Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Ants, Pants and the Praying Mantis

Folk's I am sorry if this is turning into Countrywoman's Diary. Bessie I am NOT. However there is a lot to see and comment on in the field of nature, this month has seen a huge increase in the number of Matlos sitting on my knee. (If French is your mother tongue I am not complaining about having a Matelot on my knee that is quite different...) They fly in through the window and sit on your knee never going any higher or lower - funny that so if you know what they like let us know and we will stop them. Now ants are another thing entirely they go up and up and up until you have to remove clothing - honestly!
This leads me on to another gripe - do not buy Marks and Spencer's invisible pants. They look good feel great and never show any VPL. But have you ever tried hunting for them in a laundry full of young male missionary students? Not good.
"G'dai mate what have you lost?" Mumble mumble invisible knickers... A design flaw I think.
And then the final gablo of the day - my first praying mantis it was only a young one and already it was 3" long eek - dropped the paintbrush and ran - I'd prefer a horny gollick anyday. Espeially a praying one.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Wedding Shells

Sunday was a first for us in being invited to an open air wedding. One of our classmates got married on the beach and many of us students travelled there to give her a suitable send off. In true Shari style (she studied Dance at univeristy before coming to Eastwest) the whole bridal party danced up the Aisle in a carefully choreographed routine it was led by the flower girl and we all thought - "so sweet" but as each bridesmaid followed we realised we were in for a treat. By the time the Bride and her father joined in it was quite a show. Nobody noticed that Shari had no shoes on but then she was wearing a full length dress. She also had a pair of flip flops for the photos! (Jandals they are called in Kiwi dialect, short for Japanese Sandals)
We had a lovely time the rain held off, and we ate all the wedding cake while the bride and groom had their pictures taken on a rickety jetty out at sea. The cake had two shells on it representing Paul & Shari - now that would have saved me a lot of worry when I made Miriam's decorations. We wonder if this island is the honeymoon location..

Friday, 15 January 2010

Cherry Punch

Cherry Punch Recipe:
Take two pots of tea and one carton of red fruit juice and add to fruit - in Orkney at this time of year a frozen box of berries would work - here stoned cherries are good. Freeze the lot until just before the party starts then pour on the lemonade. As the ice melts you get a lovely cold fizzy punch.

Talking of cherries we spent a morning last week picking them in Picton with our friend Julie who graduated in December. She is coming back to candidates course here in July before heading to work in China.

Later that day we made it over on the ferry to Wellington and we were showing David & Anne our photos of the Devil's Punchbowl at Arthur's Pass. Turns out Anne's son Martin had the contract to do the steps and paths for that project. It is a tiny world.
The guys at the punchbowl got really soaked with the spray but they didn't seem to mind as they came back happy - Les and Marion even posed for a reunion picture. The intervening 30 years have been kind to Marion but Les is a man on a mission and so far has lost 3lb!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Thanks Folks

Thank you all so much for the cards and newsy letters. They are still coming in about 8 a day and we really enjoy reading them. Unlike the UK when you are so busy with organising Christmas that you have no time to read the letters, we can take them out into the sun and laugh at your anecdotes and admire your photos (or vice versa as appropriate). Thanks as well to those of you who managed to get presents past the New Zealand X- ray postal sensors. I don't think Cameron's nativity scene with real straw should have been allowed through but we love it even if it is so small that Sarah's Scottie Dog could have eaten the whole Holy Family. We think it is just the thing for missionaries heading to a Catholic Country with small baggage allowances.
So now we are back in the library we are studying the Catholic Faith without a tutor as they are all away. Any help gratefully recieved from you corespondents. Les is dieting seriously for a couple of hours every day plus doing 40 minutes in the gym. So far he has oiled all the machines which squeak but maybe by next week we will see fitness levels improve. Hope all the diets at home are surviving the cold snap!

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Having a Whale of a time

On our way home we passed through Kaikoura on the East Coast. The Burgons had convinced us that seeing the Whales at close quarters was a must. Incidently the day after we visited we read that they had been voted the Top Sustainable Visitor Attraction in the World. Almost all the staff (except the ship's captain) was Maori and the vessels were state of the art reflecting the grants they had been given to develope the site. Sea sicknes tablets were $2 each but given the forecast of "Severe Seasickness Alert" I decided to invest rather than feed the swell. We got really close to three sperm whales and a colony of fur seals (which belong to the walrus family apparently.)
Although the whales we saw were only half grown they were bigger than the boat we were on so thankfully they were playful rather than taking the hump.

The secret life of deacons..

To those of you who have stayed in Edinburgh the name "Deacon Brodie's Tavern" will conjure up a hostelry on the High Street. It used to worry us that a Deacon could run such an establishment, and we assumed he was not a Baptist! However there is more to Deacons from Edinburgh than you first see.. While passing through Marlborough at the top end of the South Island we discover that Alan Scott has a secret life as a Vintner.. So what did it taste like I hear you ask, well we never went in or bought any as you would expect (not!) but thankfully someone entertained us with a bottle of rather nice Alan Scott Chardonnay so we can confirm it was excellent - the man's a chemist! And as we passed the Stoneleigh Vinyard we realised why that was such a popular destination for the Kirk every Summer.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Birds worth a birdseye view..

*************************Gannets with a 6 foot wingspan soaring overhead at the lighthouse, Keas reading the sign which says "do not feed the Keas" Penguins climbing up the cliffs after a 7oKm swim to feed their yound and Wekas grubbing about in the bush pretending to be Kiwis. Got pictures of all the above but the favourites was the penguins who hid until be went into the hide before theu ascended the rocks. Leat favourites was the Keas who are so cheeky they will eat your windscreen wipers if you don't feed them. Can't tell you what the Bell Birds look like but they have such a musical ring to them you don't mind being wakened. The Tuis are not so melodic but having a beer named after them has done a lot to help their popularity!

New Year at The Pass

Here we are 737m above sea level just one day after swimming in the sea (at sea level). We have driven up from Dunedin on an epic journey which Les has wanted to make ever since his 30th Birthday Party when his friend Marion (nee McGregor now Bohny) sent a video of the Chalet Hotel here at the Pass. We arrived in time for Hogmanay celebrations and were duly invited to a party at the Senior Warden's House. I know that sounds like a Character from Anthony Trollope but he is a real person. After the Stroke of midnight everyone jumped up to ring the Village Bell and I think there were 13 strikes rather than 12 but nobody was sober enough to worry about that sort of detail. Arthur's Pass is a bit like Papay 50 people live there but 3,000 people call it home and come back for the New Year.

Last night we had a talk from Father Michael Mahoney who climbed on Mount Everest in 1977 without sherpas and he got dressed up in his actual climbing gear and sweated suitably throughout his talk in a packed auditorium. He was highly entertaining and could remember every detail despite having worked in Brazil for the intervening 30 years.
It has also been 30 years since Les and Marion were at Edinburgh University together so her husband Michael and I are amazed at the details they remember at odd times of day. Marion can't find her mini kilt however so that remains a dim memory. Michael knows every stone and stream of these mountains so he has been an excellent tour guide, well able to predict the weather even 4 miles away. He and Les are climbing the Devil's Punchbowl at the moment so expect good photos any day now.