Sunday, 27 December 2009

Christmas in the deep south

Here we are recovering from Christmas with several firsts. We had our first experience of midnight mass and our first lying on the sand sleeping on Christmas day. Our first musical quartet with Sax, Flute, Clarinet and Chanter! Also we had most excellent stuffing for the turkey with Cranberries - seriously yummy.

We opened our presents to find amongst other thing a Glory Year edition of the Oor Wullie & The Broons and a Maori cookery book.

I am currently cooking my way through it but having to hunt for
karakawa, herpito and turnip tops today was a challenge.

End product was delicious. January is coming and the diet is scheduled for the three weeks before we go to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Four Nations

********************************A trip of at least 4 Nations - looked like Norway, Switzerland, Spain & New Zealand - was a great 3 days as Dougie & Marianne arranged everything to take us up to Milford Sound Fiords then Queenstown before taking us back to Dunedin through Central Otago. Lots of "WOW!" moments.
We took a boat trip out to the sea from deep in the fiord but thankfully turned back before the swell got to us. We went up Ben Lomand on the gondola and took luges back down.Next we swam and the boys staged a university boat race, thankfully Edinburgh beat Glasgow so honour was mantained. We had a most excellent villa for $50 a head with more home comforts than home so all was good, and we saw the sun go down through a haze of Spanish bubbly. Nice.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Heading Sooth...

We are heading Sooth and it feels like driving North as it gets cooler and more like the A9 the further we go. First stop was Anne & David at Wellington where we had two nights and several hours of yarning time. Then next day we crossed the Cook Strait between the North and South Islands. Four hours of great scenery and good food on a flat calm sea. We drove down the coast and enjoyed the sites of fat sea lions and fur seals basking on the beach. We texted Alison on the way down for information and visited the other sister from Cott in Papay George & Wilma who were two weeks into a new house.

The scenery in the South is totally different and the roads are in better shape so the driving is so easy it gets boring. We made it to Kaiapoi where the Burgons lived for 6 months - they are not forgotten and we had some nice visits to the Church and the house that James built. We stayed on a very posh pig farm and got great bacon for breakfast.

We had fun with the boulders at the beach at near to Moeraki and although we got slightly damp it was worth it. Twenty minutes later we arrived at Dunedin - tell you more soon as...

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Christmas trees and all that Jazz

Today Fiona had to meet her Maori ladies' project team to decorate a Christmas Tree at the Meteor Centre - fund raising for Christian conservation charity 'A Roche' in Portugal using recycled trash. Our tree used a rainbow theme with milk bottle tops although the angel did smell a bit funny as we didn't wash them all. Then we had to (very sadly) decline spare tickets to see the Proclaimers in Auckland as Les was playing his sax in the Hamilton Jazz Club and we were taking our Columbian friends along - the food was great however and the dancing was far better than than at the Proclaimers gig so we had a great night. In the morning we set off to visit Anne & David in Wellington, Paul & Lesley near Christchurch and finally Douglas & Marian in Dunedin, by which time it will be Christmas Day and we will discover if our tree won the $1000 prize. What a daft upside down world we live in - mince pies in Summer - Christmas on the beach Santa Hats on stage and our tree being sold on 'Trade Me' the NZ ebay! What fun.

Friday, 11 December 2009

What a GREAT Barrier Island

Just to keep you up to date we returned last night from spending a week on Great Barrier Island staying in a friend's "Bach" or to us luxury beach front haven! We saw a dog passing most days but that was about it. Hot sunny weather and cloudless skies - so unlike Hamilton. We sat in the hot springs, swam in the sea and slept. We even had time to get caught up on some class reading which we had to finish. We played scrabble and didn't fight (Not sure about the word 'clipe' mind you!) The cool thing is that they have no mains electricity so you pretty much have to go to bed when it gets dark. They also have very few tarmacadam roads so we were really grateful to have the 4 wheel drive to reach the various beauty spots, including a visit to a couple who live on the very top of the hill. We met them at Church and she was of an original settling family from the 1800s and he was a Mouat fae Shetland so we had a great visit there. We left just in time as they are having a Bike Ride today so the ferry was mobbed last night and it really reminded us of the fever pitch on Westray the night before the regatta. We were highly entertained by the local birds and their raucous calls although not so entertained by the local variant of oyster catcher which is worse than a picky terno at dobbing you on the heid - they are vicious and unkind to rainbow hats. Th seagulls were friendly and the stingrays too frendly. We saw whales on the way there and dolphins on the way back and when you swam in the sea fishes of some variety came all round your legs, hence the stingrays maybe but there were none of them on our own beach thankfully.

