Tuesday 29th April

After my very late night I was a bit blurry when I woke up at 7:30am.
Had a good long very hot shower which helped.
It was pouring with rain.
45mm overnight and another 20mm expected this morning.
Nothing a good raincoat won’t deal too!
I was out the drive at 9am and down the road to catch up with my cousin Sally.
Hadn’t caught up with her in far too long so it was good to have some unlimited time with her.
We hopped into her car and drove down to Crisp Cafe.
I enjoyed a salmon & potato cake for brunch and we caught up over coffees.
Spent the next three hours catching up on lost months and years.
Finally at midday we had to make tracks, so back to her house and I picked up my car and headed down to Riccarton Mall.
Met up with Nathan & Mira and spent some time with them.
Left them to shop and I splashed through the rain along Moorhouse Ave to find Total Food Equipment to suss out a Vitamix machine.
Wow! What a cool shop.
Got my machine sussed – yippee, I’m joining the Vitamix brigade 🙂
Then it was time to head off to Halswell.
The flooding along the way was extensive.
The road was clear but there was ‘lakes’ along each side of the roads as I got closer to Halswell.
I got to The Old Vicarage at 3:30pm just before Jennie.
We had coffees and a small snack and chatted the rest of the afternoon away.
Then as my evening plans had changed we decided to order some dinner.
Enjoyed 3 lovely hours having a really good d&m with my friend.
We went to the same primary school ‘way back when’!
Then rekindled our friendship as adults about 30 years ago.
Lots of sharing over the years.
I was back at Louisa’s at 7pm.
Rain had eased a tad thankfully.
Quiet evening catching up blogs and chatting with Jesika.
Making more plans 🙂

Monday 28th April

Woke to a wet Christchurch morning.
The forecast was for the rain to increase so there was a lot of anxiety amongst some of the city folk re more flooding.
It is pretty horrendous here for those who are affected by land sinkage since the earthquakes.
Sure enough as the day wet on and the weather got worse the water levels in some areas rose again.

I was up and away by 9am.
I zipped down to Northlands Mall to return a top at Farmers and to get some sushi rice for Madeline.
Parked in the wrong place and ended up having to walk the full length of the mall to find Countdown, only to find they didn’t have any.
So back to Pak’n’Save and they had plenty.
Got up quite a sweat traipsing up and down the stupid mall!!
Was very glad to get out of there.
Drove round to visit Janet.
Had a very congenial visit over a cuppa 🙂
Just wasn’t long enough!
Then at 11am I got a call to go pick up Madeline & George.
Louisa had dropped them off at their grandparents place so they could sweep up all the fallen leaves and make the place look a tad nicer for their return from their holiday.
They had done as good a job as they could before the rain set in.
I dropped them back home and then headed off to pick up some stuff Bri had brought down for me from home.
She had arrived back late last night.
It was absolutely bucketing down and I was very glad of my warm raincoat.
I drove along to the Windmill Centre at Riccarton and found a park right outside the Ed Hooper cafe.
Was early so made a few phone calls while I had some time.
Hadn’t taked to Nathan since we left on our road trip so was absolutely delighted to find he & Mira were in Rangiora and coming into the city.
We arranged to meet later.
Fiona arrived so we spent her lunch hour having a good D&M over some good food.
She’s been a good mate of mine since our days at Secretarial School back in 1975.
Nathan & Mira arrived so I met them at Starbucks.
We caught up on the past few weeks and then went for a wander in mall.
It was 4pm so I gave them hugs goodbye and headed across the city to go visit Kathryn.
Lovely to see their house all fresh and lovely from the earthquake repairs.
I sat and knitted while we conversed over a cup of herb tea.
By 6pm the daylight had disappeared and it was time for them to go out and for me to head back to Louisa’s.
Madeline had made sushi.
She had made me two rice cakes as I don’t like the nori.
You did very well for the first time making it Madeline – well done 🙂IMG_6895
After dinner Madeline was very tired, even if she didn’t think she was 😉
So she went off to bed and George did some study.
Louisa & I relaxed and watched a movie.

The cat enjoyed the fire and after the movie ended we talked, and talked some more and before we knew it it was 2am!!
Off to bed.



