Strength in the night….

This past week…
What a week.
Trying to process it all has been huge.
The demise of the master.
Then the destruction of a masterpiece.
There were not too many Kiwis who will forget the time 00:02 and the date 14 November 2016.
The terror of being awoken by the ominous rumbling and the violent shaking and the darkness and the unknown damage being wrought around each of us.
For those of us fortunate enough to not lose power there was immediate and frantic checking in on Facebook and Geonet to see what was going on and ensuring loved ones were safe.
I was so grateful to have Eilidh here with me.
She and I kept each other company as unbelievably my children and pups slept through the whole night!
Texts, messages & phone calls flew between family and friends.
These vital connections helped maintain a certain calm amidst the chaos.

A sleepless night ahead as the aftershocks hit, the anxiety that any of these might be a bigger one.
In the few hours following we experienced 6 quakes larger than magnitude 5, and over the week since, 357 aftershocks over magnitude 4.
Reports unfolded as the morning developed.
And the reports have gotten worse with each daylight hour.
The enormity of the power released is unfathomable.
The east coast sea bed thrust up 2 metres with such force and speed that sea life had no chance to escape.
The GPS station at Cape Campbell was moved 2 meters north.
Towns completely cut off, isolated by huge landslides and destroyed roads, rail lines twisted and moved like cotton candy.
Two people died.
A miracle there were no more.
Many others injured and traumatised.

I managed about 2 hours sleep, then Mahalia unknowingly woke me at 6am cuz she knew I was planning to go to the gym.
Ah! The normality of life.
As Monday unfolded, unraveling of the disaster gave clarity to the desperation of the situation for the people on the East Coast.
Especially those in Kaikoura who were totally trapped.
Then Waiau, then we realised that pretty much most of the top of the South Island was not only isolated from the rest of the country but also from each other.
Then came the tsunami alerts.
The King Tides.
And then came the rain.
Flooding in Nelson, Wellington, more damage, more chaos.
I thought we had escaped pretty much unscathed but then the call came from down home.
Seb & Phoebe were evacuating by boat after watching a huge landslide flow down the hill surrounding the house & buildings and covering the road metres deep in wet slurry.
I was just grateful they were safe.
There have been many things to be thankful for in amongst all of this.
Thankful they had a home to come to.
Thankful for friends who provided emergency vehicles and household provisions until we can retrieve their things.
Now to add to the merry-go-round of my life I begin the EQC dance as we begin organising the clean up.

In the scale of the events, ours is but a small portion.
But in our personal lives it is rather devastating to say the least.
I have been standing so strong in the past months.
I have gained my warrior crown.
I must admit that on this day it slipped.
But I am proud of myself, because I never let it fall to the ground.
I caught it and let it wash in the tears of the moment.
Then I set it straight and stood up and faced the moment head on.

To sign off in true Kiwi style
Heres some humour for the occasion.
Check out this wonderful rendition by Jason Gunn.
Thanks for keeping us smiling Jason 🙂

Food Glorious Food


Food is a huge focus in most folks lives.
It’s a pretty important thing.
And everyone has a view point about food.
Some don’t care, they just eat anything and everything.
Some care fixatedly and are extremely particular.
Some have deadly allergies
Some have intolerances
Some are just plain picky and ride on the back of those who have those allergies.

Me, well I just like food.
But I am very particular as well.
My food has to be good.
Really good!
I won’t pay for crappy fast food unless that is the absolute last option and I am at deaths door!

I have cooked and baked nutritious delicious food all my married life.
I have literally fed armies, fed the multitudes.
But when Tim was killed, my spirit to cook died too.
My confidence disappeared.
I relied on the kids to produce many of our meals.
It’s take me a while to get back on the planet in that regards.
Now we are off the farm and usually only 2-4 of us at home our meals have changed, simplified.
I use a lot of vegetables and not a lot of meat.
Because one of us is vegetarian, I tend to cook around her and then add meat according to what rest of us want or need.
And actually, I am finding that I don’t need or want a lot of meat any more.
I am ‘fussy’ in some respects which makes it so easy when I go out.
I don’t eat pork or venison because I don’t like it and I don’t eat mutton or lamb because no-one can cook it like Tim did 😉
I also try and keep my food as unprocessed as possible.
And I keep my sugar intake to a minimum.
I’m not religious about it, I have done being a slave to it.
Food is to be enjoyed, but in that enjoyment I try and make wise choices.

