I found this

I found this, originally uploaded by KTandCoffee.
Finding this shell was a really joyful moment and I thought about it today when I seemed to have one of those days. I crashed the car into a wall pulling out of a car park, sounded terrible but didn't turn out to be that bad I guess! Then I broke the garden hose, how on earth I managed that who knows. The sunflower plants have all been eaten, the pepper plants look very unhappy, one mint plant is very very dead, the cauliflower has all gone (that's good I suppose as we ate it), there is a nasty looking white mould/dust thing on the the tomato plants (this is by biggest worry) and the ants are taking over the garden! I guess this is OK as number 13 on the list dosent't actually imply anything has to grow!
But I did get the last of the Christmas cards in the post - only two parcels left to finish and I started new book which had me enthralled from the beginning, plus tomorrow is a day off.

Happy Campers

Happy Campers, originally uploaded by KTandCoffee.
Well we're feeling rather good. We've just had a 4 night trip to the Coromandel Peninsular. Went further north than our last trip - in fact to the end of the road and we could drive no further. We actually had to go through a gate (yes opening it first). The campsite was run by DOC and was basic and beautiful. So long drop toilets, cold showers that you can look up into the sun while you shower. There was a tap for water so that made life easy. Oh and lots of ducks that we sort of adopted, named and fed.
Having not actually recovered from my trip back to the UK, I was looking forward to relaxing, fresh air and good food and that is certainly what happened. It was a perfect trip full of happy moments. We swam in the rather rereshing (cold) sea, walked, beach combed, wondered at rock pools, read books and slept in the shade.
We were a good way from anywhere so I had enjoyed the planning to make sure we had enough to eat and tried a couple of receipes from a camping cookbook my mum had sent me.
To make you all feel better, there was rain, wind and mist and a long long uphill walk that made me feel quite unwell, which resulted in us trying to descend in rather terrible weather!
I hope my flickr pictures do this wonderful place some justice and spread some of the joy we've had.

Happy Birthday Sharon

Sharon is one of my Best Friends, we met in May 1992 (oh dear lord) when we both embarked upon our career in nursing and today is her birthday. We instantly clicked, through odd converstations, politcial and ethical debates, drinking and eating, buying the same clothes!

I remember turning up to her door - I was collecting her for something, she opened the door and we both cracked up. we were both standing there in the same blue Fat Face T shirt! Other times we knew we had the same item - the purple jumper we brought in London. We were there as Sharon needed special scans when she was pregnant with Tom (blimey). We phoned each other about the coat in Millets that we knew we would both buy.

My memories and smiles are long but my photo collection limted as I've known her far longer than I've owned a digital camera. I don't even have photos of her wedding! What sort of friend am I. 
I do however remember being delighted, honoured and thrilled when she told me Ben and her were getting married and could I read at the wedding. I remmeber eating strawberries and drinking champagne while getting ready and most of all I remember helping her do up her stockings!

There have been a few trips together, not enough, but memorable, special and perfect. Our room of calm in Edninburgh, Disneyland Paris - is it twice? A happy place that we are both addicted to. The hotels, the characters, the hot chocolate.

I'm not so sure about Sharons's memories of the night Tom was born - but blimey I was exhausted. The swaying on the towel rail, the lack of food and water, the epidural (yes, Sharon not me!). But holding Tom in my arms so soon after he was born still brings smiles and tears of joy to my eyes, to make me such a special part of that show you the depth of our friendship.

There has been many a drunken night, a great boogie and murder mystery party and vomiting in the most peculiar places. 'Is it raining or are you throwing up?' Still has me cracked up. Sharon's ability to convince a taxi driver that I haven't been sick in his car has not diminshed as we've grown older. Though I'm not so sure Ben would clear up after me nowadays.

Christmas parties hold a very special place in our hearts. From the first (drinking red wine from the bottle under the table) to the last (oh dear lord we're organinsing it). There isn't a woman I would rather sit with, dance with, get drunk with and bitch with (all on the same night of course).

In the words of Edward Monkton:

THE FRIENDS can connect in a
mysterious way without even speaking

Perhaps they have AMAZING

Perhaps they are both just

Friendship can only be measured
in memories, laughter, peace and love

Stuart and Linda MacFarlane
Your friendship has been the sunlight
that has transformed my days
Pam Brown

I miss my friend so very very much. I wish we were together and we could have a drink, shop, dance, talk, moan, laugh, whatever really. It's hard to put into words how much a huge part of your life someone is and how stupid I feel for putting so much distance between us. I miss her support for all I do, an interest in whatever idea I come up with. I miss being able to bounce ideas, problems and issues off her. I miss working with her. We will always be best friends and I'm smiling because of all that has happened and that we have shared. I love her emails, letters and those random moments when we catch each other on skype.

