Thursday, August 20, 2009


With the arrival of Spring here, the pear tree in our garden is in blossom and the ferns are uncurling, even the honeysuckle and jasmine have started scenting the evenings on the balcony.
One of the ways we know winter is over is with the arrival of the tuis who squabble over the kowhai tree and when the flax flowers in the summer, they arrive at the patio and drink the nectar noisily.
So, what's a tui?

It's a New Zealand bird, endemic, so, only found here..they are related to the Honeyeaters and sing the most beautiful song. I guess the best way to describe them is that they are the nightingales of New Zealand! Sometimes, when there is a full moon, they will even sing at night.
They are a metallic green/black colour with a purple sheen to them and a distinctive white tuft at their throat.

Captain Cook wrote about them while at Dusky Sound in 1773 on his second voyage.
“Under its throat hang two little tufts of snow–white feathers, called poies, which being the Otaheitean word for ear–rings, occasioned our giving that name to the bird; which is not more remarkable for the beauty of its plumage than the sweetness of its note. The flesh is also most delicious and was the greatest luxury the wood afforded us”.

Stories have it that the Maori kept them in cages, that they taught them to speak, as they are highly intelligent and can imitate human speech, like parrots. They trained them to welcome people to the marae!
Nowadays we have a beer here called Tui, which uses the bird as its logo.

And of course TUI (Text User Interface) is another acronym, for all the computer geeks who thought that was what the blog was about!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


It's my friend Miriam's Birthday - and you know what we're like as a family about this special Day! This year I decided to make her a cake.. but not an ordinary Cake, no... a Giant it is!

It has a special tin and has to be assembled - so I'll take you through it.
This is what it looks like when it's baked & still warm from the oven..

This one was a banana cake with vanilla frosting..yum!
I made the vanilla icing, chose a suitable girly, pink colour and decorated to my heart's content.
This one was decorated with handmade sparkle flowers (all edible),sparkle sugar and confetti sprinkles!
Wish it was my birthday!

A few days later we had to have another go, it had been such fun - this time a Sophia version - with a glitter fountain and handmade sugar rosettes. A lot more colourful!

We couldn't wait for it to cool and it was still warm when we scoffed it!

Sophia is organizing a 'Cupcake Day for the SPCA ' (that's the equivalent of the RSPCA), so I'm sure there'll be another cupcake blog!

Monday, August 17, 2009


And it's only Monday !

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


What helped me to understand New Zealand "speak", was to read each item out loud; TRY IT!

Peck - to fill a suitcase
Min - male of the species
Pigs - for hanging out washing with
Pug - large animal with a curly tail
Nin tin dough - computer game
Munner stroney - soup
Mess Kara - eye makeup
McKennock - person who fixes cars
Mere - Mayor
Leather - foam produced from soap
Lift - departed
Kittle crusps - potato chips
Ken's - Cairns
Jumbo - pet name for someone called Jim
Jungle Bills - Christmas carol
Inner me - enemy
Guess - vapour
Fush - marine creatures
Fitter cheney - type of pasta
Ever cardeau - avocado
More Examples of: How to Speak New Zealand
Fear hear - blonde
Duffy cult - not easy
Day old chuck - very young poultry
Bug hut - popular recording
Bun button - been bitten by insect
Beard - a place to sleep
Ear New Zulland - an extinct airline
Beers - large savage animals found in U.S. forests
Amejen - visualise
One Doze - well known computer program
Brudge - structure spanning a stream
Tin - one more than nine
Iggs Ecktly - Precisely
Earplane - large flying machine
Beggage Chicken - place to leave your suitcase at the earport
Sivven Sucks Sivven - large Boeing aircraft
Sivven Four Sivven - larger Boeing aircraft
Cuds - children
Pits - domestic animals

There are so many more!! Come and visit soon!

Monday, August 10, 2009


I did say that everything is bigger in New Zealand.
Here they call all sweets and lollipops "lollies", basically anything sweet and sugary! Crisps are "chips",and other words are pronounced differently! We've had to learn to speak 'Nu Zillund' over the last 3 years!

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Spent today on Bethells Beach - the East Coast Beaches are temporarily closed...
It's a dramatic place, out West, where the music video for Shania Twain's single "Forever and for Always" was filmed, the British/New Zealand movie 'The Man Who Lost His Head', and episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess. So, it has a claim to fame!

The waves were wild, with the wind blowing off-shore, and we walked to the sea cave at the end, which you can get to at low tide.

The Maori name for this place is, Te Henga, meaning sand, and it was settled over 1000 years ago. There are always lots of squid shells curling along the beach & the lone surfers and fishermen. People walk their dogs and other assorted 'pets' here!

It gets its modern name because John Bethell negotiated the sale of the land for the nation & people. He was one of seven children of a family of early settlers, who, aged nine was taken out of school and sent with his brother to clear family land in the Waitakere forest.
The sixth generation of Bethells still supervise the land, and have the only cottages there.

There are no shops, no petrol, no houses and this is what keeps it special. It simply has a beach tower, for the lifeguards, which operates in the summer.

When the sun comes out the sands sparkle, because they contain quantities of black titanomagnetite which comes from from the volcanic rocks around there.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Another feast for the senses and the tastebuds! We go every year, and it's always different. This time the prices had rocketed, but we joined the queues nevertheless (when will we learn to buy our tickets in advance?)

Inside it literally took us 4 hours to browse around the four immense halls, filled with artisans, companies promoting products, individuals starting food gourmet products, cooking demonstrations and taster sessions.

The Lindt stall, pictured here, was raided by the girls throughout the day!

The visiting chef Donna Hay had a book signing, food magazines were launching their glossy products and every food of every type, consistency and edible need was there!

We tried four different types of coffee, all freshly made and delivered, curries, pastries, ice-cream (Kohu Valley has my vote) sorbets, vegetarian risottos, chocolates, biscuits, bagels, pizzas, flavoured crisps, brownies, dumplings, sausages, turkish breads, fruit teas, jams & chutneys, fat olives and blue cheeses, and aisle after aisle of liqueurs and wines, vodaks and gins - just to vary the pace.

There are 'rest' stations with chairs and of course, you can buy anything you like at a discount. The 'incredible edibles' meant we didn't even want dinner when we got home. We also got some cupcake & decorating ideas. Phew! I need a rest until next year!

Saturday, August 1, 2009


This was different! A pier that came all the way out to the ferry and reef on all sides. It seemed a busy place, heaving with tourists - somewhere to investigate next time!