Friday, October 31, 2008


Son Sam had an amazing dolphin experience. Last week he spent four days in his friends' Dads' lovely old sailing ship Windborne out at the Mercury Islands and a pod of dolphins stayed and played with them for two of those days. He has a little underwater video camera which also takes stills and shot some great footage up close and personal with these beautiful creatures. I will post some video when I can work out how to reduce them down.

To Elton aka Phil aka Mate

For those of my readers who are hard of hearing and have strained eyesight and hair loss I have changed the background colour of this blog. It is certainly less artistic but perhaps more practical.
Is that better Ellltttyyyyy??

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Nature, like an athlete, has clothed herself after her contest with the great antagonist, Winter. No sign of the muscular bare branches and twigs now.
(with help from Henry )

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Lets Party

Oh no, hard at work again and I thought I was retired! Very busy cooking for punters over our long Labour Day weekend. Did you know NZ was one of the first countries in the world to introduce the eight hour day in 1890?
It seems people are still spending money here even with the fug of economic gloom. I have a theory that if the future looks sort of bad the populace will tighten their belts, but if it looks very bad they will go out and party like there is no tomorrow.

Monday, October 27, 2008


To transanima with thanks

I gag
On a viscous tide
Of respectability
Where a
Barely breaks

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Chess anyone?

Been a long time coming but I finally finished my treepee. I made the last section on the ground and now that it is finished I don't know if I like the form. Do I change it which is a huge job or sunbathe on my beach!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Novel - The Novel (Manyana)

The body lay face down in the shallows, lifted grotesquely up onto the rock face by the long swell, then sucked back into the waiting kelp.
He manouvered the boat as close as he dared, worried about the reef that ran diagonally out from the shoreline, but was still not close enough to use the boat hook. He sat back and contemplated the terrain of the island. It was small, perhaps a couple of hectares, and mostly boulders and bare rock scarred with bird dung rising up to scrubby vegetation. Nowhere to land with the swell running in from the north. Maybe from the lee side he could run the boat ashore without harm and walk round. But how the hell was he going to get a water-logged corpse back?
He considered using the radio but the light was fast going and it would be two hours before anyone from the port could make it out. There was nothing else for it but to get into the water. He eased the boat out to about thirty metres and went forward to change the sand anchor for a grapnel, it had to hold while he was in the water or there could be two bodies to be found. The motion changed from an uneasy rolling to a steady bucking as the anchor took hold and he waited some minutes with his hand on the warp to make sure there was no movement off the sea floor. The water looked cold and uninviting.
Stripped down, he buckled his diving knife, uncleated a strong but soft rope and slung it over his head and one arm, rueing the decision to leave his wesuit at home. Again he poised on the stern. Sharks? The darkening water? More the tumbling body now turned face up and appearing to grasp for a handhold.
He dived quickly and the shock of the water brought him to the surface within a few metres. The rope restricted his arm so he set off on a sideways crawl until he felt the waving arms of kelp clutching at his ankles. Treading water he tried to gauge the force of the swells and their backwash off the rocks.
He felt alone and afraid. With death staring upwards close by him he suddenly didn't want any part of it. Perhaps not death but the ignoble way this man had gone like a piece of flotsam on the beach. No trumpets, just a cold deserted shoreline and an uncompromising sea.
Already the swells were beginning to be difficult to judge with the darkening skies so he waited until the body was washed back then lunged forward, grabbed a twist of clothing and kicked hard as he could to get away from the danger zone. He wasn't quick enough. He felt the rising water and to his horror became tangled in clothing and limbs as they were rolled up and then pulled painfully back.
Now he was really scared. He would somehow have to tie a rope around the body while battling the wash. It was difficult enough loosening an end without passing it around the torso so he settled for an arm while more skin was left on the rocks.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Pictures from Napoli

A couple of pictures from Eugenios excellent site in Napoli

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Old moon

I was having a bath last night on our deck overlooking the sea and a big old moon tilted up out of the pohutukawas to have a look at me. I couldn't tell if he was disappointed.
I wish the moon could shine on all the people of the world
And if he can't do that I wish he could shine on most of them
And if that's impossible, shine on many of them
And if that's a no no, shine on a few of them
And if all else fails let him shine on me.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Yes Dear

"Yes Dear I am building your house".....

