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Our social summer continues. We went out to dinner with a friend who stayed over last week, then my sister and her daughter (Charlie) stayed for a couple of days over the weekend (as school summer holidays continue for a few more weeks). We had a lovely evening out on the deck as they arrived, then shopping on Saturday, and a dinner out. They left yesterday morning, when my husband’s golfing buddy went diving, caught some crayfish (the NZ the term means a saltwater rock lobster) and invited us over to a barbecue to eat them. How could we refuse? And today, the fine weather continues.

Growing my hair when I have grey streaks means I now moult grey and white hair. It’s almost worse than having white-haired cats moulting all over the place! (After the cats died, the frequency we vacuumed dropped by more than half!) Especially as, now that I am growing my hair, the white hairs are longer and curly and very noticeable. These longer white hairs are making me rethink all my black clothes. (Mind you, the white streak on my left side pops against black tops.)

It is almost two full years since I last coloured my hair. I have a white streak, as mentioned, at the front of my head on both sides (but more prominent on one side), but the back of my head is still quite dark. In fact, the longer my hair grows, the darker it looks. I’m happy with it though. At times I look in the mirror and look really old – usually when I haven’t styled it. But at other times, I think it looks very chic. At least it is natural!

For most of us here in NZ, unless we work at the border or in tourism (and I feel for those who have lost most of their income) or live in Auckland, the pandemic has scarcely touched our daily lives. Everything has pretty much gone on as usual. I’m sure you’re sick of me saying this. I’m sorry. But I look ahead with trepidation. It’s coming this year, without doubt. Omicron may be milder than Delta (if you are vaccinated), but it is still a killer. And I look at my medical history. Dengue fever contracted in the Philippines, rare ectopic pregnancies and infertility, trigeminal neuralgia, and a necessary hysterectomy after almost bleeding out. If it’s unusual or rare, I am not immune! So it would be just my luck to get COVID-19. None of my previous ailments have killed me, despite some of them trying. But there’s always a first time.

There is a little bird hanging out in the trees around our house. He/she chirps and chirps and chirps, but it is only on one note, sounding a little like a household fire alarm reminding us that it needs a new battery, except a lot more frequently! I managed to get a photo, then looked him up. He is apparently just a common chaffinch. (I’m hopeless at identifying birds!) But his chirps don’t sound like this typical chaffinch song. I worry that he’s going to miss out on finding a mate if his call is so different. Or maybe the male/female chaffinches will think he/she is exotic and attractive!

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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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Summer!

Summer finally arrived in Wellington last week. This often happens – we don’t get a stretch of decent weather until after Christmas. We had a lot of warm/hot (for us) days when staying with my sister. The heat there was humid, and it was hot and sticky. My husband and I wilted a little in the heat, as does my sister. Swims were welcome. But needless to say, we were pleased to get home to a chilly night to sleep easily!

A few days after we arrived home, we drove over the hill on New Year’s Day for a gathering enjoying a hot (30+C/ 86+F) but very gorgeous afternoon of food and wine and croquet. Much more civilised than a party the night before! And a return trip is scheduled.

But the temperatures warmed up last week, and we had wonderful days, and thankfully, cooler nights. Everything felt summery. We’ve had three barbecues in one week, which is about two more than we had the whole of last summer! Given the stable temperatures and lack of wind, I even planned a barbecue and meal to be eaten outside on the deck knowing that my niece and her family were visiting Wellington on the same night as my sister and her family were staying the night. But we were told the wrong night. No problem, we said, and we shifted our plans by a day. But in Wellington, oh, what a difference a day makes!

The temperatures plummeted, and my sister and family – who had swum in Lake Taupo on their drive down – arrived and immediately started shivering, and went looking for jeans and sweatshirts. (The South Islanders were fine!) Then it started raining. I should have made a big curry, I thought, as we looked at cooking all the food in the oven rather than on the barbecue. Fortunately, a break in the weather gave the Husband time to go cook everything outside, with help from the Great-Nephew and step-Great-Nephew. The rest of us stayed inside in the warm!

Weather in New Zealand is nothing if not changeable. Weather in Wellington is changeable, but with smaller temperature variations. I read or heard somewhere recently that long-term Wellington residents develop a narrow temperature tolerance – about five degrees either side of 15C (60F). That’s not a total exaggeration, I have to say! Today, though, we’ve had a lovely 23C (74F) which is about the perfect summer temperature to me, the windows are all open, and the birds are chirping in the trees. I’d better finish this, because I think a drink on the deck might be calling to me. And who knows, it might be too cold tomorrow!

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