly, NZ is so bloody beautiful an ugly town is almost a welcome contrast. One ugly thing which wasn’t welcome was a road accident. It must have happened seconds before we arrived on the scene; a small white car squashed like a concertina, a lorry driver sitting at the side of the road looking shaken and upset. From what we could or see, or were willing to look at, it was the the car driver’s fault. Little comfort for the lorry driver who presumably will have to get back in his cab and drive long distances in order to pay the bills and support himself and any dependents.
Lyn showed remarkable steel and was able to continue driving. I reckon I’d have been shaking and crawling along at ten miles an hour if at all. When we stopped to use the loos and take photos in the town of corrugated iron sculptures, I was slightly jumpy about even crossing the road. Continue reading

Joining the dots

Each new place I visit helps to join the dots. It’s all very well reading the guide books, but being somewhere, for obvious reasons, brings a place alive. We stopped at Waitangi when we were north and I am so glad we did. Although it was a whistle stop visit in a place I could have gladly spent most of the day, it made a big impression on me and since then I have heard about the treaty and its signing several times more.

The Treaty House

Info board

Warrior sparrow

War boats

Meeting House

Waitangi beach and flag pole

It all helps get my head around the history of this very young country. As did the visit to Tane Mahuta and Cape Reinga. Yesterday’s museum visit made so much more sense because of the other places Lyn and Malcolm have taken me to, and as well as joining the dots, I feel I am starting to colour in the background. Continue reading

A Different Kind of Day

Lyn dropped me off for a day of solo sightseeing. No prizes for where I headed first of all.

Museum this way


I booked myself a place to see the Maori cultural performance which was delivered with panache and humour, taking us through some 800 years of history.

Maori performance

Maori performance

I also booked a place on the highlights tour. Our guide, a volunteer, was a delightfully enthusiastic woman called Pam. As there were only three of us in the group, it made for an intimate experience. The museum covers the history of New Zealand, natural history and is also the War Museum. From the windows Pam pointed out the Garden of Remembrance with over 800 white crosses representing some of the many servicemen (and some women who went as nurses) who died in the First World War. There were some 58,000 New Zealand ‘casualties’ of the First World War, out of around 98,000 servicemen, of whom around 16,000 died and 41,000 were ‘wounded’.

Field of Remembrance

The whole tour was informative and engaging. I went back to take a closer look at some pieces when it ended, including the Honatui meeting house.

Detail from Hotunui meeting house

Without Pam’s explanation, I should not have understood that when I went inside it I was entering Honatui’s body, the struts of the roof being his ribs, and the spine of the roof being, well his spine. The long arms on the front of the building are his arms, while his head is at the apex above the front entrance. Continue reading