In our city house we have an oven which I am not familiar with, I hate using it, and can only usually succeed to get it operating if Mahalia is here to operate the switches!
So I cook mainly using the mini bench oven, the slow cookers, the rice cooker and heavy cast iron cookware on the gas stove.
We live on salads and stir fries of varying combinations depending on the seasons, combining them with potatoes in many disguises, noodles, rice, buns, etc.
The slow cooker is also a brilliant stand by, I can prepare a nutritious economical meal which can often last us for more than several days, once again combining with whichever carb you choose to make each meal different & interesting.

I don’t need to turn out great quantities of baking anymore so 6 muffins cook nicely in the mini oven.
These were made to Mahalia’s request using pumpkin puree, halloumi cheese and toasted seeds.
They tasted really good!
And when you have roast veggies left over what better way to use them up than bubble and squeak with some organic farm eggs lovingly squeezed from Marah’s chooks by my gorgeous little grand daughters 🙂

But being in the city also has another benefit.
We can eat other peoples cooking more often!
There are some wonderful cafes & restaurants here.
I especially love the cafe culture, the diverse range, the outdoor & street seating that our climate allows us to enjoy.
The thing I love about eating out is sharing.
Sharing time with friends.
Taking time out of the busyness of life and just stopping.
I love nothing better than to meet with a friend and spend time enjoying their company along with good food and great coffees.
I love exploring and finding new treasure troves, and returning to old favourites.
There’s one or three I have frequented recently deserve a mention –

The Baker’s Coffee Shop makes excellent coffees & exquisite pastries onsite.
Mahalia and I treated ourselves the other day, it is probably not a place I need to go too often because the pastries are just wickedly wonderful and self restraint is extremely difficult 😉

7010 Your Local is another fav.
The cool thing here is that the food is different every day.
But each time it is just so good.

I have to make particular mention of the relatively new La Capilla Restaurant.
Owners by head chef Takeshi, one of the best chefs in our region.
I recently took my lad out there for a special lunch.
He said it was absolutely the best meal ever as he pretty much licked his plate clean 🙂
And of course, being a special lunch we couldn’t leave without sampling one of Takeshi’s delicious deserts each.
SO good!

The other absolute fav place of ours is East Street Vegetarian Cafe & Bar.
If I want to keep Mahalia happy I just suggest going there for lunch, or dinner, or dessert, or…….. any excuse really and she is very happy 🙂
It has the reputation of being the best vegetarian restaurant in NZ and I agree whole heartedly.
The ambience is retro and funky, the staff are super cool and the food is awesome.
Double thumbs up to this place.
Mains are exceptional and desserts are pretty darned good too.img_9824img_9825

A cafe that I don’t get too that often as it is on the other side of town is Blackbird Eatery.
It is tucked away inside a local gym and as it is only a couple of minutes further to the airport it is worth leaving a bit earlier for your flight so you can fuel up on the way.
It focuses on raw and fresh foods.
I was heading to the airport so enjoyed a get together with two of my girls here last week.
We did the afternoon tea sweet thing, the brownies were made from gf, df ingredients and were divine but we shoulda divided two among three of us as one each was a bit much for our relatively sugar free bodies.

