Day Two, no baking but a family story finally told

last coffee shot edited

Turns out, it was a two-coffee story. Image: Su Leslie

For anyone who didn’t know, I originally started blogging to document the family history research I’d begun in 2011. That blog, Shaking the Tree, has been much neglected of late.

In part that’s due to the general bustle of life, but also because every research avenue I’d optimistically entered had turned into a cul de sac. Recently however I’ve had a couple of breakthroughs. And with my enforced Covid 19 confinement to barracks, today seemed like the right time to set out some hypotheses I’ve developed regarding a 3x great grandfather, Thomas Boswell Bisset.

I won’t try and tell the story here, but if you are interested, part one can be found in A tangled web, while today’s tentative conclusions are in Tall tale? Or true.

And a little woo hoo in praise of bloggers. Looking for an image to accompany today’s post, I found Something Over Tea. For completely unrelated reasons, Anne had visited the site where the man who probably wasn’t my 4x great grandfather had died during Britain’s 19th century wars in South Africa. She took photos of the memorials erected there, including one specifically dedicated to my possible ancestor.

fort hare gordon memorial

Memorial to John Gordon (1808-1850). Many thanks to Anne at Something Over Tea, who took this photo and included it in her post The University of Fort Hare.’

How flipping cool is that!

Sharing the delicious

Organic heirloom tomatoes, grown by a friend. The last we’ll see for a little while. Image: Su Leslie 2020

Day 1 (of the Aotearoa New Zealand Covid 19 lockdown)

I’ve baked bread, made herb salt (photos to come), watched seeds grow (truly — spinach germinates really quickly), and contemplated a bowl of tomatoes. Organically- grown heirloom varieties, they are the most delicious tomatoes I’ve ever tasted.

A simple salad; rocket, cucumber, red onion and a perfect tomato with homemade sourdough focaccia. Image: Su Leslie 2020

I’ve been quite happy to potter round home today; I have plenty to do, enough food and I am well. But however agreeable my “bubble”, I can’t ignore the fact that isolation for so many people isn’t an easy and comfortable experience.

I’m aware of small things I can do now, but the real work will come later when we have the chance to re-imagine as well as rebuild our businesses and communities, and indeed our society.

Because everyone deserves a bowl of the most delicious tomatoes they’ve ever tasted.

On small things, big things and taking pleasure in the natural world


On the forest floor. Image: Su Leslie 2017

On Wednesday afternoon, Aotearoa New Zealand will go into Covid 19 lock-down for four weeks.

It’s been looming for days; even as outwardly life has gone on “as normal”. Except in the supermarkets where it’s felt like Christmas Eve, albeit a Christmas where apparently toilet paper is No. 1 on everyone’s Santa list.

Part of me is relieved that the waiting is over. But even as I say that, I also feel anxiety bubbling up. Not for the Big T and myself particularly, but for other family members less well-resourced, and who are now “out of bounds” to us.

The last few days I haven’t felt much like taking photos, and if I’m largely confined to my home, I suspect I’ll run out of subject matter fairly soon.

But I do want to carry on blogging; to stay in touch with this community and because we’re all living through incredibly weird times and I think we need to document that.

The image above is one of the first I took with a macro lens. With hindsight, it’s not a particularly good photo, especially as I now know just how much detail I can capture with that lens.

But in the same way as it is a symbol of my photographic innocence, it also belongs to a more innocent time. The shot was taken in the Waitakere Ranges Park, Auckland. Since then, all of the forested area of the park has been closed to prevent the spread of Kauri dieback — a fungal disease that destroys one of New Zealand’s largest-growing, longest-living and most awesomely beautiful tree species — the Kauri (Agathis australis). The fungus is spread mainly humans and our pets. Virtually every forest area containing kauri trees is either closed to visitors or has a disinfecting station at the entrance.

Ironically, keeping humans contained may give kauri trees their best shot at survival (though four weeks won’t be long enough).

I’m always drawn to small plants and new growth. They make me hopeful, and I think we all need to focus on whatever give us hope.

Macro Monday