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Archive for the ‘Non-Fiction’ Category

In Non-Fiction on May 23, 2018 at 12:12 pm

Poem to my late husband Steve

Rest in Peace

20.08.69 to 19.09.17


I laid beside you nearly all of my life
I lay beside you when you began your journey to leave this world
And I lay beside you when you had gone
I wrapped your lifeless arm around me, felt your hand upon my face
I wanted to lie there forever, but I knew you’d gone to a better place
I cried so much I thought I’d never stop, I still cry everyday whether I want to or not
I wake up every morning and look where you used to lie
I go to bed alone every night and think about you all the time
If only I had known you were going I would have had many things to say
Instead I said them while you slept under the careful care of doctors, night and day
And again when you were beyond just sleep and I said many words of disbelief
I still get the same pains in my chest I did then
Physical pains because I’ll never see you again
I remember when we were young, when we became parents and how we’d fight about silly things—that was you and me
But the love never waned; it grew stronger every day and even when we’d lose our way,
We’d get back to where we’d been …together forever was the way it was supposed to be.
But now you’re no longer here and I’ve struggled to accept you’ve gone,
Being so used to you being my whole world
And me your loving wife,
I will cherish our time together for the rest of my life.



The Kitchen

In Non-Fiction, Renovating/DIY on January 11, 2018 at 10:44 pm


Four years of planning and ‘Mind-blowing’ was my reaction when I got home from England to the old kitchen gone and the new one was in!

The planning I did for this kitchen, albeit it had been four years in theory, was done fairly quickly in comparison to other projects as Mr C wanted to strip the room and do as much as possible with renovating it, including fitting a new kitchen whilst I was a way for five weeks in England with our daughter. As with the rest of the renovation we we’re on a tight budget and finding the right type of cupboard front was proving quite difficult as quality kitchens are ridiculously expensive in New Zealand and the DIY stores just didn’t cut it when it come to completing our country kitchen. I had almost given up hope that we’d ever find what we we’re looking for (even going so far as to looking into importing from the UK), until one day and by chance whilst standing in a kitchen store and close to giving up there was one random door leaning up against the wall, our hope was restored. I sourced the handles on the Internet for half the price of store bought and after choosing between a couple of samples, came to a happy decision—finally one of the main aspects of the new kitchen was absolute! Then it was time to choose tiles. Another dilemma and time spent playing around with samples, looking for rustic and easy care—liked the slate, but nope, when you wipe them with a damp cloth, most of the cloth was left behind on the tile! So glossy and practical it was! Small tiles were first choice until it was discovered for the same cubic area as the larger tile they were going to cost twice as much! Crazy! So the larger tile it was! Decisions, decisions! The sink wasn’t a problem as this had been stored in the garage for the past two years— A country-style butler sink brought over from England by a friend whom at the time was importing a caravan! I would often think of this sink whilst I washed up in the tiny sink we had and how one day it would be eventually installed! Two years later—et voila!

The flooring was going to be laminate and this was up to Mr C as I wasn’t going to be around for any input on this as we’d run out of time to sort this item before I left the country. It all turned out well though and Mr C chose a good colour that suits! The oven wasn’t a problem either as that had also been sitting in the garage, not for two years though, just for six months. The bespoke counter tops were made beautifully by Mr C from reclaimed Rimu and have added a rustic country-style finish as well as being inexpensive in comparison to the favoured marble top. It was a compromise that I am more than happy with. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. When there are always things when renovating that you know you’d do differently or areas you could have saved money on at the time, but it wasn’t obvious until later.

What you favour isn’t always possible and frugality doesn’t always succeed

So there we have it… four years on, a new country kitchen to enjoy! Waving goodbye with joy to the unreliable cooker and the 1980’s design, not to mention the horrid sink.






Personal note: This post has been posted more than two years after actual completion in August 2015. Due to the general busyness of life this final room in our six year long renovation wasn’t posted until now (Jan 2018). I wish to dedicate this last post on my blog about the renovation and the very reason I started writing it, to my late husband Mr C who unexpectedly passed away 19th September 2017. Me and my daughter miss him every single day. Together for 25 years, life without him is difficult to adjust to and it’s with great sadness after the past six years we spent renovating our lovely kiwi farmstead I am moving to another home with my daughter soon.