Sunday 27th April

The leaders had to be at camp by 10am today.
It was a grey day with rain threatening.
It got colder and colder throughout the day.
Mahalia & Azzan went off with Lenore down to where they were all meeting up.
I packed up and then made the most of the peace & quiet to do some internet banking etc.
Lenore popped back up to the house and then we sat and chatted over a cup of tea.
Then all too soon it was lunch time so we continued talking over a lovely chicken salad.
Another cup of tea and then I hopped in the car with Lenore and we drove down to where the kids were all hanging out.
There was another group using the camp facilities who were not leaving until mid afternoon so the CEF team were having fun interacting and socialising at the other end of camp.
I sat and chatted with Peter.
The girls were all enjoying each others company.
Finally it was getting too cold to sit out any longer so I walked back up to the house.
Met up with Ross and ended up talking with him for another hour.
Easy to do 😉
Finally loaded all my gear into the car and left around 3:45pm.
Headed straight to Rangiora.
Called up Jesika and chatted to her on loudspeaker as I drove.
Then popped into visit Elizabeth & Robin for a while.
Nice to catch up with them – it’s been a while.
Left around 6pm and drove on into Christchurch, chatting with Jesika again.
Great to have free calling to Australia on my phone plan now.
Plus helps to wile away the driving hours.
I did some searching around Northlands for some food for my dinner, finally found Burger Wisconsin and got myself one.
Louisa, Roger & kids were just back from Auckland so I took it back to their house and munched it all up.
I was quite hungry by this point.
Roger & Madeline went off to get groceries and came back with sushi ingredients.
Madeline wants to have a go at making it.
George was cleaning his room & moving in with Oliver, graciously allowing me to sleep in his bed for the week.
It was very cosy and warm and I was very glad to collapse into it.

Saturday 26th April

Glorious day dawned.
But after late nights etc everyone was dragging the chain in the waking up and getting themselves organised area!
There was some discussion as to what to do with the day and Steve drove off to check out the Waimak River status.
The kids and I packed up and were leaving just as he arrived back.
That river was too high and dirty so we arranged to meet later at Rakaia Gorge and go from there.
We drove over to Hororata to spend some time with Keith & Kass.
They are looking after 4 youngsters and on arrival the girls all gelled very quickly.
Mahalia loved how friendly Tallia & Jade were – AND – there was a horse!!
Azzan took their dog for a fairly energetic walk and then hung out with Shae.
K&K and I sat out in the porch and enjoyed the morning sunshine over a cuppa and a chat.
But for late autumn that sunshine was very hot so eventually we headed indoors.
Just as I was making moves to leave, after being there for an hour or so, the girls wanted to go riding!
So Mahalia went off for a quick ride on Kate while the boys were having fun outside on the trampolines.
We needed to move along if we were going to meet Steve & Laura at the gorge so had to drag kids away around 12:30pm.
They were pleading as we left for the kids to come stay with us on the farm so hopefully that will happen soon.
Said good bye to Keith & Kass and we were on our way again.
I was very glad to find the crew parked up at the river as we had no cell reception to trace them otherwise.
Laura & Merren had packed up food for a picnic so it was spread out and we enjoyed our lunch whilst watching quite a few other boats being launched into the river.
Finally Steve around 2pm decided to put his boat in.
And 15 mins later Mahalia, Azzan & I were boarding and zipping off up the river.
My photos are pretty random as I was just pointing and shooting and holding on tight!
The river was in flood so plenty of water but that gives other difficulties.
You can see the normal colour of the river here when we came over it just a couple of days ago.
But Steve had it all under control so I was quite relaxed and really enjoyed the trip.
It is very spectacular scenery up there.
Majestic, colourful cliffs, narrow guts of water opening out into wider stretches.
Finally we turned back and headed down river again.
Going back was much bumpier and our spines got a real hammering as we bounced and jolted our way over the choppy waters.
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Thanks so much Steve – it was fantastic.
Great to be out in the elements doing something so exhilarating.

Then it was Kristi & Merren’s turn.
Azzan was more than happy to go for a second trip 🙂
Laura & I sat and chatted whilst swatting sandflies.
Mahalia relaxed in the car.
With the combination of being really weary & the hot sun I was battling quite a headache so eventually succumbed to taking some Panadine.
By the time they returned it was 3:30pm and the day was beginning to cool off.
Time was leaving us too so we had to make tracks as we had nearly 2 hours of driving ahead of us.

