Monday, 23 June 2014

Mid Winter Solstice Dinner

 I have been with my Dad for five weeks now...
Living with him in his villa at Woodcote
Retirement Village. I don't have a lot of
experience of living in retirement villages
but I have to say that I think this is one of the best.
In New Zealand we have just passed the
winter solstice. Everybody in the village
was invited to dinner... Including me!
And what a dinner and occasion it was.

 The tables were beautifully set...

 The loveliest out of season fresh flowers decorated
each table... Dark red velvet roses...

 Chocolates... Wine glasses...
Every person had a rolled up menu...

 Everybody gathered... And got themselves seated.
This is the smaller of the two dining rooms
for the people who live in the serviced apartments and
in the villas... And on this occasion, for any guests.

 Chatting... And waiting in anticipation...

 This is where I sat... 
With Dad and his friends Leo and Lex

 And here come the staff... These are the two activities
people, Christine and Louise... Today  magicians
with their magic wands...  They came bounding
in to much laughter and applause...
Bearing gifts of wine, bubbles and other drinks...

 This is Mouse. He lives in the rest home
but had decided to dress up and join the fun...

 Here is Liz... Another magician bearing bubbles...
 Which she proceeded to pour into everybody's glass.
Liz is the manager of Woodcote
and I can't sing her praises highly enough.
The most wonderful person who turns
this retirement complex into a village family. 
This dinner is the 'family' Christmas dinner - mid winter-
because everybody is 'at home'. Not like mid summer 
Christmas when lots of people are away...

 Christine is 'doing things' with her magic wand
as dinner arrives on the big trolley... Sharyn in
charge of all that... Another amazing staff member.
Sharyn looks after the people in the serviced
apartments and this dining room. She knows
all the people and all their likes and dislikes. 

 Every meal has hot gravy poured on... Cranberry sauce
for those who want it... And served with a smile.

 Dinner was superb... Menu above...

 Christmas plum pudding served with custard
(I don't like custard) and lashings of cream...

And several refills of bubbles...
And chocolates to eat if you had room!
Very replete it was time to move on...
To the rest home dining room to watch the
'real' magician for some magical moments...

Josh Grimaldi...

 He was very clever... Louise
his willing? helper... In the box is a glass
of water... tipped up and over and every
which way... But no water fell out.

Marilyn... who looks after about 25 people
in one end of the rest home...
She is about to have her head chopped off...
But miraculously when the blade falls... Her
 head is intact...Mmmm... How does Josh do this?

He was highly entertaining for an hour or so...And of course
the trick everyone was waiting for... The white rabbit that
appeared in this cage where previously there had been
a white dove that magically appeared in a silver roasting  dish when 
the  lid was lifted then was put in the cage so it couldn't fly away...
It disappeared to be replaced by the rabbit... Amazing.
Josh very kindly took the rabbit around so everybody could 
stroke it... It was very placid and not at all perturbed
when one old man picked it up by its feet and 
wanted to take it home... Josh wasn't having a bar of that
though... He wasn't going to part with his magic rabbit.

It was a very special and fun day. I congratulate
all the staff for the amazing effort they put into
making sure everyone had such a great time.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Cleaning The Silver!

In Dad's kitchen drawer is this collection of lovely
silver spoons. My mother was interested in
antiques and would have both inherited some
of them and bought others as treasures from 
various places. There were all incredibly tarnished
and looking very sorry for themselves, especially
the one on the far left that had been in the salt jar.
I decided I would polish them...
It brought back childhood memories of the days
when we had a lot of silver... Silver tea services...
Silver trays... Silver cutlery sets... Silver serviette rings...
And they were all regularly polished...
Usually on a Saturday...
I wonder if your family had such rituals?
So I got out the 'Silvo' and polishing
clothes... And ended up with lovely clean
shiny spoons... My favourite is the little
round salt spoon. The one on the left
that has been in the salt jar is very tarnished...
I couldn't get that one clean.
I don't have the polishing bug a any more...
Once was enough!

Friday, 13 June 2014

Life Is Short...

One of my lovely daughters posted this on my Facebook
 page  this morning.  I've been pondering on it...
 On and off all day... Thinking... Am I happy with how
I am living my life and what I am doing? 
How do I express love... For others...
For myself? What am I angry about... 
What am I going to do about it... What am
I fearful of/about... Memories... Am I building
a bank of memories I am happy to look back on?

I don't have an immediate answer to these
questions but they have caused me to think
and consider... What needs changing... Dumping...
Cherishing... Living...

So I thought I would share it with YOU.


Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Tractors... And More Tractors...

 Dad and I went to visit my friend Marilyn who I went to
 primary school with... We have known each other for sixty five years!
A long time. Our lives have gone in different directions but 
whenever I am in Christchurch I go and visit. Marilyn
and her husband Bob, were pig farmers but have retired
from that now... Pig farming has changed and their
son has taken over. Whenever I visited, a highlight
was walking through the pig sheds... Big pigs, little pigs...
Baby pigs... But no more it is such a technical business
today that the pig sheds are totally enclosed, sealed and
out of bounds for hygiene and disease reasons.

So instead I went to visit these two very large sheds
with totally different contents...

 Tractors... Yes tractors... All shapes, sizes, colours
and brands. All lovingly restored...

 Right down to the last smallest detail...

 New coats of paint...


 An amazing and large collection...

All Bob's pride and joy and the result of many
hours of hard work...

And some are still waiting... I think you need another
lifetime Bob!

Lots of people go to visit... I'm told restoring old tractors
is a global hobby. Are you an old tractor enthusiast?

Here's where you will find Marilyn & Bob...
They would love to meet you and share their hobby.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Barry's Bay Cheese... Banks Peninsula

 Since I have been in Christchurch most of my time has been
consumed looking after my father and considering a move
for him into full care... But we have been out and about.
We set off one day, heading to Banks Peninsula and
Barry's Bay to find the famous cheese factory...

In this photo Barry's Bay is just to the left of Onawe
at the head of the Akaroa Harbour...

 The view from the top of the hills looking down to Akaroa...

 And we came to Barry's Bay...

And the cheese factory... Where cheese has been made
since 1895 when it produced its first cheddar...
It has been made the traditional way, preserving
the original methods. It takes a lot of time and
love... But they have won a lot of awards.
Read the story here...

It's a beautiful, historical building...
All by itself among the paddocks...

During the cheese making season, cheese is made every other
day. There is a shop and tasting room and on one side of
this room there is a huge window where you can view the
whole cheese making process. Here is the long vat that
is filled with milk then the culture added. This turns the
milk into curds and whey as it is stirred...

Here all the whey has been drained off... the curd is chopped
 up with big rollers with spikes on them... The curd is pushed
to one end of the vat, the whey continually draining off...
It is then cut into large square slabs, the squares in the middle 
of the vat are piled on top of the outer rows of squares then
each square, two slabs deep is manually put into round containers,
each lined with a net basket... So the whey continues to drain out.
The round containers are then stacked and pressed for four
hours then the cheeses are put into another vat of brine.
These continuing processes are to remove the whey and
create hard cheese...
Cheese rounds removed from the tins they have 
been pressed in... Watch a short video of the
whole process here...

Here the cheese rounds are stacked

Boxed for transport...

And here it is.. Ready to eat...

We tasted all on offer and bought several litte
blocks to take home... Have a look at the great
choice and variety here

A great place to visit and taste and buy from
the array of award winning cheeses.
Find a map and details to visit here...