Monday, 30 November 2009


A white tailed spider carries a potent punch! We think that was what bit Les last week but the Doctor was taking no chances as his hand swelled up like an udder needing milked... He got his Doctor's fee partially covered by the accident claim scheme but had to pay for his steroids, anti-inflammatories, antibiotics and anti-histamines - the only thing he didn't get was anti-ants.
The next day Fiona's Practical Duty was cleaning cobwebs so she went looking for the one that bit her man.. (Old woman old woman old woman quoth I.Whither oh whither oh whither so high? To clean the cobwebs off the sky etc.. funny what comes into your mind on a boring job!) After that we all clean the whole campus ready for Graduation of the 2nd years on Saturday then that is the end of the academic year.

We have ants, flies, mosquitos, moths and spiders to clean up after. Every car has its own resident spiders one at the front one at the back - they spin every night no matter how often you wash the lights. Even the big BMWs have them (Big Monster Webs) good job they are not as big as this moth!

Saturday, 28 November 2009

A Land of Milk, Honey, Chocolate & Kim Bob

Well we are well fed. Milk arrives daily courtesy of the dairy, Bread arrives every second Saturday at no cost and includes everything from Cream Cookies to Garlic Bread and Buns with enough to live on and to fill the freezer. Kim Chi, or Kim Bob or Korean Curry arrives every time our Korean neighbours cook (You need to lock the door sometimes...) and yet we still fancied a square of cholcolate. Les bought a bar of dairy milk (as you do) and inside was a ticket for a free bar which they gave us. Once back home we noticed we had won another bar... and then another... to save petrol we just opened them up outside the shop, but having won 5 bars in a row we had to change shops. To use the glutt Sarah kindly gave up a skype cookery demonstration for Chocolate cheesecake which went down really well at the College Christmas Party. Then, at another Christmas party on Friday we met a Columbian refugee who keeps bees for Waikato Honey so now we have something to spread on our free Malt Loaf. He and his friends are Spanish speakers so we get to have free lessons as well. Jehovah Jireh!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Meeting Mount Doom

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Les and a bunch of like minded masochists from College did the Tongariro Crossing recently. Not some weird Pentecostal initiation rite but one of the most popular tramps (read “hillwalks”) in New Zealand. It involves crossing Mt Tongariro (strangely) which peaks at about 1900m (almost 6250 ft) and is a part of the Tongariro National Park. Tongariro itself was last active around 1890 but the nearby Mt Ngauruhoe (now better know as Mt Doom from LOTR) blew a fuse in 1975 and Mt Ruapehu also nearby went kaboom in 1996 sending skiers scurrying. The route is just under 20km and takes about 7 hours. Recovery takes 3 days. It was a fantastic experience though with 2 huge craters to trek through, a volcanic peak to drag yourself up then slither down, fantastic views above the cloud line, incredible colours and textures including sapphire blue lakes, red, brown and ochre rocks, solidified lava flows and ice and snow fields and also great company. Kung Hee, a very nice Korean lady refrained from doing the whole thing in about half an hour to wait for Les, encourage him up the steep bits and hold his hand down the slippy bits. Pretty fantastic all told and makes Les determined to challenge Heddle Hill with renewed vigour when we get home.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Home Assessment Visit?

