Last weekend of the holidays – part 1

Saturday

I got up early and spent an hour making this baby card.
It is for twins – I thought it was really cute.

The weather was settling down so Cat decided to take Leeann, David, Sasha, Boris & Morgane out sailing and diving.
They headed off around midday towards Port Gore.
The plan is to dive on the Mikhail Lermontov.

Before they left I got Boris & Morgane to prepare some veges for dinner.
Tim put a roast of mutton in the wood stove.
I roasted up potatoes and parsnip, boiled carrots and made leeks in a white sauce.
It was a very delicious dinner.

Mahalia was left to finish painting her room.
She wanted to splash out with some more blue so I suggested the side of the bunk.

By evening the blue had spread!

I worked with Nathan in the morning – helping him to sort out his school work and how to plan his study schedule.
It is hard because he has never had to knuckle down before and actually do set study.
We have always been very relaxed and informal with our learning programme.
It takes a bit to get your head around all the work books.
Some, like ‘Classical Studies’, are straight forward, but others, such as English are frustrating cuz they flip from one thing to another and they are not systematic.
We had organised with the Correspondence School at the beginning that he would only do 4 subjects to start with to give him time to learn how it all works and so he wouldn’t feel overwhelmed.
He chose English, Maths, Latin & Classical Studies.
However, at the recent tutorial day he attended the science teacher was there and decided in his wisdom to dump Science on him too.
I was rather cross.
So at the moment I have told him to put Science to one side and pick it up later when he feels able to cope with it.
He is now adding a Gateway programme which is tied in with his voluntary work at The Wood.
That is also involving some workbooks along side the practical work.
I have set him up with a spread sheet to keep a track of what he is doing.
Hopefully that will make it a bit easier for him to get his head around it all.

We managed to get all of that sorted and he did a half an hour of work before lunch and then he went down to rousie for the afternoon so Shanni could spend some time with Katherine.
They helped me do some stuff after lunch and then they went for a bike ride.
Herbie & Errilyn came and had lunch with us and then plowed through a massive pile of dishes.
Errilyn went for a rest and Herbie decided to take a look at the truck and see if he could fix it.

I spent all afternoon reworking the submission for our courtcase.
The Christchurch earthquake prevented the hearing back in February and we have just heard it has been rescheduled for May.
I was very glad to get it all done and ready for Tim to proof read.

After all that brain work I was glad to collapse in front of ‘Dr Quinn’ while dinner finished cooking.
We ate quite late and then the children went straight off to bed.
Azzan is sleeping on the floor in our room at present so there is not a lot of floor space left.
Not too sure how I am going to find my clothes to pack for town next week
Just hoping we can get the rooms into some semblance of order before leaving.

 

Sunday

I woke to this glorious sky this morning.

Tim spotted 2 figures walking down to the wharf in the dawnlight.
It was Shoshannah & Katherine.
They were up before the birds and going down to look for penguins.
They found some under the woolshed.
The penguins under our house at present are in full vocal force.
Must be nesting time I guess.
It sure is hard to sleep at present with their operatic performances going under the floor boards most of the night 

The girls made pancakes for breakfast.

Then they hung out the washing while Azzan washed the breakfast dishes and Mahalia got the paint out again.
Mahalia & Katherine got stuck in to painting the bedroom.
It just had a bit more to get done to finish it off.

I had to make sure Katherine was ‘contained’ as she was getting rather carried away with the blue paint

Mahalia finishing up the last few touches of ‘Splash‘ behind her door.

Shanni helped out and painted some messy patches in the hall.
 Azzan kept on wanting to be in the way of the painters.
Bit tough being the odd wee fella out sometimes

Shearing, painting, visitors and surprises!

Thursday
I spotted the Spirit of New Zealand sailing out of the Sound mid morning.
I think my cousin Jonty is on this sailing so I was waving to him.
Don’t think he would’ve seen me though as it was 3 miles away!
Don’t you just love long distance lenses


Friday
Anson began shearing so I spent all morning in the kitchen.
There is something about shearing that invokes the need to be organised and to supply copious quantities of food.
I was so organised (not!) that I missed the 9:30am smoko because I didn’t get the muffins into the oven early enough.
But I did make enough so that I had plenty for the afternoon smoko so I wasn’t late with that
Anson kept shearing until nearly 10am until they were cooked.
Mahalia was my run-a-bout for the day so she delivered them steaming from the oven along with their hot drinks.
She was very helpful throughout the day.
Tim started out as rousie until Boris could get down there after his breakfast.
Shanni spent most of the day helping out there too.
She said at the end of the day that she really enjoyed working in the shed despite it being a long tiring day.

