Tuesday, 30 July 2013


 This morning's front page of the Otago Daily Times (our local paper) shows a fantastic photo taken in the Dunedin Botanic Garden of a kowhai tree in flower with a kereru digging into the goodness of the flowers of this beautiful tree. There are also two smaller photos of a tui and a bumblebee enjoying the flowery nibbles on a mild July day.  Mild?  Middle of winter?  Daffodils in a white vase inside, windows wide open, bell birds singing outside while they, together with tui and wax eyes, wait for their daily dose of sugar water.  More details about our unusual weather in this afore mentioned article.

 During the past year I've posted photos of tui sipping sugar water from a large plate on our balcony, photos of kereru sitting on branches of the Vergilia trees outside my study, but unfortunately have never tried to take a photo of a bumblebee.

 The ODT photographers are very good and it's always fascinating to observe how they find special areas in our town that need our awareness.  Daring too!  When in early 2000 Miriam had her exhibition in the Moray Gallery, Stephen Jacquerie (ODT) stood on the pergola rafters to take a photo of her sitting down in our garden surrounded by dozens of her paintings. 

Back and cover pages of book about Miriam

 Tonight Bart and I went to the launch of Raymond Huber's stunning children's book Flight of the Honey Bee with amazing illustrations by Brian Lovelock.  Claire Beynon launched the book in a witty and thoughtful speech.  It was wonderful to be with our friends at this happy occasion.  The book is dedicated to Raymond's and his wife Penelope Todd's first grandchild, Spencer Bond.   What a lucky child he is.  The book has already been translated into the Danish language.  Let's hope it will be translated into many other languages as well.  This book deserves to be treasured.

Saturday, 27 July 2013


Time to prepare

The Helleborus is out!

 We are still in the middle of winter, so far having survived a few snowstorms, high winds, heavy rainfall and, in the centre of New Zealand earthquakes with massive aftershocks.  We think of the people in Wellington and Christchurch, having to cope with these scary rumblings.

 Each year I'm excited when I see the first flower of the Christmas Rose (above).  I planted it nearly 40 years ago.  It's surrounded by several other Hellebore with purple and lilac colours, and taller stems but I just adore this little one.   Here in Dunedin we've had beautiful spring days, temperatures up to 15 degrees C.  and Bart has been in the garden, clearing and tidying as he goes.

 Clearing and tidying is going to be our main task for the next few months as we are now preparing for our big move early next year to the Summerset Bishopscourt Retirement Village in another part of town.  I don't really want to think yet of leaving our very special suburb of Opoho after having lived here for 53 years but we cannot afford to stay here any longer.  In the meantime our focus will be to concentrate on clearing this house with its five bedrooms and keep enough furniture and 'chattels' to fit a small apartment with two bedrooms.   So, after having emptied cupboards and wardrobes we already have left various bags at the Red Cross and other second hand outfits.  There are more to follow.

  Then came a small challenge.  The photo I'm inserting below shows a clean version of a carboy.  You should have seen it before Bart put the hose in it.  When we moved into this house in 1974 I filled this carboy with soil, charcoal (to keep the soil moist) and pebbles in which I planted begonias and tiny ferns and other green bits and pieces.   After a few years, life's hectic pace took over and I totally ignored the carboy and the plants (shame, woman, shame!).  Gradually the plants withered and all that was left was a dark mass at the bottom.  But we cleaned the glass jar with sand soap and garden hose and hey presto: here it is.

Clean Carboy
 When we shifted from the front house which we bought in 1966 to this newly-built house I thought of the John Lennon song 'Imagine'.  And as we carried our few possessions down the drive I hummed 'imagine no possessions' and thought how lucky we were to move into our new home.  Now the time has come to let go of some of those possessions, and I feel grateful that a sense of detachment is slowly taking over.  As long as I've got my family, friends, music and books I'll be all right.

 Now off to the next project: clearing another wardrobe in a room that looks out onto this glorious camellia.

Here's to a spring day in the middle of winter.

Monday, 8 July 2013



Stella and Donald Cullington at DCLC with ltr Nichola Ferguson, Miriam Hellendoorn and Rebecca Thompson

So much has happened but with this blog I want to acknowledge the generosity of Dunedin residents with the result that the Dunedin Community Learning Centre can continue to function.  What a relief it was to hear that the Lotteries Community Funding has offered support for another three years and that so many Dunedin people, after reading the Otago Daily Times' article about the possible forthcoming closure of DCLC, came forward with generous donations.  At this stage I can name a few, the Accounting firm Deloitte; Mrs Dawn Ibbotson; Stella and Donald Cullington; the Junior School of John McGlashan College who gave half the money they raised by their Readathon (GO WELL Boys!).  And not to forget that every time we buy Anchor Milk products their support of fundraising sets in.

There are so many others and at our recent Pot Luck Dinner Trudy Scott acknowledged the other donors.  She writes in her latest news: 'It was great to meet again or for the first time some of our generous sponsors.  They are truly lovely people with caring hearts.'

Oh, yes, Trudy!  You are so right.  And what a relief for all of us, parents and caregivers of your students, to know that our children will be stimulated and supported by you and your equally generosity-inspiring team.

The amazing work of The Dunedin Community Learning Charitable Trust (The Trustees are Christine Thompson, Sandra Boock, Katherine Sturgeon, Paul O'Neill and Eric Shelton) has to be acknowledged with 'gold accolades'.  The Trustees have gone beyond the call of duty to keep the Centre open and their latest effort is a wonderful pamphlet outlining the DCLC's History, Student Comments, Life Skills, Community Based Learning and their Dream for the Future.  Here are some of the photos and Student Comments in this delightful and impressive leaflet:

"I learn things"
"I like swimming"
"I like painting"
"It's fun"
"We make things"
"We have fun and make friends"
"I like mowing lawns"
"It's fun when the Otago Polytechnic students come for work experience"
And more great news:  In the meantime the Fundraising Committee has met to discuss a few ideas in the pipeline and as Trudy writes, 'they are working hard on behalf of us all.'

Thank you all.  We count our blessings and keep believing in miracles.