Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Who, me?

Cats gave a way of looking so innocent. 

We have a couple of towel racks near our front door which we use to display quilts. 

In moments of madness our cats will run through the house and pull them to the floor. 

On this occasion the not only pulled the quilt down but thought it a suitable place for a nap. 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Quilts for Cats

Our cats continue to fascinate us as they move around our home looking for the purrfect place to sleep. 

Simba, above, has made himsel at home on the quilt on my bed for an afternoon nap. 

Hershey, below, just happened to find a quilt to his liking as well in our lounge room. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Did we get back to sewing yet?

Did we get back to doing some sewing after our extended holiday?

The answer is yes, but it did take a while. 

We have been making mug rugs to give as gifts to overseas visitors. 

We also made a batch of business/loyalty card holders for a friend who needed them for a women's retreat. 

Linda popped a nursery theme panel on to her quilting machine to get back in the groove. This gave me the opportunity to see if I could still do magic binding. Not a problem. Nice to see a bit a stitching happening again in our world. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

House sitting

When we decided to go overseas for 81 days one of the things we needed to consider was our home and two cats.

At the same time we were considering our options to do some house sitting in England to extend our stay.

We found a website that suited,

There is a subscription fee and you need to be prepared to have a police check done so we did this and then posted about ourselves and started to follow postings about house sitting opportunities.

Others who were looking for house sitting opportunities soon spotted us and it wasn't long before we had quite a number of requests in our in box.

One couple stood out from all the rest and so we got in touch with Bill and Raewyn.  From their profile we could see  that they were very experienced in house sitting and, very much in our favour, they lived just a couple of hours drive away from us.

We were able to organise to meet them and the fact that they were available and willing to stay in our home for us through the winter months was just wonderful.

Departure day came and it was so reassuring to be able to leave our home in their capable hands.

Bill and Raewyn bonded with our two loveable pets and took great care of them.  Simba had to be taken to the vets for two separate incidents during our absence and this was all par for the course for our very capable house sitters.

Unexpected plumbing repairs were also required on a couple of occasions and Bill's plumbing background enabled these to be fixed without any great expense.

They took great care of our home as well as applying lots of loving tender care to our garden.  Bill got brassicas going for us so that spring vegetables were well on the way on our return and Raewyn planted out lots of lovely flowers in our pots so that there was a lovely touch of colour for us on our return.

The household pantry seemed to be very well stocked and we kept coming across lovely little surprises in the food department for quite some time.

Based on this experience we would certainly look at house sitting options again.

We still keep in touch with Raewyn and Bill.  They are in demand and have assignments going into next year.  Their assignments have taken them to various parts of the world as well as New Zealand and we would highly recommend them to others.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The things of home

As much as we loved our time away we did miss our cats, Simba (the light coloured one) and Hershey (the chocolate coloured one).

Linda thought they might have forgotten who we were but they were right there to welcome us home. 

We were very thankful that they had bonded well with our house sitters in our absence and they certainly looked very fit and healthy from their time together. 

We do enjoy having these special pets as part of our lives here in Taupo. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Travel Worn and Weary

It has been more than a month since we returned from our travels.

Plenty of time to rest up and get back into some sort of home life routine.

Happy memories and a very travel worn itinerary to remind us of them.

Because we were being so frugal about carrying any excess weight I did not even take a notebook with me.

I did take this three page itinerary that I had compiled so that we could keep a check on where we next needed to be.  As it turned out it also became very useful for taking notes on the reverse of destinations and shopping lists, so our itinerary became a little travel worn and weary but a happy reminder or days gone by.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Was it worth it? Yes it was

Yes, in spite of some being dubious about being able travel around the world for 81 days with cabin baggage only we did it and it was so worthwhile. 

Great way to inhibit spending. 
So much easier to manage. I have decided I am never using a suitcase any bigger than this again. 

Another thing that helped us along the way was the ScotteVest, www.scottevest.com

Lightweight, shower proof with lots of storage pockets, these vests were great for storing travel documents, passports, cash, eftpos cards, smart phones, keys, and even a pocket big enough for an iPad.  Most days I could get away without having to take a handbag which I considered a bonus.

Not planning on going anywhere in the near future but these items will be essentials should travel plans arise. 