I made a huge macaroni/vegetable dish for lunch – it was enough for two days lunches which was great.
I made a fish pie for dinner – used the mushrooms that Anson had found up the hill which gave it a lovely flavour despite the grey colour!
Also made a triple size banana cake which we used for the Saturday smokos.
By lunch time I was totally knackered so after lunch I blobbed out for an hour – put my feet up and watched ‘Dr Quinn’.

Cat got the kids helping with the painting process.
Azzan had to clean the blue paint off the door to his new bedroom.
Mahalia lives here at the moment and had painted the door a while back using some of our school paints.

They are a real dog to get off despite being waterbased.
So Cat unscrewed the door off it’s hinges and took it out onto the deck so Azzan could waterblast it.

He managed to get it down to this – it is now going to need some hard scrubbing!
One thing about an old house – the children have been allowed plenty of freedom over the years to ‘decorate’ their rooms so there are heaps of nails and layers of paint to deal with


Mahalia spent most of the day painting her new room with Morgane.


Cat decided to paint each door off the hall a different colour.
She reckoned it would make easier when telling folk which room to go to!!
This is only the first coat of three of the doors, the white surrounds have to be done still.
We have 7 doors off the hall and Cat has some lovely bright test pots.


David & Sasha arrived in the arvo and brought a surprise visitor with them.
I had been planning this surprise for Shanni for a couple of days.
They brought her very best friend Katherine down.
She didn’t know herself that she was coming until a couple of hours before D&S picked her up.
Shanni was working in the woolshed and Katherine went down to see her.
The girls were so delighted to see each other.
I got a text from Shanni ‘THANX SO MUCH MUM’
I think she was happy
Katherine spent the rest of the afternoon helping in the woolshed.
I had to laugh – when she came up at one point she was chattering away about it being so yucky down there.
She wasn’t really complaining – just saying it – with a big smile on her face so can’t have been too bad.

She’s obviously a city girl

After dinner Cat took Boris, Morgane & Leeann out possum hunting. The truck conked out just after they left so they came back and took the Terrano.
They came home with 4 possums.

Errilyn & Herbie (aka Nathan) arrived at 9:30am with their cute wee 6week old Malachi.
We had a cuppa and chatted a while until we all needed to find our beds.


Sunni left me a book called ‘Eat, Pray, Love‘ by Elizabeth Gilbert.
Sunni has read the book several times and thoroughly recommended I should read it.
I have spent several days trying to get into it and would have put it down days ago except that Sunni was keen for me to read it.
I have persevered and am now hooked.
It took about 10 chapters before I was though!


Thursday – our holidays are coming to a rapid finish!

Thursday

I have had this cartoon on my office wall for years.
It has come down recently to make way for other junk progress.
Thought I would share it with you.
I really identify with Edna sometimes



I was up early this morning and managed to sneak out and make a card before Azzan woke up.
He was sleeping on the sofa beside my art table.

Then once it was light I wallowed in the spa for half an hour with my book.
While the others had breakfast I clearer out the small bedroom we have been using as a sewing room.
It is all going to be transferred into Azzan’s old room as soon as the floor is finished in there.
In the meantime the piles of fabrics etc are sitting on the tables int he school room and the machines etc are in the hall.

Anson, Tim, Nathan & Boris went mustering this morning.
Anson is keen to get the shearing done before he leaves.
He is on countdown and the weather has been frustrating his plans.

Morgane peeled a couple of pots of apples and pears.
Then she sanded the next bedroom ready for painting.
Boris has helped her paint it this afternoon.
This will be Mahalia’s room once it is all finished.
Leeann and I made a large pot of soup from the venison hocks she had boiled up yesterday.
The children have been doing chores and school work.
 
I spent the rest of the morning trying to sort out paperwork and pay bills.
Cat has been working on her yacht and weed eating the lawns today.
The grass was so long you could almost make hay from them!

The wind is beginning to die away.
The waves pounding the beach are getting smaller and smaller throughout the day.

Leann & Cat are having dinner with Anson tonight so we will be just a small family. I am feeling the holidays speeding through my fingers.
Only a few more days and we have to head out to town.
There is such a lot I still want to achieve. I somehow don’t think I will get everything done.
Not to worry – guess what doesn’t happen will wait till next holidays!



Stormy days

Wednesday

It was Bri & Abby’s turn to leave.

