The Changing Seasons: November, 2017

Close up colour shot of Christmas-themed bags hanging from numbered pegs, forming part of a home-made Advent Calendar. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Detail: the Boy-Child’s Advent Calendar. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

November has been a month in which the phrase The Changing Seasons was particularly appropriate. The weather gods finally tired of delivering endless soggy grey skies, and the sun burst forth. The beach beckoned and the Big T and I managed to escape the city for a week on the Coromandel Peninsula.

Glass of white wine and glass of beer on table at Stoked cafe, Whitianga, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Time to relax. Pre-dinner drinks in Stoked cafe, Whitianga, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Even at the end of the week, under increasingly lowering skies, the smell of the sea and the feel of sand between our toes felt like blessings.

Clouds gathering over the tip of the Coromandel Peninsula, seen from the beach at Waitete Bay, north of Coromandel town. Image; Su Leslie, 2017

The end of the golden weather, Waitete Bay, Coromandel. NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Sunset. Boats moored at at Jack's Point, Whangarahei Stream, Coromandel town, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Sunset, Whangarahei Stream, from the boardwalk at Jacks Point, Coromandel town, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

November saw the beginning of locally-grown, affordable strawberries. As the month has progressed, plums and cherries have begun to appear too.

At the beginning of the month, I cooked my second meal to be delivered to the City Mission as a contribution to the daily opening of its doors to Auckland’s hungry. I’m doing this through an initiative called Mum’s Mince — started by two local woman and named after the first dish they cooked (based on a mother’s recipe for minced beef). Each month they post an empty calendar page on FaceBook and invite people to sign up to offer a contribution of food — however large or small — on a particular day. They can usually fill the calendar with at least one person’s name each day.

The Mission feeds an evening meal every day to as many as 120 people; not only the homeless, but increasingly those who simply cannot make ends meet. The demand only increases at this time of year, so all contributions are welcome. It’s such a small thing for us — and both the Big T and the boy-child have embraced the project with great enthusiasm too.

The month ended, as it always does, with me making the Boy-Child’s Advent Calendar. Now that he’s outgrown the Winnie the Pooh version my cousin made him (about, um, 15 years ago), I’m trying to re-invent the format to work in his flat. Hopefully 24 little envelopes pegged to a line and hung from a couple of removable hooks will do the trick.

Close up shot of white, red and green bags, decorated for Christmas and hung from numbered pegs. Part of an Advent Calendar. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Detail: the Boy-Child’s Advent Calendar. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

The Changing Seasons  is a blogging challenge hosted by Cardinal Guzman with two versions: the original (V1) which is purely photographic and the new version (V2) where you can allow yourself to be more artistic and post a painting, a recipe, a digital manipulation, or simply just one photo that you think represents the month.

These are the rules, but they’re not written in stone – you can always improvise, mix & match to suit your own liking:

The Changing Seasons V1:

Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery.
Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.

The Changing Seasons V2:

Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
Each month, post one photo (recipe, painting, drawing, whatever) that represents your interpretation of the month.
Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!

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The Changing Seasons, November 2016

Glass of strawberries flavoured with a little lemon jest and rosemary. Image: Su Leslie, 2016.

Strawberries flavoured with a little lemon jest and rosemary. Image: Su Leslie, 2016.

November is the beginning of strawberry season here. Proper, fat juicy local strawberries.

One of my earliest memories of summer in New Zealand involves going with my mother and brother to pick strawberries. The deal was you turned up with buckets or other containers, which were weighted on entry. You went out into the fields, picked as many berries as you wanted and paid for them an amount based on the difference in weight between the empty containers and the full ones. Luckily, they didn’t weight the pickers — especially the children.

Close up image of strawberries and rosemary stem. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Fresh, local strawberries. Yum. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

The site of that strawberry garden is now occupied by a school, but there are still some local producers and I think it is still possible to go and pick your own. These days, I’m content to buy them from my local green grocer — 2 punnets for $6 at the moment.

Strawberries don’t tend to last long enough to become ingredients in our household, but I am rather pleased with this little concoction:

I quartered berries, and sprinkled them with a little bit of sugar, which was mixed with lemon zest and few fresh rosemary leaves. I left them to absorb this bit of deliciousness before adding something creamy. I like plain yoghurt, but I suspect the boy-child and the Big T would prefer ice-cream.

I also sprinkled a few toasted almond slices on top, but if I’d been making this for dessert rather than breakfast, I might have made an almond praline with some of the rosemary-infused sugar. Next time perhaps.

Strawberries, yoghurt and sliced almonds in a glass. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Breakfast, or dessert? Image: Su Leslie, 2016

This post is my contribution to The Changing Seasons, a monthly challenge hosted by Cardinal Guzman. Please visit to see the Cardinal’s month, and find links to other participants.

There are two versions of the challenge:

Version 1 (The Changing Seasons V1):

Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery.
Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.

Version 2 (The Changing Seasons V2):

Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
Each month, post one photo (recipe, painting, drawing, whatever) that represents your interpretation of the month.
Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!