I popped down to Christchurch this week.
It was a very impromptu visit so I didn’t rush about catching up with everyone like I often do.
Pretty much focused on the business to hand and getting some much needed rest.
But I did manage to share a couple of meals out whilst there.
A pre show snack at Rendezvous Hotel’s Junction Bar before going to Evita.
Everyone else was eating platters of deep fried bar food.
As I said further back, I am personally trying to make good choices and too much deep fried or sugary food is not a good choice for me right now.
This beetroot salad was wonderful, the buffalo yoghurt and hazel nuts mixed with roast onion and beetroot was just perfect.
What I really liked was that they were willing to accomodate my preferences and swap some ingredients for another.
I do have a couple of concessions which include the occasional glass of cider and a mocha.
The cider must not be apple, anything but apple!
And the mocha has got to be good – very hot, not lukewarm and milky -eeewk!
I walked on the Wildside with Nathan and enjoyed a Mandarin & Lime Cider while had had an Asahi beer.
He tried to convert me, but no, beers for me.
Joe’s Garage in Rangiora was our second choice for dinner.
But as the first choice was closed for staff training we opted for Joe’s.
It was a good choice.
Not too crowded while we were there so fairly peaceful, staff were great and the food was pretty darned good.
Nathan proclaimed the steak to be perfectly to his liking and my salmon was delectable.

I could not leave Joe’s without having a Killer Smoothie so had that for dessert.
My goodness, they are the absolute best smoothies.
Ever since my first one at the Sumner Joe’s Garage many years ago it is top of my menu choice whenever I have the fortune to find myself there.
It is basically yoghurt with black doris plums & honey.img_0155

Basically when it comes down to it, there is really nothing that surpasses sharing good food with good friends.

Daring greatly during difficult days


When you think the absolute worst thing to happen to you has already happened, yet another curved ball comes from left field and totally blind sides you.

In my current emotionally exhausted melancholic state I look back over my nearly 60 years and can readily recall some of the largest curved balls that have smashed into me. In amongst them smaller balls which hit with slightly less aggressive force and their bruises are sometimes not terribly visible until a trigger prompts their memory.

These balls have battered and bruised me. Some have near killed me. But I have always picked myself up, reached down, picked up the ball and run with it. Trying to run with the weight of these balls adding up over the years have resulted in a medical diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder.

In recent times I’ve been pitched some huge balls that have hit me fair in the gut. Smashed the wind clean out of me. Left me wondering how on earth I can carry on.

But I did, and I do. My natural instinct has been to recoil inwards, hold my pain, cradle it tight like a precious child, protecting it, kicking out at anyone who dares to come near, fighting, fighting, fighting for……. fighting for what?

Fighting to protect my vulnerability. Fighting to prevent more hurt, more pain. Because after all, if you don’t allow anyone in then you can’t get hurt again. Right?


Brené Brown taught me that by exposing my vulnerability I gain strength.


By exposing my desperate needs, my hurts, my pain, learning to trust, I slowly rebuild my village.

When those massive curved balls smash into you they break the protective walls that surrounded you, they don’t just batter you but they send your village scattering. Leaving only one or two of your tribe behind if you’re lucky.

It is then you make your choices. Run and hide, head for the hills, curl up in a ball, stay alone, protect yourself….

or reach out, find empathy, build strength, learn to trust, abandon shame, tell your story,

It takes a while to rebuild, to create a new village, foundation bricks are tested, ones who prove to be trustworthy and strong are added to the new foundations, the ones who are not are cast aside. You tentatively reach out, test the waters, learn who to trust, each brick in place adds more strength. A new village is constructed. Your new tribe rises to surround and support you. A tribe that is prepared to cover your back, to stand alongside, to encourage, empower, support, and no matter what, love you no matter what.

A tribe you can stand sweaty, strong & bloodied in the arena with – a tribe who will dare greatly with you!

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

Teddy Roosevelt 1910

Christine’s visit

I had a delightful couple of days with Christine recently.
She flew in one Friday morning.
It was a feast of friends and food.
First port of call was to visit Roni and admire the view of the snow topped Richmond Ranges from her apartment while she smooched up large wiht Malo.
Barely home and we met Sue who had just walked Caspian.
She & Christine are old acquaintances so they walked to cafe 7010.
I joined them a tad later.
Lovely to sit in the sun and enjoy some lunch.