They managed to get out despite the storm.
It was a pretty hairy drive though from reports I heard.
Abby commented later that there were men out with diggers and chainsaws clearing tracks through the fallen trees and holding branches back so traffic could get through.
The wind and rain were pretty relentless.
There were trees coming down banks.
The power was out most of the two days.
It would flick on for a short time every now and then just to remind us that there were some wonderful guys out in the storm working their butts off to get the power reconnected for us.
The phone also went out for a while and once again the guys were onto it.
We so appreciate them.
Thanks fellas!!

The waves were pounding in relentlessly for two days.
It takes a very big southerly/southeasterly to bring waves into our beach like this.

Anson came around and he did some of his school work with Shanni & Azzan.
Then he cracked the whip and got Mahalia to do some too.
I know it is technically the school holidays still but we actually have a week at home so it is a good chance to get some academia done.

Boris & Morgane painted Azzan’s small bedroom.
It looks so good.
It really is amazing how much fresher things look with a new coat of paint.

Cat got Azzan to help her fix his rabbit’s cage.
She taught him how to use the saw so he could shorten the legs to make it more stable.
He told me that he is not really into woodwork but he quite enjoyed doing it

Mahalia filled up the woodbins and then before putting the wheel barrow away she & Zani loaded the rest of the rotten floor boards on and took them away.

Leeann cooked dinner on the woodstove.
Venison casserole, roast parsnip and pumpkin, and boiled spuds.
I made crayfish morney as I don’t like venison.
The power was off and the stove wouldn’t come up in temperature so Cat brought the gas hobs down to finish off the vegetables.
We had a battery connected to the 12V light which lights the kitchen area.
It is really cosy in the living area with both fires blazing on these chilly nights.
But the rest of the house was like an iceberg.

I was in the process of making some cards and wanted to get some more done to them.
So I lit a candle and tried to work by its light.
How’s that for dedication!!
It was quite difficult to see still so I got a spare halogen torch and worked with that for a wee while.
I managed to get a couple more cards made.
You can see the small amount of light the 12V battery was putting out in the kitchen over the other side of me.

Despite the power cuts and the busy days I have managed to make these few cards over the past few days.
I have had some early mornings too.It is so lovely and peaceful when I get up at 5am.

I sat in the lounge after everyone had gone off to bed and enjoyed a quiet time by the fire with a hot drink and some chocolate fudge slice I had made earlier
The power came back on again just after 9pm.
I went to go to bed and fell over Azzan.
He had dragged all of his bedding along the hall from Shanni’s room and was sleeping on the cold hard hall floor.
I got him to move into the lounge and sleep on the sofa where it was warmer.
He would’ve turned into an ice block overnight!

I was about to go off to bed when Jesika called up so we skyped for a while.
She needed to hear what we had all talked about and how the weekend had gone.
She might be a million miles away but her heart is still at home


Monday night/Tuesday – au revoir Sunni & Mat

Monday Night

After the day out fishing it was time for some good old relaxing time in the spa.
Shanni hardly ever uses it so it was good to see her in there spending sisterly time with Bri.


Sunni & Mat stuffed and baked the moki.
I was too slow to get a pre-eating photo – Cat had already begun to serve it here.
The couscous stuffing was divine!
There wasn’t a lot left by the end of dinner.


After dinner we put the 2 youngest to bed and then the rest of us had a family pow wow around the table.
It was a good time to have a discussion about the future of the farm and business while most of the family were together.

Tuesday

It was an early start cuz Anson was leaving for Nelson at 7:45am and taking Sunni & Mat with him as they had a plane to catch.
We woke the children up to say goodbye – Shanni wasn’t too keen on opening her eyes that early in the morning


It is such a shame it is an expensive plane trip to get to see each other.
The times we share are too short but very precious.
It was also super cool to have Mat come to visit so we could all get to know him.



The weather had packed up.
From the glassy calm day we had out fishing – to this.
We have had two days of serious south westerly gales.


I cleared a lot of stuff out of the hall.
Tried to clean up and sort junk.

I was feeling rather down.
My emotions were matching the weather.
Sad and tumultuous.
It was exactly 365 days
52 weeks
12 months
1 year
since Mum died.
No matter how you say it,
It is a long time.
but
also a short time.

