The Garden in Autumn


We were still enjoying summer yesterday but the temperature dropped over night reminding us the season has changed and prompting this choice for today’s tribute to poetry month.

The Garden in Autumn  by Elizabeth Smither comes from The Earth’s Deep Breathing, garden poems by New Zealand poets  edited by Harvey McQueen and published by Godwit.

The Garden in Autumn


Summer comes to abandonment.

Winter to total abandonment.

Spring to total lack of control.


But autumn shows the way to go

like an old-fashioned usherette

in an old-fashioned cinema


when a torch was required

and a gentle, ‘Follow me, ;lease’

and the light directed back


at your feet while hers remained

in the darkness as she stepped

unfalteringly down the slope


until it shone on the row

‘Two in the middle’ or ‘Two from the end’

and the torchlight turned and went


bobbing again up the slope

with more grace than many films.

So autumn shows us how


to go about gardening. It clears

a path for the virtuous

to follow and pull a weed.


– Elizabeth Smither –

Chocolate factory’s secret labs to be open for charity


If you fancy yourself as a chocolate inventor you have a chance to test your ideas at Cadburys’ Dunedin factory.

The company is opening the doors to its Chocolate Sensory Development Lab for the first, and only, time.

The tours will take place on May 7 and tickets are for sale on Trademe with an opening bid of $40 for two.

Chocolate lovers can be the first members of the public to see behind the scenes at the Cadbury factory. This magical event will kick off with a tour through the Cadbury World visitors centre, followed by a never-before-seen tour of the Sensory Lab and Chocolate Development Lab – a mini version of the Cadbury factory where you will get to don your own lab coat and create your very own Cadbury chocolate to share with family and friends, finishing with a visit to the amazing Chocolate Waterfall.

All proceeds go to Cure Kids.

The ODT  says this will be a unique opportunity to visit the company’s inner sanctum.
Staff came up with the idea of the special tour as part of the work they do with Cure Kids, an organisation established to seek an increase in the amount of research into life-threatening childhood illnesses, events co-ordinator Lee-Anne Anderson said.

“This is a one-off.  It’s not something we will do again.”

 That sounds like a sweet opporunity for chocoholics – a chance to play with chocolate while keeping your conscience clear because it’s all for a very good cause.

Top 10 quintessential Kiwi foods


Adam Smith started it at Inquiring Mind with

1  Bluff Oysters in batter

2 Pavlova

3 Meat Pie

4 ANZAC Biscuits

5 Colonial Goose

6 Mince on toast

7 Whitebait fritters

8 Crayfish

9 Blue cod & chips

10 Whitestone cheese

Adolf carried it on at No Minister with:

1. Roast lamb (Merino/South Suffolk cross – killed at 14 months) and mint sauce, accompanied by steamed new potaoes, fresh green peas and sweet corn on the cob, all with lashings of butter.

2. Carefully prepared Maori hangi – pork, mutton, potato, kumara, beet root, puha.

3. Steamed pipi, cockles and kutai (mussels) with lots of fresh bread and butter.

4. Steamed Tarakihi or Hapuka with mashed potato and kumara (combined) and plenty of fresh greens. Plenty of salt and cracked black pepper along with lemon juice over the fish.

5. An eighteen inch long slab of sirloin steak, turned on the char grill for forty minutes while continually basted in a brew compising red wine, worchester sauce, tomato sauce, hot chilli sauce, garlic, soy sauce, balsamic viegar and any thing else which gets in the road. Black on the outside, nipple pink in the middle. Char grilled vegies on the side.

6. Steam pudding with custard sauce.

7. Roast chicken with roast vegies and silver beet. Lotsa gravy.

8. Bacon and eggs with baked beans and tomato.

9. TipTop Icecream

10. KFC for South Aucklanders.

And my list, based on the food I miss most when out of the country, in no particular order is:

1. Vogels bread, toasted with cottage cheese and kiwi fruit or vegemite, cottage cheese and tomato.

2. Hokey pokey ice cream.

3. Pavlova topped with cream and kiwifruit.

4. Lamb backstraps, topped with grainy mustard and soy sauce, grilled until still pink, served with broccoli, carrots, roasted red onion and kumera.