" I don't know about three bedrooms, two bathrooms and open plan living although I do have an open plan".....

"Yes I think it is good for entertaining if you are talking two people round a campfire".....

"No it's not well secured but the beauty of that is, I can turn it around so the door faces the sun and allows it to illuminate your perfect face"......

"No I'm not. Flattery is for people who want something"......

"Well yes I would like you to approve my house"......

"I'm calling it a treepee"......

"Resale value? I guess it depends how many Indians there are out there"......

"I know it has no windows but it's a big saving and you hate cleaning them anyway"......

"TV sucks"......

"I'm not going to wear clothes"......

"I'll leave a spade outside"......

"Well your face is not so perfect anyway!"......

Friday, October 10, 2008

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Sorry it's so long

The hippopotamus was asleep at the bottom of the garden. Well I'm not sure it was a hippo but it was big and round and it smelt like one. Though I've never smelt one and so it must have been the big boulders my mother directed my father to set in the fern garden. He grumbled the whole time for he hated gardening, not because he didn't like growing things, but because my mother never left him alone and was always telling him the roses wouldn't do well there or it's no use putting in broad beans this late.
No doubt she was right but I remember in the corner where the grass clippings were tipped, all kinds of odd vegetables and flowers grew in utter profusion. A carrot picked from there was always the sweetest and a potato root the most prolific. My mother never knew because that was our secret and I think it kept my father sane to know that Good can come from Chaos.
I was too young then to understand the wildness in him. He was a big man but stooped as if apologetic to smaller people. He loved walking and as soon as he left the ordered streets, his shoulders would straighten as if to encompass the breadth of the countryside and he would stride along pointing to birds or trees with little stories to go with each. It became ingrained in me to look beyond an object to find it's place in relation to its surroundings.
But part of me was also my mothers. I resented his scruffiness. Whenever we went visiting, no matter how my mother told him to dress, he would always look down at heel, like an old sheep dog, his clothes never sitting well on him because he had no time for them except to keep him warm and a place to keep his hands.
I've digressed from hippos to sheep dogs but I think animals have a lot to answer for in my young life. Whenever the dark conjured up frightful things it was never ogres or giants, but prowling black panthers with drooling jowls and wicked yellow teeth or a baboon from the zoo whose eyes told me he was going to get out of there and get me as soon as he got a chance. On bright sunny days too, you could always find a great elephant or charging steed to mow you down if you ever got your feet off the ground. It was no wonder I always made sure there was a fence between me and the quietest doe-eyed cow.
There was one lion, however, that made up a lot of the ground the other animals had lost. He sat high above the bush on the way to the Coromandel as if on a woolly throne, his great rocky impassive head never moving an inch and seeming so aloof and disinterested that he would think it beneath him to come down and chase a humble little boy like me. He really was an inspiration to all those lower order animals.
Another lord of the forest I remember on the way to Coromandel over the narrow winding hill road was a big kauri tree, so big it took twenty minutes to walk around. OK it was perched on the side of a twelve metre cliff and by the time you fell down that and climbed up the other side your twenty minutes were up. At least that's what my father said, my mother would never let us get anywhere near the edge except when she was busy with my car sick sister and I managed a peek over the edge to make sure my father wasn't pulling my leg. He was when he told me about the rock off Whitianga where you could catch smoked snapper. I believed that for a long time.
You may well ask what I'm getting at. But does it matter? Like you I had a few minutes to spare and what better way to use them than to dangle a line into the past hoping to bring to the surface a nice, fat reason for my behavioural patterns of today. Not that I have any real problems with myself, but that's reason enough to worry in a world where everybody seems to have a problem from some distortion of their childhood. I mean, 'behavioural patterns', I must have picked that up from some expert trying to justify his job by adding to the already long list of worries to worry about.