Rest in peace my love, I’m sure that all the work you’ve done to our home will be loved for many more years to come.

In loving memory of Steven Michael Clements

20th August 1969 – 19th September 2017

‘Loved always and forever’



Family Heritage

In Non-Fiction on February 21, 2016 at 11:38 am

I find family history and ancestry discovery very interesting—where we’ve come from and from whom, the genes we carry and the different names that have evolved throughout our history. It will be interesting to read in another hundred years’ time how it transforms further, for example: the occupations people held during the 20th century compared to the 21st century and beyond. For instance, my own family tree shows ancestors who worked as steel turners or farm servants—imagine the roles stated on upcoming censuses nowadays: IT Specialist, Graphic Designer, Baristas, to name a few. Today we have the Internet, which is a great tool to research your family tree, although I doubt whether a thorough exploration can be achieved without any cost involved or investigating findings further to create a precise map of our forefathers. However, the Internet can be a foundation to build upon. Many results are found in the Country’s census report that is a primary source of quality data about the nation’s people and economy. A methodical practice, which acquires and records information such as: full name, date of birth, dwelling, occupation and age of every occupant inside the residence at the time of the census—a procedure in ‘olden’ days that would have been hand written and kept in huge ledgers. This can be a wealth of information to pinpoint correct documentation of birth certificates, marriage and death certificates to clarify or conclude your enquiries.

Our ancestral tree begins with our parents and it’s not surprising it was named a ‘tree’ as from your mother it branches off to one direction and from your father another to create huge offshoots that are grafted and sometimes interweaved with divorces and multiple marriages with subsequent kith and kin—growing-out to a never ending expansive sapling of generation after generation. I once heard that the memories of direct descendants can be passed on through our genetic make-up. How true this is, I do not know. It’s relevant to the times when we’ve heard people talk about an extraordinary occurrence that is referred to as reincarnation. Have you ever heard anyone say ‘he’s been here before’ or ‘I think I was reincarnated’ —when in fact it’s believed it is because of our descendant’s memories being evoked through our DNA. As I said, this hasn’t been proven. Nevertheless it’s interesting.

My mother investigated her family tree quite a few years ago and it took a copious amount of time and dedication to complete; four years in fact. Thankfully through her efforts we have a documented history that began with a copper miner named John Phillips, born in 1796, married to Martha and they had seven children of only one is found documented as married with children and another documented with one child but no marriage. Records say they were all living in Cornwall and later it states in the census they were either living with each other or next door to each other in to adulthood. That’s where the tree on my mother’s side begins.

My father’s side, where the tree branches to a different bough was researched by my father’s cousin and it’s thanks to him that I have some information as well as photographs—another element of my family’s history I enjoy and I’m so pleased I have these wonderful pieces of the past. Sadly I hardly have any photographs of my mother’s family—perhaps many held by displaced members of family and some I’ve been told were stuck to hospital walls during my grandmother’s confinement back in the 70’s and were ruined whilst removing them from that wall after she passed. Her name was Ruth and she was my mother’s mother and she’s my little piece of missing history as we never met, it is such a shame not to have known my grandmother, apparently we have similarities. She sadly passed away a few months after I was born from multiple myeloma. She gave me my name and although she no longer had her sight she was able to hold me. My older sister remembers her, but vaguely, as she would have only been six years old at the time she passed away. We have a few cherished pictures and one of her mother, my great-grandmother Violet, who also passed too young and who never even got the chance to see her children grow as she died when my grand-mother Ruth was only six weeks old. It was 1921 and with no mother, Ruth was placed in the workhouse along with her brother. At some time they were taken out and grew up in the care of her mother’s sister Florence and her husband Robert who they believed to be their parents until discovering this wasn’t the case when her aunt passed away suddenly when Ruth was 14 or 15 years old.

Returning to the ancestry exploration my mother did. As well as many hours spent she also had to obtain certificates to either determine findings or develop them, which in turn was charged a fee for each one ordered. The census played a huge part in the journey and the outcome was marvellous and documented well in writing and with a complete tree to keep and a tree that keeps growing. Let’s hope when none of us are here to cultivate it anymore, our descendants will nurture it so that it is always sprouting new shoots.

