Sign of the times


When I first moved to the farm, 26 years ago, we had only one door key and were never quite sure where it was because we never used it.

We always knew where vehicle keys were, however, because we left them in the ignition.

Times have changed. Vehicles are locked and their keys kept securely and when we’re away the house is locked too and we have a few other secutiry measures in place.

That ought to put our minds at rest but there’s been an increase in burglaries and a couple of instances of arson in the district so while we’re on holiday we’ve got a couple of house-sitters in.

That’s probably being overly cautious but it’s a sad sign of the times that we can no longer trust people as we used to.

Credit card crisis


If there’s a good time to be told your Visa card has been declined, at the airport just before departing overseas isn’t it.

But full marks to the lovely people at the National Bank and Visa who sorted it for me in about 30 minutes.

I phoned our banker who did some investigation then contacted the Visa people, one of whom phoned me straight back.

She explained that a transaction in Spain at midnight yesterday had triggered a fraud alert so they’d frozen the card until they’d checked that it was legitimate.

I knew what the transaction was, the woman cleared the block, took the details of our itinerary so they know what to expect and gave me a phone number to call from anywhere in the world if I have another problem.

I’m very impressed by their security consciousness. Better a minor hiccup than a raid on a credit card.

And while a problem with a credit card isn’t welcome, it’s not as bad as losing your passport.

Intermittent transmission


My farmer and I are away for a sunshine fix which may result in posts at odd times and a reduction in posting.

It was trying to snow at home yesterday.

We’re expecting it to be a little warmer where we’re going:  a night in Singapore, two in Barcelona then back to Vejer de la Frontera where we spent three months in 2005 before meeting friends for a walking tour which starts in Milan and finishes in Verona.

Tuesday’s answers


Monday’s questions were:

1. What is the morse code  for SOS?

2. What the the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell named?

3. Who said: “In my view the welfare state was not conceived for the middle class and yet it is increasingly captured by them.”?

4. Who wrote See Ya Simon?

5.  Where is this World Heritage site, which is , from memory but open to correction,  the southernmost  northern most date palm grove in the World?


At time of writing (9am) no-one has got all five answers but that’s because 3 was hard and I got my directions mixed up with 5 – it’s northern most not southern.

I offer an electronic posey to all who tried by way of apology.

Tuesday’s answers follow the break:

Read the rest of this entry »

Mea culpa


Confession time – I got my geography mixed up with yesterday’s quiz.

Question 5 should have said the northern most not southern most date palms in the world.

Further posts postponed while I write out 100 times: I must be more careful with details, I must be more careful . . .

Home ownership leads to industrial harmony


Dad used to strike all the time when I was a kid. But when Maggie Thatcher let us buy a house Mum wouldn’t let him strike anymore because she didn’t want to fall behind with the mortgage.

This was a young English woman’s story.

There are many other benefits of home ownership which is why only those ideologically opposed to independence seem to have any problems with the government’s plan to allow state house tenants to buy their own homes.

If the English experience is any guide, improved  industrial harmony may be an unexpected, and very positive, consequence of the policy too.

P.S. Kiwiblog has a round up of editorials on the issue.

June 30 in history


On June 30:

1859 French acrobat Charles Blondin crossed Niagra Falls on a tightrope.

  Blondin carrying his manager, Harry Colcord, on a tightrope

1934  Adolf Hitler’s violent purge, the Night of the Long Knives, took place.

1939 The first edition of the New Zealand Listener was published.

1980 Vigdís Finnbogadóttir was elected the first woman president of Iceland.

Vigdís Finnbogadóttir 1

Did you see the one about . . .


Wave goodbye to email? at Open Parachute

Useful English System conversions/units at Something Should Go Here

Stranger in the House at In A Strange Land

 The Wesleys 10 at Musty Moments

Free Market Families at Fairfacts Media

The Stratford Theory of Numbers at Quote Unquote

The whole where you were and what you were doing when you first heard. . . etc etc at Rob’s Blockhead.

And a new (to me) blog from the Wairarapa : Bright Wings

Bad law wastes money


Carrying out surveys when the result is obvious might be said to waste money.

Certainly there was no surprise that most New Zealanders think the upcoming referendum on child discipline is a waste of money.

But let’s apportion blame where it belongs.

The referendum would have cost a lot less had it been held in conjunction with last year’s general election. The blame for delaying it and therefore increasing the costs of holding it belong to the last government.

But the blame goes further back than that to the people who designed the legislation.

Had they come up with good law and taken the majority of people with them there would have been no need for a referendum.

The people at either extremes of the argument are getting most of the headlines.

But between those who think any physical discipline is child abuse and those who think it’s possible to deliver a loving smack are a lot of reasonable people with moderate views. They don’t think smacking is a good way to discipline children but they don’t like the idea of parents being criminalised for delivering a light smack.

Had the proponents of the S59 amendment got off their high horses they could have worked with moderate people to get good legislation.  Had they done that we’d have got a law which protects children without the danger, real or perceived, of criminalising parents who love their children and do their best to bring them up safely and well,  and there would be no need for a referendum.

There might also have been the culture change that’s needed to address violence and abuse.

Instead there’s confusion, fear and resentment and no improvement at all where it’s really needed.

Money may be wasted on the referendum but that’s not the fault of the people who want good law.

