Saturday, 21 December 2013

It must be Christmas

The tree, although small, is up and decorated - but there is a dearth of presents below as they are still waiting to be wrapped!

 I have also hung some of our inherited decorations
 Bill's mother had these (there are three) before we were married, so they must be nearly 50 years old
 This musical bell plays Silent Night and is about 70 years old as it was bought when Bill was very small.  Actually, if you click to enlarge, you will see the light shade behind which dates back to 1933.  It is handpainted china and we think it is really lovely.  That will definitely not go with the house when it is eventually sold - at some far distant time (we trust).
 Santa is only just over 40 years old, he plays Jingle Bells and was bought when our youngest son was about 2.
This also says Christmas to us in the tropics - mangoes and lychees, yum!
This year is a good season for both fruits so we will have our fill, but as well as that we will still have the traditional plum pudding with coins!  Nothing else will be hot - apart from the temperature, which is forecast to be about 30 degrees.  We are on the coast so we are lucky and will have a cooling breeze.  The town where I grew up on the inland side of the Great Dividing Range, is forecast to reach almost 40 degrees, with a very low humidity.

Wherever you are and whatever you are doing I hope you all enjoy the spirit of Christmas and have a wonderful New Year.

Monday, 16 December 2013

A lovely evening

Last night 'Christmas in the Gardens' happened at out Botanic Gardens, held on a Sunday this year as there had been a mixup with the cafe and there was a function for 100 people there on Saturday night.

What a good thing that turned out to be - we had one of the most successful evenings ever, the weather was perfect and nobody seemed to want to go home.

 The crowd came early with their blankets and chairs and picnics
 We sold flamefree candles (battery operated) and glo stiks, which the children loved.
 They were encouraged to wave their candles around in the air
 and dance to the music
This choir was the first group to perform, with some glorious classical Christmas music, thoroughly enjoyed by the older adults, but possibly not the right group to be performing there as the little ones were getting bored!
I always come home totally exhausted after this event, but I wouldn't miss it for worlds - the joy on the children's faces is more than enough satisfaction.

And Hamish and Alexander got into the spirit.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Last long post of photos from New Zealand

I keep running out of time to post these photos, but here goes

 This building was just near our hotel and fascinated us - we never did discover what it is used for.
 We spent a lovely day at Auckland Botanic Gardens with our extended family.  The children particularly loved it, there are some very special places for children in the Gardens.
 Here we all are, except for my nephew Peter who took the photo
 This was the view from the balcony of our hotel.  We went up to the viewing platform of the sky tower you can see there - 220 metres above ground.  The views were spectacular, all perfectly safe as we were behind glass.
 The blue tone is because of the glass I think, all the photos from the viewing platform came out like this.
 We finally saw some lovely roses in Auckland, we were too early everywhere else.  You need to click to enlarge the second photo which was a fantail displaying like mad just in front of us.  I was clicking and guessing as there was so much sun I had no idea what I was taking.
 We visited Kelly Tarlton's Aquarium, one of my favourite tours of the trip.
The aquarium is in an old converted sewerage tunnel and the penguins are wonderful.  The aquarium makes over 4 tonnes of ice every day to provide the habitat.  We were luck enough to arrive just on feeding time
 The two breeds are Gentoo and King - I could have stayed for hours watching them

 The gentoo penguins are breeding very successfully, the eggs were due to hatch in the next day or so and if you click to enlarge you will see the exposed egg under the penguin.

 The Rotorua Museum is an old Bath House from the late 1800s - people went to Rotorua for the steam baths.  What we saw looked pretty lethal to me, I would not like to have been taking the cure!
 This was the magnificent entrance to Te Puia, the Maori tourist centre with the geyser and mudpools, as well as much Moari culture.
 The main geyser was going off well behind us.

 This was a Maori meeting house - still used for Maori cultural events as well as tourists
 The weather in Whakatane where we were staying was not wonderful, and neither was the beach!
 These photos are loaded in the wrong order - this was the scene after the storm has passed
 This was the storm coming up and we were hightailing it home to avoid getting wet
This photo was of the storm approaching, and the one above (which I can't separate) is some roses in the Whakatane Botanic Gardens.
This has taken longer than I meant so I had better run and take the clothes of the line before the sun goes down.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

A very quick post

I still have some more photos to show you from New Zealand, but not much time to load them just now, so here are a couple of shots closer to home.

 Look what is in the middle of my nodding violet - two baby doves! (Click to enlarge the photo). The mother built the nest and laid her eggs while we were away - I had been chasing her out of the pot before that!  From her point of view I suppose it is an ideal location, the eggs couldn't fall out of the stupidly spindly nest she built, and the chicks are well protected from the crows - it makes watering the pot very difficult though!

 The poincianas have been flaming all round the city for the last few weeks, this is a very good flowering season.  I had not noticed the yellow poinciana in the Botanic Gardens before - it makes a lovely contrast.
I am off to a planning dinner meeting of our Gardens committee to decide what is happening next year - back with more photos in a day or so.