We drove across to the Waimakariri Gorge bridge and then down via Cust.
Stopped their briefly to get an ice cream and stretch legs and wake myself up.
Then fuelled up in Rangiora.
The sun was setting as we drove north towards Waipara.
Had to pull over so Mahalia could get these photos.
The sky was so beautiful.
We arrived at Ross & Lenore’s around 6pm.
So good to finally stop.
I had been battling to stay awake for the last part of the journey.
Crashed out!
Shoshannah breezed in soon after with a group of her friends.
They were all happy and bright and exuding massive amounts of young hormones and energy!
They left and we had dinner.
Lenore had cooked a chicken and veges – it was so good, I was starving!
Then the kids eventually headed off to bed.
Last night before camp starts so need some sleep.
R&L and I chatted until way after 11:30pm.
Then I fell into bed.
Slept like a log!

Friday 25th April

It was a very mixed morning weatherwise.
Blue skies tempted us, then the showers started, and stopped and started again.

Finally the sun came through and the day was glorious.
I had to go change some clothes to cool off!
Laura & Merrin were enjoying wandering in the garden.
I love the old buildings here.
The house was the original old farm house before it was all subdivided so there are some cool old buildings here.
Lovely old roses too – unfortunately some are being rather a pest for Laura as they insist on growing where she doesn’t want them.

I love these bifolding doors.
They really bring the outside in and the inside out.
They were open most of the day.
The wind got up more as the day went on, but the trees shelter the house.
Mahalia & Azzan chilled out for most of the morning.
Then they gave the car a really good clean out and got rid of loads of rubbish and started sorting their bags for camp.
Then they went off for a long walk.
I caught up on emails etc.
Around 3pm Laura, Steve, Merren & Ryan went over to help Bruce get the silage cover on.
Then back to make dinner.
It was Bruce’s b’day so a good excuse for him to come join his two sisters and have a family dinner.
When dessert was served Kristi presented her father with a chocolate birthday cheesecake.
Lots of dessert to go round.
Once again far too much food.
But that leaves lots for tomorrow 🙂
It was nice to catch up with Kathy & Bruce and their family – Kristi, Luke & Daniel.
Hadn’t seen them in quite sometime.
They left sometime before 11pm.
I thought my two had gone off to bed, but found them curled up in the corner watching  movie!
They did some more quick packing and then headed to their sleeping bags.

Thursday 24th April

I woke at 7:30am so zipped through the shower and got myself organised to head off soon after 8am.
Drove 45mins into Christchurch and picked up Mahalia.
She and Madeline had been having a great girls time.
Stayed half an hour waiting for Louisa to get home, but gave up and headed off to do the shopping.
Mahalia wanted to get some socks so we went to Northlands Mall.
This was not in my plan so I was feeling a bit rushed having to slot in this extra time.
She found sox at The Warehouse and then we zipped along the mall to Farmers and found shorts for her and some other things for me.
I wanted to pop round and see Janet & David briefly before leaving, so we did that, although the navigating took us a wee way off course :-/
Was good to see them both, will go back for longer next week.
Then we headed to Raeward Fresh in Hareward Road to fill Azzan’s shopping list and get some lunch.
David sent us off on the Papanui Road route, I think he was forgetting the busy traffic!!
We should have followed Janet’s directions, it would’ve been so much quicker 😉
We eventually got moving after some long queues and twiddling of thumbs.
Zipped around Raewards gathering up all the requirements from a most interesting menu list.
It was getting later so we decided to get some take out food from the cafe, but the cafe was manic!
We chose my food front he cabinet, gave our order but what I had chosen had already been pre sold, so I made another choice.
We stood back to wait for it to be warmed.
Then a guy came looking for us, apologised profusely that my order had been pre sold again and he was giving me my money back and letting me choose something else for free.
Can’t argue with that 🙂
Finally we took our food and drove back to Darfield.
I dropped Mahalia off with the groceries so she could help Azzan start his cooking.
He had gone to the river with Steve!
So she made a start on the cheesecake.
It was a raw vegan recipe.
I went to the village to meet up with Emma.
She was delayed so I wander the street and visited a few of the shops.
Found a present for my friend 🙂
It was a very impracticable one, but one to make her smile 🙂
We met up at the Express Yourself Cafe.
Once we had ordered our afternoon tea I presented Emma with my crazy gift.
It did make her smile 🙂

