Sunday, December 29, 2013


This poem was published in 'over and out from down under'' and it seems to have developed a life of its own. It was read in eleven different countries in 2009 and every New Year I get e mails from people in really out of the way places telling me somebody read it att heir New Year celebrations, or asking permission to perform it at Poetry readings, although t was unplaced when Irfead it at the Waimate Womens Institute Eistedfodd.

So here it is again with greetings to everybody.

Waitaki hogmanay

All day to-morrow caravans and cars
will drive through out gate and
make a circle round the green
like the wagon train in westerns.

Awnings will spread, children scatter
to take up games laid down last summer
except Jason and Dulcie
who will stroll to the beach because
now they are fifteen
he shaves twice a week
and her breasts are budding'

We will set  trestles under the oak tree
for drinks and salads and things
ladies bring on plates,
not forgetting sausages, steaks
and fillets of fresh salmon
wrapped in foil,

Fred's new barbecue has a grill,
hot plates, a rotisserie and
an oven for warming bread
Men will gather to admire but
talk about bonfires on beaches
and sausages on sticks.

"Has anyone seen Dulcie?"
her mother will ask.

At ten o'çlock Alice and Bert will tune their guitars
Mothers will send children to wash hands.

'Where the bloody hell is Jason?"
his father will snarl.

At midnight we will sing Áuld Lang Syne'
and toast the new year, absent friends,
whitebait, salmon, sea run trout
and anything else we can think of.

Anglers from the next camp
will come first footing and when
there are no more bottles or cans
we will make tea and toast the dawn.

Jason and Dulcie will stroll
back from the beach,
 last nights stars
still bright in their eyes.

Saturday, December 21, 2013


Yesterday, while the weather was still warm I sat on my tiny verandha waiting for the postman. Some of my neighbours stopped by on their way to their letter boxes. Georgie, who regularly delivers delicious salmon or trout caught by her husband, and Mary who sings country and western songs to residents at the hospice in Oamaru. The Rural delivery van drove up to my crub bearing several packages and a big box of flowers. In the box alongside the gerberas, statice, roses and lilies was a little  box and a card from the florist apologising for late delivery of my birthday bouquet. inside the box were six delicious chocolates hand made by Bennetts of Mangowai. My neighbours and I sat in the sun and shared them. Thank you to Regent florist for such a gracious touch, and I can recommend anyone touring North Auckland to stop at Mangowai  and sample their chocolates.

Yetserday morning I drove to Geraldine because I wanted to finish my Christmas shopping at a truly New Zealand store.  To get there I drove up  State Highway 1 until you I reached the . Highway 79 turnoff. About 199 metres along Highway 79 on the right hand side is The Tin Shed. The goods on sale here are not cheap, but they are good value, I bought possum and merino blend wool socks for my sons, and lovely enamel jewelery for daughters in law and grand daughters.  There were hand knitted woolen jerseys mostly under $300. and lovely soft hats and gloves.For myself I bought a tube of manuka honey hand cream. There was a big stock of beauty preparations and New Zealand designed garments.

As I said not cheap but good value and everything New Zealand made, And the extra touch? As well as Christmas wrapping my purchases wrapping the ladies in the shop offer tea and coffee to shoppers. There is a picnic table outside, and a pet donkey.

Then there are the people at Slightly Foxed book shop in Oamaru. They wrap each purchase  n brown paper and tie it with string.

And the other day in the precinct in Oamaru I was looking in the souvenr shop  something special for  a daughter in law (they are all special).
"We don;t have anything like that." said the lady in charge, "But Helen, in the shop upstairs makes and designs jewellery. She might have something,"
And Helen upstairs certainly did. I bought a lovely handmade necklace of polished purple and white conglomerate stone set in silver.

I have always defined angels as ordinary people getting on with their own lives who stop and give a touch of extra help when they see someone in need. They are to be found all over the place and revive my belief that most people are decent, kind and helpful.


Thursday, December 19, 2013


Hastings High School. 1938 to 1942, We were the first of the Beeby Brats;'The Proficency Examnaton had been aboilshed and we were the first to enter High School as of right. With determination and enthusiasm our teachers set about preparing us for Life. Instead of teaching us how to pass exams with a minimum of thought we learned:-

Girls might pass University Entrance but career choices were limited,
 A strean became Teachers and Nurses until they married.
B stream became shotrhand typists until they marries.
Home and Vocational stream  worked in shops or factories until they got pregnant and had to get married.

A stream girls learned English, Latin. French, Mathermatics, Science History and because they were going to get married they also learned Cookery. Dressnaking and Homecraft.

In Cookery we learned how to maintain, control and cook on   a coal range
We learned to test the heat of ovens by putting a square of paper into the oven and timing how long it took to brown. Immediately for scones, three minutes for sponges , five minutes for fruitcakes or roasts.
We learned to cook said scones, sponges and roasts.
 to soften butter to spread on sandwiches
 to cream butter and sugar using a wooden spoon
how to clean up,
In form IV  we learned about the essential food groups\ We would lose our teeth if we did not drink milk, we would lose our eyesight if we did not eat green vegetables and we would never have babies if we did not eat wholemeal bread.

 Homecraft we learned how to polish wooden furniture. silver cutlery and brass tapsto sweep and mop floors,to prepare household linen for Monday's wash, this included advice on soaking our home made sanitary pads in cold water before boiling them in the copper.
 to use a mangle to press sheets
to iron handkerchiefs, pillowcases, tablecloths, tea towels, shirts and dresses
We practised bathing babies using a celluloid doll, testing its bath water with our elbow to check that it was not too hot.

Dressmaking we learned to make blouses  dresses and baby clothes using french seams, flat seams, turned hems.
We learned to turn collars when the top layers frayed so our future husbands would always look neat.
to darn socks
to hand make button holes
to sew on buttons, domes.and hooks and eyes/

We were certainly well prepared for life. Trouble was it was someone else's life. Nobody predicted washing machines, disposable nappies ,microwave ovens,automatic cars or chainstore clothes made in China.