Thursday, December 27, 2012


 It wouldn't be Christmas with our family without one of Mum's famous pavlovas. I love pavlova! Homegrown strawberries on top too.

We're on holiday on the family farm, and having a wonderful time. The weather has been HOT and the insects have been biting, but life at a leisurely pace is a lovely change. Christmas Day was fantastic, not least because we had this very excited little man to share it with. Our wee nephew Henry. He was absolutely thrilled with his biggest surprise- a perfect little house built by Poppa, compete with door handle (possibly the best bit). He took his Thomas train set in there and played and played.

Miss Dog has enjoyed his company too. We all love the space to run around.
 This is "The Cottage" where we are staying due to having our furry children with us on holiday. It is easier to stay over there away from the main house because the resident cat, Rupert, would be highly offended by visitors of a feline or canine nature. Mousie has been staunchly insisting on holding on so that he can use the toilet outside. We bought a little harness and lead for him. Yes, embarrassing, but it is a jolly, festive red in colour, and as Mousie has a tendency to run for his life at the slightest alarming noise, we need to have a way of controlling him deep in farm country. I must get a photo of him on one of his outside jaunts.
 I'm afraid many photos we have taken are not really suitable for using on the blog as quite frankly, running around under the sprinkler in our swimming togs is not something to share with the world. Particularly after the huge Christmas dinner we had. I'll see if I can do better over the next few days. I hope you are having a lovely holiday season!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Sorry - more horse photos

Oh dear, I can't resist. More horse photos. Today we went out to sort out a present, then I went out to see the girls. They were all great. 
 Fergie was stretching her legs.

 I managed to sneak in a good stroke and a wee brush today because she was having a drink and I reached under Zanny's neck to touch her. She's inquisitive, but wary at this stage.
Tara wasn't moving fast anywhere, but she loved a good scratch and brush too. She has a lovely big paddock to enjoy. I am excited to see who is curled up within her generous, rounded tummy.
 In the garden the pink flowered strawberries have these wee sweet fruit tucked under the leaves. They are full of flavour, and I'm guessing they are part of the alpine strawberry family, rather being fat dessert strawberries. They are mainly grown for flowers, I believe, but once established, these fruit are a great bonus.
I hope your Christmas preparations are going to plan. So far, so good, in our department. A Christmas miracle!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


This evening I am unwinding happily on the couch after the final day of school for the year. I sent my students home, some a little glum about the time away from school, with a big smile on my face. It has been an interesting year, with some great achievements, and plenty of challenges along the way. Time to switch off work matters and concentrate on living each day of the holidays to the fullest.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


Today we attended the end of year staff picnic lunch, which conveniently is at the horse farm. Apart from a delicious lunch, I got to see my girls.

Did I tell you the foal is called Fergie? Something to do with the stallion being called Ferguson or something like that. Anyway, she is growing just as she should and I managed to give her a good face rub under her chin, and a stroke along her back, which is great because she is wary of people.

 Fergie was a bit grubby today. She spends plenty of time sleeping still and lies down in the grass so that she is hidden. And the milk bar is always open. She did have a wee nibble at some chaff today while her mummy had breakfast. She has her own little food bucket, but isn't quite ready to have a good munch.
 She reminded me of a giraffe today, trying to work out how to manage those long, long legs while trying to check out things on the ground.
 It was so hot today, and Shadow kept playing, then overheating and having a big rest, puffing and gasping. He is feeling his age now.
 These two characters are on holiday boarding at the farm while their owner is off overseas. They are only interested in food, and are not really into people.
 Tara, however, loves people. Here she is heading to see me on her newly trimmed hooves, which are a little sore because they were in such bad condition prior to her visit from the farrier. She won't have to worry about them growing too long again. Not if I've got anything to do with it.
 She is such a honey and I gave her a big brush while she stood happily in her paddock. She didn't want me to leave.
Johnny got to meet her today and she was impressed with him too and was very smoochy. 

Johnny and I both managed to get zapped by the electric fence today. I was disadvantaged by wearing a dress while trying to negotiate the three hot wires. I've had much worse electric fence shocks before, so managed not to disgrace myself by looking like a wimp. 

Only 2 1/2 days left of school this year. Counting down! Yay!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Around the garden

It really feels summery around here. We went out to do some Christmas shopping today and managed to get a few things. No pictures on here though! The wind came up today, so I didn't do much outside except for hang out loads of washing, but I did take a few photos out the back. This year quite a few poppies have come up from seed and the variation in colour is surprising. I guess they have all evolved from the original red soldier poppies that I planted about 3 years ago. 
 The bumblebees love my garden.

 The colours are rather wishy-washy, apart from the brilliant vermilion ones. I think I might need to introduce some bright jewel coloured ones.

Gertrude Jekyll has the most delicious rose fragrance.  She is planted on Monty's grave. I still miss darling Monty. He was the dearest, gentle boy.
 Penelope reminds me of my lovely mummy because she gave me the cutting, which I brought with me from my old garden. The second flush of blooms have a warm peach tone to the newly opened petals. They were more pink in the first round.
 I adore Mutabilis which is fascinating because its butterfly-like flowers change through soft yellow, cerise, oranges and pink as they mature. This year I have some perfectly matched pink lilies underneath.

