Retro Charm

This tiny bookshop is mimicking a large custard square and parked at the Arts Centre. The books are interesting and familiar titles. The shelves outside have Christmas-themed books suitable for gifts. They are protected from the sun by a similarly retro sun-umbrella, complete with fringe.

The Custard Square Bookshop

The following day, while walking home through my local park, I stopped to take a photo of the new playground. While it is new, it has been designed with a retro look to fit with the traditional style of the park which features a cast-iron bollard-and-chain fence and a parterre-style rose-garden – and these lovely spreading trees for shade.

Abberley Park

Fun Finish

There was lots of laughter as the costumes of each department were revealed on the last day. There were hippies, Mexicans (one genuine), a sports team featuring the periodic table (guess which department that was!), cats, Little Misses, Where’s Wallies, and “We love Annies” – a surprise from my department who told me to just dress as I liked.

I took one last photo of my laptop and keys before turning them in.

My plan book and red pen were significant objects in my photo!

With farewell speech and final prize giving over, it was lovely to relax and have fun on this last day. There were carols and dances, games, food and drink at a gorgeous vineyard.

Carol singers warming up

What an amazing, creative bunch of people to have fun with.

A well-rehearsed routine – a tribute to our dance teacher who is returning to Canada

Then there was the fun of Secret Santa gifts.

Captain of the Good Ship English Dept

My Secret Santa revealed her identity to me (after a few wines). She put heaps of effort into this and gave me yet another happy-sad moment!

It was doubly special because she is a former student!

A fabulous finish.

Photo-bombed by Wally!

Making room

In October 2016, the front of my classroom looked like this:

Today, in November 2019, nearly all cleared out before I retire (17 school days to go), this is how it looks:

Places have been found for my resources – often the recycling bin – but others have been saved, at least for now. Some books have been shelved with our teacher resources, others have been brought home as references for my continued learning. Resources I have created which remain current have been filed digitally on our shared drive or in hard copies.

The time is right to make room for the next teacher. Both of us will be making a fresh start.

The view from my home office window

Bits and pieces

There is something appealing about a jar full of bits and pieces. This one sits on the garage window sill. When I find something small and interesting, it goes in the jar for the day when it might be useful for something or other. The lightbulb serves as a lid.

Also on the garage window sill are these three pieces of crockery found in the garden. There’s a sailor wearing a three-cornered hat, playing the hornpipe, a woman outside a cottage, and a pennant design. Does anyone know anything about this porcelain?

Old secateurs make a crooked line-up. Hanging to the side of the door below the weed hooks, those iron claws are an old pair of crampons from Emei Shan, China, on which my companions and I slid on ice as we attempted to climb the mountain (unsuccessfully – the crampons wouldn’t stay on). The mosaic below is made of bits and pieces of tile.

House maintenance tools make another bits-and-pieces corner (pun intended). The red pole used to be a roller towel holder. It now supports the corner of the shelf above.

Then there’s the museum of Dad’s old tools on a peg board – alongside the anachronistic swing ball bats which have been idle since the pole broke.

From my childhood, there’s a wooden-framed tennis racket in a press. I remember putting protective tape along the top edge. Below it is my old canvas and leather external-frame tramping pack. I’ve walked many tracks with it, from Stewart Island to Abel Tasman National Park. The damp-damaged block-mounted prints have been kept simply because they are more interesting than the blank, unpainted garage wallboard!

There are people who make works of art out of bits and pieces. In November 2000, I bought this sculpture called Orville’s Dream. Can you identify the bits and pieces?

Orville’s Dream by Neil Ensor
Metal Assemblages from Found Material

Plus one!

The reason I went around the garden looking for flowers to photograph for my previous post, was this:


In April, my sister and my nephew helped me to dig up some lawn and extend the vegetable patch. I planted a lime tree and sweetpeas, and curly kale, rainbow chard and cauliflower. This is the first cauliflower in the new patch. I’ve been inspecting the plants regularly – while I hang washing out – and there it was, suddenly, already rather large. Magic!