One Half of my Family Tree

One Half of my Family Tree



Second Season

In Non-Fiction, Poultry on January 24, 2016 at 10:20 am

It’s my second season of breeding Muscovy ducks. They truly are endearing creatures. I’ve mentioned before in my posts that I began breeding so ‘my girls’ can do what’s natural—have their clutches of eggs hatch out (instead of brooding all spring and summer), and let them raise their young. Usually they abandon them at around 8 weeks, sometimes later and that’s when I can move all the very-quickly-grown ducks into their own enclosure, where they’ll be safe. Also this means that when they do move to pastures new, I’m not running a marathon trying to catch them in a net. This is the usual practice! I expect it’s quite amusing to watch if you’re the observer (my husband), surveying as I run around in my pyjamas—big net in hand—on collection days. Becomes increasingly harder too when they begin to fly! With exception of the drakes who are too heavy to get off the ground and much easier to capture, but heavier to carry—by the time I sold my last few drakes last season they were bigger than their fathering drake!

They are not ducklings for very long. Therefore, fortunately I have more options this year as Mr C put his constructing skills (yet again) to good use and has extended my enclosures, adding a new one for this precise time of the year.  During the winter it can remain empty where I can either re-seed with grass or something productive to benefit the hens and ducks.

I don’t think I could tire of holding and watching newly hatched ducklings, although sometimes difficult to hold depending on the mother’s mood. I find the best time is when she’s still sitting waiting for others to hatch; once they’re all out you can forget it! And rightly so, it’s her job to protect them, you have to respect this. There are times when they don’t make it out of the shell or they make it out and die, for reasons that can’t be exactly determined. Not hard for them to get squashed under big clumsy mother duck or for the shell to crack and dry out.

I kept the first one to hatch last season and named her Bella. I purposely haven’t let her nest this year; she’s tried a few times. Three ducks nesting is plenty as they can nest up to three times in one season. All my three Muscovy hens nested twice last season, resulting in sixty offspring, which I was fortunate to sell on to new homes as well as the males for meat. By selling them I was then able to put the money towards their food bill for the ducks and chickens, which usually runs into debt throughout the winter, as they eat more and lay less, resulting in less eggs for me to sell to cover their food. Food for my poultry never comes out of our own income; the eggs always manage to pay for the weekly food bill along with selling the ducks, it allows me to sometimes buy new water feeders or laying chickens. I also grow some basics, which is more of a treat with extra nutrients. I’ve just planted some silverbeet (known as chard, Swiss chard and seakale beet, similar to spinach but has a stronger flavour), so they’ll enjoy that when it’s ready.  So far there are twenty ducklings of various ages, thirteen still with their mother duck. Some are ready for new homes. I get some wonderful colours—black, white and green, just white, as well as black and white, blue and white and a lovely smoky grey.  There is one girl that I will be keeping! Last year Mr C told me I wasn’t allowed to keep any. He said, “If you keep one, then another and then before you know you’ve got twenty ducks”. Well it’s true and I’m not naïve to this fact, but I wanted to keep one!

One day Mr C asked “who’s that one over there?”

“That’s Bella”, I replied.

“Bella” he said, thinking to himself how he’d never heard that name before. “Who’s she then?” he asked.

“She was the first one that hatched out, she’s Daphne’s— I’m keeping her”, I answered with a grin.

He rolled his eyes, “You weren’t supposed to be keeping any …hmm”.

When I told Mr C this season I was keeping ‘the black and white female from that wee group of Daphne’s because I don’t have that colour in my flock, he didn’t say anything, well …not aloud anyway!


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Muscovy duck (Cairina moschata) is a large duck native to Mexico, Central, and South America.







Christmas 2015

In Non-Fiction on December 28, 2015 at 11:58 am

I hope everyone who reads or sees my blog had a good Christmas and is enjoying the festive season. I actually felt fairly Chrismassy this year. I don’t normally. My Christmas senses were developed over many years living in England, therefore the sense of cold weather, early dark nights and dark mornings are what associates this festive time for me. And although warm sunshine is alluring for those who’ve never experienced it at this time of year, it does become less important as the years fly by. It’s comforting to feel that Christmas spirit despite which country you live in and what the weather is doing… so it was nice to feel its return this year. Perhaps after eight years I have  become accustomed to the differences. Long may it continue.