Easter Sunday & Monday

Sunday was wet as!
It rained all day.
Peter & Kathryn packed up and left after breakfast.
We didn’t do a heck of a lot apart from many loads through the washing machine and dryer.
It is making a weird ‘expensive’ sounding noise
Cat took a crew out in the yacht for a few hours despite the rain.
Tim slept.
I watched Dr Quinn with the kids.
Leeann made a venison casserole for dinner.
I made a delectably delicious lemon meringue pie.
After dinner some of the older troops went around to visit Anson.

Monday
The rain cleared so Tim made the call to go fishing.
We all went – yes, even me!

While we waited on the wharf for Cat to filler dive tanks and Tim to fill the diesel tank, Shanni & Bri cast out their lines.




The day was overcast, grey, damp, but calm.
The bay was like a mirror.
Home from two perspectives.

On the way we stopped to pick up Glenn & Tik and 3 of their friends.
They left their boat tied to a mussel line for the day.

Then we stopped at another of our mussel lines so Tim & Anson could tie a float on as it was sinking.
First you have to hook the line.

In two places.


Then winch it up.

And while it is out of the water scrape off the growth of blue mussels.

Then tie another float in place.

And leave them to grow some more.

Once we went around West Entry it got a bit cooler and windy and I retreated into the cabin cuz there was a bit of sea spray being thrown up,
Bri was doing a pretty good impression of being a bowsprit!

When we finally found the rock that Cat wanted to dive on she and Mat got into their drysuits.


And put on all the extra kit they need underwater all the while trying to keep balance on the ever rocking boat.

On with the tanks

And into the water!

And away down into the depths to look for that elusive crayfish.

Meanwhile on the surface the fishing lines were going over the side.

Some fished and others watched.

And others just read!

One of the cuter more colourful fish caught today.

We got our quota of blue cod.
The rules say we can only take 2 per person and they must be between 30-35cm in length

We were going to have a cook up onboard and had taken the butter and breadcrumbs but forgot the gar bottle for the stove – duh!
So filled ourselves up on chips, chocolate, pears and apples.

45mins later the divers surfaced.
The had their catch bag full –

– of moki – no crays today.

One nice sized one and the others smaller.

It was a bit bleak and roly so Tim decided to head home.
We passed the seals at West Entry to went closer to have a look.


We didn’t notice at first but there was a weka down on the rocks in amongst the seals.
Crazy bird!

We got home around 3pm and were unloading when a guy rowed in to visit us from a boat anchored nearby.
Turned out to be someone Tim had gotten a dog from back in the early 1980’s and he was keen to met Tim so he had come looking for him.
They had a good chat and then Tim took Cat & Leeann out for another dive on a wreck.

The rest of us came home and had something to eat.
Sunni helped Mahalia to tidy her room and Mat helped Azzan to take all his posters and bookshelves down.
I finished my book.

Easter weekend Fri & Sat

Just thought I would take a wee step back and show you what I have been doing over the past days.
I finally got all the sets of KlipIt containers that I bought on half price last week.
They are all filled and the old containers have gone.
I love going into my pantry now.
It feels cleaner and organised.
The other bonus is that I can actually see what is running low when I am doing my shopping list and I don’t have to go through the whole place taking off lids.
I still have a few more I need to get but I now need to buy a little more size selectively to contain the random other things




Once the boat was unloaded on Thursday night the guys got the two stags hung up and the skinning process underway.
Tim was pretty proud of his 90+kg (200lb) deer.

They were both 8 pointers but Anson’s was a lot lighter.
But still both were a huge weight to carry down the hills.


Friday

I got up before 5am as I couldn’t sleep.
So I sat and made a few cards until it was light enough to wallow in the spa with my book.

Cat was up bright an early too.
She spent the day doing a big clean up and getting rid of stuff.
She tackled the lawns but they were still too wet.
She got Azzan helping to clean up the rabbits mess and got rid of the puppy’s old run.
I had been trying to move it a few days ago so I could clean up all the mess but it was too heavy for me.
Am very glad to have it all gone.

Mahalia & Azzan cleared away most of the rotten floor boards.
They are so dry that they are making really good fire starters.

Jenn & Ray arrived to stay at the campsite with their wee caravan so Tim took them around to show them the ropes.

It was a beautiful day and Cat planned to take Mat & Sunni out in the yacht so Mat could have a dive.
But the tide went out and the ‘Vision’ got caught.
All the men went down to try and manoeuver it out but is wouldn’t budge so it stayed tied to the wharf and they went over the bay in the dinghy instead.
Mat hasn’t dived for a few years so Cat was giving him a refresher.