For dinner Mahalia and I took her off to East Street Cafe to try and convert her to vegetarian ways.
After we did justice to these amazing meals she was sold.
img_9821img_9822 img_9823
We had to share two deserts cuz we were too full for three!img_9824img_9825

Afterwards we took her for a night time explore to the cathedral.
It is so beautiful at night.
img_9828 img_9830 img_9832 img_9833 img_9861 img_9868

Next morning Mahalia went to rowing and then met Martin & Sylvia at the market.
We found them sitting like waifs and strays…
so took pity on them and went to Suter for coffee.img_9912 img_9915img_9917

We walked home the long way stopping to chat with Gay and admire her arty garden.
She took the Sunday morning bus back to Christchurch but due to a horrific road accident they were diverted so she had a very scenic route home.

It was a lovely time – Christine loved our new home and my friends she met all passed muster.
Total seal of approval 😉

Farewells and welcomes

I returned home Friday, only to farewell our lovely Sibylle the next morning.
She has been an absolute joy to host and slotted into our family so easily.
We are sure gonna miss you, you bundle of Swiss sweetness xxxx

Lenore & Ross had enjoyed their time with her & Mahalia as well.
They had been out on a few adventures sussing out some of the local scenic spots.

We welcomed Anja a few hours later.
Also from Switzerland, and also had problems with connecting flights into Nelson.
But she eventually arrived and all is well.

Sunday morning I roused Azzan from his slumbers and we all went out to Melrose House for brunch.
It was a rainy day but still pleasant enough to sit out on the verandah.
The cafe is under new management but the food is still spectacularly wonderful.
The staff were delightful, made some new friends whilst connecting with them 🙂
Mahalia was bemoaning having to share her smoothie with yet another flower.
Flowers everywhere amongst her food.
But so pretty Halia 😉img_9743 img_9744
The man of the house easily tucked away a decently proper man sized breakfast.img_9752
This beautiful young woman holds a very special part of my heart  xxximg_9754
Azzan headed off into the showery elements to walk the Grampians…. mmmm, maybe meeting friends was a preferable option which he quickly opted for  😉
We took Anja for a tiki tour in the rain and ended up languishing on the floor in John & Sally’s lounge, in front of their fire.
It was very cosy 😉

Phoebe & Sapphie came for a visit the next day.
Sapphire enjoyed some story book time with Nonna.
It’s not often she stays still enough so I made the most of it 😉

Ross & Lenore packed up and said their farewells and headed south back to their land of normality.
It was so lovely having them here.
Thanks so much for all your help, and I am glad you were able to have a break, rest up and recover from your jet lag.

I am pretty much over mine now and reality is hitting :-/

Final farewells

We were up very early.
said goodbye to Evan at 6am, then Jesika and I were out the door by 6:30am.
Half an hour later I dropped her at work and took her car for a jaunt further north up the motorway.img_9650
I arrived at Jac’s in time to see Isaac before he headed off to school which was a lovely bonus.img_9654
Jan and I spent the rest of the day together which was a wonderfully special ending to my week.

At 2:30pm I had to do a mad scramble out the door and back down the motorway to pick Jesika up from work by 3pm.
We had a couple of hours left so went to a nearby mall and hung out.
Then to the airport, checked in my bag and with plenty of time up my sleeve Jesika took me upstairs to visit her Virgin Airline friends from her previous life.
It was so lovely to meet them and see where she has been spending so much of her time until recently.