Merry Christmas xxx

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Photo of me and my daughter in England on her first Christmas. She will be 15 years old next year!

Broth or Soup?

In Non-Fiction on November 9, 2015 at 1:41 pm


Homemade broth or soup is beneficially nutritious in anyone’s diet – in addition to being cheap to make!

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A big pan of it could easily feed a large family and you can put in ham or chicken. You could make it vegetarian by just adding lentils and veggies or even pasta if you want some more carbs. It is also a good way to use up left overs. I grew up with ham broth and dumplings and it’s still one of my favourites today. My mother makes the best!

I make broth and soup often and you can’t go wrong—so easy to do! I have rarely used a recipe for either and simply experimented with whatever’s at hand. Roast vegetable soups are also very tasty and one of my other favourites is cauliflower soup and pumpkin soup spiced up with some fresh chillies.

The ingredients below are for broth (or to blended to make ham, chicken or vegetable soup) and can be altered from week to week depending on what you have in your fridge and cupboards, or whatever pre-cooked meat you have left over from the night before.



(Options of meat)

  1. Pre-cooked or left over joint of ham
  2. Pre-cooked bacon pieces
  3. Pre-cooked or left over roast chicken


Vegetable basics: Onion, carrots, celery (parsnip and swede optional but add great flavour)

Omit anything you don’t like and add in what you do like, such as cauliflower, potatoes, sweet potato and butternut squash.

1 or 2 cloves of garlic

1 cup of lentils and barley (optional)

Chicken or vegetable stock

1 tbsp of coconut oil or olive oil

Salt & Pepper to taste



Prepare all vegetables by chopping them well unless you plan to blend to

make soup or prefer a chunky broth.

Heat the oil in large deep saucepan then sauté onions over medium heat for 2 to 3 mins until soft.

Add vegetables and stir through for a minute before adding stock. Top up if needed with boiling water from the kettle until vegetables are covered.  Turn up heat until boiling point is reached then turn down low; preferably place a lid over the pan and leave to simmer for 30 minutes.

Add choice of pre-cooked meat and simmer for five minutes before adding salt and pepper to taste.



Serve with fresh bread or folded wraps.


You can also freeze any leftovers in plastic tubs for another day!

Homemade Scotch Eggs

In Non-Fiction on October 23, 2015 at 11:12 am

Having failed miserably to find a decent scotch egg in Christchurch, New Zealand, I decided to have a go at making my own. The result was awesome! I highly recommend making your own, but they can be time consuming and messy during the coating process so keep a warm bowl of soapy water to hand so you can keep cleaning your hands to prevent creating messy egg balls!


7/8 eggs

approx. 700g of pork sausage meat

3 chopped sage leaves or a teaspoon of rubbed sage

a handful of chopped parsley (fresh rather than dried is best)

cup of flour

2 cups of panko crumbs

1 litre of (good quality) frying oil

Salt and pepper



  • set one egg aside for later7ed51714-7112-4721-807e-a4217822a6f2
  • boil remaining eggs for four minutes (six if using duck eggs), cool under running water, shell and set aside

In a bowl, mix herbs and sausage meat together and divide into equal portions. Using wet hands to prevent sticking, create a flat patty shape with the meat and place a boiled egg in the middle of each patty folding until the eggs are covered.

Using separate containers or plates, place the flour, egg (beaten) and crumbs on them for the coating process.

Take your time and carefully roll each meat egg ball in the flour, then the egg and then the panko crumbs and set aside.

Place in the fridge when finished. Can be made the day before cooking if desired.9ea814bd-d189-4e41-a44e-6ae15d354d65


Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celsius.

In a high sided pan (a wok is ideal if you have one) heat the oil. Don’t overheat! Test after a few minutes with some of the crumb and see if it sizzles.

Carefully lower each scotch egg into the oil using a large draining spoon. Cook two or three at a time for 5-8 minutes and drain on paper towel. Finish in the oven 5-8 minutes.4f23444c-2edc-4281-b8dc-b1a8195686e8

Serve with salad, chutney, chips, mayonnaise – or whatever you want! Eat hot or cold!