It was just like being back at work taking Anne Taylor a wee home visit to see if she was ready for home. For those of you who don't know Anne & Ewen Taylor they have just moved here from Orkney where Anne was the OT Assistant in our team. Don't you just love the wee red suitcase the OTs gave her when she left to come out here? We got to her new house to flit her in and we both noticed the OTs had already been with a handy rail at the door. It reminded us both of Lambaness so we thought a picture was in order! Sorry for the lack of National news - we are having a really hectic term with 3 assignments a week but will try harder during the holidays!

Saturday, 7 November 2009


Thought some of you might want to see the banner we made on Saturday at Oaks Christian Centre. Gayle who is pictured in the green blouse had this vision to get loads of fabric letters stiched and quilted or painted so we could hang different texts up each Sunday. Her husband Rob made up the washing lines for us! Coming out into the sun today (hurrah!) we took a snap of some of the congregation. We sent some relief money to a Church in Samoa which was affected by the Tsunami and they wanted to see what we looked like!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

First Target Met

Good news for us on the Big Blog - we have 12 followers - thankyou to those of you who have signed up whether publicly or in disguise. We know who you are. :) So like Jesus himself we started with 12 followers and therefore our next target will be 72.... and so on!We reckon there were 215 folks at our silver wedding do so I am sure we can enlist a few extras. If anybody is planning a visit out here can you tell us soon as we are making plans to travel between December and February and would need to arrange accommodation for you. Cheers

Sunday, 1 November 2009


What should we have done? The kids next door wanted to know what we do in our Culture for Halloween but we didn't want to get into guising or spooks. So we settled on Toffee Apples and neepy lanterns. This was fine until we had to wait until evening to light the neep and it never got dark...who thought Halloween would work in the Summer months Doh!

Meanwhile, there being no broomsticks handy, Les went flying around on a private plane with one of the MAF students he got a great view of the college....

and also good shots of the lake (Hamilton Lake) where they were out racing in the afternoon sun...

Wednesday, 28 October 2009


Sorry guys it turned out we had inadvertantly blocked your comments - we thought we were protecting our reputation as future missionaries but it turns out we had
a) Blocked friends' comments too and
b) there was apparently no reputation to protect.
So please feel free to comment whatever you want, we promise to read each one (unlike the Commentaries in the library). We are now countdown to Christmas holidays on 5th December so if you plan to send us a Christmas card just send it to Finstown in the usual way it is quicker and cheaper.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Meet the Marwicks!

Just had our first Orkney visitors to the flat..Lauren & Malcolm Marwick from Finstown along with Grandma Marwick daughter Val and grandaughter Briony spent the day here. The girls set about downing enough beer that they could use the bottles to play a scale.. You will be glad to hear it was special Aussi Ginger beer.
Today was Labour Day so it is a National Public Holiday, technically the first day of summer and the day plant lettuce to swim in the sea for the first time. Oddly when we were in the USA Labour Day marked the end of summer and the day to put away your garden furniture. Droll.
We spent a great afternoon feeding ducks at Woodlands estate and then heard Malcolm say that wherever they go in NZ it is sunny while they are out of doors and it rains when they come in - sure enough as soon as the meal was ready the heavens opened!
However it did not rain on Saturday all day so that is a first!!

Malcolm & sister Val in Woodlands Estate Gardens not often are they on the same continent!

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Black & White & all that jazz..

********It was all black & white at Hamilton Zoo these llamas had been lying down on the nice clean straw and the white one was still spruce while his stablemate looked like he needed a good hoover. The chimpanzees were black but moulting (geen intae aussigar!) The zoo keeper summed it up when we all stood watching them slouching about on their bums "Just like watching big brother basically".

In case you are wondering if we saw a black & white panda the answer is no! The panda was red all over. Google 'red panda' if you want - they are gorgeous. Finally I went in wearing a Westray Rugby Top but thanks to a falling white fern I left sporting an All Blacks strip. Bargain!

Tonight the Hamilton Jazz society celebrated 25 years of great jazz and held a black & white theme party. We have been going along each month - you get a great meal and the dance floor is so huge you only need to accomplish a reverse turn every second verse. Easy as.

When we arrived at the Jazz Club they had a poster of all the Jazz greats Jelly Roll Morton, Benny Goodman, Glen Miller, Billie Holliday and Belly Roll Cowan sitting at a table - how did that happen?? Have a look..

