Saturday, January 30, 2016


Last week I was hiking on the Milford track in Fiordland. It's a 53.5km walk mostly through rain forest. And, as you can see from the photos, it rained. Every day. Fiordland gets about 7m of rain and an average of 200 rain-days a year so the chances of walking in the rain are fairly high. It was still an incredible trip. Everything was misty with low cloud. The rivers rose and pounded down the valleys. Because of the weather we missed out on the view from the top of the Mackinnon Pass and didn't see many birds but the waterfalls - so many - were amazing.
TripAdvisor has many reviews of the Milford track - mostly written by hikers who were lucky to get fine weather - but Milford in the rain can also be a special experience.

Reading: The lady in the van and other stories by Alan Bennett

Watching: Australian Open Tennis (on television, of course)

Saturday, January 16, 2016


Hot summer days scream out for ice cream. This banana one is so quick to make and so good to eat. We love it. I think you will too.

Banana ice cream
2 ripe bananas, frozen
1/4 cup milk (dairy, nut or soy) or yoghurt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp honey or maple syrup
tiny pinch of salt
1 tbsp cacao nibs (optional)
Put everything in a blender and blend until smooth.

To freeze bananas:
Slice the bananas and place on a tray lined with baking paper and leave in the freezer for at least two hours.

Serves 2-3

You can freeze bananas well ahead of time and store in a plastic bag in the freezer. You can also make the ice cream any time and keep in a container in the freezer but, I think, it's best eaten straight after making.

Reading: A map of the world by Jane Hamilton

Watching: Room - heartbreaking but beautiful film adaptation of Emma Donoghue's novel of the same name

Sunday, January 10, 2016


I was going to throw out these linen napkins. I never used them because I didn't like the pale apricot colour. But, inspired by Shabd Simon-Alexander's tie-dyed baby blanket (in Lena Corwin's book, Made by hand) I dyed them instead. I used a Dylon powdered fabric dye (dark brown) and used Shabd's method of wrapping chickpeas with rubber bands to form spots. Not sure that if I saw these napkins in a store that I'd buy them but they are (still) linen and better than before, I think. 
I was a bit nervous about dyeing them. But, do you remember Trinny and Susannah? They did something on clothing make-overs and their reasoning was that if you weren't wearing something then you had nothing to lose by trying to change it. If the make-over was a success, you had a "new" item in your wardrobe and if it failed, well, you weren't wearing it anyway. So, with that in mind, I gave it a go.

Reading: Oranges are not the only fruit by Jeanette Winterson. I found it in one of the local book exchanges. I liked her autobiography, Why be happy when you could be normal?

Infinitely polar bear starring Mark Ruffalo,
scary documentary film, Going clear: Scientology and the prison of belief and
Star Wars: the force awakens.

Listening:  B'lieve i'm goin down by Kurt Vile :)

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


I bought these pencils as a little post christmas gift - two for me (for writing) and two for my daughter (for drawing). I first heard about the Blackwing from Mary Norris in her book Between you & me: confessions of a comma queen. She loves the Blackwing with its slogan "half the pressure, twice the speed". They are nice pencils. They're bigger - longer and maybe a bit fatter - than regular pencils. But not heavy. They also have unusual flat erasers that are removable. You can let out more as they wear down. And buy replacements. And they have a soft lead like a B or 2B.
There are three pencils in the range; Blackwing, 602 and Pearl. Comprehensive review of them all here. I bought mine from Everyday needs but they're also available at Gordon Harris.

Reading: Three mothers (and a camel) by Phyllida Law. Diary-like snippets of domestic life while the author was looking after, first, her mother-in-law and then her own mother. Surprisingly entertaining and funny.

Viewing: Still light: the photography of Marti Friedlander at Pah Homestead till 14 February, 2016

Watching: Ex machina and The lady in the van (based on Alan Bennett's short story and starring the wonderful Maggie Smith)

Friday, January 1, 2016

one word

Happy new year to you. 

This time last year I was thinking about how I could find more time because I never seemed to have enough of it to do the things I thought I wanted to do. So, in September I made one big change and resigned from my job. It's been good. And a bit weird. At times I've felt really happy and at other times a bit lost. But I'm confident that I made the right decision.
And, after reading The life-changing magic of tidying by Marie Kondo, I completely de-cluttered my wardrobe and starting folding things her way. I love that I can open a drawer and see everything in there. And because I now know what I've got, I'm buying less stuff.
I also gave up playing computer games, planted a herb garden, visited Stewart Island, visited White Island, discovered The New Yorker, discovered chia, bought a new sofa that I'm not sure I really like that much, bought boots and a backpack and joined a women's tramping club, recovered from a really bad flu' and won a Christmas hamper raffle.
So, on balance, not a bad result.

How was 2015 for you?
Are you going to make any resolutions for this year?
I haven't decided on any yet. Instead of resolutions you could choose just one word as a sort of guide for the year. I'm not sure if it's for me but having a single focus sounds good.

Favourite book of 2015: The iceberg by Marion Coutts. I got a bit obsessed with her story and went on to read these books written by her husband, Tom Lubbock - Until further notice, I'm alive and Great works: 50 paintings explored.

Favourite music of 2015: Sometimes I sit and think, and sometimes I just sit by Courtney Barnett