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Baggage restrictions

When Linda and I were on our recent travels we set ourselves a restriction on having cabin baggage only. 

It turned out to be a very good discipline as it made us think twice before making purchases along the way. 

However, in our early wanderings in England, we ended up in the town of Leek and happened upon a traditional market where lots of vintage items were to be had. 

The above supper cloth was in a bargain bin and at the right price it seemed too precious to leave behind. 

Linda also spotted this tea towel in very good condition and so, in spite of our baggage restrictions, these two items became part of my luggage for the rest of our travels. 
Yesterday morning we used the table cloth at breakfast time. So pleased with this treasure that brings back happy memories of our time spent in England. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Spotted at Selfridges

Linda and I went for a bit of a wander down Oxford Street on our last day in London.

We were blown away by the amazing giant size floral decorations in each of the Selfridges shop windows:-

The display is an Apple promotion for their new watch and against the giant size blooms there is a single Apple watch placed in the centre of the display.

Amazing to the last detail.

Monday, September 21, 2015

New Zealand's 'Other Flag'

On our last day in London, Linda and I were in a pub where flags were on display from all the participating countries in the Rugby Union World Cup.

One flag for every country, except New Zealand.  There was the red, white and blue flag as well as this one:-

New Zealand's 'other flag'

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Special moments

Last time we visited with Aaron and Marcele, Caleb was just six months.  He is now 7 months and what a difference those few weeks have made.

His body is much stronger and he can sit up so much better.

While we were there he sat on my lap for a while and we had a lovely time interacting with each other.  I was the recipient of lots of smiles and snuggles.  Very special moments to treasure and take with me.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Love that rolling country side

Linda and I have enjoyed many miles of rolling countryside as we have traversed our way across about 2,500 miles of English countryside.

Even today, as we travelled back to London from Staffordshire by train we were treated to a lot more.

Farmers have been busy making hay to see them through the winter season ahead.

Lots of sheep to be seen grazing the green, green countryside. 

These images will remain strong in our memories long after our holiday is over.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Sunday pub lunches and all that

This image reminds me so much of just three of the wonderful things this trip has meant to me.

1.  I am pictured with my son Rick and this holiday has meant that I have been able to catch up with three of my four sons as well as spend time with my three grandchildren.  I don't know if I will have a similar opportunity but am so glad it happened this time around.

2.  The British Sunday Pub Roast has been a pretty good experience.  This is my fourth visit to England and British cuisine has come a long way over the years.  The Sunday Pub Roasts have been excellent but we have had lots of other scrumptious food along the way as well.

3.  Hanging baskets on houses and pubs.  So many cottages, business houses, restaurants and pubs have been so enhanced by the use of floral hanging basket displays on their premises.  Linda and I never get tired of it.  You can meander along a country road for a while and turn a corner and there's a village and the houses and pubs have wonderful floral displays - such a delight.

There have been lots more highlights for me but these will remain strong in my memory.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Poldark Saga

I remember, as a teenager, getting quite wrapped up in the Poldark book series written by Winston Graham.  There's twelve books in the whole series and I may not have read them all but I did enjoy the evolving saga.

The storiy, set along the rugged coastline of Cornwall, was enough to make me hope to visit there one day and last week Linda and I made it and what a treat it was.

The above picture was taken at Church Cove where the shipwreck was filmed in the latest TV series..

Charlestown, another area where filming took place gave us more of that dramatic coastline.

No trip to Cornwall would be complete without a trip to Lands End:-

Along the way, we stopped at places like Truro and Penzance, not too bad to fulfill all that in one day traveling from Plymouth.

Winston Graham obviously loved the Cornwall area and it stole a little bit of my heart too.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Still finding the simple things in life to be best

Yesterday was the second day of our return journey to Eccleshall in Staffordshire, coming up country from Plymouth.

We knew we would had have a week to call a bungalow home so we were on the lookout for farm fresh eggs to buy from a road side stall.

Before we got to the eggs we saw a stall for fresh garden beans so they got first tick.

The next stall offered eggs but there were none to be seen.  However, they did have home grown tomatoes so I bought a bag of them.

Third stall lucky.  I was able to buy a dozen eggs.

