A single flower

frosted flowers greenhithe may 20192

Image: Su Leslie 2019

This week I have definitely spent more time baking than taking photographs, and I did toy with the idea of slightly altering this post to Friday Flours; wholemeal, white baker’s, spelt, rye, buckwheat — perhaps rice and coconut flours?

But I’ll spare you my attempt at humour and instead offer some images from the archive. Since this week’s Lens-Artists Challenge is to show one single flower — that’s what I’ve done. Or at least a bunch of shots of solitary flowers.



Acknowledgement at last

elizabeth yates mural1016

Recently completed street art commemorating Elizabeth Yates (1945-1918), the first female mayor elected in any country of the (then) British Empire. Located in Onehunga, Auckland, NZ. Image: Su Leslie 2019

When New Zealanders speak proudly of being the first country in the world in which women were able to vote (in 1893), we tend to think in terms of national politics — electing the Members of Parliament who (supposedly) represent us.

But in reality, women had been able to vote in local council elections since 1876 — as long as they owned property and were thus ratepayers. This requirement definitely excluded most women, just not solely on the basis of gender.

And while — until a law change in 1919 — MPs could only be men; there was no such barrier to women candidates at the local level.

And so, one day after the historic general election of 28 November 1893, voters in the Auckland borough of Onehunga elected Elizabeth Yates as their mayor– making her not only the first woman mayor in New Zealand, but in the whole British Empire.

Elizabeth Yates was the wife of Onehunga’s incumbent mayor, Captain Michael Yates, and widely regarded as the power behind that throne. Michael retired from the mayoralty due to ill-health, and apparently wasn’t keen on Elizabeth standing for election to replace him. But she was an articulate, forthright woman, with a high profile in the suffrage movement and strong debating experience. In the absence of a viable (male) alternative, she was put forward as a candidate and beat her only opponent by 13 votes.

Elizabeth’s mayoralty only lasted one year (elections were held annually at that time), despite her success implementing some important policies. She was responsible for liquidating the borough debt, upgrading roads, footpaths and sanitation, and reorganising the fire brigade. Not bad for a twelve month period in office.

But she was an unpopular leader; considered tactless, (with a) dictatorial manner and lack of regard for established rules of procedure.”

I can’t help wondering though, if a man displaying the same attributes might have been lauded as “direct, decisive and great at cutting through red tape.”

Elizabeth Yates née Oman was born in Caithness, Scotland c. 1845. She arrived in New Zealand as a child, and spent most of her life in Onehunga. She married Michael Yates in 1875. The couple had no children.

She was a passionate and vocal advocate for women’s suffrage, but unlike many suffragettes, was not involved in the temperance movement and did not support prohibition. She is reported as saying it would be a burning shame to rob the working man of his beer.

Although her mayoralty was brief, Elizabeth was elected back onto the Onehunga Borough Council between 1899 and 1901. Her husband died in 1902 and her life seems to have disintegrated somewhat after that. She suffered from alcoholism and dementia and spent the last nine years of her life in the Auckland Mental Hospital, dying on 6 September 1918.

I first learned about Elizabeth Yates when I began researching memorials to notable New Zealand women, inspired by Anabel at The Glasgow Gallivanter who regularly writes about women in Scotland’s history.

At the time, I could find nothing — no statue, street name or banknote portrait commemorating Elizabeth. So you’ll understand that I was quite delighted to find this mural in Onehunga. It is tucked away down a narrow side street, and I had to make several visits to get a shot of it without cars parked in the way, but at least it is some acknowledgement of a woman who was, I suspect, well ahead of her time.

If you would like to see Elizabeth Yates in action, here is a link to the NZ Film Archive Nga Taonga Sound & Vision which has a clip of her addressing a meeting. It’s the oldest complete piece of footage in NZ and the earliest that records a political event. Unfortunately, I can’t embed the footage but it’s a short clip and worth the click.

Once again, I’m grateful to Anabel for inspiring me to find out more about the women who have shaped history in my country as she does in hers. You might want to check out her post Women Make History if you haven’t already.







