Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Coffee With a Friend

Saturday an old friend invited me to coffee. 

There are many café’s in Tirau but you will find people have their favourites. We went to the CabbageTree Café in Tirau.
It served good coffee and her youngest daughter works there. 

I’ve known Chrissy for almost as long as I have lived in Tirau and she was one of the first people I met who worked with my husband at the dairy factory where he was a maintenance fitter.

Chrissy has three children similar in age to my three youngest so we have had a lot to do with each other over the years.

Since our children have gone to different colleges and Harry has moved jobs we don’t see as much so the catch ups are more “catching up” than just an excuse for a natter.
We shared about what our children were up to and how our work, parent and health are.
She mentioned she was struggling with the thought of the empty nest syndrome as our youngests will probably leave home for next year’s study or courses. For me it will be the end of over 31 years of having children at home and part of me is looking forward to just me space and time with no rushing around for their after school activities.

It will be the long awaited era of just Harry and me at home doing and going where ever we want without checking in with those children at home!!

As some of our children are married already with children of their own we are already up to the next stage of being grandparents so one stage of life has merged into the next.

But for Chrissy it seemed a little scary.

I couldn’t help but think for each of us preparing for the empty nest, you have to have interests of your own and a relationship with your spouse that is able to allow the other to do their own thing but also activities you can do together. 

You have to still care for your children but allow them to be adults out in the big world ready to make their own decisions. You can be there to pick them up if they fall but accept who they are becoming, without trying to influence them to make the decisions you think they should.

But once the nest is empty there must also be the times when you can just be comfortable of being quiet and alone with each other.

Monday, August 15, 2011

It's Raining, It's Pouring

We've had a few more weeks with rain off and on and the flooding was almost as bad as it was earlier this winter.
At night tucked up in bed you can hear it on the corrugated iron roof, or blowing against the window pains.
I don't mind it if I am able to stay in doors and the fire is keeping the place warm, but I can't keep from singing the nursery rhyme "It's raining, it's pouring."

As I have mentioned before on this blog, my mother would sing a song to us all the time when we were young, when ever someone brought our attention to something; and the weather and rain was often the subject to be sung about.

It's raining, it's pouring
The old man is snoring
He bumped his head on the corner of the bed
And couldn't get up in the morning

When I looked into this rhyme there seemed to be so many different origins I will just let you know some of them.

The rhyme is believed to have originated from Ireland during the commonwealth period (1649-1660) and the dictatorial conditions in the country at that time.
The poor weather conditions in line one reflect the genocide committed against Irish Catholics whilst the last three lines are most likely a wish that Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector of England, will die in his sleep.

Another idea is: "It was written about the meteorologist John Dalton. On July 27th 1844, after suffering several previous strokes, he made his last meteorological observation (presumably that it was raining) and during the night fell from his bed where he was found dead in the morning."

Little is known about the origins of the song, but it is believed to have originated in England (well renowned for its rainy weather!) The rhyme was often sung by children when they could not go out to play. The lyrics suited the ritual chants that children love. In the UK it is common for people to say that "It's pouring" rather than say "It's pouring with rain".

Then I discovered some more verses:

It's raining, it's pouring;
The old man is snoring.
He went to bed and he
Bumped his head
And he couldn't get up in the morning.

It's snowing, it's blowing
The old man is growing
He ate so much one day for lunch
Every part of him was showing.

It’s warm out and sunny
The old man loves honey
He tried to seize
A batch from the bee's
And they didn't find it funny.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Whether it was first created in New Zealand or Australia, it still remains a family favourite in our house.

The basic 'Pav' can be made and has no fat. It is once the cream is added that it becomes not just tasty but a bit of a no-no for me now. However it can still be enjoyed with a fruity yogurt and fruit.

4 egg whites
1 cup caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour
¼ tsp cream of tartar
2 tsp vinegar

Preheat the oven to 190C
Beat the egg whites until stiff (about 10 minutes in an electric mixer)
Gradually beat in half the sugar.
Gently stir in the rest of the ingredients.
Place a dampened piece of paper, wet side down, on a baking tray.
Pile the pav on the tray in the shape you desire allowing a little space for spreading and keeping about two inches high.
Place in the oven.
Turn the oven off after two minutes and leave to bake in the cooling oven for 1 ½ hours.
When cool carefully transfer to a serving plate and decorate with cream and fruit.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Larry Crowne

Yesterday Harry took me on a date.
He remembered I had said I would like to see the latest movie with Julia Roberts in, so he said "Let me take you to the movies".

We went to the Lido in Centre Place in Hamilton, which is very nicely revamped in black and gold, with recliners and double couches in the theatre.