Happy Birthday Sharon

Today we went to Rangitoto

Rangitoto Island is a 600 year volcano that is pretty much visible from everywhere in Auckland. It is a stunning iconic image of the city and I love it. This was my third vist, but the first in the sunshine. A 25 minute boat ride in the gulf take you to a small wharf. There are several walking routes, but on a sunny Saturday hords of people took the direct route to the summit. We dawdled on the wharf to let the crowds get going and then started the climb. Having said it was first visit in the sun I now appreaciate the clouds of previous visits. You pretty much walk through the black rocks of the lava fields, reflecting the suns heat and making Rangitoto one of the hotest places in the gulf.

Rangitoto Island is a 2333 hectare pohutukawa cloaked island, roughly circular in shape, with gentle sloping sides, leading to a classic cinder cone.

The climb to the 260m summit takes about an hour, it's a slow plod for me and I arrive out of breath very red faced and as delighted as ever. The views are great, the sun is shinning, it's downhill form here!

We take a different route to my two previous visits, walking to Islington Bay Wharf, we walk a lot quicker that the guide signs suggest, this makes me feel very very good. This route is probably more shaded than the road route via McKenzie Bay, New Zealand sun is strong, very very strong so it was a good move. The walking track is bit tougher and rougher but not terrible, undulating and interesting is how I would put it. All the walking and it never ceases to amaze me that we are walking over a lava field.

There are over 200 different native trees and other flowering plants, 40 native ferns and 20 orchids, mudloving mangroves grow directly on lava. Reading the information panels is great and it amazing to see all the stages of life before you eyes.
We ate a traditional lunch of sandwhich spread sandwhiches in a shady spot by the water and then walk on, arriving back at the wharf in time to read and doze before catching the ferry back.

When the alarm went off at 7am this morning I really didn't want to get up, but I'm so glad we did we were a world away on a volcano.

It is not a disaster....

but it is rather frustrating and curious. I am referring to my two great obsessions at the moment. Gardening and cooking. So the garden......(more about the cooking another time).

The garden in growing wonderfully, in fact looking back at photos of the raised garden bed at the beginning of it's life it really has transformed. However the local cats and I are having a few problems over bounderies. There are several cats in the local vicinity and all take full advantage of the large garden toilet we have. When we started creating the veggie patch they were delighted, so to allow the seeds to actually grow - and not be scattered all over the place we enclosed the bed in netting. Not that attractive but certainly did work. No longer did we have poo deposits in the well dug ground. However now the vegetables have done their thing and grown, I needed better access for the picking and so on, so the netting came off - all was well for a while!
I have been dutifully clearing up the poo for several days, and have tried various methods to deter such antics. Childrens windmills - I now have four and they look great, plus can be easily moved to the spot of requirement. Then I read about trying twine or string with strips of plastic bags tied onto. Oh and of couse have put in the bamboo sticks and sprinkled the curry powder, cayenne pepper, chilli flakes. Need to start drinking coffee at home so I can use the coffee grounds in this mixture.
But all of this is to no avail. And at the death of a beautiful row of radishes just peaking through the earth I have caved in! The radishes were tossed around, covered in earth (along with the lettuce seedling) scattered, and looked very very sad.
So the netting has returned, at least until the latest seeds start to grow. I actually have no idea what will grow as it was part of my frustration at the attacks that I have just thrown in loads of all the seeds I have. Now they have been mixed and scattered by the cats it will be very interesting!

The garden is however still a joy, there have been three broad bean pickings and several of brocoli, plus some caulifower (all rather good with a great pie). I eat at least one strawberry each time I'm in the garden - but here I am fighting the ants and the slugs who seem to be beating me to them. They seem to start to ripen but not quite finish then suddenly are ruined and I did have a moment when I was about to pop a strawberry in my mouth when an ant came out of it!

Leeks are looking good as are the tomotoes. Rhubarb also growing well - not sure when I supposed to pick that though. Raspberry, blueberry, sunfloweres, sweetpeas, lettuce, herbs, cabbage, rocket, peas......I'm quite enjoying this.

Star Wars Day

Star Wars Day, originally uploaded by KTandCoffee.

Annmarie, Duncan and I watching The Empire Strikes Back.

Dunacan and I had started about 10am with episode 1. We had great food all day (porridge, raw veggies with humus, then pizza). The shame was we had to go to the pub for farewell drinks (this was my last full day in the UK) at 8pm, so we only made it halfway through The Empire Strikes back (heh four and half films not bad). The event obviously needs reapeating and successful completion


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