Japanese (3 ingredient) Cheesecake!

In Non-Fiction on October 22, 2015 at 12:14 pm




3 medium sized eggs

120 grams of good quality white chocolate

Cream cheese



First, separate the egg yolks from the whites, then place the whites in the fridge and pre-heat your oven to 170 Celsius (325 F).

Melt the white chocolate in a pot. When cooled, mix it with the cream cheese using a spatula, then add the egg yolks and stir well. Remove whites from the fridge and mix them well.

Mix egg whites in with the cream cheese and chocolate mixture so you get a homogenized mixture.

Pour the mixture directly into the pan, which is previously covered with butter (do not leave the mixture) and bake for 15 minutes at 170 Celsius degrees (325 F), and then 15 of slightly lower temperatures around 150 Celsius degrees (300 F). Turn off the oven and leave the cake to stand for 15 minutes. Remove, leave to cool completely, then decorate with icing sugar or fruit if desired.







‘It’s all trial and error’

In Gardening, Non-Fiction on October 21, 2015 at 11:42 am

It’s all trial and error with gardening. I’ve grown things that have been prolific in my garden at one time and then flopped the next time. All depends on seasons, which are not necessarily consistent.

I’ve begun slowly and tried not to be too keen; allowing the weather to warm up rather than rushing with eagerness because it’s 20151021_140438 now spring! I kicked started with some pak choi, coriander, lettuce and potatoes as well as potting some already established annual and perennial flowers in tubs. I’ve also got some flower seedlings on the go: calendula (from the daisy family), viscaria mixed (cottage garden plant) and sunflowers.

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I was late planting garlic this year as I wasn’t at home when I needed to get them in the ground and although it’s not too late, it’s not ideal so I’ve only planted half the amount this year. The cloves will be third generation seed deriving from the original elephant garlic I purchased from a farm in the North Island so I’m not sure how they will turn out. Hopefully well!


Now the weather is settling and the frosts have passed I’ve begun potting tomato and pepper plants. I picked up some beautiful 20151021_140129gerberas (my favourite) for a very low price the other day and potted them too. One year I tried to keep things in my greenhouse but the mice kept getting in and helping themselves and unless what I’m growing thrives in a very warm environment like tomatoes and peppers then my greenhouse becomes overwhelming for seedlings. My seedlings do best in my mini-greenhouse that now has a great new cover on it thanks to my mum who made one out of mesh when she visited last year. It stands in a spot that gets sun for half of the day and that seems to suit—as I said ‘trial and error’ because what works one season doesn’t always work the next! And I’m no “Monty Don” so I just give it go. Nonetheless I do try to be frugal as possible with compost, seedling mix and seeds as you do have to buy them, unless you’re an exceptional gardener and have your own compost pile—mine however is very small and it does take years to break down (and mine did) but I am not that good at remembering to add to it, however, with poultry and a guinea pig that enjoys fruit and veggie scraps there’s not much that goes to waste in my kitchen. Even though I miss the mark when it comes to composting I do use my chicken’s manure as a fertiliser!

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So spring is off to a productive start with seeds germinating successfully and chicks and ducklings due to hatch this week and next. I love this time of year.

Brrr… It’s Beginning To Look Like Winter!

In Non-Fiction on May 28, 2015 at 2:16 pm

The weather is cold here in New Zealand and winter is certainly making an entrance in to the autumn season. I don’t think anybody likes the cold. With the long months of light nights, warmth and hot dry temperatures that we have here during the summer, it’s quite a shock when the cold arrives. Wood is stacked at the door for the fire and looking outside I can see all the jobs I’d wish I’d completed during the warm months! The memories of gas central heating in England never fade and my bedroom heater is now out of the wardrobe and I think the electric blanket on the bed won’t be far behind! There are always jobs to do in the garden to prepare for winter and my hydrangeas and hedges are screaming out to be cut back and the weeds (that are always ridiculous) are getting out-of-control. There is a still lot to look forward to over the coming months. The end of our four year renovation project is imminent and that’s a huge relief and accomplishment all rolled into one. Mr C and I both agreed during a recent conversation that even though we’ve made such a difference to this old farmstead and we love our home, we’d never do it again unless we had a lot of money to pay someone else to do all the work haha!