It’s the fault of the people who made bad law, which for the record still allows smacking providing it’s not for the purpose of correction.

Monday’s quiz – corrected


1. What is the morse code  for SOS?

2. What was the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell named?

3. Who said: “In my view the welfare state was not conceived for the middle class and yet it is increasingly captured by them.”?

4. Who wrote See Ya Simon?

5. Where is this World Heritage site, which is , from memory but open to correction,  the southernmost northern most date palm grove in the World?


Line of the week


Okay, it’s only Monday but this one will be hard to beat:

It’s a nice place to visit but you wouldn’t want to lie there.

It comes from a Southland Times editorial on Mathieu Bastareaud’s attempt to blame his clash with a bedside table on a mugging. You can read the rest of it here.

You get what you pay for


Most people wouldn’t expect five star service from a budget hotel.

Are passengers expecting too much from a budget airline?

A Christchurch woman claims she was fired after delays on Jetstar  made her late for work three weeks in a row. Was that the airline’s fault or hers?

Travellers’ tales from people using budget airlines in Europe have led me to believe you get what you pay for. If it doesn’t matter too much when you take off and arrive, then it’s fine to fly on a budget.

But if you want to be pretty sure you’ll get where you want to go, more or less on schedule then paying a little more is worth it.

Jetstar hasn’t had a good start and appears to have been partly at fault. But passengers have to accept that if they’re paying for budget service that’s what they’ll get.

June 29 in history


On June 29:

1880 France annexed Tahiti.

1974 Isobel Martinez de Peron was sworn in as the first woman President of Argentina.

Isabel Martínez de Perón

1990 Dr Penny Jamieson was appointed Bishop of Dunedin, the first woman to hold that position in the world.

Roarprawn returns


Busted Blonde is back on duty at Roarprawn.

It will be good to have her back in the blogosphere.

Skye Boat Song – John Longmuir


The story of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s  escape to Skye in a rowing boat, aided by Flora MacDonald and disguised as her maid is accepted as true but when did it happen?

The Skye Boat Song was introduced on National Radio last night with mention of yesterday as the anniversary of that mad dash across the sea. However, searches by Google and Bing give June 28 and July 10 as the date.

Whichever it is, it’s a good excuse to listen to a lovely song, sung here by Edinburgh-born tenor John Longmuir.

Top 10 summer songs


What are your summer songs?

The question was put to me at langauge school in Spain  where they have a song which becomes the summer song each year.

I struggled to answer, probably because those songs about summer which become popular are written for the northern hemisphere when it’s winter here.  They are the ones which featured in the top 10 from an on-line poll which sought the sunniest hits of all time:

1. ‘Summer In The City’ – The Lovin’ Spoonful
  2. ‘California Girls’ – Beach Boys
  3. ‘School’s Out’ – Alice Cooper
  4. ‘Heat Wave’ – Martha & The Vandellas
  5. ‘Under The Boardwalk’ – The Drifters
  6. ‘Light My Fire’ – The Doors
  7. ‘Dancing In The Street’ – Martha & The Vandellas
  8. ‘Borderline’ – Madonna
  9. ‘Hot Fun In The Summertime’ – Sly & The Family Stone
  10.'(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ – Rolling Stones

None of those speak of New Zealand summers, mixed in with Christmas and New Year, to me.

Maybe it’s a reflection on the huge gaps in my knowledge of New Zealand music but I couldn’t even think of one which I associated with summer in particular.

But surely someone has written of long hot days at the beach, lake or river, barbeques, tramping, hay making and the other sounds, scents, scenes and sensations of a southern hemisphere summer. If not here, there must be some from over the Tasman.

Jetstar or jetstop? – updated


It hasn’t been a good start for Jetstar.

Irate would-be passengers who weren’t on flights.

Irate passengers who got on flights which took off late.

Then there was the flight the Prime Minister had booked.

I was at a meeting of National Party electorate and regional chairs in Wellington yesterday and John Key had been going to pop in on his way back from opening the Queenstown Winter Festival.

But he was travelling Jetstar.

I’m not sure what happened with the flight but it resulted in him not being able to make it to the meeting.

UPDATE: The Herald reports fog was part of the problem.

My Music maestro Steve Race has died


The radio played a big role in my childhood in the 60s, when television was new and not in many homes.

We listened to a lot of British programmes, among which was My Music,  with quiz master Steve Race and panelists Denis Nordon, Frank Muir, John AMis and Ian Wallace.

Race, who featured in all the more than 520 programmes which were broadcast, died on Tuesday.

The Telegraph’s obituary is here.


June 28 in history


On June 28:

1869 Emma Goldman US anarchist and feminist was born.

1967 the world’s first electronic ATM was installed – in Enfield, England.

1984 Canadian Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau won the Albert Einstein Peace Prize.

Pierre Trudeau

Banana Cake


Banana Cake

 125 g butter                     1 Cup sugar

2 large eggs                      4 mashed bananas *

2 cups flour                       1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

 Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

 Add eggs and mashed bananas & beat well. (don’t worry if mixture curdles).

 Fold in sifted flour, baking powder and baking soda.

 Cook in 20cm greased tin 130 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes.

 When cool ice with chocolate icing.

* older, over ripe bananas are best. They can be frozen until you need them.

snowish 002

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