There were hardly any experts in those days. If you smacked your kids it was reckoned they deserved it and no hands were held up in protest. The strap was pretty much in evidence in primary school too and I never dared tell my father how many I received for fear I would get more from him for being a nuisance to the teachers. They were held in very high respect then. But where did they hide all the young ones you see today? Perhaps the training was longer and they were all fifty before they were allowed to plough the fields of our young minds. It was all very traditional and not very uplifting. It's no wonder we are so sports conscious in New Zealand. It's all we went to school for . That and to taunt the girls. I would like to say at this point to Elizabeth that I really was only tickling you, nothing else, I was too naive, although I would have liked to think otherwise at the time.. I remember when you were obviously growing faster than me you said that you felt like doing something daring and all I could think of was doing a death defying dive off the rocks into the sea.
It seems my life is made up of quite a few lost opportunities. Not that I'm complaining, I'm a firm believer of the 'lying in your own bed' proverb except other people have the habit of apple-pieing it or putting a hedgehog between the sheets.
My childhood was certainly built on solid foundatins. Sure most bricks had a flaw but collectively they ushered me into the sixties as a stable and happy teenager ready to please and reasonably sure of myself. But treachery was afoot. A subtle change had taken root, 'times were achanging', the nasal voice of protest was wafting in under the bouganvillia, bouncing against the gold brocade wallpaper and striking a receptive chord in our young minds. But what had we to complain about? Our parents, after the defeat of Hitler, had looked towards a golden age of peace, prosperity and above all security and who could blame them after looking over the edge of insanity. But by the sixties this had soured as they came to realise that war was an inevitable fact and they had no control over their sons being sent to steamy jungles to fight in a struggle everyone would lose. I don't think this was necessarily a conscious thought because above all else the sense of security and the belief governments were for the people had to be maintained or be seen to be maintained, but the underlying futility was passed on to us and we responded like a plant to water, believing the opposition to authority was all our idea.
So we grew our hair and marched up and down with youths confidence that the world was at our feet, ready for change but not realising the real vehicle for change was in the hands of a select few whose main interest was to maintain the status quo. We won a few victories but as time wore on a division appeared between us. Some carrying on the fight wore a look of sullen resignation and the others, by far the majority, had a bright dollar look in their eyes, neither of whom were going to do anybody any good.
And me? I've realisd long since that hippopotamii don't wander into gardens and the only thing we have to worry about concerning animals is their common sense, but being an optimist I feel there are some people left who came of age in the sixties who are now building powerful positions. Not for their own sake but to further the aims we pledged in our youth of honesty, fairness and peace. But isn't that what our parents and their parents before them wanted also?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Good friend Billy Mallett from Exeter in the UK is a wonderful painter but like a lot of artists struggles to believe in herself . I wish I had half her talent!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Lemon Risotto Cake

In response to the huge demand, here is the lemon risotto cake recipe I use at the Egg.
100gms butter
1 white onion chopped
1 cup aborio rice
4 cups water or a good chicken stock
Rind of 1 lemon zested
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan
2 free range eggs
Salt and fresh ground pepper

Melt the butter in a heavy pan and sweat the onion till translucent. Add the rice and stir until coated. Turn up the heat and add the stock 1/2 a cup at a time letting it absorb before adding the next. Takes about 20 minutes or until the rice still has a little bite to it. Take it off the heat and add the zest, the parmesan and the seasoning. Cool for a few minutes and stir in the eggs. Pour onto a tray and set in the fridge. When ready to use for a meal, cut into squares and grill in the frypan until golden. Keeps well for up to 5 days. It tastes better with chicken stock but I use water so I can add it to my vegetarian meal.
Bon Appa Teat

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Running scared

Do you want me (a warning)
Do you want to come
To the broken rhythms
Of my heart
I love you more than
Life itself
More than I can bear
To be apart
Yet I'm afraid
I'm running scared
Of losing you to me