Cherry on top

All this walking malarky needs fuelling. Well I'm not doing that much walking but cookies are always good. Especially these. On Adam's list of favourite cookies and a happy cookie for me. They bring back all this great childhood memories of good times spent at the bakery at Denton, and all the good times that have followed, thank you Julie. They are super easy to make, though to be honest while making these and watching the kitchen aid mixer doing the hard work I must confess you'd never get me making these, or a cake for that matter, by hand again. I don't feel too bad confessing this as I recently read pretty much that same line in a Nigel Slater book recently. I still get the recipe out and he we have more memories cos I never had the recipe so I had to ring my mum to get it, so it's a hand written, passed on kind of recipe. They are also the kind of baking that it's impossible not to lick your fingers while making them. This is a rule of my baking as I firmly believe you have to test the raw mixture to know that the finished item will be any good. To illustrate this point I once made muffins and forgot to put the sugar in - saved by testing the raw mixture, kind of they wee in the cases at this point and I hadn't been licking my fingers as they were a batch for work (hygiene first when baking for work, I don't want staff off sick now). S the birds enjoyed the sugar free ones and I made a new batch for work. I rest my case, the raw mixture needs testing.
My loving hand written while on the phone to my mum recipe lists half a glacé cherry on top. So that's what I've always done. You can buy half cherries, but I have two bags of cherries that I had in the cupboard for a biscotti recipe that I never got to over Christmas. I have many a time stood cutting glacé cherries in half for these cookies - I do so like to follow instructions, but today my years of wisdom took over. Do I have a glacé cherry shortage? No. So the whole cherry went on top.

The mixer doing the hard work

The flour goes in

Roll in oats!

Ready for the oven
(the wonder of silicone baking sheets is fairly new to me, why like the whole cherry did I not realise their value)

The production line if you like

A snack while I blog

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Walk 6 - Wanaka

Away again and a bit of walking. Two weeks in the South Island, heaven indeed. We started with a few days in a hired little camper van thingy. Headed back to one of the best campsites we know. We decided we'd walk to Wanaka, there was a path, it was by the lake. It was two hours of loveliness, which ends in Wanaka ready for second breakfast. A bizarre air show watsit - Adam has amazing photos - then the walk back which didn't take as long for some reason. A warm day that called for a swim in the lake when we got back to the campsite. You can tell this is going to be a tragic holiday. Boy are we fortunate and blessed folks. Then it was lunch time.

The photo ops may explain why it took us 2 hours one way and not so long on the return

This is just as you are leaving the campsite

Looking so happy as we were getting very close to Wanaka and that second breakfast

Dear Emma

I have finally read a book you sent me a fair while ago. Now you've sent me few books but this one I'm talking about is 'the summer without men'.
I read this over the summer. Like finding the right Agatha Christie book to take on whatever holiday your going on (this by the way is harder ot do when you live in NZ) I thought it was important I read the book in the summer. Maryann in Autumn is on the shelf just waiting a little longer. I digress.
When you sent this to me you wanted to know what I thought. Given the time that has passed since you sent it to me these thoughts may be irrelevant or you may have just been being polite or you may have forgotten all of this took place. In my mind you also suggested that what share a book review blog, this may be a figment of my imagination or a drunken moment on both our parts, either way I'm game.
You see I read, skim read at best, use it as a distraction, and escape and while that has some value I think the books deserve more than that. I should think a little. My critical analysis skills are diminishing fast and I know i should hang on to them a little longer. The last book you recommended - 'the end of your life book club' made me want to read more, but also think about what I'm reading. So to commit to writing actual thoughts about a book is a bit scary and a challenge, but also a treat the Internet can bring us, if you did fancy the idea.
My book club (the very casual up for the 'which book club talks the least about the book it's reading' award) also loved 'the end of your life book club' didn't make any of us feel stupid and made us all want to read more.
I took said book to Sydney on our little jaunt there last month. Couldn't put the book down and while enjoying the rather marvellous public transport system Sydney had on offer to us I would read. So on the bus to Bondi beach (as you do) I was reading away and a comment about moving to New Zealand to while away the time was made. This was in Alan Bennett's 'the uncommon reader' well that made me smile. So in Bondi, the home of the fabulous Alice and Gertrude bookshops that I shared with you, there on the shelf winking at me was a lovely little second hand copy of 'the uncommon reader' sorted then. Adam was perusing the shelves and took to 'three men in a boat'. Well of course what is one of the next books mentioned while reading 'the end of your life book club' on the return journey. Indeed. Made me smile.
Adam absolutely loved 'three men in a boat' and is now reading 'three men on the Bummel'. Loves the language in the historical sense. These were written before we could fly. Mind you they are both lovely old copies and he sniffs the pages.
So after enough waffle, what did I think of 'the summer without men'. It took a while but eventually it felt like she as having a conversation with me to the side of her life. At the beginning it was her having the conversation with herself, rambling a and thoughts, I related to that idea a lot, of me of numerous journals and notebooks.
A book for women for sure. What topic isn't covered. The ages of women I particularly liked, though it made old age a little worrying, particularly if you can't quilt/sew. The older ladies were the best characters and I was down to them a lot, but I guess so was the voice of the book. Then add to that the infidelity, violence, teenage angst, mother/daughter relationships, mental illness.
While into the story I found it hard to switch to reading poetry. I enjoy poetry but reading it requires me to make an effort and take time. I think because you do have to read it properly, not skim read like I do. I'll never be proof reader or an editor for sure. When reading poetry I read it several times over and usually aloud, so a complete change. Doing that in the middle of the book was hard, that's all.
Overall I though it was open and honest, particularly of her 'episode' I found that it gave hope. Made me question, how would I cope, what would happen to me. But still with hope.
I thought the way she dealt with the teenagers picking on the one girl was quite fascinating, I would never have thought of or done that. I deal with some fairly interesting characters at work and I always try to look at situations from several points of view, but the idea of writing down a story from the other perspective. Brilliant. How to get others to do the same, that's my challenge.
So thank you my dear for the book. I still have the latest one you sent still to read. I'm reading Mr Penumbra's 24-hour book shop at the moment, with bits of 'moranthology' in between times. Book club challenge is a Jack Reacher book. Some fans in the book club, (not fans of the Tom Cruise choice) were in disbelief that we hadn't read any. Heather and I being Clive Cussler fans made them all read one so its turn about I guess. It's a pick anyone you can get your hands on type of read.

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Walk 5 - Waiheke Island

In our 2013 spirit of doing more, we haven't stopped and caught the five o'clock ferry out of Auckland to Waiheke Island. We came to catch the last weekend of the sculpture trail and hence our walk. We camped, we walked, we took a fair few photos. We lost the photos.

You'll have to trust me. It was a warm, sunny day. We had lazed around a bit, then strolled the shops before heading to the marque set up and the start of the sculpture trail. You catch a bus to the top of the trail and work you way down, past all the treasures. It was fairly busy but quite entertaining. We got on the cat walk and became part of the show, but still no photos - all gone.
It was a slow walk, with lots of photo stops.  You can read all about it here on the website, it was well worth the visit and the walk, but you are spared my photos and my random thoughts about the sculptures.

The weekend also included swimming and wine, topped by a spectacular lunch at Cable Bay, so a perfect Waiheke weekend. It was also the first time in two years we'd been in our lovely tent. Still not too old for camping, it was fabulous.


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