Saturday, April 11, 2015

Lazy and loving it

One week in the land of the long white cloud and I am turning into a slothful Susan who is making the most of her entitled status as favourite sister and long-time friend.
Leah, my flatmate from my days in Wellington, and her husband picked me up from the airport at an ungodly hour of the morning last Saturday and drove me the two hours to my sister's house on the Coromandel Peninsula. The sun was rising and mist was lying low in the green fields, and it smelled like home.

We stopped at a roadside stand and I nabbed a box of fresh Gala apples, $3 for three kilos.
Crispy, sweet, and scrumptious.

Later that day, John rolled out his big surprise.
Walter, his trusty roadster.

We went for a tiki tour up the coastline, and this was the view that Leah and I had from the rumble seat.

Derek and Leah went home on Sunday after church, after being thoroughly spoiled by Anne.
And that left just ME to be pampered.
We drove up to Whitianga one day and had a picnic next to the sea. These scenes are from the drive.

Anne and I have been spending lots of time with Mum, who is in a care home an hour away. One day, we hit all of the op shops that we could find on the way down. We love ferreting around for bargains and had a glorious time. 
We had some fun with these statues in Waihi.

On Friday, my old school chum, Dianne, treated me to a Hobbiton visit. 
See? Spoiled. 
First, we had a delicious lunch at the Punnet Cafe, where I had rice pudding with poached peaches and I thought I was in Heaven.

As we pulled up in the Hobbiton parking lot, the rain started. It continued, in vary degrees of obnoxiousness, until we pulled out of the parking lot three hours later.

I was mortally disappointed in the use of this apostrophe, but managed to not let it ruin my day.
J.R.R., I am sure, would be mortified.

Here we are, in our flattering plastic raincoats.

The climb was quite steep.

The view across the pond to the Green Dragon tavern.

Bilbo's house, of course.
I was very disappointed that we couldn't go in. All of the inside scenes were filmed in Wellington, and the houses are only facades.

We were very bedraggled by the time we arrived at the Green Dragon, but the tour was fun and our Scottish guide was patient with our lingering. 
This was the view from both sides of the door as we dumped our umbrellas. 

Raising a toast with our mugs of ginger beer.
I was hoping for a hot cup of Milo, but no such luck.
Thank you Dianne, it was a fun afternoon, in spite of the rain.

Next stop was a weekend with Debbie, my friend from my first real job, and her husband, who have renovated an old church out Te Aroha way. There is a lovely bedroom in that house that catches the afternoon sunlight and has my name on it. Two days of complete relaxation, delicious food, music videos, conversation, and coddling ensued. It's kind of scary how quickly I devolve into slugdom.
I wish that it was possible to store days like these in my pocket so that I could pull them out later when I need them.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Trees and blooms

It was such a beautiful day yesterday that Jeff and I went to the Tualatin Wildlife Refuge for a stroll.

As we approached the trail, we saw something that looked like a tiny helicopter, alternately hovering about thirty feet in the air and then dive-bombing some flowering currant bushes. 
What is it? I cried.
A hummingbird, said he.
And he was right. It was an astounding sight, as the tiny bird was darting around so quickly that we couldn't really get a good fix on it. Jeff managed to get a couple of good photos when it hovered to feed from the flowers. 
It was so beautiful, and when it turned towards us, its ruby throat was brilliant.
And then it flitted away.

The trees were in fine form, all covered in fluffy moss and with the sun shining through.

I love trees, and mossy trees are my favourites.

The springtime wild flowers are busting out all over.
Yellow violets.

Trillium in several shades.

This old stump, covered in thick moss and ferns, had a lovely slab of fungus attached to the top of the hollow.

This wee chipmunk was very shy and I had to surreptitiously zoom in to get a picture.

Not sure of the identity of these leaves, but we saw them in several shades of green and purple, and I liked them.

The air was full of beating geese wings and their honking cries. I wondered which goose decided when it was time for his particular flock to circle the skies. There must have been hundreds, if not thousands, of them on the refuge. 

 Bright yellow Oregon grape flowers.

And as we approached the beginning of the trail again, we saw the back end of this fat squirrel.

I just looked at Jeff's pictures of the outing and had to steal a few.

If you are local and haven't visited yet, do it! This is the best time of year, in my opinion, and it is free. There is a visitor's centre and frequent weekend activities.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Sunday pics

 I tried to take a photo of the kids every Sunday they were here, while they were all spiffed up and looking their best. There are only six. I think I forgot one week, and once they were sick and stayed home.
This was the first week, all dressed up in their warm coats.

Elsie's outfit is vintage. The sweater was knitted for me by my aunty and the kilt was worn by my girls.

This was taken after church and Elsie is wearing a badge that she got in her class.

The last Sunday we had Bethany's kids for the weekend while mom and dad went on a getaway. Then Jon brought his boys over on Sunday night and they stayed over as well. There were fifteen people sleeping in my little house, but it was lovely. Lucky for us that church starts at 11:30 this year.

I love looking at these smiling faces.