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Cowan Bull Stories

****************************** If bulls are symbolic of Spain it is the humble Coo who reigns in this part of NZ. The Waikato (where we are) is riddled with dairy animals, which to our eyes are just plain skinny. In Egypt they could easily have been the ones eating the fat cows .(Think of Stephen Sandison's animals on the Lyde Road).It seems that farming methods have intensified so that more animals are farmed on less land with feed supplements rather than grass. One guy here has 800 milkers on a farm with less than 200 acres. However they are well trained and head for the milking shed unprompted twice a day, and the kiwis proudly tell us that they invented the herring bone shaped parlour. Since this post went up last week I learn that the Cows are only on each 5 acre paddock for a day or at the most two in any week and the gate is opened automatically at milking time so they know when to leave the field. Some other farmers just send a message from their mobile phone to open the gate if they are running late. Furthermore the farmer measures the grass on each paddock every day with a ruler. The guy who started Anchor butter used to farm here but before that he came from Scotland and yes, the butter is good but I miss Lurpack!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Cook's Tour

Well we escaped from Napier eventually (as do many Students in Edinburgh). The two main roads stayed closed all day, the southern escape was still lined with police so we went North on a 9 hour detour through Gisborne. They caught the murderer when we were four hours North and then reopened the roads after 6 hours so it was just as well we didn't wait. At Gisborne we saw the place where James Cook landed - 200 years before the birth of David Morrison. (Do your sums..!)
First we saw his awful big obelisk then we saw his statue, which they later discovered wasn't one they had commsioned of Captain Cook as it was the wrong uniform and didn't look like him at all! The sign says "We have no idea who this is!"
The scenery was great at the way home through millions of trees lining the gorges and rivers and water falls and bridges so narrow we had to queue up to let the re routed lorries squeeze through single file. We ended up in Rotorua - we didn't find the smell of rotten eggs too offensive but the person at the next table in the restaurant thew up her dinner all over her plate so she obviously wasn't coping with the sulphur fumes. We should have asked for compensation I reckon! However we kept on driving through beautiful scenery into darkness and after a very bonny sunset behind the hills we arrived home to Hamilton.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Holed Up!

So here we are still by the sea as all roads North are closed due to snow and both roads South are closed due to a gunman being on the loose following a murder. As Les said to the Tourist Office - "You are kidding me! Is this just a ploy to make us stay longer?" but no, it is now 4pm and there are no roads out of here - so we went to see kiwis.

Thankfully some of the visitors expected here have not arrived either so we got a really nice room with a spa bath at a good rate so being holed up with a sea view is not so bad.

PS - they still haven't got the gunman, reckon I will stay in the spa til they do!

Weekend in Wellington(s)

We have been to Wellington the past 4 days and forthe first time realised that going South is COLD. It was as windy as Orkney on a bad day even if it was sunny at the same time. The scenery is great and the cable car ride to the top of the town saved an uphill struggle - should be part of Stromness Development plan! It was also the main Wellington festival week dedicated to wearable art - some weird outfits!

The reason we went so far in winter was to attend the Vineyard National Conference and we really enjoyed it. The main speaker was Christy Wimber from the USA - she was as the same conference as us in Edinburgh in the 80s and we ended up right next to her in the down town backpackers hotel - she even beat us to the bar after the evening session.
We had a really good visit to Ann & David Heath (Ann is from Papay) for a coffee which took all day we found so much to chat about we were still there for a lovely evening meal. Thankfully we didn't need to visit Geordie Fergusson who is in charge of the British Embassy in Wellington (John Fergussons cousin).

We are now heading back North and the rain is coming down in buckets thankfully we have wellies in the car - it has been loads of rain all week really even when we nipped out at Taupo to look at Karen Aim's memorial bench in the town centre. She is well remembered by everyone you speak to and they all seem to know where Orkney is. The weather may be attrocious but the welcome is warm and we even got free internet at the last backpackers hostel because we were missionaries!