Teatime in the blogosphere


Soup and toast? Image: Su Leslie 2020

Wherever you are, and whatever is happening in your world, Kia ora koutou katoa  (Greetings. Hello to you all).

I’m glad you could join me for another virtual afternoon tea.

As we approach the shortest day here, the temperatures have dropped and it feels that winter has arrived. I know that for many of you, it is summer and you’re probably sweltering, but in keeping with my general policy of trying to eat local and seasonal, I’m afraid this month’s menu is very much about what’s available and good where I am.

So; soup anyone?

But because I’m not totally heartless, it is quite a light soup — fennel, squash and orange — easy to drink rather than eat. And it goes rather nicely with a little bit of toasted sourdough.

In the last couple of weeks, the majority of our Covid 19-related restrictions have been (at least temporarily) removed, and we’re getting used to hugging each other again. Equally exciting is that I’m able to invite friends over for a meal. And that’s how the soup came about.

It’s from a recipe in Yotam Ottolenghi’s Simple; but the first time I made it, neither T nor I particularly liked the sweetness of the rose harissa it used, and we both felt it needed a bit more acid. So I made it again, using plain harissa and replacing the onion with a bulb of fennel. And whereas Ottolenghi used only orange zest, I included the juice. This was partly for taste, and partly to make it a thinner, more drinkable soup.


Parmesan, rosemary and black pepper straws and some crunchy Granny Smith slices. Image: Su Leslie 2020

And if you’ve still got some left over after you’ve dunked the toast, I’ve made cheese straws. I’m not a dunker, and I prefer to eat them with some slices of crisp, tart apple, but that’s just me and I won’t judge if you do use them to, er, stir your soup.


Persimmon and ginger muffins. They taste better than they look! Image: Su Leslie 2020

Persimmons are also in season here, and I found a few recipes that use them in baking. I chose this muffin recipe because it also includes ginger (both powdered and crystallized).

The batter (made exactly according to the recipe) seemed a bit wet, and the muffins spread rather than rising in the oven, but they do taste good. At least good enough to serve now, and experiment with until I get the consistency right.

Perhaps because of the weather, it’s been a very indoorsy, introspective few weeks. It’s not that I don’t care about the violence and injustices happening all around the world; but I feel quite powerless and disheartened that after all these years and all the protests, very little seems to have changed.

So I’ve hunkered down; baked a lot of bread, made marmalade with the oranges on our tree and am preparing to make more, this time with grapefruit from the boy-child’s garden. I’ve worked in my garden, visited the library, and am currently enjoying the Documentary Edge Festival online. Last night I watched Saul and Ruby’s Holocaust Survivor Band — a joyously beautiful film about two men, both Holocaust survivors in their 90s, who make music as a way to celebrate life.

I think this quote sums it up:

This unique and compelling story is about having the courage to live one’s dreams, finding purpose and meaning in life, the transcendent power of music, the complex experience of aging, surviving trauma, the power of love and family, and speaking out against anti-Semitism and bigotry.

It could hardly be more timely.

Why a virtual tea party?

When Del (at CurlsnSkirls) and I started talking about a virtual tea party, we saw it as a fun way to share our love of food and conversation. It is that of course, but for me at least, it’s also an affirmation of how important you — my blogging whanau — are to me. Over the years you’ve shared your thoughts, stories, advice and support and I really would like to invite you all round to mine and cook for you.

But since that’s not going to happen anytime soon, I hope this will do instead.

The invitation

I’d love to hear from you. What are you doing/reading/making? Your thoughts on the food, the drinks, and whatever I’m rambling about. What’s making you happy or pissing you off?  Your comments make blogging so much more interesting.

And if you’d like to contribute a post of your own — even better. Maybe a shot of your cuppa and/or whatever you’re having with it. A recipe if you like.

I’ll update each of my posts with a ping-back to everyone’s in the same way as I do with The Changing Seasons.