I watched an episode of ‘Dr Quinn’ before dinner.
It was about the ‘Washita Massacre‘.
I cried my way through the whole thing

Bri & Abby arrived around 9:30pm.
They were full of beans, tired but hungry so I was glad we had saved enough dinner for them.

Saturday

I woke early again but was quite tired.
I had so much whirling around in my mind.
I am finding that if that happens and I get up and do something I am fine.
But if I don’t then things all start swirling and I end up getting overwhelmed by melancholy.
I have begun an art journalizing journey.
My councilor suggested it and it has taken me a while but I have begun so hopefully that will help.

I was feeling very vulnerable and an emotional mess most of the day.
I know what I am walking through will take time but it is so darned hard sometimes

The weather was beginning to change.
Roger, George & Oliver popped in to say goodbye as they were boating back to Havelock.
Jenn & Ray decided to vacate the campsite due to the forecast too so they came in to see us before leaving.
It was a busy kitchen as they were all wanting to talk.
At the same time Anson was here and Tim & I were trying to help him with his studies
Then Josh arrived with Ryan & Nathan to pick Anson up and take him over to Manaroa to the speed shear.
So we did what we could with his studies and then he went home to pack while we had a lovely catch up with Josh.
He lived and worked with us 20 years ago from when he was 16 for several years, but even though we live relatively close we don’t get to see much of him these days as our lives are so busy.

I was really weary so took my book to bed and read and dozed for a few hours until Kathryn came to visit.
We talked for a while and then I got up and made myself some late lunch.
Tim & I had a good talk with Sunni & Mat before dinner.
It was really good to pick their brains and get some business advice.

Sunni made dinner while Mat showed me some stuff about his business on the net.
After dinner I sat by the fire and finished my book.
I am so enjoying this ‘Chronicles of the Kings‘ series by Lynn Austin.
She really brings the Bible and history to life.

There was an emergency power shut down just as we were finished dinner and the younger children were going off to bed.
The older ones chatted by candle light around the table for a while.
Tim & I went off to bed.
I didn’t stay awake long at all!

Monday
was busy unpacking and getting mail sorted.
Kathryn & Peter had arrived from Christchurch on Friday – they are having a much needed holiday in The Cottage – so we socialised a bit.
The men took off to the workshop and sheds to do bloke stuff like fixing tractors.

Kathi & Christian from Germany arrived on Sunday afternoon.
Kathi wwoofed for us quite a few years ago.
This is the 3rd time she has come back.
It was so lovely to see her again.
Trouble is her stays are never long enough!
They love to walk and take photos so I sent them on a hike in the afternoon.

Following my recipe & directions Kathi & Christian helped me by making a large Malayan Fish Dish for dinner.
They converted it to a very delicious gluten and dairy free version especially for Kathryn

K&C were planning to move on as they have not a lot more time left but when they heard talk of a boat trip they decided to stick around a few more days.

Tuesday
Tim decided the weather was good for a few days out at D’Urville so the morning was spent preparing for their camping/hunting/fishing trip.
’88 South’ left around midday with a full crew.
Kathryn & I stayed back and enjoyed some piece and quiet.

Kathryn cooked a delicious dinner.
We watched ‘Dr Quinn’ while we ate.

Wednesday
I woke at 6am and then went back to sleep.
Was woken at 8am by Sunni calling me.
I was feeling so groggy.
There had been quite a wind storm during the night so I don’t think I slept all that well.
After a shower I managed to wake myself up.
Then I had the animals to feed.
The puppy gets her food 3 times a day.
I had to also feed and water the aviary birds and the rabbit.
It was a lovely day.

Kathryn came up and we chatted and she made lunch.
I made a few more baby cards.

I started transferring more of my pantry foods into the new containers that Graham picked up for me.
I worked quite late into the night to get them all done.
I am so happy with the clean, fresh, tidy & efficient new look

Kathryn cooked dinner again.
We watched ‘My Sister’s Keeper‘.
I had read the book so was keen to see what they had done with it.
Abigail Breslin is a favourite actress of mine and she didn’t fail to impress at all in this movie.

Thursday
I got up quite early and read my book in the spa.
I had a list of things I wanted to do so didn’t spend too long wallowing around.

Got a text from Anson saying that he and Tim had both shot a large stag each.
So they were pretty happy chappies.