Lido Cinema
Livingstone was proud to be involved in the construction of the decadent new Lido Cinema located at Centre Place situated on The Balcony. Completed in late 2009 this high end cinema features the latest in new styles and trends setting the scene for a truly luxurious cinema experience. Chandeliers hang from the ceiling and intricate detailing lines the walls and floors of the cinema offset by the large leather chairs. They offer hand rolled ice-creams, wine and beer bar facilities, spacious seating all in the most luxurious of settings. They feature a mix of art house and mainstream movies. 


Larry Crowne is a movie about a middle-aged Navy veteran (Tom Hanks) who is fired from his job at a big-box store, despite his seniority and satisfactory work, because the company has decided that his lack of a college education impedes any chance of advancement.

Larry, who is divorced and lives alone, cannot find a job and he almost loses his house. A neighbor advises him to enroll in the local community college and get an education in order to get better opportunities in the future.

At the college, Larry makes friends quickly with his younger classmates, and he's befriended by hip Vespa-driving Talia (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), a fellow student who takes him under her wing, gives him a makeover, and with a little feng shui turns his house into something resembling mid-century cool. Larry also purchases a scooter, studies economics and begins to work at a diner kitchen, having been a Navy cook. Larry also falls in love with an unhappily married teacher, Mercedes Tainot (Julia Roberts). 

To be honest I was a little disappointed in the movie as it was a bit weak in the story line and although I really like Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts acting, the movie lacked any real excitement.
The odd laugh out loud is probably more suited for a wet Sunday afternoon DVD show, than a 'money spend' at the movies.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Ladybird, Ladybird, Fly Away Home

The other day I was loading some more firewood into out wood burner to keep the place warm. I put in about three pieces at a time and as I was shutting the door I realised that the last piece had a ladybird (ladybug) sitting on it, but I had already shut the door.

Straight away a nursery rhyme from my childhood came to mind

Ladybird ladybird fly away home,
Your house is on fire and your children are gone,
All except one and that's little Ann,
For she crept under the frying pan.
Another version is: 
Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home,
Your house is on fire, your children all gone,
Except little Nan, who sits in a pan,
Weaving gold laces as fast as she can. 

I quickly opened the fire door but alas the lady bird had gone. Whether she (I just presume it was a she - I mean it is a 'lady' bird) had escaped up the chimney or whether she had hidden in the log, or worse still, shriveled up in the heat, I will never know but the rhyme still lingered in the hope that she had flown home.

So I had to find out what this rhyme was all about.

In Medieval England farmers would set torches to the old hop (used in flavoring beer) vines after the harvest in order to clear the fields for the next planting. Farmers knew of the Ladybird's value in reducing the level of pests in their crops and it was traditional for them to cry out the rhyme before they burnt their fields following harvests (this reduced the level of insects and pests) in deference to the helpful ladybird.
It was sung as a warning to the ladybirds that were still crawling on the vines in search of aphids.

The ladybirds' children (larvae) could get away from the flames, but the pupae, referred to as "Nan" in some versions, were fastened to the plants and thus could not escape.
Pupae are the larvae when they have formed a cocoon and are changing into adults.
"Nan" was originally an affectionate form of the name "Ann"
(but it is now generally used as a short form of "Nancy").

"Ladybird, ladybird" would also be chanted by a small child when this pretty, little, inoffensive insect landed on their person.  They would chant the charm to provoke a response from the insect:
Traditionally the insect is set on a finger before being addressed. . . .
If the ladybird did not fly away of its own accord the child would gently blow it away chanting "Ladybird Ladybird fly away home".
When the warning has been recited (and the ladybird blown upon once), it nearly always happens that the seemingly earthbound little beetle produces wings and flies away."

This insect is found every summer in the gardens - the most common colour is red with black spots, less common are the Steely blue and also the yellow variety

Steely blue ladybird
Eleven spotted ladybird

In America ladybirds are referred to as 'ladybugs'.

Ladybird History Connection -
Gunpowder Plot Conspirators?

The English word ladybird is a derivative of the Catholic term " Our Lady".
The tradition of calling this rhyme was believed to have been used as a seemingly innocent warning cry to Catholic (recusants) who refused to attend Protestant services as required by the Act of Uniformity (1559 & 1662).
This law forbade priests to say Mass and forbade communicants to attend it.
Consequently Mass was held secretly in the open fields. Laymen were subject to jail and heavy fines and priests to execution.
Many priests were executed by the terrible death of being burnt alive at the stake or, even worse, being hung, drawn and quartered.
The most famous English recusants were Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot Conspirators.

The American Version of the Lyrics

It is possible that the word Ladybird was exchanged for Ladybug, in the American version of the nursery rhyme, due the word association with Firebug meaning an arsonist or pyromaniac.
The first publication date was 1865 and the word ladybird was used as opposed to ladybug.
There has been some speculation that this Nursery Rhyme originates from the time of the Great Fire of London in 1666.