5. Blue cod from Fleurs Place.

6. Waitaki Valley strawberries.

7. Central Otago apricots and peaches.

8. Totara Lowlands cherries.

9. Milkshakes

10. Fresh asaparagus with Whitestone Windsor Blue cheese.

And an extra one: my favourite childhood dinner (which I probably haven’t had for more than 30 years): Roast mutton with roast potatoes, mint sauce, gravy and mashed swedes.

Another lovely day


The phrase another lovely day accompanied by a forecast for continued fine weather sets farmers’ teeth on edge when they’re in depserate need of rain.

North Otago isn’t desperately dry, but we have been in need of a good shower so waking to the sound of rain on the roof, and still hearing it falling steadily now, makes this a really lovely day.

If only we could send some north to Hawkes Bay and Gisborne which are both battling drought and desperately need the sort of lovely day we’re enjoying.

Tourism future in farming past


Among the news of disease and disaster today’s ODT carries the story of a man who sees an opportunity for tourism in farming history.

Motueka farmer Lester Rowntree has been planning The New Zealand Heritage Farm Show for about 15 years and hopes to have it open for business in Cromwell next year.

He’s planning a museum of farm machinery but also aims to give visitors a taste of living history with bullock teams, blade shearing, chaff cutting, horse and wagon teams, milking and butter making.

It sounds like a good idea to me and will compliment Totara Estate, the home of New Zealand’s frozen meat industry. There visitors get a taste of farming history, including a recreation of the original killing shed – complete with sound track but, I’m relieved to say, without anything gory which might turn tourists into vegetarians.

Made from NZ and imported ingredients


Supermarket brands are usually cheaper than other branded products although sometimes they’re of equal quality and may even be the same thing in a different package.

But they’re not always as good and variable quality is one of the reasons I treat them with caution.

Another things which makes me cautious the difficulty in working out where they come from because they usually say packaged for, produced for or marketed by  X but don’t say where they or their ingredients come from.

Although, sometimes if they have other information it’s not much help anyway.

Such was the case with a block of Pams’ cheese I looked at yesterday which was made from New Zealand and imported ingredients.

If I support free access for our products in overseas markets I can’t complain about other countries sending their produce here.

But there aren’t many ingredients in a block of edam cheese – milk, salt, cultures and rennet – and I’d like to know which of those were imported and where they came from.

Labour’s by-election strategy leaked


1. Believe everything you read.

2. Waste money polling instead of trusting your own people in the electorate.

3. Panic.

4. Kneecap your best hope of winning the seat.

5. Blame bloggers.

6. Search the seven seas and hundreds of countries for candidates.

7. Launch campaign.

8. Have a tantrum.

9. Panic some more.

10. Choose a candidate.

Don’t say **** it’s a **** of a word


May disease fasten upon your limbs and goblins squeeze your entrails isn’t bad as a curse goes.

It’s likely to cause as much amusement as offence, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not quite as to the point as get um, well . . .

Get what? Oh dear,gollly gosh, now I’ve created a dilemma for myself because I think it’s silly to put the first letter and some asterisks but I can’t quite bring myself to type a profanity.

It’s not that I haven’t used it, in fact my favourite expression for someone lacking in intelligence is a seven letter word which starts with those four letters.

I’m not particularly proud of that because both my Presbyterian upbringing and study of literature convince me it’s both wrong and unnecessary. So I try very hard not to use it because with a language as rich as English at my disposal and an intermediate grasp of Spanish, I know I ought to be able to come up with something equally expressive and less offensive.

This preference for more genteel expressions might have something to do with my southern conservatism if the views of Auckland law professor Warren Brookbanks are correct. When asked about stats which show prosecutions for profanity are rising in the south he said:

“I can’t believe it’s because there are more foul-mouthed people in the South Island,” Prof Brookbanks said on Monday.

It’s more likely that the people in the north are more liberal and less offended by that sort of language.

“While in the south, people take offence at rude things people say more readily.”

In spite of that sometimes words do slip out which had I uttered them as a child would have resulted in my mouth being washed out with soap and water.

It’s not polite, it’s not clever, and in some circumstances it’s not even legal,  but there’s something about that arrangement of hard consonants and short vowels which conveys disdain, disgust and derision in a way that alternative words and phrases don’t.

But on those occasions that my self control slips and the word I shouldn’t utter comes out, I’m reminded of a flatmate who responded to someone shouting that at him with, “don’t say **** it’s a **** of a word.

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