I fed the animals.
Cleaned out the old pantry containers.
Chucked out all the rubbish lying about.
Tidied up the living room.
Made a large pot of soup.
Made humus.
Mixed up bran muffins,
Cleaned out Azzan’s room and cleared the Lego off the pile of timber in the school room.
Had just sat down to eat my breakfast and watch Dr Quinn when Graham arrived to work on the bedroom floor.
He ripped up the carpet.
The floor was so rotten.
It was kauri timber and about 100 years old
It should have lasted the distance but Graham said it has gotten damp over the years and the borer has gotten into it.

Old flooring gone out the window and starting to put in the new floor.

All done.
The timber is still a bit wet though so Graham wants it left to dry for a couple of weeks before he nails it down as the timber will shrink.
It is so nice not to break my neck when I walk in there now!

I was getting texts from Shanni saying they would be home around 6pm and they were all tired and STARVING!
In other words, ‘Mum please make dinner for us!’
I have been feeling really tired this arvo and my arm has been really aching.
I didn’t feel like peeling spuds and cooking a major dinner.
So Kathryn helped me cut up a heap of veges for a stir fry.
I cooked some pasta and threw it all together with some cans of tomatoes.
I grated cheese over their plates and the children were very happy with their vegetarian meal.

Leeann hitchhiked in from Nelson and got here about the same time the fishermen did.
Kathi & Christian decided they would drive into the night as they want to make it to Golden Bay tomorrow.
I was sad to say goodbye but glad they had been able to share the D’Urville experience.

Nathan is on his way back from camp as I type.
He is getting a ride in with friends of Glenn’s.
Cat, Sunni & Mat sailed motored cross the Cook Strait today from Mana.
There was barely any wind so they had a pretty flat boring trip over.
They have just arrived.
Seb has gone south to see Phoebe so we won’t see him for a day or three.
Bri & Abby will be here tomorrow night.

The nest is filling up

Memorial picnic

It was a glorious day on Sunday.
We packed up and headed into town to meet up with friends and rellies for a wander up the hill to Mum’s memorial seat.

My grandparents farm is now subdivided and called ‘Dry Hills Estate’.
When I was young I remember driving up a gravel road over cattle stops and narrow bridges to the converted shed which my grandparents made their home.
Now it has a ostentatious entrance way and sealed roads to very up market, prestigious houses.

The paddocks my grandfather grew wheat in are now converted into vineyards and lifestyle blocks.
We were walking up to the seat which is just above the large white house at the top centre of the subdivision.

We met at the tennis courts.
Lloyd & I drove our Terranos up to the locked gate and we all walked up onto the Wither Hills.
This is the emergency location marker just below the seat.

My Uncle Lloyd chose this spot for  the seat.
It is nestled below the water tanks and trees and looks out over the old farm.

The plaque we had made for the seat.

Ruby & Ruth did a spot of ‘guerilla gardening’ 
They planted some spring bulbs which hopefully will grow and add some colour to the dry brown hills.

Roland & Tim were the last to arrive.
This is the view looking out over the farm.
It extended from the road at the left across the 4 colourful vineyard blocks to the fenceline hidden behind the pine tree on the right and up the hill to the line of trees which my grandfather planted directly behind the guys,

Mum’s younger sister Janet, sent over some memories which her youngest brother, Lloyd read out to us all.
It is a wee bit long, but very moving & interesting, so I have included it here with her permission.

When I received the invitation to today’s picnic to reminisce, share memories and have fun, I thought, ‘What a nice idea!’ I’m sorry not to be with you all, but wanted you to know that George & I are thinking of you as you find your way up onto the hills. And as I thought about the Wither Hills and the part they played in our growing up years, memories came flooding back. I had never known life without my sister. I was 4 years old and Lesley 5, when we moved from Hillesden to Shelfield Farm, and as we grew older we ventured further afield on the farm and these hills became our playground – the steep tracks were each given prestigious street names & made up ‘Our City’, sliding from one part to another down the slippery shiny tussocks – great fun!

Then came the war years and like many other Marlborough families our parents offered hospitality to the many young Americans based at Omaka. So most Sunday’s, two or more would join us for Sunday dinner, then afterwards we would invite them to walk up onto the foothills to view Cook Strait, and weather permitting, get a glimpse of the North Island. Once at the top, we would produce some barley sacks and introduce them to the thrill of ‘riding’ them to the bottom, sometimes reaching great speeds as we manoeuvred our way from one lot of the tussock to the next, dodging the erosion ditches if possible…..! When everyone was exhausted, we led our unsuspecting friends once more up to the boundary fence and down into the creek to fill the aforementioned sacks with fir cones, which of course, once full, were far too heavy for a couple of 10 & 11 year olds to carry!  And so back to the house where our sympathetic Mother had cold drinks and plenty of eats for the lads. We kept contact with some of these young men for several years and watched with interest on our world map on the kitchen wall, where they were posted and where they eventually settled down after the war.