#virtualteaparty2020 for anyone on Instagram who wants to post images (or video?)

A note about next month

I won’t be hosting a tea next month. It’s my dad’s birthday and — unless travel restrictions are re-introduced — I will be spending the middle of the month on a bit of a road-trip to visit him. Normal service will be resumed in August.


Janet at This, That and The Other Thing has baked some lovely, and healthy, doughnuts and is serving them on beautiful Imari ware. Pop over — it really is stunning (and the doughnuts look so good).

Ju-Lyn at All Things Bright and Beautiful has baked the most delicious apple pie — and shared her recipe. You have to check this out.

Sarah at Art Expedition has made a gorgeous raspberry cream shortcake. But be quick; raspberries seem to disappear when Sarah is around.

Tracy at Reflections of an Untidy Mind brings us banana cake and a beautiful mug made by an Australian ceramic artist.

Pop over to Irene at My Slice of Mexico for a lovely herbal infusion and to learn more about teas and tisanes.

Jo at Restless Jo is serving coffee and yummies on a beautiful tray decoupaged by  her daughter.

For an absolutely sensational afternoon tea  spread, you must visit Sheree at View from the Back

Like me, Suzanne from Life at No. 22 is living in New Zealand. She’s also made soup — cauliflower — and has shared her recipe. Oh, and there are muffins and blissballs too!!!

My co-host, Del at Curls n Skirls has made olive oil herb scones and her wacky cake (with recipe). Del will be hosting solo next month while I’m away so make sure you join her.









Film Friday: The Trip (2010)


Poster: The Trip, 2011. Directed by Michael Winterbottom, and based on BBC series of the same name.

Confession: I have a really loud laugh.

And yes, I know that can be very annoying in the cinema. I really can’t help it (or the sometimes-accompanying snort), but (thankfully?) I don’t often see films that really, really make me laugh.

The Trip is an exception. Fortunately, the people around me in the cinema thought so to, and I was largely drowned out.

The Trip is a foodie comedy road movie shot through with a sort of wistfulness that perhaps comes from the two lead actors playing versions of themselves. The film is constructed from edited-together footage from a BBC TV series in which the two — Steve Coogan and Rob Bryden — visit a series of restaurants in the north of England which Coogan has (for the purposes of the story) been commissioned to review for a national newspaper.

Despite this premise, and some lovingly shot scenes of restaurant kitchens, food very much takes a backseat in the film (assume you’re travelling in a bus — that sort of back seat).

Instead, the momentum and humour come from the interplay between the leads. Part friendship, part rivalry, their conversations and banter travel along a shifting boundary between their fictional and real selves. Both men are known as comic actors and gifted mimics, and it’s their mimicry that really brings the laughs.

Since The Trip, three more series and three more films have been made, with the pair travelling to different destinations in each. I have seen the second — The Trip, Italy — and found it funny although not significantly different to the original. I wonder if the third and fourth trips — to Spain and Greece — have found new territory to explore?

As actors playing actors in films that rely on naturalistic, possibly unscripted dialogue, most of the conversations are about the media. With that comes a sense that the audience is expected to be “in the know” — to be familiar with the people and films they talk about — indeed to be students of Coogan and Bryden’s own work. Without that knowledge, I doubt The Trip and it’s sequels would be nearly as funny.

So not a Top 100 movie, but one that has the power to make people laugh out loud. Right now, that’s no bad thing.

About Film Friday

Sarah at Art Expedition, and Darren, The Arty Plantsman have initiated this great new blogging project. You can find out more and see their chosen films for the week by visiting the latest post by Darren and Sarah.


Save the date: Thursday 18 June


Virtual Tea Party; an invitation

Yep, it’s that time again; a virtual afternoon tea to which everyone is invited.

The figs are finished, but I have lots of citrus on the trees, and the persimmons are good right now, so I’m sure they’ll make an appearance somewhere.

My tea-time will begin while lots of you are still asleep, but rest assured that in the blogosphere you can arrive at any time, there will always be plenty to eat, and tea never goes cold.