We had a light tea on arrival and included fresh tomatoes.  The taste was unbelievably good.

This morning I cooked breakfast for us both and included the eggs and tomatoes - absolutely delicious   

Sometimes those simple things are the ones that turn out to be the best.

Monday, September 07, 2015

The flowers in England

The timing of our holiday has meant we have missed most of the New Zealand winter (which appears to have been very wet and cold) and been able to enjoy the benefits of the English summer.

Today we travelled from Plymouth to Gloucester under blues skies. Hardly a cloud all day. We enjoyed the locals making the most of a sunny, warm Sunday. People out walking, biking, sailing on a lake, even just sitting in the beer garden of their local pub and enjoying the warmth of what is left of summer. 

We do see evidence in some of the trees that autumn and all its glorious colour is not far away.

One of the things that has continued to delight us throughout this holiday is the use of hanging baskets:-

I photographed this particular trough of flowers in Bsth but they could have just as easily been in London or the tiniest of English villages.

They bring an enchanting addition to the landscape and have added that special touch to our time in the Northern Hemisphere. 

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Highclere Castle

It was wet, the day we set out for Highclere Castle, but we were not going to let that stop us from seeing the property where Downtown Abbey had been filmed.

According to online information tickets for entry had been sold out, but if you turned up on the day you might be able to get tickets for entry.  We thought if we got there on opening time and with the weather in our favour we might just be able to get tickets and sure enough we did.

The setting for the castle and the grounds is every bit as grand as can be seen in the TV series.

No photo taking allowed inside the castle so Linda thought she had better take this one of me at the entrance, in the hope that Mr Carson, the butler might suddenly appear.

If I never get to see another castle I will be content with the Highclere Častle experience.  The architecture and decor is so worth drinking in.  The library, with over 5,000 books, the period furniture, wall hangings and pictures.

Discreet notices are placed throughout indicating different bedrooms and other areas used in the making of Downton Abbey.

I am sure we were not the only ones visiting because of the Downtown Abbey factor.

A huge highlight in our travels, I am ever so glad we made it to Highclere Castle.

The rain had really set in when we left but never mind, we had a great time there.

Friday, September 04, 2015


After our wonderful time in Canterbury we headed for Dover.

Unfortunately, by the time we reached there the weather was taking a turn for the worse.

Dover Castle stood above the city on the landscape and we could see the grey clouds gathering.

We needed to eat and so set out on the local High Street to find somewhere suitable.

Although I don't have images we happened upon and restaurant called The Allotment.  Tables covered with table cloths looked promising se we ventured in.

The cuisine was with a French flavor and so we ordered and waited.  The layout of the restaurant was such that we could see the two young male chefs busy fulfilling orders.

It did seem like a long time before our meal was served but good food is worth waiting for and this was no exception.

Linda's dish was beef cooked in wine and I had a cod fillet cooked in a creamy sauce, both cooked with fresh vegetables - superb!

Such a special dish will long be remembered by both of us.

In general we have been quite impressed with the British cuisine and this restaurant with the emphasis in Fremch food I could highly recommend.

After our feast we proceeded to take in the White Cliffs of Dover but it was not to be.  The rain had settled in to such a degree they were not visible.

It was time to be moving on to other places we had in mind.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Things are still happening

Is it really just a week since we were working in Aaron and Marcele's garden?

Linda and I see me to have fitted so much into this week but Aaron and Marcele have sent us images to let us know that the work in the garden continues:-

This is how we left it

Just a week later there has been so much growth in the garden and hanging baskets have been installed, adding a great touch to the surroundings.

The shed at the back looks like it has had a bit of a scrub down and, with a bit of determination, Marcele has now painted the shed:-

We look forward to more updates.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Moving right along

Friends of ours are visiting England at the moment and the other day they blogged about their visit to Canterbury and the cathedral. 

Upon completing our house sitting assignment on Monday we have set out to travel across the south of England and one of the first places we visited was Canterbury Cathedral.

Well worth going to see.  

The intricate detail of the icons on the front of the cathedral, I found fascinating.

Indoors was extremely interesting with many areas set aside to honour the dead.

I was not able to get any good photos of the many stained glass panels.  Linda and I spent a considerable time indoors looking at the many facets of this wonderful place steeped in history. 