More than just a few signs of Spring

Some interesting flowers are appearing in the garden. The bay, which grows in a large pot, has these lovely flowers.

Bay tree

The rhubarb is flowering. These would usually be cut straight away, but there’s little threat to the prolific production of edible stalks which have continued throughout the winter.


The cabbage tree – ti kouka – is producing flower stems.

Ti kouka – dancing leaves

Below this, the broad beans are flowering.

Broad beans

The curly kale, which has provided greens for salads all winter, is producing flowers – aka going to seed – aka bolting.

Curly kale

The salad greens are bolting – and birds are enjoying digging in the soil around them. Behind this, you can see borage and forget-me-nots in flower.

salad greens

Bees are busy in the rosemary.


Birds are loving the kowhai.


The cherry blossom too, looks wonderful against the sky.

Cherry blossom

Apple blossom is appearing.

Apple blossom – Sturmer

The blueberry is covered in flowers.


And, hiding under the leaves, the first strawberry flowers.


The garden is full of flowers and that fresh, lush green which only Spring can produce, even as the weather fluctuates from hot days to biting winds.

Inexcusable Ignorance

Why don’t we know much about the living things which are all around us? You would think we have had plenty of time to find out.

Now that we are losing so many to extinction, it seems inexcusable that we don’t know how they live. It doesn’t suggest anything good about us that we don’t know, don’t care, don’t want to know. We might watch nature programmes with interest, but often they are about exotic animals in exotic locations, not those which are here with us every day – in decreasing numbers.

These marvellous, tiny fungi appear now and again beside the path. Why? and what are they?

I’ve just finished reading How to Catch a Mole: and find yourself in nature by Marc Hamer. He has learnt as much as he can about moles so that his respect for them, and all the other birds and animals he encounters, has grown. It reminded me that every time I find an insect or observe a bird I wonder how they live. What had happened to the tiny fish washed up on the beach today? What is the word for a baby fish? Where do birds roost at night? Why are they gathered in that particular tree down the road at dusk and not in others? Do I need to put out a bird feeder in winter, or are the birds able to find what they need in the trees and in the empty over-grown section next door? Even the term “over-grown” gives us away; nature should be tamed!

I don’t mind if the birds eat a few strawberries. What insect has been eating the leaves?

There are fewer insects than I remember in the past. I’m relieved if even a solitary moth bounces off the window at night. I found a bright green cricket (or was it a praying mantis without its large pincers? or a grass hopper?) high up on a late-flowering rose I was pruning. I put it carefully on the trunk of the rose, but it was probably too exposed there to survive. How do we know when our good intentions are completely wrong?

I enjoy the little native spiders which live on the window sills. I’m trying not to reel back in horror if ants arrive in the house – but the ant bait is still there. Apparently, a wipe-over with a vinegar cloth will disrupt their pheromone trails and encourage them to stay outside (something I learnt from a Year 9 student who had studied them – is there hope, then, in his generation?).

The representation of the ant on the box is designed to make us feel repulsed and justified in killing.

I don’t use sprays in the garden, believing – or hoping – that everything finds its own balance and who am I to interfere? However, white-tail spiders bring out possibly irrational disgust and are dispatched quickly (with a shoe). Daddy longlegs spiders (pholcus phalangioides, according to City Nature by Bob Brockie) in the corners of the ceiling get vacuumed up from time to time. Will I learn to leave them alone? They don’t seem to do any harm. Cob webs are swept down. Borer beetles give themselves away by the dust piles they leave. I inject the holes and fill them.

What was supposed to be a brief post is becoming more complicated as I uncover my own guilt in the demise of living things.

I’ve heard that the proclaimed “dominion” over all living things (ironically, when the first people were expelled from Paradise) is a mis-translation. It should be “guardianship” or care for all living things, like the Maori concept of kaitiakitanga.

An attempt to educate visitors about the fruit of the kahikatea tree at a local remnant of native bush. It is called “king” of trees – more irony: a term encouraging us to have respect by relating this natural beauty to human hierarchy.

One has to wonder if the mis-translation was deliberate; that we are hard-wired to put ourselves first at the expense of all else.