Monday, 29 February 2016

Pear O'Clock

It is the first official day of Autumn and the fruit is amassing on the trees.  The early pears are ready to eat or process.  Soon we will be buried for weeks under a mountain of pears, apples, peaches, feijoas, grapes, walnuts and more. 

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Big Red - A Tomato

One of life's pleasures surely is succulent, fresh tomatoes,  picked straight from the garden and full of flavour.  Dad picked this large beauty last night.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Broad Beans

Broad bean seed is one of the easiest to save and re-sow although they're very fond of self seeding as well. I've just spent half an hour shelling some of the pods which had dried off on our plants at the end of summer.  Broad beans (also known as java beans in some countries) are best sown in the Autumn or Spring so we'll plant some of these seeds again in March and April.

Broad beans are very hardy and easy to grow. They're also prolific.  The more you pick them the more they seem to produce and you can serve them young and sliced like green beans or you can pod them and take out the bean itself as they get larger.  Normally the smaller the bean is the sweeter and more tender it is.  If they get too big they often have an unpleasant "silvery" taste.

I like to grow an old favourite, Exhibition Long Pod.  They usually grow around 1.5 metres tall but mine often get quite a bit taller.  In theory you're supposed to give them support and stake them but I rarely do.  I find that if they're planted in a block they tend to hold each other up.  My father likes to give them some support with wooden stakes and twine.  They like full sun but seem to be just as happy in partial shade.

The beans are usually ready to eat about 4 months after planting.  They are a very reliable crop which is a mainstay in our garden.  

The dried pods ready to have the next bean seeds removed:

The new seeds:

Blanched, podded, larger beans being prepared for the freezer. 
Some freshly podded broad bean seeds drying off on a table in the sun for the day in the garden.
In the garden:

A late patch of broad beans are getting straggly now under the old oak tree:

Monday, 22 February 2016


At what point do you say "I have enough"? 

Our culture teaches us that to be successful is to have more and more and more.  Strangely enough it's often the case that the more someone has the more they want.  Their "need" becomes insatiable.

More house.
More land.
More money.
More possessions.
More clothes.
More shoes.
More books.
More overseas holidays.
More, more, more.

It's been said by wise men and women for millennia that this is the worst kind of poverty there is, a constant need for more, the inability to ever be satisfied.  

It is an unending ravenous appetite, one I equate with an addiction.

To be rich is to be satisfied with what you have.  At what point do you say "I have enough"? Enough money, enough house, enough land, enough shoes, enough stuff, enough everything.

Human material needs in their truest form are really fairly simple.  We can as easily live in a one-room cabin in the woods as in a palace or mansion.  Personally I would rather live in the one room cabin in the woods, a home which would not only meet my material needs but feed my soul.

And perhaps therein lies the revelation.  We are trying to feed our souls with things which do not satisfy them - more house, more shoes, more money, more and more of the wrong things.  It doesn't matter how much we put in if it's the wrong thing. That's like trying to run a motorcar on orange juice - pouring more and more orange juice into the petrol tank just won't help.  Instead you'll end up with a mess of orange juice.

We can say "enough" of the wrong things.  We can stop the madness of wanting more and more of that which does not truly satisfy us.   That allows us to ponder, seek and find that which fills us, which gives our lives real meaning and real joy.

It seems this can often be discovered in our own creativity and the simplest things - it was not the big things after all.  It was the little things.  Baking our own bread.  Growing our own herbs. Keeping our own chickens.  Sitting in the sun with a good book. Enjoying a simple picnic with friends.

A popular saying says "less is more".  Another way to look at it is "more is less"  - more house but less peace, more possessions but less good health, more money but less time to spend with your loved ones.  At some point "more" has the capacity to consume us and all of our freedom - all of our life.

Knowing when to call "enough" is a skill it seems we all must learn to be truly happy and fulfilled.

 We need to know when we've had enough.

Sometimes you just need to chill.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Free Printable Forms

Below are links to where you can download for free some forms I have made which you may find useful.  I will be adding more over time. Enjoy!

Friday, 19 February 2016


A few weeks ago a little black kitten turned up in our backyard.  She was clearly wild - and hungry. She had however attached herself to our male tabby cat Leonardo and was following him everywhere.  

We started to feed her and inevitably this cute little minx decided to stick around and finally - adopt us!  She won't let us touch her yet but she comes into the kitchen of the main house and my cottage and makes herself at home.  She is quite relaxed so long as she knows the doors are open. 

Hopefully she will get tamer and tamer.  We have called her Tabitha.


I am a flower addict.  I just can't help myself.  Big flowers, tall flowers, meadow flowers, small flowers.  Vegetable flowers, sunflowers, weed flowers, cactus flowers.  Any flowers.  I love them all.   I tend to like my flowers though - wild and free, rambling and riotous, just as Mother Nature intended.

Daisies are "simply" beautiful - a lesson for us all?  Sometimes less is more.


Thought Provoking Quotes

When you want something bad enough you'll tell yourself a thousand lies. - Jodi Picoult.

 This is what I like about photographs. They're proof that once, even if just for a heartbeat, everything was perfect. - Jodi Picoult.

You get old and you realize there are no answers, just stories. - Garrison Keillor.

Whether it's the best of times or the worst of times, it's the only time you've got. - Art Buchwald.


People aren't against you,  they are for themselves.

Sunday, 14 February 2016


Andrew is my partner, my fiancee and the love of my life.  No one was more shocked than me when I finally fell in love at the age of 52 years!   We fell in love the day we met and now,  as we approach our fourth anniversary,  our relationship only grows stronger and better.  We are fiercely devoted to each other. 

Andrew is quite a bit younger than me but when we are together the difference in our ages simply doesn't seem to matter.  Love conquers all.

Being the avid photographer that I am Andrew is inevitably one of my favourite subjects.  This is particularly true if I can find a few props! - a sword, an interesting window or a cat or three.  Below are some of my photos and portraits of Andrew, some reflecting our day to day life, others when I have convinced him to "model" for me.  I think he really has a very expressive face which the camera loves and he's such a good sport!

Below: On 19 March 2016 Andrew went to the "Mrs Brown's Boys" show when it came to Christchurch. The top photo shows him with Brendan O'Carroll (Mrs Brown or Agnes) and the second with Dermot O'Neil (Grandad).