Archive for the ‘Winter’ Category

I have a number of posts prepared, but rather than post them now I’m waiting for other things. For example, I’m waiting to do some baking (and take photographs) before I can publish my afternoon tea posts. I’m waiting before posting any travel-related posts because I’m hoping (soon) to kick off the travel blog and perhaps I should post there instead. But I’m waiting because this is all tied up with a business proposition, and decisions are difficult. I’m waiting to post about my year of Mandarin simply because parts of it are difficult to write.

I had been waiting on low winter temperatures to post this photo, wanting to write about rugging up to keep warm, about hats and scarves and woolly coats, bare trees, and wild weather, but despite the short days and long nights, the temperatures have been stubbornly mild. Finally, though, on the weekend, I looked out the window, and exclaimed, “they’ve all gone!” Yes, the trees know that winter has arrived, even if the thermometer isn’t quite there yet.


P1190686 last leaf

Lonely last leaves



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Today is the last day of a three-day weekend here in New Zealand. We have had magnificent weather – sunny and calm, chilly but not too cool. So yesterday we drove over the hill to Martinborough, participating again in our friend’s annual olive harvest. Their crop this year was abundant, and the 33 workers (okay, some of the kids didn’t do too much) who turned up were unable to complete the job (though some slackers spent some time with their (her)  foot up, and then left earlier than some, but not as early as others), as not only did time run out, but we all proved to be too short to reach the tallest 20% of most of the trees. But the bumper crop still meant that they ended up with 1.5 tonnes of olives, their most bountiful crop yet, and twice what we gathered on the first harvest five years ago. I wrote about the 2011 harvest here – check it out (it’s a much better post!) and see how the trees have grown.

P1190656 olive harvest

This year the sun shone more brightly, we ate Indian food and drank beer or wine for lunch, but the timeless tradition and the camaraderie continued. In a few weeks, we’re looking forward to our free bottle of oil.

P1190653 olives


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Winter is upon us

June arrived, and so did winter. Actually, it settled in a few days earlier, and late last week we brought out the scarves and raincoats and winter coats, and revved up the heating. I have to confess that it’s taking a while to adjust, and summer suddenly seems a long time away. This year will be my third consecutive winter (I tend to broadly categorise this as the period May to October) when we haven’t travelled to warmer climes. That hasn’t happened since my university days! So I’m suffering a little from cabin fever.

To be fair, the cabin fever is as much due to my enforced immobility over April and May as to our financially-enforced incarceration in New Zealand these last three years. I am now enjoying being able to get out and about a little more the last week or two. I need quite a bit more time and medical attention to be fully mobile (the knee I twisted on the way down the stairs is affecting my rehabilitation), and so I guess the reality is setting in that even if we won the lottery, I couldn’t really get on a plane this weekend and head off on an adventure. None of this makes me happy!

So I guess it’s time to focus on the little things in life. To do that, I need to make some mid-winter resolutions. So I have.

  • I aim to see my friends more often, after the first half of this year being (necessarily) inwardly focused
  • I’d like to get out and do some walks, once I can, to build up strength and fitness, and appreciate the outdoors
  • I am going to start a new travel blog, after neglecting Travelalphablog for many years
  • Work search will continue, given that it has been effectively on hold for well over six months now
  • Cook healthy food, after the intensive Husband-provided period of takeaways
  • Find a recipe and bake some gingernuts (for some reason, I have an urge to make gingernuts)
  • Become a more proficient photographer – at least with my camera
  • Finish putting together, and orderr my Lemons to Limoncello: The Book of the Blog book.
  • Continue working on my Spanish, in case sometime I get to travel again in the future!

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Winter is coming soon to a southern hemisphere country near you. On Wednesday and Thursday, it popped in to say hello. It was, I think, a promotional visit, reminding us that it will be here soon, giving the occasional taste of what is to come, and letting us know that we should start making plans now. The permanent release will come soon enough. That promotional tour  around the country was bad enough that for a day or two I needed a fleece, something called socks made a cameo appearance, and we had to remember where to find the heating control, and how to use it.

But today, summer has returned for one last ditch push to stay on top of the charts. This morning the harbour was calm, but deserted. The ship berthed at the wharf was piled high with containers, and the Blue Bridge ferry crossed with some of the last of the summer tourists, but there were no cruise ships, or yachts, or swimmers out in the harbour. Gone too were the sunseekers on the beach, and even the joggers and walkers had an extra layer of clothing on. Still, there were one or two rowing crews and a just two kayakers making the most of the glassy surface, and the sun pushed through, the temperatures returning to the 20s just in time for the weekend.

As the harbour reflected the buildings and hills that surround it, I became reflective too. I haven’t been able to make the most of this summer – not a single picnic (unless a Subway sandwich on Petone foreshore counts) or barbecue on our deck – but for once, after months of consistently warm weather, I don’t think I will feel cheated when winter returns for a blockbuster season. Just as long as it holds off for a while yet.

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ngaio winter

  1. I have a good excuse for doing nothing on weekends, especially if it is windy, rainy and cold outside.
  2. Winter sport: There’s always a sense of occasion settling in to watch a rugby test in the cold and dark, whether it’s in the evening here, or we have to get up at 3 am (as we did last night to watch the All Blacks beat the Springboks, though it was not a sure thing till the last few minutes).
  3. Seasonal food:  roast vegetables, vegetable soups, hearty stews, and their leftovers made into yummy beef and cheese pies, the robust red wines that go with them all so well, and the occasional, indulgent hot puddings.
  4. Any time after 6 pm is dark, so it always feels like we’re hunkering down safe and warm in the middle of the night.
  5. Coats and scarves, and occasionally hats and gloves, though it hasn’t really been hat/glove weather this winter.
  6. I don’t bemoan the gym’s lack of air-conditioning on cold mornings.
  7. A cup of chamomile tea every evening.
  8. Snuggling under the duvet.

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The day dawned cold, crisp and clear, a welcome change from the rain and wind and bitter cold of the last few days, in this particularly wet and windy (so far at least) winter; a winter that has given us day after day of low clouds and dampness and some of the wildest winds we can remember, leaving our poor house with yet more pronounced cracks in the wall, and even when the winds have abated, Wellington has lived up to its windy reputation and there’s been enough to deter me from stretching my legs and clearing my head around the hills of Ngaio, and although there was no such excuse today, I worked out at the gym enjoying the views of Evans Bay – the water with just enough movement in it to sparkle like a bed full of diamonds in the low morning sunlight –  and anticipating the coffee on my way home, before spending the rest of the day here, doing some writing and correspondence (though still not the hand-written card to someone special, as I cannot decide which photograph to use), some chores around the house, and even some job-searching, and whenever I leave this rather dark office, I marvel at how glorious this house is on a sunny winter’s day, the low sun reaching all the way to the back walls of our rooms, filling the house with light, a rich warm glow from this distant mid-winter sun, managing to heat the house naturally (though maybe only for an hour longer, though certainly not two), before the smoke will start rising from the chimneys in the valley below me, and the street lights will come on, and maybe some mists will rise as the sky darkens and the hearty red wine calls.

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… so it seemed appropriate to banish that gloomy, wintry header, and bring in some new light. Of course, that will be an invitation that Mother Nature won’t be able to resist, and I foresee at least one more winter storm this month. 1 September might officially be the first day of spring, and it has certainly felt like that here this last week. But it is really just late winter, when we get lulled into thinking that warmer temperatures are here to stay.


*Yes, I know it’s not Monday.  But this is a new thing I hope to do every Monday, to keep me posting regularly.  You can read more about the idea here.



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