During our teen years we went further afield – over the boundary fence and up on to the ridge to the Trig Station, often taking with us groups of school friends (boys & girls!) and sometimes even a teacher or two. It was a wonderful place to go – a place to get life’s ‘tangles’ back into perspective. We could go day or night (by the light of the moon) and know we were perfectly safe.

Boarding school was the next big milestone in our lives and maybe that was when I really began to appreciate having a sister. Entering Nelson College for Girls as seniors entitled us to our own rooms and certain other privileges, but it was Lesley who encouraged me through patches of homesickness and kept me on the straight and narrow. Two years later we reluctantly separated – Les to Training College in Wellington for 3 years and me to Christchurch Hospital for 4 years. It was hard, but Lesley was a prolific letter writer and we both survived!

What excitement, when later on she got a job teaching at Burnham School, and if I was fortunate to get a weekend day off, I would ‘smuggle’ her into my room in the Nurses Home, and next day we would explore Christchurch by foot and on our trusty bikes (no gears in those days!)

Then back to Blenheim and our courting years – what better place to escape from 2 pesky little brothers than up the hills to sit and ponder life’s imponderables! – by the way, maybe you could prompt Owen & Lloyd’s memory of the wet cow pat episode! What the 2 suitors had to put up with! Both George & Reg put up with these 2 young rascals with long suffering good grace.

Following our double wedding we lived within cooee of each other for the first year and spent most of our weekends together. It was within that time that our firstborns arrived, so – more to share and precious times together.

The years sped by, with life taking us in different directions and lifestyles, but we kept in touch and always managed to celebrate our wedding anniversaries together – numbers increasing as their 5 and our 8, one by one put in their appearance. And so the cousins grew up knowing one another and when we could we shared holidays. Some of you here today will remember rough-housing it at Rakautara, camping at Huia, holidaying at Port Ligar – what fun!

So the years have passed, each one bringing more and more memories. Our nests have emptied and our families scattered, but one thing remains – the preciousness of families – each member so different, but each so important in their own right and as part of the whole. I am just grateful to God for Lesley. As sisters we didn’t always see ‘eye-to-eye’, nor understand where the other was coming from, but I always knew she was there for me and that was all that mattered. I miss her hugely, but know without a doubt, that the time will come when we will meet again and be more alive then that we can ever be here.

So, thank you, Lesley’s family, for today, and for the thought of a memorial seat, to which we can come and view this lovely corner of Marlborough whilst reflecting on the impact that Les & Reg had on each of our lives. And as we move on in life, may it lead each one of us to reassess life’s values and priorities.

Thank you for bearing with me as I’ve committed these few thoughts to paper. I’m sure today’s outing will be memorable and maybe the first of many such occasions – I hope so!
With our live
Aunty Janet & Uncle George

Then my niece Ruby read out a letter written about Mum’s historical work which was not able to be read at her funeral last year.

We enjoyed a picnic together and had a very happy time in the sun.

I was so thrilled that ‘The Golden Girls’ were able to come.
They are the group of ladies Mum used to hang out with, go on walking & traveling adventures with.
Bet W,  Sylvia O, Ann D, Anne P.

Some of the grandchildren – representing the 5th generation.

Our Couper cousins – Pete & Connie and kids came to represent their side of the family.
It was very special to have them join us.
Connie was so wonderful to Mum.
She used to come and sit with, and look after her, every Tuesday morning before Mum died.

Lloyd – the only representative for the 3rd generation in the centre,
with the four of us representing the 4th generation
Ruth, Roland, David & myself.

5th generation representation!
Luke, Shoshannah, Ruby & Azzan at back
Mahalia, Nelson, Sarah & Ben in front (Lincoln chose not to be in the photo at that point!)

Looking over David & Sasha at the gorgeous view of the farm

 Tim and I

Tim & I with our 3 youngest.

We spent a lovely couple of hours up there before the weather began to change.
We walked back down to the vehicles, said our goodbyes and headed home.
Tim took Shanni & Azzan, picked up the kakariki from a friends house where I left them so they wouldn’t get too over heated in the car.
Mahalia & I did some grocery shopping and then trundled homewards too.
We got home around 8pm.

