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Archive for the ‘Things I like’ Category

One of the nicest things about coming home after our Christmas away was being greeted by our favourite trees. As soon as we came off the motorway, we saw pohutukawa in bloom, and as we turned into our street, it felt as if they were forming a guard of honour on both sides of the street, welcoming us home.

In the north of New Zealand, where we had spent Christmas, and where pohutukawa originally grew naturally, their blooms had fallen weeks ago, so I had missed their green and red Christmas cheer. There are very few in the South Island, where I grew up, as I was reminded when we had my niece and her family visit last week. “So that’s what all those red trees are!” she said.

They have been planted profusely and thrive here in Wellington, and late December/January is full pohutukawa season. Hence my blog header at this time of year. A transplant from the South, pohutukawa have featured in some major events in my life, and I have taken them to heart, as many of you who have read me for a few years or more will know. So a few days after arriving back home, when I went on a walk on my usual route, I snapped away at the trees I now love. I noticed the gold tips on the blooms – red, green, and gold, very seasonal indeed. There’s the bloody aftermath of their flowering too – the red footpaths and gutters of the fallen flowers, and the patterns they create on top of cars parked under the trees themselves.

Note: Indian readers might recognise the name of this street. I live in a suburb filled with names from India, and its surrounding countries. It was originally settled in the mid-late 1800s by people who had lived and worked in India.

Another in the Tree Love series – find all the other bloggers doing it here.

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It’s summer. It’s late December between Christmas and New Year. I’m with family. Normal transmission shall resume later this week.

Some snaps from the last few days:

Our view at dinner tonight
Dinner at the beach
A Christmas Day walk
My swimming spot yesterday
Christmas Eve sunset
A tui

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As usual, the Weekend Market at Chatuchak was hot, steamy, wet, smelly, and very crowded. But if you go accepting that fact, it is full of delights. This time though, we were visitors to Bangkok, and couldn’t buy anything that would be too bulky for our suitcases, or too breakable to take on the journey. And there were different items for sale – many more homewares and art than when I first visited.

That was back in March 1980, when the market was based at Sanam Luang (a large field over the road from the Grand Palace). It was my first full day in Bangkok, and it was overwhelming. Over that year, I visited the Weekend Market many times, usually wearing our school uniforms because then we could truly haggle (we’re only students, we have no money!). Then ten years later, when I returned to work at the New Zealand Embassy, we were regular visitors and took all our guests there too. I still have the table lamp and other items we bought there.

Fast forward another 18 years, and we were back at the market with friends who were working at the Embassy. We came across a large area selling crockery. Particularly interesting were some tiny, brightly-coloured cups (espresso-sized, I guess) and saucers. My friend fell in love with them, and she and I spent a long time choosing flawless cups and saucers (there were a lot of seconds in the large baskets) and mixing and matching the colours, without any duplication. The men wandered off. This was not their scene. They didn’t realise that these cups might influence their social life for decades.

“But really,” C said as she was sorting through the basket, and looking for a lime green saucer that would work with the splash of green on one cup, “what will I use the cups for? They’re so small.”

I had a brainwave. “You could use them for chocolate mousse, or soups for a fancy meal. You know, when you only need a couple of mouthfuls of soup because there are six more courses to come.” She loved the idea, and bought the cups and saucers. When she returned to New Zealand, and some years later bought a house that was made for entertaining, we remembered the idea of a fancy dinner. And so, our semi-annual/annual degustation dinners were born.

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