When you squeeze his hand he sings ‘Zip-aDee-Doo-Dah’ – you cannot help but smile 🙂
We had a most enjoyable time together, as we always do.
Just never have enough of those times, which I guess makes them all the more special.
Love yo my friend xxx

Finally got back around 5:30pm-ish to find my two busy busy in the kitchen.
It was Master Chef night.
Mahalia proudly showed me her cheesecake which she had stashed away in the freezer.DSC00200
They had the bacon omelettes in the oven
And he was busy stirring his beef dish.
Mahalia was making salads etc and I was told to get out of the kitchen and to nt make any suggestions or comments!
We adults took great pleasure in being able to relax at the other end of the living room and converse without having to worry about cooking dinner.
I had found candles in the village which delighted my young man.
Knew they would.
His table would seem very abnormal without candles.
He set the table and poured the first round of drinks, soda water with a twist of lemon.
Finally we were all allowed to come to the table and the feast began.
Entree was broccoli & blue cheese soup with bacon omelettes.DSC00209
It was so filling that I requested a very small portion of mains.
Mains was beef schnitzel in a Chinese sauce, with spring rolls, Asian dumplings and salad.
Drinks with this was red sparkling grape juice.
Then after a fashionable delay we were served dessert.
The cheesecake was delicious and the fruit kebabs were absolutely perfect to finish off the meal.DSC00215
Afterwards we sat around and gave Azzan & Mahalia our individuals evaluations and scores.
5 of us gave a score out of 10 for each of the three courses.
They all added up to 134 out of 150!
Then Azzan gave us a summary of what he would do differently next time and finally the entertainment for the night was them playing with the red wax from the melted candles.
And using my red highlight setting I captured these photos of the chefs 🙂
An excellent night.
Thanks to Azzan for having the ideas and desire to create the menu.
Thanks to Mahalia for being a wonderful sister and helping Azzan with the cooking.
And thanks to Laura & Steve for allowing them to get loose in the kitchen, and to Merrin for dropping us all into it 🙂


Wednesday 23rd April

Azzan and I had a leisurely beginning to the day.
Inez made us a deliciously nutritious smoothie to start our day with.
I had a lovely chat with her in the kitchen while the kids were busy being kids.
We were all packed and ready to go by 10:30am.
Katherine & her three darlings had arrived along with Josh, Hope & Aroha.
Emma & Amy had stayed the night, so the 8 of them were getting busy on their Autumn projects.
Knitting was the theme when we left.
A busyness of wool and colour – shame we had to leave.
Looked heaps of fun.
We had time to go to Farmers and find some tights I wanted.
Walked through to find Graeme, Olly & Liz at Mike Pero’s office on the other side of the road.
Nice to catch up with Liz before we left.
We then headed off to find Arthur Street Kitchen.
It was getting really cold so once there I headed off to the bathroom and changed from sandals to tights and boots!
Cathy arrived soon afterwards and then Maurice joined us too which was an added bonus as we hadn’t caught up with him last time.
It was a lovely spot to meet up.
Very busy but we still got our food in a reasonable space of time.
It was delicious food too 🙂
Cathy finally had to head back to work so we trundled off on our way north.
We stopped off at Hopkinsons at Washdyke cuz Inez had suggested we should.
And of course I always do what I am told 😉
It was a wonderful place to spend time and money!!
We then carried on and headed inland towards Geraldine.
We did plan to explore the town but when we got there we just wanted to keep going.
So after a quick comfort stop at the info centre we were on the road again.
Stopped above Rakaia Gorge.
I got caught when I hopped out to take some photos.
The temperatures were much cooler and the wind gusts almost knocked me flying!
There are two bridges across the gorge.

The first is a reinforced concrete arch structure to the west.
And the second historic bridge is constructed of wrought iron in an unconventional form of trussed beam.
The water had a very very cold look to it!!
We carried on to Darfield and thanks to my iPhone maps found Stephen & Laura’s place with no trouble at all.
Merrin is visiting for a week too so it was good to catch up with them all over dinner and then evening.
Azzan was very entertaining and there was much chat about Master Chef and Come Dine With Me, two of his current favourite tv shows.
He has spent days, if not weeks, writing up menus and ideas of what he would do.
Merrin said he could experiment on her.
So before he knew what was happening he was organised to cook dinner for us all the next night!
He rose to the challenge and presented me with a shopping list.