2 wet days

Friday morning I left the 2 girls at the house and took Nathan into catch his 10:15am bus to Christchurch.
It was raining.
Azzan came with us.
We had a little time up our sleeves so were able to go get Nathan a mouse for his laptop.
I also got Shanni a camera case.
The sales lady at Noel Leeming’s was great.
She saw me checking out the cases and helped me find the right size using my camera and then when she realised I was baulking a wee bit at paying $35 for the one that fitted best, went away and managed to take the price down $11 to the match price of the other cases – I was very happy about that
Finally got Nathan onto the bus.
He had to wait a while as the connecting Nelson bus was late arriving.

Azzan & I whizzed through the supermarket and got some food for lunch and then went and spent a lovely hour with Christine.
The time flew far too quickly.
We don’t get to catch up very often and the times we do are always way too short.
From there we shot across town to meet up with Kathryn & Peter who were driving up from Christchurch to have a holiday in our Cottage.
We went to the Redwoodtown Garden Centre Cafe.
It was very nice but a little more expensive than I was wanting.

Peter & Kathryn headed off towards Port Ligar and Azzan & I went to the library.
He was in his element there and found a wonderful selection of books.
The predominant subjects this time were Anne Frank and Guinness Book of Records.

Then we nipped back to Christine’s.
She was at work but Kathy was there.
I had to check out my printer and call Epsom.
I was so brassed off cuz I had gone to all the trouble of having it plugged in and connected to my laptop so they could trouble shoot over the phone like I had been told, and they didn’t even try.
They just asked me what was happening and then told me where to take it for servicing.
If I had known all this from the start I could’ve taken it in while in Nelson and got it down while there.
Instead the guy was taking it from Blenheim over to Nelson cuz that is where his main workshop is

We then got a few last minute groceries and headed back to Pine Valley.
Aunty Val had arrived just before us with the two wee grandsons who were staying with them for a few days.
Shanni & Mahalia had gone out with Lloyd on the tractor after lunch and he had dropped them off at the Pine Valley Adventure Playground.
It had stopped raining and was rather a lovely afternoon.

Lloyd & Shanni went out hunting before dinner but didn’t get anything.
The girls had peeled kumara and pumpkin while I was in town so I roasted the kumara and made pumpkin salad for dinner.

Saturday

I had woken at 4:30am and couldn’t sleep so read for a while.
The wee boys woke at 6am so everyone was up early cuz wee boys who are missing their mum are not quiet
As forecasted the day was very wet.
We postponed the walk & picnic and just stayed indoors for the day.

I spent time helping Lloyd & Val with their computer.
Teaching them various things that they hadn’t been able to suss out.
It was all a bit new to me too cuz I am used to Apples, but I got it figured relatively easily and hope they have a bit more understanding of things now.

Val made soup for lunch.
The boys helped.
I love this photo

Azzan, who doesn’t normally like soup and who will do anything to avoid eating it, actually loved Val’s soup and wanted to get the recipe so I could make it for him.
The main difference is that I make creamy pureed sort of pumpkin/vege soups and Val’s vege’s are chopped before they are cooked and the resulting soup was more liquid.

Nelson had his nap in the lounge chair while we had lunch.

Then he played with Azzan & Shanni.

Luke was supposed to fly over from Wellington in the morning but due to the weather and very low clouds the planes were all cancelled.
He finally made it mid arvo.
Lloyd shot in to pick him up.
When he arrived he was put straight to work peeling apples with Mahalia & Azzan.
I made an apple crumble for dessert.

Shanni occupied Lincoln & Nelson in the lounge.

Mahalia loved Nelson.
She told me on the way home that –
‘Nelson is so cute.
His wee fat cheeks are just so mishy mushy.
They are so fat you never know if he has food in them or not.’

Shanni & Lloyd went out for another hunt but again despite seeing sign still got nothing.
After the wee boys  went to bed we had dinner while watching ‘Location, Location, Location‘ on the TV.
I hadn’t seen it before, it was quite interesting seeing how the other half lives and makes choices!
Lloyd & girls all squeezed onto the sofa – guess it was cozier than spreading out

David & Sasha came over from Nelson bringing home made Hot Cross Buns with them.
Later on in the evening Lloyd took Luke, David & Sasha out hunting.
I sent Shanni & Mahalia to bed as it was quite late.
Wouldn’t you know it!
They got a 50kg pig.
Poor Shanni!
She went out twice and all she got was wet feet – then they get a pig when she had to go to bed.
I knew I should’ve let her stay up.
It’s a tough call being a mother sometimes