 This is Tea Clipper which is utterly delicious in a warm buttery tone. The blooms are quite large and remind me of Mousie's crinkled tummy fur.
 The artichokes are having a good year too. I love to have them just to look at, even though they are tasty too.
 We have one snowpea plant. I know I would have planted masses but this one was given to me, along with its unfortunate friend (Miss Dog - I know you know what happened to the poor thing). Look at my pioneer woman washing line getting the washing dry. I have five low growing tomatoes around the snowpea. Yes, there were six, but again, Miss Dog, please explain. We also have some basil and chives in this bed too. The blue plant in the background is a Jacob's ladder, which self-seeds merrily in my borders.
 Finally, unfortunately a couple of my small gardens have been overcome by a tangle of weeds. I will have to take everything out over the winter and start again. I thought I might plant some tall standard bay trees surrounded by herbs, and move the two roses carefully. This is The Prince  I think. I adore plum coloured roses.
Tomorrow we've got an end of year staff picnic to go to, and fortunately it is out at the horse farm. Yay- that means I can visit my beautiful girls and spoil them lots.

Gosh watching the news has been incredibly grim today. Make the most of every day.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Going home

A last look around...
 Time for a bit of a play in the yard while waiting for her ride home.
 The jury is still out on what colour she will be. She may be a bright bay. Initially it looked like she would be a mini version of her mummy. Maybe not!
 What an inquisitive wee lady! I think she was tempted to take that quad-bike for a spin.
Only a week ago she was wobbly on her feet, and wanted to sleep all the time. Now she is exploring every corner, cantering, bucking, nibbling grass and could probably find the milk bar blindfolded. 

Zanny and baby were carefully loaded onto a float and gingerly left the maternity farm for their ride home.  

Monday, December 10, 2012

Greens (and reds)

I love walking a few steps from the back deck to the raised vegetable patches and plucking some beautiful leaves for salads each evening. 

These are so easy to grow, as long as you remember to water them regularly. I grew some from seed, and some came as baby plants in packs of six. I only ever pull leaves off, and leave the plants to rapidly grow back into generous leafy rosettes. I tend to have eyes bigger than my stomach and plant far too many, but before long they will take umbrage at the climatic conditions and shoot skywards into frilly towers. Rather pretty, but sometimes unpalatable. I'm planning another mini plantation to be ready for the New Year, just in case.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Out and About

I've had a busy day today, and am quite disappointed that it is the evening already. This morning I went to visit the lovely Tara, who was a very sweet girl for me. She isn't smiling here as she was quite unsure about being in the yard for the first time. She was fine when I had my hands on her, but was more spooky when I stepped away. Tara is now in Zanny's big paddock and we had to go through Dolly's paddock, which now houses Lucy, and Lucy wanted to get as close to me as she could, which made Tara kick out and squeal. A bit scary really, because, although I had control of Tara's front end, her back legs could do a fair  bit of damage to Lucy, and she is worth a lot of money. 

Not only did Tara have to deal with Madam Lucy, she had to go past a burning bonfire, a ride-on mower and a large tractor, and I managed her fine, even though she was a bit alarmed. She is a perfect friend for me to work with. I gave her a good groom and lots of munchy treats. Look at that tummy! I hope she is cooking up a baby as lovely as Zanny's dear wee filly. 
 Johnny and The Crafty Neighbour took advantage of a special price for mushroom compost and got a trailer load between them while I was out horse grooming. We then had to unload copious amounts of the stinking stuff. I can report that horse poo smells a lot nicer than mushroom compost. The Crafty House pongs of the stuff, according to The Crafty Neighbour, but Johnny wisely dampened our pile with the sprinkler, so we don't have the same problem.

After all of that digging and scooping, I developed a headache, and instead of having my traditional lie down, I took Miss Dog for a prowl over at the local nature park.
 We both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
 It is starting to dry out. There is now a new subdivision next to the nature park.
 As long as there are no other people around, I can let Miss Dog have a good sniff around. She is way too friendly, and doesn't always listen when I call her if there are other people in the vicinity. She was a rebellious youngster and things haven't changed much over the years.

 I find the coprosmas interesting with their tiny leaves and network of protective branches.

 My garden contrasts hugely with the native plantings in the nature park. I was excited to spot the first Christmas lilies opening and releasing their divine scent.
I have a large collection of Christmas lilies, as I spread the seeds around every year.
 This rose looked so fresh and pretty today.
  And Mr Mouse loves lurking in the garden. Those lavenders are getting past their best, and the feijoas are growing big now, so I wonder what Mr Mouse with think when I do some plant evictions?
I'm sure there will be many jungle-like hidey holes for Mousie to play in. I'm not exactly a minimalist when it comes to garden design. Or anything else.

Johnny has made one of his divine bacon and egg pies for tea. We're getting a dozen free range eggs from a friend each week, which is economical, but means we have to plan eggy meals more often than usual. I love the eggs because I personally know the hens, and they have an amazing, happy hen life in their own extensive grassy paddock.

Have a great week!