Tuesday 22nd April

After we were all up and showered etc the decision was made to go out.
Clare & Doug were leaving  – love this pic I took of them with Inez and her granddaughters Hope & Aroha.
Said good bye and then piled into Inez car, swung past her daughter’s house and she followed us with her three wee ones out to The Stables Cafe.
It is a wonderful place.
Great choice Inez!
Fantastic for the kids as there are so many animals for them to go see and feed.
Great for the adults as there is good coffee and food.
The kids lined up and waited patiently for their morning tea.
Azzan didn’t want anything sweet, or fried, or fatty….
So he opted for the omelette.
It looked pretty darn good actually.
The kids all went off outside to explore and we sat and chatted.
Lots of room for them to safely run about.
Eventually Catherine went to find Sophie and brought her back to the cafe as the older kids were going too far away.
Sophie was not at all happy with that decision.
Until we all went and reordered some more coffees and she got a gorgeous purple cup especially for her.
That made her smile.
And isn’t that just the most gorgeous, cutest wee face you ever did see?
I had a herb tea and fresh cheese scone for my second order.
Very prettily served.
Azzan took some photos of us all before we ventured out into the yard.
It really is a fantastic place.
Loads of seating room and no loud music blaring in your ears when you are wanting to talk!
Outside was lovely.
It might have been grey and overcast but the autumn colours were so pretty.
This magnificent chestnut tree towered over the yard.
The children were having fun in the large ‘dolls house’.
Everywhere I looked was an artists dream.
A group shot of them on the wheel feature.
Azzan on the top.
Ella, Hope & Jacob in the middle and Aroha & Sophie at the front.
Inez is planning a holiday craft project with the children.
Topic Autumn.
So she was suggesting they all look for some leaves and feathers to take home.
But it was more fun to run about!
A last look at a few of the animals there.
The kids discovered this hen had 6 wee chicks hiding underneath her just as we were about to leave.
That caused a lot of excitement.
We came back to the house and I did some internet shopping for the Lodge and then around 4pm I headed off to the nearby shopping centre to post some mail.
Inez had told me about a good shoe shop there so I popped into see what they had.
The staff were so cool.
I have such a hard time getting comfortable shoes and they were so helpful.
Brought me all they had and I had a good try on, then finally found a really cute pair of short boots with just the right amount of heel and they were really comfortable.
So bought them and headed back to the house.
Found Inez and the girls in the midst of a lovely creative sewing session.
These kids are so incredibly blessed to have such a wonderful grandmother.
She does so much for and with them.
We had a really yummy casserole for dinner.
Perfect for a cool evening.
Olly & Josh joined us so we had a full table.
The evening quickly disappeared.
Am really enjoying getting to know these cousins.
Been a lovely couple of days.

Monday 21st April

I woke early and did some more searching for buses.
No seats available!
Then on my way to the shower just after 8am I got enough cell reception to call up the only company left to try, Budget Bus Shuttles.
Yes, they did have a seat but they left at 10am from Timaru.
I quickly booked Mahalia a seat, tore back upstairs and told the kids to move it – fast!
And I raced inside for a shower.
We were all packed and saying our goodbyes and many many thanks to Ann & Donald by 9am.
We arrived at the iSite in plenty of time to relax, have fun and grab some takeaways for Mahalia to eat on the bus.
Although Azzan found half of her order left in the car after she had left!
At the Railway Cafe waiting for the order to be heated.
Muuuum, put the camera away!’
‘But I just have to get one of that chandelier, it’s real pretty.’ 😉
And then the kids made friends with a local resident while we waited for the bus.
We waved goodbye to Mahalia, she was delighted to be heading off to Christchurch to spend a few days with Madeline.
Azzan & I went off for a drive around the city, it was early and it was Easter Monday, so not a lot of activity.
Called into Briscoes to check out the sale, then went to BurgerKing to wait for Corrinne to arrive.
She & Cleveland were on their way to Invercargill so we were meeting up for coffee as they passed through Timaru.
We were only there to wait for them as it was a central easy to find spot, no way was I going to eat there!
Azzan got a drink while we waited cuz ‘it’s the polite thing to do Mum’ 😉
I had exhausted the internet allowance when they arrived so we packed up and went to find some decent food.
When they arrived we scooted off to find somewhere with reasonable food that was open.
Eventually found Mocca and spent a lovely hour there catching up on lost time.
Finally just before 1pm I dropped them back at their car and they continued their journey south and we found our way to my cousin Inez & Graeme’s place.
Thankfully I could remember from Friday the general direction of where it was as my iPhone was hiccuping and wouldn’t load any internet stuff so couldn’t use maps.
Inez had lunch all ready so we relaxed and enjoyed her wonderful cooking.