All too soon it was time for me to disappear through the security barrier.
So some last minute selfies with my girl.img_9697 img_9698 img_9699 img_9700 img_9703
Sad to be leaving, but I will be back!!
Love you my darling one xxxx

The day was fading as I waited to board.
Farewell Perth, it’s been short but very sweet.
A very necessary and appreciated break from my normal normality.img_9704

My last night in WA

We took the afternoon off and retreated to the darkness of the movie theatre.
Apart from the two heads way down below we had the whole place to ourselves.
Which was actually good because we laughed and laughed out loud and nearly peed ourselves laughing while we rolled in the aisles some more 🙂
The movie – Bad Moms.
If you haven’t seen it you absolutely have to.
It is a life changer 🙂 🙂 🙂

Then it was back home to organise my last supper.
It was a good night.
Sam came.
Which raised the tone immensely 😉
The party stuff was still a happening!
I was doubly delighted because Rory and Alaine were able to join us.
It was ultra special to meet my distant cousins in the flesh.img_9629 img_9630 img_9631 img_9633
It was a delightful evening.
Very relaxed, lots of chat and good food and great company.

Brunch in South Fremantle

Jesika found a wee pet making a get away as we left the house.
Cute eh?img_9552
We had a lovely cruisey day.
Began with brunch at a cafe that I cannot remember the name of but I am sure Jesika will remind me 😉
And I was right!!
It was Roasting Warehouse
It was another funky one with cute decor.img_9556
Murray met us there as he had some spare time up his sleeve so I got the bonus of catching up with him again.
Food was pretty good and presented beautifully.img_9557 img_9558
You don’t have to guess hard to figure out which was Ev’s meal and which was mine!!img_9561
Jesika & Murrayimg_9564
We chatted for a while over our meals and coffees and then we said our goodbyes.
Murray was heading off sailing and we were off to somewhere we hadn’t yet figured out.img_9565

An evening at Manuka

For a Tuesday night treat I was taken to a favourite haunt of Evan & Jesika’s.
Manuka Woodfire Kitchen.

It is a delightful restaurant.
I loved the ambience and also the staff were fantastic.
Everything is cooked in this woodfire oven.
They have a cool menu which changes according to the seasons.
You order any selection that floats your boat and it comes out in a random order as it gets cooked.

This is a new Ginger Beer to me and it went down exceptionally well.
I’m not a huge olive fan but these roasted olives were wonderful, couldn’t stop eating them.
The baby heirloom peppers were SO good, and the roasted potatoes were very more-ish too.
Roasted cauli with avocado was interesting – actually this is all making me really hungry – I feel like hopping back on the plane and heading there for dinner tonight!!
Of course Evan’s meal was not complete without his portion of meat.
I let him enjoy the lamb shoulder.
I was more than happy with all the delicious vege dishes 🙂
And this really tells the story of total satisfaction.
It was lovely to spend the evening just with these two.  img_9523 img_9529
Can you tell I’m loving my new scarf – don’t think I took it off for days 🙂
Even is one of them is a total nutcase!
img_9533 img_9539
We felt we needed to do justice to the menu and sample some desserts.
But actually the first course was enough.
img_9540 img_9544
This was on the wall – it spoke to me.

Walking back to the car I spotted this cool piece of mixed media in a random shop window.
It says –
Kindness Matters
the hope and kindness
we give to the world
not only nurtures us
but it becomes
a gift for someone else
to receive for their own healing.
Thanks for a lovely end to the day J&E.
Love you both muchly xxxx

The day after

Had a bit of a slowish start after the party,
Jesika was up and on the ball and wanting to go do stuff but Sam was wanting a bit more time to wake up.
I did a spot of painting while she took her timeimg_9384
Then we headed off for brunch at Gesha Coffee Co.
Food was good, beautifully presented, but the service was ‘interesting’.
Seems to be something that is lacking in a vast number of Australian cafes ;-/img_9385
I opted for the salmon while the guys chose the big breakfasts.
Blair & Evan bro-loving 🙂
Cousins keeping a safe distance from the boys
Afterwards Jesika drove Ev, Bud and myself up the coast for a sightsee.
It was very blustery and the wind surfers made a very colourful sight as they whizzed across the waves.
We got stuck in the crowds for a wee while.
I had never experienced an AFL crowd before.
They were wearing purple, team colours of the Fremantle Dockers, droves of supporters  heading to the  Subiaco Oval to support their team.

All too soon it was time to take Bud to the airport.
img_9405 img_9408
And back home to collapse!img_9409