I wonder how many stories this door within the cathedral walls could tell?:-

After the Cathedral we did a bit of window shopping. We continue to see so many interesting buildings from a bygone era:-

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

An eventful weekend

Even though we had moved to Dartford for a house sitting assignment, Linda was still keen to go back to Epsom to help finish the work she had started in the garden.

It turned out to be a very hot (30+) London day but work must go on.

My youngest, Rick and girlfriend, Hannah, came as well so there was quite a bit of activity happening.

I volunteered to look after Caleb the baby so that Marcele could join in with the planting:-

Lots of action resulted in over 100 plants finding a new home:-

Although Aaron and Rick played their part we thought the 'girl team' did very well.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Our visit to Tonbridge

Whilst looking for the elusive Lullingstone Çastle the other day we took a little side trip to Tonbridge just to see what it was like.

When we drove into town we spot some rather grand buildings with nicely kept gardens that appealed to us:-

We decided that once we had looked at the shops we would pop in to take more of a look.

There was no signage to indicate what the property was used for and so we drove in and Linda parked the car behind another in the grounds.

We hadn't been there more than a few moments when an elegantly dressed woman appeared from through these doorways wanting to know why we were there.

We told her of our interest in the place as passers by and this appeared all very well but apparently we had parked outside the headmaster's residence and would we kindly move the car to the guest area:-

I talked with her for a few moments and was told the school housed 790 male pupils, 500 boarders and 290 day students.  An Internet search later revealed that to attend as a boarder costs over GBP12,000 per term.

We had happened upon a rather nice British private school.

After a bit of a wander we were on our way again.  A very pleasant interlude in our travels.

Just some of the lovely flowers in their front garden.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Meandering the Kent countryside

We relocated to our second house sit on Wednesday, so we had an at home day yesterday.

When I say 'at home', we did pop into Dartford for a morning coffee and coming home we went around the ring road three times before managing the correct exit to get us home.  Such are the joys of travel. 

Today we thought we would have a look at the Kent countryside and chose Lullingstone Çastle as a destination.

The first part of our journey was quite successful but we actually got to our destination far too early and so set off for Sevenoaks, a nearby town in search of morning coffee.

Good chance to look at the countryside and Sevenoaks was a pleasant stop.  We were still too early for a visit to the castle so we picked another destination, Tonbridge, and again enjoyed traveling through more of the pleasant Kent countryside, some of it very similar to parts of New Zealand. 

From Tonbridge we decided to look for a pub to have lunch and very much enjoyed what was on offer. Most of the customers at The Chasers Inn had opted to eat out in the garden area to take advantage of a hot summer's day, but we preferred the quietness and coolness of indoors.

Lullingstone Çastle was still on the agenda so I keyed it into our GPS and we set off once again.  It did not take us long but the GPS destination took us to the small town of Swanly and when we reached our destination:-

We had arrived at Lullingstone Çastle pub - not the real thing we had been looking for.

We laughed and laughed.  Apparently I had not picked up on the GPS that the little icon next to it indicated it was a drinking house, not a Çastle!

Back to the GPS and destination Eynsford where we had been in the morning.  It was close to the Çastle.  The journey did not take long and we at last pulled up at the Çastle at about 2.30pm.

We were about to pay the seniors rate of GBP6.50 when the attendant advised that the Çastle was only open to one guided tour per day and we had just missed it.  Although we had done our online research, nowhere had this been indicated so we did not pay and we never got to see inside Lullingstone Çastle.  Never mind, Linda said she didn't think it looked grand enough to be called a Çastle and we did have a lovely day out in the Kent countryside.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Aaron, the gardener

We are having a really good time with Aaron and Marcele and their children at the moment.

Linda said she would help Aaron to get his back yard spruced up and so there has been lots of activity.

Although Aaron has never really done much in the gardening world he is a willing learner and Linda has been able to give him some good tips.

Linda has painted the wall behind (with help from Marcele) and Aaron is preparing the garden bed so planting can happen.

Aaron went to the markets on Sarturday and bought a lovely selection of plants.

We only have one more full day here so it will be a busy one.  There is still more painting to be done before the plants can go in.