The afternoon was spent doing just what we all needed to do.
I sat and knitted whilst talking with Graeme’s sister Clare.
She & Doug were visiting from Blenheim for the weekend.
Inez’s cat Bear entertained himself with my knitting until Azzan helped put a stop to that for me.
Then after a while he got bored and curled up for an arvo nap.
Good afternoon for it.
Overcast and cold.
Inez was doing what she loves – being busy in the garden.
She has an amazing garden – very productive and impressive.
Graeme & Doug had made a huge clearance of the kiwifruit vine etc in the morning and they were now getting a chook run made.
Once that was all done Inez ushered her chickens into the new run.
Graeme spotted me taking photos through the window 🙂
Azzan was happy to just chill out and spent the afternoon playing with his egg on my phone, curled up behind the couch on his laptop, and writing in his book.DSC00077

Early evening a friend popped in for a visit so we sat round talking over drinks.
Then we enjoyed a delicious dinner on our knees in the lounge and watched the tv news.
So good to have home cooked meals when you’ve been on the road for as long as we have.
Azzan & Inez’s favourite tv show was on, so we all watched Master Chef.
Just hope I can get to see the finals, it’s getting to the nail biting stuff now!!
Finally all rolled off to bed and I slept soundly.

Sunday 20th April

Another lovely lay in day.
I got up midmorning and took my knitting downstairs.
It soon got far too hot so I had to go strip off some clothes.
The weather is so fickle at present that it is hard to assess what to wear some mornings.
John & his friend were working on their air rifles with earnest concentration.
This is the wonderful table I mentioned yesterday.
It is the centre piece of this home.
Lunch time and we were all called in to partake in a royal feast.
Without trying too hard I realised later I had managed to catch 6 of the 8 children in one photo!
Azzan was not at all shy about getting his lunch.
He showed great enthusiasm for the food 🙂
It is great to see him with his appetite back to normal after the past two weeks.
After lunch he was outside with some of the kids booting around a soccer ball.
They are all enthusiastic players, he is a wanna be player, so he has loved getting involved here.
I love the 2nd photo, he went racing over to kick the ball, skidded in the damp grass and fell flat on his back.
I caught him just as he was going down!!
I have been playing with my new camera today.
It’s a Sony DSCHX60
Experimenting with all the bells and whistles.
Mahalia took this one of Ann & me in her domain.
Then I had to get one of them too 🙂
I was feeling somewhat poorly.
Had a headache from some really tight muscle knots in my neck & shoulder so I went off to have a sleep.
Azzan took his camera and went off walking with Mahalia and the other kids.
These are a random selection of his photos 🙂

They returned later in the arvo.
I came downstairs and hung out with Ann.
It is Sunday.
On Sunday’s they eat a main meal at midday and at night they have dessert.
What a great system!!
I was playing with the settings on the camera and found the red highlights.
It’s so much fun 🙂
Dessert in technicolour and in red highlight.
My kids had a rest upstairs and the others all went off later to play some more soccer.
They were late back so we decided to start without them.
Malcom arrived just before so of course stayed to help us out with the dessert! DSC00059
My two went off to bed after dessert.
Of course they never settled down for a sleep!!
Azzan spent the evening watching YouTube videos and Mahalia was on her tablet.
I spent the rest of the evening showing Ann photos & videos of the kids and weddings etc.
Then we visited my blog pages from 14 months ago as she hadn’t seen any of Tim’s funeral etc.
Tears were shed in the reliving of it all, but it was okay.
Then all of a sudden it was 11:30pm and Mahalia was down looking for food.
She made toast which smelled really good so I made some too.
Came to bed just on midnight with toast & relish with cheese – yum!